If you’ve ever wanted to hear home tips from the experts, Markay Gallery helped interested residents do just that. Recently, the downtown Marietta gallery held its first Luminaries of Art & Design panel featuring five interior design, home building, and art professionals.

The goal of the intimate gathering was to share information from the experts for the purposes of helping homeowners learn to beautify, simplify and redefine their homes.

Christen Fountain, the gallery’s sales and marketing coordinator hosted the panel, which featured insight from owner Amber Markay Byrd. Featured speakers were: Chris Lafaive, of Rezide Properties; Cassandra Buckalew, of Cassandra Buckalew Interiors; Lori May, of Lori May Interiors and artists Stacy Milburn and Mary Jane Huegel. Check out their tips for refreshing your space.

Chris Lafaive | Rezide Properties


Rezide Properties Home Builder Chris Lafaive discusses interior design and home design during the Luminary Panel Discussion at Markay Gallery. Katherine Frye

Chris, whose business is primarily in the downtown Woodstock area, spoke on innovative home designs saying high-density is the wave of the future. Future homeowners should get used to not having large front and backyards, and look toward a more downtown living situation. Also on the horizon for home design are C-shaped homes that make way for a private courtyard — helpful when there isn’t sufficient yard space.

To maximize space when moving from an expansive estate to a downtown spot, homeowners should create smart storage. Chris said focusing the master on the main and downsizing items in the home are key.

“I try to talk with clients on bringing only things with sentimental value with them,” he said.

Cassandra Buckalew | Cassandra Buckalew Interiors


From left, Luminary Panel Discussion member Lori May looks on as Cassandra Buckalew explains the color wheel and painting with complementary colors. Katherine Frye

Working in residential and commercial interior design, Cassandra said budgets are one of the most important first steps clients need to take. For residential, it’s important to set a budget so clients can get a grasp on what needs to stay and what they can acquire for the design. And in commercial spaces, every decision can have a financial impact. Depending on what design changes are done, they can immediately impact how customers react to a space.

When discussing popular colors, she said neutrals were still the way to go. But she just so happened to have a color wheel in tow and gave an expert lesson on color combinations. Cassandra urged the guests not to be afraid of color. One tip is to use varying shades of the same color to help give the space a bit more distinction.

Lori May | Lori May Interiors


Luminary Panel Discussion member Lori May discusses interior design trends. Katherine Frye

Life changes can dictate how a homeowner goes about redefining a space, according to Lori. With her clients, it’s all about function first. She stressed changing out artwork and textiles to create a completely different room. These are changes homeowners can even do seasonally.

As for design, Lori said an emphasis on client-driven design is the biggest trend.

“The trend to me is what my client wants,” she said. “It’s about what you all want in your homes.”

By valuing and listening to clients, Lori said designers can help shape a client’s true style while also keeping the integrity of their home.

Mary Jane Huegel | Artist

Coming from an artist family, Mary Jane’s main priority is to bring beauty into people’s’ lives and to paint in the spirit of love. She primarily uses oils in her work and said homeowners can make any space a statement space by featuring art.

“You can hang art everywhere,” said Mary Jane.

Paintings can speak to any style and purpose of a room. If a homeowner wants to invoke the feeling of tranquility, there’s a piece of art for that. Same goes for if they want to bring love and joy into a space. Art, said Mary Jane, can speak to all emotions.

Amber Markay Byrd | Markay Gallery

Amber was once an assistant to Lori and has a keen eye for design and art. Markay Gallery is one of the few spaces where every single piece in-house is artist made. Everything from the desk, tables and chairs, artwork, stair railing and more.

By housing all of this work, it gives Amber a unique chance to meet artists from all over, whose work many homeowners may have never heard of before, she said. A gallery such as this is a great place for inspiration for design and can help homeowners and designers find pieces that are truly artistic.

Stacy Milburn | Artist


Panelist Stacy Milburn (center) displays a sample of her reflective art during the Luminary Panel Discussion at Markay Gallery in Marietta. Katherine Frye

Stacy has carved out a unique place for herself in the art world. She is a mirror artist and has created pieces that have been used as backsplashes, fireplace elements and as a way to add height to a room. She urges homeowners not to be afraid of mirrors as artistic and design pieces for their homes.

“It’s a beautiful way to double the light,” said Stacy.

In the piece shown, Stacy displays an example of mirror photography — another way to add an artistic flair to any space. The process in which she achieves the look gives a nostalgic tone to any mirrored surface.


LaTria Garnigan is the Magazine Coordinator for Cobb Life. She has more than 10 years of experience editing newspapers and magazines. When she's not working, she enjoys trying out new recipes, traveling and binge-watching and live-tweeting TV shows.

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