Hot New Talent- Michelle Miller

Balancing Act

In Michelle Miller’s former row house in Baltimore’s Federal Hill, the designer topped a cowhide rug with a classic modern Saarinen table. Photo by Chris Jacobs

Hot New Talent – Balancing Act

Michelle Miller, Jenkins Baer Associates; Baltimore, Maryland

When she was growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Michelle Miller loved to rearrange the furniture in her bedroom. “I watched as my mother created unique spaces, playing with color and proportion and soon I began testing my ideas in my own space,” she recalls. “I would change the wall colors and make my own floral arrangements. I did someone’s powder room when I was in high school. It turned out really well.”

It was a hobby that would one day become a profession. After earning a degree in fine arts from the University of New Mexico, Miller traveled east with a friend and wound up earning a second degree in interior design at the Community College of Baltimore County. The enterprising student also invested $500 in the opening of her own antique store near Ellicott City and kept busy buying and selling her wares at weekend shows. After finishing design school and landing a job with Jenkins Baer as an associate designer, she recalls, “I had to let the antique store go. There was no way I could do both. But I do go antiquing for myself; I have a little storage locker. Hopefully, someday, I might be able to do it again.”

Though she encourages clients to blend unique antiques into their homes, Miller characterizes the bulk of her work as contemporary. “I like to do traditional interiors, but my passion is more modern,” she says. Her expertise lies in weaving classic elements into her work.

She is currently working on a project in Potomac, balancing a very traditional home with her client’s modern style. Miller is creating this balance through the use of transitional furnishings such as a Christian Liaigre dining table and custom millwork that she designed in collaboration with Marishka Bachman, a colleague at the 30-person firm.

She is also working on a new home in Ruxton, Maryland, for a client who moved to the area from New Orleans. Miller has supplemented the homeowner’s antique collection with simple and refined square-armed chaises upholstered in champagne linen, pale blue eel-skin ottomans and a cream-colored wool flokati rug.

“I think the process of creating an environment personally and professionally is the most challenging and rewarding profession,” she says. “One of the favorite parts of my job is watching the client see their home for the first time in a new way—I love making people comfortable and happy in their homes.”

She painted the living room a deep, buttery brown, which “helped expand the whole space.” Photo by Chris Jacobs

In a home in Stevenson, Maryland, Miller selected leather dining chairs by Lee Industries and a table by Bollier.

She helped her clients find artwork to create a bold statement in the living room.