Photo credit: Courtesy of Nina Nash Long

Photo credit: Courtesy of Nina Nash Long

From House Beautiful

Photo credit: VINAY PANJWANI

Photo credit: VINAY PANJWANI

For Nina Nash Long, an ideal afternoon might involve a pool chair and a stack of old shelter magazines. “You look at issues from the ‘80s and ‘90s and there’s so much that’s still good and relevant today—it’s proof that good design really does live forever,” says the Atlanta designer. “If you stick to classic pieces, you can’t go wrong.”

That pursuit of timelessness imbues every aspect of Long’s own work. For more than a decade, Long has worked hand-in-hand with respected Atlanta designer Don Easterling—first as his assistant, now as his partner at Easterling and Long—to craft spaces that are refreshingly classic: traditional but not stodgy, collected but not maximalist, pretty but not too perfect. “I think that doing traditional right is about creating a foundation with quality furnishings and then having fun with pattern and color and accessories,” says Long. “Sometimes, it’s just a matter of putting a new pair of lamps with funky fabric shades on top of an old wood buffet, and it completely changes things.”

To Long, the highest compliment to her and Easterling’s work is the number of clients who return for a refresh 10, even 20 or 30 years after an initial job. “We would rather have them buy something that’s going to last rather than something that’s trendy that’s going to fall apart or look outdated in a few years, and they appreciate that,” she says. “My work has definitely evolved, but even if I see a project that I did forever ago, I still feel proud of each one.”

Tell us…

What or who has made the biggest impact on your career so far?

Definitely Don Easterling—I started out as his assistant and now we’re partners. We are inseparable: We’ll spend five days a week working together, probably within 10 feet of each other, and then get in the car and call each other on the way home! His passion and overall knowledge of architecture and the design industry is something I could never learn in school. Don is just magnetic and there’s no one like him.

What sets your work apart?

That’s hard to say! I do what feels right to me—an instinctual feeling for color and space is what guides me most. It’s also all about the client and their desires: Everyone has their own sense of style, and it’s my job to pull that out and make it the best portrayal of them possible. I think that’s what sets my work apart—it’s real and not just a showpiece.

Who was your first design crush?

Kelly Wearstler. I remember studying her book and I thought she was just the coolest and prettiest ever. Personally, I never really lined up with her interior design style but could always (and still do) appreciate her unique aesthetic and raw talent. I still think she’s a badass!

For under $100—or even for free!—what decorating trick that has the most impact?

Paint! One of my favorite things to do is paint the whole room one saturated color from floor to ceiling, including all trim and window casing, because it adds impact like nothing else. Playing with the paint finish is also an easy way to up the style factor with some gloss or lacquer, even if it’s just on the ceiling for a glow.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I can’t decorate my own home to save my life! I literally agonize over every decision, then when I finally decide, I second guess myself. I’ve had 50 fabric swatches on my bed for weeks!

What’s your favorite…

Thing to collect: I’ve become a mini Don as the years go by and find myself slowly hoarding English landscapes and all things chinoiserie.

Design era/style: The Georgian period from about 1714-1830. So much happened during this time in Britain that influenced literature, architecture, art and interiors that we still see today.

Paint color: Can’t have just one! Recent favorites I’ve used are by Farrow & Ball—Green Smoke and Drop Cloth.

Online store: Chairish and 1st Dibs are great, and I love the linens and accessories from Carolina Irving and Daughters, India Amory and Amanda Lindroth.

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