The Modsy design network is full of individuals with incredibly diverse backgrounds. Some are formally trained, some are self-taught, and many had established careers in a totally different industry before making their way into the world of interior design. (Kind of like some of our favorite interior designers outside of the Modsy world!) We want to introduce you to some of our talented designers—to help you get to know the people behind the screens!

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Today, we’d like to introduce Modsy designer, Shelly!

Shelly Sutton discovered the world of interior design as a teen and has had a ferocious passion for it ever since. She loves the way that color, texture, and natural elements can breathe life and balance into any room and believes that the best rooms are functional as well as beautiful.

Shelly is an innovative thinker and problem-solver who loves the diversity of both the design process and each design project (we’re lucky to have her on the team!). She enjoys taking time to understand her clients’ individual needs, making the design process simple and enjoyable for them.

We (virtually) sat down with Shelly to hear more about how she started her design career, the design tips she swears by, and where she finds inspiration.

living room blue couch baskets plant

Design by Shelly in Modsy 3D

How did you get into the interior design industry?

“I was 13 years old the first time I was really inspired by design. I went to a model home near our house that I grew up in,” says Shelly. “I remember loving everything I saw and really paying attention to the different furniture and textures.” She went back more than once because it made her so happy to see such beautiful, thoughtful design and it became a source of inspiration. “I would imagine it being mine, thinking through what changes I would make. I would go home and try to implement some of the design choices in my room.”

But beyond a personal love for interior design, Shelly also has a diverse background that informs her designs today. During undergrad, she started out as a psychology major, then she studied photography and graphic design at the Art Institute before finding her calling in interior design. “I went to the Harrington Institute of Interior Design and got my formal education there,” says Shelly.

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grey living room beige ottoman

One of Shelly’s stunning Modsy 3D designs

How did you find yourself at Modsy?

“I saw an opening for Modsy online and was intrigued by the whole idea of online interior design,” says Shelly. “It’s definitely the way of the future. Once I got the job and went through the training, I was blown away by the software. I was completely enthralled by the technology and approach Modsy takes to design.”

Shelly has worked at Modsy for the past two years and loves how she gets to blend art and science in her work. “Modsy is perfect because it brings together all of those different aspects I studied into one discipline,” says Shelly. (You might be surprised just how much overlap there is between psychology and interior design—in fact, there’s a whole field of study called environmental psychology!)

Shelly loves the work she does with clients through Modsy. “This work is definitely my passion,” says Shelly. “It doesn’t feel like work most of the time.”

A peek inside Shelly’s “timeless with a twist” living room

How would you describe your personal design style?

“I would consider my style timeless with a twist,” says Shelly. “I like spaces to have a bit of an edge.” She likes to combine unexpected elements, so she formally falls into the eclectic camp. “I love pairing modern elements with unexpected pieces—like, items you wouldn’t normally think would go together,” she says. “That unexpected layering adds so much soul to a space.”

dark grey dining room pattern rug

Shelly’s “dream room” designed in Modsy 3D

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Where do you get inspiration?

“I get really inspired by each of my clients,” says Shelly. She loves how each client’s project is so unique, and each person needs help solving a different problem through design. It gets her brain moving. “I enjoy being creative and helping provide solutions for them. That inspires me.”

“With one client, I was working on a space that was an 80s time warp with all these really quirky angles,” says Shelly. “The client wanted their room to become a zen, modern space. I had no idea how I was going to do it—but with some creative thinking, I was able to provide a solution that was what they were looking for.” She finds her creative spark in inspiration in meeting each client’s individual and unique project needs.

“It’s humbling to be able to solve problems for customers because that’s what they’re coming to Modsy for!”

Another of Shelly’s Modsy 3D designs

Do you have a favorite design era or movement?

“One of my favorites is the Modernist Bauhaus movement,” says Shelly. “I learned about it in design school and that was the era that really inspired me to get into design myself. In Bauhaus, there’s a ‘less is more’ concept that I really enjoy. They were so ahead of their time. If you look back at the styles they were creating in the 1920s, they are actually so current today—they’re more in-style today than they were back then!”

What is the secret ingredient that you think makes a good design into a great one?

“Layering textures and materials helps add so much dimension to a space,” says Shelly. “I love playing with different textures and patterns.”

contemporary dining room design with a glass table and black shell dining chairs

One of Shelly’s 3D Modsy designs

What are the 3 design tips you swear by?

  1. Pick a good paint color. Color is one of the most important design elements in a room. It can really make or break a space. And painting is one of the most cost-effective ways to design. You can completely transform a room just by choosing a new wall color or painting kitchen cabinets.
  2. Layer your lighting. Lighting is also really important—layered lighting, especially! Like paint, it can also make or break a space. You can have a beautiful design, but if the lighting isn’t right, the room won’t look as good as it could!
  3. Include some natural elements. I try to always add some sort of natural element to any space I design. That helps a space feel grounded and adds warmth. If you have a stark, modern room, simply adding a piece of driftwood adds character and soul to the room.

The Cullen’s Home in Twilight

What interior from a movie or TV show would you live in if you could?

“Don’t laugh! But my daughter was a major fan of the Twilight series, and I love the Hoke house, which is the house where the vampires, (AKA the Cullen family), lived. So, that’s what I liked about the movies! This house was so cool—it was cantilevered over a ravine and had all these floor-to-ceiling windows that highlighted this magnificent view. Some of the materials were kind of industrial, but it complimented the wooded surroundings so well. It was like a modern treehouse in the woods. It must be so beautiful in the fall!”

What’s your interior design pet peeve?

“Recliner sectionals. I shudder when people say they want to bring them into their designs. No offense—they’re just not for me!”

Shelly enjoying a much-deserved vacation in Thailand

What’s your favorite place to vacation?

“Any place with a beach! We went to Thailand a few years ago and I loved that. I’m kicking myself because we were so close to Bali and I didn’t go. Bali is definitely on my bucket list! I would really love to go there someday. But really, anywhere with a beach will do!”

What’s the last book you read and enjoyed?

“‘The Celestine Prophecy.’ It was given to me by my dad, I read it and it was really enlightening. I think every time you read it, you pick up something new, so I might actually read it again!”

What’s a fun fact about you?

“I love to wrap presents! I love crafting and being creative, but I especially love when I’m wrapping presents and giving gifts. People say they’re so beautiful they don’t want to open them!”

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