CRAFTING PERSONAL SPACES
Stacks of torn magazine pages sit in front of Liz Robb and her team in their studio workroom outside Gallatin Gateway. With images circled and notes scribbled in the margins, they mentally draw connections between the pieces of initial inspiration sent by their client, reading the photos before them like tea leaves of future design. Piles of photos are how most interior design projects begin. Design, after all, is an industry driven by current trends on glossy pages and Instagram feeds. Liz, however, is keenly aware that those images are of someone else’s home, and the core of her work is translating what looks pretty on a page to what is personal and lasting in her clients’ homes.
“With even just a dozen photos pulled from magazines, we can start to grasp what a client wants to see in their home, but that’s just a starting point,” Liz says. The more informative work for Liz and her team of five design professionals, including Dana Talbot, Katie Monnin, Abby Ross, and Kiyomi Bramlette, is getting to know clients beyond their favorite colors and floor plans, while building trust and collaboration in the process. Liz says, “Our goal is to take what a client gives us—their ideas, inspiration, personalities—and reflect that back through spaces that feel authentically theirs.”
“If a design choice is too far out of a homeowner’s comfort zone, it will never feel truly theirs.”
–Liz Robb, Founder,
Elizabeth Robb Interiors
Design collaboration typically begins with the fixed finishes of homes, and Liz wastes no time creating cohesive, whole-home presentations for her clients. “When it comes to fixed finishes—flooring, walls, tile, cabinetry, fixtures—we put the entire home together at once because those finishes will be experienced as a whole.” With nearly every surface of their design library covered, each table representing a room, Liz walks clients through the imagined front door of their home, guiding them room by room through the house. The studio’s extensive rendering capabilities add to this conversation, giving homeowners a sense of scale and space as they relate to the materials in the presentation. With that initial magazine page or Instagram photo placed next to the presentation materials, clients can see the transformation from an inspirational idea into an original design in their project. After this hands-on presentation, Liz says, “While we may have a few options to narrow down and fine-tune, we typically leave that meeting with most all of the home’s finishes selected.”
The presentation stage of interior design is all about feeling, both the overall feeling the home exudes and physically interacting with every product sample laid out in front of clients. As Liz relates, “While an amazing video rendering may give homeowners a sense of the space, I think interiors work will always rely upon a person getting to touch the tile, upholstery, or whatever they are considering. It is a tactile process.” The delivery of their design, textured and thoughtfully layered, is a continuation of that tactile importance. In Liz’s eye, every surface is an opportunity to create interest. “We build layers through the construction of the home, not just with furniture and accessories. The wall itself can be interesting without relying solely on the artwork hung on it to create a focal point,” Liz says.
For instance, Liz and the team furnished a re-stacked log cabin turned guest quarters at a ranch property north of Bozeman. The existing hand-hewn, weathered log walls created the canvas upon which the Robb team added layers of reclaimed materials and tribal print textiles. Playing against those rustic elements are stained concrete floors and furniture with clean lines and neutral tones. The result is a muted palette made warmer and richer with each added surface.
When it comes to risk-taking in design, Liz’s philosophy is never to push concepts but rather pull her clients toward compelling design that works for their lifestyles. She explains, “If a design choice is too far out of a homeowner’s comfort zone, it will never feel truly theirs.” Instead, the Robb team listens to the small details that emerge in conversations with clients—a favorite trip, piece of art, family memory. Liz says, “Sometimes those details create opportunities to do something innovative, so we try to pull those into our design whenever we can. When the homeowner has personally connected a design element, it feels less like taking a risk and more like ownership of something special.” Often, she hears that those statement spaces end up resonating most with her clients.
“We’re a high-end design studio, but we don’t believe high-end needs to feel ostentatious. I think people are drawn to Montana for the natural beauty, but also for the warmth and approachability of the people who live here.”
–Liz Robb, Founder, Elizabeth Robb Interiors
In a Black Bull home, statement-making comes in the form of a delicate crystal chandelier paired with a modern table. The house has contemporary, Montana-inspired finishes throughout, but the homeowners lived in Paris for a time, where they acquired an antique empire-style Baccarat chandelier. While the opulence of a chandelier might seem incongruent with a mountain-view golf course home, Liz and the team were persuasive in placing the light fixture in the dining room above a more masculine-feeling custom iron and wood table from local furniture maker Brandner Design. The chandelier and the adjacent painting, also from France, elegantly balance the otherwise modern space and provide a touchpoint to the life story of the homeowners. Liz says of the unexpected pairing, “Lighting is a place where you can reach a new level of style, and the mix of elements in this room makes a statement that really represents the couple.”
Whether it’s an eye-catching chandelier or a cozy window seat that calls out for a cat nap, creating special moments within a home means curating details that amplify the lived experience. All those details, however, require exacting coordination. Interior projects live and die in the management of hundreds of elements. With over 20 years of experience in juggling moving parts, the Robb team has mastered keeping all those design balls in the air. For this, Liz credits fellow designer Dana Talbot’s years of fine-tuning their project management, saying, “Together, we’ve built advanced systems to keep the process moving, making sure all of the pieces arrive on budget and on time for installation. It’s not the flashy part of interior design, but it’s equally important, and our team thrives on all those details.”
From inspiration to presentation to installation, Elizabeth Robb Interiors delivers upscale design in true Montana style; during the process, Liz and her team are more than happy to talk horses or black diamond ski runs between fabric swatches. Liz sees that personal, laid-back connection to clients as integral to their design success. She says, “We’re a high-end design studio, but we don’t believe high-end needs to feel ostentatious. I think people are drawn to Montana for the natural beauty, but also for the warmth and approachability of the people who live here.” Elizabeth Robb Interiors brings that sum of sophistication and warmth to the design table and into their clients’ homes.