Elaine Griffin began her design career in the Manhattan office of architectural behemoth Peter Marino, following a nine-year career as a publicist in New York and Paris, and officially opened her eponymous firm in 1999. “My work as a decorator aims to implement a refined version of the client’s own vision for his space, whatever the look, feeling, or style— coastal, classic, contemporary, minimalist or antique. My singular goal for every project I undertake is to create warm, elegant, and effortless-looking interiors that look like the people who live in them. Rooms should seem to have naturally evolved over time; I design layered, richly-textured spaces, whether casual or more formal, that are a delight to behold and be in,” she says.
“A person’s home— what it looks like, where it is, how it’s lived in— reveals more about him than anything else in the world,” Griffin continues. “Think about it: it’s not until we cross their thresholds that we learn that most hoarders have a problem. Change a person’s environment, and you change his life. My design theory: Your home should reflect who you are— where you’re from, where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. You are the soul of every room in your house.”
A daughter of the Deep South, Elaine is a third-generation trailblazer and soared as one of the most-visible African-American designers in the country in broadcast and print media. As the contributing editor, design, for Better Homes & Gardens, her makeovers were the magazine’s second-most popular feature (bested only by color stories), and served to inspire readers’ own rooms nationally. She brought style, comfort and creativity to charitable organizations’ spaces through her eleven Good Works Makeovers for Oprah’s O at Home.
Elaine was the first African-American contributing editor at Elle Décor, was ranked as one of House Beautiful’s Top 100 American Designers, and in 2003, became the first room designer of color in the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. Her 2006 solo Georgia showhouse for Southern Accents magazine – a career trophy for Southern designers – remains the only one produced by an African-American decorator.
Elaine inspired America regularly in design and entertaining segments on morning television nationally, including the Today show, and was a cast member and third-place winner of NBC’s 2014 primetime design competition reality show, American Dream Builders, hosted by Nate Berkus.
Her 2009 bestselling book, Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator, published by Gotham Books, remains a leading compendium of the rules, principles and proportions that define well-designed spaces and make them look great. Design Rules has become a go-to reference book in America, China and Russia, establishing Elaine as the quotable home design eminence grise for every style, price point and demographic, and her insider’s tips and expertise appear regularly in print.
Elaine holds the distinction of being the first African-American recipient of the New York School of Interior Design’s highest accolade, their honorary doctorate, awarded to her in May 2019 following her keynote speech to the school’s graduating class. Elaine is a graduate of Yale University (B.A., Art History) and studied at the New York School of Interior Design. She and her rescue kitties recently returned to the Coastal Georgia of her childhood to spend time with her mother.