Name: Austin Montgomery Williams
Family: I am originally from Mississippi; each of my grandparents was successful – one owned Montgomery Fair department stores, and the Williams side had one of the largest logging companies in the South.
Years in the Golden Isles: Six and one-half.
School: University of Southern Mississippi
Occupation: Interior designer
A favorite landmark in the Golden Isles: My favorite landmark here on St. Simons Island is right by my home. History presents itself with the beautiful trees, water, wildlife, beautiful and inspirational sunsets, and the slave cabins that show the unfortunate history of the park and how far we have come as people. I love to visit the gardens as they are so tranquil on my soul and allow me to reflect. For sure, a great place to recharge and enjoy the peace the park offers. My favorite restaurant is Sago at Sea Palms, my husband of 10 years, Johnny Carino, is a well-known chef and the namesake of Johnny Carino Italian Restaurants, and he is the chief culinary officer there.
Describe a perfect Saturday for you and your family: A perfect Saturday would be a sunny day with my husband, Johnny. We would take our two rescue dogs, Gucci and Scooby-Doo, to the beach and spend some time outside. The “kids” love to go into the ocean and play Frisbee, and it allows us to be part of the beach and provides breathtaking pictures and videos.
How would you describe your style? My style is always evolving, and my main love is a home with some very traditional architectural elements. I then add contemporary and modern pieces from flooring and lighting to mixing different furniture styles to create a juxtaposition between something like an antique to a very stylish lamp on top. I draw inspiration from almost every design style and appreciate them all in some form.
Out of all the services you offer, what are a couple you always enjoy designing? My favorite services would be taking a home that is not very functional with the layout and creating a new practical look. I love seeing a family light up once they see the makeover and transforming their home into a productive and gorgeous space. Sometimes these projects are not the biggest budgets by any means, but to help transform a family’s daily life can help them feel better about their space, and that gives me immense satisfaction. My second favorite is taking a shell of a house and transforming it entirely without changing the original architecture too much to retain the charm and history of the property.
What has been one of your favorite design projects you have worked on? I’m always looking ahead, and my favorite project would be the one I have not yet started. I find when starting a new project your creativity is limitless, and that is when the magic can happen to transform this project into something that meets the client’s needs while creating a space that reflects the owner’s style and personality.
Tell us about how you started your career as an Interior designer: As a kid, I was obsessed with anything design-related, from landscaping to clothing and household items. I discovered my true love of interior design at a very early age, and as I recall, I was around 7-8. I would go to my grandmother’s home and arrange her furniture, lamps, and each time I was with her, making her very happy. Over the years, I became obsessed and would read interior design books and magazines to learn. Since Instagram and Pinterest are the main places people go for inspiration, and you find so many talented people on those platforms, I would view them. However, I found that many of the images start looking the same. Now I love to read interior design coffee table books for inspiration, speak with my clients and design friends, to push the envelope on what I do from a design standpoint for my clients. My established clients enjoy being part of the design process. My designs are not generic; they are tailored to every client who meets with me and then hires me. I always listen to current or prospective clients, and I have them go through magazines, travel with me to design stores and pick out things they love. The design process is so personal, and my clients are always thrilled to be part of every step. In the end, my goal is to help the client expand horizons, make it personal for them and allow them to love the final design. My clients always tell me the end product truly stands out from friends who have also used designers as they are very involved, and I listen. My favorite designers are Victoria Hagan, Kelly Wearstler, Mark Sikes, and so many more. Our home has many custom pieces from Lee Industries, Hickory Chair, Kelly Wearstler by Visual Comfort, and many more. I mix transitional with traditional and modern elements. I’ve just worked with an outside local company to redefine our backyard into a tailored oasis. I was accepted to SCAD in 2009 to finish my interior design degree; however, due to my parents divorcing and my dad leaving, I worked hard to support my mom and dropped out. My mom followed her dreams and started getting additional degrees on top of an RN degree in nursing, and I followed my plan to leave Mississippi and start my life at 18. Moving to Dallas, Texas, I went to work as a manager for the hair care company Aveda. I oversaw their retail storefronts and enjoyed retail design for four years. We moved to Atlanta in 2013, and I was featured in the AJC newspaper home section with Johnny for the four-story home we built. The newspaper came out, and I had six color pages of how and why I did what I did. My design career, followed by my business, had begun.