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Julia Buckingham: From Stay at Home MOM to Interior Design Powerhouse

On this Episode of The Lounge, Nick sits down with Julia Buckingham of Buckingham ID in Chicago at The Public (formerly the Ambassador East). They are both in Chicago attending Neocon. The last time Nick and Julia talked was on an actual chaise lounge with Michel Boyd at the Atlanta Market. Julia currently lives in “Casa Lantana” in Pheonix, Arizona but her office is still in Chicago with her daughters. Her favorite fashion accessory is shoes and her favorite place to vacation is Marrakesh in Morocco, which she visited with the #blondesquad (interior designers Holly Phillips, Cathy Austin, Tami Ramsey, and Krista Nichols). The most moving traveling experience Julia has had though was getting the opportunity to visit the manufacturing plants and homes of the people who manufacture her products.

The Business Today

Julia is in the process of opening a Modernique boutique shop in Pheonix, Arizona. Her business in Chicago is booming as she guts homes while maintaining their historic integrity and architecture through renovations and add-ons. Her firm consists of 5 people and focuses a lot on business and operations. She has 3 designers plus herself, one operations manager, and one business manager. She and Nick can’t stress how important it is to have people to help run the business side of a firm. PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: Nick met a student attending an ASID event while in Chicago who was actually interested in working on the business side of interior design. So Megan, if you’re out there Julia would love to connect with you because business is what it’s all about. Message us to connect! 🙂


Amy Flurry’s art from her company paper-cut-project was installed by Julia for a client project in Chicago. Amy also recently asked Nick to talk about Internships on the show. So Nick asks Julia what she thinks:

Herrington School of Design was where Julia pooled her interns from before it closed. Having an intern was integral to Julia’s business. She herself has hired 3 interns over the past 10 years as a part of her design team. Interns understand that they are starting out at a level where they need to be open-minded and they embrace the tasks of an entry-level position. She does get resumes from students whose schools don’t require an internship program, but she knows it can be difficult to put time and motivation into an internship without receiving any credit or compensation. In her opinion, more schools should require an internship. Julia also has people who want to relocate to Chicago to intern for her, but it’s difficult to financially commit to their travels and rent expenses without knowing them.

With that being said, her firm has at least 2 interns every summer and if SHE has not hired them afterward herself, some of the most amazing firms of Chicago HAVE. Having the ability to intern for a firm is integral to the growth of design students and can lead to potential job opportunities. Julia also suggests reaching out to designers to ask questions and see if they will become your mentor. 5 years ago, Tiffany Brooks who won HGTV Designer of a year, asked to meet up with Julia because she was stuck and didn’t know how to have her own design firm. After they talked, Julia became her mentor and now she is rockin’ it in the design world. You can talk to and learn from designers, or even go in for a couple days to see what it is that they do and how much work it is.

Julia’s Story

10 years ago Julia was just a mom at the Jewel. She didn’t plan for a new career but she’d always loved shopping and collecting antiques. Julia and her husband have had 15 homes in 30 years of marriage and consider themselves “Cereal Flippers.” Her husband handles graphics, branding, and putting spaces together while she designs them. Their love language was/is working together on these projects. Then, someone walked up to her one day and asked to buy her home, (even though it wasn’t for sale), she sold it and began her next flip.

Soon enough Julia obtained her business license and an office space and found herself as one of the first people on 1st Dibs. She starting collecting antiques and creating an inventory, then began emptying out houses to fill the rooms with the pieces and it was all for sale! You could walk into a house and buy everything in the room. Next thing she knew, people started asking her to come to their homes to design for them.

Later, Julia began producing her own products and was introduced to David Gebhardt CEO of Global Views who liked her designs and wanted them all. She’s now entering into her 4th collection to be released in 2018 as their number two most successful licensing partner, behind Dwell Studio.


Licensing is a HOT topic right now. It’s all the rage for people who want to create something that is missing in the marketplace. Julia wasn’t seeing things that she wanted, like a colorful rug or a mid-century modern lamp, so she decided to create them herself. It is difficult to manufacture something on your own, so you have to align with a partner that sees your vision and allows you to be creative/stick with your brand. Authenticity to yourself and your brand is important because if it’s not, the products are not going to sell. “Make it exclusively yours,” Julia advises. You must be open-minded and willing to negotiate though because the ideas in your head might not work right when they come to life. To be successful is to be profitable and you get paid on what is sold.


What’s New?

Julia is stepping into hospitality. She put her mark on a resort outside of Scottsdale in Fountain Hills, Arizona. A life long dream of hers has been to create a boutique hotel. What’s different about hospitality? Well, the fabric of the hospitality industry is completely different compared to residential. It needs to be much more durable and safe. Imagine a family of 6 using a couch versus 6,000. There’s a lot more pressure when ordering pieces in higher quantities than just one like for a home. Julia designed the fitness center and had to consider the color of the of all the fitness equipment, including the handles and seats for 50 treadmills and ellipticals, instead of one.

Julia still mainly does residential though and is a part of every project done by her firm. Her curated team has finally allowed her to rest easily knowing if she misses a phone call or an email, someone is answering it for her with her ‘voice.’

Julia’s book Modernique is available on Amazon, Barns & Noble, and Target.

Nick and Julia talk color and their favorite Benjamin Moore paints. Her favorite colors are Gray Owl, Chantilly Lace, Stone Harbor, Balboa Mist, and Calm. Search for your perfect color here.

Learn more at www.buckinghamid.com.

Follow Nick on Instagram to see more pictures of him and Julia and his trip to Las Vegas Market – the live Episodes are coming soon or friend Nick on Facebook.


Porcelanosa‘s designers can connect you with potential job opportunities. They will help you connect with designers, potential clients, and firms as they understand the value of relationships. So go meet with your local reps or send Nick a message.

On this episode, Nick talked a lot about the business side of design and how important it is to find a coach or mentor. Gail Doby‘s is a great resource and has an event coming up at High Point Market. Kelli Ellis recently held mastermind group to discuss where people are getting stuck in their business so look out for her talks too. If you are looking for internship or to hire an intern please contact us!!! Use the Question? tab on the right hand side. If you’d like Nick to speak at your event about marketing or the podcast contact us as well.

  • Upcoming Events

Casual Market Sept 12 – 15

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on InstagramFacebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

About the Author
Host of The Chaise Lounge and The Business Brush Podcast, owner of Walls by Design, and Creative Director for iMayMedia LLC.

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