The McMillin Interiors team came together to create this serene living room on the LSU Lakes. Photo by Melissa Oivanki.

McMillin Interiors celebrates 30 years of timeless design

Bill McMillin. Photo courtesy Bill McMillin.

The past 30 years have come and gone, and with them has come a never-ending stream of styles, trends and people. Among all of the ups and downs Louisiana has seen over the past few decades, Bill McMillin and the design team at McMillin Interiors have continued to serve Baton Rouge residents with their passion for interior design. With 2019 being the firm’s 30th anniversary, we’re looking back at its growth along with the evolution of interior design in the South.

McMillin has been known for his English-inspired design style since launching McMillin Interiors. “Clients at that time loved the look of antique Persian carpets, beautiful window treatments, and hand-printed florals,” recalls McMillin. In contrast to the modern art we see now, landscapes and ship paintings by Rucker filled the homes of Louisiana residents. Bedrooms had wood poster beds, walls were painted in golds, reds and navy blues, and the house as a whole had a warm, cozy and comfortable feel to it, according to McMillin.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, antique French furniture grew in popularity in Baton Rouge. Needlepoint rugs began to take precedent over Persian carpets, and rooms had suites of French sofas and chairs in their parlors. “Antique olive jars by the front doors were a must, and confit jars were used as accessories,” says McMillin. Doing his best to stay loyal to the English antiques and interiors McMillin Interiors is known for, McMillin worked around these trends when he could. “I do think, as designers, we are supposed to work with what clients want,” adds McMillin.

When the Great Recession hit Baton Rouge, architecture and design were affected. “People wanted a cleaner look,” notes McMillin. Persian carpets were put away, walls were painted white, and French antiques were scarce. Instead of landscapes, modern abstract art made its way onto the walls, while kitchens were painted all white with marble and quartzite replacing granite. “McMillin Interiors has changed over the years for a cleaner look, but with our architecture and Southern tradition, I don’t see severe modern furniture working,” notes McMillin.

In his opinion, a combination of comfortable upholstery and neutrals mixed with accent chairs for interest often works best. Regardless of the theme of a home, McMillin Interiors designers have always used wallpaper where appropriate. “It gives character to some rooms that often paint can’t achieve,” says McMillin.

As times continue to change, there’s something about a traditional Louisiana home that’s hard to beat. “Our Southern heritage and architecture guide us to a timeless Louisiana style. It’s classic in design, furnishings, fabrics, art, rugs and accessories, and very comfortable for Louisiana,” says McMillin.

Timeless Louisiana homes typically never fail to have wood floors with a wonderful finish, traditional moldings, and often white trim and white ceilings, McMillin notes, adding that most rooms have one neutral color throughout with a few rooms, like a master bedroom or dining room, painted in a bolder hue. A nice rug is used to define the space with a large coffee table to be serviceable, but one that is different from the lamp tables. “All of this creates a nice Louisiana style comfortable for family and friends,” he says. “It’s not just about the TV. It’s creating a home for living, dining, and relaxing. A beautiful, classical, livable retreat.”

Three decades after it began, McMillin Interiors now has a larger staff and broader reach, but its mission has remained the same. Regardless of what the biggest trend is at the moment, McMillin acknowledges that good design is always good design. “I am very proud of McMillin Interiors, my staff, and of Baton Rouge for supporting us,” he says.

McMillin Interiors’ anniversary sale is March 8 and March 9. To see more of the firm’s work, check out this story and this story from the inRegister archives, or visit the company’s website.