It’s 2021, we all need a bit of a “refresh” in our lives.  Meet Marla Mullen of Marla Design Group. The interior decorator, custom furniture designer, and curator of heirlooms shares her insights into 2021 color trends and how you can update a space on a budget. 

1. It’s a new year! New years bring new trends. What colors will we see splashed around 2021?

M.M. Yes, a New Year – thank goodness! I think we could all use a fresh start. With this energy of “new beginnings,” I predict a departure from the all white and grey interior trends and an introduction of bold colors, especially in the blue family. 

I also think what we once considered riskier colors, like purple or green, will make a more dominant appearance in fabrics and rugs. I also foresee continued momentum with the use of wallpapers as a vehicle for fun patterns and colors.

2. With so many spending more time at home, there’s been a boom in the home improvement industry. When a client wants to “freshen up” a space without a complete overhaul, what do you recommend as an easy fix?

M.M. A boom indeed! Homeowners spent an unprecedented amount of time in their homes in 2020, especially the kitchen. Two easy fixes in this room would be paint and hardware. Paint is a more cost-efficient way to spruce up outdated cabinetry versus a complete replacement. Take it a step further and swap all of the hardware and Whala! You have an updated style.

Marla Design Group
Kitchen Design by Marla Design Group

3. Your design group, Marla Design Group, has a love for heirlooms and antiques. How do you match a piece to a space/ client

M.M. Yes, if possible, every area should have an heirloom or antique incorporated into the design. Good interior design should feel like a journey as you walk through the space, and I think antiques help achieve this by giving it depth.

Believe it or not, vintage works in all interior styles, even modern and minimalist. The juxtaposition makes the space exciting because more often than not a fun piece of folk art is a great conversation starter.

Custom bed by Marla Design Group

The first stage of design with a client is the discovery process, which includes many conversations to learn about how they live and their vision, plus an exchange of inspirational images. Typically this is the stage where I get an idea of what type of vintage/antique piece would work well in their home. I then begin to source some fun options and add to design boards mixed with modern-made furniture and see what sticks.

Boston has so many beautiful structures. Do you have a favorite Boston building?

M.M. I am a sucker for the classics, so the Brownstones in the South End with all original front staircases and the large grand-dames in the Back Bay are my favorites. I also love the converted carriage houses in Beacon Hill. To me, this type of architecture is stunning, full of character, and timeless. Plus, it is true, “They don’t build them like they used to!”

5. What do you love most about your job at Marla Design Group?

M.M. I love meeting new people and the challenge of creating a space that speaks to each individual or family. Usually, the challenge yields taking fun risks and amazing results!

This interview originally appeared in The Mazer Group’s Luxury Listings Newsletter. For more stories like this and great real estate eye candy, subscribe to