Joanne M. Larman on the Beauty of Functionality

Photo: Randolph Ashey Photography
Photo: Randolph Ashey Photography

“We live more casually now than we used to,” says interior designer Joanne M. Larman. “People seem to have become more family focused than in the past, and we want our houses to be family friendly as well.” The name of Larman’s design company, JML Casual Home Design, reflects this cultural shift. For our MH+D Inside Out series, she defines a beautiful space as functional and comfortable, rather than aspirational.

Q. How did you get into this?

A. After about 14 years in the catalog industry and corporate world, I decided to open a small home furnishing store in Falmouth. I had that for four years, and I began to do interior design based in my shop. As an interior designer, I was self-taught. I’ve always been more of an entrepreneur. That had just been my route in life. The store was great for launching a design business, and it’s been almost 18 years now that I’ve been working as an interior designer.

Q. How would you describe your design philosophy now?

A. I think that my main goal is to create functional, beautiful spaces that adapt to my clients’ lifestyles.

Q. What do you think is beautiful?

A. Comfortable. Casual. For me, the most important aspects of a beautiful space are comfortable furniture and fabrics that are easy to take care of. That’s what beautiful is to me.

Q. What else is essential to the way you design?

A. Creating the color palette in a home is like a making a beautiful piece of artwork. You choose colors that make up a beautiful tapestry and then create a space where those colors all flow together. I put more neutrals in the living space, but I also bring in artwork, colorful rugs, and accents that all tie together and flow from room to room.

Q. You also specialize in downsizing. Why is that important?

A. A lot of people are coming to Maine from out of state to buy smaller second homes, condos, or retirement homes. Even Maine residents that have had family homes here are deciding to move to downtown Portland once their kids are gone for a more urban experience. People are overwhelmed with the process of downsizing, and so I can help walk them through it. I furnish their new spaces with a look that reflects their lifestyle.

Q. What ultimate satisfaction do you get from your projects?

A. If it represents my clients’ style, I feel really good. That means I’ve been able to get into the client’s head and visualize for them what they’re not able to visualize, and I’ve created a space based on their needs. That’s the greatest satisfaction I get from what I do.