MH+D Inside Out: Emily Ennis Mattei Designs for How We Live Now

Emily Ennis Mattei, the owner of e4 Interior Design, knows that the design of a space must work for the people who live there. To offer the best design solutions, Mattei comes to understand how her clients live, intimate details and all. Read on for her interview with Maine Home+Design.

Q. What’s your method for understanding how a client lives?

A. When you first start working with someone you get to ask questions, not only about how they live, but also about how they make decisions. I’m trying to help them draw out what they like and what they’re going to be comfortable living with. It’s about giving them the tools to get what they want in the end. It’s a fun puzzle because everyone is so different.

Q. What’s the most awkward question you ask during these interviews?

A. On multiple occasions I’ve had to say to couples, “So, I’m just going to ask. Do you share the bathroom or the shower?” In one of my first design experiences, I was doing a bunch of bathrooms on Nantucket for this couple. After looking at the plans I had drafted, this man told me, “I need a bigger shower than that. I’ve got this beautiful partner I’m going to shower with.” They wanted to take showers together for as long as they lived. Even in the most intimate spaces, like the bathroom, you have to learn how people live.

Q. What do you think the future of design will look like?

A. I think both life and design come down to quality in a lot of ways. If you live in Maine, you’re here for the quality of life, and if you’re a vacationer, you’re here for the quality of your vacation. I hope that this idea continues to translate to the quality of interior space and the knowledge that sometimes good quality isn’t going to be the most immediately gratifying.

Q. Who is your ideal client?

A. My ideal client is a family that is loving their space and living in it, too.

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