The Designer Spotlight: MA Allen

We are excited to introduce our Designer Spotlight series, where we chat with some of the interior designers who inspire us the most.

First up: MA Allen! 

MA Allen

Recognized this year as one of House Beautiful's 2020 Next Wave Designers, MA has made a splash in the interior design world. Her use of vibrant color, eclectic accents, and her ability to tie rooms together with both modern and traditional pieces makes her stand out among the crowd. MA's firm is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and she has three adorable kids, loves to cook, and inspires us daily with her disciplined exercise routines.

What is the most inspiring place you have ever visited? I love Southeast Asia - Vietnam, particularly Hanoi, is so culturally rich - inspiration abounds at every corner. 

Where do you find inspiration for your design projects? Travel is a huge source of inspiration for me which makes this current situation challenging on a whole other level. 

You recently moved into your new home, and you have been documenting the renovation process through your IGTV series, "Lakestone Love." What was your inspiration behind Lakestone Love and what has been your favorite room to work on? 

My family has been my main inspiration behind this project, mixed with inspiration from travel. There is evidence of inspiration from Paris throughout, as we traveled there shortly after we closed on Lakestone. Every inch has been designed for our personalities, how we live, what makes us happy, weaving in heirlooms with vintage collections and bold prints and letting it all tell our story. It feels like each room is still a work in progress and each has been a joy to design. The Ladies Lounge was always a favorite for me in the design process. And it’s where I have spent hours on video calls and design work each day. 

One tip to first time home owners on a budget? Make a splash with paint. It’s the most cost effective way to make maximum impact. If you don’t have the patience to do a whole room, paint your interior doors for an unexpected touch. 

Quick-Fix to any room to add some pizazz? Add a custom lampshade in a fun print fabric. 

Advice for keeping a routine during COVID-19? Keeping a routine is the only thing that has kept me sane. I wake up at the same time every morning, work out first thing in my home gym instead of studio fitness places, get dressed, and make the bed! Any days I’ve had during quarantine that have felt off were those when I didn’t start my day off right. I have to get it right in the morning. 

One easy home improvement project to focus on while at home?  How can I name only one? There are so many! Without spending a dime, you can invest your own time into polishing door hardware. My secret weapon is a common Worcestershire sauce from the grocery to bring a sheen back to brass. You can also remove paint covered hinges and strip the paint to lovingly restore their shiny metal finish. 

Something positive that has happened during this trying time? It’s been uplifting to see how communities and people have come together to support each other. Small businesses are banding together. People are connecting more. I think these are connections that will persist. 

Favorite Recipe? I love to cook so spending time in the kitchen is not much of a change for me.  With less time than normal, as I balance, work and homeschooling, I am really loving any one bowl meal that I can sell my family on. This chopped salad bowl is one of them with Green Goddess Dressing adapted from It’s All Good. It’s hearty and filling and satisfying for everyone. 

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing adapted from It’s All Good 

2/3 cup of vegan yogurt (Check for no added sugars! We like forager cashew yogurt) 

1/4 cup picked cilantro 2 scallions, chopped 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice 

1 jalapeño, seeds removed (seeds are what make it overly spicy!)

1/3 cup EVOO 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 T raw honey 


You can use this dressing on nearly any salad but I like to pair it with chopped romaine, cilantro, sliced radishes, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, black beans, and toasted pepita seeds. It makes for an easy one bowl meal that’s filling and satisfying. Siete almond flour tortilla chips on the side or broken over the top if you want to add some crunch. 

This recipe makes plenty for the salad and leaves extra which saves well in the fridge for about a week. The kids love it as a dip for veggies.

Favorite Movie? Sadly, I feel like I never have time, but I’m quick to jump into a new Netflix series. Most recently, Outer Banks, which is by far one of the worst television show I have ever subjected myself to. It’s focused on North Carolina, so keeps me interested, but I never would have watched before COVID-19. 

MA designed her daughter's room with twin Crown Beds. She picked The Kate in Italian Blend Caribbean Blue with Italian Blend Grape piping. Here is her inspiration behind Lil's room:

Thanks, MA!