Boston-area designer Desiree Burns has always had a love for the creative, in her own words. Though she was interested in the fashion world as a young adult, she shifted gears to a career in interior design in her twenties and hasn’t looked back. As part of our series, My Design Journey, we spoke with Burns about her design philosophy, changing aesthetic, and the Australian design trends she’s currently swooning over.
On Her Lifelong Creative Side and Entry Into the Design Field
When Burns was in high school, she couldn’t get enough of anything related to fashion. “I remember meticulously planning my outfits—so much thought went into every little detail: the shoes, bag, jewelry, ways to style or modify the clothing, all of it,” she says. “Fast track to today, and paying attention to details is a huge part of successful design implementation. I didn’t realize I was building on such essential skills I would one day use to launch a design career.”
At the time, though, Burns decided to pursue a fashion marketing degree while in college. After she graduated, she launched a jewelry line and spent time working in fashion PR.
“The introduction into the interior design world happened for me organically while decorating my own home,” she explains. “It was a joy even more enriching than anything I had done before. I remember coming to the end of the design process and thinking, how can I do this again?”
Of course, this would require making a major shift professionally. “I was in my late twenties and hesitated starting all over again, but knew I needed to take the plunge,” Burns shares. “I moved from L.A. to Boston and started working for a local architect/design firm to get my feet wet. I was like a sponge and soaked in all I could while there.”
After some time, Burns took the photoshop skills she had developed in college to focus on e-design for companies like Decorist, Havenly, Laurel & Wolf, and Homepolish. “It was a true field education experience,” she notes. “I learned so much over those next few years.”
Eventually, she felt ready to go out on her own. “I built my own website through Wix, created all of my social pages, and got to work,” Burns shares. “The first couple of projects I took on either for free or for very little profit just to gain the experience and use the projects for my portfolio.”
On “Whimsical Organic Living”
This is the tagline on Burns’ website and summarizes her approach toward her work. “Whimsical organic living is a play on elements that I like to incorporate into each design project,” she explains. “I’ve always been drawn to nature. I often find inspiration in travel, typically somewhere tropical and full of life.”
Burns believes that this inclination toward the natural world has shaped her design philosophy. “When sourcing for projects, I gravitate toward organic furniture pieces and highly textured décor,” she shares. “I just find them beautiful, and they really ground a space.”
When sourcing for projects, I gravitate toward organic furniture pieces and highly textured décor. I just find them beautiful, and they really ground a space.
But this key phrase isn’t the only factor shaping Burns’ design princess. “I also try to incorporate a 'wow' factor into every space,” she adds. “There have been many times when that comes to life via a beautiful, whimsical wallpaper. I love to use wallpaper to elevate spaces like blank walls or the often forgotten ceiling.”
On Her Design Style’s Evolution Over Time
Burns, like many designers, has witnessed her aesthetic change over the years. “Even though I think I stay true to my core elements, my design style does continue to evolve over time,” she explains. “Currently, I see it shifting towards a more minimal direction, perhaps because of the projects I’m currently working on. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore using color, and that will never change. But I’m also having fun embracing more neutral palettes that would normally be a little outside my comfort zone.”
Certain textural trends have caught Burns’ eye recently. “I’m really loving reeded and fluted details, especially in kitchens,” she comments. “They instantly add such a beautiful and interesting element.”
On What She Loves About Her Work
Burns appreciates simply having the opportunity to create as part of her profession. “I find so much joy in what I do, and there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing for a living," she says. “I feel so lucky to have found my passion.”
And she isn’t one to shy away from a project that pushes her limits a bit. “Designing a space comes easy to me,” Burns shares. “What challenges me most is styles outside my comfort zone. Take a traditional room for example—I think a traditional designer can do it with their eyes closed, but it’s not my usual aesthetic, so it pushes me to be creative in ways that I don’t exercise all the time. I love a good challenge!”
I find so much joy in what I do, and there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing for a living. I feel so lucky to have found my passion.
On Where She Draws Her Inspiration
Perhaps a trip Down Under is on the horizon. “I am so inspired by Australian interiors,” Burns says. “They’re simple yet bold, thoughtful, and beautiful. Aussies just get it right. Their use of materials really speaks to my soul—think cane, rattan, cement—all earthy elements I can’t get enough of lately.”
Luckily enough, Burns is tackling a personal project that features multiple bathrooms with cement sinks.
“Some of the hues are to die for,” she says. “There’s a fluted detail on one that I can’t get enough of. They really are the stars of the space, and I can’t wait to share these rooms!”
On What’s Next for Her Business
“Continuing to learn, grow, and expand” are all priorities when it comes to the future of Desiree Burns Interiors. Burns adds, “I have some exciting changes in store for this year, and I’m exploring some great collaboration opportunities.”