Leslie Murphy of Murphy Maude Interiors: 5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readFeb 2, 2022


Music plays a really big role in sparking joy for me. When you are designing your home, make sure that you have a plan for your audio. You want your sound to be really good. I am fortunate to have a great relationship with a couple of companies locally who I think do wonderful audiovisual work. Lamar from Miestro is exceptional at doing audio that is wonderful and beautiful but also is discreet, designed well, and that can bring a lot of joy.

As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leslie Murphy of Murphy Maude Interiors.

Murphy Maude Interiors — As a Memphis-based Interior Architecture and Design Firm, Murphy Maude focuses on residential and commercial environments and their representation of the clients they serve. They strive to ensure their systematic technical approach allows the creative design process to be at the forefront of the everyday. With a passion for art and fashion, their collaborative nature takes their design work to a custom level not typical in the Mid-south region. To enhance their client offerings, they are: original textile, wallcovering, and art creators; furniture designers; wholesale furniture and cabinetry dealers; showroom hosts; and lighting designers.

Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been a lover of art and design but spent most of my life in academia. When I got the chance to move to New York to work for Columbia University, I was fortunate to live in the Chelsea Arts District. I immediately became fascinated and obsessed with art and design. When I got married and moved to Tennessee, I started doing some soul searching about what would make me happy- not only in work but also in life. Looking at a career more as a lifestyle not just as a job, I realized it needed to be something at the intersection of art and business. After building my own home and taking a few classes in design, I decided to take that leap of faith about six years ago from my home office and I’ve never looked back. Going through my divorce and being launched into the world as a single woman gave me a lot of motivation to make it work from a business perspective not just as a passion pursuit. Interestingly enough, that difficult time in my life became the best fuel for digging in and making the business work.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

It is a story about serendipity and the universe acting in my favor. It’s not about design, it’s about people. It’s about finding the right people and putting together the right team and seeing magic happen because of those people. This has happened to me several times now with my amazing team but twice as I will mention today. The first was when I was looking for my very first employee. The University of Memphis sent me someone to interview. Her name was Caroline Cotton at the time, now Caroline Lovelace, and it was unreal that her interests were the same as mine. She was from the same town, Huntsville, Alabama, that I am from, and she was on this nontraditional track to try to learn everything she could about art and architecture and interior design and design and just as scrappy as me! I used to just call her my mini- me because we look like we could be related as well! At this point, I think she has exceeded me in many of her abilities. The addition of that position and specifically of that person, Caroline Lovelace, made all the difference in allowing me to start to build and grow the business beyond what I thought was possible. Additionally, in the last year, I was introduced to Kate Haywood, who is now our director of interior architecture and design. She is a licensed architect, who was introduced to me by some mutual friends. And we have recently learned that what we have experienced in life has shaped the way we look at our careers. We both see them in part, as an opportunity to serve people and change lives and hopefully make a meaningful difference using design and architecture as the conduit by which we can go out and improve lives and communities. So, the humans in my life, the people in my life, have been the most interesting parts of my story so far. And I think that there still are more to come as we are now a 17 person team working on some really exciting projects. I can only imagine what stories will unfold in our future.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There were a lot of mistakes when I first started. At the time it felt very anxiety-ridden and scary but in hindsight some of them were very laughable. For example, we had a twenty-eight foot ceiling from which to hang a very expensive light fixture. We naively only ordered the light with a regular size cord that it only hung down seven feet from the ceiling. It was a mistake where we all looked up and we all laughed and said, “Well, that just isn’t going to work.” We were very lucky to be able to correct it and to have some amazing electricians to help us rewire and get this done. The end result was this wonderful learning opportunity, some laughable moments with the client, thank God, and yes, we had to go into our pocket to fix it. Once you’ve paid for a mistake, you never really do that again. Egg on your face is the best learning I believe — and handling those situations with integrity and humility is all you can do! We are so fortunate now that our team of licensed architects and interior designers are an excellent backstop to embarrassing mistakes like this. We’ve basically graduated from being this very visual decorating firm to a full service, licensed interior architecture and design firm.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

We are working on several interesting projects right now. One of the most exciting is this concept: It’s a restaurant on Main St. in downtown Memphis, Tennessee and it’s called “Fable”. It is going to be this super cool storytelling experience. There’s a little bit of a narrative in each of the vignettes of the restaurant and each one comes with a morality tale, a “fable.” Think the tortoise and the hare, The fox and the grapes etc. This concept allows us incredible creativity. I think it’s just going to spark so much curiosity in people and really be a joyful experience for clients. We are getting to unleash all of our creativity and hopefully even apply some of our own unique and original textiles made by local artists to make this a special project. Not only will it be a fun, exciting cerebral experience for the customers, but the fact that we’re able to engage the local art community through our own line of textiles (Mable Originals). I think it’s just a feel-good project all the way around.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Since we’ve been thinking a lot about “Fables” lately in our business as per my last response, one of my quotes, life lesson quotes, that’s my favorite is from Aesop’s Fables. It says, “It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.” I believe that to be so true when you think about humans and the goodness that actually comes from within. I also think interestingly this is a quote that can be applied to design. A lot of the good stuff is not about the finest of the fine things, it’s about doing great design work because it’s just good design not because it’s layer upon layer of finery. I think, sometimes, a more minimal design that’s just super solid and interesting and thoughtfully done is the finest of them all.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Absolutely, my grandmother Mable, who is the namesake for my new line of textiles, giclée prints and fabrics, Mable Originals. She was very much a part of my upbringing, and she took care of me often — I even lived with her for a part of my life. She was such a nurturer, she taught me that I could absolutely be and do anything that I put my mind to. She taught me everything I know about nature and the natural world. She loved flowers and birds and trees and our logo actually is an owl. And I think subconsciously I chose that because of my connection to the natural world and the way that my grandmother Mable used to take me outside and point out the different leaf types and bird types and what that meant to me. You can see that we’re now incorporating a lot of nature into our designs and the organic world. The natural world is really important to me. A quick story about Mable, she was an artist and a “maker” in her own right. She loved to paint and was a fabulous cook. She made quilts and even made her own clothes. She was the best dancer and the kindest spirit. I think both of our brands, Murphy Maude Interiors and Mable Originals are reflective of some of her best qualities. The love of art, the beauty of the handmade, the connection to the natural world, and the creation and spreading of love and joy whenever possible.

Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Organics in the home: Whether it is bringing in fresh flowers or plants, crystals, a trickling water feature, rocks, or trees etc. Bringing in the natural world brings a lot of peace and calm to most people. I also think it’s important to have something “living” around you.

Good soft bedding is so important. Soft luxurious sheets are one of my guilty pleasures. Good sound sleep is so important to me and a huge part of my health and happiness. I love crawling in a bed that is soft and fluffy and beautiful. It is how you end your day and how you begin your day so it should be something you love.

Music plays a really big role in sparking joy for me. When you are designing your home, make sure that you have a plan for your audio. You want your sound to be really good. I am fortunate to have a great relationship with a couple of companies locally who I think do wonderful audiovisual work. Lamar from Miestro is exceptional at doing audio that is wonderful and beautiful but also is discreet, designed well, and that can bring a lot of joy.

Functional spaces: Having what you need to design for your lifestyle is critical to your happiness, let’s say you need a home office to be comfortable, a place to workout because that is a part of what keeps you sane and whole, a meditation room, etc. There are always ways you can carve out a small space no matter how small the apartment or the studio might be. There is a way to carve out what you need in your environment if you really work to accomplish goals around what you need in your life.

Finally,and most importantly, I think art is the absolute number one for me. Having art in and around your space that means something to you, where there is a narrative or you’ve got a history with that artist or a history with the subject in the art and you look at it every day and just feel moved by it. That would probably be the number one thing I would recommend that you do to experience joy in your environment. It’s also this wonderful conversation piece when you’re hosting people and it gives them insight into you, your personality, your life. To have art that actually speaks to you on the walls.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could start a movement it would be helping people learn how to design their lives for greater joy and happiness above greater financial gain. When people are joyful and happy it changes their quality of life and what they are able to give and how they can serve the rest of the world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them :-)

I recently read a couple of books that spoke to me. Both are helping change the way I think. One of them is The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness. He is full of wisdom about focusing on what is important and being strategic in the creation of a generally good life. Again, it is about designing and creating the opportunity to live your best life and focus on the things that really move the mark in that regard. And the result of that is the opportunity to give more back and to be in service to others as you evolve and elevate into a position to do so. And being able to have the most impact and influence does require having the freedom to do what it is that you are passionate about in the world. That is why I would love to meet the author, Naval Ravikant.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.



Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.