Sitting Down with the Award Winning Designer Marylou Sobel


As a child, Marylou Sobel always knew she loved design. Growing up in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, she was inspired by the beautiful homes and gardens of her neighborhood. Marylou has taken that inherent, natural love of aesthetics and turned it into a successful interior design business, Marylou Sobel Interior Design. Her focus with her thriving design firm is two-fold. First, she seeks to create cohesive, stunning designs, but at the same time, she wants to make the process as seamless as possible for clients, from start to finish.

She brings to each client project 30 years of industry experience, as well as a deep understanding of how design elements including colour, texture, and pattern come together. Marylou often finds she’s drawn to French and Italian architecture and details, as well as the integration of modern and vintage items. Her work has consistently been recognized, most recently by the Best of Houzz 2017 awards. 


1. Where did you grow up and how do you think it has influenced your work?

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a very beautiful suburb, where homes and gardens were of immense pride to their owners, and properties were large.

Our street was lined with Jacaranda trees and so when they were in bloom the street was awash in purple. Our garden was filled with a variety of flowers and fruit trees that filled the house when picked. My parent’s home was very aesthetically pleasing with beautiful and well-appointed, art, antiques and furniture.

South Africa beats to it’s own drum and there is an energy and soul there that is unique, you just don’t find it anywhere else.

I was very influenced by my surroundings, the beautiful African spirit, the people and the warmth and love that came from them, the many safari’s that we went on, as well as beach holidays. I have always had an aesthetic eye and recognized beauty when I saw it. (I still do) I still examine every space that I enter, and critic it in my mind…and take note of things that inspire me. There was texture and colour and visual beauty all around me . Africa and especially Johannesburg had a cohesive way of grounding one, and making one feel loved and feel part of a wider community…


 Styled by Kate Nixon


2. When did you develop a passion for interior design?

From the age of 8, I wanted to be an interior decorator. I had not yet heard the term designer. I loved many of the homes and hotels that I visited during my childhood and wanted to recreate them. I drove my mother mad as every couple of years I asked to redecorate my bedroom, including green walls one year. I think I have always been passionate about design.

3. Is there an interior design style you favour and why?

I don’t like to think that I have a specific style, but I am personally drawn to French and Italian architecture, furniture, art, sculpture and the detail that is used. I also love Georgian houses…and Greek homes speak to me…and then a very modern house with large open spaces and high ceilings with glass, timber and concrete speak to me too. I always say that my middle name is “detail” as I love detail, and I have an eye that appreciates good detail in design. My least favourite interiors are mimamalistic interiors as I feel they lack personality, and don’t show much of the people who live there. I love the new term maximalism, that is being used…but there is definitely a balance that needs to be achieved between minimalism and maxamilism to achieve a cohesive interior.

Styled by Marylou Sobel 


Styled by Marylou Sobel


4. Who are your interior design icons?

Axel Vervoordt, Martin Waller from Andrew Martin, Piet Boon, Christian Liairgre, Kit Kemp, to name a few…


5. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?

A great big, beautiful upholstered headboard  

Syled by Bree Leach

Styled by Marylou Sobel 


6. What key element do we all need for a chic living room?

Luxury, comfort, good strong proportions, texture, layering, good lighting, (dimmers) a calm and inviting ambience. Art or sculpture, something that draws one in. wow factor. Strong aesthetic.

Styled by Kate Nixon  

 Styled by Marylou Sobel


 7. Tell me about your proudest achievement?

When I was selected (my work) to be in the Andrew Martin Interior Design Review, volume 18, in 2014, being one of approximately 110 designers to get in world- wide. I was given a 6-page spread. They call it the Oscars of design. I still feel so proud today and hope to get in again one day.

8. What inspires you?

Ithink life and everything around me constantly inspires me…spending time with my family and friends, travel, furniture, fabrics, art galleries, fashion, flowers, movies, a great book, a walk through a forest or along the beach. A garden filled with flowers and usually a rather symmetrical garden. Design magazines. A fabulous glass of red wine or a well made piccolo latte, and these days a huge inspiration for me is Instagram. I love it.

Styled by Kate Nixon


Marylou is likely to continue finding inspiration from even the simplest of places and bringing that distinctive vision to each of her design projects. Whether she’s creating  a French-inspired room with large-scale, functional pieces that instantly feel like heirlooms, or perfecting a home with bespoke luxury items, Marylou brings a love for detail and strong, powerful aesthetics to each of her projects, with an beautiful finished result. 

All photograpy by Maree Homer







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