We lounge at Whiskey Cake, and Travis orders us his favorites: Grapefruit Rickeys, fried green tomatoes, and deviled eggs. Our chat meanders from upcoming Neely projects to his Halloween decor at home. He is a peaceful person to talk to, interesting, and eager to laugh, all of which make for a wonderful afternoon.
The following are some fun pieces of our palaver.
What first interested you about interior design?
Interior Design has always been a passion of mine. As I grew up, I loved observing the sets in movies and television. I was particularly enamored with the Brady’s house in The Brady Bunch. I also thoroughly enjoyed building fully furnished Lego houses. I redecorated my room frequently in whatever theme I was enamored with at the time… from Garfield to Lamborghinis. I grew up in a small home, and my father required all walls to remain white. Therefore, I altered my environment with an embarrassing number of posters. It was really quite garish, but it was a great testing ground for honing my maximalist tendencies.
Where did you go to study design?
I received my Interior Design degree from the University of Central Oklahoma, where I studied under Dr. Cheryl Myers, FASID, Dr. Ken Larson and the late Dr. Joe Beckham.
What was your first design project?
While still in college, I worked on my aunt’s house, helping her with space planning, furniture selections, window treatments and accessorizing. She wanted a casual, inviting home with a rustic, country feel. I mixed a variety of plaids in rich jewel tones. (This was in the early 90’s). It was quiet lovely!
What is your favorite aspect of being a designer?
This is a difficult question, as there are so many facets of being a designer that feed my soul. If I have to choose only one, I truly love the diversity! Each new client brings with them their own history, typically harboring deep rooted feelings toward (or away from) specific colors, styles, etc. Often, they have a vague concept of what style they may want, but are not sure of any of the specifics. I enjoy the process of gaining information from them, allowing me to curate their perfect environment.
Who is your favorite designer?
I truly admire the work of Miles Redd and Kelly Wearstler. Each uses color, texture and pattern liberally, and each space they complete is chic and sophisticated. They both have such strong personal identities in their designs, and I love to peruse their portfolios. I am drawn to their maximalist approach. While I do treasure a perfectly curated minimalist interior, I find the most joy in an environment filled with carefully selected, beautiful things.
Who is your favorite local artist?
This is another difficult question, as it is too difficult to narrow down to one. I am a passionate art collector, having purchased many pieces from local artists, each of which holds a special place in my heart.
David Crismon is a local artist and college professor at Oklahoma Christian University. I greatly admire him and am pleased to have had the privilege of taking several of his classes while earning my degree. I have two of his pieces, one of which was the very first acquisition in my collection.
Another of my favorite local artists is Jerry Bergin whom I have known as a friend and colleague for many years. I have quite a variety of his work spanning his career. It has been quite an experience to witness his journey as an artist.
Ben Pendleton created another of my favorite pieces. It is a mixed media piece containing a breath-taking depth of emotion.
What has been your favorite space to design?
I have really enjoyed designing rooms for the past two Oklahoma Designer Show Houses. For these spaces, there are no rules or constraints, enabling us to create spaces with complete creative freedom.
Travis Neely goes the extra mile for his clients. He listens to what they have envisioned, and makes it a reality. Each project is a labor of love, experience, and just a little bit of magic. If you have witnessed his designs in-person, I’m sure you would agree.