William Miller Design
Most people invited into Bill Miller’s home eventually comment on — rather, compliment — the strikingly nontraditional dining room chandelier. “You can decorate it for every holiday: cobwebs for Halloween, bulbs at Christmas, gold stuff for New Year’s,” Bill says. “I’ve always liked curly willow, and it reminded me of that.”
The dining room — part of an open floor plan with individual areas — receives warmth from a double-sided fireplace that also opens to the living room, and it tends to be a place where Bill and his partner Matthew (a recent addition to his company) eat homecooked meals and entertain.
Warmth emanates from Bill’s persona as well as his style of design. “I make comfortable spaces for people, and I think that is reflected here,” he says, glancing around at the custom furniture of his own design, natural-material accessories, and ethnic pieces with global appeal. The space is charming, inviting, and elegant. Bills says it takes the hard edge off a contemporary look to round it out with eclectic accessories. That’s why his living room and entryway hold an enchanting mix of cowbells and fence posts from Thailand, a Mexican bench, an African Kuba cloth wall hanging, a Chinese apothecary chest, and a Moroccan table topped with family photos in frames, including his three cats: Spike (the big Maine Coon), Zsa Zsa (the little one), and Sebastian (the orange cat).
Aside from the chandelier, a Peter Burega painting, and a few other pieces, Bill says he doesn’t get too personally attached to things in his home. “Stuff is coming and going all the time, especially when I need things and I’m in a hurry.” He’ll start in his Palm Desert office, move to the warehouse, and if he still can’t find what’s he after, he’ll pillage his own house — all in the name of the perfect accent piece, of course. The process suits him just fine. “I like variety, and I like to change things up all the time,” he says. “That way I never get bored.”
Neither do his clients. While Bill often begins with a neutral color palette that’s easy to live with, he builds layers of texture with interesting pairings. A shaggy carpet and soft chenille throw team up with a leather sofa; jute barstools pull up to a sleek granite bar. Bill favors materials that are soothing and luxurious, but never pretentious.
To connect with clients and get to know potential ones, Bill’s firm recently started a blog that maps their travels, charts trends from fabric to finials, and reveals little-known facts about the people behind William Miller Design. The approachable wit and candor show a lighter side of a distinguised firm that’s designed decadent model homes for Brava, Sterling Estates, and Artisan; homes in Bighorn Golf Club and The Vintage Club; and the interior of a yacht docked in Italy.
But Bill wouldn’t trade in his own home for any other. “I love the tall ceilings, the volume of the space, the open plan. I can bring clients here and really be proud.”
Favorite way to relax:
Curled up in a corner of the couch. “I rule the world from there. It’s comfortable and all the cats have their own spot nearby. The TV is here, and I can watch Matt cooking in the kitchen. I start my day here with a cup of coffee and end it here, too.”
Favorite way to entertain:
Large, themed cocktail parties for 50-75
Vintage Barbie dolls
First notices in someone else’s home:
Whether it has continuity. “A lack of continuity bothers me.”
“I’d love to do a home where everything was completely designed by me: the furniture and interior architecture down to the linens, china, and silver. Just custom, custom, custom.”
Favorite thing right now:
Battery-powered candles. Perfect for the outdoors where they can’t blow out and for photo shoots. And they don’t generate heat, either.
Swedish under-counter washers and dryers by Asko, which provide more counter space in the laundry room. Big open areas to gather with family and comfortable furniture they can put their feet on. Master retreats away from guests with sitting areas where couples and can read, have coffee, and spend time together.
On his wish list:
A second home in the mountains or at the beach. “I’d love to have a Ralph Lauren, hunting- style country cabin with a big, river-rock fireplace — something with more of an East Coast feeling.”
Why clients love him:
“I’m really easy to work with and I leave my ego at the door. I help them interpret their vision into reality. I also have an ability to help them make fast decisions by giving them exactly what they want. If someone wants a red sofa, I try to work that in. I don’t give them a blue sofa and tell them they have to have it.”