Podcast, Ep. 197: interior design duo Tavia Forbes & Monet Masters

Our guests today are the interior designers behind the firm Forbes Masters; Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters. Based in Atlanta, they work with high-profile residential and commercial clients and their work has been featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Essence, Architectural Digest, and most recently on The Drew Barrymore Show. They also have a fabulous wallpaper line through Mitchell Black. We talk about how they have married their talents to create bold, eclectic, imaginative designs that reflect their unique personalities.  We also discuss the magic of wallpaper, working within a budget, decorating built-ins, and more!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Trials & Triumphs about spring plants and pollen!
  • The fascinating story of how Tavia and Monet met and started working together.
  • How has their relationship and partnership evolved over the years?
  • How do Tavia and Monet pitch their bold style to clients?
  • How Forbes Masters commits to maintaining authenticity to their client in their design.
  • More about their wallpaper line and the inspiration.
  • The importance of a good installer with wallpaper.
  • Progress on the design of the Kips Bay Show House.
  • Where does creative inspiration come from for the duo?
  • How Tavia and Monet get innovative on a budget.
  • A very informative Decorating Dilemma all about decorating built-ins!

Decorating Dilemma


We just moved into our first home and I have a dilemma concerning my built-ins in the living room. The built-in on the left is beautiful and symmetrical but the other side was obviously meant for some early 2000s TV viewing/VCR watching (peep the VCR box on top of the TV space that will NOT come off). I would eventually like to hire someone to redo the right side, but until the budget allows, what would you recommend to make the space look more put together? We also considered actually moving the TV to that area but then I don’t know how to configure the layout of the room. All the furniture will be gone eventually (grandparent’s hand-me-downs) except my beloved pink chair I found at a yard sale! What type of furniture would you use in the space and how would you lay it out? I am a total novice! I was thinking maybe an L-shaped sectional on the left with two swivel chairs facing in on the right. I would like as much seating as possible as this is the main entertaining space. Ignore the dog beds. 🙂 Also, I promise I only used the overhead lighting for the pictures, it is harsh!

Additionally, what art or furniture would you recommend for the walls on either side of the built-ins? The room is 16×24. Any suggestions you have for elevating the space and making it look more “grown-up” and put together would be greatly appreciated! I so enjoy the podcast and have enjoyed listening to you ladies as well as catching up on all of the past episodes!

Thank you,


Hi Sarah,

First, paint is going to be your friend! It will hide imperfections and create forgiveness for asymmetry.  You can either do paint to hide it or a fun wallpaper to make it stand out. You will want to paint the bookcase all the same color in a satin finish and then style it very intentionally.  Hardware on your doors will really help accentuate. Long, maybe gold or gunmetal, but definitely not stainless steel.  The open space on the side? We really want to knock it down!  If you can’t, you could use it to highlight a great piece of art using one of Ballard’s easels and place a large bust or urn in front of it to really fill the space.  The key is to be intentional with your styling and consistent.  Some examples are turning books horizontal, wrapping them in black or white, using the same baskets, vases, picture frames; or choose 3 different types of vignettes for some diversity.  For each shelf, create the same vignette on both sides but at different levels.  If the left side has adjustable shelves, you should even them out or even take out that top shelf and hang some art. For a rule of thumb, we say don’t decorate with anything smaller than a cantaloupe!

For furniture layout, we like what you mentioned with the L-shaped sectional and two chairs. Another option is to do two sofas facing each other and accent chairs across from the fireplace.  You could even add a bench in front of the fireplace.  We also recommend painting that fireplace white or even a German smear.  The bookcases should really read as their own pieces of furniture and not blend…so make them stand out by painting them all one consistent color that’s different from the fireplace. There is a sheen on the walls that’s reflecting light; we recommend repainting with a flat finish. Also, the lights have sort of a blue tint and we would go softer to make it warmer. We also suggest some sheer drapery and maybe some wood blinds if you want extra privacy. Finally, not a must-have, but maybe a bigger TV?!

Thanks, Sarah, and good luck!

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.