Mary Anne Smiley had big plans for herself as a young woman. During childhood, she began drawing house plans and dreamed of a career in architecture.
Several years later, she tried to begin architecture studies at Oklahoma State University. But it was the 1960s, and the dean informed her, “Women do not enroll in architecture.”
That unfortunate turn of events led her to a different kind of adventure—she decided instead to study interior design and fine art. This began a successful career as an interior designer, and today, Smiley is recognized her as one of the top designers in Dallas. She received a Best of Houzz 2014 award for service, and a Best of Houzz 2015 award for design.
“I went to college with the intention of being an architect, but I am so glad the dean told me women could not enroll in architecture, as I think that would have been so limiting for me,” Smiley said. “I also wanted to be an artist so bad, but realized I did not have the raw talent required for that at that time—during the 60s, if you were not angry, and interested in phallic symbols, you did not have what it took! I think all-in-all, I landed just where I needed to be.”
Smiley’s love of bright color made her a pioneer of its use in Dallas interior design, and a signature of hers is bright spots of pure color against soft pearl-finish backgrounds. She’s also known for her ability to mix antiques and lavish textiles with cutting-edge products, from metallics to recycled plastics.
“I love to mix elements,” she said. “For instance, in the Highland Park contemporary study, for the desk, I used two contemporary chrome bases for a custom acrylic ‘tray’ top with honey onyx insert. The unique thing about this desk that you do not see, is that the onyx has a hollow space that encompasses an LED light grid that lights the onyx top without any evidence of a light source or wiring, as the wiring is concealed inside the chrome base, running directly into the floor, with the transformer for the lighting mounted beneath the floor.”
Today, she brings her talents to clients with her company, Mary Anne Smiley Interiors, creating carefully curated spaces for a range of clients. Her work is simply stunning.