Northeast Neighbors

An Air Force child, decorator Stephen Thompson was born in Savannah, Georgia, and lived in many places, including Japan, before moving to Mississippi when he was in junior high school. Thompson, 67, has owned Designer Connection in Tupelo for more than three decades.

Q: What initially interested you in designing and decorating? A: I was hired as a stock keeper for the Aberdeen Sherwin-Williams store in 1973. While organizing the stockroom, I unearthed a box of 1960s color brochures. One page showed a room sporting a bright yellow and turquoise theme. The room’s beauty made all the hairs on my body stand on end, and a sense of pure joy washed through my body. I vowed to master the use of color — in all its wonderful shades, tints, saturations and harmonies — so that I could help evoke that same wonderful feeling in others.

Q: Do you work primarily on interiors, or do you design exteriors as well? A: Primarily inside; however, from 1975 to 1984 while I was Tupelo’s Sherwin-Williams decorator, people would photograph their homes and drive from several counties away to have me select their exterior colors. Here are my two best color selection secrets: If you’re driving an expensive car, I’ll likely make your house’s body, trim and shutter colors harmonize with your car color. And, I’ll probably peek in your closets to see the clothes you’ve bought, and then I’ll likely harmonize the drape, flooring and interior paint selections with your clothing selections. Ingenious, right?

Q: What is Designer Connection? A: Designer Connection is the one-man company I formed in 1987. I love connecting people with beautiful patterns, products, and color schemes — ones they would choose, if they knew they existed — that are absolutely perfect for them.

Q: What do you think is the most important element of design? A: Form. Because I’m a kinesthetic, I love how the energies of well-proportioned, beautiful, functional items make me feel whenever they are perfectly arranged. Space, line, light, color, texture and pattern are equally important elements.

Q: Why do you love your job? A: My lifework helps people live well and in beauty for decades. That’s a beautiful feeling and a great legacy.

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