ARMOR SQUARE — There are few Black interior designers — but Marissa Nelums hopes to make the industry more accessible and inspire others by opening her studio, Glasshouse Interior Design.
Nelums celebrated the showroom’s opening Saturday at 2910 S. Wentworth Ave. The location of her shop — the first brick-and-mortar showroom she’s had — is intentional: It’s right off the expressway and on the South Side, the area she fell in love with as a student at the International Academy of Design. It’ll allow her to encourage more Black Chicagoans to get into interior design, and she’ll provide services for clients who might not think they can afford a designer.
“I always wanted to keep my community at the forefront of how we structure things,” Nelums said. “I started this because there wasn’t a lot of representation for people who look like me in design. We’re extremely proud to reach more than just the people who can afford design services.”
But Nelums’ dream studio almost didn’t happen.
Nelums was interested in interior design for a long time, but the former visual merchandiser didn’t pursue that passion until she got a push from the universe — in the form of another studio stealing photos of an apartment she’d decorated.
“I thought, ‘If I’m good enough to steal from, maybe there’s something to this. Maybe this is something I can do longterm,’” said Nelums, whose work can be seen in Architectural Digest and Coming Home magazines.
Now, what started as a hobby to keep Nelums busy after her father’s death has become a career, forever changing the trajectory of her life.
Nelums said she loves to combine elements of glamor with deep colors: Jewel tones and metallics for those who love a little flair, neutrals for straight-laced clientele who prefer to keep it simple.
As Nelums began building her portfolio, people started to take notice.
And Nelums launched a home furnishings line for those with smaller budgets. Six years later, her custom pillow line is a hit, she said.
Nelums has expanded the collection to include private label drapery, artwork and furniture — samples of which are on display in her Armor Square showroom. Visitors can check out Glasshouse’s virtual service, which offers 3D renderings of clients’ dream spaces, along with instructions on how to implement the design.
That service — coupled with the home furnishings line — has allowed the firm to reach customers across the country, Nelums said.
Glasshouse Interiors is open 10 am-5 pm Monday-Friday and by appointment Saturday-Sunday.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: