Nominated by Ashley Gilbreath of Ashley Gilbreath Interior Design, Mary Lauren McBride was honored at our 2023 Soul of the South Awards as one of our Architecture & Interior Design category winners.


(Mary Lauren McBride/Contributed)

Mary Lauren McBride remembers dreaming of designing and decorating spaces as a child. She would think of what might look best in a space or how a room should be decorated from an early age. Her greatest satisfaction comes when she’s helped to make a space feel both effortless and inviting.

She pursued her dream by graduating from The University of Alabama with a degree in Interior Design. After working for a small, commercial interior design firm for eight years she stayed at home to care for her twin daughters. However, her passion for interior design never left her even after adding a third daughter. What began as quietly helping friends with their homes turned into building a business with both new and repeat clients alike. She is blessed to live out her passion for design each day while also striving to balance life as a wife, mom, and servant of Christ.


Soul of the South Q&A

1)  What was your “aha” moment/When did you decide that this was the industry for you?

When I was in fourth or fifth grade I really enjoyed interior design. My dad built me a handmade Barbie house and I decorated all of it. We went to Home Depot and bought mosaic tile — we tiled, we wallpapered. I loved it. The following Christmas I asked for an architect software. I wanted to design house plans on the computer. I knew right then that I wanted to do this. I had a passion for it that I continued to nurture over time, and I later went to school and really leaned into the industry.

(Mary Lauren McBride/Contributed)

2) How did your upbringing/time spent in Alabama shape your career?

While attending the University of Alabama, I had the opportunity to not only be inspired by the campus but also to travel throughout the state with new friends and experience different parts of Alabama. The inspiring architecture of even the smallest towns had a profound impact on my love of design. Our state has some amazing architects, designers, chefs, authors, and artisans!  The topography and seasonal changes of Alabama are some of the most beautiful in the country.

3) What keeps you moving forward in the industry? Do you have a quote or motto that you find resonates?

Being adaptable keeps me moving forward, especially with the challenges of the past few years. Our industry, like many, was and still is impacted by long lead times, shortages, and a lack of skilled laborers.  Therefore, our job is geared towards problem-solving and being creative more than ever! Our team has learned to be flexible in any situation to best serve our clients.

One of our favorite quotes from the legendary Albert Hadley is “The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live.”

(Mary Lauren McBride/Contributed)

4) How has your nominator made a positive impact on your idea of/relationship to the industry?

I was so honored that Ashley would nominate me. She’s a trailblazer. She’s definitely somebody to emulate with the way she’s built her business and her brand. I’ve watched her grow and I totally admire her passion for design and her business. It’s touched me tremendously.

When you see a designer that you can not only relate to because they’re in your state and in your community but also see how they’ve grown their business and built their team and their brand, it’s inspiring.

5) What would you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

I would say assembling the most amazing team. I’m so proud of my team. One of our girls has worked for me since I first started the business. I just feel so grateful for that. God has really brought these amazing people into my life and yes, I couldn’t do it without them. There is no way I could do any of the things I do without the team I have.

6) What would you like to see more of in Alabama as it pertains to your industry?


I would love to see more artisans embracing the development of their trades and training the younger generation like upholstery workrooms, carpenters, and welders.  It has become harder and harder to find people to carry on helping designers achieve our visions.