So Canadian eh? : Nancy Marcus

My guest this week has to be one of the sweetest people I know.
Not only does she have one of the prettiest blogs on blog land, but is such a pretty person, inside and out!

Please welcome

Nancy Marcus from Marcus Design

She is so

When I met Nancy over a year ago we started chatting and realized our lives were similar. She and I went to the same elementary, high school and university!! 
We both have science backgrounds but design and art is our passion. Eerie
The only difference is that we are a decade apart.
{ok, maybe a little bit more than a decade}

Nancy is also one of the coordinators of the Canadian Design and Lifestyle Bloggers Network that we started with two other bloggers, Karla and Victoria. That means we have fun brunches where we get together to chat and plan! 

For those of you who haven't stopped by Nancy's blog Marcus Design, you are missing out on a visual treat! Nancy uses her fabulous research skills to put together such fabulous posts, highlighting designers, design syles, furniture, accessories or just pretty things.

But that is not all....

Not only is Nancy almost Dr. Nancy {she is just finishing up her PhD in Biochemistry}, she is a talented artist and can whip up a great DIY!

It drips of glamour.

Nancy and her husband are redoing a 80's rancher not too far from where I live! They have done such a fabulous job. Nancy has such an eye for design, channeling the Hollywood Regency look, full of bling and glamour.

 {More of her artwork in the background}

Her artwork: 

{Recently she gave away a print of this art, sadly I didn't win....}

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, your education? Where you always interested in design?

Well, let's see ... I am a 29 year old graduate student completing a PhD in Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry, and though science seems as far away from design as you can get, I have definitely always been interested in all things art and decor-related. My Dad actually was the one who encouraged me to explore my artistic abilities, I still remember sitting at the table with him for hours coloring and learning to properly 'shade' with pencil crayons to create beautiful images. I took art in university to help maintain this hobby while I focused my studies on science. I learned a lot about decor from my Mom, who has a nature flair for it. I have always had the opportunity and freedom to decorate my own room growing up, and even got the chance to help my parents out as they built their last 2 homes.  

See? It all comes right back to genetics, lol!

You are finishing up your PhD in Biochemistry and you are the author of the most delightful and gorgeous design blog, Marcus Design. To most they seem like such polar opposites, yet you seem to make the two worlds connect. How do you balance and mesh two seemingly opposite passions?

Creativity is SO important to me. I love art, and my favorite hobby is to paint, and I think science and art go together so well as they both require a good dose of creativity. Think Leonardo Da Vinci: he melded science together with art perfectly! Scientists need to be open to inspiration and new ideas from other work around them as much as designers do.

And to be honest ... blogging about decor & design can also often be a perfect escape from my work and study-related stress :)

What made you decide to start a blog?

This is directly related to my answer above!! It had to do with stress & procrastination actually. I was preparing for a big scary presentation at a university about a year and a half ago.  I had been reading decor blogs for some time already, and had thought that it was such a perfect way to chronicle my home renos, my likes & dislikes, and save all my inspiration photos. So the night before the presentation, when I should have been prepping and practicing, I welcomed any possible distraction and on a whim started up my blog! And since then I've never looked back ...

What have you enjoyed about blogging, anything surprise you?

Barbara, you hit the nail on the head! So sooo many surprises! First, I thought no one would actually find/read my blog, so quickly gaining readership really surprised me! And secondly, the relationships I have made have blown me away! To be in a world where you can meet so many like-minded people, share inspiration and ideas, and literally just meet some of the nicest people I have ever met has been incredible. I think the people have been the biggest and most rewarding surprise. {Example: did you know that Barbara and I found out we went to the same elementary school, high school, and university?? What a small world we live in!}.

There have been some other unexpected benefits as well. Delving into this design blogging world has taught me SO much about decor, art, architecture, etc etc! Reading blogs is in some way like taking a class!! I can name so many historical pieces of furniture I never knew, recognize specific designers work in a heartbeat, pick out fabric and know exactly where it comes from ... it's like Design 101! Not to mention the fact that I also feel like blogging has helped me learn a lot about my own style, and what really defines my taste. Thank you, blogosphere!!

What hopes and dreams do you have for your future, how do your science and art pursuits fit in?

Good question! I am definitely still trying to figure this one out myself. In regards to science, I just adore teaching! I love working with students and could totally see myself being happy in a college or small university. What would I do with my free time? Work on my art for sure, I'd really like to give it more time and priority in my life. My hope is to open a little Etsy shop soon to begin selling my prints and see where that takes me. I'm itching to get my creative juices flowing now that my school is wrapping up, I don't want to let this hobby continue to take a back seat in my life!

Where do you go for your inspiration for all those amazing images on your blog?

Absolutely everywhere! Blogs, magazines, of course now Pinterest {addictive!!}, and even Google! I have to admit, I am always scouring the web, and because I am on my computer for many hours in the evenings with work, teaching prep etc., I 'take breaks' all the time to search for some serious dose of pretty that makes me happy. Ha ha, that's my whole procrastination thing popping up again!

You are also quite a talented artist, where do you find inspiration for your art? What is your favorite medium to work with?

I find inspiration in fashion and art photography for sure. I am drawn to vintage posters, pop art, and the like ... the colors are bold and they are oh-so-feminine! I also have a weakness for architectural renderings, there's an order to them that is so beautiful. My all-time favorite medium is chalk pastels, you can move them around with your fingers and change things to your hearts content. Oil paint is a close second since it takes ages to dry and you can fix any flubs.

If you could meet anyone or do anything, who or what would it be?

Oh man, this one's a toughie. I think if I could meet anyone, it may be Coco Chanel. She was such an influential and creative figure and I'd love to be able to sit and learn from her and understand what made her tick. If I could do anything, I think it would be to master several skills I am envious of: photography, sewing, design, architecture, and graphic design. To have all of these skills under my belt would be a dream come true!!! Too many things to learn, too little time ...

How would you describe your design style?

I would say I am most drawn to spaces with a lot of glamour, black & white with touches of colors, and an eclectic mix of old and new.  Traditional and timeless with a touch of modern flair. Think herringbone floors, tufted velvet sofas, and oversized colorful art!

Since you are an almost-finished-university student, what tips do your have in decorating on a budget?

Oh, do I know a thing or two about working on a budget!! First I would have to say: patience is a virtue! I have lived in my little rancher for 4 years now and there are still many undecorated spaces and renos to complete. My goal is to spend money on the pieces that matter to me {example: dining room chairs, I've been waiting for them forever!} and be budget friendly on items like throw pillows and accessories.  I DIY whatever I can think up, and hubby and I have tried to do a lot of the work in our home on our own. I've been lucky enough to be able to cut cost here and there by doing things like purchase scraps of designer fabrics from friends, and I've even done things like trade my skills for my friends skills; I swapped a small canvas painting by me for her pillow-sewing skills :) {er...Nancy, I can sew}

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart?

I do think that Canadians have a very defined style, a bit more simple and conservative compared to the US. However, I would say Canadian design is playing a HUGE role in the world design scene! I mean, as a blogger, how many American and International blogs do you see reference photos from our fabulous Canadian magazines, such as Style at Home and House and Home?? I think it shows we have something to say about design & decor, and the world is obviously paying attention!

Thank you Barbara for including me in on your fantastic series, I'm really honored/kinda intimidated cause there are definitely a few hard acts to follow in recent weeks!! xo

No, Nancy.. thank-you!  I am so glad we met. I too agree, never thought anyone would ever read my blog, let alone comment and follow. And I never dreamed I would of made such amazing friendships, including with you!

I love how you explained the mixing of science and art, I feel that way too since my background is science as well! Leonardo Da Vinci is a perfect example!
I see a successful Etsy shop in your future :)

Thanks so much Nancy. Many hugs.

XO Barbara


  1. I remember discovering Nancy's full of glamorous pictures and inspiration. Now I am really impressed with her education and the face that she is so well rounded with right and left brain!!!!

  2. Barbara, thank you for your insightful interview with Nancy! She is indeed a beautiful person inside and out, just like you!

  3. Thanks for highlighting another fascinating & creative Canadian! So interesting to hear how they have travelled the road to design & blogging!

  4. I love Nancy's blog - great interview! I started out in science too, but quickly switched to design - Kudos to Nancy for her pursuit of her PhD! Definitely not just a pretty face! :)

  5. Thank you for another fantastic, inspirational interview!

  6. Yet another great interview Barbara! I love our Nancy, she is such a talent and one of the sweetest people I know:)


  7. Another fantastic interview! It's amazing how so many of us with different backgrounds ended up on the same blogging path, love it!
    ~Lily from

  8. Nancy is one of my favorite blogging buddies and her blog is a daily read for me. She always inspires and what I love about her the most is she already has her priorities straight at the ripe old age of 29. I think there are people much much older that never get that and Nancy has it already!! She is a wonderful person who loves her God, family and friends dearly. She is my kind of gal, xo Kathysue

  9. Another great interview - I could already tell Nancy was a sweetheart, but now I see she's as smart as she is adorable! What an inspiration to see someone pursue both her passions and her skills so enthusiastically. Looking forward to seeing you both soon!!

  10. Wow, Barbara, an inspiring interview. Nancy, you make procrastination seem like a good thing!!

  11. I <3 Nancy & Marcus Design!! Nancy is such an intelligent, talented and very special woman who never stopped smiling & who's sweet nature never waivered as she painted orange anirondak chairs with latex paint that her painting partner (and owner of said chairs) purchased to cover over existing oil-based stain (i.e., disaster!) and who still says lovely things about the painting partner and who would probably cross a busy road to help this painting partner again, even if partner neglected to purchase the correct paint again... because Nancy's nice like that ;-)

  12. Awww... you guys are THE SWEETEST!! Thank you for all your super kind words, honestly you've made my week ... no make that MONTH!!! I am honored by your words, and I truly thank my friend Barbara for the feature. GIANT HUGS to you all! :)
    Nancy xoxoxox

  13. Love the exuberant, interesting interview with creative, exuberant Nancy! I enjoy reading her blog and love Nancy's design aesthetic! Learning about Nancy studying for her PhD... her dad encouraging her to use her natural artistic talent... Like Nancy's love and melding of science and art, my sister-in-law has a chemistry degree and Masters in micro-electronics but her passion has been painting, cross-stitch and in the last few years, felting - creating amazing masterpieces - and teaching the technique to kids at schools. And my husband's background was in aviation - jet propulsion(!) and he now creates innovative, gorgeous, original art glass! Anything is possible in this world! Thanks for letting us learn more about a fab fellow Canadian, Barbara!

  14. Nancy's blog is one of my very favourites and it was wonderful to learn more about her. Love her perspective about the intermingling of science and creativity. Another fabulous interview!

  15. I loved reading all about Nancy! I've been following her since she started her blog and it's great to see how she has blossomed!

  16. Nancy sure is a sweet heart! Great interview Barbara!

  17. Great interview and loved learning more about Nancy! I don't know how she juggles it all - work, PhD studies and a great blog - kudos Nancy!

  18. I love Nancy's blog. She has such a sense of style. It was great to learn a little more about her. Thanks, Barbara!

  19. I just learned a whole lot about Nancy that I didn't know before! I have no idea how she finds the time to do everything that she does - maybe she has a clone?! ;-) I find it so interesting that she has such opposite passions in life (art & science). But she really explained perfectly how they actually go together quite well :-)


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