“How can we neglect the very surroundings that we find we spend the most time in?” asks interior designer Alicia Bailey, aka Bailey Li, during an intimate chat at her decked-out loft apartment in Orange, New Jersey.
“Your environment is so important to feeding your soul. Where you wake up, where you live, where you come to every single day holds more value than you think,” she continues over a glass of prosecco, with a nineties R&B playlist flowing faintly in the background. “Interior design is about transforming lives and helping people discover who they really are. Your space should speak to your journey and the lifestyle you desire—beyond what you’re currently living.”
For Li, customizing spaces is less about mimicking mainstream aesthetics because we want to fit in and more about not being afraid to express ourselves and infuse Black culture into our environments. She treats each room, home and business she touches like a blank canvas—the client becomes the muse from whom she draws her inspiration.
Where you wake up every day holds more value than you think. Your environment is key to feeding your soul.”
Although her approach is constantly evolving, Li brings signature elements to every project. “I’ll redo a sofa rather than buy a new one—I’m partial to giving older things new life,” she says. “I’m willing to travel far for really cool vintage and custom pieces just to introduce one-of-a-kind details.” Another signature element? Li is celebrated for her uncommon art walls.
“I didn’t go to school and study how to do textured walls,” she confesses. “I just got up one day, got a bunch of different paints and experimented.” She says she would love to see those experiments, which started out as a passion project, grow into a tangible product that’s more approachable and easier for the interior design novice to achieve.
She predicts they will one day show up as wallpaper. “I see a partnership with a paint company to produce pretty metallic kits, with full-on instructions showing people how to do the walls themselves,” Li says. “I have to push the boundaries a bit to break the mold and assist others in honoring their individuality.” That’s her script and she’s sticking to it.