Her Home, Her Style: Bohemian Ease in New England

With the release of my book Your Home, Your Style fast approaching (March 20! Get your pre-orders in!), I thought it would be fun to share a bit of backstory on a few of the homes featured within. You see, when  selecting rooms to shoot, photographer Joyelle West and I put our heads together and made a list of people we knew with great personal style, and whose homes reflected their confidence and willingness to express themselves through their decor.

One factor that was REALLY important to me was that none of the owners were trained interior designers—the message of the book, after all, is that anyone can create a home that feels like you want it to, if you approach the process with a little self-awareness and savvy.

First up: Lindsey, a colleague of mine whose home oozes happy vibes. Just look at this place.

Source: @NewEnglandLoom
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Lindsey works in public relations, but she also harbors a not-so-secret passion for vintage rugs. That interest blossomed a few years ago when planning her wedding; Lindsey’s dream of setting the reception scene with vintage rugs sent her scouring New England’s flea markets and the Internet to find great pieces and deals. Her hunt ultimately led to three amazing things: one, a picture-perfect wedding featured on Style Me Pretty; two, a side business sourcing and selling unique rugs, New England Loom; and three, a house full of gorgeous, hand-knotted patterns and fringe. 

Here is a behind-the-scenes pic from our shoot. The cute dog didn’t make it into print, sadly. Arf. 

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Read on for a little Q&A about this gal’s home and style. And to see Joyelle’s pro pics of this amazing pad, order your copy of Your Home, Your Style ASAP!

 

Do you have a decorating philosophy? What is it?

Texture and layering is key! I’m all about making rooms feel cozy, and believe you can never have too many rugs, throw pillows, or knit blankets.

 

Tell me about your current home. What do you like most about it?

I would describe our interior decorating style as “coastal meets boho”. My style is very influenced by the East Coast, where I grew up, but also pulls in a more modern California aesthetic. Our home is a one-story cottage, and it's shaped like a “U” that wraps around a middle outdoor patio. I love the overall flow that the shape creates. The layout means that almost every single room has 3 exterior facing walls that let in amazing natural light, and each room also has French doors leading outside. In the summer months, we almost treat the patio as a second living room, and we can walk straight out our kitchen across the patio to our bedroom without ever going through the rest of the house.

 

Joyelle and I had so much fun shooting your space for Your Home, Your Style. What surprised you most about having your home photographed?

Well, you and I have worked together on several celebrity design projects in the past, but it was so fun seeing my own home through the lens of a camera! I think what surprised me most was how much plants/greenery can make or break a shot. We already have several plants throughout our home and you brought a few to play with for the shoot. It was interesting to see how just a little fern or succulent could add so much life to the room and photo.

 

Anything you’d do differently if you were to start over today?

I would have waited on some of the paint colors. I was in such a rush to get things painted before we moved in that I made paint decisions before I knew what the rooms would look like, from a décor standpoint. Now that we’ve fully furnished each room, some of the paint colors just aren’t right and it bugs me every day! Repainting some of the rooms is definitely on the (long) lists of home to-dos.

 

What were the biggest challenges in furnishing and decorating your spaces?

Again, choosing the paint colors!! I am fairly decisive when it comes to décor and had a very clear vision of how I wanted our home to look and feel, but for whatever reason my mind doesn’t work the same way with paint. There are just so many options and I have a lot of trouble visualizing how a paint colors will look against a larger design scheme.

 

 When you’re shopping, what colors, materials, and types of items can you never resist?

I’m a big fan of the color blue, which comes from my coastal New England roots, I think, so most rooms in our home incorporate that color somehow. I also find myself always drawn to natural woods—I love how much texture they bring to a space. We’ve incorporated wood elements into almost every room: DIY floating shelves in our kitchen made from old floor boards, shiplap in our bathroom, a live edge wood coffee table in our living room, custom wood herringbone closet doors in our guest bedroom.. The list goes on!

 

What’s one purchase you’ve never regretted?

Our collection of vintage rugs. They add so much color, history and character to the rooms in our home and really anchor each space. I also incorporated many of them into our wedding before buying our home, which makes them that much more special. They just get better with time, and more beautiful every time I look at them.

 

What was your most recent home-decor project or purchase?

The most recent project we completed was the little half bath off our kitchen, which literally started as an empty room. We’ve slowly added things like flooring, beadboard, lighting and a vanity over time. The last step was wallpapering the top half of the wall with wallpaper. I fell in love with this bird print from Bob Collins, but couldn’t justify the price tag. When I showed it to my sister she told me she could easily paint it, and while I was skeptical, I let her. I think I love the result even more than the original! This little powder room now makes me so, so happy.

Our most recent purchase was the Article Sven sofa, which was one of the best décor decisions we’ve ever made. The shape and camel color instantly gave our very traditional family room a more modern look, and the leather is so easy keep clean despite our two pups constantly chasing each other all over it. It’s also incredibley comfortable – we’ve already enjoyed many lazy Sundays in front of the fire on this couch!

 

Anything you want to add or change next?

Our next project will be renovating our guest bathroom. It honestly scares me a bit as it’s the biggest thing my husband and I have ever taken on from a DIY perspective, but I’m so excited for the end result! We will be changing almost everything (tile, vanity, shower, tub lighting etc.) as well as hopefully adding a window to let in some natural light, so I can’t wait to see the transformation.

 

What’s your go-to source for design inspiration?

I’m an Instagram addict and I definitely get most of my design inspiration through scrolling through my feed each day. I love that you can now save images within Instagram, and my saved folder is admittedly all interiors that I love and reference often.

 

Obsessed With: Juniper

I’m just back from a trendspotting trip to New York, where I saw all manner of funky home decor. Mudcloth was there in a big way (Did I not call this in 2015?), as was macrame and tons of really Coachella-y bohemian decor.

Well. Maybe I’m getting older, but every time I go to one of these shows it seems to be getting easier for me to say “that’s gorgeous, but it’s not for me.” Which is all to say that as much as I love boho vibes, the trends out there right now are a bit too funky even for my tastes. I just can’t do cacti or succulents or throws that are more fringe than blanket. It just wouldn’t feel at home in my very upright Bostonian home or with the rest of my stuff.

Enter today’s theme: Juniper. I started to notice myself gravitating toward this shade around the holidays, when pulled out some grayish-blue wooden beads for my Christmas tree and realized they picked up on the juniper berries in my mantel greenery from Mahoney’s in Winchester, MA. The ribbons I picked out were also a sort of grayed-out blue. The shade speaks to all of the worn and bohemian looks I’ve been seeing around, but it feels pretty and traditional at the same time. It’s also the perfect transition shade for late winter.

So here you go: My take on what’s trending right now, anchored by a not-quite-bohemian shade of blue.

1. Javier runner, $182, AllModern. 2. Regina Andrew Malibu chandelier in Weathered Blue, $1,623, Perigold. 3. Framed “Emerging Palms” print by Kristin Gaudio Ensley, $97, The Maryn. 4. Pom Pom at Home Baya three-piece cotton basket set in Sky, $155, Perigold. 5. Le Bird large bowl in Bonaparte Blue, $240, Jill Rosenwald. 6. Gray tie-dyed fringe throw, $198, Jayson Home.

1. Javier runner, $182, AllModern. 2. Regina Andrew Malibu chandelier in Weathered Blue, $1,623, Perigold. 3. Framed “Emerging Palms” print by Kristin Gaudio Ensley, $97, The Maryn. 4. Pom Pom at Home Baya three-piece cotton basket set in Sky, $155, Perigold. 5. Le Bird large bowl in Bonaparte Blue, $240, Jill Rosenwald. 6. Gray tie-dyed fringe throw, $198, Jayson Home.

Home Office Makeover!

Since I’m on the topic of long-overdue updates, let’s talk about my husband’s office, shall we? The last time I mentioned it, I was on a quest to replace the World’s Ugliest Office Chair, which I did.

But then the room pretty much sat untouched, continuing to accumulate boxes of paperwork, miscellaneous décor pieces from other rooms of the house, and packaging material (he now runs his own wine company, the Upper Glass, from home). I needed an excuse to spruce it up—to get it a little closer to the handsome yet eclectic den that it will someday be.

That excuse came in December, when in the course of my day job as a content creator for Wayfair brands, the team was looking for an office to make over as part of a “small spaces” series. I pounced. You can head over to Wayfair to read about the project in detail, but here’s a sneak peek of what we did.

All images credit Allison Sepanek for Wayfair.com.

All images credit Allison Sepanek for Wayfair.com.

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My favorite new addition has to be the bamboo-inspired etageres. They’re navy, which is hard to see at a glance, and the high-gloss finish gives them some oomph.

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While I won’t call this room finished yet—I really do want to add some handsome wood wall detailing, add some concealed storage, and replace the overhead light fixture—it’s definitely looking more put-together than ever before. Click through to see the other half of the office, and let me know what you think!

Honed Marble Countertops: Three Years Later

As a blogger-on-the-side, I’m constantly telling myself I’ll post more updates. And I’ve even had fun things to announce! A feature in Apartment Therapy! Another one! A mention on Architectural Digest's new site, Clever, and an interview by the Associated Press that got picked up by the New York Times! OMG.

But if I’m being real, what actually inspires me to post here is real-life design questions and challenges. And a couple of weeks ago, a guy named Bill who found me via this blog reached out to ask about my countertops. You know, the ones I posted about in 2015 and said I’d update everyone on later.

Well, Bill was curious how those honed marble countertops of mine were holding up. He was thinking of putting in honed marble in his own kitchen, and wanted to know how they actually weathered the storms of my kitchen, kids, and life. Did I still like them? Knowing what I know now, would I use the same material, or would I go with something more “durable” and less costly, like quartz?

Here’s what I told Bill. And here are some crappy pictures I took to show him exactly what I meant.

Hi Bill! I still absolutely love the marble. It has taken on some visible wear, so if you’re partial to a really immaculate look, you might not be thrilled, but personally I love the character. It’s a very European/bistro look. 

I’m trying to get a good shot of what the etching looks like right this second but you can only see it under certain light and certain angles.

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Keep in mind I make zero effort to keep lemon juice/vinegar off the counters. I just deal. 

Also worth noting is the opaque marks that could appear around the sink edges if, say, your six year old throws a fish tank into the prep sink (yup).... it’s because it’s a softer stone, but again, these don’t bother me. I’d do it again!  

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So there you have it. Anyone out there have honed marble countertops and NOT feel the same way I do? If your experience has been different, what did you not like about their aesthetics and durability over time? Share with me in the comments below!

xx Donna

Obsessed With: Clean Countertop Finds

If 2017 was the Year of the Dirtbag, I’m hoping 2018 is the Year of the Clean Start. This week I was thrilled to be featured in Apartment Therapy for my ideas on getting rid of things that don’t work for you and your home—a major theme in my upcoming book—and I’m on a cleaning tear in my own house. Out with the clutter, the the messy piles, the yuck.

My dream for 2018 is for life to feel like this.

Or this.

This ain't bad.

A post shared by Will Taylor (@brightbazaar) on

Neither is this.

BWAHAHAHAHA. Kidding...There is no way 2018 is going to look this good 100% of the time, at least not in my house. BUT, if you look closely, all of these clean and uncluttered kitchens and baths have a few things in common:

  1. Lots of light.

  2. A good amount of white space.

  3. They’re not littered with products and packages that yell at you, or other visual noise-makers.

So I’m going to try to keep those principles in mind as I go about my decluttering and decorating. On the topic of #3, I’ve previously explained my neurosis around neutral-colored toiletries. But they’re surprisingly not easy to find. So today, in hopes of getting us all closer to these minimalist-spaces-of-our-dreams, I’m rounding up six beauty and cleansing lines I love not just because they work, but because the product can happily remain out in the open without making your space look like the bottom of a trash chute.

1. Murchison-Hume Clean Starter Kit, $42, Nordstrom. 2. Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser, $28, Petit Vour. 3. Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Glowing Hydration Body Oil, $44, Sephora. 4. Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Balm, $27, Nordstrom. 5. Farmaesthetics Sweet Soy Bath & Beauty Oils, $27 each, farmaesthetics.com. 6. Barr & Co. Reserve Liquid Soap, $28, Candles Off Main. 

1. Murchison-Hume Clean Starter Kit, $42, Nordstrom. 2. Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser, $28, Petit Vour. 3. Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Glowing Hydration Body Oil, $44, Sephora. 4. Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Balm, $27, Nordstrom. 5. Farmaesthetics Sweet Soy Bath & Beauty Oils, $27 each, farmaesthetics.com. 6. Barr & Co. Reserve Liquid Soap, $28, Candles Off Main. 

  • Murchison-Hume is a cleaning-products line I admittedly discovered via Instagram. I was like, whaaaat are those amber-colored spray bottles I see on every pretty kitchen image out there? Then I got a whiff of the fig scent and died.
  • Shamanuti is an all-natural skincare line to which I was introduced by my friend Alisa. (Fun fact: Her home makes a cameo in Your Home, Your Style!) This charcoal cleanser changed my rough and blemish-prone skin, no joke, and it's now a fixture on my bathroom sink.
  • Herbivore's Jasmine oil just mayyyy have turned me into a body-oil believer.
  • Aesop's hand cream? Let's just say I there are restaurants I have gone to primarily because they put Aesop products in the loo.
  • Farmaesthetics is a line I discovered a decade ago while working as a magazine beauty editor, on the hunt for pure, pretty, handmade products to include in home-spa roundups. And oh, this fit the bill.
  • Barr & Co.'s heavenly-smelling and photogenic soaps and lotions came on my radar via the cutest boutique in North Carolina last year, and it's been love ever since.

Have you tried any of these lines? What do you think? Are there any others you love not just for their function and scent, but for their looks, too?