a small chat | dallas shaw

Posted on: November 29th, 2011 by rebecca

 

I have another fantastic interview for you guys today in the a small chat series. If you are looking for a dose of inspiration, you will definitely find it here – meet artist Dallas Shaw. I love everything about Dallas – her style, work, design statements. Dallas’s artwork is “diverse in medium and runs the gamut from modern, acrylic custom canvases to trend-setting fashion illustrations all inspired by the fashion industry.” Simply put – it’s gorgeous and impactful. She also has a beautifully curated design blog where she chronicles her fave things. Enjoy Dallas’s thoughts on her home style, using color, infusing personal style in the home and more.

Thanks for being part of *a small chat*. You are a such a talented artist and also a lover of fashion and design. How did you create a career around your art? And can you share your home style and how your art inspiration extends to your home?
My art career grew significantly when people knew more about me and began relating somehow to my personal taste. It makes sense- why buy a fashion illustration from someone who doesn’t understand fashion. My home style is forever changing. I actually just began renting a new town home so we are slowly filling it , by choice. I would rather leave a space empty then put something I hate in its spot. I make it a point to make sure I love everything in my home.

You have such an eye for color – your art is stunning and is full of interesting color palettes. Can you share some tips on creating a color palette that complements each other?
Thank you. If you are not  a designer and want to add color to a space I would recommend referring to the color wheel, or using lots of online photos for inspiration. I personally like to use whatever colors feel best together so I just follow my instinct when it come to color.

You chronicle your favorite things on your blog (which I absolutely love) and I can really feel that you love to create a space that is yours. The best “making a house a home”. What are some of your favorite things in your home and how you have infused them into your design style?
I really love the items my husband and I have collected while traveling. When you walk through our home it looks like a regular, home- but what people don’t realize is that every piece has been collected- and that will continue.

You talk about your loving of *mix-it-up* styles in your home. (I love it too!) Is there any process to this or do you create what you love? 
There is no process for me. I just do exactly what I love when it comes to the artwork and to the decorating. if I am out shopping and I love a piece I buy it- if you really love something you’ll find a spot for it.

Many (small space) dwellers can feel overwhelmed with adding style into a space that needs to work efficiently as well. Since you are designing a new home office, can you share how you are making a space that works for you and makes you feel good too?
Well, I very strongly believe that a space that serves no function is just a space and you’ll never use it. Make sure every piece you add to a space has a purpose. In my office mercury jars serve as pencil jars, a studded console serves as a printing area etc…

Thanks, Dallas!

Click here to enjoy Dallas Shaw’s gallery, her fab design blog, Dilly Dallas, and follow her on twitter right here.

And, enjoy more a small chat interviews right here >>

*Jeni Maus of Found Vintage

*Jeanine Hayes of AphroChic

*Julia Walsh of CasaSugar

:: all images via Dallas Shaw ::

a small chat: jill sorensen of marmalade interiors / live.like.you.

Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by rebecca

Another amazing A SMALL CHAT for you small space dwellers. This one feature the talented and sweet Jill Sorenson, owner of Marmalade Interiors and blog, Live.Like.You. As an interior designer, Jill has such a design eye and a real passion for creating impactful and comfortable spaces for clients. Enjoy her small chat below to hear about her design process, using color in small spaces, her launch of her decor line and how she ended up in the design industry. There are so many great tips here – enjoy them!
You are the owner of Marmalade Interiors, a design firm in Georgetown, DC. I love your story about how you got into the world of interior design…the company that you had hired to do your space, hired you! That is some passion you have for design and feeling good in a home. Can you share more about your love of design and what inspires you? 
Everything pretty much inspires me. Improving someones life by improving their home inspires me, making people happy when they come home from work inspires me, changing someones outlook via design inspires me. Moving someones senses with design inspires me. It’s all about helping people and making them happy. I’m by an extremely visual person and I can remember the tiniest design detail or color combination in any space I walk in, and get a gut instinct of what to do or what I think needs to be done. So using that ability to help others makes sense to me.

Aside from a fantastic design portfolio, you also have a popular blog that is full of great ideas, thoughts and your favorite things. I love the title – Live. Like. You. YES! I am true believer in this idea and how important it is to live your best self in your home and in your life. I especially love your PERSONALITY section where you provide entire room inspiration based on emotions (A Happy Home? Yep, I’ll take that one. And the gorgeous blue chandelier too) Share your thoughts on “living like you” and what that means.  

LiveLikeYou was created because I wanted to make design available to people who can’t afford an interior designer. Most people go to the major retailers when designing a home, PB, Ikea etc. they are not sure what to buy, so they buy something safe..like a beige couch. And they’re often insecure about what color to paint the wall, or they don’t have time to deal with it- so they pick something safe like beige, or never paint because the simply can’t make a decision. And go on living like like every body else… not living like the unique human beings they are!!
Interiors deeply affect your well being and possibly even your future. So I wanted to shake people up, and think outside the box and enhance their lives. Because we are not all the same…so why should we live the same? I think we all would be much happier if we loved where we live.

Starting the design process can often be overwhelming for many small space dwellers – creating a floor plan that works, curating furniture, concepting a color scheme…it’s a lot to do in a smaller space. How do you start the design process for some of your smaller scale homes? Can you offer a few tips for small space dwellers on getting the design process up and running going and keeping it going? 

Step 1) Go through what you have. See what you can use, what you can reinvent (paint etc.) and what needs to be thrown away. Clearing clutter is key! Nothing will look good unless you do.

Step 2) Try the pieces you already have in different areas to see where they work best. In a small space let rooms double task. Use a couch at the end of a bed, or a desk at the end of a bed or as a bedside table. Be space efficient.

Step 3) Look at inspiration photos to see what colors and styles you’re drawn to.

Step 4) Think Outside of the Box and forget boring design rules. Be creative and organized and allow your space to evolve over time.

I recently started doing Skype Consultations and to go through space and help people create a to-do list. You can make remarkable progress and come up with an entire plan in 2 hours.

You have such an eye for balance, cohesive and accessible design and (my fave) color. What are your thoughts on color in small spaces? How can readers use your awesome COLOR section to concept ideas for their own homes?
Don’t be afraid of using color in a small space. A color will make the space feel warmer and more engulfing and perhaps even hide just how small the space is.  The important thing when picking a color is selecting colors that look great together. In all the LLY personalities I’ve picked wall colors for the rooms that work together nicely to help people with color schemes. If you have selected a wall color and have an accent color you would like to add, I suggest using or color section too see what you can add that gives it that occasional pop of color. I personally love to shop via color, because I believe color is the most important and most fun aspect of design.

Aside from designing gorgeous spaces and keeping up with your community on the blog, you also have launched some new products – congrats! Tell us more about your favorites and why we need to have them in our small spaces.  
Small space should never mean small style. The carpet that comes out next week offers a bold honeycomb pattern in fun colors. I like to call it the perfect Recessionista buy because the carpet offers enough pattern and style for the entire apartment so you can save money on the rest. Mix it with all IKEA and it will make IKEA look expensive. The bedding has the same philosophy. It’s graphic and makes all the statement you need in a room, yet versatile in a variation of interiors. Again, I just design what I love, and what I haven’t been able to find for the right price. I like things with good quality, fairly affordable with a spunky classic vibe. 
Thank you, Jill!! Check out Jill’s work and style at Marmalade Interiors, her fantastic and fun blog, Live.Like.You. and catch her over @livelikeyou
Enjoy over 100 more small space tips in the A SMALL CHAT series, including chats with…
 

 :: images courtesy of Marmalade Interiors ::

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a small chat jeni maus | found vintage rentals

Posted on: August 23rd, 2011 by rebecca

Hi all, I am so happy to share a new interview in the A SMALL CHAT series and this one is simply awesome! I am planning my wedding and have been spending some major design time on wedding-inspired blogs and websites. One of my absolute favorites – the blog and website of Found Vintage Rentals blog by the lovely Jeni Maus. Jenni has over 12 years of experience in the wedding industry and has an incredible eye for discovering and curating gorgeous vintage furniture and decor items. Seriously – Jeni’s collection of vintage goods is thoughtful and dynamic – I love it all! As a design lover, enjoy what Jeni has to say about choosing pieces for small spaces, mixing and matching design styles, creating vignettes in your small space and more.
You are the founder and owner of found, vintage furniture and decor rentals and sales. You have such an eye for curating unique vintage pieces across the board. (I absolutely love your style!) How do you search and then select pieces to ultimately create a vignette? A lot of small space dwellers want to add as much style into their square footage and picking the best pieces is sometimes a challenge.

My motto is “form over function.” Our home was built in 1926 so I know about small spaces, and when I decorate it (yes, I am constantly changing things) I don’t always think about the most “functional” pieces, but rather the ones I like to look at. Not to say that nothing has a purpose, but I want to love everything I have in my spaces. Another crucial element in decorating small spaces is, layering. It creates depth, and can actually make a space look bigger by putting pieces on top of and around each other.

Your collection of available pieces is amazing and it’s quite a mix of textures, colors, patterns, etc. I definitely believe that mixing and matching furniture and decor in a small space works and can make a room appear bigger with the addition of textures. What tips can you give for mixing and matching furniture? Is there such thing as too much mixing?

“It’s in the mix, not the match!” I am, nor never have been a matchy, matchy kind of gal. Furniture is a great way to express your style putting pieces together that may consist of different kinds of wood, or shapes just shows a dynamic personality. I love throwing is some industrial pieces as well. The straight lines and harsher materials are a wonderful contrast to the softer, chippier pieces in my collection. I think it is a great balance.

On loving. living. small., I often talk about making your house a home and the foundation for this is to feel great in your space. You create “real moments” in your vignettes for weddings, events, photo shoots, etc. I mean, I think I could lay back and relax on one of your sofas in a field of green grass for days – your photos truly evoke a sense of feeling fabulous. :) How important is it to make a furniture layout “feel” good and what are your tips for making this happen?

Accessorizing. It is crucial. Pillows, candles, books, lamps, clocks….there are so many ways to make a vignette more inviting, which is exactly how I want my clients guests to feel at their wedding. I want Uncle Fred to feel like he is sitting in an outdoor living room, chatting it up with other family and friends. If too many accessories feel overwhelming, I would say pillows are at the top of the list of must-haves to make a space feel more comfortable. Even throwing a rug down under the coffee table (yes even if it is on the grass) makes the space feel warm, and comfortable.

I often tell small space dwellers to edit their things and really integrating items they love into their home that also are efficient in the space. Can you offer a few ideas on how to edit a space? What about adding in new pieces?

When you love something, you can’t live without it. You can walk a room/or any space, and some things will evoke emotions, some will not. Some items have memories associated to them, or sentimental value, and some just make you happy. If there are pieces that don’t do any of these things, most likely you could do without them. This may also open up the door for incorporating new pieces that will evoke those emotions! I am always adding, switching around, making changes. You will always find things that you love, how much you love them is the question? I base that love and the decision to buy an item on how it makes me feel. If I know I am going to smile every time I look at it, it usually goes home with me.

Where do you find your vintage inspiration (flea markets, magazines, films, environment, etc) and what has been your favorite vintage find? I can’t wait to hear what you love because I love all the items you have on your site :)

Home magazines and blogs really inspire me. One of the most relaxing things to me is to curl up on the couch and look at one of the many home magazines that I subscribe to. Blogs are the same. I get lost in them, and feel inspired at all of the beauty and creativity in the blog world. Flea markets do the same. I spend hours and hours at them, and there is no better feeling than finding something (that you weren’t at all looking for) but wonder how you have lived without it all this time :) My favorite find…easy. A chair that has been completely stripped down to the lining, (buttons still attached with fabric) and horse hair and hay coming out all over the place. The original upholstery webbing is still attached on the back and the caster wheels are original, but the chair is not to sit in. It is itchy and pokes in weird places, but it will remain un-upholstered in my dining room (or somewhere in my house) for as long as I live.

Thanks, Jeni! Definitely click here to check out Jenni’s fabulous website and blog, found. Follow her right here @foundrentals. And enjoy over 20 more small space inspired interviews from designers, lifestyle experts, design bloggers and more, including…

:: all images via found ::

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a small chat Jeanine Hays | AphroChic

Posted on: March 23rd, 2011 by rebecca

I am thrilled to share a brand new A SMALL CHAT, the interview series on loving. living. small.  that features designers, design lovers and style enthusiasts sharing their thoughts on common questions about living in a small home. This interview is with a special friend, Jeanine Hays. I first met Jeanine in the summer of 2009 when she attended the 2nd Blog Out Loud event. From there we remained in touch (I even got her on the Blog Out Loud 4 panel) and she’s a fantastic and creative person.
Jeanine is the Founder and Creative Director of AphroChic, a design brand that features original and colorful products from pillows to tabletop to wallpaper and more. With the recent launch of their 2nd line, Brooklyn Renaissance Collection, AphroChic is fast becoming a style hotspot and product must-have. Jeanine has such great taste about design and thoughtful living, let’s hear what she has to say about using color in a small space, designing the often small bathroom, integrating pattern and art in a small space and sources for {small space} inspiration. 

1) You are the Founder and Creative Director of AphroChic, a design brand that highlights modern design and artists from around the world. You’ve now launched two successful and gorgeous lines of accents from vibrant pillows to bath items to table top decor. Tell us more about AphroChic and it’s appeal for the home.
AphroChic is all about marrying a modern aesthetic with cultural elements all wrapped up in a sustainable package.  The appeal of many of our designs are the colorful prints and abstracts patterns that truly add a pop to any interior.  And for many of our customers, they love our dedication to sustainability and using all natural and organic materials as well as local manufacturers.
2) Color truly can transform a space – both from a physical and emotional perspective. How important is color in your line and color in your home? What tips can you give small space dwellers for using color to create a design vibe?
Color is essential!  I am a huge fan of color and patterns and what they bring to a space.  Whether a small or big space, colorful accents can take your home from blah to warm and cozy.  I love playing with pattern and pops of color, and in my small space I bring color in with accent pillows, vases and art work.  
3) Bathrooms are the quintessential “small space” in most homes and they are often underestimated for their design opportunity. With the launch of AphroChic bath items, share your thoughts on this space and tips for creating big design in small spaces.
Start with the shower curtain.  That can set the tone for the entire space.  That’s why we created our shower curtains with bold, oversized prints.  They just say, “Welcome home color!”.  If you can’t hang a curtain, focus on places where you can add a bit of color with interesting towels and bath mats.  You don’t have to be all beige and white in the bathroom.
4) Patterns and art can also add texture and a design tone to a space. I love your new line and the art featured throughout. Share your creative vision for using patterns and art on AphroChic decor and how it translates to one’s space?
I really wanted to bring art into our collection.  I am a huge fan of fashion illustrations and watercolors and wanted to see that reflected in our pillows and accessories.  I contact artist, Samantha Hahn to create our watercolor prints, and she brought my ideas to life.  Art on textiles tells a story, and add a beautiful dimension to an interior.  Just one Brooklyn life pillow can express the person who lives within the abode.  I love that!
5) You feature tons of great interiors, designers, style and inspiration on the AphroChic blog. Where do you personally find inspiration and how do you create inspiration in your home?
I am inspired by so much that is out there.  Every time I hear about a new artist or designer creating something new and unique I want to share it with other design lovers.  I think the blog is fueled by my need to share all of the beautiful things that are out there.  In my own home, I try to bring some of that inspiration in, whether it’s a print from an artist I featured, or something as simple as a set of gorgeous pencils that I saw online.  I work to bring it all home and create an eclectic and colorful space that truly reflects AphroChic style.

Thank you, Jeanine! Check out all of the fabulous style and products at AphroChic right here and inspiration on the AphroChic blog right here.  Follow on twitter / @AphroChic.
Want to read more great interviews about small space dwelling and making it work? 
Check out more than a dozen A SMALL CHAT interviews, including these lovely folks…


:: images courtesy of AphroChic ::

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a small chat Ashlina from The Decorista

Posted on: October 26th, 2010 by rebecca
I am so excited to share my next A SMALL CHAT interview with you guys. The lovely Ashlina, the blogger and interior designer behind The Decorista is here to share her thoughts on small space dwelling, style and making the most of your home. Ashlina has a great eye and write with clear passion on her popular blog, The Decorista, She covers a range of design from color to texture to fashion to interiors (of course!) She also runs a design and e-decorating business where she collaborates and guides clients to their best home designed self. Let’s hear what Ashlina has to say about upcycling, trends and her prediction for 2011 color story.
Tell us about your interior design business and blog, The Decorista. It’s full of inspiring and fab design ideas. What’s your current inspiration as we head into November?
The Decorista is a love project and was not born overnight. It came out of my love of interior design and passion for the art of making a house a home. I started the blog as a way to release all of my ideas and thoughts about decorating to a place where I could share with others and inspire people to love on their homes. I believe in the importance of taking pride in where you live, as it is a reflection of your lifestyle.
Rapidly, The Decorista became a social thing and entered me into the blogging community where I have made some of my best friends. Through that I have now been able to actually turn my blog into a legitimate business and have reached out to clients worldwide, something I never dreamed possible.
Now that my world has headed in this direction, I have been getting inspiration everywhere, my mind is constantly filled with ideas. This fall I am loving this new look I like to call the “industrial revolution”. Restoration Hardware has really captured this look well, I think Ikea is coming out with it now too. Texturized + weathered wood, exposed steel and metal finishes, really industrial looking lighting, with emphasis on the bones of furniture.Very earthy. I love it.

One of the biggest challenges with small space dwelling is balance and space. What is your advice on editing a space and also finding room for that “amazing chair I spotted at a flea market that I have to have but have no room for” piece? (I just went through that myself :)
Living in a small space does present its challenges, but I find that its actually easier to edit a small space, than fill a larger one. Planning is key! The way to having success in a small space is well executed organization and space planning. As for that amazing “one-of-a-kind” chair that you can’t resist…I use the same philosophy as I do in my closet, when new stuff comes in, out goes the old! I always welcome a fresh change in my home decor, it sort of brings fresh energy in. Good feng shui, I think.

One of the big trends of 2010 was upcycling, reusing existing pieces in a fab and fine way. What are your tips for upcycling pieces and how do you add that extra touch?
Oh how I love the art of upcycling! It’s probably one of my favorite hobbies. You can never go wrong with two coats of high gloss paint. I prefer white and black as I love a classic look. However, I have also seen huge success with bold colors, such a blue or crimson. To add a really chic touch, I suggest beautiful brass hardware or lucite hardware (those are going to be your best bet)! Don’t overthink your ideas, usually the simplest idea, will be the best looking.

On that note, as we wrap up this year and head into 2011, what do you think the next big design ideas will be? Any color stories you think will be popular?
You know, I really think this “industrial revolution” is gonna be big and I think you will see it around more. In L.A., there are so many stores and restaurants on board with this look. Dark steel grays, rustic woods, really worn leather, exposed burlap & textured fabrics in creams, black, brown and grays. There is a store in Venice called Obselete that nailed this look to perfection.

Entertaining in small spaces can be super fun and intimate. What are your best tips for creating a fantastic evening for a seasonal dinner party?
Oh goodness, this is my favorite part about living, entertaining! First of all, great guests and assigned seating are key (always boy, girl, boy, girl). I have gotten the best feedback from throwing a fete with a color story and theme. The colors, the music, the food, the decor, should all tell a cohesive story. When working with a small space, consistency makes the best statement! Make sure to pull out your best dishware and use it for everything, like a beautiful teacup for sugar or dipping sauces. Use those crystal winestoppers you got for stocking stuffers last christmas. People always forget the details are the most important. Oh, and use unscented candles, you never want to confuse scents with your food. Keep the fancy fragrances for the guest bathroom, where finely scented soaps will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Ashlina. Click here to enjoy The Decorista (I love it!)

And enjoy tons of small space style with more A SMALL CHAT interviews from >>

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a small chat Julia Walsh | CasaSugar and Polk Sheet

Posted on: September 24th, 2010 by rebecca

I have such a great A SMALL CHAT for you guys to enjoy. Today’s interview is with the lovely Juila Walsh, editor of home design site, CasaSugar, and her own blog, Polk Sheet. I had the pleasure of meeting Julia earlier this summer at the Nesting Newbies shoot. She has a very cool style, loves design and is inspired by her city and neighborhood, Russian Hill in San Francisco. And as an editor for super popular CasaSugar, Julia has her eye on what’s hot now, how to create a comfortable space and and design styles for the masses. Let’s hear what she has to say about setting up a small space, design inspirations, common small space scenarios and more.
As an editor of CasaSugar, you have a fantastic point-of-view on home design across the board. What are your top 3 tips for setting up a space (big or small) that everyone can enjoy?
• Whatever room you’re decorating, however small or large, decide how you want to use the space (and be honest about it) before bringing in any furniture. For example, if you live in petite quarters and you entertain often, make plenty of room for guests by selecting an array of multipurpose stools and ottomans rather than standard hefty armchairs. If you have an expansive living room, which you mostly use to watching movies and catch up on work, forget the spare seating and bring in a desk and cozy sectional.
• Original artwork is a key element in what makes a house a home. Make an effort to curate your own collection and only buy what you love; it will show.
• Painting your walls is the easiest trick in the book and it can be done in a day. Not only can does color bring personality to a room, but it also has a psychological effect. If you want a calm, relaxing space, use cool colors, which recede; if want stimulation and a feeling of closeness, use warm colors.
Small space dwellers have only so much space to enjoy and there are always fantastic new products coming onto the scene. What are your thoughts on curating decor accents for one’s small space?
• Since I’m so enthralled in the design world, I tend not to scoop up all the accents I love; I know what’s overpriced, what’ll be out of style in a moment, and what’ll end up tucked in the back of a cabinet in three months. While creating vignettes with accessories is a foolproof way to make a space more polished, small space dwellers should be wary of collecting clutter. By all means, snatch up every vase or bowl that makes your heart stop beating, but be prepared to give them away if you can’t find a place for them. Just this weekend, I gave a gilded jewelry tree I’d fallen for at an antiques fair to a friend because I had no tabletop space for it — it feels good to cleanse!
I love the idea of design inspiration – anything and everything can provide a source of creative style for a small space. What are some of your design inspirations?
• Oh too many to name! I’m inspired by art, textiles, photography, architecture, pattern, and texture! And of course design blogs, shelter magazines, and interiors stylists and photographers, as well as their sartorial counterparts. Lately, I love to use strange objects in unpredictable ways, like a bowling pin as a door stop or a candleholder as a table base, so the form of something is much more important to me than its function.
CasaSugar has a such a lovely community – what are the most common small space scenarios that come up? i.e. Dealing with a small space? Decorating a small space? etc.
• Casa does have a lovely community! Our readers are so gracious, helpful, and creative with their feedback; it feels like we’re all decorating together! Surprisingly, I find that one of the most common dilemmas that comes up isn’t so specific to size but more to impact. Readers often are on the lookout for one particular must have item, like a wallpaper they saw on Gossip Girl or a more affordable version of something that really says “that’s so me.” Since a lot of us do live in small spaces, we want each and every item to really reflect our style, rather than to fill up space frivolously.
• Another scenario that often comes up is how to re-work a hand-me-down or dated furnishing to give it a fresh, more unique look. Whether that means painting a dresser or modernizing an old painting with a new frame, CasaSugar Community members are always trying to be creative with their décor so that it demonstrates their distinct aesthetics.
You have a fab blog, Polk Sheet, that chronicles your Russian Hill neighborhood in sweet city, San Francisco. I am also all for city inspiration – the architecture, culture and textures of a city make design work. Share how you gather inspiration from your city and how it translate in your own small space.
• Thank you! I am definitely in love with my neighborhood and San Francisco in general. It’s funny you ask because I’m pretty obsessed with city-inspired artwork, whether it’s imagery of landmarks, a landscape painting, or features some silly insider term that only locals would get. An artist friend of mine and I have been thinking about making screen prints that say “back door” and “step down” — catchphrases for anyone who rides the MUNI bus. I’m also saving up to buy an acrylic painting of some of my favorite buildings on my beloved Polk Street from a Russian Hill shop called Interior Visions. I’m in love with everything that SF-based artist Hilary Williams creates; I am just waiting for her to make a screenprint of my neighborhood in colors that I like and then I will pounce! I’ll even admit I also painstakingly recreated a knockoff of Julene Harrison’s San Francisco papercut artwork that reads “This Must Be the Place” with cable car, Coit Tower, and Golden Gate Bridge imagery. (see it here)
• I also try to support local artists and friends from all the cities I’ve lived in. I recently bought a photograph from Samantha West, a friend I met years ago when I lived in New York, and one day I’ll own a piece by New Orleans painter Amanda Stone Talley, whose home and studio I visited the last time I was in my old NOLA stomping grounds.
Thank you, Julia! Check out CasaSugar, Polk Sheet’s blog and facebook community.
And enjoy tons of small space solutions from the A SMALL CHAT series:

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a small chat Monelle Totah | VP of Design, Williams-Sonoma

Posted on: August 31st, 2010 by rebecca

Elle Decor features Monelle’s home :: Gorgeous!

A Williams-Sonoma Home pretty floor display

One-of-a-kind accents at the Williams-Sonoma Home shop in Palo Alto, CA

Simple and elegant details on Williams-Sonoma napkins

I am very excited to share loving. living. small.’s newest A SMALL CHAT interview with the lovely and talented Monelle Totah, VP of Design for iconic brand, Williams-Sonoma. I blogged about Monelle’s chic, elegant yet completely comfortable San Francisco home in Elle Decor last summer. Simply put – I loved it. The design, the style and the presence of Monelle’s space went straight into my inspiration notebook. Flash to earlier this year and I had the pleasure of writing a bit for the Designer Marketplace, the Williams-Sonoma Inc brand site. Through my work, I had the pleasure of meeting Monelle. She’s been with the company for many years and has had a major hand in creating and styling the look and tone of Williams-Sonoma as we know it today. I recently asked to interview her for A SMALL CHAT to share with you all.

You are the VP of Design for Williams-Sonoma. What a fantastic and creative position! Share a bit about your role with the company and how you got initially started in design. (As I say on loving. living. small. it takes one thing to get you going)

I’VE ALWAYS LOVED INTERIORS – COLOR, TEXTILES, FURNITURE – I STARTED AT WILLIAMS-SONOMA AND HAD THE AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH THE COMPANY’S FOUNDER, CHUCK WILLIAMS, STARTING CHAMBERS CATALOG – TRAVELING TO FIND THE MOST WONDERFUL ARTISANS OUT THERE, SEARCHING FOR THE BEST OF THE BEST. THIS WAS REALLY THE START OF MY RETAIL CAREER. THE DESIGN PORTION BEGAN WHEN WE STARTED SEEING ANTIQUES THAT INSPIRED US AND WE WANTED TO PRODUCE PRODUCTS THAT HAD THE SAME AFFECT ON OUR CUSTOMERS — IT WAS AN EVOLUTION FOR SURE – BUT ONE THAT STILL REQUIRES A PASSION FOR PRODUCT!! I ALSO LOVE TO ENTERTAIN SO GETTING INVOLVED IN WILLIAMS-SONOMA TABLETOP DESIGN HAS BEEN GREAT FUN…I LOVE TO SET A TABLE AND HAVE A DINNER PARTY!



Many small space dwellers need to be thoughtful and edit their accents to create a harmonious home. This can often be a struggle since there are so many amazing furniture and decor pieces in the marketplace. What are your best tips for editing a space and what are your suggestions for when you “have to have that new item” in an already full space?

I AM THE QUEEN OF “HAVE TO HAVE’ AND TRUST ME, MY HOME IS NOT HUGE…MY FAVORITE TIPS TO CHANGE THINGS UP WHEN A NEW COLOR OR TREND INSPIRES YOU : COLLECTIONS – SMALL COLLECTIONS GIVE A ROOM THAT FEELING OF INSPIRATION AND SURPRISE – SILVER MATCH STRIKERS, BOXES…BOOKS: I LOVE A GREAT DESIGN BOOK, AND AM OFTEN INSPIRED BY A GREAT COVER OR BINDING, A STACK IN A COLOR CAN ADD POP TO A ROOM ..PILLOWS: WHETHER THE TREND IS CORAL, EQUESTRIAN OR A POP COLOR, A COUPLE OF NEW PILLOWS TAKE UP NO SPACE AND GIVE YOUR ROOOM A WHOLE NEW FEEL. 
ARTWORK – COLLECTING GREAT PIECES OVER TIME, NOT NECESSARILY EXPENSIVE BUT PIECES THAT PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE – FLEA MARKETS ARE GREAT FOR SKETCHES THAT YOU CAN FRAME IN DIFFERENT FRAMES – AND IF YOU HAVE ANY INKLING FOR PAINT AND GREAT WHITE CANVAS, MAKE YOUR OWN JACKSON POLLACK.


You’ve had a long and exciting career with Williams-Sonoma that often including product design and style. Color and texture play an integral role in creating dimension in a small space. Can you share your thoughts on using color and texture, how to mix and match and what colors work best for small space living, if there is one?

SMALLER SPACES REQUIRE A “CLEAN CANVAS” TO START – I WOULD START WITH NEUTRAL UPHOLSTERED PIECES AND THEN PILE ON THE COLORS AND TEXTURES. I AM A FAN OF LINEN OR A BRUSHED CANVAS – THERE ARE GREAT NEUTRAL TEXTURES OUT RIGHT NOW. DETAILS LIKE NAIL HEADS CAN ADD FLAIR…MIXING AN OLDER ANTIQUES ADDS A TEXTURE …AND THEN USING YOUR ART, ACCESSORIES AND TEXTILES TO BRING COLOR TO YOUR ROOM – A STRIPED RUG, A TEXTURED PILLOW OR STACK OF BOOKS CAN ADD COLOR WITHOUT TAKING UP TOO MUCH SPACE. 



Your home in San Francisco was featured in Elle Decor last year and I personally fell in love with your space, design aesthetic and elegant yet comfortable vibe. Your house feels very much like a home, one of the main themes I talk about on loving. living. small. How did you create the design for your space and what personal touches have you included in your home that makes you feel great after a long day?

DON’T FOLLOW RULES – EVERYONE SAYS YOU CAN’T HAVE WHITE SOFAS MUCH LESS WITH A BLACK DOG – NOT ONLY DO I, BUT I SERVE RED WINE TOO! A ROOM HAS TO BE LIVED IN…MIXING OLD AND NEW, MODERN W. TRADITIONAL…DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT. 
COLLECTIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO ME – THEY ADD SUCH A PERSONAL TOUCH – I TRAVEL A LOT AND LOVE TO BRING HOME “A TREASURE” – OR WHEN GOING TO FLEA MARKETS I DISCOVER 1 SUGAR SHAKER, THEN ANOTHER AND BEFORE I KNOW IT I AM COLLECTING SUGAR SHAKERS. 
SMALL SPACES –I HAVE A LITTLE ROOM THAT I RETREAT TO, THERE’S A SMALL TV (YES, I WATCH PROJECT RUNWAY) MY MAGAZINES STACK UP TEMPTING ME TO CURL UP AND READ THEM…SMALL PRIVATE SPACES ARE THE BEST RETREAT – AND IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE, MAKE ONE – A CORNER IN A ROOM – A COMFORTABLE CHAISE OR CHAIR AND OTTOMAN.
Thank you, Monelle!
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:: Top images via Elle Decor and all other images by me ::

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a small chat peter walsh | organizing expert

Posted on: June 25th, 2010 by rebecca

Today I have a special A SMALL CHAT featuring organizing expert (and friend of Oprah), Peter Walsh. Every small space dweller is looking to keep a styled yet organized and clutter-free home. This can definitely be overwhelming when space is limited. But there are ways to go about making your small home feel bigger and better! Let’s hear what Peter has to say about form & function of small spaces, small space tips, editing a small space and more.

loving. living. small. readers are thoughtful and passionate about living their best in small spaces. As an organizing expert, what are your thoughts on small spaces? (from an emotional and efficiency perspective?)

Living in a small space can be overwhelming and stressful when clutter gets out of control so with a small space it’s imperative to remember that you only have the space you have! I know this sounds odd but I am often hit with the complaint ‘I don’t have enough space!’. Space is fixed, you can’t magically create more and so you need to tailor the amount of stuff you have to fit into the space available. When you move into a small space (or if you’re already there), you must also make a commitment to an organization system that works for you. This is the only way to keep you sane and productive. Once you declutter your living space and develop a system that fits your lifestyle, work, furniture, etc., small spaces can lead to a rewarding, efficient way to live.

You just launched a new product line at OfficeMax called “Peter Walsh you.organized.” What are some ways this can be leveraged for small spaces?

Sure, I designed the “Peter Walsh you.organized” collection with small spaces in mind. With so many people living in apartments and condos or living with roommates, space can really be a commodity, and when it comes to your workspace, you need to be as efficient as possible with space and organization. My new line at OfficeMax includes an all-in-one desk collection that comes with a workspace table, file tray, cord management system, portable bill-paying caddy and storage ottoman that doubles as a seat, paperwork file and even laptop tray! The line also features a console table for additional desktop real estate, and my personal favorite – a system of wall boards that enable vertical organization. From intuitive calendar boards to cork, ribbon and dry erase, this totally customizable system of boards enable organization without using a lot of space. The wall boards are great in a kitchen environment for the entire household to use, a home office setting, or a small workspace area in your living room or bedroom – you create the configuration best suited to your space.

I believe organization is vital to feeling confident and in control of your life and work. Your desk sends a clear signal about who you are and how you approach your work. You should have an organized desk at the start and finish of every day! With that said, I created this collection for OfficeMax with the goal of helping people achieve that peace of mind, reestablish order, and get back in the driver’s seat of their work and lives. Oh – and it also looks great!

There are tricks to make small spaces appear bigger – such as painting walls cooler colors or using mirrors. Keeping a clean and organized space is also an important one. What are some tips you suggest for people living in small spaces to help them get and stay organized without it feeling overwhelming?

Having clean and organized areas certainly makes a smaller space appear larger. If you’ve let things slide and are looking to take back control, you need to first consider your situation and decide what you need to purge and what simply needs a dedicated “home.” Once you purge unwanted items (and donate or recycle what you can), group like items together and identify locations for storage. You may need to purchase storage bins, desktop organizers, mail bins, key holders and so on to setup an effective home organization system. Clearly label all of these items, so the entire household understands their purpose and can easily and quickly locate them.

Once your home is organized, the trick is to maintain this on a daily basis. Leave nothing till ‘later’ but rather put things away when finished with them or complete even the smallest of tasks. At first, you need to retrain the way you think about every jacket, pair of shoes, piece of paper, keys, etc. as having a “home” or dedicated space. For example, stop yourself when you start to dump your mail on the kitchen counter and instead put it in your mail tray. Once you get the hang of your new system, it will become automatic, you’ll feel more in-control, efficient and aware of the items in your home and – best of all – you’ll find that clutter doesn’t suddenly appear and take over your space.

Many small space dwellers have one main room that needs to play double or even triple duty (living room? check. dining room? check! office? check!) What are your thoughts on making a multi-functioning room effective for each function?

In a multi-purpose room, create zones within the room that are dedicated to each specific task. Try to make this area totally dedicated to the desired function and avoid distractions. For example, if you’re creating a workspace in your living room, place your desk facing away from the TV, keep your desktop clean and dedicated to your work items ONLY, and use the wall space for organization and to-do lists. I would also suggest using furniture that has multi-purposes, such as a chest that is used as a coffee table and offers storage space inside. Small spaces can work incredibly well but they take care to set up and discipline to maintain.

With clothes, it’s easy to apply the “if I don’t wear it in a year, I’ll get rid of it” rule. What is your purge/save rule for small space decor and furniture that’s not particularly being used? (i.e. you love a chair but it doesn’t fit into the decor or it’s stashed in a closet)

The rule of thumb is ‘Does this item help me create the space I want?’ When it comes to furniture and décor items, there is definitely a time to get rid of pieces that have outlived their usefulness, are not being used or don’t match your home décor anymore. Because furniture and décor items can be more expensive than clothing, people often want to keep these items despite their lack of functionality or purpose. But if they are not contributing to your space, you should consider selling them at a garage sale or giving them to a friend or thrift store. Also, in small spaces, any item of furniture that doesn’t serve multi-functions is likely not to contribute to the most efficient use of the space. Be careful before introducing new items – carefully think through how you’ll use them and how they will compliment what you already have in the space.

I love the idea of layering furniture in small spaces and placing furniture in front of other pieces to create dimension and utilize the footprint. That being said, sometimes I feel like my small space is, well, too small. Can you offer advice for helping small space dwellers reboot mentally to gain perspective and begin bringing order back into their space?

No matter which space in your home, design, décor and organization should work together hand-in-hand. All too often, people think of style and décor but forget the functionality and organization side of a room.

To gain perspective, try to engage a fresh pair of eyes from a friend or organization expert to offer feedback about your space. You can also snap a few photos and print them out for review. Try to think objectively about what you want the room to achieve and how each element in the room adds to this goal. If something is not contributing to your vision, you may want to consider finding a new piece to take its place or removing it out all together. By thinking objectively and working toward an end goal, you can start streamlining your space that will help you achieve what I like to call, organizational bliss!

Thank you, Peter!
Check out Peter’s design site, Peter Walsh Design, and Peter’s new product line at Office Max, Peter Walsh you.organized.
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a small chat: Kelly of High Street Market

Posted on: February 5th, 2010 by rebecca

 ::  just a few fab things to be found in the High Street Market shop  ::

I am happy to share the first A SMALL CHAT interview of 2010 with you guys and it’s a good one so get ready! I had the pleasure of e-meeting the lovely Kelly, owner of High Street Market, an insanely gorgeous and popular vintage goods shop on Etsy and blog of the same name. A longtime interior designer, Kelly’s taste is amazing and she really carries gems in her online shop, perfect for anyone’s style.  She fearlessly moved into a brand new old home (a 117 year old historic foursquare pictured above) recently and took some time to answer a few questions. Enjoy Kelly’s thoughts on design, small spaces and life. {Thanks, Kelly!!}

Your popular Etsy shop, High Street Market, is full of vintage gems and finds. You mention on your blog that vintage items can “bring a sense of personality and interest to your home unlike any other “new” accessory can.” (I love that thought!) How do you go about buying for your shop?
I only buy what I like, and it’s usually aesthetic that drives my purchases.  But generally, I search for items that have great detail, a classical theme, or some sort of interesting aspect to them.  Quality is extremely important to me.  I look for pressed or blown glass, beautiful porcelain, brass, silver, or marble.  And, I love finding vintage items that can be used in a modern way.  For example, a fancy brass napkin holder looks awesome in an office holding cards, photos, or mail.  Or, an ornately carved footstool can be reupholstered with a fresh modern fabric… For me, it’s all about mixing the “old” into modern living.

Share some rewards that adding items – like the products featured in your shop – can bring to one’s small space.

I think that people are craving character in their home accessories.  Like me, they want something that is unique and made of great quality– not the same thing that their friend just bought at a retail store.  Everyone wants to have their own sense of style and, to me, vintage items help express that in a better way.   And, a tiny item can bring a BIG impact– especially in a small space!  For example, some of my favorite things to collect for the shop are vintage brass animals.  They are quirky and unique, and really make a statement on a stack of books or sitting on a bedside table.

You are also an interior designer. What are your best tips for making over one’s small space? It’s a new year, new decade and many small space dwellers may want a new look in their existing space.
In a small space, limit the contrast in colors!  Concentrate color in select areas, while keeping a more consistent color palette throughout.  With a more monochromatic room, your eye travels around the space more freely and ultimately makes the room feel bigger.  I also love using furniture with high legs to trick your eye into believing you have a larger space.  A coffee table or side chair will appear elevated even if it’s only a few inches higher than average…  it feels less blocky and more open, again, making the space feel bigger.

What are your suggestions on mixing vintage finds with more contemporary decor?

To me, it’s all about mixing modern with vintage.  In my opinion, too much vintage can look a little creepy… like you’ve stepped back in time.  You want your space to feel fresh, unique, and comfortable for modern living.  I would stick to buying furniture with clean lines and simple shapes… and then mix in an antique chair, a collection of vintage brass elephants, or a marble lamp for interest.  It’s all about editing and mixing the vintage items that you really love, with the modern objects you use everyday.
You have so many pieces I want!! What are your thoughts on having a lot of decor and accents in a small space without feeling cluttered? 
Edit!  Edit your tchotchkes and keep collections together to create the greatest impact!  If you collect ironstone, give it a shelf and display it.  Collections should be displayed together for the most cohesive, clean and modern look.   And, I hate to say this, but if you have a small space, limit your collections.  We don’t have to have a collection displayed on every single surface of your apartment.  Pick a few things that you like and stick to them.  With only a few collections, the pieces really have room to shine.

Want to read more great interviews? Click here to see all of the A SMALL CHAT series. 

 

A SMALL CHAT: Lisa Parks of Space/Lift Interior Design

Posted on: November 16th, 2009 by rebecca

Interior designer, Lisa Parks, is this week’s A SMALL CHAT. Lisa is no stranger to designing spaces that feel comfortable and stylish in both form and function. Aside from design, Lisa has been prop styling for many years and has an eye for detail. Let’s hear what she has to say about incorporating color into small spaces, versatility and design challenges that she often encounters.
What would you say is the most versatile small space accent?
That would definitely be a square or round coffee table with a little bit of height (21″ – 24″ is perfect!). This table can serve its original purpose, but can also function quite well as a dining or game table – just have a few floor pillows stacked nearby.

As an interior designer, you work with clients looking for change. What’s the design challenge you see most often and how do you encourage your clients to improve their space?
Many people that call me for a consultation for smaller spaces have furniture that’s oversized for the room, or they have too much of it. One of the first things I do is to shop around in other rooms to see if pieces can be swapped for something more size appropriate. I also help clients determine which items should stay and which need to go. It’s sometimes hard for them to part with certain things, but in the end they’re always happy with the results.

Color is an affordable and impactful way to change a small space. What are your best tips for incorporating layers of color in a space to add dimension without the space feeling overwhelming?
If I’m working with a small space I’ll generally use softer colors on the wall or will paint just a focal wall in an accent color. Incorporating pops of color with throw pillows or a small upholstered chair is a great way to add dimension to a space. I also tend to stick to one main color and then usually bring in a couple of accent colors. Bringing in shades of white is a nice way to add a little contrast, give the colors breathing room, and keep the space feeling airy.

What’s the rule of thumb you follow with small spaces? some people say “when you bring an item in, take an item out.”
Just because the space it small, it doesn’t mean you should always use small accessories. That will just make the room look cluttered and will draw attention to its smallness. Instead, limit your accessories and choose some items that are more substantial in size such as a larger piece of artwork rather than a lot of smaller ones.

What are 3 simple ways to improve the layout of a small space?
  1. Try not to put every piece of furniture against the wall if you can help it. Doing so makes the room feel flat and defines the perimeters of the room, making it feel smaller.
  2. Invest in furniture that can perform double duty (such as a high coffee table). You might find that you’ll need less furniture in the room.
  3. It’s okay to have a small blank wall or an empty corner. Don’t feel that you need to have every space filled.
Thanks, Lisa! Check out Lisa’s professional website, Space/Lift, right here and her fun blog of the same name right here.
Enjoy more A SMALL CHAT’s from loving. living. small.
Fleur of Phunklab
Viv of ish and chi
Laure Joliet of Dwell
The Novogratz’s of Sixx Design