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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