To mix things up a little bit this week, I am bringing you an interview with a young interior designer Anna Lee. I love to see what designers are doing across the country – Anna is based in historic Williamsburg, Va., and she is a whiz at organizing. She’s also very interested in sustainable design, something I’m interested in learning more about, too!
Anna was kind enough to feature me on her blog last week, so this week I asked her some questions about her own design style!
▪ WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK IN INTERIOR DESIGN? WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST?
I have always had a passion for interior design! Growing up I would flip through design magazines, watch the home improvement channel, and give my mother my input with designing our house. (My mother in her own right has an amazing eye – I have learned so much from her over the years!) While I had always anticipated becoming a teacher, I decided to take a chance mid-way through college and major in interior design. Though I’ve always enjoyed working with children, I felt that my real passion and talent was elsewhere. When making my decision to change course, I also decided that post-college I would launch my own business as an interior designer and professional organizer.
▪ YOU HAVE DONE SOME AMAZING ORGANIZING PROJECTS! WHAT ARE YOUR 3 TIPS FOR HAVING A WELL-ORGANIZED SPACE?
▫ Create a system that works for you and your family – this is vital! There are so many great organizing tips and tricks out there but you need to select something that is going to complement your needs and that will last. If you are unsure of where to start, a professional organizer can help determine what system would be best for you.
▫ Everything must have a place – while this might seem a bit elementary it’s gold. It saves you so much time, as you’re not wasting it looking for items – you know exactly where they are!
▫ Be gentle with yourself and gentle with others – this is a quote I found a couple of years ago, that continues to resonate with me. Not only can you apply it to organizing but also to life! While you and your family should try your best to follow your system and keep your space in order, remember that life gets messy – give yourself a break every now and then and just do the best that you can do.
▪ YOU LIVE IN AN AMAZING HISTORIC TOWN (WILLIAMSBURG) – DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MIXING HISTORIC OR ANTIQUE PIECES WITH MODERN FURNISHINGS?
I love mixing new and old! Some of the ways that I manage to do this are through:
▫ Balance and Repetition – By repeating a color or pattern throughout your space (through your furniture, décor, etc.) you create a sense of balance.
» Furniture: One way to achieve this is by having 3-6 pieces of furniture with the same color and style spread out throughout the space. For example, in our main area (living room/dining room) we have four pieces of furniture (three bookcases and a media cabinet) that are black painted wood. While these pieces aren’t particularly modern they are in comparison to our dining room set (a soft-brown wood, with upholstered, cane-backed chairs) and accent table. However, since both types of furniture are spread throughout the space, they work together, creating a sense of balance.
» Décor: Along with our furniture, we have a mix of both modern and traditional décor in our home. I make it work again, by spreading pieces with the same color and style throughout the room. An example of this is our six-shelf bookcase, which holds a collection of pottery, picture frames, and colorful books (traditional). On either side of the bookcase hang two pieces of black framed art that I created in high school (a bit modern), painted with colors found in the assortment of books. While this is a blending of old and new, the fact that they share the same colors makes it work.
▫ Elements of Surprise – elements of surprise are key to creating an interesting space! Don’t be afraid of putting a modern chair or accent table into a traditional room – just go for it!
▪ I LOVE THAT YOU PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE LIVING. WHAT ARE YOUR 3 GO-TO SOURCES FOR ECO-FRIENDLY FURNISHINGS?
With the increased awareness and support of sustainability in the design community, sourcing eco-friendly materials is becoming easier and easier these days. At the moment, my go-to places for eco-friendly furnishings are:
▫ Antique Stores and/or Your local Thrift Store – Antique stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and your local thrift store are great places to source unique pieces of furniture and décor for your home. While they may need a bit of work, they’re still often in good condition. Buying pre-owned items not only adds interest to your home, but also decreases the size of our waste. I love to purchase décor items (books, mirrors, accent pieces, etc.) from antique stores – the age or the pieces adds so much depth to the room.
▫ Online stores – such as Accompany and Kaufman Mercantile that sell fair-trade, artisan-made products. These stores offer beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces that not only support artisans but the environment. These stores are looking to make a change in how we approach shopping.
▫ Benjamin Moore – Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint is one of the most environmentally friendly paints out there. Besides containing zero VOCs, it also offers zero emissions, making it a safe but effective choice for you and the environment.
▪ IS IT POSSIBLE TO CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS THAT WILL HOLD UP TO BUSY FAMILY LIFE?
Yes! Most of the sustainable products out there are stronger and more durable than a lot of the newer products you might be tempted to purchase. This goes for furniture and décor but also things such as cleaning products. This past year, I’ve been making the transition from using traditional cleaning products, to using only those from the Honest Company and that are home-made. They do just as good of a job, if not better. I also feel so much better cleaning and using them in our home, as I know that I’m not bringing in any nasty, harmful chemicals.
▫ These are a few blog posts that I did in relation to this topic:
▪ IF YOU COULD LIVE IN ANY CITY IN THE WORLD, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
San Luis Obispo! My grandmother lived there for several years and after visiting her for the first time in 2003 I fell head over heels for the city. Located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this city is prime real estate. The vineyards along with the Madonna Inn, Avilla Bay, and the downtown area are some of my favorite places to frequent. I just love the overall atmosphere of the area – the architecture and design, fashion, and the community. It has been said to be one of the happiest cities on earth!
▪ WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE COLOR PALETTES TO DESIGN WITH?
▫ Blue & White – This is a color palette I am especially comfortable working with, as it is one of my mother’s favorites. She had a lot of beautiful blue and white china pieces that she implemented into our home. This palette is timeless and classic, and affords the opportunity of bringing in other bright colors as accents. While it is a bit traditional, I love seeing what designers are doing with it now-a-days, to keep it fresh and exciting!
▫ Black and White – This is my absolute favorite color palette to work with! It’s classic and can be used in a variety of ways – traditional, modern, glamorous – even Bohemian-chic. I like to keep a black and white space feeling warm by adding a sisal rug, soft woods, some greenery, and lots of texture and pattern in the form of pillows and upholstery.
▪ IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE DESIGN STYLE OR ERA, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
While I love the glamour of the1930’s and 40’s, my favorite style would have to be the Spanish Mission Style (also known as the Spanish Revival Style). This style began in the late 19th century, drawing influence from the 18th century Spanish missions in California. I find something very romantic and nostalgic about the style… The design of the interior, often includes colorful Mexican blankets, warm woods, white plaster walls, and wrought iron detailing, making for a warm and inviting space. I think in another life I must have been born in California because I am honestly in love with every aspect of the aesthetic of the State.
▪ WHICH ICONIC DESIGNERS DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
▫ Mark D. Sikes - Mark D. Sikes has always been one of my favorite interior designers. I just love his aesthetic – casual elegance. One of my absolute favorite design projects is how he designed his West Hollywood home several years ago. The color palette, textures, and finishes he choose have greatly influenced my personal style and my brand.
▫ Nathan Turner – I first heard of Nathan Turner through the Bravo show Million Dollar Decorators. While I am in love with the whole cast, I really appreciate Nathan’s aesthetic and talent for effortlessly layering items to create a dynamic space. The rooms that he creates are filled with such soul – they feel like rooms that people actually live in.
▪ WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN BOOKS RIGHT NOW?
I have to admit that I’m reading a lot more blogs and online magazines these days than books, however the last design book that I read and thoroughly enjoyed was Thom Filicia’s, American Beauty: Renovating and Decorating a Beloved Retreat. In this book, we follow along Thom’s journey as he purchased and renovated a house on Skaneateles Lake, in New York. Part memoir, part decorating, this book felt so personal and relatable – it has inspired me and taught me a lot about decorating (as well as renovation!) and is something that I highly recommend.
Thank you Anna Lee! It was very nice connecting with you!
Happy Connection Monday!