Do you practice the minimal lifestyle yourself?
Yes I love simple, clutter-free living. Lots of space and air to breathe and contemplate and do yoga. And time to do the things I love and spend time with my family and friends. And I also love indoor-outdoor living, lots of connections to nature!
Do you find many clients exploring this new way of living?
Yes, very much so. Not all of my clients are “minimalists” stylistically. Some of them are downright traditional. However, when they come to me, they are usually making a transition in life, whether it’s scaling up into a house large enough to fit a growing family, or perhaps downsizing as empty nesters. Or they may just be new to town! But during those times of transition, folks always want to take the time to refocus on what’s essential in their lives, to dig that back up, and get it back going again. In addition, yes, I think as Nashville becomes more urban, folks need a home that is an oasis from all the noise in the city. And, more and more Nashville is attracting true urbanites, folks who enjoy living within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Those folks have no problem trading in big houses with lots of furnishings for smaller spaces, with perhaps less (and more open) rooms and furnishings – and more indoor-outdoor spaces! A “minimalist” style – or my process which refocuses back on what’s essential – fits very well with these trends.
How do you tackle a Project when it lands on your desk?
Our work is about collaborating with my client to create a “soulful home” – one which is filled with the things that make them feel alive, and enables them to do the things they love. We first want to know all about our clients’ hopes and dreams, their likes and dislikes. We often start with what I call “the magazine exercise” – where they show us images of things they like, or that they have researched specifically for their project. These days, that could be their Houzz or Pinterest boards as well. We ask of every image, “What do you like about this one?” You would be amazed what you learn about someone from one picture! And it’s never what you thought it was! If we are also exploring textures and colors, possibly furnishings, I might then go straight from the “magazine exercise” to fabrics – bring them bins and bags of fabrics, and let them do the same thing all over again. Again, I am always totally amazed at what I (and the client) learn about their color sense, the patterns and textures that they like, where they might go with them. I can more easily “pick a paint color” for their rooms, after we have done the fabric selections. After discovering what the clients are dreaming of, we turn to the house, and “ask it” all over again “what the house wants”. We talk a lot to our clients about “listening to the house” to find out “what the house wants” or “what the room wants”. We really encourage our clients to take their time with projects, and pause and “listen” to how the house likes what we’ve done so far. We can better react and keep going in a positive way then.
Working in the sustainable realm, are these resources available to you locally or do you have your go to stores and vendors in the US?
There are the basic resources here locally: wood, limestone, brick, metal, concrete – and of course vintage traditional rugs!!! If you want to make furniture, you can get pretty far with these materials, and the wealth of artisans here locally that can craft them. As far as sustainable upholstered furniture goes, we have one hidden jewel just down the road: Hickory, North Carolina is the main manufacturing center for residential furniture in the U.S. It “basically” sustainable, as furniture made there is good quality and should last a long time (not land in the landfill): Solid wood frames with good construction, made by people paid fair wages (also sustainable); the cushions these days are mostly foam (petroleum based) – but even if you don’t opt for the more recycled, latex (plant-based) or down kind, the foam cushions coming out of Hickory are durable and good quality – will last for several years. This is in contrast to the typical quality coming out of Asia (big box retail, typically) which often are made of not-so-solid wood, cheaply constructed, with not so durable foam cushions; and the people who make them are often not paid well. If you want to go up a notch and go truly sustainable, or more sustainable, in furniture, a lot of manufacturers (Lee Industries) now offer a “green” (latex based or recycled petroleum products) cushion option. There are also some manufacturers which offer totally sustainable furniture, such as Cisco Brothers out of California, but they do cost a little more. And one final plug: Don’t forget that vintage anything is sustainable! One of my favorite things to finish a home with is traditional wool woven rugs; they are timeless designs, soulful, and they last and last, and often keep and grow their value! Even the overdyed Oushak trend is sustainable, in that it gives a new life to a dull and worn out, but still sturdy traditional rug. The same holds for collectible furniture. A lot of folks have some of this stuff and don’t even know it; I’m the designer who doesn’t tell them to throw it away, but rather find it another home or a new life. Just recovering a perfectly decent chair is sustainable!
Why is helping people create an environment sacred to them important to you?
To me, a real home is a place where your heart and soul wants to be. I call it a soulful home. One that expresses your personal aesthetic, and also nurtures your own authentic way of living. There is no greater gift that you can give to yourself, your family and friends than a happy, well-designed home. For home is the place where we center, recharge, and gain the strength to go back out into the world and do our thing. The home is also our connection to the earth, which is also deeply nourishing and spiritual. I believe that we are not whole until we reconnect with the earth. Western spirituality has mostly focused on the “sky” element of spirituality – the intellect, the future, and the power and freedoms that attend. However, I think now, in this day and age, we need to reconnect with the earth, and get “grounded” in the here and now again. I really believe that this is a big part of what people are looking for, to complete in their life, when they are trying to create a home out of some physical space.
What do you love about your Job?
I love helping people get happy with their lives in their homes, helping them to feel empowered to live like they want to – and do it!
How do you like to spend your time off?
Hanging out on my back patio with my kitty Babette, sipping tea. We live in this old school neighborhood, Sylvan Park, where my 9 year old son can roam from house to house with his friends. My husband and I also love to walk to the restaurants and hang out.
Do you prefer the Outdoors or Urban Escapes?
I like both! I need nature to breathe, but I also need stimulation. However, I get so much from my day job that I often don’t do a lot after hours – except go to restaurants and shopping therapy – oh, and the occasional spa visit.