Archive From DC Metro Mommy
For those who haven't discovered the heavenly design blog Pure Style Home you are in for a fabulous treat this month. In the latest installment of "Mission: Design" I am sitting down with Lauren Liess, the founder of Lauren Liess Interiors and the author of the insanely popular blog, Pure Style Home. As you will learn, Lauren's self-described design philosophy of "pure style" is based on keeping things simple, happy and beautiful. She believes that the best way to do this is to weed out all of the unnecessary things and keep & seek out only what you love. Lauren doesn't just pay lip service to her motto "pure, style" rather she lives it and shares it with her clients and blog readers.
In addition to running a successful interior design studio, Lauren is a busy mother of two young children. In our interview, she shares her thoughts on design, family friendly furnishings and the challenges of being a working mother.
Claudine: For those who aren't familiar with Pure Style Home, can you give us a bit of information about yourself and the site?
Lauren: I started Pure Style Home in October of 2008 as a place where I could gather inspiration, share ideas & projects - both personal and professional projects - and write about the things that I love. I update it three to four times a week. I run my own interior design studio, Lauren Liess Interiors, in Herndon where I live with my husband, David, and our 3 sons. "Home" is extremely important to me. It's the place where we can relax, be ourselves and spend quality time with the people we care about. The design of a home determines how we live in it and I believe we can all live simply, happily and beautifully if we really put our minds to it. Pure Style Home is my way of figuring out how to do that.
Claudine: As we can see from your blog Pure Style Home, interior design is obviously a passion. What were the early signs that this would be the career path you would choose?
Lauren: Even as a little girl, I loved rearranging rooms and decorating, but I had no idea it was what I wanted to do for a living until I graduated from college and started working on my own apartment. I obsessed over the process and realized I needed to make a career switch into design.
Claudine: What is your design aesthetic?
Lauren: I would describe my design aesthetic as natural, comfortable, relaxed and almost effortless. I love to mix traditional & modern elements in my designs and a " ;personal" feeling is always my goal.
Claudine: I recently read that 70% of your clients are families. That is a big number. Would you say that you cater to families? Did this niche develop by accident?
Lauren: I would say that I really cater to anyone, be it a family or a single person. I love working with both equally because I approach families and singles in the same way. It's all about figuring out how people live and drawing out their personal style and creating a home that fits them, be it a family of 5 or a young professional. But, because I have a family, a lot of my blog posts are design projects with a family-focus. I think this has naturally attracted families to seek out my design services. They see that I already understand their general needs & wants. I'm in that same stage so I always have durable, low-maintenance style on the brain.
Claudine: As the mother of two young boys, has motherhood influenced your approach to space planning, design and fabric selections?
Lauren: Definitely! As I mentioned, things have to be durable, low-maintenance and kid-friendly; however, they also have to be beautiful & stylish. I believe that kids & beautiful things can coexist quite happily together. My philosophy towards kids and having a beautiful home is almost a backlash to traditional thinking. So many people told me that I would have a messy, toy-crammed home once I had children. I've made it my mission to prove that it doesn't have to be that way, which isn't always easy. But, you've got to "fight the fight" as we say in our house.
Claudine: What services does Lauren Liess Interiors offer perspective clients?
Lauren: We offer both full-service interior design and consultation services. My consultation rates start at $300 for a 1-2 hour consultation. eDecorating rates vary based on room and project scope. Readers can view my website, http://www.thepurestyle.com/, to view price points and additional details about the design process.
Claudine: You currently offer folks outside the DC Metro area an opportunity to advantage of your services via the web. What made you decide to branch out into eDecorating? Is this a trend that you think we will continue to see from Interior Designers?
Lauren: I branched out into eDecorating because I found that I had readers from all over the country who wanted my help with their homes. I think the trend is growing, especially with the increase of do-it-yourselfers who want professional input but want to implement projects themselves on their own timelines.
Claudine: What are the challenges associated with decorating from a distance?
Lauren: Well, you don't get to meet your client face-to-face and you don't get to physically stand in the space you're designing so it can be challenging.
Claudine: I noticed that you have a new online store. What made you decide to expand your business to the world of eCommerce?
Lauren: I'm constantly out and about shopping for my job and often come across amazing pieces that I have to walk away from. With the online store, I can now pass on my finds to others. I'm also working on a line of fabrics and custom upholstered furnishings to be sold in the store.
Claudine: What products will you offer on your online store?
Lauren: We'll be offering a combination of one-of-a-kind items such as rugs, decorative accessories and lighting along with a line of fabrics and furnishings that I'm designing. The online store will open in a few weeks. Although the link is not currently active, the store's website will be http://www.laurenliess.com. It will go live in mid-September. Stay tuned to my blog, where I will make the announcement about the grand opening!
Claudine: I am always curious what bloggers read. What are your favorite design blogs?
Lauren: Oh my gosh, I have so many! To name a few, I love Velvet & Linen, Eddie Ross, Colour Me Happy, Cote de Texas... I could just keep going on & on because I have about 20 "Daily Reads" and a lot more weeklies.
Claudine: What are your favorite local home décor stores and thrift shops?
Lauren: I'm actually moving my office out of the house this October to Leesburg, VA in the new Loudon Design Center which will be opening soon. The shop will be open to the public on Saturdays and will carry my line of furniture & fabrics, so it's got to be my favorite store. Some of my other favorites are the Old Lucketts Store, On a Whim Antiques, and German Favorite Antiques... For thrift shops, I tend to go to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Unique and anything else I see.
I can't wait to visit your new store! You sound incredibly busy. How do you manage a career with two small children? What are the struggles that you face?
Lauren: Hmmmmmm... hahaha I'm not sure I am managing it! Being a working mom is never simple. I tend to feel guilty when I'm playing with my kids when I should be working and I feel guilty when I'm working because I should be playing with my kids. But really, I have a very supportive husband and we do a lot together. We both share in all of the responsibilities - kids, cooking, cleaning. We have babysitting help and I try to keep my weekends clear of work for quality family time. It's definitely a learning process for us, but family time is our biggest priority and sometimes we have to miss out on other things like seeing friends or going to events because we know we need that time with each other. And I do love what I do, and am so thankful for that.
Claudine: What are some designer tips that you can share with families that are decorating with little ones in mind. Lauren: I'm actually working on a book proposal on this very subject right now! There are so many great tips to share, but I guess one would be to remember that kids like to bring their things - toys, pillows, toothbrushes, whatever they can carry into almost every room of the house. It's nice to have some attractive catchalls in those rooms to corral their stuff. It doesn't mean you have to store their things in every room, but just be open to the reality that your kid's teddy bear might end up on your bedroom floor and you might need a quick spot to stash it before you hit the sack. If you have something like a pretty basket to put it in, you can remember to empty it back into their room in the morning.
Claudine: At this point, I am going to interject with a few questions from a friend of mine who recently graduated from design school.
Tara - Interior Designer: Where does your inspiration come from when starting a new project? (i.e. fabric, picture, color)
Lauren: My initial inspiration comes from the client or the person who will be using the space. I get an overall idea of how the space needs to look and feel for that person to be happy in it and I go from there. I might be drawn towards fabrics that seem perfect for one client or a beautiful old chandelier for another and sort of work from there... There are different physical starting points for different projects but the first inspiration is always the overall atmosphere and that really comes from the client. Once you get an overall idea of how you want a space to feel, you can start browsing for actual pieces to put into a room.
Tara - Interior Designer: What tips would you give to finding a good upholster for furniture? What should we look for?
Lauren: Talk to people you know for good recommendations and ask for references from potential upholsterers. Be wary of any quotes that come in extraordinarily low because typically, you get what you pay for.
Tara - Interior Designer: What are some good tips to finding a unique one of a kind piece of furniture?
Lauren: Look everywhere and go with your gut. If you love it, then you can probably make it work.
As I have discovered, Lauren's projects are a perfect marriage of great design, everyday function and a bit of whimsy. She is truly a rising star among the DC Metro area designers.
To find out more about Lauren Liess Interiors, visit this LINK. To get hooked on an amazing blog, visit this LINK and sign up for the blog email alerts.
Image Credit: Lauren Liess Interiors & Aparment Therapy
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