October 2, 2017

House Tour and Interview with @homestyledreams!

Hello, lovely readers! I’m so glad you stopped by on this gorgeous fall day! There’s nothing like the start of a new season to put you in the decorating mood. So allow me to crank up the decorating spirit with a home and beach house tour that will blow your mind and have you rushing to your nearest design store for more brightly-colored accents! 

I’m super excited to introduce you to my incredibly talented Insta friend and fellow design enthusiast, Sheila Casey (@homestyledreams). You might know her for her vibrant, exquisitely put together rooms and strong sense of symmetry. Sheila lives in Connecticut with her husband, Dave, and cocker spaniel, Manny. It didn’t take long to figure out that she's a kindred spirit (by now you all probably know that I’m a bright color kind of girl)...and Sheila's house is brimming with an array of colorful accents, many of which you will find linked up throughout this post! When we “met” over Instagram a few months ago, we instantly connected over our love of decorating...with LOTS of color (as I knew we would!).  In addition to filling my blog with tons of bright imagery today, Sheila will be sharing with us some cherished moments from her decorating journey in this interview and tour…

First, tell me three things about you! 
1. I never, ever wear flats. You’ll either find me in sneakers or stilettos.
2. I drink an excessive amount of Diet Coke. I love it!!! There is nothing better, in my mind, than an ice cold Diet Coke. I know it is unhealthy but I rationalize my enormous aspartame consumption by otherwise ingesting healthy food and exercising regularly. I have never had a cup of coffee so Diet Coke is also my necessary caffeine source. 
3. I adore animals – especially dogs. I absolutely LOVE our sweet, furry cocker spaniel, Manny! He’s the best little boy in all  the world!!!
What inspired you to start @homestyledreams?
Good question! By profession, I am a behavioral psychologist. For twenty-five years I have primarily worked with children in hospital, school, or home settings. Although rewarding at times, working with children presenting with challenging and dangerous behaviors is often physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. 
On the other side of that same coin is the creative me. I have always been interested in fashion, home décor, color, patterns, architecture, photography, travel, and music. Quite honestly, in the past, I have often dismissed this side of me as frivolous. When I was in college, and especially in graduate school, I felt such pressure to be serious. As a woman I felt an additional burden to constantly prove myself academically. My creative pursuits that had brought me so much joy were put on the back burner. In hindsight that was a mistake. Art, creative expression, just being silly is so very important to me – it’s my passion. I would quietly tinker around my house painting, designing, and decorating to escape the enormity of responsibilities associated with my career. Friends and family would always give me wonderful feedback when they visited our home here in Connecticut or at our little cottage at the beach. I decided to let the cat out of the bag so to speak and start @homestyledreams less than one year ago. I sent an email to a few friends and family members explaining @homestyledreams and requesting their support. I wanted @homestyledreams to be a creative outlet. Initially my profile picture was a couple of colorful pillows. I wanted to maintain a level of anonymity while I navigated the Instagram waters. I was nervous and exhilarated at the same time. I have over 1900 followers now from all over the world. I’ve changed my profile picture to a photograph of me and I am growing increasingly more comfortable sharing a bit of my creative expression and design. I absolutely cherish the people, such as yourself, that I have met through @homestyledreams. Fellow Instagrammers from around the world have inspired me and taught me so much in such a short period of time. Lesson learned to my younger self; don’t suppress your creativity or your passion, let it flourish and good things will come to you!

Our tastes are remarkably similar! She too gravitates toward tropical accents, animal prints, and playful accessories. As she recently mentioned, how awesome would it be if our living rooms were melded into one big yummy space?! 😆

Chairs: Target // Similar x bench // Similar rug // Artichoke tulipiere: Wayfair 

Pillows: The Blush LabelOliphant DesignDana Gibson // Chairs: Target 

I love that you are unafraid of bright colors (me too!). What are your favorite ways of introducing color into a space?
Pillows, pillows, and more pillows!  I love pillows and they are such an easy way to instantly incorporate color, pattern, and texture into a room. Additionally, I infuse color into our home with various home accents. I have invested in quite a few ginger jars and trays by Dana Gibson. Her work is beautifully rich with color and pattern! I style the rooms in my home with vases, picture frames, area rugs ,throws, prints, artwork, flower/greens (even artificial ones as back up) and I love my colorful coffee table books!
Blossom lamp: Houzz // Books: Amazon 

How would you define your decorating style?
Wow, I never thought about defining my style. I usually make decisions regarding clothing, home décor, design simply based on my mood and feeling. If my choices feel good then they usually look good. I gravitate towards bright colors, clean lines, patterns, texture, fresh, nature inspired design.  It is so freeing to have an aspect of your life where there are no rules or restrictions. 

Doesn’t Sheila’s living room remind you of one of those gorgeous birthday cakes with layers of pastel frosting and brightly-colored sprinkles? YUM!
Trays and jars: Dana Gibson // Console: Society Social // Dog print: Willa Heart // Similar Greek Key stools

Five things you would never leave out of your house
1. Manny’s ramp. In January 2013, we learned, Manny, our beloved cocker spaniel, suffers from spine disease and needed neurosurgery to remedy a herniated disk. He was only five. Although the surgery was successful, we were told that to prevent future herniation Manny would no longer be allowed to jump or go up and down stairs. There are stairs everywhere in and outside our home. While my husband carries Manny up and down stairs in the morning and at night, we had to come up with a plan for taking him outside throughout the day, While Manny was recuperating from his surgery I sketched some designs for a paver ramp. We took down two sections of spindles from our veranda and pulled out seven large shrubs along the driveway and built a beautiful paver ramp from the front porch wrapping around the side of the house down the length of the driveway. Out the front door, down the ramp, and Manny is good to go! Manny’s ramp was probably the most significant and best investment for our house to date! I can’t imagine our home without it and Manny is afforded the independence and freedom of movement he deserves.
2. Our Dunes and Duchess custom made Yachtsman Pendant chandelier hoisted twenty-four feet over the stairway in our foyer. It took me 10 years to find the perfect light fixture to welcome our guests into our home and this pendant couldn’t be more perfect. The story behind its acquisition warms my heart. I posted a picture of the standard size Yachtsman Pendant on @homestyledreams and tagged Dunes and Duchess noting how the fixture was number one on my Christmas wish list. Well, Dunes and Duchess responded, we talked, I measured, and, voila, it was made!!! The chandelier is extraordinarily beautiful and fills our home with joy. Obviously, if we were ever to move the chandelier is coming with us, always!!! 
3. My white Society Social Console table. This is the most versatile piece of furniture we own. I have styled this console table in numerous ways, reflecting my current mood, seasonal changes, functionality, etc. Everything works on this table and it is home to all my little treasured accents! It is so much fun to change up and style!
4. Pillow Inserts! As mentioned, I love my pillows and I have to fill them with only the best, plump down inserts. The right insert can turn an inexpensive pillow into a luxury item. I have a small closet stocked with pillow inserts.
5. Flowers! I love the outdoors and I have to have fresh flowers in my house! Seeing and smelling flowers or plants in my home instantly enhance my mood. I am not averse, however, to decorating here and there with artificial flowers as long as there is a vase filled with fresh cut flowers nearby.

Chandelier: Dunes and Duchess

You have mastered the art of decorating with throw pillows! What are your tips for creating a stunning pillow arrangement?
Thank you so much Summer! One of my quirky, guilty pleasures is pairing men’s ties with shirts. I thoroughly enjoy shopping for my husband and can spend hours browsing in the tie department. In many ways I liken ties to pillows and the same process that goes into the pattern play with ties can be applied to layering pillows. First, pillow selection is a lot easier when you have a neutral sofa or chair, especially white or ivory. It’s a blank canvas affording you more options. I also suggest investing in neutral pillows such as white linen, animal print, and palm print pillows. When styling a sofa I usually start at the arms of the sofa with a pair of large (22” or 24”) neutral pillows. Working toward the center I choose a pair of slightly smaller pillows with a large subtle print in 2, maybe 3 colors, but not too busy. Those pillows then flank a pair of even smaller (18” or 20”) pillows with a completely different contrasting and more colorful pattern. For example, a small spotted pillow beside a larger ombre shaded pillow or a floral pillow beside a palm print pillow. At the center of the sofa I look for a special lumbar size pillow that mixes all the shades of color in the larger pillows; perhaps even with a hint of new color or added details such as tassels, piping, texture, etc. To further showcase the lumbar pillow I may frame it from behind with a larger, white linen or a soft velvet pillow. Always buy larger pillows in pairs for symmetry and framing the overall look of the sofa. Most importantly, have fun, have a pillow party! Expert pillow layering takes practice, trial and error, and a vision. 

Pillows: Ballard Designs, Willa HeartPiper Collection // Tray: Dana Gibson // Sofa: Bernhardt Furniture

Where do you tend to shop for home décor?
Unlike clothing, I rarely make impulsive purchases for my home. I do my research and I learn from the personal interactions I have with staff at the small businesses I frequent. My go to, local, brick and mortar home décor store is Vivid Hue Home in Farmington, CT. I have probably purchased 90% of all my Dana Gibson pieces there, as well as Society Social merchandise, World’s Away furniture, Cotton and Quill pillows, and so much more. The personal touch of the local independent business owner far outweighs any small discount I may find at a big box store. Additionally, I will get online and purchase home décor items and furniture directly from independent makers such as; Dunes and Dutchess, Emily McCarthy, Piper Collection, WillaHeart, Paige Gemmel, Mari Robeson, Annechovie, and many more. And when I am in the mood to seek out a “find”, well of course, I go to HomeGoods!

Sheila and Dave also own a gorgeous Nantucket-style beach cottage on the Cape (major #goals, right?!) and THIS is the living room!! I love how both houses consistently reflect her love of color. SO much energy and joy emanating from this space...
Tell us about your house on the Cape!
It’s magical! When we were first looking to buy an affordable second home on the Cape we had to decide whether we wanted a great location or a larger, updated home further from the shore. True to form, when choosing any of our homes, we sacrificed space for location. From our front patio you can see a glimpse of the ocean and you can hear the soft trickle of the gentle surf. Our cottage is cozy, with wide plank knotty pine floors throughout each room. The walls in the main living area are white shiplap from the floor to the top of the vaulted ceiling. The kitchen and bathroom walls are covered with white bead board. I love the large semicircle window where the ceiling peaks in the living room and the floor to ceiling windows that wrap around our eating area. With a southern exposure we have an enormous amount of gorgeous, seaside, natural light. With all the structural character, our cottage was very easy to decorate. I didn’t want the décor to overshadow the rooms so I kept my furnishings clean, fresh, and smaller in scale. I found this beautiful, ivory, floor sample sofa at a local furniture store. I chose pillows with a predominately ivory background to reduce fading effects and a few printed pillows of fuchsia and navy. I flanked the sofa with two wicker side tables and a pair of beautiful white pagoda lamps with navy linen shades. We have a simple sisal rug for the floor with a smaller fuchsia and ivory indoor/outdoor area rug cordoning off the seating area. I found this adorable rattan bar cart and stocked it with Emily McCarthy flamingo cups, anchor glassware, a polka dotted ice bucket, and an assortment of vases for fresh cut hydrangeas. I have a wide array of large baskets filled with beach towels and blankets. All my linens are simply white. The exterior of our beach home is classic Nantucket style with gray shingles, a navy blue door, and white flower boxes filled with pink geraniums. Despite all that charm it’s the beach, steps away, that takes are breath away with each visit. Our place is high up on a bluff and the quickest access to the beach is via an old driftwood stairway. On most days you can see clear over to Martha’s Vineyard. I long for the day we don’t have to work so much and we can spend more time at our little beach cottage. Some day.
Favorite cocktail?
Tanqueray and tonic! Hands down, any time of the year!

Basket: Pottery Barn // Ice Bucket: Emily McCarthy Shoppe // Print: Willa Heart 
Favorite space you’ve decorated and why.
My studio apartment in Washington, DC that I rented straight out of graduate school and after landing my first real job! It was 640 square feet with a galley kitchen and a “walk-through” closet to the bathroom. The rest of the apartment was one large square space, with white walls, two picture windows on one side and parquet floors. My parents bought me a dining table with six chairs, a coffee table, and bookshelves all from Pottery Barn for a housewarming gift. I bought a black sofa from Ikea, an antique dresser from a flea market, and I had a queen mattress on a solid oak platform. To separate my bed from the living space I positioned it up against the far wall and hung three curtain rods around the three exposed sides of the bed. I used a thin, transparent cord to hang the rods which made them look as if they were levitating and weightless. I chose six, white sailcloth panels to hang from the rods. When guests came over I simply closed the curtains and it really worked out well. I used two rugs to cordon off the seating and dining areas. I remember primarily having animal print and emerald green throw pillows. On the walls I hung all my travel photographs in a planned pattern. I loved that apartment and after 14 wonderful years living in DC it was very difficult saying good-bye. Despite its small size it was the place where all my friends gathered together before heading out for a night on the town. My landlord rented out the apartment to the very first person who saw it and the new tenant liked what I had done with it so much that she bought the rods, curtains and rugs from me. My first design success!

I could stare at your vignettes for hours! How did you go about styling this one?

Cabinet: Vivid Hue Home (local boutique) // Gold and white jars: Dana Gibson // Similar gold jars // Pillows: West Elm, Piper Collection 

Thank you Summer! I was so excited when this glossy, white lacquered World’s Away cabinet arrived and completed our foyer! As you can see there is a lot of symmetry going on to bring order to a colorful look. The pair of chairs flanking the cabinet, each with the same pillows, and the pair of marble and gold lamps on the cabinet provide balance to the vignette and a pleasant aesthetic. Also, the symmetry allows for a great backdrop to put a fun mix of accents on the cabinet. I started with the large, textured, gold ginger jar in the center to draw your eye to the gold cabinet hardware as well as the jar. The cabinet is so white that I wanted to continue with the same theme by using a shorter, hammered gold jar. The overall look is enhanced by how nicely each of these jars reflects the natural light. The white and gold mesh Dana Gibson ginger jar finishes the trio beautifully. I purposely chose the varying heights so the jars would appear interlocked with one another and fluid. To balance out the corners I added catchall trays for keys or change. When using fresh cut flowers in the Dana Gibson gold and white mesh pen holder, I fill a toothbrush holder with water and insert it into the pencil holder to protect the painted finish.  I chose the mix of pillows on the chairs to tie in the colors of the painting. From back to front I chose a larger, green velvet pillow, followed by a neutral palm print, and then a small, gold threaded linen pillow with an orange velvet zigzag applique in front. Buttressing the pillows together I used white lacquer Dunes and Duchess door stops. When I need to leave open the French doors on the opposite wall I utilize the door stops for their intended purpose. It’s fun to improvise and create a unique look.

Pillows: Vivid Hue Home (local boutique), Society Social, Ballard Designs // Blush headboard: Target 

Ginger jar rug // Pillows: Well Made Home // Print: Willa Heart 

One of the many things I love about your house is that it’s always evolving! If you had to choose just one decorative component of a room to update what would it be and why?
Such a good question and very timely! We need lighting! I recently put a list together for a new dining room chandelier, first floor powder room ceiling light, a master bedroom chandelier, and a new outdoor light for our front porch. For me, I can instantly update a room with pillows in the afternoon and change it up again at night. But for a dramatic update I love lighting! It took ten years to know, without a doubt, our foyer needed the Dunes and Duchess Yachtsman Pendant! Ten years!!! Sometimes I can get bogged down searching for the perfect look. And that, my friend, is why my home is always evolving; it’s a process that never ends which defines passion, right?! 
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Summer! I feel so honored that you selected me for this interview. I absolutely love your style, your fearless use of color, and I find myself continually inspired by your gorgeous home décor and @girlsinmadras vignettes!!!

Three things I’ve learned from following Sheila… 

#1: There’s NO such thing as owning too many throw pillows! After seeing Sheila’s gorgeous #pillowscapes, I felt a small sense of relief that I was not alone in my pillow obsession (and non-minimalist pillow arranging tendencies). And I LOVE that Sheila fills her sofas and chairs to the brim with pillows. Three to a chair? YES, please!

#2: Don’t be afraid to mix pastels and brights. One question my color-shy friends often ask me is, “can I mix pastels with brights?” Of course you can! Pastels are neutrals as far as I’m concerned. 

#3: Symmetry is always beautiful. 

One of my favorite things about blogging/Instagramming is meeting wonderfully talented, like-minded people who would happily talk fabric and paint colors all day. I adore every single thing about Sheila, from her decorating to her warm spirit that transcends the digital medium. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview this intelligent, creative, inspiring woman! Thank you for sharing your story, Sheila!!