Design Tips

Spotify Secret Genius Writing Studio

This winter, I was approached by Spotify to style a new concept writing studio in Nashville, called Secret Genius. I was honored and admittedly, a bit nervous, at the same time. How does one design an inspiring space for Nashville's biggest songwriters?! I channeled my 10 years of experience working in the music industry and discussed my vision with my singer/songwriter friends, including my husband, to make sure the space felt, above all else, comfortable and creative.

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

The studio space that was chosen already included some rustic elements, so I knew I wanted to take its traditional bones and bring it into more of a modern place. Living in Nashville for 8 years, I’ve experienced first-hand the tremendous amount of growth that has taken place, and I wanted this space to both reflect Nashville’s deep roots while also nodding to the future of what Nashville has to offer as a modern city. 

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

The Spotify space is rented, so I wasn't allowed to change any of the walls. I had to get creative in how to make all the rustic textures work for my new vision. I achieved this by adding as much white and black as possible. The room has amazing ceiling height but still felt dark so adding as much white as I could was definitely a “must”. I separated the large open-concept space it into three zones, including this lounge where the artists can take a creative "break" when they find themselves stuck. The low to the ground bean bag sectional was the perfect choice: it is playful, evoking feelings of being a kid - a time where you were allowed to be creative and forget about adult worries and responsibilities. 

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

My favorite part of this project was enlisting some of my favorite local artists to provide black and white graphic art for the space. Instead of giving painter, Alic Daniel, a traditional canvas, I asked him to do his signature bold scribble technique on a piano. I was nervous how it would turn out (not because I doubted Alic but because I was second guessing my vision), but thankfully I didn't have time to overthink it so I pulled the trigger. Alic absolutely KILLED it. It is my favorite moment of the entire space and I secretly hope when Spotify decides to retire this space, I can somehow inherit the instrument. No one will notice, right?

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty
Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

The main living area was a challenge because unlike most living rooms, this space needed to accommodate a lot of recording gear, including a dozen guitars, microphones, speakers, a production desk, keyboard, etc. I knew the bold black and white artwork by my good friend, Angela Allen, would be the PERFECT centerpiece for the space. Her art pops against the rustic wood wall and add some much needed modern appeal.

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty
Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty
Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

Lastly, the "dining room" - a place to send some quick emails or gather together and share a meal. Here I asked Nashville-based rockstar photographer, David McClister, to showcase some of his black and white portraits of some of music's best talent including: Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. I used a combination of sculptural white dining chairs to brighten up the darker space. I'm obsessed with the Pantone S chair knock-offs and their weirdly fabulous and unpredictable shape.

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

A Stylist’s Guide to a Creative Space

ART: Nothing inspires art like art itself. A print won’t have the same impact as the real deal where you can see the brushstrokes, textures, and lines, and can almost feel the artist’s energy.

LIGHTING: There’s nothing more depressing than bad overhead lighting. Creating a nice glow will invite you to linger and stay awhile. A rule of thumb is to have at least three lighting sources in a room - and always have lights on a dimmer. For example: a sculptural overhead chandelier on a dimmer mixed with some low wattage floor lamps to brighten up the corners and a funky table lamp to add some style. 

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

 A COMFORTABLE SEAT: Whether you are working in an office or writing a song, if you don’t have a comfortable place to sit, you won’t be there for long. When you can, think like a kid - an adult-sized bean bag sectional creates an environment to play in.

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: Inspire “out of the box” thinking with non-traditional furniture. Find an oddly shaped chair and put it in the corner. Instead of a standard lamp - choose something more sculptural. Be  bold. I tend to be drawn towards designer classics from the 50s and 60s. Visit your local antique shop to find something unique!

Nashville Spotify "Secret Genius" Writing Studio designed by Life of Plenty

This has been one of my favorite projects to date. I love checking the @SecretGenius tagged posts on instagram to see how the artists are using and enjoying the space. I feel like a fly on the wall. It is so rewarding to be a part of a project that will spark creative energy and great music - two things I am so passionate about! - XO Carly

Taking the Focus Off of Your TV

Whether you recognize it or not, your psyche is highly impacted by its environment: a messy room can stress you out while a spa-like setting helps you feel relaxed. We, at LoP, focus on creating well-balanced spaces that recharge us with creativity, rest, and time with loved ones. However, attaining balance is usually easier said than done, especially when combining the practicalities of modern living with the goal of a restorative space.

One of the most common challenges I work on with clients, and one of the most transformative fixes, is moving a room's focal point away from the TV. This simple approach allows a room to be both functional and restful whether entertaining friends or unwinding in front of the latest episode of "Veep".

Here are three easy ways to take the attention off of your TV.

1. CHOOSE THE BEST SIZE TV FOR YOUR ROOM. Most people purchase a flatscreen that is too big for the size of their living room. Unless you have a room exclusively designated for watching TV, an oversized screen screams for your attention and creates imbalance when focusing on other activities like reading or socializing with friends. For an optimal viewing experience, a general rule of thumb is:

Viewing distance (in inches) ÷ 3 = Recommended TV Size

For example, if you're favorite seat is 10 feet from the TV, the viewing distance is 120 inches (10 feet x 12 inches). Divide 120 by 3 and the recommended screen size for you is 40 inches (remember, that's the diagonal measurement of the screen). You can always cheat the size up or down a few inches, but this equation is a good guideline.

2. CREATE A GALLERY WALL BEHIND THE TV. Hanging your favorite art in a grouping around the TV is a way to surround yourself daily with the things that inspire you. A gallery wall is also great because it moves your eye around the room making your space feel bigger. DESIGN TIP: Don't be afraid to layer some artwork slightly behind the TV so the arrangement looks more natural. 

 Design by Life of Plenty

Design by Life of Plenty

3. PAINT IT BLACK. Painting the wall behind the TV a soft black takes the focus off of technology and puts it onto the architecture of your home. When not in use, your flatscreen will visually disappear.

 Design by Life of Plenty

Design by Life of Plenty

Have you tried any of the above recommendations? What are you favorite ways to take the focus off of your TV? XO Carly