Styling

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

Welcoming Spring

A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home

It's officially spring and finally starting to feel like it here in Nashville! It is one of my favorite seasons (behind fall) and I look forward to the welcome signs of the changing season: the pink and white blossoming trees, multi-colored tulips, and neighbors emerging from hibernation. So when my friend, Gracie Moakler, a branding and social media consultant, reached out to me to help brighten up her space before she left for spring tour with her husband, country singer/songwriter Steve Moakler, I was happy to help.

An Eclectic Bohemian Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home

Gracie had her eyes set on this amazing wallpaper from Anthropologie, which we used to create a nice focal point that can be seen from the home's entrance. We paired it with a jute rug to make the dining room feel finished but not too formal. The solid wood dining table grounds the space and the colorful metal dining chairs, from Urban Outfitters, add another pop of color, along with some great texture.

A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home

The dining room chandelier came with the house and serves as an interesting centerpiece to the room.

Forsythia bushes are some of the first signs of spring here in Nashville, so I brought in some large branches along with some fresh blooms from my favorite Nashville wholesale flower shop, Import Flowers. We celebrated the finished result with blood orange kombucha tea and some inspiring conversation! How do you get ready for spring? - XO Carly

A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home
IMG_8544.JPG
A Bright and Colorful Nashville Dining Room | Life of Plenty Home

New Year, New Living Room

I am starting 2018 off with a living room refresh! The winter weather has coaxed my husband and I into spending more time by the fireplace in our front room, which means more time staring at the adjacent living room. While the living room is functional as-is, I’ve learned a lot about my personal style through designing the last few years, and I’m feeling a bit restless and eager to be bolder in my own space. This is the perfect room to incorporate changes that reflect this evolution.

Here is a current photo of the room. 

LR BEFORE.jpg

The major mistake I made in this room was never having a design plan for it. The only update I knew I wanted to make, initially, was painting the walls white to match the front sitting room so it feels more like one, big room. 

The room is small (11 feet x 11.5 feet) so when we first moved in we did invest in a perfect-sized sectional couch from Robin Bruce (found here) to help maximize seating. The splurge is one I’m glad we made. Four years later the couch still looks great and is just as comfortable. The higher back and down-wrapped cushions support long sitting sessions (movie night anyone?) and the slipcover means I can throw dirty cushions into the washing machine.

The one thing I wish the sofa did have was a longer, more minimal bench seat cushion, to give it a more streamlined and modern look. Unfortunately, despite endless searching, I could not find an option that fit our specific dimensions and budget. And while I love a modern sofa, Andrew is a huge advocate for comfort. The couch we chose in the end has been perfectly cozy for the room, which we spend a ton of time in. 

DESIGN TIP: I highly recommend investing in a high-end (the best you can afford), neutral sofa that will stand the test of time, hold up to use, and outlast trends. It is easier to add style to a room with affordable accessories that you can change out as your tastes evolve, than having to replace a large item, like your couch.

Here are my design challenges for this space:

LR Proposed Changes.jpg
  1. Lack of contrast: A cream sofa against white walls with natural linen curtains and a white chandelier shade = boring. Adding contrast will add much-needed sophistication.
  2. Lack of texture: There is so much fabric in this room! A slipcovered sofa with a skirt, long curtains behind the sofa, a fabric shade on the light fixture and decorative pillows - it’s all just too much. 
  3. Trendy decor: There is nothing wrong with rustic, industrial style (I love it in the right setting). This coffee table was my attempt at incorporating the trend into our space. Unfortunately, there isn't anything else even remotely rustic industrial anywhere in our home and our home is a 1939 bungalow. I’ll admit the purchase was more an afterthought than an intentional addition to the space. I'd love to find a unique coffee table that will also add personality.
  4. Limited changes: My long-term vision for this room is to make it an office when we completely renovate our home, so I won’t be making any structural changes.

The plan:

MoodBoardFinal.jpg
  1. Incorporate modern touches: One of my personal design preferences is adding vintage accents to new, modern homes to help create a feeling of history, and adding modern accents to update older homes. Because our 1930’s bungalow already has a ton of character, I want to replace our bland light fixtures with something modern and sleek, to add contrast.
  2. Add personality: I plan to purchase a better fitting coffee table and side chair that will simultaneously add personality. I am also open to replacing the rug (or getting ours professional cleaned), whichever works best with the new design.
  3. Update window treatments: These sheer, linen IKEA curtains are closed most of the time because they are a pain to open (I actually have to stand on the couch to open and close them). It’s a shame because this room gets the best light in the house and we aren’t currently taking advantage of that. I'd love to replace the curtains with something more functional that also shows off the wonderful wood window trim. I mean, why cover that up?! Maybe a fabric or textured roman shade that adds coziness or perhaps even some pattern. 
  4. Accessorize: Nothing beats real, original art. I’d like to include more of it to elevate the room. Buying art is also a great way to support the creative community which I am a huge advocate of. 

Budget:

  • $1400 - light-filtering roman window treatments to let in light while also providing privacy
  • $500 - coffee table
  • $350 - statement chair
  • $350 - accent pillows
  • $400 - new light fixture
  • $500 - frame current art / new art

TOTAL: $3500

While I’d prefer to get the budget down to $2500, I want to allow myself some room in case I find some truly unique pieces. Plus, I’ve learned that great design does often cost more money - especially if you are buying something that is custom. At this point, I’d prefer to invest in fewer, high-quality items that are built to last.

What do you think of my design plan? Do you have a room you want to refresh this year?

XO Carly

A Vintage Glam Christmas

The halls have been decked! I love getting into the holiday spirit but prefer to not spend a lot of money on decorations. If you have never been to an estate sale, I highly recommend going - especially for holiday decor. Almost every estate sale I've been to has had a large selection of nutcrackers, anything Santa related and even yard ornaments. I really try to seek out unique vintage items that have lasted over the years - I struck gold with these knit stockings. They are classic and festive and they warm my vintage-loving heart so much. There was even one with a dog on it which felt perfect for representing our furry family member, Mae. I then added some sparkle with a few affordable accessories from Target and layered in some sheep skin rugs around the base of the tree to add texture and warmth. 

DESIGN TIP: A festive way to display the holiday cards you receive from family and friends is to use them as ornaments on your tree.

Safe travels and here's to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

Photo credits: Grace Boto

IMG_0737.jpg
Piano.jpg

Vintage Accents for Modern Dining

Incorporating vintage pieces into a modern home makes a space feel collected and personal. Years of use and wear on older items adds a sense of soul that can't be achieved when purchasing everything brand new.

RecordPlayer.jpg

Look for vintage items that you are naturally drawn to and enjoy. When in doubt - a chair from any century, even just propped against a wall - is an easy way to add interest and charm.