Inspiring Decorator – Caitlin Murray – Black Lacquer Design


Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design is an inspiration. What we love most about her style is that she loves and appreciates bold color. What’s not to love? Here’s a little more about Caitlin and her journey to becoming an interior designer.

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?


Growing up, I was always rearranging furniture and organizing things in my room, which quickly spilled over to those of my friends. I had an irresistible pull toward a career in interior design because of my fascination with curating pieces in a way that creates a beautiful space. For me, it’s the most fun form of art because the result is that people get to enjoy it in their daily lives.

Though my draw toward this field was sparked at a young age, I initially wrote it off as a frivolous pursuit and figured I’d outgrow the desire to design. I grew up in a conservative Midwest city with two attorney parents, so a “practical” college major seemed like a safer choice. I got a bachelor’s degree in journalism, then landed my first job as a beauty and fashion publicist in LA. I thought I’d made a great compromise by scoring a serious yet creative career, but I soon realized how promising becoming an interior designer could be in Southern California. I went back to school to get my design degree, took advantage of some great job opportunities in the industry, and gained a ton of experience before branching out with my own firm.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?


I think my style tends to be a creatively balanced mix of vintage and modern elements. Overall, it’s eclectic, colorful, and chic.

3. What was your favorite project? Why?


I did a project in the Hollywood Hills that was one of my favorites because the client (who later became a close friend) gave me free creative rein. The result was an awesome balance and flow of colors and materials that really complemented the space, his amazing art, and both of our style sensibilities.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?


I’m loving that the new wave furniture pieces of the ’80s are coming back in a cooler way–especially through chunky furniture with curved lines done in soft, pretty colors.

Inspiring Decorator – Jessica Barnak – Kindred Creative Interiors


Jessica Barnak from Kindred Creative Interiors not only has fabulous style, but she’s also quite the inspiration. Her entire business is built around the idea of creating personal sanctuaries. She believes that every space and every home should be a safe place. We love that!

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?


As a child I remember my bedroom. We were not rich people, and my bedroom was not pretty. It had bare wood walls, old textiles and “vintage” (i.e. super old) furnishings. But that bedroom became the place that I relied on each day. It was my spot to be tidy and organized, clear my head, read my books and escape the drama that rested outside of those walls. I’m not sure I would be the same person today if I hadn’t had a bedroom to retreat to and escape it all. It would turn out that those 4 bare wood walls would save my sanity and be the beacon to my dream job.

Fast forward through college, a 4 year stint as a prison therapist (do not ask) and a 3 year stint as a child foster care advocate, and I landed on being a stay-at-home mom who created her own portrait business. I spent 10 years of my life as a children’s portrait photographer, always with that hidden love of creating sanctuaries within our homes. Because I was so focused on my portrait business, design took a back seat for a very long time until one day the universe essentially punched me in the face. In 2010 we were thrown a curve ball and my husband was transferred, for the 6th time in his career, 2.5 hours north of where we lived. It required me to close my business, say goodbye to longtime clients and start all over again. Only when I went to start all over again, it didn’t take.

The area we lived in couldn’t support a photography business. Every sign was pointing me in a new direction, and so in 2012 I was finally in a place where I could take the opportunity and time to reinvent myself. I wanted to take my lifelong love of design and aesthetics and turn it into my daily love. And so I did. I spent a lot of time thinking about who I wanted to serve, what I loved to do and what my end game was, and my interiors business was born from a place of service and change. I knew that I wanted to serve people who wouldn’t typically hire a designer – people who wanted beautiful homes like they see in magazines, but whose budgets wouldn’t allow the expensive finishes and the high-end furnishings that are featured ad nauseam.

I set out to create a business that could take any person anywhere in the world and teach them to recreate themselves within their 4 walls. I spent a few years working so hard to recreate myself and I wanted to give that same thing to people around the world who wanted to love their homes, but just didn’t know how to get there.

My business is mostly handled by FaceTime and Skype. I bring simple advice, tips and tricks to people all over the globe (as far as Australia!) for their spaces. It’s important to me to pay attention to their words, needs and budget and provide them with a step by step that they can follow to turn their home – no matter the size or shape – into their very own sanctuary, the same way I’ve turned my career into exactly what I wanted it to be.


This kitchen was created to fit family. Instead of a large, obtrusive island, we added a family style table in the middle to promote meal time, connection and family ties. Clutter was kept to a minimum so that the room feels more like a living space rather than a kitchen space, but still functions beautifully for cooking and entertaining.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?


I am an artist at heart, so design for me has to be beautifully functional but with a carefully crafted creative flair. Personally, I love a mix of mid-century modern and vintage glamour. I definitely lean toward minimalist, but love to bring in a surprise to my spaces that make people say, “I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I like it!” Your home should represent exactly who you are; it should be your fingerprint. I try to make sure I understand who my client is and what they are trying to say so that I can create a space that is unique to their energy and personality.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?



My favorite projects are always kitchens and home offices. They are the heart of our homes and the heart of our passion, and I love to design both! Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to move again and we purchased a 100-year-old city home full of hidden gems. We knew going in that we were going to renovate and gut the kitchen, but we thought it would take a while. It ended up taking us all of 3 months in the house to decide that the kitchen wasn’t going to last very long and that we should just get on with it. So on a winter Tuesday night we took a sledgehammer to the wall and started demo on a very outdated, not particularly functional space. What we found was a glorious brick wall behind the drywall! It turns out that our kitchen used to be the porch of the home, and the brick wall behind the drywall was the original exterior chimney. Of course, being who I am, the brick was staying and the entire kitchen was designed to coincide and flow beautifully with this gorgeous original structure.

Due to the space being the original porch, we opted for a heated tile floor and these 1920s-inspired beautiful tiles. The brick was amazing, but the space needed an artistic flair to fit with our design sylte, and as soon as we received the samples of these tiles, we both knew we had found the one. Being the budding minimalists we are, we kept the space clean lined, simple and stuck with a tuxedo kitchen theme. The original space was choppy and not functional, so we opened it up, removed walls and opted instead for a 12-inch island that contained everything we need to cook and spend time together as a family. It’s definitely a unique space and the layout is something that always surprises people, but the functionality of this kitchen was immensely improved and we think it’s pretty special.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?



I love that mid-century modern is having its moment again. The lines, textures, colors and artistic aesthetic are my favorites. I love how the mid-century design style promotes a space that is minimalist, light and airy laced with natural wood tones and modern lines. It brings in light textures, minimal accents and beautiful touches of mother nature – with wood or plants or natural rugs – and combines them all into a design aesthetic that is calming and current. It’s one of those design styles that promotes a simple home, and I believe it’s having a glorious moment in this decade because people are tired of coming home to clutter and disarray and every surface full of something. A little white space can be good for pretty much everyone and every home.


Inspiring Decorator – Melinda McCoy – House 214 Design


What we love the most about the House 214 Design is that Melinda focuses on the feeling of the home rather than the things in it. She knows that if you can capture that feeling you want, you’re going to love everything else. Here’s a little more about her and her journey as a designer.

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has the journey been like?


I have a passion for teaching and the home. My educational background informs a lot of what I do as it is my natural way of thinking. House 214 Design is where I teach the everyday home designer how the feeling they wish to create in their own home has basic design elements that will communicate that message consistently. As a result, making design decisions for their home becomes simple and easy.

I want people to understand that when it comes to designing their home, it doesn’t matter whether their budget is $50 for a project or $50,000. Neither amount of money guarantees that they will make the right or wrong decision. They first need to discover the desired feelings for their home, do a little work, and focus before they start any project. Creating a feeling in a home is far more important than just a checklist, but it does help to have a framework to reference; it is about finding a balance between a person’s creative side and the specific framework that communicates their feelings.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?


The words I would use to describe my design aesthetic are authentic, timeless, and welcoming. I use these words as a guideline for the design elements throughout the rooms in our home. By using these words as a guide and the design framework that I created for them, I am able to make decisions with intention, rather than make decisions on what the latest trend is at that time.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?


I would say that I have two favorite projects in our home. The first being our kitchen and the second our mudroom area. They both evoke a timeless and simple feeling that I created using a design framework that you can receive for free when you subscribe to my website. This design plan is a sample of what you could learn in my online course, Create a Timeless Feeling Home, that you can register for now on my website.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?


What I am really excited about (and hope is just beginning) is the shift in how we think about design. The slow movement is an authentic approach that is prevalent in the food industry – think the farm-to-table concept – and is moving into the design world. People are craving substance in their homes, and knowing how to create a feeling is the perfect way to do just that.

Inspiring Decorator – Jade Bennett – Finders Keepers Blog



Jade Bennett from the Finders Keepers blog is all about style. Her style is definitely eclectic, but it has a whimsical side to it, too. However she defines her style, one thing’s for sure – it makes you feel good. Simple as that. Here’s a little bit more about her and her design inspiration.


1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?


I was inspired to be an interior designer at a very young age, by my mother. I grew up in a home that was always changing and always beautiful. I remember coming home from school and my mom would have rearranged my room while I was gone – new pillows and my bed in a new place. I loved it! She was so creative and would let me help her change things around the house. We would shop together and decorate together. I knew I wanted to go to school and be an interior designer when I grew up.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?



This one is so hard for me because I LOVE all the styles! If I could live in a clean mid-century modern house, I would, but I believe the home you live in usually calls for its own kind of style. My home and style at the moment would best be described as English cottage. I love an eclectic mix of things that create a warm and super cozy space. With three littles running around and often leaving messes as they go, this style maintains its beauty regardless of the chaos around it.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?


Seeing as how my current house is a rental space, my project list was minimal. We did, however, add some wainscoting in the kitchen behind one of our farm tables and I loved it! We are currently buying a little fixer-upper where I have BIG plans for projects and moving walls around!

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?


I just love gallery walls! They are the perfect way to add warmth and dimension to any space. Plus, they are a great way to display all the little pieces of art or mirrors I have collected from my travels. I love them in modern spaces or really eclectic spaces alike. See mine here.


Inspiring Decorator – Kelley Nan – The KelleyNan Blog


What we love most about the Kelley Nan blog – do we really have to pick just one!? – is her southern style. But we also love her tablescapes. They’re gorgeous, and we love her creativity. Here’s a little more about Kelley’s journey.

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?


Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved making my spaces “pretty.” I was never an artist or musician, so rearranging my room and changing up my color schemes was my form of artistic expression. Even when I was working in college, I would take my earnings and put them toward new bedding and accessories on a regular basis. I have always been resourceful and put what I already had to use.

When we built our home in early 2015, I finally had the blank canvas I had always wanted. As I worked on rooms, I started documenting our progress via Instagram. I had no idea that strangers would be interested in my home and hearing what I had to say…but they were. I decided to take my little blog journal and transform it into a place where I style, host, and design, in hopes that I could inspire others to tap into their creativity, regardless of budget and personal style, and to make their homes a place they truly love. After a year, my Instagram account has grown to over 90,000 and my blog is gaining traction. I wouldn’t trade the connections I have made on this journey for anything.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?


I grew up in the south and my grandmother was a true lady; her class shone through how she decorated and maintained her home, and it was a huge influence on what I always aspired to have. I appreciate and admire many styles, but the one I am most drawn to is a bit transitional. I like a lot of classic tradition with a little modern flare. I mix a lot of different styles in our home, but I think bringing together an eclectic mix makes for a more collected look.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?


This is a tough one. Because we haven’t been in our home that long, we still have rooms that haven’t been finished. We still have rooms we haven’t touched! So, I kind of look at our home as one big ongoing project. I am always working on it and making plans, moving from room to room. Some of my favorite projects are the themed tablescapes I create. You can find some of those HERE. I also just finished my white guest retreat, so I am still loving the clean, bright transition. You can see that reveal HERE.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?


Like many decor enthusiasts, I am all about white kitchens, aged brass, and tufted everything. As I mentioned before, because I always try to build on what I already have, I try to keep my larger pieces more neutral and classic, and keep the trends to accessories and art. My neutral base has lended itself well through my ever-changing style (and mind). Right now in my home, I am loving mixed metals. I have a gallery wall of silver and gold sunburst mirrors – will that stay forever? No. But this is one easy-to-update trend that feels fresh and fun. You can check out the gallery wall in my formal living room HERE.

Inspiring Decorator – Mollie Openshaw – Design Loves Detail


Mollie and her blog, Design Loves Detail, are simply adorable! Her style is flawless, and she dreams in floor plans! How incredible is that? Here’s a little bit more about Mollie Openshaw.

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?



When I was about 12 years old, I started really visualizing spaces. I was very into art and created a perspective drawing of my room. The style for the space was a vision that just kind of came to life in my mind, and I had to get it all down on paper so I could make it a reality. My mom even let me paint flowers on the walls! That’s when I first realized that interior design was in my DNA. I continued to develop art talents through high school, and my mom let me decorate our house. I went to college for interior design and after a year or two, my dad called me one day to say that he thought it wasn’t the most practical career choice if you’re not going to live in a metropolitan area. I realize now that my cute dad was hoping I wouldn’t move far away to a big city, haha. Heeding his advice, I actually switched my major but continued taking design and art courses on the side. After graduating college, I ended up starting a graphic design company and loved it, but still found myself being drawn to interiors. I always had some form of interior design project going on for myself and/or others and came to realize it was my calling and true passion in life. A few years ago, I made a commitment to run at my dream with everything I have, and I’ve been designing interiors for clients full-time ever since and love it. And I didn’t even have to move from my home state of Utah. 🙂

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?



Sometimes that’s hard to put into words! But overall, I’d say contemporary coastal eclectic. I am a lover of bright, airy spaces full of natural light. I love pure white and fresh color equally and play with both in my designs. I love blending styles together for a unique mix. I also love incorporating mid-century modern and vintage pieces just to add a “collected” feel to a space. I try to use at least one vintage or antique item in each space I design. I love the history, comfort, and “worn-in” look that it lends to a new room. I also love using elements from nature.

There’s just something about wood grain, stone, plants, etc. I think we as humans connect with those kind of raw elements from nature, and bringing them indoors feels natural and kind of zen.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?



Back in 2013 I had a dream of a floor plan. I woke up and drew it all out on paper. Within a year from that time, we had sold our first home, found a piece of land, and built the home that I had dreamed up. Definitely my favorite project because my husband and I worked together to create a completely unique vision all our own, and now we get to live in it! My brother-in-law was the general contractor for the project, my husband did finish work, like tile, finish carpentry, etc., and I designed everything.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?


I love global/vintage textiles right now. Great texture, patterns, and that vintage feel I was describing. That’s also why I’m loving the natural texture roman shades from Raw, natural elements are some of my favorite to work with!


Photo Credit – Jessie Alexis Photography and Travis J Photography

Inspiring Decorator – Melissa George – Polished Habitat


The Polished Habitat blog is DIYer’s dream. She has a lovely eye for design, and we all love her style. Learn a little more about Melissa George from the Polished Habitat:

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?

My journey has been very long and winding. I’ve had an obsession with houses and decor as long as I can remember. But, I also loved business and excelled in more left-brain topics. For too long, I worked in jobs like data analysis and project management. At night, I’d constantly be perusing real estate listings and decorating/remodeling our house. One day I had that now or never moment, gave my notice at a great job, and went all-in to become a home decor & organizing blogger. Best decision EVER.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Functional fresh modern with a dose of glam and a nod to traditional.

I definitely don’t fit into a cookie-cutter design style, but as crazy as my combo sounds, I feel like the rooms we create are still pretty accessible and not too “out there”. I put a high value on making rooms that work and make life easier. Incorporating organization right into the core design is probably my favorite thing to do.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?

Our master closet is my favorite project to date. The space was so beige and completely dysfunctional, even though it was by far the biggest closet we’ve ever had.

Here’s what it looked like before from one angle:

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I spent more time planning the space than any other project. To see the plans come to life and look even better than I dreamed was surreal. It was also a HUGE labor intensive project because we built all the shelving ourselves, which stretched our abilities.

Here’s the same angle after we were done:

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I also love smaller organizing projects, like the space under my bathroom sink. I came up with fun ways to make it look great AND work well.

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4. What’s your favorite trend right now?

I’m all about anything gold/brass, lucite, or marble. If they are all combined together with some navy accents thrown in, I’m even happier!

I can’t swing putting marble in our bathroom or kitchen, so I found a fun way to incorporate it around the house on a budget. Marble contact paper!

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Inspiring Decorators – Kelli and Kristi – Lolly Jane Blog

Lolly Jane is an adorable blog run by twin sisters. They feature tutorials that range from delicious recipes to lovely home decor projects. Their fun, fresh, clean style will leave you wanting more.

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?

lolly jane twins (2)

Lolly Jane started off as a sign making boutique when Kelli’s banker husband became a police officer. It grew quickly, so she enlisted her twin sister Kristi to help with the orders. We soon started the DIY-based blog within a couple of years, switching gears to focus on blogging our creativity versus making signs with our hands. It’s been nearly a decade since all the craziness has happened, and we are so grateful for our blog that has turned into a fun “jobbie,” AKA a hobby job! It’s allowed us to still raise our kids by staying home but supporting our husbands’ incomes in a fun way, and yes, we still love making and selling signs.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?

craftroom lollyjane (2)

We love COLOR and all things VINTAGE! It’s hard to combine the two styles since vintage decor tends to follow whites, blacks, and creams, but we are here to prove you can have the best of both worlds. We love Kelli’s colorful craft room bookcase that we painted mustard yellow herringbone patterns onto the backside, then filled it with our grandmother’s old suitcases and vintage crates for storage. Old and new go hand in hand to create a long lasting look that will stay classic for years to come.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?

entryway lollyjane (2)

We love Kelli’s entryway because it started off totally drab. We added board and batten wall trim on the wall, painted above that a happy yellow color, built a full wall length shelf for it, and now we swap decor out seasonally.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?

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We are all over succulents right now. We first popped them into a chalk painted mason jar and now use them in our dining room daily for home decor. We’ve even made a free printable with them and hope the trend lives as long as they do!

Inspiring Decorator – Melissa Michaels – The Inspired Room

The Inspired Room blog is all about loving the home you have. It’s about attainable and affordable style and design for everyone, and that’s what we love the most about Melissa Michaels’ blog. It’s inspiring, and the photos are stunning. Are you ready to look at your own home in a whole new way?

1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?

inspired room 1

I’ve always loved home decor. Even as a very young girl, I was always designing houses in moving boxes for my dolls and trying out floor plans on paper. I grew up watching my parents decorate and remodel our homes and enjoyed driving with my family through neighborhoods to look at houses on the weekends. As a newlywed and young mom, I always had stacks of decorating magazines by my bed, read every home-related book I could get my hands on, and always had a home remodeling or decorating project going on (or mulling around in my mind for the future). I just loved it!

I thought at one point I would go into interior design, but I ended up working at a publishing company instead, which was fun, too. But after many years of gaining design experience in my own homes and learning everything I could about home design on a budget, I realized I was so passionate about the home and enjoyed the process so much, I decided I was ready to launch my own business.

In 2007 I started The Inspired Room. I would go into clients’ homes and take a look at what they already had and within a few hours, I had rearranged their furniture and accessories in a way they loved.

From there I started a blog and eventually went on to write books! It’s been an amazing and rewarding journey! I love that The Inspired Room has grown into a brand that really fits with everything I love.

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?


I love so many different styles. I really just appreciate good design in whatever form it is. But my personal preference lands toward a modern farmhouse, eclectic cottage style. I love a clean look but also love to incorporate colors and textures and a mix of new and old things I love.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?



My favorite projects have been my last two kitchens. I love designing kitchens. They really are the heart of the home, so they deserve extra attention. I enjoy the process of making a kitchen inviting and welcoming. It’s sometimes a challenge to pull all the elements together in a way that fits your budget and style, but I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed about it. You can find my house tour and kitchen here:

You can also find ideas and tips in my book called The Inspired Room. We recently moved, so we’ll be starting over with a kitchen and decorating the house, but I’m excited about that opportunity! I’m just getting started and will share the whole process on the blog.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?

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I love that there are so many affordable and accessible ways to decorate your home with the latest trends. It’s fun for me to share ways to pull a home together and be able to offer resources I’ve found to make that happen without spending a fortune. My favorite way to decorate is to mix old and new, so I love that anything goes these days! We can enjoy putting together our own look with what is current and what we already have.

Inspiring Decorator – Mandi Gubler – Vintage Revivals


1. What inspired you to become a designer? What has your journey been like?

I was inspired to become a blogger after stumbling upon this crazy inspiring world. I couldn’t believe how wonderful and inspiring the whole thing was, so I started spray painting everything in sight and started Vintage Revivals to document it. I had NO IDEA it would or could turn into all of this!

2. How would you describe your design aesthetic?

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I would describe my style as vintage, eclectic, graphic, colorful, and modern. So basically I like everything at the same time.

3. What was your favorite project(s)? Why?


Oh my gosh, this is the hardest! I would say that my favorite project is usually the one that I just finished. I love the nursery that I just finished for my son, Brem.


And The Nugget is always a crowdpleaser.

4. What’s your favorite trend right now?


I love black windows, loads of plants, and anything vintage!