Hello. It's Me.

Yep, that's a reference to the Adele song. You'll understand why I titled this post that way if you read on!

I thought that today we could pretend, just for a moment, that we're sitting down in a cozy corner of a cafe, chatting over a warm cup of coffee and starting to get to know each other. You know, like new friends would do.

As I've followed different designers and design bloggers over the years, my belief is that in order to really enjoy picking up what they're putting down, I need to know the person behind it. I want to know their story, how they got to where they are, and why they feel passionate about doing what they do. It gives context to what they're writing about on their blogs and sharing on social media outlets like Instagram, and it breaks down a little bit of the barrier the screen puts between us. The internet has an amazing way of connecting us, and yet it often feels less and less personal as time goes on.

Let's pull back the curtain on that. Today I'm going to tell my story. If this is your first time here, or if you've been following along since the beginning, thanks for being here. I'd love for you come out from the shadows of the internet and say hello! Tell me a little bit about you too, ok? Hopefully by the end of this you'll know a little bit more about who the girl is behind Mix & Match Design Company!

Mix & Match officially started in the fall of 2015 and it became my full time gig in the summer of 2016, but the true story begins long before that. For as long as I can remember, I've always had a desire to create and design, and to share that gift with others. 

My first creative entrepreneurial endeavor was in high school - I sewed preppy-style ribbon belts for a summer to sell to friends, family and neighbors. I literally set up a table on the sidewalk outside of my family's Arlington, Virginia home on Saturday mornings (just like a lemonade stand) and showed off my wares. I took custom orders, sewed everything myself, and made some pretty good money!

When I headed off to college, I retired the ribbon belt business and turned my attentions to academics and my new life away from home. Though I had toyed with studying something in the creative field (I considered everything from architecture to graphic design to textile design), I ultimately chose to pursue something completely different - biomedical sciences (a pre-med track). Science, or more specifically, genetics, was my other other love, and I felt called to that world for the next season of life. Perhaps there would be a future season to chase down my creative passions in a professional way, but that period of time wasn't it. Also, I knew would always find ways to be creative as a hobby, even if it wasn't my career.

So off I went to graduate school for genetic counseling. After finishing up my master's in 2012 in Richmond, Virginia, my husband and I moved to Washington, D.C. and I started a job as a prenatal genetic counselor at a private practice that had a new office in southern Maryland. While the practice was recruiting new patients to fill appointment slots, I had some spare time on my hands, so I did the natural thing to fill that down time - started a DIY, home design, and lifestyle blog! JK, that is definitely not the natural thing to do, but after spending two years in graduate school with no time for creativity, I was desperate for that outlet. I missed decorating, photographing things, and working with my hands. I used our little apartment as my design playground on nights and weekends, and wrote about my projects secretly at work when I had extra time. Eventually, my patient load increased enough to where I couldn't write at the office, but I stuck with the blog anyway and kept it up it for four years total. For the first two and a half years, I published five posts per week (and two to three per week after that). Kind of crazy, right? It was basically another part time job that I did for free.

Looking back, I realize that writing this blog was laying the foundation for Mix & Match Design Company. I was learning so much by practicing on my own home, learning how to photograph interiors, teaching myself Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and heck, even a little bit of basic HTML coding. In a strange way, I self-taught my way to a decorating and design degree of sorts. I worked so hard to make our homes in Richmond, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and currently Philadelphia look beautiful while sticking to a pretty tight budget, but I loved it. I was having such a great time doing it.

As I shared my projects and our home with the world through the blog, people started to ask me to help with their decorating dilemmas. This was during the rise of HGTV and Pinterest when more and more people were being exposed to beautifully decorated homes and realizing they wanted their homes to look like what they were seeing. They wanted what they saw, but didn't know how to get there. I found that people appreciated my budget-friendly, thoughtful approach to design, and I was happy to dish out tips and share my design eye with them. Quickly though, I realized there a bigger need - that there was a gap in the interior design market that needed filling. People wanted access to great design, but the idea of hiring an interior designer under the traditional model wasn't a great fit or was too expensive. I founded Mix & Match Design Company to bridge that gap.

I discovered that through all of these different experiences and touch points with people over the past 5-plus years that I'm passionate about helping folks create homes that they love in an affordable and approachable way. After much brainstorming (thank goodness for my business-minded husband who is my biggest supporter!), lots of scheming about business models, and a few trial runs, I landed on the model we have today with e-design. By harnessing the power of the internet, I'm able to give people all over the country access to great design for their homes in bite-sized chunks by tackling one room at a time. The design fees are transparent and affordable, it can all be done through email on your time frame, and there is no minimum budget! I wanted to create a service that I would want to use and would be willing to pay for, and I'm grateful to have landed on just that with what Mix & Match offers.

I also wanted to provide lots and lots of education and design tips, and share completed projects alongside the one-on-one e-design service, which is where this blog comes into play. I love to write and teach, and I wanted to provide great content for folks who may not need or want e-design at this point, but still appreciate learning about design/decorating and want to engage with that kind of information. So on Tuesdays and Fridays, that's what you'll find right here in this little corner of my website. Tuesdays tend to be education-focused, and Fridays currently house my Best Of series, but that'll be changing in a few weeks - stay tuned!

Anyway, back to more of my behind-the-scenes story...

After starting the company in the fall of 2015, I was still working full-time as a genetic counselor. It was absolutely nuts trying to get a business off the ground while working at a very busy medical practice. My husband was going to school full-time for his MBA at Wharton (University of Pennsylvania's business school) at that point so I needed to stick with my steady paycheck, but we decided that once he started working full time again, I would leave my genetic counseling job and run hard at getting Mix & Match going. If it wasn't for his incredible support and encouragement, I would never have taken that risk, but I am so glad I did. I left my job in May of 2016 and haven't looked back.

I absolutely love what I do now, and honestly I can't believe that I get to do it for a living. I love working with clients and writing this blog. I'm constantly studying and honing my skills, and the business is ever-evolving in effort to provide the best experience for my clients. The ability to use technology in a business like this is amazing, and it's creating an entirely new opportunity for the rest of us to get a little help with creating homes we love to live in. I've never had more fun with a job in my life. 

Obviously my career has taken a few twists and turns along the way, but I never feel like I took a wrong turn. For all of my adult life, I've thought about my different careers as seasons - all of them good, special, and right for that period of time, and never being afraid to enter into the next one. If any of you are thinking about making a switch, or feeling that itch to move onto something new, don't ignore it. Take time to explore and understand it - it might be just the right next thing.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on topics like this in future blog posts! 

Photos by Ashley Gerrity Photography

 

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Best Of: Urban Outfitters

Best of Urban Outfitters Home and Apartment

Single Herb Wall Planter || Matro Zig Zig Stool Malki Pillow || Salaya Ikat Woven Pillow || Faceted Utensil Holder || Lali Printed Rug || Leni Leaning Floor Mirror || Helena Geo Pillow Pouf || Dreamy Houses Art Print || Fallon Storage Bench || Matro Wood Coffee Table ||Tufted Courduroy Floor Pillows || Marta Table Lamp

Welcome to the "Best Of" series! Each Friday I choose a retailer and feature a roundup of my favorite products. If there's a particular shop you'd like to see, please leave a comment, or use the contact form with the subject line, "Best Of Request." To see all the places I've featured in the series, click here.

Urban Outfitters* is a great source for laid back and a little quirky home decor and furniture. The pieces they carry tend to fall into one of a few different styles like bohemian, vintage modern, and mid-century. Most everything is very reasonably priced as well. Affordable and well-designed? I'll take it!

I'll admit, sometimes their items can be a little out there and, um, strange - at least for me - but there are a lot of gems too. You just have to be patient and be willing to sift through some of the more "outrageous" pieces. :) I've found a great selection for clients and myself over the years, and I'm always interested in keeping track of what's new in their home section. They carry all the normal things you'd think of at a home-focused store like sofas, chairs and tables, but they also have things you might not expect, like removable wallpaper, framed art prints, bedding (duvets, shams, quilts, etc.), and kitchenware. 

One word of warning about UO's rug selection: a lot of their rugs are cotton, and the pattern is printed directly onto it. This isn't a necessarily a bad thing - in fact, I have one of them in my office - but it does mean that they don't do well in high traffic areas. Their prices and designs are fantastic though, especially if you love the bohemian look. Just make sure you pay attention to the material! 

When I was pulling together my round up, I decided to focus mostly on their smaller items, and I found plenty of goodness! I figured I'd highlight a few of my favorites because sometimes it helps to have a little bit of context to go along with the images. :)

Matro Wood Coffee Table ($349): This piece is a great size, y'all, and would look great in so many different styles of living rooms. The wood grain on this is ridiculously pretty. The beauty of this piece is in its simplicity, I think.

Single Herb Wall Planter ($14): At that price, you can afford to buy a bunch of these and create a beautiful statement plant wall. Group an odd number together (3, 5, more?) and you'll be set. I may be doing just that soon enough in my kitchen. We'll see!

Faceted Utensil Holder ($20): This may be advertised as a utensil holder, but it would also make a cute little vase, or a great piece of decor on a bookshelf. The blue/green color is currently backordered, but it also comes in blush and black, which are both in stock.

Leni Leaning Floor Mirror ($139): A small space workhorse is what this mirror is! Not only do you get a full length mirror, you also get some hooks out of this deal - use them for items like scarves, jewelry, or handbags.

Fallon Storage Bench (on sale! $229): Wide enough to span the end of the bed or a great size for a mudroom, this bench is versatile. It's currently $100 off the original price, so don't miss out on a great deal!

Tufted Courduroy Floor Pillows (on sale! 2 for $70): It's kind of hard to tell from the image, but these are small scale floor pillows (they measure 18"x18"). They're made from corduroy, so I'm guessing they feel pretty soft! Plus, they come in a variety of colors, so there is sure to be one that will work well in your home. Grab a few and create a cozy reading corner, or line them up on a window seat for extra comfort.

To shop this post, you can either use the links under the image at the top, or use the embedded shoppable widget below. Simply hover over the item you're interested in (or tap an item with your finger if you're on a mobile device) and click on the black and white plus sign that pops up. If you're on a feed reader or receiving this in your email, you'll need to click over to the full website to use this tool. 

So tell me, do y'all have favorite finds at Urban Outfitters?

I hope y'all have wonderful weekends! 

*This post contains affiliate links. That means when you buy through my links, I'll earn a small commission from your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting Mix & Match in this way!

 

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How to Choose the Right Area Rug

Since y'all seemed to really enjoy last week's post on how to find affordable abstract art (thanks for the great feedback!), I thought I'd start covering some other common design dilemmas on the blog. This week, we'll chat all about area rugs!

One question I get a lot from clients and friends alike is how do I choose the right rug for my room? Goodness, I could write a novel on this subject since there can be many, many nuances to this decision, but I'm going to try and keep things as simple as possible so we don't get lost in the proverbial weeds. If you have questions after you finish reading the post, let me know in the comments!

Rugs can be a pretty hefty investment, but they can do a great job of pulling a room together, so you want to get it right the first time if possible! If you follow the general guidelines below, you'll be well on your way to picking one that will both look good and serve your needs well into the future. Of course, no design rule is hard and fast, but rules do exist for a reason, so if a rug isn't looking right in your home it may be because it goes against one or more of these guidelines. 

Let's get into it!

The three most important factors to think about when you're choosing a rug are:

  • Size
  • Style
  • Material

Striking a balance between these three things will help guide you toward a rug decision you'll feel good about at the end of the day. Let's talk about each one.

Choose the right size:

Read more about our living room here. Rug is from here*.

Read more about our living room here. Rug is from here*.

In general, I'd say that bigger is usually better. Rugs can be expensive, so folks will sometimes buy a smaller rug in an effort to save some cash, but please don't do that! A well-sized area rug works wonders for a room - in both comfort and style. If there's a rug you absolutely love, but it only comes in a small size, or the larger sizes are cost prohibitive, try layering that one on top of a larger one. I see this a lot with vintage and one-of-a-kind rugs.

The "rules" for choosing the right size rug vary a bit from room to room, so let's talk about three main ones: living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.

In living rooms, ideally you either have all the legs of your furniture sit on top of the rug (so that you have a "frame" around the seating arrangement), or at a minimum, place the front legs on the rug. A large rug like this helps ground the space and gives everything an anchor. As you can see in our living room above, the front legs of the accent chair are on the rug and the back legs are on the wood floor. Our sofa is completely on the rug. 

In dining rooms, a good rule of thumb is that you want to be able to slide your chair in and out without the back legs leaving the rug. This usually means you need 24-30 inches of rug extending from all sides of the table. There's nothing worse than "picking up" the edge of a rug with your chair legs when you're pulling in your chair at the dinner table, right?! :)

In bedrooms, you have some flexibility. Most commonly, you see a rug placed under a bed so that it forms a "T" with the bed. Another is to use two runners - one on either side. In either case, you want enough rug to be sticking out far enough so that when you walk on it, you can keep both feet on it comfortably (not one foot on the floor, one foot on the rug). More of a numbers person? For a queen bed, use a rug that's at least 6'x9' and for a king, at least 8'x10'.

Last hint: if you're still not sure what size rug you need, try marking out different sizes with painter's tape on the floor.

Choose the right style:

Rugs have the ability to set the tone for a room. One of the first questions to ask yourself is do I want the rug to be the star of the show or more of a supporting actor? Your answer to that will help narrow your options and keep you focused in your search. Maybe you want it to be the focal point, or maybe you want it to fade into the background so that something like a special piece of art can be be the attention-grabber.

Another great question to ask is how do I want the room to feel overall? Cozy? Playful? Formal? Casual? The rug can play a big role in giving off the right vibe for the space.

After you've answered those two questions, then it's time to decide on more specifics like solid vs. pattern, and choosing color(s).

Choose the right material:

Rugs are made from so many materials these days! Traditionally, they've been made out of wool, cotton, and other natural fibers like jute, but now you've also got manmade fibers like polypropylene and acrylic. Unfortunately, there are a lot of low quality, but very pretty rugs out there these days, and it's easy to get sucked into purchasing them. It can be hard to know what you're buying, and price doesn't always correlate with quality (ugh!).

If you want a rug that will last, your best bet is to go with a wool or other natural fiber rug. It will generally serve you well for a long time and stand up to lots of foot traffic. 100% manmade fiber rugs (especially those described as being "power loomed") typically won't last as long and can look cheap, even if they look beautiful online! I'm definitely not saying you should never purchase one of those rugs (in fact, Dash & Albert's indoor/outdoor polypropylene rugs are some of my faves), it's just that it's sometimes difficult to know what you're looking at.

To make sure you're searching for quality construction and good materials, use keywords like woven, or hand-tufted. If you stick to those, you'll be well on your way to finding the right one!

Two other things to consider when it comes to materials are texture and pile. Think about how you want it to feel on your bare feet. Sisal, for example, is quite scratchy, but very durable, while wool is typically softer, but has a coarse feel to it. Pile has to do with the height of the rug off the floor. Personally, I prefer a lower pile rug paired with a thicker rug pad. Rug pads are crucial! They will keep rugs from slipping around and provide extra padding if needed.

Lastly, I feel like I need to make one more disclaimer - I'm a big fan of the idea that sometimes "done" is better than perfect, and that budget is usually the limiting factor at the end of the day. Having a rug at all is better than no rug, so if at the end of all this you end up with an inexpensive, man-made fiber rug in your living room, that's ok! No judgement from me, I promise. My goal is to help you be able to make an informed decision so you're not surprised by something when it arrives at your door. 

So tell me, do you find choosing a rug to be challenging? What tips or tricks have you found that help you pick a good one?

If you want to remember these tips for later, Pin the graphic below! 

 
Rugs used in graphic from top to bottom: Cami Tufted Rug, Ikat Grey/White Rug (also used in this Modern Farmhouse Bedroom), and Heirloom Wool Rug

Rugs used in graphic from top to bottom: Cami Tufted Rug, Ikat Grey/White Rug (also used in this Modern Farmhouse Bedroom), and Heirloom Wool Rug

 

*Affiliate links have been used in this post, which means when you shop through them, I earn a small commission at no cost to you (no markup). Thanks for supporting Mix & Match Design Company in this way!

 

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