This Is Not Your Grandmother's Interior Design Service

Find out more aboutMix & Match Design Company's philosophy and goals, and read about why this business is so passionate about bringing interior design to "normal" people.

After sharing a little bit of my story a couple of weeks ago about who I am and how I got started in the interior decorating world, I thought it would be a good time to follow that post up with a deeper dive into Mix & Match's philosophy and goals. I want you, my dear readers, clients, and friends, to get to know why this business exists and why I'm so passionate about making interior design accessible to everybody.

An alternate title to this post could have been Interior Design For the Rest of Us, because that's exactly what I'm trying to do here with Mix & Match, but I decided to stick with the slightly more offensive one (sorry grandmas out there! I mean no harm.). I want to prove to you that you don't have to make millions of dollars to get the insights of an interior designer and make your home beautiful.

Before we dive in though, if you missed the post titled, "Hello. It's Me." - you might want to start there, then come back over here and continue reading. :) That post covers the more personal side of my background and how I got started, and today we'll get into more about the business side!

If this is your first time on the site, welcome! As a quick intro, Mix & Match Design Company offers affordable one-on-one e-design services along with (free!) design advice, tips, and inspiration through the blog and social media outlets like Instagram and Pinterest. Developing and growing each part of the business brings me such joy - I'm grateful to be running a company that suits my gifts and talents so well. 

Let's get started!

WHY DID YOU START MIX & MATCH WHEN THERE ARE PLENTY OF INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICES OUT THERE?

Simply put, it was a combination of realizing that there was a whole, huge group of folks who weren't being reached by the traditional interior designer, and the fact that I believe everyone should live in a space they love, that inspires them, and that feels like home. My goal was to create a company that would help "normal" people create spaces they're proud of, which is why my tagline reads affordable and approachable interior design services for everyone. I wanted to be able to help the busy young professional, the couple who just got married and is creating a new life together, the DIY-er, the person who just bought her first home, the family with rambunctious young kiddos, and so many others who value a beautiful, welcoming home, but don't know how to make it happen. E-design (my one-on-one service), the Mix & Match blog, and social media are my primary methods of serving these folks.

WHAT IS E-DESIGN, AND WHY GO THAT ROUTE INSTEAD OF THE TRADITIONAL IN-PERSON MODEL?

E-design is a tech-enabled, all virtual design service - that's right, I never go to your house! This flat-fee service is carried out primarily through email and the occasional FaceTime or phone call. I provide a design plan, and you implement it when you're ready. This type of service gives folks all over the world access to great design services at an affordable rate. There are a few main advantages to working this way:

  1. COST. The model provides simple and straightforward design services at a fraction of the cost of a traditional interior designer. 
  2. EFFICIENCY. It's convenient and efficient for both the client and me, the designer. Since everything is conducted primarily through email, we can work on the design when it's convenient for you, which is perfect for folks with limited time or long work hours. Your time and mine are both valuable, and I want to make sure we're using it well!
  3. STRAIGHTFORWARD. There are no hidden costs. A single fee, paid upfront is all I'll ever ask for from you.
  4. YOUR TIMING. You can make furniture and decor purchases on your timeframe. I provide the design and an itemized shopping list, and then you're free to shop when you're ready - you're in the driver's seat.
  5. FOR EVERYONE. E-design allows me to be an "equal opportunity" designer when it comes to the size and spend of the project. Many designers turn down smaller-budget projects because their business is based on markups on furniture and decor. Whether you've got $1,000 or $10,000 to spend, I charge the same flat fee per room, and you pay retail prices on items. I may earn a small commission on your purchase through affiliate links, but this doesn't affect what you pay. 

WHY WRITE THE BLOG IN ADDITION TO OFFERING THE ONE-ON-ONE E-DESIGN SERVICE?

I love to educate, I love writing, and I love to cultivate community! I realize that not everyone needs or wants individualized design services, but they still want to learn how to decorate well, and be inspired along the way. I want to point people in the direction of well-designed furniture and decor that suits all budgets (hello, Best Of series!). The blog provides an outlet for all of those things, and it allows me to foster a community who understands and believes in the importance of creating a home they love. It's meant to be interactive, so feel free to leave a comment or ask a question! 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE STYLES TO DESIGN?

My favorites are all mashups of a couple of styles - cozy modern, mid-century eclectic, and modern farmhouse. I didn't name the company Mix & Match for nothin'! On the whole, I gravitate toward rooms with clean lines, a light and airy feel, and loads of texture. I want them to feel lived in, but not cluttered.

WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU OUTSIDE OF THE BLOG?

All over! My favorite places to hang out are Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I also have a newsletter, which you can sign up for at the bottom of this post! You'll get monthly updates on what's going on in the Mix & Match world, along with insider tips and information.

That's all I have to share with you today, friends! Deep down, I believe that having a home you love is an incredibly important part of having a happy, joyful life. Notice that I didn't say it had to be perfect or immaculately curated - it's more about the feeling you get when you walk in the door. Your home should make you smile and make you proud. 

I hope that today's words gave you a little bit of insight into why I'm so passionate about my business, and that it resonated with you in some way! If you're ready to get started on that one-on-one e-design project, or if you have a design topic you'd like for me to cover here on the blog, feel free to contact me, or connect with me on Instagram!

 

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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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Love the Home You're In

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! Whether this holiday is a favorite of yours or if it makes you roll your eyes, I think we can all agree that love is an important part of being human. We talk about it all the time, don't we? We love that person, we love that piece of art, we love going for a run on a sunny spring day, etc.

But what about our homes?

Some of us may love ours, but I'll venture to guess that many of us don't have those warm and fuzzy feelings when we walk in our front doors. Maybe you've never had time to put the effort into creating a home you're proud of, perhaps life circumstances have thrown a wrench in your plans, or maybe you're fearful of making a mistake so you simply don't do anything at all. Do any of these describe you, my friend? They've all described me at one point or another.

I think if we let ourselves take a good, hard look, we all have a deep, innate desire to have a home that feels like a sanctuary - one that's comfortable, beautiful, and welcoming.  And guess what? I believe with every fiber of my being that every person can have that. Yes, even you out there in your short term rental, and you with the three little kids who make crazy messes. YOU. No matter what your circumstances may be. 

How? I think it's a balance of being content with where you are and what you have, recognizing the positives, and taking action to move towards creating a home you love. This is not about perfection or spending a zillion dollars - it's about taking stock of who you are and how you live, making goals, and going out there and doing it. In a world of Pinterest and Instagram (which I love, don't get me wrong), it's easy to fall into the endless cycle of needing more, wanting what she has, or feeling inadequate. The comparison game is real, and it can get ugly. 

While there is no magic formula I can give you that will automatically help you love the home you're in, I do want to encourage you that it is possible. 

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take a look around and assess. What makes you happy? What frustrates you about your home?
  • Why are you frustrated by those trouble spots? Can you change them? If not, why? Call me the eternal optimist, but I'll bet that there is at least something you can do to make it better, even if it's small.
  • What are your goals for your home? For me, it's important to have a space that can host large gatherings comfortably, and where people feel welcomed and immediately comfortable. I also value function and efficiency, whether that's how my kitchen is organized or the way our furniture is arranged. Things like that are what inform my decision-making about my home.
  • Find some accountability. Talking to a friend, spouse, or family member about this concept of loving the home you're in is a powerful way to seek both contentment and change. They can check in with and challenge you.
  • And finally, take action! 

So today, on Valentine's Day, let's take some time to love our homes. If you're someone who already does, fantastic! If you're just starting to think about this idea, or are deep in the trenches of home unlove, I'd love to hear from you in the comments, or find me on Instagram. Let's continue the conversation!

 

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