Reader Design: Amira's Boho Home

At 550 square feet, Amira's Washington, DC space packs a serious punch with a seemingly small footprint. When you enter the door, it's not the decor that captures you, or the finishes, or furniture. 

It's a feeling

Amira set out to create an interesting space, one that accurately reflects her own global third culture kid upbringing in Egypt, Abu Dhabi, and New England and one that is warm, collected, and beautifully curated. 

From Amira:

The most inviting homes, and humans, are sanctuaries that make us feel, and inspire us to be, our best selves. I love the Danish concept of hygge because its definition embodies the positive impact that environments can have on our well-being.

Things weren't always as curated as they clearly now are. When Amira moved across the world from Abu Dhabi six years ago, she defaulted to the same thing maybe of us do: the easy thing. She loaded up with items from big box retailers and called it a day. That all changed once she bought the home she lovingly refers to as the "treehouse."

I wanted to create a space that couldn’t be defined as anything but a place people wanted to spend time. Homes are personal - and, while I’m so inspired by many interior designers and the trends they embue, I was selective and patient in the process.

Making my home a delightful experience for my guests is a priority. Taking my time has allowed me to decorate with pieces that have stories I can share with guests, either because they’re made by artists I know personally or found on a memorable trip… or that I found at a neighborhood store where I’ve built relationships with the shopkeepers. Supporting local businesses and budding artists and makers has a huge influence on what I buy.

And so the collecting began. If you mutts have the same observations as me, you'll see that two elements in particular tie Amira's home together: #1 everything comfy & cozy (blankets, poufs, and pillows) and #2 PLANTS. 

Let’s be honest. I love everything in my home, but Dolly’s the real star. She’s the graceful fiddle leaf fig tree you see in the photos. I brought her home before I had any furniture, so she’s been a faithful presence and has inspired my love of plants. I named her after my favorite florist Dolores, who found her for me.
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Other homeowner favorites: the mantle she created with found materials from a Leesburg, VA treasure trove; the round hallway mirror which she ran into traffic for at the Georgetown Flea Market; and the bright light of the dining nook.  

It is all just so exactly right. Amira, we're giving you a big StyleMutt thumbs up and totally commend you for focusing on comfort and individuality with your space. We're hooked. 

Follow Amira along in Instagram @amiraelgawly for more.

And on a personal note, thank you to the SMH community for the kind thoughts and well wishes this week for my engagement. What a wonderful group this is! 

See you next week,

Reader Design: Ruth's Collected Home

My countdown to my United Kingdom trip has initiated. Just three weeks to go! I'm ready for tea, clotted cream, wandering picturesque streets, and... those. accents. 

In anticipation of this jaunt across the pond, we're checking out Ruth's stunning collected home in London, England. 

Ruth found her London flat in an up-and-coming area back in 2013. She fell in love with the amazing bones of the place and was totally energized by the potential of the space. 

As the neighborhood got more & more popular, Ruth was driving her own amazing changes inside too! 

My style is both colourful and eclectic. I take inspiration from everywhere and am always making mental notes of things I like and why they work. If I absolutely had to describe my style, it would be somewhere in the bohemian-modern style, mainly because I see this as a fairly catch-all term. It allows for my love of vintage, my use of colour, my attraction to both patina and the artisan, and the freedom to just fill your home with objects you love and that tell a story about your you and your family.

Her approach to making this home hers was patient and left plenty of room for surprises along the way.

The greatest design lesson I have learnt over the last 10 years is to let things evolve naturally over time. Like most people, I feel the urge to get on and create a home that I will love, but I think moving too fast can send you down a rabbit hole of trends and tear-sheet looks that are wholly contrived or totally unpersonalised.

She fought her initial instinct and didn't rush the magic, which is something that is easier said than done. I don't know about all the rest of you mutts, but my type A planning leaves little flexibility; it's organized, but doesn't exactly feel organic. 

And organic, unique, and fun is exactly what Ruth has achieved. 

We are very much a lived in family home. Nothing ever stays perfect around here for very long, but I think that if you have pieces of vintage in each room this softens the blow of imperfections elsewhere! Often more modern pieces aren’t built to last in the same way that they were in the past; I guess planned obsolescence is a part of our consumerist times, but these old pieces are often much better quality as people tended to invest once in the past. Plus any imperfections add character, right?

The concept of aging definitely applies to home design - but of course, it applies to literally everything else in life as well. Ruth's words are an incredible reminder of the fact that there is truly no correlation between age and value... at least, certainly not a negative one! 

Ruth, you have created such a beautiful family home: one that's carefully loved, but not obsessed over. Thank you for letting us in. And if you have any London tips, you know where to find me :) 

Follow Ruth along on Instagram @design_soda_ruthie for more gorgeousness and wisdom.

Reader Design: Kelsey's Viral Vision

Her home has taken Instagram by fire. I've been following along since day one, and it's clear to see that Kelsey has filled her Dallas, Texas home carefully, lovingly, and authentically. She's an engineer, newlywed, and new homeowner and is taking every opportunity to make this place her own. 


From Kelsey: 

I would describe my style as modern-collected-eclectic. Most of my accessories are vintage pieces I had been collecting long before we owned our home. I’ve also developed a deep appreciation for worldly décor from my travels to the Middle East and other parts of the globe, and I love creating juxtaposition between exotic textures and clean-lined, modern furniture.

Her collected but modern style is something I seriously strive for. 

Let's take the kitchen for instance: the all-the-way-to-the-ceiling marble hexagon tiles; the baby blue lower cabinets; the brass hardware. It is EVERYTHING - on trend without being too time-specific. Kelsey's managed to make a pastel baby blue feel like a neutral. 

When it comes to trends, there have been a few struggles. As a closet artist and lover of color, my knee jerk reaction is to say yes to all things bright, bold, and colorful in décor, but when designing our home, I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the end result if I didn’t find a color balance. My new obsession is natural textures and exotic textiles which has allowed me to create a more neutral palette without losing interest.

Since she's tried to tone down overt colors, Kelsey also adds interest through the one-of-a-kind pieces she proudly displays. 

In our living room, my favorite pieces are our vintage brass Moroccan tray and the art above the fire place. I found the tray while antiquing during college at one of my favorite shops. I gasped the first time I spotted it, but discovered the price tag was a little too steep for a broke college student and sadly left it behind. Months later, I returned to the shop and found the tray wedged between some old, dusty boxes in the back of the store (maybe someone else was ‘saving’ it for later) but at that point I knew it was meant to be and I snatched it up – the rest is history! The painting above our fire place was one of the only items we bought back from our recent honeymoon in Hawaii. We wandered into an art gallery owned by the sweetest couple, and although we had a smaller budget, they were so excited to help us commemorate our new marriage with a painting. After an hour of great conversation and multiple phone calls to the artist, we were able to purchase our first piece of art as husband and wife.

Kelsey's taken those lessons from college and her honeymoon to heart and is committed to spending that hard-earned cash on things that are unique and bring you nothing but the purest joy: art and rare vintage finds. 

In those moments, I usually ask myself ‘will I always regret if I walked away and never found an item like this again’ and that helps me decide whether to move on or make a splurge worth it.

Kelsey, we are so grateful for the opportunity to get inside your home & get to know you better! Can't wait to continue to follow along and see how your home continues to evolve - you've got some serious talent! Follow Kelsey along @leftandlevel for more! 

Now, let's all go about our days and just try not to be too envious of this stunning Texas home.