As an editor at Design Milk, I’ve been writing about design for over 7 years. You would think that after all this time – learning design, meeting designers from all over the world, interviewing design executives – that I would have some semblance of experience when it came to designing my own living room. Nope. If anything, this the experience humbled me and taught me that bBeing exposed to such a high bar of design is both a blessing and a curse. Over the course of my career, I had acquired the proverbial taste of champagne, but as a millennial, first-time home buyer, I was on that beer budget – and it wasn’t even the kind of craft beer cool.
A series of happy events led my husband and I to purchase our first family home in May 2020, during the early months of the pandemic and in a circumstance that is difficult to replicate in the market today. We were competing with only one other buyer with a price lower than the asking price (that was not all cash) and all contingencies still in place. Ours is a unicorn story and I feel for all of my fellow millennials (and any first-time home buyer) who are still looking to buy a home now. We have been very lucky and privileged to be able to find this home and have a space to go through all the lockdowns and mandates over the past two years.
Because we purchased during a very uncertain time of the pandemic, we moved in quickly with very little thought given to decor or design. Our first priority was survival. Shelter-in-place orders meant we needed a functional play space for our then 1.5 year old daughter and our soon to be arriving son. Moving into our home soon after buying it robbed us of the ability to properly assess, organize, and store our belongings. Our living room has become a mess, despite what my instagram pics could have transmitted.
After more than two years, I’m embarrassed to say that our salon hasn’t improved much; in fact, it got much worse. Not only was it nearly impossible for me to design a functional space while two toddlers were living in it, but I also realized that I simply didn’t have the skill, talent or eye required for interior decorating. interior, even though I was exposed to it daily. base. Once our kids went to bed, I retreated to my bedroom instead of relaxing in our living room because that wasn’t the case. feel relaxing to be in. He felt cluttered, dysfunctional and dominated by children. I knew I needed help, so in March 2022, nearly two years after getting the keys to our home, I hired a design-loving influencer to give our living room the desperately needed refresh. .
To be fair, the labeling Alex Yeske because a simple influencer would seriously compromise his talents. Alex began his career designing graphics and branding for Madewell and Loeffler Randall, before becoming art director for Lou & Grey. Throughout this time, she has maintained and grown her following through Dreams + Jeans, a lifestyle blog that covers travel, beauty, fashion and home. While all of this was going on, I started following Alex on instagram and she followed me – the hallmarks of a 21st century friendship. Fast forward to 2021: much to my luck, Alex, who had taken steps back from graphic design to interior design, moved from the east coast to the west and started his own eponymous studio, Alex Yeske Interiors. It was a fortuitous turn of events that led me to hire Alex on this project.
Fast forward to 2022. Here are the “before” photos Alex took that I can’t believe I’m putting on the internet for eternity, but this is real life:
While the design industry has made strides in democratizing home design with services like Yardzen and The Expert, it’s still a luxury service, but one I wish I had invested in sooner. It would have saved me thousands of dollars in bad buys and badly made design choices. Ultimately, it’s one of those journeys that homeowners often go through – where you don’t know until you know – which is why I’m now such a proponent of investing in an architect. personal interior if your budget allows. It’s not just about sprucing up your home!
“A big part of what you pay for is expertise and experience,” shares Alex. “You have someone to hold your hand through the process and to turn to if you have a problem.” This includes dealing with contractors, sourcing products, ensuring the items you love are the right scale for your home, looking at your space from a different perspective to ensure functionality and l aesthetics go hand in hand. It’s a very overwhelming job that requires a lot of attention to detail, and one that I completely underestimated as I tried to “design” my house.
Because Alex and I had been following each other on Instagram for over a decade, she was able to come up with plans and floor plan options without me needing to provide an inspiration board, which isn’t the typical process but I could skip. All I had to do was let him know of my dissatisfactions, including the lack of storage, the lack of division between children’s and adults’ spaces, and a cohesive design feel. I think it speaks to our friendship on the internet, but also to Alex’s talent as a designer for refining what I needed functionally and what I wanted aesthetically.
Here are the main options presented by Alex in Round 1:
When it came to finding the right furniture for the space, Alex and I found pieces from a wide range of sources. Alex referenced his favorite list of brands and stores while I did my own part of research and sourcing. What we didn’t realize before gathering and sharing ratings is that many of our picks were brands powered by Shopifya platform that supports thousands of freelance interior businesses and can be easily purchased through the Shop app. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of free time but can’t help but do some of my own product sourcing, it was so handy to have a tool that made it easy to shop, discover new brands, as well as track my orders.
Alex and I preferred to support small independent businesses like Sixpenny, Cedar & Mossand Everhem where possible, but we didn’t shy away from popular retailers like Room and board That is. Stores that sold unique, high-quality home furnishings, such as Goodbye, Foundryand Home Jayson or designed them themselves, like Sundayswere preferential but we made sure to add touches of vintage and antiques by using Etsy or jump to our local flea market. One of the best things about hiring a personal interior designer is that you have someone who is able to create a very neat design scheme that is representative of your style, instead of a scheme that has been generalized to current trends and limited to a certain portfolio of major brands. .
Due to Covid delays, out of stock notifications, long lead times for available contractors and about a million other setbacks, Alex and I were finally able to complete the project this month, seven months after our initial consultation. I told you this was real life! Nevertheless, I am delighted to share with you the revelation of the refresh of our living room. Check back this Thursday when we reveal the juicy details of our final design sketch, the glorious “after” photos, a full list of sources, where I splurged (and how much $$$) vs. where I splurged. saved, and other invaluable tips and insights from Alex on setting up a space as a new homeowner. Stay tuned!
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