See How This Stylist Carefully Curates Her Southwestern Home
Moving multiple states away from home is without a doubt a daunting experience. Apart from schlepping all your belongings across hundreds of miles and finding a place with little time, you have to make this new place feel like home. At first glance, you would never guess that Lauren Kelp had just moved from Austin, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona (along with her husband) a few weeks before these photos were taken. Before you start panicking or assuming super human powers, let us explain that Lauren is a seriously talented interior stylist who decorated (and redecorated) the space multiple times in her mind before ever even moving in. Their new home boasts an abundance of natural light and charming southwestern style that has left us completely enamored. Combine this with her curated collection of art pieces, thrift store finds, and knack for DIYs, it’s easy to see how this driven lady pulled the space together so quickly. However, we're still investigating the possibility of super human powers.
Read on to hear all about Lauren's career as a stylist/designer, her beautiful home, and what advice she has for running your own business and decorating a new place.
Full name: Lauren Kelp
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Current title/company: Owner/Stylist at Lauren Kelp Styling
Educational background: Public Relations & Marketing, Baylor University
What was your first job out of college?
I moved to Austin, Texas to be the Director of Public Relations for a fair trade jewelry company called Raven + Lily. I was working with gorgeous product, writing pitch emails to Elle and Vogue, and developing the brand's social presence. PR for an accessories brand can be difficult at times with so many people vying for national press, but the challenge was incredible and I learned so much.
So after that, what was your next venture? How did you end up starting your own company?
After the accessories company, I helped start a social media agency in Austin. I worked as their social media strategist and did some business development work for about a year and a half. The company was great and it was (another) dream job in Austin, but I just felt like it wasn't the right fit. I met this wonderful interior designer and I essentially begged her to let me come work for her. I immediately fell in love with the decorating process–the selection of color and fabric, taking old pieces and refinish them, the transformation of a space–I couldn't get enough of it. I wanted to do this all the time for the rest of my life, and that is when I realized I needed to start my own company.
What lessons have you learned from working for yourself?
The biggest lesson that I have learned is how to keep the fire going. Burn out is a real thing and it can sneak up on you. After a long day of invoicing or organizing a photo shoot and nothing is working out like it should, it is easy to think, "If I worked in an office this wouldn't happen." And it probably wouldn't, but some other frustrating or boring task would be part of your job. You've got to take the good days with the bad and have a strong foundation for why you do what you do.
Also, I think rewarding yourself is vital to any job. I am a big fan of the "if/then" game: "If I finish invoicing, then I will treat myself to a massage." All of a sudden invoicing goes a lot faster!
Walk us through your typical work day. What does it entail?
The best part about my job is that it is anything but typical! My day usually starts around 6 a.m. with a little yoga, lots of coffee, and a mountain of emails. Then 9 o'clock rolls around and my day really gets rolling. Some days I get to scout locations for a photo shoot with my photographer and work on shot lists. Other days I get to work on design concepts for my wonderful e-styling clients. The content of the day varies, but my passion for what I do only grows. It is so important to find that thing that ignites you and run after it. For me it is things beautiful, whether it was a living room or a product, I live for that moment when things work together and make something wonderful.
You recently moved! Tell us the process you went through while looking for your place. Do you rent or own? How did you find it?
We had about two weeks before my husband's graduate program started to pick up and move out of Austin so it was a total whirlwind and an absolute adventure. I had never been to Phoenix and did not know the area well, so we really relied on the Internet to point us in the right direction, which can be a total gamble, but we lucked out!
We probably toured about ten spots before finding our house. The natural light and the hardwood floors did me in. I think I probably started crying or something ridiculous! It was so important for me to find a space that we both loved and could make our own. Moving to a new city holds new and wonderful challenges, but it is so important to have a space you love coming home to.
How in the world did you get your place looking so great, so quick? Any advice?
Moving to a new spot can be a little crazy. Unpacking and getting things settled helped me process and set intention for our new chapter. My advice would be to set up your favorite room first. It gives you a space to relax in and it keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
After moving in, what was the first step in decorating your new place?
Well, like all good design geeks, I decorated and re-decorated that space in my head about a million times before move in day. My first step was to figure out where all of the big pieces went and then work around that. I wanted to try out something a little more minimalistic when decorating this new space, so I tried looking at our pieces in a new light. What could I re-finish, what could I make, what could I tweak, etc.
How would you define your overall decorating style? Where do you find design inspiration?
I like to think that my decorating style is simple, approachable, and has a little wabo-sabi flair. To me, a house is supposed to be lived in: rooms get messy, shelves get dusty, life happens. Your home is supposed to be a space that works for you and your lifestyle. The way you choose to decorate it should be beautiful and comfortable. My favorite spot to go for inspiration is art books. I always start with a color palette–that is my favorite and, to me, the most important part. Flipping through the pages of color masters like Rothko, Kahlo, and new artists like Lulie Wallace or Robert Roth–you can't help but get inspired!
To me, a house is supposed to be lived in: rooms get messy, shelves get dusty, life happens.
What are your favorite places to shop for home decor?
I love checking out local flea markets and estate sales for unique, unexpected pieces, but sometimes you strike out. For quick an easy decorating pieces, Home Goods is always my first stop. Lulu & Georgia has great textiles and throws, BabaSouk has amazing artisan items, and Etsy is always a fun place to look for something unique and handmade.
Do you consider yourself a DIYer? If so, what items in your home are DIY?
I am a major DIYer. Our family motto was "we can make that," so I have an affinity for adding a personal DIY touch to any space. We have these big beautiful windows that give off a lot of light so I recently put up these copper curtain rods all our over house to spice up the curtain look. I recently put up this awesome 2x4 shelf in our living room and it had been so much fun to style the shelf in new and interesting ways.
If you are just starting out or in limbo, invest in art and pieces that make you happy, like textiles or a bar cart.
What items for the home would you say are most important to invest in? What items do you recommend saving on?
To me, investing in pieces that age well are the most important. If you are just starting out or in limbo, invest in art and pieces that make you happy, like textiles or a bar cart. When you get a little more established and decide to put down more roots then it is time to invest is some bigger pieces. Ikea is perfect for the no-nonsense items like bookshelves and office desks, but for a high use item, like a sofa or area rug, my advice would be to spend a little more. That way you get higher quality and more life out of the piece.
How did you navigate the decorating process with your husband? Did he let you have free reign or was it a long road of compromises?
My husband is the coolest guy and so supportive of what I do, so navigating the process was relatively easy. He is very utilitarian, where as I am more aesthetically driven, so I had to keep that in mind when I wanted to something beautiful but totally impractical. Having some restrictions on a project can be a lot of fun because you've got to get super creative to find the best option to meet everyones needs.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your home?
When we were living in Austin, my husband and I discovered this Brazilian woodblock artist, José Borges. We feel in love with his use of color and the expressions he gives his characters. For our one year anniversary, my husband gave me this print of a couple kissing under the stars and it makes me so happy. It is so important to surround yourself with the things that you love–it could be a poster from Hobby Lobby or a print from Europe. If it brings you joy or evokes a memory, it deserves a place in your home. That's my art buying philosophy anyway.
It could be a poster from Hobby Lobby or a print from Europe; if it brings you joy or evokes a memory, it deserves a place in your home.
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
I would tell my 23-year-old self to trust the process and give it everything she's got. I was really tentative to start my own business so I dragged my feet for a long time. I would decorate and style here and there but never gave it my full attention. Looking back I wish I would have trusted my gut instead of floundering around. I also would tell her that those burgundy streaks in her hair didn't look as cool as we thought they did.
Lauren Kelp is The Everygirl...
Coffee or Tea?
Gosh, I really want to be cool and say I only drink green tea and my skin is perfect, but really I probably drink twice the recommended daily caffeine intake of coffee. I juice every morning, so that's got to count for something right?
Fresh flowers (preferably sunflowers), french fries, a glass of wine at the end of a good day, an afternoon walk or hike, and treating myself to a small impulse purchase - a new nail polish color or a gorgeous new lipstick.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Growing up my parents would always say "trust the process." For the longest time I couldn't figure out what they were talking about and I would just roll my eyes and say "okay cool, Dad." It took me almost 20 years to finally figure it out, but now it is my guiding light. Trusting the process is putting your faith in the path that leads you to where you need to be. It might look windy and get messy at times, sometimes there are even things that can throw you seemingly off course, but it is all part of the process that shapes the person you are becoming. When life gets confusing and frustrating, I sit back, take a deep breath (which really means have a glass of wine), and tell myself that this is part of the process. Life in that moment is still frustrating but it is less confusing.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
That is a tough one. It might be a tie between Martha Stewart and Frida Kahlo. If it was Martha, I would order a gorgeous seasonal salad with a glass of white wine and some macaroons for desert. With Frida, I would order stuffed poblano peppers with a Paloma and some coconut stuffed limes for an afternoon treat.
Aidan or Big?
Oh, Aidan all the way. He was a furniture designer, can you blame me?!