What do you do when you’ve only been living in your apartment a few months and your dream home straight out of Pinterest lands in your lap? If you’re Danielle Moss, you pack your things, grab your rescue pup, and don’t look back. If you can’t imagine an apartment worth moving mid-lease for, just wait. (Hint: It involves white painted wood floors, wood beams, and exposed brick.)
If there’s one lady who knows how to style a home with her signature color palette of white and grey, it’s this one. While she may have experimented outside of her color-free comfort zone in the past, it’s clear that Danielle has returned to her roots, placing the focus on pattern, texture, and a few signature finds to elevate her home’s overall look and feel. (We’re looking at you, vintage marble coffee table.)
You may have seen a photo or two on instagram, but today, Danielle is giving us a full tour of her Scandinavian-inspired home, talking about why she won’t work until 2 in the morning anymore, and how her job at The Everygirl has evolved over the last year.
Name: Danielle Moss
Location: Lakeview, Chicago
Current title/company: Co-founder and editor of The Everygirl, stylist, photographer, graphic designer, and blogger behind Danielle-Moss.com
The Everygirl team has grown in the last couple of years. How have things changed since you first launched the site?
People often assume that The Everygirl was an overnight success, and while it did grow quickly, Alaina (my co-founder) and I could only afford to pay ourselves part-time salaries after one year, and it was just us and anywhere from 2-4 interns running the site. This meant working full-time jobs, staying at the computer until anywhere from midnight to 2 a.m., and working weekends, while writing daily posts for my personal blog, too.
We’ve been full-time for a few years now, have four stories go up every day, 28 regular contributing writers, a part-time director of brand partnerships, full-time managing editor, a copy editor, and we hired a full-time social media manager yesterday! With these new hires, our content and what we do changed significantly, and has allowed us to focus on growing our brand.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you work remotely at home or schedule work sessions with your team? Any plans for an Everygirl office in the future?
My workday might seem like it’s full of photo shoots and coffee dates, but it’s really not that glamorous. Most of my days are spent at my computer and on calls. I either work in my office, dining table, on my deck (when it’s not freezing), and try to co-work with friends (who work from home) at least once a week.
Alaina and I both work from our home offices here in Chicago (our new hire will be joining us here next month!), our director of brand partnerships is just outside Boston, our managing editor is in Texas, our copy editor is outside Detroit, and our writers are scattered across the country. And yes, there are plans for an office/studio space as our team continues to grow.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since launching The Everygirl?
I went from working for myself as a freelance graphic designer for five years to working with a team, and while diving right in to The Everygirl felt like a natural fit, I was pretty terrible managing interns. I’ve loved all our interns and am still pretty close with quite a few of them, but at the end of the day, delegating did not come naturally to me.
Then there’s all the business stuff. From operating agreements and payroll to the hiring process, there’s been a lot of learning as we go.
In addition to running the website, you’re also a stylist, photographer, graphic designer, and blogger. How much of your time do your other jobs take up? Do you limit yourself to a certain number of extra projects per month or take it as they come?
I’ve done the whole “work one job all day and another at night” thing and it is absolutely exhausting, so yes, there is a limit to what I’ll take on—I can only do so much and I do have a full-time job that will always come first. On average, I’ll work on two projects per month and put a few hours in after work a couple days a week. I am currently wrapping up a logo for one client and am decorating a cottage in CA.
There are those weeks when I’ll work a lot more than that or spend the majority of a Sunday at my desk, but I’ve gotten better at taking a break when I need it. Blogging happens when I have spare time and something to say, and has been pretty sporadic the past few years. I never post for the sake of posting, so on busy weeks nothing goes up, and I am more than OK with that. I recently redesigned my website, which has me wanting to blog, but it’s been a busy few weeks and there are only so many hours in a day.
We’re told we can do anything and have it all, but in the end, something’s gotta give. Dream big and work hard, but give yourself a break.
You launched The Everygirl on February 22, 2012. If you could go back to that time and give yourself some advice knowing what you know now, what would it be?
Bring more wine to Alaina’s house to toast the new site? Ha!
I was in my late 20s when we launched The Everygirl and am about to enter my mid-30s, so I like to think I’ve grown-up and learned a thing or two in the past few years. I’d tell myself to slow down, spend less time online, and to put a lot less pressure on myself. After pushing myself to the point that I got shingles (which happened due to the stress and pressure I was under), I was forced to reevaluate everything. It wasn’t an overnight change, but was a series of small shifts that helped me get there.
I finally stopped chasing this idea of balance and, slowly but surely, found my own version of it. We’re told we can do anything and have it all, but in the end, something’s gotta give. Dream big and work hard, but give yourself a break.
And now tell us about the process of finding your apartment. How long have you lived there?
I wasn’t even halfway through the lease on my West Town apartment when I met a friend to see a renovation she had been working on. And all it took was stepping through the front door to get me to say I’d break my lease and take the apartment. The thought of moving or living this far north did not sound appealing, but places like this only exist on Pinterest and in Europe, so I couldn’t not take it.
This is the fifth time you’ve moved apartments since becoming a Chicago resident. How has your design process changed which each new apartment? Does it get easier? More difficult?
Moving five times in less than six years sounds sort of insane, doesn’t it? Let’s start at the beginning: I first moved to Chicago from Los Angeles in 2010. And why Chicago? Well, I was sick of LA and found myself feeling very stuck both personally and professionally. I rented a small junior one-bedroom in a high-rise in River North (downtown) because I didn’t know where to live and convinced myself I’d only be safe if I had a doorman.
Decorating my first place was quite the process—I moved to Chicago with only a mattress and headboard. I bought pieces as I could afford them, used baskets as nightstands, and my art was all etsy, DIY, or photos I took myself. Then I decided to find something a bit more spacious and budget-friendly, and relocated to a cute vintage walk-up on the border of Lincoln Park and Lakeview. I kept almost everything and invested in a larger coffee table, dining table, headboard, and real nightstands. After almost two years in that apartment, Alaina (my Everygirl co-founder) and I decided to move in together for one year to save on rent and make co-working a bit easier. When our year was up, I moved a few blocks away. That space was fine but never really felt like home, so when my current dream apartment fell into my lap, I couldn’t say no.
Decorating this place was easy. When Alaina and I designed our third sofa (the Caitlin) with Interior Define, I knew it was “the one” for me, and ordered it in white. This isn’t my first experience with a white sofa, and yes, my tiny dog sheds. But if my girlfriend can have two babies, a golden, and a white sofa, surely I can make it work.
Let’s talk about your personal style evolution over the last few years. This home has a very different vibe than your previous home tour in Lincoln Park. Tell us how your taste has evolved over the last few years.
It’s crazy looking back on my Lincoln Park home since it doesn’t feel like me at all. It represents a time in my life where I unsuccessfully tried to convince myself I loved touches of color and lots of gold. The place I shared with Alaina felt more like me, but in the end I’ve realized that my style is even a little simpler. I’ve found that I like really clean lines, great vintage pieces, and a mix of both modern and traditional elements. I feel like I have a better sense of my taste now and that this home aligns a lot more with my aesthetic.
The interior details of your space are inherently minimalist but still charming and full of character. How much did the unique features of the apartment (white painted floors, exposed brick, sloped ceilings, etc.) drive your pared down, minimalist design this time around?
This apartment definitely inspired me to keep things simple and “capsule wardrobe” my life and home. I knew the bed would go on the floor because I’d be way too close to the ceiling otherwise, and I still hit my head at least a few times a week as it is. I like gold, but wanted less “stuff” which meant getting rid of shelving and everything I don’t need or use. I held on to my favorite accessories, design books, and clothes, and sold or donated everything else.
I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like my home and that’s OK.
How long has it taken to get your home to look how it does now?
My apartment felt like home after just a few weeks, but the staircase gallery wall and final details weren’t done until a week before this photo shoot. It’s not that I needed to change things, but I never put that much thought into making sure everything’s photo shoot ready until I’m actually ready to shoot. In the end, it comes down to styling (placing the right plant and accessory on a stack of books etc.). Now that it’s been photographed, it will look pretty much look like this until I move out.
What are some of your favorite home stores where you found affordable pieces for your home? Any favorite finds?
It’s no secret that I love West Elm—from my jute rug to lighting and Belgian linen sheets, it’s a favorite for well-made, budget-friendly furniture and decor. I’ve found a few pieces at CB2, IKEA, Wayfair, Joss and Main, Crate and Barrel, and Urban Outfitters, too.
Most of the items in my home can be found in stores or online, so having at least one unique piece in each room was very important to me. I love when there’s a story behind something, like my bedroom dresser, which I got the week I moved to Chicago and had refinished by my friend Meg of Meg Made last year. My vintage pieces are almost always my favorite, like my desk, bar cart, and coffee table.
Any piece of furniture or lighting under $100 makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
Tell us about where you decided to splurge in your home versus where you decided to save. How did you find the balance?
Any piece of furniture or lighting under $100 makes me feel like I’m doing something right, so I especially love my floor mirror, bar cart, vintage mirrors, bedside lamps, and nightstands. Large dining tables are expensive, and I almost splurged on one but couldn’t go through with it. I found something a lot more budget-friendly (that I love) on Joss and Main. I also came really close to investing in a vintage oushak rug but went with a favorite 8×10 West Elm jute, which is under $380 full-price. And I got it on sale, naturally.
As co-founder and editor of The Everygirl, design blogger, photographer and interior stylist, are there any specific pressures that comes along with designing your home, knowing that others will have certain expectations of what it “should” look like? How do you stay true to your own personal taste?
There is definitely some pressure to make sure everything looks photo shoot worthy, but this home tour was without question the least stressful for me. I was so nervous the first time one of my homes was photographed, but three home tours later, I’ve learned that not everyone is going to like my home and that’s OK. It all came down to a little bit of styling, so I picked up some plants, moved some art, pulled out my camera, and started shooting.
What advice can you give to others who may be overwhelmed with the process of decorating an entire apartment while on a budget?
You don’t have to buy everything at once, so figure out what you need most, and slowly start investing in pieces as you can afford them. Always wait for big stores to have sales, look for floor samples to go on sale, and check craigslist, etsy, Ikea, and flea markets. Pinterest is such a great resource, so find a great Ikea hack and create something you love, or DIY that upholstered headboard. And never buy anything you can’t afford.
What is your favorite room in your apartment and why?
It’s a toss up between my living room and bedroom. The bedroom is so dreamy and feels like a European Airbnb—totally worth the five times a week I hit my head on those slanted walls when making my bed. Then there’s the living room—from the high ceilings and exposed brick to my cozy sofa, it feels like home.
Danielle Moss is The Everygirl…
Where’s the one place every Chicago visitor should go?
For scenery, Oak Street Beach. The skyline and lakefront merge together to form a perfect city meets beach moment, and it gets me every single time. And if we’re talking about food, I’d recommend Avec (the bacon wrapped dates are life-changing).
Design magazine you can’t live without?
Can I pick three? Domino, House Beautiful, and Elle Decor.
Biggest takeaway from 2016 so far?
Travel! I visited Europe for the first time in 2013 and talked about taking another big trip every year since, but there was always a reason not to (usually financial). Earlier this year, I spent a week in Argentina and in less than a month, I’ll be heading to Italy and France!
Latest design obsession?
Mixing old with new. I went from having my one vintage dresser and bar cart to at least one piece in each room, and want to mix in even more vintage in my next place.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
I answered this one back when we did our career profile on the site, and I’m still waiting for my glass of wine with Diane Keaton because I just love her. She’s someone who has always done her own thing the way she wants to, and she’s aged so gracefully.
Stonington Grey, Benjamin Moore
Sofa, The Everygirl Caitlin Sofa for Interior Define
Chair, The Everygirl Rose Chair for Interior Define
Coffee Table, Vintage (similar here)
Art, Artfully Walls
Art, Artfully Wlals
Ceiling fixture, Retrofurnish
Grey pillow, Susan Connor
White and grey pillow, Susan Connor
Striped pillow, Found Home
Rug, West Elm
Painting, Meredith Sands
Floor Lamp, West Elm
Chairs, Lulu and Georgia
Moroccan pouf, Wayfair
Media Console, CB2
Record Player, Uturn Audio
Horns, Lulu and Georgia
Linen Curtains, Pottery Barn
Faux Sheepskin, Joss and Main
Pineapple, Found at a flea market in Argentina
Mirror, Ikea (discontinued)
Basket, Home Goods
Plant, Jayson Home
Side table, Vintage
Table lamp, Vintage
Rug, West Elm
Marble Board, Williams-Sonoma
Cutting Board, Willims-Sonoma
Hand Soap, Williams-Sonoma
Copper Colander, Wayfair
Dish Towels, Williams-Sonoma
Marble Utensil Holder, Williams-Sonoma
Peek Print, Minted
Table, West Elm (old)
Chairs, Crate and Barrel
Desk, Vintage, Meg Made
Jute Rug, Serena and Lily
Pillow, Made of Cloth
Sheepskin, Lulu and Georgia
Horse Print, Kara Rosenlund
Desk lamp, Schoolhouse Electric
Floor lamp, Schoolhouse Electric
Pencil Cup, Gigi New York
iPad Case, Cuyana
Staircase and Hallway
Owl Print, Artfully walls
Vase, Lulu and Georgia
Black Arrow Print, Artfully Walls
Head Sculpture, Vintage
Leaf Lines Print, Silke Bonde
Forrest Floor Print, Silke Bonde
Paris Photograph, Danielle Moss for The Everygirl. Framing by Framebridge.
Memphis Jane Print, Minted
Visionary 2 Print, Minted
Sable Song Print, Minted
Blackbird Print, Minted
Indigo Blot Test Print, Artfully Walls
Strokes from Renaissance, Minted
Belgian Linen Bedding, West Elm
Nightstands, Urban Outfitters
Lamp, West Elm
Dresser, Vintage, Meg Made
Horse Photograph, Minted
Mirror, Kathy Kuo Home
Mongolian Fur Pillow, West Elm
Clothing Rack, Ikea
Bench, Kathy Kuo Home
Clock, West Elm
Tray, Lulu and Georgia
Daybed, West Elm
Bedding, West Elm
Pillows, Susan Connor
Pillows, Found Home
Pillow, Made of Cloth
Campaign Dresser, Land of Nod
Task Lamp, Schoolhouse Electric
White Mirror, Vintage
Sofa, Joss and Main
Striped Pillow, Williams-Sonoma
Border Pillow, Williams-Sonoma
Dining Table, Hayneedle
Dining Chairs, Joss and Main