Heather Sherrod describes her personal decorating style as mid-century whimsical, and we certainly see what she means. From bright colors to unexpected decor objects to classic pieces of furniture inspired by the 50s and 60s, Heather may just have invented a new decorating style, whose standards she certainly lives up to.
This actor-turned-attorney is by no means afraid of a challenge, as is evidenced by her career path, and also throughout her home. Together with her husband and father, Heather has painted every room, replaced every light fixture, and remodeled the entire kitchen of her 1923 craftsman home. We can’t deny that Heather has an eye for decorating, and she (like us) also has an eye for budgeting. With the exception of a few on-sale items from West Elm, most of the furniture in Heather’s beautiful home was handed down or from budget-friendly retailers like Target and IKEA. She also saves on textiles, sewing many of the curtains and throw pillows in her home and even reupholstering her dining room chairs and office chair herself.
We can’t wait for you to step inside Heather’s beautiful Houston home today. We’re sure you’ll walk away with a healthy dose of mid-century whimsical infused inspiration to put into practice in your own abode.
Full name: Heather Lynn Sherrod
Current title/company: Employment & Labor Associate
Education: B.A. in Theater & Dance from the University of Texas, J.D. from the University of Houston
From London to Austin to Los Angeles, your first few years after college were anything but ordinary. Tell us about this time in your life. What were your career goals after graduating from college?
My goal after college—without any idea how I was going to accomplish it—was to become a working actress. I developed a love for acting in high school and college and decided to give myself a few years to see if I could make a go of it as an actor. I’m a complete anglophile and Shakespeare nerd and had always dreamed of attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. I saved up for the classes and living expenses by working during college. It was such an amazing and invaluable experience. I met amazing people, grew as an actor, and figured out how to navigate a huge city on my own. After that, I moved back to Austin to get some acting credits on my resume and replenish my savings account (Austin has a less competitive acting market and lower cost of living than L.A.). Finally, at 22, I loaded up my car and drove out to L.A. It was terrifying, I had no idea what I was doing! I worked a series of odd jobs, auditioned for commercials and small projects, took acting classes, and gave it my best shot. Ultimately I decided that the unpredictable lifestyle did not suit my personality at all, but I’m so glad I went for it. I learned a lot about myself and will never have to regret not trying.
In 2009 you began law school in Houston. How did you decide to go back to school, and law school at that? Had you always wanted to become an attorney?
Becoming an attorney was always my “real job” back-up plan. I think there’s definitely a correlation between certain aspects of litigation and theater. Before I even graduated from undergrad, I took the LSAT (a standardized test you have to take to apply to law school). Your score is saved for five years so I knew I had a set window of time in which to decide whether to go back to school. Also, my then-boyfriend, now-husband, was in law school in Houston while I was in Los Angeles. Hearing about his experience as a law student and later as an attorney confirmed for me that it was the right career for me as well.
You currently work as a labor & employment attorney in downtown Houston. What are your job responsibilities?
I really love my job. As an associate in the Employment & Labor group at my firm, I assist with all aspects of employment litigation, from single plaintiff cases to class action litigation involving wage and hour disputes, allegations of employment discrimination and retaliation, breach of employment contracts, and benefits issues. I also assist in counseling employers on a wide range of issues, including hiring, termination, compliance, and drafting employee handbooks and policies.
What advice can you give women seeking careers in the legal profession?
Don’t make the decision to go to law school lightly. Law school is expensive and a huge time commitment so don’t apply just because you graduated with a political science degree and don’t know what to do with it. If you’re thinking about going to law school, try interning or working for a law firm first, so you have a better idea of what the practice actually involves. That way, you can decide if you like it or not before you spend three years of your life working like crazy and incurring huge loans. At least in my experience, it’s nothing like Suits (on the USA Network). If you become a civil litigator, you will spend most of your day researching the law and writing—pleadings, motions, correspondence, agreements, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a noble profession and a very rewarding job. Every day brings something new and exciting, but it’s hard work.
Also, this probably goes without saying, but keep your grades up. The better you do in undergrad and law school, the more doors will be open to you. You want to be able to have the discretion to pick the practice area and law firm that interests you the most.
Let’s talk about your home! You currently live in a 1923 craftsman home in Houston. Tell us what you went through while looking for your place. Do you rent or own? How long have you been there?
We bought the house about 16 months ago. We live in the Houston Heights, a neighborhood just northwest of downtown. It’s an older neighborhood with great character that has become pretty popular with working professionals in their 20s and 30s. We hoped to find a house in the area, but we expected to spend months and months looking and losing bids, because the housing market in Houston has been so competitive the past few years. Miraculously we found our house after only six days of looking! It had been on the market for almost a year and had some truly hideous paint and fixtures, but the bones were just right. We knew that with some relatively minor cosmetic changes, we could return it to its 1920s charm.
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
I guess I would describe my style as mid-century whimsical. I love the lines and scale of furniture from the 1950s and 60s and have been pleased that it fits surprisingly well in a house built in the 1920s. I also say whimsical because I love a house filled with colorful objects that are little on the silly side, like Legos, unicorns, and cartoonish art.
You share your home with your husband and two shelties. How did you combine your personal aesthetics and tastes to create a space you and your husband both love? Did your two pups influence any of your design decisions?
Well, I have to credit my husband, Colin, for reigning in my otherwise unchecked feminine aesthetic. Without his input, every room would probably be dripping in pink and gold. Also, since we don’t have children yet, we have the luxury of each having individual home offices that we can decorate in our own way. We both had veto power over furniture, textiles and art in the rest of the house and I think we ended up with a space that suits us both very well—balanced and modern.
Although the dogs didn’t get a say in the design process, we made a few stylistic decisions with them in mind. First, there are a few strategically placed (hopefully camouflaged) bins with dog toys and other puppy accessories throughout the house. Second, because I could not seem find affordable, attractive dog beds ANYWHERE, I made them myself. Using a Design Sponge tutorial, I made a nautical striped dog bed for the bedroom and another for my office with pink ikat fabric and white piping. I’m really happy with how they turned out.
You and your husband have spent a lot of your free time remodeling your home together. Tell us about this process! How did you prioritize your list of projects?
As with most things, our projects were prioritized by time and expense. We started with the quick fixes. Because paint is such an easy and inexpensive way to transform a room, we repainted every room in the house a bright, light color before we even moved in. We also replaced all of the light fixtures, which were oversized and did not fit the character of the house. After that, with my father’s help (aren’t dads the best), we remodeled the kitchen by adding a new butcher block counter top, tiling the backsplash, and repainting the cabinets. Now that the big projects are done, I try to plan little projects to tackle on the weekends like hanging shelves or planting flowers in the yard.
Where did you shop for the items in your home? Do you prefer new items or antique and flea market finds?
Because we were definitely on a budget when we moved in, buying everything from West Elm was sadly out of the question. With a few exceptions, most of our furniture is grandparent hand-me-downs, IKEA hacks, Target, or resale shop finds. I prefer older pieces because they tend to be better built and more unique. Houston is a big city so there are many places, including Craigslist, where you can find mid-century furniture without breaking the bank.
Tell us some of the ways you were able to decorate your home on a budget. What items for your home would you say are most important to invest in? What items do you recommend saving on?
We definitely decorated on a budget. Most of our furniture is hand-me-downs, repainted resale shop finds, and IKEA furniture. Also as a rule, I try not to pay full price for new furniture at stores like Crate and Barrel and West Elm because they always put their furniture on sale eventually. So when we decided to splurge on our couch, bed frame, and living room rug, I waited for sales. Another place I try to save is on textiles. I sewed many of the curtains and throw pillows in the house myself, and I reupholstered our dining chairs and my office chair.
I don’t mind splurging on prints and paintings from places like Etsy and Society 6 because the money goes directly to the artist. However, custom framing those prints and paintings can be ridiculously expensive. So to mimic the look of custom framing, I buy ready-made frames from places like Michael’s and Ikea, and then have a custom matt made to fit the frame and print. Hobby Lobby can cut a matt while you wait for around $15.
You have a knack for decorating with bold colors. What advice can you give to others looking to add color into their homes?
The only difference between a colorful room and a neutral room is a couple of small, brightly colored “things” placed around the room. I tend to pick two colors per room—usually one shade of blue and another hotter color like orange, yellow, or pink. If you’re timid about color, I recommend going with bright white or cream walls and neutral colored furniture, which you probably already have. You can then sprinkle colorful textiles and objects around the room. That way, you can change out the colors if you get bored or decide you don’t like it. Also, spray paint is your friend. I’ve spray painted lamps, picture frames, small tables, vases, and chairs to add just that extra bit of color.
What do you love most about living in Houston? What are your favorite things to do in the city?
Houston has amazing restaurants and bars and there are more and more great places opening all the time. From speakeasies to tiki bars to southern parlors, Houston has it all. For a great cocktail, you can’t go wrong with Julep, Pastry War, Captain Foxheart’s, or Lei Low. For great food, I’m partial to Liberty Kitchen, Pass & Provisions, Coltivare, and Hugo’s.
What does a typical day look like for you?
This is better described as my aspirational “typical” weekday: wake up around 6:15am, go for a run with the dogs, stop by Revival Market on my way to work for a latte, hopefully get to work by 8:30am, leave around 7pm, head to happy hour for a drink at the Anvil, check my favorite blogs, watch a show or two (right now I’m obsessed with Orphan Black and Silicon Valley), and play with the dogs until bedtime.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
You’ll figure it out, so stop stressing out about everything. Also, invest in Apple. They’re about to come out with this computer phone that’s the size of a piece of toast that everybody’s going to want.
Heather Sherrod is The Everygirl…
I wish I knew how to _______.
sew clothing. My rudimentary sewing skills are limited to simple pillows and curtains.
A “To Catch a Thief” style trip to Monaco and the south of France, complete with a 1953 convertible and fireworks over the Mediterranean.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
When I set out for L.A., an acquaintance who had also pursued an acting career in her youth told me: “This is going to be really hard and you may not be successful. In fact, you probably won’t be. But you’re going to learn so much about yourself in the process that, no matter what, this will be a great experience.” At the time, that was really hard to hear, but it was also just what I needed. It’s difficult to put yourself out there, but just remember that you learn so much more from the tough stuff and you will never regret trying.
Morning or night?
Night. Although I wish I were a morning person, I really don’t hit my stride until around 5pm.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
As an attorney, I feel like I should say someone like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who would no doubt be fascinating and inspiring. But honestly, it would be Cate Blanchett, and I’d order a mai tai at the Trader Vic’s Lounge in the Beverly Hilton.
Couch, Thrive Modern
White chairs, Vintage
Coffee table, originally from DWR, we bought secondhand
End tables, vintage
Arc lamp, CB2
Record player, Urban Outfitters
Bookcase, Crate & Barrel
Curtains, Fabric from Tonic Living
Dining room table and chairs, Vintage
Bar cart, painted plant stand, source unknown
Dipped plant basket, Target (no longer available)
White candleholder, CB2
Pine tree print, art.com
Lost Horizons print, Fred Deakins for Lemon Jelly (no longer available)
Bed, West Elm
Dresser, IKEA, repainted with new hardware
Dresser, IKEA (similar), painted with new hardware
Ship print, Banquet, Etsy
Round mirror, West Elm
Parsons desk, West Elm, painted pink
White desk, Target
Zebra head, FAO Schwarz (no longer available)
Los Angeles print, Rifle Paper Co.
Lady print, Janet Hill Studio, Etsy
Green dresser, Painted vintage
Brass end table, Target (no longer available)