Our homes are often a reflection of who we are and how we live in the space. For example, my apartment is filled with old magazines I’ve had since middle school, and my closet is a disaster after a first date. We find ourselves interjecting our personalities into the little things, even if it doesn’t always match our aesthetic. Morgan Rollinson knows how to add her personality and her passions into her home all while still giving off the vintage, curated vibes we all love. As a full-time graphic designer and contemporary artist (an amazing one, we should add!), on the side, Morgan’s home is eclectic and airy while still incorporating sentimental pieces that add charm to the space. Read on to learn more about how Morgan got into painting, how she’s updated this older home, and how she’s designed a space she and her husband can both love.
Name: Morgan Rollinson
Current Title/Company: Contemporary Artist at Morgan Rollinson Art (side hustlin’) and Sr. Graphic Designer at a tech company in Raleigh (full time)
Square Footage: 826
Rent or Own: Own
City/State: Raleigh, NC
What was your first job and how did you land it?
A design internship at a wedding magazine during college turned into a full-time offer post-graduation. I was a designer and shop manager on a team with six other women. Small teams are a lot of fun because you get to dabble in all areas of the business. We did everything from styling photoshoots to sampling biscuits for a feature in the magazine. I even wrangled a cow at one point during my stint at the magazine—the cow was needed for a photoshoot, of course!
You’re such a talented painter! Was being an artist always the plan?
Thank you! Growing up in a creative family of woodworkers, designers, antique curators, and artists creating has been a consistent part of my life. I was always coloring or painting something. In the car, during church (ha!), at school, you name it. When adults asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say “artist.” While I knew I would do something creative as a career, I was hesitant to jump into being an artist full time. I got my degree in graphic design and am so thankful to have that education and career experience. At this point in my life, I’m able to balance my designer day job with my part-time art passion, and I enjoy doing both.
What advice do you have for women hoping to pursue their artistic passion?
I’ll relay the advice that artist Britt Bass Turner gave me when I met her at a local pop-up: Just keep painting! If you want to be an artist or an illustrator or a designer or a photographer, you’ve got to keep (or start) creating consistently. Focus on what you are making, and the rest will follow. It’s really simple advice that might feel obvious but I know it helped me step back from being too future-focused on how I would sell art, what my website would look like, what pieces I would post about, and instead, dial it back to what you’re passionate about to begin with.
Do you have a piece that holds a special place in your heart? What makes it so?
One of my most recent pieces is occupying that special place in my heart right now. It’s part of my Sun Washed series that I’m launching in late July, and it’s titled “Room for Cream.” I had this idea to do a study of florals in faded tones and layered textures but when I started interpreting what I had in my head, it just wasn’t turning out. I kept working and working with this idea and ended up just painting over what I’d done so far with thick layers of creamy white paint. It was then that I was able to get more reckless with the piece since part of me thought it was a lost cause! I ended up painting really delicate peony outlines on top of the thick background and love the way it turned out!
Are there overlaps between your artistic style and your interior decorating style?
I’m generally drawn to things that feel classic with a dash of whimsy. I strive to make my home and my art feel curated and intentional. Mixing different textures and patterns with little punches of color gives me this feeling in my home while utilizing different brush sizes and shades of colors create that effect in my art.
How would you define your decorating style?
I like the French farmhouse look, but my husband loves mid-century modern design. Our combined decorating style ends up being eclectic and unique. If we find something we love, we get it and figure out where it will fit into our space later. This makes our home feel super personal and characteristic.
Your living room is so cozy and inviting. How did you decorate such a hospitable space for relaxing and entertaining?
We’re lucky that there is a lot of natural light in the living room which helps makes any space feel welcoming! Keeping lots of fluffy pillows on the couches and positioning the furniture in a tighter arrangement adds to the cozy-factor. In the cooler months, I’ll add more blankets around the living room to encourage cuddling, and I keep candles lit year round!
Y’all live in Raleigh, NC. Is any part of your home a reflection of the city that you live in?
Raleigh is such a cool city with a really smart and creative community of people. We’re lucky to have mountains and the beach only a couple of hours away and plenty of great restaurants within walking distance. We love the cookbook by local chef Ashley Christensen and keep it open in the kitchen. We have a large map of the city on our gallery wall and lots of local finds from makers and shops in the area.
We love the airiness and brightness of your home. What color and fabric choices helped you achieve this style?
Having a mainly neutral color palette with lots of different tones and accented touches of color helps our home feel airy and soothing. This kind of happened by accident, since our couches and living room chairs were given to us! There were a lot of different shades of cream, light beige and brown, so I decided on a modern, geometric rug with a neutral base color and lots of texture to help all the shades blend well. The hot pink in the rug becomes a focal point and some dark gray patterns add depth. I think mixing lots of neutrals together helps a home feel curated but still cohesive.
Your home is filled with meaningful heirlooms and treasures from your past. Can you tell us about the importance of some of these pieces? Which pieces are unique to you as a couple, memories that you’ve made together?
One piece that will always be part of our decor is a sideboard that I found in a consignment shop when we were engaged. I originally got the piece for our house but decided to also use it as the altar during our wedding ceremony after my sister said it resembled an altar! We were married on a beautiful sunny day on the lawn of an historic house in Raleigh and its so special to be reminded of our ceremony when I see that sideboard, now placed behind one of the couches!
A couple of other important pieces include the handmade wine rack my husband gifted me for our first married Christmas and the beautiful vanity in our bedroom that my mom, owner of Home to Roost, refurbished. As an artist, I really value my art collection, which includes a print by Charleston artist Teil Duncan, a piece from Quirk Gallery acquired during a trip to Richmond, a watercolor of our wedding venue that my sister made, and a screenprint that I brought back from Dublin.
It’s amazing that so many of your pieces are great refurbishments or custom made! Where else do you look for furniture or decor accents?
I love antique or vintage furniture not only because it is typically higher quality, but also because finding the perfect piece is part of the fun! I shop at estate sales, flea markets, and obviously my mom’s shop! For decorative items, I love all the little trinkets at Anthropologie and Vietri for beautiful pottery. Whenever I can, I try to support a local maker or business, even if it means spending a couple more dollars. Some favorite retail spots in the Raleigh area include Port of Raleigh, The Mercantile, and Finds Raleigh.
This home is lovingly called “The Newlywed House” by neighbors due to the previous owners being newlyweds, like yourselves! What’s unique or special about this being the first home you’ve owned together?
I know that we won’t always live in only 826 square feet, so it’s sweet to think about how we’ll look back on this time and remember the little shared bathroom, my paint supplies that have a way of popping up all over the house, and maybe one day, we’ll even think fondly of this time when we don’t have a dishwasher! Ha!
Your tiny yellow house is only 826 square feet! What challenges did size present to your designing, if any?
The biggest challenge was figuring out the right proportions for the smaller space. I didn’t want the dining table to seem tiny next to the couches or the master bedroom to feel too cramped, for example. Most of our furnishings are lower pieces so as not to overwhelm the space. Installing curtain rods right below the ceiling, hanging a gallery wall that covers a wall from top to bottom, and inserting taller pieces like the secretary desk in the living room, keep your eye moving up.
What challenges or benefits did the age of the house — built in the 1940s! — pose?
I love the old character of our home, so there were more benefits than challenges! The crystal door knobs, creaky original hardwoods, chippy old windows, antique fixtures…I love it all! The only challenge, as far as decorating is concerned, is that all of our walls are plaster which makes nailing into them impossible and adding screws comes with a fear of cracking the plaster. We use a lot of command strips!
What advice would you give your younger self?
That this really will be “great experience.” Anytime I had a frustrating day at work, dealt with a rude or inconsiderate person, pepped myself up for a confrontation; my dad would tell me to hang in there, this is a great experience. At the time, I couldn’t possibly understand how having my idea stolen, for example, could benefit my character. I’m starting to realize that I really did learn, change (for the better) and grow from those instances.
Morgan Rollinson is The Everygirl…
Best brunch in Raleigh?
Poole’s for sure. You have to get there before it opens and be committed to waiting in line but that post-church Sunday brunch at the bar top makes it well worth the wait.
Your camera roll is full of…
My labrador retriever doing silly things, selfies of good hair days to send to my sister, and progress photos of paintings!
Guilty pleasure song?
If I decide I like a song, I listen to it over and over again and never get sick of it! Currently, that song is “Babe” by Sugarland (feat. Taylor Swift). I’m obsessed with it!
Go-to coffee order?
Piping hot almond latte.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?
My maternal great-grandmother who passed away before I was born. She was an artist, too and I’d love to pick her brain about what inspired her!
GET THE LOOK