Let's Get Minimized: a Q&A

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We’re minimalists at heart over here and relish a good project where we help our clients peruse through what furniture to keep in a space — and what to pass on — so they truly LOVE their homes. We want their spaces to not just be beautiful but livable, and for them to display their most beloved items that tell stories about their lives. 

But let’s be honest, some projects we’ve come across involve a major decluttering — and that’s when we call in a local experts like Minimized so our design process can follow. We’ve followed Matlin Pessarra and her team and we loved talking to her this week, getting the inside scoop and tricks for not just decluttering a space, but creating a lifestyle of daily purging. Matlin is light-hearted and fun — she even laughed as she confided in us that naturally, she is a stacker — and has self-taught everything she knows about organization. 

Q: What first got you into organizing, a pretty niche line of work?

A: “I am originally from near Raleigh and have moved around a bit. I taught elementary school for four years and really loved it, but found myself becoming obsessed with organizing my classroom. I remember doing a lot of research — one of the reasons I love what I do so much is I am so interested in the psychology behind organization. If kids are going to learn, they need to feel comfortable and the classroom has to feel like home. Other teachers started asking for help on their classrooms and it just turned into helping people.”

Q: Is organization in your DNA?

A: “I am not naturally organized. I am naturally a minimalist, so I don’t have a lot of things which makes it easier to keep tidy —  but I am a stacker like no other. It has just been a process of realizing for myself that I need to stop that habit and create new habits. A reason I love working with clients is that I can relate to them so much. I understand that sometimes it is not natural and I love talking to people about incorporating new habits so you are not having to do a new clean out every month.”

Q: Do you find that your clients similar in their disorganization or the same?

A: “I have these four organizing personalities and all my clients fit into one of them. I call myself a stacker — a piler. Then there are shoppers, who are just people who buy too many things. Then there are the shovers —- their homes are so beautiful but if you open a cabinet or a closet something might fall on you. And then there are the solvers, the people who try to make solutions and have all these organizing supplies but they don’t have the system set up correctly.”

Q: What’s the biggest tidying habit you suggest incorporating into daily life?

A: “If there was one overall tip, I would say create a drop zone in almost every space to put those things when you realize you no longer need them. In the closet, next to your hamper, have another basket so when you try things on in the morning and think, “Why do I even own this?” instead of hanging it back up — you put it there. Get into that habit of setting things aside instead of putting them back. So you don’t have to do a huge purge, instead it’s something you are doing daily. With playrooms, I suggest working with kids and explaining to them that when they are done with a toy, they can put it in this basket over here and then it will go to another kid. Parents say that no way, their kids won’t do that but kids always do it! And then it takes work off the parents.”

Q: What projects are you hired most frequently to tackle?

A: “We definitely see a variety but our most popular spots are closets, pantries and play rooms. It’s pretty much any spaces that are behind closed doors where people tend to shove and not want anyone to into them.”

Q: What do you see as the greatest need in the minimalism/organization?

A: “The greatest need people have is realizing how to change their habits in order to get their homes where they need to be. A lot of people are not used to going through and purging and donating so they tend to get really overwhelmed and get to a point where they don’t even know where to start. I have to talk to clients about how once we come in we can help declutter but you have to keep up with it. Getting people to set up those cycling systems to have somewhere to put things to donate or set things aside is really important.”

Q: What’s your take on Marie Kondo style of organization?

A: “I love Marie Kondo! I’m glad it’s got people’s attention onto the power of decluttering. I get the whole sparking joy thing, but I have joked with so many clients about it — paper towels and batteries do not spark joy for me but we need them. Her whole style is a little extreme but I appreciate parts of it. I love that she talks about organizing by category instead of by room. Like if they want to organize their hardware or manuals —- she suggests one that she has one place for it all. Not one stack in your kitchen and another in your laundry room. And of course her folding! I just love that when I look in my drawers now I can see everything from there. It stops things from piling up and getting stuck in the corners.”

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see that people make when trying to purge?

A: “One big one is focusing more on the supplies than the actual decluttering. Almost every one of my clients already has bins — a lot of people’s clutter is storage products. They are just creating more clutter.


Q: What’s a misconception about minimalism/organizing?

A: “One of the misconceptions I find a lot with clients who hire me is that as soon as I get there, they have an idea of a new system put in! They always jump to supplies or shelving or more cabinets — which will create more storage — but one of the things that people don’t realize is that they have to deal with the clutter first. If you go in and put in more bins you are just containing the clutter — you are really not organizing.”

Q: Your tagline is, "You don't have to do it all." I love that, can you elaborate? 

A: “The reason I stuck with you don’t have to do it all is that especially when I started the most popular question I got was: “Well, can’t people do that themselves?” Our time is worth money and energy and if you are not organizing every day and you don’t know the right process, you might spend weeks on one area where you could call people in and have it don in three hours. I am all about focusing on those things that are important to you!”

Q: What’s your organization process?

A: “The process that we follow can be different depending on the clients, sometimes we come in when they have just moved or are about to move or have been there for awhile. We have a three-step process that starts with minimizing, then organization and then styling. Minimizing is decluttering. We try to take every single thing out of the space, remove everything and begin to categorize and purge as needed. This step is the most time consuming, it totally depends on the client. As for organizing this is really space planning and we try to use products and space people already have! For styling, we will recommend some different products once we have gone through and purged and see what they have.”

Q: Which part of the process makes you come alive?

A: “Definitely the styling because I am seeing it coming all together! Almost every single time they say to me, “Are you scared? Are you overwhelmed by my spaces?” — but I love it! When I walk into an area that people may seem as messy I see the potential of what it could be and sometimes when we are going through the process you almost forget what is looked like so I love having the before and after!


Q: Do you have a go-to organizational item?
A:
“Something I use in almost every project is some sort of turn table. The Container Store has so many different types — plastic ones, bamboo ones, acrylic ones, but they are so helpful for so many different things. For example, for corner shelves or for under the sink — they are great so you are not having to dig through and things getting stuck in the back.”

Q: We often design playrooms -- what are your tips on keeping playrooms organized?

A: “I have a lot of thoughts on playrooms especially as a former teacher but something I talk to clients about a lot is how limited kids attention spans are. If you give them a bunch of options they are going to try to use every single option. You don’t have to have every single thing out and available. I suggest putting things up and away even if kids can see it but cant reach it but then they are asking for it and you are seeing what they are asking for and playing with.”

Q: Should every house have a junk drawer?

A: “Every one is going to have something that feels like a junk drawer. For example, I live in a small one bedroom apartment and in my kitchen I have some extra gum and lighters and candles and spare keys in a drawer — but they are not just tossed and shoved in. I don’t add to it — they all have their space. I think you can have a “junk space” without it feeling junky.”

Find out more on Instagram at @getminimized or visit Minimized.

E-Design Launch!

We’re here with exciting news! Today, we launch a new branch of our design firm: E-Design! Our goal is House of Nomad E-Design makes interior design all the more approachable and brings personalized, custom designs to homes even beyond the Queen City!

Here, we break down the process for you — but to start, here’s a quick list that helps you find out if E-Design is for you! You’re a perfect candidate for E-Design IF:

  • If you are looking to dip your toe into interior design.

  • If you love our style — but can’t jump for the full-service design budget.

    • E-Design is priced at a flat rate per room — no extra design hours, delivery fees, etc.

  • If you are looking to complete one to two spaces.

    • This isn’t for you if you hope to reno your kitchen or refresh your entire home. Our E-design is set up perfectly to cater to the client wanting to rework 1-2 spaces!

  • If you can use a tape measure, pencil and paper — and feel confident online shopping carts.

    • As part of the E-design process, we’ll ask you to gather details about your space: measurements of your rooms and simple drawings, if necessary. All our designs will be sent via email, clickable and ready for you to order your new pieces!

  • If you are a DIY-er at heart because you are your own install team!

    • Once you place orders, you handle the tracking, deliveries and assembly — if needed.

  • If you are in the Queen City — or not!

    • While HON will travel, this is a great option for those outside the 704 area code!

So here’s the breakdown of our custom, E-Design process!

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Since we launched HON, we have loved meeting exclusively with our clients in person. Doing this all via email is a bit leap for us but we hope this means that our love for design and your love of our style are now more accessible through E-design.

Start by filling out our E-Design Questionnaire — we can’t wait to hear from you!!!

Finding Your Style

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More often than not, when couples sit down in our studio for a design consultation — we quickly discover they have different styles. And most often, their design styles aren’t just distinct but they are opposite, like a West-Coast Cali-vibe lover married to someone set on Southern charm. 

But we love this. It’s always a fun design challenge to not just create a cohesive design but one that reflects dual personalities. We start by finding the common denominator — what’s something they both love and agree on? And then, we find what they are each drawn to and how we can incorporate must-have aspects from both clients.

This design process means we get to know the clients really well, which we love, and we do so by taking them through a number of exercises. Pinterest is where we start, showing them galleries of images based on what spaces we’re designing. We watch for what they are each drawn to — and what they are not drawn to. This helps establish patterns for each person and we can find where they intersect. Almost always a color emerges that they both love. We also show them examples of our previous work and ask them what they like — and what they don’t. Is this kitchen way to modern? Dining space too traditional? 

Once we start to find their style — we start the compromise game. We may have discovered they both love blue, for example, so the designs reflect that vibe as the foundation. If he’s set on a leather couch with modern wood accents, maybe we jump for that piece but then soften the design with textiles and pillows that reflect her personality. 

Another trick we’ve found so unifying for most couples is to include an unexpected element in the design. If it’s a one-of-a-kind light fixture — for example — often both clients are thrilled and drawn to it, and bond over that being in their space.

Check out this dining space, as an example (shown above)! During the design presentation, immediately they both intrigued by this light fixture. The layered glass was unique and they both loved that they’d never seen it before. As for the rest of the space, we touched on his style with the modern, streamline table and chairs. We also incorporated a wallpaper that she loved, making the space welcoming and a room that reflects them both.

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Across CLT, we designed another dining space (shown above and below) where he was drawn to a textured light fixture and she — a bold wall color. He compromised on the bright paint for her, and she went for the light fixture and a rug he liked. The space sings to both of their styles.

For the design of Kell’s house in NoDA, Kell and her husband Brad (who designs furniture!) worked together to create cohesive spaces. While Kell is drawn to modern and eclectic, if it was up to Brad — everything would have a mid-century modern vibe.

They worked together in this dining space with chairs that have a nod to mid-century with the caps — but then incorporate Kell’s personality with the hide and curved bucket seats. They both loved the light fixture and across the space, incorporated a mid-century piece from Atomic Furnishings in Asheville.

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Their bedroom also reflects a unified design with them both loving the moody feel of the deep-toned walls. Off this vibe, the duo picked a mid-century piece that Brad had his eyes on with Kell’s pick: a velvet headboard and textiles that reflect her eclectic eye. It’s a pure mix of them both.

Happy Valentine’s Eve! And cheers to all the couples who have pushed our designs to the next level with your distinct personalities and love for your homes!

Travel Tips from Thailand

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I just returned from Thailand, which is hands-down my favorite place on earth! While I’m still unpacking my bags and it’s fresh on my mind — here’s my best travel tips, and Berk chimed in here, too! Here goes our do’s and don’t’s of international travel — with some favorite Thailand shots thrown in.

1. Before You Leave

  • Grab your passport and check the expiration date. If needed, apply for a renewal - ASAP!

  • A passport holder is a fun way to keep track of your important documents!

  • Once your flight is booked, check your airline and download their app. Sign up for flight status notifications. Create the wallet option on your smart phone so you’re not juggling passports and tickets and boarding passes.

  • Research the converter you will need! Before you hit the airport, make sure your phone is charged so you aren’t in line worried about showing your boarding pass before your phone dies.

  • Apply for TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry! We think the $85 membership fee for five years is WELL worth it — it’s a lifesaver, especially for the trip home! Keep in mind you have to apply in plenty of time prior to leaving on your trip but it saves (ALOT!) of time in customs and security lines both going and coming.

  • Download 3-4 movies, a few podcasts and a book on your Kindle! Last trip, I stood in the airport trying to get my movie to download and it never did. Make sure you go board ready with some fun media to look forward to!

  • Search “sleep” on Spotify and download a sleep playlist. It’s so worth it!

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2. Pack in These Bags

  • And what I mean by “bags” is BAG! Berk and I never check a bag — unless it’s an EMPTY duffel to bring back full of goodies for our shop! This is a favorite suitcase!

  • Pack light! Just fill your carry on what you love! This not only cuts down on travel prep but strangely cuts down on stress during the trip. While in Thailand, I had less options to chose between day to day. Your favorites are always enough. Five days prior to leaving, lay everything out that you might bring. Set the items in your guest room bed, perhaps, so that you can walk in and out a few times a day and start removing things you’re not thrilled about bringing.

  • This Calpak laptop bag is tried and true and we’ve found nothing safer or easier to carry for our computers! It’s a backpack and stylish, too.

3. Tuck these in your carry on

  • Nothing is worse then chapped lips on a plane! We never leave the house without this!

  • Travel-size dry shampoo is your best friend while en-route and all trip long.

  • This (travel size) facial spray is magic for when you start to feel like you need a mid-flight refresh.

  • These no-leak containers are perfect for toiletries.

  • Berk and I both are suckers for a travel uniform, meaning our favorite joggers, a T-shirt, lightweight and comfy sneakers (perfect for when we have to sprint to our gate!) — and most of all, soft socks. Sounds ridiculous but it makes the hours and hours on a flight that much more comfortable.

  • Tiger Balm is magic — it’s a tiny container, perfect for your carry on and takes away headaches and neck/muscle tension quickly.

  • I love having these Colgate Whisps on hand to freshen my breath in between flights.

  • Neck pillow — this one is perfect, Berk and I have both used it every trip we’ve taken! It inflates/deflates so doesn’t take up too much space, and truly I can’t sleep without it!

  • Benadryl — take it 20 minutes prior to being ready to go to sleep and turn on your sleep playlist!

  • Investing in these noise-canceling headphones is a no-brainer. They dramatically changed my experience on flights! They’re incredible.

  • Eye Masks really help get your zzz’s in on a flight!

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4. Airport Tips

  • When you have long layovers, find the closest lounge to pay to get into and use their shower! Definitely worth the fee!

  • Buy some healthy snacks ahead of time or in the airport shop — they always have a nice selection and will help you feel better during your flight.

  • Buy a large bottle of water prior to boarding your flight — and try to get some steps in. We walk our terminal at least twice, just trying to prep for a long time staying seated.

5. Once You Arrive

  • When you get into the international airport, make sure to stop at the kiosk and swap out SIM card on your phone! All international airports have numbers of places to do this — and even better, it is really economical!

  • On every trip, we also rent a hot spot so we can work remote — and stream music/vidoes while we travel on the bus/subway!

Next month, expect a Guide for Thailand to be released and a summertime Guide to Tulum! In the meantime check out our Guide to Marrakech and Guide to Sayulita.

Cheers to a new year full of travel!

HON's Full Service Design Process

At House of Nomad we believe in making the design process approachable with results that are authentic to our client’s personalities and lifestyle — and most of all, we keep design fun. Here’s a glimpse behind the scenes into House of Nomad’s full service design process. As an example, we’re pulling from a Dilworth cottage that we designed last summer. The clients asked for a refresh for their entryway, front living space and adjoining dining room. We hope this start to finish guide is a fun glimpse into this process and what it looks like for us and our clients!

STEP 1: Initial consultation

Once a client makes the initial contact, we set aside 1.5 to 2 hours to meet in person, talk about goals and get to understand their style. We see the space, take full measurements and photos and discuss their budget. Here’s shots of the Dilworth space the first time we walked through our client’s doors.

STEP 2: Design Time

Back in the studio after the consultation, we pull everything into a proposal to kickoff our design time. Our design time includes pulling together a design tray with swatches of paint, samples of fabric and finishes that we bring to the clients. Here you see leather and wood finishes for our Dilworth cottage project — sofa/chair choices, a wallpaper swatch, a rug sample and a textile option. Depending on number of rooms and project size, our team also creates a paint plan, 3-D renderings and space plans. This process typically takes 2 to 3 weeks.

STEP 3: Presentation

All of our full-service design presentations are done in person, where we review space plans and 3D renderings of our mutual vision of the space. Here’s the space plan and mood board from the Dilworth cottage project, which we reviewed with the clients along with their full presentation of paint, furniture, rug and decor options.

While this Dilworth project didn’t require 3D renderings, here’s an example of what that looks like for a recent Plaza Midwood client!

STEP 4: Project Managment

After the client approves the items on the presentation, HON sends over an invoice. Once paid, all orders are placed by our project manager who tracks them on a weekly basis giving clients updates on the status of each item. Once we nail down anticipated delivery dates, we gear up for our favorite day: INSTALL day!

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STEP 5: Delivery & Install Day

Install day is the climax of every detail and vision and conversation, where the client’s vision and all our details come to life! House of Nomad installs are typically done in one day, but at times (due to project size and item availability) are completed in two separate installs. We show up with our delivery team first thing in the morning and our installer gets to work doing everything from hanging drapery and light fixtures to assembling furniture and hanging chairs. Our delivery team places each rug and piece of furniture — and we come with our clipboard and install bag ready to go, prepped for all the details!

Here’s some favorites from the install day at the Dilworth cottage!

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6. Styling

Per request from our clients, we love to finish a project with styling. For styling, we pull from our inventory of items sourced all over the world and hand-select finishing touches for your space. We set aside an hour to two of design time to come in person and complete the space with potted plants and decor.

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7. Photoshoot

For an average project, from the time we begin a consultation to a completed space the time frame is 8-12 weeks — depending on the goals (painting/etc.). The last step for some projects is a photo shoot of the final spaces. And we were so excited that this Dilworth project was picked up by Rue Magazine! Follow the link for more images from this beautiful home. All final photos by Laura Sumrak.

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