Pretty Real Home Series: Abby of Abby Wallace Design Concepts - Pretty Real

Pretty Real Home Series: Abby of Abby Wallace Design Concepts

8:33 AM

Happy Friday! We're back with another installment of the Pretty Real Home Series. I can't wait to share what Abby has to say. I met Abby years and years ago and loved her chic Parisian haircut, style, and heart for the hurting.  She simply has style and grace. I visited her home when her stud muffin Judah was born and I was in awe of how well she put it together.  Since then she's started an interior stylist design company and I love to see how she takes rooms with no real design purpose and remakes them with style, practicality, and on a budget to boot.  She's one of the friends I know I can shoot a text to when I'm stumped for a fresh but educated perspective.  So without further ado:

Tiffany: Hey girl! Let's start by hearing a little bit about yourself and your adorable little trio?
Abby: My husband, John, and I have been married for four years. We spent the first year of our marriage in the south before moving back to our native New England.  Now we own (and are constantly updating) a 1915 Colonial in my hometown of Manchester, NH. We share the joy of raising our son, Judah (21 months) and I work from home (part-time) so that I can stay with him full-time, which is one of my greatest blessings!

I also run a very small interior styling business. I pretty much started it because I was running out of rooms to decorate in my own home, and so many of our friends were coming to me for advice and opinions. A close friend of mine repeatedly encouraged me to start something up, and so I finally did! I keep the projects small and I don’t do a lot at one time, because I don’t want to lose sight of my greatest job- being Mama! I can be a bit of a workaholic, so keeping it selective is best for us (and my sanity!)

"I keep the projects small and I don't do a lot at one time because I don't want to lose sight of my greatest job--being mama!" 
It has been so much fun to help people recreate their living spaces and it’s a thrill to see their faces when they see the final product. One client told me that the whole experience felt like Christmas. What’s better than that?!
Tiffany: I love seeing your before and afters on your Facebook page. They are beautiful and creative but also attainable. Besides your clients' spaces, I chose you for this series you have beautiful and consistent style in your home. Have you always been good at decorating?
Abby: I think I developed a passion for interior styling out of necessity. Finances were really tight when I was a kid, and decor was never part of the family budget.  I learned to pull together beautiful spaces with hand-me-downs and clearance items. My mom and I fondly called it “yard sale chic.”  To this day, I think my taste is pretty eclectic, and I can’t stand “matchy-matchy.” Haha! My preferences really developed when my husband and I married and we had to unify all our belongings (and two very different styles).

My husband also has a very strong design aesthetic. John is a Creative Director for a multi-site church, and so he is constantly designing, and building sets or lighting. We work wonderfully as a team, and he has even crafted a few of the pieces in our home. This also means, though, that I don’t have free reign over the house- people are often quick to give me credit for the way our home looks, but the truth is almost everything has his stamp on it.

"People are often quick to give me credit for the way our home looks, but the truth is almost everything has [my husband's] stamp on it."

Tiffany: I love that! I think the most beautiful homes are ones that reflect a little bit of all the personalities living there. You mention your different styles.  How would you describe yours and what's your advice for those who haven't nailed theirs down yet?
Abby: I think my style is “balanced.” It doesn’t all derive from one specific category, but the elements come together in a way that is complementary. Anything mid-century modern turns my head, and I absolutely love antique items sprinkled throughout a space. Since our home is older, we try to keep our renovations in agreement with the nature of the house, so we infuse more modern touches in accents rather than permanent fixtures.

Since I often work with clients, I find myself analyzing what they gravitate towards versus what they say they like. Often there’s a discrepancy. Because of this, I think curating a folder of images or even a Pinterest board dedicated to elements that you love is a great way to “diagnose” style. After you gather enough images, a common thread starts to emerge and you can pinpoint what specific pieces create the look you love. 

Tiffany: that is really great advice! As I mentioned in my segment I tend to battle with old vs. new. I did exactly what you described for Dax's nursery and was able to pick my must haves for the room and go from there!  Speaking of nurseries, What's your number one piece of advice for keeping our homes pretty real-- pretty but realistic for life with kids?

Abby: This probably will make me sound a little mean, but I am really picky about accumulating “stuff.” Our home is on the smaller side (a little more than 1600 sq ft), and extra stuff hanging around makes it feel cramped. I purge our belongings constantly to keep from hanging on to things we don’t use. We do yard sales, give to charity, and pass things along to friends. I’d say the only thing we really hoard is books.
Also, because our place is small, toys in our common living space is unavoidable. We try to curate Judah’s toys as much as we can- and I admit that this is easy right now, since he is so young. He has fun, well-loved toys, but they look nice too. I love his Hape wooden kitchen set, and the mini Eames replica chairs with dowel legs I found last summer at Hobby Lobby.

Tiffany: I am so in love with those little chairs. I really need to fit them into my home somewhere!  Judah is a stylish little dude so I have no doubt he'll play along for quite some time. ;)  Has your style evolved since having kids? If so, how? 

Abby: I think I’ve embraced more color. Before Judah was born, I would have been happy with white EVERYTHING, but now I want cheerful pops of color everywhere. I’m even toying with painting our master bedroom walls a color, which would be a huge change for us. I still really love a clean, white base, but with a fun sprinkle of bright detail.

"I love a clean white space but with a fun sprinkle of bright detail." 

Tiffany: Fresh clean white with pops of color sounds just right. Love that.  What tips do you have for designing one's home on a budget? What’s your favorite source for affordable finds?

Abby: I like to “shop my house” to see what I already own that I can use differently to transform a space. It’s surprising what you can uncover in the attic, basement, or an untouched corner of another room. I do this with my clients too, and there is always untapped potential without spending a penny! Also spray paint can repurpose just about anything for a couple of dollars.

"There is always untapped potential without spending a penny!"
As far as shopping, I definitely am a Target addict, but I also love to shop at Home Goods, thrift stores, and Hobby Lobby.  And, of course, there’s Amazon, especially for kids’ stuff. My Wish List is out of control.

Tiffany: Haha! Finding cool home stuff on Amazon (usually at a great price) feels like a fun game!  I love that too!  How do you sta
y true to yourself amongst all the inspiration via blogs and Pinterest?

AbbyI make inspiration boards for my personal home decorating projects, just like I do for my clients. An inspiration board helps me stay focused on my overall design goal so that I’m not distracted by all the “noise” I see on the web. It also keeps me from making impulse buys that seem like a good deal, but won’t bring me closer to my final design goal.

Tiffany: "noise" on the web. What a great description. Speaking of Pinterest, what's your favorite home trend right now? 

Abby: Blank walls! I love that minimalist vibe with little-to-no accents on walls. I don’t think I could ever commit to it myself, because I am wildly in love with displaying our family photographs as art. But I think it’s a really gentle way of “undecorating,” especially after seeing so many gallery walls in the last few years (guilty!!!)
Tiffany: I'm not sure I even knew that was a trend! And I have to say, I am obsessed with gallery walls so I don't think I'll ever fall prey to the blank wall trend.  But balance is key and I find that anytime the Internet explodes with a trend, an opposite force emerges. Your family photos are so beautiful--I don't think I could resist displaying them either! Which is your favorite room in your home and why? 
Abby: We recently renovated our one and only bathroom. It is a teeny, tiny room that was a little abused by the previous owner, and we hadn’t done much to improve it until now. We chose finishes that fit the style of the home, but still feel current. We did a tile floor in a herringbone pattern, and replaced the ugly plastic tub surround with white subway tile and marble accents. It’s so bright and airy, even for such a small space. It also looks insanely clean. I probably have taken a bubble bath every night since we finished!
Tiffany: Wait a minute! Have I seen photos of that yet?! It sounds so perfect!  What about the most functional space in your home? Describe it and tell us what makes it work?
Abby: For an old house, our kitchen is super functional! The room is unusually large- I have plenty of space for an island and an extra pantry (which we added), and there is plenty of counter space.  We keep plastic cooking utensils in the bottom cabinets so our son can raid the kitchenware without accidents. He helps himself to bowls and spatulas while I cook, and we eat most of our family meals at the island.
Aesthetically, our kitchen is actually my least favorite room. I’m ashamed to say we’ve spent almost no time on it. I’ve promised myself that we’ll get around to working on it soon!

Tiffany: But I love that your least favorite aesthetically can be your most functional!  And I think with kitchens sometimes the lack of functionality drives renovations so it'll be very interesting to see what you do when it's time. Hopefully the fact that it "works," means you can just focus on the fun pretty aspects. What would you say to those who would like to make changes in their home but are clueless on how or where to start? 
Abby: You don’t have to tackle an entire room. Try small changes, like playing with patterns and color in your throw pillows, or styling your bookcase.  Choose a room where you spend a lot of time and want to enjoy, and then pick just one thing to change. Even a floor-to-ceiling cleaning is a good place to start. It will make a big impact!
"Choose a room where you spend a lot of time and want to enjoy and then pick just one thing to change."
Tiffany: I gave a similar answer.  I think it's so easy to be paralyzed when we can't do everything we want (or we can't figure out what we want!) but starting small seems more attainable and less risky.  What’s your biggest design challenge?
Abby: I can get restless pretty quickly. I always want to change something- furniture layout, wall color, bedding, everything! It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of the project, but I remind myself that it’s okay to take time to actually live in the space we’ve created together.  

Tiffany: End with a favorite quote or motto (original or not- up to you!)- it can be design related, mama related, work related, attitude related- anything you live by that inspires you.
Abby: My husband says “use what we have” with his ministry teams a lot, which we’ve sort of adopted at home, too. This philosophy not only stretches our dollar (who can’t use more of that, right?) but also pushes us creatively to use what we already own to its fullest potential before we run to the store.
Tiffany: That is such sound advice. I think it also speaks to contentment which is something that many of us strive towards. Thanks so much for leaving us with that simple reminder.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom with us Abby! I know I learned a few fun tips for decorating and fun facts about you and John and hope others did as well.  
More about Abby: Abby Wallace is a Southern NH-based interior stylist who specializes in creating spaces with personality on humble budgets. Abby stumbled into the world of interior styling. As a new mom with a passion for DIY projects and creating beautiful spaces, her friends and family began asking for her assistance with their own homes. Thus, her second baby, Abby Wallace Design Concepts was born. Abby works with a small pool of clients at a time- she is extremely selective, and enjoys "keeping things small."  
Abby's influences range from eclectic and industrial to vintage and traditional. She is passionate about mixing old and new resources, and loves helping her clients discover the treasures hidden in their homes. The result is an ability to capture your personal style in a space without breaking the bank.
You can find Abby on Facebook here, Pinterest here, and Instagram here.  Her new website is here (make sure to check out her super fun inspiration boards!). 
Friends, come back next week to hear from Kristin of Paige Simple. If you love classic and traditional style (or navy ;) You'll get that joke next week) you'll love to hear Kristin's take on decorating. And in case you missed it, you can read my responses here and Jessica from Live the Fancy Life, here.

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  1. What a beautiful home. I always like seeing how people decorate their homes. Sometimes it inspires me to think outside of the box.

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  2. Your home is beautiful. Best of luck with future projects.

  3. Lovely home! I'm from southern NH! :) I'll have to share with my NH friends.

    1. I never knew that Danielle! I'm from Manchester! Please share :)

  4. Lovely home! I'm from southern NH! :) I'll have to share with my NH friends.

  5. Lovely images! And I love the idea of planning projects carefully and keeping it small so you can focus on your baby! Their childhoods are so fleeting!

    1. very true! Abby is a friend of mine and was kind enough to be a guest on the blog!