Surprise! I’m back with a brand new, hot-off-the-presses “In the Trenches” interview! Nope, it’s not Wednesday, but I couldn’t wait to show you the lovely Brooklyn home of Chiara, the owner of Chiarabelle.com. As usual, I am over myself with excitement to be able to share her home with you! And just as happy to tell you that this is the first of many more beautiful homes I can’t wait to share with you… I’ve already got a month of December interviews lined up and waiting!
I know that you’re just as excited as I am to read all about Chiara’s lovely home, so let’s get started!
First things first, please tell us a little about yourself and how you would describe your decorating style…
I’m a prop stylist, freelance now, but I used to work for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. My work website is www.chiarabelle.com. I’m a mother of a beautiful 17 month old baby boy Jackson. My blog, mostly about him and decorating and crafty things, is molassescandy.blogspot.com. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 7 years now and I love it. We’re so lucky to have this super apartment, and I’ve decorated it in what I like to call “bohemian chic” or an eclectic mix of antique, vintage with a touch of new.
Your home seems very warm and cozy to me. I’ll admit I was extremely surprised to discover it is a loft, since I generally associate lofts with a modern, somewhat “colder” feel. How did you manage to create such a warm, cozy feeling within what I assume is the normal loft open concept floorplan?
Our loft is fantastic – everyday I feel lucky to be living here. The ceilings are high but dark wood, which helps make it more cosy. I also have a large dark red vintage chinese art deco rug that warms up the space a lot. I love patterns and fabrics and artwork and little treasures, and I think all those things add up to make a cosy space. The two bedrooms are separate, so that helps also.
I believe you easily have one of the loveliest nurseries I’ve ever seen. Can you describe the process of designing your nursery?
Thank you! I love being in Jackson’s room – it’s definitely my favorite room in the house. I started with the rug, an old design from when Martha Stewart had a collection with Shaw. I didn’t know if I was having a boy or girl so I went with a minty green for the walls, light blue linen curtains with a subtle orange and tan stripe, and a little bit of pink wallpaper that I had leftover from a job. Everything in there is old – old dresser, old ikea shelves that used to be mine, old chair repainted – except the crib, which is a Jenny Lind style from Land of Nod. Once I had the wall color, everything else just sort of evolved, mostly things I loved, so they all went together pretty well.
Another thing that I love about your home is how you incorporated your bird collection
throughout without it feeling overdone with birds or kitschy. Can you give my readers any tips on how to incorporate their collections in their homes in such an organic manner?
The bird collection started happening a long time ago, when I was a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts in 2001. For some reason, I drew a lot of birds. So I started gathering vintage images for reference and inspiration. It just gathered momentum since then. I think it’s not overwhelming because, for one thing, they’re not everywhere (just almost everywhere), and secondly, they are all unique and special to me, nothing is mass-produced, or easy to find.
I know that you are a DIY-er. What would you say has been your favorite home decorating project to date?
My favorite home decorating project was this one:
I think it came out pretty well, if I don’t say so myself!
Have you had the experience of tackling a project, only to find it falling below your expectation? If so, can you tell us a little about that experience and what/if anything, you did to salvage the project?
Oh funny. I just had some girlfriends over for a “craft night” where I wanted to make these Christmas ornaments to give as gifts to everyone. I thought I was going to be able to bang out 20 perfect ones. I had the saddest looking sea-lion shaped ornament after 2 hours that just made me want to cry. I had to laugh though. I know that’s on a small scale. I have a chair in my living room that I tried to slipcover once, and every time I look at it I cringe, because it’s a total mess. But I had to let it go, because I’m not an upholsterer, and no matter what I do, it won’t be perfect, and I can’t afford to have it done professionally. So I just have to consider it “charming” with all its flaws and imperfections.
A Beautiful Abode is dedicated to providing resources and inspiration to people who have the desire to create a beautiful home on a tight budget. What advice do you have for readers who are concerned with their budgets?
My advice is FLEA MARKET! CRAIGSLIST! EBAY! THRIFT STORES! and my personal favorite TAG SALES! There is so much good stuff out there in the world already, and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it. It’s been said before but it’s true, oftentimes something just needs a new coat of paint.
Tomorrow, I have a special “Inspiration Friday” treat for you too! So be sure to drop by…
xoxo – Shauntelle