StyleMutt Home Washington, D.C.
Interview with Chelsea & Cate of StyleMutt Home
Best friends, design soulmates and sisters-in-law: meet Chelsea and Cate, the blogging team behind one of our favorite sites, StyleMutt Home. Whether they’re rehabbing an old flea market dresser in need of some loving attention or building furniture from scratch, this pair keeps one another perfectly in sync and on trend. They share all their tips, tricks, design finds and DIY tutorials over at StyleMutt Home, and they slowed down just long enough to share a few insights with the REstyleSOURCE team, as well!
[Pictured above, Cate & Chelsea of StyleMutt Home] PHOTO: c/o StyleMutt Home
REstyleSOURCE: So, how did you get started in the home décor & styling business?
Chelsea: Funny thing is, I didn’t really intend to have this business so much as I just really enjoyed decorating and flipping furniture as a hobby! I had the pleasure of watching my Mom work her creative muscle with our homes growing up—we moved several times—I didn’t realize it at the time, but I learned so much from her! When my husband and I bought our house, we had to use our imagination a lot to turn it into a place that felt like “us”. Through documenting all the projects first on Facebook and then a blog, the hobby became a fun home business!
Cate: I remember the first time I intentionally decorated my childhood room. I was in middle school and my parents had let me move into the bigger guestroom and upgrade to a double bed. I got to pick the room color (a sage green) and new bedding to match. I even flipped my first piece of furniture: an avocado-colored 1970s-esque dresser, which I painted in eggshell and updated the wood knobs with brushed nickel hardware. If my memory serves correctly, that was the Christmas my sister gave me brushed nickel lamps to match. And I was ECSTATIC! Which I can say was unusual for my fellow 8th graders. I guess my taste buds for décor were officially awakened from then on.
Later in life, I was lucky enough to find a good man with a steal of a family: his sisters became my fast friends and his parents an extension of my own. After Chelsea (my husband Caleb’s oldest sister) and her young family moved in to their first home, she started flipping furniture in her garage and successfully blogging under the name “Chelsea’s Garage.” Every time I came over there was a new find or original idea to gawk at. When Chelsea asked me to co-blog with her, I was so honored and excited that she would want me to be involved in Chelsea’s Garage—which, after a year or so of guest posting, we then rebranded as StyleMutt Home.
“There is no right or wrong way to decorate your home as long as YOU love it!”
Where did the name “StyleMutt” come from?
Chelsea: I previously documented projects on Chelsea’s Garage, which I started soon after we moved into our house 5 years ago. While penning that blog I did a short series on tips for working an eclectic aesthetic in one home and described my eclectic ways as being like a “style mutt” – someone who enjoys various styles in design. Our goal for StyleMutt Home is to present new and fresh ideas for home decorating that don’t fall under one particular category. We embrace lots of different flavors in the design world and hope to encourage and provide inspiration for others who do as well.
Cate: When Chelsea was first blogging under the name “Chelsea’s Garage” she wrote a post about her home décor and endearingly likened her mix of styles to a style mutt and I immediately identified with the term. When we decided to start a co-authored blog, we had actually chosen another name that we sat on for over a year. But when the time came to build the new site, we both had second thoughts. The night before our first strategic planning meeting, I think I woke up with the idea to use StyleMutt. I then pitched the idea to Chelsea and it was such an “Aha! The heavens are parting” moment.
How To Be a StyleMutt
style·mutt: noun an affectionate nickname for those who cannot attribute their design sensibilities to one “breed.” An individual who enjoys an eclectic mix and appreciates various decor styles.
Chelsea & Cate say: We want StyleMutt to be a reader-centered blog. Our deepest desire is that readers submit content, share ideas, and seek advice. We hope that they find new ideas that inspire them to re-love their spaces, and that all walks of décor find a welcoming, happy, relatable place when they stumble across our content or visit our site.
What inspires you? Whose work inspires you?
Chelsea: I’m not the most well-traveled person, but I do soak in a lot from the world around me. My favorite thing about our home is that it backs up to the woods and we get a lot of natural light. I’ve kind of taken a cue from those elements with both my decorating and furniture flipping style. I thoroughly enjoy nature and mixing in natural elements when I can. There was a turning point in my perspective of home design when I discovered Mandi Gubler of Vintage Revivals. The first time I came across her blog I felt like someone gave me glasses! After spending just an hour on her blog, I got so much more comfortable with myself and brave to step out and try new things!
Cate:HGTV’s Emily Henderson (Secrets From a Stylist) mixes pieces unconventionally and breaks traditional style expectations; she’s loose and fluid, sassy and eccentric. More often than not, her method of decorating genuinely surprises me. I think that’s saying something since I can’t predict her moves and yet I’m always satisfied by what she delivers.
PHOTO: c/o StyleMutt Home
So, what drives your passion?
Chelsea : Cate does! Whenever I’m feeling a little low in the creative tank, one chat with Cate has me rearin’ to go again. When I see others putting their own unique twist on their home or a piece of furniture, as Cate does, that totally fuels my fire!
Cate: I like to pretend I have this super power to see the potential in “one man’s trash”. I don’t see a dusty thrift store inventory or a roadside junk pile: I see beautiful ideas and sometimes exhilarating challenges. Whether or not I can actually realize my vision is part of the fun.
Any trends out there right now that you love? Anything you love that you’d like to see BECOME a trend?
Chelsea : Mexican blankets! I’m totally hooked. I like them as a blanket, a rug, a wall hanging, or even cut up and used for dining seat upholstery! As they are made using so many various designs and color schemes, they could be snuck into so many decor styles seamlessly.
Cate : Brass is back, baby! I used to only like silver, but MAN, have I changed my tune. I love a good gold glint in a room, and now I practically hoard only brass pieces. Also, has anyone else noticed the fiddle-leaf fig business? It’s like every mid-century modern room has one in the corner. I myself have a stage-four case of black thumb: living plants can bring life to a room, but I think I may be repeatedly loving mine to death. I have major plant envy.
PHOTO: c/o StyleMutt Home
What would be your ultimate, dream styling project?
Chelsea : Oh goodness, if I could renovate a Washington D.C. row house I’d be a happy camper. I love mixing old with new, and I can’t think of anything greater than taking an historical home in my favorite city, with high ceilings and tall windows and putting my own personal twist on it. I’d maintain the old character of the home but introduce some fresh ideas with crisp white walls, warm woods, clean lines, and some vibrant patterns. And then I’d fill it with fun memories with my family!
Cate: Lately, my dream is to be a landlord. Hah! Not what you were expecting was it? I really want to buy and flip an income property as a means of sustainable revenue. Whether it’s an English basement in my first house or a mini apartment building, I want to care for it. When I graduated college, I puttered around for the summer as an amateur handyman. Friends and family were willing to leave me with their homes to do all the DIY projects they didn’t have time to work on. In exchange for my clearance-rack rates, I got to teach myself a lot of basic home maintenance. Now, I’m pining to transform a fixer upper into something beautiful and grow my fix-it chick skills along the way. And afterward, I can enjoy the immediate gratification of a return on the investment. Am I strange?
Don’t take decorating too seriously! Creating your home should be fun, not stressful. An over-thought space shows; I’ve totally been there with my own house, and it really didn’t feel like home until I started following my own instincts and taste. (Chelsea) Life is too short for boxed pieces of art: if you’re a visual person, surround yourself with personal pieces on your walls. Don’t waste vertical space. If you’re short on square footage in your home, you can hang alternative storage on your walls or even suspend some pieces from the ceiling. I even have suitcases nailed to the walls of my living room for extra clutter-containment. (Cate)
Favorite design tips from StyleMutt
Don’t take decorating too seriously! Creating your home should be fun, not stressful. An over-thought space shows; I’ve totally been there with my own house, and it really didn’t feel like home until I started following my own instincts and taste. (Chelsea)
Life is too short for boxed pieces of art: if you’re a visual person, surround yourself with personal pieces on your walls. Don’t waste vertical space. If you’re short on square footage in your home, you can hang alternative storage on your walls or even suspend some pieces from the ceiling. I even have suitcases nailed to the walls of my living room for extra clutter-containment. (Cate)
What do you love about owning your own business?
Chelsea : This is a really fun business to be in! Rather than feel like we are in competition with others doing similar ventures, there’s this awesome sense of community which makes it just that much more fun. We have been so blessed by the relationships we’ve been able to make, not only with those with whom who we’ve done business, but other entrepreneurs as well! I’ve been an employee for other small businesses before, and have noticed the sweet relationships the owners would make with their customers. I really enjoy being on the owning side and forming those personal relationships ourselves.
Cate: Owning our own business allows our families to come first and if that means we don’t do 5 StyleMutt posts a week, then so be it. I can have obsessive tendencies and forget that sometimes. I also couldn’t be more grateful for my business partner-in-crime. Chelsea is so calming, in both personality and style. If I’m anxious about an idea, she’ll always talk it through with me. Her minimalistic tendencies balance out my habit of collecting. Her easy style encourages me be a better editor when staging my pieces. And her approach to her family and to the blog inspires me to be more gracious, loving, prioritized, hospitable, and humble.
PHOTO: c/o StyleMutt Home
What is something you have learned in the business that you didn’t expect?
Chelsea: I think running a creative business is unique in that you’re forced to go outside of your creative comfort zone to deal with real-life business logistics. I’m not a great organizer with paperwork and emails, but this just makes my partnership with Cate that much sweeter. She’s got both the gift of creativity and fantastic organizational skills!
Cate: As a human, I think it can be instinct to feel that all the other DIY blogs are the competition. But recently we have been so blessed by an encouraging community of bloggers on social media. Their support has so humble me and softened me. Frankly I’m embarrassed that I didn’t figure this out before. Networking is better for the soul than competing, my friends.
PHOTO: c/o StyleMutt Home
Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote for us?
Chelsea: “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” (Arthur Ashe). When social media makes it so easy to compare our home, phase of life and unique situations to what everyone else has and is doing, it’s more important than ever to embrace what makes each of us unique and what we do have within our reach.
Cate: “You’re a diamond, dear. They can’t break you.” I actually just found this quote on an art piece online. No idea who said it, but whenever I read it, I imagine a sassy-yet-sophisticated British woman (the Dowager Countess, maybe) saying it to me while she turns to her cup of tea. We want our StyleMutt readers to feel their value. Be proud of it. And let that confidence make them fierce.