What inspired you to open Lou Lou’s Decor?
I have an entrepreneurial background, with both of my parents owning their own successful businesses. My great aunt owned a high-end women’s fur and dress shop in Kansas City. My mom used to tell me stories about being amongst all of these beautiful, fancy clothes and furs and as a little girl it sounded quite glamorous. However, most people in retail will be quick to tell you that the glamour is pretty fleeting. I did see firsthand through my parents the challenges, hard work, sacrifices and risks that come with opening your own business as well as the satisfaction and gratification that result from all the hard work you pour into your venture.
What is your background in architecture, and how did that influence you to open your own boutique home and furnishings store?
While living in San Francisco, I worked for an architectural firm on the marketing and sales side. I learned valuable tools that helped launch Lou Lou’s. It also helped me see and understand the intricacies involved in the building process.
How did moving to Rhode Island from the West Coast prompt you into the field of interior design?
My husband Brett and I married in Carmel, California in June of 1998. He really wanted to move back east to Little Compton where he had a home. I always wanted to own a retail store so we decided to take another plunge together and opened Lou Lou’s in August of 1998, just two months after marrying and moving from the West to the East Coast. Within months customers were asking for interior design services. Now 14 years later, interior decorating and design is the primary focus of our business.
Do you lean more towards a West Coast aesthetic, or an East Coast one?
I think my design style has evolved intoa mélange of the two styles. The West coast style leans towards a more casual aesthetic with slightly more over scaled pieces. The East Coast style tends to be a bit more elegant and refined. Combining these two gives you an interior that is inviting and warm, with refined touches that bring out a more sophisticated and dynamic overall feel. Think of pairing a beautiful linen sofa in a room with gorgeous contemporary damask wallpaper.
What house ware items do you recommend investing in, versus those that should continuously be switched up?
I recommend investing in the items you find yourself using the most often and that you really need to be comfortable. Typically this is our sofas, beds and dining chairs. There is nothing worse than a great deal on a sofa that you don’t find comfortable.
I also feel that if you find an item that you simply love and you keep coming back to, it usually is worth the splurge. A lot of times you will try to find substitutions that aren’t quite right, and you’d be better offbiting the bullet and getting that win- dow treatment fabric that you fell in love with, or, that chandelier that you just know will be perfect in your dining room.
Let’s talk about holiday decor. How do you achieve an elegant design aesthetic while still being festive?
I think with a few simple tips, an elegant holiday decor is easy to achieve. Try to keep one color theme within each room. Don’t mix your elegant silver and blue hues with your bright reds and greens. Weed out your tired and worn decorations. Each year pick a few decorations to retire and treat yourself to a new ornament, a wreath, or mantle decorations to give your holiday decorating the crispness it needs. Bring the outside in. The smell of fresh cut greens, the simplicity of paper whites, the beauty of magnolia leaf garland will all bring a freshness to your holiday decorating.