When I strolled through my blog last night, I landed on this Fab Friday interview from last summer. Belle Maison is one of my daily reads, and I remembered how much I enjoyed chatting with Julie. To celebrate Belle Maison’s 5 year anniversary next week (can’t wait to see the new blog layout!), I decided to re-share this post with you. Read on to get a glimpse into the life of this all-around talented woman:
Robin Baron: Welcome, Julie! You are a woman of many talents. How do you manage to juggle being an interior designer, a blogger, and a boutique owner?
Julie Thigpen: Let me tell you, it isn’t easy – long days and lots of hours! And I just had a baby 4 months ago (a little boy named Luke), which has really changed the way I work. I have to be super organized and focused to maintain all three parts of my business. That means making a to-do list every day and not stopping until everything is crossed off. Whatever I don’t get to, I’ll carry over to my list the next day. To stay current with what’s going on in the industry, I subscribe to every design magazine known to man, frequent design websites and blogs, and try to visit trade shows when I can. At the end of the day, I’d have to say it’s my drive and passion for design that keeps me pushing through as a business owner and blogger.
RB: How did you get started in interior design?
JT: I was completing my AA degree at Cal State Fullerton and after 2 years, I still hadn’t declared a major for my BA. I was totally lost and trying to figure out my career path when one day, a girlfriend showed me a flyer for a design certificate program at Interior Designers Institute (IDI) in Newport Beach. I’d always been super creative and had an obsession with making things over (people, rooms, etc). and decided to take a stab at it. I fell in love immediately and ended up continuing on at IDI, graduating 4 years later with a BA in Interior Design.
RB: What do you love most about it?
JT: There are so many things! I think the main thing I love is having the ability to completely transform someone’s home into a place they absolutely adore. I had a client tell me I changed her life by turning her dark and depressing home into a bright and happy place. It’s moments like those that make my job worth all of the blood, sweat and tears! Design is constantly evolving and the possibilities are endless on what you can do with a space. Every day, every project and every client is different, which keeps things exciting.
RB: Would you say that you have a distinct style in your design work?
JT: My design style has definitely evolved over the years. I used to design model homes, where everything was very “matchy-matchy.” I’d describe my style now as fresh and modern with touch of elegance and glamour. I’m a big believer in keeping things simple and uncomplicated. I love using color and bold patterns and am always encouraging my clients and blog readers to take risks.
RB: What came first, Belle Maison or Modern Chic Home? How are they connected?
JT: My blog, Belle Maison, came first. I started blogging 4 ½ years ago as a way to catalog all of the fabulous things I was constantly discovering in the world of design. As time went on, it became a way for me to share my design knowledge and expertise with my readers, and to encourage them to make the most of their homes and personal spaces. Modern Chic Home came later on, which was inspired by all of the amazing product I was seeing at design trade shows but not in stores. Having the blog first created a great platform for me when launching my online store and has continued to be my number one referral for traffic. I can keep my readers up-to-date on what’s new in my shop, promotions, and more.
RB: Where do you get inspiration for Belle Maison?
JT: Everywhere! Design magazines, other blogs, books, travel, etc. I don’t really have a method to the way I blog – my goal is pretty much to find beautiful images and resources paired with valuable content to pass along to my loyal readers.
RB: What kinds of doors has blogging opened up for you?
JT: When I started my little blog, I had no idea what amazing opportunities would come my way! A few highlights include: being flown to New York twice last year to attend a special blogger event hosted by Nate Berkus and Lowes, as well as an exclusive product preview for Bose; featured in Adore Home Magazine last year and again this October; featured on One Kings Lane as a Blogger Taste Maker last February; was asked to be a sponsor and special guest at the upcoming Design Camp in Austin, Texas hosted by Lori Dennis and Kelli Ellis, which will be in October. I also receive advanced copies of design books from various publishers to review and share with my readers, which is always fun! The best part of all is connecting with amazing people across the globe on a daily basis.
RB: Where do you find all of your fabulous Modern Chic Home products?
JT: I try to attend trade shows such as the LA Mart Home & Gift Market, Las Vegas Market and the NY Gift Show, when possible. I also source new products online and through catalogs, but nothing beats seeing amazing new product in person to inspire me to add fresh items to my online store.
RB: How would you describe your own home décor?
JT: Modern eclectic…but not exactly by choice! My husband and I have had our share of struggles over the last few years with the terrible economy and I’ve really had to refrain from making too many purchases for our apartment. As a result, we have an eclectic mix of furniture and accents that have been accumulated randomly over the years. Also, being in my line of work means an ever evolving design style…what I loved 5 minutes ago may not be something I’m into now (okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get what I’m saying)! I get tired of things in my own home easily and constantly want to change things up. I did just order a fabulous gray and white chevron rug for our living room and am on the lookout for new pillows and art work. I want my home to be comfortable, inviting and stylish. I when people visit, I want them to feel like they can sit on the sofa and relax.
RB: What does fabulous mean to you?
JT: Fabulous is a word I use often. To me, it describes something that’s amazing, top-notch, alluring or just down-right beautiful. Fabulous can be something you feel or it can be something tangible.