In my line of work you cross paths with so many talented people – editors, stylists, photographers, PR professionals – it’s out-of-this-world inspiring. Since they’re often kind enough to interview (or photograph, or work with) me I wanted to have a space to turn the tables on them. To see what makes them tick, what stories their homes are telling, and more.
So allow me to introduce Sophie Donelson, the Editor in Chief of House Beautiful. I’ve been a fan of HB for a long time and in the year since she took the reins it’s continued in its tradition of excellence. There are knock-out projects, a warm and witty voice, and of course, everything you ever wanted and needed to know about color. But you could probably figure that part out based on the covers below – and Sophie’s outfit! Sophie’s sense of style (and humor) make her one of the brightest in the business. Read on for her charming take on my questions – and then make sure to check out House Beautiful‘s February issue, on newsstands now, as well as their site and Instagram.
When it comes to decorating “rules”: Is there such a thing and if so, is there one you constantly break?
There are absolutely guidelines that, when followed, lead to decorating success. Let’s think of them as “best practices”. Scale is certainly one of them. I’d only trust an accomplished professional designer to toy with that since most of us don’t have a great understanding of it – let alone the comfort level it takes to break those rules! As per mixing patterns or pairing unconventional colors – go for it, we don’t really consider that rule-breaking anymore.
What is the most unexpected thing in your home?
The bed skirt in our master bedroom. I’m still getting used to it myself! I used to think of a ruffled or gathered bed skirt as ultra-feminine and not right for my personal style, but it really softens the room and makes it feels finished and inviting – just as my designer said it would. Plus, the bedroom is a wonderful place to err on the side of romance.
What does your dream house look like and where would it be?
I want a Falun red shack in the Swedish archipelago, an enormous Classic Seven on Riverside Drive, a Spanish bungalow in Venice, a spare ryokan… I fall in love with a new house every week – every day, working on House Beautiful! But as a New Englander I’ll always think of a quintessential “summer house” – an early 20th-century seaside cottage – as the be-all-end-all. And by cottage I mean a stately 4-bedroom home with a guest house, an outdoor shower, shingles, creaky old wood floors, gracious moldings with years of paint, questionable wallpaper, an attic with decades of board games, and, of course, the impossible-to-replicate scent of sea salt, wood, and whatever else makes up that distinct summer house smell. The look is not enough – every home needs complementary scents and sounds.
What’s your signature touch in your home or your personal style?
Tchotchkes and doodads. I have a zillion odd objects, small pieces of art, little sculptures, and things collected, inherited, found, and received. I try to relegate them to a few tableaus and shrines throughout the house but my 3 year old has a passion for “re-merchandising” them. Also sea glass, smooth stones, shells – I’ve never returned from the beach empty-handed.
What color/pattern/texture/style are you currently obsessed with?
For fabric and wallpaper, everything Pierre Frey touches these days is pure magic. From the Guatemalan-inspired beaded ones to the forthcoming collection of embroidered cactus prints – it’s all spot-on-trend. And I just saw a preview of Art Deco-inspired wallpaper from Zoffany in my favorite peachy, rose-quartzy colorway that’s just gorgeous. And I’m currently at Maison & Objet in Paris where I’ll get a heavy-duty dose of inspo. I can’t wait!
Photographs of Sophie’s home and neighborhood courtesy of her must-follow Instagram.