When we had been in our Rochester home for about 18 months and decided we would stay for at least a long time, we wanted to make a house that was "us" and felt a little more adult -- namely, getting rid of our inherited floral couches and coming up with storage for the plethora of kids' toys. We wanted a place where people would enter the door and say "OH, this is SO Wendy and Scott."
At first, I thought me and my Pinterest boards could make some magic happen. It didn't take long, though, to realize that between the fear of #pinterestfail moments and busy mom-photographer life taking over, I needed help.
I met Ashley through our local Tuesdays Together group (a branch of The Rising Tide Society where area creatives and entrepreneurs can meet to discuss business topics with people who "get" it) and loved her The Pin Diva business -- the slogan of "Bringing Your Pinterest Boards to Life" spoke to me!
I invited Ashley to our home for a consult and knew she was perfect for our project when she said not to clean things up before she arrived and to leave the rooms in their natural state, even if that meant piles of toys and messes here and there. She wanted to see what was and wasn't working for the space and she carried her notes from that first meeting through to the last item being placed on a shelf.
I love the final product! It far surpassed my vision for a space that was practical, full of great storage opportunities, "pretty" and comfy. There are so many little touches that make me feel surrounded by family, friends, memories and comfort. Ashley incorporated the tiniest of details that mean the most: my late mom's handwritten recipe card has a home on our coffee bar shelf; wedding photos of my grandparents have a spot on our shelves in the dining room; pillows with a camera lens to honor my photography and lyrics to the song I sing my son keep us cozy on our couch. Ashley even encouraged me to place more photos that have me in them around our home -- something I probably would not have done without her vision.
I wanted to know more about Ashley's story and her perspective on the project, so I asked her a few questions:
How did The Pin Diva begin? How did you discover this passion?
My background is in event planning. I actually received the "Most Likely to be Planning Something" paper plate award in high school (no joke-- I still have it). I went from working 60-hour weeks at a five star resort running between conventions during the day and weddings at night. Now I'm a stay-at-home Mama with a thriving business that lets me be my own boss-- and best of all -- lets me use all this creative energy buzzing around in my brain!
When the Pinterest craze first began, I actually got annoyed when people would see my projects and ask "Did you see that on Pinterest?" because I wanted credit for my own ideas! I still say "I was Pinterest-y before Pinterest!" It's in my blood. But what comes natural to me doesn't come natural to everyone. So many people are intimidated by Pinterest because they feel overwhelmed at the idea of Pinterest fails (let's face it, we've all seen the pinterest-fail memes). Or perhaps they don't have the time, the energy, the vision or the know how to see the picture-perfect projects and bring them into their own space and reality. That's where this idea was born. I am The Pin Diva: Bringing Your Pinterest Boards to Life.
How do you approach a new project? What's your process?
My first step with any client is to do a consultation with my client. I have two primary goals: 1) figure out the client's own personal style and preferences. I've found most people don't know what genre their personal style fits into -- and often it's a mix. Rustic/Industrial, Modern/Farmhouse, French Provencial/Shabby Chic. I'll also ask clients to send me pins/Pinterest boards to help give me an idea of what they like.
2) The other purpose of the consultation is to see the function and look of the room in person. I'm a very visual person, so seeing the space and walking the dimensions is vital to my process.
From there I go home and write up a proposal. I put a proposal together that includes a general sketch of the space, the suggested color pallets and an itemized list detailing each part of the project's cost. I do this because I offer two packages or each room renovation: The Diva Makeover - where the client can pay me to come and refinish the room from beginning to end... From painting walls, wiring light fixtures, refinishing the fireplace and decorating it all... My team and I come in and complete the job from start to finish (*think of those HGTV shows where the people come home to a totally new space: THAT's the fun part!)! The Diva Coach - where the client can pick and choose items off the project cost list for them to do and for me to do. This is a great way for the client on a budget or the DIY-er who just needs a little guidance! They may want to paint those walls and have me build a shelf or refinish a piece of furniture! After that, we pick our time table and the fun begins!
What were the biggest challenges or surprises with the Zook project?
For this project, I learned that my clients (the amazing Zook family) had a contemporary/farmhouse mix of stylistic preferences. My personal preference leans to farmhouse, so that's an easy style for me to implement. This was the first project where I got to implement contemporary pieces which was a fun challenge!
I loved that this family wasn't afraid of color and had a solid grasp of what they needed out of the space. They were open to new ideas and trusted my judgement. Honestly-- Zook family, you were a dream to work with! The only challenge was learning how to combine two very different personal preferences of husband and wife. While Wendy loves color and leans a bit more to the farmhouse/rustic style and Scott leans closer to that contemporary/modern side. By having the white shelves, and clean lines, we were able to bring in his modern. The bold patterns, colors and sweet rustic accents allowed for a beautiful balance of both views. It was a sweet challenge I loved because as much as I wanted you both to love the space -- I also wanted the space to reflect the two of you, your family and your life together.
Was there an element of the rooms/project that you worked around or highlighted to create the overall look?
When first seeing the space, I could tell they knew what they needed for the open layout. The main points in the living room (seating, television and lighting) were all planned out in their heads, so I didn't have to change a thing there. The same went for the dining room. The primary need was in finding ways to bring their preferences to life and tie it all together.
When I go into a space, I never expect a blank canvas. And honestly, I think that's one of the favorite parts of my job. The rooms are lived in. There are kids shoes in the corner, food on the table, throw pillows on the floor and probably some batteries/change in the couch cushions. And that is perfect! Because that is a room that is lived in and loved on. That's a room where memories are built. If I do my job right, it's a room that will still let life be lived to the fullest, as I'm not one to create museum spaces. But it's a room that at the end of the day, the client can sit down, look around and smile because it belongs to them. It reflects them. It makes their heart happy. If I can make that happen, I've done my job well. And isn't that just the best thing in the world???
What is your favorite part of the final project?
One of the best and worst parts of a job is when it's done. It the best feeling to walk away knowing that my clients are just giddy with excitement. I love that! But I always feel a little sad when a project is over.
For this project, I love how the coffee bar turned out. I love that we could incorporate sweet family memories like the family cookbooks and handwritten recipe card. I love that it's so completely functional while being so adorable and sweet. I think my favorite part of the coffee bar though is the tea serving tray so that when they entertain, it's simple to pull down a beautiful rustic chic tray with everything laid out just so -- perfect for coffee with a friend or a tea party for little girls.
For the living room, my favorite part was the entertainment unit. I LOVE that they trusted me to refinish it a bright teal. Not only that, but to make it bigger AND teal. The red, white, yellow and wooden accents were fun to paint, create and find. It felt like putting together a lovely art piece that would feature family photos for years to come, hobby interest books that would change over the years, and sweet little trinkets that would tie it all together as the family grew and changed.
All in all, I loved working with you and your amazing family! My favorite parts were getting to know you and Addie "hair pets" and Zach hugs! Thank you for letting me into your home and letting me work in your space. It was a pleasure and an honor.
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