Lexi Nielsen joins OakPark.com as the new design blogger, bringing her experience as an interior decorator living in Oak Park. Her projects range from simple color consultations to gut rehabs. We sit down with Lexi for a Q&A and find out how she hopes to use her blog to demystify the creative process behind interior design and choosing the "right" colors. You can read Lexi's design blog at OakPark.com/Design.
What are two of your favorite places/activities in Oak Park and River Forest?
I absolutely love the Oak Park Conservatory. I get a lot of design inspiration from the colors and textures within its walls. It's also one of my favorite places to retreat to when I need some time to mull over design ideas. From the moment I walk through the doors I feel like I stepped into a haven of peace.
Another favorite activity of mine is the Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour. I never get tired of taking family or friends from out of town on the walk. I always learn something new every time I go, even though I've been on it a dozen times. The symmetry of his homes, the gift he had for blending man made elements and nature, and the way he solved design challenges will never cease to inspire me.
What inspired you to become a design blogger on OakPark.com?
Blogging allows me to combine two loves of mine: design and writing. I am so fascinated by the things I discover every day while working and I wanted to share them. I also enjoy promoting the great people and places that I come across in my job. I feel that it's an important part of community: sharing resources so that we all benefit for the greater good.
Tell us about one of your most memorable design projects. What were some of the challenges and successes of that project?
I am completing a gut rehab in Forest Park that really made me reach outside my comfort zone. The homeowner challenged me to not spend retail for anything if I could avoid it. So I had to eschew my normal shopping channels and discover a new world of resources. Demolition sales. Hotel furniture sales. I spent a lot of time trolling garage sales and the Restore for specific items. Once I found the piece I needed I then had to find someone willing to restore it within budget! I feel like this project really helped me develop my abilities as a good designer because I couldn't just pick the first pretty thing I saw and call it a day.
What are two major trends you see emerging in the design industry today? How have these trends impacted homes and businesses in Oak Park and River Forest?
An obvious trend is eco design. Making a conscious decision to buy products from companies that not only use recycled or reclaimed materials but that also give back to their communities through job growth and supporting local families is a positive trend that I think will only continue to grow. Plus so much of the eco friendly design out there today is so interesting and beautiful. I love seeing new ways designers come up with ways to repurpose everyday items: creating chairs out of plastic bottles, turning old metal colanders into light fixtures, etc. I am seeing more businesses open up in Oak Park and River Forest that are making it easier to buy sustainable design products and that is great thing for all of us.
Another trend I have been seeing in my work here in Oak Park and River Forest is a return to layered beauty. With the rise in popularity with CB2, West Elm, Ikea, came sleek design, modular furniture as space savers, bins and bookcases to hide clutter, etc. Containing clutter still has its place, but people are loosening up a bit, allowing more items to be displayed, bringing beautiful eclectic collections back out, spending money on elegant window treatments, pieces that make statements, textures and layers. It's about invoking a sense of beauty and warmth in one's home, creating a place to invite & enjoy friends and neighbors. I like going into a home and seeing that in every corner there is something interesting to look at, whether it is several books stacked up top of each other on an end table, mismatched frames with photos of loved ones, little pieces of art collected on trips that have been decorated throughout the shelves of a bookcase, chandeliers instead of recessed lighting.
What is a common misconception you have encountered regarding interior design in Oak Park and River Forest? How do you plan to address this in your blog?
That choosing the "right" color is a mystery to all but a chosen few. Not true! Even designers have to do some trial and error. There are many different colors that would work well in a home. It's just about finding the ones that help evoke the mood that you want. I do hope that I can help to demystify color a bit and perhaps encourage people to try colors that they wouldn't have otherwise thought to try.
To learn more about Lexi's services, visit alexisnielseninteriors.com.