It’s funny how a 180-degree career switch can pave the way for a dream realized. That’s how it all transpired for Mara Ferreira, blogger behind “M Loves M” (a Team GG favorite!). Mara actually got her start in the professional world as a studying lawyer, but after a few fateful changes, she found fulfillment in a more creative lifestyle. Today, this fashion-forward gal is reflecting on personal style, beauty and her latest design renovations—just wait until you see her head-turning home!
You’re coming up on the sixth anniversary of your lifestyle blog, “M Loves M”—congrats! Take us back to the beginning. Why did you start your blog, and how has it evolved since 2009?
Thank you so much! It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost six years since I started “M Loves M.” At that time, I was working full time for a law firm in Los Angeles, while studying for the LSAT. I had been very set on going into the legal profession and had even worked for the Attorney General’s Office while living in San Francisco. I always loved to write and I’ve had countless diaries over the years, but after graduating, I found it more difficult to find the time to write for myself. I thought that creating an online diary would be more easily accessible, especially when I was on my computer all day long.
I started “M Loves M” to document my life, the things I enjoyed doing and the food I was cooking—but it was also mainly about holding on to the long-distance relationship that Matthew and I were in at the time. I would write about packing to visit him, what we did on our trips (tennis lessons, anyone?) and little things, like visits to our favorite coffee shop. It helped me focus on our relationship so that the time passed a little more easily.
About four months after I started the blog, Matthew moved down to L.A., and my site started to include more personal style. Today, “M Loves M” still includes personal style and recipes, but I’ve started to include more beauty (I’ve become a big product junkie), home décor and entertaining (Matthew and I moved into a house last year), plus a little bit of travel for the times we can get away. It’s been so incredible to have readers who have followed me through some of the most special moments in my life: getting engaged to Matthew, getting married, adopting our dog Ginger and navigating a few big job changes. It’s exciting to think about the future and all that’s still to come!
What is it about the fashion and design world that inspires you so much? How did you find your niche within the industry?
Fashion has always been one of my greatest passions. I’ve been obsessed with the world of clothes, shoes, accessories and beauty for as long as I can remember. I never thought that I’d be able to do something with it professionally, but my blog has been a great way to incorporate all of my passions. I also started working in the fashion industry because of my blog. I started as a stylist and buyer, and now work in marketing for a women’s footwear company. I love being able to work in the industry because it enables me to see things from different perspectives.
Home design has been something I’ve loved looking at ever since I graduated from college. I pinned and pinned, until you’d think I could pin no more! I love the idea of being able to express your personal style through your home. My outfit style is typically very feminine and classic, and I can really see how that has translated within our home. Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out what works for both Matthew and myself, but I feel like we’ve been able to make it work—and I’m lucky that we both have a similar design aesthetic.
What was it like to work on your home with with Syd and Shea of Studio McGee?
Working with Studio McGee was amazing! When Matthew and I moved into our house, it was so overwhelming. I had all of these ideas (thank you, Pinterest!), but I didn’t know where to start. Designing a room entails a bit more pressure than designing an outfit does. You can change your outfit anytime, but you have to live with a room for a while!
Working with Shea was incredible, because I told her what I liked and she was able to condense everything and make it all work. It’s funny, but I actually found Syd and Shea through Instagram. I had been following them for a while, and every room they shared was better than the next.
Do you have any tips for homeowners who are looking to collaborate with a designer?
I’d definitely recommend getting a good feel for designers’ aesthetics before you decide to work with them. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable in their design capabilities. Also, be clear about what you don’t like. If you absolutely hate the color yellow, let them know! They might have a vision, but it’s your home—you’re the one who has to to live in it!
Do you have any secret Los Angeles spots for finding great art or furniture?
Honestly, estate sales are my favorite! I love looking them up and going super early on the weekends. I’ve found some amazing gems that would otherwise be so expensive or too difficult to find. There are also so many great online home stores, so I’m always looking at those for inspiration.
Can you recommend any unique home goods stores in your previous cities of residence?
I found some amazing home stores in the Bay Area: Urban Ore had great wood pieces and salvaged pieces, and Jeremys had beautiful linens and dishwares at amazing prices!
How do you unwind?
When I have downtime at home, I love going on walks in the neighborhood. It’s so nice to walk around with Ginger and get some fresh air. I also love peeking at our neighbors’ front yards to get ideas for plants and flowers that we can grow! Our next big project is getting our yards—front and back—ready for summer!
One of the rooms I love most in our house is our little reading nook. I was an English major and I’m still a huge bookworm, so I love to light a candle, curl up on one of the chairs with a blanket and read.
We know you love to bake—what’s your all-time favorite recipe?
Baking is another one of my favorite stress relievers. Having a baking day can cure almost anything for me! I have a lot of favorite recipes, like these Skillet Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies, but this Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting is definitely a standout. My brother always wants me to make it for his birthday! I’m definitely a big chocolate-and-peanut-butter girl, and this recipe for Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones is one of my most viewed posts! I also love making healthy vegetarian lunches and dinners—like this Roasted Eggplant and Bell Pepper Sandwich with Red Onion and Feta.
Can you paint us a picture of a typical day in your life?
Lately, I’ve been waking up a little later than I’d like. I try to be a morning person, but I’m just so much more productive at nighttime. Usually, I wake up around 7:30 or 8 a.m., have some coffee and cereal, read some of my morning emails and then head to work around 8:30 or 9 a.m. I work until about 5:30 or 6 p.m. and then go home and make dinner for Matthew. We eat dinner together, and then I’ll usually do work until midnight or 1 a.m. So late, right? Sometimes, if there’s an event, it’s later—but I try to get to bed as early as I can. I love the nights that I can multitask on the couch while watching a show with Matthew.
Has being a “puppy mama” affected the design of your home at all? What are your suggestions for mixing practical design with pets?
It has, in a way! Ginger doesn’t sit on the furniture, though, so she’ll usually hang out on the rug, or in her bed. I think a flat-weave rug is a better option than a shag rug—it’s easier to remove dog hair from a flat-weave rug. Ginger loves the shag rug in our bedroom; luckily, her hair matches the color of the rug!
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
When I started my blog, I felt immediately included in a community of women with similar passions and interests. It wasn’t until recent years that the pressure and competitive aspects of blogging became a little more prevalent (and oftentimes overwhelming). It can be so easy to compare yourself to others, but I’ve realized that it’s a deadly rabbit hole that won’t accomplish anything.
I try to practice beauty by being myself, first and foremost. I hope that this comes across in my posts, my writing and my photos. I try to smile and have fun because that’s what life is all about. Life is meant to be lived and cherished. While I love fashion and makeup, beauty comes from the inside, from your heart and your soul. ‘Do you,’ and you won’t have anything to worry about!
Your home features a beautiful balance of white with pops of color. What’s your favorite color, and how have you incorporated it into your design?
I realized when designing our house that I am obsessed with blues for interiors. I love the look of blues with whites and grays—and I’m a girly-girl, so a pop of pink here and there is always welcome! I was immediately drawn to a blue over-dyed rug from Lulu & Georgia; I wanted to pull colors from it for our feather artwork and printed batik pillows. I felt like this room needed a neutral couch to ground all the blue hues. And the white marble coffee table and Mongolian lambskin pillow add a romantic element.
We’re dying to know more about your wallpapered entryway! How did you decide on that pattern, and what is it like to walk through the front door each day?
I have actually been obsessed with this wallpaper since seeing it in a home feature on Glitter Guide a few years ago! I knew I always wanted wallpaper in our home, and I felt like this gray-and-white print would be easy to decorate with. The print is not overly feminine, which I think Matthew also appreciated! I absolutely love walking into our home and seeing the wallpaper. It’s a small detail that, after years of renting apartments, makes our house feel even more like our own.
Design-wise, do you consider your home “finished?”
Unfortunately, our house is still far from finished! We definitely have a few things to work on, like our kitchen and bathrooms. That’s part of the fun, though—we have time! Designing and decorating our house can sometimes feel overwhelming, and we definitely want everything to be done, but it’s a process—and one that I want to totally enjoy!