Vanessa Matsalla & Her Studio
Since the beginning of her career, Vanessa Matsalla knew she wanted to be her own boss. So, it wasn't long before her free-spirited and independent nature offered her the motivation necessary to take the leap and create her own interior design firm and shop, Studio Matsalla.
Vanessa's tendency to march to the beat of her own drum hasn't faded since starting her business, and it's easy to see it reflected in her design style. Textured textiles, bright colors and plenty of boho details abound at her studio, creating an airy, eclectic look that we can't get enough of.
While function is important to her, Vanessa has certainly learned the value of an inspiring space after years of working in the design world. Read on to find out what Vanessa had to say about business, design trends and her own personal advice for industry newbies.
Tell us about your interior design firm and showroom, Studio Matsalla. When did you first realize that starting a business was the right path for you?
I realized pretty early in my career that I wanted to be my own boss. There was always something alluring to me about going into work when I wanted and not being dictated by someone else’s schedule. That feeling became stronger as I got older, so I took the leap a few years ago and haven’t looked back.
Studio Matsalla is my full-service boutique interior design firm based in Carlsbad, Calif. We love to design spaces that are funky, eclectic and modern with a bohemian-chic flair. We expanded our brand earlier this year with a charming little storefront where we sell vintage rugs, textiles and pillows. Each piece is sourced from all over the world, has a story and a meaning and soul behind it.
Which design trend do you love most? Which do you wish would fade out?
I love the vintage rug affair everyone is having all over their homes. Between the flat weave Turkish and Persian carpets, all the way to the shaggy Moroccan rugs, I love seeing people bring pieces into their homes that have a story and background—not just something they’ve pulled brand new off the shelf. On the other hand, I’m tired of seeing new pieces distressed to look old. They never feel authentic or have the right vibe. I’d like to see that faux-trend exit stage left.
What has been your favorite project to-date?
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work with a darling client of mine in Los Angeles, who had a style and taste similar to my own. We gutted and remodeled her entire condo. She wanted funky tiles and a chic décor, with an eclectically sophisticated aesthetic. It was a ton of fun and a very rewarding feeling once we had it photographed and featured in domino magazine for the first time.
How did you go about designing your office space?
I knew exactly what I wanted before I signed the lease for my design studio and showroom. I was creating mood boards in my pajamas for months before the space came to life. I feel like I manifested it. I wanted a bright, happy and airy space that gave off a positive vibe. To me, that translated to light wood plank flooring, a huge jute rug, white glossy desks and pops of color everywhere in the form of pillows, textiles and funky rugs. Having a functional space is good and necessary, but there's something to be said for being in a space you find beautiful and inspiring.
Any tips for those of us struggling to design a functional office space of our own?
Start with your gut sense of style. Create a Pinterest board collecting only spaces and ideas that pull immediately at your heartstrings. Make a list of your needs for your office space, whether it’s shelving, file systems or furniture. Use Pinterest as your resource for ideas to fuse the two together. You’ll want to space-plan your room right away. Use a piece of graph paper and draw an outline of your room; each block equating to one foot. You can even measure and draw your furniture to create little paper doll furniture pieces. Move them around your space plan and see how things will fit, because everything will be to scale!
Work for someone who is great at what they do and absorb everything you can when you’re around them. Leave your ego at the door—it will only hold you back from growing into the greatness that you are!
What is your favorite paint color?
I’ve been using Valspar Woodlawn Bedroom White a ton lately. We even painted all the walls in our house this color. It’s a beautiful white that has the perfect hint of gray. It’s clean, fresh and soft all at the same time.
Tell us—what programs, apps and devices help you efficiently manage your business?
I’ve tried all sorts of apps and programs to keep all the moving pieces of my business organized and on track over the years. After all the attempts and trials with fancy software, I’ve found that my Google Calendar and Google Spreadsheets keep us the most organized in-house. Everything is in one place and we can all share documents efficiently and easily with each other. It’s been a life-saver. I also live and die by Quickbooks. I love running reports and geeking out over all the details every month to project and analyze where we’re at and what we need to change.
Any parting words or pieces of advice for newbies looking to make it in the interior design world?
Work for someone who is great at what they do and absorb everything you can when you’re around them. Leave your ego at the door—it will only hold you back from growing into the greatness that you are! I had the opportunity to work for an incredibly talented designer for many years. I started at the bottom, tracking deliveries and purchasing furniture for the firm’s clients. I worked my way up over the years and the experience was invaluable to my career. Not only did I learn how a firm operates from the ground up, but it also gave me the confidence to start my own business and succeed because I had a solid foundation.