Mallory Fitzsimmons & Her Home
Polished brass fixtures, velvety-soft tufted seating, pastel floral wallpaper—to us, all of this sounds like the stuff of our dreams (or at least like photos from our favorite shelter magazine), but for Mallory Fitzsimmons, it's home. As the founder of the lifestyle and design blog, Style Your Senses, Mallory is kept busy on a daily basis keeping up with writing, posting, juggling her entrepreneurial marketing role and staying on top of other business to-dos. Yet, Mallory isn't just a savvy businesswoman—she's a wife, mother and pro homemaker, too!
But let's first rewind the clock to really see how far Mallory has come since the start of her blogging journey. It was just as she and her husband were planning a major move from Texas to North Carolina that the pair discovered that they were about to embark on another major life change—they were expecting their first baby. So they rushed to their would-be home in Charlotte, N.C., and Mallory immediately started the nesting process.
More than three years later, that new house has transformed into a breathtaking home for this family of three. Below, Mallory welcomes us into her stunning abode, one room at a time, and explains how she has learned to balance her professional and personal roles to create the life she's always dreamed of.
First things first! Tell us about Style Your Senses. When did you start your blog, and how has it grown from the beginning?
Style Your Senses started as “Charming in Charlotte,” and it was for the sole purpose of journaling our current state of life. Three and a half years ago, I found out that I was pregnant on the very day that my husband got a job offer in Charlotte. I subsequently decided to leave my career behind to stay at home with our daughter—who would soon be born—and we packed up and moved from Dallas to Charlotte. Needless to say, there was a lot going on, so I truly started the blog as a way to write everything down and also as a way for friends and family to keep up.
Once we settled into a home in Charlotte, I knew that I had a lot of creative energy that I needed to channel. So, I began investing that creative spirit into the blog, slowly working on DIY projects and decorating our new home and really not knowing how anyone would respond (mind you, my mom was the only one reading at this point, anyway). Through this process, I found so much joy in being able to be creative and also having my own little piece of cyberspace.
About a year and a half into it, I knew that there was a major piece of me missing from the blog, and that was sharing fashion. Fashion has been a huge part of my life, but, to be quite honest, the thought of sharing a “selfie” on the blog gave me hives from head to toe. Finally, I decided to put myself out there and leap out of my comfort zone, sharing outfits, fashion inspiration and the dreading #OOTD selfie. I’ve never looked back and actually feel that the blog is now a full representation of myself and all of my creative energies: fashion, home décor, DIY and a little bit of my life at home. I am so fulfilled by this little piece of the web, and wake up every day eager to work!
How did you manage to translate your educational training in textiles, apparel and merchandising (with a minor in business, too) into a blog?
That’s a great question, and the answer is actually quite surprising. When in the corporate world, I spent most of my time working on a buying team at the corporate headquarters for a big-box retailer. The corporate side of the fashion industry is a crazy mix of being very analytical and also learning how to relate to your target market. These skills also happen to be perfect for writing this blog, because I am able to look at things from an analytical perspective and understand what content people like and what they don’t like and apply those findings to how I present future posts. In the end, the two are so similar. It’s all about connecting with your audience and using your voice, creativity and content to create a brand that people can relate to.
Through this process, I found so much joy in being able to be creative and also having my own little piece of cyberspace.
How would you describe your personal style?
Ever-changing. My personal style is a total reflection of my mood, and I don’t fall into any one category, that’s for sure! My closet ranges from "southern preppy" to "boho chic" and everything in between. Some days, I opt for an outfit full of staple pieces, and other days, I really like to mix it up and create something different. Regardless, I think that your clothing should always play up your strengths, be well-fitted and always make you feel confident. A good outfit is a powerful thing in my book of life!
How has being a mom changed the way you decorate your home?
It hasn’t. Is that bad? Of course, I don’t have a rigid glass coffee table and there are a few baby locks in place, but overall, I try to think of our little family as a whole when choosing things for our home. I try to create a space that we can all be happy and comfortable in.
What elements were most important to you when you were looking for a home?
Well, we should talk about this. Remember how I said that I moved across the country, big and pregnant? By the time we found a home that met more than 50 percent of our checklist, I was ready to sign the dotted line and go into full-blown nesting mode—and so we signed. I still really like our little house and it actually works quite well for what we need at the present moment, but there are so many tweaks that I would make and have a running list of must-haves for our next home. On my list for next time: walk-in closets in the master bedroom and other functional storage solutions throughout, a kitchen island for prep work with built-in bar seating, a functional laundry room and a yard. If I’m really dreaming, I would have two dishwashers!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since launching your blog?
Because my blog is my business, I’ve had to learn to respect my time and that means saying “no” more often. I’ve also learned that my fellow bloggers are my biggest and best resource! I wish I could say I learned how to write code.
Top guilty pleasures: Go!
Oh boy! "Sex and the City" reruns, celeb gossip magazines, Sour Patch Watermelon candies and Diet Coke—preferably all at the same time.
What were your goals when designing and decorating your home?
My end goal is to create comfortable spaces that are a reflection of our family, and are also warm and inviting for us to entertain guests.
What is your favorite thing to share on Instagram?
Everything—I love Instagram! I try to keep my feed pretty “real time” based on what’s going on in our lives or what I’m chatting about on the blog, so it’s really fun! I love the conversational piece of it and have made some really cool “Insta-friends” (aka people I think that I know in real life).
Of course, I don’t have a rigid glass coffee table and there are a few baby locks in place, but overall, I try to think of our little family as a whole when choosing things for our home. I try to create a space that we can all be happy and comfortable in.
What would be your ideal food day?
This is by far the hardest question. I’m such a foodie and there are so many combinations that could lead to an ideal food day, but I’ll go with this one: chocolate chip pancakes and good coffee for breakfast; tacos, guacamole and a margarita on the patio for lunch; and good sushi and sake for dinner. On a regular food day, it looks more like a smoothie for breakfast, hearty salad for lunch and a Whole30 meal for dinner.
What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?
During the summer, it’s a long evening run, and during the winter I love a glass of good Cabernet—go figure!
Can you offer one piece of advice to new moms decorating a nursery?
My one piece of advice would be to not wait until you’re about to deliver to start thinking décor. Plan ahead, and even if you don’t know the gender, create a comfortable, calming and relaxing space for you and the baby because you will be spending lots of time in there.
How do you balance running a successful blog with being a mom?
Finding the balance took a while. Blogging is amazing because I can work from anywhere, and that usually means work from home, which is also where I’m working as a mom. The lines initially were really blurry—the laundry would pile up, the baby would cry and that was so stressful for me. I finally had to step back and really segment my day. My daughter goes to a wonderful Mother’s Day Out program three days a week, so I spend that time working on the blog. When she’s home with me the other two days, I unplug and enjoy being her mommy. Of course, there are nap time work sessions and a few late nights here and there, but I have finally reached a point where I feel like I’m balancing the two and feel so fulfilled in both roles.
Describe your favorite go-to outfit.
For the winter, it’s a great pair of slimming black tights, an oversized poncho, a wedge boot and a big felt hat. For the summer, it’s distressed boyfriend shorts, a flowy white linen shirt and lace-up sandals.
Which room in your home proved to be the most difficult? What was the biggest challenge in designing this space, and how did you overcome it?
Our media room! You won’t see it on the tour today, because it’s being re-worked as we speak! It’s a huge room in our home over the garage, and because we don’t need a 400-square-foot room devoted to "media," I’m currently re-working it to be a shared playroom and office space—a room that’s glam, yet cozy and fun and one where my office and her toys can live together. Does that even exist? We shall find out!