Annabel Joy of boutique eDesign service, Trim Design Co., designs spaces for a living, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy designing her own space. Because her and her husband prefer different design styles, she’s no stranger to compromise and designing a space that perfectly combines both styles with a result that is not only beautiful, but satisfying to everyone. In this home tour, Annabel offers advice on adding color and patterns to a mostly minimal and neutral space (wait until you see her bathroom), and reveals her favorite room in her home and the one she enjoyed designing the most. There’s so much good advice (and beautiful images) in this home tour, and we’re sure you’re going to love this space as much as we do. Step inside and enjoy!
How would you describe your home’s style?
I describe my style as “organic eclectic modern.” Organic because I like bright neutral spaces accented with earth tones, natural materials and textures, and of course, plants. Eclectic because of my passion for incorporating vintage pieces collected from around the globe, especially rugs and textiles. Modern because when it comes to furniture and art, I like clean lines always. I hate anything cluttered! Too often, the term ‘eclectic’ gets slapped on any space that’s cluttered and that drives me nuts.
Your bathroom is so cute! It’s like going into a whole new space. How do you recommend others incorporate pops of colors in rooms?
It’s funny that you mention that it’s like going into a whole new space. Generally, I try to keep a home’s design cohesive throughout to maintain a nice flow from room to room. However, when I’m working with couples where one partner has a higher comfort level with bold colors or patterns or a particular style, I often recommend a bathroom or a guest room as a great place to play up the drama without making the other partner feel like their primary living space is being taken over. In my case, I love fun wallpaper and bold contemporary accents, like graphic art and organic sculpture, while my husband is more of a Scandinavian farmhouse-meets-rustic-industrial kind of guy. Thankfully, he was totally game to let me go hog wild with the bathrooms walls. To be clear, polka dot walls are not something I would use in a larger space anyway—it would be visual overload. So, I think bathrooms, being smaller, are a great place to have fun with bold colors and patterns. Other places that work well as bold color pops (paint or wallpaper) are doors, ceilings and stairs. In terms of décor, rugs, wall art and pillows are also effective and easy ways to add color to a space.
What’s been the hardest part about decorating your home?
Being a designer, I see so many great options and ideas on a daily basis and it’s tempting to use my home as a laboratory for experimenting, which of course, to some extent I do. However, I also want it to feel like an oasis, so I have to exercise some restraint. And marrying my style preferences with my husband’s was a challenge initially, but I love the result, and that experience has helped me better serve my clients and made me a more resourceful and creative designer.
What’s been the most fun part about decorating your home?
I think the kitchen design was the most fun because we got to start from scratch and choose every detail ourselves. When you already own some pieces that you don’t love, but they are totally OK, it can be hard to justify replacing them. Sometimes you end up not doing everything you really wanted to do in a space because you’re trying to work with what you already have. When we bought our place, the kitchen was a wreck that wasn’t up to code and hadn’t been touched in decades. We knew everything had to go (except the washer/dryer which, is a behemoth but a total workhorse so we left it), so it was really freeing to be able to take the design in any direction we wanted.
Which room is your favorite and why?
That’s an impossible choice, but now that I work from home, I’d probably say the living room is my favorite. I recently added a lucite console with two chairs behind the sofa, so now I have a place to work during the day and we use it to eat at night since we don’t have a dining room. It also has a working fireplace, and that’s a huge bonus during long New England winters!
Is there a piece of furniture or décor that you absolutely love? What’s the story behind it?
It’s a three-way tie! Is that allowed? 1) We have an oil painting by my husband in our living room of the spot in Maine where his sister got married. We also got married in Maine, so it’s a special place for us and I love the fact that he painted it. 2) The woven wall hanging in the guest room is the first one I ever made, back during my teaching days, so it has a lot of sentimental value. 3) My vintage brass! A Moroccan tray and two enormous candlesticks from Thailand. Both were passed down to me from my grandparents, who traveled all over the world with the U.S. Air Force. The tray is on my mantel now, and I used a kit from the hardware store to turn one of the candlesticks into a floor lamp.
We love all of your plants! How do you keep them looking so fresh all of the time?
I love all my plants and I wish I could take credit for them, but the truth is they would all be dead if I was left to my own devices. My husband is the green thumb—he does all the watering and many weekends he’s in the tub transplanting them into bigger pots or pruning them back or mixing nutrients into the soil.
Tell us a little bit about your career path!
It’s been a winding road, but to be honest, the more small business owners and entrepreneurs I meet, the more I realize that having a nontraditional background is totally the norm! And I actually think my experience as a teacher has made me a better, more holistic designer. Long story short, art and design were always a passion, but only recently did I have the light bulb moment that I could do it for my actual job. I majored in gender studies for undergrad, thinking maybe I’d pursue a career in academia or public policy. An advisor suggested I consider teaching since I had a literature minor, so after graduation, I moved to Boston for grad school and got my teaching license. I spent six years teaching English and special education at a public high school, and I loved my students and coworkers, but I was becoming emotionally drained and I spent all my free time designing our apartment and those of friends and family. Then, a year ago at a launch party for a design startup, I met a full-service interior designer who, to my shock, ended up offering me a job. I took it and jumped into the design world feet first. It was there that I met my future co-founder, Jen Dulac, who is also a former English teacher!
Jen and I became intrigued by eDesign because the busy lives of the firm’s clients made scheduling in-person meetings challenging. The flexibility to collaborate online seemed like it would enhance the client’s experience, but no existing eDesign platforms seemed set up for this type of relationship building. So we hatched the idea for Trim Design Co., a boutique eDesign service, with a new model that fuses the convenience of edesign with the attention to detail and customization of the traditional, full-service model. It’s the best of both worlds without the downsides, like the impersonal experience offered by big eDesign companies or the heavy financial and time commitment required by full-service design. For us, interior design is all about making a home one-of-a-kind and ensuring it is an extension of our client’s personality and lifestyle. We take on fewer clients, so we can delve deep into collaborating with them and nurture that designer-client relationship. We even offer in-home consults for local clients, and we include vintage and artisanal items in all of our designs.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I struggled a lot when I was younger to be comfortable in my own skin. I was a people-pleaser and I wanted to do all the right things because they were “right” and not always because they were what I wanted. I wish I had spent more time getting to know myself when I was younger instead of striving to become the person I thought I was supposed to become. It’s not as if I’ve got it all figured out now—quite the opposite—but I try to be OK with the not knowing (although some days are more successful than others!).
What’s your favorite way to de-stress after a hard day?
This is going to sound so corny, but my husband and I usually spend about an hour just recounting our day’s highlights reel to one another as we make dinner and it’s my favorite ritual. After that, my ideal situation involves curling up on the couch with Mona (our French bulldog), a glass of vine verde and Netflix.
How do you take your coffee?
With nut milk and piping hot.
Photography by Trim Design Co.
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