I'm so thrilled to have Annette Tatum, Santa Monica interior designer and textile creator, here with us to talk about her new book, The Well Dressed Home, which hits stores tomorrow! I first 'met' Annette when I came across the nursery she did for actress, Minnie Driver's new son. I was so impressed, I sent her a tweet to let her know! I was even more excited when I learned about her new book and the unique concept behind it. We all have the decor and fashion books, but one that combines them both? Genius! The Well Dressed Home fills that need by illustrating how your personal fashion choices can be the inspiration for your home decor. And the best part? Annette is graciously giving a signed copy to one lucky reader! All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of the In(her)view and the winner will be announced on Friday, Oct. 2nd. Good luck!
Plush Palate: How and when did the idea for the book all begin?
Annette Tatum: About three years ago I started to license some of the prints from my library through an agent. One day she asked me, "If you could do anything creatively for a book what would you do? What would you want others to know and learn about your creative process and who you are other than from what your company makes and sells?" I was intrigued because I often design for a certain type of customer who enjoys a more vintage style. That was my company's direction, not necessarily my own. It was like someone gave me permission to break out of my 'box.' With that said, I shut myself into my studio for three days and created a 'mini' book of what I would want to see and buy in a decor book. I asked myself the following questions: How do the layers of our lives effect the design of our home? Do we have children or do we live alone? Where have we traveled? What do we like? I then looked at my love of fashion and my own fashion choices and how they inspired my own home design. Styles come and go in the fashion world as do home decor trends. Like our closets, one year we like the miniskirt. The next year we are into tailored blazers and khakis. When I emerged from this creative explosion, I sent my work out into the publishing world. I often say I put it on the back of a boomerang and it came back to me with a prize. It was a total surprise to me when one day I received a phone call from a top Editor at Clarkson Potter. The rest has been an incredible journey of collaboration and creativity. It has taught me to fully believe in possibilities and to remind myself and others that anything can happen!
PP: In addition to being an author, an interior designer, and creator of your own textile line, you're also a wife and mother of four! What's your secret to balancing work and life?
AT: It's a question that I am often asked. Firstly, I am a list maker. I do a daily list of what to do and at the end of the next day, I add to the list. Secondly, I am very good at juggling many things at once. I come from a very large, chaotic family so maybe that helps. I often joke that I could also do well as a short order cook or a stock broker. Thirdly, I give myself permission to be human. I can't do it all. I have been very fortunate to have other talented people around me who help me make all my dreams and visions come true. I do have one new rule I am trying for myself - no homework for me after dinner.
PP: Many readers here are aspiring interior designers and entrepreneurs, can you walk us through your background and the first steps you took towards your current career path?
AT: Funny, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up as a young high school student, I would have said a nurse! I do love what I do and if I look back as to what I did to get here, I followed what I loved. Although I went to Design school and later attended Architecture school, I still believe that most of what I learned I learned while on the job. My early professional work had me very involved in product design - lighting, furniture, and packaging which I feel has served me well in that I learned how to 'make' things. I learned how to get products developed and out to market. I also had some early jobs in the fashion industry which gave me permission to think outside the box when looking for materials for projects. I also had a boss early on who taught me that there is never a 'no' when it comes to figuring things out. I have found his words still ring true today. There is always a way to get things made. Sometimes you have to get creative, but there is always a solution. Once I discovered that I might have some entrepreneurial drive I began to start creating manageable projects that I could handle. In the beginning I still had to stay employed, so I worked at night and on the weekends. Early ventures were in the furniture business and then into the pajama business. I have to say where I ended up today has just been an evolution of a journey. The reason I have a baby bedding line as part of my product selection is that I had 4 small children who needed bedding. The reason I wrote a book on design and fashion is probably that as my children have gotten older, I once again have had time to ask myself what do I like? As a result, the choices in my life reflect my interest and desires. I am attracted to what I want to design so the process is easy. I would have to say to anyone starting out, don't try too hard. Look for what is obvious. I struggled trying to figure out the perfect name for my company, the perfect color for certain prints, and in the end I drove myself crazy. Better to go with the flow and have fun!
PP: Which inspires which for you? Fashion of interiors?
AT: I have to say I am more excited these days about fashion. Probably because of the two it is the one I know less of. I am so curious about how it all works. How products at Dior get from an amazing runway collection in Milan to the department stores of the world. Where do they find some of the fabrics they use? The combinations are incredible at times and I am often wishing the home decor market were more bold. Fashion is full of drama! Its has no rules. I love that!
PP: New York Fashion Week just wrapped up, did you see a collection you absolutely love or have a favorite fashion house?
AT: I have been following the girls at Rodarte for years. I love that they received the award this year. They are so inspiring and their ideas are so new and exciting. I also love anything couture. I love Dior and the collections this year. Anything Galliano I am in awe of. Some of the shows are like watching mini operas for me.
PP: Your book reveals eleven of the most universal fashion styles, - romantic, couture, classic, casual, bohemian, retro, resort, modern, eclectic, vintage, and eco - which one best describes your personal aesthetic?
AT: I would have to say bohemian/classic today. Last week it probably was bohemian couture. I do have trouble sticking to one style. I like everything!
PP: When you're not working, what can we find you doing in your free time?
AT: This year in retail and manufacturing has presented new problems our company and others have never had to face before. As a result, I starting running and run quite a lot lately. It keeps me sane and allows me to have some quiet thoughts while dumping some stress. I also am a 'home body.' I always think I should be out and about seeing the latest home trends or scoping out new shops. But I have to say, I love being home; in my own studio or organizing. I am so into having things organized these days! I also love to visit Anthropologie. I find the way they do store displays and the materials they use to make beauty from seemingly nothing is amazing. I would love to do an internship there in the store display area.
PP: Which celebrity would you love the opportunity to work with?
AT: I think I would like to work with Madonna. She is always evolving and incorporates all the elements I love. Fashion, concerts with great sets and staging and music. I think it would be a fantastic combination to be part of. She has lasted forever by always pushing the envelope and I love that.
PP: Many people dream of starting their own business the way you have but are afraid to make the plunge. What helped you get to that point and what advice can you give others interested in doing the same?
AT: Start small. Realize that you will make what you think are mistakes but they will actually end up to be valuable lessons later. Experience is essential. You won't know until you try. And don't print all the stationary and business cards until you have been going for at least 6 months. You might change your mind. And always remember to remain open to knew ideas.
PP: Where do you see yourself in five years?
AT: I have become more uncomfortable with the unknown so I would have to say...I hope I am still on an adventure!
Many thanks to Annette for letting us in on her creative process and walking us through her background and experience. I love the message of letting what we love guide our path and valuing our mistakes as an integral part of the learning process!
Don't forget to leave a comment if you'd like to enter the giveaway for your own signed copy of The Well Dressed Home! But if you're like me and just can't wait to get your hands on one in the meantime, you can order your book right here:
update: readers anywhere in the world are eligible for this giveaway!