How Failing Leads You to Your Signature Style with Domicile 37



My guest is Jessica Reilly the blogger behind Domicile 37.  She has a degree in industrial design with a minor in interior design but these days, she's putting that knowledge into developing her signature style in her own home.  And wow, does she have an incredible eye for design!  I highly recommend you check out the show notes page for this episode to see photos of her home.... this interview just doesn't do it justice.  But here's what I want you to take away from this episode: you have to be willing to try things and fail in order to figure out what you love and how to execute it.  Let's hear about that from Jessica.  


(All photos courtesy Domicile 37)



Zandra Zuraw 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the style matters podcast brought to you by little yellow couch. I'm Zandra your host and I am so glad you're here. If you are struggling to figure out what's not working in your home, or you buy things, but you're not happy with them for very long, or if you just feel like you don't have the time to make your home beautiful, because life keeps getting in the way, then I've got a place for you to start. Take the little yellow couch quiz, what's the number one mistake you're making in your home and then I'll send you some specific steps to take to address that problem and get you loving your home faster while spending less money and less time in that place of overwhelm where you don't know what to do. Just go to little yellow couch comm and click on the yellow quiz button at the top. Alright, on to today's episode, my guest is Jessica Riley, the blogger behind domiciles Seven. She has a degree in Industrial Design with a minor in interior design. But these days she's putting that knowledge into developing her signature style in her own home. And wow, does she have an incredible eye for design? I highly recommend you check out the show notes page for this episode so you can see the photos of her home that we're referencing, because this interview just doesn't do it justice. All right, here's Jessica. Well, Jessica Riley, welcome to the style matters podcast. It's great to have you.

Jessica Reilly 1:32
Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be here. I want

Zandra Zuraw 1:35
to jump into thrifting because I know that's really big with you. In fact, for anyone who's listening if you want to get her guide to thrifting, which I downloaded I thought it was really helpful. Just go to her website domicile is it just almost out 30 Yep. Okay, well, we'll link to it in the show notes. But you've got this great. I mean, it's really a magazine that that goes into to how to thrift and where to thrift and all that kind of stuff. And you did a post called saving the world through thrifting. And so it's big. It's big for you. And I want to know if you could tell us a little bit about your mom and how she kind of got you started. You didn't even know that she was doing that. And you're kind of reluctant to get into thrifting at first. So tell us kind of the background first. Okay, well,

Jessica Reilly 2:25
growing up, I spent my elementary years in Hawaii. My mother was going to school and working on my wall. My stepfather was in the military and there, five of us total I my mom's child, and then I have my sister and then the other are my siblings. Okay, and so when you were living on a military budget, you're not really making much. And so she was by our clothing from the thrift from the flea market, not the thrift store, but the flea market and she would haul us kids with her like on the weekends. We'll wake up early in the morning and we'll go to the flea. She been so close for us too. That was another thing. And she would bring home furniture. That's how she furnished our

Zandra Zuraw 3:10
Ah was so you tip, but you really weren't like a tune to it.

Jessica Reilly 3:14
It actually wasn't until I was married that I first stepped foot into a thrift store.

Zandra Zuraw 3:18
And what happened? Tell us that story.

Jessica Reilly 3:21
So I walked in, I went to I think it was called like the DI. And I walked right back out, I could not stand the smell. I was just like, oh, my goodness, it stinks in here. And I didn't buy anything. And then after I had my first child, the recession was really high and I quit my nine to five job and then I found another job. But due to the recession, I wasn't paid what I was worth and my husband was still in school.  So I went back into that same thrift store that I was walked out of, and I held my breath. And I went shopping.

Zandra Zuraw 3:54
And now you are this like the queen of thrifting. I mean, so tell us now about In this blog post I'm talking about saving the world through thrifting. You talked about the environmental and financial benefits which to buying anything secondhand, which I think are pretty clear. But you also talk about the fact that there's creative benefits to thrifting so tell us what you mean by that.

Jessica Reilly 4:19
So my desire to have a nice house on a budget came through instinct and yeah, I'm back being pushed against the wall How can I obtain this look that I seen the magazine if I only make this much yeah, so I started flipping furniture and I would only flip what was durable and dirt cheap or free. I would either fix it up paint stain or sententious even clean it.

Zandra Zuraw 4:48
Right. So that's, that's all it needs is a good rag and some soap.

Jessica Reilly 4:52
Yes, and then I would resell it.

Zandra Zuraw 4:54
So so the creativity then is it's really born from necessity, right? I mean, yeah, and I do I find that in any project I'm doing when I have some restrictions, that actually helps me be more creative because then I've got some boundaries. Otherwise, it's really hard to make choices because you can choose any color in the rainbow you can choose from so many different fabrics and patterns and materials. And sometimes it's overwhelming, where if you do have some restrictions, either budget restrictions or space restrictions or whatever, I do think it actually because then you're creative problem solving, right?

Jessica Reilly 5:35
Oh, yes. Yes. Yeah. So work for you.

Zandra Zuraw 5:39
So you have this series this your DIY knockoff series, which are almost always about like, you see something that's pretty expensive by some designer that you really love way out of anyone's normals price range. And then you you make your own right, so it's the DIY knockoff, and I was wondering if you could give a couple of examples. kind of describe for us a couple of your favorites.

Jessica Reilly 6:02
My favorite pieces that I knocked off. One was the Kelly horsepower box. It was originally supposed to be like a service application. Okay, so tell for this boost technique. Tell us a little bit about that. For people who don't know about that it's, it's a climbing technique I wanted, you could surf loose in in different ways. But I wanted to do a black surface where the base of it is like a black or sometimes it looks more like a dark Indigo color. And then you could kind of see the veining of the oak or the wood with the lime.

Zandra Zuraw 6:38
Right the lime or wax or I don't I've never done the application, but I know what the finished product looks like. And it's kind of like a right you can see the grain of the wood.

Jessica Reilly 6:51

Zandra Zuraw 6:52
through this wash this lime or

Jessica Reilly 6:56
wax or whatever. It's a line wax. Okay, how to explain Well, that's the little kit that I bought. That's what it says.

Zandra Zuraw 7:04
Right? Right. So you found the kit. Okay. Yeah,

Jessica Reilly 7:06
I did. However, it was a big fail. It didn't turn out at all.

Zandra Zuraw 7:12
I love fail stories tell us why.

Jessica Reilly
I don't know what I did wrong.

Zandra Zuraw 7:18
So what did it look so it didn't look the way it was supposed to

Jessica Reilly  7:21
know you couldn't even see the grain work. Oh, I didn't like the wax did it take to it and so instead I turned it into like a plaid looking box. Oh, and I didn't think I was gonna like it because a lot of times when you're first idea goes sour. Yeah. And you resort to your second idea. It does. You don't normally like it because you were originally in love with that first idea. Yes. I really, really like I still have the box. So this day.

Zandra Zuraw 7:49
Oh, that's awesome. I don't plan everything out in advance. I certainly don't measure everything out in advance. And so I have a lot of fails. But what it always maidens for me if I don't just toss the whole thing because sometimes you just can't you're already too deep into it is you got to kind of get creative and try to figure out how to fix the mistake. And then in your case, like you end up with something completely different, but I love it that it's one of your favorite, you know, DIY projects that you've done.

Jessica Reilly 8:19
Yeah, my next one was the shibaura napkins and that was another DIY fell because I was too impatient to let the color soak in. It didn't come out as dark as I wanted to, but actually liked it more than Oh, I way.

Zandra Zuraw 8:36
Well, speaking of table settings, your dining room, I think might be my favorite room in your home. And I think it's because there's some formality to it, or at least some elegance maybe is a better word. It's not stuffy at all, but there's all this life to it. And I think it's the I think it's that wall that's wallpapered with all the shelves and all the stuff in it, you don't usually see that kind of that Have a look in a dining room first describe for us the dining room itself. And then I'm going to ask you about how you use it. But I'm not going to jump there yet.

Jessica Reilly 9:09
Okay, so you're going to think this is crazy, because that was also another project from the knockoff DIY series where we'll, we chose certain designers that we liked, and we were trying to knock off their style. And I chose like Iris XL.

Zandra Zuraw 9:25
Well, of course, I didn't see the before. So I don't know. You know, how much of a dramatic change it made but the wallpaper is really stunning. But again, what I love about it is how you've styled in front of it with those shelves and again, I don't I just don't feel like we do that in dining rooms. dining rooms are usually they're very plain, right? Because they're all about the table and the chairs and maybe the chandelier. So the fact that you've really done up the dining room walls, it just makes it feel very personal. And I don't know if that has anything to do with your other use of this space which I said I was going to get to because you call it what do you call it your dining room and you're in a workspace? What do you mean by that?

Jessica Reilly 10:07
Yes. So I call it a workspace because I have like a little Etsy shop. And that's where all of my treasures I sell on Etsy, I would store them on that back wall. So that was more like, oh, layer their homes with art and decor. That is my shop.

Zandra Zuraw 10:27
Wow, that is so cool. Because instead of you know, most people are probably put that kind of stuff in a plastic bin, an ugly plastic bin in the basement, but you actually sort of use it as decor kind of rotating out as you would sell it. That's great. It's a great use of that space, too. All right, moving on from your dining room, you also have this huge living area. At least it looks really big to me. I think it might be the best example I have ever seen regarding how to make an oversized room work because when you done what we're all told to do, and I believe in as well, which is carving out kind of different areas for different activities in this one great big room. But what strikes me about it is how it doesn't. It doesn't even look like a modern open floor plan. Because those often come across this kind of cookie cutter ish. So first describe it for us and then tell us what was your thought process as you were first approaching this space and kind of how is it evolved?

Jessica Reilly 11:29
Oh, my goodness.   my living room is huge. It measures approximately 20 feet by 25 feet.

Zandra Zuraw 11:37
Oh my gosh, that is so huge. It is. Um,

Jessica Reilly 11:42
so I'm going to walk you guys through in front of my photo bar. And if you look at my pictures, you guys know exactly where my heart is because I take a lot of photos and I love that area. It's the area right underneath my skylights. And why do you call it phobar because I don't drink but I have a collection.
I guess alcohol bottles and um, what you know the canners and and glassware, but I do not drink. And this is where hoarding and collecting comes into play. Like I see it I like it I buy it so therefore I display it. It's so funny because I mean,

Zandra Zuraw 12:20
well you know the thing about bar paraphernalia it can be so beautiful and elegant. So yes, yeah, I get it. I get why you have it. All right.

Jessica Reilly 12:29
I like how the light shines on it.  So in front of my foot bar sits our game table. Next to that we have our what I call the TV area. And then we have a sitting area in front of our fireplace and what separates our TV area from the sitting area is a long vintage sofa with a console table behind it.  And then in the back of our living room, we have a dining area that houses a table. Foot dining table is kind of narrow. So the space back there's kind of narrow, so I had to build a table that was proportionate to this to the space, right? Because

Zandra Zuraw 13:11
I don't know that most people would even think of putting a dining area in this room, but it works. You totally make it work.

Jessica Reilly 13:19
I tried a lot of different things back here. But I always knew from the moment we moved in a table needed to be Becker, I just didn't know where to buy one is very narrow, however, you can. And before I built it, I put  you know, like play settings on there to make sure that people can eat would sit comfortably.

Zandra Zuraw 13:38
And what what you said that you always knew from when you move down that a table needed to be there. Why? How did you know that?

Jessica Reilly 13:44
When I designed a space, I kind of like to sit silently in that space and kind of soak in all of the elements and I don't know it's kind of more like a visual thing you kind of I could lay it out in my head because nothing else In my room has changed. Like my furniture placement everything has always been the same since we moved in so I knew this is where this is going, that's where that seating area is going. And once I found a game table I knew it was going to be underneath that tape underneath the skylight because that's it made sense to put it there I have I moved the table I have by always move it back because that's the best place for it.

Zandra Zuraw 14:23
I love that idea of just sitting in a space for a little bit quietly you know and not and letting letting the space kind of talk to you a little bit.

Jessica Reilly 14:32
Yes, I wrote a blog post about how the whispers of the house and how guide you with designing and decorating a space that kind of tells you exactly what it wants. It doesn't necessarily like physically speak to you, but you could kind of gather from just sitting in there and observing or even seeing how the space functions, what's going to happen in there and how you should design it.

Zandra Zuraw 14:58
So you will Walk into this great big room when you first buy the house. Mm hmm. And what were some of your first thoughts about what you wanted to do? 

Jessica Reilly 15:06
Oh, in this great big room. Oh, my goodness girl,  my man just tell you I had other plans for this room. I Oh, didn't see my house. When we first bought it. My husband moved out to Texas about three months before I did. And I thought by looking at the pictures, I'm like, I'm gonna create a house with European flair, and it's gonna have sunbleached floors, and it's gonna look amazing. Why walk in here? And I'm just like, Oh, no, that's not what this space is saying to me. It's telling me that I need black floors. And then once I figured out what cold floors were, I'm like, okay, the fireplace is gonna be black too, because I'm not doing this whole color blocking contrasting thing. I'm gonna pull it all the way up. Alright, so with the doors, and then but this is where I made the biggest mistake. I didn't think when I chose the paint color originally, in this liver, I was just so excited and I want to hurt them paint the space and get things rolling before the kids came back from the grandma's.
That I painted the walls white. I never planned on painting my house white. I need color. However, I needed the walls to be not the color that they were by didn't take into consideration the direction of where the natural light was coming the skylights or all the other elements in the space once I painted the room. I hated it.  I painted the black afterwards. So I knew that I was going to do black floors. I just didn't know what color I wanted the walls there. Okay, I settled for White. Gotcha. And I turned over to my husband and he looks at me He's like, Well, I'm not retaining it. So make it work. It was a it's a big room and then the ceilings are vaulted and and there was just a lot to do. And so I tried my hardest to make it work. We kept the floors black, we had white walls. And then on the shelving, I painted it like this lavender, this moody lavender color. I ended up going with this lavender color because the white in the white on the walls had a purple undertone. I was trying to make it make sense to me. Alright, and so

Zandra Zuraw 17:32
so you got the colors down you deal you know, you get the white not happy about it, but then I feel like the lavender builtins are kind of the star of the show, right? They kind of draw your eye.

Jessica Reilly 17:43
Yes, I love them. And that's also where the layering of the room came. I was trying so much to bring warmth to these cold Stark walls.

Zandra Zuraw 17:54
Well I want to wrap up with my my signature question about why does style matter. And I'm interested in your thoughts on why does it matter to you personally and also kind of big picture what what is claiming your style and creating a beautiful space mean for, for anyone for our life experience? I guess just thinking a little bit more broadly.

Jessica Reilly 18:20
Okay, why does style matter? Well, I believe that it only matters if you make it matter. As someone who loves design, it matters to me because I consider my home to be my brand. You walk into my home, you know exactly what you're getting. It's about my personality from a mile away. I have such a strong design style that I think has rubbed off on my children when they see me creating in the home, therefore they want to to, and that makes me happy because they're learning a skill and they're seeing first how firsthand how things are put together how it's done. And although I don't know if they're going to use in the future, I know that if they How to use it that they will succeed. Hmm. I always say that my home has split personality is not necessarily cohesive and color theme, but it flows in a way that my mind works. And the older I get, the more I realize that that is me. I am full of emotion, color, pattern, texture, and so much more. And that's okay.

Zandra Zuraw 19:23 

it's more than okay. Yeah, it's gorgeous.

Jessica Reilly 19:25
Yeah, I feel like nowadays and claiming your style, especially in the world that we live in, where people are telling you how to be and who to be and what to be in and what to watch and how you should be living your life. When you know who you are. You're okay with that. And, therefore, you're telling them I like me, I like my style. So I think it's important because I don't The last thing I want is for my kids to to see me doing something just because someone else is telling me to do it. And I want them to be able to stand on their own and and to Do things on their own without feeling the need to please someone else, or to please a society that honestly could care less about what they're doing. Hmm.

Zandra Zuraw 20:10
Wow, that's a really powerful answer. I love that answer. Thank you so, so much for coming on the show. Thank you so much. Thanks so much for listening. If you liked what you heard, I would so appreciate it. If you'd rate us on iTunes so that other home obsessed people can find our show too. And don't forget to take the quiz. What's the number one mistake you're making in your home over at little yellow couch calm. Have a great week and I will talk to you next Monday. Bye for now.

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