Using What Matters with Natalie Papier

 

 My guest today is someone who I can't take my eyes off of when I'm on Instagram.  Designer Natalie Papier of Home Ec has one of the best profiles on IG because her designs are so arresting.  She really does combine things in ways you're not expecting with beautiful results.  I'll share some photos on the show notes page at littleyellowcouch.com/podcast, as well as a link to her Instagram account.  And speaking of the show notes page, you'll also find a list of some of Natalie's favorite artists, whom you can follow and buy from online.  I mention this because Natalie is an artist herself and so we talk about the importance of bringing art into our homes.  Let's jump in!

 

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SOME OF NATALIE'S FAVORITE ARTISTS ON INSTAGRAM:

@natalieodecor

@angietherose 

@margoinmargate 

@melremmers 

@michaelhedgesart 

@vandyker 

@roxanegabrielart 

@skaynedesigns 

@heather.felder.art_ 

@cliffandcallahan 

@barij 

@brittanysmith_art 

@commonorder 

@weebza

 

PHOTOS COURTESY, NATALIE PAPIER OF HOME EC 

 

TRANSCRIPT

Zandra
My guest today is someone who I cannot take my eyes off of when I'm on instagram. Or at least I can't take my eyes off of her work. Designer Natalie Papier of Home EC has one of the best profiles on Instagram because her designs are so arresting, she really does combine things in ways you're not expecting with beautiful results. All share some photos on the show notes page of her work, and I'll also linked to her instagram account. There just goto little yellow couch dot com forward slash podcast and look for her page. And speaking of the show notes pages at little Yellow couch dot com. You will also find a list of some of Natalie's favorite artists whom you can follow and buy from online. I mention this because Natalie is an artist herself. And so we talk about the importance of bringing art into our homes. Okay, let's jump in. So, Natalie, pay Pierre. Welcome to this style matters podcast. I have fallen in love with home AC your instagram feed your website, your whole story, and I'm so glad I found you.
Natalie
My gosh, I am so honored. Um, let me found me to thank you for having me.
Zandra
I want to start with the name behind the story behind the name of your company home ec, because I'm guessing it's a bit tongue in cheek.
Natalie
It is like that. You notice
Zandra
that. Tell us about that.
Natalie
Well, like home ec is kind of antiquated, right? It's something that's from, like, bygone era now. But I love how it represents this kind of vintage, a retro style and the science behind making a home
Zandra
that I love that combination as well. And it it's funny because in a way it elevates it to this thing that has a system and there's a way of doing things. And there's people that have come before you that have all this wisdom. But at the same time, it's got this antiquated sort of anti feminist thing going on. And so I love that you kind of brought it back. But with your own modern take on it
Natalie
totally well, I think I There's a place in my heart for vintage in retro inspired everything. So the same was just really fitting.
Zandra
So it looks to me like you had a business partner at one time, but you no longer do. Is that right?
Natalie
That's correct. So I started the business myself, Um, and at the time I was doing some vintage pop up shops with a friend, Kim Donna's, and on the side. I started exploring this designing for clients, and it took off faster than I could get my feet out from under me soul. I asked him if she would be interested in helping me with a project. Could her style aligned with mine. And I just thought it would be fun to work with someone. No. So she helped me with their project, and we just worked really well together. So I asked if she might be interested in partnering with me and she waas and we did. And it was great, but we decided to move from Chicago to Charlotte. Um, I just moved in January of this year. So once that move happened, I had asked him if she wanted to kind of continue doing home AC back in Chicago. He lunch. You know, I will continue on doing it, um, down here in Charlotte, in some capacity. And at that point, I think she was just She was done with it. It wasn't it wasn't bringing her joy anymore. And she wanted to kind of explore some things that our own. So I continued here in Charlotte on my own, and I still talk to her all the time. She's one of those people that I'm constantly bouncing ideas off of and getting inspired by. She's one of my best friends.
Zandra
So that's great. That's great. Yes, I mean a Z. Many people who've listening to podcasts. No, I did have a business partner co host in a very good friend, and we're still very good friends, but I've been going solo as well. Ah, little bit longer since I believe 2018. Um And so it's It is a change to go from two people doing everything toe one person doing everything, but it sounds like it was the right move for you guys and Charlotte. OK, so moving in January, and then the virus hits. So
Natalie
he has that been like, um, interesting. So I mean, we move down in January. We had started renovations on our house, but we're in temporary housing until March 1st. Okay, while we finish up the kitchen renovation and some other things that we did at the time. Um, we moved in beginning of January. This all went down, you know, meant early march. Um, and it was a blessing at first, Son like Oh, no, I have unlimited time in my house. Teoh, you know, creates and move things around. But that's a blessing and a curse. Um, expression with kids, as you know.
Zandra
Ah, yes, Yes. Right. So now there there, you're there. You're trying to renovate. You're trying to run a business from a new location, making new connections crazy.
Natalie
And then this is kind of new for me, doing a lot more e design. Okay, so, yeah, there has spent a lot of new things, but they're all worth exploring and they're giving me some joy in a time that otherwise it's kind of stressful. So
Zandra
that's that's good. I really think that continue to stretch ourselves and trying to things and learn new things. And following our curiosity is, Well, it's what keeps me going. So I'm glad to hear that it's keeping you going as well. So I want to talk a little bit about your background and how you came to fall in love with design, because I think that you have many different interests all stemming from design or kind of circling round design. So what's what's the story there?
Natalie
Oh, um, so my love of art came from a pretty early age. I started doing gymnastics and ballet is a kid, and none of those things were really making me happy. I used to complain about doing all those things. And then I got signed up for in our class and it just clicked. It clicked and I loved it. And turns out it was pretty good at it. So during my childhood and then into my high school years, I was kind of a known as Oh, Natalie, She's a good artist. Defined me yum. And then once, you know you're getting ready to go to college And like, of course, I'm gonna be an artist. This is what defines me. This is what I need to dio I got a small art scholarship and I went to college in. We had some personal things happening in my family at that time, and I never addicted to finish my degree. Well, and I went into, um, finance.
Zandra
Okay, that way, you know, turn well. Turns
Natalie
out, being an artist doesn't really pay the bills very well.
Zandra
Really, I had
Natalie
So I was still doing some work on the side murals for kids rooms, and, you know, it was always kind of still creating But I had this really job now, and I, you know, had benefits, so I took it. But at a certain point, it just wasn't fulfilling me anymore. And I had this opportunity to take a job at the Eleanor Institute of our planet. It was in accounting, but Okay, after a year, I could have gone back to school and have it paid for it just gave me an opportunity to get out of what I was currently in and seek out something that I don't know, fill my soul. Right. I got pregnant, you know, married all that good stuff, and my kids went to school. And I started to feel like that whole where art UCB was just growing bigger, but it was sent in front of the canvas and just would go blink. It's also a thing that requires a lot of time and dedication. Yeah, um, which I no longer had with two little kids head home. So I started decorating my house and didn't stop. Uh, and this kind of got some attention from my friends and they would ask for my help. And they said, Oh, you should do this. This You should get into design. And I said, Well, I don't know who's gonna Hagar me. How do I even do something like this? Um, and once I took a client who was a friend of a friend and just kind of, you know, gave a really good deal and started tweaking my process and use her as kind of a testing ground for myself. I just found I really enjoyed it. And I really enjoyed working with people and getting to know their stories in helping them create this environment of happy home that reflected them.
Zandra
Yeah, I probably not gonna put this part in the show because I would like to focus on my guest, But I just have to tell you that I'm resonating with this so much because I had a very similar path in that I got very passionate about one thing when I was a kid and and then it was acting. And then I went to a performing arts high school. And then, of course, I went to a conservatory college because it was all I had known, you know? Yes, it had defined me for so long. And what's fascinating to me being a mom is that I don't have kids like that. They haven't. I found this one passion that has driven them, which I might have a shot of. Great able four.
Natalie
It's the same and it's interesting Blue, Just like you said. You're kind of grateful for it because it really does start to define you. And you think this is what I need to do because this is what I'm good at. You almost have blinders on because of it,
Zandra
totally a totally into them When when things don't work. Like I then at a college. I'm in New York. I have an agent I'm doing getting some work. But you know, nothing comes easily and I had no idea how to get a job right on. And then I had this. I've had some mental health issues since high school, and then they really came into play and I had never taken medication. I never really dealt with it, and I was sort of in denial about it, and it just it really I kind of hit bottom. I picked myself up. I had no idea what it was going to do, but I just moved to Chicago and knew I needed a fresh start somewhere. Still want to be in a city? And that's when I finally kind of found a doctor. Dealt with my mental health. Um, but then still, I'm like, OK, but who am I? I still don't know. And then then came the Siris of different jobs and going back to school and around a figure it out and and having kids, and you know all of that stuff. So I'm really, really resonating with your story and, um ah, I want to pick it up there. So So you you really started fall in love with design. It sounds like it started kind of becoming an art form to you, but you are really connecting it with people's stories and I to find that that's what's so fulfilling about interiors working in interiors, in homes because, yes, it's very creative, and it can be an art form, but it's so connected to making someone else happy and live a good life.
Natalie
Yes, exactly. And I think a lot of times when I go into homes, they're lacking that that joy were It's just like they're lacking what internally defines them. It feels sterile it doesn't feel it's boring. It doesn't define the people. The people aren't boring. But somehow they have allowed their homes. You know, to look that way right?
Zandra
There's that disconnect between who they are and their homes. And of course, one of your one of the things that you say all the time is we do not do boring design when you're talking about your company. So we're gonna get into that in a minute. But I want to stick with the art for just a second because that's so important to both of us bringing art into one's home. So why do you think that that has such a was such an important piece of it?
Natalie
I mean, that is such a big question. And it has so many answers. Yeah, um, but I think the biggest thing for me is that art has the ability to just bring a mood into the room. Yeah, it could be belt. It could be edgy or melancholy or serene or joyful, or even just whimsical or humorous. There's so many emotions that could be felt with it. It can carry meaning for us based on the subject of the work itself. We're just even behind the story of how you found the piece there. Just conversation starters, yes, but they also just give a room. Seoul in a focal point. Sometimes sometimes you can create a room around the piece itself. And sometimes art brings this other dimension of life into a space full of furniture. One
Zandra
of the biggest problems with beginning to collect art is that people are there, find themselves disconnected from knowing what they like. Yeah, and I think in part that's because some art is can be really abstract or feels Impenetrable and therefore only the experts quote unquote experts know whether it's quote unquote good or not. And then people feel like, Well, we must not have a clue about whether we should like something, because we're not experts we don't know. And then people then I think, tend to default to safe choices for their walls. Like, you know, I don't know a close up of flowers that's just not gonna offend anybody. Don't really have any meaning, but it's a pretty picture. Or maybe it matches the furniture or something like that. And, um, I'm curious because you're so steeped in art and the art world, and you brought in so many artists into people's homes that you've worked on. What is your advice for people when they're when you say OK, let's go out and find some art like, What did they do first? How do you How do you start understanding what you're even looking for?
Natalie
It kind of AIDS. Sometimes for some clients, that moment of panic like Oh my gosh, what do I like? You know it's not, um, there's no wrong answer is what I tell people like you, but you need to explore it. You need to gua through an art museum or an art fair or gallery. Flea markets like what? What are you drawn? Teoh. What are your hobbies like? You know what makes you who you are? What's the story There? You get into their passing. Once you start learning about the client, it's amazing how ideas for our come off just that, you know, you talk to a client who who's really well traveled before they got married and picked up this opera poster that they saw in Italy, and it's been sitting in their basement. It's like, let's free that Lett's that's art. And I think sometimes art comes with this like, Oh, I need to find a painting. But art is not just a painting hanging on your wall. There are so many different kinds of art, you know, from sculptures to happen, fisheries and rugs and vintage scarves that your grandmother wore. It doesn't just need to be, you know, a painting or something that you spend a ton of money on.
Zandra
Yeah, I do think that there's this. There's a broad range, of course, of of price points, right? And so, you know, I think that as long as it's not something that's been mass produced and therefore doesn't have the artist's own hands touching the peace, I think as long as you've got that kind of person involved in the making of it or the story behind it, then anything goes anything to go upon your walls
Natalie
100%. And I think my connection with where he used to be as an artist. I just have this rial love four artists that are putting themselves out there because it does require a deep sacrifice both financially and you know, sometimes socially because you need periods of time to create, and they're really putting that time and effort out there into the world. And sometimes it's hard to be is her to be bound as they are. This
Zandra
right and I do think that they need our support, but they also deserve our support. I mean, they see they are helping us kind of take pieces of our lives and what's meaningful to us and put it on the wall and visually represent something that's really important to us. So it's quite valuable. I I interviewed on artist Wendy Chen, who wrote the book My Year of Knots. She's not maker herds for medium, and one of the things that really stayed with me when I talked to her was this idea that she said that when you buy a piece of art, you're you're not buying one thing that an artist made, you are buying all of the iterations that came before that that help that artist learn how to make this one thing that you're seeing, but you're also kind of buying the whole process, and I just think that's such a beautiful way to put it and helps understand the value behind a single piece.
Natalie
Yes, it, like our can make a home more human, just based on the time of the artist hands.
Zandra
So so back to the practice practicalities of seeking out art. Of course, right now we're in a completely different situation. If you want to buy art, you're gonna have to do it virtually, um, which is still a great way to support an artist. I think it's harder toe choose things virtually when you can't see them in person. Um, but you were talking about, you know, walking through galleries or walking through even a flea market or an art fair or something. So what sort of what are the things that people should kind of have in mind when they're approaching? Let's say, a gallery. Well, I think it's
Natalie
a little bit last daunting right now if you were interested in, like trying to determine what your art style is because you could do that now, Online, there so many's art portals, all right, that cater to emerging artists. And they're not this over price galleries that sometimes actually galleries could because they have to take a cut for themselves to survive. Sure, the instagram has been fundamental for me and finding new artists. As soon as we moved to Charlotte, I wanted to meet some local artists, and I was really intrigued by the different kinds of styles in the South and who's out here and who's creating what and honestly, you can get really beautiful work, original work or prints from the artists themselves for such good prices that it doesn't make sense to go someplace like HomeGoods and buy something that's mass produced and Solis.
Zandra
And you're married in New York either. And go to a gallery there like it's right there where you live, right there. So did you. So so just like you went on instagram. And did you do? Because Instagram has, ah, geographic search function. So did you like, you know, Okay, artists in Charlotte. I mean, is that is it Was it really that simple?
Natalie
Is it silly that I didn't know that was even a thing? Okay, how
Zandra
did you know that they were in Charlotte
Natalie
then? I usually hashtag like North Carolina artists. Charlotte artists.
Zandra
Let's that works
Natalie
together and artist
Zandra
school, too. But
Natalie
I like your idea better thumb. It sounds easier.
Zandra
I want to switch gears for just a second and talk about some other design things. And one of the things that you're so good at is mixing different styles and eras, furniture and objects and that kind of thing. And that's another thing that I feel like I talk about with people, a lot who contact me. You know, big questions about the art and the big questions about how do we mix different things. And, you know, I I love this piece of my grandmother's, but it's so not my style. I don't know what to do with it and, um, you know, or the question does this go together? Can I actually put these two pieces of things together that are completely different? And I My answer, that is usually, um, yes, everything can go together, But there is definitely a way to do it that that looks better than others. It's hard to articulate. How do you know when something's working? And I'm wondering if you can help us with that a little bit. I feel
Natalie
like I asked. I saw that a lot. Like what is the curated home, huh? I always think of the curated home. It's not entirely intentional. Um, but you pick up, he says, and you shifted. And there's his balance, that sorts of work harmoniously there. It's not matchy. And it wasn't like you bought this piece to go with this piece, but somehow they speak to each other.
Zandra
What about playing around with things? I mean, like, for example, you mean you have this designer's eye because of your artistic background? So you might have had a leg up on somebody who it didn't have that kind of a background. But have you found that for you? It's about playing around and kind of until it works. Yeah, Is that trial and error? In other words,
Natalie
Yes, always. I mean, it's interesting because we moved into this house before we moved any Britisher and I have this opportunity to paint all the rooms, not even knowing what furniture was going to go Where yet. Yeah, you just have to kind of pick colors that speak to you. And then once all my furniture came in a big moving truck, I started just placing things, and while it was not intentional, I didn't think that I was going to put these selfies together with this rug in this room. The colors just are dictating. It's it's It's like balancing that the colors with graphics, cash. I wish I had a better answer.
Zandra
It's a tough one. It really, really is. That's a really a different way of starting in a room, I think is to choose the paint colors first. However, I think a lot of people are faced with that. When if they're hiring somebody like that, they've done a renovation. They're moving into a new house. One of the first things they want to do is hire a painter if they're not gonna do it themselves, because you as you said, there's nothing in the rooms yet. It's just cheaper, easier, faster to paint. Uh, and so. But then there's all this pressure, and I think that you don't necessarily know what to choose. You haven't lived with the light. I mean, I think that you because you've been so attuned to your artistic background, you kind of had more confidence. Maybe in choosing colors,
Natalie
I do think it's faras colors go. I would never tell a client to just pick a random color before they move in, but I kind of trusted myself with what I knew I was bringing into the house to come up with what I thought a good foundation would be. Yeah, but as far as the things that go into the house, I knew I was gonna make them work. Because the pieces I have collected now or we kept and brought with us or pieces that, like I have found and have stories and have meaning to me nothing was disposable furniture to me anymore.
Zandra
Do you feel like you're things can go in any room because they're all about who you are. Or do they go in specific rooms because they have a particular function or color or pattern?
Natalie
I mean, kind of a mix of both, but I do feel like they could work in any room because they speak to me and I'm going to find a way to make them work harmoniously together. Sometimes I just have to put a bunch of stuff in a room and then at it.
Zandra
Yes, editing is so key, I maybe that's that's exactly the point here is that that is the difference between knowing whether this is working or not. That sort of kind of amorphous thing that you and I are both trying to articulate here her right? It's the It's the editing, I guess. And but maybe not being afraid to put all that stuff in the room in the first place
Natalie
so special said there is no, there is no wrong. I mean, obviously you want your design to look cohesive, but you it's you could always take away. So by starting with just pieces that you love and you'll always find a home for pieces you love, I tell that to clients a lot. Like what are you drawn to? Do you love this piece? We will make it work then because it's important to you. I would rather have those important pieces that mean something to our client. Then have them go by, you know, some manufacture piece of furniture
Zandra
that quote unquote matches. Exactly. Yeah, I saw in several of the comments that people have on your website clients that you've worked with. They a lot of them talk about how Natalie was so good at using a piece that it was like an heirloom meant something to me was passed down that I had no idea what to what to do with. But now she's sort of incorporated it. Can you remember any of those pieces that were that? That you somehow made work when the client didn't know how it was gonna work?
Natalie
Oh, yeah. I mean, there's some that stick out. One for me is, um I had a client whose grandmother had, you know, Cam made all these beautiful, very intricate like Doyle ease like when you do a doily, it's you don't put them under lamp anymore. It looks kind of antiquated. Um, in this case, we took a really beautiful hand embroider piece, framed and matted it professionally in use as ah headboard in her daughter's room.
Zandra
Oh, my gosh is a headboard. Well, must have been big.
Natalie
It was really was a runner.
Zandra
Oh, I see. Oh, a runner. That's so cool.
Natalie
And then we actually did take some of those door Liza's well and put them in just the glass frames the issue through glass frames and the wall behind it Was this really deep blue teal color. So the door, please in these brass frames somehow added this meaning in dimension to this wall that felt more modern than just having a doily on and table
Zandra
and is that sort of your? Your instinct is to take something that's if it's if it's old and not of the clients. Taste. Do you modern ICT like Is that what you go to is let's modernizes somehow.
Natalie
Yes, it's like vintage made modern, and there's always always a way to do that.
Zandra
OK, another. Another question put you on the spot here, bring it. What are some of your go to things that when you're shopping and vintage flea markets, that kind of thing, that you tend to pick up because you know they're going to be useful in someone's house?
Natalie
Oh, well, you're talking to a little bit of our order. Here s so I will say, when Kim and I were doing a thana flea markets, we made it a priority because we like to have this inventory of things that are, you know, from HomeGoods Air Target, which there's nothing wrong with those pieces, is just this balance of having some pieces that are a little bit more interesting, a little bit more unique. Yeah, you know, sometimes on cheap. And I like to get a good deal. Absolute murders. Four do that as well, and it's about having this approachable design for clients as well. But when I go look at a flea market and always looking for are interesting shelf styling pieces from pottery to plant hers two figurines I'm really into weird carvings of animals and, um, just something out of the ordinary. Well, I have another example of you. Yes, um, I had a client who we were talking about her his They had a big, big, blank wall, and it was, like, kind of just needed a big piece of Artur gallery wall. But then that requires finding multiple pieces. And are the client legs Well, turns out this client is our record collector and not just, you know, 100 records, but 1000 in some of the front of the record. Covers are amazing. Record art is really cool. Absolutely. So we decided to do for foot wine, lead shelves five of, um, and put a bunch of his records out there. So is the whole ball of art He already had.
Zandra
Yes, in a meaningful
Natalie
to him.
Zandra
Absolutely. And I love that something he already had. And you probably do like to poke through people's basements and addicts to Seo. Why aren't you using this?
Natalie
Exactly the best. You got a shot at home first,
Zandra
right? Right. Definitely. I want to ask you, You know the question. My signature question that I asked most people, which is why did style matter, You know, maybe even why now, here we are, all spending all this time at home. Are you really finding that our surroundings are inter in our interior surroundings matter? Even more work. Are you just finally saying, Oh, my gosh. Finally, everybody's gonna get it. Why? Why are interiors matter to us? Because now we're spending so much time at home. I
Natalie
have never been so busy with the design. People are spending a lot of times in their homes, and they're starting to understand. Like this doesn't bring me joy, interior style manners. Because it's just an opportunity to represent who you are. Visually, it's of your visual story. Like, this is me. I have a six foot fiberglass ash ridge next to my fireplace because it brings me joy. And so just more of that, please. Like
Zandra
more of that. Yes.
Natalie
You're not boring. People just don't make your house Boring.
Zandra
Yeah, right. And that gets back to what I said I wanted to come back to, which was sort of your It's almost like a tagline or a mantra that you have is we don't do boring.
Natalie
You don't? Yeah, and
Zandra
just on a final note, you know, how do you help people get? Get out of that, get out of their comfort zone a little bit and and try toe be more bold in their choices?
Natalie
Well, I think the easiest thing people can do is pain, right?
Zandra
Yeah,
Natalie
he brings so much transformation to room for none of a lot of costs. So what do you like? That is one area where, if you can convince somebody Teoh, bring that color in, they see the room differently. Yeah, it's amazing if you take a beige room and then you put color on the wall. How that transforms my clients emotions. The Alpha seven enjoy being in the space, and you know they're questions up will be too dark, or it's always that question me in here and it's not, it's What's gloomy is that beige color that was sucking the life out of your walls. Yes, absolutely well,
Zandra
Natalie, this has been such a pleasure. I You? Yeah. I'm so excited to share all you know, your worked with everybody and follow you as you continue to explore Charlotte and your life down there.
Natalie
Thank you. Zandra.
Zandra
Thanks so much for listening. If you liked what you heard, I would so appreciate it if you'd read 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 dot com. Have a great week and I will talk to you next Monday. Bye for now.

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