Home & Living

The 'Elements Of Style' Can Be Found In This One Instagram Account

10/04/2014 08:00am ET | Updated December 6, 2017
NEWTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 29: Interior designer/writer Erin Gates, has a new book out called 'Elements of Style: Designing a Home and a Life.' She is photographed in her studio. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Style is subjective, but the elements of style are pretty universal. Few people know this better than blogger-turned-interior designer and author Erin Gates. She wrote the book on it -- literally. And while she navigates the new terrain of publishing, we're taking notes from her work titled, like her blog, Elements Of Style. The biggest takeaway: We pretty much want her life, and after a brief chat with her, we're certain of it.

In the book you talk about your first blog post on April 3, 2007. Tell us what you were doing before that. What did your life and career path look like?

Oh, a lot of things! I knew I wanted to do something creative and visual, but wasn't quite sure just what. I had worked in an art gallery, interned for a fashion designer, assisted another Boston interior designer and did event planning for a private school. I started my blog while at the private school job as a way to keep my creative fires stoked. And then finally one day, my husband gave me the courage to quit my job and focus on starting my own design company and growing the blog. My dad took a similar path -- he taught himself architectural design while working in the family business and then one day the design work trumped everything else, and he never looked back. So I grew up with a great role model to follow.

The book title promises to show us how to design a home and a life. How are they similar?

Homes are the palette on which we can illustrate our life stories. Every home should reflect your own journey, and not just look like everyone else's home. The process of moving around, growing up, figuring out what you want and then expressing that is true both in life and interior design. For me right now, I have this empty third bedroom just waiting to be a nursery, but I've been struggling to get pregnant. That room reflects my current life story, while the other rooms look pretty perfect.

If you could pinpoint one moment that set you on this path, what would it be?

Probably the day I realized that complete strangers were reading my blog, not just my mom and girlfriends. People were asking me for advice and I was thrilled to give it. That joyous feeling pointed me right to what I should be doing, which is both designing and writing!

What's the biggest challenge staying the course?

With design, it's stress. People think interior design is all rainbows and wallpaper and dollar bills. It's not. It's 75 percent paperwork and business planning, and 25 percent creativity. And the pressure to perform is intense -- you're spending other people's hard-earned money! You lose sleep hoping they are happy.

What's one thing you do everyday without fail?

Light delightful smelling candles and make my bed. I just completed an amazing master bedroom addition and I show it the utmost respect right now. But check in with me in a few months and I probably will have reverted to being sloppier.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when asked what you're...
... working on: Relaxing -- it's been a long year!
... reading: The Boys in the Boat. I'm a voracious reader. I probably read a book a week.
... watching: "The Killing." It's so, so, so good.
... listening to: Comedy Central on Sirius. I love getting a good laugh while stuck in Boston traffic.
... tinkering with: Ideas for a second book!
... browsing: DailyMail's gossip section. I look at it every morning with coffee!
... inspired by: All my fellow bloggers. I'm left in awe daily by the talent out there all around us!
... challenged by: Accepting life as it comes. I am an anticipater, planner and regret-er. I need to learn to be more present and grateful.
... imagining: A nice, long vacation somewhere I've never been. Africa, the Amalfi Coast or Mexico.
... wishing for: A baby.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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