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In Penelope's room a vintage IKEA Memphis-esque lamp was sourced from @vigsdigs and the
red-striped curtains are from Anthropologie.

This Cozy Home (in One of the Coolest Suburbs) Embraces a ‘Poetic vs Perfect’ Design Philosophy

published Dec 17, 2020
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Don’t dismiss the value of a child’s input. Their wildly imaginative and sometimes brilliantly simplistic ideas are key to the design plan.

Hollie Velten-Lattrell

Name: Hollie Velten-Lattrell, Sean Lattrell, Penelope (9) and Lake (6)
Location: Maplewood, New Jersey
Size: 2,000 square feet

Filled with creative people (an artist and designer, an animator, and no doubt two budding artists), this large house is located in one of our sister site Apartment Therapy’s picks for coolest suburb, Maplewood, New Jersey.

Hollie runs a multi-disciplinary insights and creative research studio and designs interiors (particularly excelling in kids’ spaces) under the name SPACES by Hollie Velten. As Hollie describes below, her home isn’t “perfect,” but that’s exactly why it’s so worthy of touring. It’s a house filled with collected items, handmade treasures, and an unwavering sense of fun and coziness.

“We did the Brooklyn-to-the-burbs move when our youngest was just born for a chance to slow down and cultivate a new, creative space to grow in,” writes Hollie. “Our house is far from perfect—it’s peppered in flaws and  honestly quite jerry-rigged, but the girls tell me everyday how much they love their home and I am learning to see it through their eyes. Our yellow Colonial wedges the street corner like a big smile and is filled with happy little objects to suit our family of curious homebodies.”

On working with what you’ve got: Hollie’s style is layered, lived-in, and storied. She says, “I practice a sustainable work-with-what-you-have and where-you’re-from approach, often starting from an old family photo and a children’s doodle to invite a narrative.”

On redecorating vs. remodeling: “Don’t rush to chase a shiny finish.  Take time to connect to your space, find small meaningful belongings, and build off of that. I have house envy wherever I go but am slowly learning to love what is inherently, authentically mine.

A favorite home quote: “The way you choose to personalize your home is so closely linked to your individuality that it’s only logical that it will develop over time as you do.”- “Diary of Your Home” by Joanna Ahlberg + Peter Ahlberg (Rizzoli).

On household hacks: “I tend to be ill-prepared for things, but have discovered an arsenal of household hacks i.e.: toothpaste erases penciled wall doodles, white chalk for a quick grout veneer, vinegar and baking soda for carpets, eucalyptus bunches tied to the shower head for a fresh steam, trinket bowls of Epsom salt for clarity,” says Hollie. “We’re not too proud for duct tape and glue guns. Also, necklaces sometimes make interesting wall hangings.”

On a favorite DIY: Hollie says she loves her pin boards in her downstairs office, an idea she says she “borrowed from” (They’re homosote covered with burlap and painted!)

Penelope's bedding is Laura Ashley, found on Overstock.

On the beauty of homemade art: “[I am proud of] my weird sculpture (styrofoam balls/shapes pierced through a wooden dowel and coated with plaster of paris) and my daughter’s wall hanging (a costume she made from Oh! Canary art camp inspired by Nick Cave sound suits with toile fabric and raffia).”

Her biggest organizing challenge: “Cords! Pets! And the brushing-your-teeth-with-Oreos effect of living with kids. I try to just incorporate different vessels for quick stashing all around.”

On where she finds inspiration: As a decorator, Hollie says she draws inspiration from the past, citing old family photos, illustrator Saul Steinberg, a shell house in Mexico the family vacationed in, and the film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” as touchstones.

The pink bed is from Overstock, the stuffed swan is from Crate and Barrel, and the squishy sculptures are by Danielle Marie Masters.

On starting with a family heirloom: “Lake’s room started as all my clients rooms start, with a family heirloom ( a photo of my mom in a swan lake performance) and some collaborative prompts (see my PLAY-ING Cards) and we end up with a big collective mood board on the ground or wall together, informed by the stories and reactions of the kids. Lake, in particular, wanted some pink and the Swan Lake theme permeated throughout.” (The family has since added a mural of a swan that they painted together (with the help of Hollie’s husband, animator Sean Lattrell.)

Her advice for designing kids’ rooms: “Don’t dismiss the value of a child’s input. Their wildly imaginative and sometimes brilliantly simplistic ideas are key to the design plan.. It’s not all sparkles and unicorns- the POV of any inner-child is liberating, genuine, and always delightful.”

Credit: Hollie Velten-Lattrell

Thanks Hollie!