Having launched as a lifestyle and design blog, Little Yellow Couch has evolved into an insightful (and delightful) podcast featuring interviews with industry leaders, celebrating their individual design approach.
Run by two design addicts, founders Zandra and Karen are supporting homegrown businesses whilst making design accessible and fun for their listeners. We were hooked immediately!
So it was the highest form of flattery when we were invited to feature on their podcast (going live on Monday – link to follow!) about our passions and stories behind the business.
In return, Zandra and Karen promised to share their own tales of founding Little Yellow Couch and the design lessons they’ve learnt along the way…
Tell us about Little Yellow Couch – what inspired you to do it?
We’ve been friends for a long time. We met when our kids were in preschool. Karen had recently started a business designing and sewing beautiful bags and purses and she inspired me to start a business painting furniture and making other home decor items. We both did that for several years, helping each other through the jury process for the top craft shows in the Boston area. We would meet regularly to talk business strategies and act as sounding boards for each other. We took different small business courses and would share the knowledge we each had gained. At around the same time, we were both feeling a little burnt out from doing the craft show circuit. We had also hit a wall in terms of production. There are only so many hours in the day to hand make every item. And at some point you reach the top of the pricing game and aren’t making enough to justify all of the hours. That’s when we started wondering if there was some way to work together, pooling our different skill sets.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
Well, certainly through photos of homes that other people are creating. We get quick doses of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest. And we can be inspired by colors, graphics and patterns found in everything from a painting to a blanket to a book cover. But really, the things that usually move us from dreaming about something to taking action and making a change in our homes, are our experiences. If we have an amazing encounter with public art in a city park, or we’re swept up in the luxury of an exquisite meal, or walk into a boutique where the love of finely designed objects are displayed with creativity… we get REALLY excited and bring those experiences into a new vignette or room composition.
What would be your top design tip?
Over time, we’ve distilled our top design tips into three basic principles: 1. Your Story, Your Style. 2. Love It, or Leave It. 3. Style Evolves. When developing your own style, start by figuring out how to visually represent who you are throughout your home. As you go forward, really put every item you have in your home, or every new item you want to buy, to the test: Do you LOVE it? If not, let it go. And always remember that style can and should change over time to reflect who you are becoming.
What does home mean to you?
Karen: Home to me is the place where I can escape. Coziness, comfort, and retreat are the feelings I want to encourage in my space. The outside world can be overwhelming to me so I love having a place that completely expresses who I am, where I can let down my guard.
Zandra: Home is my artistic medium, as it can be for anyone. I just get a lot of joy out of having and idea about what I want a room, or even a little area, to look like, and then making it happen. Home is where I express my current interests and long time passions. And sometimes I even let my husband participate! (No, really, he also has a great eye for design and we really enjoy making some of the bigger style decisions together).
What is your most treasured vintage piece?
Karen: The large time punch clock from the International Time Recording Company from the early 1900s. I love the vintage industrial style, but more importantly, it belonged to my father. He was a big clock collector and I would go to meetings of clock collectors with him when I was a kid. Every room of my house was filled with clocks and the sounds of clocks were a big part of my experience in my childhood home. His dear friend restored it for me after my dad died. It was an act of love.
Zandra: My collection of Huston Biscuit boxes. My maiden name is Huston and I grew up hearing the stories of the company founded by my great, great grandfather. Every summer, my grandmother would proudly show me the bricks paving one of the streets in Maine that came from his factory after he sold the company to Nabisco. And I’ve even seen some of the original ovens he used in the University of Southern Maine library, which was converted from another one of the Huston factories. I love hearing about my family’s story of a small business back in the time when people were claiming their small part of American history.
Where is your happy place in the home?
Karen: On my couch, under my Frida Kahlo painting. I’m like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. It’s my spot and I would feel very uncomfortable if someone else sat there!
I like to sleep in my guest room every once in awhile. I’ve put a lot of my favorite things in there. And it’s just fun to experience waking up in a different room in my house!
A perfect Sunday is….
Antiquing! (That sentiment is shared by both of us). Followed by a lovely meal and a bottle of wine.
If you could have any piece from our website, what would it be and why? Where would it be placed?
Karen: I’ve recently moved into a loft space with really high ceilings so I’d love to have this pair of really tall french shutters to simply hang as architectural art work.
Zandra: I love interesting lighting. I have pretty much filled every available surface with an antique or thrifted lamp at this point. But I don’t have any wall scones. Yet! So here’s where I would start, with this scissored arm sconce. I love the mix of metal and wood!