This series features the people who opened their homes to us for Rebecca's new book, Living with Pattern. All of the homes in the book belong to creatives or were designed by interior designers who know how to create a space that is truly personal to the people who live there. Their generosity and unique personal style allowed Living with Pattern to be as beautiful and special as it is.
Our 'Living with Pattern Homes' series this week features the home Michelle Armas, an abstractionist painter who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Rebecca met Michelle through instagram, but originally discovered her work through the blogging world. We chatted with Michelle about how she uses pattern in her home and how she decorates.
Rebecca Atwood Designs: Describe your style in three words.
Michelle Armas: Collected, cheerful, and comfortable!
RAD: What's your fabric of choice?
MA: Anything made by hand, where I feel like there is a connection to the artist who created the pattern or the fabric itself. Also, only natural fibers that breathe and age well.
RAD: What are your top three tips for using pattern in the home?
MA. One: mix the pattern sizes, and styles, and colors but keep a common theme running through them through color. Two: dDon’t use computer made patterns, the edges are too straight and stark, and they don’t have as much charm as the real thing.Three: texture is pattern too! I love animal hair, woven straw, caning, leather, glass and metals with bubbles, or patina or even the repetition of a pleat on a lampshade. That is also pattern!
RAD: When it comes to pattern where do you save and where do you splurge?
MA: If I inherit or am gifted something from family then I accept it and work around it, even if I would have bought something different if I had looked for it myself. This is how I save, for example, the rug in our living room is a beautiful, silk antique that is from my husband’s parents; I won’t replace it even though it isn’t exactly what I wanted because to me having a piece of them in our home is more important. I splurge for hard to find items, or when I am paying for workmanship. I don’t like to spend big bucks just because some famous designer made something and they command a lot for their work. Unless of course, it’s something I love completely, and I usually take a few years to be sure that I love something. Also, I don’t like to do Knock-offs or DIY versions of my favorites to save cash, in the end, I am paying for the artistry and I believe that is a good place to put my money. To me patterns are like artwork, I simply buy only what I really love and want to have around me, anything else is just a waste.
RAD: What is your favorite pattern technique, style, or period?
MA: I like a repeat pattern that is irregular and usually geometric or linear. Something block printed using a hand carved block stamped by hand, or hand painted silk, embroidered linen or canvas, woven blankets, and rugs. Aside from those I would say that I am always drawn to Bauhaus textiles but those again tend to be linear and geometric as well.
RAD: What is your go-to pattern resource?
MA: Vintage, hand-made textiles from South America, Africa or Eastern Europe, I usually find them on Etsy, eBay, Chairish, or One Kings Lane. I am not someone who wants to run around town looking for just the right thing, because I know it when I see it so buying online is best because I have so much more selection, and I can do research and find one region or artisan that is perfect and I can stalk them until I find the exact right thing. Josef Frank fabrics are just my favorites and I am always looking for them, always.
RAD: How do you like to decorate?
MA: I like to constantly move furniture and rugs and art around from room to room, so I always only buy what I love the most, and what will mix with anything else in the house. This has been the way I have had the best success with mixing styles and time periods.
RAD: If you live with others how does that affect the choices? Who gets final say?
MA: I know what my husband wants: to him comfort and convenience and coziness are musts. I keep all of his needs in mind when I choose something, then we discuss it and I will change it if he hates the idea, but he tells me all the time “I have learned to just let you do it, because, in the end, I will love it.” I feel like I have earned his trust and he really enjoys being home and having a blanket, a light, and a table and a place to put his feet up on every chair. He notices textures now too because I am always telling him that what we use the most: towels, door knobs, faucets, counter tops and so forth should be the most luxurious and pleasing to touch and use.
RAD: What inspired your pattern choices in your home your bedroom?
MA: Everything I hang as art in my home is something that I love or means something special to me. I never buy art because it has the right colors, or is the right size for my space. I think that’s crazy actually, and that’s the same advice that I give everyone who buys art from me too! Just stick to pieces that you love looking at and you will never be sorry. I like subtle pattern and texture as pattern in a bedroom because it has to be serene and soothing for me to want to come in there. Blankets and throws I tend to buy when I travel because I love hand made textiles so those remind me of adventuring and probably of how happy I am that I managed to get my husband out shopping with me and that only happens when we aren’t home!
RAD: What do you love about using pattern? How does it shape how you use the space?
MA: Pattern is cozy, and it has a storied quality. Mixing the size of patterns and keeping the color pallet simple makes such a layered, and to me, very appealing space.