FIRST THOUGHT: Making Your House a Home
I’ve done my fair share of binge watching HGTV shows showcasing everything from houseboats to multimillion-dollar mansions to tiny houses. Home looks different to each of us, and that apartment you find perfect in your 20s may seem like a shoebox compared with the two-story home you purchase in your 30s.
Here’s a reality check: Home is a state of mind more than anything else. For me, it’s the welcome feeling I get when I walk through the front door after a long day, pour myself a glass of wine and crash on the couch with those dearest to me. What’s your definition of home?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: America’s First
Decorating your home can be one of the more fun elements of being a grown-up. And ladies, we can thank Elsie de Wolfe—America’s first female professional interior designer—for setting the stage for the rest of us budding home stylists, way back in the early 1900s. She was a prominent figure in New York City and Paris society, and she won a commission to design New York’s first social club for women.
Elsie’s style was a bold change from the dark and heavy features, gloomy colors and patterned wallpaper that defined Victorian design. Instead, she opted to illuminate spaces with mirrors and light colors, and introduced society to comfy chaise lounges and intricate Persian rugs.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Tracey Overbeck Stead, Interior Designer
Elsie paved the way for other women to create stunning designs, one of whom is the classically trained and award-winning Tracey Overbeck Stead. This designing lady really understands her clients—a welcome rarity in design these days. Tracey has the remarkable ability to get in her clients’ heads and learn their style preferences by getting to know them instead of just looking at clippings from design magazines they like. And she understands that a lot of us aren’t set on one particular style. For instance, I like contemporary but I also like antiques. She gets it!
All you have to do to appreciate Tracey’s design style is to look to this design maven’s own historic 1920s home, in which every piece has a story, like the black-and-gold clock from her grandfather’s 300-clock collection, or the beautifully carved wooden chair that belonged to her grandmother. Each piece in her home—though it may not “match” any other—has deep personal meaning for her. And that’s similar to how she approaches designing for her clients.
A lifelong creative type, Tracey started college with the fine arts in mind. But after her first fine-arts class resulted in a D grade, she changed gears and pursued early childhood education instead. While a preschool teacher, Tracey also worked with a local decorator, a job she cherished, so, before long, she headed back to school to study interior design. After graduating, she landed an enviable position with commercial architecture firm Page Southerland Page.
Clearly a natural, Tracey designed her way into the American Institute of Architects homes tour with one of her very first projects. She is inspired by French antiques, high modernism and Japanese pop art. She credits her mom for being a huge influence and showing her that it’s OK to change careers, follow your passion and never stop growing.
When Tracey isn’t connecting with clients, helping them define their own unique style, she shares her insight at speaking events. She also lends her advice and expertise to students through the American Society of Interior Designers mentorship program.
This style guru has proven that when it comes to career choices, the best path is to listen to your gut and design your own road to success.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Whether your house is filled with designer finds or hand-me-downs, hopefully it’s a place where you can find much relaxation. As former New Zealand Governor Silvia Cartwright said:
“The quest for peace begins in the home.”
That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.