SMALL CHANGES IN YOUR HOME THAT LEAD TO LUXE RESULTS: WITH ELISE METZGER

After a year and a half of interviewing amazing entrepreneurs, and hearing their inspirational stories of how they got their start, I finally decided to take the plunge, quit my full-time job, and start my own company this past October. I have been prepared for almost anything that’s been thrown at me, but the one thing I still struggle with is working from home. My apartment is small and doesn’t allow for a lot of designated “work space”. Since I know very little about interior design and elevated functionality, I’ve teamed up with Elise Metzger, designer, prop stylist and co-founder of Filigree Suppers, a monthly pop-up dinner series that pairs imaginative food with American made design. The dinners are hosted here in Chicago as well as NYC and beyond. 

Elise is a strong believer in not compromising aesthetic and design for functionality, and is here is give us a few tips on how we can step up our personal spaces! 

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EM: As a designer, stylist, and general aesthetically needy person, one of my favorite challenges is how to make something, practical at its roots, look beautiful. I honestly think that when something is pleasant to look at, I’m more willing to incorporate it into my life. This is especially true when adopting new habits.

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First up, nut milk. (Almond, Cashew, Walnut, you get it…) Full confession: You’re talking to a gal who never used to cook. My motto used to be “I don’t cook, I assemble.” And while making your own almond milk isn’t cooking, per se, it does take more effort than buying it packaged.

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At first the process was intimidating, but I quickly realized that the intimidation came from fear of lack of time, which comes from not having the right tools ready, available and fun to use.

So, I set up a little milk-making station! It took shockingly little effort to buy inexpensive but pretty storage containers. I separated the milk spices (cinnamon, cardamom & vanilla) from the mass of rarely used ones.

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I even have glasses that are small, delightful and make drinking a cup feel like an occasion.

Making your own milk does require more effort than buying packaged, but because we drink a lot in our household, we waste much less packaging. Not only that, but it tastes way better, if I do say so myself!

Moving on. My fiancé Marco and I have three dogs. It’s a Brady Bunch situation that brings a lot of extra love (and hair) into our home. That said, I have never, ever liked dog beds. Most are not cute and clunky to wash in the machine, and when you have three animals, it’s hard to go more than a few days without cleaning.

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Marco originally had these designed by Chicago designer Cole Mestrovich for part of his record collection, but one day, before we put any records in place, Agnes the chihuahua just went in and made herself at home. That was the moment we substituted small pillows and easily washable blankets for dog beds strewn about the living room. They also double as seating when we throw parties!

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Switching to a more sustainable, beautiful dog bed solution has been honestly the saving grace of having three dogs. They know where to go, they feel safe and cozy, and we have our living room back!

Last but not least, the bedroom. The idea of sleep hygiene is not the sexiest, but super important if you have any sleep issues whatsoever. So why not turn it into an opportunity to give some extra love to what’s probably the most important room in the home? I am a staunch believer of no TV in the bedroom, and really making the bedroom a sanctuary. Oh, you’ve heard this before? Yeah, probably because it’s good for you. ;-)

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Our first challenge came when we each had nightstands that we were pretty attached to. To create a unified look despite the mismatching tables, we used the same shade and similar bases to unify and balance the room. This brings me to my side of the bed. I try to keep everything I might even possibly need at night, close at hand.

For water, I always love the look of a carafe but found them to be fragile and not practical for 2AM refills. This bottle is great because it’s extremely easy to pour in the dark, and won’t break even if you drop it! Little ring dishes, or in my case a vintage soap dish, help keep small goods organized.

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I think the idea of keeping fresh flowers by the bed is super admirable, but not realistic on the upkeep. It’s too easy to not display dried lavender on your nightstand. Plus, the smell will help you nod off.

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The second shelf is for the rest of the goodies I need within reach. A journal to get the day off my mind, and few books, including my favorite short story book for nights when I only have a few minutes left in me. The faintest noises will wake me up at night, so I’ve taken to wearing earplugs. They’re not fun to look at so I house them in this black and white box – WAY better than the plastic container they come in.

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Marco is fairly low maintenance, so I put this small dish on his side as a catch all.

All Photos By: Elise Metzger

And of course as we age, moisturizing is key. I keep not one, but two (and sometimes more) options for moisturizing, as well as a soft eye mask to keep out the morning light until the alarm goes off, or of course, a dog needs walking!

I believe that you should enjoy the experience of being in your home as much as you love the fact that you are home. Sometimes, even the slightest tweaks can make big differences. So when you are looking at a messy corner, or think you can’t possibly be the kind of person that juices every day, try to think of your goal as the end of a chain of small, reasonable and beautiful changes.