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11.06.21

Find Pieces That Make Your Heart Sing: Decorating with Samantha Varvel

Stylemaker Samantha Varvel was born with an eye for design, a skill that was only enhanced by her environment growing up. With a design enthusiast for a mother and a family that has made a home across the globe from London to Tokyo and beyond, she has enjoyed great design her whole life. Though she started her career in finance, she came to discover that her creative side needed more than just evenings and weekends to flourish. Now a busy mother of two young children and entrepreneur (she shares her design journey through her social channels and helps run a business with her mother and sister) she has found her stride doing exactly what she loves.

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

“While working at an investment bank for six years, I always found myself looking for creative outlets on the side that allowed me to feel fulfilled artistically in a way I did not at my day job. In the evenings and weekends, I poured myself into photography, improving my skills and capturing the things I loved — fashion, design, and my baby once he was born! After I decorated my son’s nursery, I posted the photos of the room on Instagram and they started appearing around the web and picking up traction on Pinterest. I received questions every day about where I purchased this or that! It was at that point I took the plunge to create a website where I could write longer-form articles from time to time when I wanted to go more in-depth on a topic, and I started with a write-up linking everything I sourced for Peter’s nursery. I have been blown away by all that has happened since then, the opportunities that have come my way, and the brands I have been able to work with. It has only been a year and a half, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!”

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

It is fitting that she shares her designs with followers from around the world, as she had derived much inspiration from her experiences living abroad. “I grew up all over the world, from a colonial black-and-white bungalow in Singapore as a child to a townhouse in London as a teenager. My mother always decorated our homes in a way that was true to the style of the location and filled with locally sourced antiques. The same can be said of the farmhouse she renovated in Provence where we spend much of our time these days. I am definitely inspired by all of the places where we lived and traveled and have bits and pieces of each in my current home. But I have also strived to remain true to the spirit of Connecticut and keep that traditional American style in the way I decorate here. It’s wonderful that classic things like chinoiserie wallpaper, blue-and-white porcelain and the like are having a “moment” (I dislike the term “grandmillennial,” but I guess that’s what we are calling it). So it’s fun to lean into those trends that feel fresh once again, while not veering too far from the way someone would have decorated a home in Connecticut for decades.”

Photo by: Samantha Varvel

When she is not creating inspiration for those who follow her journey online, she often finds herself inspired by others online as well. “It’s amazing that with places like Instagram, we have endless daily design inspiration at our fingertips. I am absolutely inspired by the many designers I follow there — from Mark Sikes to Sarah Bartholomew, Ariel Okin, Clary Bosbyshell, Amy Berry, Hillary Taylor, Paloma Contrera and many others. This has been a more recent source of inspiration, though I would say the countries and homes where I grew up are the roots and anchor of my inspiration!”

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

Though she enjoys, and is inspired by others, she credits real life experience for giving her the push to go bold, both in her life and in her designs. “I think a theme I’ve learned that transverses both decorating my home and working on my website would be that it pays to be bold! It is easier to play it “safe,” and for example, shy away from choosing a colorful wallpaper or stay at the job you’ve been with for years, all out of fear of taking a big risk. In both areas of my life I’ve found that taking the plunge, going with your gut, and making a splash will always pay off! You may make a few mistakes along the way, but in my opinion it will be better than regretting a “boring” life or a “generic” home. In short, I’ve learned staying true to my own style and following what I love is always worth it.”

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

She takes this bold and brave attitude when working on her home once her children were born. “I decided early on that I would not let having children deter me from going all-out when decorating my home! I do not get too fussed about marks and stains — they’re all just a sign that a growing family lives here! Our couches are cream, our dining room chairs are upholstered in silk, and I just choose not to worry so much. Plus I have some great stain removing products that come through for me every time! (Almost every time). I do make sure to keep pretty breakables out of the way of little hands — we were lucky that our living room already had built-ins that allow for toys to be hidden within cabinets down below, and for my antique French porcelain to be displayed out of reach of the little ones up above.”

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

When she isn’t working on her own home, she can be found working with her mother and sister running their boutique, the Provence Poiriers Boutique, where they bring to market their favorite pieces sourced from the South of France, a place near and dear to the family and sell specialty pieces they themselves have designed for the home and to wear using French fabrics.

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

Recently she participated in the Schumacher Blue and White Challenge with gorgeous results. “The challenge was to choose wallpaper and/or fabrics from Schumacher’s Blue Rhapsody Collection to decorate a room of my choice. We hadn’t done anything in our dining room and I thought it would be perfect for this project. By the time we were given all the details for the challenge, we had two months to complete the room! It was a bit of a mad dash, but we are so happy with how it turned out; it is now such a lovely space for all of our little family’s special occasions! You can read more about the process and sources on my website! I have been blown away by all of the exciting opportunities that have come my way since I started my website. Being invited by Tori Mellott of Schumacher to participate in this challenge has probably been the biggest honor so far!”

Photo by: Erin Kestenbaum (@erinkestenbaum)

Photos Courtesy of Samantha Varvel / Text by Liana Hayles Newton

 

Check out Samantha’s website Samantha Varvel 

and Instagram account for more design inspiration.

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TLV is about sharing, supporting and discovering all that's great about the community we live in. We strive to inspire, enlighten and sometimes entertain. Our team of tastemakers are mothers, wives, sisters and friends, and together we share our musings about love, life and home.
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