On Interior Design & Sources:
1) Tell us about your new book. How did it come together? What was your favorite part of the experience? Do you have a chapter that you love the most?
The book was an amazing experience which journals our first 10 years of designing and creating homes. All the chapters were fun because each photo and story brings back memories (good and bad!), but I think the home in Great Barrington, Mass. will be a lot of reader’s favorite project. Looking back, we have learned so much, yet we are inspired and learning constantly. It keeps us humble and sharp.
2) The pictures filling the staircase wall in your Great Barrington Home are inspiring. Do you have any practical picture hanging and picture arranging advice? Like, what height should pictures be from the rising stairs? What about working with a variety of frames?
The photo wall is an on going process. We are not perfectionists; the frames are different sizes, high and low end, custom and store bought. A couple of tips are to lay the frames out on a floor area first, put the largest photos on top and toward the center, and play around with it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There is nothing a little spackling paste, paint or even another picture can’t hide! Have fun and let it grow.
We have only family on the wall from cousins to great grandparents. It is cool to see the family tree and resemblances. All our photos are black and white. With digital cameras, it is easy to convert your color photos.
3) Rumor has it that your family moves into a house, makes it fabulous, and sells it. If this is true (and I hope it is!), I’d love to know how you pick the area to move to and how you pick the house to buy — how do you spot the “diamond in the rough?”
When looking for a “diamond in the ruff,” look to where the creative community is moving to in your area. They are always the first ones in.
4) Where do you go for inspiration? And what inspires you?
Big Cities inspire us.
5) Spill, please. Where are your favorite flea markets?
Good fleas are hard to find these days. The Paris Flea Market is a place everyone should go at least once in his/her life.
6) Will you please share the source on the amazing rug under those 2 turquoise chairs in your Great Barrington house? How about the source of the turquoise chairs themselves? And also, the source on that amazing Union Jack?
The turquoise chairs were 25 dollars at a tag sale that we refurbished for cheap. The Union Jack is by an amazing artist out of London named Anne Carrington.
7) I love the way you use natural light in your projects. Do you have any advice on bringing natural light into a space that’s lacking in it?
Add high hats for more light.
8) What are your strategies for keeping a home both child and adult friendly?
Reducing clutter is the key to an adult and child friendly house. Be organized and ask yourself if certain things are essential. Keep valuables and art out of reach of the children. Relax, home making should be fun. A well designed and functional house should be just that. Next time your child breaks something, remind yourself that “it’s just stuff.”
9) How about tips for decorating a nursery or child’s room in particular?
Childrens’ rooms and nurseries don’t have to be decorated in a theme. Again, keep the clutter to a minimum: a desk, a bed and a place to play. Children, like adults, don’t need that much. Less is more.
10) Once you’re moved in and settled in a home, how often do you change your decor?
We seem to move before we change our décor. Certain pieces will travel from home-to-home with us and it is fun to incorporate those pieces within a new space or a different aesthetic.
On Work/Life Balance & Parenting:
11) Obviously, you have a busy and full life. What is one thing that you do with your kids that you would not stop doing — no matter what?
12) If the “moving often” rumors are true, how do you create continuity for your family amidst all the change?
We try to create a fun life and solid foundation for our children. Happy parents equal happy children.
13) How do you handle education? Public school? Home school? Tutor? Private school? A combo?
Great question. Our children are all very different; strong students, weak students, both confident and shy, great athletes and weak athletes. With seven, we truly see both ends of the spectrum in many regards. Our children attend private school. My feeling on private is it helps the weaker students or mediocre ones get over the hump. Good public schools work well for stronger students, but my experience has been some students can get lost in the pack at a public school and not receive the attention they deserve.
Robert and I are both liberal thinkers. We feel each child learns differently. The key is to keep your children humble and hungry. I would urge all of your readers to watch the Ted Talks on tedtalks.com (check out the one on education by Sir Ken Robinson).
14) I’ve read you’re big on world travel. How many trips do you take a year and to where? Is every trip a family trip? Do you have a favorite vacation spot to take your kids?
We go to Brazil every year to our home. The kids love the beach and the outdoors which they don’t get as much of living in New York City.
15) I am amazed and inspired by you. How do you manage/juggle the business and the kids?
By running our own company we are able to make our own schedule. It enables us the luxury to schedule our meetings around our children and our family time.
16) Which parts of the day to day (of both the business AND the kids) do you manage yourselves and which parts do you prefer to hire out? Nanny, housekeeper, bookkeeper? Chauffer, stylist, assistant?
We always have at least one baby sitter with us. When Robert and I do get a little time to just the two of us, we need two sitters. We have yet to find anyone to watch all seven. Even Mary Poppins and Nanny Mcphee would not take on that task! Besides that, we have coaches, tutors, sewing teachers, etc. always helping. We are firm believers that it takes a village to raise a child.
17) Many moms seem to be born with “guilt” feelings. Is there any aspect of being a working mother that brings out the guilt for you?
Guilt is a wasted emotion. I have always tried to make and live with my choices. Also, it’s very important that all mothers treat themselves well, no matter how many children they have.
What great responses. A big thanks to Robert & Cortney Novogratz for joining us today. Don’t miss their excellent book.