We’re beyond excited to debut the next installment of our Style Spotlight series! Here, we tap into some of our favorite design world friends, from bloggers to interior designers, to celebrate their singular style, take a peek inside their spaces, and see which rugs they’re coveting right now—all with the goal of inspiring you to create a home you love.
So, say hello to our latest Spotlight feature: Erin Conway of hit Instagram and blog Kismet House! Based in Northern California, Erin’s style is a little bit classic, a little bit modern, and infused with a hint of West Coast cool—AKA a look that has us double-tapping with every photo and project she posts!
We’re so thrilled to have Erin sharing her beautiful home, words of wisdom, and beyond fabulous rug picks with us—and know you’ll find them just as inspiring as we do.
Tell us about Kismet House!
I started posting on social media to share my love of design and design capabilities to get access to potential clients, because I had moved from Fresno to the coast and I didn’t know anyone. I had done other people’s spaces in the town prior through word of mouth. But no one knew me here. So I created the account to hopefully open that door.
At the time, we were in a rental and I was just decorating and redecorating spaces in there. Then we purchased a 1970s fixer-upper. I started documenting the revival of it. And that amassed the following that we have now, people being really interested in the renovation and the makeovers. It turned into something completely different. It went from design for clients to recreating and reimagining spaces in our home. It’s been a really fun ride. Totally took a turn I wasn’t expecting. But we love it.
We named the house “Kismet” when we purchased it back in 2016 because of how it came to be—the whole process of how we got it, how we beat out the other competition. It was very serendipitous. It really shouldn’t have gone to us. The stars had all aligned for us to get this house, so we named it Kismet. Then we named the business after the house.
How do you describe your personal style? And how is that reflected in your home?
It’s kind of ever-changing. But currently I call it collected transitional. Transitional is a blend of modern and traditional. And collected because I like to pair things that I’ve thrifted, found, or have been handed down with brand new pieces. There’s nods to Art Deco and “grandmillenial” style and all kinds of different things mixed in. It would have a mile long name if I didn’t narrow it down.
What’s one design “rule” you always follow?
As far as a rule that I always follow, it’s actually based on rugs. I think rugs are super, super critical to a design. Having the right size rug is a tried-and-true thing I stick to, whether in my home or someone else’s.
What’s the key to creating a home you love?
You need to really understand your personal style before you get into decorating your space. Take the time to educate yourself on what the different styles are. Take the time to pin things and really be your own style detective and figure out what you’re truly drawn to—don’t be swayed by just trends. Very often people will see something that they love online, recreate a version of it in their home, and they’ll say, “This doesn’t feel right, I’m not doing it right.” And in reality, they’re doing it right, they’re executing it perfectly, it’s just not their true personal style, so it doesn’t feel right in their home.
How has motherhood influenced how you design and think about your home?
Things need to be comfortable. It’s not hard to do in this day and age—companies are really incredible about making comfortable and durable pieces that can hold up to a family and are also really stylish. You have to ask yourself, “How are we actually going to use this room?” and not just do something because it will be cute. Function has to come first.
How did you get into interior design? Any advice for people who are passionate about design, but don’t know where to start?
My mom was really into design. So I grew up in a house where things were very well-designed. She was super into trends. She was published in magazines. I would go shopping with her and help her style spaces from the time I was around ten years old. I’m one of six children, and I was the one who got bit by that bug. It just never stopped.
From the time I left home, even with the room I was renting in college, I wanted to make where I lived feel well-designed. I wasn’t going to school for design. People would come hang out at the apartment in the house we were renting, and they were like, “Oh my gosh, did you do this yourself? Did your mom help you with this?” And then they would ask me to help them. And it slowly turned more into that.
For people who are starting out that aren’t with a firm or don’t have a design degree, I would recommend letting your friends see your spaces. If a friend is struggling with a space, invite them over to get the bug in their ear that you do this, and that you want to help them. Or do e-design, which is great in this day and age. If you’re using a social channel, reach out to people and make them a moodboard. You have to get yourself out there and let people know that this is what you’re doing. Friends and family are a great place to start.
Let’s talk rugs! What do you look for when choosing a rug?
When I’m looking for a rug, it depends on the house and space it’s going into. Is it a high traffic area, are there kids and dogs? And in that case, I look for things that are easy to clean and where the price point is reasonable. Because if it’s going to be something where if it doesn’t stand the test of time, you don’t want to break the bank to replace it. Also, something that has a lot of pattern to it in the sense that it’s forgiving if there are smudges or stains or something like that.
Another thing I look for is for rugs that don’t have center medallions. While I do love them—I think they’re beautiful—they tend to dictate your furniture placement. Because if your coffee table is not on the center medallion, it can make things look off-center or uneven. I feel like unless you have a symmetrical room, they pull your eye toward the medallion and make your room feel slightly off.
What do you feel like rugs do for a room?
I think rugs completely change a space. You can totally change the entire feeling of a room by switching out the rug. They can make it feel really warm and cozy, they can make it feel light and airy—they are a very powerful part of the room.
Choosing the right rug can feel like a big decision! What advice do you have for picking out the perfect style and size?
As far as choosing a size, there is a lot of information available out there. Knowing the right size for your space is a big deal. But I also always say to take the time to go on Pinterest or Instagram and save images of rooms where you really love the rug. Then go back and look at those images as a whole, and see what the common denominators are. Are you always drawn to rugs in a certain color family? Are you drawn to the same rug over and over and not realizing it? Take the time to see what you’re loving.
At what point in the design process do you usually select a rug?
I think that you should start with the rug, before you build the room. I think the rug will help dictate those things. But if you have already built out the room, I think you should look at what your color story is in the room and find a rug that compliments that color scheme, so it blends and doesn’t feel invasive.
Do you have any favorite types of rugs?
I like flatweaves. I like a thinner pile just because I think a super thick one can start to look matted down. A low-pile rug is the way to go. They look really clean and pretty. I love rugs that have a ton of pattern and color, and rugs that have distressing to them, where there’s variation in tones. I think they’re more interesting that way, when they have that vintage feel.
What’s your favorite city to travel for design inspiration?
It’s not far away, but I go there often. Carmel-by-the-Sea is the town next door. It’s so charming. There’s so much cool architecture. It’s a really beautiful, inspiring little town. It feels like a fairy tale.
If you could live in any movie or tv show set, what would it be?
The very first thing that comes to mind is the house in the Hamptons from Something’s Gotta Give. I’d move right in and be good to go.
Who are you favorite follows on Instagram?
I love following Amber Interiors. Her design style is impeccable, and she’s so impressive. I also really like following Orlando Soria. He’s a riot, I love his personality, and he’s always pushing the envelope with design so I feel like I learn a lot from him. In the DIY space, I really love I Spy DIY, because she does so many different houses. She has AirBnbs and flip properties. Her style carries through all of them, but there’s a little spin where it’s slightly different from the next.
Design pet peeve? Design guilty pleasure?
My design pet peeve is a rug that’s too small. A “coffee table island” is what I call it. When you have a rug that’s in, say, a 5×7 in a space that needs an 8×10 or a 9×12, and none of the legs of your furniture are touching it so your coffee table is just floating on top of it. It drives me crazy. I’ve seen it done in a cool way with a vintage rug, but in general it bugs me.
For guilty pleasure, I am an accent chair addict. I’m always looking at them, I’m always wanting to change them out. It drives my husband up the walls. He’s like, “These are so comfortable, leave them alone!”