Some people are just born with great style, and as soon as you meet stylist Natalie Nassar, you’ll immediately see that’s she one of those people. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Natalie for years. First as an in-house stylist and now as a freelance stylist, Natalie makes sure every detail of our seasonal rooms are perfect. So we weren’t surprised to find that she designed the Atlanta home she shares with her husband and daughter Noura with the same care.
Ballard Designs: There’s an immediate warmth when we step into your home. How do you create that warm feeling with furniture pieces and accessories?
Natalie Nassar: I really like to mix different styles of furniture and accessories. I have a lot of mid century modern things, antiques, classic pieces and global looking pieces. I have found that I like the mix because it makes my home feel more collected and not so stale. Plus it just makes things less boring and more interesting. I also like to use cacti and succulents to warm up my spaces. It’s an easy and non-expensive fix to adding green and life to your home. Cacti and succulents are very easy to take care of. They need a little water and a good amount of sunlight. To me they have more of a modern look and I have a lot of them throughout the house!
BD: So many people struggle with making their home both stylish AND functional for their busy families. You seem to have struck that perfect balance! How has your home changed since your 18-month old Noura has joined the family?
NN: I have tried to keep the house in the same state that it was pre-Noura with just some alterations. Of course you have to baby-proof once they start to move about but there are a few little adjustments I have made for organization and ease for her and me. I am naturally a very neat and organized person but once Noura came into our lives a lot of that went out the window! I had to learn to relax and realize that things can’t be perfect all the time in the house. Usually the house is a wreck until we put her to sleep at night and then I straighten up. I find that cleaning up at the end of the day De-clutters my brain and refreshes the space for the next day to begin.
1. Baskets are key! I have 2 large baskets from ikea that look great and hold a lot of toys. Makes for easy clean up to throw toys into baskets at the end of day.
2. If you’re like us, furnishing your home seems like a constant thing so make sure you’re making smart purchasing decisions. When choosing upholstery, go for something not too light in color and that is durable. I know Ballard offers a lot of great outdoor fabric options that don’t even look outdoor. These fabrics hold up well to stains and are great for high traffic areas. Also Scotchgard your new pieces! For picking coffee tables, I recommend choosing things that don’t have sharp corners. Our coffee table is not an upholstered ottoman but there are no sharp edges to it.
3. Choose a pretty throw or blanket to cover up the seat cushions on your couch. We are always on the couch with snacks or crayons or things that can be messy which is just real life- a pretty covering is great because it looks good/can add color and style and protects your couch!
BD: Do you approach decorating differently now that you have a toddler and a newborn on the way?
NN: I would say I do and I don’t. My style will always stay consistent and I will always find a way to make whatever space I am working on work for me and the kids! Child locks on cabinets are absolutely necessary, and make sure that anything low is safe to grab.
BD: Let’s talk about your camel obsession. They pop up all around your house, and you’ve even used one as the logo for your design business, Natalie Nassar Designs.
NN: Yes I love camels! I found a camel pendant charm in my mom’s jewelry box years ago and found out it belonged to my grandmother. I wear it all the time, and since then I’ve become obsessed with them. I collect them in different forms. They’re kind of a theme in Noura’s room.
BD: You mentioned in our podcast episode that you typically choose more neutral colors for your large furniture pieces so that they’re more versatile long term. How often do you move things around or switch up accessories?
NN: I personally like to choose my big pieces in neural colors. If you ever want to move pieces around, it makes it easier. I always keep in mind that we might move one day. Of course, I move accessories around all the time. It freshens things up and makes things look new and different. I change the pillows and textiles out on the couches and swap bedding probably once a year. It really can make a difference!
BD: It seems like there’s no space in your home that’s too small to be styled or given proper attention. What are your strategies for giving mundane or functional areas personality?
NN: As I mentioned before adding plants like cacti and succulents really helps a space. Green life can change everything! Also I use a lot of trays and containers to wrangle accessories or functional things in. For example, I keep my kitchen scrub brushes in a cylindrical vase and my soaps are sitting on a tray so it looks neat. I love to use different decorative bowls for accessories and for functional use.
BD: You obviously love to mix styles and periods together. When you’re pulling two seemingly different items into the same room, how can you be sure they’ll feel harmonious?
NN: I’m pretty decisive when it comes to picking new things out for my home. I use my phone to take pictures of items I’m considering constantly and then look at it simultaneously in the room. Sometimes it’s hard if purchasing something online because colors can vary, so getting swatches or looking at an item in person is important if you can. Generally, if you like the item and you continue to mix a couple different styles into your home it will start to meld together. Just try to keep the same mix going and it will work. A color way helps everything feel cohesive.
BD: Tell us about the gorgeous wooden shelves throughout your home. We hear your dad built these for you?
NN: My dad Joe Kriss has been a woodworker since as long as I can remember. He picked it up from his father when he was young. Since he’s retired, he has started his own business woodworking making pieces such as shelves, dining tables, coffee tables and consoles. Of course I have put him to work! I thought about what I wanted in my butler’s pantry for a couple of months and drew out a plan for him. The space was just bare walls so I knew there was great potential for it. I think it was originally supposed to be a small little office space but for me I needed the extra storage for platters and serveware. His execution was perfect, and I love it! He also did our breakfast table and the countertops on either side of our fireplace. I love the mix of dark wood, white and black and this is a reoccurring theme throughout the house. He is extremely talented and a perfectionist. He can do anything custom made!
BD: Your daughters’ nurseries are so sweet. Where did you start when decorating their rooms from scratch?
NN: I wanted Noura’s nursery to be very calm and serene. I started with the gold shag rug and the two white bookcases on either side of her crib. From there I built around it, picking the neutral slipcovered fabric on the rocker and ottoman. I wanted to keep it to gray, white, and golds. As she grows up, I know she’ll have more of an opinion about her room, so all of these neutral pieces can carry forward!
For baby girl Camille’s room, I found the rug at first and built from there. I wanted a little bit more of a pop of color but kept the rest of the room neutral.
For both rooms, I kept in mind that one day we might end up with a boy, so I wanted pieces to be versatile. Neither of the cribs are gender specific, nor are the rocking chairs in both rooms. Making smart purchasing decisions like that will make for easy room design in the future, no matter how our family grows!
BD: On the podcast, we talked about how a budget can be the biggest road block for people in decorating their homes. Where do you like to save money in your budget, and which areas do you prefer to splurge?
NN: I splurge on the big pieces like upholstery and casegoods. If you buy a big piece that is not good quality I have found that you will be kicking yourself in a few short years when it has to be replaced because it just didn’t hold up. I am thrifty when it comes to accessories. Ikea and Homegoods are my go-to stores for smaller accessory items. You just have to be focused for what you are looking for! I love going to thrift stores and antique stores/markets for art which is much cheaper usually.
Be sure to listen to our podcast episode with Natalie to hear even more about her home, and of course subscribe in iTunes or anywhere you listen to podcasts! Or listen to all of our previous episodes here.
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