Anita Joyce is a self-taught photographer, interior designer, blogger and online entrepreneur who founded cedarhillfarmhouse.com in 2011. Today, that site alone, which is dedicated to French country style, has 80,000 unique visitors per month.
A Quick Q&A about Design
RTR: How can people identify and define their own style?
AJ: I’ve been thinking about that very question as I’ve worked on the book. And the most practical solution I’ve come up with is creating a Pinterest board called “My Style.” The only things you pin on this board are whole rooms that appeal to you. This isn’t the place for paint colors and cute throw pillows. The object of this exercise is to create a collection of rooms that allow you to spot a style pattern or trend. If, as your style emerges, you can put a name to it like “French country” then it will get even easier to define.
RTR: When you’re shopping or treasure hunting how do you decide what to bring home?
AJ: I ask myself three questions: Is this piece speaking to me? Is it my style? Is it something I have to have because it strikes an emotional chord?
Over time, I’ve become less of a bargain shopper. In the beginning, I would buy something because it was a good deal and then try to make it work. I’ve learned that this can actually be more expensive because if you don’t love something you’ll eventually end up replacing it. You spend twice.
These days I spend more to buy what I like so I want to keep it.
RTR: Are there any rules of design that a beginner should consider?
AJ: Everyone has their own sense of style. Some of the most interesting designs come when people break the “rules.” With that said though, there are a few things I think are helpful to keep in mind.
First, if you don’t like a piece of furniture, think about painting it. A coat of paint can change its whole feel and its role in a room.
Second, avoid buying pieces that are too small. When pieces are too small, you end up buying more things and inadvertently creating clutter. I’ve learned that having a few bigger pieces can make a clearer design statement that packs more punch.
Third, edit your rooms. It’s a variation on the too-many-small-pieces theme. Our tendency is too overfill a room because we all like things. I suggest pretending you are selling your house and take out some pieces to create a more open feel that appeals to potential buyers. Temporarily store those items in the garage or somewhere. Live with it a few days. If you like it better, get rid of the pieces.
My goal for my home is to surround myself with fewer pieces that I really love.
Fourth, add a touch of vintage. Vintage pieces add interest and quirk to a room. If you use only new pieces, you run the risk of your house looking like a showroom instead of a home. Vintage pieces have their own personalities that can reflect yours.
Finally, just do it. If you want to decorate your house start somewhere. Pick a room and collect things for it. Buy from places where you can return items. Remember, nothing is permanent. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll learn from your mistakes and keep making it more beautiful over time.
Snapshot of a Book Deal
On Sept. 8, Cedar Fort Publishing will release French Accents: Farmhouse French Style for Today’s Home.
“I decided to write a book, but I couldn’t find an agent, so I shelved it for a while. Then the people at Cedar Fort reached out to me and said, ‘We want you to write book.’ I said, ‘That’s funny because I want to write a book.’
The book, unlike my blog which focuses on individual projects or single focus questions, allowed me tackle ‘whole house’ design from start to finish. If I were undertaking to design an entire house where would I begin? What would my process look like? What are my strategies and tips for each room?
I thought it would be fun. It was, but not as much as I hoped. It turns out that writing a book while you’re writing five blog posts a week is like writing two books at once. Whew! But I got it done and am proud to offer my readers another resource for incorporating French farmhouse style into their lives.” Anita Joyce
“Face-to-Face” on Facebook
“The Internet is constantly changing, and I get fewer comments on my blog posts than I used to, but actually my interaction with my readers has increased. Not too long ago, I launched a Facebook group, Interior Design Forum, which now has 3,000 members and is open to anyone. It’s been the best thing I’ve done.
“It’s actually an interior design forum where people can post questions and photos. Other members can supply answers. It’s tightly controlled to avoid ‘trolls’ criticizing choices and to create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable sharing. It’s a place for people who feel like they want help but don’t want to pay an interior designer. These people are really smart cookies who generate a lot of really good ideas.” Anita Joyce
Home Décor and More at cedarhillfarmhouse.com
Recently, Joyce added an on-line store to cedarhillfarmhouse.com. The inventory includes one-of-a-kind vintage items like grain sacks, silver plate, bottles and linens as well as products that Joyce likes to buy for herself.
“When Elise was born, I dreamed of running a company that could employ her,” Joyce said. “Twenty-two years later I’ve seen a way to do it—and am working to make it happen. It’s a good way to help society understand that Elise and people like her are valuable human beings who deserve respect.”
A New Voice for the Register
Beginning with the Winter issue, Joyce will be adding her voice to the Register as our lifestyle and design columnist.