Design Diary: Girl’s Study by Erin Gates

Elements of Style blogger and interior designer Erin Gates designed this lovely work space for a nine-year-old girl  in Newton, Mass. Gates decorated most of the rooms in the family’s house, which are featured in her book, but recently went back to update this room. I wrote about it in a StyleWatch column for the Boston Globe Magazine, published this past Sunday. More decor details and sourcing links (some of which are StyleCarrot partners) included here. The beautiful photos are by Boston-based photographer Sarah Winchester.


The goal was to create a space sweet enough for a young girl, but modern enough that guests would feel comfortable there (and so she wouldn’t quickly outgrow it). The starting point was the existing purple/grey wall color Benjamin Moore Coastline. The color was a perfect match for the large scale, Arts & Crafts influenced Farrow & Ball Lotus wallpaper, which the client had had her eye on for some time.

A tufted grey velvet daybed from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child anchors the room. She points out, “A daybed is comfortable for reading and doesn’t take up as much room as a bed with a headboard.” (I also like this more streamlined grey velvet daybed from World Market.)

Rather than opting for more obvious silver-toned accents, Gates used gold tones for contrast. Visual Comfort’s French Library wall lamps in antique brass from Circa Lighting provide plenty of reading light and cord covers eliminated the need to hire an electrician to hard wire them.


They found inexpensive butterfly prints, which were under $20 each, on Etsy, which Gates custom framed in gold metal frames. Gates says, “We looked for art in purple tones that we could layer on top of the wallpaper, and these have a nice, girly feel.”

Gates mixed three different pillow patterns against the dramatic pattern of the wallpaper. The European squares are a painterly geometric ikat and the smaller geometric is by Pindler & Pindler. The pairing of these prints provide a nice combination of softness and structure. Kelly Wearstler “Sea Urchin” fabric by Groundworks from Lee Jofa adds an organic element to the mix, while providing some texture.”The secret to mixing,” Gates says, “is to use a monochromatic color palette and play with scale.”


An inexpensive gold side table echoes the finish of the brass sconces. In choosing a table height to work with the swooped arm of the daybed, Gates advises it be somewhere in the middle of the high and low point for ease of use as a nightstand and side table.


It was important that a desk provide enough room for more than one person, so Gates positioned the white lacquer Parsons table from West Elm perpendicular to the wall. The hammered brass table lamp and the gold frame around the linen-covered pinboard from Pavona Interiors on Etsy ties in with the gold accents on the other side of the room.

Gates opted for a grey velvet side chair instead of a rolling desk chair since it would function better on the carpet. The homeowner already owned the purple pagoda pillow from the Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler collection at JCPenney.


The tall and narrow metal bookshelf on casters from CB2 is the perfect dimension for the space between the windows, leaving a bit of breathing room on each side so the curtains don’t bunch up behind it. The family already owned the Eames rocker.

Makkas Drapery Workroom in Framingham, Mass.made the custom ivory and gray linen curtains. (They made the pillow covers too.)  “Custom drapes look so much more finished, so I always advise going custom if it’s in the budget,” says Gates. She opted for a Parisian pleat, which is the only one she uses, preferring the clean lines that are less fussy look than a traditional pleat, which fans out at the top.

Gates hung the curtain rods as high as possible, right under the crown molding, to add height, which is important in rooms with eight- or nine-foot ceilings. As for the length, she says, “I like them to just kiss the floor. Puddled drapes just collect dust.”

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Just In: Fort Point Studio Looking For Creative Tenants

Boston ceramicist (and neighborhood mom/friend) Jill Rosenwald has studio space available for rent. She and her charming husband Lawrence McRae, who’s also a potter, would love to fill the spots with amazing creative/design people.

The airy, all white loft is located in a 10-story warehouse in Boston’s artsy Fort Point neighborhood and available right after Thanksgiving. Jill Rosenwald and her studio space are so fab, they were featured here in the popular career & design blog The Everygirl.

The vacant spaces were occupied by two of my colleagues, photographer Sarah Winchester and interior designer and Elements of Style blogger Erin Gates, both of whom have moved to suburban digs. I’ve been to the studio space and can attest to its inviting aura. But see for yourself. And yes, Jill Rosenwald is as fun and colorful as her pottery! Plus, furry friends are allowed.





Erin Gates Office Space With Jill Rosenwald






Photos by Danielle Moss





Fine Print: Erin Gates’ Elements of Style Book

Erin Gates sent me an advance copy of her new, very first design book, Elements of Style: Designing A Home & A Life. I’ve been browsing through it for the last couple of weeks, thoroughly enjoying the photos of the rooms she decorated for herself and clients, studying her style charts, and catching up on her life. The tone is easy, breezy, much like her blog, with plenty of personal tidbits interwoven through her design adventures and accomplishments.

Erin’s come a long way since I first met her, on assignment for Boston Globe Magazine in early 2009 after she sent me scouting shots of  the place she and Andrew rented in J.P. It landed her on the cover, and it’s still one of my favorite stories, not just because Erin and her house looked amazing (thanks Eric Roth for the excellent photos), but because Erin was full of enthusiasm and money saving tips.

Her blog and business have exploded and her design skills honed, while her excellent attitude and work ethic prevail. Congratulations Erin Gates!


Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life by Erin Gates
Available October 7, 2014 (Simon & Schuster) $22.14

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Photo by Michael Partenio

Erin’s used this buffet over and again. She bought it for $75 at an estate sale and painted the inside turquoise (you can see that iteration in Erin’s place in Jamaica Plain, which I wrote about for Boston Globe Magazine, March 2009.) She went orange for the South End. Now it’s lined with malachite wallpaper.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

This is my favorite room. I’ve long been a sucker for a library dining room with Saarinen table and a fireplace. The sheepskin rugs nestle perfectly into those acrylic chairs from IKEA. The client stuffed the fireplace with little logs, which add some rustic texture; plus the circles are an excellent contrast to the stripes on the rug.

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Photo by Michael Partenio

A sunroom with violet ikat cushions on barley twist chairs and Buddha on custom made brass base.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

Love this cerulean blue wall behind the banquette upholstered in the ever popular Chiang Mai print by Schumacher. Those Cherner chairs work well with the fabric’s twisting design and earthy colors.

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Erin provides some charts with formulas for achieving different styles.

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Erin’s favorite paint colors. You’ll have to buy the book to get the exact names. Ok, I’ll give you one: Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.

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Photo by Michael Partenio

I love how despite the graphic black & white rug and bedding, Erin’s guest room is totally feminine. Pale pink walls (Benjamin Moore Blanched Coral), a starburst mirror, and mirrored side tables will do that. Swiss dots + a boho throw + Nordic rug + Hollywood Regency glam. And somehow it all works.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

This bedroom is interesting too, with its tufted headboard, chocolate brown linens, Asian-themed toile wallpaper and fretwork bookshelves, plus a leopard print bench.

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Photo by Sean Litchfield

Nursery with a black accent wall went viral on Pinterest.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

Oh, this Madeline Weinrib rug again, this time in brown. It seems to work everywhere! (Tip: IKEA makes a black & white version.) I generally don’t like tan stone (only contractors do!) but Erin makes it work in this space where they’re stuck with it.

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 Photo by Sarah Winchester

Erin’s parents Connecticut home. I wrote all about her mom’s garden for Boston Globe Magazine, April 2013.

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Photo by Michael J. Lee

Erin and Andrew Gates with the doggies.


Design Diary: Erin Gates’ Parents’ Connecticut Garden

When I’m looking for specific types homes to pitch to magazines, I send emails to my design contacts. When I’m looking for gardens for the Boston Globe Magazine gardens issue, I expand my reach to friends. Not being what you’d call a green thumb (ha), my landscape design contacts are hardly far and wide. We scout and shoot a year ahead, so if you have New England gardens to suggest, send me snapshots!

This year I wrote about three gardens, including designer/Elements of Style blogger Erin Gates’ parents’ gorgeous garden in rural Connecticut. I was psyched when she sent me photos and that the editors liked them. We loved that her mom works on the entire thing herself, tractor and all. She’s so sweet and humble about it; it’s really beautiful. Erin’s dad designed the house and her mom designs and tends the various gardens and plantings around the property.

The story is called, “Down in the Meadow” if you want to read it. Here are lots of pictures, including ones that weren’t published. All photography by Sarah Winchester.


















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Local Press: Boston Style Bloggers

On Sunday the Boston Globe Magazine included a special Spring Style edition. There’s a spread featuring seven of Boston’s best style bloggers, along with some fun facts about each, including fashion obsessions, favorite places to shop, and style philosophies. The ladies were good sports at the shoot, as we lined them up and posed them this way and that, referencing the iconic Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue covers for ideas on groupings and stances. I think the whole package came out great, and I hope they love it. (Thank you all for your participation, and sorry we had to cut off your shoes!) Below, their names and blogs, plus tidbits we didn’t have room for in the article.

Photo: Mitch Weiss

Martini SeverinBeyond Boston Chic
Marissa BerensonThe Well Appointed Catwalk
Emily GeamonSo Anthro
Courtney MirenziThose Graces
Liana KruppNew Brahmin
Zoe MalliarosFashion is Freedom
Erin GatesElements of Style

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Martini Severin: Look she’s over: Leggings. “They’re a cop out.”
Marissa: Personal style bloggers: “Good looking girls who dress well, but are usually boring.”
Emily: Covets: Burberry rain boots
Courtney: First job: Volunteer for Americorp
Liana: Look she cultivates: Japanese girl working in Paris
Zoe: Good luck charm: Alex & Ani bangles
Erin: Look she’s over: Hipsters wearing fake glasses.

Martini Severin: Naomi Sims, Shala Monroque, her sister Jenny Severin
Marissa: Her mom, a former buyer at Bonwit Teller
Emily: Audrey Hepburn, Kate and Pippa Middleton
Courtney: Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Conrad
Liana: Loulou de la Falaise, Leith Clark, Marilyn Riseman
Zoe: Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Olivia Palermo, Diane von Furstenberg
Erin: Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Gwyneth Paltrow

Martini: Blue Hour, Marian Kihogo, Bella Duafe, Garance Dore, Man Repeller
Marissa: New Brahmin, A Stylized Hysteria, Covetous Creatures
Emily: Cupcakes and Cashmere, Atlantic-Pacific, The Daybook
Courtney: Barbro Andersen, The Beheld, Rookie, Nouveau Cheap
: N’East Style, The Cut
Zoe: Style Activist, Fashion Toast, Fabulous K, Beyond Boston Chic
Erin: Garance Dore, Atlantic-Pacific, The Glamourai, Into the Gloss