Amazing Abbey

Abbey Chiavario

Abbey Chiavario

Meet my amazing friend Abbey! She is wonderfully artistic soul. Her passion is bringing great design to life through her paint brushes, creativity and hard work!

Mural on the Diningroom Wall

Mural on the Diningroom Wall

The first image that caught my eye on Abbey’s IG feed was this mural she painted on the wall of her Diningroom in her Nashville, TN home that she shares with her husband Jake, their mini Australian shepherd Jet and their rescue cat Gracie.

The Newly Installed Backsplash adds much wanted color to the Kitchen.

The Newly Installed Backsplash adds much wanted color to the Kitchen.

She hails from Yorkville, IL. located in the suburbs of Chicago. She’s part of a big, loud family and counts herself lucky to have two parents that are still married and very much in love. Her parents are an incredible source of love and support for her and her three siblings. She shared that in 2006, right around the same time as the recession, her Father was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that acts similarly to Leukemia and he had to have open-heart surgery and couldn’t work for six months. The second child of four Abbey looks to older brother Adam when she wants to vent, she goes to her sister Anna when she needs a laugh and her youngest sister Amy is the go to when she needs a hug!

“I didn’t realize how rare these relationships were until I was older. I am so absolutely freaking blessed with the family I have.”

Master Bedroom Corner

Master Bedroom Corner

Abbey and Jake met through mutual friends at the tender age of 11. She clearly remembers holding his hand in a hammock in her best friends backyard. They both grew up and grew apart. When Abbey was 18 she moved to Chicago and they rekindled their friendship; she was already in the midst of a serious relationship. As she and Jake grew closer she started the inevitable journey out of one relationship and into another; breaking it off with her boyfriend and kissing Jake in a span of two days. They tied not knot at the ripe old age of 21!

“I like to follow my gut, and it has yet to fail me.”

They bought their first house on Nashville’s south side in 2014 and flipped it - selling in 2016 for 100% profit! She shares they were very fortunate in so many ways with regards to that experience - they had support of their families and they bought at at great time in the Market but, it all boils down to working hard, learning a lot and saving as much money as possible.

They moved on to their current home after selling the flip. You can see the way it looked when they bought in below right it was a 1960s/80s renovated gem. They have spent much of the last three years renovating it themselves - everything from electrical to landscaping and design has been their doing.

Abbey told me that their current home has brought her so much joy. While it’s not their dream home (that’s a cabin in the woods somewhere) creating this with her best friend has been the greatest joy of her life. Since they flipped their previous house they didn’t put their own stamp on it. This home is another story completely - they have moved from space to space redoing and tweaking. The mural, the paint, the backsplash, the tiling on the front stoop and new door and the landscaping. They are beyond proud live in something they have created and is so uniquely their vision. It feels like home to she and Jake -

“Home is a feeling, not a place, but I mean... this place and this person and the animals inside of it makes me feel like I’m home.”

Abbey told me she studied creative writing with a goal of being a poet and writer. She attended school for two years before dropping out - she befriended one of her professors and she sat Abbey down one day and dropped a bomb informing her that she didn’t need a degree to do the things she wanted to do.

“No adult had ever told me I could leave school. School was the thing you did - you go, you graduate, you get a job. She rocked my world and changed my life. I wasted no time and left school that semester.”

After dropping out, she did freelance makeup for a few years while also working at Sephora. She felt liberated and she flourished.

“I could be creative and help make people feel happy. The combination was intoxicating.”

Livingroom - I love the Art ledge!

Livingroom - I love the Art ledge!

I asked Abbey to share how she got into design. I asked if she read magazines or designed spaces when she was growing up.

“I didn’t and still don’t read design magazines. We were lower-middle class growing up and a magazine subscription was a luxury we couldn’t afford. Interior design is always been something I gravitated towards but didn’t pursue because, in my head, it required a degree I didn’t have.”

As a kiddo Abbey would lock herself in her bedroom and just create artwork for hours on end. As she got older, her Mother let her paint on her bedroom walls. Her first mural was a giant purple thistle with tons of greenery. She spent the money made waitressing at a local restaurant on car insurance and gas - anything leftover went to paint, paintbrushes and canvases.

“When I went away to college, I was so broke. I would frequently get low-balance alerts on my phone, but as soon as the money hit on payday, you bet my ass was in-line at Michael’s waiting to pay for art supplies. They were and are as vital to me as my groceries and rent.”

She and Jake kept their first house neutral and she told me they painted it so many shades of grey - they nicknamed it “the fifty shades of grey” house. It wasn’t until they moved into their current home that Abbey started thinking about design - experimented with colors, re-arranged furnishing and whole rooms - rethinking their functions. She fell in love with interiors during this process. She shared she woke up energized and would go to bed at night feeling the same - all because of the way the house made her feel This was a new thing for her and she couldn’t get enough.

Jet enjoying the newly renovated stoop

Jet enjoying the newly renovated stoop

“Initially, I would document our process on my personal Instagram account and much to my surprise, it garnered a lot of praise. I had never in my life thought that something I would create, whether a room or a painting, would beget such a positive reaction.”

In January Abbey launched an Instagram account solely devoted to their home.

Abbey Chiavario

I inquired what her plans were for the rest of 2019.

“Our realtor Mark (who is now a friend and an absolutely wonderful man) contacted me recently asking if I was planning on getting into interior design as a profession. - The day before, I’d been reading You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, in which she outlines a path of success through what is basically trusting your gut. In this book, Sincero discusses at length the powerful nature of speaking your goals into the universe and the power of positive energy -- good energy begets good energy. I had tried this and had literally spoken I will become a creative professional into the universe and was met with a proposition: Mark wanted to help me. He said that he saw my potential and my talent and wanted to see me succeed.”

Abbey told me that she is taking this torch while it’s lit and going to run as far as she can with it. She went on to say:

“I’m not entirely certain where it will go, but I think I’m going to start a blog, do some staging jobs for realtors and learn as much as I can about interior design and go from there. It all feels so right.

Abbey’s etsy shop - she has the most fun prints to download!

Abbey’s etsy shop - she has the most fun prints to download!

As I hit publish Abbey has been redesigning her Diningroom’s mural. Her original was inspired by another. This time she started from scratch. See the below images of the process and the new final View! You really need to click on her IG feed and give this lady a follow her stories are wonderful!

Newly Unvailed Mural

Newly Unvailed Mural

Friends I know whatever this marvelous human puts her mind to - she will be successful! I am so ready to cheer her on! It’s at times like this that I want to shout to the world how awesome Instagram is… otherwise how would - I - a Mom, Stylist and Blogger from New Jersey have “met” Abbey a 20 something from Nashville? Abbey is truly gifted - a women who stimulates others through her original vision. She has a deep grounded knowledge of people and character - we have shared profound conversations about Women’s Rights and Literature… I’m never shy about voice messaging people! (golly I want a podcast - but, I digress) I clearly remember standing in the Chalet kitchen while voice messaging and texting Abbey - we chatted for quiet a while... I appreciate her friendship and meeting her has broadened my world.

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Til the next time please pop over and give Abbey a follow on IG - she hosts a great Tag #girlsjustwanttodiy and check out her Etsy Shop!

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Chalet Design

May 2019

May 2019

In January I shared a piece Design Shift where I mapped out how I got to our new Crate and Barrel Couch and the evolution of the changes that have taken place in the Chalet decor since last summer. I followed up with Inspirational Images sharing images of spaces and designers who were inspiring me in the direction of my rug search.

Today I’m wrapping up this conversation. If you follow along on IG than some of these changes aren’t new but, let’s dive into the final result anyway…how I got where I am today June 12th, 2019.

September 2018

September 2018

Here’s a bit of the backstory if you’re unfamiliar - So last summer - when no amount of pillow swapping would cure my angst about the decor in the Chalet. I pulled the trigger with my husband’s blessing and ordered a new couch. I felt the taupe theme that was in our livingroom for 10 years had to go.

Here’s what the space looked like last fall.

I ordered the couch and found my round coffee table at Home Sense and I was off to the races my friends!

October 2018

October 2018

Once I had the coffee table and couch I worked my way around the Chalet refining book piles, editing picture frames and in general making it tighter. Layered is great but, messy and unfocused is not. When I got to lighting - I adding a new drum shade to the vintage Chinese lamp - a new smaller more modern lamp for the black Chinese cabinet and I went mid-century modern with the set of green ceramic for the diningroom - all purchased at Home Sense. I lessened the amount of decor on the mantel - limiting them to one side and focusing on a sole piece of art by Allison Ford on the other. I made pillow covers - you can spy one on the leather chair above. Then we moved some chairs around between the porch and the livingroom.

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While trying to figure out the rugs - as you read in Artistic Artery - I pulled all the art down and repainted our Hall Behr Paint Pink Prism. Our Bedroom is also Pink - I love pink - to me it’s a neutral. It makes everyone happy who sees it. I also lessened the approach when I rehung the art - taking my time to focus on a portrait gallery - I put some art away.

The process of finding new rugs took about 6 months. I looked and looked - I vacillated over the design direction. As is my curse I like so many styles. Our old rugs were Pottery Barn - and to span the challenging length and width of the Chalet livingroom and den area - 10 x 24 - I had previously gone with 3 rugs. The Images above show the progression of the Rug hunt. Top left was a Crate Kids design I tried to order but, it was Sold Out! It still makes me cringe! Then I decided to shift my focus to a layered look ordering the top middle geometric design from Rugs USA - I thought I would layer a rug I have over it - they were delivered all the furniture was moved but, the moment Steven started rolling out the rug I said “Stop it’s bringing on a Vertigo Episode” so back they went and the hunt continued. Finally I ended up at my local Crate and Barrel store (I really am a big fan of this brand -Hello Brand Ambassadorship anyone? my dining table and glass door cabinets in the diningroom are from Crate) there I bought three Baxter Rugs a 5x8, a 8x10 and a 6x9. They are made of New Zealand Wool and have shed little to none. I’m very pleased.

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I completely restyled the little spot in the diningroom last month. I love it now! I still needed to change the shade to a modern drum shade - it took a while to find just the right one. Many shades were either too small or too large. I just picked up the pretty patterned number below on Monday at my local At Home store - while I was there working with a client.

June 2019

June 2019

June 2019

June 2019

Will I say that I’m done… NO… I still think I may want to add a layering rug under the coffee table to make the room pop more. I would love more pattern; recently I added Bessie to the wall, more books and collections to the Coffee Table and here we are. The design scheme is more streamlined and I’m pleased… I no longer think my style is Cacophony of Crap! I think my style has traditional elements with a bit of Modern, Chinoiserie and Vintage thrown in. I’d label it:

Traditional Mix.


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Til next time!

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Artistic Artery

I ‘m SO very happy with the design changes we made to the Chalet’s Hall.

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Let’s remember what the space looked like… We enjoyed the Benjamin Moore Hawthorn Yellow for 10 years but, it was time for a change.

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Everyone who views this understands why my signature tag on IG is SayNoToEmptyWalls and my second IG feed bears that same handle @saynotoemptywalls.

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Pink was first used as a color name in the late 17th century. It is the color most often associated with charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, childhood, femininity and romance.

Although this was my project everyone got involved. Liam helped from the first trip to Home Depot for swatches to the final paint purchase Pink Prism and you can see he even did a bit of painting! After I spent two weeks cutting in around all the windows and many doors - Steven took pity on me and rolled the paint.

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This lovely Egyptian Lady was the first piece I rehung. If you don’t think light plays with wall color… just look - it reads as two different shades. From here I moved around the space towards the stairs - rehanging the local history images and for the main stair wall I decided on a portrait gallery.

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I was restrained as I worked my way around. I was determined to have it be purposeful and not hodgepodge. The Man With The Golden Helmet - a copy on canvas of the Rembrandt is always a focal point and he went right back on the same nail he was hung on before.

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If you’re not familiar with the Chalet’s architecture - we have a center chimney which means we have two hallways upstairs around that chimney. The first has entrances to the bath, linen closet and L’s room - and here on this side we have this hall to the master. I left this space blank for a few weeks. I mean come on .. I am sooo in love with this color and I also needed to give myself time to map out the installation.

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I knew this fine lady Camille (Camille Doncieux (1847 - 1879) the first wife of Claude Monet and the subject of - La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume) 1876, was coming out of storage to be placed in the center and that everything would radiate from her. - The original work is on display in Lorna and Robert Rosenberg Gallery #252 in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. A dear friend was there recently and sent me a picture of the original. (thanks so much Alison!)

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Again, I was taking my time - Mrs. Monet sat here alone for well over a week… I had to feel what it would be. It had to evolve. I didn’t want to rush the process and be unhappy in the end.

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I LOVE how it turned out. What seemed like such a large area was quickly filled but, I’ve managed to squeeze in 2 small pieces since this image was taken.

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Til next time - go grab a hammer and hang up some art or paint a space something unexpected!

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