Q&A with Dream Weaver Erin Barrett
Find out how this stylemaker stays fresh and inspired in her home studio.
Warm, bright, and oh-so-modern, September Stylemaker Erin Barrett's handwoven tapestries and textiles—sold through her company, Sunwoven Studio—add instant coziness to any space. The busy fiber artist works out of her home studio in Charleston, SC, and she says it seems the interest in homemade goods just keeps growing and growing. It's a good thing, because this sunny entrepreneur with a distinctly NorCal vibe but Midwestern roots has been hard at work. In the September issue, we took a tour of her '70s fixer-upper ranch, which she shares with her husband, Creighton (drummer for Band of Horses), their two young children, and their two doggos. Here, we sit down with Erin to get a few more insights into her decorating style and the inspiration behind her work.
You've shared before that you're a self-taught weaver. How'd you make the jump to starting your own business? How'd you get the guts?
By not worrying about what other people thought about what I was making or doing, but doing it because I love it and I am passionate about it. Now, I define my business as creating handwoven tapestries and textiles for the home. With a side of passion for interior decor.
Your home is such an idyllic place to have a studio. What's it like to work from home? What do you like best about it?
I love that I get to do something that I am passionate about, on my own schedule, while still allowing me to spend most of the day with my children.
What's your favorite thing about being your own boss?
Allowing myself to work when I feel inspired and not living by someone else's schedule.
And how about your least favorite part of the job?
The day-to-day business side of creating art.
I've heard a lot of people with home offices say they appreciate maintaining a distinction between their home areas and their workspace. Did you deliberately style your home in this way?
Although my office space is a part of the house itself, the room has a completely different vibe being that it's bright and colorful with a lot of positive energy.
I love how you use color in your work. What do you see coming down the road in terms of color trends? How much longer do you think "Millennial pink" can hang on? What's the Sunwoven Studio color of the year going to be in 2018?
I don't see it so much as being one particular color, but the mixing of unlikely color combinations that can be really pleasing to the eye. Right now, my favorite two colors to work with are blush and rust. The juxtaposition of the two make for a really lovely pair.
What do you do if you're feeling stuck creatively? How do you get over that hump?
If I'm ever in a rut creatively, I always try to take a step back and start clean with a fresh perspective and a new idea. First things first—I take a full day off work. Because I work from home, I always find myself doing some kind of work every day, night, and weekend. That can cause a burnout really quickly. Lately, I have made a two-mile jog a part of my morning routine. This helps not only to clear my mind, but it also gives me physical energy to get through a long day with my work and two small children.
Your house is from the '70s. What elements of that architecture did you embrace? What do you think you did to make it feel contemporary while embracing the groovy vibe?
What initially drew us to the house was actually the layout. Something that my husband always wanted was a "sunken" living room, which this house just so happens to have. We love how when you walk through the front doors, you immediately enter the family room, the heart of the home. The ranch style allows for all of our bedrooms to be near each other and away from both of our studios.
What's your favorite part of the house?
We have only been here for a year and a half, so I feel like we are still getting to know the house and learning how to make the best of each room. Right now, during the summer months, the deck and backyard have been a favorite for the entire family. It is completely private, overlooks a lake, and there is plenty of room for the kids to enjoy all of their summer backyard activities.
It looks like you use yellow quite a bit in your house—is that a big source of inspiration for you?
Yellow represents positivity and happiness, so you will always see some shade of yellow make an appearance at least once in every room in our house.
Do you have a favorite decorating trick, or a piece of decorating advice?
Arranging rugs and various pieces of furniture at an angle instead of being straight on or flush against a wall is a classic one. As for advice, just stay true to yourself and pick items that really speak to you and that you love. Don't overthink everything.
On the flip side, are there any decorating "rules" that you think should be broken?
That it's important to stick to one specific aesthetic when decorating. A lot of times it can be really beautiful to mix between different styles of decorating. A favorite thing of mine to do is mix various prints and patterns. The most important rule is to buy things for your house that you really love. I believe that if you always choose what speaks to you, you can't really go wrong. When it comes to mixing between styles, try to keep an open mind and consider options that you maybe wouldn't have considered before. Doing so may open the door to a lot of new design possibilities. Also, don't buy what other people are trying to tell you to buy. Choose things that you really like and things that you can envision in your home long term. It doesn't really matter what style it is; ultimately, if you buy things that you really love, you're coming up with your own aesthetic.
What words do you live by?
Every day brings a fresh start to learn something from someone else and create something new.
See more of Erin's tapestries and textiles at www.sunwovenstudio.com.