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Fieldnotes: CB Chats with Erin Gates

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Fieldnotes: CB Chats with Erin Gates

In the midst of the hardships our world is facing, I have found immense joy in reconnecting with people I haven't spoken to in ages. I was thrilled to catch up with my friend Erin Gates, the visionary behind Erin Gates Design and award-winning design blog Elements of Style. Erin has been extraordinarily supportive of my career journey, and I'm honored to feature her in the first installment of Fieldnotes, our new Journal series devoted to conversations with influential tastemakers. We hope that the diverse perspectives, design tips, and industry insights chronicled in the series will inspire curiosity and delight about your home spaces.

Read on below for Erin's insights into how COVID has changed people's approach to interiors, plus her tips for budgeting and who she loves following on Instagram for design inspiration. 



How do you think this past season at home has changed people’s approach to their interiors?

EG: I think people being forced to stay home has made them notice all the things that don't function well or really bother them about their spaces. I think they now realize how much of an effect their homes have on the ability to work, focus, relax and be comfortable. When we're in and out of our spaces frequently, it can be easy to not notice or ignore all the little things not working for us. This unprecedented time has made people realize just how important the home is.

Photo by Michael J Lee
What, if any, adjustments did you make to your home to make it more functional for your family this spring?
EG: We've certainly become more organized — no more tossing things in a closet and dealing with them later! We've edited down our basement storage, garage, pantry, and closets and had a junk removal service come to finally take away a bunch of the stuff we really didn't need that was clogging up our space. We donated what we could as well. Having more breathing room and being super conscious of exactly what we're bringing into our home has helped us feel more at peace.
What items in your home have brought you the most comfort over the past few months?
EG: Our family room continues to be our little haven- it's bright, sunny, comfy, and where we spend a lot of time together. The big sectional, ample toy storage for Henry's stuff, and our Samsung Frame TV (so pretty) all make us feel happy and allow us to snuggle together and enjoy time as a family. Also, slowly putting together my soon-to-arrive daughter's nursery has helped keep us focused on the joy that still abounds in the world despite all the turmoil.

Photo by Sarah Winchester
We share a love of textiles and bedding. What’s your favorite way to layer a bed for warmer months?
EG: We use a heavier matelassé duvet cover in the winter months, and in the summer we switch back to lighter cotton duvet covers. My husband VEHEMENTLY REFUSES to use a top sheet or any layered bedding, so we keep it simple. I do like to layer LOTS of pillows though, and he can't stop me there! I prefer quilted or heavier textured shams at the back, then matching shams to the duvet in front of those with a decorative lumbar pillow in a great pattern right in front.

Who do you follow on Instagram for inspiration? Is there anyone you have particularly enjoyed following during quarantine?
@stevecordony - his homes are absolutely insane in that laid back yet totally perfect way
@circahouses - nothing I love more than old houses
@heidicallierdesign - she's seriously SO talented
@velvetandlinen - amazing design and mini donkeys, goats and other farm animals? My kind of feed. 
Photo by Michael J. Lee
Any podcasts or books currently exciting you?
EG: When I read, it's usually novels. I need that kind of reading to shut my overactive brain off at night. My recent favorites include The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, and The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley.
Photo by Sarah Winchester
I love your Style Solutions series. What are your favorite resources for affordable decor? What items do you advise clients to splurge on versus choosing a budget-friendly option?
EG: We will always suggest people spend the most on upholstered pieces like sofas. You use them the most and if not of good quality, they will deteriorate quickly, look messy, and be less comfortable. I suggest spending on dining tables and beds as well. Think of the things that get the most physical use day-in and day-out and that is where you need to focus on spending more.
For places to save, consider accent tables, mirrors, throws, sometimes rugs and pillows too (although an argument can be made for investing in a good rug, if you have kids or pets, most likely you should go with something replaceable). For affordable goods we love Pottery Barn, World Market, Target, Homegoods, Etsy (designer pillows much cheaper than retail or custom), IKEA, and CB2!


Photo by Sarah Winchester
Looking ahead, what is your next big home project?
EG: We actually are DONE with our home — there is nothing left to do. So our next big project is looking for a new house! With the new baby coming we want more space and a bigger yard, so come fall we'll be looking actively for a new space (with lots of new projects for me to work on!). [CB: Many congrats and well wishes to Erin as she welcomed a precious daughter, Emma, to the family just a few days ago. We are over the moon for you, Andrew, and Henry!]