Take 20% off your first art order with code FIRSTORDER

Free shipping on all orders for a limited time

Free shipping site wide for a limited time

Meet Shellie: Our Spoak Design Challenge Winner

Shellie Brown Kemp is from Jackson, MS and currently resides there with her husband Tyler and 3 year old Zoey (and expecting a baby boy in September!) She is a violinist by trade and currently the concertmaster of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. She also plays for weddings and local concerts. Her husband is a pianist and they play together whenever they can.

1. How would you describe your personal design aesthetic, and how does it influence the choices you make when curating a space?

I am very much inspired by the weird and whimsical. I think a lot of that comes from books, tv, and movies from my childhood, such as Maurice Sendak illustrations, 90s cartoons, and ballet plots and scenery.

Perhaps it has to do with being an Enneagram 4, or perhaps I’m an escapist, but as other-worldly as I can make my surroundings, the happier I am. I love pushing fairytale-like limits of what a space could be and feel like while maintaining comfort and livability. Usually I find that color and pattern support these goals rather than minimalism.

Vintage is a passion of mine that I’ve rediscovered in the world of furniture and art, after loving vintage clothes since I was in highschool. When I approach a new design, I usually start with the piece in question that inspires me most: a cool piece of art, a vintage couch, wallpaper I’ve been drooling over, a fantastic huge rug, or an intriguing color palette.

To sum up my style in a few words: vintage, timeless, collected, saturated, whimsical. 

2. Can you walk us through your thought process when designing this space? What were your main inspirations?

First of all, when I saw this design challenge I was shocked, because I had just been stalking your website and your gorgeous home design on your Instagram AND …my favorite focal point to design is a gallery wall, so I was giddy. Needless to say, the inspiration was already there: your prints and your home design. 

My favorite gallery wall is one where the medium is all the same (all black and white photos, for instance, or in this case: all drawings/sketches on cream or green paper).

The gallery wall came first, because I wanted it to be the main character. Everything else was chosen to support and not take away from it. I have a deep fondness for green carpet and rugs. Since a green floor brings the unexpected whimsy, I went with a toned down color palette (drawn from the gallery wall) and minimal furniture.

Each piece of furniture is from Chairish except for the checkerboard coffee table by Sarah Sherman Samuel to balance the vintage with something modern but timeless. Checkerboard, green carpet, and vintage prints: the dream!

To add the finishing touches, I added something green and alive, but needed it to be weird of course so I found this crazy orange bonsai tree and thought it was so gorgeous. I chose a column instead of a table to place it on because I love Greek inspired things and any old table sounded boring. Curtains were the final piece of the puzzle, like earrings for the room. 

3. How do you believe art contributes to the overall vibe of a room, particularly in the context of a gallery wall?

Art is incredibly personal and adds a lot of inspiration and life to a space. I believe it speaks to you and for you. Adding art to your home that you love adds another layer of being understood in your own home and a dopamine hit: a smile, a giggle, a memory, a sentiment, or just plain inspiration for being a human.

As for a gallery wall, pairing things together that speak to each other is fun for me and adds another layer of "why did she/he choose that for this space" conversation starter. This is why I like to keep the medium similar as I said above, so as to make the subject and overall feel "pop". 

4. What advice would you give to someone who wants to incorporate vintage art prints into their home but is unsure where to start?

I would start at your local antique stores, thrift shops, and estate sales and learn what speaks to you. In the past I never considered much art in my home because I felt I couldn't "afford it", but there is plenty of amazing and affordable art out there, which is why I love second hand and vintage.

I have spent a long time looking at thrift stores, antique stores, and estate sales because it's a great place to look and learn both about the value of art (why it's priced a certain way for instance - is it a reproduction or a signed original?) and what I am drawn to.

What I think I am saying is take your time to notice how you feel when you look at a piece of art and ask why you were drawn to it in the first place, describing it to the best of your ability. Try not to think of what is "right" or what other people would do. Don't limit yourself to 2D art either, anything can be art: I love vintage masks and have a small collection in my home. Sculptures, weird busts, a ceramic foot, all of this is art! 

5. How do you approach selecting the right frame for a piece of art, and what factors do you consider in this decision?

The frame is a part of the art, so I choose a frame to enhance the piece itself, whether that means simple to let the art speak for itself, or fancy and ornate to elevate it.

Sometimes I consider where it's going especially as a gallery wall because I like to use a minimal palette of frames. I usually don't trust myself though, and wait to afford an amazing frame shop such as frameshopusa.com. They always get it right and have amazing customer service. 

6. Can you share a memorable experience or story where art played a significant role in transforming a room or space?

I don't have a first hand experience in mind at the moment, but when I saw Kacey Musgraves' home in Architectural Digest my jaw dropped to the floor at the poolside picture of her with the giant sculpture head. Taking something traditional like that such as a bust, but an oversized one sitting in the middle of a pool patio, to me enhanced the whimsical boho aesthetic of her home by marrying the classical with modern.

I think anything that makes your body and mind respond in a way such as "Whoa, why is that there?" "Where am I?" "What is that...?" In a good way, is a hint that you're making a good art placement decision. I have since added large sculpture head to my unicorn item bucket list! 

7. What advice would you offer to aspiring design enthusiasts who want to hone their skills and create beautiful, personalized living spaces?

I'm flattered by the question because I consider myself to be an aspiring design enthusiast too for me it has been research and constant looking at images and homes (and play around with Spoak!) It is my absolute favorite way to wind down or spend my free time.

I suggest Architectural Digest, Pinterest, Chairish, and favorite Instagram accounts. Pay attention to what makes you stop scrolling, then identify what you like in the photo - is it the color palette? The shape of the furniture? The mix of materials? The contrast in eras? The clean lines or the eclecticism?

Putting it in to practice on Spoak is a risk free way to try and change as much as you want. This way I learn better the recipe of what "looks good" vs what gives me "Disney-trip" level of excitement, because there's a difference! When this happens for you, notice why - asking the same questions as above. Of course, the design courses on Spoak itself were so incredibly helpful.