By Robin Daly and Christian Ursino
Chatting with former KIRO reporter Monica Hart recently, the Design Duo took the opportunity to learn about her latest adventure, a lifestyle blog, lafamigliadesignllc.com. As always, before digging into the interview, we needed to know Monica’s drink of choice since we were meeting her in our “virtual” coffee shop (less romantically known as a phone interview). monica: Oh, that’s easy! Cappuccino. Espresso, whole milk and three sugars, it’s dessert in a cup. It could be the half Italian in me, too.
design duo: What brought you into blogging and design?
monica: As a trained journalist, I was a reporter with KIRO for eight years, and I stepped away to raise a family. It’s certainly been an organic journey; while I’m a self-taught designer, I was the contractor when building our home, and when entertaining, our guests always asked for my recipes and decorating tips. When I think back to what I was like as a little girl, it’s no surprise — as a little kid I would reorganize my room in the dark of night, my mother would wake me the next day and find a completely rearranged room! Blogging gives me the opportunity to combine my professional journalism skills of writing and reporting with some of my favorite things: cooking, design, entertaining and lifestyle.
design duo: What’s your favorite room in the house?
monica: It would have to be the kitchen and the pantry. It’s the hub of our home, where memories are made. You can enjoy holiday bites with friends and family, feed kids after a sleepover with a waffle bar — the kitchen is just filled with so many of the things I love. I find the contrast of dark and light to be compelling — off-white kitchen cupboards combined with an island highlighted with off-black with metallic trim. It’s the mix of contrasts that make it interesting. I’m fire and ice — Italian and Swedish. It’s the juxtaposition of different styles, tradition with a twist. While I am a traditional girl, I like a touch of modern, vintage or industrial thrown in. I am currently obsessed with chevron patterns; they add energy to the room. It’s the contrast of color and design.
design duo: What are some of your favorite Eastside shops?
monica: I’ve been part of the Eastside since before Bellevue had a Square! I love Hailey’s Cottage; we do a gig there called Girls’ Night In at the shop. Paisley Cottage, Rosa Mundi Antiques, Sisters Antiques and Anthropologie. A home has to be livable. I don’t mind chipped furniture, because it’s all going to get chipped anyway in a family home!
design duo: Monica, where can we find you?
monica: Besides my blog, I am very active on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. I have a lot on my Pinterest boards! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
design duo: Any other thoughts you’d like to consider?
monica: I want to share that you can create your own holiday traditions, even if you don’t have many yourself. It’s not about being fancy or pretty. For example, my son insists I bake the same orange cookies every holiday, and trust me … they aren’t fancy! It’s never too late to start your own holiday traditions with your friends and family.
Monica’s tips for holiday decorating
Go natural Incorporate natural trees and pinecones into your home. If you don’t have a natural tree, you can wire small florist vials nestled in the branches and fill them with fresh flowers and herbs.
Create a holiday memory branch Find an interesting container and add an interesting branch from outside. Decorate it with old black-and-white photographs and vintage ornaments and ribbons. It is a soulful addition to the holidays and connects us to the past.
Make it seamless It doesn’t have to look “Christmas” to add holiday spirit. Utilize the same colors in the room that you normally decorate with and embellish upon what is already there. Christmas does not have to be red and green.
Top and middle photos by Howard Petrella and bottom photo by Stefanie Knowlton