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A few of Cassandra's favorite Lamps Plus products: 1. Tetra Collection Tiffany Style Pendant Chandelier. 2. Robert Abbey Axis Adjustable Height Table Lamp (no longer available.) 3. Holtkoetter Up/Down Polished Brass Wall Sconce. 4. Arteriors Narnia Cocktail Table.
Cassandra Lavalle is the editor of the chic interior design and lifestyle blog Coco + Kelley, where she shares "stunning interiors, brilliant fashion, inspired tabletops, and original color palettes - always with a touch of glamour." We chatted with Cassandra in between stops on her busy, jet-setting schedule, and she's here today sharing style tips, her design inspirations, a look at her blogging business, and a few of her favorite things. Welcome, Cassandra!
LAMPS PLUS: Coco + Kelley’s philosophy is “Life is in the details. Style accordingly.” From interior decorating to event design to personal style consultations, you’ve gone beyond the role of a traditional designer by helping your clients create and embrace a lifestyle aesthetic. How did your wildly successful career as a “personal advisor in all of life’s little details” begin?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Honestly, it probably began with me being the gal who always had an opinion on things! But I also have a passion for all things design and have always immersed myself in that world. I come at things from a psychological standpoint, so that helps me in communicating with clients and expressing ideas to readers. It all began with the blog in 2007 and grew from there!
LAMPS PLUS: How would you define your own style? Is that how your home is decorated?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Growing up on the West Coast has definitely influenced my sensibilities. My style is somewhere between relaxed West Coast meets refined classic. It's not based on an era or a category. It's just a feeling. And yes, that's absolutely how my home is decorated! I think I take a relaxed approach to glamour that's based in taking classic styles and making them approachable.
LAMPS PLUS: What tips would you offer someone who wants to discover and embrace their own personal style, but doesn't know where to start?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Honing in on your personal style is kind of like training for a race. You're not going to just jump in an run a full 10k. You have to start with the basics - start reading more blogs and magazines. Try on new things. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Invest. And most importantly, surround yourself with people who have great style!
LAMPS PLUS: What or who has most influenced your design aesthetic?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: I was the first kid in the bunch of my parents' friends, so I was always hanging out with grown ups who had great style and taste - I think I picked some things up from them. Living in LA during my youth definitely played a role in my aesthetic - that laid back Southern California vibe comes through in the colors I choose (very beachy) and materials I use (lots of linens, cottons, and natural weaves). But, somewhere along the way I think I trained my own eye to have a pretty classic foundation.
LAMPS PLUS: What is the best design advice you ever received?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: I know it's cliché, but when people say "buy what you love," it's for a reason. You should surround yourself with things that make you happy or make you feel good. You really can't go wrong when you design from the gut.
LAMPS PLUS: The Coco + Kelley blog is a well curated source of design inspiration for all things fashion, interiors, and lifestyle and you have a loyal following of style savvy readers. How has blogging impacted your business? How do you stay inspired as a blogger?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Blogging IS my business. Coco + Kelley has opened so many doors for me and I'm incredibly amazed and grateful for that opportunity. As far as inspiration, lately I've been trying to take myself out of the online world and more into the real world for inspiration. It seems like so many images and ideas are getting recycled that you really have to find new ways to make them your own or product content that's original. I love just walking through the city, sitting down and going through old books or looking outside the design world for new thoughts and ideas.
LAMPS PLUS: Beyond blogging, you also take on a variety of freelance clients and design projects. With all these different creative to-do's on your plate, you must be one busy gal - what does a typical day look like for you?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: When you're self-employed people think your life must be so leisurely. It's not true! I wake up around 6:30 am to get a jump start on e-mails before they build up too much in my inbox. I usually work on my laptop until 11ish - that's taking care of emails, creating blog posts, putting together projects for my interns, and really running the business side of things. After that I usually head out for the day to run whatever errands need to happen - sometimes it's scouting for shoots, sometimes it's shopping for clients. I try and head to the gym in the afternoon, then back home for more work ... usually throughout the evening if I'm staying in for the night. I'm basically hardly ever not working!
LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite luxury in life?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Food and travel. I would give up a lot of material possessions to ensure that I always had the ability to travel and experience long, delicious dinners with friends.
LAMPS PLUS: When decorating, what should you splurge on?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Number one investment in my book is a good sofa. Everything from the bones to the fabric should be taken into consideration. It's the type of piece you really want to hold up over the years.
LAMPS PLUS: How important is home lighting to interior designs?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Hugely important. I think lighting changes the mood of a room. It's important to have all the bases covered - task lighting to overhead lighting to indoor wall lights. I also think table lamps can provide such key accents in a room! From color to texture, they add so much.
LAMPS PLUS: What are you obsessed with right now?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: Stripes and linen. Preferably together. I just keep buying them in every shape and form, from pillows to dresses!
LAMPS PLUS: Can you tell us about your goals or any projects in the works that you are excited about?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: I have about a million ideas swirling my head at any given moment, but I am really excited to start doing more original content on Coco + Kelley. We'll be introducing a few more series on the blog that we'll be shooting ourselves. Along with that, we're going to be doings some pretty fun product partnerships in the coming year to celebrate our 5 year anniversary!
LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite furniture piece and why?
CASSANDRA LAVALLE: A beautiful large chandelier. It can make a room.
Thanks, Cassandra! Love these two lamps above? They're the Dasan Ivory Table Lamp with Black Silk Shade and the Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp from Lamps Plus - and they're both featured in Cassandra's home in the May/June issue of Rue Magazine! (View her home tour starting on page 92.) You can also take a peek behind-the-scenes of Cassandra's home on her blog.
Image credits: Coco + Kelley, Rue Magazine - May/June 2012