In this week’s edition of our Design Insights Interview we are uber-exctied to welcome Stephanie Duval, founder of inspirational Belgian interior, design, travel and photography blog 70percentpure. Let’s gain an insight into her ultra-stylish world:
You’ve worked for some very well-known stylish publications, such as Pure, Elle and Aphrodite, where did you career begin and what inspired you to carve a career in design and lifestyle?
I studied American Literature, and then got an extra Masters in Journalism after that. I started out as a freelancer while I was still at university. By the time I graduated, I had already been writing professionally for almost two years, which gave me a considerable edge in the job market. I was promoted to editor-in-chief of the now defunct Label magazine (which lives on in its sister publication Pure) at the age of 23. By that time I started feeling like I needed to branch out to a wider variety of subjects in order to keep things exciting and interesting. Focusing just on fashion seemed like a limiting thing to do, especially since I was always interested in so many different things. I started 70percentpure as a creative outlet, and it helped me delve deeper into subjects like travel, design, interior and food. Gradually this ‘lifestyle influence’ spread to my professional life as well, and I now write professionally on all those subjects, too.
The blog is so chic and beautiful, where do you seek inspiration?
Why thank you! That is a huge compliment for me, especially since I consider the blog an extension of myself, in some way. I’ve always been into aesthetics and what they communicate about your personality – whether through fashion, beauty, interior design, or photography. I really liked to have a kind of blank slate as a layout for my blog, so that I could let the photography speak for itself. In keeping the blog, my photography skills have evolved exponentially, and I hope they will continue to evolve. I often look at other blogs to get a general sense of inspiration, and I can spend way too much time on Pinterest. I also have some really cool photography books that I like to flip through, and I love magazines such as Monocle, Cereal and Kinfolk. They all inspire me in their own way. But the most important source of inspiration for me has to be travel: seeing different places, meeting interesting people, soaking up a different culture – it’s all so rewarding.
How would you describe your own individual style?
Very minimal, in any case. You know the famous Coco Chanel quote: “When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on”? Well it never applied to me, because I never have anything that I can take off. The same goes for my home: I like to make it cosy and welcoming, but I hate clutter. Everything has to have its place, and I often put objects in boxes inside cupboards and closets until I’m ready to put them out again. I need peace and quiet around me, in every sense. Additionally, I think I’m also quite conservative. I like the classics – white sheets on the bed, blue jeans… There’s a reason those things never get old.
The images you post on the blog are stunning and you’re obviously a huge fan of colour, which are you favourite combinations?
I think it’s funny you say that, because most people comment on my love for monochrome situations and the lack of colour in my wardrobe. I have to admit that I will always prefer colours such as white, navy blue, grey and black over bold colour combinations. But I do appreciate how adding some colour nuances to a neutral palette can lift everything up. In my wedding, I wanted some touches of gold and pale pink; in my interior I try to incorporate greens through plants (I love succulents!); and in my wardrobe I have a soft spot for olive and forest green and hot pink (on occasion!).
What advice would you give to those thinking of starting a interior/lifestyle focused blog?
I like to tell anyone starting a blog: do it if you feel like you can’t not do it. If it’s an urge inside of you to share, to communicate and to create, then definitely don’t ignore it, but go for it. Whatever you decide to do with that feeling, it will be rewarding. If your reason to start blogging is more ‘I might get something out of it’, then it’s different. It’ll be more difficult to stay true to yourself, and you’ll catch yourself repeating what is already out there, somewhere on the web. If you just want to curate, start a Pinterest board. If you really want to create, then blogging is for you and there is no set of rules you absolutely need to adhere to. The more original your approach, the better!
If our readers are thinking of refreshing their interiors, which three things do you believe are a must-have in the home?
My absolute favorite place in my home is my bed. I didn’t realize how miserable our bedroom felt, until we changed the bed. It changed everything. Invest in a good mattress and find a frame that really suits you. We chose a higher bed, so we’re at eye-level with our bedroom window when we lay down. It doesn’t make sense, but believe me when I say it makes all the difference. Buying new sheets is also therapeutic for me. It’s the ultimate way of spoiling myself. Getting into a freshly made bed with clean smelling sheets – your house is not a home without that feeling.
The same goes for the sofa in your living room. It’s where you entertain house guests, where your family is together every night, where you can just shut down and relax… For me it needs to be a comfortable place, preferably with lots of cosy pillows and throws.
I also really believe in good organizing systems. We have boxes and trays and separations in all of our cupboards and closets, and we try to keep everything at the exact same spot all the time. There’s something so soothing in knowing exactly where everything is all the time. I realize this does make me sound a little OCD though 🙂
The blog also features lots of travel writing, which destination did you love visiting the most and why?
This is a very tough one. I’ll take the easy way out and say “North America.” It’s where I’ve made the most incredible and memorable trips. I’ll never forget the first time I visited New York – it was more than love at first sight, it was the start of an obsession, really, that still continues to this day. I’ve been there lots of times since then, but I’ve never left it thinking “That’s it, now I’ve seen and done everything.” I also have some very special memories of the trip I took through California, when my then-boyfriend proposed to me in Palm Springs. For our honeymoon, we returned to the West Coast, traveling all the way from Vancouver down to Palm Springs again. All of these trips hold some of my best memories ever.
70percentpure has been nominated for lots of prestigious blogging awards! What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Keeping the blog has opened quite a few doors for me. It’s helped me further my professional career, and it has helped me discover more parts of the world and more interesting people than I imagined would be possible. I really feel like I am part of a community out there – I don’t consider these people ‘my readers’, because so many of them are doing incredible stuff, too, so to just refer to them as readers would be to downplay their influence on me. I feel very fortunate to have been able to connect to these amazing men and women through the blog, and I consider that my most valuable achievement.
What super-hot trends do you predict will be huge in the world of interior and design in 2015?
I don’t know if you can call them trends still, since most of these things have been around for a while, but I notice people are still hot for muted colours, natural materials and the combination of lots of different textures. I personally love how people are mixing vintage influences with modern design, without being pigeonholed into one trend or style. Everyone is traveling a lot, and they are bringing details and sensibilities from all over the world back to their own home. They are making interior decorating a form of storytelling: the story of their lives, travels and experiences, and I couldn’t possibly love that more.
We’re excited to know of any upcoming projects you have! What’s in store for the future?
First up is the launch of my first real book – I’ve written some shopping guides before, but I feel like that’s very different. It will be about blogging: what it can do for individuals, entrepreneurs and business. It’s called “How Blogs Work: Tips & tricks voor beginnende en ervaren bloggers” and will initially only be available in Dutch. It has plenty of interviews with inspiring and successful bloggers, sharing their stories and takes, and it will offer a lot of food for thought, rather than rules set in stone.
And lastly…(cheeky I know!) what’s your favourite Brabantia product and why?
I’m not going to be terribly original with this, but I really love the iconic Brabantia Touch bin – especially now that you can get it in so many different beautiful colours. If you can make me lust after a trash bin, that has to mean something 🙂
Thank you to Stephanie for her wonderful design insights. Click here to follow her daily life.