After discovering the power of design at a mere five years old, Heather Peterson has spent the past two decades bringing creative visions to life. Starting out as a curator and photo editor for Real Simple magazine, she realized it was creating a feeling of home that made her happiest. In January 2011 Heather launched a decorating blog, Love Your Space. Heather Peterson Design followed later that year. Now Heather works with clients across the country, at most budgets and in many styles to produce interiors that they’ll love. Seeing how she creates spaces full of personality, we were at once fans of her work. We reached out to Heather and she recently sat down to answer some questions for us.
What do you think drew you to design and creative outlets?
I’ve always been creative. When I was looking for my first “real” job out of college, I told a headhunter that my only requirement was working with creative people. All of my career twists and turns have been in creative industries, but generally in support roles. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I don’t need to support artists professionally — I get to BE the artist.
Who’s your favorite designer?
How about my top 5? I love Peter Dunham and Kathryn Ireland for their different takes on the British-California vibe. I’m a huge fan of Angie Hranowsky and Fawn Galli for their adventurous use of vintage finds and color. But if I were to hand over the reigns of my own home to another designer, it would be Muriel Brandolini. I’ve followed her career for two decades and have always admired her worldly eclecticism, her use of art, and her unerring originality.
What’s your current favorite interior design trend?
Deep, saturated color on millwork. It’s such a great way to highlight beautiful trim. If you use the same color on the walls and add in modern lighting, it can really energize older homes and make them feel current.
What interior design trend do you wish would go away?
Designing for resale. This is the downside of the popularity of all those real estate shows: milquetoast decor. I say bring back the personality! Decide what you love and put that in your home. Don’t worry about the next people.
What do you think is the most versatile color palette? And how important is color to a space?
I love color. But to me, contrast is more important to a successful design than a specific color palette. My home is full of color and my office is very neutral; both work because of contrast.
What’s your approach to design?
I’m very visual and often have a vision that sort of presents itself early on in the process. (The first time this happened was when I was looking to buy my first apartment. I toured a beautiful pre-war Brooklyn apartment with picture moldings and parquet floors. It was lovely but didn’t feel like “me.” On the subway back to my job in Manhattan, the living room decorated itself top to bottom in my mind. I got off at the first stop to call the agent and make an offer.) That said, the aesthetics don’t work if there’s no flow, so I generally start with floor plans. It’s like a puzzle. I like to come up with a bunch of possible layouts to help my clients figure out exactly how they want to live in their space.
What’s your favorite home accessory?
I’m a textile girl. I love global textiles — suzanis, pulkharis, kantha, shibori — and like to use them beyond just pillows. Think headboards, chair seats, or even just hung on the wall. So much of what goes into a house can have sharp lines and hard edges. I like to create opportunities for softness.
What’s something you think every home needs?
Art. It doesn’t have to be original or expensive, it just needs to speak to you. Art can also be employed strategically to hide flaws, create division of space, and bring balance.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on so far?
A 4,000sf Edwardian home in San Francisco that we nearly gut renovated to suit a young family. One of my best friends from New York bought it just as I was deciding whether to move ahead in this career. She said, if you want to go big with design, let me know. We had so much fun, and it really allowed me to flex my design muscle. I love the result, but more importantly, that project was a major confidence boost. It showed me what I can do.
Do you think your experience in photo editing helps you put together and edit interiors?
Absolutely! I approach design as a series of compositions — the balance of volumes and negative space. That visual sense came from my time in the photo industry together with my art history background. Producing photo shoots is also great training for the practical, project management side of design.
What inspires you the most?
Magazines! I am an unabashed fan of shelter publications and read them cover to cover the minute they hit my mailbox. I have years of back issues that I revisit on the regular. It’s interesting how you can see stories really differently, depending on the lens of your current work.
What decade do you think had (or has) the best interior design?
I’m a big fan of our present moment because it really takes advantage of the best of the past. I love the way designers are mixing eras and provenance, mixing high and low. With the rise in e-commerce and global trade, so much is available to us that wouldn’t have been even a decade ago. It’s pretty exhilarating.
How did you transition from interior design blogger to interior designer?
When I started the blog, I was seeking career change but wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a designer or a magazine editor. I was decorating my own home at the time, blogging almost daily and sharing posts on Facebook. Friends-of-friends started contacting me to help with their spaces. Since I don’t have formal training in design, blogging was a great way to experiment and hone my skills. Before I had a full roster of clients, I created content for the blog that served as a temporary portfolio. My online presence also made potential clients feel like they knew me. It made the thought of working with a designer much more approachable.
What do you think the future of design looks like?
I think the pendulum is swinging from a maximalist aesthetic to a more pared back look. I’m not saying minimalist! Just very considered, with an emphasis on each item and the relationship between them. I think it’s a rigorous and disciplined approach and not at all easy. But done well it is both interesting and peaceful. I think we all want a little less stuff in our lives. A considered space leaves room to live.
Thanks Heather for taking the time to answer our questions! We look forward to seeing your next projects. If you want to see more of Heather’s work check out her website and follow her on Instagram for some behind-the-scenes glimpses.