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Design, Decoded.


First of all, I want to extend a warm welcome to all of my new subscribers! Thank you so much for your support. I also want to explain that you get 2-for-1 with this newsletter—Stylexicon is all about design and interiors, then it switches to Skinlexicon which is all about beauty and skincare. The newsletter actually started as Stylexicon because I needed a space to talk about design after leaving my role as editorial director at MyDomaine. But after numerous requests for skincare advice from my friends and online community, Skinlexicon was born. So, now there are two! 

I can't wait for you to read this week's edition of Designer Spotlight. I've been holding onto the interview for a while now so this is an exciting day. I first discovered her on Instagram around a year or more ago and she quickly became my daily obsession. In fact, I would go as far as to call her one of my favorite interior stylists on Instagram right now—yes, you heard right!

Introducing Erena Te Paa. She hails from New Zealand and her take on modern, minimalist design is beyond breathtaking. But more than that, it's her skill for layering shapes, textures, and colors that really draws me in—there is so much depth to the spaces she creates which is really hard to do in a small 4x4 frame on Instagram but she does. Erena has incredible attention to detail—every corner, nook, and cranny is carefully considered and beautifully designed with a curated mix of vintage (she has a real skill for sourcing unique, rare finds) and new pieces that she makes all her own with the way she styles them. 

In today's interview, Erena shares her design philosophy, her favorite places to shop for furniture/décor online, and the story behind this shell-shaped chair in her bedroom (she bought it for $300 and it's worth $17,000). 

Additionally, I've included my top five clicks of the week (there is so much good design news!) and my top five favorite pieces from the Leanne Ford x Crate & Barrel collection (it's to die for!), and my top 5 pieces from Jennifer Fisher's CB2 collaboration. 

As always, if you have someone you'd like me to feature, a new Instagram account, brand or designer I should be aware of, please email me:

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Top 5 Clicks of the Week
  • One of my favorite places to shop for art online is Tappan. So, naturally, I was extremely flattered when they reached out to feature me in their Collector Profile series. I loved talking about career, passion for collecting art and supporting the next generation of female artists. 
  • My beautiful friend, Athena Calderone of EyeSwoon just released her second book, Live Beautiful and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. If you're not familiar with her work, then make sure you check out her newly renovated Hampton's home—you'll understand my obsession, then read her Stylexicon Designer Spotlight HERE.
  • Two amazing designer collaborations launched this month. First up, one of my absolute favorite designers and the queen of all-white layering (read my interview with her on MyDomaine to see why), Leanne Ford dropped her Crate & Barrel collection and stunning is an understatement. I could see myself buying so much of this line and I'm not just saying that because she's my friend. Check it out HERE and get ready to shop.

    Then Jennifer Fisher announced her CB2 collection and it's everything you would expect from the jewelry designer—it's modern with a hint of glam. I list my top five favorites from both of these collaborations at the end of this newsletter so keep scrolling!
  • The talented Katie Hodges is helping Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere to design her new home and I have been following the progress on Emily's Instagram. She has revealed several videos including this video tour of her unfinished living room, her master suite, her dining room/kitchen, and more. If you love Katie's modern California-cool design style then you'll love these updates as much as I do. 
  • I cannot get enough of this Mediterranean-inspired home in Melbourne, Australia designed by Studio Ezra. Despite the neutral palette, this family home is rich and warm thanks to the contrasting textures, mix of surfaces, and layered décor. Truly a stunner. 
Designer Spotlight: 
Erena Te Paa, Interior Stylist

On what design means to her...
It is a chance for creative freedom; to take all the thoughts and ideas that have been swirling around in my head and bring them to life. 
What motivates her to keep going...

Finding something good in each and every day. Whether that's reading an uplifting comment from someone I've inspired or turning a creative block into an opportunity to reset and recharge. I also like to remind myself just how far I've come and let that enthusiasm propel me forward.

On pushing past doubt and fear to pursue her passion...

Fear is natural, doubt is natural. I often find that my fear is based on things that haven't happened yet and may never happen and it can be incredibly self-sabotaging. So I often will allow myself to get comfortable with the worst-case scenario in that situation which might be that I fail or that I have to start from scratch. Because I've met that fear head-on and in a sense, made peace with it, I free myself up to feel more of what I want to feel which is hopeful and optimistic.

On her favorite piece in the house...
It would have to be the shell-shaped chair in my bedroom. Aside from the fact that it was very unique looking I had no reason to believe it was anything other than funky! I purchased it for what I thought was an expensive $300 and had it reupholstered. It was only after it came back from the upholsterer that I noticed a makers label and investigated further. The chair was in fact designed by M Cananzi and manufactured by Edra. New they can retail for $17,000.

On her favorite place in the house...
The master bedroom. It gets the most sun and is, therefore, the warmest room in the house. Given that it used to be part of the living room, it has grand proportions and interesting original features like the huge concrete fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows. One day it will be returned to the living room once more but for now, it makes the best kind of parent's retreat. 

On what her home says about her...
Quirky, unexpected yet classic. Funnily enough, after we'd bought this house, a good friend, upon driving up to it for the first time said to me "it looks like you." I thought that was the best compliment ever.

On her decorating approach...
I think about the space itself and what style would best suit it but equally, I like to think about how the space needs to function. Given that I am a mother of two young boys I try to strike a balance between style and practicality so that the practical aspect isn't at the expense of style and vice versa. For instance, I'll opt for a hard-wearing fabric on a beautiful chair or instead of sharp edges I'll gravitate toward soft edges and curved pieces.

On her favorite affordable home décor/furniture store/s...
Trade Aid and H&M Home have a great selection of baskets and stylish organizers. I also can't go past IKEA and Urban Outfitters for furniture, lighting and decorative pieces.

On her favorite place to buy furniture/décor online...
Most of my home is made up of secondhand finds so naturally, I am a big fan of online auction sites. In NZ we have Trade Me (our eBay equivalent) and I love Etsy for prints and vintage décor. I also love Alex & Corban, Citta, Paperplane Store, and Boheme Home for bedding, lighting, and accent pieces.

On her top place to travel for furniture/design...
When time allows, I love to drive to secondhand shops in out-of-the-way towns but generally, my favorite place to travel is online via Pinterest and Instagram and to vast online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and our own local version Trade Me. When it comes to design, you are only really limited by your imagination. 

On her design philosophy...
Trust your gut. Over the years I've learned that not everyone will understand your vision and some, whether well-meaning or otherwise might even try to talk you out of it. If you know instinctively that something will work, don't be discouraged—do it anyway. What have you got to lose besides someone saying "I told you so'" or (fingers crossed) you telling them!

On her top three design accounts on IG...
@tintaluhrman —her way with 'wood' is ever inspiring.
@oscarpiccolo — his work and aesthetics are beautiful.
@_roomonfire — an architectural wonderland.

On the one piece that got away...
This still pains me but about eight years ago, I let a Soriana Chair slip through my hands. I didn't know that that was what it was at that time (neither did the seller apparently) and so I just let this beautiful thing sit there! I guess I'd become so comfortable (or stubborn) waiting for the owner to lower what was, in fact, a steal of a price ($350) that one day, sure enough, it was snapped up. I deserved that lesson because now if I love something, I know better than to wait. I still miss out on things of course but nothing has ever haunted me quite like that one!  

On the top five décor items to buy online...
1. A great chair
They bring so much life and personality to a room. I prefer to cover more ground sifting online first and then investigate in person after.

2. Bedding
Striped sheets and mix-n-match pillowcases. Something as simple as an injection of new bed-linen (not specifically a new duvet) can be transformative. 
3. Books
Handy online reviews and samples make them an easy buy plus they will forever add life to your tables and shelfies!

4. Art, namely prints
They ship easily from anywhere and therefore the world is your oyster.

5. Curios and trinkets 
Small things can get overlooked in stores and yet online they stand out thanks to beautiful product photography and less competition for space.

All photos courtesy of Erena Te Paa.

My top 5 pieces from the Leanne Ford x Crate & Barrel Collection
1. Yuma Fringed Clay Jute Rug
I'm definitely buying the runner for our hallway—a bargain at $229.

2. Primitive Vases
These earthenware pieces look more like sculptures and modern objet d'art than vases and they're also a steal starting at $30. 

3. Tom Charcoal Three-Legged Coffee Table
Love the unique shape and unexpected proportions.

4. Williams Chair
I love the vintage appeal of this statement chair and I'm a sucker for anything with circular shapes.

5. Ella Small White Candle
These candles can be repurposed as objet d'art when they're all burned out and I just love that so much. This one is $40 but there are various sizes/shapes and prices to suit any space. 

My top 5 pieces from the Jennifer Fisher x CB2 collaboration

1. Marble Link Wall Sconce
I am obsessed! It's so chic.

2. Bag O'Cash Doorstep
I love how Jennifer's sense of humor is woven into this collection. And who wouldn't want a marble doorstep that mimics a bag of cash?

3. Perfect Pour Wine Glass
I'm reeeallly into these handblown slightly dimpled and misshapen wine glasses. I am definitely buying these.

4. Tubular Marble Table Lamp
This was the first piece from the collection that I gravitated towards. It's a cool mix of modern and traditional. 

5. Double Hoop Champagne Gold Napkin Ring Set of 8
It wouldn't be a Jennifer Fisher collection without some of her iconic jewelry? These napkin rings mimic her cult-favorite gold hoops and I'm here for it.   
Thank you for reading this all the way to the end! If you have any industry news, brand updates, new product launches, or stories you'd like to share or see featured, please email me:

Images of the living room and coffee table in my apartment are photographed by Jenna Peffley
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