The name of Erin Wheeler’s blog, Sunny Circle Studio, reveals much about her decorating style: Wheeler is all about cheerful, fresh decor. A former graphic designer, Erin has carved out a niche sharing advice for how to create a chic but attainable home that is designed for family life. Erin’s secret is a base of sophisticated furnishings, tons of fresh patterns, and pops of color.
Here are Erin Wheeler’s house rules for creating a happy, stylish, and comfortable home.
Stay true to your home
Wheeler suggests looking at your home’s architecture for clues about decor. “Our home is a traditional home and I always try to stay true to that,” she says, noting that though she loves to be playful with her decor, she sticks to classic, timeless pieces in that traditional style for more fixed elements, like kitchen cabinetry and tiles.
Go ahead, mix styles
“Mixing styles is a surefire way to make a house without distinct architecture not feel so cookie-cutter and personality-less.” Her tip on mixing is to stay within the same color family—seen in the classic tabletop mixed with the Scandi-style dining furniture.
But define your color story
Wheeler likes to maintain a loose whole-house palette and intentionally threads colors from one room to the next. “Having a color story ties it all together,” she says, noting that most people gravitate towards a certain set of colors anyway. In Wheeler’s case, blue appears throughout her home in varying shades, quantities, and saturations.
Blue and white is always right
“It’s a classic color combination! The contrast between blue and white feels very clean and fresh—especially in a bathroom,” says Wheeler.
Start your design process with color
“I often start a room design with color,” says Wheeler, who finds color inspiration in nature and films. A recent example is a workspace she is currently designing. “In the show Emily in Paris there is the coolest office. The color on the walls is this dusty purple color and that hue was the starting off point for my design,” she says.
White tile is a classic foundation
In both bathrooms and the kitchen, Wheeler opted for simple 3×6 white tiles. “I have subway tiles in every single tiled area,” she says. “They’re just so classic. Then, I can add different patterns and colors on top.” Most notably, Wheeler uses colorful area rugs to add personality to her kitchen and bathrooms. She uses our Ojai rug in her kitchen and the navy Elizabeth in her bathroom.
Don’t skimp on rug size
Wheeler says that when deciding between rug sizes, many people tend to go for the smaller size because of the cost savings, but she cautions, this is a mistake. “In the living room, you want to make sure that the rug is large enough to be able to touch all your furniture; in the dining room, you want to pull out a chair and still have a little bit of rug there,” she says, noting that she opted for an 8×10 version of our Citra rug in her dining room and 10×14 Masinissa in the living room. “I always advise clients to go bigger than you think because it’s nice to have some extra space.”
Repeat shapes for impact
“I opted for a round rug beneath my round dining table because repeating shapes are pleasing to the eye,” says Wheeler, whose graphic design background helps her zero in on what is visually appealing. “I like round rugs, in general, but especially in a defined space where there’s a round table–that’s perfect.”
Just like wine, linen gets even better over time
Wheeler uses her linen bedding, including our Antigua duvet, all year round and loves that it looks great for years. “Linen bedding is wonderful–it’s so breathable,” she says. “I also find linen just gets better over time: It gets softer and softer as you wash it. I just loved that linen feels soft and cozy.”
Pick rugs that fit your lifestyle
“I love natural fiber rugs, but lately, I’ve been drawn to synthetic rugs,” says Wheeler, who opted for our Bowline Navy Indoor/Outdoor Round beneath her dining table. ”They clean up super easily, they’re affordable and child-friendly. You want to choose the rug for your lifestyle and if you have small kids, you want something that you know will be super low maintenance.”
Don’t make kid rooms too childish
Wheeler loves designing kids’ rooms to cater to their interests, but she says it’s important to design for both who your kids are today and who they’ll be a few years from now. “I always want [a kid’s] room to feel like you could grow into it,” she says. For her daughter who loves rainbows, the Watercolor Horizon rug satisfies her current preferences, but will still feel age-appropriate as she becomes a tween.
Choose one focal point for bedrooms
When Wheeler designs a bedroom, she lets patterns shine on the rug or the bedding–not both. “You don’t want to overdo it in a bedroom because it’s your place to sleep and relax. If you have a bold pattern on the rug, you can balance it with simple patterns or just solid colors on the bedding, or vice versa.” In the iteration of Wheeler’s bedroom seen here, the Antigua bedding is the focal point, while the Numa rug is a subtler pattern on the floor.
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