Love where you live
an interview with interior designers Liz Bradshaw and Lauren Hopkins of Celeste & Pearl
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When the world locked down in the spring of 2020, I became a serious interior design junkie. The former psychotherapist in me knows this was probably related to my need to regain some sense of control over my environment (which, of course, felt extremely out of control during that time). And so, in between toddler art projects and zoom preschool, I spent hours scrolling Instagram looking for ways to make my home more beautiful.
Though I’m a throw-pillow-buying champion, I was completely stumped when it came time to select new lighting fixtures for my kitchen. Luckily, I knew just who to call. Liz Bradshaw and Lauren Hopkins are sisters and co-owners of Celeste & Pearl, an online interior design service. Liz and I have been friends since college and their Instagram account was a major source of inspiration for me. Plus, they’re super fun and down-to-earth (or “DTE”, as we used to say in college 😉).
I thought it would be fun to interview them about everything from playroom design to female entrepreneurship.
JW: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Lauren: I graduated from Duke University with a degree in Art History and Architecture and then went on to study interior design at the New York School of Interior Design. After getting my start at Ralph Lauren Home, I worked for Alessandra Branca and then Frank Ponterio. My husband and I live in Chicago with our sweet and adventurous toddler boy and darling 1-year-old girl.
Liz: I have a BFA in Fashion Design from Washington University in St. Louis and spent a decade designing women’s and children’s clothing in New York and Milwaukee before making the leap from apparel to interiors. I’m married to my middle school sweetheart, and we share two young (very loud!) daughters and are expecting again this summer.
JW: How did you decide to go into business together?
Liz & Lauren: The business really developed organically. A couple friends asked for design help, they referred us to their friends and then they referred us to their friends until we realized maybe we had something! Since we don't live in the same city we were e-mailing each other constantly. "This rug went on sale... what is your honest on these pillows?" E-design was the way we designed our homes because we were so busy, so it felt like others would crave that as well, especially if they could have an approachable "sister-like" designer at their service.
JW: Where do you pull your creative inspiration from?
Liz: I’m inspired by bold colors and patterns from all over the world, especially time-honored fabrics and designs.
Lauren: I live for texture, especially earthy textures found in nature. As an art history buff, I love mixing classic architectural details with a clean palette. We both love the organic play between indoor and outdoor spaces.
JW: What suggestions do you have for someone looking to spruce up their office space?
Liz & Lauren: Gorgeous lighting, greenery (we live in the Midwest - it's a LONG winter!), and mementos, books, and artwork that inspire you. Home offices have become extensions of our living spaces, so we've started thinking about them as such. We also now have to be intentional about a "Zoom background" for our clients and arrange furniture accordingly. The beauty of working from home is that it can feel more personal and less sterile than your cubicle, so we're here for it!
JW: Any tips for designing a playroom that kids will love but isn't in a constant state of chaos?
Liz & Lauren: Storage! As our mom would say, "put it back or I will pitch it!" (She did!) Adorable rugs and pillows are nice, but you need to have a place for everything. We always consider scale when designing for our littlest clients too, such as making sure toys are displayed at eye level in an organized manner. Playrooms are also constantly evolving as kids grow, so the design needs to be dynamic.
JW: What advice do you have for balancing beautiful decor with the realities of having young kids?
Liz & Lauren: In any space we try to find the right balance between form and function - the best design masters both. Performance fabrics and durable, easy-to-clean rugs are our go-tos. (Fortunately, beautiful, natural fibers tend to clean more easily.) Having said all that, we believe homes aren't museums; they're meant to be lived in and to us, memories are always more important!
JW: Tell us about your relationship with each other and what it's been like going into business with your sister.
Liz & Lauren: We are only 18 months apart, so growing up we were very close. Our interests have always been similar but our tastes are very different. As a result, we prefer teaming up with each other rather than competing. Our high school art teacher used to have to separate us in class because we kept helping the other with her projects (and then of course inevitably fighting about the best approach).
We realized early on if we could leverage our unique gifts we were twice as impactful. This allows for extremely direct communication with each other. (After all, if you can’t be honest with your sister, who can you be honest with?)
JW: Female entrepreneurship (especially among moms) is at an all-time high since the pandemic. What tips do you have for other moms looking to start their own businesses?
Liz & Lauren: We believe it's okay, even admirable, to tell our kids "we have to work" and it's okay to tell our clients "we have to mom". Working women historically have been encouraged to deny their home lives and say yes more than no, but we believe in setting boundaries to give our “yesses” more power and our clients and kids the time they deserve. (This also means we have a long waitlist, and we've had to become okay with that too.)
We also like to get it right and are both perfectionists, but after formatting our business plan and spending a year building our website, there was a point we had to just go for it. If you wait until you feel ready, you will never be ready. We've found success not because we always get it right, but because we haven't been afraid to make mistakes, own up to them, and course correct quickly.
First job… Liz: intern for Betsy Johnson. Lauren: intern for Ralph Lauren Home.
Favorite room in your home… Liz: Ironically, the backyard! Lauren: Fireside in the Living Room.
Go-to stores for home decor items… It completely depends on the project, and we are constantly finding new sources. Jayson Home in Chicago is a longtime favorite boutique and platforms like Chairish have become great online resources for unique finds.
Favorite book to read with your kids… Liz: Speak Up, Molly Lou Melon; Lauren: Make Way for Ducklings – the mama duck spends the entire story in search of the perfect home for her babies, so relatable!
Best advice you received about working motherhood… From Oprah: "You can have it all, but not at the same time."
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