Stuck in a Design Rut? Bri Emery and Create & Cultivate Have Some Free Home Design Advice to Share

updated Mar 3, 2021
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Bri Emery's office

If you find yourself searching for a little bit of design inspiration this weekend, look no further than Create & Cultivate, an online platform founded by Jaclyn Johnson and known for its focus on career building. With many people working from home and spending more time indoors than ever these days, Create & Cultivate has taken their offline conferences virtual, with the latest, The Polka Dot Summit 2.0, taking place online tomorrow, February 27, in partnership with Disney. Registration is required, but admission is free. If you’re a fan of blogger Bri Emery of Design Love Fest, then you won’t be disappointed by the programming, which includes a cooking and home styling session with Emery herself.

I caught up with Emery to get an exclusive sneak peek of her lesson as well as more tips on how to stay inspired when you can’t travel, dine out, or entertain guests as much as you’d maybe like to. These are her five best new design ideas, but check out the rest of the upcoming Create & Cultivate lineup for even more free advice from the likes of JVN, Hailey Bieber, and more.

Consider a house swap

Emery and her husband are based in LA but wanted to switch up their setting safely for an extended stay somewhere else. Instead of just booking an Airbnb, which can be pricey and felt a little wasteful right now with her own home perfectly usable, she participated in a two-month house swap with a couple that lives in a farmhouse on Shelter Island, New York. “There’s such different scenery here — snow, shells on the beach,” says Emery. “It’s been nice to change up our everyday and take the time to appreciate simple moments somewhere else, whether that’s cooking or just starting a new morning routine of journaling stream of conscious.”

Make time for tablescaping

The ritual of mealtime — and cooking in particular — has been therapeutic for Emery during the pandemic. One thing that makes eating feel even more special? Setting the table with pretty linens and upping her food styling game, which she tries to do first thing in the morning. “We’re not in restaurants the way we used to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own meals more pleasing to the eye,” says Emery. “Different styles of food create different moods, so why wouldn’t you also use different linens or plates?”

Emery has invested in some new napkins and tablecloths in fun patterns and colors, and she switches them up regularly to create different tabletop combinations. “You don’t even have to buy proper tablecloths,” she says. “Go to a craft or fabric store and buy different colored large sheets of linen or pieces of fabric and then just lay them across your table.” Same goes for plating. Try using fresh herbs and edible flowers as garnishes for your at home cheeseboards and dishes. Both of these techniques will turn every meal into a visual feast, too. Don’t forget colored taper candles either. They’re an easy, inexpensive way to turn up a tablescape.

Be strategic with your candles to set a mood

Emery loves Maison Louis Marie scented candles, but she has a really smart hack for making them last a little longer — and look a little more impressive in a tableau — for their $34 price tag. “I’ll light a favorite scented candle from Maison Louis Marie and then surround it with larger pillar candles from Amazon,” she says. “That way, you get a really impactful display for less.” More flames can also warm up your room further, which is great in the winter, and this extra localized heat can potentially even help a scented candle throw its fragrance more efficiently.

Credit: Bri Emery

Blank space can spark creativity in a home “office”

Sometimes the best WFH setups aren’t fully decorated, especially if you work in a creative field. Emery has found that she can be her most innovative when she’s surrounded by calming minimal decor with just a few strategic pops of color. “You don’t have to cover every single surface with something visually stimulating,” she says. “Blank space actually gives me the room to come up with new things.”

Go on a visual journey

Just because traveling is a little more difficult right now doesn’t mean you can’t go on a visual journey that can inform your decorating projects, from color schemes to design styles and more. To that end, Emery has been watching tons of documentaries on artists, including one on Georgia O’Keeffe, which has been helping her to stay inspired as she shelters in place for the most part. “I’m choosing to see this time as a dreaming phase, and I’m getting excited for the future,” she says.