Design Changemakers 2021: How Mallory Fletchall’s Pastel-Filled, Playful Space Became Your Go-to Instagram Inspo
The Apartment Therapy Design Changemakers Class of 2021 is made up of 24 of the most talented and dynamic people in the design world. We asked an assortment of last year’s Design Changemakers and Apartment Therapy staffers (and you!) to tell us who we needed to spotlight—see the rest of the list here.
Why Fletchall is part of the Class of 2021: “I would nominate Mallory from Reserve Home. I love how her design style is so unique and different, and I feel like she is never scared to take risks. I’m also a HUGE fan of all the quirky art she has in her space.” —Alexandra Gater, a Toronto-based YouTuber
Even if you don’t know Mallory Fletchall’s name, you might know her living room. The soft-colored, one-bedroom Greenpoint, Brooklyn apartment that she shares with her husband and two cats has been featured on numerous websites (including this one), and is regularly splashed across the screens of Fletchall’s more than 230,000 Instagram followers. But when she began posting photos of her home to the platform, she was simply using it as a convenient backdrop for promoting her Etsy shop. “As I started using my home to style these vintage objects I was selling, people became more interested in my house,” she says. “And so I just started showing more of that.”
Fletchall considers her foray into design a “happy accident.” After high school, she briefly attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York before moving home to Kansas City to earn a degree in history. Upon graduating into bleak job prospects amid the recession in 2008, she set up an Etsy shop, The Reserve, and began selling vintage apparel and accessories. Soon, she stopped looking for a 9-to-5 altogether. “The shop was doing well,” she remembers. “I realized I could just do that. And then I also realized quickly that I loved working for myself, and I really wanted to figure out how to keep doing that.”
She eventually transitioned from selling vintage clothes, handbags, and shoes to Moroccan cushions, floor pillows, and rugs. It’s a shift Fletchall credits to her and her now-husband’s decision to trade their Arts and Crafts-style Kansas City bungalow for their current apartment—the first and last apartment the couple saw while hunting in the city. Fletchall quickly fell for its high ceilings, original floors, and crown moldings. “I was just in awe,” she recalls. “I almost felt like I was in Europe.” Inspired by the architecture of New York City, she began looking to Pinterest for decor ideas, and was hooked. “I cannot even imagine if we had never moved here,” she says. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”
2020 has seen some big changes for Fletchall, apart from the obvious ones. Namely, she closed her online shop and moved to content creation full-time. We talked to the influencer about how that move has pushed her creatively, the “life-changing” home project she completed this year, and what makes her feel at home in her dreamy space.
Apartment Therapy: What were your design inspirations growing up? What is your inspiration now?
Mallory Fletchall: I grew up in a suburb in Kansas and my main inspirations were found via movies and television. I didn’t really grow up seeing a lot of really incredible spaces in person. I was mostly just at home or at my friend’s houses. It was a typical Midwest situation. My mom and I, we’re huge movie buffs and love watching movies all the time. I actually think that’s when I started seeing some Nancy Meyers movies. She’s a director that’s really well-known for her aesthetic and the designs of her films, and gosh, just seeing these big kitchens and these spaces that are so well-collected and beautiful, I think that was my first time really looking and dreaming about what it would be like to live in a space like that.
Now, gosh, I get it from all over the place. Living in New York, I love to go on long walks and just look up, look around. The architecture’s super inspiring to me. I love it when I can see into the windows of some places, especially in the city, and beautiful brownstones and you can see the elaborate moldings and you can see the chandeliers, and it’s just so fun. Same with walking around someplace like Soho, where you can see the lofts. And then I love, of course, looking at Pinterest. I have a lot of friends on Instagram that are always turning out incredible work, and it’s really inspiring. I love seeing the energy that others put into their work, and it in turn inspires me and gives me energy. And books. I love looking through old coffee table books, old magazines. I mean, new, too, but it’s really fun to look back.
AT: What’s your favorite project you worked on in 2020, and why?
MF: Practically, we made some updates [to our bathroom] that have made our life so much better. Our bathroom was really dated and I didn’t love spending time in there. Of course it’s small—it’s a Brooklyn apartment—but I didn’t feel any kind of calm. With our time during lockdown, we were finally able to spend the time to make the changes we wanted. We replaced the vanity; we took out the sliding shower door that had been there since the ’90s that was just gross. We painted and put up a new mirror. Honestly, it was a relatively affordable project. We used really cheap materials, but it turned out really nice, and now I’m proud of it.
That has been actually life-changing while we’re here, but then from the design aspect, I think the redesign I’ve been working on in our living room over the last few months has been my most exciting project because I’ve really leaned into bringing back some historical details. I brought in a carved stone mantle and put it where a fireplace used to be. I brought in a monumental pier mirror that I sourced online and put it between the two front windows. I like to imagine that I’m bringing back pieces that would have been here in the early 1900s. I love looking at brownstone interiors when they have those details, and I was like, “You know what? This place used to have those things, and we can bring those in and we can lean into that.” That’s what I’ve been most excited about because we have a really small space. There’s only so much you can do that is cool. The evolution that that room has gone through over the last year—I don’t even recognize the old photos of it from a year ago.
AT: What three words would you use to describe your work or style?
MF: Collected. We have a lot of pieces we’ve collected over the years of vintage, antique art. Layered. I love layering different textiles and materials with the vintage. And warm. I want to say warm because, even though we have mostly white walls, especially in the living room where we spend the most time, we really want it to be cozy in there. We’ve been trying to bring in this warm palette, and velvet, and pieces that are comfortable and make you comfortable. Even just looking at them, it feels like a hug.
AT: Is there a specific piece of work or design of yours that you think is particularly indicative of who you are or what you’re trying to do?
MF: The kitchen project. There are playful elements: the half-moon, hand-painted tile floors and the blue cabinets. There’s a real mix of affordable and high-end, in that we have IKEA laminate foam marble counters—they cost less than $100—and the IKEA sink and handle pulls from Amazon, and the plywood cabinet is a warm, unique custom piece. I think it ties in everything I care about, which is having a functional kitchen, but having it in a soft color palette that I’m always drawn to, having the playful elements in the floor and in some of the colors, and then having that attainable aspect — yes, there are expensive bits, but there are also parts that many people would be able to recreate just by a simple trip to IKEA or wherever, really.
AT: What makes you feel at home in your own space?
MF: I’d say spending time in this cozy atmosphere that we’ve created for ourselves over the years. It’s full of pieces we’ve collected. They speak to our history as a couple. I love to cozy up on our sofa and light candles and dim our table lamps and read. And our cats. Sounds silly, but being surrounded by each other, having each other and all the things we care about. I do make changes to rooms, but I don’t often switch art and knickknacks and large furniture because we’ve become attached, and that’s a huge part of making a place feel like home. It’s lived in.
AT: How has 2020 changed your perspective on or approach to your work?
MF: In this past year, I have gone full-time doing content creation in the home decor sphere, mostly on social media. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment. I don’t own a big house somewhere where there are never-ending projects. I’m not really a DIY girl. I’ve realized this past year that I have to be creative as much as possible and figure out how to consistently create content or designs that are going to continue to inspire, even though it’s maybe something a lot of people have seen over and over. This year has made me realize that I need to push myself. I need to be willing to evolve and as quickly as I can.
And this year has made me realize, like many people, I think, that I crave a larger space. My husband and I have realized that we crave a home of our own we can really put our touch on. We put our touch on a rental apartment pretty well, but I know that it’s different when you own and you can claim ownership over your space.
Nothing is set in stone by any means. We are beginning the process of looking for our own property here in New York, either in the city or upstate. I hope that that happens as soon as possible because I want to take everyone that follows me along for the entire ride. That will really open things up and allow me to share the process from start to finish.
AT: What, in your mind, is the power of good design?
MF: The power of good design has the ability to not only inspire others that see it and in turn find their own design style, but can allow the person living in the space to feel at home, to feel contented in their space, and wake up each morning and walk into their kitchen, for instance, and just be amazed at what either they’ve created, or they’ve collaborated on, or they’ve even had somebody else do.
It matters. It can make you feel so good on days when you’re not feeling the best. It’s really incredible, especially when you’re able to have friends or family over and they comment on something, even something little that you’ve done in your space that you’re a little bit proud of. It feels really, really good. The power of good design can really create a sense of home, and a sense of pride, and be a constant, everyday inspiration moving forward.
Interview has been edited and condensed.