These are the kind of women you want running home and garden magazines. No shmaltz, no filler – and the content is good too. I first interviewed Julie Carlson, editor-in-chief of Remodelista and Michelle Slatalla, founder of Gardenista in twenty-fourteen!
I love sifting through our own archives for seasonal inspiration. When I find a trend-proof profile like this one, it is a cathartic reminder that good taste bears out and building a slow life really does last the changing tides.
I was impressed at just how well these simple design insights held up and pray that neither of these women has since redecorated! Are you as stuck on Julie’s kitchen and dining chairs as we are?
Between the two of them, Julie and Michelle have been on the editorial staffs of greats like The New Yorker, San Francisco Magazine, and the New York Times. And the journalistic style of the sites shines through in a way we love.
Originally, we’d asked the editors of both of these regular TCM reads to let us in on what’s inspiring them lately. The home vignettes shown are Julie’s. But the tips on home and garden come from both women. Absorb these good garden vibes and enjoy their insights that have us slipping toward that homey feeling we all need now…homemade tomato soup, German kitchen goods, and all.
My design aesthetic in 3 words:
Julie Carlson: Simple, serene, relaxed.
My Gardening philosophy:
Michelle Slatalla: If deer hate it, I love it.
If you could live in any other building but your home, where would it be?
JC: I’d love to live in a NYC loft; a wide open space with floor-to-ceiling factory windows, views of the Hudson and beat-up wood floors.
If you could transport any garden in the world to your yard, which would you love to have?
MS: Virginia Woolf’s at Monk’s House. With Virginia Woolf in it.
Top kitchen staples:
JC: Maldon sea salt, Fog Linen tea towels, Mason Cash mortar and pestle, Staub Dutch Oven, salad spinner.
MS: Frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, frozen chicken broth (I hoard).
Weeknight dinner in a rush:
JC: Penne pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. Take a container of Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, slice them in half, toss them with a couple of splashes of good olive oil and a couple of pinches of Maldon sea salt and let rest for a few minutes in a large pasta bowl. Boil a pot of salted water and add penne rigate. Take a container of small mozzarella balls, halve them, add them to the tomato/oil mix. When the pasta is al dente, add to the tomato mozzarella mix and toss. Take a bunch of basil and, using kitchen shears, cut into ribbons. Toss well and serve with a few grindings of fresh pepper.
MS: Homemade tomato soup (following my foolproof 4-2-1 recipe) and buttery grilled cheese sandwiches.
Top musts for dining al fresco:
MS: Candles (in high-sided votive glasses to protect the flame from wind).
What do you love to display in the home from outdoors?
JC: I love to display branches from our apple tree in a giant vase in my dining room, especially when the apples are golden and droop poetically.
MS: Impromptu posies in a jelly jar on the kitchen table, usually including both white roses (they have a long season here) and mint for greenery.
Fave thing about being outdoors currently:
MS: The low slant of sunlight against buildings.
Home goods you love:
JC: I have a not-so-secret obsession with German and Swedish brooms, brushes, dustpans and other cleaning implements made with natural materials.
Garden, farmer’s market or farm delivery box – what’s your fave?
MS: Garden – it’s three steps away and everything’s free. Bring scissors.
3 must-read design books/references:
JC: My three current favorites are: The Inspired Home: Nests of Creatives; Plain Simple Useful: The Essence of Conran Style, by Terence Conran; and, because I grew up in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, Cape Cod Modern: Midcentury Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape.
MS: The Remodelista book (I have about 20 pages dog-eared); The Decoration of Houses by Edith Wharton; and The Surprising Life of Constance Spry.
Fave thing to grow:
MS: Parsley. And chives. I cut and cook with both every day.
Best garden smell:
MS: Roses, mint, lavender, jasmine and heliotrope, heliotrope, heliotrope.
Fave design quote:
JC: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris.
MS: “This place doesn’t fit me since Katherine died,” E.B. White said of his home in Maine after losing his wife. If you read one book this year, make it Katherine White’s: Onward and Upward in the Garden