Homepolish designers clearly have a knack for knowing what looks good where, but it turns out so do Homepolish employees. We sat down with Emily Orlansky to talk about how she made her dream of a family-friendly Austin home into a reality.
Photos by Julie Holder
Some people are just too adorable for words—and our own Regional Manager Emily Orlansky falls definitively into that camp. It’s no surprise the Austin home she shares with her husband Benji and her son Maxwell is just as charmingly adorable. We talked to her about making a home when you’re surrounded by inspiration, creating a kid friendly space an adult can still love, and how she used our Concierge service to make setting up their family home fairly incident free.
What was the vibe/look you were trying to achieve?
The aesthetic of the house itself screams “modern farmhouse.” There is a place in my heart for a Joanna Gaines-y vibe, but I didn’t want it to feel like we just pulled up from Magnolia Farm.
I wanted to balance the farmhouse feeling with a warm, coastal vibe, a la Amber Interiors. We went to Ojai for our babymoon and that aesthetic has really stuck with me—earthy but not hippie, clean and airy but not cold, pretty but not stuffy. Also important to me: “baby-friendly” not “baby takes over the whole house.”
How has working at Homepolish inspired your style?
In my role as Region Manager, I work with the amazingly talented teams in Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, and Philadelphia. I really get a front row seat into how creating a space that you love can change your quality of life.
Our first house was essentially personality-less. At the time, I only really focused on the nursery (partially because I was pregnant and was feeling super nest-y), but now we’re so lucky to have a house that has its own personality to balance our style throughout.
I have an ongoing mental list of “who from my team would I want to design each room in my house?” because each of the people I work with have such an amazing point of view.
Were there any projects you had seen us do that inspired you?
Of course I have my all-time favorite Homepolish projects.I get a joyous, visceral reaction to the light fixture and console from this home tour. This one was from several years ago and I’ve always loved it. I mean, that dimensional gallery wall? Gimme! I love that our kitchen is so white, but this kitchen transformation gives me chills. This project was fun because I saw it from start to finish. I was a Client Services Associate at the time and the clients lived three doors down from our old apartment in Chicago. I recognized the address when they signed up, chatted with them, assigned them a fantastic designer, and kept tabs along the way. Now it’s gotten a lot of press, the client and designer are pals, and it’s stunning. The layered textiles on the couch definitely inspired the indigo throw on our dining bench.
How did you use Homepolish to make the project easier?
There were two times where Homepolish Concierge really saved the day for us. We bought the couch in our living room from West Elm. It was delayed for three months longer than anticipated and arrived in the wrong size. After initially freaking out (I called Benji crying), I remembered that I bought it from Shopping List, looped in the Concierge team, and they had it solved by the following day while getting all of our shipping fees refunded and getting us an additional discount on the correct couch. I was blown away and never had to speak to the vendor myself!
The second instance was that our closing on this house was delayed by about four weeks and I was able to change the delivery date for a multi-vendor order and still have a kitchen table on move-in day!
Your house has so much personality—and amazing art! Can you give us the story behind some of the pieces.
I collect the book The Little Prince in every country I go to, so those are on display in the living room, and the framed quote from that book was my dad’s when he was little.
The prints in our dining room are by Homepolish photographer Claire Esparros! Those were another Shopping List win (we got them framed by Framebridge). So easy and immediately conveys that coastal vibe we wanted.
The cacti prints in our master bedroom were from Etsy. I love our plants downstairs, but to be honest, I’m not the best plant mom, so hanging pictures of them is a safer bet for me.
I’m super proud of the elephant art I put together in Max’s room. I have a creative eye, but this about maxed out my minimal DIY capabilities. The head itself is Fiona Walker, the crown is a recent addition–it’s just from the Target party section—and the frame is lined in Chasing Paper palm print removable wallpaper. It wasn’t rocket science, but I feel like it brings the room together. The Land of Nod weaving was a baby shower present from my Homepolish coworkers.
We wanted to keep things in the house pretty simple but wanted one area that, as cheesy as it sounds, tells “the story of our family”. The hallway wall seemed perfect. It’s right as you walk up the stairs, breaks up the white space, creates a central location for the art that represents our life together so far.
Your space is kid-friendly but so stylish. How do you balance everything?
I wanted to make sure that there were plenty of spaces where Maxwell could play without us having to tell him “don’t go there!” without sacrificing our own aesthetic. I knew a foam mat in the living room would make a lot of sense because of the concrete floors, but that doesn’t mean I needed to get a bright, primary hued option. The black and white one serves the same purpose, is just as safe, and looks way cuter. Same with the built-ins. They take up so much real estate that I was determined to make sure they looked “shelfie” worthy, so I kept the glass, candles, and cacti beyond his reach. We’re proactive about minimizing stressful baby situations so that we don’t feel like we have to chase after him every time he goes exploring.
Please tell us a little more about the tiny house under the stairs!
Oh my goodness I hated it at first! We toured the house with the builder and I asked him to get a quote on what it would take to remove. I just thought it was so cheesy! But now it’s one of Maxwell’s favorite spots in the house, plus it’s an amazing place to put all of his big, loud, colorful toys away at night so I don’t trip on a rocket ship after bedtime. We call it his “baby man cave” or “Maxwell’s Mansion.”
Anything else we should know?
I wish we were the kind of people who could fall in love with a fixer-upper and really make it our own, but the realities of the Austin housing market with a then-10-month-old meant a new build was really our best option. It’s serendipitous that we found a new home with so much built-in personality in a neighborhood we’re thrilled to live in. I was so happy that the builders didn’t shy away from thoughtful touches, from the shiplap to the wood framed windows to the barn doors to the tongue-and-groove subflooring upstairs. Now that I list that out, I realize I’m just saying that there is a LOT of wood in this house and even though I wouldn’t have identified that as our style, it totally works.
It’s not really a feel-good house tour story, but our home was broken into about three days before we closed. All of the appliances were stolen, the bathroom sink was removed, a window was broken, the light fixtures were ripped out. It was really unsettling—and it’s part of the reason we set ourselves up so quickly. We wanted it to feel like home as soon as possible so we didn’t have to focus on that part of this house’s history. Everything about buying, moving, and decorating can feel really emotional, and even though, thankfully, we hadn’t moved our stuff in yet, this really amplified that. It was definitely a lesson learned that even buying what you consider your dream home can have complications and requires flexibility.
We’re also so are excited to be listing our place on both Airbnb and Kid & Coe. As frequent travellers, it’s nearly impossible to find a rental that specifies itself as kid-friendly and comes equipped with a crib, toys, high chair, etc. We’re excited to offer the conveniences of our home to other parents looking to explore new cities with their little ones. Also, listing on these sites is a big motivation to keep things clean and decluttered around the house. Win-win.
View additional photos and sourcing in the gallery below.