Erin Gates is the founder and principal designer of Erin Gates Design, a Boston, MA-based interior, fashion and event styling firm, and she is also the author and editor of the popular design blog Elements of Style. Her eye for textiles paid up when she fell in love with these Louis XVI style armchairs on Sotheby’s Home. After a reupholstery update, they blended seamlessly into a modern office space.
What inspired this career path for you?
I grew up in a creative household with parents who worked in both the apparel and architectural industries. So from a young age, I was exposed to fashion and interiors and learned to love the beauty of a well-curated space and classic design. I worked for a bit in the fashion industry as well as the art scene, and ultimately decided that interior design really combined all my loves — I am able to utilize my design skills and love of fabrics and textiles, as well as my knowledge of art and even event planning. It’s the perfect career for me.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
The internet! Who isn’t inspired by the wealth of talent, creativity and worldliness that the internet gives us access to? I can spend hours going down a design rabbit hole online — it’s endless! Also I am a huge fan of the Texture app, which allows me to read all my favorite interior design magazines, and save imagery easily to use later or share with clients.
Tell us about your creative process.
When designing a room, I really take into account the way a person lives and what their life story is. I want it to be pretty, but also function really well and make life easier for my clients, not fussier. Initially, we review inspiration images and pull lots of fabrics, rugs and soft goods together, and make schemes we think will work. Basically a big pile of things on the studio floor and conference table. It’s a big puzzle! As a team, we look at everything and refine our choices, and pair them with the furniture pieces we’ve identified through creating a floor plan, and then add in the last touches — art, accents, more textiles. We don’t send anything to our clients until we feel really confident about what we’ve pulled together.
Describe your style in six words or less.
What’s a staple in your tool kit?
Really durable upholstery basics. No one wants a sofa that stains easily, and there are such great options now that are basically stain-repellent; we constantly are using them.
Who do you look up to in the design world?
I love the work of Steven Gambrel — I think he is a master of this profession.
If you could design a space for anyone, what kind of space and for whom would it be?
I’d have to say Tina Fey. I just love that woman and think she’d be a hoot to create a space for!
Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase or quote.
“Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style,” from Billy Baldwin. So true!
Which design blog, website, TV show or magazine would you be lost without?
My own blog for sure! It’s been 10 years since I started it, and it serves as inspiration for ME as well as my readers. I have to be constantly searching for new ideas to share and projects to inspire others, that it really drives me as a designer. Not to mention all the meaningful interactions I’ve had through writing it. As for a TV show — I love me some Fixer Upper! And Joanna Gaines used my book to style a lot of the spaces, so it’s fun to look for it!
What do you love about Sotheby’s Home?
I adore the ability to not only source vintage items but also showroom floor samples! It’s a brilliant way to give everyone access to incredibly high-end goods at much gentler prices!