There are so many talented people that walk into our store everyday and Rebecca Meredith is no exception. Since the first time she came into the store I could sense her creativity and after discovering her work I knew she had to be interviewed for the Ånde journal.
Rebecca is the owner, designer and creative mastermind behind Rebecca Meredith Interiors based in Huron County and a mom of a spirited little boy named Finn. We sat down and chatted about her inspirations, her summers spent at her family's Fishing Lodge and the learning that comes from motherhood!
Hey Rebecca! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. We always like to start off by having people tell us a little bit about themselves so could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Sure! My name is Rebecca, I was born and raised in Toronto and am now residing in Huron County. I am a mother to a rather active, little, four year old, two large dogs and wife to a pretty stand up guy. My husband grew up in Goderich and once we decided we wanted to start a family, we decided to move closer to where Jon grew up. I love large, informal gatherings, being near water, hosting, travel, and of course design. I am happiest when working with my hands; be it on the wheel, making pottery, getting my hands dirty in the garden or putting together a material palette for a design project.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and how you started your journey into entrepreneurship?
I am an interior Designer; I have worked in set design, furniture design, merchandising, residential & hospitality design. My initial stint in university was in Environmental studies and yet somehow I landed a career in advertising both in the UK and in Toronto. It took me a while to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my life, but eventually I went back to school for design and haven’t really looked back since. Once my husband Jon and I decided we wanted to move to the country, I started my own design studio, which was then quickly followed by the arrival of our child Finn and then COVID eight months later. Alongside reno-ing a barn loft, that we moved into when Finn was just a few months old, I also started taking on small, manageable projects. One project has led to another and I have had a wonderful time learning, growing from various blunders, often failing and getting up again.
I love that you really just took the leap to starting your own thing even though so much was happening around you! It’s just so inspiring. Can you paint a picture of the day in the life?
Well, most mornings I am woken up by my four year old proclaiming “its morning time” while he holds my face in his hands. We amble downstairs, where I make him breakfast and myself a soup bowl, sized latte and let the dogs out. Besides my morning wake up, honestly every day is so different from the next. Some days I am doing site visits, some days I drive to the middle of nowhere to pick up a piece of furniture, other days I am at home tackling the never ending pile of laundry and doing admin, while I question my life choices. It is rarely boring, often challenging, especially with a partner who is also running his own business and spends an extensive period of the year in Northern Ontario. But the joy of determining what I do with my days outweighs the stress of our busy life. I find as a self-employed person, it's pretty easy for me to get side-tracked or distracted, so I’ve learned that lists are kind of crucial in dividing up the day between work, family, home & other things. They really are the only way to get anything done while also staying semi-sane. Once Finn is home for the day, I try and make a concerted effort to shut off, which as you may know as an entrepreneur, is sometimes incredibly difficult, but getting outside with Finn, be it scootering about town, or picking up chestnuts from the driveway, being with him is always a refreshing way to get some perspective on the day. We tend to have dinner a little late as a family and we also like to entertain quite frequently, as food and coming together to share a meal is a really important ritual in our home. Jon is a wonderful cook and I love having people about and eating, so we make a good pair. Usually after dinner, we make time for a few stories, then it is off to bed for Finn. Once he is down for the night, Jon and I will often watch something together or I will stay up too late working or getting into a British espionage thriller (my favourite). It is not glamorous, often messy, but it is a life we have worked hard for and one I do not take for granted.
I think you summed up life with kids and business and finding the balance perfectly. You mentioned your husband spends a lot of time in Northern Ontario and I know you and Finn are up there for quite a bit of the summer. Can you describe your life at the Fishing Lodge a little? I imagine it would be quite different from your life here.
Oh gosh, it is wild, chaotic and wonderful and so different from our life in southern Ontario. The Lodge is located on an old Hudson Bay Trading Post on one of the largest lakes in Ontario. My husband’s parents started it almost 40 years ago and my husband Jon & his brothers spent all of their childhood summers growing up there. Finn spends most of his time shoeless, adventuring on the beach, pestering staff, fishing and chasing the dogs; I work in the gardens, oversee the camp staff and help my husband in the office. We are about as remote as you can get, as all of our customers, groceries & supplies come in by boat or by floatplane. The weather can be mercurial, with hot, dry days, fantastic thunderstorms and often all four seasons in the span of an afternoon. It is a very intense but short season, lasting from mid-May to mid-September, but it keeps us busy all year round. I am still finding an equilibrium between flying back for client work and family and being present at the lodge.
Sounds incredible and so amazing for Finn to experience both realities! When did you first become interested in interior design?
For as long as I can remember I have always been drawn to it. From a young age, my mother always involved me, when it came to decorating the house, so I learned a lot from just being around her. She is forever resourceful, amazingly capable and fantastic at stretching the value of a dollar, while making the whole process thrilling. Some of my most favourite childhood memories are of us tagging along while she would hunt through garage sales and consignment shops. My mother taught me how to look at old things, how to care for them and find value in their craftsmanship and antiquity. I am a huge sentimentalist, so I guess I love the mystery of old things and all the stories they carry, I think it gives them a soul. This love for objects grew over time, into a passion for interior design, as I never tire of creating stories by pairing art and furniture and other interesting objects together. The fact that I can do it for a living still amazes me.
What led you down the path you are on today?
This is a tough question to answer. My life has taken me to so many different places and I have been so lucky to have lived in and traveled to many corners of the world. My first degree in environmental studies also plays a pivotal role in how I approach my work as it informs all the choices that I make. The design industry is hugely wasteful, so I make it a priority of sourcing ethical, local and vintage furniture, choosing with intention and community in mind over the sake of convenience. Designing with sustainability at the forefront makes me look at a project and examine what needs a lick of paint and new lighting or an entire gut. I love working with old buildings as preservation is so important, and nothing beats the quality and craftsmanship of the past. Renovating for the sake of it is wasteful and sometimes it is best to leave good enough alone.
You have such a unique and discerning eye for design- where do you typically draw your inspiration from?
Oh gosh, thank you! I draw inspiration from everywhere honestly; travel is a big one, fashion, architecture, history, the natural world, being in other people’s homes, seeing how they live and what they treasure. I also adore Ilse Crawford, Rita Konig & Beata Heuman. They are all so brilliant, wonderfully insightful and inspiring interior designers.
How has your personal experience informed your work and how has that evolved over time?
I think motherhood has allowed me to become far less precious. It has also enabled me to find beauty in and appreciation for the unfinished, the imperfect and clutter that comes with life; for children’s toys found in odd places, dogs napping on sofas, unmade beds, and the remains of a delicious meal, cluttering up the counter top. We must make room for life!
Kids are such great teachers in being present and finding joy in the smallest places. Can you talk a bit about your experience/ transition into motherhood?
Well, it wasn’t been the prettiest journey! Trying to run a business of your own while also being a mother is really tough. Anyone who says otherwise is not sharing the full picture. After the new born stage and especially during COVID, I like many, felt incredibly isolated. I was in a new town, far from what I knew and miles from the community that felt most like home, all with a new baby in tow. Thankfully three of my best friends had babies within months of Finn being born, and although we were spread out all over the world, this group of women became a lifeline for me. We all would send pictures, videos and voice notes documenting our daily life, our baby’s milestones, our personal struggles, dreams and worries. It was wonderful. I think friendship is what got me through that difficult period and it continues to play an important role in my life.
Do you have any advice for parents who are trying to figure out the delicate balance between entrepreneurship and parenthood?
Go easy on yourself; would be my first piece of advice. You are not the same person you were before you became a mother and nor should you be. You may lose sight of yourself, or who you once were, but you will find yourself again, over time, and you will be a stronger and wiser version of that woman. The things you once thought were most important will no longer carry as much weight as they once did. And all of that is ok. I think we are incredibly tough on women, mothers especially. Societal pressures make it rather impossible to feel like you are succeeding at anything, without dropping the ball in another aspect of your life. It is a constant balance and what feels right for one person may not for another. Try and listen to your gut, make room for downtime and drown out the noise. I also like to keep in mind that comparison is the thief of joy; no one’s journey will look quite like your own, as this is your story
Time management has been a big challenge for me, feeling like I have to be all things to all people, is something I have always struggled with. I have a really hard time saying no, so I tend to have a pretty full plate. I also have found it really difficult to find time for myself and make time for rest. I am getting better at prioritizing both, but it is still a juggling act.
What has been the biggest/happiest surprise for you on this journey?
I think becoming a mother has helped me prioritize what is most important to me. Finn has also been a major source of inspiration to push myself, to stay curious, work with compassion and to try and make the world a little brighter for future generations. Becoming a mother has given me an incredible amount of confidence in my ability to do difficult things. It has also made me realize I am a lot tougher than I thought.
What excites you these days in work and in life?
Great question! I have been thinking a lot about how our medical institutions, schools and hospice care facilities are designed. It is something that has fascinated me for a while and something I would love to delve deeper into. I think these types of environments are crucial to our well- being and can impact how we care for the sick and elderly and how we raise our children. I also find that most of these environments have a tendency to feel sterile, cold and wholly uninspiring, which is such a missed opportunity for connection with the natural world and to one another. I think examining the choice of materiality in these spaces alongside all of their unique requirements is fascinating and has huge potential for growth as our population ages and younger generations enter into the world.
Are you working on any projects right now that are really exciting and inspiring for you?
Yes I have a few up my sleeve, one in particular that I have been consulting on for the last two years. One of my closest friends bought a house in Sardinia and bravely enlisted me to help her with the design. I am flying over to finally see it in the flesh. We will also be flying to Rome to source furnishings and lighting. To say I am excited would be an understatement! My husband and I are also in the beginning stages of slowly giving our fishing lodge a refresh. Nothing drastic, just fine tuning some details, pairing back here and there and breathing new life into the interior spaces with carefully selected art and furnishings and updates to the kitchens and bathrooms. It will absolutely be a labour of love.
How has your style evolved over your lifetime and do you think it is still evolving?
I think I have slowly refined my style, and yes it has absolutely evolved over time. I have become more choosey and less drawn to what is trendy. I go with what I love, I aim for classic, I like to play with scale, and am far more open to colour and pattern, I seek out well-made furnishings, while having a soft spot for weird, slightly odd objects that add humour to a space.
Any advice for people who are starting their journey with interior design projects?
Take your time! Get to know what you like. Spend time in your home and learn to know your patterns in how you use the space throughout the day. Take into account natural light, the changing of the seasons, how you want your spaces to make you feel and what your needs and requirements are. Make note of spaces you have seen or spent time in that you have really enjoyed. Start a Pinterest page of inspiration. Do some research on costing and be clear about your budget.
Thank you so much for chatting today Rebecca. It is always a pleasure and we look forward to hearing about Italy and following along with you! You can find Rebecca on instagram at @rebecca_meredith_interiors and you can sign up for her monthly newsletter on her website at https://www.rebeccameredithinteriors.com/ for design inspiration and some delicious recipes!