January Tastemaker Spotlight: Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind

Erin Loechner

Photo Credit: Betsy King

All That is Awesome

For our very first tastemaker of 2013 we wanted someone fresh, fun, and full of amazing ideas. Someone with an eye for design and fantastic sense of style. Erin Loechner, of Design for Mankind, is all of that and more!

Erin chronicles her passion for design on her inspirational and often funny blog, Design for Mankind, where she writes about all that is awesome—including edible crayons, technology-inspired jewelry, and optimistic planters.

Erin doesn’t just blog about design, though—she lives it! For anyone who ever tackled (or dreams of tackling) a home remodel, Erin is an incredible inspiration. Together with her husband Ken, she turned a rundown home in Illinois into a Scandinavian-style dream home full of jaw-dropping design elements. Each stage of their renovation process was chronicled via video on HGTV.com’s Design Happens. You can watch every step of their progress, from gorgeous before and afters to step-by-step tutorials on how to create some of their DIY decor.

Learn a little more about the woman behind the design in the interview below, and don’t forget to check out her Pure Home Tastemaker picks!

Your blog is a source of inspiration for a lot of people out there, but we were wondering: Where does your inspiration come from? What are three places or people you get design inspiration from?

You know, I tend to be continually surprised by my own inspirations. When I sit down to source something design-driven for my blog, I let my mind wander and my mouse click until I spot something that elicits some sort of positive response. I define inspiration as that response; that driving force that leads me to share creativity, whether it be someone who smells library books or designs apocalyptic clothing(!). I truly never know what I’ll be inspired by next. Isn’t that the beauty of the Internet—one big rabbit hole of surprise?

I do, of course, have a few favorite creatives that I’m continually amazed by: Miranda July for her art / Anne Lamott for her words / Iris Apfel for her spirit.

You don’t just blog about design, you live it! Your home in Indiana is a DIY work of art crafted and designed by you and your husband. What was the process like planning your projects and transforming your home? How long did it take to get it to where it is now?

Ah, thank you! It’s funny; I actually don’t think of myself as a DIY person. I love to shop, decorate and style spaces, but DIY is incredibly difficult for me (so! much! measuring!). My husband and I make a great team in that way—he’s a DIY king and I’m his handy sidekick.

The home took a little over two years to complete from start to finish, and that included a total gut renovation involving expanding the kitchen, moving bathrooms and a sunroom addition. We replaced flooring, drywall, installed beams and even re-sided the entire home ourselves. It was an incredibly intense process that I don’t wish to repeat, but I’m so very glad we took the plunge. Our home is perfectly customized for us (we even added a Finnish sauna in the master suite!), and I love how we transformed a rundown house into a cozy, just-for-us home.

You’ve chronicled many of your home makeovers on HGTV.com, do you have any new projects in the works or is your home remodeling complete?

It’s mostly complete, but we still have an unfinished basement to tackle when the mood strikes!

How has becoming a new mother changed the way you look at home design?

This is funny, because I just recently switched out our angular wooden ottomans for knitted poufs that won’t gauge Bee’s eyes out as she becomes more mobile. But safety aside, I’m really happy with how we approached the home. Nothing in our space is fussy or polished, so if juice is spilled or finger paint is dripped, it’s not the end of the world. Messes add character, yes?

You use a lot of white in your decorating for a clean and fresh feel, but you also have two dogs! How do you balance pet-friendly with design-friendly?

I knew I couldn’t get away with white carpet, rugs, or sofas, so we simply opted for white walls and window treatments to brighten the space. Our seating is mostly charcoal or black (we love our perfectly wipe-able black leather Chesterfield sofa!) and we rely heavily on removable (washable!) sheepskins to layer some texture in each space. Also, slipcovers are a functional decorator’s manna.

Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind

Photo Credit: Nathan Michael

What advice would you give someone who wants to start his or her own blog?

Do it, do it, do it! Just take the plunge in whatever way feels natural and be authentic to your own voice. Blogging doesn’t have to be a forced medium or business venture. At the heart of it all, blogging should just be a small extension of yourself and your passions.

Do you have any special goals or New Year’s resolutions for 2013?

I actually make non-goals for the new year (it’s a long story!), but I do have a pretty specific plan for 2013 that involves my own collection of design goodness. I can’t wait to share more when the time comes!

 Erin Loechner Pure Home PicksMake sure to check out Erin’s Pure Home Tastemaker Collection to see the rest of her picks!