Seattle is lucky to have a robust community of incredible women living within its emerald gates. Case in point: Tiffany Wendel, personal stylist and single mother of twins Lula and Flynn.
It's not surprising that large life shifts impact the way we see the space we inhabit in the world — both in the metaphorical and literal sense. This was the case for Tiffany, whose vision for her home changed after her divorce. Her desire to make the space "her own" led to an updated color scheme brought to life through a blend of saved-for-pieces, garage sale scores and finds from the likes of Target and Cost Plus. This approach, she says, is much like how she curates her personal style: "I have to get creative with fashion to get the look I want without unlimited funds."
Tiffany is a testament to what happens when a person allows her inner work to influence her outer surroundings. Tiffany's space is beautiful, thoughtful and bright, not unlike the lovely family who inhabits it. Read on for more wisdom from this equal parts rad and elegant woman.
Tell us who lives in your home and how long you have been in this space?
For the past three years, it’s been me and my twelve-year-old twins, Flynn and Lula. Oh, and Twig, our rescue dog.
You are a professional fashion stylist with a strong eye and a minimal, clean wardrobe. We're curious to hear how would you describe your interiors aesthetic.
I spend my work day immersed in my client’s fashion and a flurry of clothes and different styles so it is important for me that my space be calm and decided. I am drawn to rich color, texture and print. I have to get creative with fashion to get the look I want without unlimited funds.
I am very selective about the items I can invest in and often save for the classics and shop vintage or sales for the fun pieces. I am very much the same with my house with a mix of Target, antiques, garage sale finds, Cost Plus and then a few pieces I have saved for. Honesty, I have even brought in items I found on the side of the road.
Your family dynamic changed a few years ago. How did that impact how you lived in your home? Were there changes you had been longing to make, did it take time for the ideas and vision to percolate, or was it a different process all together?
I went through a divorce three years ago and was lucky enough to keep this special home. The house was a bit sparse after the split and there were areas that I needed to start over with. The living room was the first space that I wanted to make my own. The walls used to be pink and the sofa was gold — I loved it but when I initially created the space but I was struggling with living in the rainy Northwest and was determined to bring in cheer and brightness with my decor.
I found that a way through this difficult time was appreciating my home — I wanted to embrace living here and dive into the beautiful saturated greens and blues of West Seattle. I completely cleared the room, except for the wrap around couch that I eventually re-covered in green velvet, and the light fixture above the fireplace was a garage sale find I spray painted white.
My interior designer friend, Sienna Rubel, helped me so much with every step and suggested I make the room a blank canvas by painting the walls white with high gloss light blue trim. I lived with the room nearly empty and brought in piece by piece over the last three years. I love the direction the space is going now and feel like it truly represents me.
Which elements of your home were most important for you (nostalgia, well-being, emotional health, etc.) to maintain for both your children and yourself during this time?
My first priority was the kids' rooms. Even though some of their belongings were now in two homes, I wanted them to feel like they had a space that was whole and their own. I moved my daughter into the former guest room and she was able to keep the french antique bed we found in San Francisco. I also found a pink rug at Target that instantly made it her room and painted the walls sky blue. She has an antique dressing table we found in Chagrin Falls Cleveland, where the twins were born.
For Flynn, he is in a house with all females and it was important to me for him to know he still had a place to be himself. I painted his walls orange and white stripes for his favorite football team, The Cleveland Browns, and made him an Xbox station and a place to hang out with friends. I also created each of them a bulletin board with pictures and family memories to remind them that both of their parents love them and that we are family, albeit in different form.
You are raising two teens — any advice for those who are inching towards that territory? Do you find you parent your children differently?
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The twins are turning 13 in April and I see them becoming more independent every day. I am soaking up every cuddle and kiss I can get and also trying to give them space. Any time Lula asks me advice on her fashion I remind her that she’s the expert on 12-year-old style and I am learning from her (only difference now is that she’s fitting into my clothes). I want to let them know they are loved and supported and also try to release a bit and trust them to become exactly who they want to be.
What is your favorite room in the house and why?
My bedroom is my little sanctuary. I have all white simple sheets and matte black walls. The contrast of the black with the light-filled windows and green trees makes it feel like my little nest. When times were really hard I remember thinking you have your bed and you have your pillow and everything will be okay. I now wake up in the morning and can see the Olympics from my window and feel really lucky to be where I am.
What served as the inspiration for your living room re-design?
A Mandala art piece I saw in a magazine served as a jumping off point. Yoga is a big part of my life and I knew I also wanted a meditative vibe. I found the Gold Buddha at a garage sale and that, combined with the art pieces from my sister, Tracy Rocca, and friend, Deb Achak, set the tone and palette of golds, purples and blues.
You have a collection of things in your home that are from various female artists, jewelry designers, etc. Was this a conscious choice to align with these women, pieces you naturally gravitated to, or perhaps a bit of both?
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by women, family and friends, who are creating art I love and appreciate. Having their pieces brings a bit of them into my home. My sister Christen is an incredible jewelry designer, CAM Jewelry is her line, and she created a custom necklace for me last year. The gold hand in the Gyan Mudra represents one seeking to gain knowledge or insight into life or a specific issue. Next she will do a reading for me and then a custom stone will be placed in the palm of the hand. This personal Talisman is something I wear close to my heart and I can’t wait to see it evolve.
Jen Ament is another friend and her concert hands were something I needed to have. Jen is so real and loving and also so powerful and these hands represented girl power to me and also letting go and having fun.I am so lucky to have both of these pieces and I feel that everyday.
Tracy gave me the large scale piece in my dining room for our birthday last year (we are identical twins). It came in a huge crate and I needed two people to help me unpack it. When I saw it for the first time I cried — it is so filled with light, blue on one side and purple on the other representing her and me. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t stop and pause and take that piece in.
Deb’s piece is something I was dying to have and the living room's energy is built around water. Being near water is where I am happiest and this piece both calms and fills me up. Having their work is such a blessing and completes the space for me in a way that only art with meaning can.
What are three pieces of personal style advice that are universal truths (in your book)?
I think style is an amazing anti-aging tool, wearing clothes with solid structure and finding your fashion voice will always turn heads.
I also believe style is so much about confidence and owning and feeling good about who we are and how we show up.
Fashion should be fun and not too serious — shoes can be art!
What would you say to a woman who is currently exploring or going through a divorce? How can she create a space that feels like their own after sharing it with someone for years?
I do not wish divorce on anyone but life is sometimes unpredictable and our path is much different than envisioned. I think it is important to honor the past and history you built — it's okay to keep the pieces and memories that still hold meaning to you. With that said, it is also okay to clear your space and live with it for a bit before jumping into redecorating. Give yourself time to heal and discover who you are and then slowly rebuild with intention.
The house represents your new life in a way and it will take time to feel whole and strong again. Like your life, your house will be broken down a bit but then rebuilt in an authentic, cool way that you did on your own. I am living so much more real, now and true to me. Accepting and relating to the imperfections in myself and others has brought me stronger relationships — even if at times it meant having all my girlfriends over to sit in my empty living room.