At Home with mStarr Design
We first came across Emily Starr Alfano's enivable farmhouse when we saw her daughter's adorable playroom on Instagram. Naturally, a deep dive into the rest of her feed commenced and like all good relationships in modern history, we fell in love on the Internet. Emily has a knack for making her space feel effortlessly charming and collected, a skill that she puts to use daily in her business, mStarr Design. We chatted with Emily about her style, how she makes being a full-time mom and a full-time business owner work, and what's next for her company.
Shop Emily's Favorites
Tell us about mStarr Design and how you got here?
mStarr design is at its core a creative studio. Our projects and events are crafted with a focus on thoughtful design, decor, and details. I started mStarr in early 2012 after designing my wedding in 2011. There was a need in the New England market for an event business focusing more on design vs. traditional planning and I filled that need! The whole design + styling movement was just making its way east and through a lot of hard work, good timing, and luck, I managed to secure a full roster of events in the first couple of years. Over the past several years, we’ve been transitioning away from weddings + events and now concentrate on creative direction, interior styling, brand partnerships, and event + editorial design. the interior styling projects (both in-person and e-design) are something I’m particularly passionate about and I thank Instagram for nurturing and growing this area of my business.
Describe a day in your life.
I spend three days a week working and two days a week with my two-year-old daughter, Max. So…no day is the same! With my business nor with my toddler. I start every day by checking emails and drinking a glass of water or tea. I work from home but try to spend some workdays at local coffee shops to be more productive. Otherwise, the dishes scream “clean me!” and the dining room screams “declutter me!” My husband gets Max up and settled so I can sleep in a little bit on our days together, which are filled with activities, playdates, errands, and yes, some work!
Tell us about your home. What is your favorite thing about your space?
Our home is a farmhouse (or antique colonial as they’re often referred to here in New England) that was built in the 1830s. When we moved in four years ago, I wanted to document design updates along the way and thus, #farmhousedialfano was born! An Instagram follower recently asked me a question about our new couch and described our home/my style as “farmhouse/California/Massachusetts/beautiful” and I just loved it! While some of my tastes have certainly changed, I really strive to keep things a little whimsical and unexpected. There are farmhouse, industrial, California-cool, even Scandinavian elements are woven throughout the house. Somehow they all work together!
Tell us about where you live! What do you love most about the East Coast?
We live in Natick, Massachusetts. I grew up a couple of towns over and my husband grew up in Connecticut where his family still lives. Other than one of my brothers, my entire family lives within a half-hour of each other. Natick is a wonderful town that has become a popular destination for young families, and our house is in a perfect central location to other towns and highways. It’s just a 12-minute walk into the center of town where there is a weekly farmer’s market, a cute cafe, and some great stores.
I love getting to experience the four seasons on the east coast. Living in New England you can drive an hour one way and you are in the mountains, drive the other direction and you’re on the ocean.
During your home renovations, what has proven to be the most difficult part?
Thankfully we haven’t had to do any major renovations yet. The house has been very well maintained and well loved over the years. We’ve really only had to do mostly cosmetic stuff and with a toddler, our needs are always changing. As a designer and overall creative (ie. someone who can’t stick with one thing for very long), I’m always switching things up and when I get an idea in my head it needs to happen immediately. I’ve been working on the biggest updates to the house to date with lots of new furniture + decor pieces, and we’ll be adding a kitchen backsplash in the next month.
The most difficult part of doing any updates is that the doorframes are very narrow! Tables have to have legs that can be removed, some things have to come in certain doors, etc.
If you had to give advice to someone just starting on a big renovation/decorating product, what would it be?
Do you have a budget? Do you have a timeframe? Remember that it's a process. Oh and measure everything! Sometimes I need to remind myself of this process more because I’m an impulsive shopper. Sometimes it works for the best and sometimes not so much! But keeping an open mind is key. Something you thought would look great arrives + the color is off or the wood is wrong or the rug is just too big.
What's next for mStarr Design?
To grow the interior styling business and be able to help people locally and via e-design. I’ve been getting back to blogging as well, forming some new brand partnerships, and continuing to provide creative direction for photoshoots. I also want to spend some time learning more about interior photography. I mostly use my iPhone to shoot but when I do use my real camera, I don’t often know what I’m doing!
Describe your style in 3 words.
Evolving, light-filled, organic
Favorite account to follow on Instagram?
Where are you dying to travel to next?
Velvet or Linen?
Gallery Wall or Oversized Statement Art?
"While some of my tastes have certainly changed, I really strive to keep things a little whimsical + unexpected."
-Emily Starr Alfano's
Photos by mStarr Design