The inspiration for Havenly arose from personal frustration and a recognition that others were dealing with the same issue—turning their space into a home they loved. When Co-founder and CEO Lee Mayer first moved to Denver with her family, she came to understand how isolating and inaccessible the interior design market could be while struggling with her own home renovation project. Since Mayer and her sister, Emily Motayed, founded the online interior design platform in 2015, their mission has remained the same. Making interior design more accessible and affordable for real people is also central to the book the two sisters have co-authored, Design the Home You Love: Practical Styling Advice To Make the Most of Your Space. We interviewed the new author to speak about her jump into the design services world, the importance of Havenly embracing an online platform, and a few favorite projects. Read on for more and how Lee remains driven to make "people feel like a well-designed home is not only accessible and affordable but something they truly deserve."
You founded Havenly while still serving as VP and GM of the auto insurance division at a consumer financial services company, right? What made you decide to leap into the interior design services world?
Jumping into the interior design services world wasn't really a leap I planned to make. Still, after spending a lot of my spare time during evenings and weekends thinking about and working on this seed of an idea, it was ultimately an itch I had to scratch. The concept for Havenly was so exciting to me, and I just knew there was a place in the interior design market for a company like ours, so I went for it. And like they say, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
Similarly, what made you embrace the digital space when creating an interior design services firm?
Starting out online was integral to building this business. Interior design has traditionally been so exclusive—it's often expensive and out of reach —but I wanted to build something affordable and genuinely accessible.
Embracing the digital space has also meant reaching customers living in parts of the country without a traditional interior design option (mostly centered around major cities, like Los Angeles and New York). It also means reaching those designers who otherwise couldn't provide their services and build employment opportunities for their associates who might not have had access to a career in this industry.
Havenly's mission is to make interior design more accessible and affordable for real people. How do you think you've been able to stay true to that vision with all of the firm's growth?
As we've grown, we've remained committed to centering the needs of the customer. Before we make any big changes to our product, our assortment, or our process, we're determined to understand the implications for the customer. It's allowed us to stay true to ensuring an accessible and affordable, while truly delightful, experience for real people.
Are there any Havenly projects that will always stand out for you? A first or a favorite?
Gosh, there have been so many, it's really hard to pick a favorite! My home was designed by the first-ever Havenly employee (and our in-house design guru), Shelby Girard, so perhaps I might pick that project. I've also really loved projects that are totally different in design style from my own. Featured on the cover of our book Design the Home You Love is the home of one of our amazing clients, Blair, who has an incredibly bright, sophisticated Florida style. Her home is so creative and vibrant, and it reflects her personality.
Speaking of which, congratulations on your new book, Design the Home You Love! Where did the initial idea for it come from?
Thank you! What drew my inspiration for writing the book was the same spark for starting Havenly. I was genuinely frustrated by the lack of information and resources out there about how to design your home, but more than anything, I was bothered by how inaccessible traditional interior design felt. I strongly believe that everyone deserves to live in a home they love, no matter their circumstances. So after starting Havenly and learning a ton over the last several years, synthesizing that knowledge and experience into a book felt like a natural next step.
What was your experience writing this book? What were the most challenging or rewarding experiences?
No surprise here, but it turns out writing a book is hard work! I'm new to the publishing world and was still a bit amazed by the whole experience. I had lots of early morning drafting sessions when the house was still quiet, and I generally loved writing earlier in the week, after a long refreshing weekend. If the weather was right, I found myself drawn to writing outside and would often take a glass of wine with me. So it was a lot of fun, and fortunately, inspiration was never hard to come by! It is one of the many perks of working with Havenly's incredible designers, who I have learned so much from over the years.
What is one thing you want people to feel after reading your book?
I genuinely believe that everyone deserves to live in a home they love! So after reading this book, which breaks down some of the more complex or intimidating parts of interior design, I hope people feel like a well-designed home is not only accessible and affordable but something they truly deserve.
What's one interior design trend that you feel is underrated?
It's maybe not underrated, but I can't get enough of limewash—it's so versatile, gives such a luxurious yet organic feel, and can be fairly easy to achieve.
You live and work in Denver, Colorado. How do you like to spend your free time when not working?
It's beautiful here, and I love spending free time with my family (and cute pup Ruth) outdoors, either at a park locally or somewhere up in the mountains. I'm also an avid reader (love fiction!) and a budding home cook, so you'll often catch me experimenting in the kitchen, along with a nice glass of wine.
What other artists, creatives, or mentors inspire you?
Oh, there are so many! Icons like Rachel Zoe forever inspire me, and I think designers like Sheila Bridges are incredibly exciting, both of whom I look to for bold and colorful inspiration!
What's next for you and Havenly, and do you see another book in your future?
Lots of exciting things in the works at Havenly! We just rolled out our sixth private label (Havenly Print Co.), are continuing to grow (and hire!) across all markets, and who knows, potentially another book in the mix.