Home Decor Interview:
Gina Milne from "Willow Decor"
love America and all it has to offer, but when it comes to decor, most experts
say Europe has us beat. One of those experts is Gina Milne from
who lived in Germany for several years and has traveled all over Europe.
She now resides near Boston, putting out a tremendous blog that chronicles all
that inspires her, and you really need to see the beautiful pictures she posts
several times per week.
Gina has been very successful with
having been featured in the Washington Post and having met a lot of designers
that she admires. She has also met many of her blogging friends, including
some that we've even interviewed on Decor Medley!
It is with great pleasure that we feature Gina today, and we thank her very much
for her time and effort. Please welcome Gina from
1. Gina, thank you for taking part in our interview. Please take a moment
to tell readers a little bit about yourself and your blog.
Willow Decor has been such great fun!! What started as way to catalogue my own
personal photos of interesting interiors has turned into a very fun journey that
launched me into a world of blogging! Since
Willow Decor’s mention in the
Washington Post, there are days I feel just like Dorothy in Oz.
So many readers contact me and I have been able to forge some incredible
friendships. Through Willow Decor I been able to meet with fabulous architects
and designers – and even meet some of my idols. I love to renovate and re-do
spaces – I have moved 8 times in 17 years, not including rentals while I was
building homes. I have built three houses and renovated the rest. My husband
says after 12 months I get antsy and want a new project. He is probably not too
2. You’re based out of Boston, one of the best places to visit in the
country. The history, the beauty, the charm… I love it! Tell us a bit about
your home and neighborhood and some of the history behind it over the decades?
Also, are there any good antique shops and décor stores around town that you
like to visit?
I live in a beautiful historic town just outside of Boston. My neighborhood was
built at the turn of the century as a planned community with sidewalks,
neighborhood schools and proximity to walk to downtown - a novel idea at a time
when living in the city was considered more desirable.
Photo Courtesy of Catalano Architects
My home is a 1930’s Royal Barry Wills colonial with a slate roof. I feel a
tremendous responsibility to maintain and upkeep the integrity of my home.
After almost 80 years I wanted to enhance the home and not remove the elements
that make it a classic.
I enlarged the kitchen and reworked some spaces, but we
were able to maintain the original feeling of the house, including matching the
slate roof with antique slate tiles and custom matching the crown moldings. I
also replaced all the doorknobs with glass knobs to match the upstairs which has
been untouched over the years. I tried to focus on the small details which give
the home a certain richness that is difficult to find in new construction.
There are so many
stores I love: some favorites include locally - Hudson, Comina, Civilization
(Swedish antiques) and Belle Maison – The Boston Design Center has wonderful
showrooms - The Serpah and Home in Sturbridge and also Simply Home and Avolli in
Maine. Since my visit to New Orleans I can’t stop raving about Tara Shaw, Home
and Garden, Perch and Julie Neill Designs. I have found shipping more
reasonable than I had anticipated.
But I am a bargain
shopper at heart and I remain a flea market girl – I never miss Brimfield and I
also love HomeGoods and Jordan’s Furntiture Warhouse. I have had success mixing
expensive and inexpensive, for instance the focal point in my family room is an
1800’s painted chippy mantel I found in the trash. I have had it hanging in the
past three of my homes and when we sell the houses the buyers always request it
in the deal. But I always say- sorry I need to keep it – It’s a deal breaker!
3. What in
particular draws you to the decor of the Gustavian period? Have you ever
visited the places in Europe that you draw your stylistic influences from?
Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Kasler
For the first several years I was married, my husband and I both worked and
lived in Munich, Germany. I had always loved Swedish antiques and Bavarian
antiques have a similar quality - painted, and waxed pine pieces. We often
drove to Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland visiting the sites and
antiquing. We traveled all over Europe and had many pieces shipped to Munich.
At the same time, my sister happened to be also just married and living in
Copenhagen, Denmark. The four of us spent many weekends antiquing and acquiring
I am lucky because my husband loves antiques and also enjoys
the hunt! It was such a great opportunity and I was exposed to so much living
in Europe when I was in my 20’s – I regret I did not take enough pictures.
There was inspiration at every turn!
you’ve started your blog, you’ve gotten to meet some of your followers in
person, such as Julie Neill from Bayou Contessa. How has blogging changed your
social life and have you gotten to know some of your readers personally?
Photo Courtesy of Hutker Architects
I am so incredibly fortunate!! I have a network of “blog” friends and have met
several of them. It was a joy to meet Julie Neill and her staff- what wonderful
artisans! But also I have had the opportunity to personally meet several of my
design idols, most notably, Suzanne Kassler. What a wonderful designer and so
forthcoming with advice and tips to help others create beautiful spaces.
Through my blog I have also been contacted by many others I admire, like
Catalano Architects, which design the most stunning homes, and Maine interior
designer, Linda Banks, whose houses have graced dozens of magazine covers.
Blogging has connected me with other bloggers whose talent and generosity
inspire and astound me including Linda Merrill of Surroundings, Joni Webb of
Cote De Texas, Brooke Giannetti of Velvet and Linen, Valorie Hart of Visual
Vamp, Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design, Chris Carey of Just a Girl
and my dear friend who writes the wonderful blog Things that Inspire.
What a great gift that has been given to me to connect with these wonderful and
talented people. What is so special about everyone I have met in the blogging
world is that they are so forthcoming with advice and tips to help you. But
perhaps the most rewarding is the personal emails I get from my readers. I am
so excited that I have been able to inspire so many to create more beautiful
have you been enjoying your new butler’s pantry and office, and are you
answering these questions in your pantry right now? Looking back, was it worth
all the effort to renovate?
I have been bumped out of the pantry because we installed a Mac computer for the
kids and I prefer to work on my old laptop. So right now I am in the kitchen
sitting at my new/old Belgian pine table.
Gina's Pantry (Before)
Gina's Pantry (After)|
Was the renovation worth it? Don’t they say renovation is like birth, - you
forget the pain! That is so true with me! I am a perfectionist and it’s
difficult to find craftspeople to share my vision. But when I did, we created
the most wonderful things!
My pantry is a perfect example. I had a wonderful cabinetmaker, Country
Craftsman in Uxbridge, MA who shared my love of older homes and went the extra
mile, no extra ten miles, to help me create a beautiful space. Add in my
fabulous finish carpenter and well I am so happy with it!! It looks like its
original to the house! My husband calls it my little jewel box. So yes, it was
worth it in the end.
recently blogged about your love of twig furniture. With the summer
approaching, do you have any plans coming up for outdoor backyard decoration projects?
I always have projects in the works. I wish I was content with status quo – but
if I see a space that can be improved I am haunted by it. I spend hours drawing
and redrawing rooms, layouts, patios, etc. We have a beach house on the North
shore of Massachusetts and last summer we removed a wall between the dining area
So this summer I plan to paint and freshen up that area! By the way, that is
where I have my fabulous twig furniture that I bought at flea market in
Minneapolis. I bought it off the back of a truck from a twig artist! We also
have plans in the works to renovate our outdoor patio area since we expanded our
kitchen in our Colonial home. We plan to add an outdoor fireplace and water feature
to that area. Watch for posts on outdoor spaces because I have been collecting
images for inspiration.
renovation of your kitchen was really something else. You like to post some
photos of inspiration rooms that give you ideas for your renovations, which is a
nice touch. Whether it’s magazines or the internet, where are your favorite
places to find these kinds of inspiration rooms?
Thanks so much! It was great fun to do and we love the result! I have several
architectural sites that I visit often for ideas, also designers and other
bloggers. The internet is an incredible resource and so are other bloggers. A
reader was recently looking for a light she saw in a magazine ad, I asked
another blogger, she asked her readers and within 24 hours we located it! Just
Gina's Kitchen (Before)
Gina's Kitchen (After)|
I still get several magazines as well – my favorites being New England
Home, Veranda and Traditional Home.
money were no object, where in the world would you choose to live, and what
kinds of elaborate things would you do to your home that you cannot do today?
We have moved so many times so I guess I never think about things in that way.
I choose to live and make a beautiful home where my family and I are most happy
and for now that is Boston. (I am thrilled to be back in Boston because it's
where I grew up and where my extended family still is).
I can say I dream about
having several homes – all with different styles. For instance I would like to
have a Mountain House in Aspen, overlooking the ski slopes and decorate it in a
natural, western sort of flair. I would love a loft in NYC with a really
contemporary feeling; with places for lots of artwork and huge floor to ceiling
windows that look over the city.
Finally, I would want a Shingle Style ocean
front house, with lots of bead board and detailing so it looks like an old home
that has been there forever. If money (and time) was no object I would spend
months finding the best craftspeople and create fabulous homes with the kind of
care and details that being lost in new construction today.
9. Gina, thanks again
for joining us today. For this last question, please tell us what first got you
interested in home decor and design, whether it was something from childhood
that sparked your interest, or whether you developed it later on in life. Thank
you and have a great rest of the year!
I remember always
being interested in design. As a young child when my sisters and I played with
Barbie’s I always just wanted to set up the set up the townhouse furniture and
accessories. In my teens, I remember rearranging my room often and at college I
was always tapped to head up the decorations for formals etc. (that got me the
nickname “Queen of Decorations” by some of my friends) Of course my older
sister has been a huge inspiration for me. She built an incredible
reproduction saltbox. She was the general contractor, landscape architect and
interior designer all on her own! The house came out fabulous and several years
ago it was featured in the Boston Globe. She has an incredible eye and has
taught me so much. We still have so much fun working on things together. I
guess I have always just been drawn to it naturally.
So... did this interview inspire
you to make reservations for the next flight to Sweden? Very tempting,
Thanks again to Gina for sharing her life with us, and we hope that all of you
go and check out
today. It's really a great blog and you'll find yourself hooked quickly by
all the great photos. Bon voyage!
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