Today, we’re joined by Emily Brannelly and Olivia Reynolds of Salt Box Collective, an interior design firm comprised of two old friends with great taste.
Based in Salt Lake City, this dynamic duo recently started their practice.
Their calling card came in the form of a newly constructed house—beautiful, modern, one-story—with lots of glass and a view of the red mountains in the distance, that would be featured in The St. George Parade of Homes. This new construction was theirs to design, start to finish. As one gorgeous shot after another was posted to their Instagram account, we noticed a through-thread in addition to the cool, curated, and contemporary feeling—Hudson Valley Lighting fixtures.
Does your name, Salt Box Collective, have anything to do with Salt Lake City? How’d you come up with it and why does it feel so perfect? Speaking of perfect, you feel like you’ve arrived fully formed with a wonderful sense of branding. We love the logos, both the typographically delicious S A L T in a circle and the snow-crested mountain icon. Does that reflect a sense of place?
Yes! Salt Box Collective was founded in July of 2016, and we’ve known each other since middle school. Both of us have a love for interior design and as we talked together about different projects we were working on, we decided to just jump headfirst into starting a business together. So far it’s been great and we’re loving every minute of it!
Since we were both born and raised in the Salt Lake area we wanted that to be a part of our brand. We absolutely love where we live and the beauty that surrounds us here, so we wanted to incorporate that into the feel of our business. Also, “saltbox” was kind of a slang term for homes in traditional American architecture, so we really liked that connection as well.
We also love how our logos turned out—with S A L T in a circle because of how clean and simple it is, as well as the snow-crested mountain icon because of the connection it has to the mountains we are surrounded by in the valley we live in.
What is the St. George Parade of Homes? How’d you get involved? Did you get to choose which house you designed?
The Parade of Homes is a showcase of new homes held annually in several regions throughout the U.S., and St. George is located just a few hours south of where we live. The opportunity for us to fully design a parade home came about unexpectedly when Emily’s family decided to build a spec home there. We were both excited and nervous to take on our first full design project. It was a dream job but also a little overwhelming! We split everything up but the project was truly a collaboration between the two of us, and helped us learn how to work together and combine our style into one collaborative design. We chose everything besides the floor plan, and are so proud of how it turned out. We’re excited for what’s to come!
Tell us more about that collaboration. How do you two work together? Do you both work on each project? Do you use moodboards? Do you two collaborate using online resources or social media apps, like Pinterest and Instagram? Going back as far as you do, do you finish each other's thoughts or nonverbally communicate?
Like we mentioned above, this project taught us a lot about working together, but we were also pleasantly surprised with how seamless everything seemed to go. We both have very similar tastes and we both respect each others opinions a lot, so working together so far has been a dream. At this point we both work on larger projects together, with some smaller projects we’re taking on individually. Olivia’s strength is more the social media side of things so she focuses on our Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Emily has a lot more background in the business side of things, so she’s been handling orders, invoices, emails, etc. For now that’s working really well for us—but we plan on tweaking things in the future as needed. We’re figuring it out as we go!
Since we’ve been good friends for almost 15 years, we definitely tend to think the same way! It’s funny, we’ll text each other inspiration pictures or furniture pieces that we like, and the other person will already have the same idea saved. We never have to try too hard to talk the other into a certain idea—we’re usually on the same wavelength!
Tell us a little about your background.
Olivia: I first realized how much I really love decorating when I had the chance to design my own home a few years ago. We were able to do a fully-customized new build and while some people get overwhelmed with having to pick out literally everything in a home, I loved every aspect of it! I had so much fun picking out finishes and colors and lighting, and I’ve slowly been working on furnishing it. A lot of friends and family started asking me for help on their homes once they saw mine. I decided that if that many people really valued my opinion, I must at least have some idea of what I was doing. It’s something I’m truly passionate about and have so much fun doing.
Emily: My background in interior design is actually through lighting. My family owns “The Lighting Design Company” in Draper, Utah. I worked in the showroom for 7 years before I quit to have a baby about a year ago. Saying I love lighting is an understatement. I believe that when lighting design is done correctly it truly has an impact on any space. I love to mix metals and put fixtures together that are unexpected. I think one of my favorite things to do while working in lighting is breaking the "rules" and show people it's ok to mix! Hudson Valley Lighting has been one of my favorite brands for YEARS, and I'm not just saying that ;)
Oh yeah, we know The Lighting Design Company. Thanks! Speaking of which, you used a lot of Hudson Valley Lighting in this project: Roundout, Belmont, Buckingham, Red Hook, Marlow, and Gibbs. Is lighting something you consider toward the beginning of planning a room or is it more of a finishing touch? What was it about our fixtures that you responded to? It’s interesting for us to note that, with the exception of Belmont, those are all fixtures we’ve designed and released in the past two years or so. Not coincidentally, this project feels so current and fresh, so cool and contemporary.
Emily: Lighting is the first thing I think about. I understand the importance of lighting being a focal point in a space, not an afterthought. I think what has drawn me to Hudson Valley Lighting for so many years are the simple and sophisticated designs you provide.
How has coming from a family who runs a lighting showroom influenced you as an interior designer, or where you see the place of lighting in the design process? Does selecting the lighting come toward the beginning or the end of a room’s plan for you?
Emily: I have become so much more confident in interior design because of my lighting background. Lighting should be selected before the building process even begins to ensure proper placement, sizing, function, and style.
You mention mixing metals. Do you generally like to avoid being "matchy-matchy?" What do you think this adds to a space? Are there any other conventional "rules" that you have been loving to see contradicted lately?
We love to mix! It adds so much interest to a space. We love to mix metals, styles, trends. We believe that if done correctly you can pretty much break any of the “rules” you want. It’s all about execution and the finished product—don’t get too caught up in having to have everything match! We like to go bold and have some fun with it.
Speaking of the unexpected, in addition to traditionally installing sconces on the mirrors in two of the bathrooms, you used a five-light cluster of our low-hanging Marlow pendant near the mirror in one of the bathrooms. That looks amazing from the adjoining bedroom with its sliding door.
Thank you! We love the way it turned out, and had that vision from the beginning. The Marlow cluster pendant added the perfect amount of glam to the space.
Hanging pendants where sconces would go is just one of the way today's designers are shaking up lighting plans for the bathroom. As someone who comes from a deep understanding of the functionality of lighting in addition to decorative fixtures' aesthetic impact, what do you think about some of the new approaches to lighting in the bathroom, whether it’s pendants nearby or picture-lights over a mirror?
I love it! However, I think it is important for clients to be educated on the functionality of this type of lighting. I will suggest specific types of can lights depending on the type of fixture that is being used—especially in a bathroom. We added low voltage cans above the mirrors on the master to provide optimum lighting.
Was it difficult to put this space together without tailoring it around someone’s taste or needs? Or was it the opposite, kind of a “We can do whatever we want, mwa-ha-ha!” dreamspace?
It was a dream! The home was put up for sale during the parade with the hope of selling fully-furnished, so there was some pressure there. Especially because our style was different than most of the homes in that area. However we were confident in our choices, and the home sold during the parade!
Congratulations! So, Olivia, you recently had your second baby, and Emily, you mentioned leaving the family lighting business around the time you decided to have a child. Is there any connection for you between being or becoming parents and choosing to make a life of interior design?
We love being moms—our families are our top priority. But we do love the creative outlet that this business has given us. It’s exciting to be able to be home with our kids while also having design projects to work on. The busier we get it does get more difficult to try to find time for both, but we decided early on we didn’t want to take on too much work to the point that our families are getting pushed to the side. Our babies and husbands come first.
Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful project with us and taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck! We're sure you have a long and illustrious career ahead.
You can see Salt Box Collective's original post on the house here.
Photography in home and photography of home by Alicia Wade Photography
Hudson Valley Lighting Fixtures used by room:
Living Room: Roundout
Dining Table: Buckingham
Kitchen Island: Belmont