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A Creative Soul Thrifts Her Way to a Memorable Home

by Garrett Fleming

A Creative Soul Thrifts Her Way to a Memorable Home, Design*Sponge

Holley Simmons is a jack-of-all-trades. Not only has she worked as a journalist for NPR and The Washington Post, but she also recently started her own plant-styling business called Sill Life. Through it she helps individuals and companies chose greenery that will not only thrive in their spaces, but look fabulous as well. Think that’s it? Nope. On top of that she’s also scrounged up the time to co-found The Lemon Collective, a communal space where makers can lead classes in their respective fields. Without a doubt she’s a driven individual who leads a colorful life. And what does every vibrant, young woman need? An apartment that matches her bright and brazen attitude.

The quirky look of Holley’s Washington, D.C. space comes courtesy of her wide array of affordable souvenirs and unique finds. The dining room, for example, is decorated with mementos that were free or only cost her a few bucks. Shells from a Sri Lankan vacation, a piece of Mexican coral and a pretty pitcher are just a few of her fun treasures. Paired with these memory-filled decorations is a disco ball, horse bust, and other slightly-eccentric touches with a wink. She’s even turned an old toy into a planter.

Peppered around the home’s knick-knacks are furniture pieces she’s picked up all over the place. And I mean all over the place. Sure there are the standard vintage and antique shop finds, but there are just as many goodies she’s snagged from an alley by her home as well. Holley has found sofas, chairs, lamps and storage cabinets there. She’s not too proud to admit it either — hunting down good finds is one of her favorite pastimes. She says her current collection doesn’t feature a single item costing more than $300!

While every accessory and piece of furniture in Holley’s home charms me, the scene-stealing walls surrounding each have me really gawking. And it’s not only because they’re bright and saturated — it’s because they each come with a story. Like the dining room’s coral walls that are inspired by a sunset Holley took in while on vacation in Greece, or the living room’s blue hue that transports her back to Mexico City and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul. Each one is such a looker you have to click through to see them all. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Kate Warren

Image Above: After visiting Casa Azul in Mexico City — the cobalt blue home Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera shared — Holley was inspired to hunt down a similar shade for her own eclectic living room. In the end, Benjamin Moore “Blueberry Hill” fit the bill perfectly. Like the rest of her home, this spot is outfitted in secondhand finds.

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Holley made this wall hanging while binge-watching HBO’s Big Little Lies. (Check out the step-by-step DIY here.) Her vintage sofa is from Miss Pixie’s, and she bought the accompanying white rug on a trip to Mexico. Holley’s still not sure how exactly she was able to fit it in her suitcase.

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"When designing my home, I didn't want anyone to be able to put their finger on my aesthetic," Holley explains. To achieve this, she relied heavily on her creative friends' work and bold statement pieces.
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Holley is thrifty by nature, and nothing in her apartment cost more than $300. Not even this handsome desk. She got it from an antique shop in NYC for a steal.
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One of Holley’s fellow creatives from The Lemon Collective, Nicole Crowder, reupholstered this armchair in fabric Holley brought back from Myanmar. The side table and lamp on the right were found at an estate sale and on the street, respectively.

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The dining room’s shade of coral (Benjamin Moore’s “All-a-Blaze”) was inspired by a sunset Holley watched in Santorini, Greece. The dining chairs are from Houzz.

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The apartment has just as many plants and flowers as it does colorful accents. “The plants make the space feel alive. Every time I walk in, the apartment has changed a little bit — there’s a new sprout here, a fallen leaf there. I enjoy tending to all of my plants and making sure they’re happy. It makes me happy!” Holley says.

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A thrift-store dinosaur toy turned planter lives on the dining room's mantel.
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According to Holley, no home is complete without a disco ball. She found this one at a local antique shop.
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A collection of oddities including coral from Tulum, a Mexican pitcher and Sri Lankan shells on display in the dining room.
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Holley swears her bed is the comfiest in the world thanks to its Parachute sheets and Magical Thinking duvet.

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Holley gets ready at this vintage dresser every morning. The mirror is from Target.
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Nighttime knitting is a Simmons household pastime.
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Kathryn Zaremba, one of The Lemon Collective’s co-founders, knew Holley adored yellow roses, so she designed a wallpaper showcasing the buds for her close friend’s dressing room.

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The apartment's quirky layout is part of what initially drew Holley to it.

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