As an interior designer living in South Carolina, it’s no surprise that LeAnn Michelle Sims’s home is decorated to perfection. But the best part of her family’s abode isn’t that it’s decked out in brand new furniture and home decor that follows the latest design trends. Instead, LeAnn has created a refreshingly cozy farmhouse featuring vintage furniture, collected items, and personalized touches (so many cute gallery walls!) that truly make the Sims’s house a home.
Keep reading to find out how the design advice LeAnn gives her clients translates into her own interior style, see how she transformed her and her sister’s childhood beds into like-new furniture for her two daughters, and learn why her family’s dining room is her favorite room in their house.
Name: LeAnn Michelle Sims
Location: Greenville, SC
Home’s Square Footage: 2,600
Years Lived In: 2
Rent or Own: Own
Children: Claire, 12, Maddy, 9, and Adele, 6
To start, tell us a bit about you, your family, and your home!
I’m a wife and mama to three girls currently living in Greenville, South Carolina. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design and recently started my own business helping people decorate their homes through eDesign. I’m addicted to coffee and can’t drive by a piece of furniture on the side of the road without stopping to check it out. I’ve found some beautiful pieces that way!
At home, we’re usually all on wheels cruising the neighborhood. My youngest and oldest, Adele and Claire, both ride their bikes, and I grab my ’90s rollerblades to keep up with Maddy, my middle child, who got rollerblades for Christmas. My husband, Matt, supervises all this! By day, he is Editor-in-Chief for a digital publishing company; by night, he is master of all English papers. Not to mention he’s extremely savvy online; he helped me create my website and supports my unique hobby for collecting roadside treasures.
Matt and I decided to build our house about three years ago after our house unexpectedly sold in a day, and there were not a lot of great options on the market. Our new home is a work in progress, for sure, but it’s slowly getting some personality. We splurged on a few things upfront we knew we really wanted, like a farmhouse sink and hardwood floors, and are slowly customizing the rest as our time and budget allow.
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You’re an interior designer and business owner! How has your career changed since you first started?
So the funny thing is, when I graduated college, eDesign wasn’t even a thing yet. I may be showing my age here, but we did all our presentations on those big poster boards with fabric and trim and paint chips. We drew out floor plans on drafting tables. And I loved it. But I think we all know these days everything is going digital. eDesign is much more hands-on for the client than traditional interior design. Because the client has taken over a large portion of the project, it’s priced at a more affordable rate and has made interior design services accessible for more people. I teach my clients how to put things together themselves so they can apply the same concepts to other rooms in their home. It’s teamwork, for sure, and I think it gives the client a sense of pride knowing they had a huge part in creating their home.
Your family has lived in your current home for two years. What was it like building from the ground up?
It was really fun! This was such a different experience from our last home, which was older and needed a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong: I really love old homes. But they can be expensive to fix and very time consuming when you do a lot of the work yourselves like we did. It was fun to pick things out as we went along and just move right in. I still have lots of projects on my to-do list. But they are fun projects, like backsplash for the kitchen and pretty cabinet hardware instead of spending all that money replacing an old HVAC system. Necessary, but not as fun.
What was the most challenging project during the building of your home?
Getting things centered correctly! The fireplace and multiple light fixtures were off by several inches. They fixed everything, but it’s still weird. Our dining room is pretty well defined by walls, so you would think it would be easy to find the center of the room.
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How would you describe your personal design style?
I’d say it’s collected, farmhouse, cozy. I can’t be committed to just one style, but I know what I like when I see it. I love old furniture, whether it’s a cherished family heirloom or something thrifted. I have three kids who are pretty hard on things, and no matter how hard I’ve tried in the past to keep things pristine, it never fails—someone’s gonna take a Sharpie to it. People are more important than things, and I try to keep that mindset every time I’m cleaning up messes or scrubbing crayon off the antique piece I just painted. Although I will say the older they get, the less it happens.
As an interior designer, what does your decorating process look like?
I usually start with one piece that I know I want to use in a space, whether that be a piece of furniture, rug, fabric, etc. and build out from that. For my younger girls’ bedroom, I knew I wanted to use the twin beds that my sisters and I had when we were kids. They were in good shape, but the wood was a little scratched up. I painted them with chalk paint and haven’t regretted that decision once! It’s really special that my girls get to sleep in the same beds my sister and I did as kids. In my older daughter’s bedroom, she has a vintage bed that was Matthew’s grandmother’s. It’s been painted also, and it’s perfect for her room. I don’t think a space is ever completely finished. It’s always evolving as needs change. Sometimes I go out to look for something really great for a space, but every once in awhile, something really great will find me.
Does your decorating style or process change while working with clients versus designing your own home? Why or why not?
It’s similar. We go over what things they already have and want to keep for their space, and we build out from that. Most of the things I recommend to clients are things they can order online. If needed, I will try to find stores local to their area, so they can go in and touch a piece of fabric or sit on a sofa. I work with a variety of budgets, so if we need to and someone is feeling adventurous, I’ll recommend painting existing furniture or another good DIY project. Most people that ask for my help have already seen some spaces I’ve designed and like my style, so they know what they are getting into beforehand. But everyone’s taste is a little different, so I suggest a variety of different pieces and make sure they love everything before creating the final design. I’m a people pleaser by nature, so I’m pretty willing to go the extra mile to make sure my clients love the finished product.
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Where do you like to shop for furniture and home decor items?
It varies depending on the budget I’m working with, but HomeGoods, Pottery Barn, Target, Anthropologie, Etsy, McGee & Co., thrift stores, and the side of the road!
If you had to pick just one, what is your favorite space in your home and why?
I love the dining room. It gets a lot of natural light and houses my china hutch which is one of my favorite thrifted pieces. I switch out the items in it seasonally, and it holds my collection of cake stands. It’s also used a ton since we host lots of Sunday lunches and holidays.
What do you believe it is that makes a house a home?
Surrounding yourself with things you love that are special to you or your family in some way. Maybe it’s the seashells in a bowl on the coffee table that remind you of a fun time you shared together as a family or the china hutch you inherited from your grandma. As long as you love it and it serves the purpose of providing a safe and cozy environment for you and your loved ones.
To you, what are the greatest challenges and rewards of being a working mom?
The biggest challenge would be turning off “mom mode” for a few hours to be able to focus on work. Being a mom is a full-time job as you know. And I work from home which is great and not great at the same time. Now, my kids are all in school, so it’s definitely gotten easier to designate those as working hours and once the kids are home, I can turn off my computer and help with homework, start dinner, etc. When the kids are home during the day for school breaks, they want me to play with them or fix snacks or take them to the pool. And I want to spend time with them and do those fun things too. But I just have to submit to the chaos and tell the kids they have to go play with each other or the neighbor kids so I can get work done, then we can go have fun. I love that I have the flexibility to choose my work hours; during the summer especially, that means staying up late after the kids go to bed to finish up projects. Being a mom and taking care of my kids is the most important and rewarding job I have, but somewhere along the line, as my kids were getting older, I felt like I needed an outlet and identity other than just “Mom,” which is where work comes into play. Plus, it’s great to know that I’ve contributed to our monthly budget and have that extra money when we need it.
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What does a day in the life of LeAnn Michelle Sims look like?
My day starts at 6:30am. I take the quickest shower possible and get the kids up, fed, and ready for school. The magic starts when I arrive back at home sans children. I fix myself a big cup of coffee and start following up on emails. After lunch, I usually work on concept boards and source products until the kids get home from school. We carpool, so my neighbor and sweet friend picks them up for me. The kids are typically starving, so I’m back in mom-mode fixing snacks and helping with homework. Onto dinner, packing lunches, monitoring baths, and supervising bed. Sometimes, I work again after the kids are asleep if I need to or pass out on the couch with the TV on. My husband loves that.
If you had to pick just one, what has been your favorite memory of motherhood so far?
Rocking my babies to sleep. I loved it when they were little, and even though I don’t rock them to sleep now that they are older, sometimes I will still lay down and snuggle with them. They tell me fun facts about their day or ask questions that they were too busy to stop and ask about during the day.
When it comes to being a mom, what are you most insecure about and what are you most confident about?
Sometimes, I feel like I get so caught up in my to-do list, I don’t take time to enjoy the moments in front of me. My kids will say, “Can you snuggle, or do you have to work tonight”? I only work part-time because I know I want to be able to volunteer for field trips and hang out with the kids over the summer. But even with part-time hours, I still feel guilty sometimes. I hope they remember the times I spent with them when they’re older and not that I was working all the time.
I think I do a good job of making them feel special on their birthdays. They always say thank you and seem really appreciative when I decorate the house for them or make their cakes. My husband is really big into birthday celebrations too, so they basically get lots of extra small privileges and treats all month long.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Stop caring so much about what other people think and just be yourself.
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LeAnn Michelle Sims is The Everymom…
Favorite date night? I’d say make it a date morning and go out for brunch instead. All the great breakfast places are still open, but it’s not too early that you can’t get dessert!
Biggest mom fail? Not being patient enough with my kids
Guilty pleasure? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in holiday shapes
Dream vacation? Traveling through Europe trying out all the bakeries and coffee shops
Ideal way to spend a Sunday morning? Getting up before everybody and drinking coffee in a quiet house, then giving the kids big hugs as they make their way downstairs one by one.
Favorite Instagram account to follow? @letteredcottage
App you can’t live without? Google Calendar. I’ve used a paper calendar until this year because I really like writing things down. My husband will die when he reads this because he begged me to use my phone calendar for years. And now that I am, I’m loving all the awesome features like automatic reminders and being able to invite people to events. Now my husband can’t say I didn’t tell him about something. I’ve got proof!
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why? My grandma. She passed away several years ago, but she was such an amazing lady. She was the epitome of a working mom who did it all: she hosted holidays, sewed, raised five boys, and was also a nurse. As a kid, I took for granted the time I got to spend with her. During high school, I went away to boarding school and rarely saw her. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years later and passed away. I inherited her sewing machine, which is really where my creative journey all began.