Q&A With Galey Alix
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Galey Alix: A slightly less conventional way. I’ve worked on Wall Street since college, with no experience in design. I went through a traumatic life event a year ago (my fiancé left me unexpectedly a week before our wedding) and I didn’t know how I’d survive the pain.
I had a thousand followers on Instagram at the time and they’d seen pictures of my home and kept asking if I could help with theirs. When I was faced with recovering from that devastating heartbreak, I didn’t want to stay home alone on the weekends and needed to be around people. So, I started saying yes to these Instagram design requests.
In the last year I’ve now renovated and decorated 68 spaces, started my own DIY design business that I run solely on the weekends (as my side hustle), and my Instagram following has grown to over 1.2 million people around the world.
C: How would you describe your style?
GA: Cozy, coastal & clean. I love alliteration so I had to keep all the C’s together, but if I had to add one more, it would undoubtedly be FUNCTIONAL!
C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
GA: The rooms, they speak to me. I know it sounds cheesy, but Americans love cheese right?! Ever since I was little, my mom and I would get in aggressively passive fights (yes that’s how I meant to say that) because every time I walked through her kitchen I would re-arrange things the way ‘the room told me to.’ She was not a fan, but to this day I still maintain I made it better.
I also find inspiration in the homeowners. For a space to be functional, I need to really understand who is living there and how I can make their life better. Ultimately, that’s all I really care about.
C: Favorite room in the house?
GA: That’s like asking which child is your favorite (I love both my dogs equally). If I have to answer, I’d say whichever room I most recently finished space-lifting. I’m constantly re-decorating spaces in my home and I don’t stop until I love every inch. I find myself making excuses just to walk into that room because I love the newness of it!
C: Design rule you don’t subscribe to?
GA: I don’t believe in matchy-matchy; it’s painful-painful. The most efficient way to make a space look custom decorated, and not like every other staged home, is to color outside the lines. This means mixing wood tones and not having throw pillows that are all the same texture/color/size. Decorating is your chance to be unapologetically creative, to explore the aesthetic places your mind takes you, and to just be You. I know I would never describe myself as 5 perfectly aligned, 20×20, beige-linen throw pillows. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t either, so don’t do it.
C: Recent project that inspired you?
GA: I recently renovated a home for a young couple who just bought their first home and had their first baby. I named the project “Hunter’s Home,” after their baby girl, Hunter. The most important stipulation I have for all of my clients is that everything I do is kept a secret from them. I don’t tell them which rooms I’m doing, what colors I’m using, what furniture or style I’m going with. They just have to look at my Instagram, trust me, hand me their credit card and move out for a weekend. When they come home Sunday night, their lives are changed. This project inspired me because I knew how much they deserved this space-lift. How much Hunter deserved this. The tears on reveal day said it all… and they came from the mom, a self-proclaimed non-crier who said she didn’t even cry at her wedding or when her daughter was born. Her happy tears made my year.
C: Favorite texture/pattern/color?
GA: My favorite texture IS texture. Anything that has imperfections, isn’t smooth to the touch, and stands apart from whatever it’s next to is what speaks to me. My favorite pattern right now is Herringbone (in bathroom tile or wood floors). Ask me again next week, I guarantee I’ll give you a different answer.
My favorite color? Anything you don’t see in a traffic jam. I associate red with traffic taillights (stress), yellow with flashing caution signs (anxiety), and orange is guilty by default because it’s what is birthed when when you marry red and yellow (sorry not sorry). I vehemently stick to cool, calm, neutral and coastal colors always.
C: What is “good design” to you?
GA: A good design? If you do a surprise renovation for a homeowner, where they haven’t picked out a single color, couch or piece of artwork, and they walk into their house on reveal day and for the first time it feels like a “home” to them. That’s a good design. You just #nailedit.
C: Pack your bag! You’re moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
GA: Is this even a question? Drew and Linda Scott. Linda is the best cook ever (I only know this from their At Home Podcast) and Drew is the kind of lovable-goofy-smart that makes you feel like you’re laughing while somehow also learning something. It takes a lot of activity to keep my brain engaged and I know I’d never be bored, or hungry, there. Also, the house. I want to see their house!
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
GA: I wish I was cool enough to entertain people. I work 7 days a week so the closest I get to entertaining is ordering Uber Eats for my design crew at 1 am when we’re on a weekend install. That said, I always come fully loaded to every job site with tropical-flavored Jelly Bellies. I’ve forced my candy addiction on my team and I’m okay with that.
C: Best advice for DIYers?
GA: The only failure is a failure to try. You will mess up, you will break things and you will get injured (hopefully not permanently… Be brave but not reckless). It’s how you learn and become an expert. I have no schooling or background in renovating or designing, but I have unwavering confidence in my ability to figure anything out. Why?
Because I’m not afraid to try and to fail, and neither is anyone on my team. I fail often and then I learn from that experience and it benefits every job I tackle after that. You should always bet on yourself and you do that by Doing It Yourself.
C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
GA: Get referrals. Look at their previous work. Pay close attention to the questions they’re asking you at your first consult. Are they genuinely focused on who you are as a person and the dream you have for your home? If they aren’t passionate about understanding you and your vision, it’s unlikely they’re passionate about what they do.
C: What is one design trend you are most excited about this season?
GA: The design trend I’m most excited about this season isn’t your traditional trend, it’s a human-trend. It’s resilience. I sit here typing this, on day 40 of self-quarantining in my home, and I’m in awe of people.
Around the world, we are all perpetually confined to staying in place, riddled with anxiety about an uncertain future and our traditional stress outlets have been taken from us. We can completely panic, or, we can make the the best of our situation. The latter is the trend I’m seeing and I’m here for it. People are re-painting their bedroom walls, building vegetable gardens, re-organizing their garage shelves, re-purposing old furniture and DIY’ing their stress away.
It’s beautiful, it’s productive, it’s resilient. I hope this season’s trend stays forever.
C: How do you take your coffee?
GA: I like my coffee empty, filled with Tropical Jelly Bellies.