Episode 311

Zandra Zuraw, Slow Style Home interior design

Published on: 8th April, 2024

Welcome back to "Your World of Creativity"! Our guest, Zandra Zuraw shares insights into her journey as an interior design coach and podcaster, offering valuable tips for listeners seeking to transform their living spaces into personalized havens of beauty and functionality.

**Key Points:**

- Zandra introduces herself as the host of a podcast and a professional interior design coach, emphasizing her passion for helping individuals become their own interior decorators.

- She discusses the genesis of her approach, coined "Slow Style Home," highlighting the importance of a gradual, mindful process in creating meaningful and sustainable living spaces.

- Zandra unveils her innovative quiz-based assessment tool designed to help individuals identify and address design challenges in their homes, empowering them to make informed decisions.

- The concept of "Slow Style Home" is explored further, emphasizing the significance of creativity, resourcefulness, and individual expression in interior design.

- Zandra shares insights into her upcoming book, which delves into the foundational principles and practical elements of the Slow Style framework, offering readers actionable guidance for crafting their signature style.

**Key Pull-Out Quote:**

"I want to teach people how to do it. It's not for everybody...but for the people who are interested, that's what I do." - Zandra Zuraw

Listeners are encouraged to explore Zandra's work at slowstylehome.com, where they can access quizzes, podcasts, and membership opportunities to embark on their own creative journey in interior design.

Join us next time as we continue to unlock your world of creativity with inspiring conversations and practical insights from creative practitioners worldwide. Until then, I'm Mark Stinson, urging you to embrace your creativity and make your mark on the world.


  Welcome back friends to our podcast, your world of creativity, and we're sharing stories of creators from all walks of life, but you've come to a great episode today, a major first in our podcast. We've talked to authors and actors marketers and musicians, , I even talked to a celebrity dentist, a toy inventor, and a game show creator.

But today is our first interior design. Professional coaching platform, podcaster on all things home design. Welcome Zandra Zuraw. Zandra, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me on. I love this show. I love the conversations. I hope I can live up to it because some of your guests are really inspiring and just you are a great interviewer.

And so I'm hoping my story can

hold up. I appreciate all of that. If it weren't for Toy inventors and home designers like yourself we wouldn't have as much fun, but I have to start Zandra you're the host of a great podcast. You do have a coaching side of your business. You've been featured in a lot of media outlets, but one of the most recent things I read from you has a burning question inside me that I have to ask what's wrong with my room and how do I fix it?

I took the quiz. I still don't know if I have the answer. What's wrong? When people ask you that, that's got to be not only a professional question, but I can imagine, cocktail parties and coffee clutches. What's wrong with my design and what do I do about it?

Yes. Yes. That's a great place to start.

It is the entryway into my world and it's for that very reason. And this is the question I hear all the time and I hear it in very. Casual settings off the cuff. People are laughing at themselves. But it's a real question. They really are wondering about it, and they just don't know where to start.

And so I was trying to figure out how do I take people through my own thought process when I'm going into their rooms and I'm trying to help them not just come up with a bucket list or a punch list of things to do, because that can be overwhelming, but just what to do first. And. So I created a quiz that helps you assess what's going on in your own room using the questions I'd be asking myself and that I'd be asking you if we were working one on one.

Let me just step back real quick and clarify that what I am passionate about is helping people become their own interior decorators. I am not going to go into your home and do it for you because I believe the true and I think it's so rewarding to see the pleasure and the true satisfaction of creating your own dream home, your own signature style and seeing that reflected back at you is so rewarding in and of itself.

I want to teach people how to do it. It's not for everybody. Some people still want to hire a designer. That's totally great. But for the people who are interested, that's what I do. So this assessment tool, this quiz is just a little first step into that whole process.

Fantastic. Now, also, to set the foundation, your brand, so to speak, your foundation is called Slow Style Home, and the name of the website, the name of the podcast, and they're all points in between your coaching practice, etc.

Why is it called Slow Style Home? And I guess what separates that approach from maybe other approaches in interior design? Sure.

Absolutely. A fair question. When I set out to try to teach people how to do what I've done, I'm starting from the same place that most people are, which is I am not a trained interior designer.

I am someone who has taught themselves how to create a space that feels meaningful to me and that feels beautiful to me and that works really well for my lifestyle. So I've been doing that. over time for 30 years. And so I really had to think long and hard about how did I get here?

Because now it's pretty intuitive. And now I've absorbed so many design rules and design lessons from studying them that I don't think about a lot of things anymore, but that's really frustrating to people who don't have any, knowledge of interior design. So I can't just say, Oh it just feels right to me, or, that doesn't help anybody.

So I had to really think hard about how did I teach this to myself. And the first thing that was bubbling up as I was working my way backwards through all of the steps I took without realizing I was taking them is that it took me a long time that the process in itself, Was slow. And that was actually a really good thing.

It was key to developing the style that I have throughout my home today. And what I love about this is it makes your shoulders go down. It makes you relax. It takes that pressure off of having to have everything done all at once and have it be picture perfect. And it's also pushing up against the whole extreme makeover, instant makeover, HGTV, Instagram thing.

Cool. That's going on right now. You snap your fingers and poof, everything is changed. So not only the problem with that is that it's immediate, which is unattainable for most people. It's also relies on products. It relies on buying all new everything. And that is also not attainable for most people. And it's really horrible for the environment.

So this whole idea of a slow style was emerging to me. And then I go, okay, so how did I get there? How did I train my eye? How did I learn how to translate the feelings I want to have in a room to actual design elements? What does this draw pole have to do with feeling like I'm on a beach in Italy, and how to teach mys, and I also had to teach myself how to be creative.

The slow style, the slow part fits into that as well, because creativity comes with practice. Practice encourages confidence. That is how we get confident in anything we do, is because we trust our guts, that we know we've done this before. We know what we're doing. And so the bulk of what I teach is how to be creative and how to translate.

those ideas, those feelings into actual design decisions that aren't going to cost you an arm and a leg, aren't going to hurt the planet, and are going to go the distance and be with you for a while.

And I heard another interview where you said, this is, Starting with what you have to, you don't have to go to the furniture store or as you say, you know that watch the TV show, buy the latest thing and break the bank, honestly.

So there is that makeover part that people think if I, go all in on my interior design, there goes the couch and the chair, but also there goes the blinds or the curtains or the rug or whatever else you got. And all of a sudden. You're completely broke and but you have a great Pinterest.


So I guess this idea of, creativity with what you have, boy, isn't that interesting how that could cross a lot of creative fields and a lot of creative bounds, right? Start with what you

have. It does. And I hear a lot of people say, oh, I'm not creative, or I don't have a knack for decorating, or I don't have a good eye.

And what I say to those folks is, you don't have to be born with it. It is something you can learn. So let's get a little bit more into that practice of creativity that you were just referencing. It's so simple. It's about noticing things. And then trying them out in your own rooms. But I say noticing things.

Go ahead and study the masters, study the designers, study, go get their books, get them out of the library if you want to get the design magazines. And when you flipping through and you see a room that you go, Oh, I love that room. Don't just keep flipping the pages. Start really looking at things like scale.

How big is the furniture in relation to each other? And in relation to the room itself how big is the rug? How much lighting is there? How many different sources of light is there? What's going on with the shapes of objects? Is there a mix of curvy and straight and organic? Look at the patterns and how they're being mixed together.

You can't replicate exactly what in a magazine or in a book to your own home, but you can learn lessons from it. So noticing. What you like and making mental notes of it or writing in a book. Oh, I really like this. I really like that. You're going to start to see patterns emerging of things that you are naturally always drawn to.

And that's, what's important, what you love, what you like. What you're passionate about, that's what needs to come out through your home regardless of whether it's in or out in terms of a trend. So noticing is the first part, and the second part is practicing. And so I literally mean that. Take everything out of a room, roll up the rug, and start fresh with bringing other furniture in from other rooms.

Change around the focal point. Change out the size of a rug. If you feel like the rug is too small and it making the room feel small, then maybe you've got a bigger rug somewhere else. Change it out. I'm not saying it's going to stay there forever, but it's the way for you to test out, do I like this?

Does this feel better? And that goes with smaller things too. So I'll say to people, let's take everything off of this mantle or this bookshelf or whatever. Let's start playing around with. Vignettes. How do these things go together? What are the shapes like? How is the height? Are the heights differing?

Does it feel appealing to you? The design rules that are in place that you may not know, the ones that are good and useful and not based on trends, are there because of, hundreds of years of people, back in the Renaissance and back to the Greeks. And before that, they figured out that symmetry can be pleasing.

Asymmetry does something else. Groups of three are pleasing to the human eye. Vantage points. Humans like certain vantage points better than others. So All of this stuff is there. You can read it. You can learn about it. You can research it. That takes a long time. I feel like the best way to do it is just play around with it yourself.

And that to me is an act of creativity.

Love that. Now Zandra, that we know the kind of foundation and philosophy and principles you, you really formed then your creative business around it. So we'll turn the page now to how you've created a business around these philosophies, including a podcast, a great website, clubs, I'll call them.

This idea of read, listen, and join really resonated with me when I saw it on your website. You've interviewed a lot of people about this principle. How did you really get inspired to say, this is what I want to do. I guess I'll call it vocationally

Yeah. I, um, I don't wanna, I don't wanna give you every single detail of the past , so lemme give you it all started yes.

When I was born. Yes. I'll give you the short condensed version. Hate to say this is so cliche. I've always been creative. I've always wanna do something creative. So many people say that. It is true for me, but I guess what's more interesting to me is how I've loved the business side of things.

I never expected to be an entrepreneur. I never expected to run my own little business. And I have found that even that is creative to me. The marketing is creative. The production is creative, production of a podcast, interviewing people is creative. So I've loved that this life that I'm building has opened up these doors to me to a world that I didn't grow up with and really knew nothing about.

The company used to be called Little Yellow Couch. I started it with a business partner. We floundered for a while. We both loved design. We weren't sure we wanted to do with that. Fast forward. We started a podcast and we started the podcast really not because we knew anything about podcasting or even cared.

In fact, We didn't even care if anybody listened to it. Our thinking was, oh, we'll interview some bigger fish in the design industry to help us build our platform. Lo and behold, we loved it. And we realized that the thing to talk about, the conversation that was missing was why does this stuff even matter?

Why does style matter? There are so many problems in the world. There are so many issues we could be dealing with. Real life is hectic and busy. Why do we care so much about our napkins and our curtains, but we did. I didn't want to feel guilty about that. I wanted to explore why this meant so much to me.

And it really came down to craving beauty and realizing that everybody, no matter What you've got going in your life, everyone deserves to live inside beauty. So we started asking those kinds of questions to designers, bonafide designers who actually went to school for this stuff and we're practicing my business partner left.

I continued on and the idea for teaching people how to do what I was already doing on the side and what I was hearing designers talk about started to crystallize. So the podcast had been going on for seven years. And the slow style framework that I developed is only about three years old. So the podcast had a life of its own for a long time.

Really before I started monetizing it,

and I really enjoyed what you just said about, we just wanted to talk to people. Also, we're doing what we were trying to do and maybe they were doing it better. Maybe they weren't, but we learned from all these people. I couldn't help, but see the parallels, Zandra, that, you've interviewed over 300 people.

I've had 300 episodes, which I don't even know how that happened, but there, there is a sense. It's a sense of expanding your little world, isn't there, that you get on the microphone. And now if it wasn't a microphone, would you actually call these people and would you say, could I spend a half hour with you?

We probably wouldn't. So it has been a real opportunity to, like you say, get out there, meet some new people, get inspired yourself. Yes. And does that feed your creativity? In other words, there's a balance between what you talked about in the creative space and the demands of trying to run a successful business platform, etc.

How are you finding that balance?

Yeah, it's it's a lot and I'm sure you can, you can relate to this too. There are so many moving parts to producing a podcast. And then if you have a business that's also tied to the podcast, and there's all of those moving parts, I won't lie, it is a lot of work.

I do pull out my hair quite a bit. But it always seems worth it. So I do keep coming back. I have learned so much from these people that I've interviewed, not just about design, but about humanity. Again, I think it's because the subject matter is, why does this stuff matter? Our mental health, what does it do for our confidence?

What does it do for our expression of who we are? So we're, we tend to be talking about bigger picture things. And that to me is so uplifting. And when you connect with somebody, it just feels Oh, I made a connection with another human who I didn't know half an hour ago. And now I feel like.

We could totally sit down over a long meal and just keep it going, having a great conversation. So it's very rewarding. And I have to keep reminding myself of that when you're in the weeds of the business side of things and you're, nothing's working tech wise and you're calling somebody on the helpline and not getting anywhere.

Yes. Isn't that a in confidence to for any creative listening. Is to say, maybe during COVID, we thought people are sitting at home. I think I'll reach out to them. But I think there's a real culture shift in mentoring and supporting other creative people that says, reach out, ask them, ask for advice, ask for an interview, ask for a recommendation, whatever it is.

Because don't you find people are more open to that these days?

I do. And it's so beautiful. It really is. I think that especially with social media. And things like HGTV or YouTube. We tend to think of people that we hear on a podcast or see in a TV show or read in a book as being different than us, as being unapproachable because they've they, I don't know, because they have some sort of platform that we don't have.

But the truth is they are craving human connection, I think, just like the rest of us. And that, to your point, I think COVID really pointed that out to us how human we all are and how much we need human connection. And It never surprised. It never fails to surprise me when I get the word.

Yes, I get the word. Yes, a lot from people when I ask for things and that's it's really it's so heartening. So good.

Let's look ahead, where we've been talking about what you've been working on in the past and now, but you've got some great things in the works, especially a book I'm excited to hear about.

So congratulations on working on that. What can we expect to learn from the book?

Thank you. Thank you. Let me just say about process real quick. Yes, because I know part of the show is about people who are in some sort of creative field or need to use creativity in their work. And pulling apart.

How do we do that? And I just want to say that I knew nothing about the publishing industry except for the fact that I interview authors. Yes. I, I was shocked at the, how long everything takes, including the two years that it took me to just write the proposal. And all of the different pieces of the proposal that are, that's expected by a publisher or by an agent.

I went the agent route first. That was a learning experience, but what I got out of it was so much clarity around what it is. I really want to teach because boy, do you have to nail that down? Not just the framework, but you know who your audience is and what you really to define your place in the market in the field and.

Writing a book proposal is not for the faint of heart. So if you really have no interest in writing a book, I'm not going to say, Oh, go do that. It's a fun exercise. But if you do decide to do it, I think really embracing the exercise of going through and having to really explain yourself, your business.

On paper, it's, it just informed so much of what I do and I really feel like it clarified so many things for me. I'm glad

you brought that up because it really contrasts the, write a book in 30 minutes with AI. And click send and you're, and now you're a published author. Isn't that fun?


Yeah so on the other side of things, what the book is actually about so it is the beginnings of my framework. In the first half, I teach the three pillars, the three principles, haven't decided what I'm going to call them yet that are the foundation of the framework itself.

The three things that I feel like if you want to develop a signature style, the slow style way, These are three things that you really need to ground yourself in. It's, they're like mindset things. And then the second half of the book are the five elements that I am pretty sure you're going to see in every slow styled home.

And the reason I did this it's a bit prescriptive and I tend to shy away from that because I really believe everybody is their own judge of what's beautiful, but it's prescriptive because I think people need. Examples. They need concrete examples of what this looks like. The first half is much more philosophical and abstract.

And the second half is okay. This is what I'm talking about. Let me show you some photos that put these things into play. So I hope that is useful. I do think that's how most people like to learn is through example.

Yeah, it really brings you, like you said, the philosophies, but then here's how you practice it.

Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Very good. That'll be fun. Now when can we expect to look for this book?

sn't come out until spring of:

So I don't have that much time. I

don't. Yes, we have deadlines. Yeah, exactly. I love that. In the meantime, then, where can we find you and your work and follow what you're up to?

Thank you for asking . You can find everything at, as you said in the beginning at slowstylehome. com. And you mentioned taking my quiz.

Thank you so much. Yes, you can take a free quiz. There's a button right at the top that will just help you, like I said, answer Get you focused on the very first thing you need to work on if your room is feeling off or not right to you. And then after you've done that and absorb some of that, if you want personalized help from me, then there is the opportunity to join the Slow Style Society, which is our membership.

It's our monthly membership where you got access to a whole lot of video tutorials, but then also access to me to help you personally. So again, slow style home. com. And that's the name of the podcast, as you said, slow style home. And I guess that's it. That's the best way to find

me. There you go.

We'll find all things, Zandra. and slow style homes. Very good. Listeners, my guest has been Zandra Zuraw, and she is the creator, founder of a great company and practice called Slow Style Home. We've been talking about principles and practice. And those things go together for sure. You can find quizzes, podcasts, groups, all sorts of things at slowstylehome.

com. Can't thank you enough, Zandra, that it's been a great conversation. And I think mainly I do like the idea of, yes, we need to get inspired and, have all sorts of great creative ideas. But this idea of start where we are really rings true with me. So thanks for sharing

that with us. I'm so glad it's been a real honor to be on your show.

Like I said, you have great guests and I'm just really happy to be amongst them. So thank you so much for having me on. Fantastic.

Thank you. And listeners come back again next time. We've stamped our creative passport in Boston today, but we'll continue these around the world journeys to talk to creative practitioners everywhere about inspiration, about organization, but most of all, like today, connections and confidence to get our work out into the world.

So until next time, I'm Mark Stinson, and we'll keep unlocking your world of creativity.

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About the Podcast

Your World of Creativity
Catalyst of Inspiration, Stories, and Tools to Get Your Work Out Into the World
On YOUR WORLD OF CREATIVITY, best-selling author and global brand innovator, Mark Stinson introduces you to some of the world’s leading creative talent from publishing, film, animation, music, restaurants, medical research, and more.

In every episode, you'll discover:
- How to tap into your most original thinking.
- Inspiration from the experts’ own experience.
- Specific tools, exercises, and formulas to organize your ideas.
- And most of all, you’ll learn how to make connections

 and create opportunities to publish, post, record, display, sell, market, and promote
 your creative work.

Listen for the latest insights for creative people who want to stop questioning themselves and overcome obstacles to launch their creative endeavors out into the world.

Connect with Mark at www.Mark-Stinson.com

About your host

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Mark Stinson

Mark Stinson has earned the reputation as a “brand innovator” -- an experienced marketer, persuasive writer, dynamic presenter, and skilled facilitator. His work includes brand strategy and creative workshops. He has contributed to the launches of more than 150 brands, with a focus on health, science, and technology companies. Mark has worked with clients ranging from global corporations to entrepreneurial start-ups. He is a recipient of the Brand Leadership Award from the Asia Brand Congress and was included in the PharmaVoice 100 Most Inspiring People in the Life-Sciences Industry.