Local Designer Shares Best Secrets for Natural, Simplified Living
Set back from the road with a slate walkway leading to its inviting front door, Selena and Jamie Campbell’s home is a study in the power of simplicity and purpose. While their color palette is “down to earth,” so to say, the effect is anything but.
Selena’s keen eye and knack for creative design solutions coupled with Jamie’s woodworking skills have allowed them to create a beautiful Campbell County home that’s both purposeful and personal throughout.
And when they built on their two-acre lot 10 years ago, it was with some very specific goals in mind.
“We knew we wanted something different from ‘the cookie-cutter’ look,” Selena says. “Lots of natural light was a priority and lots of closets.”
As a result, they adjusted the house plans in several ways: larger windows for the kitchen and master bedroom plus French doors off the dining area were added to let in more light; sky lights in the vaulted living room ceiling also prioritized natural light while additional closets in the upstairs bedrooms yielded plenty of storage options.
In the years since, Selena, who owns an interior decorating business called Middle Sister Design, has continually tweaked their décor and spaces to better suit their needs and taste. Over the last few years especially, she has transitioned the home in two primary ways: updating to a neutral color palette throughout and decluttering every nook and cranny.
“We both enjoy being outdoors and have a great appreciation for the beauty of nature,” Selena says. “We love the serenity of the neutral, earth-inspired palette we’ve established in our home.” Selena believes the soothing colors help them to feel relaxed and have a calming effect. Rather than having bright and competing colors from room to room, she’s transitioned to lots of white and other airy neutrals.
To make this work without leaving the home feeling too bare, Selena has worked in a variety of textures and finishes. In the kitchen, that means they used beadboard for the backsplash, selected shaker-style cabinets, and built a shiplap wall. In the living area, she chose a variety of fabrics and embellishments in the form of pillows and throws to soften the space.
And one can find natural pieces in every room, where items such as oversized driftwood and plants abound. Not only do they all complement the natural aesthetic, they each tell a story as well.
Selena’s sister Heather, for instance, found one of the largest pieces of driftwood in the James River and brought it back for her. Laughing, Selena says many river adventures—and fishing boats—have been hijacked to retrieve unique driftwood pieces for her home. A bit of scrubbing and some bleaching is all she has to do to finish them for interior use.
While the move toward neutral has been a huge transformation, Selena’s biggest undertaking may arguably be the massive decluttering journey she started a few years ago. This process is one reason why the story or associated memory of an item is so important.
Selena’s tried and true questions to ask when decluttering include:
“What is the monetary value of said item? What is the sentiment behind it, if any? Do you have a place to store this item in an organized fashion that does not take up space?”
Over the last two years, she’s pared down her home to only those items that have particular purpose or meaning to her and Jamie; some favorites include “stones collected from beaches around the world with dates written on them [that]are displayed in a pretty jar” and wine corks from memorable bottles enjoyed with friends and family. Souvenirs from shared travels to St. Lucia or Cadillac Mountain in Maine are also displayed along with Selena’s books on interior design, a glass jar collection from an abandoned old home explored with her aunt, antlers gifted to her by friends and much more.
Her home design mantra could be summarized as this:
“A home should tell the story of and reflect the personalities of the individuals who reside there. Having meaningful, purposeful décor gives a space personality…and aids in telling that story.”
And having decluttered, Selena notes several additional benefits. “The lack of clutter sets a sense of calmness within me that is difficult to describe,” she says. “Besides, who wants to lift 222 knick-knacks to dust underneath or rummage through?”
Having been born and raised in Campbell County, Selena’s country roots and strong family ties are all represented in her home with Jamie. The natural elements speak to her appreciation for “nature and the beauty of the outdoors” while her business as an interior designer is a direct result of her years spent observing her mom’s decorating and practicing her own ideas on her sisters’ Barbie houses as a young girl. Jamie, also a Virginia native, currently works as an engineer for AREVA, but has built several pieces in their home and continues to bring many of Selena’s ideas to life.
Today, the couple has plenty of projects still in the pipeline; “there’s always something stewing up here!” Selena says. Later this year, they hope to build raised beds for their garden, rig up some permanent shade solutions on the western-facing back deck, and work on finishing some permanent guest space in the basement.
Follow their progress and other home projects on Selena’s Instagram page “MiddleSisterDesign” and on her blog at www.MidSisterDesign.com.