Lauren Meichtry knows a thing or two about living comfortably. As the founder of the artisan pillow line, Elsie Home, she spends her days perfecting the art of warm and inviting home accessories. And when she’s off the clock, she heads to the Manhattan Beach home that she shares with her husband and two children, where the cozy, pared-back aesthetic of her brand comes fully to life. Since moving into the Santa Barbara style Mediterranean home two years ago, Lauren has transformed the space into a place where she can tap into an easy, laid-back state of mind, complete with all the cozy pillows of our dreams.
A design lover by trade, she has spent the past six years evolving her brand to fit her current lifestyle. “Over the years my life has evolved, and so has my taste for design and textiles. I have seen firsthand how adding a few beautiful pillows to a couch or a bed can bring life, warmth and comfort to a home. As my family has grown, my taste for high quality, livable and beautiful pillows has grown with it. I know what it’s like to have small kids and animals living in your home and how important it is to have pieces that withstand a dog pile, an epic pillow fight, or hours of you sitting on them while binge watching your favorite show,” she says.
We tapped Lauren for the inspiring story behind her brand, the joy of making something from nothing, and how she created a home that was perfect for her family, design trends aside.
For me, design provokes a feeling. I follow that feeling as opposed to trends.
Scroll on for a full tour of Lauren’s Manhattan Beach home, and her expert tips for creating an open, inviting home that reflects everything you and your family love most in life.
Tell us the story behind Elsie Home — what inspired it?
When my husband’s grandmother, Elsie, was moving out of her home of 40 years and into a senior care facility, her vintage sewing machine was gifted to me. While I didn’t know how to sew, I felt compelled to continue her creative legacy. With the help of a close friend and the University of YouTube, I learned how to sew my first pillow. Fast forward five years and two kids later, I was a stay at home mom who made pillows to style my home and was yearning for a passion beyond motherhood. My kids were in school and I found myself searching for more.
Grandma Elsie’s sewing machine helped me find my passion and that passion drove me to start this business. I launched Elsie Home in October 2019 and I am humbled by the progress I have made in this past year. I still run every part of this business on my own (well…not the finances. My banker husband is really good at that.) I source the fabric, manage the production, handle the marketing, process the orders and deal with customer service as well. It is an absolute labor of love and I enjoy every second of it.
Describe your special Manhattan Beach home. How did you end up here?
We moved from a Coastal style home in Palos Verdes to this Mediterranean style home in Manhattan Beach just over two years ago. I always envisioned myself in a modern farmhouse with an abundance of natural light, bright white walls and white oak cabinetry. This house was not that. Not even close. Redesigning this house really helped me flex my design muscles and branch out of the style I was comfortable with. While there were many design choices I wanted to change, I fell in love with the arches throughout the home, the high ceilings and the slightly moody aesthetic.
What’s your favorite spot in the house?
The front entry room is my favorite spot in the house. It’s the room I fell in love with when I first saw the house. There’s something so welcoming about the high ceilings, the archways and the oversized limestone fireplace.
You have such a talent for creating spaces that feel open and inviting. What are your tips for keeping the design of a space simple?
I really let go of designing this space for others and designed it to fit our family. I think people get caught up in making sure they’re following design trends and “rules”. I’m not an interior designer by trade, so perhaps that worked in my favor here. Is there a lot more I could do here? Absolutely. The thing is, my husband would be happy living in a tent in the mountains. With that, I knew keeping the design relatively simple would create a space he loved, and in turn one that we could all love.
What are your favorite design resources?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pull a lot of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest. There are so many talented designers and non-designers who share such thoughtful spaces and I can get lost scrolling there for hours. For me, design provokes a feeling. I follow that feeling as opposed to trends. I also love browsing shops like Shoppe by Amber Interiors, deKor & Co., and of course our local flea markets.
What was your design inspiration for your home?
This home was originally built as a Santa Barbara style Mediterranean home. I wasn’t crazy about the ornate finishes they used yet appreciated the arches, moldings, and darker wood floors. In designing the home, my focus was on stripping away the ornate details (think swirly rod iron) and overall modernizing. I wanted an open, functional kitchen, a good mixture of texture throughout, and moody paint colors.
Did you have any design challenges when working on this space?
We wanted to reconfigure the kitchen island to create more counter space, although doing so would have meant replacing the floors in the kitchen and dining room which was not in the budget. Instead, we put in a stove with a few less burners and built a microwave drawer into the island to have one less thing on our counters. While it wasn’t the kitchen island of our dreams, it’s proved to be functional and fit within our budget.
Fill in the blank: “A well-designed home should _______.”
…reflect the people living in it – their present, their past and their future.
Do you have any tips for keeping your place clutter-free? Especially with kids?
I am constantly pairing down my kid’s toy collection. Often times, having too many toys is overwhelming for kids and they don’t know which ones to play with, so they just don’t play with them at all. Every couple of weeks, we go through their toys together and take a good amount to donate. As for the rest of the house, I prioritized storage when decorating our home, so we are fortunate to have plenty of space to put everything. I am still tidying all day everyday though!
Do you have a favorite way to relax in your home?
Any night I can order Postmates, have the couch to myself and binge watch Selling Sunset is a relaxing night for me.
Who are your dream house guests? And, what are you eating, drinking, listening to?
While I’d love to have someone special and incredibly interesting like Diane Keaton, I honestly just miss my best girlfriends. Outside of family, my true friends are the most important people in my life and because of Covid, I’ve not been able to see many of them. I would give anything to have my table surrounded by my best girlfriends (you all know who you are). In person. So much hugging. All the laughter.
We’d be eating cauliflower mole tacos (my current favorite) and loads of grilled vegetables. While I don’t drink, my husband would be our bartender, making each person’s favorite drink. Don’t be fooled though, my lack of drinking does not mean I don’t know how to have a good time! For music, I’d have a playlist comprised of 60’s and 70’s hits (Laurel Canyon playlist, to be specific). Naturally, I’d have to throw on some Lizzo later in the night because it’s not a party if Lizzo isn’t playing. We’d play Cards Against Humanity and stay up way too late.
Describe your home in 5 words or less:
Comfortable. Refuge. Personal. Welcoming. Alive.
Name your 5 favorite spots in LA.
I have to admit I don’t get out much – although lately that’s not too unusual for most of us.
1. My favorite restaurant, hands down is Pace in Laurel Canyon. Their salmon with sautéed kale is unreal and if you leave without ordering their “not a souffle” cake, you’re missing out.
2. Some place you will find me every day is Two Guns Espresso here in the South Bay. I’m not kidding when I say my day is not complete without an oat milk flat white.
3. The Edit by Freda Salvador and Janessa Leoné – All I want for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. are Janessa Leoné hats.
4. Abbot Kinney – I could (and do) spend all day here browsing boutiques and enjoying Gjelina Take Away’s homemade almond milk lattes. Can you tell I like coffee?
5. Pre-Covid, my favorite summer night out is a night at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve seen a lot of shows there but Harry Connick Jr. has my heart.