Whitney Hawkins: Art Straight from the Garden

If you haven’t heard, we just released a new collection of wallpaper at MUSE Wall Studio, designed by the ingenious and oh-so-sweet Whitney Hawkins. On a mission to bring us the inside scoop on all things Whitney, Emily from MUSE took a little time to chat with her and get a glimpse inside her day-to-day.

Emily: Thanks so much for chatting with me, Whitney. I know you’re crazy busy working full time, mom-ing it, and making beautiful art on the side. I love everything about your work — it’s so airy and fresh — and because I’m so curious to know how you came into your talent, can you tell me more about your background?

Whitney: I started designing (and coding!) blogs while I was in college in 2011 as a way to save up to study abroad. I taught myself graphic design as my projects and clients grew, and by the time I graduated with my degree in Marketing, I was able to go full time with my design business! In 2015 I closed my company and began working for Simplified, and am now the Creative Director. I do everything from product design to planning and executing photoshoots, all of which I taught myself. The beautiful thing about design is that anyone can learn if they have the patience and willingness to google allthethings! 

Emily: Around here we say ‘there’s nothing you can’t learn from the school of YouTube.’ It’s true! So we’ve seen some peeks of your home and every little nook is like a soothing breath. Getting more into the topic of home decor, what would you call your personal home decor style?

Whitney at home with her son as a newborn.

Whitney: Simple southern! Almost every room in our house is "Extra White" by Sherwin Williams with soft colored decor. I love a less-is-more approach to decorating, so we are very intentional with what we hang on our walls and place on shelves. But I try to balance that with cozy furniture so our space is inviting, we want you to sit and stay a while!

Emily: Do you have a favorite room in your house?

Whitney: Hmm this one is hard! Our home was a foreclosure that we completely renovated, so each room holds memories of hard work and is totally transformed. I think one of my top favorites is our powder bathroom though, because (thanks to wallpaper!) the difference is dramatic!

Whitney's powder bathroom, featuring Deep Greens wallpaper from the Jessa Bray collection at MUSE Wall Studio.

Emily: In contrast with the overall soft colors in your home I bet entering that powder bath is a bit like finding a secret treasure for your guests. I love that, and I love your approach to home decor in general. Right now, where are you finding inspiration?

Whitney: The concept of living a good life (as opposed to "great") that Emily Ley talks about in Grace, Not Perfection has been on my heart a lot lately. I think being in a season of raising a family, it's so important to slow down and savor as many moments as we can because holy cow kids grow fast! It's so easy to feel like we need to strive for the next/best/prettiest (thanks, social media!) but what if we already have everything we could ever need right here and now? Appreciating the simple fact that I am truly living "the good life" right now has been such a liberating perspective and makes me cherish the smaller details of my days.

Emily: I’ll link to that book, because I’m sure others will want to check it out if they haven't already. It’s certainly going on my reading list! And yes, kids do grow so fast...it’s a time warp. Have you made any decor changes to make your space "child friendly" since your son has become mobile?

Whitney: Oh definitely! There's the usual things like baby gates, but we've also cleared out and simplified the bottom shelves of many pieces downstairs. We spend a ton of time in the kitchen, so we filled one of our bottom drawers with toys for Rob and thankfully he takes no interest any other kitchen drawers now!

Emily: Sacrificing kitchen storage for toy space! That’s one of those things that before kids you’d say “no way, never” but now I’d do it in a heartbeat if it gave me five extra minutes to cook. That’s genius. On a similar note, I hear from a lot of moms that they feel like they have to sacrifice their decor style when kids are in the picture. Do you have any tips on maintaining your design aesthetic with kids in the house?

Whitney: I think that after you've baby proofed (removed sharp/breakable things, no choking hazards, etc) you can totally keep your style as long as you have plenty of "approved" things to play with. We've found that Rob really doesn't care about messing with most things when we have plenty of toddler-safe activities around. When he's in bed or we have company, we have some cute bins from target that we pack all of his stuff into, and then tuck under our coffee table. 

Emily: You have the most gorgeous nursery for your son. What changes did you make to the room to transform it? And do you have any suggestions for first-time parents decorating a nursery for their baby?

Woodland Trees wallpaper designed by Whitney Hawkins in her son's nursery.

Whitney: Thank you! It really was pretty simple, which is what I would totally recommend for new parents! Removable wallpaper was a wonderful choice because it makes such a fun statement but isn't a permanent decision. I definitely recommend that you only get the essentials for the nursery; things like a dresser, crib, changing pad, glider, etc. New babies don't need a million stuffed animals, 40 fancy outfits in size newborn, or shoes. And you'll be happy you didn't waste your time and money organizing things your baby won't ever use! 

Emily: Agree 100%. Now let’s shift to topics outside the house — I hear you're quite the gardener! What's growing in your yard?! 

Dahlias in Whitney's garden.

Whitney: All sorts of flowers and veggies! A few of my favorite edible plants from this year were beets, cherry tomatoes (our plant got 12 feet tall - INSANE), blue beans, and cucumbers. This year I started growing roses for the first time and it was way easier than I expected and extremely rewarding as they bloomed all summer long! Some of the flowers we have in our garden are peonies, English roses, dinnerplate-sized dahlias, poppies, and all shapes and sizes of zinnias! Many of these flowers inspired my new wallpaper designs :)

Blue cosmos in Hawkins' backyard garden beds.

Emily: Yes! I saw your new material and knew for sure you’d been spending a lot of time with your nails in the dirt. When you’re inside at your desk and working on projects, do you listen to music?

Whitney's backyard garden.

Whitney: Yes I do! Sometimes when I really need to concentrate I'll listen to classic piano, but my go-to is upbeat music like Jack Johnson and Ed Sheeran.

Emily: Whitney, thank you so much for taking some time to talk to me. All of us at MUSE can’t wait to see what’s next from you and we’re really eager to share your beautiful new wallpaper collection. 

To learn more about Whitney you can follow her on Instagram @whitv and you can see her full wallpaper collection, including the nursery wallpaper and all her new patterns, here