Scrolling through Laura Solensky’s Instagram feed is a soothing continuum of brightness and pastels, and a satisfying sense of tidiness and order. Currently the principal designer for Laura Erin Home, she worked as an IT project manager for six years prior to the pandemic. A proud “grandmillennial,” she also manages the Grandmillennial Home Design & Decor Facebook group.
Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Laura was gracious enough to share her home with us and divulge her favorite secondhand finds and places to find them. Take a peek at Laura’s home on my IGTV series.
How did you fall into styling and design? What inspired you?
I loved working as a project manager, but not the Industry. I am a creative person and always knew I needed to do something creative to feel fulfilled. I originally wanted to go into marketing, but IT found me and was a good opportunity. When we bought our home, I wanted to make it our own so we found a foreclosure that needed a complete cosmetic overhaul. I truly fell in love with the process and it became a passion.
How or why did you decide to go into design full time?
Over time, family and friends wanted me to help them and I started to think it could be more than just a passion. I started my Instagram page to see where it could take me, and then began offering e-design consultations. More requests for local clients started and I’ve been going with the flow ever since!
What is some advice you would offer to someone trying to pursue a design profession?
I would say start where you can, take any job you’re offered and try to learn and research as much as possible. I’m still doing that: just soaking it all in and seeing where it takes me.
What is one design rule you swear by?
I always stress the importance of a proper layout and scale of furniture and decor. It doesn’t matter what the room is, you want to utilize it and make it function for your lifestyle. You also want it to look beautiful. A proper plan and layout is the first and most important step to achieve both.
When and why did you start using secondhand finds in your designs?
I started thrifting and antiquing back when my husband and I rented our first apartment together. I bought a bunch of furniture and flipped it. We didn’t want to spend money buying new or expensive pieces, so it was the perfect solution. My secondhand finds have definitely evolved and become more sophisticated than back in those days, but the love of them remains. You can buy quality items, much more affordable, and know they aren’t being sold on shelves for everyone to buy. They’re unique and feel special.
What are some of your favorite secondhand finds?
This is hard: I have so many! I would say the lattice frames in my guest bedroom are one. I bought those for $10 total and painted them a beautiful green. I get asked about them constantly.
I also found a beautiful antique wicker plant stand for $30 that is currently in my dining room. I have multiple furniture pieces including the new cabinet that I just made over, and the outdoor stone urns and console. I could keep going!
What is the “one that got away”?
I was recently after these vintage bamboo chairs, but the seller had sold them to someone else after promising them to me. I have a few other similar instances but I try to tell myself something better will come along.
Do you have a “unicorn” item you’ve been searching for?
I would say designer wallpaper or fabric is my unicorn. I have never seen any around here but I would jump on it.
What is the craziest thing you’ve done to acquire something? (Or what was the hardest thing to get in your house?)
Last summer my husband and I drove four hours round trip to an outdoor garden store with the intention of only buying a stone console. We ended up also buying two stone urns and stands while we were there. Each piece was hundreds of pounds and totally weighed the car down. The hardest part was unloading them and then getting them into our backyard. We had to use a dolly to wheel them and the dolly broke two times. Let’s just say I dread the day we move and need to haul those again. But it was totally worth it.
What is one of your favorite places to go treasure hunting in person in Pennsylvania?
What do you love about Pennsylvania?
I love that we experience all four seasons. I love the mix of city and country lifestyle. I love that it feels like a safe and happy place to live. And of course I love the sports teams!