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Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie

Posted on November 19, 2018 by Melissa Andersen

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photo by Alyssa Alig Photography

From pattern and color flashcards to delicate and understated jewelry, Helmsie is a one-stop shop for the design-conscious momma and baby. Founded by good friends Sarah Howell and Karla Pruitt and based in Georgia, this children's lifestyle brand is the antidote to low-quality, big-box kids stores. The shop's offerings are inspired by the rich culture of the South and designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, with a healthy dose of whimsy in every product. 

Piedmont Taupe wallpaper | Helmsie | Hygge & West

When it was time to find a fresh design perspective for our newest pattern, we just knew we had to tap these stylish mompreneurs. We caught up with Sarah and Karla about how Helmsie came to be, their distinctive mix of modern and nostalgia, and two (of the many!) ways they would style their regionally inspired Piedmont pattern. 

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photos by Danielle Hulsey Photography

Hygge & West: Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how Helmsie came to be. 

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photo by Danielle Hulsey Photography

Sarah Howell: I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my husband, Nic, our two boys, Helms (4 years) and Lewis (1.5 years), and our black lab, Goodie. I grew up on a small farm outside of Bristol, Tennessee, and met Karla while living in Athens, Georgia, after graduating college. We lived down the road from one another in a little neighborhood called Normaltown. At the time, I was focusing on starting a career in Biomedical Engineering, but after Helms was born I felt a pull to stay home and spend most of my time there. Currently, I raise little humans, teach online courses for a university, and collect beaucoups of vintage jewelry, something my mama and I like to do together. For Helmsie, I primarily handle the business side of things and work with Karla on product development. I'm thankful to be paired up with someone so talented who can take our design from an idea to something we love. 

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photo by Danielle Hulsey Photography

Karla Pruitt: I live in Athens, GA with my husband, Joseph, 4 year old daughter Lucie, and Okie the corgi. I'm originally from Merritt Island, Florida, and though my mom is Southern, I definitely never considered myself a Southerner. Even amongst Floridians, my family is markedly more sun-loving and water-sport obsessed than your average Sunshine State resident. I fell in love with the South when I moved to Savannah to go to college at SCAD. When we married, Joseph and I had no reason to move to Athens other than that we loved it. Our families lived far away and all over the country, but we were happy in this little college town. Sarah and I became fast friends, and when we had our first babies, decided we should combine our love of design to start Helmsie. Sarah would run the business for us, and her total modern-Southernness and excellent taste would be the guiding inspiration for my designs. My home textile design background and experience designing lots of different kinds of products for many brands prepared me to design products for our own brand. It's been so fun designing goods for Helmsie, informed by the last ten years of my product design experience and immersion in Southern culture.

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

SH: Karla and I had dreamed about starting a business together for years. Our styles are similar and our strengths are different, so we thought we would complement one another well. Plus, we really like each other. Ha! My Helms and Karla's Lucie are a few months apart in age, and after they were born we knew we wanted to start a business together focusing on products for mothers and babies. 

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photos by Danielle Hulsey Photography

H&W: Your tagline is "Nostalgic and Modern Southern Goods for Momma and Babe." How do you find the perfect balance between nostalgia and modern design? How has the South influenced your work?

SH: If you come to visit us in our homes, you will find a happy mix of old and new: a new couch with reupholstered velvet side chairs from a grandmother and vintage Persian rugs paired with lamps from Target and vintage barware. Our personal style definitely spills over into our brand. We love the look and good design of vintage varieties with a muted color palette, but we also appreciate updated, more modern design and the freshness that comes from a mix of styles. 

Collectively, we have both lived in many places around the South. We are undoubtedly and happily influenced by the warm nature of the South: the people, the landscapes, and the good antiquing. Our hope is that our brand reflects the rich and unique culture of the place we call home. It is important to us that Helmsie showcase a new South that is modern and welcoming, yet still boasts of richness in style, and timeless charm for which it is known.

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photo by Danielle Hulsey Photography

H&W: There's a real movement in children's products that are both age-appropriate and aesthetically pleasing, and that's exactly where Helmsie lives. Why is it important to you to create children's products that are both functional and well designed?

SH: When we became mothers a few years back, we each had a difficult time outfitting our nursery in a way that blended well with the rest of our home. The products and brands we were drawn to were mostly high-end and though we didn't mind splurging on a few of those items, we knew in the back of our minds that we would be adapting these rooms in a short time to accommodate toddlers. Helmsie was partly born out of a desire to produce well-designed products that parents wouldn't stress over buying. Though we made a decision to keep most of our price-points in an average range, we refused to compromise on quality and take great care to ensure that our products, such as our flash cards, stand up to the test of toddler hands. Our products are designed with both the parent and little in mind, something they both can love together. It doesn't have to be one way or the other and that is where we think Helmsie shines.

Piedmont Indigo wallpaper | Helmsie | Hygge & West

Piedmont Mist wallpaper | Helmsie | Hygge & West

H&W: We're over the moon to launch our new wallpaper pattern, Piedmont, with you! Tell us a little bit about the design process, what inspired you, and why you selected the colorways you did. 

SH: To say we are excited would be an understatement. We are thrilled with how the paper turned out and so grateful to get the opportunity to partner with H&W. Piedmont is inspired by our most popular fine art print, “The Hunt.” It is one of the first pieces of art that we created for Helmsie. The scene is inspired by the South, mainly Georgia. If you were to take a walk through the woods in South Georgia, you would likely see all of the featured flora and fauna: foxes, rabbits, quail, blackberries, peaches, thistles. The ginkgo leaves are inspired by Athens, where we met. The streets of Normaltown are bright yellow in the Fall and it is one of our favorite things about that little city. Karla’s background in pattern design is always informing her new artwork, and she drew “The Hunt”  in a reflected style like a damask.

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

She is also a stickler for a good repeat and spent a lot of time getting it just right. We like to think the animals and other design elements in the pattern are perfect for kids or adults, a balance we are always striving for with Helmsie goods.

Piedmont Pine wallpaper | Helmsie | Hygge & West

We picked colors we have always loved and use often in our own homes. The Taupe version would look so great as a backdrop for a gallery wall and the Pine colorway could make a great statement with so much contrast between the white ground and the printed colors.

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont Pine wallpaper | Hygge & West

H&W: Talk a little bit about the two different styles you created using your new H&W wallpaper. Who do you imagine living in each of these spaces?

SH: The first is a children's room, maybe one that just got updated from a nursery. In this room, Piedmont in Pine gives it a grownup feel while still being playful. We added pops of color to keep it interesting for a little one, while using the metal and wood to masculinize the space for a boy. We imagine this little guy to be adventurous with an imagination that keeps his parents on their toes. 

In the second space, you might find someone who appreciates both the old and the new and loves to mesh them into a collected style. Piedmont in Pine is more proper in this room with the velvet sofa and antique chinoiserie lamps. We imagine this person loves to hunt for treasures for their home over time and watch it evolve.

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photo by Kathryn McCrary

H&W: Hygge is the Danish concept of coziness and comfort found in small joys and simple pleasures. And the holidays are, without a doubt, the most hygge time of year. How do you add a little extra hygge to your world this time of year?

SH: Neither of us have family that lives in town, so we take extended time over the holidays to travel to be with them or host them in our homes. The older we get the more we cherish this time together, especially now with kids. This time of year is so dear to us personally and we find joy in just being with friends and family and seeing the holiday season anew through the excitement of our littles. 

We also love to decorate (think vintage Shiny Brite ornaments and bottle brush trees of all shapes and sizes) and drink hot drinks all day long. We have been known to hit the coffee shop multiple times a day. If you find us together, you will probably see us hunkered down with some hot tea and blankets, chatting about life and reality television, a shared guilty pleasure. 

Wallpaper Two Ways: Helmsie | Piedmont wallpaper | Hygge & West

Photo by Danielle Hulsey Photography

RESOURCES:

Big Kid Charm: 1. Map | 2. Bed | 3. Rug | 4. Pillow | 5. Dresser | 6. Mirror | 7. Light

Southern Eclectic:  1. Lamps | 2. Table | 3. Rug | 4. Sofa | 5. Sconces | 6. Art

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