Samantha Varvel began her career in finance, but her true passion has always been design. After welcoming her second child, she found a way to turn that passion into a new career, and despite being self-taught, her talent is greater than most fashion and interior designers! Samantha grew up immersed in a world of travel and beauty – Her mother, Shauna Varvel, is the author of Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair and her family owns the acclaimed French farmhouse, Le Mas des Poiriers, which is one of the most beautifully restored and decorated homes I have ever seen. Clearly good taste is in her blood! The Glam Pad is delighted to welcome Samantha today for an interview and a a glimpse into her exquisitely curated world. Welcome, Samantha!
Q: When did you become interested in fashion and design, and how did the idea for your lifestyle website come about?
A: I have always found fashion and design to be such powerful forms of self-expression. I grew up internationally, from Tokyo to Singapore, Jakarta, Connecticut, and London. I was surrounded with and inspired by people from many backgrounds who expressed themselves in different ways through the way they dressed and decorated their cities and homes.
My childhood was filled with constant change, but I found consistency in curating my own little world. Whether through painting, photography, collecting trinkets, decorating anything I could get my hands on – I was a creative at heart and have always found joy in sourcing and creating beauty.
Somehow I landed in a corporate career in finance that gave little room for creativity. So I pored myself into hobbies at night and on the weekends – decorating my apartments, researching beautiful destinations for trips, planning outfits, and photographing all of it. When my son was born, I decorated his nursery and started receiving questions on Instagram about where I had purchased this or that – photos of his little room were gaining traction on Pinterest without any effort of my own. At that point, I decided to create a website where I could write in longer-form about some of my design projects and share the process, inspiration and sources behind them. I also wanted it to be a destination to share my favorite baby clothing and items, which expanded into women’s finds as well! It was the culmination of all my interests and the ultimate creative outlet.
The daily commute into New York City and rigid schedule felt unsustainable once I had a baby in my life. By the time my second maternity leave was nearing an end, I was making more from my website than I was from my corporate salary – so it became a no-brainer to dive in full-time! I feel so fortunate that it has allowed me more flexibility in my current chapter as a mom.
Q: How did your Mother’s style influence you growing up, and how has Le Mas des Poiriers inspired you?
A: My mother has a great eye and I feel fortunate to share in some of her creative tendencies. She has always dressed the part and did an amazing job making sure that no matter how frequently we moved, each house we lived in felt like a true “home,” rather than a temporary residence. She matched the design style with the location. In Singapore, we lived in a black-and-white Colonial bungalow. It was decorated with locally-sourced teak furniture, potted palm trees and colorful silks. When we moved to Connecticut, our home adapted accordingly, with traditional New England nautical accessories and striped grasscloth wallpaper. In our London townhouse, European antiques and muted tones set the scene.
Of course Le Mas des Poiriers is the most special of them all. We traveled together to Provence for a decade of summers during the latter half of my childhood, and it was always a dream of hers to have our own home in the region to come back to. It has been so inspiring to see that dream become a reality – and much more than any of us would have expected! I loved being along for the ride during the design process and definitely draw inspiration from the style of Provence and the Mas when I think about decorating in my own life. Days and hours at the antique markets in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue will do that to you!
Q: You have done an amazing job decorating your own home. Do you have any professional interior design training? And would you consider offering your services?
A: That is so kind. I have not had professional training in interior design, though it has always been a great interest of mine. At the moment I already have so much on my plate juggling two young children and my business that I am not sure I can take on anything else, but in a future chapter when things have settled a little bit, a more formal education in interior design and exploring it professionally are definitely possibilities I would love to explore.
Q: How do you describe your style? In interiors and in fashion?
A: I really do feel that my style is a culmination of my life of travels – I live in Connecticut and definitely never veer too far from a traditional and classic style, but I like to think I bring a unique point of view with the bits and pieces of color and whimsy inspired by my past travels.
Q: What are 5 of your favorite things in your wardrobe right now?
- My Sea New York quilted coat from last spring that I can’t wait to wear again as the weather warms slightly! (Cropped version in their current season)
- A classic trench dress I just pre-ordered from Pearl by Lela Rose
- My black Gucci horsebit loafers – I wear them almost daily
- This tie-front Tove dress in the most gorgeous color
- My Kilte cardigan that I wear nonstop – she makes the most stunning knits!
Q: Where do you find inspiration, and do you have any tips for cultivating your eye?
A: We live in an age where there is so much inspiration at our fingertips, in fact we are bombarded by digital inspiration daily! I think this makes it so much easier to identify what we like and find tangible imagery to give us direction for our own designs. Perhaps the downfall can be a result of a degree “sameness,” where everyone is being inspired by the same content in our circles, so you see trends repeated and more likely to burn out quickly. For that reason, I think it’s important to take what you like, but find a way to make it your “own,” and true to your own tastes and preferences so that it will be timeless and original for yourself!
Q: How do you manage your time, and what does a typical day look like for you?
A: Ever since having baby number two, I can’t say I’ve really mastered the “balance” of daily life! Every day is different, but involves some combination of being a very hands-on mom with two active young children, working on my computer or shooting content during naps and when I am able to get some childcare help. I am up late at night finishing the things I couldn’t get to during the day, and feel like I am always chasing a never-ending to do list! But I wouldn’t have it any other way and feel so blessed to be able to do all the things I love at once.
Q: How do you incorporate beauty within your daily life?
A: I really do find joy in the beauty of the little things. Fresh flowers in the house immediately elevate the mood. Placing cheerful patterns and colors in every corner of our home make it feel like our own unique space, and spark joy at each turn (I have moments where I can see the benefits of going totally neutral-minimalist, but it’s just not me! I will always gravitate toward pattern and color). While my children may not care what they’re wearing, it puts a smile on my face instantly to see them in an adorable outfit or to coordinate it with my own (of course there will be less of this as they grow older and find their own sense of style – but it’s fun for now).
Q: Where do you see yourself – and your brand – in five years? Do you have any exciting plans in the works?
A: So many exciting little things have happened so quickly and I just feel like I am taking it as it comes. There’s hardly time to step back and think about my longer-term goals and where I’m headed because I’m just trying to keep my head above water with two babies under three, but I would love to perhaps eventually expand into offering a product of my own to the market once I have a lot of conviction behind a specific idea and think it could add something unique to the world. Right now I am just riding the roller coaster and seeing where it takes me! I am enjoying working with brands I love on social media and am just barely getting into the swing of that. A highlight was working with Schumacher on their Blue & White Design Challenge for our dining room – it was such an honor, and it is so exciting to see all of these beloved establishments doing creative and exciting things in the social media world.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I have long admired Andrea and the Glam Pad and was so honored to be a blip on your radar! Thank you for including me here on your beautiful piece of the internet.
Timeless, Classic, Elegant! Samantha, we love your style, thank you for joining us today and for all of your inspiration! To learn more about Samantha Varvel, please visit samanthavarvel.com and follow @samanthavarvel on Instagram. You can read The Glam Pad’s review of Shauna Varvel’s book – Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair – here, and tour Le Mas des Poiriers here.