It doesn't take a lengthy conversation with Linnea Lindstrom to understand where she's coming from. She uses basic descriptive words - rustic, reused, balance, beauty - to describe what motivates her.
"Surrounding yourself with beauty enhances who you are. If your home feels good, then you'll love coming home," says the interior decorator. "I know when my house is a mess or a room is not exactly the way I think it should be, for me, I feel off balance. I like walking into a room and smiling."
It's this approach that Lindstrom takes when working with clients through her home-based business. Called "Linnea - The Home Boutique," Lindstrom began operating her antiques, home furnishing and fabrics store nearly four years ago. She originally opened the shop on Greenmanville Avenue in Mystic, but after 18 months decided to move the business.
She spent another year at a storefront in downtown Mystic before deciding to move again, this time into the historic Old Mystic home she shares with her husband.
The location serves as the ideal showroom for clients trying to determine if Lindstrom's design aesthetic reflects what they want to achieve in their own homes. Lindstrom describes her home interior as a "work in progress."
"Josh says it's like living in a museum," she says of her husband's patience with her constant redecorating, "because the exhibits are always changing."
The great room has been in transition since they moved into the house, serving as a barely used dining room and then an empty room. Older homes tend to have longer rooms, which made it difficult to position a couch and TV, she says.
In the last four months, however, she's made it work.
The great room, which is the main hang out area just off the kitchen, is golden yellow. A green two-seat bench, which Lindstrom foraged from the town dump, sits underneath a window. Some shelving in the corner is suspended from the ceiling by a Jacob's ladder culled from an old boat.
Her office upstairs has a farm table as the centerpiece, where she spreads out fabric swatches. A light fixture shaped like an iron globe and embossed with leaves hangs over it. A white loveseat that she bought for $10 at a yard sale, faces the desk. A series of wall units are filled with spools of thread she collects from yard sales and the walls of the room are a vibrant green.
"I love being in this room. It's a good place to be creative," she says.
Down the hall is Lindstrom's "room of her own," which is her dressing room and closet. An armoire is filled with IKEA shelves, a chaise is positioned in front of one window and a squat yellow chair provides a perfect place to sit when she's putting on her shoes, which are tucked away on a short bookcase behind the door.
Every room has window treatments that she made; nearly every item in the home was salvaged from a yard sale, the dump or the attic of a relative.
It doesn't take a lot of money, but rather passion, to make your home inviting, she says.
"In the past, interior design has had the reputation that the average person can't have it, that you have to be wealthy and you need a very posh decorator to come into your home. But with HGTV, home decorating has really taken off as a branch of interior design," she says.
"I'm a down-to-earth, unassuming person, so I can work with anyone," adds Lindstrom. "Decorating has become a 'non-uppity' profession."
Lindstrom earned a degree in design and later in public relations and advertising. Six months after being hired at the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce she was named the organization's executive director. She held the position for 10 years, during which she made numerous contacts that would later be useful when she started her business.
She's dressed windows for businesses during the holidays and also decorated homes. She's also learned that some of her clients are often embarrassed to have a professional come into their home, for fear they'll be told that everything they've done is wrong.
"You go to an electrician if you need wiring done or a carpenter if you need something built. You'll go to an expert for a lot of things, but people often think that just anyone can put a sofa in a room," she explains.
"If you walk into a room and you have that 'a ha' moment, you know that it's been done right. ... I think I've found my niche in decorating and home design. It really does make a difference in people's lives."