As the vice president of brand and design at Hutch, a shoppable interior design app, and mom to an 8-year-old son, Aisling Mittman is no stranger to navigating work/life balance. So when she and her husband undertook the project of renovating their 1950s traditional ranch-style home, they wanted it to be a comfortable yet stylish space designed for decompressing and spending time with family.
"We wanted the house to feel comfortable and not too stuffy, so it was important to work with fabrics and materials that could handle the inevitable spills and wear of life with a kid and dog," Mittman told MyDomaine. "Since the house is not that big, we wanted it to feel calming and airy." In the end, practical elements of Scandinavian minimalism met California cool in their striking home makeover.
Ahead Mittman shares sage advice for working moms and gives us a tour of her modern Studio City home, which boasts clean lines and vintage finds.
On Work/Life Balance
How did you manage the transition from working woman to working mom?
I actually do not know any other concept than being a working mom. I had my son my senior year of college, so when I landed my first job, I was transparent about my needs as a parent.
Returning to the workforce after having a baby can be daunting for many women. What confidence-building advice do you have?
I have seen the transition for many of my friends who went from being available 24-7 and working 60-hour weeks to finding themselves in awkward situations once they returned to work. My biggest piece of advice is to set boundaries, and always give 110% at work. I usually do not take a long lunch break and schedule calls on my commute to maximize my time in the office. Also, being able to say no is a huge thing I have learned. I schedule time to be thoughtful and to set my focus on what the priority is to accomplish my professional goals.
What advice do you have for working moms who have just had their first child and are feeling nervous about balancing both?
Take each day one at a time, and don't be too hard on yourself. Everything will work out!
What are some of the biggest lessons your son has taught you about work and life?
Balance. Sometimes it is easy to be home and get sucked back into work with technology at hand and apps like Slack. My son hates when I am on my phone, so I try to put it away as much as I can to be present when I am home with him. When it comes to life, I think being the best version of myself is what my son has taught me. Kids truly are sponges and pick up phrases and personality traits from their parents. I try to be super self-aware and exemplify what I expect out of him, including focus and respect.
What is the best thing about being a mom?
The unconditional love hands down. It is terrifying being a mom—the amount of worry you have and how hard you are on yourself is difficult to explain—but knowing that I have this person in my life that I would do anything for is reassuring and makes me feel complete.
What is the most surprising thing about being a mom?
The most surprising thing is how much energy you have. It is funny to think about life pre-kids and career to now and how I spend a typical week and how much more I accomplish.
On Designing a Comfortable Space
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my design style as California modern with Scandinavian touches. I love traditional pieces mixed in. I have so many favorite interior designers, and the best ones, in my opinion, can really mix styles yet make it all feel cohesive.
What's your favorite thing about the space?
Our bedroom is easily my favorite space now. I love how calming it feels and can really decompress from the busy days in there.
What were your greatest finds?
I am a big lover of vintage and have scored some amazing pieces from local flea markets as well as online. All the rugs in the house are from Turkish rug sellers I found on Etsy, as well as the Bruno Mathsson chair in our bedroom. My husband scored the pair of Arne Norell chairs off eBay about five years ago, which are prized possessions of ours. For our master bedroom, I sourced our nightstands, bedroom rug, and lamps from Hutch. I was working on a relatively low budget and was surprised that the nightstands were from Land of Nod (a kids' line by Crate and Barrel). They are the perfect fit, and the price could not be better for the quality.
Shop the look: The Land of Nod Little Sur Nightstand ($224); Roar + Rabbit Ripple Ceramic Table Lamp ($143); West Elm Mid-Century Heathered Basketweave Rug ($479)
On Mixing New and Vintage Pieces
Did you make any renovations?
We did a total remodel of our kitchen. We also did small cosmetic changes including installing new baseboards throughout the house and updating all the electrical outlets and switches. In addition, we painted everything white, which made the once-dark house bright.
Did you have any existing pieces you worked with?
We did not buy much, to be honest. All the dining room furniture we had, as well as all the furniture in my son Ryder's bedroom and our den. We did purchase some new pieces for our living room, and when I joined Hutch, I used the app to decorate our master bedroom.
Shop the look: West Elm Mid-Century Leather Show Chair ($799); Article Amoeba Coffee Table ($349); Pottery Barn Finn Hand-Knotted Rug ($1199)
On Decorating Her Son's Room
Which room was the most fun to decorate?
I think kids' rooms are the most fun to decorate. Even when he was a baby, I always was drawn to neutral colors and away from a baby-ish feel. When we moved into the house, we decided to let him have a queen bed so it could double as a space for when guests visit.
How did you choose which pieces to place in his room?
I incorporated things we collected over the years such as the vintage kilim rug I got at a flea market years back and a Pendleton blanket we bought on a trip to Lake Arrowhead. We decided to give him a desk, as he loves to draw, with a quirky gallery wall. The oversize Pizza Pony picture is from a dear friend of ours, Jonpaul Douglass.
Did your son have a hand in the decorating process?
Ryder did not have a lot of opinions when it came to his room—just a request for a place for his legos. I can't tell you how many he has because it is ridiculous, but we conceal them in storage bins under the bed and in his closet. Most of the time it looks like a lego bomb went off in his room.