Introducing the Storied Stylist, Julie Cunha’s take on the world of design and style

Posted in Blogs, Visual Art

BY JULIE CUNHA, Sept. 20, 2013

“How I became the accidental tourist and wound up being an artist and designer”

As far back as I can remember there were two things my mother was passionate about; travel and traveling. She was a single parent with two little girls. Sadly, we were not blessed with a money tree in our backyard. And traveling to those far and exotic places you would read about in those magazines (at the doctor’s office) were for the most part, expensive. Fortunately, we had one thing going for us;-our mother was very resourceful. At eighteen, she landed her first job with United Airlines, as a ticket agent. By the time I was born, she was managing a travel agency.

By the late 1970’s my mother would eventually have her own travel agency. Of course, we didn’t realize that our lives as world travelers would abruptly end. Because it was a family business, everyone worked in the travel agency. There was no more time to book our own flights, when we were busy booking others!

Instead of jumping from one red eye to the next; we were brushing elbows (including me)-with my mother’s travel clients.  At one point I was going to a party or delivering people’s airline tickets every other weekend for three years.

This is the part where I became the accidental tourist. I became the accidental tourist of other people’s homes. From college students, Green Berets, plumbers, and Martial Arts instructors to divorcees. I’ve seen a lot of interiors in the eight years we owned and operated the travel agency.

In some ways it was no accident that I became an accidental tourist. It did not take long before I developed a fascination for the objects and ways in which people chose to create their own personal space. It was as though each room represented an intimate allegory of their life; and I was the tourist in each one of their stories.

Of course, some people are better at expressing themselves then others. This would explain why some interiors were phenomenal and some were just phenomenally bad. Now, does this make me an authority on interior design? No, but I’ve seen a multitude of spectacular homes. And believe me; if I can remember most of them from thirty years ago, they were at least for me, unforgettable.

What makes a great home? And what are some of the reasons that a person can create a great story of their home? The secret is that people choose to respect each room as an individual space. It’s as though each room has their own personal conversation with you. A good story flows throughout the entire house and thus the viewer is held captive with the turn of each corner.

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From the personal collection of Cunha, a stylish arrangement. (Julie Cunha photo)

Surprisingly, some of the most memorable homes were not the most expensive ones. Instead, they were from people that have made deliberate choices to design and decorate their spaces with the intention of telling their own story in the most artistic way imaginable. Didn’t Pablo Picasso once say that: “Everything you can imagine is real?”

So the next time you find yourself in a home for the first time, before you pass judgment on whether or not the aesthetics are attractive to you, instead, ask yourself: Is this space telling me a good story? You might be surprised by the answer.

Julie Cunha Interiors specializes in expertly edited restyled vintage and modern interiors. She lives and works on Whidbey Island. To inquire or to make an appointment, email or call 360-969-9921.


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