Katie Armour's lifestyle blog, the Neo-Traditionalist, was born out of less-than-favorable circumstances: After spending two years working for top design firms (Tucker & Marks in San Francisco and Shaun Jackson in New York), Armour gave up her job and moved to West Virginia to be with her now-husband, who was finishing up school there. "I didn't really know anyone, and I had no one to talk to about any of the design-related things I was passionate about," she said. "I had gone from my awesome job in New York, where I got to fly around in clients' jets to decorate their houses, to waiting tables in West Virginia." It was less than a year before the blog started getting attention from other décor websites, and when she and her husband moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Armour is originally from, she decided to continue blogging full-time. Her work seems to be paying off: At the end of last year, she teamed up with a college friend of hers, Jane Lilly Warren (who formerly worked as a graphic designer for JPMorgan), to create an online lifestyle magazine called Matchbook. Matchbook's debut issue, which features interviews with the likes of WHIT designer Whitney Pozgay, makeup mogul Jemma Kidd, and journalist Rita Konig, came out this month, and Armour and Warren are almost finished with next month's installment. We grilled Armour about personal style, avoiding "the preppy magazine" label, and buying flowers at Trader Joe's.
What do you recommend for people who want to add nice, pretty touches to their lives but who don't have a lot of time or money?
I know it sounds cliché, but buy some fresh flowers at the supermarket! I buy my groceries at Trader Joe's, so I pick up fresh flowers there. They're inexpensive, and they make my living room look and smell so much better. Also, write that handwritten note when you can — because so few people do. It makes a bigger impact.