Curating a Thoughtful Home with Sarah + Rebekah Fess
In the modern age of the KonMari method, i.e., getting rid of things that do not spark joy, simplifying our lives is on-trend, and it’s more important than we may realize. What does your house look like? Your bedroom? The inside of your car? If it’s a total mess, it’s really hard [if not impossible] to stay focused, to be productive, to be successful. One of Marie Kondo’s six basic rules in tidying up is to “imagine your ideal lifestyle.” When we think about curating a thoughtful home — imagining our ideal lifestyle — there is one place that comes to mind: WITH Home Supply.
“Fill your home with good things and good people” is the motto of WITH Home Supply, located in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. Founded in 2015 by sisters Rebekah and Sarah Fess, the airy, light-filled shop is stocked with beautifully curated linens, bowls, utensils, books, pillows — everything you could want in a tidy yet lived-in home. [We’re partnering with WITH to giveaway their top picks for a thoughtfully curated home — enter here!] Our Editor-In-Chief, Anna Cottrell, met up with the women behind WITH for a peek inside their shop, philosophy, and process. Come on in…
Anna: WITH Home Supply is hands down one of my favourite places in all of the land– I’m a junky. Please share with us how the concept came to be and what inspired you to open up shop in the first place?
Rebekah: Sarah and I both moved back to Fayetteville in our mid-20s within a year or two of each other and pretty quickly started styling projects together and scheming about new creative ventures. The shop concept started to take shape as we both bought and furnished houses here and found that there was a real gap in the local market for the kinds of beautiful utility home essentials we were after. This business has been a huge learning experience for both of us and we have so appreciated the community relationships, education from makers, and aspects of design and styling the shop has fostered and offered for us.
AC: For those who may not know, you’re not only sisters but twins. What is it like working with someone you’re so connected to?
Rebekah: It definitely doesn’t work for everyone, but we both feel that our strengths are expanded in partnership. I tend to be more macro; Sarah more micro. I am more action-oriented; Sarah is more considerate when it comes to details and process. We are also lucky enough to have very creative and involved partners. My husband is a designer and builder and Sarah’s husband is a talented photographer. We are a close knit team and are fortunate to have a very in sync vision for our brand.
AC: To you, what does it mean to curate a thoughtful home?
Sarah: To me, the best way is the slow way. I’m sure we’ve all learned the hard way that when we rush to fill a new space and “make it perfect,” we end up with a lot of things we don’t feel personally connected to or don’t love for the long term. I think the most interesting and soulful spaces are those that, over time, accumulate pieces that really resonate with you, whether they’re found while traveling, a vintage piece or a new quality piece that you made the choice to invest in.
AC: Would you consider yourselves minimalists?
Rebekah + Sarah: Maybe more like essentialists? There are so many ways to create a considered home, from the very sparse, to the very layered and lived-in. An open floor plan with no evidence of daily life is not the mark of good design to me. It’s about filling your home with only the things that bring you life — that balance looks different for everyone. For us, it’s more important for it to be specific to your own needs, to be a place that provides rest at the deepest level, creative energy, and a place to enjoy with the people you love.
AC: Where do you find your inspiration when sourcing for the shop and/or design clients?
Rebekah: There are many makers we’ve found for the shop [and for clients by extension] just by traveling and keeping our eyes open! The first time I was in Baja, I saw a leather bag and jotted down the name of the maker, reached out to him. The next time I was in Mexico City, we had lunch together and toured his studio. He has been our go-to source for new bag designs in the shop since! Sarah and I also find so much inspiration in the lived-in homes of real people, whether we are at an estate sale full of beautiful chaos or touring the home of someone we admire while traveling. If you’re paying attention, there is so much to learn from the tiny details of everyday living.
AC: What are some of the things you look for when choosing brands to carry in the shop?
Sarah: The brands we love the most are forward thinking in design and transparent about the practices by which their products are made. There are so many makers we work with who are not only creating beautiful, timeless pieces but who are also bettering the world around them through their resourceful and ethical approach. It’s so inspiring.
AC: Trends are ever changing in the world of interior design — it can be hard to keep up [both financially + for staying in the know.] What are your go-to tips regarding home styling and how to select staple pieces that will stand the test of time?
Rebekah: First, choose pieces that personally speak to you, rather than just imitating what you see. Secondly, whenever possible, invest in quality. Often shopping vintage and secondhand pieces can be a budget friendly way to source quality. And lastly, for us, it’s helpful to keep foundational materials simple (not basic, but timeless and versatile) and from there, you can layer color, texture and pattern through textiles, art, serving pieces, plants, etc. If the pieces in your home are things that originally resonated with you rather than just following a trend, you won’t be tempted to cycle through things as often.
Sarah: Think about what makes you happy to surround yourself with when you’re at home. From there, shop in places that you feel good about as you seek these pieces out. If you buy something you love, you won’t want to change it out nearly as often, and if it’s a natural material, most of the time you can keep it looking good for much longer. It’s incredibly fun to shop, but everyone wins when we all slow down a little and consider things like, “Who made this? What is it made of? Where will it go when I’m done with it?”