DIY Your Way Towards Making A Bold Statement With Your Memories: Spotlight On Jaime Lyn Pirozzi Of nluv Studio
Do you have items that hold tremendous sentimental value? You know- the photographs, the neck ties, or even old pots and pans. Most of the time, these items get stored away for safe keeping, but what they really deserve is to be front and center!
That’s the basic philosophy of Hometalker Jaime Lyn Pirozzi, of nluv Paint & Finishing Studio. She is all about making bold statements using your memories. Her projects bring new life to existing items, allowing them to get the attention they deserve.
We decided to interview Jaime, to learn more about nLuv and her DIY philosophy. Her answers to our questions are awesome- enjoy!
How long have you been DIYing? What inspired you to start?
Ever since I moved out on my own, I have loved the DIY life. I became obsessed with Home Depot! My mom always instilled in me that I can do anything I put my mind to and to be independent. That somehow translated into renovating everywhere I lived and trying to make things on my own instead of buying them. At first everything I did was functional, like painting, learning to tile, install hardwood floors, fix drywall holes, build shelves… that sort of stuff. Then I met a gal after college that loved crafting like making her own stained glass, faux finishing techniques like Venetian plasters and stenciling and upcycling furniture. We quickly became friends and I thought she was so cool and ultra-crafty! What I did was functional but what she did was beautiful! She was going to a faux finish and decorative painting workshop and I thought it would be fun to join her. I was hooked! After that, I started refinishing everything I owned and going to garage sales and finding other pieces to redo. I loved everything so much, I just kept it all so the business part hadn’t kicked in my mind yet. That was 16 years ago and I thought that was my new path but shortly after my new-found love had blossomed, my corporate career took off and I started racing up the corporate ladder. Time really flies and we can so easily get diverted from our true path. The next 15 years I spent on the corporate whirlwind tour until I hit another moment in my life where I reevaluated my path. Everything comes full circle it seems because now, 15 years later, I have picked back up where I started but this time made it permanent and set a new course forward.
What were some of your favorite DIY projects from your earlier years?
Becoming a proper corporate workaholic right out of college (insert sarcasm), I saved every penny and as able to buy my first house at a pretty early age. I was so proud! I was set on redoing everything myself in this house because I could figure out anything. Young minds are so positive, aren’t they? I am still proud that I taught myself to tile and install flooring as the young 20-something girl who went to Home Depot and did construction man’s work. That’s what I thought when I did it all. But the project that I still remember that was my most proud shining moment was completely out of my renovation comfort zone – upholstery. Sewing was so girly and I didn’t like girly things. The entry to my house had a curved wall that lined the stair case and nothing looked good there. If you put square furniture there, it just looked terrible. So, I decided I would learn how to build furniture and upholster it! How hard could it be? OMG, if I only knew then. I was going to build a custom bench that followed the curve of the wall, put storage cubbies underneath and then custom upholster it to hide the cubbies and have nice cushions and pillows to match. I figured a weekend would do it. I bought all the tools, huge wood boards, fabric, batting… you name it, I bought it! 5,000 questions at Home Depot, three months of time and probably $800 later, I finally did build it, upholster it and it was actually awesome. I was so proud! I would just sit on it because I could and read a magazine. It was an odd place to actually hang out or be useful, but I had what I thought was the coolest curved bench, fully upholstered with even little bolster pillows that I could say I made all by myself.
How would you describe your current DIY style?
Functional, fun, bold and meaningful! I love pieces that are wrapped with meaning and I love pieces that are bold and take you out of your comfort zone to make a statement and love the result! Many people are afraid of doing something more permanent to a wall that is too unique or bold even though deep down they want to. Venetian plaster for a whole wall or crafting an exposed stone look is a lot to consider and commit to having affixed to your space. They can be expensive finishes that while loved by you, maybe not the next owner or maybe you just change your taste! That’s why I love the idea of Faux Finish Feature Wall Art. Take all those wild and fun finishes and create wall art that can be as grand as the wall itself or small as a picture frame but you hang it up (install it) taking away the permanence of it but allowing you to make a personal expression! And, if you’re not thinking walls but rather furniture or other décor pieces, same rules apply. Make a statement with colors, textures and add the finishing touch of a personal memory, like wrapit nluv. I get so excited just talking about this and imagining all the different pieces in my head!
Does being bicoastal and having lived in drastically different settings influence the style of your projects in any way?
You’re right – I’ve been exposed to so many different styles by living across the US and traveling the world. I never say I don’t like a style or would never design using something. I live in the beautiful mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe so my world is rustic and filled with nature. I personally wouldn’t have every style in my space but if it’s what you love and it fits your lifestyle and would be how you enjoy recapturing those special moments in time, so be it! I’m onboard. I’ve lived in the heart of a city with modern décor and the outskirts on a ranch with wood and old barns. Everywhere I have lived and traveled is unique and therefore I appreciate the style it embraces. I honestly feel that experiencing so many different styles throughout my life opens my design-mind to think wider in scope. I don’t approach a project or person with what I personally like in mind, that I would want in my house. I approach it as what their likes and lifestyle embody or if the piece just deserves to be restored to its original glory, I will keep it as such. Not everything should be painted or completely revolutionized… sometimes just a little TLC and restoration is the right approach. I will always hunt to recuse tossed away beauties and refurbish them with new life. But when it comes to personal, custom projects, the end result will be what each individual person loves and will cherish for years to come.
Do you consider yourself a sentimental person? Please explain why or why not.
Yes and no… When I was younger, I hated anything old and I kept nothing and threw away everything! Stuff was pointless and I liked the minimalist look. Tidy, no clutter and organized like a magazine. I used to tell my Mom that all the stuff she kept in boxes from my childhood or the family I wouldn’t want because I don’t like ‘stuff’. Wow – did that change!!! I am not one of those people that attaches sentimental value to just anything someone gives me like if my grandma were to go buy me a wall clock and give it to me and then I must keep it forever because my grandma gave it to me so it means something. Those kinds of things I don’t attach memories to. But I am sentimental with items that people give me that were special or important to them and therefore important to me. Also hand written cards I hold memories and value in as well as something personalized just for me that’s given as a gift. That stuff I don’t get rid of but I also don’t just keep it to keep it and put it in a drawer to never see again. I like to make things enjoyable and useful. Just because someone gives you a plaque doesn’t mean it must stay a plaque forever. Make it into something you can really use and enjoy which still honors the gift in the first place and lets you appreciate it every day. I have a bunch of sweaters that were my grandma’s. They are adorable and like 60 years old but I can’t wear them. I would never get rid of them! I would love to make them into pillows so I can actually put them on display and enjoy seeing them every day to think of my Grandma. Or I have a drawer full of cards that were so heartfelt when they were written by different people in my life. I plan to create custom wood frames, faux finishing them onto the wood and then put other pictures and mementos on display surrounded by heart-felt words. Just because you buy something doesn’t make it sentimental to me. If it is special to the family or someone else, then I treasure those memories and will figure out a way to bring justice to the memory and highlight it more for years of happiness. There are so few things that deserve to be thrown away. If you’re creative (even just a little), you will come up with some other way to use it and mold it into something new to enjoy.
What inspired you to turn your hobby into a business?
I live in an amazing mountain town, South Lake Tahoe, CA, and wanted to truly become connected to the people, community and nature around me. Life is too short to sit miserable behind a desk and not get involved and contribute to the personal lives of others. Sadly, most people will say “I love to do…” and then its followed up by “oh, but for work I am a.…” Not me anymore. I have always been successful at whatever I put my mind to and this wasn’t going to be any different. I don’t want to work anymore! I want to do what I love every day and therefore never work another day in my life. I love making personal connections with people. I feel that everyone deserves to relive and enjoy those moments in life that are most special to them. I want to create a better environment (personal and nature) by taking those things discarded by some and transforming them into beauty for others – AND incorporating special mementos so everyone can have a one-of-a-kind piece just for them. We all deserve to feel special and take pride in our lives. I want to help showcase those proud moments so people can dwell on the positive in life instead of the stresses! TO much negativity in this world! We need to kick up the positivity because its infectious!
Please share some of the best feedback you’ve received for your work.
Most people are kind and tell you they love your work and thank you for sharing your ideas. I love every kind word people share with me, because I love sharing! Some of my favorites is when people tell me that they don’t understand how any of it works. They listen as I explain how the finish was created and show them pictures along the way or they get to see it live and the only response is, “I still don’t understand what you do but I’ll just describe it as magic.” I’m not really one for magic shows but I can tell you I’ve had a few projects that when I started I had no idea where things were going and somehow in the end, it was perfect and I loved it. Those moments felt like a little magic to me too! It feels good to know that people appreciate that what you do is not something they could do. You feel special. The greatest feedback and meaningful words for my work though haven’t come from my clients. They’ve come from my mom. Every mom wants their kid to grow up a good person and be successful. I was on the fast track to corporate stardom and stepped away from it all to follow my heart and make a difference in the lives of others on a personal level. My mom has supported me all the way and is my best friend in the whole world. When she tells me that I am truly talented and she loves my artistic ways and creativity, it is my catalyst to do even greater things. When she shares my works with all her friends and proudly tells people she’s seen my projects and they’re beautiful, it is the best compliment I could ever ask for. I want everyone to be happy and enjoy my work but when I make my mom proud, I reach my highest level on cloud nine! Just having a conversation with my mom, I come up with so many great, new ideas that I always have a little notepad so I can jot down notes. When I see my mom living vicariously through me as I travel my own path and enjoy every day, it motivates me to keep pushing forward and touch more souls through my travels. With a cheerleader as amazing as my mom in my corner, nothing is impossible for me to conquer.
What are some of the most unique creations you’ve made for clients?
In all honesty, I haven’t made it yet. It currently sits drawn out in my sketch book waiting for me to craft it. This is a super personal one for me and will be made for one of the most special people in my life. I can’t tell you too much about it because I want it to be a surprise when it is done (but don’t worry, I will absolutely write about it and share!). I can say it is the embodiment of wrapit nluv. I have tucked away some special memories and mementos that will adorn this piece and keep a memory alive in my family for generations to come. As my business continues to grow and I share my ideas with more people, I hope you come back at some later point and ask me again about my most unique and personal creations and that I have many stories to tell you of projects I am honored to have been able to complete for people that are so special to their hearts.
Do you see yourself ever going back to the corporate world?
Nope, not if you mean the public traded big business corporate Wall Street desk-job world, but I guess you could say this is my new corporate world. I want to touch as many people as I can with nluv Studio whether it’s through custom order pieces, sharing ideas and techniques or items I create/refinish to sell, so I treat it as a real company with a real mission and goals. I live in a small mountain town community that thrives off tourism and vacation seasons. It’s hard to live here and make a living that is intertwined with the community itself. Everyone deserves to live in a home or have a business that they are proud of and brings them peace when they are there. If I can make custom pieces for people to bring a smile to their face when they pass by it, then I have done my job. I will live, work and play in my community to make it better place.
You tell others to “Imagine big” and “Dream large.” What does that mean to you?
This is a big deal to me and really my whole motivation for a complete course change in life. And I mean complete change. I had an amazing childhood living on the East coast and then moving West. Big family, lots of friends, the whole storybook life – I couldn’t be more thankful. I remember when I was 5 yrs. old and I told my mom that I would be the CEO of a bank and have millions of dollars. I was always so driven and when I put my mind to something, I just pushed and pushed and made it happen regardless what anyone said. I followed that mantra for my entire corporate career by going to college, getting a Masters and rising in the ranks on the fast track in Supply Chain and Technology. Being a male dominated field, that motivated me even more. I was 100% corporate all the way – headed for the top.
And then 5 years ago happened and my whole perspective changed. First, I met my now-husband Alex. He also was corporate and worked hard but he made having fun and ‘smelling the roses’ (as he always would tell me) the more important means to life. He worked to play while I worked to work more. He started to convince me to take time off and enjoy the weekends and start making memories not related to work and more with family and friends. Real memories that mattered and left an imprint on others. Then a few close people to me had life-altering moments that hit me in a way I never expected. I looked at how their lives literally made 180 degree turns and what it all meant. I remember waking up one morning and thinking to myself “If I died today, who would come to my funeral and what would they say about me?” All I did was work, travel, work more, eat a little and then work. My coworkers wouldn’t come and say, “She worked so hard and so much…she’s such a positive and important person to my life.” And since I didn’t do anything besides work, what memories would people talk about that we had together and how I did anything to make the world a better place or have a positive influence on anyone I knew? That was really it for me and my mind shifted from climbing the corporate ladder to “What do I really feel passionate about and want to do every day to fully enjoy my time AND touch people in a personal way to make a difference – put my positive stamp on this world to feel good about?”
I’d never failed at anything before and I wasn’t about to now. What’s the worst that happens? I start down one path, and if it doesn’t go straight as I intended and veers to the right, then I go right and continue to follow the path that keeps my heart happy and creates positive change along the way. Anyone can do anything – I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT! The only reason failure occurs is because we don’t believe in our own hearts we can do it. Dream big – go for it – we only live one life here on earth and when you get to the end of your life path, have no regrets or wishes you did something. Just do it and enjoy it and keep pushing forward. You never know what can happen tomorrow so if you always just sacrifice today for some future point to then be happy and start living life, you may miss out on everything and accomplish nothing. I will follow my heart from this point forward and love every day and make a positive impact on others. If I am given another 50 years here or only 5, I will enjoy all of it following my passion, helping others and never working another day in my life. No one ever calls it work when they love what they do!
My husband and I decided we were both taking the leap of faith and following our hearts. We both left the corporate world for new chapters. His passion is writing, snowboarding and ski towns so he started his company to promote local businesses in ski towns called LocalFreshies.com. I’ve always loved painting, finishes, creating something new from something found, renovations, etc. so I started nluv Finish and Design Studio. But for me it is more than just upcycling, refinishing furniture or creating art from faux finishes – I wanted to create pieces that meant something to people. Personal pieces that hold memories for you, that when you look at it and enjoy using it, it floods your mind with joyful moments to share with others. I wanted pieces that could be handed down for generations and never sold at a garage sale because it held a special place in your heart. It’s not about refinishing a dresser and selling it for $1000. It’s about refinishing a dresser incorporating personal memories of yours to be on display in your space and spark a memory each time you pass by. This is my wrapit nluv technique.
Wrapit nluv is all about the boxes of our most precious mementos stuffed away in closets or lost in junk drawers. Pictures, newspaper clippings, art projects, wedding and baby announcements, magazines, passports – anything you collect and treasure that sits in a box or a file cabinet deserves to be highlighted on a piece in your home or office that you can cherish and enjoy every day! Faux finishes are so amazing today with the textures, layers and different mediums and custom coloring available. Just as you can repaint, stencil, foil, distress, modernize or crackle a piece, why not ALSO incorporate memories into the finish so you can actually see them! A one of a kind addition to your space that is functional AND memorable! I personally have boxes of photos, wedding stuff, old passports, diplomas, marathon running bibs, newspaper clippings, ski trail maps, cool beer labels… that are all forgotten about and stuffed away. What a shame! We clearly collect and save this stuff for a reason and it wasn’t to just stuff away and find the next time you move!
I can’t wait to get these boxes out and incorporate them into our home so we can enjoy and remember them and share with anyone who comes over. That is what I want to do for people. I want to create pieces with their own memories or treasured mementoes they collect so they too can enjoy them every day. Rather than sitting behind a computer, I’d rather create a little dresser for a baby’s room finished in beautiful soft colors and incorporate pictures, announcements and other special birth/pregnancy moments just for your nursery. And as they grow up, they will have a special piece with them as a part of it to hopefully keep as a family memento. Or what if you love to travel? How about a book case or shelves with all your travel moments finished into the piece so you can see them all together? You can only hang so many picture frames on the wall… The possibilities are endless and my journey is help open people’s eyes to the idea of not just decorating their homes with things they need or just like, but customizing certain pieces to invoke memories and moments special to them.