Creating a home that inspires you doesn’t require throwing all of your money at designer furniture. We sat down with Paula Pavlova, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur, whose distinctive, stylish decor is primarily from flea markets. She shares how to nav. home decor and feel right at home.
- Easy to get
- No charger
- Left handed use only
- Supports only Apple products
- Low storage
San Francisco is brimming with yoga teachers and entrepreneurs. To be honest, I’m often intimidated by both. Their passion, intensity, spirituality, and physical capabilities are inspiring but can feel inaccessible and leave me wondering, “What the heck am I doing with my life?”
But after meeting Paula Pavlova, a yoga instructor and company founder, I found myself energized and totally at ease. She speaks with the intent and wisdom of someone much older than her age, but her carefree, down-to-earth demeanor makes you want to grab a glass of wine and watch Netflix with her.
I sat down with Paula (plus her adorable pets Diplo and Ogedei) in her apartment to hear about her budding business, move to San Francisco, and her unique design aesthetic. Every item in Paula’s home is very personal—from a thrift store trumpet lamp to a kitchen table with a 60-year-old inscription. Turns out, Paula’s space is very much like her: deeply emotional with an approachable and comfortable vibe. Plus, when she told us she relies on thrifting and sale stalking, we knew we had met a woman after our own financially savvy heart.
Here’s how you can do the same, that is: create a space that’s 100 percent you—full of items and energy that makes you feel like your best self—without breaking the bank.
Thank you for inviting us into your home. First, tell us about yourself.
I moved to San Francisco in July, so I’ve only been here a few months. I came here to continue growing my company GAIA Collective, a community of healers, yoga teachers, artists and makers who come together through various events, workshops and moon circles.
We feature the products this community creates in MoonBox, a subscription-based box that comes to your door. It includes educational information about the moon phases, and why they are important. There are also products like tea, essential oils, and crystals to support our customers’ daily lives during the moon phases.
Moving across the country to start a company is huge and a big risk.
Starting your own company is a risk, for sure. I’ve borrowed money from my family who continues to be supportive. My dad, who passed away, was an entrepreneur himself. He encouraged all of his children to pursue their passions and follow their dreams. After all, life is short—my dad’s death taught me this. Do what you love.
What was it like moving in and getting settled in San Francisco?
Many of the items in my home I’ve had for a long time. They’ve traveled with me across the country. But I did buy my bed once I moved in. You spend so many hours of your life sleeping. A bed is an important investment for any home. I also wanted a new bed—my last one didn’t have great karma from my previous relationship. It symbolizes my new, independent life in San Francisco. It’s also my first time living on my own. In many ways, my bed is my throne.
How would you describe your home aesthetic?
I describe my home as cozy. I like it to feel a little cluttered so it feels lived in. It can’t be pristine. I have little organized piles everywhere—books by my meditation cushion, for example. There are notebooks everywhere in case I think of something and need to write it down. I want my home to serve the present moment, which is where I try to live my life. I call it “cozy functionality.”
What are your tips for creating a space you love on a budget?
Don’t buy anything at full price. There’s always a way to find a coupon— use Google to search for them. Wayfair and Overstock are also great for furniture or home decor. For example, I got my curtains for 70 percent off from Wayfair. I only shop on websites that have a sale menu and don’t even look at the full-price options.
I also recommend visiting thrift stores. I got my mirror for $20 at a Texas thrift store. My trumpet lamp and orange couch, too. When thrifting, make sure you carve out a whole day and don’t pick anything out immediately. Look around the entire store then go back for the items you really want. Ask yourself, “What stood out to me the most?”
My biggest piece of advice is to not rush. When I went to look at an apartment, the current tenant had this amazing kitchen table. I didn’t leave with a lease, but rather with a new table for $70. On the underside of the table, there’s a carved inscription from the carpenter from 1954. It says he made the table for his friend. I found an item embedded with deep meaning and history by complete chance that also happened to be very budget-friendly.
Consciously collect what you want by being present, patient, and open. Even if you have to wait a little longer, you’re going to find the right piece. Let your home slowly and naturally accumulate, just as you slowly and naturally grow as a person.
What are some of your favorite items in your apartment?
My crystal collection is very important to me. When I was in college, I got a terrible episode of endometriosis. My friend laid carnelian crystals all over my body. I felt a wave of relaxation come over me—like I could finally separate myself from the pain.
I started to read more about crystals and collect them. I place selenite by the television because it helps reduce radiation. Rose quartz symbolizes love, so I place these crystals by photos of my dad. Amethyst is said to be protective, so I put it on my bedside table. I used to suffer from really horrible nightmares, but I don’t anymore.
How does your home inspire you?
Whenever I’m writing, I will move from the yoga mat, to the meditation cushion, to the couch. I move through my items and hold my crystals until something comes to me. Living and touching the things that represent me allows my light to shine and creative juices to flow. In other words, I try to receive energy through my belongings.
My home keeps me focused on what really matters to me. It boils down to having things around me that bring a sense of joy and appreciation for what I have in my life—family, friends, the Earth. It’s not just “stuff.” It all provides some kind of sentimentality or inspiration.
What advice would you give to others trying to create a home that inspires them?
It’s important for your home and the decor within to evoke a positive emotional response. Environments and material items can impact how you feel on the inside. My kitchen table makes me so happy because there’s a beautiful story behind it and I got it for a low amount of money. When I look at it and tell people about it, I feel so good.