I know that sometimes it can be difficult to make a choice when it comes to art, which is why I love featuring tours of people's homes to help inspire you. Just in time for our Animal flash sale (25% off all animal prints) I'm so excited to have Christen, of Christen Joy, an interior design based firm on the blog today showing us how she styled colorful and animal filled art from Gray Malin at The View on University, which is an apartment building close to campus located in Fargo, North Dakota. I'm gonna let Christen take it from here…
Please tell us a little about yourself - where you live, what you like to do for fun, ect.
I'm Christen of[ Christen Joy](http://www.instagram.com/livechristenjoy), an interior design firm-based in Moorhead, Minnesota. For fun – I'm still wearing my design hat as I'm in the process of building ‘The Dutch' which is a Dutch Colonial style home that will be the new Christen Joy Headquarters – studio, warehouse, showroom – and also my home. I've been eager to bring a unique style to the midwest and have loved hearing the initial reactions. When I'm not tossing samples around – I'm out with London, my bullmastiff, walking a trail or through our home to see the progress that is made.
Your career is pretty multi-faceted, could you tell us a little bit about what all you do?
Christen Joy specializes in boutique commercial projects and residential properties, both new and existing. Our boutique commercial projects are selected based on the opportunity to create a unique experience for those that will be within the space – think people that will live, entertain in a space (multi-family complexes), patients (think orthodontist or medi-spas). Clients that allow us to play with creativity, color, style or off the cuff ideas – those are the clients that fall into that category! We also have a number of residential projects. We have a passion for working with clients on new builds – guiding them through the architectural phase, selections to furnishings. It's a long and exciting process and you get to build not only a home, but a relationship with your clients which allows them to say ‘you got this – you know me!' which I couldn't love more. Lastly, we have our existing home projects which we tackle big to small spaces – remodels to furniture – we roll up our sleeves to support our client's design needs how we can. All projects have one thing in common – we love our clients.
Will you tell us a little bit about your design choices? (why you picked certain prints for certain rooms in this building)
The lobby and soft seating area has the [You're Always Welcome at The Parker ](https://www.graymalin.com/photography/youre-always-welcome-at-the-parker)which I selected as it's the entryway so it's a nod to ‘welcome'. But it also sets the stage for the experience you're about to have. The spaces are high impact, unexpected and fun – just like the elephant, orange door and balloons. Welcome to a great experience.
The [Two Llamas with Color Balloons](https://www.graymalin.com/photography/two-llamas-with-color-balloons) was a perfect balance to the lapped mini lounge and the perfect amount of ‘wait, what?!' – it makes you scratch your head while smiling.
The [Garden Party at The Parker](https://www.graymalin.com/photography/garden-party-at-the-parker) is meant for a statement wall – this piece has ‘come'n at ya ' written all over it. I loved the intensity and knew I would be able to find a tile
that could be the perfect backdrop for it. I went with a beveled tile that moves with the sunlight and compliments this welcomed force of artwork.
This, I couldn't help but giggle as I designed it. I added [Set Point](https://www.graymalin.com/photography/set-point) over the shuffleboard but it's a view you see over the ping pong table. It's a subtle ‘see what I did there' and I couldn't love it more.
These pieces were a perfect, like[ Tennis Lesson](https://www.graymalin.com/photography/tennis-lesson) for ‘The Court'. The Court is the exercise room where I designed the space around a tennis theme. The start of this concept came when I thought about using tennis balls as an art installation – a full wall. With over 5,000 tennis balls this wall was slowly brought together.
In the Mini Lounges (see my [portfolio](https://www.livechristenjoy.com/portfolio/the-mini-lounges-the-view-on-%20university/) for context) I designed around mixing in pieces that would create an ambiance around emotion that was fun, light-hearted, relaxed and soothing. These are spaces that are used by those that live there so I wanted the spaces to feel like a retreat.
Did including Gray Malin artwork change your vision?
Gray's pieces were core to my initial concepts as the North Star I created was about living in a space that was designed to live your best life. Gray's pieces have an undeniable impact in a space in an approachable way – all while being a piece you could want to ‘study' which lends to an emotion bubbling over you of joy. I love the impact his work has on people, and I wanted to layer that into my designs – knowing I could create foundations that would be the perfect backdrops and surround the pieces that would complement effortlessly.
How did you go about decorating this apartment building and how did it differ from the decor in your other projects?
The clients were great in giving me creative freedom on the project and agreed on bringing something different to the Fargo Moorhead market. That being an elevated space that had true personality – stepping out of the everyday common area spaces. Creating spaces that would have photos taken of and in and talked about it. In these spaces I was cognizant of wear and tear with it being commercial common area spaces. With this in mind I selected high performance fabrics and durable materials. However, this didn't mean we had to be a bore on selections. I designed the spaces based on the unique intent of each space – but ensured that each felt intentionally designed and well thought through. I blended indoor outdoor materials inside and outside allowing pillows to soft rattans and wickers. I integrated color unapologetically to create spaces that would ooze life, joy and welcome guests into the space with meant to balance out commercial grade and more neutral elements such as flooring, laminates, wall application – shiplap and more. This doesn't differ much from other CJ designs as we always aim to have a balance of function within the designs while achieving a room that is perfect for the client.
When were you first introduced to the GM brand? What was the first piece that caught your attention?
I fell in love with Gray's work spending over four weeks in Portugal one summer. I was there as an intern but was able to enjoy the beaches in my free time and I took photos of all the colorful umbrellas. One day I came across one of Gray's pieces and it immediately brought me back to the sunny days with my camera – feeling inspired, free and excited! The world truly felt like my oyster and I personally feel that way when graced with his work – it's a treat and so is life – enjoy it!
Do you have any hot tips or tricks for decor in 2022?
Layers and layers of timeless and unexpected selections. While I would argue to say it doesn't mean, more or is more, it means that you enjoy the ability to design your home or work space in layers that complement each other and add interest. Don't be afraid to play with color, texture and pattern in one space – layer in a
great wallpaper with a velvet sofa and rattan accent chairs. Enjoy color and feel free to use the colors you love. Layer in all of these suggestions with the nod of selecting timeless pieces that you'll have for a lifetime (or some time) (think a marble table, vintage rug, antique finds) and play with riskier pieces in items that can be refreshed in the future – think reupholster, new wallpaper, paint!
Christen, thank you again so much for welcoming us into your latest project and sharing your story! I love how fun and playful the apartment rooms are, and I know the residents will smile when they see the playful touches you added. Be sure to take advantage of our animal flash sale happening now to bring color and joyful moments into your home just like Christen's design.