How Two College Roommates Started a Successful Interior Design Agency in Laguna Beach

Home Inspired

“Your home is you. A reflection of who you are, what you love, and the world you want to create for your family. Your home is where your stories are made, where your stories are told. It should be your sanctuary for all of life’s moments, both ordinary and legendary, filled with expressive elements, calming […]

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“Your home is you. A reflection of who you are, what you love, and the world you want to create for your family. Your home is where your stories are made, where your stories are told. It should be your sanctuary for all of life’s moments, both ordinary and legendary, filled with expressive elements, calming vibes and undeniable character.”

This is the philosophy of Pure Salt Interiors, founded by college roommates, Aly Morford and Leigh Lincoln—the two boss babes we have the pleasure of hosting on the blog today. Along with their recently shot #vistaverdeproject, captured by Vanessa Lentine, Leigh and Aly are giving us a peek into their 3-phase design process, explaining why a Jalapeño Margarita describes their design style, two valuable lessons they’ve learned as biz owners and so much more.

Interior Design: Pure Salt Interiors | Photography: Vanessa Lentine

Tell us a bit about your background, how you came to love interior design, and how Pure Salt Interiors came to life?

We’ve been best friends for 20+ years, ever since fate brought us together when we were assigned roommates in our Freshman year of college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. We’ve always had an eye for design and a pipe dream of starting a business together. For many years, life and our careers took us in different directions; but 3 years ago, while Leigh was living in SoCal and Aly was living in Saudi Arabia (whole other story, there!), we decided to dive into interior design and spent months dreaming up our vision for Pure Salt via video chat from opposite sides of the world.

Having come from floral design and corporate marketing backgrounds, we’ve always found ways to have creative outlets in our careers. However, it wasn’t until 3 years ago when we started Pure Salt that we’ve been able to really put all of our creative energy into this labor of love. Not every day is as pretty and perfect as it may seem, but it’s been an absolute whirlwind and life-changing experience to build something we’re so passionate about from the ground up!

If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail, what would it be?

Jalapeño Margarita – earthy, yet simple & refreshing with a little bit of flair… much like what we strive for in design!

In a nutshell, what does your typical design process look like? What are your favorite and not-so-fave steps along the way?

We’ve put a lot of emphasis on establishing clear processes for how we work in order to eliminate confusion and uncertainty with our clients. Designing a home can be a very overwhelming process, and we’re here to take the guesswork out of it and make our clients feel informed and at-ease every step of the way. We break our projects out into three phases of work in order to accomplish that:

PHASE 1 – Design Concepts: the focus here is on getting collectively aligned on an approved design direction.

PHASE 2 – Materials Selection & Purchasing: after getting approval on a design direction, we turn our attention to selecting all materials and purchasing all furnishing & decorative elements in order to prepare for install!

PHASE 3 – Construction & Install: after all design specs are approved and everything is purchased, we begin preparing for the final install. Our team covers every bit of detail involved in install prep, so that when the time comes, we’ll complete the final install all at once to allow for an exciting grand reveal!

The most challenging part of design tends to be when our clients want to rush the process and receive instant gratification. When that happens, the integrity of the design suffers and it becomes difficult to exceed expectations. Great design takes time, and every detail needs to be thoroughly thought through!

In addition to being kickass boss babes, you’re also both mamas! Any tips for juggling work and family life?

This has been huge for us! As much as we love putting every bit of passion and energy that we can into Pure Salt, we also set clear boundaries between work time and family time. We’re lucky to have an amazing team working for us that helps us achieve that work-life balance, and are grateful that being business owners allows us to set our own schedule and priorities.

What is the most fulfilling part of what you do?

We love seeing our clients’ reactions when the final install is complete. Your home should be a reflection of who you are, what you love, and the memories you want to create for your family. Everything we do is designed with that mantra in mind – just infused with our Pure Salt touch.

What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as business owners?

1) It’s okay not to have all the answers. But when you don’t, it’s important to be willing to ask questions and work closely with your team of partners and experts in the field to find the solution.

2) Transparent, clear and constant communication is the key to growing a strong and successful business, especially when you have a partner that’s your best friend. Be okay with knowing what you’re good at and can bring to the table, and with learning to lean into each others’ strengths in areas where you need it.

What is your best advice for growing an engaged community on Instagram?

Consistency & authenticity! We not only strive to give our followers a taste of who Pure Salt is as a company and a design firm, but also a look behind the curtains into who we are as a team and as people! Being our authentic selves has helped us grow a very engaged community of followers who love our work, and love to get real-time updates on what we’re up to! We’ve found that it’s important to listen to our community and try to give them the content that’s most inspiring and helps them elevate their own home design, even if they can’t work with us.

What design elements are you looking forward to incorporating in your projects this year?

Since we’re still a growing brand, we’re excited to continue pushing to create simple, clean, functional and inherently relaxed coastal spaces with our clients. It’s what our followers and clients love most about what we do, and we’re not looking to change that just yet! It’s no secret that we love infusing natural design elements and textures into our projects. Also, we always strive to source and integrate one-of-a-kind items into our designs and on our shoppe.

If you could sit next to any other boss babe in the world on flight across the country, who would it be and why?

Joanna Gaines – not only are we huge fans of what she’s done in the design world, but what we love most about her is that she puts family first and stays true to her values, despite her huge success. As business owners, we really respect that emphasis on work-life balance, while still absolutely killing the design game!

What does a beautiful home mean to you and what is your number one tip for crafting a space you’ll love for years to come?

A beautiful home means something different to everyone, but to us, it’s all about designing a space that you’ll love to spend time in with those you care about for years to come. The number one tip we give to clients and friends is to clear away the clutter (hey, Marie!). From there, you can find ways to easily and affordably elevate the space by adding in natural elements and textures that will bring it to life.

What are some of your favorite local SoCal shops for home decor?

Our go-tos include anything from weekly trips to local flea markets to source one-of-a-kind items, to local shops like Juxtaposition that also have a great range of unique and interesting items. If we’re looking to find great decor on a budget, we’re not afraid to venture our local Target. So much cute stuff that we use in our designs all the time!

Instagram account(s) you’re currently crushing on:

@devolkitchens @jerseyicecreamco

Current favorite book and/or podcast:

Whiskey & Work by our dear friend Kelsey Murphy

3 apps you can’t live without:

Instagram, Spotify, Starbucks

Favorite beats usually playing in the studio:

Songs to Sing In The Shower Playlist // Spotify

Interior Design: Pure Salt Interiors | Photography: Vanessa Lentine

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