At Home With: Lou Archell, Littlegreenshed
We’re marking Mother’s Day by chatting to mother and professional photographer, stylist and blogger, Lou Archell. Followers of Lou on Instagram or her blog will know her from the handle, Littlegreenshed, from which she extols the virtues of slow living, interior style, wellness, and being kind to the planet, through beautiful images and bold words.
Like many multitasking women this past year, Lou has been juggling homeschooling with a growing professional portfolio, so we thought we would ask her how she does it, and what’s been inspiring her through the chaos.
For those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you first entered the world of interiors and online content creation.
I’m Lou Archell, a lifestyle blogger and content creator from Bristol, UK. My social media handle is Littlegreenshed, which stems from wanting a slower way of living. My love for interiors grew from an early age, when I would ask for furniture for my birthday – looking back, asking for a cane chair for my bedroom isn’t what most 14-year olds ask for. I still have that chair!
I started my blog, Littlegreenshed, when my two boys were very young, four and two. I felt I needed a creative outlet, and so started my blog in the evenings. Our home was very much in the renovation stage then, so I shared images of houses I liked, writing home tours, sharing products I loved, makers stories and so on. People seemed to love what I wrote, and my readership grew.
In the early days, Littlegreenshed was a hobby, I had no idea that this would become my full time job, but thankfully I persevered and it is my career.
You were championing slow living long before the pandemic forced many more of us to adopt the lifestyle. How and why did that become your way of life?
I grew up in rural Somerset, living in a tiny village community in my early years I learnt a lot from the countryside. As an adult, I think many of us lose that connection with mother nature, in our day to day busy lives. So when I had my two boys I wanted them to feel connected to the earth, to notice the changing of the seasons, taking pleasure in small acts and so on. It is not something we can automatically start doing, ‘slow living’ is an ongoing practice and something I need to remind myself of daily.
It seems ironic that as someone with young children, homeschooling and working from home means ‘slow’ isn’t a word I would use to describe your current situation. Has life got busier for you during lockdown and how do you reconcile slowness with a fast paced workload?
Yes life recently has become more crowded, four people at home all the time isn’t the best place for creating a slow and nurtured environment. Living with two teens has its moments! Thank goodness for bedrooms to retreat to. Lockdown has brought a lot of pressures on all of us, but managing expectations is the only way I think we have got through it.
I introduced small rituals right from the beginning of lockdown last year. Like lighting a candle at dinner time, to regular card games in the garden, to eating breakfast together. Small acts which ground us in the chaos. If we have been fed, and exercised and done a small amount of work – I call that a win!
You’ve been part of the blogging and social media world for over ten years now. In a digital age where everyone is trying to be heard, how did you establish your online presence and how much has changed over the years?
Starting my blog in 2010 I was definitely ahead of the wave of social influencers. Back then I could recall all the people who were writing about interiors and lifestyle, and there weren’t that many of us.
But since Instagram took off and anyone who has renovated their home and shared it has become an influencer. There are thousands and thousands of influencers who regularly share and work with brands, and it is incredible to see just how the industry has changed. Back in 2010 brands didn’t work with us, now Social Influencer Marketing is a huge business.
Starting up now I think it is definitely harder to be heard above all the other established influencers, but my advice is to stay true to who you are and the message you are wanting to convey. It’s very easy to do what everyone else is doing. Don’t get caught up in the fads. I’m looking at you – Reels of people jumping in and out of clothes!
You make a point of sharing knowledge and resources to inspire and encourage others. Do you think being a mother and women makes you more inclined to help others on their journey?
I think it is important to share your knowledge. Helping another woman get on the ladder is only a good thing, and I want to offer my hand. I don’t know if being a mother has made me want to do this, I think as a woman I definitely have always done it. I founded Sisterhood Camp (2015 – 2019) – a series of retreats and suppers for women to come together to share skills and experiences. It was a passion project, and took a lot out of me physically and emotionally so after a few years of creating the retreats I decided to step back – but I do cherish those years of creating such a caring and creative space for women to share their skills. Maybe one day I’ll start it again, when the timing is right for me.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
How does being a mother influence your work?
I’ve not thought about this before, I didn’t think it did. But actually, I suppose it does. I wouldn’t have started Littlegreenshed without having my boys, I wouldn’t have needed that creative outlet from being a mum. Now they are older, I love to write about our adventures and experiences, travelling, getting out into nature. I suppose there is an element of ‘do it for the gram’ sometimes – I am glad they know it’s my job and are happy to indulge me.
We know from the ‘gram that your home is beautiful, but how would you describe your interior style? What do you love most about it?
Ah thank you, it’s definitely a labour of love. We’ve lived in this house for 15 years, and it’s in a continual flux of renovation and redecoration much to my husbands discontent! Most people move home once the house is ‘done’ or no longer fits their growing family. We decided to stay as we love our neighbourhood and where we live. So in order it fits us, we continually change it up. My style evolves over the years, I think I am influenced by Scandi design, more so since visiting Stockholm Design Week a few years ago. I am also drawn to Californian laid back style, and a lived in pared back aesthetic, well, it is something I aim for – not always achieving. What I love most about my home is it is a reflection of us… a bit of everything really, and not precious.
You are the proud owner of two Tala table lamps. How do you view light as a styling feature when you start a new project?
I certainly am, and I love them both. I read somewhere that a room should have seven sources of light to make it feel right. Seven! I don’t think I’ve ever achieved that many, but when I look at designing a space, I do now add in more layers of lighting. I actually count the window as one of the seven, as it offers the most light during the day.
I’m not a fan of the ‘big light’ being on, it’s too much light, but instead I use a variety of wall, table and floor lamps to create an overall light effect. So much cosier that one big light on overhead. I also love to mix up design influences, modern design-led lighting like Tala, with up-cycled vintage lighting sourced from antiques shops. It’s all about layers and interest.
You cover an array of subjects on your website. What’s your favourite topic to blog about?
Interiors, oh and travel – I can’t choose between them. But they do cross over. I love to write about the interiors of a gorgeous boutique hotel or Airbnb. Those are my two passions, interior design and travel.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
I’ve had to push myself on many occasions when I’ve felt like hiding. One memorable occasion was walking the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival – my goodness my whole being was shouting NO! But I felt the fear and did it anyway. Good things come from overcoming your fear and stepping outside your comfort zone. Even if your feet hurt in heels.