At Home with Chelsea Lankford

By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza
Photo by Michele Equitz

I first discovered Chelsea Lankford nearly seven years ago. I was working in nuclear regulation in a sad, gray cubicle village, using every excuse possible to peruse design and style blogs and pretend that I was anywhere but there. I’m still not sure how I found it, but I started reading a blog called Zipped. It was run by a woman working in finance, jumping out on her lunch break to snap photos of her outfits, of her coffee breaks, and it seemed, all the moments that she too was trying to escape her day job.

The good news is that this is an escape story. I soon returned to creative work, and Chelsea Lankford took Zipped full time into what is now truelane. The blog, whose name is derived from a self-assigned moniker in her teens, is Chelsea’s platform for travel, beauty, style, and writing. It’s also been her avenue for collaborations with brands like Madewell, J.Crew, Coach, Vans, and Kate Spade New York, just to name a few. Chelsea’s work has always a great reminder to pursue relentlessly what you love.

When Chelsea isn’t traveling—her latest jaunts include Montréal, Honolulu, and Tulum—you can find her in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, which is where we caught up with her to talk about her move back the the Pacific Northwest, being a homebody, and what home comes to mean when you’re on the road as much as she is.

Photographs by Michele Equitz for House Method.

Photo by Michele Equitz

For HM readers who haven’t yet discovered truelane, what should they know about you?

I created truelane to be a portfolio of style inspiration, and almost eight years later, it’s grown into a collection of outfits, travels, and articles that have allowed me to connect with readers that have grown along with me since day one. My number-one goal is to encourage people to feel confident about being independent. I feel very lucky that running the site has become my full-time job and that I still get excited about projects that come from it.

You often work from home. How you you balance work, play, and relaxation in the same space?

Someday I would love to have a designated office, but since I live in a small apartment, my desk lives in the main living area. However, I only let myself sit at my desk when I’m working. The seating area and dining area are for play, and my bedroom is my relaxation space—I really believe in building yourself a sanctuary, so I’ve put a lot of effort into making my bed the number-one place I want to be when I’m home. I do get a little stir-crazy at times, but that’s when I pick up my work and head to a cafe or walk down the street to Lake Union when I need a break.

Photo by Michele Equitz
Photo by Michele Equitz

You also do a lot of traveling! How has that changed your idea of home?

‘Home’ and ‘bed’ have become synonymous for me. When you’re staying with friends or in hotels 40% of the time, whenever I think about being home, it’s always imagining that moment my head is back on my own pillow. I also feel like different versions of myself in different destinations, and the version of myself at home is the one I know the best. One of the moments I feel most inspired is driving home from Seattle-Tacoma airport—I always rediscover the love for my home city.

Photo by Michele Equitz
Photo by Michele Equitz

You moved back to your hometown of Seattle as an adult. Has this changed your experience of the city at all?

It’s essentially a whole new experience. I moved away from Seattle when I was just ten years old, so outside of my home/school life I don’t remember doing many local things besides visiting parks or buying new tights from the Nordstrom semi-annual sale. These days, I like to do all of the things my parents did in their twenties living in Seattle. Visiting the marinas, checking out new restaurants, sitting in coffee shops reading a book…although the development and gentrification is out of control here, there’s still a very romantic and nostalgic side of Seattle and that’s what I choose to focus on.

What do you love most about your neighborhood?

I’m right on the border between Fremont and Wallingford, north of downtown Seattle, which means I get the best of both unique, quirky neighborhoods. There are both fun and first-class restaurants within a ten-minute walk, as well as Lake Union which is one of the most incredibly beautiful spots in the city. But, after all that, my favorite thing about my neighborhood is the flowers. Every home is overflowing with garden roses, tulips, and peonies…my daily walk to stop and smell the roses is the best part of my day.

Photo by Michele Equitz
Photo by Michele Equitz

How do you approach decorating your space?

I don’t feel like I have a design style yet, so my approach is generally quite eclectic. I love the minimal vibes and lines of Scandinavian style, but I also don’t want my home to look like every other space on Instagram. I like to incorporate lots of textures as well as Southwestern elements, and I like to keep things cozy with tons of throw blankets and plush pillows. I also love to cover my walls with art—I like every piece in my home to be a conversation piece, so I tend to approach all my purchases from that perspective.

Photo by Michele Equitz

What is your favorite detail about your home?

I just put up the picture rails a few months back, and it’s become my favorite collection of art. I have set lists from favorite artists who have become friends, photos I’ve taken abroad, and things that remind me not to take life too seriously. I always feel like once something has been on the wall for long enough, you don’t notice it anymore, but I still stop and appreciate these pieces more than I thought I would.

Photo by Michele Equitz
Photo by Michele Equitz

What’s your biggest indulgence in your home?

Probably the eight different coffee makers that I own, all of which I consider absolute necessities.

Describe your perfect day at home.

I wake up around seven every morning and head straight for my espresso machine. On Sundays I read the paper with coffee and whatever little cookies I’ve picked up from Trader Joe’s, and I’ll spend a good portion of the day reading a book (I recently started Ralph Ketcham’s biography on James Madison) and doing my own writing (still working on that first novel). A new development in my life is that I love cleaning, so I’ll scrub the bathroom from top to bottom or sweep and vacuum or dust which I literally count as physical activity for the day. Five o’clock is wine o’clock, so I’ll open a bottle of rose and snack on cheese and crackers while I cook dinner before tucking in for a night of Netflix. I am a huge homebody, and it isn’t always exciting, but I’ve become quite comfortable with letting myself do exactly what I want to do. Life is too short to apologize for staying in.

What does home mean to you?

Home is where I can have the best cup of coffee, my family, endless greenery, and the ocean all in one place. Home will always be the Pacific Northwest.

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