Chelsea Meissner at Home
my recent photoshoot + a chat
with Chelsea Meissner
& her inspiring interior designer & close friend, Kim Spradlin Wolfe
I like to say that this photoshoot was a collision of my professional life, and my secret reality TV life. It’s actually not a secret at all, I just love how dramatic that sounds.
My friends and family know I’ve been a Bravo fan for years (RHONY, Watch What Happens Live + Southern Charm to get real specific), and if you’re familiar my photography you may also know that I am all about working with women, which means it was the ultimate recipe for excitement when Kim Spraldin Wolfe reached out to see if I was available to do the first photoshoot of Chelsea Meissner’s beautifully renovated home. I knew who Chelsea was from watching Southern Charm over the seasons past, which felt extra bizarre when I met her in real life. Reality TV has a way of doing that, right? You’re catapulted into a curated-for-television segment of someone’s life who you don’t know at all, but suddenly watching snippets of them on a TV show makes you feel like you actually do know them. Well, I’m happy to report that if you’re a big Chelsea fan from afar, she was so warm, so welcoming, and has the exact easy going chill girl vibe that you see on the show.
As I stepped into her house, I saw immediately that the vibe she exudes completely translated to her home, which is equal parts relaxed, chic, curated, and approachable. Her kitchen had me feeling like I was transported to a California juice bar, while the sunken living room was the perfect place to hang and eat an entire bowl of gummy bears. I’ve seen a lot of boho-style spaces that end up claustrophobic, or needlessly cluttered, and this was neither. Nothing about is fussy, while pops of color, print, and texture create a completely calm sensory experience as you step inside. That easy breezy bohemian feeling pairs perfectly with the minimal vibe and thoughtful details. Kim is the designer behind this recently renovated abode, (you may recognize from Survivor Season 24, she won!) and a close friend of Chelsea’s. There’s a clear conversation between the two of them throughout the house, which was immediately noticeable as I was capturing the space.
Now that we’ve renovated our own house, I find myself getting extra inspired and excited to see what other people have done to make old and outdated spaces come alive again. As soon I got to experience this gorgeous house up close and personal, I was anxious to ask them so many questions about the process. Keep reading below to hear how they met, the creative process, and working to make Chelsea’s home the beautifully curated bungalow that it is.
You guys are seriously #friendgoals and have such an interesting backstory! Can you tell me how you met, and why you hit it off immediately?
Chelsea: We met on Survivor 7 years ago while we were both contestants. She had great hair and killer jewelry so she seemed alright in my book. All kidding aside, we had very easy, comfortable conversation from the beginning. It felt like we had already know each other for years.
Kim: When we got dropped on the island (Survivor, Season 24 “ One World”) almost 7 years ago, sheesh, the connection with Chelsea was immediate. Chelsea has a sincerity and authenticity that is transcendent, innocent almost. It was very easy for me to trust her, there was a familiarity between us, and she’s funny as hell. You’ve gotta find someone to laugh with out there, or you’ll cry. Our friendship didn’t skip a beat after the show, and we’ve never gone long without a visit. I’ve loved this project as an excuse to see her more.
Kim, after seeing what you’ve done here in Chelsea’s home I was so surprised to hear that interior design is relatively new for you. What inspired you to head down this path?
Kim: It’s always been a passion, but I wrote it off since I didn’t have a design degree. I was co-hosting a local TV show after survivor, and it had run its course for me. My husband really encouraged me to step out there and give it a shot.
My main goal while envisioning how Chelsea’s house would feel with that it would be a reflection of her.
Extremely cool, laid-back, a bit edgy, yet beautiful.
Chelsea, how did you know after searching that *this* was your house?
Chelsea: When I first pulled into the driveway and saw the massive oak trees draped in Spanish moss, I was sold. I could tell the house had good bones.. It just needed a little facelift (so I thought).
Where did the conversation begin about undertaking this massive renovation project together? Was it the plan from the very beginning?
Kim: Maybe somewhat as a joke? I don’t think either one of us really had envisioned being this big of a project or commitment just sort of happened! Once we got rolling you couldn’t stop the momentum if you wanted to!
The wallpaper in my bedroom was a huge decision... one you can’t really turn back on once it’s been hung. We went for it and it’s now my favorite room in the entire house.
Chelsea, what was it like collaborating with an interior designer who’s also one of your closest friends?
Chelsea: It made it much easier because she already knew me and my style so well. Also, anytime we ever felt overwhelmed or stressed we always found a way to make each other laugh. Humor got us through many obstacles… even on Survivor.
There’s a noticeable conversation happening between you two in this home. You can see the collaborative effort, but also that Kim really knows you Chelsea. Were you surprised by any of the choices you made together? Did anything that Kim picked out surprise you?
Chelsea: Because I’ve been to Kim’s home and seen her work, I had all the trust in the world in her talents. I can’t think of one thing we disagreed on. The wallpaper in my bedroom was a huge decision.. one you can’t really turn back on once it’s been hung. We went for it and it’s now my favorite room in the entire house.
Kim: We often discussed the balance between masculine and feminine as the layers of the house came together. Neither one of us thinks of ourselves as a “girly girl” so I think we intentionally had to add in some feminine touches! Chelsea and her boyfriend picked out the large really incredible vibrant art in the entryway that’s of shipping containers ( reword Chelsea:)) I hadn’t even seen it until late in the process, it was amazing how well it went with the rugs and art we had already selected for the house! I was impressed that she had made such a big purchase without even consulting me!
towards the end, as things were really coming together, I could see that she was almost surprised with how well her selections had turned out! It gave her a lot of confidence to see it become a reality.
I think that’s a confidence she’ll carry in similar situations from now on.
This is one of the most welcoming homes I’ve ever been in. It’s so chic, vibrant, and incredibly inviting.
Did you have that in mind during the renovation process?
Kim: My main goal while envisioning how Chelsea‘s house would feel with that it would be a reflection of her. Extremely cool, laid-back, a bit edgy, yet beautiful. And of course inviting. So yes, I guess my answer is yes.
Chelsea: My biggest fear was that my house would feel like a show room and would make people nervous to relax and prop their feet up. I wanted the house to have character but also feel cozy and inviting. I think Kim nailed it in every room.
I’m sure to some degree this was a learning experience for you both, having never worked together in this way. What was your favorite moment during the process?
Kim: This is a really easy question for me to answer. I think anyone who knows Chelsea knows that she has incredible taste. You can see it in the way she dresses and carries herself, it’s totally effortless. There were times throughout the process of the renovation where I felt like she really was doubting herself. It was like she wasn’t trusting that what she chose or picked out was going to look great... or wouldn’t be good enough. Then towards the end, as things were really coming together, I could see that she was almost surprised with how well her selections had turned out! It gave her a lot of confidence to see it become a reality. I think that’s a confidence she’ll carry in similar situations from now on.
Chelsea: My favorite moment was when Kim and her sister, Beth came to help with final touches for our photoshoot. There were so many “holy shit, we did this!” moments. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more empowered, not only by my new home, but by the women surrounding me.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more empowered, not only by my new home, but by the women surrounding me.
thank you kim + chelsea!