Home Decor

At Home with The Makerista

A one-of-a-kind dining room shows off Gwen Hefner’s original style, which has fans flocking to her blog, The Makerista.

Photos by Justin Salem Meyer Photography

For almost a year, readers followed along as Gwen Hefner made over her dining room. Hefner, better known online as The Makerista, the title of her popular home and lifestyle blog, realized immediately that the room in her family’s new Blue Springs home had potential, but getting the look she wanted was a process, she admits.

Not too long ago, tackling the project would have been daunting.

“I had always had a love for fashion, and putting together an outfit for me has never been something that’s been difficult, but to translate that idea into a space was really kind of paralyzing for me,” Hefner says.

With help from her mother-in-law and design blogs, she began to find her personal style and started a website of her own. Initially intended to highlight DIY projects, many revolving around her kids, Makerista readers caught glimpses of Hefner’s home and asked to see more, leading to a focus on decor and design.

As she explains it, her aesthetic is about taking traditional elements and enlivening them with bold color and pops of modernism, and many of her home’s unique pieces are the result of thrifting. “I love the hunt, she says. “I love the searching.”

It also allows her individuality to shine through. “Any time I can have a one-of-a-kind thing over something that everybody else has, I’ve always, since I can remember, been about that,” Hefner adds. “If everybody else has it, I’m not interested in it.”

Her dining room reflects her penchant for the unique. Visitors see it as soon as they walk through the front door, so Hefner wanted the space to make a statement. She started by replacing existing molding with fresh molding better suited to the room. Then she found a star piece in an image of the Aosta Valley in Italy, where she and her husband honeymooned, transformed into a mural with help from Walls Republic.

Hefner decided to paint the room black so the mural would stand out, both walls and ceiling, “which my husband was not for at all,” she laughs. “That took a lot of convincing.”

The room’s contents helped give it shape: the table, a housewarming gift from her in-laws discovered in the West Bottoms; a color-saturated rug expertly spotted on Craigslist, and a chandelier Hefner bought when the family had plans to build rather than buy a home that turned out to be a perfect fit.

Looking at the finished product, it’s no wonder why fans flock to her blog; the mix of unique pieces, such as the buffet custom-made by Blue Springs-based Double C Industries and thrifted end chairs snagged for $12, then recovered in an unexpected leopard print, stand out in a field of more traditional design.

But beyond providing home inspiration, Hefner hopes The Makerista offers readers a realistic idea of what goes into creating a picture-perfect look.

“It takes a long time to make a space feel really personal and really work together,” Hefner says.

That’s why she encourages people to take their time and take risks when trying to create their dream space.

“That’s a huge part of why I did this, because I want to inspire other people to think about doing something a little differently,” Hefner explains. “Not everybody’s house has to be beige. It’s OK to use some color. It’s OK to bring more personal items into your home. Really, it’s going to make you enjoy being there so much more. I think people are just afraid to step outside of that typical box.”

Paint is an relatively easy way to experiment, she says, adding “You can’t be afraid to try. If I look back, I made a lot of mistakes … but it’s that process that grows you and gets you to the point where you’re really satisfied with where you’re living.”