There is more than one lesson to be learned from Nina Plummer. The founder of boutique interior & lifestyle store, Ellei Home, infuses her design vision with psychological expertise and a strong sense of self.
“Our homes have the most profound impact on us when they manage to capture and reflect back to us our ideals and aspirations, serving to remind us of the life we wish to unfold within them,” she notes in one of her beautifully written and authentic posts.
The homeware collection of Ellei Home is designed to help create a feeling of calm and contentment that can free up a little more room in our minds for contemplation and a more conscious approach to life.
Nina worked as a clinical psychologist and brand strategist before a series of serendipitous events led her and her husband Craig to create the emporium of thoughtfully crafted home accessories .
Nina’s home and business are intertwined in more than one way: her living space reflects the business ethos and was designed to be highly versatile as it is used as a work studio and a backdrop for the serene styling vignettes she creates. Her home, the second floor of an old Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh, underwent serious renovation. This process took time as Nina explains, “beyond the obvious, very real and very important environmental considerations, there are also emotional benefits to cultivating a slower, more considered approach to homemaking (…) When we mindfully engage with the process of homemaking, our homes can become a monument to our ideals.”
While crafting a home might appear frivolous to some and certainly constitutes one of life’s luxuries, interior design can become an expression of our most cherished values.
I caught up with Nina to find out exactly which values she used as the foundations of Ellei Home.
ON BEING THOUGHTFUL
Nina has deeply reflected on what it means to cultivate a more thoughtful approach to all aspects of daily life. For her, slow living means taking the time to savour the small moments that give everyday life meaning and value. Being intentional and taking the time to do things with care and focus. Celebrating the daily rituals.
Creating a home and objects that enhance the ordinary has become for her the “practical manifestation” of her learning, thoughts and aspirations. “Our way of working is the antithesis of a model based on fast fashion. Everything about our store and products is intentional and thought through,” she tells me.
Storytelling is an important consideration when curating her store’s selection. Ellei Home offers pieces that come with unique stories about their maker and their process. Many of the products are made using traditional techniques handed down through generations. Others have unique elements that can only be achieved in small-scale production, making them stand apart from mass-produced items.
Much of Nina’s work involves directing the customer’s attention toward the little details that might otherwise go unnoticed, such as the time, effort and personal story that comes with each creation.
The store offers long-lasting pieces with a timeless aesthetic that is not at risk of becoming irrelevant or redundant with seasonal trends; rather, over time, they will bear the traces of usage and form a beautiful patina that tells its owner’s story.
While there are no changing seasonal ranges (with the exception of the hand-dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers below), the shop owner mindfully expands her curated collection as the store keeps growing. She tells me she is always on the lookout for items that fit her ethos and aesthetic as well as feature interesting stories. “A soulful item is one that comes with a story – whether it is a personal story of how it was found, made or obtained, or the captivating stories of traditional skills and craftsmanship that go into creating handmade items. I like when the objects that surround us are not just commodities but carriers of stories that can start conversations.”
The process is organic as Nina either collects ideas and potential products as she encounters them or she actively searches for a specific product and develops a collaboration with a small maker or artisan.
ABOUT NATURAL BEAUTY
Nina defines beauty as “anything soulful and full of life.” Her aesthetic preferences lean toward simple and unpretentious designs in soft, neutral hues that bring serenity and warmth to the lucky owner.
Ellei Home features pieces radiating quiet beauty that will add a touch of understated luxe to any interior. All products are made of natural materials such as linen, wool, ceramic and bare wood. Nina revels in aged and weathered materials that are rich in texture and character. Some handmade items present small irregularities, which make them truly unique and exude an organic feel.
When renovating her house, she chose natural elements such as wide oak boards, limewash paint and Marmorino Venetian plaster. Her pared-down decor is a mix of old and new, including some vintage Bentwood chairs, a few covetable pieces, such as the Ay Illuminate Z11 pendant and the OGK Safari Daybed, and artisan-made products as offered in her store.
“We find spaces to be beautiful when the moods they create align with our own ideas of what will lead us to a life well-lived,” she writes in one of her posts.
ABOUT KNOWING YOURSELF
The part that struck me the most from my conversation with Nina is her wisdom, and the care she takes to engage in reflective practice that leads her to a deep, intimate understanding of the Self. This mindful approach has facilitated her decision-making process: “Being entirely new to running a business certainly brought many challenges, but at the same time, it was precisely what freed me up to approach all aspects of running my business in the way that made sense to me, rather than how things were meant to be done. Over the years this has turned out to be a blessing as it has set the tone for the way everything about our store is run.”
She illustrates: “Rather than focusing on growth, we consider our business from the perspective of how the decisions we make today bring us closer to the business, and ultimately life, we wish to lead tomorrow. If a decision will lead us down a path we do not want to end up on, even where it is tempting to say yes, we will always say no. This way of working is very slow but intentional and highly rewarding.”
When I asked her which final words she wishes to leave the readers of Hapax with, she answered: “I believe that investing time and energy into cultivating our own voice as well as the courage to use it, are always worthwhile pursuits.”
Photography by Nina Plummer, courtesy of Ellei Home