Faces of home / Erin Roberts
She loves high-impact kitchen accessories
Photos by Stephen Gabris
As a touring musician, Erin Roberts first delved into screenprinting with her rocker husband as a way to earn money to keep pursuing music together. They produced band tees out of their house, but, along the way, screenprinting became her new passion. After becoming a mother, she ended her recording contract, left the road, and took their business to a new level.
Roberts has long been a fan of housewares, from tea towels to measuring cups, wooden spoons to mugs. It’s only natural, then, that her screenprinting business morphed into a line of handcrafted kitchen accessories called Kitch Studios. The second floor of their Amherst cape serves as her full-time workspace; on one side, she designs and prints the items, and, on the other, she stores inventory and packages orders for shipment worldwide via Etsy. (She also sells through wholesale accounts with retailers nationwide and at local shops like Fern + Arrow on Elmwood Avenue and Painted House, which moved to Williamsville this summer.)
Both at home and in her product line, Roberts describes her design style as IKEA meets Joanna Gaines’ (of Fixer Upper fame) Magnolia, incorporating the clean lines of contemporary design with warm colors, natural fabrics, and wood tones that make the space or item feel homey. This past summer, she was in the midst of a full-scale kitchen renovation, while also experimenting with printing on ceramic trays, mugs, and plates to expand Kitch Studios’ product line.
How is your kitchen remodel going?
We actually just bought our cabinets today, so today it’s going really well. But yesterday, I was on fire about it—it’s just a gut-wrenching process. We have a very tiny home, a little 1949 cape. As touring musicians, we were lucky to have this house, and, at some point, our daughter just got entrenched in the school system, and we decided to stay here. We’ve been renovating a little at a time, but really modestly. This is our biggest full-sweep-in-one-shot renovation. So, yesterday, I was on fire about it; I was like, “Just leave it as is; we’ll leave it with raw walls.”
What’s your ultimate vision for the kitchen?
I love a bright, white kitchen. I just want it to be light and bright, and we’ll use a butcher block for the countertops to keep some natural [elements] in it. I found the best—I got shivers just now—white, broken chevron pattern tile for the backsplash.
Your business was inspired by your love for home and kitchen accessories. What is it about that niche that appeals to you?
People just have weird collections, and [for me], there’s something about kitchenware. It doesn’t matter how much of it I have—if I go into a store where there’s a new set of enamel measuring cups, it doesn’t matter if I have ten at home, I need it. There’s something about kitchen accessories I just love. It’s visceral. So I thought it would be a cool way to incorporate what I was able to do, which was screenprinting and working with textiles, into something that’s not a huge purchase for people, like napkins, dish towels, and table runners. Those are easy pieces to swap out and change depending on the season and your mood.
Making those swaps can really change the feel of your space, too.
Definitely. I’m a neutral-loving fool. Grays, charcoals, and blacks are my favorite. But when you use a really strong color—especially in a kitchen, like the one we’re trying to create, with a warm, neutral palette—that’s powerful. It changes the whole vibe of the room.
With limited space, how do you pick the right accessories to have that impact?
I’m an editing freak. When I get new stuff and put it into its space—bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, it doesn’t matter—I will literally walk back in to look at it eight million times. My husband will talk to me and I’m somewhere else in my head, switching things around. It’s just a matter of editing and being open to trying something in a completely different direction.
Does that help you keep things from getting too cluttered?
I hate clutter; my house is too small for clutter. If I haven’t touched something in a year, it has to go. With the exception of kitchen [accessories], if I don’t need it, I try not to buy it. And, once in a while, I go through and clear, clear, clear, so it feels fresh.
What is your advice for readers on accessorizing a kitchen?
It’s such a personal choice. When I see something I love, it’s immediate. If I immediately know I have to have it, I’ll find a spot for it and work around it. If you see something that really sings to you—that’s the sign—get it.
Have you seen your designs in other people’s homes? What is that like?
It’s really cool. Every once in a while, I’ll get feedback on Etsy with a photo, and on Instagram, people tag you. It’s just cool, and it’s personal—it’s their homes, and that feels pretty special to me, especially because every single thing I sell, it’s my hands; I made it.
Any other advice for readers on incorporating accessories into their space?
Make sure your space is as open as it can be. I like things in their place. Even if it’s a mess, you can find a way to put it into a bin or basket. Especially if you have kids—everything in our house is in some sort of container. So, if you can find something beautiful, but functional, that’s my favorite.
I also love integrating things that are dual purpose. Like floor poufs, I love those because they stack and then when I have people over, where I don’t normally have room, I’ve got a place for them to sit. My coffee table has storage inside it that you can’t see. Especially in a small house, anything that works twice as hard as it’s supposed to is your best friend.
I would also really encourage people to follow their own voices. Regardless of current trends or styles, it’s so important to just do you when it comes to your space. It’s your home and no one needs to love it as much as you. And, don’t judge décor or furniture by cost. I don’t care if it’s a $5,000 piece from Restoration Hardware or a five-dollar thrift store find, if it’s right for you, then it’s right.