(Adrienne Arieff with daughters Emma, left, and India in her San Francisco home office. Photos © 2014 Sarah Hebenstreit)
More fashion-forward than Sheryl Sandberg, more inviting than Sophia Amoruso, San Francisco author Adrienne Arieff is a worthy new addition to the welcome trend of female role models. Her new book, Fairy-Tale Success: A Guide to Entrepreneurial Magic
(coauthored by Beverly West), is an engaging, empowering manual for young women who dream of someday running their own businesses. Using the fairy-tale trope as a structural concept, and filled with case studies of real women who have successfully pursued their entrepreneurial goals, the book will make many of us wish we'd stumbled across it in our formative years. As a business owner herself and mother of twin five-year-old girls, India and Emma, Arieff shows us her own take on stylish family living.You run your own PR agency in downtown San Francisco and also have an office at home that you designed. Can you describe both spaces? What are the similarities and differences?
The similarities are that they are both airy and minimalist, with lots of clean white lines and natural light. Both spaces have a fair amount of artwork I've collected over the years from my travels. The difference is that my home has great bones and glass doors throughout, while my [company] office is a more generic space that we had to turn into something beautiful with Eames furnishings, vintage ceramic pieces, IKEA desks, and FLOR tiles to get a modern look.What qualities of your home office make it conducive for writing?
It is so peaceful and quiet. I write with the door open so I have a breeze that comes in from my deck. I've surrounded myself with a few things that mean a lot to me. I try to never have clutter at my home office. My work office is another story![Office chair from Kartell, with Missoni Home's Cartagena fabric. Custom desk. Mirror from One Kings Lane. Gold-and-black pencil box on desk from Galerie Tiago. A di Alessi Sebastiano Pencil Holder on floor.]With two five-year-old daughters in the mix, how do you ensure your home office is a kid-friendly space?
I don't have anything pink or purple on my desk, so they aren't interested in anything except colored pens.(Black-and-white photograph from Art.com. Piggy bank from 1stdibs)How do you balance sophisticated design and family-friendly elements throughout your home?
I wanted the home to feel laid-back with a modern aesthetic. We [mixed] midcentury flea-market finds with contemporary designs and select Japanese pieces I inherited from my mom. It's easier these days to have a house that is family-friendly as long as you let go of [the idea of] keeping your house perfect at all times and stay away from glass and marble. Essentially, anything you can break we keep high up. Our birch dining table has some stained ink all over it, but it adds an element of color so I embrace it. We also repaint certain walls on a regular basis—thank you Yolo Colorhouse
! It's a great nontoxic paint we use a lot.What design compromise did you make as a mom that you swore you'd never do before you had kids?
I never thought I would welcome pink bedding and wall-to-wall kids' artwork in their playroom, unframed. I love their art wall now! One day I may get around to framing some of it. Until then I'll keep looking at Serena & Lily picture frames and swoon. Where do you draw the line in terms of kid-friendly design?
I draw the line at Disney. My daughters wanted princess wallpaper. I said no and gave them a pink accent wall instead.(Japanese boxes found on One Kings Lane)Your new book is a smart and relatable guide for budding young female entrepreneurs. What's the most important lesson you hope your daughters take away from it?
Be self-confident, have a sense of humor, and be self-reliant.What were the most compelling reasons that propelled you to become an entrepreneur?
Freedom to do what I love and work with the people I respect.What's your favorite fairy tale and why?
For me, it's always Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
. Her fantasy world is so colorful and nonsensical—it's fun to see my daughters so amused. I love when Alice sees a white rabbit with a pocket watch and follows him down a rabbit hole. Her journey into a dream world, then returning home safely, is a good way to say good night to your kids.
If you could have one design wish for your own home, what would it be?
Five hundred more square feet of closet space!