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Cottage Chic owner mixes simplicity with the unconventional 

If there is one thing Charlotte native Julie Page Smith has learned from being a homeowner, it's that a fresh coat of paint works wonders. Especially since the living room walls of her cozy South Charlotte home were painted bright red when she and her husband first toured the moderately sized, one-story house.

"That was a fun transformation," Smith says with a smirk.

As co-owner of Cottage Chic, a lifestyle store on East Boulevard offering everything from home furnishings to baby gifts, Smith says her personal style has definitely been influenced by her work, but she prides herself on her ability to constantly change things around in her home.

"I definitely wouldn't say I have a specific style," she says. "I like that because I feel like you can easily pigeonhole yourself and get stuck. If I love something and it's practical, then I'll find a place for it."

These more practical objects would probably include Smith's prized furniture items, all from Cottage Chic: her cream-colored couch in the family room, as well as two matching love seats positioned easily in front of her large corner windows in the living room, seen as soon as one walks in the front door.

"I love them because they're plush and cozy; they're something very comforting," Smith says. "I love sitting here and reading a magazine and drinking a cup of coffee."

The furniture reflects Smith's love of simplicity when it comes to basic items, and then adding in funkier items to accent.

"I like to have traditional and neutral bones so you won't get tired of them," she says. "Then as your style changes, you can get some new pillows or change the art a bit."

In the living room where the love seats reside, Smith has a large old-fashioned farm bench, which she found at Sleepy Poet Antique Mall, covered in peeling bright green paint up against the wall. While it may sound out of place, the bench adds a comforting rustic feel to the room.

Smith's love of animals is also displayed through her accent items, and throughout her home in general. Not only can one hear the soft meowing of her cat Penelope and the squeaking of her dog Enzo's chew toy upon entering the house, visitors are struck by a colorful, abstract painting of a French bulldog in the family room. The painting was a gift from a friend in memory of Smith's beloved dog, Clementine, who died several years ago.

"The animals are a very important part of the household," Smith says.

While the two main rooms are impressive on their own, what makes her home even more unique would have to be Smith's array of eclectic knickknacks displayed on brightly colored shelves in almost every room. From bronze goblet candleholders to an antique Japanese puppet, one could easily spend hours musing over Smith's collection.

"I am a collector of small things," she says. "I like anything that has a story. Before we lived here, we lived in smaller spaces, so it was fun unpacking everything from storage and having space for it all."

And with Smith's love of updating her home, things are sure to change several more times in the future, but definitely not because she's unhappy.

"I'm constantly changing things about my home," Smith says. "I think that's what I like about it, that you can change anything."

If you'd like your home to be considered for our weekly Creative Living feature, e-mail

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