UPCOMING RELEASES: *Meghean Warner 12.1 | Caroline Gray 12.2 | Elisabeth Hays 12.6 | *Lauren Smith 12.8

As a champion of southern entrepreneurs, Lauren Wicks was an easy choice for our next guest curator! Lauren is a freelance lifestyle writer and editor based in Birmingham, Alabama. Working with brands from such as VERANDA, House & Garden(U.K.), Well + Good, Food & Wine, Citizen Femme, EatingWell, Hotels Above Par, Apartment Therapy, and Tasting Table, Lauren is a modern day tastemaker creating content for those in the lifestyle space. We asked Lauren to serve as the our next Guest Curator and were blown away by her thorough assessment of our collection and her thoughtful responses to our many many questions. See Lauren's current Well + Wonder picks below as well as read more about the women behind the brands in our rapid-fire Q&A. 

Paige Smythe: Rosie Bunch 

I love this entire collection by Paige as my family lives in South Florida and these pieces transport me to sunny days spent on Palm Beach. Several art pieces in my home are tropical botanicals, and I just can’t get enough of them. Plus, the texture is lovely and would be a nice layering element to any wall. 

Christy King: Six Piece Still Life

Maybe it’s because the first artist my mom taught me about was Paul Cezanne or maybe it’s because I love to spend every free moment in the kitchen, but a food-centric still life always speaks to me. There’s something so wonderful about an everyday scene being worthy of art. I think it’s a great reminder to enjoy life’s little luxuries and to savor each moment—especially when in-season pomegranates are involved.

Kelley Ogburn: Gather No. 2

Figure studies—particularly of females—are always a favorite of mine, and I love how Kelley seems to be capturing these women in the middle of a juicy conversation. You could stare at this piece for hours wondering what gossip they’ve just uncovered or the college memories they’re laughing about. The color combination also really speaks to me.

Coco Zentner: It’s All in the Details

What a gorgeous piece—it almost looks like a photograph. I did not inherit my dad’s green thumb, so any way to bring in plant life without having to keep them alive is much appreciated. You could just get lost in the painting appreciating all the details.

Tell us about yourself.  

I grew up in Orlando, Florida but came to Alabama to attend The University of Alabama, and never left—mostly thanks to a boy I met there who is now my husband of almost-five years! I am a freelance writer and editor with a focus on luxury travel, design, wine, food, and nutrition/wellness after stints at VERANDA,EatingWell, andCooking Light. I love that I can combine all my experiences in the next stage of my career, and this job is the perfect fit for me as I’m a very passionate person and love to learn, plus, I’m always all over the place–both mentally and physically! Having a job that teaches me something new every day, allows me to work when I am most productive, and lets me travel to amazing places is seriously a dream come true and I pinch myself almost every day that I get to do it. In my free time I love to throw dinner parties, read historical fiction, peruse the farmers market, go for long walks with the people I love, scheme up my next trip, and explore my adopted hometown of Birmingham that I love so much. Somehow, I also still enjoy writing for fun after logging off for the day.

What is currently on your nightstand?  What are you reading?

I do some beauty writing and get to try a lot of great products, so for something to make my nightstand says a lot. Right now, I’m especially fond of Cultus Artem’s Moisture Milk that I’ve been using for both my face and body at bedtime, and it seems to have found a home on my nightstand. And being a journalist, there are always a stack of magazines—mostly food, design, and travel-related.Real Simple will always be a favorite! I keep a votive candle at my bedside for late-night reading, and it’s usually NEST’s grapefruit scent or Cire Trudon’s Cyrnos because I love clean, citrusy scents that remind me of the ocean. 

I just finishedThe Woman After Wallis by Bryn Turnbull, which is a novelization of Thelma Morgan’s, twin sister of Gloria Vanderbilt, relationship with King Edward, prior to his marriage to Wallis Simpson. I’d just read Anderson Cooper’s history of the Vanderbilt family and Meryl Gordon’s biography of Bunny Mellon over the last few months, and I always find these iconic families really fascinating as they had all the money in the world yet still never seemed to find the secret to happiness. Kind of somber, I know, but these accounts of fabulous people put things in perspective and remind me to always prioritize relationships and experiences over money and things. Plus, they make for fascinating reads. 

What is your biggest score online to date? 

Without a doubt this amazing, Penny Lane-esque vintage coat from the ‘70s that I found through a French resale site is my biggest score. Everytime I wear it, I feel like a million bucks, even though it was the deal of the century! It’s also made me more fond of wintertime, since that’s the only time of year that I can wear it. And being a Florida gal, I need all the help I can get.

It is said to look for art that "makes your heart skip a beat." What aspects of art make your heart skip? 

I love how a piece of art can evoke different feelings and thoughts from one person to the next. It’s amazing how art forces you to slow down and just enjoy it for what it is, which is especially important in our fast-paced world that often prioritizes quantity of content over quality. Art also just ties an entire room together, giving it a vibrance and sophistication in a way that no other piece can. 

The greatest color combination that ever existed?

I mean, you just can’t go wrong with blue and white. Not only is it the O.G. color combo (blue sky and white clouds!), it’s so versatile and, more importantly, creates a sense of casual, cool elegance. I’m a huge fan of everything Mark D. Sikes does, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but it really does feel so glamorous in an understated way, especially when you pull in some stripes and breezy linen fabric. 

What’s your favorite housewarming gift?

I know this is so cliché, but I really do love to gift a bottle of wine with a pretty bow on it. Sparkling wine—especially something a bit unique like a Crémant du Jura or Frizzante—is bound to be part of a special memory in their lives, like a milestone celebration or their first dinner party. Plus, you’re pretty likely to get invited! If they aren’t drinkers, I like to find a fun shop in their new neighborhood and gift them a trinket, book, or set of cocktail napkins from there. 

Tell us a bit about your corner of the world – where do you live and what do you love about it?

I live in Birmingham, Alabama, which is such a hidden gem. You have plenty of big-city perks like acclaimed restaurants and bars, a cool art scene, and tons of events going on each weekend, but you also have all the benefits of a smaller town like a slower pace of life and an abundance of local businesses that everyone rallies around. Each neighborhood has its own distinct feel and yet somehow exudes Birmingham in its own way. You’re also within just a few hours of the Panhandle, New Orleans, Nashville, Atlanta, and Highlands, if you’re in need of a weekend away, and you’re just minutes from a great hike anywhere in the city. Guess the secret is out now!