Q&A: Parachute founder Ariel Kaye on how to create a comfortable home

May 28, 2020

Ariel Kaye founded the brand Parachute in Los Angeles in 2014 to sell high-quality bedding. She became known for her soft, comfortable sheets, towels, robes, rugs and eventually mattresses. Ariel’s first book, "How to Make a House a Home," was released this spring.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, the Property Brothers or Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, answer your decorating, design and decluttering questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and organizing. For more than 20 years, our Thursday Q&A has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share your own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small.

Your home is the story of who you are. This is the philosophy of Ariel Kaye, who founded Parachute. Her business began in 2014 as a digital brand and went from wonderful linens to products for all rooms of the house. Her retail stores have been gathering places for people who like socially responsible home design and comfortable living.

 

Morning! Nice to meet all of you and thanks to Jura for having me on today. I hope everyone is doing well.


I’m Ariel Kaye, the Founder and CEO of Parachute and author of How to Make a House a Home. I started Parachute in 2014 as a direct to consumer bedding brand and have since expanded to include products and essentials for all rooms in the home. In the last five years we’ve opened up brick-and-mortar locations across the country. We look forward to reopening our retail locations. 

 

I released my first book How to Make a House a Home in April! While this is not a traditional design book, it offers insights on how to create a home that is beautiful, mindful, functional, and uniquely you. 

 

I can’t wait to share design tips and ideas with you. My book is available where ever books are sold - support your local book store! It is also available on our website, along with all our home essentials at Parachutehome.com. 

I have a hard time finding soft throws that are washable? If you cozy up with a cup of tea and cookies on a daily basis, you need to wash the throw. Why are these hard to find?

Good question! Throws are generally made from more delicate fabrics such as merino wool, alpaca and cashmere – the texture and quality of the fabric is what makes a good throw so nice to cuddle up in! Personally, I love to use our quilt on the couch when I want to read a book or watch some TV. It’s made from linen and percale so it’s the ideal weight for getting cozy – plus, it’s machine washable.

Are you finding an uptick in your robe sales during this pandemic?

 

Yes! We have seen a huge uptick in our robe sales. They have always been a popular product but we’ve seen huge increase in demand since mid-March. I love that a robe is now becoming a part of everyday wear! It’s one of my favorite looks. 

We will be restocked in all robes in the upcoming weeks. 

We want to make our home office brighter. It currently has a rust-colored grass cloth on the walls that makes the room feel dark. There is cherry furniture in the room - a desk, floor to ceiling bookcases with a laptop area in the middle, and hardwood floors. What would you suggest for wall color? Our style is closest to transitional with neutral colors in adjacent entry hall and kitchen. Thank you for your help - Janet J

 

I love a neutral color palette and would stick to white, soft greys and tans as a juxtaposition to the darker elements in the room. Take cues from the adjacent entry hall as a way to connect the spaces and create an ideal flow.

Am in the market for a new mattress and currently still have the traditional mattress and box spring. Why did Parachute decide to get into the mattress business? So hard as a consumer to make a choice. Any advice?

We received thousands of customer requests seeking mattress recommendations and about three years ago we decided it was time to create our own to provide a superior sleep experience. We crowdsourced feedback from dozens of people within the Parachute community, customers, and our own team members to find the right balance of support and softness.

When looking for a new mattress it’s important to look at the construction, the materials and the craftsmanship. The Parachute Mattress features distinct ergonomic comfort zones, providing unique levels of support for the different pressure points within the body. The Mattress is made without any foam or latex with means it will last a very long time. We combined thirteen inches of pocketed coils, micro coils, and layers of Pure New Zealand Wool to create the ideal blend of softness and support. The Mattress is also responsibly manufactured by a heritage mattress maker using only premium, high-quality, eco-friendly materials.

Is this just personal preference or what’s Parachute’s take?

When I started Parachute I knew that about 40% of Americans choose not to sleep with a top sheet. I happen to be one of them! We decided to make the top sheet an option to purchase rather than include it in our bundle. I figure, why pay for something you don't need or use. I find it ends up tangled at the end of the bed so I prefer to skip that layer. 

A long time ago on TV, a woman was interviewed. Her advice spend money on what use daily. So I spend on sheets vs a pair of shoes.

I love this advice! And I agree - you spend 1/3 of your life in bed and sleep impacts everything... Sheets come in contact with your skin, so choose products that are well manufactured and safe. Invest in your health and your quality of sleep! 

Your company seems to only feature neutral colors - obviously this is intentional . Do you ever think of adding color or prints?

 

We do gravitate towards a neutral color palette which is both classic and timeless and designed to work with any design aesthetic. Our entire assortment is designed to be easily mixed and matched. We tend to invest more in texture as a design element which still adds a lot of visual intrigue and depth to your space. We have started to explore prints in our top of bed products – we have our diamond stitch duvet which features an intricate pattern, and we love a stripe. We also introduced a sunset color palette last fall – beautiful earthy tones of surplus, ochre, terra and amber. We continue to evolve and will certainly continue to play with color and pattern. You'll see more bold choices from us in upcoming collections.

I do not find linen especially “ crisp” unless ironed. What kinds of sheets give that crisp feeling when you slide in?

 

Percale is a great option to get that “crisp” feeling. Our Percale is made from 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton and is garment washed for a soft texture and casual appearance. We always say it is reminiscent of a button down shirt – cool and crisp to the touch.  

I find my husband and I really relish freshly laundered sheets in this stressful time, so I seem to be changing our bed linens twice a week . What else do you recommend to enhance that experience?

 

We recommend washing linens every 7 to 10 days. However, if you feel like changing more frequently I would add a wool dryer ball to your machine to soften the fabric and decrease the drying time. I love to add a few drops of lavender essential oil to my dryer balls to make my laundry smell even more fresh and inviting. We also partnered with the skincare company OSEA on a Rest Linen Mist which is lovely to spray before bed. It has natural lavender, geranium, peppermint, sage and essential oils.

What is one furniture or design staple that you think is overdone right now?

I think people often get carried away by trends and can try to incorporate too many into their space when they are first getting started. It’s easy to get caught up in the “of the moment” look and within a few months you have a house full of mismatched styles. When I see a new item for the home I usually give myself a week before I purchase to make sure I really like it, need it in my home and see it fitting in with my aesthetic. I am also a firm believer that design is never “done.” Especially when you move into a new space it’s nice to give yourself time to get to know the bones, the architecture, how you are using the rooms and take design cues from experience.

Are Roman Shades more on trend rather than drapes?

I am personally a fan of both roman shades and drapes. I think depending on the room and the look you are going for they both serve a purpose. Drapes a great to soften up a space and are decorative as well as functional. I swear by roman shades in my bedroom because they are great for blocking out natural light. 

What are the best ways to make a new one bedroom apartment feel like home for someone in their mid-20's, especially when on a budget?

 

I would play with color and texture to create a warm and comfortable vibe in your new home. I love white walls, soft greys or tans to create a sense of calm – and a fresh layer of paint can be done inexpensively. I also love to add soft touches – a cozy rug, layered blankets and a wall hanging or framed art to add dimension to any room. We recently launched a free virtual styling consultation service at Parachute - that might be a good resource too!

What do you recommend to customers about laundry/ironing /care of fine sheets? These new front loaders can really take their toll on fabrics.

We always recommend you use low heat - both in the washer and dryer. Use dryer balls to help reduce the time it takes to dry sheets. Also never overload the machine. Wash and dry sheets with sheets - avoid throwing other clothing items, especially those with zippers, into the machine at the same time. 

How many mattresses should a person go through in their lifetime?

A high quality mattress should last around 10 years. 

Hi Ariel!! It's about to get humid in NY (whew, honey!) so I was curious on what types of sheets I should purchase to avoid overheating throughout the night! Thanks! R

 

Linen is a great fabric for summer for those living in hot and humid climates. This is because Linen fibers are hollow, allowing air and moisture to move throughout. Ancient Egyptians prized the fabric for its wicking properties and breathability. It's actually a great fabric year round. During the winer months the hollow fiber acts as a natural insulator – retaining your body warmth as temperatures drop. I also recommend swapping out your duvet cover and heavier insert for a lightweight quilt or a top sheet to avoid overheating.

I’ve tried to brighten a dark living room due to low natural light— with light furniture and walls. I have two tall table lamps and two other standing lamps. Any other tips?

 

I love the use of both table and standing lamps. Perhaps an overhead light will help to illuminate the space. I also love adding light curtains/panels to any windows to create softness, texture and brighten a room. 

I’ve been wanting to bring some color to my bedding palette instead of the all-white looks now, but I can seem to take the plunge. Any tips?

 

An all-white bed is always a beautiful and classic look! Adding a more colorful quilt would be a great way to test the waters of bringing color to your bedding palette. Plus, it’s a great layering piece with the warmer months approaching. A nice grey or blush quilt would look beautiful with an all-white bedding set. I might also try an accent color with Euro Shams.

Super frustrating that so many home goods companies like yours focus on neutrals. I like COLOR. Sounds like Parachute is another no go...

We've been introducing more color to our assortment over the past year and it's been hugely successful. Check out our terra, surplus, ochre, blush colors... You might like them! Also more colors to come. 

What are your favorite colors for spring decorating?

I've been loving our sunset color palette at Parachute. And it's extending beyond the bedroom into the living and dining room. I've been gravitating towards warmer tones - replacing bright whites with neutrals like bone and ivory. And then using accents in blush, terra and surplus. 

I’m going to be in my backyard a lot this summer - what are your tips for making the outdoors comfy?

I am also spending a lot of time in the backyard these days. I love to bring out a quilt and a bunch of decorative pillows for a relaxing and comfortable set up on the grass. I've also added more pillows to our outdoor couches so they are even more comfortable as well as some cotton throws that are easy to wash. Delicious food and a great drink also make the outdoors more comfy! 

Do pillow cases need to be washed more frequently than bed sheets?

Pillow cases tend to get more dirty due to the oils on your skin and in your hair. While they don't need to be washed more frequently if you think they could benefit from an extra wash I'd suggest doing so every 5 days and your sheets every 7-10. 

What are your favorite places to buy furniture?

Lawson-Fenning, School House Electric, Amber Interiors, Article, Crate & Barrel, Croft House, France and Son, Hedge House Furniture, Lulu and Georgia, Charish. Could go on and on.. 

What's the secret to a great rug? If you went online you'd think there are more rugs out there than there are people on earth. How do you find the right one? Where do you start?

 

They say a rug can tie a room together - and it's so true. A rug can help define a space, add the right amount of color or texture, can create warmth etc. When it comes to rugs it’s important to think about where you are placing it and whether or not that will be a high-traffic area. Certain weaves will hold up better than others.

Thank you for all those great lifestyle tips, Ariel. Next week I'll be chatting about home offices with New York interior designer Young Huh. Until then,  be safe and enjoy your homes.

Thanks everyone for joining me today. It was a pleasure to answer your questions and I hope I provided some helpful suggestions. I hope you will check out Parachutehome.com and my new book, How To Make a House a Home. I'd love to keep in touch - you can find me at @arielkaye. Talk to you again soon! 

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily Twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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