You probably know Olivia Wilde from her wildly successful acting career. She has starred in House, Tron: Legacy, The Lazarus Effect and dozens more. She also happens to be a producer, director, kick-ass mom, activist and, most recently, interior designer. Olivia Wilde has been flexing her interior design muscles by designing the inside of Dunkin’s’ new tiny house that runs entirely on coffee. Yes, coffee, but more on that later. If all that weren’t cool enough, Wilde is also the daughter of Leslie Cockburn — the award-winning American investigative journalist, filmmaker and congressional candidate for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District race. Impressive, yeah?
Naturally, when we were offered the opportunity to chat with Wilde about the new sustainable tiny home she helped design, we were all in. Not only did Wilde give us amazing details on Dunkin’s’ tiny home (you can see a video of it on their website), but we also chatted about food, home design, her family and, yes, President Donald Trump.
SheKnows: You’re partnering with Dunkin’, and you have helped them decorate their new tiny house that is powered entirely by used coffee grounds, which sounds amazing. Are you passionate about sustainability?
Olivia Wilde: Sustainability is something that I’ve been passionate about for a while now. Partnering with Dunkin’ was something I was immediately drawn to because I thought it was a really creative way to tell the story of Dunkin’ coffee, and I thought how cool that they are going to build this home that runs on coffee grounds to tie in their motto of “America Runs on Dunkin’,” and your home runs on Dunkin’. And then when they asked me to collaborate on the interior design, I thought that was really fun as well. I jumped right in and created a look book of different ideas, sent them off, and they incorporated a bunch of them. It was really fun to see when I walked into the tiny home for the first time. The first thing I should say is that I love tiny things and always have, so a tiny home is like the ideal experience for me.
SK: How do you teach the importance of sustainability to Daisy and Otis? Is that something you practice at home?
OW: Yeah! You know, they’re really small — they’re 4 and 2. But I try to teach them lessons about resources and how they’re not limitless. Particularly water. I try so hard to get them to understand that water is a limited resource, and I talk to them about how we dispose of things and recycle things and just encouraging them to understand our place on Earth and how we have to take care of it. They’re very simple, basic lessons, but I am trying to slowly introduce them to a set of standards that they will carry throughout their lives. I’m trying to mimic what I was taught by my parents and a really wonderful progressive school that I went to in DC that was really adamant about environmental lessons, and it really had an effect on me. Childhood education is no joke! It really changes the way you live your life, so I’m trying to do the same for my kids. I think they’re getting it — I think kids have a really lovely awareness of these things. They have such empathy for the Earth and the animals, so that’s usually the jumping-off point for our discussions — you know, how we take up space on Earth and how nature and animals are valued on this Earth.
SK: Do you think you could ever live in a tiny house with your family?
OW: Yes, I would be really into it. I’m not sure if Jason would like it at all, but I am really into it. I could go on, like, a six-month road trip in the Dunkin’ tiny home with our kids, and I’d be really happy!
SK: Yes! Wouldn’t it be great?
OW: I just love the convertible spaces. I love the really smart storage, and I think being close to your family is lovely, and having everything so communal is lovely. If you were to check in with me a few months into that road trip, I might not feel the same, but I think having been a New Yorker for a long time, the idea of sharing a space is just different when you live in a big city with limited space. It goes back to being a kid when you used to build forts. That’s what it feels like. It’s just really playful.
SK: How would you describe the style of your own home?
OW: Our home is really an eclectic mix. It’s got some mid-century pieces, but our home is a brownstone, and it has a lot of original features — really nice original wood, original walls. It’s kind of a really old, magical home. Everyone says it looks like something out of a Wes Anderson movie. Really colorful, a lot of art, a lot of photography, and our house is very cozy.
SK: Seeing as the end of the year is coming up, and you’re a professional designer now, what do you think some of the biggest home decor trends of 2019 will be?
OW: I think people will be more into sustainable fabrics, handmade pieces. There’s a lot of great small companies turning things like recycled denim into home pieces. There’s a real sense of awareness of how do we create something that tells a story and exists in a more responsible way, so I think that will continue — hopefully.
SK: Can we talk about another one of my favorite subjects for a minute? Food.
SK: Some people are very anti-snacking, but I am a huge snacker, and I hear you are as well. What are some of your go-to healthy snacks for yourself and for your kids?
OW: You know what, we are a big avocado family over here. I love avocados. The kids love it, and it’s something that can easily fill them up if they have it with some nuts. I am way more healthy in the way I feed my kids than the way I feed myself. For them, you know, it’s avocado or blueberries, or they’ll have some almond butter on toast, but as for me, I will grab those chips. I will grab that doughnut, but I’m trying to be more healthy.
SK: What does a typical weeknight meal look like for your family?
OW: I love to make soup, and I think it’s a fun thing to make for the whole family. It’s the kind of thing I like to throw together with whatever we have in the fridge, and it’s just so comforting and soothing, which is of course what you need when you are a working mother of two. But of course I love pasta, and my kids love pasta, so I love making a good Bolognese with or without meat. I love to make curry — another super-easy thing! I like recipes where you can throw it all into a pot and then forget about it.
SK: Yes, that’s the best way to cook. So, I have one last question for you. It seems like every day, we are hit with more devastating news in some form. Whether it’s a mass shooting or another big blow to women’s rights. I think a lot of parents struggle with how to talk about things like this with their young kids. How do you approach sensitive subjects with Daisy and Otis?
OW: We talk a lot about how fortunate we are and that we won the life lottery and what consequences come with that. You know, as kids that don’t need to go hungry or kids who don’t have to worry about having a safe space to sleep — they should be conscious of how they can give more and be more generous. I’m a big believer in the three jars. Have you heard of it? It’s a cool concept. Each kid gets three jars, and when they get an allowance, one jar is for saving, one is for spending, and one is for giving, and I really believe in setting a kind of standard where they give away a large portion of what they get. The idea is every good fortune that comes to you in your life, part of it is not yours and needs to be put back into the world.
That kind of concept is something that I think applies to bad news that is a constant flow, and the other thing I’ll say is you can’t avoid the bad news. It’s constantly on, and so they ask about it, and we use that opportunity to talk about bullying. We talk about when someone is a bully, how terrible that makes other people feel, and when the bully takes away the rights of other people, maybe it’s because no one was kind to them when they were a child. You know, we talk a lot about what makes someone a bully and how to approach that. But you know, I have to say now, when our kids see Trump on television or anywhere, they’re just like, “The bully!” And I don’t correct them. I have no desire to. I don’t say anything other than, “Absolutely!” They’re picking up these things. They have a sense of right and wrong, and it’s a really important conversation to have at 2 and 4. They get very confused. They wonder why aren’t the standards we’re taught in preschool applied to grown-ups? Well, they should be.