March 06, 2015

Lesson 204: The Evolution of Our House

When I began the process (and it is a process) of decorating a house for Mark and me, I had strong opinions about what a home should be like. I had traveled the world, seen phenomenal art, been inspired by Chinese cafes, Irish countrysides, architecture and color, pattern, patina, and people. I had so many ideas about function and accessibility, so much hope for comfort and interest, dreams of a perfect place to raise children, host friends, and curl up at the end of the day ... and yet, so few skills and even less money.

My college days were spent in what I call "the bland years." Dorm rooms were decorated with stock posters and Target knick knacks (before the Threshold line.) Girls wore black North Face fleeces during the day and tight black shirts at night. I think trucker hats had a moment there, but y'all, there was very little appealing creativity.

Feel free to argue in the comments with this assessment of the mid-2000's, but before you do, look back at your college pictures (they're probably in a box somewhere, as this was a pre-facebook / instagram time) and examine your clothes and decor. Probably pretty terrible.

Anyway. I was overseas when the whole artisty, turned hipster, Anthropologie world took over clothes and decor. Not only did I not know how to turn a beautiful piece of paper into the wall hanging of my dream, I had no idea where to find the paper.

Honestly, I didn't even know such paper existed.

So, there I was, visions of beauty. No skills. Already behind the times.

My first attempts were ... interesting.

There was the "Gallery Wall" attempt.

 The "Give Every Item I Own a Place" look?!?!

 The "Buy MORE Pillows from Crate and Barrel and That'll Fix Things" look.

 The "It's an Art Gallery" look.

 Oh my.

 The "Coffee Center Chess Corner" look, because my house is a cafe and not a house.

 The "Trash-picking is Awesome" look.

The "My Dining Room is Kind of Asian" look.

 The "Track-picking + Purple Paint = The First Thing Guests See When Entering Our House" look.


We needed a shoe holder.

And it needed to be purple, because the last thing I could stand was for my house to be boring.

This piece still reminds us of our "early years of marriage" when we didn't have a clue.

Yes friends, as you can see,  I had ... standards.

Two years in, we packed up and moved to Clover, SC. A smaller house, with lots of light and beautiful views.

Time passed, I read more, watched some terrible HGTV (Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder = no good.), and began incorporating white. Remember "The White Series"?!?!

For some reason during this time, I started buying "imperfect" lamps, because they would have been super expensive if they weren't broken. I thought I was getting "a deal."

In fact, I was getting a dumb looking lamp.

I have three, including this weirdly shaped Ralph Lauren one pictured below.

 Slightly different scheme for Christmas.

 I started using fresh flowers, which is a good thing to do. 

 I just kept tweaking. Making adjustments. Trying things. Living with them. Hating them. Changing again.

I tried Chevron (like everyone else in April of  2012) and was over it by May of 2012.

We lived in this sweet little home for two colorful years. When Mark finished his internship, he was hired as our church's Assistant Pastor and we moved next door to the bigger house. You may remember this post. 

By this point, I had started blogging and so a lot of my house journey was documented.

I bought my cows. 

I moved my cows. 

Generally, my house normalized a little bit. I began to learn the beauty of simplifying. 

Though I still had some weird streaks, as this post documented. 

Then we moved again.

And this time, we've bought the house. We're staying put!

We've been in our house six months and I've shown you few photos, because these things take time. And I had a baby.

I have to be honest, I love my front room in this new house. I literally refer to it as "The Pretty Room." I receive compliments about it from people I care about, like my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law ... even my mom!

These photos are awful, because my camera is awful, but y'all it's these or nothing.

 What I've Learned and Ways I've Changed My Decorating Approach

1. Decorating Takes Time. It has taken a lot of time to really figure out my tastes. It takes time to find the right pieces. It takes time to learn how things go together or don't go together. It takes time to make mistakes. I didn't stand a chance in our first house, because I was starting fresh. Time has helped immensely.

2. I Started Spending Money. The truth is my perfect house was not going to be found at a yard sale, and as more babies started arriving, the time required to scour yard sales seriously plummeted. As I refined my tastes and began to learn what things actually cost, I have been able to make educated purchases. Much of my house still shows up from Craigslist including the Ethan Allen sofa pictured and the newly upholstered accent chair.

But I paid $250 for the accent chair, not $25. Compared to a new chair at $1100, which is what they cost, I still felt thrifty. However, this room wasn't free.

3. The White Series was Spot On. White, white, white. I was learning in our second home how much white freed up your mind and eyes to enjoy a room, but I hadn't gone quite far enough. This room began for months as nothing, but a simple blend of white and other neutrals. I slowly, slowly, slowly added color, but only once the white foundation was firmly established.

4. A White Foundation Takes Time. I get super frustrated with Better Homes and Gardens magazines that say things like, "Just change your room by adding a fresh coat of paint and some pillows." Look closely and those articles are assuming a white, neutral base. Friends, take it from me, a fresh white base takes both time and money! My suggestion is not to buy your accent pieces until you've established your neutral base.

Unless you find something incredible, which leads me to my next point.

5. Intuition Matters. Though decorating takes time, sometimes you just find the piece! Something so beautiful, so magnificent, so worth it. Buy it. This is a rare occurrence and you must seize it.

6. I Got Snobby with Art. I used to hang up any old thing that had even an ounce of interest. (See first picture in this post for reference). But y'all, deep down I hated a lot of those pictures and in a way resented them for not being ... more special. I finally learned to only hang pieces I love. This mostly means original paintings or beautiful photographs of my family. Note: I don't spend a fortune on my art, but I also don't pick it up at yard sales. I'm calculated. I plan, and when I find something I love, I buy it.

I'm also not entirely opposed to prints, if, and only if, I meet the artist.

Life is too short to live with bad art. I'm sure someone famous said that and if no has, then I'm saying it.

7. Edit. Less, less, less is more. The less you have, the more you see what's there. Space is a beautiful thing. A blank wall is a beautiful thing. You may remember last spring and summer when I wrote post after post about getting rid of things. I can't even begin to describe how much stuff I dropped off at Goodwill. Good, usable, perfectly fine housewares ... that I loathed looking at. Physically removing these items from my house, mentally unloaded my mind to lovingly use the objects I truly cared for.

8. Light. I'm obsessed with light, and do everything in my power to create more of it. It's a simple way to add more white. 

And there you have it. A magnum opus of all I've learned from six years of a non-stop obsession with all things house. This room feels finished to me, which is nice. It's functional, inspiring, and bright.

As the rest of my house falls apart on a daily basis, this room brings a smile to face every time I walk through it. It may sound shallow, but I feel like that's worth something.

Lesson Learned: Time. Perseverance. White.

* Linked up at Living Well Spending Less


  1. love the evolution! i'm also slowly realizing my tastes. it doesn't include lightning mcqueen, but somehow he's a big part of the ambience around here.
    i'm also super impressed with the vacuum marks in several of your pictures :)

  2. Love your "pretty room." And it was so fun seeing the evolution. (Not unlike my own!) One thing my husband and I strived for early on was buying the best quality we could afford...which really is a good investment. :) - Karen

  3. I love your decorating tips!! Mike and I are about to move into a new place (a SMALLER place) and the less is more tip is definitely something I'm going to follow :)

  4. Your house actually looks very nice, despite having the fashion of the olden days. And to be honest, I’ve seen nothing but upgrades on your house, which is amazing. All in all, I think your house have been through some great stuff. Great job!

    Justin Garrett @ Buzz Homes


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...