October 2, 2014

Celebrating Home - Finding Your Style

One of the things that a lot of people struggle with is figuring out what "style" suits you. I was/am no exception! I really think it starts when you're moving into your own place for the first time, whether that be your own apartment as a young professional or starting a home with your new spouse. Most of us start out with hand-me-downs, thrift store finds, and randomly collected pieces from EVERYWHERE. The result can be eclectic and charming, but it can also feel hodgepodge. As you spend more time in your home, you usually want to start developing a more cohesive look, and that's when people freeze (like I did). 

In a nutshell, here's what you need to do to really figure out what your style is:

Create a Pinterest board of inspiration pictures. Pin ANY picture that you really, really love. 
Don't over-analyze or get too technical. Just Pin whatever pictures really make you say "Ahhh!" 

Here are just a few pictures from MY Pinterest board "The Living Room." You can visit my Pinterest boards to see the original pins and sources. These were pinned over the course of at least a year, and all at different times.

Look at the pictures you collected and figure out what they have in common. 
Are most of them a soothing, neutral palette of colors? Or are they warm and cozy? Look at the lines of the furniture - are there a lot of curved lines or are there clean lines? Are you drawn to pictures that have minimal accessories and styling? Or do you like a fully decorated and accessorized room? Write down what characteristics you realize you're drawn to when you look at the collection of pictures you have. 

When you look at the pictures I shared above, what do you notice that's a common thread? Here's what I would write down when looking at the pictures:

-Traditional style (specifically English/French, but you don't have to get that specific)
-Mixing many fabrics like florals, checks and stripes
-Neutral backgrounds like cream, soft yellow or a light taupe
-Accents of soft colors, namely blue
-Accents of blue and white porcelain pieces
-Soft, curved lines in furniture
-Gold used as an accent (mirrors, frames, etc.)

Your list shouldn't be TOO long, but you should give yourself a framework of what you like. 

Find websites or catalogs where you really like the style. 
This doesn't mean that you will necessarily shop from these exclusively (I don't think you should shop from anywhere exclusively!). This will just help you know where you can look for actual items that are for sale that have your style. 

For instance, my friend Grace went through the process above and found pictures she liked. She figured out that she liked warm colors, clean lines, with a little "homespun" feel thrown in (like quilts and a few homemade-feeling accessories). After we talked about it, she realized that she LOVES the company West Elm (and a little bit of Pottery Barn for that homespun feeling they sometimes have). She found a sofa she loves from West Elm, but before they make that investment, she's now able to research that style of sofa to price-compare and really make sure that's "the one." Finding a catalog or website that you love just helps in the overall process. 

Another example: I knew I wanted to accent with blue and white porcelain (remember the list I made above?), but it can be expensive. Some of the catalogs/websites I love are Ballard Designs, Wisteria, and occasionally Horchow. I receive their catalogs and I saw a set of three blue and white "Happiness Jars" listed from one company. I kept the price in mind but started researching all over the internet to price-compare. Then I saw where the jars were amazingly discounted AND the website was running free shipping - a HUGE benefit with something heavy and fragile. I was able to jump on the deal because I was confident I was getting the best price. The point is, just stay aware of items you really like and use catalogs/websites to make educated decisions!

Take stock of what you have and decide what is in line with your style. 
This DOES NOT MEAN that you're getting rid of everything and being a poor steward of your finances and what you already have! This simply means taking inventory so you have an educated awareness of what needs to be replaced, what can stay, what you can afford to replace now (if needed), etc. Also consider what you can sell to help finance a new replacement, if desired. Make a list of what you would ideally like to replace, then prioritize. For instance, if your sofa is falling apart and doesn't line up with the look you'd like to achieve, it's probably a good idea to sell it or give it away. However, if your sofa is falling apart and the lines and style of it still appeal to you and match the style you'd like, then look into having it recovered and repaired. It's all about having a plan/vision and making wise decisions with what you have. 

Ask for help! 
I studied interior design and I STILL have to ask for help sometimes! If you just can't figure out the direction you'd like to go, ask a friend whose house you really love. Or even if you don't share the same style, maybe your friend just knows your personality really well and can steer you in the right direction. There are also decorators and "e-designers" who might not be as expensive as you'd think. And think of it this way: an hour of help from them could save you thousands if you had gone on a buying rampage and didn't think through your purchases.

You don't HAVE to have a "style."
Don't box yourself in and become too rigid in what you buy or how you decorate. It's okay to change your mind! The purpose behind narrowing down a "style" is to give you a general direction, especially when you're making investment purchases like sofas or a big entertainment center. It's not to box you in; it's to give you a framework.

I have learned a LOT about figuring out what I like and giving myself a "plan" to decorate by. I feel like I've settled in to what I love and it's a fun process getting there. However, it's a SLOW PROCESS. Piecing things together and figuring out what you really want can be part of the fun. For some people, they hate decorating and the whole concept of finding a style. That's definitely okay, and as long as you feel comfortable in your home, that's what's important. Your attitude sets the whole tone of your home (more on that later in the series!) and it goes without saying that things like furniture, fabrics and curtains are completely secondary to the hearts of the people who live in your home!

Have fun figuring out what makes you YOU and what says "home" to you! I would love to know what you consider your style to be!

October 1, 2014

31 Days of Celebrating Home!

Welcome to my 31-day blog series for October 2014! Last year I did a month-long series about my love of all things British/English/United Kingdom called British Love, and I enjoyed it SO much! It's a good challenge for me to blog every day, and some days might not receive a blog post, but I really enjoy the concept of making blogging a priority and talking about certain topics in-depth.

When I was thinking about October approaching, I really didn't know if this was something I was going to try, simply because I couldn't think of a topic. I asked on Facebook and Instagram for ideas, and a lot of people suggested something home-oriented, namely our new house! So here's a little introduction about the series and where I'm thinking it will go. This post will also serve as the directory of posts as I write the series.

Almost exactly one year ago, we moved from a house we loved in the middle of our town to a new house about 20 minutes from town. We have 28 acres, live on a gravel road and absolutely love it! We wanted our children to have a lot of space to run and play and learn. We also desired a more peaceful and secluded lifestyle. It's been wonderful, and we haven't regretted the decision one bit. One of the aspects I will focus on in this series is what we've changed in our new home; how the decor is coming along and elements that kind of define my "style." I also want to talk about how I've figured out my style and how that has evolved, because that's one of the most common things people ask me!

A little background: I studied interior design in college and have always loved it, since I was a young girl. One of my favorite gifts when I was about 10 years old was a subscription to House Beautiful magazine! I love almost every single style of decor and architecture for different reasons. One of my very favorite things is being in people's homes because I just love seeing how people decorate their spaces and make them their own. I like to see what makes people feel comfortable in their home - it's fascinating to me. Kurt (my husband) always laughs because I can analyze a lot just from seeing someone's house (it's always positive! I find something I love from every single home I've ever been in, no matter what style or size!)! Another aspect of this series will be me showing pictures of some of my friends' homes and talking about what I love and asking them questions about their spaces. I think it's really fun to see "everyday decorating."

The biggest aspect of "home" to me is the unseen; the spiritual and emotional elements of what makes houses become homes. I believe you can walk into a home and immediately feel at ease or welcomed; and I believe you can also walk in and feel very little depth or warmth. I think it's really good to explore what makes the difference. I look forward to talking about some of those things, too!

"Home" is a really broad and layered concept. I LOVE that people are innately drawn to nesting and creating spaces that please them. We were created to cocoon ourselves in what makes us comfortable, whatever that looks like. Budgets and styles and preferences vary, but at the core of it we have all been created to love, create and crave a home.

That's something to celebrate!

September 30, 2014

Coming Tomorrow. . .

It's October again, and that means I'm introducing another month-long series for the 31 Days challenge! Last year I wrote about British Love and it was so much fun!

Check back tomorrow to see what I've decided to write about as I introduce the new series!

September 24, 2014

Dot Mom in Pictures

I'm back from a WONDERFUL weekend in Nashville at the DotMom conference! It was my first time to go and I'm SO glad I went. Kelly asked if I wanted to room with her, Laurie and their friend Jenn who just BEAT CANCER (GO JENN!!!!!!) and of course I said yes! I was so excited to spend time with these girls and they are just so sweet and funny. I laughed so hard all weekend!

DotMom is put on by Lifeway and a lot of people think it's a "blog" conference or something, but it's NOT! We were all talking about this and we think they might want to re-brand just so people know it's just for moms and wives in general. The breakout sessions were amazing and the main speakers were incredible. There is talk that there won't be anymore DotMom conferences, and I really hope that isn't true. I was so blessed by it and I have pages and pages of notes! I'm going to share those in a separate post because I have THAT much to share. :)

I drove to Nashville on Thursday and met up with Kelly, Laurie and Jenn at the hotel. I had spent time with Kelly before in Arkansas (when I went to visit my grandparents) but had never met Laurie or Jenn. We hit it off right away! We ate and shopped in downtown Franklin, and that area is ADORABLE! I absolutely loved it!

This is kind of neat: the original store "Philanthropy" is in downtown Franklin. It sells really cute clothes, gifts and accessories but the proceeds support nonprofits. Of all places, MY TOWN opened the second Philanthropy storefront! How cool is that? So it reminded me a lot of home! :)

Laurie and I are kindred spirits in a lot of ways - I seriously laughed my head off and she is just the sweetest person. I knew we were alike when she held up this robe and said, "It's just too Harriet Olson for me." You know Harriet from Little House on the Prairie?! I died. Then we did our best impressions of Harriet yelling "NELS!!!!!!" :)

I loved spending time with Jenn, too! She is hilarious and tell-it-like-it-is, and I love that. Our husbands have similar jobs so we had that in common, and she is just really fun to be with! I'm so thankful for her testimony of how God brought her through this last year. We celebrated her birthday this weekend, and it was extra special because last year on her birthday she shaved her head. Now she is cancer free and has completed all stages of reconstruction! YAY, JENN!! 

Anyone who reads Kelly's blog knows that she is just the sweetest person who loves the Lord and her family so much! I loved getting some quality time to talk and catch up - I wish we lived closer! We are so much alike and we had lots of moments bonding over so many things. I'm thankful to call her my friend!

That evening, we ate at Puckett's and it was so good! Lots of people recommended it and we enjoyed ourselves so much!

The next day we were at the conference and it was just SO good. My favorite breakouts were led by Karen Alexander-Doyel and Steve and Debbie Williams. I can't wait to share my notes with you! They were just incredible and so unusually wise.

 During our dinner break, we met up with Shay and Erika! I know Erika through my friend Whitney (who is Erika's cousin) and I FEEL like I know Shay because I enjoy her blog so much! We had a great time talking about every topic imaginable. Love these girls!

The whole group! Happy Birthday, Jenn!

When the conference ended on Saturday afternoon, we drove to the big mall in Nashville and ate at Cheesecake Factory and then did a little shopping! It was the perfect ending to the weekend. I think we were all the best kind of tired: we had talked, laughed and learned so much that we were about to collapse! :)

I am praying that LifeWay continues with DotMom - otherwise I'll be starting a conference of my own! Ha! I love learning in a conference setting and I just love hearing godly wisdom from others. It was also so encouraging to see over 1,000 moms in one room just collectively encouraging each other. It really gave me motivation to bring back what I learned, and God certainly used DotMom to refresh me!

September 22, 2014

Beach Trip 2014

I'm still catching up with posts, but I wanted to quickly share that I just got back from LifeWay's DotMom conference and it was incredible! I learned SO much and had such a refreshing and fun time. I'll share a recap with a few pictures soon! I was inspired in lots of ways, which makes me really excited.

Back in June (yes, I'm that far behind) we went to Gulf Shores with my family and had such a great time!

Lynley spent time with Kurt's parents while we were away, and it ended up being SUCH a wise decision! She had a wonderful time and we knew it would've been hard for her if she had come. Next year I think she'll have a great time, but she was still a little too young this year! We had a fairly uneventful trip…..

We drove straight to LuLu's to catch up with my family - they had been there for about a week before us!

Papa and Leeler discussing something very important :)

The next day we hit the beach!!

That evening we ate at Doc's Seafood. It's not of the "big hitters" as far as restaurants go, but we love it because the food is good and there isn't a crowd (it's a little off the beaten path)!

We hit up Target for some things we were needing!

And no trip is complete without Rita's!

The next day was one of my favorites because we just hung out together as a family at the pool where my family was staying. It's just a fun memory because we were all in the water laughing and playing together. Several times I thought to myself, "Enjoy this - pretty soon everyone will be off in different directions!" It's a special time right now for me because none of my siblings are married, and in a lot of ways it still feels like it did growing up. I can't WAIT for them to start their own families but selfishly it's still fun for them to feel like my little brother and sisters. :)

That evening we ate at Tacky Jack's and had a great time!

After dinner we randomly decided to play put put and it was SO FUN! I think it's a unique thing to "play" together on vacation - it's just not something you normally do together every day - and we laughed so much!

Be warned if you ever play put put with my brother: he is HARD CORE.

 Our final day we just swam in the condo pool and relaxed. That evening we had a wonderful dinner together!

My favorite part of the trip was getting so much quality time with Evy, Liam and Kurt. We definitely felt incomplete without Lynley there, but I loved being able to focus on my older two and just enjoy them! It was a wonderful time and I can't wait until next summer!

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