Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Nest

I sorta can't even believe I'm blogging about this right now. My history of finishing spaces is not good. I think I've fully decorated a room approximately three times in my entire adulthood. One was Bennett's nursery and there was a guest room before we had kids. The other was a tiny powder room bathroom in our last house. I also did one little shelf on one wall in our last house too. My lack of decorating is ridiculous because I absolutely love doing it. My two huge hurdles have always been perfectionism and a very small budget. I would rather a space sits empty than to be decorated with cheap stuff I don't love. But that leaves me with empty spaces that I also don't love. Quite the conundrum. A dear friend of mine sent me a copy of The Nester by Myquillyn Smith, when I asked on Instagram if anyone had one I could borrow. That book, combined with a friend coming into my home to photograph me for a project he was doing, were the two things I needed to get my butt in gear and get my living room decorated.
My personal aesthetic falls somewhere between Ashley Campbell's and Kirsten Niemann's. (I definitely lean more towards Kirsten Niemann's. In fact, I'd be happy to just move into her house as-is. But I reeeeallly can't afford to make it look like that and Ashley's colorful, thrifty, anything-goes decorating mentality has rubbed off on me. Hers is far more attainable for an average budget.)
So here's a little tour of the decorating I've done in our townhouse that we're renting. (Our long term plan is to find land in the country to build a modern farmhouse on but we still haven't found the right property so here we stay for the time being. It has plenty of space. We're just lacking a backyard, which has been very difficult with my three boys. If they're outside, I have to be out there with them.)
Here's the little shelf our TV sits on. I plan on painting the whole thing a dull aqua with some chalk paint but that's not in the budget yet. Having books around makes me happy. And I've found that decorating with antique books is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to fill some space. I usually pay between $3-$6 for an antique book. The antique clock and camera were both gifts from my mother-in-law. Our library books and movies sit on the bottom shelf.

We invested in this couch when we were first married and I'm thankful we did. It's now eleven years old and I'm still happy with it. It's absolutely covered in spots and stains and has been peed on more times than I can count but has otherwise held up well to the daily beating provided by my three boys. I'd probably pick something in gray tweed now but I'm thankful it's neutral and the shape is timeless. That giant coffee table was another pre-kid purchase. The top stays empty for playing and eating since it also serves as our kitchen table until we can get some tall bar stools because there's no room for our farm table in here.
I've had that lamp for about eight years. I've thought about painting the silver parts brass but then my lazy side tells me to watch Parenthood instead. My former self would hate that it didn't really "go" with everything but that's where people like Ashley have influenced me. I like that it's not all matchy matchy. It's just been gathered over time and it works. The green owl is from West Elm and was a gift. (If there's ever something specific I want for the house, I just ask for it for my birthday or Christmas.) Those faux bois pillows were actually one huge floor pillow cover I got for $16 on clearance at Pottery Barn. It sat in a closet unused for a couple of years and then one day it dawned on me it could be cut apart and turned into two pillows. My mom found some backing fabric and made the covers for me. The other throw pillow was a very recent find from Target. I normally wouldn't even "splurge" on a $20 pillow but it was absolutely perfect to me so I got it. I love the colors so much. Now I need two more pillows for the side chairs in some brightly colored modern floral or print.
And here's the gallery wall. I started collecting frames over a year ago. I would buy one that I loved here and there at Target when I could afford it and then bought a few at Ikea. I found that round mirror on clearance at Target and I had that tin ceiling tile for years. The print in the center was a gift from my friend, Katy. I absolutely adore it (and her). Find her shop here.
I did the embroidery myself (inspired by this shop that is currently closed.) I need to add some little olive branches like parenthesis on the sides but I needed to hang it so I'll finish that eventually. Those zinc letters are currently at Michael's for only $7.99! Go get yourself one. (And pull up a coupon on your phone before you checkout.) I have to share just how much of a perfectionist I am. I actually wasn't going to buy it. It really bothered me that the bottom was flat and meant to sit on a shelf, not hang on a wall. I was afraid it would look weird. But Myquillyn's catch phrase rang through my ears: "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." So I ignored my inner-perfectionist and bought it. It was the perfect addition and I love it.
The little deer head was from The Land of Nod. Another gift. I bought the frame to go around it at an antique store. I love hunting for something and finding just the right thing. I love the mix of modern and vintage.
The cheapest way to fill a frame? Have your kid paint a word you love. Or have them paint the word, love. Either way, it works and it's cute. (Not my idea. I think I stole it from Life Made Lovely. Her instagram feed is filled with all kinds of gorgeous vignettes.)
This green chair in the following picture was possibly the happiest accident in the whole room. My little sister, Claire, bought it at Goodwill. Thankfully she's not as much of a perfectionist as I am. She bought it because it was cute and cheap and someday she would use it, not because she needed it. She's currently living with my parents in Memphis and needed somewhere to store it so it's been in my garage for a couple months. It dawned on me that it would be the perfect size for this room. So now I'm "storing" it for her in my living room instead of the garage. I'm kinda hoping she doesn't move into her own place for a long time because I've fallen in love with it and its indestructible green vinyl. That'll be the only chair Channing's allowed to sit in when he's being potty-trained. Oh, and I've had this rug on top of carpet in the last two houses. It might seem odd at first to put a rug on carpet, but it adds tons of character to the space and pulls it all together. I've had it for about eight years. I'm sure I would pick something a little more modern and quirky now but I still like it.
This chair is covered in spots and stains too but it just adds to its charm. 
Here's the mantel of our strangely positioned fireplace. It's simple and I love it. You can read the story of how we got this ocean painting at the very bottom of this post. A piece of my heart lives in California and now a piece of California lives in my home. White metal pitcher: Ikea. (About $12 maybe?) Coral: really old from Z Gallerie.
 Full shot of the tiny fireplace with odd floating mantel:
I took this picture of Dawson and Jon on this trip to Florida a couple of years ago. It felt like such an accomplishment to get some photos printed and fill some frames! Also, photos are so dang cheap to print, which is fantastic. Take some (or ask a friend who has a nice camera to) of your kids not looking at the camera or posing. Then they'll feel like art.
When I first got the painting, I wanted to repair the frame and maybe paint it. Now I'm in love with the way it's all beat up:
And a shot of that whole side of the room. There's a patio door to the left of the fireplace and our front door is around the corner the right. That window looks out onto the pond. It was a strange layout but I think it all works. I have two of those giant brown chairs that we bought shortly after the couch. I don't mind them but I was hating how matchy our furniture was. Plus the second brown chair didn't really fit in here. Substituting that green chair for the other brown one made a world of difference. I should probably just sell the other brown chair since I don't necessarily want a set of them anymore. These are the chairs I'm dreaming about.
So thankful for these words that spoke right to me from The Nester: 
"At times, good enough and done is a smarter choice than perfect, and simply making a choice is often a sign of maturity, balance, and contentment." 
Holy moly, I loved that. Is everything in this room exactly what I want? No. Absolutely not. If I were given an unlimited budget, it would definitely look different. But the thing is, I absolutely LOVE this finished space. It's kinda perfect to me just the way it is. It makes me so happy to walk in and see it every day. It feels cozy and homey and welcoming. I'm proud of my thriftiness and patience and most of all, contentment with what I had to work with. I also feel more of a desire to keep it tidy. If it's not pretty to begin with, it might as well just be a total wreck because who cares? But now it's pretty and I want to keep it that way. Now, on to the rest of the house. I have no idea how much longer we'll live here but in the meantime I want to enjoy it. Next up...the boys' room. I have lots of stuff to hang in there already. I just need to keep this ball rolling!


  1. I think it looks lovely! :) You did a great job! Good taste!

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  3. It looks great! I am currently in the "everything is out of the boxes, but nothing on the walls stage" which is the worst for me. A lot of my old stuff isn't what I want to decorate with this time around. Sadly, the only way to change styles is to let it morph over time... in which I am so inpatient. Your gallery wall is an inspiration for me!! I really need to read this book you are talking about!!

  4. ethan smith needs a new avatar. anyway, it looks great! i adore you too.

  5. I have the same perfectionist problems when it came to decorating. Re-doing our house has made me face that head on, because I HAD to make decisions. That gallery wall is fresh! Love it!


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