What I've Been Up to Lately

It's funny how, as a stay at home mom, I can look back on recent events and feel like I've done nothing and everything all at the same time. My kids made it through the winter sans frostbite, I got really good at finding creative places to hide dirty laundry, and my tiniest turned six months old. All pretty great accomplishments in my book.

I did, on a less comedic note, do some actual, productive things outside of my four walls. For the month of February, I was a sponsor for the incredible Thrive Moms network. It was an awesome feeling to see Pretty Little House featured in their newsletter and social media, and I loved knowing I was contributing to such an awesome organization. (If you haven't checked them out already, do.)

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And we really did have a few snow days that allowed my husband to stay home for a bit and some blissful family time to be had (no sarcasm intended).

I relaxed a little last month (and as I'm just now realizing, the first half of this month), but for [the remainder of] this month, I am focusing in on blog and business. Spring brings natural inspiration and new beginnings to me every year, so I want to write and design from that place. I'm really into florals and watercolors right now, as well as calligraphy, so we will have to see where that leads. I hope to see you around the blog!

My Real House

Just last week, some friends came over to shoot photos of my house for the blog. When they arrived, the house was (mostly) picture perfect. We didn't even get halfway through the shoot before my house was chaos once again.

I'm a clean person, obsessively so at times, and I feel much better when my house is orderly and ambient. But if there's one thing that having three kids has taught me, it's that a clean house is a mostly fruitless aspiration. I can spend hours cleaning and organizing, and my house usually still looks like Toys R Us vomited in my living room (and bedrooms, and bathrooms...).

Last week Thrive Moms posted a request on their Instagram for their readers to post a picture from their day and use the hashtag #thrivewhereistand. There couldn't have been a more perfect day for me to do this. I looked around at the chaos before me, captured, then posted these two pictures:

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...and this was only half the mess. I caught a couple more photos of the epically chaotic state my house was in:

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The responses I received overwhelmed me. There was no judgment. No snide remarks (like the ones I say to myself when I wake up and remember that I still haven't loaded that stupid dishwasher). Instead, I received encouragement, compassion, and even comical commiseration. I realized there is something about opening up and saying, "Hey, I'm weak" that brings people together and moves them to encourage and love one another. 

Sometimes I have perfect days when my kids drink homemade organic smoothies while they participate harmoniously in a Pinterest-perfect sensory activity. But I also have days where I feel like a referee in a boxing ring and a waste management specialist and a child psychologist and any other difficult profession you can think of (especially if it has to do with poop).

And this is what I took from the #thrivewhereistand challenge: I am so grateful for a movement that says it's ok to put a picture up of your total chaos/ugliness/weirdness and BE PROUD of it. Because there's more to this life than a clean house. And perfect kids. And a perfect marriage.

It's more important that we can look around and laugh and say "It's ok. Tomorrow is a new day." (See: Lamentations 3:23) That I can know that I'm not failing as a mom because my kids watched tv and ate pretzels for 3 hours. And that, most importantly, I'm not alone.

If you're sinking in self-condemnation and embarrassment because your house/parenting/marriage does not look pretty from the outside, please join me on the bandwagon of "Hey, it's ok. We are all imperfect." If you don't believe it's out there, just check out the responses to the #thrivewhereistand challenge. 

Week of Nurseries: Day 5 // Gender Neutral

I couldn't have nursery week without creating a gender neutral nursery. For those who choose to keep the gender a mystery until baby's arrival, or for adoptive parents awaiting a baby they have not met, a gender neutral room is a great option. But it can be difficult to stay in "the middle" without leaning more toward one gender.

To achieve a balanced look, I chose neutrals for the big items (crib, chair, fixtures), and accented with colors suitable for either gender. This also gives the ability to change out the accent colors later, without having to redecorate the whole nursery.

I really could have done an entire month's worth of nurseries. The possibilities are endless! And mamas, since I can't justify having a baby for each nursery idea I have (amiright?), I will be more than glad to design a nursery for your bundles of joy.

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Week of Nurseries: Day 1 // Modern Glam

This week, I am posting one nursery inspiration board a day, for all my baby mamas out there. One of the joys of bringing a new baby is getting to plan the nursery for your bundle of joy.

For the record, I'd love to hug the person that made it OK to decorate nurseries with brighter colors and edgier touches. Before I had kids, I thought nurseries were mostly decorated in pastel borders and teddy bear themes (maybe that was just called "the 90's").

First up is a bright, girly glam nursery.. There are a few splurges on the board, as you'll see in the product info below, meant mostly for inspiration. You could easily find more affordable alternatives with a little web searching (which for me, is half the fun).

I hope you enjoy! Come back tomorrow for another design!

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Finding My {Blogging} Voice

Recently I've been less motivated to post much here. Not for a lack of inspiration- I've got plenty of that. But because I have realized something: I haven't been writing from my true voice.

I've pressured myself to keep my blog about interior design, to make sure I sound professional enough, almost like I needed to sell something. While Pretty Little House is my job (that I love so much), and my goal for my blog is to interest people in my services, the job itself is only a small portion of my life. In the course of a day, about 5% of my life is about my job and the other 95% is about my life as a mom and housewife. This is the job I love the most. And I don't take a professional approach when it comes to talking about that job. I'm just really not a super serious person. I really enjoy finding the humor in the everyday craziness. For example, when I post something about tufted headboards or leather couches, half of me wants to make some joke like, "let me inspire you to choose another piece of furniture that will become a canvas for peanut butter art."

That's my voice. The funnier, sarcastic, lighthearted one. I love interior design and I want to interest others in my talents. But I don't want my blog to be solely about that anymore. I want to incorporate real life into the things that make up a pretty home... Like the fact that each carpeted room in my house has some sort of massive stain waiting to be professionally cleaned because of my Tasmanian Devil middle daughter. Or how my house is literally never clean anymore and by some miracle I am ok with that and not sitting in the corner drooling in the fetal position. That's what I want to share with you.

So here's to a new year of finding my blogging voice. I can't wait to begin.

Upholstered Headboards for $500 or Less

I love the look of an upholstered headboard. I recently made one for my girls' room, and it gives the room so much character and whimsy.

The price tag on many headboards can be $1,000 or more, especially with an attached footboard. I've hunted down a few upholstered beauties that will give your bed an elegant look for $500 or less.

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What to Do Wednesday: Natural Light

If you look at almost any Pinterest pin or magazine spread of a beautiful interior space, chances are that room has lots of bright, natural light. I was just working with a client last week that loves the light, airy looks that inspire her, but her home was built in a way that keeps natural light from coming in most of the main areas of her home.

So, what do you do when your home, architecturally speaking, doesn't allow for that kind of light input?

It is possible to compensate for a lack of windows and natural light and brighten your space to achieve that open, inviting look. Here are a few tips to help you get there:

1. A lighter color scheme. Paint, furniture, rugs and other textiles- you name it. The lighter, the better. If you can't afford all new furniture and decor, start with the paint. A lighter paint choice will instantly up the light scale.

2. Work from the ground up. If you have dark floors, choose a lighter rug to draw light from the floor of your space. Next focus on eye-level surfaces and seating areas (for example: tables, chairs, counter tops). If you are unable to replace or paint any of those, work with textiles to lighten those areas (throw pillows, couch covers, chair pads). Next, if there are any windows present, choose light curtains to add light from floor to ceiling. Hang them high to make the room feel taller. This will help give your space that "breath of fresh air" you feel when you see one of those dream designs. 3. Incandescent light. Obviously, bringing in table and floor lamps will help lighten the room. Be sure to distribute the lights throughout- a single lamp in one corner will make the darkness in unlit areas seem greater. Another note- overhead lights are often harsh and aren't the best alternatives for lamps. Avoid using overhead lighting if you want to create a more natural-light feel.

4. Balance. Don't forget to blend a few darker colors in your textiles and decor (for example, natural wood frames or dark + white mix-patterned throw pillows). You don't want your room to be a white-out. But by keeping the focus on a lighter color scheme, working from top to bottom, then carefully mixing in dark accents, you will have a perfect balance.

It wouldn't be fair for me to give advice without putting it into practice, so I created an inspiration board of some room-brightening decor choices.

Fall-Inspired Home Decor

Fall is my favorite season. I love it for its scents, changing leaves, football, crisper weather, food, and Thanksgiving. There is no season in which I am more inspired to decorate than autumn.

Adding warm, autumn-inspired touches to your home is easy and is certain to add a cozy element to your abode. I loved putting together this inspiration board of lovely fallish decor." All you need is a fire and a mug of warm apple cider and you're set until Thanksgiving!

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I'm Back + A Guest Post

Hi, all! I am so happy to be back from "maternity leave." To ease into things, I am busy this week doing mini-sessions from my October special. (Get info by following me on Instagram or liking my Facebook page.) Hopefully I will have some transformation pictures to post soon!

I'm still having trouble finding sufficient, uninterrupted time to write blog posts (I'm voice dictating this to my iPhone while I cuddle my sweet, sleeping baby). So, I asked my sweet friend Nancy to do a guest post for me.

Nancy and I have had conversations about our difficulty with choosing colors to put in our home. We both love neutral decor, so instead of fighting against her tendency to choose neutrals, Nancy embraced them and has made her home a perfectly balanced, neutral-pallet masterpiece.

Nancy wrote: "I've always been so confused about choosing a color scheme for my home. I've made many mistakes and have had many regrets. You can say I have color commitment issues, I'll fall in love with a certain shade then the next day I'm so over it! Or the season will change and all of a sudden that light blue I was drooling over doesn't seem to go with the fall weather!

I found myself lost and annoyed at the sea green curtains I had purchased along with the overkill of blue decorations everywhere in my house. I loved the color but it just wasn't me and I couldn't make it work!

Well then a light bulb clicked when I walked into Restoration Hardware. There were no "pops" or "accent" colors, no seasonal pumpkin orange or fuchsia for spring, everything was dreamy and neutral. Talk about fifty shades of gray, creamy whites, wicker baskets, industrial metals and gold accents, everything just came together so eloquently!

I knew I had found the perfect color scheme for my home, Neutral!

While Restoration Hardware was breath taking, it was also way out our league for our Ikea and Craigslist budget! I loved what they had going on with all the neutral decor but we wanted more of a laid back, modern and industrial feel as well. I was just so thankful to see that you could make your home beautiful with out having to add accent colors!

So here's how we started, we sold all our old decor and furniture we wanted to update and used that towards our little renovation. I felt like I could finally breath once those blue curtains were out of my house! My first big project was painting our walls gray and from there I spent endless nights getting ideas from Pinterest and searching for sale ads on Craigslist. We scored on some awesome like new stuff from Crate & Barrel, West Elm, World Market and Ikea! The Lord totally hooked it up! That saved us a ton of money and we were able to "splurge" on nicer chairs from Target and some Eames replica chairs from Amazon that my husband really wanted!

Our house turned out gray, neutral and lovely!

I know what some of you are thinking... "Blah, neutral is so boring..." but trust me, it doesn't have to be! Add fun and character to your decor by choosing different patterns and textures that stay within your neutral pallet. We used stripes, plaid and chevron along with black and a lot of white through out our home to make it feel a little more modern and open.

There's something about a neutral color scheme that is so peaceful, calm and inviting. Plus I can bust out my colorful seasonal decor if I'm ever itching for color and then put it away when I'm tired of it!

So where are you? Stuck in a rut with that shade of color that was all the rage a few years ago? Can't seem to figure out what to do with your home? Need a little bit of guidance? Well I know the the girl for you!"

Paperless Post // A New Favorite App

I love snail mail. I really do. But in this busy stage of life, it's nice to find a shortcut.

Screen shot from: www.paperlesspost.com

A few months ago, I discovered Paperless Post. It instantly drew me in with it's chic graphics and gorgeous selections. You can send invitations, greeting cards, and even announcements. It's not completely free, but you do get some free "coins" when you join, and it is really affordable to refill on coins. (Much easier than addressing and stamping 50 envelopes, no?)

Check out this design from J. Crew...

Or this one from Paper + Cup...

And Pei Designs...

I'm in love.

Baby #3's Nursery Plans

Hello, all! I am finally updating after a major motivation struggle. I hit my third trimester a few weeks back and all I can say is, "Wow." I am really feeling it! I had a great first two trimesters and then it was like I walked into a wall of exhaustion and laziness. Not to mention, summer in Texas is brutal on anyone's body, especially a 31 week pregnant lady's body.

In the spirit of baby talk, I am writing today about my plans for #3's nursery. After eight months of living in this house, we have done hardly any decorating in the room that will become the new baby's nursery. My other two girls are currently sleeping in this room, but I am transitioning them to another room that will become the "big girl room" (more on that in the future).

I've had the inspiration for this room ever since I spotted this floral Anthropologie wallpaper. It's pricey, so I am only doing an accent wall, but isn't it so feminine and sweet?

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Note that there is no glider/rocker pictured on this inspiration board. I love this classic Pottery Barn one, but it's out of my price range. I am planning to recover my existing rocker, with the help of my mom- hopefully I am successful and can post the result soon!

She Reads Truth: Ruth

Happy Tuesday, everyone (its only 12:07 am, but it still counts.) I'm venturing today to another non house-related topic...

Have you every heard of the online Bible study community, She Reads Truth? It's truly amazing. It is an eMinistry that provides free online Bible studies, as well as beautifully illustrated study packs you can order. (Check out this one that my absolute favorite blogger, Jones Design Company, illustrated for SRT). As soon as you click on the She Reads Truth homepage, you are welcomed with inspiring, feminine graphics and an organized menu of study options.

Screen shot from: www.shereadstruth.com

There are lots of ways to connect with other She Reads Truth participants, such as Facebook, and hashtags for statuses and Instagram captions. Its an awesome way for busy ladies in any stage of life to connect in a simple, yet meaningful way.

Yesterday, I began the new She Reads Truth study on Ruth. This study, like the rest of their studies available, are scripture-centered, yet short and to-the-point (which is exactly what this busy wife and mom needs these days). The Ruth series focuses on how our ordinary stories are made extraordinary through God's powerful plan. I especially love this premise, because it is the very foundation for Pretty Little House!

Therefore, I wanted to invite you to join me on this study of Ruth. I will be posting about it along the way, hopefully with a few parallels to homes/contentment/etc. I would love nothing more than to hear how God impacts your life through it!

What to Do Wednesday: Ugly Leather Couches

We've all seen them. Hand-me-down bachelor couches your husband just couldn't part with after your wedding. Cast-offs from your parents 90s "Santa Fe Chic" phase. Garage sale bargains you swore you'd only keep for a few months while you saved up for something else. I've heard so many stories of friends "stuck" with a leather eye sore couch, unsure how to decorate around it.

Don't get me wrong, not all leather couches are ugly. I've coveted this Restoration Hardware beauty for years. But stylish versions of these hide-covered monstrosities are few and far between.

If you have found yourself "stuck" with a leather couch (or couches) that you less than love, there is hope. You CAN find a way to love your space and be content with your unwanted sofa (even if it's bossy presence screams at you every time you see it).

Here are a few tips:

1. Choose neutrals. Let's face it: your leather couch is probably in the range of poop brown to burnt chocolate (or if you're really lucky, you own a black, white, or navy variation). You can try to fight against it, but attempting to mask the brown with a rainbow of colors will only make it look like you did exactly that. Instead, embrace a neutral and color palette that compliments the leather. If you must have color, choose one or two muted tones (such a a grayish plum or ashy teal), and pair those colors with the neutrals. Keep it simple; over accessorizing your couch to "cover it up" will only make it look like an overly-frosted cupcake. Which leads me to my next point...

2. Don't overpower with textiles. Pillows and throws are great accessories and can hide imperfections, as well as draw in the overall color scheme of the room. But as I mentioned above, throwing a mass of textiles over your couch will actually draw your eye towards it, instead of making it blend with the overall aesthetic. Choose a few pillows in the same or coordinating prints, and one throw maximum, and be sure to add pillows with the same patterns on other other seating, as well.

3. Match the scale. This may be the most important point yet. Don't attempt to put a petite, French country accent chair next to your bulky leather couch. It just won't work. Match the scale (size, height, appropriate width) of your existing couch. This will make your room seem more cohesive, and draw attention away from the leather sofa. A large chair and Ottoman in a neutral fabric, for example, will help your couch look like it belongs. (Disclaimer: If you are just starting out, or if your spouse or,roommate adores the leather couch, please know that I know you may not to have an opportunity to afford anything different, or find something you can both agree on. If you are ever able to obtain a complimentary piece, keep the scale in mind. Try to stick to your guns and remember your overall vision for the room).

To put my tips into practice, I created this mood board for inspiration. I hope it gives someone out there a bit of hope! Enjoy.

Utility Room Update + Temporary Wallpaper Fail

My husband thought I was crazy for wanting to decorate our utility room. It's an otherwise boring and mundane area one could easily overlook. But I love the welcoming feel of a decorated laundry room / utility room / storage space. It makes the area so inviting, which really can't hurt when it comes to laundry and housework-related spaces.

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I gathered my favorite elements from each picture and decided on what I specifically wanted in my pantry/laundry/utility room: • beadboard • shelves • baskets (lots of them!) • soft light fixture • wallpaper

Fortunately, our home was built with the pantry shelves. Such an awesome bonus! The floors were also existing, which I love having (easy to clean + pretty contrast).

The first step was installing the beadboard. My husband is so good to me, and he sacrificed time out of his busy schedule to install and paint them. We decided not to extend the beadboard between the shelves because, honestly, it would have been a lot of work!

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I picked out my wallpaper (see pic above) at Target. It was very affordable- around $30 a roll. Since half of our accent wall was taken with beadboard, I figured I would have a little left over to hang above the washer and dryer.

Here's where it gets sticky (pardon the pun). Wallpaper is just not an easy task. I knew this going in, but I thought surely my perfectionism coupled with my husband's expertise would give us a leg up. I was wrong!

We got one strip up with no problem. When we went to hang the other strip, we realized the pattern repeat was not designed so you could just start back up right next to where you left off. So instead, we decided to overlap it.

Worst idea yet. The paper crumpled and was uneven in places, and the more we took it off and re-adhered it, the more it damaged the existing paper and the new strip. We gave up after that.

But I'm determined to finish this project. I think it will look great if I do a little more measuring and tweaking. (And I will probably have to buy a second roll of wallpaper!)

What about you? Have you ever tried wallpaper, temporary or regular? I would love to hear your tips and tricks!