My Living Room

My Living Room

The House of FigsI am loving this new view!  (See the before pictures in my previous post here) Every time I walk in, it make me smile.

I took this opportunity to restyle and clean up our bookshelves as well.  I love to read and we have tons of books.  Maybe I’ve said this before but books are one of my favorite things to decorate with.  They’re an easy way to add in color without being matchy-matchy.  They aren’t part of a “color scheme” they’re just part of life!  They make a room feel lived in and real, not like a showroom or a catalog.  I realize though that every book I own doesn’t need to be on display in our living room so I took some down because it was feeling a little cluttered and full.  Its nice to have a little white space, too.  I love that big “stick” thing on the left from Homegoods- I feel like it adds a lot of texture.  The top right jar is from Turkey, my husband got it on a mission trip.

The House of Figs

The bottom shelves that you can’t really see from the living room are full of books and toys for the kids.  Like I have said before, when you have preschool aged kids playing all day at home, its great to have an area in the main living room for organized toy storage.  Okay so maybe mine isn’t completely organized.  But at least from the main view it is tidy and out of sight, mostly.  Its nice at the end of the day to be able to toss everything onto those lower shelves and get it off the living room floor, couch, ottoman, etc.

You never really know what you might find back there, but here’s the behind the scenes view today: 

You know I like to keep it real! 🙂 Those baskets do help a lot but our toy collection always seems to overflow. You know how it is! And I’m totally okay with it.  The is the season of life I’m in and I embrace it!  I make our house work for us, not the other way around.  I do like to see a clean and clutter free living room from where I sit at the end of the day and I can accomplish that in a stress-free way by having my littles help pick up their toys and put them in some baskets and stuff them behind the couch.  Is it perfect? No. Does it work for us? Absolutely! That’s part of how we make our house a home.

The House of Figs

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you found some inspiration and maybe even some stress-free purposeful beauty. ❤

Bethany

The Thing About Before & Afters

The Thing About Before & Afters

I’m featuring a lot of before and afters lately… and have several more coming at you in the line up.  I just wanted to share my heart with you in between here and give you kind of the “real life” and behind the scenes look at things.  Several of these are projects that I completed six months to a year ago for friends and clients that we are just now getting around to photograph for the blog.  Before and afters don’t really happen within one week’s time frame (for me, anyway) and they are very much a process.

The House of Figs
Here’s a lovely “after” picture of my kitchen I posted a few weeks ago. But maybe today we should call it a “before.”

We all know that real life doesn’t always happen in “before” and “after” and quite frankly, neither does design.  There is of course always a before, a starting point, but the after is a little different. One of my favorite blogs is called House Tweaking and the tag line is “because home doesn’t happen overnight.” Its so true, in many senses.  The “after” of a room I design is in a constant state of change.  I hope that its being used by the clients: the pillows being smushed, the books being read, the toys being played with, the remotes getting lost in the couch cushions.  Laundry gets folded on the couch, tables are used for homework, sofa cushions get worn in, feet get propped up on that coffee table.  Life happens.

Here’s my kitchen in its current state this morning. The “after” shot, if you will.

Then also, the client, having maybe newly discovered their style, finds freedom to make some new purchases in the future, change things around a bit, add in a new frame here, a new pillow there, change a few things with the seasons.

Here is an "after" of my living I put on instagram a few months ago.  Today we'll call it the "before."
Here is an “after” of my living room I put on instagram a few months ago. Today we’ll call it the “before.”

And the after picture, you know, the ones I post here and on Instagram, the ones that you see in magazines, the ones that get pinned on Pinterest, well those are a different story all together.  Those pictures are highly examined and styled from every angle.  My husband is a professional videographer and photographer and it is a whole thing to get those pictures just right.  I examine every accessory and bring in some of my own as props to style the shoot. Those props don’t stay with the client after I leave- things like a few of my plants, design books, etc.  I move things around a little to get the best angle, clean things up a bit, you know, fluff the cushions and stuff like that.  And we are just amateurs at this- from what I’ve seen and read about magazine shoots it is similar but on a much larger scale.  No one has a perfect house.  It just doesn’t exist.  If it did, it would be a museum behind glass. Untouchable.

Here’s the “after” of my living room I snapped today. Can you spot my daughter behind all that laundry?

What makes a house great and inviting are the people that live there, the way the home is used, and the way it makes you feel when you’re in it. Of course a mess doesn’t create an inviting atmosphere and that’s not what I’m saying.  I do actually need to spend some time today tidying up… just a bit, haha. But being real does create that atmosphere. And would you believe I’m even inviting a friend over for lunch today and hosting a small group here tonight? In spite of the imperfections.  They know me, we share life together.  That’s what its about.  It isn’t about perfect.

So the point of the “after” picture? The magazines, the eye candy?  Its inspiration, its beauty, its food for thought. But may we never be deceived into thinking its some perfect elusive reality that we cannot attain.

Thanks for reading. ❤

Edited to add… I wrote this and took these snapshots on Wednesday morning even though I’m posting it on Friday so my “in real life friends” know that I don’t have small group tonight because I’ll be at a ladies’ retreat.  I’m super excited about it because the speaker is none other than Melanie Shankle from The Big Mama Blog!  If you’ve never read her blog or any of her books, you’ve got to check her out.  She’s hilarious and fun.  I’m so looking forward to the weekend!  Happy Friday!!

Thoughts on Beauty & Purpose

Thoughts on Beauty & Purpose

“All beauty is only reflection.  And whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down.  Do I have eyes to see it’s Him and not the thing?”  Ann Voskamp.

With all my talk of beauty here lately, my search for beauty, my eyes scanning the images of Instagram, Pinterest, and the big wide world of blogs, this quote from Ann has lodged itself in my brain.  Am I remembering the purpose of it all?  He created beauty.  It all came from Him.  Why does a room with a few glowing lamps feel so inviting?  What is it about symmetry?  Bringing the outdoors in?  Texture, color, contrast?  I know that styles and trends change but there is something universal about it all, isn’t there?

Everything here is a shadow, a foretaste, a glimpse in a hazy mirror.  A reflection, like Ann said. When we experience joy, relish in gratitude, happen upon beauty that is so overwhelming, is it not just a reflection of a greater and more fulfilling Beauty?

Another inspiration of mine, Christy Nockels, wrote on her website shortly after her home was featured in Better Homes & Gardens, “What a gift to share my home, all to the glory of Jesus. My prayer was that every dot would be connected back to Him…the conversation, the sense of rest, the music I played, the food I served, the laughter, and even our dogs roaming around bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. All of it somehow reflecting the creativity of my Creator.”

That’s it, that’s the purpose… “every dot connected back to Jesus.”  Lord, may it be so, from the Ikea curtains, to the laundry piles, the gallery walls, and the Saturday morning pancakes.  Every dot.

Thanks for reading, Happy Monday.

Trying to Frame a Horse

Trying to Frame a Horse

The week that I started this blog, I had a very vivid dream.  I dreamed we were living in a beautiful, pristine, glossy-magazine worthy home.  And we had this beautiful chestnut horse.  The horse was wild and free and absolutely stunning.  Rippling muscles, shiny black hair.  I know absolutely nothing about horses in my real life, but in my dream, this horse was just the most beautiful thing.  I just knew this horse would be the perfect thing to frame behind glass in my perfect home.  Now this is dream world, so I framed the horse as though it were actually possible.  After a few days of looking at the horse behind the glass, I watched it burst out to be wild and free again. But instead of running through the house to show off it’s beautiful muscles and shiny hair, it was moping and whimpering, hanging its head, barely walking.  In my dream, we had to call a vet and the beautiful horse had to be put down.  All because I had tried to frame the horse.

Maybe it sounds silly, I don’t know, but I still get chills thinking about this dream. It has really stuck with me. I’m no dream expert but it just seems like the horse has to do with creativity, art, or passion.

The minute I started this blog, I felt the weight, the glass, pressing in around me. I put it there myself: the incessant checking of stats, the self comparison, the sinking realization that there are a million other house bloggers out there doing this too. They do it better, have more followers, have better pictures, have a better website, and on and on and on.  The self-doubt, the anxiety, all of it, choking, pressing, stifling. It doesn’t take long for my breath to fog up the glass of this frame I put around myself and all of a sudden, I can’t see or remember what I’m doing here anymore.

That’s not to say a horse running wild in my house would be a good thing either.  I came across this by the wise Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts the other day:

“Stress and anxiety seem easier.  Easier to let a mind run wild with the worry than to exercise discipline, to reign her in, slip the blinders on and train her to walk steady in certain assurance, not spooked by the specters looming ahead.”

I’ve been tuned in to horse metaphors since having that dream, as you can see.  I’ve let the stress run wild. I’ve put the passion in a frame. I want this site, this little place I’ve dreamed about for a while now, to live up to my tag line and be what I started it to be: a place of beauty & purpose. I guess I’m not exactly sure what that purpose is just yet but I do know that I need to focus on what’s in front of me now, what God’s given me to do. I don’t have to strive and worry about having the best or newest ideas to show you. I just want to be who God created me to be. No pretenses. No frames.

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Thanks for reading.