Friday, April 29, 2016

humble beginnings

“For years, you’ve watched everyone else do it. …And you envied them and said, ‘Maybe next year I’ll go back to school.’ And the years went by and this morning you looked into the mirror and said, ‘You blew it. You’re too old to pick it up and start a new career.’ This column is for you.
“Margaret Mitchell won her first Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind in 1937. She was 37 old at the time. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate for the first time in 1948 at the age of 51. Ruth Gordon picked up her first Oscar in 1968 for Rosemary’s Baby. She was 72 years old. Billie Jean King took the battle of women’s worth to a tennis court in Houston’s Astrodome to outplay Bobby Riggs. She was 31 years of age.
“Grandma Moses began a painting career at the age of 76.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh followed in the shadow of her husband until she began to question the meaning of her own existence. She published her thoughts in A Gift from the Sea in 1955, in her 49th year. Shirley Temple Black was named Ambassador to Ghana at the age of 47. Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel. She had just passed her 71st birthday.
You can tell yourself these people started out as exceptional. You can tell yourself they had influence before they started. You can tell yourself the conditions under which they achieved were different from yours.
Or you can be like the woman I knew who sat at her kitchen window year after year and watched everyone else do it. Then one day she said, “I do not feel fulfilled cleaning chrome faucets with a toothbrush. It’s my turn.
I was thirty-seven years old at the time.”    ~Erma Bombeck

Hello there. Thanks for dropping by. I'm not sure how to begin, so I guess I'll just jump right in. For the past few months, I've been trying to figure some things out. 

You see, I've known for quite a while that my kids would be going back to school and that would leave me with a fair bit of time on my hands. At first, this seemed like heaven. Unlimited time to devote to whatever I wanted! Freedom! The world is my oyster!!! I will finish writing my book!!! And then...... it actually happened. I had my son in preschool for a few days a week--not even full-time school yet, and there I was, alone in my house for the first time in years. At first it did feel amazing. I got to do all of the things I always wanted. I did work on my book. If I had had bon bons, I would have eaten them guiltlessly. I even gave into that guilty pleasure of watching what I wanted to watch on Netflix instead of cartoons including legos or little ponies. 

But after a few months something happened that I didn't anticipate. This whole "freedom thing" was not as freeing as I thought it would be. Mostly it was me looking at my empty house realizing that all I was doing was either cleaning or feeling guilty for not cleaning all of the time. Where was my delicious freedom?! forward through lots of late nights and long days spent trying to figure out what I actually wanted to do with that time. I only knew a few hard and fast facts. 1. I wanted, no needed, to work 2. I wanted it to be work that fulfilled my need to be creative 3. I wanted it to be flexible enough to allow me summers off with my kids, and to be home when they are home.

Only three prerequisites. Shouldn't be that hard to figure out, right? It is very possible that I'm just a little slow, but it was actually REALLY hard! I thought about going back to school and getting my Master's degree in English to hopefully teach at a community college. I thought about getting my teaching license to be a high school English teacher. But neither felt right. I didn't want to go into debt, put my family and myself through several stressful years, unless I was 100% certain that I was doing it for the right reasons, and that I would be sure to find a job, and that that job would definitely be what I wanted to do. I tried and tried to convince myself. But it never quite felt right. I felt too old to start something. I felt like all of my brain cells had been devoured by motherhood (a good cause, but a great devourer nonetheless). I was discouraged. It had always been my back-up plan. It was the only thing I knew I was really great at, and I used to love writing about literature and being a student. But would I love being a teacher? I started to have some serious doubts.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I suppose it's because all stories need a beginning.  As I have struggled through what I hoped to do with my future--how I could do something I loved while honoring my need to be creative, I realized that though I still love literature, and always will, I had grown and changed in the ten plus years since I graduated from school. I had always placed my value as being measured by my academic pursuits. 

But in those ten years, I also discovered that I have a deep and abiding passion for creating a home with interiors that reflect the family that lives there. It's the only type of "work" that has never felt like work to me. I find creating new spaces, new concepts for rooms invigorating and relaxing at the same time. I love finding furniture and giving it a new life--whether by making it over with paint, or using it in a unique way. But most of all, I LOVE to do all of this on a budget.

At first, I really just viewed this love as something that only professionals could do. I have no formal training as an interior designer. I am self-taught and I certainly cannot do professional kitchen mock-ups (but I could probably do an Ikea kitchen since I designed mine! ha!). So I didn't see how I could be useful. I thought that what I can bring to the table was something that anyone was able to do--visualize a space, use what a person has and build upon it, and create a space that reflects what that family loves and will best utilize in their day to day life. 

Then it dawned on me. There are plenty of folks who can afford a "real" interior decorator. But there are also plenty of folks who want to create their dream homes but can't afford a real interior designer. They have a budget. They have busy lives! They might only have one problem area that needs a little help. And suddenly I thought, that's me! I can help! I have fallen into that category too! And even though I am not professionally trained, that mostly means that I can do it for reasonable fees! I can even help long distance with the help of the internet! Many times all that people need is another pair of eyes-- someone to bring out their ideas, and do it all within a reasonable mom-of-kids budget! 

Not only that, but I also happen to have a best friend that has an amazing eye for design and loves it just as much as I do. I knew right away I had to get her involved as well. After talking about my idea, she quickly agreed to come on board. She has a darling newborn baby girl at the moment, so she will be very part-time for a long while, but we make a great team, and I'm so excited to embark on this journey with her as a sounding board and resource. She is awesome! (More about her on the side bar!)

Living Room Fresh Traditional

In order to get started (and if you've read this far, seriously, you're amazing), I decided to do three things. 1. Start this blog. Check! :) 2. Begin posting some makeovers I have done in the past with the homes I have owned. I will also begin sharing Polyvore boards that I have created for myself and other folks that have asked for my advice. 3. Begin building my experience and portfolio by soliciting several clients that I can help for free.

This (might be) where you come in! In my consult I would include a home visit with measuring (or a phone/email/skype visit if long distance), a sit down to discuss what style the client loves, what they hope for in the space, and what budget they have (and how much elbow grease they are wanting to put into the project). Once I have that information, I will create a mood board via Polyvore, a Pinterest inspiration page for the client, and then even help source and transform furniture for them from second hand sources if they are local! If the client is just looking for inspiration for something that they can work on as time and budget allows, I can do that too! All of this is in hopes that not only will this give me some great experience, but it will soon allow me to make this into a paying part-time creative work for myself!

It's a dream. It's risky. There's always the chance that no one will want to pay me, I realize that. But, I've decided that not trying at all because of fear is just ridiculous. And even if I just end up doing it for free for a long while, I know I will still love doing it.

So. That's the beginning of the story. That's me (and Katie!) taking a chance. And if you're willing to take a chance on us, and would like to take us up on my offer, contact me. I'm hoping to start with at least 5 projects to get me started. Like I said, these can be long-distance consults if you are willing to measure, take multiple photos of the space you need help with, tell me what you love, and communicate via email or skype or phone to go over everything. My contact page is listed on my blog sidebar. But if you are reading this at this beginning stage, you probably already know how to contact me anyway. :)

Fingers crossed! I hope you will follow along as I start this journey. Like I said, soon I will be sharing all of my and Katie's past makeovers, and hopefully not long after, a bunch of new consults as well!  


  1. Kudos and accolades ladies!! Jenn, I'm looking at the bedroom that you helped me arrange furniture in and you truly have a gift!! I love that you're doing this and wish you the best of luck! Can't wait to use your services (when we have finished saving for our basement/kitchen remodel!!) I'm so glad you're doing this. Share your gift for creating beauty to THE WORLD

  2. I need a few more consults for a few more rooms so if no one else volunteers I have five projects for you!

  3. You two are just the creative geniuses the weary world needs!
    Can you do this long distance, if I send photos?
    The church ladies are coming for a garden party next month, but if it rains, they will be in the (oh, no!) house! Right now, my sunroom and adjoining great room are decorated in 21st century electronic gamegear with accents of packing boxes!