Archive | October, 2015

Rethinking Home: Points of Frustration

No home is perfect.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Did you build your own home?  Did you design it?  Can I please ask you if it is perfect and fulfills your every house-dream come true?  I just have this sneaking suspicion that the answer is going to be no.  I think homes are just like everything else- imperfect.  Though I do agree that some, due to ingenious design or beautiful decor may seem more perfect than others.  You know, the ones with the huge pantries or the outlets inside the bathroom drawers.  I knew someone with a house that had all of the bedrooms upstairs and so the laundry room was up there too.  Brilliant, right?  Seems like a simple thing but not to the mom who’s constantly dragging everyone’s laundry downstairs.  Whoever thought of that was a design genius.

Now maybe  you can’t reroute your laundry room to the upstairs (or maybe you can!), but maybe there’s something frustrating you over and over again that you could fix?  Maybe it just takes a little brainstorming, a little rethinking of your home, a little going outside the box?

Rethinking Home :: Points of Frustration

I recently listened to an interview with Gabrielle Blair, blogger at Design Mom (you can catch the interview here if you’re interested) and she was talking about this very thing.  She gave an example saying that if your bedroom is set up in a way that you’re waking up and stubbing your toe on a dresser every single morning, that just puts you in a bad mood.  Then you go out and see your kids and you’re already frustrated.  If this is happening every single day, why not move the dresser or get a new one?  Or if you’re yelling at your kids every morning because they can’t find the hairbrush.  Why not buy a few more to keep in different bathrooms in the house?  Spending maybe $15 to stop yelling at your kids every morning?  Sign me up!

She gave those examples to illustrate a bigger idea- that when you look for the repetitive triggers of frustration throughout your home and try to solve them, they can really help create this calm and well designed home that we’d all like to have.

So I’ve pinpointed a few of those “triggers” for me.  I’ve discovered that in our home and for me, the points of frustration have to do with a drop spot, dirty socks, and “smalls.”

  1.  The Drop Spot:  This one is huge.  Every home needs a drop spot in my opinion.  When you come in the door, you have things you need to drop- keys, backpacks, wallets.  A lot of times you need to deal with those things- like mail, homework, receipts, etc.  But sometimes you just don’t want to deal with those things yet, you just want a place to put them for a while so you can rest your weary self from the outside world and put your feet up for a while.  Here enters the drop spot!  This cute little back pack/purse/jacket spot is from my friend Julie’s house.  I love those hooks she hung up!  Below that is my foyer.  The baskets are for my kids shoes and the tray is for my man-keys, wallet, sunglasses- all corralled into one rectangular tray.  Hallelujah for the drop spot!Backpack drop spot :: The House of Figs
  2. The Drop Spot : The House of FigsDirty Socks:  We have a spot for shoes when my kids walk in.  But surely they couldn’t be expected to put their dirty socks all the way upstairs in their hampers?   Or maybe into the laundry room?  Its just a few steps away!!  The dirty socks on the couch, on the rug, sometimes even outside were driving me batty. And I was becoming that nagging mom- put away your dirty socks!  Finally, I came up with a solution. Why not use one of these little baskets for dirty laundry, too?  Okay, its a little unconventional to have a dirty basket in your foyer, but its hidden and oh so convenient.Rethinking Home : The House of Figs
  3. “Smalls”:  These are the little papers, crafts, legos, you know, the tiny things that have a place somewhere but not here and no one really wants to put them away right this minute.  Those small things don’t bother me so much when I have a place to temporarily keep them, so the tray in our foyer also pulls double duty during the day when not being used as the man drop spot.  In ideal world, my kids would grab their littles from this spot at the end of the day and return them to where they go, but that doesn’t always happen of course.  Things do pile up and we do a clean up sweep every once in a while, but just having a temporary place for them to stay helps in a big way.Corral the Smalls :: The House of Figs

An area where I still need some work:  Paperwork.  I tend to deal with mail pretty quickly as it comes in- throw out the junk and deal with what I need to deal with.  But school paperwork is another story.  It piles up and has been pretty hard for me to handle!  There’s just so much of it especially with having two in school this year!  I have this hanging in between our kitchen and breakfast nook that I use but truthfully, it rarely gets checked and cleaned out.

Paper Organization : The House of Figs

I end up just making a pile on the kitchen counter because that will motivate me to look at it, deal with it, and clean it up.  Anyone have any school paperwork solutions for me?  I’d love to hear!

And what are the spots in your home that trigger frustration for you?  How can you rethink your home to make it work for you?

As always, thanks so much for reading, hope you have a wonderful weekend and a Happy Halloween!



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Three Things I’m Loving

Every once in a while (okay, this is only the second time) I like to share a few things I’m loving.  See the last post here.

So the first thing I’m loving lately is Netflix.  I know I’m totally late to the party here!  We had Netflix back in the day when it involved DVDs being sent to your house and there was an added fee for streaming.  We cancelled it and have been using Amazon Prime ever since, but recently just started the one month free trial.  I think I’m hooked!  We’ve been watching Chef’s Table (obsessed!) and just recently True Cost.  I highly recommend both.

Netflix Favorites :: The House of Figs


I love it when Paul and I find shows/movies that we both enjoy watching together.  We don’t have a TV in our bedroom, which I’m okay with, but its fun to snuggle up in bed with the laptop and watch a good show!  Any good recommendations are welcome!

Okay the next thing I’m loving is this amazing painted tile from Mysha at Remington Avenue! What a way to rethink renovation!! You can find the step by step tutorial along with pictures over on her blog here. Can you believe this is painted on?? Absolutely gorgeous.

Painted Tile- Remington Avenue


Lastly, I’ve been loving these for a while- antique rugs.  They are everywhere in the design world right now.  Here are a few of my favorite recent finds from around the web…

Kitchen Rug


Foyer Rug


Living Room Rug


Dining Room rug


They are so versatile (hello, every room in the house!) and add so much color and texture to an otherwise neutral space. They also add a richness and I love the juxtaposition when paired with modern furnishings and accessories.  Contrast is my favorite.

So that’s it for me today. What about you?  Three things you’re loving right now- it can be anything!  I’d love to hear from you!

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Rethinking Home: Toy Storage

This is my third post in the Rethinking Home series.  You can find the other posts here.

I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I love the idea of having attractive and creative toy storage in the main living areas, especially for a stay at home mom who is primarily home playing with kids during the day.

Toy Storage // The House of Figs

(This is from a client’s living room, see the rest of the room here)

But as my kids get older and two of them are in school all day, I’m realizing this idea still remains true for me.  I want to be intentional about the hours we spend together so I still want there to be a space for their games, books, and activities in our main living areas.  I don’t want my kids to immediately retreat upstairs after being gone at school all day to the distant playroom for video games or all their toys & books.  Does this mean I have to sacrifice my living room and turn it into an all kid hang out space?  Not at all.

When you have preschoolers, does this mean it has to look like a daycare all the time or like a toy store blew up?  I don’t think so.  With a reasonable amount of creative storage, and rethinking the idea of your home as a place for your entire family (its your kids’ home too!) I feel like you can achieve a look you enjoy and make an intentional space for everyone.

The House Of Figs - Kraus Haus Small_2wm

(Metal baskets under the coffee table in this living room are great storage for books and puzzles.)

So here are a few ideas I’ve come up with for rethinking the idea of toy storage in your home.

  1. Purge:  If your family is like mine you probably have too many toys.  Get rid of some- they probably won’t even notice.  Even after you do that, not every toy your child owns has to be in the living room.  Be selective.  Rotate things out.  As stuff makes its way downstairs, every once in a while I go through the baskets and do a big sweep and have them take their things back to their rooms and the playroom, leaving only a few favorites downstairs.
  2. Bring in attractive storage: Use baskets, decorative bins, bookshelves, even ottomans.  We even keep a canvas bin on our stairs for things that need to go back to the designated kid spaces.
  3. Corral the small stuff: We have a tray in our foyer and a tray on our coffee table.  When I step on a tiny lego during the day I can throw it on the tray and my son can take it upstairs before bedtime. When my husband comes home from work, he can drop his keys, wallet, loose change, etc in the foyer tray.  Any time small things like that are corralled into a defined space they look and feel less junky and more like they are part of a system.
  4. See the toys & books as part of your decor, not something that competes with it: Decorate with what you love and decorate for your family.  When you use bright color and pattern and don’t worry about sticking to a specific color “scheme” or “theme” the toys and books are better able to blend right in.  They are just a part of life and make a home feel lived in and natural- less like a show home or model home and more like a place you (and your family) really want to be!

Rethinking Toy Storage // The House of Figs

Like I shared earlier this week, our living room bookshelves house books for everyone and the bottom few shelves store games and toys as well.  In the spirit of full disclosure though (you know I like to show the real deal), it is not always pretty back there.

Behind the Shelves

But I can tell you everything does have a place either here or upstairs and when it starts to get like this, I know its probably time to purge and/or bring some things back up.

Lauren Liess (one of my favorite designers & bloggers), talks a little about this idea in her new book Habitat.  (By the way, the book is amazing and beautiful, I highly recommend it!!!) She says family rooms “should be stylish, comfortable and able to stand up to wear and abuse.  They should not only look good, but also be simple to maintain with easy to care for materials and plenty of storage to corral all the items that make their way into the space.”  She goes on to say that in her house they have what they call the five-minute rule, meaning that “I’ve made sure to include enough storage in each room that anyone can clean up a mess in five minutes or less.”

All of this I love.  Five minutes or less?  So doable.

 Our family rooms are meant to serve us, not the other way around.

Are you a slave to your family room?  Do you feel like you’re constantly telling everyone to “get that stuff out of here?” Or clean up their mess?  Maybe there is a way to rethink how that mess is cleaned up or how the storage is approached.  Perhaps the decor scheme, while a lovely and serene one, is only inclusive of one person’s tastes and collectibles. If it is a family room, should it not reflect an atmosphere conducive to family time?  I feel like this can be achieved simply by adding in a little bit of color and pattern- maybe with throw pillows, a few books around the room, etc.  Also choosing durable fabrics and materials makes it family-welcome as well!

Just some thoughts to ponder here.  I’d love to hear what you think!   Let me know in the comments or if you have a picture of how you are rethinking home, share it with me on instagram!  Tag me (@thehouseoffigs) and add #rethinkinghome to your picture so I can see it.  Thank you so much for reading!

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Living Room Tour

I realized I hadn’t really shown you my living room since we made a few updates to it, so today I’m sharing new pictures (along with sources at the end of the post).

Living Room // The House of Figs

The major update is that we sold our round ottoman (see the old pictures here) and replaced it with an actual coffee table.

Living Room // The House of Figs

We loved the ottoman and it was great for when we had littler kids but we had been wanting more space for drinks and books, especially because there really isn’t room for end tables with the sectional.  Also, our older kids are at the age where they like to play games and color in here.  Its been nice to be able to accommodate that now!

Home // The House of Figs

I purged some of the books and rearranged just a few things on the bookshelves.  The bottom few shelves house kids toys and books in baskets and bins.  I love having toy storage in the living room.  More on that later this week.

Bookshelves // The House of Figs

Even though I don’t really do seasonal decorating, I did find a few branches I liked at Hobby Lobby and those pumpkins on the mantle are real ones from the grocery store.  A few of the pillow covers have been changed out too to add to a cozier fall-ish feeling (the weather here in TX is finally starting to match too, hooray!)

Living Room // The House of Figs

Like I shared in this post, I brought down the ottoman from our youngest son’s room and I love having it in here now.  I keep that little side table empty.  Its so nice to have empty space, its just inviting.

Living Room // The House of Figs

Have I mentioned there used to be a window over the fireplace?  That was weird, you can read about that here.

Here are a few of the sources for the room:

Wall color: Olympic Willow Springs

Mantle color: Olympic Silver Dollar

HOME letters: Found in Round Top, TX

Bookshelves: Ikea Hemnes

Coffee Table & white lacquered tray: West Elm

Pouf: Amazon

Curtains: Ikea Ritva

Black & White pillow & blanket: Ikea

Roman Shades: Select Blinds

Gray Chair: Ikea

Rug: Rugs Usa

So that’s it for the living room!  One quick little fun thing… I’ve just recently joined Periscope and yesterday afternoon as Paul was taking these pictures I did a quick little broadcast of behind the scenes of the shoot.  Find me by searching for @thehouseoffigs!  The broadcast is still available for 24 hours after its created.  My camera work was a little shaky- sorry about that.  Still figuring the whole thing out. Are any of you on Periscope?  Come find me!!



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Rethinking Home: Rethinking Renovation

Today is the second post in my Rethinking Home series.  Find the first post here.

Today I’m sharing with you a room in my house you’ve never seen before.  Its not in my house tour because, well, I guess I haven’t deemed it house tour “worthy.”  I’d like to do something to it, but I just haven’t figured out what to do yet.  It needs some updating and yet those updates feel overwhelming.

Master Bathroom :: The House of Figs

This would be our master bathroom. Our home was built in the year 2000 and the room hasn’t been touched much since then, except a few cosmetic things. We had wallpaper removed and painted it a neutral color when we first moved in (my favorite gray).  We also added some towel hooks, hung up a few things on the wall, and I always love adding in some greenery.

Greenery in the Master Bath :: The House of Figs

The natural light is nice and I’m so glad the tub and shower surround are white and bright.

Bathroom Vanity :: The House of Figs

The grout is old and cracking, the vanity is low, the countertops are yellowing, and the plumbing needs work.  I’d also love to update those mirrors and light fixtures.  I’m sure the vanity wood is not real wood, because the paint that covers it is peeling off not in the way paint peels.  Vinyl or something I guess?  I don’t really know much about it but it doesn’t seem like something I can just paint over.

Master Bath Cabinets

We had a contractor come look at it and give us an estimate to gut it all and start fresh, keeping the same footprint but really making all our dreams come true for the space.  One of the most concerning parts is a thin crack running all the way down the room that’s also starting to creep up the base of the toilet.  Floor Crack : Rethinking Renovation

The money required was enough to make our jaws drop and since then we’ve done nothing.

But why does it have to be all or nothing? We have decided that this is our house.  Its not perfect and of course it never will be, but we want to invest in it (and fix any issues it has) and I know that bathrooms and kitchens make the most difference for resale value.  We also are the ones living here now, so we’d like to enjoy it for ourselves too and not just fix it up for someone else to enjoy if we sell it one day.

So I just need to rethink this idea of renovation.  Renovation does not have to mean all or nothing.  It can definitely mean doing something and maximizing the results with just a few changes.  I mean, doing something is better than doing nothing, right? I don’t know why I’m having a harder time with this all or nothing thinking in my bathroom, because I was able to do it with our kitchen.

My Kitchen // The House of Figs

There was no major renovation that took place, but we changed out the floors and the backsplash and had the cabinets painted.  We added texture and charm, color and pattern.  I had a vision and then we made it come together on the budget we had.

So for now I’m in the dreaming stages but I’m also trying to think more creatively and open my mind to how I can change this bathroom without thinking it has to be all our dreams coming true or nothing at all. Here are some bathrooms that I love.  You know I’m a contrast girl, but I also love a casual, almost bohemian feeling.

Lonny Bathroom


Owens & Davis Bathroom


Bohemian Bathroom


I’m not exactly sure what will happen in this bathroom, but I know that we don’t plan to go into debt over it and that it doesn’t have to live up to perfection or dream home status to be beautiful and work for us.  While we still plan to wait a while to save up money and dream on Pinterest, we are definitely not waiting to discover oil in our backyard or win the lottery (which would mean it would never happen).  We’re rethinking renovation and in the process rethinking home.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

Rethinking Renovation

What about you?  How have you rethought renovation for your home?  Have you done a facelift to a room that didn’t require a huge, all out Fixer Upper style renovation?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments or see it on instagram!  Tag me (@thehouseoffigs) and use the hashtag #rethinkinghome to share it!

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How I Used Chalk Paint to Update my Banister

I’ve gotten some questions about my banister recently.  I mentioned it briefly in this post about my favorite paint colors and you can also see it here in the post about my art nook but I thought I’d share a little more today about how I actually painted it.

I hated our banister color.  It was this orangey oak.  Here’s the best before picture I could find, I know its small and grainy, but at least you can see the color. bannister before

The thought of sanding and priming all of that sounded awful to me though. All those curves and angles, just ugh!!  I know, I’m totally whining.  Whenever Paul or I get whiny about something that truly doesn’t matter in life we quote a line from You’ve Got Mail to one another.  Its from that scene where they’re stuck in the elevator and think they may never get out. Everyone is sharing deep moments from their hearts and Parker Posey’s character is digging through her purse and exclaims, “Ugh! I can’t find my tic-tacs!”

You've Got Mail So yeah, I had a “can’t find my tic-tacs” moment about the banisters.

And its because I know it isn’t something that matters that much in the history of my life and it also isn’t something I wanted to invest that much time or money on.

So here enters chalk paint.  It requires no sanding or priming.  Oh, and apparently you can make it yourself pretty easily and cheaply. Perfect!

Chalk Paint :: The House of Figs

I am totally not a DIYer as you may have discovered from this blog.  I don’t really do crafts and we hire out when jobs are too big for us.  But like I’ve already said, this wasn’t really something I wanted to spend lots of money or time on, so I just did a quick google search and found a great and inexpensive recipe for chalk paint.

That was all I needed to give it a go.  You can’t really ruin something you already can’t stand, right? So here’s the recipe I used:

2 parts paint plus 1 part calcium carbonate

I ordered this Calcium Carbonate on Amazon and it has lasted me for a LONG time.  I think I used around a cup of paint for the entire bannister.  The color is my favorite gray, Olympic’s Silver Dollar.  Now just a little warning, from what I understand, this recipe is not the greatest when you are planning to do distressing.  I knew I wanted a clean and modern look so I wasn’t concerned about that.  See other recipes for making your own chalk paint here.

Chalk Paint Bannister :: The House of Figs

I didn’t use a different brush or anything, just a regular old paint brush. I had to do a couple of coats, and did end up needing to put little circles of tape on all the white spindles (ugh!!) but it was worth it in the end.  No sanding, no priming.

After painting, I wanted it to be super durable, so I covered it with a couple coats of a satin polycrylic.  This is similar to a polyurethane but its waterbased so it doesn’t change the color at all and it gives it a nice sheen and protective coating.  We’ve had it this way for over a year and it has held up nicely.


After doing the bannister, I loved it so much that I decided to do it on my mantle as well! It only took one coat because it was already white.

Mantle with Chalk Paint :: The House of Figs

Wall color:  Olympic’s Willow Springs, Mantle & banister color:  Olympic’s Silver Dollar

Fall Mantle: The House of Figs

So there you have it, pretty easy and super cheap update to that old orangey-oak banister wood.  Have you ever used chalk paint on anything in your home?

Thanks so much for reading!



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Rethinking Home: Creating Space for Mornings

This is the first post in a new series I’m calling Rethinking Home.  My goal is to share different ways of making your home work for you and not the other way around.  I hope you will find both beauty and purpose in the weeks ahead…

Confession:  I am not a morning person.  I am not that mom who wakes up early before her kids and greets them with a smile on her face.  Another confession:  I am really trying hard to change this!  Last year, with only one in school, and that one being a boy child, he could wake me up with 30 minutes until that bus pulled up and we could be waltzing out the front door with time to spare.

This year is different.  I have two in school and one of them is my precious dear daughter who, bless her heart, takes after her strong-willed mother.  I’m guessing this is payback for all those struggles over hairstyles and outfits with my own mom back when I was a kid (sorry, mom!!) Thank the good Lord the 90’s era of big bangs is over so at least we’re not dealing with hairspray and curling irons, but I have come to learn I cannot roll out of bed at 7:15 and have my kids out the door at 7:45.  I also cannot do anything nicely with my opinionated daughter at that early hour when I have not even had time to drink my coffee or (ahem) put on a bra.

Walking to school

Here enters my need for an alarm clock.  There are admittedly a couple times a week when I keep hitting that snooze button, but when I actually get out of bed I’m able to put on said bra, change out of my colorful pajama pants for equally comfy but maybe a little more stylish black yoga pants, drink some coffee, and work on my bible study before I ever see my kids in the morning.

So to encourage myself to get up and get going, I need a little atmosphere.  I’m a beauty seeker.  I don’t want to wake up to last night’s dishes (which are sometimes still there).  I don’t want to wake up to a laundry pile or toys on the living room floor, you know what I mean?  It feels impossible at the end of a long day to take care of all of those things and get the house into order.

But it doesn’t feel as hard to carve out one little space and keep it sacred.

We’ve had this gray chair in our living room for a long time but I brought down the ottoman from the baby’s room (he’s two now).  I’ve started keeping this side table empty so I can rest my bible study things and my coffee there.  Creating this space cost me nothing but has made a huge difference in my morning.

Just knowing that this cozy and pretty spot is waiting for me invites me to sit, rest, read, & pray.

Ottoman :: The House of Figs

I read something that struck a chord with me several weeks ago on Instagram written by Ruth Chou Simons of @gracelaced. Ruth also blogs over at Gracelaced and has a beautiful shop full of original artwork.  She’s talking about husbands here, but I think its true for kids as well.  She said this:

“Who our spouse becomes in 20 years will be shaped significantly by the small and seemingly insignificant choices we make everyday in the words we say (or don’t say), in our touch (or lack of), and in acknowledging with our eyes: You are valuable for who you are not just what you do (or don’t do). From the same sky comes water that erodes in time or rain to a thirsty field of crops… let our words, touch, and eyes be thirst-quenching and not eroding. And reality check: it doesn’t come naturally… so let’s go to the Well that does not run dry… satisfy our hearts in You, first, Lord, that we might be a blessing to the ones who need us to be well watered women.”

Its not in my nature to be nice in the mornings.  But when I am filled with His grace, then I can pour it out on the little people around me.

I don’t want to be grumpy and snap at my kids every morning just because I haven’t had my coffee yet or because I woke up already feeling behind.

I don’t need to have the whole house cleaned up.  I don’t need to have lunches already packed or be ready to serve a full breakfast.  I don’t need to have things perfect or have my entire life in order before my kids get up in the mornings.  Just in rethinking my home and creating this little place of grace for myself in the quiet darkness of the morning, I am welcoming an opportunity to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  And that is all that I need.

Rethinking Home

*A little note for all you moms with little ones who may or may not be sleeping through the night but who generally make life exhausting:  please don’t feel pressured by this!  After seven and a half years of motherhood I am just now in the place where waking up before my kids is starting to make sense for me (and it still doesn’t happen every day!!).  How you seek the Lord doesn’t have to look exactly how I’m doing it or how someone else is doing it.  It may be a cry to Him in the wee hours while you’re rocking your baby for the fifth time that night.  It may be two verses read during nap time before you close your eyes in sweet solitude as well.  We’re not all in the same season of life, but may we all turn to the Well that never runs dry.*

So how do you create space for your mornings?  Or how do you create space to fill yourself up with grace?  I’d love to hear or see!  Leave me a comment here or share a picture on Instagram and hashtag it #rethinkinghome!

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