Archive | January, 2016

Decorating UNschool: Rugs

New to this series?  Read the intro here and you can find the first day of “class” here.

Hey there!  Today’s UNlesson is all about rugs.  Don’t forget, this is all purely my opinion and not hard and fast rules.  Its simply what I’ve found to be true and what I prefer.  There are always exceptions to this and you will find them all over the wide web, and maybe even in your own home.  That’s great!  That’s why this is decorating UNschool.

But for what they’re worth, here are all my thoughts on rugs:

Rugs Dining Room Young House Love

Image source- Young House Love

Rugs help to define a space.  Even if you have carpet, it can be nice to layer a rug over it (yes you can definitely do that!) to define the specific area.  Rugs can bring in color or texture to a room that might otherwise feel pretty neutral or matte.  Couches and wall to wall carpeting can often be similar in texture and color or at least tone (neutral, earthy, etc).  Its nice to have something breaking it up, something either a different color, pattern, or texture (or all three!) that will act as a separation and contrast.

Rugs- Amber Interiors

Image Source- Amber Interiors

Rugs, (like light fixtures), usually need to be bigger than we think. If they are defining a room, they should be nearly as big as the room itself.  They act as a landing space for the furniture in the room and so the pieces of furniture should at least have their front feet on it (though I feel a media cabinet is exempt from this rule as seen below) so as not to feel like they are just floating in space.  Similarly, in a dining room, its best if all the chairs fit on the rug, even when completely pulled out from the table.

Rugs- Young House Love

Image Source- Young House Love

Rugs can tend to be expensive.  It may end up being one of the most expensive pieces in your entire room.  Buying a high quality rug is probably a good idea, since everyone will be stepping and walking all over it, but I wouldn’t know that because I’ve never really done it.  But I have made some mistakes as well as found some great rugs which I will share…

Because rugs need to be bigger than we think and tend to be expensive, one of the biggest mistakes I see is having a rug too small for the space.  Its an easy mistake to make and I completely understand it.  You want the defined space, the color, texture, etc, but you’re trying to make a cost effective decision.  So can’t you get away with the 5 by 7 instead of the 8 by 10?  Hmmm, not always. Its okay if you’re looking at your rug and you think you’ve made this mistake.  I do have a solution for you and we’ll get to that.

Rugs- Studio McGee

Image Source- Studio McGee

Where your rug will be located and how it will be used should help determine what type of material your rug will be.  I only know this because of the various mistakes I’ve made over the years.  I LOVE the look of a natural fiber rug- like a chunky jute or sisal.  We’ve had two of these in our living room over the years.  However, this is just not the best for our family for a few reasons.  The first was that those tiny fibers ended up all over everything- our clothes, our babies, and our wood floors.  Especially when one of the rugs was a wool and jute blend- wool sheds like crazy, especially in a high traffic area.  Its just what it does.

Rugs- Lauren Liess

Image source- Lauren Liess. She is the queen of using beautiful natural fiber rugs in a space. I just love all the neutral, textural goodness in here.

Rugs- Pottery Barn

This is the Chunky Wool & Jute Rug from Pottery Barn. I LOVED the way it looked in our living room. But the fuzz balls all over our floors and clothing were not good. It didn’t work for this family of five, especially in a high traffic room.

The second reason it wasn’t good for us is that it just wasn’t soft for sitting, playing, wrestling, etc on the floor.  Which we do all the time.  We don’t have a separate playroom downstairs, so our living room is our multipurpose room.  We needed something cozy.  The third reason is that natural fiber rugs, if they don’t have a border, can start to lose their shape over time (especially in a high traffic area).  Some people love this look as its kind of bohemian, laid back, etc. I learned that I don’t love this look and it drove me crazy.  I felt like our nice rectangular rug was gradually turning into a weird oval thing.  Time to say goodbye to the dream of having a natural fiber rug in my living room.

Rugs- my old house

This is the living room in our old house.

I realized I kept being drawn to the natural fiber rug look because I was craving that texture.  So I found other ways to add it in (a burlap ottoman, bamboo roman shades, etc) and moved on from my dream of a natural fiber rug.  Next I tried a beautiful black and white striped flatweave rug from Crate and Barrel.  Stunning with its contrast and stripes, but again, not cozy or soft at all.  A flatweave rug (or dhurrie) is by its very nature flat.  What was I thinking? It was moved into our bedroom shortly after where it is perfect.  We’re generally not sitting or playing on the floor in our bedroom, so it doesn’t need to be soft and cozy there.  A colorful or patterned flatweave rug layered over carpet in the bedroom is a nice way to add in some contrast.

Master Bedroom // The House of Figs

Our Master Bedroom where you can catch a glimpse of that black and white rug.

The Montgomery House - Big Boy Room Small WM_7

I used a rug over carpeting in the Montgomery House boys’ room

The House of Figs- nursery

There is also a flatweave rug in my youngest son’s nursery

So finally for the living room I found what seems to be for now the best solution.  Its soft and cozy, it gives me some lightness that I needed (to contrast with our dark floors and dark furniture), it didn’t break the bank, and its not made of wool (100% polyester), so it doesn’t shed at all.  Nope, its not the highest quality.  And yes, it used to be a lot more white than it is now.  All things that I can most definitely live with in this season of my life.

Living Room // The House of Figs

This is the Keno Moroccan Shag MRC2 Rug from Rugs USA currently in our living room.

We visited my parents over the holidays and their nice wool rug that they’ve had for almost a year was shedding like crazy!  I mentioned it to my mom because I figured the shedding should have stopped by now and she said it doesn’t do this normally.  It was only because we were all there.  Normally its just my mom and dad, walking across the rug and then sitting down on the couch.  They use their living room a lot differently than we do with three kids practicing Tae Kwon Do, ballet, acting like puppy dogs, wrestling, and kicking up clouds of wool by the handful.  I was glad to know they don’t have to live with that constant shedding.  And also glad to learn that in this season of life, we will need a rug that can act accordingly.  So different rugs work for different people, in different seasons of life.  Maybe one day my natural fiber or wool rug dreams will be possible, just not right now.

Rugs - Life in Grace Blog

Image Source – Life in Grace

So what if you have the perfect rug, great material, great colors, you love how it looks, but you’ve realized its too small?  What to do? I told you earlier I have a solution and here it is.  I love to layer that great rug over a larger rug- usually a very flat natural fiber rug that can just sort of blend in but add lots of texture to the room.  Now I know you just heard my distaste for natural fiber rugs in the living room, but hear me out on this one.  If you’ve already got your cozy rug and this will be underneath- this rug will not be the one you will be mostly sitting on, walking on, and playing on the most.  Its just sort of an extender.  Sort of like leggings under your too short tunic top.  Necessary? Yes. But not the primary player.  And if you get one with a border, you can avoid the misshapen-ness that happened to me as well.

Rugs- Layered rugs Amber Interiors

Image Source- Amber Interiors

Rugs- layered rugs Lauren Liess

Image Source- Lauren Liess

Rugs Layered rugs Jones Design

Image Source- Jones Design Company

Rugs- layered Beachy Glam The house of Figs

That last one is from this client of mine.  I love how it extended the room just enough to be able to pull back the furniture and make it feel bigger.  It (along with the coffee table) also brought in some much needed texture and earthiness to this kind of glamourous and modern furniture.  Win- win situation!  You can find the rug that we used here.

So that’s my discourse on rugs for the day.  Bigger is better, know your material, and layering is always an option!  Thanks for reading.  I’ll be back soon talking pillows and mixing and matching patterns.  Hope you’re having a great week!



Continue Reading

Decorating UNschool: Lighting

First up in my new series (you can read the intro here):  Let’s talk about lighting.  I started with this because I love this topic and could talk about it for hours.

I avoid turning on ceiling lights if at all possible- ESPECIALLY if they are flourescent. I would prefer a lamplit or sunlit room over an artificial overhead bulb any day.  You know that feeling you get after being in Walmart for too long?  Too crowded, too busy, too much walking.  It makes my eyes water and my head hurt. And then you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and yikes!  Yep, time to go home.

Now, have you ever been in an Anthropologie?  Generally you’ll just find me window shopping… but its the ambiance for me, the smells, the warmth, the lighting, that draw me inside.  Both places are consumer driven and buy buy buy, but something about the second one has tricked me into feeling like I’m home.

Lighting has great power.

Kitchens & Dining Rooms

I’ve said this before, but I don’t believe a light fixture over a table or island can be too big.  I think bigger is ALWAYS better.  Are you considering a light fixture for your dining room table and not sure which size to get?  Always go bigger.  You won’t regret it.  As The Nester just wrote after recently switching out a wimpy chandelier “…now my table doesn’t look forgotten if its cleared off- it looks just right because the chandelier commands so much attention that I don’t need much else.”

Nester's Dining Room


When you have great and large lighting, you don’t need much else cluttering up the space.  It speaks for itself.  So why not, instead of filling the space with those smaller things to get it to feel right, just save up for that one big light fixture?

The same goes for kitchen islands.  I talked about it before in this post, but when I was working on the Montgomery House, we went back and forth on whether or not to spend more money on countertops or put the money into the lighting.  After realizing the countertops would be laying down flat and the lighting would be commanding our attention from every angle in the room, it made the decision easy.

The Montgomery House - Kitchen Small_0 WM

These are the large Eldridge pendants from Ballard Designs.  It just wouldn’t be the same if we had gone with the mediums!

Generally, chandeliers should hang about 30-35″ above a table, and in my opinion to just above eye level over an island.  Lower and bigger are the way to go!

Here’s another one that I love, from designer Lauren Liess.

Lauren Liess Dining Room

I love all the contrast in this one as well.  Notice how the dark chandelier balances out the dark table.  And its so large and hung so very low.  But all of the darkness is balanced out so well by the chairs, the curtains, and the light walls.

Here are some more examples:



HOF_Breakfast Room Small-3

source (my house)





Bedrooms & Living Rooms

Now, I live in the depths of humidity near a little town called Houston, TX and unfortunately for us we need ceiling fans in our bedrooms and living rooms.  Its just one of the decorating downfalls of living here which you know what I mean if you’ve ever experienced August here.  Or even January for that matter (my ceiling fan is running at this very moment).  So if I were building a home from scratch here, I would put in recessed lights in the living and bedroom (on dimmer switches), and then I would put in a simple white ceiling fan with no lights on it that would fade away into a white ceiling.  Add in to that lots of table and even floor lamps around the room and that would be my perfect lighting equation.

Because we didn’t build our house from scratch, we spray painted our brassy ceiling fan white, replaced the tacky light globes with more simple ones and called it a day.  I still start to twitch whenever that light actually gets turned on and try to rely as much as I can on the one recessed light in the living room and the lamps around the room.

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that you are not in need of a ceiling fan to keep from melting away in the summertime year-round, you get the exciting opportunity to consider a light fixture in your bedroom or living room!  I love this especially in bedrooms, as it can add to a romantic feeling with a beautiful chandelier.  Remember- bigger is always better!

This one is a beauty from Lauren Liess.  So daring and bold, but I love it!

Lauren Liess Living Room

Simo Design Living Room






Bedroom chandelier lighting



Generally the same rule of “bigger is better” applies here as well.  I just love a big lamp that is a piece of art on its own.  Especially in a pair- that is a lovely find!  I love to look for lamps with a curvy traditional base and a modern drum shaped shade.  Its just my thing for contrast.

Dark lamp shades lighting


Blue Lamps Lighting


I’m in love with this giant floor lamp below!!

Studio McGee Lighting


So in short, no wimpy light fixtures!

Of course, every once in a while rules are meant to be broken and you will find something that just works but doesn’t at all fit into this “bigger is better” idea.  I found several of them while I was looking for pictures for this post.  Why is that??  Its just because there are no hard and fast rules here!  In general, I have found that bigger light fixtures and lamps tend to look better.  But you have the freedom in your own home to try and to do what you want!  That’s why this is decorating UNschool.

Now, go forth and light!

xoxo Bethany

p.s. Let me know in the comments any other areas you’d like me to cover in this series!  I always love hearing from you!!


Continue Reading

Decorating UNschool

I get a lot of questions here, on Instagram, and often in real life about different decor related conundrums. Sometimes I freak out a little about that because the truth is, I’m not really an expert.  I have no degree or formal training in this area. But in my own home, because of an intense passion for contrasts, textures, patterns, fabrics, and furniture arrangements, I’ve grown to develop an eye and a confidence about what to do.  Slowly, I’m learning to trust and lean on that confidence when it comes to other people’s homes and questions as well.

Living Room // The House of Figs

I’ve decided to start a series here on the blog in which I answer some of those FAQs and address the issues I frequently run into when I meet someone in their home looking for advice from me about what to do with their space.  It will kind of be like my version of decorating school- sharing the way I approach a room, piece by piece.  But since I never went to decorating school and my education in that area consisted of Pinterest, a handful of blogs, magazines, and HGTV over the years, we’re going to call it UNschool.

The House Of Figs - Greene Living Room-6 Small WM

So, welcome to decorating UNschool.  Ditch the number two pencils and don’t worry about getting here on time.  It’s all about freedom and there really aren’t any rules.  We’re just going to talk about things like light fixtures, selecting a rug, mixing and matching fabrics, and hanging curtains.  I’ve already made two videos about gallery walls so I’ll probably skip that subject, but please let me know in the comments below if there’s anything you’d like to hear about over the next few weeks!

The Montgomery House - Kitchen Small_0 WM

Looking forward to it!

xoxo Bethany

Continue Reading

A Bit of Ugly

In keeping with my post earlier this week about 4 elements of design, I’ve been thinking about the idea of contrast more.  This led me to remember a lovely book on my shelf by Deborah Needleman called “The Perfectly Imperfect Home.”  Its a little more rules driven and “professional” than I usually care for (since I am neither!) but it does have some sweet little illustrations and excellent tidbits of advice.

A Big of Ugly
My favorite bit of advice has to do with contrast.  She says that to create a beautiful home, you always need “a bit of ugly.”

Ummm… what?  Ugly?  Yes, that’s right.  And I love it.

 Here’s what she has to say:

“Think about a room in which all the colors are pretty pastels like duck-egg blue and green and cream: the look can go rather dollhouse and saccharine.  If you were to include a little gray, dull black, or faded green, those very same lighter colors would actually look fresher and more dynamic….  Similarly, while most people go overboard on brown furniture, a bit of dreary brown wood, or dull finishes, can be a sobering and stabilizing influence in a space, especially one that has any excess of glamour or girliness.”

So good, right?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Continue Reading

Decorating Lessons from What Not to Wear


Was anyone else a fan of What Not to Wear back in the day?  Stacey and Clinton sure knew how to put together an outfit.  The snarky commentary was a bonus.  But really, isn’t it amazing how they could take anyone from frumpy to fashionable in a matter of days?  And the best part was they let everyone maintain their own unique style, while keeping a few guidelines consistent in putting together outfits.  They called these golden guidelines “the rules.”  Any of you super fans like me out there remember the rules?  It was almost like a mantra: color, pattern, texture, & shine.  Add these in to any outfit in the right amounts and you’ve got something good going on.

So as a fashion enthusiast myself, today, I give you:

Decorating Lessons from What Not to Wear

(thanks for the inspiration, Stacey & Clinton!)

So, color, pattern, texture, and shine to make a great outfit?  I’ve found that the same is true for a room.  Every room needs some amount of these elements- no matter what your style is.  If you love one or two more than the other, that probably defines your style, but you still need a little of the others.

Its all about balance and contrast.

For example… do you love nailhead trim?  Sparkly light fixtures?  Silver and gold?  Maybe you have a “glam” style so you’ve got the shine covered but make sure to add in some texture and pattern for contrast.  Maybe something distressed or earthy? It will make the sparkle shine that much brighter. Make sure to consider color- add in a little black or deep wood tones to keep your shiny sparkly room from floating away.

Glam Room


Do you love bright color?  Do you find that you’re drawn to buying bright accessories, pillows, and pieces of furniture?  That’s great, but maybe consider balancing it with white walls.  And then make sure not every pillow or accessory is the same finish.  Have some that are shiny, some that are matte, some that have a textural earthy dull color and will contrast with your love of bright things.  This will make your love of color really come through in your home.




Do you love neutrals?  Do you find yourself drawn to the beige couch?  Oh and the beige rug or the white furniture and the white walls?  Well that’s all fine and dandy until you find yourself living in neutral land and it feels all blah and boring.

Here’s the good news: white and beige are colors too!  But don’t forget the other three element- pattern, texture, and shine.  I consider myself in this camp.  I don’t love a lot of glam and I prefer color in small doses. So to balance it out I make sure to have lots of pattern, even if its subtle.  I also make sure to have lots of textures going on.  And I consider my “shine” to be as simple as the few reflective surfaces throughout my home- the vases, the picture frames, mirrors, countertops, etc.  Its subtle, but its just enough (you can see my house here).  Here are some more examples of this neutral/textural style from one of my favorite designers.  See if you can find the color, pattern, texture, and shine in each picture.

Textural Home 2

Neutral and Glam

Textural Home

Neutral Home


I never realized I could learn so much from a makeover show, but seriously this concept of balance and contrast among four consistent rules is so helpful for me!  How about you?  Which of the four guidelines are you drawn to most in your home?  How can you (or do you already?) incorporate some of the other three in subtle doses?  I’d love to hear from you!



Continue Reading

House Goals, 2016

Are you one to make New Year’s Resolutions? I admit I’m not big on them.  I stopped several years ago because I hated the let-down when I realized mid-January I wasn’t following through. I’m not a big goals person either, which sounds so weird and lazy to say out loud.

I’m more of a list maker, so I guess maybe I like to live more day to day.  That at least sounds nicer, doesn’t it? I want to embrace the now. I’m blogging and working now because its something that I enjoy now. But where will this take me in 10 years? What’s my long term business plan? I have no idea. And I’m okay with that at this point in my life.

But every year around this time, after sweeping up the Christmas tree remnants and packing up the ornaments, I get this intense desire to get my house in order. I want to clean, I want to organize.  I want to get it all straightened out. There have just been some nagging tasks that I’d really like to get to, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t. They’ve bugged me for a while and a few of them I could knock out in an hour or two.  So why haven’t I done something about them? Can anyone relate?

So now that I have this blog, this space to talk about all things house-related, I figured its a good a time to make some goals for this year in my home.

1. Kitchen Hardware

Kitchen Hardware
To start off, I’ve got a couple of spots in the kitchen where the cabinet hardware does not line up with the original holes. So we screwed in the top but not the bottom. Apparently its an easy fix. Why haven’t we done it? Oh… life, how it gets in the way sometimes.

2.  The Junk Drawers

Junk Drawer 1

Junk Drawer 2

I think its safe to say that these have gotten slightly out of control.  Oh and there’s a whole junk closet too that I chose not to take a picture of for your sake.  You’re welcome.

3. The Gallery Wall

Gallery Wall 1

Gallery Wall 2

Gallery Wall 3

Its been months since I hung up this gallery wall.  I’ve still got a few blank spaces as you can see.  I recently picked up a few new prints, but I need to get some mattes cut and its just going to take some figuring out.  So, that’s a goal.

4. The Bathroom

Master Bathroom

We have decided this will be the year of the master bathroom reno.  And not only that but also changing the flooring in our other two bathrooms as well.  We are still not exactly sure what’s going to happen in here and how it will end up, but I’m definitely planning & dreaming.

So how about you?  Got any house goals for the year?  Does January make you want to start fresh and get some organizing done?  Do you have any small nagging tasks that just need some attention?  I’d love to hear from you!

Continue Reading