Archive | February, 2016

Decorating UNschool: Furniture Arrangement

Hey there! I’m back today with another installment of Decorating UNschool.  For the other posts in this series click here.

Today I’m talking about arranging furniture.  Because this is UNschool, like I keep saying over and over, I don’t have hard and fast rules for you here.  I just have some ideas and truthfully, I don’t have a magic formula.  Every home is different and the real key is every person is different.  Design is subjective in so many ways and in this area especially, there might not be a perfect way to arrange your living room furniture.  You just might have to try several different ways, and even live with them for a few days (weeks, even?) until you figure out what works best for you and your family.  But I’ll share with you what I’ve found to generally work well.

My general “rules” for bedrooms

When you walk into the room, the bed should be centered on the opposite wall.

Large matching lamps make a statement; matching side tables are not necessary, though the lamps should end up around the same height.

Mismatched Nightstands

This is a great example of mismatched nightstands and big beautiful lamps.  Unfortunately I could not find a source on this one.  If anyone knows it please let me know!!

Pattern/texture mixing and rug rules apply and its always nice if you have room for a spot to sit as well.

Colorful bedroom with books

Source – Lonny

This bedroom is a beautiful example of lots of texture and pattern and of course you know I love all the books!

My general “rules” for living rooms

Pattern/texture mixing and rug rules apply.

Have lots of lamps easily accessible.  Maybe a console table behind a sofa with two matching lamps?  A floor lamp near a chair?

Have side tables easily accessible and don’t feel the need to clutter them up with decorative items.  A cleared off space is a welcoming space.

Pattern : Jones Design

source – Jones Design Company

Those flowers are pretty but not practical in my house!  I keep one tray for books, coasters, and remotes on my coffee table and that’s it.  Its not exactly “styled” but it allows for us to live and play on it.

My living room

My living room

Determine the purpose of the room.  Will there be tv watching?  Is it a formal or a casual space? Do you need lots of open space and a cozy rug for playing on the floor with little ones?  Do you have a high priority for lots of seating?  Will you be hosting a lot of guests in this room?    Do you need storage for toys, books, media?


source – Urban Grace Interiors

Go to the trouble to make the arrangement you’d like to have work. I know some designers may disagree with this (its UNschool, remember?), but I love having my tv over the fireplace.  We have a small living room and it is our only family room.  We do everything in here from watching tv, hanging out, wrestling matches, bible studies with our small group, and sometimes even dinner parties when the kids outnumber the adults and they take over the tables.  Our priority was to have a lot of seating.  Which means there’s not really anywhere to put a big media console.  I love our fireplace and putting the tv over it just made sense.  It took a little reworking since there used to be a window above the fireplace (yep, so weird, I know!!) and we had to have wires channeled through the wall but we had a great contractor help us figure all of that out.  It was a bit of a pain in the beginning but it has worked so well for the flow of our living room and I’m so glad we went through the trouble to make it all happen.

Pull the furniture away from the walls if possible.  You’ve probably heard this before, but everything pushed against the walls can feel too open and awkward.  If you’re going for a cozier feeling, consider pulling at least a few things away from the walls.

two couches

source- Emily Henderson

Even if you’re facing a couch toward a tv, consider having a chair or two that face away from the tv.  You still want your room to feel conversational and welcoming- not necessarily a media room (unless that’s what you’re going for!).

two chairs

source- My Domaine

Consider the scale of your room and your furniture pieces.  Remember to measure everything before you buy.  I’ve made this mistake, too!  You’re looking at it in the store (or online) and it looks perfect but once you get it home, its actually way too big or small.  It is really important to not skip this step and understand the size that you need.  A lot of small pieces in a large room might end up looking kind of junky.  However, a small room can actually handle a few pieces of large furniture if they are carefully planned!  My favorite online tool for arranging furniture is  Plug in the dimensions of your room and then add in furniture of varying sizes and play around with different layouts before you actually buy.

Floor Planner Bedroom Floor Planner Living Room


Another thing to consider- create contrast with varying heights in your room.  Make sure everything is not hovering around “couch height.”  Add in a low ottoman, a bookshelf, a large floor lamp or plant, etc for balance.  You’ll notice most of the example pictures I used above have used these elements!

And lastly, are you unhappy with your current arrangement?  Change things up!  What can it hurt?  Take the 30 minutes to rearrange and just see.  Have you been wondering what that little side table from upstairs would look like downstairs?  Go grab it right now and try it out.  Have you been wanting to try the chair from your bedroom in your living room but just haven’t gotten around to it?  What are you waiting for?  Shopping and arranging from your own house is about as low risk as it gets.  The worst thing that can happen is that you hate it and you end up putting it back where it was.  Its definitely worth a try!

Any other questions or thoughts on furniture arrangement?  I’d love to hear from you! It really is subjective because there are so many possibilities and I don’t necessarily believe a room has one right way.  That floor planner website really is my best secret for you though… hopefully it will be helpful! Have a great weekend.



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Happy Birthday to the House of Figs!

I’m celebrating my birthday today!  Well, not mine, but one year ago today I wrote my very first post on The House of Figs.  I can’t even believe its been a year.  Thank you so much for taking the time to read, share, pin, subscribe, for all the comments that have meant so much to me, and for those of you I know in real life who have encouraged me along the way.  This space of beauty and purpose has been a dream of mine for years and I’m so grateful it exists.

Today I’m taking a little walk down memory lane…

So here’s that very first post from one year ago today.  Eager and excited but also scared to share with anyone before it had more entries, I wrote another post that same day.  I had been planning to start this blog for so long that I had a backlog of ideas to type out.

The day we shared our current breakfast room I was so excited.  It was the first time Paul and I did a photoshoot together and I was thrilled with the results.

HOF_Breakfast Room Small-4


The first post that really got a lot of attention (a lot is relative, but to me, this one got a lot!) was this colorful guest room I did for a friend of mine.  I think its because she shared it on her Facebook and so for the first time, more than just my own friends and family were seeing the posts.

The House Of Figs - Guest Room-0

The most visited pages on my blog are my House Tour and About Me pages.

The top five visited posts on my blog are these:

The Montgomery House Playroom

Playroom // The House of Figs

One Room Christmas Tour

Christmas Decor WM 18

Updates Around the House and Blog

Playroom :: The House of Figs

The Montgomery House Kitchen and Dining Room


My Trip to Magnolia Market


My number one pinned image is this one from The Montgomery House Boy’s Room.

The Montgomery House - Big Boy Room Small WM_7

And I so get it… I love all that craftsman detailing and seeing into the bathroom at the same time as the patterned rug, the iron bed, the colorful books, the textured basket??!!  Paul really nailed it with this photo.

And probably my most exciting moment of the past year was being featured on Design Mom back in December.  The article I wrote for that was difficult but so rewarding for me, to really think about how I’ve gotten to this point creatively and how much more I want to grow and learn.

Design Mom // The House of Figs


Originally, I set out for this blog to be more of a website portfolio- collecting before and after images of my projects for clients and in my own home.  I quickly realized though that I needed this space to be more than that if I was really on a journey of seeking beauty and purpose.  I’ve said it before, but I know that beautiful spaces can be found all over the internet, in magazines, on tv.  I needed a space to also share my heart behind it all, I needed to share that its not always perfect, and that the images don’t always show the reality of the day to day.  Thank you for allowing me to do that here.

A few of my favorite more personal posts are below.

When Home Disappoints

Creating Space for Mornings

Learning to Do Your Thing

And of course, I’ve also enjoyed making videos for my subscribers!  It’s been slightly out of my comfort zone, but Paul is a total pro and walks me through it all, haha!  There will be more videos in the coming year and hopefully more goodies as well on that exclusive subscriber page.  Currently there are three videos there, if you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here to access them!

Lastly, thank YOU so so much for showing up and reading.

I do this because I love it and I can’t help but talk about houses and beauty and gallery walls and pillows.  But I know its more than that and I know you know that too.  I come here for you; you keep me motivated.  You’ve helped me grow.  Here’s to another year.



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Links for Your Weekend

I’m taking a little break from the Decorating UNschool posts today to share a few links from around the web I’ve enjoyed recently.

I’m currently working on a kitchen remodel with a client and its been so fun picking out finishes and paint colors with her.  We want a modern and simple look on the main cabinets (white Shaker style doors) but something different for the island.  While the rest of this particular kitchen I’ve linked to is a lot more industrial than we are going for, this little sink area is just lovely and so inspiring with the wood tones and more traditional style.  It looks like a piece of furniture stained and added in!  Beautiful.Wood Island

Trends Ideas: Wood in the Kitchen

This article was a good read and led to some interesting discussion in our house.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Raising a Creative Child

How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off

Next up, House of Jade Interiors (formerly 6th Street Design School) was one of the first design blogs I ever read.  To watch Kirsten’s career just take off in recent months has been exciting and a learning experience for me!    I especially love this post that includes a brief video showing some of the installation process at one of her newest projects.  I love that part of design- when all the planning details are in place, the bones of the home are finished, and you actually get to style everything with gorgeous accessories.  Looks like so much fun!

House of Jade

Lastly, Paul and I have recently partnered up with a nonprofit company called Hand Up Global Goods (HUGG).  We did a Valentine’s photo series for them and it was so much fun to flex our creative muscles in a different way.

HUGG Valentine's Day

Hugg Valentine's Day 2

Follow them on instagram @handupglobalgoods and check out their website here to see more of our photos.  You can also learn more about the company and see their current Valentine’s specials.

That’s it for now, hope you have a great weekend and however you may be celebrating, hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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A Few More Words on Pattern Mixing & Pillows

Last week I talked about the concepts behind pattern mixing and walked through a kind of formula for selecting fabrics or pillows.  While that formula is what would be considered the “ideal,” I realized after posting it that I have personally never purchased pillows or selected fabrics in that way.  It would require starting from scratch and creating a whole new color scheme all at one time.  I love the idea of it and have done that with my kids’ nurseries and bedrooms as well as for clients, but never with my own living room.  I’m always working with what I already have; adding to or changing my collection.

And truly, isn’t that how life is?  Your home is meant to be a collection of things over time.  Most people don’t decorate rooms all at once and then say “its finished!”  Things change with seasons of life, changes in taste.  As you change, grow, mature, so does your home.

So what do you do if you already have pillows that feel matchy-matchy but you’re not wanting to start completely from scratch?  Here are a few tips on how to add to your collection but still work with what you’ve got.

Find a colorful fabric/pillow that has your colors plus a few more.Living Room // The House of Figs

In my house its the big Turkish Kilim pillow I bought on etsy.  It has the black, gray, and mustard colors from some of the other pillows, but also added in a lot of other color- blue, purple, red, pink, etc.

Search “Turkish Pillow” on etsy for a whole range of similar looks.  You could also find a great colorful floral or geometric.  Just make sure the background isn’t white and it has lots of color.

Add in large pillows in a solid color that contrast with or brighten up your couch.

I love a velvety or linen texture- something that will be different than the fabric of your sofa.  My white ones are linen from Pottery Barn that I bought eleven years ago.  Yes, eleven.  The gray solid ones are from HomeGoods.

Add in a textural or “wild card” pillow.

In my house, its always been this pillow from Ikea- the Lappljung Ruta.  I’m in love with the black and white goodness of it and it has this nubby texture that is just amazing.

Ikea Black & WhiteI recently bought this one from Ikea and love the color and texture as well.Ikea Isunda Pillow

A few more tips on pillows:

  • Toss or recover the pillows that come with the couch (couch manufacturers are usually not designers)
  • If a pattern is really bold, I like to think of it as “one of a kind” and only use one pillow in the room that has it.  More than that can feel overly matchy.
  • Remember to consider the background, scale, and type of patterns like I mentioned in my last post.  Go for contrast!
  • Feather filled pillows keep their shape over time much more than poly filled.  They can be smushed and refluffed a million times.

Pattern Mixing Pillows

That’s it for now… I’ll be back soon!



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Decorating UNschool: Pattern Mixing

We’ve talked about lighting and we’ve talked about rugs.  Today its all about pattern mixing, which for me in my own home, and very often for my clients, means pillows, curtains, or bedding.  Since I tend to campout in neutral land and I like for my large expensive purchases to be able to stand the test of time (and my ever changing taste) I generally go for solid pieces of furniture and curtains (we’ll get to those in another post). But when it comes to mixing and matching patterns, pillows are where its at for me.

Pattern Mixing Pillows

I used to feel so daunted by pattern mixing.  I loved examining the work of designers and seeing a room that felt so put together, yet in an effortless way that wasn’t overly “designed” or matching.  I just couldn’t quite grasp how they did it.

Pattern mixing House Beautiful

source– House Beautiful

Pattern Mixing Holly Mathis

source- Holly Mathis

At some point in my “research” and blog hunting, I took a brief online course all about creating a color scheme and pattern mixing.  It was like it finally all made sense.  I’m still no expert and definitely have a lot to learn of course (that’s why this is UNschool), but it was really very simple once someone explained it to me and I started playing around with patterns in my own home.  And by the way, I still love to examine the work of my favorite designers, looking at each element and determining what is it that makes the room so great.  That’s my design school.

Pattern Mixing House of Jade

source – House of Jade

Pattern Mixing - Milk and Honey Home

source – Milk and Honey Home

So, here is my version of basic pattern mixing:

Its best to start with your busiest pattern, your pattern with the most color.  Find something you love that contains all the colors you want in the room, and maybe even a few extra.  If you are color-phobic like me, I have found that a good rule of thumb is for at least one pattern to have 4-5 colors and no less.  This is so you don’t end up matchy-matchy.  Remember the goal here is to not have everything match.  We’re not necessarily picking out colors that you must adhere to.  Just finding your inspiration.

Pattern Mixing- Spring Fabric

Because I’m longing for spring and Valentine’s day is around the corner, we’ll start with this beautiful floral that has some pink and purple in it.

Next, add in a more simple or subtle pattern to contrast.  In order to do this, you must consider the scale of each pattern.  If you have a very large scale pattern, add in medium and small scale patterns.

Similarly, consider the type of pattern.  All geometric patterns is overkill.  Try a floral mixed in.  Or a stripe mixed with an ikat. Too many patterns of the same scale and/or type will look busy.

Something else to consider is the background color of the patterns.  I love a nice crisp white, but if every pattern is on white, they will start to blend together.  Its good to have some creamier colors in the backgrounds for contrast and yes, you can definitely mix white with ivory.

Pattern Mixing - large and small scales

I’ve added in two more patterns with my floral. I’ve pulled the tones from the original pattern but the scales and types are much different. The gray buffalo check, while it is still a large scale pattern, has very subtle colors. The polka dot is a small scale pattern and its dark background gives a nice contrast with the other two.

Its always nice to have a solid with some texture to balance it all out.  I like to do this with a velvet or linen pillow to contrast with the sofa fabric.  Do you feel like your sofa is too dark?  I always encourage my clients to add in some oversized white or ivory solid pillows.  This helps to lighten everything up.

Pattern Mixing adding in solids

So let’s pretend like these are pillows on a dark gray couch. I’ve now added in some washed white linen pillows. They add in some lightness and texture to the mix.

Now, we could definitely leave it as is, but for a little more dimension and color, I’ve added in one more pillow- the wild card.  Its just for some extra texture or contrast.  For this example,  I pulled from the pinks in our original pattern, but the scale and background of the florals are different.

Pattern Mixing with The House of Figs

These concepts don’t just apply to pillows.  Its the same when considering patterns on rugs, curtains, bedding, even furniture pieces for the brave among you.   Remember to consider scale, type of pattern, the background color of the pattern, and always add in solid colors and textures when its feeling busy.  Don’t go for matchy-matchy, go for compliment and contrast.

So that’s it for today- class is dismissed!



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