Tag Archives | do your thing

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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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!!


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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

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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!


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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!



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A Few Things…

First of all, thank you so much for all of you who have celebrated with me this week over the Design Mom feature!  I shared it yesterday on my Facebook page and Instagram but I wanted to mention it here as well.  Some of you are new here because of that feature and some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about…

Our home was recently featured here and I share about my philosophy on living with kids, creativity, and my job as a decorator.  Gabrielle Blair, aka Design Mom, was so kind through the whole process and y’all she is absolutely the real deal.  I’ve been following her blog so closely since I submitted my pictures for a possible feature and I have to say I’m learning a lot from her about this whole blogging thing.  She posts so regularly and I don’t even know how she does it, but she also posts so authentically and personally.  Even though she didn’t have to, I felt like she spent time reading my blog and getting to know us before featuring my home.  Anyway, the whole thing was just one big gigantic happy exciting thing.  I’d love for you to check it out- you may have seen all the pictures here before but the words I shared may be a little something different.Design Mom // The House of Figs

Next, I just wanted to briefly mention Christmas decorating! I’ll be a part of a Christmas homes tour next week that I’m very excited about so I’m saving the “glamour shots,” for that day, but I did want to share a little glimpse with you and show you one of my favorite traditions we have.


I grew up doing a weekly Advent wreath with my family and this is a tradition Paul and I have decided to continue with our own kids.  Throughout the years we’ve tried a few different things, including some short daily devotions beginning Dec 1st, but honestly those are hard for us to keep up with.  This year I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do when a Facebook friend posted a link to this weekly Advent devotional.  Its so simple and perfect for the ages of my kids (2, 5, & 7).  There are additional activities for during the week but I think we’ll mostly be sticking to the Sunday evening devotionals.  We already had the wreath and I just set it on the table along with some candles stuck into glass candle holders.  While the candles aren’t the traditional colors, its what we already had, so I think it will work just fine.


 Lastly, I’ve said it before, but I’m just not a big seasonal decorator.  I like to design a room well and then just leave it alone.  I don’t like to rearrange or tweak very much and I know this makes me a bit of an oddity among home-decor loving people.  But I do have to say, as far as Christmas decor goes, I think the reason is just that it stresses me out a bit.  I end up sort of feeling like I’m only doing it for the sake of other people or to create this elusive magical feeling. I find I’m more overwhelmed than joyful and more focused on all the stuff than on anything that actually matters.  A little like my new hilarious friend Gayle. Have you seen this yet?

We have been quoting and laughing about Gayle for days around here.  I mean, she’s just hilarious.  But of course the reason it’s so funny is that there’s a little piece of it that I can relate to.  This is my first Christmas having this blog and being on Instagram.  So while I am doing the usual decorating and I’ve pulled out the twinkling lights and added in a few new ornaments for the year, I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to stay true to what I came here to do- for both beauty & purpose.  I’m taking part in this big Christmas tour of homes next week and I’m so very honored to be joining in with some blogs I absolutely love and admire and have looked up to for a long time, but I’m approaching cautiously and tenderly.  I do feel the pull toward crazy-Gayle-ness sometimes.  I feel the pull toward “I’m going to be in a big blogger tour so I need to show everyone a perfectly decorated Disney on Ice home tour!!!!”   But then I remember that you come here for a reason and I never intend to take that lightly.  I want to share with you my home and our traditions and maybe even a few ideas, but I never want to lose sight of the purpose.

Thank you so much for reading.  Hope you’re having a great week!

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Rethinking Home: Seeing with New Eyes

This is my 6th and final post in the Rethinking Home series.  You can find the rest of the series here.  Its been a fun series for me and I hope you have found some inspiration.  

I debated on titling this post “Pinterest: Friend or Frenemy”  Have you ever felt that way? We have access to so many beautiful and perfect images of homes out there that can in some ways inspire and move us to action in our own homes.  But so often (maybe more often?) they can lead us to comparison, discouragement, and flat out resentment of the homes we have.

Pinterest : Friend or Frenemy

Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE Pinterest.  I use it all the time to find inspiration for myself and clients and I love when readers pin my images for their own inspiration!  But I’ve found the secret to using it as a tool and a friend rather than a frenemy.  In photographing my own home for this blog and for instagram I’ve learned those images are not as perfect as they seem.  There’s always some lighting tricks involved, and have you noticed they never have blinds?  There is sunlight pouring in.  You can’t see a neighbor through those windows for miles, so there’s no need for privacy.

There are also never any baby gates in sight, usually no cords anywhere either.  Everything is clean and well placed.  Even if there are toys or kitchen utensils out, it is styled to be that way.

Nothing is an accident.

I fluff my pillows when my husband does photo shoots in our house.  I style my kitchen and dining room.  I want the pictures we take to tell a story, to draw in whoever sees them.  For me it’s an art form. I want to accentuate the strengths of the room and downplay the negatives.  Cropping and photoshopping takes place.  There’s lighting involved.

But the rest of the house is often a wreck.  We take down blinds.  All of the practical stuff, like the roll of paper towels, the K-cup carousel, the baby monitor, the dirty laundry, it all gets piled up just outside of the frame of the picture.

This is behind the scenes from one of our most recent photo shoots.

This is behind the scenes from one of our most recent photo shoots.

A few weeks ago I shared some new pictures of my living room that we took.  I love those pictures and I got some great feedback on them.  Shortly after that we took some new dining room pictures too. I love doing those and it’s fun for me to see the rooms I’ve designed really shine in that way.  But in all reality, it doesn’t look like that on a day to day basis.  It has the potential to look similar to that- I’d have to rearrange the pillows, clean up a few things, open up the shades, etc, but even if I cleaned it all up and snapped a few pictures of it with my iPhone, it wouldn’t have the same effect.  There’s some camera and skill behind the lens that goes in to getting those beautiful photos.

Those photos are fun to have and to look at, but they are like glamour shots.

Living Room // The House of Figs

And now when I see all those pictures on Pinterest or in magazines, I know a little bit more of the story.  I know that it isn’t quite reality.  It’s not that they’re trying to trick us or trying to make us feel bad.  We have the choice to determine how we are going to let pictures and images affect us.  Are we going to be discouraged?  Depressed?  Or can we see with new eyes, realizing that nothing is exactly as it seems?  Can we appreciate the creativity, the details, the lighting, and accept it basically as a work of art frozen in time for that moment?  A glamor shot that can inspire us with its beauty and craftsmanship?

I’ve been on Pinterest a lot lately looking at gorgeous bathroom inspiration and I’ve noticed something about all these beautiful images.

Bathrooms on Pinterest

They whet our appetites and sometimes even stir in us a longing, a desire to fulfill something we think we are missing.  Do we think we’ll always have a happy family if we had a home that looked like that?  Do I think my bathroom would always be spotless if it was designed that way? Or that we could cook healthy and delicious meals if only we had a kitchen like that?   But these are just snapshots, just images.  Just like candy.  Or just appetizers, not the full meal.  Glamour shots aren’t the full picture.  They’re fun and pretty, they make us feel glamorous, but we can’t go around holding up feathered boas and only showing people the tops of our shoulders and talk with our lips in a glossy pout all the time.

We have to live our lives.  We want the full meal.  We want the abundant life.

That means real living, digging deep, making messes, having relationships, getting in arguments, making up.  Yeah, sometimes its a delicious home cooked meal, but then there’s the clean up afterward.  We put some music on, we have a dance party, but we’re tip toeing around the legos on the floor and there’s dishes in the sink but when we have grateful hearts and new eyes we don’t care.Legos :: Rethinking Home

When we can see those photos with new eyes, we can see our own homes with new eyes.  With gratitude for what exists- we can appreciate the artistry in our own homes and in the homes of others.  We can know that here and now is reality- this is what it means to really live in a home and give life to that beautiful picture: legos, dishes, dust bunnies and all.

Dirty Dishes :: Rethinking Home

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