A little break and big news

I'm not going to presume that anyone reading this has been anxiously awaiting my next post.  But I also didn't want my 8 loyal followers to think that I've quit this blogging business.  ;)

Truth is, I am swamped & it's only going to get busier before things even out.  I am lucky to have taken on more clients and to be attending the Haven conference this week in Atlanta.  Big nerves about that one...I don't think I'll know a soul, but I'm hoping to learn a lot & make some new friends.

But the main reason I've been absent (& probably will be for the next few weeks) is because most of my days lately look like this:

That's right.  We are moving.  Again.  But hopefully, this is the last time for a loooong time (maybe even forever?).  And don't be fooled.  That may look like a meager amount of boxes, but I'm packing 4-8 a day in the hopes that I'll be ready when the big day comes in 2 weeks -  it feels like I've already packed hundreds!

We have been looking for our long-term home for a while now.  As in, it's been at least 2 years.  We have very patient family & friends in the real estate/mortgage business.  And our new house deserves a post all itself, but I will share its fun background.  Some of you may recognize the kitchen from places around the web.


Through a series of events that could only have been orchestrated from up above, we purchased the home of Julie from Milk & Honey Home.  And while we do plan to tweak some things to make it our own, we are grateful for the beautiful home Julie & her family have created that will now be our family's place to love & grow.

I'll most likely be busy packing, moving, & trying to squeeze in the last bits of summer over the next few weeks.  I do post to Instagram on a regular basis so follow hcb interiors  for more updates!

Have a fantastic week!


Balance (& being a Master Designer)

     Don't we all strive for more balance in our lives?  If we tilt too far in one direction, the ripples can be felt in all areas of our life.  There are 2 things I have struggled with since starting this business - the balance of family life & work, and the balance of greedy consumerism vs appreciation.

     First, the balance of family & work.  For the six months after I had my girl, when I went to work, I didn't always want to be there, but while I was there, I focused on the task in front of me.  And when I was home, I focused on my family.  I was mostly balanced.  Then I was blessed to be able to stay at home for the next 18 months.  And my family was my work, so I was mostly balanced again.  But there was a small part of me that felt like, even though staying at home had always been my desire, I needed something just for me. I began to feel off-kilter.  Working & being a mom is HARD, no matter if you work outside of the home, from home, or in the home.  I have done all 3, & I am here to tell you they all have their pros & cons. So let's stop beating other women (& ourselves) up for their (our) choices, okay?  Sorry, tangent.

     Anyway, I figured that starting my own business & working from home would give me the flexibility I needed, the ability to be home with my girl, & the creative outlet that I craved.  BUT...it has been so much harder than I thought.  I'm not saying that working from home is harder than working outside or inside the home.  I'm just saying it has been much harder for me personally to find the balance.  Because my days still primarily revolve around my child.  But, my phone dings constantly with emails, phone calls, & texts from clients.  I zealously read books, magazines, & blogs for education and inspiration, and Pinterest has become an obsession.  My phone is both a curse & a blessing.  Because I can be reached 24/7 in all manner of ways, & inspiration is all around me, I feel like I'm never truly not working.  I knew I wasn't doing a good job of balancing it all when CC asked me to put my phone down & play.  Guilt overload.  I'm working on doing a better job.  Because she is what truly matters to me.  And if she ever thought that my work was more important than her, it would do me in.  So I've learned to let things go.  My house is a mess.  Our meals aren't very detailed or creative anymore.  All of my DIY projects have been pushed to the side.  And I often go to bed around midnight or later because I work after she goes to bed.  Right now, it's worth it.  And when that doesn't work anymore, I'll figure out a new balance.  But man, achieving that balance is hard & constantly evolving.  She's so worth it though.  How could I not give my all for this sweet face?

     The other big thing I have struggled with is maintaining my inner compass while working in a field that is, on the surface, about external beauty.  I'll admit, more than once, I've gotten a case of the gimme gimmes.  I would stare at the walls of our military housing & dream of the days when I could have my own house with everything just the way I wanted.  But you know what?  This turned into constant planning for our "someday" house.  Dreaming & planning is great, but when you can't also enjoy the present because all you can think about is how if you could just change X, Y, or Z, then you'd be happy, that's not so great.  The struggle of enjoying beautiful things while not becoming consumed by them can be difficult.   
     Luckily, I found the Master Designer Manifesto.  Darlene Weir, of Fieldstone Hill (the same designer/blog I focused on during my Design 101 posts), has it figured out.  And she kindly added me to her Master Designer blogroll, & asked me to share about it here.  

     Here's the thing.  True happiness doesn't come from material goods.  But you can still appreciate them, as long as you remember what really matters in life.  I struggled to find this balance, because I sometimes felt like I was being materialistic by enjoying design & dreaming about it.  

     I think my favorite part of her design manifesto is "I appreciate fine and lovely things, but they are not my treasures.  I know what is truly important, and I do not aim to 'store up my treasures here on earth' {Matthew 6:19}". I have worked as a pediatric nurse for very sick kids.  My husband is a war veteran.  We have endured miscarriages, infertility, & the much too early passings of my mom & Army friends.  I share all this only because it is these experiences that have taught me what life is truly about, & it's not the beautiful things that I work with everyday. 

     Thank you, Darlene for once again inspiring me.  I am proud to be a Master Designer.




     It's so fun getting to work with clients across the country.  This summer, I've been busy working on a few different e-designs.  It seems to be a formula that works well: after the consultation, I email a design board to my client, who then goes out & shops on their own.   We stay in contact via email, phone calls, & texting, with lots of pictures & "whaddya think?" to round it out.  A lot of flexibility comes into play, as they can buy either the exact items I recommend or they can use the board as an idea for the room & shop on their own for similar products.

    Even though these projects need to be finished & tweaked, I thought I'd share some of the fun progress that has been made.  I love receiving updated pics of their rooms (remember, these are iPhone pics my clients send me & they're in progress, so please be kind as I know they have put a lot of work into these rooms).

     First up is a master bedroom for a young, newly married couple.  She moved into his bachelor pad, & we've been sprucing it up ever since.  Started out with school bus yellow walls, & fishing rods for wall decor  :)

The design idea board:

     As you can see, changes have been made to the design as she finds things while out shopping.  Instead of the custom drapery made out of the fabric seen on the board, we used World Market's Parker & customized them with a fun trim on the leading edge.  She purchased a remnant of carpet at her local hardware store & had them bind the edges to make a custom size rug for a fraction of the price.  The photo on the left shows the room with all the new bedding but pre-paint & window treatment.  The right shows the paint (BM November Rain), drapes, & the chalk paint bookcase.  She also sent me this pic to discuss floorplan - thinking we will move the bed back to the windows so it can be framed by the drapes.  Furniture placement, wall decor, & final sprucing need to be done, but I'm happy with the changes so far.  And more importantly, so are my clients!

     My next e-client is just getting started in a new career after being at home with her kids, so she wanted a room that would function mainly as her office but could also accommodate overnight guests when needed.  Here is her before:

Guess her pups wanted in on the action :)

The design - lots of warm woods & texture with hits of orange.  The walls are BM Edgecomb Gray, & in real life look more like the sample on the design board than in these phone photos.  (And yes, she knows the drapes need to be changed).  She found the giant board at the Ballard Outlet - a bargain hunter's gem in North Atlanta.  This corner needs more color (& the board needs to be hung), but it's at least functional for now.  Install day is still a ways off: right now we are picking the fabric for the bedskirt, trying to decide on a headboard, & waiting on the bookcase's arrival.  

     Sometimes clients get nervous at this point in the process - nothing is completely done, & it can all seem a bit random.  But Install Day makes all the difference.  And when a client is already excited & happy in the middle of the project (like these 2 are), that means the world to me!


Design 101: Turning Your Style Words Into Tangible Design

    Sheesh!  Is it just me, or is summer flying by?  I had hoped to post multiple times a week, & each time I go to post a new entry, I realize it's been at least a week since my last one.  But you probably didn't stop by to hear about my time-management skills (or lack thereof), so let's get down to business, shall we?
     In determining our style words, we can figure out what is truly important in our homes.  Homes & memories often evoke strong feelings - wouldn't you like your home's memories to be pleasant ones?  Style words are very personal & will be different for each person; along those same lines, the same style word can take on different meaning for each person.  Therefore, I think the easiest way to explain how to turn your style words into actual, touchable design is for me to walk you through what my style words mean to me, & how that shows in my home.

Classic, charming, kid-friendly, sentimental, joyful, cozy.

     When it comes down to it, I'm more traditional than modern, & I'm not super trendy either.  In fact, for my wedding, my mantra was "classic, simple elegance" (& the byline of this blog includes simple elegance as well).  To me, this means that a lot of my choices will hopefully stand the test of time.  They are not too flashy or ornamental, but are well-made & enduring. My big purchases are classics, & I hope I will still have them in 20 years.

Country Living
Audrey Hepburn via
     The two pictures above exemplify the word classic to me.  Audrey Hepburn's style continues to inspire; even her simple bike riding outfit of black sweater, cigarette pants, & flats can be found in stores today.  The chesterfield sofa has been around for over 300 years, & is a style found in both showrooms & retail stores - Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, & West Elm are all currently selling their version of this great sofa.  What I love about the one above is that, while the style is classic, the color is a little more fun, so the room could go in many different directions: country, retro, traditional, cottage.  But that's a lesson for another day.

     This is one of the more subjective terms.  In my home, it can also tie in with classic & cozy.  A lot of the charm of a home, for me, has to do with the details & architecture of the house.  Great millwork & lighting, flooring, tile work in the kitchen & baths.

This beautiful kitchen is from Joan at For the Love of a House.  There are so many charming aspects of this room: the fireplace, built-in cupboard, mix of countertop materials, flooring, lighting, etc.  Charm is often lacking in many of today's cookie-cutter neighborhoods.  You don't have to spend a fortune to obtain that charm; with just a bit of elbow grease & DIY skill, you can add your own woodwork to make your home stand out from the crowd!

     Kids can be rough on furnishings.  An errant marker swipe here or a shoe buckle scrape there can instantly mar a piece of furniture.  Between my dog & my toddler, things need to be resilient around here.  Luckily, there are more choices than ever that can stand up to the daily wear-&-tear of family life.  Leather, seagrass, slipcovers, outdoor fabrics - these are just a handful of designer tricks used in households with kids.  Some of my better investments have been our slipcovered ottoman/coffee table (easy to throw in the wash when dirty, although it wipes up with a damp cloth pretty well too.  Plus, it's padded, so no bumps & bruises from walking into it, climbing on it, etc.) and our seagrass rug.  Forgive the iPhone pic, but I was too lazy to get out my real camera & then edit. ;)

hcb interiors

Did you know that seagrass is more durable than sisal or jute?  Because it grows in water, it's more impervious to liquid stains since water is its natural habitat.  I won't go into graphic details, but let me assure that ALL types of liquids have cleaned up easily with our rug.

   I have always appreciated the history & memories of family heirlooms, no matter their value.  However, it wasn't until my mom's passing that I really became aware of how much it meant to me to weave family into our home.  Every room in our house not only contains family pictures, but also a piece of furniture, art, fabric, etc. from a family member.  The vanity my mom used as a child & teen is now my bedside table.
hcb interiors - excuse the iPhone photo!
We refinished different pieces from my great-aunt's dining room (like this sideboard on the left), & they are now scattered throughout our house.

    Beyond family heritage, I also want it to be immediately apparent to anyone visiting our home that it is the people, & not the things, in my home that are most important.  Reminders of the true blessings in my life are in abundance in our house.  There are some in the design world who believe a home can have too many photographs; I am not one of those people.  And I have multiple gallery walls to prove it.  :)

    I want our home to be a happy, loving environment.  A respite from hard times & a harsh world.  This can tie in with the sentimental items, as it brings us joy to see my daughter sleeping in my mom's childhood bed.  I am all about traditions, such as using a certain plate every year for birthdays, so those also create a sense of joy.  And finally, we like to fill our home with the things that make us happy - good books & music, art that speaks to us, and those gallery walls that capture our best memories.

     Cozy makes me picture fires in the fireplace, warm blankets on the bed, & the smells of fall in my kitchen.  But it also means good lighting (preferably on dimmers!), both natural & painted wood, & textures that are inviting to the touch.  It's an ambiance that invites people in, & makes them want to stay a little longer. Nine & Sixteen's kitchen renovation (shown below) is one of my favorites of all time.  It's not huge (& cozy usually isn't), but there seems to be a place for everything.  It exudes homeyness & warmth, has beautiful finishes, & is well-laid out.  Plus, the lighting kills me!  I am absolutely in love with her window placement, pendants, & sconces.  Didn't Tessa do a great job?  

     Whew!  That ended up being more of a novel than a quick lesson.  Hope it gave you some ideas of how to translate your style words into design.  And, of course, I'd always love to help you turn your words into reality!  Just email me at hcbinterors{at}gmail.com

Have a great week!