What I'm Reading

 

I happen to be right in the middle of a love triangle with these three books:

For Christmas, my Dad bought me The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith and Elements of Style by Erin Gates which I devoured over the course of several beach afternoons while on vacation.

Me for three straight days.

Me for three straight days.

To deal with my rebound sadness of good books ending too soon, I ran out as soon as possible and found Design Bloggers at Home by Ellie Tennant, which I'm currently reading (only now it's back in Michigan underneath 3 blankets sipping hot tea in front of a space heater - I'll spare you the pic).

These are all books written by design bloggers, so imagine you're getting the greatest hits of some of the most talented design bloggers out there right now in a format you can really feel and touch. Yes, real paper pages, with beautiful glossy photos all appropriately sized. And this is the exact reason why I have no idea where my Kindle is. Some things just don't translate.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful 

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful 

1. I'll start with The Nesting Place, where the message rings closest to my heart. Bottom line: don't strive for perfection in your home or in yourself and most importantly, don't make excuses for imperfection; that is where the beauty is. Myquillyn Smith is your relatable suburban mom with a huge passion for creating beautiful homes. Sometimes reading interior design books leaves me feeling like the nerd that doesn't belong at the cool kid table - every photo oozing with money, designer names, and more money. You know, where everything is staged to perfection even down to the Hermes orange perfectly pressed throw blanket. Who's life is this anyway? This book is nothing like that. The photos look real, like a real family actually lives there and lots of love inhabit her walls. Case in Point:

Smith's bedroom wall she created out of simple white tape laid out in a diamond pattern.

Smith's bedroom wall she created out of simple white tape laid out in a diamond pattern.

She shares her story of multiple moves (and mostly rental living), mothering three kids, a husband that loses his job, financial stress - your average run of the mill list of things you can probably identify with somewhere. In other words, real life. Yet she doesn't let her circumstances quiet her inner passion. In fact, the boundaries that arise: no decorating budget, raising three young boys, living in rental homes - all of these perceived limitations for the "perfect" designer showpiece of a home fuel her creativity and lead her down a path of finding acceptance and love for what she DOES HAVE. And what happens is she turns her house into a home, over and over again. 

She inspired me to take more risks, like not being afraid to paint an old estate sale dresser without getting it all professionally sanded and prepped. Because our perception of how things are SUPPOSED to be done is what holds us back. Just literally paint the damn thing and see what happens. Some things will fail and some things will be brilliant. But have fun in the process, be playful and enjoy it. This book has a spiritual level to it that helped me put into place why I love design so much; it's an expression of our soul. Although things can be beautiful, they do not define beauty; a beautiful home is a reflection of the love that inhabits it.

2. The next one was Elements of Style by Erin Gates, a very successful blogger and interior designer in the Boston area.

This book is totally different and equally as delightful and inspiring. Erin is definitely more of a polished, buttoned-up designer but her photos are GORJ, like every single one is pin-worthy. This girl just has an eye. She really gives a lot of practical tips and tricks, like what countertop she most prefers in the kitchen, why a drapery should be hung as close to the crown molding as possible, and how to find the right ratio of print/pattern/texture in a room. But not only that, she shares her real life stories which are full of redeeming, ridiculous and sometimes even heart-wrenching truths about her life. This is why this book is not annoyingly perfect. She shares her true self. Again, what shines is a beautiful passion that has been harnessed and shared with the world. 

Gates' famous leopard print stairwell she designed for her own house.

Gates' famous leopard print stairwell she designed for her own house.

A bedroom designed by Gates.

A bedroom designed by Gates.

Practical tip from Gates: IKEA Malm Dresser hack with added brass ring hardware.

Practical tip from Gates: IKEA Malm Dresser hack with added brass ring hardware.

3. Design Bloggers at Home by Ellie Tennant is a crazy fun trip into the homes of successful design bloggers near and far, from rural California to seaside in Sweden to cottage life in England. It's pretty much just eye candy; I'll be honest. What I appreciate here is the eclectic and well-curated presentation. Again, what inspires me is how to make cool stuff out of almost nothing, like the wall of this blogger in Sweden who says she keeps black tape on hand at all times so she can switch up her photo montage wall (black tape now on my to-buy list).

Isn't that what speaks to all of us? I'll never buy a book on how-to-spend-a-lot-of-money-on-a-prepackaged-home-that-looks-better-than-your-neighbor. Creativity is born out of restrictions, limitations and boundaries. If you have all the money in the world and access to the most renowned interior designers your house better look damn good! But what if you don't? Where does that leave the rest of us? In a better place. Because now you have to think, dig deep, draw from your inspiration and use whatever you got. Go.

With enough money, anyone can create a pretty house. But it takes intention to create a home.
— Myquillyn Smith