This old house

So I mentioned before I took my brief hiatus last week that my friend and decorator Holly Mathis had come to visit and helped me out with some decorating ideas. And I was ever so grateful because there are honestly things in this house that haven’t been moved or touched in almost nine years.

Which is what I explained to Holly before she even walked in the door because you know what’s stressful? Having a decorator come to your house to view all your decor. So I felt the need to over-explain that we’d renovated our house nine years ago and then brought Caroline home from the hospital two weeks after we’d moved back in and I’ve essentially been in survival mode ever since that time.

And the thing is, I used to love decorating. I’d spend hours browsing through furniture stores and even kept a little binder full of house ideas that I’d pulled from pages of Southern Living and Better Homes and Garden.

(Can we discuss how obsolete binders are now that there’s Pinterest? If I want to feel really bad about the current state of my decor or my craft abilities or the fact that I don’t make Caroline’s lunch into cute shapes, I need look no further than my Pinterest boards.)

But then I had a child and went without sleep for three years. Then I quit my job and it seemed more important to eat than to have a pretty living room. And then one day I looked up and realized I still had fake ivy on top of the china cabinet in my dining room and it was time for an intervention.

Thank God for Holly. She and I had talked about a few ideas over the last year or so, but I just couldn’t get it going. I talked a big game but then it was summer and then I had a hangnail and then I had to write a book and so that ivy just sat on top of my china cabinet.

Mocking me.

(True confession. The china cabinet doesn’t hold china. It holds six placemats, our wedding album, an envelope full of warranties and instructions for all our appliances, various craft supplies, and the game CatchPhrase.)

(This should be a clue as to my organization skills because, clearly, all those things go together.)

I promise Holly had only been in my house ten minutes before we had fabric picked out for the couch, throw pillows, living room chairs and dining room chairs. It was like Nate Berkus had walked in. But cuter and more fun.

She would walk around with her measuring tape and announce, “You’ll need two pillows here. Make them 12 x 30″. I didn’t even know you could get pillows that are 12 x 30.

So I just typed things furiously into the notes on my phone and bookmarked stuff on my computer while she basically redecorated my entire house in her head. I’ve never been so happy. Because at some point I became a person who just wants someone to tell me how to get things to look the way I want them and not have to think about it. I have enough stress worrying about Bethenny Frankel and Jason and hoping they can make it work.

And it’s not like I can do it all now because to redecorate the whole house would be right over my normal $15 price point. But it gives me a long-term goal. The sad news is it’s a lot cheaper to just look at pretty rooms on Pinterest.

Anyway, after Holly and I spent the early afternoon devising a plan (I think we all know that I wasn’t devising anything. I was just nodding my head.) we headed to Pier One, Target and World Market to look for a few things. And I was amazed because Holly would walk in each store, scan around and immediately find the two or three things we were looking for.

If I had been alone I would have walked in, spent two hours agonizing over everything, and left with nothing but regret.

We were basically looking for white pottery pieces for the top of my cabinets, some decorative plates, glass canisters and lanterns. Oh, and maybe a lamp. Or anything else that looked interesting.

The plan is to hang a fun assortment of plates on the wall in my dining room. Here’s a little bit of what we laid out so far. I need to pick out a few more which probably means Holly is going to have to come back because DECISIONS – not my strong suit.


Holly also suggested that some lanterns might look cute on the mantle. And to spray paint them red. Total madness. But I loved the idea. We found great tall lanterns at Pier One. Then I found spray paint at Home Depot in Colonial Red.

And then P spray painted them for me because he watched me try to do it and informed me I am a complete failure in the spray-painting department. Or maybe I’m a genius because guess who didn’t end up with Colonial Red spray paint all over my hands?

They turned out really cute.


Please disregard that frame and the wall color because all that is about to change since I’m also about to paint the living room and dining room and hallway and guest room just as soon as we hire someone to float and tape all the cracks in this house. Because you know what a drought does to an old house? Ugly, unspeakable things.

So the walls will eventually be a soft gray and there will be built-ins in the living room to hold the T.V. even though it looks super classy propped up on our church pew right now. Jesus and television, my two loves together.

Maybe I’ll put some fake ivy on top of the T.V. in the meantime.

Anyway, it will be a work in progress over the next few months but I’ll keep you updated on everything as we go and maybe I’ll even get fancy and have before and after photos.

In the meantime, I’m motivated to get rid of all the junk in this house and am cleaning out every room from top to bottom.

But I’ll save that post for tomorrow because, seriously, this is already over 1,000 words and you’ve probably already quit reading by now anyway.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when I will feature the contents of my nightstand. It will be riveting.

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  1. Pretty says

    Construction grade light switches= bad!
    It’s a little thing that people rarely think about, but can ruin a whole room. Just a tip!

  2. says

    I love the red lanterns! I need Holly to come here, to Georgia. :) also, please tell me her solution for the top of your china cabinet, because as soon as I read that I looked over and I have fake ivy on my china cabinet. I’ve hated it for months and I’m going to blame it on our little girl being 6 months old when we moved as the reason it’s there (she’s only 13 months now, so it wasn’t that long ago!). I can’t wait to see what changes you make!!

    Ash121402 on twitter

  3. Lisa says

    I LOVE the IDEA of a thorough top to bottom cleaning of my whole entire house. I started a few weeks ago by going through my clothes. Sounds reasonable. I found a nursing bra in my underwear drawer and lost hope. My youngest is 10 years old.

    Please keep posting about your progress. Maybe you can pull me out of this pit! :)

  4. Jenny F. says

    Lovely! Exciting and motivating.. My daughter is off in her second year of college and I’m in desparate need of updating and cleaning out. I’m looking forward to your progress posts..

  5. Rebecca says

    Don’t know if you have had time to see this month’s Southern Living, but I laughed out loud when I saw page 49! You can spray paint the antelope of the Lord white and be totally “in!”
    Enjoy all your new pretties!

  6. says

    ooo—I loooove decorating posts! I hope you’ll take some good Before & After shots. Readers love those. Holly is a sweetheart, and oh so talented! You are a lucky girl to have her come and give you decorating advice! LOVE the lantern!

  7. Karen says

    I don’t know about your Nate Berkus comment. He’s pretty cute and seems pretty fun!!

  8. says

    Your two favorite things–Jesus and television. Big Mama, I knew we were bossom buddies. You are so eloquent and true with your words. And also, I think I’m going to need a Holly intervention, because I have fake holly on top of 3 wardrobes right this very minute. And I’m pretty sure 2 of them haven’t been dusted in at least a year. Do we even need to talk about the fact that I have 3 wardrobes? They are spread around the house, but still.

    Can’t wait to hear all about your remodeling progress! You might even inspire me to ditch the silk ivies ( ivys?) in my house. AND the 1992 basket that said ivies live in.

  9. gulley says

    You know Nena says the Bible and her TV are her two most prized possessions.

  10. says

    the plates are so fun!!!
    red lanterns-excellent choice. ( i say that as if i have any design knowledge or opinions worth sharing)
    can’t wait to see more missy!

  11. heidig says

    I can’t wait to see what you do but I’m not sure I need to know the contents of your nightstand. Somehow that falls into the “TMI” category.

  12. Cheryl says

    I would love to see the befores…. can’t quite picture the tv/pew thing.

  13. BethA says

    “This is already over 1000 words and you’ve probably quit reading by now” — oh, no, Big Mama. You are soooo wrong. I will NOT quit reading. I look forward to your posts every weekday. And can hardly wait for your book to come out. Love ya, girl! You are the funniest!

  14. Colorado says

    You are so lucky! Can Holly come to my house and do her magic? Ivy on the china cabinet: check. Beige blah walls: check. Bedspread circa 1998: check. I could go on and on.

  15. Makila says

    I read it all! :) I think you should do a series of “This Old House.”

    I am looking forward to your book. If/when you do one of those fancy book tours, can yo please come to Iowa? :). I promise it isn’t scary. If you come in August, I can take you to the Iowa State Fair…all things on a stick, including Fried butter. I haven’t tried it! :)

    • Lisa says

      Second this, all Big Mama readers to IA in August, cause really heat, humidity and 100,000 people per day at the Fair is about the funnest thing ever or not…but I’d love to meet you and have you sign a book for me.

      I cleaned and organized a couple things at home yesterday as I was on the search for something, even cleaned out the glove compartment of my car and found the extra key to my car because clearly that’s a great place to keep it.

  16. Pam says

    We had to take EVErYTHING… our our interior/ exterior walls when we had all of our
    Siding and windows replaced in January……and oh my word….. after the pictures
    And various other things were removed there was dirt… a dust left behind……so my husband announced we were hiring someone to paint the entire main floor of the house!!!
    This may sound exciting. BUT ……the anxiety level was off the charts……7 rooms….remove all drapes and rods…….purge all crap…..or a treasures…..glad to say it’s done……it looks beautiful……someone actually asked me who my decoator was…. I appreciated the complement…….still can’t find a few things since I reorganized…..but to have it all clean at once is a wonderful feeling.

  17. Kristen says

    We have recently moved into a new house and I am slowly starting to unpack. The indecision over where to put things and the wonder of why I have kept certain items for so long can be paralyzing! Good for you getting Holly to come and help you through those decisions! Can’t wait to see more of the progress.

  18. Alyson says

    Fingers crossed I’ll be able to view the pics. :)
    I have TONS of ideas for our house but unfortuantely those things cost money, something we have very little of. Think Holly could help me for free? :)

  19. says

    I’m loving those plates.

    I remember, pre-kids, poring over magazines and being on top of every decorating trend. But now? Not so much.

    I remember as a kid, walking into old ladies’ houses and thinking how outdated they were with their orange carpet and avocado appliances. Yeah. I’m that old lady now. Next thing you know, I’ll have a macrame owl hanging over the toilet.

  20. says

    LOVE! Can’t wait to see the pics!
    Just found some pretty plates to do a wall display with while garage saleing last week with my BFF.
    And after that last sentence I once again realized my 20 year old self would be so embarrassed and yet my 40 year old self doesn’t care.

  21. Jenny says

    I’m so excited for you to redecorate…it always breathes fresh life into a home. After we paint something I always say to my husband “Wow, that looked so bad before…I never knew such a small thing could make such a BIG impact!”

    Bethenny and Jason..I am not kidding when I tell you that I am praying for them. I love them both and want them to work it out!! It stresses me out to watch the show, but I can’t turn away!

  22. Jeanie says

    Can’t wait to follow this journey with you. Exciting, is what it is. And I love the little red and white bird plate.

  23. Twice Five Miles says

    I actually probably WOULD be riveted by a disclosure of the nightstand contents. It’s sort of like seeing into someone’s purse.

    Ditto the red-and-white bird plate. Love.

  24. says

    Holly came to my house a couple years ago and did the same thing-AMAZING. I wrote it all down and am trying to implement it little by little. It already looks much better. Good luck & have fun!

  25. says

    Oh, my, I totally do the look for two hours and end up with nothing thing. All the time. I’d love to have someone come and give me direction. Have fun! And I can’t wait to hear about your nightstand. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it riveting.

  26. says

    If you run out of decluttering steam at any point, just watch an episode or two of Hoarders. I’d never seen it before last night, and it was all I could do to stop myself from wresting my teenagers out of their beds at 11pm and begin to clean their closet.

  27. Michele says

    I am going to have my artist friend make me a wall board with the quote “Jesus and television, the two loves of my life” I have been laughing because it describes me perfectly. Forget about my 4 children and husband. My husband will change television to HGTV.

  28. Andrea says

    Holy cow…..why have I not been to your blog before…shoot….now I won’t get anything done because I have to go through your past blog posts…..hope my boss doesn’t mind! Love the plates…..I know that you will post sources so I can run out..again..with my boss’ blessing…and get me a few…love them. Cant wait to see the transformation…….

    I think Holly is genius! I wish she would come to my house.


  29. says

    I just popped over from Holly’s blog.
    Thanks for taking me along on your decorating journey. I had fun imagining Holly shopping with you…she’s the huntress for sure.

    Your writing style is so fun. 1000 words already? Wow that was fast!

    I’ll be back!

  30. Kelsie says

    Two laugh-out-loud moments: “Anyway, after Holly and I spent the early afternoon devising a plan (I think we all know that I wasn’t devising anything. I was just nodding my head.)” and “And then P spray painted them for me because he watched me try to do it and informed me I am a complete failure in the spray-painting department.” This post made my day even better! I was going to say it made my day – and end with that, BUT I’ve already had such a great day!! 😀