Let Your House Speak to You

A dear friend of mine, Eileen, gave me some very wise advice.  As she moved into her current gorgeous house, I remember her telling me that she lets the house tell her how it wants to be.  After moving and renovating, she realized that you can’t totally design a house before living there.  Over time, it tells you how it wants to be.  

And it makes total sense.  You can’t fully understand how a space needs to work without living in it day after day.  And yet, I’ve always tried to do the opposite.  We’ve moved so many times and have planned so many renovations, and each time, I try to design everything up front.  Now obviously, things like tile and major choices are going to be made beforehand in many cases.  But I always try to plan where every piece of furniture will go, how each space will function.  I like envisioning a whole house before we ever move in.

But this house, maybe because it’s so much smaller than all our others, is showing me just how true this is.

Now that we’ve done the first real round of settling into our cottage, I’ve noticed areas that need tweaking.  This house feels surprisingly big to us for 1100 square feet, but that’s come with a lot of work to streamline and maximize function.  I’ve done continual rounds of purging things that aren’t necessary and are taking up needed space.  But I’ve also started doing “revisions” on spaces that aren’t working as hard as they could or that just don’t feel right as we live each day in them.

Our living room really felt right to me when I revealed it back in the fall.  But as we’ve lived with it, I realized our entry wall felt off.

You can check out the official living room reveal here and details on “My Favorite Things” gallery wall here.  I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what felt off here because I did think this area of our room was just so pretty!  But pretty has become an afterthought for me with design, where it used to be the main goal.  Isn’t it funny how age and growing does that to us?  It changes what matters most and what we prioritize.

As I shared in an earlier post, our plan for the TV in this house was to bring it out intentionally when we wanted to watch a movie or something, but keep it put away most of the time.  Well, as you can imagine, it started just staying out.  I know families who move it for watching like that, but for us, it didn’t seem to work in this season.  I wouldn’t move it back and then when you constantly see it, you want to watch it more.  That was especially true for Rosie!  I wanted a way to leave it out where it was still out of sight.

But, I also felt like this side of the space needed some height.  When I’d stare at the room, I wanted some height to mirror the fireplace on the other side, I think.  Something about the space felt visually off.

I hadn’t really put all this together yet and didn’t have anything in mind,  but I wanted a change.  Then, in tweaking another area in the house, I found somewhere I wanted to use these chests!  Don’t you love when that happens?  Shopping the house is always best!  I’ll share more about that area soon.

But that same day, I was talking with my mom and she mentioned an armoire of my grandmother’s they didn’t have a home for.  The TV could fit inside it, it had height, and had the storage we needed!  Perfect.  And it had meaning being my grandparents.  And it was free!  Again, don’t you just love when that happens?

We brought it in and it immediately made the space feel better!  There’s still plenty of tweaking to do in this space, but I really want to move more toward sharing progress and changes as it happens rather than just a final result, so here is this wall today!

It is solid wood, which I really appreciate!  I have grown to really love wood pieces in certain spots, but we will likely paint it.  It isn’t an antique and while it’s good quality, I know I’ll love it forever painted!  I’m thinking a rich cream. While I do love color, I’m being more and more drawn to neutrals so that the colors or patterns I choose to use really shine!  And this room feels like it has enough color and the cream will really balance it all.

I especially think cream will work well alongside the “heavier” gallery wall.

The wall’s configuration will need some definite shifting and tweaking, but it won’t require too much re-work thankfully!

I am absolutely loving having our TV closed up inside.  It’s handy for the few times a week it gets watched right now, but the doors close right up and we aren’t staring at it all the time!  There’s room inside for some additional shelves, so we may add that to increase storage in here.  Currently, this shift did cause less storage in the entry, but I was already planning to re-organize what we put where so this didn’t affect us.

All of my work stuff, our craft stuff and some of Rosie’s things were in the drawers before and it was not working well that Rosie had such easy access to so many things.  Keeping the house remotely clean when she was constantly pulling a million small things out was a frustrating battle.  And none of them were things she needed all-the-time access to.  So I found a new place for those things and what I actually wanted stored in here was much less.  Now, the drawers are organized with her coloring things, so she can easily pull it out, color on the coffee table, and then put it away herself.  

A simplified life and home becomes more and more appealing to us and this is the perfect example as to why!  She now has access to much less than before and she lingers much longer playing with what’s there.  Before, Tornado Rosie would come through, pull it all out, and move on in five minutes because there was so much she couldn’t actually hone in on anything to enjoy!

While form has become second to function in my mind, there is something to be said for how a space affects us visually and makes us feel.  If the space is too cluttered, I become stressed.  For me, scale isn’t always a priority, but when it bothers me, it really bothers me.  The scale of this piece in the space has made the entire room feel different to us!  Chris and I both love it so much more.

I can’t wait to see it painted a lovely cream and have the wall tweaked so it feels less cluttered and fits around the new furniture well.  It’s not at the top of the priority list, so who knows when we’ll get there, but this initial change already feels so good!

And how is Dax so big that he’s already standing?  He already has a much more adventurous spirit than Rosie, so getting rid of the climbing temptation dressers pose is a relief as well.  

There is so much I have on the list to share about where our current cottage is at!  I always hope to share more quickly than I’ve been able to lately, but it seems sick babies and life in general just keeps pushing my time table.  But hoping for more updates soon, friends!  Thank you for your always kind words about our journey!

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11 Comments

Love it so much and it will look great painted as well:-) I cannot stand to see a TV in my own home, and thought I was the only person left on earth who had it hidden when not in use. Love how you are settling in and love so much that you’re sharing how to live big in a smaller space. And that boy — he is growing!!

Oh man, as soon as I heard you say “cream,” my heart just sighed with contentment ha ha. I wish our TV was hidden, but I also really like our media stand, so it’s just not an option at this point. Love how you’ve been able to make a change that worked for y’all AND ended up being for the better in your home. Have missed your regular posts, so I got so excited when I saw the article image pop up on your home page! (Obviously, family/babies/personal time comes first, just know that you’re missed and noticed when you’re less active.) 🙂

First, so happy to see a post today 🙂 Second, your kids are the cutest. Third, I can totally relate to the constant tweaking that happens in a small house. I’m also starting to choose function as a priority before form. I think it’s possible to achieve both, but I’m much more interested in things having a “purpose” these days instead of filling our house with a bunch of stuff. I’ve just been drawn more and more to simplify and minimize. I feel like I notice and appreciate more this way. I have a long way to go, but hey, it’s a start 😉

So glad to see you’ve found a functional AND attractive way to keep the TV under control. It can so take over your life! I think I’m looking forward to seeing how you lay out your pictures almost as much as I want to see how the armoire turns out. You always find such interesting ways of presenting beloved curios, and I need inspiration! (For what it’s worth, I have a chest of drawers in a style similar to the armoire, and found that replacing the hardware went a long way toward helping it blend in to the space I had, while I was waiting to get time to paint it.)

I really love seeing your updates. I love a home that looks collected and has meaningful decor.
When you paint the cabinet I wanted to suggest that you maybe flip the doors upside down so the square is on the top. Also you could trim the bottom molding or add new to make it straight. I thought to suggest this to match the style of your kitchen cabinets.

We have our TV in a vintage cabinet and not only di we prefer that look, but the TV is protected from our busy boys.

I love a happy ending!!! So sweet that you could use your something from your family. I just found a CL armoire for my boys’ small room…. and I painted it your BM Hidden Falls color :).