DIY Throw Pillows and Vintage Artwork: One Room Challenge Week 3

Hi, everyone! I’m back for week 3 of the One Room Challenge.

If you’re finding me through the One Room Challenge, welcome to my home on the internet! I’m Avery and I live in rural Iowa with my husband. You can learn more about me here, and see some of my previous design work in my kitchen. My design style is cozy, whimsical, and collected. I’ll be sharing my One Room Challenge progress on my Holland Avenue Home Instagram. Thanks for following along!

Here’s a recap of my posts for the One Room Challenge so far.

Week 1: Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Design Plan

Week 2: Moody Accent Wall

And here’s a reminder of my vision for our colorful, cozy, eclectic Master Bedroom Update. master bedroom moodboardThis is what the view looked like after I painted a moody accent wall . (Paint color details can be found in my Week 2 post!)


I said last week that the accent wall made such a difference that I would be happy to stop there and call it good. But I am so glad I kept going, because the new pillows and artwork add so much personality and warmth!

Here’s what our bedroom looks like after the addition of some custom throw pillows and special vintage artwork.



The colorful fabric on the pillows makes everything feel so warm!


The indigo throw at the end of the bed is from the Chelsea Flea Market in New York City. I picked it up on my trip to New York a few weeks ago for the Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker Celebration. (My recap post is still coming. I’ve been busy!)


The Pillows and Indigo

When I saw the berry colored floral bird fabric at Mood, I knew instantly that it needed to be in my house. It is my “spirit fabric”. It’s like a spirit animal, but fabric. If I were a pillow, I would be this floral bird pillow. I decided I needed to find Ben’s “spirit fabric” since it’s his bed, too, so I found this green plaid flannel that I knew he would love. Now we have both of our “spirit fabrics” as pillows for our bed, and I’m pretty giddy about it. I already had the navy euro pillows from Ikea.

My original plan was to sew standard shams from the bird fabric to place in front of the euro pillows, but after doing some research about proper bed making I decided that it would be better to sew two 20×20 pillow covers. The advantage to this decision is that if I ever get tired of them on my bed (which I don’t foresee), I could always put them on my couch. I couldn’t put two standard shams on my couch. (Well… I guess I can do whatever I want… but in the design world, that might be silly!) I bought the lumbar pillow form from Hobby Lobby, and I already had the two 20×20 pillow inserts for the bird fabric.

I’m absolutely in love with how everything came together, and the warm colors and faded indigo throw are a match made in heaven. I’ve recently been attracted to darker, moodier colors, and this new bedding fits right in with those changing preferences.

The Artwork

When Courtney from Dandy Roll reached out about partnering together, it only took one glimpse at their Instagram page for me to say “YES YES YES!”

I met Courtney in Joplin when we both had paper companies and sold greeting cards and art prints at craft fairs. She now owns a boutique in Rogers, Arkansas, with her husband. Dandy Roll has a wide selection of curated vintage prints. Whether you’re looking for botanical printsvintage maps, or my favorite, vintage bird prints, she has it all.

Here are a few of my favorites that she has available online right now.

bird print

No. 1 | Vintage birds


No. 2| Pigeon print


I’ve also had my eye on this Oak Stopper Carafe.

I love everything that Courtney has curated for Dandy Roll, but the prints she sent me have a special significance for me and Ben.

I asked if she had any vintage maps of Iowa, and she did! That got my wheels turning, and I had the idea to frame a series of maps that represent the places that Ben and I have immediate family. She happened to have three maps (all from the same series) that I could frame as a set! From left to right, the maps are Turkey (where Ben’s parents live), Iowa (where Ben’s sister and her family, Ben’s brother, and we live), and Kentucky (where my parents and sister live). This personal touch is very special to us. I love vintage maps of all sorts, but it is very cool to have a visual representation of the places that are dear to us.

They are the perfect addition to this moody green accent wall, and I love the vintage warmth and personality that they add to this view.

Thank you, Courtney, for adding such a special treasure to our home!


After a few inquiries on Instagram, I said I would share a tutorial for the pillow covers I made. I don’t have time to include them in this evening’s post, but I will share that tutorial with some photos as soon as I can!

I originally planned to stain our Ikea nighstands this week, but after seeing them against the moody accent wall, we decided to leave them. We were going to stain them so there would be more contrast, but after adding the darker paint color we liked the look of the lighter wood. (Especially because the lamp legs, headboard, doors, and trim are all darker wood). Yes, it is one less change for the update, but I wasn’t going to do something just for the sake of blogging about it. We like them just the way they are, so I’m calling it good!

This week I will start on my updates for the sunroom (which is just on the other side of that door in the photo above). I’ll be clearing it out, finishing the white paint, and starting my mural that is inspired by the floral bird fabric! Aside from styling the rest of our bedroom, the sunroom will be the majority of the next three weeks of the challenge. I know that the hand-painted mural will be time consuming, but I find painting to be very therapeutic. Ben will be volunteering to run sound for the local high school’s theater production, so I’ll have quite a few evenings home by myself to paint paint paint (and paint some more.)

That’s all for this week! If you’re looking for a CHEAP and high-impact way to make a big change in your bedroom, new pillow covers are the way to go. You don’t need to buy all new bedding or new pillows. Just recover pillows you already have! I have white sheets and duvets on all of our beds so that I can easily switch out pillow covers when I want a style change. 

I’ll be back next Thursday with more progress on my Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Update. Be sure to check out all of the other Guest Participants in the One Room Challenge to follow along with their progress!

I’ll share behind the scenes sneak peeks on my Instagram Stories this week, so follow along there if you want the inside scoop on mural painting before next Thursday! If you’d like to be reminded when new posts go live, enter your email in the “Brighten my Inbox” tab on the right side of your screen. 

Thanks for following along with me here on Holland Avenue Home, and don’t forget to follow along with the rest of the One Room Challenge Blog to see all of the Featured and Guest Designers!

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one room challenge logo

(UPDATE: Don’t miss the last three posts for this six-week challenge!)

Hand-Painted Modern Chinoiserie Mural: One Room Challenge Week 4

Ikea Dresser Makeover: One Room Challenge Week 5

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Before & After: One Room Challenge Week 6


Moody Accent Wall: One Room Challenge Week 2

Hi, everyone! I’m back for week 2 of the One Room Challenge.

You can catch up with my design plan in Week 1. 

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Design Plan: One Room Challenge Week 1

If you’re finding me through the One Room Challenge, welcome to my home on the internet! I’m Avery and I live in rural Iowa with my husband. You can learn more about me here, and see some of my previous design work in my kitchen. My design style is cozy, whimsical, and collected. I’ll be sharing my One Room Challenge progress on my Holland Avenue Home Instagram. Thanks for following along!

*this post contains affiliate links*

The only change I made this week was painting a moody accent wall behind our bed, but it made such a dramatic impact (and for only $20) that I would be content if I stopped here! The room was olive green when we moved in, which didn’t fit our style, so we painted it pale grey. It was nice to have a minimal, blank slate in our bedroom, and I intentionally kept decor to a minimum in this room for the last two and a half years. While I still intend to keep things simple, I was longing for some contrast and warmth in a space that felt too grey.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like before.

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The pale grey walls, white lampshades, light wood nightstands, and white bedding all kind of blended together. Nothing really “popped” because there wasn’t much contrast. I wanted to choose a color that would complement our wood trim and wood headboard, and would make the space feel warm without being too dark. This room gets the least natural light in the whole house, so we didn’t want it to feel like a cave by painting all of the walls a really dark color.

I settled on the color “Luxe” by Magnolia Home paint with Kilz. All of the colors in the new Magnolia paint collection are gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong with any color choice! I bought my paint from Ace Hardware in Des Moines, Iowa. The collection is only available from select Ace Hardware stores and from Target carries a handful of colors, but does not have a wide selection. Lucky for you, you can find this color at your local Target or on!


The name “Luxe” describes this color so well. It feels “luxe” and is a moody greenish bluish that is both muted and saturated. I don’t know how you do it, Joanna, but I’m glad you do. Pictures really can’t capture how dreamy this color is in person, but I tried to get a few good shots before all of the natural light was gone!


Ta-daaa! Like I said before, this room does not get much natural light and I took this photo around 5:00pm on a cloudy day. IMG_9888

This was exactly what needed to happen in this room. It doesn’t make the whole room feel too dark, because it is just on one wall that is opposite from the two windows. The greenish bluish tones complement the reddish wood tones, and it makes everything feel warm and luxurious and cozy. I loved the way it looked in the natural light, but when it got dark outside and I turned on our lamps I kind of wanted to give the wall a hug. The warm, yellow glow of our lamps made the paint look extra warm and dreamy, so I’m basically convinced that this paint color can do no wrong.


Is that dreamy or what?!?!

I’ll be pulling in some more warm colors with the fabric I’m using for new throw pillows. I also have some special artwork to frame and hang above our bed, but that is all for another week!

I shared a bit on my Instagram stories today about imitation versus inspiration. Everything about my design plan for this room was a result of my own creativity, and I did not seek out any external “inspiration” during the design process. I made paint color and fabric choices based on what my husband and I love and what I knew would work well in our space. Beige carpet, dark wood trim, and almost no natural light are factors I just have to work with. I made decisions based around these factors and my own personal style instead of looking for something on Pinterest to imitate. I truly love what I designed, and I can’t wait to see it all come together.

And then I saw a photo on Instagram this morning.

It was an all white room with all white bedding and neutral/minimal everything else. And I really, really liked it. It looked so serene and bright, and the room had a ton of natural light. I started to regret my decision to paint a dark wall and use dark fabrics. What was I thinking? It wouldn’t look anything like the all white bedroom I just saw and loved. Maybe I made the wrong choice…

Then I had an important realization…

“I can like someone else’s style without having to imitate it in my own home.”

It is so simple, and maybe you’ve already had this realization. But as I’ve struggled to discover my own style, I’ve been thrown off every time I see a new style that I love. One day I see white walls with white bedding and I think, “Oh, now that’s nice.” The next, I see a bedroom with rich colors and textures and moody accents and I think, “Well that’s nice, too! But it is the exact opposite of all white!” I’ve been wrestling with where to land when I see so many drastically different styles that I “like”. I felt like I needed to pick one style category and stay there, but the only problem was that I couldn’t pick just one that I liked! Have you been there, too?

I think I’ve discovered why I was so confused about my style.

In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, our screens and feeds and minds and hearts are inundated with “inspiration”. The sheer amount of images you see in a day is overwhelming at best, and damaging at worst.

Sure, inspiration is a wonderful thing. But I don’t think most people are using Pinterest for inspiration. We are using it to become imitators.

I see a style or a project I like, and I want to imitate it. I see a photo on Instagram of a beautifully styled space, and I want my space to look like that, too (never mind that my house is structurally and architecturally different, my lifestyle is different, and my current belongings are not even close to being able to achieve that look). Have you ever done this? One moment, you’re scrolling through a person’s feed, and you’re “inspired” by the clutter free, minimalistic, all neutral beauty and you want to throw away everything in sight. And the VERY next moment, you’re “inspired” by someone with meaningful collected artwork and vintage furnishings and colorful accents. Where is the middle ground? How can I imitate both of those styles in my own home? How can I both throw away everything and also collect lots of cool stuff? The short answer? You can’t, and you don’t need to.

I can like someone else’s style without needing to imitate it in my own home.

Instead of seeing, liking, and imitating, I can see, like, and move on. I can be “inspired” by other styles, but they do not have to influence my own style. I don’t have to choose which person’s style I like the best on Instagram. Because ultimately, imitating someone else’s style will not work out for the better. Yes, I could try to make my home look like someone else’s, but it just isn’t going to be the same.

In the midst of the Pinterest generation, I’m afraid we are sacrificing creating for imitating.

Think about it. Have you ever made a plan to update a space in your home, and the first thing you do is run to Pinterest for “inspiration”? You’re most likely not looking for inspiration, you’re looking for something to copy. I’ve been guilty of it. I see something that I like that doesn’t fit my home or my lifestyle, and I get frustrated when I can’t achieve it. It is a problem I hear from readers all the time.

I think that there is a better way.

Instead of imitating things you like on the internet in the name of “inspiration”, allow your own creativity to run free so that you can choose what is best for your home, your space, and your family.

White walls would not look great in our bedroom because of the lack of natural light, the beige carpet, and the wood trim. But a moody, greenish/bluish dreamy accent wall looks incredible, and my husband and I love it. We love it because I thought about what would be best for our space and fit our personal style, and then that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t think about whether or not it would photograph well (it doesn’t) or be the trendy thing on Instagram. I thought about what would reflect our style and fit like a puzzle piece in our home, and that’s something you just can’t achieve with a cheap imitation.

My encouragement to you is this. If you see a space that you really like (mine included) but the elements wouldn’t work for your own space, ask yourself what you like about the photo, and then try to incorporate some of those elements in a way that will work in your space. Don’t sacrifice your own creativity to imitate someone else. Don’t look for something to imitate and call it “inspiration”. You are far more creative than you think, and no one else knows what it is like to live in your home. You know better than Pinterest. You know better than the girl with the “perfect” house on Instagram.

Make design choices that reflect your style and your space, and I promise that you will love the way your home looks and feels.

That’s all for this week! I’ll be back next Thursday with more progress on my Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Update. Be sure to check out all of the other Guest Participants in the One Room Challenge to follow along with their progress!

I’ll share behind the scenes sneak peeks on my Instagram Stories this week, so follow along there if you want the inside scoop before next Thursday! If you’d like to be reminded when new posts go live, enter your email in the “Brighten my Inbox” tab on the right side of your screen. 

Thanks for following along with me here on Holland Avenue Home, and don’t forget to follow along with the rest of the One Room Challenge Blog to see all of the Featured and Guest Designers!

avery- signature

one room challenge logo

(UPDATE: Want to see the progress and finished result? Check out the other posts below!)

DIY Throw Pillows and Vintage Artwork: One Room Challenge Week 3

Hand-Painted Modern Chinoiserie Mural: One Room Challenge Week 4

Ikea Dresser Makeover: One Room Challenge Week 5

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Before & After: One Room Challenge Week 6

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Design Plan: One Room Challenge Week 1

Hi, everyone! I’m back after a short break from blogging and traveling to New York City for the Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker Celebration. I’ll share a recap of my trip later this week, but long story short- it was incredible!

If you’re finding me through the One Room Challenge, welcome to my home on the internet! I’m Avery and I live in rural Iowa with my husband. You can learn more about me here, and see some of my previous design work in my kitchen. My design style is cozy, whimsical, and collected. I’ll be sharing my One Room Challenge progress on my Holland Avenue Home Instagram. Thanks for following along!

While I was in NYC with Better Homes & Gardens, I went to Mood Fabrics and the Chelsea Flea Market and picked up a few souvenirs for our home. I planned to use the fabric from Mood to sew some new pillows for our bed, which snowballed  into the decision to enter the One Room Challenge as a guest participant! If you’re not familiar with The One Room Challenge™, here is the description from their website.

The One Room Challenge™ , currently in its fourteenth season, is a widely anticipated biannual event every April and October. Each round, twenty design influencers are selected to take the challenge and transform a space. Every Wednesday, the designers document their process while sharing their sources and professional advice over the six weekly posts.

In addition to following along, everyone with a blog is welcome to join the fun as a Guest Participant by linking their own room transformations up during the six weeks. Each Thursday, the internet and social media are flooded with interior design inspiration, ideas, and encouragement.

To date, more than 2,200 rooms have been transformed through the One Room Challenge™.

All 20 featured designers shared their design plans yesterday, and all guest participants are sharing design plans today. For the next six weeks, you can follow along with the featured designers on Wednesdays and the guest designers on Thursdays.

Now on to my design plans!

I wasn’t planning to buy fabric for pillows, but when I saw this gorgeous floral bird fabric at Mood, I wanted to sew all of the things. It is only available with a white background online, but in the store I was able to purchase the same print with a lovely berry colored background.

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This fabric was the inspiration for my entire design plan, and I’m so happy that my inspiration could come from something I loved and not from another person’s previous design. Creative inspiration from other designers can be good, but in the age of Pinterest it is easy to be influenced too much by what other people have already done instead of relying on your own creativity. I am making my own uninfluenced decisions without searching for a design to inspire me, and it feels incredibly refreshing.

Here are some recent “before” photos. The bed used to be on the opposite wall in front of a window, but we recently moved it to this wall. I don’t have a photo of the other side of the room (which is currently COVERED in clean laundry that needs to be put away. At least it’s clean?). We have a dresser to the left of the bed in between the door to our room and the closet door. There is a door to the right of the bed that leads to a master bedroom sunroom.

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The lighting in this photo was a bit strange because the light from the window was reflecting off of the headboard, but the headboard has a lot of different warm wood tones.



You can see the door to the sunroom in the reflection of the mirror.

Here is an older photo from when the bed was on the other wall (so you can see the curtains. )


I will be keeping all of our current bedroom furniture because we love it and there isn’t anything wrong with any of it!

My updates will come through paint, new pillows and additions to our bedding, refinishing the nightstands, and meaningful artwork. 

Here’s a look at my moodboard!

master bedroom moodboard

I’ll be painting an accent wall behind our bed, and leaving the other walls the same pale grey. I plan to stain the nightstands a darker color, and switch out the Ikea knobs with some unique Anthropologie knobs. I’ll be keeping our white bedding, but adding an indigo throw from the Chelsea flea market and some accent pillows with my fabrics from Mood.

I said on Instagram that I would keep this next part a surprise, but I want to make sure I’m abiding by the rules of the One Room Challenge, so I will go ahead and share the surprise now!

In addition to the main part of our bedroom, I will also be updating our master bedroom sunroom!

A few months ago, I began painting the room white. It previously had a dated wallpaper border, beige walls, and a lot of damage to the wood trim from the sun and extreme temperatures. I decided to paint everything white to give it a fresh and clean look. We don’t use the room, so I’m hoping that giving it some personality and love will encourage me to spend more time out there.

Here are some “before” photos from before I started painting the room white.


The above photo is very old (2 years). The desk was in the house when we moved in, and we sold it on Facebook. We’re also currently trying to sell the giant chair and ottoman. This room has been so neglected, and is currently being used to store our suitcases, random decor that I’m planning to get rid of, and clothes I’m going to sell. It still has the pale green shades, which I’m planning to remove.

Here are my plans for the space!


The room has beautiful hardwood floors, and the beginnings of white paint have really brightened up the space. I’m picking up the West Elm glider from Des Moines on Friday, and it might just be the best Craigslist deal of all Craigslist deals in the history of Craigslist deals. We already have all of the other decorative elements in the moodboard.

The main attraction in this space will be the hand painted mural! This photo of a mural from Anthropologie is serving as a placeholder for my own hand-painted mural. It will be inspired by the style and colors of my pillow fabric from Mood.

That’s my design plan, and I’m sticking to it!

Be sure to check out the One Room Challenge Blog to explore the other Featured and Guest Designers, and check back next week for my progress! If you’d like to receive an email when new posts go live, enter your email in the “Brighten My Inbox” tab on the right side of your screen. I’ll also be sharing daily updates on my Instagram Stories.

That’s it for this week- thanks for following along!

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one room challenge logo

Update: Follow along with all 6 weeks of the challenge through the links below!

Moody Accent Wall: One Room Challenge Week 2

DIY Throw Pillows and Vintage Artwork: One Room Challenge Week 3

Hand-Painted Modern Chinoiserie Mural: One Room Challenge Week 4

Ikea Dresser Makeover: One Room Challenge Week 5

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Before & After: One Room Challenge Week 6


Welcome to Holland Avenue!

This blog is an invitation to thoughtful homemaking, and it is my goal to encourage resourcefulness and good stewardship in all areas of home life. I want to use my love for design as a way to serve others, and your support of this blog makes that possible. Thank you.

If you want to be notified when new posts go live, click the “follow” button on the sidebar under the “Brighten Your Inbox” header. You can also follow Holland Avenue Home on Instagram for post announcements and daily encouragement toward thoughtful homemaking.

(Disclaimer before you jump into the home tour: These photos were all taken at different times. I like to switch accessories and art around, so you might see some of the same accessories in different places! One day soon I’d like to clean and style the whole house to take some nice photos, but I’ve had so many more important things to do recently- like live my actual unstyled life. These photos are a very close representation of what each room looks like right this second, but if you want to know what my house actually looks like right now, just picture junk on the dining room table and laundry on the bedroom floor and general unstyled, lived-in, real life happening everywhere.)

I’ve linked furniture and decor where I can on the Shop My Home page, and I linked similar items for some of my favorite secondhand finds. If you have questions about sources, feel free to send me a message through my Contact form (but just know that the answer is probably, “Goodwill” 🙂 )

With so much love,

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ben and avery couch

Now that we’ve been properly introduced, come on in!


We live in a 1910 craftsman home with as much charm as there is woodwork. Living in our first house has helped me learn the importance of intention, the joy behind simple tasks, and the pleasure of making a house a home. I’ve painted nearly every wall in this house, and pulled up more carpet staples than I could count. Besides fresh paint and hours of restoring original wood features, all we’ve done to this home is fill it with pieces that tell our story. The majority of furniture and decor in our home is thrifted or secondhand, but I’ll tag sources when I can. My husband and I love living in this big old house, and I’ve loved sharing the journey of discovering my home style.

Front Porch

I recently transformed our front porch in just six weeks for the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge! Want to follow the progress and learn more about my DIY projects?

Week 1: High Style, Low Budget Sunroom Transformation

Week 2: DIY Tree Stump Coffee Tables

Week 3: The Power of Paint

Week 4: DIY $150 Bed Swing and Painted Concrete Floors

Week 5: Finishing Touches

Week 6: Before & After High Style, Low Budget Sunroom



Let’s go inside!

Living Room

44B887E4-CC9C-46B2-8405-E3BE4970F5FCIMG_0247Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 6.57.19 PMThe living room and office are separated by this gorgeous, solid oak pocket door. IMG_0228

Let’s head into the office!

The Office

IMG_023296EA7B5B-1DED-4A03-9178-3EB5A33D1357 (1)The office is where I work on my blog, and do graphic design work for Biaka Works.


Let’s go to the dining room!

The dining and living rooms are separated by BEAUTIFUL built-ins that store our dishes.

We have an 8 foot farm table that was made by one of my high school small group leaders at my home church in Louisville. It is one of the first things people notice when they come into our house. It is either spotless or covered in random junk like sewing projects and board games and random things that need to be put away. There is no in between.



The Kitchen


kitchen feature for magazine

This kitchen… What do I say? I painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint almost two years ago, and it has led to some crazy opportunities. The Before & After post went viral, and has over 50,000 views. It’s been featured by Apartment Therapy, The Today Show, Country Living, Buzzfeed, Popsugar, and Better Homes & Gardens. (what the actual heck you guys all I did was paint the cabinets) My dad and I installed subway tile, and I’m still in love with every little detail. There is usually an “island” in the middle (the bottom of my hoosier cabinet that I painted to match the cupboards), but I moved it out of the way to take photos for a magazine feature.

If you’re wondering how they’re holding up, check out my update, Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets Two Years Later .

kitchen cornerkitchen corner detail



From the kitchen, we go to the mudroom! I don’t have any pictures of it- and there isn’t anything special about it. Next to the basement stairs is our “Airplane Bathroom”. We call it that because it is approximately the size of an airplane bathroom!


One day I might paint the linoleum floor in here. Ben and I joke that I should do a dramatic “before and after” post for this bathroom. Or try to do as big of a renovation as possible for $20. It could be done.


Next to the powder room door is the door to our basement. It used to be a creepy, unfinished, dungeon like space. We completely finished it for the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge.

There used to be two solid doors like the bathroom door, but I found this beautiful French door on Facebook Marketplace for $30 and lovingly restored it.

IMG_6136I also gave it a fun, unexpected pop of color on the side that faces the basement!IMG_6138

Before we take a look at the new basement, I have to show you a few before photos. Brace yourself.


As you can see, finishing this gross space was no small task. I documented the progress over the six weeks, which you can follow through the links below.

Basement on a Budget: One Room Challenge Week One

Basement Demo and Waterproofing with Drylok: One Room Challenge Week 2

Catch-up and Ketchup: One Room Challenge Week Three

The Power of Paint: One Room Challenge Week Four

Flooring, Trim, and Furniture: One Room Challenge Week Five

Basement Family Game Room Reveal: One Room Challenge Week Six

And now, the cozy, clean, incredible “after”:

IMG_9615IMG_9877IMG_9905IMG_9985IMG_9833IMG_9927IMG_9916IMG_9913IMG_9974-2IMG_9953game table with print

Let’s go up, upstairs to the second story!

The Bathroom

I painted the builder grade vanity with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in graphite, and replaced the hardware with leftover knobs from our kitchen update. (You can find links to the hardware on my Holland Avenue Home Amazon storefront)


Guest Bedroom

Our guest bedroom was recently published in the June 2019 issue of Country Living Magazine for their Country Coast to Coast story.

(The first photo is the one that was featured by Country Living. I’ve since changed things around, and even painted the black wall.)



This room has been so much fun to put together. I was going for a vintage bed and breakfast vibe with modern touches. We took up the wall to wall carpet and it COMPLETELY changed this room. I knew it would make a difference, but WOW.


Small Guest Bedroom


This July/August issue of Country Living Magazine featured “summer camp” style spaces. I read it cover to cover, and was inspired to give a space in my home a similar vibe. I’ve majorly simplified the “decor” on our main floor, which left me with a small guest room closet full of vintage treasures. I decided to see if I could create my own “vintage summer camp” style in this guest room to display the vintage goodies instead of hiding them away in the closet. This room was previously empty except for the bed and nightstand. All white bedding, nothing hanging on the walls, and nowhere for guests to sit. I gathered my favorite vintage treasures and a bunch of thrifted landscape paintings, and now this room feels like a journey back in time! The quilt on the bed was hand quilted by my great grandma. The yellow chair and green table were both free on our town’s junk day. The landscape gallery wall cost a total of $27. I’ve lovingly named this room “Camp Holland”.

Master Bedroom

I finished this room for the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge as a Guest Participant. The full Before & After Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom post contains links to all six weeks of the challenge at the very beginning! The first step to the transformation was painting a moody accent wall. 

I recently built the DIY Upholstered Wingback headboard for $60 by following this tutorial from Angela Rose Home. 

Ikea Dresser Hack- One Room Challenge

We bought the basic Ikea Tarva dresser and gave it new life with walnut stain and modern hardware!

But my favorite part of this update was the transformation of the attached sunroom…

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom- One Room Challenge

Master Bedroom Sunroom


This room has three walls of windows and beautiful original hardwood floors, but the damaged wood trim and dated wallpaper made it feel sad. I completely transformed this room with the power of paint, and a hand-painted mural!

Hand painted Chinoiserie Mural- One Room ChallengeHand painted Chinoiserie Mural- One Room Challenge

This mural cost $10 in acrylic craft paint, and I spent four days sketching and painting. I shared more about the sunroom transformation in my Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Before & After: One Room Challenge Week 6 post.

Back Porch




Here are the posts for a few of my favorite room transformations we’ve completed!

Before & After: A Bright, Affordable DIY Kitchen Update  (and the update, Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets Two Years Later )

Before & After High Style, Low Budget Sunroom: One Room Challenge Week 6

Cozy Eclectic Master Bedroom Before & After: One Room Challenge Week 6

Our Guest Room Has New Floors! (Kind of)

You’re invited to follow the Holland Avenue Home instagram for daily snapshots of life and work.

Thank you for visiting, and come back soon!

HomeMade: Writing Your Home Recipe

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing posts with tips and questions to help you find your unique home style (and guidelines to shop accordingly.) The goal is not to go on a shopping spree when we’re finished. The goal is to make more thoughtful and resourceful decisions as you inevitably encounter opportunities to purchase “ingredients” for your home. We will work together to write our “home recipes”, and talk about how to go “grocery shopping” at thrift stores. We will talk about when to pay extra for a “restaurant” experience, and when to opt for the “grocery store”. We will explore examples of common “home style recipes” that can be tweaked to serve your family’s unique “dietary needs”.

This post is the second in a series about discovering your “home recipe”. If you missed the first post, I’d recommend reading it first before diving in to this one!

You can read the first post here.

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s get started!

Your home has a recipe (whether you know it or not!)

The way your home looks and functions is a representation of your unique home recipe, which is made up of your unique list of ingredients. When you’re cooking a meal, it is important that you use the right ingredients. You wouldn’t try to make banana bread without bananas, but you shouldn’t try to put bananas in a pasta dish. It wouldn’t turn out the way it should, and it wouldn’t taste good. The way your home looks and functions is no different.

I think a lot of women struggle to “find their style” because they’re cooking with the wrong ingredients, and they don’t know how to make an intentional shopping list.

Your home already has a style.

You might not feel like you know what your style is, but I promise you have one. You might not fit into a specific category (I know I sure don’t!), but your style is probably more obvious than you think! Think about your absolute favorite spaces in your home. What do you love about them? Are they full of family heirlooms? Are they uncluttered and minimal? Are they decked out in knick knacks and special treasures? Are they colorful? Neutral? Modern? Vintage? All of the above?

I’m going to suggest two steps that will help you define your unique home style.

1.Take inventory of what’s in your “pantry”

By “pantry” I really mean “home”, but I’m trying to roll with the food analogy. 🙂 What ingredients do you already have in your home? Do you have a lot of vintage furniture with character? Or do you lean more towards minimal and modern style? (P.S. My goal is to help you clarify your style and be more content with your home. We’re not going to dream up a recipe that will result in you going out and replacing everything you already own. That wouldn’t be wise, and I am willing to bet that it is absolutely unnecessary. You are, however, allowed to sell and get rid of things that you do not love that are taking up space in your home.)

Make a list of the ingredients you already have and love. Later, this list will help us determine what other ingredients we need to add to complete your recipe.

Here’s my list to help you see what I’m talking about. My family consists of me, my husband, and our dog. If you live by yourself or have kids, your list might include different things than mine. For example, if you have kids, their toys should be on your list.

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Here’s a template for you to print and use if you’d like.

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That’s my list! Now that I can clearly see the elements that make up my home and decor, it will be easier down the road to see what I might need to add or take away.

2. Think about what purpose you want your home to serve.

Before we can write our home recipes, we have to figure out what we’re trying to cook. Look at your list of ingredients.

Which ones are non-negotiable?

The couch that you don’t love but can’t afford to replace? Your kid’s toys? Your husband’s board game collection and TV in the living room? Your giant, colorful rug? Your favorite chair? These ingredients may or may not be your favorite, but they are essential. They’re the bread and butter of your home’s pantry.

I believe that your home should serve your family. If it is doing a good job of serving your family, you probably have a clear idea of what should be physically taking up space. If your home is not serving your family, we have some work to do. Your home is the place where you live. It doesn’t need to be perfectly styled like a magazine cover, but on the flip side I don’t believe that your home should be a place where you hoard and allow your “stuff” to reign.

Maybe you need to be more okay with your kid’s toys being scattered across the floor and the throw pillows never being perfectly fluffed. Maybe you need to let go a little.

Or maybe, you need to declutter and eliminate the excess “stuff” that isn’t serving your family or reflecting your style. Maybe you need to be a little more intentional about the way your home functions and looks.

Ultimately, I believe that the way your home feels and functions is more important than how it looks. But if how your home looks is keeping it from feeling and functioning the way you want it to, that’s an easy fix.

Decide how you want your home to feel, and the way it should look will become obvious.

Now think about the ingredients you absolutely love.

Maybe its the vintage art or the minimal furnishings. Whatever you already own and truly love will help you uncover your personal style. Like I said, these things might not fit neatly into a “design category” like minimal or vintage or boho, but they will help you create your own category.

My list stayed pretty much the same, but maybe you need to add or subtract a few ingredients.

Cross off anything that isn’t essential or that you don’t love. Keep the things that you love and that are non-negotiable.

This is your home recipe. 

I’m willing to bet that your home doesn’t need extra stuff. If you’re like me, you’re probably the opposite.

Take another look at your list of necessary and favorite ingredients. This next step is going to involve a little “homework”. (Get it? Homework? Like you’re working on your home? Ok… I’m done…)

Here’s your “homework” to complete before we define your style and make our “grocery lists”. You might not feel like your style is clear yet, but I promise we will get there.

I want you to carve out an afternoon or an hour of time. This is an intimidating step, but I believe it is absolutely essential.

I want you to take your new home recipe, full of your non-negotiable ingredients and the ingredients that you love, and walk around your home. Now that you have a physical list of the ingredients that serve your home’s purpose and reflect what you love, you’ll be able to see what doesn’t belong on your list. You love neutral colors but you have a bunch of random brightly covered throw pillows? They don’t belong. You love simplicity and un-cluttered spaces, but you have a bunch of “decorative items” that you don’t love? They don’t belong.

The first step to figuring out your home style is not adding new things- but subtracting things that don’t belong.

Walk around your house and clear out the ingredients that don’t belong. Put them all on the dining room table or in a spare bedroom. This might be difficult if you’re not happy with a lot of big furniture items, but remember what we talked about earlier- some things are non-negotiables, and we can work with those things by being resourceful and intentional.

I want you to clear out the unnecessary decor and clutter that doesn’t serve your family or reflect what you love. 

When you can clearly see what doesn’t belong, it’s easier to make room for the things that do belong. You’ll ideally be left with spaces that more clearly represent your style, and it will be easier to define your style when you’re only left with decor you truly love.

The next step is to sell, donate, or repurpose the things that don’t belong. Maybe some things need a simple coat of paint or a new pillow cover. Maybe some things are completely unnecessary and can go to Goodwill. I can’t make those decisions for you, but try to be responsible about discarding your excess stuff. Unless it is actually trash, there is probably someone out there that could benefit from your excess! Have a yard sale or take a trip to your local thrift store. Getting the excess out of your house will help your space take a deep breath.

That’s it for this week. Next week we will work on naming our recipes and creating “grocery lists” of decor and elements to keep on your horizon. I’d love to see your home recipe! You can follow me on Instagram for daily snapshots of life and home. Send me your home recipe on Instagram or through my contact form so I can share them in my next post!

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HomeMade: Does Your Home Have A Recipe?

You walk into Target for toilet paper and mascara. You spend an hour and $15 in the home section but you get to your car and realize you forgot the toilet paper and mascara. (again? crap. maybe next time.) You get home and realize that the thing you bought for your home doesn’t really fit with your decor, but it was at Target so it must be trendy… right?

Does this sound like you? I know I’ve been there way too many times. My friend Briee and I both love Target, but we live in rural Iowa and the closest one is over an hour away. One time we drove there to just wander around. To walk through every aisle. To breathe the sweet Target air. (That last one was a joke… kind of). We don’t even really like Starbucks, but we bought drinks to walk around with while we shopped aimlessly. I don’t remember if I bought anything on that trip, but if I did it clearly wasn’t something I remember, and it probably cost more than $15.

$15 at a retail store can buy you a fraction of a pillow. (Or maybe something from an end cap, or the mascara you came for, but probably not both). Sure, you can guarantee these things will be trendy on some level, but your dollars won’t get you very far. This photo is what $15 at a thrift store looks like.


A floral tablecloth that could be in an Anthropologie catalog ($2), an iconic framed “Grace” print ($3), an ORIGINAL framed oil portrait of a woman named Mary ($1), two vintage metal canisters ($5), and four coupe cocktail glasses ($4).

(Important Side Note: Did I need any of these items? No. This post isn’t about shopping for your home’s basic needs like food and toilet paper (and mascara 😉 ) You don’t need to decorate your home, but you probably do. I want to encourage thoughtfulness and resourcefulness in all areas of homemaking, including decorating. If we’re already going to be doing certain things (like decorating and meal planning and dressing ourselves), we might as well be doing them as thoughtfully, intentionally, and frugally as possible.)

$15 is on the higher end of what I would usually spend at a thrift store. I don’t go thrifting super regularly, but when I do I try not to spend more than $5-10.

I was a little hesitant at first to spend $15 at the thrift store, but then I thought about how easy it is to drop $15 at Target like it’s no big deal.

You put one pillow and some nail polish in your cart and suddenly you’re out $40. My husband, Ben, came up with a brilliant analogy as we discussed this strange phenomenon last night.

He said that retail stores are like restaurants. You go there and pay more for the convenience of a meal that is already prepared, when you could buy the ingredients for much less at the grocery store.

The struggle with grocery stores is that you have to know your ingredients beforehand (and how to combine them when you get home). A trip to the grocery store requires intentional planning and thoughtfulness in order to create the meal you want to make. You can’t go to the grocery store to get the ingredients for a Caesar Salad and come home with M&M’s and bread.

I thought this was brilliant.

This might make restaurants look more appealing. There is a menu full of diverse options that are guaranteed to be prepared and presented with no effort on your part. Sure, it’s more expensive than a trip to the grocery store to make the same meal, but you’re paying for convenience. Someone else is doing the planning and the preparing for you.

Walk into any big-box store and you’ll get your home styling already prepared- for a price. You’ll find new, trendy, curated collections of home decor that are priced for convenience.

Walk into a thrift store and you’ll find aisles of “ingredients” that require discernment and thoughtfulness to put together, but for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for retail.

I think the convenience and trendiness of big-box stores are why some people struggle to find their style. “I wanted a Caesar salad, so why does my home look like M&M’s and bread?” It doesn’t go together. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t taste good.

This analogy gave me an idea for a new perspective on thoughtful homemaking and resourceful decorating. To get your wheels turning… if the way your home looks and functions is a unique recipe, what are your ingredients? And can you source your ingredients from thrift stores for a lower cost and the same result? Have you been buying meals instead of ingredients? And if so, do these meals belong in the same restaurant?

Decor trends change as quickly as retail stores can get new products on the shelves.

It’s how they keep you coming back for more, more more. Example A is the farmhouse trend. A year ago, you would find chippy white knick knacks and “simple farmhouse” decor on the shelves of any retail store. But now? Women that have entirely redecorated their homes in the “farmhouse” style are coming to me and asking how they can “get out”. The trend is over, and women are stuck with decor that isn’t their style.

The number one question I get from readers is, “How do I know what my style is? I like so many different styles. My house feels like a crazy mess.”

I’ve thought about how to answer this question so many times in so many different ways. This analogy of restaurants vs. grocery stores and retail vs. thrift stores has given me clarity in my answer.

I think that women don’t know “what their style is” because they depend on retail stores to have style for them, and retail trends are always changing.

This is why your home might feel like a crazy mess. Last year it was “farmhouse”. But the year before that it was “industrial”. Maybe the year before that it was “boho”, but this year everything is “minimal modern”. If you exclusively decorate your home with trendy big-box ingredients, it’s going to feel dated and crazy really fast.

Maybe you’re thinking, “There has to be a better way!”

I’d like to suggest that a better way exists, and is accessible to everyone.

The “better way” is filling your home with things that make you smile, instead of following pre-packaged trends.

I’m not suggesting you scrap everything in your house and start over. I never want to promote unhealthy consumerism or “buying” your way out of a design problem. I don’t think it’s wise. I don’t think it’s good stewardship of resources. And frankly, it’s just not as much fun. Your home is about so much more than “things” from stores.

How your home feels and functions is more important than how it looks, but how it looks is inevitably part of how it feels

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing posts with tips and questions to help you find your unique home style (and guidelines to shop accordingly.) The goal is not to go on a shopping spree when we’re finished. The goal is to make more thoughtful and resourceful decisions as you inevitably encounter opportunities to purchase “ingredients” for your home. We will work together to write our “home recipes”, and talk about how to go “grocery shopping” at thrift stores. We will talk about when to pay extra for a “restaurant” experience, and when to opt for the “grocery store”. We will explore examples of common “home style recipes” that can be tweaked to serve your family’s unique “dietary needs”.

Thanks for following along with me here on Holland Avenue Home. This blog is an invitation to thoughtful homemaking, and it is my goal to encourage resourcefulness and good stewardship in all areas of home life. I want to use my love for design as a way to serve others, and your support of this blog makes that possible. Thank you.

If you want to be notified when new posts go live, click the “follow” button on the sidebar under the “Brighten Your Inbox” header. You can also follow Holland Avenue Home on Instagram for post announcements and daily encouragement toward thoughtful homemaking. 

With so much love, 

avery- signature

One Woman’s Trash… Is Another Woman’s Chair

“The Trash Chair” (as we are now calling it) found a home in our kitchen nook today.

It was lovingly named “The Trash Chair” because we picked it up off of the curb on our town’s junk day! My husband spotted it on his drive to work and then came back home to pick me up and go see it. (Our town is only one mile wide so turning around on a drive isn’t that big of a deal 😂). I saw it and immediately started reaching to put it in the car.

It is surprisingly comfy! This is the fourth mustard yellow armchair in our house, but as far as looks go, she might just be my favorite. Dainty, yet strong. The perfect shade of mustard yellow. Not too green, not too orange. Just pure mustard velvet goodness with a side of tufting.

I can’t believe someone was throwing it away!

I witnessed the garbage men coming around to collect furniture on my street yesterday. They pick up whatever is on your curb with a giant scoop, and dump it into the back of a giant trailer, then smoosh it down with the blade of the scoop. Large recliners and wooden furniture were coming apart like they were a house of cards! It was kind of amazing to watch, but also very sad to me. Sure, some of it is actually “trash” that can’t be rescued. But a lot of things I saw on the curb could either be used by someone in need or repurposed and given new life in another home. Barely any of our furniture is brand new, because I see the value in repurposing and restoring and adding value to things that are “pre-loved”. (Unless it smells funny. Always leave it behind if it smells funny).

I’m glad we rescued The Trash Chair from its impending fate of being smooshed.

It adds the perfect pop of color and vintage goodness to this corner of the kitchen. You know what they say… one woman’s trash is another woman’s new favorite chair! Er… something like that!

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve repurposed or rescued from a landfill?

Our Guest Room Has New Floors! (Kind of)

Yesterday, Ben and I took on a project we are now very familiar with. We removed the carpet from our large guest room! The process took about two hours from start to finish. (I’ve thought about writing a post with instructions and tips for removing carpet, but it is so simple and there are already tons of resources out there. My only tips are to wear thick soled tennis shoes (in case you step on a staple), and to remove any and all carpet anywhere (show no mercy).

I’ve already written a “Before and After” about this guest room, but the only things we did then were paint and install a new light fixture. We bought the white Ikea bedding and yellow curtains specifically for this room, but everything else was randomly collected.

I knew I wanted to take the carpet out of this room, which led to more design dreaming about what this room could look like. I had this vision in my head of a vintage bed and breakfast, but with modern flair. I didn’t know how to describe it well, but I could picture the vibe. Turns out, all we needed to do to achieve the modern b&b vibe was take out the carpet! The collection of vintage pieces in this room felt a little odd with the beige carpet and black wall. But now, the hardwood floors really tie the whole vintage vision together. I’m in love!

Here are some before photos and progress shots.



The hardwoods in this room are in the best condition of the three rooms we have uncovered. The living room and office are also in good “condition” but will need to be refinished because of the dark spots in the middle of each room. I was relieved to see that the guest room didn’t have a dark spot! There is a little variation in color throughout the room, but I love the added character that shows they’re original to the house! We’re planning to refinish the living room, office, and stairs in the summer because of the dark spots. We might also refinish this room down the road for the sake of future people in this house, but it really doesn’t look like it needs it.

Now for some photos of the room after I re-styled it!





(The Star Wars string art was a gift that Ben’s best friend, Tim, and Tim’s wife, Jenn, made for us!)

And now my favorite view…


I need to buy some hardwood cleaner to get the floors and trim looking cleaner and overall better, but they look incredible for only sweeping a few times!



I love how the vintage cane chair, Turkish kilim pillow, bird print, and shelf accessories are very vintage and muted. The black frame, sage shelf with clean lines, and white walls add the modern flair. The hardwood floors provide the combination vintage-yet-modern element that ties everything together.


I bought this chair last week at Goodwill for $5! I knew it needed a home on top of hardwood floors and in front of a white wall so the cane detail could be clearly seen. (Very specific, I know, but when I get an idea I try to make it happen!). I loved the way the vintage kilim pillow looked with the chair, and thought that the pair would look even better next to something that sage color. The next logical step was to paint something sage! I love how this shelf turned out. It used to be a cherry laminate with a frosted glass door on the bottom half. It was in Ben’s childhood room. We decided to take off the door and paint it sage (using paint I already had). I love the clean contrast it provides to the muted, natural tones of the cane chair and kilim pillow. This shelf is stocked with guest room goods, like extra blankets, a fan, and a box of “just in case” toiletries.

(There used to be a yellow armchair where the peach stool is, but it took up a lot of floor space. I wanted to provide empty floor space that wasn’t right in front of the door where guests can keep suitcases. When you’re styling a guest room, just remember to leave a space for guests to keep their things!)

Here are some waaayyy “before” photos of what the room looked like when we moved in two years ago. (It used to be a kids room. The paint and fan were cute for kids, just not for our grown-up guest room! I had a fan just like that in my room at my grandparents’ house! You can’t see them very well in this photo, but there are glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. Those are still there, because we think they’re really cool. 🙂 )

guest room before 1guest room before 2guest room before 3


So there it is! It is my new favorite room in the house. I love the vintage “Schoolhouse-esque” elements like the chalkboard, vintage fan, gold alarm clock, and gingham pillow. The vintage rug, art, and other vintage accessories bring in the bed and breakfast vibe I was hoping for. The black accent wall, white bedding, and clean lines of the frame and shelf provide the modern ingredient that keeps things feeling fresh. In every space that we have uncovered the original hardwood floors, I’m amazed that the room instantly feels like it has always been that way.

We don’t own this house, so we are very intentional about which projects we decide to do. My goal with projects in this house is to restore as much of the original charm of this 1910 craftsman, while also seeking to raise the value of the house with modern updates. We’ve painted every room a neutral color. We’ve updated a few light fixtures. We’ve uncovered a lot of hardwood, and plan to refinish it all ourselves. I’ve stripped painted trim and am working on restoring it. I’ve painted trim in rarely used areas of the house where the wood was damaged beyond repair and just needed to look better. None of those are difficult projects, and most can be done for the cost of a can of paint. (Or a can of paint stripper, in some cases 🙂 ) We aren’t planning to go anywhere anytime soon, but I recognize that we are not the last people that will ever live in this home. That’s why we only do projects that will add value to this house. If I owned this house, I might tastefully paint some of the trim. But, that would take away value from this house, so I’m not touching it! Instead, I’m taking paint away in spaces! Even if you own your home, keep that in mind as you work on home-improvement projects. Home-improvement projects are intended to add value to a house, not subtract from it. Do your absolute best work– if not for your standards, then for the people that will come behind you.

Thanks for reading! I’m going to go look at the guest room again, because I’m a little obsessed with that cane chair+bird print combo. Ben and I are about to leave for auditions for our community theater production of Annie. Then we get to see his grandparents, who are visiting Alta! What are you up to this weekend?

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I can only source a few things in this room, because almost everything is vintage!

White bedding: Ikea

Striped bedding: Ikea

Black frame: Ikea

Nightstand Lamp: Target

Curtains: Target

White pitcher: Hobby Lobby

Tiny Turkish rug: Won in a giveaway from New England Loom

Everything else is vintage!

Three Things to Spring Clean That Aren’t Your House

If you’re anything like me, you have The Bug. I’m not talking about an actual insect or some kind of stomach bug (which my husband had last week). If you’re anything like me, you have the Spring Cleaning Bug. The only problem with this is that I live in Northern Iowa, so the word “Spring” must be used very loosely! We had a few warm days last week, but we have 2-6 inches of snow in the forecast for tomorrow. (It’s fine I’m only crying on the inside.)

If you have the desire to hit the reset button after a long winter, but you don’t get excited about the idea of deep cleaning your house, I thought of a few things that could probably benefit from a good “scrub”. You won’t find these things on any Spring Cleaning list on Pinterest, because they aren’t part of your house. However, I’ve found that getting these three things under control helps my everyday life feel less cluttered and dragged down by natural accumulation. Of course these tasks can be done at any point in the year, but accomplishing them now will help you hit the reset button as you eagerly wait for the refreshment of Spring.

Three Things to Spring Clean That Aren’t Your House

1.Your Cell Phone

I take pictures like it’s going out of style. Before we went to Paris in December, I had 10,000 pictures on my camera roll. Most of these were unimportant screenshots or photos that didn’t make the final cut for blog content. I have a 64gb iPhone SE, so running out of storage space isn’t a concern. (My husband knows me well and treated me to lots of storage after my 16gb iPhone constantly filled up.) The tedious task of cleaning out your camera roll of unwanted photos can help you resurface old photos you DO want to keep! I recommend doing it all at once. I did this before our Paris trip while sitting on the couch one evening. When I was finished, there were about 1,000 photos left. I haven’t done a large purge since then, so the number has crawled back up to 5,000. A few other places to clean out on your phone are your messages and email. If you send pictures back and forth a lot, they are stored in your messages app and can eat up your storage space.

2. Your Purse

My sister-in-law used to clean out her purse at the end of every day. I started doing this for a while, and then went back to my old habit of accumulating random crap and letting it live inside my purse for weeks. Dump your purse out on the dining room table and get to work. I usually discover old receipts, lots of hair ties, lipstick I forgot I owned, and the occasional random “how the heck did this get in my purse” object.

3. Social Media

A few weeks ago, I complained to my husband that the new Instagram algorithm keeps me from seeing posts from my friends. He asked, “Well what are you seeing?” I responded, “Posts from companies, blogs I don’t really read, people I don’t know.” He asked a simple question that contained the answer to my complaints.

“Why are you following them if you don’t want to see their posts?”

“Oh. Huh. Yeah I guess you’re right. I don’t know why. I guess I can unfollow them.”

I’ve recently discovered that daily life results in accumulation. There can be good accumulation, like the accumulation of skills and memories and experiences and useful possessions. But the other side of the coin is the daily accumulation of the things that weigh us down. Laundry. Garbage. Stuff. Worries. People You Followed On Instagram One Time And Now Don’t Know Why You’re Seeing Their Posts All The Time. Friends on Facebook That You Haven’t Talked to Since Middle School and All They Do is Share Videos You Don’t Want to See But They’re Always on Your News Feed. That kind of stuff. I realized I was following over 1,000 people on Instagram, while I only really cared about seeing posts from a handful of friends and my favorite blogs. I went through the list of people I followed, and if I didn’t recognize their username I unfollowed them. Like my camera roll, I went from following over 1,000 people to under 200. Now when I look at my Instagram feed, I only see posts from people I actually want to see. The app has become less annoying and more enjoyable. Of course, we don’t have to even use social media. It can be used as a tool to engage with friends and interests. If you do choose to use social media, you have to decide how to use it.

I’ve also gotten in the habit of immediately unfriending people on Facebook when I notice I don’t need to be connected to them anymore. That sounds harsh or “unfriendly” (hah) when you say it like that, but I know I forget that I get to decide how to engage with social media. It is your decision and only your decision. You must be your own keeper when it comes to social media engagement. There is no one to monitor the health of your social media consumption except for you. Most people would agree that it is healthy to give children and teenagers boundaries with the internet, but as adults we can forget that we need boundaries too. I need to keep a close eye on what I consume on the internet. If you’ve found that your social apps are more draining than life-giving, prioritize your health and start a purge. Clean out your friend list and your follow list so that social media can be a tool and an enjoyment instead of a burden on your heart and mind.

I know that Spring is coming. I hope that these ideas can help you push the reset button and be free from the daily accumulation of life. Have you started any Spring Cleaning? Are there any places or things you habitually purge to stay healthy? I’d love to hear your ideas in a comment!

With Love, 


P.S. I cleaned out my closet yesterday and will be having a closet sale on Instagram this Thursday. The clothes are mostly size small. I saved the best of the best for the sale and am donating the rest. You’ll be able to find Anthropologie, Madewell, Gap, and a few other nice brands for great prices! (I’m saving up for a pair of clogs!)

Follow @averymichaelscloset on Instagram and keep an eye out for posts starting on Thursday, April 5th, at noon Central time!

The Number One Question You Should Be Asking Before Decorating Your Home

Yesterday, I asked a question in an Instagram post. I asked, “What do you think is the number one question you should be asking before decorating your home?” I know what my answer is, but some of the responses are too good not to share before I get started. Some of the serious answers showed that people actually read my posts, and some of the funny answers made me laugh out loud.

My mom said, “Can I shop my house before I buy something?” That’s a good question to ask, but I think another question should come first! (Also hi, Mom!)

My friend Stephanie had a similar response. “How can I redecorate using what I already have?” Another important question, but I think it comes later in the process!

My friend, Briee, had some pretty good questions that really made me reconsider my number one.

“Will my husband move the furniture for me AGAIN?”

And my favorite…

“Do I even live here?!?!?!”

These questions are ALL good questions to ask before you design or tweak any space in your home. (Especially “Do I live here?” You should probably make sure you are in YOUR HOME before you start changing things around!)

But before you ask yourself WHAT you are going to change (or even HOW you’re going to do it) I think it is much more important to ask yourself WHY. 

Asking yourself WHY you want to create or change a space should be the first step in your design process. 

If you don’t know why you’re decorating, furnishing, or styling a space, you won’t have a clear vision for the finished product. Homes are never really finished, which is a good thing. Your home will evolve through different seasons and hopefully change when necessary to better serve you and your family. But before you begin redesigning a space or even adjusting it slightly, ask yourself why you care in the first place.

When you have a clear purpose behind your decorating, you will be able to achieve your vision for your home.

If you don’t have a reason for why you’re decorating, you’ll probably have to spend time and resources to re-do your space over and over and over because you’re not working towards a goal. So ask yourself, “Why am I decorating my home?”

I’ll tell you my “why”. I spend time and effort decorating our home because I want it to be a sanctuary. I try to keep it clean because I relax best when a space is free of clutter. I try to make our rooms cozy so that my husband and I can relax at home together, and so friends can feel at peace when they are here. I’m a homebody, so it’s important to me that my home is a peaceful and enjoyable place to be. Because my goal is to have a cozy and restful home, I make design decisions that align with goal. If it ain’t cozy, I don’t want it. I like things to be simple, but interesting. I like furniture and decor that has character, so I mostly shop at thrift stores. When you decorate different rooms in your home, be sure to keep your overall “why” at the forefront of your decision-making.

You can have a more specific “why” for each individual room of your home.


For example, it is important to me that our bedroom is as clean and clutter free as possible. With the exception of Saturday morning chocolate croissants in bed, I don’t bring food into our room. I don’t have any plants in here, because they don’t feel clean to me (weird, I know. You do you and I’ll do me.) We have white bedding because it feels peaceful and cozy (and I can switch out the throw pillows when I’m antsy for a small change). I keep color and accessorizing to a minimum so my eyes and my brain aren’t overstimulated by lots of “stuff”.


What’s your why? Why do you decorate your home?

Once you know your “why”, you can ask yourself how.

How do you want it to feel?

When you know how you want it to feel, you can start to ask how you want it to look.


If you start with asking how it should look, you might find yourself wanting to redo a space when you find another look you like better. But when you have an overall vision for your home that can be translated to a feeling, deciding how it should look will come a lot easier.

What’s your why? I’ll share mine again in the comments below. I’d love to write a post sharing the responses from readers. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

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