Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Fall Living Room: Yep, You Read that Right.

I'm sorry, I don't remember where I found this word art. It was perfect for my colour scheme.

I've been feeling terribly inadequate lately. As a blogger with a blog, I mean, not as a person. (As a person, I'm feeling pretty awesome right now, actually, thankyouverymuch.) But geesh. As a blogger with a home decor blog?

Definitely lacking.

It all started with Fall, actually.

I planned to do a Fall House Tour and it was important for the living room to be just so.  I figured I finally had the decorating chops and I was going to prove it to you all.

That pouf has sure lost its poufiness. But look at that fake cotton! The scale! the drama!

At the same time, I began to think I wanted to expand my readership. I started looking into what it might take to grow my blog.

The first week of September I started looking at houses decorated for Fall. Um, seriously folks? The first week of September? I remember one or two blogs from Texas saying the temps were still far too warm "to get in the mood." But that's also when I started to get an inkling that this blog will never be like those blogs. I will never have my living room decorated for Fall by the first week of September. (Never mind styled, photographed and written up!)

I loved this mantle. I took photos of it soon after I created it, I liked it that much.

So, my blog will obviously never be a trendsetting home decor blog. That's not going to be my focus. I'm not even sure I want this to be a home decor blog. But the blog does need a focus, apparently. Moreover it needs a narrow focus. As one blogger advises, "The narrower your focus the broader your audience." Harumph.

And s we all know, I do love to decorate.

Yep, I bought a role of burlap and hot glued it to a mason jar for a vase.

So, I started to decorate the living room--as I also planned and executed my decluttering series (because a well decorated home is also an intentional home and while that doesn't mean one needs to be a minimalist, it does mean one needs to decrapify regularly--and boy oh boy did my house need decrapification!)

The living room was ready at Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, mid-October)-- well, it was as ready as it was ever going to be.

The day before Canadian Thanksgiving I drove to a store in a snow storm to exchange the pillow covers I'd bought for a different pair. But the store was out of the ones I wanted, so, after wandering around the store for twenty minutes or so, I stood still and racked my brain --and remembered a throw I'd seen at a store across town that might work. If they had any in stock. Twenty minutes before closing, I drove across town --in that snowstorm--  to buy a throw that just might pull it all together for me.

yep, that's the throw. I'm not sure it can do all I want it to do.

And on that horribly stressful drive, I thought about how simplicity is one of the things I value--and how this decorating business --especially seasonal decorating--and decorating to a deadline-- is not -- absolutely not "simple."

I spray painted some sticky dots from Staples with gold and stuck them on fake cream pumpkins 
--and wound up with spotty pumpkins.

So, simplicity is a touchstone for me and my blog--but I'm still figuring out what that actually means. Among other things. Figuring things out, I mean.

I'm still figuring things out: like why the living room didn't gel like I'd hoped.

The sofa strikes me as too white for "fall" but lots of others managed to create the cosyness of fall with their white sofas. I think it's the cushions: one set in particular.

See the orange one tucked back there behind the grey one and the throw? It's from H&M and looks lovely in person--it is orange--but not a burnt or rusty orange--and I think it needs to be. Or maybe a clearer stronger orange? Just not this orange. The orange and the white together actually read as coral more than orange. I had orange velour pillows. I decluttered them a few months ago. Oh well. They were solid and I had wanted a pattern--but I had no idea the perfect orange patterned pillows would be so hard to find!

I wasn't all that happy with this corner, either. The Ikea blanket just didn't do enough for me, somehow.

The truth is, after Thanksgiving, I put the living room out of my mind. Working on my Mom's dressing room took every single minute I had after that. There was no thought to spare for it--and, certainly, no time to take pictures.

Then, I finished the dressing room. I rested.

That's when I took a course on blogging--on photography and styling, specifically. From the course, (and a bit of other reading) I learned that a successful blog should have a pithy tagline. Every post should contain stunning pictures and styling. Apparently, the blog needs to be a recognizable brand --and I need to be on social media pushing every post and instagramming on a schedule. (Good people, I don't have a cell phone--not even a flip phone).

I would totally instagram this awesome photo of the river valley if I did instagram, though.

I don't know if any of that will ever happen. I'm still figuring it out.

I'm all about making life more pleasant--and that means making my house pretty and functional--or at least trying to. Figuring it out. Housekeeping, as you all know, is a struggle for our family. But I want this blog to be about more than just that struggle--but I feel like I need to include it, too.

I've figured out this much:

The blog is my diary, my record of what I do to make this house of ours a home for us. I like to figure out what home is, wht that means to us--and then create it. What I do at home drives the content of my blog --always. This living room was so stressful, in part, I think, because for the first time I let the blog (and my aspirations for it) drive the content.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing--but I don't think it's my thing.

Like the pillows. In person, they aren't that bad.

But I was happy to notice they were starting to pill a bit, already. I can let them go.

But I am not sure I want to let go of wanting to grow the blog.

I'm afraid any plans I had of doing a fall home tour are now kaput. My husband has already put up our tree. But that's OK. I am feeling the urge to decorate for Christmas.

A little bit.

Just as soon as I get over being intimidated by all those beautifully decorated kitchens. living rooms, and bathrooms (!) out there in blogland.

PS. If you don't mind my asking--why do you read this blog? What would make it more valuable to you?


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FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Just be yourself!

We all are unique individuals with our own stories and different ways of living our lives to tell. Trying to do what everyone else is doing can wear one out.

I enjoy reading about your projects, they inspire me to work on my own. I've enjoyed those projects like the recent one you did for your mother. I'd be worn out having to do things that fast, but enjoy reading your adventures and seeing the wonderful transformations. I know your Mom is enjoying her new space.

Happy Christmas ~ FlowerLady

Alana in Canada said...

Thanks, Lorraine! There are a lot more projects coming up at my Mom's!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the diary aspect of your blog. Also, your "do it" spirit. Also your working relationship with your husband. Also seeing the progression of your vision for your home--both the decorating and also the way the use of your spaces changes with the growth of your family. Also how you adapt your projects to what you are able to procure where you live and to how much you have available to spend. Also your writing! No matter what you are writing about, your style is fun to read, insightful, grammatically excellent (though I'm not an expert) You seem to roll this out effortlessly!--it comes across as very natural--the real you speaking. Actually--now that I mention your writing, that is probably up there at the top--I don't know enough about that skill to analyze what it is, but you have a major talent there! The blogs I read are mostly for my entertainment--also to find out how to do things and to get decorating ideas. Yours is one of four that I check often. So thank you! Linda P.

Alana in Canada said...

Linda P. Thank you so much for your generous reply. That gives me a lot to think about. So glad you like my writing! That means a great deal to me.

Anonymous said...

there are a thousand blogs that show "perfection". they get boring. i like the real stories behind the photos. and that you're canadian, and from the prairies (we moved to saskatchewan 4 years ago) :) i like the struggles and tries and successes--especially with a "real" house--it's very relatable!!

so, i like the "stuff" stories and the discussions about decisions you've made. i like it all.


Alana in Canada said...

Wilma--thank you, that's helpful. I didn't know I had a reader so close to home! That's wonderful.

t said...

Hi Alana,
I like reading your blog because you are a resourceful woman with an average home living life; you work outside of the home, you have other responsibilities, you aren't spending exorbitant amounts of money on decorating, you aren't just ripping everything out, but doing things thoughtfully and creatively, you are not living in a McMansion -- I feel like I can relate to you. I live in a 1925 colonial and I try to live the same way; I don't need the latest and greatest, but I want my home to be tastefully decorated, clean, and comfortable. I prefer used things, old or vintage things, and antiques.
I work full-time, so I may add some seasonal decorations, but I don't go overboard and I use the same decorations year after year - things I truly love with the addition of fresh greenery, plants, flowers. Some of those Christmas house tours I see on blogs make me shake my head - who has time for all of that stuff? And then people who have entirely different decorations every year - that is even crazier!
I am trying to live well and intentionally - which seems so cliche, but as I evaluate what is important to me, it is family, friends, community, gardening, nature, cultural events, good food, good health, being kind, volunteering and helping others when I can, and reading. People complain about being so busy, but they don't take steps to eliminate the busy-ness of their lives. I am guilty of that too, but I am slowly learning.

Luisa in Dallas said...

I have been reading your blog since the old "Wardrobe Therapy" days! I like your blog for the same reasons that "t" does: you have a real (not perfect) home. You share your failures/setbacks along with your successes as if we were friends sharing a cup of tea.

You are trying to balance your desire for a "pretty" home while struggling with too much stuff (much of it belong to other people) and a small budget. I can relate to that, and I imagine that a lot of other people do, too.

PS This past year I streamlined my seasonal decorating. My style is definitely "seasonal light." I have a banker's box each for spring/summer,fall, and winter of favorite accessories that lend themselves to each season. In addition, I have some throw pillows and throws that I change out, and even some wall art that gets switched around. It's working! I can change the seasonal decor in about 15 minutes (not counting Christmas which is an ongoing simplification project).

Alana in Canada said...

Luisa in Dallas--my goodness--since Wardrobe Therapy days? That's practically since the beginning. Thank you for sticking with me. I love, love, love your banker's box idea. I think I'll do my best to set that up for myself on some shelves in the basement. There's all this stuff I've got for Fall I'd like to reuse. Of course, that means I'll have to do some purging to make room.

t--thanks so much. I,too, have been shaking my head at those decor blogs--I simply don't have the resources they do to do what they do! I am so happy to learn more about you. I am glad you find me relatable.

Thank you all so much for your replies--and such wonderful detail. I am blessed to have you as readers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alana,
Yours is the first blog I look at when I'm on the computer. I read your blog for many reasons. Here are a few...

I love that you are real/normal/ aren't being paid to do sponsored projects in a giant house, with already beautiful furnishings that you think are way out of date. Instead, you are making improvements to your humble home with things you create yourself or find around your town. While you sometimes struggle to find just the right item, or cannot find it within your budget in Canada, you honestly share the struggle with your readers. I can related to all of this.

Through all of the above you end up with spectacular transformations that inspire me to make improvements in my home.

I come back daily because you post regularly.

With heartfelt thanks,

Anonymous said...

I forgot to say that what I loved most about your photos (before reading your story) was the orangish one that you like the least! I love the pattern. From your photos it looks great.


MMarie said...

I keep thinking about things that I love about your blog! I really appreciate your side bar. I have gleaned so much from looking at the blogs you visit. Thanks for arranging your blog view that way!

Alana in Canada said...

Thanks, MMarie! You know all the blog experts say I should not have all that stuff cluttering up the side bar and that I REALLY shouldn't have it because it directs people away from my site. I find it useful--so glad you do,too!

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