Therapeutic Dreams

Not long ago I had no style. That's not me being self-deprecating, I just literally had no style of my own. I had never given any thought to what elements or themes or looks from fashion/design I felt best expressed who I am. I would shop for a room or an outfit and just kind of wildly go, "I like that thing, and that other thing, and that one too," never considering if the things went well together or if they were a fitting reflection of what i found beautiful or functional.

Pinterest had a big hand in changing this. So did my snap decision to blog more of my life and MAKE more of my life. I had always liked my house. It was functional and nice and I had picked paint colors for every room based on which swatch was prettiest. What more could I want? But i started thinking in terms of, "does this space give me joy right now?" and quickly found out that, no, our house as it was didnt really make me joyful or inspired on any given day. 

At first I figured we'd just have to move. Start fresh. Then we spent .005 seconds looking into that and realized, LOL, we're not going anywhere because all of a sudden the house we bought in 2006 is worth nothing in 2009. Thanks a million, market

I'm so glad we didnt move and start from scratch though. A: because i would have been completely overwhelmed trying to build a style and house from scratch and B: I found out that it wasnt the house's job to be beautiful and reflect joy, but MY job to make it so. And that's what we started to do. Room by room and no interest-financing project by project, we've turned our blah little wood-veneered and khaki colored home into a bright, modern, quirky, fun space that LOOKS like us and that genuinely gives us joy to be in and to work on. Proof? the kitchen, my bathroom, the living room, the studio/office, the pantry, the dining nook, the hall, along with two areas i havent shown you yet because they arent finished.

I said Pinterest was a big part of this change. At first its biggest contribution was "UNNNNGH look at all these pretty rooms and houses, I love them all so much and they are better than mine and I NOW HATE OURS" and a whole lot of COVET.   A common pitfall of ye olde pins. But slowly and surely I was able to say things like, "okay i love that bohemian budoir as a photo, but honestly, that is not me and would be a tad ridiculous in my home." I started figuring out how to gather ideas that would both work in our style of home/stage of life/area of the country and which looked beautiful, joyful, and stylish to mine own eyes.

just a butt load of beauty.

One of the first rooms we got to sort of reinvent from scratch was Layla's nursery. I made no secret of the fact that I got 100% of the inspiration from a nursery tour I saw on Apartment Therapy. I found Apartment Therapy through pinterest and had been scouring their stunning kids room tours for ideas for Layla's. I was completely intimidated by everything I saw on this website. Most of these room-designers weren't actual professional designers...but, dayum, they were light years beyond anything I could slap together or think up. Every room they featured was a work of art to my design-deprived eyes, but Maeve's nursery tour put that inspirational fire in my gut to START PAINTING AND SEWING AND DOING AND MAKING NOWNOWNOW. And that is when you know you've hit inspirational paydirt.

Obviously many of the most beautiful elements of Layla's nursery were straight up copied from this gorgeous space. Since I could never make up a room design of my own that would be this fantastic, I figured copying the look and ideas would have to be my crutch. (And that's a lot of what style is anyway I think: copying from here and there--probably not as much as I did here-- and curating your own look, with a few lightning bolts of original inspiration along the way).

I am dying laughing as I type this because I just went and looked on the original Apartment Therapy Tour and remembered that I had written a comment on it; telling the room's owner how much I loved it and wanted to replicate it for my little girl. Here is what i said 3+ years ago:

hahaha, at least my honesty has not changed.  i'm insane and unoriginal, but at least i'll tell you loudly.

Fast forward 3 years. Lots of trial and error along the way as I learned my own style and started to implement it all around our home, one little makeover at a time. I noticed that, over time, I stopped relying as much on other room tours and Pinterest...I actually started to be able to piece things together on my own. I'm still NO DESIGNER: those evil geniuses who spew face-smackingly gorgeous ideas that you've never seen before from their every pore, but I have found my own groove. Enough of a groove that I even felt confident enough to reach out to IKEA and pitch a partnership with them...which, as you know, they were game for (but I sure wasn't confident to tell hardly anyone about that pitch until it was accepted!).

From the moment IKEA said yes, and the project of making over Judah and Layla's shared space became a reality, I about lost m'damn mind. Saying, "I've found my style! I am a confident interior design gazelle. Watch me prance!!!" is one thing, but having your #1 favorite company back you and say, "Hey , go do this with our name behind you and we're going to put it on the internet forever," is quite another. Crushing anxiety and pressure headaches anyone?

But what else could I do but go for it? I had a van full of furniture waiting for me to make it look good and nothing but a bunch of allen wrenches and my brains to make it happen. And, as you know, it very did happen. A pregnancy complete with horrifying morning sickness happened too--right in the middle of the project--but that's all in the past, and we can all laugh about it now without hardly gagging. 

When the project was over, the photographs taken and my presentation at an IKEA event complete, WHOOOOOSH, what a relief. IKEA was happy with the room, I was proud of what we had created, and the kids were living happily ever after inside of the room. 

On a wild whim I decided that maybe I had graduated from style-idiot bumbling around and copying the best of what I saw, to sort-of-not-clueless-possible-innovator. I decided to submit the room to Apartment Therapy. How cool would it be to go full circle from 100% consumer of their tours to an actual tour contributor!?!

I submitted my link and the pics and waited...and nothing ever happened. I really wasnt too bummed about it since I truly loved the room, and since Apartment Therapy was on such a pedestal in my mind that even my best work was probably not good enough.

So you can imagine the pants-pee that occurred when, completely unrelated to my submission (she said she never even saw it since they get TONS of submissions) I received this email from an AT editor:

I screamed. A lot. And loudly, and basically acted like a complete idiot psycho. 

And this past Friday, the tour went live: a Tour of the Room of My Design (capitalized for fancy), live on Apartment Therapy. Is this real life? And the orange squiggle is looking extra sexy to me all of a sudden.

and then i died of smiling.

I can now retire happily from designing, and blogging, and maybe breathing...just for a moment.

I was pumped at how many people said they were surprised by how much IKEA stuff made up the room. That had been a big goal of mine; to show how you can use IKEA products without it looking like an obviously-IKEA furnished room. I was NOT surprised by all the dumbwaiter love because it's such a  Swiss Family Robinson / Webster dream come true to many a grown up child. 

I expected Apartment Therapy commenters to all be pretty seasoned tour-viewers (with rare exceptions of insane noob comments like mine above) and that they would be a tough crowd to please, let alone impress. I was ready for feedback and critique on my choices and had thickened my skin and opened my brain-heart to use criticism for future good.

Even still, there was a small period of despair when some of the comments on the tour turned decidedly negative and kind of mean/judgmental to my eyes--and not even about the design so much as about our parenting choices. Some folks were loudly anti-TV in the room (understandable, but maybe not relevant in this post) and others were concerned about the safety of the kids in the bunks (not so much the loft though, weirdly). 

It was late Friday night when I saw these and it was hard not to feel pretty hurt. I am a salty gal, but in a horrible twist of fate, I am also really sensitive.  And I am not of the personality that could just remain silent. I replied to a few of the comments, trying really hard to remember that I represent not just my blog and IKEA in this forum, but also Jesus (in every forum, because duh). 

I didnt think I could feel sunnier about the tour than when it first posted, but I was surprised to find that the most meaningful compliments I received about the room didnt end up being about how pretty or cool it was (though truth: those made me soar), but rather how I responded with grace (and funny) to the negative commenters. THAT meant a lot, because it was 100% not me--I had to pray and revise, and pray some more, and then make Jesse talk me down, and then pray some more and then revise again and THEN post my replies.  I never expected an Apartment Therapy tour feature to provide a benchmark Jesus moment for me, but it so did. It was also a great reminder that as awesome as recognition feels, or a pretty room looks, people are more important, even the grumpy ones. 

I am at peace the no one cares more about the safety of my kids than Jesse and I do. Just because someone else might not choose to do a loft or a TV in their room doesnt mean it isn't a valid or right choice for us. How we parent our kids is between us and Jesus, and I feel more secure in that after going through that little spell.

Deep, spiritual detour aside, I am just so proud and happy with how everything turned out. If it wasn't glaringly obvious: An Apartment Therapy Tour was a dream--one I almost didn't even dare to dream--come true!  I absolutely have to thank yall for supporting me by reading, teaching me with your insightful comments and emails, and encouraging me through numerous dark times. I would have never pitched to IKEA if I didnt have a blog that I felt confident about, and that confidence comes from from yall.

I cannot think of a way to end this post that doesnt sound like an Oscars acceptance speech. So let's roll with it, Judah, and Layla, if you're reading this, I love you, and when did you learn to read? Thank you to the Academy, to my husband who is my best friend and #1 supporter, and most of all to my savior, Jesus Christ! Good night!


there is a $100 Visa gift card up for grabs just for one of yall from the good folks at GE on the previous post...enter today!

the winner of the Big Mommy Bag giveaway was Laura W. who has been informed and is fist pumping and dancing around. thanks to everyone who entered!


  1. WHOA BABY--IS THAT EVER COOL!!! So proud of you, Keight, and all of your learning more about yourself as a decorator, mom and Jesus follower. Trust me, I know this isn't much encouragement, but you're decorating savvy is light years ahead of mine!! Love too that you accomplished several of your goals/dreams this year--gotta be a great feeling!! Congratulations!

  2. WHOA BABY--IS THAT EVER COOL!!! So proud of you, Keight, and all of your learning more about yourself as a decorator, mom and Jesus follower. Trust me, I know this isn't much encouragement, but you're decorating savvy is light years ahead of mine!! Love too that you accomplished several of your goals/dreams this year--gotta be a great feeling!! Congratulations!

  3. The soda comment had me rolling...and being pregnant with my third as well, a little bitta peeing as well. So there's that.

    You were more than gracious, funny, and made your point without being ugly. I love the room and we are considering it for our almost five and almost two year old girls. Caveat emptor: the five year old is a scaredy-cat and insists she has to be on the bottom. The almost two year old is intrepid and will probably break her face trying to get to the top bunk. School of hard knocks kid!

    Anyhow, congrats on becoming a mama cubed and getting an Ikea dream room and triumphing over the ugly gavel-wielders on Apartment Therapy!

  4. People can be so brutal. You handled those comments very gracefully- much better than I would have! The room looks amazing!

  5. Someday you'll have a tv show. I called it!!!