The Cultivated Life: Our home.

I'm kicking off this Cultivated Life series with a post on our home. We've been fortunate enough to have a landlord who trusts my sometimes unorthodox decorating style and I wholeheartedly appreciate that. With his trust, we've been able to turn this little rented apartment into a home.

After Adrian and I got married and moved into our first apartment together, I felt this urgency to make our apartment a home. And I decorated in just a matter of weeks. We painted, we shopped, we furnished.

If I could go back and do it again, I would do most everything differently.

Living Room circa 2011

A number of months ago, I realized that our apartment looked as if a single woman lived here. It looked far too feminine and too "I saw this on a blog and now I have try it". Though I had asked Adrian to okay each of my ideas, I hadn't spent much time asking him what he wanted.
Same living room circa 2012

So we started again. We repainted and added a bar in the living room. We bought a new/used couch that I'm in love with and spray painted a Mexican ceramic mask (see below), a lamp and a little tray. We decided on some colors for the bathroom and painted stripes on the walls. Then we replaced the floors in both the kitchen and the living room.

I feel proud of our home and I feel at home in our home. It's a reflection of the unique combination of both of our styles. It's bright and colorful and eclectic. And we love it.

If I could go back and talk to just-married-Emily, I'd tell her to relax. And then I'd tell her the following tips:

1) Take the time to sit and listen because your spouse/roommate/best friend has lots of ideas and opinions. And most of them are awesome.

2) Wait to find the absolute perfect pieces. Because if there is one thing I've learned from that classic show "Hoarders," it's this: There is an actual physical limit to the amount of stuff one can have in their home. And saying yes to an okay item is an automatic no to the perfect item.

3) Don't paint until you're sure. And then wait another couple months.

4) Take pictures of things that excite you. Find what they have in common. Have your spouse/roommate/best friend do the same. See how you can tie them together to create something new and unique. For Adrian and I, we've been able to bring mid century pieces and Mexican pieces and modern pieces together by sticking to a color scheme (white with blue and green accents).

5) New does not necessarily equal better. Older pieces often have so much character, but just need a bit of love and spray paint. Spray paint is a gift from the home decor gods. (Little secret: our "bar" pictured above was a $25 craigslist find. In it's old life, it was a faux-wood laminate in an awful shade of gray. Spray painted white, it's a bar. True story.)

Through this, I've learned that the cultivated home takes time. When we move again and finally settle into a house, I plan to carry these lessons with me. To give myself time to discover our style again (in case it's changed) and to find or create those perfect pieces. And we will slowly make that house a home. Just like we did with this little apartment.

How has your decorating style changed over time? Any tips you would add on how to cultivate your unique home?


  1. Amazing tips! I'm guilty of the same thing, I'm afraid. I just kind of plan things out and then ask my boyfriend. He's so nice too, that he never says anything. I'm trying to include him more in the process though.

  2. My place is lovingly referred to by others as little mexico. I have pieces that I have brought back, pieces that others have brought for me, a huge vintage looking poster, etc. I love it. Those pieces make it feel like home for me.

  3. This is such a great transformation! I love your color combos! Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award! Woot!



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