I don’t live by many decorating rules. Usually, I just know what I like and go with it.
Sometimes, however, rules are helpful; they offer guidelines, checklists, tangible to-dos. As much as I don’t love rigid rules, I do enjoy helpful clear direction.
In all my years of studying lovely interior spaces (nearly all 37 years of my life) and in decorating my own homes (especially this one), I have come across a mildly flexible, yet fairly accurate belief that there are a handful of decorative essentials that should be in each room.
Take natural wood, for example. A room – and particularly a room that is mainly neutral like in my home – looks drastically more pleasing to the eye and ‘finished’ when there is a touch of natural wood.
Let’s pause for a second and talk about that word ‘finished’. I’m not sure I ever want my house to feel finished. I quite like letting it be my canvas for creativity and allowing myself the freedom to move things, restyle, edit is part of the fun. Finished feels so final and I’m partial to a home that is adaptable. If you feel frustrated that your home isn’t ‘finished’, I’m completely with you and I say let’s quit trying for finished. Let’s instead go for ‘in process’.
Okay, back to natural wood.
Ryan and I have been on a decluttering spree. One area that got the royal pack-it-all-up treatment was our kitchen.
I’m always fiddling with styling the shelves and I’ve traditionally been a more is more type of girl.
But more recently, my style has drifted slightly to the less is more camp and I’m so very happy with how clean and open it has made our house feel, particularly the kitchen. Less clutter on the shelves feels so fresh – just our white dishes, a few white vessels and our glassware.
With this type of minimal decorating, though, there is a risk that things will feel sterile, cold, staged. Those are not words or feelings I’m going for when it comes to decorating our home.
After living with the decluttered/minimal/very white kitchen for the past few weeks, it felt like something was missing. I thought back through my list of essential decorating elements and discovered the problem: our kitchen was missing natural wood tones.
My first step was switching out the old silver lamp that sat on the counter (you can see it here) for a chunky wood-look one. I found this great lamp at my local Target for around $40. It was just the thing to bring in that warm tone we were missing.
Next, I added this simple wood round to the center of the table and topped it with a fern in my favorite zinc flower pot.
You can find wood rounds at craft stores (see source list below), but this one came to us in a pretty fun way.
For our little spring break trip, we rented a house that sat right next to a ravine of tall trees. During a big windstorm this winter, a couple of the trees fell and others we leaning dangerously.
One morning, the arborists set up their tree-cutting tools and we spent a good hour or so standing by watching the whole thing go down (pun intended).
Have you ever watched professionals fall trees? It’s pretty fascinating/fear inducing. My dad pulled out his camera and snapped photos while my mom struck up a conversation with the men, mentioning at one point wouldn’t it be so cool to cover a wall with tree rounds?! To which the men replied, “we’d be happy to cut a few for you”.
And just like that, from way up high, the tree-cutter sawed off a real wood round for both of us. #bestsouvenirever
I never know what to do with the center of an empty table and this wood round/metal vessel/fresh fern combo works great. You can still see over it while seated, it’s easy to move when the kids need more space to draw, and it adds one more touch of natural wood to the kitchen.
So for just $40 plus the cost of a new fern, the kitchen feels less sterile and more warm. Lesson learned: add a touch of natural wood to every room.
1 Oversized Wood Table Lamp | 2 Grand Maison Table Lamp | 3 Sphere Table Lamp | 4 Reclaimed Wood Slab Lamp | 5 Thick Wood Round | 6 Boston Fern (try your local nursery) | 7 Ridged Zinc Pot | 8 Striped Cache Pot | 9 Emilie Round Planter | 10 Metal Waves Pot
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I LOVE the verse on your black board! “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy” – Our wedding day verse. :-) !!!!!!
Isn’t that cute! Audrey wrote it out :)
Amazing photography http://www.99percentlifestyle.com/
The wood circle from the tree is really cool but I am not feeling the lamp on the counter. I like the idea of a lamp in the kitchen but this one looks like the wrong proportions and vibe to my eye. Anyone else feel this way or is it just me??
Great tips as always! Would you consider your self a minimalist? Our family of 5 is currently living in the UK, which has been a wonderful expirence. Our UK home is less than half the size of our previous home is the states. I find my self stressed from “cleaning” (moving piles) constantly and not fully enjoying my family and our time here. How would you recommend decluttering?
Your kitchen looks awesome. I feel the same way about becoming a minimalist. I have so much clutter and I need to throw so much away.
It looks great and so clean when the counters are clear of clutter.
I love your floor and all that you added to it. You did a great job decorating. Thanks for sharing.
I never would have considered myself a minimalist – I just really love things! – but in the past year or two, both my husband and I have felt this urge to clear the clutter, streamline, stop spending so much time managing STUFF. So maybe I’m not quite over to the minimalist side, but moving there. We are leaving on a 4 month road trip and will be living out of a 28 ft trailer. If anything can make us minimalist it is living with 6 people in a tiny space! We’ll see what happens to my decorating sense when we return …
Yes on natural wood tones- I totally agree! I pull wood into to my very white kitchen by having a couple wood salad bowls on my open shelves. Leaning a group of wood cutting boards against the backsplash is another way to bring some wood in (and practical as well!). I’m a fan of big wood dough bowls but I haven’t pulled the trigger on one yet as they can be expensive. Now, I’m off to buy a fern… my kitchen needs some green. Love your blog Emily!?
Could you share your list of essential decorating elements you mentioned in this post?
The same thing with the wording happened in my email as well. I came over to the blog to see if I was missing something. Very strange that it’s only in email and not on the actual post. Anyway, it’s truly amazing how small changes can make such a big difference in the look and feel of a room!
OK i love this post. But I have to tell you something wierd…i get it by email and usually read it that way unless i have to or want to click through for some reason. But in my email version, the sentence that says “next i added this simple wooden…”, actually says this….
“So we started a monthly membership where for $9 per month, you get a whole collection of new designs each month (because each new month has a personality of its own and should have fresh designs!).”
Thought you should know!? Wierd, huh?
I know! That was transposed from the last email I sent about Paper Works. Sorry for the confusion!
What are some of the other loose decorating guidelines that you tend to follow? I think they would help me in my own home. Maybe future posts on that topic? Thanks!
I love log centerpieces- I did the same thing with a fresh log round and I was shocked by what happened after a month: http://biblicalhomemaking.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-big-fat-diy-fail-log-centerpieces.html
I didn’t know you were supposed to poly them!! :P
I’m so glad you said this. I was gonna tell Emily about your blog post about it. :)
Did you bake your wood slab first? I’ve read if not properly dried, it can leave a water ring on your wood table. Just a thought…
It is still moist, so I’ve been moving it around. baking would be a good idea to get it to dry out completely!
Like the addition of wood lamp! I think a new table the color of the lamp would warm the space even more and add a layer of dimension.
I completely agree. We love this table and bought it before we switched out our floors from blonde to dark. Now that they are dark, our table and chair sort of fade away – same is true in the dining room. Things to think about before making flooring changes!
How about the dish towels? Have you got any left?
I love them!!
I just got four big boxes of them today! I’ll put them up in the shop on friday.
Adding the wood texture totally warmed up your lovely space! I would love to see your restyled open shelves! Please?! :)
I will share soon! If not here, over on instagram.
Totally agree. I have a large wood pedestal bowl and a wood round topped with a plant like yours and it really does make a difference. I like the texture it adds.
I want more details on the lamp. Where is it plugged in/how did you hide the cord?!?
Love this post with such a great tip/trick. Thanks!