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Life Lately on Instagram

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the progression of blogging over the years.

When I started blogging (about 8 years ago), I used the blog as a daily-ish journal – dark, grainy photos and all. Once pinterest came on the scene and my blog grew from hobby into profitable business, it forced me to up my photo and content game (which I love, actually). At that time, Instagram became that place for less-than-perfect daily photos that were not quite polished enough for the blog. A few years later and instagram has morphed into a curated collection of photos that are a vital part of the business. Rather than random snapshots of the boys making forts or me with coffee spilled down the front of my shirt (yep, both waaaay back there in my ig feed), I pay close attention to the look and feel of each photo I post to make sure it feels on brand for JDC.

Has it all lost it’s ‘realness’?

Yes, I think it has and I wrestle hard with this.

I want it to be real! I really do. One of my biggest hopes with this online life is that I would come across the same on here as I am in real life.

And yet sometimes I just get annoyed with the whole thing. I catch myself in the moment and think:

Why am I trying to get the perfect picture to post with the perfect caption to get the most likes when what I really want/need to be doing is putting down my phone and engaging with the actual people in my life?

Why does anyone care about what we’re doing or what I have to say?

And is it even right to post a picture of a lovely part of the room when behind the camera are hidden piles of who-knows-what?

Or, even worse, when family dynamics are funky or parenting is hard or there is sadness or struggle – how do I keep posting pretty photos and stay honest and genuine in those moments?

Anyway, that’s the rub I’m feeling right now.

Perhaps you feel it in your own way too.

I still love blogging. And I still can’t stop instagram. Both are so creatively inspiring for me and a true blessing in my life. There’s just a thing happening in my soul about it all and this is me saying to you, I don’t yet have it figured out.

So until then, I just take it day by day. Sometimes I’m all about posting. Somedays I’m not. I’m allowing myself the freedom to pick and choose and be as genuine as possible through it all.

I did not mean to go that direction with this post! I was truly just going to catch you up on what I’ve been posting to instagram in case you missed anything :) I post over there one or two times per day and I try to switch it up from what’s on the blog, just to keep things interesting. Instagram (while definitely curated) is where I put snapshots of life in the moment.

Like this moment:

We had friends coming over for dinner and they got stuck in traffic, so it gave me an extra hour to clean the kitchen. There is nothing that gets me motivated to tidy up the house than when we have people over.

And then, of course, a few hours later and it was all messy again. As it should be :)


Sometimes I’m just doing my normal things around the house and a sight catches my eye. That’s what happened in this photo:

The way the sun shines through the window in late morning gets me every time.


I had a similar moment when I walked into my in-law’s house recently:

Ryan’s mom has such a natural talent at mixing patterns, layering, making a cozy and beautiful home. I’m grateful for her example and hospitality! (Did you know she teaches our Simplified Flowers online class? She’s adorable and talented and so peaceful to listen to).


Speaking of talented mama’s, I was at my mom’s house last weekend (they took all four kids for the weekend and it was such a treat!) and her entry was looking particularly inviting:

And now you know that plant-loving runs in the family.


Our entry keeps getting little updates:

One of my favorite pastimes is puttering around the house, moving and styling and putting more holes in the walls. Very little feels permanent as far as decorating goes, but I’m having fun trying out different pieces and art and accessories to see what feels right.

Note: many have asked if I’ll be putting up the wall of L’s in our new house (see it in the old house here). Short answer: no. I don’t have a wall for it and also I am loving the creative challenge of doing this house in its own way. So I’m just picking from the collection of L’s and putting them around the house here and there.


One thing we are sort of repeating from the old house is the wall of art in Audrey’s bedroom:

We collected so many cute pieces and I loved how the gallery wall looked in her old room (see it here with tips for how to create a gallery wall) that I created a second edition for her new room.


A few weeks ago I decided to tackle the little bathroom and painted the vanity:

Then I put up a sample of wallpaper and love it!

It is going to be a little wacky and pattern-crazy, but this little no-window bathroom needs something fun and unexpected. I’ll post the full makeover once the wallpaper goes up for good!


Another summer project we’re taking on is phase one of the family room:

This is our most-used room and hasn’t been touched yet! I painted the walls the same white as the rest of the house (shoji white by sherwin williams) and finished the trim this weekend as well. Details and a few paint tips to come soon.


And that is that.

Real life, in pretty-ish pictures.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments or thoughts on how you reconcile real life with social media.

You’re the best, you guys. Thanks for reading. XOXO.

P.S. you can find my on instagram @jonesdesigncompany.

56 Responses to Life Lately on Instagram

  1. Tina Mix July 31, 2017 at 4:22 am #

    I think instagram is the same as life. It allows us to pause and appreciate the perfect, the neat and tidy, the new white rug, the styled-just-right corner, because the other side of the room is where life is happening. The sun coming in the window is lovely, and you can’t hear the children squabbling behind you in a photograph. The kitchen is sparkling today and everything is just so, but that doesn’t mean that basket of laundry isn’t still on the landing from three days ago. There are messy moments alongside the picture perfect moments in every home and family and life. Sharing the good stuff doesn’t make you inauthentic. Taking a moment to admire the places where it’s all coming together is like a well-deserved pat on the back, right before you step on a Lego brick and coffee spills all over the new white rug.

  2. Michelle July 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

    Emily, oh my heart this post is exactly what I have been feeling. I don’t look at the well curated feeds and think I am any less than, but what I have felt is the words you have shared. I still find it all a bit strange and I love inspiration and lovely things, but I love real more. I have always been uncomfortable with what is not, and it is helpful to hear more how others see this too. Thanks for being open with us!

  3. Leanne July 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

    Wondering if shoji white by sherwin williams is what you’ve used for trim colour in the past?

    • emily July 27, 2017 at 9:01 am #

      In our old house, we had a custom color match for our trim. In the new house, we’re using shoji white on the walls and trim (just different finishes).

  4. Jessica Dietz July 26, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    Do you have any tips for painting a vanity like that? How to get it to cure properly? I have a very ugly vanity in our half bath that previous owners put some kind of finish on. I’d love to paint it in the meantime of waiting to redo that little bathroom!

    • emily July 27, 2017 at 9:02 am #

      I gave it a thorough light sanding and wiped it clean before brushing on three coats of paint. I didn’t use primer or a sealer and it is doing well.

  5. susan b July 26, 2017 at 5:08 am #

    Thanks for sharing! Love reading and your style of decorating!

  6. Karen July 25, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    I’ve been following you for 8 years. You are as real as it gets so I hope your “rub” rubs off on others. Keep up the good work!

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:35 pm #

      Ah, thank you Karen!

  7. Andrea July 25, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

    I follow you because you are REAL & these days that is a rare find.

    I love your style, I love your approach to life and I loved your road trip last summer. Oh and coffee chat….I could go on & on……

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:36 pm #

      How kind of you to say. Thank you!

  8. SallyAnne July 25, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    You do a beautiful job with your pictures, but to be honest, I loved the old Emily better. All the perfection gets old. Real people. Real lives. They never do.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:36 pm #

      It’s still the same me :)

  9. meganleiann July 25, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    To be honest back, my life is so hard right now. I’ve had to step away from instagram because I catch myself succumbing to jealousy when lives look perfect or bitterness when I can’t buy the things people are advertising. That is on me and the direction the Lord is taking my life. That is not on you. I can be mature and look away.

    That being said, when you are real and post your real life it does feel more like I have an online friend. It’s helpful and good and MORE encouraging than when everything always looks perfect.

    Thanks for being real.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:08 am #

      Thank you Megan. XOXO.

  10. kristen July 25, 2017 at 8:16 am #

    Do you think your mom and mom in law might be willing to let you post more pics of their houses? I love their style!

    Thanks for your transparency. Most of the time social media feels like a rat race to me. I miss ye ole days when I could just throw a photo up there and not spend an hour curating the setting, editing the photo, and finding the perfect words, hashtags, blah blah blah to go along with it. It’s quite strange when I stop to think about it!!

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:09 am #

      Right?! What a weird thing this online life is :)

      I will try to get photo tours of my parent and ryan’s parents homes! That would be fun.

  11. Kelly July 25, 2017 at 5:07 am #

    What are the paint colors in your Mom and Mother-in-laws houses in the photos? I already have a swatch of your white!

    Thanks!

    • Suzie July 25, 2017 at 9:07 am #

      Yes the details for paint colors would be great.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:09 am #

      I will check with them … although, to be fair, colors from photos really are not the greatest indication of color (I brighten most photos quite a bit before posting!)

  12. Audrey Brouwer July 24, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

    Real life and social media … last Friday my daughter was married in a Pinterest perfect wedding in thanks to an amazing venue and personal touches by my family. What the pictures didn’t show was I never had time to get a manicure or pedicure, my parents disappearing just before the ceremony, (We found them chatting with guests) and one of the ring bearers who didn’t want to leave his spot in the shade…by the way he is a 14 month old Great Dane. It was a wonderful ceremony! To God be the glory :)

  13. Deborah Raney July 24, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

    I’ve only been following you for a few months, but what has attracted me from the beginning is how genuine and real you are. I think most people “get” social media enough to know that most of us are putting our best foot forward when we post photos. Sure it’s fun to once in a while see proof that other people are as messy as I am or don’t always have it all together. But your talent is in being put together and being super creative in home decor, so that’s why we come and keep coming back. I love your videos, too. Just keep sharing the same kind of things you always have, and you’ll make a lot of people happy! P.S. I love the way you honored your mom and mother-in-law in the photo captions.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:10 am #

      Thank you Deborah. I really appreciate the encouragement!

  14. Maureen July 24, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

    Thanks for the honest and incredibly sweet post. I can hardly wait to hear about that wallpaper and where it is from.

  15. TinaD July 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm #

    I like the pretty pictures–I’m one of those followers in it for the escapism and the stripy dish towels. I’m amazed at how much effort you put in to shifting stuff around to Optimize the look of things; I couldn’t do it. I don’t have the energy. Nor am I stylishly inclined…

  16. Ashton July 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    I love the vanity makeover! I have a similar wooden one i’d love to paint. Do you have a recommendation for a type/brand of paint?

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      I am NOT fancy when it comes to painting. I just grabbed a sample at sherwin williams and used that! It was about $5. I lightly sanded the vanity beforehand and painted three coats. Color is called Rushing River.

      • Carla July 28, 2017 at 11:03 am #

        Love that color.. thanks for sharing the name.

  17. Heather July 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

    Was the vanity in your powder room installed when you moved in? Or was it a JDC find? I’d love any details you can tell about it.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:13 am #

      I’ll do a whole post on the bathroom once the wallpaper gets up. The vanity was in when we moved in and is not my favorite. Mostly because it is a bit oversized for the bathroom. It functions well, though, and until we do a full rip-out remodel (and move the door), it works! And I like it much better in the lighter gray than when it was black.

  18. Shara Lee July 24, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Emily,
    It’s looking wonderful. Where did you find the floral print that hangs above your black & white hooks?
    Thanks

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:13 am #

      Isn’t that cute?! It is from Hobby Lobby.

  19. Ann July 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    Sort of off topic, but ….. I think you may have already given the source for the flower garland on Audrey’s gallery wall, or maybe you made it yourself and provided a tutorial. Either way, would you mind sharing it again? It adds such great texture and dimension! Thank you.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      I bought the flower garland a few springs ago in the easter decoration section at Target.

  20. Barb July 24, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    Regarding: “And is it even right to post a picture of a lovely part of the room when behind the camera are hidden piles of who-knows-what?” …….you could post two pictures — one of the lovely part of the room and the other one of the hidden piles. I, for one, would find that encouraging. :)

  21. Crystal July 24, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you for posting this! I share your sentiments about balancing a polished feed that is still genuine. Thanks for keeping it real!

  22. Lauren July 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    Love the wallpaper! Could you tell me where it is from?

  23. Marm July 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    I’m looking forward to the wallpaper post when you are finished. I love your choice. Where did you buy the round mirror in the bathroom?

  24. Kathy Pope July 24, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    I agree with Jaclyn. You are inspirational and darling and REAL! (I laughed at your comments about your knees). I can see where your heart is – and your sweet, humble and honest personality shows through all the perfect photos, clever ideas and beautiful things. Keep going and keep it real. Maybe show people a messy room/space sometime just to make us feel human. :)

  25. Cindy July 24, 2017 at 11:24 am #

    Well, Emily, I appreciate you being real and genuine, and the beauty that you share with all of us.

  26. Niki July 24, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    I’ve definitely been having a similar struggle. I’ve stopped myself reaching for my phone just to see how many people have liked my latest Instagram post. I think it is important to listen to that conviction and ask ‘why do I feel the need to be put together in order to get likes?’ In the end, our worth comes from the Lord and the fact that we are made in His image, nothing that we do changes that. I love seeing real life, especially on the internet as it becomes harder and harder to find truth. One of the things that got me to follow this blog is the authenticity. And yes, the pictures are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!!

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:17 am #

      I agree so much.

  27. Lisa M. July 24, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    First of all, I cannot wait to see your updated powder room when it’s finished! I am struggling with what to do with ours (it’s been the same for 10 years!) and looking for some inspiration.
    I love instagram, but I find myself needing to take a break from it every once in a while because it’s so easy to get caught up in all the “pretty” and start to feel like my home isn’t enough. And I don’t like that feeling. I also can get tired of people always trying to sell their brand…but I try not to get too upset about that because I know it’s a good platform for people who make their living on the internet and social media. Heck, I’d love to be able to do that! :)
    I also hear of many bloggers who say blogging is a thing of the past and Insta is where it’s at. I could not agree less. I still love reading blogs! Instagram is one small snippet. A blog can go in to so much more detail with so many more pictures. This is jut my measly little opinion, but I love the way you balance your business and personal life both here and on IG. Thanks for your honesty and transparency!

  28. Nataliya July 24, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Do you know what kind of rug is in your moms entry? Is it seagrass? Does she like how it performs? Thank you!

    • Lori July 24, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

      Oh yes, if you have a link to it we’d much appreciate it too!

  29. Kim - The TomKat Studio July 24, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    I couldn’t agree more with how you are feeling about picture-perfect instagram. So much pressure! I say we all relax a little and post whatever feels natural. I miss the days of casual blogging and I am trying to get back to it! xoxo Kim
    PS. Loving the items I ordered from your shop!

  30. Katie Morene July 24, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    I’m having that same feeling but on the other side of Instagram. I don’t post to an Instagram account but love following about 20 different accounts and sometimes it seems everything is always perfect out there. I know that’s not the case but keeping it real seems to be a challenge on Instagram. It’s turned into Pinterest where everything is bright, new and shiny all the time. I miss the old days of Instagram where it was more “This is me in all my imperfections too!” But don’t get me wrong, I love the pretty photos as much as the next person. One of the reasons I follow most of the Instagram accounts I follow is because I like you (the you from blogging) and I get hooked into your life in this funny web-way. In your case I like seeing the messes and the kids and you and Ryan, even the dog! It’s not a personal relationship, it’s definitely one-sided but to turn it into curated photos with sunshine and light all the time is beginning to feel flat and empty with even the one-sided connection become less rather than more. It’s beginning to feel as if I’m no more than a click, a buy, a readership, an ad opportunity and that doesn’t feel good.

    I love the fact that you’re feeling this too, maybe in a different way but at least you’re asking the question!

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:19 am #

      This is really insightful. Thank you for taking the time to chime in. I do think the personal is part of it all … still working out how that fits :)

  31. Stephanie July 24, 2017 at 9:47 am #

    I’ve been hearing this conversation on from others I follow on Instagram quite often lately. I agree with Jaclyn, I think most people follow accounts for inspiration and ideas. But what I’ve found is the realness comes in with Instagram stories you get to see glimpses of real life and the behind the scenes photos there.

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:21 am #

      I feel like this is the case with instagram stories. It does give you a more behind-the-scenes, unpolished look. I am trying to do a little bit here and there, but to tell you the truth, I don’t want to make time for ONE MORE social media thing that I feel like I have to do to keep up. So I will not be a sensation on stories, but will post when it works. At least that is how I feel about it today :)

  32. mary July 24, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    What kind and color of paint did you use on the bathroom vanity? So cute

    • emily July 25, 2017 at 10:20 am #

      I used a sample pot of sherwin williams rushing river.

  33. Stephanie July 24, 2017 at 9:26 am #

    The balance is what it’s all about. When people don’t pursue beauty and wallow in mess it can be frustrating also. Keep living in truth and making a beautiful home!

  34. Jaclyn Levy July 24, 2017 at 4:24 am #

    I’ve seen more and more social media conundrums like this lately which I think is a good thing for people to be thinking and talking about! I don’t mind the curated photos and the perfect pictures; I think people follow accounts like yours for an escape and inspiration. At the same time I don’t think the real, the sad, the hard, the messy, the struggles, should be hidden from view either. That’s where our humanity resides and those are parts of life we can all relate to and bond over. One of my favorite quotes is this: Sunshine all the time only creates a desert. We want the rain forest, baby!

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