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Life Lately on Instagram

    entry with white dresser large L blue lamp

    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.

    71 thoughts on “Life Lately on Instagram”

    1. 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. 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!

      1. 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).

    3. 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!

      1. 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.

    4. Oh my, I love your style and I don’t care if your photos aren’t perfect. They all look perfect to me and I’m always able to find a bit of inspiration somewhere! Safety first though for your big wall…use an extender on your roller and have someone down below on that giant ladder. That pic made me nervous for you. I want to see more of your in laws house! Thank you for sharing and enjoy your job don’t be stressed!

    5. Long-time reader here and I totally get your inner struggle. I have really been enjoying Stories on Instagram — they are the little lifestyle peeks that the main feed used to be.

    6. I think we all love to see inspirational beauty, which is why we read so many blogs and visit Instagram! Seeing the Uh-ohs and Messes, though, is what keeps it real. Love your style. Love your blog. Love getting to “visit” with you!

    7. I love a balance of pretty and real life. I follow tons of interior designers and love the construction shots as much as the afters. I also don’t believe “being real” is what photos are for. The realness is in your voice and your heart. Since your followers come from your blog, I imagine, then we know you are real because we have followed you and gotten to know your authenticity that way. Any one who has come to you through Instagram is probably there for those edited shots most likely. I think you’re doing great, don’t be too hard on yourself. I also would love to see more of your parents and in-laws homes. We love you Emily!

    8. 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!

    9. 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……

    10. 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.

    11. 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.

    12. 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!!

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


      1. 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!)

    14. 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 :)

    15. 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.

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

    17. 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…

    18. 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?

      1. 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.

    19. 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.

      1. 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.

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

    21. 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.

    22. 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. :)

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

    24. 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?

    25. 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. :)

    26. 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!!

    27. 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. I am not on instagram, but I do a little on facebook as we have local things for sale there and sometimes find some treasures. BUT I do know that I get super excited when I see I have mail from you on the blog. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your style, your home, your writing…….just plain anything you have to share. I appreciate your honesty and that is another reason I just enjoy…..being your friend. I have learned from you and been inspired from you and maybe even just appreciate life a little bit more from tidbits you have innocently put on your blog. Thanks for sharing and for being you!!!

    29. I personally think that the line between presenting something beautiful and presenting realness is sometimes letting the real-ness of life into your blogging. I love the design and decorating ideas you blog about and am not in a position to “hire” someone to help me navigate how to inject my own personality and style into my home on a very tight budget. So, I look forward to your posts and read them and sometimes think “it would be nice to see the “real”. Everything is so polished and “perfectly placed” in your pictures. Life isn’t about the pursuit of or living out a state of perfection. It’s messy sometimes and sometimes it’s okay to let your readership see the messy. Messy and chaos are a part of life, too.
      Thanks for being vulnerable sharing! :)

    30. Kim - The TomKat Studio

      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!

    31. I love your blog. When I see the pictures you have posted I feel a sense of beauty, inspiration and a kind of inner peace knowing that I too can create a cozy and beautiful space for my myself and my family. I do admit, sometimes all the perfection (from all sources, not just here) is overwhelming. It is a great mix of realness to see some photos that capture everyday life! So, go ahead, capture anything that sparks your interest, perfect or not, I’m sure you will have an audience for all!

    32. Thank you for sharing your heart. I have dealt with the same exact feelings this summer, which led me to take a break from social media. I’m really enjoying living in ‘real’ life, I’m not comparing my real to anyone’s fake and I feel a freedom that I haven’t felt in a long time. Although I have an urge to create beauty and share it with others, I am completely rethinking about which avenue to do this. It may just be in my home with my family and friends, or making special gifts as the Lord leads. I will pray for the Lord to lead you as well in His truth and guide your heart to the right path ❤️

    33. I completely agree with the comment above and this is something I’ve always struggled with too Emily! But the bottom line with Insta is that most people do use it as an escape and want to see pretty pictures that inspire them. What I try to do is share a pretty picture but make sure the captions reflect real life. The good and the crazy! Yesterday I shared a pic of some pretty flowers in my bathroom but wrote something about the struggle that is getting my family ready and out the door on time for church. The IG stories are another way to show more of a “real life” side of things. But I so hear you! I’ve been blogging 9 years and it has just all changed so much. I still love it but sometimes hate that I have to keep changing along with it. 😘 Thanks for all you share! Your blog has always been a favorite. ❤️

    34. 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!

      1. 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 :)

    35. 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.

      1. 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 :)

    36. Emily, I have been reading your blog from the beginning. I started b/c I loved your style and fun projects. I also loved how real your blog seemed. As someone new to Instagram I understand your struggle between the two. I think you’re awesome and if you continue to keep the mix of beauty with a little reality and honesty thrown in you’re set and your readers will appreciate it too!

    37. I would love to know what the paint type, brand etc is that you used on the vanity. We bought our house in 1989, and while the vanities are still in great condition, I’d love to update them with some nice paint colors. We have the standard issue 1989 medium oak cabinetry throughout the house, and like I said before, structurally it is all in wonderful condition, so no need to replace it for that reason.

      Is it difficult to paint the wood, and still get a professional result? How about prep? I’m new to this site (recommended highly by my daughter in law), so if you have previously posted about how to paint existing oak cabinets, maybe you can direct me to that.

      Thanks so much!

    38. Emily, I get it. I’m a faith blogger and writer, and sometimes, well it’s hard. I’m taking the summer to regroup and relax. In my world that means no major writing projects and lying in the sunshine at lunchtime! It’s okay to be real with your readers – because we are real too and we have days that are just so-so. JUST BE YOU – because we like YOU just the way you are not the way YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE!!!

    39. 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!

    40. I’m in the hospitality business. When guests come to our resort they expect us to check the issues in the back. They want to experience serenity, warmth and a positive environment in the front. Does it mean we don’t have drama? No. Does it mean guests assume we don’t? No. But it means that they expect us to have the professionalism to be an elegant swan on the surface even if under the water we’re flailing our legs and hustling.

      You’re also in the hospitality business. And you’ve invited your customers to experience serenity, warmth and a positive environment. Does that mean I think you don’t hustle? I know you do. Does it mean I think you don’t have meltdowns when servers do weird things or photos get lost? I’m assuming that happens. But I appreciate that you check the drama in the back. Because as a customer I like that you host a consistent environment for me to escape my own problems and have a space for serenity, warmth and positivity.

      I think in blogging the lines blur so much because it’s a business in which the customer “knows the owner” and then the audience expects you to toe the line between treating us like a customer vs fan vs friend. And it builds this underlying pressure to be authentic, but also manage the reality of profit (which can often conflict).

      I guess I would just encourage you to compartmentalize and think of your job the way most people do. Most people go to work and present a filtered, polished version of themselves; then in their “real life” with their friends they can be authentic and true. Just check in with yourself. If your close girlfriends know your heart and your concerns and your fears then you’re being true. If your audience doesn’t know those things that doesn’t mean you’re not being true, it means you’re being professional.

      You strike the balance better than you think. I’ve been reading for almost the full duration of your blogging and you’ve navigated the change in tides incredibly well. And maybe these gut checks are your way of making sure the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in a direction you’re not comfortable with. And then you recalibrate and move on. But you’re doing far better than you think… and isn’t that the most consistently female authentic truth ever? ;)

    41. I really love the fact that you are so open and honest. You have real pictures and not a bunch of staged ones. I wish more bloggers would do the same. I think many readers probably feel the same as I do. We LIKE to see/hear real life!

      I love how you decorate your house. I read a blog post where someone was advised against buying an item. The blogger replied “oh it’s just for looks, it won’t get used much”. I thought to myself “not in our house”!! Our house works for us! Of course I want things to look good too, but the house has to work for us and our lives. I get that feel from your home.

    42. Honestly, as a online business owner myself (and a huge fan of your blog) I don’t subscribe to the notion of a picture perfect Instagram (or social media in general) all the time. I am much more likely to follow and enjoy people who let their real selves show, imperfections and all.

      I don’t believe that anyone should just let it all hang out there for the world to see, but very few people in my experience connect online through their perfections (“You have a perfect living room? I do too! let’s hang out!”) but I am eager and much more willing to connect over those imperfections (Oh my word! I’m not the only one that has a big bin of junk hiding in background or a kid that is melting down three inches from the flat lay I’m trying to shoot!)

      I guess I say all this to reassure you that I would much rather use social media as a connection tool than a popularity litmus test, and the fact that you put your struggles about this on your blog makes me like you even more :)

    43. 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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