Inevitably, almost every time I post a picture of a small project I’m working on, someone will respond by saying they can’t wait to see “the big reveal.” I hate to say it, but that’s what Instagram has done to all of us. So many people are making it look so easy to turn out one huge project after another, when it reality, there’s nothing easy about it. I often have to remind myself that I’m a one-woman show, doing what I can in the midst of all the other things I have to get done in a day. As most of us are. . .
When you’re seeing room reveal after room reveal every time you scroll through your phone, there’s most often a team of people making it happen, no matter how it’s presented. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but the idea of always coming up with huge “before and afters” isn’t realistic time-wise or financially for the majority of us. Plus, you know, there’s only so many big changes you can make when you settle into one house and decide to stay put.
One of my favorite accounts is and always has been The Nester. It doesn’t have to do with our styles aligning perfectly (although hers is great), as much as it has to do with her approach to slower decorating and the joy she finds in her home on a daily basis. She added a new plate to her plate wall the other day and I was riveted. She’s built an entire online community around helping other people make these small changes.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I could show more unstaged, unfinished projects around our house and still make this a somewhat inspiring place for you to visit. Personally, I love to see this kind of thing on other people’s accounts, but it’s always scary to put something less than your best out on the internet to live–and possibly to haunt you–forevermore. (And of course, the comments. . . The comments!)
I do, however, feel like all of these huge reveals (everything’s a major gut job or renovation!) can weigh us down, even if we’re only observing from our screens. I don’t want “piddling” around my house and taking photos of it to become a lost art. There’s value in sharing small changes and ideas with other people, even if they feel silly or repetitive. I love the idea of adding one small thing to my kitchen countertop that makes me happy when I look at it. I love when it dawns on me that a piece of art looks 100 percent better in another room. I love when I find an amazing mirror at a thrift store and sharing my happiness with other bargain hunters. It may not be the content that grows huge followings, but I think we need more of it.
Do you think seeing constant room reveals influences the way you think about your own space? I’d also love to hear what other accounts you follow that do slow and small decorating well.
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And this is exactly why I follow you! There are too many “Ta-Da” reveals on the Instagram. Please keep doing what you do and keep it real!
Emily Clark says
And this is why your account is the ONLY one I’ve followed consistently for years! Thank you for staying true to yourself in the crazy world of Instagram. You are a breath of fresh air!
Emily Clark says
Thanks, Janice. It does feel like it’s impossible to “keep up” but I’m kind of over it. :)
I like seeing small changes. I don’t have the money to do a complete overhaul, so it encourages me when I see that small changes can make a big improvement.
Lori Benoit says
Emily, I love your attitude, your style, and your content. I love seeing all your projects—big and small—because I always learn something. Keep doing YOUR thing on Instagram because it works!
I LOVE this post! I always say that Instagram (for the most part) isn’t REAL life. The $$ and time behind the rooms and reveals you see just isn’t life real for the majority of us. This post was so refreshing :). Thank you for keeping it real.
DEBBIE Epp says
I just love everything you do. You can “reveal” it however you want to! Complete…..not complete just show us.
The takeaway for me the other day when I saw your post was that a piece of furniture I have in the basement would be so cute (and functional) at the top of the stairs! I love that. What I’ve loved about your account is seeing a stack of books, the collected blue and white together for an impact look, the black wall, the green cabinets (swoon!). It’s the takeaways that give me courage to try it too. The entirely new, re-done rooms, while lovely, are financially unattainable and led to some discontent that was shaming for me. I love the joy I got the other day from ordering plate hangers and hanging the plates I’ve had for quite a while. I’m grateful for your inspiration.
Robbie Zeller says
I have followed you for many years and I am such a fan of your thinking here! There’s lots of us slow change people who actually think of budgeting and the heart to nurture a spirit of contentment with our homes. Thank you for being such an excellent example in the design world Emily!
Karen Salp says
You’re the best Emily! Instagram makes everything look perfect and like it happens immediately! Even though I know that’s not the case, it can make one feel like a failure! Thank you for your honesty. It’s much more gratifying to see the slow and steady progress.
Love everything you do! Big or small. I’m here for it. Appreciate you sharing your heart most of all.
Good post. I have never joined Instagram. Another thing that bothers me with “everything’s a major gut job or renovation!” is that there seems to be so much waste. I read a good essay at the beginning of the year about how the small things incrementally make life enjoyable. I look forward to your posts, be they the process or the result.
Amber B design says
Yes!! I completely agree with you. I just wrote a blog post about switching a blanket ladder from our living room to our family room and I smile every time I walk in and see the small change. I am all for shopping around your home and finding joy in the small, but impactful changes!! I love what you have shown in this space so far. Looks amazing!!
I love this. Personally I am too tired to even curate an Instagram feed, and it would probably just drive me crazy if I did. Bring on the blogging. <3
There are lots of us who feel the same way you do about IG (and we’re probably all in our 40’s 😆). It’s just too much to keep up with. I’ve followed you for years and although our styles are quite different, I’ve always loved how you just share your life and your home without trying to be anything but yourself. Thanks for sharing with us!
Katie Gunzenhauser says
Exactly! I get discouraged at times seeing the posts with the brand new everything and top of the line finishes and furniture. That’s precisely why I follow you and have for many years. You are relatable, have great ideas and help me think outside my little box.
I love your small changes! Your post on using a duvet cover on a dresser convinced me to try a drop cloth on my old Ikea bookcase…that looked so good that I wound up making a slipcover for it (if you give a mouse a cookie…)
Catherine Moring says
I’m here for the piddling and a lamp or art getting a new location in a home! Not planning any big renovations myself so your style of small changes suits me just fine.
This is why I have followed you for years and look forward to your posts. While seeing the reveal of a dream kitchen is fun, it’s not the reality for most of us. You have impeccable style and it’s inspiring to watch you decorate using thrifted finds, repurposed pieces, etc… it inspires me to make small changes that I love rather than waiting until I win the lottery to make my home beautiful. Thank you for sharing the process!
heather j says
This speaks to me so much! We are slowly (very slowly) remodeling our home and I don’t have the time, energy or funds to bust out large project after large project (how do they do it?) but I do have all of the former to make small tweaks around my house that bring me joy. Thank you for years of inspiration and realness.
Jocelyn White says
I am here for the small things. Some of the amazing big transformations are great, but, they are out of my budget, out of my capability and kind of exhausting seeming.
Elizabeth Scruggs says
Could not agree with you more!!
And yes, we do full reveals- but like you said, we are a company, with a team of people. And it takes ALL of us, sometimes hours, to pull together just one “perfect” reveal shot.
I love the slow and steady piddling and collecting that really pulls a space together over time.
And I LOVE following you Emily-
Ellen Burkhead says
Yes to all of this! “Piddling” around my house might be my favorite hobby (or a very close second after reading), and most of my instagram saves are of “small moments” (bookshelf styling, vignettes and the like). I’m more inspired by a post about repurposing a dish from your grandmothers china (or a thrift shop) as a catchall on your nightstand, or a link to a fabulous smelling candle from Walmart than I am a room reveal or renovation project. Maybe because the candle is easier to obtain than a new kitchen or bathroom, or because lighting candles makes me happy. Whatever the reason, keep doing you and your followers will continue to read and like and be inspired.
I love to see all the little changes and projects. I live in a 1600 square foot house with my husband and four kids but I am always tweaking our home. It’s what I love to do and You have been an inspiration ever since I started following your blog probably 8 years ago. Big reveals aren’t real life for lots of us; keep showing real life. (P.S. I like The Nester too).
I completely agree with you! I had to walk away from IG because it was destroying my contentment with my own home. I’m so grateful for blogs that share the small changes!
This is so relatable and real life. Thank you.
Perfect! I love it! You’re all of us, Emily! Lead the way…
Erin Andrews says
Way back around 2010 or so I was a stay at home mom with two toddlers. In the dead of a cold, dreary winter, I stumbled on your blog and several others I still follow to this day. They were a respite and encouraged me to write my own as a creative outlet. Piddling around my house and repurposing my decor was an art I learned at my mom’s hip and was a lifeline back then. There was. Ever time or money for dramatic results. Flash forward all these years later, after having a design business (and closing it) and an IG to go with it, that pressure was a lot. It sucked the joy out of what felt like a space that was a guilty pleasure. We’re almost a year out from a kitchen renovation I waited 18 years for, and it’s still evolving. Thanks for sharing this and keeping it real. I will follow you as long as you’re in this space!
Emily Clark says
That makes me so happy to hear. Thanks for reading the blog for so long!
The authenticity of your blog is why I love it. I also learn stuff here like how to look at something already owned in a new light to bring a little freshness. Insta reveals are eye candy. Too much candy is bad for you. :)
We are in our house for the long haul. I don’t have the time or budget for a complete renovation of every room, nor do I want to. What many bloggers do is just unrealistic for the average person…I visit blogs and instagram for inspiration not overhauls. What I do like to do is tweak and piddle in my rooms just like you said. I started following you when you were pregnant with your twins. Keep doing “you.”
Donna T says
Finally someone like the typical woman. We have more on our plate than that. I love to do what I call “play house”. Rearrange, buy flowers, set a pretty table for a holiday. I also find many renovation blogs make me unhappy with my home. I have followed for years and love your voice!
Caroline Glenn says
Totally agree!! Always love your space!
Julie @ Creating This Life says
I am all about slow! Slow cooking, slow traveling, and slow decorating. I love what you’ve said here.
Kelli Fox says
I agree with you so much. I guess those other huge reveal posts have their place, but for me they aren’t what *I’m* doing at this stage in my life. I’m doing so much more of small changes, or moving furniture to different rooms as kids have left the nest and grandkids join us plenty. We did renovate our master bath (finally!!) and it was fun to share that :) As you know I have enjoyed your blog and fb/ig account for a long time. So glad I found you years ago!
100% agree with you. It seems to me, with Social Media, we have gotten used to major productions done in days. I also call it instant gratification, which can be sooo expensive “gotta have this”, “gotta do that” mind sets.
I love to putter, moving things around, shopping the items in the house. It’s amazing what moving things to other areas can do! It’s free, it’s fun and I so enjoy it. I prefer the stages of remodels, the real world. Doing dishes in the bathroom sink or tub, because the kitchen being gutted. We don’t need to add stress to our lives, trying to have a reveal in two weeks. If anything since the “name not to be typed” happened, we need to slow down, putter and enjoy life.
I love, love your blog and insta – keep on doing what works for you!!!
Thank heavens for small (and NORMAL!) projects on the ‘gram. Tinkering, “shopping our own house” and other little switch ups are so much more natural. I appreciate your approach and this post so very much.
Lauren Martin says
I love this SO much!!!! Thank you for this post. I’ve been “piddling” around my house for 18 years and while it would be fun to move, I agree with what you said about how simply moving a piece of art or a new thrift store find can make us so happy with our same old house. A blog I love (in addition to yours) is Dimples & Tangles. She’s been in the same home as long as I’ve been following her and she’s constantly updating or moving around pillows, vignettes, artwork, and it’s so fun to see.
I love this so much! I have followed you for years and love that you have real world appeal. Most of us do not have the budgets for the major reveals we see constantly. I have been fortunate to be able to do some major renovations but I don’t have the budget or energy to redo every inch of my 1950s home. Seeing the little tweaks and smaller reveals makes things seem more attainable and keeps me motivated. There are lots of us who greatly appreciate the content you are creating!
Amy Marrero says
You’re awesome because you are normal like the rest of us. I had to unfollow a very popular account because all the Target trips, $2,000 antropologie chairs and everything else I can’t afford in my real life was overwhelming me and making me feel like my home wasn’t good enough when in reality my home is beautiful with all of my thrifted and unique items. I adore your home and your thoughts on making a house a home.
I think this is SPOT ON. It’s starting to give me the heebie jeebies looking at other people’s blogs / instagram and seeing how much they do, how much it costs, and how much they waste by demo’ing anything in their path because they don’t like it, or it doesn’t work for their family, or let’s face it, because they’ve been given sponsorship money. Are my clicks just paying for them to re-do their house? I feel like a lot of design “influencers” are becoming Kardashians. May be nice to look at, but at the end of the day pretty meaningless to our everyday lives. At the end of the day, YES, I totally agree with you. I want the inspiration of finding the perfect spot for something I’ve been hording for years or like you said, a piece of art that I suddenly realize looks better somewhere else. So thank you for the inspiration to do THAT.
I love your blog, your sense of humor, and how you keep it real. I love love love how your home looks like you and your family. How you have photographs and books and artwork that is all meaningful to who you and your family are, and how you make your house your home over time. That to me is real life. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my grandparents’ and parents’ homes where things didn’t change all the time. Sometimes gut jobs are needed, but that isn’t always (or even often) the case. There is so much joy and beauty and sacredness in living life in our homes slowly. Thank you for keeping that idea alive and reminding everyone of it!
As a mother of 4 who works full time but still lives design, I love this idea of small victories! I have lofty ideas for our house but never seem to find the time to get them done. Celebrating little changes gives me hope and encouragement to tackle those smaller changes if my own. Love your site!
Sandra Lashley says
I appreciate your articulating one of the drawbacks of following design as it is presented on instagram, magazines, some blogs, etc. I try to take the good (the inspiration) and leave the rest, which is often the message that it’s all or nothing or must be done in huge chunks. Of course real life is rarely like that and it does not ring true for how most of us live. Having a couple close friends who love design helps ground me too because I see that a lot of us just regularly care for our homes and add to it in small but meaningful, fun ways over time. The process can be fun and that’s lovely in its own way too. Thanks again, it needed to be said! 🙂
I thoroughly enjoy process posts, posts about moving a piece of art and showing and explaining why it might be better in place B instead of place A, the musings about where a thrifted vase/mirror/frame/stool/pine cone might be used or enjoyed. Of course, the final product is also nice to see, but the process/brainstorming posts are more useful, more educational, more realistic. Thanks for your approach!
The fact that you’re wrestling with this is just another thing to add to the list of reasons why I like you. :) Please keep sharing. I love when I see you’ve posted something new. I will even save it and look forward to when I can give it my full attention. I was inspired by you this Christmas when I put some evergreen cuttings from my yard into a blue and white ginger jar. I found a long piece of thick, red ribbon in my wrapping supplies and tied it around the neck. I placed it on the piano and I could see it from my kitchen sink (where I spend A LOT of time). I enjoyed it for weeks. Thank you for that.
Shanda Millsap says
Love your Blog. I have followed for years. I don’t mind waiting for your reveals or small changes or repeat shots. Heck, I still love when you show a picture of the powder room with the pictures on the wall☺️.
Linda Wolfe says
I agree and have followed your design blog for years. I love your eclectic style and your Christian values. My small bathroom has been painted Urban Bronze for years and I still love it! Thank you for sharing your work with us 🥰
I have been following you for years and agree 1000%! The small moments need to be noticed and celebrated – including finally tacking that corner of the house that never felt quite right — and now it does. I am all in for this kind of content, which is inspiring and doable for all of us.
YES! THIS. 100000%. The reality is most of us do not decorate like that, and it’s so discouraging to be constantly fed this idea that if you’re not completely renovating every corner of your house, you’re doing something wrong. I love the small tweaks and changes and letting things organically find their place in your home. Thank you for honoring “slow” design.