The Backdrop of our Lives

I would never dare to call myself an artist, at least not in the traditional sense. While I have taken classes using almost all mediums of art over the years, preferring some more than others, I never truly excelled at any of them. I have always found it difficult to dedicate myself fully to any one thing or put in the time it would take to become truly talented at something. I think my problem lies in the fact that I love too many things too much! Or I’m just lazy. (But let’s hope that’s not it). I used to envy the painter who could sit outside and paint the scene before him with such skill and precision, or the photographer who could beautifully capture the perfect moment in one single click. But then I realized that my talent lied elsewhere- in the appreciation of art and all things beautiful, and in the ability to incorporate beautiful things into my everyday life.

The number one way that our family likes to reflect who we are and what we love is in our home. People often compliment us on our home, saying it feels cozy and relaxing, and ask where we shop. But it’s not about where you shop or how much you have to spend- it’s about HOW you shop and how you choose the objects that will fill the backdrop of your life.

A couple rules that we like to live by:

1. If you want to create a feeling of coziness, a home that is lived in, don’t buy all the same pieces of art, furniture, or other objects from the same store. You do not want your home to look like you walked into a showroom and said, “This looks good, I’ll take it!” It should look like you found pieces you loved over time, taking the time to carefully select each one (even if that is not really the case).

2. Layers. Never line trinkets or picture frames up neatly in a perfect row- things should be stacked or layered slightly in front of other things, again, to make it feel as though they were found and placed there over time. Be sure, however, to avoid getting too cluttered. A grouping of 3 or 5 things in any given space should be plenty.


My very handy and talented dad put these built-ins in our kitchen (love them!) I adore every one of the objects that are displayed on them- they are beautiful and functional. Glass objects balance with turquoise and cream-colored ceramic ones. Smaller objects are layered in front of larger ones, such as photographs.

3. Find a balance between perfect and imperfect. I like things to look slightly haphazard, but also neat and balanced. The way to accomplish this is by choosing a variety of different objects that also have something in common, such as color, texture, or style.


In our master bedroom, we created a collage of wall art. Many of the pieces were painted by our friend Chris Dotson, and even though the paintings are different sizes and in very different styles of frames, the colors in the paintings tie them together and help them to balance each other out.

When decorating our nursery, we wanted Penny’s room to feel whimsical and childlike while still being a part of our home and reflecting the design style that we already have. From the moment we found out about her pending arrival, we have been scouring our favorite stores, art shows, websites, and our talented painter friend Chris’ artwork for pieces that we thought might work in her nursery. Following the same principals I have already mentioned, we found a variety of pieces from many different sources that worked together because of color, texture, or style.

And so, here is another sneak peek of the nursery! Or at least the many types of artwork found in the nursery.


This is a print of a girl with a bird’s nest in her hair, done by our sister in law, Kristin Barr. I love how playful the picture is, and it goes perfectly with our woodland theme!


This is an illustration taken from an antique children’s book, which we ordered on and then framed.


This is an image of a cuckoo clock, created with the very old technique of block printing. We found it at the Charleston Farmer’s Market a couple of weeks ago, and loved how unique it was. We also found the recycled wood frame at the same place, sold by another vendor a couple of tents down.


Another block print, this time of a fox, and in the same metal frame as the one used for the bird’s nest print. Using the same frames around the room also helps to create a feeling of cohesion.


My sister Amanda drew this sketch of an owl on a page from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (so cool!) and I created a small vignette by layering the sketch in front of a painting of trees and a ceramic owl. Objects in odd numbers, like 3s or 5s, tend to look more pleasing to the eye.


This modern take on a cuckoo clock was another purchase from


Who says you can only put frames around artwork and photographs? Because of the bold pattern of the wallpaper, we wanted to put something on the wall that would make a statement without competing with the wallpaper. We chose a papier mache stag from Restoration Hardware, and put an ornate frame around it.

Kevin and I chose each piece with love and care, in the hopes that our daughter will be comforted and inspired by the setting of her childhood.

We (and Penny) are very lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who are capable of creating such beauty in their artwork. You can find out more about each of them below.

Chris Dotson

Amanda Gerling

Kristin Barr sells her artwork on under Rocket Girl Design.


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