Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can redecorating help with the blues?

"Caribbean Conchs" photograph by Etsy artist SherriStJames

If you've ever worked in a gray cubicle or under lots of harsh fluorescent lights, you'll probably agree with me that your surroundings can definitely have an effect on your mood. Why do we feel so much better when we go on vacation in the great outdoors? Why do sunny days (especially in winter) seem to lift our spirits? Why do we consider islands in the Caribbean to be paradise? I believe this is because our environment is vitally important to our emotions.



Often the roots of depression are so complex - I won't to pretend that it can be fixed by decorating. But, I have a few friends that have struggled with depression (heck - we've all felt pretty lowsy at different times of our lives!). I can often see clutter, disorganization, and a lack of...well, the space they live in every single day. Often this is an outward symptom of their inner turmoil. But sometimes I think it can also be a contributing factor to the blues.



One friend of mine lives in a place where there are few windows. Only one, in her daughter's room, receives any sunlight. The rest are surrounded by a heavily wooded area, which means very little daylight is able to come in the house. Add to this a situation where they have too much stuff in too small a space, and it's easy for the house to feel out of control. She usually feels like getting out of the house, rather than considering the home her refuge. She struggles with contentment in her home, and I think that some of these issues play a part in her discontent.


I am not a believer in the mystic principles of feng-shui. However, I do agree that there is a real art to cozy furniture placement, artwork and accessories placement that makes sense, and good lighting; and depending on how these things are done, they can either elicit positive or negative emotions within you.



This is why I love doing what I do; often I'm able to lift my client's spirits simply by rearranging their furniture and de-cluttering. They didn't know what was wrong before, just that something was; and by changing things around, their spirits were lifted in a way they didn't think was possible.



I'm not just trying to blow my own horn here, people. These are really things that you can do on your own. Try to look at your space with an objective eye, and ask yourself these questions:
  • Are there areas of clutter that you've gotten so accustomed to that you don't even notice them anymore?

  • Does your room feel particularly dark at certain times of the day (or all times)?
    Do you have artwork or photos on your walls that you love...or are they just things that fill the space?

  • When you enter the room, is there furniture blocking your path that you need to walk around?

  • Are you displaying items out of a sense of obligation (i.e. they were a gift or inheritance) but they are not functional or beautiful to you?


If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, go back and take a second look, and ask yourself just a few more questions:

  • Is there any way you can cut down on the pile of clutter? Go through the pile and figure out what you can donate, what you can throw away, and what you need to keep. Then, figure out a cute solution (baskets, boxes, etc.) for the stuff you have to keep, and store it out of sight.

  • If your room feels dark, can you switch out your curtains to a lighter version? Do you have a valance that is blocking daylight that you could remove or hang higher (to block less daylight)? Do you have lamps that you could repurpose from other rooms to place in every available corner of the dark room? Could you change your paint color to something a little more cheerful, like a light butter yellow, or an apple green, or a light blue?

  • Furniture that blocks your natural traffic flow is a no-no, in my book. Can you think of an alternate arrangement where furniture no longer blocks the entry to your room?

  • Can you purchase or re-purpose artwork or photos that you love, and display those instead of the pieces that you feel obligated to display? Pay attention to the emotion that art brings out in you - don't just try to follow decorating rules - buy artwork that you love and elicits positive emotions in you. It might be worth saving up a few extra dollars to invest in a piece of artwork that makes you feel happy or peaceful (or both).

I really do believe these little things can make a big difference in a person's quality of life. Whether you're singin' the blues, or just need a change for the better...ask yourself a few questions and then get busy making things just a little more lovely.

Thanks for humoring me as I stand on my little decorating soap box. :-)

**Images: all before-and-after redesign photos are property of Nesting Instincts

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

a tidbit...another custom invitation

Here's a custom invitation I did for a friend who hosted a large baby shower. (Thanks to my rather sad little camera, and equally sad photography skills, you can hardly see it. Oops.) I also helped her out by purchasing the paper goods and some decorative accessories for the event, but I don't have pics of any of that yet. However, it was fun because we decided against the typical pastel pinks and did fuschia, lime green and orange. It was a really fun and lively color scheme, especially for a summer shower. There was a bit of a Hawaiian feel to the flowers and color scheme (but NOT luau!). Too, too fun...

update on Audrey

Thanks for your kind and caring comments about little Audrey, as well as those of you who offered to remember her in your prayers. She is in the midst of a grueling chemotherapy schedule, and her parents have been told that as bad as things have been for Audrey, they are bound to only get worse over the next month. So this is such a critical time in the life of their family. If you are a friend or family member, and would like the link to the online journal that has been set up for Audrey, please email me at courtneyg [at] and I'd be happy to send you the information. (If you have no idea who Audrey is, read this post. I also featured Audrey's cute bedroom here, several months ago.) Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers, friends!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

a request

So, last week I promised to show you pictures today from the Antique Show I went to while in Astoria. Yes, I went to the show...and took lots of pics...but I had to use my mom's camera (since I forgot mine! smooth) and haven't gotten them off her camera to my computer yet. SO, I'm hoping to have the pics for you tomorrow. Sorry about that! I have to admit that the event was smaller than I was hoping for, and I DIDN'T BUY ANYTHING (can you believe it?) but I still took some fun pics.

So for today, on an entirely different note (this is not something I usually use this blog for, but...I think you'll understand). The night before we left for the beach I got a call with some tough news. My good friend Lauree has a daughter, Audrey, who's just a little bit older than my daughter. (Audrey just turned four a few months ago.) In fact, Audrey and my daughter are good friends who have a lot in common personality-wise. They've had several playdates this year and have attended each other's birthday parties, and her parents and I are always struck by how similar they are. Anyway, apparently little Audrey was just diagnosed with leukemia.

Now, I don't know a lot of details, because I've been out of town since Thursday and haven't received any updates; so I don't know what kind of leukemia it is, or what the plan of treatment may be. I only know that my good friend is living a nightmare right now, and her sweet, tiny daughter - so like my own - is facing a horrendous disease.

If you are a praying person - or even if you're not - would you consider praying for Audrey? So many of you readers are moms yourselves, and I'm sure you can imagine what kinds of emotions news like this would bring. Little Audrey has an amazing family and extended family, and I know she will be so supported and loved during the following months and years to come. But...leukemia. The word puts dread in my heart. I'll be praying for comfort and peace for her parents, grandparents, and for little Audrey as well. I'll also be praying for wisdom for her doctors up at Doernbecher's Children's Hospital. And especially for strength for her mommy.

**Edited to add: I did find out that Audrey has a more treatable type of leukemia. She started chemotherapy immediately upon receiving the diagnosis, and will most likely lose her hair within the next three weeks. And, even worse...this will most likely be a brutal chemotherapy treatment process that will last for the next two years. From what I understand, this all went down in the course of one day - last Wednesday. It's just heartwrenching. One day you take your child into the doctor for some random symptoms...the next, you've entered the cancer ward at the leading children's hospital in your state. How shocking is that for a parent?**

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beach-Inspired Fabulous Finds Part II

More beach-inspired fabulous finds today...these are colorful and retro-ish...playful and fun...enjoy!

I love the vintage Hawaiian look of these pillows...they'd be so fun in a sunroom or bedroom for the summer time. One-of-a-kind pillows made by Paniolo in Hood River, Oregon.

Red Crab Notecards, set of 3

Red crab notecards. Why not? They're cute, whimsical, and simple...and make me smile. The essence of summertime and the beach. These are also by Pink Bathtub Designs (I featured their collage yesterday).

Chicago vintage travel poster pendant necklace
This pendant has a different vintage Chicago travel poster on each side. Just look at those colors! Look at the fabulous image! How fun is this? By ArtsNcharms.

Infant Gift Set with crabs

Let's all "ooh" and "ahh" together, shall we? Look at the sweet crab appliques on this set! Any baby would be off to the beach in style in this cutie. By Bebebrent.

Nausett Beach Charm Bracelet

I have just one word for this bracelet: Yummy. And yes. A bracelet can be described as yummy. Thanks for asking. By new Etsy shop Hillborne.

I'll see you all on Monday, when I'll (hopefully) have lots of pics to share from my Antiquing Adventures in Astoria! Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beach-Inspired Fabulous Finds Part I

I am never more inspired than when I am at the beach...or thinking about the beach...or even decorating as if I lived at the beach! Since I am at the beach right now (woohoo!) I thought I'd have a couple of days of Fabulous Finds that are inspired by the ocean. So, if you're at home or work...let's just pretend we're all on vacation in a fabulous beach house, shall we? And we have the difficult task of having to decorate said beach house...hmmm...a tough job...but someone's gotta do it. Guess I'll volunteer!

I really love all the different colors in this collage by Pink Bathtub Designs. It's a very fresh take on the whole idea of the beach, this one specifically represents California (I think...correct me if I'm wrong?). how cheerful it is.

You know I'm always a sucker for a pretty necklace...especially one that's a little chunky. I love all the aqua beads on this - they really do remind me of the ocean (though not so much the ocean here in Oregon...maybe a little more down south from here!). By JMGJewelry Design.

Ocean Waves Original Painting by Kerri King

I never get tired of seascapes, and this one by Kerri King is just lovely. I love the look of the simple, bold strokes she uses. You need to browse the rest of her shop because she does some really neat still lifes and other ocean scenes as well...and they are all original oil paintings with reasonable prices.

tealight bench from reclaimed barnwood

I like the rustic look of these....perfect for a beach house, or anywhere you'd like to bring some of the natural outdoorsy look inside. From Paradise Hill Designs.

Check back tomorrow for "Part II" of my fabulous beach-inspired finds...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

off to the beach!!!

Seagull Print by BerkleyIllustration

I'm headed to the beach tomorrow, for a long-awaited little vacation with my family and parents. Perhaps I'll run into this guy? This gentleman seagull really brings a smile to my face. On Etsy by berkleyillustration. Check out all their other "serious" animal portraits as well...they remind me just a little of Amber Alexander's popular work (she was my Artist of the Month recently).

One of the things I'll be doing is attending an Antiques & Collectibles fair at Astoria, sponsored by Farmhouse Funk, that great antiques store I mentioned here. I'm planning to take lots of pics so I can report back all the wonderful-ness. PLEASE let it not rain!!

Anyway, I'm also setting up a few posts while I'm gone, so be sure to check back each day this week!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LAST baby shower post...REALLY...

Okay...I PROMISE this is the last post about baby showers for a while...yikes! people just keep having babies! It's a good thing, really, it is!

But I thought I'd finally show you the invite I created for this shower. You all were so gracious and complimentary about the orange/blue/brown's the final detail...or rather the first detail...a custom-created invite that was inspired by the bedding chosen for the baby boy on the way...

crib bedding from Fawn + Forest
okay, people, NO MORE SHOWERS all right? well, at least, not until September. :-) this girl's gotta take a break from the hip and happenin' shower scene. BABY shower scene, I mean (lest there be any confusion about what I just typed.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baby Boy Shower - celebrating with rubber duckies

Here are the invitations I created for the baby shower this last weekend. I decided a palette of turquoise and yellow...with rubber duckies as the star, of course...would be cute for this intimate dinner party/baby shower for my friend Holly's baby boy on the way.

Each place setting had a placemat of scrapbook paper, layered with a paper napkin in turqoise. The scrapbook papers had little rubber duckies on them...they were so cute. Anyway, I also wrapped the silverware in turqoise napkins and coordinating paper napkin rings.

Each person had a little favor bag, filled with chocolates and crinkle-cut shredded paper (in the color palette of the party, but of course!). Each was labeled with a round sticker that said, "Anticipating a Sweet Arrival! Holly's Baby Shower, 07.19.08". (From my favorite online paper supply store, The Paper Source.)

I had one large blue rubber ducky in a vase of water in the center of the table, followed by a parade of yellow rubber duckies down the table.

I had originally planned to put several vases in the center, with blue water and rubber duckies in each, but it turns out my rubber duckies were so cheap that they didn't float upright! Since I thought the look of dead duckies wasn't a very festive one, I had to go with Plan B. But I think it worked out okay!

Conratulations to Holly and Dan in advance! Can't wait to meet your little guy next month!

Friday, July 18, 2008

life happens

my youngest daughter...for no particular's just an excuse to show you her photo!

Sorry happened, and I didn't get to my Friday's Fabulous Finds post today. Ah'll be back next week, better than ever! For now, if you'd like, you could read up on past Friday's Fabulous Finds. Or you may want to check out my Artist of the Month interview if you missed it this week. And, it's always fun to peruse some juicy before-and-after shots of interior redesigns. I'll be back on Monday with yet ANOTHER baby shower update!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

small dining room redesigned

For this redesign, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking...what fun...and only took an hour or so for this small dining room!


AFTER... the pics on the wall are now at eye level and no longer compete with the chandelier...





the table is no longer angled, so the space flows a little better...

...blank wall except for the thermostat...


cute little arrangement...but where's the thermostat? let's look closer...

you guessed it! behind the vase on the red shelf!! I was particularly proud of that little cover-up :-)

If you enjoyed these pics and would like to see some more of my redesigns, read here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Artist of the Month - KA Compson

I shared in my July issue of my e-zine, Feather Your Nest, that this July I've selected a fabulous photographer to highlight and interview as my Artist of the Month. KA Compson is a newcomer to Etsy, and, I have to say, a woman after my own heart! I'm from the Pacific Northwest myself and have quite a soft spot for the UK. I'm always fascinated by people who have followed their hearts, taken hold of their talents (or allowed themselves to be taken hold of BY their talents) and have pursued a creative career. She travels extensively and photographs all along the way, so you can travel vicariously through her and her lens. For me, there is such a sense of peace and serenity in each of her photographs - and to top it all off, she's a generous person with a humble spirit. (We've been corresponding since I featured her work in this Friday's Fabulous Finds post, so I know this from experience.) Here is my in-depth interview with her. You can find each of the photographs here in her Etsy shop.

KA, one of the things I love about your photography is that it takes something that might be quite commonplace and finds the beauty in that one object, elevating it to something special. I think of the photo you took of the car in the junkyard – "Triumph". I have to admit that if I had seen that car in person, I probably wouldn't have given it a second look. But I've fallen in love with that photo, because it manages to turn a little corner of that old car into art that is vibrant, alive, and (I dare say) even has a personality. When do you feel most inspired? Do you have favorite subjects to photograph? Things that frequently inspire you?

I haven't had a very conventional life and I think because of that, I see a lot of the ordinary as more than it is- because some of the craziest scenes were the backdrop for my childhood- but that's a whole other fun story. Also, I don't want it to sound like I'm implying some sort of break with reality, but I rarely walk down the street without an ordinary scene turning into something more for me. A lot (if not all) of my photography captures the ordinary. There is something very nostalgic and precious in the common life- and the impermanence of life in general. My favorite subjects tend to be the ordinary.... pastoral scenes, food, animals- nature in general- but from a different angle. One of my favorite ways of shooting is from the bottom up- what I mean is I like to lay down on the ground and shoot a flower for instance from the bottom up. I also am drawn to nature and all things nature, big and small!

One of the things that intrigues me most about you is what you shared in your Etsy profile. You said, "The story starts like this... Two years ago I quit my job in the Pacific Northwest, sold my home and everything I owned (except the dog- he came with) and set off for Kansas to see about a boy. Why? To try something new- to follow the whispers of a promising new adventure. Where did all of this eventually take me? The United Kingdom! I've since started following my creative dream to become an artist, children's illustrator, graphic designer and entrepreneur." Being a Pacific Northwest native myself, but having a real soft spot for the UK, I feel I can identify with you just a little bit. I also admire you for taking the leap. Two years is a relatively short time to go from a stable job in the Pacific Northwest to living in the United Kingdom, where you frequently travel and are exercising your talents through a number of artistic and entrepreneurial pursuits. In addition to your gorgeous photography, can you share with us some of your other talents and interests? What are some of your goals in these areas?

Is it a short time? :-) I really live my life at warp speed. It drives some people nuts, but I don't think I know any other way- I've never been able to sit still. Other things I like to do are play the guitar and flute and I also paint. Gardening and natural pursuits in general are a big part of my life. My folks always had a garden growing up and so that has always sort of stuck with me. I'm also an avid outdoors person. Before leaving the PNW, I used to spend a lot of time road cycling, kayaking, boxing and mountaineering. I'm still doing those things, but on a much smaller scale! Since leaving the HMO I worked for, I've found a renewed sense of self and purpose. Although I spent a lot of time in grad school trying to have that career, going back to artistic pursuits is the only suit I want to ever put on again. I've been really blessed to have the support to go after this dream. I'll graduate from the Art Institute in the summer with my diploma in graphic design but right now I've launched a global sketchbook project called Happy Feats ( that will travel the world for a year with various artists contributing. I hope to have this published at some point. There are a few other business ventures in the works, but those are secret right now! :-)

You clearly love to travel, as I've noticed that so many of your photographs are shot on location in various countries in Europe. Has there been a favorite destination for you? What about it made you love it?

It's really hard to have a favorite- I've travelled my entire life and picking one out is pretty rough. I'd have to say that I love, love, love the people of Turkey, the food of Wales and the spirit of Poland. I equally love the people of the Middle East, the Med and I adore the traditions of Asian culture. I've got to say, that in my life of traveling, one thing is certain- the people make the place. The spirit is what makes the adventure for me. I was recently in Barcelona during the festival of San Juan and for the Spanish v. Italy soccer game... and I've never seen more passion manifested through fireworks 'til 3am! It was brilliant! My next travels will hopefully be taking me to Scandinavia, Russia, and North Africa. Before I leave England, I'd also love to visit Asia... who am I kidding. I pretty much want to see the entire world!

Ely Cathedral

KA, can you give us a glimpse into your home life? How do you decorate? I know you are LOVING your English garden right now…can we see pics, please? And do you display any of your own artwork at home, or just that of others?

The garden and everything related to it are my favorite. We recently planted climbing roses this year and that was a hoot! We have also planted "trees of love" around the house. It's kind of a silly thing my fiance Brian and I do- we plant trees of love. Cheesy, sure. But it makes us smile when we drive up to the house.

We also love doing "flower checks" after our nightly walks with our dog Ari. The funny thing about the UK is that random things will show up and grow around here and it can actually change from one day to the next.

As for our house... the English homes are soooo small compared to the ones we have in the states, so we now have to be super selective about what we put into it.

The front of KA's house in England

As for the house itself, I'll share some pictures! It's the funniest little house.... Our home life is very busy, unconventional and very laid back.


Brian can sometimes have a strange work schedule, so we tend to just roll with whatever comes next. Our decor definitely reflects this! I sometimes think we live like two very eccentric professors in a very cluttered closet! We might need Nesting Instincts to help us with our feathering!


favorite kitchen antique

When I look at your photos, I often get a real feeling of serenity and peace. That's important to me, because with my busy life I like to create an atmosphere of serenity in my home through decorating. (Not cleaning though. That's going too far.) I'm anxiously awaiting your Poppiescape photo in my mailbox, because there are many days where I'll want to look at it and pretend I'm there…with nothing around but the grass, the flowers, and the sky. Do you try to achieve a sense of peace in your photography, or do you just photograph what you like, and that happens to come through?

Serenity is a sort of an unconscious objective in my art. I think I am drawn to it because I appreciate and love the simplicity of the country and of nature and natural things. I have always had a very strong and deep connection to the mountains and the forest. During my undergrad years I would often come home on weekends to my parent's home near the Blue Mountains of SE Washington State just to spend the weekend camping out alone with my dog. There is more of a communal and spiritual element I feel that draws me to those places. I find that I also love to photograph old things and broken things and capturing the impermanence of things in general. For example, a photograph I took called Sam and Charlie, is a story of an old mini cooper I met in the junkyard. Someone used to love that car. I think it serves as a reminder to me to live today and to say I love you often to those I do love. Even people I don't know. I try to tell them I love them too. Does that make sense?

So what about the boy? Is he still in the picture or not? (I hesitate to ask…it seems rude…but I'm dying of curiosity…so my curiosity got the better of my politeness!)

Ahhh... well that is my most favorite story of all to tell. The boy is definitely in the picture and we're now engaged to be married. I can honestly say, that Brian is the absolute love of my life and everything tastes, smells and looks better now that he's in my life. Brian is a pilot in the Air Force and was stationed in Kansas when we started dating. We'd been friends for a few years before and I wasn't thinking of a romantic anything between us. He had other ideas and soon flowers were showing up on my doorstep often! We had a few dates, a few visits and dated briefly before breaking it off because I didn't want to give up my life in Portland and everything I'd worked so hard for.
KA & Brian

Then, one day, a package arrived on my doorstep. Brian had just deployed to the desert but before he left, he sent this box to me. Inside were mementos of places he'd visited that were part of my childhood- stories I'd told him of my travels that paralleled places the military sent him. It was the most loving filled box I'd ever seen. I fell to the ground when I read the card inside and just felt my heart crushing. I may have let the most wonderful man slip through my fingers and I was in an absolute panic! I immediately sat down at my computer to send him an email asking him if he was serious about the lovely things he'd written in a card. He called me the next chance he got. The next morning, I just knew. Call me crazy- but I had to get the heck out of Portland and beat feet to Kansas! I marched into work and gave my two weeks, put my house on the market and had a major garage sale! I think everyone thought I'd lost it. But it was the most natural and right thing for me to do. I took my three favorite antiques in a trailer hitched to my car, the dog and a few other things and moved to Kansas a month later. I was there to pick him up at his plane when he landed from his deployment. Three months later, the military sent him to live in England I went too! The rest, is history in the making. We were engaged a year later. Brian proposed to me on the Mariensbrucke bridge overlooking Neuschwanstein Castle in Garmisch, Germany. I'll send you a picture of us too!

And lastly, where can people view your work, either online or in person?

You can find my work at: , and at The last is my personal website where I will soon be launching my professional portfolio.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, KA!

Are you kidding me? I'd like to give a HUGE hug and many,many, many thanks to Nesting Instincts for asking me to be a part of this. It's always a very humbling and jaw dropping experience for me when someone expresses appreciation or fondness for my work. I wish you the absolute very best.