Decorating with Whitney English

I talked about my work with Whitney English in a blog post here.  This past weekend I made a quick trip to OKC to see her and work on her home again.  When I say quick, it was quick, I was literally only there 30 hours, but as two busy mamas used to being on a tight schedule we were able to put our heads together and talk non stop about fabric, rugs and pillows, pillows, pillows.


Out to dinner at Ludivine on Sat night in OKC..yum! And I must say she has cutest family on the planet!


And they were so good the entire time I was there.  The Kolb family may not be perfect Whitney will tell you but they are pretty darn special to me and I enjoyed being in their nest for even a short time. One of my favorite things Whitney has accomplished in the past year we have been working together is painting her exterior brick, adding the perfect color handmade shutters for charm and painting her fireplace brick..all huge, you can see snapshots of it all below and if you want to follow more of our decorating adventures look for #hollyhelpswhitneydecorate on Instagram! And these are just random instagram shots of Whitney’s progress over the past year documented on pinterest and or phone pics from this weekend…Once complete, we will have full room shots to share and I can not wait for that time. But it does take time, don’t be fooled by HGTV, real life decorating with budgets and kids and  a business and life does take time.  And that is okay, I have watched Whitney enjoy the process and its been a delight!


Whitney and I pictured above last Spring at a blogging conference. Ok so, enough gushing I will let Whitney share in her own words below . . .

Hi, I’m Whitney English. I’m a friend and client of Holly Mathis. I say friend AND client because when you let someone into your home, that friendship thing happens fast. Decorators have to be friends because they see your piles of laundry, your corners of junk, your clutter and your unfinished projects, and they have to love you anyway. That’s what Holly does for me.

I use Holly’s design coaching services. I don’t think she really calls it coaching, but that’s what it seems like it is in my head. I’m not a full-project client, partly because I think it’s fun to just get a little feedback and then run with a lot of her ideas. Last January, Holly made a trip up to Oklahoma to see our house. The Christmas tree was still up, and I literally had no money to spend. I think she might have thought I was a little bit crazy. But my mom is a savvy shopper and has a knack for finding amazing deals, and I just wanted to be educated on the direction I needed to go. That’s where Holly amazingly stepped in.


I like Holly’s style for several reasons. First of all, it’s comfortable. As much as I love cute little antique French chairs, my husband isn’t a huge fan, and Holly’s style can work both ways. She understands that husbands want a big leather chair, and isn’t afraid to tell me to tone it down on the French chairs. Or paint something, like brick, lots of brick has been painted!


The second reason that I like Holly’s style is that it’s a fresh version of cottage style. She’s always making suggestions that feel modern, and mix well with my chippy paint pieces. Her suggestions seem to lead me to a “lived in” feeling in rooms, and I like that she recommends a balance of finishes and textures, making a room seem like it’s been curated over time. It’s great for families.


Another reason I love Holly’s design advice is because it’s honest. She was at my house just last weekend, and I asked her what had to go. In her sweet, loving, voice, she told me that a chair in my living room was just “grandma”, and dirty, and needed to be reupholstered something awful. She also told me I needed to organize. There is love in her truth, and I appreciate that.
Several friends have asked me why I use Holly, even though I have a design background. And I have several reasons for that as well. First of all, even designers need third-party perspective, especially when it comes to decorating for families. Sometimes husbands and wives can get into arguments about whether you keep the leather chair or toss it, and a decorator’s vote can help break the tie. Secondly, the more expertise you can add to a design project, the more depth it has. I use this principle on branding projects, and wholeheartedly believe that a good brand needs a team of designers to polish it. Holly is on my home decorating team. Thirdly, sometimes you have to make a split second decision, and you can freeze. I’ve texted Holly from garage sales, where I’m trying to decide whether to spend $20 on a nightstand covered in chippy paint. Fourthly, decorators stay up-to-date on design resources. Holly is constantly scouring all the shelter mags and the home catalogs, so she much more educated on what is available at what price, and how I can create an up-to-date look on a budget. Sometimes just paint.
My house is lived-in, with three kiddos, so getting every room to look perfect is always going to be challenging, but I’m so grateful to Holly for her ideas and guidance.


Gather Around The Table

I am so excited to be a part of the Gather Around The Table campaign being sponsored by West Elm.  They have asked bloggers to talk about their traditions and favorite things about the holidays and share how they incoprorate some of their products with those traditions and ideas. I visited the West Elm Market store in Brooklyn in the Spring and was so impressed with the store and products.


In South Texas, we often have warm weather off and on throughout the fall so dining on our porch is a wonderful tradition this time of year.


We are finally getting a break from the heat down here and its a great time for my family to enjoy this space in our home.


I also love using heirloom pumpkins in my fall decorating every year as well as my favorite Spode dishes. And every fall and winter we love to gather items from our family land for decorations whether its leaves, Christmas trees or berries.  I love your using things from nature in our decorations and going out in the nice weather to hunt for the best of nature’s bounty. My hubs might have even snapped photo of me driving our “mule” to gather leaves for this project.  Honestly, not something I do too often (are you shocked); Maybe I will share it on the next post or instagram, but for now let’s keep moving with the good stuff;


So along with the leaves and pumpkins, I decided to use Shanna Murray plates from the West Elm collection with my Spode plates.  I like the idea of using something traditional, something we always use, with a fresh new accent from a more modern store like West Elm and West Elm Market.  In case you don’t know, West Elm is the hip cousin of Pottery Barn; Or at least that is how I see it…their products are bit younger and more modern…but they mix well with many things. AND I love that they support and feature a lot of etsy artists including Shanna Murray. I was so pleased to see these Shanna Murray plates (and coasters) in their collection and her cute teal towel in the West Elm Market.  I have been following her work for years!


The napkins are also from West Elm’s fall collection, I love the red stitching. My mom often used cloth napkins when I was growing up and I love doing the same.  Not every night I admit but often.  And these have a casual enough feel they work with my pine table.


 Speaking of pine tables, I have rustic farmhouse tables both outside and in our dining room.  I love the patina and finish of the wood so I rarely if ever use tablecloths or even runners, these plaid blankets from the Brown Shed worked great to add some warmth to this table but not totally cover my beloved pine.


These old tables are a part of our family traditions as well as daily life. I love that my kids are using old items daily and are engraining a sense of history into their “growing up”memories and traditions.


I am also adore how the Shanna Murry plates and West Elm napkins are working with my other fall decorations I already had like my burlap banners and also my new Lindsay Letters canvas. I love to change it all a bit each time so it’s great it all mixes well.


 My new canvas is really for Christmas, its a verse from Silent Night, but I think words are perfect for fall and Thanksgiving too..being grateful for those we love and gather with to count our blessing and remember what is truly important. It used to annoy me how the seasons mingled this time of year.  More and more I am okay with it as I understand the joys of fall and gratefulness and how that all CAN and SHOULD mingle with the coming celebrations that are the core of our faith and our family.


 I will be back to share a few more of the fall touches on the porch…and later in season I will share another festive table setting.


 Thanks again to West Elm for sponsoring today’s discussion on fall decor and traditions.  What is your  favorite tradition or thing to use in decorating this time of year?

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