How Goodwill + Anthro made my office pretty

A week or so ago, we did a little walk-through of my newly updated office...today I thought I'd go around and show you where things came from to show you that amazing style doesn't have to cost a TON of money!

Note: we shopped my house when redoing this room...VERY little is newly purchased! I encourage you to shop your house before buying new things. We have so much that can be used in fresh ways, right?!

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If you need a reminder of how the room looked before my friend Leah (from The Light Filled Home) worked her magic, head over here.

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Are you a fan of Goodwill? 'Cuz I sure am...it's such a treasure-trove of fun! Did you know you can be a member and get things for even cheaper? Anyway, with my "member discount" I got this chair for $.99 when they were doing a big sale.

I'd had it by our fireplace and was most recently in Laith's room because he wanted a cozy place to read near his bookcase. We switched out my old chair with this one (so my little bookworm still had a place to read) and it was a win-win!

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I wanted loads of plants everywhere and when you enter the room, there are several right at your feet. We used this fun gold plant stand that I've used as a bookshelf for the past decade and mixed in both real and faux plants. We had tried a real one here but when I watered it, it drenched all my books (I nearly cried) so it was replaced with the faux one so I wouldn't ruin any more books.

PS see my book on the stack?! Eeeeeeeee! Happy dance! Go order it here!! 

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The plant baskets in the office are from all over. The grey and white one above is actually a trash can I found at HomeGoods. The woven one is from Ikea.

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I've seen this light allllll over instagram and have been completely obsessed. I told my friend Leah (who was helping me with the room), that we had to somehow work it into the design.

Because one can never have too many flowers, I connected these pretty crepe paper ones from Amaranthus and I'm just over the moon about it! As you can see, my light isn't even connected yet (eye roll), haha. But when this baby has light, she's gonna be perfection.

Our little neighborhood has a Facebook Garage Sale page and I snagged this cute little crate from it a year or so ago for $3.00. It's been in our Upper Room (aka TV room above the garage) but is even better here, holding paints and brushes.

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When this family devastation was brand new, Leah (my interior designer friend) and my best friend Kiesha dropped the loveliest care package at my front door. The gift was held in this fantastic vintage wire basket and I knew I had to use it for something fun. Another plant and more books makes the perfect little vignette.

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More books and more plants are seen on these leaning bookshelves (similar one found here) and I'm in absolute love how Leah styled them. This tiny gold + brass colander was in the clearance section at Anthropologie ages ago (similar one here). I had washi tape resting inside, but I love this even more! The faux plant is from Ikea (similar one here).

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More faux plants (from Ikea) and fun little details snagged from around the house! Both the candle and swan bottle opener are from Anthropologie's clearance section (these pretty details were purchased long ago...sorry I don't have links, but somewhat similar candle here).

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Another fun Anthropologie find is this teacup! A friend gave me several and I love having a little succulent inside! Darling, right?! Here and here are similar designs!

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I used to have fun vintage and Anthro-inspired plates displayed all over the house. Sadly though, through our (many!!) moves, most have broken. So now I have plate holders without any plates, haha. Leah had the brilliant idea to put my Abide sign on one. I just love it here! It was a gift from some ladies I spoke at a retreat with, so sorry I don't have a link. 

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I love when things are used in an unconventional way. See those brass candlesticks (from Goodwill) up top, left? They've been turned upside down and now hold sprigs from a plant. So fun.

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Heading over to the Studio area of my office, I just want to smile. Sighhhhh...I'm so exited to have started painting again.

And those watercolor decals (!!!!!!!) aren't they just SO FUN?! Head over to Urban Walls for all their styles. These decals, the woven pendant above my desk, and some plants are really the only things that are new. Everything else was shopped from around the house!

That dresser? $20 at Goodwill. The lamp is about 20 years old, crazily enough, and is handed down from my mom when they moved (the shade is Target). The big gold frame is from a garage sale (about 15 years ago).

We needed a pop of color and texture, so Leah hung this fun rug hanging over the door is from World Market (these are similar). It had previously been in the Upper Room, atop a side table.

An old (broken) frame from Hobby Lobby and a cream pitcher from Goodwill filled with carnations, adds whimsy to the top of the dresser that I use to hide gift wrap, paper, and odds-and-ends. 

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This great bin is from Ikea and is the perfect place to hold canvases and watercolor paper. it's surprisingly rigid and strong, though the woven texture makes it feel a bit breezy.

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I am so head-over-heels for these air plants!! I found the glass globes in Target's Dollar Section last year but the rocks and air plants are available there right now (near the seeds + summer furniture)!

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Aren't they so cute hanging in the window? So simple and pretty.

Btw, this is the backside of my desk. I love how there is space for the kids to sit and face me. Because it's set up this way, little Elsabet sat in the mound of pillows and was able to paint while I worked at my computer the other day.

The pillows in the window are from all over and none are new so sorry I don't have links to share. But they're all from Target, Ikea, and HomeGoods!

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I loved having her so close while I worked...though she totally made such a mess. Eek.

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More stuff on my desk that makes me smile. I love that Leah used my old (still messy!!) paint palate for beneath my pens and such. So creative!! And this pretty glass pitcher is also from Goodwill...or was it a garage sale...??

I love the easel that holds our family portrait from this shop (similar easel here, though I've seen mine at Walmart lately). That gorgeous paper flower is from Katya Paperie.

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I'm a total book nerd. This collection of Bibles is a perfect base for this little vignette. The coral one is actually the box my She Reads Truth Bible came in. So though my actual Bible is downstairs where I do my morning devotions, this pretty box stays up here!

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I'm also a bit obsessed with my calendar from Lindsay Letters. Y'all...it's amazing. You need one. They come in all sorts of sizes and frames. Check them out!!!

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My desk, file cabinet, and trash can are all from Ikea...I've had the desk and cabinet for years and am still so in love with it!

This brightly colored rug used to be in another room, too. I purchased it years ago during RugsUSA's 85% off sale. This is totally not sponsored by them...I'm just telling you as a public service announcement...go get on their mailing list. This rug was originally $1,500 and I got it for $450 + free shipping (that's even more than 85% off!!!).

Your floors can thank me later.

Am I missing anything? Are there any items you'd like to find out where I found? Let me know!!

Take Joy,

Teresa

My new office!!!! (before + afters)

I am SO crazy excited to share some before and after photos of my office today. It's a weird space because it's actually a walk-through that takes you from the landing at the top of the stairs, into our Upper Room (or rec room) over the garage.

I have no idea what the previous owners used it for, but here's what it looked like when we moved in...

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Did you know that there wasn't a stitch of white in this entire house when we moved in? Not even the doors, trim, and ceiling. I know these photos make it look white, but it was really more of a dingy-whiteish-peach color.

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Ok, ready for the after?! I know, me too...but you're gonna have to wait just a minute so I can show you the before-ish after. In other words, how I had it for three years after moving in.

As you'll see, it's certainly better, but I always felt it was missing something. It felt thrown together, it felt disjointed. For some reason, I was completely stumped on this space.

Better...but still far from the AFTER!

I spent most of my days working from the little table by the window. A friend gave me two of them when they were redoing their cabin (the rug was also a free treat from that friend). When I closed my eyes, I'd imagine it to be a bistro table on the sidewalk in Paris or something. Cheesy perhaps...but I really pretend like that. (I just ache to travel again. Sigh...someday)

I loved being next to the big window because the room gets the most glorious afternoon sun. The problem was though, it wasn't totally the right height for my chair and was too small to really spread out and work from (when I research, I have books strewn all over the place).

(photo from a Denver Style Magazine shoot last fall)

(photo from a Denver Style Magazine shoot last fall)

When my friend Leah (founder of The Light Filled Home) mentioned being willing to help me rework the space, this is what I texted her:

Basically, I want somewhere that just oozes creativity. I want clean and simple but with bold pops and a touch of boho.

I CANNOT figure out how to do boho. AT ALL. Anytime I attempt it, it looks stupid (eye roll).

BUT, I love when others pull it off...it just feels cozy and lived in.

Words to describe the space:

Playful, Clean, White yet pops of color, Creative, Full of Story
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So with that in mind, Leah told us to grab some Dove White at Home Depot and start painting while she grabbed her sharpie and started brainstorming ideas. Sweet Imani was happy to help (while we sang and danced to the Descendants soundtrack over-and-over-and-over...)

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I've learned so much from Leah during this process...check out how she decides where to place frames! Painters tape?! Amazing.

Want to know how I decide where to hang things?! I put 500 nail holes in my wall and hope at some point, I'll get it in the right spot. hahaha (please tell me I'm not alone)

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Because we have both had sick kids the past few weeks, the project took a little longer than we planned and it sat halfway done for a while. A week or so ago, I finally texted Leah this little video with some progress and thoughts (see video-text below).

Finally our kids were well again...and because Caleb from Unmutable was flying in to do video work for my upcoming book trailer, etc we knew we had to get going and finish. Mere days before Caleb arrived for the big shoot, the room was complete.

And I'm still freaking out over how beautiful it is (ignore the light wires though...still working on that part)!

Ok...ready?? Here we go!!!

After!

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Ok so I forgot to tell you something important about the design... I told Leah I didn't really want to buy anything.

I wanted her to shop my house and use what I already have.

We pulled things in from other rooms, ransacked closets and the basement. The only items I purchased were plants, baskets, and the awesome light above my desk (which still needs to be connected).

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I really wanted a pop of something on a portion of the walls, but didn't feel wallpaper was the right look for this space. We were SO thrilled when Urban Walls told us they wanted to work with us because these amaaaaaaazing decals are THE perfect addition, don't you think?! 

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I love how some were placed up slightly onto the ceiling, too!

In case you're thinking this room cost lots of $$ to decorate, I want to share a little secret with you...most of it came from Goodwill, Target, garage sales, and clearanced/sale items from shops I have a feeling you totally frequent.

I'll chat about where the decor items and furniture are from in another post, but remember...this space is almost entirely designed with stuff I already had. It's just displayed differently!

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Do you see my book up there next to the Prayer Changes Everything sign?! Shhhh...I'm not officially sharing this yet, but you can preorder it on Amazon!

**I'm not really announcing it yet because we're waiting for the preorder goodies to be compiled and completed. Hold on to your digital receipt if you order it now so you can still get the goodies...they're really fun, you'll want them!!**

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I'm still pinching myself that Beautifully Interrupted is almost out! So surreal!!! But I digress...

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How cute are these little guys?! I found the glass globes in Target's Dollar Section last year but the rocks and air plants are available there right now (near the seeds + summer furniture)! They're now hanging in the window.

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I love using unexpected items around the home. This little glass pitcher is perfect for pens and my old palette full of paint I forgot to clean off 'till it was dry and too stuck to scrub off is a fun pop of texture for beneath and the easel that holds our family portrait from this shop. That gorgeous paper flower is from Katya Paperie (btw she's doing floral for my book's Launch Team gifts! more on that soon, too!)

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I'm in absolute love with how the bookcase is styled now! It's still organized according to subject like I'd wanted/needed for writing and researching, but Leah made is look so much better.

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I'm obviously in love with swans since Swanstrom is my maiden name and adore how my logo (painted by my dear friend Amy Kavs) is highlighted front and center! And those vintage brass swans are perfectly placed right below (next to that adorable succulent from our grocery store, of all places!).

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And how great is this idea to place a (faux) succulent into a teacup from my collection? I'm definitely going to copy this next time I need a gift!

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This Abide sign was gifted to me by a group of incredible ladies I had the honor of speaking to in Royal Oaks, MI last year. I don't know why I never thought of putting it on a shelf with a plate holder! I looooove it here!

And can you see off to the right-hand side how a little brass and gold colander is used to hold a faux plant? (I know it's just barely shown, but is too cute to ignore!) So creative.

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I found the live plants at Home Depot, Walmart, and our local grocery store...but admittedly, we mixed in a few faux plants as well! If you don't have a green thumb or can't find the right plant, why not mix fake ones in?!

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I'm so excited to share this calendar with you. I've really been trying to become more organized since the new year began. I'm going to be sharing more on my sweet friend Lindsay Letters' calendars in the next few weeks as I reveal organization tricks + tips for us ladies who aren't naturally that way.

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I cringe at telling you this but it's a struggle for me to be organized. Like REALLY struggle horribly with living organized. I don't mean a clean house...I mean an organized life in general. Schedules, intentionality, that sort of thing. These past several months though, I've realized how much less stress I feel because I'm consciously working on it.

That's a whole 'nother blog post so more on that coming soon!

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From dark and serious...bright and happy!

I'm definitely inspired here!

Can't wait to share more on Lindsay's calendar, organization, and how I made that cool paint brush art piece next to my easel! Stay tuned!

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My favorite part (other than now having space for my easel) is I still get to work in that big bright window!

It never occurred to me to carry my big desk and fit it in next to the window seat...it fits perfectly...and now the kids can sit facing me, snuggled in all the pillows and draw on opposite side of the desk while I'm working. I love it so much.

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What do you think? What's your favorite part of the redo?

Take Joy,

Teresa

opening up our door to our neighborhood (+ tips so you can, too!)

Never having lived in a neighborhood where we’ve actually known our neighbors, we wanted to change that. Our family decided we wanted to live life with those in our community, rather than drive into our garage and put the door down behind us, shutting out any chance of getting to know anyone.

Three cross country moves and various neighborhood and city changes means we’re now in our seventh house in ten years of marriage. Finally though, with tons of transition tucked into our belts, we’re itching to settle and grow roots…but that’s something that needs to be done both organically and with intentionality.

Deciding we simply wanted to open our doors, we begun just inviting people in. My first Book Club gathering was two weeks after moving into this house and we laughed and chatted amidst boxes that surrounded our living room.

No one cared one bit.

Shortly after that, I invited in ladies from our neighborhood, moms from the kids school, sports, and church. I wanted to give busy women an excuse to dress up and I called it, a “Let’s Party Like Girls” night (click here to see year 1 + year 2)

Last summer, we had dinners in our backyard, calling each one “An Evening to Nourish”. Faith, age, and station in life didn’t matter at these evenings.

I didn’t seek to combine a group of like-minded ladies, but rather went out of my little bubble and welcomed in women I both knew well and really wanted to know well. Most of the time, I sat around our table with women who had never met one another…but they certainly knew each other by the end of the evening. Phone numbers and hugs were exchanged at the end of each Nourish event.

We felt nourished. Not only because our bellies were full, but because our hearts were.

Lately, the desire to be more intentional about inviting families into our home has been on our hearts and decided doing Outdoor Movie Nights would be a great way to begin. We’ve hosted tons of them these past few months (so many in fact, that we decided to make a quick diy screen rather than hanging a sheet on the fence)!

I think we've been able to host so many though, because we decided that although we’re big fans of going all out for parties and events, something quick, simple and manageable needed to be reality. I needed to remind myself that if I made a big deal out of planning, it wouldn’t end up happening very often.

The whole point was to get to know our community…not throw the bash of the century.

Not wanting to spend more than a handful of dollars on these evenings, I decided to reuse wooden pallets I’d accumulated for a big picnic we’d hosted this summer. Spreading them out around the backyard, we covered them with blankets or tablecloths or even a few yards of fabric I’d found a few years ago at Goodwill. I just used what I had. Knowing evenings are beginning to get chilly now that fall is on it’s way, I also put out extra blankets to wrap ourselves in (These grey fleece ones are from Ikea and cost $3.99 each).

Since we wanted as little prep as possible, we decided to forego using our microwave, and simply bought a big bag of pre-popped popcorn at the grocery store and poured it into brown paper lunch sacks. I didn’t have enough to fill every bag to the top, so I cut the bags down a bit…which was probably good anyway because most nights I end up throwing out a dozen half-eaten sacks anyway.

I love tossing fruit into a big pitcher or jar of water rather than serving kids soda because well…kids and soda equal insanity. They never seem to mind and it’s easier on my pocketbook anyway. Depending on our crowd, we usually put out some adult beverages too.

Doing as much beforehand as we can makes having people over even more manageable.

I often make my favorite slushy cocktail and slide them into the freezer a few days beforehand and shop our house for pillows and blankets, folding them into a pile the day before, so we don’t need to scurry around the house making sure we didn’t forget anything.

Target, Ikea, and Goodwill are my go-to stores if I end up feeling we need anything, but I’m generally a huge advocate in using what we have. Shop your house!! Don’t put out anything fancy that can’t be washed…remember, people are going to be eating and drinking while lounging on these things.

Have a blanket with stains?

Who cares, it’s going to have greasy popcorn spilled on it anyway.

The goal is for people to feel comfortable, that they can unwind. Being present in your home should be a breath of fresh air to their soul. Let them feel Jesus when around you. It’s not about everything matching.

It’s not about throwing a Pinterest-worthy event.

This is about hospitality being an avenue to minister to our community without them feeling we’re shoving Jesus down their throats.

Your home doesn’t need to be perfect. Your yard doesn’t need to be pristine. You may live in a rental or something you feel is too tiny to entertain well. But you know what?

Imperfection is authentic.

No one feels comfortable in so-called perfection anyway.

Let the love of God shine through us all as you open your homes to your neighborhood. Because you might be the closest thing to Jesus they’ve ever met.

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.
— Acts 28:30

Take Joy,

Teresa

How I gather my scattered thoughts (helping my Mom-Brain)

I'm a bit scatterbrained. There, I said it. It's probably a Creatives thing, or maybe it's a too busy thing, or even an "I'm not organized enough" thing...but there it is, a bit of honesty.

Are you scattered, too? Even a little?

I'm a dreamer and doer. I listen to podcasts and books on cd. I read early in the morning and late at night. I have ideas upon ideas, but they typically happen when I'm in the shower or driving. Or perhaps when I'm slicing vegetables for dinner...and rarely when I'm at my desk ready to type out ideas and wisdom given me from the Lord.

I'll be pushing one of the kids on the swings and they'll say something and I'll think, "I need to remember that forever!" The same happens many nights as they recite sweet, too-wise-for-their-age prayers.

"I never want to forget that," I'll think. But then I do.

I've been re-reading Ann Lamott's book, Bird By Bird and within one of it's pages, I had a revelation when she said:

I have index cards and pens all over the house—by the bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, by the phones, and I have them in the glove compartment of my car.

I carry one with me in my back pocket when I take my dog for a walk. In fact, I carry it folded lengthwise, if you need to know, so that, God forbid, I won’t look bulky.

You may want to consider doing the same. I don’t even know you, but I bet you have enough on your mind without having to worry about whether or not you look bulky...
So whenever I am leaving the house without my purse—in which there are actual notepads, let alone index cards—I fold an index card lengthwise in half, stick it in my back pocket along with a pen, and head out, knowing that if I have an idea, or see something lovely or strange or for any reason worth remembering, I will be able to jot down a couple of words to remind me of it.

Sometimes, if I overhear or think of an exact line of dialogue or a transition, I write it down verbatim. I stick the card back in my pocket. I might be walking along the salt marsh, or out at Phoenix Lake, or in the express line at Safeway, and suddenly I hear something wonderful that makes me want to smile or snap my fingers—as if it has just come back to me—and I take out my index card and scribble it down.
— ANNE LAMOTT

This has become such an incredible concept for me!

I've used cute little notebooks forever, but they've never really worked for me. I'm rarely able to find what I'm looking for in them. Plus, half the time I put them in my bag, they end up destroyed because a sippy-cup leaked all over it and my precious ideas or notes become nothing but pretty blotches of pink and blue upon waterlogged and warped pages.

I've always been horrible at keeping a Baby Book for our kids, and by horrible...I mean I didn't do it. It seemed like too much pressure! I was in survival mode for so many years that the thought of a Baby Book put me over the edge.

But somehow an index card seems good...it seems doable.

Now I'll listen to a devotional cd in my car and pull off the side of the road to write down someting God was impressing upon my heart. Or I'll walk the dogs and remember a conversation that would be perfect to add to my book or an idea for a blogpost.

I bought the cutest recipe box I could find and organize my thoughts and notes inside: Ideas for my book and blog. Bible study notes, Bible verses, quotes I love, notes from the seminary class I'm taking, memories, prayers I'm praying and ones the our kids pray. It's all in there. So I don't forget.

I use a soap dish to hold some in the kitchen, a plastic case for the one in my bag. I have a pen and stacks throughout the house...set out or in a drawer so I can easily take a note and move on with what I'm doing.

Though this is just a silly little thing, it's so helpful to find an simple and realistic way to purge my thoughts.

I have so much swirling through my mind at all moments of the day and night, it's allowed me to focus more...rather than actively trying to contain it all inside my tired 'ol brain. haha. Perhaps it'll work for you, too!

Take Joy,

Teresa