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Home Before and After Evolution

I cringe when I look back at pictures of my home from when I first started blogging. It was dark and cluttered and mismatched, and not in a good way. It’s been quite the Home Before and After Evolution.

Hand painted dresser in a living room

Before blogging, all of my decorating influences had been either magazines, the shows on HGTV (which I now refer to as “the real estate channel”.), or the Pottery Barn catalog. Not really trusting in what I wanted, it ended up being a mish-mosh as I waffled between what I thought,- I wanted, what was popular and what I thought other people would think. This is pre-the whole DIY, Home, Lifestyle, Instagram thing. You had magazines and a few home shows, that was it.

Traditional living room with beige couch red table and wall art

And even though my home was decorated in the reds, golds and greens of the early 2000’s, which are perfect for some people; I kept ripping out pictures of these light, airy rooms.  Yet, somehow when I made a change such as painting a wall or getting new drapes, I might change it  a shade or two an think it was a huge, bright change, but to be perfectly honest, if somebody walked in, they would never even notice it was a different shade. Even though I wanted.. no craved….change, I was truly afraid of changing, so it was almost easier to do almost nothing.

At one point I listened to a friend who helped me pick out a bunch of things for my home. Even though I wasn’t really feeling what was picked out, I went with the flow because I loved her home and I thought that I should do what she said, and what I liked I hadn’t really seen anywhere else. The fact of the matter is, I waffled. I knew I didn’t like anything she picked out, but I was too afraid to listen to my own voice, and I needed up spending a lot of money on things I didn’t like at a time when there was really no disposable income. It was money I basically threw away. I had spent too many years listening to someone else about how things should be in my home. My home looks really different now.
White kitchen with wood countertops

I think what was the turning point for me was when we were forced to do our kitchen the October before last. I wasn’t really prepared, but I knew this was probably the only chance we would be doing our kitchen for  along time and with our budget; this was it. There were no second chances, so I better make sure I loved it. After lots of looking and ripping out magazine pages, and book marking blogs, I had  a pretty good idea of what I wanted and instead of falling back into the same old, “what are they going to think?” mode and worrying about what other people though, I finally  trusted my own gut instinct and went for it. My hand was forced, I was cornered and I decided to rise to the challenge and trust my decorating voice.

Decorating with old books and a vintage mirror and flowers

I have never regretted trusting that voice. I was so happy with how it had turned out that I finally realized that it was okay to believe in what I liked.  It doesn’t matter if no one else has it in their house, or I hadn’t seen it anywhere else. I realized my home should be a reflection of us. What I and my family loved, and what we needed to do in the space we have. The bookcase we just built... I would never have dreamed of trusting myself to actually go with it two years go. Now I am so happy I took that chance, the space is already proving be be so useful… I am wondering how it would be to do one on the other side and make it more of a room.


Kitchen nook with wood chairs and mirror


I’ve had some people criticize that I change my house around all of the time, and they joke that it’s never the same place twice, but sometimes I don’t think it’s in a nice way. Maybe almost critical. While part of that, I admit, is  a love of decorating for me, another part of that is that our lives and needs as a family are constantly changing, so of course our home will change! And how do you find out what you really like if you don’t ever try to find out? And it doesn’t cost a lot to make some of those changes, sometimes adversity in the money department can bring out the best creativity.
While homes are just places to keep our “stuff” , they are important to our lives, and when you have a home that works for you, no matter what’s it’s size,  it makes life much easier to live.
*I think we all have that voice and need to learn to trust it.
*We need to believe what we see. If a room is blue, but we keep ripping out pages of red walls, even if it’s not popular, we need to trust what we want where we put our heads down at night.
* Our homes are reflections of us.. and you know what, it’s all okay.
*We need to let it be okay to change things to how we like it, even if it’s not what popular in magazines or on blogs.
*We need to not listen to people who say shouldn’t or can’t. Why can’t we, it’s our homes.
*Our homes should have function for how we live. Form follows function. And this lady it right, it does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.
*There shouldn’t be decorating “rules” or “what’s in and out”, just guidelines. I read once that a group of designers made  a list and toilet rugs were out.  I admit they are gross. You know what’s grosser? Kids who pee on your floor when they miss the toilet and now the grout is permanently stained… instead of a $12 toilet rug. That’s gross.
* And freedom. We should have the freedom to not measure our selves or our homes up to anyone else; “because as many people there are in the world, is as many ways there are to live.”
I didn’t say that, but I wish I did.
It’s brilliant.
I hope when we have our refreshing our room’s link party February 6th, you are ready to take some risks, trust yourself, and make your home a place you truly love.

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*This was posted Via Jennifer Rizzo. com


  1. Hi Jennifer,

    This post rings close to home. We’re in amidst of some major fixer upper challenges in our home…with a tiny budget, so it’s refreshing to see such an encouraging post such as this. Knowing that it’s “okay” to trust your instincts, even if you may not think anyone may like it. I still struggle with that, but in the long run, you’re the one living in your home and you need to make it truly functional for your family! Bravo! I really needed to hear that considering our current project overload! 🙂 Thanks again for your continued inspiration!



  2. I wrote about life being too short to have good taste. Because if it’s not in the taste of our family it’s not in good taste.

    Toilet rugs out can be thrown out…..so glad you said that. Because we have the grout thing that needs to be ripped out. Boys. Boys. Boys.

  3. This is really a great post. I wish you would do a series of more things that might be the “in” thing to do or NOT to do. I didn’t even know about the toilet rug!!

    “WE” live in our home…no one else. Some things we need no matter how much it is “out.”

    Some things are not ME and I don’t want to decorate with it. I am just NOT into antlers…however, I love animal figurines. I might change my mind this afternoon, however right now, that is the way I feel.

    Have a great week!! Hugs, Jan

  4. I think when you have a designers eye, it is hard to be satisfied with a space until it feels right…and often it takes awhile to get it right…that is why details are important to us, while others can live with things the way they are forever and a day. Not me, I am switching it and painting it, and rearranging it. Life is not static, and neither is decorating!

  5. I couldn’t agree more with you. I read a lot of blogs, and so many of the homes are white, white, white. While I love looking at it, I could never live in it. I need color – pretty, rich color. Your home is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, and personally I absolutely love, love, love your kitchen. I do wonder, tho, if that beautiful silver tray over the stove doesn’t get awfully greasy?? Keep up the good work, keep changing – you inspire us all.

  6. You sure hit that right… I was just watching DIY channel and they where saying that peel and stick tile was disgusting.. Well it works for me and I love it..(what ever) Great post Jennifer. I like your Home before and after.


  7. Here, here! Wonderful post and reflections, Jen! I think homes should reflect the family and the lifestyle of that family in their home. Things are always changing; I know I had more changes to my home as my children got older because we changed as a family.

  8. You said it, girl! It was so nice to read your post! I had felt the same way (and still do sometimes.) I see my home so different from all my friends, and know that my decor is alittle unconventional (some just can’t see why I would ever want an old chippy paint dresser, when I should have a brand new one!) Thanks so much for the encouragement.

  9. Amen to that!! “always be true to yourself”…..sometimes is easier said than done especially with home decorating….trying to appease the husband, have a home your friends will like, and that the MIL will approve of!! Those days are long gone for me! However, my husband STILL won’t let me paint the kitchen cupboards!

    Well said….


  10. EXCELLENT post! SO true. For me…I have ALWAYS been drawn to the linens, whites, creams…but went through a stage where I thought I liked red buffalo check…yellows…blue toile. But I got tired of it. If I take a look back at the very first house I decorated, our home was full of creams and whites.
    We DO have to listen. And now I am not fighting what I’m drawn to. Now I want even MORE white in our home…just because I know it’s me…it’s our family. Thank you for such a well-written topic.
    Have a lovely day. And I truly adore your home.
    Jen xo

  11. I couldn’t agree more. You made so many good points. I had someone come into my house recently who could not figure out my dining area. It is a mixture of german bistro chairs and louis xv cane back chairs with grain sack seats. It was a little passive aggressive. But I knew that it was what worked for me and my family. And I love it! Its not her style and that is ok. Also, the last of fund is what led me to make a slipcover for my sofa by hand, no pattern, no machine. And I was so inspired by that project that it led me to open an etsy store and start me blog. And no it is not a perfect slipcover but it’s perfect for me and my girls

    Have a great day


  12. I still look at pictures from a few months ago and think…what was I thinking?? For instance I just painted my fireplace and it was this blue. As I was painting I kept shaking my head in horror~

  13. Jen…did you right this just for me…how sweet!! I agree with you 110% and I know how you felt about your kitchen reno,I was the same it was get it right or deal with it!!! I too think some comments from people we know are not really nice..John says they are just jealous and I like that theory!!! So glad I came by today,you took the words right out of my mouth!!! x0x0x

  14. As in everything else in life, we have to be true to ourselves…otherwise we end sounding like we have a fake accent. Kinda like trying to speak French with a Texas accent…just isn’t real.
    You have found your “voice” and it’s a lovely reflection of you.

  15. I applaud you for this wonderful post! I couldn’t agree with you more. I like to make alot of changes in my decor and sometimes I do things that others might “question”. But, hey, it’s MY house and I can do what I want with it. I like to follow trends sometimes, but some people say it’s best not to. However, I think it’s best to have a mix. The people that play it safe all the time have boring homes to me. There I said it! Feels good. I like people that think outside the box and can’t always afford to run to the store for everything they want. It makes their home more interesting because (like you said) forces them to be more creative. Your home is always a pleasure to look at because it follows everything I just mentioned. I think you should continue in the direction that you’re going and we’ll all follow along enjoying your journey.

  16. Well said. I am relatively new to reading all these decorating blogs – I have way more time on my hands now than I ever did before – and at first I was totally intimidated. My family cannot live in the rooms on most of blogs I first subscribed to! I tried painting a room gray and it never made it to the trimming out stage. Rainy days at the beach are depressing enough without more gray. I love the look – but not in my house. I had to learn that just because I love it in a pic doesn’t mean I will love it in real life in my house.

  17. WoW! This is such a Great post! You truly hit the nail on the Head. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in what’s popular, But I think a homes true beauty is when it reflex on the people who live there.

  18. Amen sister.I change things all the time.And my tastes change all the time.Although I always seem to love vintage things.You have to live in your home.And it should be the things that you love and make you happy.Your home is beautiful.

  19. Hi Jenifer~~ I totally agree. You have to LOVE where YOU live. I know there are people who may think my French linen “slip cover” on my couch is ridiculous, but you know what??? I LOVE it and that is all that matters.
    Thanks for the great post…. I love your changes.

  20. Hi Jennifer. I love your post today and I think it’s so true how we all need to trust our own instincts in decorating! Your kitchen may be my favorite I’ve ever seen on any blog by the way!


  21. Love the kitchen picture and that Mirror in the other picture. I like the idea of refreshing things–I tend to just move my furniture for a cheap way of doing this–but I need to think more on this subject!

  22. Thanks, Jennifer, for your beautiful and timely post. Your home is beautiful and it is encouraging that you have made it so on a budget. We have a very tiny budget compared to the size of our home and our neighbourhood, but we do the best we can. I am working on a makeover for our basement guest bedroom and I’m trying to reuse and collect many items but still have it fit my style. Your encouraging words are just what I needed to hear today.

  23. ha ha the bathroom comment was spot on.i have to please my husband and also be practical with a large dog. my tastes have evolved over the years now i love industrial rustic repurposed eclectic decor it works for us. in fact i have a rustic coffee table that has been chewed by a beloved former pet.

  24. I feel the same way when I look back at old pictures of my home! The ones I hate the most are when I have gotten caught up in some stupid trend or tried to force something instead of being patient and waiting for what I really wanted. I change things in my house a lot, too. Sometimes I can feel like maybe I’m putting too much importance on material things/things that in the big picture, are not really that important. But I’m certainly not doing it to impress anyone. I’m passionate about surrounding myself with beautiful things and making my home as comfortable and functional as possible. I couldn’t stop myself if I tried. And believe me I’ve tried. I get grumpy and agitated when I’m not being creative. Decorating my home is my art. It brings me joy and I have accepted that it is who God made me.

  25. I’ll be honest while I like to look at all white rooms I can’t live with them. I do like white with say darker floors and some darker furniture but all white leaves me “shabbied out”. You have a nice balance which is appealing to me. I laughed at your toilet rug comment because I’ve been trying to break my sister of her toilet cozy because it’s her husband bathroom ewwwww.

  26. I love this post, Jen. I can’t believe that two years ago you didn’t trust your decorating judgment. That is just crazy-you have great taste!

  27. I loved this post. I think we really do need to listen to our hearts and decorate our houses the way we like. It doesn’t have to please anyone else as long as it feels like home to us.
    And some things just have to remain practical (like toilet rugs) during certain seasons of life.

  28. Thank you for this post. I have been wanting to make some changes & this has helped me to know yes it’s okay as long as I’m happy with what I have chosen. I have struggled with that in the past.

  29. Truer words have never been spoken. Our homes are just that “ours”. We have a short time on this earth and so much of it is spent in our little nests that we should have no qualms about making them our own. No matter how many times we have to change it up, change is good in my book, it means we are growing. Take Care,Carrie

  30. I totally agree! Pre pinterest days, I took a hard look at all of my tear outs, and thought, why am I not going with what I so obviously love?? I now am creating a home that brings us pride and joy! Looking forward to your linky party!

  31. so well said!!!! Thank you for this post…I need to be reminded to trust myself every now and then…and to remember my house is for my family, not to please other people!

  32. I love this post, Jennifer! I’ve always decorated my home without much concern about ‘the rules’, but it’s only in the past few years that I’ve become 100% unapologetic about it. Why is it that we feel we need to justify decisions about our homes to others? They don’t live there! I adore your home, it’s one of my faves; so obviously ‘your gut’ has not failed you along the way! ~Kerri, A Pop of Pretty

  33. My god, I so love this! Vintage stuff are my favorite kinda furniture I want at home and I’m always looking out for great ideas to decorate them. Luv what you have there, great share and thanks a million for them 🙂

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