I. Heart. Home.

Damommy and me 

Meet my grandmother: Murray Berry. And that little squirt she's holding? ME.

In my life Murray Berry was known as "Damommy" (Yes, it's true. Feel free to comment on this name at the end of the post).

In my twenties I find myself asking the same old question: How did I get here? Where did I get this itch to design homes? And in each year that passes the more all signs point to...


 Aside from the life lessons Damommy taught me (including: travel, love well, comb your hair before pictures, follow your heart, dinner before dessert (never the opposite!), no sniveling, and always help people who are less fortunate,.. the list goes on)  I feel that she instilled in me a strong sense of "home."  You walked into her front door and it wasn't just a roof over your head- you were stepping into her world. Everything that she represented was wrapped up in 4,000 warm & cozy square feet.

Home has always been like that for me. And yes, you could definitely say I'm a homebody. I think that's why I love what I do... to help someone else make their home a true reflection of them, somewhere that is a safe haven for their family, a place that provides contentment... Whether it is a client that wants it all with frilly fringe or one who prefers the modern, minimal approach- the second I walk in the front door I enter their world. 

I'm just here to help.

With that being said, Damommy could always count on her fingers the things every home needs. So get out your notebooks:

1. Every House Needs.... A Bookworm

In other words: Display those books! Nothing gives a more lived-in, comfy feel to a house than a stack of hardcover books. In any room...

Bookcase domino simon upton
Image from Domino magazine, RIP :(
Bedroom bookcase martha

Bookcases domino

Bookcases domino roman barrett 
above 2 images from Domino Magazine

My grandmother would always say it's not only important to display your books, but it is how you display them as well. The key here is: Don't think about it too hard. Be flexible!  If you aren't you will end up with a bookcase that looks programmed and stiff. Put them in all different directions, take off the ugly jackets that aren't working with your scheme (no offense Tom Clancy), put your all time favorite books in a prime location, mix the colors up, grab a stack of larger books and place them somewhere else in the room (see picture above).
*One trick Damommy taught me was: When you're filling a bookcase up with rows upon rows of books be sure to have one or two books pulled out and placed on top of the others... like you had just used it. It loosens things up, AND you look smarter. :)
*And another trick (I'm throwing these freebies out, catch 'em while they're hot!): It looks nice to have a good mix of books, artwork and accessories. If you're a numbers person let's say: 70% books, 15% small framed artwork or photographs, 15% accessories (Damommy would say *pottery only)
*And the most important trick!!**: Pull the books to the very front of the bookcase. No shoving them in the back! It makes the biggest difference, I promise.

Bookcase martha

2. Every Home Needs... Fresh Flowers
Enough said.

image from House Beautiful

Houseplants martha

3. Every Home Needs.... Art

I think the moment I really realized my grandmother (drastically) rubbed off on my 'nesting' style was shortly after I got married. We settled into a cute, old house in Nashville and within days I had every wall covered in artwork... and 3 pieces of furniture to speak of. I joked with my friends: "I'd love for you to come over to our new house- We can all sit on bean bags and look at our pretty walls!" 
In other words: BYOC.
Bring your own chair.
We are fortunate to have artistic friends and family (hence the wedding gift wall decor)- and I still have trouble choosing an ottoman over a beautiful framed b/w photograph. 
The point is: start collecting! There is nothing better than artwork.

Artwork urbane martha

Artwork susan lyne martha
Image from Southern Accents magazine

Pink painting

4. Every House Needs.... Good Lighting!

This topic deserves a post of it's own so I won't go into too much detail. But if there is one thing that my grandmother and I both put emphasis on it's LIGHTING. It can make or break a house. Here a few helpful hints from Damommy herself:

*Use pink light bulbs.... it makes everyone (including yourself) look better.


*Turn all the lamps on when you are expecting guests. EVEN WHEN IT'S DAYLIGHT.

Vc lamp1


*All lamps from Visual Comfort

This (is completely unrelated but) goes hand in hand with one of my best friend Katie's advice about how to make your day better: Open your windows. Turn on every light in your room. And make your bed.
... and no, katie is not 4 years old.

*Avoid overhead lights whenever possible. This does not necessarily apply to chandeliers or sconces... I'm talking fluorescents, surface mounts, ceiling fans with light kits, or any other light that frequently catches the silhouette of a dead bug, casting a dark shadow into the room. (You know exactly what I"m talking about)

5. Every House Needs... A Welcoming Entry

Damommy would probably say that the most important part of the house is the entry. Whether that be your foyer, stair hall, courtyard or front porch- do not neglect this spot.

Entry hall-HB Suzanne Kasler
image in House Beautiful, design by Suzanne Kasler

Entry HB j randall powers
Image from House Beautiful, design by J. Randall Powers

Ways to spruce up your entry may include:
*Sweeping the front porch!!
*Replacing out-dated lighting with something that is more your style- a fresher look
*Put your favorite rug in the entry hall
*Take care of the landscaping around the entry
*Grab a handful of gardenias and place them in a vase by the entry door (my favorite smell*)
*Hire an acapella group to sit on your front stoop and sing "Bright Side of the Road" to anyone passing by.... Why not?
A few more beautiful, welcoming foyers:
Entry SA mary evelyn
Image in Southern Accents, design by Mary Evelyn McKee

Porch river martha

6. (Last but Least $)
Every House Needs.... A Mouse

This is a family saying. I can't explain it. Other than the fact that in every one of our homes there is some thing that resembles a mouse. It might be a good luck charm- keeping away the real things. For instance, when my aunt and uncle built their house they surprisingly came upon a corner of their granite kitchen countertops that looked exactly like a mouse! (I'll get her to send a picture for proof)

Start Looking, you'll find one.
And odds are if you don't find a fake one, you might want to call Cooks Pest Control. Or buy one of your own.
To purchase this little guy for your house: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5614100


Damommy passed away in August of 2003, shortly after my grandfather's death. We think she died of a broken heart. Perhaps that same roof over her head didn't feel like "home" without him in it.
But she left lifelong lessons with each of her kids and grandkids- mine just happens to be about design. And thankfully it helps me understand who I am and what I'm doing. I think she's looking down from her new Home now- proud that I am sharing her love of all things beautiful...
Although I think if I mentioned that I had a "blog" she would hand me a tissue and send me to bed.

xo RH