What 2014 Taught Me

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

I don’t share too many deep thoughts here on the ol’ blog, I like to keep the content more on the surface about inspiring DIY projects, design, and home improvement.

The last day of the year gives me pause and an opportunity to think about the past year before starting a new one. Rather than a Best Of roundup, I wanted to write about what I learned this year. This is one of those reflective posts looking back at 2014 but not at projects, instead it’s a look at what I achieved beyond and behind the blog.

winter walk through snow

Take Time for Other Interests. I learned this year how revitalizing it is to spend time on something unrelated to your job. One thing I’ve longed to do for years is be a better student of history. I had my share of classes in college but it was more about survival and a good grades back then, my mindset now is so different, my focus is on the richness of the writings and the lessons from amazing stories and people. Presently, I’m deep into a study of the Civil War, absorbing everything on the North and South, on Lincoln, his advisors, his assassin, and podcasting a Yale University course. I feel enriched thinking about things other than design.

Lesson: take up a hobby or interest that you’ve longed to pursue!

Get Healthy. This year I learned how important (and good) it feels to take charge of my health. At the beginning of the year I realized I had gained almost 20 pounds in two years and was feeling very fatigued. I took control and made a huge dietary changes. I eliminating processed, fried, and fast food from my diet and opted for clean eating instead. I relearned how to exercise with the help of a personal trainer. I started lifting weights and sculpting my body. I lost 15 pounds, almost all the weight I gained and feel more energized and stronger than ever. In another month or two I’ll have reached my weight loss goal and intend to keep myself strong and healthy for life!

Lesson: discipline and consistency with diet and exercise is hard work but the benefits are life changing. What a gift to have a strong healthy body again!

Just Say No. Feeling a sense of emotional fatigue in the beginning of 2014 I made a deliberate choice to practice the art of saying no to things that threw me off balance and focused instead on the things that I deemed essential. I read a wonderful book on the subject Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, highly recommended if you’re feeling overwhelmed. This deliberate practice of saying no occurred for me on two levels, the first was turning down several professional opportunities and the second was taking significant breaks from the internet and social media. The practice brought a peace, balance, and contentment that I haven’t felt in years.

Many opportunities came my way this year, I consider myself fortunate to receive many offers but I had to stay true to the principle that partnerships must be mutually beneficial and so I turned many of those offers down because they weren’t a good fit. Being conscious of what is or is not a good fit makes that yes or no decision so much easier. It had to feel real, it had to be authentic, or I wasn’t willing to write about it.

I stopped worrying about statistics or pageviews. I took long breaks and set aside large blocks of time for relaxation or creativity. I resisted and restricted distraction. I released any fear of losing readers or advertisers. I stopped paying attention to the likes and followers or what I “should” be doing according to the blogging experts, and chose to be true to myself, come what may. Those choices are liberating.

I learned in 2014 to stay sane in a world of constant distraction I had to pinpoint when enough was enough and clock out. There is a stream of constant unending information coming at us from our screens. It will always be there, you can’t see, watch, or absorb it all. To survive and thrive we must shut down the barrage of information and tune it out as a daily habit.

Lesson: the practice embracing the essential and rejecting the nonessential leads to a stronger sense of balance and contentment.

What I will continue to value as essential on a professional level are the two things that fulfill me most. The first is the creative process, whether it’s a home remodel or textile design, the expression of my style and the process of combining color and pattern bring me joy so I’ll continue in those pursuits. The second is the conversation that happens here on the blog and among so many friends about how to improve our homes so that they’re not only stylish but functional and places that serve the lifestyle of the residents. 2015 will bring more of both, I’m excited to jump in.

As we enter 2015, I encourage you to let go of your fear, relax more – embrace what you value, say no to the rest. Don’t let anything (a job, a relationship, a blog) suck the life out of you. Do the things that make you smile, the things that fill your heart and feed your soul. Take care of yourself, you’re worth it!

Happy New Year my friends… cheers to 2015 and learning something new!

True North

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Long walks in the woods do wonders for the mind, body, and soul and bring remarkable clarity.  I was up in the mountains last week and had a lot of time to think about what I’d like this year to be about.  It’s common to set goals or resolutions for ourselves this time of year and the more I thought about it, the more I analyzed my dreams and the direction I need to take to make them happen, and to make my work even more fulfilling.   

path to true north

I confess I needed a break from blogging which is why I took the week off.  All those unplugged hours helped me focus on what I wanted more of here on the blog and today seems the perfect time to share those ideas, hopes, and dreams.  I’ll be staying true to most of what I’ve been posting about for years, but here are a few changes I’ll be making in 2013.

1.  Less Me, More You.  I love home improvement but there’s only a few major projects left around our place before the house is “done” and after that we’ve no plans to move!  Yet I absolutely love DIY projects on the home front, remodeling and sprucing will always be a passion, so I plan to tackle a few more of your design dilemmas and include readers in the conversation too.  I’ll still have a lot of creative DIY ideas of my own to share too but I don’t expect to do quite as many this year as I have in the past.

2.   Random Beauty.   I love to explore the world with my camera, heading out into nature, popping into local shops, and taking pictures of cool places and spaces.  I’m going to adventure and share more of what I capture with my lens this year.  

3.  Great Design.  My favorite topic is what constitutes good design, from architectural elements to color, fabric, and furniture choices.  I’ll be beefing up the Style Files with weekly articles on random topics this year, together with some Contributing Writers. 

4.  Weekly Encouragement.  I love the idea of starting off the week with an encouraging word or quote, so I plan to do a lot of that on Mondays, and offer some free printables to go along with it. 

5.  Fabric Design.  I’ve been hinting at this for a while but I feel it’s finally time to share.  After a year of dreaming, I have all the tools in place to pursue something I’m truly passionate about and that is textile design.  More samples of my work are arriving every day and I’m excited to be launching a line of colorful prints for home this spring. 

We’ve decided to convert the small unit above our garage into a design and sewing studio, and we’ll be starting the transformation later this month.  For me, this is the ultimate DIY project, and I’ll be working on a lot of textile designs behind the scenes over the next couple of months until the collection is complete! 

kates fabrics


In life, there is always uncertainty about what the future holds but I believe in taking a leap of faith and investing in oneself.  Finding the right path, my true north, is what this year is really about for me.  I believe we all need to focus on what truly makes us happy and not so much what everyone else is doing.  Life is too short not to pursue our passions! 

I want this blog to continue to be a place of inspiration and community and I’ll stay focused topic wise on inspiring you and me in the process of making our lives and homes more beautiful.  I love sharing the inspiring writings and projects of others so both the ‘Best of the Blogosphere’ and ‘Friday Finds’ series will continue this year. 

I know there are a lot of lovely blogs to read out there, I subscribe to so many too, and so I am grateful every day for your readership.  I welcome any of your thoughts on content or posts, feel free to suggest them in the comments or email them to me at [email protected].

I’ll be kicking off the New Year with an all star cast of tips on organizing tomorrow. 

Cheers to a healthy, happy, and productive 2013! 

kate signature image