Along time ago in a land far away when I lived in a house in another state I wrote a post.

It went a little something like this.

Hi.  My name is KariAnne (sounds like the word car with a long e).  I make decorating mistakes.  Lots of them.  Here are five of my least favorite.

That was then.

This is now.

I live in a new house halfway across the country.

And guess what?

I’m still making mistakes.

Except now?

I call them challenges.

Here’s a new set of five challenges I’ve faced with this house and a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Number 1:  Not adding enough greenery

I’m not sure why I forgot about greenery.

Hello captain greenery obvious.

Greenery is good for the heart and the soul and the neutrals in a room.

It gives a room air.  It helps it breathe.

Here’s the same room.  The same view.  The same angle.

Except now there’s greenery (and a mirror but we’ll get to that a little later).

I’m not done with the greenery.

I plan on adding a fiddle leaf fig and some other smaller plants to the corner.

Number 2:  Adding a little color

I remember looking at this picture of the finished kitchen and thinking it was ready to take on the world.

I was all about it and it’s neutral self.

What was not to love?

White bar stools.

Marble counters.

White walls.

White subway tile.

And then?

I lived with it for a little and realized something was missing.

All it needed was a hint of color.

Nothing too overwhelming.

Nothing too much.

Just a little bit of blue and white.  You can see the difference a little color makes between the two pictures.  The only thing that’s really changed is the rug on the floor and the blue platters on the wall.

Oh.  And the greenery.

For that—please refer back to mistake number one.

Number 3:  Forgetting to add mirrors

Here’s the back entry when it had an upside down Christmas tree and an oversized map of Paris on the wall.

It was fine.

It was sufficient.

But I couldn’t figure what to do to bring a little light into the space.

And then a commenter suggested a mirror.


Here’s the same space with a new paint color and a mirror that came from my mother and used to hang in the old butler’s pantry.

Sometimes a mirror doesn’t have to reflect everything perfectly.

Just the light.

(total decorating aside:  see the difference a mirror made back with mistake number one, too).

Number 4:  Putting something that looks like a coffin on your dining room table

I know, right?

Are you thinking what I’m thinking now in retrospect?


I think I literally heard a collective gasp when I posted this picture.

And it wasn’t even Halloween.

Here’s the kinder, gentler after.

An oversized dough bowl with some greenery.

The toolbox is now in the office keeping the paper and pens company.

(total decorating aside:  this room looks even more differenter now because it’s blue and white.  Please act surprised.)

Number 5:  Recognizing that each house is unique

I hesitated to put this one.

I know it sounds a little like I’m writing a Hallmark card for a house.

When I arrived here I decorated with what I knew.  Neutrals.  And I love neutrals.

They are my go to.  They are my friends.  They calm down my heart and make me smile and want to sink into a chair with a really good book and the sounds of violins filling the air.  I loved them in the farmhouse.


But here’s the thing.  Each house has its own story.  Each house has its own vision.  It’s not like any other house on the planet.

The house knows it’s heart.

The house knows what will make it soar.

The key is to listen.

This house?

It needed a little color.

It needed a little blue and a little white and a pop of color to make it come alive.

Decorating mistakes lesson learned:  Be true to who you are and what your house tells you it wants to be.

No matter what you see on Pinterest.

Or see on a blog.

Or read about in a magazine.

There is only one you and the home you create with things that you love will be perfect.

Decorate with your heart.

And let you and your house reach for the stars.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Ashley Ashley

    I completely agree that every house is different. When we moved, I painted a lot of my walls white. White walls had worked so well in my last (mid-century modern) house with high ceilings. But this was a more traditional brick home from the 60's. White was just too stark. I repainted a pale neutral gray, and my house is so much happier with the subtle difference.

  2. Image for Wonderwoman Wonderwoman

    I love the runner you have the kitchen could you please give me more details where you purchased, brand, dimensions etc. Thanks have a blessed weekend.

  3. Image for Tracy Tracy

    It is truly amazing what a tiny little change can make to entire room. My clever husband remodeled our entire kitchen and built this huge white range hood cabinet. It was white and I loved it. I loved my perfect kitchen....until earlier this week, I saw a green magnolia wreath at Target and KNEW it belonged on my kitchen mantel. That pop of green just brought the eye up and added so much height to my ceilings! Thanks for the inspiration to not be afraid to challenge yourself while decorating! It is such a simple and fixable project that can change everything in an instant ♥

  4. Image for Missy Elam Mangum Missy Elam Mangum

    My godmother, Joan Kling, was an artist. She had the wonderful ability to befriend everyone and make them feel comfortable. I loved going to her house because I could immediately relax - it just had that vibe. Plus, it was full of wonderful things for the eye to contemplate - things she had been given, purchased during world travels or traded for. I always wanted her to travel to my house and work her magic, but she never made it. I miss her. Your living room (?) looks very relaxing and calming.

  5. Image for Ann Ann

    hi KariAnne! Thank you for sharing your design wisdom with us! I LOVE your taste!!! My favorite room above is your redesigned living room (family room?)--just gorgeous!!!

  6. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    Good morning! The new living room makes my heart sing and I hear violins! I love blue and white with a touch of yellow or red. I also believe that each house has its tale to tell! Keep up the search!

  7. Image for Andrea Andrea

    You really could run with that idea of a Hallmark card only it would be a KariCard! Or is this something you already have in the works? You are a writer, able to make connections, and already use uplifting rock-star phrases of encouragement!

  8. Image for Dianne Dianne

    You may not realize how much this type of post helps us! Seeing how and why you tweak these details makes me pause and look around my house with a Karianne eye. Quick question the greens on your dining table, are they in pots or cuttings, or faux? Thanks!!!

  9. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    You, KariAnne, turned your mistakes into challenges and then into simply amazing choices in your home. Way to go again!

  10. Image for Mary Anne Duke Mary Anne Duke

    I have that exact same gold mirror which I believe was handed down frommy great grandmother. My Mom went through a phase of antiquing everything gold or green. Fortunately she stuck with the gold. It had dulled quite a bit so I tried stripping it and got a lovely bare wood with some shiny gold leaf . Left it alone and I love it. Mine does have a bit more mirror...they are sister mirrors.❤️

  11. Image for Laurin Laurin

    I love this, that you show how you learned from your mistakes. That's what life is all about right? I love your home and I believe the blue room is now my favorite in your house.

  12. Image for DeAnna DeAnna

    You. Are. Amazing! I learn so much from you! My daughter is using your decorating workbook for her home. She brought it the 4th to show all of us her paint colors! All of her sisters-in-law are jealous...of the book! I need to order more!

  13. Image for Claudia A Claudia A

    Just in case you didn’t read my comment from the other post. But you’ll really love this commercial, it was meant for you I’m sure.

  14. Image for Cindy Cindy

    I always loved your taste, but too much white for me. What a HUGE difference the blue has made!! Your living room is singing & smiling now! It is gorgeous.

  15. Image for Diane Diane

    Each room was just setting the stage for the next step. And you ROCKED the next step, my friend. ;) Quickie question... I love the sofa and love seat... who makes them AND are they comfortable for YOU? I'm 5' 4" and most sofas are WAY too deep for me. If it works for you it will work for me. ;) TX!

  16. Image for Dee Dee

    it's so amazing how all those little touches add up to so much! I love how practical you are and show us so clearly those little differences! Thank you for being such a source of inspiration in all avenues! XO

  17. Image for Debra B Milam Debra B Milam

    I always loved the farmhouse. My house is for sale and I planned to use your farmhouse as inspiration, for my new home, but now, well, I really love your new house with its touch of color. What to do, what to do? Well no decisions to make yet as I can't start shopping until I sell the current house.

  18. Image for Marisa Franca Marisa Franca

    A coffin??!!🤣 I am so inspired by your lovely neutrals and style. I can't wait to get started. I've got your book and you're my muse. BTW -- I still want your stove. I'll be getting a new stove top and double oven. YAY!! Now, to figure out which ones to pick!! Sending hugs -- I'm learning from your mistakes.

  19. Image for Cristie Cristie

    Oh Please Oh Please tell me where I can get some of that Greenery, that looks like Honeysuckle, in your Dough Bowl??? I’d be ever grateful! Cristie

  20. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    I agree with you on each house has it's own feeling-love everything you do! Even what you call the mistakes. I just call them trial and error...some are brilliant!!!!!!!!!

  21. Image for Deb Deb

    I appreciate all the wonderful decorating pointers. Where did you find the small white table under the mirror. It's exactly what I've been looking for.

  22. Image for JC at the uncommon pearl JC at the uncommon pearl

    Oh this is all so true, my friend! I think it's a little tempting for all of us, on some level, to go with what we see on Pinterest, or blogs, etc, instead of staying true to our home and heart. That's what creating our own space is all about! Thanks for sharing your challenges! I can relate to all of them, except #4. 😉I'll take your advice as I hunt for something amazing for my very empty dining table.

  23. Image for Lorri RAUSCHER Lorri RAUSCHER make me smile ...sometimes giggle when I read yr blog. I read and learn what you are trying to tell us. The coffin on yr dining room table ..way to funny!!! Isnt it amazing by just tweaking with a color or plants it makes the room look so inviting and relaxing. I do enjoy the way you have intoduced colors and greenery. thoughout your house. Thanks for the tips.😆

  24. Image for C. Gresham C. Gresham

    Hi KariAnne, Several major changes in the living room, the large furniture pieces are all different! What did you do with the white chairs? I really like the hobnail (brass tacks) on the chairs in the background, Did all four chairs get moved to different rooms? Thanks for a reply as others may have the same question. Really like the changes especially because I love all shades of blue.

  25. Image for Mary Mary

    It takes a big heart to admit that they make mistakes and an even bigger one to share it all with us. Thank you for all your wisdom!!

  26. Image for Sandy Sandy

    I love, love, love your decorating style. Where can I find the print hanging over the headboard in your bedroom...the words to "Can I Have This Dance For The Rest Of My Life?" Thanks!

    1. Image for Ann C Ann C

      Look on her Shop My House, site. I’m sure you’ll find it there’s. One of my favorites too. No room big enough unfortunately.

  27. Image for Joy Pinkerton Joy Pinkerton

    Love love love the blues you’re using in your home! They look amazing!! Greenery and mirrors go a long way too! Enjoying your posts as always!! ;)

  28. Image for Margaret Mills Margaret Mills

    Sorry, Karianne, but I couldn’t find any blue platters on the kitchen wall. Are they hard to see in a picture or did they just not show up as blue. I love your fixes for the new old house. Wish I was as talented as you, but I’ll just have to take your suggestions. Thanks for being there for us creativity-deprived folks.

  29. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    I absolutely LOVE the living room (and the other rooms) now. I love neutrals but without a little contrast and color, many times a room will look like it's been hit with a snowstorm. You have done a beautiful job. This house is shaping up to be gorgeous! It does have its own personality. But what I think you's YOUR personality. Aren't you the blond hair and red lipstick girl? ;) LOL

  30. Image for Hedy Hedy

    I do love looking at pictures of your home. It would never work for me as I love color, way more than you. I also have dogs, four of those messy creatures that I adore. I think you are incredibly talented both in design and in your writing. I think you should write a novel sometime, it would be a fun read.

  31. Image for Maureen Maureen

    You know, sometimes I move on and give other amazing blogs a chance, but I always feel like I’m missing something. There is only so much time I can spend blog hopping. I always end up back at Thistlewood. You have such a cute way of paraphrasing your life, yet you really get your decorating advice across in the sweetest and most honest way. Thanks for being you!

  32. Image for PJ PJ

    #4 made me laugh out loud! Thank you for "keeping it real." Have a fabulous weekend! The heat wave finally broke here, and I am doing the dance of joy.

  33. Image for Jenni Jenni

    Can you please tell me where you bought your over-sized dough bowl? I've been scouring the world and the internet but cannot find anything like it. Thank you!

  34. Image for Shelley Shelley

    A good friend of mine once told me "a decorating dilemma solved is always more interesting than something that was straightforward" and I've taken that to heart. Every house I've owned has had different wonderful qualities and different challenges – – you can't treat them just the same. Sometimes it is just the small things that make the difference. Love your blog,thank you for sharing.

  35. Image for FlowerLady FlowerLady

    What an inspiring post about your lovely home and lessons you have learned. I loved your comment ** There is only one you and the home you create with things that you love will be perfect. Decorate with your heart. ** Just what I needed to read. Thank you ~ FlowerLady

  36. Image for carrie carrie

    "looks like a coffin" crack me up!!!! You've already got a great base for Halloween decorating! Your house is a perfect reflection of you~ sparkly, fresh, fun and up for any challenges that come your way! Bravo!

  37. Image for Margaret Siemers Margaret Siemers

    So glad you mentioned that a house wants to be happy. A truer statement has never been said. Love the POP of blue color in your living room and the changes you made in the Kitchen. My first thought when I saw the original was too minamilest and too bland. Glad I started following your Blog.

  38. Image for Cheri Cheri

    Karianne your posts are "two-fers". You get two for the price of one. We get to enjoy a wonderful decorating tip and then a piece of humor and sincerity as well. Both guide us creatively and bring big joy to our lives. Your blog is one I race to knowing no matter what is going on on any given day, your blog will bring on the charm and simplicity that calms my soul. I can feel the warmth of your family and the coziness in each room. I feel like a child against n and I want to run from room to room and maybe even jump on a bed or two. 😳 Thank you God for gifting Karianne the ability to touch people.

  39. Image for Diane Diane

    Thank you! One of the best posts I’ve read on any blog so far. About listening to two hearts. Heart of the house and the heart/s the person living there. And that is usu the Mom slash decorator! 🤗🤗🤗

  40. Image for Shawna Shawna

    I have two big brown bottles exactly the same on my front porch for decoration. I tried posting a pic in the comments for you but no luck lol! Enjoy, its super cute with the flowers

  41. Image for Charley Charley

    What a sweet post! It made me happy & brought a tear to my eye. We all struggle every day with perfection/imperfection. Decorating is a process. The problem with getting everything done and perfect.................then you'll have to move and start all over again. It really is the constant loving it, then refiguring it, then changing it up and saying to yourself, I thought it was perfect until I saw it from a different perspective. It's why we read blogs, look at magazines/catalogs, go to model homes. It's so much fun, angst, and joy when YOU feel it's just right for you and your family.

  42. Image for Susie Susie

    My home has always had two purposes, a place for children to laugh n roughhouse, and a corner for my office, because, yes, I brought work home with me. Well, the kids grew up, as did their friends, then there were the grandbabies. Everyone moved across the state and across the country. The company downsized and I lost my job. I could almost hear my home weeping. So one by one, I emptied half of a room on the first floor, putting things out on the porch in boxes and tarping over the furniture. I sat in the empty space and asked myself what would make the space happy again. Piece by piece I brought furniture back in, leaving shelves and topspace bare. I sat in the half-room again and asked myself what feeling do I want here, a place to eat? a place to show off my treasures? a place for my computer and dabbling? It has been almost three months, and knick by knack the shelves are filling up again, the books have been thinned out and then added to, collectables have been re-purposed and displayed where once little hands would have gotten ahold of them. It has been emotionally, spiritually, physically exhausting at times. Do not underestimate the value of a good cry! My home is about memories, but it is now also about me, what is making me happy. There is a lightness and a calm, and my home told me it felt like it had just been on a spa retreat. The first floor is still not completed, I wish I would have had the money to paint, unemployment, now retirement, on a fixed income sucks. I still have things on the porch to go through, and then it is the upstairs, the kids' bedrooms, the playroom, and even the bathroom with all the tub toys and bubble baths. It gets overwhelming, though, and taking a break for a few days turns into weeks. I am new to your blog, but you seem to have the charm and the wit I am needing right now. And your coffin? Love it! Blessings to you and yours from Port Huron, Michigan.

  43. Image for Ivory Ivory

    Wow, beautiful, neat and very clean. I love the look/change you made in your dinning room, nicely done. The upside down Christmas tree hanging from your ceiling, is interesting.

  44. Image for Karen Mary Miles Karen Mary Miles

    I so agree with you about every room needing greenery (for me it's flowers when possible). All of your tips are excellent, really! Every time I come to your blog I wonder what it is that makes every room of yours look so fresh! So lovely and inspiring!

  45. Image for Joy Shanor Joy Shanor

    I have been so afraid to make mistakes in decorating that I haven't really done any decorating. I see so many beautiful rooms on Pinterest and on blogs that I love and I want to recreate those looks but then I realize that those looks won't work for my style or my home. I'm slowly figuring out what I want. I love simple but I need color. I'm getting ready to start a few painting projects and I'm nervous as all get-out but I'm pretty sure I'm seriously overthinking the process. I need to just get in there and do it!!

  46. Image for Barbara Chapman ~ French Ethereal Barbara Chapman ~ French Ethereal

    Really pretty changes, KariAnne! :) Love the blue and white rugs!!! I picked up a small one at Magnolia Market around Mother's Day when my kids came to visit and we went on a small roadtrip. It'll be back out in the fall once it begins to get cold enough for area rugs again. :) Happy decorating! Love your "new" old house, Hugs, Barb :)

  47. Image for Lynne Lynne

    Thank you for another beautiful post! I love your message to be yourself and decorate with the things that you love. The pops of blue and greenery are lovely! xo

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