how to create farmhouse style

This weekend I spoke at the Country Living Fair.

It was wonderful and glorious and full of sunshine and things that rhymed with bintage and bibby and more inspiration than a person should be allowed to take in a day.

I talked on how to decorate for a little more than a dime (please note that the title was adjusted for inflation).

And it went well.

Except for the ending.

I….well….{gulp}….well….forgot it.


I know…right?  I had this perfectly planned ending and somewhere around slide seventeen I realized I was out of time and abruptly mumbled something like, “Here’s my back porch” and awkwardly pronounced that I was finished and asked for questions.

And left my incredible, inspirational, amazing ending hanging in space.

So I thought I could make it up to my ending today and ask for a mulligan.  A do-over.  I’m going to kind of re-create the talk and add what I should have said right after slide seventeen.

Mumbling not included. 🙂

The view from here

I started with the view from my back porch.

I told them about the blog and discussed why I started a blog and explained all about blogging and oddly spent five minutes encouraging the entire audience to start a blog even though they had come to hear about decorating on little more than a dime.

Chasing rabbits while I talk.

My specialty.

living room

Then I led the audience through the house.

Room by room.

And I pointed out a project in each room that was free or almost free.

how to make a linen scrap pillow

In the living room, I talked about removing wallpaper.

And making this linen scrap pillow.

You can see the entire DIY here.

Front Entry Way

Next stop, the front entry way.

The project for this room was adding architectural pieces to the wall that you found on the side of the road.

Every cast-off has a story.

Sometimes someone else’s trash is your treasure.

Family Room

Pom pom pillow

Next stop, the family room.

I suggested making a pillow out of drop cloth and adding pom poms.

You can see the DIY for this project here.


Recipe Wall

Next stop, the kitchen.

I talked about the recipe wall and how we made the plate rack and added the recipe.

DIY for the project found here.


DIY Bath Caddy

Next stop, the bathroom.

We talked about claw foot tubs and sinks from yard sales and making this DIY bath caddy out of a piece of wood.

DIY for the project found here.


decorating with white ware

Next stop, the bedroom.

I talked about painting plywood sub floors and making drop cloth drapes and seagrass rugs (I oddly spent literally about five minutes just discussing seagrass rugs).

And I ended with how to find milk glass at yard sales and decorate with it.

Front Porch

And then I got to this slide.

My front porch.

And that’s where the awkward, mumbling, see-you-later-it’s-been-nice-knowing-you-please-subscribe-to-my-blog-by-e-mail-and-do-you-have-any-questions entered into the picture.

So here’s my mulligan.

Here’s what my ending and I really wanted to say.


Your home is yours.


Every brick.  Every room.  Every space.  Every window and door and floor and counter top and cabinet and empty wall.

And the most wonderful, incredible, amazing thing you can do for your home….

…is love it.

And fill it with things that you love.

And people and family and friends that you love.

wooden bowl with flowers

If you like color and pink flamingos, fill it to the brim with that.

If you like soft pinks and lace and chippy frames and cups that don’t match….let them fill up your spaces.

If you like gold and maroon and disco balls, go ahead….decorate with it and make it yours.

If you like burlap.

Or cow bells.

Or chalkboards.

Or pillows that squeak when you squeeze them.

Embrace it all even if the magazines or blogs or fancy decorator’s or the decorating television shows or random speakers that forget endings tell you otherwise.

Because when you fill your rooms and your spaces and your windows and doors and floors and counter tops and cabinets and empty walls with your heart….

….your house truly becomes a home.

PS  Thanks for listening to my mulligan. 🙂


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


  1. Image for Nancy @ slightly Coastal Nancy @ slightly Coastal

    I love that ending! It's so true. It can be really hard to keep on track with the things you love, especially if you love lots of different things. I had to create a design manifesto I keep referring back to, reminding me of what it is I really, really, love because I like so many things. Thanks for the reminder that it takes all types to make the world go 'round. Wish I could have been there for your talk...I would have bought you a cup of coffee afterward and told you it was great. Nancy

  2. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Perfect ending ! So true too. I think what is refreshing now, is a wall that is not the perfect grey.. In other words... Something different than the current mags. Be yourself ! Draw inspiration, but be you... Like you have done with your lovely home. And a little red lipstick goes a long way

  3. Image for Tamra Brayer Tamra Brayer

    Perfect ending! I personally love do overs and wish I could do them more often! I'm sure your audience was so over awed by your presentation and all the beautiful things you've done and already planning in their mind's eye how they could incorporate into their own home...that they didn't even notice your ending. I'm sure of it!

  4. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    Speaking at the Country Living, what fun! Not to mention a great opportunity!! I LOVED the ending...and so true! We get bogged down following all of the latest trends and the advice of so many different people, and we really should just concentrate on filling it with the things that speak to us, and most of all filling it with love!! Thank you for sharing your "Mulligan".... Happy Monday!!

  5. Image for Michelle Rudis Michelle Rudis

    Best Mulligan I ever heard...I mean read! Love, love, love all the photos and the concept of making your house your own. Best decorating advice ever!

  6. Image for sandi angel sandi angel

    You are just the coolest lady out there and I couldn't agree with you more on your ending. Fill your home with "You." I love the way I decorate but I've had friends come in and say "where do my eyes go--there's too much." But what they don't understand is that my home is filled with everything I love--it 'HUGS' me when I walk in. I have memories from my children, pieces my grandparents owned, furniture that sat in my mom's kitchen and little treasures I've added myself over the years. I don't care what people say and once they come in and sit a while they always leave saying that my house felt so homey. Isn't that the main thing about one's home--that it 'Hugs' you when you walk in and makes you feel welcomed--and everyone else?

    1. Image for Cindy in Oklahoma Cindy in Oklahoma

      I never thought of it that way, sandi.... and you're so right. I have a small piece of muslin material mounted in a large black frame in a gallery of family photos in our front hall which says, "I live for those that love me, for those whose hearts are true, for the heavens that shine above me and for the good that I can do." It's written or possibly copied and signed by my grandmother. Above this and the photos is an old piece of chippy wood with rusty letters spelling out the word "Blessed". Now, because of you, I will from this day forward think of it as my wall of hugs!

  7. Image for cindy cindy

    I can almost guarantee that most, if not everyone, didn't even realize that you forgot your ending:) They were probably way to busy drooling over your incredible home and mad decorating skills! I liked your mulligan;)

  8. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    That was really great and I bet everyone enjoyed it. You did a wonderful demo and great ideas mingled in which I love. Always good to take away with some ideas for your own home. You have a beautiful home and I can't imagine you have kids with a home like that. Must be well behaved kids that never spill anything!! Awesome…and Thanks for showing us.

  9. Image for JudiV JudiV

    Karianne, I so enjoyed seeing you, and meeting your lovely daughters. But most of all it was wonderful to meet YOU! I must tell you, that to walk up to the stage and introduce myself to you was a monumental task for me - an introvert who is slowly learning to step outside of her comfort zone. I believe it was a Better Homes and Gardens article that featured you, that led me to your blog, and I've been reading it ever since! Judi

  10. Image for P C P C

    Great ending. I wish I could have been at the CL Fair this year. Professional instructor hint: for slides and time, use known music times to space for time. It took me forever to get some lectures right on time.

  11. Image for Linda Linda

    This is why I keep reading your blog: your openness, your honesty, and your ability to make us feel connected regardless where we live or where we are in our various lives. Plus, you almost always put a gentle smile on our faces as well as a warmth in our hearts. I appreciate how you "spread the love."

  12. Image for Tosha Schiffli Tosha Schiffli

    I love this article. I've struggled with decorating my own home with things I loved, not trends. That's especially difficult for me as a blogger. When everyone else's house is grey and you like almost feels like a death sentence. Recently, I almost caved and my 15 year old looked at me and asked: " hate grey. We all do. We love the yellow! Why would you do that?" I was embarrassed that my 15 year old had to call me out. I am so glad you shared the end of you talk. It's perfect and just what I needed!!!

  13. Image for Jen @ Noting Grace Jen @ Noting Grace

    KariAnne, This was just lovely! I feel like I've just watched to bonus reel of my favorite DVD I just got. I absolutely loved seeing you speak, seeing another momma like me who will fawn over their babies in front of complete strangers, another blogger who is real, tangible, encouraging and honest. This last bit of encouragement is just what I needed to hear. The perfect Mulligan ending! Thank you for sharing your sweet passion with all of us. It truly made my weekend!! Jen

  14. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    You were such fun, I don't think anyone felt they had missed a thing! Your "mulligan" however, is great advice. Our homes should reflect who WE are and what We love.

  15. Image for Ginger in Texas Ginger in Texas

    Karianne, Next time, start out with the ending "mulligan" ;-) I would have loved to hear your talk, every last detail! Thanks for sharing your pics and outline!! Still lovin' your blog. Meeting you in person multiplied my love for it. Just like a house is made a home by adding things you love, your blog is made better by knowing the person behind it. Sorry to have missed you at the McKinney quilt shop this month; it slipped my calendar. Perhaps another time and place! Blessings, Ginger

  16. Image for Toni Toni

    PERFECT MULLIGAN! I have a feeling those same people will find their way to your blog and hear this mulligan! I 2000% agree......we should not be slaves to decorating trends, decorators or even blogs. Thanks.

  17. Image for jae jae

    The perfect ending, no matter where you delivered it! (Glad it was here so I could read it :) !) You are spot on about doing what you love. My house is not spotless, and will never be in a magazine, but it embraces us, and I smile every time I pull into the driveway.......

  18. Image for Amy W. Amy W.

    Isn't everything you said the Soul Truth? For Sure! We are so barraged everyday with magazines and shows on how to decorate with this and that....and what to change... how this is old...and now what's new..... when all we really need to focus what you stated. Decorate with what you LOVE! Thanks for helping us all to be grounded in the sense of our selves and walks of life! You're the best!!! :)

  19. Image for Heidi Heidi

    I was lucky enough to be in the front row, trust me we were so busy laughing and writing notes on the best gray paint ever we thought you were awesome!! Y'all need to hear the story of the sand bags and table from England, it was hilarious!

  20. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    I just know your were wonderful. I'm sure no one even heard the mumbling. I know this because it's the same reason everybody loves you. Everybody. You're adorable. You're hilarious. You're talented. But most of all you're genuine. You are always you. Regardless if you're at a blog conference, eating lunch with friends, telling a story, or speaking at a big country fair. Next time they just need to tack on a few minutes... so you can be you a little longer.

  21. Image for Joanna Joanna

    I wish I was there for the presentation. I'm sure it was informative and entertaining. We're our own worse critics. I can't find the link for the drop cloth curtains and would like to make some for my master bedroom. Can you direct me, please?

  22. Image for Peggy Peggy

    I love do overs! They are a great way to start the week. Secretly, my house wants to be your house when it grows up.

  23. Image for Julie K. Julie K.

    Well that is a great "Mulligan". But I was at the Country Living show, and I thought you did a fantastic job! I laughed, and clapped and wrote notes so I would not forget what you said. And was thrilled to meet you (and take a selfie) and meet your girls. This morning I was telling my parents the story how you found your farm table at the yard sale and we all laughed, even though I'm certain I left out some of the details. My mom & I read your blog faithfully and talk about you like you are family member. We are your people, Thanks for making our days brighter!

  24. Image for Charlene Charlene

    I was at the Country Living Fair with Heidi that replied above. The second half of the "we thought you were awesome!!" Absolutely loved seeing you and it was a great capper to our girls' weekend without kiddoes and husbands. You gave us a load of inspiration and made me feel so much better about sneaking around trash picking in my neighborhood. I come by it honestly though because my dad has been embarrassing my mom for years doing it. Yay dad!!! No one could believe my "envy of the neighborhood" metallic teal banana seat bike with leopard seat was picked from the trash by my dad. (it was the 70's) Loved the mulligan and so happy I could experience both versions of your ending! Thanks for inspiring us :)

  25. Image for TwoPlusCute TwoPlusCute

    I am glad I had the chance to read your mulligan. It was the perfect closing for your speech. You know I wholeheartedly agree with personalizing a house to make it our own and a home. :)

  26. Image for Chris Chris

    Beautiful ending that didn’t get said. BUT you did give them your blog address, so they get to read it here. Which adds to the talk they already heard and provides a beautiful welcome for them onto your blog. So it changes from a lost “ending” to a wonderful new “beginning”. I’m glad for your mulligan because we all got to hear it now. Well said. It’s a keeper for your next talk. Or all of them.

  27. Image for june june

    Love it! You may not have had the chance to share your original ending but I'm guessing those in attendance were so inspired by your healthy glowing energy they all went home and subscribed to your blog. So...they not only got to hear a bit of your original program again, but could hear another ending. I say "hear" because your words always are written as if I/We are sitting in a comfy chair on your porch right there with you.

  28. Image for Rebecca Parker Rebecca Parker

    Girl, no need to apologize...I was there and you were AMAZING! You are a hoot and all who saw you loved it! I know exactly why you spent five minutes talking about blogging.....because I needed to hear it! I had all but given up being able to see the speakers I wanted to because my daughter and husband had other ideas! I just happened to be close to the stage when you started speaking about blogging .....literally stopped dead in my tracks and told them they could go on....I wasn't leaving until I spoke to you. You were very gracious even though so many others were waiting as well. Thank you for listening to me and the encouragement you gave. I'm a new follower of Thistlewood Farms but already a huge fan! Keep it up, girl....mulligans and all! Blessings Becky

  29. Image for PJ PJ

    I love your message about owning your style and loving your home. This old farmhouse of mine needs more work than any house I have lived in, and this is my 10th home. Yet I have never felt more at home in a space. Now if only my broken wrist would heal (there may have been wallpaper involved in my injury!) so that I can get back to my projects. Each day I look forward to your posts which bring me smiles and the occasional emotional tear. You, my dear, are a treasure!

  30. Image for Donnie Donnie

    Smashing ending! You'll get another chance. And, you are so right. I have lots of things and almost all of them are a memory and make me smile or sigh. Great job - wish you were in Florida!!!

  31. Image for Karina Karina

    I just want to tell you how much I love your posts!!! I look forward to opening my emails from you every day! Such great ideas, such great photography, such a beautiful home!!! I keep missing you on Talk of the Town!!

  32. Image for Ann C Ann C

    Your topic and your skills tied everything together. I find reading blogs makes me question what I like because I like everyone's homes. But your closure nailed it for me. Thank you!

  33. Image for Clare Brennan Clare Brennan

    I love the way you write, no matter what you say as it feels like we are having a conversation not reading a blog. I can take a moment just before I go to bed to check in or right after breakfast with my husband with coffee in hand. I have shared your site with many of my friends who like us, love making the most out of what we have and cherishing our good fortune's not about money (although that helps) it is about love of life in our space. You make each person who loves making a home enough to join your discussion, feel complete in so many ways.. This is a quote that I read somewhere and wrote it down for my studio............................."she woke up every morning with the option of being anyone she wished, how beautful it was that she always chose herself". - tyler Kent White. This spoke to me and I share it with you as I think you would appreciate it too. Thank You.

  34. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    Look at these comments - proof you did a great jon. Awesome. Tell me how to make drop cloth drapes? Please. Also on the rolling cheese board how thick was the butcher block? Other dimensions? Love your entry way and recipe wall. Waiting for your next post!!!!!

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      The butcher block was just over 1 1/4" thick. It's also 18"long x 14" wide. And drop cloth drapes? All I do is purchase the drop cloth from the home improvement store and use clips to clip onto the top of them and then I hang them on a curtain rod. That's it! You can hem them if they are too long. :) Hope this helps! karianne

  35. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Love, love, love this post. Your pictures are beautiful but your mulligan? Profound! Here's to loving our homes and making them uniquely ours! Bravo!!

  36. Image for Sheila Irwin Sheila Irwin

    Wow, that is such a nice ending! The perfect "Mulligan." I love not only what you said, but how you said it. And can I say how BEAUTIFUL your house is! Every. single. space. I've been following you on IG for awhile now, and I've loved your spaces, but it's so different seeing all of it at once, and bigger! You have done an amazing job. And I am so glad that I decided to pop over to your blog now, too! Sheila

  37. Image for Judy Judy

    Your home is stunning - my heart does hand stands at the bright, welcoming space you call home. Thank you for the inspiration.

  38. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    Great advice! Buy what you love, and decorate with it...and get it for free if you can. (My synopsis) People tend to do that anyway, I think, but they don't always know what to do with it after the fact, or how to pull together a look. You have a gift KariAnne...of energy, of thinking outside the box, of artistry, and humor. Keep rocking the great ideas, and sharing them with us!

  39. Image for Kris Kris

    As someone who never forgets the point I meant to make in conversation, I can't relate. ;) My mom and I were having a similar conversation this morning--it's sooo easy to get caught up in trends. When I make a major purchase (kitchen cabinetry ... ) I try to think "but will I still love this in 15 years or will I think, 'oh, that's so 2016?'". If you have a link for removing wallpaper on your blog, can you share it with me? Thanks!

  40. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Perfect ending and a round of applause from Ohio...I'm sure with all the great info no one even realized you missed the ending. What I am missing is more pictures of your front porch, I searched your home tour and couldn't find any. Would love to see more front porch pictures to go along with your sweet Mulligan! You are a great writer!

  41. Image for Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

    I've done a fair amount of public speaking , and I've done that, too. I was pressed for time and forgot my ending. But the worst was when I spilled the glass of water they gave me, right in front of everyone. I wish I could say I only did it once. But I did it twice! Two different speaking engagements in a row, in fact. That's always embarrassing. I like your ending. It's wonderful! We all have different tastes, and I think it's so interesting to see what people truly love, rather than to see them just following something because it's the current trend. Your comment about flamingos reminded me of someone. She loves flamingos and said she had a yard full of plastic ones, plus all kinds of flamingos inside. It made her happy. Just telling about it had her grinning from ear to ear. If we can all feel that way about our own likes, and own them, we're going to be happier in our homes.

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