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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

learn more about ME + MY BIZ

Next month, Jess and I have the privilege of speaking at The Blue Conference hosted by Fairfax Community Church.

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We love the mission of this conference and are so excited about speaking and even more so, about attending the rest of the conference!  Here’s a peek at the mission of BLUE.

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We spoke with the Senior Pastor of Fairfax CC last week and we loved hearing about the church’s passion to break down the divide between church and the rest of our life (including our vocation- whether it be work or SAHM). 99% of our time isn’t spent within the walls of our churches, so we need to focus more on how to be exceptional and cutting edge in all we do outside those church walls, while still continuing God’s mission for us to spread the word and live out the gospel.  We’re pretty stoked about it for sure!

We’re going to be speaking on the topic of “Home as Retreat vs. Home as Community.”  We’ve come to the conclusion that we feel our homes should be used as both Retreat (get away from the craziness of life, rejuvenate, refuel, etc…) and Community (a place to bring people together, invest in people’s lives), but often times it’s one or the other or neither.   As we’re getting ready for the conference and planning our presentation, we thought we’d ask our closest pals… YOU GUYS!

So, if you have a minute or two and wouldn’t mind sharing your thoughts on any or all the the questions below (answer in the comments section) we’d really appreciate it and it would give us a good idea on how the masses are feeling about a few topics.

Question 2

Question 3

Questions 4

Questons 1

We’ll be sure to fill you in more about our findings and share more about our experience at The Blue Conference, but for now, we’re just excited to be stoping and thinking about this issue in our own lives.  As DIY home bloggers we want to make sure it’s never just about the pretty- and so much more about growing in our relationships as a family, with God, and with others!

Thanks for your help friends!!

The comments +

  1. Dawn says:

    1. I do feel my house is good enough. It’s beautiful, spacious, everything I dreamed about having when I was a little girl.
    2. I don’t feel it’s a restful retreat because I don’t keep it tidy. There is always STUFF laying around. It’s not hoarder messy, but untidy and it really creates an uneasiness inside me.
    3. I believe they would because I’m a decent cook. But I believe it could be more cozy, thus welcoming.
    4. Time. Especially lately my husband has been getting home later from work, I have not been as planned for dinner and therefore don’t plan ahead for dinner guests.

  2. Rebecca says:

    As a new homeowner who has done A LOT of renovations, no, I don’t think my house is good enough. But I think this is mostly because it’s not done yet. Our office still hasn’t been touched, no flooring, no paint (paint peeling off actually), and parts of the wall missing due to water damage repair. We call it the Wreck Room. Also, when I first bought the house, my family and friends were so excited to come by and see it and none could keep their disappointment to themselves. Everyone hated it, no one could see the potential that I saw. I’m worried now that they’ll still hate it, even with all my changes and personal touches.
    Parts of my home NOW feel like a restful retreat. My goal was to create a comfortable and inviting place. We have lots of seating and have nice, warm, neutral colors throughout but many of the walls are still empty. The bedroom still only has a bed and a simple side table. Nothing else. So it’s not quite there yet, I still have a lot of work to do but my design sense isn’t the best.
    I would say people would think it was welcoming and hospitable. The open floor plan and effort we’ve put into making the main living area inviting is definitely starting to show.
    I bought the house with entertaining in mind. The open floor plan and large entry is perfect for large groups of people. We even have two dining room tables to accommodate a large group. But, our kitchen is small and no renovations have been made there yet due to the budget being blown on the rest of the house. And the house just isn’t completely dinner party ready yet, unfortunately. We did invite 6-10 people over a few weeks ago for dinner and games and only 2 people came. That’s another problem. I’m afraid we’ll get no’s so often that we’ll just stop asking people.

  3. Tiffany says:

    I absolutely struggle with feeling like my house isn’t good enough. I think a main reason for that is the lack of decor and furnishings to accommodate and provide the atmosphere I want for our family and people who come over. Comparing it to others’ homes plays a role too. With being pregnant and having a 2 yr old and almost 4 yr old, I still have not figured out how to maintain my home the way I want to so bad. I think the reason it does not feel like a retreat or restful is because it needs to be clean and cozy and in order to keep it clean, its a full time all day job. Being on such a strict budget, the bare walls and lack of furnishings definitely keeps it from feeling cozy like I desire. As long as I can plan ahead, I think people who stay with us would say its hospitable or welcoming, but probably wouldn’t be the case if I’m not deliberately prepared and I so want to change that and often be prepared for any opportunity that may arise. Sometimes feeling a lack of kitchen/dining space prevents me from inviting people for dinner or other insecurities related to expectations or whatnot. I think its so easy for women to get into comparison mode which can be so detrimental to what God wants for us or to do in and through us. I definitely have been on a mission with a strong desire to do what I need to change these answers making my home a place for retreat and community!

  4. Donna says:

    We live in a rented home, in a lovely historic neighborhood. The house is nice, with lots of charming features like glass doorknobs, leaded glass windows, & beautiful woodwork. It has french doors into the dining room, and nice wood flooring everywhere. It has a decent kitchen, and plenty of space for our family but we have only 4 chairs and a small table for the dining room, so there’s no space to seat guests if we invited anyone for dinner. And we only have very basic dinnerware! Hope this answered at least something in the questions! 🙂

  5. Renee says:

    My house is small, and more crowded since 2 people and 2 dogs moved back home. Everything is messier and not what I am used to. I have to let things go more which isn’t in my nature. It isn’t really restful as we have to deal with a disabled grown child. It is rarely peaceful. My backyard is where I try to go for peace. With the added 2 dogs with our 2, plus the barking neighbor dogs it can get noisy. I don’t invite people over. I’mtoo uneasy that people will see my house the way I see it…messy, dirty.
    Our son, daughter-in-law come over to eat, but relaxing in the family room is hard. My BFF comes to visit once a year. I love it when she comes…no judging. I keep trying to change things up around the house and put the things that don’t fit in the garage, but it has become a storage unit. I just have to be content with what I can do, then get it done. Then I think it will show on my face. I pray for release daily of my anxiety.

  6. Oliva Jones says:

    This post speaks to me because it is something that I am really tackling this year. Trying to make our home comfortable for guests and our small family. In the past, I have always decorated to make our small home more comfortable large gatherings or parties. Since we had our son, we don’t entertain nearly as much as we used to. So I’m in the process of making our living spaces more comfortable for everyday living. (For example we had way too big of a dining table, seated 12 and our dining room is tiny. I was always pushing it against the wall just so we could walk through the room more easily. I purchased a 48″ round table with a hidden butterfly leaf that seats 4-6 off craigslist and I can pull out our extra 6′ folding table to put in the living room when we need more seating. My dining room feels so much better. We also have way to much seating (extra chairs) in our living room that rarely get used, etc.)

    1. Yes. I’ve been guilty of thinking that it is too small for us. I have been praying about it for a while, Because we have had the bug to move for the past year. I feel like God has been telling me to focus on how much of a blessing my home is, & to be happy with what I have, so I am working on making it right for us, instead of looking at other home wishing they were mine.

    2. Sometimes. My master bedroom feels like a retreat. It defintely could use some relaxing art or a relaxing color on the walls (it’s taupe.) I want like sitting a nice spa blue or something. My living room looks pretty, but not somewhere I would want to curl up and take a nap while reading a book. I am working on that. And family room in the basement, well I don’t want to be down there unless I am looking at the tv.

    3. I would hope so. I always offer a drink, something to eat or a snack, and place to sit. As long as they don’t mind my clutter, they should feel right at home!

    4. House is too messy/cluttered/unorganized. You get the message. I need a better system at keeping my home clean enough for company, all the time. It’s small (1250 sq ft) and it’s hard finding a place for everything. Oh, and not having a clue what were are going to have for dinner might also prevent me from inviting someone over!

  7. Deb says:

    1. YES! I feel like my house isn’t good enough. 🙁 I have three kids, two large dogs, and my house needs a new kitchen floor, new carpet, furniture, whine, whine, whine…

    2. Restful retreat? My house is usually quite loud, but my Mom tells me that someday I will miss the kids running about, the dogs barking, the chaos of a mothers life.

    3. Welcoming, yes, as long as they don’t mind the mess. I try to be tidy like the other ladies stated, but seems like every horizontal surface in my kitchen has stuff set on it. Plus our kitchen table is old, our hand me down sofas and chairs are not so comfy. I long to have a home that is warm and cozy feeling. And maybe have one cohesive look about the place.

    4. Dinner around our home is usually just the kids and I. My husband works so late, we eat, do our evening stuff, head to bed, and hubby is still at the office. I am a decent cook, and I love to feed people. Weekends tend to be crazy and they fly by before I know it. Sundays are the best time for get togethers. Oh, matching kitchen chairs might help me feel better about serving others too. We usually have to drag out the folding chairs if we have more than our family at the table.

    These all sound so superficial, but they are honest on how I feel.

    • Caryn says:

      Deb! Thank you! I just began reading replies seeking somebody who felt just like me. I found you! YES! I feel like my house isn’t good enough. 3 kids here too. My mom tells me the same thing. Always welcoming if you can pardon the mess. Dinner guests scare me. What if they judge me by my home? {gasp} I’m never open for ‘drop in guests’ and I terrorize my family in an attempt to get things prepared for guests if we do invite. It’s a struggle with me trying to ‘hide’ my real life and wondering why I would do that with my real friends {who I would never judge on their home} who probably don’t care any more than I would care at their house. 🙂 Thanks for being real!

  8. Sarah says:

    1. Sometimes I am embarrassed of my house. Sometimes because it is a lot nicer than what some of my other friends have. Sometimes because it is not at all my “dream house” and my friends with two incomes have some really, really, really nice houses. Sometimes because it smells (four kids–one w/special needs who took 3 years to toilet train… we finally bought a carpet shampooer, but the couch will never be the same!).
    2. My house feels like a restful retreat because I have worked to make it that for our family, friends, neighbors, etc.
    3. I think they would say welcoming and hospitable. I think my husband is very welcoming (not my biggest strength, I’m shy until you get to know me) and I am very hospitable (I love having people over).
    4. Child with special needs needs constant monitoring when we have people over. Sometimes I feel so discouraged over his behavior that I just think people would rather not come over so I don’t invite them.

    Hospitality has been something that I have thought a lot about. More and more I think about being a good steward of what God has given me. My husband called me from a gas station once wanting to bring home some Dutch tourists for the night that he had just met (it was the middle of winter and the heater in their caravan had just died). Some of my thoughts were, “They might rob us!” “They might kill us!” but then I realized that the very things God had blessed us with (our house/life) were the very things that I was tempted to use as an excuse not to bless others. We ended up having them and it was great. The next morning we all had a good laugh that they too had been worried that we would rob and kill them!
    Growing up if we ever had another family over for dinner we had to do an all out, massive, all day cleaning overhaul of the house followed by the preparation of a feast. That is the model that was in my head for a very, very long time. I think it has taken the isolation of stay-at-home motherhood to make me realize how desperate I am for community, friends, fellowship–people! I could care less what a persons house looked like or what was served me (frozen pizza for dinner is fine! Mac-and-cheese from a box with hot dogs–great! In fact, my kids will actually eat those things!) I just want to see another grown up. I figured if I felt that way, surely others must who won’t care what my house looks (or smells) like or what I feed them. We are here to care about people and we should be using what God has blessed us with to do it (no matter how big, small, clean or smelly that might be).
    I could go on and on!
    I hope things go well for you at your conference.
    God bless,
    Sarah

  9. I feel all the time like my home is not good enough. Because we’re DIYers and sort-of house flippers, there are always unfinished rooms. Like our guest bathroom. Ummm…that’s a problem area. It’s on the plan to redo, but it is where people go to the bathroom when visiting. And seriously, every time we’re having people over, I have to conquer the fear of them seeing that bathroom all over again. My home actually does feel restful and relaxing to me. The main areas we’ve made a lot of progress on and just love being in. They reflect us! It’s pretty ironic actually…I am so thankful for our renovating souls and wouldn’t have it any other way, but the projects, sawdust, and unfinished rooms often get in the way of having people over. Man, I need to work on this!

  10. Penny says:

    About five years ago, I realized that we were not entertaining friends, just family, because our house was just that- a house. It didn’t really reflect us or our passions or interests or what was most important to us. So, with the help of my dear sister (who sadly died suddenly part-way through the process) and my good, good friend, I set about creating a “retreat” and a “center,” a home in other words. My first step was to purge and I mean PURGE! My sister was great at this! We got rid of anything I didn’t think was beautiful or that we weren’t really using, which left a lot of space.

    Then, came the hard and fun part- deciding with my husband what we cared most about, what our passions were, our interests, our dreams, etc. After that, creating a space that truly reflected us as a family and as individuals was almost easy. I (because my husband defers all things aesthetic to me) chose colors I wanted to surround us. Then, my friend who has a fantastic eye helped me create walls that truly tell our stories. Little by little I could see our place turn into a retreat and a place to which I want people to come and be together.

    I don’t worry about whether our home is good enough because it’s OUR home. It feels warm and welcoming and safe and vibrant to me and I hope people will see US in it. I also hope visitors will feel the love we have for each other and the world and will feel well cared for when they come. That’s good enough for me.

    Now, we bring all kinds of people together. We may be squeezed in (I’d LOVE to make that farm table) but it feels warm and intimate and loving. What more could I ask for from my home?

    • Monica says:

      Thanks for sharing Penny! I think a purge is a great first step! We have so much crap that we don’t need when we really think about it! Your sharing will be really helpful for our conference talk. THANKS!!

  11. Corrie says:

    There are times when I think our100 yo house isn’t good enough. It is always messy. There are 6 of us – 2 yo, 3 yo, 5 yo and 7yo plus parents. We homeschool too, which takes a lot of space . However, we have found that people don’t come to our house to admire the furnishings or paint, but rather to spend time with us. We try to invite all sorts of people over, but the ones I really struggle with are those with allergies. I don’t want to get them sick. At one point when I was worried about inviting people over because of the mess, I heard of something called “the ministry of the mess.” Basically, the idea is to make your space comfortable and have a relaxed family, not to pretend you’re perfect.

    • Monica says:

      Corrie- Thanks for sharing and being open and honest! Yes, allergies is a huge thing to think about too! I actually totally gave a kid a peanut brownie a week ago and he was puking for like 5 hours! UGH! In my defense I had no idea he was allergic and he was 16 yrs old and just forgot to ask (he said he usually always does) but I think it ruined me! No more nuts in my brownies! lol.

  12. Theresa says:

    I love my home it has a few quirks but they are just challenges yet to be faced. It is a good size and has lots of bathroom which is important when you have a good size family. It also has a large yard to play in.
    The restful part changes depending on how tidy the house stays some days it is peaceful, other days its over ran with children and their treasures. I choose to make my bedroom a retreat and try to make this a special place for my husband and I. We can control this room with little effort. I have worked hard on my habits, not to let it be a collecting place.
    I hope that people would feel welcome in my home. I try to remember when people visit and things are not perfect that letting them know that I am human and my house is not clean all the time is ok. I also feel that if the bathrooms are clean and the toys are picked up and the food it good I don’t have to worry to much.
    Space is an issue for me. I already have a large family and to invite others over in the winter we are just to cramped. But in the warmer months we do more dinners and meals outside with friends and neighbors. In fact I am working on a patio/shade area project for this summer so we can enjoy our out door dinning a little more. I am thinking of using your cool cinder brick bar for part of it.
    Hope this helps good luck with the BLUE Conference.

  13. Mindy says:

    1. We are renting. Some aspects of our house are beautiful, and some are not. Because we are renting and planning on moving soon and are super busy and have no money, we don’t bother to fix what we don’t like. So some parts of my home are nice, some are really not.
    2. My home is not retreat because I am in school with two little kids and have to do homework ALL THE TIME.
    3. Yes.
    4. We have people over for Sabbath/Saturday lunch. I don’t invite people over the week because as mention above I am always doing homework (when I am not reading DIY blogs.)

  14. What prevents me from having people over: either the power tools on the couch or the fact that the dining room chairs are stacked on top of each other in the living room. Would make for an awkwardly intimate meal (of delivery pizza, since I refuse to cook an actual meal until the kitchen is finished!).

    CAN’T WAIT until the kitchen is finished, and then the dining room, and then I get my living room back. One big decorating snowball.

  15. […] comfortable welcoming experience and still having a bit of style.    Jess and I spoke at a conference last spring all about the way in which you use your home- it’s actually a topic I think […]

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