My Top 5 Discoveries for 2023 and How They Can Affect Home Design

Throughout each year, we all learn many things as we go through life. This year I had numerous A-HA moments as I navigated through all the things that were happening. I’d like to share with you my top 5 discoveries for 2023 and how they can affect home design.

Let me first say, that they were reminders, because nothing is ever brand new, even though they felt like discoveries. We’ve all heard it before, right? Are we really learning in our old(er) age? I hope so! At least, that is something I have learned from my (now) 92 year-old father. He said to “always continue learning”. And although there may be things we have heard before, sometimes we are not in the mindset to actually LEARN from them at that particular time.

mix and match furniture

This year, as I watched and waited for the time that my dying mother would pass, my heart and mind opened to a few things I have heard before, but needed to be reminded of. Here are my top 5 reminders from this year:

Reminder one: Trust your instincts

I feel like this is one that we are constantly in need of a reminder. There are so many ways that we doubt ourselves, and then when we are not feeling confident, you know what happens? We follow the pack. Or, for me, I just shut down.

Trusting yourself and your likes opens you up to new discoveries. It also allows you to live more authentically.

For example, back in April, I was craving a snack one evening. My husband was digging in the freezer, handing me a fave Costco purchased 100 calorie fudge bar. I was also staring into the fridge looking for something. With a fudge bar in one hand, ready to close the fridge door, something caught my eye. It was Cool Whip.

My brain did one of those “two electric forces crossing” (think Ghostbusters 80’s style) and an idea came to me. I love these soft fudge bars, and I love a Cool Whip topping, why not combine the two? So I did!

cresting something you love

Who doesn’t love pudding with whipped topping? This seemed like a close enough pair, and indeed it was! I rolled my bar right into the container, coating every last corner, and took a bite into my new invention. Was it delicious? YES! Was it my healthiest moment? NO! But that wasn’t really the point.

I listened to my likes and desires and came up with something new! Has anyone ever thought of this before? Maybe, I don’t really know. But even so, I hadn’t seen it anywhere. I just followed what was available, what really sounded good at that moment and came up with something original to me.

me eating ice cream

Later, I decided to share it on social media and my friend mentioned to me, “I’ve never seen that before.” She seemed surprised. Have we only gotten used to doing what everyone else is doing, like the latest Tik Tok craze? Are we only following trends?

Design application: you don’t have to follow, you can lead

This is where I flip this little reminder to design. This is where I tell you, you don’t need to follow trends. They don’t even matter. You can make them, if you want, but what really matters is that you do what YOU love. Put together the things that YOU like, the items that tell your story and make you happy, and your space will always be authentic to you.

Around this time of year, I begin seeing a lot of design articles about ‘new trends’ or ‘which trends need to go away’. If we are always chasing trends, how would we ever keep up?

You’re right, we won’t. And when we are all the same, it seems a little “Stepford Wives” to me. We are now in a time where we can all embrace our diversity, as we are all very different, and that is wonderful. Create what is right for you.

character and personalty with statement lighting

Reminder two: Lose excess weight

Don’t freak out, I’m not talking about a diet. But this year I did lose about 47,000 pounds! And it was more freeing than that time a few years back when I got down to my actual goal weight. Allow me to explain.

I have been looking to make some changes in my business the last few years. The paint side of my business could be run in a smaller space than I currently had. I no longer need to have a receiving dock for client design jobs as I made the decision to only do short client consults to focus on the blog more. And I was ready to not be hoarding so much extra vintage, I just wanted less.

Long story short, when there was a drastic increase on the rent of the large warehouse I have been in for almost 8 years, I decided it was time to downsize. I ripped off the bandaid, did a massive liquidation, and moved the paint business to a smaller location.

This year has been a lot to unpack for me emotionally (losing my mother) and I wanted to streamline and focus. The extra weight needed to be gone.

Now that it is, I can tell you, it is very freeing. My immediate thought once the dust had settled was, I need to do this to the rest of my life! And that is what I will do in 2024.

Design application: get rid of what you don’t need and live with what you love

Trust me, I’m not a minimalist at all! I am still a maximalist of sorts. But what I keep should be what I really LOVE. It should be what I need to create the life I want. Even if the life I want includes a ton of milk glass and copious amounts of vintage art.

storage cupboard for milk glass collection

Think of how you want your space to be and what you and your family need to be comfortable. Design should always be about what speaks to you, and allows you to live the life that you desire.

We have choices here. We are in charge. Any home organizer will tell you that you should only keep what you are using. But seriously, if we all did that we would only have like 7 things in our house.

Yes, we definitely could get rid of more, but not everything. But releasing what you don’t need anymore, what no longer serves your purpose, will free you to focus on what you do use and what you love.

I was recently having this conversation with a dear friend and I had to ask her, what would happen if someone came into your house and stole all this stuff or it just went away? How would you feel? You know what she said? RELIEF! She would feel relief.

gingham tablecloth for fall decor

Let’s hear that again. If it all just went away, there would be relief. Sometimes stuff is burdensome. Are we really going to sell it all? If not, then just let it go. Set goals, do them, then release the rest.

When we can move ourselves away from excess stuff, we would be left with more of what we love and actually want. And less of what bogs us down. Why are you keeping it?

Reminder three: You don’t know anyone else’s journey

Obviously losing my mother this year was a big thing. She lived to be 89. But she was only MY mother for 59 of those years, a mother to my siblings for 68 of those years, and a whole person who I really didn’t know way before that.

family portraits displayed for a home as haven

Let me just say, my mother was very predictable. She was smart and passionate, but difficult at times. Passionate people often are. And even though I knew her very well and loved her deeply, I knew her as my mother only.

As children, that is what we do. We look at our mothers as just our mom, never as the woman or girl they once were. I never really thought about understanding her life’s journey before this year.

My mother was born in the early 30s, in a mixed race family. She was one of 11 children, many of them sisters, being raised in a strict Catholic family. I can only imagine what her life was like growing up.

She liked to tell us that she was the obedient one, but my mother had a renegade spirit. That much I do know.

Over the 10 months of decline from her illness, I just wanted to focus on loving her. When I would visit her, I would immediately crawl into bed beside her and hold her hand. That’s what she liked. She was always holding my dad’s hand.

My sister would go about the housekeeping, but me being the baby, could have her attention. I could simply just listen to her. She would say the same things, over and over (Alzheimers), that I would agree with. And I would just tell her how much I loved her.

Because I do, and that’s all that mattered. There was no need to piece together why she was certain ways, or to remember outrageous things she said. Nothing else mattered anymore. There was only love and acceptance, and very little time. And hand holding.

holding hands across a table

I didn’t know her entire life’s journey, and it didn’t matter. She was my mom and I was there for her and that is all that matters to me. I don’t need to understand everything, but I can learn.

Now what does all this touchy, feely life-ending emotion possibly have to do with design? I’m so glad you asked.

Design application: get inspiration from what you see and support and respect what you don’t know

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram. Sometimes certain posts have the best comments (if you need some entertainment) but I was looking through my business account where most pictures are of beautiful rooms from fellow design lovers.

These posts are full of pretty pictures, or great craft ideas that people do. Comments are mostly encouraging, but one caught my eye. The post was about creating a space that reflects who you are, which is a concept I love to share myself, as many do. One grumpy commenter said something like “this isn’t even a new idea/concept” and I was like woah, horsey!

weird vintage art

First, if you don’t like what this person does, then why are you here? Hit unfollow and move along. And second, she wasn’t saying it was. See…reminder…nothing is new.

But I feel like people DO need to be reminded of this: you, my friend, are not here to please everyone. That is literally impossible. We all have different tastes and styles, and some people are just mean and can’t be pleased. And no one knows your journey or what you are all about.

Creating a home is very personal. Hence why you should ignore the whole trend thing. Not everything will be your style. But YOU CAN get great ideas and inspiration from something you may not like at first glance. Good design is, well, good design.

As I have stated, I personally am not a minimalist. I don’t want to live in a room that is all white, void of colors and things. But I certainly can appreciate how maybe something in that room was arranged. And I also don’t know that persons history of why they want to live in a colorless room.

simple clean design

Maybe they were raised with abuse, and confusion. And as an adult, their style comes from the control they need to keep in their life to be happy. Someone else might want to live in a red room, because that brings to mind wonderful childhood memories for them. For me, that would freak me right out. We all do things for different reasons.

We love styles because they remind us of happier times, or we avoid things we find creepy because we have a differing frame of reference. Whatever the reason, enjoy good design when you see it.

And instead of thinking ‘oh I would never live with that’, take a deeper look. Is there a good idea that can be used in your style in a different way? Is there something to learn, while forgetting the rest? My style may not be right for you, but it may still inspire you.

builtins display collections and add character

There may be inspiration found in pattern mixing, color matching, or arranging? Or maybe it can lead you into more of what you do know you love, seeing what you don’t. You don’t have to love everything, but you can learn from it.

So take in the whole of what you are seeing. Respect it, study it, and then proceed to create what moves you. But looking deeper into things we think we don’t like can be a good learning tool for our eyes. And sometimes our hearts.

Reminder four: Take your time

Look, I wasn’t the inventor of wanting things fast and now, but I subscribe to it. And then rarely, it just ain’t happening.

Earlier this year, I started a bit of a redo of our primary bedroom. I had been thinking about putting up a batten board look on the walls to cozy up the room for way too long. So one day, I went to Menards, bought all the stuff and just did it. Why did I wait so long?

But then, wait is what I did! I immediately slammed on the breaks. I meant to have that be the beginning of me finishing the room, but instead, I stopped everything. And yes, there is a paint bucket and a few tools STILL in the bedroom after 6 months.

home as a haven from the world comfortable spaces

I had a lot going on and I just decided I wasn’t ready to complete the room’s look. And while I was procrastinating, I changed my mind a few times about some decisions. Then I changed it back again. I still might switch it back. But I’m in no hurry.

Much to the dismay of my design self that says “OMG just make a freaking decision” I’m just not. Sometimes it is okay to let things marinate. I’m not planning a move from this house anytime soon (shocker for me). I am taking my time, and it is okay.

Thankfully my life is not an episode that needs to be completed in a weekend, and neither is yours. We can take as long as we need to get things right. And if we don’t (get it right that is), then we can just do it over again if we want. That’s why paint was invented.

Design application: change your mind, tweak your space, a room is never DONE

As humans, we are always evolving. Or we can hope we are. Things in our life change, and we change. Priorities get switched around and our homes should reflect that.

Don’t ever get caught up in using a room (or NOT using it) in a way that you think you have to. Like a formal dining room. If you don’t ever have big dinners, then ditch the table and use the space for how you actually live. Maybe you need a home office, or an art space, or a reading nook.

Your rooms can be whatever you want them to be, and they can look how you want them to in a timeframe that works for you. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that jazz. Take your time to figure out what you truly want.

dining area

A soulful room is not created in a weekend. Frankly, neither is a human soul. We experience, grow, and adventure along the way, and that should be seen in our rooms.

Take the time to come up with what you will love, and it will last a lot longer. When you aren’t caught up in trends, then you will be creating what is authentically you. And that is the best kind of room!

I am a work in progress, and so is our bedroom.

Reminder five: Create a happy place

I am married to a nomad. Not literally, but my husband has always traveled for business and been fine with it. Most people could not do what he has done for almost three decades. He is a rare breed. Maybe it’s cause he knows I will take care of everything here while he takes care of us doing his job. Or maybe he just really doesn’t mind sleeping in hotels, cause he can literally fall asleep anywhere!

I have often had people ask, how does he do it and not go crazy? We were talking about the concept of home once and he said, “well, you are my home, so we can be anywhere”. I could probably put that in the top 5, of cutest things he has ever said to me, but it got me thinking.

trip to Portugal

This year we traveled to many places. We also took about 47 trips back to California to visit my parents. But each time we left and came home, I was happy to return. It felt good to come back, because our home is my happy place. He might not mind a hotel, but I need our space.

It is the spot that welcomes us back in, with open arms. Surrounded by trinkets of our life journey, things we love, items I have been looking at my whole life, it is indeed a happy place. It houses memories, even though we have only lived here in this structure for over 3 years.

rooms with character and decor

All of our good memories we have brought with us here, we have added more memories, and will continue to do so over time. We have created a place for family and friends to come and be happy. And we have made a place that they can retreat to when they aren’t.

Design application: how do you want to live? how do you want to feel?

Home isn’t just a place, it is a feeling. And you must ask yourself, how do you want to live? How do you want others to feel when they are here? Then go about and reverse engineer that and make it happen.

Who lives in your home? Who visits often? Are there items you can have available to make those who enter comfortable?

crocks and stoneware for fall decor

I have 10 grandchildren. 6 of them live within frequent visiting distance. 1 of them is like a whirling dervish. He is 4 years old, and pretty much, the cutest little male human that is alive. And good thing he is the cutest. I’m guessing that is how he gets away with what he does.

But I will tell you, I want that little person to be here and feel happy too. So I hug him as tight as he will allow when he comes in the door, and then he knows he has a place to go. Thank heaven for basements!

That sweet little wrecking ball knows he can go play with the toys downstairs. Sometimes we snuggle up and read a book or watch a movie. And when he is in the rest of the house, I can lovingly remind him there are no balls or toys tossed around in Mimi’s living space.

Create rooms where people can feel comfortable. And if someone has never been to your home, your decor should tell them a bit about who you are. Surround yourself with things you love, and people will feel that happiness.

homey kitchen

Create a space that promotes peace with things that please you. Things do matter. Enliven your senses and bring all those things that make you happy into your home.

The year end feels

I always get a bit melancholy at the end of the year. Especially a year like this one. 2024 will bring many new changes, and I have several things I’m excited to share with you.

This year is turning out to be very different than I imagined. All of that is good, change is always renewing. And it is a great time to evaluate how you want your home to feel around you. Now is a great time to write down goals, make tweaks, and prepare for a new year.

I’d love to know, what lessons or reminders have you learned this year friend? Tell me in the comments.


  1. Thank you. Life always brings sooooo many more lessons to us.

  2. Beautiful and well said!! Great lessons!

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