Dining Kitchen

Episode #147: How to Design a Room with a Collected Feel

This week, we’re exploring how to decorate your home with a cozy, collected feel. We’re also chatting about pets and hobbies, so, the usual. Haha!

You can stream the episode here, on the blog, or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show notes:

The three phases of a room/house:

  1. Renovate
  2. Basic decor (furniture and art)
  3. Layers (personal touches)

Tips for adding layers: 

  1. Add a collection
  2. Add personal details
  3. Don’t buy everything from one place
  4. Add something vintage to every room

-We mention Emma’s Harry Potter-inspired house

-Watch Neil Patrick Harris’s home tour from The Architectural Digest YouTube channel

Check out Apple and Oak

How to make hobbies more joyful:

  1. Change the conclusion 
  2. Make it fun for YOU

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 147 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. This week, we’re exploring how to decorate your home with a cozy collected field. We’re also chatting about pets and hobbies. So the usual right? 

Elsie: Ah, I’m excited to talk about pets. So before we get started, I want to share this. So, last weekend, I took my kids to a kid’s performance of Frozen. It was like elementary school age children performing the musical version of Frozen. I bawled, I bawled. First of all, it wasn’t my kids in the play, it was one of their friends. Wasn’t even my kid. I remember in that moment, and by the way, I was not drunk at all, because it will sound like I was. But in that moment, I had the thought this might be the best moment of my life, or this might be the best feeling you can ever feel. It just was so intensely beautiful and magical. But yeah, it was just little kids singing. My kids were like, one of them was standing up trying to clap along. They were so into it. Yeah, it was so cute. So yeah, I hope that next year, maybe my older daughter will be interested to try out for one. She didn’t want to do this one because I told her, she probably wouldn’t get to pick the part she was. That was like too hard for her little head to get her out at six years old but now that I think she’s seen one, I think she’ll feel next time that she doesn’t want to miss out. 

Emma: It’s helpful to see it so then you can understand that all the characters matter, not just the main character. It really does. The whole thing comes together. It’s really a team effort. So anyway, but I think that’s hard to understand until you see it.

Elsie: So this week’s episode is inspired by a question we got from Candace, in our emails this week, you can email us anytime. It’s podcast@abeautifulmess.com. Okay, so her question is about adding layers to a room, what does that even mean? How do I achieve this? Look? Why is this important to a well-designed room? I love this question, starting with what does that even mean? I think it’s a great starting point because when you hear people say there’s certain design things that we say that like, what does it mean? When people say a layered style, this is what I think of it as. I think of it as like if you move into a house or an apartment, and you go to the store and you buy everything that the room quote-unquote needs. You need curtains. There’s like a spot on the wall that obviously needs art, you buy that. You buy the main essential furniture and maybe you buy like a couple of things like a throw blanket or something or a new pillows or something like that. That’s your room that is like, it’s flat. Most people, like a lot of people, that’s kind of like, they finish and they’re like, oh, I like it but I don’t love it and like why. If you aren’t a person who’s interested in design, maybe you don’t know. I remember some of my first homes in my 20s feeling that way and I didn’t really know how or why to fix it. So I just kind of was like, well, I guess I’ll just try again on my next house. But I think that part of it is that almost no one can do really layered collected feeling room, just like all in one. You have to be very, very experienced to be able to buy all that and anticipate all the layers that are going to need at once most people are going to need to collect them over time so that’s what it means to me.

Emma: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I would totally agree. I actually was gonna give an example. So if you go on our site, abeautifulmess.com and you look at my Harry Potter house, which was a short-term rental that I did in Florida. We’ve since sold it but it was such a fun project because I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. But if you look at that house and each of the room tours. I did like some of the bedrooms based off of the houses so I think there’s just slithering bedroom and there’s all sorts of things like that. I think that house was really cute and it was really fun but I put the house together in less than three weeks. I went to Florida and I was there for two and a half almost three weeks and I ordered everything in that time or went and bought it in town if I could and put it all together. It had everything it was ready to go as far as a short-term rental. It had beds, it had hangers in the closet, everything you would need to stay in the home and make coffee and whatever else, but it did not have layers. To me, it just feels like a visual, if you need an example of this that’s what I would point to. It was still really fun, I’m not dissing this house. I’m just saying like, everything was bought all in one go and it just doesn’t really have a lot of layers to it. Certainly has personality because Harry Potter themed, but it doesn’t really have all these extra touches or this kind of more collected feeling or point of view to it.

Elsie: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I remember we had some comments, some negative comments kind of like that the first time we shared the first versions of the holiday house on the blog. It’s kind of the same thing because it’s like we were setting it up, I always tell people who are doing an Airbnb space. It’s so different from moving your stuff into your next house because you start with nothing. You have to remember to buy and actually buy everything. It’s easy to get like just general spending fatigue or shopping fatigue. Either you feel like you’ve spent too much or you’re bored of shopping so you don’t want to do it anymore. It’s more work than it looks like for sure to remember everything and anticipate all of the practical. Airbnb is like you need to have a toaster, you need to have a spatula, you need to have each different type of pan, potholders, things like that, spices. Also to make your rooms look layered, it’s just more time and money. It’s just more time and money and if you put more time and money into it, you can probably do it faster. If you don’t, you won’t. I love this topic because I love tours. I love home tours. I especially have like a special place in my heart for the Architectural Digest YouTube channel. It’s my favorite YouTube channel because all the celebrity home tours. They don’t f*ck around. My favorite one of all time is Neil Patrick Harris’s home. Have I talked about this on the podcast? 

Emma: Oh, I don’t think you have. 

Elsie: Okay, I will link to his home tour thing in Architectural Digest YouTube, and you guys can just watch it. But a lot of people started sending it to me when I started getting into my hidden door obsession. He has some things like that. My favorite part, he had like, I think one of the real haunted mansion paintings in his house. He has like rich people stuff. It’s a classical, historical, New York City brownstone so it just has like, cool details. It has a wood bar and just like cool speakeasy type of vibe. He also has children, young children, so it has a lot of like childhood magic things. So anyway, that was my favorite. Honestly, there’s no bad ones. I’ve watched 20, 40, they’re all good. So I think it’s very, very fun just to see houses that feel very, very lived in where you can tell, there’s like collections and their stories. That’s why it’s not good to photograph your home right when you move in. It’s good to live in it for a while and then photograph it.

Emma: I mean, I could you could do both. I just think it’s like two different layers. I guess that’s what I would say, I don’t have as many tips as Elsie. So I’ll let you get into your tips. But I think of it as like, rooms or houses have three main phases. You could totally break these out, each of these into even more, but the three in my mind is like renovate. Not every space needs that obviously, sometimes you don’t need to renovate at all, but if you’re going to that’s like phase one. Phase two is basic decor. This is like furnishings, you need to stay there. So basically an Airbnb, if it’s a bedroom has to have a bed, right, where are you gonna sleep? It has to have some kind of bed. 

Elsie: So everything functional? 

Emma: Yeah, functional. Most of the time that means some decor is coming into the space. I wouldn’t even put in phase two, if there’s like a spot above a dresser that you just know needs a piece of art, I would still put that as kind of like in phase two with basic decor. But then phase three is the layers, is the personal touches. It’s the vintage, it’s the thing from your grandma’s house that you’ve now put into your home and found the perfect spot for it because you’ve moved it around four times already. That’s phase three, which can be a pretty long process. I think for a lot of us, for myself included, you kind of like almost want to get to this, You want to rush to it, but you can’t always. It’s meant to be kind of a process. So anyway, that’s how I think of it but there’s lots of tips for like how to do that phase three, and how to get there. I also feel like if you don’t care, if you stop it two because you don’t care about decor. That’s fine too. You have everything you need. It’s functional, but that’s what I think we’re trying to talk about with a layered look is this phase three where it starts to really show your personality or a piece of art that you chased for a couple of years, you know what I mean? It’s like those things.

Elsie: Yes. Some people bought an insane handmade mug collection during the quarantine,  things like that, right? 

Emma: Yes, yes, exactly. Or like some people have a giant graphic novel collection in their house, and it’s like, oh man, you gotta frame a couple of these and make a space for them. Whatever it is that you’re into, that kind of shows up, like your personality or the art that you like, maybe you make it maybe you just collect it, like it’s those things, those touches. 

Elsie: Let’s make that tip number one, to collect a collection. I love that. I think that there’s almost nothing more interesting in a home tour than seeing people’s collections. I love it because they’re all so different. Most of us have something that we love to collect and they can be big, they can be small. There’s just so many different ways to do it. I think it’s very interesting. For me, it’s very engaging. I have a lot of collections and they’re mostly vintage and they’re mostly inexpensive. But I also like collecting records and I guess technically, it’s like, my closet technically, things like that, you know? I don’t know. But yeah, my vintage ones are definitely my favorite, favorite favorites. Okay, so tip number two, add personal details. So I think that having the special items that you just always love and you can’t get enough of just keep collecting. So some of the things that I love collecting are old books, obviously. I have a huge old book collection. They’re so beautiful. They’re so inspiring, especially art and design books, vintage craft books, things like that. I love vintage home decor, even cookbooks. I love vintage cookbooks. I think they’re weird. They don’t have enough pictures. The recipes are crazy and I love it. Mirrors, I just like I don’t know, I have a thing with mirrors now. I kind of can’t get enough mirrors even though I know people think it’s like a ghost thing. I actually like welcome more ghosts so I don’t care. I have the mirrors facing each other. I have mirrors in my bedroom that people think that’s like bad, but I don’t because I love them. Etsy art, so I’ve just always loved shopping on Etsy. I think I always will. But to me, it’s like the best place in the world to buy art because you’re supporting a business and at the same time, I guess, maybe all art is supporting a business, now they think of it and antique sellers, I guess. Also, it’s unique. You couldn’t just find things. I guess, to me, the worst place to buy art is probably Target just because it’s stuff that a lot of people are going to have and I’m not saying it’s not cute because I sometimes see really cute art there. But I’m just saying a lot of people have it. I think that there’s a special thing to having things that other people don’t have, like something different. So, yeah, Etsy’s really great for art. Then another thing I love to have in abundance is old family photos. So I’m one of those people who find it difficult to have big photos of my family. We really don’t have hardly any big photos of us in the house. We have a little bit of a gallery of small ones. Whenever I go to someone’s house and they have a huge wedding photo love that for them but for some reason, I just can’t put one up or I don’t know where to put it. But I love the old ones so like pictures of grandma, Carina and grandma Norma and our mom’s childhood, things like that. I really like displaying those around the home. So I don’t know, whatever. I think maybe some people are just meant to have their wedding photos in a wedding album and not on the walls as much.

Emma: You’re talking about personal touches and personal preferences so it makes sense to be like, oh, I want this in my home or no, that’s not my style. I want these vintage, these old family photos. That’s great. Both are great. You don’t have to do it one way or another.

Elsie: I love the old ones, especially the weird old ones. Where it could be an art print or for us, we have this one of our uncle and his cousin and they’re dressed in matching Superman outfits from probably the early 70s. It’s just like the coolest vibe easiest photo. When we had our vintage store we used it to make tags for our store, the hanging tags that went on all the clothing. Anyway, it’s just like stuff like that is really special. Then my last one is kids’ art. So kind of like the photo thing, I don’t usually put my own art up for some reason but I love putting up like a ton of my kids’ art. I think you can like never really have too much. It’s also easy to just swap it out all the time and change it around. I think if you have a couple of extra boxes of kids art in your closet, who cares. Keep it if you want to keep it and I want to right now. 

Emma: I mean papers are pretty easy to store compared to other things.

Elsie: If you want to call it down and get this perfect minimalist, where it’s all in books and stuff, that’s cool too. But I’m not in that zone right now at all. So if you if you’re not in the zone, free hall Pass for you.

Emma: The third tip is don’t buy everything from one place. We kind of went over this a little bit, we all have like favorite stores. Then also, we all have certain budgets and so some places are just kind of beyond the budget, it’s not going to work. So you end up with kind of a smaller pool of places that you shop from and that’s totally fine too. But no matter if it’s like a budget thing or if it’s a time thing, if you get everything from one store, especially all in the same season, it’s probably all gonna match and go together. That’s great, but it’s going to feel kind of flat. So you’re going to want to add other things. So just think about that as you’re shopping.

Elsie: I think that there’s a debate about furniture sets and I think this is where it comes into play like bedroom furniture is a big one. Then also when you get your sofa, if you get matching chairs or if you get different chairs. Also if it’s an extremely styled store, like I think of Westelm, CB2, Serena and Lily, they have a style. I think stores like that, you don’t want to do your whole entire house, every single thing from those places, because it will look like a catalog of that store at a certain point. Honestly, you might like that, maybe that’s what you’re going for. Also, if you’re like me and you have that little part of you that it’s important to you to have something different, then you’ll want to put something weird in there and some pieces that are just like sourced from different places just to kind of like mix it up. I think that for people who are on a tight budget, this is actually a really encouraging tip because it’s saying that like mismatching is good. In a snobby way, it is better than matching and it is. At least I do agree with that. I don’t think having matching furniture set in your bedroom is bad at all. But I think that buying every single thing from one place will not create as interesting and exciting of a room as buying your stuff from like four different places. Even if you spent the same exact amount of money, just taking the time to source it differently and mix it up and combine different styles is probably going to make a more interesting outcome.

Emma: Yeah, and if you are on a tighter budget, or just looking to kind of customize things, so whether you’re thrifting or getting something used from a state sale, or even getting something from a place like IKEA, something that’s meant to kind of be painted, or you could distress it, or you could add fabric to part of it in some way or whatever you want, you could potentially buy everything from one place like an Ikea or whatever, but then make it feel different or more custom to your style, or the vibe you want to go for in your space.

Elsie: 100%. Yeah, that’s true. It’s not that you can’t buy everything from the same store, it’s that you don’t want to look like you bought everything from the same store so there is a difference there. 

Emma: Yes, yes, absolutely. 

Elsie: Oh, my favorite tip. Okay, and this one is so easy. I know it’s not for absolutely everyone but the tip is add something vintage to every room. I understand not everyone is into thrifting but there’s all different places. There’s fancy places you can buy vintage, there’s thrift stores, there’s a estate sales, there’s garage sales, there’s Facebook marketplace. There’s so many different ways and family heirlooms, which is my absolute favorite possession, actually, probably my top three favorite possessions are all from my grandma Carina and nothing will ever ever ever be as special as those three things that I have and I’ll never let them go. There’s no like nothing.

Emma: Yeah, Elsie already stole this beautiful portrait of our grandma and Doreen and I are just add a lot and everybody else in the family because she got it first. 

Elsie: I didn’t steal it. I left some other cool things but I did say dibs.

Emma: Oh, she left us some cool things. How generous of her to leave us some things that she was taking what was hers first.

Elsie: It’s my favorite possession and to be fair to me, I’ve had it for 10 years so I got it way, way way before she passed away because I know how to plan ahead.

Emma: No, you can have it I’m just kind of teasing. I like that it’s at your house.

Elsie: It’s hanging in my office now and I think of her as my ghost friend. I think of her as like I don’t know, like a part of my creative space. I have actually found that her energy is better with me in my office than in the family room with everyone. It’s like a whole thing. Okay, so the things I collect, I love my brass collection. Everyone knows. Right now I’m doing insects and it’s like a lot of butterflies but then there’s also these little box ones. I think they’re originally mostly ashtrays, but some of them are really small so it’s hard for me to imagine that it was used as a ashtray, maybe it was. There’s flies and there’s crickets and beetles. There’s ladybugs, there’s all different ones. They’re really fun. Then I love to collect pottery, there’s so many different kinds. I think this can actually be like a really fancy collection because some glass vintage, like blown glass and pottery, can be super expensive too. Then another thing I like to collect is my wicker lamps. I love them. Not all of them that I have are vintage, but I did stop buying new ones because I just don’t see a reason to because there’s so many cool vintage ones out there. You know what I mean? I kind of have to save room for them now. Then my last one is vintage rugs so if you’ve never heard my rug rant, welcome to our podcast, you probably haven’t been here long.

Emma: Alternative name, rug rants by Elsie and Emma.

Elsie: Rug grant, okay. I believe in this so strongly, a vintage rug, it will outlive you.  I buy mostly Moroccan rugs but also some sorry, sorry, I buy mostly Turkish rugs but also some Moroccan rugs. They’ve lived for 100 years in different people’s homes. Whenever I’m done with one, I can always find someone to either purchase it from me or to take it from me for free. So it’ll go on to its next life and they’re very, very, very easy to clean. They look amazing faded. I was just talking to Allison, our friend owns this cute little shop in East Nashville called Apple and Pak and she sells vintage rugs, and I was asking her, can you put one outside? She said, yes, you can totally put a Turkish rug outside. She’s seen people do it. You just have to be like, okay, that might fade. So I’ve been thinking that over which is interesting and different. So yeah, I really believe in them. I just think it’s good for the environment. Of all the things that you can buy that are bad that are plastic that we fret over like straws and bags and stuff like these huge rugs, they’re basically made of plastic and they don’t last. If you have pets or kids, they’ll last even a shorter amount of time for you. They’re not very easy to clean. Then they will go to landfill, honestly, they’re a better thing to be against them like a small thing. Maybe they’re both good. I think that not enough people think about synthetic rugs because they just don’t last. So anyway, there’s my rug rant. Welcome to our podcast. But also vintage rugs, they’re just so charming. You can find one in any size, like the weirdest sizes you’ve ever heard of. They’re out there on Etsy somewhere. 

Emma: Yes. Also, I like the kind of imperfection that’s of them. I’ve actually bought a number of them on eBay before. I don’t know, just the fact that they already kind of have like little holes or an edge that isn’t perfect. I don’t know, it’s something about it, I feel like it takes the pressure off. I always have a dog or two and I don’t know my house is very lived in and I don’t have any plans to change that. So I sort of like getting something where I’m like, this is beautiful and it already is kind of taking the pressure off. You know when you get a brand new piece of furniture and you just kind of have this fear of the moment when you spill something on it or something happens. Then you’re stressed and then you get over it and it’s fine. You realize it doesn’t matter things wear. I kind of liked that when you buy something used, it’s like that’s already done. You don’t even have to worry about that. It’s nice. 

Elsie: They’re surprisingly easy to clean. I always tell people a wool rug, it’s as easy as washing your own hair. You know what I mean? That’s all that it is. It’s just like give it a good bath, rinse it out, let it dry and it’s done. It’s nothing, it’s easy. It’s natural fiber so it’s totally cleanable. You could use shampoo if you wanted. Anyway, I have such a big love for rugs. I hope someday, send us a message if we ever influenced you to buy a natural fiber rug and it’ll make my day I promise. Okay, judgment free zone though. I’m not saying that you’re a bad person if you buy a synthetic rug.

Emma: No, you’re gonna have to do a lot more to be a bad person than by a synthetic rug. That’s not the level. No, no, no.

Elsie: Okay. Yeah, if you move into a house and you put up curtains and you decorate a little bit, your rooms gonna feel like it might even feel good in person but if you take a picture, you go, oh, this isn’t that great? That’s the thing that bloggers, like we’ve learned it extra because we have to photograph our spaces more. So I think that getting to the bottom of what are the types of layers that you love, and adding more of those types of layers. For me, I love wallpaper so if I can I’ll basically always add wallpaper to a room. Not everyone loves that. So maybe for the next person, it’s like you could do a painted mural or you could do a bold painted color, or you could do some type of wood molding on your wall to add texture dimension, or there’s like 100 different things. But basically, you can’t just like leave everything super plain and minimal. You can have like a clean feeling. You can have a modern feeling. You can have a minimal feeling, but you can’t have like a layered cozy feeling. Anyway, just keep going basically. We could have just summarized the last 30 minutes by just saying keep going, add more.

Emma: Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. We have a pet question from Allison. This was in our email box, which is podcast@abeautifulmess.com. Allison says, I know some of your topics include family and I was wondering if you could ever speak a little more on being dog parents. M partner and I just got a puppy and it’s a joy having him in our life. I’d love to have some more sisterly advice and tips about making sure he’s happy. Are there any favorite activities that you enjoy? Haha, so yeah, she just wants to know more about being dog parents. They got a puppy. She’s got puppies on the brain. I understand that Alison, I love dogs so much, any pets but I’m a dog person.

Elsie: I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum because I have two elderly pets, two elderly dogs so I can talk about that. The puppies own is so sweet. It’s definitely a different Universe from my zone. But having pets, I think it’s like 100,000,000% worth it. Whenever people ask us, how do you keep your house perfect or how do you keep your house clean with pets and kids? I’m always like, oh, we don’t like we just don’t.

Emma: The houses for my family, which include the dogs. 

Elsie: Yeah, I mean having pets in your home, if that’s something that’s for you, then it’s a priority and it’s worth it. I don’t think it’s bad if you have to make certain choices or adjustments to accommodate your pets and give them a happier life. But at the same time, like I will say, I won’t not buy something fancy because I’m afraid of it getting ruined. It’s like your own choice, what attitude you want to have. I sort of made a little vow to myself when we started having kids, I guess when we add pets too I don’t remember but like that basically, if something gets spilled on my sofa or my rug, and it’s just like completely ruined that that is fine. It just is. So ahead of time, I already know anything you can ruin in my house is not the end of the world. I think just having that mindset from the beginning. I’ve never really had like a giant freakout. Actually, I did have one day where my kids started coloring on their documents from China but that was different.

Emma: That’s a different problem.

Elsie: But yeah, nothing with a rug.

Emma: No, no, no couches, different. Easier to replace than the documents from China.

Elsie: Yeah. So I have a super elderly dog right now. Actually, last month, we thought she was passing. We were like pretty much 100% sure that it was Sookie’s time, but she had a little miracle. So now we’re kind of like living in this bonus life zone with her. I was just talking to Emma about it the other day. It’s like the most wonderful thing in the world. Every day is like a gift. She’s snuggling with me on my couch every night for TV even though she has the gas like you would not believe how bad it is.

Emma: It is room clearing.

Elsie: But it’s just like I don’t know it. It’s special but I will say we have a lot of pet messes in our house. I would say like biweekly. It’s a major cleaning problem in our lives. So I guess just like if you love your pets and you want to own pets, just let it happen, you know what I mean, and just know that everyone who has pets deals with it, and maybe just like don’t give it too much power. That’s really the only advice I have. It’s the same thing with kids like, yes, one of my kids is like going through a phase where she draws on every new painted surface in our entire house but it’s like at the end of the day, that’s what magic erasers are for and who cares? 

Emma: Yep, it’s true. Just thinking about dogs and being a dog parent, so currently, we have one dog, Steve, and we’ve had him for almost 10 years now. Trey got him, adopted him before we got married so this summer will be nine years, so something like that. We’ve had him around 9, 10 years and he was adopted. So we don’t totally know how old he is. But he was probably only one when Trey adopted him. I don’t know. Anyway, Steve’s a very anxious dog. I have loved watching him and Oscar get to know each other this past year. At first, Steve was not excited and very anxious. He wasn’t eating well for a little while. I was really stressed but now it’s like they’re buddies. Oscar loves to feed him when he’s in his highchair. He’ll always be trying to give Steve his food and I just let him, unless it’s something that Steve can’t have because it would be unsafe, but other than that, I’m like, yeah, you give them whatever, that’s fine.

Elsie: You just want them to bond.

Emma: It’s just cute. Steve is like so gentle. He doesn’t snap at Oscar’s tiny fingers and take the food. He’s like very gentle. Sometimes he doesn’t even get it because Oscar is holding it in a weird way and Steve can’t get his tongue around it. It’s just like very sweet to watch Steve be really truly very gentle with him. There have been moments where he’s like, knocked him over to completely on accident and everyone was fine but made me so upset. It’s like, there are moments like that that are hard, but it’s really sweet to watch them get to know each other. Before I got pregnant with Oscar, about a month before that, I had a dog that I had my whole adult life. His name was Lovers. I’m sure I’ve talked about on the podcast before and he passed away. Just all the little things that I did with him throughout his life, all the walks, all the buying him some stupid outfit for a season, taking him to the Dog Bakery to get a little doggie sugar cookie, all that stupid, silly stuff, I regret none of it. None of it was a waste of time. All of it was fun. I really treasure it now. So that’s basically the only like, quote-unquote, advice I would have which is not really advice. But it’s just like, whatever makes you happy with your dog do that. If your dog’s super athletic, mine was like a very chill pug. He’s not athletic. But if your dog loves to play frisbee, get out there play frisbee. Whatever it is, that’s your level because all dogs are different. Go for it, enjoy it, I think they’re meant to be enjoyed. Give them a good life and you won’t regret it. Some days are really hard to it. It’s okay if you feel that. Some days like they take a sh*t on the floor and you’re like, Oh, not again, like that happens to everyone and it’s so annoying, but that’s part of it. Don’t make that the focus.

Elsie: Yep, it’s a beautiful life. 

Emma: It really is. It’s hard at the end though. Elsie has really been telling me a lot about Sookie and it reminds me so much of Lovers at the end. It’s a lot of cleanup. It’s also like kind of a lot of heartbreak mixed with guilt where you’re like, simultaneously kind of heartbroken and also tired of cleaning up all the messes and kind of tired of spending so much money at the vet. You know how it was with lovers. Also just wanting to know the timeline because you’re like, I don’t know if we should, you had like a little trip that you went on with your family and you were like, what if Sookie dies while we have the dog sitter, I don’t know. It’s just like all those little worries and things and it’s mixed in with like, heartbreak and love and guilt and also logistics. Those are just hard to navigate. That end of the dog life and you never know how long it’s going to be. That’s a tough time. I love that you’re viewing it as bonus time. I think that’s the perfect way to view it because it is hard where you really just need a break. But also it’ll be over and then you’ll look back at it and be like, man, that was the end and I’m so glad that I did it. I viewed it as bonus and I viewed it as like let’s just give her the best send off we can here. You said Nova has been kind of viewing it that way too and I’m just like, oh, that’s exactly it. That’s what we should do. So just give them the love on the way out. 

Elsie: We need a group hug now.

Emma: Dogs, man, they’re break your heart. There’s so special, part of the family.

Elsie: Okay, we’ve got one more question. So this is a voicemail question. So let’s go ahead and play that.

Voicemail: Hi, Elsie and Emma. My name is Molly. My question is this, so I try to do a lot of hobbies and I really get into certain things but it becomes very rigid and I make it more into a chore. What is your advice on how to have a hobby without it becoming something you have to do? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. Thank you so much.

Elsie: Hi, Molly. So this is a great question. I love this question. I actually don’t really struggle with this exactly because I like, Emma likes to use the word gamify. I gamify everything in my entire life. So everything is always like ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. You win. You know what I mean? I think that the tendency towards like guilt within hobbies is the real thing and that makes sense. The feeling that you have to do your hobby a certain amount or to a certain level to feel like you’re making it, quote-unquote, worth it or I don’t know, there’s all different reasons why you could feel bad, but I think it’s very relatable. 

Emma: I would say that I’m kind of a master at making myself feel bad. Pro Level 100 for guilting myself in my own head. So yeah, I understand where she’s coming from on that.

Elsie: What do you mean?

Emma: I just I’m always telling myself that I’m either not doing enough or doing too much or not thinking about others enough, or all those things, whatever. I couldn’t even do, that’d be a whole podcast episode of all the mean things I said to myself today. It’s like a habit you’re always getting out of.

Elsie: Emma needs a hug and a wine.

Emma: Yeah, but okay, so I had two thoughts because I don’t know exactly what’s going through her mind with the guilt but I had a couple of ideas. So one is change the conclusion. Within your hobby, whatever you’re doing and I imagine Molly’s maybe had a number of them over the years because I feel like that’s kind of how as hobbyists are, we like to skip around. So if normally, your conclusion is to sell your pottery, let’s say. Stop, stop selling it, don’t make that the conclusion anymore. If normally, you’re like, oh, I like to finish and then show it off, I like to show my painting. I put it on Instagram or I show my partner, whatever, don’t. Change the conclusion somehow. So this could be changing the timeline if you’re normally like, I have to complete it within this amount of time, change the timeline. The idea here is we’re aiming to make it about the process, rather than the result. A lot of times we can get really hung up on the result. This one wasn’t as good as the last one. I didn’t finish it in the amount of time I wanted. It’s not as beautiful as I wanted. I wasn’t able to sell it for what I want, whatever, so on and so forth. But instead, the hobby needs to become more about the process. It’s about enjoying being in your painting studio even if you got nothing done. You just mixed a bunch of paints and it felt fun. That should be the goal. 

Elsie: That’s great advice. That’s solid A-plus gold advice.

Emma: Thank you. So yeah, change the conclusion. Then the other thing I wanted to point out, I have no idea if Molly’s dealing with this or not but maybe someone else out there can relate. I’ve done this before. Just make sure that the hobby is something fun for you. I know that probably sounds really obvious, but I just feel like it’s so easy. I love creative things. I’m very visual. I’m very attracted to art projects. It’s very easy for me to see something that somebody else is doing. I’m like, oh, that looks so fun and then I try it and I’m like, oh, this wasn’t very fun for me.

Elsie: I think that about so many crafts. Yes, I totally agree.

Emma: Then all of a sudden I’m like well, but I already bought the supplies so I have to keep making these things or oh, I already committed that I wanted to finish this crocheted cardigan and then I just found out I hate crocheting cardigans or whatever it is. So all of a sudden then I’m like I feel I’ve committed myself but the truth is like it’s okay to try something and realize it’s not for you. It’s okay to see somebody else being really awesome at some hobby or some craft project or some art thing or whatever it is, and that not be for you. I learned pretty early on somewhere in like college, really probably earlier, I don’t like drawing and I don’t like things with my handwriting. So some people are so great at calligraphy and I actually love to see people’s calligraphy projects and things they’re doing with it. You know what, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to and so I can just admire it for someone else and it’s not for me. I should focus my hobbies on things that I enjoy. It should be an absolute joy. It shouldn’t be a thing that you’re like, I’ve got to finish washing these dishes and folding this laundry so that I can get to my thing that I love doing. If you don’t feel that way about your hobby, you need a different hobby. if it’s a chore, it might not be, maybe you got into it for the wrong reason or maybe it’s something used to love, you don’t need more, change it up. It’s okay if you bought supplies, sell them, give them to someone, don’t hang on to them just because like, oh, I already spent money, or I already spent half the time making half this quilt, but I don’t want to finish. You don’t finish. It’s a hobby, it’s meant for enjoyment and fun and enrichment in your own life.

Elsie: I totally agree. I think that just giving yourself permission to just skip around to do different things, Fr me, so I do my 5am thing, we talked about this before, and I usually do one certain thing. But there are times, sometimes for days, and sometimes for weeks at a time when I don’t want to do that one thing. So I do other creative things related. I think that giving yourself permission to follow different whims. For me, that is the key to creativity. One of my highest creative beliefs is that nothing you do that’s creative is ever wasted time. So like we’re always always building our skills towards some future projects that we don’t even know about yet. So I really don’t think you can even waste time. But I think that forcing yourself to do something you’re not in the mood for like it that’s not hobby time. I think that having that much of like a rigidness, it’s like not really cool because if you’re not in the mood to do writing or you’re not in the mood to do art, then you’re not really like bringing the vibe that you need for that type of creative work at that time.

Emma: Yeah, and it can be a little, you kind of have to suss that out because there are moments like, like earlier this week, I wrote another chapter for the novel I’m working on nice. Right before I started, I kind of wasn’t really in the mood. I was a little bit procrastinating and I was like, I don’t know. Then by the end of the chapter, I was thrilled. I was so happy with the chapter. I’m not saying it’s done, it’s a first draft but I had so much fun writing that chapter. I didn’t feel that way when I started but since I got to the end, I was like, oh yeah, I think I was kind of getting hung up on like, oh, what if this isn’t very good or like all those little fear. So I think you kind of have to feel that out for yourself. If you’re not in the mood, but then you start doing your hobby and by the end of the time that you have or for me it was finishing the chapter, you’re like, oh, that was so fun. I feel so jazzed, I feel so excited, then that’s a good sign. But if you get to the end, and you’re like, oh, thank god that’s over. I’m so glad to be done with that. Maybe that’s a sign that this hobby needs to take a break or die, or like this isn’t really working for you.

Elsie: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I’m not saying that I always feel in the mood to do everything every day because especially when you work in a creative field, you kind of get used to the habit of amping yourself up for things. So it’s like, I’m just like turning a switch on and off all the time. But I do think that there’s value to sort of switching it up and having more than one creative flame in your life at a time so that you can kind of move around. 

Emma: I totally agree. 

Elsie: I also think it’s cool. Emma and I are really into our seasonal stuff, like we have a unique Halloween obsession, into the seasonal decor and seasonal projects and things like that. So I think it’s cool to have some hobbies in your life where it’s kind of like limited series, and then some that are ongoing all the time if that makes sense. So that you can sort of like, I don’t know. I have certain things that I maybe do it like three times a year, but I do it every year. It is like a real hobby but if you heard someone say like, oh, I read three times a year, you might not think they were really a reader but it’s like, I don’t know. I think that there are certain things where you don’t have to do it so much. I don’t know. I think that the goal is part of it. I’m doing a reading goal this year and it’s so good but I think if I made myself do this big of a goal every year, I would burn out and it wouldn’t be fun anymore. So I have to keep switching. Okay, well, hopefully, that helped and we want to hear how that goes for you, Molly so let us know. But having lots of hobbies is like the greatest joy in my life so I want all of our listeners’ hours to pick up like an extra one or five hobbies, just for fun.

Emma: I agree. Yeah, I mean, we’ve mentioned it before, but I really view our job with A Beautiful Mess is a little bit just like creativity cheerleaders, just to encourage people to make things just for the joy of making, for self-discovery, for fun. It was something that our parents instilled in us. It really would make me proud to hear that we have some small role in someone else’s life for that. 

Elsie: Okay. So join us next week, we are having Ramit Sethi on the podcast and we’re doing a money episode. So that’s going to be fun. We have only two more episodes left in this season and then we’ll take our short summer break. It’s very short, don’t worry. So make sure you are subscribed wherever you listen to our podcast, make sure you’re subscribed because we will be taking a few weeks off and then you’ll know when we come back. We want to make sure that we stay on your radar even though we do need a tiny little summer break for our moms. Have a wonderful week and we will be back next Monday.

Emma: Bye.