5 Ways To Maintain Your Reputation As A Freelance Writer

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Last week I chatted with public relations pro Christina Dick about the wonderful world of freelance writing. Our convo was part of her new podcast “I’m not an expert, but …”, where she interviews all sorts of RVA folks about who they are and what they do. [Give the podcast a listen!] During our discussion we covered a lot of bases — topics like the gig economy, being a self-starter, and breaking into the industry.

One thing I briefly touched on during the interview was reputation. I’d like to take a few minutes here to delve further into reputation because it really is one of the most important parts of being a freelance writer. In all honesty, it can make or break you.

In my freelancing writing workshop I also discuss communication and etiquette, which I sometimes assume is common-sense stuff, but for newbies it might not be. Your reputation as a good, reliable writer rests on a few key things: being kind, turning in your piece on time, delivering on what you promised, responding in a timely fashion to edits, and being gracious during the editing process.


This principle is pretty easy, but you’d be surprised how many people fudge it up. If you don’t operate with The Golden Rule in mind (“Do unto others, as you’d want them to do unto you,” as my mommy used to say) then you aren’t going far in freelancing. Don’t be egotistical. Don’t be whiny. Don’t be rude. No one wants to work with a jerk, especially when there are a ton of other freelancers out there who happily will do the job with a smile on their face.


Growing up my mom made sure we were always 15 minutes early for every appointment. This drove me nuts as a kid. As an adult I’m now the uncool person who is the first to arrive at a party. But I’m so glad my mom taught me about punctuality, because people who are late have no respect for you or your time. Turning in your story late also shows editors that you are a bad communicator and aren’t organized.

Life happens though and sometimes we have to push back deadlines. When I was 24 and starting my freelance career I got deathly ill. I got bronchitis, which developed into pneumonia, which in turn led to me checking into the hospital with pleurisy. At the time I was supposed to turn in a big feature story to my editor over at Blue Ridge Outdoors, but my illness wiped me out for weeks. I was so scared that my editor wouldn’t understand. Guess what though? He did! — because he is a kind and understanding human and not a monster. Editors care about their writers! We all get sick. We all have emergencies. Just be sure to communicate what is happening to your editor and they’ll surely understand and adjust deadlines as needed. (If they don’t, then they probably are a monster.)


This seems pretty obvious, but as an editor I’ve had writers turn in stories that weren’t what they originally pitched. Say you pitch and are assigned a travel story about the thriving beer scene in Richmond, but then you start writing the story for the publication and you realize that Richmond’s beer scene actually is dying. Breweries are closing down and beer literally is drying up.

Well, then let your editor know and readjust the angle of your story. Don’t let it get to the point where you sit down to write the story and it no longer makes sense or you have to change the entire direction of your piece. This prevents you from metaphorically punching your editor in the face.

This also goes for word count. For print publications you need to stick to the assigned word count. I still struggle with this 10 years in and have been reprimanded by editors for it. If you are assigned 600 words, don’t turn in 750. Don’t turn in 500 words. Turn in 600 words. End of story.

Also, if you promised extra elements like side bars, infographics or photos, be sure to deliver on what you signed up for.


By timely, I mean according to your editor’s production schedule. It could be by the end of the week. It could be tomorrow morning. It could be by end of day. If you editor doesn’t give you a time frame, be sure to ask.

I once had an editor give me edits on a Friday evening and not tell me she needed them back early Monday morning when the story went to press. I didn’t get them back to her. Don’t put yourself in that position, friends.


This is a hard one. Writing is incredibly personal. After all, it is your voice and thoughts. So when someone edits you, it can be hard not to take it personally. Trust me, I know. Still to this day, a huge edit can sting. It deflates my ego. And it sometimes makes me question if I’m even good at what I do. OMG, AM I?

It may look like your story has been hacked to death, but don’t let all those red marks put you in an existential funk. Editing doesn’t exist to deflate you and make you feel like an idiot. It’s the opposite. It’s constructive criticism and is meant to help you grow and lift you up as a writer.

I once worked with a writer who responded to my edits with extreme passive aggression. During each editing process I felt like I was walking on eggshells because of the back-and-forth email commentary with said person. Finally we went our separate ways because the communication had an air of toxicity to it. Part of writing is editing. If it’s a tough pill for you to swallow, you gotta get over it.

Want to know more about freelance etiquette?  Check out this piece I wrote for MediaBistro where editors at top publications share qualities they look for in writers.


Back To Work

Hi All, I’m back! I took three months off for maternity leave, and I’m now plugging back into work. There are a few exciting developments — aside from the baby! — since my return.

1.) I’m back teaching freelance workshops at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. Yay! My first class was yesterday and I have another coming up on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. I’ll also be teaching a workshop during the winter semester (date TBD). Sign up here.

2.) I’m Dwell’s new “Out There” columnist. I’ll be writing a story each week featuring cabins, trailers/campers, treehouses, houseboats, and all sorts of fun, nontraditional residences that get people out experiencing nature. The column kicks off in early September!

3.) I’m coming back to my copy editing gig at The Scout Guide. Each week I fact-check and proofread a batch of spreads for one of TSG’s 60+ publications.

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As a storyteller it would be a disservice for me not to share the story behind Velkommen Vintage. • My great grandma Nana Hazel made cross-stitch Velkommen signs that she gave to family members to hang in their homes. Growing up our sign was displayed in the kitchen. And now that I have my own home and family, it proudly hangs in the entryway (seen in above photo). • Velkommen means more than just “welcome” in Norwegian. It means “welcome to my home.” Nana Hazel’s cross-stitch, an heirloom that has been passed down through the generations, seemed like a good place to draw inspiration for my new side gig. The name is a nod to family heritage, heirlooms, reciprocity, memory, and the importance of the domestic. 🏡✨

A post shared by Velkommen Vintage (@velkommen_vintage) on

4.) I’m diversifying work-wise too. I launched a little side hustle called Velkommen Vintage, where I sell stylish vintage furniture and decor via Instagram and Chairish. This is meant to be another fun avenue to bring in some dough, while I’m staying home taking care of Elin.

After I get settled and figure out how to balance my work life and mom life, I’ll be accepting more story assignments. Excited to see what new opportunities come my way!

xo, marissa

Nursery Tour: Elin’s Mauve, Merlot + Turquoise Play Zone

Aside from Instagram captions, this is the first thing I’ve clicked publish on since Elin was born in April. How daunting it is to try to find time to write. While the baby naps I’ve been taking time here and there to sit down and write this. Each day I’m getting a tiny bit better at this whole mommy and baby thing, juggling infant care with basic household duties. I’m going back to work next month, so this blog post is a good practice run.

Back in February I wrote a little blog post about nursery trends. In that piece I touched on my philosophy in designing Elin’s room. Quick recap: I wanted to create an adult-friendly space that toed the line between sophisticated and fun. Not too childish. Not too girly.

We turned our muddy-colored guest room into a bright and airy space by painting the walls in Behr’s Night Blooming Jasmine, a cheery white with a hint of yellow. I think the paint’s amber undertones give the room a sunnier, warmer feel compared to a traditional cold, clinical white.

Because we have plaster walls, I try to be intentional with holes in the walls. So, we went minimal with hanging art and decor. Narrow floating wood ledges in a blonde finish are from Etsy, and provide a gallery wall to display artwork, books with pretty covers, and small tchotchkes.

Wendy Umanoff, a friend who is a local lighting designer, created a beautiful night light for Elin that I turn on for nursing in the evenings.

For decor I displayed artwork by my mom — watercolors she painted when I was a kid and cute mini canvases she painted as a teenager. The shelves also are a great place to showcase little ornaments like a Dala horse from my cousin Lauren and nesting dolls I’ve collected from my travels.

I store the remainder of Elin’s books in a rattan magazine rack that I picked up at an estate sale. And I corral her toys in a fun bin that my sister-in-law gave me at Elin’s baby shower.
To cut costs I screwed a universal changing table topper onto my IKEA Hemmes dresser rather than buying an entirely new piece of furniture.

My parents’ friends back home in Naples, Florida gave Elin this adorable stool from Hollow Woodworks. We’ve gotten so many compliments on the puzzle stool. I can’t wait for Elin to use it; but for now it’s a perch for the cats.
The abstract piece above the changing table was made by our neighbor, cut-paper artist Kirsten Kindler. And the Danish paper stars mobile was another gift from my cousin. She found it at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

I filled the SNIDAD rattan basket from IKEA with a mix of affordable throws and handmade blankets knit by family and friends. The Madeline doll was mine as a kid. And the other two dolls belonged to Elin’s cousin Lola, who generously decided to pass them along to her. The brown puppy dog was Graham’s when he was a wee one.

Pottery Barn Kids now carries more modern furnishings. We went with the Babyletto Lolly 3-in-1 crib, and then gussied it up with some whimsical bedding from Anthropologie. I’m in love with the boho crib skirt.

I purchased the print next to the crib from 1708 Gallery at CURRENT Art Fair. After hanging it I learned that looking at abstract artwork is good for baby’s brain and eye development. Win-win!

For our baby monitor we went with the Arlo, which also has a nightlight, two-way audio, and plays lullabies.

The mauve Mindra curtains with turquoise tassels are from  Anthropologie.  While my decorative launching point was the colorful animal bedding, the draperies made me realize that I wanted mauve to be the star of the show.

The chair is another piece from Pottery Barn Kids’ modern nursery line. Because we are short on space, I went with the narrow Paxton recliner rather than a bulky chair and ottoman combo. To add some texture and color to the chair, I draped a pink sheepskin from IKEA and sassy throw pillow from Target’s Opalhouse line.

The nursery chair was our most expensive item in the room, so I took on a high-low approach in decorating to cut costs. I paired the chair with the Lisabo blonde wooden side table and Ranarp floor lamp, both from IKEA.

The wool area rug is a hand-me-down that was purchased via Pottery Barn probably 15 to 20 years ago. I’ve used it in my bedroom in Lynchburg, our living room in Charlottesville and The Fan, and now our guest room and the baby nursery in our current house. The soft green and mauve paired nicely with all the other prints in the room. And, green is such a versatile color that it can be considered a neutral. After all, it is the most ubiquitous color in nature!

I can’t tell you how many shams I purchased and returned, trying to find the right mix to complement the colorful animal quilt. I ended up going with a cotton-linen blend euro sham in dark turquoise from Anthro, along with light pink standard shams piped in a fun tasseled edge from Target’s Opalhouse line.

We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on our daybed selection because — surprise! — it’s actually a queen! The Hemnes is an IKEA trundle that pulls out into a queen and has storage underneath. It’s brilliant.

For decor, I hung a painting by my dear friend, artist Elizabeth Carter Oliver. I’m also in need of a mirror to hang above the daybed. So if you have any suggestions, please leave your recommendations in the comments section below.

Xo, marissa

My 7 Favorite Scandinavian Home Brands

Source: Courtesy of Bjørn Wiinblad.

I’m a big fan on Scandinavian design. I love the sleek lines, simple beauty and functionality that is associated with decor from the Nordic region. If you’ve been over to our house or heard me talk about my heritage, you already know this.

I’m Scandinavian (a mix of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish), and have a concentration in Nordic Studies from University of Colorado at Boulder. That means I took classes where I studied everything from the social welfare system and conversational Swedish (Hejsan!) to Icelandic sagas and the Nordic sources J.R.R. Tolkien incorporated in his Lord of The Rings books.

While my knowledge of Scandinavia runs deep, so does my love for the region’s aesthetics. In college I wrote a term paper for my Nordic Societies class drawing comparisons between the visuals in the IKEA catalog and Carl Larsson’s paintings of the Swedish domestic life. The similarities were striking. (That reminds me, I need to dig up that paper!) It also was in that class that I fell in love with midcentury designers like Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner.

As Graham and I have established our home, I’ve managed to incorporate Scandinavian heirlooms that have been passed down from both of our families, along with larger pieces of contemporary furniture. With all the Nordic-inspired pieces that make up our home, I figured it was due time for a little blog post on some of my favorite home brands from the motherland.

Iris Hantverk

Located in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s historic Old Town, this cute little shop sells beautiful home goods along with brushes that are handmade by visually impaired workers. While we were visiting for our honeymoon, I grabbed a few gorgeous knit hand towels to bring home for our house and as souvenirs for my mom and Nana. If you live here in Richmond, you can pick up some Iris Hantverk brushes at Accoutre in Scott’s Addition. irishantverk.se

Bjørn Wiinblad

I love everything about Bjørn Wiinblad’s designs. They are so whimsical and happy. You can find the Danish painter’s motifs on all sorts of homewares like ceramics, linens and seasonal decor. While shopping in Copenhagen and Oslo we saw a lot of his designs in home stores. I can’t find a brick-and-mortar here in the U.S., but Skandium and Connox both sell these pretty porcelain pieces via their web shops.  bjornwiinblad-denmark.com

Source: Courtesy of Muuto.


I’m a huge fan of Muuto’s sleek molded plywood and plastic seating. The Danish shop also has a beautiful line of light fixtures along with fun tchotchkes and textiles for the home. Here in the U.S., it looks like the best place to get your Muuto fix is via web shops like the Danish Design Store, Design Public and Lekker Homemuuto.com

Svensk Tenn

While meandering around Stockholm I discovered this amazing high-end design house. As a fan of fiber arts, I love Svensk Tenn’s textiles, particularly artist-designer Josef Frank’s whimsical patterned fabrics. If you’re looking for some of the company’s vintage wares, be sure to check out Charish’s inventorysvenskttenn.se

Source: Courtesy of Normann Copenhagen.

Normann Copenhagen

This Danish design company reminds me of a high-end IKEA with everything from furnishings to the functional items and final touches you would buy for your home. Although based in Copenhagen, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on some of the wares, via modern furniture stores here in the U.S. like Design Within Reach or popular e-tailers like the Danish Design Store that focus on contemporary Scandinavian housewares. normann-copenhagen.com

Royal Copenhagen

Royal Copenhagen was started in 1775 under Denmark’s Queen Juliane Marie as the country’s royal porcelain factory. The timeless ceramics are adorned with simple, classic blue floral motifs that can really translate to any table. For the holidays, I bought some lovely Royal Copenhagen taper candles via Hygge Life, a brick-and-mortar in the Vail, Colorado area. The shop also sells pillars too. One day I’ll have to splurge and buy some serving dishes and platters. royalcopenhagen.com

Source: Courtesy of Menu.


Based out of Copenhagen, this sophisticated design shop sells everything from gorgeous upholstered sofas down to highly functional housewares. Seriously, look at Menu’s Sweeper and Funnel. Is that not the smartest, coolest dust pan you’ve ever laid your eyes on?! With one sweep your mess is in the pan and funneled out the bottom into the trash. menu.as

Interior Icon: Dorothy Draper Past + Present

Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc.

Dorothy Draper was a woman ahead of her time. In an era when it was unheard of for women to have a career, Draper was a pioneer, paving the way for the interior design profession when she launched her own firm in 1923. Draper started a revolution not just in the interior design world, but for women by transforming and empowering the domestic space.

Draper eschewed the Victorian era’s dismal colors, period room styles, and formalities, instead embracing bright colors, bold motifs, and exaggerated details — something that was unheard of at the time. In the early 1900s after Draper married, she redecorated her home and her high-society friends took note of her fabulous style, asking her to spruce up their abodes as well. Over time, Draper’s hobby turned into an iconic and recognizable style, along with one of the most beloved interior design companies in the world.

What is now known as Dorothy Draper & Company was avant-garde at the time. Draper coined the term “modern baroque,” adding her special touch of glamour to classical designs. She was a design maximalist, applying exaggerated motifs and zippy colors, overlapping busy prints, and combining colors and patterns that weren’t ever seen before. Large prints and thick stripes were applied liberally to walls, bedspreads, and upholstered furniture. Although it was outlandish, her designs were well-received. They lifted spirits and inspired. “Lovely, clear colors have a vital effect on our mental health,” Draper once said.  

Draper’s signature style is characterized by her use of cabbage rose chintz, white-and-black checkered floors, ornate white plasterwork, rococo scrollwork, and mirrors galore. Skillfully she mixed periods, such as Victorian with Baroque and Art Deco.  “If it looks right, it’s right,” she would say simply if a room looked aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc.

At The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, you can’t help but smile seeing the vibrant green palm tree leaf wallpaper paired with regal red carpeting, and Draper’s cheery oversized aqua, purple and green rhododendron chintz that is used extensively throughout. Draper redecorated the resort in the 1940s, breathing new life into the historic hotel, covering all aspects of the redesign down to the details of the menus and staff uniforms.

Her dramatic design became known as “the Draper touch,” and she was admired by suburban housewives across the country. Her “Ask Dorothy Draper” column ran in more than 70 newspapers during The Great Depression, and she would dole out decorative pearls of wisdom to those who wanted to adopt her style. At a time of poverty and sadness, Draper was telling women to infuse their homes with lively colors and happy motifs. 

In 1944, Draper’s first pattern for the fabric and wallcovering company F. Schumacher & Co. was released — “Manor Rose”, an oversized vibrant chintz motif that is still available for purchase today. Her fabrics were in such demand by homemakers that Schumacher sold more than a million yards of her famous cabbage rose chintz.

Draper’s spaces are not just memorable but transformative. Entrances announce “you have arrived”  with bold plasterwork, while bedrooms are dreamy with romantic flowers, and dining rooms sparkle with eye-catching fixtures.

Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc.


Today Draper’s dramatic designs can be seen at properties such as the restaurant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (dubbed “The Dorotheum”), along with The Plaza Hotel and Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Dorothy Draper & Co. also is known for its interior design of castles and manors in Ireland, the Lithuanian Royal Palace, and the White House during the Carter administration. 

“Draper was to decorating what Chanel was to fashion,” Draper’s protégé and the company’s current president Carleton Varney said. “She brought color into a world which was sad and dreary. Today, everyone wants color around them again.” 

Varney, also known fondly as “Mr. Color,” joined the company in the 1960s, working alongside Draper, and purchased the company in 1964. He was then hired by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to be the curator of The Greenbrier when Justice purchased the resort in 2009 and saved it from bankruptcy.

Since heading up the company, Varney has expanded Dorothy Draper & Co. to include Carleton V Ltd. along with and Dorothy Draper Fabric and Wallcoverings. Varney’s design philosophy echoes Draper’s with the use of bright colors and forbidding all things dim and banal. Varney, along with his right-hand man, Brinsley Matthews, are carrying on the traditions that Draper started nearly 100 years ago. 

Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc.

“We are as busy as ever, just as busy as Ms. Draper was in her day,” says Matthews, executive vice president and director of design and operations at Dorothy Draper & Co. “We still have all the components and ingredients, and still do original design and industrial design. And then there’s the fabrics and wallpapers. We are always creating new designs for lighting, fabric, and china.”

The design firm has decorated more than 300 hotels across the world, recently finishing Palm Beach’s Colony Hotel, The Grand Hotel’s new Coupla Suites, along with The Greenbrier’s new Wedding Salon.

“When we do hotels, we do the buttons on the uniforms and matchbooks and stationery,” says Matthews of the level of aesthetic attention paid to all aspects of their projects. “Our customers love attention to detail. Your biggest mistake is to underestimate someone. We all know details and appreciate details.”

Dorothy Draper & Co. also transforms the interior design for posh jets, the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship, railway cars — even hospitals and retirement homes.

Known for their deliberate use of unexpected color combinations, Dorothy Draper & Co. has established a paint line with Fine Paints of Europe with colors like the soft Hampton Meadow Lawn green and vibrant marigold Presidential Yellow.

And recently the company completed luxury homes in Palm Beach and New York. Previously, the privates residences they have decorated include the likes of Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and golf pro Sam Sneed.

Image provided courtesy of Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc.


10 decorating pro-tips from Dorothy Draper & Co.’s Vice President and Director of Design Brinsley Matthews

1. Don’t forget the ceiling. According to Draper, there are five walls in a home, and the ceiling should not be neglected. Matthews advises painting ceilings in soft pastel colors.

2. Check your floors. Black-and-white patterned floors are a signature design element of Draper. She would use large-scale 22-inch square tiles to execute her checkerboard look.

3. Go bright or go home. “All our colors are fresh,” says Matthews. “Ms. Draper always used bright, clear colors.” Matthews recommends using colors that are reminiscent of springtime, when everything is alive and vibrant.

4. Just say “no” to beige. “Beige is the one color we don’t do. It isn’t an option,” says Matthews. “Ms. Draper used to say, ‘Show me nothing that looks like gravy.’” Beige can work as a minor secondary color, but Matthews warns against leaning on the color and applying it liberally. “It’s like quicksand. There’s no getting away from it then!” 

5. Add jewel-tone accents. While using vibrant colors generously, Matthews also advises on adding accents of saturated hues. “A burgundy or dark green or aubergine helps highlight fixtures or interesting art you have,” he says. 

6. Black is the new black. “Always add a touch of black to a room because it anchors the room,” says Matthews. Try a black coffee table or side table. And remember, all you need is a touch.

7. Scale is key. Matthews advices to keep scale in mind when decorating rooms. For instance, large rooms call for large prints. Common rooms at The Greenbrier and Grand Hotel are wallpapered in 15-inch and 20-inch stripes.

8. Define doorways. “Entrances to rooms are always lavish,” says Matthews of Draper’s doorways, which were embellished with lavish white plasterwork. “It creates a lovely announcement.” 

9. Create a focal point. It’s important to have large-scale focal point in a room, which can be a window, piece of art, sofa, or even a mirror. If using a mirror, Matthews says it must reflect something interesting.

10. Mix it up. Mixing and matching fabrics is one of Draper’s signature looks. Matthews recommending mixing several patterns, such as bold chintz, and then using a striped fabric or wallpaper as a common denominator. 


Further your interior design knowledge at the Dorothy Draper School of Decorating

For the Dorothy Draper fans who are interested in furthering their interior design education, the design firm has launched their own decorating school, where they generously dole out design tips.

The program is hosted at The Grand Hotel on the weekend of June 21 through 23, 2019 and through two design sessions hosted by Carlton Varney himself guests learn how to solve their home decorating dilemmas. While learning about Dorothy Draper’s style, participants also are educated on how to create beautiful, bold, and balanced spaces for their home. 

6 ‘Cool Mom’-Approved Nursery Trends

There’s a lot of unattractive nursery furniture and decor out there. At 29 weeks pregnant, let’s just say I’ve spent a good chunk of that time looking at baby gear, and I’ve seen a lot of banal stuff out there. It takes some digging (and avoiding big-box baby stores) to discover unique and whimsical items that will give your nursery a stylish, one-of-a-kind feel.

In my quest to create a nursery, I’ve taken it upon myself to find balance between cutesy baby stuff and adult-friendly decor. After much thought it occurred to me that I didn’t want to be sitting in a childish safari-themed room, and would much rather be spending my time (who am I joking … 24/7) in a room where I will be physically and emotionally comfortable. I know from mom friends how hard those first few months are on your body and mind, and I wanted to create a room that not only caters to all baby’s needs, but mine as well.

It’s important for me to create an environment that lifts my spirits and keeps me comfortable throughout the day while nursing and hanging with my girl. I know there are going to be really tough moments where I’ll be feeling anxious and frustrated, and being in a safe, comfortable space as a new mom is important. So, I’m in the process of creating a feminine room that is both child- and adult-friendly. It’s happy and whimsical — not overly girly and not too childish.

In my quest to find a mommy-baby balance in the nursery, I noticed some really cool decorative trends. Here are a few that I think are worth sharing.

  1. Llama Decor

Source: Anthropologie.

Llamas are the new unicorns, and thank god. You can’t toss a pacifier without hitting some unicorn-bedecked item in a kids’ store these days.

When quilt shopping for our little girl, I came across this kooky llama quilt (seen above, $98-$178) via Anthropologie. How fun! Anthro clearly is embracing this silly creature, as you’ll find llama decor throughout out their site — mobile ($56), pouf ($128), growth chart ($68), coin bank ($24), etc. Seriously, so much. If you troll their site, you’ll find llamas aplenty.

Etsy also has their share of llama items — llama crib sheet ($30), swaddle blanket ($37) and prints you can frame ($6).

2. Modern Cribs

Source: Pottery Barn Kids

Modern cribs with clean lines are all the rage. Pottery Barn Kids’ Modern Baby line includes beautiful cribs like the convertible Lolly crib (seen above, $399) by Babyletto, which I purchased for our nursery.  West Elm and Crate & Kids also carry some great contemporary styles by Babyletto, Stokke and DaVinci Baby.

If you are in the market for a bassinet, check out the SNOO Smart Sleeper ($1,295). We scored one on Black Friday when they were hugely discounted. The bassinets are supposed to be a total game changer with sleep training. And as someone who loves sleep, I’m willing to splurge here.

3. Handmade Mobiles

Source: Etsy.

While hunting for nursery decor, I came across so many precious handmade mobiles. This knit kitten mobile (seen above, $151) on Etsy caught my eye. I also love Serena & Lily’s felted elephants mobile ($148), along with this cloud and star mobile ($59) and minimal wood mobile ($39) on Etsy.

The Moms On Call Basic Baby Care book (which I highly recommend BTW) notes that babies learn by association, and therefore you shouldn’t hang mobiles over the crib. Babies need to associate the crib with sleep time, not playtime. So if you are going the mobile route, perhaps hang it over the changing table instead. It will make butt-wiping more enjoyable for all.

4. Boho Crib Skirts

Source: Serena & Lily.

Serena + Lily’s macrame crib skirt (seen above, $78) is so much fun! Can they please make this for grown-up beds?! Crate & Kids has a cool one decked out in navy pom-poms (on sale for $39.97 now!) and this linen skirt with fringe ($28) on Etsy would be fun for a more subdued natural-looking nursery. I’m a fan of Anthro’s dyed tassel skirt ($78), but I feel like you can create this look yourself for much cheaper.

Crib skirts obviously aren’t necessary (all you really need is a fitted crib sheet), but I think that if you find something special like the ones above, it’s totally worth gussying up baby’s bed.

5. House Beds

Source: Etsy.

I was pleasantly surprised to find such a large inventory of house beds on Etsy. I like this one (seen above, $245) for its sheer simplicity and affordability. (If you or your partner are handy, you can create one for a fraction of price though!) Resting on the ground, it’s toddler-friendly, so little ones can get in and out of bed easily.

Also, I’m a big fan of daybeds in the nursery. We got an IKEA daybed that pulls out into a queen for our baby’s room, so that my husband and I have a place to nap and relax while taking care of our girl.

6. Campy Themes

Source: Crate & Kids.

Crate & Kids has a bunch of cheeky themes that break the mold of traditional nurseries. For instance, this camper play tent (seen above, and now on sale for $169!) takes the whole forest theme to a new level. You can even complete your setup with a campfire and log set ($69), log seat ($59) and toy camping set ($59). How freakin’ adorable is that? I can’t even.

. . . 

T-minus 74 days until my due date, so I still have plenty of time to finish nesting and decorating the nursery. I’d love some decor tips and product recommendations! Thanks friends! xo, marissa

The tao of books: Stop styling them and just let them be

This post has been a long time coming. Because, well, I feel for books. They are sacred and have a special energy to them. They deserve to be acknowledged and showed off in ways in which we can use them and love them. (Yes, I’ve been watching Marie Kondo. Her Shinto ways have rubbed off on me.)

A few blog posts ago I wrote about god-awful design trends, and in that piece I listed “backwards books” as one of my decorative pet-peeves. Out of the five fads I listed, most readers reacted to this specific design trend — and clearly people were just as appalled as I was!

Since then, I’ve taken note of bad book styling fads that are happening via Instagram and lifestyle blogs. And you’d be surprised to find out that people are doing all sorts of silly things to display their tomes. Backwards paperbacks are just the tip of the iceberg. Looming under the surface is a behemoth of #shelfies that will give any bibliophile a heart attack.

With that said, I am forewarning you: the following images might send bookworms into a catatonic state. So prepare yourselves. Take a deep breath. Slam a beer. Take whatever measures you need to get yourself through this.

  1. Backwards Books

This is the image I posted on the blog that caused outrage among my bookie friends. Spines backwards with pages facing outward — total sacrilege.

2. Books In Fireplaces

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I am in disbelief about the controversy around books displayed backwards. I have seen a lot of comments that are cringeworthy across multiple accounts. 😞 Here’s my thought on that. If you want to display your books this way, do it! If you like to see the spines, show the spines. YOU do YOU. Most of these books were given to me by someone who planned to put them in a burn pile. But I saved them. I love showing the natural discolored & tattered pages. To me, I gave them a new purpose. New life. This arrangement of books may not be appealing to all, and that’s ok. This is the place I share my home decor, baking, and style. My passions. Again, YOU do YOU. This is just a friendly reminder to always be kind. The people behind these accounts are REAL people. ❤️ Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend. Xo http://liketk.it/2zr6k #liketkit @liketoknow.it #LTKhome #sodomino #housebeautiful #bhghome #mystyle #homedecor #homeinspo #homeinteriors #popofcolor #swcolorlove #plantlady #inspire_me_home_decor #mydomaine #rslove #shiplap #shiplapwalls

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This one is a double-whammy. Not only are these books backwards but they are stored in a fireplace! You might as well just soak them in kerosene and call it a day.

3. Jenga Tower of Books

Consider this: You need the book at the bottom of that stack. Enough said.

4. Color-Coordinated Books

The rainbow book styling trend has been happening for maybe 8 years now, and I’m surprised it’s lingered this long. I can’t imagine hunting for a book in this colorfully chaotic situation. How are you supposed to find what you are looking for? For instance, on our bookshelves everything is organized by subject matter and author so we easily can find what we’re looking for.

Jane Austen should be hanging out with her compadres Daphne du Maurier and the Brontë sisters, because they are bad-ass British betches who wrote about love. Jane Austen shouldn’t be snuggled up next to depressing Leo Tolstoy just because they both have blue spines. What an asinine thought.

. . . 

As you can see, book styling is a very personal and polarizing topic. As an avid reader who lives in a  house where there are books in pretty much every room, I believe in just letting books be. You don’t need to create intricate sculptures out of them or start displaying them in odd places like your staircase or furnace just to be cool and trendy. Put them someplace nice and thoughtful where you can use them as God intended. Amen.

xo, marissa