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Advice, tips, and tutorials from our pros.

How to style a shelf even if you’re not stylish

One of the most common questions I get as a designer is, “What do I put on my open bookshelves? And how do I make it look good?”. Staring into a blank shelving unit can be totally overwhelming. I get it. All that EMPTY SPACE. You wonder how the design blogs and magazines make those built-ins look so damn good?!! Well, its actually easier than you think if you know the secret tricks. In this post I’m going to show you in 5 different styles (yes FIVE!) how to style a bookshelf, even if you’re not stylish.

Click the + sign to see how each display came together.

5 Impressions Your Entryway is Giving Off

Ah the entryway. We all have them. Even if yours is small and barely there, you have one. Its like the mouth of the home. Its the tiny room-like opening through your front door that imprints the very first impression upon a visitor. Like a warm smile it can say, “Hey! I’m genuinely happy you’re here! And I’m going to be open and inviting and comfortable for you during our interaction!”. Or it can say something totally, cringingly different.

So what, my friend, is your entryway saying about you? What impression is your House-Mouth giving your visitors? Read on, and see if you can spot yours below in one of the 5 Impressions Your Entryway is Giving Off.


1: The Resting Bitch Face (RBF) entryway:
Even “at rest” it looks judgy and hostile. It should have some kind of disclaimer on display; “May not accurately reflect those living here”. The area deters visitors by making them feel uncomfortable and like they aren’t worthy to grace the pristine marble floors with their imperfect pedicures and bargain-bin flip-flops.

2: The Manic Panic entryway:
Like Kanye kickin it with TMZ, no one can tell what the hell is going on here. The clothes and shoes strewn about suggest a closet perhaps? Wait, nope, there are rollerblades and a bike under there, and is that a lacrosse stick? So maybe a garage? But what is that? A laundry basket full of blankets, oh ok, its a laundry room…??? Visitors don’t know whether they should start folding, or call your therapist.

3. The IDGAF entryway:
Basically an exaggerated eye roll and lazy sigh, there’s nothing to suggest that any care or thought was put into this space. A paper bag from Whole Foods sits as a catch-all by the door and one solitary piece of confusing “ironic” art hangs on the wall. The light above dangles lifeless, for the bulb went out ages ago. But don’t worry, the glob of Christmas lights in the corner still works. Visitors will know immediately upon entry to lower their expectations.

4. The Eager Beaver entryway:
Pretty much the sibling-rival of IDGAF, this space wants to make mama proud. But in the effort to prove that it is nothing like its older sis, boy does it overshoot the mark. Full of ALL the latest decor trends, this entryway is just a Pinterest explosion, anxiously awaiting approval. Visitors will not know what to compliment first, the list is soooo long, and because EVERYTHING is a feature, nothing is..

5. The Overjoyed and Overrun entryway:
Who runs the world? Kids. That’s really how Beyonce should’ve sung it. Anyone who has them knows, they can and will take over any space they’re in. And man, the evidence is clear. Toys, ride-ons, shoes, jackets, books, macaroni art, homework, backpacks, sippy cups, photos from infancy on… this place is packed with it all. Visitors will wonder if they’ve stepped into Neverland and may call CPS for fear that the supervising adult has been hog-tied with Barbie hair and is locked in the playhouse.

Sounds like a hot-mess right? These less-than-desireable impressions smack your guests in the face before the door closes behind them.

Alright I tease, I tease… but for real,
don’t despair if you find your entryway fits some of the characteristics listed above. Honestly, we could find a tinge of these in even the most expertly thought-out entries. So no worries! Sleek and chic can still feel welcoming and warm. Multi-use spaces are just SMART, and a must in most of our homes. A cool, carefree space can still look put-together. Showcasing your favorite trendy decor is FINE in doses. And a family home SHOULD look like a kid-friendly place. Phew! So stop, blow that match out, we can help. We can bridge the gap between the impression your entryway is giving and the impression you WANT it to give. Just contact us and we will whip it into shape in no time. Your visitors will never want to leave. 🙂

Do I Need to Hire a Designer?| How to Know

I get it. You’re a DIY-er. You pride yourself on being able to roll up your sleeves and get that shit done. If you don’t know how to do something, you hit up YouTube, blogs, Google, etc. until you do. You’re not scared to fail because you know you can keep trying until you figure it out. I ADORE you. I AM you. You’re my kind of people.

And sure, you could probably eventually decipher the ins-and-outs of Interior Design the way you have figured out how to fix your sink or refinish your bedroom set. Your space might even turn out looking pretty good too. But you and I both know “good” isn’t what you’re aiming at. “Good” isn’t what is going to make you actually WANT to make your bed or straighten the pillows on the sofa. “Good” can get you 90% of the way, but you may need a little help to snag that other 10%, and convert all that goodness into drop-your-pants throw-off-your-bra oh-my-god it feels so GREAT to be home.

Still not sure if you need some extra help? I’ll break it down for you and you can decide for yourself.

How to know if I need to hire a Designer


1) You’re overwhelmed. Even the smallest 10×10 room feels like a freakin palace when you think about trying to decide what to put in it. You have 12 different paint splotches on your walls where you’ve been testing colors for the last 4 years. You’ve visited so many stores and websites now that you can recite their inventory SKU numbers. Yet your room remains empty, save the hand me down chair with the broken arm and that weird art your intense college roommate made for you for your birthday one year.

2) You hate your space. Despite the advice from your most stylish friend and spending countless hours watching HGTV, you hate how the room you’ve been working on makes you feel when you’re in it. Like a boyfriend who “is just soooo great” but you can’t seem to commit to, you’re frustrated by your own discontent. You have all the “right” things. The wall-color-of-the-year, the Moroccan knock off ivory and grey trellis rug, the sleek mid-mod style sofa, the oversized non-functioning clock you grabbed in Waco… You don’t know why you hate it all together. Butcha do. Because deep down, you know its not a fit for YOU.

3) You’re ready to roll up your sleeves but don’t know where to start. You feel like you have a handle on your style, you’re great at making lists, your Pinterest Boards are legit, and you aren’t afraid to get down and dirty to get it done. But you’re not quite sure what to salvage and what to replace. I mean, you’ve got tons of great stuff and you’re a recycling queen, but does that vintage highboy really fit the overall end goal? And if it doesn’t, is there a way to spruce it up so it does? What about that big round mirror? Would it be dumb looking to flip in on its back, add some hairpin legs and use it as a coffee table? You have ideas. LOTS of ideas, but you fear you’re getting lost in the weeds and need someone to wade through with you.

4) You’re out of goddamn time. You’d LOVE to have a room that would make you feel like you stepped into an Instagram Story. And you keep telling yourself that as soon as you have the time, you’ll get it together and get it done. But time is a fickle little turd and you and I both know that as soon as you acquire more of it, something or someone steals it away again. Job, kids, spouse, house, school, friends, family, taking a real bath at some point… you have priorities and designing your own space just isn’t one at present. But HEY! Just because you don’t have the time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to love where you’re coming home to every day. After all, you totally deserve it after you’ve spent all those long hours being AWESOME.

5) You’re on a budget. I know. This seems counterintuitive. After all, hiring a designer does indeed cost something. Unless you work out some kind of bartering deal (I’m just putting it out there, but I’d totally be willing to design for dinner. Trying to figure out what to eat and feed my people every day is the bane of my existence). But most likely, you’ll have to hand over some real dollars if you want the job done right. But, be heartened my friend. Your fabulous designer could likely end up actually saving you money. Especially here at Nest Refresh, we pride ourselves on being able to come up with creative solutions that will keep you within your budget. This means guiding you through thrift-stores and flea-markets, showing you how to DIY your own artwork, and listing out for you where and when to shop online for the best deals on new furniture. Without your design wingman by your side, its plausible that you may end up buying a bunch of stuff at unnecessary prices that will blow your budget and leave you resentful and insecure in your newly furnished space. And, whats worse, you may not even like what you ended up with (see point 2).

So, what do you think now? I nailed you in there somewhere right. Its cool, we all need help sometimes. Lucky for you, you’re in the right place to get it. Nest Refresh is ready to help solve whatever design dilemmas you have. We have several options on how we can help that range from full-on room takeover to simply supplying you with an experienced design wingman to bounce your ideas off of. Visit the Packages page to learn more and choose what services will suit you best.

Nest Refresh Testimonials

  • There are no words to express how talented Cate at Nest Refresh is. Cate has changed my cluttered, hodge-podge bedroom into a beautiful sanctuary. Having no idea how to design a room we contacted Nest Refresh and asked for help. My husband and I met with Cate and looked through Pinterest to tell her our style. From there the magic happened. Its like she reached into my non-design mind and pulled out exactly what I wanted. She worked on ideas and would confirm with us on the styles and beautiful finds she would find at stores and a thrift shops. The result speaks for itself.”


    From Blech to Brilliant
  • “Working with Cate, at Nest Refresh has been such a joy! We loved working with her to design and execute our dining room and living room. She has taken our historic home and from dark and dated to modern and sleek, all the while staying true to the historic nature of the project. I highly recommend Cate and can not wait for our next project!”


    Historic Home Made Modern
  • “Discovering Cate at Nest Refresh was just what I needed to get through a stressful home renovation after purchasing an older home in the country. She helped hone in on the needs of each space and helped me make decisions about paint colors, flooring, light fixtures, furnishings, and pretty much everything else. My home is now full of all the things I love and collect, and looks current and comfortable. ”


    Collected Country Charm