Living {Real} Life

Lately I’ve been noticing that I’m living my life a little differently. Whereas in the past my free time has been spent decorating my home and blogging all about it, recently I just don’t care.  I guess I’d rather be gardening in my new yard, taking really long walks with my pup, exploring my spirituality, or finally learning how to cook.

I started blogging four years and one month ago. When I first started I was just a twenty-something dreaming to break into the decorating business and since then I’ve learned and accomplished more than I ever did at Penn State University.  In the past few months, with business being more busy than I can even manage, I’ve been feeling a bit like I’ve graduated to the next phase.

But can I really graduate from blogging? Can I give up the community and validation? I have to admit that I worry if I’ll still be relevant. Will any magazines want to publish my Cottage?  Will I become the design superstar I always wanted to be?  Does it even matter?  Will press and validation make me happier and richer?  How am I supposed to balance it all and enjoy the true pearls of life?


living room fireplace before

{My fireplace wall; the week I bought the Cottage}

These are things I think about late at night.  As much as I aspire to evolve, the validation really does mean so much to me.  The comments, the feedback, the praise tell me I’m doing something right.  And after hours of styling, shooting, editing and writing a post, if I don’t get that feedback… well I just don’t feel as inclined to share.  I guess I need a reason to keep doing this blogging thing.  The reason is YOU.  Because otherwise I’m just talking to myself and honestly, I can do that without posting it to the internet.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble.  I’m just being reflective.  But there’s no time for that: there is a master bathroom that needs tile detail, a family room that needs to be estimated, a kitchen cabinet order that needs to be placed, bedroom accessories that need to be presented, dining room chairs that need to be shipped, a newly upholstered bench that needs to be picked up.  Yes, decorating is happening in full swing.  Just not at my place.


design manifest living room fireplace television to the side

{My fireplace wall now.  Art not properly hung, new shelves not filled, Mantel haphazardly styled.}

Yup, its not finished, its not perfect, but you know what… I’m still happy.

  1. Lisa

    I don’t comment either but love your blog and check in often!


  2. ben linus

    I love blog, Thanks sharing such a nice information. You can see how beautiful and concern for the site, I was excited for you. Please do not stop sharing your beautiful creations. I have never commented
    before, but I will from now on will be in the future.

  3. Naomi, Your blog is one of my favorites. I ADORE your style. Although I’m not professionally trained in design, I am passionate about it and long for it to be my career. (am working on that!)
    I was divorced a few years ago. I work full time and I am a single mom to an amazing six year old daughter. I’ve dealt with depression for many years and at times it was debilitating. However decorating and design have become my life preserver. When I am at my lowest, when my daughter is with me, I want to be surrounded by things I love…. to feel nestled and cozy and good. This is my all-time favorite post.
    I know you will appreciate it.
    I don’t comment much on blogs, but I am going to start. 🙂

  4. Jordan

    I recently came out of a long term relationship. After over three years of living with someone else I moved into my beautiful new apartment & felt like I needed to hurry up & decorate it to perfection as validation to myself that I was moving up & moving on. But then I realized like you that it was more important to go out & smell the roses. Whether it was going to yoga or going to the beach. I decided I in a sense I needed to the take the time to get to know my apartment & what look I wanted for it, & also get to know myself again. And your blog brings me endless inspiration. I’ll admit I rarely comment on blogs, but please know that there are probably many of us here who love to see what you post. Yours is only one of two design blogs in my regular rotation, & I will sure try to chime in more in the future. And if you have any inspiration for Moroccan wedding blankets I would love to see because I have no idea what to do with mine!

    • Naomi

      Thank you for sharing Jordan. I totally relate and I’m so happy to inspire.

  5. Holly

    I don’t get around to read, comment, or write as much as I used to but that’s because life is busy. I still enjoy catching up on posts and things, but I just write when I feel the pull. I say do what you need to do and your audience will always be around no matter how long or how little you post.

  6. Joy S.

    I’m really bad about leaving comments but I just wanted you to know that I recently fell in love with your blog. I saw your pink desk with the red stools posted somewhere and I was smitten. I adore your eclectic use of different styles and patterns. I feel like it’s so different than all the other blogs I come across. You aren’t afraid to take chances and it completely pays off with a one-of-a-kind room. I feel like I studied your apartment to give me inspiration on taking more chances with mixing up different styles in my own place. I completely understand where you’re coming from but truly hope, somewhat selfishly, that you don’t stop blogging.

  7. Sarah

    This is my first time ever leaving a comment, but I wanted to tell you how much I adore and admire your decorating and takent! Now that I see how easy it is to do…. I’ll be a complimenting away!!! Your accolades are well deserved !!

  8. Megan

    I think your blog is one of the best and most ACCESSIBLE (important! since us “normal people” aren’t being sent tons of promotional items, etc like many bloggers are) ones out there. Your creativity and resourcefulness are inspirational. Much of my own apartment design was influenced by studying your loft and other projects. The way you combine new, old, things you already have, re-do things you already have…and just put things together in different ways or give them makeovers is so inspiring for us money-conscious people out there. I hardly ever comment (guilty!) but want you to know how appreciated what you put out there is. I have considered contacting you for an internet consultation, I admire your style so much. Don’t worry about quantity. You have a day job that you have to concentrate on. But I love, love, love reading about your projects and own home. Even one post a week or every 2 weeks would be exciting.

    Glad that you are enjoying a little real life too!!!

    Keep up your great work, you are one of a kind!!!

    • Naomi

      Thanks for the feedback, Megan. Hearing this is such an important reminder for me.

  9. I’ve commented on your blog posts a few times here and there. And even the times I’m not commenting, I’m reading… thoroughly. Your posts & your work & your pictures are always inspiring to me. I even bought the Ikea drapes you have for your master, found some great trim, & am in the process of sewing the trim on (I’m a bad sewer) b/c of you. So, yes. Your posts are always relative, and your cottage is looking so damn good. Peeps would be crazy not to publish that adorable house of yours!!!

    Girl who doesn’t want your blog to go anywhere. Ever.

    • Naomi

      Yay so happy to inspire, Lindsay! Good luck with the curtains.

  10. Stephanie

    Here’s my take, fwiw: I agree with the chorus of praise you’ve been getting here with this post. You’re doing great work and we all like following it. We follow the blog, which means we either subscribe to posts or check in often – so that means you don’t have to post regularly! We’ll still be here and reading when something new is up. Post when you want and how often you want cuz it’s really no big deal.

    While I read every post, I don’t feel the need to comment on every post. I, frankly, don’t have time to do that with every blog I read (as you mentioned that you don’t either) soooo just because we don’t always comment doesn’t mean we aren’t liking your posts or designs! Look at a variety of metrics – comments (yes), but also site visits, returning visitors, time spent on site – if you’re looking for validation. I blog too and understand the desire for comments, but how much is a comment that says “I like this” really worth? My point is don’t worry just about the number of comments – there’s other ways for readers to engage with you and validate your work.

    Finally, keep up the good work. And take as many blogging breaks as you need.

  11. You are an amazing designer and I do appreciate all of the time you take to post meaningful blog entries. Love it and hope to see more!

  12. Kit

    I’ve been following your blog for 2 years and have never commented before. But I just want to say that by far your blog is the only one on my ‘design’ list that i get an excited feeling when I see that you’ve posted. I don’t mind waiting for updates, and of course you must take your time and enjoy the next phase life has thrown at you, if you feel you need to let go, ultimately I understand that but I would sorely miss you.

    I guess I don’t comment on any of the design blogs I follow because it would be a) a repeat of whatever someone else said, and also b)a lot of other designers follow you, so I’ve always felt a little like I’m just a fan what could I offer, they KNOW what they’re talking about.

    But here’s how your blog makes me feel: I moved to London 2 years ago, from a very controlling background. I struck out on my own, lived on a friends sofa, waitressed, till I got a proper job, and for the first time a place of my own. I now have a cute 1 bed in the city that I love and spend my time decorating (mostly in my mind whilst i start to save up to have financial stability – i came here with nothing.) Thus my interest in design blogs. I remember the first time i saw a post on another blog with pictures of your loft. I thought I knew clearly what I liked aesthetically but you had things and colours and stuff going on there that I shouldn’t have LOVED but I clearly did. Looking into your loft made me re-evaluate my tastes, what do I ‘really’ like.. what do I really want? It challenged me to find out more about what I considered beautiful, about what I wanted to surround myself with. Your decorating is accesible and you can make something DIY look amazing. I also love to see how you’re tastes are evolving as you go.

    But most importantly to me. I know that having come from a lifetime (26 years) of unhealthy psychological experiences, this decorating journey is more than just about decorating. Having my own space where I can feel safe, is one of the greatest things I have known. And in the safety of the space, I realise that trying figure out how and what beautiful things I want to surround myself with is actually a part of my healing and growing stronger, it is the discover of who and what I am.

    Do what is healthy for you… but please know that I love your blog and would miss you very much!

    • Kit

      … it is the discovERY of who and what i am… it is me trying to expression of my character, passions and personality slowing coming to the surface.

    • Naomi

      Wow, thank you so much for sharing Kit. That means so much to me!! I feel the same way about home and my surroundings. xoxo

  13. Robin

    I myself haven’t blogged in over a year (just not feeling it) but yours is one of the blogs I visit regularly and follow on FB and I am living vicariously through your cottage reno. If I promise to be less lurk-y and more comment-y will you keep posting? At least some garden pics so we apartment dwellers can live vicariously? 😉

    • Naomi

      Ok guys, I will post some garden shots! I promise they aren’t too impressive yet.

  14. mypatsyann

    I just found your blog recently, and I love your style. It’s nice without trying. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  15. Everyone needs validation, in some form or another. No shame in that game, sister. You have captured exactly what I have been thinking about blogging. I started mine as an outlet for creative expression but soon found myself enjoying the communal aspect of it – albeit my communal tribe is tiny. Often I feel like I am sharing stuff with the crickets but I just keep sharing the stuff I do b/c I am doing it anyway regardless of who is reading or isn’t. Yours is one of the few blogs I read on the reg and this is b/c of your talent but probably more for your honesty and your willingness to be transparent. I will keep coming back no matter how often you post. Will miss you if you go.

  16. carolegee

    Naomi – I have probably never commented, but your blog is one of (less than) a handful that I check regularly. I have loved watching the cottage evolve…and watching the garden evolve would be fun too. You don’t have to spend hours styling…just a snapshot of what’s happening would be great! Love the before and after shots. Let’s see the garden! Don’t go away!

  17. it’s ok to want the validation. that’s the purpose here. don’t be ashamed.
    and you ARE living your life. as a blogger, a designer, a lady, a dog owner, a french fry eater…etc…
    as a wise man once said..just keep moving.

  18. Hi Naomi, I’ve been following your blog for the past year and have admired your style as it is similar to mine and the pieces you make are along the lines of what I make and sell in my design and furniture store here in Chicago. Designers inspire each other and I for one LOVE to receive Yelp reviews, magazine shouts and the creme de’ la’ creme t.v. I can have empathy for the need of validation. You have it I think from the MANY posts here, keep up the blog because people are following you religiously (I for one open every post you have:) and truly care about what you have to say and want to see visually what you are designing.

    Thanks in advance for the eye candy and witty commentary 🙂

  19. Rachel

    I read every post as well. I haven’t commented lately b/c I’m a non-blogger and thought I had to sign in. (It happened a few times that I typed out a long comment, only to be promoted to sign in. Aggghhhh!!) Glad to see you are accepting e-mail comments now.

    I think a lot of bloggers feel pressure to post a lot/everyday in order to stay relevant – but content sometimes suffers. I would much prefer to see an awesome meaningful post, once or twice a month, as opposed to sub-par content every other day. Perhaps you could strike that sort of balance. We would keep you in our reader.

  20. I love following along and hope you do not go anywhere! Everything is coming along so lovely, take your time, no rush, I mean this is YOUR home. You have plenty of time.

  21. Alex

    We’re all here and loving every second of your posts, even if we aren’t always commenting! Promise 🙂 I have started to take on a little bit of a different perspective on blogging. No more sponsorships (that way theres no obligation to have a post up 5 days a week). When it starts to become a chore it just isn’t worth it! It has to stay fun and easy for me to rationalize all the time it requires. I love following along with what you do, you’re one talented lady. If you want to, keep going at it, because I know I’d miss seeing you here!

    • Naomi

      Interesting. Yea I felt a lot of pressure to build my audience, get sponsorships etc, but ultimately it detracts from my work and the quality of my posts. I’m glad to hear you feel the same, Alex.

  22. Love your blog! I’m currently searching for rugs on eBay thanks to tips from you that I saw here on you blog. I hope you keep posting here 🙂

  23. Laura

    Hi Naomi!

    I’ve been a devoted follower to your blog for a long while now. I love your unique style and feel that your design is very relatable. I’ve never commented before because I’ll read comments and see that others have posted my thoughts already. But, maybe repetition of comments doesn’t matter, it would really validate your design ideas to you. I’m in kind of the same situation as you are, regarding my house: ’20s or ’30s colonial revival that needs some updating. I look to your blog ALL the time for inspiration.

    I would absolutely love to see you continue blogging. However, if your heart isn’t in it anymore, I don’t think anyone would fault you for moving on. Do what is best for you.


  24. I always love seeing your blog, you are a fantastic designer! But…. What’s important is if you are actually enjoying it and look forward to it. If not, why waste the time when you can be doing other things you enjoy?

  25. Ok…I cannot tell you how much I love your blog. I found you through a Pinterest picture about a month ago, and I love checking in. When I started to read your blog today, and saw that you were kind of asking yourself that question of “should I even still be blogging” one that I do all the time…My heart sank. So just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you, your style, and your blog. Happy Friday!

  26. Sarah

    I do really enjoy your posts. You have a great mix and I love seeing what you are doing with your home. I would be sad if you stopped blogging altogether. 🙁

    But, you are the only one who can decide how much, if any, time to invest in your blog. If you want the blog to be a signifigant component of your business then it will require a corresponding amount of investment. If your blog is just a place to self-publish some of your ideas and to bless all of us out on the interweb with a bit of design goodness then an occasional post, just when you feel like it, well then that is OK.

  27. Sheila

    I always love to see what you are doing! I love the way you mix Things together, and that you aren’t afraid to be bold and daring. I am inspired by what you do in every space you design! I know I would still follow even if you couldn’t post for a while. You have one life to enjoy, enjoy it as much as you can. When you post, we will be thrilled. When you don’ t, it’s okay, we will understand!

    Thank you for the inspiration, seriously!!

  28. Your words are the exact feelings I have had over the last month or so. I have a super full time job and wish I had the time to do all of these beautiful original posts, but I just don’t have the time and I often feel like my blog suffers because of that. But I often keep going because I do love it and the validation I get from my lovely readers. I don’t get that from my corporate job, so it’s nice to get it from blogging. Finding balance is so hard, though! But, like everyone else feels, I would be sad if you left blogland as I do read all of your posts! Your work is so beautiful and it inspires me to think of things to try in my own home. But do what you can when you can do it. Life it too short! That is the mantra I’m trying to take anyway! Happy weekend!

  29. Laura D

    I love your work and enjoy reading every post! I’m not a blogger, but I think your content rivals that of any top notch home design magazine. Your posts remind me of House Beautiful, my favorite.

    That being said, in our shoes, facing this conflict, I would step back and think about long term goals and dreams. What would you like to be doing in 5 years? 10 years? How does blogging fit in to that vision? Then set an achievable goal, like # of posts per week or month for example, and live with that for a little while to see how it feels. Its OK to lower your expectations to whatever meets your needs.

    We all need validation!

  30. It’s so hard. Sometimes I forgot why I even enjoy blogging because more often than not it feels like a chore. So why do I do it? Totally for validation. But then I think of this giant community and all of the amazing opportunities and the opened doors because of these happy spaces – and I feel better. Like I am working towards something. I love reading your posts, Naomi, and totally feel you! I’ve decided that it is all about balance, most of the time we are the source of the own pressure we feel and that is just silly. We all deserve a little breathing room – so go enjoy that garden and you pup! We will always be here.

    • Naomi

      Thanks Liz!! Its good to be reminded from time to time.

  31. naomi, I enjoy every single blogpost of yours so keep going!I may not always commentas I am very often super tired but I do read all your stuff- and hey now that I remember, do pop by my blog sometomes if you have the enrgy as I could do with relevant and contrsutive criticism.I always look forward to your notes and posts, hwoever short they are- so please don’t ever stop!!

    Big hug from a sunny England from a super exhausted Bea ( who has just re-painted the whole bathroom AGAIN as I was not happy with the initial idea).

  32. Oh man…from your lips to my ears…I’ve been feeling/thinking so much the same. After having the baby I’ve just been feeling like blogging is a chore…it’s hard to think up things to write about everyday, and even more so when you have little energy and would rather be spending it doing other things. But like you, I just can’t imagine not having this community in my life- I’m finding the balance hard and feel so guilty that I can’t spend the time commenting like I used to be because I know how important that validation is for all of us. I promise to do better and please know how much I love your little corner of cyber space- would be so sad if you ever left. xoxo

  33. Naomi, totally feel you on this. I think the ones that have been around “awhile” just don’t have the time for it anymore…at least the commenting on other blogs part. My husband reminds me to use my blog for my own creative exploration, and for the marketing aspect – such as, how would I have met you and worked with you otherwise, really? The community part has been wonderful and I know it will always be there if I engage it. But to keep me motivated to spend the time on the blog (i.e. non-billable hours) I have to remember it’s for professional reasons, not personal ones. The personal is the BONUS!

    All the free products and parties are fun, but don’t pay the bills! ‘Tis the difference between a professional designer and a professional blogger. I don’t think we can be both.


    • Naomi

      Yes! For a long time I really wanted to do both, but its just too much. You are so right on staying focused on what the blog is about.
      And I am definitely glad blogging brought us together.

  34. Chris

    I love your blog, I look forward to it daily and am a bit disappointed when you don’t have a post, though I understand the reason. I love your style and enjoy the views into your own home. Keep it up.

  35. Ann T.

    You have been hinting at letting your blog go for a while now, and today’s post suggests that you are assessing what it really does for you, in return for all of the time and energy it takes. It has made you a bit of a celebrity among your peers; it has probably increased the volume of your business to some degree; it has gotten you published; and it is a forum for feedback about your work. Is that enough? Certainly, IF your time were unlimited, but no one’s is. Most interior design bloggers sell a lot of advertising, and do special features for sponsors, which bring in extra money, and enable them to work fewer hours outside the blog. If you made more money with your blog, could you cut back on the family business? Would you want to? I hope so, because I love seeing what you do.

    • Naomi

      Ann, I always value your comments and again you have given me something to think about here. Ultimately I would prefer being a designer over a blogger, but I am always open to letting my career evolve.

  36. patty blaettler

    I’m not a blogger, but I think we all need some type of validation….
    I love your work and check in here every day fyi.

  37. Sharon

    Hi Naomi,
    I just started blogging but have been reading them for years now. I finally put some skin in the game and now I’m able to leave comments! I’m challenged by so many things, mainly myself. LOL.
    I really enjoy your blog and that everyone takes the time to share photos and stories.
    I love what you’ve done to the fireplace and the chairs are AMAZING! Thank you for taking the time to post and share.
    Have a great weekend.


  38. Hannah

    Ever since I’ve found your blog I’ve read I love seeing your updates and I love your honesty. I completely know how you feel about the validation. And sometimes I feel like I do SO much validating on other’s blogs, without much interaction in return. It’s a very frustrating aspect of this blogging world we immerse ourselves in. I fell there’s a certain hierarchy and I just wonder how to get there. Meh. None the less, your blog is certainly one that people enjoy and I think you should keep it up. No need to post lengthy posts every time, but even a short update here and there is good enough!

    Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer Budget

    • Naomi

      Thanks Hannah!! I completely understand. I certainly don’t spend as much time validating others as I wish I could. If only we all had more hours in the day. Just know that your feedback does mean so much to me.

  39. Cathy

    Thanks for saying what I know all of us bloggers feel, that feedback is so very important! I love seeing what you are up to and would miss you terribly as Design Manifest is one of the blogs I like best due to your original style aesthetic and talent. But… I totally understand where you are coming from, sometimes it is difficult to make blogging a priority when there are paying clients and other important happenings in one’s life. Whatever happens, you have and will still make your mark on the design world Naomi!
    PS love how you have transformed your fireplace, especially the shelving!

  40. Hear hear! I so feel you. Lately I’d rather be outside with my boys, or visiting friends, or ok — maybe thrifting… anything but blogging. And all those things make me a happier person, although maybe a shittier blogger. Oh well.

    I will forgive you for not posting as long as you come visit in real life. That would be the jam.

    • Naomi

      I very much want to come visit in real life. And thrift with you. And play with the boys outside, please 🙂 xo

  41. Tracy

    I LOVE your blog. It is on my top five list to make sure to check everyday. I was so excited for you when you bought the cottage and so anxious to see how beautiful you would make it. Please don’t stop sharing your beautiful creations with us. I have never commented before, but I will in the future from now on. I will also start commenting on the other blogs I read too. You all put in a lot of time and effort to provide the blog for our enjoyment and we owe it to you to show appreciation. Keep up the great work!

    • Naomi

      First time commenters are extra special. Thanks Tracy 🙂

  42. Kathryn

    Agreed with Rosie; I don’t comment much, but I’m definitely looking each time you post something new. I’ve cycled a number of blogs over the years, but I continue coming back to see your thoughts and inspiration while I’ve left others behind. I hope you’ll find the right mix for you, but I, for one, would be terribly sad to see you stop this little blog!

    • Naomi

      Thanks for coming back, Kathryn!

  43. Aubrey

    I hear you loud and clear, I’ve been the laziest blogger on the planet lately and it’s just because most of the time, I would just rather be doing other things…I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing (c: Even though I’ve kicked around the idea of shutting it down completely, there is just something about this community, the people, and having a voice in it that makes me stop and keep it around for a bit longer. And let’s be honest, your blog is *waaaaaaay* better than mine! (c; I would be completely depressed if I was able to keep up on all the DM updates and all your brilliant interior design (even when I don’t comment, which is like most of the time…)! Have fun livin’ it up this weekend!

    • Naomi

      Thanks Aubrey! But lets not waste our time worry about who is better than another. That’s the part I hate about blogging. Have a great weekend too.

  44. Rosie

    Hey Naomi!
    I can tell you that even though I haven’t commented much (maybe once before), your blog is among a handful I regularly visit and enjoy. Please keep it up: your transformations are fun and inspiring to watch. And I swear, I’ll stop being a silent reader. (Your fireplace looks incredible…mantel “haphazardly styled” and all)!

    • Naomi

      thank you for taking the time to read AND comment Rosie!

  45. you have literally taken the words right out of my mouth (or my fingers…whatev). have been thinking a lot about this, too. it’s just not fun if there’s not someone talking back…and i worry sometimes that the validation is TOO important to me. i’m also ridiculously hormonal right now, so it could be a passing phase.

    anyway, i concur. and i have to say, i would miss you as one of my dearest internet friends if you went away. so maybe don’t do that, m’kay? i love your updates, no matter how often they come! 🙂

    • Naomi

      thanks girlfriend. I hate myself a little every day that I need validation. But doing it just in hopes that people see isn’t enough anymore. AT least you have a reason!! xoxo

Leave a Comment