old country house blog


You know how you can be in a conversation or listening to someone speak to a group
and something is said,
 random words are uttered, they might mean nothing to the speaker, 
he or she may have said them thousands of times before…
but to YOU
it is as if it is the first time you heard a thought spoken aloud…
 ….the words stop you from hearing anything else???
They continue to bang around in your head, over and over again and you feel like
there MUST be something you are supposed to learn?

Well,  this happened to me at the HAVEN conference.
The speaker was Rashon Carraway from
“Mr Goodwill Hunting” blog…and many other things…fame.

Rashon Carraway from Brown Belle
 rockin a custom made Bowtie!
He has made Thrifting COOL!
Exposed it,  elevated it…made it classy…and accessible.
He has taken something everyone has done, hit a good yard sale and 
shown how to make the most of  the phrase “One man’s trash is another ones treasure.”
He even designated 7/7 2012 as National “I Love Thrifting ” day!
And he is fantastically charismatic and cute!
He very generously shared his secrets and his humor and his incredible gift with us.
I hung on every word and my face hurt I was smiling so much.

At HAVEN,  spoke of the upsides
 (being on Nate Berkus and reaching so many wonderful folks)
 and the down sides to his exposure 
(he does not shop at Goodwill anymore, now that they are popping up like “baby gap” every which where).
 But he still believes in the Art of the find and he still devotes himself to working magic with his treasures.

I love Rashon,
 he was a highlight of my Haven experience. 
And I want to go on record saying this experience had everything to do with ME and where I was at in my head when he spoke, not what his motivation was or was not with the words he chose…
That being said….

he was talking about Design and DIYing and us bloggers and putting ourselves and our homes out there and then he said…
and I am paraphrasing obviously, because I did not record this, though I wish I had…

he said “Now, Ya’ll know that in the Design world there is such a thing as 
a “BLOGGER Designed Home”..???
.I swear to God, the WHOLE room cocked its head?


 …..so he repeated himself, or shall I say 
“expounded” on the topic and said…

“BLOGGERS are NOT Designers…DESIGNERS are Designers…and you need to respect that.
  You know what I am talking about???
(insert my nervous laughter here) 
You all got your chevron and your shabby chic…..”
This is when it started to get all fuzzy for me….

I am envisioning my Chevron sofa and my shabby furniture and feeling a bit naked…
and now, whatever else he said, all

“I heard” is..

“YOU are NOT a designer, you were not trained as one, 
do NOT call yourself one…and please, for God’s sake,
 don’t tell people you are ONE!”

NOW DO NOT get me wrong, 
I am GRATEFUL to Rashon for his comment.
He did nothing but speak the truth. 
He knows what is out there…
With so many blogs out there and all of us communicating back and forth and link parties and painting parties and sharing our secrets and even Pinterest…
the cat is out the “Chevron bag”.
But he just made me want to try harder to find my own style.
It was ALL Good.

I never spoke about how Rashons’ words effected me to anyone at Haven, there was not the right moment, I had my kids…so of course, I spoke to them…they listened and then asked me what was for lunch. But I have chewed them over and over again, dissected each syllable, 
even tweeted HIM about it, and have been letting the words do their work.
The work of encouragement.
there..the telltale signs, the chevron and the shabby chic…

 Rashons words motivated me to be MYSELF as much as I can.
I am not going back to school, but I can study designers
and learn what they know…be inspired, 
by everything and anything…
but at the end of the day…
I am the only ME.
YOU are the only YOU!

first up next week
Angie Hranowsky!!!

see you next week…
What words have changed yoU?


  1. I think the way he said what he said is sad. How encouraged people have been by being able to share and gain inspiration through reading blogs of all kinds of people. Maybe he could have been more tactful to make his point. I don’t think a lot of the blogs I read claim to be “designers” nor do I care. I don’t think what they do takes anything away from the amazing things the designers do. So why talk down to them. I do think you would be shortsighted to believe that all great talent is professionally trained. There has always been and will always be gifted people beyond any kind of training and professional association and no one can change that no matter what catagories you put out there. Be ENCOURAGED!

  2. Great post!! I was changed by a few words that I didn’t hear at a conference, but by my old boss when he said, “What am I to do now? So you definitely aren’t showing up for work tomorrow?” Just after I was put on doctor ordered bed rest two weeks before I delivered my daughter and my boss was furious. So, I quit and never went back but 80% of it was because I wasn’t doing the best work I possibly could as a photographer working for someone else. He would degrade me and tell my I wasn’t very good, even though he was the one holding me back. So, I don’t let what others say bother me so much anymore. Just like the word photographer means many different things, so can designer. You just have to pick which style you are! I just found your blog today from Jennifer over at Celebrating everyday life, and I’m so glad I visited.

    1. The most I can hope for, with blogging, is to connect, and I am glad I connected with you!!! Bouncing these things off each other, I know helps me see it all more clearly! Thank so much for sharing with me and I am glad you found your way here via the beautiful Jennifer Carroll! xo

  3. Hey Lesli,
    Man, that comment must have smacked you pretty hard. So sorry about that but thanks for having the guts to address your feelings here.
    I follow Rashon on Twitter and his blog and he’s quite the character so I’m not sure he meant to be spiteful or demeaning.
    I also think there are gifted/talented people in every profession who lack formal training. Nate Berkus – the very show Rashon appeared on – does not have a degree in interior design – at least not according to his bio on Wikipedia – and he fancies himself a designer.
    I too am not formally trained and I’ve used the words decorator and designer interchangeably throughout my nine years in the business. I think Rashon’s gripe – again, I wasn’t there nor have I ever spoken with him – is that there are many bloggers claiming to be designers who have never set foot inside a clients home. It’s one thing to design your own home or to create virtual inspiration boards, but it’s another ballgame to have taken a paying client from the demolition process to the final installation; to have managed their budgets and all the trades involved in the process etc… I think that’s where his gripe lies. Hope you had a great time at the conference regardless.

    1. I think it is ALL a process, a journey, ALL of it, and where I am on the journey is unique to me, so I think Rashons’ words tapped into the shred of insecurity I did not realize I had.

      AND the good thing is, IS that it made me go to that place, look it in the eye, tell it, “Hey I AM unique, whatever i call myself” and move on. I do believe it was ALL GOOD

    2. It really is, a journey and we’re glad to be able to share with you as you make it. We all have some form of insecurity and may just not be as brave as you to look it in the eye and scream back as you did. Again, an amazing post and one that will force many of us to think about our own special gifts and what the heck it is we wish to call/label those gifts.

  4. I did train as a designer and let me tell you, there are people out there working in design that couldn’t design their way out of a paper bag. You don’t need to be trained as a designer to work in design either, trust me, I know some. You just need a good eye and a sense of style.

    You have your own sense of style and it’s fabulous.

    Want to come over here and help me figure out what color to paint inside the shelves under the stairs to accent them?

  5. Lesli I thought that comment was interesting as well! I took it to mean that bloggers are all showing each other the same things, reinforcing each other, and creating like a “group think”. I also took it to mean we need to study others outside blogging and take inspiration from them but to also always be ourselves too!

  6. Sarah, thanks for your comment, and your point is well taken. I agree that it is amazing how one sentence can be interpreted so many ways. Makes me remember how powerful words are, especially if they are potentially misunderstood. I worry that my post could be misinterpreted that I thought of Rashon is a negative way, when if fact, I appreciated his candor, and his respect for us enough to encourage us to be ourselves…THAT is our most amazing gift. and one no one has but us!

  7. You know your cousin is going to weigh in on this one! Here is the deal- I think It’s kind of like art a bit. Maybe the feeling was ,ore about, what a minute, is he saying that what my thoughts are on style now is not exactly “spot on”? And I am not a blogger, NPR a designer” but I am obsessed with decorating as you know, and I subscribe to almost every shelter mag, and have a million design books, and sometimes I look around my house and wish I could scrap it all and go modern, or palm beach, or any which way but what it is, but then I look at the art that I have personally collected, and the things that I have hand picked to go in my home, and I realize that the photos I see in magazines and books are kind of like a movie set, inspiration and aspirational, and yes, there may be a very small, small, minute (actually maybe a bit larger where I live in dc) group of people who live in homes that look just like this, but we are all going to and SHOULD put our own spin on design, decorating, whatever….

    And last, style is so fickle. I mean, one year, orange is the hot color and then the next year it’s blue. You have to live with what you love. I will never have an all white home but I love to look at them in magazines. But it doesn’t make me feel like a loser!

    You have fantastic style, and plus, you are an artist before anything else! That should be your first title before blogger, girl!

  8. Leslie,
    this is the first time I have seen your blog, I googled Haven because I wanted to find out what I missed and I found this post. I have to say it upsets me. I am not familiar with Rashon and I did not hear what he said in context.
    I have met many designers with a degree, who I would not want to hire. I have met many without a degree that I would love to work with. From the photos of your work in this post, clearly you ARE a designer and a very good one. People put people in boxes and I just don’t like it. Rachel Ray is not a formally trained chef. Steve jobs never graduated from college, organizers prevented Elvis Presley from joining his school glee club, they said his voice would ruin their sound, Lucille Ball was told she had no talent repeatedly until she was in her 40’s.
    I do agree that it is vital to be ourselves, we are all given remarkable talents some of us perfect them and others bury them it is the ones who practice their craft that do good work and succeed . Keep going, I look forward to reading more of your blog.
    Debi Beard

  9. Lesli I couldn’t tell you anything different than what all of the posts above have commented and I think Dori hit the nail on the head… I don’t know what his intentions were as I don’t know his character personally but that wasn’t the place to say what he said in my opinion. You have great style and I love to follow your posts and even get inspiration from your ideas! You DESIGNED your space so beautifully.

  10. You have a successful design blog. You are a successful designer. Designing is your medium. The blog is just the way you deliver it to the world and monetize it.

  11. I had never heard of him until I read your post. I went over and had a look at his blog and I have a couple of things to say.

    He talks down to people. It’s probably a defense mechanism, but it’s condescending and rude. Going to school for design does not make you a designer. Buying crap from thrift stores and trying to make it over to resemble things from Ralph Lauren is not higher minded design than shabby chic chevron is. It’s just a different aesthetic.

    To put this in another perspective – there are photographers who can’t make a business work that criticize very successful photographers for a lack of technical skill. The former may lack clients or a livable income, but they went to school for it, so they are a “real” photographer? No. Most people would agree that the one who has a great artistic eye and is making a livable income is actually the real photographer.

    Many aspiring writers, myself included, hate the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. It’s badly written fan fiction based on Twilight, rewritten to a series of books. I might think it’s bad writing, even the author might think she’s bad at writing (and has stated as much), but no one would argue that she’s a writer. She’s making $1,000,000 a week according to today’s episode of GMA!
    4) I imagine it’s very frustrating for someone who went to design school to clearly be financially struggling so much when so many “Design bloggers” with no training (but who perhaps have a better eye for the way most women want to live, and who are -ahem- nicer, and who have better web design skills to be so much more successful than they are. He wouldn’t be selling thrifted outfits if he was as successful as half of the people at that conference. He just wouldn’t. Also, even if I loved his aesthetic, his blog is condescending and hard to navigate. The reality is that you do a better job than he does, trained or not. There is NO need to take his “Hey! Stop thinking you’re better than me just because you’re more successful because I went to school for this and you didn’t (despite that fact you are more successful than I am)!” temper tantrum seriously. He’s a condescending a**. Ignore him and keep doing what you do best.

  12. Lesli, I love what Debi had to say to you about success and as another woman whose name ends with “i”, we gals must be on to something! You ARE a designer- every artist is.

    1. Thanks Bettsi…with an “i”, you always say the nicest things and I so appreciate your support. I have been blown away by the response this post got. I think it touched a cord in folks. I sincerely, believe that my reaction was more about mE than about what Rashon said, in fact, I believe his words were just the vehicle to get me to the place of self awareness.

  13. You know what came to my mind in reading your post…isn’t that the wave of the future? Maybe it’s because my oldest is starting college that I think about this a lot lately, but with student loan debt outpacing so much other debt in our country, I think the wave of the future will HAVE to be people practicing in careers that they aren’t necessarily “trained” for. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking doctors and lawyers, but you certainly can be a designer or a photographer or an artist or a musician or a blogger (or all of the above!) and a whole host of other things without traditional training!

  14. I forgot to answer your question about what words have changed me. And they just happen to go along with your post! A friend of mine who has a business faux painting and mural painting and teaches art classes told me “you are an artist” after seeing some things I’ve made (in particular a large floor cloth I painted). I’d never, ever considered myself an artist because I feel like I can barely draw a stick figure. But it’s an amazing perspective change to start thinking of myself as an artist! Oh, the possibilities that seem open to me now with just that one change in defining what an artist is in my mind. To consider what I make “art” (even if it’s never beyond for the pleasure of myself and my family) is a liberating thought 🙂

  15. I know I’m months behind on this post, but I still wanted to respond because he is not nearly the first person I’ve heard this type of comment from and I’d imagine at some point he may have heard it and applied it to himself as well before beginning to venture out into the client world and finding that he too is indeed a blogger AND a designer. Webster defines a designer as ” one that designs; one who creates and often executes plans for a project or structure; one that creates and manufactures a new product style or design;” I would absolutely say that applies to you and many many other bloggers. We absolutely take our inspiration from each other as well as industry recognized designers, but I don’t believe finding or executing a project in a similar fashion to someone else takes away from your overall talent or the individuality of your end result. I have never in my life seen an authentically original design (certainly not in interiors). We ALL use and reuse what inspires us. Own what you do.

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