Working On the Inside

A whimsical dog sits atop a hand painted dresser in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A whimsical dog sits atop a hand painted dresser (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

You all know me as a hands-on garden designer that has been digging in the dirt for decades.  I’ve written many blog posts about low maintenance gardens and easy care plants, because keeping tasks at a minimum is essential for my busy life. What you may not know is that I use similar techniques when designing the rooms inside my home as well. I strive for ease and comfort whenever possible. Streamlining the process, while keeping a visibly pleasing atmosphere, is my ultimate goal. Although simplification came easily to me in the gardens, I wasn’t always so carefree when it came to changing or updating the interior of my home . . .

A favorite chair with complimentary pillow in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A favorite chair with complimentary pillow (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

When I looked around at my gardens, I never gave much thought to relocating a poorly performing plant or banishing an ugly shrub to the compost heap. But when it came to updating the contents of my home, somehow that was a different story.  A gold framed picture from twenty years languished on the living room wall.  A heavily carved headboard and dresser dominated the master bedroom. Gifts from well-meaning friends and family filled the shelves.  All these things would have been fine if I could honestly say I still liked them (some I never liked), yet for some reason I continued to hold on to items I no longer wanted. Things that didn’t work in my present lifestyle. Things.

This striped dresser adds a fun element to the dining room in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

This striped dresser adds a fun element to the dining room (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Earlier this year, a fire consumed my entire home and my first reaction was to try to locate and replace as many items as I could possibly find.  I wanted to have everything back to the way it was before.  And though that endeavor initially gave me comfort, I soon came to realize that I didn’t really want to have all that same “stuff” again. I actually wanted to simplify my home . . . and in turn, my life. I had a revelation! I understood that it wasn’t necessary to have everything as it was, that I had options. Choices. Opportunities to change. That my home could evolve just as my gardens had.

Choose vibrant patterns that make you smile in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Choose vibrant patterns that make you smile (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Of course I had changed since we bought and furnished our home almost thirty years ago! I no longer wanted a formal bedroom set, instead I wanted colorful and comfortable pieces. Expensive paintings and mirrors were replaced with whimsical prints and tag sale finds. Cheerful everyday plates fill the shelves where rarely used antique dishes used to be stored. Gorgeous designer clothes are best on the store mannequin; as my clothes are still stylish but much more practical. I now take the time to consider how an item makes me feel and why I am purchasing it.  Do I really need it? Do I really want it?

A tag-sale find brightens the foyer in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A tag-sale find brightens the foyer (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

If you’re beginning to feel like you need a change, start by taking a long, honest look around and evaluate your surroundings. Anything you can’t truly say you LOVE or NEED should be considered fodder for donation or the dumpster! I mean it! Don’t let excuses like: “it was a gift“, “it cost a lot“, or “I’m just too busy” (all the reasons I used) sway you from your mission. Take it slow at first, pack up a few items and put them in the attic.  See how you FEEL when these things are no longer around. Do you miss them . . . or do you like the room without these pieces?  While going through this process, I spoke with several people who practice editing their homes; some rent a dumpster annually, others each decade. Experiment with what works and feels right for you, but know that when you get rid of clutter and unwanted things it makes room for new experiences to come into your life. It might also help to know that things you no longer want or need can be re-used by people like me to refurnish and decorate their homes (I purchased many wonderful items at tag sales and consignment shops). It’s a win-win!

A colorful and cozy bedroom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A colorful and cozy bedroom (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

When editing and redesigning a room, consider words such as “comfort” and “simplicity“. Think about how the furnishings make you feel when deciding what to keep, what to toss and what to purchase. We often focus on how a space looks (is it Martha Stewart worthy?) when really that should be the last concern. If you paint your walls in shades that warm you from the inside-out, decorate with embellishments that make you smile, and furnishings that are so cozy you don’t want to leave, you’ve created your personal nirvana. And the funny thing is, it’s probably magazine worthy as well ♥


  1. Patty Wahlers says:

    Bravo Kathy!! That’s the truth, you don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy…. just people, animals, & things that make you SMILE!

    • Thank you, Patty, you’re right about what’s truly important . . . and this time of year is the perfect time to think about that. Happy Holidays!

  2. This is a wonderful post filled with wisdom, truth and much for all of us to think about. I’m with Patty – BRAVO! Thank you for sharing this intimate part of yourself.
    I currently live in smaller space than I ever have so each “thing” that comes into my home must be chosen with care. I must love it. And if I don’t, I find it another home, either giving it away or tossing it. It feels so good to be lighter and to be surrounded only by things I need and love. Your philosophy resonates Kathy!

    • I appreciate you sharing your own experiences too, Dina. It’s always wonderful for me to know that my readers are not only enjoying my posts, but gaining wisdom or insight as well. Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts! Happy holidays to you and your family ~

  3. Elizabeth Cutrofello says:

    Congratulations, Kathy! I’m so happy for you. To see the charmingly beautiful home you’ve created is a delight!
    Wishing you many joyful moments in your lovely home…Liz

    • Thank you for writing, Liz. I can’t tell you how much the support of friends and family has meant to me through this difficult time. I send my best wishes to you and your family for a merry holiday season ~

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