Today | Hannah & Husband

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes. 
You can steer yourself in any 
direction you choose. 

You’re on your own, 
and you know what you know. 
And you are the guy 
who’ll decide where to go.

-Dr. Seuss

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don’t Use

We all have those rooms–the ones we shut the door on and try to forget the Christmas gifts we’ll never use that are piled on the chair we meant to have reupholstered. Shudder no more my friend! It’s a new year. You can do this. Here are three ways to add soul to a room you don’t use. In no time, you’ll have guests thinking, “They just know exactly what to do with their space!”

For us, that room is an upstairs bedroom. We have the one guest room that is used for guests and the other one that is used for linen storage/books/that pile for Goodwill. Sure, we could have kids some day and this space could come in super handy, but at the moment we think of it as that one other room we have to vacuum. So one weekend we took a few easy steps to add a little soul, and now it’s known as our “sitting room” thankyouverymuch.

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

The gallery wall and rug in our “sitting room.” If you want to learn how to make the upholstered bench, click here.

3 Ways to Add Soul

Cozy things up

ie: Buy a cheap rug. You can sometimes find vintage orientals on Craigslist* or in antique malls. Another option is salvage stores. My instinct is always to look for color and pattern (hides the wine drips). But if you want a lighter look, find a white rug with some seriously soft texture.

*The one rule here is to make sure they don’t smell like smoke.


Hang some art. Better yet, hang a lot of it. Gallery walls are a great alternative to painting walls. (Hello, renters!) When we first bought our house, I was paralyzed by the fear that I would hang something in the wrong spot. Remember, if you don’t like where you hang something, you can always move it later.

Click here for an easy way to hang a gallery wall.

Next: Books, board games, and linens. Extra rooms are a great place for storage (thus all the piles) so why not embrace that? But (pro tip) this is not the place to put your DVD collection. Think of tactile personal objects that add warmth–a shelf full of clean quilts ready to be grabbed for a spur-of-the-moment picnic perhaps!

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

We picked this vintage hanging light up for $5 and redid it. Here’s how.

Look at Your Fixtures

Fixture: A legal concept referring to something that
is permanently attached to a property.

Think door knobs, light fixtures, outlet covers, even the hooks in the bathroom. What one fixture could you replace to make things feel a bit more you? Regardless of what you choose, this is an upgrade that makes a big impact with less than an hour of effort!

Pro Tip: Scour the vintage shops for fixtures. They always come with a bit of the story, and that’s just what you need.

Finally, a little recommended listening for your room redo. Trust me on this one…


Yesterday a friend of mine sent me this video. Watch it start to finish. It’ll blow your mind a little bit!

Lately, Husband and I have been having a lot of conversations about living in the moment–about monotasking and focus. We both have jobs where we spend the majority of our day in front of screens and often we find ourselves checking our twitter feeds regardless of our surroundings or company. There are so many devices trying to talk to us at any given point that it’s often hard to focus on the task at hand. Confucius quote So when I watched this performance, two things struck me. First of all, the intense concentration that Miyoko Shida has on what she is doing. How often do you perform one task, quietly (a state that is really hard for me in general) giving your complete attention to what you’re doing? Since Husband and I started talking about monotasking, I’ve found an everyday chore like washing the dishes can become something like a meditative exercise when done in silence–no dings coming from my phone and no Big Bang Theory blaring from the TV in the other room. It really clears my mind. Anne Morrow Lindbergh The other thing I’ve found is that it is easier to be creative when my mind is free of distractions. We all go through times of creative block, regardless of whether you have a creative job like I do or not. But, I’ve found that when my mind is free of the noise from Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s easier to come up with brand new ideas and work through creative problems. This brings me to the second thing I found so fascinating about Miyoko Shida’s performance: her willingness to create something impermanent. Often times, I think we hang on to routines and processes regardless of whether or not they work. Getting out of the box and having a willingness to change or even destroy the tangible things or the ideas I’ve created in the past has given me a new sense of freedom in my work and in our home. Steve Jobs quote Be quiet. Remove distractions. Focus on the task at hand.

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It’s Monday, Y’all!

Random Fact from my Life Last Week: Everyone I know is in a funk.

Personally, I blame the weather… and Lent… and the fact that everyone was referencing Les Misérables last week in the news because of the Oscar buzz. (Total downer, right?) Anywho, I am taking it upon myself to give you a little Monday pick-me-up.

Dorothy Draper quote | Secrets of a Belle

“Keep busy searching out new ideas…” How you ask? Here are a few ideas…

Get a notebook. Carry it everywhere. Write things down.
Quotes. Moments. Doodles. Color combos. Whatever floats your boat.


Read this book… Bestie got it for me a few years ago, and it still never fails to get me excited about making stuff.

Paul Arden "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be"

Read it? Then pick up a biography. Or find an author you’ve never read before. Or… wait for it… How about trying a new cookbook? (Personally, this one’s my new favorite!)

Maybe try a new method of cooking? or maybe just a new way of executing something you’ve done the same way for years. Rearrange your kitchen, mix up your wardrobe, find a signature color for March.

Try a new color palette.  |  Secrets of a Belle

Need a little fashion inspiration? Why not pick up a movie you’ve never seen before. I fully support Mariah & Michele’s suggestion that you pick up a screwball comedy this week. Or how about a musical? (more on that later)

Don’t want to watch a musical? Just listen to some funky music. Might I suggest this playlist? Or how about this to get you started…

BTW, when was the last time you boogied?

Need an excuse to boogie? Remember, celebrating the ordinary, every day going-ons is just as important as celebrating the big events! And, on that note, here’s another tip: Make it a habit to always have champagne on hand.

Celebrate the every day!  |  Secrets of a Belle

Finally, turn off your computer/iPhone/Twitter/Facebook. Even if it’s just for a few hours when you get home in the evenings. We will all still be here when you get back, I promise!

Springtime on My Mind

Springtime on My Mind | Secrets of a Belle

One of my friends came up to me yesterday and said that he felt Spring coming. Personally, I think it was wishful thinking, but I will admit that I have had Springtime on my mind lately too. I keep being drawn to florals. There may be no flowers outside my door, but they are definitely appearing in my closet. So when I was in Target yesterday and saw these pants, I couldn’t resist! One thing led to another… you know how that goes…

(As a side note, the girl in that picture doesn’t look nearly as happy as that shirt will make you feel. My tailored shirt from Banana Republic is a favorite in my closet right now.)

Now a small disclaimer, my obsession with Springtime may have a little bit to do with our latest site release at work: HGTVGardens! It is such a cool site, and I was super honored to work on the design team. Be sure to click over and take a look!

Hello, Gorgeous!

Hello and happy Monday! Today your random links are really just one link. Might I suggest you click on over to The New York Times and read The Author Himself Was a Cat in the Hat.Dr. Seuss & the Mrs. wearing one of his many hats.

This fantabulous photo is from the New York Times.

In retrospect, it is really no surprise at all that Dr. Seuss was a hat man. A hat is, after all, the most whimsical of all accessory choices. I especially loved this quote from his wife….

 “Believe me, when you get a dozen people seated at a fairly formal dinner party,” his widow, Audrey, said in an interview… “and they’ve all got on perfectly ridiculous chapeaus, the evening takes care of itself.”

Doesn’t that just make you want to change your dress code for all house guests now? Looking for a fab new hat for yourself? I found a few that I particularly love over at Anthropologie. They have just the right amount of quirky, don’t you think?

hats from Anthropologie

Looking for a little more Dr. Seuss inspiration to bright up this February Monday?

To learn more about the man: Watch this.

To find out where Seuss got his inspiration: Read this.

Want to hear a really great story? Listen to this.

Snapshot of a Sunday

First of all, please let me apologize for my absence. This past week, Husband & I ended up in Ohio after the very unexpected death of my very favorite aunt and 2nd mother, Vangie Hughes. We spent the days with family and friends overwhelmed by the love and support that came from everyone we talked to.

She was truly one-of-a-kind. We heard story after story from people who credited her with being the reason they had a relationship with Jesus, praised her love & acceptance of each person she met, and talked about how she was ‘their very best friend.’ She was the embodiment of mercy, and the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of people that showed up to celebrate her life with us on a very snowy Friday afternoon testified to that.

All that to say, today I wanted to share one of my favorite snapshots of Aunt Vangie taken just before her senior prom. Is that dress not killer? (Sidenote: why don’t we wear gloves anymore?)

Aunt Vangie & Mom on their way to prom, 1969  |  Secrets of a Belle

Aunt Vangie & Mom on their way to prom, 1969

I was trying to think of how I could share Aunt Vangie’s spirit here on the blog before getting back into my regular weekly groove when several friends sent me a message to read her “About Me.” You know that part on Facebook that most of us either never fill out or post something utterly ridiculous? Well, Aunt Vangie’s “About Me” was pretty fantastic because it really is exactly who she was. So here goes…

I am happily married to Gary Dean Hughes, my best friend and a wonderful pastor!
He has encouraged me to do more than I ever thought I could do and has been my cheerleader!!! What a wonderful support he has been for me. It’s a joy to serve in ministry at his side for the Lord Jesus Christ! I want my life to be remembered as a prayer warrior and dedicated woman of God. I love God with all my heart and I’m totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit and His guidance! It’s a joy to think about all that God has yet planned for Gary and me.

And then she proceeds to list all of her family & favorite people… for 3 more paragraphs.

I know this post could be a bit of a downer, but I hope you take as an encouragement to reflect, as I have this week, about what you are known for, how you treat people, and, most importantly, how you love people. Thanks for indulging me. xo* ~HB

Style File: Lucille Ball

Last night, we watched something fabulous on PBS called Pioneers of Television: Funny Ladies. I found it both inspiring and also rather disheartening… how did we go from I Love Lucy & Mary Tyler Moore to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? (And, for that matter, does anyone else remember when TLC really was The Learning Channel?) Anyway, all that to say, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to draw on a little inspiration from one of my favorite ladies of the past: Lucille Ball.

Style File: Lucille Ball  |  Secrets of a Belle

1.) Whoever said blondes have more fun was dead wrong! Having been many colors of the rainbow myself, I can definitely vouch for the redhead. Despite what Anne Shirley would tell you, everyone should embrace the fun & carefree spirit of red hair at least once!

“Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.”

Also on that note…

2.) If you are lucky enough to find your signature look young, stick with it. Lucy was not a redhead until she was 32 when she dyed her hair to a flaming red after getting a part in a new MGM picture. However, she was smart enough to know a good thing when she found it and suddenly she went from being known as “Queen of the B’s” (seriously: check out imdb… the girl could own a B movie) to the *Lucy* that we all know and love.

“The more things you do, the more you can do.”

Style File: Lucille Ball  |  Secrets of a Belle

“I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”

3.) Always be willing to try new things. Say what you like about Lucy, but she was never known as ‘timid.’ If only we were all so brave.

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

Style File: Lucille Ball  |  Secrets of a Belle

4.) Play the part of devoted wife. This involves patience with your husband when starts pontificating in Spanish, regular visits to the salon, cute aprons and, of course, putting on your pearls & a fresh coat of lipstick before he gets home!

“How I Love Lucy was born? We decided that instead of divorce lawyers profiting from our mistakes, we’d profit from them.”

Style File: Lucille Ball  |  Secrets of a Belle

5.) No one will ever love you like your pup, so why not have 2?

“The more things you do, the more you can do.”

Style File: Lucille Ball  |  Secrets of a Belle

6.) She may have been a screwball comic, but she was also a great fashionista! Think polka dots, scarves & bedazzled horn-rimmed glasses. Just remember, ladies don’t smoke… and those that do catch their fake noses on fire.

“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”

Style File: Lucille Ball  |  Secrets of a Belle

7.) Share your successes with your friends. While Lucille Ball was initially stand-offish about the casting of Vivian Vance as her sidekick Ethel Mertz, the 2 quickly became friends and remained close until Vance’s death in 1979. (One random fact that’s worth noting: Vance was around Lucy’s age and was really quite a looker so on the show she was made to wear frumpier clothing so that the 2 contrasted a little better.)

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’ t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”

Decking the Halls

I always *love* having our home decorated for the holidays! And, I must tell you, this Christmas is even better because I’ve had the chance to make so many of the decorations myself. So I thought I’d share a little peek inside…



{ Click here to see the Christmas collage How-To. }

{ Click here to see my Card Wreath How-To on }

There are decorations all over the house, but I cannot seem to pull myself away from the living room. What about you? Do you have favorite room in your house during the holidays?

Life Lessons from George Bailey

When I was growing up, my family’s tradition was to decorate the Christmas tree while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I like to think that the movies one watches during the holidays say a lot about him or her and his or her family. For instance, the first year I celebrated Christmas with my in-laws they watched Gran Torino after opening presents. (For the record, after being scarred for life, I now pick the post-present movie.) So I thought that as this holiday season really begins to get ramped up, it’s only appropriate that I share a few of the life lessons that I took in after countless viewings of The Life & Times of George Bailey…

wish It's a Wonderful Life

It’s always important to make wishes.

dance It's a Wonderful Life

Ruffles, a cute hairstyle, & a great corsage are great, but a girl who knows how to get a guy dancing can make him do anything she wants.

bathrobe It's a Wonderful Life

You can feel like royalty wearing just about anything. It’s all in how you wear it.

old house it's a wonderful life

Dream big and always look for the potential when others can’t see it!

Mother-in-Law It's a Wonderful Life

Always keep an eye on your mother-in-law, especially if she tends to run around in pin curls and a bath robe.

bar It's a Wonderful Life

Live your life right so that you know if you hadn’t been born all your friends would be floozies with a penchant for alcohol…

Or worse, they’d mix plaid with stripes and polka dots!

It's a Wonderful Life

So what about you? What does your family watch while decorating the Christmas tree?