Scandinavian Decor in the Little House books

The Little House series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder were my absolute favorite reads as a child, and I still love reading them to my own children now. My oldest daughter and I were reading On the Banks of Plum Creek yesterday, which you may remember as the story of the Ingalls family settling in Minnesota; briefly living in a dugout house next to Plum Creek; building a new house and starting a farm, only to have it destroyed by a plague of locusts.

One of the Ingalls' few neighbors were the Nelsons, a husband and wife from Norway with a baby girl named Anna.

Laura describes visiting the Nelsons, and remarks on how their buildings even "looked Norwegian". There were clear differences between all the homes that Laura had ever known, and how the Nelsons set up a home.

"Mr. Nelson's house was long and low and its board walls were whitewashed. His long, low sod stable had a thick roof made of hay. They did not look like Pa's house and Pa's stable. They cuddled to the ground, under a slope of the prairie, and they looked as if they spoke Norwegian.

The house was shining clean inside. The big bed was plumped high with feathers and the pillows were high and fat. On the wall hung a beautiful picture of a lady dressed in blue. Its frame was thick gold, and bright pink mosquito-netting covered the lady and the frame, to keep the flies off."

Reading that now as an adult, it jumped off the page to me. Visualizing how that house must have looked, I felt like I could be browsing Apartment Therapy or Decor8. It's not just the clean space and bright walls, but the mention of color and simplicity. This is a perfect example of how some classic looks will never go out of style.

Honestly, I'd like to dig through these books again and develop a series of posts looking at home decor in the Little House series. I'm one of those people who prefers a smaller home, and I think there is a lot to learn about what worked for people in the past.

Image credits: SILVĂ…KRA motif created by Aurore on; White-washed wood paneling mural from via

Painting My Girls' Room Lilac Purple with Lullaby Paints

My daughters share a room, and I am still working on giving their room a makeover. It's been about seven months now, making me one of the slowest home bloggers out there. 

On the other hand, I think I am going about this realistically. Not everyone can afford to go out and buy everything to decorate a room all at once. There is nothing wrong with taking your time and building a room piece by piece.

The room makeover started last summer with priming the walls (which were previously black); building a set of un-bunked bunk beds; and new bedding for the girls.

We paused the process because we weren't sure what we wanted to do with the walls. Part of me wanted to paint them white, while part of me liked the idea of purple or pink.

I put the idea on hold for a few months, until Lullaby Paints contacted me to give their interior paints a try. 

I've used their chalkboard paint before, and you can see them featured here on She Makes a Home on terracotta herb pots.

The benefit of Lullaby Paints is that they do not contain toxic chemicals found in traditional paints, such as terpenes, formaldehyde, acrolein, phthalates, glycol, toluene, methylene chloride, styrene, trichloroethylene, xylenes, benzene, and more. Lullaby Paints also does not contain glycol, which is linked to asthma and allergies in children. Even traditional paints claiming to be Zero VOC can contain glycol.

Lullaby Paints did send me paint in the color of my choice for free; however, I am not being paid to write this post, nor to review this experience. These are my honest thoughts.

When browsing their site to find a color the girls and I would like, I thought they could use a little more variety. There were only two colors on their site that I was seriously considering (Lilac and Cotton Candy); however, Lullaby Paints can create custom colors based on the colors of any other company out there, making the possibilities practically endless.

We ended up choosing Lullaby Paints in Lilac. The color was a little more cool-toned than I wanted, but I thought that cooler might be better since I have a lot of gray in that room.

image credit: Lullaby Paints
When the package arrived, I had forgotten that the paint comes in pouches, rather than metal cans. I absolutely love this! From my experience, these are the benefits of pouches:

1. Easy to open. I did not need my metal paint can opener, which is lucky, because I don't know where it is. The pouches use screw on/off plastic lids.

2. Easy to pour: since you're working with a ~2" opening rather than a wide-open bucket shape, pouring the paint into my paint try was easy and not messy.

3. Easy to save paint: I might be the only one with this problem, but when I open traditional paint buckets, I tend to bend the metal lid, and thus, am not able to close the can tightly. The screw on cap closes the pouch completely, and I think my leftover paint will last a long time because of that.

My only complaint about the pouches: They seem to create something of a mustard plug in the opening of the pouch. This happened the first time I opened the paint: I went to pour it into the paint tray, and the first thing that came out was a tube-shaped lump of paint. It was easy to remove, but little bits of it did break off and some of it mixed in to the rest of the paint in the tray. I don't know if this is common, or if this is because I ordered my paint in the winter and it sat on my front porch for a while in the cold.

Now, on to the performance of the paint.

I found the coverage to be really good. I only had to do one coat, which I am really, really happy about. A few spots I went over again, simply due to human error when using a roller paint brush, but it was a beautifully thick paint with no show-through of the white primer.

The color turned out more beautiful that I was expecting. I was expecting something of a cooler, almost gray-purple, and the shade of purple almost has some warmth to it.

The girls and I love the new color of their room. Thank you so much to Lullaby Paints for letting us try your beautiful paint!

I will do a full reveal of their room once it's finished. I still have to add some wall art; a rug; and organize the closet a bit. More on that later!

A Brand New Bed on a $1,000 Budget

It all started with the mattress. When my husband and I were newlyweds seven years ago, we were just finishing up college and working part-time jobs. We bought the cheapest, most inexpensive mattress one could buy at the Art Van Clearance Center. As it turns out, it's not even a standard full size mattress - my feet hang off the end, and I'm only 5'6".

We finally had enough of that under-sized mattress, and the squeaky metal bed frame that went with it. We were on a budget, and I spent a few weeks researching what I wanted.

#1: a mattress with pocket coils and a pillow top. The pocket coils are supposed to prevent up and down movements being transferred from one side of the bed to the other.

#2: a bed frame with headboard that is actually attractive. Our previous bed frame was a simple, metal frame, and the headboard was attached separately. I think this contributed to the squeaking. I wanted a frame where the headboard was a part of the frame. I also wanted an upholstered headboard with a mid-century vibe to fit with our 1959 ranch house.

#3: everything, the bed including the bedding, couldn't be over $1,000.

#4: everything had to be new. I am all for buying second-hand; accepting hand-me-downs; thrifting, etc.; BUT! Not when it comes to beds. I have heard of way too many people having bed bugs, and it's a risk I'm not willing to take. So new furniture and mattress it is.

I decided on the Stacy Queen Platform Bed in gray*. Most upholstered beds in my price range were a faux leather material that I did not like, and this was one of the few that was upholstered fabric. Additionally, it was gray like I was hoping for, and even the legs of the bed look great with the mid-century feel that I'm going for.

It occurred to me that a platform bed would help me stay on budget, since I wouldn't have to buy a box spring to go with the mattress. The Stacy platform bed comes with 12 slats (vs. other beds that only came with 4 slats), which helps with stability.

This bed frame was $526. I got it for $263 on Amazon*, with $89 shipping.

The next step was the mattress. Many mattresses, even on Amazon, come in a set with a box spring. I did not need a box spring, so that narrowed the search. Only wanting pocket coils also narrowed the search. I picked the Classic Brands Gramercy 14 Inch Hybrid Cool Gel Memory Foam and Innerspring Mattress, Queen Size*. The coils are separated by their own little pockets; it is a 14" mattress topped with 6 layers of pillow top fibers, foam, and cool gel memory foam. It shipped free with Amazon Prime for $549.78. When we tried it out, I couldn't feel any movement from the other side of the bed. Amazing.

Finally, I needed a mattress pad; a comforter; and sheets. I chose the Utopia Bedding Fitted Mattress Cover ($17.99); the 1500 thread count, 4 piece bed sheet set in gray* for $25; and the  Cozy Beddings Reversible Down Alternative Comforter Set, Full/Queen, Green/Sage* for $56.99. I got free shipping on all of these items.

The throw pillow is a cover that I already owned. It's actually my own design, which you can find on Society6 for $20.

The grand total of everything, including shipping, was $1,001.76. I was $1.76 over budget, and I am totally okay with that. This bed is also kitty-approved:

*My Amazon affiliate link.

My Big Secret(s)

For a few days now, I have been teasing a big secret reveal happening this week. Some of it has leaked out already, so some of this won't be a huge surprise.

For over seven years now, I have been blogging at She Makes a Home. This site started when I was 22 years old. I was still working on my Bachelor of Science degree. I was a newlywed, living in a small, one bedroom apartment, and I was working part-time as an office assistant. I had also just started my online stationery shop on Etsy just a few months before that. The purpose of this blog was to document the journey of running an online store; to share what I was learning about owning a business; and to record my adventure as a young adult making her first home.

So much has changed in the last seven years. We've graduated from college; changed jobs; moved four times; had 2 children; and I'll be 30 later this year. While there are some down sides to getting older, I'm finding mostly positives. The most important change in my life has been clarity, especially when it comes to my desires and what I want to get out of life. That leads to big announcement #1:

I'm closing my Etsy shop

Well, almost. The shop will still be there, but I am phasing out my retail stationery lines. I've been making greeting cards for over seven years, and I feel that designing stationery has given me all of the fulfillment from it that I am likely to get.

Until recently, my stationery shop has added so much satisfaction to my life. When I started it so many years ago, I never dreamed that I would work with national retailers; become an Etsy featured artist; be featured in two printed books; an e-book; a magazine; and nationally-known websites like The Huffington Post and It has been an incredible ride and it is a little difficult to let go.

The Ashley Pahl shop on Etsy will remain open to house my original paintings for sale. Eventually, I hope to sell other products there with my original paintings on them, such as prints, pillows, etc. I've started adding my original paintings to the shop, and some of my favorite paper cut cards that are still in stock will remain listed for the time being. This leads me to announcement #2:

I'm painting again

While I made a business out of paper cut stationery, my true passion was always painting. I've been painting for as long as I can remember, but life gets in the way. Things like college; jobs; and children. I never believed I could make a career as an artist, so I never pursued it.

But, here I am painting again. I've actually touched on this a few times on this blog, but I haven't made a formal announcement that yes, this is what I am doing now. I am not limiting myself because I also dabble in charcoal portraits, watercolors, and photography. I think my style is still evolving as I further develop my skills, but I haven't felt this free and inspired in many, many years.

I have opened shops on Society6 and on Redbubble where prints of my work are available, as well as my work on home goods and accessories.

And finally, my last announcement:

I have a new blog

She Makes a Home will not cease to exist. Through the years, She Makes a Home has documented my life as I work, live, and play at home. Indie business tips. Recipes. DIY projects. Decorating my first owned-home. Being a work-at-home mom.

From now on, She Makes a Home will be much more home-oriented, and much less business-oriented. My home is still an on-going project and I have a lot planned for it yet. I look forward to sharing these little transformations with you. I'll still probably share a recipe with you from time-to-time.

My new blog is at Ashley Pahl: art, love, and geology in the Great Lakes. The Ashley Pahl blog ( seeks to connect art with nature, geology, and the universe around us. Through my own travel photography; found object inspiration; interesting people and art tutorials, I want to provide readers with inspiration, motivation, and education in art, science, and a love for living life to the fullest. That's my mission statement.

Oh! One more thing

I'm on Instagram now. I feel like I am the last one to the party, but I'm a very visual person, and I'm really excited to be using it now. My handle is @THEAshleyPahl. Hope to see you there!

So that is what I've been building towards the last few weeks. Digitizing my art, creating new websites and social media accounts. It's been busy, but fulfilling and exciting - and that's all I really want out of life right now.

Three Things Thursday: Star Nurseries, Birch Trees, and Instagram

They're the top three things that I love this week. They may be sweet, they may be smart, or they may be just to eat... 

► When I was 13 or 14 years old, I saw the Eagle Nebula for the first time in a magazine. I was instantly hooked on anything to do with astronomy and physics. At that time, my knowledge of the universe didn't extend beyond the solar system, although I knew about comets and galaxies. After reading about the Eagle Nebula - a star nursery - I was introduced to the concepts of star life cycles; black holes; time; and the origin and evolution of our universe. It's the main reason I pursued science in college, despite my lifelong love for art. Now that NASA has released high resolution photos of the Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation", I am feeling more inspired than ever. According to Paul Scowen of Arizona State University, "we have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution." You can read more about this nebula; it's structure; and its destruction on

► It feels odd to jump from the cosmic wonders of our universe to home decor, but I love this birch tree shower curtain* designed by Vermont Greetings. My bathroom is very small, windowless, and painted teal, so I would love a light-colored shower curtain like this one, and its bold design. Vermont Greetings offers this design on other items, like clocks, duvets, art prints, iPhone skins, and more.

► Finally... I just joined Instagram, and I love it. I'm not big on social media, as there are some platforms that I just don't get - mostly Twitter. Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I'm not social enough to make Twitter happen for me. On the other hand, I really enjoy visual social media. Facebook is pretty fun for me, although they are changing the way pages work and I miss a LOT of what I want to see on there now. Pinterest is a lot of fun, but also overwhelming at times. I just started on Instagram last week, but I really enjoy it so far. If you want to follow me, I'm @TheAshleyPahl.

* Disclosure: I am a Society6 curator
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