Blog | Lindsey Smallwood


Making a Home Where You Are {Jamie Wright Bagley}

Out of the OrdinaryLindsey Smallwood

So excited to feature Jamie Wright Bagley today, a mama/writer/poet friend I met through my #wholemama group this summer. I love her thoughts about making a home as art and calling. And I might feel a trip to Ikea coming on...

Homemaking is my dream. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that these days, because of my beliefs that women are capable, worthy, and excellent at so much more than playing a certain role, but I think I have to say it anyway, because it is true.

It is not my only dream, but homemaking is one of the big dreams of mine. I don’t think it’s a women’s role anyway. I believe it is an artist’s role. And art belongs to all of us as an invitation and a birthright.

Inside each dwelling is a daily invitation to artistry. I want to put paint on the walls and curtains on the windows and flowers in the backyard and on my dining table. I want to decorate with area rugs and throw pillows and cozy blankets draped neatly over the back of the sofa. I want to simplify my home so that every item and surface can experience the joy of restoration daily or weekly. Why? I love beauty, and I want to create space to live, and laugh, and love well.

Live. Laugh. Love.

I saw these words on the wall of a home on an HGTV show, right after the home had been staged to sell. I don’t watch HGTV regularly, because cable is not on our personal priorities list, but when a show comes to Netflix, I will breeze right through a season of home makeovers and restorations, because they feed the fire of my homemaking aspirations.

My home-ownership dream is yet to be fulfilled. This year, upon realizing not only had we been in our living space for four years but that we would need to continue for at least another year, there was a stirring in my heart where despair usually sets in. While I usually become forlorn at the prospect of being “trapped” in a place that is not my ideal housing arrangement, this year I saw it as a chance to dive in and explore my resources. The stirring was a question: What if wecould make this place home right now? We have all the important ingredients: It takes love, laughter, and vision. It takes caring, determination, and commitment. It takes a healthy dose of creativity. We could certainly do this!

My husband and I accepted the invitation to artistry. We redecorated our living space this summer on a teeny, tiny budget, and it was so good for our hearts. We checked sales papers, and walked through Ikea several times, looking more than buying. It has taken a lot of exploring to decide what we like, because our taste preferences are often opposite: He finds peace in darker colors and earth tones, while I find joy in all things light and bright. He finds comfort in large and overstuffed furniture, and I love to relax with clean lines and lots of white space.

We started small with a couple of needed bed frames. Then it was a new curtain for the shower, where the choice was based on style preference rather than price point. It makes a big difference to buy what you love, even if it costs a little extra. Not a lot extra, mind you. I’m talking $10 or so, because when I say “teeny, tiny budget,” I am not joking. Our wiggle room lies in giving things up, like wine, or cream for coffee, or dessert treats. Those things are not missed because of the happiness factor: A newly decorated room shoots that happiness meter right up to Wowza! When an ordinary apartment has been transformed into a cozy home, the soda and chocolate deficit suddenly seems less significant.

Live. Laugh. Love.

I need these words in my home. I need them to call out from the walls each morning when I rise too early, and move too slowly, and worry too much to be grateful for the goodness of life. I need them to be the prayer I always pray, the blessing I speak over myself and my family, and the mantra I repeat to keep me on track with the things I value: Home, happiness, and togetherness.

Once upon a time, I didn’t bother to have feelings about home decor, or find things that made us happy, because I didn’t believe I was “home” yet. We’ve moved around through a lot of rentals, and I have always shrugged and found it pointless to make it lovely since we probably wouldn’t be there for very long. Renting is hard on a homemaking heart. Waiting is hard on a homemaking heart. It is hard, but it is not impossible. It is possible, and it is worth it. We just have to keep reminding ourselves of what matters the most. I think that’s what inspired our summer makeover.

Life is never the same old, same old. It’s far too breathtaking for that -In ALL the ways! 

This year, I started to believe it.

In the storm of a transforming life, Jamie clings to what matters most: connection, empathy, freedom, happiness, hope, and love. Dreams may have a life cycle, but they are always worth pursuing. What keeps her going is the poetry of living, breathing, and sharing from the depths of her heart.  Find more of her words at or on Twitter @jamiebrightley.

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