Home again, home again.

We moved a few weeks ago, which even though it was time, felt bittersweet. We were in our last house for over three years. After having to move suddenly from Chicago when we found out G was sick, and a short time in Austin, it was the first place that felt like “home” for our little family. When I was 5 we moved from our first house into the house where my mom still lives 24 years later, but every time I pass that first house where we probably only lived for two or three years, I feel a little pang of “that’s my home”. It’s funny how we attach to homes and the lives we lived there.

I have stayed very attached to our Chicago home. A few weeks before we moved we were in town visiting Pete’s family, and as I always do, I took a walk around our old neighborhood and past our house we lovingly called “Clifford”. The new owners were very gracious to let us go in and tour it a few years ago, but they have been there longer than we were now and I didn’t want to impose. I wondered what would have happened if we been able to stay in Chicago- would we have lived there forever like we thought, or eventually trekked out to the suburbs like so many of our friends are doing now?

I actually got an email from the current owners a few days later- apparently they have had two kids since they bought the home, and felt it was time for more family friendly space and that they were planning to sell. It was fun to see the listing and how much of the design they kept, and what they had changed to make the house work for them.

Before our most recent move, I had our house shot professionally one more time for my own memories. The first time we shot the house for Matchbook we had only been in a few months, and I wanted to capture how the house had changed and grown as we settled in with our family. It has been fun to look back on how the rooms changed over the past three years, and to compare them to their counterparts in our Chicago and Austin houses. My favorite part is seeing how much has actually stayed the same.

Chicago 2010 :: Photos by Emily Johnston

Emily Johnston_McCarthy Chicago 23 copy
Emily Johnston_McCarthy Chicago 24 copy

Our first house together, I combined items I had collected for my college house (chandelier, metal trunk side tables) with vintage pieces (pair of wingback chairs that I recovered, antique rug), some budget finds (the pair of consoles that I repainted myself) and our custom-made green velvet sofa. I obsessed over the design of the sofa. It had to be big enough to seat three people comfortably, but still petite to fit the smallish dimensions of the room and allow for flow. It was the biggest purchase I had made for the house, and so I wanted it to be a statement piece.

I understand playing it safe if you are spending a lot on an item that you want to last a long time, a more neutral piece will be more adaptable as your tastes changes. But, I also think if you really love a piece that is more specific and are willing to commit, it’s great to splurge on a statement piece since it will carry it’s design-weight in different spaces without needing a whole lot else going on. With that in mind we chose the tufted style in a bottle green velvet- green is my favorite color so I knew I wouldn’t quickly tire of it, and is a classic that I felt confident could work in different color schemes.

Austin 2011 :: Photos by Paige Newton



It’s always funny to me revisiting pictures from our Austin house- our life in Chicago was so full we honestly never thought we would leave, and our current life in Houston feels so right and like it was always meant to be, that I sometimes forget we had a this short, hectic transition time where we were in Austin. Looking at the pictures I can really sense the feeling we had that took us awhile to recognize of: we rushed into this, we might have made a mistake, let’s not get too comfortable.

Still- it’s neat to see how our furniture transitioned to our Austin living room which was easily thrice the size of Chicago. I purchased a new ottoman from Ballard, and a larger Madeline Weinrib rug to help fill the space. Our Chicago rug lived in the family room off the kitchen in Austin, and the LV trunk coffee table moved from our Chicago family room, and the tiger velvet ottoman went to the playroom.  Art we had in the kitchen in Chicago went above the couch, but other than a fresh coat of pink paint, we didn’t do much else.

Houston 2012 :: Photos by Emily Johnston

Emily Johnston_McCarthy Houston 3 copy

Emily Johnston_McCarthy Houston 2 copy

I think we had been in the house for all of three months when Emily came down to shoot it for Matchbook, and still it feels homier than our house in Austin ever did. Part of that is the scale of the rooms, which were only slightly larger than our house in Chicago and fit our furniture much better. Also, the only new furnishing we purchased for the space was a custom-cut antelope rug which I had loved forever and worked perfectly with our existing pieces while giving them a fresh new look.

Not having to buy furniture for the first time allowed us to focus on layering in art and accessories. At this point we hadn’t hung curtains, and everything on the mantle was borrowed from my mom for the shoot. For art we brought in pieces we already had, filling in with reproductions art.com, mirrors, and other smaller things we used as place holders while we took our time collecting special pieces that we gave each other for birthdays and anniversaries over the next few years.

Houston 2015 :: Photos by David LandShot_18_106 copy

Shot_16_102 copy

I love where this room ended up before we moved. We eventually did hang curtains, and we switched out our ottoman for this smaller blue one that was a better size for the space. Other than that, the only real change is the art we added to our collection over the past few years. Each piece has a special story, and adds another layer to a room that is already so personal.

I think with anything in life, things are pleasing when they are new and shiny and exciting, and then also when they are loved and comforting and familiar. Re-using our existing pieces in different spaces each move always makes them feel exciting again, while still carrying through that instant comfort of home that comes with what is familiar.  With this move we once again found spots for all of our favorite pieces, adding in some new finds, and refreshing the finishes that needed a little love. As nervous as I was about moving my children from their first home- they don’t seem phased at all, and that has made it easier for me to let go and start our lives in our new house without the sweet sadness that has accompanied our past transitions.

21 thoughts on “Home again, home again.

  1. I miss your blog! Love your musings on home and what it means. Are you going to share photos of your new house?

  2. Good luck on your next move! Thanks for the pictures. Do you have a link to the listing of the Chicago house? I’m always curious to see how different owners interpret a place.
    best, LL

  3. I thought I already commented. Not sure, but if this is a duplicate, please don’t repost. I had just given my best wishes for the move and asked if there was a link to see the Chicago real estate listing. I loved Clifford when you had it!

  4. Hi Sally- I have been sharing pics of some details and just day to day life in the house…The past few times I have really rushed to get things together to be photographed, and we want to take our time with this one… I am a total design mag addict and working with a few of my faves on past houses is a huge thrill for me, so I might go that direction, but I’m not sure I will have the patience to wait. Sorry that is probably not that helpful- basically I haven’t decided!

    Laura- thanks so much! I’m a total real-estalker and love looking at listing photos too, but since it’s not my house anymore I’m not sure it’s my place to post it here, ya know?

  5. Bailey, it is SO GREAT to see you posting again! Your design aesthetic is like a breath of fresh air. This post makes me realize how long I’ve been following Peppermint Bliss. Please keep posting, no matter how infrequent – you have a wonderful and unique voice!

  6. Bailey, although we’ve never met I’ve been reading your blog for years so I feel like we’re friends. Isn’t the internet odd that way? I appreciate your thoughtful, interesting posts.

    I am amazed at how much you’ve accomplished in your young life. It excites me to think about reading this blog for years and years to come.

  7. I love every move you have made. I love the way you feel about houses. Your love for your craft/talent/job shows. I am hoping you will share your new house with us. I bet we have to wait for a magazine to feature it. Rats! Best of luck and many blessings in your new home. I hope your son’s health is improving. He and Grace are adorable. One more thing…please return to blogging. You are missed!!!!

  8. Just dropping in to say thank you for posting! I adore your aesthetic so much, and it’s great to look back on how it’s changed through the years. I’m a design blog/magazine addict and nothing gets me as excited as when I see a new post from you.

  9. I have learned so much from you and always look forward to your posts!! Can’t wait to see how the next house unfolds for your family. I love the reflection of G in one of the lamps! She’s a star!!

  10. So happy to see a new post from you! I’ve always admired your taste and style. Blessings to you and your family in your new home!

  11. I think you are the such a talented fascinating person. You were able to convey in words everything I feel about my home. This home I share with my husband and almost grown daughters is the only place we have lived as a family and is filled with treasures from both sides of the family, many from New Orleans. I would much rather spend money on a lampshade or piece of art than a pair of shoes. I often tell people I’m a house snob. There is just no place I would rather be than home. Your post just conjured up all sorts of feelings and I just want to thank you. You are amazing and your family is so very precious. Thank you for so often taking the time to share with us. We are all very blessed to know you-even if it is sort of “virtual”. x

  12. Long time reader, lazy commentor here. I get so excited when I see a post from you pop up on my blog roll! I have enjoyed seeing your designs evolve over the years, and am crossing my fingers that you will share photos of your new home soon. I somtimes ask myself, what would Bailey do? Hah. Your work is so inspiring, as is your pursuit of family life and your own business!

  13. Bailey! I love your blog and point of view! We are mostly advised not to push furniture against the wall but to float. I noticed all of your living rooms have numerous points of entry. What is your thought process when it comes to space planning – to float or not float?

  14. i am so happy that you are posting again. Your unique style is wonderful and I look forward to seeing your new home. You are a great example of the young woman who does so many things well.
    My best wishes for you.

  15. Barbs- I think it depends on the room and it’s use! There are all kinds of rules on how much space you should leave for walkways, how far furniture should be set apart for conversation etc. I usually start by identifying a focal point in the room (i.e. TV/Fireplace/View) and how the furniture should be arranged to best take advantage of that, and then work around traffic issues/obstacles. I think floating or not-to-float depends on the space and it’s use- and both look weird if used exclusively. Some pieces should hug a wall, and some should move out a bit. It’s the same idea as having some skirted/grounded pieces, and some with legs. All legs can look chaotic and a little thrown together, while all skirted tends to be heavy and a little granny. Hope that helps!

  16. Bailey, thank you for responding. I have a long and narrow living room with 3 (!!!) entrances so I am stumped in terms of layout, but your advice certainly helps!

  17. Hi Bailey I too am a huge fan and adore your style. I saw a glimpse of those amazing gold tiles you are using in your new house. Are you able to share the type they are and from which supplier. I absolutely LOVE them.

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