My Word of the Year & Tips for Choosing Yours

This is the third year I’ve chosen a word to summarize my goals for the new year. At this point, I have developed a method for choosing a word so I wanted to share a little more about mine and also share my tips for how to choose a word of the year for yourself. I first heard about this idea on one of my favorite podcasts, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In 2017, my word was “Steadfast”. In 2018, as I was approaching new motherhood, I chose the words “Growth & Grace”. For 2019, I didn’t have to think long for the word to come to me:



Learning to be “Steadfast” meant finding alignment and cultivating a spirit of preparedness and follow through. My year of “Growth & Grace” was about devoting myself to improvement but only in the areas that were most important to me. Not hustling for the sake of appearances or glorifying being “busy” but growing deeper into my values while giving myself space to make mistakes and change my mind in the midst of challenging transitions. I’m dedicating my 2019 to learning how and creating space to “Bloom”.

Over these years, I’ve been dedicated to cutting out what isn’t working in my home, business and life, developing systems, simplifying wherever possible and planting the seeds for what the best version of these things can be. In 2016, I essentially blew up my life (in a good way!) by leaving my full-time job to work for myself and this year feels a bit like that energy is coming full circle. Before you get worried, I’m not envisioning any huge changes like quitting a job or starting a new business this year!

I’ve told Anthony many times that I feel like I’ve been waiting for this season of life for as long as I can remember. I was kind of an odd kid and teenager. I was definitely the “mom” of our friend group, making birthday cakes for everyone at our lunch table and giving out life and relationship advice like it was my job. I thought I was so wise as a 17 year old… but I didn’t feel like I fit in with other people my age. I thought college would be where things finally clicked for me. I found amazing lifelong friends at my small women’s college and felt more at home than I ever had before, but I still felt like things weren’t quite right. Even in the early days of our marriage, I felt like I was always looking for the next thing and never content with where I was.

The day our daughter was born, that feeling completely disappeared for me. Not once since that day have I wished time away or wanted to be anywhere else. For the first time, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in life and all I want to do is give my best to this season. I feel so grateful for everything I have and everyone I hold dear and I want to do them justice. I am feeling called to step into my full potential as a wife, mother, entrepreneur, friend, interior designer and homemaker. To fully bloom.

Tips for Choosing a Word of the Year

First and foremost, my advice is to listen to your intuition. If there’s a word that pops into your head immediately, that’s probably your inner self guiding you towards what you need most. There are a few things I do around the end of one year and the start of a new one that also help to guide me in setting intentions for what I want to work on in the coming months.

  1. Make a list of accomplishments from the past year. | First, I write a list of every victory from the past year - big and small. Things that I took and active role in achieving but also positive things that happened to me and my family by luck, fate or divine intervention - however you want to view it! It’s sometimes easy to dwell on the hard stuff and forget all the good things that happen to us. This exercise alone is so helpful in remembering the progress I’ve made and having a positive view of the year gone by. I love looking back on this list from years past and remembering all the ways life has been good to us.

  2. Make a list of things that didn’t go so well and - most importantly - how to fix it. | I always want to focus on the positive but that doesn’t mean I ignore the negative. I try to view every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, so this list is usually pretty short but at the same time, the few things on it can feel pretty heavy. My goal is to not write the same things in this list next year that I wrote this year, so I also think of an action plan. Taking steps to fix whatever didn’t go well may look like letting go of that thing or my expectations around it, seeking help from a friend, coach or therapist or most likely a combination of those things. Just a reminder that if you’re struggling with something, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’ve worked with both a therapist and a life coach in the past and both helped me immensely in becoming a happier, brighter version of myself.

  3. Ask yourself what you want most for the coming year. | The last list I make is a list of what I want to achieve in the coming year. This is a little bit different than a list of resolutions to me because it’s based more on feelings I want to bring into my life than just a list of to-do’s. I think about my deepest desires and just start writing a bullet list. I try to keep this to one page because I want to focus on just my top priorities for the year ahead and not overcrowd my mind with things that don’t aren’t as meaningful to me. From this list, I start thinking about themes or common threads that could tie these things together.

  4. Listen to your intuition. | At this point, I’m guessing that a word or several words will have popped up for you that could be potential words of the year. If you are having trouble choosing, I recommend taking even just 5-10 minutes to meditate or journal about your thoughts on each word. What holds the most meaning for you? What captures your goals for the year in the fullest and simplest way? Don’t overthink this too much. Listen to the nudges your inner self is giving you and trust it.

Now, once you’ve chosen a word for your 2019, come back and tell me what it is! I would love to hear if these tips were helpful for you. Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.

Favorite Posts from 2018

This has been a huge year for me in so many ways! Compiling this list made me realize even more just how much has happened this year and how much I’ve grown both personally and professionally. Most of all, I am thankful for our daughter Sage making me a mama this year! These last six months with my little family of three have been so wonderful. As a creative and entrepreneur, I also feel a renewed sense of purpose and direction because of the changes this year has brought. I’m looking forward to sharing more about that journey in the New Year! Here are my favorite blog posts from 2018, starting in January…

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June: Meet Sage

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What a year it’s been! Whether you found your way to my blog in 2018 or you’ve been here since the beginning, I want to say a big THANK YOU! It means so much to have your support and I’ve met so many kind-hearted, encouraging friends through blogging! I love creating and sharing in this little corner of the internet for you guys. Have a very Happy New Year!

A Christmas Recap | 2018

This Christmas was special because it was Sage’s first. In years past, I shared multiple posts in the month of December about how I was decorating, what our Christmas cards looked like and other holiday inspiration. But this year, I’m sharing my first (and only) Christmas blog post today and it’s New Years Eve! While it’s a bit late to share any inspiration for this year, I still wanted to document what this Christmas looked like for our family, from simple decorating to establishing some new traditions.



We put up our tree just before Thanksgiving - something I never thought I would do! - but I took my time decorating it. In fact, I added the wood bead garland just a couple days before Christmas. Our nieces did some rearranging of ornaments, but I didn’t bother to fix it before snapping this photo this morning. The tree looks a little sparse here, but with the lights on it’s just right! Perfectly imperfect. Other than the tree, I kept the decorations very minimal. Just pulling out a few things from the attic like this gold deer I thrifted years ago and some small ceramic Santa figurines that belonged to my Nana.


Christmas Cards

I love designing cards to send to our friends and family every year! We had our photos taken three times by Savannah Smith Photography this year so I added some extra favorites to the back side of our cards. I always share our highlights and wishes for the coming year. This year, they are pretty simple and all about Sage! I keep a copy of each year’s Christmas card in an album that I really love flipping through this time of year. You can see our previous years cards here: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

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New Traditions

Sage’s first Christmas felt a little like my first Christmas again. Holidays start to lose their magic in your young adult years but I can attest that once you have a child of your own, that spark comes back. My wish for Sage was to have a simple and meaningful first Christmas. We started some new traditions, like a Christmas Eve Brunch complete with homemade waffles and giving Sage just four gifts: want, need, wear and read. We aren’t sure how and if we’ll do Santa for Sage, but we have another 359 days to figure that out! We celebrated Christmas morning at home and had family come to visit in the afternoon. I really couldn’t have imagined a more perfect day for our first Christmas as a family of three.


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My 6-Step Design Process

If you’ve never worked with a professional interior designer before, you may be wondering how the whole process works. While each designer has their own methods, I want to share the steps my full-service projects go through, from start to finish in completing a room makeover. You may know I also offer E-Design Minis and E-Design Consulting to clients nationwide, but this blog post is focused on my in-person services which are available residents of south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.


Step 1: Your Design Consultation

When I receive a new inquiry, the first thing I do is spend some time getting to know you! I usually ask a few questions in that first email and then will often schedule a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation where we talk through your needs and I answer any questions you may have. Next we will schedule your in-home Interior Design Consultation, a two hour appointment where we will lay the ground work for your room project, from defining your style to problem solving tricky areas and practical considerations that suit your family’s lifestyle.

Step 2: Your Project Guide

After your Design Consultation, I get to work preparing a custom proposal I call your Project Guide. This will include a visual inspiration collage that captures your style goals, a project budget sheet to help you plan your investment, a floor plan and summary of my design notes from your consultation and a quote for design services moving forward. Your Project Guide PDF will be delivered via email, typically 2 weeks after your consultation date.

Step 3: Design Concept

The next step is to pinpoint the direction we want to take your project. I design 2-3 Mood Board concepts for you to choose from. These Mood Boards will have photos of real items you can actually purchase for your space, with a focus on just the main furniture and key accessories to get started. So for a living room, that might be the sofa, chairs, rug, coffee table, etc. I order samples and research materials where applicable and compile the options into a Specification List with product info, pricing and sources. I’ll present all this information to you at our first Design Meeting, where we can talk through the options and settle on one favorite concept to move forward with.

Step 4: Design Development

After the Design Concept has been approved, then we can set to work finalizing the details. In this phase, I’ll create more developed drawings of your room design and source things like accent furniture, lighting, textiles and accessories. Depending on the size of your project or if it includes renovation, we may have one or two more Design Meetings before we move onto the implementation stage of your design. I will finalize your project Specification List and total up the costs for furnishings and assist you with getting estimates for any work involving the trades (i.e. electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc).

Step 5: Implementation

Next up is shopping! I provide full-service purchasing, order management and implementation for local interior design clients. We start with custom orders, which take the longest time as these items are made to order, then work down the list completing online orders and shopping in local stores. I follow up after orders have been placed, keeping track of estimated delivery dates, being on-site to accept deliveries if you can’t be, troubleshooting any issues with shipments or making returns/exchanges if necessary.

Step 6: Project Completion

Once all of your orders have arrived, we’ll schedule an Install Day where my team and I will arrange your new furniture, load-in new accessories and accents, hang artwork, install window treatments and style out your room. While we’re there, make a punch list of any last items we need so we can come back to put the finishing touches on your space and photograph it!

There are many variables that make each design project unique, but all of my client projects more or less go through these same 6 steps! I hope this was helpful in illustrating a bit more of what I do and how my design services work.

Have a question? Comment below or shoot me an email at