the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The Study

There is a program in the LDS religion known as “home teaching” (for men) and “visiting teaching” (for women). Basically you and a companion are assigned families to visit or check up on once a month. It keeps the community strong, enables everyone to help everyone else, and is an absolute pain in the ass.

OOPS! Sorry, Mormons. BUTT. Pain in the butt.

True story: I was on a full tuition scholarship at BYU, and in order to maintain that scholarship I had to keep my grade point average above 3.9. And I was working thirty hours a week. So I fell behind on my visiting teaching duties. You know, because I was barely treading water. This was apparently the worst sin I could have committed, other than maybe drinking a can of Coke out in the open on campus. And loving it.

So my bishop pulled me into his office, wagged his finger in my face and put me on academic probation. Told me he would not sign my ecclesiastical endorsement (you have to be religiously worthy to continue attending BYU) unless I cleaned up my act.

You have no idea how badly I would love to sit across from that man now and describe in intimate detail all the positions of sex I engaged in before I got married. While sipping a Coke and wiping my mouth on my bikini top.

All of this to tell you that in Utah many houses are built with a room specifically designated as the home teaching room. It’s usually right to the side of the front door so that the visit may be a quick one. Most of the Mormons I know accompany the words “home teacher” and “is coming over this afternoon” with a giant, displeased groan. It’s the same groan I make whenever I hear “Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann” and “opened her mouth.”

Sorry, Tea Partiers. I’ve been holding that one in A LONG TIME. I feel better now.

We have one of the home teaching rooms in our new house. And per convention it’s right off to the side of the front door. Since we don’t have home teachers visiting us any longer, we decided to use this room as a study slash sitting room slash mail room. And by mail I mean the constant stream of packages that come to our mailbox, mail that used to sit on the kitchen table that Tyrant used as a desk. Now they have a home of their own! CUTE LITTLE PACKAGES THAT I TUCK INTO BED AT NIGHT! (bed meaning a giant closet) (they are gay packages) (sorry, bad joke) (Dad, are you still reading this?)

I decided that this needed to be the next room to design because anyone who comes over sees this room immediately, and it was collecting boxes and papers at such a ridiculous pace that I feared Marlo may get lost underneath the pile indefinitely. Which would have given us a little breather, but might be this side of frightening for her. Or thrilling, given her mood.

The whole decor of the room started with two adorable poufs I found at Homegoods, a store that happens to be right next door to the salon of the woman who waxes my eyebrows (anyone in town need a good waxer or all around aesthetician? Heather is your woman. And I have made her sign a release that prevents her from telling you anything about my bikini line.)

I hadn’t ever been inside a Homegoods until Heather moved her salon from her house to her new place, and I thought I’d just pop in after an appointment to see if anything caught my eye. BAD DAY FOR THE CHECKBOOK.

The poufs and the lamp are from Homegoods, but I actually spray-painted the lamp pink. The chair is from a local furniture shop, the pillow from Target, the bamboo side table from a consignment shop called Now & Again, and the crazy plant was left here by the crazy previous owner. Luckily there was no mythical bobcat hiding behind a leaf.

I bought a lovely porcelain tea set from an Etsy shop called High Street Market, and a couple of books on style and etiquette by Kate Spade from One Kings Lane.

The biggest splurge in the room was the fireplace whose surround used to be an awful pattern of ceramic tiles the color of baby poop. We picked out the marble at a local stone dealer, and I am in love with how it turned out. I want to dress in this marble, although Lady Gaga has probably already done that.

The painting is from Homegoods, the owls from West Elm, and the miniature globes and glass coral bowl are from One Kings Lane.

This is where I sit down to write thank you notes. Originally I wanted to put the desk up against the wall, but one of the best views in the house is out through this window. The desk is from West Elm, the chair is from Brocade Home.

I wanted a bookcase in the room to stash my collection of decor magazines, and I think the rules say that you can’t call a room a study if it doesn’t have at least a few books lying around. The bookcase and children’s chair are both from Now & Again.

This is a handmade doll from Loobylu.

The vintage deer antlers are from High Street Market, and the vases are all from Ikea. The rose was part of a giant bouquet Jon gave to me for Valentine’s day.

Originally there were no moldings or paint on the walls, so we hired a handyman to come install this design in both this room and the playroom. I’ve always wanted to paint a room gray, and this color is an Olympic paint called Flagstone.

As for the carpet… we wanted to keep this room on as tight a budget as possible, so replacing it would have been cost prohibitive. It’s also the only room in the entire house that has carpet, and Leta loves to drag Marlo to this room — what she calls The Soft Room — when they want to tumble and flip around.

You may now commence with WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! comments.

  • musickatt

    2011/02/22 at 3:14 pm

    Would you please come over and decorate my house? Yours is lovely!

  • GingerPeach

    2011/02/22 at 3:22 pm

    It looks lovely – even though I’m a LITTLE cross that you’re telling EVERYONE about High Street Market on Etsy. MY favorite 🙂

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/02/22 at 3:26 pm

    you are not going to die…just yet although i did receive an alarming sign the other day that i am about to die…either that or something craptastic is about to leave my life…i’m inching towards the second choice.

    love the room…you guys have such snazzy taste. every time you post a decor piece my boyfriend cowers in a corner. “it’s time to go shopping buddy!”

  • rochelle.borne

    2011/02/22 at 3:27 pm

    How do you keep those beautiful globes on the floor with Marlo around?? My 18 month old would never let those be. Ever. He would always need to be grabbing one and throwing it. As he is wont to do, throwing things.

  • dooce

    2011/02/22 at 3:28 pm

    @rochelle.borne they don’t stay there very long. I found one in the bathroom trash the other day. Marlo now answers to Turd.

  • joypeters

    2011/02/22 at 3:30 pm

    awesome as usual. shall i give you photo tips on how to balance the light so it doesn’t blow out the windows on your great view?

    thanks, joy

  • bigonroad

    2011/02/22 at 3:31 pm

    I’m sorry, but that’s not a study until there’s enough paper strewn around that you can legitimately lose your car keys without moving anything…

  • The General

    2011/02/22 at 3:33 pm

    Lovely room, and as a globe lover myself, I have to say how much I love your collection! My favorite part of the room, aside form the globes, is that painting over the fireplace.


    I love that you found a globe in the trash, I suppose the bathroom trash is better than the kitchen trash- that’s the one to watch out for!

  • bigonroad

    2011/02/22 at 3:33 pm

    @joypeters oh yeh, I was gonna ask that – you said its the best view in the house… please can we see it?

  • writtendad

    2011/02/22 at 3:33 pm

    “You have to be religiously worthy to continue attending BYU”

    Of course you do, because if the bishop (translation: God) doesn’t love you, you’re doomed to ignorance.

  • agirlandaboy

    2011/02/22 at 3:33 pm

    My parents call it the Relief Society Room, and my aunt calls hers the Thinking Room. “I don’t go in there often,” she says.

  • smithie1996

    2011/02/22 at 3:34 pm

    Is that chair for Marlo’s time outs? I loooove the room. I want to grab The Help off the shelf and curl up in that chair and not leave for hours. Tyrant can bring me a fresh drink every hour or so.

  • hdanos

    2011/02/22 at 3:39 pm

    LOVE the color! It’s very “teenage girl gone serious”.

  • sarashous

    2011/02/22 at 3:39 pm

    I absolutely love all the bright colors in this room balanced against the grey walls. Lovely. As usual.

  • dooce

    2011/02/22 at 3:41 pm

    You guys are being so nice! This is crazy! Like the wires of the Internet took its Zoloft!

  • sarahfromthenorth

    2011/02/22 at 3:42 pm

    The poofs are my favorite part, and they are a perfect launch for the rest of the room decor. I thought the molding in the playroom was original .. wow, I love it!!

    BTW .. where to you put all your mail, with only one (small) desk to put it on?

    The marble and the fireplace in general, just beautiful! What are those earth balls made of?

    Heather .. you definately have a flair for decor esp. color and texture .. way-to-go!

  • checho

    2011/02/22 at 3:44 pm

    I love the room!
    I wish I had the balls to paint my lamps pink.

  • JetLime

    2011/02/22 at 3:53 pm

    Very lovely and tasteful.
    I’ve finally realised what’s so interesting about your designs. They just don’t scream ‘AMERICAN!’ You’ve got a taste that’s as chic in Europe as in the States. Well, technically not Europe but the UK… so it’s just as trendy on this side of the Atlantic and it doesn’t make us cringe over here 🙂
    And that wasn’t meant to be a grossly general criticism of Americans I should say! I suppose the word I’m looking for is subtle. Heather, you can do subtle. Well done.

  • Fitz and the Dizzyspells

    2011/02/22 at 3:54 pm

    I want those poufs! I would come over and steal them if I didn’t live thousands of miles away 🙂

  • glittermom

    2011/02/22 at 3:56 pm

    I have SEEN those poufs at Homegoods (which is of course connected to TJ Maxx, which I am addicted to) i coveted them but do not have any place for them in my house. Other than throwing them in the living room and having my husband ask “what the hell are those” they look wonderful in your little room..makes me almost inspired enough to tackle my duck bathroom. Which has wallpaper, with cat tails and little ducks, and being wallpaper which is something I do not deal with anymore, there it sits. I keep doing other things, like new appliances, a storm door, movie theatre recliners in the basement..some day I will get to it. Until then I look at your lovely rooms and dream.

  • wakeandbake

    2011/02/22 at 3:56 pm

    Those vases are IKEA?! I am all over Jonathan Adler style without the price tag. Awesome.

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/02/22 at 3:56 pm

    i had no idea what a pouf was until i saw the durn picture.

  • k.wren

    2011/02/22 at 4:03 pm

    I am in LOVE with the teal, pink, and gray color combination mixed with the pops of other color and all of the globes. Gorgeous room.. keep the pictures of your home design coming!

    P.S. Can there be a new tag for these kinds of posts (the ones that have so many pretty pictures of the different parts of the room)? I just want to have some way to look at all of them at once!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2011/02/22 at 4:03 pm

    I love the wall color and molding. Gray is way under utilized in most homes! And those poufs rock. I kind of want to get a running start and just leap at them to see how cushy they are!

  • DBMcGrath

    2011/02/22 at 4:10 pm

    OMG – those poufs! I must have those poufs and those globes so rock – I love them as book holders. I have a bowls of wicker balls (hehehe, balls!) that my dogs oh so very gently take a distribute around the room.

  • deannamil

    2011/02/22 at 4:11 pm

    Is that what that room is for? Shoot. We thought out house had it’s own special room for the Christmas tree. Oh well. We will never figure it out.
    You should have seen our faces the day they came by for “Fast Offering”. We had barely been moved in. We assume they had no idea the other family moved out. Uhm yeah….
    Anyway the room is gorgeous!

  • paulamichele1

    2011/02/22 at 4:18 pm

    I painted a room pale gray about 15 months ago (used to be a den, now in use as a dining room). I love it! highly recommend!

  • Norabloom

    2011/02/22 at 4:19 pm

    I love this room, too, especially the mixture of blues and pinks.

    I am curious how you deal with your incoming mail. The room is lovely but I don’t see a lot of storage.

  • kristanhoffman

    2011/02/22 at 4:23 pm

    WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE… of jealousy! Love this room. You’re making me feel so inadequate because every time I look around and want to redecorate, I’m like, “Meh, that would take too much trouble/money.”

  • Rachel_B

    2011/02/22 at 4:47 pm

    It’s funny how everyone else has commented on the room decor while I am just going to say, Heather, I grew up dreading home teachers visits as well. In fact the older I got the better I was able to make sure I was never home during that time. It was always so awkward especially after we stopped going to church. It cracks me up, but I guess shouldn’t surprise me, that out in Mormon country (aka Utah) they have rooms dedicated to this. Here in the suburbs of D.C., we don’t.

    As a “recovering mormon” myself I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep it up!

  • VinnyGirl

    2011/02/22 at 4:56 pm

    It’s beautiful! My two favorite things…the globes and the child’s chair. BTW, just where is all the mail and packages and such?

  • CJDaily

    2011/02/22 at 5:15 pm

    Heather I love the room, love the pink lamp, and LOVE that freakin chair! I want one!

    However, I am dying of curiosity to know what a home teacher does? Why do they invade your life? What do they teach you? Does every house in Utah have one of these rooms? Please enlighten us on the Mormon-ish!

  • jenwilson

    2011/02/22 at 5:16 pm

    I love Love LOVE that pink lamp.

    This room is incredible. I have to say that the first thing (besides the lamp) I noticed was the carpet, as every other photo of your house you’ve posted has had hardwood. I’d call it The Soft Room too. Smart child you’ve got.

  • betsyashbrook

    2011/02/22 at 5:27 pm

    Those bathroom tile comments were some of my all-time favorite blog moments from Dooce. I love “Why do you have an empty bowl on the back of your toilet??????”

    People really do bring their crazy to the internet.

    And the responses you used to write to hate mail. Remember when you used to do that? Those made me pee and cry at work, both silently.

  • OhBlahDah

    2011/02/22 at 5:28 pm

    The hot pink is freaking me out. I have a matchy matchy and symmetry syndrome. I try to fight it — daily. I am working on mixing patterns and plain as part of my self-imposed successive approximation therapy.

    Love the taupe chair and pillow, love the little desk, and of course the fireplace. Okay, the aqua is also freaky. But I am sure it is 100% more lovely than most Mormon visiting rooms and 100% better than when it was full of packages.

    Not sure I could live in Utah with all the Mormon vibes.

  • tokenblogger

    2011/02/22 at 5:33 pm

    The room with the best view? That would have been my home office…

    I like the no window dressings.

  • Delightful Dahlia

    2011/02/22 at 5:52 pm

    The room looks gorgeous! I am especially loving the paint.

    I have those ikea vases and at 82 cents each, they were a steal:

    (I feel sheepishly stylish now…)

  • tallnoe

    2011/02/22 at 6:04 pm

    I LOVE the colors. My new colors are hot pink and green. So, I LOVE it.
    Thanks for sharing. It looks like magic.

  • Agent Scully

    2011/02/22 at 6:08 pm

    OK, I’ll bite and complain: can we get one photo of as much of the room as possible? I’d love to see how it ALL looks. I know you can’t get the *entire* room in a shot, but just step out in the hall and snap as much as you can.

    What? Were you expecting name calling and apocalyptic predictions? Not today, Madam.

    (Everything looks fabulous!)

  • TheScarlett

    2011/02/22 at 6:18 pm

    My favorite part would be the fireplace (such restraint coupled with style) and THOSE VASES ARE IKEA???? They look expensive!

    I’m going to be disappointed if there isn’t at least a little crazy. I, too, loved your previous posts devoted to the hate mail. Your wit is rapier sharp, m’lady.

  • purplepeopleeater

    2011/02/22 at 6:34 pm

    Aghhhh!!! The tile is killing my eyes! I’m going to have a seizure!!

    Oh wait, no tile? Damn.

    Seriously, it looks ravishing! The grey paint is so calming and I am in love with the painting on the fireplace.

  • pinkpig

    2011/02/22 at 6:51 pm

    Oh those floor poofs are amazing. I’m always envious of people who can have dogs and solid coloured fabric in the same house. My dog would go and leave spit spots all over the blue fabric post-haste. Also – gorgeous pink on the lamps. 🙂

  • Amanda Patchin

    2011/02/22 at 6:51 pm

    WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE…if we have to read Infinite Jest

  • SugarFreeSweetie

    2011/02/22 at 6:56 pm

    Love the decor and the way the room is put together. I have one question though, How on earth do you keep things made of glass in your house… ANYWHERE? And you thought Marlo was like a boy! heh, no way my kids would leave that room alone. They are “the destroyers”

  • McDitty

    2011/02/22 at 7:16 pm

    I went to a HomeGoods store for the first time about 10 days ago. Thought I’d died and gone to shopping heaven.

    To contrast that, I live in political hell, in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional district. Yes – the one that elected Michelle Bachmann. Twice.

  • Lillabilly

    2011/02/22 at 9:09 pm

    Niiiiiiice accent colours. I have those small Ikea vases too – I adore the textures. Also, I think you meant Loobylu…not Looyblu! Australia misses Loobylu 🙁

  • neeroc

    2011/02/22 at 9:16 pm

    How dare you remodel your study? And put furniture in it? And using spray paint? Don’t you know we’re all going to die? What if that clicking ball in the spray can is the last sound you hear?

    But seriously, why have I not seen that post before? THANK YOU for the laughs (although I think I would have curled up in a ball and cried if I’d gotten any of those shitty comments)

    Your room looks fantastic. It almost made me want to do something with my blank walls. But I don’t want to rush things, we’ve only been here 15 years.

  • jan001

    2011/02/22 at 9:21 pm

    I’m with @CJDaily — I need education on what a home educator or a visiting educator does and why one is men and one is women and why THAT is.

    Excellent conversion of the room, making it somewhere fun instead of somewhere “oh, not again”. Also, I’m with those who’d love to see the view from the desk too!

  • cauloccoli

    2011/02/22 at 9:38 pm

    The house in which I grew up had a room like this, but in our case it was where my mom put the breakable antiques, the piano, and all the other furniture we weren’t supposed to jump on.

    We weren’t Mormon, and I think this style of interior architecture is not unique to Mormon homes. We called ours the “front parlour” because it seemed like the kind of room where we would have received gentlemen callers if we’d lived in a Jane Austen novel. Looks like that morphed into what folks now call a living room.

  • luckymom22

    2011/02/22 at 9:43 pm

    It’s lovely! And thank you thank you thank you for not even once using the phrase “pop of color”; I’m starting to wince every time I begin reading anything having to do with design or fashion because I know that sooner or later that annoying phrase is going to to pop, er, jump out at me. So thanks. I love what you did with the room and the colors are beautiful.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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