An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • metcalfruf

    You have to keep us updated as to how long the globes and glass coral bowl make it. Love the room.

  • suebob

    They have a room just for the once a month visiting teacher? Those Mormons think of everything. No wonder they’re taking over the world.

    And how could you spend that much money on the marble fireplace when WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE? EVEN SPOILED PEOPLE. ALL DIE.

  • specialkrispy

    I want to do somersaults in that room. After I’ve read this month’s Ensign over a bottle of tequila.

  • mycouchhascrumbs

    i am so jealous. I want to take that room and put it in our second floor apartment. and like some one else said, how how how how how HOW is it possible to keep the nice things there? My youngest is just a month older than Marlo, and sometimes i swear you are describing him instead of her. I cant even put a candle on the tables next to the couch with out him throwing it across the room, finding it in the toy basket, under the kitchen sink, or in one of his daddys boots. Basically, I can do zero gorgeous decorating until my almost two year old and almost four year old are out of the house. this comment was written entirely in jealousy. but really, I love your taste. It looks gorgeous!

  • labsnabys

    Don’t hate me for saying the only things in that room that I like are the plant and the fireplace. I think you have a great sense of your style, and that’s all that matters…it’s just not my cup of tea.

  • KatieD

    THANK YOU! We just put new floors in our “Family Home Evening” room (which by the way, is never used for family home evening OR visiting teachers). It’s my least favorite room in the house, with, of course, the best view out of the window. Now, we have an empty room with a beautiful wood floor.

    I’m now inspired to find some poufs and hope the children don’t turn them into throw pillows.

  • jocelina

    I love love LOVE those poufs! So super-cute. I also love what you do with colors, not just here but in general. I’m getting ready to decorate a new bedroom and I’m totally going to steal some of your ideas!

    Now I am off to hang my head in shame over being from the same state as Bachmann. I miss the days when the rest of the nation’s thoughts and feelings about Minnesota were shaped pretty much entirely by the movie Fargo. Can we go back to that?

  • kirashapedgirl

    Home Goods might be the best store in all the land…well, right after Target that is! I have a very a hard time walking out of that store without buying everything! The only thing stopping me is that I need to pay rent and buy groceries and cat food! Great room, I want my own house so I can decorate.

  • TravelSkite

    Your poufs have such cheerful faces! It’s so refreshing to look at things that are so fresh and bright after being swamped by pictures of destruction and devastation here in New Zealand:

  • Rich

    I like the gray walls. I have always wanted a room with gray walls as well.
    As for BYU, Well a big F*** You to BYU I always say. As a BYU Grad I get to say that after all the shit I had to go through to go there. Now I hear that jr college in Idaho is now a BYU as well. My God! Wasn’t 2 enough?

  • maticki

    love that room and the window and the doll (thanks for sharing her blog).

    oh, and the story about the bishop.

    my family moved from Europe (Bosnia)coz of the war to US and ended up in Utah, SLC. They are still in the state of shock (10 years later):)

  • pseudopodium

    Since no one has said it yet (I think) way to go on the New York Times magazine cover profile! Awesome stuff.

  • elisha201

    I love the room and I love your taste. I can empathize with your need to paint a room gray. My current studio is gray and I absolutely adore it.

    And while I love the painting on the fire place it hurts my heart a little that it’s from a store.

    The poofs are adorable.

  • MissCaron

    LOVE it! What I’d really love, though, is the floorplan. I wonder if you’d be willing to share a layout with us?

  • Domestic Goddess

    I like it. I’ve also always wanted to paint walls grey. My husband is a white walls guy. I’m slowly winning him over room by room.

    You are so brave taking pics of the inside of your home. My house is covered with chocolate handprints, hair from a crazy border collie and toys.

  • The Cotton Floozy

    I really like how ‘Infinite Jest’ is included in your design scheme, especially since that book is For Decorative Purposes Only.

  • The Cotton Floozy

    Also, I love the mental image I just had of two sock-footed home teachers sitting in lotus position on the poufs.

  • nicolewhitedesigns

    Hey heather, thou closet designer extraordinaire! Read about you in the NYT today and am blown away by your blog. Love the room! Especially since it’s takes a lot of talent to know that grey is the new white and to add all those punches of color without them fighting each other. Love, love it. And yes, Homegoods is the best kept design secret particularly since they don’t restock items so you have the pleasure of not having your home feel like everyone else’s.
    Alas, no point in doing my own blog post today. I’ll just feature yours on my site:
    Lemme know if that’s cool?
    why no Miami or Florida region to choose from when creating an account?

  • jonie

    Um. The room looks great, I think, but frankly I stopped in a cold sweat thinking about home teaching.

    Hold me.

    I never could get that crap done. I baked so damn many cakes in those 10 years I’m surprised they didn’t make a TLC show about me.

  • Daddy Scratches

    If you close your eyes real tight, and imagine real hard, my house is just as lovely as yours.

    And if you open your eyes, it isn’t. *sigh*


  • Heather B.

    I’m tellin’ ya: I will pay you cash money to do my living room because oh my, it’s dreadful.

    I love this space and the light in your home is phenomenal.

  • flybigd

    I have been seeing gray in Martha Stewart Living magazine for so long and I love it. You did a beautiful job in this room–the first picture is my favorite. The bookcase seems very plain though, for a room with fancy molding and fireplace surround. Maybe an upgrade possibility in the future. LOVE the lamp.

  • jrenee

    I love this room! I’ve never seen poufs before and I think my daughter (5 y.o.) would have a lovely time climbing and bouncing on them.

    I totally noticed Infinite Jest on your bookshelf, too… Have you managed to finish it? I think I got about 100 pages in, and I consider that a worthy effort.

  • Lady30

    So we’re not all going to die because I’m not in love with the poufs right? I love 75% of the room. But those poufs don’t do it for me. But that’s ok, thank God not everyone decorates the same as me… it would make my house look boring and that would be no fun at all.

    More importantly though, I’m with a few others… where the hell do you put all the mail and boxes and crap you get? Great desk, great placement, not big enough for a pile of mail though.

  • Kristyne

    OK, be honest. Do you really own 2 coral dishes and 2 sets of pretty little globes (and I don’t mean your you know whats) or did you move the props around from the fireplace to the bookcase for the photo op? 🙂 Inquiring minds …

  • jilllovesbacon

    Gorgeous room. I want to Kindle in here in the worst way.

  • Kristyne

    I’ve been told that if JWs come to your door, you can tell them you’ve been disfellowshipped and they will run away from you like you’ve got the plague and never return. Is there a similar secret code for the cute LDS boys who come around?

  • lilkunta

    “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. ”

    Heather, How was it cost prohibitve. All the $ you spent @ homegoods,Etsy High Street Market, Kate Spade books from One Kings Lane, West Elm, Brocade Home, etc definitely adds up.

    Or was it cost prohibitve bc you wanted all the crap from homegoods,Etsy High Street Market, Kate Spade books from One Kings Lane, West Elm, Brocade Home,
    …so you forgooed new carpet ?

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    have you tried smoking that plant yet? looks like you could.

    with the home teaching room project complete, i’m thinking the fruit cellar is next?

  • njf

    I love Homegoods! We moved to this area 2 years ago and I had my first experience then (we didn’t have them where we were before). I dubbed it Homegasm. And it has remained so ever since. And I am lucky. There are 3 different locations within an easy drive, so I am multi-Homegasmic — I don’t mean to brag.

    (I have been lurking here since about 2003, and this is the post that put me over the edge to comment…lol.)

  • 153351

    As a Mormon born and raised in the heart of Utah, I can assure you we don’t have “home teaching rooms.” No seriously, we don’t. I’ll admit every other thing you think is weird that is true, but home teaching rooms isn’t one of them. Sorry Dooce!

  • littleblacksweats

    Love the eccentric look of the “study!” One question, did you actually buy the same lamp for both rooms and paint one the pop-py pink color?

  • MustangSally

    Funny we non-Mormons call that the “Living Room”… which is basically the formal room near the door that must.stay.clean in case of visitors and that the family never really uses themselves (that would be the “family room” in the back by the kitchen or in the basement). Used to be known as the “parlor” I thought?

    Now I’m feeling all avante-garde since we painted our living room gray 2 years ago. A shade I like to call “NW overcast” because I thought it would match the view outside and really bring the outdoors in.

  • aussome1

    love the room decor…have loved all the photos of your house if you want the honest truth! want to come to Memphis and do mine? also love that the lamp in the play room and the study appear to be the same one just different colors!! Love it!!

  • TexasKatie

    Pouf? I thought a pouf was something you use to wash your body with in the shower.

    As for the room – it looks AWESOME.

  • lilkunta

    @ Rachel B: No one commented on the home teaching room bc I’m safely guessing 99% of the the readers are not Mormon. We have front/living rooms ( too grew up calling it a parlur bc we’re british) so a home teaching room isnt important.

    Also H goes on & on about the furniture so that is what majority of the psot is about.

  • Kristen from MA

    Love the molding. LOVE! (Also, your house is brick? Love red brick houses!!)

  • Cooky

    Those home teachers — they sure are a pesky bunch! I thought my encounter last summer nearly nakid would have deterred them, but NNOOOOOO.

    LOVE.THE.FIREPLACE.MANTEL. and the entire room and your new lovely home. The sunlight is unbelievable.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  • Crazy Card Lady

    Inquiring minds want to know what happened to all your groovy old furniture and accessories from your previous house?

    Loved the post. The room, well…? That’s ok, we all can’t love it. I do recognize the pillow on the chair as my daughter has the same one on her red and black bed (gah!).

    I moved into a larger house in July. And I’m proud to say I purchased the majority of my stuff on Craigslist. I’m still waiting for Hallmark to call me to buy my designs.

  • vmc

    I bet you could finance a few more trips to Homegoods if you sold prints of some of your Mexico pictures. I love the one of the boy and the dogs on the beach, the one of the little girl framed by the piers, the blocky statue, the teal and pink Feliz Navidad house, and all the ones of the shoreline. Put some of those up for sale, please!

  • amberdawn

    I love almost everything in this room including that yummy paneling.


    The carpet is BURNING MY EYEBALLS.

    Seriously woman, rip it up and put some flor tiles in there. They have some soft ones now –

    And then when the dogs or Marlo puke on it you can just rip that tile out and replace it. As I had to do with my own son’s room when a kid had a blowout in it. Yech.

  • DadStreet

    Thank you?? Well, for one for allowing me to drool all over the bright and vibrant pictures that you took. Yeah, I happen to like photography. Also? Thanks for allowing me to recall that my house needs such a makeover and I for one know nothing about what to do.

    I normally don’t get hung up on words…Wait, that’s not true. You said, “handsome doll” and now I can’t get that out of my head. Yes, this is what I took away from your post…a handsome doll. Don’t worry, all wasn’t lost as I did read the entire thing.

    I may have to come back if for nothing else to see another handsome doll and yes, of course that perfect house!

  • mommica

    Why did you wait so long to paint a room gray? My whole house is gray. Seriously. Even the kids room and the in-progress nursery. It’s a great color to design around! As you now know. 🙂

  • The Cotton Floozy

    @153351 Seriously? No home/visiting teaching room? My sweet Mormon mother would be appalled. I grew up in Utah county and still live here. Everybody had them twenty years ago. Many Mormons still do. I know that the special Mormon living room is true, in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

  • ADoyleLB

    In non-Mormon homes, that room is just known as a living room, and a place that isn’t used that much unless you have friends or family over.

    I’ve known Mormons who grew up in Utah whose parents called that same room their “Home Teacher” room.

  • ilovelucy1976

    Funny so much stuff about a “living room”. I agree with 153351 there are no such room called “home teaching or visiting teaching rooms.” Like everyone else we all have formal/informal living rooms. Some people may use them to visit in (don’t we all) and for Mormons thats where they may have there home teachers but it is not necessarily the name of the room. Some people may call it that but none that I have ever met and I have a slew of family still in Utah. Every house I have lived in in CA has had a room off to one side or the other too and I don’t think you would hear them calling it a home teaching room just because its a room to the right or left. It’s a place to visit whomever stops by.
    With that said, Dooce you have a great talent for decorating. It looks really homey and nice.

  • dampscribbler

    Heather, if I worked ten hours a day for a month I couldn’t put together a room that looks like this. If you ever give up blogging, you’ve got another career as an interior decorator. Damn.

  • Amanda Armstrong

    Great pink lamp!

    If only I had a story behind a room of mine that was half as funny!

  • Buddahkat

    It seems too sparse. Where are you throwing the packages and papers??

    At least you don’t have that awkward home teacher thing going on…..
    Oh the stories from BYU. I only lasted about 6 months. Apparently I wasn’t too fond of being told how to be righteous.

    Guilt free!!

  • Kristie

    Hi! I’m the HomeGoods Insider! Can I just tell you… you’ve made our day! We’re a huge fan of yours and love that you’ve discovered our store!

    We’re gushing over your makeover and your fab finds! It’s exciting to see the poufs were your inspiration. They’ve been a huge hit here at the office too.

    Your once study slash sitting room slash mail room… turned The Soft Room… is what we like to call the Mom Cave. Check it out at

    Happy decorating and shopping! And enjoy that new room!

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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