Photograph by Michael J. Lee
It feels like it’s been EONS since I’ve blogged, but taking the week and half off was so good for me to just focus on Henry and spend time with our extended families. I think it’s the first time in a long time I really checked out. As a perfectionist with anxiety, it really did stress me out a bit to not be “productive”, especially watching social media and seeing other bloggers working over the holiday. But pregnancy gives me this great excuse to force myself to relax a little, I feel more “permitted” to take time off and not be working all the time. It’s kind of sad that it takes something as monumental as that to make me chill out a bit, but I’ll take what I can get.
It’s always good to look back on your past year as a business owner (and person) and reflect on what worked and what didn’t and what you’d like to change moving forward in the new year. Certainly I don’t expect to hit all my goals, but it always feels good to write them out as a road map to guide me.
The biggest thing that happened in 2019 was my second book coming out. It took me years to write this one and I was really proud of the content we produced; however, it failed to do nearly as well as the first book. As with lots of “sequels”, this is normal. But after putting in so much work, it was a big disappointment. I wasn’t really sure why this happened — maybe I overestimated the number of people interested in family-life decor and alienated readers that did not have children (even though most of the book is great for everyone)? Maybe people didn’t like the spine as much as the stripes? Since I’m taking a break from books for a while, I don’t need to assess this TOO much, and I’m still super proud of it and content to have written two books in my lifetime for such a renowned publisher.
Since there isn’t another book coming in the near future, I want to put that time and energy into creating more unique and inspired blog and Instagram content. If you have suggestions on what you’d like to see more of, let me know! We WILL have new projects coming right to the blog and insta now that I don’t have save things for a book… There are a few big ones I’m going to pitch to media first, but I think there is more actual benefit to my business directly to publish on my own platform.
One aspect of the business that did really well the past year was my licensed collections — especially the rugs! As with the production of ANY goods, there were hiccups and mistakes of course, but ones we really learned from and are changing moving forward. I am working on the new rug collection for next fall and it’s going to be SO good!!!!
Client-wise, we’ve had so many great projects in 2019 that will be finishing in 2020 — including our biggest project EVER. We are booking for spring 2020 right now, and while we still do smaller projects (a couple rooms), we are particularly looking for larger scale projects where we can ideally execute a full vision. It’s hard to say no to ANY work, but I have to accept that we cannot do everything and that the really small jobs or small budget jobs just do not make sense economically for the business. That’s what we started the “Style Solutions” column for on the blog, so if you have a room that you are struggling with that could be a good feature for the community to see my design plan for, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Instagram has clearly become bigger than blogging, so I need to focus more on that content. I want to hit 100k followers in 2020. I feel like my audience is really dedicated, but smaller than I’d like compared to my peers in the business. So whatever you think I should do more of there to make my feed more interesting, let me know in comments.
Clearly, the biggest thing that happened in 2019 personally was getting pregnant and it sticking (after turning the big 4-0 no less!). I still can’t believe it, and am still crossing my fingers and toes that 2020 bring a healthy baby girl into our family. Since I’m feeling so superstitious about it, I really can’t bring myself to plan the nursery yet. I also am torn about whether to go all out on the nursery (CONENT!!!!) , knowing that we are actively looking to move into a bigger house, or do a mini-nursery makeover and wait until we move to blow it out… I’ll consider this more seriously once we pass our 20 week mark in the next 2 weeks.
Henry has grown into such a special big boy, who really is a joy to spend time with. He’s so sweet, independent and creative and really loving school and friends. I am excited to see him become a big brother in 2020 (I hope! Gah, I feel like I’m jinxing myself left and right talking like this!)
Other than that, I want to just enjoy more of my life and try to be happy and focused on what I have and not comparing myself to everyone else and not constantly striving for more, more, more. It’s the one thing that can really rob you of all the joy you should be experiencing. I have so much to be grateful for, and I want to continue to try to make that a real focus. Since I’m pregnant I have no gym or work out goals, those I’ll save for 2021! :)
I also want to thank all of you for continuing to support me personally and professionally. As hard as it is to keep the blog going, I cannot imagine giving it up, as this community of thoughtful, engaged, interesting people is so important to me and such a big part of my life. So, thank you.
P.S. I am doing my Globes red carpet review in my stories this afternoon! Check @elementstyle to see who I liked (maybe 3 dresses) and who I didn’t (so many).
Thank You Erin…. I finally got around to read this post !!! lol- as a Mom of 22 year old & 19 year old boys, I say
ENJOY every precious minute !! I know everyone says it- but it’s true… Thanks for all your great design inspiration, I love that you cover so many aspects & really enjoy it so much. Happy New Year & look forward to all you will share with us !! Love my Erin Gates rug too !!
Happy 2020 Erin. I struggle with some of these same feelings and the gloss of social media doesn’t make it easier.
A mantra someone just shared with me is “Compare and Despair”. Your health, family, and happiness looks different from everyone else’s so your success should too. I get stuck in this rut myself, especially as I waited to go out on my own til after kids… and always wish I didn’t. So I never feel great about the smaller client load I take, and I turn down work a lot that I feel like “I should be able to add this”. But I am a one woman show, I can’t change the past, I can only be happy and fulfilled with the finite energy I have today that I get to use working in this amazing field. And after losing a great friend this summer to a sudden and swift cancer, when I feel down on my work or my progress in any area, I remember that waking each day in a healthy body is the best gift ever. So I use it. And try to use my creative mind and see the gift in that every day too.
You have achieved so much, and have so many incredible things ahead. I always love tuning into your channel, hearing what you have to say, and I’ve been reading book #2 and I love that too. It’s been helpful, thanks!
I admire your drive and your vision greatly, and I couldn’t be happier for you to become a mom of two! Just be where you are… it’s a good place.
So, so excited for you XxOo
I absolutely LOVED your book you released last year. I borrowed it from the library and I’m going to purchase one because it has so many great suggestions for family decorating. You’ve got a new follower and I can’t wait for more easily accessible ideas!
I’d love to see more style solutions. I love those!
Just a quick note to say – with your first child, designing the nursery is an obsession. With number 2, you realize that they won’t know if you changed it! So keep it the same and if you are in the same house as baby #2 gets older, personalize it. If you are in a different house, personalize the new room . Easy peasy:)
Thank you for the honest reflection and sharing your goals for the new year. As a long time reader; I know what keeps me coming back for more. You have a classic, but fresh sensibility and offer elevated ,approachable interiors. I know I’ll never see basic blogger junk here. You stand out in a sea of cringe-y farmhouse decor and over the top ( albeit gorgeous) Veranda glossies.
As a newish Interior designer ( 3rd year in business) I appreciate you sharing high/low designs because most of my clients are in that space; room for some splurging but not top shelf everything.
Lastly; I’m thankful that you haven’t been on the Liketoknowit train. It’s an instant turn off for me. I understand it pays for the content, but any time I see a blogger or “influencer” refuse to share a source and only direct the reader to their link, I’m out. Can you imagine if you asked a friend where she bought her jacket and she asked for $5 before she told you? Yuck right?
Again, I appreciate what you share, and your voice. It’s a breath of fresh air.
Thanks for your feedback. I understand that attitude, towards affiliate links, but people have to understand that for many of us this is our livelihood, the same as any other job. Without it, we would not be able to share these things with you because we’d have to spend that time on another job in order to live. Also, since the brand pays us the commission from those links, not you the buyer, it’s not the same as you equate it to – as you having to pay for the source. We aren’t asking YOU for money, we’re asking the company for a cut for recommending their items. And if you wouldn’t have found the item any other way than through us, the influencer, I think it’s fair to ask that people shop through our links. Does that make sense?
I should I been more clear, it’s specific to the Liketoknowit . I’m 100% on board with affiliate links on blogs, on IG, gift guides, Nordstrom. What I’ve noticed is that nearly every Basic blogger/ influencer will share and link the same handful of products. I find it hard to believe that all of them just Looovvveeee the same crappy polyester blouse ( for example) .
Maybe I’m just more jaded these days? Who knows. I think back to a post you had a dresses for date night as a grown woman ; that was a unique POV and thoughtful selections. Not even in the same league as the ones that grate my nerves.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am very happy for you! I will be praying for you & your baby girl. I think it is totally understandable that you are hesitant to plan her nursery & get super excited about her arrival. Do take it easy and focus on your family right now. Time with loved one is so fleeting and precious. Speaking from the experience of a Mom of 6 kids.
I love reading your blog. One of the few I still seek out. Keep up the good work!
Hi Erin 👋 – love the blog and the Instagram! I definitely check insta more than the blog so I love it if you link posts there. I’m not a huge design person, but I keep reading (I’ve been a reader since 2011 or 2012ish) because I like YOU and I like the inspiration/aspiration. I probably am more of a fan of the personal content then the design stuff (some of it’s just too over my head) so keep that coming! There’s not enough vulnerability/sense of real ness in the Instagram/blog world and I appreciate that your content feels honest and real. Thanks for all you do!
Erin, I love following you. I have for quite awhile! Years! So happy your pregnancy is going well.
I look forward to seeing your new creations this year!
Dear Erin, I’ve never commented before but I’ve been reading this blog for years. I so appreciate all the work and care you put into this site and your books. For anyone who doesn’t have it yet, the second book is wonderful and definitely not just for people with kids. There are lots of great ideas in it for everyone. I also appreciate that you sometimes show/talk about your life – which is not to say you should feel any pressure to share more of it; it’s yours! Your Henry posts on Instagram often feel like little taps on my shoulder to take a second to appreciate my own little one, who is roughly Henry’s age. I was so thrilled to see the news about your pregnancy, while I also totally understand all your anxieties. I’m wishing you all the best for 2020!
I ADORE your blog and think you are so generous and helpful. If you are looking for post inspiration I am in need of new every dinnerware and would love suggestions or links to what you and your team actually own on this front. thank you!!
Congratulations on a wonderful year full of big leaps and wins! I have to say, for me, I’m kind of over Instagram. There are so many ads and every blogger, “influencer” and designer I follow is doing all this paid stuff that is a real turn off. I know people need to make money for their content, but its just not my thing. I have reduced my online media checking to 3 blogs (you are one of 3) and am off Insta but for a quick scroll on the weekends for about 10-15 minutes. I would be so sad to see more content move away from the blog to that platform, but understand you gotta do what you gotta do for your business and personal satisfaction. I’m sending you so much good energy for your baby girl to keep growing strong. With 4 miscarriages behind me and two little nuggets (6 and 1 yo), I’ve loved how open and raw your personal posts have been. You never give the impression of trying to “be” authentic which is what keeps me coming back to your blog, even if I’m not a fan of a zebra striped rug as much as some others :) Warm wishes for the year ahead. I hope its full of magic!
Don’t move house during pregnancy is what I heard since young in my Chinese household.
Just wanted you to know that I absolutely LOVED your second book. I found it incredibly practical and helpful. It was also a very emotional read. The personal stories and thoughts you shared really resonated with me. Definitely one of my very favorite design books ever!
your blog is one of a handful who still publishes great content. Yeah to more blogging!
I bought both books (rather, was gifted them for birthdays!). Couldn’t love them more unless you’d used leopard print on the spine … but that’s just me. I am a major blue and white fan.
Loved your red carpet review. And love knowing that’s just the first of several red carpets to come! That green dress looks like a Christmas tree with sleeves. Yet it would be boring if everyone just wore black. Guys get off easy with tuxedos.
Like most of your readers, I’m thrilled that your major project this year is a little sister for Henry. Crossing my fingers for a very vanilla pregnancy and a safe delivery. Save the drama for the red carpet.
gah! I gave up insty in the new year in an effort to be more present but I might have to sneak on to watch your review… I look forward to it every awards show! happy new year Erin!
Your second book is amazing. Such great content. I am obsessed with it. Good to recognize good work and be proud of it even if the numbers don’t align. I actually think it’s better than book one.
There is positive energy around that baby girl. Sending you positive mom vibes. She is strong like her momma. Keep remembering that!!
I love your blog … it’s really one of the very few that I still follow (probably down from maybe 20 to about 4!)! Keep doing what you’re doing :-)
I love following you and have since before IG, or Henry. (I think you were already married or just got married) So, as a small business owner/consultant, as I’m sure you know, what are your competitors doing that’s working (especially for getting more followers) Your existing content is great, you just need to build followers. Some say Pinterest can be a huge help in building followers. One of my favorite things are your fashion/Globes/Academy redos. I don’t know how you know all these great dresses. I do follow an interior designer that partners with different high end online shopping sites. She chooses her wish list and her style, like yours, is impeccable (affiliate shopping) You have a bigger knack of seeing what looks great on other people (really a gift!). I sooo look forward to your fashion posts. How about a furniture line? Like to know it app? ( I do it but I don’t really get it, my excuse, I’m 58) Henry and the baby are of great interest to me too. I just love adorable kids and all of their antics. My favorite Henry thing, when he used to call out for his friend ( can’t remember the little blonde girls name) but that was the cutest.
Sorry, kind of rambling….
RE insta – I would say more stories that show a glimpse into your day to day. I love a quick snippet that says hey my lip gloss is popping/outfit highlight, Henry clip, what’s up at the office, etc. sounds silly, but that is how I feel like I “know” other bloggers I follow.
Excited to continue to follow your journey-its amazing how the internet creates these relationships with people you don’t know, yet you do? I’m rooting for you and feel your high and lows. I bought both your books, I met you and Andrew in Chicago on the first tour–I’m all in! I’ve always felt like your content is authentic and never have I appreciated that more as the Influencer has become a career. This whole blogger game has become ridiculous. You don’t even know if the person is recommending a product because they like it or being paid to? When you do your sponsored posts, I appreciate the transparency and know the picks are yours so I trust it! Like, how many of them are really shopping at Wal-Mart?
Based on today’s algorithm, the key to getting more followers is to post in stories at least once a day and invite your followers to engage. IG will then prioritize those posts to show in peoples feed because it helps them understand your “likes”. I like stories because I think the content doesn’t have to be perfect-the behind the scenes-kind.
Just keep being you-!
Love you and both of your beautiful, witty, gorgeously detailed and info-packed books and I’m so excited about what’s ahead for you this year. As my grandmother would say, keep doing and doing. You’re doing such a great job! xo BB
Your voice is just so awesome. Thank you for being so honest about the second book not doing as well rather than try to spin it into perfection – and leading with that, no less. (Yet still know the second book was also incredibly great and fun to read — I think you do). Anyway, that sort of realness will continue to draw more readers. I think if you put the time (and the sheer number of projects) you dedicated to writing the book into insta and the blog, the readership will follow. (And, personally, your honesty is more inspirational to me in trying to set my own goals for the new year. So thanks for that too.)
Keep your voice and be true to your self. You have lots to be proud of and so many of us readers are cheering you on!
Please please please do some nursery designs for high and less-high budgets on the blog!! I was so thrilled for you to announce your pregnancy, mainly because it has been such a journey and I (like everyone else!) was so hoping it would have this outcome, but also because I would love nursery inspiration for a girl room! I know you would have such a fresh perspective
I also just bought an Erin Gates rug for my sons nursery and we love it!
Re: Your second book not selling as much as the first.
Just wanted to let you know that the second book was miles ahead compared to book #1. Book #2 was jam packed with useful tips and advice for normal people with normal budgets.
I love your first book ! I didn’t buy the second because I didn’t feel like I could, not having kids. Maybe that was a dumb assumption, but I also didn’t even want to look at it, as I’ve struggled with infertility for 5+ years and still don’t have any kids, and didn’t want it to be a sad trigger. Perhaps if it was presented differently, I would have thought about getting it? Keep up the good work!
First, I am glad to hear you gave yourself “permission” to take some time off over the holidays. There are only a few Blogs I read, but I am guessing several recycled articles over the holidays or prepared them ahead of time to be able to continue to post. We still love you and it makes it more special when yours pops up in my email.
Don’t beat yourself up over the book either. It took me a while to get around to purchasing your first book and still poring over it. Give it time. You are a remarkable young woman who has accomplished a lot more than the average person and continues to create and inspire us each week.
I got a kick out of Ann’s response (and knew she meant 80th year- 😉) I may add her comment in my Quote Book. I have a special notebook I use to save special and meaningful quotations and sayings. Ann’s struck me as worthy of my notebook.
Most of all take care of yourself and best of all things good for you and your family in 2020.
Thank you as always for sharing your goals and plans… you’re great at what you do! One suggestion for growing your Insta presence might be to really explore and dive into liketoknowit. I find most of the people I follow through that and really go to them as guides and inspiration. I think you could really kill it in that genre. You may be already there but I haven’t noticed a lot…?? Anyway- best of luck in 2020!!
Agreed. It is a lot of fashion but the home stuff is awesome and you can always go back on liketoknow.it to search for something you posted, so easy! I find it incredibly useful and I am sure it would also be lucrative 😉
So happy for you and all of you personal accomplishments this year!
As far as instagram or the blog goes – clearly people who enjoy you and your platform are interior design junkies. I would like more indepth posts about how one goes about picking seemingly small things but things that make a big impact. The thing that pops into mind for me is when I put in wood floors this year, what stain do I pick? What baseboards do I like? I never had even thought about baseboards until it was time to pick them. Some of the posts of yours I reference most are on paint colors. I also love when you recreate rooms from magazines with things we can purchase ourselves. Posts on lighting would also be appreciated.
Also, still me here – but art sources.
Erin- Everything you talk about hits home! I’m a Nationally ranked Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Philly’s Main Line and a Mom to 3. It’s so easy to get caught up in the more, more, more. I struggle with this every single day. I look back on 2019 and the amount of business closed (226 homes sold- 90 million in sales). I’m not even sure how it was pulled it off (besides relentless hard work), but then the Mom in me starts thinking. Did I spend all the time needed with the kids, did I give those moments my all, was the Summer weekends at the beach enough to sustain them through the rest of the year not having me around as much at night and on the weekends, etc. Constant reflection every single day! What can I be doing better. What should I be doing better, yada yada. Ups and downs. I’m a huge fan of yours. Your style, your honesty in your writing, your relate-ability, all of it. I didn’t buy your 2nd book yet but I will. Keep doing you, enjoying your growing family, growing in business no matter what that means. People will follow you because of who you are, always. Best wishes! Erica
Well about the second book….I just loved it! Over the holidays my daughter was looking at the three books on my coffee table and I asked her which one she liked best and it was yours. She and her husband are just buying their first home and I’m thinking the book is leaving my house. Congrats on everything that you have accomplished in the business world and mostly for the blessings of a new family member.
Happy New Year! I am so happy about your big news. May God bless you as your family grows in 2020! I love your blog and want to thank you for your inspiration. Also can you please tell me who makes the counter stools in todays kitchen photo please? Thank you!
One thing I would love to know as a very long time reader is what the process is like to work with a designer and how to go about finding one. As you cannot be all places and for those of us who love interior design but have never actually worked with one, what does that look like? What are good questions to ask, what are the best things you can tell a client about how to be a good client etc. Thank so much and looking forward to your 2020 content!
Was thinking the same thing! Would love to know what its like to find, hire and work with an interior designer. As someone who hasn’t worked with one before but want to in the near future it would be a great to get an insider take on what to expect and advice.
Hi all! Erin actually did a blog post on this topic last year – hope you find this helpful!
Yes! This could be a great blog post! How does one go about hiring a designer? What are the steps that take place, how are the services priced, what is the general timeline, etc. I’m very curious because my sister is currently working with a designer for her main family living room, so far her experience is dragging on and the cost seems to be getting more expensive with each meeting. She is in the dark as far as how it’s all supposed to work. It would be great if there was a general guideline of expectations when thinking about hiring a designer. Thanks Erin!
It’s Ann again! That would be 8th decade (see above) not 80th! Oh dear…..
I really understand where you’re coming from with the ‘jinx’ fears, and that battle between excitement and fear. Given that the fear will probably be around to some extent throughout the pregnancy, as well as the planned move, I’d vote for a nursery upgrade rather than blow out. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
You probably won’t want to do real time updates on the house search but I’d love to see a series on the new place – before and plans.
I don’t use instagram so blog all the way for me. More process articles with plans then what actually happened. Some of the style solutions and similar. Maybe a few posts around what the EoS team are working on?
Please do a post on polished, casual style that is not athleisure wear and focused on “classic with a twist”. Please include options for petites- it is so hard to find clothes that look good!
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2020!
Do you follow Jean Wang on extrapetite.com? Also on Instagram. She does a lot of work and research for her posts and I have benefited despite being 5’4” and much older than Jean. Occasionally info on a product for the home or kids,but not an interior designer,so hope you don’t mind me sharing this Erin.
Yes, I would love that but I have the opposite problem/challenge/blessing! How about a casual put together post for tall girls!
I loved your second book! It is good to know that a home can be stylish and neat even with children.
I’m glad you are continuing the blog! I enjoy Instagram, but it is such a quick hit while blog posts really go in depth and I enjoy them in a very different way.
I wish you the very best this year, especially with the pregnancy.
I agree with the above commenter!! I think because of Instagram’s algorithm, I rarely see your posts! However, because I subscribe to the blog I am able to see those posts whenever I want! Love you and your blog. I will keep all my available digits crossed that you make it into the next two weeks.
Ditto! I know IG is so much easier and takes less time, but has no depth. I think the best bloggers find a balance of the two. Looking forward to any new posts you do Erin.
Hi Erin: I have so enjoyed following you all these years, but as you know, life and situations are ever changing and we need to be open to each new adventure. You are a great design talent, but also a amazing human being, mother especially, focus on that and everything will fall into place…..
A word about “JOY”….from one in her 80th decade!
Happiness is how you feel in the moment, but joy is the steady sure contentment that transcends your circumstances. It is a life long journey, ( that periodically gets derailed), but the striving is worth it. Much like your decorating style, it involves simplifying (uncluttering) your day, nurturing your gifts, and, oddly enough, making even just one other person feel noticed! Here’s to 2020!
Beautifully said, Ann. It’s somewhat my sentiments too!
Oh that makes me so sad to hear you will only be taking on full house projects. It seems a lot of people are doing that. How does one find a good designer who hasn’t yet “hit it big” who is still willing to take on a smaller project?
I didn;t say that at all, I said those are IDEAL, but we still do tons of projects that are a couple rooms only.
Awesome! Thanks for clarifying.
Looking forward to more of your inspiration. I think more post on your process of design and what’s new and fresh. Cheers to another beautiful year for you and your sweet family
Loved your blog since your first book! Good luck on the pregnancy and please post more kitchens! Looking to upgrade stuff but not a full makeover if that makes sense….thanks!
Excellent goals for 2020. I’ll take a cue from you about trying to quell my anxiety and take joy in the moment. Can’t wait for your Golden Globes recap!!
Erin, I am so happy for all 2020 holds for you! I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I love my Erin Gates rug! I ordered the Woodland rug for my Baby Boy’s nursery (arr Feb 2020!). It is so soft and looks sweet but not at all “baby.” I always look forward to checking your blog for updates and thank you for all the work you put in to make it something that I (and I know so many others) look forward to reading!
So glad!!! :)
So happy for you about the baby and LOVE your blog! Selfishly I have been waiting for your RCR all morning from the Globes. I thought it was such a disappointment! What was J Lo and Gweneth thinking???