Marian Parsons is a pastor’s wife, mother of two boys, paint enthusiast, and lover of all things home. She started Mustard Seed Interiors in 2008, as a way to earn extra money for groceries. What started out as a one-woman decorative painting and mural business evolved into an antiques business that tripped into a blog and blossomed into a successful international brand.
Miss Mustard Seed first published on a blog on a whim in 2009. Marian wanted to advertise her fledgling business, but also wanted to connect with like-minded readers and other DIY/Home bloggers. The decision was made early on to turn her blog into a valuable resource, filled with tutorials, practical advice, encouragement and a dose of reality. Some of the blog series cover making slipcovers, painting furniture, before & after inspiration, and decorating tips & tricks. While the focus has been on the home, the heart of this blog has always been providing encouragement and inspiration to women in the areas of decorating, homemaking, and creative endeavors.
Feels Like Home does such a great job providing suggestions and practical steps in a way that is approachable and not intimidating to the average person wishing to decorate their home. Have you ever been intimidated and overwhelmed when beginning a new project? How do you overcome that?
Oh, definitely! There is a project I’ve been intimidated by on my to-do list right now (painting my basement.) The way I get started on an overwhelming project is to work on it in smaller pieces – just one step at a time. When I work on a project for 30-60 minutes each day, it’s amazing how much can be accomplished and how it gets momentum going.
Some would argue that you need to have “the eye” to decorate. What advice would you give to people who have a hard time visualizing the big picture?
I think that everyone knows how they like things to look, but they always don’t trust their own taste. It doesn’t look like what’s in a magazine or what’s displayed on social media as trendy, stylish, or beautiful. I want to encourage people that it’s okay to just like what they like and arrange things in a way that works for them and their family. If someone likes a certain look but feels like they can’t pull it off on their own, ask a friend to help. Having a trusted second opinion on decorating choices can be a tremendous help, even for those who feel confident decorating.
One of the nerve-wracking things about starting a home decorating project is the fear of messing up. Have you ever made a mistake during one of your projects, and if so, what did you learn from it?
Oh, I’ve made lots of mistakes! Over and over again and I still make them. Making mistakes is all a part of the learning (and decorating) process. We will readily tell our children that, but, in the same breath, not give ourselves grace when we make mistakes. I give a lot of tips in the book on working at a slow and deliberate pace, so if you do make mistakes, you can pivot before making more choices based around that decision you regret. I also suggest taking small, low-cost risks to build confidence. If you’re painting furniture for the first time, try painting a piece that’s a free curbside find or a thrift store purchase. That takes the pressure off and gives you permission to learn.
You’ve been doing DIY projects and writing blogs about your DIY journey for years. Have home improvement projects always been something that you loved? Or did something in particular inspire you to begin creating and re-imagining the spaces around you?
I have always loved projects and creating. As a child, I would weave flower headbands, make dollhouse furniture out of paper, and glue seashells together to make little critters. My creative endeavors were encouraged all along the way by my parents and grandparents, who recognized the value of resourcefulness and curiosity. If building and making things doesn’t come naturally to you, there’s good news! It is a learned skill that anyone can learn. Books like Feels Like Home can get you started and there are millions of DIY tutorials from experts online as well.
With re-furnishing pieces throughout the years, I’m assuming certain projects stick out to you as some of the most memorable. What is your favorite project you have worked on?
Oh, there are so many! One of my favorites, though, is a French tufted-back sofa I reupholstered. It was a challenging piece that I worked on for weeks. I thought it had me beat, but I ended up finishing it and loved the result. I think it’s one of my favorites because it was hard and it pu
shed me out of my comfort zone.
When decorating a home, there is the pressure to do what’s currently “trendy”. How do you marry trends with classic, timeless designs?
I honestly don’t worry too much about trends. Trends are more about marketing than style. I would encourage anyone to buy what they love, use what they love, display what they love, and don’t worry if it’s in or out. If you do like mixing in trends, then do it in small ways, like pillows and accessories that can easily be changed out as the trends shift.
A book seems like a logical next step for you, given your many years writing your blog. What are you hoping readers take away from your new book?
The two words that thread all of my writing together are these – inspiration and encouragement. I hope that those who read this book walk away feeling inspired to make their house feel like home, whatever that looks like to them. And I also hope they feel encouraged to be grateful the home they have and to discover and use their unique creative gifts.
People have gotten a glimpse into your tips and tricks surrounding decorating and DIY projects for years through your blog. What sort of new content can readers anticipate in your new book?
I’ve been keeping so many secrets from my loyal blog readers! They will see new photos, spaces in my home they’ve never seen before, and unique DIY tutorials. They will also get to tour some local homes I photographed and homes from some of my friends on Instagram. Some of it will fe
el familiar enough to know it’s written by me, but different enough to feel fresh.
Especially in the day of social media and a rise in popularity of home improvement shows, that ‘perfect’ home can feel unattainable. What advice would you give to people who feel like a beautifully decorated home is ou
t of reach?
If social media, magazines, or TV shows are making you feel that way, take a break from them. When inspiration turns to something that feels defeating, it isn’t adding anything to your life. In fact, it’s toxic. Turn it off and get to work on your own home, using your own gifts. Focus on contentment, gratitude, and working with what you have. There is a lot of joy (and productive work) that can come from that.
What was the writing process like for you? Did it differ from how you approach writing your blog content?
Writing this book was a big project, so I broke it down into baby steps. I committed to writing every single day. Sometimes I wrote 200 words and other days I wrote 2,000. I ended up writing the bulk of the book before I took one single photo, which is the opposite of how I write my blog. When I’m writing a post, I start with the photos and tell their story with my words. For the book, I wrote and then I took pictures that gave a visual to support the words.
What’s next for you? Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?
I pretty much always have exciting projects on the horizon! I’m working on giving our basement family room a makeover and I also have quite a few design and fine art projects in the hopper. The trick is always balancing what’s happening at the moment and what I hope will happen a year from now. It always keeps me on my toes!