“For me, the real passion is creating a happy home and happy family. And because I enjoy decorating so much, it’s one of the tools that I use to create this home of happiness and joy.”
This is the heart and passion behind Jennifer Houghton’s (aka – Turtle Creek Lane’s) elaborate, beautiful, and over the top decor.
Jennifer is best known for her Instagram account and home décor blog, Turtle Creek Lane, where hundreds of thousands of people visit every day to be uplifted and inspired by Jen’s daily, home decor content.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – your taste in decorating is SO different. And you’re right – we have completely different visions for that.
BUT – our heart behind it is exactly in line.
When Jen told me she was passionate about decor, but it’s a far secondary passion to wanting to create an environment that is joyful and happy for anybody that comes in – I knew we were going to be fast friends.
In my conversation with Jen, we covered a lot!
- Marriage rhythms to keep it going strong
- “Balancing” motherhood and all the the other hats we wear
- How to get out of a funk when you’re just super overwhelmed
And OF COURSE – I’m asking your questions like:
- Where does she store everything?
- How long does it take her to decorate?
- Is she really THAT happy?
- Why does her husband have a unicycle?!
And I really just think her answers might surprise you.
So when I say Turtle Creek is so much more than glue guns + rainbows, I mean it.
Enjoy this episode guys!
YOUR FAQ QUESTIONS
So I need to know, where did this passion for decorating come from?
For me, the real passion is creating a happy home and a happy family. And because I enjoy decorating so much, it’s one of the tools that I use to create this home of happiness and joy. But the decorating really has always been a means to an end for me. It’s a lot easier to be happy and joyful when you’re in a happy and joyful place. I wanted to create an environment in my home where the minute somebody walks through the door they feel hugged.
So had you created this happy Wonderland since your since your oldest was a little one?
I had been doing this for forever- as budget could afford. I remember when Steve and I were first married- we were so poor, like sleep on the side of the road in your car because your mom gave you the $50 to stay in a hotel and you say, no, let’s pocket the $50 and sleep on the side of the road kind of poor. I remember we moved to Dallas, we could only afford one strand of Christmas lights.
I remember I ran to that store in Garden Ridge, we got one strand of colored lights, and I remember we strung them in our one apartment when we were on the third floor, struggling in that one apartment, we ran down the flights of stairs and into the parking lot to look up at that one strand of light.
I even get chills about it now. I have felt as much joy, but never more joy than the joy I felt looking at that one strand of Christmas light.
What was your earliest decorating memory?
I remember one time walking downstairs and we had a garage down in the basement and I walked outside. It was probably 11 o’clock at night.
I couldn’t sleep. And I opened up and my mom was out there with what literally looked to me like thousands of homemade Christmas ornaments. She would get like the sugar cones and she put a piece of styrofoam on it and she’d paint them. And she was making all of these homemade ornaments.
And I just remember thinking, Oh, this is what heaven is, looking out there and seeing my mom. It was literally magical. And so I’ve always, ever since that day, loved decorating.
Tell me about why your husband rides a unicycle!
My son was serving a mission for our church in Ukraine and he wrote a letter home to my husband and he said, dad, growing up, I just thought you were always good at everything. And he said, McKenna Kate probably feels that even more, because you’re older in life, you’ve perfected things, and he said, I think Sam and McKenna Kate, which is our two youngest, need to see you fail.
So Steve picked something really hard to do – so he said I’m going to learn to ride a unicycle. Sam must have seen him fall 5,000 times learning to ride that unicycle.
He said I wanted to show my kids that I could do hard things, something that I thought I never could do. And I wanted them to see me fail over and over and over again. And we finally coined this thing in our family:
It’s not really failure unless you give up, it’s just a setback.
Where do you start with planning and your vision?
I would tend to say it kind of depends on what’s going on in my family. For me at the end of the day, my family is always going to come first.
For Easter this year, my inspiration came when my husband was climbing underneath our house and he sees our bunny has created this whole little burrow underneath the house. And I’m like – oh, my gosh, I’m going to make the front porch be a bunny borough. So sometimes it’s completely seam of the pants and other times it is completely planned out.
For me, it’s about telling a story and, and I think we, as human beings are, very narrative. We love to hear a story. And so I believe the key difference from good decor to great decor is to realize that the minute somebody walks into your home, they’ve entered a story.
How long does it take you to do each project?
It takes anywhere from a day to three days to do a room.
How many areas do you tackle in the home?
Typically seven and I give myself usually 14 days to do it.
Do you actually eat on your decorated tables?
Yes! I’ll give you the greatest tip ever known to man. Walmart has glass plates, clear glass plates. We literally just get out of the glass plate and they sit on top of the beautiful set up. We eat, take them away and it’s still beautifully set.
Once a holiday passes, where do you store everything?
We built a storage room off of our garage and I organize everything by season and color. For example, all of my Easter is along one of the walls by color; Christmas takes actually three walls and then it kind of goes around the corner and I have Valentines’ there, too. And then I have a whole separate spot in the garage that I built for Halloween.
Please tell me you’re like us in a sense that you open up a bin and you think why on earth did I buy that?
This is kind of my key to decorating: only buy things that you love. Buy things that you look at and you say, does that make me happy when I look at it? I know that we change over the years and so you open up your bin and you’re like, okay, I loved that last year, but I hate it this year – that’s when you pass it on to your kids or your neighbors.
If you’re comfortable, can you share what a budget for a holiday looks like?
I can make something that costs a thousand dollars look fabulous, or I can make something that I got at the dollar store look fabulous.
For me, it’s about if is the right piece – not necessarily the finest piece.
I think it’s important to do what works for your family. What brings you joy? Some people are minimalists. So do a minimalism if that’s what brings you joy and what your budget can be, but the answer to your question is do what works for your family – what is not going to create stress.
What’s your favorite place to shop?
If everything in the world was closing down and I could only keep one store open, I would say Home Goods.
Do you ever get overwhelmed from it?
All the time. There are some times I become overwhelmed, but my motto in life is: keep an eternal perspective. And for me, that’s what gets me through. I believe in an afterlife and so for me, I just sit back and I say, is this really going to matter in 5, 10 or 20 years?
Do you have a tip or two to keeping your home organized and clean?
My mom always said to me, ‘Jennifer, everything has a place and put it in its place.’
If it doesn’t have a place, you need to get rid of it.
What are your favorite resources for juggling motherhood?
I think mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional are all so important and it needs to happen in every day. So I try to spend 15 minutes in each of those areas each day. I find that if I can do that, that keeps me kind of balanced.
If there was one thing you could put on a billboard today, what would it say?
Happiness begins with gratitude.