Upon entering Hollie Hill’s southern home, it would be impossible not to be charmed with its character. The 28-year-old nanny and blogger behind Home With The Hills, lives in the bustling city of Atlanta with her husband, Wesley. Their home may host a backdrop of neutral and classic pieces, but Hollie has made it come to life with vivacious pops of color and a surprise in every corner. From the chalkboard wall in the kitchen to the minty fresh paint on the front door, this couple’s home is truly unique.
While Hollie loves to add a “design curveball” to her rooms, she prefers to invest in traditional basics. Over the last few years, she has patiently acquired antiques and custom pieces from local shops and markets. Hollie uses these pieces to add a simple, classic feel to their home and leaves the trendy touch to her accessories. By using the same tones throughout her home, she can mix and match accents in any room – one week you may find a pillow on her dining room settee and the next on her guest bed. Sit back and relax as we catch up with Hollie on the entire design process and take a tour around her colorful Georgia abode.
Full name: Hollie Hill
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Current title/company: Nanny and blogger behind Home with the Hills
Educational background: Graduated from University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism
You and your husband purchased your home in December of 2011. At what point did you feel secure enough to stop renting and become a homeowner? How did you work towards saving for a down payment?
We decided when we got married to rent for a couple years. It worked perfectly for us. It allowed us to save money and start collecting furniture. Decorating can be expensive, and we didn’t have any hand-me-downs to help us get started. We both put away money into a joint savings account every month to help us get ready to buy. Once we felt we had enough money to put down on a house, we knew we were ready.
What main attributes were you looking for in a home? What sold you on the home that you purchased?
Location was really important to us. We knew we wanted to be in the heart of Atlanta and weren’t ready to sacrifice on that. We were also looking for a house with a little character and charm. That way, we could add our own touches to make it a home, but it wouldn’t be too much of a project for us to take on. The house we bought didn’t require any major renovations. It had three bedrooms so we could grow, and it had two closets in the master (which is really rare for an older home). It had good bones, just needed a little love. Oh, and a paint job!
What advice would you give to a woman wanting to purchase her first house?
Stay within your budget! It is so hard not to go higher and higher on your price when looking for a home. I would advise you to stick to your budget so you have some room once you buy to do projects, decorate, and still go about your social life as you did before. There will always be unexpected expenses that come up—from air conditioning problems to falling tree limbs. And of course, you have to save some money for clothes!
What are your favorite/least favorite things about your home?
My favorite thing about our home is the neighborhood. There are so many young, fun girls living just around the corner. You don’t feel like you are in the middle of a busy city. I love that this house is ours, and we can do anything we want to it. It has been so much fun to paint, rip out tile, and install tile to make this house something we are proud of.
My least favorite thing would be the landscaping. We have been working so hard on the inside and making it pretty, but the outside needs some landscaping help. Yard work is on the To Do List, but I just haven’t gotten into gardening yet. I love decorating, and I hope one day I can love working in the yard just as much.
How would you describe your decorating style? Where do look for inspiration?
I am definitely a mix of a couple different styles. I would have to say I am traditional with a trendy touch, while keeping a simple and clean look. I have invested in traditional neutral-toned pieces as my basics. I like to accessorize with trendy, colorful pieces, and I love to find something odd or unique to add to a room, just to throw a curveball. One of my favorite things to do is to take something old and make it new. I love to see the opportunity in antique pieces. I don’t follow many decorating rules—if I love it, I buy it, and I find a place for it. I have used the same tones throughout most of my house, which allows me to mix and match my accents. I can take a pillow from my dining settee and throw it on my guest bed when I get bored. I love to rearrange! I enjoy looking through magazines and other blogs for inspiration. I have found so many great DIYs and cheap ideas by reading blogs.
You and your husband have done many renovations since purchasing your house. How do you decide whether a project is worth hiring out to a professional, versus going the DIY route?
Honestly, it’s by how much it costs. If the cost seems really high and we feel like it is something we can tackle, then we will try it! If it is something we know nothing about, then we will get a couple different quotes to make sure we are getting the best deal. Now, just because we take on some of our own projects doesn’t mean they all end perfectly. Not too long ago, Wesley fell through the ceiling while doing work in our attic. Then we learned how to patch drywall. Sometimes projects are learning experiences.
What was the decorating process like? How long has it taken to get your home to look the way it does now? Would you say that your home is still a work-in-progress?
Once we moved into our house, I was determined to buy pieces I loved, not just pieces to fill space. I have had to learn to be patient and wait. We are just now coming up on a year in our house, and even though there are still projects on my list, I feel really good about the progress we made in one year. I have had to pick up a paintbrush myself and knock out a couple of DIYs to get to the point we are at. My husband and my family have been a huge help in the process. I am known to one friend as a “machine” because I will work non-stop until I can complete a project.
How did you save money when decorating/renovating your house? What advice would you offer others to do the same?
I made a list in the beginning of things that “needed” to be done and things I “wanted” to be done. Then I planned a party at my house a couple months later. Crazy? Maybe! But it gave me a goal to get things done by a date. After the party, we took a break and let our pocketbooks fill back up. Then I set a date for another party and got out my lists again.
Another way I saved money was by having pieces for my house custom-made. It sounds like it would be the opposite, but actually, I saved a ton. I found dealers at Scotts Antique Market and told them what I wanted, and they built it for me. I had my dining table, coffee table, console table and a light fixture all custom-made for a lot cheaper than if I had bought them from a store. And the best part is that they are just mine, my color choice, stain, dimensions, and even design. I got to personally design my dining table—it doesn’t get better than that.
I would tell others to find an antiques show near you and keep an open mind—its not all granny chic. Also, be patient! Sometimes if you just wait a month or so, there will be some holiday or other reason stores are having a sale. Fall Sale, Columbus Day Sale, End of Summer Sale, Friends & Family Sale… there are a lot more sales out there than just Black Friday!
What is your favorite budget-friendly piece in your home, and why?
That’s tough! I have found a lot of good deals on furniture, lighting, and accessories. I think I would have to say a painting by one of my friends is my favorite piece. It means so much to me to have something hanging in my house that was done for me by a friend.
When did you start your blog, Home with the Hills, and why? What were you hoping to get out of it?
I started my blog a couple of years ago as a way for my family and friends to keep up with us and what we were doing. We are go, go, go all the time, and it made it easy for them to follow us. It is so sweet when my grandmother tells me she checks my blog everyday to see if I’ve done anything new. I really liked being able to share personal pictures and stories for them to see.
Now, I have realized I really enjoy blogging and like to share my thoughts, inspirations, recipes, DIYs, gift guides, shopping trips, everything with readers. It is a way for me to have a creative escape. I hope that my friends, family, and readers enjoy the content on my blog.
What are your current career aspirations? Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
I hope to continue to do things that I love. I have so many interests and would love to take some of those ideas to an entrepreneurial level. In five years, I hope to continue working the kinds of jobs that give me the most personal, inner satisfaction and allow me to positively influence the lives of others.
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
When it comes to decorating, I would like to tell myself that my style will change greatly in the next couple of years. Do not spend a lot of money on cheap furniture to fill the space. Live with hand-me-downs and empty spaces. Wait until you really know the styles you like and invest in good, nice pieces of furniture. Those are the pieces you will take with you from house to house for many years.