I met one half of Armstrong Collective (Hannah) when she purchased a Texture Design House Portrait! She lives locally, so I was able to hand deliver her portrait and meet her in person. We started following each other on Instagram, and a short while later she started a home decor blog with her sister-in-law! IT IS FABULOUS! I love their story of becoming sisters, friends and now a creative team! These ladies are very relatable in their topics and writing style! Check out their blog and keep reading to find out more on this sweet duo! #FollowFriday
Authors: Hannah & MaryGene Armstrong
Topics: Interior Styling, Hospitality, Home Decor
Photography by: Emily Bolt Photography
TDC: First of all, you two married brothers!? How cool is that! Tell us a little bit about your relationship!
H: We both met the Armstrong brothers at Clemson -- only 5 years apart! We barely missed each other at college but our paths crossed Christmas 2012 when Barrett brought me home to meet his family. It wasn’t until a family wedding in St. Augustine that MaryGene and I really started hitting things off. Not too long after that Barrett and I joined MaryGene and Andrew in Charleston and, as they say, the rest is history!
MG: I feel like we hit the sister-in-law jackpot. It’s not like you have any control over who your siblings marry and I feel super blessed that Hannah and I have become so close over the last few years and that we’ve started this creative endeavor together!
TDC: What led the two of you to start the Armstrong Collective blog! How did that conversation occur?
MG: Well, we basically decided that we were doing all the things on the blog in real life anyway and we might as well share it! Our daytime jobs (I say that loosely, I actually work nightshift as a nurse), don’t really afford a whole lot of a creative outlet and we both needed that in our lives. And these things are always more fun to do together!
H: We were both thinking we should team up but when I mentioned it I was really nervous she would look at me like I had three heads. Instead she said, “Let me talk to Andrew, but I am 99% sure it’s a yes!”
TDC: What do you hope to convey to your blog followers as they read along?
MG: Our homes were decorated by us-- and they are in a constant state of evolution. We hope that our readers will see a little bit of themselves reflected in our pages and also be inspired by what they see or read. Who doesn’t like looking at pretty things or finding a new antique store to browse or a fun new instagram account to follow? It’s meant to be a positive in your day and meant to make you smile.
H: I think that so many young women get discouraged by what they can and cannot do in their homes -- whether it’s a money thing or lack of vision. We really want to encourage them that making a home can be life-giving, and we hope to be examples of how to put a beautifully thought-out home together within the means we’ve been given.
TDC: I’m already in love with the colors and textures that I see on your blog! Do you both have a similar style? How would each of you describe your taste in home decor?
MG: I would say our styles are similar in that we both have tried to create a welcoming and soothing sanctuary in our homes. We are drawn more to cool tones and natural elements, so it’s no surprise that our homes are similar in feel!
H: The only difference I can think of is that MaryGene is more prone to take “risks.” I tend to get set on one idea for a room and can’t seem to break away, while MG rearranges and experiments often. She challenges me in this way and encourages me to think outside the box.
TDC: What are some of your favorite ways to add a little character and personality to your home?
MG: Two things do it for me--family heirlooms and antique store finds. Things that don’t come from a factory or mass produced items (although I like designer lamps just as much as the next girl). My dad loves antiques and I learned to look for unique, valuable and quality pieces from him. Many of the pieces in my home are inherited from family and have a story and value to me beyond just a piece of furniture.
H: I love a minimalistic approach but at the end of the day I’m not a 2 pillows on the bed or clear coffee table kind of girl. I need different textures and shapes to make a room feel complete. Plants are my favorite accent pieces but my thumbs aren’t as green as I’d like them to be.
TDC: I love how honest you both are about designing on budgets! Is there a piece of furniture or accessory that you are currently saving up for?
MG: Ahhh, budgets. The only thing I have in the back of my mind right now is that Smith is going to be graduating to a big boy bed soon, and just like dreaming up a nursery, I am starting to get excited about a new bed and room setup for him! I have my eye on a twin antique spindle bed-- and I’m actually going over to the shop later to haggle with the sellers. In antique stores you can always ask for less-- the worst that can happen is that they say no. Not a big deal.
H: I work in a furniture & design store so I have a running list. In reality, Barrett and I are saving up for a new sofa. I’ve learned way too much about sofas since working at the store but I know now the importance of saving and buying a quality piece. My eye is on an organic sofa made by Cisco Brothers in California.
TDC: Paint colors can be so overwhelming; what are some of your favorite wall colors right now?
MG: I love white paint. It covers a multitude of sins and you can’t go wrong with white. We covered ⅔ of our house in glorious Benjamin Moore White Dove and I have never regretted it for a second. Especially given that our house is tiny, I didn’t want to break it up with every room being a different color. Our living room is Benjamin Moore Gray Owl lightened by 50%. It looks different throughout the day depending on the light-- from gray-blue to green to almost white. Highly recommend!
H: We went with Sherwin Williams Mountain Air in ¾ of our house and it looks awesome in lamp AND natural light -- that’s the dealmaker. My “wild card” color is Sherwin Williams Slate Tile. It’s almost a dusty navy (if that makes sense), and I’m dreaming of covering some cabinets in it one day!
TDC: Have you ever had a house project that didn’t go as planned? If so, do you care to share what you learned in the process?
MG: This is not a sexy answer, but we put in our own insulation in the attic last fall. Our heating bill was through the roof, (see what I did there?), so my husband and my brother-in-law (not Barrett, my other brother, Tim) rented a machine from Home Depot and had a very long day of DIY insulation installation. It didn’t go as planned because it took FOREVER and it also blew insulation particles all over the house (read, a layer of dust on just about every surface). They taped sheets and plastic over doorways but that pesky stuff still made into adjacent rooms. It was worth it in the end but what a mess! I also tried to reassemble and paint an armoire someone had given to us that was basically a hunk of junk and the only thing I ended up keeping out of it were the front panels that are now hanging on Smith’s wall in his nursery. So, I guess it worked out in the end.
H: I don’t have a particular example in mind but I can tell you that every single project Barrett and I have tried to take on always takes longer than we think it will. It’s really frustrating. We both throw pity parties and move on. That really is lesson one of homeownership: brush it off and keep going!
TDC: Always a hard question for people...what is your favorite Charleston area restaurant right now?
MG: Fulton Five, hands down. Drooling now as I think about it...mmmm...
H: We love trying new restaurants but when we want something guaranteed delicious, we go to Leon’s Oyster Shop.
Thank you ladies for sharing a little of your story and passion with us! Be sure to follow Armstrong Collective on Pinterest and Instagram. Can't wait to share our next #FollowFriday blog with you! Stay tuned.
All photos in today's blog are by Emily Bolt Photography.