Q&A: Kennesha Buycks on how to create restorative spaces in your home

Apr 25, 2019

Kennesha Buycks writes the blog Restoration House, which is not just about making a house beautiful, but also giving it soul. She talks about things you can do to make your home a place of reflecton, peace and calm. Her new book is called "Restoration House: Creating a Home that gives Life and Connection to all who Enter" Originally from Alabama, she now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four children.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating, design and decluttering questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and organizing. For more than 20 years, our Thursday Q&A has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share your own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small.

Good morning and thanks to Kennesha Buycks of Restoration House for being here. She runs a home and lifestyle blog that focuses on creating mindful spaces and a welcoming atmosphere. Her book "Restoration House: Creating a Home that Gives Life and Connection to all Who Enter" shows ways to style a beautiful home that feels comfortable and beautiful to all who enter. Kennesha is a Southern transplant to the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and four kids.

I'm Kennesha, creative and owner over at Restoration House Blog and I am so thrilled to be here today with Jura and answer some questions you all have about home! Thanks for having me, Jura! 

I recently moved and have a lovely courtyard garden - soon it will be time to plant and I'm looking for a good nursery / garden center close to home near Dupont Circle. (No car - a not too long lyft ride is OK.) Looking for sweet potato vine, double impatiens, other annuals that do well in part shade. I prefer a proper nursery - not Home Depot or Lowes . Where would readers suggest I shop? Thank you.

Does anyone have suggestions for this plant lover?

My mother and aunt lived close to each other and had 10 children between them. I remember my aunt coming over and she and my mother having a simple cup of tea in beautiful floral teacups with regular toast/butter. We the kids never used these teacups and they were stored away from the daily dishes. No fuss no muss, Lipton teabags and regular white bread. But the magic was the stopping of the daily doings and spending quality time with each other with these elegant delicate teacups reflecting peace, beauty,grace and calm. It's not the gourmet this or that or the newest gadget to make the perfect cup but time and friendship and the commitment to nuture and nourish it.

I absolutely agree with you. I think it's so important that we grasp and really embrace the truth that our homes can never fulfill us nor the things we put inside of them but that our stories of home and the memories they carry (and that we carry with us) are what makes a home. And Lipton tea...you're speaking right to my Southern soul. :)

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Hello, I rent in VA but have been hearing there are wallpapers that are actually easy to remove. Can you recommend some brands/stores that carry rental-friendly wallpaper? Thank you!

There are definitely some fun options out there. There are even a lot of small businesses (Etsy, etc) that you can support as well. I have included a couple of my faves here: 



You can also purchase some pretty great options at big box brands like Home Depot, Target and other larger retailers. They are becoming more and more available via mainstream outlets and more easily accessible. Thank you and good luck to you in making your rental feel a little more like home! 

Well now that Johnson's on Wisconsin Ave is closed- the best most complete nursery with very good variety and good quality plants is American Plant near Kenwood Country Club on River Road . There is one at the Beltway at River Rd but the smaller one across from the Whole Foods there has a great staff and great selection. Worth a visit. Crowded logically on weekends.

Thank you.

How do you choose what to put on your walls? (Scripture? Photographs? Sentimental things?)

Love this question! Mostly because I love putting things on the wall that are a little bit unexpected. Since I am a vintage/antique lover I enjoy collecting things and using them as art on my walls. Things like vintage shoe forms and architectural pieces are some of my favorites. Those things are good for me because they are a personal attachment to where and how I grew up and conjure up fun memories as well. 

I'd say that, for you, or anyone else trying to decide what to put on their walls, to go with what speaks to you personally. If you need daily reminders that you're called to something greater, put it on the wall. If you love large-scale art pieces and your home and walls can accommodate that scale, put them on the wall. 

Gallery walls are still a practical yet artful way to showcase personality in your space and is just one way to display more than just pictures. So, looking for ways to combine what you love with the people you love is also always a win! 

My apartment is not restorative or calming, largely because it's messy and dirty. There's dust everywhere, mouse turds in the corners, and actual drifts of hair against the baseboards. I live in squalor. :( Obviously I need to become a better and more disciplined person who cleans regularly, but do you have any advice for setting up a small apartment to make it as easy to clean as possible?

One of the first thoughts I have is decluttering. Take evaluation of what you have and figure out what those things are that you need and use on a daily/weekly basis. Whatever is left, look for ways to get rid of them: donate, recycle, toss. 

Next, thorough cleaning either by you or hire someone to come out a deep clean. You won't feel refreshed or relaxed if you don't feel at ease enough to place your belongings on floors and surfaces not to mention the safety of air quality in such a small space. 

In smaller spaces, it is very important, more than others, to only have what you absolutely need. This is not to say that you can't go for a larger sofa or that art inspired end table but lots of smaller things clutter up small spaces fast. Using items that are multifuncional in small spaces will surely help your space feel more useful, clean and a little more like home. 

The Franciscan Monastery is having their plant and herb sale this weekend! Is that a short enough lyft? I have not personally been to the sale but their own gardens are really beautiful.

Wonderful to know about this. Thanks.

I enjoy the photos on your blog, particularly the picture of a vintage cow chart at the base of the stairs (Seattle house). I'm always looking for these kinds of charts and maps to lend some interest and depth to rooms, but they can be hard to find. Do you have a go-to source for original drawings, charts, maps, etc? Not looking for high dollar collectibles, just colorful, aged pieces to enjoy.

Yes! This is one of my favorite things to do to a room! I love Etsy for personal and one of a kind art. There are so many artists there and most of their works of art range in pricing from inexpensive to serving those with larger budgets and everything in-between. 

A few of my faves: 



I also love shopping www.shopgoodwill.com in the collectibles section. There are SO many good finds there and it's auction style so you can really get some good deals. 

Happy hunting! 

Olde City Gardens on RI Ave in Shaw is pretty close to Dupont


I would love to create a quite space for reading and journaling, but my home is rather small (and cluttered, I must admit), do you have any suggestions about how to do this and where is the best place in the home (e.g., natural light, away from tv, etc.?) Thank you!

One of my favorite spots in my home is my corner chair in a room that used to be our office. I bought an inexpensive chair from IKEA, tucked it into the corner by a large window and added some vintage camp stools for a mobile side table/ottoman. 

It doesn't take much to create a space that you can call your own and retreat to when you need. Find a space that isn't in the middle of commotion or lend itself to traffic you can. Bedroom corners can be especially good for this. If this isn't an option, perhaps clearing out a closet space to create something that you love. 

Is it still a valid “thing” to guide your home layout?

I'm not extremely familiar with feng shui but the layout of your home should always accommodate yours and your family's needs and function in the way that fits your lifestyle. 

We're ready to purchase new carpet for our entire house (except kitchen, or course). We plan on using a wool "straw" colored carpet for most rooms, but are unsure about our bedroom. While wool wears and cleans beautifully, it isn't as soft as nylon. Should we use the wool in our bedroom? If not, what color should we use so that the transition from hall to bedroom looks ok. Right now our bedroom carpet is a celadon green, which I love, but that color appears to be "out" right now. Thanks.

I love wool carpet! I think that's a very personal decision. It sounds like allergies to the fiber are not a concern since you are using it in the rest of your home and if you like the look and feel of it, go for the wool in every room the keep things consistent. There are many wool options out right now that are just as soft as nylon options. If you decide to do both just choose a nylon option that is as close as possible to your wool choice. 

What are good ways to bring some love to a guest room that is pretty plain? I want to show my guests that I welcome them to my home.

Two things: texture and color. 

Add these things with throw blankets at the end of the bed, decorative pillows at the head, art on the wall or tilted against the wall on bedside tables. Personal touches like water dispensers, mints and personal journals also add a nice touch! 

My art collection and I respectfully disagree. It's not a lot of expensive items, but prints from local artists and pieces I've picked up on my travels. Every time I look at them, I'm reminded of where I got them in addition to just being wonderful to gaze upon.

What this means is that stuff will never make us happy or truly fulfill us! At the end of the day, there's just more to life than our things and if we're looking to those things to make us happy then we'll end up living a bit of a shallow life. I have so many items in my home that fill me with memories and that make me happy for the moment but more than vintage collections and stuff, it's the people inside and the community I build with the people who enter in that really have an eternal impact on who I am (and who we are) as a human being. 

Is there a rule of thumb for replacing upholstery furniture? Our sectional is about 10 years old, and is losing its shape in sections, but overall, seems too good to replace. Other than replacing for variety, is there a life expectancy for upholstered pieces used on a daily basis?

I think the life expectancy depends on the quality of the piece but a general rule of thumb is between 7-10 years. Of course, it can run the gamut but aside from replacing the sofa altogether or having it reupholstered you can look at the option of replacing the cushions instead or having the upholstery dry cleaned which will give it a clean, fresh look and feel! 

How can you edit down your things in a small space to make it seem peaceful and restful? Clutter really makes me crazy.

I totally get this! Clutter makes me crazy too! It is so helpful to begin to take into account the things that you use on a daily. A general rule of thumb is that if you haven't touched it in 30 days, it can go. Good luck with the decluttering and creating a space that feels right for YOU! 

Here's an article that I found that may be helpful in getting you started: 


Who has inspired you in this home restoration journey?

So many people! Mostly my family: my grandmother, my aunts my mom. They were the women who taught me, unknowingly, how to build community and home! 

How do we curate items when everyone in our home has different taste? My partner prefers minimalist and mid century modern, while I prefer cozy colorful, and our children want unicorns and pink explosion. How do we bring it all together? To feel like home for us all.

Marrying styles is even easier today than ever. If you're okay with not having a linear feel in your home you can achieve this by including what each of you love in every room. Deciding what you love the most about each of those styles and incorporating them into each space in your home will be helpful. If you love MCM furniture but you love vintage rugs for the cozy, well, that 's a match made in heaven. Above all, take some time to sit down with one another and talk about your non-negotiables in your space. 

What kind regional styles /trends do you see now that you life on the West coast? Because of the damp weather do you so more go the "hygge" lifestyle versus the southern easy, breezy style?

I am a Southern woman through and through so my style definitely seems to lean more toward warm and cozy feel. Now that we live in the PNW where minimal and modern is more attractive to most, I've learned how to mesh those styles together without losing my sense of me and of home. The key for me has been decluttering and keeping things minimal while adding lots of texture, warmth with the furniture and accessoriesI bring in without overcrowding our small space. 

I moved into a new home about 6 months ago with a fairly large screened in porch off the back. It will be a lovely space to enjoy the summer evenings. I haven't furnished it yet. Any ideas of elements to incorporate to bring that peaceful, relaxing feeling? We live in North Carolina so we will be able to use the porch almost year round. Thanks!

First of all...dreamy. Second, start from the "ground" up. Source a good indoor/outdoor rug to define the space. I'm a texture and comfort girl all the way so adding lots of fun pillows and even planted pots (since it's a screened in porch your possibilities are limitless here) will help create a space that is warm and welcoming for all. Consider an outdoor sectional and a firepit to finish it all off. Good luck! 

I have a basement that has flooded five times so I need to remove the carpet but am hesitant to put down more, only to see it get wet. I have two sump pumps and have fixed everything that caused a flood but have no idea how much more creative my house can get. What kind of flooring can withstand water that's not a cold hard tile or linoleum? The room has wood paneling so wood floors would be too much wood.

It's not the most popular or loved by some but I love the idea of polished concrete floors. Leaving rooms feeling sterile is always a concern with these types of floors so instead of wall to wall carpeting or specialty flooring, consider unique area rugs and hallway runner to warm up the space a bit more. 

@kimmyintx on Instagram is one of my faves and accomplishes this well! 


Thanks so much Kennesha. And good luck with your new book. Next week I will have interior designer and blogger Erin Gates here. She has a new book out on family style: how to live well with children, pets etc. Until then, enjoy the wonderful spring weather.                         

Thank so much to WP and Jura for having me! I have so enjoyed answering your questions on how to make your spaces a little more like home. There's no doubt you all are on your way to creating a beautiful home that will result in a more whole life! 

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily Twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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