First and foremost, Jill Butler is a survivor who after having gone through a divorce and losing her brother, moves to a new house as a transformative, spiritual journey to both find herself through new nesting and remolds a new life for herself. Secondly, Butler is a wonderfully gifted self-taught illustrator and collage artist with French influence, as she lived there for a number of years. She personally designed each and every page just for your reading and aesthetic pleasure with photos by Lisa Bousquet. It is a real smorgasbord of creative fun with her whimsical drawings of little ladies and cartoon characters to tickle your senses with a magical feel of your favorite storybook. The skillfully creative wire-spindled pages keep your eyes wide opened and your attention fixated with entertainment. You can almost “hear” pleasant music in the background while looking at the pages of her book!
Creativity is really an added bonus because the nuts and bolts of this book is really the valuable “how to” tips that Butler offers to you on everything you need to know. She covers the planning of moving to a home, moving in, finding help, fixing it up, settling in and calling it your own. She covers it all and everything in between in a no-nonsense fashion.
Here is a breakdown of some of what you’ll find in her chapters…
Chapter One Clearing The Crud Butler emphasizes that “stuff” literally drags down our energy and makes us feel bad about it and ourselves. She says you need to set a deadline and deal with it before you move. She herself dislikes garage sales, which I found personally humorous, because I haul all my stuff off to charity rather than have a garage sale, but Butler has a better idea. She did a No-Tag Sale. She invited friends over and asked them to make an offer and most everything sold.
Chapter Two Creating a Written Picture Butler basically believes you can’t ask for what you don’t know you want. So She suggest you write down everything you want, tear pictures out of magazines, journal, write down dreams, list ideas, thoughts and even list your housing history to see what you like and don’t like from the past.
Chapter 3 Imagining the Possibilities This chapter is all about visualizing possibilities. For example knowing what you don’t helps you to know what you to want. “The Universe is so generous when we get out of her way and let her be.” I love this quote. Isn’t it so true though? Butler is a visionary thinker and converted a single car garage into her very own art studio. Now that’s creative! She does offer one word of caution and that is to pause before jumping into major renovations.
Chapter 4 Asking for Help Butler tells you to start by making up an affirming statement about yourself beginning with “I am.” She says you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help and that connections usually start to surface when you’re not afraid to open up you’re mouth. When it comes to working with a designer, saying “no” often gets you closer to yes. Keep pulling out your notes and your “Big Picture” magazine tears so that you can keep your projects on track. Don’t forget to figure out the timing of expenditures and allocate funds. Most importantly, find people that will simplify you life, not make things more chaotic, but always get references.
Chapter 5 Sharing Ideas Butler says that the secret to using every room lies in setting up each room exactly as you want it. If it doesn’t work, reinvent it to function as you name it. This chapter starts to take you inside Butler’s house with gorgeous photos of her rooms. You should define what each space should be used for and what the theme is, i.e. cozy, airy, fun, warm, etc. She said that when people visit your home they actually prefer to be cozy together so spacing furniture in small groups is actually the best arrangement.
Chapter 6 Decorate or Entertain the Eye “When I’m faithful to what I like as far as color, style, texture, or feeling, then it somehow comes together intuitively,” says Butler. In essence Butler doesn’t decorate per se but surrounds herself with just the right meaningful objects. She makes conscious choices to either keep or let go of objects in her life. She feels that objects become more than just “things” when we take the time to consider whether we want them around us. Throughout Butler’s house she has shelving that runs at the top of most rooms that can hold all type of knick knack, collectables and art. She shows you her art collection and explains the story behind each piece. Butler is big on recycling objects you have and reinventing new uses for them over buying new things.
Chapter 7 Finding Places and Spaces Storage is a game for Butler especially because it is limited in her older home that has little closet space. She has a “reverse” approach to storage, asking “where can I incorporate that item in my surroundings instead of trying to figure out a way to store it away.” She also believes in storing objects close to where they will be used. She gives all kinds of useful storage tips throughout this chapter.
Chapter 8 Planting Ideas Eventually it will be time to go to the flower nursery to learn about flowers (colors, habits, need for sun, water, shade, blooming habits). Again, you need to write out a plan of what plants you want in your garden and where you want to put them. Being a collage artist, Butler treated her yard as a collage project and created sporadic points of interests with art themes sprouting about and 5 sitting areas.
In the concluding chapter The Butterfly Has Emerged Butler’s cottage had been transformed as her own life underwent its own transformation. The book is not just about searching, finding and moving into a new home but rather is about a woman’s journey through the complete process of metamorphosis. Butler says “Our journey is never complete…until it is” And yet she goes on to say, “But we must learn to live with an incomplete “TO DO” List.” I enjoyed watching and reading the complete journey of Jill Butler because to me it was symbolically every woman’s journey. She portrayed her journey for all women to see and read with such style and creativity. This book is a real gem. I will leave you with a final quote from Butler…“Create your world your way.”
Note: all images in this article are by Jill Butler.