#mywholehome | A Tacoma Photographer Embraces the Space She’s In

Name | Jessica Uhler

Business | Jessica Uhler Photography www.jessuhlerphoto.com

City of Residence | Tacoma, WA

Number of years in current home | 13 years


Tell us the story of your home. To you, what sets it apart or makes it unique aside from the fact that you and your family are the ones who live in it.

Our home has evolved so much over the years. We've raised babies and toddlers here, now we have 3 teenagers and a first grader. The look and feel of our home has changed with every age and stage. When we moved in to this 100 year-old home there were so many things that needed updating, cosmetic and otherwise. The kitchen was particularly bad- no counter space, ancient appliances, tight layout, small metal cabinets. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and as someone who made most of our meals from scratch in that kitchen It was honestly a source of frustration every single day. We waited 10 years before we were able to remodel the kitchen. Waiting was also something God used to teach me patience and gratitude and to see beauty in unexpected, imperfect places. I am so thankful for the ways we've been able to make it our own, the projects we've been able to complete, and the creativity we've infused into it. But since the beginning it's been a place where we've opened our doors to family and friends. We didn't wait until it felt "done" or perfect to invite people in.

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How would you describe your personal home style? 

Always changing. Maybe modern Bohemian or eclectic. We have thrift store finds, Craigslist treasures, vintage pieces, Target and Ikea. I could even give you a tour of our house showing you all the things that were roadside finds (in Tacoma people put furniture and household items they are giving away out by the sidewalks. The midcentury couch in my office, a couple very cool headboards, my husband's work desk, the wool rug in our bedroom, and several small tables and chairs were all found this way. You know what they say about one person's trash...) I love that our house is a collection of so many things that have their own story. And I think it all works together because it's all stuff I love and there are repeated elements throughout. 

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What is your favorite space in your home? 

It changes with the seasons because of the light. I tend to follow the light around the house, especially in winter. Right now I'm loving the upstairs landing. It's always been sort of a dead space in our home- used for ill-fitting storage and furniture. This summer I repurposed other pieces in our home to make it a cozy, beautiful nook. It gets gorgeous light all day long and it makes me happy when I walk up the stairs. I also love curling up on the couch in my office in the morning and reading or writing and drinking my coffee. 

Jess chooses a more eclectic and gathered style of living as shown by her display of frames on her stairwell here.

Jess chooses a more eclectic and gathered style of living as shown by her display of frames on her stairwell here.


What was life like for you growing up in your childhood home?

Growing up it often felt like we were just people living under the same roof, that there wasn't a lot of unity or story tying us together. My parents both worked and my brother and I were busy with activities. When I started my own family it was important that home be a place of intentional community. We are all culture-makers in our own homes- the traditions and rituals, the way we use the spaces to foster togetherness and express ourselves. That awareness has been a huge motivator for me in making my own home and family culture, in the importance of our traditions, family rhythms and dinners together. It has even greatly influenced my photography work and how I photograph families and their everyday life. None of it needs to be fancy or expensive- beauty and coziness can be found and made so many ways. 


What does home mean to you? What do you want others to feel when they enter/spend time in your home? 

I want home to be a safe, comfortable, beautiful space for our family and for everyone who enters. Nothing is too precious or expensive (our most expensive piece of furniture is a $700 floor model sectional). I want it to feel peaceful and ordered, especially because it's not huge (for 6 people). The struggle against chaos and clutter is ongoing, and I have a hard time editing myself as a visual artist. I want all the things on on all the walls! I'm learning that things have more impact when there is some breathing room and space. But I also believe in having family pictures on the walls that tell the story of who we are. There are actually studies that show that kids who grow up in homes with family pictures on the wall have a stronger sense of self-esteem! When people come in I want them to feel comfortable to put their feet up and relax, and to know that they matter. Home is a place where we can recreate and create, recharge, refuel, rest, rejuvenate before going out into the world again. I think in it's own way it can be the backdrop against which we learn how to love and be loved. This quote by CS Lewis has always summed up the importance of home to me: “I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely, in reality, the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr Johnson said, ‘To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour’... We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist.”


Proudest DIY?

Honestly, so many! I'm really proud of how even though it's not what I would consider "finished" our home finally feels more like a reflection of us than when we first moved in, and that we've been pretty resourceful and creative in how we put it all together.  Remodeling our kitchen 3 years ago was a huge undertaking for us because we did a lot of it ourselves (and I was waiting sooo long!). My husband spent hours upon hours scraping the linoleum adhesive off the fir floors before refinishing them, and I spent hours in our basement prepping, priming and painting the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. It's one of my favorite things in the world to have a vision and make that vision a reality with a big or small project. So satisfying!


Do you think you've learned to embrace your story? Your home? Why or why not? 

We lived with one shower between the 6 of us for 12 years. Our kitchen was pretty bad but we used the heck out of it. We still have walls that need plastering, trim that needs painting, and lots of other things. There are things I would change if I could, and some days (especially in winter) I long for a bigger house. But my purpose and intention has always been to see the beauty in the midst of the chaos, the imperfection, the real daily life lived within these walls. This is where our story begins. In both my personal and artistic journey I desire to cultivate gratitude through embracing real life and finding the glory beyond the Pinterest board. It's in a pile of laundry on the couch or a sink full of dishes illuminated by the sun. And I can look around my home and feel extremely grateful for the life lived here and all the memories it's held. Our house certainly was never this put together when our kids were little and home all day, by the way.


If there was one piece of advice that you could give to others as to how to embrace their home and their story, what would that sound like? 

Don't be afraid to break whatever rules you think there are. The difference between taste and style is putting your own spin on something, the unexpected element.  And it doesn't have to be expensive to have style! Make it yours. I love seeing my daughter's cork succulents, my son's glass art, my grandmother's Kokeshi dolls and a collage of family snapshots and memorabilia as I walk through my home. You can't buy those things out of a catalog. 

TELL US YOUR #mywholehome STORY

We’d love for you to hop over to the Restoration House Instagram account and follow along with our weekly hashtag that complements this series. Tell us a bit more about your own home story by using #mywholehome there. Don’t forget to come by next week for more inspiration as more friends share their #mywholehome stories.


Jessica is a documentary family, wedding and commercial photographer in the Seattle area. She is a mom to four, and making home has been her primary job over the last 17 years. She believes real is better than perfect, and strives to capture the feeling and heart of her client's homes and families, showing them how beautiful their life really is.  When not grocery shopping, she might be found running, writing or doing yoga. She prefers salted butter and thinks a freshly made bed is one of life's best luxuries and believes that more than simply looking good, home is meant to lived in and enjoyed. You can see more of Jess’s work and read about what she’s up to here.



moroccan pouf: D+K Renewal 

lumbar pillow (hmong): garage sale

18x18 mudcloth black and white: D+K renewal

dining lighting: Ebay

dining chairs (white): Target

cabinet paint color (kitchen): Kensington Blue by Benjamin Moore, Simply White by Benjamin Moore on the uppers

Kitchen cabinets: IKEA

Kitchen door and drawer fronts: Semi Handmade (Our favorite kitchen hack! buy really well-made and affordable IKEA cabinets and SemiHandmade doors and drawer fronts for a custom, high-end look!)

Kitchen hardware: Lewis Dolin bar series in brushed brass

kitchen tile backsplash: Studio S Caress in White Chalk

kitchen lighting: Schoolhouse Electric

bathroom lighting and fixtures/hardware: bathroom shower hardware: Rozin

bathroom faucet: Delta Trinsic in matte black

bathroom lighting: Etsy 

Stairway runner: Overstock (installed by pro)

Bedroom | mudcloth pillows: Thimble and Cloth

leather tufted bench: Overstock

BEYOND THE PUMPKIN | A Few Simple Thanksgiving Tablescapes to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

I’m all for decorating my home and setting the table with things that I already have in my own home. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE buying new things but when I AM buying those things, I typically try to purchase items that are basics and that I can use beyond just one season.

Insert the settings below that check just about every functional and perfect aesthetic for me. I know I am probably one of the few possibly who aren’t celebrating Christmas right now. I actually just love the fall and all it brings and how it evokes and calls to each of us to enter in to a season of rest and opening opportunity for others to enter into that alongside us—especially in our homes.

With that being said, here are a few non-traditional table settings I’ve rounded up to help get your juices flowing. Most of them I chose because they are simple and allow you to gather things around your home that you already have. Whether it’s mismatched flatware or plates, guaranteed you’ve got just what you need to get the party started.

Prepare yourselves, friends. These are pretty good and these ladies did not hold back on creating timeless tablescapes that would no doubt make anyone in the room linger just a little bit longer.

Up first are these two from Apartment 34. I love the '“collected over time” look and feel of these settings. Although I am sure they sourced from some pretty cool artisans, you could also easily duplicate this look by shopping your local thrift and other retailers. I absolutely adore the muted colors and the free flow of the arrangement of the table. Collectively, the setting is frill-free and offers those at the table the ability to be at ease. That’s a feeling I think just about any host would strive for. These (above and below) get the thumbs up from me, for sure.

via  Rip + Tan

Jenni Kayne (above) has been a fave of mine for a few years now and each season she consistently delivers loads of inspiration for home. This one’s from a couple of years back but because of the timeless style she offers, it’s still relevant

Always a fan of the the contrast that a darker bottom layer brings, this tablescape from Rose and Ivy surely delivers a very traditional punch with a twist. By simply placing the pear on the setting with the cloth napkin not only are you giving opportunity for a “one-stop shop” of sorts for those dining with you but you give the eye somewhere to go which makes guests feel more entertained (crazy how our brains work) and also adds visual interest to the table. This idea continues with the texture of the florals and the ornateness of the gold flatware, the scallop of the plates and even the texture of the bread board. That addition also breaks up the traditional feel and gives the table more of a modern feel. To see more, just click on the link the image caption.

Give me muted colors ALL day. I’m a happy girl. This table from House of Perez is surely on my short list of favorites. What I love about going with non-traditional colors and decor is that you don’t have to box yourself in to only using them during a specific time of year and, in this case, the fall. Choosing this option also allows you to save money in the long run as you’re not making seasonal purchases. For most of us, little things like saving money in places like this matter. So, in that case, I’ll consider that a win for us all.

Speaking of muted colors, this simple and minimal tablescape nearly stopped me dead in my tracks. And, these plates, guys. My goodness. There’s not one aspect of this table I’m not in love with. If I had to choose a favorite I think those rust orange cloth napkins may be my most favorite thing on this table. This one was pulled together for wedding inspirational purposes but I love that it can absolutely stretch far beyond that in usage.

So, not I wanna know…are you decorating your table for fall or do you save all of your energy for Christmas decor and entertaining? What’s your favorite tablescape above? I hope you’ve been inspired to think a little out of the box and past pumpkins if you are one of those who plans on setting a nice, fun table for Thanksgiving. Lemme know in the comments below and happy, happy decorating, friends!




I think I've talked enough between here and various social media outlets about embracing "the true you" and how much that can shift not only our thinking but our everyday lives so tremendously. 


photography |  ryan flynn    styling | kennesha buycks

photography | ryan flynn 

styling | kennesha buycks

As creatives, we willingly inundate ourselves for the sake of the creative process with images, ideas and conversations that in many ways help us build, grow and become the people we are today and run all of the amazing businesses we have. Conversely, we also run the risk of damaging our own creative souls when we lean too much on others and choose not to trust ourselves and our own creative gifts that we've been given in the process.  


In an Instagram-, Facebook-, and Twitter-filled culture I've found it hard sometimes to embrace my own gifts and really answer the questions, " Who am I?"  and "Does my business truly represent WHO I am?". In the past I feel my "voice" has been lost in the shuffle of competition, trends and fear of rejection from readers or peers. 


Truth is, I don't really know how to be anyone else and I'm sure most of you out there would agree. What I know is that it's really hard to think of what you want to do when you're thinking of how someone else would do it. 


I just think there's something to honing in on your gifts and what you're passionate about and following that with your whole heart. When we can truly embrace what we have and how we express it-uniquely, we will arrive at a place like no other. This place is a space between fear and perfection. It's a space where God can and wants to take the gifts that He has placed in you and use them to reach the hearts of people all over in whatever way you are meant to do that. 


If you're wondering where all of this is coming from,well, if you have followed along here for a while then you know it's really just a sincere passion of mine to empower each of you to confidently walk out your life and calling alongside others. This is a journey I've been on my entire life but more in the past two years since I lost my mother. I am absolutely passionate about many things, one of them is you and all the amazing things you have to offer this world. 


Anyhow, I thought I'd offer a few realizations I've had as I'm learning to walk out this new life of discovering my own gifts and wholeheartedly embracing them: 

Photography|  ryan flynn   Styling | kennesha buycks

Photography| ryan flynn

Styling | kennesha buycks


1. My life is my own. My gifts, they are mine too. No one can do me the way I can. I've said this here before but no matter how many artists there are in this world, no one is going to express THEIR art they way YOU do. It's a message worth rehearsing over and over until we all get it.  


2. There can be power or death in the creative community. You choose. You can use your time to compare and tear down your own process by comparing your talents to others or you can collaborate encourage and challenge others to reach higher and achieve more. Build on one another's gifts as though you were building a puzzle. In some way, we all fit together to make a beautiful picture of creativity as a means of opening up new worlds and possibilities to those outside "our" own. That, in and of itself, just may be THE gift. 


3. When we compare, we stifle the process of creativity. We've all heard it time and time again, "Comparison is the thief of joy." I'd go even further to say that not only is it the thief of joy but also the thief of all things creative and good. We really do ourselves no favors at all when we make the decision to look at the processes, work and gifts of others in comparison to our own. 


I honestly started thinking more about this when I was inspired to sit down and work on some upcoming things for the blog. One of those things was an inspirational spring table setting. I was literally stopped in my tracks by the fear that I wasn't good enough or that my table wouldn't look as good as someone else's. Later on the blog this week, I will be sharing my process of how I pulled myself up and reminded myself of why I do this in the first place. What a journey, friends. 


I am so glad that this is a space where I can be honest with each of you and pour out my heart in this way while hopefully inspiring and encouraging you to walk more boldly and confidently in your heart and home.