gold leaf frame & office details

by | Jul 1, 2020 | All Things Home, Decorating, My House, Office, Organizing | 49 comments

I was supposed to be cleaning.  Let me say that right upfront.  It was a self-imposed task, but my home projects have distracted me from basic housekeeping.  I gave the kitchen a quick cleaning – wiping down the counters and the stove, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming.  I even got as far as cleaning the toilet in the 1/2 bathroom and running the vacuum in the living room, but the cleaning stopped there.  The rabbit trail started with hanging a picture light over my Manet study and it turned into reclaiming my office, rearranging furniture, and gold leafing my inspiration board frame.  It wasn’t what I should’ve done, but it’s what I needed to do.  I’ve learned that when inspiration strikes, I just need to roll with it and the cleaning can wait.

Jeff has been inhabiting my office since March, but he’s working at the church more often and, when he’s home, he’s usually working from the couch or pacing outside on the phone.  I love working in my studio, but it’s set up for specific creative tasks and my office is set up for business work and writing.  Setting up zones for specific tasks helps me to focus better on what I’m doing.  I’m not distracted by notifications or tempted to check my e-mail when I’m painting or working on a photoshoot if my computer is in the other room.  And I’ve missed my office.

It started innocently with cleaning up his books and papers, collecting them in a stack for him to take into his office, and things just progressed from there.  I fiddled with the desk accessories and dusted.  And then I decided to frame a couple of my index card paintings and a color chart, rework my inspiration board and apply some gold leaf to the frame while I was at it!

 gold leaf frame miss mustard seed

The gold leaf was absolutely the right call and I can’t believe I’ve lived with this board for almost three years without thinking of doing it until now.  I had all of the materials on hand and it was quick to complete.  You can find a tutorial on applying gold leaf HERE.

I bought my board from Hobby Lobby, but THIS ONE is very similar.  I use powerful mini magnets like THESE (6mm) and THESE (3mm).

And I played with my inspiration board for a long time.  I scooted around paint samples and fabric swatches and enjoyed the process of experimenting and creating groupings I liked.  I kept going to my sewing room or studio to collect more bits…papers, ribbon, some of my small paintings, etc.

Jeff was watching me walk back and forth through this whole process and I finally told him that my exercise plan for the day was just walking all over the house from one room to the next and back again.  I was joking, but I did end up getting over 10,000 steps in the process!

The pressed fern came from France in the antique paint box I purchased a few weeks ago.

I also included words I like… a Mary Oliver poem, a Theodore Roosevelt quote, an excerpt from a devotional…

I feel like I could live in this board…

A few people have asked me how to frame the color charts and index cart art I create and sell and this is how I did it…

These are just inexpensive frames from Target.  I mounted the paintings on watercolor paper with acid-free glue dots and then taped them inside the mat.

I brought the top in for the hutch and removed the large antique map of PA.  I’ll move that down to the basement.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like the hutch top next to the tall bookcase, but it works in an office scenario.  I have filled it with paint samples and office supplies – printer paper, notebook refills, classification folders, business cards, envelopes, rolls of branded masking tape.  I have some decor in there as well, but it can be replaced with books if (when) my collection grows out of the bookcase.

All of the ugly stuff like boxes of folders, sheet protectors, extra cords, etc. are in the bottom cabinet.

And I swapped one of my wing chairs from the basement with the leather club chair in the corner…

I put some new glass knobs from my stash on the doors of the bookcase (they were just black metal)…

And I rearranged the bookcase!  I used this picture on my inspiration board as inspiration to create clusters of color with the books.

I had all of the books that were in the same color family together, but that resulted in an entire row of white books, making the colorful books look visually off-balance.  This option distributes the color around the bookcase and making smaller groupings means I can be more specific about the color…purple blues, pale blues, green-blues,  orange-reds, pink-reds, etc.

 gold leaf frame miss mustard seed

I hung the original painting I got at a school auction (for less than $50) a few years ago on the middle post.  The colors in the painting tie together many of the colors in the book spines.

 gold leaf frame miss mustard seed

I’ve shared before that I consider books to be my continuing education and have been intentionally building a library of books on design, decorating, art, and creativity over the past few years.  I collected decorating books for years and did a great purge a couple of years before we moved to MN, keeping only my very favorites, and I wish I hadn’t done that!  I just felt like I didn’t need so many books with the plethora of information and inspiration online.  But, books are just different and I realized I missed having a robust library, so I’ve been building it up again with a mix of new and used books.  Some of them are old library books with the cards still in them!  I sort of love that.

Anytime Jeff gives me a look when new books show up on the doorstep or when I walk to the counter at Barnes & Noble with a stack in my arms, I remind him that we paid for him to get two degrees and my book collection will never come close to touching that total!

I still have a bit more to do, but it was so great to reclaim this space and freshen it up with things I already have.  In our mentoring session yesterday, Shaunna and the group noticed that I was especially energetic!  I am just in a season when I really am enjoying what I do and I guess that makes me act like I’ve had way too much caffeine!


gold leaf frame miss mustard seed


  1. Kimberly Westby

    ” Go with the flow”, when inspiration or energy makes itself available, take advantage and use it.
    Doesn’t it feel good after accomplishing some of those niggling things on ‘the list’.


  2. Peggy Spencer

    I would. Love to have my life to live over,and do things you are doing.I was raised to stay home and take care of my children and husband.I know that’s not popular now.Wish I had had your drive to do all you do.Love your boards.I am 73 and I think I will make me one!!!Love your Miss Mustardseed tape.Do you sell it?God bless you for giving us something to look forward to in these trying times.

    • Laura

      @Peggy Spencer – my mom moved to Italy at 73. She loves it! It’s never too late to start something. PS 73 isn’t old either. 🙂

    • Dara

      Hey Peggy….we are about the same age. Marian has been my muse for years…basically since she started. You can play too…start a blog…not a big one like Miss Mustard Seed. I have…do something you love you saw on Miss Mustard Seed and post it. Or just post it on facebook . Start small but just start.
      Make the board and share it

      Yes Marian thank you for being you. Hope u don’t mind the muse part. LOL

    • Leslie

      I echo Laura’s sentiment. 73 isn’t old and you don’t want to be 83 looking back at all the things you wished you had done over the previous 10 years. We may not be able to haul around bookcases an cabinets like Marian does – but we can paint and create and live!!

    • Linda

      Peggy Spencer, you did the most noble work, “taking care of your children and husband!” We need more Peggy’s in the world.

  3. Amy Moe

    I have realized how much I embrace those energetic moods that I can get in. I’m completely focused, driven and I plow through the project I have needed or wanted to do for sometime. It’s a wam- bam- get it all done at once. Great feeling. Thank you for sharing your energy and creative ideas.

  4. Mona

    Great job! You always reorganize things beautifully!!

    Quick question. I love in a small condo. Kitchen is small. I am tired of hunting for measuring spoons and cups. I do have some space on one wall of my pantry. Can you give me some help on how can organize them better?


    • Leanna

      If they have holes you can hang them on a vintage mug tree that sits on your counter

  5. Carla from Kansas

    Shoulds are wrong. They create a lot of strife and guilt in people. Glad you did what you needed to.

  6. Theresa

    Regarding books, Marian, how do you feel about dust covers? Do you keep them on your books or toss them? Maybe you’ve addressed this before?? My husband removes and discards them immediately. I can’t even watch him do it. 🥴

    • Marian Parsons

      I generally leave them on unless they are ugly or damaged! 🙂

  7. Julie N

    Looks great!! And I love the kitty in the pictures…pure contentment! 🙂

  8. Mary Ann

    You never cease to amaze me with your design and decorating ideas! You’re such an inspiration…I’m going to be doing some redecorating of my bookshelves soon!

  9. Sandra

    “…for His glory…”. AMEN
    All the quotes spoke deeply to my heart.
    God bless you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

  10. Ann

    Your inspiration board is just beautiful!!! You have the artist’s eye, for sure, and have put together a very pleasing arrangement. So you save swaths of fabric, sayings from various sources, and are those photos from magazines? You applied the same gift to arranging your books. Your home is beautiful in a homey and inviting way!

  11. Maureen

    Your inspiration board is gorgeous. I would stare at that all day and never get anything done.

  12. Connie

    “Whatever you do today…do it for My glory”!! Such wise words to live by – past, present & future! Aren’t books wonderful?! Whether kept in bookcases, stacked on the floor or a small table next to a favorite reading spot, or used in decorating to elevate some favorite pretty, homes just don’t seem to have much of a soul without the presence of books!

  13. Michelle

    Thank you for your tutorial on applying gold leaf. I did try it with glue and it was a hot mess. Would you mind telling us which sizing you used and where you found it? Thank you for your constant inspiration!

    • Marian Parsons

      Sure! I use Mona Lisa Sizing by Speedball. You can find it at most craft stores on online at Amazon, Blick, etc.

  14. Teddee Grace

    This looked like such fun. I love doing this sort of thing and everything you did turned out so aesthetically pleasing. I wish I had room for a large inspiration board in my one-bedroom apartment. I’m thinking I might create several small ones that would fit in a three-ring binder.

  15. Linda Charlton

    I want to live in your home. Just sayin’.

  16. melinda pilkinton

    Love that cat!~ Makes him/herself comfortable; everywhere he seems to be welcome.

  17. Sue Cantrell

    I love the look of the rainbow when books are arranged by the color of their spines, but, but, but my bookish soul needs them arranged by subject matter!


    • Victoria

      Most of my books are grouped by genre, but the design, art and poetry are by colour and I love it! It seems fitting for the design books and there’s not so many of them that I can’t find what I’m looking for.

  18. Jean M Clayton

    @peggyspencer your children were fortunate to have you him with them. Keep going girl, make your board of all you love and it will make you smile every time you see it!

  19. MaryLisa

    Your board is my color palette as well. I always think Pinterest is a good inspiration but I think when you can see it up close and touch it it’s so much better. Time to get started. Thank you

  20. Debbie

    I LOVE THIS POST!! I enjoyed immensely the “scattered” creativity….and I understand that when you have something on your mind, that’s the best time to do it to your liking! My best and most satisfying projects happen then.

    I’m fixing to be 70 in two months (yes, I’m in the South) and I’m grieving over time lost, like Peggy. I do love following you and your creative endeavors. Keep on doing your thing, Marian. We’d be lost without you!

    • Victoria

      My mum was 82 last year when she moved halfway across the country to go back to the place she grew up. It’s not too late.

  21. Julie | Home On The Hill

    Yes, I could live in your inspiration board as well – the colours & themes resonate for me.

    I love browsing your books shelves, have discovered a few great books that way – actually collecting a copy of New Americana today from the post office (no mail delivery to our farm here in rural Australia), it took about 5 weeks for the book seller to secure a copy for me!

    But I’ll enjoy it all the more for the wait – I imagine the long wait fro things is how it was for the people in the past whose everyday items we now treasure as decor depicted in the pages of these books we buy & yes, real books are special, they stimulate more than just one sense with their texture & scent. 🙂

  22. Gloria

    Love, love, love this post. I too have had a spurt of energy and after living in our home for 57 years I am getting rid of stuff. Stuff that has no meaning. Stuff others can use. Stuff that drives me crazy. I love your board BUT I must know where do you use the browns? Boys rooms????? Just seems so unMiss Mustard Seed but I love it’s addition. I too stayed home with my children but never stopped creating. Still love sewing, painting and decorating at 76.

    • Marian Parsons

      So funny you noticed that! I am not using brown in fabrics, anywhere, but I found myself drawn to these, so I put them on the board to play and think about if and where I would want to use them. Right now, the browns in my home are from wood tones, baskets, etc.

  23. Amy

    Marian, your inspiration board is stunning. The colors, the styling, the prose are things I just want to linger over and dream along with you. God gave you a gift for finding beauty in everything no matter how mundane. I wish you would consider publishing a coffee table book featuring your fabulous photography, quotes that inspire you, mood boards and the transformation of your home. There are lots of home decor books out there but the Miss Mustard Seed style is like no other I’ve seen before. Your blog has been a refuge during this covid lockdown and I sincerely thank you for that.

  24. leila

    Two questions.
    1. When you group your books by color doesn’t it make it harder to find what you might be looking for versus grouping by topic?
    2. Looks like you use those frames from Target without the glass. Does it just appear that way in the photo or are you really not using the glass?

    • Marian Parsons

      Actually, it doesn’t make it harder for me to find the books, because I sort them by shelf/room, too. These books are my decorating and business books, my art and design books are in a different room on a different shelf. Jeff’s theology and history books are in another room, etc. I also think of how the book looks visually when I’m searching for it, so sorting it by color actually helps me out! It won’t work for everyone, though, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest a library or book store coordinate their books by color! I have a manageable amount to look through.

      Yes, these frames do have glass in them. I tried to take the picture from an angle without glare.

  25. Judy

    I cried when I saw your beautiful pictures and words. You inspire me every day! Thank you for sharing your spirit with the world. It is a better place for it.

  26. mary m

    I will be 78/ on7/28. I never learned to be an efficient house cleaner because my mother always had cleaning ladies etc. I qish I could clean as well as I can cook. I find myself pacing my self almost bartering. I do something then I stop and do something fun may it be reading, knitting or whatever. I too have a story board in my sewing room but it is a hot mess. I have another board that has vintage sewing stuff tucked into it. In the end I do get it done but as the old saying goes; a woman’s work is never done. Everything you touch turns to gold!!! M.

  27. Judith

    Marian – everything you do is so lovely and inspiring. Thank you for sharing of yourself so generously! I’m curious about the dark blue windowpane swatch in the lower left-hand corner of your board. If you still have the info, would you mind sharing the details for it? It jumped out at me and would be a great fit in my home. Thanks!

  28. Chan

    Love the office! I’ve been trying to find the link to where you got the fabric on your inspiration board without success. Could you post it pleeeeeeeeeeeease?

    • Marian Parsons

      They are from several different brands. Is there one you’re looking at specifically? I can do a blog post sharing all of them (although some aren’t made any longer.)

      • Chan

        The blues, all the patterned ones I am that show up in the pictures of many blogs. I just drool whenever I see them. Thank you!

  29. Laurel DeFreece

    I love The brass bird pulls on the oak cupboard. Where did you get them?

  30. Ivy League Schools

    I’ve learned that when inspiration strikes, I just need to roll with it and the cleaning can wait.

  31. Robin

    Hi Marian, I love this idea…long ago I got a degree in interior design, then I spend my career instead being a social worker for 26 years…I still had an inspiration board…but I’ve moved a few times since (6!), changed my home styles and my inspirations, took designs and ideas down and sold the boards. I Have located another board/s, however, at this time in the world, where IN the world will we come up with fabric swatches. Fabric stores are sparse due to all the masks being made and most designer stores are closed, by appointment only and their only swatches are the ones you ‘check out’. Furniture stores are closed or have limited stock. I recently bought my hopefully “last” (and almost only purchased) house. Since I am 66 and trying to pull some things in order, it’s a struggle. Keep changing ideas and would love to do a board to move them around instead of take them off totally? …yes a blog post or some links, or anything you can offer will be great. Pinterest is fine, however, it’s not like a board you can walk by, look at, view, moved around, touch, lean back and look again. Hope you have some great ideas.

  32. Laura

    Marian, if you don’t mind my asking, do you sell your unwanted decor items? If you do, where do you sell them? I love your eye for color and I’m always thinking to myself how I’d love to have this piece or that piece when reading your stories.

    • Marian Parsons

      I used to sell them at markets or out of my studio (even out of my home), but I don’t do retail regularly any longer. At some point, maybe next summer, I will collect things that I haven’t used in this home and have a big sale.

  33. Julie Stephens

    Where did you find the quote “Whatever you do for a living is the business of heaven”? I was so inspired to read that! I would love to know where you found it!

  34. Betty J

    This is a first-time reply although I have been reading your blog for several years. It has been so motivational in many different ways … and have been loving those kitties!! You may not feel comfortable publishing the devotional you mention from which the ‘business of heaven’ quote is taken, so perhaps you would forward it via email to me? I would so appreciate the information. As I do not participate in any social media, I also am appreciative that you have continued with the ‘blog’ in such a thoughtful, professional way, even during the time of your shoulder issues! I am from PA so have been very interested in all your archived posts. Full disclosure, I copied your banana bread recipe just so that I have a picture of your Italy pen and the vintage MN Art Guild pad!! Wonderful travelogues too!

  35. Carolyn Dietrich

    Bravo for listening to inspiration. The house cleaning will wait, inspiration won’t. I love your office – this is the first time I’ve seen it – and I love our inspiration board. Thank you for sharing!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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