Feathering A New Nest

In Clinton Downing, Home and Entertaining, Lola Shreveport by Lola Magazine

From the moment of our conception, our mothers have subconsciously planned the interiors of our next dwelling beyond the womb. Our nurseries have a color palette and theme. Each part of the layout is well planned to balance the aura of the space as well as creating visuals for our newly found vision with our little eyes.

The details are so well thought out to the tiniest of details. There must be a harmony and flow that sets a serene tone for the environment surrounding us. Without being about to speak, we take in everything with great focus. Our grunts, gestures, and smiles highlight what is pleasing to our newborn eyes.

As we begin to grow, so does our vision. After speaking our first words, we have a more heightened sense of what pleases us emotionally and physically. As we walk and gain a voice, we form an opinion. We find our favorite color. We find our favorite prints. We also begin to find our favorite atmosphere for nesting.

When I speak of nesting, it is intended to mean a safe habitat beyond the womb that give us great comfort and joy. Who really wants to live in a room that resonates misery? From out dated drapes to that hideous quilt that your grandmother and her quilting bees made for us, some things have got to give.

Just because it became a trend, it does not make it acceptable. One of biggest mistakes in fashion and interior was the overload of chevron. It became so oversaturated that Charlie Brown changed to a plain t-shirt. It is with trends like this that a look can become outdated very quickly.

Through adolescence to our teenage years, our vision is all over the place. In today’s times, social media impacts us all when it comes to having what is hot and trending at the time. Facebook, Snap chat, and Instagram have been infiltrated with links to ads and websites that take the avid social media enthusiasts to another world in the information highway. With the click of a few buttons, an impulse purchase has been made to fulfill an over eager satisfaction for ourselves.

Quite often, we have no say in the décor of our rooms growing up. We cannot wait until we can have our own space and make our own decisions. We want the freedom to make the place that we now roost in our own.

With that said, our visions and desires often outweigh our budget. I remember this well when leaving home. I wanted a nice space but could not afford the frills I was accustomed to at home. When you grow up with three generations in the creative arts of interior design, floral design, fashion merchandising and antique collecting, there is a fine line to trying to separate your wants and needs.

When you leave the nest, many of you are headed to college while some are set on a different course pursuing a skill or artistic endeavor. Regardless of the path that God has planned, you will feel like you are starting over from scratch. You are leaving the nest and creating your own nest into adulthood. The wants and needs you once wanted no longer seems relevant. It becomes a game of survival. When I speak of survival, I am meaning that you want a simplistic space that will accomplish several goals. You want a place of comfort. You want a place to study. You want a place to rest and relax. Basically, you want your own domain where you can shut yourself off from the rest of the world.

I remember leaving the nest a month before I graduated high school. My maternal grandmother was dying from cancer. I moved into her home to be with her. She had always taught me a love of the finer things. She worked in the interior design and antiques business. I must accredit that genealogical gift to her. She taught be how to be frugal yet make something look magical. Mary Frances was the southern Martha Stewart before Martha was famous. Everything she touched became magical.

After her passing, her home became my dwelling during college and before my escape to New Orleans and New York City to pursue my design dreams. It was a lovely place to nest. It was a life out of a dormitory or cramped apartment.

As I have progressed in design since twenty eight years ago from graduating high school, I have found that the dorm and apartment lifestyle has change immensely as well. Teens have become so accustomed to the pampering of designer created bedrooms that they expect more for their post high school dwellings. From custom head boards to monogrammed sheets, the state of early adulthood nesting has definitively progressed. This is something quite common for both females and males.

Young ladies want a magical look that transcends their childhood, while keeping a bit of color tones that are familiar. Young men on the other hand want a space that makes them feel independent and impressive to the ladies while salvaging their masculinity.

This is not always easily attainable for everyone. There are so many outlets for making this happen without breaking the bank. I have my list of favorites for sure. There are at least several dozen tips, stores or websites for making this magic happen.

I would like to share some of these affordable resources. Most are a hit and miss situation that can eventually evolve a space. My favorite stores to pull together a look for less are: Ross Dress for Less, TJ MAXX, Target, Marshall’s, World Market, Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, Pier 1, Tuesday Morning and Dirt Cheap.

Going for a more industrial look? Then you might want to visit your local hardware store. Pipe fittings with caps make for great rods for wall shelves while canvas painters drop cloths can create a wonderful curtain wall. They come in various sizes and are easily dyable if you do not wish to keep them natural. If your local hardware store doesn’t have them, you can find them at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Add your favorite Ritz dye and you have a great look without spending a lot on fabrics.

For extra special accessories, I like to shop the local shops. In the Shreveport area, I shop Briggs and Company, Miss McGregor’s Garden, and Lewis Gifts. In Ruston, I patron Chartreuse Pear, 109 Trenton Gift Shop, and Townsend House Gifts. In Monroe, I adore shopping at Parterre, The Muffin Tin, Walsworth and Company, Material Things, The Trenton House, Fabulous Fabrics, Woodstock Furniture Revival, Roux, Louisiana Purchases and Haven.

Each of these locally owned retails always have a special something that will accent a room. Sometimes you have to splurge on that one thing that will bring you some extra joy.

As generations continue to evolve so does the style and tastes. Even in living a more technologically advanced life, we all still swoon for the simpler things in life that bring us comfort, relaxation and joy. Just as we all leave the nest we strive to create our own new nest to rest as we continue our lives.


Clinton Whitney Downing is a man of many talents. He resides in his hometown of Monroe. He is a writer, floral designer, interior decorator, historical preservationist and fashion designer. After much travel, he has returned to his southern roots and his love of Louisiana. He is devoted to his community, lending his talents to various charity organizations. Much of his enjoyment in his life comes from spending time with his two rescue puppies, Cookie and Cooper. He is excited to be joining the LOLA team.