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julie nolta design
Julie Nolta

Hi, I'm Julie, Chief Executive Empress

of my little apple green design studio.

Welcome to my blog!

When I'm not out visiting a client or searching for just the right  product for a project, I can probably be found in my happy little studio (painted the perfect shade of green), busy drawing up new ideas for a cool kitchen or a "spa-licious" bathroom. I like to share the fun stuff I find along the way!


apple green studio

Design lessons from a monastery


Last weekend I went on a silent retreat at a monastery in Mt. Angel, Oregon. The purpose was to spend 24 hours alone with God listening and talking with Him about whatever we needed or wanted to. We turned off our cell phones and were asked to leave our distractions at the door, including work and responsibilities and the outside world. And no talking to anyone. AT ALL.

However, being a designer, it’s really hard for me to completely turn off that part of my brain and NOT notice my surroundings. And I figured some of that was okay because God made me to appreciate beauty, right?!

So I made a few mental design notes in between times and thought I’d share a couple things I was reminded of while I was there.

Less is more

The room I stayed in at the retreat center was what you would have expected: very simple and spare. A desk, a bed, a closet and a nightstand. A place to put everything away so that you didn’t have to look at and be distracted by clutter.

There was very little that wasn’t necessary. No busy little decor tchotchkes (or “ick-knacks” as my brother calls them), no walls full of artwork and photos, no piles of paperwork or laundry to worry about. No dishes to be done. Nothing on the walls but a simple little crucifix, plus 10’ windows to look out onto beautiful trees and the blue sky. It was refreshing, to say the least.

The point for me was less stuff = more peace. Without all the “visual noise”, the more I could focus on what I needed to and the more quiet I felt in my head and my soul.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to allow clutter to accumulate. The weekend away in a simple little room made me want to go home and throw out half my stuff.

A little visual example

I didn’t take photos of that room, but here are a couple that illustrate what I’m talking about.

Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with this room, but a bunch of stuff on the walls might feel busy and distracting and overwhelming if you’re trying to focus on a task. Or if you're looking for someplace peaceful to hang out.

cluttered room

A room free of a lot of stuff can feel quiet and peaceful, and well…freeing!

minimal room

You might like lots of inspiration and memories and color around you - - I know that color energizes me - - but if you’re feeling a lack of peace in your surroundings, you might try putting away some of the items in your room and simplifying your décor.

Or at the very least, go away to a monastery for a weekend!

Need to simplify or do some peaceful re-decorating? Let's chat - - I can help you create a calm retreat for yourself at home. :-)


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