Alyson Morgan's Instagram and website, Alyson Simply Grows, came from her desire to share her passion for the earth. She wanted to create a place to intimately and authentically communicate ways to live aligned with our shared earth. This is done through her photography, writing, gardening, and recipes. She also explores the layers of home: our bodies, the earth, and the spaces we live in and tend to, and finds ways to live more interconnectedly.
Alyson and her family recently designed and built (with the help of a team) their whole house. In 2020, they were outgrowing their small cottage in town and started to look for an old farmhouse in the driftless region of Wisconsin. They eventually fell in love with a piece of land, found a local builder, and drew up plans for a new house, trying to mix modern and old. From her travels and love of old farmhouses, cottages, and European country homes, Alyson knew she wanted to infuse their home with natural materials and timeless simplicity.
Alyson chose specific pieces of hardware throughout her home for several reasons. She wanted her home hardware to have a similar finish and mixed styles from exterior to interior space for visual interest and a feeling of being pieced together over time rather than brand new. For the interior doors, they chose the New York Plate with Waldorf Crystal Knob in unlacquered brass so they will age over time, something you often see in old farmhouses and European cities.
When asked how she liked their hardware, Alyson said, "You can feel the quality; it becomes well-worn with use and age and has a lived-in feeling for a new build, especially. The hardware is sturdy and durable and will last for years. And it just adds that bit of sparkle, personality, and timeless quality." Their front door has a lovely brass New York F grip with a Long Plate, adding a visual pop to the Amish white oak and glass door.
During her debate on which hardware to choose, Alyson thought a lot about how the doors would be used. For example, if you come through a door with an arm full of groceries, you may want a lever instead of a knob. If you are bothered by smudges, consider that for the finish; a matte finish may work better for you. Mixing and matching for different rooms and spaces adds layers to the design.
Regarding her own style, Alyson loves organic and natural textures, soothing colors, and mid-century and traditional styles. Her decisions are guided by what she loves rather than a particular fashion, using color palettes and diverse textures for a layered effect. She is inspired by nature and European design for its timeless qualities and layered history. She said, "The use of natural stone in Italian city streets, wrought iron on balconies, limestone flooring, and pattern-on pattern in English design are great reminders that layers of home, design, and textures can be added over time."
Alyson starts most projects with a mood board of collected images, a Pinterest board, and a tray of materials. Small vignette images and antique furniture pieces with stories often inspire her rooms. For example, she planned their downstairs guest bathroom around a thrifted antique East Lake wash basin, which defined everything else in that space.
Alyson's tips for people who wish to take on remodeling projects include planning ahead, taking your time, finding qualified contractors you trust, and giving yourself a period to explore, dream, and find inspiration for the projects you want. She told us, "I loved going to the local library and getting old design, architectural, interior design, and garden books to flip through and soak up ideas." Talk to local craftspeople and explore what options are available in your area. So many people and resources are out there to help you build a solid foundation for your project.
Lastly, Alyson wanted to share, "Our homes are spaces where we spend so much time. Ethically sourced and sustainable materials are crucial to our and the planet's health. Choosing quality products like Nostalgic Warehouse means we use fewer materials if they last longer and can stand the test of time. Shifting away from a 'disposability' culture is key to living sustainably. Find vintage pieces, secondhand or certified sourced furniture, and think more deeply about what we need."
Thank you, Alyson, for sharing your story!