Emily Gilbert (Pleasant Street)


Emily Gilbert 

Pleasant Street is a lifestyle journal run by Des Moines native, Emily Gilbert. She uses the site to document downtown life with her husband, Zach. But is life really as pleasant as it looks? I decided to find out. All photography is courtesy of the spectacular Anna Hudson.

It seems like you’re living the dream – downtown apartment, good friends, lots of road trips, vacations in a variety of tropical climates – is life really as pleasant as it looks?

    Well, I won’t disagree with you on those bullet points - I have been given some really amazing gifts and opportunities. Is life as easy and simple as good friends, roadtrips, and a cozy apartment? Haha, of course not. I mess up at work, I am rude to my husband, I am selfish with my time and money quite often. Alongside current hobbies, daydreams, and summer weekends comes life decisions, seasons of growth, times of sadness and pure joy. 

On the other hand, the season of life I am in has a lot of freedom to do what I want to do. So, you’re going to see a lot of outdoor weekends, vacations, and drinks with my friends. These things are really life-giving in a way. And they are things that I love to document and share.

Your site is one of my favorites because it feels fresh and authentic. Why did you start your site and do you feel pressure to "keep up appearances?"

    That’s really kind of you! Back in college, I used various social media platforms to piece together whatever I was inspired by or traveling to or creating at the time. I looked forward to reading lifestyle blogs every day, and started a tumblr photo blog when I studied abroad in Italy. That was more for my friends and family to look through. My then boyfriend (now husband, Zach) told me over and over that I should start a blog after college. The more I thought about it, I figured it would be nice to have an organized space to enclose all of my various projects or travels.

I know that’s a common theme these days for bloggers (to talk about the stress of having to get ahead and be on top of trends), but I don’t really feel that stress. I suppose that’s because I am not trying to achieve any sort of status through Pleasant St. It’s more just fun for me to be creative and pin a new idea up on my “bulletin board”. The idea that people come and scroll through my posts is still wild to me! Actually, the best sense of accomplishment comes when my 89 year old grandmother emails me after reading a post. So that as your standard keeps things pretty chill.

What’s your ideal Midwest weekend?

    I equally love being in Des Moines as I do leaving the city in our car and heading out to the quiet. We have been learning how to fly fish for the past few summers. So we try and spend a decent amount of time camping and out on a stream-and it’s incredible and rejuvenating. But, we have found the best weekends are the ones that start out with no plans. That weekend usually includes sleeping in, making a slow breakfast, drinking coffee in the sun-room, going on a trail run, and meeting up for dinner/drinks with our friends on a patio. We walk to church on Sundays and then mosey on to a slow brunch. The rest of the weekend is given over to groceries, cooking, and laundry.

What have you been reading lately? 

    I just finished East of Eden by John Steinbeck! FINALLY. It was a beautiful story. I usually make my way through a couple of novels each year. My favorite kind of book or movie is a story about people’s lives. Doesn’t need a huge climax or tragedy, just the ups and downs of life are fascinating to enter into. I also try to read a couple of books that grow my spiritual knowledge. I am currently working through The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges – it’s an uncoiling of the significance of the grace that God has shown us.

Your apartment looks so cozy! What's your philosophy on home and design? 

   Thank you! For the first time in my life, I am extremely selective on what comes into my living space. We use the apartment for different purposes , so we have tried to set it up in a way that can be easily moved around and enjoyed. We picked out furniture with the bones of the space in mind-we didn’t want anything big or overstuffed or loudly colored. We also try to highlight the things that enhance living in the space - making sure we are utilizing the natural light in every room, printing photos of our memories, and bringing in the outside via windowsill plants.

Zach has never been into “décor” and I have slowly joined his mindset and work to buy aesthetically pleasing pieces that function as storage or utility instead. As far as what those look like - I am always drawn to natural colors and natural materials like leather, wood, linen, glass, straw, and horn vs plastic or synthetic pieces. I appreciate this apartment for making me think more critically about these principles.