Thursday, July 5, 2018

A year in Review of Small house living

We are nearing one year in this house......and I thought I would do a recap for you of the things we have loved about living in a smaller house (all 1300sq. ft. of it!) and the challenges we've faced. So many times on the web, it can feel like things are very black and white, amazing or awful, perfect or bad. Really though, most of life is in the in-between. 
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(Where we love to entertain most days:)
First of all, I should start out saying- we LOVE our house. I still get the feeling of "I get to live here?!" whenever I drive home, and it's also the first home that I've told Connor "I don't want to ever leave". When we bought our first house in Indiana, it was purely mechanical- I did not love it (though I loved things about it), but it made a lot of sense, and Connor and I had peace that it was the right thing to do. After that, I never expected to have a different house buying experience (especially considering the prices in Boston and our smaller budget). So, I was completely taken aback by the blessing that is our current home. Does that mean it's perfect? No, but I am completely in love with it- imperfections and all.

So, let's start with the good. Because we have a small home, the outdoors has basically become a part of our living space. Weather providing, we are outside a ton. Thankfully, our yard has a ton of old trees which provide a lot of shade, so it's even comfortable outside on hot days. I love that our kids get to spend so much time outside in nature like I did as a kid. We also entertain outdoors a lot. It's a work in progress (lots of future plans), but my goal is to make our outdoor space as comfortable and fun as possible (for adults and kids) so that everyone wants to hang out there.

Other things I love about having a small home:
  1. It's easy to clean and keep up......I can almost vacuum each floor without having to move the plug to another electrical outlet.
  2. I'm less prone to make impulse purchases or shop out of boredom (because there's no space for things that we don't need)
  3. I'm surrounded by my favorite things (because there's not room for "filler" items), and having a small home has helped me distinguish what I love from what is simply popular/trendy.
  4. There is no wasted space. Everything must be practical and optimally serve more than one purpose- the practical and minimal side of me loves this.  
  5. Imaginative play for my kids has taken off. Because there's even less room for big entertaining toys in this house than our last one, I have watched my girls spend hours pretending and creating....and I love this!  
  6. House projects are less overwhelming. Sure I still get overwhelmed by the long list of things I want to do, but it's less overwhelming since I'm not working with a huge amount of square footage that I need to fill up with furniture and then transform. 
  7. Togetherness. I love my little family, and that we are all together all the time.
                        
(Our "adorable" master closet:)
The challenges with having a small home:
  1.  Entertaining. This has been the number one challenge for me if I'm honest. I can get over the other hurdles fairly easily, but I've had to work harder to get through this one. Day to day, I love living in our smaller home, but when I want to invite friends over I can struggle. I'm the type of person that wants everyone to be having fun and for everyone to be comfortable, so I had to make a decision to not apologize about the size of our home when we entertain friends indoors. I also had to make the decision to not let the size of our home keep us from entertaining. 
  2. Just as a small house is easy to clean- it gets messy super fast. I vacuum almost daily, and have had to learn to let things go on days where the kids are having fun in the living room and therefore the entire house feels like a disaster.
  3. Closet space. In our last home near downtown Boston, we learned real quick to be fine with switching out our summer/winter clothes, and with Connor taking over the coat closet for his clothes. We have done this again, and store our coats in a makeshift closet in the unfinished basement. We also have plans for adding more shelving in our powder room and living room (more on those later), to help with storage.
  4. Togetherness. The flip side of this seemingly good coin is that there isn't really a quiet space to retreat to. If Connor or I are taking work calls at home, it can make things difficult........and I'm definitely planning on a sound machine for when the baby comes. 
To summarize, the love we have for our little home far outweighs any challenges we've had to figure out. It has really helped that little old houses are very much a part of the norm here in New England. Everyone seems to have a "no big deal, just make it work" mentality,  and I've really enjoyed being surrounded by that positive way of thinking.




Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Favorites

I honestly can't remember the last time I did a "Friday Favorites" post, but I'm bringing it back. Not listed below, is the smell of the lilac bushes on my walks to school with the girls, freshly cut grass, and the overall essence of Spring. There's nothing like the change of seasons to bring about new rounds of inspiration, and this spring is no exception. 
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1. I love how this wall is used as a headboard:
2. I'm really into the combination of patterned penny tile in a modern bathroom these days :
3. This. The Scandinavian feel with the windowed wall is just perfection.

Other things I'm loving around the web:

This Scandinavian design book is so promising and has been on my wish list for a while now
Favorite new summer recipe
Connor bought me these in olive green and I'm obsessed (I use these for my non-running workouts).
Now I'm all set for farmer's market season
Favorite book of the year so far (and it's fiction!). My book club is starting this one.
My favorite way to catch up on the news since I'm always on the go.
Current favorite daytime serum- so moisturizing and so affordable!



Tuesday, May 8, 2018

When Your Home does not reflect you

We've all been there- whether you're a young twenty-something just starting out, or you have been at this decorating thing for years and you feel discouraged because you still aren't in love with the home you've created. So, what do you do? Where do you start? It can be completely overwhelming, especially when you add budgets to the mix.

Most of us hate the idea of bare rooms, and are of the "something is better than nothing" mentality. So, we attempt to fill our houses as quickly as our budget allows. And let's not be too hard on ourselves- we want our homes to be "cozy" after all, and we can't afford the designer furniture after all. But what happens next? We may look around a few years later and realize that we don't actually like any of the"filler items/furniture" that we purchased, and we are back to square one.


This quote by Annie Smith of Euro Trash resonated well with me:  "'I think it is important to remove anything you don't like from a home and start with a clean slate. Don't 'do one room' then move on to the next. I would rather live sparsely in a home and have the whole thing come together slowly than have the jarring feeling of a new style against the old.' " ( La la Lovely, by Trina McNeill)



We are creatures of comfort- and things comfort us, whether we love those items or not. Paring down our furniture and house to only the pieces we love has the real danger of making our homes feel sparse and in turn the danger of making us feel as though we are "lacking". It might even make us self conscious when we invite friends over. Patience and contentment, are your friends here- some things take time.  

My view? I think clutter and being surrounded by "filler items" kills the imagination. It's difficult to dream of a room's potential when you're surrounded by things you don't even like. So what am I suggesting?  First off- don't buy the "filler items". Odds are, you already have made those impulse purchases- so sell or get rid of all those items that you don't care for until you can buy what you love (keeping the day to day essentials such as your bed, couch, table and chairs etc. ). Lastly, take your time! Go to flea markets, try your hand at DIY projects, and check craigslist regularly.  When you see a piece you love at a great price- jump on it.....even if it means buying a piece lower on the priority list first (like a cool vintage mirror before a dining table). The end result will be a home that represents you- and that is the best feeling that too many of us miss out on because we are in such a hurry to fill our homes. All good things take time.





Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Spring Cleaning- Free Label Printables

Hey there! Pardon the radio silence over here, we've just been hit with sickness from every direction. I've been focusing any remaining energy I have on client projects, hosting company, and trying to get my house back in order. This past week, I suddenly got the urge to clean everything.......walls included. There's still more things to check off on that spring cleaning list, because midway through, I decided to create my own cleaning labels (because what's more motivating than cleaning with pretty bottles and labels?).  In case you are lacking in the motivation department, I thought I would share these free printable with you. My multi-purpose cleaner is still a combination of vinegar and water (50/50), but this time I added some lavender essential oil for the smell. It took me forever to join the essential oil club because I was skeptical that it could mask the strong vinegar smell, but it only took 5 drops to completely mask the smell.....I was super impressed. Now I want to try other combinations. I bought these amber bottles - one for the kitchen, and one for a shower spray.  I already use these bottles in my kitchen for dish and hand soap.


Before printing, I scaled the label to 27% which was the perfect size for this 2 in. label.  I first printed the label on paper so I could see where to tape the label onto the paper, then I ran it through the printer again.  Here is the dish soap, hand soap, and multi-purpose cleaner labels.


Ps. Here's an old list of natural cleaning tricks I use. Happy cleaning!


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The girls' shared room and a stencil collaboration

When we put an offer on our house, one of the rooms I had an immediate vision for was the girls' room ( I love designing kids rooms!). I wanted to infuse pinks and greens, and a pretty neutral wallpaper. I knew I wanted to paint the ceiling green to highlight the unique shape of the room with the dormers, and I did this immediately after closing on the house and before we moved in. 
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After we moved in, the rest of the room fell into place, except for the wallpaper element of the design. My girls both have a "picking" habit and have been known to pick paint off of doors/furniture/basboards (not to mention grandma's wallpapered bathroom), and while it has improved substantially, it's still a weakness for both of them. I couldn't help feel like I was setting them (and myself) up for failure by putting wallpaper in their room, yet I could not find a stencil that fit my vision. That's when Stencilit came in and saved the day. I had used one of their stencils in Charlie's nursery in Indianapolis a few years ago, and remembered Merili mentioning that they would love to do a collaboration with me in the future.  I reached out to them with pictures of what I was looking for, and a month later this gorgeous stencil showed up at my door that was exactly what I was hoping it would be, and more. 
For starters, stenciling a wall is really a two person job, I tried doing it all on my own in the beginning, but in the end really needed Connor for parts. I taped the stencil in the corner with the largest amount of wall and started there.
 After each successful stencil application, I wiped off any excess paint on the side going back on the wall. Then I matched the corners to make sure the stencil was straight and in the correct spot before starting again.
 In the beginning, I draped the stencil over the baseboards (seen below) and went as close to the baseboard as possible, but later on I ended up cutting the stencil. Before cutting the stencil, I had to make sure the largest parts of the wall were completed, and then finish the wall in that order to make sure I didn't cut the stencil down too small too soon.
 Here you can see I cut the stencil into two long strips to get the corners.
I did have some touch-ups to do, which was easy enough. There were a couple spots that didn't line up perfectly, but this was not a problem due to this type of stencil with all of its small elements that make up the pattern. 
I used a small roller, and used Behr "white veil" as a back drop (I wanted a creamy white to make it look more like a wallpaper), and then I used a dark gray for the actual stencil.

 I love that it is both whimsical and feminine, and yet not too young that they can't grow up with it. It seriously blew my mind how well Merili and her team were able to match my vision! Not to mention the cost benefit, I think we all love the idea of painting over a stenciled wall instead of scraping wallpaper off. 




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Thursday, March 8, 2018

(A Little) More Color

Admittedly, I'm always reaching for a neutral palette throughout my house. For me, it's always been about the calming effect that comes with it. But lately, I've been finding myself drawn more and more to rooms with color.....mostly on the moody blue spectrum- which may or may not have something to do with it being cold outside and wanting to stay cozy indoors.
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Bianca Sotelo's home is so beautifully eclectic. I love the black fireplace against the blue walls.

This could be black, but I'm seeing hints if a deep blue here, which I'm really digging. (Not to mention that marble and those windows!!)
 The beautiful white molding and lighting with this moody grey/blue wall is so stunning. 





Thursday, January 18, 2018

DIY- Painted Tile Floor

Back in November, I posted a picture of our new and improved mudroom floor slyly saying somethings along the lines of "sneak peak, coming soon!",  and then I never actually shared anything more than that. The real reason for the delay, was that the actual  labor of this project so depleted me, that when it was finished I barely had enough energy to pull off any preparation for the holidays, much less a tutorial. Now a couple months out, I would say that while it was a TON of work, I think it would be a lot less if I did it a second time (now that I've learned some painful lessons). I'm so happy with the results and am already considering doing it again for one of our bathrooms.
First off, why would anyone paint tile? Aside from the fact that the tile was pretty ugly, replacing it was not high on our priorities (kitchen and bathrooms before mudroom, yes?).  So the main draw here was budget. This cost me well under $100, and I don't have to hate our mudroom while I wait for our budget to allow for me to buy the tile of my dreams. Who knows, I'm so happy with it right now I might never replace it. Here is what our tile used to look like (I apologize in advance for some of the bad pictures, but I painted any time my kids were sleeping):
As you can see it has that "always dirty" look that everyone loved a while back because it hides the dirt. The tiles are also not lined up very well and there were a few cracked tiles. We still have those issues, but they are more camouflaged now. The first thing we did was caulk the gaps between the tile and the wall because they were significant. Then I cleaned the floor meticulously (and I hate to say I forgot to sand it, but I would do this next time). Then I painted the whole floor white with a garage floor paint. This is where I hit my first set of problems. 
The first problem was that the paint was not going on very well. No matter how many coats I did it was blotchy (this could be because I forgot to sand OR because of the paint, we will never know). This was solved by using a white chalk paint.  The second problem was that the vision I had with the stencil was the inverse of what I had painted the floor. I should have painted the floor grey, and gone over with a white stencil. Because I was so committed to my vision, I started over (to be sure, after a good venting session with Connor) and painted the entire floor with a grey chalk paint. I found this tutorial extremely helpful and painted the grout lines with a brush and the tiles with a roller. The good news about chalk paint is that it dries very fast. The bad news is that once you start using it, you don't want anyone walking on the floor until you are finished putting the sealant on it, because it scuffs very easily. 
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Then I used my custom stencil (Cutting Edge Stencils has the best customer service, they made the stencil for me to fit my exact tile size... an odd 11 5/8 inches I believe it was, and they even made the pattern a smaller scale for me), and I started doing the middle tiles in no apparent order, just so I wouldn't mess it up the wet paint with my knees and feet. 
Once I was left with just the border tiles, I started stenciling those tiles (starting with the largest), and cutting my stencil down as needed. 
After that, I went in and painted the grout lines white, to make it look neater and brighter. Then came the exhausting part of the project where I got on my hands and knees with a tiny paint brush, and I fixed any blemishes/mistakes from when I was stenciling. Because my pattern was a smaller scale, there were a lot more of these, so I spent a lot of time on this part.
In the final step, I painted on four coats of a garage sealant with a roller. I could not be happier with the results, the mud room went from being a space that was only functional (and a bit embarrassing as an entryway) to one of our favorite rooms.