Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On simplifying

I know what you're thinking- she blogs! Yes, I took a break- a longer one than intended, but a necessary one. Our fall was incredibly busy with trips to Virginia, Germany & Austria (more on that soon), Maine, and Colorado.....and in the middle of all that we hosted six rounds of company (we love hosting!) and two rounds of sickness (the company being way more fun than the other).  I like to think I've come to terms with my inability to juggle everything really well, so at any point I feel myself starting to slip, I reassess and drop things and say "no" as needed. My family, friends, and health/fitness were "yes" and this blog had to be a "no" this fall. I'm grateful that I can always pick up where I left off though, like an old friend. 
There's something about coming out of a busy season of life that makes you want to simplify everything. Coming from Indiana, we had more furniture than will probably ever fit in a Boston house (in our price range), so we have been looking at each piece that we own with a critical eye. It all appeals to the minimal part of me that wants to own less, but really love what we own. Enter our new coffee table. We sold our old coffee table and console table that we bought when we were first married and used that money to buy this one- no money lost, just less "things". In some ways, I was sentimental about them- after all they went with us from Virginia to Oklahoma to Seattle to Oklahoma to New York to Indiana to Boston. But the truth is that it had been a long time since I had loved them. This new coffee table is better suited for the smaller Boston rooms, it's bright and modern in contrast to the period home we are living in (and will probably live in the future), and I love it. In the coming year what areas of your life are you trying to simplify? Whatever it is, I hope it leaves more room for the people/things you love. Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

12 Tips to help you be a good host over the holidays

Because we have moved around so much (thanks mainly to Connor's years in the army), we have really close friends scattered all over the country. I count myself blessed that some of them regularly visit us each year- in fact it's those treasured visits and phone calls that have helped us transition with each of our (nine) out of state moves. As such, it's extremely important to me that they know how grateful I am that they spend money and vacation time on us. Hospitality is something I love and am always striving to improve on, and with the holidays approaching, I've compiled some ideas for making your guests feel welcome and at home.

1. If nothing else happens besides a clean house and grocery shopping, I always try to make sure that I at least have clean towels set on their bed. Guests may feel awkward going through your linen closet, and it's nice if they don't have to ask.

2. I love the idea of a carafe filled with fresh water to greet guests (such as the vintage one above that I used in my in-laws bedroom). I have yet to implement this, but I normally try to set aside a bottle of water next to their towels.

3. My mother-in-law bought bathrobes for visitors that she keeps hanging in the guest closet. This touch makes guests feel like they are not just visiting friends, but on a mini get away.

4. I'm the first to use our guest room closets for storage and we even had a nursery/guest room in Indy (seen below) for those of you who cannot spare a bedroom for guests, but I try to make the room as decluttered and minimal as possible. It's hard to relax if there is nowhere to put your suitcase!

5. It's nice to have something home baked goodies in the can be bread, granola, or paleo cookies if you want a healthier option.

6. I always try to consider diet restrictions of guests ahead of time- what do they typically eat at home? As someone who really appreciates when hosts serve a healthy option for dinner, I want to make that available to them. I also realize not everyone stays away from carbs. So, when I host dinner guests, I will often have a tortilla/bread option and a healthier option. I want everyone to enjoy themselves.

7. Fresh flowers in the house are always welcoming.

8. Another thing I try to put next to the towels and water bottles, is a small snack like a Kind bar, and a small gift like a bar of soap. Ive been known to raid Anthropologies clearance closet for soaps for guests.

9. I always keep an extra hair dryer in the guest room and shampoo/conditioner in the guest bathroom, just in case they were short on space in their suitcase.

10. A decent pillow goes a long way- throw out the ones you've had for twenty years, and get a cheap one at Costco or Ikea for $15. I guarantee you it's better.

11. Make sure there is a fan and blanket accessible.

12. The most important thing is to not be stressed. All of these ideas are nice, but if the host is so stressed about everything being perfect, guests will not feel at ease. People over perfection.

What are some of your favorite ways to make a guest feel at home?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Black & White- ten years and going strong

Ten years ago, Connor and I were newlyweds in a small one bedroom apartment. Because I was still figuring out my style, I decided to decorate with black and white- black furniture and white couches. I eventually added red to the mix in the way of red throw pillows, a red tea kettle, a couple red candles, and a red outdoor rug that we used under the newly black painted dining set(my first DIY).  When I think of that first apartment, I can't help but smile. It was a simple apartment, but our hearts were exploding with pride and happiness to have a home together. Though my design taste has changed (and grown), I don't look back on those early decorating years with dismay. Yes, the matching red candles/tea kettle/throw pillows ensemble is long gone.....but I think design is more about how well designed a room is, I think it's also about how it makes you feel. Ten years later and I still love the calmness of black and white interiors. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Transitioning your Outdoor Space from Summer to Fall

While I love all the sentiments of summer- no school, vacations, beach trips, sandals, laid back vibes etc.., I do not love the hot temperatures. My heart skips a beat when I see cooler weather in the forecast, so when fall hits, I really just want to spend my time outdoors as much as possible. As such, I've been scheming up ways to transition our balcony to be fall-ready. So far, I'm planning on trading my herbs for fall plants, and bringing out blankets and throw pillows....these images have me so excited. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Modern Bohemian

The modern bohemian design trend has been here a while and has no plans on going anywhere. I think it's because it appeals to so many different types of people. How do you blend two seemingly opposite styles?  For the purpose of today's post, I'm going to pretend that we are talking about two roommates or two spouses trying to cohesively blend this modern and bohemian styles. Here are my five tips to achieve this look:
1. Modern furniture with a few bohemian accent pieces. For example- bring in a modern table and pair it with a more bohemian light fixture or an eclectic accent chair. In my experience, the hippie lover just wants to be represented. They generally don't need every piece to reflect their bohemian style. The person who loves minimal design with it's clean lines will probably be a little more particular about larger pieces of furniture. 
2. Along those lines, the minimal mid century lover will tend towards less pillows with less pattern, but I have found that they are willing to give on this if they get furniture with clean lines. For example- a modern couch or bed paired with eclectic pillows = everyone's happy.
2. Leather, rustic wood, rope, or Rattan, rattan, rattan. All of these materials give off a bohemian vibe, but depending on the piece, can also bring a modern element.
4. Plants - almost no one objects to bringing in plants. They are just an all around win.
5. Color! Not always, but a lot of times mid century lovers shy away from color....they love their walnut brown. By bringing in colored accents or walls, it can make the hippy lover happy while keeping the main pieces of furniture modern/mid century. Emily Henderson is a genius at this.

1/2/3 (do not have the source for this one, would love to give credit if anyone knows)/4/5

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Girl's Room Before and After

We have moved more furniture around in the girl's room than we have ever moved furniture around in our life. Part of the problem is that the room is small, and both the radiator and windows take up some of the wall space. The other part of the problem is that we were originally trying to fit Reese's twin bed and Charlie's crib in the room ( we knew fitting a dresser in the room was out of the question). These are obviously essentials, but tricky in a small space.  I googled "shared toddler/baby rooms" a lot and could only find a few photos. We tried all sort of configurations (parallel, name it) and nothing seemed to work. I didn't want the crib by the window because of the blinds/curtains, and with the twin by the window Reese seemed to stay up all hours of the night just looking out the window. We finally resorted to putting the crib in the middle of the room at night and moving it back against the wall in the day. Not ideal. In all honesty I sort of gave up on the room.....UNTIL I found this Oeuf loft bed on craigslist for a deal. It single-handedly transformed the space.
Below is the horrific before shot. Here you can really see how small the room is....and how much paint Reese had chipped off her bed (for the 6th time or so!). Connor also gets a rare appearance on the blog.

 Our home has about five of these book case/radiator covers, and I am kind of in love with them.
I've recently started framing a few pieces Reese's abstract art, because I want her to see that she can create something beautiful and I want her to see the value in creating. She is SO proud of them, and is quick to show them off to visitors. The deer print is a favorite by Eleni Paper Co.
 The curtains. The designer in me is annoyed that they are at the wrong length (higher please!), but the renter in me is trying not to poke holes in these walls unnecessarily, and the windows already had the hardware built in when we moved into the house. I'm trying to respect that- we will see how long that lasts.
I visited my friend Brittany and she had her books arranged in a crate for her daughter and I loved the simple idea since we don't have any wall space for shelves.
That guard rail came with the craigslist purchase, I think technically it's for the twin bed underneath the loft, but I think we are going to use it up top for a LONG time. 

Can you tell I had helping hands in the photo shoot? I spy a purple water bottle that made its way into the shot.
That's it! The room I hated the most has been transformed into a space where we love to spend time. What a difference a month makes!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Color Crush: Hunter Green

One of my cousins got married when I was ten years old and what I remember most from that 90s wedding was the beautiful hunter green bridesmaid dresses (with puffed sleeves of course). Years later, my love for puffed sleeves has subsided but I'm finding myself once again drawn to that rich color. Today's take on hunter green has a modern twist- it's painted furniture paired with gold or leather pulls. It's cabinets in modern kitchens. It seems as though hunter green may slowly be taking center stage and giving blue a rest. What do you think?


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

All things round

In keeping with last week's post, I thought I would share some of my favorite "round" pieces from around the web. Some of these you may have spied in my house or past design work….

3. Betania side table
5. Umbra Hub coffee table
7. Mongolian Lamb stool
12. Marble Top side table

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Playing with Shapes

I think most of us realize that the best designed rooms are often the most interesting rooms. Whether it's varying color, texture, wood tones, or time periods….we are constantly trying to change it up so that a room doesn't feel flat. One of the biggest ways (that often gets overlooked) to do this is to make sure you have different shapes in a room. A while back I started collecting a lot of mid-century pieces (which I still love to this day), but I noticed that aside from there being too much walnut brown in my rooms, things started looking very square. Let me be clear- you can still stick to the same time period (hello tulip table), but I have found that the most interesting rooms do contain a variety of shape. I'm not just talking about adding in a couple round tables (though heaven knows I love them and they do the job). Here are some examples of ways to add interest to a room that perhaps you have overlooked:
At first glance you see the round table, but the curvature in the chairs adds a lot of interest, not to mention the round jute rug.
I'm in love with this round copper sink:
The round edges of the crib paired next to the clean paint line in this nursery is perfection. 
Here you have lighting, plant stands, and a mirror in a long rectangular space
Even the drape of the string lights in this room help to break up the hard lines:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Keeping it Minimal in the Home: Natural Cleaning

Today I'm taking a small detour from the usual design posts to talk to you about how I take care of our home. Over the years, I've started integrating more of a natural approach when it comes to cleaning. It started when a friend mentioned making her own laundry detergent- my curiosity was peaked. It appealed to both the minimal and practical sides of me. I loved the idea of buying less products, possibly using things I have lying around the house, and not having to worry about chemicals around my children. I also loved the idea of spending less money on said products. I'm still evolving and learning what does/doesn't work for us, but I thought I would share what things I have found to be easy and effective when it comes to cleaning, in case some of you are interested:

Laundry Soap - 76 oz. Borax, 4lb. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 55oz. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, 3 bars of Fels-Naptha Soap (grated in food processor), 3.5lbs Oxyclean. Mix all together and use 1-2TBSP per load. 
You will notice the smell is very mild- you can add detergent crystals if you want. The recipe can be also found here . This one is SO much easier than it sounds. It lasts me about 7 months and costs only $20. For those curious- I use this on my HE washing machine and it works great.

Furniture Polish- 1 part lemon juice, 1 part vegetable oil. 
This not only polishes my furniture but hides the little scratches that are inevitable after so many years and moves.

Watermarks on furniture- non gel toothpaste. 
I panicked one day when a vase left a large watermark on our credenza and I stumbled across this trick. It worked like a miracle and left no evidence of a stain.

Grease stains- Baking soda.
Baking Soda has a ton of uses, and this is only one of them….but I always have baking soda handy when I cleaning grease stains in the kitchen. Not cleaning related- but baking soda is also the perfect facial exfoliant(just enough grit, but not damaging to skin). I add it to my face wash a couple times a week and my skin feels so good afterwards.

Multipurpose spray or Clean Shower spray- 1 part vinegar, 1 part water. 
I keep a bottle in my shower to spray it down every couple of days so that I don't have to scrub as long or hard when I clean the bathroom. I also use the same spray when I deep clean our shower- I add in baking soda for stubborn spots along with a scrub brush. (Warning: your bathroom will smell like vinegar, so if this bothers you- skip this one!) I bought a 2 gallon bottle of vinegar at Costco for $4!

I would love to hear any tips or tricks that you guys have found!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Home Tour: Claire Zinnecker

I've been a longtime fan of Claire Zinnecker's design. Her spaces are bright and airy with pastels intermixed. She has a unique take on design that is fresh and undecidedly her own, and I love that. When I saw her home tour featured on Domino a while back, I knew I had to share.
I love the leather pulls on the cabinets and couldn't help noticing the blue floor. It really works in this space!
Can we just talk about the copper dishwasher?!!
I've been obsessed with daybeds as of late, and this one is perfection in my book. I love how Claire manages to bring in a lot of pinks without it feeling overwhelming or taking away from the bright and airy feeling. 
There are so many lovely and unique details in this bathroom. 
This gallery wall makes me want to rethink my minimalist tendencies.

Beautiful, yes? You can see more pictures of Claire's home on Domino's site.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Our Balcony- Before and After

When we moved into our home in Boston four months ago, one of the biggest adjustments was trading our large back yard in Indiana for a balcony…..a little of the country mouse in the city saga. And while we love our proximity to the beach and park, we miss having an outdoor space for our family.  Another reason to prioritize the balcony is that I wanted a space for Connor and I to be able to retreat to with a glass of wine after the girls were in bed for the night. So right away, the balcony was the focus of my attention. 

This is the before picture-not too inviting. After sitting on our balcony a couple times and feeling a complete lack of privacy, I decided we needed some lattice. I like that the lattice is just the right height for us to feel a part of the outdoors and our neighborhood but tall enough to make us feel like we have a private space. After going through four bottles of black spray paint and losing feeling in my thumbs, Connor tied a rope around the lattice, lifted it above his head and then threw the rope up to me. I then proceeded to pull the lattice up over the railing. It was a sweaty business. 
These Homecrest chairs were a lucky craigslist find ($40 a piece!) our last weekend in Indianapolis. We literally took a break from packing up our house to go pick up these chairs. It made zero sense, but Connor is the best, and that's all I have to say about that.
 That is actually our old dining room bench (that Connor made). It makes the place cozy and provides seating without taking up a ton of room.
 These Palm Springs style chairs are my first Boston craigslist find. They needed a new coat of spray paint (like the Homecrest chairs), but it was love at first site.  We bought matching cushions for all of the chairs from Home Decorators to create a cohesive look. 
The rug- it was originally in Connor's office in Indiana and since splurging on an outdoor rug wasn't in the budget for us (this is the one I'd get if it was), I'm happy to bring this out every weekend. We keep it next to the balcony door so that way it's not a hastle.

And this is where we plan on spending a lot of time this summer. Cheers!