Friday, September 22, 2017

Currently loving: Banquette Seating

Lately I have been stumbling across image after image of the most beautiful dining areas with banquette seating, and I can't get enough of it. Maybe it's because I'm using banquette seating in one of my client's spaces right now, or maybe it's because I'm considering it for my own house (hey space saving solution), but either way- I'm loving it. I think we are all used to the banquette seating that's been around for years......the kind that usually includes white built-ins (which I still love by the way). However, the banquette seating that's been catching my eye is fresh and unfussy. It's stream-lined, yet-cozy. I love it all, I can't even choose a favorite: 








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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My 6 Tips for Small Space Living

Between working with clients living in tiny city condos (try a family of four in 600 sq ft.) and downsizing to our own house of 1300 sq. ft., I have been learning a lot about how to make the most of small spaces. If you are in the house hunting stage, my best advice for deciding on which small living space you should choose is to find a home with as much natural light as you can, high ceilings, and an open layout. These three things will go a LONG way when you are short on square footage. If you take two houses with the exact same square footage, you will feel like the one with high(er) ceilings and natural light is more spacious. I can't tell you how many houses we walked through that were bigger than our current house, but Connor had to duck in places, walk sideways up the stairs, or I could touch the ceiling if I stood on my toes.....and we are not large people. It felt very chlosterphobic. So that's my advice for those on "the small house hunt". If you have a small house and are wanting suggestions for making the most of what you have, these are some things that have made the world of difference in my own house and in my client's homes.
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1. The Chair and a half.  Obviously, this would not work for the living room of a 600 sq. ft. house....BUT if you have just a little bit more space, I cannot say enough about this as a smart piece of furniture to own. Why? Because it's smaller than a love seat, but seats two people comfortably. We bought the West Elm Bliss chair in Indiana for our bedroom (back when our bedroom was the size of half our current house), and since then this chair has proven invaluable when we have company. Also, there are some situations, where the room is too small for two accent chairs, and you just have a corner to work with (such is in our last home).....the chair and a half just takes up one corner but seats two people. It's genius, really.
2. Change out your winter/summer clothes. If you have extra storage in a basement or attic, this is a simple thing that can make your closet not feel jam packed (that and actually getting rid of clothes).

3. Go vertical. Perhaps obvious, but worthy of mention. Go vertical with bookcases and decor. It will not only be helpful for storage, but it makes you look up and makes a room feel more spacious.


4. Acrylic or white furniture over dark. Not always, but sometimes dark furniture takes up a lot of visual space. It might be the exact dimensions of a white piece of furniture (or acrylic), but it will feel larger.

5. Low/lateral furniture.  This one has surprised me by how much of a difference it makes. Our bedroom furniture is pretty average in size, but when we moved to our "cozy cottage", the only thing that didn't make me feel like the walls were caving in on me were the nightstands. This was unfortunate because it was quite the ordeal to get those dressers up the narrow staircase and into our bedroom in the first place (thanks Connor). So, we exchanged our dressers for two pieces that were the exact width and similar depth for two that were about a foot shorter. Problem solved. I no longer feel like I'm sleeping in a cave, and we still have storage. Here is a low vintage piece I snagged on craigslist for $40.

6. Multi-use furniture.  This includes the obvious ( a day bed that can fold into two twin beds) and the less obvious (a low dresser that can also act as a bench).

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Lovely Attic Renovations

There are a couple projects highest on our priority list now that we are moved in. One of them is transforming the attic into a living space. The research I have done shows that attic renovations in the New England area are next to kitchen and bathroom renovations in the return profit. As long as the window is large enough (fire escape), then this is valuable square footage being added to the house (especially treasured in small New England houses).  While our attic is not a large space, I think there are so many possibilities. Mainly though, I envision it being a playroom and guest room. Here are some of the pictures I've been mulling over for inspiration:



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Thursday, August 31, 2017

BackYard Dreaming

Now that we are all moved into our house, we are really enjoying spending a lot of our time outdoors.  There are also so many house projects that we want to work on (each of which is time and money), and it can feel a bit overwhelming. I thought I would start by sharing our big plans for each space starting with the backyard....and then as we tackle each individual project I will share more.

I always begin the design process with what I call the "dream phase"- this is where being practical and budgets are off of the table. In my experience, if you start with beautiful design, you can usually find cheaper ways to get there, and there will always be road blocks so you can just count on that. That said- most of the ideas here are very doable (Connor may argue that the playhouse may be a bit dreamy, but we'll see!). I love the idea of a Hansel & Gretel whimsical playhouse, and something like this would fit with our French cottage-like house. We already have the dining table (Connor made in Indiana) and dining chairs, we plan on making the pergola and doing a vine wall against the stucco garage wall. We have a fire pit that I would like to update down the road and add some cool chairs (these from World Market were sold out by the time I could get to them). Anyways, that's the plan for now- most of which we will start working on next Spring......


vine wall (pic)
pergola (pic)





Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Buying A Vintage Rug online & My favorite Sources

Not to be dramatic, but I equate buying a vintage rug online (with the words FINAL SALE running in the back of your mind) to be one of the most terrifying experiences. In the past I've found the majority of our vintage rugs on craigslist for cheap....$20 anyone? I don't have to think twice! I will find a space for it. Trust me. But there is something just terrifying about buying a not-so-cheap rug online that you cannot return. 

When we moved to our new house, I knew I wanted to move the shag rug into our bedroom and get a new vintage rug for our living room. The shag rug (turns out) is not the most kid friendly. Being somewhat of a clean freak, I didn't love that I would vacuum and then find crumbs that were hidden in the shag. While the small/odd sized vintage rugs are easier to spot at flea markets and craigslist for a steal, finding a large one (that you love) is virtually impossible on the cheap.

I started searching for a rug as soon as we moved in, and I was having a lot of trouble pulling the trigger on one. I rounded up my top five, but still nothing was giving me the feeling I wanted to have before I made a big purchase. (I now have much more empathy for my clients in case you're wondering). So, I emailed them all to my friend Brittany (as one does) and asked her opinion and "why was I having such a hard time?". She gave the soundest piece of advice which coincidentally I give all my clients, but sometimes forgot to follow myself. Her advice was to look at rooms that have the feel I'm going for, rather than only looking at the individual rugs. I realized I had been looking for a showstopper of a rug, but I liked rooms where the rug was not the statement of the room. It's more difficult looking for a rug that is not a showstopper, but equally beautiful. But I'm happy to report I found mine, and I love it. (The rug in this bedroom below by Amber Interiors was a huge inspiration).



The other advice she gave was to ask the shop/store owner to take a picture of the rug with indoor lighting if one is not provided. That way, you will not be surprised by the colors when the rug arrives. I'm sharing a few of my favorite etsy shops for finding vintage rugs at a "fair price". In my experience, you get more for your money when you buy from smaller shops. Another good thing to note: when you "favorite" a rug on etsy, a lot of owners will immediately email you a 10% off discount code which will at least cover shipping costs.


(left to right: 1. Ebrarshops 2.ColorReform 3.USRugGallery 4.VintageDecoRugs  5.OushakRugs 6.MedallionRug





Thursday, August 10, 2017

At Home

The word is out that we have relocated! We are in the midst of complete unpacking chaos over here, but I thought I would share a bit of the background story and all about our new home! When we first moved to Boston, we had 24 hours to find a place, so we decided that we would find a pretty spot to rent for a year and get to know the area before buying a home. We landed on the prettiest apartment/house rental (in Boston they have big old houses that are split into units) by the ocean/near downtown and loved living there........all the while knowing it was temporary. About a year ago we started seriously house hunting, and went to bazillions of open houses on the weekends (which quickly lost their fun factor after the second weekend), put in a few offers that got rejected (so discouraging), and had nearly given up when out current house popped up on the market. It checked off all of the big things on our list: good commute, good schools, high ceilings, a yard, some natural light.....and when we saw it in person we fell hard. As weird and hokey as it sounds, we felt "at home" the minute we pulled up to the open house. The charm of the house and the outdoor area were the biggest selling points for us. We didn't think we stood a chance since so many of our previous offers on other houses fell through, but long story short- we got the house!
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About the house: I don't think it's a coincidence that I have been reading about minimalism and have seriously paired down items in our home and closets. I think I saw the writing on the wall during all of those open houses- that if we were going to live in the areas we wanted to live, we would be getting a smaller house. In general, I would say the average Boston house is much smaller than those in other parts of the country (because they're old). Our house was built in 1905.....barely making the rule Connor made early on that whatever house we bought "had to be built no later than the 1900s" (that was after looking at a house built in the late 1700s). I can't say I blame him- while the charm is nice, we weren't looking for hidden repair costs. All that to say- we have a small house (1300 sq ft. to be exact) with lots of history.......a small cottage is what I'm calling it. There's storage and a small room in the basement that they don't factor into the square footage, and there's room to finish off the attic which is something we are hoping to do in the near future.  (Ps. Below is the only space not in disarray and also my favorite space- our sunroom!)
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If you have been following along for a few years, you will know that we had a cookie cutter house in Indianapolis (with 2800 sq. ft!) before moving to Boston. While I loved living there, I was not initially excited about the house. I knew it was a good investment, and that it made sense given we didn't think we would be in Indianapolis for long, but it did not get me excited at first. It was a very "mechanical" purchase if you will. We did make it our own and fall in love with it eventually, but that house was more of a process for me. This house was love at first sight for all of us, and having had both home buying experiences, I think my heart is just completely grateful for this one, since I know it's not usually the case. I was telling my mom that in our eleven years of marriage, I have always had one eye looking ahead to the next move, and this is the first time that there is no move in the near future (if there is one at all?).  I felt myself exhale a sigh of relief when we spent our first night here....."ahh home at last". Life brings it's fare share of highs and lows for everyone, and this moment will be filed under our "high", so thanks everyone for the well wishes.




Thursday, July 27, 2017

DIY Cement Planter

Ever since making that cement lamp earlier this year, I have been scheming of other things to make with my leftover bag of cement. If I had known how easy it is to work with (just add water!) , I would have been all over these projects a long time ago.  Between the lamp and the planter, there is hardly a dent in my $20 bag of cement, so prepare yourselves for a lot more DIY's coming your way. While it is messy, it's very simple to use. I'm starting to see things at the grocery store as molds for my cement rather than items for my pantry. (Send help!)
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1. I used a large cottage cheese container as the larger mold, and then placed a yogurt container inside to create the "hole" for the plant. Plastic molds are fine, cardboard molds are better, and stay away from metal molds (such as cans).
2. Then you just mix cement and water- it doesn't have to be perfect, I promise. Just make a "soup-like" texture, and then pour in the space between the two containers.
3. Make sure that the yogurt container is not pushed all the way down, so that there will be a cement bottom to your planter, and at the same time make sure it doesn't slide up. After about 10-15 min. the cement will start to settle.
4. I left mine on a shelf overnight and then it was completely hardened. I kept mine simple by painting a simple gold line around it.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

On fashion

I do not claim to be the most fashion forward person by any stretch, but I do love the creativity I find there in expressing myself. I've always been a person that's selective with trends, and even "minimal" in the amount of clothes in my wardrobe by most standards. But there is always room for improvement, or as I discovered recently lots of improvement.  If you follow me on instagram, you may know that I've been reading "The Curated Closet" by Anuschka Rees. It's not a book simply about pairing down items in your closet, or even about a capsule wardrobe (though it mentions these things), it's a practical book......a workbook of sorts about discovering your style. There are pie charts, lists, and mood board "assignments" which I found SO helpful. I have always thought I was very in tune with my own style, but this book pointed out some key blinders in the area.
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One thing that stuck out to me was how Anuschka addressed the idea that with fashion we like to put ourselves and others in boxes with labels like "bohemian" or "preppy", when in fact most of us are unique individuals with a blend of many different styles. Through a series of questionnaires and lists, Anuschka helps you narrow down your personal fashion preferences. The other thing that I loved is that Anuschka addresses styling in a way that I have not seen before in a book. So you like button down shirts? How do you like them styled (a half tuck, whole tuck, no tuck, popped collar, not popped, rolled sleeves, with a cardigan....etc...)? The older I get, the less interested in trends I become, but more with feeling like the best version of myself. Ends up, I really feel most like myself in a monochromatic wardrobe.  I'm tabbing this look "french tomboy".
all sources can be found here

So combining reading "The Curated Closet" with reading Marie Kondo's "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up", I've been going to war on my closet. Things with holes (embarrassingly quite a few items) got thrown away, things that didn't fit well, I didn't wear enough,  or didn't fit my style formula were given away or sold on eBay (still working on that). My closet and dresser are way more organized because there's less items I'm trying to squeeze into them, and while there are a few gaps in my wardrobe.....there's no more than before the purge. Perhaps this is because I had so many "filler" items (that I rarely wore) that are now gone, and  I'm just able to see the gaps more clearly. Does that make sense? I've compiled some of my favorite brands from over the years that I reach for again and again for their quality.

Zella- workout apparel, I always grab an item at the Nordstrom anniversary sale and I never regret it.
Natori- underwear/bras (again- the time to stock up is during the anniversary sale)
Eberjey- pajamas (these aren't cheap, but I've lived in the same pair for five years....so that counts for something)
Everlane- Tshirts/silk button down shirts
Cloth& Stone- Linen button down shirts
Madewell- denim (good quality for the price point)



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Faux Marble/Ikea Hack Dining Table- a year in review

It's been a little over a year since we first made our faux marble dining table, and I thought you guys might be interested in how it's held up.....the good and the bad.
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First, I would say that we are extremely happy with how it's held up in terms of everyday life wear and tear. The girls love art and and this is where they color crayons and paint, and all of those normal life messes come up easily. It also does't scratch easily. 
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The problem that we faced was early on. I had read that for any "holes" in the glaze coating we could just add clear nail polish. This was a huge mistake as it yellowed fairly quickly, and we have had yellow edges around our table for some time. We also had an issue with the edges of the table being sticky (it's difficult getting the glaze around this area) and I had read that rubbing alcohol would help- I decided to try nail polish remover (because it's what I had on hand), and this also was a big mistake. Rubbing alcohol would have worked beautifully for the sticky edges (and did in the end), but the nail polish remover made some more yellowing damage as well as removing some portions of the glaze. 
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While none of these areas of the table were obvious unless you studied the table, it still really bothered us. And considering the only issues we have had with the table were due to "DIY error" rather than the actual table not holding up, we decided to make another one and did so last weekend. Fifty dollars later, and I'm so glad we did! It looks beautiful, there's no yellowing, and it was fairly easy since we have done this whole thing once before.  Here's what the new table looks like in our dining room:

It's difficult to tell in pictures, but most people think it's a marble table that we purchased from Crate & Barrel. 



Thursday, June 29, 2017

DIY wooden Chargers

I almost hesitate to call this a DIY, because these chargers were SO easy to make.....almost too easy for a blog post. However if you're like me, it's the simple DIY projects that I'm drawn to. I made these a couple years ago for my parent's 60th birthday party.....I needed a lot of chargers, and if you've ever hosted an event and looked into purchasing chargers, you will know they can get really expensive. 
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So, we went to the hardware store, bought two wooden boards (each 5.25 inches wide), and cut them into 14 inch boards. After some light sanding (I wanted them to be rough, without worrying about anyone getting splinters over dinner), we stapled two of the 14 in boards together. The finished chargers measure 10.5 inches by 14 inches. I have used these chargers a ton in the past couple years, and they are a nice basic to have on hand.
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Here you can see the back where I (or Connor) simply stapled the boards together.....not pretty or super professional looking, but no one ever sees it, so who cares right?
Here you can see the charger more up close:
And again at our Thanksgiving table last year (just ignore that baby gate in the background)...

So easy and cheap, yet it delivers a beautiful finished product when the table is set....time to throw a party!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Calm

Even more important than diagnosing one's personal design style, is deciding how you want your home to make you feel.  In the past, I have dabbled in a few different design styles, but I have always striven to create a space that is calm and peaceful for my family. Restlessoasis, am I right? These spaces do just that for me:
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

living simply, my ongoing journey

When I first set out to read a book a month this year, I did not have specific books in mind.....it sort of evolved as friends loaned me books they were reading or as my interest was peaked about certain books. But now that I'm nearly 6 months into the year, I can look back and easily detect a theme- less things, less on the calendar, less social media......just less of it all. I don't think it started with the books I've been reading, but with moving to an expensive area (supposedly only after after San Francisco and NY), living in a smaller space, and wanting to be intentional about what I bring into it. When we lived in Indiana, I was still very conservative with purchases by most standards, but I was not forced to think "where will this go?". We had a huge walk in closet that could have been the size of a small nursery or office, and 2800 sq feet. Thankfully we were aware that we would not live in that house long term and did not attempt to "fill it up" so to speak......Connor made our dining table and a book case for the office that were cheap and could be used outdoors some day down the road, and we were fine with having empty corners. Looking back though, I realize that I wasn't super intentional about the smaller purchases like the $20 variety from Target, or a shirt here and there. Now that we are in Boston, I can feel a shift in the air of how I want to live.
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So, what have I been reading around that theme? Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, The Life-Chainging Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and currently The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. If you were sitting in my living room I could go on and on about each one of these books (I loved them all for different reasons), but again, it also started before reading these books when we moved to Boston and we could not comfortably fit a lot of furniture in our home. We stored a few things that we loved (because we are renting and didn't want to sell everything), but a lot of furniture we sold- mostly things that I liked but didn't love ....even sentimental things. Each time we sold something it felt like a huge load was lifted off. As I started taking less trips to Target because I didn't want to spend money unnecessarily and didn't have any more space for things, I also started buying less "small" purchases online, and there was more time in my life because I wasn't running as many errands to return things. Life was made more simple because of this in a lot of ways. I don't think I realized  how much time those things took up until they were removed from my life. In her book Present over Perfect, Shauna Niequist talks about how the amount of time we spend "managing our stuff", whether it's cleaning and organizing those things or running errands to buy/return those things. This is something that really rang true to me as I looked back over the past year and saw how much more time was added to my life just by living simpler.

Here's the thing with minimalism and slow living....it's trendy right now. I have no desire to buy a tiny house, and I will probably not limit myself to a specific number of items in my closet, but I do think I am moving in the direction of a slower paced life and I think that there is something to be said about living that way. First and foremost, there's more time. More time with people you love, more time to do the things that you love. There's less time spent picking out what I'm going to wear for the day, because I have fewer items....I'm still in the process of doing this, but the idea is that what's left in my closet are only favorite items.
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I've been really torn with my feelings regarding instagram lately. Instagram tends to celebrate more.....the more beautiful clothes you have, the more exciting things that you do, and the more new things you buy oftentimes make for more beautiful and interesting instagram feeds. In fact, fashion bloggers have to showcase new material that is available for followers to purchase now (last year's shoes will not do) , so they have to constantly be purchasing (or be gifted) new clothes just to keep it all going. At least interior designers can use client's homes to show new material. As one who follows and has benefited from a number of fashion bloggers and  various creators, I'm not dismissing what they bring to the table, just seeking balance in my own life. I have started to be more intentional about which feeds I follow.....asking myself which ones are focused on celebrating life vs. ones that make me want more.  It's completely subjective, because the answers would vary from person to person, but these are questions I'm starting to ask myself.

Because it's trendy, I think there is a danger that being minimal can become the new standard for things. Such as, you are not living life well unless you live it this way. I don't agree with that message at all. First and foremost, I realize that I come from a place of privilege to even talk about living slower....I don't have to manage two jobs just to make ends meet. Men and women that do that to provide for their families have my utmost respect. The older I get, the more I realize how many different cultures and backgrounds people come from and I don't think being minimal necessarily benefits everyone, and it should never be a new standard for judging others. There are seasons of life where you are in survival mode (and depending on the girls and the amount of sleep I'm getting, I move in and out of that season), there are seasons when your schedule is full because it has to be (doctors appointments, illness, taking care of a loved one etc..), but for me slow living means that I don't over-schedule unnecessarily. I have close friends who live beautiful lives and are incredible mothers and are present with their families who would not be categorized as "minimalists" and I respect and admire them and love the lives that they lead. I don't even think my own life would be truly categorized as "minimalist" by a lot of people. I just realize that I am happier with less and when I live more simply my focus is not on accumulating more because it's focused on enjoying what I already have. For those of you who have hung in there for this whole thing, that's really what I'm getting at. I promise less words and more pictures next post...


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Paint Splattered Napkins

Well, I was supposed to share these pretty napkins prior to Easter to use for an Easter table setting, but as is often the case with DIYs,  it was a total failure the first time around. I used fabric dye instead of fabric paint, thinking the results would be the same......but was I wrong. After ironing them and getting dye all over my ironing board cover and washing them and getting dye all over my washing machine....we had to throw them out because they looked so awful. It happens. Sometimes I think the lesson behind creating is to keep pressing on, past all the setbacks. Both times in creating these napkins, I let Reese help me. She loves creating as much as I do, and when possible I always try to include her in projects. It makes her so proud when she sees that item being used or on display in our home, and the process is always a special mom/daughter time with her. I will say, we had to do this while Charlie was asleep-otherwise it would have been a real disaster.
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We laid down a huge drop cloth and the napkins flat on top of it. I put a smock on Reese, and we both wore gloves. After filling a plastic cup with the fabric paint, I added water so that it was easier to "splatter".  
 We put our fingertips in the cup and after getting a small amount of paint, we "flicked" the paint off onto the napkins. At the start, I encouraged Reese to do small drops on the napkins only to find out that she liked the "big ones". Ha! She's always reminding me that she is her own artist, and I let her do her thing after that. Now that they are finished, I have to say that I kind of agree with her. 

What you'll need: disposable gloves, plastic cup, drop cloth, napkins (I used these), fabric paint


After letting them fully dry (24hrs), iron the backs of the napkins to set the paint. While maybe late for Easter, but I think these will be fun for summer dinner parties or outdoor entertaining.





Thursday, April 27, 2017

Blush & Green

We recently transitioned Charlie to a twin bed, and surprisingly (because it was only like what, 2.5 years ago with Reese?) we had forgotten what a complete transition that is......for everyone's sleep. Can you hear my panic? Maybe I'm imagining it, but I think we are slowly making progress. Anyways, one thing that helps me keep my mind off of the feeling of "what did we just do?!" is focusing on designing the girls bedroom without the crib. Recently, I've been drawn blush and green, whether it's a grey/green or a deep fern green.....I'm loving it all.
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