Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Personal Highlights

This is the time of year when you look back on things that you've done, hurdles you've conquered, celebrations you've reveled in, and all the little things in between. This is a time for some positive light to be shed, but I know that it can often turn negative, and you can beat yourself up for the things that didn't get done, hurdles you are constantly tripping over, etc., some years are going to be better than others. So as we get ready to start the next book in the series of our lives, I wanted to take a minute to run through my personal highlights of 2014, with a focus on the good and any negatives we will call challenges that helped us learn and grow!

In January, I shared the long struggle that was our home buying search. It was such a difficult process that challenged us at every turn and keeping positive was downright impossible at times. I wrote a bit about that here, and tried to give some insight into the process for other first time home buyers.

In February, we finally did find our first home! We signed on the dotted line, scheduled the movers and tore out the carpeting all within the first 24 hours.
Our small little slice of the world is the perfect place for us, and we have loved (and hated) it for almost a year now, and I can confidently say the struggle was worth it. Losing out on the other two places was meant to be, even though it was hard at the time, it was the best thing for us.

In March, as we settled in, I dreamt up a color scheme for our cozy abode and we painted the nights away. I will say that painting is something that I really do not enjoy. I thought there would be some feeling of reward in painting our first home by ourselves. But after finishing up the living room, we decided to wait on the other spaces, and eventually we will likely have a professional come in and at least touch up the moldings.


That said, P & I did still paint the kitchen ourselves, and in April, I taped off and painted the accent stripes over a few days when he was working late shifts. The bold accent was a surprise to some, and it still gets a lot of comments when we have company over, but we still really love it. It adds such a playful element to the space and makes me smile every time I glance into the space. Take a look here for more on our bold kitchen reveal.

In May we brought the most adorable puppy home (check #BrantleyBub on Instagram for a cuteness overdose). He instantly stole our hearts despite the potty training challenges of living in a condo and having to repeatedly sprint down several flights of stairs (sometimes for nothing), and I'm sure all the neighbors think we are insane for the excessive whooping and cheering we'd perform upon him actually going to the bathroom outside. Outside of the house, I began working on a living and dining room for a client whose bathroom is still an all-time favorite in my portfolio. Much like the rest of us, her projects are ongoing as the challenges of the budget and owning a home often add restrictions and make getting things done feel impossible. Both spaces are very close to completion and I promise to share them once they've wrapped up.

The summer months came and went without much notice, between wedding planning and working we spent a lot of time checking out our new neighborhood and dreaming of beach days and scenic retreats. Somewhere in there we managed to organize some frames and arrange a gallery wall as a focal point in the living room, which is another highlight of our home in my opinion. We actually received a few more framed pieces over the holidays that will soon be added to the wall as well, so more on that when the time comes.

Come August I got to bask in the fun of bridal showers and girls nights with some of my nearest and dearest. In September we even made it home to Seattle for a few days of bachelorette fun and a couples shower. If I had to use one word to sum up our labor day weekend of fun it would be epic. That trip was seriously so much fun. We also began work to add a closet to our bedroom that has added so much storage that I can't express how much our life has improved with it. I haven't shared pictures of it yet because it isn't truly finished, but I think we will be there soon.

October was a continuation of epic fun, starting off with our wedding! It was a day that down-poured. The weather was not such a treat, but it made for a truly beautiful backdrop to our day, I've always loved so much about the rain, being from Seattle, and our pastor reminded us that our first date was also very rainy. Needless to say, the ceremony was so beautiful and we had so much fun at our reception and after-party that I woke up the next day and asked my new husband if we could do it all again! And if bad weather is the worst of things to come in our marriage, I will certainly take the rain! A few weeks back I shared a glimpse into the making of our big day, and hopefully in the new year I will have time to sort through more pictures of the wedding and honeymoon to share as well.

We ended the month of October on our honeymoon and started November off in Italy. For being a month about gratitude and thanks, my heart is certainly so full with love (even still) from our amazing wedding and honeymoon it might just burst. This trip (and this year) has filled me with so much inspiration and relaxation that I am fully geared up for another year of working with my clients to create amazing spaces for them.

December  has been about cutting myself some slack. I have had an extremely full year. Full of a lot of incredible and very positive things. But with all that good comes a lot of chaos. So I have been working on giving myself credit for all that I have done this year, and trying to give myself more attainable goals for things. We did have our holiday party, which I debriefed on a bit yesterday, where instead of making everything from scratch, I worked on good presentation, planning a tasty spread and a house full of festivity, cheer and ambiance.

This year as a whole has been such a wonderful year. For starters, I am now a Mrs. I am a home owner, a doggy mom, a business owner and so much more. These are all huge things! There have been times I have cried over the chaos, but there has been so much growth this year. Personal growth, yes, but also business growth-I have so many exciting projects to share with you in the new year. I haven't ever really done a year in review like this before, but I have loved doing it! It has taken me all the way back through the blog and I've seen how this outlet has grown for me as well. I am so thankful for everyone who comes through and keeps me going here. I love to see the progress I've made with my writing, graphics and even my work that I share. I am so excited to continue this growth through blogging into 2015! If you made it all the way through this lengthy post, I can't wait to make it through so many more in the new year!

Wishing you all a healthy happy 2015--I can't wait to share another year with you all!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Hosting

This year P & I hosted our first-annual holiday soiree! I love getting friends and family together under one roof and the memories you make when everyone is together. To me, this is the reason for the season: to be together with loved ones making those memories.

I don't have any good pictures of the tree, so this is as good as it gets!
Note the DIY garland strung across the otherwise bare windows.

Doing what I do and being who I am, I needed everything in its place. The house needed to be in order, the halls perfectly decked and the food perfectly plated.

I love how this garland came out, strung across the wreath on our front door
wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Instead, what we did was minor holiday decor, a wreath on the front door to welcome guests and a tree in the living room corner as the focal point. The rest was all candles, florals and greenery.

I found this jingle bell garland at Home Goods and decided
to string it up as a card holder in the entryway.

We let the day be about eating, drinking and merry-making, instead of about perfection. I joked with my mom while planning and mentioned that as long as there was food prepped, showering and being a pleasant host were more important that the holiday decorations. (She said being pleasant was more important than showering.)

I love this little Christmas gnome found at Target.

P & I moved the dining table into the living room and used that as the food station, where we served a variety of meats, cheeses, veggies with dips and pigs in a blanket. Since there was no outlet here, we used a coffee table in the corner as a station for the little crock pot which contained spinach artichoke dip and a freshly cut baguette.


We cleared the coffee cart to be used as a coffee and dessert station, and we set up the small counter next to the fridge for drinks, using an ice bucket for the white wine, champagne and sparkling cider, with a bottle of red and a stack of cups along side.


Nobody commented on the decor or lack of decor, everyone ate the food, enjoyed the wine and bubbly, and there was plenty of laughter to last the night.

Brantley didn't shower, but he was very pleasant
and had a great time with all the company that was obviously there just for him!

Did you do any hosting this holiday season? How did it go?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Spaces We Love :: Styled for the Holidays

Since my home isn't currently ready for a holiday home tour, I have been searching for some incredibly beautiful spaces styled for the season. There is so much out there that I just love that it was hard to choose which spaces I wanted to share, so I narrowed it down to three lovely and fully decked-out rooms.

First things first. If you have been reading along here for any length of time, you know I'm obsessed with flowers. Obsessed. I couldn't look away when I found this incredible table-scape that is quite literally overflowing with florals and greens. Top it off with those layers of light (again, mildly obsessed), and I am fully in love with this room.

This dining space was styled for a wedding.
Link over for more images and details from this shoot.

Next up, this nature-inspired cabin in the woods is a real winter wonderland. Through my favorite social media outlet (Instagram) I found Brian Patrick Flynn, an interior designer in Atlanta. He does incredible work and his commentary on his feed is hilarious. Last week, he shared his cabin all decked out for the holidays I linked over to his post as well as the post in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles to soak up all the little details!

Color, texture, pattern and the holidays. Cozy perfections.

The natural details from the greenery, to all of the different trees and woodland critters, this is a holiday scene I can definitely appreciate. Not to mention, that cabin in the mountains... I'm sure it is stunning year round, what an incredibly backdrop for design!

Lastly, Toronto-based interior designer, Jessica Kelly, combined traditional festive details (wreaths, candles & greenery) with a bold hit of hot pink. I am in love with this combination! It is such a cheerful twist on the classic green-and-red holiday color combination. 


The elegant way in which Kelly implements the pinks (again... I'm a little obsessed) is so charming while keeping it very sophisticated. Her pink and green holiday theme was featured in Style at Home, and it is definitely worth linking over and flipping through the images. 

This year, we have already picked our scheme, and unfortunately I don't think it really represents any of these styles. This year we have been so busy that I make no promises that it will be fully decked-out. That said, next year I might just be sharing some hot pink additions to our holiday decor!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Natural Romance :: Our DIY Wedding Decor

It's hard to believe that we have already been married for two months. Our wedding turned out to be such a wonderful day filled with great memories, but there was a lot of work that went into it.


We opted to use a space where we would be supplying everything. I did speak to a few wedding planners, however, doing what I do it was hard for me to relinquish control on such a big event in my life.

DIY wedding decor is a huge part of planning any wedding. Meaning, that no matter how big or small your budget is, you are going to want to customize the details to make the event really represent you and your new spouse!

Wedding shawl made with love by my incredibly talented mom.
For our wedding, we wanted to create an event full of florals, natural elements and soft romantic lighting. For inspiration, I looked through wedding magazines (it was finally acceptable to buy them once we were officially engaged) and of course through Pinterest. To get started with the space I measured the space, noting key details such as window and door locations, main entrance, fixed booth locations and spacing of the beams. I then sketched out my concept for the space and went over it with my hubby to make sure that he liked the overall plan.

Here are some of the details of our day:

For the lighting we used two main elements: strands of globe lights sweeping across the rafters and a customized monogram light. We accomplished both of these things with a lot of help! My mom designed the monogram for us, and a great friend of ours (JP) is a lighting designer who helped turn it into a projectable image for a spotlight.

Monogram light on stage with the ampersand MJ made for us.

JP also helped us install the globe lights across the dance floor. To get them just right, we used the beam measurements to ensure we were getting strands the appropriate length. The bulbs come separate from the strands and my family all pitched in to get them ready to go up.


After the lighting had been tackled, we started working on the tables.

The booths were used as places for the escort cards, the gift station and the guest book. We found these great downloadable signs on Etsy to indicate each station and framed them without glass to keep the chalkboard illusion.

Here's a look at each station:


For me, what really brought the look of our day together was the guest tables. We used long rectangular tables, fresh white linens and craft paper to run the length as a runner. I loved the layered effect of the paper on the linens. The final layer was a long row of glass vessels of different shapes and sizes, some were filled with candles and some left empty. The morning of the wedding we added mason jars filled with farm fresh flowers to fill in along the lengths of the tables.


If you are looking to personalize the layered table look for your wedding day, look no further than Shutterfly. You can customize everything from table runners to candles (which can double as your favors!) and of course photo books where you can share your dating timeline with your guests through pictures, or use one as your guest book.

Our interior look was perfectly customized to represent us. I loved the way the space came together and that we had so much wonderful help from our friends and family to make our big day perfect.


The look extended outside for the ceremony with tulle draped shepherds hooks and hanging mason jars with more farm fresh florals leading the way to the alter. On the front steps of the lake house we used big planters full of mums and more draped tulle at the front steps.


The day of the wedding everything came together beautifully. I was so happy with the whole scene, and the whole day was filled with so much love, it was perfect! Now that our day has come and gone, I'm so thrilled to have all of the pictures back from the photographer (click over to her site here if you are in the CT, NY, NJ, PA area--she's amazing), and I cannot wait to put everything from our day together in a Shutterfly photo book. I love their hardcover books, they are a perfect coffee-table book and such a special way to bring you back to the special memories of our day!

All images in this post provided by PhotoJenicMoments from our beautiful wedding day!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Motivation Monday :: Sparkle

Happy Monday! The holidays are upon us. If you haven't already attended or hosted a holiday party this year, I'm sure you have one in the coming weeks.


As you visit (or host) friends and family, remember to spread the spirit of the season. Spread a little shine and leave a little sparkle wherever you go.

Our annual holiday party is this weekend, and it is the first one in our condo. I had been stressing about having company and getting our space ready, but then I realized that the season isn't about stressing. It isn't about having a perfectly trimmed tree and the most amazing holiday decor. It is about good people, good food and drinks, and just being together to celebrate the season and make some warm memories.

This year we are keeping the decor simple and the food even simpler and just gearing up for a good time. I can't wait to share some images of our party with you next week. Until then, remember to breathe and focus on what this season is all about!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Dinnerware

I love to cook, but more importantly, I love to cook for people. It is so much better to prepare a meal when you are sitting down with friends to enjoy it. That said, when we were registering for wedding gifts, the dinnerware and entertaining pieces were high on my list.



The dinnerware we have been using is a hodge podge collection of things from apartments past and it was nice to work together to select something we both like and to get a full cohesive set.

One thing that I do like to do with my dinnerware is pick a scheme. What do I mean pick a scheme? Well, I don't like to just go buy a set that the store has decided works together, but rather pick pieces from open stock that all work together, but stand alone very nicely as well.


One of the collections we immediately fell in love with was the Como Swirl. I felt it was too busy to use it for everything so we went with a basic dinner plate with a blue rim to pull the blue back in, and a solid baltic blue bowl.


The glassware is a combination as well. I like a good-sized wine glass that can be used for either red or white, so we selected the Lenox Tuscany Basics. For our everyday glasses we went with the square Strauss Glasses from C&B, and for a touch of fun and a nod back to the blues, we added the Alegre Azul Glass.

Lastly, the flatware. I wanted something with some substance to it. It is a pet peeve of mine when you pick up your flatware to eat and it is seemingly weightless. We selected ours based on style and how it felt in the hand, and ended up going with the Twist flatware. It lends to the square shape of our glassware and after using it for about a month or so now, I love it!

The way all of these pieces come together makes me very happy. They are perfect for hosting a few friends for dinner or for just the two of us. Now I just need the perfect dining table for our little eat-in space!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Work in Progress :: Classic White Kitchen

This project is almost wrapped up, so before I get to share the final look, let me show you what we started with.

Probably the best view of the kitchen as a whole, looking from the dining room in.

For the client, the biggest hindrance in the space was that it was closed off. When you walk into their front door, you come right into the living room and are facing a wall that separates the living room from the kitchen. Secondly was the dark and outdated style of the kitchen and for the hubby especially, the soffits around the perimeter were a big problem.


From a design perspective the kitchen was in great need of lightening up--not just in the finishes, but in adding actual light. In your kitchen where you are dealing prepping food, cleaning etc., almost everything you are doing requires really good light. 

Here is a view of the dividing wall in the kitchen. 

We made a list of what the client wanted to see in the space visually as well as what they needed in the space functionally and started to make a plan. 

Here is a look at the plan for the space as drawn by Beauty Craft Kitchens here in NJ:


And here is a look at the room starting to open up:
Looking from the front door towards the kitchen and dining rooms.

Reveal coming soon! What do you think?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Motivation Monday :: Live Colorfully


I love this Kate Spade quote. It is so important to go through life in a colorful way. Of course, to decorate colorfully is my favorite element of the quote, but as a whole, the quote is perfect.

Life doesn't have to be so cut and dry. Mix in some brights, some pastels, some jewel tones. Create a balance in everything you do. Create amazing memories and live colorfully!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's that time again!

With December and the holidays also comes Pantone color of the year time. I love when the color of the year is released. So have you heard? 2015's color of the year is...


(Photo courtesy of Pantone.com)

Marsala! What do you think? In the past years we have had a lot of bright and bold colors... I think it is refreshing to have a color introduced that can really play the role of a neutral. It is warm, with a gorgeous red base. 


This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.
I agree Leatrice, wholeheartedly. I think it will play very nicely across the board from fashion through to interiors. What do you think? Are you a fan of Marsala?

I am so happy for a more subdued tone this year. After many years of bright, bold colors, I think Masala will prove more versatile and more usable.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Currently in the Works :: A Bath with Wow Factor

One of the most common things I seem to run into in the world of bathroom renovations is builder grade materials (aka, inexpensive and not the best quality). This isn't a bad thing necessarily, but when it is in all of your bathrooms, you can only live with them for so long before you are ready for an upgrade.

The existing space:


This particular client was working on their master bath, and the first thing that the husband said to me was that he was looking for "wow factor." I will admit that at first I was a little intimidated, but I used my best judgement to give him a well functioning layout in their uniquely shaped space that would maximize all of the key areas.

But really, a client is never going to see or feel that wow from a plan on paper. So we walked through the layout details and then moved onto where you can really start to see the "wow" coming together: the materials and details.

New vanity waiting for installation.

We selected a stunning finish, door style and details on their vanity-another custom project, selected a lovely stone for counter tops and surfaces, mixed in a handful of tiles and tile design details, added heated flooring and layered on the light... voila! The space was starting to feel like we could really achieve the wow!

Here's a look at the progress in the tile work:

Shower tile detials--in progress.

Floor accent tile--see that red mesh in the corner? Heated floors. Yep--wow factor.

This space is one that I truly believe is going to come together beautifully. I cannot wait for the final details to be completed and to share the reveal! What do you think?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Motivation Monday :: Spirit and Essence

This quote is on point. It is so key to remember when you are working on a space, that the shell of the space is important too! The shell is going to limit what you can do to some extent, just as your client will limit what you can do based on their tastes. Work to balance these boundaries. Show the client how great the space can be. Work within that shell and give it a whole new image.


After all in the world of design, this is our life. Meeting the needs of both client and space, while seeing how far we can push the boundaries to create something truly beautiful that functions well and suits the needs of those using it to make everyone happy!