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Our Living Room Design Reveal!

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Our living room was our last phase of redesign in this minor spring home renovation – I am officially ready for a break as we take on wedding season! Enjoy this beautiful before and after of our humble little townhouse!

BEFORE

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There are so many issues I had with our living room before: it was very dark, the yellow walls gave a gross color to everything, and it is very difficult to find the right furniture arrangement to fit our life and maximize the space.

AFTER

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Just a simple redesign and some paint made the whole room so much brighter! The natural sunlight was amazing to have and it opened the room up to more space and gave a greater open floor plan.

DESIGN

Picture Shelf

The 6′ picture shelf hanging above our couch was made by us in our garage from five simple items – two 1″x4″x72″ boards, one 1″x2″x72″ board, 3/4″ screws, stain and polyurethane! Simply screw the 1x4s together in an L shape and screw the 1×2 in the front to keep pictures from slipping, and voila! This was the easiest project ever and only costed us about $15! Finding an exact replica of this was estimated about $75 online.

View this DIY tutorial on how we did it!

Floating Shelves

Just like the custom picture shelf, I had a hard time finding 4′ long floating shelves that were exactly what I wanted. Since I used the same stain on our dining room decor and the picture shelf, I knew I wanted unfinished or walnut colored shelves, which were hard to find for less than $100 each! I decided to do a little DIY and take the project on myself! I’m not much of a craftsman when it comes to wood, but with a little help from the hubby and a lot of Googling, I figured out a way to build this pair of floating shelves for only $20! The fit perfectly under our newly mounted TV and gave a great warmth to the naturally cool grey and blue design.

View this DIY tutorial for how we did it!

Decor

Most of the decor items came from our wedding day or were small pieces we collected over the years. The only thing new I purchased were some decorative candles displayed on the shelves from Target on clearance, the hanging frames used to display my dried wedding floral, and some small bottles and faux greenery to make the decor pop! Read more about how to transform your memories into home decor!

Furniture

In the process, we spent zero dollars from our budget on new furniture! Our coffee table and couch were existing furniture we had in the room (couch from Ashley Furniture and table was custom made by a previous co-worker with the dining room table). The stools under the TV and lamps were existing pieces I pulled from other rooms in our house to serve a better function. The only brand new thing we bought for the room was the television being that we knew we wanted a new, bigger one soon and one that we could mount above the shelves we built. The old iron shelving units from IKEA were relocated to the other side of the room and poof – everything came together!

Check out some my favorite pieces in our new home!

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Home, Life and Marriage, Style

How To Incorporate Wedding Memories Into Your Home Decor

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It’s been 8 months since we tied the knot and all of our treasured wedding decoration, gifts and memories have sat in a large tub in our spare bedroom still! When we bought and started decorating our home, it was important to me that we truly display these things that meant so much to us on our big day, from photos to decor and even our wedding stationery. Now that our living area is complete, I am sharing my favorite ways to capture our love and memories from our special day in our magnificent home!

PRESS YOUR WEDDING FLOWERS AND TURN THEM INTO WALL ART

We all know that flowers cost a pretty penny and our wedding bouquets are something special to treasure forever. My bouquet sat in that bin for months after drying out, crumbling every time I dug in there to find something. I was inspired by Kelly at Passport and Cappuccinos to create my own pressed flower art. She transformed her wedding bouquet into stunning wall art!

Using glass folding frames hung on the wall with some vintage drawer pulls I found, I pressed my wedding floral and placed it in the frame with some scrap lace from my wedding dress for texture and added softness. These frames from Wayfair came in three different sizes (I chose the 10″ in antique copper) and they went perfectly with the modern rustic look I love in our home!

DISPLAY PHOTOS IN UNTRADITIONAL FRAME AND WAYS

At the end of our wedding as we waited behind the closed door for our send-off, our photographer took a minute to gift us a handful of Polaroids he took throughout the day when we assumed he was taking normal photos. They were amazing and gave us just enough to tie us over until we got our real photos. This was one of the best gifts given to us. Because they’re so small, it took me a while to find something to display them so they stand out. My mom gifted me a set of wood block photo displays that were perfect to fit our style and photos! I placed a few of them around where I felt like they filled that much-needed space, and now we can look back at these special moments forever.

FRAME YOUR STATIONERY OR INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR ART WORK

I loved the vintage look of our thank you cards I created, and printed extra to keep, so why not use them as a display piece! I purchased a 10″ and 12″ frame from Wayfair the same as the frames I used to press my bouquet, and displayed them on a large picture shelf I made. It was perfectly complimented by adding some greenery from my bouquet as a background and using the chalkboard from our wedding to create a new sign (from Hobby Lobby). Adding some antique bottles from Michaels and faux greenery that was the same as my bouquet for consistency made the whole shelf pop.

DISPLAY WEDDING TRINKETS AS DECOR

Part of our wedding ceremony featured a candle lighting ceremonies where we joined our families together as one, and that lantern that we featured on our big day is now displayed in our home next to a statue gifted to us with our wedding date inscribed as a reminder of this special moment.

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Home, Life and Marriage

How The One Minute Rule Has Simplified and Destressed My Life

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With renovating our house, work being crazy and just the general flow of life, it’s been really easy to let things pile up, literally and figuratively. I have spent the last few weekends between painting and projects tidying up our home, cleaning up stuff lying around and just trying to reorganize for spring. Life doesn’t slow down just because we want to.

Now, I’m not one to constantly put rules in place – as an organized individual, rules often lead to stress when they’re not followed, and nobody’s got time for that! I simplify my life by NOT enforcing any rules that would ultimately fail, which makes my next point interesting. There is one rule I follow that is tried-and-true to making my life better and less stressful: the one minute rule. It simply states:

“IF IT TAKES ONE MINUTE OR LESS TO DO, DO IT NOW, NOT LATER.”

This means that the little things that take you an hour to do on Saturday morning can be spread out through the week and give you your time back. For example, take the extra minute to put your clothes in the hamper or washer versus letting them pile up on the floor until the weekend. Fixing the little things around your house and doing the little tasks in front of you can open your eyes to time you can save now instead of wasting your weekends away on meaningless chores.

Over time, I eventually bumped my rule up to three minutes, then five minutes. That stack of dishes in the sink? Do them now while dinner is cooking and you still have plenty of time to kick your feet up. Need lunch for work tomorrow? Make it now and save yourself the money of eating out or take that snooze alarm to use those extra 5 minutes of sleep tomorrow.

Overtime, I found the my schedule became more free to do what I wanted to do. Instead of snapping at my husband to help me slave over the house for a few hours cleaning, we’re able to spend quality time together doing things we want to do. Instead of constantly having to wash one dish at a time because I’m too lazy to do the dishes, I have my choice of dishes I want and a clean kitchen to cook in.

I also applied this rule into my work – I write down everything I need to get done that day and knock the to-dos in order of how long they take (and priority if a larger project needs to get done first). After about 10 minutes, I have finished about 3-5 projects and my productivity feels through the roof to motivate me toward the larger projects.

It’s amazing how great you feel day-to-day when you take a few moments to get those little things done. This rule is meant to be flexible to the individual, so start small and build yourself up overtime as it becomes a habit and change of mindset. It will be hard, but it’s all about breaking the laziness. No one is holding you back or in this type of routine but you, so it really takes a deep self dive to achieve success.

As you begin to enact this one rule into your life, here are a few examples of chores that you can do within your own rule time frame!

ONE MINUTE

  • Wipe down the kitchen counters.
  • Fix couch pillows.
  • Put shoes and bags away.
  • Make your bed.
  • Clean off the bathroom counter and place items in their respective drawers.
  • Hang towels in the bathroom.
  • Clean clothes up off the floor – place them right into the washer instead of the hamper.
  • Pull out meat or frozen food for tomorrow’s meals.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Keep a grocery list on the fridge and write down grocery needs as they are emptied.
  • Push in dining chairs and wipe down table.
  • Water plants.
  • Check your budget to make sure you’re on track with your expenses and bills.

TWO TO THREE MINUTES

  • Load and start the washer. Turn washer clothes over into dryer.
  • Put clean dishes away.
  • Sweep kitchen floor.
  • Load and run the dishwasher.
  • Pay those bills you’ve been putting off.

FIVE MINUTES

  • Dust shelves and tables in main areas.
  • Pack lunches for tomorrow. (tip: make a weekly lunch plan so that you can thoughtlessly pack lunches each day)
  • Vacuum main living areas.
  • Clean your bathroom toilets.
  • Wipe down mirrors in bathrooms and other areas.
  • Fold laundry in the dryer.
  • Put random things away in the garage that were pulled out.
  • Clean garbage out of your car.
  • Wipe down grease build-up on vent hood.
  • Wipe out microwave.
  • Filter through old bills and paperwork – sort it into a folio binder for easy access.
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Home, Life and Marriage, Style

Our $200 Kitchen And Dining Renovation Reveal!

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When you buy a home, we all dream of that special kitchen and gathering area that is warm and inviting, whether cooking dinner for yourself or hosting your favorite people for a party. Well, our old kitchen was none of those. Our little townhouse has a small galley-style kitchen designed to be compact over functional and design-oriented. The cabinets and counters were all original to home construction in the 1990’s, and the flooring and wall color selected by the previous owners horribly classed from a pale yellow to a brown and green marble-like tile. This was far from my dream kitchen the last two years while renting the home.

IMG-0575Looking at our home daily, and of course binge watching A LOT of Fixer Upper (because Joanna Gaines might be a God I can get behind), I was able to come up with a design that I loved without blowing up our kitchen for a month or even squeezing every penny out of our pocketbooks. With a lot of elbow grease and a few trips to the hardware store, it’s not perfect, but we transformed our kitchen into something we love.

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THE CABINETS

Our old cabinets were this two-tone ’80’s style standard construction cabinets with some loose hinges and grooves built into the design so you don’t have to use hardware. Having lived there, I found that using our hands to open cabinets and drawers left a lot of dirt and food stains all over the place. I knew hardware and making them a single color was a must. I would have adored some new shaker cabinets in white with a marble counter, but our budget unfortunately didn’t allow for it, so after researching some others who painted their laminate cabinets and a long talk with the paint specialist at the hardware store, I found the right solution.

I started the process by giving the cabinets a light hand sanding to give some texture for the paint to grip to. In this case, I opted to only paint the exterior and doors of the cabinets, leaving the interior a wood finish for design. For paint, I bought one gallon of Dutchboy interior latex paint in base white satin finish – you can do a semi or full gloss for a shiny, fresh look, but I knew I wanted matte for a more modern farmhouse look.

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Over three weekends, I painted three coats on all the cabinets and gave ample time to dry. I noticed some chipping of the paint in areas that were not dry enough after 24 hours and using the kitchen, which meant touch ups. The great part about this paint choice was that I used the exact same gallon to paint the ceiling.

THE HARDWARE

After leaving the last coat for 24 hours, I drilled holes and installed the hardware. I searched all types of hardware stores and online retailers, and struggled to find handles I loved that were simple and modern, but gave a home-like rustic touch. I stumbled upon this set at Target of all placed while looking for wall hooks, and even better, it was only $10 per pack of 6! That’s a complete steal when the average handle is $2-$3 each. $40 later and I scored them with extra to spare for possible use in a bathroom. Another great tip is to use a stencil to ensure your holes all line up. I used a basically right angle piece of paper with holes poked in it that lined up perfectly with the corner I wanted to install the hardware in so that the hardware was level and matching on all doors and drawers.

THE WALLS

For the walls in our entire main level, I opted for Dutchboy interior latex paint in century grey – it was just light enough for a subtle touch of grey and a small touch of beige so that our house didn’t look blue in the abundance of natural light we have. What I loved was that the paint not only included the primer, but really only needed one coat. Because the yellow underneath was so bold, I ended up putting a second coat in most areas just to make the color richer and eliminate any unwanted shading.

DÉCOR

Since the kitchen is small, I opted to go more simplistic. I moved all of the appliances we don’t use on a daily basis into a designated appliance cabinet, such as the toaster, blender and food processor. This freed a lot of a counter space and reduced clutter. I also added some fresh herb plants to provide extra flavor for cooking and a cute little sign to accent the one small wall we had in the room. The EAT sign originally hung in our kitchen, but was an equally complex design with wood and white diamond patterns like the cabinets, which wasn’t the most flattering. Using the same cabinet paint, I easily transformed them into something to match. I also bought a new track light to hang versus the dome light to offer a lot more directional light to capture some dark corners where the dome and natural light didn’t reach. I also made sure that it was an oil-rubbed bronze to match the cabinet hardware and other accent pieces in the living room and dining room.

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In the dining room, these wonderful lavender sconces were handmade simply with a saw tooth mounting kit and hooks, a piece of shiplap from the hardware store’s old wood bin, some stain (already had in the garage), and two small hanging pots I found on clearance at Michael’s. With a  little creativity, I made something perfectly rustic and farmhouse modern!

BUDGET AND TIME

Overall, the project was only $200 to complete with about 4 weekends of labor, each using about 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday: one to paint the walls and three to paint the cabinets.

Paint – Two gallons @ $20 per gallon (after sale and rebate from Menards) = $40
Hardware – Four boxes @ $10 each (Target) = $40
Lighting = $25 (Menards)
Décor – Plants, mirror and other = $95 (Lowe’s, Home Goods)

Next up, I cant wait to reveal our living room which is a work in progress!

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Home, Style

Upgrading Your Outdated Furniture For Under $40

Interior design and personal styles grow faster than our pocketbooks can keep up with! My style is always evolving and my home struggles to keep up with it. After moving in together a few years ago and recently being married, settling into and making our house a home was never a priority with mismatched furniture, random collections of stuff and storage nightmares. Over the last month, I’ve slowly been cleaning out the old and organizing the kept items. We’ve hit a point where we can begin putting together OUR style and making our home something comfortable and loving. Since we do have such mismatch, garage sale furniture, I took $40 to the hardware store to make our bedroom style complete with two redesigned nightstands!

We already owned the two nightstands – one from my childhood bedroom set and the other from a garage sale that a family member just couldn’t pass up and eventually passed on to us. Both solid wood with average wear and tear from years of use, but there was nothing detrimental to the design or use. I removed the knobs that came with the furniture and gave it a light sand with an electric hand sander to remove some of the sharp, chipped edges and normal wear. It also helped the paint stick better to the wood.

I knew I wanted to repaint them to fit our comfortable, rustic style with a twist of modern, and did some research on the best options. Since I wasn’t looking for glossy, I went with the Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint in Aged Grey (they offer a variety of matte colors, like blush, navy, dark grey and more) with the coordinating matte clear coat to protect the surface and chalk from wear. Using this paint, the top coat is essential if you don’t want wear since chalk paint is designed to wear overtime to look rustic and aged. For the two nightstands, knowing I would need at least three coats to cover color and design, I bought three cans of color and one top coat, each being $6 to $7.

After two coats of paint and one touchup coat of paint, I was satisfied with the coverage, but some may wish for another full coat for a more even look. Each coat was applied after an hour of the prior coat, so the painting process only took about 2.5 hours. Since it was a spray paint and not the traditional canned version you would use with a brush, the coats were more even and streak free. I let them both dry overnight and applied two light coats of clear the next day.

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Once the nightstands were completely dry, I added the knobs I purchased to match from the hardware store. These worn brass knobs were at the hardware store for $3 each but clearanced for $1.27! For eight knobs, I saved almost $14 by looking at the clearance section first and finding exactly what I was looking for.

All in, I spent a total of $37.36 plus tax at the hardware store and completely changed the way our bedroom felt! This overnight trick is an easy weekend project and can mix up your style. See below for full directions and leave your comments on your favorite DIY hacks to update your home!

MATERIALS
  • 2-3 cans of chalk paint
  • 1 can of top coat paint
  • Drop cloth (to prevent paint on floor or surfaces)
  • Knobs (varies)
  • Screwdriver
  • Base coat (may be required for brightly colored or designed surfaces)
  • Sandpaper or electric sander with paper
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Place furniture on drop cloth to prevent floor staining. Remove knobs from drawers and sand all painted surfaces to remove rough spots and damage. Dust furniture and wipe with a mildly wet cloth to remove remaining residue and dust.
  • Pull drawers out slightly in a stagger to paint edges of drawer. Apply base coat lightly (if necessary) and let dry.
  • Apply chalk paint lightly on all surfaces of the furniture, giving adequate amounts of time for drying (Rust-Oleum recommends an hour between coats or 24 hours). Apply two to three coats until coverage is even and surface is covered.
  • If you are interested in distressing the paint, lightly use sandpaper or the electric sanders on corners or areas you would like to distress. If you mess up, apply more paint and let rest for at least 24 hours before sanding again.
  • Let furniture dry completely before applying top coat. Lightly apply top coat over painted surfaces and reapply after 1 hour or 24 hours. Apply two to three coats to prevent wear.
  • Let furniture dry 24 hours. Insert desired knobs and decorate!
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Holiday, Home, Life, Life and Marriage, Marriage

My Ultimate Rules to Planning the Perfect Celebration

It’s the holidays, which means so many things: holiday dinners, New Year’s brunches and even the start to engagement season! Those who know me best know that I am a bit of a wedding and party planning nerd. I love creating an environment down to the smallest details with fun and excitement to make the best experience possible. Having just spent two years planning the perfect celebration, I’m excited to share my favorite tips and tricks that can be applied to any event, no matter how big or small.

Base Everything on the Guest Experience

This is the number one thing people forget when planning an event. It may be an event totally about you, like a wedding, but you’re really hosting it for your guests to enjoy, so make sure every aspect reflects that. From table settings to decor and fun, every detail truly matters in the guest experience. People truly care about a few things: is the food good, will they have fun and will they be comfortable. If they answer all three of these questions with a yes before they go, when they’re there and when they leave, then they’ll be loyal attendees to every one of your parties going forward.

Make Sure the Event Flows

There’s nothing worse than being a wedding with huge downtime where it’s neither eating time nor dancing time. That’s when events get awkward and people begin to think about leaving. Ensure that you keep the party moving with a set schedule of events. It’s OK to verge from the plan if the vibe of the event changes, so flexibility is key, but little things like making sure dinner is served on time will help your guests from starving and complaining. Keep the party going with planned music, fun games and special features, like fireworks at you New Year’s Eve bash.

Sarah & Jeff's Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms Wedding

Keep a Consistent Theme and Style

To many people find themselves trying to do too much to plan an event, but the less the better. Sure, a ton of decorations work for a Christmas party, but they shouldn’t take away from the comfort of the event and they should fit the style of the event – you wouldn’t have kid-theme decor at an adult’s only holiday shindig. Same goes for the big events like weddings. You want the style to reflect you, and keeping it consistent helps to set the expectation. For our wedding, we kept a simple color palette of three major colors – navy, ivory and gold – to ensure that the room didn’t look overly crowded with different decor.

Let the Venue Speak for Itself

Many people often choose a empty, blank-slate venue to build everything up, but finding a venue that speaks for itself helps to reduce the stress (and price tag) of decorating. The uniqueness of venues available are growing, from barns to breweries and hotel ballrooms, any type of event can fit in any space if the style fits. It would be difficult to host a royal wedding in a small barn when a ballroom is the best fit. Finding the perfect venue exists, and finding one to fit the flow and style of your event is crucial to its success.

 

 Be Thoughtful in All Aspects of the Event Planning Process

Every time you make a decision there are a few questions you should ask yourself: Does this fit the style of the event? Will this fit in the flow of the event? Will my guests enjoy it/will it add to the guests experience? Is this a waste of time or money?

These are crucial to decision making. For our big day, we opted to not do the traditional wedding favor, and worked in smaller enhancements to make it memorable. When it came to price and time, ordering favors could be consuming: roughly $1 per person times 100 to 150 people adds up really fast, plus time to assemble and transport seemed quite exhausting. Instead, we opted to pick up a few cigars from the local shop, a handful of $1 cutters from Amazon and a small pack of custom matches to feature a mini cigar bar – something my husband and all of his friends loved!

We used the remaining balance from our favors budget to set up a mini lemonade stand at the ceremony for guests who arrived early with a light refreshment in the late summer warmth. It was such a hit and people loved the idea of pre-cocktail tasters to keep themselves from getting parched during our 35-minute outdoors ceremony.

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Home, Shopping

First Look: Hearth & Hand with Magnolia x Target

Target is infamous for bringing high end design to an affordable price with a twist. Chip and Joanna Gaines planned their Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection launch just perfectly, in time for holiday cheer and dinner parties. Together, this collection is clearly something in the market bringing farmhouse modern to an affordable price without a full Fixer Upper reveal.

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Products and Shelving

Most stores had a large display – unfortunately the one in my area was a lot lighter when it came to making a presence in the store and was pushed aside with the modern decor section, making it hard to distinguish the brand from Target branded items.

The actual product line was wonderful – Some of the items seemed familiar to other stores, but made at a more reasonable price for shoppers. The patterns were classic with a modern, simplistic twist, and they did a great job of carrying the patterns across multiple items and mediums. My favorites were the stockings since they weren’t the traditional, cheesy red and green, and were made with diverse, quality fabrics.

Also, the wreaths! I was dying at how unique they are. I was just telling some people the other day how hard it is to find a seasonal wreath that isn’t pine or needles. These are just flawless for the alternative holiday celebration that is more modern and less traditional. I also love the pattern diversity – each one is very different and not traditional holiday styles. A special shout-out to the cookie cutters and ornaments that bring modern into all aspects of the design.

What I Bought

I tried so hard not to go crazy – I really wanted one of everything! But I went for things I really needed. We recently were gifted a new beautiful set of white china with gold trim from West Elm (almost identical to the plates in the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection) and found beautiful striped napkins and pot holders to accompany them. Additionally, I purchased an antique gold framed ornament – Every year in our house, we buy a photo ornament to capture a moment we were grateful for this year on our tree, and this gold ornament was just perfect to match our wedding photo since we used similar gold accents in our wedding.

I loved the two sizes of pot holders ($5.99) since they matched the napkins and had a leather accent hanging loop. The napkins ($9.99) came in a set of four, perfect for a dinner party in our small dining room. Overall, I am thrilled at the quality of the products and am interested in seeing how their longevity holds.

Final Thoughts

I was a little disappointed by the way my local Target handled the launch – there was minimal public relations and they put it in the back corner between the modern decor section and grocery. I would definitely invest in more of the collection in the future! The collection is a nine out of ten, but the customer experience was closer to a seven.

Overall, I am surprised by the diversity of seasonal products and am excited to see what each season holds for this collection. Most pieces are perfectly transitional through multiple seasons, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wasting your money on something you can only use for a few weeks per year.

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