Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Playroom - III

It looks like the sun is FINALLY going to make an appearance today!! The past week has felt more like April than June with the cold and rain... but with all the time spent indoors, I've come up with a few new projects that I'm excited to get started on.

Today, I'm going to share the last of the playroom update photos and I'll also show you how to incorporate kids' art, toys and projects into a space that is both kid and adult friendly. 

Here's the overall look of the playroom. We added color, pattern and texture to build a playful vibe into the space. As you can see in the photo, I included family photos and artwork that hold special meaning for us. Matting and framing the kids' paintings elevates the look. 

I made sure to balance the heaviness of the gallery wall with a few smaller pieces on the opposite end of the room. This allows your eye to follow the art along the entire length of the wall rather than just falling flat after the gallery wall. 

The nice thing about the framed paintings is that we're able to easily switch them out as the boys create new things.

Here is a paint-your-own frame my son colored with markers then sprayed with water for a faded effect. We found an old sketch of the boys from a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese that fit perfectly within the heart opening and figured, why not? Look through what you already have and find ways to incorporate those things you enjoy into your decor. Anything goes!

This frame had no hooks or wire for hanging, so I simply used command strips. Super easy and no damage to the wall if we ever choose to relocate the frame.

What about toys?? There is a way to display them in your space without it looking cluttered, I promise. We have SO many toys, so I like to choose a few that are either interesting shapes or colors, toys that are difficult to store, or something the boys have created. The rest are contained in the storage bins. The trick is to edit it down to a handful of toys that actually add something (a pop or color, texture, pattern, etc.) to the space. 

I don't know about you, but in my house if someone builds something out of Legos or Tinkertoys, it needs to be displayed. If it were up to the boys, these builds would never be disassembled, but then we'd have none left to play with. So we give it a special spot for a bit. The Lego creation above is a transportation station that can travel by air, land or sea. I love to encourage creativity and imagination by displaying things like this for a short period of time. Then we start fresh with something new.

There are always those bulky toys that are difficult to contain. Personally, I don't want to look at every ride-on toy we have, so I created a little niche behind the couch where these are parked. Hidden from view, but easy to access when the boys want to play with them.

This is another little vignette... a wicker basket (I used to put my toys in this as a kid) that holds sports equipment (soccer balls, footballs, mini hockey sticks, rackets, etc.), a dump truck containing a collection of balls (we like to have indoor snowball fights with these), a couple favorite plush toys that add some color, and hanging above is my son's take on Monet's Water Lilies. 

This piece is one of my favorites. When he brought it home, I told him it reminded me of a famous Monet piece. He replied, "I know, Mom." When I flipped it over a few days later to place it in the frame, I saw "Clawd Monay" written on the back and loved it even more. Little things like that make your space feel all the more special to you because of those kinds of connections.

I love the fact that this room is infused with color and just feels happy. It's a great place to play and create. It reflects the kid's imaginations, but is also a fun place for us to be, as adults, with favorite memories and mementos on display. I'm not gonna lie, it's not always this neat and tidy because we do actually use this room a lot. If you look closely, you'll see that there's a bin missing in this photo since the boys were doing a Lego build upstairs while I made dinner (bins make it easy to tote toys to other rooms as well). There's a designated place for everything... and all it takes is a quick clean up. 

Enjoy the sunshine!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Playroom - II

Hi there! I hope you all had a nice holiday weekend. It was a bit grey here, but perfect weather for the surprise project I completed for my son while he was on a special father-son camping trip. I'll be sharing that soon, but for now, let's get back to the playroom...

Last time, I showed you the new aqua paint and the gallery wall. Today, I want to share some more of the space and talk about color and pattern mixing. I'm going to bounce around a bit today to show you some comparisons regarding the way that color works.

Like here. This is right after we painted the walls (pre gallery wall) and started to put the room back together. You'll notice that this wall color changes quite a bit with varying lighting throughout the day. The first thing you see in this photo is the storage unit. The turquoise bins are the strongest element in the room at this point and definitely dominate the space and even wash out the wall color a bit.

Since this room is mainly for the boys, I let them choose the color of the storage cubes. They selected this bright turquoise, so it was important to find a way to keep them, but tone them down a bit. The answer? More color! Sounds a little crazy, but bear with me.

We did this in a few ways. The first was to create our gallery wall using a mix of color and finishes to balance the strong color and geometric pattern of the storage bins. Now, there is not just one point of saturated color. It is seen throughout and just feels better.

One thing that I would love to change is the light fixture on the ceiling. I'd love some sort of shade or pendant to add some whimsy... Maybe a good project idea for me and the boys to tackle?

Next, we added more storage bins to fill all the cubes. We toned down the punches of color with navy and blue-green colored cubes.

And of course, the chevron rug plays a huge part in the balancing act. See the first picture in this post again to compare. This rug used to be in a bedroom, but the colors were perfect for the playroom, so we relocated it. I had this rug in mind when selecting the additional navy and green cubes.

The nice thing about having a patterned rug here is that it hides any stains and protects the carpet underneath. I don't know about you, but my kids are constant snackers and definitely not the neatest eaters. This rug hides a multitude of sins. In layering pattern and color, we were able to create a cohesive, balanced space. Sometimes more is best.

Another way to infuse texture and color into your space is with throw pillows and blankets. This is my weakness. If I could buy all the pillows, I would. The pillow aisle at Homegoods is dangerous. Before purchasing any new pillows to throw into our existing mix, I decided that I wasn't going to spend much, since they'd most likely take a beating. I needed pillows that could withstand my kids, so indoor/outdoor pillows seemed like the best choice.

Always keep your eyes peeled for a deal everywhere you go. Sometimes the best things show up in unexpected places. The pillows I added here are from Walmart and Aldi. I happened upon them and snagged them because the price couldn't be more right. The multicolored geometric-patterned pillows were $3 each and the palm frond pillows were $5! It really doesn't get better than that, and I actually really love them!

Here, you can see how I layered different patterns and colors together to create an interesting mix. In order to achieve this kind of look, you need to find a common theme. One way to do that is through color. Choose a few colors and stick with that palette. You can always add a wild card in a complementary color. I chose greens, blues and coral. The animal print is my wild card because it strays from the main palette, but in my mind animal print acts as a neutral and always works.

Another way to create a pattern mix is through a specific style or vibe... Mine is an exotic, beachy feel. Think geometric, animal and organic prints for this type of look. You want to choose patterns in varying sizes to create some tension, otherwise your mix falls flat. The palm frond pattern is on the large side, the animal print a smaller scale, and the geometric is somewhere in the middle. 

Don't forget art! I fell in love with this pineapple canvas when I spotted it at Target. It was originally intended for my bathroom makeover, but the colors and pattern couldn't be more perfect for this room. It mimics the pattern and colors in the geometric pillows and is just so happy!

I'm loving all things pineapple right now. The pineapple is a symbol of warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality. I love the sentiment and it's exactly the vibe I want for our playroom. You'll be spotting more pineapple decor pieces in posts to come...

Look for part III in this series where I'll discuss how to incorporate kids' art, toys and projects into your decor to create a space that is reflective of both the kids and adults who enjoy it.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Playroom - I

Hi Everyone!! I'm finally tackling the playroom post! This room is definitely still a work in progress, but it's getting close to what I envisioned when I set out with this makeover. There are a few different topics I want to address regarding this space, so I'm going to break this post down into 3 parts. I would LOVE to just skip to the pretty parts at the end, but it makes more sense to go chronologically.

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about choosing color and also how to make a fun gallery wall suitable for kids. Because this is the boys' play area, I wanted to infuse it with color and fun. The original wall color was a pale aqua, It was pretty, but felt so washed out among all the vibrant colors of the boys' toys.

I always tend toward blues and greens, the boys too, so we decided to go with a more saturated version of the existing wall color. 

You can see the difference here. Just a few shades darker and it makes a huge difference. It feels more cheerful already.

Here are the toys piled in the center of the room while we paint. You can already see that the new color balances the brights of the toys.

The color also works well off of the colors in our living room, so all the rooms flow color-wise. I love to combine citron, green-blues and coral. You'll see those tones throughout our home. Those are my happy colors. It's important to choose colors that speak to you. That way, your space feels comforting, happy, relaxing, etc., to you. You live in this space and it should reflect that. 

That's as much as I'll show of the wall color. Now, let's talk about gallery walls...

I've posted about gallery walls before. I love collections of art, photos, mirrors, crafts and objects displayed on the wall. While there are many ways to tackle a gallery wall, I've come to find that I personally prefer a more abstract placement, rather than lining everything up in a neat square. I think that both ways are great for different applications and personalities. Again, this is about your preference, so do what appeals to you.

As far as our playroom gallery wall goes, it made the most sense to me to place things in an organized random way to reflect the fact that it's a childrens space. It feels more laid back and fun, which is exactly the vibe we're going for. 

The first thing I did was gather favorite paintings and photos to choose what was going on the wall. I chose a beach photo from a recent family trip to Disney, another from the pond at camp, and the last is a blurred-out photo of my boys and I walking hand-in-hand on the beach. This last photo probably wouldn't be a first choice for some because it's fuzzy and blown out with lights, but it's one of my absolute favorites - a great memory. 

Once I narrowed it down, I ordered a few large-format framed prints from Snapbox. Those are the white frames shown below. I grabbed a few favorite pieces of canvas art we already had, and I also gathered old frames I had in the basement for some of our artwork. Some of the paintings were done by the boys and one is a snippet of text from a favorite bedtime story. Everything has a special meaning to us.

Once I had everything in frames, I placed them on the floor to figure out a basic layout (among toys, shoes and laundry, naturally).

Next, I got to work putting these animal plaques together. These were a score from the discount bins at Target. I always scope out that section when I walk in. You never know what gem you'll find, but you know that it'll always be priced right. 

The plaques were perfect for our gallery wall. They add whimsy, color, and some dimension. 

These guys were so easy to put together and add such a pop of color and pattern to the wall. The boys love them. 

Seriously, how fun are these plaques?!

My next step was to begin hanging the frames. I started with the bottom center and worked my way up and out. 

Nothing was measured, I just placed everything as I went and eyeballed it. 

A picture hanging kit comes in handy for a project like this. These hanging hooks are great for anything with a tab or wire.

And voila! Here's the finished (sort of... you'll see what I mean in a post to follow) gallery wall. I love the mix of our favorite things placed randomly on the wall. The mix of frame shapes and finishes adds to the feeling that it's a collection gathered over time and feels relaxed. It's nice to be surrounded by little reminders of our favorite people, places and things.

Next time, I'll be talking about how to incorporate kids art, toys and projects into a play space that also works for adults... Stay tuned! 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Closet Game Changer

Happy Saturday!! I don't know about you guys, but I am loving this warm weather. Yesterday was like insta-summer and it felt long overdue. Luckily, I just switched my clothes over for the season, so I was prepared. I always say that I'm going to get rid of things when I do the switch, but ultimately end up keeping more than I'd like. Do you switch your clothes over for spring/summer and fall/winter? Our house most definitely lacks closet space, so I don't have much of a choice.

Speaking of closets, I came across a game-changing article from Glamour yesterday. How's that for perfect timing? You can read it here. Or just stick with me and I'll break it down for you.

This is a 20-minute hack that will help you pare down your wardrobe and show you what you need to donate. No more agonizing over what to keep and what to get rid of. Sounds great, right? I decided to try it myself. This is our current closet.

As you can see, my husband and I split it. He's handy, so we created this tiered hanging system to get the most out of the space we have (not much!). We removed the dated, bi-fold closet doors that came with the house in favor of a curtain to allow us to easily access the entire space. We did this in all the bedrooms in our home. This way, we can use every inch surrounding the closet and naturally have... clothes hamper, bag hook, rarely used yoga mat. I still need to do something with my wedding gown and post-wedding dress hanging on the top left, but we'll save that for another day.

Back to the hack. Most likely, your hangers are currently facing this direction, with the open part facing the back of the closet. I have way too much crammed in here, so it will be nice to gain some room.

Now, you'll want to reverse the direction of all your hangers with the opening facing you, like this.

This already looks SO much better to me with the hangers neatly lined up. I guess I'm an organization nerd. 

Just dress as usual. When you rehang a piece, make sure the hanger opens toward the back again like the light blue and lilac hangers here. 

Revisit your closet in 6 months or a year (or whatever time frame makes sense to you) and pull anything with a hanger facing you. Read: pieces you haven't worn at all. 

I will say that there are some exceptions to this rule. If there are any special occasion pieces (not everyday clothing) that you'll wear for an event, keep. Or if you have something that just feels really special, keep. 

For example, I bought this dress for myself full price at the Guess store in Las Vegas (splurge!) on a girls' trip years ago with the intent of wearing it there. My friends and I didn't end up going out our last night because we were exhausted (the Vegas effect), so it's never been worn. 

I still love this dress, so she's staying. The delicate open weave combined with this color combo and chevron pattern is boho-chic heaven. Someday it will be worn. Girls' trip, anyone?

Only allow this type of keep for a select few items. This is my only sentimental keep so far.

In doing this, I also found some pieces I'd forgotten about. This camisole is a closet staple. How pretty is the button-and-bow detailing?

I also rediscovered this deco-patterned, stud-detailed vest, which I think I'll add to my spring rotation. 

This closet hack is a great way to take the guesswork out of paring down your wardrobe. It also helps you to rediscover old pieces that you can incorporate into your current looks. 

How easy is this and why haven't I done this sooner?? We'll revisit this in a few months to see my donate pile. You can keep me accountable.

Stay tuned for another room update and have a fantastic weekend!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Don't Call It A Comeback

Hey guys! I don't know why, but every time I go to write a post title, song lyrics pop into my head. They really do sum things up so nicely.

So it's been... a while. I looked at the date of my last post and couldn't believe so much time had passed. Life definitely got in the way for a bit, but I'm back and I've got things to share. 

Since last time, I've made some updates and tackled a few rooms. I just need to photograph the progress. Read: I need to clean, so I can continue to pretend that my home is always neat and tidy. 

I've decided that I'm going to start including some posts other than my personal projects... think delish recipes, places I'd love to visit, great art, where to shop a look, etc. Basically, things I like and think are worth sharing with you. If you have any design-related questions or if there are things you'd like to see, let me know.

Today, I'm going to show a few updates on our living/dining/work area. This was what the space looked like the last time I shared.

This is what it looks like now.

The tangerine panels are probably the most noticeable difference. I was craving more color for spring/summer and these definitely deliver. Coral tones can be found throughout the living/dining area and I liked the idea of bringing a swath of coral to this end of the space to add balance.

In front of the back window, you'll see a filing cabinet which used to sit to the left of my desk. Since I needed room for my Stella and Dot business materials, this filing cabinet had to scoot over. 

This isn't a permanent home, but until I find one, it works. I did style it, so it feels like it belongs and doesn't look like an afterthought.

While we're talking about styling, here are a few of my favorite tips:
  • Rule of 3: Grouping objects in odd numbers of quantity, primarily groups of 3 for small groupings, creates visual tension as well as a feeling of balance.
  • Vary heights: Choose objects of varying size and height for interest.
  • Color: Choose complementary colors that refer back to the accents in the space.
  • Books: They add height, frame the grouped objects, and add personality and color.
  • Form and function: Choose pieces that you use, have meaning to you or that you simply love to look at (like my shell above). 
  • Flowers: You can't go wrong with fresh blooms.
If you refer back to my update photo, you'll also see a glimpse of this teal green mid-century dresser near the dining table (it used to live in my son's room, as you can see in the photo below). I move things around a lot to fit our changing needs (or just because I feel like it). 

Since my boys have started to accumulate lots of stuff; board games, arts and crafts projects and materials, puzzles, etc., I wanted a place to put it all away. I like our living room to look like a family space, just not overrun with toys. Hence, the relocation of the dresser.

In my constant quest for color, I immediately fell in love with having this piece in our living space, not to mention all the storage it offers! It pops against the pear green wall and fits in perfectly with the other green accents. This is the same color I used on our roman numeral staircase, which is just opposite the dresser. 

Here's a vignette on top of the dresser. 

I like to continue vignettes to the wall if possible and similarly group photos, art or mirrors that coordinate with the styling of the flat surface to gain a greater sense of height and depth.

Here, books make a great pedestal for a bowl of collected seashells. This is a collection of favorite children's books, both mine and my boys'. The stone elephant bookend frames everything nicely and adds a little whimsy. Placing your things at varying depths creates interest and allows your eye to travel around the grouping.

The best part is this update cost nothing. Everything you see was plucked from a different part of the house. If you need a refresh, take a look at what you have at home, move things around and create new combinations. Sometimes it's as simple as grabbing a group of your favorite things to create a vignette that reflects your family. I love to display my kids' artwork and projects to make our space feel like us. 

Stay tuned to see my other projects... you can expect pops of color, as always.

Monday, June 6, 2016

So You Want to Paint Some Furniture...

Hi everyone! I hope you're all enjoying the warm weather and sunshine, I know I am!!

Last time, I posted a 3-part series on the new-to-us Plum Brown pedestal dining table I refinished. I promised a how-to/what not to do follow up (funny story below) and I'm just now getting around to writing it. 

Since last time, I've (almost) finished our playroom and added another pretty big item to my to-do list. Apparently caring for 2 boys, refinishing furniture and tackling projects around the house, and writing a design blog, along with my usual stay-at-home mom duties, wasn't enough.

At the end of April, I signed on to become a Stella & Dot Stylist! For those of you who don't know about Stella & Dot, it's a fab line of jewelry and accessories available mainly through in-home trunk shows. 

I've been obsessed with Stella & Dot for a few years now and have been toying with the idea of becoming a stylist probably for just as long. There was a great sign-on promotion that I couldn't pass up, so I took the plunge. You can see my Stella & Dot display on our table here. Check out my personal website to see more:

It's going so great, even better than I could've imagined, and is a perfect job for me as a SAHM and also someone who loves design, color and texture, since a lot of the same principles apply. Anyway, that's what I've been up to and why it's taken me so long to get to this post.

Getting back to the table... We're really loving it! We have so much more room and it makes such a difference. My original plan was to keep the leaf out to save space for everyday, but I doubt that it's ever coming out! With the table pushed up against the window, we can easily seat 5 with room to spare, and there's so much more space to stretch out for projects, crafts and cooking with the kids.

I loved giving the pedestal table I found a new look. There's something so rewarding in taking something and reworking it to fit your space, and a sense of pride in seeing and using the finished product on a daily basis. 

As far as painting your own furniture piece, here is some advice based on what I learned in completing my own project...

1. Pick a piece that you really love. You're going to be spending a lot of time with this particular piece of furniture. If you don't love it, don't bother. Between sanding, (possibly) priming, painting and applying a clear coat (if necessary), you'll log in some hours. The ball-and-claw pedestal legs were what sold me on this table. 

2. Invest in an orbital sander. When I started this project, we didn't own one. Luckily, my husband is pretty handy and saw the value of investing in a sander. He's loyal to Ridgid and surprised me with their orbital sander to make my job a lot easier. You can see the difference between hand sanding and using the orbital sander below. The difference in the finish is pretty dramatic and it makes the job go so much faster. Be sure to clean and dry the piece after sanding to remove any dust before applying your paint. Nothing wrong with girls loving jewelry and power tools.

3. Choose the correct paint for functionality. For my dining table, I went with an indoor/outdoor enamel. I needed something strong since this table will be used daily and will more than likely have things thrown at it. We get a lot of flying sippy cups at my house.

4. Use the correct tools to apply your paint. If you're not sure what to use, ask a salesperson at your local hardware store. A foam roller with no nap is what I used to get a smooth finish. 

5. Apply your paint in ONE direction only. This is probably the most important part of painting the piece to ensure that you don't see paint application lines on the surface. I figured this one out on my own and you can really see the difference in the finished product.

6. Depending on the use of your refinished piece, you may want to apply a clear coat. For anything that is going to take some abuse, I would recommend applying a few coats of polycrylic. Some may say this isn't necessary, especially with the enamel paint, but after logging in hours on a project, I'd like to know that it's properly protected from the wrath of my kids. 

Polycrylic is a great choice because it doesn't yellow over time and will only slightly, if at all, deepen the paint color. It is water based, easily brushed on and doesn't emit strong fumes. Gently stir the polycrylic to mix, never shake, or you'll create air bubbles. 

When applying polycrylic, you want to brush on a thin coat in one direction, just like the paint. Get a good quality brush for this application. Then you take your brush and very lightly brush over the completed surface (without reapplying polycrylic), in the same direction again, to remove any air bubbles. 

My last tip, and also where the funny story I promised earlier begins... 

7. Do NOT hold the can of polycrylic in your hand while applying to your piece of furniture. Normally I would never hold a can in one hand while painting with the other. Normally I would use a tray so that I wouldn't be contaminating the can. Normally I wouldn't be applying a clear coat to a piece of furniture in my actual dining room at 11pm. But everything normal went out the window at the end of this project because I just wanted my table done. 

I'm sure you can guess what happened next... After I carefully and meticulously brushed my last coat of polycrylic onto a section of the table, I dropped the can. It was like a slow-motion scene in a movie. The can literally bounced off the table, into the air, slammed down onto the section of the table that I had just finished, and splashed all over it and my dining room floor. My immediate reaction was to exclaim, "OHMIGOD, OHMIGOD, OHMIGOD!!!!" Once the initial shock wore off, I ran for the paper towels. 

Because polycrylic is water based, it actually cleans up pretty easily. It also dries pretty quickly, so I knew I had to work fast to fix my blunder. I mopped up the floor as fast as I could and immediately went over my once-perfect section once more. Somehow I fixed it and managed to get away with this one... 

No one was the wiser the next morning and our new table makes the room. 

Look for my next post on our updated playroom... as always, more color coming your way soon!