Sunday, June 23, 2013



When a project seems overwhelming, take a micro-step, which is even smaller than a babystep...

And if you are taking steps toward the beach, even better!!!!! That's where we are headed for the next week.  :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lighten Up!

One of the things my client/friend and I are going to be talking about when we meet is how to lighten up some of the spaces in her new home. I feel like there are so many good options for making a space feel lighter & brighter! Here is a quick overview...

Choose light colors
I know this one is the most obvious. White or light colored walls and furniture have the biggest impact on how bright a room feels.

Elizabeth Metcalfe via Live Simply by Annie

Mostly bright whites with a hit of contrast like this pop of bright color or a darker wood tone can also make a room feel much brighter. And it avoids making the space seem washed out.

Style at Home
How things feel has an important effect on the lightness & brightness of a room, too. This element can be brought in through the accessories, window treatments, and floor coverings.

White, light-weight curtains take your eye right to the source of light: the windows.

At Home Arkansas via Mix and Chic
The sisal stair runner radiates light up from the floor.
With Love from Kat
And when all else fails, mirrors! Mirrors bounce the light around a room better than anything else. I'm excited to see what this new house has to offer and to see what we come up with!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kicking Off the Week

Happy Monday everyone! The weather here in Michigan is bee-yoo-ti-full today! I went for a walk downtown earlier and everyone was smiling at each other. Birds were singing. It's summer!

So far I am surviving my week without Griffin and Bela. We'll see them tomorrow for dinner, and then they come home after camp on Friday afternoon!

Phil and I went shopping at Costco this weekend, which always makes me want to have a party. The serving sizes are so huge!

And I shopped some more...

Target (or at least my store) has Nate Berkus and Threshold items on clearance. Now that I know our house is not our forever home, I'm totally re-thinking our design plan. Whatever I buy has to be something that stages well and that we'll move to the next house. Cozy pouf above? Clearance! Beautiful blue glass jug? Clearance, too.

Pottery Barn is having a 20% off sale on seemingly everything in the store. They don't, however, have any of their little paint chip books because they are switching partners from Benjamin Moore to Sherwin Williams, which I thought was Big News.

New Books
There are piles (PILES!) of stuff all over our house from my organizing. I traded one big bag of old, unloved books this weekend for some favorites. While hunting the basement I found lots of old pictures frames for new projects and some big stones that have been eluding me for months.

Stones for my next project.
I am 36% of the way through Mockingjay, the third and final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy. And I have two biographies to pick up from our local library: one on Grace Kelly and the other about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

U-pick strawberries opened on Friday at the farm near our house but alas I haven't been out there yet to get some, and I really need a batch because I ran out of my favorite jam.

Phil and I got to have a lunch date today. Our first now that we only work a few minutes from each other. So fun to go out in the middle of the day and all dressed up fancy!

I'm working with a client/friend later this week on some ideas for her new house. I am so excited! It's going to be fun!

Yesterday I talked on the phone with my dad for Father's Day. I have such a great dad that it's no wonder why I want Griffin and Bela to have a close relationship with theirs. And the reason I am so lucky in love now is that I found someone just like my dad in Phil.

Hope your week is off to a fantastic start!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Comfy Seat

A few years ago the brilliant brains at MIT, Harvard, and Yale published a study that showed when people sit on a soft cushioned chair they are more generous whereas a hard wooden chair makes them more strict. I read this in Bruce Feiler's book The Secrets of Happy Families which has a ton more provocative tidbits like this and is written in an engaging way.

For sure I like the look  of a soft cushioned seat at the table. In particular, I like banquettes. A banquette is defined as a long upholstered bench, sometimes built-in, often against a wall.

This is a nice built-in version of a banquette from Better Homes & Gardens with a mix of hard and soft seats.

Proving you don't need to have carpentry skills to have a banquette is this inspiring room from Saffronia Baldwin. Even if you are not in love with the mint and orange color scheme, you can be inspired by the way they have pulled a small loveseat up to the table. In fact, someone in my mom's group was just giving away a little bench like this...

This little charmer from the One King's Lane blog is not against the wall or built-in. The nook also features a round table and hard-surfaced chairs that have been softened with throw pillows.

This banquette from Elle Decor features a leather seat, which is more easily washable in homes where messes are likely to occur. 

My #1 takeaway tip:

Spills happen! Make sure your fabric is washable. Besides leather or vinyl, outdoor fabrics like Sunbrella work great. You can even use a shower curtain to make your own cushion. And absolutely no tufting--they are the belly buttons of upholstered furniture!

For more dining room inspiration, check out my Pinterest board.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday I'm in Love: Real Estate

Recently I mentioned that one of my projects this summer would be prepping our house for sale. And probably a bunch of you went "What? They're moving?!" 

So here's the scoop... Our house is in a teensy village 20-30 minutes from the state capitol. Which means it is 20-30 minutes from my work, the kids' school, all of our friends, and now Phil's work, too.

I do love our house, and most of the time I don't mind the commute. Carrie-oke, anyone? But life would be so. much. easier if we lived where we live. Know what I mean?

The move--if it is to happen--is contingent upon selling our house. I have no idea how real estate does in our rural neck of the woods so that could be a stumbling block. Real estate is moving very quickly lately where we want to live. Lightning fast, really. Which could make finding our dream home a frustrating proposition.

But it's still so fun to look at houses online and to imagine what I would do to them if we got the keys.

At the tippy-top of the price range is this house. On the way to school and near friends, it's in a perfect location. I u-turned to see this house the other day, and I really think the exterior is more attractive than this pic represents. I also LOVE that the entry opens into its own area.
While I like the traditional exterior of this house, the neutral kitchen, and "wow" sunroom, I think this is one that Bela and I drove past the other day and vetoed. 

This is actually the second most expensive house in the list. It's in the most desirable neighborhood, in my opinion. But it's so darn funky. I don't know if you can really tell from these small photos but there's a lot of vibrant color in here, among other things. The window treatments in the dining room look like good quality, though, and the sunshine in the sunroom is divine.

The least expensive house in the line-up, I'm not sure where this house is; it's a neighborhood I am not familiar with. I would definitely do a room flip between the dining room & living room because I cannot stand the front door opening right into where I am relaxing.
This last one is mid-priced and a nice area but only two bedrooms (obviously a no-go!). The kitchen is crazy but I think I could work with it (maybe chalkboard paint on those white panels??). And I just love the sun porch.

By the time we list our house and get ready to buy, these houses will be long gone. But it's been a great exercise. Not only do we have a much better idea of what's available in our price range, I now know how much I like two-story traditionals, sunrooms, and formal entries.

What are your must-haves in a new home?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lilly Love: Life Lessons from Lilly Pulitzer

"Style isn't just about what you wear, it's about how you live."
Lilly Pulitzer

Until the Summer Style Soiree, I knew nothing about Lilly Pulitzer. Loving fashion, I am sure I would have eventually stumbled into one of her boutiques and fallen in love with her dresses. 

But I wouldn't necessarily have learned her story, and that would have been a shame! Lilly died this past April at age 81, but she lived exuberantly while she was on this earth.

Lilly Lessons

A wild pattern can cover a multitude of sins
Lilly designed her iconic shift dress to cover stains from her orange juice making business. Wildly patterned and brightly colorful, the dress kept her from looking messy. 

Shift dresses are simple & easy
Described as a cross between a muumuu and a chemise, Lilly's original shift dress was reportedly created to also cover her thickish mid-section (she'd had three babies) and exactly why I'm wearing one today too.

Make new friends but keep the old
Lilly rocketed to international fame when her friend from private school, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, wore one of her dresses in a photo for Life magazine in 1961.

Bring people together across social classes
Lilly may have been part of high society (her mother was part of the Standard Oil fortune and her first husband was heir to the Pulitzer publishing empire) but she was a free-spirited lover of people. She knew the housekeepers of all the fine homes in Palm Beach from delivering oranges. And threw dance parties in her kitchen.

Just because you're idle doesn't mean you can't be active
Lilly enjoyed the leisure activities of the idle rich: tennis, golf, and sailing. Perfectly acceptable ways to pass a summer's day, in my opinion.

Create perpetual summer through your warmth
When Lilly finally wrote a book, it was about entertaining. First, Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Entertaining and then A Guide to Colorful Holiday Entertaining. And threw dance parties in her kitchen!

Find your purpose
Lilly had a "nervous breakdown" as a young mother and was advised to find work to do. She began helping in her husband's orange groves, eventually opening a juice stand and creating her signature dress company.

For  more Lilly info:
"Palm Beach's Barefoot Princess", Vanity Fair. July 2003.
"It all started with a juice stand" Lilly

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Images of Summer

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves...I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. 
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Summer is the season to spend more time outdoors.

To relax yet get more done.

To plant something and see what happens.

To kick off our shoes

To use the back door.

To enjoy the wildness in our own backyard.

To eat marshmallows. 

And vegetables straight from the garden.

For paper plates under the umbrella.

And ending the night with smoke signals.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday I'm In Love: Dot & Bo

Is it just me or do flash sale websites seem more prolific than mosquitoes after a rain storm? Maybe the better analogy would be rainbows since you can find treasures that rival pots o' gold.

My new favorite is Dot & Bo, which I found earlier this week. Like other flash sale sites, if you join through me, I will get a referral credit. Then you invite your friends and you get credit! Win-win. :)

Here are a few of my favorite items that they are selling right now. Ten thousand stars at the top is this rocker. 

Similar looking to the classic Eames rocker, this one is much less expensive ($179.99 at Dot & Bo vs. $441.15--on sale--from Design Within Reach). I'd say that's a pretty good deal!

If color is more your thing you might like this selection of chairs...

And to round out the list, a few more best-sellers. {The table is part of the City Living Collection}

If you check out the sale, leave me a comment and let me know what you like from Dot & Bo! But be warned: like other flash sale sites, these deals won't last forever.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Reading List

Pinkalicious & Peter paper dolls dancing in a bowl of seashells

Tomorrow is the last day of school!

And to ensure that my little scholars don't lose all they've worked so hard to learn, I'm thinking about how to keep them reading this summer. I stocked up on books that they'll both like and have downloaded the forms for our local library's reading program. 

I am also hoping that by seeing me reading I'll be setting a good example. My stack of books includes fiction and nonfiction, Kindle and paperback. Some books I've had forever and are beloved old favorites; others are borrowed from the library.

First up is the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Phil and I read the first one together last year on vacation. We competed to finish the second one this spring (I lost), however, it ended so provocatively that I cannot wait to begin #3!

Michael Pollan's Food Rules should be interesting. A slim & straight-forward handbook for simple eating, I think that I'll get through it easily enough, and perhaps even be inspired to drop the Twinkie.

The rest of the books on the big pile include Jane Austen's Persuasion, Water for Elephants (finally), Forming Intentional Disciples (faith-based), Reading Lolita in Tehran, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (vintage copy!), and Happier at Home (again). 

I borrowed this gorgeous book from the library. It's an entertaining book (and a book about entertaining including recipes) written by the late fashion maven Lilly Pulitzer. I'll be joining up with the Style Soiree hosted by Southern State of Mind (and other bloggers) next week. They're the people who hosted the Kate Spade party last month.

An inside image from the Lilly Pulitzer book. Isn't the artwork so great?!

One more from the library... The way this author has approached the idea of creating a happy family by talking to experts in fields other than parenting is pretty awesome.

And to keep my little family happy, a few books for us to enjoy together.

Griff did a project on Ben Franklin this year and I absolutely loved learning more about him.

One of my all-time childhood favorites, I have just started reading The Secret Garden to Bela at bedtime. Although it's much more grim than I remember, I think she's enjoying it.

But now I'm off to watch the boob tube. :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Breathing Room

Remember when I wrote about clearing the kitchen counters here?

Well, I did it. Mostly.

The stand-up mixer is too heavy to keep moving back & forth. The bowl next to it is for fresh fruit, like bananas. The knives wouldn't fit in any drawer, and the small bowl next to that is used as a spoon rest when we're stirring something on the stove.

Since clearing the kitchen counters, it has felt easier to do the right thing when I am cleaning up. To not just leave the Cheerios on the counter, but to actually put them back in the pantry. Which was my goal with this little challenge.

Then I read about the Nester's 30-day no accessories challenge. No sweat, I thought, I'm not really an accessories gal. No tabletops full of trinkets in my house. 

Plus it might help with one of my summer goals: prepping our house for sale. When you get ready to move, you want to put away the family photos so your buyer can imagine themselves in your home.

So into the basement went books, throw pillows, and a lot more knickknacks than I realized we had. 

The stuff might be gone, but the color stayed. I just love this little reading nook! Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you what's on my summer reading list.


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