Office/Nursery Progress

We’ve got LESS than a month before we welcome this new little one into our world. There’s a TON we have left to do, not gonna lie. I’m working on sub plans for my maternity leave and generally trying to get a jump on things at work while juggling the usual tasks, trying to get ahead of any writing work I’d like to accomplish pre-baby, and, well, generally getting ready for the baby — name picking, analyzing what we may still need, etc.

But, one area that we’re trying the “slow and steady wins the race” motto out is our office/nursery; our “offisery,” if you will. It doesn’t need to be done immediately since the baby will be in our room with us for the first month or two (or more), but we realize that we won’t have the time to do it after the little one arrives. Plus, ticking things off of our “to do” list is always enjoyable.

So, most nights, we’ve been doing something *small* in the space. We started with a buttload of books, which we packed up except for the ones we always like to have available. (I’m talking about YOU, two copies of “Little Women”…you!) So, after finally emptying an entire 6-foot-tall bookshelf, we dragged that sucker down to the basement. Let’s call it additional storage, although we all know the cats prefer the term “jungle gym.”

Then, after vacuuming up a lifetime’s worth of dust, it was time to assemble our version of a changing table. As you may (or may not) remember, we repainted a free dresser to use for Hadman’s changing area when he was a baby. This time, we’re using one of the more heavy duty “cube storage” units from Target. It’s definitely thicker than the usual flimsy ones, so I feel more comfortable using this to support the little one. We also grabbed some feet to attach in case the height wouldn’t work and, of course, a few of the nicer cube boxes to up the fanciness quotient. If cube storage could be called “fancy.”

So, what’s left? Well, we already moved my desk out and the crib in, tossed down a big, fluffy, natural wool rug that I got from Rugs USA (seriously, cheapest high-quality rugs ever), and purged/boxed up tons of stuff we don’t need access to. Here’s where we’re left:

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– Obviously, um, declutter more. Lots of random pieces hanging around. And an extra chair. We’re still discussing the fate of the cat tree (yes, that ratty, scratched-up thing that my husband seems as attached to as any of the cats) and whether or not he can foresake the ugly office chair for a comfy, fits-an-office-AND-nursery-decor alternative. And, yes, we’ll be saying “see you in the next house!” to much of the comic art on the walls, which Dave’s been super good about. I just want to leave him with SOMETHING of his own…that doesn’t involve violent crime-fighting. Because, y’know, babies.

– Switch out some new wall art (which will involve some touch-up painting, ugh). I’m thinking of grabbing some canvases and a gold paint pen to do some DIY art, and I already picked up a bunch of swatches that I’ve ironed and chopped into fabric tassels for a wall hanging. But, yeah. Art.

– Floating shelves to the rescue. This is one of those “if we have the time/energy” things, but the floating shelves in Hadley’s room and our bathroom (seriously, how have I never showed you guys a final reveal for that space?!) are amazing, so we may do something similar above the changing area in this room. Plus, it’ll give us some more options for combining decor styles and a little extra storage. But, again, it’s not a “must-have” right now.

– Bring in the baby stuff! (sing to the Muppet Show theme song) “It’s time to strip the diapers, it’s time to clean the clothes!” So, I’ll be utilizing under-crib storage, which I’m in love with, for the “next sizes”, but otherwise keeping the newborn and 0-3 stuff at-hand as best as possible.

What do you guys think? I know we’re fighting an uphill battle with the color, ugly as heck rug, and, well, general officity (can that be a word? It should be) of it all, but this is FAR better than we were even a month ago. 🙂

Nursery Inspiration

We live in this tiny little sphere of the universe called Limbo. It’s a slightly unsettled, anxious place where the daily norm is that of the unknown. After you live there awhile, you find yourself adjusting to the feelings, and actually find calm in preparing for all the various “what if” scenarios that might unfold.

In other words, still no news on the house hunting front. There are other balls being juggled, too, that we’re figuring out, but that’s one of the biggest. So, with each week blowing by, closer and closer to the baby’s arrival in November, we’re pushing forward with any and all possibilities: in this case, turning our office into an office-slash-nursery (I kid not).

I’m hoping that whatever general scheme we go with for the space will fit swimmingly into a new place, should one pop up, as well.

See? Prepare for the future, in whatever possible incarnation it may be. 😉

That said, these are the two different mood boards I whipped up to decide between. We’re fighting a losing battle with an outdated, cheap diamond-patterned brown and tan carpet (which simply isn’t worth replacing with the crappy paint splatters someone left underneath) and, well, the fact that the place is also A (not large) OFFICE. Dave may or may not allow me to replace his fur-covered black office chair. (Beardslee sleeps on it during the day…and night…and forces Dave to abandon desk when he so pleases to use the damn thing. It’s hilariously sad to view.) But, dude, Mama needs a nursing spot, so we’ll see who wins this one. Admittedly, I used our bed the first time around which wasn’t always comfortable.

We also painted the walls when we first moved in and the color is neutral enough to help sell the house…even if it is a tad pink-ish for my taste. (It’s tan…but with a fleshy undertone, if that makes sense.) The background on these boards indicates a facsimile of the color. So, nope, we’re not painting!

So, check these out and weigh in down below (comments, please)! I’m not saying which has been floating in my head far more…so your results may have me in tears. Or not. I’m not THAT hormonal. Oh, and the inspiration colors will be accent colors that will work their way in as bedding, art, and possibly a painted furniture piece or something.


I don’t want to give either a “theme” because, well, then it turns into a whole thing. Like collecting. If you say you like one thing, the flood of “I know you like owls!” gifts begin…and continue 10 years past when you gave up on the things. So, no. But you can still guess the vibe I’m going for, right?

I’m loving the golden brass lately. If you told me I’d be into it 5 years ago, I’d have smacked you…or at least raised a cynical eyebrow. But, anyhoo, mixing it with the walnut tones we already have going on (with the crib, desk, and one bookcase…we have three, sigh) and neutrals gives some glam and texture to the space. Toss that with a deep green and fuhgetaboutit.

And, speaking of texture: can you say “DIY pouf”? Because that’s all my itchy Pinterest finger can peruse. Can’t wait to hit up Goodwill to see what sweaters they have in store. Mwahaha.

As far as art, we don’t have a TON of space, and I’d like the whole room to just accept its bipolarity and enjoy the ride – so, if there’s an inspirational wall hanging, it must inspire child and office-user alike. Throw in a vintage map and it screams “Oh, the places you’ll go!” as much as it does “this is a rad office, where’s the scotch?”

Mmm. Booze. I miss booze.


Can you tell I kinda want that Target chair? I’m still searching for something with a small footprint that’s upholstered on wheels that can be used as an office chair OR a spot to comfortably nurse, so this is just a thought for now. Hoooooly crap, am I picky? But, clearly arrows are non-negotiable. And tassel garland. Which I fully plan to make. I guess I have a thing about DIY art in a kid’s room. Maybe I need some in our room while we’re at it.

Notice the fluffy white rug, too? It’d be nice to have a landing pad on the floor and soften up the place. Plus, major points for detracting from the diamond monstrosity currently enveloping the space. I truly think that a well-placed layer like this will make the carpet read more like a neutral. #fingerscrossed

In this board, I clearly am all about the mint accents. Sure, a bit of peachy coral helps, but there’s just something about mint + brass in a neutral room lately. Yum.


So, here’s what it’s your turn! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments (and maybe even a vote or two for which is your fave). As usual, all the stuff shown depends on availability and whether I find (or make) something a million times cooler, but they give you the general vibe I’m going for.

Please and thanks for any thoughts!

Oh, and nope. We’re not finding out the baby’s gender in advance. Happy picking! 😉

Warming Up to Wallpaper

When I was a kid, the idea of wallpaper got us downright irritable. We lived in a gloriously large (by our standards) house that my mother slowly but surely made into a home. I like to romantically liken it to Mary Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I’m positive it wasn’t actually like that, but sometimes it’s nice to live in our imaginations.

Regardless, I’m not sure if my mother was responsible for it or a previous owner, but our dining room was wallpapered. It had either been applied incorrectly or with an old-fashioned paste that made it damn near impossible to peel off with any efficiency. Instead, whenever we were on the phone (corded, kids), we would sit mindlessly scraping with an old paring knife, one chip of paper at a time. If nothing else, it taught me that, come hell or high water, you must do things the right way. Even if it took years of tedium.

So, when I first started seeing wallpaper come back ‘in’, I raised an eyebrow. There’s so much to hate about it.

But, after seeing it more…and more…and in incredibly modern, bold prints or subtle, classic designs…I warmed up. The fact that all the blog posts I read tout how simple and easy it is to apply (and just as easy to take down) made it less and less scary.

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Okay. So, I won’t be applying the stuff in our current house anytime fast (unless we suddenly decide not to move in the next year), but it gives me thoughts about fixing up places we may consider in the future. But, I have stipulations.

I’m not into papering an entire large room. Even with the most modern of prints, it seems to have an overpowering, almost Victorian style to it. Too busy, I guess. That said, I’m also not an “accent wall” girl; at least, not in a large living area. I also wouldn’t pick any of the styles they carry at, say, Lowe’s. They seem like all the other outdated, flowery options. 


So, what WOULD I do with modern-day wallpaper? I’m kind of into the idea of papering a closet (especially a bedroom one, emanating inspiration and a mood change every time the door is opened), small bathroom (large prints can actually do wonders in a small space), or maaaaaybe as an accent wall in an office or nursery.

The other cool trend in wallpaper is the forms that it can take. Traditional adhesive-backed or moveable vinyl or even a stencil used to look like a large pattern, you can customize it to your preferences. Whatever mood you hope to evoke, you’ve got it. Whimsical? Got it. Feminine? Of course. Moody? Sure thing.

You can shop around online and, luckily, purchase swatches before committing. There are several discount stores, although I could drool over Spoonflower (far from discount) for hours. The coolest part about this site? You can literally custom-make your own. But, really? How can you not want to just pick one of the genius designs they already offer? (This isn’t a sponsored post, BTW. I just like the site.) 

What do you guys think? Is wallpaper a trend you’d rather see go away? Or do you have some that you love in your house? Are you on the fence about it because of the “PITA to put up” factor?

A Star for the Tree

It’s the height in hilarity at our house that the second Hadley saw our finally upright tree after his nap (after shouting “Christmas tree!!! Goody, goody!!!”), he insisted that it needed a star on top.

Huh. Yeah. We didn’t have one.

As kids, we had our own hilarious time making fun of our omni-drunk angel tree topper (um, she was always crooked, no matter what we did or shoved up her dress to straighten her out). I guess we weren’t a star family back then, and I didn’t think I was part of a star family now.

It’s even more ironic since we’re a pretty non-religious group. We feel that we’re spiritual and insightful, but don’t relate to one specific religion. We’re all baptized Catholics, and at times (usually around Christmas), I feel the pull of mass, but all-in-all, we’d like to educate our son about morality more than doctrine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

So, there he was, sweetly demanding a star topper, then again later that night, then again in the morning. After seeing some crappy store versions, I turned to Pinterest (clearly my real religion…that’s a joke, guys) to see if I could figure something out.

During my star search, I also heard a sweet story about my grandmother, who would annually cut out a star out of cardboard that came from my grandfather’s starched shirts, cover it in tin foil, and cut a hole in it. She’d stick it on top, pull a light up through the hole to let it “shine” and call it a day. Classic, sensible and creative. Apparently, everything my grandmother was.

So, I got to work. I cut a cereal box up to expose the two large sides. After printing off a star shape, I traced it onto each box and cut them out. Then, I creased inside each point for some dimension and glued each side together. (Before it was fully dry, I trimmed it further and pressed it together again.) Finally, I glued an empty toilet paper tube to the back.

You could paint the star, cover it in glue and glitter, or put foil on it. I decided to keep it natural this time. I’m not sure if the best part is the fact that it was totally free, that it appeased the little guy’s craving for a star, or that it was a pretty old-school way to handle the issue. And not to mention eco-friendly up the wazoo!

Oh, and while I’m at it, I thought I’d share another tree that has taken up residence at our house. It’ll probably be up until Valentine’s Day, with how long it took me to finally toss it up.

I just cut out a tree shape from a large piece of green felt, then a textured piece for the trunk and a “skirt” from red. Then, I cut out random shapes, including a little snowman and present, and of course a star for the top. I used Command strips (the poster kinds) on the back and the “ornaments” and such attach without any adhesive (one of the best parts of felt). I’ve also made a felt board for pretend play as a Christmas gift, a “piece of pie” to add to his collection of fake food, and may make another piece if I find the time before Christmas eve.

Felt = the perfect toddler plaything!

So, what type of tree topper do you use in your family? We’ve used bows in the past, and even a scarf last year (I’d LOVE to find an old antique top hat with holly berries!), but we’re always willing to change if the little guy dictates a better idea.
 

Welcome Back, Red

In the early days of my blog, I had a lot of red decor in my house — and I HATED it. So, over the years I neutralized things with a white slipcover, a switch-out of pillows/curtains, and (the best part) a freshly painted no-longer-crimson dining room. I had a huge bias against anything and everything red.

But, now it’s Christmastime again, and I decided to pull out some candy cane colors…mixed with some traditional neutral, vintage and woodsy items, of course. It’s how I do.

I’m a great believer in picking a theme every year. It makes it way easier when I’m looking at the bins of decorations, deciding which to use (can’t possibly use them all in our tiny house). It also helps me flex my creative juices, which I always find fun. I even found a few minutes to string some white and red pom-poms onto some red threat for a homemade garland (to add to a banner that I made in the fall and totally forgot to share with you…so let’s pretend that’s new, too, mkay?).

One of my favorite things is that everything except for that new garland (which was super cheap; under $5 with plenty of materials leftover) were free from our stash. I’ve had a stack of vintage Christmas cards that I bought in VT years ago that my husband loves as much as I do, so I love that I was finally able to pull them out and find a purpose for them. With all of the old-school movies were tend to pull out this time of year (okay, and throughout the year), it’s very “us” to use these, with messages and images that harken back to those lovely, simpler times. 

I’ve added a thing here or there since these crappy cell phone pictures were taken, like building up the greens more (had to trim the tree) and I realized that the chunky trim above our built-ins is PERFECT for displaying Christmas cards, like a free ledge shelf.

So, here’s a little view of our Christmas cheer this year.

Hard to see, but here’s some detail…


The tree is super simple this year (it’s a Toddler + Cat Tree). Looking through the pictures, I realize how many are personal touches. I grabbed some red books from our upstairs shelves and mixed them with my winter magazine collection. The beautiful, rustic blue painting in the dining room is one Dave did in high school (I know, right?!). We mixed antiques and chalkboards (did a quick reindeer sketch on my $1 board and a surprisingly simple drawing of Nest of Posies’ printable) and some of my favorite all-season accessories (like mercury glass candle holders and switching out vase fillers).

I like to think this mix makes the house feel fun and festive but in a cozy, hint-of-the-modern way. Oh, and I only decorate those few spaces, usually. (No bathroom or even kitchen decor here this year.) What about you guys? Do you decorate the same way every year? Do you try new things or find comfort in the tradition of your favorite pieces? How does your place look this year?

And I totally know I don’t have a tree topper. I’ll actually be talking about that later this week. 

4 Simple Fall Decor Ideas

I recently shared a teensy decor switcheroo to help autumn-ify the living room a bit. Since I finally had a nice day to take pictures, I thought I’d share a handful of the other super simple add-ins I used for this year’s fall decorating.

I’m not a big “spiders and skeletons” person. I’ve seen some awesome spookifications going on in the blogosphere, but this year I’m keeping it simple, stupid. Er. You’re not stupid. I’m keeping it stupid simple. Better? 🙂

While giving you guys a quick tour of our living room/dining room (I pretty much decorated the entry way from the living room into the dining room, so it hits the main living areas), I’ll give a few SUPER simple tips on bringing a little autumn inside.

This year, I took my hints from nature. The first way? Bringing in some nature, of course! See those twigs adorned with dried leaves? Free, from our backyard. Instant pops of rust, orange and yellow. You’ll also notice gourds and mini pumpkins placed throughout, along with some individual leaves strewn strategically.  

(Pay no attention to the hideous rug.)


This pretty lady has hung in this spot for years. I just can’t bring myself to switch her up. Her neutral colors and gorgeous frame, rocking sense of style, and clear adoration for books has made her a kindred spirit. So, she stays. Plus, she really fits any season or holiday, doesn’t she? I say yes.

That said, a tip here is to use stuff you LOVE. What else do we love? Stacks of books and magazines. I also love sneaking in an old script. 😉 


Going hand-in-hand with my girlfriend up there and bringing in some nature, I love using neutrals and various textures. Hence the super easy-to-make twine and linen bunting (seriously, F-R-E-E), small dollar store wreath on the window, bundle of sticks on the sidebar, and various rattan balls (I got them on clearance at Pier 1 awhile back, wish I remembered how much they were…maybe $2 each? And you know I’ll use the crap out of them). And my favorite thing during fall is white pumpkins.

Plus, what’s more fun than buntings? I think nothing. When I first hung them, Hadley assumed every day was now his birthday.

Oh, yeah. More nature. A huge vase filled with apples. Had to keep it simple since the little guy uses the dining room table for tons of pretend play. 


If you’re having a hard time freshening up your surroundings (believe me, I’m with ya), try the new-ish chalkboard trend. Think it’s too hard to find one? Too expensive? Nope. The one we have in the living room was Dave’s as a kid (free) and this small one (that reminds me of an old school tablet, which I’m searching for while antiquing) was a dollar store find. Yup, it was a BUCK. Can you believe that?!

And don’t worry about your artwork. You get graded on effort, not perfection. 😉 My favorite part of this trend is how interchangeable it is. Come Thanksgiving, this witch’s hat will probably be a turkey or a Pilgrim’s hat; come Christmas, who knows? Stocking? Elf? A snowflake? Endless options, really.

On a final irrelevant note, we may not have a black cat, but we’ve got a drama queen king gray one. He’s pretty intense. Does that count?

It just occurred to me that all these tips could also be eco-decor tips, too. Awesome!

The Ol’ Autumn Switch

Even I’m kind of surprised at how behind I am with my autumn decorating this year. It’s not like I go all-out crazy with this stuff (and I probably won’t this year, especially), but I do like to add touches here and there of the season. This is especially true when it’s autumn, which is not only my favorite season, but the Dorky Daddy‘s, as well. Craziness.

So, on a recent humid-yet-insanely-torrential afternoon, I sat down to sketch. One thing led to another, and I didn’t hate what I created. Not perfect, but who really cares?

I used some day-glow colored pencils because clearly I’m hip like that. I mean, just check out my iPhone picture. Crooked ‘n everythin’.

So, I decided to hunt for a place to sneak it. And, of course, it only worked on my living room wall (last seen, I believe, during Christmas). While I was at it, I switched out a piece or two and rearranged until I got this…

Yup, another insanely beautiful iPhone pic. Drives me nuts, too.

Since I’m lazy, I also like to use art that can kinda double for…say…a couple of months. So, you’d better know that pumpkin art will be there until the cows come home. Or Christmastime. Yeah. Probably Christmas.

I hope to return with a few more shots of autumny goodness. It’s an interesting challenge to try to add touches of beauty in the midst of toddler mayhem. Like, there’s no way I can really do much with the dining room table. It’s his “cooking” spot. But, I do have a few spots he can’t reach, so I’ll have to live it up in those spaces while I can.

What about you? Do you do fall or Halloween decorating? Do you go literal (black cats, witches, zombies) or more “figurative”? I’m hoping to go with the less in-your-face, especially using what I’ve got laying around. Fingers crossed!

Jarred

Hey, homies! I’m finally posting again! Been home sick with a sinus infection that went untreated too long. Long story short, glad to be on the mend!

I’ve recently realized my favorite little buddy in the kitchen (aside for Jasper begging for scraps – yes, he’s a cat – and Hadley wanting to “help”). While I’ve probably mentioned the beauty that is a mason jar before, it’s time to declare my undying love for them, along with a bunch of things you can use them for. Come. Let’s chat.

We’ve currently got a few sizes of mason jars floating around, but our all-time faves are minis (4 oz.) and half pint-sized wide mouth Ball jars. They’re perfect for storage (well, duh, that’s why they were invented), but you might be surprised as to how many ways that we use them. And, guess what! We don’t jelly/preserve a damn thing in them. I think I’m kicked out of the club. (One day, my friends. One day.)

Salad dressing – The tiny ones are perfect for transporting dressing for lunch. Seriously, just pour in your favorite or do what we do: olive oil, some vinegar, and seasonings.


This also deters anyone from sneaking your salad topper from the fridge at work. Seriously, a couple of weeks ago, I observed someone who had forgotten their salad dressing perusing the row of dressings others keep in the fridge, as if shopping. So, bringing one serving of dressing is perfect AND super easy.

Dry spice mixes – We don’t buy spice packets for things like tacos, chili, and salad dressing (Dave’s a fan of Good Seasons, but he hasn’t quite perfected the recipe yet). So, we double or triple the recipe and store the rest in our tiny jars. I use a dry erase marker to make a note of what’s inside, then just spoon it out as needed.

Mmm. Tacos.

Lunch packin’ – This is especially an awesome one for toddlers. We send breakfast and lunch to Grandma’s for Hadley, so we’re lucky that she’ll hear stuff up as needed. Most days I’ll pack his whole lunch in a glass container with a silicone-lined lid, but I’ll often split it up and give, say, his peas and carrots or corn in a tiny jar. They’re also a great size to fill with applesauce. Just like those little plastic cups at the store, only eco-friendly, reusable, and you can control what goes in. It’s also super cheaper to buy or make organic applesauce in large amounts and dole them out.


Yogurt keepers – Similar to the applesauce idea, yogurt is a great snack that is the perfect match for mason jars. The little ones are awesome for the little guy (just check out that link!), and I use the slightly-larger size for my own. Again, cheaper, reusable, and easier than you’d think!

Snack ‘n dip – Half-pint jars are a great way to make a tasty, healthy snack alternative. Just put whatever dip you like in the bottom and the fruit or veg spears of your choice standing up on top of it. Carrots sticking in ranch, apples in almond butter, celery in peant butter. Really, the combos are endless, and make otherwise boring snacks something to look forward to.

On-the-go snacks – Speaking of snacks, the 4-oz. size is awesome for toddler treats on a little trip. Fill ’em with raisins, mini crackers, pretzels, or dry cereal and skip the baggie.


Serve up some fun – Use mason jars (plain or decorated) to serve appetizers or little snacks for company. I even like the idea of creating a salad or taco bar by filling separate jars with toppings and just scooping out your favorites with a spoon or fork. Simple, rustic, fun.

Bank it – Hee hee. While Hadley has an incredible robot bank for his millions (uh, no), Dave and I use a few jars, labeled with simple cut-out paper rounds on the top, to sock away for future goals. It’s cool to look and see our change filling up these jars that have super happy connotations. Just seeing the vacation jar brings a smile to my face.


Oh, and surprisingly, none are swear jars. Knowing me…one probably should be. 😉

Coconut oily goodness – Dave and I both use coconut oil for different (and wondrous!) uses. He keeps a tiny jar of it nearby to style his hair with, and I have some mixed with essential oils (namely, peppermint and an “alignment” combo) for occasional aches and pains. Like, now. On top of getting stupidly sick, I pinched a nerve in my shoulder/neck. *didn’t say I was smart*

Decorating – Pinterest has a million awesome decor ideas using mason jars. I used the large ones to display fruit skewers at Had’s second birthday shindig and they provided some “height” and purtiness (totally a word) to the table. I’m dying to try one of the painted jar crafts, too!

Gifting – This is a great tip that I hope to use for the holidays, but you can use it all year long. Fill a pint jar with some candy, a favorite product, or something homemade, like granola or a “recipe in a jar” layering dry ingredients, and tie on a tag (I suggest printing something quirky/dorky like “we mix you a merry Christmas!” for a recipe mix). Embellish with ribbon or raffia…or don’t. Either way, the jar acts as a beautiful presentation, so you may not even have to put it in a gift bag.

Flower “vase” – Looking for a no-nonsense, sweet, rustic alternative to those flower shop vases? (Sometimes they’re okay, but mostly outdated or too frilly-looking.) Well, mason your vase game! The cool thing is that you can split up a mixed bouquet and use various sizes of jars to create a tiered, layered look. 


Holding collections – We have one jar that stores rocks and sticks that the little guy “collects” on walks. I’m sure that, as his “collections” grow, we’ll be splitting them up into organized items, too. And, not only does he feel that the things he finds are validated in their special containers, but they look cool all lined up. Which I can’t say for most of his toys. Ahem.

So, that’s just some of the ways we use our beloved little jars! Do you have any awesome ways that you utilize them that you’d like to share with the class? Go ahead in the comments!

Eco-Decor

It’s no secret that I enjoy home decor stuff. While I love simplifying, parenting, eco-tip, and humorous personal blogs (I’m talking about you, Roo and Christine), the DIY and home decor ones clog my daily feed.

Ha. That sounds like a personal problem. Pshaaaahaaaa! Ha! Ha.


Ahem. Anyhoo. I’m pretty sure I got the bug from my mom. While we don’t really match in taste (she’s more country traditional, although she’s veering into the simple transitional realm lately — love it), I’m more into straight, modern lines and eclectic mixes of old and new (and, yes, transitional, too). But, her general enjoyment of freshening up her spaces and buying a few new pieces here and there (not to mention a great fondness for antiques), I totally get.

Being on a budget and being of the opinion that the Earth needs looking after, I’ve had issues here and there considering my purchases and their environmental impact. We can’t all afford to look for a sustainably harvested chair with organic linen upholstery when shopping. It’s a big enough purchase as it is, right?

But, there are plenty of small ways to surround ourselves with beauty inside our dwellings with friendly consideration for the beauty outside. See if you’re already doing any of these…

Thrift and claw your way. Okay, I honestly use a lot of excuses when it comes to thrifting. We don’t have the room to buy a lot of furniture (which would need to be stored until I could refinish or upholster, then use it). We only have two thrift shops that mostly stock broken Target furniture (which is what we use for our TV console) and too-traditional stuff. I also don’t find a lot of time to visit them. 

But, when I need an emotional lift or creative boost, I stop by on a whim. The Goodwill store is literally a minute drive (I drive ‘cuz ya never know when you need to haul a big piece), and the Sally Ann’s (or Salvation Army for those not in the know) is two towns over. I find the best accessories and frames (keep an open mind; the art or filler pictures usually suck, but a frame for 50 cents? Get out!) at Goodwill. Sometimes you can even find a brand new blanket, curtains, or pillows here. Yes, seriously, unused. I used a mix of frames from Goodwill for our nursery’s wall collage.

Our Sally Ann’s is best for furniture. I don’t find the mod pieces I wish I could get, but there are super cheap, rehab-able stuff, like this bench (which I’m thinking of rehabbing again) and this chair I love for a bit of the unexpected.

Side note: I also shop these stores for my theater costumes. Our theater has a huge attic of clothes but somehow I hardly seem to find what I need. There are only so many ballgown roles, y’know? So, this is the best costume selection for the price. Same goes for DIY Halloween costumes!

Craigslist is a great alternative. Again, since our area is stuck in the land of country traditional, there aren’t always great finds to be had. But, it’s nice to check and see what’s out there. I’m not giving up hope that I’ll find some awesome pieces one of these days. And, in case you don’t notice a trend here, one of the eco-friendliest ways to furnish and decorate your space is to reuse items that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

Don’t scoff at hand-me-downs. If they’re in your style realm, or you think you could transform the piece into something you might love, go ahead and kindly accept the offers from friends or relatives. I know my stepfather has offered us many items (he has worked for tons of sweet elderly folks who don’t need their stuff anymore) for F-R-E-E! It’s how we got Hadman’s awesome dresser, which we painted a cheery yellow and changed out the hardware for something more modern…and, come to think of it, all of our dressers are current hand-me-downs. Not only is this cheaper, it keeps these pieces from ending up in a junk pile.

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of the piece, itself, don’t write it off. Dave brought his old bachelor-ish blue couch, which I’m still not in love with, but adding an inexpensive white slipcover gave me the look I craved without having to drop a buttload of money into a brand new piece of furniture.


Find a piece of history. What’s better than giving new life to an antique? Some of our favorite items were picked up at antique shops. Rustic tables, awesome accessories, cool kitschy kitchen stuff — you never know what surprise you’ll stumble over.

Our all-time favorite antique is our dining room sideboard (you can see it on display in this post). We found it while antiquing on our honeymoon in Vermont. Not only was it cheaper than any new versions we had found, it was full of art deco character and history. Oh, and that $#&! is solid. Way better than press board. Blech.

The best thing about antiques is that they fit so many tastes. If you’re into mission-style stuff, there’s an antique for that. If you’re into mod, there’s an antique for that. If you’re into quirky, there’s definitely an antique for that. If you’re into romantic…well, you get the point. Antiques got your back.


Know whatchya like. Take quizzes and visit Pinterest, Houzz, and blogs to determine what your style is. I take outdated magazines that would otherwise end up in the trash (and that teachers or art classes overlooked) home from school; my faves are Country Living, Good Housekeeping, and Real Simple (which I, admittedly, buy), and my mom passes us This Old House from time to time.

I love that the mags get a second life, sometimes even living IN my decor, as well as helping me find what I love. The inspiration helps me think outside of my comfort zone as well as determine what fads are for me, might be a long-term thing I can get lots of mileage from, and what would just make me buy new crap which would end up being discarded sooner than later. I’m still 50/50 on chevron.

Knowing your style definitely helps you but less crap and only what you know can find a home with you for the long haul.

When buying new, try to be cognizant. Sure, not every item you fall for will be eco-friendly, and that’s okay, but the sustainable seal of approval is becoming more and more mainstream. After coming to know my style, I’ve stumbled upon some stores (mostly online) that accompany my tastes. And, what do ya know? Some of my faves happen to have some sustainable options!

I sign up to find out when sales are popping up and always keep in mind what my needs are. Just because something awesome is for sale doesn’t mean I jump at it. Ain’t nobody got time money for that.

For example, lately I’m on a hunt for rugs. Yes, plural. I know what I’m willing to spend, so when I get an email that, say, West Elm (which has a good mix of eco-friendly products), I check out the site. I also keep an eye on discount stores and remember to look at eco-friendly materials (generally wool/cotton/hemp/jute vs. poly-something-or-other).

What matters most to you? A big purchase like a fridge or bed might be more important for you to find to be Energy Star approved or organic; or not. Maybe you’d rather have all-organic sheets instead. Or eco-friendly pots and pans.

Since none of us is a Rockefeller (right? You’re not a Rockefeller?), it’s unrealistic to buy all eco products all the time. Just figure out what matters most to you, and you’ll be doing just fine. It’s not a competition, after all. Don’t stress.

Bring the outside in. Not only is it beautiful, but bringing nature into your surroundings is super zen. Rocks around candles on a plate, geodes as paperweights, plants to clean the air, flowers to add some color and texture, water features to provide a calming white noise; nothing’s off limits. Just think about what makes you happy and hook yourself up. I know I’m into the succulent trend right now, actually (although who else but moi can kill frickin’ succulents? Seriously).

If you have pets, just check into what greenery is safe for animals. Because…y’know…they like to nibble. Mine do.


If all else fails, DIY it. I haven’t got a lot of experience in building things from scratch, but I dipped my toe in with this desk. It’s not perfect, but it works for us, and was way cheaper (and more creative) than a real parsons table. 

My best suggestion for you is to check online for plans if you want to undertake this type of endeavor. Start with something simple but that you truly want around your house. My favorite site to search is Ana White, in case you’ve lived under an Internet rock. Apparently she has a new gig on HGTV, too (speaking of living under a no-cable-induced rock). Can’t wait to catch some eppies online.

And keep an eye out for sustainably farmed or reclaimed lumber, and low- or no-VOC paints and stains to keep the off-gassing to a minimum. ‘Cuz off-gassing sounds gross enough as it is without actually dealing with a gas bomb in your living room.

There are also a bunch of tutorials out there for inexpensive ways to decorate your house. If you totally adore a how-to craft project or a pillow tutorial, go for it! Use whatever materials speak to you, and add your own pride into a job well done that you love seeing everyday.

Do you think about what you fill your house with and where it comes from? What’s your decor style? Any tips you’d like to add? 

Oh, and that graphic? Not my house. Just an awesome royalty-free pic of a space I admire, just so ya know. 😉

The Old Art Switcheroo

Last you saw our bathroom, it was darn near finished except for the tub surround. Needless to say, that’s still not done. The shared roofline angle poses an extreme challenge, so I’m calling the room finished — with that very large asterisk.


But, something else has been nagging at me every time I’ve entered the room. It’s the first thing we see, and I made it myself. You’d think I’d like the thing, but nope.


Vertical. Horizontal. All bad.

I blame my beloved shower curtain. It’s damn near impossible to match.

I added some deeper orange awhile back to try to get the art to work, but, try as it might, the little painting that could…couldn’t.

It’s been a year since I created this little beauty, so it’s been staring at us taunting us for awhile. I’ve been hunting for ideas for just as long. Vintage botanical print? Framed scrapbook paper? Cheeky phrase or graphic? Buy, print, or DIY? 

I searched online for every variation of my ideas. Nothing worked.

Then, while Dave was sitting in the car with a napping Hadley and I was in Target running an errand in the frame section, I found myself perusing the wall art. Most of the time, regardless of the store, I run into art that doesn’t suit our taste for one reason or another, but I tend to look, anyway.

On this particular day, I looked quickly, assuming there’d be nothing. Then I saw these two, and skeptically sent a picture to Dave to see which he liked.

Initially, I liked the one on the left, but in person it’s a bit busy. I wasn’t sold yet, but the more I described them, the more I liked the juxtaposition of the large graphic cochlear shell against the faded map and linen lining on the right. Plus, the teal blue looked like it just *might* coordinate, if not match, the curtain.

I think it does. It’s the same tone family as the lighter blues and even plays well with the cornflower blue (looks navy, but it’s not). It all goes to show you that you needn’t have a matchy-matchy room to have a nicely put together one. And, sometimes you can’t tell until you bring a piece (some art or an accent pillow or new sheets or anything) into the space whether it’ll work.

About $15 later, it was more than I wanted to spend, but still not much even in DIY standards. Plus, I don’t want to pull my hair out anymore when I walk into the bathroom…which helps.

Now, if only I could get some guidance on my tub’s wall surround (it’s getting worse; someone did something wrong way back when). Otherwise, I’m calling the bathroom D-O-N-E! I’ll share a final reveal soon.