Making Space: A Love Letter.

Hi, baby boy. We’re just about ready for you.

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Your room is the only one in the house that is “finished.” I cleaned out the closet and drawers that you’ll share with your brothers. I saved only the beautiful and the useful. Each item has its place because there is a time and place for everything under heaven.

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We finally bought a glider. You and I will spend a lot of time here – sitting quietly and nursing, or reading together with your brothers from one of the books in your mini-library. Or maybe mama will just sit here alone at night, watching you sleep, rocking back and forth, and remembering that the present carries its own rhythm.

We painted your room a seafoam blue and added some California vibes – a vintage wagon, a painting of Big Sur. You are one lucky boy to be able to grow up in Orange County. I hope your room reminds you to look for the beauty in your current surroundings. God made it for us to soak up and enjoy.

There are some blank spaces. These are intentional. Sometimes your eye just needs to rest. You need visual space to develop your imagination – there is always room to create.

The owl lamp is one that mom bought from Anthropologie years before you were born.  It wasn’t a purchase that made sense to anyone else – once, your uncle saw the price tag and pretended to drop it while helping us move. It was expensive, but I loved it, and I’m glad that it still fits somewhere in our house. Don’t be afraid to hold onto what speaks to your heart.

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Almost everything in your room was a gift – your crib, the clothes in your closet, the pieces that add character to the space. Gifts carry love, tangibly, from the past into the present. You were loved before you were born, and you are loved now.

Love, Mom

Powder Room Design

I’ve come to the conclusion that the rooms that I create inspiration boards for are actually going to be the rooms that get done last. Nevertheless, here’s my vision for our downstairs powder room, which – fingers crossed! – we can have done by the end of summer.

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This bathroom gets a ton of use, as we spend most of our time downstairs. It is also probably one of the ugliest rooms in the house – I’m talking a vanity that looks like it was decoupaged with dried blood, wall lighting circa the mid-1980s, and tiny rhinestones on the walls. It is literally bedazzled.

Since the room has no natural light to begin with – and because I want to have one darkly painted room in the house – I decided to capitalize on that and go moody and dark with black shiplap (Benjamin Moore Soot). My husband thinks shiplap will be easier to install than tile (the other look I was leaning towards), knock on wood. I’m still debating horizontal or vertical installation.

With statement walls, we can keep it simple with a pedestal sink rather than a full-fledged vanity, which helps keep the cost down. There seem to be an infinite number of hardware options (just see my Pinterest board) – do I pair polished nickel finishes with a brass pivot mirror? Or chrome finished hardware with a round oak mirror? I ultimately decided on a rattan mirror with polished nickel and a touch of white porcelain because the scale of the mirror I found was just right.

I love the idea of showcasing art in various places throughout our home in untraditional places, like the bathroom or the laundry room. I’m eyeing a piece like this one from Laurie Anne Art for above the toilet, but I’m not opposed to a Rose Bowl flea market vintage find either.

I’m rough estimating our budget to be around $3,000, but I think we’ll get it done under that amount. I stalk sales, free shipping promos and cash back deals like my second job. Also, we’ll do the labor ourselves – you can bet that I signed Dave up for the upcoming How to Install a Toilet workshop at our local Home Depot.

Side note: I'm completing re-doing my laundry room design because turns out, it's been done! (Unbeknownst to me at the time I published). Sorry, Hartley Home, I promise I wasn't trying to pose! I have another idea in mind, and the wallpaper was going to be a hassle to put up anyway (and probably a little bit too girly).

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Laundry Room Design.

For the last six months, we’ve done very few home improvement projects. The constraint has been budget, mostly, but also energy. When you don’t have the money to go shopping, it’s a bit of a buzzkill to even be looking, am I right? I’ve been following all the designers (and design bloggers) on Instagram, bookmarking inspiration and a few products, but mostly I’ve been on hiatus from all things house.

Until – a few things happened recently. First, I started scheduling “creative” time in my day – a 40 minute minimum where I write, practice hand-lettering, dream up room designs, etc.  Second, I came across the perfect wallpaper, and the inspiration started flowing. My creative time took a design turn, and here I am now with a laundry room inspiration board.

Side note: this wallpaper (Orange Crush) was the one that started it all. Orange groves have a special place in my heart, and I thought, we should put this in our house somewhere! But our house has its own personality, and Orange Crush in Onyx did not fit it.

No 17 Ridge House Laundry Room

Then I came across this Lulie Wallace wallpaper on Anthropologie, and it was the one. I love that Lulie Wallace prints are pretty, with spunk. The muted tones of blues and grays with pops of green better fit the aesthetic of our house, and since laundry is primarily women’s work (ha!), the laundry room was the perfect place to embrace a more feminine look.

For this room, I wanted to balance the floral print with a touch of galvanized steel, birch butcher block, clean cabinet lines, and classic marble (with a more whimsical honeycomb design). Initially, I thought that we would spend $1,000 tops on our laundry room, but then I started running the math. With the cost of materials and labor, even with DIY-ing several things, our budget now is a more realistic $3,500.

The breakdown:

MATERIALS TOTAL: $2,445

Add about another $1,000 for labor to install the tile and the wallpaper, and that brings it to about $3,500. I hope we spend less than this, of course. I almost always buy things on sale – like the wallpaper, which I purchased at about half of the regular price.

We’re going to tackle this project in bite-sized pieces along with a powder room renovation (black shiplap! brass light fixtures!) across the hall, also with a $3,500 (I hope) budget. I wish we were DIY geniuses, but the whole renovation process is so new to us (and there’s the whole full-time jobs, businesses, toddlers, baby-on-the-way thing too). For now, the plan counts for something, right?

Hire the Painter.

Young House Love and Chris Loves Julia make home DIY look so glam.

 #reallife

#reallife

It was fun at first. We incorporated some solid toddler lessons in hard work, with Noah trying his hand at painting with a mini touch-up roller. Then three months in – there are still paintbrushes soaking in water and vinegar solution on the kitchen counter, my Lulus are now my paint clothes, and I’m still tripping over boxes that I can’t unpack because I can’t anchor any furniture on the walls that still need a second coat, and (deep breath) – it’s not so fun.

How do people do it with kids? We were dealing with a meltdown, every twenty minutes, from a toddler who needed attention (rightfully so), and I was nursing my other sweet boy, also every twenty minutes. And did I mention that we both have full-time jobs and our own company?

Maybe one day we won’t be scrounging up spare time like loose change, and when that day comes, it will be bittersweet.

It’s difficult let go of hard-earned money, but at this season in our lives, the opportunity cost of doing the job ourselves is too high.

I asked my friend, Is it even worth it to get a quote for a painter? Like how much does it cost to finish painting like ⅗ of our ceiling, half of our baseboards, two random doors?

Her response? It’s priceless. It’s your sanity. As the author of this spot-on article points out, “Happiness in the present, earning power in the future and familial bliss need not be in conflict.”

I've learned a whole lot of lessons in my twenties, but now that I'm 30, I'm learning another big lesson: outsource. Hire the painter. And the housekeeper. And while you’re at it, get the Plated subscription.

The painters are coming tomorrow, and I’m like (insert all the dancing lady, celebration confetti, big grin, and happy family emojis here).

Mid-Century Meets Tropical & Traditional.

Having a house has been the best thing ever for my creative energy. I've been having the most fun decorating so many new spaces.

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I've been on Pinterest, gathering inspiration for the different spaces in our home. Pinterest keeps me from being impulsive and buying things that are cute but that don't fit into my vision, but it also keeps me from being indecisive. I've found that a carefully curated vision board really helps me nail down my color palette, which makes it easier to purchase items that fit what I want for the space.

The front bedroom in our house is where my parents stay when they visit. They are pretty easy to please, but I wanted to make sure the space reflected them, as well as me. I have two different looks that I've envisioned for this space, one for spring/summer, the other for fall/winter (which I'll share later). 

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I bought the rattan headboard for $15 off Craigslist back when we were living in a one-bedroom. I've hoarded it for years. It has interesting lines, and my dad really likes it, so I'm glad that it is being put to good use now. The Drexel campaign dresser was a garage sale find  – we paid $200 for it. I wouldn't describe myself as a huge mid-century person, but campaign style furniture is hard for me to pass up.

The banana leaf pillows are like sunshine for this bed. I love them. It pays homage to the Philippines, and is the perfect splash of fun and eclectic for the spring/summer version of this room. As soon as I saw them at Target, I knew they would be great for this room and a way to incorporate some green. I already had a mud cloth lumbar pillow that I bought from Mae Woven – the one pictured is similar.

I love that painting so much. Lulie Wallace's artwork is a go-to for me. I love the blues. I love the tropical looking greenery. I love the lemons (my parents have this amazing Meyer lemon tree in their backyard). This is out of my budget (though worth every penny), so I'm not so secretly hoping she makes this into a print.

The slipper chairs pictured are similar to the Quatrine slipper chairs I picked up at a garage sale (2 for $75!), except that mine have removable, washable slipcovers, and no tufting. The side table pictured is actually an outdoor table. I want a table like the one pictured here, but I'm not sure where to get it.

Sources: Lulie Wallace art | rattan headboard (I found that on Chairish, but it has since sold) | oversized banana leaf pillows |  mud cloth lumbar pillow | striped duvet set | round mirror | white textured vase | green vases | campaign dresser | tufted slipper chairs | metal accent table.

So far, I've only spent about $450 on the decorative items and furniture in this room, not including the mattress. I still need to purchase the mirror, art, an accent table, window coverings, and some of the smaller decorative items, but this room already feels so much closer to "finished."