April Links

Make Life Beautiful with Paula Sutton: Reading this interview with Paula Sutton was a delight. She is so conversational, warm and friendly. I absolutely loved her advice to let your personality shine in your designs. Isn’t that what makes design so fun? Read about Paula’s adventures at her blog, Hill House Vintage.

Glitterbomb Trap Catches Phone Scammers: Ever wonder who’s behind all those scam calls? Check out this video. You’ll see how modern-day scammers are convincing people to send thousands of dollars to them and how their operations work. It’s fascinating AND disgusting at the same time. If anything, this video should be a public service announcement and is a good resource to share with vulnerable populations (and it’s very entertaining). Also, you get a little bit of satisfaction when some of those individuals are caught.

Tina (HBO Documentary): I’m embarrassed to admit I knew very little of Tina Turner’s history before this documentary. Her story has some highs and lows, but what caught my attention is Tina’s ability to keep going and preserving. The pinnacle of Tina’s career was in her mid 40’s, after a messy divorce where her husband retained basically all the rights (and money) to her original content. This documentary serves as her swan song and it’s a beautiful goodbye.

Updates & Crawling Towards the Finish Line

Living Room & Dining Room

Can you believe that we started updating our floors almost 6 months ago!? While we finished the floors in early January, sadly, the living room sat empty without any baseboards until last weekend. Here is what the room looked like right after we finished installing the floors.

The floors looked greeaat (imagine Tony the Tiger saying that) and, in my mind, the rooms were basically done. I knew we had a couple of weeks of work left. But the seriously cold winters of the Midwest really slowed things down. We planned on installing new trim, so my husband needed to cut each piece in the garage. As you can imagine, that didn’t sound like a very appealing job in the middle of winter. As any responsible couple would do, we ignored the project until the weather improved. (To be fair, we had a few warm weekends between when we finished and last weekend, but it didn’t seem like a priority.)

After just a couple of hours of work, the living room baseboards were installed on Sunday. Installing baseboards is pretty easy, but it takes time and patience to get it right. I learned a ton about different types of joints – butt joints, scarf joints and coping corner joints. I’m not an expert, but I found this, this and this helpful when learning about installing trim. Now that they are installed, its tempting to move everything back into the room, but the finishing work (filling holes multiple times, sanding, caulking and painting) needs patience. My plan is to work on this a little bit every day for the next week and finally re-install the living room furniture next weekend (hopefully!!!!)

That also means that I need to finalize the updates I was planning for this room, which are minor. I plan on replacing the pillow covers (already ordered!), updating the blinds to a natural fiber and possibly changing up the console table.

The dining room is, uh, going a little slower. I am hoping that next weekend we’ll start installing the board and batten (again weather really delayed us). Fingers crossed this happens soon, because I am already…..

Planning for the Next Project

You know when there is a lull in another project, so to keep yourself busy you start planning the next one? Well, beyond the living room, dining room and bedroom, I have started planning ANOTHER room. I don’t want to go into too many details, but we’ve started getting wallpaper samples and I am VERY excited. Want to guess what room I planning?

We’re going to complete this secret room during the One Room Challenge (starts May 6th). The project is going to include NEW FLOORS! WALLPAPER! CABINETS! I am slightly worried about getting all the supplies in time, so I am trying to finalize the design decisions within the next couple of weeks and order the big stuff by April 1st.

Better get back to work. 🙂

When Things Change: Modifying the Design Plan

My bedroom re-do has stalled. While talking to my husband about purchasing a new bed, he requested, you know like a normal human, to see the new bed. The minute he saw it, he scrunched up his nose and said no.

I really thought he was joking, but after a couple of minutes I realized how series he was. I had a few alternative beds in mind and showed him those. He liked a couple of them better. Yet, there was a problem. I didn’t measure any of the other beds to make sure they would fit or ensure the mattress would be the appropriate height. Alright…let’s break out the measuring tape.

1 – Woven Bed 2 – Cane Bed 3- Iron Bed 4- Gray Wash 5- Upholstered 6- Four Poster

Not long after the bed discussion, I received the rug sample. The rug is beautiful. The colors and pattern are perfect, but the texture is not right for the bedroom. It feels too rough for the space. Both my husband and son said they would not want to get out of bed and step on it. Point taken.

I started playing around with the design board and I came up with some alternatives. But none of the rugs really spoke to me or felt “right.” The bedroom has carpet and we eventually plan to replace it with…more carpet, so I don’t think a rug is necessary. I’ve decided to eliminate the rug for the time being. After the room is put together, it may become clear that a rug is needed…but I’m not going to force it. I’ll know when I find the right one. I removed the rug from the new design boards and everything still feels cohesive.

Jer and I then narrowed down the design to three beds and, surprise, the original bed is still a contender. I really struggled to make a decision and Jer felt bad for me and said I should just get it if that’s really what I want. I haven’t ordered the bed though because I want Jeremy to be happy and I started second guessing myself.

Option 1

Option 1 is the original design and I still like it very much. My only concern is that the wood on the bed will read too gray and feel out of place in the room.

Option 2

Option 2 is Jer’s favorite. This bed is a warm wood, so the room will be pretty well balanced. I like this bed, but the headboard’s height is shorter than Option 1. For most mattress it may not matter, but since ours is super tall I’m afraid the headboard will look dinky.

Ah, option number 3. The one my husband never asked for and surely doesn’t want. I really like the bed and like that it’s metal and upholstered versus wood. It will compliment the oil rubbed bronze light fixtures and hardware that’s in the room. I like it, clearly, but my husband worries that the bed isn’t very sturdy.

I’m still waiting on a few of the other things to be restocked (nightstands, wicker table, chair). It seems that everyday I wait to make a decision, the more likely it is to be sold out and not available. I better make up my mind soon.

March 2021

It’s officially spring and I am feeling renewed and hopeful.

Magnolia Network: I couldn’t help myself and I signed up for the Discovery + app, so I would get access to all things Magnolia Network. My review is simple – it’s good. The programming is heart warming and sweet. Programs that did not initially appeal to me totally pulled me in. Want to cry? Watch Courage to Run. Want to hear how interior designers design spaces? Watch Point of View. Want a cute cooking show that feels so relatable? Check out Magnolia Table. I have enjoyed everything that I’ve watched. The Gaines have my number (and I’m sure a large portion of America) and they know how to tell a story. Bravo. I can’t wait for the full launch.

The Best Towels: I am in love with these Quick Dri Towels from JCPenney. They are so good and dry lightening fast. But I am crying because JCP discontinued them. WHY????

English Cottages Meets California Cool: Wow! This home tour is beautiful. It feels put together, intention, lived-in, comfortable and effortless. #Goals.

The Principal Bedroom Design

Remember when I told you I purchased a new mattress? Well, it came and it is wonderful. I’m sleeping great and look forward to lounging in bed every night. However, there is one big problem. The mattress with the foundation is way too tall for our current bed frame. Whomp,Whomp. I didn’t take a picture of how ridiculous it looked, but here is my cartoon illustration of it.

So, right now the bed is basically sitting on the floor, you know, like, a college student’s bedroom. Jer and I brainstormed ways to modify our current bed frame to make it work. We thought about cuttings down the legs or lowering the level of the bed supports from the top to the bottom. We may still do one of those things, but I am seriously leaning towards purchasing a new bed. Then it turned into, as it usually does, a complete redesign with all new furniture. We planned on replacing most of the furniture anyway and I have looked on/off for a couple of years for a dresser and new nightstands. I hadn’t pulled the trigger because the bedroom functioned great. It looks okay and I thought I would purchase it when I found the thing that I love. Turns out, I have found things that I love. Here is the design board for the room.

I’ve already purchased the dresser and the night stands are sold out. I’m on the notification list though and will order them as soon as they are back in stock. I’m still investigating the bed. I’m feeling pretty confident that it will work. I’m going to do a quick mock up in our bedroom and make sure the height is right before pulling the trigger.

I am also obsessed with this green jute rug by Dash & Albert. When I saw it on their website, I was intrigued but when I pasted into my mood board I had an immediate reaction. I knew that it was what the room needed- some warmth and interest. I ordered a swatch to make sure the on-screen colors are true to life and will excitedly wait for it to arrive.

I’ve also ordered the lights. I already have the mirror, tray and curtains. I need to nail down exactly what I’m going to use the fabric for (mostly pillows) and order the supplies. I am going to attempt to sew them myself. The fabric is pretty expensive, so I’m going to do a trial run with some cheaper stuff that I already have.

That just leaves the chair, side table and bamboo blinds. I have to double check the measurements of each item and then I’ll be ready to order them.

Maybe in a two months I’ll have the bedroom fully pulled together? Fingers crossed!

How to Estimate Your Budget for Bedroom Furniture & Décor

Okay, saying the “b” word can get people anxious, but it’s a necessary part of planning any project. I think some of the anxiety comes from three things. First, I don’t think many know what is a reasonable budget (I sure didn’t). Second, it means we have to take a break from the fun part of design and put some real life restrictions on things. That can totally feel like a Debbie Downer moment. Lastly, I think the numbers are shocking at first glance. After noodling around with this for years, I think I’ve come to understand what real budgets generally look like. (Remember this is only the budget for furniture and décor. Other expenses like paint, flooring etc. are not included here).

The Cost of Furnishing and Decorating a Bedroom

The easiest way to think about the budget is by using an example. I’ll walk through my super simple way of estimating the budgeting by using the example of decorating and furnishing a bedroom. In this scenario, a person wants a 100% fresh start. They have absolutely no items (i.e. mattress, sheets, curtains, etc.). I think about budgets in three main levels: Budget, Mid and Luxury. Take a look below to see an estimated budget for each one.

$3k – 7k –Budget Level : This means you’re shopping at places like Target, Overstock, Wayfair and occasionally buying something from mid level stores.

$8k – 16K -Mid Level: You’re shopping at places like Pottery Barn, CB2, West Elm, and can afford some pieces from Ethan Allen and/or Arhaus-type furniture stores.

$17K – 35K+ -Luxury Level: You’re generally purchasing things from high end stores and from designers. Please note the + symbol. As this number will often be much larger than this.

To help illustrate how the budgets would be broken down, I’ve created a general list of items that you may purchase if completely refurnishing and doing some basic decorating of a room. I’ve assigned an estimated price for each item at all three levels.

Bed (Queen)60015005000
Night Stand2006001000
Night Stand2006001000
Lamp 1100300500
Lamp 2100300500
Bed Pillows100100200
Picture Frame5050100
Overhead Light150350750
Dec Pillows40100200
Side Table100250300

I then went and designed three bedrooms based on these parameters, so I could really show you that these numbers typically work out. Here is where I ended up:

BudgetBudget- ActualMidMid-ActualLuxuryLuxury-Actual
Night Stand200128.9960069810001519
Night Stand200128.99600(price is for two)10001519
Lamp 110070.58300149500399
Lamp 210070.58300149500399
Bed Pillows1008910078200200
Picture Frame501050100100110
Overhead Light150148350449750700
Dec Pillows4030100105200140
Side Table100100250249300500
Add 20% (shipping, taxes)768.6441911.9183922.6

As you can see, the budgets aligned pretty well with the actual costs of purchasing things from those level of stores. In every “group” I could have spent less or more on each item. So, it could adjust with your exact budget. In addition, most people have things that they are willing to splurge on and will save on other items to make that purchase possible. So, while this is not perfect this is pretty realistic.

Cost of Only Purchasing Bedroom Basics?

What if you don’t need everything above? You want the “core things” to change the feel of the room? Well, I created the bedroom basics list using the same estimations from above. I removed most decorative items, but I kept a few because they are the things that can pull a room together.

Bed (Queen)60015005000
Night Stand2006001000
Night Stand2006001000
Lamp 1100300500
Lamp 2100300500
Overhead Light150350750
Dec Pillows40100200
Side Table100250300

So, if you think you only need the bedroom basics then here are my suggested budgets:

$2K – 6K – Budget Basics

$6.5K – 14K – Mid Basics

$14K – 30K+ – Luxury Basics

How Much do the “Decorations Cost”?

What if you have all the big stuff and just need help with the decorating part? Well, that is a challenging question depending on how you define decorations. For example, let’s say you have all your furniture but don’t have a rug, lamps, curtains or any accessories (mirror, picture frames, wall art). That budget will need to look different from someone who is just looking for some basic accessories. The range for each group feels pretty large, but it’s to account for a wide variety of needs.

$350 – $3,500 – Budget Decor Only

$1600 – $6,000 – Mid Level Decor Only

$2500 – $10,000+ – Luxury Level Decor Only

What if I’m somewhere in between these options?

Honestly, many people will fall in this category. They have some good furniture but need to update the room by replacing a few large things and decorating. You can look at the chart in this post and just add up the things you think you’ll need and then you’ll have a starting point for your budget.

A Couple of Notes on Budgets

Now, I want to say the prices listed here are considered the low end of luxury. The prices can (and will!) just keep going up the more you customize which is often one of the perks of being able to afford this level of service. However, I think some customization is possible in the budget and mid-level price points. As with anything, you’ll have to determine where you want to save, so you can splurge.

Keep in mind if you have a HUGE room to furnish, you’ll need more furniture and, of course, spend more money.

Thrifting can be a wonderful way to save some money and add character to any room. The problem (or maybe the joy?) is that it’s pretty random. At least when I go thrifting, I rarely find the item I’m looking for. It takes patience and some luck to find the exact item you need. The good news is sometimes you find something so much better than what you imagined. Thrifting probably deserves it’s own post.

If you have DIY or sewing skills, you’ll open up your budget significantly since you can add your “sweat equity” to the project’s bottom line. If you’ve never DIYed before, be patient with yourself and the project. The project is going to take three times longer than you think and try to enjoy the process. (P.S. it’s also okay to throw a project away if you hate it).

February Link Up

Recomendo: I recently joined this mailing list ran by Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wire magazine, and it’s sooo good. I love the random suggestions and I always find something interesting. It arrives early Sunday morning, so it’s a nice and easy read while lounging in bed. You can also review all the previous newsletters on their website. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Random Thought: I’m tired of reading a variation of the same news article three hundred times. I subscribe to two large national publications and the same three topics are in frequent rotation with very little new information added. My Google news feed is similarly filled with what feels like the same article over and over again. For this reason, I started to read my local newspaper. Not only do I feel more informed about my community but I’m reading about more than Trump, Biden and the pandemic. Randomly, this article about struggling local newspapers came across my feed. Consider supporting your local newspaper if you can. Oh, I’m also curious what everyone else is reading. Any publications that surprise and delight you?

Have I ever talked about John Warner? He was a writing instructor for twenty years and writes a blog on Inside Higher Education. I’ve been reading the blog for years and appreciate his voice/thoughts on all things related to higher education. He has recently left academia for a private sector job and published a couple of books. I haven’t read any, but I hope to. Anyway, if you are interested in education, check out his blog. His writing is crisp and clear….just take this snippet from one of his latest articles:

For example, when sociologist Jessica Calarco remarked to Anne Helen Petersen that “Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women,” the lightbulb goes off with the intensity of a klieg light. Women are being burdened with a greater share of the increased childcare and homeschooling, even as they are more likely to be losing their jobs and income. Rather than building a social safety net, we’ve created a culture where women are expected to “do it all,” and then some. When crisis hits, they are the first shock absorber. ” – Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/americas-education-story-pandemic-anecdote

Color Trend 2021: Yellow?

I saw this gorgeous yellow entry on Pinterest weeks, maybe months, ago and I can’t stop thinking about it, which surprises me because I rarely consider yellow when painting or designing any room. It’s no secrete that I prefer warm whites to cool whites and lean more beige than gray, but I usually try to avoid going too yellow.

Source: Pinterest | If you know the designer/Photographer, please reach out!

I then remembered Chris Loves Julia’s gorgeous yellow playroom. Perhaps yellow is coming back as a color trend?

Source: Chris Loves Julia

I started digging and searching for other yellow rooms I liked. To be honest, I didn’t see a lot of great stuff at first. Many of the photos used yellow in a bright, almost electric, shade that was often a stark contrast to the general color scheme of the room. But after some searching, I started to see other rooms that I liked. For example, look at this adorable little office. Doesn’t it make you feel cheerful?

The rooms I liked best had muted or pale yellows and a generous amounts of white. This combination makes the rooms feel happy, sunny and welcoming. That’s not to imply that other colors can’t be involved. The living room below does a great job of mixing colors. The blue and yellow feel like they are in the same family of brightness and compliment one another instead of contrast each other.

As you can see yellow and blue is a popular combination and I am here for it! I am also loving the skirted chair covers below. The skirts are simple and straight which gives them a more modern look.

Source: Siena Custom Builders via Houzz
Source: Photo by Werner Straube via Houzz

I like the color combination of this bedroom. It’s mostly yellow with some green and white. There are a lot of elements that aren’t necessarily me in the room, but the color scheme is good.

Source: Uncredited via Houzz

I even found a couple of kitchens with yellow cabinets that make me happy. Much like the bedroom, some of the design choices (lights/furniture/accessories) are not my style, but the room’s foundation feels good. I’m particularly smitten by the first kitchen. It feels impossible to cook in that room and not feel happy.

Source: Adeeni Design Group via Houzz
Source: Asher Slaunwhite Architects via Houzz

What do you think? Do you love yellow?