Thursday, August 4, 2016

Natural Neutral Bedroom

I grew up in suburban Northern Virginia and have gradually made my way closer to urban life as I've grown up. As a kid, my family took the same vacations every year, one to the beach and a couple to visit my grandparents on their 5 acre property in a rural area of upstate New York. The grown-up preppy bedroom design board, which I showed you a few weeks ago, is representative of the side of my personal style that is closer to my somewhat urban lifestyle. There is part of me, though, that thinks about what it would be like to live out on land, in an old farmhouse or cozy country cottage with room for the dogs to run, to host family kickball games, and to have a big vegetable garden like my grandfather's. I like to think that this bedroom design board represents the more "country" side of that lifestyle dichotomy. It is light and welcoming, natural and fresh. It feels both together and easy-going. I picture natural light pouring in open windows, bouncing off the mirror over the bed while the unlined linen curtains sway in the breeze. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Happy Adoptiversary to Fred The Hound!

See more pictures of Fred on instagram @FredandSophie.
When we bought our house last year I was ecstatic about two things: 1) I could redesign a house the way I've wanted to forever and 2) The light at the end of my dog-less life tunnel was finally in sight. I love my job and am so happy with my switch to an interior design career, but if someone had told me that I could only choose one of my childhood dreams to come true, I would've taken a dog in a heartbeat.

Today marks one year since we adopted our big, goofy hound, Fred. We had been married less than a month and I was still job hunting, and with my days mostly free, it seemed like a great time to bring a dog home. I had wanted a dog my entire life and Fred was the embodiment of that life-long desire. Weighing in at a solid 70 lbs, Fred was (and still is) an unruly, too-friendly boy who tested my patience more than I care to admit. He was also intensely loving and immediately bonded to us. The first night we had him we couldn't get him to sleep in a crate quietly. He refused to rest anywhere but our bed, tossing and turning the whole night, sandwiched between the two of us where he insisted on being while we attempted to sleep. The next day I finally got him to rest with me on the sofa, immediately breaking my no-dogs-on-the-sofa rule and marking the first of many snuggly naps together.

Our house was Fred's fourth home almost two months. He was in a new, unfamiliar place, wracked with separation anxiety. He barked his hound bark almost relentlessly when we left and we feared our new neighborhood would hate us. When I got home he would curl up next to me on the sofa with his squishy hound face and immediately (perhaps for both of us) all would feel right with the world. We worked with him and gradually the relentless barking turned into one or two barks when we left. Training him quickly became my new hobby. He still needs A LOT more training but I'm proud of the progress we've made together.

With graduation and getting married, adult responsibility was old news for me by the time July rolled around. Still, never before had anything, human or animal, depended on me with its life. It was a little terrifying. Was I capable of giving him a better home than he had before he was in the shelter? Will I do this well for both of us in the long term? Thankfully, Fred and I figured out how to take care of each other. He's my best bud when Kyle works long hours, and I've learned to trust my instincts to protect and take care of him when he shows me what he needs. Kyle and I have worked out a routine to care for a dog, which has been a learning/growing experience for both of us. But we got so comfortable with it that we decided to add another canine member to the family in December, our little lady Bella Sophia (Sophie).

One of my grandpa's favorite sayings was, "Don't sweat the small stuff...and by the way, it's all small stuff." That always seemed silly to me. Sometimes life throws you challenges that are by no means small stuff and to say otherwise seemed unreasonable and dismissive. Fred has helped me understand that attitude better than I did when my grandpa recited it. I've let go of things I used to care about much more--throw pillows neatly in place, a pretty marble coffee table that doesn't support canine wrestlemania--and I don't miss them. Our house and life don't require micromanaging and I'm happiest living in this environment of loving imperfection.

On a deeper level, Fred's resilience and willingness to forgive help put my own attitude in perspective. In the past 18 months Fred went from living with his family in West Virginia, to a rural shelter for 4 months, to Washington DC and multiple foster families, and finally to us. This dog has had a rough life, but even on days when I regrettably leave him in his crate longer than I intend or I can't squeeze in the walk he needs and deserves, his tail is perpetually wagging. It's a simple, constant reminder to have faith that despite challenges, things will always eventually be OK.

It's crazy to think about that first night with Fred in our home while I look at him now, sound asleep in his dog bed on our bedroom floor next to Sophie. I can't help but think that this year will always be near to me, newlyweds in our first little home with our loyal, goofy hounds. Happy adoptiversary Fred!

Fred and Sophie were both adopted through City Dogs Rescue + City Kitties, a wonderful animal rescue organization in Washington, DC responsible for saving the lives of both our beloved pets and many others. They have an incredible support network of alumni and volunteers and do wonderful work towards their mission to rescue animals. Consider donating to City Dogs Rescue today

Monday, July 18, 2016

Grown-Up Preppy Bedroom

As an interior designer, there are so many ways to engage in the trade (one of the reasons I love this field so much!). When I was in grad school I worked for a great local designer, and we primarily helped homeowners furnish their spaces. Now my day job primarily involves more interior architecture, including kitchen and bath design, working out interior trim details, helping clients choose finishes, and supporting the construction process of residential renovations. Plain and simply, we don't do furniture. I love my job, but sometimes I miss the furnishing side of the business and wish I could work on a whole house project from architecture through furnishings (kind of like this notable local designer). To satisfy that craving and keep my portfolio fresh, I've started creating a series of design boards and I plan to post them here as I finish them. I'm also hoping to start a little e-design side gig and I'll keep you posted on that once I make more progress in that department. 

This design board shows a grown-up version of a preppy, feminine bedroom. It's primarily a neutral space, with strong navy and white contrast drawing attention to the bed. The green and pink pillows and colorful artwork add a playfulness to the space, while the gold, white, and grey furniture help the space feel more modern and refined. 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Current State of the Living and Dining Room

This is the first in a "current state of" series about the various rooms in our house and how they look now that we've lived here for a few months. These are by no means "after" pictures, but we can call it progress. Eventually we will be ripping out the wall in between the dining area and kitchen and completely renovating the kitchen, so this is phase one of decorating the first floor. 

It was incredibly difficult to photograph this room so don't judge me too harshly on that front, I'm still learning how to use my DSLR. 

The room is challenging in that it is long and pretty narrow, and it needs to accommodate both a living and a dining area. I used rugs and a buffet with shelving above to separate the spaces. The u-shaped seating area in the living area further separates the spaces and provides plenty of seating in the small space. 

In terms of style, I've always wanted a home that feels classic and collected. I love when someone's house not only speaks to their style but the life they've lived in it. My taste can run a little overly-feminine and I tried to be mindful of that while designing a space for a man too. Budget played a major role in some decisions, and I'll get to more of that when I touch on the various pieces. 

The living room rug is an 8x10 Safavieh rug from Wayfair. I searched high and low for a vintage rug for this space but just couldn't find the right combination of color, size, and price so I finally gave up and started looking at new rugs. I selected this one because it has the vibrant colors you see in older rugs but trends a little more red/blue than some of the other colorful ethnic-style rugs on the market. It hides dirt really well and is stain-resistant, both of which are super important since this rug is right inside our main entry. 

We went with the Ikea Stocksund sofa in Nolhaga grey-beige for the sofa and I would totally buy it again. It's the perfect scale for our small space and I find it to be plenty comfortable. It also hides dog hair pretty well and is easy to clean with loose back and seat cushions. 

I bought the navy blue velvet chair on One Kings Lane when they had a sale recently. It's by Skyline Furniture and they sell a version of it at Target and Wayfair, but the upholstery choices seem to vary based on the vendor (One Kings Lane was the only vendor selling it in Navy Velvet). Honestly, the quality of the chair is not where I had hoped it would be. I didn't expect very high quality but the seat cushion is so uncomfortable and I always feel like I'm falling forward in it. The fabric feels super cheap, but it's holding up so far. It's really too bad because I love the shape of the chair, but I definitely wouldn't buy it again, at least not for a space that we use all the time. 

The two chrome chairs were vintage purchases from Chartreuse & Co. (a barn sale in Frederick, Maryland). They are actually little larger than I'd like but since we've used them both with friends over I'm planning to keep them there. Wayyyy down the road I may put one in the eventual nursery because they have arms and rock like a rocking chair but take up very little space.

The "media stand" is a vintage piece I bought on Craigslist. I think it's a buffet but I'm not really sure. I absolutely love the lines and the beautiful wood grain on it, and it fits on that wall perfectly. The coffee table is part of a set of marble-top tables I bought on Craigslist, finally ending my search for a marble coffee table after all these years. We are using the other two tables as nightstands in our bedroom. Eventually I would like to paint the base of the coffee table black or graphite, but I haven't had a chance to get to it yet. 

The buffet between the living and dining areas is also vintage from Craigslist. I would've put my gold Ikea Vittsjo unit in that spot but we really needed some closed storage for serving platters, bowls, cheeseboards, and other fun goodies we got as wedding presents. To visually divide the two spaces and provide a spot for some pretty things, we hung the Ikea shelves over the buffet. 

The rug in the dining room is an indoor-outdoor rug from Target (no longer available). It was pretty affordable and we will probably go with something else when we redo the kitchen but it totally works for now. The table, which is actually table 2.0, was a steal of a find at Chartreuse and Company for $35. It fits the space SO MUCH better than our previous table and has two leafs stored in it to add some space when we entertain. The chairs are antiques from my grandparents' house and I would actually like to get a set of four that match, but I am patiently waiting for the Craigslist gods to deliver me the perfect set (these chairs will then find other homes in the house or my parents' house). 

So that's the living/dining room...for now at least. Stay tuned for more updates about the other spaces in the house!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New House Tour

It's been well over a year since I've written anything here but I've decided it's time to revisit this little blog of mine. I'll get into my long break from blogging eventually, but for now I just wanted pop in with an update.

2015 has been a pretty big year over here. I earned my MA in interior design in May and we closed on a house the next morning. The boy and I got married in late June and moved out of his parents' basement (where we lived for about a year) into the new house after our honeymoon. If you even remotely follow me on Instagram you know that we adopted our goofy walker coonhound, Fred, in July. I got to spend a few weeks at home with Fred before starting a new job in August working for a residential design+build firm in Alexandria. It's been a wonderfully busy year: graduate degree, new house, wedding, honeymoon, new dog, new job. I really don't know how I got this lucky but life is good and I am grateful for it.

For today's post I thought I'd give you a quick "before" tour of the new house. The place is modest at barely over 1,000 square feet so the tour is a pretty quick one. The front yard has a little landscaping and I'd like to do a big overhaul of it eventually but for now it's low on our list of priorities. This picture was taken after we let the grass grow a little too high during the final wedding countdown weeks...whoops.

The first floor has the living/dining area, kitchen, a laundry/utility/storage space and a door into the back yard. The hardwoods are original and were hidden under carpet for many years. They were refinished right before the house went on the market and are in pretty good shape. I love that they aren't a pre-finished style and that the stain is a natural color. The finish hides dirt pretty well and appears to hold up to the wear and tear or a dog slipping and sliding on it.

The main living area has space for a seating area and dining room table.
You can't see it in this photo but there is a nice little coat closet off the stair landing. 
The nice big window in front gets great light...when we actually have the shade open. The shade can open from the bottom up or top down and we have it open at the top most of the time for privacy and to keep Fred from getting too amped up by anything outside. 
The kitchen isn't original but it's definitely, doesn't have a dishwasher old. Many of the houses in the neighborhood have been renovated to add a half or three-quarter bath on the first level and we plan to do the same at some point. We're hoping that kitchen and laundry/utility/storage area will get a complete overhaul sometime next year.

See that range hood? It's plugged into the outlet on the wail near the sink, along with the stove. That silver thing on the wall is the original vent for the stove. It's essentially just a fan in the wall with a cover on it but it actually works pretty well. 
No matter what I do this kitchen never looks clean. 
This is the storage/utility area with an ancient washer and dryer. Many of our neighbors have a bathroom at the very end of this nook, with a door opening onto the dining area. 
Three locks on a door with a big window on it. Once upon a time this neighborhood was pretty rough. It's much better than it was 10 years ago but still has a little ways to go. 
The second floor has two decent-sized bedrooms and one tiny bedroom. One of the things that sold us was that the upstairs is configured for three bedrooms while many of the other houses in our price range/target locations had two upstairs and one in the basement. We realized that if we plan to stay here for 5-7 years, three bedrooms on the same floor would allow us to have two kids without a newborn and toddler having to share a room. Not that kids are anywhere in the immediate future, we were just thinking about farther down the road.

We are currently using the tiny bedroom for an office (aka storage area) and the second extra bedroom as a guest room/second TV watching room.

Tiny bedroom/current office
Second bedroom/guest room 
Our master bedroom is on the front of the house and gets a lot of light. We leave the shades open at the top so we can get good morning sun (or what little we have at 7:00 am right now). 
The second floor also has the only bathroom, complete with the original black and white tile and an intriguing skylight that opens and serves as the only vent in the space.

Eventually we will redo this bathroom but it is not a priority. I actually really like the tile but it is old and dingy. I'll likely replace it with something very similar. 
Our back yard isn't huge but it's large enough for a patio and some gardening space. The fence is new and this photo was taken when we began taking down our deck, but I'll discuss that more in a later post.

This deck was so small that it was basically useless so we decided to take it apart. 
I mentioned buying the house because of the three-bedroom setup and kids down the road earlier. That was really the hardest part of house hunting for us, finding a house in our price range that felt like it suited our lifestyle now and our lifestyle 5-7 years down the road. I think we managed to do it. Although the house is definitely small, it's configured to work for us for just long enough. I really love our neighborhood and know the house is a great investment. We are a $10-$15 Uber ride to all our favorite nightlife spots and can get to some fun neighborhoods like Old Town, Alexandria in 10 minutes. We can easily walk into Del Ray, a charming neighborhood in Alexandria with a thriving main street, and get dinner or take Fred along to pick up some frozen custard and a puppy pop at our favorite dessert spot. And a Metro station is planned to be built about a mile from our house...fingers crossed, it happens before we move!

It's safe to say that we are loving this little life we've built for ourselves so far and we're looking forward to what the future holds...especially a new kitchen.

I'll be back with an update about what changes we've made since we moved in but until then, here's a Fred picture because that's all I take right now.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rustic + Glamorous Living Room

It's been a while since I've posted a mood board so I'm very happy to get this post up today. This living room is meant to capture a rustic glamorous feeling--to incorporate some of the glamorous elements popular in today's trends but use more rustic elements to make it a comfortable, accessible space. 

The elements in this space are definitely a mix of high and low. The sofa is about $1,300 (which really isn't all that high when it comes to sofas, but it is on my budget) and the side chairs are only $169 each. Some of the decorative boxes are in the $50 - $70 range while other decorative items are less than $20. Although the items aren't all inexpensive, they are definitely on the lower end of investment in a space using retail pieces, and it's a space that someone on a budget could build over time. There are also elements like the media stand that you might be able to find vintage or used. The artwork is a print from Minted and can be printed and purchased in a range of sizes. This room actually makes me wish the boy and I were moving into our own place sooner because we both totally love this look. Here's a list of sources if you want to replicate it:






Sofa: Phulkari Embroidered Chevron Pillow in Marine Blue - Pottery Barn
Sofa: Tryst 16" Pillow - CB2
Side Chairs: Jacquard Leaf Silk Pillow Cover in Light Pool - West Elm


Picture Frame: Nate Berkus Glass Frame, 3"x3" Gold - Target
Decorative Box: Eduardo Garza Crystal Box - West Elm
Succulent: Potted 4" Succulent - Crate & Barrel 
Coasters: Agate Coasters in Natural - West Elm
Tray: Nate Berkus Wood and Resin Hexagon Tray - Target
Decorative Box: Nate Berkus Decorative Tortoise Shell Box - Gold
Decorative Box: Agate Jewelry Box, Small in Natural - West Elm

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Design-Savvy Art Prints and Stationary at Minted

Thanks again for all your kind comments and well wishes after our big announcement last week! We feel so lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family supporting us.

Before we really dive into wedding details, there's something else I'm excited to plan for in the nearer future. The boy and I plan to move into his parents' basement when our leases are up so we can save some money while we're engaged. Part of the moving in together/getting married business is that for the first time in my entire life, I have to share a bedroom with a boy. That aqua paint and fashion print wall gallery in my current bedroom that I love so much? Yeah, probably won't translate well in our new digs. And I'm a little bit regretting buying him Americana artwork over the years...

So I was pleasantly surprised when Minted approached me to review their new collection of art prints. Minted is a website that sells stationary-type products that are designed by independent designers all over the world. I still plan to have a gallery wall in our new room, but it will need to be a better balance of masculine and feminine styles. Minted has a great collection of design-savvy limited edition art prints, photography, and typography art that could easily work their way into our new space. Here are a few prints I'm eyeing for our new room:

1 - 2 - 3
In addition to their art prints, Minted sells tons of great stationary and I'm hoping I'll get to use one of their great designs when we choose some save the date cards. I'm especially loving the place-based designs.

Minted also writes a blog, Julep, that has some really cute Valentine's Day craft ideas in addition to a bunch of other fun paper/graphic ideas.

Painted Hearts Valentine
Valentine Present Toppers
Be sure to check out Minted next time your in the market for some graphic goodness!

This post has been sponsored by All opinions included in this post are my own. 
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