Month: September 2013

Introducing.. our $50,000 Home

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Welcome to my home!!

Today’s post is a little bit unique.  I’m giving you a tour of our home.. which, by the way, is worth approximately $50,000.  A designer with a $50,000 home.  Should be interesting, right?

Fall wreath 2013

If you missed my post on Friday, please read it!  I believe that everyone should be able to have a beautiful home that fits them – no matter what your background or budget.  Let me set the record straight:

Good design does NOT mean expensive design.. nor does expensive taste equal good design!

Since obtaining my design degree, I have put a lot of effort and time into creating my own home.  It’s our safe space, and it’s completely personal to us.

It has taken a combination money, sweat equity, creativity, and planning to get where we are today.  With the obvious cost involved and our limited financial resources, our house came together over time and not all at once.  By doing it a little bit at a time, there are lots of memories associated with our furniture and decor.  Each item has a story.

When you first enter our home, you come into the living room.  Here is your view from the front door.

Fall living room
Being able to get our furniture for a deep discount enabled us to buy all these beautiful pieces for a fraction of the price.

Much of the furniture in our home (especially the living room) came from my first job out of college. Like most designers do, I put in my time as a sales associate at a furniture store. I was fortunate to work for a small, family-owned company which felt like home to me.  This is where I met the love of my life!

This table is an heirloom piece that belonged to my great uncle. The flower arrangement was a birthday gift from my talented mother-in-law, who used to own her own flower shop!

From the living room, there is an open archway through which you can see our dining room.  These are my two favorite rooms in our house. Look closely in these pictures, and you can see my least favorite thing about this house: textured, plastered walls!  I wouldn’t mind the texture if it wasn’t for all the spots where it’s cracked and had to be repaired.

Looking from living to dining
Almost every item in this room has a special story or person behind it.. If and when we move to a larger home, most of these items are coming along!

Fall Dining Room

Fall Dining accents
I have a habit of getting “bored.” When I’m bored, I create. The buck silhouette and flower arrangement are two products of my boredom.

Our downstairs is the most finished because that’s what everyone sees when they visit.  Our upstairs rooms are still works-in-progress, but I’ll show you what is mostly finished so far:  The bathroom, master bedroom, and our daughter’s room.

The bathroom was the first thing remodeled in our house out of necessity. Looking back, I’m sure I would have picked a few things differently. However, we just changed a few of the accessories, and I am really liking the gray and white color scheme!


bathroom hooks
My mom gave this to me as a present at least 2 YEARS ago, and we just got it hung!

My husband and I have never bought a bedroom suite for our master bedroom.  As much as I would love to have one, it was never a priority for us.  We’ve collected a few pieces over our 6 years of marriage, including the nightstand shown: a cool trunk we scored at an auction!  We are planning to use the frame of our current – hideous! – headboard and turn it into an upholstered headboard.  The fabric and foam have already been purchased, so it’s just a matter of time…


The one piece we bought that we both fell in love with immediately was this dresser. It had a few nicks on the top of it, so we got it for a bargain!

The truth is, accessories make the home.  This beautiful art was bought on our honeymoon in Gaitlinburg, Tennessee.  I am so glad we splurged a little and made the purchase!  We still love it.

Last but not least is our daughter’s room. Alivia is a definite princess. Before her baby brother was born last summer, I wanted to make sure her “big girl” room was finished.  She moved out of a toddler bed and into a real one, although it’s just one a pop-up frame, because she still falls out of bed sometimes.  With the exception of window treatments, this room is done!  Like her mama, this girl has an eye for decorating.  She is very happy with her bedroom!

Princess Alivia's room

 We chose the wall color for her room right after we found out I was pregnant with her, and before we knew she was a girl. We figured this neutral tan would go with any decor.  I’m so glad we chose it, because all of her pink things would just not look as nice against another color!

Alivia's room
The night before I went into labor with our son Blake, I finished hanging this tree decal

 Here’s another prime example of how we pull things together.  At the Woodcraft Factory outlet store (where we also bought our dresser), we found this pink chest of drawers.  I had been looking for something that would fit into this space, and be short enough if needed to double as a changing table.  Of course, it was also equipped with matching pink knobs.  It was way too much pink.  I found these adorable pewter knobs on Lowe’s website.  I love the way they look!

Well, that’s our home – or at least the majority of it.  Did you enjoy the tour?  As I finish my Fall decorating, I’m sure I’ll be sharing some pictures of our front porch.  I hope you’ll stick around to see what project we have going on next!



The OTHER 95%

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Let’s get real for a moment.

 Have you ever been in the middle of reading one of the bazillion decorating blogs out there, and all of the sudden felt a huge stab of house envy?  You see their beautifully designed kitchen, granite countertops, gorgeous floors, and the stunning master suite.  Whatever it is.. it’s perfect.  All of a sudden, it’s like you’re watching an episode of House Hunters on your computer!  Do you look at their perfect rooms and think to yourself, “There is NO WAY that kids live in that house!”

Sometimes, I think, “Sure!  If I had a brand new home, I’d be happy to show it off!  It’s pretty simple to take 50 pictures and post them online, isn’t it?”  I’d much rather see the blogs of those who have taken an old, falling-down home and turned it into something beautiful.

“The Perfect House”

Maybe you’ve never had the slightest twinge of house envy.  Maybe it’s cooking, or crafting that you see green over.  So, have you ever had one of those, “Yeahhhh… right!” moments while you’re looking at one of the “simple” DIYs on Pinterest?  Has anyone actually successfully done some of those things?  They have a website for that:  Pinterest Fail ..The good news is, we’re not alone!!

For the longest time, I only regularly followed one blog, Emily from  Jones Design Company.  She is super relate-able.  She always seems so nice and down to earth.  I’m not one to sit and read dozens of blogs, so the variety of her blog was just right for me.  It’s just the right blend of decorating, tutorials, and unique fonts and graphic designs.

Then IT happened.  The disconnect between Emily and myself.

The $2700 sofa

My husband and I live in a house that is worth about $50,000.  That’s right.  $50K.  Nope, I’m not forgetting any zero’s. There is no way in the world that I am buying a $2,700 sofa.  I’m not putting granite in my {current} kitchen, and no one is expecting to see any walk-in closets or fancy master suites in this row house!  Sometimes, I am okay with that.  Then I see those pretty blog homes, and a tiny piece of me whispers, “But wouldn’t that be nice??”

Now, here’s where reality and insecurity come into play.  I have my degree in Interior Design.  I know I can create homes that are magazine worthy.  I’ve had the privilege of doing some pretty spectacular rooms for clients over the years. It just won’t be our home in those magazines, because that requires much, much more money than we will ever have.  You want to hear what the funny thing is?  Deep down, I actually LIKE our house.  It’s just not big enough anymore.  Over the past 8 years, it’s grown with us from the house of a single mom and her son just trying to get by, to a home bursting at the seams with life and adventures of our family of 5. 

Haha.. So let’s just clarify one thing right here and now.  This is a safe space.  We are real, and we are AVERAGE.  There is nothing untouchable about our homes.  There is nothing to be jealous of here!!

Next week, I’ll be giving a tour of our home.. The $50,000 one.  Now THAT should be interesting, huh?

See you Monday!


Halloween DIY, Ya’ll

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So my Better Homes and Gardens magazine came in the mail today.  Yay!  And I started flipping through it when I came upon their Falloween Fresh Finds page.  Take a look at these fun Halloween ideas.

Better Homes and Gardens Magazine October 2013
Better Homes and Gardens Magazine October 2013

As soon as I saw the candles I was like, “I have to have them!  How much are they?”  Well, as you can see below.  From they are $22 for a pair of tapered candle sticks.  Really?!  OK yeah, so quick project of the day.  Remake these candles!

All you need is Candles, Tape, and a Sharpie! 

**You could always use electrical tape if you are not planning on burning them – that way you can take it off and have perfect white tapered candles!!

Candles, Tape, and Sharpie
Candles, Tape, and Sharpie

Ok so I didn’t have any white tapered candles in my house, but I did have emergency candles from the dollar store!  I’m not about being perfect…if you want to be my guest.  Just wrap the tape around the candle and color in the open areas.  They won’t be perfectly black the first time you color them in.  Let the first one dry while you work on the second one, then go back and fill in a second or even a 3rd if you want it to be solid black.


Simple, easy, and really just let your kids do it (if you have kids).  It took all of 10 minutes to complete.  Like I said mine are not perfect, I didn’t try to be, but they are really cute!


And well, I let the candle burn for like an hour, because I wanted to see how it would react against the flame, or if it would smell.  And here is what it looks like when its being burned.  (And no it did not smell like sharpie when it was burning!)


This one was another possible DIY I didn’t try.  But you could do this with a sharpie on various mediums; tiles, cork, glass, etc!


Hope you enjoy!  It doesn’t quite feel like fall yet here in the south so I haven’t started decorating for fall, but I am getting ready for Halloween!


Shut the Front Door

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Door colors have been on my mind for the past few months.

It started with a controversial color that my mom picked for the front door of their new house.

THE Front Door
The almost famous front door

The color is called “Jolly Green” and is by Sherwin Williams.  It is literally the same color as the neon green painter’s tape. In fact, many people have asked if this was a primer, or if this was the “final” paint color.

A better view of the stained glass.. from inside the house

When she originally chose the color, I was not sold on it.  The house that they are building is 1/2 wood shop for my dad, and the other 1/2 is their living space.  She wanted to be able to tell visitors to “go to the ________ colored door” when directing them to the living side.  She had selected their doors very carefully, and wanted a paint color that would bring out one of the shades in the stained glass.  I had been hoping for a royal blue.  That, however, was not her choice.

I helped her paint the doors.  As I was putting on the first few strokes, I admit I was still thinking, “Wow.. this is a BRIGHT shade of green…”

I couldn’t think of many positive attributes for the color, but the more I see it next to their wood siding, the more it grows on me.  I can honestly say now that I’m glad she chose it.  It adds a lot of personality to the house and really makes it stand out from all the other ho-hum doors out there.

{My dad has chosen to remain strategically silent on this whole issue.}

Front of the house
Here’s a little better perspective on what the doors look like with the rest of the {all brown} house.

The comments from the neighbors, however?  Yikes!  Didn’t any of those people see Bambi?:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

They’re still in the middle of the building process, but as the rest of the exterior work and landscaping are finished, I think a lot more people will be in favor of this color choice.  And.. if not.. who cares?!?

In honor of my mother {and all other brave women – and men – everywhere},  here are a few of my favorite bold front door color choices.

So, what do you think?  Would you prefer to stand out with your decorating choices, or are you someone who feels more comfortable playing it safe with color?
If you’re thinking about taking the color plunge, why not start with something like your front door?  For about a $20 investment {the cost of a quart of paint and a good brush}, you can have a colorful piece of art that says, “Hello!” to anyone who visits your home.

If nothing else.. at least it’ll get the neighbors talking! 🙂


Small Town-itis

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Welcome to Lewistown, PA.  I have no doubt that most of the world has never heard of this place.  It’s my home.


“Don’t let small town life make your life small.” – Chris Colfer

Downtown Lewistown
A view looking from near the square to the west end of Lewistown

What is it about small towns that make people want to run for the hills?  Is it the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anything to do?  Is it that everyone knows everyone’s business?  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that this attitude is probably true of every small town {or medium-sized town} in the world.  I feel like every high school graduation speech could be concluded with a phrase like, “Run for your life!” or “Get out! Go, as fast as you can!”  I think part of the mindset has to do with restlessness.  Another large part has to do with growing up and finding your own identity, apart from what you’ve grown up with and who you’ve known.

The Miller Cinema, a downtown fixture
The historic “Miller Cinema 6,” a small-town theater that has tried to keep up with the larger modern theaters over the years. Although many prefer to drive 30 minutes to see a movie in one of the bigger chain theaters, this theater offers small-town convenience and slightly better pricing.

 When I graduated from high school, I had little intention of coming back home.  By the time I finished college, I knew that I was going wherever I got a job.  Ironically, my design degree brought me back to the very same small town that I came from.  Before I moved back, I remember saying something like, “If I move back home, I’m going to have to buy every empty building in Downtown Lewistown and do something with it!” Obviously, that would require a very large purse.  One of which, I do not have.

It’s not that I don’t love my town.  It’s my home.  My family is here, and it is truly a beautiful place to live.  Sadly, like so many other small towns everywhere, our town just got stuck in a time warp somewhere between the invention of the mall and the explosion of internet commerce.  This once thriving town was {and still is} full of vacant, neglected storefronts.

A view of East Market Street. Although this side of the street has been updated and houses many thriving businesses, the opposite side still leaves a lot to be desired. Current construction has made downtown travel and business dealings difficult this year.

The good news is, someone is doing something about that.  Several “someones,” in fact. It’s not an easy task, and it’s one that has to be done on purpose. But one baby step at a time, this town is improving.  We have a Planning Commission that is working hard to secure a positive future and growth opportunity for our town, and to help ensure we don’t fall back into the rut of that doomed time warp.

Let me share with you some of the most recent notable improvements in our town.  They are a series of murals done by artist Dwight Kirkland, a local muralist with incredible talent.
{For more of Mr. Kirkland’s work including many local projects, visit his website. I think you’ll be very impressed!}

Mural at Victory Park, under the river bridge that crosses the Juniata River in Lewistown
Mr. Kirkland’s most recent work was done for the cost of materials only, and is situated just off the town square for great visibility. His art is truly breathtaking


I hope you enjoyed “visiting” my town through photos.  Who feels the way I do about their hometown?  Do you think it’s possible to bring these small towns back to life, when technology seems to be leaving them in the dust?  I’d love to hear what you think!


Master Bedroom Furniture Re-do and getting Baffled

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About 2 years ago my husband and I were looking for a new dresser for our bedroom.  I knew I didn’t want to buy it new.  We went to the local thrift stores and antique shops, and found nothing for about 3 weeks.  Then one day way in the back we found it, it was an 8 drawer disaster.  Perfect!

It was only $100, and the shop owner was this really sweet old man who we spoke to for about 30 minutes, I was buttering him up to ask for a discount.  But, at the end I just couldn’t do it, he was too sweet.  We paid the $100 and loaded the piece into our truck.

I’m all for doing things the right way, so that day I sanded it 3 times.  First, with 120 grit sand paper, then with 180 grit, and I finished with 220 grit.

I was going for that beach-y vibe so I knew I wanted to go with a pale blue.  So to Home Depot we went.  I almost walked away with a ton of samples (yeah right….I definitely took them all with me. Projects!) and no paint.  When it comes to paint I can usually pick it right away, its fabric I sweat over.  Anyways, I kept looking for the right blue.  I grabbed one of their color scheme samples and I found it.

Behr Denim Blue Ultra-Premium Satin finish primer and paint in one!

This picture shows it just a bit darker then it actually turns out.

YES! Eliminating a separate primer – GREAT!

Once home I got right to painting.  It took two coats and a light sand in between to complete.

I loved the hardware that was on the piece so I took it off and my husband and I cleaned it up with Brasso.  It was a simple process; just make sure to complete this project outside.  Luckily I had a tarp down but I really don’t know what it would have done to the carpet in my rental.

Here is the final product:

My Painted Dresser

It turned out great.  This picture isn’t the best; I just threw a few things on it quick to get the picture.  The color wasn’t to light or dark, and not to purple or grey.  It’s just a really great shade of pale blue.

The bedroom regained this calming feel to it with this piece.  With my sandy colored upholstered headboard and crisp white bedding.  It was exactly what I wanted, serene, relaxing, and gorgeous.

All who know me know I am a linen snob to the core.  I will be cheap in every other room in my house, but my bed is not one of them.  I loved working for a furniture store because I could get any mattress we sold for 10% above cost, which is significant savings!

Anyways, getting baffled, make sure when you buy a good quality down comforter that it’s baffled…

Here is an example of a baffled comforter from Frontgate.  Basically, it has a box or diamond patterned sewn into it – this keeps the down from pooling down in one corner of the fabric.  It’s super important for longevity of your investment.

My fantastic deal was just after the New Year at Bed Bath and Beyond.  All last year model down comforters were on clearance at 50% off!  So I was all for getting the best one they had.  It was this amazing 600 thread count triple cleaned hypo-allergenic bamboo covered down comforter.  Original price was $500, with 50% off, yep it was $250.  But, even better I was stashing a bunch of old coupons they still redeemed for 20% off.  So we got this amazing deal $200 for a $500 pure luxury down comforter.

Let me know if you have any great purchase stories – I would love to hear about them!

Don’t discard it just because it’s old, sometimes the perfect piece just needs a little tlc.