Decorating Tips

Tips to Choosing Curtains or Blinds & How to Hang Them Properly

tips to choosing curtains or blinds and how to hang them properly
how to choose blinds or curtains and hang them properly

Curtains and blinds are one of the biggest ways you can transform a room next to paint or a large area rug. They are hugely important to any room makeover and can instantly create softness, add drama with bold patterns, or a punch of color to really finish off your space.

But, it can be confusing to know how to choose window treatments, so I'm breaking it all down for you and sharing my tips to choosing curtains or blinds & how to hang them properly.

 

Curtains vs. Blinds

The first question when choosing window treatments is deciding between curtains, blinds, or both. While it's mostly personal preference, there are a few tips to consider based on the room you're working on.

First, let's cover the basics of each. Curtains are window coverings that are made of lightweight fabric. Drapes are typically made of heavier fabric and go all the way to the floor (I'm using curtains and drapes interchangeably here, while "technically", they are not.) Blinds on the other hand come in several varieties made from plastic, wood, or fabric and help control the amount of light let in. In general, blinds are usually cheaper and easier to keep clean than curtains and drapes, however, they are more limited in design styles. Curtains and drapes add instant style and texture to a room and the flowy fabric makes the space feel cozy. Blinds make rooms feel more open and less "crowded" with their less intrusive design.

This is actually the very reason I wanted to switch from curtains to blinds (aside from the fact that our blinds were too short and not the right color) in our bedroom. The curtains felt too crowded in our small room and I wanted a cleaner, more open look that blinds offer. See a quick snapshot of our bedroom with ill-fitting blinds below...You can see how if the curtains were hung 8 inches above the frame (if they were longer, of course) how it would make the ceilings feel taller. That's why hanging them properly is so important.

tips to choosing blinds or curtains and how to hang them properly

When deciding between curtains or blinds,  first think about which look you like better. Do you prefer one over the other? Then, you should consider functionality of the space and whether or not you need more privacy or light control if your room faces the road or is in clear sight to your neighbors. With blinds, you can adjust the amount of light let in, while with curtains you don't have that ability – they're either open or closed. If you like the the look of blinds and want to keep the space feeling clean and open – great! But, if you want to add more style or texture to your space using curtains, but you need the privacy and light control of blinds, you can combine them and use both!

 

Using Blinds with Curtains

It's very common to use blinds with curtains to get the best of both worlds. You'll still have the functionality of blinds for privacy and light control, while adding extra style with curtains. How pretty does this look?! Notice the curtain rod is several inches above the window frame and how it creates great height.

tips to choosing blinds or curtains and how to hang them properly

Image via Amber Interiors

I love the look of curtains with blinds, but our particular rooms in our home are a bit too small and are better off without curtains. In our living room, I initially had just white sheer curtains from Walmart that were like $5 a panel as our window coverings for about a year. While they worked great and had the airy, coastal vibe I was going for, they were sheer, so privacy was a bit of a problem since we hang out in the living room the majority of the time and our large window faces the road. I could have left the sheer panels up when we got wood blinds, but ultimately, I decided to take them down to keep the room feeling open and clean.

 

How to Pick Colors

There are tons of options out there for colors and styles of curtains and blinds, it really just comes down to what your style is and how you want your room to feel (check out this blog post if you need help figuring out your style). That's enough to cover in a whole separate blog post, but a good start is to look on Pinterest and search tons of blinds and curtain images and see what you're drawn to.

One of the most common types of blinds these days are wood blinds. They are beautiful, versatile, and functional. You all know I'm partial to wood blinds and love the warmth and texture they add to a room. We first got wood blinds in our kitchen a couple years ago (still working on making over the rest of the space...renovation happening hopefully this fall/winter!), then we got them in our living room, and now we have them in our bedroom. They truly look amazing in any space and come in so many different shades and textures. The photos really don't do these blinds justice. They have more texture and look even more beautiful in person.

tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly
tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly

I'm a sucker for lots of natural light in our home so it's important to me that we don't block out lots of light. Wood blinds are perfect for this because they naturally let light in through the woven wood, yet give enough privacy that you can't totally see in our windows at night. We do have privacy liners for our wood blinds just in case we want to completely block everything out, but we honestly never use them in our kitchen our living room.

When I was choosing blinds for our bedroom, I went with the deluxe woven wood shades in Girona Raffia from Blinds.com. They're similar in color to the blinds in our living room and fit the light and beachy style in our bedroom perfectly. They also have a white trim edging on the outside as a cute touch. We did get privacy liners for these and the liner is actually attached to the back of the blind, unlike the kitchen and living room blinds where the privacy liner is separate so we can choose to have it up or down. A little light can peer in on the either side of the blinds where there's a gap between the window frame and the blind, but I actually don't like it pitch dark at night while I sleep so this doesn't bother me at all.

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tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly
tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly
tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly

Probably my favorite feature of our new bedroom blinds is they're cordless! You just pull down on the blinds and they glide down, and then push up to open. It's so convenient to not have to mess with the cords and have them dangling, not to mention much safer if you have kids at home. I wish all of our blinds were cordless now!

 

How to Hang Curtains and Blinds Properly

The general rule of thumb when hanging curtains and blinds is "high and wide." You want to make your windows feel as tall as possible, so you usually want to hang your curtain rod or blinds at least 6 inches above the window frame. This creates the effect of nice tall windows, even if they're not. For the width when hanging curtains, you want to hang them wider than the frame, about 6-12 inches out on both sides. Again, this helps the window appear larger, but it also ensures the curtains don't block the window cutting out light when they're open because they're hanging in front of the wall, not the window.

Now, let's talk about the proper length for curtains...The worst thing you can do is make your curtains too short. It's like wearing too short pants – it makes the rest of the outfit feel off. Curtains look best when they either float an inch or so above the floor, just touch the floor, or puddle on the floor. The most common is when they just touch the floor and it's my personal preference. In order to pull off the puddle so it looks intentional and not like you just didn't feel like hemming your curtains, you should use thicker fabric that drapes nicely (not a lightweight cotton) and use it in a space where you want extra softness and femininity.

For our bedroom blinds, I chose an outside mount which means it covers the window trim and mounts outside of the window. In order to "cheat" the window up and install them 6 inches above the frame, you'll need to choose an outside mount. Our blinds were custom-made for our windows so we got the perfect fit and they look amazing! I actually didn't hang these blinds 6 inches above the frame, but if I had wanted to, I would have just added 6 inches (or however high you wanted to go) to the measurement.

Hopefully that helps! I know it seems like a lot to think about, but really it comes down to what you like best, so you really can't mess it up too badly :)

If you have any follow up questions, or have a specific question about curtains or blinds in your home, just leave a comment and I'll try to help you out.

 

4 Simple Ideas To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home inspired by Joanna Gaines

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away! It hardly seems possible.

I finally added a few new items to our living room to make it feel more cozy for fall. It's fun to switch things up as the seasons change, but I still stick to my simple decorating philosophy where less is more.

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Last year, I did a bigger fall tour and while that's pretty and all, it's just not realistic for every day decor and I want to be authentic and show you ideas that we actually use. I'm over the super styled photos that look amazing but aren't something you can replicate yourself or keep for a while without it getting in the way.

As I was preparing to take photos for today's post, all I had to do was vacuum to get rid of the dust bunnies, fluff up the pillows, and take out Bria's giant kennel that normally sits in the corner. Everything else was already in place because this is truly how our home looks day to day.

Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home
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Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home

4 Simple Ideas to Cozy Up Your Home for Fall

Faux Fur

I lovvveeee faux fur anything because it's so soft and luxe. Layering in a faux fur blanket instantly cozies up the space and makes it feel warm and inviting. My fur throw is from ATG Stores and is so cozy I love it. I mean, don't you just want to cuddle up on the couch with your favorite magazine and sip hot cocoa?

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Yummy Fall Candles

Candles are one of my favorite things next to ice cream and leather moto jackets. They instantly make me happy and put me in a good mood. I don't burn them every day, but I like to have a candle in practically every room so I can catch a whiff. I set a candle in this new glass hurricane from ATG Stores on our coffee table. Not only do I love the way it looks, but I think putting it in the glass gives off even more fragrance, too! Bath & Body Works is one of my go-to's for candles because they are affordable, burn well, and give off a ton of fragrance. One 3-wick burning candle fills our entire upstairs!

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Glowing Lights

There's something about warm glowing lights that feel fun and festive. I wasn't sure how to fill the top shelf of our built-ins until I came across these cut out lanterns. I added some string lights and voila! In the evening, the warm glow of the lights set the mood and feels so cozy. The best thing is this will work great all the way until Christmas.

Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home
Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home

Magnolia Wreath

Although magnolia wreaths were made popular thanks to Joanna Gaines and the Fixer Upper craze a while ago, I'm now just realizing why they are so great! I like having wreaths for every season, but they are so expensive to buy multiples. When I was looking for a nice wreath for fall, I realized a magnolia wreath might be just what I was looking for. They are so versatile that you can dress them up differently for every season so you can use them year round! For fall, you can stick in a few feathers and add a burlap bow to your wreath. For Christmas, swap out the feathers for mini ornaments and add a red bow, and in the spring/summer just add some floral sprigs to brighten it up. So simple and pretty! Maybe I'll do a post on a few different ways to dress up a magnolia wreath...would you like to see that? I chose to keep my wreath plain for now, but I think I'll dress it up a little for Christmas.

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Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home

These 4 simple fall ideas show you don't have to go crazy decorating for the holidays. Just a few pieces can cozy up your home without cluttering it up.

What are your favorite ways to decorate for fall? Do you have a candle you love I should check out? I'm always on the lookout for new ones!

Room Sources:

faux fur throw

Article sofa

blue stripe pillow

blue patterned pillow

white patterned pillow no longer available at Tonic Living

coffee table - Craigslist

moss inside bowl

glass hurricane

candle

silver cut out lanterns

string lights

DIY IKEA hack built-ins

plant stand

horse print - friend took photo & framed by Shutterfly

rug

magnolia wreath

DIY rustic full-length mirror

leather pouf

rope mirror - Gordmans, not available online

blue tufted chair - thrifted

stripe blanket - no longer in stock at Target

wood flooring

star pendant light

woven wood blinds

floor lamp

 

 

5 Lessons I Learned From Decorating Our First House

5 lessons learned from decorating our first house

We're creeping up on 2 years since I moved in our house (Jordon bought the house and lived in it for a about a year before I moved in, but that doesn't count because I hadn't put my touch on it yet ;)). Time flies.

I've talked a lot before about my struggle to decorate our home in the beginning.

I was used to decorating small college apartments, so the thought of having several larger rooms to tackle was exciting, yet complicated.

With it being our first home, came several other firsts. Buying our first couch, our first demo project, first time picking out paint colors, first time installing flooring...

It's safe to say we learned A LOT.

About a year ago I finally found my decorating groove and now I know what I want our home to look like and I know how to get there because I found my signature decorating style. I feel so much better overall about our home and actually love how it looks now.

I thought it'd be fun to look back on the past couple years and share what we learned/regret/wish we did differently, and all that good stuff.

And just for kicks, here is the evolution of our living room over the last 2 years...

living room transformation

Consider Warmer Paint Colors

Right when Jordon bought the house we painted every single room. I'm a lover of white and knew white walls were the way to go.

At the time, Emily Henderson was designing their new home and painted every room in their home white. I loved that she, a talented designer, chose to paint every single room white and that I was not indeed crazy for wanting every single room in my home plain old white.

However, I wish I would have considered other warmer shades of white. I chose the stark white you get right off the shelf. No mixing, just white as white gets.

It's clean and beautiful, but it can get a little cold, especially in the winter. I wish I would have chosen just a few shades warmer so it still looks white, but has some warmth. This is something we could easily change, however, I'm focusing on the next bigger project. If I absolutely hated it, I would repaint it.

Research Furniture Before You Buy

I struggled a lot with buying furniture.

Our very first purchase was the couch. We bought it after being in the house for a few days when we finally got tired of having no place to sit. I wrote an entire post on why our first couch purchase was a mistake that you can read here.

tips to choosing the right rug size

Our lack of research kicked us in the butt and the couch ended up being wayyyyy too big for our small living room and we are now on our second couch (that I absolutely love). The first couch has been moved to the basement family room so luckily we still have a use for it.

Let that be a lesson to you. Always research before you go shopping so you have an idea of what's out there and you know what you're looking for and measure three times. At least. Then, never settle if you don't see what you're looking for right away.

Live in Your Home Before Rushing to Buy New Furniture

If possible, it's best to live in your new home for a while before rushing to make all new major furniture purchases. Living in your space gives you time to figure out how you'll use it, what layout will work best, and then you can find pieces that fit. Something we did not do.

Don't Settle Just Because "It Works"

Besides the couch, I had several other furniture purchases that didn't work out. Luckily, most of them I purchased on Craigslist so it wasn't a huge deal.

I am on our third coffee table in two years. Our first was the coffee table that I had from college that was too small. Then, I found a marble top coffee table on Craigslist. I loved that it hard marble, but that was about it. It was such a good price I bought it anyway. It just didn't go with the space at all and I really didn't like it, especially the floral detail on the front. I sold that, and finally found the current coffee table we have now on Craigslist as well. This style was exactly what I was looking for and it was only $50. It's worked great for us and it's a much better size than the last 2.

marble coffee table

coffee table #2

Since our living room makeover, I plan on replacing the coffee table one last time. It's about the only thing I haven't replaced yet in the makeover. I have my eye on this one, I'm just waiting to bite the bullet.

There were a few other furniture purchases I made simply just to "fill" space. The blue credenza/bar was another super cheap Craigslist find but all it did was collect dust. We literally never used it so I sold it. Same with the IKEA wicker chair. I bought it to fill space but we never sat in it.

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IKEA wicker chair

About a year ago when I had an "aha" moment and finally found my decorating groove, I decided to get rid of everything we didn't use. Our home was starting to feel cluttered so I wanted to simplify and only keep things we loved and used. Now I don't buy anything unless it's on my list or I have a specific place in mind that needs it.

Basically, don't settle on something because "it works" if you don't love it. Practice patience, my friend.

It Won't Be Perfect

This was a tough one for me, at first.

We refuse to take out a loan for a home project, and we choose to DIY everything ourselves to save money. Neither of us had done any demo projects before, so it's been full of learning...mostly on Jordon's part.

The first major demo we tackled was the bathroom. It was a complete gut job. Jordon researched and taught himself how to do everything from the plumbing, to tiling, to flooring. There were many things that didn't go smoothly and we had to figure it out as we went.

When we finally finished, there were a few things that weren't perfect, but it looked a THOUSAND times better than it did before.

bathroom before
white bathroom vanity

Just remember perfect doesn't exist whether you hire it out or not. I should have told myself this before we started the bathroom so I wasn't nit-picking. I'm just grateful we don't still have butterfly wallpaper :)

We've done several other projects outside in the backyard (tear down an old shed, fix siding, take out a falling retaining wall and build a new one, rip out a concrete pad) that I haven't shared on the blog.

In 2017, we plan on tackling our last big reno, the kitchen. I am so so excited to get this done and finally have a dishwasher!

These 5 lessons are what I personally learned from decorating our first home and I hope you can learn a thing or two from my mistakes. If you are struggling to decorate like I was at first, I made this mini-series to help you feel more clear on your style and know if pieces go together. It helped me transform our home into what it is today and I think it will help you too.

Have you had a similar experience decorating? What are the biggest things you've learned from decorating your home?

Share in the comments and we can all learn from each other :)

 

Choosing Wood Flooring For Your Home

laminate vs engineered: tips to choosing wood flooring for your home

We just finished our living room makeover a couple weeks ago, and today, I'm going to share our process for choosing flooring, one of the biggest changes we made to the living room.

Let's rewind for a second.

When we moved into our home, the living room had dingy beige carpet that was at least 20 years old. It was old and gross. We lived with it for a couple years before we considered replacing it. It was always on our list of things to do, but we tackled other less costly projects first.

You can see the beige carpet (and sweet pup) below...

how we chose flooring for our home

When we started thinking about new flooring for the living room, I knew I wanted wood. It's beautiful, classic, and a great option for our new puppy because cleaning up dirty paw prints on carpet is no fun.

Our living room flows into the  kitchen and hallway, so I wanted to replace those floors with wood as well. The kitchen is an ugly vinyl and the hallway is the same carpet as the living room.

Our house is on the small side, so with the living room, kitchen, and hallway combined, we were looking at about 480 square feet.

Laminate vs. Engineered Wood

As we were looking at flooring options, we narrowed it down to either engineered wood or laminate.

Hardwood floors were out of the question because we just didn't have the budget and it felt silly to spend so much on floors when we likely won't be in the home forever and it probably wouldn't increase the home's value enough to make it worth it in the end.

Laminate is very affordable and has come so far with lots of options that look as good as hardwood. It's also incredibly durable which we need with a puppy who loves to run around and play.

On the other hand, engineered is a cost-effective alternative to hardwood while still getting real wood. Engineered wood means that it has a wood veneer on top, with a plywood core. So it still is hardwood on the top, it's just a much thinner layer than real hardwoods. This means you can refinish it if needed for minor repairs, but you couldn't sand and re-stain it completely like you could real hardwoods. Engineered wood also has more resistance to moisture than real hardwoods.

Before we decided on laminate or engineered, I wanted to get some samples and compare.

We shopped around for prices and looked at different finishes and species. I find it very difficult to shop for flooring in a store because I can't compare it to anything in our home, and you have to pay for most samples.

I started looking for flooring on BuildDirect.com and they had TONS of options plus free samples. The prices were good and there were several finishes I liked for both laminate and engineered I wanted to try, so I ordered a bunch of samples.

The samples literally arrived the next day! I was shocked they came so quick.

I ended up ordering a second round of samples just so I could see a range of many different finishes and species from light to dark, so in total I ordered 15 different samples of laminate and engineered. All for free!

Can you guess which one we picked?

how we chose flooring for our home

BuildDirect was super helpful in telling me more about the pros and cons of both laminate and engineered since I wasn't super familiar with either. Both products are super durable and will hold up to our daily use so it was just a matter of personal preference. The only downside to laminate I was worried about was warping. It does have a tendency to warp when exposed to moisture which made me a little nervous since it wold be in our kitchen, and Bria loves to make a mess of her water bowl.

Choosing A Finish

Choosing the finish was a little difficult for a couple reasons:

  1. Our trim is an orangey color I do not like, so I didn't want to choose a finish that would match the trim. There was the option to paint the trim white which ultimately I wanted, but, I wasn't sure if we would paint the trim the same time as installing the new floors. Which meant that the flooring would have to look ok with the orange trim, but not necessarily match it.
  2. We have original hardwood floors in the bedroom and office, which are right off the hallway on the same floor as the living room and kitchen (there weren't wood floors under the carpet in the living room). Again, the original hardwood floors have the orangey color to match the trim, but I didn't want to choose a finish I didn't like just for the sake of matching the original hardwoods. I questioned whether it would look weird if I chose a different finish than the original hardwoods and how that would look right next to it (the new hallway flooring will sit right next to the flooring in the office and bedroom).

I'm drawn to lighter warm woods with lots of variation between planks. I found that out when finding my decorating style (a MUST if you don't know your style). Every time I see those golden wood floors on Pinterest I get major heart eyes. Like this pin, for example! Just gorgeous.

After seeing all the samples in person, I knew the darker colors just wouldn't work. It was too far from the original hardwoods and the trim to look somewhat ok, so those were out of the question.

Then, I ruled out the super light woods because I just didn't think they worked with the space.

At this point, I still wasn't sold on laminate over engineered, and I was focusing mainly on finding a finish that I loved yet still complimented the orangey trim in our house.

I picked out my top 5 favorites and laid them out for a few days so I could look at them in several different lights. I'd lay it next to the trim for a while, then I'd lay it next to the original hardwoods in the bedroom to see how they looked together.

Jordon didn't have a big opinion and basically said he liked any of my top favorites. Some help ;)

Ultimately, I decided engineered was the way to go. The finishes were closer to what I wanted and they looked a little nicer next to the orangey trim. Engineered also made me less worried about warping if it got wet.

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We chose these Kährs Avanti white oak floors in a matte finish from builddirect.com. We got them for $3.89/sq ft.

The Installation Process

We installed the floors ourselves to save money. Since we had never done it before, Jordon did lots of research and reassured me he could do it :)

When the flooring arrived, we ripped out the old carpet and removed all the baseboard trim. We chose to install our floors with the floating technique, using underlayment underneath the floor and glue. Jordon worked on it on his days off while I was at work. It took just a few days from start to finish with lots of puppy playtime breaks. Overall, it went fairly smoothly!

how to choose hardwood flooring for your home

I LOVEEEE the new floors and couldn't be happier with our choice and how well they turned out! They are GORGEOUS and look even better in person. The finish goes perfectly with the room.

The variation from plank to plank is my favorite!

how to choose hardwood flooring for your home

Since we had to remove the baseboard trim to install the flooring, we decided to paint that trim white. We haven't painted the rest of the trim in the house yet, and the flooring still looks ok next to the original orangey trim.

I think the new flooring flows well with the original hardwood floors in the bedroom and office. I was worried how it would look, but it's even better than I expected.

I probably broke a few design "rules" doing this, but I'm ok with that. I'd rather have a flooring in our main living spaces that I actually loved.

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Swapping out the old carpet for wood floors completely updated the room. It now feels modern and so fresh. Seriously, flooring makes a huge difference!

We've had our new flooring for about a month now and we love it. It looks amazing, it's easy to clean, and it's durable. Bria runs across the floor when she plays and there isn't a single scratch. I'm hoping it stays that way after a couple years.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal
how-to-choose-flooring

I hope this was helpful for you if you're considering wood flooring in your home. It's important to do your research and make sure you know your decorating style and what finish you like, but also consider durability and the room you're installing the flooring. Since our kitchen floors often get wet, we ultimately chose engineered since it's more resistant to moisture.

Do you need help finding your decorating style? My course will help you uncover it step by step. 

 

How To Use Pinterest To Shop For Your Home (& Save You Hours)

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A common question I hear is how to shop for furniture and decor for your home.

You don't know where to shop. Or you don't know what to look for. And you certainly don't want to spend hours looking.

It's super easy to get overwhelmed with all the home decor options out there. A short year ago I had those same feelings you're likely feeling right now too. Overwhelmed and frustrated and afraid you'll make a mistake.

I have good news for you!

I discovered there's an easier way. You don't have to spend hours shopping to find the right pendant light, coffee table, or whatever it is you're looking for.

How to Use Pinterest to Shop for your Home

1.Create an Inspiration Board

Pinterest has a wealth of images for any kind of style you could imagine, which makes it a perfect source for inspiration.

If you're lost when it comes to decorating your home and you need more direction as to what your style is, I always suggest creating a Pinterest board if you haven't already, and pin at least 20-40 images that you absolutely LOVE and could picture yourself living in.

Here's an example of my Pinterest board that I made when I first set out to find my signature decorating style. Many of the elements you see throughout my Pinterest board are also spotted throughout my recent living room makeover.

Which leads us to the next tip...

2. Eliminate Options

The whole idea behind creating an inspiration board and pinning images of rooms of you love is to find out what you're drawn to and eliminate all other options. You should see recurring themes when looking at your overall Pinterest board, whether it's colors, styles, patterns, textures, wood tones, etc. These are elements that make up your style, and elements you want to look for when shopping to implement in your home.

For example, when I was redecorating our living room and shopping for new furniture and decor, I looked for elements like rustic wood, blue colors, cognac leather, furniture with clean lines, and nautical touches because those were some of the elements that made up my decorating style.

The key is to minimize your options before you even begin shopping. You should know exactly what you're looking for, that way you aren't wasting hours of time. If you're looking for a new kitchen pendant light, you should have a good idea of the style you want, the size, the color, and price range. If you don't know your style elements or you need help figuring them out, my course will teach you exactly how to do it step-by-step.

3. Pinterest's Visual Search Tool

Once you know what kind of pendant light (or whatever it is) you're looking for, you can hit the stores or shop online. Personally, I prefer to shop online because we just don't have a great selection in our local stores and I find it easier to compare prices. Plus, I can sit on my comfy couch in my slippers and leggings :)

Pinterest has a wealth of inspiration, but it's also great for sourcing products, thanks to a little magic tool.

Ever wonder where to get that awesome pendant light or those cool bar stools you see in one of your pins?

Using the Pinterest visual search tool, you can select the part of the pin you're interested in (pendant light), and it will show you visually similar results, oftentimes the exact match of the product. So helpful, right?!

Here's how it works.

Click on the pin you want to learn more about. Then, in the upper right hand corner is a little magnifying glass icon. Click that and select the part of the pin you want to know more about by adjusting the box. The visually similar results will pop up on the side!

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It works best if you can get a clear selection of the item without a busy background or other items overlapping the part you are trying to select.

This tool is super helpful if you want to find a similar item, or if you don't know the words to describe the item you're interested in.

You can use this tool with your inspiration board you created to source pieces you like and it will pull up similar items in seconds! It seriously saves you so much time from hunting down all the items yourself.

I only recently discovered this trick and wish I had known about it sooner!

These 3 tips will give you a much better idea of what to look for when shopping and save you hours of time. If you want to learn even more about finding your decorating style (this was just a fraction of what's actually involved with finding your style!), click here. 

Which tip did you find most helpful?

Have you used the Pinterest visual search tool before? 

 

4 Tips To Decorate A Living Room + Our Makeover Revealed

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

The past several months I've been busy working on a living room makeover.

It all started last year when I had a mindset shift regarding decorating.

We were about a year in our new home and I was tired of a lot of things. I was tired of spending hours decorating, trying to make it perfect and failing miserably. I was tired of spending lots of money of decor, only to have it shoved in a closet a few months later because I didn't like it. I was tired of not feeling happy or proud of our home and the way it looked.

So I decided to do something about it and I came up with my own take on capsule wardrobes after experimenting with them, except for the home. If you aren't familiar with capsules, the main principles are buying only select items you love that work well with your lifestyle and combine to create a cohesive wardrobe, or in this case, home. As a result, you spend less time and money and have a home you love.

It was just what I needed.

With my new outlook on decorating, I set out to redecorate our living room following this new capsule system that I created. The system consisted of finding your signature style first, and then putting together an entire plan decorating BEFORE buying anything.

The focused plan I put together was the winning difference between just another failed attempt at decorating our living room and actually creating a space I love that fits us.

Today, I'm sharing all the nitty gritty details of our living room evolution the past couple years and how we got to the beautiful living room you see today!

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

4 Tips to Decorate a Living Room You Love

1. Find My Decorating Style

Before, my style was all over. I liked many different styles and couldn't decide on one, so it ended up being a random mix that didn't work well together. So, first thing I did was get clear on my signature decorating style (here is a super handy worksheet planner that will help you identify your own style). I settled on modern rustic cottage for my style. Here is what my Pinterest inspiration board looks like.

My style elements included:

  • light walls
  • blue and grey colors
  • warm wood tones
  • rustic wood accents
  • cognac leather
  • clean modern lines
  • black accents in small doses
  • nautical/rope decor

You guys, this was KEY in setting myself up for success later as I was selecting new furniture and decor. Finding your style is seriously the secret sauce behind a home you love and a step you can't skip.

I even created a whole course called Find Your Signature Decorating Style that makes it super simple and breaks it down step-by-step for you.

2. Declutter

Now that I knew my style and what items aligned with it, it was time to get rid of the extra stuff I no longer needed or used. I sold a few pieces of furniture on Craigslist and was able to repurpose a few things for different areas of the house. Our sectional moved to the basement family room which worked out perfectly since we did not have seating down there yet.

blogger stylin fall home tour

Our living room before was overcrowded with furniture we didn't use and with my new mindset, I only wanted the necessary pieces we actually used. The credenza/bar was simply taking up space, and the straw chair was an accent chair no one sat in.

3. New Living Room Plan

I went back to the drawing board and wrote a list of everything new I'd need. First, I settled on a layout that flowed much better (no more 2 sofas/sectional) and then decided on new furniture. Then, I decided on textiles and lighting, and finally decor. We had been wanting to replace the old carpet with hardwood flooring, so I added that to the list as well.

Here's everything I wrote down that I needed to get or make:

  • sofa
  • chair (borrowed from the office)
  • built-ins
  • rug
  • throw pillows
  • blinds
  • pendant light
  • leather pouf (borrowed from basement family room)
  • plant stand
  • coffee table decor
  • wall art
  • hardwood flooring

This was just a list at this point. I didn't have exact sources yet as I still had to do research and find them. Which leads me to the next tip...

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

4. Research Products

This is where decorating can get complicated. How do you know what kind of sofa or rug to buy? Luckily, because I found my signature decorating style and set a clear plan for color palette, fabrics, patterns, textures, and styles, I knew exactly what I was looking for so shopping for furniture and decor was super simple.

In my Find Your Signature Decorating Style course, I teach you how to research furniture and decor and exactly what to look for based on your style, so you are never clueless what kind of couch to get or what rug would look best.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

The Living Room Updates

Built-Ins

We started our makeover with the built-ins and actually made them ourselves as an IKEA hack. I LOVE them.

Blinds

Next, I swapped out the cheap sheer curtain panels with something a little more natural and warm and with more privacy in the evening. I have Blinds.com wood blinds in our kitchen and love them for many reasons, so I knew they'd be great for our living room and they fit great with my style and overall plan. I love how the wood instantly warms up the room. You can read more about the wood blinds I chose and why I love them here.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

Pendant Light

Then, I finally got rid of the outdated ceiling fan and replaced it with a pretty star pendant light from ATG Stores. The pendant repeats the black lines in the coffee table. Remember the "black accents in small doses" from tip 1. finding my style above? It's all coming together...

Hardwood Flooring

For flooring, I chose warm matte oak engineered hardwood from BuildDirect.com. We have original hardwood in the bedroom and office, but there wasn't any under the carpet in the living room. The original hardwood is a very warm, almost orange-y color, much like the wood trim throughout the house. This orange-y color isn't my favorite (that's an understatement), and I contemplated painting the trim white for a while, so I ultimately decided not to try and match the wood trim or original hardwood with our new flooring. I'm not even sure if this is against some kind of interior design "rule", but I didn't want to be forced into choosing a hardwood color I didn't even like, just to try and match the original flooring and trim (that we might paint). So I chose a flooring that I really liked that still complimented the original floors and trim. Jordon did an awesome job installing it, and we even decided to paint the trim on the spur of the moment since we had to remove it anyway during installation, so I got my white trim! What a difference flooring makes. As I look back on old pictures, the new hardwoods instantly update the room. I'm so happy with our flooring choice and how beautiful it looks.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal
4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

Sofa

Our new Sitka sofa from Article is one of my favorite things in the makeover. Its modern clean lines align with my style and it fits the space a thousand times better than the big bulky sectional. Plus it's soooo comfy. I wrote an entire post on how to buy a couch you can read here.

Rug

I loved our blue rug, but I wanted something a little more neutral to better fit my style. It also needed to hide dirty paw marks. I found this new Nourison Lunette rug from RugsDirect and love how cozy it is. The subtle pattern and texture is just enough to feel warm and inviting without being boring, and it has a slight mid-century modern vibe I like. Rugs Direct was kind enough to offer you 15% off your purchase so be sure to take advantage of that :)

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

Throw Pillows

Pillows are such an easy way to add pops of color and pattern without a big commitment. To bring in more blues, I chose a couple blue printed pillows (blue stripe pillowblue patterned pillow) from Tonic Living, one of my favorite sources for quality pillows. I already had the tie-dye pillow and black pillows that helped tie in the black in the pendant and coffee table legs perfectly.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

Decor

I'm keeping decor minimal except for the built-ins. I did pick up my favorite plant stand from West Elm and got myself a fiddle leaf fig plant. Wish me luck keeping it alive! :/ Any tips are appreciated as I hear they are finicky plants.

The full length mirror was actually a DIY we did. The mirror magically makes the room feel bigger, plus it adds the perfect amount of rustic wood, another one of my style elements.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

Art

We don't have a ton of wall space for art, but I did want a large scale print above the couch. I like horses and saw someone on Instagram share a photo of this horse picture they had taken. She graciously gave me a copy of the picture and I had it printed and framed at Shutterfly. So easy!

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal

Other Furniture

I'm keeping the coffee table for now because I like it and it works perfectly. However, it's on my list to get a new one eventually that is round and solid wood, since our current one is not solid wood and is starting to peel.

I borrowed the leather pouf from the basement family room and the blue tufted chair is also borrowed from our office. I'm keeping the chair in the living room util we can get 2 cognac leather tufted chairs, but that may be in a year or so.

It seriously looks like a different room! It just goes to show that a few small changes make a world of a difference. Every time I walk in our living room it makes me happy. That's the power of decorating and how our homes should make us feel. Our living room turned out how I had imagined it would look and it was super streamlined to execute because I had my set plan that I followed. I knew exactly what was on my shopping list and what to look for, all because I found my signature style FIRST.

In my course, Find Your Signature Decorating Style, I will teach you the exact plan that I used to decorate my living room from start to finish. This system that I teach applies to any room on any budget.

If you have any questions at all about the room itself or the process, please ask away in the comments! I know this was a ton of information.

Do you have a room in your home you're struggling with like I was?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Couch That Lasts

tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

Oh, the pivotal first couch purchase...it's possibly the most expensive, most used, and most permanent piece of furniture you buy for your home. No pressure :)

About 3 years ago we were moving into our first house and ready to buy our first couch. It was time to retire the hand me down couch I used in college. We headed out to our local furniture store to buy a couch. Before shopping I knew two things: I wanted a sectional and a neutral color. That's it.

There were about 7 sectionals we considered in the store. We looked at them, sat on them, checked the prices, and an hour later we purchased our first couch.

I liked it, but as soon as it was delivered, I discovered it was a tight fit in our small living room. There was about 12 inches for a walkway between the sofa and the wall which is much too small. I measured the room before we headed out to the furniture store, but I don't think I took into account you need room for walkways. Then, after a few months, the cushions started to "slide" out of place and I noticed some pilling of the upholstery.

tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

To be honest, there are many things I don't like about our sectional (see our sectional in our living room here. I split it up and put the other half of the sectional in the basement). I regret rushing the decision and not doing ANY research beforehand so I had a better idea of what couch worked best for the space and was well-made.

The last few months I've been busy redecorating our living room to better align with my signature decorating style and to fit my new mission of simple decorating and minimizing the extra stuff. With a mini living room makeover, I was in search for a new sofa. This time I wanted to do my research and find a quality piece of furniture that is comfortable, fits in the space, yet looks pretty that we will have for years.

I learned the hard way that not all couches are equal. Which is why you want to make sure you do your research to find a quality couch that can hold up to the daily use for years to come. With a little research, you can make an educated decision and confidently choose a couch that will last.

Before I get into it, I want to preface by saying couches are expensive. If you want one that will last you 15 or more years, you'll probably want to invest in a higher quality couch that may be a bit more expensive than you had anticipated. Spending $2,000 to $3,000 on a couch you'll have for the next 15 years is well worth it and saves you money in the long run than if you purchased 4 $900 mediocre couches over the years. However, you shouldn't go way over budget and buy a couch way out of your price range.

Don't be fooled and think that just because a sofa has a high price point automatically means it's a good quality sofa. Often times you are paying for the name brand, so you must do your research a head of time to know what you're getting.

tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

Here are 4 things to consider to ensure you are buying a quality couch that will last:

1. Look for a Sturdy Frame

A well-made sofa has a sturdy frame so it will not warp or crack with use. For a sturdy couch that stands the test of time, look for a frame made of kiln-dried solid wood. Kiln-dried means it removes the moisture that can cause warping and cracking, and squeaky couches.

You also want to look for a frame that is held together with dowels, wood corner blocks, or metal brackets. Anything that's held together by only staples, glue, or nails can fall apart or come undone much easier.

A heavy couch is a good indicator that it's sturdy because it's made of dense high quality materials.

Since you can't actually see inside the couch because it's covered up by fabric, ask the salesperson or check the manufactuerer's website to find out whether or not the sofa is made of kiln-dried wood and dowels, wood corner blocks, or brackets.

Quick Tip: Lift one front leg of the sofa 6 inches off the ground. If the other front leg stays on the ground, the frame has too much give and is weak.

2. Comfort is in the Cushions

What's inside the cushions can drastically affect the price and quality of the sofa. Most cushions have a polyurethane foam core – the denser the foam, the heavier and longer it will last.  Cheap sofas just have the poly foam core and that's it. In higher quality furniture, the poly foam core is wrapped with batting.

There are tons of options to choose from as far cushion content, but the two most recommended in terms of quality, price, and comfort are high-resilient (HR) foam with a batting layer of down and conventional foam wrapped in polyester batting.

Another thing to consider: sofas with back cushions unattached make cleaning and fluffing much easier.

Quick Tip: The best way to find a couch you like that's comfortable is to sit on a bunch of different ones and see what cushion fill you like best.

tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

3. Consider Timeless Upholstery

Upholstery is the element that affects a sofa's cost most. You want to make sure an expensive piece of furniture you're investing in has a durable fabric and can withstand daily use. Performance fabrics (sometimes called Sunbrella) are stain resistant and can even be bleached without affecting the color are some of the most durable around, although spendy. If that's not in the budget, cotton, cotton blends, leather, and wool are good options. I suggest choosing a neutral color that won't go out of style for years.

If you're looking for some help with what color of sofa to go with, you might want to read this post on finding your signature decorating style to identify colors/fabrics that fit you best.

Quick Tip: If possible, get a swatch of fabric you're considering and bring it home. Compare it with the other items in your room, and set the swatch where the sofa will sit. Notice how the color/fabric looks in different lights to make sure you like it.

4. Size Matters

Consider the proportions of the room and the other furniture in your space when looking for sofas. You want a sofa that feels proportionate to the rest of the space. In other words, you don't want a small-scale chair sitting next to an oversized sofa with huge cushions because it will look off. Another thing to note is not all sofas are the same depth. Some have narrower seats than others, and this can affect overall comfort. The best way to know how wide of seat you like is to sit on many different sofas and measure the seat cushion depth on the sofa you find most comfortable.

If you have a small room or tight space, a sofa with low arms can feel less crowded. Our sectional was way too big for our smaller-than-average living room, and the big cushions made it seem even more crowded. I wanted a sectional for the ample seating, but I didn't think about proportion or size in comparison to the room. Besides that, the seat cushions tended to slide so they stuck out, and the seat depth wasn't as big as I liked. After a few hours of sitting (while blogging away, not just being a total couch potato I might add :)) my butt started to hurt because the cushions weren't super comfy.

The second time around looking for a new sofa, I knew I couldn't go much bigger lengthwise, but I wanted a deeper seat. I also wanted a sofa that was smaller scale and didn't have such large arms or bulky cushions to better fit the space.

Quick Tip: Using masking tape, mock up a footprint of the sofa to see how it fits in your room. You can even "build" the sofa out of boxes or other furniture to get a feel visually for how much space the sofa will take up.

tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

The Story of our Second Sofa

It sounds weird, but I actually prefer to shop for couches online. Before you gasp and think what a terrible idea that is, hear me out.

In my particular city, we don't have a ton of options for furniture stores. I was not impressed with the store we bought our first sectional from and it seems silly to eliminate allllll the wonderful sofa options available online. I also find it a lot easier to compare sofa specs side by side when I'm at home and can actually measure it out right there in the space.

The one thing you can't test when shopping online, obviously, is comfort. This time I knew I wanted a wider seat than the sectional and that I liked down filled cushions, so I had a much better idea of what I was looking for.  If you don't know, you should definitely test lots of different cushions in the store to get a feel for what you like before searching for couches online.

During my hunt for a new sofa, I came across Article, an online brand for quality modern furniture at affordable prices. I was so impressed with the quality of their furniture (it clearly states each sofa's description on their site) and the variety of beautiful styles. Each sofa is made with kiln-dried wood and wooden corner blocks so they are all high-quality durable couches that will last with a variety of upholstery options to choose from. Article seriously makes shopping for sofas online so easy because you have the specs for every sofa at your finger tips.

tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

Room Sources:Article sofa, black pillows, blue stripe pillow, blue patterned pillow, coffee table Craigslist, blue Mohawk Home rug, hardwood flooring (just installed it!)

Article has so many beautiful sofas, but I instantly fell in love with the Sitka. It's has down blend filled cushions with a beautiful woven white upholstery. The sleek modern style definitely aligns with my style and the less bulky cushions and low arms was a better scale for our living room's size.

I was a little worried about ordering it before having actually sat on it, but Article has a free 30 day return policy which made it less scary/risky.

When the sofa arrived I nervously sat down and...LOVED it! It's so soft yet firm and comfortable. Seriously so happy with our decision.

I've gotten a lot of "White couch?! You're crazy!" and I get that. We do have a playful puppy ha. But, truth is, I love white and it was my dream to have a light couch. The cushion covers are removable so they can be cleaned, and I'm adamant about checking the couch regularly for any spots that might need cleaning. We wipe Bria's paws off at the door before she comes inside after playing in the backyard, but she has still left a few dirt marks on the sofa. With a little water and dish soap, I was able to get the spots out no problem. We're also keeping a blanket on the couch for now to help keep it clean while she's still a pup.

I truly love our new Article sofa. It's one of the most comfortable sofas I've sat on and it looks so well-made. Even Jordon likes it :)

The sectional has since been demoted to the basement family room.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes and that these tips help you as you research your next couch. Taking the time to research upfront will save you hundreds of dollars from a bad purchase you'll regret later.

Have you ever ordered a sofa online? Out of curiosity what number of couch are you on? How long have you had it?

 tips to buying a couch for your home that will last

 

 

 

Your Solution for Never Knowing What Home Decor to Buy (with free cheatsheet!)

how to know what home decor to buy

Recently, I surveyed readers as I do sometimes and asked if you are happy with how your home looks right now. 87% responded and said no! For as much time as we spend at home, this makes me sad to think that so many of you aren't loving your home, so I want to  help. That's my job after all!

Until recently, I wasn't happy with my home either. I didn't know if it was possible to truly love our home because it isn't open concept and the living room is small. You know, SUPER important things. ;) I started decorating right away when we moved in, but as it slowly came together, I wasn't liking the result.

Now, you may be thinking, "If only I had a bigger budget" or "If I had more space" then I'd be happy with my home. Right?

I used to say that, too.

But then I started thinking about what it was I didn't like in our home. It was the too small coffee table. The bulky sectional. And the unused credenza taking up space in our living room.

See our sad living room below when we first moved in.

nautical-blue-living-room-4

The fact that I wasn't happy with our home had nothing to do with a bigger budget or more space. I didn't like the furniture and decor I bought.

I realized I needed help knowing what to buy because that was my problem, not the budget or space.

Best of all, you can actually CHANGE these things you don't like and learn to decorate a home you love.

Now, there is no Magic 8 Ball that will tell you exactly what to buy for your home and guarantee you'll love it. Although that would be nice! But there is something that will guide you and give you a guideline of what to buy, and that's your signature decorating style.

Want to learn more about my new Find Your Signature Style course? Get the deets here. And you can get it at a pre-launch discount right now!

Your signature decorating style is your own unique style made up of style elements you love. For example, my style elements are:

  • modern furniture
  • light walls
  • warm wood accents
  • blue, rustic pieces
  • faux fur
  • leather
  • jute

All of these elements combine to make my signature style, Modern Rustic Cottage. More on how to identify these style elements for yourself later in this post.

Now when I decorate, I know exactly the materials and designs to choose from – taken straight from my signature style – to achieve the vision of my dream home. It makes decorating and knowing what to buy SO MUCH easier.

See how that works?

Your signature style gives you guidelines and direction of what to look for when buying so you never have to wonder (or guess) again. It gives you the tools to decorate your home successfully so you CAN love your home and be happy with how it looks. How cool is that?!

With this realization, I created a system so I could help others find their signature decorating style, too. It's called Find Your Signature Style and it's a 4-step system that helps you discover your style, detox your home, and teaches you what to shop for, the simple way. I'm pre-launching my course now for a discounted price before it officially launches next month, so now's the time to get your hands on it because the price is going up soon!

I created this course using the exact system that I used to find my style and redecorate my home I'm now proud of. I was desperate for something that would make decorating easier so I could quit the vicious cycle of spending money on decor and then not liking it a few months later. So I did some soul-searching, experimented a lot, and came up with the very system I'm teaching in my course that worked wonders for me! This is the first time I'm truly happy with my home, so I knew I had to share the system with you guys!

Want to learn more about my new Find Your Signature Style course? Get the deets here. And you can get it at a pre-launch discount right now!

Once I found my signature style, that's when I made better decor and furniture decisions because I actually knew what to look for. It made shopping so much easier and I wasn't buying things and then changing my mind a few months later.

I started redecorating our living room (the room I was most unhappy with that we use all the time). I sold furniture on Craigslist. We built some IKEA hack built-ins. But most importantly, I had a plan of action and knew exactly what I needed to buy to create the vision in my head.

Here's a shot of our living room after I made some changes. It looks so much better!! I've made a few more updates since then (including a new couch!) and will reveal the newly finished living room soon.

modern rustic cottage living room

Once I found my true style, created a plan, and learned how to incorporate it, everything came together and now I'm truly happy with our home.

I want to help you do the same so you can love your home, too. To give you a jump start, I put together a free cheatsheet to fill out and help you uncover your style elements that make up your style. Click here to download your free cheatsheet now and follow along as I show you how to uncover your style elements that make up your signature style.

How To Find Your Deorating Style Elements

Search For Inspiration

Go to Pinterest and create a board called Dream Home and start searching for pins you ABSOLUTELY love that make you happy. The key is only pin images of rooms you would actually want to live in. You may come across images that are fun and you're drawn to, but you wouldn't want to live there. Don't pin these images. It's totally normal to like many different styles and designs, but there are only certain ones that you LOVE and want in your own home.

Keep pinning to your Dream Home board and be ruthless about each pin. If you kind of like a pin but you aren’t 100% sold, don’t pin it! Every pin must make you burst with happiness that you immediately pin it without question. Try to pin at least 20 pins to your board. You can see my Pinterest board here as an example.

Identify Your Style Elements

It’s time to get super detailed. We need to dissect every pin on your dream home board and look at it with a magnifying glass. Why do you like each pin? What do you like about it? Write down every last detail you like about every pin, starting with the first and going from there. Your list can be one comprehensive list.

Your list could look something like this:

  • I like the cognac leather chairs.
  • I like like white sofa.
  • I like the colorful pink and red vintage Turkish rug.
  • I like the soothing feeling in the room.
  • I like the neutral walls with the bold patterned rug.
  • I like the gold floor lamp.
  • I like the rustic beams.

These are the elements that make up your signature decorating style. In your free download cheatsheet, write down each element under the appropriate category. For example, under the "Colors" heading in your workbook, you'd write: white, gold, cognac, pink, red.

You've just uncovered your style elements! What's next?

To learn the remaining steps in my Find Your Signature Style course, click here to enroll. You will learn how to use these style elements to develop a cohesive decorating plan, detox your home, create a color palette, make a shopping list and stick to it, and set a budget. It covers everything from start to finish that you need to know for decorating your home. This course is is a very small investment when you think about decorating your home, and can save you tons of money from "mistake" purchases. I definitely wish I had this system the first time around decorating our living rom. Finding my signature style was the best thing I did for my home and I'm so excited to finally share my secrets with you in this step-by-step system.

Want to learn more about my new Find Your Signature Style course? Get the deets here. And you can get it at a pre-launch discount right now!

I hope this post was helpful in identifying the style elements that make up your signature style. Once you know your style elements, you should have a much clearer idea of what to buy for your home.

Are you happy with your home right now? Why or why not? What are your style elements? Let me know in the comments!

 

3 Questions I Ask Before Any Home Purchase (& How It Has Saved Me Money)

3 important questions I ask myself before any home purchase and how it has saved me money

My quest to simplify decorating stemmed from 2 main reasons: I wanted to spend less money and I wanted to spend less time on decorating.

I needed to find a way to rein it in so I wasn't buying more decor every time I stepped foot into Target. Their awesome designers sure are making it difficult because they come out with the cutest decor. I'm talking to you Nate Berkus and Emily Henderson ;) I can't help it I'm a lover of home decor, however, I have bills to pay and a future to plan for, so it was time to stop spending on extra pillows and vases.

The amount of time I rearranged and thought about decorating was scary. Jordon would come home and see the living room layout changed, again. As much as I loved it, it was getting exhausting and I wanted to sit back and relax and enjoy our home for once, instead of constantly changing it.

I experimented with ways to stop spending so much money and time on decorating. But what worked best was when I sat down and actually analyzed and discovered my signature decorating style. Because once I had a defined style that I loved, I suddenly had a clear direction for all decorating decisions so I realized I didn't need all the extra stuff at Target. It didn't fit my style or needs.

Now before I buy any pillow, vase, piece of furniture, plant, rug, or anything for our home, I ask myself 3 key questions.

3 Questions I Ask Before Any Home Purchase

1. Do I need this?

We're all guilty of buying things we don't really need. Spur-of-the-moment purchases are fun now and then, but you'll save yourself some money if you keep them to a minimum. Before buying anything, I ask myself if I really need it. You have to be brutally honest with yourself so this may take some time.

Let's use a real life situation as an example. Right now, I'm looking for wall sconces for our bedroom. We previously had table lamps on our nightstands but they were so big and bulky on our small nightstands, I decided mounting smaller sconces on the wall would better fit the space. I sold one table lamp and the other will be moved to a different room. I like accessible lighting in the room so we can read at night, so in this case, sconces are something we actually need and use.

2. Does this align with my signature style?

I always do a quick analysis of the item I'm considering buying to see whether it fits within my signature style. When I analyzed my style prior to this, I completed this workbook so I can easily go back and remind myself what makes up my style. The workbook is a great reference because in it are exercises you work through to break down your style and understand the different elements that create your own unique style. Grab your free copy of the workbook here.

If the item you're considering doesn't align with those style elements you set, then you know it doesn't align with your signature style so you shouldn't buy it.

The reason why I'm such a stickler about following my signature style is because it is my ideal style I love most. If I go off the rail and stray too far from it, that's when I buy extra stuff and then I'm not as happy with how my home looks and feels.

Back to the sconces for our bedroom example... I've looked at tons of options online and have it narrowed down to a few. While I was narrowing it down, I was referring to my workbook to see what sconces fit my style best, and eliminating from there. I decided modern, chic sconces with a touch of black and white would look best. The modern design aligns with my taste, and the black accent mimics the other black accents in the bedroom.

3. Does this bring me happiness?

So you decided you need it, it fits within your signature style, now it's time to move on to the third and final question. Does it bring you happiness?

I like asking this question because I think we should only fill our homes with things we love that makes us happy. We may find something we need that fits within our style, but if we don't actually love the item, then we should probably pass and keep on looking. This prevents me from making rush decisions and settling on something I don't love.

Asking yourself these 3 questions takes discipline, but each time it will get easier and faster. Soon you won't have to reference your workbook as often because it will come automatic to you!

Carefully vetting each decorating decision means fewer mistakes and less money and time spent. I personally have saved myself hundreds of dollars since asking these 3 questions because I've stopped the random, needless purchases. I went from picking up something nearly every time I walked into Target to now just passing through. And I don't miss it one bit!

Do you have a habit of buying things you probably don't need? What is hardest for you to resist? What store is your weakness? Let me know in the comments.

 

How to Decorate as a Couple with Different Styles (and What to do When You Disagree)

How to decorate as a couple with different styles and what to do when you disagree

We see it all the time. House Hunters is infamous for showing couples that have opposite tastes and can't seem to agree on anything. One likes rustic traditional designs while the other likes clean, modern, and light. It makes for good TV, yes, but it's also real life.

I'm counting my lucky stars Jordon and I  – for the most part – share similar decorating styles.

Learning how to decorate as a couple when you have different styles is a common question. And I get it. We each have our own style we gravitate towards, so why would we want to leave it for something we like less?

Now, you might be thinking, "I'm the expert in decorating, so I'm just going to decorate how my little heart desires." If you're like me, you just can't help yourself when it comes to throw pillows, candles, and lots of white. I still don't understand what guys have against throw pillows...

As great as it seems calling all the decorating shots, you share your home with your partner so it's only fair it's equally as appealing to both of you, right?

No matter how opposite both of your styles are and how impossible it seems to mesh them together, there is a way to do it, and ensure you both love your home in the end.

I'm going to show you exactly how to combine your decorating style with your guy, while keeping your partnership in tact :)

Create A Pinterest Board

Create a Pinterest board with pins that reflect your style and include images your guy might like, too. Pin a variety of things like color schemes, furniture, and decor ideas. Try to pin at least 15-20 images so you have enough content to work with.

If you only pin one room and it's full of pink, and then you tell your guy this is your style, he might be a little scared. In reality, your style is more than just the color pink, so pin several images that give your guy a better idea of what you like and include things you think you would both like.

If he's up for it, have your guy create a separate Pinterest board with pins he likes to give you a better idea.

Once you have about 20 pins on your board, sit down and look at your board(s) together. Start an open conversation with him asking what he likes about each pin and what he doesn't. This is a great way to discover the things he can tolerate, and what he can't stand. It might help to take notes and identify several things you both like when reviewing pins.

For example, here are a few things that both Jordon and I like that I try to incorporate when decorating:

  • rustic/outdoor elements (antlers, rustic wood around our home)
  • animals (see buffalo watercolor print in our bedroom, see horse print in living room)
  • blue colors
  • clean designs

Hopefully, you both have things you can agree on like colors and types of furniture.

Don’t worry about agreeing on one specific “style” like mid-century modern or traditional and sticking to it. Because you’re combining each of your styles, there isn’t a cut and dry label for the result. Just focus on the things that make up YOUR style as a couple. It should be a combination of each of your styles.

Take Inventory

Now that you have a better understanding what he likes, take inventory of what furniture you both currently have. Is there anything that falls under the list you created of things you like and should keep? Is it time to retire the bachelor pad sofa? Maybe your pink tufted headboard has to go. Make sure there's a clear give-and-take so no one feels pushed out or overrun by the other person's decisions.

Go Shopping Together

When buying big-ticket items, always go shopping together. That way you both can look at many options and decide on the best fit you both like. Going together gets makes you both feel involved and it prevents hard feelings if you come home with a big purchase he doesn't agree with.

One tip I suggest is make sure he has at least one comfortable piece of furniture in the living room he likes. The last thing you want is a tiny couch he can’t even sprawl out on, if that’s his thing. You’ll never hear the end of it.

He Probably Won’t Care As Much As You Do

Us girls can lose sleep over paint colors, but honestly, your guy probably doesn’t care THAT much. If you ask him to choose between Benjamin Moore White Dove or Cloud White, he’ll laugh and tell you there is no difference. Find something your guy cares about, like perhaps the electronics, and have him contribute in that area so he feels involved.

Compromise

Most importantly, you have to compromise to make it work. Discuss the most important things to you and listen to the most important things for him. If he absolutely hates the floral throw pillows, maybe keep them in the spare bedroom instead of the living room. Or just because he loves old records, doesn't mean you need an entire room dedicated to them. You can frame a few of his favorites on a wall as a personal touch without going overboard.

If you’re patient, open-minded, and willing to find a happy medium, you will! Don't be afraid to mix your different styles by incorporating all your favorite elements and personal touches.

I hope these tips are helpful for you and keep the peace in your home as your decorating.

With some patience and lots of compromise, you will find an aesthetic and style that suits you both perfectly.

What was the hardest part for you when decorating your home with your guy? Do you have any tips that made it easier for you? Did you buy something without his consent and now won't live it down?  I'd love to hear your stories!

 

Lessons Learned + Living Room Updates

Have you ever worked really hard on something only to have it fall short? You put in plenty of time and money. You're super excited to get to the finish line and see your vision come to a reality. And then as the end nears you start to notice something doesn't feel right... That's how I felt as I was decorating our living room.

When we first moved into our home a year and a half ago (see early photos of the living room here), I scrambled to find furniture and get the room put together so it wasn't bare. I thought I knew my decorating style and vision so I started picking out a couch, a rug, a coffee table – which was all good and exciting.

However, as things slowly came together, I didn't like how it was turning out. The style felt off  and like it wasn't me, and furniture felt a little mis-matched and crowded. I was buying to fill the space in our living room without thinking about our lifestyle and how we actually used the room. One piece I bought was a credenza on Craigslist for super cheap that I thought would make a great buffet with a bar. We rarely drink cocktails at home (we're more beer drinkers :)) so the bar was completely useless and we never used it.

I was frustrated and didn't understand how I missed the mark when decorating. I was disappointed in myself and that it meant I'd have to start over. That's when I really started to analyze my decorating style and be intentional with what we used and needed. I thought if I could just master my decorating style, I'll be much more happy with our home and how it looks.

modern rustic cottage living room

Living Room Updates

So here we are several months later, I now know exactly what my decorating style looks like and how to achieve it, and we're slowly making some updates to our living room!

We moved the other half of our sectional to the basement family room since it was just way too big for the room and that opened up a  lot of space (let that be a lesson to you to always measure your room 3 times and include room for walk ways before shopping). I sold the credenza and our old coffee table.

modern rustic cottage living room

We built our IKEA hack built-ins a couple months ago which I absolutely love. They create the focal point our living room needed and are still functional.

Once discovering my decorating style, I knew exactly what changes I needed to make so I was no longer guessing. Things are starting to feel much better.

1. Add Warmth to a White Room with Textured Wood Shades

Next, we installed new woven wood shades from Blinds.com. We have these in our kitchen as well and let me tell you, they are AMAZING. I wanted shades that warmed up the living room a bit (because we have lots of white) so I chose the color rustic jute with some texture and the style fits our beachy cottage style perfectly. My favorite thing about these woven wood shades is they still let light in even if they are down, but if you want to completely block out it out, there are liners you can put down as well. This is a great feature in the evenings for more privacy. They have several color options to choose from (and free samples!) but I'm so glad I went with rustic jute. I had such a hard time deciding on a color but they provided a designer you work directly with and she was so helpful and made the process super easy. Can't recommend them enough!

modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room

2. Lighting Gives a Room Personality

Another favorite update in our living room is the new star pendant light from ATG Stores. We finally replaced the ugly outdated ceiling fan!

Lighting is like shoes to an outfit. It pulls the whole room together. We never used the ceiling fan and I'm not a big fan of them anyway (ha! no pun intended), so I knew I wanted a pendant light instead. The star pendant is fairly popular and some of my favorite room designs on Pinterest had one, so I thought it would be a good option for our living room. It's a little traditional yet whimsy so I think it adds some personality to the space.

I found a star pendant at ATG Stores and it received great reviews so I decided to go for it. I chose the medium size in clear seedy glass (textured instead of transparent glass) and I'm so glad I did. It looks so good and is just as I pictured! It seriously makes me so happy every time I walk in the room.

modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room

A little tip when you're shopping for lighting...I like looking online because there are so many more options than in-stores and you can measure your space to see how each light would hang. Pendants are great because you can adjust how low it hangs which was important for me since our light is in a traffic area and we don't have tall ceilings.

3. Art With Meaning

We have a long white wall in our living room that I've really struggled with decorating. It's so long that it's hard to fill the space properly. I didn't want to do a gallery wall because I want to keep the look fairly minimal and gallery walls tend to look busy. However, buying a piece of art that's big enough is very spendy. I was on Instagram one day and NicholeLynneDesigns posted a photo of this horse photograph her sister had taken. Horses are special to me because my grandpa had them when I was a kid and I enjoy riding them. I asked if she was willing to share the photo and she was!

I had the photo printed at Shutterfly and decied to also have them custom frame it. I looked around at prices for large frames to buy and they were expensvive, so Shutterfly was the best option. They have sales often where you can get 40% off your order!

modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room
modern rustic cottage living room

I was a little nervous about the print quality on such a large photo, but when it arrived in the mail it was perfect and not a touch blurry or pixelated. I think it's the perfect piece for this wall. I'm really happy with how it looks.

Future Projects

We've made some serious progress and I'm already loving it so much more. On the list of future updates is a new couch with a lighter color (more inline with my decorating style) the end of August. We will move our current sofa to the basement family room which will be perfect down there. I'd like to get a couple chairs for some additional seating as well for the living room, a neutral rug, and eventually I'd like to remove the carpet and replace it with hardwood floors.

Have you had a similar experience as I have while decorating? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

3 simple living room updates + mistakes I made
 

How to Declutter Every Room in your Home for Good

how to declutter every room in your home for good

Everyone is busy these days. We're trying to eat right, exercise more, do meaningful work, be a better friend, attend more happy hours... It's exhausting.

Our homes are supposed to be our retreat from the rest of the busy world - where we go to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. However, the unfinished projects, mismatched styles you hate, and extra stuff you no longer need in your home, leave you feeling anything but comfortable.

Sound familar?

Fortunately, there is a solution.

And that solution is called simplification. 

You see, we're told by the media we need this and that and pretty soon we have SO MUCH excess stuff. Rather than feeling satisfied with the items filling our home, they're bogging us down and making us unhappy at home.

We all have become so accustomed to having so much stuff (myself included), that we don’t even realize how much we’ve acquired over time.

Imagine if we fill our homes with just our very favorite things -- photographs that bring back fond memories, comfortable furniture, colors that make us happy -- how different we would feel every time we walk into our home after a long, busy day.

If we can simplify our home and reduce items to only want we need and love, and get rid of the excess stuff that clutters our home and stresses us out, we can eliminate those negative feelings and allocate the saved resources (money, less time cleaning, etc.) towards experiences and things you love that will enrich your life. Sounds great, right?!

Are you tired of feeling irritated when you come home because you aren't sure what to do with unfinished rooms that stare you down?

Do you want to get rid of the clutter and have a well-organized home but don't know how to get there?

Do you blow your decorating budget only to hate everything a few months later?

If you find yourself nodding along, this post is for you. You're certainly not alone here.

By shifting to a simpler, dare I say minimalist, lifestyle, you can reduce stress, irritation, and procrastination of completing projects, and focus on the things that really matter to you.

I've outlined the steps below you can implement right away to simplify your home room by room and start your journey to a beautiful, simpler home and life you love.

UNDERSTAND THE WHY

Before you start decluttering your home, it's important to take a few moments to consider why you're heading into this lifestyle change. Why do you want to declutter your home and live simpler? How are you feeling right now? Then, think about how you think you may feel after decluttering and moving toward a simpler lifestyle. What would your day to day look like? What will be the best improvement for you? Remind yourself of this anytime you feel doubt creep in.

THE DECLUTTERING PROCESS

  1. Start in one room and get rid of everything you haven't used in the last year.
  2.  Then, if there are duplicates (same sizes, colors, types,) whittle it down until you have enough to get by and eliminate the extras.

THE KEY IS TO BE REALISTIC

  • If you haven't used it in the last year, you probably won't use it the next year.
  • If it's broken and you still haven't fixed it, you probably never will.
  • If you once loved it, but it no longer has a use (old gaming system, old phone...) Get rid of it.

Tackle one room at a time, don't rush, and be gracious with yourself. Going through your belongings takes time and can be emotional. But you have to start somewhere.

There are many organizations that happily take donations and can use the items you no longer need.

START SMALL

Start in your smallest room (closet or bathroom perhaps) and begin going through one drawer. Once you start seeing the progress you've made (and how awesome it is), build on that momentum as you move on to the next area.

By breaking it into chunks by room it seems less overwhelming and impossible.

Remember, action takers see the best results!

So, let's start with your first room.

BATHROOM

The bathroom is a breeding ground for junk -- all the makeup, skincare, hair products, and half-used bottles cluttering our cabinets. If you haven't used something in a year or you have way too many towels for you to possibly use in a month before laundry day, get rid of them. Be honest with yourself. Believe me, you’ll be much happier when you see you start to see an organized bathroom!

One make up tip I follow to help beat clutter is I only have one item at a time and then I don't get a new one until it's gone. For example, I only have one mascara, one bronzer, one blush, etc. and I use them until they're gone before I buy a replacement.

Some things you can get rid of right off the bat:

  • Expired prescription medications
  • Half-full bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc.
  • Expired sunscreen or bug spray
  • Hardened bottles of nail polish
  • Old make-up products and brushes
  • Medicines or vitamins you no longer need or take
  • Old towels

KITCHEN

Go through all your pots, pans, utensils, storage containers and remove anything you haven't used in the last year. Then, get rid of the duplicates. If you only cook 3 times a week, you don't really need 20 spatulas. Keep what you need to get you through the week, and then get rid of the rest. The single-use kitchen appliances are not only inefficient, but they take up huge amounts of space so they should be removed.

  • Ice cream maker
  • Popcorn popper
  • Yogurt machine
  • Waffle iron
  • Rice cooker
  • Bread machine
  • Panini press
  • Juicer

For me, I cook about 3-4 times a week and make enough for leftovers to bring to lunch. My dishes usually require one large pan and/or one large pot. To prep, I use a cutting board, sharp knife, and couple stirring spoons. That means our kitchen has a couple cutting boards, a couple sharp knifes for chopping vegetables, and about 5 stirring spoons/spatulas.

To pack leftovers, I have enough Rubbermaid containers to store away, but nothing extra.

Because we've simplified our kitchen and only filled it with what we need, our small galley kitchen has ample storage and we don't even fill all of the cupboards! It also allows room to store away the toaster and blender we use daily so they aren't sitting on the counter.

LIVING ROOM

The living  room can quickly turn into a danger zone if you're not careful. Gaming systems, DVDs, and books multiply and suddenly your living room is full. Go through every single DVD and only keep the movies you actually watched in the last year. Same goes for games and the gaming systems.

An even better solution to cutting clutter is going digital. Buy and download movies and games on your iPad or Amazon account and you can get rid of physical DVDs for good.

I am far from a movie buff (you can name almost any movie and you can bet I haven't watched it) so the living room wasn't a huge problem area for us.

BEDROOMS

You know the drill. Go through every drawer, vanity, storage bin and get rid of everything you haven't used in the last year. This should be a fairly easy room to tackle as long as you're bedroom has not become a storage area.

My biggest culprit in the bedroom is jewelry stored on my vanity. I have my everyday jewelry out, but the statement necklaces and other earrings I wear occasionally end up all over the vanity cluttering it up. Keeping the jewelry to only the items I wear and love and getting rid of the others helps keeping my vanity clean much easier.

CLOSETS

Can you believe the average person only wears about 20% of their closet? That's a lot of wasted space (and money)!

While most of us hold onto clothes thinking we'll need it someday, the reality is we will probably never wear it. Again, it's that mindset shift where if we fill our closets with stuff we actually wear and love, getting dressed will be much easier.

Time to get rid of the worn out shoes, jeans that don't fit, and the tops just aren't your style. If you haven't worn it in the last year, you won't miss it any way!

Take EVERYTHING in your closet and dresser and dump it on your bed so your closet is empty. Then, take each item and put it in 1 of 4 piles:

  • Love - I love and wear these items constantly.
  • Maybe - I want to keep it but don't know why (we all have some).
  • Donate - These items do not fit me well or my lifestyle
  • Trash - These items are worn out and can't be repurposed.

Don't think too hard about it, the answer should be pretty obvious. Once you've gone through the entire pile on your bed, bag up the trash and donate piles and load them in your car ready to drop off or put them somewhere out of sight.

Take each item in your Maybe pile and ask yourself these questions

  1. Would I buy this in the store today?
  2. Will I wear this in the next 3-6 months (or ever)?

If the answer is no, start another donate pile. If yes, put it away in your closet.

Put everything in your Love pile back in your closet neatly.

One of the hardest parts for me when cleaning out my closet is the guilt of getting rid of something that I paid decent money for. I try to sell items that are still worth something and in good shape, but I honestly find it sits around longer because it didn't sell on eBay and makes me frustrated when I see that reminder in my closet.

Part of living simpler means buying less. Sometimes it takes getting rid of perfectly good $80 pants you wore once to stop spending money on things you don't truly love.

Remember, if you're questioning anything, remind yourself of these 3 things:

  • If you haven't used it in the last year, you probably won't use it the next year.
  • If it's broken and you still haven't fixed it, you probably never will.
  • If you once loved it, but it no longer has a use (old gaming system, old phone, black dress pants...) Get rid of it.

The point isn't to see how much stuff you can get rid of, it's simply freeing yourself from the items cluttering your home you don't use.

Decluttering is a Process

Remember that living a simpler life is a process and takes time. Start somewhere but give yourself grace for not completely overhauling your home in one day. Like anything, it takes practice and persistence. Being vigilant about clutter will take some learning, and to a certain extent, things will always need to be exfoliated from your home. Processes like regularly scheduled de-cluttering sessions and buying less will go a long way towards making decluttering easier.

What's your problem area in your home you want to tackle? Do you consider yourself a minimalist? If you would like to learn more about simplifying your home, please sign up here for more posts like this.

Not loving your home? Learn the decorating basics and how to create a home you love that reflects your style with this free 5-day decorating challenge!

 

23 Things Cluttering Your Home You Can Get Rid of Right Now

23 things cluttering your home

Have you felt stressed out by the state of your home recently? Are the stacks of papers from tax season still laying out? Or maybe your new spring sandals you just bought don't fit in your overflowing closet? When life gets busy, clutter always finds a way to creep in our homes (and you've seen what my home looks like on a typical day to prove it.) Whether it's because our busy work schedule hasn't allowed time for a spring clean out, or we just can't bear the thought of throwing out our favorite (yet worn out) flats, the clutter is stressing us out. We hold on to things hoping we'll finish reading that stack of magazines or fix the broken necklace, but when we don't get around to it, we feel bad.

For example, I was hanging onto allllll the Lucky magazines I had since high school because I thought I might want to reference them again, but with Pinterest and a thing called the Internet, they were just collecting dust.

I won't get into the psychology behind clutter, but the fact is clutter ends up weighing us down physically and mentally, causing us to be less productive and unhappy.

I'm striving to live simpler and only keep things I truly love and use. The act of simplifying our home and removing the unnecessary things that inadvertently anger us will not only help reduce clutter, but make us happier and stress less about the current state of our home.

Here is a list of 23 things that you can get rid of right now that are cluttering your home and mind.

  1. Dried nail polish bottles - Throw out any bottle that is dried up or a color you no longer use.
  2. Beauty products - Under the sink cabinets are major culprits for storing extra clutter and unused items. Get rid of all the hair products, lotions, etc. you haven't used in the last 6 months.
  3. Expired sunscreen bottles - Sunscreen goes bad over time so check the date and throw out anything old.
  4. Single-use kitchen gadgets - These are one of my biggest pet peeves. Single-use items not only take up lots of space, but they only serve one purpose. How many times have you really made waffles in the last year?
  5. Mismatched storage containers - Get rid of the containers with missing lids or any  you haven't used in the last 6 months.
  6. Dried up markers or pens - If a pen doesn't work, throw it away.
  7. Broken or unworn jewelry - If you haven't fixed it yet, you probably never will. Get rid of all jewelry you haven't worn in the last year.
  8. Broken sunglasses - No longer wearable so just get rid of them.
  9. Scarves you don't wear - Seemingly harmless, they are taking up extra space.
  10. Stained or ripped clothing - Get rid of clothing that is stained, ripped, or anything else you don't wear. It is just taking up precious closet space.
  11. Mismatched socks - Another pet peeve of mine. Jordon has tons of mismatched socks, so every time I do laundry and fold socks, I get frustrated because I can never find the right match. The solution is to buy socks in just one brand and color so all socks are the same and you aren't wasting extra time looking for the exact match for each pair.
  12. Unworn or damaged shoes - Shoes that are uncomfortable, that don't fit right, or you don't wear are just taking up space. Get rid of them.
  13. Old magazines or newspapers - You can hold onto a few of your favorites, but the weekly issues of People magazine are safe to recycle.
  14. Greeting cards - I usually keep them for a few weeks and then toss them. Some I hold on to if it's special by keeping it in a file folder. You shouldn't feel bad about tossing cards as I don't think the sender expects you to keep it forever.
  15. Cords - Ahh technology. There are cords for everything and you probably don't know what half of them are for. Get rid of them. If you have cords and you do know what they plug into, get a designated bin and label them.
  16. Old makeup - Most makeup has expiration dates and goes bad. Throw out anything that's the wrong color, expired, or you haven't used in the last 6 months.
  17. Samples - Those beauty samples you get and never use are just clutter.
  18. Travel size bottles - You don't need 10 travel size bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Keep one set and throw the rest out.
  19. Hair tools - Get rid of the hair dryer attachments, curlers, and other tools that you don't use.
  20. Towels - You only need enough towels to get you by until laundry day plus a couple extras for guests. Any holy or dingy towels can be tossed or used as cleaning rags (however, you don't need 20 cleaning rags).
  21. Old cell phones - There really isn't a use for these and they are most-likely outdated. You can usually bring it in to your carrier and they'll recycle it.
  22. Candles - If a candle is gone or you don't like the scent, get rid of them. If you plan on removing the wax and using the jar, do it.
  23. Text books - I have text books from college that I planned on selling on Amazon but they just weren't worth much. Donate them and free up your space.

The first time sorting through and simplifying our belongings is quite challenging, but once we get the initial work done and knock out the "easy" stuff from the list above, you'll notice a sense of relief and begin to enjoy a less cluttered home. Keeping up with seasonal routines can be done more easily and often.

I love cleaning out my closet and do it often because I love the feeling and having a more organized closet. I no longer stare at an overflowing closet full of stuff I hate. What a bad way to start the morning!

What are you hanging on to that's weighing you down?

 

My Method To Decluttering Your Home In 5 Minutes

how to declutter your home in 5 minutes with the surface sweep technique

Hey0! Sorry about the MIA around here lately. I'm working on some exciting stuff behind the scenes so the blog tends to get a little neglected. In case you missed it, I'm sending a weekly newsletter with tons of decorating tips and lots of freebies. I'd love it if you joined us! You can get all the tips and learn how to decorate a home you love right here.

How are you? What's new? I'm pumped spring is slowly making its comeback. Grass is greener, temps are warmer, and the days are longer. We took a little break from projects briefly, but we tackled a couple this past weekend I'll share soon. I'm making more progress on our basement family room (sneak peek here) and I even have a few updates in our main living room involving lighting and blinds. Lots of goodness ahead.

But today I'm sharing one of my favorite cleaning tricks for decluttering your home. 

I'm a bit of a neat freak so when the clutter starts to pile up(here's what a typical day looks like in our home), I get a little anxious and do this quick run through around our home and it instantly feels cleaner and more organized. Plus it only takes me about 5 minutes!

THE SURFACE SWEEP Coined by Apartment Therapy, the "surface sweep" is exactly as it sounds: removing the everyday items that pile up. No matter how clean your home is, the everyday stuff piled up on our coffee tables and countertops makes it feel the opposite. 

Here's how the surface sweep works...

Start in one room and clear all surfaces of the items that don't belong. Dishes in the sink, magazines in the magazine rack, books on the shelf, junk mail in the recycling bin, blankets folded, pillows on the couch, and so on, then move to the next room and do it all over. This isn't full-out cleaning, it's simply a quick reset in 5 minutes or less.

It's amazing how clearing all surfaces suddenly makes your home feel organized! This is a fantastic trick for staying ahead of clutter before it gets bad and then requires more of a time investment to finish the job.

Try and see how it goes! I don't do it every night, but every few days when things start to pile up I'll cruise through the main living areas and put everything in its place. Waking up to a clean, organized home makes all the difference.

Do you have a cleaning routine that works great for you? I'd love to hear about it!

 

How to Achieve the Modern Cottage Look

rustic modern cottage basement living room

There is another half of our house you haven't seen yet. I'm slowing furnishing the basement and making a few updates before I share the reveal, but it's coming soon! Because our house is a 1960s split level ranch, the main living room, bathroom, office, bedroom, and kitchen is upstairs, with the entryway, laundry area, second living room, and another bedroom in the basement.

For the basement design, I'm sticking with the same modern beachy cottage theme found throughout our house, but slightly more rustic. I like the idea of making the basement a little more manly so Jordon has a space he loves and can watch football while I'm taking photos of projects in our upstairs living room and not blocking his view :) (Need help finding your decor style? This post should help you out.)

So far we have a rustic barn door TV console Jordon made, a couch, end table, a modern chair that was my grandma's I had reupholstered, a tree stump from the neighbors, and some wall art. The basement living room is isn't huge so it just needs a couple more pieces (a bar, lamps, and greenery) as finishing touches.

Achieving the rustic modern cottage look is fairly simple when you stick to the fundamentals:

  • rustic wood
  • blue accents
  • nautical elements
  • white walls
  • something wicker

Get the look:

media center | fiddle leaf tree | lake sign | pillow | cowhide rug | wicker stools | brass lamp | black wall sconces | tree stump | chair | flag

I always create a mood board when designing a room so I can visually see how everything will go together before I buy stuff. This step is incredibly important and helps ensure you are achieving your vision for the room and staying on budget. Carefully vetted design decisions means saving money because you aren't redoing it a year later!

Later this week I'm sharing how we installed a stairs runner with before and after pictures.

How to Mix Patterns Like a Pro

Happy Monday! We're coming off an amazing weekend with temps in the 40's and lots of sunshine. Sadly, the forecast says 6-10 inches of snow tomorrow with blizzard-like winds. Midwest weather, I tell ya.

We did manage to install our stairs runner Sunday after painting the stairs white last weekend. My measuring skills failed me once again and we are short a runner so we'll be finishing that up next weekend, but it already looks so much better! I'll share a before and after with tutorial soon.

Today we're here to talk about mixing patterns. It's a great way to bring color and personality into your home, but without a few conscious decisions, your home can quickly turn into an overwhelming pattern overload.

Luckily, there are a few tricks to making patterns look pulled together and NOT like you've lost your mind.

You can mix patterns many different ways in your home (rugs, art, textiles), but today I'm going to use the pillow example. I will show you 3 different tips depending on your comfort level to follow when mixing patterns for a pulled-together, cohesive result. These tips can be applied anytime you mix patterns, not just for pillows :)

floral, leopard, chevron

1. Scale is Key

The single most important tip when mixing patterns is to pair a larger scale print with a smaller scale print. For example, you can see the pillow with a large floral print and lots of white space above has a much larger print scale than the other two grey pillows who's patterns are repeated over and over and over.  Pairing a larger print with a smaller helps balance the look and the white space is a nice contrast that lets the eyes "rest".

buffalo check, dalmation print, faux fur

2. Stick to the Same Color Family

A good rule of thumb when mixing patterns is to stick to the same color family for a unified look. It's an easy way to safely mix patterns if you're still building up your confidence. Add a solid pillow to break up the look and you're all set.

palm print, stripe, geo print

3. Add an Unexpected Pop of Color

If you're looking for a bolder look, keep the combination from looking too predictable and boring by adding a pop of color. In the example above, I pulled the subtle green from the stripe pillow and chose a pillow with that same green color. When you create your home color palette, you can use your chosen colors as you guide for pillows too!

Following these 3 tips will have you mixing patterns like a pro in no time.

My go-tos for pillows are Etsy (this shop has tons of affordable options), Tonic Living, Gordmans, and of course Target.

 

 

Best Source For Affordable Boho Pillows

Happy Bachelor Day! Seriously, Mondays instantly get better with The Bachelor back on. Anyone else tuning in tonight?  I hope you had a great weekend, and maybe are even lucky enough to still call today the weekend with MLK Day. I spent mine indoors trying to stay warm and organizing the house a bit more. Super exciting, right? :)

You know those super cool shibori and vintage boho-looking pillows that are everywhere? The ones that cost like $200 for one pillow?  I love love love the look but gosh, $200 for a pillow is not in my budget.

Well, I found a shop on Etsy that sells boho pillows for an affordable price! There are tons of options to choose from (some are over $50) and I even noticed all pillows are currently 25% off. I double checked and the seller said the sale is valid through January.

I haven't picked one up for myself just yet but I'm eyeing this one, this one, and this one for our living room or bedroom.

I love how Brit of House Updated styled her boho pillows in a bright window seat. What a gorgeous space.

The offer was too good not to share with you guys! Enjoy :)

 

 

6 Plants (Almost) Impossible To Kill

6 indoor plants impossible to kill even if you're a beginner

Plants instantly liven up a room (no pun intended) by adding a pop of color and nice texture. I like to decorate with plants by adding them to shelves, night stands, and coffee tables because I think they look great and pull everything together. It's no wonder if you look at any well-designed room on Pinterest they all have one thing in common: plants!

I love me some flowers just like the next lady, however, the great thing about plants is they last much longer and there are many affordable options.

I've never claimed to have a green thumb and honestly, never experimented with plants until a few months ago. I shied away from plants before because I didn't want to invest a lot only to have them die weeks later. I figured it was time to venture out and try the whole real plant thing since they always look so pretty in homes.

Costa Farms recommended some low-maintenance plants that are super affordable to help ease into it, and so far so good!

Right now I have 8 plants in my home, 3 of them I've had for about 4 months now and they are still flourishing! While I won't claim my green thumb just yet, I will share with you my favorite indoor plants all under $5 and how I'm keeping them alive. With these plants I've kept a consistent schedule and water them every Saturday (or Sunday) and they seem to really like it!

Fun fact: Did you know more indoor plants die every year from overwatering? Who knew!

Rex Begonia

This pretty purple plant likes medium to high sunlight. Every week I give it a little water, about a half a cup's worth. I don't actually measure, just eyeball it - just enough to make the soil wet. It's better to keep this guy a little too dry than too wet, and the soil may actually look like it's "cracking" but that's ok.

Warning sign: if it's looking droopy, move it to a place where it receives more light. I had to move mine around in the office for a few weeks before I found its happy place.

Gold Pothos

This guy is one of the easiest indoor plants to grow. I have this on my nightstand where it gets indirect sunlight and it's doing great. These plants prefer moist soil so I give mine a good watering every week, about a cup's worth.

Marginata Dracaena

These plants thrive in medium to high light and need about about a half a cup of water every week. I had this in our living room for a while, but the tips were getting a little brown with the dry winter air so I moved it to our bathroom for more humidity.  I really like the look of this plant because it has a modern feel with the spiky leaves, and after many more years it will start to grow into a tree!

Lemon Surprise Dracaena

Another dracaena variety, this one is in our living room. This plant is easy to grow and likes moist soil and medium to high light. I water give it about a half cup to a cup of water weekly.

Marble Queen Pothos

This is a pretty, lighter green plant that we have sitting on our kitchen table. It likes medium to high sunlight and to be kept moist, so I give it a cup of water every week.

Hoya Rope Wax Plant

This is a vine plant but it grows pretty slowly. Wax plants are another easy-growing plant that require low light and water. It's sold in a hanging basket but I have mine on a shelf in our office. I have a totem stuck in the soil to keep it growing upwards so the stems don't get too long. It can grow in low, medium, or bright light and requires little water. I give it a cup or more water every week. This is one of my best looking plants and I never had any trouble with it wilting or leaves turning brown.

Things To Keep In Mind Regarding Plants

The size of the plant and container it's in can affect the amount of water it needs, these are just my guidelines. Obviously a bigger plant will need more water, and terra cotta pots tend to absorb water so those plants might need a little extra. All of my plants are in plastic pots with holes on the bottom to drain so the roots don't rot. I have found that being consistent and not overwatering has worked best for my plants.

If you are a beginner like I was, I'd highly suggest starting with either a Hoya Rope Wax Plant or a Marginata Dracaena. They are super easy and look great without much attention. Even if you miss a watering they will still do ok. Beginning with a low maintenance plant with a small investment ($5 for each) will build your confidence and your green thumb.

These Costa Farms Exotic Angel plants can all be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot, or Walmart for under $5. Such a good deal for a beautiful addition to your home!

I have plants in every room except for the basement and I love it. It really completes the spaces without having too much decor sitting around.

Now that I'm feeling more confident in my skills, I want to try a larger plant. I hear the sansevieria (snake plant) is indestructible.

 

7 Best Sources For Affordable Rugs

7 best sources for affordable rugs

 

Rugs are one of my favorite things to pick out when decorating a new room. They drastically change the look and feel of a space. A bold rug (like mine above), adds tons of color and the pattern livens up the room. On the other hand, a neutral rug would give the same room a calming feel. Check out what our living room looked like when we just moved in with a white shag rug. What a difference! Just as shoes can make or break an outfit, I think rugs can make or break a room.

Sadly, rugs can be costly.

When I was researching rugs for my apartment a few years ago, I was determined to find affordable options, and I did! I was surprised to find so many great sources out there so I thought it was time to share them with you.

Rugs USA - This is my go-to source for rugs. I own 3 large rugs from them and each one is super high-quality and beautiful. My blue living rug is so thick and soft, even though it's not a shag, and it has held up wonderfully with the heavy traffic in the living room. Rugs USA selection is incredible with thousands of rugs to choose from. They always have 70% off or more sales so you can get a rug on major discount with free shipping.

Dash and Albert - A beautiful site with a smaller collection and tons of adorable dog pictures. The prices are slightly higher but they have a great selection of classic rugs that you can't go wrong. The site is less overwhelming than Rugs USA if you are indecisive. I personally haven't purchased from them yet, but I do have my eye on this pretty rugby stripe runner for our stairs.

Target - I can't not include Target in this lineup. We all know their prices are great and designs are on point. I've noticed online they offer special savings offers and have a bigger selection than in-stores.

World Market - I love World Market for their fun and colorful decor. You can find some great deals on rugs if you look for them on sale or if they are offering a special percent off event, usually around holidays.

Zinc Door - An online decor store that has a similar selection of rugs as Rugs USA, most of which qualify for free shipping.

Urban Outfitters - Not just a clothing store, they have great home decor and rugs. They are reasonably priced and perfect for a boho-chic look. Most of their rugs are on the smaller side, 5x7 or under.

Overstock - I found that a lot of the rugs at Rugs USA are also on Overstock. Because the selection is so huge and it isn't the most friendly site for browsing, I usually look for rugs elsewhere, then once I find one I like, I check to see if it's at Overstock for less.

I hope these sources are helpful on your next rug hunt! Do you have a favorite source that I didn't include?

Let me know if you'd like a post walking you through steps how to pick out a rug. There are so many amazing options, I know how hard it can be to choose one!

 

 

How To Create A Color Palette For Your Entire Home

how-to-create-a-whole-home-color-palette

Ever wondered how designer homes are so perfectly put-together that flow nicely from room to room? Aside from the fact that the designers are talented, they use one simple strategy that gives it that perfect flow that we can apply to our own home, designer or not. That strategy is a whole house color palette.

A whole house color palette includes a specific color scheme of 3-5 colors made up of paint, textiles, and decor that are carried out through the entire house. It makes everything flow well together and gives it that pulled together designer look we love.

One of the first things to think about when decorating is identifying colors. Your home's color palette is the foundation of all other decisions (furniture, decor,) so it's important to really think about it and get it right.

Now, I know it sounds intimidating to pick out the color palette for your entire home, but it's actually pretty simple when we break it down AND it will make decision-making easier when it comes to decorating the rest of your home.

When I was planning decor for our first house, I created inspiration boards that contained similar color palettes and they helped guide me through the entire decorating process and made it so much easier and kept me on track. If you take a glance inside my home you will instantly notice a common theme: blue.

So, today I'm going to walk you through the process of choosing a color palette for your entire home.

 

First things first.

  • Do what feels right for you. At the end of the day it's your home so do what you love.
  • Your color palette should contain 3-5 colors. This is not just for paint colors, but for the entire home including textiles, furniture, decor and anything else that makes up your home.
  • It takes time. Decorating is a process and does not happen over time. The whole home color palette is made to guide your decorating decisions and create a home you love that flows nicely.

Now let's get started! Pull out your notebook and let's answer a few preliminary questions.

Inspiration

Take a look at your home decor Pinterest boards (or create one if you haven't!) and notice what colors you're drawn to. Do your favorite home pins have warm colors or cool? Bold colors or more muted? Write down any common themes you notice from your pins.

cool-tone and warm-tone

Next, write down what colors you love. This doesn't mean if you love pink to paint all your walls pink, but it's a good starting point we can use later.

What colors do you already have in your home?

Think of things you currently own like existing furniture, cabinetry, countertops, and flooring. Are they warm or cool colors?

How do you want your space to feel?

The way you want your home to feel hugely impacts your color decisions. If you want a calming, spa-like home you should choose light and neutral colors. If you want a home full of energy and contrast, brighter, bolder colors are for you.

Which do you prefer:

Monochromatic - different shades or hues of the same color. My home is monochromatic with blues.

Harmonious - colors are next to each other on the color wheel.  For example, blues and greens.

Complementary - colors are opposite from each other on the color wheel

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Now it's time to make some paint color decisions! I provided rough percentages that each color should make up as part of the color palette in your home. This is a guide that should help when choosing colors and picturing the end result.

Color #1: Choose A White Paint (25%)

This will be used for trim, doors, closets, furniture and more.

Not all white is the same. Some have warm undertones and some are cool. Based on your notes from before, if you were drawn to warmer colors on Pinterest, pick a white with warm undertones and visa versa.

Color #2: Choose A Neutral (25-50%)

More often than not your biggest living area, usually the living and/or kitchen, will be a neutral (especially if it's open concept). This does not have to mean plain white or boring. Again, if you're drawn to warm colors choose a neutral with warm undertones. You will also use this color for hallways.

If your biggest living area is a room that is somewhat excluded from others that you can get away with choosing a bolder color, or if you really want a deep navy kitchen for example, you will choose that color for #3. However, if you do this, you will want to paint neighboring rooms and hallways neutral so still pick a neutral for those.

Color #3: Choose A Saturated Color (25-50% depending on your love for color)

This could be one of the colors you love that you wrote down earlier, or if you really want a deep navy kitchen like we talked about in color 2, this is it.

Keep in mind this does not necessarily mean you have to paint a room in your house this saturated color. For those of you that are color shy or who are wanting a calming feeling, you can simply use this saturated color by bringing in a couple throw pillows. If you want the bolder look, use it in bigger doses throughout your home.

Color #4: Choose Another Color (10-15%)

  • If you are going for a monochromatic color scheme this color will be a lighter shade variation of color 3.
  • If you are going for a harmonious color scheme this will be a color that is next to color 3 on the color wheel.
  • If you are going for a complementary color scheme, find color 3 on the color wheel and move directly across the wheel and choose that color, or one up or down.

Color #5: Choose An Accent Color (10%)

This color is just that: an accent. It should be used in small doses throughout your home. I like to suggest making this color an unexpected pop to your color scheme that is opposite your other colors' undertone. Meaning, if you went with cool tones for colors 1-4, make this a warm-tone. If your palette so far is monochromatic blue, consider making your accent color coral. You can do something as minimal as adding a  couple coral picture frames in your living room for an unexpected touch.

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One of the easiest ways to update your home for seasonal decor or if you want something different is by swapping out color 4 or 5 for something different. If you only want 3 colors in your home, eliminate color 1 (or 2) and 4.  Just have fun with it! Before you commit to a color palette, swatch it with paint samples so you can see all the colors together.

My color palette for our home is cool-toned monochromatic. We have very orange-toned wood trim that I didn't want to paint, so I complimented it with cool whites and a variety of  blues throughout our home. Personally, I went with all white walls because I like the clean modern look so I got away with only choosing 3 colors for my palette: white, dark blue, and aqua. As you look through our home, you will notice the majority is white, then a shade of dark blue in each room, with small accents of aqua. During the summer I brought in touches of coral, and now for the fall I replaced that with warm golden yellow as you'll see in my fall home tour. If you want to see an example of a home with more bold colors, check out Place Of My Taste. Her home is full of life but she still ties it all together with similar colors like pops of yellow.

modern-living-room with blue accents
modern-living-room with blue accents
blue kitchen cabinets
modern white and navy bathroom
modern industrial office

I know this is a TON of information so let me know if you have any questions. Once you select your color palette, that doesn't mean you are limited to just those colors. It's simply a guide that hopefully makes decorating your entire home easier since it focuses your direction and limits your decisions. Have fun!

Let me know in the comments what your home color palette is.

Warm tone/cool tone images via Jillian Harris