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Renovations, Stage 1: Dunzo.

Aaaand we’re back!  I know my last renovation update was quite a while ago, but the up side for you is that from last post to this post, we have time traveled through a whole lot of in between to get to the money shots of a finished project.  Well, technically not completely finished, but finished enough to be dramatic.  The in between was boring and chaotic, you didn’t miss much.  We experienced the joy of moving everything out of our house (except the basement, but that’s still pretty much everything), sleeping on a mattress on the floor in said basement, and dealing with some seriously stinky fumes following the floor refinishing.  Plus the general randomness of various contractors and subcontractors roaming the house from day to day.  One morning I woke up to no less than 10 men and 1 dog.  His name was Butter and he was wearing a hard hat.  Just  kidding, there was a dog, but I only wish he was wearing a hard hat.  Anyways, I think I’ll start by making myself a  liar and showing you a little bit of the in between.  Here we are after the raw wood was laid in living room #2 and the kitchen (also they had to weave in wood where the dividing wall had been):

And then after some of the drywall finishing was complete:
Now for the time traveling:
Bam.  Aren’t the floors glorious?  We had every inch of existing hardwood sanded down, and then all the new and old wood restained with a nice glossy finish.  I would have loved to stain them dark as the night, but pretty much every person in the United States warned us that very dark wood floors are terribly hard to keep clean.  Apparently, the darker the wood, the more dust and dirt shows.  So we compromised and went for a medium brown.  All the furniture you see will change as we upgrade (we already have a new sectional and dining table on order) but let’s talk layout.  Starting with the above view, as you pan to the left, what was living room #1, remains, well, the living room.  We have changed the direction of the couch so that when you walk through the front door, the seating area is open and inviting:
It will be more inviting once we have nicer furniture and decor, but in the meantime, you are still invited.  Panning to the right, living room #2 will now serve as our dining space:
Our new table will have seating for 6, including an awesome bench which my husband is building himself (!true story).  Right now we have a little pygmy table sort of randomly placed, the new table will probably be positioned farther away from the couch.  There will be plenty of room to walk between the two, and we’ll hang a chandelier to anchor the dining space.  Both ‘rooms’ open  to the kitchen:
I can’t tell you how cool it is to eat, lounge, and cook in essentially one huge room.  Walls are for the birds, I’m totally sold on open concept.  Off the kitchen is our old dining room, which will now become a multi-functional home office/play room/guest room thanks to a new sleeper sofa:
It’s already full of random junk, but eventually we’ll whip it into shape.  Also, as you can see, we’re missing a couple door casings and need trim work throughout.  All in good time.  Here’s a view from the kitchen:
Oooop.  I have just revealed out dirty little secret.  We upgraded the tv and this happened:
Is it huge enough to see from space? Yes.  A 65 incher to be exact.  Would many (or most) people consider it over the top, possibly even a tacky eye sore?  Probably.  But, what can I tell you.  I am my father’s daughter.  And if you know Ken, you know that if he likes 5 things, 3 of them are big TVs.  It’s in my blood.  I should hate it from a decor perspective, I should. But I don’t.  I know the whole situation beneath the TV is made of nightmares, but we’ll be cleaning it up, hiding the wires in the wall, and bringing in a handsome piece of media furniture.  Even if you hate the giant black box, I will make it my mission to win you over by making that area as charming as possible.

Behind that wall is our entryway:
Which needs a makeover (like every other space) including replacing and relocating that light fixture – as it is now, it hangs past our TV wall which doesn’t make sense, so we’ll move it deeper in and closer to the door.  Add it to the unending to-do list.  Speaking of upcoming projects, now that our kitchen is all exposed, we’re itching to remodel.  And by itcing, I mean we’ve already purchased new cabinets.  It’s happening.  In March, so stay tuned.  Might I interest you in a sneak peak? I might.






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Smell you later, WALLS

When I started blogging again, I promised some wall-knocking down shenanigans.  Today I get to make good on that promise, because walls have officially come down.  And we’re stoked, because it’s gonna be great.  To show off the progress, I first need to show some before pictures of our layout.   Before you see these, know that there was absolutely no staging, and no ‘decor’ to be found in our previous set up.  I’ve been holding off on doing much with the main living spaces until we finished the renovations.  So everything you see, including the paint on the walls, is basically how the house has been since we moved in.  Let’s start at the front door:
This is the view as soon as you walk in…I’m standing in our entryway hall.  To your right is the hallway leading to our bedrooms and bathrooms.  The opening on the left leads to our living room.  And straight ahead you’ll see Jeff vacumming the fireplace in our second living room.  Yes, our house has 2 living rooms back to back, side by side.  Which we found redundant and a waste of space.  We knew that even if we put living furniture in both of them, the one with the tv would get used, and the other would sit untouched the majority of the time.  Our house isn’t really big enough to function well with a den and a formal living room, so we knew from the get go that we wanted to change the way these rooms are laid out.  Here’s a picture looking into living room #1:
Straight ahead is the entrance into our dining area, if you walk into that room and turn right, it leads to the kitchen.  I know our Christmas tree was lame…we were technically supposed to do our renovations in December, so I left ornaments off since I knew it would have to be moved around.  We found out the second week of December that because of hurricane Sandy, our work would be postponed until January.  But at that point I wasn’t willing to schlep out the ornament boxes and dress up the tree.  So don’t judge my Christmas spirit, I have an excuse.  Here’s a close-up of the wall in the room that divides double living room:
And on the other side of that wall you’ll find living room #2 complete with gross dingy carpet:
The fireplace is behind me and to the right from this angle.  As you can see, living room #2 also leads into our kitchen.  Here’s another shot showing the back wall with sliders and the  corner of the fireplace:
Moving on, here’s a look standing in the kitchen, on the left is the doorway into living room #2, on the right, doorway into the dining room:
And here we are turning all the way right and looking into the dining room:
Yes, the table cloth vaporized and the sofa from living room #2 has magically transported into the dining room.  Don’t ask questions, just go with it.  If you step into the dining room and turn left, you’ve come full circle, back to living room #1:
Hopefully, that give you a decent understanding of the layout.  Now, let’s get down to the good stuff.  Before/after reno comparisons. Starting back at the front door, our entryway (for the full effect, you can click on each of these images for an enlarged view):
Notice anything…missing?  We 86’d the wall dividing our two living rooms.  So now when you look into living room #1:
You see the kitchen and both living rooms combined into one great is the dividing wall before and after:
We also removed the majority of the wall around the kitchen, here’s another comparison standing in what was living room #2 (carpet was removed to reveal linoleum, just what we were hoping to find);
So we have a completely open concept.  Before/after standing in the kitchen:
I don’t have a before picture of the entry doorway from the kitchen into the dining area, but for the record, we widened it.  This doorway used to be about half this size (it was tiiight):
And then here’s the view from inside the dining area looking at living room #1:
If you can’t tell, we’re closing up this wall.  The dining area will no become more of a room, with only one entrance – from the kitchen.  And it will no longer be a dining area.  But since this post is already pretty long, I’m not going to get into the new plans for each room/space.  I’ll be back with updates and more details as we make progress.  We’ve got new floors, new furniture, and drwall coming. I promise the pictures will get prettier.


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Christmas Mantle

What?  I said I would post today, and it’s still today.  I even have a few hours to spare.  Don’t be mad.  As promised, here’s a look at our holiday decor…shall we check out the mantle?  We shall.


As you may note, I followed pretty much the same exact road map as our fall mantle.  Star on the right, vases on the left, round objects flanking the mirror.  What can I say?  It’s a formula that works so I’m milking it.  I also went with a pretty traditional style.  I absolutely love all the cool and funky ways people are reinventing Christmas decorations.  I would usually be the first one to insert loud pops of color, or to incorporate some modern touches.  But Christmas for me always feels like it should be lots of neutrals, metallics, evergreen and woodsy accents.  It just makes me feel cozy inside.

For pulling this look together, I tried to use stuff that we already own.  A lot of the items, like the wreaths, are actually from our wedding.  Which hopefully explains the banner…don’t worry, I didn’t get ripped off at a Christmas discount store.  The ‘A’ instead of ‘E’ is purposeful, it hung in our reception hall since we had a Christmasy wedding.  I could change it back to an E, but I kind of love the idea of resurrecting it every Christmas and remembering our big day.

I had the golden star on hand.  Don’t ask me why.  I think it’s safe to say my weaknesses in life are stars, mirrors, and stars made of mirrors.  Let’s go for some detail shots:




The pine cones are the ones I originally made for my fall garland.  I did go out and by the evergreen bunches at AC Moore.  But they were cheap and I”ll reuse them each year.

I also caved and bought the tin bucket from Target.  Faux bois was invovled, it’s not my fault.  And because I’m weird, I will also offer a lengthy explanation on the wood.  I always notice in magazines that the wood stacked next to the fireplace is pretty and photo shoot ready.  The logs we have on hand are not so nice.  They’re the color of – no other way to describe it – poop. They look like we dragged them up from the bottom of a swamp.  So I was thrilled when I discovered that Wegman’s carries bags of lovely white birch logs, perfect for people like me who are psychos about the color and aesthetics of their wood.  Thankfully, 1 bag filled my bucket and it was only $6.  For me, that’s a Christmas miracle .  I tossed in a couple of battery powered light strings to polish things off.


So that’s my mantle.  I love it, It makes me wanna curl up and take a Christmas slumber.  Feel free to send me pics or your holiday mantle, I love comparing notes.


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It’s a Gift Guide!

Woop.  I’m pretty excited about this post.  It was fun to write and hopefully will be fun to read.  I decided to throw together a little gift guide for anyone out there in need of some inspiration.  Obviously it’s geared towards gifting women, because, well..I’m a woman, and I generally find buying for men to be only slightly easier than hacking into a NASA computer.  However, in my defense, a couple of these items could definitely work for a man or woman.  Is this a thinly veiled copy of my personal wish list?  Guilty.  Well, kind of.  Some of the items I already own, so it’s more of a list of things I endorse or want, plus my sales pitch for why I think they’d make great presents.  I tried to hit a bunch of different categories for the type of person you might be buying for, so it can help with any lady you have left on your list, or maybe even give you some ideas for what to ask for.  Oh and, I know I flaked last week and didn’t post, so I’ll be making that up tomorrow.  Check back for some Christmas decorating updates.  Without further ado, here’s my gift guide (with every item checking in at under $100, most items far below it):

1. For the Pregnant Girl

Pea in the Pod Leggings
Shocker, I know, that I’m starting off with the pregnant girl.  I just couldn’t help myself considering these leggings have changed my life over the past week.  I’d love to send a pair to every pregnant lady in the world from secret santa.  My love for these leggings is three fold.  Fold 1: They’re nice and thick, meaning minimal see through factor even when you sit  or stretch in them.  Fold 2: They’re crazy comfortable, like not wearing pants at all, and, Fold 3 – Unlike other maternity leggings (and pretty much all maternity pants in general) these don’t ride down as you wear them.  At all.  Zero hiking up, zero adjusting.  So if you happen to have a pregnant woman to buy for, or you are a pregnant woman – these are the perfect gift.  And they’re currently buy 1 get 1 half off.  Can’t beat that with a stick.

2. For the Home Decor/DIY Enthusiast Girl
Inspiration Books
Obviously there’s plenty of amazing home decor/DIY books out there, but I just picked a few that have come out recently and are on my radar.  I would be remiss if I didn’t start off with the reigning king and queen of DIY blogging.  There is no other source from which I draw more inspiration than John and Sherry.  As you can see, I refer to them in regular conversation as ‘John and Sherry’, like we’re friends.  So why don’t I own their book yet?  Good question, I don’t know why.  I’d love it as a Christmas gift.  My second choice comes from Ana White and her empire of carpentry, blogging and being obnoxiously beautiful.  Seriously she’s super hero status in my mind.  I’m in awe of her skills, so I’m sure her book is a worthy read. A couple other choices to round out the list: Sabrina Soto Home Design, and Jonathan Adler 100 ways to Happy Chic Your Life

PS elements
Photoshop Elements
I’ve heard that this JV version has a lot of the same functionality as regular photoshop, at a way more manageable price tag.  That is if you’re interested in saving $630. Which, maybe you’re not, I don’t know your life.  If you’ve never touched any version of photoshop, don’t be scared.  There are plenty of tutorials and videos available online…even just by searching ‘photoshop elements’ on pinterest, you’ll find a wealth of information.  So get your photo editing on, or create professional looking art projects.  This software is the only thing on my gift guide that I actually requested for Christmas, so if Santa’s good to me, I’ll be able to report back with (hopefully) a rave review.


Kreg Jig
I’ve never heard a bad thing said about this miracle tool.  If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a system for joining wood with pocket hole screws, that’s better and far easier than traditional methods.  One of the best features is that the pocket holes are hidden on the inside of whatever piece you’re building, avoiding the need to hide finishing nails.  I’ve only built one wood project – our mantle – but I can tell  you that hiding finishing nails is not that easy, even with stainable wood filler.  Even if you’re not in the market to build furniture, there are a lot of small and easy projects that you can whip up with the kreg jig.  Book shelves, picture ledges, frames, etc.  I’m recommending the Kreg Jig Jr., because it’s inexpensive and probably a nice baby step for beginners.  I received junior as a birthday present, but haven’t had the opportunity to try it out yet.  Again, will report back.

3. For the Stylish Girl

La Mer for Target Wrap Watch
I already bought this watch as a Christmas gift to myself from myself.  I’m so thoughtful.  I’m actually not really a watch person, but this pretty lady converted me.  I love the way it wraps and the integrated bracelets.  It’s a layered look that only requires putting on one piece of jewelry.  Win-win. It comes in several different colors, I opted for the one above because it’s so neutral, I can wear it every day with any outfit.
Urban Decay Naked Eye Palette
I don’t own it, but like the Kreg Jig, I’ve only heard rave reviews of this product.  It’s supposed to be a set of universally flattering eye shadows.  I remember one makeup artist writing on her blog that she was amazed at how wearable all the shades were.  Being born part albino, my fair skin can’t stand up to too much slap, but I hear that all of these colors are surprisingly neutral – even the scary ones (I’m looking at you, dark blue).  It comes in 2 versions, the original, and Naked 2.
Collar Necklace
It wouldn’t be Christmas without something sparkly.   I love statement jewelry, and the collar necklace is such a cute way to upgrade an outfit.  In the words of Michael Scott, they’re the essence of class and fanciness.  Pair it with a simple top or dress, and you’re instantly ready to party. Pictured above.  Also pretty: this one, and this one.

4. For the Techy Girl (or Guy!)

Brookstone iPad Case with Wireless Keyboard
I don’t have an iPad, but if I did, I’d love to find this under the tree.  I’ve seen it in person, and it’s really nice.  The case itself is easy to use and flip, seems durable, plus it comes in an array of sassy colors.  And the convenience of a wireless bluetooth keyboard (which you can remove from the case when you’re not using it) seems like it would be awesome, especially for someone (like me) who doesn’t love doing extensive typing on a touch screen. Oh and, the keyboard isn’t silicone like some others I’ve seen.  It’s a full legitimate keyboard with real-click keys.

5.  For the Girl with Kids

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
Obviously this would be for a mom with younger kids – or even for a lady with a kid on the way.  I saw this book at a boutique in Washington, VA when me and Jeff were on an anniversary getaway.  I was thisclose to buying it, although I’m glad I didn’t because it’s way cheaper on amazon.  But it was hard to resist – because it’s a stunner.  It’s big – like an encyclopedia of fairy tales, filled with drop dead gorgeous illustrations.  Every one of them could be ripped out and put behind glass as an art piece (not that you would do that).  Any mom would appreciate this beautiful book.  I want it.  Bad.  Fine, I’ll give you a preview of some of the illustrations (thanks to amazon):

6. For the Chefy Girl
milk jar measuring cups
Anthropologie Milk Jar Measuring Cups
I own this item, and I love it because it’s functional and a charming addition to leave out and dress up your counter top.

cake stand
Threshold for Target Beaded Serveware
This cake stand has been batting it’s eyelashes at me the past several times I’ve been to Target.  I love the simple design with the added bead texture for interest.  It somehow seems both casual and fancy at the same time, so you could use it year round, or save it for special occasions.  And it’s a whole series of items – there’s a gravy boat, a candy dish, a bowl, a compartments dish,  and a 2-tier serving stand.

7. For Any Girl
Loft Sleep Sets
Pajamas are a pretty classic Christmas present, and Loft has some great options for sale.  I already bought the coral set (above) and may go back for more.  They’re cute and comfortable, and I figure it’s always nice to have something to wear to bed that isn’t a ratty t-shirt and the same pants you would wear to the gym.  Because let’s be honest, you don’t just wear pajamas to bed, if you’re like me, you probably put them on a couple hours before bed for maximum relaxation.  I think any lady would be happy to open this gift, and at $20 it’s a pretty sweet deal.


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Nursery Brain Dump

So here it is.  The long awaited nursery inspiration post.  I know.  It’s Christmas come early.  A lot of people have asked me about the nursery, knowing that I must be obsessing about the design, and they’re right.  However, I’ve stayed just a little reserved until we can confirm the baby’s sex.  It’s supposed to be a boy.  That’s what my sonogram doctor told us at 13 weeks.  Which is insanely early to get this information.  And some people have doubts about it’s accuracy.  Including my obgyn doc.  He didn’t have to say it.  I saw it in his eyes.  So who knows.  I prefer to believe that the sonogram doctor is a savant for reading baby sexes, but I’m also mentally prepared for the off-chance that he was wrong.  We have a second ultrasound in 2 weeks, so hopefully we get confirmation one way or the other.   And then I will dive into the nursery plans with reckless abandon.  You will be sorry you ever asked because it will be all that I talk about.

In the meantime, here is a nursery brain dump. Geared towards a boy, but covering a bunch of stuff that will remain the same regardless of the sex.  For starters, we painted. Actually, although Jeff helped, he’d probably like to exempt himself from have any part in it.  Because he might hate the color.  Or maybe not hate, but he’s not quite on board.  Someone who’s on board doesn’t say “this color…it’s burning my retinas.”.  Someone who’s on board doesn’t say “are…you….sure about this color?”  while making the who farted? face.  But it’s ok, because the fabulous thing about him is that he trusts me.  He believes that I’ll make it work.  I love the color…although I will admit that it’s a whole lot of look.  I had been searching for the perfect nursery paint color and trying out lots of different neutrals.  And then one day last week, I did a complete attitude flip and decided, if you can’t blow it out in the nursery, where can you blow it out?  So I switched gears and started a new search for something louder, with more personality.  Enter, Simply Seafoam (by Valsper).  You may be thinking, seafoam is a muted washed out green (because that’s actually how I think of seafoam) but this ain’t your momma’s seafoam:

Here’s another, wider shot:

It’s basically a light turquoise with a lot of punch to it.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at least see where Jeff’s coming from with his doubts, but I know in the end it will all make sense.  It really is very pretty and reminds me of the ocean.  Also, a color this vibrant pops so nicely against white trim and wood floors.  So, what accent colors do I plan to bring in?  Let me answer your question with a question – are you interested in a photoshoot of pillows?  I knew it…

I already own these pillows, and I’m not sure I’ll actually end up using them in the nursery,  but I love the citrusy colors with the SS (meaning Simply Seafoam, keep up). Especially that yellow.  I think I’ll definitely use all 3 as pops of color, along with a lot of neutrals to help reign in the SS and keep it from coming off too girly or over the top.

Moving on to furniture, I have a second hand dresser to bring up from VA that I’m going to paint (sorry no pics, it’s currently surrounded and buried in my parent’s garage, accessible only by tying a rope to the ceiling and repelling down on it like Spider Man) and use for both storage and as a changing table. Also in good ol’ Virginia is my rocker, which I found at an antique store for $45.

Sorry the pic is not glamorous, it’s taken in the aforementioned garage with a camera phone.  But hopefully you can see it’s potential.  I plan to freshen up the white paint and reupholster the seat cushion.  I know it’s technically meant to be a porch rocker, but I’ve seen lots of cool examples of bringing outdoor furniture inside, plus I think the lines of this chair are modern and interesting.

For a side table next to the rocker, I did a little dumpster diving.  Well, not really, but I did swoop this up from the end of my neighbors drive way.  Their trash is my treasure:

It needs some love, and the paint is bubbled and chipping, but that’s all fixable.  I had to have it as soon I saw those legs (insert me doing the cat call whistle)

I heart spindles.  Speaking of spindles, meet Jenny Lind:

We haven’t purchased yet, but I own it in my heart. I love how the crib will complement my salvaged side table. Here’s a picture of the same crib in brown, to give you an easier look at the spindley goodness (it’s a bit hard to pick up on camera in the white finish)

To wrap up, here’s a couple inspiration pictures I pinned….both demonstrate a similar wall color.  The second image is my obsession, there are a lot of ideas I want to steal even though that nursery belongs to a girl (check out more pics of this space here)

I’ll definitely be back with progress and details as this room comes together.  In the meantime, and so you’ll feel better about any mess you might have in your house, just know that the nursery currently looks like this:

Just keepin’ it real people.

Nursery inspiration pictures from here and here.



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Easy Peasy Pinterest Project

If you’re like me, your DIY to-do list is about 100 projects long.  Or, in my case, there’s about 20 projects that I may actually accomplish, and tons more that are more of wish-list items.  These are the more intimidating projects that I hope one day I’ll have the proper tools and courage to seriously consider taking them on.  But not now, not any time soon.  Because I know myself and my skill level, and I know that even a DIY that seems totally manageable, can turn on you and make you sorry you ever started.  Sometimes things don’t turn out at all like you imagined.  Sometimes you end up hitting speed bump after speed bump, resulting in countless trips to Home Depot or the craft store before you can finish. Or, and I like to think this is my personal specialty, the project takes NINE HUNDRED TIMES longer than it should take a human being to do anything, ever.  Seriously, I am the master at expanding time and somehow spending a week on something that took someone else an hour to do.  So even though they’re few and far between, I have a special place in my heart for even a small project that goes smoothly, quickly, and turns out exactly according to plan.

I decided to share one of these little treasures, a little DIY that you could sneak in tonight even, if you wanted.  Without breaking a sweat.  It’s a painless, immediate-gratification, cute-as-a-button project.  You’ll be making these:

Those are my plain old canisters (from target) embellished with the labels provided by Kristine over at The Painted Hive.  You may have seen them before, especially if you’re on Pinterest.  They’re very popular, I’m assuming because they 100% look like something you’d buy for $15-$30 a pop at Anthropologie.  But thanks to Kristine, you won’t have to.  She generously provides FREE pdf files on her blog (and actually even the free psd files, if you have photoshop and want to make edits).  How cool is that?  It’s very cool…the only thing I wasn’t excited about was her 9 steps of instructions that involved supplies that I had to order online.  Her method obviously works beautifully, but I have a much easier solution that worked for me.  For supplies you’ll just need a printer, canisters (if you don’t already have some) and Avery 22822 Laser Ink Jet Labels in Glossy Clear.  I found them at Staples.

Next download the file, and pick which labels you want (she has 17 choices, including coffee, tea, pasta, etc).  Right in Adobe Reader you’ll be able to highlight each individual one, then copy and paste into word, where you have set up your labels.  Print them out, apply to your canisters with care, and you’re done!

Now, Kristine’s method (using magic decal paper) may be a little more professional looking and long-lasting.  But for my money (and time) I am exceedingly pleased with using these Avery labels. Obviously you need to be careful not to wash over them, but other than that, they’re pretty darn impressive and durable.  The words look printed on the canister – sure, from certain angles I can make out the edge of the label…I’ll even admit you can see a hint of them in the above pictures.   But in person, it’s so faint, no one would ever notice.  And they’ve been on my counter for months now without any peeling or damage.  Plus what’s the worst that could happen?  I have 76 leftover labels, literally. If one of my canister labels started to look worse for the wear, I could always reprint a fresh label to replace the old one.

So I hope you have a little DIY in your future inspired by me.  Well, actually, inspired by the talented Kristine.  Involving labels.  And canisters.  I’m talking about the canister labels, SHEESH people do I have to spell it out for you?


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Advice on Styling a Bookcase

I apologize for zero posts last week…Hurricanne Sandy set me back a little. Our house, thankfully, is fine and back up and running, so I thought I’d do a little post on the burning subject we’re all thinking about post- hurricane and post-election:  styling a bookcase.  Yes, I read your mind.  So here’s the deal – this is a subject where I lack expertise.  I find styling a book case to be – hold on, I don’t want to exaggerate – SO SO SO flippin’ hard.  It just doesn’t come naturally to me.  Like styling a fireplace mantle, it’s all about finding that perfect balance of items to display in that perfect balance of textures, colors and shapes…all while keeping in mind scale, form and function and dahhhhhhhhh it makes my head explode.  If you are good at styling a bookcase, please come to my house and do it for me forever.  I’ve spent the past few years trying to hone my skills, looking at catalogs like west elm and pottery barn to learn their tricks.  And of course, watching the blogs and filing away any advice I could find on the subject. When done right, the end result should look decorative and above all effortless.  After all, anything in life that looks really good, looks even better when it has the air of not-trying-too-hard.

I recently redecorated a bookcase in our guest bedroom, and for once I can say that I think I did a pretty decent job.  So I made a list of all the tips that got me from here:

To here:


1.  Take everything off the bookcase and start from scratch – once you have a blank slate, you can start placing items back on the shelves….take some time and try lots of different arrangements.  Once you can get even one section placed that you like, you’ll be able to build off of that for the rest of the empty space.

2.  Consider an overall color scheme.  This is not necessary, but I think it’s probably the easiest route to follow.  For this project, I decided to go with mostly neutrals, plus pops of metallic and a few muted colors.

3.  Think outside the box.  Sure, a normal person would store the books with the spine facing out, but I decided to flip them around and ended up loving the look of the stacks of pages.  And bonus, this allowed me to store the books, but keep with my overall color theme of neutrals.  I know this solution isn’t practical, as you can’t tell what books you have unless you pull them out, but what can I say.  Sometimes I choose design over practicality.  Sue me.

4.  Display items that are meaningful.  This is an area where I often struggle.  John and Sherry are experts at sentimental art and display pieces.  They always manage to come up with really cool ideas for décor that holds special meaning for their family.  I’m not always good at this, but while I was contemplating this bookcase, I found a few spots to insert a little sentiment.  First, I had a basket, meant to be a plant holder, that I really wanted to use.  It’s texture added a lot of interest, like the sea fan above it:
The only problem was that I didn’t know what to put in the basket.  Then I remembered a stack of notes I had from my wedding. One of my matrons of honor, Laura, asked our friends and family to fill out little pieces of paper on our wedding day.  Everyone wrote down why they were thankful for me, or Jeff, or me and Jeff.  It was a super cute idea and very fitting since the wedding was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I saved all the papers to work into a future décor project, but hadn’t found a spot for them yet.  So I thought to myself, self, would those papers fold up nicely and fit in this basket?

You bet they did.  And now those sweet little notes are out of storage, on display and easily accessible any time I want to remember how blessed and loved we are by our friends and family.

A couple other meaningful items I featured: this homemade picture frame, given to me as a bridesmaid gift by my friend Angela:
And this perfect-shade-of-subtle-blue scrapbook put together by Kathy, or as I call her, mom:
And lastly, the bird cage was actually the card holder at our wedding.
5.  Mix it up.  Especially if you’re using one overall color scheme (like I did) keep it interesting by layering in textures, sheen (metallics), items with varied heights, etc.

6.  Remember the rule of 3.  As always, items grouped in 3 is a no-fail way to hit the spot. You don’t have to strictly adhere to this rule for every item that you display, but peppering in a few 3 sets is always a good idea.

7.  Use more than you think you need.  An easy mistake to make in staging is using too few decorative items.  There are 26 pieces on my small bookshelf – not including each individual book (I counted each stack as 1 piece).  So go hunting around your house.  Pull out those vases or frames you may have in storage, because in this case, more is more.

8.  Layer both ways – vertically and horizontally.  Notice how I stacked things from front to back:
And also, took into consideration how I used the space from left to right.  For example, I found that the middle shelf just worked better in the overall look if I scrunched everything in the center, leaving a little space on either side.
 9.  Have fun!  Just kidding. I don’t find this to be much fun at all.  It’s haaaard.  But, I can say that once I felt like the book case was coming together and looking pretty darn good, I did get a slight thrill, and a definite feeling of accomplishment.

If you get the itch to revamp your own bookcase, please feel free to send me pics.  I love to admire other people’s skills.


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