Friday, September 28, 2012

Create a Mood Board Using Olioboard

It's freaking Friday.  Yay!  To celebrate the awesomeness that is Friday, I'm guest posting over at  lalalists.  Rachel was kind enough to let me take over her blog.  She's a super sweet and talented graphic designer and fellow Bostonian.  What's not to love?

As promised, today I'm teaching you how to use Olioboard's free website to create mood boards. So hop on over to lalalists to see the full tutorial!

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Home Office Mood Board

The other day I mentioned that I have a decorating tornado in my head. A lot of the ideas have to do with redecorating my home office.  While the ideas were fresh, I decided to get them down on a mood board.

This design plan was based around the blue Velvet Window Panels from West Elm that I already own.  I originally bought them for the dining room, but they got the boot when I repainted.  I also plan to incorporate the Ikea sideboard that was evicted from the dining room too.  I will definitely need to repaint it again...sigh..but I'm waiting to decide on a color until I get most of the office pulled together.  I plan to purchase a new desk, office chair, side chair, and DIY some of the finishing touches.

So, do you use mood boards to pull your ideas together?  I think they're a super helpful way to try things out (without lugging the chair home first), and it's a neat way to get a vision for the room.

Early this year, I bought Photoshop Elements to create mood boards.  There is a bit of a learning curve, but I figured out the basics.  If you want to use Photoshop Elements to create a mood board, you can read my tutorial here.

A little while back I stumbled on an easier way to create mood boards using a free service from Olioboard.  It's amazing. Don't have Photoshop?  Want to make mood boards?  Come back tomorrow and I'll show you how I use Olioboard.

PS:  You can check out some of my other mood boards here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hundred Dollar Hump Day (17)

Happy Hump Day!  This week is just flying by for me.  Maybe it's because the half marathon is this Sunday and I'm scared? Anywho, you know the deal.  Here's some cool stuff I found online shopping and thought you might like too.  Everything's 100 bucks or less.

1. Maybe it's because I have my home office on my brain or because I start school again tomorrow, but I'm in love with these cute russell + hazel Signature Binder Sets sold through One Kings Lane.  It's always more fun taking notes when your notebook is pretty.  $45.

{Image from here}

2. Who's hosting Thanksgiving this year?  We are for the first time and I'm pretty excited.  I think these Artichoke Ceramic Tealight Candle Holders would look so cute on a Thanksgiving table.  $25 each from Wayfair. They come in green, putty, and white.

{Image from here}

3. Keeping with the candle theme,  these Cyan Designs Glass and Wood Hex Nut Hurricanes from Wayfair are really cool.  I am really loving rustic touches these days.  $52.50 for small, $60 for medium, and $72.50 for large.

{Image from here}
4. Knitted decor seems to be really "in" this Fall and I think this knitted pouf from World Market is adorable.  It'd be great in a family room or playroom. $79.99.

{Image from here}

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that I may earn a commission if you click on the link and buy a product.  You will not pay any more for buying a product by following this link than you would by going directly to XYZ's website.  I hand select items to showcase and opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There's A Decorating Tornado In My Head

I woke up this morning with a million little thoughts about decorating our home.  I jumped out of bed an hour before my alarm so I could get them down on paper (and in this post). Sometimes I suffer from decorator's paralysis and I look around my house and I know that a lot needs to be done, but it's almost so overwhelming I don't know where to begin (or end). Usually it just takes starting one project to jump start my progress again.  Like yesterday, I painted our kitchen. Randomly, I picked up a paint brush and the remaining paint from the guest bedroom overhaul and started really going at it.  I even surprised myself.  I had planned on waiting to do any kitchen work until our contractors can start in January, but I just couldn't take it anymore.  I have one more coat to throw up and then I'll share some pictures. :)

But back to the "million" little things I woke up thinking about this morning.  It was actually more like 3 things, and they had to do with redecorating my home office (and yes it's my home office because Jake doesn't care about having space in there). Yay for girly touches!...And an extra nice husband. :)

Here's a before shot that does it way more justice than it currently deserves because it now serves as some sort of storage closet for all my other home improvement projects.

It's a relatively small space made to feel even smaller by the dark, oversized furniture we moved from our last apartment.  I'm thinking that a new desk is definitely in order.  Lately I've really been liking simple white writer's desks like these:

{Image 1 via here, Image 2 via here, Image 3 via here, Image 4 via here}

Because these desks don't offer a lot of storage space, I'm thinking about using the Ikea sideboard in the office for extra storage and workspace.  I haven't measured yet, so I'm not sure if it'll fit.  I'd also like to buy s small sitting chair, rug, lighting, and DIY a memo wall.  

I'm thinking that we can move the ginormous black bookcase down to our living room, give it a coat of white paint, and add fabric to the back.  And speaking of living room, we're having a new sectional delivered today!  And it's not the white slipcovered one from Pottery Barn. In the end, I decided I didn't want to dedicate a day of every week to washing Baxter's paw marks off of it.  Lazy me.  We went more practical and I can't wait to share it with you!  Oh yea, and we're also having a new dining room table delivered today!  Holy cow, I'm all over the place.  It's exhausting in my design head.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Investing in Your Home - New Windows

We made a big investment in our home today.  We purchased replacement windows from Andersen Windows

{Current windows - taped for painting}

{Current windows}
{Current windows}

I think one of the hardest decisions when you're a homeowner is how much money to invest in home improvements.  There's never a guarantee that you'll get money back on your investment and there's definitely no guarantee what the real estate market will be doing when you're ready to sell.  If you're going to spend a lot of money on home improvements, my advice is to only take care of things that need to be done or that will enhance your own experience in your home.

The windows in our home are original construction (1978) and they are beautiful, but they're not energy efficient.  We use oil to heat our home and filling up our tank 4 to 5 times a year at >$700 a fill is not cheap.  We run central air in the summer and our electric bill increases significantly in those months.  By replacing our windows, we hope to recoup our investment in about 8 - 10 years.  We have no plans to move, so hopefully we'll see that money back.

Depending on who you ask, there are certain improvements you can make to your home that provide the biggest return on investment.  Windows usually make the list with returns on investment of about 70% to 80%.

While a return of that size would be great, we're really looking forward to having windows that are functional (ours are single pane with stormers and are hard to open), easy to clean (hello tilt in! bye bye spider webs), and enhance the look of our house. We're especially happy about the energy savings too.  And I can't complain about not having to paint any more window panes (the new windows will be white).  I've been slowly repainting all the window trim and panes white since we moved in.

I hope that we made a good decision, but we'll see.  Have you replaced windows in your home?  Did you see a return on investment or savings in energy costs?  How do you make a decision about what home improvements to tackle?

Friday, September 21, 2012

It Took Me 9 Months To Deliver (A Gallery Wall)

Back in January, I started a gallery wall in our hallway using some Ikea frames that I had around the house.

I only had those 4 frames and the closest Ikea is almost 2 hours away, so it stayed like that until just last week.  If I'm honest, there's another reason why it took me so long to finish this product; hanging a gallery wall takes a lot of effort.  I think we've been led to believe that it's a quick and easy project based on the sheer number of beautiful gallery walls we're exposed to. Or the fact that many bloggers have offered tips and tricks for getting the project done.  And I'm not saying that those tips and tricks don't help, they do (and I even used one of them), but it's still a lot of work.  Ok, I'm done complaining.  If you're looking for one more tutorial to convince yourself that this is an easy project,  here's the method that I used.  I'm not even going to venture that this is the quickest, fastest, best way to do this, but it worked for me.  Warning: This project is still a royal pain in the tookis.

1. Trace the shape of your frames on paper, cut them out and set aside.

2. Find a large clear area to work with your frames.  Play around with shapes and layouts and figure out which way frames will need to go based on photo orientation (portrait or landscape). 

3. Once you have a layout in mind, take the paper shapes and tape them up on your gallery wall.  If you want to make changes, you can move the paper shapes around until you find something that you like. (I had 6 pictures that were portrait orientation, so I found it helpful to mark 6 of the paper shapes with a "P").

4. Once you have a layout you like, it's time to hang the frames.  If you are using nails, you can measure and mark on the paper where the nail needs to go then hammer a little hole right through the paper.  I decided not to use hammer and nail because I bought the really cheap frames from Ikea and they're pretty impossible to hang that way.  Instead, I used 3M Picture Hanging Strips.  They're amaze balls.  The back of my frames are really narrow, so I had to cut these bad boys in half, but it's seeming to do the trick (pictures are still on the walls one week later!).

5. Because I didn't have a nail hole in the wall to line things up, I left the paper shapes taped up, removing them one at a time, and replacing them with the actual frame.  I also got out my measuring tape out just to make sure things were pretty well aligned.   And voila! Gallery wall hung in 9 months!  I'm sure that's a record (of some sort).

Yea, see that doorbell there.  I painted it white in hopes it would blend in.  Pretty incognito, right?

I also incorporated a little word art based on this Pinterest Pin.

I love this quote. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's All In The Details

We all have those little things around our house that bother us: chipped paint, old hardware, dingy trim, for example.  You can probably rest assured that no one notices these things when they visit your home (unless they're overstaying their welcome :)), and they definitely don't show up in pretty staged photos on our blogs.  But they are there. Lurking. And sometimes they're all I can look at! I changed out brass door knobs before I painted a wall because they drove me that crazy.

We have a number of these little imperfections in our home, and I'm slowly working on fixing them.  One thing that's been bothering me are the floor vents for our central air.  We live in New England where it's practically unheard of to have central air unless your home was built this decade (ours was built in '78), so we pretty much pinch ourselves on those 90 degree days when we are nice and cool in our house.  It works great, and it's awesome, but our house wasn't built with a central air system in mind, so all of our duct work is exposed in our basement and attic.  On the first floor, they cut holes in the floor for vents and on the 2nd floor they cut holes in the ceilings. The vents in the floor have been always been an eyesore for me.

I never really thought there was much that I could do about them until I was at Lowe's one day and saw these vent covers by allen + roth.  They come in a number of styles and sizes.

I mean, they're not life changing or anything, but I think they're a serious improvement.  Of course, if you came over for a glass of wine, you probably wouldn't notice my new vent covers. :)

How about you? Does your house have any little imperfections that drive you crazy?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hundred Dollar Hump Day (16)

Happy Hump Day!  It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, but I'm ready to get back into the swing of things.  Here are some great home decor items I found this week for $100 or less.

1. Did you know that you can now shop for select items from Pier 1 online?  Finally!  I love the shape of this Ivory Genie Lamp and at $55, and at I think it's a steal.  The shade comes in black and ivory.

{Image from here}

2. Home Decorators just introduced a new storage system called "The Baxter Collection."  C'mon, right?  I have to admit that I saw this photo in my latest advertisement from them, and I thought is was pretty cool even before I knew what it was called.  It's a modular system that comes with many different options.  No, you can't get the whole shebang for 100 bucks, but pricing does seem pretty reasonable.

{Image from here}

3. If you have enough space on your counter or bar, this wine rack is pretty cool.  It comes with labels like "Pinot Noir" for easy wine identification, but I think it would be neat to customize labels yourself with things like "special occasion" or "wicked good cab." Home Decorators, $54.
{Image from here}

4. These tiny button mirrors from One Kings Lane are adorable.  It *almost* makes me wish I had a little girl's room to decorate! $29 for set of 2.

{Image from here}

5. I really want this beadboard drying rack from Ballard Designs.  Maybe once we finally get around to finishing our laundry closet makeover, I can fit it into the plan.  Starts at $99 for the small size.

{Image from here}

Disclosure Update:   When I started "Hundred Dollar Hump Day" my motive was not to be compensated for sharing  products with you, nor was I compensated.  I just thought it was a fun way to put my hours of online shopping to good use.  If you know there's a sale going on, you'd tell a friend, right?! I only share products that I like and think that you would like too, but now some of the links on this website are affiliate links.  This means that I may earn a commission if you click on the link and buy a product.  You will not pay any more for buying a product through my link than you would by going directly to XYZ's website.  Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One Wreath Two Seasons

Hello!  Anybody out there?  It feels so good to have my blog back!  I was down for about a week because of a custom domain issue with Google's Blogger.  Arghh!  I'm sorry if you tried to visit only to see a 404 error message. I tried to keep people updated via Facebook and Twitter. If you haven't followed us yet you can click on the links below to do so.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I have a fall wreath project to share with you.  A while back I bought this wreath from Michael's.

For the spring, I decorated it with fake hydrangeas and painted wooden letters to spell "welcome."

I wanted to change things up for fall so I removed the hydrangeas and letters. They were glued on using a glue gun, but came off very easily.  Left with the plain wreath again, I chose to add some dried flowers and wheat that I also picked up at Michael's.  I simply stuck the stems through the wreath, flipped the wreath over, and cut the stems once I had them in the right spot.

Such a cinch, even for the craft challenged, like me. Here's the finished product.

Friday, September 07, 2012

7 Ways to Decorate Over Your Bed

Unless you have a 6 foot tall headboard, chances are there's a gaping space between the top of your headboard/mattress and the ceiling.  It can be a challenge to find the "right" piece to fill that space.  For my bedroom, I wanted to add something sentimental or handmade.  I've yet to decide exactly what that'll be, so for now, I have a sunburst mirror serving as placeholder.

If you're in need of little inspiration to decorate your "over the bed" space, here are 7 neat ideas.

1. Word Banner.  This would be a cinch to personalize.  You can get creative with sayings, fonts, colors, and textures.

{Source: via Jessica @ HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

2. Shelving. You can select shelving to match your decor than accessorize with some of your favorite art or mementos.  I like the idea of displaying framed photos this way.

{Source: via Jessica@HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

3. Fabric. If you don't have a headboard,  attaching a piece of fabric to curtain rods is a great way to fill the space for cheap. Plus you can swap out the fabric when you want a new look.

{Source: via Jessica@HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

4.  Wreaths. This is a neat idea if you're going for more of a rustic look.  You can pick up simple wreaths at most craft stores and decorate them with flowers, ribbon, etc.

{Source: via Jessica@HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

5. Monogram. You could do this above your children's beds (picture two twins in the same room), but I think it's an especially sweet idea for a newlywed couple's bedroom.

{Source: via Jessica@HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

6. Plates. We've all seen beautiful plate walls in dining rooms, but in the bedroom?  Yes!  The  plates do give a neat visual effect and all that white is lovely.  But If you're not comfortable sleeping with plates above your head, you could create a similar idea using plastic plates or even cork cut into circles.

{Source: via Jessica@HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

7. Row of Pictures. Common and classic, but still beautiful.  Displaying 3 of your favorite pieces of art or photographs is a timeless way to decorate above the bed.

{Source: via Jessica@HomewithBaxter on Pinterest}

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Kitchen Remodel (2013) and Other Plans

Last week I mentioned we were having our contractor over to discuss remodeling our kitchen and half bath (and I shared some pictures of my dream kitchen).  Here's a visual recap of the work we want to do:

Well the talk went great and I'm pretty confident we'll be able to transform our current kitchen into the white kitchen of my dreams without a lot of demo, but there's a catch.  They're booked until January 2013.  {Insert sad face}.

Yes, we could go through the effort of vetting another contractor, but we were really happy with the work they did on our den remodel so we're deciding to wait for them.

In the meantime, we're going to purchase our new stainless steel appliances, narrow down some flooring and backsplash options, and decide on paint colors.  If for some reason I finish work on the rest of our house (ha!) before January, maybe I will attempt to tackle some of the work myself.  I know that a ton of talented ladies have painted their own kitchen cabinets, and I'm sure I'm completely capable, but that's one thing I'm definitely willing to fork over some cash for to have professionally done.  Our cabinets are in great shape and I don't want to risk messing them up or having to repaint again in a few years.  Installing a new backsplash also seems easy enough, except that I would have to remove our current one first and that part of the project intimidates me a little.  But we'll see.

Since we won't start the kitchen and bath until early next year, we decided to focus on some landscaping instead.  We're slated to start that project in early October.  Plans include an overhaul of the landscaping in our front yard, a new walkway to our front door,  and a stone patio (complete with hot tub and fire pit) in the backyard.  Yee ha!

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