One Room Challenge Fall 2015

Twice a year, I look forward to reading about those participating in Linda’s (Calling it Home) One Room Challenge (ORC), a blogger challenge to complete one room in your home in 6 short weeks.  This year, I have convinced my husband that we need to participate!  It’s not really the best time for us to dive into a fast-paced, money-draining project, but is there ever really such a thing as a perfect time?

Our home is a cozy (aka smallish) '70s ranch.  We are lucky to be on a full basement, but the main level specifically must be truly functional since it is where we spend most of our time, and there's just no space to waste.  Besides, I truly believe in actually living in all of a home's rooms - no "look, but don't touch" spaces for this girl.  This does mean we have to get creative sometimes, and our makeover space fits the bill on needing lots of work & out-of-the-box thinking.

For our first ORC, we will be revamping the hallway/laundry/mudroom/pantry space just inside of our garage door.  It’s an awkward layout.  Entering from the garage, you are in a narrow hallway that is part of the kitchen.  There are 5 doorways in this tiny space.  The laundry room, pantries, “mudcloset”, and garage door are visible from all parts of the kitchen. The dining room, front door, & foyer are all visible from the garage door.  And the garage door & one of the pantries are visible from the front door.  This requires a cohesive look that will work with all adjacent spaces, so that your line of sight is not jarred by incongruent design. It also requires organization & tidiness, habits on which our entire family are still perfecting.  ;)

Our kitchen is long, narrow, & had 3 pantries when we moved in, none of which were that close to each other.  I realize this may sound wonderful to those who have no pantry space (it did to me too, before we actually started living in the space). But it quickly became apparent that we needed a place to hang our coats & kick off our shoes, not 3 different places to store our cereal.  So, my sweet hubby did a quick weekend revamp last year, & turned the pantry directly across from the garage door (pantry #2) into a “mudcloset’.  Since it is not even 12” deep, I think calling it a mudroom would be a tad overzealous.  This area will get a small update.

Our laundry room is at the end of our long kitchen, opposite the breakfast nook.  I am, of course, constantly in there doing laundry, and the dog’s bowls are in there as well, so the door is always open.  I personally do not love looking at my piles of dirty laundry while I’m eating, so making this space more functional, and definitely more appealing to look at, is at the top of my list. An added bonus is that if I can close the door, the baby will no longer play in the dog's food bowls. 
It is a very narrow room, with barely enough space to squeeze in a laundry basket.  It's also a catchall for anything that doesn't have a home, so the space gets even narrower with all the junk piled up.  Please pretend you aren't appalled by our mess. This is it on a good day. :)

  Finally, the space that I’m most excited about redoing is the 3rd pantry (for those of you keeping count, pantry #1, a tall set of cabinets close to the kitchen sink, is staying a pantry).  #3 is the biggest of the pantries, and while we use it everyday for storage, it will be turned into something we will use even more – an office nook.  There is no spot on the main level of our home for an office.  My desk has moved from the basement (sharing a space in the playroom or my husband’s office wasn’t practical or feasible) to the family room to the dining room.  We had high hopes for a dining room/library/office combo, but the office part just never felt right.  I didn’t love that all of my work stuff, bills, etc. would be piled high on my desk while we were trying to entertain, or that my computer screen was the first thing you saw when coming in the front door as the dining room is directly off the foyer.  I will have to keep this small space organized as it is still partially visible from the front door/dining room, but it’s not as in your face as when it was in the dining room.  And, I have to find a new home for all of the junk we currently have crammed into the pantry.  Time to edit!

Overall, I am ecstatic to join in on this fun process – let’s hope we still think it’s fun in 6 weeks!  Check back every Thursday for updates; next week I'll share my design plan and the start of the deconstruction process.  And if you want to be a linking participant like me, check out Linda's blog for details!


Choosing the Best Paint Color for Your Home's Exterior - The Before (Part 1)

When we moved into our home 18 months ago, we created 1, 5, & 10 (or more) year plans for projects around the house.  We knew painting the exterior would need to be done within a few years, but this summer we noticed some wood rot & damage that needed to be fixed immediately, so painting jumped to the front of our to-do list.  Upon further inspection, we realized the original gutters were rusting through (probably the cause of the damage to the wood), so installing new gutters was added on last minute.

I have always heard that picking exterior paint colors is much harder than interior, and boy, is that ever true.   I had three challenges to work with when choosing our new exterior paint colors.

1)  Our home is a corner lot, high up on a hill.  Within the past year, I read two articles about exteriors that caused me to have a light bulb moment as to why I wasn't thrilled with our current color.  First, exteriors need contrast, not just between the house & shutter/door/trim color, but also with your home's surroundings.  So, a white home needs lots of trees, bushes, greenery, etc. to provide that needed contrast & pop.  Second, a house on top of a hill needs even more contrast with its surroundings, as the distance from the street causes the paint colors to look more washed out than on a home at street level.

What did this mean for us?  Well, the right front & rear corner of our home have a lot of trees & shrubbery.  However, the left front, side, & rear have none.  So, from the street & from our driveway on the left side of the property, there was not enough contrast between the white of our home and the light blue of the sky or the light color of the driveway.  Also, our shutters were a light gray & our front door a light green.  Close to the house, say from the sidewalk, this all looked very nice.  But from street level, I found it to be a little blah.  Not to mention that white gets dirty so easily, especially with all of the Georgia red clay found in our yard!  So I knew that darker was the way to go.  But how dark?

2)  Another problem I was facing is our roof color.  It is an orangey-brown, a color often found on ranches from the 1970s & '80s.  As a new roof (though needed) is not in the budget, I knew that the color I chose would have to work with our existing roof color and with the charcoal roof we hope to replace it with in a few years.

Sorry for the blurry iphone photo!

And finally...

3)  My style is Southern cottage farmhouse with a bit of coastal thrown in.  A white home with black shutters is a classic cottage & farmhouse choice, but as I described in #1 up above, white just wasn't working for me with this home's style & location.  The white wasn't a bad choice, and if I had not been able to figure out what I wanted instead, I might have just repainted it the same white color.  But I had a hunch that gray, the go-to color for the New England shingled homes that I adore, might work well for us.  It would provide the needed contrast, would hide dirt better than white, and would be more "us".  But now that I had chosen gray, what gray should I choose?

All paints have undertones.  The easiest way to detect the undertone of your paint color is to hold your paint sample against a piece of bright white paper, in the same type of lighting as the area to be painted.  At first, I thought that I might like a gray with a little blue in it. But because orange & blue are opposites on the color wheel, the orange tones in the roof strongly brought out the blue in the paint samples.  Not what I was going for.  I reviewed my list of desires & limitations: gray color for the siding; dark shutters; must work with both orange/brown roof & future charcoal roof.  Light bulb moment again!  What about a gray with brown or warm undertones and a shutter color with black or brown undertones?  I bought my samples of warm grays, and decided a mid-tone would be best.   As for the shutters, I needed something that would work with brown (current roof), charcoal (future roof), and warm gray (exterior siding).  I also still had to choose the trim, doors, and gutter colors.

iphone photo again :)

I knew I wanted white trim to contrast with the gray siding.  My go-to white is Benjamin Moore White Dove, and since it is a warm white, I thought it would probably work with my chosen colors.  But after talking to a local paint expert, I learned that white trim is easily washed out in the sun, and so I should choose an off-white or even light gray.  She gave me a few recommendations, and one of the light grays was a clear winner.

I went back & forth on colors for the gutters & the doors.  Should my gutters be the same as the trim color (light gray) which is more traditional, or the same as the shutters to add a little pop?  I drove around my own  & nearby neighborhoods, stalking every ranch house's gutters (& looking like a creeper, I'm sure).  I finally went with my gut & chose the gutter color closest to my shutters for some added pop.

As for the doors, should I go with red (classic farmhouse style), a light aqua (classic beach/Cape Cod), or the dark color I was using for my shutters?  I think they would all look good, but I decided that I wanted the interior of the front door to be the same as the exterior, and I liked how the darker color draws your eye outside when standing in the family room or foyer.  We have a 12 pane glass door, and the darker color acts like a frame for the view.  It was hard to get rid of our Stratton Blue doors, though.  Luckily, my sweet hubby told me that if I change my mind about the door color, he is willing to paint the doors whenever I get a wild hair to do a quick change (which he knows I will definitely do over the course of time)

Final choices revealed in Part 2...


Gingham Wall & ScotchBlue Tape

Well, hi! Nothing like months of silence.  Our 2nd precious girl arrived at the end of July, and we have been figuring out life as a family of four since.  Her nursery is not yet complete, and I'm guessing it will be a good while before it is, but I will share here as soon as it's finished.

We have had lots of other projects in the works, however, and I'm excited to share all the details.  One of these projects, redesigning my 4 year old's big girl room, was unplanned, last minute, and not supposed to begin until next year.  However, in October, Scotch Blue approached me about a new product and related contest, so we pushed all other projects aside and dove in headfirst!

I was provided with samples of ScotchBlue Painter's Tape with Advanced Edgelock, and encouraged to come up with a creative project to be entered into the Home of ScotchBlue Contest.  The winner of the contest will receive $5,000!  Anyone is welcome to enter the contest, so get your creative juices flowing!  To enter, you must submit a project using ScotchBlue Painter's Tape for under $100. See all the details at ScotchBlue's website, here.

Remember how I mentioned that I did not plan on even touching my oldest daughter's room until well after the New Year?  This is because she has very specific ideas for her room, and I knew that recreating the entire room would take time and money, both of which we are short of at the moment.  But, when I read that the project had to cost under $100, it got me thinking.  What could I do to get the most bang for my buck?  She originally told me she would like stripes in her room, but that seemed a little more predictable to me. I like stripes, and, in fact, plan to paint some in my laundry room (in the far future!) but she has a big personality and needs a room to match.

I finally decided to give the wall behind her bed a gingham wall treatment.  A touch of preppy for me, a favorite color for her, and a more unusual choice for the sake of design.

It probably took me a little longer than it would have had I been painting a room other than a child's bedroom, but because she couldn't be in there while the paint dried (and it must fully dry between each step), it took me a few days.  I would paint in the morning after she woke up, and then have to wait until the next day to move on to the next step.  But I think this could be easily done in one full day or perhaps a day and a half.

I actually really loved the original paint color, but she has been begging for pink for over a year.  And if the fickle 4 year old mind doesn't change after that length of time, I think it's safe to say she will be happy with this change for a long time. Below are the steps for creating a gingham wall in your own home.


Step 1:

Paint the entire wall white (or whatever you choose for your base color).  You don't have to perfectly paint the whole wall (as you can see by my photo), but make sure the parts of the wall where your base coats will show through have a nice, thick coat.

Step 2:

Use a level (mine has a laser on it) to divide the wall into horizontal stripes.  These stripes are 12" wide.  I measured both the length and height of the wall, and decided 12" would give me a nice size gingham.  Just remember that smaller stripes mean more work. ;)

After marking the stripes on the wall, I applied the ScotchBlue Painter's Tape with Advanced Edgelock.  I used the one made for delicate surfaces since our drywall is old and tends to tear easily.
I marked with pencil a P for pink in every other stripe, starting at the ceiling, so that I would not get confused as to which stripes to paint and which to leave alone.  Also, the stripes you are painting need to cover your marked lines, so the tape will be on the outside edges of the stripes to be painted (pink for me) and the inside edge of the white stripe.  Thus, your white stripe will look skinnier, when the tape is up, than your color stripe.

Step 3:

Paint your color stripes, painting OVER the tape.  Remove the tape while the paint is still wet to reveal the stripes.  I have to admit, I was skeptical that the lines would be perfectly edged.  I can't tell you the satisfaction I got from seeing those crisp, straight lines.  There was not one speck of paint that had bled through the tape.


Step 4:

When the paint is completely dry, use a level to mark the vertical stripes (also 12").  Then tape along those lines in the same manner as the horizontal, along the outer edge of the stripe to be painted.  I should mention that I used a different finish for the white and pink paints; my white was a matte finish and the pink was semi-gloss.  I figured the different finishes would help to enhance the gingham effect.  

Step 5: Remove the tape while the paint is still wet, and marvel at how easy it was to paint a gingham wall!  The ScotchBlue Painter's Tape with Advanced Edgelock completely prevented any paint seepage, so all of my lines were clear and crisp.  I have used other painter's tape in various projects, and can attest that not all tapes are created equal.  Some leak through, some tear our drywall, etc.  This tape removed easily and cleanly, and truly did provide an edge-lock for my stripes.  I will be using it from now on in all my projects.

Please excuse the funky shadows in my pictures; the trees directly outside her window prevent a clear shot.  

I am excited to enter the Home of  ScotchBlue Contest, but more importantly, my daughter loves it.  There is still a lot left to do before her room is finished, but I am happy to have this part complete. An added bonus is that the entire project only cost $15, the price of a quart of the pink paint. Had I needed to purchase the ScotchBlue Painter's Tape with Advanced Edgelock, my cost would still be under $25.  I already had the white paint, brushes, rollers, etc. for the project, so I definitely feel I met my goal of major bang for minimum bucks.  :)

I hope to see some of your own projects on the Home of ScotchBlue Contest website! Good luck!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ScotchBlue.  
Opinions are my own.


Catching Up + A New Design Board

Phew!  Has it been as crazy of a spring for y'all as it has for our family?  I'm starting to catch my breath but I know it is all about to ramp up again very soon.  We have had a busy past few months, mostly because I am expecting our second daughter at the beginning of August!  We are overjoyed and oh so grateful for this precious girl coming our way.  My body, on the other hand, is not so overjoyed and I have been much sicker this time around.  Basic survival has been our mantra lately and the needs of my family have come before the blog.  As it should be, right?  Suffice it to say, the Lenten cleaning challenge that I wrote about here did not happen.  I did manage to organize our linen closet, but that was about all the challenge I could handle. Hoping to try again next year.

In addition to taking care of my fam, I've been working with some great new clients, and I also gave my first public presentation related to design.   I was pleased with the topic, and hope that those in the audience were as well.  Hope to share more on that soon.

It has been so fun getting to design the nursery for our new little one.  Partially because it is the first room in the house that I am designing from scratch.  Like most people, we have a small budget for home projects, and so many of the things that I would do to make our house more us will not happen for a long while.  Her nursery will be the first room that is completely us from start to finish, and that is exciting (& causing a little anxiety).  Designers always have trouble with their own homes because we are exposed to so much every day, and when pregnancy hormones are added into the mix, watch out.  :)

But, that's what a good design board is for, right?  To act as a visual guide to the room.  While changes may be made due to time or money constraints (or because I plain ol' changed my mind), here is the basis of her room.  I need to give credit to my awesome, hard-working hubby who said, "no problem!" when I explained I wanted to install some type of board & batten, new lighting, paint, a customized closet system, custom drapery, etc.  This will all be DIY so I hope to document some of it here once we finish.  Luckily for him, I'm much more relaxed this time around, and keep reminding myself & him that at least she has a crib to sleep in and a glider to be rocked in, if her room isn't finished in time.  Much different than the 'it must be done months ahead of time' attitude I had with our firstborn.

After some experimental board placement, we've decided to go with a bit simpler board & batten pattern.  Once we layed out some different patterns, the one pictured above was a little too busy for the room (& a lot more work).  I am including a picture rail however, & cannot wait to see how that turns out.  Above the b&b is Benjamin Moore's Valley Forge Tan.  This room was a beast when it came to choosing the paint color.  It is a north facing room (so no direct sunlight), tucked into a corner of our house, and every paint color in this room skewed green, peach, or purple.  I feel like I am usually fairly adept at seeing the undertones in paint, but this one had me scratching my head.  VFT is the closest to what I'm picturing in my head, so I'm hoping it works out.  

We already own the crib, glider, side table, lamp, and a similar dresser, so I made sure to work the design around these items in order to save money.  The real stars of the room will be the fantastic toile fabric, coral trimmed drapes, and bamboo lantern that reminds me of the one my grandparents had hanging in their breakfast room for years.  
I have not yet picked out any art for her room.  Art is so personal to me, and while I will choose pieces for clients if they wish, I believe that collecting pieces that speak to you is a much better method than choosing just any old thing at a big box store. It is a surefire way to add depth and character into your home. 

Hopefully, I will have an update sooner rather than later.  Until then, hoping everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer!



Before & After - Open Floor Plan Kitchen & Family Room

   My clients, sweet friends who were also our next door neighbors for a short time, hired me last fall to help them turn their new home into the space they envisioned it could be.  While the "before" is a nice space, it wasn't the look they wanted for their home.  One of the things I enjoy about a lot of my clients is their willingness to try DIY projects, and their understanding that a true home can't be built (or decorated) in a day or two.  Taking your time can help to create a home that is really "you" - fewer mistakes made, (hopefully) less money spent, and a sense of who really lives in the home versus who went to the store & bought everything in one shopping trip.  It's hard to build a sense of history if all of your things come from the same place, same season, etc.

Before, the cabinets were the typical wood found in a lot of new builds around the country.  The granite & tile backsplash had been installed by the previous owners, & my clients installed the lighting shortly after moving in (I believe it's from Lowe's).


The breakfast area was devoid of character, and presented a drapery challenge since the door & window are so close in proximity.

The renovated kitchen sports a new coat of white paint on the cabinets, a new color on the walls, custom drapery on the windows, and a new stainless steel fridge (not pictured).  The look is fresh & has a cottage feeling, my clients' preferred style.  I always love to see the wonderful effect paint has on a room.  The old kitchen really was fine, but this light, airy space is so much more THEM - and that is what matters.  


The breakfast area is another great example of the transforming power of paint.  The table is a Wal-Mart (!) clearance find that the homeowner covered with chalk paint.  I love that the table & chairs are two different colors; it adds character & a little pizzazz to the space that might not have occurred if they were all painted the same hue.    

The family room and kitchen are separated by a half wall (seen below).  Like the kitchen, almost everything was some shade of brown or black.  The windows had blinds for privacy but needed some more character.  


A few simple changes really make a difference.  Staying on budget meant working with their current furniture & wall color; she & I have already created design plans for possible changes in the future when time and money allow.  Simple Ikea drapes on the windows & some custom pillows for the sofa are currently the only changes to this room, but the whole room seems lighter & brighter.  


Some details that make the space: she added pleats to the Ikea drapes to give the effect of a more custom look.  The pillows, all made for the space, are a combination of Ikea's fabulous buffalo check and fabric based on the design board that she was lucky to find at our local discount home fabric store.  

The final space currently completed is the powder room.  I don't have a before picture, but it was similar to the rest of the house.  They added trim around the stock mirror, new paint, and custom drapery.  

It has been such a treat to work with these dear clients & friends.  Thanks to them for trusting me with their home!  I hope it brings you much happiness.



Restoration (Organizing for Lent)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you probably won't be surprised to hear that I have a bad case of the beach blues. If time & money would permit, I would have left for the beach before the first snow hit Atlanta back in January, & doubt I would return for many weeks.

Besides the obvious (sun, waves, frozen drinks), I've been thinking about what contributes to that sense of calm & soul restoration that comes with a vacation in a beach town. And I realized that all of my favorite places to stay have something in common: a clean, uncluttered atmosphere. Everything is in its place. There isn't a lot of clutter or visual busyness. Towels & beach bags hang on pegs in the halls & baths.  Dressers & closets have plenty of space for your stuff. Coffee tables offer a place to rest bare feet or frosty glasses.
Images like the one below spring to mind.


Of course, all of this can also make a vacation home impersonal. Finding a balance between displaying the things that make your house your own vs. not letting your stuff take over is important. I'm inspired to clear out the clutter, to give my spaces room to breathe. My best friend told me about a Lenten challenge to declutter one area of your home every day for 40 days. I believe two blogs, whitehouseblackshutters.com & memoriesoncloverlane.com, are providing instruction on how to accomplish this big task. I'm going to attempt to follow along myself, and will give you an update around Easter. If you decide to join, let me know - I'd love to hear how it went for you!


My Rock

This post is completely different from my usual decor related writing, but Edie over at Life in Grace is asking for true stories about marriage in celebration of another favorite blogger's new book (The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle aka Big Mama). And my sweet hubby deserves some recognition for all he does. He takes his role as husband & daddy so seriously, and because of this, we always feel completely loved & secure.  So Matty, this is for you...

We met when I was still a teenager, & got engaged the year I could legally drink. Nursing school & the Army separated us after only 4 months of marriage, and of the next 4 years, only 18 months were spent together.  We made sure to spend as much of those 18 months together as possible.

This year we will celebrate our 11th year of marriage; we've been together for 13. During that time, we've felt the effects of war, including a yearlong separation & losing friends before they even reached the quarter mark of life. We've dealt with infertility, only to be blessed with the most beautiful gift God could ever give us. And most recently, & most painfully, we've lived with the incredible grief of losing my mom much too early.

Through all of this, and through all of the wonderful moments too, he has been there. When I feel like the latest obstacle we face just might be too much, he reminds me of his love for me and God's love for us. He is strong for me when I cannot be, & while our daughter, babies, and pride of country can move him to sentimental tears, I've never seen him show weakness.

He wakes every morning with a mission to better himself for his family. He is the fun dad, the handy husband, the friend who will take you to the shooting range one night
only to invite you to Bible study the next.   It makes his eternal state of messiness almost forgivable...almost. ;)

We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day, at least not more than a card or flowers, but I wanted to use this opportunity to say thank you, I love you, I'm grateful for you. And I am better for knowing you & for calling you mine.


Valentine's Day 2013.  He took her on a date before our dinner together :)