Our Office, Currently

Our office you guys – it’s just wanting for some love. I work from home one day a week and I find during those hours of sitting and staring at my (current) completely blank wall above me that this room just needs something y’all. I mean this is the current view, haha. We have not done much in here …

Benjamin_Moore_Moonlight

Leaves a bit to be desired… This room has become sort of an unprogrammed space and I’m just dying to give it some personality and definition. I’ve got some big plans in store for it (that I’ll share next week), but this week I thought I’d post some before shots. Well – truthfully – this is the before shot.

Upstairs Office Space

Which was the photo in the listing before we bought it. Green paint (like the rest of the upstairs) and the same carpet. We painted it Benjamin Moore Moonshine (when we had extra paint from this room), and it’s a definite update and makes the space much brighter and more cheery.

I think it still needs some serious work though as the space is largely just our desk and some random toys for H (like his teepee and dress up clothes) and I think the biggest issue we have in here is that it’s just a drop zone, vs. an intentional space.

This wall in particular, is one I’d like to see a lot of changes for. Maybe a built-in along the back wall (on either side of the windows) for extra storage.

Office_Moonlight_Benjamin_Moore

I tried adding in some artwork, but alas, I have still not put anything in the frames (just found some frames that had the right proportions, so I bought them). Maybe I’m the problem in this equation – I just can’t commit to a look I love in this space, so it’s been an under utilized room since we’ve moved in.

Functional Children's Storage

We do store Henry’s rotating out clothes (I keep a bin in here that I fill as he ages out of clothing), so this room is functional in a sense, but y’all, I think it’s just having little ones but the clutter and just extra “stuff” around the house all the time gives me a slight tick. Must. Put. Away. I just want bookcases and storage and locations I can store everything in a pretty way (vs. tupperware containers functioning as coffee tables…)

Storage_Childrens_Clothes

 

DIY Counter in Laundry

So Jay’s been busy building some tables that we’ve actually been selling on craigslist (woo hoo for handy husband’s with carpentry skills!) and while he was fiddling with those, I asked him, pretty please if he could create a counter top for the laundry room since we’ve had virtually no storage in here for the past 18-months. It was time, as Rafiki would say. He’s a wise baboon, no? (I blame my 2-year old for any Disney references on this blog)

Y’all saw our current laundry room (and upstairs hall) in last week’s post, but here is a quick snap shot in case you’re like me and forget anything that didn’t happen in the last 30 minutes.

Laundry_Closet_Design_Ideas

So while Jay was building away, he crafted this little counter, which has a few notches in the back to account for the electrical and plumbing behind the washer and the dryer.

These are just 10″x10′ pine boards y’all – to the tune of $9 each at Home Depot, so this entire project was under $30. Woot!

DIY_Laundry_Countertop

So although we DID account for the notches we had to make in the back, apparently we did not account for the fact that there was a wall on either side of this sucker cause y’all – ummmmm – our walls be looking rough after we got this thing (finally) wedged into place. We probably should have just taken it downstairs and cut an 1/8th inch off the side but I (true to form) was rearing to go and wanted this in place without hauling out the saw (again).

Luckily it was mostly just scuffing (there was a staple on the end of one of the wood pieces, doy!) and with some paint touch up it looks fine, but I was a bit stressed out about it during install. Jay can attest to that 😉

DIY_Laundry_Room

We used a vinegar and steel wool concoction that is a natural way to age wood quickly. We just used this tutorial and overall, we’re super happy with the way things turned out.

DIY_Pine_Counter_Top

This did require a lot of experimenting, and I’d highly recommend testing it on scrap wood before you go ahead and put it all over your entire finished piece. It’s a bit of a science experiment, and will come out different each time you do it (based on how much steel wool you use, and how long you let it sit, etc) so test it out before hand. You can always dilute it to get a slightly less dark look.

DIY_Pine_Countertop

And a wider angle view so you can see some of the color variation on the counter.

Inexpensive_Laundry_Updates

Over time I’d love to add some shelves but it took us a year + to get around to the counter, so don’t hold your breath on an update any time *too* soon in that department 😉

Pine_Counter_Top_DIY

Super easy, darn cheap, and heyo – chic too! Pretty happy with this upgrade for a weekend, a saw, and thirty bucks!!

One last look at the improved space.

Farmhouse_Laundry_Room

And the before!

Renovating Small Laundry Room

Laundry, These Days

So y’all saw some of our laundry room in this post – it was actually our first project here in the house where we installed some subway tile and dark grout (my first time trying a darker grout – I like it!). Here is a progress shot of that room, probably about a year ago now, right after we installed the tile.

Subway Tile Slate Floor Laundry

And if you want to go way back – here it is when we moved in. This green color was in all the rooms upstairs and y’all, it had to go 😉

Laundry Room Closet Renovation

Here’s what we’ve been rocking for 2017 so far.

Laundry_Closet_Design_Ideas

The tops of the washer and dryer do act as a counter more or less, but there are gaps all over the place and I’ve been wanting to get something in there there was more finished (ie a real counter top).

High_Efficiency_Laundry_Sale

One thing I really love about the laundry room / closet (?) is this hanging rack which is where we try to air dry as much clothing as possible. I swear with a child I feel like I’m constantly doing laundry and I wanted to think of small ways we could make a dent in our utility bill so we’ve been air drying most shirts and all bed sheets. I’ve found that sheets actually dry *better* on our stair railing (within 30 minutes if laid out enough) than they did in the dryer since they’d always get tangled up with other articles of clothing and come out moist after an hour + of drying – so if you haven’t tried air drying some of your laundry you should definitely do it!

Drying_Rack_In_Laundry

Notice in the inspiration board below that there are a few elements still missing from our room? While Jay and I (mostly Jay) have been working on a counter top and y’all – spoiler. it turned out great and was insanely cheap. Details next week! (that much closer to a finish space!)

Here is my inspiration board for reference.

Laundry Room Mood Board

When One House To Reno Isn’t Enough

Every time I type this, or think this, or say this my armpits get sweaty and I question my sanity. You guys – we’ve hard core branched out of our comfort zone and bought ourselves a whole other house, with a whole other mortgage. And for most people that have read this blog for a while you’re probably thinking – you’re moving again?! And for once, the answer is no – we’re not. We’re just becoming landlords.

Sayyyy whaattt?? I know – I know!? It’s crazy. But when one house to renovate just isn’t enough to make your heart happy, y’all, you go out and buy another one. Right? Oh – I’m the only one that does that?? 😀 So long story short, we bought the cutest little townhouse down in Cary, NC, which is a hop skip and a jump from our abode here in Raleigh. Overall, this joint is cute as a button, updated and ready to move in right now – which is great, because frankly with a two year old and our own renovations always swirling, we were not looking for a tear it out and replace deal.

Cary Townhome

Out of privacy for the people that live here, I’ll not be posting a ton of photos of the new place but will definitely include any updates we do to it here on the blog. In the next few years I’d like to renovate the bathrooms and do a few other things here and there over time. Ultimately, if y’all remember this post, here, where I discussed some of our longer and mid-term financial goals, we’re hoping that this investment will helps us to move toward a future where we can call the shots a bit more and have an income source beyond the 9-5. That’s LONG TERM though folks, so for now, we’re just crossing our fingers that someone signs on the dotted line to pay the mortgage each month.

Now we did not go into this decision lightly – we talked about it and thought about it and sat on it for a few months before we contacted our realtor (who is amazing, if you live in Raleigh or want to live in Raleigh let me know and I’ll hook you up) to help us find a place.

Cary Greenway System
Luckily we live in a county that has an influx of 64 people a day right now by some estimates, so it’s been growing quickly and the demand for rentals is very high as people relocate from out of state of different job opportunities. We’re excited about this locale in particular since it’s very close to downtown Cary and is easily bikable via their greenway system into the heart of their little town which has an increasing number of shops and restaurants and breweries and is really becoming a fun little town! We pretty much bike or bus everywhere in our house, so it was important for us (personally) to buy a property that we felt someone could live a car light lifestyle in. We’re excited to get to know it better over the years of owning this property.

The Pharmacy Bottle Shop

One thing for sure – this is totally new territory for us! Wish us luck you guys – we’re going to need it! Anyone else out there branched out into landlord/rental world? Trying to decide if I’ve totally lost my marbles (leaning toward yes?)

Farmhouse Table + Flowers

Our house was pretty landscaped when we moved in a year ago, and with a 2-year old, and an interior I wanted to get cracking on, we’ve literally done nothing – like nothing – to the outside of the house. Well I guess Jay did trim the bushes once last year – ha! But that’s been it! Oh and he’s built this table, which I’m obsessed with. Plan from Ana White, here.

Farmhouse Style Table

So this planter and been growing away over time … by now, it’s a bit overgrown. We had some basil in there that we transplanted into a small planter we keep in the kitchen for cooking.

Brick_Planter_Landscaping_Before

I’ve always loved the look of houses with tons and tons of hydrangeas all over the place. That or peonies but now that I have a kiddo and ants like never leave my life (ummm food crumbs all the time), the thought of a plant that attracts ants is not something I’m mojoing for too much.

We have a tiny little courtyard around our house, so I’d really like to give it a bit more of “us” character over time, and get rid of some of these tall wacky trees we have planted all over the place.

Tall_Bushes_Landscaping

These are some of the images that I swoon over when thinking about designing our backyard space.

Couryard_Patio_Plantings

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Do you think I could get away with turning our house into a tree, a la the photo above? I think Jay might fa-reak out 😉

Or what about turning the house into a bush, like this photo? Maybe I should just paint it green with a faux finish 😉 Something about that ivy/plantings growing over the wall just makes a space look old and lived in, I think. I love it!

Courtyard_Plantings

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Or this one (that table is a bit too weathered for my liking), but the droves of hydrangeas is definitely something I can get behind. And that charcoal shed tucked in the corner – mmm hmmm. Nice. Hydrangea_Backyard_Courtyard

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So one small step toward this oh so lovely vision was to turn our planter introduced at the beginning of this post, into a small spot for some hydrangeas to grow. We picked up two from Home Depot this weekend, and y’all I am so excited to watch these babies grow. Down here in NC things do grow pretty fast, so hopefully they take off quickly!

Hydrangea_Bush_Starters

I’m desperately hoping I don’t kill these beauties – I found this article helpful – and others attempting to grow hydrangeas may as well!

Next up, a porch swing (?) and some dark navy paint perhaps a la this photo. It hurts my heart I love this photo THAT much.

Outdoor Porch Swing

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When I Feel Like Spending Money I Do This Instead

Frugal_Living

So I thought this would be a fitting follow up to the post last week on our financial goals because y’all, the biggest secret to staying on track with our money goals is hands down not spending money. I know – it’s not super exciting and it’s rather straight forward, but that’s the long and the short of it.

I mentioned in the last post that I’m a firm believer that there are seasons in your life and I think we all know – some are more expensive than others. Not going to lie, the day when my first born starts kindergarten will be a bittersweet day. I mean, my child will be five – he will be more than a quarter done with his days living under my roof – but he will also be out of daycare, and yo, that place is expensive. Seasons where we’ve spent more money than others include: renovating our houses, moving across the country, birthing and raising our children – but I’ve looked to all of these as investments – one way or another, they all paid off in spades.

I’ve learned that there are a few ways to set yourself up for success with money and there are ways to bite it. I’ve actually turned the challenge of not buying things into a bit of a game. Sure – I could go to Chuckie Cheese and make the kid go coocoo for coco puffs or I could go to the park and play basketball with Henry! Sure, I could go out and buy a special dessert for tonight since the weather is so beautiful and it feels like the best idea EVER, or I could look around our cabinets for ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. Or, I feel like my house needs something, I want to go out and buy throw pillows – but instead I’ll wash the floor (lol – does this just make you judge me? Legit, y’all I KNOW if you read this blog that you know that I sometimes go out and buy those throw pillows) 😉

In all seriousness though – it’s truly about finding ways to be happy with what you’ve already got, and challenge yourself and ask – Do I really need X. Or even, do I really WANT X – and the answer to each is totally fine if it’s yes, because truth be told, y’all – I enjoy shopping. I like get a little buzz like the rest of America when I go out and get things. It’s fun! But saving money is super fun too, and there are ways to stretch out your dollar as far as possible by being critical of every purchase you make. Give yourself 24 hours to wait it out for anything that falls into the category of non essentials. And if throw pillows fall into the category of essentials any given day – y’all – I do not judge. 😀

Here is a list of 40 things you can do, without spending ANY money. Get it girrrrlll (as my best frugal friend, would say xoxo)

  1. Go outside! Walk/run/stroll/skip – enjoy your surroundings
  2. Clean your house
  3. Call your mother. (just do it)
  4. Find something fun to eat/make with ingredients in your house
  5. Explore a new part of your city
  6. Go to the library
  7. Learn how to make something new
  8. Talk to your kids
  9. Write down goals
  10. Do yoga (youtube has free yoga!)
  11. Organize your closets
  12. Weed your yard
  13. Read a book
  14. Find a frugal blog and get inspired
  15. Change the oil on your car
  16. Go window shopping (but don’t buy)
  17. Ride your bike
  18. Purge items you don’t need
  19. Call your dad! (just do it)
  20. Scan pinterest for DIY ideas
  21. Play with your child (get down on their level and PLAY!)
  22. Go through/clean your coat closet (check pockets for goodies)
  23. Organize your garage
  24. Think of ways to make money – write down 5 ideas
  25. Walk the dog
  26. Build something
  27. Do a family plank challenge
  28. Dust the furniture
  29. Organize your junk drawer (you never know what you might find!)
  30. Look around your house for things to sell
  31. Volunteer
  32. Sip Wine on the Porch (does this count as spending money – probs – I cheat when it comes to wine)
  33. Do 20 squats (werk off that wine, y’all!)
  34. Meet your Neighbors
  35. Build Something
  36. Try a New Hairstyle
  37. Clean your fridge
  38. Plan a Frugal Vacation
  39. Write in a journal
  40. Meditate

Library Lights

So for all of you with an eagle eye, you probably noticed that although our dining room is much improved from before, that there are still something missing from the picture below:

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room

If you noticed that a million dollars sitting out on display on our fine new buffet line was missing, I noticed that too, but alas this is not the item from the picture that we’re talking about replacing on today’s post. Bummer.

It’s the light sconces missing from above the bookcase. Notice it? Yeah, those fancy electrical boxes chilling up above our new crown.

I’ve hunted high and low and up and down for some good old library lights so our joint could look snazzy, like this picture. Swoon.

Builtin_Bookcase_with_Grasscloth

Or this one… wish I had the guts to paint our trim dark blue – amazing (but perhaps a tad darker would be even better – more charcoal?)

Blue_Painted_Builtin_Bookcsae

So since I’ve looked all over this green earth for lights, I thought I’d share with y’all some of the best (and most affordable) options I stumbled across during my hunt. I noticed that two of them popped up over $50 (must have been on sale when I started the search), but these are all super affordable options compared to some of the fancier brands out there where a library light can run well over $300 (!)

Affordable Library Lights

Electric LeClair LightVintage Retro Cage LightIndustrial Edison SconceClear Glass Shade Swing Arm Sconce | Brass Finish 1-light Wall Sconce | Modern Vintage Industrial Loft Sconce 

Right now I’m leaning toward the 5th one. Any thoughts/votes? I want it to compliment our existing light fixture in there, and I like how it would bring out the brass details! Decisions, decisions! Help me decide!

Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

 

Ipsy Glam Bags

Y’all I have just never been a) good at or b) all that inclined towards makeup. I think it’s the pragmatist / minimalist in me that just thought, meh, I’ve got a tube of mascara – I’m good! And truth be told, even to this day that’s pretty much still my mentality, haha. But my older sister, who is better with these beauty things than myself, got me absolutely hooked on ipsy. I’m selling it to myself as still being pragmatic / quasi minimalist because it’s only $10 a month and you get 5 samples every time, so I’m like in the category of never having to ever buy make-up again, other than ya know, my $10 per month hit.

Has anyone else heard of this thing? I feel like subscription / send stuff in the mail is the millennials answer to the previous generations shopping mall (that and amazon, duh…) but I get irrationally excited about this bag each month and obsessively check to see when I’m going to get my sneak peak email to get a glimpse at my monthly goodies.

So I’ve only been doing this for 4 months now, but this is my loot to date.

February_Ipsy_Bag_Review

I use the powder every day (and have been since February) and still have most of it left. The mascara has become a pretty much daily use for me too, and I’ve found I enjoy putting lipstick on for nights out!

March_Ipsy_Bag_Review

I love the deep conditioner for my hair, and use the blush every day. Wasn’t crazy about the tarte lipstick (it was too matte for my taste).

 

April_Ipsy_Bag_Review

In April, I loved the dry shampoo (I’ve never used that before), and the liquid eyeliner has been great, too.

So far, my favorite thing about ipsy is that I’m getting nicer stuff than I’d normally buy for myself, so it feels like a mega treat to get my bag each month. Since I’m not a pile it on makeup girl, I’ve found even the sample sizes (which some are smaller, not full sized) last me a few months. I try to space out my consumption of the goods, so if I get a travel sized deep conditioner, I use that once per month, and so far it’s lasted me for over 2 months, sweet! By the time I use up one sample size of a product or brand of a particular item, I usually have a replacement come from a different brand – so it works out perfectly!

Plus I get to try new things that I would not usually buy myself, so it’s encouraged me to try different products. Like lipstick!! OMG, I’ve never, in my 30 years of life ever worn lipstick. It’s actually hilarious when I put it on now for a date night because Henry just STARES at my lips and says “Red”. Like he’s speechless and that’s all he can get out, lol. Like something’s different about this lady… Are you my mother?

Anyone else out there use ipsy?? For $10 a month, I think it’s my new favorite bang for the buck thing!

One more fun thing about this subscription (does Birch Box do this, I’m not sure?) is that each month they have you rate your items so that they better match up with what you’d like (aka – I hated that color of blush or that bronzer was a-mazing) and after you get a certain number of points, you get to choose additional items to add to your bag! Huzza!! Or if you have friends sign up, etc, you get points on your account! *Disclaimer* If y’all subscribe to ipsy using the link, I’ll get referral points placed on my account! 😉

Dining Room Built-Ins

I love my husband for 1001 reasons – he is literally the best human and I’m forever indebted to him for all he’s done (and continues to do, you better bet that honey do list aint complete) for our family.

So these built-ins y’all. These built-ins are pushing him to the 101/100 level cause they are sweet as sugar and I’m totally obsessed.

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room

We’ve had some practice in this arena with the other houses (like this, and this, and this), but we’ve definitely had learning experiences as we’ve gone along and I do feel like these turned out much better than some of our other attempts. Practices makes perfect, I guess! 😉

If I could hand a few silver nuggets on how to make builts ins look sublime this would be it:

  • Sand the hello dolly out of them (in between every paint coat – sand, too)
  • Add extra pieces of trim to the shelves to beef up the front and make it look chunkier (big difference between our first built-ins here, 4 years ago, and these ones!)
  • Always add crown – gives it the zinggggg :)

Builtin_Bookcase_Styling

We had a counter and cabinets in here before, so we knew we needed to order some to match when we renovated our kitchen a few months back. Although it definitely added to the cost to have a professional style base cabinet (vs the pre-fab options we’ve used in the past from Home Depot stock cabinets) but I think it provides continuity and a uniform look. Since these two rooms (our dining and kitchen) are connected to each other and in the same visual plain, it seemed important to have a streamlined look between the two spaces.

I had lots of fun styling the bookcases – and finally using some of the decorations and picture frames that we’ve had stored in closets for a year +

Bookcase_Styling_Inexpensive

Jay insisted on adding a beer opener, and fridge, hehe. We had a wine fridge here in the old design, which apparently, does not get cold enough for beer 😉

Bottle_Opener_Wall_Mounted

Another favorite new addition is this dining light. which I got on sale for $270 (which is still steeeeepp, but I do love it!). I wanted something classic and understated in this room, and this light fits the bill. We started out with a chandelier I found on craigslist (which you can see here) and it was too low (and people kept hitting their heads on it), so after a year I updated to this light and I love it.

Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

Another view. Smitten!

I love the brass detail on it and I think it adds some warmth to the space as well.

Oblong_Drum_Chandelier_Dining_Room

We also added in a kitchen for Mr. H in our dining room. Keeps him busy “cooking” for us while we make dinner each night! This was a $25 craigslist find that we painted navy for him and gift to him this Christmas. So far the paint is holding up fine (we just spray painted it…)

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen_DIY

Right now the bookcase looks a smidge bare, but I figure in a few months we will add to it with thrift store knick knacks and family photos.

DIY_Built_In_Bookcase

This is the before of the dining room – I love the white – it makes the space feel so much more open and bright!

Dining Room with Built in

And the full shot view once more, for comparison:

Built_In_Bookcase_Dining_Room

Industrial Laundry Room Inspiration

So each house, it seems, we move up one peg on the laundry room scene. First house – gloomy basement, second – still in basement, slightly less gloomy, still damp, third house – we added our closet laundry, but it was a tight fit, this house – a closet that’s actually planned to have a laundry in it. Maybe by our last house, we’ll actually have a room. he he. #LifeGoals

Ta da!! Behind door #1 and #2, is our laundry room!

Laundry Room Closet

Here is our laundry room as is below, pretty much how it looks on a daily basis. Can you see why I’m looking for some laundry room inspiration to spruce this joint up a bit? I love the industrial laundry room vibe – kinda the farmhouse look that’s going on right now.

Renovating Small Laundry Room

So things that left room to be desired in the laundry room inspiration category. Let’s start with the paint. I mean, need I say more.

There are things I really like about the room – like the hanging bar across the top. Tres functional.

Renovating Laundry Room

And there are things I don’t like as much – like our dryer (pan right…). It’s old and it sounds like an army of burly men are hiking through our upstairs every time we dry our clothes. Not good for evening loads when the babe is sleeping (or for that matter when we’re trying to sleep…)

Washer and Dryer Replacement

Before, the room had some beigey tile on the ground – the same stuff that’s plastered all over our bathrooms up here. Very builder grade, and not so much my jam. And definitely doesn’t fit the industrial laundry room vibe I’m going for.

Laundry Room Before and After

Once we had everything removed from the space, we had a very open, very green, room – ready for some over hauling.

Laundry Room Closet Renovation

As a sneak peak of what we’ve been up to in this space (more on that next week), here is my general mood board for our industrial laundry room inspiration and how I’d like this room to look. I think we’re going to get there in a few different phases, but I’m very excited with the progress so far! I want some raw wood elements, coupled with metal for that industrial laundry room vibe.

Laundry Room Mood Board