Serena and Lily Duvet

This post is sponsored by Serena and Lily.

Y’all, I’m irrationally excited about a life development that goes something like this. Serena and Lily sends the nicest, softest, chicest duvet cover you’ve ever laid eyes on and asks you to pop it on your bed and share what you think of it. Y’all, our last duvet was, well, not nice – and it was pilling already so I think that’s a sign that it’s kind of done for, right?

Serena_And_Lily_Bedding_Review

I was so dang pumped about busting this beauty out of it’s shipping box that I snapped these photos at dawn (basically), right before I carted the kiddo off to school for the day and hit the road for work. Multi-tasking, it’s what parenting is all about! 😉

Serena_&_Lily_Duvet

The duvet has some buttons along the bottom portion that keep the insert in there nice and snug. Plus, it adds a little pop cute factor in my book, compared to the zipper we had on our old duvet. The fabric on this duvet is incredibly soft as well – I absolutely love how it feels after a long day y’all. Like hotel luxury 🙂
Serena_And_Lily_Duvet_Cover

It’s also got a beautiful satin trim along the sides that make the bedding look extremely tailored and practically custom made. Especially compared to what we had before, you can tell this bedding is significantly nicer and made of much higher quality materials.

Serena_And_Lily_White_Duvet

I’ve always been a fan of a neutral base for the bedding, and then some little accents with blankets and throw pillows. I know this will last us for a long time given it’s super high quality, and the white will go with anything we decide to do if we change things up. Duvet covers in general are a staple for me as a Mom especially since I know we can always just stain treat them and easily throw them in the wash if H comes up with gross hands, or I decide to eat ice cream in bed. Both equally plausible scenarios in the Sell Casa.

Best_White_Duvets

For now, I’m pretty stuck on our current configuration though, and love how this crisp, bright white duvet helps the little accents we already have to pop too. One thing for sure, Serena and Lily has luxury duvet covers like my eyes have never seen you guys. I feel like Kim Kardashian and Queen B. In fact I think I’ll start going by Queen M as I fade into my beauty sleep – I wonder if I can get Jay on board with that?

Serena_and_Lily

Also – for all y’all that may also have a strong desire to get your hands on some decked out bedding, valid for one week only Serena and Lily is offering 15% with blogger code: DUVETLOVE-LEMON. Treat yo’ self!!

Round Two – Nursery Design!

Oh you guys. This pregnancy has been rough so far. I’ve been feeling so sick every day and the last few weeks have just started to feel really depressed about it – it literally starts to feel like you will never, ever, feel normal again. I know we’re getting so close to better days ahead though y’all and one thing that helps calm my nerves and make me forget about all my nausea is – designing a nursery! 😉 Haha. It’s THAT fun 😀

Silver lining with this room is that other than paint and 4-5 fill in items, I’m going to reuse staples like the glider and the crib from H’s room. Henry is actually still *using* the crib (hey, I like having a baby jail, don’t judge me!) so we’ll uhhh, have to address that as well. 😉

Here is what H’s never quite complete nursery looked like.

Dark Blue Baby Room

I’ll use this glider and the crib, and maybe the bookcase in the new baby’s room. Dark Blue Boys Room Y’all this is what I’m thinking for the new babes space. A botanical themed space with some paneling on charcoal walls!

Botanical Nursery Design

Different than what we’ve done in the past, but I’m just really into dark colors right now! I think with the lighter details, it helps to balance it out and ground the darker base.

Notice those new doors … I sorta told Jay I want to replace all the doors and hardware in the house (our current style looks like this)

Laundry Room Closet

I don’t know – pinterest has pretty much ruined me. Jay thinks I’m off my rocker.

If you’re extra blog savvy, you’ll also recognize that the room we’ll be using as our nursery for baby #2, is also our office. I know I totally was dreaming and scheming of turning this room into a crazy awesome library esq space (not all dreams come true guys), but I’m actually going to try and recreate that look in a little nook in our house downstairs. Stay tuned, it’s on the honey do list this month so I’m hoping to have progress to share on our new office locale sooner rather than later! (not all is lost!)

I’ve always thought this was a boy, but the past few weeks, as I’m still feeling pretty sick every day, I’m like – crap – maybe this is a girl… Not going to lie, I actually want another boy (same clothes, same everything – easy) but the more I think about it, the more I’ve come around to the idea of a potential girl.

More than anything our only hope is for a healthy baby. Cliche, but especially with these first few uncertain months for us, we’re just hoping we continue to hear good news about the prospects of this little ones health. I’ll keep y’all updated, but we’ll have an amnio in the next few weeks along with an ultrasound, which will provide more information. Please continue to send us good vibes!

Tiny Dark Bathrooms

I’ve always had a thing for tiny rooms that are super dark. It’s hard to take a chance on a dark color in a larger space, but for our little downstairs bathroom, I’ve found the color is something I really love.

Dark_Bathroom_Small_Design
It’s actually the same color we used up in H’s room – so that worked out really well for saving some simoleons 😀

Dark Blue Baby Room

Another thing I love about this color is that it grabs from some of the rug colors out in the hallway, so it compliments the look of the other rooms downstairs while still maintaining an independent vibe.

Dark_Navy_Bathroom

It’s actually nominally difficult to get any good shots of this room being that it’s small and dark and awkward to shoot at all angles, but I figured if I was showing the house as it stands one year in, this was a room to include as well 😉

In complete honesty, I have no recollection of what this room was even painted before (maybe red?) but it was not my fav and so we just decided to take a jump and use the extra paint from Henry’s room to tie this space together more, too.

I see us switching this out over time in here (for some fun variety), but I got this oversized painting on craigslist for $20. Maybe you’ll see me on antiques roadshow someday?? 😉

Oversized_Artwork_In_Bathroom

We also swapped out the light in here for something more updated and put in a new towel rack and toilet paper roll holder, they were both gold before.  Dark_Navy_Small_Bathroom

As in all our houses, I had to find a space for the Desiderata print and my friend Emily told me bathrooms are always best, and she’s a wise girl, so I trust what she says. Plus, we had a perfect nook for it right next to the loo, so there ya go. All of the bathrooms in our house have this bump out (bump in) and I’m seriously scratching my head on the builders initial intentions for these. Toilet paper? I don’t know.

Small_Dark_Bathroom

If I ever start to feel a bit crazy (and like spending $$) I’d love to wallpaper a bathroom someday. 😉 For now, the paint is an upgrade from the original – good enough! 😀

Lemon Grove Interiors

Lemon Grove Interiors

Hey y’all! I get a few emails each week asking if I’m still doing design services so I thought I’d get back in the game and offer up (5) slots per month where I can work with a design client. 🙂 If you’re interested in using my design services, read on for details on how the process works!

For each client, I create:

– A custom design board (inspiration board)
– Specific product recommendations for furniture, art, decor, fabric, accessories, and drapes.
– Product source list (shopping list)
– A true to scale floor plan illustration (an accurate birds eye view of your new space)
– Paint color recommendations
– Tips for incorporating current pieces
– Specific furniture placement suggestions (as seen in your true to scale floor plan)

So a board like this:

Lemon Grove Interiors

And layout, like this!

Lemon Grove Interiors

All packages are $75 per room and include direct links to all products sourced.

Here is an example of someone I helped design a space for. This was the before:

Before Dining Room

And the after!

After Dining Room

I also will do a single source question, like asking for (1) light option for a room for $10 each. I had a client recently move into a new house, and I was able to help source light fixtures for each space to provide a cohesive and put together final look.

Lemon Grove Interiors

I’d love to work with you! Packages can be ordered directly here. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions 🙂

10% off to all new clients with code LEMONGROVE 🙂

  • 2+ rooms (10% discount off all)
  • 3+ rooms (20% discount off all)
  • 4 or more rooms (30% discount off all)

Lemon Grove Interiors

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Office Inspiration

Learning your husband is actually semi-equipped to build things (like this or this) is a double edge sword. All of a sudden, I’m looking at every nook and cranny in our house and wondering how/if he could build me up some custom bookshelves or a new window seat or another table. The answer is (mostly) yes, I’m finding, especially if I have enough patience to let him finish the project in peace without me nagging him and bugging him to the point he wants to just – well – not build things anymore. 😉 What can I say, I’m just so excited for the final product 😀

Lemon_Grove_Interiors

So in our office, which currently looks like this, is a room I’ve been tossing around in my head for a dramatic redo/reno.

Benjamin_Moore_Moonlight

One day when I was at my mom and dad’s I was leafing through their newspaper and it had a write up on a local carpenter and one of his projects really caught my eye. It was a dark navy bookcase (pair of bookcases) flanking a window. And I started to drift off while looking at the picture – thinking of this window and this corner of our house.

Office_Moonlight_Benjamin_Moore

And I thought to myself – hey! We should build a bookcase with a desk in the middle. Jay built a table for our outside, and I was thinking a similar rusticy type of worn wood would look pretty sweet flanked by some dark and dreamy bookcases. Y’all picking up what I’m putting down? Now bookcases (and the wood required to build them) are not the cheapest DIY, so I think we’re in a holding pattern of saving up some dough for this project, but I’m thinking I’d love a final product that had a look and feel like some of the photos below.

Dark_Blue_Built_In_Bookcase

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And I love the concept of this (with the built-in desk) but I think I want to go dark on these cabinets, vs white.

Built in Desk

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And I love this one, but I think slightly darker cabinets? But that rug. I mean serrriiiously – that rug?! The other night, as I was lying awake in bed specing out this bookcase install in my head I told Jay that I thought we should put wood floors in this room and he only kinda mumbled no, so I think I can sway him on this very important detail.

Gray_Cabinets_Office

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Our carpet is actually pretty worn out upstairs, with a lot of spots bubbling up from getting stretched out, so we’re kinda at the point where we need to decide to put new carpet down orrrr put in wood floors, and I’m sorta leaning toward the latter. 😉

Carpet_Wearing_Out

It will mean refinishing our floors upstairs (like we did on this house), but I might just be ok with that! Here is a shot of our hallway when we moved in – prior to paint but still the same floor. Leaves a bit to be desired (too shiny and too orange for my taste!)

Hardwood on stair landing

I figure a few years down the road when H is getting toward double digits and wants his own space, then we could always pop a bed in between the two bookcases vs. a desk. Although, in complete honesty, I may wait until he getting on toward high school before I give up the office because I seriously don’t know what we’d do without this dedicated space for a computer – I love it.

Down the road if we ever convert the space to a bedroom. I’d pop something in that functioned/looked like this gorg photo below. I think the black is a bit too dark, but I do love it in this photo!

black walls in library

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?)

Life By the Numbers

Best_Budgeting_Advice_Millennials

Y’all do you ever feel like you’re so clear on something that it’s just your marching orders and your life calling card. The last few months I’ve been feeling like that about our finances. On. A. Mission. Working our butts off to create the future we want. And 6-months or so in to our new regime (we started the beginning of the year), I’m feeling fairly obsessed with our modifications. Have y’all heard of Mr. Money Mustache? He’s a fairly famous lad with the frugal nuts of the world and his personal tale is one where he saved a significant portion of his income and essentially retired after 10 years of working.

So literally, my new {personal} life mission is to create a life where we can be on our own watch as soon as possible. IE not working for the man, unless we feel like it. 🙂 Frankly, I love my job, so I’m not in a huge hurry to trade in my cards in life. But then, I love my bambino, and I think he’s pretty awesome as well – so, it’s all about finding that balance right?

I’ve been feeling inspired by some of the changes we’ve been making here around our house that are (hopefully) setting us up for a really solid financial future, and I wanted to share a few things with y’all that we’ve found really have been game changers for us. So starting January 1, we started making sure we had atleast half of our income, 50% of it, going straight into retirement account. We’ve always tried to be really good about saving our money, but when I sat down late last year and did the math, I realized we were only saving about 15% of our income, and the more I read blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, I started to realize that was whoafully insignificant for what our financial goals are.

I think different seasons of your life, have different needs. Our first 6 or 7 years as a married couple we were all star savers in many respects, but the money was always going toward saving up for a house, or buying a car, etc. Now that we’ve got those things – ie house, car – we feel like those boxes have been checked for us and we’re able to move on to different things.

So there are some upsides to aggressively saving for retirement, namely the ability to use all the contributions made to a 401k, 457 plan and IRA as tax deductions. So for every $1 you put into these accounts, you’re off the hook on that amount of taxes each year. So that’s sweet (basically brings your tax bracket down). The downside (IMO) is that almost all this money is not truly utilizable until you’re 65, or 62 or like – when you’re OLD basically. It will be a long while before we can touch that moola. I’m lucky at my work that I have something called a 457 plan, which enables you to use those funds as soon as you leave your place of employment – ie, if I “retire” from my current job at 40, we could start drawing down from that fund as an income supplement. But even with traditional retirement assets (if your employer doesn’t offer a 457) there are ways to diversify your retirement savings so that you have liquid assets to grab when you want or need. For us, that’s our Roth IRA, which is the retirement account we’ve been contributing to since we were married. At any point you can use your principal from that account for anything – since it’s put in post tax, the principal is your money to use whenever you want it.

So anyway, blah, blah, blah – woo hoo, saving money is great. But how in bloody hell do you get to a point where you can save 50% of your income, you ask. Extremely valid question, and grasshopper, I’ll tell you, I think it took me a solid 7 years to get to this point, but the basic premise is don’t buy stuff you don’t need. Patent pending on that nugget of life advice, but you guys, sometimes the simplest answer is all there is to it. Some tools I’ve found pretty helpful for our household.

  • Create some type of budget or expectation of where you want your money to go, and stick to it by allocating the remainder into your savings account. 

Not particularly revolutionary or sexy, but y’all, if you don’t have an idea of where your money is going, I can guarantee you, it’s not going to the right places.

Anything that doesn’t go toward our monthly expenses and retirement goes into short term emergency fund – which right now is only like a hundred bucks each month, so all and all we keep things pretty tight (purposefully) which keeps us as accountable as possible. So I actually don’t track against what we spend each month in each category – persay – I just know each dollar we spend since in all honesty, we don’t spend all that many. Like our grocery shopping is done once a week – I know if I stay under $100, we’ll be on track for my (general) goal of $400 a month. So I don’t obsess over it, but I am very aware of it.

  • Autodraft money to go straight into your savings accounts (ie retirement, stocks, bonds, wherever).

Treat that money like it was never yours to spend – and you’ll never miss it. In fact, you’ll gleefully watch as it turns into more and more money – much better than spending it! 🙂

  • Identify triggers that you know are going to mess with your budget.

Going back to the grocery shopping example, I try to meal plan and only run to the grocery store once per week. I find it easier to track the expense that way and we don’t get nickle and dimed with this and that and the other thing. $20 here and $30 there adds up quick and will blow your “$400” grocery line pretty quick.

  • Buy EVERYTHING used

In all honesty, I could get better in this category but I’ve found that there is virtually no reason to buy 99% of what we use new. Other than food (obviously) our clothes, furniture, bikes, cars, house – all used with very few exceptions. It encourages you to be more methodical about your spending and also makes me wait for stuff I really don’t need. Things I know we will need (like 4T clothes for my 2T tyke) are always things I buy as far in advance as possible. So plan ahead for necessities and everything else you just got to wait for 🙂

  • Be easy on yourself

Set manageable goals and don’t beat yourself up when you screw something up. Y’all, I remember the first year of our marriage – ya know zero money saved up, student loans coming from every angle and just the stress of a brand new marriage – I lost it over forgetting to use a coupon at the check out lane. I like thought the world was going to end. But you know, it didn’t, and I was out like a dollar. Maybe even fifty cents 😉 I wanted so much to be able to stick with my plan that I lost it over that slight deviation. But you guys – the thing is about this frugal path Jay and I chose is that it’s about the long view man. I didn’t know that when I was 22, but that’s the truth. You can’t fret about small blimps along the way, you just get true to that path and you’re fine. Things happen with finances – you have good days and bad days, more abundant years and really tight ones. It’s all about laying the groundwork with the right mentality and a solid foundation.

Whew – so that was sorta long, but I hope a smidge helpful to at least one person out there! I’m curious to hear what others do to keep their financial goals on track. Do you guys have any nuggets of information that y’all have found really helpful for your household in making the numbers work each month, or different strategies you’ve used to save more? Would love to hear!

There are some really great blogs if you want to start to fine tune your finances – my two current faves are Frugal Woods and Mr. Money Mustache.