Last night I was cuddled on the couch with our pup Ruby watching Tiny House Hunters, which is what lead me to writing this post today. If you regularly watch or follow home & design networks you’ve no doubt seen the increasing trend in people deciding to move into tiny houses and the shows documenting these quests.
Photos courtesy of HGTV
Many tiny houses look like dollhouses, others are converted buses or shipping containers, some are mobile and some are not. People are making the move for a variety of reasons including the wish to downsize, financial freedom, and the appeal of not being tied down to one location. While I’m not ready to take that kind of leap (and will likely never be) I do have an appreciation for certain aspects of tiny house living.
No Wasted Space: Every last inch in tiny houses serves a purpose. Many houses today (including my own) have a significant amount of square footage that is nothing other than empty space to walk around in. Tiny houses are meticulously planned out for maximum efficiency.
Multi Function: Many design elements in tiny homes are dual purpose. Examples include stairs to a loft that also serve as a bookcase or kitchen storage underneath, or a built in sofa that the seat lifts up for additional storage
Keep What Counts: Individuals moving into tiny houses are typically downsizing which means they are having to either sell, donate, or store a good amount of their belongings. This means the only things making their way into the tiny home are important. There is only space for items that are truly useful or sentimental.
Could you ever live in a tiny house?
As I have mentioned before, our office/extra bedroom/storage room has been somewhat of a thorn in my side since the day we moved in. However, this Spring, I am on a mission to finally turn it into a finished and cohesive space. I am very fortunate that my husband allows me a great deal of free reign when it comes to design and decorating in our house, so my goal for this room is to be more of a reflection of him and his love for Purdue University as an Alum and lifelong fan. I started doing a few minor things but struggled with was a big blank wall and what to do with it…
Last year I came across a calendar of reproduction vintage Purdue football posters which I thought might just be perfect for this room. After the end of 2015, I decided to turn the calendar into wall art. I selected 6 of my favorite posters from the calendar as they were not all equally appealing. Then I searched frames that were simple, but not all the identical so I opted to go with black & gold (Purdue colors) With some searching online and in stores I found what I needed and for less than $10 each.
I started by removing the posters I wanted to use from the calendar then placing in the frames (I was even able to include a little love for MSU~Go Green!) Then I laid them out on the floor to see the order I wanted to put them in and placed the Command strips (I LOVE THESE) on the back according to the directions. I also measured/mapped out on the wall where I wanted them to to and marked with a pencil. First, I started with the two I wanted to use in the middle and then added to either side.
So for less than $50 I have wall art that takes up a significant amount of space on my blank wall, and my husband approves. Now to finish the rest of the room…
Spinach & Artichoke Pizza
This is my take on turning spinach & artichoke dip into a pizza, and has become one of my husband’s favorite things that I make. Please note that I make no claim of the calorie count, carb content, or overall nutritional value of this. Spinach is healthy though right? Also, it beats going through the drive-thru or waiting for delivery. I love how simple and easy it is for a quick dinner. We often have this on its own, but it would be great with a side of fresh fruit for spring & summer.
You will need
In addition to being easy and delicious, another benefit of this pizza is that the ingredients can be modified to fit a variety of dietary specifications (vegetarian, gluten-free, low calorie, organic)
While I was feeling a little under the weather this past weekend, it was a good opportunity for me to do some online “window” shopping to get some ideas for a few upcoming projects, all from the comfort of my couch. Part of the beauty of online window shopping (aside from the obvious convenience), is that if you see something on one site that may be out of your price range, you can still use the inspiration (which is free!) to recreate something more affordable. I do thoroughly enjoy wandering through home stores, but options in my area are also limited. Shopping online gives me endless options. Also, many websites now have very reasonable, if not free, shipping promotions. I have compiled a small sampling of the websites I visit frequently for online shopping and inspiration. Whether looking to buy or looking for ideas, these are all great places to start, just click on the link for each site.
A Zillion Things Home
As far as selection, Wayfair is unbeatable in my opinion. There are literally thousands and thousands of items to search, in a multitude of brands and price ranges…everything from kitchen towels, to living room furniture and unique knick knacks.
Check out my previous post Etsy Obsession for more of my thoughts on this wonderful resource for custom, unique, and handcrafted items.
I love the style of West Elm, which often has a strong mid-century modern influence. This is one site that I use more for inspiration than purchasing often due to budgetary restrictions. However, if you sign up for their emails, they do have some really good sales worth keeping an eye on.
Consistently classic style, great staple pieces that will stand the test of time. Another site worth signing up for the emails to watch for sales.
There is a much larger selection of décor and home goods on their website than in our local store. There are several really great home brands carried by Target that combine quality and affordability.
What are your favorite online shopping sites?
The official start to Spring is less than 3 weeks away. However, it feels like Spring has already sprung here today. The sun is shining and we are supposed to reach nearly 70 degrees. I am under no illusion that this is going to last, but I will certainly enjoy it while it does.
This weather has me, and I’m sure may of you, starting to think about Spring cleaning and projects. I am starting to get a game plan together for some of the more substantial projects we have in the works for this Spring & Summer.
FINALLY finish our spare bedroom/office… I have made a few futile attempts in the last 15 months or so since we moved into our new house to finish this room, but have lacked the inspiration & motivation to do so. I think I now finally have a direction in my head and a plan to carry it out. As much as I hate to admit it, it will still likely always be somewhat of a catchall but at least it will be pretty.
Tackle the landscaping… last year we just cleaned up the overgrown landscaping that was already there when we moved in and called it good enough. Now it is time to make it what we want. This will involve removing the rose bushes in our backyard (don’t worry, they will be going to a good home with my mom) and hopefully replacing them with a small vegetable garden. I do not necessarily have a green thumb or a black thumb, I’m probably somewhere in the middle, maybe a blue thumb? My approach to landscaping is to keep it simple and easy to maintain.
Build a small storage shed… due to our HOA guidelines, this requires us to start planning so we can submit our proposal for approval, which is why we are starting now. We have already enlisted the help of my dad for this. We only need it to be big enough to store some lawn equipment and miscellaneous things so we can both continue to take advantage of parking in the garage.
If all goes as planned for these projects, I will have some before & after photos along with new posts to share with you as we make progress.
What projects will you be tackling this Spring?
In Part 1 I wrote about a few of my favorite things when it comes to decorating & design including: reclaimed wood, subway tile & glass coffee mugs. The list continues today with a few more of my favorite things…
There is just no better way to brighten up a room than with fresh flowers. The options are endless…they can come from your favorite flower shop, farmers market, grocery store or in your own backyard. As much as I would like to, I do not always have fresh flowers in my house due to the cost, but I consider it a treat when I do. Houseplants are another great option for providing some color, freshness and texture without having to worry about cut flowers that inevitably wilt and die.
Word of caution: please always be conscientious if you decide to pick your own fresh flowers & avoid protected areas/species/your neighbor’s garden.
Edison style light bulbs (with clear class and exposed filament) seem to be increasing in popularity at a steady pace. I love the fact that something as simple as a light bulb can have so much character and warmth. Depending on the size required, Edison bulbs could be a quick and easy update to your existing lighting fixtures. There are even a multitude of light fixtures that are designed specifically to showcase these little treasures.
Some may call it a mild obsession, I consider it a fascination…I have several mercury glass pieces in my home and I am always drawn to the displays any home décor stores. I love the way that the light of a candle can dance right through it. Mercury glass is versatile enough to be incorporated into both vintage and modern design styles. The photo above shows what I would consider to be the classic mercury glass with a silver tone, but it can be found in a variety of colors such as gold, red and more. There is just something so whimsical and timeless about mercury glass that I don’t think I will ever grow tired of.
Black & White
I truly do appreciate the beautiful light and colors that photographers and painters can capture, and I do not want to discount that it any way. But for me, I usually prefer black & white photos and paintings. This applies to everything from family photos to nature paintings for me. If you have two of the exact same photo side by side (one in color and one in B&W) and I am given the choice, I will almost always pick the black & white. Maybe this is because I like the aspect that black & white can add to décor without distracting from it, or maybe it is just a weird quirk of mine. Either way, I think black and white photographs and paintings can be easily incorporated into any décor.
What are some of your favorite things?
How do you deck your halls?
We drive by countless houses and enjoy the bright lights and outside displays; there are even shows dedicated to finding the most elaborate Christmas lights. But what about the inside? Personally, I put much more effort into the Christmas decorations inside my house. As selfish as it may sound, I do this because I want to enjoy my decorations to the fullest and I don’t often spend time standing outside my house. Also, sometimes we don’t get to share our Christmas decorations with as many friends and family members as we may like, especially if traveling for the Holidays. I love getting to see the varied decorations of friends & family whenever possible… Real tree or artificial? White lights or multi-color? Specific character or theme? Everyone’s traditions and interpretations are equally unique and festive.
So I am taking this opportunity to share my Christmas decorations and I am inviting you to do the same…How do you deck your halls?
Warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!
Not all worthwhile home updates require a great deal of planning or a large budget. We have been in our new house for almost a year now and one of the rooms I left neglected until recently was the laundry room. I realize it isn’t exactly the most exciting room to makeover, but it started to bug me that I hadn’t done anything to make our laundry room more organized and less boring. I finally decided to spend a little time and money to spruce it up a bit, and I am glad I did. I would say in total I spent a few hours searching for good deals on items to use, and ended up spending less than $50. It was by no means a drastic transformation, but enough to make me happier every time I open the door.
Before & After
How I did it:
Nearly a year after moving in and it feels good to finally have this checked off of my to-do list! On to the next project…
In recognition of my Mom’s birthday today, this post is dedicated to her…
I have realized that any foundation I have for being a successful hostess is thanks to my Mom, because she is the best. We have a large immediate and extended family. Gatherings for our immediate family regularly average about 15 people and extended family gatherings up to 40+ people. Mom has played the part of hostess for everything from Holiday dinners of every sort, to graduation parties and even picnics served out of the back of their SUV for our family canoe & tubing trips. Even on a whim for a regular evening meal, she has always been willing to make accommodations for extra last-minute friends or family members. Mom exemplifies the concept of “the more the merrier” mentality and embodies what it means is to be a gracious hostess.
What stands out in my mind more than anything else is that she never seems overwhelmed or stressed by the task of hosting, and I believe this comes from her approach. Mom never sat me down to teach or instruct me how to bee a good hostess. However, through observation I have learned a great deal from her…
Plan & prep ahead: I think this is of the utmost importance. Mom is a list maker (so thankful I got that from her) and she starts by making a list of what she plans on serving and then follows with a grocery list for ingredients needed. She starts this process sometimes weeks in advance, and usually shops at least a few days in advance so everything is on hand. Mom does any prep work possible before the day of the meal of the event. This may include browning meat, chopping vegetables, baking cookies, etc. The more that can be done ahead of time the better, this helps cut down on the potential of any last minute stress.
Keep it simple: Everything Mom serves is delicious without having to be too fancy or complicated. She makes a point to have a variety of things so that every person will have something they will like. Depending on the meal, she usually has a mix of sweet & savory dishes, and incorporates fruits & veggies whenever possible. Due to the size of our family, the most practical way to serve such a large group is usually to have a buffet full of things that can be dished out & enjoyed easily. An added benefit to serving buffet style is that once everything is set out everyone can serve themselves and she can enjoy time visiting with everyone.
Details make a difference: Even for a buffet style meal like mentioned above, Mom doesn’t forget the details. She still serves on nice trays and dishes and also coordinates matching paper products to fit the occasion. These may seem like small gestures but they add a special touch that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Remember favorites/allergies: There are certain family favorites that Mom includes time and again, and they have become tradition. (Some of ours include Grace’s jello salad & cheese-ball, monster cookies, Dad’s rolls, haystacks, etc.) Also, she makes minor adjustments to certain dishes due to a food allergy in our family so no one has to miss out.
Enlist help when needed/available: Mom always found a way to involve me when I wanted to help. She would have me set the table or arrange the cookie display, anything I could handle. Dad has also always been more than willing to help shred, chop, stir where needed. Let me just say, he is an equally admirable host. The two of them operate like a well-oiled machine when it comes to serving large groups.
I wholeheartedly believe that my love for entertaining and striving to be a good hostess, stems from my Mom. She makes it seem effortless, even when I know it is not, and truly enjoys herself and her family in the process. Enjoying each other is really what it is all about, and we appreciate her for always making it special.
Happy Birthday Mom, Love you lots!
A few pictures I had on my phone from past family gatherings
Perhaps obsession is a strong word…but when it comes to online shopping, especially for my home, there is one site that I consistently return to more than any other. At the very top of my list for online shopping sites is…Etsy. I have purchased so many wonderful things on Etsy including: jewelry, clothes, gifts, wall art, pillow covers, a window valance, a dog collar, soaps, and I’m sure that I’m missing plenty of other goodies. It is a great resource for both ready-made and custom products that you won’t find anywhere else.
Discover items you can’t find anywhere else
For those of you that have never heard of or just aren’t familiar with Etsy…it is an online marketplace on which you can purchase a wide array of handmade and unique items directly from the designers, artisans and craftsmen that create these items around the country and the world. These sellers set up their online shops through Etsy. You can add items to your cart from different shops and checkout all at one time. Most shops accept major credit cards and PayPal, I have not encountered any shops that don’t.
Shop directly from people around the world
My “favorites” list consistently has at least 100+ items on it at all time, and probably 25+ shops. I can honestly say I have been satisfied with each and every one of my Etsy purchases to this point, and don’t foresee that changing. The quality and selection of handmade items on Etsy is unbeatable. I have experienced great communication with shop owners and the transactions couldn’t be easier. The best part about shopping on Etsy is that you can get one of a kind and custom items that you can’t find at any local stores.
Below is just small sampling of both ready-made and customized products that I have purchased for our home on Etsy.
Peacock Canvas Print (11×14) from Carolyn Cochrane Fine Art Photography
Smoky Green Wood (5.5×12) Laundry Sign from The Sign Factory
Burlap Bench Pillow (80×28) from Take Flyte Farm
(Customized with special font/text color request different from above)
Ikat Pillow Covers from Castaway Cove Decor
(2 Custom sizes in bottom 2 fabric choices)
Fresh Linen Mini Soaps from Ginger Grey Soaps
(I also purchased their Milk & Honey and Gray Skies Mini Soaps)
Go check out Etsy today to see what treasures you may find!
*I am not affiliated with Etsy or any of the listed shops, just a big fan!*