Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Make it Personal

When Urban Compass asked me to write a post about my first place and how I made it my own, I cried. I had NO pictures from my first apartment. Well they are in my head but let's face it, that's a little scary. So I asked them if I could write about how we made our current house personalized and some ideas instead. They have a great platform to help people in NYC find an apartment. And let's face it. I would DIE to live in NYC even if only for a year. 

When I got my first apartment, I was so excited. My own place. Even then I liked to decorate and make a space my own. Too bad I wasn't really great at it back then. Fast forward to my first house and I got to experiment even more...and made a lot of mistakes. Hello peach walls. Oh the horror! It's seared in my memory forever. 

Fast forward another 15 years and 3 houses later, I have learned what I like and what I don't like. I've also realized how important it is to personalize your space - rather it's 100 square feet or 10,000 square feet. OK, the last is a bit unrealistic. Let's go with 3,000. 

Here's how I've made sure that our house, affectionately called Schrallville, is personalized. 


There. I'm done. This blog post is over. 

OK, fine, I'll explain further. Pictures aren't the only way to make a home personalized but it sure is a huge one. I'll give you several examples in our home. First, start with our gallery wall in the hallway...

Here it is from another angle...

We have all types of family pictures from recent to early 1800's. They are such great conversation starters but it's also neat to look back at your family history. Here's a picture of my grandmother on her wedding day (I just think she looks so beautiful!) 

We also have a picture of our family for the past 5 years plus a letter for each of our names which adds visual interest. I saw a gallery wall not long ago that was all different styles of the letter L. Their last name started with an L so they just made a small wall all different types and it looked really cool. 

These frames weren't expensive. In fact, many I antiqued myself using a little bronze spray paint and some gold paint for the edges. I chose a bronze/gold/dark brown for all the frames to keep it cohesive. If I had my choice I would have bought new frames that were more true bronze and gold but I hated to waste the frames I already had on hand. 

I've chose pictures all throughout the house that are sentimental. I've posted about pictures a few years ago in this post. I still stand firm that it's important to find pieces that mean something to you, not just that match the space. 

These are pictures of my great-grandfather and his BBQ Sauce recipe (forgive the horrible picture taking...I desperately  need a new camera!) These were dug out of a stack of pictures and my uncle gave each of us a copy. 

And of course my favorite, the framed magazine pages of my grandmother's house, including my mom and uncles when they were little. 

But it doesn't have to be fancy! In the "man room" we have metal comic book cover replicas and a shadow box of his dad's medals that represent things Daniel loves. The comic books are from Hobby Lobby. 

Are you shocked I let the comic book covers in the house? Anna M. is! But I know he loves them and that's what is important. It's not like I put them in the living room! (Which would never happen by the way. I love him but not that much. Unless you're reading this post, Daniel, in which case this is purely fiction. Not really.

I found some Couture pictures at Hobby Lobby. I put one in the bathroom and one in the bedroom because I love fashion. After buying a cheap frame (that looks fancy) it was maybe $25. 

Side note: I might need to toss that dying plant. Not the most attractive when you look at it in the context of a picture! 

Another important way to make a home personal...FABRIC. Just a few examples...the bird fabric in my bedroom (still to be revealed)

The stripes in Charlie's room - found at TJ Maxx. See!? Doesn't have to be custom if you love it. For some reason I love the colors in these and it is very boy but still very pretty. I could even see them in a living room full of gorgeous neutrals. 

The bird fabric in our dining room - the jumping off point for my entire color scheme in the house. Still in love with this fabric. 

And the pillows and curtains in our living room. A hodgepodge of fabrics I love and found around town. OK, that's not true. If I look at this picture, all of it came from Fabric 101. My home away from home. I sometimes stop by just to dream of how I could use the fabric. 

Here's some food for thought to get you thinking about how to make your space personal: 

  1. Fabric - use it for pillows, curtains, seat covers. You can even frame it!
  2. Pictures/Art - In addition to the above, think outside the box. Like the pictures in a specific book. Frame them. They'd probably look super cool on the wall and you'd see them all the time. 
  3. Color (on the wall or furniture) - choose colors that you love and tailor it to the room. Love hot pink? Use it in an accent pillow so it pops but doesn't dominate. 
  4. Nicknacks - pick things that you like for tabletops. I have bunnies around the house because I love bunnies (and apparently birds, but only in fabric). They make me smile and feel peaceful. I also have an old iron key that sits on a coffee table. Just looks cool and I found it at a yard sale for $5. 
  5. Furniture - like that mod style from the 1970's? Incorporate a few pieces in your home and you'll always love it. I personally love French style chairs, classic antiques with simple lines and a few 1950's inspired pieces (like our couches). Everyone has a style they like, just make sure it fits your space. There's nothing worse than a giant couch in a tiny room. 
Hopefully that helps get your ideas flowing. It takes time to find things with meaning or that you like so don't rush out and try to buy it all at once. After many places, this has to be my absolute favorite house I've lived in. 

How do you personalize your house, room or apartment? Do you have one particular item that has to be incorporated? Or are you at a complete loss and have no idea where to start? 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Work it...work it...work it, girl!

Oh I just totally said that while sashaying around the room shaking what little bit of hip I have...and I may have done it with an attitude. 

Try getting that image out of your head now. You can thank me later. 

While I like prancing around, that's not what this post is about. It's about work. More specifically where I work. My work space. As I have mentioned, I work from home as an Executive Recruiter (and blog on the side). Working from home is both a privilege and a curse, depending on the day. Most days it's a privilege. 

I still miss the social side of being in an office and dressing up (since I love fashion). Right now I'm sitting here in my workout clothes with dried sweat all over. Yep, still not showered from my workout this morning yet here I still sit. So there are those parts that I loved from an office environment but there are greater benefits to working from home. Like I can do laundry or clean the kitchen or vacuum or any other chores we working moms still have to do. Well at least until my cleaning fairy returns from her sabbatical. Plus I tend to be 10x more efficient because there's no one to talk to. I mean I try to talk to myself but it's sort've a one-sided conversation most of the time. 

So let's explore where I work in the home. Until recently it looked like this: 

And now it looks like this: 

What? You don't see any improvement? Well that's probably because it's hidden BY ALL THE CRAP sitting on my desk. I mean who caught the dirty dish on the left side? Or the Polar Pop on the right? OK, the Polar Pop is a staple regular decor. 

As the days were getting shorter, my old light wasn't providing enough light so I switched it out and raised it on some books to cover more surface. I also took some green file/magazine holders and put them on the desk to help store some of my project work and switched around the plant. Just a few quick changes to make me feel better.  

Before this house, I worked out of an armoire. That armoire has been turned in to my craft work center, now housed in the living room. 

But back to the desk. I would love to have a cute desk with pretty things all around like you see in magazines. You know with gorgeous leopard file folders, pretty dishes to hold your odds and ends, fashion books as decoration. People, that's not realistic. I need post-its and pens and paper clips and all kinds of file folders to keep organized not to mention a wireless headset and phone since that's where I spend the majority of my time. Most of that is not attractive. The only thing leopard is my "mom agenda" where I store my life. 

But I do try to add little notes of cuteness to still make it me yet functional...like the little jade elephant I bought at an estate sale...

Or putting my pens in a ceramic holder and these green file holders to conceal my personal projects I'm working on. 

So on a really good day or when I know we're having company, it looks like this: 

OK but not great. It's still a "work" in progress. For one thing I'm hoping for a better mouse pad. It's currently a green tree frog the Hubs bought years and years ago. Not exactly screaming chic but not something I've gotten around to. Maybe Santa will bring me one. 

I think I might consider not buying the hot pink post-it notes next time either. Bad call. It's like having a zit in the middle of your forehead or a giant booger hanging from your nose. People can't look away from it. 

Since I like having a large monitor, I store my laptop on top of the file cabinet to save space. (it's behind the plant and picture, cleverly concealed)

And my printer is wireless and stored on the armoire behind the door. (evidently I need to ask Santa for a nicer camera too. The point and click camera is not doing a very good job!)

My old desk is now Daniel's since he just likes having a place to keep his laptop, bible and other paper things, but he doesn't actually sit and use it often. Most of the time he's just sitting on the couch. 

It's convenient to have the desks in the corner so it's like an office nook where all our files, both personal and work, are stored and we can both work individually. 

But still have this whole area of the room for movie watching or as it's called in our house "the man room". 

Who knows, maybe one day I'll have my own business planning parties and decorating and can add on an office. I can just picture the pretty now. Fur rug, cool furniture, artistic glam galore! 

OK back to reality. If any of you are an entrepreneur or own a small business and want to connect with others or possibly even gain some added perks, check out WeWork. It's a platform that empowers small businesses to succeed by making them more connected with each other.  

So who else works from home? Anyone have tips on making the office nook prettier or more chic? Know where I can get some leopard post-it notes? 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy Fall Y'all!

Happy Fall Y'all! One of my favorite southern sayings for the season. I must admit when August hit it was all I could do not to decorate for fall. I was itching to do something different in the house. But alas, 95 degree weather and high humidity will not only melt your makeup off, it also deters you from decorating too soon. But when it was September. Game on. Plus there's nothing like throwing a baby shower featuring a ton of your husband's clients as guests to motivate a gal. 

So let's talk the simple decorations I did this year, both in and out, in hopes that it might inspire. First the outside. Because we don't have any true landscaping around the front of the house yet (we are waiting for the money tree to grow before we plant anything else), I use my pots to add color. 

I try not to use too many mums because they don't last all season but I did snag a few from Walmart for $4 a piece. Usually you can get good plants at the box stores if you grab them when they first come in. Since they were cheap, I grabbed several in yellow and deep burgandy. 

We (and by we I mean me and the boys) also finally planted the hydrangea in the corner near our office windows (pictured above). We've had it for years and it finally outgrew it's pot. But this is a perfect spot for it! 

The porch got an updated face lift with new plants, a fall sign and some faux pumpkins (in the lantern) plus I moved the wrought iron tea cart to the corner for height. It spruces that empty corner up plus it's a better spot for the cart itself. It used to be randomly under the carport collecting junk. 

My favorite pot is in front of the porch. It's a mixture of a slow growing evergreen, lettuce, kale, snap dragons, violas and some dusty miller. I thought about adding some ivy but this area gets too much sun. As it grows in the colors and textures continue to compliment. It makes me smile.

The front door got a much needed update too. My poor flowers from the summer were toast. Literally they fried. So with some inspiration from a few Pinterest pics, my mom and I created this, which I love. 

And because we had some extra pots and violas, I put a few around the driveway and front light post. I prefer violas to pansies because they don't require dead-heading and last longer. They tend to bloom much better through the winter too. 

Of course none of this could have happened without my little helpers who helped me plant all the flowers. Perhaps that's why it took us all day! A few slugs lost their life but no other bugs or animals were hurt in the making of this garden. Cole *may* have loved the slug to death. Although he still says it was just tired and went to sleep.

So let's move on in to the 'ol hacienda and see what I did in there...I won't share every detail for each room but I'll try to give you some glimpses. For the kitchen, a few glittery wooden pumpkins and some fall leaves spruced up the sink. I also have a few things along the countertop. Most of the countertop items are Halloween so those will come down tomorrow. 

The dining room is a favorite because...well it's just one of my favorite rooms. Ignore the blur on the right side. Clearly it's time for a new camera. 

A few ghosts and some fall foliage over the mirror...

I bought a fabulous tiered decorative thingy at Home Goods. It hurt my feelings at first but the possibilities for this are endless so it had me at hello-buy-me. Seriously. I'm pretty sure it said that in the store. Or maybe that was Anna M. 

Some real pumpkins and gourds, some glittery faux pumpkins, foliage and even a few birds made this a great tablescape. I made the table runner. It's just some burlap ribbon (the extra wide kind) rolled out and cut to the right length. And it was 50% off at Hobby Lobby compared to the $30-40 ones that were actual table runners. 

The living room was simple, a few pumpkins strategically placed to make it feel like fall. Again, most of what I put out will work through Thanksgiving with just a few Halloween highlights. 

The mantle was hard to capture due to the light but it's a simple mix of faux foliage and pumpkins. Certainly one of my favorite ways of dressing up the mantle. I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because it matches my colors so well. 

If you haven't decorated for fall, it's not too late! So many of the stores already have Christmas out and fall items are 50% off. Snag some faux pumpkins and foliage and you have all kinds of options. Tuck some around a few pictures on a table; swap a pumpkin where a small knick-nack might go; change out some pictures for pictures of the kids in leaves. The options are endless. It makes the house feel so cozy as weather starts to get chilly! 

I'll leave you with a picture of the food table from the shower. Why? Because I'm hungry.