...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Okay, so yesterday I took inventory of the things I love and detest most about our home.  (And for time’s sake, I’m just talking interior…the exterior is a whole ‘nother ball game.)  Following Real Simple‘s “What’s Your Decorating Style?” article featured in the March 2010 issue, I was on to Step Two.  This step required me to compile a plethora of small objects, momentos, jewelry and even clothing that makes me feel joyful and inspired.  I browsed around the house picking out my favorite home accessories then made my way into my bedroom to grab some lovable clothes and jewelry.  Here’s the Little Lovies Stash I ended up with:

I found it beneficial to take a picture of my stash.  For some reason, seeing my items in a photograph was like seeing them for the first time.  My pile of favorites included the following:

(a starfish from Everett’s nursery, a white ceramic box given to me by my Grandma, a Burrow’s Tail planted in a white IKEA pot, 2 textural stick spheres, a white porcelain artichoke gifted by Handy Hubby, a light green IKEA vase and a woven table runner beneath all of that)

(a false book – the kind that you open to find hidden storage inside – in a geometric black-and-white patterned fabric and a playful wooden airplane from Goodwill that reminds me of my boys)

(a pair of crystal earrings from my Grandma that resemble mini disco balls and reflect light like no other)

(a pair of dark skinny jeans, a white rouched cotton v-neck shirt, a bold turquoise bracelet and a green beaded necklace make up my feel-good outfit)


(my read of the moment, Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern, which contains fun photos of nature-inspired punchy fabrics) 

(framed black-and-white pics of my boys)

(yet another succulent potted in light pink)

That concludes my Little Lovies stash.  Without deciphering the items too much (that comes later in the week), it seems I’m drawn to little things that I have emotional connections with versus items with hefty price tags.  Hey, that could be a good thing!  What itty bitties or clothes make you smile?  Try grouping them together and taking a picture for a different viewpoint.  Stay tuned for Step Three where I take a mini-vacay and attend the Oscars!  A girl can dream…

I finally got around to reading the March 2010 issue of Real Simple this past week.  (My subscription was a Christmas gift from Handy Hubby’s folks…thank you!) 

Of particular interest to me was an article entitled “What’s Your Decorating Style?”  I’m all for not ‘labeling’ yourself as akin to one specific design style, yet I find myself a little overwhelmed by all the home decor options available nowadays.  It helps (me, at least) to have some sort of guideline when searching for a piece of furniture or home accessory.  I took Real Simple up on their little design soul-search and decided to share my results with you this week.  I’m hoping it will help me define a loose design style and also maybe assist you in pinning down your decor preferences.  Feel free to grab a pad of paper, a pen and your camera to follow along!  And your style might be waaay different than mine – that’s great!  Remember, that you’re just trying to find out what you like…there’s no right or wrong.

The first page is a collage of images on which you are to circle the ones you’re drawn to.  No thinking allowed.  It’s meant to help you visualize a general sense of your design taste.  (You can quiz yourself here with similar images.) 

Each item is labeled with either an A, B, C or D.  (I detest these quizzes because I already know that the letter I circle the most of is ‘the winner.’)  It’s difficult to tell from the photo, but I circled 6 images:  a mid-century modern chair (B), a potted orchid (A), a leather riding boot (C), a silver metal bracelet (B), a vase of pink roses (D) and a starburst clock (B).  The B’s have it with a little bit of everything else thrown in.  So, what do mostly B’s mean? 

You’re into color, contrast and clean lines.  You’ll probably like the style Modern Graphic.  Modern Graphic is a fresh, fun contemporary look that combines urban styling (imagine a downtown loft) with edgy, colorful elements and midcentury designs.  Simple furniture forms balance out bold accents and patterns.

Well, I can go with the clean lines, downtown loft and midcentury designs but I’m not really into bold accents or colorful designs.  While the jist of my style may be modern, I prefer more serene colors.  Good to know.  I’ll keep that in mind…

On to the actual Step One, where I’m asked to tour my home and make 2 blatantly honest lists:  “Love It” and “Wish I Could Replace It.”  Easy.  I could do that in my sleep.  I ran around my house snapping pics of my faves and my not-so-faves.  Take a look.


(a chair I found on the side of the road and brought back to life with some wood stain and new upholstery)

(my DIY pedestal table…pedestal base and chairs from Craigslist, tabletop from Lowe’s)

(a Home Decorator’s Outlet find that I painted green inside)

(my West Elm dining chandelier that I splurged on when it went on sale last year)

(my IKEA craft/sewing desk)

(our tall 9-foot ceilings which lend an open feel)

(our functional IKEA console for storing toys in the family room)

(our rustic family room side table from Ballard Designs outlet for a steal!)

(our light and airy sunroom)


(our busy builder laminate countertops)

(this horribly ugly intersection of wood, vinyl and carpet floorings, UGH!)

(our orangey oak stair railing and carpeted steps)

(our electric stovetop…we’d prefer gas)

(the boys’ orangey oak bathroom vanity)

(our first-floor carpet…have I mentioned I don’t like our floors?!)

(our master bath light fixture)

(our master bath orangey oak vanity – have I mentioned I don’t like orange oak?!)

(our master bed frame…a little too delicate and feminine)

(our master bedroom dresser…it was left by the previous owners of our first home…we painted it white)

So, there are my Step One lists.  Don’t know about you, but that was pretty cathartic for me!  Wow, I really don’t like our floors, oak vanities or master bedroom furniture.  Oh, if only I had the time and money to change up those “Wish I Could Replace”-ems.  What about you?  What items in your home popped up on your list of favorites?  What would you change if money wasn’t an issue?  Sometimes knowing what you absolutely don’t like is just as helpful as those things you ogle over.  Stay tuned for Step Two where I’ll (you’ll) conquer the little things.

We’ve been working hard on the family photo wall that I mentioned here.  Well, guess what?  It’s finally done (“all done” as Everett would say) and I’m super, super, SUPER excited to share it!  Really.  This is what we had to start with… 

A nice blank canvas but pretty tall and narrow.  Not to mention it’s home to our thermostat, dining area light switch and a random outlet (seriously, why would we need an outlet here?).  After pouring over image after image of family gallery walls online, I knew I wanted to fill the wall up with white frames.  Kind of like Brangelina…”if we’re gonna do it, we might as well do it big.”  While Handy Hubby was out of town on biz, the boys and I took a little trip to IKEA.  I had the measurements of the wall written down and my nifty tape measure.  I wanted the overall outline of the gallery to be similar in shape to the rectangular wall but not so orderly that it looked contrived.  So, right there in IKEA I mapped out the dimensions of our wall and played around with frames to get an idea of which ones would work.  I’m pretty sure I got a lot of “OMG, she’s crazy!” looks, but I get that a lot and I’m used to it.

This was my loose, general layout just to figure out which frames to purchase.  Once I got home and had more precise details, I changed it up to the layout below to compensate for the thermostat, switch plate and electrical outlet.

Then came the hard part…choosing what to put in each frame.  I started a ‘family wall’ folder on the computer to help narrow down the possibilities.  I just kept deducting and deducting for days until I had a small selection to choose from.  (Much like the judges’ process of elimination on American Idol during Hollywood Week.)  I didn’t want only photos though.  I wanted to use Handy Hubby’s Valentine’s Day gift and somehow include our boys’ baby footprints. 

I put together 2 mini display cases for the baby prints.  I started with these footprints made from DIY kits available at craft stores… (we made the prints a while back when our boys were babies but haven’t ever displayed them)

I cut pieces of linen fabric to fit the smallest IKEA frames then hot-glued the prints to the linen.

I didn’t iron the linen because I wanted it to look a little worn and old.  Then I framed ’em up and cut away the excess fabric from the backs.

Voila!  Two baby footprint shadow boxes that mean the world to me.

I designated 4 frames to Handy Hubby’s Vday gift and the baby footprints then ordered the remaining frames’ photos via ePingo.  It wasn’t exactly cheap but after sorting through all of our digital pictures, I was happy to finally display some precious moments…well worth the money to me.  **When ordering photo prints make sure you choose photos that are oriented (horizontally/vertically) the way the frame will be hung on the wall AND in the correct size needed.  This can be a very tedious task but necessary.**  Once our prints arrived, I cleaned each frame and inserted the corresponding photo.  Then Handy Hubby got to work hanging each frame on the wall.  He taped off a template for a uniform border and then hung the frames within the template using a pencil, level, tape measure, drill driver, drywall anchors/screws and lots of patience. 

3 of the IKEA frames (the individual 5×7’s) I bought didn’t include hanging hardware.  Boo.  A minor setback.  I found a box of picture hanging hardware at Hobby Lobby and Handy Hubby made it work, Project Runway style.  Man, I love that guy.


After all the frames were hung, we were left with this empty space around the thermostat. 

It wasn’t a surprise.  I had a little idea for personalization.  A(nother) trip to Hobby Lobby and I found what I was looking for.

A few wooden characters and some blue tacky goo filled the spot nicely.

It says it all.  Handy Hubby was relieved and said, “So, I guess that means we’re done having kids.”  I warned him that it would be very easy to change up the “Me, U & 2” to “U, Me & 3.”  “Oh,” was his reply.  (It’s okay, Handy Hubby, I’m not ready for that.)

If you’ve made it this far into the post, you deserve a look at the finished product.

From the family room…

Some close-ups…

I am sooooo pleased with the way our family wall turned out.  It’s organized but not a sterile all-the-same-size frame layout.  It took way more planning than I thought but now that it’s finished I can’t help but stop and browse over the pics every time I pass by.  Our boys even like looking at them and since the bottom frames are low on the wall, our 2-year-old can take part in the picture gushing.  I was torn between color prints or all black-and-whites but I’m in love with the B&W.  By far, the emotions and memories that this wall conjures up is what makes it special.  And I’m so giddy to have our most meaningful family moments captured in a place for us and visitors to see.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Handy Hubby for all that you did!  Another project I couldn’t have done without you.  Literally.  No family = no family wall.

Life is good.