3 Questions to Define Your Style

Whether you are renting, buying a home, or just want to make your current abode more appealing for you and your family, it’s important to define your style. Trust me, I have made the mistake of buying furniture and decor without a plan or style in mind, and there are a lot of purchases and decisions that I regret now. Defining your style before you go out shopping will save you a lot of money because you can take the time to bargain hunt for the pieces that you will really love.

Our new house gives me a nearly blank slate to start with, and these are the lessons I’ll apply to minimize wasted money and maximize the style that’s right for us.

What is your favorite room/nook/item?

An excellent example of a space that I love is my daughter’s bedroom. This is the last room that I decorated in our current house, and I will miss it dearly when we move. Every time I walk into this room, even when my daughter is screaming in her crib, I manage to feel good.

aqua gray and lavender nursery

What is it about this room that makes me so happy?
  • I came up with a plan before purchasing or making anything, which enabled me to visualize the space before making any financial commitments.
  • There’s a bit of bling. The chandelier and glass knobs add some subtle sparkle.
  • The wall color (Benjamin Moore’s Maritime Blue) is vibrant yet relaxing, and reminds me of the beautiful water in the Caribbean. It also brightens the room and makes it appear larger.
  • The roman shade fabric and throw pillow on the chair are exotic prints, which hearken back to our world travels.
  • I took a chance and mixed prints, and love the result! Chevron + stripes + paisley all came together beautifully in this room.

What room/nook/item drives you nuts?

Our living room decor drives me crazy.  I decorated it in the opposite way that one should: I started with paint, didn’t test the paint first, and didn’t have a plan or vision for the room.
Here’s our living room several months ago in all it’s chaotic glory (the munchkin is two years old already now and so much bigger than in this photo!).
The changing table is long gone, we have a more colorful box for the toys next to the TV, the bookcase under the mirror was replaced with a console table, and I edited the bookcase. Those changes and clutter aside, I still dislike this room because:
  • I just don’t like the wall color. If you do, that’s cool, but this shade of green (and really, green on walls in general) is just not my thing.
  • So, so much dark brown and cream. Dark brown sectional sofa, accent tables, picture frames… Cream trim, cream chairs, creamy rug. Gah!
  • A hard coffee table, which is not comfortable as a footrest.
Despite the room’s shortcomings, I do love my gold quatrefoil mirror, the built-in bookcases, and all the sunlight from the four large windows. Oh, how I will miss those windows!

What do you love to wear?

When you look in your closet, do you see bold prints? Classic pinstripes? Loads of black and white? Is your dresser drawer filled with blue t-shirts? Is your jewelry box filled with simple and refined pieces or do you love big baubles?

leopard pink and gold summer outfit

I love incorporating bold colors into my classic wardrobe, and accessorizing with gold and animal prints.

How these questions define my style

Our design style is largely traditional with a global twist: lots of white trim, decorative molding, and classic materials that will stand the test of time, infused with unique shapes (quatrefoil, Moroccan lantern) that reflect our world travels. We want to achieve a high-end look on a mid-range budget. Oh, and it has to be kid-friendly.

Plan, plan, plan!

Never again will I buy major pieces for a room without first coming up with a plan. I like to use PowerPoint to create a room plan, but Polyvore, Pinterest, Evernote, and an old fashioned file folder of magazine clippings will do. I’ve created a new PowerPoint slide deck just for our new house so that I can see how all the rooms will flow together, and start collecting fabric swatches and paint samples. I did buy a rug already though….and a ceiling fixture…but I have a plan for them that I will share soon!

What’s your favorite spot in your house, and why is it so wonderful? How did you determine your style, or are you still working on it?

A New Journey: Our New House!

It’s been quiet on the blog for several months now. Life got very busy, and craft and decor projects halted as we started what turned out to be a very emotional six-month search for a new house. We’re scheduled to close in less than three weeks, so it’s time to spill the beans and start sharing my ideas for making this house our home!

Why in the world did it take six months to find a house?

  1. We are picky. This will be our forever home and it had to meet a long list of criteria.
  2. We want a prime location. Our target town is highly desirable for its excellent school system, reasonable tax rate (relative to nearby towns), proximity to Boston, and numerous train stops for commuters. This means that prices are incredibly high and loads of people want to live there.
  3. There’s lack of inventory and steep competition. Even at the height of the spring real estate market there were very few homes listed for less than $1M. Yes, that’s right. Finding a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house with a two-car garage and air conditioning for less than $1,000,000 was ridiculously hard.
  4. We had six offers declined. Even the house we ultimately got! Some of our offers were tens of thousands of dollars over asking and we didn’t even come close to winning. One house we looked at, but decided not to make an offer on, sold for $200,000 over asking. Insane.

garrison colonial exterior with red shutters
So this is our new, very humble abode. It could easily be an episode of “Property Brothers”. I can see the preview now…

Young family searching for their forever home can’t afford their dream house in their ideal neighborhood. After many months of searching and six failed offers, the family settles for a fixer-upper in a fantastic location. With champagne taste and a beer budget, can they complete their renovations on time without breaking the bank?

Where, oh where, are Drew and Jonathan Scott when I need them?

new house backyard_journeychic
When I first saw the listing, I immediately thought “This is the house!” based on the one lonely available picture. After all, it’s a little over 2,000 square feet, has 4 bedrooms all on the second floor, 2.5 bathrooms, a two-car garage, central air conditioning, a partially finished basement and even a screened-in porch. More importantly, it’s in a nice residential neighborhood in our target town, and walking distance to the train to Boston (very important for my husband’s commute), the elementary school, a nice playground, a dry cleaner and Dunkin’ Donuts. All of the essentials.

Yet when we went to the open house, we were incredibly unimpressed. The house was built in the mid 1960′s and the same family has owned it for the past 40 years. While they’ve maintained it quite well, nothing has been updated since an addition was put on in the mid 1990′s. As we walked around the small rooms with their low ceilings and lack of lighting, the choppy layout, and sloping backyard we could not imagine our little family living there. Coming from a home built in 2004 with huge windows, high ceilings, and a granite-filled kitchen, we felt like this little colonial was not a good fit.

Throughout the following week the house kept popping into my mind. There had to be a way to work for us. It was perfect on paper, but how could we make it perfect for us? I talked my husband into dragging the kids to another open house. We brought an architect with us, and the next day he and our agent went back with a builder. We made a low-ball offer and ended up in a bidding war with another couple. We lost.

I was devastated. Mentally decorating and getting attached to six houses, only to lose out in bidding war after bidding war, took a huge toll on me. It was all I could do to keep from losing it in front of the kids when I got the call that our offer hadn’t won.

Then a few days later, our agent called with interesting news: the other party had backed out, and if we wanted the house we could have it! So we jumped on it, and now we find ourselves leaving city life in Boston for a much quieter, family-friendly suburb and a house that needs work in every single room.

I hope you’ll join me as I chronicle our renovation and share my design ideas and projects along the way!

 

 

Unicorns for the Young at Heart

Raise your hand if you were ever a Sweet Valley Twins fan. I’ll pretend to see a few of you. Raise your hand if you started your very own Unicorn Club in fifth grade with your closest friends. Oh, that was just me? Well, no matter. If you are female, odds are at some point in your life you were obsessed with unicorns. I’ve been in a creative funk lately and for some bizarre reason an image of a unicorn popped into my head and I decided to run with it for a post.

You may only associate unicorns with weird fantasy art or little girls’ toys, but today I’m sharing some grown-up and stylish versions of the mythical beast that you’ll want to snatch up for yourself or a chic little lady in your life.

stylish unicorn accessories

Top Row: gold unicorn head, print blouse, necklace, ring
Middle Row: ring holder, pillow, cardboard unicorn head
Bottom Row: salt & pepper shakers, watercolor print, wall hook

Lest you think that unicorns are imaginary creatures, check out this beautiful room in France’s Chateau de la Goujeonnerie adorned with unicorn taxidermy. Too bad for the hunter, though – he’ll now live a miserable half-life for killing them.

unicorn heads in French castle

Image: World of Interiors via Apartment Therapy

Points to those who appreciate the Lord Voldemort reference. Now you know how dorky I really am. Unless you know me IRL and in that case, this is no surprise. :)