Fall 2021 ORC Week Four Update

Over the past week, my family and I took a little family trip out to Virginia for an extended weekend – we left Thursday and came back on Tuesday. It was a wonderful trip filled with lots of family time and reunions for both of us (fun fact: even though I grew up in Ohio, my college is in the same Virginia city as Justin’s high school!) This was Justin’s 15 year high school reunion and my 10 year college reunion so it was really fun for us to get to catch up with people we haven’t seen in years.

Since that trip took the majority of the past week, I wasn’t able to get much accomplished on the laundry room; however, there are still things to share!

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First up, yesterday I got a little more stenciling done. I specifically focused on the little nook where our “mudroom” space fits because it’s high time for us to get that space functional for our family again! I spent about an hour working on the corner and bottom edges of this section and the only thing left to do now is the trim.

The corner was pretty tricky but I managed to get it done (I’ll share more when I write up a tutorial for this stencil project!) and thankfully the pattern is busy enough that mistakes blend right in.

Can you see into the little bathroom? That’s become a dumping ground for all our jackets and coats and I’m very ready for a more efficient system!

Speaking of more efficient system, I finally ordered a storage bench! I debated building one but I really don’t have the time since I’m planning on building shelves above the washer and dryer. I was able to find this bench which fits our small space perfectly and checks several boxes: storage for shoes, a bench for my kids to sit to put shoes on, and the lid even lifts for bonus storage of hats and gloves. I ordered the natural wood version when we were in Virginia and it was waiting for us when we got back, but unfortunately, the color isn’t really working.

I usually love a natural look but with the muted yellow walls, it just doesn’t feel like the right amount of contrast. I ordered the darker version which is set to arrive tomorrow so fingers crossed it is a better fit for the space.

Another item that is changing from my original plan is the light fixture. I really want to have some fun with the light and originally, I wanted this gorgeous brass fixture. Unfortunately, everywhere I look, I see some version of this:

Additionally, the more I think about it, the more I’m not sure a white and brass combination will be the best fit for the space. The walls are already yellow and white and I’m thinking I want a bit more contrast. Right now, I’m loving this pendant from Rejuvenation and I’m considering it in rosemary or pine or maybe even the copper!

This week may not have been big for progress, but I know things are going to start really picking up speed now that I’m nearly finished with the stenciling. I can’t wait to see it come together!

Be sure to check out other One Room Challenge participants and their projects here. Lots of amazing projects happening right now!

Fall ORC Week 3: Maybe it’s Wallpaper, Maybe it’s a Stencil!

We’re another week in to the One Room Challenge and this week has seen a lot of changes in the laundry room.

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For one, I chose a better shade of yellow paint for the walls (read about the Big Bird yellow mishap here). I still couldn’t get samples, but I used the small door to our little nook under the stairs as a starting point. I knew I liked that muted yellow (Sherwin Williams Mannered Gold), but it was too dark for the laundry room. I got out my Sherwin Williams swatch book, found Mannered Gold, and looked to the top of the swatch page for a similar, yet lighter shade. I was drawn to Blonde and decided to go for it in an eggshell finish. Thankfully, this time it worked out and it’s the perfect soft, muted yellow!

This room is small, so it felt like a good opportunity to add some fun details. I loved the idea of wallpaper, but didn’t want the expense since we’re likely going to completely gut and remodel this room and the adjacent bathroom in a couple years. A stencil was the perfect solution!

The laundry room is sandwiched between the office, which has planking on the walls and ceiling, and a full bathroom which has a two tone block print. Both rooms feel very linear and graphic, so I wanted to soften up the laundry room with a floral stencil. I found this one at Hobby Lobby and it was perfect!

I decided to do the entire stencil in one color, Sherwin Williams Alabaster, because the adjacent bathroom and the majority of our main floor are all painted that color. It brings a nice cohesive feel to the main floor! I’m rolling it on with a foam roller and it’s going so quickly! I’ve only devoted about 3.5 hours to stenciling and I’m over halfway done with the room. Maybe that seems like a long time to you, but it’s nothing compared to the time it took me to stencil one wall of the guest room so I’m a happy camper!

I did mess up though. After the first day of painting, I didn’t wipe off all the paint from the stencils. It caked on and dried, and essentially ruined the stencils. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to clean off the dried paint, but it ended up being pointless because all the work to get off the paint caused tiny pieces to get bent and the stencil was no longer producing the same crisp pattern. I was so disappointed and frustrated with myself! I ended up having to go get more stencils, and you can bet I’ll be cleaning them off frequently!

Once I’m totally done with the room I’ll share a tutorial of the process but for now, I’m just so so happy with the progress. The stencil detail adds so much interest to the room and really does look like wallpaper – I’m thrilled with it!

So much left to d0 – finish the stencil, paint the baseboards, trim, and doors, replace those boob lights, and install shelving. I’ll worry about all that another day though; today I’m just happy to celebrate progress!

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Blonde in eggshell

Stencil Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster in eggshell

Stencil

Happy Hacks for a Mid-Renovation Boost

Right now I’m in the midst of the laundry renovation and my house is, well, not at its finest. Ha! The laundry room itself is pure chaos, but it seems like the rest of the house is following suit. Whenever I’m mid renovation, it takes my time and energy and that gets reflected in other places – beds are unmade, laundry is overflowing, dishes pile up, and cleaning routines go out the window. And I have two small children living here too so add toys, books, and the random things they pull out of cabinets to the mix. I feel my mood start to dip – when the house feels chaotic, I start to become restless, irritable, and impatient. I need a reset!

A few months ago I read (and loved) the book Life’s Too Short by Abby Jiminez. There was a specific part of the book that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I read it – the main character Vanessa talks about the simple things in life that can make you unexpectedly happy, like the happiness boost you get from a new sponge. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that yeah, a new sponge does make me happy! Like, it’s just a $2 sponge so what’s the big deal…but also, it brings a feeling of a fresh new start and somehow makes me feel like I’ve got my life together. It’s weird but true!

I have found that there are several other things that, like the sponge, are simple, inexpensive ways to give me a major happiness boost. When my house feels chaotic, they’re life savers for turning things around and helping bring a sense of calm and control back to the home. My house may not be back to normal, but these things help me at least feel a little more put together. Today I thought I’d share some of my favorite little hacks that give me big happiness boosts. They’re all $10 or less (a few are free!) and they’re all incredibly easy. I’ll be relying on several of these to make it through this renovation!

Light a Seasonal Candle

There is something about lighting a candle that brings a touch of cozy luxury to a moment. It’s such a simple way to boost my mood! I particularly love to burn a seasonal scent – fresh scents in the spring and summer and savory scents in the fall and winter. I’m not exactly sure why, but a burning candle has a way of elevating a space and making it feel put together; even if the rest of my house is messy, if one room is clean with a candle burning, it feels good. Bonus points if I can light a candle and read a book at the same time!

Organize a Messy Drawer with Acrylic Containers

For just a couple dollars a piece, these clear acrylic containers brought instant organization to the inside of the antique library table I’m using as a vanity. It feels chic and makes my Type-A heart very happy. Opening the drawer and seeing everything in its place is so satisfying!

Make the Beds

I don’t always take the time to make my own bed, let alone my kids beds, but whenever I feel like my house is spiraling out of control, this is such an easy way to help things turn around. LJ’s floor might have books strewn about, but if the bed is made, it feels pretty calm. Making the bed feels like I’m starting the day off with a win and gives me a sense of control over my environment which is especially important when I’m mid-renovation somewhere else in the house!

Decant Hand Soap

While I do love a beautifully designed liquid hand soap label, sometimes soap smells great but comes in a container that leaves something to be desired. For about $10, I bought a simple clear glass dispenser that instantly elevated the look by the sink. I love that this dispenser also helps me reduce plastic usage – I can now buy liquid hand soap in a bulk refill bag and just pour it in! It’s a little thing that brings me an unusual amount of happiness every time I see it.

Print Out a Family Photo

I don’t know about you, but I have thousands of photos on my phone. They’re easy to take, but for some reason the extra step of printing them off so often doesn’t happen. I always feel so accomplished when I print out new photos though! They’re quick to upload to a printing service (I like Walgreens for pickup and Mpix for shipping) and cost like, 38 cents. Filling frames with both professional and candid family photos throughout my home is such a simple way to make this house feel more like us. And every single time I walk by these pictures, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I love my people so much!

Purge Something

It seems like whenever I’m mid-renovation somewhere and things feel messy and cluttered, I get the itch to offset the chaos by getting hyper-organized somewhere else. It’s not always something huge like a whole closet purge or room cleanout; sometimes it’s as simple as picking one drawer or cabinet to comb through and eliminate the excess. This free activity comes with a big payoff and I don’t mean financially, although it’s true that sometimes I’m able to sell something I’ve purged. The payoff is the sense of calm that I feel by looking in the drawer or cabinet that I purged and seeing empty space again (or if not empty, at least it’s organized and less cluttered). It’s a calm in the middle of the storm!

Designate Time to Ignore the House and Play!

Don’t get me wrong, I play with my kids throughout the day everyday. And this isn’t an unexpected happiness hack, because I love my kids and spending time with them definitely makes me happy. But I often find myself distracted while playing – maybe I’m trying to clean up some toys while they play with others or maybe I’m physically building a block tower but mentally making to-do lists for getting my house back in order. It helps me to give myself a time limit to just ignore all house things and work and fully give my attention to my kids. Sometimes it’s as small as 10 or 15 minutes but I always feel so much better afterwards. It’s like a brain break for me and a good reminder to just enjoy this fleeting time with my babies and not worry about all the other things.

None of these things are groundbreaking ideas, but I’ve found that that’s the key. If it’s too big, expensive, or time-consuming, it feels like too much effort for my already stretched-thin self and it won’t happen. Small, simple, intentional things aren’t intimidating to implement and keep me going through the craziness of a renovation (or anytime that my house feels a little chaotic). I will be using these little hacks a lot over the next few weeks!

What simple little hacks give you an unexpected boost of happiness?

Fall ORC Week 2: Big Bird is (temporarily) in the house

This past week we took a few steps forward in the laundry room and one unfortunate step back.

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Justin spent time on Saturday morning patching all the dings, nicks, and imperfections on the walls…of which there were a lot.

I sanded all the patched areas down, wiped down the walls, and painted a layer of primer on the walls and trim.

I love the idea of doing a wallpaper in this space, but since it’s likely temporary (we plan to fully gut renovate this room and the adjacent bathroom in a couple years) I decided to stick with paint. I love yellow and while I probably wouldn’t choose it as a long term paint color for a room, I thought it’d be fun to have a cheery yellow laundry room for now.

On Tuesday morning, my kids were in preschool and I really wanted to get some painting done. I live about 20 minutes from the store and I didn’t want to drive in, get samples, drive home, paint the samples, wait for them to dry, select a paint color, drive back to the store, get the paint, drive home, and then start painting. That would’ve taken the entire morning! So instead, I decided to just pick a swatch that closely matched the wallpaper on my mood board and go for it.

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If this taught me anything, it’s that I cannot skip the step of samples! I have painted enough rooms to know this, but I thought I could skip it this time and boy was I wrong. I need to see the color in the space on multiple walls and with varying light to decide on a color. I thought I was getting golden, but what I really got was Big Bird!

I didn’t do the entire room because it was obvious this color was not going to work. It’s hard to adequately describe just how bright and bold this color is. It feels jarring to walk into, particularly when it’s dark outside and you have to use the overhead lights.

One thing that is a big deal to me is cohesion throughout the home. I don’t need my rooms to match perfectly, but I do want the home to feel like it makes sense as a whole and the colors all work together. This room stands out way too much!

I went back to the store with a list of eight paint samples to get and try to fix my mistake. Unfortunately, there is currently a paint shortage for Base A paint (every color I wanted uses this base) and none of the area stores have it in stock. For right now, it seems like I’m stuck with Big Bird.

I do have a few ideas for ways I can determine a paint color that will work better in this space, so I’m going to spend some time this week trying them out. I’ve also left the wall above the washer and dryer alone so far because I was in debate about whether to leave the upper cabinets or not – I’ve decided I want to remove them and do floating shelves all the way across so that’s coming up this week too. Be sure to follow along on Instagram to see all the changes as they happen!

September 2021 Book Reviews

Happy October 1! I’m officially ready to break out fall decor, put on some flannel, and head to a pumpkin patch. The leaves are changing, the air is cooling, and I’m ready for allllll the coziness that fall brings – especially the whole light-a-candle-and-snuggle-with-a-blanket-and-book vibe that I feel this time of year. But before any of that happens, I’ve got to recap September’s reads!

Last month I read four books and there was a kind of unusual theme of vanishing – three of the books dealt with disappearances. Needless to say, it was an intriguing month of reading and I’m excited to discuss these books so let’s get to it!

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Mila accepts an unusual invitation to reconnect with four friends whom she hasn’t seen since they were all present at a snowboarding competition ten years before. They’re back at the same ski resort from the competition and it’s clear once they arrive that something isn’t right. There’s no staff, tons of locked doors, and suddenly, they have no cell phones or way to get down the mountain. They’re trapped at the resort and someone is clearly playing sinister mind games with them, forcing them to address the mysterious vanishing of Saskia, the sixth member of their group during that long ago competition. Mila realizes there is no one she can trust but she knows one thing for sure – she has got to find a way off this mountain alive.

The interesting thing about this book was that even though it was only told through Mila’s perspective, you still got to see a lot of the different character’s motivations and development through her interactions with them then and now. The chapters alternated with present day and flashbacks to the season of the snowboarding competition and it was very obvious that this book was written by a snowboarder. The level of detail given to the snowboarding aspect was top notch and reading about professional snowboarding and the culture of living at a resort for the season while practicing alongside your fiercest competition every day was fascinating to me. I will say, I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable, but I was totally engrossed in figuring out what happened to Saskia and what was happening to the group at the resort. It was chilling, it was thrilling, it was unputdownable. I really enjoyed it!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half: A Novel by [Brit Bennett]

Desiree and Stella are twins growing up in a small black community in 1950’s Louisiana where lightness of skin is prized above darkness. At age sixteen, the twins decide to run away from town and aren’t seen for years – until one day, Desiree returns to the town with the blackest daughter anyone has ever seen. Stella, meanwhile, has vanished into the world of whiteness.

My book club chose this book as our latest read and it was such an excellent choice that lead to some really interesting discussions. The story spans several decades and multiple viewpoints from the 1950’s to the 1990’s as we follow Desiree and Stella and see how their individual choices lead to very different outcomes. We see how the decisions of the mothers deeply affect the lives of their daughters, whose paths will intersect in unexpected ways. It was such a riveting look at how the past can shape a person’s choices and how the same events and experiences can lead two people to be influenced in completely different ways. The review on Amazon called it “an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise” and I honestly cannot think of a better way to describe it. I was very invested in this intricately woven tale of family, race, and community and highly recommend it!

Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Under the Southern Sky by [Kristy Woodson Harvey]

Amelia and Parker grew up as next door neighbors in small town North Carolina. Their lives have taken them in two different directions, but they’re reconnected after Amelia makes a chance discovery that she knows she should tell Parker about. They’re no longer teenagers and have each dealt with their own love and loss, but now they’re reconnected in an unforseen way that just might lead them each back to happiness.

The first two books I read this month were pretty intense and deep and I was ready for a more lighthearted book, so I downloaded this on my kindle and settled in. I’ll admit, I almost quit about 15 times in the first few chapters. When something is on my To Be Read list, it’s either because I was intrigued by someone else’s recommendation or because I’ve read the synopsis and am interested. As I began reading, it was super obvious that I put it on my list from someone’s recommendation because I had no idea what I was getting into – as the plot revealed itself I thought “oh heck no, I am not in the mood to read this book.” This is not a light, fluffy romance like I expected and it covers some really heavy topics like cancer, death, divorce, infertility, and grief. I had to seriously adjust my expectations for the book, but I’m glad I stuck with it as I did become invested in the characters and their lives. It’s not a top recommendation for me, but I think it’s because I was expecting a romantic beach read and this just wasn’t it. It was actually a moving look at exploring second chances in life and love and while there are parts that hurt your heart to read, it ultimately was an uplifting story. I’d say give it a try if you’re in the mood for a deeper, more complex story of loss and love.

The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

The Other Lady Vanishes by [Amanda Quick]

After escaping from a sanitarium, Adelaide decides to try and restart her life over in the exclusive celebrity resort town of Burning Cove, California. It’s there that she meets the handsome and somewhat mysterious Jake, who is in town to rest his nerves after the tragic death of his wife. After attending a performance by a famous fortune-teller who ends up predicting her own terrible demise, Adelaide and Jake realize that Burning Cove might not be the safe little town they thought it was. They’re each carrying secrets about their previous lives, but they realize they need to trust one another as their pasts intertwine and they get drawn into a nefarious underground world of blackmail and betrayal hidden behind Hollywood’s glitz and glamour where a very real killer lurks.

This was a random choice I snagged from a library shelf and I ended up really enjoying it! I found the world of 1930’s gangsters and glamour to be a fun backdrop and I liked the characters involved. I will say, there were aspects of this plot that felt a little far-fetched but I was fine just going with it. It’s fast-paced whodunit with a few good twists and I enjoyed the thrill of discovery along with Jake and Adelaide. I found out afterwards that this book is actually book two of a Burning Cove series, but it definitely works as a standalone. I will probably check out at least one other book from the series since I enjoyed this one. Overall it was a solid read that I read pretty quickly – it’s a good choice if you’re in the mood for a thriller that’s not creepy, gory, or disturbing.

Now bring on the burning candles, chunky knit blankets, and cozy fall reads! As always, if you have a great recommendation, send it my way!