Looking Back at my 2022 Projects & Goals

We only have two more weeks in 2022 (!!) and next week I’ll be taking a break from the blog as I soak up lots of family time so today felt like a great time to check in on the goals I set at the beginning of 2022. I started the year with several house projects on my to-do list, as well as a few personal and family goals. Overall, I’m counting this year as a big success!

Goals for Our Home

While this year didn’t have any major renovations like previous years, I did make quite a bit of progress in some rooms in our house.

Update the Flooring

I’m giving myself partial credit for this goal. Justin and I decided to prioritize some different financial goals this year, which put the major flooring plans on hold for now. We have hopes to update the basement carpet in 2023 and address the entire main floor level in 2024, but we did proceed with updating the carpet in the nursery and LJ & Vi’s shared bedroom. It made a huge difference in both spaces! I’m excited to continue to update flooring throughout our house over the next few years.

Main Floor Powder Room

This project just never felt like a priority for me, and I don’t have specific inspiration for the room yet, so it got bumped from my 2022 to-do list. Maybe I’ll get inspired to tackle it in 2023? It also might just be on hold until the main floor level gets updated flooring – we’ll see!

Finish the Guest Room Stencil

I made some progress on this goal this year, but did not complete it. Part of the reason I stopped is because I’m still not sure if I want to continue the stencil all the way around the room or stay with just the two walls shown. Either way, I need to just commit some time to finishing up in 2023. We did upgrade the bed + mattress from a full to a queen with all new bedding and every guest who has stayed with us since has commented on how cozy and comfortable it is is so I’m counting that as a big win.

Update the Kids’ Bedrooms

This goal is approximately 95% complete! LJ and Vi moved into a shared bedroom this year and it got quite the glow up: matching twin beds, curtains, sconces, carpet, and updated storage, bedding, and artwork. The only thing left on my list to address is the wall behind the dresser – it was originally going to be wallpapered, but that project lost steam after a mishap with the order. I have a new idea for this wall now and I’m feeling very inspired so look for that to be one of the first things I tackle in 2023!

As for the nursery, I had so much fun preparing the room for a baby boy (it was the first time we ever found out the sex in advance!) and I love how it turned out. I painted the walls, hung curtains, collected artwork, hung bookshelves, updated the dresser, thrifted an amazing windowpane chair, and then recently tweaked a few things with some vintage brass items and a woven hamper. It feels finished . . . for now. šŸ™‚

Have the Foyer Painted

I made zero progress on this goal, but rest assured it is a top priority for 2023! Our foyer has been halfway painted since March 2021 and I’m determined to get it finished before the two year mark.

Update the Living Room

It’s slow, but progress is happening in this room! I have painted the walls and ceiling and we installed a new chandelier. We’ve also spoken to an electrician about hardwiring some sconces above the couch and in the new year I’ll be painting the windows and replacing trim. I haven’t felt a strong sense of urgency to finish since we currently have our Christmas tree set up in here, but once that’s down in the new year I know I’ll be itching to finish up this room.

Patio Updates

We did not end up making any changes to our main patio this year but we did DIY an umbrella stand with storage for the little deck down by the pond and we have used that SO much! It’s so nice to have some shade since we spend hours out there each day in the summer; I’m definitely still giving myself partial credit for this goal.

Bonus Projects I didn’t Plan On

There were a few things I accomplished this year that I didn’t have on my original list, but are still worth celebrating. First up, I helped my sister with several projects in her home this year:

We laid down peel & stick tile in her kitchen and it pulled the changes we made last year (painting the cabinets and walls, removing some top cabinetry and installing open shelving, painting the backsplash) together to make the space feel fresh.

In April I thrifted a $20 dresser and upgraded it for her nursery. Justin and I also DIYed a frame for a frameless mirror to complement it. Now that my sweet nephew is here, this gets a ton of use!

Most recently I helped her with transforming her guest bathroom in a single weekend. Using mostly paint and a few simple DIYs, we made this room feel like a completely new space that reflects her personality so well.

I completed a few small projects throughout the year too but my favorite one is the dollhouse I bought and re-vamped for my kids’ Christmas present. I cannot wait to give it to them this weekend!

Personal Goals

Exercise at least 3x per week

Unfortunately, in my very full life right now, exercise is something that can too easily get pushed to the back burner. I am feeling really good after my third c-section and want to get back into regular exercise asap!

Buy thoughtfully and intentionally

I can honestly say that this goal has now become an ingrained part of my lifestyle. Whenever I need something, whether it be a gift, an item for my home, clothing for myself or my kids, or any other product, I first think: is there a sustainable or fair trade option? Can I buy it from a local business? Can I buy it secondhand and give new life to something? A few examples of things I’ve done this year are: switching to reusable fabric cotton rounds instead single-use ones, wrapping my presents in fabric, thrifting or renting nearly all my children’s clothing, shopping small, local businesses for gifts, and finding a gorgeous, fair-trade woven laundry basket and some vintage pieces for the nursery. Sometimes I can’t find something and I don’t drive myself crazy trying to be perfect. I have my fair share of big-box-store-bought items for sure, but it truly feels great anytime I can be a little more thoughtful with a purchase.

Prioritize Sleep

I’m not sure what I was thinking including this as a goal in the same year I have a newborn, ha! Ollie surprised us though and it our best sleeper by far so my sleep tank isn’t as depleted as I expected. I don’t always go to bed as early as I hope, but it has helped tremendously to be conscious of timing falling asleep with my REM cycle so I don’t wake up super groggy. I’ve also started using an actual alarm clock instead of my phone to check the time if I wake up in the middle of the night so that helps to not stimulate my brain and disrupt sleep too much. These little habits have definitely helped me sleep better!

Update the Blog Menu

This goal is finished! I updated the entire blog menu earlier in the year AND I’m giving myself an extra gold star because I’ve actually been able to maintain it and keep things updated as new posts get added. It’s now more organized and streamlined and (hopefully) easier for readers to navigate.

Family Goals

Take our first family vacation!

I’m giving us extra stars for this because we did a few trips this year! We went on our first family-of-four vacation to Disney World in February and had an incredible time.

In June, we went to the beach with Justin’s family AND took a trip with one of Justin’s high school buddies and his family to Maryland. We swam in the ocean played in the sand and went for hikes and took boat rides and just enjoyed adventuring as a family – it can be exhausting to travel with kids but it is also so much fun and I’m looking forward to more of it in our future!

Dates with Our Kids

Justin and I are really good about this . . . kind of. Ha! It has kind of naturally fallen into him doing lots of dates with LJ and me doing lots with Vi, which is great! But I also want us to switch and me take LJ and he take Vi for more one-on-one time in those combinations.

Now that we have Ollie I’m also very proud of my “me + 3” dates where I take all three kids to do something. Our favorite place to go is the zoo but we also hit up lots of playgrounds and parks for picnics and little adventures. So fun!

Be Intentional with Making Life Feel Special

I’m a work in progress here, but it has been really fun to try to incorporate fun little things into our life this year. Holidays are so magical for our kids in this stage of life and I’ve enjoyed adding everything from simple Lucky Charms cereal at St Patrick’s Day to an incredibly fun and memorable advent activity calendar this month. It’s also been fun to try to add some special things into everyday life – I’ll take a blanket and picnic supplies to our playground trips and we started a family campfire tradition every week this fall. It’s been a really special year!

I’m ending this year on a grateful note – 2022 is the year we did many things, but the best thing that happened was welcoming Ollie into our family. It was a wonderful year and I’m looking forward to all that 2023 will bring!

A Few Small Nursery Updates

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making a few small changes in the nursery. None of them have really warranted a full blog post on their own, but now that they’re all in place it felt like a good time for a little collective update!

First up, after three years in this house we finally have a laundry hamper in the nursery. Can you believe we never had one the entire time Vi used this room? Whenever we had dirty clothes I would just carry them into the kids’ room and toss them in that hamper. I found this lidded woven basket and it was love at first sight – the leather handle is a great detail, it’s well made and very high quality, and it’s fair trade! I also love how the woven texture brings an organic, natural feel to the room. It feels like the perfect fit. Since we have a diaper pail on the other side of the dresser, the hamper is currently sandwiched between the dresser and the door but once we’re out of the diaper stage, it will go on the other side of the dresser.

I also found this little brass elephant at a local vintage sale. I thought it was so sweet and a perfect little detail to add to the nursery!

Speaking of brass, when I first put the nursery together, I bought two vintage brass planters. I loved the look but felt like they were too small for the wall, so over the past few months I’ve been searching Etsy and purchasing more as I find them. I now have five and the wall feels much more proportioned! I love the collected look of various shapes and sizes.

This room doesn’t get great natural light (I had to turn the lights on to take pictures of the planters), but my first attempt with a real plant lived! Now that I have more planters, I decided to try adding another real plant. Can you guess which two plants are real?

I know the nursery will continue to evolve as Ollie grows and his needs change, but for now it feels like it’s at a good place! Although . . . is a room really ever done being tweaked? I think not šŸ™‚

A {semi} DIY Dollhouse for Christmas

This weekend I checked a big item off my Christmas to-do list: a semi-DIY dollhouse for LJ and Vi to share!

Last year for Christmas, Justin and I built a play kitchen for our kids. For Vi’s second birthday, I built her a wooden clothing rack to store her dress-up clothes (still proud of myself for doing that on my own!) For a while now, I have wanted the next big toy/gift to be a dollhouse and I thought it would be another thing we would make from scratch. Alas, when I started talking about my plans to Justin, he literally begged me not to tackle an entire dollhouse.

Justin is normally pretty supportive of my wild ideas (I mean, the guy did climb up on a 12-foot scaffold to help paint our living room ceiling) but he reeled me back in on this one by having me talk through all the logistics. His point was that our time is so limited these days with three kids, plus all the other Christmas activities we wanted to do as a family, attempting a dollhouse would make for a stressful, time-crunched project that would likely be way more involved than I initially thought (as most of my projects tend to be haha). It made me realize that yes, I could make a dollhouse from scratch, but would that outweigh the time and effort that it took from me in this particular season of our life? The answer is no, it wouldn’t be worth it. I decided to pivot and find a ready-made dollhouse.

I searched for gender-neutral options and found this dollhouse from Hape. It was the perfect solution – I loved the clean, minimal design and felt like it would be a great launching pad for lots of open-ended play for my kids. I also liked that I could immediately envision some ways to put my own little spin it. Truthfully, the house would have been just fine in its original, multicolored state, but the thought of still getting a little DIY in and making it my own felt like the best of both worlds! I ordered it a few weeks ago and then over this past weekend, I unboxed it and got to work.

I dug through my paint cabinet and pulled out various cans of extra paint I’ve used over the years. I taped out all the walls on the back and gave them one coat of primer and two coats paint. The trim is wood but the walls are a very glossy particleboard – think of an Ikea cabinet – and I wasn’t sure how well they would hold paint, but it ended up working great! I kept things simple on the back of the house and painted everything SW Urbane Bronze (the color from our living room ceiling).

On the front side, I taped out the three walls with windows in them and painted them three of my favorite colors from our house: SW Blonde (from our laundry room), SW Foggy Day (from our bedroom), and Farrow & Ball Treron (from my office). For the two walls with no windows, I decided to try to apply some extra peel-and-stick wallpaper I had on hand; one was leftover from our playroom, the other was a sample I never ended up using in our house. I applied the wallpaper the same way I would to a real wall – sprayed it down, folded it in half until the paste was activated, then unfolded and pressed it into place using a damp cloth. It worked like a charm!

Once the walls were done, I turned my attention to the smaller details. I painted the balcony railing and light fixture SW Tricorn Black, the front door Urbane Bronze with a Tricorn Black knob, and the little wall by the door SW Agreeable Gray (from our main floor trim). I also painted over the baby blue and white checkered floor to create an Urbane Bronze and Shoji White (from Ollie’s nursery ceiling) diamond pattern.

It’s not as vibrant as it was before, but with patterned floors and wallpapered walls, there is still a fun, whimsical combination of color going on.

I actually really loved the original roof for the dollhouse. It had solar panels and was reversible for the seasons – so charming! Once everything else was done though, the lime green just stood out like a sore thumb and made the whole house seem off. It pained me a little, but I painted the roof with the black spray paint I always have on hand. It was the right decision and the whole house feels cohesive now.

When I finally put everything together – I squealed. It looked even better than I imagined and seeing all the parts transform slowly paled in comparison to seeing the entire thing finally assembled.

I guess it makes sense, since I basically made a mini version of my own house, but I am so thrilled with how this turned out. It only took one weekend and some supplies I already had on hand, so it was definitely cheaper and less time-consuming than a completely-from-scratch version. I know my kids are going to love playing with it!

Using Fabric Scraps to Wrap Presents

With three weeks to go until Christmas, I’m about 90% done with my shopping and ready for the next phase: wrapping. I love a beautifully wrapped present and truly enjoy wrapping gifts for friends and loved ones. The biggest downfall for me is it always feels pretty wasteful to see the beautiful paper get ripped up and thrown in the trash. This year I decided to try something new – it’s inexpensive, sustainable, and pretty which is a win win win in my book!

A few months ago, I was wandered down the fabric aisle of my local thrift store. A large piece of fabric caught my eye – a plaid pattern with greens, reds, and golds that felt so festive without being obvious. I immediately was inspired and thought what if I used this for wrapping presents? Sure it’s not actually wrapping paper, but it could work, right? I bought the fabric for a couple bucks and started to look through the fabric sections every time I went thrifting, picking up a 1/2 yard here, a yard there, etc. Fabric scraps can be found in all sizes for just a dollar or two and soon I had a little collection of fabric for wrapping.

None of the patterns are actually Christmas-y. There’s no reindeer or Santa or holly or candy canes or anything like that, but I chose a variety of textures and patterns that together have an overall festive feel. I also got out my collection of ribbons – a couple rolls were new but I’ve also saved bits of twine and ribbons from gifts I’ve received over the years and thrifted some rolls as well (I thrifted that red and green plaid ribbon over 10 years ago!)

When it came to wrapping, it was basically the same process as with paper. I measured how much I needed for each present and cut the fabric to size.

I tested a few tapes and found that duct tape actually worked the best for fabric. I taped the initial edges directly to the box like I would with traditional wrapping paper and Scotch tape.

To hide the tape, I rolled it to tuck behind the final fold on each side.

I tied each package up with a ribbon, making sure to have the ribbon hold down the sides where I folded the fabric to keep everything securely wrapped.

That’s it! It’s super easy and basically the same process as with traditional paper. I love how all of the presents turned out! The collection of gifts looks unique and fun and I can’t wait to give them out this Christmas. It also makes me so happy to know this is very low waste – all of this wrapping material will be saved and used again for years to come.

Christmas Home Tour 2022

I’ve enjoyed taking a slow and steady approach to decorating for Christmas this year and have added bits and pieces to our home over the last week and a half. As of last night, I think I’m pretty much done (at least with all the major decorations), so today I thought I’d give you a little tour of our home decked out for Christmas!

I want my kids’ memories of Christmas in our home to feel magical so I definitely upped my game this year and concentrated on a few areas where I felt we’d get the most bang for our buck. I didn’t add things to every room. I didn’t add a single Christmas item in our basement. I specifically focused on the areas our family, particularly the kids, use the most. One of the biggest things I did was add ribbons and ornaments to existing decor – it was such a fun way to make things feel extra special without actually swapping out everything and since it’s higher than they can reach, it’s very kid-friendly.

This year my kids wanted to contribute a lot, especially with decorating the tree and dining room – it’s not perfect, but this house is our home and it feels festive and magical to us, which is the entire point. šŸ™‚ I didn’t take a picture of every single Christmas item in my house, but this will give you a very good glimpse at our home this season. Enjoy!

Kids’ Bedroom

I really wanted LJ and Vi’s shared bedroom to have some Christmas magic and one of the top things I wanted was a small tree with twinkle lights. I was pretty particular about size/looks (and I wanted to try to find one secondhand rather than buy new) so I started my search early and scoured thrift stores for a couple weeks. I eventually scored this cute little tabletop tree at a local vintage shop and is so perfect! I had fun thrifting cute kid-friendly ornaments and also bought a few new ones at a local small business.

LJ and Vi came with me to a local vintage sale and one of them spotted this little set of bottlebrush trees. They both insisted we get them and honestly, it was not hard to convince me! I think they look so cute on the dresser and the kids really love them.

We also have several Christmas-themed books that I always pull out in December and this year I’m keeping them all in the kids’ room for bedtime stories.

Main Floor

This year’s tree is very bottom-heavy with ornaments, but the kids had a blast hanging up as much as they could! Our big tree is always filled with sentimental ornaments and I love it.

I’ve never had a real tree or real garland before but I spotted some fresh cut cedar garland for sale at Costco and decided to give it a try. We made a dried orange garland as a family (well kind of – the kids did help for a few minutes ha!) and I hung it up around the cased opening between the living room and playroom. I LOVE it! Safe to say this will not be the last time I do this.

Normally I display the Christmas cards we receive but this year I’m keeping it simple with a vintage basket on our kitchen counter to collect cards and flip through them at our leisure.

On the first night of December we spent time as a family making paper snowflakes. It was so fun! I thought we’d hang them up on the windows but LJ was adamant that they should hang down from the ceiling and eventually he won me over. I’ll admit, there is something magical about the overall effect in person! I also love how perfectly imperfect the snowflakes are. The kids were so proud of their work and every snowflake, regardless of how it turned out, got hung up. It might not look picture-perfect but it makes us all feel warm and fuzzy so it’s just right for us.

I put together an advent activity calendar for our family thanks to some free printables I found and it’s hanging in our office. It’s been so fun to do!

And of course, Macie enjoys snuggling up with our Christmas-y blankets and pillows.

Now I’m off to sneak upstairs and try to start wrapping presents without getting caught!

Bringing Vintage Brass Back to Life in Three Easy Steps

I recently went to a local vintage sale and scored two different sets of three bells as well as a larger, wall-mounted dinner bell. Typically with vintage pieces, I like to keep the patina (the green or brown tarnished look that happens over time), as I think it adds character and charm. For some of the bells, however, the thing I loved most was the intricate etching and I felt like the high level of patina actually hid a lot of the beautiful detail. Much as I loved the warmth of age, I made the decision to polish them so they could (literally and figuratively) shine again.

I first learned about Brasso last year when I installed raw brass sconces in our primary bedroom. It’s a polish that can clean stainless steel, chrome, aluminum, pewter, bronze, copper, and of course, brass. A quick side note: I have been slowly switching my cleaning products over to nontoxic options when possible, and there are ways to clean brass more naturally (this article has a variety of ideas). That being said, in the past, I have attempted to clean thrifted metal items like brass and copper with things like lemon or ketchup – with mixed results. Since my bedroom sconces were new, raw, and not exactly inexpensive, I chose to forgo a homemade paste and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to use Brasso instead. I was pleased with the result and am personally fine keeping it in my cleaning product stash, particularly given its infrequent use, so that’s what I chose to stick with here.

The process of polishing is actually very easy, so today I thought I’d share what I did in case anyone else has a piece they want to try shining up!


Brasso metal polish

-newspaper (or something to protect your work surface)

-latex gloves

-two clean cloths

First up, make sure your workspace is prepped with a few layers of newspaper or something else to protect the surface. You’ll want to be in a well-ventilated area and make sure to wear gloves!

Shake the Brasso and squeeze a dollop out onto a clean cloth.

Using a circular motion, rub the Brasso all over the surface of the item, applying more as needed.

I suggest starting with a light pressure until you see how the metal is shining up, and then adjust as needed depending on how much patina you want to keep. For these bells, I didn’t want them to end up too shiny and new-looking, so I kept a light pressure the entire time.

Once you have applied cleaner all over your item, use a clean, soft cloth to buff the surface.

That’s it! Easy Peasy. It only took me about five minutes to polish each bell and reveal the unique, beautiful details.

I’m sure there are people who would argue that all vintage pieces should be left alone and might feel I made the wrong decision here. As I said earlier, I’m usually on Team Patina = Character! But I do think there’s a time and a place to work on a piece and I honestly have no regrets about polishing these. I’m all about cultivating a home that feels collected, cozy, and comfortable, with items that make me and my family happy. The details on these bells are now so vivid and eye-catching in person and I know I will appreciate them for years to come. And as the years go by, I’ll get to enjoy watching the slow process of the patina coming back šŸ™‚

Now I’m curious – are you team polish or team leave as-is?

10 High-Impact DIYs {that you can do in a weekend!}

Last weekend, Justin and I rented a scaffold for 24 hours and painted our living room ceiling Urbane Bronze. It was such a dramatic way to make a high-impact change in our living room in just one weekend – it got me thinking about other weekend projects we’ve done over the years that have had a high impact on our home.

I started digging through my DIY archives and it turns out, in addition to painting our living room ceiling a bold color, many of the projects we’ve done in the past few years are true weekend projects. They’re not elaborate, time consuming projects like our DIY home office, but they’re a step above smaller changes like hanging artwork or swapping out a light fixture. I decided to round them up and put them in a post together in case anyone out there is looking to make a change in their house in a short amount of time – all these projects can get done in the timespan of Friday evening to Sunday afternoon (or less!)

I included a little blurb about each project but to read more about each of these DIYs, including the tutorials and sources, you can click on the project title hyperlink text to go to the original blog posts.

Open Shelf Storage Unit

The very first DIY we did in this house was creating a shelving system for the playroom. We essentially screwed four inexpensive, ready-to-assemble bookcases together, added trim to the front to cover the seams, attached a long oak board to the top, and used stained 1x2s along the edges to make the wood look chunkier. It required some paint touch ups at first but I got smart and covered the shelves with clear contact paper which helped a TON and it has held up so well over 3.5 years of play!

Scalloped Accent Wall

We opted to be surprised in my first two pregnancies and did not find out the sex in advance. After Vi was born, her all-white nursery felt super plain, boring, and sterile. I wanted to do something but didn’t want to go too big in case we had a third child (good thing, huh?) so I chose to do a pink scalloped wall. It made such a big impact and while it only lasted two years before Ollie came along, it was 100% worth it.

Floating Bookshelves

Justin and I first made these shelves on a DIY date night using scraps from our garage – it was a fun, simple project to do together and we installed them in the little nook under the stairs. I loved them so much that I asked him to make a couple more for Ollie’s nursery. I think it’s such a cute and functional way to display books and make them double as artwork in your room.

Paint Your Cabinets

I have now painted three kitchens (this one, this one, and this one!) and I will say it absolutely can be done in a weekend, but it will take the full weekend! In terms of cost-to-impact ratio though, it just doesn’t get much higher than painted cabinets. You can totally transform the look of your kitchen for about $150 or less in paint + supplies.

A smaller scale project is to paint a bathroom cabinet – this makes a big impact in a fraction of the cost and time!

Faux Marble Counters

One of my favorite projects in our basement kitchen renovation was painting the laminate counters to look like marble. It turned out so well and thanks to this kit that had everything I needed, it was pretty easy to create! This could also easily be done in a bathroom to change the look of the counters.

Geometric Accent Wall

This wasn’t a project from our house, but we created this geometric accent wall for a friend-of-a-friend’s bedroom using inexpensive 1×2’s. It took under 24 hours and cost less than $70 in supplies – a quick and easy way to create visual interest on their large bedroom wall.

Ikea Vittsjo Shelving Unit Hack

When it came time to update Justin’s office, we used large pieces of plywood to create the look of one giant shelving unit from three individual Ikea Vittsjo shelves. I’d say plan for a full weekend for this project, as it did require some tedious measuring and cutting, but for us, each shelf went a little quicker than the last as we got our process down and we love the end result.

Open Shelves with Brackets

It doesn’t get much simpler than this shelving option: cut a 1×8 board to size, stain + polyurethane, install a few brackets into the wall, and place the board on top. Granted, we had previously taken down the cabinet that hung there and painted + stenciled the wall, but cabinet removal + a simple patch and paint job + DIY shelves could definitely be done in one weekend.

Create a Frame for a Frameless Mirror

You know those plain builder-grade mirrors that have no frames and bring no personality to a space? Turns out, it’s pretty easy to upgrade them with a frame! We did one for my nephew’s nursery one weekend and it made the mirror look so much more elevated! For what it’s worth, that dresser is also one of many that I’ve upgraded – painting a piece of furniture can definitely be another great weekend project!

A Dramatic Ceiling for the Living Room

Last week I shared that I painted our living room and while I loved the warm, inviting white, the vastness of the room made it feel a little empty. The cathedral ceiling reaches a height of nearly 15 feet at its peak and it just felt too open and boring up there. I decided to make the ceiling a dramatic feature by painting it a rich, dark color and I have to say, I LOVE how it turned out!

I chose a color I have used several times in the past: Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze. I’ve seen this color described as a warm gray, a deep taupe, and a greige, among other things. It’s a bit of a chameleon color that can change drastically depending on the lighting. It somehow feels dramatic and bold, yet is neutral enough to go with anything. When I started thinking about what color to paint the ceiling, I knew I wanted something show-stopping that would continue to look good over the years as I tweak things in the living room. Urbane Bronze was the perfect choice – I know it will continue to work in the space no matter what updates I make to the lower portion of the room.

In addition to using the 6-foot scaffold we own, we had to rent a scaffold to paint the highest points of the ceiling. There is a large oak beam in the center of the ceiling that I did not want to paint, so Justin and I split the work of cutting in around it. Since we had the scaffold for 24 hours, we also had the chance to take down the light-less ceiling fan and install a new fixture. I chose this round chandelier with globes and I absolutely love it! The dark iron + white globes + warm bronze paint + stained oak combo is just the dramatic vibe I was going for and Justin and I love that we finally have overhead lighting in this room!

Renting a scaffold ended up being a super cost-effective solution. Instead of hiring a painter for the ceiling and an electrician for the light fixture, we were able to rent a scaffold from Home Depot (a 24-hour rental was about $70) and take care of painting and hanging the new light fixture ourselves. I want to add: this is definitely not a beginner DIY. Being on a scaffold is unnerving no matter what you’re doing; you want to be really confident in the task so you can focus more on balance. At this point in our marriage, Justin has swapped out approximately 10 different light fixtures. We would never have attempted this project if he wasn’t experienced and confident with switching things out – even with his skill and experience, the scale of this one still made it a challenging DIY for us. Similarly, the painting was obviously more challenging than painting a room with an 8 to 10 foot ceiling, but I’ve done countless rooms over the years and that helped me feel confident enough to attempt painting a large room using a scaffold. I think with DIY it’s good to push yourself to try new things but it’s also very important to know your limits. Even with the experience we just gained, we will be hiring out the painting of our foyer – scaffolding + stairs is not something we feel confident enough in so hiring out the work to professionals is 100% worth it!

While paint has made a huge impact already, there are many things left to address in this room. I have sconces to replace the floor lamps as soon as we can get an electrician out here to hardwire them, art to hang on the wall, I need to paint the windows and replace the window trim, and I need to figure out the situation with the TV + stand. Oh! And did you see that fun round green chair? We’re going to get a second one – and I need to figure out a side table as well. It’s slow and steady but we’ll get there!

Art & Paying Attention to Details

Back in September, I went on a home and garden tour in my favorite neighborhood in our city. I loved getting to see so many beautiful historic homes and had many takeaways from the experience. Two things that stood out to me on the tour were artwork and attention to details. These homeowners were all appreciators of art and it showed! I loved seeing how their choices reflected their unique personalities and especially enjoyed seeing original art on the walls. I also found myself drawn to the small things that were clearly so intentional -art placed in a thoughtful or surprising location, a little nook made into a special moment, etc. These little details made the homes feel so consciously cared for and it left me feeling inspired to make our home feel this way too.

I’ve been making small strides around here to curate more art that speaks to me and reflects our family well, all while trying to be intentional with the details too. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent changes to the far left side of Vi’s gallery wall:

Previously, I had a little print on the top left that I received as a free gift with purchase of one of her dolls. It was fine, but I used it because I had it and not because I chose it. When I saw this girl in a mask print, I immediately felt drawn to it. If you know Vi, you know this print fits her personality so well! I placed it in a thrifted frame and it immediately made the wall feel more like her. I also had the idea to take a thrifted frame of an unusual size, remove the print that came in it, and use it to create a double-framed look around the picture of her and LJ. It’s a simple little detail but I love that it brings some fun and whimsy to the wall!

I loved the idea of a double frame so much that I used that again in my office! My sister is an artist and I loved this moody little flower on canvas she created. I decided to place it in an unique spot to showcase it and used command strips to place it on the trim work of the office built ins. That alone was a fun look, but adding a square frame that Justin made from scraps of trim from our house bumped it up several notches in my mind! I also added a vintage print I snagged at a sale recently to the top shelf – this might move somewhere else eventually but for now I love the peek of landscape up there.

I’m trying to reframe my ideas about what “art” is – anything can be displayed as a special thing. I’ve propped up meaningful books, added one-of-a-kind pottery from a local artisan, and even displayed the cute little card that came with a plant-related purchase. I love the collected, unique look this brings together.

When I purchased the masked girl print for Vi’s room, this unique print caught my eye. It’s not my usual style, but I instantly loved it and decided to roll with that feeling and purchase it in a large size. I love it just propped up against the shelves – it feels both casual and thoughtful at the same time.

Choosing to add these new items in front of the shelves, rather than on the shelves where everything else it, brought a new dimension to the built ins that I’m very into. The layers feel fresh and interesting, and maybe it’s not noticeable to anyone but me, but these shelves reflect our family and our history in so many ways. It makes our home feel like a cozy little haven – a home that gets used and loved and is lived in – and that’s a feeling I have always wanted for this house.

I’ve always been a fan of slow, intentional decorating and these small changes have strengthened my passion for it. I know I will continue to add and tweak and pay attention to the details for years to come!

A Toy Purge Experiment

Our playroom has gone through a few changes lately!

The playroom was the very first room we tackled in this house and since the initial update we’ve slowly been making other changes like swapping out the light fixture, adding chunky window trim, and building the play kitchen and dress up clothes rack. Two big projects remain: flooring and trim. My hope had been to first replace the carpet with a hardwood and then update the baseboards and trim with painted, chunkier versions; however, when Justin and I recently decided to delay the flooring project, I decided I didn’t want to wait any longer to at least make the trim more cohesive with the space. While I didn’t replace it, I did paint the existing trim and that made a big difference!

I also planned to add a big, soft rug to the room once we put down hardwood but now I figured, why wait? When I saw this rug debut in the recent CLJ x Loloi launch I instantly knew I wanted it for the playroom. It’s perfect – and SO soft!

The other big change lately has been a pretty significant reduction of toys, and today I want to give a deeper dive into what I call “The Toy Purge Experiment.” Because truly, the room can be beautiful but that means nothing if it’s not actually functioning well – and for our family, it doesn’t function well when it’s too full of toys. After all, it’s a PLAYroom, not a TOYroom. Let me explain!

The Toy Purge Experiment

Last month, I read the book Simplicity Parenting (you can read my full review here) and it made a huge impact on me. The author, Kim John Payne, advocates for simplifying life in four major areas, one of which is the child’s environment. The biggest suggestion with simplifying environment was addressing toys, and I found myself very aligned with his perspective. It’s not just that I don’t like clutter and don’t want my entire house overrun with toys, but it’s also that the author and I both believe that kids actually need less in order to play more.

Over the years, I have talked openly and often about my desire to not let toys get out of control in our home. I’ve written blog posts like Finding Balance with Toys, Non-Toy Gift Ideas, Intentionally Gifting Toys with a Greater Purpose, Keeping the Playroom Manageable, How We Minimize Birthday Gifts, and Meaningful Gifting.


It’s been nearly five years of parenting, and toys have accumulated. Of course they have! Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, random gifts received from friends and loved ones, plus something I didn’t expect: all the trinkets that come with being in preschool. Seriously, I was not prepared for all the little things that come home with my children – prize box toys and small items in treat bags and novelty knickknacks in Valentine’s cards. And don’t even get me started on fast food kids’ meal toys or promotional toys from businesses and sports teams (whyyyyy are those necessary!?)

I know that our efforts over the years definitely helped keep things manageable, but things have slowly been spiraling. It happens! I’m honestly not mad about it either – I’m not trying to deprive my kids of the fun of a holiday treat bag or the joy of receiving gifts from people who love them. That being said, many of those toys don’t have a long rate of return. The prize box slinky gets bent out of shape. The cheap plastic holiday trinket gets broken. The cool racetrack toy is fun the first few times but it only does one thing so interest is quickly lost. These toys don’t actually produce play or spark meaningful joy anymore, but they contribute to the clutter and overwhelm of the playroom. These pictures may make it seem like the playroom was “fun” but what was actally happening was things were getting dumped out . . . and then were quickly abandoned or worse, not even really played with at all.

As Kim John Payne stated, “nothing in the middle of a heap can be truly valued.” It was time to remove the heap to let the valued toys be easily seen. Plus, the heaps were starting to spill out of the playroom and into all other areas of the house, and this mama does not thrive in that utter chaos!

Step One: The Purge

I’ve purged our playroom at various times throughout the years, but inspired by the book, I decided to go bigger than usual and see what happened. On a weekend where my kids were with their grandparents, I went through and analyzed every single toy in the playroom.

Anything that was broken or no longer worked well was an easy decision to get rid of. It was also pretty easy to remove the “young” toys that LJ and Vi have outgrown, though I saved a few for when Ollie gets older. I also removed anything we had duplicates of, even if it was something that is liked. Vi had five tutus in her dress up collection. She loves tutus! But she doesn’t need five options. Similarly, LJ still plays with matchbox cars on occasion, but he doesn’t need 15 of them. We don’t need seven puzzles that are pretty similar to one another or ten sensory balls. I also had to come to terms with the fact that some toys I got that I really liked weren’t actually toys that my kids played with. So out they went.

Step Two: Donate

The toys all got donated – my sister works for a school for young children with disabilities and she was thrilled to receive toys and puzzles to take to her classroom. It made me happy (in a way that probably shows that I grew up watching Toy Story) to see these things get to move on and find new life with other kids who will love and use them. Dress up clothes, which were mostly duplicates or things Vi has outgrown, were donated to a thrift store so another little girl can hopefully enjoy them.

The exceptions were what I call “the just-in-case favorites.” I decided to make some bold choices and remove some toys that were still considered “favorites.” For example, Vi is obsessed with Frozen and loves Elsa. But she had three Elsa dolls and that felt so excessive to me. I decided to remove one even though she still regularly played with it. (To be completely honest, I removed the one that I personally found to be the most annoying because it sings the same song over and over!) I also removed a few things that did still get played with, but that didn’t encourage much creativity or imagination (i.e. fixed toys). Rather than donate them, I kept these “favorite” items in a cabinet just in case this came back to bite me and a child was distraught over a missing toy. I didn’t want to get rid of something they really and truly valued. But guess what? It’s been almost six weeks since the purge and there has not been ONE. SINGLE. REQUEST. for these toys. Not even one comment about the missing Elsa! I’ll admit I’m shocked, but maybe I shouldn’t be.

Step Three: Let the Open-Ended PLAY begin!

My kids did not make a single comment about the playroom feeling empty. They haven’t said one word about any of the missing toys, favorites or not, but what they have done is PLAY. In fact, they’ve “re-discovered” some toys that they hadn’t played with much lately! I specifically chose to keep things like Lincoln Logs, Magnatiles, and Legos. These toys inspire building, creating, and imagination and it’s been so fun to see my kids focus in more on those things.

I also kept a wide variety of items to mix and match play in the dress up collection and play kitchen area – my kids invent play scenarios with these things daily! In our house, fewer open-ended toys will always trump a multitude of fixed toys that only do one or two things.

I truly feel like they’re playing more frequently because they’re not overwhelmed by choices. When there’s fewer options in front of them, it’s easier to see toys and select something that seems fun. In our experience, it hasn’t led to boredom; they are still playing and coming up with new things to do every day. And as a bonus: the playroom stays contained much more easily and is quicker to clean up. A win-win-win for this mama!

Step Four: Plan for the Future/Maintain

Things feel great for us right now, but more is coming. LJ’s birthday is in about a month, and Christmas comes a month after that. I’m trying to be intentional about what we ask for, but also, I’m not going to be super controlling over this. My kids have a say in what they ask for, and toys are a big part of that (I wouldn’t have it any other way!) So I may steer them towards choices of open-ended toys, but ultimately, I’m sure they’ll get a variety. That’s okay! I plan to do a mini purge right before Christmas and maybe I’ll try to involve them in that one. Now that I’ve seen that they really don’t miss the toys that aren’t there, I know I’ll be able to do smaller edits of the room over time to help keep things manageable.

While it can seem like you’re depriving your kids if you don’t allow for tons of toys, I really and truly believe giving the gift of play actually comes from having fewer, more intentional, choices. If you’re wanting to try this but not sure if you can commit, start with the things you KNOW your kids never play with. Keep them in a cabinet and see if the absence is noticed. Give yourself a length of time (one month, six weeks, three months, etc) and if your child hasn’t requested it by then, you can feel good about donating it. I also know people who never have all their toys out at once – they’ll have some out and some in a cabinet and will rotate through toys so things feel new and fresh. Maybe that type of toy-cycling feels better for you. Regardless, I would encourage you to give editing down the number of toys in your home a try! Like me, you too might find that less really is more when you simplify the chaos. šŸ˜‰