Archive | decorate

Do You Have Front Door Sidelights? Try this trick …

Apparently I’m on an entry kick. First it was a collection of fabulous fall wreaths to hang on your front door, and now I’m here to talk about a little trick that’s going on inside the front door.


Come on in.

On either side of our front door are tall, skinny windows called sidelights. They do a terrific job of letting in extra light into the entry, but at night, they do very little to offer privacy.

The obvious solution? Hang curtains!

And that’s just what we did.

I first shared our entry on the blog in September 2010 (you can see that post here). I was about one year into my blogging hobby and loved decorating, styling and sharing pictures of our home (I still do!). The photos I took back then are terrible, but they were the best I knew how to do.

Turns out, the poorly-lit photo of the entry with the curtains hung on either side struck a chord and is to this day one of the most pinned images from my blog. I cringe every time I think about that!

entryfall While my style has become decidedly more neutral, bright and minimal since that first entry post, and I’d like to believe my photography skills have improved, the curtains on either side of our front door have remained.

entrycurtains They are just inexpensive white curtain panels from IKEA (which is what we use throughout our house) hung from a metal rod. I use the clip-on rings to make sliding them easy since it is something we do every night and every morning.

When open, the curtains push out far enough that they don’t get in the way of opening and closing the door. When shut, they offer privacy and make the entry feel cozy.

entrywithatlas At one point I had curtain tie back hooks on the wall, but found them unnecessary (and I think one of the kids tried to hang on one and it fell out of the wall. #lifewithkids).

So if you have sidelights next to your front door and you don’t know what to do for privacy, perhaps hanging curtains is your answer.

And please, will you do me a favor?! Pin one of these entry images instead of that 2010 one :)

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Nine Classic Fall Wreaths


(via Rejuvenation)

I love over-the-top seasonal porch decorations. You know the ones: corn stalks on either side of the door, stacks of pumpkins, piles of leaves, oversized lanterns and autumn garlands. They are so creative and put visitors in the mood for fall right away. Pottery Barn catalogs are notorious for having gorgeously decorated entries and I always enjoy flipping through to see what the designers have come up with next.

While theme-y porches are fun to look at, I can’t say I’m a theme-y porch doer. I prefer simplicity, clean lines and just the addition of a classic fall wreath to announce and celebrate the new season.

Now I know wreaths are a bit controversial (way too strong of word, but you know what I mean). People are either fans or not.

I happen to be a fan of a good wreath. In fact, in my compulsive crafting days, I made a million (here are a bunch of tutorials of the wreaths I’ve made over the years).

I like wreaths indoors – hung on a bookshelf, as wall decor (you can see the dried boxwood wreath hanging on the wall in this video house tour), for party decorations and strung from ribbon in windows during Christmas (see what I mean here).

I like wreaths outdoors, too. Especially a simple, fresh wreath hung on a black door. It is such a classic look.

If you are looking for a simple way to update your front door this fall, perhaps you could try one of these nine favorite classic fall wreaths.  classicfallwreaths SOURCES

Preserved Boxwood $44.99 (currently on sale for $38.24)

Salal Wreath $59.95

Wild Cotton Wreath $98

Bay Leaf Wreath $59.95

Wheat Wreath $44.95 (currently on sale for $38.24)

Harvest Olive Wreath $149

Reindeer Moss Wreath $88

Olive Wreath $65

Rosemary Wreath $58.95

A few notes:

Some of the wreaths are fresh which means they smell amazing, need to be misted daily to keep them fresh for about 4 weeks and then will dry naturally. Of course you can make your own fresh rosemary, bay leaf, olive or salal wreath if you have armloads of clippings. Simply wire the stems to a wreath form and you’re set!

The Olive Wreath is from this floral company with the most gorgeous farm flower bouquets. Definitely worth checking out.

You can hang a wreath with a ribbon by thumb-tacking it to the top of the door or try this brass wreath door hanger (I just ordered one for me!).

Cheers to easy fall decor!

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Is White Cabinetry Right For You?

One of the first big projects we did to our house was update the kitchen. Our friends thought we were a little crazy to mess with a perfectly good one year old kitchen, but it just wasn’t our style and so we decided to go for it anyway.

Among a few functional changes like squaring off the island, adding extra counter space and removing the upper cabinets, the biggest impact was painting the previously honey-toned cabinets white.

(This photo is of a house in our neighborhood that was listed for sale a while back but it is the exact layout and very similar coloring as our original kitchen. You can see our actual before kitchen here).

We were warned that white cabinets – though pretty – were hard to keep clean. The warnings didn’t stop us, though, as it seemed every inspiration picture we liked had a common thread of white painted cabinetry.


Here we are, nine years later, and I can wholeheartedly say that painting the cabinets white was absolutely the way to go.

In fact, we are such fans of white cabinets that a few years after the kitchen remodel, we spruced up the laundry room cabinets with white paint as well.


What a huge difference the white cabinets made to this previously depressing room. Because the wood cabinets were floating high on the wall, the dark color felt heavy and looming. The white feels much lighter and feels balanced with the white appliances and dresser anchoring the bottom of the room.

Last year, we finally took the plunge and painted out our master bedroom cabinets as well.

masterbefore masterbathcabinets

I have a dream to redo this whole bathroom (see my design board here), but that was not in the budget so rather than wait any longer, we just made a few simple updates.

In each instance, painting the cabinets made a huge impact and instantly updated each room. The clean and bright style of white cabinetry feels much more in line with our simple/classic/slightly modern aesthetic and even though warned they would be high-maintenance, we really haven’t found that to be the case.

In the kitchen, we used oil-based paint for a smooth and durable finish. This was over 8 years ago when you could still buy oil-based paint at the hardware store and before the innovation of newer high-wearing, low VOC paint formulas. The benefit of oil paint and why we ultimately decided to go with it is the hard finish it achieves. The durability is especially useful for high-traffic areas like the kitchen and I can say that it has worn well. The downsides: long dry time, toxic fumes and how the paint yellows with age.

In the laundry and bathroom, we used latex paint. Neither are high-use spaces and so we were less concerned with the durability.

If you are looking to paint your cabinets – especially if in a high-traffic zone like a kitchen – try using a water-soluble alkyd paint (basically a mix between oil based and latex like this). This will give you the quality hardening effect with the benefits of low VOC, easy clean-up and fast dry times. We used a nice quality brush, good paint quality and an additive that made the paint flow better and settle smoothly.


Paint in a satin finish is recommended to ensure that it is wipeable (very important in a kitchen where spills and drips are inevitable).

So, how do you know if white cabinetry is right for you?

Well, my simple answer is if you love the look then go for it :)

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The Beauty of a Fiddle Leaf Fig

While we were away this summer, I left my houseplants with my mom.


The Fiddle Leaf Fig did particularly well under her green-thumb care.

I told her before we left that I really was not that attached to the tree and if it died, I would be okay. These trees can be very finicky and moving it to a completely different home – with different temperature, lighting and care – isn’t always successful.

When she brought it back over once we returned, I remembered how much I love this little tree. I’m so happy she kept it alive!

Do you know about Fiddle Leaf Fig trees?

It seems like nearly every room that catches my eye while I’m scrolling through images has this variety of houseplant. They add that much-needed natural element to a room, their shape is organic and bold and fills in an empty corner just perfectly.

Here are a few examples of my favorite rooms with Fiddle Leaf Fig trees:





















Don’t the trees just make each one of those rooms? My favorite decorating tip is to add fresh greenery and the big, shapely leaves and height of a Fiddle Leaf Fig is just the thing.

Let me tell you the story of my fig tree …


I bought mine three years ago at my local grocery/hardware store for $12. It was more of a bush than a tree so I decided to experiment and trim off the lower leaves to groom it into a tree. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but for $12, it was worth a shot (see the before and after photos here).

The little tree moved around a bit until I found a spot where I liked it. Unfortunately, the spot I chose was in a high traffic area of our home and little by little the leaves were either knocked off by certain members of my household (ahem) or the tree dropped them on its own because it was very unhappy in the spot where I put it.

Fiddle Leaf Figs like indirect light and lots of it. They like consistent temperatures and only enough water to keep the soil moist (about 1 cup per foot once per week). Mine just wasn’t happy.

Normally, I would toss out a tree that had lost its leaves but for some reason, I moved it into my office right under the window and left it alone for a few weeks. Sure enough, one day I noticed a little sprouting leaf. The next week, a new one grew. The leaves grow quickly and it is so fascinating to watch!

Now, after three years and one miraculous back-to-life experience, the tree is doing well. I replanted it last year in a larger pot with new potting soil to allow for more room for the roots and richer nutrients. It is currently living under the window in our family room where it gets consistent light and seems to be happy there.

Where can you find a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

They are a little hit or miss, but keep checking regularly at your local hardware store (I’ve heard Home Depot and Ace often carry them in the indoor plant section). IKEA sells small versions (the kind with leaves all the way down. Don’t hesitate trimming off those lower leaves if you like the look of a tree better. It worked great for me!). You can also check with a local nursery. If they do not have them in stock, they could likely order one for you. Small plants a typically less than $20, taller ones will be more.

Pop it in a pretty planter or a basket and it is an instant pick-me-up for any light-filled space.

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Why Absolute Minimalism Will Never Feel Like Home

We often say that stuff doesn’t matter. And, yes, of course that is true.

In the big scheme of things, stuff is meaningless. Absolutely. 100 percent.

I always thought this was true, but now I can say that after living with very, very little, I believe it more than ever. It’s the people and the real life experiences that make life richer, not the things we accumulate.

And yet …

While all the stuff – the clothes, the furniture, the dish collections or pillow collections or christmas decorations taking up most of your home’s storage space – while these things are not the most important things in life, they do matter.

I’ve had a hard time reconciling my deep belief that stuff is meaningless with my insatiable desire to be surrounded by beautiful things.

Which one is it, Emily? If you really believe trinkets are worthless then why do you find so much joy in styling out a shelf with each new season? Why do you move furniture or arrange flowers or take great delight in a color-coded closet with matching wood hangers? 

We traveled and lived as a family for over three months in less than 300 square feet. The kids each had one small bin for their clothes. I had one wooden spoon, one set of sheets, one throw blanket, one picture on the wall. And the crazy thing was that we didn’t really miss the rest of our stuff back at home!

This non-missing had me all concerned. What would this experiment in living with less do to my lifelong love of houses, of decorating and pretty things?!

Would I get home and just want to pack it all up and give it away? Would life on the road have taught me that minimalism is the way to go?

That couch you used to love – send it away! The old books you used to collect – off they go! Get rid of it all! All this excess is getting in the way of living! 

Or would all the things we have collected and inherited and purchased for our house just make it feel like home?

And if that was the case – this feeling of being at home amidst the stuff – would that be okay? Would it be okay, after all this time of tiny living, to not choose absolute minimalism for our normal life? Would it be okay to still love the couch and collect old books and deliberately choose an afternoon of moving furniture around even though I have now tried it the other way and was perfectly happy?

Well, you want to know what happened?


We arrived home and it did feel good. The kids pulled out their toys they had not seen in months. They put on clothes they had forgotten about (the ones with bright colors and big logos that were not part the mom-approved capsule wardrobe they lived in all summer). I cut branches from the back yard to bring life indoors. I switched out our bedspread for a new change. I admired and used the things in our house that make it feel like home.

And I also packed up a carload of excess to donate.

The truth is, our home wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the couch to stretch out on or the wall of L’s to give it personality. It wouldn’t be the same without fresh greenery and stacks of white dishes ready for entertaining.

It’s not the stuff that makes a home, but what is a home without stuff?!

So after living minimally for 4 months and now being back in our large and happily decorated home for the past three weeks, here’s my conclusion:

Our homes are here to serve us. They are meant to be a place of comfort, protection and joy. They are where we do life, where we invite others in, where we gather and grow. They are the backdrop of our lives and important ones at that.

The idea of minimalism has its benefits; there is much to be appreciated and adopted about a life free from excess. My style and shopping habits have changed over the years that definitely reflect the simple, clean, living-small and clutter-free mentality this movement is all about.

But there is also nothing wrong with surrounding ourselves with the things we love and intentionally filling our homes with beauty.

As much as I love getting rid of unused trinkets and donating items that we don’t need, want or use, I’m not sure I’ll ever stop collecting and styling the things we do choose to keep. Making a pretty home is part of me and even though popular culture says it is better and more responsible to live tiny with very few possessions, that doesn’t feel like home to me.

The goal of our homes is to be comfortable, safe places where we want to spend time and invite others in. Is my house serving me in this way? Is yours?

That’s the important question.

Are our homes doing their job?

The answer isn’t necessarily to get rid of everything just as much as the answer isn’t found in buying more stuff. What we learned about home from our time on the road is that it is not a matter of having a lot or having a little; it is about intentionally creating a space that makes you happy.

And it is about intentionally creating a home that feels like you. One that reflects your style, your needs and is a place where you want to invite others in to.

Creating a home that feels like you and makes you happy could mean clearing out the overstuffed closets that stress you out. It could mean rearranging the furniture to make for better traffic flow. It could mean painting your piano or learning how to create a gallery wall or investing in a new couch or finally figuring out what to do with the problem areas that bug you the most.

Now that I’m back, I’m more excited than ever to explore this idea of home. Of houses. Of decorating and letting our houses serve us. 

Tiny living was great for a few months, but it isn’t home to me. I’m a fan of stuff. Not too much so as it starts overtaking my life and certainly not at the cost of relationships and valuable experiences.

The privilege of making a home is adding our personal style and filling it with meaningful and pretty touches that make all who dwell inside feel happy and at home. I absolutely believe this. 

So here’s what I’d love to know from you, my darling reader-friends:

What is making you super happy about your home right now and what stresses you out? Do you struggle with making your house a place you love to be? What is getting in the way? (aside from budget. Money will always get in the way. But I fully believe you don’t have to have unlimited funds to create a home you love).

I wish we could sit face to face to talk about these things! But since we can’t, let’s chat online :)

Leave a comment and tell me, what is your biggest challenge when thinking about decorating your home? 

I can’t wait to hear …

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Easing into Fall

easingintofall Last week, when September 1st hit the calendar, my instagram feed blew up with cozy images of Fall.

Pumpkins, plaid, wool blankets, crackling fires, chunky knit sweaters, golden leaves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a Fall girl through and through. It always has and always will be my favorite of all seasons. I remember not too long ago when I had to restrain myself from pulling out all my favorite Fall stuff to pepper around the house before September 1st.

Now, however, I’m not quite there. Not quite in pumpkin and plaid mode.

This year I’m feeling the need to ease a bit more slowly into the new season. 

Over the weekend, I did make a few simple changes to our home to gently reflect the upcoming season.  Easy things that help it feel a little cozier without going all the way.

If you need a little inspiration for ways to bring your home into the new season, try out these three steps:


Add freshly clipped greens.

kitchenclippings When we returned from our extended road trip, the back yard was basically a jungle. I spent hours pulling waist-high weeds, trimming overgrown shrubs and spreading a new layer of black mulch. While I was out there, I clipped a few branches off the maple tree to pop into a vase inside. The leaves will be changing color soon (it’s still fun to clip when they are turning!) and I love the organic and slightly unruly look of them up there on the kitchen shelves.

kitchenearlyfall Our home is very neutral and the green just seems to make it all come alive.

While fresh flowers and bright greens are perfect for the spring, deeper green branches feel decidedly fall. Plus, they are free! Head outside, take along a pair of clippers (I like these) and clip off a big, funky branch to bring indoors.


Throw in some cozy texture.

sofatexture There is something about chunky knits that feel absolutely fall-like. This oldie-but-goodie knit throw works in any season because of its creamy white color, but I especially love having it out as Fall approaches.

fallsofa This is our main hang-out area in the house and why I insist on having the couch filled with pillows is beyond everyone in my family. They inevitably end up on the ground and I inevitably put them all back up three hundred times per day. But the combination of texture we have going on right now makes me very happy. It feels fall-ish without being overly obvious and that’s just what I’m looking for as I ease our home into the season.

I’ve heard it said that texture acts like pattern and am always a fan of mixing as many textures as I can get away with.

Mixing a chunky knit throw (like this one) with a graphic woven pillow (from here), soft leather pillow (from here), funky faux fur (found here) makes for an especially cozy feel.


Change out the scent.

lit-candle I was just talking with a friend about how I don’t like smelly candles. And then midway through the statement I had this moment of clarity: I used to not like the smell of candles.

This all started back in high school when all my friends burned sickeningly sweet vanilla ones and I got an instant headache. Since then I’ve told myself I don’t like smelly candles but actually, I do! It just depends on what it is. Candle scents (and packaging) have come a long way since the late 90’s and there are far more options than vanilla.

If you are a candle person and have been burning a summery scent, switch it up! Maybe don’t go quite to the deep fall scents of balsam and cranberry, but try something woodsy and fresh.

One of my favorite candles is this Izola Green Moss candle – half because of the gorgeous green of the glass and graphic label, half because of the rich, pleasant smell. Another good option is this Driftwood + Indigo (I have it in the cute cement container on my desk right now, but I really like the wood version too).

fallcandle The candle shown is a few years old from Anthropologie, which is always an excellent source for new scents and pretty packaging.

candleontable As the month progresses, I’m sure I’ll be switching up more around the house, but for now these three simple changes feel just right.

I’d love to know … are you ready for fall? Are you a fall decorator? If so, have you jumped fully in or are you a little slower like me? Do tell …

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A pair of matching floor lamps – do or don’t?

We don’t argue all that often. But on this particular day, I was feeling feisty and he was being stubborn and so we fought.

Want to know what we were so passionately arguing about?



I know. Ridiculous.

Ryan thought a pair of floor lamps would look great flanking the couch in the living room.

I thought it would be too matchy-matchy and preferred a floor lamp on one side and a table lamp on a table on the other.

We certainly needed more light in our living room and there is already plenty of furniture, so Ryan’s main concern was that adding a side table would clutter things up visually. My main concern was that matching floor lamps just isn’t done.

When he left the room, I immediately opened my computer and pinterest-searched ‘matching floor lamps‘ to see if it was a decorating do or don’t.


I didn’t find a lot (the table/floor lamp combo seems to be most common), but I did come across a few rooms that looked great with a pair of floor lamps on either side of the couch.

So I humbled myself, apologized for my stubbornness (and possible brattiness) and the next day we bought a pair of floor lamps.

And you know what? I actually really like them. They keep things modern, clean and less visually cluttered. The lamps we bought are sturdy, shiny, classic and add a touch of fancy to our casual living room.

Ryan was right. Matching floor lamps can be a great choice.

Here are a few rooms with matching floor lamps that helped me change my mind:


Gorgeous brass lamps in a very traditional room. (Source unknown)


Lots of symmetry happening in this room, but the colors keep your eye moving around. And I am in love all that natural light. (Potterbarn)


While not exactly flanking the sofa, I do like how these lamps fill in the space. (HouseBeautiful)


A more modern/Scandinavian approach to the matching lamps. (Source unknown)


As with our room, because of the placement of the furniture, there isn’t a lot of space for an end table. The two lamps keep things clean and streamlined. (Potterybarn)


Keeping things elegantly simple in this rustic meets traditional room. (Source unknown)

Moral of the story:

My husband has good taste. Rejuvenation is my new favorite store. Big windows are a must for our next house. A pair of matching lamps look great flanking a sofa.

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My little sister’s house: builder-grade fireplace makeover


Last time, we drooled over my big sister, Amy’s gorgeous kitchen and dining room remodel here. Now we get to peek at my little sister’s house!

Hillary is married to Mike, they have three squishably adorable kids and just moved in to a new house three weeks ago.

This house is so great: it’s big, with nice open rooms and a great backyard that connects to woods with a stream. They are on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood with a park nearby. They searched and searched for the right home, and this one was it.

Hillary and Mike are outgoing, so funny, and for sure our favorite people to hang out with (besides Amy and Eric, of course). Most nights are spent either entertaining friends or staying home watching shows together (they have a million), so it felt important to them that their home was pretty, comfortable and reflected their young, cool personalities.

The only problem? The house they bought was pretty builder-basic blah.

Neither are very well-practiced in home DIY’s, so my parents, Ryan and I spent a Saturday a few weeks ago helping with their first big house project.

Before they moved in, they had the walls painted a grayish-white and carpet replaced upstairs. Eventually, they’ll replace the carpet downstairs with new hardwoods and switch out the baseboards for something more substantial, but for now, they’re living with the beige carpet (it’s really not that bad) and trying to do small makeovers that make a big impact.

Their new fireplace was the perfect starting point.

Let’s begin with a before, shall we?

livingroombefore This is the real estate photo. Nothing terrible, but also nothing that says “we’re young and cool!” either. The fireplace looks like pretty much every other builder-grade fireplace with tile surround and a traditional maple-colored mantle.

Upon moving in, they took off the mantle and sold it on craigs list. Next, Mike and my dad pulled off the tile surround. Actually, I think they decided to cut it out and just replace the drywall because it would have torn the wall anyway.

Before we arrived to help, they had replaced the tiled area with new drywall and filled in the gaps with mud.

IMG_3086 Their vision for the wall was a panel of horizontal planks just in that middle fireplace section. They wanted no trim – just wood planks. Very clean lines, slightly modern, but also a little rustic. Doing the entire wall would have been great, too, but they really wanted to highlight the fireplace. Plus, those bookshelves are so great on either side and the lines of paneling going all the way across the wall would get busy.

To start, Ryan and Mike added vertical pieces of 1×2 screwed into studs.

IMG_3088 The outside 1×2’s didn’t go into studs, so they added drywall anchors. This way, the paneling had something to attach to.

IMG_3090 Then the boards went up! They used wood shiplap siding from Home Depot and had them cut the boards to size.

IMG_3094 IMG_3099 IMG_3102 Since Mike had already gone through the tedious work of installing the tv mounting hardware and hidden wiring, they decided to work around it. Someday, if they decide to take the tv down, they can easily replace the three planks to go all the way across.

IMG_3104 While all of this was going on, Hillary and I were upstairs building furniture for her office, the girl cousins were playing babies and the boys decided to put on a superhero fashion show.

boys They pretend like it’s just to entertain their littlest cousin, but I’m pretty sure they all thought it was the best fashion show ever. #lovetheseboys

Back to the fireplace …

IMG_3106 The sides were covered.

IMG_3109 IMG_3116 The tv went back up and voila! a modern/rustic fireplace makeover was complete.

IMG_3121 They haven’t decided yet if they will stain the wood – maybe tone down the raw yellowish undertones with a slightly gray stain – or paint it all white. My vote is to stain it just barely and wait until they change out the floors to make the paint decision. The natural wood looks so great in the room, but once the wood floors are down, they may find its too much wood. At that point, I vote for painting it white.

Mike and Hill thought about adding a chunky reclaimed piece of wood for a mantle (mainly because she wants a place to hang christmas stockings!). Once the wood was up, though, we all loved the modern simplicity. The stockings can hang from the bookshelves :)

Here’s the fireplace once again, in before and after format:

Builder-grade Fireplace Makeover / jones design company Such a great way to turn a builder-grade blah fireplace into a feature they are happy to have at the center of their family room. On to the next project …


Wall Paint: Rock Candy by Sherwin Williams

Wood used: Shiplap Wood Siding from Home Depot (like this)

Bookshelves: World Market Emerson Bookshelf (I have the same one in my dining room)

Couches: Ivy Tufted Button Linen Sofa in Dark Gray from Wayfair

Chairs: Ikea Strandmon Wing Chair in Light Gray

Coffee Table: World Market Wood and Metal Aiden Coffee Table

Side Table: Urban Outfitters Accordion Side Table in Brass

Thanks Mike + Hillary for letting us show off your home!

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My Sister’s House: A Timeless Kitchen Before + After


I have two sisters: Amy and Hillary (here we are with our pretty mama). Amy is married to Eric and they have two of my favorite kids ever. They live in a family-friendly older neighborhood in Seattle, are UW graduates and big Husky fans, they love to entertain, work hard and make every party more fun.

Last summer, they basically redid their entire house. New floors, doors, windows, moulding, hardware, bathroom and the most fabulous kitchen and dining space.

Amy + Eric have made big and little upgrades to their 1953 house over the past 8 years – finishing out the basement, redoing landscaping, painting the old kitchen cabinets and adding stick-on tiles to the floor (a make-do job before they took the plunge on redoing it completely).  They are busy and active and took their time saving up and planning out before taking on this big renovation.

When I saw the finished kitchen/dining/living space, I was in love. It is so bright and open and classic and chic. You will be amazed at the transformation!

I’ve been meaning to take photos so I could share on here, but every time we’re over there, it’s a family thing and we make a mess of their pretty house (like taking over the living room with tables to fit everyone for thanksgiving or cheering for our Seahawks together).

Last weekend we stopped by to pick up the kids and I happened to have my camera in the car, so I barged my way in and took a bunch of photos. Ready to see?

Let’s start with the befores:

When you walked in the entry, the living room was the first room which lead to the dining room.


It’s hard to tell from this photo since there is already plastic up covering the dining room opening, but from the dining room is where you entered the kitchen.


The kitchen was cut off from the rest of the house and because they loved to entertain, it made group parties difficult.

After living in a construction zone with a make-shift kitchen set up in their basement laundry room all summer, their house was finally done. And it looks so good!

Here it is, in it’s classic, bright, and very chic glory:













Isn’t it wonderful?!

They didn’t change the footprint of the kitchen, but by taking down the wall in between the kitchen and dining rooms and creating a half-wall with peninsula between the kitchen and living rooms, the space is now so much more open. They carried the oak floors throughout the kitchen, refinishing the originals and staining the new ones to match. Walls were painted crisp white, the original single-paned windows were replaced, classic white trim work was added and new can lights throughout. The kitchen received all new cabinets (gray on the bottom, white up top), counters are marble (the first etching was so sad! but now they are more relaxed about it), and the brass hardware tops it all off.

Did you notice the antique mirror in the dining room built-in? It’s my favorite part.

Just to really appreciate the difference, check out these side-by-side before and after shots:


kitchenbeforeafter backdoorbeforeafter

The renovation was such a success. It’s beautiful, of course, but I mostly love that by opening up the space, making the kitchen layout more functional and allowing for better traffic flow, Amy and Eric’s house works so much better for the gatherings they enjoy hosting. Because a home, after all, is for enjoying and sharing and no one does that better than my sister and brother-in-law.


Inspired by: Elements of Style by Erin Gates
Wall paint: Kitchen/living/hall – Benjamin Moore Simply White (trim/doors are the same color, different sheen)
Cabinet paint: Simply White (uppers), Benjamin Moore Cape May Cobblestone (lowers)
Hardware: Schoolhouse Electric, Edgecliff Pulls, Riverwood Knobs, all in natural brass
Counters: 3cm honed Carrara marble
Faucets: Grohe Concetto Single Handle Pull-Down Spray Kitchen Faucet
Dish towel: You Are So Incredibly Awesome from Paper Source
Doorknobs: Baldwin Round Reserve (I love these doorknobs!)
Contractor: Adam Hedin / Hedin Construction

P.S. Come back on Wednesday to see a project we just finished in my little sister’s new house!

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The kitchen was missing something …

I don’t live by many decorating rules. Usually, I just know what I like and go with it.

Sometimes, however, rules are helpful; they offer guidelines, checklists, tangible to-dos. As much as I don’t love rigid rules, I do enjoy helpful clear direction.

neutral kitchen, white bead board, slipcovered bench, chalkboard and natural wood tones / jones design company

In all my years of studying lovely interior spaces (nearly all 37 years of my life) and in decorating my own homes (especially this one), I have come across a mildly flexible, yet fairly accurate belief that there are a handful of decorative essentials that should be in each room.

Take natural wood, for example. A room – and particularly a room that is mainly neutral like in my home – looks drastically more pleasing to the eye and ‘finished’ when there is a touch of natural wood.

Let’s pause for a second and talk about that word ‘finished’. I’m not sure I ever want my house to feel finished. I quite like letting it be my canvas for creativity and allowing myself the freedom to move things, restyle, edit is part of the fun. Finished feels so final and I’m partial to a home that is adaptable. If you feel frustrated that your home isn’t ‘finished’, I’m completely with you and I say let’s quit trying for finished. Let’s instead go for ‘in process’.

Okay, back to natural wood.

Ryan and I have been on a decluttering spree. One area that got the royal pack-it-all-up treatment was our kitchen.

I’m always fiddling with styling the shelves and I’ve traditionally been a more is more type of girl.

But more recently, my style has drifted slightly to the less is more camp and I’m so very happy with how clean and open it has made our house feel, particularly the kitchen. Less clutter on the shelves feels so fresh – just our white dishes, a few white vessels and our glassware.

With this type of minimal decorating, though, there is a risk that things will feel sterile, cold, staged. Those are not words or feelings I’m going for when it comes to decorating our home.

After living with the decluttered/minimal/very white kitchen for the past few weeks, it felt like something was missing. I thought back through my list of essential decorating elements and discovered the problem: our kitchen was missing natural wood tones.

neutral kitchen, white bead board, slipcovered bench, chalkboard and natural wood tones / jones design company

My first step was switching out the old silver lamp that sat on the counter (you can see it here) for a chunky wood-look one. I found this great lamp at my local Target for around $40. It was just the thing to bring in that warm tone we were missing.

neutral kitchen, white bead board, slipcovered bench, chalkboard and natural wood tones / jones design company

Next, I added this simple wood round to the center of the table and topped it with a fern in my favorite zinc flower pot.

neutral kitchen, white bead board, potted fern, chalkboard and natural wood tones / jones design company

You can find wood rounds at craft stores (see source list below), but this one came to us in a pretty fun way.


For our little spring break trip, we rented a house that sat right next to a ravine of tall trees. During a big windstorm this winter, a couple of the trees fell and others we leaning dangerously.

One morning, the arborists set up their tree-cutting tools and we spent a good hour or so standing by watching the whole thing go down (pun intended).

Have you ever watched professionals fall trees? It’s pretty fascinating/fear inducing. My dad pulled out his camera and snapped photos while my mom struck up a conversation with the men, mentioning at one point wouldn’t it be so cool to cover a wall with tree rounds?! To which the men replied, “we’d be happy to cut a few for you”.

And just like that, from way up high, the tree-cutter sawed off a real wood round for both of us. #bestsouvenirever

Potted fern, zinc container, wood round / jones design company

I never know what to do with the center of an empty table and this wood round/metal vessel/fresh fern combo works great. You can still see over it while seated, it’s easy to move when the kids need more space to draw, and it adds one more touch of natural wood to the kitchen.

So for just $40 plus the cost of a new fern, the kitchen feels less sterile and more warm. Lesson learned: add a touch of natural wood to every room.

Add Wood Tones to the Kitchen / jones design company


1  Oversized Wood Table Lamp | 2 Grand Maison Table Lamp | 3 Sphere Table Lamp | 4 Reclaimed Wood Slab Lamp | 5 Thick Wood Round | 6 Boston Fern (try your local nursery) | 7 Ridged Zinc Pot | 8 Striped Cache Pot | 9 Emilie Round Planter | 10 Metal Waves Pot


DIY Chalkboard Tutorial

Our House: Then + Now

The Kitchen Remodel (posted back in the olden days before pinterest made us bloggers up our photo game)

Thoughts on Open Shelves

When Our Kitchen Was In A Magazine!

Ipad Mounted In The Kitchen (we love it)

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subtle coastal decorating

This week is our Spring Break and we’re spending a few days at a little seaside town on the Washington coast called Seabrook. It’s darling and idyllic with walking paths and sweeping views and community parks, shops and cafes.

It’s our first visit to the area and I’m smitten. Water of any type has my heart; but there is something particularly breathtaking about the ocean.


Last night after the kids went to bed (in their cute little room with four built-in bunks), Ryan opened up the back door and we stood out on the porch listening to the ocean roar. The stars were putting on a show, all was quiet and we just took it all in. How big and captivating is God’s magnificent creation.

Our short stay here has me thinking about all things coastal. The charming architecture with its natural shingles, deep overhangs, board and batten siding, metal roofs, dormer windows.


The friendly neighborhoods with wide sidewalks, front porches, window boxes and local shops.


And interiors that celebrate the surroundings without being over the top.

The house where we’re staying has a decidedly coastal style, but it’s done in a very neutral, subtle way.

Tall, abundant windows with simple white trim.


A statement chandelier made of oyster shells.


Dainty starfish.


Pops of pretty turquoise.


Shades of blue and gray.


Woven baskets.


Classic blue and white striped ticking.


All this coastal loveliness makes me add ‘decorate a beach house’ to my bucket list.

If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway in Washington state, Seabrook is practically perfect in every way.

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If you only have a small budget for a bathroom makeover

I’ve been dreaming for some time about redoing our master bathroom. I laid out all my far-fetched ideas on this post, just because I needed to get them out of my imagination.

This is what I would do if we were going to redo the bathroom:

Master Bathroom Inspiration board / jones design company But we’re not.

At some point we’ll sell our house and even though updated bathrooms tend to increase resale value, that probably isn’t the case with our situation. We might be able to sell for a little bit more with a gorgeous bathroom, but not enough to make it truly worth the investment.

But, ugh, the bathroom is just so boring. See it in it’s blah state towards the end of this video (5:35 mark).

While the dream bathroom remodel was just not going to happen, we did decided to make a few small changes to see if it would at least look a little bit better.

Builder Grade bathroom painted / jonesdesigncompany A fresh coat of white paint went up on the walls (Sherwin Williams White Heron) and cabinets (custom color matched to the trim throughout the house) and suddenly it feels one thousand times brighter, cleaner and less-depressing.

Freshly painted walls and cabinets in builder grade bathroom / jones design company Freshly painted walls and cabinets in builder grade bathroom / jones design company This isn’t the finished product, yet. But I really wanted to show the in-process photos and also the stages of makeovers. Because, really, if all we did in here was spend money on paint, the bathroom already looks vastly better. We could leave it just like this and be fine.

That’s the thing about real-life house fixing-up. It takes time. And money. And energy.

We’ve been living in the same house for almost 10 years and have hated this bathroom from day one. But it just hasn’t been a big priority. We’ve slowly made upgrades to other rooms of the house and skipped over our bathroom thinking someday we would gut the whole thing. That was probably a bad choice on our part. We should have painted the walls and cabinets and replaced those terrible lights long, long ago. Sure, it wouldn’t look exactly like my pinterest board of fabulous, luxurious, dreamy bathrooms (seriously. You should look through my bathroom pinterest board), but it would be a big improvement and a prettier place to start and finish each day.
Freshly painted walls and cabinets in builder grade bathroom / jones design company So PHASE ONE is now complete: walls and cabinets freshly painted.

The total cost was a few hundred dollars. We hired our favorite professional painters to finish up the woodwork throughout the downstairs (a rollover project from 18 months ago) and decided to just lump in our bathroom painting projects in the bid. I don’t actually mind painting and it would have been much less expensive, but it takes me forever and I just don’t have forever to offer my bathroom right now. It was absolutely worth the cost of hiring a team who knows what they’re doing and can do it quickly.

I really think we could leave the bathroom just as it is now and I no longer hate it.

Yesterday I pulled a few accessories in to dress up the counters:

Bathroom Accessories / jones design company and used some of my leftover self-adhesive wallpaper to line the inside of the drawers:

Lined Bathroom Drawer / jones design company It’s the little things, I tell you. I smiled approximately six times today when I opened a drawer and saw that happy pattern. If I were more ambitious, I would line the sides, too. Maybe someday.

Now that the cabinets are fresh, we’d love to make additional upgrades. We’ll call it PHASE TWO. This will include replacing the lights, adding hardware to the drawers and cabinets and changing out the bathtub faucet (it’s one of those cheapy plastic crystal knob things). I haven’t decided what any of those items will be, yet, but you can bet I’ll share it all with you as we make the changes.

PHASE THREE is still up for debate. The tile countertop is not our fave. Never has been. Now that the cabinets are white, we’d love to modernize the counters, backsplash and tub surround. A solid surface maybe? We haven’t decided. I’ll do a little bit of research and see what the cost will be. We’re a little bit afraid that if we redo the counters, we’ll want to redo the floors which will make us think about adding a free-standing tub instead of the current one … and it just doesn’t end. Phase Three might never be. But we’ll explore our options.

So the moral of the story is:

Do the projects (however big or small) that make your house feel more like you in a timeline that works for your real life and real budget.

Even if it takes 10 years and multiple phases.

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How I installed wallpaper all by myself in just a few hours

wallpaperfinishedbench One afternoon and a few strips of self-adhesive wallpaper made for quite a pretty transformation of this little wall in our home.

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ll recognize this sliver of wall as my old book page wall.

bookpagewall When we moved into our home nine and a half years ago, the first project I did was tape old pages from a thrifted french novel up to the wall that separates the stairs from the livingroom/hallway.

We wished we had bought the house earlier during the building process so we could have upgraded to an open staircase with railings, but when we asked, it was going to be some crazy amount of money to take down the wall and install the rails, so we just let it go. Because I wasn’t crazy about the blank angled wall, I decided to make it a feature. I carefully tore pages from that old book, used my double-sided tape gun to adhere them to the wall and they stayed that way for over 7 years.

It was a favorite wall of mine, but was starting to look pretty shabby. The pages (especially on the edge of the wall) were torn and worn and looked a bit worse for wear – kids will do that to a wall with tissue-thin paper taped to it. When we took the plunge and had our floors redone and walls painted white, I had to remove all those pages. It was a sad moment.

bookpagewalldown The paper actually came off fairly well. It took some work to remove all the sticky tape, but the wall was not damaged and I liked the look so much I figured I would just do it again with fresh pages.

wallbefore But I never did. The wall has sat blank for 18 months, begging for some attention.

When Walls Need Love (the vinyl company where I bought the dots seen on the big window) offered for me to try out their self-adhesive, removable wallpaper I knew right away where I would try it: that blank stair wall.

I have been know to try a few diy versions of wallpaper in my decorating career. I’ve hand-painted it (as seen in my office) and used gift wrap as wallpaper (as seen in Audrey’s old nursery and the laundry room – tutorial here). I’ve done all sorts of fake versions, but never the real thing. That just feels super intimidating and because wallpaper can be SO expensive, I haven’t wanted to mess up a big investment.

wallpaperafter The great thing about this removable wallpaper, though, is that you can’t really mess up. I did this wall all by myself in just a few hours. It probably wouldn’t have taken hours, but I had to move furniture and clean the floors and snap photos, so that took longer.

As for the results? I’m so happy. The pattern I chose is called Pixel Diamonds is is the right amount of graphic and classic for my taste.

wallpaperonwall Want to see the whole process? Here it is in animated photo form:

wallpaper I started by moving out the furniture. I can be very stubborn and independent when it comes to moving furniture. Ryan was on a conference call and I didn’t want to bother him. I also didn’t want to wait. So I stuck some moving pads under the piano and grunted my way around the corner (it now sits back where it’s been before in the little nook under the stairs).

Next, I wiped down the walls with a microfiber cloth just to make sure they were clear of dust and dirt.

matching the pattern wallpaper I started on the right side so that the edge would be perfectly flush with the edge of the wall. I’m not sure if it matters if you start on the right or left? It turned out okay moving from right to left. That first piece went up easy enough. I just lined up the right edge with the wall, peeled back the backing paper and smoothed it down from the top. The paper is removable, which was so nice. I had to lift and make little adjustments and it didn’t hurt the paper or the walls.

The trickiest part was lining up the pattern. There is a slight overlap (about 1/4″) and that helps a bit, but I had to spend some time getting it to match up just right. Again, the fact that it is removable makes all the difference. You can lift and adjust without much effort.

After all four strips were adhered, I went back over with an xacto knife and trimmed the edges. You can see on the far left that there is just a sliver left of the wall that didn’t get covered. I probably could have cut a 1/2″ piece of paper, but my goodness that sounded difficult and I figured you wouldn’t really notice the tiny bit of wall.

How I installed wallpaper all by myself in just a few hours! / jones design company I was so pleased with how the wall turned out. It feels like an unexpected pop of pattern and makes me smile every time I walk by.

wallpaperandchairs And now my book page wall-turned blank wall-turned wallpapered wall is again my new favorite.

If you have a wall or room in your house that is crying out for pattern, and you’re hesitant to go with ‘real’ wallpaper (the investment, the install, the permanency, the dreaded removal), I can’t recommend this self-adhesive, removable version highly enough.



bench (no longer available from Marshalls)

buffalo check blanket

be kind art print


tufted chairs

metal table

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The easiest way to hang a big photo (as seen in Audrey’s room)

One late addition to Audrey’s bedroom makeover (did you see the reveal? If not, here it is) was the big, adorable black and white photo. Audrey is the lucky little sister to three brothers that really love her and it seemed fitting to highlight their relationship.  How to hang a large photo print without a frame (it's super easy) / jones design company The photo was taken by my friend Paige when she flew out from Atlanta, stayed in what used to be the guest room (and is now Audrey’s room) and took the most wonderful pictures of me and Audrey and our whole family. This one of the four kids will forever be a cherished capture.
How to hang a large photo print without a frame (it's super easy) / jones design company One of the best and least expensive ways to get a big photo is to send it to an office store and ask for an engineering print. It’s just a black and white photocopy – definitely nothing special – but for $3.49, who cares?! The slightly pixely quality makes it artsy and you can order in several different sizes.

To hang, I decided not to poke holes in the print itself, but instead grabbed a few office basics and made up my own hanging method.
How to hang a large photo print without a frame (it's super easy) / jones design company I clipped four mini binder clips to each corner, then stuck to the wall with a thumb tack.

See? Easiest way to hang a big photo, ever.

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A Classically Cute Little Girl’s Bedroom Makeover (it’s Audrey’s and it’s finally done)

Classically Cute Little Girl's Room Makeover / jones design company

You may remember that I’ve been working on a bedroom makeover for our little girl, Audrey. I just looked back at the initial design board post and it is dated two years to the day that I decided to just be done with it. Two years!  

I was having such a hard time finishing her room. Do you have any spaces in your house like that? You have ideas, but not all are practical or in the budget and so you just wait, feeling this nagging sense of incompleteness every time you walk by.

Well, this weekend I just made the decision that it is done. Not because all of the ideas I have for her room are finished, but rather because it is good enough. It’s darling, actually. And even though the curtains are tacked up and we never got to the builtins, sometimes you just have to leave it alone. Check it off the list. Snap some photos and close this two year makeover chapter.

So here it is, Audrey’s classically cute little girl bedroom makeover. Enjoy a little peek …

(Sources and details after the photos)

Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. Buffalo check duvet, striped rug. / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. Dresser with lamp, art and framed ballet tickets / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. Striped rug, gallery wall with favorite art / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. Gallery wall with favorite art / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. Close-up of the gallery wall / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors / jones design company

Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. DIY pinboard, paper flower garland, doll bed / jones design company Classically Cute Girl's Bedroom with mixed patterns and girly colors. Handmade doll / jones design company

Isn’t it sweet? The sun popped out earlier this week and so I hurriedly tidied up her room (let’s not even talk about all the little trinkets a nearly six year old girl loves to collect and scatter about her room) and took these pictures.

When Audrey came home from school that day she was delighted to see her room looking so pretty. It was really sweet. And you know what? She has no idea that I stopped short of all my ideas. She loves her room just the way it is. I suppose I do, too.


bed, dresser, doll crib + high chair: craig’s list finds by my mom

striped rug: Olin rug from Crate & Barrel

buffalo check duvet: Emmie Ruta duvet from IKEA

polka dot sheets: no longer available from Target, similar from Land of Nod

yellow flower pillow: no longer available from Target, but they really should bring this one back

hanging pleated medallions: get the diy tutorial here

wooden sign: Between You And Me Signs – read the post about the meaning here

lamp on dresser: no longer available from target

flower art: The Runner Up by Janet Hill Studio

sequin star pillow: Emily + Merritt for PBTeen, no longer available, similar in dots

gallery wall art: see post with sources and how-to here

valance fabric: Diamonds In the Rough from Minted

bulletin board: read tutorial post here

paper flower garland: no longer available, Target

handmade Audrey doll: see post with details here


Any thoughts or questions about sources? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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