4.07.2014

Before & After - Open Floor Plan Kitchen & Family Room

   My clients, sweet friends who were also our next door neighbors for a short time, hired me last fall to help them turn their new home into the space they envisioned it could be.  While the "before" is a nice space, it wasn't the look they wanted for their home.  One of the things I enjoy about a lot of my clients is their willingness to try DIY projects, and their understanding that a true home can't be built (or decorated) in a day or two.  Taking your time can help to create a home that is really "you" - fewer mistakes made, (hopefully) less money spent, and a sense of who really lives in the home versus who went to the store & bought everything in one shopping trip.  It's hard to build a sense of history if all of your things come from the same place, same season, etc.

Before, the cabinets were the typical wood found in a lot of new builds around the country.  The granite & tile backsplash had been installed by the previous owners, & my clients installed the lighting shortly after moving in (I believe it's from Lowe's).

Before

The breakfast area was devoid of character, and presented a drapery challenge since the door & window are so close in proximity.
 
Before

The renovated kitchen sports a new coat of white paint on the cabinets, a new color on the walls, custom drapery on the windows, and a new stainless steel fridge (not pictured).  The look is fresh & has a cottage feeling, my clients' preferred style.  I always love to see the wonderful effect paint has on a room.  The old kitchen really was fine, but this light, airy space is so much more THEM - and that is what matters.  

After






The breakfast area is another great example of the transforming power of paint.  The table is a Wal-Mart (!) clearance find that the homeowner covered with chalk paint.  I love that the table & chairs are two different colors; it adds character & a little pizzazz to the space that might not have occurred if they were all painted the same hue.    
After







The family room and kitchen are separated by a half wall (seen below).  Like the kitchen, almost everything was some shade of brown or black.  The windows had blinds for privacy but needed some more character.  

Before

A few simple changes really make a difference.  Staying on budget meant working with their current furniture & wall color; she & I have already created design plans for possible changes in the future when time and money allow.  Simple Ikea drapes on the windows & some custom pillows for the sofa are currently the only changes to this room, but the whole room seems lighter & brighter.  

After












Some details that make the space: she added pleats to the Ikea drapes to give the effect of a more custom look.  The pillows, all made for the space, are a combination of Ikea's fabulous buffalo check and fabric based on the design board that she was lucky to find at our local discount home fabric store.  




The final space currently completed is the powder room.  I don't have a before picture, but it was similar to the rest of the house.  They added trim around the stock mirror, new paint, and custom drapery.  



It has been such a treat to work with these dear clients & friends.  Thanks to them for trusting me with their home!  I hope it brings you much happiness.

Holly


3.01.2014

Restoration (Organizing for Lent)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you probably won't be surprised to hear that I have a bad case of the beach blues. If time & money would permit, I would have left for the beach before the first snow hit Atlanta back in January, & doubt I would return for many weeks.

Besides the obvious (sun, waves, frozen drinks), I've been thinking about what contributes to that sense of calm & soul restoration that comes with a vacation in a beach town. And I realized that all of my favorite places to stay have something in common: a clean, uncluttered atmosphere. Everything is in its place. There isn't a lot of clutter or visual busyness. Towels & beach bags hang on pegs in the halls & baths.  Dressers & closets have plenty of space for your stuff. Coffee tables offer a place to rest bare feet or frosty glasses.
Images like the one below spring to mind.

via


Of course, all of this can also make a vacation home impersonal. Finding a balance between displaying the things that make your house your own vs. not letting your stuff take over is important. I'm inspired to clear out the clutter, to give my spaces room to breathe. My best friend told me about a Lenten challenge to declutter one area of your home every day for 40 days. I believe two blogs, whitehouseblackshutters.com & memoriesoncloverlane.com, are providing instruction on how to accomplish this big task. I'm going to attempt to follow along myself, and will give you an update around Easter. If you decide to join, let me know - I'd love to hear how it went for you!


2.14.2014

My Rock

This post is completely different from my usual decor related writing, but Edie over at Life in Grace is asking for true stories about marriage in celebration of another favorite blogger's new book (The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle aka Big Mama). And my sweet hubby deserves some recognition for all he does. He takes his role as husband & daddy so seriously, and because of this, we always feel completely loved & secure.  So Matty, this is for you...

We met when I was still a teenager, & got engaged the year I could legally drink. Nursing school & the Army separated us after only 4 months of marriage, and of the next 4 years, only 18 months were spent together.  We made sure to spend as much of those 18 months together as possible.

This year we will celebrate our 11th year of marriage; we've been together for 13. During that time, we've felt the effects of war, including a yearlong separation & losing friends before they even reached the quarter mark of life. We've dealt with infertility, only to be blessed with the most beautiful gift God could ever give us. And most recently, & most painfully, we've lived with the incredible grief of losing my mom much too early.

Through all of this, and through all of the wonderful moments too, he has been there. When I feel like the latest obstacle we face just might be too much, he reminds me of his love for me and God's love for us. He is strong for me when I cannot be, & while our daughter, babies, and pride of country can move him to sentimental tears, I've never seen him show weakness.

He wakes every morning with a mission to better himself for his family. He is the fun dad, the handy husband, the friend who will take you to the shooting range one night
only to invite you to Bible study the next.   It makes his eternal state of messiness almost forgivable...almost. ;)

We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day, at least not more than a card or flowers, but I wanted to use this opportunity to say thank you, I love you, I'm grateful for you. And I am better for knowing you & for calling you mine.

Xoxo

Valentine's Day 2013.  He took her on a date before our dinner together :)

1.19.2014

Looking forward, Looking back

Happy 2014!  I hope y'all had a wonderful holiday season. We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time in our new home, & then spent December in a whirlwind of parties, celebrations, & just being together. The holidays are bittersweet for us - we have always made a big deal out of Thanksgiving & Christmas in my family, and while we try to continue to celebrate them with joy, it is also the time of year when my mom passed away.  Her absence is even more noticeable at Christmas, her favorite time of year. So, I made a conscious decision that if something was too stressful, we just wouldn't do it. It made the season so much more enjoyable, & we spent lots of quality time together, doing our best to honor her memory.

Thought I'd do a quick recap of our year (home/decor wise), & also share some of our plans for 2014. Nothing keeps you accountable like making a public to-do list.

2013 started off with a bang. My business became official, paperwork & all. I began working with some clients who were either referred to me, or whom I met through networking. This was a big change from my previous clients, who were all family & friends. It gave me a sense of validity (although I am super grateful to the family & friends who did use my services - they just might have been a little biased in hiring me). ;)

In late spring, I attended a designers' luncheon & met so many local designers. You can read about that here. I felt like I knew a lot of them already because I have been following their blogs. It was a surreal experience, & I am so grateful for it. It was at that meeting that I met & talked with Julie, which ultimately led to us buying her home. That story can be found here.

The summer was a whirlwind of working with more new clients & doing all the work that comes with buying a home. Thank goodness we plan to be here a very long time; I do not want to go through that again anytime soon! We celebrated our 10th anniversary in mid-August, & then moved 2 days later. It was a hectic week!  Since then, we have been slowly moving into the house and have not made many changes yet, as we are trying to take the time to figure out exactly how we want the house to look & work for us. Knowing that we will be here a long time has taken away the sense of urgency to get things done that I have felt in other homes, when I knew the Army would move us again & I had a short amount of time to make a place feel like home.

Master Bedroom on Move-In Day


The fall brought lots of yardwork so that we could host my daughter's birthday party in the backyard. My husband deserves lots of praise for the many nights he spent out in the yard after work, getting everything just right for his baby girl. We also loved celebrating Halloween in our new neighborhood, especially really meeting our neighbors.

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house. The dining room is the only room we have painted so far, & I posted a pic on Instagram (follow me for even more house pics) of the table all ready for the big meal. The color in there before was a beautiful charcoal, almost black color. But we are just not cool enough to have a black dining room, so I went with a blue-gray instead. It was the first time I've had a color custom mixed, & I was pretty pleased with the results. The blue-gray goes much better with my buffalo check drapes, vintage buffet, & library of books. It's much more us.



As I mentioned above, Christmas was both good & difficult. But it was nice to know this was the first of many Christmas mornings to be spent in this house. New Year's Eve day, I hosted some of my mom's closest friends & their kids & grandkids for a little get-together. It was a fun way to close out the year.




My beautiful sign from Between You & Me blog.  It was the heart of our Christmas decor (excuse the measly garland - I took these pics after I'd removed all the other decorations & forgot about the garland)

I've already begun working with new clients, & am excited to see where my business will go this year. We also have some projects on our to-do list. Below are some of the things we hope to accomplish this year:

*Guest bath: re-paint, hang new hooks so towels are in reach of little hands, & hang new artwork
*Basement: have recessed lighting installed (so it's not a cave down there), organize the storage area
*Pantry: turn this shallow space into a mini-mudroom. We are lucky to have 3 pantry spaces in the kitchen, but no wall space for purses, jackets, backpacks, etc. Hoping it's feasible to turn this tiny space into a mud-closet (room is too generous of a description)
*Whole house: finish unpacking & organizing. We have lots of "storage" going on right now, i.e. stuff is tossed into different empty rooms until we figure out where each item should be stored.

There are a few other projects in the works, and one that has already been completed.  Hope to share those soon.  Until then, Happy New Year!

Holly


11.03.2013

Being Real

Is anyone still there?  :)

I had to take a step away from the blog for multiple reasons: illness, holidays, birthdays, life in general. And there is one other reason...I was becoming too engrossed in social media & the blogging world.  Both my 3 year old & my husband had made comments about my time on my phone & iPad, checking emails, blog stats, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.  So, I made a conscious effort to put down my devices (I still use them quite a bit, but not as obsessively as before).  I think in some ways, checking in with a digital world gave me a connection to the outside world.  We don't watch much news - most of my TV watching these days consists of Disney Jr & PBS Kids - & I spend the majority of my time with someone much too young for full-fledged conversations about my feelings, hopes, & dreams.  :)

Reading blogs & checking Instagram or Facebook reassured me that my peers still existed, & blogging/social media became resources for sharing all of the ideas I have or wanting to know more about topics that interest me.  On top of that, my business & learning about my business rely heavily on staying on top of trends (even though I'm not a designer who uses a lot of trends), & home/DIY blogs & Pinterest have become a major influence on today's design styles.  So, I began to frequently check Pinterest, Instagram, & I read dozens of blogs, trying to stay on top of my game.  It got to the point that I began to post my Instagram & Facebook pictures based on what I thought would bring in the most readers to my blog, or would generate interest in my business.  As I heard at the conference I went to, those are good business moves for those of us in the design/blog world.  But what may be good for business is not good for me.  I began to feel like a product instead of a person.  Yes, lots of my pics are of my kid, but just as many are photos of things I thought others would want to see in relation to my work or blog.  And that became just too exhausting. I was no longer being true to myself.  If I thought a picture might turn off a potential client (like something relating to my beliefs), I was hesitant to post it.  I worried that maybe I was posting too many pictures of my kid & not enough design.  

And then, I got sick.  I could feel it coming; I even told my husband that if I didn't slow down & take a break, I was going to get really sick.  But, I didn't slow down.  And I got so sick that I spent 4 days in bed.  Those of you with a toddler (or kids) know that 4 days in bed really isn't an option.  But I was so ill that I physically could not get myself out of my bed.  And I began to think, this is so not worth it.  This is not a smart thing for a business owner to say, but my dream is not to be an interior designer.  My dream is to be the best mommy & wife, friend & daughter, that I can be.  If I can fit in interior design around that, great.  If not, I will be glad I gave it a shot.  But, I was letting the things that really matter in life take a back seat to the things that don't matter so much at all.  And my effort to keep up with the other home bloggers drove me to the point of being ill enough to not even be able to take care of my family.  Talk about having my priorities out of whack.  

So, I am starting over.  I am still going to write this blog & run my business, but I will do it in a way that is true to myself, & if that means that the clients leave & the readers disappear, so be it.  If I want to post 50 pictures in a row of my kid on Instagram, I will.  And if I want to write about the turbulent walk I've had with God over the years, & yet how in the end, He is always there to guide me & love me, I will.  And if one day I wake up and say, "I'm done with design & I want to walk away", I will.  Because the areas of my life that are most important to me are too affected when I try to be someone I'm not in the other areas.  I want to be real & joyous & thankful, and have that spill out so that others can see it, not choose what I share with others based on what I think they want to see.  Oh, & I'm going to remove the "interiors" part from my Instagram name.  Interiors are my interest, not my passion (people are my passion), & I don't want to give interior design more clout than it deserves.  (**Update:  Before making such a statement, I should have checked the availability of "hcb" on Instagram.  :)
Since that name was already taken, you can now follow me at hcb_blog).

If you've made it through this rambling post, thank you.  I'm not sure when my next post will be or what it will be about, but I always always appreciate you reading.

   Holly         

10.07.2013

Dressing Your Home & Yourself

     Fall is by far my favorite season.  And my home & clothes tend to reflect that: lots of cozy textures, warm neutrals, & subdued prints with hits of color here & there.  I always prefer my fall wardrobe over any other time of the year.  I tend to think that while we can appreciate the colors, textures, scents, & sounds of multiple seasons, we all probably have one season that we favor over all the rest.  Knowing this can help you in dressing both your home & yourself.

     For example, I love the ocean and the colors blue & green.  Both are found throughout my home & wardrobe, more so than any other colors (except neutrals).  But, I could never have a "summery" house because I need that warmth that only fall type colors can provide.  Below are some examples of rooms that I think tend to give off the vibe of certain seasons:



Winter, Spring, & Summer Room Images via BHG
Fall Room Image via
 Architectural Digest
          The "winter" room is full of soft, muted colors with just a hint of shine.  Think snow & icicles on bare tree branches, or the glint of champagne in a crystal glass on New Year's Day.  If you prefer winter, your wardrobe (or home) might include creamy whites, golds, tans, greige, & lots of texture (cable knits, faux fur, etc.).  

      The "spring" & "summer" rooms are similar, but there are differences.  The spring room's warmer tones & drapery show the transition from cold winters to hot summers.  The colors are still a little muted, like spring buds that are emerging but haven't quite blossomed into bright colors.  Spring wardrobes may include both whites & off-whites, lighter hues of color (lavender, spring green, robin's egg blue), & softer textures (like thin cotton sweaters).  

     You can see the difference in the "summer" room immediately.  The whites are pure, the color in the room is both brighter & cooler in hue, & the textures are smooth & slick (the chairs) or rough like the outdoors (the wood table reminiscent of driftwood).  This feels like a room that would provide cool relief from the hot summer sun.  There are no drapes, & only one of the windows shown has any type of coverage at all.  Summer wardrobes hope to counteract the heat of summer: gauzy linens, lots of white, bright colors (inspired by the ocean, sky, 4th of July, etc.), & favor any texture that feels cool to the touch.

     Finally, the "fall" room is full of the colors of harvest time.  Books & throws, cozy fabrics like the velvet on the sofa, creamy paneling, & darker toned woods invite you to snuggle in & prepare for longer days & cooler temps.  But, it's not a dark room - the overall color (on the paneling, built-ins, & rug) is still a light neutral, the paint just barely darker than off-white.  It is the accents in the room that provide a cozier feeling.  Fall wardrobes might consist of jewel tones, darker neutrals, leopard prints, leather, etc.  

     As I mentioned above, the favorite items in my home & wardrobe are "fallish" in feel & color.  To give you an example of how wardrobe can influence home decor & vice-versa, I created an outfit based on the fall room above (designed by the talented Gil Schafer).  The outfit was inspired by the room's feel, but is not an exact copy - the colors refer to each other but aren't matching.    




What's your favorite season?  Is it reflected in your home & closet?

Happy Monday!

Holly

9.23.2013

Taking Chances, Part 2: Our New Home

   My computer is once again working, & we finally have internet.  Hooray!  Hoping that my posts will be a little more regular from here on out.

    I wrote in this post about how I tend to play it safe, & rarely leave my comfort zone. But taking the risk of starting my business & blog has blessed us many times over already, & if nothing else, it has taught me that a little stretching & growth is not the scary experience I usually predict it will be.  The purchase of our home is no exception.

    In early May, I was invited to attend a Designers Lunch & Learn (wrote about it here).  My cottage client happened to be Julie's (from Milk & Honey Home) neighbor & when I told her what a fan I am of Julie & Anisa's work, she encouraged me to contact Julie. After emailing back & forth a couple times, Julie graciously invited me to the Lunch & Learn.  She & I were chatting, & I mentioned that we had been looking to buy in her neighborhood, but we were having a hard time finding the right place.  In fact, we had resorted to putting notes in the mailboxes of some of the homes in the neighborhood, hoping someone might be so flattered they'd want to sell their home to us (or they might think we were creepy stalkers.  It was a 50/50 chance).  Julie asked if we would be interested in looking at her home.  I knew it wasn't on the market, since I had been memorizing the real estate listings for months, so I wasn't sure if she was serious (plus, c'mon.  This is a home designed by a talented team, and it's been published.  It already seemed surreal that I was at a lunch with ladies whose blogs I read on a regular basis.  The possibility of buying one of their homes seemed totally improbable).  But she encouraged us to come look at it, we did, & the rest is history!

     Something else that seems a little crazy - I have had the below image on my Pinterest boards for forever because I loved the shelf over the range instead of the usual hood.  I will now be cooking from this spot.  How wonderfully bizarre.  

 http://milkandhoneyhome.com/portfolio/

     It still seems a bit unreal - at this time last year, I was simply a blog reader & design fan.  Now, I have my own design business, blog, & we own a house designed by someone whose work I have long admired. There's no way that God & my mama didn't have a hand in this - it seems too improbable a story otherwise.  We feel incredibly blessed & undeserving but oh so grateful.

    As for our plans, I am already tweaking what I said in this post (did you guess I was talking about my own home?).  After having lived in the house for a month, we are starting to get a feel for how the house works, & what we would really like to do to put our stamp on it & truly make it ours.  I completely respect all the work Julie & her family have put into this house, but I wouldn't be worth much as a designer (or be true to myself) if I didn't implement my own ideas.  It will be slow-going as we will be saving up for each project as it happens, but I will be sure to share all of it here.

     Here are just a couple before shots from move-in day.  Excuse the poor quality: my good camera was stolen on vacation last year, & we still haven't replaced it.  I also was in a rush to get the photos as movers were bringing furniture in while I was taking them so I had to be quick!


 
   
 
 
 

     I hesitated to write this post, because I didn't want it to come across as boastful.  But, I decided to go ahead because 1) I want to encourage others to take chances & not let fear stop you from following your dreams, 2) I want to document what we do to our home & what better place than my blog, 3) my own home is the best place to experiment with my ideas, so that I can share the successes (or failures) with my clients/readers for ideas in their own homes.