Work In Progress… {Putting Pen to Paper}

… Or in my case, I always use the same type of pencils. I keep an overflowing quantity of them on my desk at home and in the office at all times. Putting pencil to paper for me is how everything really starts unfolding in the design process. After meeting with clients and discussing their wants and needs for the space, I go home and lay it all out.

Finding the Right Layout

This is a layered process, and I mean that very literally. The way that I typically work through a space is by first drawing the shell and giving myself an outline of the immovable space we are confined to for the project. Then, I make copies, and from those copies I layer in the different elements of the space working to see if we can get all the wants and needs into the space. Most of the time there is a compromise that has to take place. Something big is required (by code or by client) so something else less important has to take the backseat.

For each project, this process is different. For some clients, it is very cut and dried and only takes one draft; for others it can take dozens. I just finished a kitchen plan that was very straight forward with the space allowances, the clients requirements and the materials we specified. It took one first draft and the final was essentially the same with some minor tweaks. Simultaneously I am working on two separate bathroom spaces, an expansive master on-suite and a small family bathroom in a farmhouse. Both are much more complicated and have taken several drafts to get on the right level with the space, the client must haves and the necessary design details.

This process can be frustratingly drawn out and can take a long time. I wish it was all easy..but going through the motions for me also helps solidify the design we move forward with knowing that it is the best option and that all other options have been drawn out and considered.

Hand Drawing Detail 1

A lot of my clients ask if I’m going to send them a computerized drawing of their space and plan when we do our initial meeting, and although I have learned software programs while I was in design school, there is something about putting pen to paper that is so much more valuable to me and my process than clicking the mouse a few times. Maybe someday I’ll go all fancy and switch to the software, but I love the practice of drawing plans and spaces. From a creative standpoint, it also allows me to connect with the space so much better and really see the layouts take their best shape.

I thought it would be fun to share a bit about my process when I get started on a new job as it starts to take shape, especially as there has been a ton of drafting and re-drafting of plans happening around here lately.

Motivation Monday {A Typical March Day}

Let me first start by saying I’m back! I have taken a couple of weeks to just figure out what my plans are for everything. Work has been overwhelming and my persona- design clients are keeping me busy. The list of things P & I would like to accomplish around the house is becoming more of a mountain, and we need to find ways to chip it down to something more attainable. All that said, I just needed to remove something from the list for a little while.

But at the end of the day, I really do enjoy blogging. I like the outlet that it provides me with and I love the sense of community I get from being a blogger. It really isn’t something I want to stop doing. So without further ado, we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming!

When I was searching for spring-themed quotes, I realized there weren’t really any that I considered to be motivational or inspiring really, but this quote from Charles Dickens provides the type of imagery that lets you feel like you are in the scene.

Charles Dickens on March

March is one of those months that is really hit or miss with the weather. Often in the morning you look out the window and the sun is beaming, but then you step outside and the wind hits you and you feel like you are still in the midst of winter. I love the spring though. It is a transition season that brings us out of the gloom and doom of winter with all of its bright flowers and chipper song birds. The act of layering is something I love and I wouldn’t trade these promising, sun-shining, wind-whipping days for anything right about now!

Happy Spring!

Picture Rails as Shelving {IKEA Hack}

My home office space has felt like a joke for much of our time in the condo. For the first 6 to 9 months, I was working at the dining room table. When we finally found a desk that was a good size, style, etc., we had a hard time figuring out exactly where we wanted it to go.

Picture Rail Office Shelving

We settled on putting it in the bedroom. In our little one bedroom condo, the choices were between the kitchen, living room and bedroom, and as P does a lot of work in the living room with the TV on in the background to stay current on his industry, I wanted to have my own space where I could shut the door if necessary.

We first added the desk near the door, we tried to add an old shelving unit from Ikea to see if it worked there and ultimately it just felt too crowded, but I had a plan! We shifted the layout around and now the desk space feels like a comfortable work place for me to do my thing whether I’m spreading out on the surface with layouts and material planning or I’m typing away working on the blog.

But still there was something missing. When I chose the desk, I wanted something minimal. When you have a small space and you are adding a substantial piece of furniture, you don’t want it to take over the space or weigh it down too much. That said, my desk really doesn’t have any storage. What’s more is that since I do often find myself using the entire surface to work through spaces that are in process I really wanted to do something to relieve the surface space from having to carry the necessities… so we added shelves!

(Click on any picture below to expand the gallery.)

I wanted to use something long and narrow, to line up with the length of the desk, but be shallow enough only to hold the necessities and some inspirational art. Picture rails were the perfect solution! I searched and found simple white picture rails at IKEA and headed out immediately to pick them up and later that day I set out to install them as shelving in this little IKEA hack.

Once again, breaking out the oldest drill known to man, along with the level and my handy dandy pencil! These shelves were so easy to put up, I even did them without help! So proud of myself! I love getting my little work space put together here. It is making a huge difference in my work flow. I love having a clean surface to work on and I love having a space that feels organized!

I’m sorry I don’t have more pictures to share of the finished work space, but it still isn’t really 100% done yet, so I’ll share soon when it is!

Motivation Monday {Strong Women}

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and there is nothing better than building up the other women in your life. Whether they are in your family or they are your role models, they are people you look up to, or just strong bloggers that you follow on Instagram, they deserve to be built up.

Strength & Dignity

In addition to this verse I’m sharing in honor of all of the strong women out there, I have been seeing a few reminders on social media reminding us that jealously isn’t pretty, but what makes you stand out is building each other up. Send some love the way of someone you admire because really, there is enough room out there for all of us to thrive!

Enjoy this day, be strong, be powerful, be supportive!

Chicken Taco Soup

The crock pot is probably one of the most used small kitchen appliances in the condo. It would be first if it weren’t for both my husband’s and my love – and need – for coffee. We use it so much in fact, that this recipe I’m sharing was our crock pot’s last before going into the graveyard. We killed the crock pot. Oops.

Chicken Taco Soup 1 Chicken Taco Soup 2

Dinners that cook in the crock are some of my favorites. You come home to a house smelling delicious, you don’t have to worry about what you have to cook after a long day and they are so family friendly. So what can you cook in a crock? The recipes are endless… Google “crock pot” and see for yourself. If you are having a hard time, narrow it down by adding your meat of choice or the word “vegetarian” and boom, dinners for days.

This Chicken Taco Soup is a version of a recipe my mom makes. I don’t use a recipe anymore, just a guideline of what to put in. You can do your chicken breasts, fresh or frozen, they will cook either way in the crock, just be sure to add some time if they are frozen. Add your beans and corn, of course chicken broth (typically one box) and finish it off with your favorite taco seasoning. If you care to spice it up, you can add jalapeños or a can of diced green chilies. When you serve it up, you can add a dollop of sour cream, some sliced avocado and a side of quesadillas. It is sure to be a dinner that will please you and your kiddos. It is simple and flavorful, good on a sunny summer night with a complimentary margarita, or a chilly snow day all the same.

Chicken Taco Soup 5Chicken Taco Soup 4Chicken Taco Soup 3

So, what are you having for dinner? And do you love your crock pot as much as I do? I’d love to hear some of your go-to recipes for your crock pot!

Now that the dinner is ready to go, I’m off to remove the snowballs from Brantley’s paws; he loves snow days! Enjoy what is hopefully the last snow day of the season!

Work In Progress {Lighting}

I mentioned on Friday that one of the things I wanted to work on was our lighting. All of the light fixtures in our condo are the same exact flush-mount, single-bulb, basic fixtures you can imagine – in every room. They really don’t put out enough light for any of the spaces, except maybe the entryway, and they are really not attractive. Something’s gotta give.

Condo Lights

Lighting in general is something that I have thought a lot about since we moved in. From both a visual perspective, as well as a functional one, the lighting around here just isn’t up to par. I have thought about adding sconces flanking the bed, though I’ve recently rearranged the bedroom furniture, so I’m glad I didn’t do that. I have thought about layering in some freestanding pieces (table or floor lamps) but again, with the furniture not settled, it just doesn’t feel right to invest in anything too much right now.

So I opted to start in the kitchen. Here is a place where you cook, clean and spend a lot of time. You really do need a lot of lighting here. This is also a space where I sometimes overflow to the kitchen table to do work when I need a change of scenery, or to really spread out materials, drawings, notes, etc., So a single-bulb fixture with a frosted glass shade really just wasn’t cutting it.

Since I don’t know how much we are going to really be doing with our place or how long we will be here, I didn’t want to invest to much into something, so I opted for an option from Ikea. I found the Hektar fixture and figured $30 for a three-bulb down light, done. I had never changed a hard-wired light before, but I did my research, studied up and mostly relied on this video for instructions. The instructions that actually came with the fixture were really of no good for actually installing it, but install it I did.

So a few things I’m not super in love with, the electric box doesn’t line up perfectly square in the room, which on this fixture in our galley kitchen, I can really see that the whole fixture is angled in the space, secondly, the fixture itself doesn’t fully cover the electrical box, which really just creeps me out. I don’t like the look of the finished result, mostly because I feel like it doesn’t look finished.

But I did get the fixture installed, and it does provide substantially more light in the space. Unfortunately it isn’t perfect, but for a fixture that only cost me $30, it will do for now. Have you ever changed out any of your fixtures? I’ve also now realized that it is a lot easier than I could’ve imagined!

Two big things to remember before attempting a lighting upgrade in your home, if you don’t know what you are doing or don’t feel comfortable handling electricity on your own, do not attempt to do this on your own, call an electrician, or maybe your dad. Either way, reinforcements are a good idea. And most importantly, turn off the electricity to the area where you are working!

Basic White Tee

That moment when you wake up late, you have nothing in your closet to wear, you didn’t pick anything out the night before and you are running late just standing there trying to put an outfit together; the basic white tee shirt will always come to your rescue.

Basic White Tee

What is it about this simple shirt that works so well for any day? It is so versatile. You can dress it up or keep it casual depending on what you pair with it. It can go with jeans or a pencil skirt seamlessly. Add a cardigan, a statement necklace and your favorite booties, and voila, outfit perfection.

The same can be said for your basic home furnishings and that is why I love using neutral whites and beiges for the larger pieces in a space. These are the pieces you aren’t going to change all the time. You want them to be flexible enough to go with whatever accent pieces you are going to bring into the room that week/month/season. They should feel effortless, like they just fit the space.

The lines of the piece should represent your style and taste, but using a neutral just makes the piece work overtime for you. This way you can be sure you really get the most life out of your staple furnishings.

We have a light greige sofa, that has lived in two different homes with us now, each with their own style or theme, and it always works for us and for the space. We have a beige-y neutral platform bed and headboard with simple lines that has been in the same two homes as well with a lot of changing bedding, paint colors, and accent pieces and it always works.

If you are looking to splurge on a new piece for your home and you plan to keep it for a long time, try going with a neutral, you might surprise yourself with how much you like it and even more how you like its flexibility.

Motivation Monday {Move Mountains}

Happy Monday friends! I love these words from Napoleon Bonaparte. They are beautiful and they take me back to the days in English class reading verses of poetry or lines from plays and breaking them down to really analyze all their potential meaning.

Move Mountains

In this case, we can take it personally to mean that it is so important for us to rest up. When we sleep, we gear up for all that we have ahead of us and we are really able to do incredible things.

We can take it in a seasonal sense. This Winter seemed to come a bit late around the New York metro/New England areas, and it seems to be lingering a bit longer than anyone would like. I think we are all ready to move on to spring. But in this sense, if we can just wit, let the sunnier seasons rest, get through what’s left of the winter, there will be beautiful days ahead.

How do you interpret these words? I’d love to see what you think!