What You Do Makes a Difference

I often make the joke to friends and family that I’m not doing anything to save the world, but I am making it a prettier world to live in.

What You Do Makes A Difference William James Quote Motivation

Now there is nothing wrong with living in a pretty world, but this thought process and repetition can constantly discredit what you are doing. The fact is, interior designers do so much more than make homes pretty. We work hard to create an organized, clean and functional spaces for our clients — spaces in which they feel relaxed and can get cozy when they come home from their long days at work. This reduces the stress level as a homeowner, because the baseline of your home is done.

A well-designed space, public or private, makes you feel good to be in it — even if when you come home, there are dishes to do and laundry to be washed, it won’t drive you mad.

There are so many other examples of jobs that feel frivolous, you might even beat yourself up for not doing something better, but chances are, you are still making a difference. So take a minute to let that sink in and build yourself back up again, because what you do is important!

What do you do, and how do you find yourself making a difference? Have you found that having a well-structured and decorated home makes you feel good at the end of the day?

PS, the background color is Sherwin Williams “Spiced Cider,” and I LOVE the color! It is the perfect blend of warmth and color while still feeling really neutral — and it is totally making me want to grab a chai latte!!

First Anniversary Gift Guide | Paper

Hmmm… The first year of your marriage, one of the most bliss-filled, starry-eyed years of your life and all you get to celebrate is paper… okay…

I have a few theories on this; No. 1- There is a good chance that after a year, you just dug yourself out from paying for your wedding and honeymoon, so all you have money for is a card (or some other paper gift). 2., You are still so googly eyed and mushy in love with each other that you could write a book of love poems. So go ahead, break out that pen and get to writing; your anniversary is coming up!!

Okay so actually my anniversary is coming up! In 10 days, P and I will celebrate one year of marriage. I do think that we are pretty deep in love, and we can be pretty mushy with our expressions towards each other, but if this is the most bliss-filled year we have, I will be disappointed. There are many milestones to go that I think will just continue to expand our love for each other. (Go ahead and puke if you need to.)

Although we finished paying for our wedding and honeymoon a while back, it never hurts to save a few bucks. But we also thought it would be sweet to follow the traditional annual gifts for the wedding anniversaries and then do something to celebrate. That said, I am having the hardest time figuring out what to get for P, I have plenty of suggestions for you myself, but he seems to have that figured out.

Here’s my brainstorm for the best gift options for your love on your first anniversary:

first anniversary gift guide for him

For Him: (Clockwise from top right) Frame a ticket stub from a memorable event (This one is from P’s personal collection, find something similar for your guy on eBay); If you can’t afford a ticket to fly away on an adventure, this fun airline ticket tray is a great way to keep your wanderlust dreams in flight while holding your mans keys, wallet, etc., at the end of a long day; P is a writer, so a customizable leather-bound notebook seems like a good option as a sophisticated book to carry around and jot down interview notes or keep track of characters;  A custom coordinates print is a great way to commemorate the place where you tied the knot or the address of your first home together; and a Kindle Paperwhite serves as a great way to keep your reading on hand at all times.

1st anniversary gift guide for her

For Her: (Clockwise from top left) If the Kindle Paperwhite is good enough for him, it’s good enough for her, I know I would enjoy this gift just as much, if not more than my hubby, so put it on the list; This brass cuff is molded after the look of folded paper, and every time it adorns her wrist she will remember your wedding day and anniversary; I am a big fan of the handwritten note and I love gold foil details right now. This Etsy shop does custom stationary in addition to their standards, so why not treat your wife to a little custom gold-foil stationary with her new last name; this paper airplane necklace is simple and light, the perfect complement for every ensemble your wife puts together, and like the cuff, each time she wears it she will remember the sweet details of your first year.

Last but not least, I love a good notebook. I jot down all my notes from client meetings in notebooks along with blog ideas and daily sketches and I keep them cateloged for reference, this Little Gold Book by Kate Spade is sweet little way to honor the wife that loves to put pen to paper.

What do you think? What would you do if it were your anniversary? Would you stick with something that is actually paper, or do you think my modern interpretation works out okay? I’ll let you all in on what we end up exchanging for our anniversary in 11 days!

100 Year Old Basement Renovation In Process

This project started out a lot like many others. When I first met with the homeowners, the wife was timid and anxious about even letting me see the basement, but upon seeing it and discussing the space with her, she became very excited to be moving forward with renovating this space.

When I presented the plans to the husband and wife they both became very excited about the space and anxious to keep things moving. This basement needs to consist of more organized storage for household items, their extra refrigerator, an appliance pantry for larger counter-top appliances that get used only a handful of times throughout the year, a laundry room, and gym. In addition to these shared spaces, we needed to create a space where family can crash when needed, so there is also a shared mud room with exterior entry and a full private suite with a kitchenette, living room, bathroom and bedroom, and knowing how amazing this space is going to be when it is finished, any member of the family who gets to crash in this basement is going to feel like they landed at a 5 star hotel.

Through shopping trips, research, planning and revising plans, I have become pretty close with the family and they have had some unfortunate news come to light. That said, we are doing everything we can to finish this project as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.

The space has been fully gutted and the french drains are going in. The space feels so much larger than it felt before and they are starting to be able to envision the plan within the shell of their basement now. We are at a pretty fun stage of the game with everything so raw right now. (All of the images above are pre-demo; below is where we are now.)

I wanted to share this seemingly nothing of an improvement so that you can see how these projects start. We have to knock things down in order to pick them back up again, and in this business it isn’t all pretty. Sometimes you might be ashamed of how your space looks now, but it will get there, even if it takes forever.

This basement is 100 years old, it has a lot of character, and we are intending to keep a good chunk of the character in tact. Can’t wait to show you more along the way as we progress.

Tour Of A Sweet Master Suite

This project all started out with a little leak. The homeowner was experiencing a drip in their shower, which developed into mold, which spread through to their closet, and before you know it, their insurance was coming out to take a look at the problem.
Master Suite-Bathroom Overview1

This project started as something done out of necessity, but soon became something that both husband and wife wanted to never have to worry about changing as long as they were in the home. So we worked through a more functional design for the space, shifting the walls slightly to accommodate a wider closet, swapping the tub location to accommodate the make-up area and more cabinetry. We shifted windows, added a laundry room, etc., When it was all said and done, it was so worth it.

The only thing we did outside of the on-suite portion of their master was pick out new paint colors to help the spaces flow together better — hence the random photo of the fireplace. This is their sitting room that leads directly into the bathroom from their master bedroom.

I could live in this master suite. All that is missing is a beverage center for coffee in the morning and wine at night, and a mini fridge and microwave for snacks. Maybe we can tack that on to their next home improvement project.

Aint No Stoppin’

This quote is the simplest truth. Nobody is holding you back except for you.

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Yesterday at church we listened to a sermon about how sometimes you are making excuses to stay comfortably where you are, even when you know what you could be or should be doing to help move yourself forward.

Sometimes it isn’t clear what we are supposed to be doing in this life, what our purpose is or where we are going, but we can all take a look at what we are doing now and make a decision to move ourselves forward. I love that. We have the power and control to take the reigns in our life and make it happen.

Take that next step forward, what are you waiting for?

PS, the background color on today’s quote is Sherwin-Williams “Harvest” because as much as I’m in denial on the season change, the mornings are getting brisk, and fall will officially be here before the week is over, so I figured I would jump on board and pick a color that eases us in in a soft and subtle golden-orange hue.

My Fall Reading List

I can’t even tell you what the last book I read cover to cover was, and that, my friends, is a bit embarrassing. When I was a kid, I hated reading. These days, I love diving into a good book. In fact, I have a few good books I’ve started in the last year that I just haven’t had time (or made time) to pick up again. Hopefully that will all change this fall as I will make time to put reading back into my rotation of activities.

Jersey City Public Library

I’m thinking we need to go check out our local Jersey City Library and get some library cards. I love libraries. They smell like old books, they are calm and quiet — the perfect place to go to find some peace and take a break from it all while you get lost in a good book.

I wish I could say my fall reading list was a bit more exciting, but I think I really just want to read some women empowerment books, the ones that fall into the “self-help” for business entrepreneurs category.

Here is the list:

  1. #GIRLBOSS. I know I know, I am probably the last of the blogger people with an entrepreneurial mindset to not have read this yet… so I’m going, I’m going.
  2. You Are a Badass. I have followed a few gals that have read this and it seems like a good one to dive into, and let’s face it, I really am a badass, right?? (I think if I have to ask, the answer is probably not.)
  3. Big Magic. I am an Elizabeth Gilbert fan, one of my all time favorite books was Eat, Pray, Love, so how could I pass up her insight on “creative living beyond fear?”

What books are on your list this fall? Anything falling into the more fun fictional category? Maybe I will get to some of those too, but let’s be honest, I really would be happy if I could get to pick up and read through even one of the books on my list!

(Image Credit: NJ.com)

Transitioning to Fall

Fall fashion week is all about the spring season, and my mentality right now is all about holding onto summer. But, whether we like it or not, fall is looming so we might as well begin transitioning.

I’ve been adding cardigan layers back in with my bright, flowing, summery skirts and tees, along with breaking out a few pairs of booties. Cardigans and booties are the perfect layers to add to your wardrobe this time of year. Scarves are also a favorite fall layer to add on, but I am so not ready.

For your home, fall inspires light layers of coziness, all things pumpkin and leaves and at least for us, the transition to sleeping with the windows open at night.

Fall for me is always a good time to declutter — make sure our surfaces are clean and that a gust of wind isn’t going to come in and blow over a pile of papers. It’s a good time to make sure things like window treatments are in order (so you can easily open and close them for day and night), pillows are cozy and you can break out your light-weight cozy blanket to toss over the back of the sofa.

So if you are like me and you need a slower transition to fall, here are some ways you can transition a bit more slowly:

  1. Wash your windows to let all of the sunlight in. If we are really trying to have summer forever, sunlight is key!
  2. Work on decluttering your surfaces. There is nothing like a fresh, clean tabletop to make you feel good about life.
  3. Start considering some of the fun accessories like pillows and blankets for the living room. You don’t need to cover everything in leaves and pumpkins to start to feel a little cozier.
  4. Treat yourself to a new candle. The smells of fall might just convince you that it’s okay that fall is in fact just a week away and remind you why fall is your favorite season. (*It’s my favorite season, but I’m feeling very resistant this year!)
  5. Relax and enjoy your bright, clean and cozy living room!

When October rolls around we can start talking about adding in some pumpkins and leaves.

Fashion Week Motivation

New York Fashion Week is in full swing, and if you are anything like me, you are stalking the fashion designers and fashion bloggers on all platforms of social media, filling yourself up to the brim with inspiration.

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This quote by Italian designer and one part of the duo, Dolce & Gabbana, is a favorite for inspiration, not just for fashion designers, but for all designers and really any person with dreams in life. Basically if you put your whole heart into something and throw all your passion at it, there is no reason you shouldn’t go far in life.

By the way, the background color of this graphic is Benjamin Moore’s Fashion Pink, I felt it was most appropriate!

I hope that whether you are following along with fashion week or not, this has you feeling inspired to follow your passions and put all your love into what you do.

Labor Day Weekend Recap [And a Recipe]

We spent Labor Day weekend with my in-laws at their new place down by the Jersey Shore and what a glorious, relaxing and restful weekend it was.

I had a hectic install Friday morning that I dragged P along to help with, and then we hit the road, exhausted and ready for a long weekend. We ordered pizza for dinner from a local pizza place that had a gluten-free crust made from scratch that was so delicious!

Saturday we went crabbing (caught 3 blue claw crabs!) and made up a little appetizer on the fly–3 crabs isn’t really enough meat for more than an appetizer for 4 people to share. Then Saturday night, we went over to Seaside, played mini golf, rode the sky-lift ride with great views of the coast and the boardwalk, enjoyed my favorite summertime treat (Kohr’s Brothers frozen custard–the only flavor worth getting is the vanilla-orange swirl), we even rode some of the rides!

Sunday, we drove around Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, walked around shopping, took in a few views of the coast, explored a trail with Brantley and enjoyed the sunny weather. That evening we drove out through the marshlands to West Creek for a dinner at sunset that, between the views and the food, did not disappoint.

Monday we took it easy in the morning, stopped at the local fish market and picked up some fresh ingredients for dinner and had a quick lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs before we went over to the pool. The pool was beautiful and so refreshing, I was so relaxed that I even fell asleep at the pool! We capped off the weekend with a Kitchen Clambake courtesy of Ina Garten’s recipe, that was probably among the top 10 best home cooked meals I’ve ever had in my life!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Recipe: Spicy Cheesy Crab Balls

-Meat from 3 crabs (Boil fresh caught crabs with Oid Bay for 10 minutes and refrigerated until cool enough to handle, before meat is removed.)

-1/3 cup cheddar cheese

-Jalapeños (seeds removed)

-2 Corn Tortillas

Rough chop the jalapenos, corn tortillas and cheese and combine ingredients into a food process. Chop until all elements are well blended and a dough is created.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll into balls. Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet until it bubbles. Drop balls into oil and let them cook, rotate them so that all areas cook, keep them in for a good few minutes until they brown and then remove and place them onto a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until all of the crabby cheesy goodness has been cooked, insert toothpicks and serve. Make sure to eat one for yourself as you bring them out to the masses or else you might not get any of these tasty morsels!! Enjoy!

Back To School | Top 20 Desks

It’s that time of year again. The kiddos are back to school, and if it hasn’t started already, they will surely be bringing home their schoolwork soon enough. I’ve sorted through my favorite desks that will work in a variety of spaces and will grow with your kids as their tastes change. These desks also will give them a good surface space to put a laptop, textbooks and a few other essentials.

West Elm is one of my favorite retailers, and all of these options are under $500! Click here to find more options. (Left to right, top to bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.)

Pottery Barn Teen has a few good options as well. They styles will be more traditional or transition in comparison to some of the others shared in this post. (Left to right, top to bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

CB2 is a more modern furniture brand, and they typically cater to more urban-style living. The benefit of this is they have options that will fit into a smaller bedroom space. I love these two options, the secretary desk will allow you to hide any clutter, and the alternate simple option is leather trimmed!

Crate & Barrel is another great go-to for furniture options. I have included a few basic options, a secretary option, and a tall option that will provide good storage. My favorite of these is the basic desk with the pop of color, and for under $200, you can’t beat it! (Left to right, top to bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Target is always bound to have a few good options as well, here are my two favorites. (Left and right.)

So, there you go! Back to school doesn’t have to be all bad for the kids, they might just get a new desk out of the deal!