Friday, 6 October 2017

We Bought A House!!!!!!!

Big news everyone! We bought a house in Portland! She's a 2-bed, 1-bath semi-fixer-upper from 1949 and we have lots of big plans for her. We get the keys tonight and are taking a long weekend to start putting our spin on the place right away! I can't wait to share our progress, but for now all I have to share is the real estate listing photos. Let's take a tour, shall we?

Here's the front of the house. We hate the color scheme and plan to paint it immediately (cross your fingers the Portland rain holds off just long enough for us!). It actually doesn't even look as bad in these photos as it does in real life--up close, it's a clear DIY paint job that should've been two coats but was only one. Plus....yellow and brown? Really? 

The tree/bush to the right of the door is blocking a window...definitely need to bring it down to size! We were also a bit worried about the state of the lawn initially, but the pics were taken during a very dry spell (they happen in Portland, I swear!) and the lawn has since bounced back.  So the front needs some zhushing but is overall in pretty good shape. 

We're planning to paint the house a slate-y teal blue with white trim, white garage door, and hopefully keep the wood door (it needs stripping and re-staining). 

Here's the front den, where you can see the window I said was covered up by the tree. Despite that, the room gets a lot of good light. We plan to make this the movie/library room with a cozy vibe. 

In this shot, you can see the white door to the laundry room and garage.

This is the view with your back to the front door. To the right are the guest bedroom (bright doorway you see here), master bedroom (behind the bookshelves), and bathroom (to the left of the guest room). 

See? Such happy light. And the floors are original!

Here's the small guest bedroom. Its the brightest room in the house since it's south and east facing. 

Small closet but it will work as a spare bedroom. 

And here's the master bedroom. Orange walls and boob light will be amongst the first things to go!

The closet is much smaller than our current shared closet, but the room itself is much bigger so we plan to get a dresser. We may install a sliding barn door or pocket door for the closet (the door on the right) to save more space. 

Here's the only bathroom. It's small, and the tub is angled so it takes up more space than it needs to.  We plan to gut this ASAP to make it more functional and will replace that window and its painted-on tropical scenery at that time ;) Until we have the funds for the reno, we'll be making some smaller changes like replacing that huge mirror with a smaller one plus shelves for storage since the sink doesn't provide any!

From the den, you next walk past the small kitchen. It's clean and functional, but long-term we would love to gut it and expand it into the sunroom (to the left in the photo). For now, we're planning on a makeover including ripping off the wood backsplash (???), tearing down the spice rack over the dishwasher, and adding a fresh coat of paint. We'll also replace the light and pendant and put new knobs/pulls on the cabinets. 

With your back to the kitchen, there's a wall with the door to this laundry room. The door you see in this photo leads outside, and there's another door to the left (out of photo frame) to the garage. 

Continuing on past the kitchen, you pass a large closet (seen in the left corner of the photo above) to the large living room. This room also gets really beautiful light!

Through the sliding doors is a sunroom that was added on to the house. That stove works and apparently heats the house really efficiently in the winter. We plan to use it over this winter and then decide whether to keep it or rip it out.

For some reason, when the sunroom was added to the house, they left the former exterior sliding glass doors and the frame (without window panes) to the former exterior window. We're hoping we can open this whole wall up eventually so the renovated kitchen, sunroom (which would then be used as a dining space), and living room form one large room. ("We're gonna rip down the wall between the kitchen and living room so we get a niiiiiice open concept..." -Southpark)

These floors were added at the same time as the sunroom. From this pic, it drives me nuts how they installed the flooring so uniformly rather than staggering it! Once furniture is in I'm sure it will be fine, at least until we replace the flooring when we renovate the kitchen years from now.

And here's the sunroom! In addition to being south and east-facing, they installed skylights, so this room is always flooded with light. The door to the right goes to the backyard. I want to add a cozy chair under that far window--wouldn't it be so nice to drink your coffee there on a Saturday morning??

So many weird cutout windows in this room! The one straight forward in this shot looks through to the kitchen, and the one to the right of that (to the left of the glass sliders) is the exterior window frame I mentioned before. The sunroom is bigger than it looks from the photos--we plan to put a dining table in under the kitchen window space. 

Here's the sunroom from the outside. In that L shape we plan to put in a deck. Barbecue baby!

The fully fenced yard was a major selling feature for us. Our dog will love all the extra room to play, and we imagine it to be a great space for whenever we decide to have kids. 

The yard features several ginormous trees that are simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. I love the shade they provide but will likely also live in perpetual fear of them toppling over on us!!

Another great feature of the property is that behind the back fence is an alleyway, so we don't actually have a rear neighbor. Long-term, we can imagine putting in a garage with a small studio apartment on the second floor of it for when we have visitors. Then we can convert our existing garage and laundry room into a master bedroom suite. 

So them's the new digs! What do you think?

Saturday, 16 September 2017

New House Shopping List

Vinny and I are thiiiiiiiis close to closing on a house (cross your fingers for us!) so naturally I've been window shopping to my heart's content. Here's what I've pulled together so far. Can't wait to show you all the house pics!

New House Shopping List

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Sequin Skirt for Work and Play!

Don't get me wrong, I love (LOVE) summer. But fall is really when my personal style hits its stride. Layers, textures, broad acceptance of a more neutral color palette...I love it all. I've been dreaming up some small tweaks to my closet lately and unexpectedly, a gold sequin skirt falls high on my list. As a generally not-flashy dresser, this may be surprising, but I've thought up all sorts of ways a gold sequin skirt could fit into my existing wardrobe.

I challenged myself to create a small capsule of sorts in which each outfit incorporated the skirt plus one item from the outfit before. I'd rock this skirt on the weekends in the following ways:

Casual Sequin Skirt

Surprisingly, I also thought of some ways the skirt could be worn to work. My personal favorite outfits are the pink ruffled shirt worn over a work staple--the white buttondown--and the cozy green cardigan with fun leopard heels:

Sequin Work Outfits

I bought this exact gold skirt (past season JCrew) on eBay but unfortunately it's too short an more brown than I was expecting. So the hunt continues!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Kelly Ventura Art: Quick Design

I recently came across the work of Kelly Ventura and fell in love with her vibrant floral work. I pulled together 4 quick designs of how you could use them in your home: a bathroom, living room, teen girl's room, and dining room. Enjoy!
Kelly Ventura quick design

Monday, 31 July 2017

Portland House Hunting

Guess what guys? We're house hunting! Well, to be more accurate, house scouting. Since we just paid for our wedding, we need to take a little time to refill the coffers for a down payment, but we've started poking around neighborhoods in Portland where we could see ourselves living.

We visited an open house for the cutest little home yesterday, and while we probably won't be able to pull the trigger on this house before it sells to someone else it sold within 3 days to someone else, it did get me excited thinking about the decor possibilities. I put together some design boards of how I'd decorate this house if I were lucky enough to call it my home:

Entryway and Office:
This house opens to a tiny entryway with a similarly tiny office space to the left: 

Brentwood Entry/Office

I'd start by painting the entry hallway with Benjamin Moore's Icing on the Cake. I'd add a pretty ceiling light, round mirror and narrow floating drawers, then finish it off with a hide rug that can take some wear and tear. 

In the office area, I'd fashion it into a bit of a library, but it would also need to serve as a drop zone for jackets and shoes. I'd add narrow bookcases around hooks and a boot tray on the shared office/entryway wall, the put a desk and comfy chair opposite that. This space would be a great spot to do a fun temporary wallpaper that you could glimpse from the living room. 

Living Room: 
The living room is small but gets great light! 

Brentwood living room

I'd start by painting the living room the same color as the entryway, a cool aqua color. Then I'd add a sofa on the window wall facing a console with the TV and some stools that can be pulled out for guests. I'd keep things bright and colorful, adding floating shelves around the TV to hold our artwork and plants, then a small end table and blanket ladder on either side of the sofa. In the corner by the office I'd add some closed storage and more art. 

Dining Area: 
Although small, the space between the living room and kitchen could be used as a dining area.
Brentwood Dining Area

There isn't much space, so I'd put a bench on the wall where you can see they have a dresser currently. I'd add a round table for better flow and two upholstered chairs that could be repurposed in the living room for guests. I'd finish it off with some room jewelry--a  pretty chandelier over the table.

For a small home, the kitchen is fairly sizable and in good condition.

Brentwood Kitchen

The kitchen is fine how it is, but a bit warm-toned for my taste. Replacing the orange floors with black and white tile (or maybe these gorgeous herringbone basalt tiles?) would cool things down a bit, then eventually I'd probably paint the upper cabinets white and the lower cabinets a dark teal color. I'd match the overhead light with the one in the entryway for continuity and add a narrow counter-height table for more prep space. 

The bathroom is the least updated space in the house, but it's very functional.
Brentwood Bathroom
I'd start by removing the mirror and replacing it with something a bit more interesting. Eventually I'd probably replace the vanity entirely, but for the time being it could be updated with some charcoal paint. I'd paint the wood window sash white (it's the only window sash in the house not painted), then go all Millenial Pink on the walls. Adding in black accessories with small hits of olive green will modernize the look.

Master Bedroom: 
The main bedroom is actually pretty generously sized, and I love the existing paint color. 

Brentwood Master Bedroom

I'd turn the bed 90 degrees from the window and add a small dresser under the window along with striped curtains. A rattan headboard would bring some nice texture, as would the gorgeous wool rug and velvet shams. I'd do a little pattern mixing with the floral duvet and dotted sheets, then flank the bed with simple end tables. Lastly I'd add some paintings by Clare Elsaesser over the headboard.

Guest bedroom:
This is definitely the biggest downside of this house--the spare bedroom is only 8x11ft. 

Brentwood Guest Room

To help maximize the floor plan, I'd use a daybed against the wall where they have their bed/desk combo. A fun rug draws attention to the pretty wood floors, and the rest of the space could be filled with mirrors and plants to bring a little life and light to the small space. 

What do you think? Would you ever live in 928 square feet? We currently live in 620, so 928 feels like a nice fit for us :)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Quick Design: Dark Floral Powder Room

Dropping by with a quick dark, moody powder room design! I found this giant floral mural on Etsy and couldn't resist pairing it with this dramatic ceiling light and the hot color of the year, blush pink. 

Quick Design: Powder Room

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Backyard Design Dreaming

Now that my wedding is over, I have brainspace to once again play around with design and other creative pursuits, not to mention more financial resources at my disposal!

Here's a little backyard design situation I dreamed up. All of the products are actually designed for outdoor (who else haaaates it when bloggers post images using indoor pillows outside? Like who's actually going to truck the pillows inside and outside depending on weather?? #aintnobodygottimeforthat).


That gingham umbrella is just so darn cute! What's your latest outdoor design find? 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Our Wedding Photos!!

Today I'm delighted to share photos of our wedding! We hired the amazing Grace and Jaden Photography, and all photos in this post are theirs. We loved working with them and loooooved our photos--they really captured the candid moments and the look and feel of our wedding. We didn't want forced, traditional wedding photos and Grace and Jaden were more than happy to oblige.

Weddings are notoriously expensive, and it was important to Vinny and me that our money was going towards small, local businesses whenever we could. We are also very active, outdoorsy people with a lot of respect for Mother Nature, so we were very thoughtful about the choices we made to try to lessen the environmental impact of our wedding. Lastly, we've fallen in love with Portland and wanted to help our guests (most of whom were traveling from out of state) understand just what makes this area so great.

With all of those things in mind, we held our ceremony at the Grotto, which is one of very few places in the US where you can get married in the Catholic church in an outdoor venue. The Grotto is drop-dead gorgeous and made for beautiful photos. All of our guests have been raving about what jaw-dropping venue it was!

We did a first look, which in retrospect was a great choice as I didn't realize how nervous I was to see Vinny until I was power-walking towards him! All of my nerves settled once we saw each other and I was able to really enjoy the rest of the day.

My dress was really the only one I considered, being the only one that made me feel like the bride version of myself rather than a stranger impersonating a bride. It didn't fit perfectly when I first got it, but I had a vision for it! I brought it to my seamstress, who made several tweaks: we narrowed the shoulder straps, dropped the back into a more flattering V, and added panels to the sides to fit my hips better. I bought the dress on eBay (from this shop) and was so happy with how effortless it was to wear all night--no tugging, no pulling, no Spanx or strapless bra required--just lots of dancing! :)

I'd recommend my seamstress, Tatyana's Wedding Alterations, to anyone. All of the reviews about her are accurate, in that her home is hard to find, her accent is hard to understand, you feel like maaaaaaybe she didn't really understand what you were asking for, but in the end she does a great job for a very reasonable price!
  • Eco tip: thrift/consign/ebay your dress! Some people don't love this idea but it was great for my budget and my eco-friendly values!

For my jewelry, Enclave Gems made me a custom pair of earrings so I could add my own aquamarines (Vinny's birthstone). I made the necklace myself loosely based on a design from Anthropologie that I loved but couldn't afford. I used  this smaller moonstone strandthis larger moonstone strandthese aquamarinesthese jump ringsthese clasps, and this magnetic clasp. I bought my brown leather wedges for our engagement photos and they still look brand new, so I rewore them at our wedding.
Vinny found his suit from a local Portland shop Well Suited, then he added the same aqua tie from JcPenney to match the groomsmen and a Blue gingham dress shirt from JCrew Factory. We both got our outfits pressed at Black Dry Cleaners, who did a great job.
  • Eco tip: buy local and get something he can rewear. Vinny actually wore his suit for the first time in our engagement photos, but it looked totally different for our wedding just based on his dress shirt and accessories.

Our flowers were designed by my wonderful mom! Although she lives half a country away, I wanted her to be a special part of our wedding planning. We decided to use faux florals for the bouquets so my mom could make them in Minnesota and bring them out. They were so beautiful and people didn't know they were fake unless they literally touched them! We got each piece from Afloral, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby, then my mom worked her magic. Half my bridesmaids took them home with them!

My 'something old, borrowed, and blue' all took the form of a handkerchief from my grandfather, who passed away several years ago. We tucked the handkerchief, which had blue stitching, into my bouquet and it came in handy during my dad's speech! :)

I loved how our bridal party looked together. We gave each bridesmaid a different fabric swatch from Azazie and asked them to just pick a long dress (from any store of their choice) that matched the swatch. I'm under no illusion that any of them will rewear their dresses, but at least they had the option to wear something in their chosen price point that made them feel comfortable and beautiful. From left to right: "Orchid": local bridal shop (similar), "Spa": Amazon (similar), "Jade": Azazie (note: although this is not a maternity dress, it fit my friend's six-month-pregnant belly really beautifully), "Ink Blue": Azazie, "Grape": David's Bridal (sold out, similar), "Wisteria": Azazie.

We did want the groomsmen to be able to rewear their wedding outfits (#reducereuserecycle) so we asked them to  wear a white dress shirt, black dress pants, black shoes, and black belt of their choosing, then we provided them with their tie. Our flower girl and ring bearer obtained their own outfits, but we provided the bow tie and suspendersDespite being worn by a very active 2yo boy, the suspenders stayed on surprisingly well!

For their gifts, I made each bridesmaid a custom piece of jewelry using the lost wax casting method I learned from a friend. It was so fun to think up how to personalize each gift to the recipient's style--a lot of love went into each gift! Vinny gifted the boys their ties and a nice thermos.

Vinny proposed with a beautiful recycled rose gold and white sapphire "Twisted" ring from Olivia Ewing (above). I made his wedding ring myself--it was really fun getting his input on it as I tweaked it!

Instead of buying a band to pair with my engagement ring, we designed a wedding ring together that I wear by itself (no band). We worked with Krista at Green Lake Jewelry Works, who somehow took our rambling requests and put together the most beautiful ring. We did almost the entire design process online, making only one quick stop to their Seattle store to make sure they were legit (which they totally were!). It was so much fun!
  • Eco tip: Diamond and gold extraction is highly damaging to the earth and the workers extracting them. We tried to alleviate this problem in four ways: used non-diamond stones (white sapphire for my engagement ring), lab-created stones (moissanite for my wedding ring), recycled diamonds (as accents to the wedding ring), and recycled metals (white gold for my wedding ring, rose gold for my engagement ring). On moissanite: it's a lab-created stone that's just slightly less hard than a diamond but with more brilliant refraction pattern that's prettier than a diamond, in my opinion. People don't know it's moissanite unless I tell them, which I make a point to do because I think it's a beautiful stone that helps avoid destruction of natural resources! 

My talented husband designed all of our paper goods (Save the Dates, programs, invites, wedding signage...) and his employer (he works at a graphic design/manufacturing company) graciously gifted printing and materials of everything to us. It was a fun process--I'd bring Vinny my ideas of what would look good, he'd put together his spin on the ideas, then we'd tweak until it felt just right!

We decorated the ceremony venue very simply, given the enormous beauty of the Grotto. We lined the aisle with a set of glass lanterns (large and small) which we filled with jade stones, a battery-operated candle (large and small), and the larger lanterns also received a large faux succulent

Although the Grotto was an amazing place visually to be married, I feel like I have to be honest in my review of them: overall they were the biggest stressor of our wedding by far. Their communication was very poor (I often had to send 3-4 emails over the course of a month before getting a response), and the coordinators they provided seemed intent on throwing up roadblocks rather than accommodations. I actually just found out yesterday that they never filed our marriage license with the county! To be continued on that nightmare... Because of all this bullshit incompetence, I honestly don't know if I'd go through the Grotto if we were to do it all over again.

After the ceremony the entire wedding headed to Urban Studio for the reception. The bridal party arrived in hilarious style, as we rented a bus from Eco Shuttle that ended up looking exactly like a city transit bus! Eco Shuttle was great and affordable.

For our centerpieces, we bought round 6" plastic planters that looked like terra cotta (similar), filled them with ferns, lavender, and astrid from our local Portland Nursery and topped them off with small jade pebbles.
  • Eco tip: cut flowers are incredibly destructive to the environment, especially if they're not local and in season. Instead of floral arrangements, we decided to use potted plants, many of which went home with friends and family at the end of the night, and the ones that didn't are beautifying our home. 
We used these candles with votives. They worked great and after 5 hours they were only burned maybe a quarter of the way through, so we are donating them to our church. Instead of your typical numbered table marker, we cut numbers for each place setting through Vinny's work. This allowed us to use our wedding colors without it ruining the nature-inspired look we were going for.
  • Eco tip: what you don't do is just as important as what you do. Originally we wanted to make coasters like these (#4 in the article), but ultimately we didn't think people would reuse them and they seemed too wasteful so we opted for a simple recyclable escort chart.
Lastly, I wanted a loose, textural fabric for our runners, so I bought cheesecloth off of Amazon.
  • Eco tip: before you buy an item, think about whether it can be reused later. We decided against certain types of fabric for the runners, favoring cheesecloth that will be reused in the kitchen and for cleaning/car maintenance.

I wanted our flower girl and ring bearer to feel special, so I made them little crayon/coloring book/sticker kits. I got these clipboards and added a DIY coloring book using line art from Google, then tossed some crayons in to these spice jars and tied it all up with a ribbon to look cute. Bonus: they brought them with on their flight home to keep the kids entertained.

For sweetheart table decor, we bought two of these faux eucalyptus garlands and wove in some faux ferns leftover from our bouquets. My mom made two floral accents from the leftover flowers from our bouquets, and we hung the garland with these Christmas light holders. We received two of these plant stands as a bridal shower gift, so we bought terra cotta planters and added plants from Portland Nursery.  On the floor we placed large terra cotta planters and filled them with the cutest lavender trees from Portland Nursery. Vinny bought plywood at Lowes and had his work cut the "M&V" sign out for us.

In lieu of a traditional guestbook we framed this stump print on Etsy; guests then signed the print's mat. The artist creates these stamped prints from slices of fallen logs. This particular tree fell in the Uinta mountains of Utah, where Vinny and I met and spent a lot of beautiful weekends camping.
  • Eco tip: put your own spin on traditions to make them work for you. We didn't think we'd ever use/look at an actual guest book, but we plan to hang our print in our house where we can enjoy it daily!

Aren't my parents the cutest??!

I came up with the idea of making these 'dance ambassadors' sashes, which ended up being one of the funniest parts of our wedding. People passed the sashes around the entire party and got people dancing who would normally sideline themselves :)

I can't close without mentioning the rest of our vendors, who were all amazing and we would recommend them to anyone!
  • Hair and Makeup: I worked with Jasmine and her assistant Amy from Blossom and Beauty. They were great--very sweet, relaxed people with really reasonable pricing for Portland. The bridal fee included a trial, which went so great and really put my mind at ease about how I would look on the big day. Then they came to my house to get everyone ready (so much more relaxing than going to a salon!) and got through my hair/makeup plus 5 bridesmaid's hair and a bridesmaid's makeup all between 9:30AM-12PM.
  • Reception venue and caterers: We held the reception at Urban Studio, which is the event space for our caterer Pearl Catering.  We researched a ton of caterers and event spaces and Urban ended up being the most affordable and easy option. The space itself is sort of an industrial blank space that you can really make your own. The food was delicious (people told me the Chicken Saltimbocca was the best wedding food they've ever had) and it was very easy to customize and to allow for specialized diets. They were very easy-going and overall very easy to communicate with. 
  • Rentals: Urban Studio provided most of the dishware (glasses, silverware, serveware) and they offered to arrange for the rest of our rentals, but we ended up using Party Place for our table/chair/linen/special plates because it was cheaper to do so through our wedding coordinator. Party Place was great. For a small fee ($60) they dropped off and picked everything up and they were even able to add on a tent canopy last-minute when it looked like there might be rain during our ceremony. 
  • DJ: We found DJ Sir Kenneth through our wedding coordinator, and he was very easy to work with. We met with him once briefly at the start of our planning then sent him a list of song requests a few days before the wedding. The dancefloor was packed the whole time and he was just really great and friendly!
  • Wedding Coordinator: Last but certainly not least, our wedding coordinator was Kim at Your Perfect Bridesmaid. If I had one piece of advice for newly engaged couples I'd say to factor a wedding coordinator into your budget, because she was hands-down the best money spent on our wedding and I honestly can't say enough good things about Kim and her staff. They say every wedding has something go wrong, but if that happened at ours I didn't know about it because Kim dealt with everything beautifully. Her fee is very reasonable for the amount of work she did. We hired her as a 'day of' coordinator, but the package included several meetings during the planning stage including a meeting with Urban Studio to ensure we were all on the same page. She also set our timeline (which I could probably do myself but it saved me a ton of stress and deliberation about whether I did it correctly) and we received a discount on our rentals through YPB, which made her reasonable fee even more reasonable!
All in all it was truly a perfect day; we keep saying we want to do it all over again in slow-motion! Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our wedding :) For more inspiration, check out my wedding Pinterest board.