The funny thing about Homegoods…

….and agreeing to help a friend pick out curtains, is that it can go one of two ways:

  1.  Boring, indecisive, wishy-washy and tears of frustration OR
  2. you pick the right friend, incorporate wine and have a few laughs and get something accomplished all at the same time.

I get this text one day…image

“Nice”, I say. “What else?”. She texts, “That’s where you come in.  You’re good at that, please help me.” hahahahah!! Yes, I do have a lot of experience when it comes to color combos, setting a room, and finding things online…BUT…I’ve always wondered how good I can be at not pushing too much of my own taste on someone who needs a little direction. I guess you can say it’s kind of like styling clothes, but with clothes you’re dealing with body type, fit and personality and function; all variables that narrow the choices a bit. Rooms have the same to do list too as far as fit, function and personality BUT I feel like there’s more room for pushing my own agenda here. Ha!

So why not start with someone who has the balls to tell you you’re nuts or on the other hand, also trust your wildest instincts because she’s seen you at your worst (bathroom on 21st birthday) and best (wedding day)?

The before is simple. Let’s make this makeover a sleepover too! so we start in the backyard with some Rosé and a catch up chat. imageimage

Then we pawn the kids off with her hubs and haul on down to Homegoods in search for curtains and a wall hanging that she fell in love with.

Wellllll, The wall hanging wasn’t as perfect as she remembered and we both fell in love with another piece that was way over budget. So, in a frenzy and a little giggly with rosé brain, we are immediately distracted by THIS… Like, where in the world does this fit in the suburbs of PA? They may need to transfer it across the bridge to a Jersey store…image

Ok after making quite a few friends over this piece, (including a fellow Jersey girl), we get back on task. She already has a few mirrors that she’d like to hang on the wall between the windows so I suggest a mirror over the couch. Now we’re cookin. Mirror in tow, and still making friends, she tells me all about these curtains she loves. And they are lovely.

And tan. And white.

Here’s where my bossy comes in. If you tell me you want to add color and pop, you can’t go with the curtains that are tan and white. And that couch is such a pretty shade of blue. It’s begging for some color to join it in the room. And she’s still giggly about that ferris wheel thing, not to mention the rosé. So I go for broke. Here:image

Note: I am holding those neutral ones off to the side now because clearly, I win and am making a case for COLOR again. We even got some of our new ferris wheel friends to approve. Here we go before she changes her mind, swiftly to check out. Not really sure if the mirror will fit in the car but whatever. We are invincible and our new friends will totes help out if needed. We’re a suburban shopping strip side show. Rosé. 

imageThe stars align and the mirror fits. We go back and eat a fabulous dinner and stay up chatting all night…and completely forget about the room. image

So the next night I get a text…motivation set in and she’s off. All she needed was a little bossy push.

She starts simple by hanging those mirrors as instructed. But those curtains, I’m getting worried as they lay on the arm of the couch…Will she change her mind?? image

And then a few days later I am giddy (no Rosé this time) with glee.. We have a transformed room .imageimageimage

Now all she needs is a little table and possibly a chair. I haven’t told her yet that I really would adore it if the chair was the chatruse color from the curtains and that the table was oval and mid-century style like the sofa and maybe on the gold metallic side of the fence… In my head it’s all working but that’s the problem. No one, not even a bestie can see all the colors working inside my head until I physically walk them through Homegoods after a glass of Rosé.

Cheers to seeing the world through rosé glasses…


xo friends!


Phase 3…because tween is a stupid word

A while back, like while potty training my 2nd child, I posted something on Facebook to the effect of:  “Potty training sucks. And to all you moms who tell me I will miss this someday I say…I will NEVER miss the poop. ”

Now, While I don’t exactly miss the poop, The idea of being in charge of someone’s whole day from start to finish, including personal hygiene, was shall we say MUCH easier than what lies ahead 10 years later.

I still have a 5 year old so not all is lost on controlling the majority someone’s day and I am occasionally needed in the loo but let me break down what’s been swirling around my (and many of my friends- don’t lie) heads lately.

Phase 1: Baby. The first baby, a baby boy, so unreal and foreign and cute and amazing and hard and sleepless, and messy and traumatizing and expensive and crazy and….NO. I wish I would’ve realized how awesome and I’m gonna say it…easier it was while it was happening. Which is why I enjoyed the second one’s first year much better.

Phase 2: toddler to little kid. so much running and bending and standing and running and playing and cleaning and running. BUT, you’re still happy to be out of the baby phase and they’re totally cute and it didn’t matter if the f-bomb flew out of their mouths at age 3 because it was soo f-ing cute. And as they get bigger like 7 thru 9 it’s all still cute (but not the f-bomb analogy anymore), playing with legos, and light sabers and making friends and talking about pokemon cards, and learning how to play sports for real but still just caring about the ice cream after the game.

Phase 3: I started to really miss babies about 4-6 months ago.

Whether or not you see it coming it literally happens over night. The bedroom door is closed as they are getting ready for school or anything.  They have an actual opinion about things and know stuff. Like smart stuff, history and math and science and they are not at all afraid to tell you when you are wrong. They lean in for a hug in stead of run into your arms.

And they are most likely staring at a screen of some kind for 60% of their waking hours. You can try and take the various devices away but you are also probably staring at one yourself so….you pick the argument you’d rather have. Also:

Dear Black, you bought them those devices. Love, Kettle.

On the other hand, Phase 3-ers still really love you too and they are not ready to fully let go of the Legos and Pokemon cards yet, and will still ask to sleepover in your room with little sis when dad is away. So there’s still time I realize to remember these little things before I forget. (as first depicted in the Baby Phase of baby #1)

So out of the blue I found this book that was recommended by one of my favorite Blogs



It’s about remembering the times that are happening before you forget them. Like, in the moment kind of stuff. Stuff I started to finally watch for with my 5 year old when I left my old career and started spending more time with her. It’s harder with the Phase 3-ers because they’re not home as much… Sports, activities and friends pull them away after school and weekends. But the book talks about even when you’re waiting for them in the car at the field or school, watch that time and remember it before you forget to.

Imma gonna try.

I also recently gave my Phase 3-er a room makeover. So  It’s been a while since it looked like this but here’s how we started in Phase 1:


I think I should mention this was back before iPhone pics were the norm and also back when I (ehem..) actually scrapbooked. I mean come on. Little miss Eloise was lucky to get a few pics a month shared over Facebook.  Don’t feel too bad though, she holds her own now…and usually runs the show.

Back to the new room for my Phase 3-er. We, no I,  went to the paint store and brought home swatches. He picked a fantastic color. I spent 13 hours painting the ceiling 3 times and the walls twice. We kept the furniture he had since big boy room makeover in Phase 2 and the Pottery Barn bedding I thought was so necessary to a 4 year old’s bedroom six years ago; thank God I didn’t pick out a character theme back then or soccer wouldn’t be the only thing that costs $900…he walked in when it was all done and said “cool, thanks”.

We also scaled back on the amount of things he had taped and pinned to the wall in the past 2 years and came to a compromise. We did not let go of all those Lego creations, some of which took days to finish. We’re both not ready yet. So I made showcase cubes out of an ikea unit and added colorful backing. Below are the results of the Phase 3 makeover:


we kept the dream catcher and bean bag chair from Phase 2 but updated the curtains


waiting for dad to build him a desk. stay tuned to my insta! in the mean time, a basket for the electronic devices and chargers


we kept the couch from Phase 1, and the Lego shelf is perched on the dresser


Star wars is still VERY IMPORTANT


Books that sometimes take a second place to the internet


LEGOs and awards….and deodorant


Bulletin board full of important artwork, friends messages and homework

So for now I think this will suffice for the perfect Phase 3-er escape. Most times it looks like this but at least I still can barge in whenever I want. image

Apparently watching British teens play video games instead of actually playing them yourself is a thing. And, being the best big brother that he could be…Little miss E is still welcome to hang. image

Phase 3-er in the making.

xo friends!



march madness

Well, since my Disney Coma I’ve been skitzing out on posting anything. First of all, winter is very uninspiring to me personally, and I don’t really ever want to spread my negativity or bad mood on this blog. You’re welcome. We finally got away to celebrate both 40th b-days (a year later because of last year’s broken arm mishap), and our upcoming 15 year wedding anniversary! Paradise was nice while it lasted…

But, eventually, you have to come home and get through the rest of the winter…so I found a new hobby..image

That’s where we are at. Things are looking up in the Northeast, thanks to that groundhog who didn’t see his shadow. Thanks Phil! So with warmer weather ahead, I always get inspired to tear things apart, make some good messes and create again.

Ya know when you go to Target and buy a can of gold metallic paint just because, and then 4 months later decide it’s time to use it somewhere? Oh, that’s just me? huh.

So that can of paint chose the inside of the front door to live. The white door was starting to get really dirty and I knew that it needed tending to, so instead of touching it up like  normal person would do, I went ahead and painted it gold. Now, I’m not completely random as I do have “some” experience with color stories etc…

I wanted to bring together all the warmth surrounding the white door. With the dark hardwood floor,  mustard walls in the dining room and the gold touches in the surrounding artwork, curtains and rug, gold seemed to be a good option. And, hey, I already had the paint! Here’s the progression..imageimageimageimageimage

Three coats and some touch up later…image

Feeling accomplished and happy to have used the paint finally.

Moving on…Of course I went to the flower show again this year and was so happy to be with my family girl squad and to be among all the beautiful exhibits.

And of course I had to purchase some succulents for my mantle. They are so cute and easy to take care of. I’m still loving the green groupings for a Spring mantle look. Thanks to Terrain for the inspiration. image

Also, I’ve been needing a new spring wreath for some time but haven’t had any new ideas. Thanks to the dried floral booth at the Flower Show I got just what I needed. And instead of the usual Pinterest or FB time suckers during lunch on Monday, I made a big old mess with dried flowers on my family room floor. Here’s what I came up with..(15 minutes total labor).

Sometimes all you need is a little warm weather, a few good spin classes and a night out with the girls to give you a push in the creative direction.

Happy Spring!  xo friends!!image

Disney Coma

That’s me this week. There is no way to go to Disney World for 7 days and REALLY do Disney with 10 people (6 adults and 4 kids), without returning and morphing into a coma-like, alternate reality state. Like, wait, that’s not real life down there in Orlando? Dammit. Nope it’s not. But if you go into it with vigor, and keep up the stamina for the entire week (therefore resulting in a “happiest place on earth” high), you will not only have a good time but will need to sleep for 14 days after. AND, in real life, with kids, that’s just not possible.

So I go from this:image

To this:image

Trying to keep my inspiration, up while dealing with a slow business week, and getting into routines again, post “holi-daze”. Looking back, it’s been almost a full year since my fall, and recovery which eventually lead to changing my entire life around by choosing to work from home with the family business.  I’ve been through the initiation phase, the working while kids are home for the summer phase, the busy phase and the super duper busy phase. I’ve also enjoyed my first holiday season away from retail. Next phase, a slowwwwwww winter month or 2. Hopefully not too slow. Time to read, learn more about what I’m doing and make a list of goals for the coming year. Please God, for both my husband and my sake, let this pass quickly. Ha! We both aren’t very good with down time.

Anyway, I felt the need to make something pretty after coming back to a non-decorated and sterile house. You see, when I put all the Christmas decor away, I didn’t do ANYTHING to replace it. I like a clean slate in January.

With fresh eyes and some new Moroccan glass purchased while in “Morocco” (Epcot), I thought I’d start with the mantle. There were a few pics I pinned that inspired me to put all the small plants I had currently in the kitchen, on the mantle. To “green” up the Family  Room, like it doubles as a winter greenhouse. I do need to purchase more, probably of the succulent/cactus variety, because as I’ve said before, I kill plants.

Here’s a peak at my happy little January mantle “installation”imageimageimage

some vintage milk glass mixed in with the new Moroccan glass…imageimageimage

You should know that the plant above has survived 6 years now…I’m quite proud.

Hope this gives you a little inspiration to “green” things up in hopes for a quick and painless 2 months of winter…

xo friends!imageimage


ex*pert vs. ex*periment

Everyone’s an expert at something. Whether it’s a skill, a career or a hobby, everyone has a thing that they do the best. It is usually something that is practiced over time or done very often, hence why someone who has a job or hobby for a while, can become an expert in that field. Maybe it’s open heart surgery, or pitching a no-hitter, or making an incredible lasagna. However large or small, important or trivial, it’s your thing and it’s something to be proud of.

I used to be an expert in decorating 200k sq ft of retail space for the holidays with about 35 volunteers in under 8 hours. Yep. But I am not using that expertise or skill for the first time in 15 Novembers and I’m glad for the break but I do miss being an expert in something that causes so much joy. These days I feel like the only thing I’m an expert in anymore is cleaning the house in under 2 hours, largely relying on Clorox wipes and Febreez. 😉 I’m not complaining. I’m stating facts. I still have much to learn in this new business adventure I’m on; co-owning an established small business that my husband started from scratch. I’m slowly getting it. I’m getting into a groove, a routine, and every so often de-railing into a spiral of crazy when I don’t know an answer and have to teach myself something when there is no one around to ask. But that’s all part of my charm. Working from home is ALIEN to me. But it has many benefits, two of them being a clean house and happy kids getting off the bus and immediately messing it up. Ha!

So, when I have some down time I like to feed my creative side by doing more of what I know like the back of my hand. That being, moving shit around and making the best use of space while keeping it aesthetically pleasing to the (namely, my) eyes.

What was next on my home invasion? Well, first I cleaned out every closet, the basement, and even the crawl space. I donated 17 bags of things collected over the past 14 years to Purple Heart and moved on. No time to try to sell anything. That would require patience and having things sit around here longer. I have a little rule (I know, I’m full of little rules). I try to keep it but life sometimes gets in the way:image

Regardless, I feel like that’s more true now, 17 bags of crap lighter.

Next up, the office space. The room as you enter our home hasn’t changed since we moved in 11 years ago, furnished with late 1990’s, brown, shelf heavy furniture and a GOD-awful office chair that my husband swore was soooo comfy. Well, since he doesn’t frequent that chair anymore, it was time for it to GO. I do no have a before pic because we re-did the room so fast and also I didn’t want to document it forever on the internet….use your imaginations friends. Below are some pics I pinned for inspiration. Check out more on my Pinterest board (FC Headquarters). Follow the link to my Pinterest at the side of the page.

I created a board for the project to get me inspired and to hone in on what we wanted the space to feel like color wise and style wise. Decisions had to be made like, if we don’t have file cabinets anymore, where does all the paperwork go? What kind of chair for the desk? What kind of desk? What could the room double as when we weren’t working in it?

a little too feminine for my other half but it was a starting place.

a little too feminine for my other half but it was a starting place.

we decided a long wooden desk and a comfy chair. The desk doesn't have to be the focal point of the room.

we decided a long wooden desk and a comfy chair. The desk doesn’t have to be the focal point of the room.

a structured and classic but soft grey and still comfy couch.

a structured and classic but soft grey and still comfy couch.

over the desk, matching wooden shelving with plumbing hardware acting as brackets.

over the desk, matching wooden shelving with plumbing hardware acting as brackets.

We decided that we wanted more seating in the house for when we had guests over or parties and if we had a small couch and a little table it wouldn’t have such a stiff office feel. Also, when we both are working from home, there would be room for 2 to work.

So, after some inspirational pinning we headed to Home Depot and Home Goods. I am lucky enough to have a husband who can make wooden tables like no one’s business. Actually, there is not much that he can’t do. He’s one of those people who succeeds at whatever he sets his mind to. Not to say that it’s for lack of hard work. He is relentless about getting stuff right when learning something new. At times his intensity at which he throws himself into projects and work is frustrating but most of the time inspiring. It’s something I’m sure our kids will benefit from and he pushes me too to do the same with stuff I’m interested in doing. I’m just more of a “know a little about a lot of things” multitasker kind of social butterfly…That’s why we work.

Here are some of the after pics of the room.

pretty close...AND of course I repurposed some pillows

grey couch. check. we got pretty close…AND of course I repurposed some pillows


desk. check.

Desk creation. check. It’s pretty right? Still waiting on the shelves. Winter project. Life gets in the way of creating sometimes…

leather ottoman that serves as a table, and storage inside

Leather ottoman that serves as a table, and lots of storage inside. We swapped a  brown leather for grey leather chair. We already owned both, just switched rooms. The brown one we previously had in the office now lives in the family room.

Oh. Hello, not so ugly office chair.

Oh. Hello, not so ugly office chair.

Oh, and do you think I picked out that cow-hide throw on the floor? Think again. My love for all animal prints has rubbed off onto my husband. But I will take credit for the lovely mirrored tray that of course I put a Diptique candle on. A classic and oh so lovely Tuberose scent. DSC_0771


I had to add a little vintage to the desk too. This caddy used to house some of my bracelets. Don’t worry, the bracelets have a new home just as pretty. Duh. DSC_0762

Like I said we all have our niches; our expertise. Practice makes perfect and I intend to continue making the most of our space until I run out of space and have to move on to other people’s spaces. Friends will be first. Watch out. I’m bossy. I will continue to learn my new role too; I can take on two or more things at once, I’m a freaking mom remember?

Although we all can dream:image

Just kidding. (well, not really) xo friends!


as bright as the sun.

WAKE UP KIDS!!!! Mommy’s got a new paint color for your bathroom and it ain’t Celedon Green.

I do not shy away from color, not in my wardrobe or in my home. Some people joke, (well many people joke), that I don’t own anything black. Yes I do. They just happen to be a pleather pair of pants and a tulle skirt. to each his own. I love color, and am most energized in spaces of amazing color combinations. image

In the past few years I have kept to the downstairs interior theme of neutral/ grey on walls and pops of color on accessories, balanced by dark woods. The initial re-do was done all at once and I’ve just kept updating and adding along the way. Upstairs is a different story because I’ve been redo-ing one room at a time and each room really belongs to a different personality. My 5-year old girl, my 10-year old boy, my closet/office situation, and last but not least, the master bedroom —- desperately in need of a RE-DO.

Then there’s the guest/kids bathroom. It’s been this kid themed animal situation for a few years now and I’m sick of it and it’s blue walls. I’m going to pretend that the kids are sick of it too. I need a drastic, drastic change in there, and since I’m not in the position to replace the counter or tub yet, I chose to completely re-do the color palette.

I’ve always been drawn to orange but never for interiors really. Recently, I pinned some pretty fun color palettes including this happy color and I was inspired. So with the permission of my son ,(I had to ask at least), I went on a 3 day journey to transform the Turquoise to Orange, Hot pink and Navy blue.

Oh hey Hermit Crab, I'm about to set these walls on fire.

Oh hey Hermit Crab, I’m about to set these walls on fire.







Hmmmm I always kick myself for using the paint with the primer in it. IT SUCKS. every. single. time. (I should've known better as a retired VM shhh)

Hmmmm I always kick myself for using the paint with the primer in it. IT SUCKS. every. single. time. Way too thick and fast drying. (I should’ve known better as a retired VM shhh)

2 1/2 coats and 2 days later. (You try and accomplish a project like this during soccer season in less than a week. )

2 1/2 coats and 2 days later. Whatever. YOU try to accomplish a project like this during soccer season in less than a week.

Now we add in the pink. But not before freaking out that the whole thing is a mess and looks stupid and like CRAP. I can’t go back now because what do you paint over the crazy orange?!?! So I start adding in accessories before the walls are actually dry because that’s what we used to do in the windows at work.

Earth to Carin, you are not working inside a 9x6x12 box and you do not have to unveil this at 10am open of business. Old habits….

Hot pink trim in progress

Hot pink trim in progress…interrupted by hanging some black and white canvas of the kids as “littles”

adding the shower curtain because I needed to see the blue RIGHT NOW.

adding the shower curtain because I needed to see the blue RIGHT NOW.

After the panic passed and I could see how the pink and blue were actually going to pan out in real life and not those stunning Pinterest photos, I could then complete the pink and add yet another coat of orange. AAAAAAND, touch up all the orange spots on the ceiling 😉

4 coats and one leopard robe later....

4 coats and one leopard robe later….

Side note on the curtains… I originally hung a white cafe curtain tied back with orange ribbon. I HATED it; so much so that you guys don’t get to see it. Anyway, it didn’t work because even though there is a lot of color in here already and one would think, “keep it simple, we need more white.”, it was too stark and bright white. It was an eyesore. A focal point that I didn’t want to be the focal point.

So after looking for curtains online and remembering that I can’t stand regular curtains, (no offense), I ran to Joanne Fabrics on day 5 to get a few yards of fabric to do something with. I know. I’m complicated and crazy. BUT, I was never going to find the color/pattern combo in the allotted time in my head, which was the next 24 hours, that made me happy in the way of a real curtain.

The thing is if you really spent some time investigating, you’d find that my home is a series of temporary “window displays”. Nothing is all that permanent and that’s the point. That’s pretty much the reason that I never feel bad about changing things up like once a year or even more often than that. As long as it looks permanent but is super easy to part with, everyone wins; my ever-changing color palette taste, my bank account…everyone.

I needed to find a smaller pattern in the same blue that had some white in it, which I did in the way of a small polka-dot pattern. Then I thought it would be nice to incorporate a bit more pink since that was really only in the trim, so I found a pretty, not too feminine pink pattern. I wanted to cover the tension rod ugliness so I just wrapped the blue around it and then tied up, yes, tied up the panel of pink. I hung one more tension rod to the lower half of the window and just hung the rest of the blue dot fabric over; folded in half. No sewing, no drilling, no nailing, no pins or staples. staples? Yes, I have been known to do this on occasion. We are done. 2 yards fabric for $11 and a pair of scissors.

faking it

faking it

I did purchase some pom-pom ribbon from Joanne’s too…becasue it was asking me to buy it, all fuzzy and vintagey looking…so I hung it from the mirror I’m not ready to replace yet. That wasn’t enough so I added some blue garland from the ceiling. Full party mode at 7am now for the kiddos. You’re welcome.

every morning is a party

every morning is a party


wash your little faces

wash your little faces

brush your teeth!!

brush your teeth!!

and take care of your hermit crabs!

and take care of your hermit crabs!

XO friends!image

January Mood Swings

Not in such an excellent mood tonight. Back to work tomorrow. Well, I would have been in a better mood had I not spent the last 5 days sick as a dog. And completely in denial about being sick as a dog for the first 3 days of being sick. So I did too much. So it goes. Doesn’t matter, if I was at work I probably wouldn’t have stayed at home anyway.

So I thought I’d just jot down some happy thoughts to try to get me out of this funk (by 5am tomorrow) so I can start my work year off with a good attitude. Hey, I always said this blog would be honest right? Let’s see If I can happy myself up a bit in the next few paragraphs. Warning: this post will be random . No real theme here. A couple of mini ones…

First: I did some semi crafty things in the past 12 days that made me smile.  The disclaimer here is that I tend not to “craft”. I decorate, rearrange, create, but no crafting skills. I’m way too impatient and don’t like sticky messes. Also, as I’ve said before Pinterest is the devil. I love it but I can not with the crafts.

“craft” #1: My new years eve kids selfie station.

Minimal work, some dollar store glitter, garland and props but it did the trick. Kids made it work, PJ’s and all.

image image image image image


“craft” #2 my first ceramic attempt

So you go to these places and the possibilities are endless. It seems simple, you choose something and paint it. Well.

Do you choose something to give as a gift and make it super personalized and special? Do you choose something decorative for your home and hope that it comes out looking like more than a kid’s craft? Do you choose something practical that may be of some use and still be pretty to look at? OR do you (NO) do as the lady working there says and “ooh take a look at our inspiration board on Pinterest!” Alice, you will never come out of that rabbit hole before they close the studio.

I choose practical. A simple berry bowl. It’s square so it’s not tricky. I picked a bright orange and was assured that after it was fired up it would be bright orange. I haven’t picked it up yet so we shall see…..but I kind of like the way it turned out. Simple, but quirky.

mmm only 5 months till Jersey Strawberries…

image image image


I received a really sweet and fun gift to kick off the “year of 40” the other day that I thought I’d share because it was truly personal, crafty, creative and thoughtful and I wish I would have thought of it first. Because, I will be trying to fill the fun and thoughtful 40-year-old gifts SEVERAL times this year. (you all know who you are).


I want to do a post on gift giving soon, I need to collect more thoughts and pics on what I’m getting at and how to really know what the receiver may want. I’ve been working on gift giving for a while. I think I’m getting pretty good at it. It’s not about the amount spent. It’s certainly not about what YOU may like. It’s about the other person.  These were 2 that really made me smile because I get to look at them everyday on my desk and smile when I think of the giver and how they know me so well. I still have to get an amazing frame for the print but all those things are my favorites. And I love the visual reminder.

DSC_0045 DSC_0041 DSC_0040

Finally this was a shot from today, late afternoon. My little “Eloise” reading me her Fancy Nancy book under the twinkling lights while I went down that rabbit hole I like to call Pinterest.image

Happy Monday. I feel much better now.

babe, where’d you put the coffee table?

Last Friday night to Saturday afternoon: The hubs was going fishing. Soccer for the little one was cancelled Saturday am. Nothing to do but B-day party at 4pm for the oldest. There hasn’t been a Friday night/ Saturday combo of no plans pretty much since Easter. That meant I had 22 hours.

Kids needed a day to veg in the basement with their toys and tv. They could care less about doing anything this given Saturday. Remember, we are the typical suburban over scheduled family of four.  We all needed a recharge. I needed a day to re-merchandise. I was getting the itch. I had just cleaned the day before. It all started when I looked at the bookshelf in my husbands office. I didn’t like the way it was angled anymore. And I didn’t like the pictures that were on it. And furthermore, I wanted that coffee table he made last winter to live in the family room now. Right now.

I can’t explain this need to switch things up. I blame it on my profession. In visual merchandising you are paid to move stuff around; all the time. And you’re also expected to know what will look good, and where; wether it be furniture, fixtures, clothes, lights, carpets, you name it. It’s also getting to that time of year where #1 I’m inside the house more and #2 I’m getting ready for  holiday installation (at work AND at home). Time to clean up all the clutter and get stuff where I want it because pretty soon there will be a big fat tree in the family room and garland hanging off of every post and staircase. I truly love Christmas but working retail can make you a tad jaded about the holiday rush so I like to be methodical about making things at home festive for the family. It’s really all about the kids and building that excitement and making memories. In order to do that with a good attitude, I need a fresh palette.

So I thought I’d share a few pics of the process. Some are before and after and some are of the mess during the making. The lesson here is that I didn’t spend any $$ to make things look fresh and new. (well I bought a cork board for my daughter’s room but it’s not in these pics so it doesn’t count). I simply moved things around from room to room, consequently making things look new.

I’ll start with the upstairs hall.

hallway upstairs before: wire baskets, vintage chair and antique suitcases

Hallway upstairs before: wire baskets, vintage chair and antique suitcases.

after: moved some pics from staircase, removed the chair and replaced with small table (formerly in the powder room)

After: moved some pics from the staircase, removed the chair and suitcases and replaced with a small table (formerly in the powder room).

Ok here’s where the trickle down effect happens. Try and follow the mess:

below: The chair from above now lives in the foyer with a lantern that was in the family room and a print that used to be in the kitchen.

after: the chair now lives in the foyer with a picture that used to be in the kitchen ps- this print I had made on etsy last christmas. It has all our birthdays and our wedding day. cute right?

PS I ordered the above key print on Etsy as a house Christmas present last year. It lists all our birthdays as well as our wedding day. Cute right?

So what happened in the kitchen when I took down that key print from the pic above? wellll…. I replaced it with what used to be on the wall as well as some of what was on this wall:

downstairs hall

downstairs hall

and voila:


Confused and dizzy yet? Here’s what was happening in real life while the kids went about their business….


many, many vases on the table while Elles Belles  attempts to eat lunch.

Many, many vases on the table as Elles Belles attempts to eat lunch.

So you see those oars hanging behind my sweet, sassy 4-year-old? I have  an idea. Lets move them to the family room and make a boat themed art wall.

I already had a collage over the couch. It was just a matter of rearranging, adding and subtracting a few. I took away the family pics (relocated them of course) and replaced them with boat pics; some purchased, some I took on various trips and a few vintage signs. Then I hung the oars to the left. (not pictured)


Above: the collage before. yes I know THAT one is crooked. I bumped into it right before I snapped the pic. No time to fix it people. Its coming down anyway. 😉

Tip: I always lay out my collages on the floor before I commit to the wall. I can play around with the composition and get it right before nailing into the wall. We could talk all day about composition. Basics though: measure your space before hand, make sure that you have some sort of balance, and odd #’s work better in most cases.

Disclaimer: (my lovely sister-in-law and fellow Visual Merchandiser can attest to this. I do put more holes in the walls with all this movement. But I am a master of disguise and pretty much cover up any old holes by covering them with stuff…hence the reason we do this when no other grown ups are in the house. Right Suz?)


playing around



Hey, I almost forgot, this all started because of that table I wanted to put on the family room. Well, I wanted it to live next to this grey chair.



and I did a swaperoo…. the above trunk now lives in the office and I have the custom wood coffee table in the family room!

recognize those suitcases?

recognize these suitcases?

Don’t be afraid to re-merchandise your home once in a while. There are no rules. It’s your space and it should make you feel happy, comfortable, reflect your personal style and showcase your favorite things. Remember how it felt to register for new stuff before your wedding? And how it felt to set all that new stuff up in your new home/ apartment? When you rearrange, it can give you the same kind of charge. I often find that when I do this I get to look back at old pics as I move them around and smile at memories made along the way. We collect so much over the years of making a home and family.

I love this quote and I often refer to it when I’m looking to get rid of stuff or rearranging. Hope it inspires you as well! xo friends!


oh and also… I saw this and was like, Um.. yeah. Agree? Ha!


unfinished business

My closet…where to begin. When we bought our first home in 2001, there was 1 closet in the entire house. It was a cape cod style dating back to 1901 and so very charming. But there was one closet, in the only bedroom. It was very small and I had to get creative. My husband and I shared the closet. I also had things stashed in the 1901 basement in plastic containers, up in the attic on a rolling rack and under the bed to name a few places.

Listen, I’m not saying I spend a lot of money on expensive clothes, shoes etc; quite the opposite. I don’t like to look like everyone else so I don’t buy a lot of “branded or designer” pieces. Also, I’m a somewhat of a bargain hunter and a vintage lover and collector (mostly 40’s-60’s and some 80’s)…BUT I have been working in fashion/ retail for the past 23 years so I have developed quite a collection.

You can imagine my surprise and delight when discovering inside the house we live in today that the previous owners turned an entire bedroom into a closet. When we were deciding whether or not to purchase, the owners brought up the option to have the “closet” disassembled. HELLS NO, (well I didn’t say that but close). In my calculations we were going to have 2 kids at the max, and most of our family and friends live locally (sorry Cali cousins and NC friends :)) and we would figure out sleeping arrangements when the time for visits arose. So that “bedroom”? Mine. Plus I was 4 months pregnant at the time and no one was arguing with me.

So I got my very own room. Fast forward through 5-8 years and 2 kids later, it became a little unorganized and a catch-all for some extraneous things such as my son’s keepsake bin and lots of file containers of old stuff (photos, wedding remnants, things that my mom made me take out of my parents house dating back to high school). I decided to do a thorough reorganizing and ditching of pack ratty things as well as really condensing my clothes to what I truly wear. Side-note from an earlier post: If you haven’t worn it in 2 years. LET IT GO. Unless of course it has real sentimental value. So, after the purge I was left with mint green walls that I thought were too juvenile and wire racks that were boring the hell out of me.


I wanted more for the room. I wanted it to be a space that I could work, read, write, and fool around with creating outfits in (yeah I still do this at 39 years old, it’s part of the job and quite therapeutic.. OK?!). Oh, and I also wanted to be able to take the occasional 7 minute nap in it.

I didn’t want to spend a lot (or any) money and I have like 5 minutes a week to work on it. So I started one day by literally ripping the wire closet racks out of the walls, spackling and then standing back and thinking OK well now I really HAVE to do something. Clothes etc. were strewn on the floor and I worked one night at a time on this for about 3 months. Luckily (for my closet project but not for real life) we had the worst winter in history last year and snow kept us in so I could finish for the most part.

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These were my inspiration pics. (pinterest is the DEVIL)

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I think I got pretty close to my original vision though. The only thing I purchased was paint. I chose dark navy walls, white trim and for the closet inside the closet, a muted lilac. I placed my old haphazard flea market desk, and $1 garage sale curved wood chair (all bought in the 90’s), in the actual “closet” and created a little nook to hold all my business; bills, stationary, to do lists, and some pretty things to look at like my son’s hand print form preschool and gorgeous coffee table books about fashion that no one in this house cares about but me. To the side of the white desk I used an old cd rack to hold books I’ve read and part of my vintage bag collection. I backed that up with the longer hanging garments like maxi skirts and long sundresses.

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A little tip: Use your stuff. Don’t be afraid to move some furniture (like the little stuff- chairs, desks, lamps), around the house from room to room. This is how you get away with re-creating and not spending extra $$. Also, go into that basement, garage or attic. Dig through the crap. You may find a bin or basket or chair that can look great in a new space with or without a new coat of paint. I can’t count the number of times my husband has come home to find that Everything in the house had been repurposed, furniture  been moved and pictures on the wall completely rearranged, with no money spent. It’s called re-merchandising your home. Do it. It’s fun. You can fool all your friends. 

Back to the closet. Next, there’s the racks that I kept for my hanging: shirts, sweaters, jackets, skirts, pants. Of course because I’m a merchandiser, they are left to right, light to dark. Scary I know.


My son’s old changing table and dresser now holds my belts, scarves, wrapping paper, ribbon, boxes and bags in the drawers. Up top are the jewels. I want to be able to see all the sparkle. The whole reason for the room is so I can see everything at once and be more efficient at 5:30 am getting ready for the day. It’s also super fun for my daughter to come in and try stuff on at the ripe old age of 4. Thank God she’s more of a tom boy for now…She’s just interested enough to come in and browse…

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That all took about 2-3 months to finish. Then it got nice outside and we headed for the sun, sand and surf. No time for DIY. Not in the summer. No way. So, here we are in October, I have one problem. The shoe wall. It needs to come out. I’ve purged many pairs that really were hanging on by a thread. I have decided that we need a bed of some sort; just to be fair to those Cali and NC guests :).  My awesome woodworking husband is now handed the challenge of making me some sort of shelving unit to house those shoes; behind the door where this beauty lives currently.





It’s time to finish this project. God help me, I’m still going to be tweaking this during the first (or third) snowfall. But I feel like I’ve achieved what I set out for so far. I didn’t freak out or rush and it was kind of fun. I didn’t really have any help and feel accomplished and proud of the outcome. I hope this inspires you to do something with your snowy days that lie ahead, although Bloody Mary’s while watching the Breakfast Club is just as acceptable.

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xo friends!

Let me know what you think! Shoe wall ideas or any ideas welcome!!