Wallpaper is So Back!

Ok, it's been back for awhile now, but I'm so in love with all of the gorgeous prints and patterns that I've been coming across lately.  Gone are the days of faded floral prints and the hideous 70's colored vinyls, although wallpaper in general still seems to carry around some of their stigma.  Wallpaper today is so chic, it's almost enough to wonder how it ever got that bad rap (but then I see that pea green vinyl and I quickly remember).  Thankfully, there are so many options to choose from today, from modern chevron and trellis patterns to whimsical scenes and prints.  So many people are into stenciling these days, and I get it- there's less commitment there, and maybe even less work (I've yet to wallpaper anything in my house, so I'm still naive and believe that my wallpaper will go up quickly and easily...please don't crush my dream!).  But the variety of wallpaper available is so much greater than what can be achieved with stenciling, I think it's worth considering.

Here are a few of the beauties I have my eye on now.

I love black and white.  Gorgeous.

C'est Magnifique!

I love this one...I seriously considered redoing my dining room with this wallpaper.

I call this Dr. Seuss wallpaper...so cute!!

Picture from this site, buy here

Like a bright sunny day:) 

Lavender + pattern...what's not to love?

These are all so pretty.  I just bought some wallpaper for a special project that I'm working on, and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.  Stay tuned!

What are your thoughts on wallpaper?

Kitchen Re-do Has Begun!

We finally started our kitchen re-do!  And by started I mean we spot tested some liquid sandpaper (no sanding! woo hoo!) primer, and color.  And by we, I mean my husband...I was supervising.  We really dislike sanding...hate it in fact.  So when my husband heard about liquid sandpaper, we were excited to give it a try (ok David was excited, I was skeptical...this is our normal dynamic, nothing new here:).  But lo and behold, it worked!  The liquid sandpaper/primer areas even passed my foolproof scratch test with nary a scratch to be seen (method includes scratching painted area with fingernail to ensure paint adherence...nothing but professional techniques for us!).

The liquid sandpaper we bought is called Klean-Strip Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser (we found it at Home Depot).  To use, all that's needed is to pour some of the clear liquid onto a cloth, and rub the cabinet with the cloth.  And...that's it!  It's also a good idea to paint a layer of primer over the deglosser while it's still a little bit tacky.  Once that's dry, all that's left to do is add a layer of paint.

Our testing efforts:

After I posted awhile ago about loving turquoise kitchens, I searched high and low for the perfect turquoise color.  Some were too light and pastel, some too blue, some too dark or grey.  I really thought that I wanted a light turquoise color, since it's so pretty, but in the end we realized a greener turquoise would work better (see it below).

The kitchen is starting to look brighter already, and I'm loving the changes.  I can't wait to finish painting it all!

A Well-Appointed Guest Room (Or How to Make Your Guests Want to Come Back)

The other day I posted about our stay at a lovely bed and breakfast over the weekend.  The room we stayed in wasn't extravagant by any means, but it had everything we needed, plus a few extras that made the room special.  That got me thinking about what makes a good guest room, and the ways in which I could improve my own spare bedroom for guests.

Here are the things I noticed at the B&B we stayed at, and my ideas for how to spruce up my guest room.

1.  Fresh bedding (probably a given!) and layers of pillows, and an extra blanket folded up at the end of the bed.
2.  A mostly empty closet, with hangers for guests to hang clothes (not sure how feasible this is for me...I still have unpacked boxes from moving, and I think a few of them are in this closet...I should probably get to that:)

3.  A chair in a corner of the room for guests to relax in when they're tired of socializing.

4.  Practical necessities such as a box of tissues and a wastebasket.

5.  Little extras, including a few books on the bedside table, a vase of flowers, and maybe even a small plate of fresh goodies if I'm feeling really ambitious:)

What are your must-haves for a guest room??

Bed & Breakfasts (Not Just for Your Parents)

This past weekend my husband took me to a bed and breakfast for Valentine's Day.  This was our third stay at a B&B, and if you've never been to one, you need to go!  In fact, so many of my friends have asked me what I like about B&B's that I'm starting to wonder if they're not popular in my age group (my husband does like to call me a grandma for going to bed early, so maybe this falls in the same category!).  Regardless, B&B's are so much better than hotels.  

I was a little uncertain before my first stay at one a couple of years ago, mainly wondering things like "Am I going to have to be social with people I don't know before I've even had coffee??" (you're probably not antisocial like me;) but the answer to that is no, not if you don't want to).  All my reservations were put to rest during that visit, as soon as I walked through the door of the charming old farmhouse and met the sweet older couple that would be our hosts.  And on a side note, it was actually really fun chatting with the other guests.  I think this is especially true when staying in an unfamiliar area, because you're able to compare notes on where to go, what restaurants are good, and so forth.

 Our hosts for this stay were an older English woman and her daughter, who immediately welcomed us to our well-appointed guest room (more on this in a later post) complete with fresh flowers and homemade snacks wrapped up on a pretty china dish.  We were also welcomed to use the guest area of the house, which included a large living area with TV and couches, movies to watch, fireplace, and a book case filled with books.  Every day from 4-6pm, they would also set out various drinks, including wines from local Virginia wineries, several different types of cheese, fruit, and pastries.  Now what hotel does that (besides the really expensive ones)??  Additionally, they were more than happy to spend time pointing us toward all the local attractions and making recommendations, and sharing their insider knowledge of the area. 

(At the entrance to the gardens at Montpelier.  By the way, did you know that James Madison spoke 7 languages?  Now let's all put our TV remotes down in shame and go read a book.)

On top of everything else, we also enjoyed a delicious traditional English breakfast each morning, which included bacon, eggs, a sausage link (not your normal breakfast sausage link, we're talking bratwurst size!), baked beans, mushrooms, and a tomato.  Oh yes, and toast.  Needless to say, we couldn't eat it all.  There was also a continental spread of fruits, pastries, yogurt, and cereal.  Homemade, people.  By a sweet English grandmother.  Now tell me that isn't better than a hotel! The next time you're planning a trip, you really should consider staying at a B&B, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I had a wonderful Valentine's Day weekend, and I hope you all did as well (even if you were just sitting on the couch eating chocolates...that's fun too!).  I'll leave you with a picture of the beautiful pink bouquet of flowers my husband gave me...yes I'm spoiled, he's the best! 

What's been your experience with B&B's?  I'd love to hear about it!

Don't Stress, Use Lavender!

I never really gave much thought to using essential oils until recently, but in my quest to use more natural products, I've discovered that they really are amazing.  I've also found that natural and organic products almost always serve more than one purpose (sometimes many more!) and happily that is the case with lavender essential oil.

When I initially bought my lavender oil a few months ago, I bought it to add fragrance to a homemade hand lotion (which I still haven't made, due to a shipment of rancid shea butter from Amazon...know your supplier!).  Fortunately, I quickly discovered the many versatile uses of lavender, and I don't think I'll ever go without it now.

Good quality lavender (I use the Edens Garden brand, which you can find here) is very potent stuff, and a few drops is really all you will ever need at a time.  For this reason you shouldn't be too put off by the price (the Edens Garden brand is affordable, but some can get expensive) because it really does last a long time.

There are so many benefits to using lavender.  Most commonly, lavender is thought to reduce nervous system activity, which means that it aids in stress/anxiety reduction and promotes calm and tranquility.  Because of this, it's a widely used sleep aid, and I can attest to its powers of relaxation!  Lavender is also used for headaches, to reduce inflamed skin, and is even reported to prevent hair loss when applied to the scalp in conjunction with thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood.

A few ways I use lavender:

1.  Mix a few drops in with bathwater...bliss!

2.  I rub a small drop on my neck when I'm feeling stressed or anxious, and breathe deeply.  It really  helps!

3.  Add a few drops to almond oil, and use as a relaxing massage oil (works best when someone else gives the massage;)

4.  Store a container of oil (such as almond oil) with a few drops of lavender, and use as a light moisturizer when getting out of the shower.

5.  I sometimes rub a drop of lavender onto the corner of my pillow case to help me sleep.

6.  Use as an organic perfume.

7.  Use on an insect bite or itchy skin to reduce redness and stinging.

Well, there you have it, the many uses of lavender...now go buy some:)  Do you have any tips for using lavender, or other essential oils?  I would love to know!

Closet Organization is Pretty!! Seriously!

Ok I won't show you a picture of my closet, because it is so not pretty.  It's just one of those areas of my house that I don't even realize looks terrible because I'm so used to seeing it.  Isn't it funny how you can walk past something or see something every day, but never even realize it's there until someone calls your attention to it?  I do this all the time, and it drives my husband crazy...I'm not at all a details person unless it's regarding something I value...otherwise, forget it, I'll never remember it.  I'm especially bad with numbers, it took me at least a year of dating before I could remember my husband's birthday, and it wasn't for lack of trying or because I didn't value the information!  I'm just that bad with numbers...they get mixed up in my head.  Words, however, I never forget:)  Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses right?

My house is for the most part, relatively clutter free, but there are still a few areas where I overlook the disorder (overflowing hallway closet and bathroom vanity I'm looking at you).  I've been reading Lessons From Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott at The Daily Connoisseur, about the art of living well as learned from the French (interesting read, especially if you're a Francophile like me...and yet I've never been to France, so sad! but I digress).  In the book, Jennifer talks about the lessons she learned while living with famille chic in Paris, and one such lesson is regarding the clutter-free home the family kept.  Not just neat and tidy.  Clutter. Free. All. The. Time. 

Naturally I was inspired to find and transform the last bastions of clutter in my home, those areas that seem to attract it and which I can close the door on and forget all about (literally, I can close the door, since I'm mostly talking about every single closet in my house).  I'm starting small, but I'm going to attempt to organize our hall closet, and then actually keep it clean.  Keeping it clean will be the real challenge!  Anyway, I've gathered a few photos for extra motivation, since making a space prettier means you'll be at least 75% more likely to keep it clean (ok I made that up...but it has to help a little, right?).

Really digging the patterned wall inside this closet.

Love how the closet and rug match, it looks very pulled together.

This closet is so clean and bright, the wallpaper is so pretty and really makes it stand out.

Love the hooks on the door to hang purses!

I'm feeling inspired :)   How do you keep your closets organized?

Dining Room Decor- Making it Modern

Thinking about my kitchen re-do has now got me thinking about my dining room....great in theory, (and practical if you actually have need of one) but for two people, not exactly a necessity.  This is where I now find myself.  Aside from the rare dinner party where we actually eat at a table (for some reason we usually end up eating on the couches, or standing, or pretty much anywhere but the dining room), we rarely use the room at all.  But alas, it can be seen from pretty much anywhere on our first floor, thanks to our open floor plan, and therefore I still need to complete the decor (and who am I kidding, I'll use any excuse to decorate!). 

We've completed a few basic changes since we moved in, like replacing the flooring, and swapping out the red paint for a white and dark grey combo (side note, apparently red makes you eat more, and blue makes you eat less- food for thought ;).  We also replaced the old light fixture with a modern chandelier, which my husband actually picked out.  He will readily agree that he's not exactly the artistic type, so I don't feel too bad in admitting my initial urge to immediately reject his decor choice, until I realized that the light fixture wasn't half bad.  In fact, we realized the hanging glass bubbles were a perfect match for our lamp in the living room.

Not bad at all:)  Listen to your husbands ladies!   In fact, the Paris picture in the background was a gift from my husband and friends, who, while I was out, put it up on the wall for my surprise 30th birthday party.  A risky move indeed (I guess I'm known for being picky!), but it paid off, because I love the modern vibe.

All that brings me to where I'm at now- left with a semi-decent dining room, although devoid of color (this was not intentional, just sorta happened), and in need of a few more decorative and functional touches.  I do like where it's going, but I'm not there yet. 

This dining room however, I am in love with.  I want to bridge the gap between the extremely colorful, and the monochromatic scheme I've got going on now.  Perhaps some colorful end chairs?  A bright or mustard yellow??  And switch out the white curtains for something bolder?  Oh, the possibilities.

Starting a Colorful Kitchen Re-do

I'm really excited because I finally figured out what to do with the big brown eyesore that is my kitchen.  Granted, it looks much, much better than it looked when we moved in, as you can tell from the photo below.  We upgraded the flooring, and replaced the old appliances, but the brown of the oak combined with the brown of the floors has just left our kitchen area looking really drab.  

Since we can't afford to replace our cabinets, we've decided to paint them.  Admittedly, I am not usually overly adventurous with color- I like neutrals paired with pops of color.  But I have come to realize that the only way to really make a difference in the kitchen, and to make it a little more modern, is to add a punch of color.  I really love the look of all white kitchens, but it's just not practical with a dog.  Therefore, we've decided to paint the upper cabinets a soft white, and the lower cabinets a shade of turquoise (exact color yet to be decided).  Below are some of the photos that are currently inspiring me...I can't wait to paint! 

Aren't those pictures gorgeous?  I'm so excited to add color to my kitchen! 

Would you ever paint your kitchen a bold color?

Valentine's Day Decor

Valentine's Day is almost here!  Have I mentioned my propensity for procrastination?  Yep I am definitely not a planner, even when it comes to holidays...I am trying to amend my ways however, and have been thinking of how to get into the Valentine spirit- and what better way to do that than to decorate the house for a Valentine's party for friends, or maybe just for two?

In my opinion, homemade decorations always look best, but I don't always have the time or inclination to make my own.  Lucky for me, all the crafty people over at Etsy have already cornered the market on Valentine's Day decor, so all I (and my fellow procrastinators) have to do is point and click:)  If I do start feeling crafty though, these ideas are a great jumping off point to make my own variations! 

Let's Party!

This string of fabric flag garland would look great hanging from a mirror or picture, on a mantel, or in a doorway.

Set a pretty party table with this cute "Love" centerpiece.

These adorable heart place card holders are perfect for a dinner with a Valentine.

I love the rustic yet romantic look of these birch candle holders...they would look so pretty as part of a table centerpiece. 

This red berry wreath adds Valentine color in an unexpected way.  It would look great hanging from a ribbon in a window, or from a door.  

How do you decorate for Valentine's Day?  I would love to know your ideas!