Stair Inspiration and A Photoshop Before & After

We have been in the house for over a year now. Some days it feels like we’ve been here for 5 minutes, but other days it seems like we’ve been here forever!

If you had asked me a year ago what I projects we would accomplish the first 365 days in this house, I’m positive my list would have been unrealistically long. All that said, I’m also pretty proud of what we’ve acheived so far. And what we have learned, which is a whole lot.

I’ve learned how to “design-build,” which is vastly different than my day job in design (where every square inch is planned out in beautiful, but painstaking, detail). And while I’m good at problem solving on the spot, I’ve also learned that even when I can make a quick decision, implementation takes time (and so does getting the correct material to get the job done right)! I’ve also learned that my husband is incredible and can pretty much fix anything. He’s done plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and paint. He’s fixed appliances and installed light fixtures. Our next adventure will be tile, and I’m sure he’ll be amazing at that, too.

In the meantime, we kicked off another, simpler project. Last Friday I got an estimate for refinishing our floors and adding wood upstairs. It was a little bit of a blow, but has given us a goal to save for. Included in that estimate was a cost to have the carpet removed from the stairs, the treads replaced with oak and stained to match our floors. It was to the tune of $1700, and that is money I would definitely rather spend elsewhere.

So, we’ve decided to paint the stairs instead. Jon spent the better part of Saturday afternoon tearing every last inch of the carpet off the stairs, and now we have a lovely fresh slate.

The stairs when we first moved in… gotta love the wall decals left by the previous owners and the lovely “boob” light!
Taking the carpet off has already made such a HUGE difference!

I’ve been saving images of stairs on Pinterest since before we even closed on the house, and typically I gravitate towards a more monochromatic look. I find that I prefer the treads and the risers to all be the same color. There is some really great inspiration out there…

Via Remodelista, Design and Photo by White Arrow
Via Remodelista. Photo by Haris Kenjar. Design by Mowery Marsh.
Via The Glitter Guide. I’m dead over this one… but white scares me a little!
Via The Glitter Guide. Again… love the way white looks in theory, but it actually scares me!

I did a quick photoshop exercise to try and see what direction I want to take – figure I have to make a decision pretty quick so that we can get the stairs presentable again! I also played with photoshopping the floors in the color I want them to be after refinishing to really get the full picture. I think (think!) that I want to go black on the treads, risers, and the handrail. I tried the stiles in black, and it just felt too dark, and trim piece running below the handrail is really thin, so painting that black left an odd stripe along the wall. At first I thought I could combat that by painting the trim below black, too, but it runs right into the baseboard on the wall and there is no obvious stopping point. So with that, this is the direction I’m leading.

And after looking at all the inspiration, I think I’m definitely pro runner! Remi has been fine going up and down the stairs without carpet thus far, but sometimes he does get going pretty quick and I’m worried about him losing his grip and tumbling the whole way down. A runner will definitely help give him a little more grip! I’m going to have to do a little more research to figure out exactly what kind of runner to get… the vintage one in the image above is just. so. beautiful! But I’m sure the hunt for something like that will be time consuming. We shall see where that goes!

So – What do you think? An improvement over the original? I think so!

The Sofa Hunt

J wanted me to title this “The Hunt for the Red Hot Sofa.” I told him that only worked if the sofa we were hunting for was actually red. Hint – It’s not.

While I do know the sofa isn’t going to be red, I’m not exactly sure what color it’s going to be yet. The jury is still out on that one. I do know that most of my plans for the house this year have been pushed back and derailed slightly due to a few unexpected bumps in the road.

That also means that (embarrassingly) that we are just now getting the powder room reno really going this weekend. The wallpaper removal has been a nightmare – I swear it’s like they didn’t use glue on three of the walls and then put all the rest of the glue on the last one, and it will never come down. Up until last night, I had debated ripping out drywall… Dramatic? Maybe.

Because I was often taking extended breaks from the frustration of removing wallpaper, I used that time to search for our new sofa.

There are so many options out there, friends. And let me tell you, the good ones are NOT cheap. That means that this decision is weighing extra heavy on me – I don’t want to pick the wrong thing and then regret it for any reason, be that durability, comfort, look, or scale!

So, knowing all of those factors, these are the criteria I am using for my hunt:

  1. Must be a deep seat that allows for lounging. We only have one living space in our house, so this sofa will serve as our Friday-night Netflix binge spot and Sunday afternoon nap spot 90% of the time. I know that super deep is not great for entertaining in a more formal setting, but let’s be real, when our friends and family come over we typically all lounge together anyway. We just aren’t formal people.
  2. Must have a classic enough look to stand the test of time. We are certainly not made of money and I can’t change my mind about aesthetic in two years and buy a new one. This is definitely an investment piece! I’m going to let the accent chairs bring in the modern (and dare I say, trendy?) flair that I’m looking for. They are easier to replace if I get sick of them.
  3. Slipcovered… or at least zip off covers. I’ve said it before on this space, and I will say it again – I’ve seen the dirt accumulation on our current slipcovered Ikea sofa (that we wash regularly) and I will never be unable to see it. Upholstery gets GROSS, so the ability to wash it (even if it’s having it dry cleaned every so often) is important to me!
  4. Must have an option for a bench seat (Maximum of two cushions, but preferably just one)! Our current sofa has three cushions and I’m constantly trying to fix them. It makes me crazier than I already am, and no one wants to see that! Hopefully a sofa with one, larger cushion will stay in place better, and no one will fall into the crack between the cushions when we are trying to sit multiple people on the sofa at once.

I have so many inspiration images saved for living rooms, and I’ve noticed that most of them have sofas that are basically the perfect combo of all of the above traits – Interesting how form and function are really aligned for me here!

Design via the always incredible Amber Interiors.

I love these identical sofas facing each other. This layout is what I imagined for our living room the first time we toured our house. You can see here that these sofas are extra deep for lounging and have really pretty classic lines (with a skirt!).

Jon and I were in a Room and Board about 6 months ago and saw the most amazing sofa that was somewhere between an army and an olive green. I was completely obsessed with it (especially considering I had already picked out a similar color tile from Fireclay for our fireplace). I’ve been smitten with the idea ever since… That’s why I love this sofa in Katie Hackworth’s home. Something about the green chaise with the bench seat just gets me. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to commit to the color long term, but I figure if I can tile the fireplace in that color, surely I could deal with the sofa? We’ll see…

Design via my latest design crush, Katie Hodges.

Again with the identical sofas… I’m sensing a trend here in my preferences maybe? Ha! These have the perfect bench seat – I bet they are GREAT for napping.

Design via Studio McGee

This leather beauty is from Studio McGee. While I probably can’t afford leather, I can still dream! Besides the fact that it’s made from a buttery soft hide, I also really like the lines of this sofa. Shouldn’t be too surprising considering that it has a similar aesthetic to all of the others I’m drawn to – classic (but clean!) lines and a lovely bench seat.

I still haven’t completely decided, but I have a really great list of options in the running. All of them have a bench seat option or two larger cushions, are extra deep, have zip off covers (and a few are even fully slipcovered!), and most of them come in multiple fabric offerings. They all also can be a sofa OR a sectional, which is great for me because I’m still trying to decide what layout I want for the living room (more on that whole saga later)!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

So… of these options, which one would you pick?

An Ode to Moulding

It’s not secret that one of the reasons I fell in love with our house was that despite it being a relatively new (2006!) builder-grade home, someone spent some money on a few architectural details that make it feel special.

We have really nice coffered ceilings in the living room and the master, thick crown moulding and baseboards throughout, and really nice board and batten detail in the dining room.

As I was planning out the design for the powder room, I started looking for images of walls with pretty moulding details, and let me tell you… The inspiration out there is endless. Some of the inspo is more complicated to execute than others, but for the most part, even a little bit of simple detailing can totally transform how a room feels.

What I think we want to do in our powder room is a grid style of board and batten. I love the clean, graphic lines, and I love that it will look a little different than the treatment in our dining room.

Images via Blaze Press | Making Nice in the Midwest | Haven Studios

I also love the look of a really traditional board and batten (which is what we have in the dining room). It’s so pretty when it envelops a room and wraps the window casing like in fantastic One Room Challenge bedroom of The Gold Hive. She has a great tutorial that shows how simple installing board and batten can be!

Images via Scandinavian Collectors | Roomed | The Gold Hive

I also love more traditional moudlings, especially when they are all painted in a monochromatic color scheme. The nursery Christine Dovey designed for her son has been living on my Pinterest boards for some time now… talk about a sophisticated bedroom for an infant! The extra moulding detail makes the room look like it’s in an apartment in Paris or a gorgeous old Victorian home. Yes, please!

Images via Domino | Christine Dovey | Pantone via Apartment Therapy

Depending on how adding the board and batten to the powder room goes, I may just decide I want it in every room of the house… Can’t wait to share more!

Random Gadgets I Want for Our Home

I’m not a gadget person. I don’t own an Alexa or an iPad, and I plan on using my iPhone 6 until it dies (which unfortunately may be sooner than later).

When it comes to stuff for our house though, I’m all about it. I don’t know if any of these really qualify as “gadgets,” but they certainly are all pretty cool technology that I wouldn’t mind having use of around my house!

One | Nespresso VertuoPlus Machine

Anyone that even kind of knows me knows that I love coffee. I try not to go to coffee shops during the week, but it is a habit (and guilty pleasure of mine) to go to coffee shops all over town on the weekends and try out their lattes. J and I like to do this when we were house hunting. It’s totally fun to explore a neighborhood via it’s local coffee shop.

For the days when we aren’t able to go out and get our espresso fix, we have a stovetop espresso maker. But as all good coffee snobs know, the stovetop machines don’t really make espresso. You have to get a really good machine to get the real thing with the lovely, thick texture and the beautiful crema on top. Since I’m not a millionaire, those machines are out of my range. Luckily, Nespresso makes on that does the trick (and will get me my coffee fix quickly on busy weekday mornings)!

Enter the Nespresso VertuoPlus. What I like about this machine is that you can get an espresso drink OR a basic coffee drink from the same machine, and many retailers offer it with a milk frother as a bundle. We already have a counter top milk frother that we love, so I would go for the non-bundled option in the limited edition matte black finish (YUM).

Two | Bissell Crosswave Pet Pro

J and I both agree that Remi the dog is the love of our lives. He brings so much joy, laughter, and stress-relief to our lives. The other thing he brings is dog hair, mud, and mess into our home. While I wouldn’t trade him for anything, I still would like to be able to control the mess a little better.

Enter this hand-dandy tool from Bissell. It vacuums and mops AT THE SAME TIME. WHAAAAAT? I’m not even lying – I’ve watched it work both on commercials (any other infomercial lovers out there?) AND in people’s homes. This sucker (pun totally intended) is made for homes with pets, and is engineered to help deal with the whole pet hair issue. Plus, it’s a huge time saver. I think I might ask for this one for my anniversary… J, I hope you’re reading this!

Three | Samsung Frame TV

If you follow any home improvement bloggers or interior designers on Instagram, you have surely seen this baby advertised a time or two. As I mentioned previously, I really, really don’t care about technology. The TV we have is an older model that was a hand me down from my sister back when we first got married in 2012 (anyone who tries to rob our house and steal a TV would probably leave immediately because it isn’t worth a dime…). I’ve never considered upgrading until I saw the Frame.

It’s such a cool idea that your TV can become art when you’re not watching something, and it had completely changed my opinion of putting a TV over a fireplace (ergonomics aside for a moment). Our living room has windows flanking the fireplace, and windows on the other two walls of the open space, so there is no good place to put the TV other than over the fire place, unless you’re cool with the room feeling totally unbalanced. Which means that right now, our living room layout is totally unbalanced, because I refuse to hang an ugly TV over the fireplace. With this one, I would have to chose aesthetics or function. I get BOTH… which is exactly what good design is in my opinion. The only problem I see on this on is price tag, which means I will be anxiously awaiting sales or price drops on guy before I pull the trigger.

Four | Conair Hand-Held Steamer

I’ve had steamers before, and long story short, they were so bad that I went out and bought a “cheapo” iron just to get J’s shirts to not be completely wrinkled. But I hate ironing. It takes too much time. Irons are really hot metal plates that have to have time to cool. And it’s a pain in the butt to get it all down, set up the ironing board, wait for the iron to heat up… so then I just avoid any clothing that has to be ironed in favor of something less wrinkly, because I would rather spend my time in the morning working out or eating a good breakfast.

It’s a bad cycle. To end the cycle, I think a tool like this Conair Hand-Held Steamer could do the trick. It works well according the reviews, unlike other steamers it’s compact (great for storage and traveling), and it can be used for dual functions (powder room wallpaper, I’m looking at you). Plus – It’s not super expensive in proportion to the amount of use it would get at my house!

Five | Pressure Washer

When we first moved in our house, my dad came up from Florida with his pressure washer and he and J cleaned the entire back deck and our driveway. The difference that made was immense.

Only problem – the pressure washer belongs to my dad and I don’t think it’s fair to only ask him to visit us when something needs pressure washed – ha! That’s why I really like the idea of this option. It’s nice and compact (have I mentioned that I like compact, dual purpose products? Oh, only every other sentence?) and has fantastic reviews.

Six | Philips Wake Up Light Alarm Clock

Fun biology/psychology fact – Sleep is good for you, and sleep is completely impacted by our body’s circadian rhythm. In the developed world, people’s circadian rhythms are all screwed up due to the light on our phone, the fact that we have to wake up before the sun to get to our 8-6 jobs (yes, 8-6… does anyone actually work a 9-5?) on time, and daylight savings time.

I have been waking up earlier to work out with the help of my Fit Bit and keeping my phone far away from me at night, but I still think having this alarm clock would make waking up early a little less painful.

Anyone have any of these? I would love to hear about your experience!

Cover image of Samsung Frame is by Bravo TV Home and Design.

Revamping My Routine

Last week, I had a little incident with our alarm system.

My husband happened to be out of town, and the keypad battery (our system is not hardwired) died while I was asleep. The good news is that the alarm system still totally worked, despite the keypad battery failure. The bad news is that while I was trying to replace the batteries, the motion sensor in our living room totally detected me rummaging through our media cabinet, trying to get fresh batteries.

The alarm went off, the company almost immediately called me, and of course I forgot the “safe word” that I was supposed to know to tell them that they did not need to send back up. The cop that arrived just a few minutes later was very kind (after I presented my ID and proof that I actually lived here and did not break in).

I was telling this story to a friend at work and she immediately asked me a question about the story that I was not expecting…

“You don’t go downstairs in the morning until you’re completely ready for work?”

I had never put too much thought into how I get ready in the morning, but J and I both typically get completely ready for our day before we make the trek down the stairs and into our kitchen for coffee. It got me thinking about the house and how floor plan/design can impact how you operate daily and how the design and details of your home can totally impact your routines. As an interior designer with a Master’s degree, I can point to countless studies that show that there is a psychology to the interior environment (and I’ve even talked about it in past posts), but I also think there are countless anecdotal examples in pop culture right now that support this theory as well. Take the Marie Kondo show on Netflix for example. Or the way that Erin and Ben Napier are transforming their community on HGTV’s Hometown (can you tell I’ve been watching TV alone while J is out of town)?

So with that, I’ve started thinking about things I want to do as part of my evening and morning routines, but struggle with or have struggled with in the past. I’m confident that a few simples design changes around the house could totally impact my habits, but I want to test the theory for a week and report back. Here are the goals I want to accomplish each morning/evening:

  1. Wake up without immediately jumping into Instagram/emails (and then laying in bed for an hour even when I’m awake)! This makes me so late, and I’m not getting any additional sleep.
  2. Consistently spend a little time with God.
  3. Get a workout in!
  4. Take better care of my skin.
  5. Get out the door on time.

Based on that list, I’m going to try a few simple changes to my space for at least a week to see if I can change how my mornings look.


… That is not my bedside table. J already does this. He puts his phone (with the alarm turned on!) in our master bath so that when the alarm goes off, he has to physically get UP our of bed to turn it off. While I’ve thought about doing this before, I’ve never fully committed to it, because the thought of waking up that way sounds so miserable. Change doesn’t happen without a little discomfort though, so I’m going to go for it. Bonus – it means that when I get in bed I can’t look at it for hours past my bedtime, letting the blue light keep me up. Maybe that will help me sleep better and be more rested when the 5 am alarm goes off.


…except for my devotional, prayer journal, and a lamp. I think the lamp is the key here. I don’t have one right now, but I think having one to turn on the morning (as soon as my alarm goes off), could help me wake up faster. I’ve been putting off buying one because I didn’t want to spend money on something that I would want to change when we go through the whole process of designing the bedroom in the future. While I still basically agree with that logic, I think we can afford to spend a few bucks on a cute lamp from Target that will do the trick in the mean time.


I’m starting a 12 week exercise program that I’ve done before (and loved!) when we lived in an apartment. Now that we don’t have a five minute commute (like we did in the apartment), I have to get up a bit earlier to fit the workout in and still make it to work on time. I sleep in some of my workout clothes, but having the rest that I can’t sleep in (tennis shoes and sports bra, I’m looking at you!) in a spot I can find with my eyes closed will hopefully help me to push through on mornings when I have no motivation.

For my skin, I want to take a note from Sherry from Young House Love, who keeps her “woo woo face routine” stuff in the kitchen (if you don’t follow Sherry, you should. I’m a long time follower and take her recommendations very seriously, because she is a genius)… I think I’m going to start doing the same. When I come downstairs in the morning, groggy and half-asleep, for my workout, my bottle of water (essential for skin health) will be in the cabinet by the fridge and my my roller will be in the freezer, perfect for waking me up right before my workout!

Last but not least, I’m going to try and carve out a space in the fridge to put my lunch (and breakfast) when applicable, so I’m not trying to pack lunch while running out the door! Trying to get lunches together in the morning almost always takes longer than I plan for, so hopefully leaving space for this and forcing myself to do this at night will help with that process!

I’m going to give this whole thing a week and do my very best to be consistent (even when I’m tired)! I’ll report back and let you know how it goes… anyone else have any tips for productive evenings and smoother mornings?