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.

FIND A HOME FOR MY CELL PHONE

… 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.

KEEP SURFACES CLEAR OF CLUTTER

…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.

FIND DEDICATED HOMES FOR HABIT FORMING-ITEMS

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?

Happy New Year!

 Welcome to 2019, friends!

I can’t believe we’ve already crossed into another year… time flies when you’re having fun, I guess! Last year was a doozy. It started out with a crazy house hunt followed by the purchase of our home, and ended with a promotion at my day job. The middle part is all kind of a blur at this point, but we have done so much work on this house and I’m really proud of what we accomplished.

Before we even moved in we painted as much of the house as we could. The office/2nd guest bedroom, our bedroom, and our bathroom are the only spaces that still need a fresh coat of paint. We’ve also painted most of the doors. We’re down to closet doors and bathroom doors that need painted at this point. Unfortunately that project didn’t start out how I wanted (we’re on our second color!), and it’s still something I’m not 100% happy with. All good lessons going forward I guess! One project I am super happy with is replacing all of the boob lights with this one. They look infinitely better and seeing them installed throughout our hallways gives me so much joy. They change the look of everything!

Hallway Light | Dining Chairs | Dining Light | Rug | Table (Antique, Similar)| Vases

The next big effort dining room because it was the one room that we didn’t have any furniture for. We are about 95% there (window treatments and art are the final touches), and I love how it’s turning out. The lesson I’ve learned here is that we need to take it one room at a time. There is a satisfaction with planning something and watching it come together, even if it’s a slow process and even if you have to course-correct along the way. Sometimes the course-correction is the best part (and where the most creativity happens!), but that doesn’t seem to exist for me if I don’t have a good plan and overall vision for the space from the start.

The second area that we’ve spent the most time and money on in 2019 are some of the functional aspects of the house. We immediately replaced our back door and all of the locks, fixed the dishwasher, got the carpets cleaned, had some repair work done on the roof, and replaced an air-conditioning unit. Later we bought a termite bond, had the fireplace inspected, and Jon added onto our fence. That was probably the most life-changing project because now we can open the door and let Remi out to our backyard without walking him to the gate. He loves it and so do we!

Finally, we focused some attention on the outside. My mom and I did some landscaping in the front yard this summer, adding flowers and tearing out dead plants. And towards the end of the year, I focused my attention to the back porch for Jon. When asked what his priorities were for the house, he kept coming back to having a place to sit outside, so for his 30th birthday he got 4 Georgia-made adirondack chairs. Then for Christmas he got an outdoor cooler and a grill, so between that and the new fence addition, we will be ready to host outside come spring!

Outdoor String Lights | Chairs

Just looking at that list makes me tired and proud all at once, considering most of it was DIY over time while trying to stick to a budget. That being said,  I’m ready to hit the ground running in 2019 and finish some more projects! Thus far what we’ve completed has been mostly out of necessity and I’m ready to move on to some more of the fun stuff!

What projects do you have planned for 2019?

Our House Hunt | What We Got

When we first started the house hunting process, I shared a little about what was on our wish list. I thought it might be interesting to go back and compare that initial list to what we ended up with. We ticked a lot of boxes with this house, but we made some compromises, too. Obviously no house is perfect, but when I look at the comparison to the wish list, I feel like we did pretty well!

A Great Neighborhood | Kind of a Compromise

The neighborhood is a mile away from our target neighborhood. So it’s REALLY close, but not quite right on the money. It’s also not in a neighborhood that is booming due to the new beltline construction in Atlanta (even though we tried really hard to be… it wasn’t in the cards or the budget)! We are also right off of a busier street, which is not completely ideal. Luckily, our actual street is amazing, and all of our neighbors have been so kind and friendly and welcoming thus far! So even though it’s not right where we wanted, and it’s a little more suburban than we wanted, we are still in the city and in great company. Considering our small (for this city) budget, I feel really lucky that we got this close and didn’t have to go out to a neighboring city.

Historic (Looking) with Character | Kind of a Compromise

I wanted an old home SO bad. Apparently so does everyone else… dang it, HGTV and your amazing shows like Fixer Upper and Home Town. I blame Joanna Gaines and Erin Napier (but also, can I be best friends with you both?). I’m calling this one “kind of a compromise” because even though I didn’t get the old home of my dreams, I got a new-build craftsman with some really nice detailing like the tall, coffered ceilings and the board and batten dining room. With a few small tweaks, this home will have all the charm of an old home with some more modern conveniences (like indoor laundry right off the master… I am so pumped about this, you have no idea)!

Outdoor Space | Exceed Expectations

We wanted a small, manageable yard that we could enjoy and would give our dog some space to be off leash – something he has never had since living with us! This is exactly what we got, plus some. The backyard is small, but still big enough for Remi to run around. The front and back yard together won’t take much time at all to mow on the weekends (much to Jon’s relief!), and we got several happy surprises when we walked around the house the weekend after we closed, including peony, hydrangea, and rose bushes AND a peach tree. I’m pretty excited to share peaches with my new neighbors this summer.

Semi-Open Floorplan | Accomplished

I talked before about not wanting a completely open floorplan, and I feel like our downstairs is the best of both worlds. The living, kitchen, and dining rooms all have their own, distinct feel, but they are technically open to each other. There is a cut out between the kitchen and the living room that I hated at first (to be honest, I think cut-outs like that look totally kitchsy), but now that we’ve been in the house more, I love that I can look out the front windows of the home while I’m at the kitchen sink.

2+ beds/2+baths | Exceeded Expectations

We got three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a half bath. We will have plenty of space for family and friends to stay and not be on top of each other. Plus, if we decide to grow our family, we will have several good years in this house before we will need any more space!

A Fireplace | Accomplished (and can’t wait to change it!)

This was my one frivolous request… and I’m SO GLAD I stuck to my guns. Many of the historic houses we looked at (and put offers in on) had fireplaces that weren’t working and would costs thousands to get up and running. Our house has a wood burning fireplace with a gas starter (I didn’t even know that existed!) and I’m super pumped to use it in the fall and winter. The tile on the fireplace leaves a little to be desired, but I’m 100% okay with that… I’ve already got tile samples on order to replace it!

A little work, but livable day one | Exceed Expectations

We spent all of the first weekend of home ownership cleaning and painting (with the help of my parents). We completed one room, and I say “completed” hesitantly because the room was painted white and now the ceiling looks SO DINGY. I’m 99% positive we’re going to go back and paint the ceiling, and 100% positive we’re going to paint all of the interior doors. Realtors on House Hunters are always saying that paint is an easy fix (and trust me, it is probably one of the simplest, least expensive ways to make a HUGE transformation), but don’t confuse simple with easy. Painting (if you are doing it yourself and doing it right) is a long process and a lot of work. I imagine I will be painting every weekend from now until we move in (and probably for several weekends after that). The list of projects that I have created for this house (even though it was 100% move in ready) is pretty heafty… I can’t imagine what it would be like to move into a home that actually NEEDED a renovation (as opposed to ours situation where the changes we are making are self imposed).

Other Compromises

No garage – I know this wasn’t on our wish list, but it would have been really nice to have… it was not a deal breaker for us by any means, which is probably why we didn’t end up with one. We asked if we could add one, and we can’t. Not a huge deal, but something to note. This may be a negative resale value item considering all of the other houses in the neighborhood have them.

Bigger house = bigger taxes – Even though I love that we have so much space and can grow into this house, the taxes in our area are not cheap. And the more house you have, the higher they go! I had major, MAJOR sticker shock when I saw what our tax bill was probably going to be. Luckily this will go down a little with a homestead exemption that we can claim in about a year, but still. The difference between our monthly payment for our house and rent is pretty much ALL taxes.

How do you think we fared? What compromises did you make on your first home?

New House, New Aesthetic

We are OFFICIALLY home owners!

That is such a huge accomplishment to say, considering we jumped through what seems like a thousand hoops to get here. The house we purchased was owned by a bank, and nothing about our process was normal. Throw in the Ransomware attack on the City of Atlanta right before we were supposed to close, and you get an all out nightmare. Luckily we have made it to the other side and finally have a set of keys! We began the mini-renovation process (starting with lots of paint!) this weekend, and I am exhausted but so excited for what is to come.

Ever since we were 99.9% sure that we were moving forward on this house, I began collecting inspiration images on both Pinterest and Instagram. The saved images thus far definitely have a common “look and feel” to them, and it’s completely driving the direction for the design aesthetic.

Since I work in commercial design, and went to both architecture and interior design school, I have a special place in my heart for modern furniture and contemporary design. That being said, I’m finding myself being drawn to some more traditional elements lately, mixed in with some modern for contrast. The house has some great architectural detail (despite the fact that it’s newer construction), so I feel like this mixture will suit the home well.

I’m also feeling like I’m into some moodier colors lately. I don’t know if it’s because the weather is still so cold (where are you spring?) or if it’s just a desire to make our home feel cozy and comfortable for all the guests we hope to host (hallelujah for having a couple of guest bedrooms!), but either way, I’m being pulled that direction.

I’m interested to see how this palette continues to evolve over the next few weeks… We’ve got paint on the walls and seeing it all in person changes everything! So, what do you think?

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Chair | Paint | Living | Dining | Landscape | Wood | Basket | Fireplace | Brass