Our new bathroom!

The day has come! I have to say, it took much longer than I thought and it cost a little more than I thought, but our bathroom is finally finished.

Our goal was modern and sleek and we’re both very pleased with how it turned out. Here is the new shower area, my favorite part! (and below, the tub and awkward shaped window that were once there)

img_13835

img_6938

This is the new vanity. It’s called Caesarstone (quartz) and the color is espresso. We do have granite in our other two bathrooms but I love the sleekness and solidarity of quartz. We also went with rectangular sinks rather than oval and had them only cut one hole on each faucet for a more simple look.

img_1374

Here it is before.

img_7084

I painted the vanity a solid white – it’s called Alabaster by Sherwin Williams and I chose a semi-gloss finish. It matches the trim and doors in the bathroom as well as througout our entire house. We went with plain pulls from Lowes in a chrome finish.

My husband who is 6″5 can now see the top of his head in the bathroom mirror! We did a frameless floating version which is standard in many new modern homes. We took a 1/4 inch thick piece of plywood that would be slightly smaller than the mirror and screwed it into the drywall. The edges were spray painted black and then the mirror was adhered to the plywood. The edges are polished and it has a “floating” effect. I love how it turned out and it matches the new light fixtures.

img_13801

img_4437-e1350321545683

I didn’t want any wall color to compete or clash with the tile or the quartz so we decided to just go with white. They are also painted Alabaster but I chose a satin finish so that the trim and cabinets would not just blend in.

The only unfinished part is the area behind the door where the shower used to be. We had it drywalled out and for now it’s a great place for our laundry basket and scale. It’s going to be  large linen closet but I haven’t quite decided what kind of shelving and doors I want yet. Suggestions are welcome!

img_1388-e1350321693734

This photo shows the old shower.

img_6942-e1350321783111

We ran into a few frustrating issues and felt a little cramped in our hall bath for a few months;  but, we love how it turned out and now we just get to enjoy it!

Florida, abundance, & simplicity

Before we came to the great state of Arkansas my husband and I spent almost 3 years in Florida. I wouldn’t trade those 3 years for anything. We were newly married and fresh out of college. We moved to Cocoa Beach where my husband had a great job as a business manager for a construction company and I landed my first job in medical sales. We worked hard but we also played hard. We bought kayaks and a wave runner and spent all of our weekends at the beach with friends and traveling around the state.

dsc_00152

After two years, we were ready to do something different. We both felt like we eventually wanted to move back closer to family and buy a house one day but we weren’t quite ready. We had met working a summer in college at a dude ranch in Colorado and had both always craved adventure. So….we decided to do something crazy and went to work for a wealthy family in Miami Beach!

n4937422_42430668_9797

 

img_2786

img_4046

We were hired as “estate managers” and were given a beautiful two bedroom apartment on the property. They had 3 homes, the one in Miami Beach, a gorgeous mountain home in Quebec, Canada, and another on a private island in the Bahamas. We traveled to their different estates, shopped for them, and did just a little bit of everything. Needless to say, I also would not trade this experience for anything!

labor-day-weekend-002

img_2650

After a while, a perfect job opportunity opened for my husband in Fayetteville; and, I really wanted to be closer to my family…so we moved on. But…I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to get a glimpse into a world so different from my own. And, I know we both learned quite a bit along the way.

Some were true life lessons, and others were mere insights into how to achieve simplicity amongst such abundance. As a co-owner of Simple Spaces, this experience has been invaluable to me.

I was encouraged to do monthly closet and toy clean outs with the kids. They did get new things quite often, but in order to keep things simple and streamlined, a lot of old stuff was regularly given to charity. I did most of the grocery and supply shopping for the homes and, although they liked to purchase in bulk, the number of actual products were very limited. I think this is great to do with food, cleaning products, HBA products etc. Find one brand you love and stick with it, you’ll cut down on waste and confusion. Even the adults in the home had beautifully organized closets with mostly classic pieces. They were very expensive but there was not a ridiculous amount of anything and older items were regularly purged. Each bed in the home had only two sets of sheets that were kept in a labeled linen closet. When one was being washed the other would go on the bed until the next week. These are just a few examples of how their daily life (which could have been chaotic just by volume) was made easier.

The point of this is to share what I learned from this job. Simplicity can be achieved no matter what your income, your social status, the size of your home, etc. I took away a true appreciation for living simply…even amongst such abundance. They understood the importance of quality over quantity and the value of simplicity in a world of plenty. And, I can also never forget all the fun we had along the way!

ottawa-0781

Thrift store find = Upgraded office

I was out hunting for furniture last weekend and found a great new desk for my office. Sometimes I really don’t get the pricing logic in the thrift stores that I frequent. I spotted the desk as soon as I walked in and as I approached it, I anticipated a high price tag. After all, it was next to a particle board dresser that was practically falling apart for $175!  Way overpriced in my book. When I saw that it was only $55, I knew it had to have a huge flaw.  I couldn’t believe it… the drawers all worked great, the legs didn’t wobble, it had no giant gouges, and it was solid oak. It was too good to be true.

img_1266

I knew I had found a gem and just couldn’t part with it, plus I didn’t realize just how much I needed a bigger desk.

Home offices are spaces that many people don’t give much thought to when it comes to decorating and organizing. In reality, they’re actually very important. With Simple Spaces, we tackle quite a few home offices and sometimes those are the most satisfied clients. People say how much more productive, creative, and motivated they are in a functional, attractive office space.

Here is my old desk. I remember my parents buying  this for me at Pier One when I was 20 for my first apartment in college. Since then, it has traveled with me to 5 different homes and now that I have a good-sized office, I think it’s ok to let it go. I don’t like visual clutter and so I was stuffing way too much stuff in the one little drawer. I also had my office supplies stored in a closet in another room..and of course, when I got up to get something I would be distracted by another task.

img_1274

I decided to paint the desk a chalky matte black called Tricorn Black from Sherwin Williams. I really like using this color on light oak colored furniture because I think it looks great when it comes through the paint. I slightly distressed the edges and the detailed parts. And, I kept the original, industrial hardware.

Now I have all of my office supplies in one spot, ample surface area to write and spread out documents, and drawers to conceal it all when I’m done! A small investment for a big office upgrade!

img_1302

img_1292

img_1297

Clothes part 2…Advice from a stylist!

My mom and I can organize a closet. We can help people make decisions and purge, we can put like things together, and we can make it look nice…but we cannot tell our clients what they should have in their closets. That’s the job of a stylist…and luckily, my best friend is one!

Blair Ver Meer lives in Denver and she’s awesome…really. I wish she lived closer for many reasons but also so she could do a full “wardrobe edit” on my own closet. I decided to pick her brain from afar and she provided some great tips for what specifically makes a great wardrobe. She has a degree from Baylor University with an emphasis in Fashion Merchandising. She has worked as an executive intern for Dillards and has experience as an Image Consultant.

165595_827201220053_7338497_n

Here’s what she had to say:

Less is more when it comes to the amount of items in your wardrobe. If you find pieces that you “forgot you had” then it’s time to scale down. Get rid of items you didn’t wear last season. Reevaluate the condition of your clothes; people generally perceive their clothes as the day they bought them, but over time and through several washes they tend to lose their shape, pill, and fade. Watch out for fading especially with black as it is the most obvious.

Remove all items from your closet that need attention – missing a button, need tailoring, have a hole, etc, and either repair them asap or donate them. Avoid online shopping unless the shipping is free or low in cost as most items look different on the models than on you. This is an easy way to get “stuck” with items you like the idea of but will never wear. If you’re concerned about the financial loss, try consigning at a local store or eBay to recoup a portion of the cost. If there are clothes that do not fit, due to weight gain or loss, remove them from your closet, put them in a rubbermaid tub, and set a calendar date (6 months) to see if they fit again. If they don’t (and they probably won’t) then ditch them.

It’s better to invest in high quality items, and to avoid places where everything is on sale always. Avoid buy 2 get 1 free deals, you usually don’t want 3 of the same item in different colors, unless it’s something unidentifiable like work pants for example. Invest in jackets and blazers as they give more style to any outfit and are usually quite versatile, and offer more bang for your buck than say a cardigan. Sweaters are usually the first to wear out due to the nature of the material, so don’t put all your money towards that.

Take into account your lifestyle and budget. Casual doesn’t mean sloppy. Your closet should be 80% classic, 20% trend, otherwise you’ll look like you’re trying to hard. And, remember that there is no such thing as a one size fits all perfect wardrobe!

Clothes, clothes, and more clothes! Part 1

A very common denominator with many of our clients is piles and piles of clothes. It seems to be a roadblock for many people to getting and staying organized. I think the simple truth is that we just have too many! Too many clothes that don’t fit anymore or those that are out of style or out of season are taking up prime real estate in our closets…or the floor, or the bed, or everywhere.

1-bedroom-before

After sorting through all of this clothing and what was in the closet, we came up with several bags for donations. Now all of the clothes fit comfortably in the closet and the bed and floor are clear.2-bedroom-after

One of our favorite organizers and authors is Peter Walsh. He says that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

closetbefore

closetafter

Are you inspired to tackle your clothing? Start by taking everything out. We always tell people it gets worse before it gets better. Your closet will probably look like it just threw up but it’s vital to see everything you have.

Start sorting and making piles. You need a box or big trash bag for donations or consignments. I like to use the under bed clear containers to store my out of season clothes and get them out of my closet for more space. Put like items with like items and once you have decided what can go, then you can start putting everything back in an organized, logical way.

The end of a season is the perfect time to work on your closet. And…while you work, remember the wise words of Peter Walsh – “You should only have clothes in your closet that you love, fit you well now, and make you feel good when you wear them!”

The award for ugliest bathroom in America goes to…

That’s right, we win. In fact, we even sent a video to HGTV…I still can’t believe they didn’t pick us! We decided it’s time to start our master renovation, we’re tired of the ugliness. Here it is.

img_4517
img_4516
img_6942-e1343483482219

First we came up with a plan. We didn’t like the current location of the shower (behind the door.) We also didn’t like the tub, all it was good for was collecting dust. So, we decided to move the new, bigger shower to where the tub was. We did all of the demo ourselves. We ripped out the tub, took up all of the tile, peeled off the painted over wallpaper, and ripped out the shower tile and backing down to the studs.

img_7273-e1343488458795
img_6943
img_7097

We also decided that we did not like the shape of the window. It was funky and we wanted to open it up. My husband and my dad knocked out the window and actually had to cut some of the exterior brick in order to make the window a standard rectangle. We lived for 3 weeks with just some classy plywood over the opening.

img_7155
img_7196

Now that the demo is complete, we  have brought in a professional. He has put up most of the durock (a cement board backing for the shower), installed the new rain glass window, and poured the new shower floor.

img_7271-e1343489593886

Here is the tile we picked out, we went with a modern, sleek 12×24 in a greyish brown.

img_7277

The next steps for the professional are tiling the shower and the floor, drywalling the old shower area, and finishing out the brick on the exterior.

img_7274
img_7275

Here’s what we will be doing ourselves – painting the vanity, cabinets, and trim; installing the new countertop and light fixtures; painting the walls; installing new hardware and plumbing fixtures; putting in an exhaust fan; and installing open shelving where the old shower was.

Also, rather than paying for a roll-off or sending things to the landfill during our renovation, we have been using Craigslist. You would be surprised what people will take off your hands. Under the “free” section I posted our bathtub, old vanity, and even our toilet! Within hours it was all picked up and out of our way.

It’s been a lot of work but will definitely be worth it. Stay tuned for the end result!

Repurposed for a purpose!

One thing I love about old dressers is how multi-functional they can become when they’re repurposed. Give them a fresh look with a few coats of paint and suddenly you have the perfect storage piece for a dining room buffet, a flat screen tv console, or even a functional office piece.

Here is one of my favorite pieces turned into a console for a media room.

photo

If I’m looking for a piece to function as something other than a dresser, I usually look for a piece with a middle cabinet (rather than just drawers.) However, this 9 drawer dresser looks great as a sofa table in this living room and the legs on this particular piece really dress it up.

imagejpeg_2_7

I kept this French-style piece for my own entryway, and since we don’t have a hall closet, I love that it provides great concealed storage.

20120715_222317

And, here is a complete Simple Spaces office transformation finished off with a great looking piece for storing office supplies and paperwork.

06_19_12-12396

06_19_12-12403So, when it comes to old dressers, think outside the box, and repurpose for a purpose!

Simplify by choosing quality over quantity

One of the easiest ways to simplify your home is to control the influx. We live in a world where more is better, but I personally think that better is better. Do you really need those 4 can openers? 27 pairs of flip-flops? 3 printers? 8 sets of dishes? The answer is probably no.

cabinet

I’m fortunate that my husband and I have the same philosophy. If we’re going to make a purchase, it will usually be among the best you can buy. Why? Because if you buy good quality things, they last longer and you only need one (or a few in the case of the flip-flops!)

Even most people in fashion would tell you the same applies with clothing. Spend more on some of the classic pieces that you will wear often and you can eliminate the 10 cheap ones that take up valuable closet space.

good-closet

Choose quality over quantity and simplify your home. Save money in the long run and spend less time looking for the one you need!

Red, white, and blue…paint color favorites!

img_7215

I had a productive day yesterday…aparently in honor of the 4th of July! Finding the right paint colors for your projects can sometimes be half the battle. I have a few standby favorites that I’ve been using for a long time and a few others that I’m loving this summer!

My long-time favorite white for furniture and other small projects is “Oyster” by Valspar at Lowes.

img_1157

For a nice powdery black, that looks great distressed or straight painted, try “Tricorn Black” by Sherwin Williams. (as seen above & below)

img_7206

Looking for a great turqouis? My favorites are “Cooled Blue” by Sherwin Williams and “Sprinkler” at Lowes.img_7199

08_29_11-6605a

I love coral this summer and “Peppery” at Sherwin Williams is bold & bright.

img_1160

Looking for a great grey? Try “Dovetail” by Sherwin Williams.

img_6934

Or, if you want to go bold with gold, I love  “Scrambled Eggs” by Mythic

img_7147

Going green? I love “Palmetto” by Martha Stewart.

img_6726

If you’re thinking about painting a room or a piece of furniture but you’re not sure on the color, try something small first…a lamp, a picture frame, a mirror. Or, jump right in and take a chance, you can always repaint!

Treasures take time…

When we moved into our house two and a half years ago, I knew I wanted to take my time decorating it. For months, I had rooms with almost nothing in them. I’m not saying it was easy…I had to refrain. When you move into any new place, the first instinct is to FILL IT!  But that’s really just instant gratitude..the thrill fades; especially when you realize your living room is an exact replica of your Pottery Barn catalog.

What is really rewarding is taking your time. Besides, I think you have to live in a place for a while before you can truly get a feel for how you want it to look and function.  If you want unique and original, be patient and search for furniture and decor at all kinds of different places.

Here are some of my favorite finds –

 

 

 

 

 

img_7172

The two wooden vases came from Goodwill for $30

img_7180

We use this column as an end table, $26 at a flea market!

img_7168

These chairs were $60 each and immaculate at Salvation Army, all I did was paint the arms and they help create the perfect reading area for our bedroom.

img_7174

I love this vintage green lamp I found at a local thrift store for $12. All I had to do was buy a new shade

“Enjoy the hunt – it’s worth waiting for something SPECIAL…and you’re bound to find other bits along the way” – Emily Chalmers