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House Update: One Month In

8 Jan

Full disclosure: I penned this in early August but only JUST had the mind to go back and add photos so this is a very belated post detailing where my mind was in late summer. Bear with me… I’m catching up.

Weeeee! July of this past year passed in a blur of hasty decisions, impulse paint sample purchases and sweaty hours out in the yard putting in a garden. And white wine. July has been a blur of white wine.

My main focus probably should have been on unpacking but once we had the bare essentials done, I wanted decor in place and I wanted it NOW. I’ve always been more of a decorator than anything else. It’s tough though, because I still don’t have a fully blown out idea of what direction I want our decor to go in.

home-decor-palletteAn overall home decor guide/color palette I put together years ago

My “Inside” Pinterest board is all over the place. Not to mention, we’re lacking a lot of the foundation pieces you typically require in a new space — like lamps, bookcases, end tables and other storage pieces.  I want to slowly shop for the right pieces and not just buy whatever. So it’s a slow-go. I have to keep reminding myself that this is the fun part of owning a home and that the vision will come together the more I poke around. Kind of a Field of Dreams, “If you poke around in enough antique/thrift/flea markets, the pieces will come” type of deal.

nate-berkus-for-elle-decor-2008Nate Berkus’ Chicago apartment, slideshow here

To that point, I recently re-read a great tip in a beloved old copy of Elle Decor from my favorite style guru, Nate Berkus. He said that when you’re struggling to define your style at home, just make one choice. That will inform the next choice and then the next. It’s brilliant. Thanks Nate! And check out his killer Chicago apartment which I grabbed my favorite picture of, above. But… I digress.

It’s obvious that my wheels are spinning, style-wise, when you look at the really subtle, cool paint color we chose for our living room — Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray, (which I’m in love with). It doesn’t quite “flow” with the color we chose to paint out front door: Benjamin Moore’s Spectre Blue. It’s obvious I’m very much all over the place still trying to nail down our style and our home priorities.

Case in point: About a week after moving in, I became obsessed with our bathroom. Our 1950’s ranch features one, gloriously teeny tiny bathroom that is original to the house.

in-defence-of-pink-bathroomssource: HGTV

It’s pink. It was midway down my list of projects to tackle in the first few years actually after our home inspector explained that the shower tile was mud-set which basically renders a bathroom remodel A LOT harder. But since the bathroom is so tiny and lacks any storage space whatsoever, it quickly became my mission to figure out how to keep it tidy, streamlined and liveable. Every time I’d walk by, I’d tinker with the towels or the bathmat or whether leaving the white shower curtain open or closed would improve the feel of the space.  I was maniacal about the door remaining as flush to the wall as possible so the space felt less claustrophobic and even purposely styled our greenish or black toiletries and candles to adorn the clear shelving to compliment the peachy/pink and black accent tile. This trick actually gave a very chic, hipster vibe I’m kind of into actually but I don’t think my husband appreciates that I keep moving his body wash and shaving mirror because their colors clash with my scheme.

Eventually I started to research “learning to love your vintage pink bathroom” and became obsessed with fully embracing ours. I stumbled across article after article imploring those with original pink bathrooms like ours to “Save the Pink Bathroom!” There’s even a Facebook group and a pledge page to preserve these rare vintage bathrooms.

It’s a thing and it’s kind of sweet. Here are 10 facts about pink bathrooms if your interest is piqued. It definitely worked for me. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Pam Kuber of Retro Renovation for championing this cause. I also LOVE a challenge and making our teeny pink bathroom work has proven to be one of my favorite projects of our home so far.


One of the best tips I came across was that downplaying the pink actually makes a pink bathroom stand out even more — you have to lean into it. Layer on the pink.  It’s a tactic that Martha Stewart employed to beautiful result in her pink bathroom at Skylands, her sprawling estate in Maine. The picture above isn’t great, but it’s the only one I was able to find. Are you dying over those light sconces? And that gorgeous, leggy vanity? (Sidenote: I’d give just about ANYTHING to visit Skylands but I’ve read that Martha only auctions off tours for charity. Womp womp.)


Our bathroom actually features an almost peachy-pink tile with a black subway tile accent and a penny tile type of floor, again, with the black accent (and an almost exact layout to the above). So for me, I almost treat both as neutrals and have fun introducing whatever colors I want. For a while, I was CONVINCED that this Albert Hadley “Fireworks” wallpaper was what needed to happen in our bathroom after seeing countless examples that had me drooling:

I changed my mind though and decided wall papering in our steamy, poorly ventilated bathroom wasn’t a good idea, but not after I doggedly tracked the nearly impossible to find wallpaper down. Fun fact — it’s discontinued. Naturally. But you bet I found it thanks to a local paint supply store and my usual willful determination.


I toyed with the idea of doing a few other large and small scale wallpapers but ultimately decided to just focus on accessories and art. I’m dying to DIY a version of this Buddha art above! And I have to say, our bathroom has become a favorite space in our home. I’m thinking of possible introducing some wood tones in the form or a bamboo shade and some shelves and a lidded trash bin, but so far, a lidded trash bit seems to be an elusive bathroom item. I might have to use a small lidded hamper maybe.

Anyways, here is my Pinterest board of Pink Bathroom Inspiration if you’re interested in any of the other ideas I’ve culled together or you’d like some sources for any of the above photos featured.

I’m slowly catching up on a backlog of “House Update” posts and will have fall and winter update posts to share very soon so please stay tuned.

House Hunting, Update 3 — It’s Official

13 Jun


It’s official: we’re homeowners!!! We closed on our first house last week!!! It was an anxiety-ridden whirlwind from the open house to the closing but we survived.  I can’t overstress how elated I felt being handed the keys as we left the closing; I wanted to scream I was so euphoric. We couldn’t stop smiling.


We even got a sweet Disney keychain in the deal (score)

It was a long, hard road to home ownership for us but I can’t say I have any regrets because we benefitted from everything we learned. (It’s much easier to say that in hindsight!) All that heartache served a purpose: when we saw this house, we knew we had to move fast, submit a really strong offer since there was a lot of interest, and write a really good letter to the sellers.  I have to thank my mom for this last tip actually.

Throughout the home-buying process, she frequently reminded me that “You never know the motivation of the seller” and to basically assume nothing about what they are willing to take as far as price. Selling a home can be completely emotional or not at all. You never know. And she also reminded me that you get the house your meant to have, which is exactly how I feel about our new place compared to the two others we nearly called home.

We’ve gotten a LOT done in the 5 days since the closing, but before I recap where we are, here are a few pictures from the closing, final walkthrough and celebrations last week:

IMG_7677Much more closing paperwork than I anticipated

IMG_7661Brian and Emilia walking the yard during the final walkthrough before the closing

IMG_7684Emilia making herself at home in her new home – no pants here!

IMG_7728Picked up some celebratory Prosecco (+ Cabot’s sundaes) to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary AND first full day as homeowners

IMG_7727First priority — get my plants to my new garden

We returned to the house immediately following the closing and started to slap paint samples up on the walls, unload the window boxes I planted weeks ago so they’d be ready to go up ASAP, and unpack the box of “Helper Supplies” we put together filled with things like:

bottled water and snacks
hand soap
paper plates and napkins
a First Aid kit
Tylenol and Ibuprophen
Hand towels and rags
Trash bags
An iPhone charger

Here’s a quick recap of the past few days:

My family stopped by shortly after for a walkthrough with my brother Kevin who’d not yet been through the house, and there were celebratory Starbucks’ Smore Frappuccios at some point — heavenly! We net two neighbors — Eileen and Nancy and Emilia admired every single dog that was walked in our new neighborhood from her perch, peering out the front screened door. At some point, I found time to paint the front door a gorgeous shade of blue by Benjamin Moore called: Spectra Blue. (Love how it turned out!!!)

My mom and I started to remove the 10,000 hostas  (really large, leafy plants) lining the garage to prepare the space for the garden that will be focal point for the coming summer. Brian and I met with one more floor guy who we loved, so we scrapped plans to have our families over to paint this past weekend, and had our oak floors refinished and stained. Don was nice enough to show we a few different stains since I could decide what I wanted and I absolutely love how they turned out.

Related to the floors: due to the timing of when we could be fit in for them, we ended up spending our first night in the new house a little sooner than we’d expected. We’d forgotten we had a Dave Matthew’s Band show on Friday night so it didn’t make sense to drive home to Watertown if we needed to be back at the house at 8 AM to let the floor crew in, so after a deep vacuuming session and some Swiffering, we just threw two twin mattresses on the dining room floor.  It was fun to sleep over in the new place before we made any drastic changes to it.

And today (Sunday) my mom and I managed to get the “focal point” part of the garden completely planted in about only four hours. I’m wiped, so so thrilled. It’s coming together! More to come. Stay tuned!

House Hunting, Update 2: Talking Paint

13 Jun

Edit: This post was written on April 18th, but I delayed posting until now just to be sure we actually got it. And WE DID!!!

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.07.42 AM

Our offer was accepted on the house and I think I was looking at paint samples within the hour. I’m so indecisive, I knew I needed a massive head start if I wanted to plan to paint before we move-in.

I’m leaning towards lots and lots of taupes and beige. I know — snore. But I know once the trim is all painted up with a fresh coat of white and all our beautiful home accessories and art are layered in, that taupe will provide the perfect warm backdrop for the cozy home I’ve been decorating in my mind for the past 5 years. So bear with me.

Gray is the “it” color lately so I’m tempted to steer clear, but it just looks so damn good. I know I should just paint every single room “Decorator’s White” and live with it and see how we feel at the end of the summer. But that’s so boring and safe. So second most boring it is: taupe.

I’ve always been pretty terrible at undertones, so I’ve been doing a LOT of research to learn more about that. This interior decorator had a great summary of how to approach whole-house color palettes for people like me who are thinking they want neutrals everywhere but don’t actually know what the hell they’re talking about:

I am a fan of most all color schemes when the percentages are done right. However, as popular as gray has become, put a bunch of your things together….couch cushions, area rugs, comforters, cabinets, etc. in the same viewing then pick a color that marries well with all of these elements. Never look at anything in isolation or you will have no flow or continuity between the spaces. Another thing, before you even consider picking paint, decide whether you want a cool color scheme or a warm color scheme. In simplistic terms, gray = cool and beige = warm. You want to aim for something close to a 70/20/10 for percentages but your first decision is whether you want a warm or a cool color scheme. After you make that decision, vastly dominate with something to avoid getting a 50/50 combination of colors. So beige could be a good choice for 70% (walls, carpet) then choose coordinating colors then your accents. Also factor in the undertones in your wood. Can mix cool & warm in a color scheme as long as you vastly dominate with something that is your 70%. People try to tell me ‘I only want neutrals’ but the truth is, you have to identify the undertones in everything you have or the room will fail. Ladies….you can identify with this using your foundation as a good reference…..there will be some with a yellow or a pink undertone. These things are anything BUT neutral, especially if you end up putting something with a pink undertone on top of something with a green undertone. You’ll look dead! Same thing happens in interior design. If you hold up primary colors next to paint, you can then identify the undertones. – Angelo Wilson-Keel, interior designer

A few of the colors I’m really gravitating toward are:

7bf1d5ed01f2f0ac_2998-w500-h400-b0-p0--traditional-living-room Manchester Tan, by Benjamin Moore

beach-style-entryAccessible Beige, by Sherwin-Williams
Interior by Regan Baker Design

revere-pewterRevere Pewter, by Benjamin Moore

transitional-living-roomShale, by Benjamin Moore
Interior by Martha O’Hara Interiors