2015 Christmas Home Tour

This time of year is always so much fun and everyone’s favorite. For me, it’s been a little bitter sweet and filled with mixed emotions. All though their due date was in January, our girls most definitely would’ve made their grand entrance some time in December had we made it full term so I imagine this time of year will always bring reminders of that. Although they can’t be here with us to see the magic of the season unfold in person, we know they’re always close in our hearts and that’s reason enough to celebrate this time of year just as we always would.
I didn’t put much thought into this year’s décor. There’s no theme other than deciding to do an all-white tree. Much of what we used this year is the same items we’ve used in years past, just pared down…if that’s possible to do while decorating for Christmas. I have four giant bins of Christmas décor and found that I used the contents of maybe two of those bins. This tells me it’s time to purge what isn’t being used.
But enough chit-chat…let’s dive head first into our “traditional” Christmas décor around the apartment.
Our entryway received a subtle nod to the season with a couple holiday print throws for a festive touch. I’d love to find an old pair of ice skates to hang here as well.
The view of the tree is the first thing you see as you walk in through the front door.
To the left of the tree we have our TV and media cabinet in the nook. Without a traditional mantel, I hang our stockings from the cabinet using black 3M Command Hooks (every renter’s best friend). Works like a charm!
Our friend Anthony the antelope who lives above the TV got into the holiday spirit as well with a scrap piece of fabric tied around his neck as a scarf.
The coffee table got a dose of Christmas cheer too with a red runner, a pine scented (the best!) candle, and some season appropriate vase filler.
The couch wall received the most holiday décor. I swapped out the pair of black couch pillows for smaller red ones that read “Merry & Bright” and a wreath hung up by some candy cane ribbon replaces the round mirror. Excuse my horrible bow tying skills – I was running out of steam by the end!
The long console table behind the couch (tutorial coming soon!) has a few bottle brush trees I picked up at Target this year which I paired with some red glass ones I already had. The only other change I made to the table was to change out the books on the right for more seasonally appropriate colors. One of the things I love most about decorating is the ability to shop your own home, using what you have but giving it a twist to achieve the look you’re after – like giving the antelope a scarf, using the same hurricane candle holder but popping in a seasonally scented candle and vase filler, swapping out the mirror for a wreath, or using books in the right color pallet – all things I had on hand but helped sprinkle the festive touches throughout!
Directly across from the couch is the focal point of the entire room…the TREE!
We purchased a new 7 ft. Slim tree from Michaels this year for $40 and at first I wasn’t sure I’d like it but now I LOVE it! It’s perfect when you’re limited on space just like us!
I loaded it up and just love how it turned out. Our tree was already pre-lit but that didn’t stop me from adding two strands of round globe lights. I love the mix of the different lights and on the smaller tree I think it really pops!
I also spotted this snowball garland at Target and added two strands of that as well. Think beyond regular ornaments for tree décor – anything is fair game!
From there I added a lot of floral picks I got on major sale at Michaels and just a few actual ornaments I already had on hand –  white glittery ones (because glitter is always better) and some clear ones for another added layer without taking away from everything else.
I set up a wrapping station using a glass vase which neatly corals my wrapping paper rolls, ribbons, tape, and scissors all while doubling as festive décor along-side the tree. While rifling through my wrapping paper stash I noticed an abundance of red & white paper so I just went with it. The red chevron and hounds tooth paper I found at the Dollar Store last year!
The last stop on our Christmas home tour is the kitchen. I added a few hot chocolate supplies – cocoa mix, marshmallows, and chocolate chips in mason jars to our bar tray. We just dump our hot chocolate concoctions to our sweater adorned mugs and fill with steaming hot water via the Keurig. Nothing better than a yummy cup of hot chocolate to cuddle up with on the couch!
That’s all the Christmas I have to share with you from our little corner of the world – hope you enjoyed the tour and get a little inspiration to deck your halls this holiday season!

Home Hack: Rug Pads

I’m really excited to share with you this awesome little home hack I just put to use a few weeks back. I have absolutely no clue if someone else has already discovered this and blogged all about it but I thought I was pretty bad-a$$ when I thought of this and wanted to share the awesomeness with you too!

It all started when my Mom took me to a fabric shop here in Orange County that was having a store closing sale. Not only did I walk out of the store with some great fabrics that I cant wait to do something with but I also walked away with a great vintage-looking rug. When I bought it, I didn’t have any idea where it would end up in my house, but at $13 – who could pass it up? No one! That’s who!

After bringing it home, I realized that it was the perfect fit for our guest bathroom. I’ve been wanting to switch things up in there and thought that adding an unexpected rug would take things up a notch in there. The only problem? The rug didn’t have that rubberized non-slip backing typical of normal bath mats. The new rug (sans backing) and paired with a slick (and ugly) lineolum floor was a recipe for disaster.

I knew that in order to keep this rug from slipping and sliding all over the floor that it definately needed a rug pad. I went looking for rug pads and discovered that I’d have to purchase a $20 rug pad and cut it down to size to fit my odd size rug. It just seemed like a waste of money and rug pad when I quickly realized that the non-slip rug pads are the same product used to line drawers in a kitchen.

After a quick trip down the kitchen aisles, I left the store with a $5 roll of drawer liner. For my rug, it needed the entire length of drawer liner and required absolutely NO CUTTING! Plus I saved $15. Two thumbs up!

The drawer liner was the perfect substitution for a rug pad and has kept my pretty vintage-looking rug from slipping and sliding all over the place.

The dog tested it out for good measure too.

So maybe this little home hack is old news or maybe you’re just discovering it too for the first time but now you know and what’s that saying about knowledge is power?

Fall for $20

Although the calendar indicates that Fall is officially here and underway, Southern California hasn’t gotten the memo. It’s still hot around these parts (we’re flirting with the 80’s) but temps have been dropping and I hope they continue to do so. There’s no time of year I love more than Fall.

 
I usually break out the Fall / Halloween décor by late September / early October to really get into the spirit of things that this time of year brings but with everything we’ve been through over the last few months, I just haven’t gotten around to it.
 
With Halloween almost here and Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted a quick and simple project that would sprinkle our home with those warm and cozy fall feelings without having to drag our décor bins from the depths of the black hole garage.
 
Buffalo check is all the rage right now and what perfect timing because this bold take on a classic plaid print is so fitting for the season. Ive been oogling over these gorgeous pillows but when I spotted a similar fabric at Ikea for a fraction of the cost, I picked up a yard on a whim and decided to make my own low-budget version.
 

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – pillows are the easiest way to change up the look and feel of a room in an instant without much of an investment. So with my Ikea fabric, I made two pillow covers in about 30 minutes start to finish all in an effort of infusing a little fall coziness into our main living space.

 
I’ve done my fair share of sewing but usually just ask my super-sewer Mom to make my pillow covers for me instead of bothering to do it myself. But these ones? They’re all me! Even someone with the most basic of sewing skills could whip these up, no problem!
 
With a little direction from my Mom, I made two super simple envelope style pillow covers out of 1 yard of fabric. The Internet (and Pinterest) is flooded with tutorials for this type of DIY so I won’t bore you with another – just click here and use any one of these tutorials to make your own.
 
But how about a few helpful hints before you dive right in?
 
#1 – Always remember to make your cover smaller than your pillow insert. This may seem illogical but it’s the most important thing I’ve learned and the key to getting the fullest pillows! A general rule of thumb is to make your cover 2″ smaller than your pillow insert. For example: if your inserts measure 20″ x 20″, you’ll want to make your pillow cover a finished size of 18″ x 18″. Be sure to account for your seams when cutting your fabric!
 
#2 – Reinforce the seams where the two back flaps of your cover overlap. When you’re stuff your cover with the insert, that area will have the most stress put on it from all the pushing, pulling, and re-arranging your insert. Having a reinforced seam will make sure that your cover doesn’t literally rip at the seams.
 
With those tips in mind, after my covers were sewn, I gave them a quick press with the iron just to iron out any wrinkles and to press the seams. But I didn’t stop there. I decided to add a few yarn pom-poms to each corner of the pillow because nothing says fall like a good plaid and some cozy textures!
 
To make the over sized pom-poms you’ll need:
  1. Yarn
  2. Scissors
  3. Steel yarn needle
I started by wrapping the yarn around 4 of my outstretched fingers like so:
 
I wrapped the yarn loosely around my fingers approximately 70 times until my bundle was pretty thick. The same technique can be used around less fingers or wrapped around fewer times to achieve a smaller pom-pom too.
 
There are several tools out there that you can buy to assist you in making pom-poms but I didn’t have any of them so I improvised and used my fingers instead which seemed to work out just fine.
 
Once I wrapped the yarn around a sufficient amount of times, I carefully slid the bundle off my fingers and laid it in the center of a 12″ piece of yarn that I had previously cut.
 
With the single piece of yarn, I tied a knot in the middle of my bundle and then flipped it over and tied a second knot.
 
With the tied bundle, I slid my scissors through the loops on either end and cut – careful not to cut the center tie.
 
After cutting all the loops on either end you can choose to trim your pom-pom for a more uniform look or leave it as is.
 
Once I had all my pom-poms made, I used a steel yarn needle threaded with a length of yarn and sewed each pom-pom to the corner of my covers. Easy-peasy!
 
Ready to see the final result?

How cozy are these pillows? And what a big difference they make! Not too shabby for $20, right?!

 

 
Gimme all the heart eye emojis…I think I’m in love! Are you too? Please tell me you agree!

 

Plant Pots and Paint Pens

Say that 10x fast!
As I mentioned at the end of this post, I’m slowly trying to ease my way back into the blog and chip away at all those projects we put on the back burner for a bit. While we’re still knee deep in the raw every day emotions of this new life we’re adjusting to, staying busy helps.
Outside of this blog I work a regular ol’ 9-5 except instead of 5 – 8 hour days, I work 4 – 10 hour days with every Monday off. Having Mondays off is great! While everyone else in the world is at work, I’m able to accomplish a whole lot of blog related stuff and tackle a few projects around the house unless I turn on the TV and get sucked into a Gilmore Girls marathon – then all productivity goes out the window. Over the last few months, that sorta became the norm as I wasn’t very mobile towards the end but I’m slowly redirecting my focus and I have to say that it feels good.
This last Monday was a very productive one after many, many unproductive ones. I worked on and/or completed 5 new projects – all of which I’ll be sharing here sooner or later. High fives for me!
This first one is more so a facelift than it is a project and takes zero skills whatsoever. One of the things I love most about decorating is incorporating live plants into every room. I think plants just brighten up the space and when you add any sort of natural element it just brings the room to life. Unfortunately for me, I totally suck at keeping anything alive. That’s why I always tend to gravitate towards low maintenance plants – usually of the succulent variety. But even I’ve managed to kill quite a few of those too. Most recently I killed a snake plant…or most of it…which is considered to be virtually indestructible. #GOme. I think I have a chronic case of over-watering but I’m working on it.
I woke up one morning to find that 95% of my snake plant was water logged and the stalks were falling over, so after feeling like such a failure, I removed the dying stalks and was left with a whopping 3 stalks. Sure made for a wimpy plant. So while I’m trying to bring it back to life, I went to Home Depot and brought home my next victim and plopped it in the pot that the previous one vacated.
Except the pot totally sucks. Just like my plant caring abilities. It was just a plain white ceramic pot I picked up from Ikea and thought that maybe…just maybe…if I jazzed up the pot a bit the plant would last longer. #Ainthappening. But I went ahead and did it anyways because that’s how my crazy mind works. I could use all the help I can get.
The ceramic pot already had some raised detailing so I just took a paint pen and enhanced the details. Looks like a totally different pot – and much more expensive too might I add! Don’t you agree?
Here’s a side by side:
And the best part? You don’t have to have these pots with raised details from Ikea to achieve the same look. Any plain ceramic, or terra cotta pot too for that matter, can be transformed with a paint pen and free-handing a super simple pattern…think dots, crosshatch, grids – the options are endless!

So what do you say? Think this super cute pot will help keep my plant alive? Probably not but #Onecanhope.

Living Room Changes – Part 2

Last time I checked in I showed you guys the beginning stages of some small changes that we’ve been making in our living room over the past few weeks and today I’m back to show you what else we’ve been up to.
 
The next set of changes we recently made involves a part of our living room the blog hasn’t even seen yet – our media wall. Decorating your home to accommodate that uber important TV is often challenging, and in our case, was only made worse when we purchased a larger, more obnoxious television to replace our old, on the edge of death, TV. After purchasing the larger TV, we were forced to do some furniture musical chairs when it became clear that the wall that used to house the TV, was way too small.
 
The previous media wall, as seen in this really bad cell phone pic, shows just how cramped the previous situation was to begin with. The TV and media cabinet were smashed up against the curtains and sliding glass door leading out to our patio leaving no extra room to accommodate a larger TV.
 
 
So…with a new TV and the realization that the existing wall was too small, we did some rearranging and moved the TV, the media cabinet, and Anthony (the antelope) to an adjacent wall with a really annoying nook that I’ve hated since the day we moved in but since it was the only other place for the new TV, we had to make it work.
 
The nook is off center on this wall and for a person that really gravitates towards symmetry, it’s always been a nightmare for me to decorate around. This little nook has seen quite a few changes in the 2 years that’s we’ve lived here which I plan to document in a future post, but this go-around in the nook is by far my favorite.
 
 
After moving everything over into the nook, the entire wall felt visually heavy on the left and really empty on the right, making the nook all that more prominent and irritating!
 
I didn’t have much space to work with on the left but I knew that it definitely needed something to visually balance everything out and with all the craziness going on to the left, I thought something clean and symmetrical would be the best solution to both my problems.
 
I decided to do a gallery wall of frames filled with pictures from some of our most memorable travel adventures. The inspiration for this came directly from these two awesome bloggers as seen on their sites here and here.
 
Ready to see how it all came together?
 
 
For the gallery wall I chose to go with these warm wood toned frames that I scooped up at Ikea. I’ve been on a mission to bring in some wood tones and textures into our home to warm things up a bit and balance out our other black furniture pieces and I think these frames did just that!
 
 
I chose vacation photos that were bright, bold, and full of vibrant colors! It’s the perfect way to display our personal memories in a very subtle way while bringing in some fun colors at the same time.
 
To put my own little spin on our travel adventures gallery wall, I used my all time favorite (but sadly discontinued) Martha Stewart bookplate labels on the glass of each frame to name the travel destination pictured. Great thing about this is no matter what picture you showcase, the label can always be updated easily as you add more destinations to your passport! And for those with a short term memory, you’ll always have a handy reminder of where your photo was taken!
 
 
To hang the pictures, I used every renters BFF – 3M Command Strips (you can see the little bump out of the Command Strip on the top of each frame in the photo below). Using 3M Command Strips saved me from putting 16+ nail holes in the wall and from having to patch all those holes when we leave. Plus, 3M Command Strips are re-positionable and made it easy to make sure my grid lines were nice and straight. Can’t beat that!
 
 
All in all, for all the challenges this wall & the larger TV presented us with, I’d say I’m smitten with the results! Plus I think Anthony is enjoying the new scenery too…
 
 
There’s still one more change I’m working on to round out our living room refresh, be sure to check back soon so you don’t miss out!
 
 
 
 
 

Living Room Cha-cha-changes

I’ve been making a few changes to our main living space and am dropping in today to share the first of many minor tweaks that have been happening over the last few weeks.
 
I’ve been eager to infuse a little more color into our normally neutral living room for quite some time and one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do that is through pillows. It’s so easy and convenient to change out your pillows throughout the season or hey…just because! I’m a known hoarder of pillows and can always be found perusing the pillow aisles at any home décor store. One of the greatest things about having a mainly neutral base is that it makes adding color on a whim, so easy!
 
 
I picked these vibrant blue floral motif pillows up at HomeGoods and I think they’re the perfect counterpart to the darker navy curtains while boldly standing out against the neutral backdrop of the couch.
 
 
I’m loving these new pillows so much and think they bring in the perfect amount of color for summer.
 
 
What do you think? Do you love HomeGoods as much as this girl does? Have you ever switched out your pillows for an instant change or for a quick living room face lift? How are you infusing color into your home this Summer?
 
Be sure to check back soon for the other living room changes we’ve made over the last few weeks! I’m so excited for you all to see!
 

15 Minute Fix – Bar Tray

Hi friends!!

I’m back from our Hawaiian vacation, very well rested, and cant wait to share all the fun we had basking in the sun! With all unpacking and laundry that needs to be done I thought the best first project back post vacation would be another project in my 15 Minute Fix series where I tackle a project or something on my to-do / want-to-do list in 15 minutes or less because sometimes all we have time for are quick little projects, am I right?

 
This project is all about reinventing an ordinary, every day item. My favorite kind of DIY! I spotted this pink mirror at the thrift store and although I didn’t need a new mirror, the mirror was inset in a deep frame and I thought it’d make the perfect tray. Just so happened that I needed a tray because one can never have too many trays!
 
 
 
To change my thrift store find from a mirror to a tray, I started by taping off the mirror with some computer paper and painters tape and then sprayed the entire frame white.

 

 After the frame was painted, I removed the hanging hardware from the back of the frame. Once the hardware was removed, I covered the bottom of the tray with craft foam sheets that I found at Michael’s. To adhere the foam to the back of the mirror, I used spray glue and let it cure for a full day.
 
To add some interest to the mirror turned tray so that it wasn’t just a boring white tray, I attached these brass corner brackets on each corner.

 

 Once completed, I loaded up my new mirrored tray with all our bar essentials. The mirrored tray is reflective and looks great with all our decanters we’ve collected. Since the tray is mainly stationary and really just meant to define a space atop our buffet and to corral all our bar necessities, I never have to/need to move it while all loaded up. I don’t suggest transporting the tray fully loaded as the mirror may crack under the weight of the items.

How’s that for a quick 15 minute project? This project was so, so easy and the perfect post vacation project while I’m knee deep in laundry and vacationing from my vacation!