Moody Hallway Makeover

As you might expect, I love talking decor with friends so when my bestie shared she was working on her hallway, I was eager to see what she had in mind.  She was on a strict budget so she was going to do what she could with the space without spending a fortune.  That included keeping the vinyl flooring that was ahem, less than ideal.  A few weeks later I stopped by and was stopped dead in my tracks with the impressive makeover she completed. I so wish I had a before photo to share but you'll just have to take my word for it that this hardly feels like the same home.

Yes, that floor is handpainted.  I don't know how many hours it took but I think "a lot" would probably not cover it.  She did not use a stencil but rather marked out the pattern with car detailing tape.  Hard to believe this is all just old vinyl.

I'm just in love with this space and wanted to share it with you too!  I call it moody in the best way possible. This space tells me something about the owner while still being practical.  While it's small in size, the flooring and the art draws the eye in giving it a feel of more space.  Hooks and a bench make it functional.  The "hello" and "goodbye" give it whimsy and finally the floor gives so much style.

Sherwin Williams Anchors Aweigh
Gold Paint
Brass Chandelier
Brass Pendant 
Mid Century Style Wood Bench
Brass Pilltop Hooks
Wood Panels
Door Decals

Inexpert Guide to Packing for Family of 4 in One Suitcase

If you haven't already noticed, we really enjoy traveling and think the rewards are well worth the hassle. Of course traveling with little kids make the whole experience a much different proposition but there are certain things we do to make it easier on ourselves.  One of those things is traveling as light as reasonably possible.  Before kids, that meant one small carry on suitcase each no matter where we were going or for how long.  With 2 kids in tow, carrying 2 suitcases is a very NOT fun juggling exercise (free hands for child wrangling is preferred) so we decided early on to cut way back and stick with one (albeit larger than carry on size) suitcase for all of us. Here are my inexpert tips on how to not only survive but thrive on a family vacation with just what fits inside one bag.

I will say upfront I am by no means a hard core light packer. There are people who have traveled for a year on what fits in a backpack. I'm not one of those people.  I like to wear clean clothes, I like to have a few options in wardrobe and I like to be comfortable, I like my kids to look cute.  So I do take a good bit of stuff with me - we just use a few guiding principles to keep it manageable.

The one suitcase motto has 3 important parts:
1. Bring what you need
2. Don't bring what you won't use/can find there
3. Make it Fit

Bring What You Need
The very best way to reduce what you absolutely need to pack in terms of clothing is to plan to laundry while on your trip. You can make this easy or hard but either way it's not as inconvenient as it sounds.  The easy way is booking an apartment hotel, time share or airbnb that has laundry facilities.  The slightly harder way is staying in a hotel and finding a laundromat nearby.  Thanks to the internet this is only a click away.  Added bonus is that doing laundry like a local is the ultimate authentic experience and you meet people you would never meet otherwise. Since I like wearing clean clothes everyday AND my kids seem to need multiple outfits per day to stay clean, we tend to do laundry once every 3-4 days on a vacation.

Laundry or not, you still need something to wear on your back.  Layers are definitely your friend both because they pack light but also because you can mix and match to make several different outfits from the same pieces. Pick a color scheme to make mixing and matching a lot easier. There are also a few key wardrobe pieces that take up almost no room and prove to be invaluable while away.  The list is short but key
- comfortable, versatile shoes like these Lucky Ballet Flats 
- a lightweight open cardigan in a color that goes with everything
- a fun scarf to keep you warm on the plane and to punch up a plain outfit
- great statement earrings
- a versatile maxi dress that can be worn anywhere

Don't Bring What You Don't Need
I pack outfits, not individual pieces.  Of course you can mix it up when you arrive but planning in outfits makes sure you aren't bring more of any one thing than you really need.

This is where you have to be a bit brutal.  Be realistic about what you will do when you get to your destination. For example, we don't go out to fancy meals or events because it isn't practical with littles.  So that's an entire category of clothing I can leave home.  If Im going to a warm weather destination and plan on wearing flip flops most of the time, I don't need to pack 7 pairs of socks.  You get the picture. You have to be honest about yourself about what you really need.

Where possible bring clothing that can be worn more than once without washing like your favorite jeans. Not as common for adults but reversible clothing is also lovely when you can find it.

Avoid bringing anything that has to be dry cleaned or need special washing (like white clothing that needs to be laundered separately).

Do not bring what they have there**  If you are going to a hotel that has a hair dryer, don't pack your own. I know, i know - their blow dryer isn't as good as yours.  Let it go!   Don't bring baby food for the entire trip if you know you are staying across the street from a supermarket. You get the idea.  No only does this save you room but it also scores you other authentic local experiences by shopping for your consumables.

Pack essentials first.  Once you have put the absolute must have, do or die items in yours suitcase, you will see just how much extra room you have.  It will help you be much more selective in what you bring.

**There are always exceptions. I'm brutal about what not to bring in every way except when it comes to diapers.  We generally bring those with us not because they can't be purchased but because as they get used, it leaves room in our suitcase for souvenirs. 

Leave the Toy Store at Home You will be surprised what your kids find entertaining when they don't have a million toys.  I generally bring one or two small, soft toys that I can stuff into my purse - more as a comfort than a real playset.  Everything becomes a toy when there are none to be had.  Save the space in your bag for things you can't live without.

Make it Fit
Technically if you have followed the tenets of bringing just what you need, you really don't need this section but lets face it - there is always the temptation of bringing just a little bit more. In those situations you might need to employ some make it fit tips.

Use a soft sided expandable suitcase (we use this one). Yes, the hard sided ones look cooler but are much more restrictive. You will be able to jam much more in a soft sided model.

I don't understand the science behind this AT ALL but somehow rolled clothing takes up less room than folded one. Don't ask me to explain it. It just works.

Organize inside. With 4 people sharing one suitcase, it can get kind of messy so I've recently started using packing cubes and I'm such a convert! Not only can you squeeze more clothing in the bag but you can also put the cubes in your hotel's dresser drawers as opposed to living out a messy suitcase.

Wow.  I thought that I had nothing to say on this topic but I guess I did.  If you are still reading, thanks for sticking around.  I hope you found some of my advice helpful.  At the very least your back will thank me.

3 Easy Tricks to Up your Curb Appeal Game

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schlage. The opinions and text are all mine. 

**Click here to enter to win $1000 gift card + design consultation with Carmen Phillips**

While curb appeal gets a lot of attention when you are selling a house, it can sometimes be neglected when you are actually living there. It's easy to get overlooked since you spend most of your time INSIDE and other jobs can take priority. But, there are easy ways to improve a home's curb appeal without a ton of effort (so you can get back to your big to-do list elsewhere) and reap the rewards you can enjoy every time your return home.

There are plenty of traditional, time tested ways to improve your curb appeal from great landscaping to beautiful woodworking to upgraded lighting. You probably have already heard them all so I won't bore you with the basics. Instead, I'm sharing a few easy tricks that you might not have thought of before.  Added bonus is that they that take very little time or money to implement but still reap big rewards.

Trick #1 | Opt for dark colors Instead of getting a new front door, paint your existing one with a rich shade to create a modern eye catching entry. While investing in a fabulous front door is generally a great idea, paint can do wonders at a fraction of the price. Skipping the bright colors and sticking with a dark shade will help hide a multitude of sins while making even an outdated style appear modern and fresh. Black is a perpetual favorite, but you can create the same impact with rich inky blues, forest greens and charcoal greys. Don't be afraid to go dark here as a deep front door will attract the eye -particularly if your home is painted a lighter shade. The same concept is employed by a winding stone path, spot lighting and great molding but this idea is a much easier solution with the exact same result!

Trick #2 | Update your door hardware Even the most outdated door gets an instant pick me up with a new front handle set. Especially if you pick something with great clean lines like SCHLAGE'S CENTURY FRONT ENTRY HANDLESET. Not only is this an easy upgrade to install that beautifies your entryway - it also improves the security of your space in a flash. You can go two ways with finish. Opt for the matte black finish on a dark door (as in this example) to give a more modern, monochromatic feel to the entry space Or go with a matte brass or nickel to create some visual contrast and eye catching reflective surface. Either way, the new handleset will create the impression of a more updated home in a flash.

Trick #3 | Add Whimsy Whether it be a fun vinyl decal welcoming your guests, a modern wreath or a pink flamingo, adding something just a little bit fun will not only show your personality but also gives the eye something to rest on. On the example above, the white "hello" decal is a super affordable and fun addition that can be installed in one minute flat. This technique will distract from the elements of your entry that are less than ideal. Take a step back and look at your front entry way. Does it have depth and texture already with the existing structure, materials and plantings? If not, add in a few layers like big leafy green ferns or hanging plants, updated house numbers or an eye catching welcome mat. If your front entry space is located on a porch, add a cozy seating area for extra welcome. The goal is to be inviting to both guests and residents so go the extra mile to create that message visually

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schlage. The opinions and text are all mine.

Shore Bedroom Makeover

It doesn’t feel that long ago but we bought our little apartment on the Jersey Shore more than 10 years ago now.  Our lives were very different back then and this little getaway has changed as drastically as our lives.  We renovated the bathroom and kitchen and carved a kid’s room out of the living room space.  It was finally time to tackle our bedroom.  It had never been a priority before but a restful place to lay our heads has suddenly taken on new meaning.

This is how we found it the day we decided to purchase it.

Let’s just say Better Homes & Gardens wasn’t going to come calling anytime soon.  We did a few patches here and there with some ikea furniture and paint but it never felt like a truly well put together, restful space.

I’m happy to share it’s finally a totally different room thanks to some help from my friends at Hayneedle.

The anchor of the room is the Linen Tufted Wingback Bed which is a beautiful shade of navy. As you can see, I didn’t want to go too crazy with the coastal vibe but I wanted to have just the suggestion of the shore.

Since there were already a lot of rectangles in the room I wanted to add some more organic shapes and textures.  I started with the using these round end tables in place of traditional nightstands.

The walls were painted a dramatic deep grey (BM Kendall Charcoal) but needed a little artwork to break it up. The abstract artwork stopped me dead in my scroll – the perfect shade, organic shape and nod to the sea without being something too on the nose.

For lots of extra storage as well as a warm infusion of natural wood, we put this long 8 dresser chest of drawers along the long wall.  This thing holds sooo much and looks lovely doing it.

Finally my absolute favorite addition is this modern update on a wingback chair.  Tucked in the corner, it’s the perfect spot to flip through a magazine or put on your sandals before heading out.

I’m so happy with this room now that I catch myself peeking in there every chance I get!

Source list:

Disclosure: Some of the products featured in this post were provided by Hayneedle but all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Outdoor Movie Night at the Country Cottage

Remember the fab DIY circular patio and firepit I shared last year? Well, it got a serious upgrade in the form of an outdoor movie theater set up this season.

You will have to excuse the less than stellar image. The truth is, we were having too much fun out here and I just never got around to taking a great photograph.  But I think you can get the idea.

It's not something they keep up permanently but rather bring it out when the situation calls for it.  I think Aggie's first viewing of the Wizard of Oz was certainly occasion enough.

For those that are curious about the details, the projector is a refurbished home theater projector.  I was really shocked how clean and crisp the picture was even with the ambient light around the patio in the form of the outdoor string lights.  The only downside to this projector is that the built in speaker isn't great so my brother uses a separate speaker instead which worked perfectly.

As for the screen I had just assumed they would hang a white sheet up between the trees.  Little did I know that a sheet just won't work very well b/c the light goes right through it so they were going to need something a bit more heavy duty. They used this portable projector screen, added heavy duty grommets to the edges and built a frame out of pvc pipe that was easy to put up and break down as needed.

With the fire roaring and everyone kicking back in the adirondack chairs, it's a pretty amazing set up.

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