CREATING A FUN (AND FUNCTIONAL!) ENTRYWAY

Well, I most definitely have not been a good blogger…but I have been a good designer! I’ve pulled in my first e-design clients ya’ll, and so far it’s been so much fun and quite a success. It began as a small project – a 6×6 project, to be exact. I was asked to liven up a very empty entryway into a semi-open concept, California home. After reading through the client’s completed questionnaire, I quickly realized how well-matched our vision and design style was. I probably couldn’t have hand-picked better clients myself! So I hit the ground running, full of ideas and excitement.

Entryways can be a little tricky though, for two reasons: 1. they’re kind of like the windows to the soul. It’s that important first impression – you want to let your personality shine, but you don’t want to tell your entire life story in one breath (entire life story = way too much clutter for a miniscule space!), and 2. storage. Yep, kind of boring, but totally necessary. You have to make your entryway functional. As much as you may want a pristine cowhide rug, a marbled console, and an oversized vase filled with cherry blossoms, that just ain’t gonna work if you have two dogs, a kid, and a husband that doesn’t understand the concept of style.

So you have to start with the basics. Review your lifestyle and the ensuing wear and tear your entryway will receive, and go from there. If you throw off your shoes the moment you walk into the house, designate a space for said shoes, and a small bench or stool to put them back on as you leave. If you’re always giving yourself a final onceover before heading out the door, hang a mirror above a console and gather a few lip glosses in a decorative bowl to have at the ready. If you have a big family, a lot of coats, and very little closet space, you just may want to throw in a coat rack and a few organizational, catch-all pieces. Catch my drift? Once you have your basics covered, you can start piecing in the fun, quirky stuff.

Hi Sugarplum | Layers of an Entrance Hall

(Over-sized mirror + console with catch-all bowl + personal touches and greenery = quirky elegance via Hi Sugarplum)

Loft Living Room Makeover vintagerevivals.com-23

(Customized vintage storage + family organization + major greenery and quirky pendant light = major “modage” boho via Vintage Revivals)

So that’s what we did. They knew they wanted some kind of streamlined, modern storage. They have one, well-behaved dog so they knew they needed a place to hang the leash, and they knew they wanted a catch-all basket and some greenery. With that in mind, I pulled together this initial draft moodboard to make sure we were on the same page…

eDesign: Entryway Moodboard

Simple, yet colorful and eclectic. The dash wallpaper you see above is actually a light, cotton fabric that will be applied to the ceiling (the rest of the walls will be white). On a side note, I’m omitting the full design concept / layout to give my clients a little privacy, but luckily they loved  it! They were a little unsure about the semi-floating shelf, however, so I went with a variation on the design to give them a new perspective:

E Striebel Draft #2 Moodboard

Not a huge difference, eh? I swapped the hanging drawers with some floating, open shelving – perfect for draping some greenery! – but in order to better balance the open shelving, I went with a simple, DIY coat rack on the opposite wall for small accessories (totes, hats, scarves, leashes…).

In the end, we went with a lovely, modern floating console (just fyi: in the design layout, decorative hooks are included for the leash and other small accessories!) and I, and more importantly, my clients couldn’t be happier! Here is the final product board…

E Striebel Final Product Mood Board

Not too busy but still functional, fun, and full of personality! What do you think? Would you have gone with the floating console or the aluminum open shelving (totally a personal preference – I love both options, obviously)?

Like I said, I really think I got the Golden Goose of a first client, and I’m looking forward to future design projects. With our styles and communication so aligned, next in line will be their great room, dining room, and kitchen – so stay tuned!

If you’re interested in my e-design services, feel free to head on over to my shop on Etsy or just shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to help you as best I can!

TODDLER INTERIORS: THE PLAYROOM (and keeping toys to a minimum)

It’s hard to believe that a short 17 months ago, Greyson was – in so many words – a baby blob. I’ve been warned how quickly they grow up, and it is so true! The kid is now a walking, talking,little man. Its pretty incredible, actually, but the evidence is in all the STUFF spread across the house. Cars, trucks, trains, balls, bristle blocks…by the end of the day it looks like a tornado tore through the house and left behind nothing but toys. Where did they all come from?!

Corner of Playroom FINAL

Pre-baby, I promised myself that we would be toy minimalists. What does a kid need so many toys for anyhow? They only have two hands and are what…30+ inches or so? Boy was I wrong! Between grandparents and my own occasional shopping sprees (kid stuff is just so darn cute!), we now have ourselves a nice collection. Unfortunately though, our house didn’t get any bigger while making this collection so I’m beginning to feel a bit more like a hoarder and less like a over-excited mother. So, back to this whole minimalist thing…

I’ve been trying to figure out what to keep vs. what to donate, and it is so much harder than I thought it would be! I mean, everything can be considered an “educational toy” in some sense, right? I’ve considered keeping only the classic wood toys while tossing the rest, except for books, of course. One can never have too many books. And a reading nook as a must. And Elmo, the kid LOVES Elmo. And balls. And blocks. You can’t go wrong with balls and blocks. And puzzles. Because puzzles are important for gross development. You see the problem here?

TeePee FINAL

So, in an attempt to keep myself in line, I’ve been pinning some nice, MINIMALIST play areas that are colorful, fun, functionable, and appealing to the Bigs and the Littles alike. Here’s what I found so far:

seventy-tree-kids-charlotte-love

Dreamy kids room

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Kids room - adorable and bright colors.

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the color!!!!

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Now to put thought into action! Hopefully an update is coming soon :)

How do you keep your toddler toys minimized and organized?

SPRING ROUTINE: NO-BRAINER MAKEUP

Did everyone have a wonderful Easter weekend? For me, I’m pretty sure this past weekend will go into my top 5 all-time favorite weekends. Everything about it was glorious. My parents were in town, the kid was in a great mood, the weather was spectacular, and we basically spent all weekend outdoors, dying eggs, going for walks, drinking beer. And Greyson’s reaction to the Sunday morning festivities was priceless. God do I love that kid.

Anyhow, Spring is officially here! And with it comes a lighter, more natural makeup routine. I thought I’d share with you some  of my favorite, go-to products for a simple, fresh face. But first, I’ve got to put it out there: I am NOT a makeup pro. In fact, I’m pretty much a minimalist when it comes to any form of a makeup routine. But I have gained an interest over the last year, mostly because I was horrified at the thought of becoming frumpy once motherhood took its toll. Eeek.

Well, motherhood HAS taken its toll, but frankly, I’m kind of loving it. I don’t know – I think I look a little softer around the edges, wiser, and more patient. I don’t (yet) feel the need to slather on the foundations and cover ups and highlighters to morph my face into a younger, thinner version of myself. I guess I kind of like this current version.

So with that in mind, here are my favorite and very inexpensive items I use for my daily Spring routine:

No Brainer Makeup

1. My skin is fairly normal, perhaps with a slight tendency toward the dry side, but when I was pregnant I pretty much morphed into a lizard. My face seriously shed on a daily basis. I tried every lotion under the sun to achieve some semblance of normalcy but everything seemed either far too watery or far too oily. Enter St. Ives. I’ve used their scrub, of course, but had never actually tried their lotion until I read a glowing review on Maskcara. It was my savior and I still use it to this day with absolutely no complaints! It goes on light and isn’t oily at all, which makes it perfect for Springtime use.

2. There are so many BB creams (and CC and DD…) out there, but this one is cheap, available in pretty much any drug/grocery store, and gets the job done. I use the light sheer tint for an all-over cover and even tone. For an even smoother, less cakey finish, I mix it in with my St. Ives moisturizer.

3. I have to admit, this bronzer initially looked a little  intimidating and far too dark for my complexion, but I read so many amazing reviews on it that I figured, what the heck?! And I’m so happy I did! It gives that nice, beach-y glow before your feet ever touch the sand. A quick swipe of the makeup brush is all you need so this bronzer also lasts FOREVER.

4. I’m a sucker for cream blushes. For me, they just seem to look more natural. This blush is a great daily blush because again, it is super cheap, readily available, and creates a soft, natural glow. I have it in both fresh pink and peach satin.

5. After I apply my blush and bronzer, I simply rub my fingers across this E.L.F. highlighter and  dab it on my cheek bones, brow bones, and  ridge of nose to give my skin that dewy effect (I use moonlight pearls).

6. For me, eyelid primer is a must. Otherwise, that eye shadow I spent the extra minute applying ends up all over my face.This mineral primer, again by E.L.F. keeps the shadow nicely in place.

7. I think we’re all pretty familiar with this Maybelline mascara. It’s an old faithful, eh?

8. This is the kind of perfume that will become a classic. It is a scent that I have worn for years and will wear for years to come. It is not overpowering in the least – incredibly light, in fact, with just a hint of floral – and simply delicious!

And there you have it! What are some of your favorite makeup items for Spring?

LOFT LIVING: A NEW eDESIGN

Phew! That last post was a bit of a doozey so I’m going to keep it simple this time around.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my slight obsession with Mandi over at Vintage Revivals. A genius that woman is! Most recently, she morphed what was already a pretty awesome space into something TOTALLY different. I mean, it doesn’t even look like the same space, right?

Living Room Makeover @ Vintage Revivals-2-2

Loft Living Room Makeover vintagerevivals.com

I actually love living in the country (I actually live near downtown Charlottesville, but coming from DC, it feels like the country!), but oh how I long for that urban getaway! Feeling a bit inspired by Mandi’s glorious transformation, and after daydreaming for longer than I care to admit, I decided to create a new Loft Living eDesign…
Loft Living
  1.  Leather sofa – I love how it’s already distressed, but it’s a bit pricey – HERE is a cheaper option that I have no doubt your butt will naturally distress!
  2. Balloons over Manhattan – This photo is fantastic and it adds a little color and whimsy to the space. I would suggest ordering the largest size possible, or requesting a custom size.
  3. Wool rug – I think this rug is beautiful and absolutely perfect for the space…if you have the cash to spare. BUT, very unfortunately, most of us don’t so you can find some cheaper options HERE and HERE.
  4. Rattan chairs – LOVE these chairs. They are so simple yet so versatile and stylish.
  5. Arm chair – Gotta love Jonathan Adler!
  6. Leather pouf – some cheaper options HERE, HERE, and HERE
  7. Side table – Currently unavailable, but THIS is a good option. Or THIS.
  8. Coffee table – Threshold is killing it these days!
  9. Lateral file cabinet – A dual-purpose piece is always a YES in my book, particularly for small-space living. This streamlined filing system can serve as a console table while keeping all the paper clutter at bay!
  10. Herb pot / Cactus garden / Ceramic hedgehog planter / Himmeli hanging planter – A little dose of happiness. There is nothing like plant life to make a space feel more alive.
  11. Trio pendant lighting – the naked bulbs keeps the space open and airy while still providing enough light.
  12. Tripod floor lamp – sold out at Ethan Allen, but here are a few more options: 1, 2, 3, 4
  13. Bookcase – This provides the necessary shelving without looking too heavy. It also adds another dose of whimsy.
  14. Throw pillows – no longer available, but here are a couple of pairings: 1/2, 1/2, 1/2
  15. Faux brick wallpaper – The character that brick can add to a space is second to none and, if done in moderation, instantly reads “loft.” I’m partial to the whitewash, but the distressed red can work just as well!

Are you daydreaming yet?

If you would like to see more of my eDesigns, please head on over to my Etsy shop!

MOTHER TO MOTHER: 10 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED/AM LEARNING FROM MOTHERHOOD

Little G 2 FINAL 2

WARNING: this post turned out to be far, FAR longer that I anticipated! But it is something close to my heart. There are aspects of motherhood I have struggled with, continue to struggle with, and will always struggle with. Knowing that I am not alone has helped me acknowledge and better understand these aspects of myself. Being a parent is such an incredible journey, filled with emotions that I never realized existed until I actually became a parent. There is so much joy, but there is also doubt and frustration that every mother will feel and has the right to feel along the way. I’ve started this series to share my mistakes, struggles, and thoughts on motherhood to perhaps help other mothers feel less alone through it all. Because it shouldn’t be a lonely process! There are millions of mothers just like you in this world. We’ve been there or are going through it. Instead of judging, criticizing, and scrutinizing each other, why not just talk? Constructively. Positively. Pleasantly. Because in the end, we’re all just trying to do our best.

1. PATIENCE. Dear Lord, so much patience is required! I have to admit, I do lose my cool sometimes, in which case I will walk away for a minute or two, take deep breathes, give myself a little pep talk, and then dive back into the chaos. Freaking out on your child is never a good idea – it simply adds fuel to the fire. Emote calmness and your child will pick up on that…eventually. Maybe? Honestly, my husband is the calming presence that I can only hope to emulate. But the amount of patience that I’ve discovered just sitting there, hiding beneath my skin – it could have come in handy in the past! But there is nothing like motherhood to bring out those parts of you that you never knew existed…and no time like the present.

2. AN OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF LOVE. I know, so cliche! But the love I feel for this kid really is overwhelming in every sense of the word. I love him so fiercely that I am almost willing to give up my identity to simply be his mother. I say almost because I have learned/am learning that while he is and will always be a huge part of me, it is just as important (for my sanity and his) to retain some autonomy. I am learning, ever so slowly, to love myself just as fiercely so he can grow up knowing a confident and happy mother. And it is overwhelming, discovering this newfound confidence, finding the right balance, and drawing that very fine line. But all of these crazy emotions and mind games I’ve played with myself are totally worth it because, going back to square one, damn do I love that kid.

Little G and Mom FINAL

3. LET IT GO. I will tell you now, any hopes you had of keeping the house pristine, the sofas white, the sheets clean, and the carpets stain-free – toss them out the window. NOW. It will save you so much stress in the future. I have two dogs, a cat, a toddler, and, well, a grown toddler in the form of a husband, and for far too long I tried to keep the house really, really clean and as adult-like as possible. I still try to keep messes at a minimum by cleaning as I go – picking up little piles and pieces as I move from room to room throughout the day – so nothing seems like a huge, overwhelming task. But honestly, a lot of things go ignored these days. Little peanut butter finger prints can be found on most furniture and appliances, jelly stains give my dining room rug plenty of “character,” and our pretty awesomely painted wood floors are sprinkled with dog prints and God knows what else… but this is exactly what keeps life so genuine. And frankly, I’d rather spend time in the sunshine with my kid than struggle for the impossibly clean house. Heck, those crumbs and stains aren’t going anywhere!

YUM FINAL EDITED 2

4. BUT DON’T PROCRASTINATE. Of course, there are times to “let go” and there are times to just dig in and DO. You know how I mentioned cleaning on the go? That is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to a mother. Don’t procrastinate, don’t let things pile up, because it then becomes a huge source of anxiety and one big time-suck. So instead of letting the dishes pile up, clean up after each meal. Instead of taking an entire day to do 50 loads of laundry, spread it out through the week, designate days for sheets, your clothes, spouses clothes, baby clothes, etc. When you walk into a room, take 5 minutes to clean up before you leave it. It makes the day-to-day responsibilities so much less tedious and/or monotonous. Be sure to sprinkle fun things throughout the day and these 5-minute tasks won’t phase you one bit.

5. TRUST YOUR GUT. It’s hard to explain, but when you become a mother, something supernatural seems to happen. Somehow, you gain this six-sense, and those deep, primitive instincts kick in. 17 months ago, I had absolutely no idea what to do with a screaming, squirmy baby. I had been around very few of them, and never felt a huge urge to snuggle or steal someone else’s child. But when you hold your own screaming, squirming child, something changes. Things click, and whether it’s an immediate reaction or a slower evolution, you will feel the shift. From then on, your gut will never be the same. You will know, deep down, what your child needs, how he is feeling and when he is in pain. You will know when he is hungry, or tired, or overwhelmed. And sometimes, you will know when a doctor is wrong, or know when to pry a little further. So, for all of you new and expecting mothers out there that may be on the verge of panic (as we all are at some point!), fear not. As you struggle to breastfeed, or put on a diaper, or get your child to sleep, or to eat anything at all, put aside all that guilt and outside parenting advice you were fed, and let your gut guide you just a little. And then a little more. Do what feels right for you and for your family and things will slowly fall into place.  *Please note: I am not advocating going against doctor’s advice. Listen to your gut, but please be responsible! If you are having doubts about any medical advice you were given, trust your gut and do your research, but please seek a second or even third opinion from a trained professional.

Adidas Grey FINAL copy

6. THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL. For the first 8+ months of Greyson’s life, I struggled. He was what I would call a “spirited” baby. He cried. A LOT. To be deemed “colicky” he would have had to cry for 3+ hours straight for multiple days and weeks on end, which he thankfully did not do, but it was pretty damn close. I had numerous meltdowns and I cried. A LOT. For the first few months, I chose to grin and bare it. There were bright moments to stifle the dark ones and I was coping as best I could. But 6 months in, I began to feel hopeless, stuck, and more than once I questioned my ability as a mother, as a wife, and as a HUMAN. Sometimes, I felt the urge to simply run away from it all. Start over. I would make vague comments to friends and family and I would get the “oh, that’s just what babies do!” Or, “he’s such a sweetheart” coupled with an odd look. I began to think I was crazy. But listen carefully Mammas, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Little babes tend to act differently with their mothers. You are their lifeline, you are their comfort, you are the one and only thing they need for the first year of their life. They will make demands of you. They will suck everything out of you (literally, if you choose to go that route) and still want more. But they will also love you more than anything in this world, and this will only grow day by day. Just as they reserve their very best cries and shrieks and tantrums for you, you will be the sole proprietor of their brightest smiles, tightest hugs, and sweetest snuggles. So if you feel stuck, less than human, or have a desperate need to flee, know that you are not alone. You have every right to feel as you do, but IT DOES GET BETTER. In fact, it gets GREAT. Cling to that thought through your sleepless nights and endless days. And one day you will see that tiny sparkle of light and each day going forward it will get brighter and brighter and brighter until you suddenly realize that you’re out of the dark and the tunnel is far behind you.

Owl G FINAL

7. DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. This kind of goes hand in hand with letting it go, but sometimes kids just gotta be kids, you know? They will eat dirt, they will kiss the dogs (speaking of, here’s a good read on that), they will mash bananas in their hair, and blow snot into their hands if not stick them into every slimy, sticky thing imaginable. It’s messy, it’s gross, but sometimes, if it isn’t harming them, you just have to let them be. On that same note, if you are in desperate need of a 20 minute breather, allowing your kid to watch an episode of Sesame Street or Little Einsteins or whatever does not make you a bad parent. If it makes the difference between a relaxed, happy parent and a stressed, unhappy parent – it actually makes you a good parent! Judging every moment of every day as the make or break difference in your child’s life is enough to drive anyone insane. Be present, be the guiding force, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

8. LET THEM FALL. So much easier said than done, of course, but sometimes a kid just needs to fall in order to learn how to pick himself back up. Success is derived through trial and error, experiences are made and lessons learned through mistakes, and character is built on failure. I have the terrible habit of hovering any time Greyson is working through a new developmental skill. Crawling, walking, using a spoon, climbing the stairs, whatever – I have been at the ready to jump in and help and sometime even do for him what he should be attempting on his own. It’s a mother’s instinct to protect, but there is a very fine line between “helping” and micromanaging. Allow him the space to figure it out.

G at the Park FINAL

9. DON’T JUDGE. Really, I don’t understand why mothers are so hard on each other. Most of us carried that baby around in our belly for 9 months, felt the pains of delivery and the ensuing emotions of post-partum. We have all struggled with the mental stress of sleepless nights, monotonous days, and felt the rising panic of “Oh my God I have no idea what to do why is this baby screaming at me?!” We’ve all been there. And we each deal with it in a way that fits our personality and lifestyle. Whether you’re a breast or bottle feeder, a baby carrier (or Heaven forbid, a Bjorn user instead of an Ergo user), a stroller user, a stay at home mom, or a working mom, etc. etc.…so what? As long as your baby is happy and healthy, do what works for you. What is the point of judging the lives and choices of other mothers when you know all too well the moments you have struggled in your own? No one can deny that motherhood is hard. So why make it harder by throwing judgments around? The best thing we can do for ourselves is BE THERE for others. Mothers, unite!

10. PERFECTION DOESN’T EXIST. “Having it all” is a mind frame. No one truly has it all. OR, we all have it all. We all have our ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and frankly, you never know what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of those around. So when that little green monster pops up and you begin to think to yourself “how does she do it all?!” STOP. Most likely, she doesn’t do it all. She’s had to make sacrifices, just like you. She’s had to struggle with her choices, just like you. We all try to put up a happy facade that doesn’t always relay our reality. So, instead of judging (see #9), or competing, or feeling that constant mommy guilt (see #7), just work on finding the balance that works for YOU. And let the rest go (see #3). THAT sounds like perfection to me!

Obviously, these tidbits have been derived through my own (newish) experiences as a mother. You may disagree with some, you may have some to add of your own – I would love to hear your thoughts! I want to open the doors to communication, but please, keep an open mind and keep it constructive! I look forward to hearing more insights into this thing we call Motherhood :)

LIVING ROOM UPDATE (PART 2)

I’ve been going through the very slow process of transforming my home into something that works a little better for this family. Something that fits the stage of life we are in – toddler proof, dog proof, STRESS PROOF (is that possible?!) – but still feels good, you know? I really want it to feel light, fun, but still “put together.” And amazingly, I’m actually starting to think it’s coming together quite nicely! It feels comfortable, which makes me stress far less about the constant state of mess that it’s in. It will always be a work in progress, of course, and there are rooms upstairs that go mostly ignored (ahem, the master and guest bedrooms…), but heck, I’ll take what I can get!

Living Room Updated 6 (1 of 1)

If you recall, the living room looked a little something like this

Living Room Angle 2014

Living Room Rugs 2014 edited

Overall, not a whole lot has changed, eh? But that coffee table makes a world of a difference. It brightens up the whole room and gives it a better balance. To be honest, I initially wasn’t the biggest fan – something just seemed…off. But adding that pouf was a great move in so many ways (if I do say so myself!). It creates much more of an equilibrium with the oversized coffee table, provides extra seating, and excellent entertainment/climbing practice for the kid. He even rolls it across the house Cross Fit style so yeah, totally worth the investment (found ON SALE at West Elm! Unfortunately, it’s no longer available, but they do have other great choices).

Living Room Updated 3 FINAL

The coffee table, by the way, was a $50 flea market find that I painted in Annie Sloan’s “Old White,” lightly distressed, and sealed with a beeswax. I originally refinished it with the intention to sell…a huge problem I have, actually. I only find and refurbish pieces that I would choose to have in my own home, and more often than I am willing to admit, this is exactly what happens – they end up in my own home. First world problem, I know.

Living Room Updated 5 (1 of 1) copy

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As much of a “problem” that it is – I love that my home is full of pieces I’ve created. Is it perfect? NO. Sometimes these pieces are picked and painted to fill a void until something better comes along or goes on sale (hello Anthropologie, I’m talking to you…), but it makes my home mine and I know there is no other out there like it. It really is my happy place (framed picture courtesy of A Beautiful Mess after I pre-ordered their book). And I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really tired of seeing the same products and style in what seems like EVERY HOME in the blogosphere. I love the midcentury, but come on guys, give it a break and switch it up every once in a while!

Speaking of midcentury and quickly getting off of my high horse…I do plan on adding a little midcent style to my own home in the form of a 1960′s vintage record player cabinet courtesy of the hubby’s parents (meaning FREE!). It’s something they owned for longer than needed, and knowing my love for all things vintage, they drove it down from NYC and passed it on to very willing hands. And now it sits in my studio, waiting for a little hemp oil and muscle (aka The Husband) to get it home. Guess where it’s going to end up? Yep, that’s right – the living room!

Part 3 coming soon…