Monday, August 31, 2015

home tour

We've been in our new house for a few months now and it's finally starting to feel a bit more like home. Moving from 1500 square feet to over 5000, means that we have a lot of empty rooms. I'm trying to be patient and enjoy the process of furnishing and finishing this house. But some days I find myself still missing our old home. We brought home our first child and made memories as a family there. I discovered my passion for interior design and made the difficult decision to change careers there. We poured sweat and tears into fixing it up. And finally when we finished all our projects and decorating, we moved. 

As a designer I know that decorating is never truly "finished," but I had reached the point of comfort and peace with our last home. When I sat in a room there weren't any "things" unfinished and just itching to be completed. We plan to be in this new home for a long time, so I'll have plenty of time to perfect everything here. Until then, here's a glimpse at our last home. 

Living Room
It was important for me to keep the living room feeling bright and open. I kept the furniture neutral to allow flexibility if my tastes in color changed in the future. It's easy to swap out other textiles and accessories inexpensively, but a quality sofa is something we wanted to invest in for years to come.
sofa :: console cabinet :: artwork :: lamp
arm chair :: rug :: coffee table :: side table
wall color Behr Sierra Madre

Dining Room
Our dining room was very functional for us. But as someone who loves to entertain, I was always itching for a larger space to hold a dinner party. We knew we'd eventually move into a home with a larger dining room, so I never invested in dining furniture. However, I did invest in a chandelier that I absolutely loved. I seriously considered taking it with me when we moved, but it just fit the house so well I knew it needed to stay. Plus, now I get to shop for light fixtures for our new home!

chandelier :: drapery panels :: highchair

This kitchen was truly the feature that sold us on this house. We did some minor work to update the hardware, backsplash, and paint color. But it didn't need much else. It was open and airy and extremely functional for it's size. In fact, I didn't realize how well planned it was until we moved into our new house. Our new kitchen is more than twice the size but doesn't function well at all. The space planning is so poor I can't imagine it was designed by anyone who enjoyed cooking.

Master Bedroom & Bath
The master bedroom suite was another amazing feature of this home. If you know anything about the craftsman homes around Denver, this is a rare find. We believe that a third bedroom on the main floor was used to convert this space into a master with attached bathroom. And again, although the bathroom was small, it was very functional for two people and it gave us the privacy we needed. For the bedroom, I wanted to create a relaxing retreat. Painting the walls to a tranquil, soft teal, and painting the furniture a creamy white helped to instantly update the space on a small budget. I did quite a few DIY projects to personalize the space on a small budget. You can see more here, here, and here.

Alexander's nursery was such a passion project. It was truly the first room I designed from top to bottom and I stressed over each and every detail. I wanted a gender neutral space that still had some little boy details. I spent the most time choosing the right glider, and I'm so happy that I did because I spent a lot of time rocking our colicky boy there. You can read more about Alexander's nursery herehereherehere, and here.

Guest Room & Bath
Once our guest room moved to the basement to accommodate Alexander's nursery, it received a little less attention. We made sure it was still inviting for our guests and comfortable. But as far as design, it was lacking a bit. However, after several years of hosting longer-term guests I have quite a few tips I'd like to share for making your guest room inviting. Stay tuned for a future post.

Basement Family Room
We spent so much time in this basement. I wanted a space that was comfortable and casual for our family and guests. Although I really hate when the television is the focal point of a room, this space was truly a TV and movie hang-out spot. Mounting it on the wall with the staircase opened up the entire basement and gave us so much more room to play with Alex. It was the only carpeted area of our home, so it's where Alexander spent the most time and learned how to walk. It may not be my favorite spot for showcasing my love for design, but it was a great space for our family.
sleeper sofa :: bookcases :: chair

Home Office
This little nook was an inexpensive quick solution to our need for a designated office space. It functioned well for me and I liked that it was in the basement where I could watch Alexander play while I worked. 
desk :: chair
I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. I'm excited to share the progress of our new home in upcoming posts!

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*Photos courtesy of Tour Factory

Monday, May 11, 2015

baby girl nursery inspiration

I've been a little radio silent the past few months. This pregnancy has been very difficult and I've been using all my spare energy to focus on finishing a busy semester. But I'm happy to share that my semester is complete and baby Eleanor arrived on May 4th. We are just thrilled to welcome her into our family! 

I've had so much fun designing her nursery. I've maintained a relatively neutral color palette, because that's what I love, but I've brought in some pink and plenty of sparkle. The nursery is nearly complete, we're just waiting on some artwork to arrive. Here is my inspiration board for a gold, coral, and neutral girl's nursery!

1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6 :: 7 :: 8 :: 9 :: 10 :: 11 :: 12 :: 13
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

inspiration of the week: hidden storage

I am a neat freak. I think part of my obsession stems from a desire for control, and the other part comes from my love of interior design. There's no quicker way to distract from a beautiful room than a stack of unread mail, or a random pair of shoes sitting within view. With a new baby coming, I've been busy reorganizing and getting things in and out of storage. We're also looking to move, so I want to be strategic about my storage solutions so our home looks its best when it goes on the market. Although I've found places in our current home that meet our storage needs, I'm daydreaming about putting some of these clever solutions in our next home!
Storage under the stairs isn't new, but it can be hard to reach the items in the back via traditional doors. Turning those front steps into drawers is a genius solution to maximize the usable space under the stairs.
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I love how this kitchen design uses the decorative millwork as functional, pull-out spice racks.
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Similar to the spice rack above, this slim drawer houses a knife block to keep cutlery off the countertop but easily accessible where it is most used.
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I just love this clever storage solution. This secret panel in the wall conceals spare place settings or other items not quite uniform or "pretty" enough to store in open cabinetry. When closed, you'd never even know the storage was there - allowing for a streamlined look and avoiding the need for another furniture storage item.
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Here's another genius idea for an often unutilized space. This toekick drawer is the perfect place to keep seasonal items, or even your secret valuables.
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What a great idea for the flat surface at the end of a row of cabinets. Additional cabinet doors are installed to conceal a mail sorting station.
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Window seats are a great way to not only add built-in storage, but extra seating as well. I think they're especially suited for children's rooms where toy storage is always a necessity, as is a special reading nook.
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I hope these ideas inspire you to look beyond the traditional spots when thinking about storage in your home!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can your kitchen help you lose weight?

It's the season of resolutions and many of us probably have some resolutions for healthier lifestyle changes. Whether you're trying to lose weight or just looking to put some focus on healthier habits, you might not think the design of your kitchen plays much of a role. I stumbled across an article on Houzz that sparked my interest to learn more about how your kitchen can help you make healthier choices.

Cornell University nutrition professor, Brian Wansink, has a new book Slim by Design that explores the power of mindless eating solutions. He spent more than two decades studying the habits of skinny people as it relates to eating. Here are a few of those findings with regards to kitchen design and the impact on eating habits. Some of these are simple solutions that don't require much of an investment beyond time, while a few might be valuable to consider if you're looking to redesign your kitchen.

1. Remove clutter. This was music to my neat freak ears! In his studies, Wansink found that people ate 44 percent more calories snacking in a clutter-filled, messy kitchen. He argues that because your environment is out of control, and lacks discipline, it's more difficult to resist temptation. So take the time to put away the clutter. You'll be able to enjoy your beautiful home, and maybe find yourself snacking a little less as well.
The lack of clutter and accessories in this kitchen also adds to the feeling of spaciousness.
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2. Fruit should be the only visible food. Making sure that bowl of fresh fruit is easily accessible goes a long way in tempting you to grab a healthier snack. Although I love decorating with domed cake stands filled with baked goods, nothing adds life and color to a kitchen like a bowl of fresh fruit.
The fresh fruit and flowers on this countertop not only look enticing, they add a beautiful pop of color to this neutral kitchen.
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3. Hide unhealthy snacks. This is a familiar idea, but one that's often forgotten. Wansink found that you're three times more likely to eat the first food you find than the fifth one. Never keep junk food on your countertop. The best storage solution? Lock those chips and cookies in a hard to reach cabinet so you have to make a conscious effort every time you indulge. This even works in the fridge. Move your produce out of the crisper and onto a more prominent shelf and fill that crisper with some less healthy items.
I love using vertical space in the kitchen and these hard-to-reach cabinets above the window are the perfect place to hide unhealthy snacks.
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4. Don't make kitchen seating too comfortable. I hadn't heard this before, but it makes perfect sense. If your kitchen barstools invite you to spend your time lounging around food, you might also find yourself mindlessly eating that food. However, this is a harder idea to implement, especially with a family. If you spend time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals for your family, you probably want to have seating that invites them to spend time with you. Try removing things like iPads and TV's to help encourage conversation and less lounging and mindless eating.
These stools are not only functional, but the wood adds a warm texture to the space. However, they aren't upholstered and the minimal backrest may help discourage prolonged lounging.
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5. Avoid all white kitchens. This is another idea that clashes with the trends. Wansink found that white and bright spaces can stimulate eating. The same goes for dark and cozy spaces where you'll want to linger for another helping. The trick is to find a happy medium. Mid-tone neutrals, even golds, greens, and blues tend to work best. Again, this is one you'll need to weigh personally. If a bright white kitchen helps encourage you to spend time cooking something healthy (as opposed to throwing a frozen meal in the microwave and getting out of there) then that may be the best design solution.
If you love bright, white kitchens, adding a pop of color to your island cabinets is a great way to bring in another color and add interest and depth.
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6. Make use of your dining room. I love dining rooms and gathering around a meal with friends and family. But dining rooms are disappearing, and many of us are gathering for meals in the kitchen or even around the coffee table in front of the TV. In addition to encouraging conversation, the dining room is further away from the food, thus encouraging more mindful eating. Furthermore, if you serve yourself in the kitchen, you'll be less likely to indulge in a second helping you don't need. As for the coffee table/TV eating - among the many reasons to avoid eating in front of the TV, it encourages mindless eating and commercials for junk food can even give you cravings for something you wouldn't otherwise want.
A dining room doesn't have to be formal. This casual space is made grand with the addition of these gorgeous green chairs.
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7. Get rid of your microwave. Another difficult one to implement, but Wansink found that people who don't have a microwave (or keep their microwave in a different room) tend to weigh less. Personally, I would love to get rid of our microwave but the hubby would never go for it. Plus, it's just so convenient for reheating healthy foods like soups. So I love this idea of moving it to the pantry.
This butler's pantry is the perfect place to tuck away the microwave - making it just a little less convenient to heat up that late night pizza.
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Wansink's book provides many more ways to help reduce mindless eating. There's even a checklist to evaluate how well your kitchen is working for you. So check out Slim by Design and choose the updates that work for you and your family.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

announcement: baby #2!

It's been months since I've given sunlight & sparkle some love and attention - but I have a good reason. We're so excited to announce that Alexander is going to be a big brother! Baby GIRL will be joining our family in May. 

While we are absolutely thrilled, to say this has been a difficult pregnancy is an understatement. With Alexander I was terribly sick for the first 16 weeks, but this time it lasted the entire first half.  And just when I was feeling better and back in the gym working out, I slipped on some ice and sprained my ankle and my knee. On the bright side, although I'm immobile again, I'm no longer sick and can put some energy back into this blog. I can't wait to share more inspiring design and the big changes that are happening around here!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

11 nursery essentials

Now that our little one has turned one(!), I've had plenty of time to use all the items in our nursery. Many soon-to-be new mothers ask me what the must-haves are for your first baby. Each baby is different. Here is my list of nursery essentials (in no particular order) that helped us through baby Alexander's first year - plus, I've indicated if an item is worth a splurge, or if it's a good place to save.

1. Dimmer or Nightlight (lighting here)
It's no secret that babies and toddlers like night lights, but what I didn't expect, was how convenient it would be for us. We installed a dimmer switch for our overhead fixture and keep it on low during the night. Our little guy loves it and it helps us see what we're doing without waking him up.

2. Changing Pad Liners
A friend told me about these a few weeks before baby A was born. I'm SO glad I took her advice and grabbed some. You can't imagine how many times baby will soil the changing pad. These little liners go on top of the changing pad cover and can go straight in the hamper to be cleaned with the laundry. I purchased 2 different brands. The Boppy set held up well and is still going strong, despite countless trips through the wash. The Munchkin set got limp in the wash and just didn't work for a wiggly baby.

3. Diaper Caddy - place to save
There are some fancy little diaper caddies available to match all kinds of decor styles. They usually have compartments to hold diapers, wipes and lotions. I used a basket that we already had and it does the trick perfectly. It keeps diapers, creams and lotions, hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and a few toys all within reach. There isn't room for the wipes, but they sit right beside the basket, along with a tissue box. I also recommend keeping some toys handy on the changing table. Our little one will not sit still for a diaper change and toys give me precious seconds to clean him up before he runs away!

4. Mirror
Our nursery was formerly the guest room and we decided to keep the floor mirror in there. Even early on, Alex loved looking at himself and as he's grown his delight in his reflection only increases. A crib mirror with lights and sound was also a great way to keep him occupied before he was mobile. Note: If using a floor mirror, secure it to the wall to avoid accidental tipping over!!

5. Crib - place to save
This was a hard place for me to save because the crib feels like the central element to the nursery design. Although I was dreaming about this fabulous Restoration Hardware crib, I knew baby would grow out of a single-function crib quickly. I chose a convertible crib that can be changed into a toddler bed, daybed and finally a full-size bed. This crib has held up so well despite all the toys Baby A manages to ram into it, I know we'll get use out of it for many years.

6. Artwork
Baby A just LOVES looking at artwork. This colorful alphabet print hangs over his changing table and keeps his attention. When he was colicky, singing the ABC's and pointing to the animals worked like magic to calm him down. I found that really any artwork or photography hanging around the house seems to fascinate him. As he's grown older, he loves pointing and learning about each one.

7. Sound machine
Our little guy was very colicky for the first 5 months and hated sleeping and napping. For us, the only thing that seemed to work was white noise. This little sleep sheep was great to attach to the carseat or stroller to help baby nap away from home. It only stays on for 45 minutes, so we use our humidifier (below) for continuous sound in the nursery.

8. Humidifier
We live in Colorado, so we have a humidifier system that runs through our HVAC system. But even that didn't seem to be enough for the nursery. We love this humidifier because it's uses cool mist, has a night light, and sound machine built in. Baby A just loves the "summer night" sounds.

9. Ottoman - place to save (splurge option here)
I didn't have an ottoman when baby A was born, but it was one of the first things I bought. Late night feedings are exhausting and any way to make it more comfortable is essential. I chose a leather pouf because it's easy to clean and was affordable when compared to the matching ottoman for our glider.

10. Side Table - place to save (splurge option here)
You don't need anything fancy, but you will want a surface near your chair that you can reach without getting up. We have a smaller nursery, so I needed dual-purpose items and used a bookshelf for my side table. I keep the second shelf relatively clear for my nursing and nighttime essentials - book, water glass, tissues and phone. The other shelves are used for books, decorations, storage boxes and baskets.

11. Glider or Rocker - worth the splurge!
You will be spending so much time sitting and holding your little one. A quality glider or rocker is essential. You want something that is comfortable but isn't going to break down and sink after hours of use. Baby only gets heavier and you don't want to have to heave yourself out of a broken down chair. I would also recommend something with a fabric that can be cleaned or hides stains well. From spit-up, to little toddler hands, your chair will get dirty!

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

design spotlight: hidden TV

Most designers loathe a giant television as the focal point of a room. But realistically, many people enjoy watching television, or live with a (cough...husband) that does. So what do you do if you've created a beautiful space but can't take your eyes off the big black screen that's taking center stage? Conceal it! There are so many clever ways to hide a television that's not in use - beyond the proverbial clunky media cabinet. The sky is the limit if you use your imagination, but here are a few ideas to get you started. 

Concealing a television behind sliding doors is a simple solution that can be designed to complement any decor. Here the doors match the fireplace surround perfectly for a unified look whether the television is in view or not.
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It's no secret I love barn doors. Similar to the solution above, this barn door splits into panels that cover the entire media center. This is a great solution if you have lots of equipment like speakers, dvd players etc. that aren't easily hidden above a mantel.
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You may have seen this 'TV mirror' idea in a commercial setting, like a hotel bathroom or bar, but it's perfect for residential applications as well. Here the mirror above the fireplace actually becomes the television. Simply turn the TV on, and it projects through the mirror - easy and pretty!
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I love the idea of artwork concealing the television set because it allows the TV be positioned at the focal point of the room. I've seen this executed a few different ways. This option works brilliantly if you have an original piece of artwork. Another option similar to the mirror idea above, a canvas is rolled up into the frame to reveal the television behind it. Either way, it's a wonderful way to showcase great art and accommodate a functional need.
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I've seen this "pop-up" idea before in bedrooms where the television is concealed inside a cabinet that's used as a footboard. This kitchen island adaption is very clever - it's like a little secret for the cook!
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This TV panel folds up into the ceiling with the click of a button so there are no distractions in this restful bedroom retreat. It eliminates the need for a special place on a wall or dresser for the television because you wouldn't want to block this wall of windows with furniture.
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This is perhaps my absolute favorite media center solution. With the touch of a button, a screen drops down and this basement living area becomes a media room. What's even more clever, the mesh on the doors allow them to remain closed without muffling the surround sound.
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It took me a second to find the television in this room. No fancy contraptions here, just thoughtful design!
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