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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Friday, June 20, 2014

design crush: outdoor serving counters

We've been spending some time at the pool the past few weeks and just completed 'Parent & Tot' swimming lessons. It was so fun to see baby Alexander loving the water so much. I grew up with a pool and would love to be able to have one again someday. In my daydreams, we also have an outdoor serving counter so little wet feet don't need to go running through the house to get a snack. Plus it's easy to replenish food and drinks and clear dirty dishes for an adult outdoor party. Here are some amazing spaces that I'm crushing on this week!

This is the perfect spot for the kids (or adults) to take a break for lunch.
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You don't need a lot of space for an outdoor serving counter. This ledge offers just enough room to grab a snack and a cold drink before heading back down to the beach.
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Instead of traditional windows, this giant red window panel creates an impact and conversation piece. I know The Hubby would feel at home in this space, complete with an outdoor mounted TV!
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You don't need to have a pool to make use of an outdoor counter and pass through window. This serving counter and cozy outdoor fireplace would be perfect in a mountain retreat.
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This space was just too interesting not to include. I bet some fun parties happen at this pool!
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If you have the space, why not extend the window beyond the countertop, creating a giant indoor/outdoor space?
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Can you say dream home?!
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Hey, if we're dreaming, take a look at this space! The kitchen flows into the patio area seamlessly, and the serving counter even extends into a mini outdoor kitchen with sink. If your climate and budget allows for it, this space sure makes an impact and would be fantastic for entertaining!
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I hope you enjoyed daydreaming with me. If I can't live in one of these spaces myself, hopefully I can use this inspiration to help create the perfect indoor/outdoor entertaining space for a client!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

our home: master bedroom

The master bedroom is an owner's retreat. A place to decompress and forget about the worries of the day. But for many homeowners, including myself, the master bedroom is the very last room to get an update. It's so easy to focus on the public places of the home and forget about the importance of creating a relaxing space for yourself. 

Some part of my pregnant brain must have known we'd be getting a colicky baby, because I started making updates before our little one arrived. Of course the updating stopped shortly after, but once he grew out of his colic I made a point to finish our master bedroom. Here's a look at the before and after and some of the easy updates we made.
It took some time, but I created a space where we can't wait to retreat at the end of the day.
We painted the walls, accessorized, made a headboard, refinished the dressers, updated the linens and pillows, and finally bought a new, king-size mattress. The mattress came a few days after I started 'morning (all-day) sickness' and became my haven for the next 16 weeks. 
The old space wasn't bad, just heavy. The last thing you want at the end of a long day is for your bedroom to inhibit relaxation.
Be strategic while accessorizing. It's all about editing and clearing clutter. Most likely you can make use of items you already own.
Take a close look at the 'before' picture and you can see this dresser was a dark, cherry-brown stain. This and its taller 'brother' on the other side of the room, were passed down from my great grandmother. Sometimes the items you have fit the quality but not the aesthetic you want. A coat of paint and new hardware can often do the trick and allow you to hold on to a sentimental piece!
Fluffy pillows always make a bed more welcoming.
We're fortunate to have 'his' and 'hers' closets, along with a beautiful window with space for our newly reupholstered storage trunk.
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

our home: dining room

We absolutely love our home in Congress Park. It's perfect for our family right now and we've done a lot to make it our own. That said, we've been toying around with the idea of putting our home on the market lately. It's a seller's market and we're not sure how long that will last. Whatever we decide, I thought it was a good time to document it.

Here's a peek at our dining room, before and after. It took two tries to get the paint color right, but I'm so happy with the final color. It gave us a neutral backdrop for both the dining room and living room. The chandelier was a gift from the hubby for my birthday after we moved in - he knows me well! We also added new window treatments and accessorized the table. The actual table and chairs were purchased from a friend when we got married. They've served us well, but I'm just itching for an update. We'll wait to do that until we have a bigger dining room. For now, this space is perfect for our little family of three, plus a few guests!

Isn't it amazing what a little paint, updated lighting, and window treatments can do?
The dining room is the center of our living area and flows into the kitchen. The bar counter gets lots of use and helps define the spaces.
The dining room connects to the living room as well, allowing for circulation and easy entertaining in our small home. I've used the sofa to help define these spaces.
Of course my favorite feature is our sparkly chandelier!
Surprisingly, our dining room does get a lot of use - especially now that our little one is eating solid foods. I hope you enjoyed this peek at our dining room, I'll be sharing more rooms of our home soon!

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Monday, May 26, 2014

design spotlight: fire pits & tables

We've had some crazy weather here in Denver this spring, but Memorial Day weekend just makes me want to be outside. We've spent a lot of time sprucing up our yard this spring, especially focusing on the curb appeal - which we've been neglecting since we moved in 3 years ago. Although I love watching the world go by from the front porch, the hubby prefers the privacy of our backyard. So for his 30th birthday on Monday, I got him a fire pit table. 

I did quite a bit of research on fire pits and decided to go with a propane fueled fire-pit table. We have a small backyard, and the seating area is close to the house. When we've had fires in our fire pit the smoke requires us to shut all the windows and the back door. Plus, our little guy still requires attention sometimes during the night so I wanted something we could easily turn off when we're finished enjoying it. We also don't plan to be in this house for many more years, and therefore didn't want a built-in feature.

This table was within our budget and should hold up to the elements - we set it up Tuesday morning and then had hail storms 3 days in a row and there isn't a dent on it. I like that it has a cover that sits flush with the rest of the table so you can use the entire surface when the flame isn't lit. Also, the propane tank and switches are hidden behind a latched door in the base that's a little tricky to open - perfect to keep out one small curious boy. We had a little weekend getaway in Beaver Creek this weekend and came back to perfect weather to enjoy our new fire table!

Here is the table with the cover on it, a perfect outdoor dining surface.

The large fire surface created lots of warmth but leaves plenty of table surface for plates and drinks.

Check out a few other fire features that inspired me:

This built-in fire pit is so welcoming with the bench and chairs. Perfect for grown-ups and kids to enjoy some s'mores!
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For something more permanent, an outdoor fireplace is a great way to create a gathering space outside.
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I love how natural this fire pit looks and the long bench allows for many more people to enjoy it.
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This fire bowl fits nicely on this balcony and adds to the nautical feel. How I'd love to have breakfast here in the morning!
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A fire pit table is perfect for this mountain retreat.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

design crush: freestanding bath tubs

We recently started giving baby Alexander baths in our bathtub instead of the kitchen sink. He didn't hate bath time, but he never really loved it so we were nervous about changing the location on him. Well, we shouldn't have been worried, because he LOVED it! Within minutes he was squealing and splashing and playing with his bath toys. It reminded me that I've never used the bathtub in our house. I know it's crazy, but I just never really made time for it. 

Now that we're giving him baths in the tub, it has me daydreaming of a private tub in our master that I could soak in and forget the stress of the day. The possibilities for bath tubs are endless, but I'm currently crushing on freestanding tubs. A freestanding tub serves as a beautiful focal point of a bathroom and just begs you to take a soak. It also opens up opportunities for so many different styles. Here are some neat alternatives to the classic white claw-foot tub that will have you daydreaming too.
Here's a perfect example of a freestanding tub stealing the show. A bonus for copper tubs? They retain heat to keep you soaking in comfort even longer.
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This modern tub is the only piece in this small room, allowing for the view to be the only focus when bathing.
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This bathroom is large enough to accommodate its own wet room with the freestanding tub inside. A wet room is a great way to contain water splashes and keep the marble flooring from becoming a slipping hazard.
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I love how the drapery frames not only the window, but the tub as well.
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How neat is this wooden tub? It makes a great statement and warms up this cool teal bathroom.
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I love how feminine this bathroom is and the freestanding tub only adds to that. I could just picture myself reading a romance novel with a glass of wine while soaking in this bathroom.
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In my dream house we will have a gorgeous freestanding tub, but for now, this little guy is happy soaking in the one we do have!
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