what i love: february

Oops, forgive me for being one day late. It’s been a busy week. You know what else is late? SPRING. Or at least temperatures that aren’t the norm in the arctics. Supposedly there’s a big frost on the way this week, but I’ll believe it when I see it. How was your February? I can’t complain about mine: we celebrated the husband’s birthday in style, I’m feeling much more settled in my job (and still love it!), and we’ve seen old and new friends. More exciting news to share: we bought hardwood floors! Ok, technically bamboo floors. We found a good sale and decided to take the monetary plunge and redo the entire main level of our house. They should arrive in a few weeks and then, God help us, we’re going to tackle installing them ourselves. I’m sure everything will go PERFECTLY and there will be no fighting or unpleasantries at all. Heh. Because of that, pretty much all of my faves this month have to do with the house. I’ve been doing nonstop research about things like building walls and how to pick rug sizes for a room. I can’t wait to see how much the house is going to change for the better. Here’s what’s making me smile this month:

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1. I read a ton of home decor blogs for inspiration, but my favorite for years has been House Tweaking. Dana and her family (Cincinnati natives) “rightsized” into a fixer upper a few years ago and she has since made the house into a stunning place to live. The bathroom above is the most recently completed room and as you can see, she has an eye for creating the right mix of warm woods, interestingly patterned textiles, and gorgeous textures. I love every room in her house and wish I could buy it and move in tomorrow (see the house tour here). For now, I’ll just have to be content with stalking her blog page daily and copying everything. Seriously, that kitchen though…

2. You know what I’m obsessed with? This Banana Republic Jacquard Cropped Tank. The husband went on an after-birthday shopping spree and this, um, somehow made it into the shopping cart too. What can I say? I HAD to have it. I might also have to have the matching skirt so this summer I can pretend it’s a super cute dress. Yes?

3. One thing our house is missing hardcore is green, as in plants. I’ve been crushing on the shiny gold planters in this adorable pin from Target (love the tiny white succulent vase and all those awesome patterns too!) and am heading up this afternoon to pick up this hanging planter…I figure we should finally use one of the seventeen hooks hanging from our ceiling. The only problem is the last time I had a house plant, I killed it. Quickly. And it was a succulent, i.e. the most kill-proof plant in the world! So help me, which plant would you recommend to the worst plant owner ever?

4. One thing I’ve noticed in my new office is that all the women really take care of themselves. Shoes are always clean and unscuffed, nails are always manicured, and jewelry is always, always beautiful. I need to step up my game, for sure. I’ve started my weekly DIY manicures (it really DOES make you feel better and more put together!) and I’m eyeing these stunning Kate Spade Balloon Bouquet stud earrings. That blush color is so gorgeous and as a spring neutral would look great with everything.

5. Remember how much I loved The Bookman’s Tale? Imagine my surprise when Charlie Lovett published a new literary-themed thriller! Of course I picked it up ASAP. First Impressions is a fun quick read about Jane Austen (ugh, I’m so sick of her but read it anyway), weaving an imagined story of how Pride and Prejudice was written with a modern-day heroine trying to protect her favorite author’s legacy. While definitely nowhere near as wonderful as Bookman, I still flew through the book and loved the main character Sophie.

What are you loving this month?

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nerdy girl diy: spring house updates

It’s been awhile since I talked about my house, yes? Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve really done anything of note. After finishing the guest bedroom, I shared my plans for the master en suite bathroom (such as it is). Per our usual diy personality, we were hit with an attack of the lazies and an attack of the no-money blues. But since people have asked for a status report, here we are. In the bathroom we have made decent headway, but not enough to call the space fully functioning. We tore down the huge cabinet, outdated mirror and light fixture combo, nasty faucet, and hideous accessories (toilet paper holder, towel bar, etc.). But not much has gone back up, sadly, meaning mornings have been just a little bit interesting for the last few months. Here are some before shots of this tiny box of a room, in all its outdated glory:

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As you can see, this bathroom is tiny and filled with so. much. brass. It’s yuck. The cabinet is actually a kitchen cabinet masquerading as a bathroom wall cabinet and took up far more room than it was worth. The faucet was seriously builder-basic and the brass towel bar was hanging onto the wall for dear life because no one bothered to install it properly. The fact that we lived with this for four years without fixing it is ridiculous to me. Nothing in here is truly offensive, I know. It would never win any “worst bathroom in America” contests, but I hated it and finally reached a breaking point.

Since we’re only doing a Phase One kind of update, the flooring and main fixtures have to stay until we have the time and money to do a complete gut job the right way. It doesn’t make sense to replace a cheap remodel with another cheap remodel. So this was just a springtime refresh. As of right now, we have painted and replaced the faucet:

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Funny story: when we replaced the faucet and plumbing we found a toothbrush in the trap. No wonder it wasn’t draining right! We also replaced the light fixture:

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and installed all new accessories like the toilet paper holder and glorious towel hooks instead of a bar:

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Seriously, if you want to make sure that everyone hangs up their towel, use hooks instead of a bar. I guarantee towels will no longer be on the floor. And sorry for how crappy the paint job looks under the window. I promise it looks much nicer in person, but I don’t know how to get rid of all the blue mistakes the previous owners made. Anyone have any helpful hints?

I absolutely LOVE the yellow. I was scared to go so bright, but the room is so much lighter now and feels really fresh. We joke that we don’t even need the lights in there now because when the sun shines in, the glow from the room is enough to light it AND our bedroom. I’m so glad the dreary country blue is gone.

You will notice two very glaring omissions: a cabinet and a mirror. Do you know how hard it is to get ready without a mirror? HARD. I just can’t seem to find one I like and I’m being super indecisive which is really not like me at all. I guess it’s a good thing because it’s allowing some time for us to build up some funds, but I have got to get the cabinet and mirror in there as soon as possible. I hate having clutter on the counter and I really, really want a mirror. Major first-world problems here.

On to the second update! My mom has always been a genius when it comes to recovering furniture and making curtains and hemming pants and tailoring all the things. She’s awesome. Around two years ago, the husband and I bought a couch/loveseat/chair/ottoman set from a coworker and plopped it in our lower level where it has sat alone ever since. Since the lower level is gross, we don’t go down there very often and it’s generally unused space that is just waiting for a complete overhaul that will hopefully start this year. This furniture set is in great condition, but the chair and ottoman and pillows were in this very…special…patterned fabric that coordinated with the microfiber of the couches. I wish I had a picture of it because it was a really strange pattern of multi-colored circles and not our style. This winter, my so-very-talented mom got rid of it and made me this:

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(Please ignore the spinning bike and bright yellow yoga ball. Clearly I can’t clean or frame a shot.) The chair and ottoman literally took my breath away when I first saw them because they are so gorgeous and look more than a million times better than what they were. I love the Dwell Studio patterns and, well, what can I say? I like yellow. The set now looks modern and fresh and I am so in love. I ride the spinning bike and stare lovingly at the chair. It’s sad. Someone else clearly loves the chair and his “Cairn Ottoman” too…

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The chair and pillows and ottoman look so good now that they honestly shouldn’t even be in or house, much less the nasty lower level. They are WAY too nice. The carpet is yellowed and the one wall is covered in the wallpaper glue from what I tore down. The sliding glass door is old and lets in more cold air than you can possibly imagine. There is no storage and the fireplace is ugly. But one day it will be worthy of these works of art. Guess I better start saving my pennies!

Anyone else showing off some new house updates lately? I’m also in the process of cleaning out closets, one of my favorite things to do! For someone who loves clothes so much, I am surprisingly unattached to them and love getting rid of the stuff I no longer love. It’s so freeing. Can’t wait to hear about your diy adventures!

what i love: february

How is February gone? I just don’t understand how time flies this quickly and why it won’t slow down. Just a little, is that too much to ask? February was a great month – a hard one, certainly – but it brought our little mountain getaway, some progress on the bathroom, and lots of time spent with family and friends. I don’t know that it feels like spring is just around the corner yet (tomorrow’s HIGH is 24?), but there’s a little bit of optimism creeping back in and it surely was missed. Here’s what I’ve been loving this month:

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1. How great is that floating mantel? I love how subtly it anchors the TV. Now that the bathroom is coming to a close, I can start dreaming of the next project: the lower level. SO much is needed downstairs…new French doors, new wiring, new lighting, new flooring, built ins, paint, blinds, etc. It’s going to be a pretty pricey project that is going to require my patience. So for now I will simply dream of painting all the brick things and whether or not we’ll be able to afford in-floor heating (I’m guessing not…but it would make a huge difference).

2. I think we all need a little more hot pink in our lives right now, agreed? Frankly, I think we all just need to wear shoes other than boots! I can’t wait for all the Spring prep to start popping up with all of its color and joy. And of course, navy and pink and white will never not be in style. This look is so simple and classic and will be on repeat asap. I also may or may not covet Claire Dunphy’s gold heels. They are amazing and I wish I had a place to wear them…

3. Just a little reminder that keeps popping in my head lately. The Eeyore in me has been out and proud the last few months and it’s time to stop it. Yes the days may be long and full of inconvenience and worry and annoyance, but the months and years are way too short to get bogged down. This past weekend I paid a visit to my grandfather who is recovering from a stroke a few months ago (he’s doing as can be expected, but it’s a rough road). It reminded me that life is precious and our time together is too short to waste with unhappiness. Let’s let it go and remember to be light.

4. In a different effort to be light…the stress of the last few months has not agreed with me. At all. We’ll just put it nicely and say that a lot of feelings were eaten and the number on the scale (not to mention my running pace) is not a number I want to see. So…yeah…now that I have time and mental space again, the return to fighting weight is back on. But like I’ve said before, I don’t ever want to restrict myself too much. Life is too short (see above) not to have a cookie when the need strikes. These peanut butter chocolate chip cookies might just come in handy the next few months! I mean, they’re flourless, that makes them healthy right?

5. Have I written about my love for Scandal before? If not, what is wrong with me? I can’t believe how late I am arriving to this party. It’s so addicting. That’s not to say it’s particularly good (it’s no House of Cards) and I think Kerry Washington only has a few facial expressions she uses for Olivia (sad and shocked, angry, doe eyed, etc.), but I’m hooked. I stayed home sick from work a few weeks ago with a major headache and literally sat on the couch all day and watched 8 hours of this frothy political dramz. Not healthy, you guys. Bingeing at its best.

What’s making you smile this month?

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nerdy girl diy: master bathroom renovation inspiration

It’s finally here! I’ve only been talking for MONTHS about working on my master bath. Seriously, months. I’m sorry to tease for so long. There was that whole husband-spends-a-month-in-the-hospital-so-we’re-broke thing…and then that whole holiday season shebang…so yeah. The only consolation I can give you is that once we start the process, we’re gonna have to move pretty quickly since we won’t want to have our lives disrupted. Heaven forbid we have to walk an extra five steps to the hall bath.

The master bath is one of my least favorite rooms in the house. It is super ugly. And miniscule. I look at all the magnificent bathrooms on Pinterest and they are easily triple the size of this room. It’s actually fine by me that it’s small – I try to limit the grooming products and makeup we buy and it’s not like we’re spending copious amounts of time in there (and if we were, we’d have some issues). However, it easily could look much more spacious in some easy ways. For one, not using a KITCHEN cabinet as an over-the-toilet cabinet. Yeah. The thing is about a foot deep. I won’t even tell you how many times we’ve hit our heads. Another, not using a dark (ugly) paint color. Luckily, these easy changes fit with our modest budget and we can make small “Phase 1” fixes while saving up for the big stuff (new floors, new shower, new vanity) later on. And since we’re starting with a hideous mess, the easy changes will also make a HUGE visual impact.

Since the master bath is an en-suite, I plan on continuing the yellow, gray, and black color scheme from the bedroom into the bath. Look, I get that it’s super trendy and at this point, already a bit of a dated trend. In the words of Icona Pop, I don’t care (I love it)! Yellow is a color both the husband and I agree on (me, because it’s happy; the husband, because of LSU) and while it’s used as spice in the bedroom, I plan on going full-on yellow in the bath. Since it’s a small space, it’s a great way to take a few chances and go bold. master-bath-reno-inspiration {images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

As you can tell by my inspiration pics, I want to create a preppy and modern feel. I want the space to seem full of light (and therefore, seem bigger). And I really am going crazy-pencil-yellow on the walls. While not all the images above are bath-related, they all have the crisp, happy feeling I want this small room to have. And I LOVE the updated vintage vibe and the tile treatment in the gray bath above – when we finally get around to Phase 2, you better believe that border is happening. master-bath-reno-elements {sources: light, medicine cabinet, faucet, sink cabinet, wall cabinet, knobs, hand towels, bath mat}

All the pieces on my inspiration board feature very simple and clean lines since an absence of ornamentation and intricate detail should help the space feel uncluttered, despite the fact that so many elements have to share one teeny-tiny living space. I am a little obsessed with that light fixture and am trying to talk myself into splurging for it (>$200 is a big percentage of this room’s budget). It’s so so pretty. Unconventional mirror shapes are really calling my name too, to help break up the square lines of everything else. We’ll see. They’re very hard to find. And can we talk about those knobs for a minute? I got them super cheap a few years ago on clearance at Home Goods and haven’t found a use for them. I can’t wait to see how they’ll dress up our vanity (which sadly, until we can tackle the floors, has to stay).

So here’s to a (semi-) fresh new start for the master bathroom in the new year!

What do you think of my plans? Am I insane to go bright yellow?