Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure: What’s Missing?

Managing the Everyday

The latest Style Cure assignment was to figure out what’s missing in the room. 

I decided that the space over the couch needs the most help. Especially now that we have a new bold rug, which draws the eye to the floor, we need something big on the wall to help balance it out and make the space feel taller. 

I had two super bright abstract painted canvases in our closet that I had used at our last place. 

Managing the Everyday

Since the rug is so bold in color, I want to keep the art more neutral. At our last home, I learned my lesson about tossing color on every surface. It just doesn’t have the calm effect I want in our home. 

Instead, I’m going black and white:

via Apartment Therapy

via Apartment Therapy

via Apartment Therapy

Javi and I walked over to the art supply store and picked up two big tubes of acrylic paint. 

I was going to use some leftover primer on the painting first to help with coverage, but I discovered that the can of primer hadn’t sealed correctly and had gone bad. :( So, no primer. 

I did, however, layer on some spackling paste that we had on hand to add texture. 

Managing the Everyday

Javi thought the whole thing was super interesting…

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After the first coat of white paint.

Managing the Everyday

You can see that after a couple coats of white paint, the old painting was still showing through. I kind of liked the effect, but also didn’t know how it would look when the two pieces were together on the wall so I kept layering on more white. 

And I got a little impatient and added some black before finishing the white coats. 

Managing the Everyday

And here is the almost finished piece. Who knows, it might be done.

Managing the Everyday

Last night it felt done, but this morning I wasn’t so sure. It feels a little too crisp and exact -although in person it does have a little more dimension with various shades of gray in the white.

I’m going to move on to the next canvas and let this one settle a bit before making any changes. On to the next one!

Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure: Clean Sweep

Managing the Everyday

This weekend’s Style Cure assignment was to declutter and deep clean the room.

When it came to decluttering, there wasn’t a lot of work to do. 

I put away a large toy that Javi had outgrown and tucked away a couple rarely used electronics that were just taking up space (and gathering dust) on the credenza.

I know that the credenza drawers could use some attention, but that seemed like one big distraction just waiting to happen so I left them closed for another day.

I vacuumed the couch, removing the cushions and getting rid of all the lint & hair that a white couch can’t hide. (I absolutely love our vacuum cleaner. It picks up everything.)

After that, I vacuumed & mopped the floors with Method wood floor cleaner and my favorite microfiber mop. Juan mentioned that he felt we should squirt some of the cleaner in our coffee since it smells just like almond syrup.

I wiped down the mirror and picture frames with homemade window cleaner

I scrubbed the dining table until it was free of all remaining traces of mashed sweet potatoes. (Same for the walls/floor around the table.)

Managing the Everyday

I dusted the coffee table, credenza and electronics with microfiber cloths. I even dusted and watered the plants. 

I wiped down the books and magazines on the coffee table and straightened them into neat stacks. 

And then I lit a candle, sat down and admired the sparkle.

Can you see it? The floors & table are so clean they are reflecting the light!

Managing the Everyday

My biggest challenge was staying in the main room and not venturing into the other rooms to vacuum, dust or mop as I was cleaning. I’m glad I made myself “just finish one” and complete the assignment. 

Today’s assignment is to figure out what is missing from our room. I have a couple ideas…Any suggestions?

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AT’s Style Cure: 10 Minutes of Silence & a lot of Measurements

Managing the Everyday

I’m still playing catch up with the Style Cure assignments. 

Monday’s assignment was to sit quietly in the room I want to change for 10 minutes and simply observe and make note of what I think is working and what I would like to change. 

Things I like:

  • The corner where we have Juan’s guitar and a print from our Italy trip hanging on the wall. It just works.
    Managing the Everyday
  • Our bookcases. I worked on them several months ago and am still happy with how they look. I do think that the lower right hand side has too much white going on and feels sterile compared to the rest. Maybe mix that up a bit?Bookcase: After
  • A new little painting I made based on this piece I saw on Etsy. 
    Managing the Everyday

Things I don’t like: 

  • All in the same photo:
    • The mirror over the couch. It does nothing to bring in the light from the windows and instead reflects an uninspiring view of the TV and credenza.
    • The large framed Venice print. I liked it a lot when we first got it and now I just can’t stand it. Plus when I see it I remember how rainy and cold our visit to Venice was. It was romantic in its own way, but nothing like the photo. Which only makes me feel like it is telling a lie.
    • Our coffee table. Specifically, its hard edges and general baby-unfriendliness. I think it goes great with the rug, but not with the baby.
    • The lighting. Currently, the only non-natural light comes from the fixture on the ceiling. We need lamps.Managing the Everyday

Special Mention:

Managing the Everyday

  • Javi’s giant play yard. It’s not pretty, but it is a functional and necessary part of our lives for this season. And I can always fold it up when we have people over. Same goes for the bouncing seat hanging in the doorway to the kitchen.

The Layout

Wednesday’s assignment was to take measurements of the room and furniture.

I started using MagicPlan on my phone, but things were a little off so I ended up going the old fashioned pen, paper & measuring tape route and then adjusting the MagicPlan measurements to get this final result:


I like the overall layout of the room (which is good because I don’t think anything else would work.)

Managing the Everyday
Before the Rug

I’ve wanted to get more seating in the living room, but I also like how open the space feels right now. But maybe with a smaller (round?) coffee table, we could add a chair by the couch without disrupting the flow too much. 

Managing the Everyday

More good news? We can definitely fit a larger dining table!

Right now, sitting down for a meal means crowding all of our plates, cups, etc. to one edge of the little table to keep them out of grabbing range. 

I’m thinking a long rectangular wooden table, matched with our current Eames knockoff chairs

via Apartment Therapy

via Apartment Therapy

Now it’s time to finish catching up on this week’s assignments…Making an outbox and learning about color!

Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure: Defining My Style

Hello Everyone!

Life has been (or at least felt) very full lately.

I think I go in cycles. Sometimes feeling like I have everything more or less under control and I’m making good progress on my goals.

And then other times I find myself overwhelmed and sitting on the couch, looking at unfolded laundry and our Cheerio-garnished floors, wondering how other people with more than one kid and/or kids + careers make it all look so easy. 

This has been one of those other times. 


Javi turned 9 months old and has recently discovered his love of standing (with assistance). He just figured out crawling and as much as I love watching him gain new skills and independence, I’m not ready for walking(!). 

All that said, I’m still pushing through with Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure! It started last week and so far the assignments have challenged me to define my style preferences. 

The first task was to take the Style Cure Interview (check it out here) followed by gathering inspiration images. I’ve been collecting them here on Pinterest. 

Things that have stood out for me:

I LOVE light…

via Apartment Therapy

I feel sad in unintentionally dark or dim rooms – especially during the day. All of my favorite places & memories involve an abundance of sunlight.

I like white walls & clean lined furniture – Especially Mid-Century modern pieces. 

via DesignLoveFest 

California House Home Tour Cup of Jo Living Room 7
via A Cup of Jo

And I’ve rarely met a colorful boho accent or cozy textile that I didn’t want to bring home. (The more throw blankets, the better).

Anthropologie vases

TexturableDecor throw

Our new rug

I like abstract paintings and simple nature photography.

Nouveau Tree by LupenGrainne

Autumn Day No . 1 by Amber Alexander

by Cristina Ripper 

And I think every space feels better with plants.

via A Beautiful Mess

via Apartment Therapy

I’m looking forward to what the next assignments will bring!

The Rug is Here!

Last month, we bought a vintage Turkish rug for our living room from a seller on Etsy.

I’ve been checking the shipment tracking information every day since the rug left Turkey three weeks ago and yesterday it finally said “Out for Delivery”. Hurrah! 

When the mailman rang our doorbell, I almost didn’t mind that a giant bell had just sounded during nap time. The rug was here!

I opened the door, fully expecting to start pulling a heavy, rolled up rug into our apartment. Instead, he handed me a box. 

Managing the Everyday

At first glance when I opened the box, I wondered if they sent the wrong rug.

I knew I was looking at the back of the rug (which always looks different) but I didn’t remember it being so dark. Maybe the photos were really off?

Managing the Everyday

Turns out, I was right. It wasn’t the same rug…It was another smaller rug that they added for fun!


I tried this little rug in front of our kitchen sink and then nearly slipped and fell during my dinner-making dance. (In this house, we dance when we cook. Don’t you?)

I did like how the rug looked in the kitchen, so once I get a rug pad to keep it in place on the hardwood floors, it will be back. 

But what – I hear you asking – about the other rug? The one you bought during No Spend Month, when you really weren’t supposed to be buying anything?

Ladies & Gentlemen, meet our new rug! A beautiful mix of burgundy, orange, taupe and a little fuchsia (to name a few).  

Managing the Everyday

And, the moment you have been waiting for (or maybe just scrolled all the way down for) the The Rug + Room:

Managing the EverydayIt’s amazing how much more put together the living room looks with the added color & texture. As much as I want to be a beige/white/black/grey minimalist, I can’t seem to give up color. Just can’t do it. 

I have, however, declared to Juan that I’m not allowed to buy anything else orange. I gravitate to that color like a moth to a flame and it can get a little ridiculous. Especially when I look around and start asking myself “Why is there So. Much. Orange!?”. 

Like I’ve mentioned, I’m going to be participating in Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure and I’m excited to see how much more the living room will change in the weeks ahead! 

Blah Room? Let’s do Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure!

5935527884_3eb00ca5bb_zphoto: David Fant

A lot of people have asked me what the next “challenge” will be now that we’re done with No Spend Month

I’ve been wondering that too! Juan suggested something “home”-oriented so I’ve decided to sign up for Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure

Apartment Therapy is one of my favorite websites (I dream of our place being featured on there one day). The Style Cure is their yearly project to help you refresh a room in your home in time for the holidays. 

I signed up last year, but I was pretty pregnant so that didn’t really happen. But I did read the emails and loved how straightforward and easy the steps seemed.


 photo: Katie Brady

My Goal? Refresh our living room. 

But, wait!?, you may say. Didn’t you just work on the living room?


I tend to get partially through a home decor project and then feel paralyzed by indecision and self-doubt. (Was this couch a mistake? Oh! Look at this room on Pinterest. Does our space say “us”? What does “us” even look like?)

That said, our living room hasn’t changed much since we added our new couch and got rid of our old rug. Basically, it still looks like this:

Managing the EverydayIt’s better than it was, but it still has a long way to go.

I’m SO ready to get some more art on the walls and add some texture and color to balance out the white. 

And if I can do it in bite-sized pieces with guidance? All the better!

Want to join in the fun? The Style Cure starts on October 23rd so sign up now!

To Buy or Not to Buy


So what do you do when you:

  1. Find a beautiful one-of-a-kind vintage rug that would be perfect for your living room. AND
  2. It’s No Spend Month.

I’ll be honest. If you are me, you buy the rug. Like I just did.

You Did WHAT?

Yes. I know. 

I debated buying it – I could have waited.

Someone else could have bought it, but I would have remained firm in my No Spend Month principles. (And part of me really likes following rules.)

I thought about buying it and not saying anything. I mean, it’s not like any of you would know that I didn’t wait until October. (But that’s shady.)

Instead, I decided to find a way to make it happen while still honoring the goal of No Spend Month. 

Take a Penny…


photo: 401kCalculator.org

Since we didn’t have the extra money for a rug in our No Spend Month envelope, this meant making sacrifices elsewhere. (No pigs were harmed in the making of this sacrifice.)

We use the Envelope Technique of putting a little money aside every month to save up for big purchases. 

326182675_efa3b24d67_zphoto: Seth Mason

We have virtual envelopes for everything: Car Repairs, HOA dues, Christmas Gifts, Clothing, etc. 

We looked at the balance in each and made some cuts. I sacrificed some of my “Fun Money” aka Allowance. We each took some from our Clothing envelopes (which were very healthy thanks to months of OVERfunding.)

When I asked Juan if he was really cool with taking from his Clothing budget, he said not to worry:

“If I run out of money for pants, I’ll just wear the rug.”

Sounds fair. 

Goodbye Creative Accounting

14458297248_5a79d033a2_zphoto: swong95765

Before No Spend Month, we would have bought the rug, let that envelope go negative and made up for it next month by saving a little less. 

It was a sneaky little give and take that in retrospect made about as much financial sense as spending Javi’s college tuition money on cupcakes

We didn’t do it all the time and never went into debt, but it still wasn’t a healthy habit. Now, we are feeling the pinch in the moment and not sacrificing our future. 

I think that’s a good No Spend Month Compromise.

Home Update: Living Room

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’m happy to report that we’ve made great progress on all the things we wanted to do in our living room & Javi’s room!

We still need art for the walls and other decorative things, but the big pieces are DONE! 

We’ve lived here a year and our place is finally starting to look the way we envisioned when we moved in. 

I hope to be posting photos from Javi’s room later this week. Let’s get started with the living room:

The Living Room

When we moved in, it looked like this (minus the previous owner’s furniture shown here in the listing photos):

ListingPhotoLivingRoom ListingPhotoLivingRoom2

The Goal…

We want to be able to walk into our home and feel relaxed. I’d describe the look as simple, uncluttered, bright, welcoming and “cozy-minimalist”.

To us, this means white walls, wood, furniture with clean lines, beautiful plants & colorful accents.

I filled my Pinterest board with images like these: 

hay_side_table_low_res_516c2f3fe087c32eb91baf0dvia Trendenser.se


via DesignSponge

California House Home Tour Cup of Jo Living Room 6

via A Cup of Jo 

Starting Fresh

We removed the ceiling fan and put in a simple light fixture. We also removed the shelving around the windows and put in wooden blinds instead of curtains. 

We painted all of the walls Benjamin Moore Super White. (They look white in the listing photos, but they were an almost yellow off-white and the ceiling was two(!) different shades.)


Painting Day!

Painting was a beast. We saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves (the quote for our whole place was $5k!). But there were definitely times when we second-guessed that decision…Especially since I was five months pregnant. 


Happy, exhausted & paint-speckled.

Now that the walls were bright & clean, our furniture – which I already felt was a little too dark & heavy for the space – looked extra dingy. 

Also, our rug covered most of the hardwood floors, making the space seem smaller.

Living Room: Before

Our Living Room (before)

Since this corner is the only spot that works for a couch, I wanted to get an L-shaped sofa to make the most of the space. 

I loved the clean lines and midcentury look of this Karlstad loveseat + chaise from Ikea, but it was too big.


After a lot of searching, I went back to Ikea and decided on the Kivik sofaKivik

Again, the sectional option was too big. But as an unexpected bonus, we already had the Kivik ottoman! I ordered a matching white cover for it so we could push the ottoman against the wall, nice and snug against the couch for a faux L-shaped sofa. 

IKEA Kivik Ottoman

On the day that the Ikea delivery came, Juan came home to this:


He joked that while I told him that the stuff from Ikea had been delivered, it must have really been a tornado. (This was also the same night as The Bird. The man is a saint…)

Thankfully, as Juan put it, “disaster relief efforts paid off”:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetA pretty basket for Javi’s toys

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Our big new plant!

Next Steps… 

  • To Rug or Not to Rug: We got rid of our rug and aren’t sure if we are going to replace it. Right now we’re enjoying the bare wood floors. 
  • Throw Pillow Swap: There is currently too much orange. 
  • Art: I’m ready to change out the Venice print we have by the couch and add more art to the walls.
  • Baby-Friendly Coffee Table: Those hard, sharp edges + Javi’s increasingly mobile self = No Bueno. 
  • More Plants: Why not? 

Coming soon, Javi’s Room! Stay tuned…

What I Learned By Donating My Wedding Dress

In case you were wondering if I really followed through with what I said I would do, the answer is yes.

I donated my wedding dress.

A couple weeks ago, I brought it to work with me. (Unlike the Superbowl, I chose not to wear it this time.)

I put it in a box. I felt determined, but a little emotional.

I taped up the box. Things were becoming more real.

I left it in the outgoing mailbox and went back to my desk.

Part of me wanted to run and grab it back. Did I really want to get rid of it? What if I would regret it? What if I should keep it?

I couldn’t come up with a good reason why, but I still had that agonizing what-if feeling pumping uncertainty and panic throughout my body.

I realize this sounds incredibly dramatic. But it is as close to the truth as I can put into words. I was surprised by my emotions. But there they were.

A little later, I walked by the front desk and took a peek at the outgoing mailbox.

My dress was gone.


Strangely, I felt a little better.

A couple hours later, I checked in with myself again. How did I feel about it? I felt good. A little nostalgic, but good.

The more time passed, the better I felt about my decision to let the dress go.

By the end of the day, any trace of the crazy what-if feelings were gone. Instead I felt almost neutral about it.

The next day, I felt downright triumphant.

The Power of Letting Go

If you have something in your life – or closet, garage, storage unit – that you are debating getting rid of, let me encourage you to let it go.

Somewhere through the process, you may second-guess yourself. You might feel sick. You might want to run and grab that thing out of the donation box.

Sure, you don’t use it. You haven’t taken care of it properly. But you just might – possibly – need it. If you fixed it. Or lost weight. Or you could have a garage sale! That could work. (Garage sales are great. But I suspect, from personal experience, that the idea of having one is more often procrastination than a plan of action.) 

If you are like me, you will be amazed at how many creative and almost-rational excuses your brain can come up with for keeping things that no longer have a useful and/or valued place in your life.

It comes down to this: We give things power. Whether we are letting them speak for who we are, were or want to be or if we are holding on to them as pieces of people we have loved and lost.

Donating my wedding dress taught me that not only does letting things go lessen the hold that possessions have, it gives some of that power back.

And that feels good.

10 Tips for Making Your Rental Feel Like Home

Our House (4 of 11)

We live in a 600 sq. foot 1 bedroom apartment in Seattle’s East Capitol Hill neighborhood.

We’ve been here for 2 years and unless my long-term plans of turning the large hall closet into a nursery like the previous tenants did doesn’t work out, we will be here for at least another 2 years – maybe more.

There is nothing that says you can’t or shouldn’t work to make your rental feel like home. Sure, it might not be your forever place, but it is home for now. Embrace the space you have and make it yours. Here are 10 tips:

  1. Find inspiration. Browse sites like Apartment Therapy or Pinterest and take note of what you like. I started a Pinterest board just for home inspiration – it’s a great way to see different ideas/items together and learn what style you enjoy.
  2. Get out the camera. Taking a photo of your place is an excellent way to see it with fresh eyes. If you have been in your apartment for a while, it’s easy to grow accustomed to how things look.
  3. Edit. William Morris said, “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” Small spaces can look cramped or disorganized very quickly. Get rid of what you don’t need or love for a more relaxed and welcoming environment.
  4. Paint. We are allowed to paint our apartment as long as we return it back to the original color when we move out. If you are allowed to paint your place, consider adding a colorful accent wall. Or just brightening up the space with a fresh coat of white paint. Some landlords may even pay for the paint if you are willing to do the work and choose a color that they approve of.
  5. Establish zones. Just like stations in the kitchen, breaking your space into zones helps to give a sense of order – especially if you are living in a studio. Define zones for eating, sleeping, dressing, working, etc.
  6. Add a plant. A little green goes a long way.
  7. Think storage. We added a wall of bookcases along one wall in our living room. It added a nice architectural detail to the otherwise blank wall and gave us plenty of additional storage space. Pretty baskets and colorful boxes also work well to collect and hide items you don’t want to display. Be creative, but don’t let clutter stay just because you found a pretty place for it to hide.
  8. Play with texture. Add a rug (great for ugly floors). Hang some curtains. Toss a couple colorful throw pillows on the couch. Little touches help to turn a blank box of a space into a cozy home.
  9. Put things on the walls. Hang some art. Art.com is a great resource for affordable prints in a wide range of styles. How about a gallery wall? Maybe an over-sized framed print? Express your personality.
  10. Edit again. Once is never enough.

How do you make your place feel like home?

(photo credit by Ada Be)

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