Interior Design

Leftovers in the Little Office

I've been putting off redoing our smallest bedroom but I got tired of looking at its bare white walls, so I finally tackled it a couple of weeks ago.  It's a room almost entirely made up of leftover accessories and furniture, but Alex commented that it's the most coordinated of all of the bedrooms.  Funny how that works.  Here's the "before":

And now here are the broad views of the "After":

The dresser was left in our garage when we moved in, the mirror we pulled out of the trash, and the sconces were purchased for another project but didn't work out.  The wall paint was also supposed to be leftover but I made a mistake and bought some supplemental paint that was a shade darker than what I had been planning to use out of my stash.  It all ended up being Sherwin Williams Silver Strand.

The curtains hung in our basement for awhile until I replaced them with some others that I fell in love with at Ikea.  The nightstand is part of my childhood furniture set that is scattered throughout the house.  The orange chair belonged to my Gamma (paternal grandmother).  The lamp and teal pillows are more items that we had in our collection, leftover from our earlier lives.

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The desk is part of that same childhood set.  The chair was purchased from the neighbors across the street - originally intended for a refinishing project but I've stolen it for myself for the time being.

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I had this dresser in our other guest room for awhile but I decided to move it out since it was a tad too big for the space.  I love the wood grain veneer on the front. Please pardon the cords.

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Two new additions are this owl print (Rockfish Gap Antiques) and this gold framed box (Target).  The gold box has pieces of coral that my dad harvested in Hawaii before it was illegal, and the owl print reminds me of my Grandpa, Henry. When he passed, my cousin Chip noticed an owl hanging around in the daylight and decided it was a sign that Grandpa was watching over us.  I believe he is.

These birds are another item we had in our collection, waiting to be hung.  They were a gift from my Mom about 5 years ago and used to hang above our bed in our first apartment.  They used to be black (someone once mistook them for bats!) but I spray painted them white and gold to match the room.

This twin bed was mine in college.  The London print over the bed was purchased on clearance at Pottery Barn and was the color inspiration for the room (gray, orange, teal, gold & white). The duvet was a new purchase from Ikea, as was the curtain rod, and the frames in this part of the room.

This photo was taken by my dad when he was a student at Annandale High School.  It fits with the bird theme (can you tell I like birds?).

Another photo taken by my dad in high school.

On the desk -- more vintage cat art from a family trunk full of photos and prints; a lovely quote by John Wesley given to me by a friend at church, and an angel given to me this Christmas by my mother-in-law.  The wooden box behind contains all of my work files.

Over the desk, these rails were purchased for another project but didn't make the cut. Here, they're doing their job keeping me organized.


Garage Progress: Organizing with Zones

Our garage has moved freely through almost the entire spectrum of disorganization since we moved in two years ago.  It’s housed everything from tile deliveries to water-logged couches and provided shelter for almost every furniture painting or sanding project I’ve undertaken at this house.  It has seen it all.  This little room is a trooper.

Before - Garage during our home inspection, 2012

Before - Garage during our home inspection, 2012

Last winter, I managed to clean it up enough to be able to squeeze a car in, but the level of functionality in this space just wasn't quite cutting it.  At the heart of the issue was this: it’s really hard to stay organized when you have nowhere to put anything.

Before - Garage with kitchen cabinets, 2013

Last summer -- when we were demoing the kitchen -- I decided that I wanted to reuse the old kitchen cabinets.  Half would go in the garage for tool storage and half would go in the laundry room.  We carried them into the garage, lined them up against the wall, and there they promptly sat for a year.

Before - Garage, 2014

Fast forward to July of this year when my sister Jennifer came to visit -- the garage was a mess again and the countdown to winter was starting.  Jennifer offered to help me get the project started by assisting me in establishing the necessary infrastructure to really get organized.

After...or, eh. Progress

My plan of attack was to 1) spend as little as possible, 2) reuse as much as possible, 3) make it beautiful, and 4) employ organizational systems that would allow my husband and me to access our tools quickly and easily.  A key to accomplishing number 4 was creating “zones” within the garage.

After - Zone 1

Zone 1: Frequently Used Items

Near the door into the house, I reused previously-owned, stackable recycling bins to organize frequently used items (cleaning supplies, rags) and recreational items (sports equipment).  A wall organizer holds our broom collection, many of which were left by previous owners, and an old dry erase board provides a spot for quick notes or inspirational messages.  An upcycled flower pot becomes a go-to spot for pencils and dry erase markers.

After - Zone 2

After - Dry Erase Tool Outlines

Zone 2: Hand-Tool Storage

A large plywood wall became the perfect spot for consolidated hand-tool storage.  With my mom and sisters’ help, we purchased pre-owned sheets of peg board from a local Architectural Salvage store, Construction Junction.  I decided I wanted to paint them white (they were originally covered in heinous black and white pin stripes) to blend in with the rest of the garage and opted to try Rustoleum’s dry erase paint, knowing it would allow me to mark the location of my tools while permitting me the flexibility to move them around.  Matching storage bins at the base of the wall provided spots for extension cords and other items in need of more containment.

After - Zone 3

Zone 3: Lawn & Garden

A large nook near the rear of the space was our best option for storing larger machinery like our lawnmower and chipper, at least until we’re able to buy or build a shed.  Though it doesn’t look particularly organized, the space was carefully laid out to maximize the storage of large bulky items.  A small cabinet mounted to the wall above houses lawn-related sprays and insecticides.

After - Door to Pittsburgh Potty

The door to a small powder room (or “Pittsburgh Potty” as we call them here), painted with leftover chalkboard paint, provides a place to write down seasonal lawn or home maintenance reminders.

After - Zone 4

Zone 4: Workbench, Hardware & Large-Tool Storage

The old kitchen cabinets were transformed into a beautiful workbench with a few coats of leftover gray paint, a little gold spray paint on the original hardware, and a $5 upcycled door from Construction Junction.

After - Painted Cabinets

Jennifer helped me attach wood cleats to the existing concrete block wall so it would be easier to install the wood cabinets (it’s easier to screw into wood when you’re trying to level and position cabinets against the wall).

After - Door turned workbench

Alex and I used a circular saw to trim down a 30”x84” door which became the top of the workbench.  The far right side of the long base cabinet used to be a blind corner in our kitchen, so I decided to leave it open and use self-adhesive wallpaper from Target to pretty up the back.

After - Contents

Inside the cabinets, we’re storing all of our large power-tools and utilizing some leftover plastic drawers to hold miscellaneous hand tools, extra blades, and items not easily hung on the peg board.

After - Labels

After - Drawers

On top of the workbench, we sorted all of our miscellaneous screws and nails into easily accessible hardware organizers, all clearly labeled with typed or handwritten labels.  The boombox (which I think I’ve had since elementary school…) is a must for any garage.

After - Zone 5

After - Close Up

Zone 5: Paint Storage

The far left cabinet used to house our oven when it lived in the kitchen.  I added a back and new shelf made out of wood scraps, and then added wallpaper to match the blind corner cabinet.  To cut down on clutter, I poured paint from partially used leftover paint cans into mason jars (some large, some small).  This also allows me to easily find and access touch up paint.  In the bottom cabinet, I placed the majority of my painting supplies, as well as cans of paint that I’m still in the process of using.  In the upper cabinet, I have all of my wall repair supplies (caulk, spackle, patches, drywall tape), and well as some adhesives and tapes.

After - Bins

Along the adjacent wall (which still needs some work), ladders and bins containing drop cloths all fall within the paint zone.

Overall, establishing infrastructure with zones in mind has resulted in a much more functional, beautiful, enjoyable garage space.  I still have a couple walls left to paint but it's looking so much better in here.  How about you? What zones do you have in your garage?  How do you store your tools?

Master Bedroom Progress

It's hard to believe that we've owned this house for 2 years.  It's almost hard to remember what it looked like in here when we bought it.

Take for instance, one of my more recent projects: the master bedroom.

Here's what it looked like before:

Dark red carpet, orange-y wood trim, and lace curtains.  It's a distant memory!

After we moved in, it looked like this for a long time.  We replaced the lace curtains with bamboo shades early on, but our nightstands were closet organizers (leftover from my makeshift college desk) for over a year.

And here's what it looks like now.

The color inspiration for the room came from this bird pillow that my paternal grandmother made.  My initial plan was to paint the room mint green but I ended up settling with a lighter shade of yellow green (SW 7728 Sprout) to coordinate with the leaves in the textile.

Truthfully, I'm still not totally sold on the color (it's looks kind of lime-y sometimes) but am feeling infinitely better about it since spotting this amazing bird print at Ikea.  The background color on the print on the far left is, coincidentally, exactly the color of the walls and the piece overall ties in the rest of the room.

In addition to the wall color, another major change to the room are the wardrobe cabinets on either side of the bed.  I love these.  They were part of my plan for the room since the day I first laid eyes on the closet.  I had seen similar wardrobe installations by other bloggers (like this) and thought they would be the perfect way to add extra storage, while creating a cozy, built-in feeling.

These particular cabinets are part of the Besta series from Ikea which is a more versatile line that can be used for anything from media storage to clothes storage.  I selected these because they fit our space and ceiling height better than some of their other traditional wardrobe lines.  They're not quite deep enough for side-by-side clothes hanging but are great for folded sweaters, jeans, etc.

I opted for a smaller door at the bottom and a few open shelves in the middle for accessories and nightstand items.  Eventually, I'd like to find wallpaper to line the back of the shelves with.  I'm thinking something like this.

The only downside to these particular cabinets was that they weren't quite wide enough to reach the edge of the bed.  We ended up purchasing a new, low platform bed frame (Ikea Malm) to accommodate the bird print above the bed and were having a hard time finding small, low nightstand solutions to fill the 11" gap on either side.

My solution was to use a small antique table that I inherited from my grandparents on one side and stack some books on the other side (a la the January 2014 edition of the West Elm Catalog).

In the way of clothes storage, we're still using the mid-century modern dressers that I've had since childhood.

My dad built them from a kit in the 60's and they're really in need of some TLC.  I'm thinking about trying a gel stain on them.

Then, of course, there's the closet.  It needs a new rod but it's looking much more upscale these days since we replaced our mismatched hangers with brand new wooden ones.

On my dresser, I store my makeup brushes in an upcycled silver cream pitcher.

My necklaces are hung on an antique ladder which makes them both easy to retrieve and doubles as art!

Speaking of art -- on this side of the room, I hung my maternal grandparents' curio cabinet (filled with a few pieces of my paternal grandparents' stationery from their time in Uruguay), a print of my favorite childhood restaurant, and an antique print of our alma mater which I think belonged to my Great Uncle Bill.

On this wall, I hung a beautiful custom piece by my talented uncle, Ted Lind, which was given to us as a wedding gift.

Adjacent to the closet is a handpainted portrait of my dad (as I prefer to remember him) at the age of 6.

It was commissioned by my grandparents when they lived in Poland.

In the master bathroom, we've only made a few minor updates.  This is what it looked like before:

Not too bad, but nothing spectacular.

We decided to replace the toilet (which was kind of an ordeal - don't order plumbing fixtures off the internet!) because the old one was leaking.  I also installed some glass shelves over the toilet because we have no under sink storage.  Eventually, I'd like to at least replace the sink with a shallow vanity and repaint.

Altogether, it's coming along.  There are still a few things on my to do list but it's definitely an improvement!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with and was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own :)

I love furniture layouts.  I've said it before; I'll say it again.

In the professional organizing and downsizing industry, I'm privileged to draft furniture layouts for clients who are transitioning into new homes.  It's so rewarding to help them visualize their new space through the use of digital modeling.  The model facilitates the planning process and helps clients to make educated decisions on what pieces to keep and which to relinquish.

SketchUp - Living Room Layout

In the past, I've used a software program called SketchUp for modeling.  I purchased the commercial version several years ago for a freelance project (there's also a free version available).  It's an incredibly versatile program; it's precise enough for architectural drawings but easy enough for the everyman.  What I love most about SketchUp is the 3D Warehouse.  This is a place where anyone can upload or download digital models.  You can retrieve everything from models of famous landmarks to individual pieces of furniture and objects.  Some corporations even upload scale models of their own products (ie: Pella windows).  Often, I'm able to find models of furniture that closely resemble pieces that my clients already own, further enhancing their ability to visualize their own items in a new space.  My only major problem with this software was the amount of time it was taking me to build furniture layouts.  Without purchasing additional plugins, it's a very cumbersome process to add windows and doors and furniture resizing had to be done manually using a scaling tool.  To achieve a realistic appearance, it was taking me an exorbitant amount of time to complete each plan.

When I got my most recent request for a layout, I decided it was finally time to test a different program.  I looked around a bit and eventually settled on  It's easy to use, specifically intended for furniture layouts, and generates pretty sophisticated 3D renderings if you purchase a monthly plan (I purchased the Pro plan since I'm using it for commercial purposes).  It's free to try.  Here's what the process looked like for my own home:

There are a series of icons in a box on the right hand side that allow you to do basic operations like draw rooms, individual walls or surfaces, and add text and dimensions.  On the right hand side, you can search through and drag in structural elements (windows, doors, etc) or furniture pieces.  Once items are in the model, you can click on individual elements to change dimensions, colors, and materials.  Doors and windows automatically snap to walls and can be easily moved and adjusted.

The model can also be viewed in 3D.  Most adjustments have to be made in the 2D view but switching to this view helps me get a better sense of how things will realistically fit.

Upper Floors

Lower Floors

When I export the 2D plan, it looks a little cartoon-y to me.  Still, I appreciate being able to easily distinguish rooms with labels and distinctive floor materials.  I also like that this view illustrates door swings, which people sometimes forget to leave room for.

Upper Floors

Lower Floors


Aesthetically, I much prefer the 3D renderings.  I love the dynamism and dimension that the shadows create.  I adore that when I export the rendering I can choose to automatically darken the tops of the walls (used to have to do that manually in Photoshop when I was in school!) so my client can still understand where the walls are. doesn't apply labels in this view which is okay -- I can easily label them myself later (plus the items in each room are a pretty good indication of what's what).

To finalize the plans, I export a rendered image into a SketchUp-affiliated program called Layout.  Here I can label rooms or individual pieces of furniture, as well as add whatever dimensions I feel will be useful for the client to see.

Altogether, I'm so pleased with my decision to switch to  I love the results and most of all, the time I save.  Anyone need a furniture layout? :)

Dwell With Dignity Inspired Makeover

Two years ago, I was privileged to spend a few days with the incredible women at Dwell with Dignity (DwD) in Dallas, TX - a non-profit that is “inspiring lives with design.”  They partner with other organizations, designers, and companies to transform spaces for families going through difficult life transitions.  Volunteers and staff members spend hours repurposing donated furniture, creating art, and collecting items to make gorgeous, meticulously designed spaces that make their clients feel nurtured, hopeful, and ready to tackle all of life’s challenges.  My experience there only served to solidify my understanding of how significantly your physical environment impacts your life.

When my friend Beth (a very loving, hardworking mom to 3-year-old Anderson) told me about her 1970s lime green bedroom, I could only imagine how that space was impacting her mood (and her eyes!).  In the spirit of DwD, I wanted nothing more than to give her a space where she could come and relax at the end of the day.  I shared my idea to bless Beth with a bedroom makeover with some mutual friends and came up with $500 to go toward a redesign.

Take a look at the psychedelic space we started with.

The walls, wallpaper, and carpet were ALL green (the two girls that grew up there in the 70s picked the scheme).

And the switchplate needed to be replaced also...

Here's the "after" following several weeks of shopping, planning, prepping, a fabulous crafting party, and one very intense weekend of painting, carpet removal, and installation with the help of some very kind and generous friends (thanks Beth, Mandy, Megan, Nathan, and Alex!).

Beth asked for light gray walls (SW 7015 Repose Gray) and a color scheme inspired by one of her favorite prints.  Here's the design board I put together.

Gray and Coral Origami Bedding by Nate Berkus from Target, coordinated with white furniture, feminine florals, and light teal/mint/gold accents, combine to create a fresh, sophisticated space.

In terms of the layout, I came up with two floor plan options.  This first option was roughly based on the way she had originally arranged her room, with the addition of a desk-turned-vanity and two matching nightstands.

The second option shifted the bed to the middle of the room, taking advantage of unused space on the shorter side walls.  Beth preferred this layout.

In the end, we were able to supplement Beth's existing furniture with a combination of new and thrift store finds.

$8 Ikea LACK tables are Beth's new nightstands, complimenting her new-to-her $10 painted thrift store headboard. Teal lamps from Target (purchased on a "Buy one, get one 50% off" special) and a painted thrift store mason jar (courtesy of our friend, Mandy) add pops of color.  

Market blooms and a thrift store tray (painted by Lauren M.) are ready for breakfast in bed.

On the other side of the bed, more revamped accessories and photos add personality.

Beth's favorite print gets a prime spot in the room, next to the window.  Underneath, a piece of pretty, teal wrapping paper becomes quick, affordable art.

A $35 vintage CraigsList desk, cleaned and painted white (Behr Ultra Pure White), provides extra storage for beauty products as well as a naturally-lit spot to get ready in the morning.  This $5 thrift store chair, painted a muted teal (SW 6478 Watery), is a fun pop of color in this corner.  On top - Beth's college sorority symbol, the anchor, adds a personal touch to an otherwise plain white IKEA pillow.

Beth chose this pretty, feminine mirror from HomeGoods (which I painted to match her chair) to hang over her vanity.  More clearance and thrift store finds complete this corner of the room.

Near the door, a gallery of smaller frames (filled with simple, geometric line drawings) create a larger scale art piece.

Beth's beautiful jewelry pops against the light gray walls on this accordion hanger she already owned.

This dresser, which Beth had already, coordinates with the other vintage-style furniture in the room as does the gold hardware.  A drawer needs repair, but the piece looks almost-new after being wiped down with dark wood polish.

More thrift store and clearance finds (including this Ikea bowl, updated by Brittany B.) continue to add color in the room.  Spray painted frames filled with stationary and a free print create visual interest.

Altogether, I think the room came together so beautifully.  Beth was involved in many of my choices but we banned her from the space once the painting was complete.  Part of our "installation crew" stayed and surprised her with the end result on Mother's Day.  I'm so grateful for our friends that contributed to this project in so many ways. We exceeded our $500 budget a little, but I'm so impressed with how far we stretched what we had.  This is where the money went:

Comforter Set: $85 (Target)
Bedskirt: $0 (Donated)
Sheet Set: $45
Headboard: $10 (Community Thrift)
Nightstands: $16 (Ikea)
Curtains: $20 (Ikea)
Curtain Rods: $20 (Ikea)
Lamps: $40
Ceiling Light: $30
Frames/Mats: $24 (mostly donated)
Desk: $35 (CraigsList)
Chair: $5 (Habitat for Humanity ReStore)
Mirror: $20 (HomeGoods)
Makeup Mirror: $10 (Marshalls)
TV Cabinet/TV: $0 (Already Owned)
Hamper: $4 (Goodwill)
Accessories: $35 (Goodwill, Ikea, Donated)
Toss Pillows: $30
Paint: $130
Craft Supplies: $10 

Total: ~$569

What an incredible transformation.  Anderson gives his approval with "two animal crackers" up.  Thanks again to all who contributed to this project, to Beth for allowing us to take over her house for a weekend, and to Dwell with Dignity for inspiring lives from Dallas to Pittsburgh.

Living Within Your Means

10 years of my 25 year life were spent in pursuit of a career in Architecture until I realized that a life spent drafting in front of a computer was not the life for me.  Last fall, after taking most of the summer off to soul search and renovate our kitchen, I was still feeling lost when my mom suggested that I look into working as a professional organizer/downsizing consultant since I seem to have a knack for spatial reorganization and furniture layouts.  In November, I was able to connect with a local Certified Professional Organizer/Certified Relocation Transition Specialist and have been working with her as an independent contractor (and loving it) ever since.  Thanks, Mom! I recently took another step in this direction and decided to join the National Association of Professional Organizers.  With this latest life development, I was excited to see this post from Apartment Therapy pop up on my RSS feed the other day.  I love how Amelia Meena of Appleshine Lifestyle Organization defines "living within your means."  I have always thought about this phrase in regard to financial means --- but it makes so much sense to apply it to your space!  I've seen so many episodes of House Hunters where families move to accommodate their excess possessions, sure to continue collecting more and more until they have to move again.  So many resources could be conserved if we all made a better effort to live within our means (and stay organized!).

Thanks Amelia, and Apartment Therapy, for sharing!

Alex in a Box

Happy Valentine's Day!  In celebration of my Valentine, Alex, I'm sharing some photos of his office at work -- a space I tried to tailor to his unique personality. If you know Alex, you know that he is a passionate, educated, earth-loving, sports & gadget-obsessed, Civil-turned-Energy Engineer.  And no, I'm sure his 6'4" frame does not easily fit in your average box.  That's not what happened.  What did occur --some time ago now -- was an experiment where I unsuccessfully attempted to artfully arrange items that I thought were representative of him in this black photography box/tray.  Clearly, he could not be contained.

AlexInABox copy copy

Items that I selected included a vintage Erector set and mechanical design books (for his engineering spirit); a bowl made of recycled paper, recycled beer bottle glasses, and recycled light bulbs (ever the conservator); mementos from his time at the University of Virginia and travels; a golf box and sports poster (the sports enthusiast); his diploma and certifications; and of course, a picture from our wedding.

All of these items were earmarked to go with him to work.


Before - Desk

His office, which is far more generous than your average cubicle, was relatively bare to start.


Before - Wall


Before - Entry



With the addition of his things, it's feeling a bit more like Alex in there these days.


Pops of red around the room help add some life and color to the space.


Items like his childhood coke bottle collection and diploma distinguish the room as his own.


And, my favorite part of the room by far are these hanging recycled light bulb vases.  Because he deals with energy at work (and loves to recycle), this just seemed like a perfect addition to the space.  To make them, I followed this tutorial from  To hang them, I carefully tied and secured string to each bulb, suspended them from the drop ceiling, and filled them with a very minimal amount of water.


Unique touches for my unique husband.