ORC: Week 6 - The grand finale!

It’s (finally? already?) here! The final reveal of my One Room Challenge room, the master bedroom.

In case you don’t know, the One Room Challenge is a blogging challenge hosted twice a year, in which twenty featured designers document their progress as they completely renovate a room from start to finish in 6 weeks. All are welcome to join in on the fun as guest participants, which is where I come in. Yesterday was the big reveal day for the featured designers, and today hundreds of more pretty rooms are hitting the internet. Read on to see mine!

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Six weeks ago, our master bedroom looked like how having a head cold felt. You can still function, but are a far cry from your best. After we moved in last year, we painted the walls and demo-ed the existing trim. We took the closet doors and entry door off with the intention to paint them, and there the bedroom sat…for almost a year! So, what I started with at the beginning of this challenge wasn’t a horrible space, exactly. It was just a nothing space that I had put no effort into making peaceful or beautiful. Here are a few before pictures for context, and you can see all the befores right here. But I’m making these small, because I want to talk about the after!

OK. I take it back, it was horrible. RIP privacy sheet. Never return.

But I’m happy to say the bedroom has recovered from her head cold, she’s been eating healthy and exercising, and now she looks like this…

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If you’ve read my previous posts about this room, you know I waffled back and forth about what to do for a bed. Try to DIY one? Buy just a headboard? And then buy a plain bed stand to attach it to? Do I need a bed skirt now, too? I can be so indecisive, it drives me mad. Eventually I found this bed on sale at Target. It wasn’t an outstanding, dramatic, grabs-you-by-the-eyeballs piece of furniture, but I realized that’s exactly what I was looking for. Something quiet and simple. I went back to Target earlier this week for white and grey striped sheets. Another simple change that I love. And hopefully grey and white is easier to keep fresh and clean looking than plain white sheets. Sheesh.

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I kept the dresser and night stands we already had to try and save some money. They aren’t exactly pretty things, but after changing the knobs I like them a lot better! I did a deep purge and seasonal swap of all our clothing, and happily gave the now-empty tall dresser to the guest room.

I cringe when I see the contrast between the hallway and the bedroom in the photo above. You guys, the difference that finished trim and painted doors makes! It shouldn’t surprise me by now, but it does. I still get a happy little jolt whenever I see the fresh white trim against the clean walls. It all feels so neat and new. And might I say, it does feel mighty good to know that my own two hands did that! Or helped with that. Thanks Brandon.

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I have loved line drawing artwork for a while, and I was happy to find this print on Etsy. I put it in an IKEA frame I already had, but I think it would look pretty framed without a mat as well.

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Josie can’t be bothered to hold still for a picture, but rest assured she loves the new rug. I probably sound ridiculous, but I was so nervous about buying this pretty blue rug! I’d only ever bought grey area rugs before, so this was quite a change. I am happy to say I love it! I think it adds a lot to a room that has, well, basically no color. Right now, the only other colorful things are the big picture I bought from Craigslist because it is copy of a smaller print that hung in my Grandma’s house, and those trusty green velvet pillows from IKEA. They are a perfectly muted olive color that looks good literally anywhere. I think if my soul had a color, it’d be this.

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The blinds add a lot of texture and interest to the room. I purchased these inexpensive blinds from Overstock after dropping my jaw when the Lowe’s employee showed me how much custom-sized blinds would be. No thank you, kind sir. I followed this AMAZING tutorial to a T, and it worked perfectly. I cannot thank the angel Angela who posted this enough! It was exactly what I needed. It wasn’t a quick job (especially not the first one!) but I got it done and now I don’t have to worry about that again. Until we furnish the next bedroom.

Also, do you want to know about these lamps? I love the black and gold. More soul colors, for sure.

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You’ll never guess where I found them…Wal-Mart. I know, I was surprised too! But Wal-Mart’s online selection is huge, so maybe it shouldn’t come as a shock. I had an old gift card lying around so I was happy to get both for less than $60.

To me, a room isn’t really finished unless it has something quirky, special, or sentimental. Bonus points if it’s all three. My framed kitty card counts as quirky, and the big painting is definitely sentimental. It might not be the exact piece that my Grandma had, but it still makes me smile in a bittersweet way. I think we give mass-produced art a bad rep, when really we should be thanking them for giving us little connections to our grandparents in heaven.

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I’ve only slept in my brand new bedroom for one night so far, but I can vouch for a decorated or designed bedroom. It doesn’t have to be perfect; mine is not! But it feels so refreshing to have a finished space, especially when most of the rest of the house is still looks like the “before” pictures. A finished space that is cozy, relaxing, and fits you. I think this space does that. Cheers!

ORC: Week 5 (just you wait...)

Well well well, here we are at week 5 of the One Room Challenge! If this is the shortest update post in the history of the ORC, please forgive me. I promise I will make it up to you next week with the reveal!

HOLY GOODNESS, NEXT WEEK.

IT’S FINE.

I’M FINE.

In case you are wondering why I’m freaking out, allow me to enlighten you: the One Room Challenge is a home design challenge hosted twice a year in which 20 featured designers and hundreds of guest participants transform one room from start to finish in 6 weeks. I’m trilled to be joining as a guest participant for the second time! My first round was last spring when I made over my combined living and dining space, see more of that here. This time around I’m trying to turn our “master” bedroom into a relaxing, minimal, and cute space.

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This week, Brandon and I took advantage of a mostly-obligation-free Saturday and got a bunch of work done. I always feel so elated after a day like that—look at us! we did so good! we’re unstoppable!—but by Monday evening I was stress-sweating while looking at the deadline. In case you’re wondering, we are doing all of this in real time. The realest of real time. My to-do list wants to drown me like an evil seductive mermaid singing to an ignorant sailor, but somehow we’ll get there! Here’s what we accomplished this week:

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Trim! As of today, all the trim is installed, with the exception of the top casing on a window. I ordered these blinds earlier this week, and once they arrive we’ll finish the trim. Brandon wanted to wait for the blinds to arrive before completely installing, just in case we had to get creative and customize it a bit in order to mount them properly. It still needs to be painted and caulked, and unfortunately, that is holding us up. I don’t want to move our new rug and bed in the room until that is completely finished and I can clean the floors. Even unfinished, it looks so good, right?!

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Another big job is painting the sliding closet doors and the main entry door. It was dusty, dirty work (especially when the dust vacuum stopped working on my hand help sander) and I am SO GLAD to be done. The doors still need a second coat, and I’m hoping to finish that tomorrow after work.

More exciting news? I WENT TO BRUNCH WITH MY FRIENDS. THEN CAME HOME TO A BOX ON MY PORCH FILLED WITH A BED. That’s right, bed is here! It’s still not assembled, but it’s here. It’s cool and very non-fussy, and I am all about that. I think it’s going to look so good with the rug. I just can’t wait to see it all set up!

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As I mentioned above, I ordered blinds for the windows. PRAISE HIM AND RAISE ‘EM, the privacy sheet is coming down for good! I think I may have to add a lining to the blinds, but I am choosing not to worry about that until after they arrive tomorrow. I also decided on lamps and can order those tomorrow. After that is done, I think I’m finished buying things. FINALLY. I didn’t start this room make over with a specific budget, other than the words “as cheap as possible” ringing in my ears. But between the rug, bed, and a few trips to Lowe’s, I am tired of spending money on a room that looks more or less the same.

By this time next week though, it’s going to look completely different. I cannot wait to see it all come together and I might be even more excited to show you all when it’s done! I’m going to share my to-do list one more time; see you all on the other side of this list!

  • Finish painting and install closet and entry door

  • Finish caulking and painting trim

  • CLEAN

  • Set up rug and bed

  • Install (maybe add lining to?) blinds

  • Add the cute things

ORC: Week 4 - A bed and a rug

Welcome, one and all, to week 4 of the One Room Challenge! Six weeks sounds like a decent chunk of time, but once you start breaking it down it’s amazing how it flies by.

For newbies, (hi, love you) the One Room Challenge is a 6-week design challenge hosted twice a year. Twenty featured designers share their progress every Wednesday, and hundreds of guest participants join in every Thursday until the big reveal! This past spring was my first time as a part of this rodeo and you can see that reveal here.

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Last week I thought I had all the big decisions made, but it turns out that I can’t make it easy on myself. After much internal debate and flip-flopping, I decided to scrap the DIY headboard idea and have instead made two major purchases—a bed and a rug!

I think a DIY black velvet channel tufted headboard sounds DREAMY, but after sleeping on it I had a nagging feeling that it would be too much for this space. My style is still very much evolving and developing, but one thing it is for certain? Simple. With the most colorful rug I’ve ever bought in the room, I had to go back and remind myself what I wanted for this space: clean, minimal, cozy, and warm. If you are interested in DIY-ing your own headboard, I pulled much of my inspiration from Brady and Mandi’s projects. I would have been THRILLED if my attempt turned out half this good!

So instead of a great DIY (mis)adventure, I purchased this bed. I won’t lie, I am nervous about this! I am not a huge fan of fake leather, but I like the simple, modern look of the frame. Also, the headboard is short enough to fit nicely under our 1960’s high-and-wide windows. This hasn’t arrived yet so I’m holding my breath until it does!

The rug I purchased for our room was delivered yesterday and good news, I love it! It makes me so excited to see everything come together. I have a sneak peek below. I’m not trying to be coy; our house has no space big enough to unroll it besides the bedroom! Hopefully all of the dusty work of installing trim will be finished by Saturday and it can move into it’s new home.

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Speaking of dusty work, the old trim is gone! Brandon and I knocked it out in a little over an hour last night. It was not hard work, and with Brandon’s beloved country playlist to keep us going, it was actually a really fun evening. Brandon pried the baseboards and window and door casings off, and I followed behind with a nifty little tool to scrap off the bumpy paint and with a hammer to pull out remaining nails. As proof, here’s another picture of my feet.

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I still need to get storage bins and baskets for the closet, but it is purged and organized, trust me! It doesn’t look super cute but it is the most organized it’s ever been. And half empty. Off-season storage for the win! The dresser and nightstand drawers were also purged within an inch of their lives. On Saturday, we took a date to Lowe’s and picked up all the new knobs. It only took me 1 1/2 podcast episodes to clean each drawer and install the new hardware.

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As you can tell from this picture, we still need to address the window coverings. It will be a happy, happy day when that privacy sheet comes down. Aside from that, here’s the rest of my to-do list:

  • Install trim (includes patching, caulking, and painting)

  • Purchase and install blinds

  • Get baskets and bins for closet

  • Get lamps

  • Figure out art for blank wall, and above dresser

  • New bedding

  • Do something nice - add flowers or something. :)

That’s not too bad is it? See you next week with (hopefully) pretty pictures!

One Room Challenge: Week 3 (how are we here already?!)

How are we halfway through the One Room Challenge already? In 3 weeks, I am to have not only a completed room to share with the internet, but also to have cleaned it and made it pretty and photographed and written about it. But, let’s be honest, the writing part doesn’t frighten me. I might not chat your ear off in person, but I can go on and on (and on!) while typing my innermost thoughts and feelings about interior decorating. Maybe it’s an introvert thing? BUT, I am getting off topic while simultaneously proving my aforementioned point. Let’s get into the ORC!

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If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, the One Room Challenge is an amazing event hosted twice a year in which 20 featured designers and hundreds of guest participants (me!) completely transform a room in 6 days. Just kidding, 6 weeks. It’s fun. It’s crazy. It’s my second time doing it (see my first reveal here) and read on for my week 3 update!

So I ended last week’s post feeling pretty uncertain about where we are going to end up. I made a few mood boards, but honestly was still trying to decide what we’re doing here in the bedroom. I’m happy to say that while I haven’t purchased or made everything we need yet, I finally have a clear picture in my head and now all that’s left to do is create it! Half the battle is won, right?

One thing I was agonizing over was our bed. I love a modern looking upholstered bed frame, but I knew I wanted it in black and was having a hard time finding any affordable options that weren’t fake leather. Phew, did you follow all of that? I finally decided that while it might be easier to get a $200 tufted pleather bed frame, it’s not what I am in love with. Since I have also been paring down my wardrobe during this makeover, I can’t in good conscience buy something while only loving it at 50%. I mean, after getting rid of half my clothes, I would never do that with a sweater for $30! So why would I consider doing with with a bed frame for four times as much? My new idea (which is really my old idea. Trust your gut, friends.) is to DIY a headboard about of black velvet. I know! It’s a little late in the game to be deciding to whip up a headboard “really quick” but, I MEAN. BLACK VELVET.

Brandon, if you’re reading this from your hotel room while on your work trip - don’t freak out. I promise it will look great and you won’t end up doing all the work.

I am also quite proud to say that I have completed the Great Closet Purge of 2018. It’s possible, ya’ll! We can fit all our (in season) clothes in one closet and one dresser…with room to spare! Our closet still needs some organizing and some beautifying, but it’s a definite improvement. I feel like I can breathe so much easier, and I also want to get rid of half of the rest of the house. All in good time.

After a quick trip to Lowe’s earlier this week, I can home with several different knobs to see what looks best with our dresser and nightstands. Nothing is going to make it less-orange or less beat up, but new hardware can hopefully shine her up enough to look vintage-cute and not Craigslist-shady. I really loved the black and gold knobs - so cute! So I decided to use those for the nightstand drawers and slightly bigger, all black knobs for the dresser. It’s my bedroom I’ll have mismatched knobs if I want to!

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Lastly, I think I’ve decided on a rug for the room. I mean I know I fell in love with one, I’m just trying to decide if the price is right. Isn’t she nice? Should I just go with it? Is 11:30 on a Wednesday night a good time to make a decision?
(Just in case you’re wondering, no that is not an affiliate link. I know this is a blog and everything but I don’t know how to do that stuff. Help.)

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I know this wasn’t a juicy blog post, but sometimes progress is just like that. Kind of like falling in love…slowly, and then all at once.

NAME THAT MOVIE/BOOK!

See you all next week!

One Room Challenge: Week 2 (operation bedroom)

Welcome to week 2 of the ORC!

If you’re not familiar, the (dare-I-say) infamous One Room Challenge is a design challenge that takes place twice a year. Featured designers and guest participants transform one room over the course of 6 weeks, documenting the progress every week up until the grand finale. Sound fun? Read on!

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If I’m comparing this week of the challenge to its predecessor from this spring, I would have to confess I am a LOT calmer this time around. Maybe the trick was just choosing a smaller space to makeover with less work to do? I haven’t made a lot of visible progress this week but I am in the thick of the non-glamorous part - The Great Bedroom Purge of 2018.

Most of Tuesday’s after-work hours were spent taking all of my clothes out of my dresser and closet and sorting them very thoroughly. Even though I am not a true minimalist, Brandon and I have made an effort to live more simply and, as I like to call it, “with more breathing room.” Clutter and excess stuff with no designated spot is something that irritates the both of us. I’m lucky, I suppose, that we share this! Imagine how annoying we both would be if our partner was a hoarder. People with moderate OCD, unite! All that to say: I didn’t think I was hoarding that many clothes. This made me nervous, as my plan for the room depends on paring down our clothing enough so that it all fits into one shared closet and dresser. My dresser drawers are always bursting at the seams, and if there’s not much to get rid of, is this really possible?

Spoiler alert: it’s possible. They key for me is to wait until I am in a very critical mood, or when I am really excited for the task. Or when I have a deadline that the internet is holding me accountable to. That makes sorting through things so much more enjoyable! I started Tuesday evening with the plan to pull everything out and only put back what

A) is appropriate for winter/fall (OK so it was almost 80* today but it is nearing the middle of October, so I have to act on faith that cooler weather will come or I might start to cry) and

B) I really loved.

That’s it. Simple criteria, right? Everything else would either be packed and stored away for the warmer months or taken to our local consignment or charity thrift shop. Storing off-season clothes is the reason we are able to fit two adults clothing in one dresser. Up until this week, both Brandon and I had been keeping all our clothing out and accessible all year round. When I was a kid, my mom used to rotate our clothing like this every fall and spring, but I haven’t done this since...well, since my mom took care of my clothes. I didn’t get 100% through all of my clothes because I stopped to watch the AMA’s, because, well pop culture is important. However I did make a big dent in this task, and now I know the whole one-dresser-for-two-people thing is totally possible!

But I’m not here to brag about a not-completed (yet) project. Let’s chat about the actual room design! This has been a bit of challenge for me, which is frustrating! Designing and decorating the room is literally the biggest and one of the only jobs to do here! So, to help with this designers block, I’ve reviewed the 3 mood boards I’ve made over the past year of living in this house. The feel and look I am going for in the bedroom is casual, masculine, simple, cozy, and neat. A lot of our current furniture is staying (dresser, nightstands, possibly the ceiling fan) which is why you see the same nightstands and dresser in all these pictures. Not an exact likeness, of course, but close enough for these purposes.

Option #1
The first picture you see below is a mood board I made several months ago. I keep coming back to it now because it seems so simple and clean. You guys have seen the way our bedroom looks now - simple and clean is very, very welcome! But while I like how this looks, in real life we will have lamps and books and coasters for my ever-present water cup. Am I still going to like this look, even with all the real life things added on? Or do I just like it because it’s not as busy as option #2?

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Option #2
Here’s an option I came up with last week. Definitely a different look, right? Brandon, my sweet wonderful husband who also has opinions about what our house looks like, is not sold on the idea of a metal bed frame like this. He says it looks like a hospital or prison bed, which, OK I see what you mean but come on! They don’t have to look like a creepy 1950’s hospital, right?

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Option #3
After considering an upholstered bed frame again (I had originally ruled this out because I thought they’d be too expensive), I came up with a mood board similar to what you see below. I am not positive, but I think this might be our winner winner chicken dinner.

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I already have a beautiful, antique gold mirror and painting that I cannot wait to hang above our dresser. Other than that, I am still wide open in the design field! Here’s a list of things I have to decide on or get in the next several weeks:

  • new rug (thinking jute or natural fiber, but oooohh some orientals are so pretty!)

  • bed frame (buy? I’ve actually seem some pretty affordable options. DIY? Is it really worth my time and money? Help!)

  • the perfect lamps

  • bamboo shades or Roman shades

And here’s a list of things I can’t obsessively search online but must get up off my toosh and DO:

  • finish sorting through my clothes

  • sort Brandon’s clothes

  • demo existing trim

  • paint door

  • paint closet doors or decide on curtain

  • install, patch, caulk, and paint new trim

Wish me all the luck!

ONE ROOM CHALLENGE: Week 1 (here we go again)

What’s up, blog! It has been a MINUTE. A minute full of family vacation and reunions and weddings and birthday parties and international travel, but a minute nonetheless. I’m so excited to be in a place where I feel like I can devote more time to my blog, and what better way to get back on the horse then a challenge with a 6-week deadline? That’s right, I am doing the One Room Challenge again! If you are not familiar, the ORC is an online whirlwind in which bloggers and instagrammers take one room to completely transform in six weeks, and of course document the whole thing. I first participated this past spring and you can see my final reveal post here.

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When I brought up the subject of doing the ORC again, Brandon gave me quite the look. As in, have you forgotten all the pain and stress we went though, night and day, just a few short months ago? Not being a mother, I am the least qualified person to make this comparison, but…I hear childbirth is similar. You either forget, or you love the finished product enough to do it again. Or so I’m told. But to be honest Brandon is a total sport and is more than willing to help me whip this room into shape.

An added challenge this time around will definitely be our budget. Now that’s not to say we weren’t thrifty during the last round, but we returned from a totally magical and wonderful and expensive trip to Ireland just this week. So I am personally challenging myself to do this as cheaply as possible.

The room I’ve chosen to make over might seem like an easy choice - not a kitchen, bathroom, no walls coming down. To be honest it’s pretty much just a revamp. But with 6 weeks and a starving artist type of budget, I think I will have my hands full. Let’s see our how our bedroom looks currently. If you’ve read this post, you’ve already seen the first photo. This was taken around Christmas time last year, when the room was a bit tidier. I’m putting my best foot forward here.

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I put approximately 0% effort into this room since moving into our house almost a year ago (!) which is a total shame. Our bedroom should be a relaxing, calming, and pretty space for us to enjoy. Honestly we do all our relaxing in the finished living room because this room just isn’t that pleasant. In an effort to right this wrong, let’s get into all the changes I’m hoping to make:

  • CURTAINS. For the love of donuts, get rid of the bed sheet tacked into your window frames! I am so ashamed that the privacy bed sheet is still in place after throwing it up there the first night we spent in this house. I am still unsure if I want to get woven bamboo blinds, or try to make Roman shades for the windows. The afternoon light shines so prettily in here and I want to be able to take advantage of that. And hey, maybe even be able to keep a plant or two alive in there!

  • BEDDING. While I sort of like our current duvet, I do not love it. In addition, I have come to the conclusion that white sheets, while sworn by by many bloggers on the internets, might not be for us. Not to be gross or nothin’ but YA’LL. I need something with a little pattern to be a little more forgiving of dirt, yellowing, and brownie crumbs.

  • DRESSERS/FURNITURE. All of our bedroom furniture was purchased either right before or right after we got married three years ago. They weren’t impulse buys, but they were necessity buys. Meaning we needed something so we bought the first good option that came along. Now I don’t think we’re going to be spending the money to replace a lot of furniture, so I am going to try and see what changing the knobs does for the looks of the dressers and night stands. I also would like to get a new rug and lamps, so hopefully the people of Facebook Marketplace want to buy mine!

  • TRIM. As with every other room in our house, we’re replacing the current cheap-o trim. This isn’t a necessarily hard task, but its one I need help with and does take time.

  • CEILING FAN. I am team She Cute but I think most others who see our room would be team Take It Down. Maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten used to it or maybe it actually can be cute!

  • ORGANIZING/PURGING. All you have to do is look at the photo of the closet (woof!) to know what I mean. I’d love to get rid of the tall dresser and store our clothes in just the short wide one, but that will require some serious cleaning out.

  • GENERAL DECOR/EVERYTHING. Self explanatory (she says as she elaborates on this point) but as I said before, I put no effort into making this room nice. It is time for nice up in here. Art and frames on the wall, a vase, a nice throw pillow or two. You know, NICE.

Well that’s not even a proper to do list, but it’s a start! Even though I know how much hard work this challenge requires, I am so excited to get started. Part of the reason I chose our bedroom to use for this was because I truly, finally have a vision for this room. I have so many ideas, and finally an excuse to execute them. Wish me luck.

10x10 Recap

I am the sucker that falls for every challenge that comes along, but this is one I'm really glad I did! The #Summer10x10 is officially done! I shared more about it in this post, but my attraction to the 10x10 (created by Lee) is the idea of re-imagining what you already have. I am not looking for a whole new wardrobe, but rather to learn contentment and get new ideas for how to wear the clothes I already have. So, wanna see how I wore 10 articles of clothing over 10 days to make 10 different outfits? Just keep swimming. And I'm not even going to apologize for the awkwardness of these photos. At this point, I'm just glad I got pictures of each outfit. Thanks self timer!

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Day 1: Saturday
- Song of the day: "I Got A Car" - George Strait
- You've seen this outfit before here, but this was my first official 10x10 outfit. Loved wearing this, loved how I felt it this, and that's a great feeling to have. Also, can this be every Saturday night? Dinner and coffee in the city? Great!
 

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Day 2: Sunday
- Song of the day: "New Wine" - Hillsong
- Sunday was pretty busy for me. Church, then home for a little bit, then preparing some food to take to our 5-year class reunion at a park. The most cliche line of class reunions? "How can it be 5 years already?" But in all honesty, how can it? So glad and so blessed that my high school friends have turned into some of my best friends. Oh, and into my husband as well. That's a big one.
 

Day 3: Monday
- Song of the day: "Sky Full of Song" - Florence and the Machine. When you have an album on a continuous loop, you know it's a good one. I CANNOT say enough good things about Florence, and particularly the new album High As Hope. I think it's my soul music.
- Monday actually gives you two looks - a 10x10 bonus! The left side is my outfit as I wore it for most of the day at work. I was really pleased with this look, as I felt pulled-together but still cute. But it felt too dressy and too uncomfortable for Brandon's softball game that evening. I really wanted to change, but made myself at least stay within the 10 pieces of the challenge. I'm actually glad I stuck to it because I really like the casual outfit as well! All it took was un-tucking the shirt, changing into sneakers, and taking my hair down and braiding it. 

 

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Day 4: Tuesday
- Song of the day: "I Said Hi" - Amy Shark. In need of a good little bop? Look no further.
- Tuesday was pretty chill. This was almost my work outfit, as I switched out this skirt for another one that was a bit longer and more appropriate. We didn't have big plans in the evening, so in a way it's a wasted outfit. But at least I looked cute for cooking dinner! 
 

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Day 5: Thursday
- Song of the day: "Don't Let it Get You Down" - Johnnyswim. Everything about this song is perfect. 
- Yes, I took a break on Wednesday. I figured 10 total days are the goal, not 10 consecutive. But Thursday was just another day, another work outfit. This one felt cool and cute. Nothing special or interesting (aside from parting my hair differently, yes I have a license to walk on the wild side) but still a passing grade in my book. 

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Day 6: Friday
- Song of the day: "Silhouettes" - Colony House
- This outfit was one I've been wanting to try, the whole dress-as-as-shirt thing. I really like this gray t-shirt dress, but I haven't worn it as often as I thought I would. I think this is due to the dress not fitting quite right on me. Since it's a little big in places, I don't feel pulled together when I wear it but rather messy. So tucking it into my skirt gave it a better shape. This outfit felt good and actually flattering!
 

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Day 7: Saturday
- Song of the day: "Pretty Shining People" - George Ezra. Although if we're being honest, the song of the day should be "The Night Circus" book by Erin Morgenstern. I started this audio book on Saturday and listened to it all day long! I still haven't finished it yet, but I can't wait to road trip this weekend and get back into it. 
- This outfit was only worn for a few hours, as most of the day was spent painting and working on house projects. But Brandon and I went out to eat with his parents that evening, and this look was perfect. Or, it would have been perfect if my skirt had been a size larger. Pad Thai and sushi, oh my. You can get in my belly anytime darlings. 
 

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Day 8: Sunday
- Song of the day: "Till I Found You" - Phil Wickham
- Sunday was church, lunch with friends, and an family evening at my parent's house. A busy day, but I'm glad I got to finally fit this shirt into the 10x10. It actually is a flattering shirt to wear, and made me wonder why don't I wear it more often? Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering if I actually wore my jacket or just carried it around...I definitely carried it around. The air conditioning was broken at church so needless to say I wanted nothing to do with an extra layer. My heat tolerance is at about a 0 out of 10, so I'm just thankful we all survived. Count your blessings, kids.

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Day 9: Tuesday (my iced coffee is full of secrets and my kitten wants to be in every photo)
- Song of the day: "Waking Up Slow" - Gabrielle Aplin (the piano version...ugh, so good.)
- Yes, took another skip day on Monday. But on Tuesday I knew I was almost done, and got energized all over again! I knew I'd like this because of how much I loved my first 10x10 outfit which was just a variation of this. This felt cute enough for work or going out and reminded me how good a plain old ponytail can feel. 

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Day 10: Wednesday
Song of the day: "Follow Your Fire" - Kodaline
Aaaaand, we're done! Happy last day outfit. This honestly was not my favorite look, but they can't all be winners, right? 

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My goal for this #Summer10x10 was to find a new appreciation for my clothes. Sure, I'm always tempted to buy new things, try a new style, and that's all well and good. But lately, one thing I have been reminding myself of is, "sure, but this won't make you happy." 
I was having a rough morning this week, and told myself I could stop at Starbucks on the way to work. But immediately after the thought came to me: yeah, you can stop at Starbucks. Great. But a coffee won't make you happy and a coffee won't change your attitude. So simple, right? But it rings true and was so powerful for me. And if it's true for coffee, it's true for clothes, true for boyfriends, and true for anything, really. I want my attitude and my joy to be grounded and secure; not based on insignificant things like the newest shoes. I really do think this somewhat silly clothing challenge helped drive this point home for me. And for that reason alone, I'm glad I did it. But hey, I also learned that a dress can be a shirt and you can wear black sandals with literally anything! Cheers, ladies!

I'm Doing the 10x10 Challenge!

While I'm no strict minimalist by any means, I do love the mindsets of less is more and quality over quantity. You can blame it on moving, or just on growing up, but either way it's appealing. Combine my growing interest in paring down with my love of a good challenge (I'm looking at you, One Room Challenge and Whole30) and you've got yourself a perfect candidate for the #Summer10x10 Challenge! The general gist is pretty simple - using 10 pieces of clothing, create 10 different outfits, over a 10-day period. 

You can click through to Lee's (the OG creator of the 10x10!) or Caroline's (if you've heard of "capsule wardrobe" it's probably because of her) blog for more details and the heart behind the challenge. I am drawn to this precisely because it's so simple. Surely I can make 10 different outfits, right? 

Another reason I want to join in is because contentment is something I want to cultivate more of in my heart and in my life. It seems like a shallow place to start, but I trust that learning to be content in my wardrobe will be a stepping stone to being content in other areas. That's not to say I'm not buying any new clothes, in fact I have my eye on a certain black t-shirt dress right now, but I don't want to be controlled by my closet. Or by what fancy ladies on Instagram are wearing. You do you, and I will do me. Even if "doing me" is wearing years-old clothes.

I'll try to post daily on Instagram, and at the end of the 10 days I will write a big blog post with all my outfits and how I liked it! Oh, and another fun thing - every day gets an outfit and a Song of the Day. So with that, let's get into the goods! I tried to pick a variety of clothes, because even though my personal style is more casual, I wanted to have options to wear to work and to church. Although, I am allowing myself to make swaps as needed to make the outfits more work-friendly. Here are my clothing picks:

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Two pairs of shoes: white Converse sneaker. Old black sandals.
Three skirts: black pencil. Denim 90's style. Olive green button up.
One jacket: my beloved denim jacket from Gap.
One dress: Swing gray t-shirt dress
Three shirts: White cropped shirt with gold details and buttons. Black and white striped boxy shirt. Cream and gray speckled long shirt. 

I recently bought both the speckled shirt and the denim skirt, and while I am IN LOVE with the skirt, I haven't decided if I will keep or return the shirt. I love the look but I'm not sure I love how it fits me. If I do decide to return it, I will just swap that piece for another black and white striped shirt. Other than those two items, most of these clothes have been in my closet for over a year. 

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Today, Saturday, is my first official day of the challenge. My first outfit is the one I envisioned right away when I saw these clothes together - black boxy shirt, tucked into my new favorite skirt. I added the Converse sneakers because they felt a little more effortless-cool-girl than the sandals. I actually didn't wear this outfit much today (besides trying it on in the morning and snapping the picture you see below) because my Saturday was spent running, cleaning, and working on house projects. However, once all our work was done, Brandon and I decided to treat ourselves for being responsible homeowners by going out for supper in the city. We had mediocre food at an amazing location - Tellus360, which is the hippest rooftop spot I've ever been to. Also the only rooftop spot, but no matter. Anyway, I felt fun and confident in this outfit, which is such a good feeling. When I saw myself in the mirror, I reminded myself of a teenager who's very into the whole 90's trend. But because I loved each article of clothing on my body, I didn't feel like I was trying too hard. I just felt like myself. 

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Outfit rating: 10/10! Felt good and would wear again
Song of the day: "I Got A Car" by George Strait. Not even a favorite song or anything, just one my husband had on repeat all day as we worked around the house. So now it has happy memories attached to it.

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And here is my first outfit, out in the wild with a frozen coffee and a happy girl. See you all in 10 days! Wish me luck!
 

Introducing Josephine Sparkles Schlabach

As I started typing this post, the snarky side of me said, are you really going to do an entire blog post about a kitty? Once you go cat-lady there’s no going back!  But then the other, softer part of me gently picked up Side A, scratched her chin and stroked her soft little ears until she started purring. And that kind of made the decision for me. 

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Meet Josephine Sparkles Schlabach! Also known as Josie, Jose, Ki'y Cat, and Girlie-Girl. 

I have been an animal-lover my whole life, with a special fondness (OK obsession, whatevs) for horses. After I got married, I knew a horse wasn’t the most practical first pet so that dream is on the shelf for now. 
But don’t worry, I take it off and dust it every now and then. Someday we’ll have our little ranch with horses.
We always had a cat growing up, and I wanted one of my own so badly. This was only bolstered by my amazing brothers in law. Both of my sister's husbands got a kitten for their wives as a gift during their early years of marriage. I don’t like to say this too much, but I CAN’T EVEN WITH THAT CUTENESS.  

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I’ve been trying to convince Brandon we needed a kitten but he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He’s a dog guy through and through and he just “didn’t see the point” with a cat. Unfortunately for my campaign, our first house was rental with a no-pet policy. So when we moved last year I told Brandon IT’S ON! Then a few weeks ago, in a sure sign of God’s favor, my good friend group-chatted Brandon and I with a picture of the sweetest stripey kitten face you’ve ever seen. "I think you guys should have him!" OK, Krista, good call. I think so too!

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Our little kitten was one from her parent’s cat’s litter (say that ten times fast) and he was actually a she. We picked up our Josie-Cat almost two weeks ago, and it's safe to say she’s settling in just fine. She was curious, but not friendly when we first brought her home, but now she is as tame as can be and so naughty! My curtains have countless small snags, and the poor fern has been assaulted since day 1. I totally get the pet-parent thing now! I feel like I melt at the cuteness and could pull my hair out in frustration all at the same time.

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Even with little pieces of shredded fern everywhere (not to mention that the litter box is my responsibility and mine alone) I couldn’t be happier to be a cat lady. Welcome to the fam, Josephine and welcome to the blog, girlfriend!

Before House Tour

Last month I posted about finishing our living and dining room for the One Room Challenge. It would have made more sense to write this post before all that, but sometimes things happen and you want to start a blog a realize the ORC starts the next day and you stay up until midnight to launch this blog and so on and so far. But ANYWAY, here I am with the “before” house tour photos! I get really excited looking at these because it makes me feel like we’re actually making progress with this house. Not that she wasn’t great in these before pictures...but I knew she could be better. I hope everyone's OK with me talking about my house with the female pronoun. If not, sorry mates.

Below, I'll share both the listing photos and the photos I took before we moved in. We settled on the house in October and moved in on the last day of November. In those few weeks, we did a LOT of work. I call it the Preliminary Reno or Phase 1 or The Beginning of the End or something unnecessarily dramatic like that. Since moving in, the progress has been at a much slower pace than the frantic, all-hands-on-deck attitude we had after settlement. It’s much more manageable now, though. I feel like a person who owns a home, instead of a person who is consumed with a home.

So let's start first with the layout of our house. It's a basic builder-grade rancher and I'm sure there are thousands like it, but I always love seeing how rooms flow together. It makes more sense, at least in my mind, to see how rooms relate to each other when I see the finished product.

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Here is the first room you see when you walk into the house - the combined living and dining room. You can see how it looks now here, but here is how she looked when we first toured the house:

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And here's how she looked after we officially got the keys. Can you believe all that furniture used to fit in here?

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And finally, here's how she looked right before we moved in. SO FRESH SO CLEAN. 

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The three main projects we tackled before moving in were redoing most of the flooring, painting almost EVERYTHING, and removing a half wall that divided the kitchen and dining room. In the picture below you can see the cabinets and half wall. It made the opening to the kitchen just a little bigger than a doorway! I am no Joanna Gaines (HA as if) and I don't always think no walls = better walls, but in this case I think it was for the best. I can only imagine how tight it would feel had we not taken this out.

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This picture isn't from the same angle, but you get the general drift.

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As you can see, there was carpet in this room, and this continued down the hallway and into one of the bedrooms. We pulled up the carpet in the bedroom and were pleased to see hardwood, but to our (unpleasant) surprise, there was none underneath the hallway and living room carpet. Since the carpet was in pretty rough shape, our two options were to either A) replace the carpet or B) rip out the carpet, lay new hardwood where it lacked, and sand and re-stain the two bedrooms to match the new floors. It felt like a big decision, but we decided to go with what we really wanted - hardwoods forever! Brandon hired his friend to do the job and even though it was a whopper of a process, we are so glad we did this. Zero regrets.

The room below is the first and smallest of the bedrooms off the hallway. We are using it as an office now, but here is how it was...

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Everything changed in this room. Drop ceiling, flourescent light, wall paneling & vinyl baseboards, and those very Reese's-style cabinets. Don't worry, we saved the cabinets. This very grainy photo below shows how the room looked with freshly patched and painted walls refinished floors. Since then, we've swapped out the light for a cute circular flush mount and add some of our old furniture. It's due for a little attention but all in good time!

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The middle and biggest room is what we call out master bedroom, but is it a master if there's no attached bathroom? Either way, it's somewhat cozy but not super cute. I want to start this room next! Can you imagine how nice it would be to have a bedroom you love and feel relaxed in?? I can and it's pretty amazing in my head.

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Here's from a slightly different angle. Instead of standing in the doorway looking in, in this picture I'm standing in the room looking to the doorway.

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And here she is before moving in. Like in the office (and every other room, actually) the trim still needs replaced. But the floors are finished and the walls are painted!

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Bonus picture: here is what the bedroom looks like now, or very close to it. This picture was taken around Christmas time, and not much has changed since then. Except there might be more clothes piled on the floor. Face-palm.

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The third and final bedroom will eventually be a guest room or maybe a nursery! Depending what comes first - overnight guests or a baby. Even chances if you ask me. 

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YUP. It really was that green! Believe it or not, we painted it green again. But this time it's a nice light gray-green. This picture shows how it looks on move-in day and how it still looks today. Again, blinds and trim and maybe replacing the ceiling fan are still on the ol' to do list.

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The end of the hallway brings us to the bathroom. Now, let me just say it feels really weird for me to put pictures of my bathroom on the internet. Let's move quickly, shall we?

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We have a LOT going on here. Sea foam green sink, toilet, and tub, giant medicine cabinet, and tiled counter top. So far we have replaced the toilet and painted the baby blue walls. This is a room we would love to gut and re-do completely, but we're not sure when or how much reno we will do here. For now, it's decent.

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This picture isn't up to date, as the toilet is still lil' greeny, but you can use your imagination for that one.

And finally, the last stop on our house tour train ride is the kitchen. This space is a little tricky for me. We really haven’t done that much to it, but simply removing the top cabinet and moving the bottom cabinet made quite a difference! I now use this bottom cabinet pushed into the corner as an island, which is much welcomed for the storage and counter space. When we first viewed the house, we immediately started talking about our dreams of re-doing the kitchen entirely. I would love to replace the oven and cook top with one range unit, replace the counter tops, and upgrade the fridge, just to name a few. Because of that, we didn’t do anything to the kitchen before moving it, not even paint! We thought it would make sense to hold off on eveyrhing until we had a plan for renovation. Now that we’ve lived here for 6 months or so though, it is clear to us just how big of a project this might be! Eventually we will have to do someting here, whether it’s a small update (paint, adding shelves, painting cabinets?) or a total renovation. Time (and cash monies) will tell.

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The kitchen looks very similar today, if maybe a bit more organized. Go me. 

The final picture I will leave you with is one we took the night of settlement. Two slightly nervous (or in my case, terrified) 22 year old homeowners. We were so excited going to settlement, but after it was all over and we walked around an empty house - our empty house - we slowly felt more and more mellow and subdued. We were realizing just how much work we had to do, and what a ride we were in for. I remember feeling scared! What did we just do?

But now, not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the blessing that our home is. It is not perfect, it's not even 20% finished! But it is ours, and it is a place to relax, refresh, and a place to open to others. That's the bottom line, ya'll. We just wanna fix up our home, and have people over for dinner. What a good, good life. 

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