Category Archives: Design

Calm, Cheerful & Creative | Nursery Inspiration


Once I decided on the three words that would describe Denning Beta’s nursery, I set to work finding the items that would fill the space and help create a calm, cheerful and creative space. Of course, this room has got to work for us as well, meaning it needs storage for all of the baby things we have already started accumulating, a place for the baby to sleep and be changed, a place for us to sit and yes, a place to throw those dirty diapers.

I think we are off to a good start and I am increasingly confident that designing a room from scratch won’t break the bank. For all of the big furniture pieces (dresser, crib and rocking chair), we are using items that have been in the family. Thanks to some paint and handyman skills, they will be updated to suit our style and will be perfect for the nursery. For most of the decorations in the room, those will be hand-made to go along with the “creative” feeling of the room. My mom (Denning Beta’s Oma) is sewing a beautiful quilt for the crib that I cannot wait to share with you and I am hoping to knit the stuffed animals for the shelves, create the mobile and DIY some of the artwork. And for everything else there is Ikea, Target and the Land of Nod!

My goal is to have the room mostly put together in the next few weeks so that I can enjoy (or at least relax) those last few weeks of pregnancy before our life is turned upside down. And if that doesn’t happen, well, I doubt Denning Beta will hold it against me!

Product Sources: Cart // Baskets // Honeycomb Shelves // Caterpillar Art // Zebra Art // Pouf // Sheepskin


A Nursery in 3 Words

We are now less than 9 weeks away from bringing a baby into our home and I’m feeling the time crunch. I’ve been focusing a lot of time and energy on our house lately. It could be the “nesting” part of pregnancy or it could just be that I want our house to feel inviting so that we can welcome friends and family after the birth to visit with us. Regardless, looking at every room and thinking through all of the options and lists of projects is overwhelming. It is time to focus. So I hope you don’t mind that over the next few weeks I’m going to be using the blog as an outlet for all of my ideas and I welcome your thoughts, feedback or just plain old encouragement! First up, the nursery.

This is really the first room, maybe ever, where I will be starting from scratch in terms of furniture, decor, the whole lot. On one hand it seems lot a lot to tackle, but on the other it’s kind of nice to be starting fresh rather than always trying to fit what you already have into a space regardless of whether or not it actually works. I could spend months looking for inspiration and browsing nursery pinterest boards, but see above… I have 9 weeks or less so it is decision time.

I found this great article a couple of months ago that I saved to come back to when I was ready to do some serious decorating in the house. I love the idea that a room should ultimately be about you and how you want to feel when in that room. It makes perfect sense! (Also, Emily Henderson follows the same rules with clients and herself. What more do you need?) So I’m going to give it a try with the nursery and if the formula works here, I’ll apply it to every room that I want to re-decorate.

The three things I would like to feel when I walk into Denning Beta’s nursery are:

Calm, Cheerful, Creative

Now that I have my 3 words to guide me, I next moved to gathering images of nurseries that embody one or more of my words in hopes that I could identify some themes to use in my own mood board (coming soon).

I definitely want the room to be a place where we can relax with the baby and not feel anxious or stressed about everything else. I want to enjoy the time I get to spend with him or her and I want time to pass without me being aware of it.

Calm-Nursery-MontageOn the flip-side, I want it to bring out the kid in me. I want to be able to laugh and smile and play with our kid and I want the room to be a cheerful place in which we can do that.

Cheerful-Nursery-MontageAnd lastly, I hope that the room will inspire creativity. I want to DIY and craft a lot of the decor to encourage an environment where my son or daughter can create, be imaginative and appreciate ideas.

Creative-Nursery-MontageNow I just need to find the actual pieces that will help me create a calm, cheerful and creative nursery. Wish me luck!

Happy Home-iversary to Us!

Happy-Home-IversaryCan you believe this picture was taken 1 year ago today?? We officially closed on our first house April 30, 2013. Time sure flies when you’re busy learning how to be a homeowner.

I was feeling nostalgic this week thinking back over the last year and thought it might be fun to dig up the pictures we took of the house during our inspection right before closing and compare them to the house as it is today. Ready for a tour? Follow me…


You could tell this room wasn’t really utilized much by the previous owner because of its lack of furniture, but for us this room was key because we needed an extra living space that could house our piano!


So far we have brightened the room with a lighter paint color, added some furniture (those chairs need to be re-done) and hung curtains. We still need to put more art on the walls and a few other things that will make the space even better, but it’s a good start.


This is a small space for a living room, but with the multiple couches and dark colors it definitely felt smaller than necessary.

Living-Room-Before-1We painted over the dark colors making the room feel instantly brighter and we have less furniture lining the walls. We have big plans for this room though as it’s not really meeting our needs, but that’s the great thing about living here for a year already – we are learning what we want.



The bump-out in this room adds a lot of light and makes for a cozy corner that was being underutilized before.

Living-Room-2-BeforeWe have turned it into a little reading corner with that amazing plant we inherited from a friend. Again, big plans for this corner in terms of furniture upgrades as well as some window treatments, but for now, it’s a spot that we enjoy (cats included).

Living-Room-After-2DINING ROOM

In terms of layout, we really didn’t change too much. Again, with the smaller rooms in these old houses, there’s not a ton of flexibility, but this room serves its purpose well and is right off the kitchen for easy serving.

Dining-Room-Before-1Again, we painted over the darker colors and that strange red accent wall, making the room feel instantly brighter and cleaner. We invested in a new dining room set so we can seat up to 8 if needed for meals like Thanksgiving!



Dining-Room-Before-2We still have more to do, but it’s mostly in the way of details like art, light fixtures and window treatments.

Dining-Room-After-2HALF BATHROOM

This had recently been finished before we moved in so not much work was needed. All we’ve done so far is brighten it up with a lighter color of paint. Next up will be something on the walls. We love having a half bathroom on the first floor for guests!



I think we have done absolutely nothing to this room, other than accidentally rip out the blinds so now there is no window covering. Of course if we had all the money in the world we would upgrade to stainless steel appliances, paint the walls a brighter, less pea green color and re-do the back-splash which to me is much too masculine and dark, but we can’t complain. There are plenty of cabinets, plenty of counter space and everything is in good working order. But when we do get around to making some improvements, first on the list will be replacing that cook top with the real deal… a gas stove.


Now we’re on to the 2nd floor. This room gets the best light and because it’s at the front of the house, we knew it would be perfect for an office.

Office-Before-1We’ve made gradual changes throughout the last year and we still have more to do, but for starters we painted the walls a light gray, took out the “built-in” shelves along the right side to open up the room and purchased 2 new desks.


Office-Before-2That wall shelf is a work-in-progress that I am happy to report is back on the to-do list. The aquarium had stained a lot of the paint and the shelves were bowing considerably, so we ripped them out completely and are starting over. Someday, if we can figure out how to add a master closet, Phil will be able to move his clothes out of the office closet and into our bedroom.


This used to be a kids’ room, but the size and placement of the room, we thought, were better suited for our bedroom.

Master-Bed-BeforeI hesitate to call it a master because there’s no real closet or bathroom attached to it, but it works for us. All we’ve really done in here is bring in our furniture. I hope to paint someday and add some other touches that will make it feel more like a retreat.


This has become a storage room for us at this point, but this space will probably eventually be reconfigured as we reconfigure the entire second floor to eliminate the shot-gun layout of having to walk through every room because there are no hallways.


This was recently re-done just like the half-bathroom. It’s nothing huge or fancy, but the shower is great and there’s a decent amount of light. All we’ve done is paint it a lighter color and install a ceiling fan.

Full-BathroomGUEST BEDROOM soon to be NURSERY

This used to be the master bedroom, but once you put a queen size bed in the room, there’s not much room for anything else. It’s a quiet room though with easy access from the back staircase so for the last year we have been using it, pretty much as is, as our guest room. (excuse the tubs – we’re about to start the nursery prep.)


Hopefully next year when we look back at our progress as compared with today, this room will have seen the most change because there will be a baby in here! We already have the paint picked out and are just waiting on the mud to dry before we get started. Only a few months to go.

Nursery-Before-1Nursery-After-1There you have it…a full house tour with before and afters. Part of me looks at our current pictures and only sees everything that I haven’t gotten to yet. But then I have to remind myself that we’ve made lots of improvements that you can’t see and the improvements that you can see have been good choices. I know the house will evolve over time as we have time, money and a vision. I only hope we can look back at these pictures each year and continue to see how far we’ve come.

It’s been a year for learning, but I’m so glad to be a homeowner. It was the right decision for us. I can’t wait to see our house grow and change just as our family will.

p.s. I’ll be continuing with the home-iversary theme for the next week providing other tips and stats from our first year as homeowners. Check back!

Dining Room Decisions

We’ve gone back and forth shifting our focus from living room to dining room trying to prioritize projects. Right now, after hosting a dinner recently where we struggled to fit complete place settings at each seat, we are focused once again on the dining room. I have all these ideas bouncing around in my head and I thought it would help to share some of them with you. First up – the front-runner for a new dining table.

Norden-Ikea-TableSome of you are probably thinking, “you just bought a grown-up house, why would you furnish it with Ikea?”. That’s a fair question, and one to which I think I have a pretty good answer. But first, to give you some context, here is what we’re hoping the table will look like when it’s not standing stark naked all by itself:

Norden-3-WaysNot too bad, right?  I’ve looked at a lot of tables, some really nice tables at that, and while I would love to drop a few grand on a new dining room set, there were several factors, budget included, that have tipped the scale in favor of the Norden. For example…

  • A lot of the designer-looking tables come in a set size. We want to be able to seat 8 at our new table, but day-to-day when it’s just the two of us in our smallish dining room, we want the option to create a smaller table and expand it as we need to. The Norden table is expandable.
  • Then there’s this idea that we want to have kids (scary right?). I’m sure my children will be angels, but I can just picture the first time milk is spilled or god forbid the table is used as drawing paper. The situation will involve far fewer tears if the table isn’t the most expensive piece of furniture we own.
  • Lastly, we already have the more compact version of the Norden table, purchased for our “compact” apartment in New Orleans. It’s held up very well and we like the look of the simplistic, natural wood. This table can complement what we already have.

Are we all on the same page now? Good, because next up are the chairs. We like the Ikea table, but I’m not sure we want all matching Ikea chairs too. No need to look like the room fell out of their catalog. So I’m toying with the idea of finding some assorted second-hand chairs and painting/recovering them to be a consistent color-theme. Maybe something like this…

Assorted-ChairsWhat do you think? There will be many more decisions to make in the room, the most immediate being paint color (I know – not my strong suit), followed by the rug, overhead lighting, art and accessory furniture, but I have to keep reminding myself to take it step by step, decision by decision. As I wrap up this post, I think I can check one decision off the list already – the table.

Images via: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Make Your Work Space Your Own

When I started my current job almost a year ago, one of the many changes I had to adjust to was an open-office environment. If you’ve never been in an open-office, it’s looks just like it sounds. No walls, no cubicles, just desks and chairs arranged in various groupings throughout the entire floor plan. At my previous job, I had an actual office – a bookshelf, a bulletin board and a door – the exact opposite! I’ve gotten used to my new work environment and actually don’t mind it. I have to say the nearly paperless office is really kind of nice. It means I don’t need extra storage space, file folders and a physical inbox taking up space on my desk. In fact, there’s not much that does take up space on my desk other than a computer (and its accessories) and my phone.

But the one thing that is missing from my new space is personality. I don’t have anything at my desk that tells my colleagues who I am. So today I’ve put together a round-up of ideas for how you might customize or personalize a work space when all you have is a desk.


1. Day Designer | 2. Phone Dock | 3. Live What You Love | 4. Fresh Flowers | 5. Mouse pad |6. Mug | 7. Stapler

  • Several of these items are already at my desk, but they are the standard-issue “office” versions like a solid color mouse pad, corporate mug, and black stapler. Why not jazz it up and pick items that actually suit your taste?
  • Most people automatically think to bring in a family photograph to display, but an inspiring quote in a fun letterpress print could be a nice addition.
  • I check my cell phone regularly throughout the day and it would be so much easier if it were propped up where I could view it and get a charge at the same time. Enter Jonathan Adler’s phone dock.
  • And the flowers? Well that’s just a nice way to brighten the day. Maybe it’s a treat you give yourself every now and then.

As soon as I get a few of these items arranged on my desk, I’ll be sure to share a pic on instagram. Am I missing anything? How do you personalize your space at work?

Washi What?

If you’ve visited pinterest lately or spent time reading any DIY or lifestyle blogs, you’ve probably seen the rolls and rolls of beautifully colored tape scattered throughout.  It’s called washi tape and it originates from Japan.  You could describe it as… stylish masking tape?  What will they think of next.

Washi tape, like so many of my current obsessions, has been added to my wish list in hopes that if I’m extra good this year…I can get a few rolls for myself some washi tape!   So when my husband asked (as he always does when I am about to bring another item into our limited-storage-apartment), “But what do you use it for?”, I was surprised to find that I couldn’t come up with an answer to validate my wish.

Back to pinterest I went.  And I was not disappointed…


phone | frames | planner | gifts | flags | clips | playroom | card

Washi tape can be used to add color to a phone cover or computer keyboard, to decorate gift cards and wrapping paper, to frame photos and create a (removable) play room…the options are endless.

In what other ways are you using washi tape?  I will gladly accept a card decorated with washi tape.  Just let me know if you need my address!

Framing Cincinnati

This print, which WE LOVE, is one of those surprise gifts  where you open with anticipation, not recognizing the wrapping, and as soon as it’s uncovered you have to wonder how the gift-giver could have hit the nail so right on the head.   Thanks to our cousin Molly and family, we are the proud owners of a Cincinnati neighborhood map by the talented duo over at These Are Things.

I forget how I originally came across this shop, but at the time they only offered a Columbus, Ohio neighborhoods map.  I reached out to them to see if they ever took requests and specifically asked about Cincinnati, to which they replied that it was definitely a city on their radar but that they had no plans to create a print in the near future.  I don’t know when they started producing Cincy, but I’m glad they did and I’m glad that Molly found it!

For such a great print, we decided that it was worth the investment to have it professionally framed.  There is a small frame shop not far from my work that came highly recommended to us.  The couple who runs the shop was extremely helpful in walking us through all of the options and decisions we would need to make in terms of type of frame, color of mat, number of mats, thickness of map, type of glass and all of this while keeping our budget in mind.

We picked it up last Saturday and are SO pleased with the results.  The aqua trim that is subtle enough but still helps to draw out the same color within the print and the simple white frame and mat play so well with the clean details of the map.  Now all that’s left is getting it up on the wall!

I would definitely recommend supporting a local frame shop over a larger craft store frame department.  We received great service at a reasonable price and also felt like we made a couple of friends!