Feature Friday: A Gender-Neutral Nursery & Girl Nursery E-Design


Whether you're expecting a baby boy or girl, this nursery design has you "covered" - literally, with fabric.  Although the room has a gender-neutral color scheme, it has a soft and romantic feel to it.  I love how fabric was used to soften and layer the room. It gives the room lots of texture, depth, and dimension, which is especially important since it is decorated in tonal colors.  Fabric also helps with sound absorption, which is great for napping babies.  The neutral color pallet is also calming.  Raising kids is no easy matter.  Anything to help promote rest and calmness helps!

The various patterns that were introduced in this space also caught my eye.  There are bold wide stripes on the walls (and repeated in the crib bedding), and a narrower chevron pattern on the floor rug.  The sophisticated chandelier would also cast a beautiful pattern throughout the room when lit.

Another aspect of this room that I love is that it could easily transition into a toddler, child, and teen room.  All you would have to do is remove the cribs and toys through the years!  Accent colors could also easily be injected into the room since the background is neutral.

Here's my latest e-design for a baby girl nursery.  It's soft, feminine, and a little sophisticated since mom would spend just as much time in the space.

Today's featured space is a nod to the "Labor Day" weekend!  Hope you have a good one! :)

Stepping it up out front...

You know how they say that curb appeal can help sell a home??  Well, our house would sit on the market for a very long time based on how our front exterior currently looks (not that we're selling).  A couple months after we moved in, we decided to tear up the landscaping in the front yard with the intent of redoing the hardscape and landscape.  Surprise, surprise... that got pushed down the priority totem pole after we finished the initial renovations (here, here, and here) .

Now here we are, a year later, with a front yard full of dirt and zero curb appeal.  I'm not exaggerating.  We have a small front yard, but it's a big eye sore.  Our super-understanding neighbors have dealt with the "ugly duckling" on the block for long enough.  It's time we step it up out front...  Our backyard is in need of major attention as well, but it's not visible unless you happen to be walking on the trail.  That project is further down the road...

Our home is a simple one-story traditional ranch.  We would love to turn the facade into a modern craftsman ranch one day.

Portico and black door
Stonework and landscaping
Drought-tolerant landscape
Mixed siding
{Above photos taken from Houzz}

Front exterior of our home:


We've had three estimates so far - all varying widely in cost.  We should go the contractor/landscape architect route (since we would like to alter the front profile of the house), but it's simply not realistic budget-wise at this point in time.  Instead, we decided to just replace all the worn brick with pavers, add stone to the exterior facade, and put in new landscaping.  The windows were all changed last year.

Driving up to a house with curb appeal is just as great as walking into a well-designed house - much like having beauty inside and out!  I cannot wait until the day that happens...

Simple Organizational Tips for the School Year

The internet is full of back-to-school ideas and tips.  Since school has already started for many, I decided to round up just a few very doable ideas that can still be adopted right away to help kids (and you) stay organized during the school year...

Create a system for kids to unload papers, like this one.  Include a "permission slips" or "for parents-from the teacher/school office" tab, and make sure you go through it daily.  Also try to go through the system monthly or quarterly to purge any clutter.

Keep school supplies stocked in your child's study area for homework time.

Make a weekly lunch menu with the help of your child. Kids are more likely to eat their lunches if they help plan the meals. It also makes grocery shopping easier.  Last year, I started menu planning our dinners on a weekly basis.  I was way more efficient when doing groceries, and our weeknights ran more smoothly!  One less thing to think about on busy nights.  And along the lines of school lunches, I enjoyed this article.

Every Sunday, have your kids select their school outfits for the week, and hang them in an organized system in their closets.  This will minimize the daily "getting ready" time, especially if you happen to have older school-aged kids who care about making a fashion statement. :)  It can also help you be mindful of any special "dress up" days during the week.  Since my kids are no longer in uniforms (which I miss), a similar system is being adopted in our home this school year.  I also have a basket for paired-up socks, so my boys and I can make sure there is always a clean stash. :)

I especially focused on the last two ideas (lunches and outfit organization).  This will hopefully get us out the door on time every day with less frenzy!

Final Tips:  Keep a sweatshirt and umbrella in your kids' backpacks for unplanned weather changes, especially as winter nears.  Have your kids place their backpacks by the door (or in a designated spot) every night so it is never misplaced.

Design Roundup: Top 3 Favorite Things

Welcome to the second edition of "Top 3 Favorite Things", a blog series where I share my top three favorite design-related items at a point in time.  In case you missed it, you can click here for the last edition.

#1 Layered Window Treatments

Window treatments are like fashion accessories.  They add the finishing touches to complete a look.  Window treatments are not only for aesthetics, but they are also practical.  They can filter light, provide insulation, and give privacy as needed.  Like fashion, layering window treatments can give a room more texture, depth, dimension, and interest.

3 Day Blinds

SAS Interiors

Decor View

Tips:  For windows that are encased with beautiful molding, use inside-mounted shades or blinds so that the molding is still in view.  If possible, hang window panels higher and wider than the window as well.  To add visual height, hang window treatments close to the ceiling.  To visually connect different-sized windows within a space, treat them as one and hang curtains at the same height throughout.  Always go with floor-length treatments if working with draperies, too!

#2 Gallery Walls


Gallery walls are a great way to add a focal point to any space.  They are a wonderful tool for gathering and sharing favorite photos or art pieces.  In short, groupings are a very effective way to organize visual objects and make a design statement.

Pottery Barn


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One of my favorite ways to decorate around a television is to incorporate it into a gallery wall.

Lonny Magazine

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Tips: Asymmetrical arrangements are less formal and can be more easily added to over time.  Balance and scale are key components to all wall groupings.  Use restraint to prevent a cluttered look.  Sometimes less is more.

#3 Wallpaper

The mention of wallpaper often gets a mixed reaction.  Some people can't seem to get beyond the image of dated floral wallpaper.  Admittedly, I am sometimes a bit hesitant to use wallpaper because it seems so "permanent".  What if I don't like it after I install it??  As I previously wrote about, I found this product that helps solve the "permanency" issue.  It's also perfect for more "finicky" users (like myself) who may want to change up a look more often than not!  Emily Clark also featured this company for removable wall decals and vinyl wall art.

Original source unknown

What I'm loving about wallpaper these days is all the modern and graphic options to choose from.  Wallpaper has come a long way!  There are also various textures, like grasscloth or imitation bead board, available on the market.


Quaker Rose

Original source unknown

Make a design statement in a powder room by installing interesting wallpaper.

Original source unknown

Create a focal point by papering just one wall.

Original source unknown

Dress up the back of closets or shelving units.


Install wallpaper on the ceiling to draw the eye up or to highlight architectural molding.

Original source unknown


Need art?  Frame a pretty wallpaper pattern!

Katy Elliott

Hope you found some design and decorating inspiration today.  Happy Monday!

Special Edition: Summer Breakin' 2014 {Our Annual Family Summer Vacation}

Today is the last Friday before school begins for my kiddos.  I have really enjoyed spending quality time with them this summer, while watching them be so carefree.

Rather than the usual "Feature Friday", I'm bringing you a special edition of my Summer Breakin' 2014 series.  My week 6 summer recap (yep, I'm way behind in summer recaps) is all about our annual family summer vacation!  Beware, it's a long post, but I'm letting the pictures do most of the "talking".

In July, we embarked on a road trip to the Eastern Sierra Mountains.  We spent six relaxing and rejuvenating days there.  So much exhilarating beauty to behold!

2014 Family Vacation Summer Destination:
Mammoth Lakes, California

We've been to Mammoth several times over the years, but this was our first summer visit.  It is SO beautiful there this time of year!  I was amazed by the amount of foreign (European) and out-of-state visitors traveling to the area.  I kept seeing cars with license plates from as far as Connecticut and Virginia, to Illinois, Washington, Oregon,  Idaho, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona!  We're so blessed that Mammoth is only a few hours drive from where we live!

The scenic mountain backdrop, lush greenery, and beautiful lakes are truly amazing - and the reason why so many of us escape to this picturesque setting!  I actually prefer Mammoth during the summer season.  You can actually see and experience the area since it's not snowed over!  I HIGHLY recommend it as a summer vacation spot.  I also recommend where we stayed.

Trip Highlights

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen some photos of what we did on vacation.  My husband and I have always been the "on the go" vacationer types - wanting to see and explore as many sights as possible.  We've adjusted our vacation style somewhat now that we have two kids in tow.  The boys enjoy sightseeing and activities as much as we do, but they also love to just swim and relax wherever we stay.  This vacation was the perfect balance of sightseeing/activities and relaxation.  Here are some highlights of our annual summer vacation:

Day 1

After we checked in at the resort, we headed
straight to Giovanni's for yummy pizza!
I don't know what the "face" is about, but he went from "grumpy" face to...
...all smiles in seconds!
My boys keeping busy while waiting for their food.
After dinner, we scoped out the resort grounds. There is a games area set up next to the pool.
They love this game!

Day 2

The kids went horseback riding. It's one of their favorite things to do on vacation.
We hiked, while the kids rode the horses to this scenic spot.
Ryan on his horse...
Lucas taking the reins on his horse...
Lucas had a delicious homemade milkshake after horseback riding...
...while Ryan missed out on the yummy treat!

Day 3

We reserved a boat, and the boys learned to fish for the very first time!
My boys fishing out on the lake while I snacked. :)
Daddy and Ryan fishing...
Lucas got a turn at "driving" the boat.
Ryan was in the driver's seat next!
We drove to a nearby lake and had lunch.
The kids are "rock climbing" here.  All boy.
The boys wanted to eat on the rocks, but didn't
want their picture taken (again). Ha!
After lunch, the kids wanted to do some more fishing... this time from land.
They caught a couple fish each!  We had fish for dinner that night. :)
After a full day of fishing, we ventured out
to all the nearby lakes. So beautiful!

Day 4

We relaxed on this morning at the resort. In the afternoon,
we did a little sightseeing. Here are the boys in front
of a real earthquake fault. Hands-on learning!
Seeing a real earthquake fault was a neat first-time experience for all of us!
Then, we headed to the Main Lodge and made the kids
take the obligatory snapshot with Wooly Mammoth.
Told you, they love this game...
Ryan made some great shots into the hole.
We also did the Mammoth Scenic Loop. So much natural beauty!
My happy campers...
We stopped at the Village on the way back, and the kids found more fun games.
They loved playing ping pong. They're big on games and sports!
A toast to a great day!
When heading back from my short night hike,
I saw/heard the gang welcoming me back!

Day 5

On our last full day in the mountains, we did a day trip to Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite Valley.  It's about a 45-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes.  So, so beautiful there!

Headed to Yosemite...
First stop, the main information center...
The kids stopped to read about what they were about to experience...
Partial view of snow-capped mountains from the base of the meadows.
Off we go on our hike through the meadows!
Leading the way...
My sweet boys...
Resting at the bridge...
Absolutely breathtaking!
God's blessings
The simple life...
The boys skipping rocks in nature's playground!
Fields a plenty...
They found walking sticks to help them hike the rest of the way!

On our way back from Yosemite, we made a pit stop at Mono Lake and June Lake. I was amazed by the number of vacationers tucked away in the area campgrounds!

Day 6

We visited Twin Lakes before we headed out of town.
You can see a glimpse of the waterfall in the background.

We stopped at a creek on the way back home. The boys wanted to do
some more fishing, but they settled for the "next time". :)

A trip to Mammoth requires a pit stop at Schat's Bakery! There's one in
Mammoth and Bishop. This is the original Bishop location.

The kids told us numerous times they wished they were still in Mammoth...
A sign of a fun and memorable family vacation! :)

These childhood moments with our kids are so precious.  They are literally growing up right in front of our eyes everyday.  We try to seize each day with them!  I'm so glad that we are able to expose them to the world, and give them new experiences to enjoy while growing up.  Thanks for making it to the end of this post.  Hope you have also shared some wonderful quality moments with your families this summer!