Life’s Designs: Small Homes

You should know by know that if my post is titled “Life’s Designs” that you’re getting something a bit more personal and a little crazy. I’m posting via my phone. Something I’ve never done before so excuse the mess. I’ve injured my back somehow and can’t leave the couch.
I have had one of those weeks. Emotional and chaotic and now painful. I really wanted to put a “For Sale” sign up and run away to a cabin in the woods to live. Life is soooo busy with teenagers and, of course, big kids come with bigger problems.
I ran into this article that was shared on a blog I follow. I swear I can’t remember which one. It just spoke volumes to me and even made me a bit homesick for NC and my small town. Sorry if the title offends.
Then my husband put on this documentary a few days later which really made me want to run away. It’s about one man’s experience building a tiny house. Awesome!  If you haven’t watched this you totally should.  I love the message it sends.  Society often judges us on how much you have or how big it is.  Really!?

This past Spring I found a home in California.  My husband and I always talk about moving there once the kids are gone.  This home was barely 600 sq. ft.  I really thought about what I would have to have to live there.  After going over the inventory of my home there were about 7 things I couldn’t live without.  It made me realize that all the other stuff doesn’t matter.  The beauty and simplicity of this home made me want to live a simpler life.

Here are  few pictures of the house that I can’t stop thinking about.

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I have fond memories of my hometown because my kids were small and things were simple.  My husband and I bought our first home there, which was an 1100 sq. ft. rancher.  I loved that house.  I remember cursing my small house in NC because it was so small.  We don’t have a huge house now, almost 2000 sq. ft.  We use every inch of it and I’m so grateful to have a home that fits us comfortably.  I always remember living in that small space where there was only one place to watch TV and one bathroom.  Now that was funny!  But those are the times that makes a family close, real close!  There was only one computer in the house and my husband and I didn’t even know what smartphones were.  Now it takes our 11 year old, who doesn’t have a phone, to say, “Why isn’t anyone talking?  Ohhh, you’re on your phones!”  Then you realize that times have certainly changed.  I want to take it back to when things were simpler.


Life’s Designs: Schizophrenic Designers

I really enjoyed in the  December’s Elle Décor magazine.  A few designers  were featured that suffer from design schizophrenia.  What!?  Well, let me clue you in on this disease.  Many designers suffer with this, myself included.  A designer can have one home that is so minimal and modern then have another home that is overstuffed and shabby chic.  How can this be so?  How can they be so different but loved just the same?  Which home represents that designer?  I would have to say both styles.  I often find myself too, conflicted when it comes to a commitment to one style. I like so many of them.  I suppose that’s why it’s good to just be eclectic.  You always have a little bit of everything.

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So 2014 is the year that I will begin to embrace this instead of trying to pin myself down to one style. Since I can only handle one mental illness per year and my depression has subsided, I suppose it’s time to explore the schizophrenic side of myself. My home, most definitely is an expression of what’s going on in my head. That can sometimes be really scary but awesomely creative. My family never knows exactly what they’re coming home to, Dr. Jekyll or Mrs. Hyde. I just figured that it’s pretty cool to keep things exciting, right? I will always be the girl who goes through crazy phases.  Right now, I feel like I’m back in my college days- wearing baby doll tunics and flowing shirts so I can cover that belly I’ve never been able to get rid of.  Fortunately for my family, I’m not standing on my head wearing a black leotard with the lights out and candles lit with Enya playing but my home does reflect a bit of a bohemian look.

In the new year I’m working my way to the 39 year old mark and I’m beginning to become more aware of my health and my husband’s, even though I declare here and now that I’m not his mother. So I got my husband a juicer for Christmas.  I never drank so many carrots in all my life.  It’s a good thing that health and fitness are the new middle age crisis because I can’t afford any sports cars. But with all the juicing comes a lot of left over pulp so a friend suggested that I compost. Back to those college days- I was a Nazi when it came to recycling. I know I drove some of my nine roommates crazy while we were trying to live a carefree life that summer at the beach. This is the first time that I ever noticed my creativity and frugalness when it came to interior design. That summer I covered the entire half bath with magazine pages. Yep- the entire room. Never needed to bring any reading materials to the bathroom. It was so very functional.

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In the new year I have committed to being more organized and I’ve made a goal to take care of business.  I’ve found myself paying kids for chores, making budgets and paying off credit cards.  I just went out the other day with a friend and found myself gloating over the fact that I didn’t purchase some home items on clearance that I wanted.  I’m finally finding some self control.  We’ll see how easy it is when spring arrives and I’m looking at pillows and shoes.  My two drugs of choice.

So here’s to 2014 and a new me and embracing my schizophrenic design styles that will be a great benefit to me, eventually.  After reading the December issue of Elle Décor it’s great to know that I’m not alone. Here are a few rooms with different elements in them that I just love.

mid century room  Mid century- I love the wood paneled wall and chair.

Kristen Buckingham livingroom  Bohemian – love the picture collage and the fresh flowers

industrial loft  Industrial- love the lighting and huge windows.

french country room  French country- love the tufted chaise

hollywood regency  Hollywood Regency- love the gold accents and ceiling

vintage  Vintage- love the fireplace insert, coffee table and bookcase.

The real trick- to combine all of the different styles into one room.  That’s called Eclectic!  Schizophrenia here I come!

Life’s Designs: Jack of all trades, Master of none

I just finished the worst semester of my Design education, so in an effort to make myself feel better….well, here I am.  Sometimes I tend to compare myself to other designers, which is not always a good thing, because I find myself feeling lost and confused as to what I’m doing as an Interior Designer.  True, these classmates push me to do better, unless my “all or nothing” attitude gets the best of me.  Yes, that’s what happened this semester.  After being completely embarrassed last night with the worst board I’ve ever done I’m trying to reflect on the past few months, take notes, and move on in an effort to redeem myself next semester.  This is easier said than done since I’m still trying to find my niche and confidence in this field.

On the flip side, I was totally engrossed in my own home projects this semester.  I revamped my family room downstairs and finished my teenage daughter’s bedroom.  I must say, I enjoy the real life projects so much more than the fake scenarios at school.  Here are a few pictures of my daughter’s room.  She loves it and that does make me so happy!


I created a nook for her bed with curtains and a painted piece of wood attached to the ceiling.  She loves to close the curtains around her bed for a tent like feel.  We put white rope lights around the inside portion of her bed on the ceiling so she could have light to read.

I also ripped the carpet out of my family room downstairs and painted the concrete floors.  I love it.  We have completed it but am waiting for January before I post any final pictures.  The kids love the family room and I even enjoy spending time down there.  It is amazing what a designed space can do.  I use to never hang out in the family room.  It was disgusting and smelly.  Not anymore.


Since there was black glue on the floor that was next to impossible to get off, we opted to paint the floor opaque instead of a transparent color.  This is my sweet guy etching the floor with a non-toxic, eco-friendly acid.  It still stunk to high heaven.


This is after most of the painting had been done.  There was still more to come.  We had to add molding and paint the molding along with all the doors.  It was great until my 16 year old son decided that this would be a great place to do skateboard tricks.  Needless, to say he had a lot of touching up to do.  Teenagers!

Okay, I’m feeling better already.  My sense of humor is making an appearance.

Last but not least, I created a super cute faux Christmas tree for the family room.  I really wanted to get rid of all the handmade ornaments on my tree in the Living Room.  Since I created a total kid area downstairs using framed artwork of theirs to make a picture wall collage and framed my 14 year old daughter’s photographs to display on a table, this was the perfect idea.

Here are a few of her photos…




Isn’t she so talented!  I think so.

And finally, the family room Christmas tree.

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So, as I sit here today watching the snow come down outside with my kids and husband home, smelling the ham in the oven and cabbage on the stovetop, I realize that my greatest accomplishment will always be my family.  Although, I have many talents and am good at a lot of things, I am best at being a mom and that will produce the most beautiful creation ever, good people.

Life’s Design’s: Teenage Girls’ Bedroom

Wow!  It’s been a crazy start to the school year with two teenagers in the house.  Two years ago my youngest daughter moved into her own bedroom.  Her older sister decided at 11 years old, she needed her space and her little sis was cramping her style.  Well, come to find out, her little sister knew her style better than she did.  After agonizing over paint, bedding and accessories, I had designed a cute room.  I was never quite satisfied with it though.   She kept telling me she wanted an aqua room but I was convinced that she was just saying that because her  sister had the cutest aqua, lime green and tan stripes in her room.

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Well, two years later and I just painted this girl’s room aqua.  Yep, you heard it right!  I figured, while I was already painting the rest of the house and now the basement floor, why not?!  She chose the paint, which is Behr Iconic Sky.  Very ironic since her middle name is Skye.  It was meant to be.

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This is a great neutral blue that will match any color you put with it.  Orange, red, dark teal, black and white, bubble gum pink, the list goes on.  I decided to go very neutral and cheap on the bedding and curtains, so I let her go crazy on stashing all her picks on her list that the website offers for customers.  We chose simple white bedding that I can Clorox the crap out of and it will still look and smell clean.  For $40 this beats the previous duvet I bought from Pottery Barn, even on clearance.


She chose some super cute curtains and pillows to add to the room.  Her room is full of angles and small nooks so we are giving her bed a built-in look by using several pairs of curtains and a piece of wood that runs along the ceiling.  I’m hoping the real life display will look the way it does in my head.  This is what I have so far.

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I still have a bit to do, like create a long, narrow head board with a large black and white stripe fabric.  I was able to talk her into letting me print her 1D picture in black and white and frame them.  Thank goodness!

Lessons learned: Listen to your daughter.  Let her have a say and go with it.  Go neutral on the big things.  Add splashes of color with inexpensive accessories.  Let her create art for the room.  Know that in a few years she can take all of this stuff with her and you didn’t break the bank.

Here’s leaving you with some other beautiful rooms using the same paint color.



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Love how versatile this color is.

Life’s Design: What’s Your Style?

I came across this blog that had a link to a design style quiz.  I was so intrigued because I have no idea what my style is, besides eclectic.  Really?  That’s so broad.  This a great quiz because you are asked to look a pictures of rooms and pick  your favorite one.  After 16 questions I felt satisfied that I had done my best to pick my favorites.  This was my style….

Your Results: Modern Vintage Design Style

Your passion for iconic early to mid 20th century furniture sends a chill down your spine at the thought of discovering an original Breuer chair or Saarinen table offered for sale at a bargain price. You dream of living in a warehouse or a downtown loft with open space and used brick walls, natural wood flooring and raw concrete piers. Your windows would be enormous by current standards and shamelessly unadorned.

You feel free to reinvent “found objects” of unknown heritage for a functional role or a static display in your personal version of “moderne”. An education in the Bauhaus style and an eye for quality allow you to seize the opportunity for upcycling vintage classics for your purpose and pleasure. These pieces become treasures that occupy an honored position beside newer examples of your streamlined and impeccably proportioned style.

How did they know all of that?  I felt like I had just been to a palm reader.  Speaking of which, the October issue of Real Simple magazine has a great little article on “How to Read a Palm”.  So interesting and right on target.  Thought I might try to read palms at my daughter’s Halloween Party.  Cheesy, right?!

In celebration of my new found style I’ll describe to you a few days I’ve recently had.  Fell at the grocery store- vintage, found my favorite jeans in my 16 year old son’s drawer after searching for them for an hour and thought I had put them in the Goodwill bag-vintage, cried when I found an adorable picture of my 10 year old when she was 2- vintage, my husband asked me if I was in a mid-life crisis-vintage, watched an Elvis Presley movie last night-vintage, got my hair cut by a stylist who finally gets me and gave me a modern vintage cut-modern?  Thinking we should consider changing the word “senior” to “vintage”.  Sounds so much more sophisticated.

Try to find your design style.  What fun!  Here are a few other of my favorite Modern vintage rooms.  Is that a real term or totally made up?


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Life’s Design: Reuse, Repurpose Old Books

I was in my hometown in NC this past weekend for my grandmother’s funeral.  She was 94 years old and lived through the depression.  She was always so frugal and thrifty.  She gave me a lot of stuff over the years.  Some I kept but most I threw away.  She would roll over in her grave if she knew.  Sorry Grandmom!  Before she passed, she gave me an old briefcase filled to the brim with tons of clippings from newspapers and magazines.  She would sit for hours cutting out pictures that she thought were sweet or inspirational hoping one day to use them for a card or refrigerator magnet.  Amongst all the junk I did find quite a few poems she had written that I will treasure for always.  Just to give you an idea of the level of her frugality, I use to receive cleaned out peanut butter jars filled with ketchup packets from the local fast food joint.  Once, she gave my dad a shoebox full of her husband’s disposable razors that had “only been used once”.  If there was still life in them, they could still be used.  Loved that lady!

This brings me to my great find this weekend.  I always browse through the Salvation Army when I go home and as I was leaving I saw old Reader’s Digests in a cart for ten cents each.  I immediately fell in love with the patterns on the covers and at that price I just had to buy them.  Yes, I’m purging everything in my house right now so why not, makes perfect sense to me.  The possibilities of what I could do were endless.  Remind you of anyone?


So for less than $1.00 I got nine books.  I obsessed the whole weekend about what I could do with these great books and where could I find more.  It was a great distraction.

I decided that I really wanted to create a piece of art to hang on my wall.  Weird, right?  I have a picture that I love in my living room but it sticks out like a sore thumb.  It just doesn’t seem to belong, but I love the patterns and colors in the picture.

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I thought the books could give me the same sort of patterns without the Asian vibe (although, I kind of like that too).  Anyways, after searching the internet trying to find ideas of how I could implement my idea, I stumbled upon this blog.  I love this artist’s creative ideas.  There are tons of pictures of interesting book covers collaged together to make a piece of art.  Here are a few that pertain to the Reader’s Digests that I found.





I am so doing this!  She calls them quilts which fits the look of the art perfectly.  So, I’m off to find more books today.  I did stop in an antique shop on the way home from NC and found a huge stockpile.  I was super excited until the owner priced them at $5 a pop.  No thank you!  I think they must have been temporarily insane for charging that much.

I found so many great ideas of what to do with old books.  So much fun and Green.  You can create tables, lamps, purses, planters, keepsake boxes, and on and on.  Don’t get me started on what you can do with the pages of the books.  Have you created anything using old books?  Do tell….

Life’s Design: The Nature of the Soul

No one puts a room together within a week, unless it’s for show.  Most of us collect things along the way, whether it’s something we have purchased in our travels or have been given to us.  Sometimes, it’s just a collection of memories that find their way into our homes.  Coco Channel said, “An interior is the natural projection of the soul.”  This is so true.  This is what gives meaning to our home and how we feel in it.

I thought about this quote as I was looking at the picture collage on my wall that I blogged about yesterday.  I remembered why I have these particular pictures in my home.

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The bird picture in the center was an anniversary gift I gave to my husband since he loves birds.  I commissioned our neighbor to create this piece.  She was from Russia and used pieces of magazines to create her art.  First piece of commissioned art.

The picture on the shelf to  the left was painted by an old neighbor (literally “old”) who recently died with Alzheimer’s.  Her husband was a firefighter with my Grandfather who died when I was four years old.  He was a photographer and had great photos of my Grandfather.  They loved our kids and would watch them everyday as they played outside.

The smaller picture on the shelf and on the top right are children’s statues in the graveyard I would take the kids to play in.  Don’t judge!  We lived in a small town and our options were limited.  They loved it!  We would play hide and seek and have the best time.  I told them that it made all the people that were buried there happy when we came to visit.  These are particularly sentimental to me now since my Grandmother just recently passed and will be buried this coming weekend in the same graveyard.

I could go on but you get the drift.

I recently went on a purge keeping only the things that I love or tells about who we are as a family.  I think that’s what Coco Channel’s quote says.  Our home tells others what are important, where we’ve been and where we want to go.

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Our mini library as you enter our split foyer house.  Books are important to us, as well as, education.  Hint, why I’m in school, again.

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Yes, Jesus is important to us too.  These small wooden pictures of Christ and the mirrors were my husband’s grandmother’s, Irish Catholic.  The frame was given to me from my husband our first Christmas together.  I didn’t like the picture in it anymore but found a great use for just the frame.  The dish was my grandmother’s deviled egg platter.

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Found this at a local thrift store in my home town a few years ago.  On hectic days I sit for just a few minutes and look at this original painting and I’m transported to a peaceful place.  I love it!

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My husband’s great grandmother’s mirror and feathers my kids collected when they were smaller from everywhere we went, parks to vacations.  It’s was better than the flowers that always died.  Fortunately I’m not a germaphob and found such sincerity from the gifts.

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My grandmother’s cabinet.  I cried cleaning it the other day.

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A project I did when my kids were younger.  I cut lots of silhouettes of the kids out and framed them for Christmas gifts that year.  I even used them on our Christmas card.  I kept a few for my own.  I change out the photos seasonally.  Fond memories of their younger years.

Last one…. ( I could go on forever)

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My amazing lined linen curtains that I scored on a whim when out with a good friend for a spontaneous shopping/lunch date.  I think I sat for an hour trying to decide whether or not I should buy them.  They were expensive but it was my birthday!  Such a fun day and was introduced to an amazing store.  So glad I bought them.

Everything seems to have a story or memory attached to it.  If it doesn’t, maybe it’s time you started cutting down on the clutter and start surrounding yourself with only the things that you love.