Getting a Modern Look in a Traditional Space

*This post is sponsored by Sauder. All opinions and tips are my own. My husband and I have really been discussing our home design aesthetic lately. We are currently giving our living room a makeover. But the process can be a long and difficult task when you are short on money and long on individual opinions. Add to the fact that we are renting our home and we kind of have to work with what we have. Our “base” is pretty traditional while our tastes run more towards a modern look. The modern feel we love nods to mid century modern with a clean, uncluttered vibe that is full of natural light. We struggle with just how modern we want to go (my husband – all the way, me – a more laid back, homey modern approach). We also struggle with the use of colors. I LOVE colors, whereas to keep it looking clean, my husband prefers to have only a few pops of one or two colors. As you can see from the mantle, most of the color comes from the flowers while the other accessories remain neutral. We don’t always have fresh flowers in our house, but they are the perfect way to add more color to a room, temporarily. And you can keep them in just a few colors or really mix it up with a colorful bouquet. Our biggest hurdle has been finding affordable furniture, that fits our budget, that will have big impact on the style of our room. But I think we finally have a solution in Sauder furniture. Until we decide on what furniture we need and how to lay it out in the room, we have focused more on the decor elements of the room to get us closer to the look we want.

To keep a clean, modern look, everything should have a use. To me, that can look a little to sparse and cold. So I’ve been searching for accessories that have a modern vibe. I found this vase, which reminds me of a high end modern pottery designer’s products, at my local craft store and was able to purchase it with a coupon. With the traditional look of the fireplace, we really need to try hard to add modern touches through decor.

Because I need to buy a few pieces of furniture to make this room over, I’m really trying to watch how I spend my money in other areas of the room. By repurposing things I already own, I am able to style the area without spending money. Here I’ve used an empty whiskey bottle and a wooden candlestick holder as vases (the wooden candlestick holder actually has a little metal insert for the candle so it can hold a smidge of water to keep that flower alive for a few days). The brass candlestick holders were purchased on clearance around the holidays and provide a little shine to the mantle. And while I used to hate the wall of mirrors, it is needed to keep that room bright all day. Thanks to the position of our home, that room loses natural light just after lunch time. But thanks to that wall of mirror and a sliding glass door opposite, light gets bounced back in to the room.

I think it is also very important when designing a room, even if you are trying to keep to a certain look, to put some of yourself in the room including one or two conversation pieces. Those tend to have big impact while not cluttering a space. This George Washington pillow is the only throw pillow we have on the couch (otherwise, my kids would make a fort out of them) and it demonstrates both my love for U.S. Presidents and my husbands love of Americana perfectly.

Modern rooms tend to be clear of clutter and with everything having a purpose. The media console we have now does not provide a spot for us to hide the DVD player. So it sits out on top of the console which I think is an eyesore. In this case, I felt a little styled vignette was in order to draw the attention away from the DVD player. And look, it is holding our Apple TV remote so that counts as function, right?

The media console is one of the pieces of furniture that we will be replacing. I am in love with the clean lines and modern vibe of this media console from Sauder. And guess what? My husband and I both love the style. You know how you find a new company and get super excited over their stuff only to click through and realize that you can’t afford any of it? Well, that is not the cause with Sauder. Not only do they carry pieces that perfectly fit our modern aesthetic, but the prices are totally affordable. This company gets it. They think you should be able to furnish your home in style without breaking the bank. Amen. You can see the entire Soft Modern collection, which is TOTALLY amazing, on their website or their Pinterest page. And they have styles to suit all different tastes. With these pieces, we can achieve the modern look we want in this house but can take with us if we move again. And because the furniture is so affordable, we can change out some of the other pieces that don’t fit the look we are trying to achieve. Awesome. This room is far from finished but I am super excited with how it is coming together. I can’t wait to feel good about inviting people in to our home!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder Woodworking. The opinions and text are all mine.


There’s No Place Like Home – Especially these

sugar and cloth living room
Image via Sugar and Cloth

It is time.  We’ve been in our place or almost a year.  It is still undecorated and it is freaking me out.  I think part of the problem is that I a worried about how the compromising will go with my husband.  We both have very distinct tastes.  And since this is my place of business (blog aside, as a stay at home mom – this is my office) I am the one that will be enjoying it or not enjoying which ever the case may be.  I’m starting to make sure I note when I am really drawn to an interior that I see online.  I’m going to ask the hubs to do the same.  And we’ll see what we come up with!  Will this be a project that will be done soon?  Nope.  We don’t have the time or money for that.  But this is all about developing our style and finding the pieces that feel like us.

Ashley‘s living room drives me wild.  I love her art work (I think she made most of it herself) and the clean lines are comforting.  That rug wouldn’t last a second in our house though with two little boys.  So I’m wondering what options are out there that will help keep a room bright but hide dirt.

furbish studio designed home
Image via Marie Cox via Glitter Guide

I’m addicted to pretty much anything that Jamie from Furbish Studio does.  Every time I come across one of her interiors it stops me in my tracks.  It fits me perfectly.  I adore her mix of colors and patterns.  There is always something playful that goes well with my sense of humor.  And the spaces feel homey and not over-styled.  How will I be able to pull off this layered look without a ton of knickknacks?  I know myself and how much I do not enjoy dusting around tiny items.

great color and feel for growing kid's room
Photo via Mor Til Mernee

I love how this wall of art doesn’t feel like a typical gallery wall.  Maybe it is the pops of bright colors coupled with the sleek storage.  I’m going to be studying this to see how I can mimic it.

A few other issues:

Do we finally give up our ridiculously comfortable couch for a style better suited for our eyes?  Our eyes don’t have to lounge on it to watch TV at night.

Do we go with a console table, bench or buffet for the wall where we will hang a lot of our framed art?  I hate that our couch provides our only seating in the room when we have guests over.  Everyone sits facing the TV and the window and interaction is odd.  I could totally use the storage space of a buffet but could we address the seating issue by adding a bench against that wall that could be moved when we entertain?  Or would it end up looking like a bench pushed against the wall?

What do we put under our TV?  It needs to store a shit load of Skylanders, DVDs and hopefully the DVR and DVD player (yes we still have one of those.  I am not sure why).  Most media consoles seem to be either super modern and stark or super country and grody.  Will we find one that lands somewhere in between?

Will my husband be able to handle the pops of pink that I think is integral to any perfect room?  I like a little bit of neon pink here and there.  Is that so wrong?

Will my kids ruin all our new stuff?  To be determined.

January Loves

rad ikat patterns behind opening credits of CinderellaI don’t know if Cinderella was redesigned recently but when it came on TV right after Christmas I noticed how cool the opening credits were.  The ikat is amazeballs.  And that is not a word I throw around lightly.  I die over the colors and the fonts.  My boys wouldn’t watch it with me.  Whatevs.  Who knew that Cinderella was so design focused?!

fossils on hikeSo my family and I were out on a hike in Newport Coast one weekend and some other hikers called us over to have a look at these awesome fossils.  A geologist that they encountered on a recent hike had shown them and said they were probably about 115 MILLION years old.  WHAT!  How crazy is that?  And super cool that other hikers wanted to share their knowledge.

Ride Makerz at Downtown Disney is the coolest!My mom gave my boys gift certificates to Ridemakerz at Downtown Disney for Christmas.  If you have never heard of it, it is pretty much like a Build A Bear, but with cars.  THE COOLEST.  The boys had the best time.  You pick out the car body that you want (most of them are Disney related), and then you choose tires and rims, etc.  Although it ads on a bit more money, you HAVE to make it a remote control.  The cars would still be cool if the boys were pushing them around but seeing them play for an hour at the park, literally shrieking with delight, was priceless.  Once they add the remote control, you are taken to your own work station where they put their cars together.  As with most things Disney, it is really well done.  The entire experience was really fun.

pop tart cupcakes by Meringue Bake ShopIt is good to have talented friends.  Just take a look at this Pop Tart Cupcakes by Meringue Bake Shop!  Um, yeah.  So yummy.  She gave me a few of these to try along with some maple bacon scones.  For no reason whatsoever.  Thanks Kristin!

Give Soma and Clean Water this Holiday

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group and Soma, but all opinions are my own. #pmedia #givesoma

Soma Water CarafeThe first time I saw Soma, I wanted it.  Aside from the fact that the 100% biodegradable filters are designed to make your water taste better, it simply looks gorgeous.  I always like to have water available when I entertain.  And now I can serve it right from this gorgeous handcrafted carafe.  It looks amazing, tastes great and couldn’t be easier.  This would make the perfect gift for your favorite party thrower this holiday (and many other recipients on your list).  Not only would they receive the gift of clean, clear water, and stunning carafe, but every filter bought from Soma helps people in need get their own safe drinking water through charity:water.  A gift that gives back is always the best.

soma-water-filtration-systemSoma is crazy easy to use.  The top of the lid features a kind of flap that you can run the water right through.  It passes through the filter and the clean water fills in to the carafe.  The filter portion fits snuggly in to the top and it is virtually impossible to do it wrong.

soma-water-filterSoma was super easy to purchase and every along every step I was met with outstanding customer service.  Like, exceptional.  While I didn’t run in to any snags during my order I have no doubt that they would bend over backwards to sort out whatever issues you might run in to.  When you purchase Soma for $49, you are automatically enrolled in their fresh filter program which I love.  The replacement filters will be sent to your house every 2 months.  You or your gift recipient won’t even have to think about it.  The cost is $12.99 and shipping is always free.

Soma Water CarafeThe ease and design of this product is perfect for my entertaining style.  I prefer to make things pretty but not be fussy.  The fact that I can just pop this carafe of water out of the fridge and on to the table makes me want to dance ridiculously happy.

beautiful-soma-water-carafeSometimes we think we have to invite people over for a big, sit down meal, but that is not the case.  Some easy, delicious snacks and yummy drinks are the perfect complement to good conversation.

slate and neutral with SomaPackaged chips and dips zhushed up a bit are really all you need.  I’m fine with leaving bags on the table but if that is not cool with you, simply put them in to a different serving dish.  Since Soma is so well designed I wanted to complement it with natural colors and materials.  A little greenery from around the neighborhood adds a fresh element to the table.  And the glow from the candles makes the room feel cozy and warm.

Food Should Taste Good SnacksThe point of entertaining is to take care of your guests and make sure that their needs are met.  We are fortunate to be able to drink wine and share snacks around a table.  It is unimaginable that in this day and age that all people do not have access to clean drinking water.

soma-carafe-is-perfect-for-entertainingThis carafe will get a lot of use in my home.  The shape is too gorgeous to not use it in as many ways possible.  I love when companies create a great product to meet a need (clean water – an important need).  But I love it even more when they pay attention to design and realize that a truly great product fits seamlessly in to your lifestyle.

Share Soma with someone you love this holiday season.  Follow Soma on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

*I was sent Food Should Taste Good Snacks and it was my choice to use them in this post.  They are in no way a sponsor of this post or affiliated with Soma in any way.  I felt that the chips were the perfect way to show how easy and delicious simple entertaining can be.  The colors also worked perfectly…and sometimes, when you are crazy about details like I am, that is how you choose your snacks.

Land of Nod is coming to Orange County!

land of nod clip hook setAre you as excited as I am about the Grand Opening of the Land of Nod store at South Coast Plaza?!!  The store opens on Friday, May 31, 2013 and is located in the Crystal Court section of the mall near the Crate and Barrel store.  Remember how I fell in love with them after Alt Summit?  I can’t wait to see all the items in person.  And it couldn’t be a better time considering we have only been in our new house a week.  I’m totally in the market for rad home decor.  Land of Nod will be holding giveaways all opening day and has free goodies for those who arrive early to shop.  Will I see you there?  Here are a few of the things that I will be checking out:

These wall clips pictured above, are awesome!  My kid’s create a lot of art work in school and these would be such an easy way to display it.  We are also talking about doing a gallery wall in our front room and these would be such a cool way to be able to change out a few pieces, from time to time, to keep things fresh.

ansel teak deskI am in need of a cool, simple desk for my bedroom.  I am a big fan of this teak desk.  It would fit perfectly where our existing desk sits but I probably would totally bring this out when we entertain…I love the wood and metal together.  It has great lines and I want it.  (I’m stopping just short of stomping my feet with my hands in fists…).  I’m excited to check out all of their other furniture as well!

bocce ball for kids from Land of NodThis kid’s indoor bocce ball set is such a great gift idea!  I love how bright the colors are.  My husband’s grand father was a great bocce player.  It would be cool for our kids to learn the game too.

doub unpluggedThe buyers for Land of Nod have impeccable taste.  Their eye for great graphic design is evident in everything from their bedding to their custom art prints to their curated selection of books.  This Doug Unplugged book is adorable and the perfect message for today’s kids.  Get off your devices and get outside.  My oldest son NEEDS this book!

orange robo throw pillowMy oldest son’s room is pretty small and I’m keeping his bedding really simple.  These robot pillows would be perfect for adding a little pizzaz.  And what kid doesn’t love a robot?

wow thats a big lamp greenCurrently, we do not have a light in our living room.  We get by with the light from the television and entry way light.  It is not ideal but until we find a light my husband and I can both agree upon, that will have to do.  I can’t wait to show him this green lamp!  It is such a fun pop of color and I love the industrial look of it.

Not in Orange County?  You can still shop the store online.  And don’t forget to follow them on Pinterest and Instagram.   This is one company that really knows how to work their social media.  I find their Pinterest and Instagram feeds SO inspiring!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the store after you visit!
This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Land of Nod, but all my opinions are my own. #PMedia #NODinCA

All up in my business

The future of cupcakes and cutlery

Tomorrow I will be sharing my full Alt Summit experience but today I wanted to share an epiphany I had that will change the way I blog forever.  It was like a 3 step “A-ha” moment that came full circle during the conference.  Going in to Alt Summit I was super excited but also really apprehensive about approaching brands.  I had no idea what I brought to the table, why they would want to work with me and no ideas of which brands were the right fit for me.  I don’t mean any of this in a woe-is-me type of way.  I’ve been blogging for about 6 years so how can it be that I don’t know who I am or why my readers read what I write?  But it did come to me and my direction is finally clear.  Kind of smack on the forehead, how did I not think of this years ago clear.  But what may start out one way sometimes has to take a journey to find out where it was meant to be.  I will be working toward a redesign and a bigger game plan (not quite world domination but pretty close, wink).  I will start creating the new content now, though, because who knows how long I will need to save up for a new site.  I’m super excited about it and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I know many of you have also been blogging for a long time and may not be where you thought you would be.  Don’t fret!  I want to share my experience with you to encourage you to continue on your journey.  Your blog is YOU so make it what you love.  And what you love may change over time.  Your readers like YOU so let the blog follow where your life takes it.  Here is how Stella (my blog) got her groove back:

becoming you by the wardrobe code

First:  Becoming You with The Wardrobe Code.  I mentioned this in an Alt prep post, but I recently got the chance to participate in this 4 week online class where you learn what your personal style profile is.  To say that it is life changing does not even come close.  I’ll have a full post on this next week but what I learned about my style in clothing really translated to every area of my life.  I came to understand that while I had never felt like the look of my blog reflected me, I couldn’t have told you why or articulated how I thought it should look.  Now I have the tools to define and share what my personal style is.  Similarly, my house does not reflect the lifestyle of my family.  But now I have a vision of what I want it to look like.  Not only has my style improved (I don’t think I have ever felt more confident in what I put on) but I have clarity in my online look as well.  HUGE!  This presented itself during a round table discussion on PR on the second day of Alt.  I’m not even sure what I heard that made me make the connection but I instantly knew I now had the tools to create a site that looks like me (not my face, you know what I mean. Duh).

bri of design love fest image by kimberly genevieveThen:  The night before I left for Alt, I had a dream with special guest star, Bri of Design Love Fest (image above by Kimberly Genevieve).  I do not know Bri.  Never met her.  So I’m not sure where the dream came from but obviously I was in a state of unrest about my blogging “brand.”  In my dream there was a large group of bloggers.  For some reason we were supposed to be grouped in some way.  Dreamland Bri didn’t want to be in any of the groups because the bloggers weren’t being “real.”  In her dream opinion, none of us were blogging to our full potential and she didn’t want to be grouped with people who didn’t have their acts together in a visually pleasing way.  You might be reading this like, um okay dream Bri, cut them some slack but in the dream she wasn’t rude, she was matter of fact.  And when I woke up I had this sense of needing to discover what I was all about in blogging world.  So I struggled with this during my travel to and through the beginning of Alt.  But during a session on the second day, after thinking about why people come to my blog, I got it. Bri would be SO proud!  (Again, I am certain real life Bri is lovely and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression from dreamland Bri – I don’t know her but I do credit dreamland Bri with guiding me to the answers I had been looking for – and for real, you need to check out her advice section on her blog, tons of great info and I feel like she did a post on being yourself but I couldn’t find it.)

Welcome to Alt signFinally we get to Alt.  600 people there to learn, mingle, do business and just have fun.  It was exhausting.  It was useful.  It was worth the money.  And it was the final piece that helped me figure out the future of the blog.  There was so much inspiration and so many great panels.  There were late night talks with the world’s best roommates and interacting with brands in lounges.  Being that close to the brands without knowing what you should pitch to them was almost paralyzing at times.  I didn’t want to chat with someone and be super to generic and then want to work with them in the future and them to have the wrong impression of me and what I do.  Yeah.  I over think everything.  But I also only want to work with brands that fit my new, tighter focus.  And Alt made it perfectly clear that it is up to me to make things happen.

What is that focus you say?  Well, I don’t know how to word it yet.  I will be setting up brainstorming sessions with peers (free and a great resource – don’t forget to do this when you are struggling with something).  I will be gathering inspiration for my site redesign.  I will be searching for affordable web designers, because let’s face it, I don’t make THAT much money from blogging and my family still has to eat.  And I will be publishing the content that I think you want to see.  If you see something new that you like, please let me know!  One thing that Alt did, for sure, what make me feel even more part of a community.  And we gain strength by that support.  Do you feel like you know your blogging brand or are you feeling up in the air?  I’d love to hear your experience!

Dudes, I’m pumped.