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.

Fashion Risks in Palm Springs

leopard-pants-black-tank-black-hat-in-palm-springsSo first I need to direct you to the amazing recaps that both Lauren and Tammy did of our recent trip to Palm Sprigs.  I had SO MUCH FUN.  I have many more images to share from the weekend but I wanted to start first on what I wore.  This trip was all about being creative and finding inspiration so I decided it would be a great place for me to step out of my shell and take some fashion risks.  You might look through these photos and say, that wasn’t all that risky.   And I totally get that.  But it was a good place for me to start.  I really enjoy fashion and want to continue working on my personal style.  The weather in Palm Springs was a lovely 105 degrees.  I love the heat but that certainly did play a role in the outfits that I picked.  For the drive up I went with my favorite easy leopard pants (you guys I am pretty close to needing a leopard print intervention…)  and a black silk racer back tank tucked in.  So here is where the risky part is.  The tuck in.  I usually wear things loose and drapey.  Sometimes it works and sometimes I feel sloppy.  Tucking in and allowing my buns to be on display (you guys, my insecurities run deep!) was a big step.  And no one pointed and laughed!!!

little-black-dress-with-neon-accessories-in-Palm-SpringsFor dinner the first night I threw on a simple hi-lo black dress (can someone please make a dress with a straight hem?  For real, I’m pretty much done with the reverse dress mullet but that is all you can find!)  Um, boring, you say.  Yes.  Lauren said, “I thought you said you were taking fashion risks?”  The risky part here is that the top is a bit loose.  I wore just a bra under it and didn’t wear a tank top.  I am not well endowed up top and I don’t know why I feel the need to hide behind my clothes.  I just do.  So from the outside this doesn’t look like a fashion risk but to me it was very freeing.  And those shoes.  Those were definitely a broken ankle risk.

Novella-Royale-Kaftan-with-shorts-in-Palm-SpringsThe next day for some shopping and lunch I wore my favorite kaftan from Novella Royale (no longer on the site but this is similar).  I’ve had it forever and worn it a ton, but ALWAYS with skinny jeans or leggings.  I do not wear shorts.  Or mini skirts.  So this was HUGE.  I certainly wasn’t comfortable going without anything so I paired it with some black slip shorts I have.  Having a spray tan helped my confidence.  And I have to be honest and say that I have not worn shorts since I’ve been home.  And while there was day drinking involved in Palm Springs, I certainly wasn’t drunk when I picked out my outfit that morning.  I need to dig for this confidence again and aim to add shorts back in to my summer wardrobe.

trying-out-fashion-blogger-posesThe other part that I wanted to overcome was having my picture taken.  I really don’t like it and I don’t know how to do it.  I had Lauren and Tammy spend a few minutes in this parking lot with me while the other gals went thrifting.  I am laughing in this picture because they were trying to tell me how to pose.  And I kept getting it all wrong.  I am not a natural in front of the camera and I accept that.  But I would like to try to learn how to not look crazy insane and stiff when someone takes my picture.

walking-in-a-parking-lotThen Lauren told me to walk.  So I turned and strutted my stuff across the lot.  “Walk better” she says.  What does that even mean?!  She explained I was walking like a burly man and that I should think in my head that I was on a runway…

twirlSo then I BROUGHT IT.

bikini-in-palm-springsYou guys!  I wore a two piece!!  Earlier this summer I decided that I was no longer young enough or fit enough to wear a bikini.  So I bought a cute, sort of retro one piece from Old Navy much to my husband’s dismay.  I wore it on my first girl’s trip to Scottsdale (more on that trip soon!) and then again when I got home.  And then it broke!  So I took it to Lauren’s and asked her to help me mend it with her sewing machine.  This was the suit I intended on wearing to Palm Springs.  In the mean time, I started looking for a bikini that covered a little more area.  And found one on clearance at Target!  Lo and behold, Lauren “accidentally” forgot to bring it to Palm Springs…I think it was her way of ensuring that I wear the two piece.  But I’m glad she did.  I pretended like I was totally comfortable walking around in a bikini and think that helped.  And guess what, that one piece is not going with me to Mexico.  I can do it.

day-to-night-with-heelsFor dinner that night, I decided to just rewear my Novella Royale  kaftan.  I just added heels, a sparkly necklace and Lauren did my hair.  She is the BEST to travel with!

harem-pants-gone-wrongSo these are probably the biggest risk I took the whole weekend aside from wearing shorts.  I picked up these harem pants from a thrift store over a year ago and have dying to wear them.  I decided to pull them up to my knees to create a blousey effect.  Which I realize now, was not the right move.  They are much more flattering to wear as actual pants at the ankle.  You live and you learn.  I also didn’t do my hair this day and only have minimal makeup on so taking this picture was extra hard for me.

Being that this was a girl’s weekend, everyone shared insecurities that they had.  What I loved about this group was that the concerns were voiced and then moved past.  No one let their insecurities keep them from having a fun time.  And, of course, everyone was super supportive and would go out of their way to make you feel good about yourself.  Aside from just having ridiculous amounts of fun this weekend taught me a lot about myself.  I’m grateful that, even at my age (super old, you guys) I can still grow and make positive changes.

Personal Style – Coming in to Focus

personal styleYes.  This picture is blurry.  But there is a reason I decided to use it anyway.  I think it perfectly sums up where I’m at with finding my personal style.  You remember I did a style coaching session right?  And while I came away with an end goal of how I want to dress, there is a definite transitional phase as you really get the hang of what fits in your style profile.  This photo was taken when I went to a blog networking event.  This was a real risk for me.  Although I LOVE the dress (my friend Carole gave it to me and it fit me like a glove) I haven’t worn a dress that short in years.  I know, it’s not even that short.  But it was out of my comfort zone.  But I paired it with my favorite pair of black booties and felt like I looked pretty cute.  I paired it with a black leather jacket of my husbands that has a black sweat material hood.  I felt like it perfectly fit the look that I love:  a little rock, a little tough, casual, put together.  So while this outfit worked it is still not super easy for me to put outfits together.

I still find things in my closet that do not belong.  I really need to do another round of cleaning out.  Every time I walk in, I see things, that while they are cute, they don’t belong in my closet.  This will continue to be an ongoing process.  And I find it really exciting!  It is such a great way to learn more about myself.  And while before I assessed my style, I loved fashion, it is almost more fun now when I see something that I just KNOW is my style.  So I’ll keep plugging away.  Do you have a clearly defined sense of style for yourself?