Made Mommy // May 19, 2014

I’ll be honest: Setting up my baby’s nursery hasn’t exactly been as fun as I imagined it would be. Living in the land of the expensive San Francisco Bay Area real estate means baby is coming home to a two-bedroom apartment instead of the large, lovely house I imagined I’d have when I started to have children. But alas, we’re working with what we’ve got, and with a bit of organization and planning, our nursery has really come together—just in time for baby girl’s due date.

Since this isn’t our permanent residence, I didn’t want to go overboard and create one of the adorable baby wonderlands I’ve seen on Pinterest. I have a feeling that few moms really do the dream nursery, anyway. Here’s the approach I took to get my baby’s room ready so that it’s still a sweet, cozy space that will meet our family’s needs.

Clear Out The Clutter

Unless you already have an empty room waiting to become a nursery, you’ll likely need to de-clutter your current space to make it baby ready. This is important: Before bringing any new stuff in, get the old stuff out. Make a few Goodwill donations, reorganize your living space and clean out the closet. That way, when all the baby gifts and goodies start accumulating, there will be space for it all and you won’t get overwhelmed.

Paint

If you plan to paint the room or change out flooring, etc., be sure to do it after clearing out the space and before bringing in new stuff. We can’t paint in our apartment, but if you can and want to, this is the time to do it.

Like what you're reading? Join Made Woman Mag's mailing list for updates, special promotions and more. Click here!

Set Up The Basics

Before installing fancy window treatments, special lighting or custom wall art, be sure to set up the room with the essentials. Usually that means a crib, dresser, changing table (dresser/changing table combo, in my case), a glider, and possibly a bookshelf or nightstand. Once there’s a place for baby to sleep, get changed and be rocked and fed, you can jazz up the space with accessories. Be sure to allow plenty of time for furniture assembly!

Wash Everything

After all the furniture is in, it’s time to wash all the blankets, bedding and baby clothes. Believe me, there’s more to wash than you might think! Be sure everything that is washable and will touch your baby’s skin gets a run through the washing machine before you use it.

Accessorize

Now the fun part (and also the part that I’ve been putting off). Once you have everything in place, washed and ready to go, you can add those finishing touches that give the room personality and pizzazz! I’ve been checking out cute area rugs, handmade art, decorative mirrors and pretty window treatments. I haven’t totally figured out where I want to take the décor, but it’s fun to work through the process.

So, Made mommies and mommies-to-be, what’s your advice? How did you set up your baby’s room, and is there anything missing here that you’d recommend?


Published in Made Mommy
Monday, 22 October 2012 09:51

Lifestyle | Decorating Your First Home

Decorating // October 22, 2012 

Six months ago, my husband and I began shopping for our biggest purchase yet: a home. No pressure, right? We ended up choosing an open concept, new construction house and became proud, first-time home buyers. But while our new place  is spacious and offers good bang for the buck, it lacks the character that some older homes have. But we (I!) looked forward to decorating and adding our own personal touches!

Well, decorating our little love nest has also proven to be a challenge. New furniture and décor means major bucks and a great deal of time and patience. I always enjoyed decorating before buying a home, but it was different when I had one room out of a whole house, or a small apartment. There wasn’t a lot of space to fill, and when I knew I was renting for a limited period of time--typically one yearlong lease at a time--it was tough to invest myself in extensive decorating. I feel differently about our first home, though. It is a place that I want to reflect our lifestyle and interests, and I take pride in it. We want it to be a place where our friends and family enjoy spending time.

I’ve quickly realized that turning a big, empty house into a home requires a lot more than a new couch. It requires a vision, hours of work and planning, and creativity.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. Be patient. A perfectly decorated home does not happen overnight, or even within a year or two. Even if we had a million dollars in our home decorating budget (I wish!), it would take a long time to style and accessorize our home to our satisfaction. And if we had no money but an abundance of great, stylish ideas, we’d need to take time to save the money.
  2. Savor the process. I am notorious for checklists – so much so that I can let an entire weekend go by, barely enjoying it, because I am too focused on tackling my to-dos. With home décor, it’s about appreciating the process rather than rushing to finish it. Some of the nicest touches in a well-furnished home have personal meaning; you can stumble upon them when when you’re not even looking, or during your travels.  Slowly but surely: this, Made Women, is how a place starts to feel like home.
  3. Style ain’t easy. I had dreams of an HGTV-worthy home magically coming together with the help of just a home decorating magazine, a bit of imagination and a few hours of effort. Wow, was I wrong. Creating a stylish, warm home is tough! Learning to furnish and decorate well is an art. It takes a sharp, creative eye and a good amount of trial and error--especially if it’s all new to you. Try enlisting  the help of a decorator or a stylish friend if you’re budget-conscious. Start an inspiration folder or binder using Pinterest printouts and clippings from catalogues. You can sign up to receive many of them for free and it will be helpful to see your ideas in one place, especially before you invest in larger pieces.
  4. It won’t always look good. I have tried different throw pillows, furniture arrangements and wall art that--after a few days or weeks--I just hated. It takes a couple of tries sometimes before something looks really good in a home. And if it doesn’t look good, I don’t freak: I try to remember I can always “edit” the room later.
  5. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter. Some days I spend hours thinking about how our house looks and which décor project I can tackle next. Other days, when I’ve spent too much time on Pinterest or I’m burnt out, I say, “Screw it.” I work full time, I have a husband and two kittens and I love to stay active and appreciate life outside of my home. It’s good to keep it in perspective and realize that no one else cares that much what my house looks like. And as long as it feels like home, it doesn’t matter if it looks like it should be on HGTV.

Decorating a home is a fun process, and it shouldn’t become be a burden. My husband and I now understand that while it is an important part of owning a home, it’s not the only part that matters. If you’re in the market for a new house or condo, keep in mind that despite your grand plans, it may take some time to furnish and fix up!


Do you own or rent? How do you feel about home and apartment decorating?

Published in Lifestyle
Monday, 27 February 2012 03:36

Dot Coms that Help You Decorate

February 27, 2012

Very few of us can afford posh Persian rugs and fine china, so when it comes to decorating your space on a budget, you need to think outside the box. Decorating on a dime is all the rage right now. Countless blogs and books are dedicated to helping people take their places from average to interesting, without breaking the bank.

  • Designspongeonline.com has great DIY projects for the home. Grab your boo or a friend for help creating something new.
  • If you are looking for styling inspiration, or would rather buy a few original-looking statement pieces than lots of little items, check out your nearest Anthropologie store.
  • Go to Anniesloan.com for furniture re-dos. This woman sells furniture paints that will give that old, beat up old dresser in your bedroom a fresh and unique new look. All you do is apply her chalk paint and/or wax to the desired piece of furniture to give it an antique, vintage and expensive feel. Who would have thought that you can give your whole place a makeover simply by repainting the furniture? One can of paint goes a long way.
  • Buy plain dishes at Target.com along with some paint pens and draw your own designs on your dishware. You can also make your own dishes from ilovetocreate.com with their line of bisque wear. Other sets of designer china can cost loads of money.



Ready for some more ideas?  Here’s a selection of my personal tips, plus some basic ones offered by the blog, Decor8 (decor8blog.com).  These can help you out no matter where and for whom you are doing some sprucing up:

  • Create a mood board using cut outs from magazines of colors and decorating styles you like. When you have a clear vision, you can have a clear budget.
  • Thoroughly clean the room. This is the simplest of makeovers (also the one we put off the most). You’ll be amazed by the amount of space you gain when everything is tidy and put away.
  • After you clean out your room, move only functional items back into the room first. You need to have your necessities.
  • Now what else can be reused or thrown away? If you have a lot to get rid of, consider having a yard sale or sell items online to pay for other redecorating projects.
  • If you’re cohabiting, make sure you give your roomie(s) space to add their own decorative touches. You never know, they might have a cool piece to bring to the mix.
  • I recommend picking one overall theme per room so that there aren’t clashing personalities and disagreements over price when it comes to your home.


There are no set rules when it comes to making a place look like your own.  Once you figure out how much money you have to spend, you can start hunting for ideas that fall within your price range.  If you are DYING to get a certain piece but don’t have the cash just yet, remember that you don’t need to do everything at once!  This can be an ongoing, evolving process.  Get some basic items and add as you go along.  The ideas above should get you off to a great start.  Happy decorating! 



Published in Lifestyle
Monday, 24 October 2011 06:25

Decor And So Much More!

October 24, 2011

You are MADE… Which means no matter where you are you want to be surrounded by glamour. Since the office is usually thought of more as an efficient holding cell than a glamour capital, take on the challenge to make this blank, white canvas a room of your own. If you’re going to spend the majority of your week in this room, it better be MADE-over.

Welcome to my cubedom…
Add fun touches that speak to your personality, giving your coworkers a chance to know a bit about your non-work self. This is the workplace, so it’s best to ditch the wet bar and sleeper sofa, and add some professional and presentable elements. Decorative organizational systems add style and function. Still, you don’t want your office to be overwhelmingly boring and white. I also highly recommend including something in the office to lure people in and invite curiosity, like a candy jar or interesting artwork.

Fun with Staples
Have fun with office supplies you need. For example, take plain notepads, post-its, calendars, or pens and dress them up with rubber stamps or doodles. Staples offers a line of pink professional products that benefit the Breast Cancer Research Fund. Get pink file folders, scissors, and post-its that not only pack a punch in a presentation, they also provide for a good cause. Just remember to keep it fun, but still professional.  Those glittery stickers may be cute to you, but they may attract some raised eyebrows from your boss.  If your kids, family members, or coworkers give you something nice (a birthday card etc.) use that to hang in the office. Not only does it keep you positive, it will make your colleagues feel warm and fuzzy too.

All grown up
As we mentioned above, keep all your decorations relevant to your age. Women with magazine clippings of Justin Bieber taped to their walls or teddy bears on their desk don’t get promotions (true story).

Ideas galore
Get inspired. Check out decorating blogs like annettetatum.com/blog. Here you can gain a flair for mixing personal style with personal space. At work it’s important to keep those things that inspire you close by so that you can always get those creative juices flowing. 

Go green!
Offices can be inefficient, with lots of printing and coffee runs. Consider recycling paper by cutting it and binding it to create a notepad. Or use coffee sleeves to decorate for birthday parties. Always bring a clean, cute mug or tumbler to work, as you never know when sleep deprivation will kick in. Starbucks offers travel mugs you can collage with your own pictures and mugs using chalkboard paint. These items will help keep personal memories close without cluttering your desk with frames, and they are way cooler than a Styrofoam cup.


Published in Lifestyle