Summer Spruce Up for the Front Yard

We’ve obviously been very focused on the interior of the house during our first year as home owners, but with our second summer in the house flying by, we’ve been excited about a few small updates to the exterior. Luke is starring in this post and sharing our DIY cedar window box how-to, plus he reviews the new yard power tools he is thrilled with from our sponsor TORO.

When TORO approached us about a collaboration, Luke was jumping out of chair with excitement over the idea of long-lasting battery powered lawn tools. He requested both a string trimmer and blower from the Toro PowerPlex™ 40V Max* Lithium Ion Products collection. Now let me just say, I’m down for yard work but he tends to be the power tool junkie around here, so here’s Luke’s review on the tools.

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The Warwick Reno: Master Bathroom Planning

Last month I shared our plans for the new bathroom upstairs, including some before photos and the fabulous rendering Deckor helped me create. We are doing our best to make the most of what will be a small master bathroom. The rendering makes it look a little wider than real life. : )

This is what we are hoping the AFTER looks like!

Here is where we are currently at after some serious DEMO: #reallife

The previous owners (or whomever in the home’s history) made some not so awesome plumbing choices. In order to safely bear the weight of a big tub and lots of tile, we will be doing some plumbing work to re-route plumbing and make sure floor joists are safe. Proper venting, insulation, drywall, etc. all need to occur as well.

  • A note on permitting: I always recommend checking with your local jurisdiction on permit requirements. Typically, if doing a lot of the work yourself you can get a homeowner’s permit with help from your city. Usually when working with a contractor you can ask for their assistance to obtain permits, and at times only certain permits will be required such as electrical. Your city website is the best place to look for information.

But onto the FUN STUFF:

I want to breakdown the design a bit more and share some of our sources, as we are really excited to be working with some awesome vendors on this project! We want to keep the bathroom classic and peaceful. It can be hard to hold myself back from some of the current trends like black matte plumbing fixtures, but eventually we’ll sell this house, and want to keep resale and timeless style in mind. Since we have brass in the house downstairs, and all the doorknobs upstairs will also be brass, we will continue the theme with brass accents on the lighting and plumbing fixtures. Although, I have no issue mixing some polished nickel into the mix too!

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Women Who MAKE: KUFRI Textiles

July 9, 2017 Interviews 0 Comments

I’m excited to introduce you to Mili Suleman of KUFRI today! When Mili and I first connected, I could tell she was a down-to-earth business woman on a mission to not only grow her business, but make a difference in the world. It always inspires me to talk to a woman with vision bigger than only the “product” or company itself. I think you’ll find Mili and her passion for textiles, weaving and employing women weavers in India very inspiring.

I also very much appreciate Mili’s sensibility when it comes to style, simplicity and understated beauty, plus functionality. That is winning combination in my book.

INTERVIEW WITH KUFRI TEXTILES

  • Name: Mili Suleman
  • Years in Business: 3.5 years
  • Current title/company name: Founder & designer / KUFRI

What are your first memories of making [art]/being creative?

I must have been 12 when I delved into the arts more seriously. I trained in Classical Indian dance and took a myriad of art classes from oil painting to charcoal to fabric painting. I was also immersed in a lot of creative writing.

 kufri textiles fabric collection

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I studied graphic design and worked for a packaging design agency, so naturally my first business was starting my own graphic design business. I started doing freelance work on the side while I had the full-time position at the design agency. I worked from 8AM to 11PM for a couple of years, until l I took the leap to start my own business. I was fearful, but my father encouraged me to just go for it. I was also coming out of a very dark time in my life, so I had tremendous drive and the desire to create a life for myself. KUFRI is my second business and came much later.

 Tell us about the process of launching KUFRI. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

KUFRI was born from a desire to connect with my family and do more than just sit behind a computer for 10 hours a day. I was seeking something more impactful and meaningful. I wanted to devote my time to creating something tangible and bigger than myself; I was thinking about my life work and what my legacy would be.

The best parts have been seeing myself evolve and finding myself through KUFRI. It may have started as a line of textiles, but it has brought immense growth and meaning into my life from working through challenges and building relationships. When a design firm falls in love with the line and becomes a repeat client, that’s the icing on the cake. Oh and no two days are ever the same… I love that!

I’m more right-brain inclined than left-brain inclined, so the biggest challenge has been trying to manage and teach myself to be good at all the left-brain inclined business tasks. I don’t like analyzing numbers and such, but it’s got to get done.

 What is your favorite part of the design process? What inspires you and why?

I recently purchased a gorgeous Leclerc loom and hired someone to weave and bring my designs to life. Being able to do the design and seeing it translated into a woven cloth right here on our own loom has been a thrill. Once the sample is approved, it gets shipped to India for full production.

I lead a rich, full life and find inspiration everywhere… so I would say nature and life itself are my biggest inspirations. Changing my pace of life dramatically inspires me, for example, traveling to a village in India or traveling to NY, forces me to shift and adapt; that shift inspires me to think differently and see differently.

  

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The Warwick Reno: Before Photos Part Two

June 26, 2017 Warwick 0 Comments

It’s summertime and in our household and that means it’s time to get busy on home renovations. The image above is a rendering of the plan for our upstairs bathroom! We’ve done our best to maximize this small space. More on these plans below, but first a little backstory.

You might remember that my hubby Luke is a high school teacher, and during the summer months we kick it into high gear with our reno goals. Last summer, we did the full kitchen renovation, painted the entire downstairs, tiled the mudroom, wallpapered the entry and decorated the living room, dining, guest room and my office.

This summer, we are hoping to complete the upstairs bathroom (gut job), the master bedroom (needs massive help), replace all the doors, floors, and baseboard and paint the second floor – plus decorate!

My very first Warwick Reno post had lots of BEFORE photos of the house, including a few upstairs. Since then Luke has gotten rid of almost all of the upstairs flooring. Most of the floors are original pine and were covered in linoleum. The master bedroom did not have original flooring and I think we may carpet in the bedroom, as we have wood flooring almost everywhere else in the house.

Here are a few more BEFORE photos of where the upstairs is currently at:

Hall with french doors to master bedroom. All of these door will be replaced! And these are the original pine floors, which we’d like to bleach and leave a light color.

Current state of master bedroom, lots of plans for in here.

The not very exciting “master bathroom.” We will do our best to maximize the small space and add some luxury!

This dead corner has a useless closet behind, so we will create built-in shelving here.

Gutting it all…

See ya later sad old bathroom.

We are really excited to get demolition going and we are starting in the bathroom! I worked with a really cool digital rendering company, Deckor, to help me create these realistic views of the new bathroom based on our design selections. I honestly can’t say enough about Aman and the team at Deckor, they really brought the space to life with their rendering capabilities! We are also working with some really exciting brand partners on the rest of the upstairs plans and I’m excited to really solidify the designs and share them with you!

Here are the gorgeous bathroom renderings. These make me so happy. I can only hope our finished project looks even better in real life!

In our next post, I’ll share all the design details for the bathroom.

More soon!

XO – CLAIRE


Look Book: Chic Red, White and Blue Style

June 20, 2017 Styling Lessons 0 Comments

It’s always fun to be festively dressed on a holiday and the Fourth of July has lots of cute outfit potential! I can usually find something in my closet to wear, because my whole wardrobe is pretty much blue and white – big surprise : ) but I saw these comfy and chic red flats at local boutique Penelope’s and could not resist putting together a Look Book post. I hope to do more of these posts, which will be filed under the Styling Lessons category here on the blog sidebar. You can shop a similar look from the selections I made below. Here’s my chic red, white and blue outfit for the 4th weekend!

Pair a white embroidered top, with jeans or cropped jeans, add a pair of red flats and a cute floppy hat! My top is vintage and the hat is old JCREW, but I’ve linked the red flats and cropped jeans above. Below are similar white embroidered tops and cute floppy hats to complete your look!

Scroll through the images below and click on any picture to be taken to the item. Happy Shopping!

 

And Happy Fourth of July friends! Hope you’ll be watching fireworks and snuggling up with the ones you love!

XO – CLAIRE


DIY Fringe Lamp Shade How To

June 15, 2017 DIY Projects 0 Comments

For this project, I teamed up with fashion designer Veronica Sheaffer to use leftover fringe from Veronica’s collection to add pizzazz to my vintage lamp! You can also see this DIY Fringe Lampshade featured on Domino.com

Once thought of as a traditional and stuffy accouterment to window treatments, fringe is making a huge comeback in fashion and interiors. Spotted on the runway on bags, shoes, and skirts in all colors and styles, fringe is totally on-trend. In the home decor space, I love fringe lining the bottom of a sofa, chair, or ottoman. And adding fringe to just about anything will up the style factor, as proven by this DIY fringe lampshade.

The hardest part of this DIY is finding a cool lamp and pretty fringe. After that, it’s a piece of cake!

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Garage Organization with Gladiator

gladiator garage makeover

We moved into the house last spring and focused right away on the kitchen and downstairs renovation. This left little time for any outdoor work, so this spring we are excited to get a couple outdoor projects going! The first project is our mini-makeover for the garage with Gladiator. When I found out Gladiator was looking for people to work with on garage organization, I jumped at the chance knowing Luke would LOVE a new workbench and extra storage for tools in the garage. When we first moved-in he created some basic shelving out of some 2×4 lumbar, but as you can see from the before pictures it wasn’t exactly doing enough for us in the organization department.

GARAGE BEFORE:

We worked with Gladiator to choose a few products that we thought would work well for us. We knew we wanted a work bench for added surface area for projects like planting and small wood working jobs. We love the Adjustable 6ft Hardwood Work Bench! It’s super versatile and was easy to put together. Luke also wanted Gladiator’s Modular GearDrawer. It’s a great place to store tools and their various small parts and it can roll around the garage with him.

The coolest product that Gladiator makes in my opinion are their GearWall Panels, these slat wall style panels come in different lengths and sizes, and easily screw into your walls or studs to get your stuff off the floor! With only two 4′ panels we are able to house multiple yard tools, and a bunch of Luke’s smaller tools and nails, screws, etc. Also, I think my favorite item is the handy CleanUp Caddy, which is the paper towel holder with cleaning products on top! Maybe now I’ll clean out my cup holders and wipe down the dashboard (or at least that is Luke’s dream). Keep reading to see all the after photos!

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10 Best Apps for Your Interior Design Business

Everyone has a different path to walk when opening their interior design business and beginning the journey of entrepreneurship. We all have particular strengths and weaknesses. I had a particular strength in website knowledge, because I generally understood how to use WordPress from a past job and I had a growing portfolio of work I wanted to get online. Now, let me be clear. Starting a website and starting a business are NOT THE SAME THING. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way and I want to share my 10 best apps for your interior design business to get you off on the right track. Whether you are starting out or a pro looking for some new technology, all of these tech-based services have helped me streamline my business and function at new levels of productivity.

If you are looking for more information on starting your interior design business I recommend this post on Start Up Costs for Your Interior Design Business.

If you are looking for more information on Branding Your Business here is an older post about Creating My Logo.

10 Best Apps for Your Interior Design Business

G SUITE – Completely worth the $5/month per person to have this for your team. More intuitive then outlook, cloud storage, and better reliability than any other web/email hosting service. Your business name is necessary in your email address to look professional and g-suite allows @centeredbydesign.com vs. XXX@gmail.com.

Boomerang for Gmail – A free plug-in that lets you write emails and schedule when you’d like to send them. Great for late night emails, and having them automatically send at 9am – making you look like you are at the office early!

IVY – With the slogan “make time for design” IVY is a project management and invoice and billing lifesaver specifically for interior designers. This woman-owned business is making waves in the design technology space. I truly could not run my business without this software.

QuickBooks Online – QBO integrates with IVY on the backend, and I let my bookkeeper handle QuickBooks while I manage IVY. You can link your Chart of Accounts to have everything flow seamlessly back and forth. QB is the most universally understood accounting software by accountants and bookkeepers, which makes it easier for you to hire someone.

ThemeForest – I purchased this web site as a template off of Themeforest and then hosted my site on WordPress. If you spend the time to search for a purchase a great theme, so much of the work of developing a web site is done for you. You only pay for the theme once, versus paying every month for a service like Square Space.

WordPress – I use WordPress as my website and blog platform and find it easy to use with a little bit of help from a developer who initially set-up my theme, and can make customizations for me when necessary. I’m not an expert on SEO but I’ve heard being on WordPress is better for blogging. Here is an article comparing the Pros and Cons of these two platforms.

Google Analytics – Great plug-in for your blog to see where your traffic is coming from and what your most read posts and pages are. Essential tool if you want to work with brands who want to know what your blog and web site stats are. Very powerful and can do a lot more I’m sure – I have a lot to learn on this one!

Trello – It’s sort of like Pinterest meets Basecamp. It’s a free tool for collaborating on projects and can be fun especially for inter-office projects, such as initial inspiration phases on client projects. It’s a good place to gather information, files, imagery and messages, without the hassle of lots of back and forth emails.

TurboScan – Best scanning application for easy and very good quality scans from your phone. I use it very frequently to scan and save paper business receipts.

MileIQ – If you’re not already tracking your milage you are losing out on money per mile! This is a great application where you can download monthly reports and easily differentiate between business and personal drives.

I also can’t live without these four technologies – AutoCAD, Photoshop, PowerPoint and Pinterest.

I hope this article was helpful! These are truly my 10 best apps for your interior design business. Please comment below if you have additional questions, I’m more than happy to help if I can!

XO – CLAIRE


Women Who MAKE: Veronica Sheaffer

May 31, 2017 Interviews 0 Comments

I’m always enamored with off-beat style; individuals who own their look and aren’t afraid to be themselves. This goes in fashion and interiors. Of course, I love a dash of vintage, romance, humor and tradition thrown into the mix for good measure too. Luxury bridal and clothing designer, Veronica Sheaffer, represents thinking about fashion in your own way and is currently multi-tasking with a mission across several platforms. Her current fashion message, “the world says you’re old, but you’re still hot AF.”

Not only does Veronica have a line of custom bridal and intimates, a fashion blog for women over 35, and an incredibly well-decorated apartment, she’s also given away her entire wardrobe (undies too!) in an attempt to create a high-fashion wardrobe for herself (a personal project after so much sewing for others). Veronica can also spot good vintage from a mile away, and happens to be from Sandwich IL, which is known for a huge summer flea market series – don’t miss it if your local!

I’ve been admiring her bridal line for several years and it was a treat to visit Veronica at her home and studio. We even collaborated on a very fringy DIY coming up soon! Photos are by Chicago-based wedding and portrait photographer Anna Sodziak. Enjoy the interview and remember you are HOT as F**K.

Centered By Design: Women Who MAKE Interview – VERONICA SHEAFFER

  • Name: Veronica Sheaffer
  • Age: 37
  • Current title/company name: Designer, President / Veronica Sheaffer Inc.
  • Years in operation: 7+

What are your first memories of making/being creative?

I would play around with cross-stitch when I was in grade school, which is probably my first experience with a needle and thread, but before that – probably second and third grade – I was making my own paper dolls with endless wardrobes. I’ve always loved clothing and fabric and making something, anything, is so satisfying. In high school I started acting, which took me to NYC when I was eighteen (I studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts), and I stuck with that for many years. If I think about the arts that I love most – sewing, fashion, interior design, acting – they’re all very transformative. I supposed that’s at the root of my interests, although I’m not sure what that says about me, haha.

 

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

When I was studying in NY, I somehow landed a receptionist position at a television post-production house, and that led to a series of “day jobs” in administrative positions, while I tried to make a go of acting. Of course I hated it at the time, but I learned so much. One of my early employers sent me to an email workshop (this was obviously a million years ago), and that was such a gift. All of that experience made the day-to-day tasks of running a business, and interacting with other businesses, second nature. The actual confidence to strike out on my own is baffling to me, since I spend half of my time thinking of myself as a failure. I guess I should thank my parents for stuffing the confidence deep into my psyche somewhere.

Tell us about the process of launching your business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

A friend and I took a leap and made a couple of women’s ready-to-wear collections, while I was still acting a bit. We did pretty well, considering I had zero experience with production (I had only sewn for myself up to that point), and that led to some requests for custom bridal gowns. I loved making those really special, emotional pieces, and my reputation in bridal started to grow quickly. It was only a couple of years before I launched my first full collection (2010). I was writing a blog at the time (My Hands Made It), which was fairly successful, and that helped spread the word. It was right at the beginning of the big blog/DIY/wedding/Pinterest boom – the timing was great. Then I had a baby, haha. Running a business and being a mom is HARD. There’s never enough time! Truly, there is not. You have to be so fluid – constantly making adjustments – because the day never goes as planned. NOTHING goes as planned. I’m so beyond lucky to have a husband who is fully invested in whatever I’m trying to create – he helps me so much. 

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Lake Forest Showhouse 2017: Before and After

back hall lake forest show house 2017

A big heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who came out to visit The Lake Forest Showhouse 2017. It was an honor to be involved along side my design collaborator for the event, Relativity Textiles. The showhouse benefitted the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, and it was an honor to work among top design talent in the greater Chicago area. I was definitely the new kid on the block and everyone was gracious and welcoming!

I thought it would be fun to show the before and after pictures of our space, The Back Hall and Bath. Even I was a little stumped when trying to come up with a beautiful design for this very cramped bathroom and hall. This section of the house was likely the servants quarters back in the early 1900s, so it was customary for the space to be tight and not as grand as the rest of the home. HERE you can read a little more about the historic home built in 1922 by Howard Van Doren Shaw.

For the design story, we imagined a pastoral and whimsical secret passageway where a little girl or boy could get lost for hours reading perched in the stairwell, hiding from whomever was asking them to do their chores!

This is the digital design board we created as inspiration with final selections. The wallpaper is a custom print, “Arabian Nights” by Relativity Textiles. Lighting is by Circa Lighting and the paint color on the ceiling is Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball.

Here are the HALL BEFORE photos:

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