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Monday, July 28, 2014

{touring through blogland} Some Q&A About Me and Three Bloggers You'll Want to Meet

Happy Monday, everyone! There's a pretty cool Tour through Blogland happening right now, and last week I was invited to participate by Christy, the lovely lady behind Confessions of a Serial Do-It-Yourselfer. So today, instead of sharing a project with you, I'm going to be answering some questions to give you a bit of insight about my work and my creative process, and then I have the pleasure of introducing you to three other bloggers that I think you are going to love! 

But first, I have to give a very special thanks to Christy for inviting me to join in the fun! The home design/DIY blogging community is full of genuinely kind and awesome women who are so supportive of one another, and Christy is a prime example of that. I have enjoyed her blog for a long time, and was so thrilled to have the chance to finally meet her in person at the Haven Conference a few weeks ago.

If you have never visited Christy's blog, you are going to be amazed by her DIY's! She has such a knack for taking a piece of furniture that most people would donate or kick to the curb and giving it a new life as something beautiful! I mean, seriously, look at this office chair that she transformed from a navy blue and cherry wood "board room reject" to oh, so pretty

I've never attempted an upholstery project, but Christy is great at walking you through the process and giving you confidence that you can do it, too! Please be sure to stop by her blog to see all of her other inspiring DIYs!

A Little About Me

For my newer readers {welcome!}, let me tell you a bit about myself before I answer the four Touring Through Blogland questions. 

I am an attorney, a wanna-be designer, and most recently a stay at home mom. I have been married to my very best friend for the past seven years {we dated for the six years before that}, and I am mom to two of the most adorable little boys on Earth - Cooper who is 14 months and Beckett who is 2 and a half {ok, maybe I am biased, but they are pretty darn cute, right?}! We live in beautiful Denver, Colorado.

Photo from March 2014, taken by Technicolor Vision.
While my kiddos keep me more than busy, in my spare moments my passions are all things artistic, and my house is my palette. It's a constant work in progress – decorating, organizing, and DIYing! I strive to make everything pretty, while at the same time ensuring that our home is a fun and safe place for two adventurous little boys. 

I enjoy doing a bit of everything - interior design, graphic design, photography, painting, crafting, organizing, organizing, and reorganizing. And for the past year and a half, this blog has been my place to chronicle all of our progress.

I love color! I love modern design! I love opening the door to an organized closet! I love the satisfaction of making something myself! And I love sharing my projects and meeting others with similar passions!

What Am I Working On Right Now?

A better question might be, "what am I not working on?" My current to do list is so scattered right now and spans just about every room of our house. 

I've definitely been on an organizing kick lately! I finally tackled under our kitchen sink, which I'll be posting about that later this week {here's a sneak peek}...

...and up next I plan to regain control of my guest room closet, which is where I store all of my gift wrap supplies and lots of other random things. 

Even though it's still the middle of summer, I'm already starting to think about fall decor! I used to think that in order to swap out your decor for each season, you had to have a neutral palette - and neutral is one word that definitely does not describe our house. But I've been giving a lot of thought lately to how I can inexpensively swap in some autumn-inspired accent colors in our teal living room and kitchen for the fall months, and I have some ideas that I am excited to share!

See more photos of our teal and grey kitchen here
Other big projects on my radar include finally putting the finishing touches on our master bedroom and creating an awesome understair playroom for our boys for Christmas. Plans are in the works for both of these, so keep an eye out for the details in the coming months! 

How Does My Work Differ From Others in this Genre?

I'd say that my personal design style is probably the thing that most sets me apart from a lot of other bloggers out there. If I had to put a name to my style, it would be Modern Metro with a touch of Urban Funk.

Here is what Modern Metro looks like in our home:

And here's the Urban Funky side of our home:

You can see much more of our home on the Home Tour page.

I've been told that my design style tends toward the more masculine side of the scale, and I guess that's a good thing since I live in a house of boys. I just know what I like. My favorite colors for my home are shades of blues and greys, but I also love to add in unexpected pops of bright colors like hot pink and orange.

When I say that my house is my palette, it's no joke! I have no fear of color and neutral really isn't part of my vocabulary. You name a color, and chances are it shows up somewhere in our house!

This is my on-the-go paint and fabric swatch kit that I carry with me everywhere.

I also find that my writing style differs a bit from other bloggers. I like to share a lot of details about my projects. When you read my posts, you are going to get the full who, what, where, when and why. I'm wordy and I know it, but it's my hope that I share enough details to make it easy for anyone to replicate my projects. I like to provide lots of step by step photos, and lots of detailed instructions. Some say less is more...I say more is more :) {but feel free to skip straight to the pretty pictures if you are ever so inclined}.

How Does My Writing/Creative Process Work?

My brain is constantly spinning, so lists are my best friend. I make a LOT of lists in an effort to track all of the ideas that pop into my mind, often times adding to them in the middle of the night when I'm woken with some inspiration that I'm afraid I'll forget by morning.

I generally don't have too much trouble coming up with ideas, but when it comes to executing big projects, I am definitely not one to dive right in. I have to have a clear and detailed plan before I feel ready to start - no doubt that's the analytical, attorney side of me coming out!

If I'm organizing a closet, I start by making a list of everything that needs to end up in that closet, then I sketch out rough plans before taking detailed measurements and buying the supplies I need. 

When it comes to designing a new room, I often start with lots of divergent ideas, and creating separate mood boards for each concept helps me get all those ideas out of my head. This also helps my husband to visualize all of the crazy things I am trying to explain to him. For example, here are the three totally different mood boards that I put together when we started planning our older son's "big boy room" last fall.

In the end, we often pick and choose elements from multiple mood boards, but seeing each idea on paper helps us make those decisions. From the above design concepts, we ended up picking the Vintage Preppy design plan for our son's room, but a lot of the details from the Planes, Trains and Automobile concept ended up in the room, including a hanging play tent, the airport poster, the lighted globe, and the license plate map. {Click to see the completed Vintage Preppy Little Gentleman's Lounge.}

Even once I've decided on the overall design plan for a room, my type A personality continues... I generally end up using Photoshop to created a to-scale floor plan before buying any furniture. It might seem like overkill, but the way a room lays out in my head often doesn't fit with the actual dimensions of the space, so drawing up the floor plans is a big help to me, and saves us the hassle of making returns.

I've even been known to go so far as to draw up a rendering of a project to help me make decisions before starting a project. When I was trying to decide what colors to paint the frames for my upstairs hall, I created a quick Photoshop rendering to compare the two options. Turns out my husband was right, and we ended up adding one pink frame. 

And when I was planning how to paint the argyle wall in my son's room, I drew up renderings to help me make numerous decisions, like how many rows of diamonds to paint, as well as the placement of the colors. In the end, I was amazed at how similar the finished project looked the rendering that I started with!

Click to see the full Vintage Preppy Little Gentleman's Lounge room reveal
My type A personality almost always wins out on major organizing projects {ones that involve installing shelves or closet systems} and on big interior design projects. In these cases, lots and lots of planning occuring before any real progress ever happens. But when it comes to smaller projects - especially crafty projects - I am much more likely to just jump in and let things evolve as I go. 

I am also very fortunate that my husband and my mom are always willing to talk things over with me and offer input. Both of them often make brilliant suggestions that improve the outcome of my projects - whether it be suggesting a design idea or coming up with a better way to get something done. My mom goes above and beyond helping me with the sewing aspects of projects that I don't have the skills for, and my husband is my partner in crime, often staying up with me until all hours of the night to get things accomplished while our little people sleep.

When it comes to my writing process, I take a very step by step story telling approach. I like to be detailed and thorough, but I work hard to keep my posts from sounding too "lawyerly" - in other words, to not let them be too boring! ;)

Why Do I Write/Create What I Do?

I started this blog about a year and a half ago, when Beckett was 14 months old, I was six months pregant with my Cooper, and I was still practicing law full time. It probably wasn't the best time to delve in to something new like blogging, but I jumped in with both feet anyway.

After Cooper was born and I made the decision to stay home for a few years, the blog really helped me with the transition. It gave me something that was just mine, and it provided the much needed motivation to continue being creative and getting projects done. With two little ones in the house, it can be so tempting to just drop on to the couch as soon as they fall asleep at naptime or after bedtime {and there's nothing wrong with that!}, but blogging motivates me to use my free moments to accomplish projects that make me happy {sometimes after the dishes are done, and sometimes instead of doing the dishes}.

We've lived in our current home for nearly six years now, but our "to do" list seems to continue getting longer instead of shorter. My mind never stops going, so the projects never end.  

I don't do any projects just to do them - just to create blog content. Everything you'll find here on my blog is something that I have chosen to do for myself or my family.

Sometimes they are projects to make our house feel like home to us, like the nursery, where we've spent so much of our lives these past two and a half years... 

and the 
guest room inspired by our honeymoon travels in Greece...

...sometimes they are projects to make our home easier to live in, like our organized pantry...

 or our bathtub toy storage that quickly swaps out when we have guest visiting...

...and sometimes they are projects that make life easier when we are away from home, like the restaurant kit I created for dining out with our kids...

Many of my projects are also motivated by my desire to save a little money! I am really not that much of a DIYer {you won't find me building furniture any time soon}, but when it comes to smaller projects, I am always willing to look at something and figure out how I can recreate the look for less. My favorite high low projects include my vintage industrial letters... 

...the belt shelves in Beckett's room...

...and the biggest saver of all, my license plate map!

So that answers why I create what I do. But why do I write about it? In addition to blogging keeping me motivated and accountable for completing projects, I really hope that along the way my experiences and projects can inspire others to create projects that make them happy or improve their lives in some way. It makes me feel so good when I receive a comment or an email from a reader telling me that I helped them in some way! I love that blogging allows me to be part of a larger community of people who share my interests and passions!

And with that, let me now introduce you to three more bloggers who are not only talented, but also super sweet to boot!

Hi there!  I’m Katie from Addicted 2 DIY.  I'm a former firefighter, turned stay-at-home mom.  I live in hot and sunny Arizona with my amazing husband, our two rowdy boys, and our crazy dog.  Our home is a never-ending project, which is part of the reason why I created my blog.  I wanted to share our journey towards making our house a home.  I love creating home décor projects, as well as building furniture.  I live for coffee in the mornings and the smell of freshly cut lumber.  I love the challenge of stepping outside of my comfort zone with projects, and my goal is to inspire other women to do the same.

I love that Katie is definitely not afraid to break out the tools! Check our this Pottery Barn inspired console table that she and her husband made:

And how much do you want a state shaped cutting board like the this one that she DIY'd using her jigsaw?! It would make a perfect house warming or hostess gift!!

Hi Blue i Style readers! I’m Melissa from A Prudent Life. I started my blog almost a year ago to escape from a corporate career that wasn’t fulfilling my need to create things. Now I have an outlet for my deep love of bookplate labels, gold rub ‘n buff, & all things aqua.  My favorite projects involve turning messy spaces into smile-inducing ones through organization, unexpected paint, & funny labels. In between bigger reveals, I share fun things like DIY décor, upcycles, and Silhouette projects.  I couldn’t do any of this without my super-supportive husband, who occasionally gets roped into being my photographer, graphic designer, and financial backer. We share our home with Maddie, our German Shepherd who wants to be a dog model. She makes frequent uninvited appearances in my project reveal photos. Lucky for her, she’s adorable.

Melissa's blog is filled with genius projects that turn ordinary items extraodinary. I love the way her mind works! She constantly has me thinking "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?" Take her Kate Spade inspired wine tags for example - can you guess what she made them out of?

And look at the sunburst mirror that she was able to create from a foam floral wreath, thumbtacks, and wood shims! So smart!

Hi, I'm Summer. a DIY and home design blogger with a passion for all things coastal. You can find me in my garage with paint on my jeans and a power tool in hand. With my son in tow as my little apprentice, we love to create and inspire simple style for your home and life.

I adore Summer's coastal style! This spring, she made over her deck, and it is to die for!

My favorite part is this awesome DIY marquee anchor that she created to replace her previous outdoor light fixture.

I have been inspired by these three ladies for quite some time now, so it was really a treat to getting to know each of them personally at Haven Conference a few weeks ago. I hope that you will take the time to visit each of their blogs to check out their amazing projects. Next Monday, on August 4th, the Tour through Blogland will continue, and each of them will be answering the same four questions that I answered in this post, giving you a chance to get to know them even better!

Friday, July 25, 2014

{five minute friday} Framing Up Some Pinterest Fashionspiration

A lot of home design/DIY bloggers also blog about their fashion. Not me! I like clothes as much as the next girl, but I'm definitely not a trend setter. I am just happy if I catch on to a trend before it's already "so last season."

I tend to get into a rut and don't try new things when it comes to fashion, and this is especially true when it comes to scarves. Last summer I showed you how I turned cabinet pulls into scarf hangers. Getting my scarfs out of a drawer and hanging up where I can see them has really encouraged me to wear them more often, but I tend to wear them the same way all the time.

One of the first things I ever pinned on Pinterest was an image from showing 40+ ways to tie a scarf. But even after pinning it, I continued to wear my scarves one way and only one way because I never take the time to pull up Pinterest when I'm getting dressed. Well, I've finally found a way to solve that problem by printing out the image, framing it, and hanging it in my closet alongside the scarves.

I picked up an 11x14 frame with an 8x10 mat on clearance at Michael's yesterday, and came straight home to print the "knot guide" from Pinterest. This could have been a "one minute Friday" project, but because the image was long and thin, it took me an extra few minutes in Photoshop to do a little cutting and pasting to move the bottom couple of rows of scarves to the right side - making the image better proportioned for my frame.

Even with the Photoshopping that I did, it still took me only about five minutes to print the image, stick it in the frame, and hammer a nail into the wall to hang it.

I no longer have any excuse not to try new ways of wearing my scarves.

Many of the "knots" are easy enough to figure out just by looking at the images, but for those that require a bit more explanation, I'll now be motivated to pull up the tutorial on my phone rather than just going with my old standard.

Pinterest is awesome, but it can be easy for things to get lost among your hundreds or thousands of pinned images. This weekend, I challenge you to take a few minutes to think about what you've pinned on Pinterest that would serve you better if you printed it and placed it somewhere that you'll see it every day. Maybe it's printing out a recipe that sounds delicious and hanging it on the bulletin board in your kitchen, or maybe it's printing a motivational quote and framing it for your desk. Leave me a comment and let me know what you decide to print!

{Denver style} The New & Improved Union Station and the Crawford Hotel

Although I am not currently practicing law {since I am staying home with my boys for a couple of years}, one my favorite parts of my job representing metropolitan districts was getting an inside look at some of the major development and redevelopment projects happening around Denver and throughout Colorado.

Last spring, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take a hard hat tour of Denver's Union Station mid-renovation {and, of course, I blogged all about it}. Ever since that time, I have been eager to take another tour as soon as the renovations were complete. The official grand opening of the new and improved Union Station is tomorrow, but I spent some time there last weekend, so I'm excited to give you a glimpse inside!

Denver's Union Station originally opened in 1881, but was rebuilt in 1894 follow a devastating fire. Union Station was in its prime during the 1920s and '30s, but as train travel declined in the second half of the 20th century, so did Union Station. Beginning in the late 1980's, the City and County of Denver and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) began making improvements to the Union Station site to accommodate bus lanes and light rail transit. Read my original post about the Union Station redevelopment plans to learn more history and see some historical photos.

Then in the early 2000s, numerous entities began working together to plan for the future of Union Station. The plans included major renovations to the historic train station, as well as converting the surrounding 19.5 acres into a transportation hub to accommodate pedestrian traffic, bicycles, taxis, pedicabs, motor vehicles, the 16th Street Shuttle, the 18th Street Circulator, RTD regional buses, intercity buses, light rail, commuter rail, and heavy rail. Read my prior post to see illustrations and renderings of the Union Station site plans.

The front, center facade of the building that faces Wynkoop Street does not look drastically different than it did before the renovations.... 

...but on the other side of the station it's an entirely different story!

A new open-air train hall with a canopy that rises to 70 feet on the ends, and dips to 22 feet in the middle, provides shelter for passengers while preserving views of the historic station.

This is what it looked like when I visited last March when the structure was in place, but the canopy not yet on.

I always love the contrast of modern construction alongside historic architecture, so I just couldn't stop taking pictures of the juxtaposition of Union Station and the canopy structure.

I am excited about the transportation aspects of this project and what they mean for the future of the city and surrounding region, but I am equally excited about the changes that have happened inside the station! Union Station's Great Hall, which has always served as a waiting area for train passengers, is now stunningly beautiful. The before and after photos are a real testament to the power of white paint and the importance of great lighting!

Here's the before picture from my hard hat tour in March of 2013, and the after from last weekend...

The developers envisioned the Great Hall becoming Denver's living room, and from what I observed last Saturday evening, this description is right on. Couples and small groups of friends were stopping to mingle and take it all in on their way to dinner, and a bit later crowds of people were passing through as they arrived via lightrail for a night on the town. And all of this on a night when the Terminal Bar, the central feature of the Great Hall, was not even open yet, and the seating in the center of the hall was roped off due to to protect the Terminal Bar's recently sealed floors.

I just love the furniture choices throughout the space, and the details that nod to the glory days of train travel really make the renovation feel special. At the Terminal Bar, for example, the old ticket windows have been preserved, and throughout the hall, the signage resembles those would have once included train schedules.

Every detail of the renovated station is just gorgeous! The carved trim was previously painted a dark color, making the intricate details of the columbines barely noticeable, but now that the trim is painted white, these details have become focal points.

I can't get over the new chandeliers! I could have taken pictures of them all day long {and I kinda did}!

The old benches that previously occupied the Great Hall could not be salvaged because they contained asbestos {a discovery that had been made only days before I took my hard hat tour last spring}. While I know many are disappointed that the old benches could not be reused, from the history I have read, those benches did not actually date back very far in the history of the station. I think the darker wood color of the new benches provides a great contrast to soft white paint, and they are quite comfortable!

In addition to the improvements in the Great Hall, the remainder of the building is also now being put to good use!

On the first floor, the north and south facing wings house a number of new restaurants and casual dining options {the Kitchen Next Door, Stoic & Genuine, and Snooze, to name a few}, as well as a coffee shop, an ice cream shop, and retails shops {including the Tattered Cover, Bloom, and Five Green Boxes}. Some of these restaurants and shops were open when I visited last week, while others will open this weekend or shortly thereafter.

We ate dinner at the Kitchen Next Door, and it was so exciting to see the beams that I had photographed during my hard hat tour last year still exposed in the transformed space!

We also took a peek into Stoic & Genuine, where I spotted more beams I recognized. I think the hostess thought I was crazy snapping pictures and muttering about having seen those beam last year!

The second, third and fourth floors of Union Station's north and south wings now house the 112-room Crawford Hotel.

The hotel opened on July 12th, and last weekend Scott and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary with a little staycation at the Crawford. We didn't splurge for one of the more expensive loft rooms on the top level, but our third floor "Superior Classic" room did not disappoint. The room was a nice size, but felt even larger because of the 14 foot ceilings and the floor to ceiling windows.

My favorite element of the room was definitely the orange tufted headboard with the aged mirrored trim!

Another favorite feature was the wood detail overlaid on the frosted sliding door separating the bathroom from the bedroom.

Our room overlooked the front of the station with views of downtown.

The views from our room were lovely, but even more impressive were the views down into the Union Station Great Hall from each floor of the hotel.

On the mezzanine level of the hotel is the Cooper Lounge, which overlooks the Great Hall and sits below soaring arched windows with views of the city.

When we were there, the lounge was only accessible to hotel guests, but I understand that after the grand opening of the Great Hall, the Cooper Lounge will be open to hotel guest during the day and to the public in the evenings.

The Cooper Lounge is furnished impeccably with a wide variety of light-colored upholstered chairs and couches. Fitting to its train station location, numerous vintage trunks and suitcases are mixed in amongst the seating.

We had a lovely time staying at the Crawford, and it was fun to have the opportunity to be among the very first to experience this brand new hotel and to explore Union Station even before its grand opening!

Now I can't wait to bring our boys down to play in the new fountains in front of Union Station some weekend soon!

I hope you enjoyed the tour! If you live in the Denver area, make sure you get down to Union Station to check out the renovated station and all of the transportation improvements. And for everyone else, come visit!

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