Home Reno 911: Moodboards

I live in a warzone.

Let me back up.

I live in a construction zone—it just sounds like combat when the compressors are whirring. What are they “compressing” anyway?

Starting last summer, we’ve been getting an addition put onto our house courtesy of our Supreme Leaders, aka my in-laws. This is my first experience working with contractors, plumbers, and electricians, and let me tell you, it’s not fun! My father-in-law is doing a ton of the work himself, but as he is only a human man, needs occasional help.

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porch demolition, courtesy of joe & jp

The dig is that we lost our side porch (which was the main entrance we used to get into our house) and a few windows, but we’re gaining a bathroom, a large mudroom, a few extra feet of space in our living room, a pantry, and a built-in bookshelf. So, no complaints here! I’m so excited for all the changes to come!

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new house who dis

Where that giant rock pit is now, basically, is a brand-new house! The entire thing has been re-sided in a cream-colored vinyl (*insert apathy emoji*), but I have to admit it looks pretty snazzy. Pics to follow once Massachusetts is no longer covered in a thin layer of melted snow and filth.

I basically live on Pinterest now, planning our new digs. I get to build a bathroom, a mudroom, and a pantry from scratch! Below are some of the purchases I’ve already made, and a bunch of inspiration for my decorating moving forward!

Bathroom

These are a few of the items I’ve already purchased for our new bathroom. I’m going for an all black-and-white look, with occasional brass accents. The first picture is a Paris cafe print that I’m obsessed with—hopefully by the time the bathroom’s up and running, I’ll have actually been to Paris. I included two pictures of our vanity because a. it’s cute, and b. the other picture had a cactus in it, and that is the most me thing to ever happen. I love the matte black faucets we bought…I wanted to stay away from the traditional chrome (although our shower door handles will be chrome unless I can spray them to match).

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Bathroom Inspiration

I want the bathroom to be a super clean, modern space. I love the hexagonal tile above, but I’m also considering black and white penny tile. I am obsessed with the idea of a sliding barn door, since the bathroom is fairly small and the door would eliminate some wall space.

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Mudroom

I haven’t bought much for the mudroom yet, since we’ll have to make a few big storage purchases and the room isn’t even close to finished, but I did buy these prints, which are only mildly inaccurate, to be placed opposite the entrance, sharing a charcoal gray wall with the bathroom door. And the rainbow mat? C’mon. The cutest.

Mudroom Inspiration

I LOVE the idea of locker storage in the mudroom to help keep clutter off the floor. I want the entryway to be a bright, cheery space that welcomes us home every day. I plan to keep the area neutral and soothing. And I know I already have a mat, but that hedgehog one might be too cute to pass up!

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Pantry

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gwyneth freaking paltrow’s pantry

The pantry in question is still our current bathroom, and need to be gutted before it can be used. It probably won’t be functional for at least 6 months, but a girl can dream, right? My favorite chicas over at The Home Edit post THE best pantry inspiration. Now, if only I could afford to hire them to style my entire life…

Pantry Wishlist

I am already pretty psychotically organized, but anything to make my life MORE organized is welcome! I’m salivating over The Container Store‘s gear: I might actually invest in that gorgeous $350 pantry kit…it’s stunning. And finally having adequate storage for my beautiful kitchen appliances is a dream come true.

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Thanks for letting me dream and scheme! Follow along with my journey using the hashtag #homereno911 on Instagram!

xoxo,

c

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It’s Business Time

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Friends, countrymen: As I mentioned in a post this summer, I have an office job! We’re all student employees, so, baby steps, but the department is cracking down on professional, “business casual” dress. It’s been a while since I’ve done a style post (and it’ll be a while before I do another (mama put on that post-wedding weight), but faithful followers know how I dress. I’m basically a spokeswoman for Madewell. Ripped jeans are my life. I own one blazer.

Luckily, my mom was game to take me shopping for a few office-appropriate dresses to tide me over. But I’m viewing this new dress code as an opportunity to overhaul my entire wardrobe. Since I’m officially going gray (more on that later), I should probably own more than slogan tees. Unfortunately, guidelines about women’s business casual are pretty vague, and range anywhere from “don’t be a slob” to “buy a bunch of skirt suits”. The only resource I’ve found so far that’s been remotely helpful is this list. Refinery 29 also put out a list, but it’s a bit high fashion for working in public schools. Like, I’m not getting away with a silk jumpsuit.

Here’s the thing: there is no such thing as a set business casual dress code for women. For men, it’s shockingly simple—a polo or button-down over khakis. Done. It’s industry standard. But women*, whose wardrobes tend to be more diverse (let’s change that, though #teamromphim), have a lot more at stake, both because of the uncertainty of what’s appropriate and because of the general lack of understanding of men*, colleagues and bosses. Additionally, every workplace is completely different, and some are far more conservative than others. Suddenly, skirt length and neckline depth come into play.

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i obviously play pretty fast-and-loose with the rules (this was my halloween costume tbh). top is oui fresh, bottoms are madewell

So, here are a few of my tried-and-true favorite pieces and combinations to help ease you into adulting!

High-Necked Dresses

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this loft sweater dress is a dream!

The high-necked dress can’t fail. Conservative, stylish, and diverse, this is the #1 best option for women in the workplace, imo.

Tips: avoid strapless or spaghetti-strap looks, keep the hemline close to the knee

This Madewell sweater dress is #goals.

This JCrew stunner is on my wishlist.

Living for this cobalt blue number.

Blazer/Tank/Jeans

A casual/cool riff on the suit, this look is easy and super stylish. Make sure your jeans are a dark wash, and that the tank isn’t too revealing!

This tank, with these jeans and this blazer would be adorable!

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Bodysuit & Midi-Skirt

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this look is killer

To tuck or not to tuck—that is the question. Tucking in shirts is a terrible curse. I honestly don’t know how guys do it every day. Inevitably, you get fabric-bunch and spend the entire day stealthily readjusting to avoid lumps and bumps. Plus, if your top’s not long enough, it falls out constantly. Enter, my great love, the bodysuit. Goodbye, lumps! The bodysuit’s design keeps your top looking sleek and in place all day. Pair it with a midi-skirt for maximum cuteness.

Tip: Tall girls—size up! Bodysuit proportions are definitely made for the vertically-challenged. I’m a size S/M and I always order a large for a flawless fit. #longtorsoproblems

Madewell’s body suits are bar none the best.

This skirt is too good. Loft sure knows how to make a skirt!

Classic Blouse (or sweater!) & Trousers

How can you possibly go wrong with this combo? Bonus points for high-waisted pants with tucked-in shirttails!

This blouse from the Who What Wear line at Target would look amazing with some cream or khaki pants!

Or this sweater and these pants? *faints*

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But what about SHOES?!

This is still an area I struggle with. I’ve spent years putting together a dope sneaker collection, and now all my sweet kicks are collecting dust. I tend to fall back on the same few pairs over and over again, but I’m trying to vary my shoe game.

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Strappy Sandals

These are perfect for summer! Avoid super-high heels, since comfort is the main objective. My tip is to invest in one super nice pair that you can wear to events and one everyday pair that looks nice but is secretly cheap enough to replace after a long summer. Get one black pair and one saddle—you’ll thank me.

Here’s your cheapo pair!

And here’s your splurge! Seychelles makes the best sandals ever.

Flats

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ella pump evangelist, party of one

Flats, or shoes with a small heel (less than 2″) are great for sedentary jobs. Opt for a leather/pleather or suede finish for ultimate polish.

These Madewell pumps are the comfiest heels ever. I’m wearing them in the pic above.

These are the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

These are absurdly cheap and very comfortable.

Loafers

Loafers, oxfords, or (nice) moccasins are a super comfy way to class up an outfit.

These are snazzy and would go with everything.

These are the actual cutest (and they come in pink!)

Boots

I’m in Massachusetts where the weather has the potential to be terrible during any season, so boots are a wardrobe must. Make sure you have at least one black and one brown pair. Also, peep toes are awesome for the early fall!

This quilted look is adorbs!

I own boots similar to these (same brand), and they are comfy, chic, and go with everything.

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Office environments vary, but I guarantee if you’re in a relatively chill field like higher ed, this will help you conquer the first-job what-the-hell-do-I-wear?! blues. Just don’t forget your BOSS necklace!

 

 

*It should be noted that when I write “men” or “women” I refer to all those who identify as such and am not trying to enforce an outdated gender-binary system. Biology ≠ gender.

Expectations vs. Reality: Wedding Registries

There are about 940 million listicles, articles, and blog posts about what to register for at Bed Bath & Beyond or Williams-Sonoma before you get married. It also seems like every store (Target! Anthropologie!) offers a registry, making the whole process convoluted and time-consuming. Should I go cute or practical? Is this a wish-list or a needs-list? Do I really need 30 kinds of serveware when I’ve never invited a guest over in my life?

Well, both, both, and probably not.

I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. Brides that have been training competitively for this event since grade school, and brides that have lived with their significant other for years and have a fully-functioning household. Some brides need to have the perfect modern-chic flatware (in gold!) and some are totally at a loss with a scanner at Macy’s.

I tiptoe the line between both of these “types”, so I thought I’d share my experiences in the world of registries.

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have your cake and eat it too

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I love to cook. It is my passion. I hate that I don’t have more time for it (and a kitchen crew to clean up after me). When I was a little kid, I remember going into home goods stores and dreaming of the day I’d get to pick out my very own plates (I was very into sunny yellow Southwestern-style pottery then; I’ve become a minimalist in my old age). For me, this dream was not associated in any way with a man or a wedding. Having my own supplies meant freedom, adulthood, and self-sufficiency. I assumed that one day I’d be fabulously wealthy, having published a string of acclaimed YA novels, and I could buy my own damn plates.

How does that Alanis song go? Life has a funny, funny way…

I never became an author, and, at 25, am most-certainly-freaking-not fabulously wealthy. I have lived with my fiancé for 3 years, and we have a fully-functioning household and kitchen. So, when I went to register for gifts, my inner child who wanted all the things did battle with my independent feminist adult self who felt all the guilt about asking for a new colander when the Ikea one she had worked perfectly fine.

So, I did the reasonable thing and asked some other recent brides for their perspectives. When in doubt: ask! Talking to my sister-in-law (who got married in 2014) was the biggest help. She’d already been through it; she knew the etiquette.

Ultimately, my registry & bridal shower experiences were really positive, and I learned a lot. None of my guests went broke spoiling me, but each and every one of them made me very happy and showed me immense generosity.

Tips for a Happy Registry

  1. Be yourself, and be reasonable. Register for things you need and you will use. Ignore the lists that come in the bridal books. If you’re a top-notch baker, get you a KitchenAid, girl. If you did a few-year stint at Starbucks in college, register for that fancy espresso machine! You know how to use it! But if the thought of reading through owner’s manuals and attempting to clean a juicer freaks you out, keep it simple. Get some cute curtains for your living room. Let each choice reflect your actual lifestyle, not your aspirational one.
  2. Cover your bases before you dream big. If you really want a designer duvet, but you don’t even have a ladle, let the practical take priority. Thus, have a good selection of super cheap (salt & pepper shakers) and super expensive (a Dyson). This is a plus for you and your guests! Since your registry items will be hand-picked by you, you’ll appreciate them all. One of my favorite gifts was an $8 creamer shaped like a cow—the cutest!
  3. Consider region when registering. I know the internet has all the things and that physical space and distance no longer matter, but I guarantee that you have older family members that aren’t tech savvy. Make sure at least one of your registries is with an easy-to-get-to store. Targets are everywhere. There is a Bed Bath & Beyond in every state. You can do your dream registry, for sure, but be considerate of your guests’ technological abilities.
  4. Keep an eye on your registry online. If you’re anything like me, you woke up the morning after getting engaged and immediately set up a registry. But things change a lot in a year (or 6 months…or 6 weeks!), so you’ve got to keep it updated! Also, some people will look at your registry and buy you the same items from other stores—make sure you remove these items from your registry to avoid duplicates!
  5. Save every. last. receipt. You’re going to return things! You’ll probably even return things that you wanted! I ended up having to return a super-cute margarita set and 2 sets of martini glasses because I had other more pressing household needs (plus, no storage space for all that glassware). Also, save appliance boxes (or at least the barcodes and serial numbers), because you never know when you’ll be eligible for a rebate!
  6. Have fun. It’s supposed to be fun! What’s more fun than presents? However, if the thought of having to inventory your glassware makes you die inside, then screw the registry altogether! Your wedding is about you, your partner, and exactly no one else—tradition be damned!

Stay tuned for my Top 10 Registry Picks! 

—DellaBites

Wallet Woes: Home Décor Edition

Like any American 20-something with a pulse, I love Target in a big, big way. I don’t buy my clothes, accessories, and food there, but basically everything else I need to live comes from Target. I have one on the way home from work AND 5 minutes down the road from my house, so I’m pretty much doomed. I’m boxed in!

 

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This cutie is now making my bathroom.

 

As a young (read: broke) person living on her own, I have to weigh a lot of options before I make big décor purchases. Décor necessarily falls into the “wants” not “needs” category, so decorating my home has taken me over 2 years and it’s still not nearly where I want it to be. Target has been an invaluable resource for buying things that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive, like lighting fixtures and rugs. There’s always some sort of deal going on!

 

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This bath mat. I mean, bitches love geometric patterns, amirite?

 

Piece by piece, our little home is coming together. Nate Berkus for Target has really helped with that. Affordable pieces with a high-end feel are my jam right now.

I chose to redo the bathroom, as it’s been the most neglected room in the house. Seriously…even with cleaning. It’s messed up. I decided it was time to pretty-fy. It is amazing how much making a space pretty will affect my desire to clean.

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I committed to this hue because, hello, pink towels. My bathroom is all black & white (and gold, thanks soap dispenser!), so I thought that a dark blush color story would be the perfect pop!

The bedroom also got a bit of a makeover. I bought this amazing rug in its 6′ round style and damn, is it plushy and perf. Della obviously approves.

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My office is still the ultimate work-in-progress, but little details like this letter sorter and my kick-ass lamp from Urban Outfitters really make it feel like an actual room worthy of an actual adult.

 

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I mean, does this letter sorter not give you LIFE?

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Also, who doesn’t need a banner of copper triangles above their office? I mean, come on.

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Piece by piece, the house is coming together. On Friday, my grandmother surprised me with my bridal shower and wedding presents: a new refrigerator and a new living room set! This week will bring a lot of changes, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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My new sectional is modern AF. It’s a leather-alternative with tons of storage and adjustable headrests. We got the matching storage ottoman as well. So excited to chuck our cat-hair infested hand-me-down couch!

 

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So. Much. Storage. DUDE. No more coffee table for the Figs!

So, it appears that my house is black, white, and gold with occasional pops of mustard, blush, and turquoise. I can’t say I saw that coming, but it happened organically, so it’s from the heart. Decorating our house has been the most time-consuming, eternal endeavor, but I’m having the best time.

What are your favorite décor shops?

–DellaBites