Favorite Posts from 2018

This has been a huge year for me in so many ways! Compiling this list made me realize even more just how much has happened this year and how much I’ve grown both personally and professionally. Most of all, I am thankful for our daughter Sage making me a mama this year! These last six months with my little family of three have been so wonderful. As a creative and entrepreneur, I also feel a renewed sense of purpose and direction because of the changes this year has brought. I’m looking forward to sharing more about that journey in the New Year! Here are my favorite blog posts from 2018, starting in January…

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June: Meet Sage

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What a year it’s been! Whether you found your way to my blog in 2018 or you’ve been here since the beginning, I want to say a big THANK YOU! It means so much to have your support and I’ve met so many kind-hearted, encouraging friends through blogging! I love creating and sharing in this little corner of the internet for you guys. Have a very Happy New Year!

10 Guest Bedroom Essentials

I remember when we lived in an apartment, I would dream about having a real guest bedroom to decorate someday. Then, when we bought our first home a few years ago, we ended up with three! One is being turned into a nursery very soon, but since we have ample room we find ourselves hosting overnight guests on a pretty regular basis. As such, I decided my 2014 post on 7 Guest Bedroom Essentials was in for a little update! Read on to see my new list of tips for how to put together a welcoming guest bedroom.

Idylwyld Project Guest Bedroom

1. Layered blankets

No matter what season it is, give your guests a variety of blankets to choose from. My go-to bed bedding combination is a duvet, a lightweight quilt and a throw blanket. Similarly, it's a good idea to have two sets of pillows to layer on a bed -- two on the softer side and two slightly firmer. I do the same thing on our bed because I like a soft pillow whereas my husband prefers something firmer. Give your guests some options to make them feel right at home!

2. Wifi password

One of the first things I want to do after spending long hours on the road is to plug my electronics in and check my email. Make it easy for your guests by sharing your home's wifi password with this cute printable I designed! It's kind of crazy, but this little printable has been repinned over 100K times on Pinterest. Can you believe it? Grab your copy below or shop my other printable designs here

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INSTRUCTIONS:

Click the buttons below to download your copy of my wifi password art print. I’m providing this digital print completely free, no email sign up required.

But if you like what we’ve created here and want to see more, I encourage you to check out my new free workbook, “My Secret to Inspired Productivity”, available as a free download exclusively for SSDC email list subscribers. Click here to learn more.

3. Cozy chair

If you have the space, it's always great to add some comfortable seating to your guest bedroom! We have a small settee across from the foot of the bed in ours, but an upholstered chair in a corner is a great option too. It gives guests a place to sit other than the bed and makes the whole room feel warmer and more inviting.

4. Spare set of house keys

We've hosted a lot of guests in the two and a half years we've owned our house. For guests staying for a longer visit or just crashing while they are in town for an event, we like to leave out a spare key. It gives our guests a little more autonomy with coming and going as they need to and just makes things easier! We have ours on a pretty leather tassel keychain I made so it's easy to spot!

5. Fresh towels

This one seems obvious, but there's nothing worse than realizing you forgot to do that load of laundry right when your guest wants to take a shower. Unfortunately, I know this from experience-- sorry, Ella! In the bustle of getting ready for houseguests, it's easy to forget something but make sure you have a couple nice, freshly laundered towels ready for when they arrive! I usually stack them in a pile on the foot of the bed or on the chair/settee.

6. Snacks

I always like to have some snack food at the ready when I have guests coming. My guests are always welcome to what's in the refrigerator, but guests feel more comfortable helping themselves to snacks that are already out and ready for munching. I keep a bowl of granola bars and crackers stocked in our kitchen but if you really want to make a good impression, a small tray with a carafe, drinking glass and a few snacks right in the guest bedroom is a really nice detail!

7. Reading material

I always have a supply of magazines like Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens, and I will usually leave a few of the current issues out when I know guests are coming over. I use hardcover and vintage books all around our house for styling, but I recently started keeping my collection of paperbacks in our guest bedroom too. This gives guests something to do if you are busy milling about the house preparing for a family gathering or celebration!

8. Wastebasket

Confession, we don't currently have a waste basket in our guest room but it's something I keep meaning to add to my shopping list! There's a lot of small trash that can be created when you're traveling and it's always more convenient when your guests don't have to go looking for a spot to throw something away. I like decorative wastebaskets with removable liners, like this one

9. Mirror

We used to have a mirror in our guest room, but things in our house are always moving around and now I'm on the hunt for a nice, affordable floor mirror to put next to the closet. Yes, there's the bathroom but it's a nice touch to give guests a spot to check their outfit or touch up their makeup before they leave the room. Plus, a pretty mirror can add so much light and energy to a space! Hang a smaller one over a dresser or desk, or lean a tall mirror up against the wall like I plan to do. 

10. Scented linen spray

In addition to washing all the bedding before I'm expecting a house guest, I like to add an extra boost of freshness when I'm making the bed with a naturally scented linen spray. You can definitely buy a premade spray, but I've started incorporating essential oils into my wellness and housekeeping routines over the last year or so and room sprays are so easy to whip up! I keep one in our room too to add some extra freshness to our bedding in between washes. I'll be sharing the DIY later this week!

What do you do to prep for house guests?

Comment below or on Instagram to share your tips! I love hosting friends and family in our home and I'm always looking for new ways to make things special for their visit!

Favorite Posts from 2017

Before this year passes, I wanted to take a look back at some of my favorite blog posts from 2017. It's funny because last year, I tried to narrow it down to 5 or 10 but came up with 11 and this year I counted the posts I wanted to highlight and it was exactly 11 too! I'm organizing them by the categories of Interior Design, Our Home, DIY Projects and My Life. 

INTERIOR DESIGN

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7 Tips for Decorating a Small Space - One question I get a lot is how to make the most of a room when square footage is limited. Whether it's an apartment, small home or just a room that isn't quite as big as you wish it was, there are a lot of ways to squeeze more function and style into a space while still keeping that perfect balance of elegant and collected. 

 

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The Three E's | My Design Philosophy - As a designer, I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes my point of view different. Why are my designs unique and what makes them worth sharing? Over the years, I've realized there are three overarching themes that tie all of the spaces I create together and describe the mindset of how I approach interior design as a whole. Those words are Elegant, Eclectic and Essential and in this post, I explain what those words mean to me. 

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24 Hour Apartment Makeover Project - Back in May, I was hired for quite an interesting project! My client wanted to restyle her downtown apartment to make it a stand out listing on Airbnb. The only catch was, her first guests were coming in just a couple of days so I had one full day to complete this project from start to finish and was limited to just the stores we have locally here in York. These before and after photos really show what a difference styling and accessories can make!

 

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Bridgeton Project Master Bedroom Design Process - I feel terrible that I still haven't shared the reveal photos for this space but trust me, it's beautiful! These clients live in a lovely ranch home in the country, surrounded by woods and cornfields. For their master bedroom, we went with a cozy, neutral and rustic design that I just L-O-V-E! They are the sweetest couple and the husband is a very talented carpenter! He made all of the dressers and nightstands by hand, plus he made real tongue and groove shiplap for the accent wall and completely brought my vision to life! 

 

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Idylwyld Project Guest Bedroom Introduction & Guest Bedroom Reveal - This project was another dream come true to complete! I designed this moody, industrial guest bedroom for a cool young couple here in York. They had a smaller, northwest facing bedroom that got limited natural light so we really amped up the cozy factor with a deep blue-gray wall color and eclectic, antique and vintage-inspired accents. I wish I could copy and paste this guest bedroom into our house!


OUR HOME

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Living Room Progress | Modern English Country Style - We've continued to chip away at many home improvement projects this year, but by far the room that feels the most complete is our living room. Earlier this year, I made some tweaks that I am really loving like adding this new leather arm chair, switching out the art and getting a few new pillow covers. The room feels really cozy and peaceful now, which is exactly what I wanted!

 

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Dining Room Progress | Antique Meets Midcentury - I also shared an update on our dining room, which is now being renovated to become my new home office! I'll be mostly recreating this look in the smaller room next door but I have a few new pieces I'm really excited about like this gorgeous print set from Laurie Anne Art & Design and a vintage hutch I'll be repainting. It makes me a little sad to see these photos now, because I really loved this room as our dining room but I'm excited to have a bigger office as the headquarters for Stevie Storck Design Co.!


DIY PROJECTS

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DIY Monogram Embroidery Hoop + Free Pattern!  - Right after Christmas last year I picked up a new hobby of embroidery! I made these little monogram hoops as "Galentine's Day" gifts for my best friends. They are so simple and fun to make! A great project if you are just trying embroidery for the first time! 


MY LIFE

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5 Little Habits for a Brighter, Happier Day - One of my big goals for 2017 was to slow down and take better care of myself. In March, I shared 5 things I added to my daily routine to help me feel my best. Many times throughout the year, when I was having a day where I felt off or just down for no reason many times I realized that it was because I had skipped doing all or some of these things. I shared my 5 little happiness boosters in hopes that it will inspire you to find your own ways to add more self-care into your days!

 

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26 - Every year on my birthday, I interview myself here on the blog. It's fun to see how my answers change from year to year! I'll be honest, the first few months of 2017 were particularly rough for me. Hence why my birthday post was written two months late and why I put such a big emphasis on self-care! One thing I'm learning about life is that the challenging times are just as important and worth remembering as the good times. It's a personal goal of mine to always find the beauty in the struggles. Sometimes the silver lining comes right away and other times it takes patience and healing to see the upside. Optimism is undervalued in our society, but I think optimists are the strongest, bravest, most resilient people out there. 

 

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Four Years + Some Big News! - Just last month, I shared our annual anniversary/family portraits and Baby Storck made their official blog debut! Now that I'm past the worst of it, I'm working on a first trimester update to share in the new year. If you're into that kind of stuff and have any pregnancy related questions for me, send them my way! It's hard to believe I'm already almost 18 weeks along. We'll be finding out if it's a boy or girl in early January and we are so excited to really start getting things ready for him or her. 


It's been quite the year here at Stevie Storck Design Co.! Now, I have a question for you?

What would you like to see more of in 2018?

More interior design tips? More before & afters? More personal posts? I'm writing a list of blog post ideas for the new year and I would love to have your input! Thank you for following along!

How to Shop for Thrifted & Secondhand Furniture

Thrift stores are a budget decorator's best friend. Pinterest makes it all look so easy-- from thrift store furniture makeovers to buying valuable vintage pieces at a steal. In reality, second-hand shopping savvy is a skill that takes some practice! If you're frustrated about repeatedly coming home empty handed from your thrifting attempts, this post is for you! 

If you're new to the blog, let me start by saying that  I'm all about creating a beautiful home without blowing your budget. Click here to read one of my most popular posts, How-To Furnish Your First Home Without Going Into Debt. I'm often asked by friends and family members how I manage to score such awesome thrift store finds when all they see is junk. 

Well, I'm here to tell you it's not some special gift I was born with. My second-hand shopping success can be boiled down to these 5 tips I'm about to share with you. Read on to learn how to better shop a thrift store and find the best used furniture deals. 

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Leather Chair, Drawer End Table, Lamp - Craigslist | Mirrors & Books - Various thrift stores

1. Know Where to Shop 

At this point, I have a regular thrifting route of local shops that are my go-to's. You'll always find the best deals at places like Salvation Army, Community Aid, Habitat for Humanity Restore, and any local thrift stores and salvage shops in your area. The next tier would be consignment shops (here in York we have Finders Keepers!) whose prices are a little higher but they are much more selective about what they accept so you have a better chance of finding something good. After that, I'll stop by more boutique-style resale shops and antique stores that may have a selection of booths from different vendors. These shops are the most curated, and therefore have generally the highest price tags when it comes to secondhand furniture and home decor. But you'll still pay way less than what you would new and more importantly, you save time in looking.

I usually fit in thrifting when I'm out running other errands, or when I have a couple hours free during the day. But if you are new to thrifting and planning to visit a bunch of new stores, I would recommend doing a little research ahead of time. Thrift store hours can be weird, so always check what days and times they are open before you go! Calling ahead to see what day new items arrive, or if they have any weekly specials (like 50% off Wednesdays) can also help you plan your trip.  Of course, there are also online options, like Craigslist and now Facebook Marketplace which I've had great luck with as well. Those I tend to check anywhere from a couple times a week, to daily depending on if I'm actually looking for something or not. 

2. Know How to Shop

When I'm shopping at locally, I usually make two loops around the store, the first one focusing on big items like upholstery and wood furniture and the second focusing on "smalls" like lamps, accessories and artwork. I make a mental note of items I like, but I don't make any decisions until after the second loop. By that time, I've seen hundreds of pieces, so if I am still thinking about one or two in particular then I take that as a good sign I should buy them. 

When I'm shopping online, I have a few tricks for finding the hidden gems. First, you want to know which categories to look in. You might think that area rugs would fall under "Furniture", but some sellers list them under "Household". On Craigslist specifically, I will usually browse Furniture, Antiques, Household, Free and Arts & Crafts in that order. I also filter the results by checking the boxes for "has image" and "posted today" whether I've searched for a specific item or am just browsing a whole category to save myself some scrolling. When typing in search terms, it's good to try out a few different options since many types of furniture can be called by different names. General terms often cast the widest net and help you find the diamond in the rough. You might be looking for a midcentury modern teak dining table, but if a seller has those words in the listing that means they know what they have and are probably charging a premium price for it. You're looking for the grandmas and grandpas cleaning out their basement and having their teenage grandson list the items under simple words like "table". 

Tip: Know the store's pricing policies before you go. Generally, at thrift stores and consignment shops the pricing is firm. Some antique stores will let you negotiate, especially smaller ones but at larger ones with multiple vendors it can be tricky. If you're shopping on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, definitely negotiate!! If you think something is overpriced, point out why and offer them what you think it's worth. Even if the asking price is fair, I usually start by offering around 80%. The worst they can say is no.

3. Look for Good Bones

While you can find plenty of things in great condition, many secondhand items are in a gently used to very used state and could use a little love. I try to look past the fabrics and finishes and just look at the size and shape of each piece. A coat of paint can do wonders to transform a chair, a dresser or even a lamp. Old, thirsty wood can usually be revived with a nice coat of danish oil or Restor A Finish. Dining chair fabric is just about the easiest DIY reupholstery job. And if you can get a really good deal on a chair or sofa, having it redone with new fabric will still put you ahead of box store prices plus, chances are the piece will be better quality than what you could afford new. Which leads me to...

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Antique Piano - free on Craigslist | Vintage midcentury modern table - handed down from family | Art, Lamp, Baskets & Vase - Various thrift stores

4. Know Signs of Quality

There are a few hallmarks of quality construction when shopping for upholstered and wood furniture. I don't go out looking for high value antiques, although if I find them- great! I look for stylish, quality pieces that will actually get used, so here are the main 3 things I pay attention to:

  • Check for shop marks in common places, like inside drawers or on the bottom of a piece. If you find a name, do a quick Google Search on your phone to learn more.
  • "The Jiggle Test". Test out the construction of any piece by giving it a light jiggle. This works for wood and upholstered pieces,which have wood frames underneath the layers of fabric and cushioning. If a little movement makes the piece feel unstable, or if you can hear a lot of creaking and loose joints (called "racking"), I would probably pass on the item unless you want a project!
  •  Pay attention to the details, like if the piece you are looking at has drawers check to see if they are dovetailed. They are usually the most visible joinery in a wood piece and are a sign of quality in construction. Look at a piece from every angle, open the doors, sit on it (if it's something you would sit on!), see how every part and feature functions to get a good idea of what condition it's in and if you would need to put any work into it. 

5. Be Consistent!

The number one reason I have success with second hand shopping is that I do it frequently! Sometimes I'll find nothing, and other times I'll have a whole carload. That's just how thrifting works. When I am specifically in the market to buy something, I shop the same couple of stores up to 3-4 times per month. Even when I'm not, I go about once a month just to see what new. And like I said before, I browse online anywhere from a few times a week to multiple times in one day. No matter what anyone tells you, there are really no "good" thrift stores. It's always a gamble whether you'll find something or not, so if you're hoping to furnish your house with mostly secondhand pieces then thrifting has to become a part of your lifestyle!

What tips do you have for thrift store shopping? Did you score something awesome recently? 

I like to hang out on Instagram, so connect with me there to see my latest finds and tell me about yours! @steviestorck

This post was updated in March 2018, originally published in March 2016.