This has been a huge year for me in so many ways! 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…Read more
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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 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!
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!
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.
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!
Around the 1st of the year, I picked up embroidery as a new hobby. Having grown up with a SUPER crafty grandmother & great-grandmother, I had done a little embroidery before but it was the work of Sarah K Benning that really got me into the idea of "contemporary" embroidery. Since then, I've started following a ton of embroidery artists on Instagram (Muted Rose Mercantile & Emillie Ferris are two favorites!) and have gotten inspired to create my own patterns, just for fun!
I recently made these cute monogram embroidery hoops to give to my friends as a "Galentine's Day" gift. They were so simple and easy to make! You only need two types of stitches to make these, so even if you're new to embroidery they are totally doable! For anyone wanting to give this DIY a try, I'm offering a free PDF pattern download at the end of this post.
What You'll Need
4 inch embroidery hoop
White cotton fabric
Black embroidery floss
Optional: I wanted to make my hoops a little fancier, so I spray painted just the outer hoops metallic gold. You could choose any color you like or leave the wood bare. If you do paint, make sure you give the hoop plenty of time to dry before you stretch your fabric. Since you'll be handling it a lot, I recommend letting it dry overnight!
Ok, here we go!
Start of by cutting a square of fabric about 6"x 6" and stretch it tightly onto your hoop. Cut out your pattern and trim to fit inside the back of the hoop. To trace your pattern onto the fabric, I've found holding it up to a window or light make it much easier to see through the fabric. Trace the pattern lightly with a pencil or fine-tip pen. Your stitches will completely cover your pencil/pen marks, but try to keep them neat and straight to make your stitching work easier.
Next, thread your needle using 2 strands of embroidery floss. For embroidery newbies: floss is made up of 6 individual strands. Floss is very thick, so you usually don't use all 6 threads at the same time. The way I do it is the first cut a length of thread about 30"-36" in length. Separate out your two threads by pulling gently, and set aside the remaining 4 threads to use later. Thread the two strands through the eye of your needle, and then fold your thread in half making a small knot at the end. Since you've double it over, you'll end up stitching with 4 strands which is exactly what you'll need for both stitches in this pattern.
Next, stitch the outline of your letter using a split stitch (click here for a great video tutorial). A split stitch will help the lines look straighter. Don't worry too much if you're lines aren't perfect, it just adds to the handmade charm!
Once you have your outlines stitches, you can fill in the rest of the letter using a simple satin stitch (click here for the video tutorial).
To finish your hoop & prepare it for hanging, first make sure the fabric is stretched tightly and the top pin is secure. Then trim the excess fabric away from your hoop, leaving about 1/4- 1/2" around the diameter of the hoop. Run a small bead of craft glue on the back of the inside hoop, fold over your fabric and press into the glue. This video tutorial uses hot glue, but shows the same method.
As I mentioned earlier, I made these hoops as gifts for my friends so I figured I'd show you how I wrapped them up to take them to our Galentine's Day dinner out! I tied little sprigs of greenery up with white twine and made personalized embossed name tags with my new favorite tool, this $8 label maker! (affiliate link). I've had mine for about a month now and I'm slowly labeling anything and everything in our house. I love the vintage look the embossing gives, much more charming than a plain printed label!
How to Download Your Free PDF
I've created a 13 page PDF with patterns for every letter from A-Z, so you can print just the page or pages you need. To access your FREE DOWNLOAD of my Monogram Embroidery Pattern PDF file, just sign up for email updates from me using the form below. A message with the link to your free printable will automatically appear below after you hit submit.
Click the buttons below to download your copy of my monogram embroidery patterns. I’m providing these printable patterns 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 workbook, “My Secret to Inspired Productivity”, available as a free download exclusively for SSDC email list subscribers. Click here to learn more.
If you try this DIY, I would love to see! Tag me on Instagram @steviestorck and use the hashtag #SSDCdiy
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.
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...
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.
When we bought our first home this past spring, we moved from a 1-bedroom apartment with approximately 600 square feet. Needless to say, the little bit of furniture we owned didn't go very far towards furnishing a 4-bedroom, 2,210 square foot house.
As a new homeowner, I understand the temptation to run up credit cards and charge accounts with furniture stores so your home can be decorated and finished as quickly as possible. However, my husband and I are committed to furnishing our home completely debt-free. Here's how we're doing it:
1. Rank rooms by priority and tackle your decorating in stages
There's no rule that says your house must be completely furnished 6 months, or even a year after you move in. A house is a longterm commitment. Slow down and let your decorating happen at a relaxed pace. Number one: you'll have better ideas because you won't feel so rushed and number two: you'll give yourself time to save up for big purchases.
For us, our first priority was the living room since it's where we will spend the majority of our non-sleeping time at the house. After that it was the dining room and next up will be our master bedroom.
2. Accept hand-me-downs (after considering these 3 things)
It is possible to incorporate hand-me-down furniture in your new home while still creating a cohesive space, but you're going to have to be a little selective. If your experience is anything like ours, news will spread like wildfire that you are buying your first house and soon even distant relatives, your parents coworkers, and casual acquaintances will be offering up their old furniture to help you get started. While it's such a kind and generous gesture on their part, if you aren't thoughtful about what you accept, you could end up with way too much furniture and not love any of it. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Is this piece in good working condition?
Does it fit my style and/or can it be modified with new stain, paint, knobs, etc. to work with the design I have in mind?
Can I think of exactly which spot and in which room I would use it?
If you hesitate on answering any of these three questions, there's probably a piece out there that's a better fit for your space. Which leads me to...
3. Add Craigslist to your bookmarks bar
I'm at the point where I can't even count the number of things in my home that I bought off Craigslist. Searching through new listings on CL is a much a part of my daily routine as putting on deodorant or checking my email. You can score absolute gems on Craigslist, but the key is patience and consistency. You may not find what you are looking for the first time on the site, but if you keep checking back over the course of a few weeks, your odds of finding the perfect piece are much better. Don't be afraid to negotiate price and of course, be safe! Research the neighborhood before you go, bring a friend, and try to schedule pick ups in during the daylight hours and in a public place if at all possible. Use your best judgment, if you are at all uncomfortable during your interactions online or in person with a seller, leave the situation immediately.
4. When buying new, ask for a cash discount
While I get the majority of my casegoods (wood pieces) second-hand, there are two things I highly suggest saving up for and buying new: mattresses and your living room sofa. Aside from the obvious sanitary reason for purchasing a mattress new, did you know that the lifespan for most mattresses is only 8 years? Even if your old college mattress still feels semi-comfortable, there's a good chance that it's not giving your spine the proper support that it needs. None of us are getting any younger, so do what you can to avoid unnecessary back aches and discomfort while you still can!
After your mattress, your living room sofa is probably going to get the most use out of any other furniture piece in your home. You don't want to go bottom of the barrel for this purchase or you'll end up with a sagging, uncomfortable sofa by this time next year. When shopping at furniture stores, ask about durability and how many years of use you can expect to get from the different sofa brands they carry. Avoid any 0% interest financing offers and instead ask if they offer a discount if you pay for your purchase with cash or check. It might not be a very big discount, but it will be even easier to relax on that new sofa knowing it is paid for in full.
DAILY HABITS FOR AN INSPIRED LIFE
If you like what you just read and want more of my tips on intentional living, 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.
There's a new trend sweeping the design world: Spanish cement tile.
Actually, encaustic cement tiles (as they are widely known throughout the world) have been around since the 1850s, so they are hardly a new thing. What makes them different from normal clay or porcelain tiles is that they are not fired, and there is no layer of glaze on the surface of the tile. The result is a matte, porous, handmade tile that can be sealed or allowed to age and patina over time.
While historically these patterned tiles were fairly colorful, manufacturers today are making a wide range of solid and neutral patterned designs that give a modern edge to this old-world material.
I have to admit, part of me sees these gorgeous tiles and thinks of the highly patterned linoleum flooring that was so popular in the 1960's and 70's. Patterned floors can be pretty polarizing. But with a natural, matte finish and in neutral patterns, I think this look is pretty classic.
What do you think?
Would you consider using cement tiles in your kitchen or bathroom? Or do you think 10 years from now, these people will be wondering what in the world they were thinking?
Share your opinion in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
Before we even closed on our home, I knew for certain what color I wanted to paint our living room.
My parents thought I was crazy, my coworkers were intrigued and luckily, Anthony was all for it! I’ve always been a fan of dark paint colors. I painted the bathroom of our last apartment a pretty navy color. For our new home, I was inspired by these photos I found on Pinterest of rooms with ultra dark walls.
Dark walls feel so cozy! They immediately take a large space and make it feel more intimate. It’s commonly thought that dark colors will make space look smaller, but in my experience it has the exact opposite effect. Dark colors recede visually, so they seem further away. This makes the room look even bigger!
I knew I wanted to go further than just a charcoal. I wanted an ultra dark, off-black color. So I got samples of Sherwin Williams Black Fox (a warm black), Iron Ore (a black with blue and green undertones) and Urbanze Bronze (a warm black/brown). Once I had the samples up, it was almost immediate. Iron Ore was the winner! I loved the way the blue and green undertones tied it into the other colors in my Whole House Color Scheme. Now that the living room has been painted for a couple of months, I love it even more. In some light, Iron Ore takes on an almost navy hue. It's such a cozy, relaxing color to be surrounded by. It's the perfect color for our living room!
Have I convinced you to come to do the dark side?? If you are ready to try an ultra dark paint color in your home, here are my top recommendations:
Do you have a favorite ultra dark paint color? Share it in the comments below!
I know what you guys are thinking. (At least those of you who have been following this blog for a while...) "Stevie, you told us you were buying a house way back in April. When do we get to see it?!?!?"
I've really been slacking in the house tour department, and I'm sorry. To be honest, I started the first draft of this post back in June but because I didn't do an amazing job of taking photos before we started doing things, I was struggling with how best to organize a digital house tour. Especially when many of our rooms are still empty, even though it's now been 5 months since we moved in. So these photos are a combination of crappy photos I stole from the online listing, plus better photos that I've taken in stages over the last few months. I'm also sharing some of our plans for each room in the form of a punch list. If it's in italics, that means it's done!
Get your scrolling muscles ready, this is going to be a long one!
Our house was built in 1903 and has the look of a farmhouse, even though it's right in town. I love the look of the black shutters against the white siding and the wrap around porch is what dreams are made of. I took these photos before Anthony had a chance to pressure wash the siding, so rest assured that our house doesn't look quite so grimy today! I also pruned the rose bush after work one day and went around ripping off all the weeds growing on the side of our house.
We have a lot planned for the outside of our house. Eventually, I would like to replace the siding since it's currently mismatched vinyl and aluminum, but in the meantime we want to:
- Patch and paint the porch floor
- Paint both front doors
- Possibly paint porch ceiling (still debating)
- Build planter boxes for the front windows
- Hang our porch swing
- Plant some flower beds along the front and side
Here are the posts I've written about the exterior of our house so far:
It may not have been updated since the 1960's, but there is a lot to love about our new kitchen! The peninsula is a great work station, and I love that it has it's own exterior door with a small porch. I also love how spacious it is-- we have plenty of space to work when we eventually do a full remodel. A good scrubbing was all we needed to get our kitchen into working order.
We're not planning to do any major remodeling in here for probably another 5 years, but I have some inexpensive ideas for a mini-remodel that will take our kitchen to the next level:
- Remove cabinet above fridge so we can push the fridge back
- Remove lower cabinets to left of sink and install dishwasher
- Remove upper cabinets to left of sink and install open shelving
- Paint walls, trim & ceiling
- Paint cabinets
- Install new hinges and hardware
- Install new faux concrete countertops and add overhang to peninsula
- Install a creative, temporary backsplash
I forgot to take photos before we started painting the dining room, so here's a bad, blurry photo from the online listing and a couple from right after we painted. I know separate dining rooms have become less popular in recent years, but I am so excited to have one. We are already using it a lot for dinners and game nights! My favorite thing about the dining room is probably the enormous closet with built in shelves-- perfect for our collection of board games.
My plan for the dining room is to mix it up and pair antique, midcentury and modern styles. I want it to look like we've lived here since the house was built 112 years ago, and collected our furniture over the decades. I'm hoping the outcome will be a cool, cohesive and casual space to gather with family and friends. Or it could just look like the inside of a thrift store... I'll keep you posted! Our to do list for the dining room:
- Paint ceiling, walls & trim
- Obtain an awesome antique piano, for free preferably
- Install a new light fixture
- Order new chairs to go with our midcentury table
- Find some sort of server/buffet/credenza for the back wall
- Replace mini blinds with nicer window treatments
- DIY some large scale abstract art
I also forgot to take a proper before picture of the living room! But I've included some nice "during" photos for your viewing pleasure, after this photo I stole from the listing. The living room is nice and spacious, but is lacking the character you would expect in a house this age.
This living room is my current labor of love. Yes, that's dark spot between the windows is the sample paint. We painted this room BLACK! More specifically, Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams. It looks fancy and wonderful and I can't wait to show you some updated photos. Here's the plan:
- Paint walls & trim
- Paint upholstery of gold chairs using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Thanks, Pinterest!)
- Install art shelves
- Do something cool with the ceiling
- Replace mini blinds with nicer window treatments
- Find a cool vintage chest to use as a TV stand
- Order new rug (the one I originally bought for in here is moving to the dining room)
- Find new end tables and coffee table
I'm so excited to have a designated office space! The staircase is on the other side of this door, so you do have to pass through this room to get upstairs. Eventually I would love to open up this wall and built an open bannister, and widen the doorway into this room. I think it will go a long way towards making the whole first floor feel less segmented, but that's the 5 year plan.
My "now" plan has changed a little bit now that Anthony is going back to school online this winter. I'm now thinking of doing back-to-back desks so a.) we can both work in the office at the same time and b.) when he's not working at his desk, I can take it over and turn the double desk thing into a big craft table. Here's what I'm thinking:
- Paint walls & trim
- Possibly wallpaper the cieling?
- New light fixture
- Order simple parsons style desks we can arrange back-to-back
- Get bookshelves for one wall
- Find cool upholstered dining chairs to use as desk chairs
- Reupholster an existing chair we have or find a new one for a little reading nook
- Install a pin board on one wall
- Organize and outfit the closet as a craft/gift wrap/ filing closet
- Replace mini blinds with nicer window treatments
Of all the room in our house, this was the only room that didn't have new flooring. In general this room is kind of a let down. While the upstairs bathroom has an upgraded vanity and fixtures, the downstairs bath is a mixture of old honey oak and just plain old. The linoleum floors have yellowed and are peeling. This room just needs a little more love than the others. Someday I would like to totally gut this bathroom and install a larger, tiled shower with glass enclosure, tile floors and a custom vanity. The one thing I do love about this bathroom is the cool built in cupboard that right inside the doorway. It looks like an addition that was made in the 1960's based on the hardware and slab style doors and drawers. It's taken a lot of scrubbing and baking soda to get rid of the mothball smell inside of it, but it has some real potential!
Like the kitchen, I have plans for a mini-remodel to improve this space in the short term, without spending so much money that we feel guilt ripping it all out in the long term.
- Paint walls, trim & ceiling
- Replace linoleum with new sheet vinyl
- Install new vanity and mirror
- Replace rusty and warped baseboard heater
- Paint inside and outside of built in cupboard and install new hardware
- Replace towel bars with hooks
Look familiar? The interesting thing about our house is that the first and second floors are exact copies of each other. At one time, our home was turned into a duplex, which means the living room and this upstairs room (which I am planning to make into a family room) are the exact same size and layout. If we were to use it as a bedroom, it would definitely be the biggest, but it doesn't have a closet. My plan is to turn this into a second living room where Anthony can set up his video games and where we can store/display our instruments. (Anthony has a guitar and bass and I have a mandolin.)
Because it's not covered by a porch, this room is lot brighter than the living room, so I'm planning to stick with the light and bright feel and go more midcentury in this room. We have an awesome set of Lane coffee and end tables that Anthony's grandmother first bought in the 60's. Anthony's parent's had them in their living room when Anthony was a baby and then we used them in our first apartment I'm excited to design the perfect room for them. This room isn't high on our priority list, but we do have some ideas:
- Install panel wall treatment using moulding
- Paint walls, ceiling & trim
- Install new light fixture
- Order a cool retro-inspired sofa or sectional
- Hang a gallery wall
So this guest room is directly above the dining room, and like I mentioned above share the same size and shape. Since Anthony and I planned to upgrade to a king bed, we moved our existing full size bed into this room so we wouldn't have to set it up in the master bedroom just to take it apart again a few months later. So here's a photo from the listing, and then some photos from early this summer, featuring Annie, my good friend Jamie's pup. She just couldn't resist stealing the spotlight!
I'm keeping our existing IKEA bed and dresser, and I've decided to go kind of vintage nautical-inspired in here. You can see more my inspiration collage in the "Our Guest Room" post linked below. I thought we would finish this room up really quickly after we moved in, but Anthony convinced me to focus on the downstairs first. I put a chair in the corner and tested some paint samples on the wall, but other than that this room looks the same today as it did when these photos were taken. Here's what we still want to do:
- Paint ceiling, walls and trim
- Hang ship art above headboard
- Install window treatments
- New light fixture
- Paint nightstands
- Find cool rug for texture
Before you say anything, NO I'm not pregnant! We just refer to this room as the nursery because it's just more succinct than "smaller guest bedroom/designated niece quarters/future nursery". Until we decide that it's time to welcome some non-furry children into our family, this room is pretty low on the priority list. In the meantime, our nieces have claimed this room. The closet is situated over our staircase, so there are these cute little stairs that they love to run up and down. We set up a bed for guests and that's about it!
While the downstairs bathroom wasn't touched at all in the previous owner's renovation, the upstairs bathroom does have some nice, new fixtures. The only problem is that they didn't quite finish -- the fiberglass tub/shower was installed but not caulked, and the waterlines were roughed in, but there were no plumbing fixtures. Anthony and his Dad fixed that in one good Sunday afternoon, so we now have a second functional bathroom!
Since the downstairs bathroom is going to be more of a project, I'm just planning a few simple things for this bathroom:
- Install tub/shower plumbing
- Caulk tub/shower surround
- Paint walls, ceiling & trim
- New shower curtain
- New rug
- Install clear plastic organizers on the inside of the linen closet door
- Replace tiny medicine cabinet with statement mirror
I absolutely love this room! Not only does it have two closets (mine is huge and Anthony's is tiny...as it should be!) but it also has a door that opens out onto a little balcony. I can't wait to start making this room into our little retreat!
Here's what I'm thinking:
- Remove random sink & cap waterline
- Paint walls, cieling & trim (Can't decide if I want to go dark or light for the walls!)
- Install curtains across the whole back wall to disguise the off-center window
- New KING SIZE bed & small dressers to use as nightstands
- Refresh our current tall chest with new paint, knobs and maybe wood overlays?
- Find a cool rug & light fixture
- Some kind of glider or porch swing for the balcony
- Maybe a coffee bar area? (This may be impractical, but I just picture us enjoying our morning coffee together on the balcony before the day starts...)
There you have it! We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we are having so much fun making this old house our own. We're starting to make some progress, so you can expect some more photos and updates coming soon! For more sneak peeks, be sure to connect with me on Instagram & Twitter!
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1. Not having a plan
Just because you don't have the budget to totally redo your room all at one time, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't spend some quality time thinking about what your functional needs and aesthetic goals are for the space. I always tell my clients that it's best to dream big in during the initial brainstorming phase for a room. What would you do if budget wasn't a concern? It's much easier to work backwards and see how we can achieve a similar look on a smaller budget than to limit your creativity at the outset of a project. My favorite place to find interior design inspiration? Pinterest!
TIP: Don't forget to "click through" your favorite home decor images that you find on Pinterest! Most of the time, they will lead you back to an awesome blog with even more photos and details about that room design!
2. Forgetting to take inventory of what you already have
While most furniture salespeople would tell you to skip this step (and have you buy everything new!), I know that you guys are a savvy, creative bunch. See what you can do with the furniture you already have first. Borrow from other rooms or try re-imagining a piece with new paint or fabric. I'm not saying you should settle for a something that really doesn't work for the space just because you already have it, but if you have a piece that is functioning well and just needs a little tweak to make you love it again, go for it! You'll be able to put the money you've saved by diy'ing towards something else you really need for the room.
3. Not bringing photos & dimensions of your space with you to shop
Your drawing doesn't have to beautiful or even to scale, but by figuring out what limitations you are working with from the get go, you'll save yourself a lot of time in the long run. Even better, plan your arrangement ahead of time using the process of elimination. Figure out where the biggest piece will go and find out how much space you have left for things like storage and tables.
This was one of the first things I did with our new house. I knew I wanted a king size bed for our master bedroom, but I wasn't sure if it would fit and still allow room for things like nightstands and dressers. By drawing the room to scale with the bed, I was able to see how much room I had on either side for nightstands and figured out where I would place our dresser. I am still on the hunt for new nightstands, but now I know exactly what size parameters I am looking for!
4. Going shopping without a budget
And no, "as cheap as possible" does not count as a real budget. Before you step foot in a furniture store, you need to sit down and figure out how much money you are actually willing to spend on your decorating project. Of course there is a trade off between price, and quality (which in furniture boils down to comfort + durability), and with furniture you generally get what you pay for but that doesn't mean that you can't be smart about prioritizing your purchases to get the best value for your dollar. If you are working on a pretty tight new homeowner budget like I am, prioritize which items you need to buy new and which items you wouldn't mind purchasing second-hand. My general rule is that upholstered pieces (especially sofas and mattresses) should be purchased new but I don't mind finding the majority of my wood pieces at thrift stores or on craigslist.
TIP: If you are working with a design consultant at a furniture store, be upfront about your budget from the get go. Your consultant will be able to save you time by quickly pinpointing brands within the showroom that match your style, comfort needs and investment level.
5. Focusing on small details first
When you want to decorate but you know you don't have much money to spend on a room, it's easy to find yourself frequenting the clearance aisle at Target, picking up things like picture frames and jewelry trays and candles, etc. I've been guilty of this myself, but I'm here to tell you DON'T DO IT! Your living room isn't going to go from "ehhh" to "wow" with the addition of just one more tchotcke, so put the ceramic bulldog down.
Don't focus on the small details before you invest in large scale, high impact pieces to set the tone for your room. It might not seem like you are spending a lot on your weekend trips to Target, TJ Maxx and Home Goods, but if you add up over the course of a year, you will might be surprised to realize that you could have bought those new barstools you've been coveting instead of enough mismatched table lamps to light a small village.
What are your tips for decorating on a budget? What are your favorite stores with good deals on home decor?
Infographic design and hand-drawn illustrations by me, digital color rendering by the talented Jamie Barchanowicz. Stay tuned because she's launching her own shop very soon!
Sometimes, an artfully arranged coffee table is all you need to make your home feel instantly more polished. Especially if your home is currently torn apart due to some painting projects, like mine is... I spent a few minutes styling our coffee table yesterday morning and came up with this fun black, gold, white and hot pink look.
My coffee table is the same size as the dining table we used in our previous apartment. With a large table like mine, it can be a little hard to figure out what to put where. But if you follow these 3 tips, you'll be styling your coffee table like a pro!
- Divide your coffee table into thirds or quadrants and go from there. Breaking it down into 3-4 smaller vignettes will help you tackle the large space without making it look cluttered.
- Add height with stacks of books and taller accessories. I used a few books that fit the color scheme, a ceramic pear and a cool teepee terrarium that I borrowed from Jamie's room. Candlesticks, vases, and taller sculptures would work just as well!
- Use trays to corral clutter and make a statement. I laid this tray across two quadrants and used smaller dishes to hold some snacks and the remote. The bold chevron pattern makes a stylish statement and really contrasts against the plain white table top. Tray chic!
Looking for the perfect tray for your curated coffee table? Check out my favorites from One Kings Lane:
When you move into a new home and are starting completely from scratch, it's easy to get overwhelmed! Even though I have been dreaming (and pinning) about the day I would have my own home to decorate for years, it was a little scary to start making decisions about what interior design direction I wanted to take. As a professional interior designer, I am a fan of so many different home decor styles and color schemes. While that characteristic serves me well when I am creating personalized designs for my clients, it makes decorating for myself THE WORST. Really, I would hate to have myself as a client!
One thing I've done to keep myself sane is to develop what I call a "Whole House Color Scheme" to base my decorating decisions on. Because my style is so eclectic, choosing one united color scheme to use through the majority of my home will help the different spaces to feel more cohesive.
Instead of looking through magazines or Pinterest for inspiration this time, I decided to go for the colors I've always been drawn to-- colors that have remained my favorite for years even as my style preferences and taste has evolved. For me, those colors are blues and greens. I started there, collecting dozens of paint samples and trying out different pairings before arriving at the color scheme I have shared below.
While not all of these shades will become wall colors, I wanted to share them as paint colors just in case you felt inspired to give any of these a try in your home! This is definitely an analogous color scheme, but I plan to punch it up with some vivid accent colors in different rooms, like coral red and peachy pink! Plus, with a nice neutral base, I'll be able to switch out accent colors for seasonal decorating.
Would you consider using one color scheme throughout your whole house? What colors do you always find yourself going back to?
Howdy friends! If you've been following me on Instagram, you probably caught on to the fact that I spent last week in beautiful southern California! It was a fantastic vacation that Anthony and I got to share with 6 of our closest friends. Now that we're back in PA, we are ready to kick our home improvement projects into high gear! Today, I'm sharing some before photos and my design inspiration for our guest room.
Now I bet you're asking, why is the guest room one of the first projects we are tackling? Wouldn't most people want to start with the master bedroom? Well, yes but since we are planning to upgrade to a king size bed in the near future, I decided we would just set up our current full size bed in the guest bedroom and sleep there for the first few months. This way, we won't have to take it all apart again to move it later! Once we do move into the master, I'm looking forward to having a nice finished room to offer our out-of-town guests. Plus, we already have all the big pieces we need for this space, so it should be a fairly quick makeover to complete!
It's a decent sized room, with plenty of windows (which I love!) and the same basic beige carpet that runs through the rest of our house (which I'm not crazy about). I have big dreams to replace it with hardwoods someday, but for now it's staying. Here's a few more "before" photos:
My vision for this space really took shape after I found this midcentury oil painting while thrift shopping. The large scale is perfect for the space and the colors are gorgeous! It's oil on canvas-- not a print, so at under $20, I couldn't pass it up!
TIP: If you are looking for some statement art, check thrift stores first! You can often find large-scale, unique pieces for way less than what you would pay for just the frame at a craft store.
My idea is to create a vintage, nautical-inspired room without making it feel too "theme-y" or too "thrift store-y". I want the room to feel decorated, but also minimal so guests will feel like they have room for their own things when they come to visit. I put together this little inspiration collage to illustrate the look I'm going for!
I've chosen some of my favorite colors for this room's design: navy, dark teal and jade green.
I'll be painting the walls a very soft, pale gray to give the room a boutique hotel feel. The nightstands I found on craigslist earlier this year will finally be getting a makeover with some navy paint! For bedding, I'm picturing crisp white linens with pops of pattern, texture and jade green. I'm so excited to see this room come together!
Everything in this room design will complement the ship painting. I find it's way easier to start envisioning a room once you have a "jumping-off" point to serve as inspiration!
How do you find inspiration for your decorating projects? Do you start with art or do you find your inspiration elsewhere?
It's true! Anthony and I are closing on our VERY FIRST HOME later this month! We are so excited about becoming homeowners.
Our road to homeownership hasn't been the smoothest ride (which I plan to share more about in a future blog post!). It's been over a year since we started looking a houses and the mortgage pre-approval process, but Anthony and I both feel that this house was well worth the wait. We are counting down the days until it is officially ours!
Here are the details:
We've already written out three different to-do lists -- 1. Cleaning & Maintenance, 2. Painting & Improvements, and 3. Shopping & Furnishing. Obviously, I've already made a dedicated Pinterest board, but it's a secret one. I want to keep some things as a surprise for you guys!
Of course, we will be documenting all of our home improvement and decorating projects right here on the blog! We can't wait to get started!
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of collaborating with some pretty incredible ladies on a styled photoshoot...
This idea started back in October, when my friend Savannah (also our wedding photographer!) asked me if I would be interested in helping to style a shoot she was planning for this winter. After talking to her about her ideas and goals for the shoot I came up with the theme of a "Dead Garden Party".
Whenever I'm starting on a new design project, I like to begin with putting my ideas into words. I'm an Interior Designer (and otherwise a very visual person), so it makes sense that I brainstorm in three-dimensional images. The problem with this is that my ideas can be pretty ephemeral if I don't take the time to give each thought a name and write them down. I write concept statements to help me wrap my head around an idea that I am seeing in my head. Sometimes these are a few sentences and sometimes they are just a couple of words. For this "Dead Garden Party" theme, my concept statement looked something like this:
An outdoor garden party held in the dead of winter. Contrast bright, beautiful models with dewy, flushed makeup against a stark winter background. A pretty, vintage tablescape with tortured-looking centerpieces made of dried flowers and dead sticks. Like the moment a crocus flower blooms through a blanket of snow, announcing the arrival of spring.
TIP: Writing a concept statement is a great idea if you are in the beginning stages of planning a special party or wedding! Having a singular, specific vision or "story" for your event's look will help to guide you in making cohesive decor selections.
Selecting the decor for our shoot was relatively easy! Both Savannah and I love collecting vintage housewares. She had a great collection of depression-era china from her Great Grandmother and I had recently purchased two French wingback chairs from the 1960's on Craigslist. We used these things as a starting point for our color scheme of pale pinks, golds, creams, beiges and light greens.
I hand lettered place cards for our two table settings, choosing the names Eloise and Maeve to fit our vintage-inspired shoot. The antique lace table cloth is another heirloom of Savannah's family, passed down from her great grandmother. I had never seen it in person, so I brought two options for tablecloths to layer under it hoping one would be close enough in color. I ended up layering both my ivory table cloth (ok, it was actually a bed sheet!) and my brighter white table cloth (an actual table cloth!) under the beige lace. It's a little counterintuitive to mix shades of white, cream and beige but it ended up working perfectly! The bright white makes the beige lace pop in a way that it wouldn't with a matching ivory or beige cloth underneath.
Our shoot's theme could easily be adapted to a winter bridal shower, or even a wedding! Something about the dried florals and icy pastels seems so sweet and romantic to me. What do you think?
I had such an amazing time styling this shoot and watching Missy and Savannah do their work! I'd say we make a pretty excellent team...
Photography: Savannah Smith Photography (seated left)
Styling, Props and Design: Stevie Storck; Interior Designer & Blogger (seat right)
Makeup: Missy Weisser; Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant (standing center)
Jewelry: Andrea Svrjeck; Stella and Dot Stylist (not pictured)
Models: Lauren Beard and Hannah Beard (standing left, and right respectively)
Venue: private home
Wardrobe: Dresses provided by Cory Hoffman
Floral Crowns: Handmade by Savannah Smith
Name Tags: Hand lettered by Stevie Storck
A special thank you to Kyle Soskin and Anthony Storck (not pictured) for helping us to set up for the shoot!
Now head over to Savannah's blog to see the rest of the photos!
This project was mentioned in the Lancaster Newspaper! Click here to see the online version of the article.
Anyone who follows me on Pinterest knows that I am a HUGE fan of gallery walls. I have a whole board dedicated to configurations and art resources that I call Gallery Wall Material. Something about a wall of mix and match art just says home to me. One thing I really love is when a gallery wall has a sense of humor.
How can a wall of art have a sense of humor, you ask? I love an art collection that doesn't take itself too seriously. A mix of "high brow" and DIY art, oil paintings and simple graphic quotes, photographs and children's drawings, ornate gilded frames and clean lined minimalist ones. Mixing and matching art and frames is an art in and of itself!
I've been on the look out for some chunky gold frames to start my own gallery wall for the last several months. I've found a few, but the nice ones are always way out of my price range. I stumbled across this piece at a thrift store in York called Finders Keepers. I loved the heft of the frame and the moody floral print. What I loved most was that this was an actual oil painting on canvas which had been mounted into the frame, not just an art print. At only $8, it was a no brainer. It was coming home with me!
Once I got home I started searching the internet for Gold Leafing supplies. I found this kit on Amazon that had everything I needed: 25 imitation gold leaf sheets, adhesive size and sealer. (You can purchase the same kit I used in my Resource Shop . Right now it's actually on sale for $2 less than when I bought it!)
Read on for the full tutorial with my tips and tricks!
How to Gold Leaf a Wooden Frame
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
- Speedball Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Kit with Gold sheets, Adhesive Size and Sealer
- Medium - large paint brush
- Popsicle sticks (for stirring)
- Small art paint brush and gold metallic paint for touch ups (Optional)
First you will want to make sure your frame is clean, dust-free and dry. I used my dry paint brush to brush of any dust in the carvings. If possible, remove the picture or canvas from the frame to make the gold-leafing process easier. My frame was attached to my canvas using metal pins, and I was worried that if I took it apart, I wouldn't be able to fit everything back together. You'll see in the following steps that I just used a piece of chipboard as a guard to protect the surface of the painting. Lay your frame on a flat surface.
Use a popsicle stick to stir the tub of Adhesive Size well. Begin applying Adhesive Size in a thin coat on the surface of your frame. You want a nice even layer over the whole frame and no pooling. If your frame is heavily carved like mine, this will take some extra brushing over the carved areas to eliminate pools of the Adhesive Size liquid. Wait 20-40 minutes to allow Adhesive Size to become tacky. Don't shorten or skip this wait time or your gold leaf will not stick to the frame!
This is what the frame will look like when it is tacky enough to move onto STEP THREE. It will look a little shiny but the white adhesive will have dried to clear. If you touch your finger tip to the frame, it should feel sticky.
Take your first sheet of metal leaf and place it onto the frame. Some people use tweezers to handle the gold leaf. It is very fragile, but after a few tries I got pretty good at picking up a full sheet with my hands. I carefully tore the sheets in half to use around most of my frame. The picture below shows a small piece I used to start on a corner. After you have placed the metal leaf onto the frame, then use the side of your brush to lightly press the sheet into the coat of Adhesive Size.
Using the tip of your brush, lightly rub the gold leaf into the crevices of the frame, brushing away the excess gold leaf "crumbs" that do not stick. Having these "crumbs" is totally normal, so don't worry that you are doing it wrong!
REPEAT STEPS THREE AND FOUR, layering and adhering gold leaf sheets to your frame until you are satisfied with the finish and coverage.
STEP FIVE (OPTIONAL):
If there are any areas which you need a bit more coverage, feel free to touch up using Gold Metallic paint and a small paint brush. I decided to do this on the thin black band on the inside of the frame instead of gold leaf, since I didn't removed the canvas from the frame first. Again, I used my sheet of chipboard to guard the surface of the painting and carefully went around the inside edge of the frame. It took 2-3 coats to get the proper coverage to match the gold leaf. I used Martha Stewart Acrylic Metallic Paint in Gold (also available in my Resource Shop!)
Use a popsicle stick to stir the tub of Sealer well. Apply a thin layer of Sealer over the entire frame, being careful to avoid pooling. Apply 2-3 coats of Sealer, allowing 15-30 minutes of drying time between coats. Sealer will turn clear as it dries.
Stand back and admire your new gold-leafed frame!
Thanks for reading! If you try this DIY on your own and post it on social media, please remember to tag me so I can see your creations! (Twitter & Instagram: @steviestorck)
As most of you know, I have been into this whole blogging thing for the last 3-4 years. So into it, that I have become almost evangelical about blogging. I have tried to convince my sister, my brother-in-law, the best man from our wedding, my best friends, basically everyone I know to start a blog or professional website. Forgive me for sounding like a zealot, but blogging is a magical thing! I have witnessed firsthand some of my favorite bloggers become true business women, earning their living from their "passion project". Even if you don't plan to turn your blog into a full-time business, starting a blog can be a great way to "get your foot in the door" of your chosen industry.My blog definitely set me apart and helped me get my current job as a Design Consultant at INTER!ORS. How do I know? My (now) bosses told me so!
By taking writing quality blog posts about the career field you work in (or want to work in), you are showing prospective employers that you are passionate about what you are doing and that you are committed to going above and beyond to make a name for yourself in your industry.
Today, I'm sharing a list of the first 5 blogs I really started following and why I find them so inspiring. Before I discovered Bloglovin, I had memorized the full domain names of these five blogs, because every morning, I would type them into my url bar to see what new things they had posted!
I really can't remember how I came across Merrick's blog but I do remember that it was 2011 and I spent the next 2 hours scrolling through as many posts and I could read. Merricks "Refashion" tutorials were what first got me hooked. She would take items from her (or sometimes her husband's) closet that were just not working for her and make them totally new with some simple alterations. Since those early days, I've watched Merrick's blog grow exponentially and lead to amazing opportunities like contributing writer gigs with Babble and SheKnows collaborations with brands like Joann Fabrics and Golden Tote! If you've never checked out her blog before, make your way over there now! ---Or as soon as your done reading this post ;)
Emily from Jones Design Company is basically my life role model. On top of raising four (adorable) children, Emily writes an amazing blog about painting, home decorating, sewing, crafting, graphic design, baking, party planning--- it's hard to pin this talented lady down! One of the things I love most about Emily's blog is her ever-changing House Tour, where you can follow along with the upgrades Emily and her husband have made to their beautiful (but builder-basic) home in the last few years. Her inspiring home has been featured not once, but TWICE in Better Homes and Gardens magazine (Fall 2013, Spring 2014)! In addition to making over their home, Emily designs beautiful art prints and offers an awesome paper goods subscription service (called "Paper Works") to help you stay organized in style! You can spend days perusing through JDC, and I highly recommend that you do!