Tag Archives: design

The Nursery Reveal!

Creating a nursery for twins is a unique challenge made even trickier when the babies are opposite sexes.  We waited until we found out the babies were a girl and a boy before designing their nursery, and we quickly nixed the idea of trying to make the room half pink and half blue.  It sounded like some sort of mish-mash nightmare.

After a little time on Pinterest, I decided the best approach would be a really clean, modern nursery, because of the need for two cribs (and double the clothes) and the fact that the room was fairly small.

Here is a picture of the room when it was a rarely used guest bedroom:

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The furniture, thanks to my in-loves, was gorgeous, but oversized for the space, and the color on the walls was a garish Seahawks green.  Incredibly, this room was used as a nursery for twin boys by the previous tenants, which is the only reason we can assume it was painted such a color (the photo doesn’t capture the brightness adequately).

I am not a designer by any means, and am often paralyzed when it comes to decorating, but I put my heart into making a room for the babies that conveys my love for them.  It really was a joy to create.

I enlisted the help of my friend Meredith, who works as an interior designer, to map out a floor plan that would allow for two cribs, one changing table, and a rocking chair.  I sent her the measurements of the room and the furniture we thought we were going to purchase and she created a floor plan to make it fit.

Then we got to work.  When I say we, I mean Mike.

We purchased the paint (no VOC for baby breathing safety) and he painted the entire room white, including the ceiling, because we needed a fresh canvas.  Then he, our dear friend Greg, and my father-in-love taped the walls with precision to ensure our stripes were going to be crisp and perfectly even.  They did a fabulous job.

Our color scheme was yellow, gray and white.  Gender neutral, baby friendly, and just happy.  I wanted a really happy room for the babies, and I think we nailed it.

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We chose simple, modern cribs in a soft gray color to contrast the bright wall and yellow and white chevron rug.  They are from Wal-Mart, if you can believe it, and are highly rated and made from sustainable, non-toxic pine wood.  After hours of searching, they were the best cribs at the best price — and they look exactly how I’d hoped.

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After an extensive search, I found the rocking chair from a company called NurseryWorks, as it was the only rocking chair I could find that wasn’t frumpy, old-fashioned, or incredibly 90’s (think gliders with bad fabric).  I could see using this chair in other areas of our home after we no longer need a nursery (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as the thought of that makes this pregnant woman want to cry already).

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The curtains were generously handmade by Meredith, who is phenomenally talented at sewing.  She even added a layer of blackout fabric to the curtains so I can get the room as dark as possible for naps.  She brought several gray swatches and we chose a shade that matched the cribs, but had lots of white detail to keep the room from becoming too dark.

The little pouf is from Restoration Hardware Baby and Child and is one of my favorite parts of the room.  It’s both whimsical and highly practical as a footrest while sitting in the rocker.

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My mom gave us these adorable switch plates for the outlets that she found on Etsy; it’s hard to see here, but they have giraffes and elephants on them.

And there’s a Jonathan Adler ceramic giraffe nightlight: to die for.

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We found the changing table on Craigslist, and I’d still like to swap out the knobs on the doors for something a little more substantial.  We’ll see if I get to that in the next couple of days before the babies arrive.  If not, I don’t think they’ll mind.

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I loved organizing the changing table supplies — little bins with diapers lined up, a bin with diaper cream, ointment, etc, and tons of wipes.  The cabinet underneath has all the backup supplies and refills.  It also has a healthy stock of something I’m super excited about: cloth diapers.  YES — I am going to try to cloth diaper the babies.  A fellow twin mom from EMOMs gave me hers which is why I have the confidence to go for it; she did it without a problem, and she saved me about $600 by giving me hers (they’re $25 a piece).  Proof I’m not insane: we are not starting the cloth diapers until after at least a month (Mike maintains he’s not doing it at all, but we’ll see who wins that battle of the wills).

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I love the giraffe changing pad cover.  Giraffes are my animal association, meaning they’re the animal I most resemble.  I also happen to like them more than any other animal, which helps.

Please note the space-age camera mounted to the wall.  This takes baby monitoring to an entirely obsessive level, but it’s a level this new mom needs.  We can watch the babies sleep on our iPad and can move the camera by touching the screen.  It’s super Jetsons, and we owe Rach and Phil for the idea — they’ve been using theirs for over a year with Lillian.

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My sister, Sam, graciously made the framed artwork of animals from an idea she found on Pinterest.  Each animal is made up of the letters that spell its name.  My in-loves gave us the beautiful gray piece of art that uses the alphabet to make a little poem about how much we love the babies.


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You may be wondering where all of their clothes are hiding since we don’t have a dresser.  That was intentional, due to the size of the room.  Instead, I bought a unit with pink and blue drawers to keep inside the closet to organize all of their clothes.  There’s a drawer each for jammies, sleepsacks, socks, hats, onesies, etc., and open cubbies for swaddle blankets and burp cloths.

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The hanging storage on top keeps their day-to-day outfits, since I think it’s impractical to fold or hang tiny baby clothes when I’ll be doing laundry so frequently.  This way I can just tuck them into their cubbies (based on size of clothes) and grab what I need.

The two bins on the shelf hold all of their carriers (Mobys, Ergos, Baby Bjorns) and the Boppy is stored up there as well.

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The other side of the closet has their hamper and a few hanging outfits, as well as hanging storage for clothes that are six months and beyond.  Up top, it also has the enormous My Breast Friend for Twins.

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Confession: I often sit in the rocking chair and picture what it will be like when the babies are in their cribs, or in my arms.  It’s such a delightful room, so full of the hope and anticipation of babies on the way.

Now there’s only two things the room is missing:  the babies!

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Giveaway Winner!

As promised, Just Milled did a blind drawing of all of last week’s giveaway entrants and the winner of the boxed set of custom cards is…Kimberly Rampersand! 

Congratulations, Kimberly (and be sure to check your email for follow-up instructions so we can get the cards mailed to you)!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway, and special thanks to Just Milled for sponsoring this event!

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Giveaway Day!

I am pleased to announce Wordsbecomeone’s first giveaway!

In case you haven’t had the pleasure of working with this incredible graphic design studio, Just Milled is a locally owned creator of custom wedding and event invitations and one-of-a-kind thank you cards.  They also specialize in branding for businesses, logo-creation and marketing materials.  Having worked with them myself, I can say with certainty that their work is second-to-none (disclosure: I wasn’t given any perks for hosting this giveaway).

To introduce their debut collection of notecards, Just Milled is giving away a mixed boxed set of 10 cards.  The winner can choose 10 matching cards, 10 different cards, five pairs of cards, or whatever mix he or she desires.   The cards are hand-cut and folded, printed on lightly textured 100% cotton paper from the finest paper maker, Crane & Co.  The cards come in a sleek clear box and will be shipped directly to the winner!

The winner may also select two personalized greetings, like “Happy Birthday.”  The total value of the giveaway (postage included) with the box and two personalized greetings is $23.00.

How to Enter:

1) “Like” the Just Milled page on Facebook:  facebook.com/justmilled.

2) Once you’re a fan on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog naming your favorite card (you can find the names of the cards on the Just Milled Facebook page in the album with a photo of each card).

We will do a blind drawing to determine the winner.  The giveaway is open until 12PM PST Friday, 4/6 and the winner will be announced on this blog (I’ll also email the winner).

Good luck, and thank you to Just Milled for sponsoring this giveaway!

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Designing Woman: Part Three

People may think of a number of descriptive words for me, but D0-It-Yourself is not among them.

One of my favorite blogs that I read all the time is Young House Love, and they are all about the DIY.  But they’re DIY on crack.  They knock down walls and paint brick and tear out concrete.  They do an incredible job of making it look accessible, but it still scares the junk out of me.

Enter our hideous bar stools that the previous owner of our home left us — and refused to pick up when we found she had left them (but we could hardly blame her — they’re hideous, after all):

Not only is the pattern like something from a Ringling Brother’s Circus, but one of them was actually stained:

How did we live with them for 16 months?  If I think about that question too long I will go into convulsions, so in the interest of time, let’s skip that question.

When Mike and I decided that we finally had to get rid them, naturally we planned to throw them away and buy new ones.  But then some DIY-type friends heard our plan and were aghast that we’d waste money and resources on “such a simple project.”

Sure.  Simple for you.  This coming from the people who carve their own dining room tables.

We promptly ignored their suggestion and proceeded to look for new bar stools.  However, upon finding that any decent bar stool was at least $150 a pop, we figured why not try to fix our current ones?  If we fail we can always throw the embarrassment in the garbage and THEN spend the $450.

Off to the fabric store we went.  We chose a fabric, bought a staple gun and some backing and headed home for the dirty work.

First we took the stools apart to determine if we’d need to strip the fabric.

We decided that the backing on our new fabric was thick enough to prevent any of the old fabric from showing through, so we left the seat fabric on.

The fabric on the back of the stool, however, had to come off.  That was not a fun process.


We then proceeded to iron our new fabric to ensure it was perfectly smooth.  When I say “we,” I mean “he.”  We all know I don’t know how to iron.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern?

Everything worked like a charm until this point.  The next step was nothing short of maddening.  We had to align the fabric perfectly, staple it correctly and tightly, and make sure the corners didn’t look freaky.  We alternated between talking to each other through gritted teeth like seamstresses on Project Runway, and cheering each other on like we were at the Mathletes Finals.

After dozens of removed staples, we finally had it:

…and then we realized we had to do it again two more times, and we almost decided it would be easier if we just sold our house and left the new owners with two torn apart stools.  Let history repeat itself, we said.

But we motored through, and finished all three seats and one seat back.

Those of you paying attention realize this leaves two seat backs unfinished.  How long do you think it took Mr. and Mrs. Reph to finish those last two seat backs?  I’ll give you some hints:

  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to get five credits at a university
  • it’s the same amount of time it takes to grow 1/3 of a baby
  • it’s the same amount of time that Seattleites enjoy the weather each year

Three months, people.  Three months.  For three months, two of our chairs sat there without backs.  For three months, we told our guests we’d “just started” this project and that we were going to complete it “this weekend.”  It was sometimes the last thing one of us would say to the other before falling asleep, “You know, we really need to finish those bar stools.  No seriously.  It’s embarrassing.”  The other would always dutifully reply, “I know.  Totally.  Let’s do it this weekend.  Oh wait, we’re out-of-town.  Next weekend, then.  For sure.”

This went on for three months.

Until this week.  This week, in a fit of energy, we decided it had to come to an end.  We got home from a date, walked right into the dining room and started stapling like it was our jobs.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Victory!

Aren’t they pretty?  But really, the attractiveness doesn’t even matter to me at this point.  The point is that they are done, complete, finito.

And just as I hoped, they bring in the red from the family room behind them, and help add a little color and interest to the space.

The other side of the victory is that what should have cost $450 ended up only costing $35 ($20 for the fabric and backing, $15 for the staple gun).  Even though they aren’t perfectly done, I’ll take imperfect at $35 over perfect at $450…at least for now.

Instead of teaching us that we are DIY-capable, this certainly proved to us that we should never remodel a home.  It took us three months to do the backs of two stools; I don’t think we should be knocking down walls and replacing granite counter-tops.  For the sake of our marriage, obviously.

To read about other design projects we’ve conquered managed, see here and here.

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On Eating My Words

Despite being one of the thriftiest people on Earth, I abhor shopping at Ross. 

And TJ Maxx.

And Nordstrom Rack.

And any place that requires an inordinate amount of “digging” to find what I need.  One would think that a cheap-o like me would call TJ Maxx my mecca, but one would be forgetting that my need for organization will always, always trump my frugality.

I have needed structure and order for as long as I can remember.  Not an obsessive compulsive, lock-and-unlock-the-door-six-times type, but enough that walking into a store with rows and rows of clothes makes me want to turn around and flee.

Did I mention my other disorder, commitment-phobia?  When it takes decades to make seemingly insignificant decisions (which boot?  Black or brown?  Knee-length or ankle?), it becomes nearly impossible to make decisions if nothing is in its proper place.  How do I know if I’ve seen all of my paralyzing options if they are strewn down an aisle?

Last week, however, I had to make a concession:  I was throwing a party, I needed decor, and I needed it cheap. 

And I knew exactly what this meant.

I Binged all the thrift stores I could think of, and was a little embarrassed to find so many of them in such close proximity to my home.  How did I not realize they were there before? 

Anyway.

I walked into Ross and braced myself for feeling like a arachnophobe in a store full of spiders.  But as I made my way to the back of the store I saw the rows upon rows of glass vases — exactly what I was looking for.  I bent over to pick one up to check its price tag, and nearly dropped it to its death on the tile floor — $4.99!  Was I hallucinating?  Is this a joke?  Or is this Merry Christmas to me?

I quickly stashed every last one of them in my cart, totally convinced that I had just snagged the deal of the year and surely 15 angry women would be coming around the corner to claim their vases too. 

Jingle Bell Rock tinged in the background as I had these paranoid thoughts.  No angry women.  Just Jingle Bell Rock.

I hurried around the rest of the store convinced I was going to find a hundred other things I couldn’t live without, but sadly, Ross only had one treasure to offer me that day (or any day).

My next stop was Tuesday Morning, which was so chaotic and out-of-order that I almost reconsidered before making it past the front door.  I walked down two aisles and saw that their glass vases were $9.99 — apparently not all discount stores are created equal.  I felt a surge of pride at my wise Ross choice.

And even though Michael’s isn’t a discount store, it is decidedly crafty, and I had hopes it would be cheap.  It was not.  Not only did they not have anything I could use, but they had things I couldn’t use that were overpriced.  I moved on quickly.

Twenty minutes later I was standing in Target because I couldn’t think of any more discount stores.  Target had exactly the ornaments and ribbon I was looking for, but I realized that I felt like a failure for paying full price.  And since I was in a such a panic about not being able to find more things I needed, I bought twice the ornaments necessary, grossly overestimating the size of my glass vases.

When I got home and started putting the vases and ornaments together, I realized that the vases were filthy.  They were completely covered in dust and I spent 15 minutes hand washing each one.  At first I was irritated, but that feeling quickly dissipated each time I turned a vase over to clean the base and saw the price tag.  Yes, I thought to myself, I am willing to spend 15 minutes for $4.99 vases.  Who wouldn’t?

I feel like I owe an apology to discount stores everywhere: Why do I judge you when you are so good to me?

The decorations worked really well, and I was thrilled with the look.  In fact, I got several compliments on them throughout the evening, and now I am going to use them to decorate our home for Christmas.

I am secretly hoping that someone comes to my house and asks about my vases.  I am looking for an opportunity to sound exactly like the radio commercial, “I got it at Ross!”

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The Double-Edged Sword Known as Craigslist

Few people can argue with the victorious feeling of finding the exact item on Craigslist for which one was searching.

In my case it was a black bookshelf, six feet tall, with five adjustable shelves.  Bingo.

Oh and the irresistable price tag of $20.  Double bingo.

That is more or less the end of the fun of Craigslist:  you find the item.  You email the owner.  You wait in anticipation for them to say they haven’t already sold it. 

Then the work begins.

Where do you live?  Where should we meet?  How am I going to cart a six-foot-tall bookshelf back to my house? 

The seller of this bookcase gave me her address and said to arrive around 6:30PM.  I had plans at 7PM on the other side of town, but as any Craigslist crawler knows, if you snooze, you lose.  I confirmed that I’d be there at 6:30PM.

“Oh and just a FYI,” she noted, “I don’t actually live there anymore.  I have renters in this house.  They said they’ll put my bookshelf in the backyard and you can just pick it up.”

Um.  OK.

“Oh, and one more thing,” she said.  “Can you pay me via PayPal?  Like right after you pick it up?  Since I won’t be there?” 

Clearly this is an exercise in trust.  We both know I could pick it up and disappear without paying her.  I know I wouldn’t do that, but she doesn’t know I wouldn’t do that.  Craigslist transactions are full of this kind of blind faith. 

It occurs to me shortly after making these arrangements that a six-foot tall bookshelf may not fit in our SUV.  I loathe the idea of borrowing someone’s truck, or worse, going there in our SUV only to find it won’t fit and we have to return with someone’s truck.

Mike suggests we buy some twine so we can tie down the hatch if the shelf won’t fit inside, so I stop by Home Depot on my way home from work.  Who knew there were 15 different kinds of twine?  I am not a twine expert, but suddenly I am comparing rope widths, impact resistance, and cotton versus poly.  A phone call to Mike in the middle of the twine aisle solves my problem, and I leave with something called Heavy Duty Jute.

Four hours later, after work, Mike and I hop in the car headed for Leschi. 

Everybody in Seattle knows the tricky thing about the affluent Leschi area — it classifies as Leschi immediately after you cross over Martin Luther King Jr Way.  Before crossing over, however, the neighborhood is notoriously sketchy, a combination of First Hill, the International District, Denny Blaine and Garfield High.  So when someone says they live in Leschi, you’re never sure if they have a two million dollar home or bars on their crack-house windows.

Guess which side of the tracks my bookcase was on?

Technically, it was one block east of MLK Jr Way, which put it in wealthy Leschi.  That doesn’t stop Mike from second-guessing the legitimacy of the deal I’ve arranged.

“This is the house?  The orange one with the porch falling off the front?”  he asks me, incredulous.

“Yes, that’s the address,” I reply. 

“Seriously?” he answers.  “This whole situation looks like an invitation to get robbed.  Didn’t you say she doesn’t live here and she wants us to pick something up in the backyard behind a fence?  Seriously?”

After a bit of back and forth, Mike decides to go look in the backyard and see if there is actually a bookshelf to be had. 

There isn’t. 

He comes back to the car with the biggest I-told-you-so face he’s ever sported.  I immediately call the owner.

“Oh, it’s not?” she asks.  “Did you check on the deck?  I bet she put it on the deck.  Call me back if it’s not there.”

“Did you look on the deck?” I ask Mike.  He stares at me with a less-than-enthusiastic expression.

I put his wallet and cellphone in my purse so there is nothing of value in the car (oh wait, I see his brand new golf clubs in the back…best not to mention).  We both approach the fence and push the door to the side to reveal piles upon piles of garbage.  There are boxes everywhere, sacks of trash, an old couch, several discarded chairs…but no bookshelf. 

After wading through the garbage, we get to the backyard and look up at the deck; it’s on the third floor. 

“You have to be KIDDING me,” Mike says as he stares up the three flights of rickety wooden stairs.

We walk to the top of the deck where, both a blessing and a curse, we find the bookshelf.  It’s in fine condition and it’s exactly what I wanted, so as if I had found a mangy dog that needed a home, I daintily ask, “Can we keep it?” 

Mike rolls his eyes and tells me to grab one side of the shelf.  We hoist it up and begin the arduous climb down three flights of stairs — beginning with Mike almost falling through the first one because it was rotted.

We huff and puff our way to the car and I have to laugh at what I am willing to put us through for a $20 bookcase.  I have no doubt that my husband is silently cursing my thrifty ways.

The miracle of the situation is that it fits in the back of our SUV without any need for my Heavy Duty Jute twine.  Nevermind that we have to move my seat so far forward that if we have a collision the air bag will kill me.  I don’t care; I have my $20 bookcase.

I read plenty of design and Do-it-Yourself blogs where the authors tout their garage-sale/thrift store/Craigslist victories as though the money saved came without a real cost.  Nobody ever mentions the backyard transactions or three flights of stairs. 

Nobody until now, that is.

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A Closetoscopy

Seattle’s rainy Memorial Day weekend had its benefits.

I realize no one appreciated not being able to picnic, nor BBQ, nor lay in the sun to jump-start a summer tan.  I also realize some Seattleites have already closed this web page out of pure fury that I would tip my hat to a rainy holiday weekend in any way.

But the benefits of such a weekend are practical: I got so much done.

I ran tons of errands, had indoor drinks with girlfriends, read hundreds of pages of the book I’m reading, learned how to ride my bike in the rain, did household chores.  Plus I saw a movie (Sex and the City 2) without feeling guilty.  OK maybe I felt a little guilty that I was seeing SATC 2, but that’s an issue for another day.

But the best, most glorious task  that I completed this weekend:  I reorganized our storage unit.

Whew!  Back up!  I did not just blow your mind with something as insanely exciting as reorganization!  I’m just moments away from skydiving and lighting my hair on fire!  Somebody stop me!

If there is one hobby in my life that gives me goosebumps of pleasure, it is organization.  Look no further than here to further understand this compulsion.

And what better outlet for this organization fetish than a storage unit?  Ours is just down the hall from our condo, and is already heated, well-lit and painted a cheery yellow.  In fact Mike already bought sturdy five-level stand-alone shelves so that nothing is clustered on the floor.

But it still wasn’t good enough.  It still made me hyperventilate upon entry.  Allow me to show you why:

Do you see the cardboard boxes?  Do you see the chaos?  Do you have hives yet?

Maybe that’s just me.

Given the absence of BBQs and picnics, I had copious time to visit my favorite place on Earth:  The Container Store.

I am being completely honest when I say that if I were to win the lottery my first stop would not be Neiman Marcus, it would be this organizational mother-ship.  Of course I would be organizing our mansion in Madison Park, but we can discuss the details of my fantasy real estate another time.

I bought one large clear bin and two tall square bins, as well as two no-lid bins for things that are tall.  I also bought things for our bedroom closet, but posting a picture of our closet feels not unlike posting a picture of my delicates drawer.  Too personal.

Then I went to work.  This was 8:30PM Sunday night, and it took me three hours, so I’m not sure my neighbors were pleased.  But they never complained, so I never stopped.

I pulled almost everything out, sorted through it, and put it back in the new bins.  I also threw tons of things away.  In the end I eliminated six cardboard boxes.  YES.

Here is the result:

Paint and wallpaper supplies are gathered together and shelved on top due to their awkward shape.

Christmas items are stored together.

Bins are labeled.

My sister Sam asked me if I had a label-maker and I felt like someone asked me if I had a personal assistant.  Like, I didn’t know I could have one, but now that you’ve mentioned it I don’t think I can live without one.  And it was only after she mentioned this that I wanted to hide my homemade signs behind my back.

I can breathe again.  I can find things we need.  I don’t need the cello, but it’s important to Mike, so what can I do?

Maybe I could label it.

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