The “Before” Pictures

Grab a glass of wine, and use the restroom now, because this post is  A LONG ONE.

I have been meaning to post all of these pictures for quite some time, and now is as good a time as ever, right??

As you know, we just moved into our first home after the new year, and so before posting about any progress we’ve made, I want to document all the “before” pictures, so that you can see what we’re working with, and so that as we update each space, there is a good point of reference… so let’s get to it!!



Above is the exterior of our new place, which we love.  Like LOVE.  I am still in awe that we are living in a historical old Victorian in San Francisco, and that this place will be so incredibly different from anywhere else we ever get to live.

All the detail of the Victorian facade is accentuated by the various colors used – there are probably 6-7 different paint colors on the exterior – white, cream, several shades of light yellow, periwinkle, dusty blue, and then the gold leaf. The gold makes all the pretty scrolled details pop, and its such a special touch.


That’s the thing about these old San Francisco houses – you can get away with some really crazy color combinations and it’s charming (for the record, I do not consider our house’s exterior to be one of the “crazy” ones… but some of these houses are really elaborate, and use really unique color combinations).

The thing with our house is, while the outside is colorful and cheery, and inside is just as colorful… but in a very different way. The best word I can think of to describe it is “manic.”  The definition I found could not be more spot on: “showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy.”

Let me elaborate…


When you walk in, the first thing you see is this…


There is A LOT going on…

There is wallpaper… lots of it… and lots of different kinds.  We’ve got the pale blue and gold trellis paper (which I happen to love), a faux finish wallpaper meant to resemble Italian plaster walls (you can see it a little better in the photo below), the art deco inspired teal and burgundy scallop trim, and lets not forget the starry night  wallpaper in the alcove.

To add to the crazy color scheme, all of these different wallpapers are accented with some really interesting paint colors… cranberry picture rail moulding, hunter green and gold corbels, a fleshy / nude paint on the casings around the doorways, and tan and mint green paneled waist-high wainscoting.


I get what they were going for here – it’s certainly funky and full of character, and while I have a real appreciation for the Victorian authenticity of some of the patterns of the wallpaper, it’s just not my jam.

The starry night looks like it could be cool in the pictures, but just trust me when I say, it’s a bit much in real life.

The blue is not a deep and subtle navy, but more of a cobalt… and right next to the hunter green and bright cranberry trim. I actually feel like all these colors and patterns take away from the beautiful moulding and paneled wainscoting.  My goal is to make the trim and all it’s details really stand out as opposed to having this space be so busy, and colorful, and well… manic.


Anyway, moving on… directly to the right of the entry, is a doorway into the “parlor” – yes we have a parlor!

Right now it’s being used as a formal dining room – eventually it may become an office / guest-room / playroom, but before we moved in it looked like this:


Pretty amazing right??

In real life, the wallpaper is very gold – I don’t love the pattern, and I don’t love the colors, but let’s talk about what I do love though.

The crowning jewel of the room… the original chandelier.  It is so big and gorgeous in real life.  Also, look at the original fireplace ! The carved details are so pretty and unique.  The stained glass above the bay windows is my favorite in the whole house, and with the detailed plaster detail framing the windows… it makes my heart skip a beat.

In this below picture, you can really see the detail in the windows, and also you can see the stained glass in the entry hall (right hand side of the picture) which is so sooo pretty.


I don’t have current pictures of this room now that we’ve moved in, but trust me when I say that it looks like a HOT MESS.

Don’t be fooled by how pretty it looks in these photos from the listing… this is what it looks like today:


We are using it as our dining room / storage room, and it’s full of boxes, and a too-big dining room table.  It went like this… the movers dropped our stuff off, and it stayed exactly how they left it ever since. Ha!  That said, I love dreaming about what it could look like eventually.

Building a window seat in the bay window is an ultimate goal – it’s a great spot for people watching in the park, and it gets such nice late afternoon sun – even in the winter.

I also envision built-ins flanking the fireplace, for additional storage… or maybe even building desks into the built-ins…


What a showstopper – of all the lighting left in this place, this is perhaps the only fixture that we will ultimately keep. Once it’s cleaned, it will really sparkle!

Also, now that I’ve completely hated on the starry night wallpaper in the hallway, I have a little secret…


The alcove above the bay windows has the same paper, but I happen to LOVE it up there.

It looks like a deep navy instead of how it reads as “cobalt blue” in the hallway. It’s still funky for sure, but I love how it’s like a little secret, the way it’s tucked up there.  I envision it being a favorite spot for little ones (eventually) to play and daydream.


Right off this front parlor is the first bedroom – there are old pocket doors that close the two rooms off, which are so charming and pretty.  Right now, the room is dedicated to storage… it’s all boxes, but eventually it will be the guest room… or a nursery.

In the below picture, you are looking back at the front parlor, through the pocket doors.


And here they are closed off.IS9xjiklgxn7y80000000000

This picture below, shows the room from the other direction – standing in the pocket doors looking towards the back wall and window.ISh3mu2sk5w4y80000000000

As of this week, here’s how the baby / guest room looks:


It’s a disaster.  And the mess gives me total anxiety.

Let’s pretend it doesn’t exist!


Moving down the hall, there is a bathroom that is very cramped and VERY 90’s right now.

The photo below IS NOT AN ACCURATE DEPICTION of how this looks in real life.

At all.


This photo really makes it look so much bigger, brighter, and nicer than it is.

In real life, it’s dark… like really dark… and you walk straight into the sink as you come through the doorway. And, I don’t believe that the shower was built to code.  It also seems odd to me that the ceiling is 15 feet high like the rest of the house, but the shower, tile, cabinets, and everything else stops at about 7 feet.  It just makes it all feel so closed in.

This is on the list for a renovation down the line, but for now, it functions, and it’s livable.


Next up is our bedroom..

The staging for this struck me as so odd (most of the staging was terrible, but this room really confused me).

It’s a massive bedroom (around 17’x17′) with an en suite bathroom, so it’s clearly the master, but it was staged as a kids bedroom with a double bed, plaid bedding, and a stuffed husky.  So bizarre.


It looks SO DIFFERENT now (and so much better) with our furniture.

Ugly staging aside, we really like most things about this room – the medallion wallpaper is really pretty in real life, and the corner windows are SO BIG.  They’re nearly 10′ tall, but it’s hard to even tell in photographs how tall the ceilings and windows really are.  Trust me when I say, they’re massive.IStkfuj88h7dy80000000000

We just got a new chandelier that will replace the old light fixture, but other than that, the room hasn’t changed much since moving in, aside from moving our own furniture from our old bedroom in.


The bathroom attached to the master, is similar to the hall bathroom – a bit dated, and a bit cramped the way it was planned, but livable.


I secretly love using the Jacuzzi soaking tub, but it’s such a pain in the butt – it’s hard to climb in and out of it since it’s so tall, and it stops about a foot and a half from the wall, so it doesn’t make the most of the space.

The dual height counters also make it feel more cramped, there is nowhere for us to hang our towels, and like the other bathroom, all the cabinets, and tile end at around 7 feet, so with the high ceilings, it feels sort of dwarfed.

I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming on how we could change this to make it more functional, and visually open up the space, but of course this renovation is not in the immediate future.


The next room is actually the first one that we decided to tackle – “the red room”.

It was staged here as the dining room, but we are using it as our living room.  It is the largest space in the house, measuring about 20 feet long by 16 feet wide, so it seemed like a huge waste to use it as a dining room.


It’s also adjacent to the kitchen so from an entertaining standpoint, we like having all the social areas together, instead of having people split up at a party – half in the living room at the front of the house, and the other half mingling in the kitchen or outside at the back of the house.

We’re still working out what room will ultimately be the dining room, but this room will continue to be the main living room.

So anyway, back to our living room… I call it the red room, Kris refers to it as the Christmas room, and it’s pretty clear why.  These pictures do not paint the picture of how dark and drab and heavy this room felt.


Holy cow – there was so much red damask wallpaper in here, and it just felt SO DARK!

Had it just been the dark red, it would have been dark, but less offensive… it was the green accents that made me really dislike the whole thing.  The green trim ran around the picture frame railing, and the pillars were also green – a Victorian era Santa and Mrs. Claus would have loved this room.

I should also point out, the pillars are wood – they were just painted to look like green marble or malachite.



There were also the ruffled curtains, heavy tapestries, scalloped red (of course, more red) valances, with balloon shades.IS1rdjlvebix770000000000

And let’s not forget about the hunter green ceiling medallion.


I can not stress how dark and sad it felt.  I know it doesn’t look it from some of these pictures, and after showing friends and family the photos before they saw it, we heard a lot of “it’s not bad!” or “I kind of like it”… but in real life, the response was more, “oh… yeah… it IS dark.”

Keep in mind that those photos were taken by professionals, who made sure that they were well lit and edited so that the real estate listing would shine.

Here’s how it actually looked and felt before we moved in…




I snapped all of those photos in the middle of the day, with the shades up, and the lights on.

The problem here was the dark colors – the dark wallpaper just swallowed all the light up, When I am able to post a few photos of how the room looks and feels now, you will definitely be surprised at the difference. You would never know it from these photos, but the room actually gets really good light.

To also put this in perspective, in these photos, the trim looks like it’s an off white.

It is NOT off white.

It’s a dark, DARK tan – like darker-than-my-skin tan.  That hopefully illustrates how much lighter it feels now with crisp white trim… but I digress.  Let’s get back to the house tour.


Before we even saw the house, I was shown a single photo of the kitchen, and I was smitten. The kitchen has a few cosmetic updates we’d like to do down the road, but overall, it’s pretty incredible…


The floor to ceiling cabinets… the entire wall of windows… the french doors out to the deck…ISlywimo5a1rx80000000000

The LADDER!!  I mean we have a ladder in our kitchen.ISp9o6lyod42y80000000000

Those things aside, here’s a quick list of updates we’d like to get to… after the bathrooms… after the wallpaper stripping… after the trim is painted…

Updates to the countertops, upgrades to some appliances, updates to several fixtures and lighting, fixing chips and nicks in the cabinets, updates to the window treatments, and updates to the cabinet interiors.

Don’t think that I am complaining though.  Quite the opposite.  This is the Taj Mahal compared to the kitchens I’ve lived in my entire adult life.  Just even having counter-space is such a luxury coming from apartment living.ISle9vki6v13870000000000ISxfqi35tlczx80000000000ISxv2v1zt6db870000000000And in the kitchen you’ll also notice a breakfast nook… nook is the wrong word.  Breakfast room?  When it was staged, it held a good sized dining room table, certainly large enough to seat six.

This is where we currently have Kris’ office set up which has worked out well so far, but I still toy with the idea of making it into our dining room, and using that front room (where our dining table currently is) into a office guest room combo.

Eh, plenty of time to mull that idea over.

Last but not least…


ISledi1249zfy80000000000IS9dwuifhioj870000000000Currently, we have a mish mash of deck furniture out here, along with my tools, and a few boxes.  It is not the cute urban escape I envision, but it WILL be.  That’s the thing.  Eventually, this will be our little oasis, and it starts with a BBQ.

Once that BBQ is here, I’m certain I’ll want to get the rest of it whipped into shape… a pretty outdoor sofa or sectional, some new plants, umbrella, and eventually, maybe even a heat lamp for lingering late into the evening.

So, there you have it!

The full tour of our house, as it was before we moved in.  As you can see, there are areas that will need more work than others, but my wheels are turning, and we’ve already made some significant headway in a few spaces!

Can’t wait to share as we move along!!

Refinishing our Hardwood Floors

So here’s the good the bad and the ugly about our experience refinishing our floors.  Really just the good, but I wanted to post about what we learned, and what we did, since there was not a lot of information out there when I was in the research phase.

Specifically, about choosing a stain!!


I WISH this post had existed several months ago, when my husband and I were agonizing over deciding on what color to stain our floors.  And I do mean, AGONIZING.  Who knew there were so many stain colors, combinations, and methods of application… not to mention, once you throw in what kind of wood floors you’re working with, there is yet another variable in the equation of figuring out how your floors will actually turn out.

Let’s start at the beginning though, shall we?  Rewinding the clock back to December – Kris and I bought our house in December, and the sale closed right before Christmas. I knew, even before it was officially ours, that the first thing I wanted to do was refinish the floors.

This is a beautiful, old Victorian, and when I say it’s “old”, I mean OLD.  It was built in the 1890’s, and it still has the original hardwood floors.  When I found that out, I was SO excited – it is SUCH a pot of gold, but they had seen better days.

Ok that’s an understatement…

They were scratched to hell from years of abuse, and the nail pattern was VERY obvious on the light wood.  Also, the nail holes looked like big dark spots as the nails had rusted at some point.  There were also stains from water damage, and animal urine (which, I should note, the entire house smelled of).  The areas where the furniture had sat were much darker due to sun damage on the surrounding areas. And finally, there were a few very poorly done patch jobs in recent years.

Take a look for yourself:


Look at all the scratches, discoloration, and the very noticeable rows of nails… also in the picture below you can really see how the sun bleached certain areas.IMG_2343

And here is one of the former pet’s favorite spot to go potty… so special…IMG_2367IMG_2368

The shoddy patchwork was invisible to me at first, but as soon as it was pointed out, it was all I could stare at… not only did they use a different type of wood, but they used short little nubby slats laid down next to slats that ran the entire length of the room.  I mean, it’s only a few dollars more to replace it with a longer slat!!  I mean, it literally would have been a difference of $50 to do it right the first time!!  UGH!!IMG_2369

BUT, even with the damage, these floors were giving me heart eyes – they were original to the house, and made of gorgeous white oak, which is hard to come by these days. Nothing a little sanding, staining, and minor re-patching couldn’t solve.

We decided that before we moved in, we’d have the wood floors refinished, to save us the headache of trying to do it down the road after we were moved in, and I am still SO HAPPY we made that decision.

Just look at what a difference a single pass with the sander makes:


We worked with some local flooring contractors who were ROCKSTARS!!  Side note: If anyone in the bay area is looking to have their floors re-done, email me, and I’ll send you their information.

Anyway, as they got to sanding, we needed to choose a stain for the floor.  I kind of loved the light white look of the sanded wood, but with the nail holes, we knew we needed something darker to help camouflage them.

Our flooring guy also advised us away from anything too dark because it shows dirt so much faster than lighter colors.

As we looked online for hardwood floor inspiration, I had an aversion to anything too “red”, Kris didn’t want anything too “yellow”, and we agreed that it couldn’t be too grey and weathered because our house was traditional… and a beachy / rustic floor would not mesh well with the traditional, intricate moldings, and Victorian details running throughout.

We decided on a mid-tone brown – nothing too red, yellow, or grey… and nothing too dark or too light.  I felt like Goldilocks trying to convey what we were looking for to our contractor.  He probably thought we were nuts.

After articulating what we were hoping to achieve,  we went back online to find floors we liked, that listed what stain color they used. Unfortunately, it was not easy to find.  We kept finding:

  • Floors that we liked, but that didn’t list what stain they used
  • Floors that we liked, where the wood was a completely different type than ours (so it wouldn’t turn out the same on ours)
  • Floors where the wood was also white oak, but the stain was not the same look that we were hoping for

We showed our contractor a bunch of pictures for reference, and since we didn’t have an exact example with stain colors we could replicate, (and seeing that I had a very “particular vision”), he decided it would be best if he laid down stain samples for us to look at in real life.

Which leads us here:


Yeahhhhhh…… almost 20 samples later, we were completely unsure which to choose.

To be fair, we started with about 5 squares… but none of them were quite right.  So we sampled a few more, then a few more, then a few more.  It’s like that book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” #amiright

Anyway, I may have needed 20 samples to make a decision, but I’m hoping that these pictures help someone else who is re-doing their floor because this information is hard to come by!!


If you like any of these, here’s what they each are:

Right row, bottom to top: 

  • Minwax: Provincal
  • Minwax: Jacobean
  • 1 part Minwax Jacobean, 2 parts Minwax whitewash
  • 1 part Minwax Jacobean, 1 part Minwax whitewash


Middle row, bottom to top: 

  • 1 part Minwax Dark Walnut, 1 Part Polyurethane
  • Minwax Dark Walnut (applied to dry wood floor)
  • Minwax Dark Walnut (applied to wet wood floor)
  • Minwax Eary American (applied to dry wood floor)
  • Minwax Eary American (applied to wet wood floor)


Left row, bottom to top: 

  • 2 part Minwax Dark Walnut, 1 Part Polyurethane
  • 1 part Minwax Jacobean, 1 part Minwax whitewash (applied to wet wood floor)
  • Minwax: Provincal (applied to wet wood floor)
  • Minwax Fruitwood (applied to dry wood floor)


Also, for hardwood flooring novices who are like, with water??  Polyurethane??  White wash??? What do those do?? Here’s a brief education:

Treating the raw wood with water before staining opens up the grain – the result is that the wood soaks up more stain, and ends up being darker, with a more pronounced grain.  Using the same mixture on non-water treated wood is lighter, more stain wipes off than gets absorbed, and the grain is more subtle.

We really preferred how our floors looked when the stain was applied without water-treating due to the variance in wood grains – the water treatment made our floors too dark and too busy, so we liked how the stain looked when applied to dry wood.

In a few of these samples, we mixed polyurethane with the stain to lighten the color – it was like diluting the stain without changing the tone.

Adding white wash stain to the colors made them appear more grey – not a look we liked for our house, but would be really great in the right home.

In the end, we ended up choosing 1 part Minwax Dark Walnut, 1 Part Polyurethane – middle row, bottom sample in the above – and they turned out AMAZING!!  It’s really hard to capture the true color of the finished floor in photos, and I have more (better) photos to share, but for now here’s a few:

How amazing is this mahogany inlay in our kitchen?!?!  I am SO obsessed.  I snapped this at night with the lights on, so they look a lot more yellow and red than they do in real life…


In these photos below, you kind of get a sneak peek of how our living room used to look (heavy dark red curtains, dark red damask wallpaper, beige trim, and hunter green trim). BUT, despite the really dark and awful wall paper, and low light, the floors are pretty true to color – a rich, true brown – not too dark, and not too light.IMG_2913IMG_2909

The picture below is a grainy iPhone pic, that I snapped just before the sun went down, but you can see that the floors aren’t TOO dark.  Just dark enough to really camouflage some of the really bad stains, and the nail holes.IMG_2884

And a blurry close of of that inlay trim… so SO pretty!IMG_2877

And finally, just a really close up photo of the stained wood, and nail holes… they pretty much disappear from afar, but are still noticeable up close.  It doesn’t bother me, and I think anyone who is buying an old home will also appreciate their history.

Despite sanding, there are still little nicks here and there (so if you are also sanding old floors, don’t expect them to look like they were just laid), but it’s part of our house’s story, and I really love how they turned out.IMG_2709

Since we finished the floors, we’ve moved in and this place already looks SO DIFFERENT.  Keep in mind, I took these pictures back in January, and it’s almost April!  In the last several months, we’ve made A LOT of progress stripping wallpaper, and painting.

More specifically, painting trim.  There is A CRAPLOAD of trim… which I love… it’s just very detailed, so it takes forever to paint, which I don’t love.  Some days it feels like I’ll be painting trim until I die, but I’ve made a lot of headway in recent weeks, and I can’t wait to share some before and after photos soon!!!

It’s really starting to come together, and I’m seeing parts of the house take shape, which makes me so excited for phase II… decorating 🙂

Hello…. It’s Me………


Ha!  Couldn’t resist a little Adele reference!!

But really… I haven’t completely disappeared. Ok, I have, but for very good reasons!!

I had mentioned before that my hubby and I were in the process of looking for a house, and while it took several months, many weekends of endless open houses, multiple offers, and a few broken hearts, I am happy to be able to finally say…. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!

**queue confetti**

Now that we have closed, I feel good about making that announcement, and being able to finally talk about it here!  She’s (I’ve decided that the house is a “she”) a beautiful old Victorian with her own set of quirks, and I’m obsessed with her.

There is a post coming soon where I’ll take you through the particulars – what we love, what we hate, and what we hope to do to truly make her shine.  We’ve already started in on a few projects, and I cannot wait to share!!



Inspiring Spaces: Black Framed Windows


So… I have this board on Pinterest called “Inspiring Spaces”…  and it is a catch-all for beautiful rooms.  It mainly came about as a result of laziness, because I don’t have the discipline to file everything under super organized categories – I’ve tried to create a separate board for bedrooms, for bathrooms, for living spaces, for exteriors…. but what ends up happening nine times out of ten, is that I see something I like, and it gets added to this hodge-podge board… it is what it is folks!

BUT, while I may not have this board organized by room, style, color palette, or really anything else, what it lacks in organization, it makes up for in beauty.  It is FULL of pretty pictures, and it’s actually one of my favorite boards to just scroll through when I’m feeling uninspired.

Just a quick peek and you’ll see common threads if you look closely enough, so I thought, why not create a series for Simply Styled to corral some of the trends I’m obsessively pinning right now, and one of the things I’m really loving right now is the look of dark framed windows.  I have been completely enamored by this look for quite some time – it started with steel cased windows (which I wrote about in 2013), and has evolved into the larger category of all dark framed windows.

A few reasons I like this look:

  1. I love that it looks dramatic.  Glossy black trim instantly enhances the already beautiful trim that is on your windows.
  2. Windows with black trim lend a bit of “edge” into spaces verging on the feminine side, and they are an easy way to balance out other large, dark pieces of furniture in a space (big black armoire in an all white room? balance it out with dark windows across the way)
  3. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to get a similar look to my beloved steel cased windows (we can’t all be millionaires!!)
  4. It’s also a non-committal way to see if you’d like the look of steel cased windows in your home – before shelling out some serious cash for the real deal, you can test out a similar look for the cost of a can of paint, and a little bit of time… and worst case scenario… you hate them.  You can always paint them back.

But I mean, how gorgeous are they??


I just LOVE the drama of this kitchen – while the black cabinetry paired with the black windows might be a bit much for most spaces, imagine these beautiful windows in a different kitchen.  They give the oomph of a window dressing without needing to hang anything fussy in what should be a utilitarian space.


These black framed casement windows are EVERYTHING.  Oh if only this could be my kitchen, in the Scottish countryside…. with my herd of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels running around in their plaid capes….. and fresh scones being baked (and eaten) while gazing out these windows at the woods (this house actually is in the Scottish countryside – I strongly encourage you to click through from the image to the full article on Houzz.  Ahhhhmaaaazzzinnggggg!)

A short love note about casement windows – my entire family is pretty obsessed with them.  There’s this movie called A Child’s Christmas in Wales (which is really a movie made from the Dylan Thomas story) and we watch it every single year before Christmas.  At the very end of the movie, the little boy has just fallen asleep, and snow has just started to softly fall, and the boy’s grandfather opens up the MOST BEAUTIFUL leaded casement window that ever existed, to catch the falling snow in his hand.

Oh that window!!! You should watch that movie if only to see that fabulous window!

But I digress… black framed windows… that’s what we’re talking about here…




A lot of the spaces I love where black framed windows make a major impact are kitchens – specifically light kitchens (like these ones) that allow the dark windows to really pop… but I love them equally in all spaces…

I love them creating height and defining these living spaces (again, no curtains necessary)…




And I love them on interior doors and windows too… like these pretty painted french doors that open into the study:


And these ones that lead into the dining room…


This dining room below is clearly a very lovely space, with the floor to ceiling windows that have been painted black.  They really keep this room from being too light and whispy.  The reclaimed wood country table and chairs could go very “feminine” very quickly, but the dark windows with the industrial lighting keep it from being too soft.  I also like the way the bookshelf with the black metal frame plays off the windows, and gives a nice balance in the room.


And this bedroom is another really good example of the black windows lending a harder edge to this otherwise very soft space.


And finally, this living room – really kind of a perfect example of how black windows can balance a space.  If they were painted with white in here, the fireplace would be kind of a big black hole in here, but the dark windows keep your eye from immediately going there by creating a sense of even distribution throughout the whole space.


So what’s your take?  Do you love this look as much as I do?  Hate it?  Would you have the guts to give it a try?

Thoughts on Househunting


Anyone that has moved will agree that it’s stressful.  Anyone who has moved while still looking for a new home will agree that it takes the concept of “stress” to an entirely new level.

And that is where we (my husband and I) are right now folks.  Limbo.  The big move-out is this weekend, and all our stuff will be going into storage while we continue to look for a home in San Francisco.  To say that this process has been an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement – several offers we’ve made on homes have been trumped by all-cash offers… BUT… we are hopeful.  Kind of.  At least we aren’t giving up yet, or lowering our standards for what could be.  So that’s good news.

As we spend our weekends house-hunting all over the city, I’m working on a new talent that I refer to as “seeing past the ugly”.  Looking past the old decrepit bits and weird smells, the cheap renovations and the bad staging, to imagine what could be.  Kris is struggling with this, and so today I wanted to talk about one case in particular.  An already-pretty-nice, could-be-REALLY-amazing flat.

Here she is from the front…


Let me just say, I do not think this is “ugly” by any stretch of the imagination (we have seen SO MUCH WORSE).  But I think we can agree that there is not much curb appeal, the building looks kind of sterile, lacking personality, and I don’t think I’d describe this house to anyone as “charming”.  She’s freshly painted (and I like the color), but other than that, the rickety fence and handrail, and the small yard of dead shrubbery could be stand to be improved… so what would I do to improve it?

First, I’d add shutters – black shutters specifically – to the upper and lower windows.  Is there anything that is more charming than shutters my friends?? I think not.

The fence has also seen better days, so unless it really needs replacing, I’d just give it a paint job – I’d go glossy black there too.  I also think the stairs would look nice in a contrasting color to the color of the house, so I’d paint them a dark grey (they are already painted, and the light grey shows dirt, and just ultimately just blends into the house, so without replacing them, paint will do just fine, though how pretty would brick look??).

Let’s talk about the current “yard” – it’s really sad. Someone at some point tried to spruce it up with the rose bushes, but they are not bringing any color or charm to the front, and in the winter when they are bare, it will look extra depressing.  I would replace them with something green and low-maintenance like a row of boxwood’s.  Since space is limited, I’d want the green to trail up to look as lush as possible, so I might want to add some climbing vines like creeping fig, or maybe even ivy, to add more green and a “lush” feeling to the front.

Finally, I think some window boxes with low maintenance flowers like geraniums would really be the cherry on top for adding curb appeal, and make this feel like a home.

With all these changes I see it looking something like this:


Better, right?  I think just these few little changes would really make a huge impact here, and elevate this place to a new level.

Next up?  I’m going to tackle the interior with a few ideas…

Starting Fresh

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What to write in the first blog post……. always a tough one.

Let’s start with why I’m here. This blog is a fresh start for me – you see, it’s not my first blog.  I started CupHalfFull several years ago on a whim, initially using it as somewhat of an online diary <<kids, don’t do this!!!>>

I naively thought, surely, no one will ever read this, as I set it up on Blogger (Google’s blogging platform). I also spent about two seconds coming up with a name for it.

The first time someone commented on a post, I was shocked. How did they find me?  And why are they reading my secret blog?? It was like that moment in Sex and the City where Carrie gets email…. Can they see me?!

Lesson learned… blogs are NOT private.

I immediately combed through all my entries, deleting everything that was remotely mortifying (which was a lot), and I was left with a handful of posts that all revolved around one thing… my obsession with trying to decorate the new apartment that me and my then-boyfriend, now-husband had just moved into. What I never expected when I started CupHalfFull, was to stumble upon one of my true passions in life.

Design. Decor. DIY. Making things pretty (which in hindsight is kind of a great name for a blog… Making Things Pretty.  Damn it.)

So why a new blog, and why now?

I started toying with the idea of starting a new blog after I saw how hard it was going to be for me to just move CupHalfFull from Blogger to WordPress. And the more I thought about it, the more I realize that switching platforms would give me the opportunity to do it right this time.  To put some thought into the name.  To get the look and feel right.

Also, the timing is right.  Up until this point, we’ve been living in apartments.  We hope <fingers crossed>, to own a home. Soon. Which, when it comes to interior design, is a total game changer.

Ultimately, I want to dedicate Simply Styled to my passion for styling a space. I believe that making a space functional and beautiful is fun, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

So welcome!  I’m so excited for everything that comes with a fresh start!


An Apology

So… it’s December.  Where oh WHERE does the time go??

If 2013 was the year I really dedicated myself to my blog, 2014 has been the complete opposite.  I’ve completely neglected you guys, and while I feel awful about it, the truth is, I’ve just been lazy.  And kind of un-inspired.

You’ll notice that the more recent posts on here aren’t some of my best.

I’m sorry for that.

But there is a silver lining!! As a result of my neglect, I’ve had the opportunity to dedicate myself to being creative outside of this blog, and it’s allowed be to turn our apartment, into an actual home.  It feels so different from when we moved in – so cozy, and so refreshed.  Nearly every room has gotten a fresh coat of paint – just the hallway near the bathroom, and our bedroom are still outstanding right now.

There’s also a lot of new furniture – a new couch!  Yes, it happened.

A new desk and office space!

A new coffee table.

A new side table.

New lamps.

New dining room chairs.

New shelving.

New rugs…

…And possibly soon, a new dining room table.  Boom.

So, my promise to you is that I will start actually sharing some of these projects, and updates with you all soon.


Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday ya’ll!!

This week has dragged on and on (it feels like) but I’m so excited for the weekend.  On Saturday, one of my girlfriends is trying on wedding dresses so I’m going to ooh and ahh over her whilst drinking champagne.  Two things I’m good at.  That night is our big family birthday celebration and we are going to the MOST fabulous restaurant… I’ve been dying to try it, and cannot wait to debut a pretty white dress to ring in 30 with my favorite people.  Yes, the birthday celebrations continue…

I’m also really excited to start a few new projects at home, and hopefully have some fun updates to share with you all next week.

Have a great weekend!!


Adios friends!  Checking out again for a little R&R in Mexico… it’s actually a bit of a pre-birthday celebration… saying goodbye to my 20’s in the most awesome way I can imagine… by the ocean, in the sun, with a fruity cocktail and my favorite human.

My life will probably be looking a lot like this for the next 5 days…

Hope you all have a great weekend!

You Might be Wondering where I’ve been…

No I haven’t quit the blog… but I have been on a break… it’s not you… it’s me…
No really.
This happened…


It’s been SO exciting, and SOOO fun, and we literally could not be happier.  Kris has already taken to calling me wifey which makes me laugh every time, and I’ve been trying to remember to introduce him to people as my FIANCE (so fancy) –  not my “boyfriend”.

A gratuitous ring shot for you guys…

While the excitement around being newly engaged is reason in itself for me to be taking a little break from the blog world… this is also happening…

No… not a baby – despite what the box says – our apartment has become a little storage facility, filling up slowly with boxes on top of boxes.

We’re moving.


I’m a stressed out little bunny.

With every box that gets packed, I look around and feel like I’ve hardly made a dent.  I mean, seriously??  How did we get SO MUCH stuff?!

To add to the excitement of the engagement, and the craziness surrounding our impending move, I also had to head to this hideous place for work last week…

The weather was terrible too.  85 and sunny – how can people in LA live like that?!

No but really, it was pretty incredible, I’m not going to lie – this was the view from my hotel room. You have permission to be jealous for a minute.

So to recap my travel schedule for you this month, it’s SF >> LA >> SF >> NY >> SF.  Yep, next week I’ll be here….

Freezing my patootie off most likely, but for New York I’ll make an exception…

So in between celebrating, packing, traveling, and of course coming to grips with the fact that in less than a month, my best friend moves to Chicago, I’ve been trying to do as much actual living (and not blogging) as possible, with as many afternoons as possible spent like this…

I’ll be back after the move – I promise.

But until then, one more shameless hand-selfie that I can’t seem to stop snapping.  It’s bad.

I’ll be back soon my dears… with more projects and more inspiration soon.