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Cultivating a Habit of Gratitude Year Round

develop a gratitude habit

It’s Thanksgiving, and that means that many people are taking a moment to reflect on what they are grateful for this year and in their life in general. I’ve never really enjoyed the habit of going around the Thanksgiving table to publicly announce what we’re grateful for. I expect it had to do with being shy and introverted as a child. I didn’t want anyone to know what I was feeling, which is something that I continue to struggle with.

As an adult, I fell into a routine of thinking about everyone and everything I was grateful for before I fell asleep every night – a mental checklist. Even if I had a particularly bad day – especially if – I tried not to skip this practice. It kept me focused on the positive and eventually helped me to shift from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance. I think it was great that I focused on being grateful every night before falling asleep, but it wasn’t permeating into the rest of my life.

At the beginning of 2014, I embarked on a quest of personal improvement and development. After a particularly rough 2013, I wanted to break out of a rut and push myself to learn and grow in ways I hadn’t previously considered. I continued my nightly gratitude practice, but I knew I should be pushing myself to develop a gratitude habit that was deeper and stronger.

Then, in May, I learned about The Five Minute Journal through a podcast, and I decided to try it. The journal contains a page for each day. In the morning, you are instructed to write down three things you are grateful for and also three ways that you can make the day  “amazing.” Finally, there is a spot for journaling a personal affirmation. In the evening, you write down three “amazing” things that happened during the day and one way you could have made the day better.

I was resistant to this format at first, and I’ll admit that I never mastered the habit of journaling in the evening (I usually fill out the previous day’s spot the morning after). It is very difficult to find three brand new things to be grateful for every day, and I try really hard not to repeat the same things day after day. The idea is that you are constantly looking for new ways to be grateful every single day. I found that writing them down forced me to think carefully about what I was grateful for and not just recite a generic list by rote. As time went on, I found more and more ways to be grateful for even the smallest things and moments.

Thinking of three ways I could make each day amazing was also challenging. After a while, I realized that they didn’t have to be huge accomplishments. Taking a moment each morning to thoughtfully consider what I wanted to get out of the day ahead helped me to focus and avoid going on autopilot, especially on more routine days that seemed to hold no promise that anything amazing could happen.

But the toughest part of this practice was listing three ways the day was amazing after the day was over and all of the promise was gone. Some days are boring or routine. Some days just suck. You’re tired, you’re sick, your job is stressful or unfulfilling. You come home, eat some dinner, watch some mindless television and go to bed. It’s really hard to write down three amazing things on those kind of days.

I had a pretty rough day a couple weeks ago, and it would have been really easy to skip writing down three things I was grateful for that day and later on three ways the day was amazing. I made myself do it anyway, and I found that I was able to shift my entire mindset about what had happened. It was, as Oprah would say, an Aha Moment.

I realized that, subconsciously, my whole approach to life had subtly shifted. Whenever I would feel myself getting annoyed or stressed out, I would instinctively start listing in my head all of the good things about the situation. Boring faculty meeting during lunch time – I’m so grateful to be part of such an incredible team made up of such amazing talented people; the room we meet in is toasty warm on a freezing cold day; my lunch is tasty, healthy and filling. Stuck in traffic – I’m grateful for the time to listen to another informative podcast; time to call a friend of family member; time just to be quiet and think. Stressful situation with a client or student – I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn something new that I can use in the future.

I had to consistently work on being grateful and intentionally considering how I could make each day a positive experience for months before this mindset became a habit. Now, on Thanksgiving Day, feeling grateful isn’t a struggle…it’s natural. I could list 100 ways or more I’m grateful today and it doesn’t feel trite or shallow. It feels awesome.

If you struggle with feeling positive or seeing the good, not just in stressful or painful situations, but in your everyday life, I can’t recommend developing a daily gratitude practice enough. Start by writing down three to five things you are grateful for every morning when you first wake up. They can be as simple as being grateful for a hot cup of delicious coffee, a warm home, and a cozy bed. As you work on being grateful more and more, you’ll find that it gets easier to see ways you can be grateful that you never thought of before. Before you go to bed, challenge yourself to think of three things that happened that day that you can be grateful for. Some days it feels impossible, but I’ve found those are the days when it’s most important to complete the list.

I hope that you can use my experience to bring a little more gratitude into your life each and every day instead of waiting for the one time of year we’re supposed to feel grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!


Five Kitchens with Fabulous Details You Can Copy

I have been suffering from a bad cold for the past few days and am curled up on the sofa entertaining myself by pouring over some of my favorite kitchens on my Pinterest Kitchens board. I’m absorbing some initial inspiration for not one but two new kitchen remodels that I’ll begin working on in the next week. But, more on those later…on to some great kitchen ideas that you don’t see every day.

Incorporate Open Shelving in Moderation

Kitchen Design Ideas from The House Diaries Kitchen Remodel

The House Diaries Kitchen Remodel

Nicole, of The House Diaries, did a fabulous job remodeling her galley kitchen. There are so many details to enjoy here, but I particularly like the reclaimed wood shelves with the wrought iron brackets mounted on the backsplash. I could never do all open shelving in my own kitchen – too much dust and dog hair, and I would never clean the top shelves. But, I really like the idea of a single open shelf within easy reach for items that are used every single day (they should be pretty too). This wouldn’t be too difficult to add to an existing kitchen with the right drill bit for your backsplash material.

Add a Task Lamp in an Unexpected Place

Kitchen Design Ideas from Hecker Guthrie Kitchen with Light

Hecker Guthrie Kitchen

Melbourne based designer, Hecker Guthrie, designed this stunning black and white kitchen. Click through to view the rest of the kitchen and home. I like the idea of adding a task lamp with articulating arm at the end of the peninsula instead of the standard pendant light. You can never have too much task lighting in a kitchen, and a lamp that adjusts and swings out of the way is even better than one that just hangs from the ceiling. It doesn’t hurt that this retro modern lamp connects beautifully with the black faucet and iron legs of those gorgeous stools. This would be super easy to do if you have the right spot to mount the lamp with a plug nearby.

Add Drama with Contrasting Elements

Kitchen Design Ideas from Brian Gluckstein

Brian Gluckstein

White painted kitchens will always be classic and always be my go-to choice, but sometimes they all start to look alike. The contrasting ribbons of dark walnut in this otherwise all white design are particularly striking and make this space unique and unforgettable. Obviously this look isn’t easily replicated in an existing space, but it wouldn’t be difficult if you are remodeling. Even if you’re simply repainting your kitchen, consider how you can employ contrast somewhere in your space to add drama and create emphasis.

Add a Waterfall Edge to your Countertop

Kitchen Design Ideas from Sarah Richardson Mid-Century Modern Kitchen

Sarah Richardson

If you’re thinking about replacing old or outdated countertops, consider incorporating a waterfall edge on your island or peninsula. The countertop continues down the side of the cabinets creating a sleek modern look that adds visual weight and interest to the design. This look can be achieved with quartz, granite, marble or even butcher block. Depending on the material you’re using for your countertop, this detail can be pricey, but, in my opinion, it’s well worth it for the custom look and impact it adds.

Inject Color and Pattern with a Vintage Rug

Kitchen Design Ideas from Jean Hannotte

Jean Hannotte

I love how Jean Hannotte used this vintage Kilim rug to tie together all of the colors in this kitchen. It marries the gray cabinets with the mid-century wood chairs with the gold toned granite perfectly. And, the red is the perfect accent. Vintage Kilims come in many different shapes and sizes, and the smaller ones are particularly affordable. Consider adding one or two of these colorful rugs as a budget friendly way to inject some texture and pattern into your kitchen.

After looking at all of these beautiful spaces and talented designers’ websites, I’m feeling much better and thinking about how I can go beyond the obvious to add some fun and interesting design details in both my own kitchen and my clients as well. Do you think you could incorporate any of these ideas into your space?


A Fresh Update for a Downtown Des Moines Loft

I just wrapped up the first phase of a fun project located in one of the downtown Des Moines loft buildings. The couple contacted me for help updating some of the finishes in the kitchen of their loft apartment. The lofts were about seven years old and featured some really great details like exposed concrete columns, wood floors and large french doors leading out to balconies with views of the river.

The cabinets in the kitchen are currently maple, which had yellowed considerably since it was installed. The clients had reconfigured a portion of the kitchen and added a new tall pantry and a drawer base cabinet that were custom made from new maple. The finishes of the old cabinets and the new cabinets didn’t match. Furthermore, the old cabinets had painted black recessed panels, which really made them look dated.

The clients wanted to create a plan to update the kitchen finishes, including new countertops and a new backsplash, that they could implement over time. They wanted to bring some color into the primarily neutral space. They also wanted to replace the white bi-fold doors in their entry with new wood doors on a sliding barn-door track to further enhance the industrial feel.

After meeting with them twice to understand their style and their wish-list for the space, I determined that they leaned towards a transitional version of industrial with some craftsman flair. I gave them some homework to create an Ideabook on Houzz with images of kitchens that they loved along with notes about which aspects of the rooms they liked best. They did a fabulous job and compiled over 75 photos. I went through each photo and came up with some common themes, which I used to guide me when creating their custom concept board.

For my first revision, I focused on one of the key themes I pulled from their inspiration photos – light maple cabinets with a contrasting dark island. Technically, their kitchen doesn’t have an island, but it did have a peninsula, where we planned to create some interest with a contrasting finish color.


I selected a turquoise glass mosaic backsplash to pull in one of the colors from their Persian rug in the adjacent living room. I specified that the new barn doors should match the dark peninsula cabinets, which would allow the polished nickel handles and stainless steel track hardware to really pop.


A white quartz countertop would provide a seamless and durable prep surface and contrast beautifully with the cabinets.


In their loft space, the ceilings are actually exposed wood planks – no drywall for recessed cans. Their kitchen was in desperate need of more task lighting, so I suggested that they switch out their current fixture, which was really more appropriate for an entryway or dining table, to this track light with positionable bulbs. I’m not normally a fan of track lighting, but I like the pretty detailing on this more sophisticated option.

This was the original concept board that I presented to them…

Transitional Loft Kitchen Concept

After we met to discuss the original concept, I incorporated some of their feedback into the final version. The clients received quotes for staining the cabinetry and ultimately felt that paint was a better option, and I totally agreed.


They already have a lot of wood elements going on in their space, so a sleek paint finish in modern green-grays will provide a nice break to all of the wood (aka brown).


After viewing the original backsplash tile in person, they decided they would like something with more variation, so we chose a mosaic glass blend of blues and greens, which also comes in a subway pattern that we discussed mounting vertically to elongate the space.


They also didn’t care for the original schoolhouse style pendant I selected, so we swapped it out for a sleek glass and chrome pendant with seeded glass and an exposed bulb. They selected a more contemporary faucet when they visited the plumbing showroom, which I thought was a great choice.

Here’s the final concept board with the new selections. I really love the way we translated “industrial” into a more transitional look that is actually very elegant.

Transitional Loft Kitchen Update

My clients relocate to the Gulf Coast for the winters (lucky them), so we plan to pick up again with this project in the Spring. I’m really excited about the direction we’re taking and think the end result is going to be really fabulous. I love when I can help clients create a whole new look for their space without subjecting them to a major remodel. If you need help redesigning a space in your home, email me at jillian@jillianlare.com or give me a call at 515-344-3140.


Guest Bathroom Mini-Makeover: It’s Finished!

We successfully completed about 95% of our guest bathroom makeover last week before we had guests arrive to spend the week-end. The plan was  to give this room a cosmetic face lift and keep the budget under $2000. You can read more about the project in these posts:

Guest Bathroom Mini-Makeover Part 1
Guest Bathroom Mini-Makeover Part 2
Guest Bathroom Mini-Makeover Part 3
Guest Bathroom Mini-Makeover Part 4

This is what the bathroom looked like before we moved in three and a half years ago and then right before we started the project.

As you can see, we didn’t do much to it except add some color with towels and a shower curtain. We briefly considered a major renovation, but in the end, we decided we would rather spend that money on our master bathroom.

I had originally planned to paint the pinky-beige wall tile but decided against it, so the plan evolved from there. My original selections still worked, but I needed to find a paint color that would coordinate with the tile and make it, hopefully, disappear. The best choice for the walls ended up being Benjamin Moore Alphano Beige 989, and I selected a shade three shades darker for the vanity Ticonderoga Taupe 992.

Keegan and I demoed everything that wasn’t staying – countertop, medicine cabinet, toilet, hardware. And, we had a spirited debate about those horrible shower doors. I was dying to rip them right off, but he didn’t agree. The next morning, he told me I could go ahead if I wanted to, and so I disassembled them and got them out to the curb right just as the Bagster was being hauled away. It was so satisfying to see them gone even though we were left with a little damage to the shower liner that needs addressing.

This is a bad phone photo I took after they were removed and I cleaned up the tub.

You can see the paint swatches on the wall above the tile. After I painted the walls and trim the lighter shade in an eggshell finish and got a base coat on the vanity, it was time to install the floor. I chose a peel and stick vinyl from Home Depot that resembles Carrera marble. It was my first time installing this type of product, and I thought it was really easy. The whole thing took about 4 hours, and it made the biggest difference to the space by far. I do not miss the hideous stained peach vinyl at all!

If you look back through the vanity, you can see the hideous wallpaper/paneling that was originally used in this room. It was all over the house in various patterns and textures.

After the flooring, it was time to bring everything else back into the space. We ran into a little snag with the faucet and had to call a plumber who also set the toilet for us.  It was well worth the extra expense to have a professional handle the plumbing.

Here is what the bathroom looks like now. We have some minor items to address, but it’s fully functional and looks so much better than it did before. My favorite changes are the new floor and the new sink and faucet.

I did make some changes to my original plan in order to stay on budget. I selected a cultured marble sink and countertop from Lowe’s because I liked it better than the quartz when I saw them together in person. The knobs on the linen closet are from World Market instead of Anthropologie, and the toilet is a one-piece model from American Standard that we got at Lowe’s. When I saw it on the shelf at the same price as the one I planned to order online, I couldn’t resist the idea of not having to clean around the traps anymore.

The towels, rug and soap dispenser are all from Target. I did struggle to decide on which accent color to bring in, but I really love the pops of orange and yellow.

I wish it were possible to get a photo without the light on so that you could see it better, but this room is pitch black without it. The photos are a little blurry from the lack of light, but they’re fairly accurate in terms of color.

I was able to visit Anthropologie in person twice on my trip to the East Coast – in Montreal and Baltimore – and fell in love with these brass and mother of pearl knobs. I ordered two more for the linen cabinet, but I preferred the look of the dark bronze on the lighter paint color instead.

A final before and after comparison…

Overall, this was a fun project and well worth the time and effort. Even with the $287 for the plumber, we came in right on budget at around $1750. The space is much more pleasant to use, and I no longer cringe when we have guests ask to use the restroom. I still have some little things to do like figure out how to reattach a portion of the shower liner and replace the shelves inside the medicine cabinet, but for now, I’m pretty happy with the results.


West Elm consistently offers a wide selection of beautiful table lamps at great prices. Today they’re offering 20% off all lamps (there are other site wide sales too), so you can snag a great new lamp for an even better price. These are just a few of my favorites…

1. The Clear Disc Table Lamp

$159 marked down from $199.

2. The Faceted Stone Table Lamp

$199 marked down from $249.

3. Abacus Table Lamp in Mercury

$159 marked down from $199.

4. Mid-Century Jar Table Lamp

$103 marked down from $129.

5. Mid-Century Bullet Table Lamp

$119 marked down from $149

6. Clint Mini Task Lamp in Red

$79 marked down from $99

7. Mini Abacus Table Lamp in Milk

$55 marked down from $69.

8. Marble Pillar Lamp

$183 marked down from $229

9. Perch Table Lamp in Rose Gold

$79 marked down from $81.

10. Parsons Bone Tile Table Lamp

$119 marked down from $149

Many of the smaller lamps would be great for adding light to book case shelves if you have holes drilled for the cords or in other tight spots. If you like any of these lamps,  I would order today in order to take advantage of the sale.


Once my client and I agreed on a direction for the furniture layout in her living room and dining room, the next step was to determine a color story for the space. The colors we use need to play well with the existing elements in the space. The trim is oak, and the floors are a light maple. The fireplace is a red brick, which is thankfully not too bossy. The floor in the entryway is a slate look tile, and the walls were just painted Benjamin Moore Litchfield Gray. The kitchen, which is visible from the TV nook,  was designed in shades of warm grays and taupes. 

I knew my client loves red, but I wanted to see what other colors she would be open to, so I sent her my Color Questionnaire and asked that she and her husband to complete it separately. The questionnaire is based on researched conducted by Shigenobu Kobayashi in Japan during the 1980s in conjunction with the Nippon Research Institute. I relied on Kobayashi’s work heavily for my masters thesis and found that his results are still relevant today. I’ve previously used his Color Image Scale with other clients to establish palettes for their businesses and homes and love how accurate it is.

My client was convinced that she and her husband would want completely different moods and colors in their space, but their responses were actually very similar. I analyzed the results and found that they wanted to create an enjoyable, casual, natural space that was simple, open and cheerful.

I looked at each of the colors that they selected and used them to generate several color palettes that would invoke the mood we were hoping to create. In each of these palettes, the color on the far right is the Benjamin Moore Litchfield Gray.

Option 1:

Option 2:

Option 3:

Option 4:

I emailed these options to my client for her to review with her husband. Neither of them care much for Option 1, saying it was too boring, which I totally expected. Nor did they care for Option 3, which I also expected. Her husband liked Option 2, and she liked Option 5 because it included the bright red she likes so much but didn’t care for the “peach” tone. I tweaked them a little and came up with a final palette.

These colors are just a guideline for the different elements, such as rugs, artwork, pillows, lamps, and other accessories, that we’ll be pulling into the two connecting spaces. I am envisioning the tan hue in the middle as representative of the wood tones in the flooring, furniture and trim. I am picturing neutral, light colored furniture and possibly a sleek leather recliner in the corner of the living room where the husband can read. I think colorful rugs, maybe flat weave kilims, would connect well with their artwork and help set the stage for the other accessories by bringing in color and pattern.

If you are interested in a personalized color analysis, I would be happy to work with you on connecting how you want your space to feel with the colors you should be bringing into your space. Call or email me today to begin the process.

jillian@jillianlare.com or 515-344-3140


Hello! I am back from an extended vacation to the East Coast to visit family and friends and happy to return to my husband and puppies as well as my clients and projects. Just before I left, I met with a client, with whom I worked last year on remodeling her kitchen. Once the kitchen was complete, she wanted to continue designing the rest of her first floor living space by turning what had previously been the formal dining area into a TV watching nook. She also wanted to update the look of her formal living area as well as the paneled wall and railing in the entryway. In addition, we’re going to turn a little sunroom off the master bedroom into her office, since she works from home and needs a dedicated, well organized space.

I am especially excited about this project because the client is so wonderful (and has adorable dogs), and I always enjoy our conversations about her home and how she and her husband use their space. She has a great eye for antiques and a beautiful collection of Alaskan sculpture that we are going to incorporate into the design.

Before I left for Pennsylvania, I measured the living areas on the first floor and the sunroom. At first glance, I didn’t think that I would run into any difficulties determining a space plan, but the layout turned out to be incredibly challenging. The formal living area is large, but the windows are off center in the space. I prefer symmetry as much as possible, so I have to admit that I am struggling with this a little.

Here is the living room, looking straight in from the entryway.

The substantial brick hearth juts out into the room and sits up fairly high, which reduces the actual floor space considerably and blocks the corners of the room once the furniture is placed. Since the former dining room is now going to be used for watching television, I was also concerned with how the two rooms relate to each other both in terms of of flow and aesthetics. I think that what happens at the corner where they meet is particularly important.

In this view, I’m standing back by the fireplace looking towards the entryway and the former dining area (soon to be TV nook). You can see how all of the spaces are open and connect to one another.

I came up with several options for the formal living area and two options each for the TV nook and sunroom. The formal living room is going to be used primarily for entertaining and possibly for reading. Even though it’s a more formal space, my client wants the furniture to be comfortable enough for relaxing, and I agree with her. I have a difficult time designing spaces that aren’t meant to be well used.

Here is the space without any furniture in it…

I started by flipping the current arrangement and using a smaller sofa in order to create a space in the corner of the living room for my client’s future home office. We were concerned that this plan felt a little awkward, and she didn’t like the idea of facing the wall while she works.

This layout shows the living room much as it is configured now. The client currently has an 8′ sofa and two upholstered chairs as well as a leather ottoman. The sofa and one of the chairs are a little too big for the space. The flow from the kitchen into the TV nook is somewhat awkward in this layout as well, so we’ve already ruled this plan out completely.

I felt that I had to come up with one option where we used the living room for watching TV and the old dining area as an office. Neither the client or I liked this configuration at all and discarded it right away.

While we were moving furniture around during our meeting, we experimented with putting her sofa facing the fireplace and the two chairs in the corner. Again, the furniture she currently has is too large, so it felt a little tight, but when I got home, I drew it up as an option using smaller scale pieces. Both of us like this layout the best so far. I think with a low backed sofa in a light color, it will still feel fairly open. It makes the best use of the living room space and doesn’t conflict with the furniture in the TV nook.

The one downside to the option above is that there are no electrical outlets in the floor where I’ve shown the sofa. It is important to consider how you are going to provide lighting at every seat, especially when floating furniture in a room. In this case, I would probably want to position a floor lamp behind the sofa, so the lack of outlets are a big negative and something we’ll need to consider adding if we go this route.

Finally, I drew up a plan at the last minute that shows two sofas facing each other. Here, I’ve used the same sofa on each side, but I think that the one on the right of the fireplace could be a love seat instead. I like this plan because it opens up the room quite a bit, keeps the fireplace as the focal point, and provides ample seating. Plus, I was able to use a 9′ x 12′ rug which would be the jumping off point for the rest of the design.

In each of these options, I’ve assumed that we’ll be adding built-ins on either side of the fireplace, but I have some additional ideas for that wall space that could work instead. So, what do you think? Which layout would you choose if it were your space?


Earlier this week, I met with one of my clients at her home. She and her husband purchased this house within the last couple years. Last Fall, I helped with redesigning her kitchen, and now we are working on creating on office space and furnishing the rest of her first floor.

As I was measuring a space off her master bedroom, I caught of glimpse of her master bathroom. From my view point, it looked particularly pretty and well done – lots of white marble tile paired with aqua glass mosaic, a huge frameless glass shower, a soaker tub and a double vanity.

After I finished up and was getting ready to leave, I mentioned to her how pretty it looked and asked if she had remodeled it. She said no, that the previous owners had remodeled it. And, then she took me into the bathroom and showed me that while it was pretty, it wasn’t very functional and that certain details were very poorly done. She said, “I think they just went to (insert big box store name here) and had everything done through there.”

As I thought about it more, I realized what a shame it was that the previous owners hadn’t hired a professional designer to help them through the process and make sure that the project was executed properly. I estimate that this bathroom cost between $30,000 and $40,000, which is a lot of money for something that doesn’t work and isn’t perfectly finished.

For example, the vanity was obviously a stock piece and didn’t fit in the space properly. The countertop had gaps around the edges that the contractor attempted to cover up with pieces of marble trim (not a good look). The storage was less than ideal, and instead of medicine cabinets, they used decorative mirrors. Those can look great but not if the lack of storage isn’t made up for somewhere else.

If my client is ever up for it, I’ll suggest completely tearing out the vanity and having a new one made from semi-custom cabinetry to fit exactly, swapping the mirrors for medicine cabinets and recessing some shelving into the adjacent walls. The sad part is that this solution probably wouldn’t have cost any more if it had been planned for from the beginning.

So, if you’re considering any sort of renovation project, think about calling an interior designer first. She may be able to more than make up her fee by saving you money on costly mistakes. Even if you don’t think a full service designer can fit into your budget, many designers, myself included, would be happy to meet with you for a couple hours to answer questions, make suggestions, and do some quick sketches to get you off on the right foot.


It took me a little bit longer than I thought it would, but I finally came up with a specific budget and plan for the Guest Bathroom Mini-Makeover. I decided to go with the Anthropologie shower curtain because its color scheme connects well with the adjacent hallway and dining room and because my mother weighed in and said she thought it was the better choice.

I went with warm metals for the finishes, but mixed it up by including oil rubbed bronze, antiqued brass and gold. At first, I selected a chrome faucet that I really liked but it just looked too bright and shiny next to everything else. One of the benefits of making a concept board like this is that you can instantly see if one of your choices doesn’t look exactly right.

In order to stay under budget, all of my selections are a mix of medium to low. I almost cheaped out on the faucet. There were some really pretty options on Faucets Direct for under $100, but I took the advice I always give my clients and stuck with a reputable brand. I chose the Devonshire from Kohler, which is a solid standby. When something has moving parts and you’re touching it multiple times a day, you want it to hold up.

I did consider spending more on the light fixture because I recently fell in love with the Pittock Double Sconce from Rejuvenation and wanted to mount it horizontally, but I couldn’t justify the cost in this room. Maybe in our master someday. I like the warm gold tone of this one from Minka Lavery as well as the frosted shades that point upward instead of straight down, which creates shadows on the face. Plus, it takes three 100 W bulbs, which I can put on a dimmer.

I debated more of a vintage style medicine cabinet, but I wanted it to be streamlined and simple with as much reflective surface as possible. I’ve used this cabinet from Kohler in client’s homes, and it’s great because it’s mirrored on the inside with glass shelves. Plus, it’s very well priced in comparison to Nutone or Robern. The tissue holder and towel ring were budget finds at Ballard Designs. The wall hooks and cabinet hardware are from Anthropolgie, and the decorative towels are from World Market. The flooring is peel and stick vinyl tile from Lowes – cheap and easy to install.

I found the brass and glass shelf/towel rack at Bellacor. I was originally looking for a train rack style shelf and couldn’t find any I liked that weren’t chrome or had a towel bar as opposed to hooks. I like this shelf option because it’s 22″ wide, so two towels can hang folded side by side, and the glass shelves are nice for holding toiletries for guests. With twelve different finish options, this was a great find for future projects, and I’m interested to see what the quality is like in person.

Here’s how the budget breaks down…

You can see the sink faucet is the single most expensive item, and the toilet comes in a close second. Like I mentioned above, this makes total sense because they are mechanical and are used often. I included $100 for Accessories like bath mats and extra towels and another $150 for paint and supplies. With tax and shipping costs, I should end up right around $2000.

This project will be on hold for the next month as I’m traveling back to Pennsylvania, but when I get back in July, I plan for this bathroom to be my first big accomplishment of the summer.


Today has been gorgeous…warm sunshine, a soft breeze. I spent most of the afternoon cleaning out my closet, sorting clothes into piles for consignment and good will. Relaxing on the deck with my watercolors and sketchbook seemed like the perfect way to wrap up the day.

One of my goals for the summer is to work in my sketchbook daily. As a teacher, I am always trying to get my students to develop a sketchbook habit. As a designer, it’s incredibly important to be able to document your environment as well as make ideas in your head come to life on the page.

In my sketchbook, I am not so concerned with my drawings being perfect. I am just trying to have fun and enjoy the process of making art, much like I did in grade school before art became less about the process and more about getting it right.