Ashton at 9 months

My Top New Baby Must-Haves for First-Time Moms – Birth to Six Months

I’ve been experiencing a little bit of writer’s block lately, and I think it’s partly because I’ve been too concerned with keeping this space focused entirely on design. I first started blogging back in 2009 when I had just moved to Iowa. I wrote about anything and everything, and I miss that freedom of expression.

Last year, I was having the same sort of block, and it was because I had been dealing with trying to get pregnant for so long that it was hard to focus on anything else. I finally wrote about it in this post, and it felt so good to get it all out there. Well, I never went back and wrote a follow-up post on the biggest thing going on in our lives ever since – having a baby!

Ashton – Two Weeks Old

Ashton was born on November 18, 2017, and he is nine months old now. Becoming a mom for the first time at 38, almost 39, has been quite the roller coaster ride of energy and emotions. There have been lots of high, and a few lows. I don’t know much about babies in general, but I think he’s a pretty good baby on the whole. He’s mostly happy and generally sleeps pretty well, though teething has thrown us for a bit of loop. And, he’s definitely going through a mama phase right now that can be very challenging.

Ashton – Three Months

Ashton arrived two weeks early, and needless to say, we were a little underprepared in many ways. His room was mostly done, and it is still just “mostly” done. Definitely not Instagram worthy yet. We had many of the things we needed on hand when we brought him home, but then there were other new baby items we had no idea about until we did a lot of late night Googling and Amazon searching. We learned quite a bit by trial and error.

Ashton at 9 months

I read a lot of blog posts on baby registries and baby must-haves, many of them wildly different. So, I thought our list of new baby must-haves might be helpful for any first-time moms out there or if you know someone about to become a first-time mom. And, I broke it down into birth to six months because I feel like things wildly changed around that time. Once I regain my footing, I’ll write a follow up on what we’ve been loving from six months to a year.

Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I might earn a small commission if you click through them and make a purchase. It does not cost you anything.

New Baby Must-Have List Printable Checklist

Nursery Gear

This is by no means a comprehensive list for planning a nursery. I intend to write a separate post on our nursery whenever I get around to finishing it. This list includes some of the things we keep in our nursery that we’ve found to be necessities and didn’t fall into one of the other categories.

Video Monitor. I have a love/hate relationship with the video monitor. Intellectually, I know that babies survived for thousands of years, myself included, without being constantly monitored via camera. But, as a 21st-century anxiety-prone mama, it helps me that I can see him sleeping whenever I want. We registered for this model, and it works well but also has a couple of design flaws. The light blinks on and off constantly, and it’s very bright in a dark room. It also has a limited range. You can check out the top baby monitors on Amazon here. Ours is number six.

Baby Hangers. Baby hangers were definitely on the list of things I had no clue I needed until I realized how annoying it is to fold baby clothes with arms and legs. We hang up all the outfits that he wears to “school” and all long sleeve onesies. It’s so much easier than folding them and hoping they stay folded.

Hamper. A dedicated hamper in the baby’s room is a necessity for me. I wash his clothes separately and often. This hamper has a removable mesh bag that I take out and use to carry clothes to and from the laundry room.

New baby must-haves for first-time moms. Target gray fabric storage box with lid

Storage Boxes. Baby’s have so much little stuff, and it’s nice to keep corralled and neatly tucked away. I picked up some cute storage boxes at IKEA and use them to store the Diaper Genie refills, wipe refills, the next size of clothes, and a lot of the miscellaneous items that we don’t need all the time but want to have close by. Target has this cute option in its new closet collection.

Small Wastebasket + Liners. We placed a small wastebasket by our changing station in the early days when we were still taking care of his belly button and circumcision. It’s handy for discarding wipes that aren’t soiled, clothing tags, tissues and other little things that shouldn’t go in the diaper pail.

Baby Clothes

Figuring out our favorite baby clothes was kind of a process. We were so lucky in that friends gave us huge bins of clothes, and we received many more as gifts. We bought barely any clothes until he was around six months old.

In the early days (winter months), when it was all about survival, we relied heavily on footed long-sleeve onesies and fleece sleep sacks.

One of my clients gifted us two magnetic closure onesies, which we adored. They were super soft and so easy to get on and off.

As he got older, he wore more of the short sleeve onesies. And once it got hot, we purchased several rompers for wearing to daycare and during the day.

I’ve linked to mostly Burts Bees baby clothes because, while they are more expensive, they are my favorites. The fabric is very soft, and they have a lot of give, which means he can wear them longer. And, they’ve really held up over time and abuse. We’ve also loved the Cat & Jack line from Target and the Carter’s brand of course.

What you need is going to vary based on the time of year your baby is born. With a winter newborn, we used more long-sleeve onesies with legs than short-sleeve no legs. And, of course, you will want to get some socks and hats, but type will depend on time of year. We left the house very little for the first few months, so we didn’t use many hats. We did go through a lot of socks.

  • Onesies: long-sleeve with legs, long-sleeve no legs, short-sleeve no legs (6-12 of each)
  • Hats: cotton (3) and wool or fleece if winter (1-2)
  • Sleep Sack with arms: fleece for winter, cotton for summer (3)
  • Pants: Cotton or fleece (3-6)
  • Socks: Cotton or fleece (6 pairs)
  • Rompers: Warm weather only (6-12)

Diapering

Our nursery is on our main level, only a few steps from the living room and right next door to our bedroom, so we only have one changing station. We purchased a vintage dresser because it was lower in height (I’m short) and added a dresser topper for the changing pad that we screwed into the top. A friend gave us a nice basket (cute alternative) for organizing all of the changing supplies. We keep it fully stocked on the right side because we are both right-handed.

Diaper Genie. You will need some sort of system for disposing of diapers. We like the Diaper Genie and its refills, and I would purchase this system again. It definitely has its drawbacks…like when you run out of bag right when you need it the most, but overall, I’m happy with it. I don’t think any diaper pail is going to contain all the smells all the time, but this one does a decent job.

Changing Pad + Cover + Dresser Topper. As I mentioned above, we converted a vintage dresser into a changing table by adding a dresser topper, which Keegan screwed into the top of the dresser (it wasn’t a pedigreed piece of furniture, otherwise, I’d think twice about that). The secured topper is a must for keeping the pad from sliding around. I didn’t think that would be such a big deal until a month ago when Ashton decided changing time is torture and thrashes about like a fish on the beach. I also only purchased one changing pad cover, which was crazy, and I think it would be better to have two or three on hand.

Pampers SwaddlersWe tried Luvs and Honest Company, but the hospital gave us Pampers Swaddlers to start, and we think they are the most reliable. I particularly like the handy wetness indicator that lets you know at a glance whether the diaper is wet or not. We were shocked at how many diapers we blew through in the first couple months – 10 a day at least.

Pampers Sensitive Wipes. We tried all the wipes too, and we stick with Pampers here too. We have purchased both the refills and the package with the pop-top. I prefer the pop-top because I can never get them to pull out one at a time from the refills. When I need wipes, I usually need them NOW.

Wipe Warmer. Ashton really hated cold wipes in the beginning, and we were willing to do anything to make diaper changing more pleasant. He stopped howling once we started keeping wipes in a warmer.

Aquaphor. We purchased all the organic diaper creams in the beginning, and I do like the Honest Company brand for daily use. But, when Ashton got a diaper rash in the very beginning, my sister-in-law recommended Aquaphor, and it worked like a charm. We keep a big tub on hand and use it preventatively as well.

Vaseline and gauze pads. The hospital will probably send you home with some vaseline and gauze pads to put on baby’s belly button while it heals. And, if you circumcise your boy baby, you’ll need these for at least a couple weeks.

Sleeping

Glider Swing. We (I) told myself before Ashton was born that I would not create a situation where he needed a prop to fall asleep. I read all the books. I knew all about baby sleep, etc etc etc. Let me tell you, that all flew out the window immediately. One night at 3AM, Keegan ordered this Gracco Glider Swing, and it was the best. We only used it for the first six weeks, but it made those six weeks so much easier.

Bassinette. We started with bassinette from a friend that had a flat bottom. It was very nice, but Ashton wouldn’t sleep in it. When we transitioned out of the glider swing, he slept in this cocoon-like bassinette until he was too big for it.

Pacifiers. We liked these and these. He did not like the rubber kind.

Velcro Swaddlers. We used velcro swaddlers a lot when we were still swaddling. We were given a few, the hospital sent us home with a larger one, and then we purchased a few more. I would buy three of the newborn size to start, and you can always get the larger ones if your baby likes them. They are both good and bad. The velcro is faster than using a swaddle blanket, but undoing the velcro is loud. So, if you have a baby you’re trying to keep asleep at night, the velcro isn’t always the best.

muslin swaddle blankets

Swaddle Blankets. The muslin swaddle blankets, especially the Aden + Anais brand, are awesome to have on hand. We used multiple a day for the first few months, and we still use them now to cover up in the stroller and to play peekaboo with. Depending on how much you want to do laundry, I think six is a good number. Maybe more if you use them exclusively for swaddling.

Magic Suit. Ashton was pretty much done with being swaddled by three months, and we were at our wit’s end of what to do. It was obvious he needed something, but he hated being swaddled. I did some quick Googling and discovered the Merlin Magic Sleepsuit. When it comes to new parents and sleep, you’ll find that $39.95 sounds like practically free if it means you might sleep for four hours at a time. If your baby likes being swaddled, you probably won’t need this, but it was a lifesaver for us. I should have bought two just in case one got soiled in the night, but thankfully that never happened. Once we started using the sleep suit, he began sleeping for longer and longer stretches and eventually straight through the night.

New baby must-haves for first-time moms. Baby wearing Magic Merlin Sleep Suit

Ashton in his magic sleep suit.

At six months, we got the larger version but only used it for about a month when he started rolling over. We realized it was time to transition when he started waking up again because he was mad that he couldn’t roll over.

Halo SleepSack. This was another quick Amazon purchase that we waited too long to buy. When Ashton had enough of the sleep suit, we bought the sleep sack to keep him cozy at night. I definitely need to order a backup or two so I don’t need to wash it so often. But, this thing is like Teflon. He’s spit-up (ok, vomited) on it a few times now, and it wipes right off.

Feeding

Bottles. We were lucky to be gifted an assortment of hand-me-down bottles, which let us try out different brands without having to purchase them. We did not like some of the more popular brands and settled on the Dr. Brown’s while Ashton was drinking 4 oz or less at a time because they seemed to control his gas better. When he started drinking bigger bottles, we switched to Phillips Avent because we had been given a full set with the bottle steamer. We like them and have purchased more.

Bottle Steamer. One of my bigger regrets is that we didn’t buy a countertop bottle steamer/drier/sterilizer. The whole bottle routine seems to take forever and feels like such a chore every night. We use the Phillips Avent bottle steamer, and it works really well as a low-tech affordable solution with the Avent bottles. Do not even mess with those steamer bags unless you are traveling.

Formula & Mixing Pitcher. Breastfeeding just didn’t work out for us for many reasons, and we switched entirely to formula around seven weeks. We supplemented from the beginning and soon got tired of preparing bottles individually. Keegan found these awesome formula mixing pitchers. We purchased two so that we always have a clean one on hand.

Flannel Blankets and Burp Rags. I knew burp rags were a thing of course, but I didn’t know how useful flannel receiving blankets were until we brought Ashton home. We keep a stack in the nursery and a few in a kitchen drawer.

Bathing, Hygiene & Health

Baby Bathtub. We started out bathing Ashton in the sink using the Blooming Bath Lotus. It worked perfectly and was so adorable. When he got too big, we started bathing him in the tub with the Primo EuroBath, which we are still using.

Hooded Towels. We only had one baby sized hooded towel, and we used it until about six months. Then we switched to a regular size towel with a hood that a friend made for us. There is nothing cuter than a freshly bathed baby wrapped in a hooded towel.

Washcloths.

Kneeler. Until baby can sit up unassisted, you will be kneeling over him in the bathtub, and that tile floor gets hard.

Moisturizer and Body Wash. We’ve been using the Honest Company since day 1.

Nasal Aspirator. Total honesty…snot grosses me out way more than poop. I hate cleaning out his nose, but the Nose Frida is truly a must-have. If your baby goes to daycare, he is guaranteed to get a cold. We never even used the bulb syringe after we started using the “snot sucker.”

Nail Clippers. Being a jewelry maker, I haven’t had many issues with nail clipping if I can get him to hold still long enough. My sister-in-law recommends a nail filer.

Ear Thermometer. I decided if it was good enough for our doctor, it was good enough for me.

Baby Tylenol. Your doctor may recommend a dose of Tylenol after vaccinations. Ashton did spike a little fever a few times in the first several months, and we used Tylenol at our doctor’s recommendation.

Travel

Diaper Bag. We have the HaloVa Diaper Bag, which is the #2 diaper bag on Amazon. I like it for several reasons, but it’s not entirely perfect. My favorite feature is the front insulated pocket for bottles. We bring three bottles to daycare, and they fit perfectly. We can also squeeze in a small cold pack if necessary. It has pockets on the side for diapers and wipes and several pockets inside. My only gripe is that the interior is kind of tight. There is a zipper on the back so you can access the bottom of the back without taking everything out.

Stroller with Travel System. I registered for the Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System for one big reason – it was the lightest stroller that was collapsible with one hand. Now “light” is an interesting term because it doesn’t take into account the seat, which is ungodly heavy. I do love the stroller quite a bit. I don’t like three things about the car seat. First, the straps are impossible to position when you’re trying to get the baby into it. Second, the straps seem to be incredibly tight – it’s hard to maneuver his legs through them. Three, there is no way that I can tell to get the baby out of the seat without taking the seat out of the car. Maybe I’ve just got new mom brain, but I simply can’t figure it out.

Car Seat Cover. Depending on the month your baby is born, you will want to purchase a car seat cover that can completely protect baby from the elements. We chose a fleece cover like this one.

Baby Carrier. We did not choose to wear Ashton all that much. We also had the luxury of both staying at home with him for three and a half months, so maybe we would have used it more if we were solo. We did get both a wrap and a Baby Bjorn. I wish I had used the Baby Bjorn more because it was super easy to adjust. Ashton is so heavy now and so active, I don’t see myself carrying him anywhere we could bring a stroller. Maybe I need to try baby carrying more, but it really hasn’t been something I loved to do (of course, I carry him in my arms all the time). I did include it on my list because it came in handy occasionally.

Baby Equipment

Boppy pillow. The boppy pillow was one of our first purchases after we got home from the hospital, and we both used it for holding him and feeding him bottles for a long time. As he got bigger, we took our cues from the daycare and would let him lie on it on the floor or prop him up for tummy time. When he first started sitting, we’d put it around his back so he wouldn’t fall over and hurt himself.

New baby must-haves for first-time moms. Baby playing in DockATot

Ashton playing in DockATot

DockATot + Arc + Toys. Is this somewhat pricey dog bed looking contraption an absolute necessity? No, it’s definitely not. Did we use it daily up until about a month ago? Yes, multiple times a day. I originally registered for the DockATot thinking it would be nice to put him in it on the bed with me so we could nap together. Then they revised their guidelines against using it for sleep. My honest reaction to that was “what on earth is it good for then?” So again, being anxiety-ridden, I never let him sleep in it or lay in it while I wasn’t in the room.

New baby must-haves for first-time moms. Baby sleeping in DockATot

Ashton sleeping in DockATot

We kept the DockATot on our dining table (our dining room is open to the living room and kitchen), and we would place him in it whenever we needed to put him down for a few minutes to get something done. We used it as a spot to put on his jackets and hats when it was still cold and for keeping him contained while we clipped his nails and cleaning his nose and ears. We would put it on the coffee table when he was really little while we watched TV. The toys may look too simple to entertain a baby, but he loved them. They were the first toys he really interacted with and tried batting at. I still have it in his nursery and use it once in a while. I was very happy that we registered for the DockATot and would recommend it to anyone.

New baby must-haves for first-time moms. Baby in play gym.

Ashton in his larger play gym.

Play Gym. When Ashton was around two months old, we realized he was ready for new experiences. We had a little play gym a friend had given us, and we put it in our living room and propped up some stuffed animals around it. This was a life-changing moment. He would happily lay in the play gym for twenty minutes at a time, staring at the lights and listening to the music. As he got older, he would interact with the toys that hung down. Eventually, he got too big for the first play gym – the toys would hang on his face – so we swapped it out for a taller version that lasted until he became really mobile. Even though they are more expensive, I would opt for a version with lights and music.

new baby must-haves for first-time moms

Large Baby Play Mat. We started floor play with the play gym and eventually added small blankets around it to create a clean play surface once he started rolling over. One day, Keegan decided that laying all these blankets out was stupid and ordered a large baby play mat. We love this thing. It’s soft, slightly padded, durable and washable. I even feel like it’s slightly water repellant. It also has a grippy pattern on the back so it won’t move around on a smooth surface. This mat would be great for playing outside too. This is the exact one we purchased, and it comes in several fun patterns. I don’t know why it has negative reviews…it’s been nothing but awesome.

Hanging Toys. I think these are pretty self-explanatory. We have a toy hanging from his car seat and of course from the play gym when we used it and also his activity center.

Activity Center. Around four months old, which was maybe a little young, we put Ashton in this activity center for a few minutes at a time. He can hang out in it for maybe 10-15 minutes now before he gets bored because he loves to be moving. But, for a couple months after he could sit by himself, this was the hot spot for him to play. We have one kind of like this Baby Einstein version in the house, and then we bought another one for the patio from the consignment store.

Door Swing Jumper. This was another hand-me-down from a friend, and Ashton adores it. As soon as we put him in it (around six months), he went crazy for it. He is pretty much always happy to be in it unless he is super tired or hungry. We have it hanging in the door to our kitchen so he can hang out with us while we cook or prep his bag for daycare.

Things We Didn’t Love

The Bumbo seat. Ashton hated this chair. We saw people using it on Facebook and thought he would love it for sitting up, but he couldn’t stand it. Even though he was technically too young for it, his chubby legs were too big for the openings.

Bottle Warmer. We couldn’t agree on how much to spend on this device (and none had great reviews), so we bought a cheap one, and it sucked. So, we continue to warm up all of his bottles in an insulated cup that we already had with hot water. It works perfectly though it’s not great at 2 AM when you have a screaming hungry baby in your arms.


I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be turning this space into a mommy blog, but I do intend to write about motherhood and its up and downs from time to time. I know that whenever I am struggling with a particular challenge (hello eight-month sleep regression), it helps to read about how other moms and dads dealt with it and got through it. So, if sharing my experiences can help even one frazzled new mom or dad, then it is definitely worth it to me to write about them.

We were very lucky and grateful to have several friends give us their hand-me-downs. We have a whole section of our basement filled with bins of clothes and baby toys and equipment where we “go shopping” when we need something. If we don’t find it, our next stop is an awesome consignment store where we’ve been purchasing all of our toys and some clothes. If that fails, then we hit Amazon or Target. We get diapers and wipes from Walmart and order formula in bulk from Amazon.

Do you have any new baby must-haves I missed that you would recommend? We’re entering new territory as he starts walking any day now, and I would love your advice or product recommendations for nine-month to 18-month-old babies.

Original Abstract Painting

Easy Ways to Update Your Home Decor for Spring

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of the links in this post, I may earn a tiny commission at no additional cost to you.

I don’t know about you, but I am dying for warm sunshine, long walks that don’t involve boots or overcoats, a shiny clean car, and open-toed shoes. Here in Iowa, it isn’t looking anything like Spring. In fact, we have snow in our forecast today!

But even if it’s still gray and gloomy outside, we can infuse a little Springtime into our interiors. In this post, I’ve rounded up some easy ways you can brighten up your home in preparation for the warmer months ahead from some of my favorite Etsy shops.

Mix it up with Pillows

First up is my tried and true favorite – throw pillows. Pillows are such an easy way to bring color and pattern into your space without a huge commitment. I love the idea of having one set of pillows for winter and another for the warmer months. Consider switching out heavy knits and thick velvets for lightweight linen and cotton covers in soft and pretty neutral hues or delicate patterns.

spring home decor, boho pillows light pillows spring pillows

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Light & Modern Pottery

I am a bit of a houseplant collector. I have ten just in my living room and am always thinking about what type of plant I’d like to add next. If you’re not great with succulents (like me), try tiny tropicals and begonias. I love finding decorative planters and choosing the perfect plants to pair with them. I’m fond of anything blue and white, as well as vintage cermaics in shades of green and yellow.

By planting interesting pottery in light colors with interesting textures, you get the added boost of the pretty ceramics in combination with the fresh greenery. Or simply swap any heavy or dark pottery on your shelves with simple white forms like the lovely vases I’ve pictured below. Etsy is one of my favorite sources for planters, along with West Elm, and of course, our family garden center, which just opened for the season.

Spring Home Decor - Light Modern Pottery - Handmade on Etsy

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Add Colorful Happy Art

There are so many sources for affordable artwork online, with Etsy and Minted being two of my favorites.  I painted all of the walls in our new house white because I knew I wanted to make artwork a focal point. I have several spots where it’s very easy to rotate the art in and out with the seasons just like I would pillows. If you want to cheer yourself up while we’re waiting for this dreary season to end, you can hang a bright poppy print for a dose of cheerful color.

home decor for spring, bright happy art

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Do you have any decor that you rotate with the seasons? Please share in the comments!

Samsung-Picture-Frame_courtesy-of-Samsung-1

Samsung Frame TV Review: Finally a TV I Don’t Want to Hide

This Samsung Frame TV review is honest and unsponsored. We paid full price for our television on Amazon. However, this post does contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you purchase something after clicking on one of them.

Samsung Frame TV Review

Image via Samsung

When we moved into our new house this summer, we needed to purchase a TV for our living room because we left our previous television behind at our old house as part of the purchase agreement with the new owners. I had seen the Samsung Frame TV floating around the blogosphere and thought it was the perfect solution for us.

Samsung Frame TV Review - Jillian Lare: An honest, unsponsored review of the Samsung Frame Television

The 65″ Frame over Our Fireplace

The best spot for the TV in our new living room is over the fireplace. But, as a designer, I hate the look of the television over the fireplace or as the main focal point of a room. I also don’t watch a lot of TV on my own – almost never, in fact – and I didn’t want to stare at a black screen all day while home with the baby.

stacked stone fireplace samsung frame tv revere pewter

Samsung Frame in a Client’s Living Room

Not being a big TV watcher, I don’t care a whole lot about technology but I do care about aesthetics. Keegan is the exact opposite. The Frame appeared to be a great solution for both of us in that it looks awesome but has all of the latest technology packed inside. When reading a lot of the blogger reviews on the frame, I noticed they talked a whole lot about how fabulous the TV looks, but they don’t mention very much about how it works. How it works is very important, and there are some particulars you need to know before you invest in this pricey and trendy piece of technology.

The Wall Bracket

The Frame is perfectly rectangular with crisp corners and a minimal frame that comes in three interchangeable colors – black, white, and wood. It also boasts a super sleek, no gap, wall mounting bracket that allows the TV to sit flush on the wall. If you’ve hung a TV in the past ten years, you know that this huge. Usually, there is some sort of gap, which drives me crazy.

Samsung Frame TV Review - Wall Bracket Gap - Jillian Lare Interior Design

In this photo, you can see that there’s more of a gap at the top than at the bottom. The bracket allows you to tilt the television forward slightly, which we opted to do given the mounting height.

Samsung Zero Gap Wall Mount Bracket

 

Our electricians hung the television for us, and this was their first experience with this bracket and particular television. They grumbled at first because the fit is very tight. It definitely requires two people to hang the television and finagle the connections while doing so. But, in the end, they had to admit that the design was very slick.

The Box and Connection

The new Samsung televisions come with a sleek box and almost invisible clear cord, which means there are no unsightly wires running between the television and its peripherals. For cord cutters like us, the advantage is that the box has connection for an HD antenna, which means you don’t have to run CoAx cable to the TV.

Samsung Frame TV Review - Jillian Lare: An honest, unsponsored review of the Samsung Frame Television

That little white cord is the only connection between the TV and the box. It’s clear/white and nearly invisible. We thought about having it run through the wall and may still do that at some point, but we had just painted and didn’t want to tear up the drywall. The television comes with a 15′ cord. If you need yours to travel a longer distance, Samsung has a 50′ cord available that you can purchase separately.

Samsung Frame TV Review - Jillian Lare: An honest, unsponsored review of the Samsung Frame Television

This photo shows the box (bottom) with our AppleTV, Amazon Fire, and universal remote receiver. We now have this little stack of boxes and our receiver, so it all takes up much less space than our previous set up.

The box itself is very minimal and thin with no lights or buttons on the face. The salesperson at Best Buy explained to me that the idea is to store all of the firmware for the TV on the box so that if there is a major upgrade in a few years, you will only have to buy a new box and not a new TV. If this turns out to be true, that will be pretty amazing, because I’m pretty sure this is the last TV we’re ever going to buy. An exaggeration but this thing wasn’t cheap, so it better last!

Setup

I set up the Frame myself after the electricians took off. We installed it several months ago, so I don’t remember all the details, but it took around five minutes, and I had no issues with it at all. The TV walks you through the process, and you use the remote that comes with it to control everything.

Interface & Remote Control

The accompanying remote control is small, minimal, and white. The white finish is nice because it’s easy to distinguish from our other remote controls. FYI, we no longer use the Samsung remote except for Art mode. We use the Harmony remote instead…more on that later (link to newest version).

The power button at the top switches between the TV mode and the art mode. Volume and channel at the bottom are pretty self-explanatory.

The remote is programmable, but we didn’t get a chance to full customize it before we decided to switch to our universal remote. The 123 button is used for inputting numbers for channels. The button with the colored dots can be programmed for certain repeat functions. You can also control the TV by voice command, which can come in handy.

Samsung Frame TV Review - Jillian Lare: An honest, unsponsored review of the Samsung Frame Television

The Samsung Frame has a Smart TV interface that allows you to download apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc. The Home button calls up the menu of apps at the bottom of the screen, and you use the wheel to scroll through them. The center button on the wheel is the Select/OK button.

The little icons off to the left are for Settings, Source, Search, Apps, and Art mode, respectively. Like I mentioned above, we use the Frame with Apple TV and Amazon Fire. We have an antenna for our local channels and PlayStation Vue for cable. PlayStation is accessible through both the Apple TV and Amazon Fire, which are added and managed using the Source icon.

The sources are where the interface broke down for us. We were easily able to add all of our sources and had no issue with selecting Live TV from the list of apps on the Home screen. You can also see an option for Amazon Fire in the photo above but no option for Apple TV. They worked at first but eventually got confused. We would select Amazon and the Apple TV menu would come up. Sometimes Amazon would be frozen, and I would have to reboot the box multiple times for it to work. Then one day Amazon Fire got stuck on the screen saver, and nothing we could think of seemed to fix it.

Finally, we switched to the Harmony remote, which we had used with our previous TV.  We use the programmable buttons on the remote to select the source vs. the Smart TV interface, and everything has worked fine ever since. To be fair, this issue is with the box which comes with all of the new Samsung Smart TVs and is probably not specific to the Frame.

Art Mode

Image via Samsung

Finally, we get to the good stuff. I never thought I would be convincing Keegan to pay $2800 for a television, especially now that you can get a perfectly nice one for under $1000, and neither did he. However, for someone who doesn’t watch a lot of TV – I don’t usually turn it on at all until Keegan gets home for the day – married to someone who enjoys sports, shows, and movies as a way to unwind on a daily basis, the Samsung Frame is the perfect solution because, unlike TVs that stream slideshows while they are on but inactive, it displays static artwork when it is actually off.

The Frame comes loaded with several galleries of artwork, with more available for purchase, in various categories. They include both photographic and non-photographic high-quality imagery such as action, landscape, architecture, still-life, and pattern. Keegan likes many of the landscapes, while I am particularly fond of the abstracts, still lifes, and patterns. In general, the included art leans towards a more modern design aesthetic. You can see the available artwork on Samsung’s website.

You can also upload your own photographs or digital art and add mats to them in several different layout formats. We haven’t played with this too much yet, though I did upload some digital art I purchased online.

Art Settings

The available settings allow you to configure the screen brightness, color temperature (cool to warm), sleep timer, night mode, motion detector, and sound mirroring. The settings for brightness and temperature can be used to make the art appear more “art-like” and less like a glowing LED screen. The appropriate values will vary according to the amount and quality of light in your space

Our living room is quite bright during the day with a northern exposure, so I have my settings slightly towards the dark side and slightly warmer. I think the temperature setting could also depend on your paint color. My walls are painted Benjamin Moore White Dove, which is a warmer white with a touch of gray. The cooler setting for the screen looks very blue with White Dove behind it.

I think one big improvement Samsung could make for the art mode settings would be to have a default setting for day vs. night, triggered by the sunset or a user-defined time, much like the night-mode on the iPhone. The current Night setting allows you enable the TV to turn off the image (black screen) automatically if no other lights are sensed in the room. Since I’m often up all night with the baby, I’ve had more opportunities to observe this setting in action. The Christmas tree lights will keep the screen on, otherwise, it generally turns off.

There are only a couple real negatives I have with the art mode. One is that you can only configure the look of the art as well as the display settings via an app on your phone. While you can set the artwork using the Samsung remote, you can’t change the mat style or color. You also need the app to upload your own photos and set the layout and mat style. Once you do, they will sync to the television app and become available for use through the interface. Hopefully, this is something that Samsung fixes with a future software update.

The second involves the motion sensor and sound settings. I like to play Spotify through my phone via our receiver while I am working. If I don’t move within the time I have set on the motion sensor (30 minutes), the screen turns off and so does the receiver and my music. I guess I should take this as a sign that I should get off the couch more, but it’s kind of annoying. In case someone is curious, the dogs do trigger the motion detector.

Does the Frame actually look like art?

Yes and no, but if it doesn’t look like actual art, it comes pretty darn close. Here is the truth no other (sponsored) blogger is writing: the tv doesn’t look like the marketing photos in real life. It is absolutely discernable from other pieces of art in a gallery wall. It obviously has light to it and a faint glow that is definitely perceptible. Does that outweigh the positives? Absolutely not! We observed it fooling several of our visitors who weren’t aware that it was a television.

Is the Samsung Frame TV worth the price?

As an interior designer who values aesthetics and constantly struggles with the television as the focal point in a room, the answer is an unequivocal yes. The positives definitively outweigh the negatives, which are small and picky, and justify the somewhat outrageous price tag (a 65″ model with similar specs is $1000 less). I will be strongly recommending the Frame to all of my clients who want a large television in their primary living space.

Personally, I know it was a huge splurge, and I am thrilled with it and get a lot of pleasure from the art on a daily basis. It’s one of those purchases that just makes me happy.

Samsung Frame TV Review

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New Des Moines West Elm + My Favorites for Fall 2017

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Just over a week ago, Des Moines enthusiastically welcomed its newest retail destination. The Des Moines West Elm opened its first Iowa store on Grand Avenue in the East Village. I didn’t make it to the grand opening party, but I did stop in a few days later, and the place was packed. People in Des Moines are definitely hungry for stylish, on-trend alternatives to our limited options for home decor and furniture. As a designer, I’m thrilled that I can finally sit on upholstery and check out the scale and finishes of the items I’ve been coveting online for both clients and myself.

I only snapped a few photos on my first tour of the new location because there were just way too many people around. But, I wanted to share some of the newish pieces that caught my eye for Fall and have me wishing for a bigger home decor budget.


I’m still dreaming about the day when we can finally decorate our new master bedroom properly. It’s way down on the priority list below everything baby. But, when we do get around to it, I think this low mid-century style bed would be just perfect. I like the mix of materials, the upholstered headboard, and clean lines.

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Modern Show Wood Bed – Wheat

Do you switch our your bedding based on the seasons? I never do, but this flannel pin dot bedding looks incredibly cozy and would look fabulous styled with the plaid throw below.

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Flannel Dot Coverlet

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Soft Touch Throws

I love the soft, painterly quality of this abstract wool rug. The understated color palette would pair beautifully with white oak, light leather, copper, and marble.

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Flame Rug

This teal settee has a distinctly 80s vibe. I think it would be perfect in an office for guest seating or in a formal living space. It has a pretty small footprint so it could also be a nice option in an apartment or tight living space as extra seating.

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Vero Settee

I spotted these graphic vases at the Uptown West Elm in Minneapolis and was immediately drawn to their playful shapes and the elongated dot pattern. I fully intended to bring the larger black and white version home from my first visit to our West Elm, but I didn’t see them there.

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Matthew Ward Chulucanas Vases

I love this black leather chair for a man’s office or a bachelor pad living room. I’m a little short to find it entirely comfortable, but that’s nothing a good throw pillow couldn’t fix. I think the proportions would fit a taller person better.

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Swoop Leather Chair

West Elm has a strong planter game going on right now, and I thought this little, spotted dog was just adorable. Don’t worry, there’s also a cat version.

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Ceramic Dog Planter

I love a good swivel chair, especially a smaller one like this super cool velvet design by Roar+Rabbit for West Elm. At only 30″ high, they provide extra seating without blocking the view. The pleating detail and brass bass elevate the overall design.

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Roar +Rabbit Swivel Chair

Never underestimate the power of a sculptural table lamp to inject interest and style into an otherwise lonely corner. This piece would work perfectly on my vintage mid-century credenza to provide a little mood lighting.

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Framed Sphere Table Lamp

Simple in form, the mix of materials on this little side table drew my eye. At 20″ round, it’s large enough to be functional, but the glass top keeps it from feeling too dark or heavy.

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Colorwash Side Table

Is it just me or is it really hard to find a decent bar stool at a good price point? After an almost ludicrously extensive search, I ended purchasing a brass and leather version from CB2 for our kitchen peninsula. These gorgeous mid-century style stools hadn’t been released at the time, or they would have been a strong contender. They could only be better if they a. swiveled, and b. came in multiple fabric options (although they would be easy and fairly inexpensive to re-upholster).

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Mid-Century Backless Stools

Who wouldn’t love a petite footed planter with polka dots? I’m partial to the blue and think it would look adorable on the shelves I’m planning to install in the nursery. I’m not great with succulents though, so maybe a tiny tropical plant instead? And, don’t even get me started on ferns. They die so quickly you can actually see it happening.

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Dotty Cachepots

I was immediately drawn to these throws in our new store. They are so much more impressive in person with a thick chunky weave. The blue is going to look amazing in the nursery and could easily work in our living room as well.

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Marled Basketweave Throw

Do you live in Des Moines? If so, have you visited the new store yet? I’m hopeful that this shop will lead to more retailers opening locations in the downtown and East Village. Both areas have undergone major transformations over the past several years and already feel so much more dynamic than when I first moved here in 2008.

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Vintage Mud Cloth Planter Covers

Vintage Mud Cloth Planter Covers

I spotted these vintage mud cloth planter covers by Boho Pillow over on Etsy this morning and was instantly in love. What a great idea! You can use these pretty little covers to disguise your basic, inexpensive terracotta planters. I love their boho vibe and how they can add small doses of texture and pattern to a space. I can’t wait to mix some of these in with my collection of vintage ceramic planters.

Vintage Mudcloth Planter Covers by Boho Pillow

The little tassel details are so cute. I also love how they are reversible, so you can change up the look.

Vintage Mud Cloth Planter Covers

Vintage Mud cloth Planter Covers by Boho Pillows

Vintage Mud Cloth Planter Covers by Boho Pillow

All images via Boho Pillow Instagram.