Thoughts

Thankful Thursday - My Wife, My Life

So, it's Thursday. No, scratch that, it's Thankful Thursday! Today, I am taking some time to reflect on how thankful I am for my wife and for the life we share. Warning: I'm about to get mushy. Not only am I fortunate enough to be married to my best friend, the love of my life, and now the mother of our beautiful son, I am also lucky enough to own and operate a business with her. We get to spend most days together doing what we love, and for that I am thankful.

I've heard some people say that they could never work with their spouse, but Valerie and I feel the complete opposite. I guess that's what happens when you meet and fall in love at (where else?) work. That's right, we met in 1999 while working together at Perkins and the rest, as they say, is history : )

Anyway, I am truly blessed, and a ton (if not most) of it has a lot to do with her. So, thank you, Valerie, for not only marrying me, but also for pursuing your dream and allowing me to be a part of it!

Operation Renovation... It's Time for a Change!

As Valerie shared in a post a few weeks ago, multiple rooms and floors of our home were damaged due to a drain/roof leak. Since that fateful day, we’ve had men in our house working on the renovation and restoration of our damaged home, and just about two weeks ago, they finally finished up! They did a fine job, but living in a house during renovation definitely proved to be a challenge. There was furniture in our kitchen (in fact, a few randoms times I ate my cereal while sitting on our sofa in the kitchen), a mattress and a shoe rack among other things in our office (which we claimed as our temporary bedroom as well, hence the mattress), clothes in random rooms and places, and one could not keep up with all of the dust that comes along with drywall work. I truly now know why it is called drywall. Living in disarray for two people who usually pride themselves on at least trying to be organized proved to be interesting to say the least. While I’m not necessarily looking forward to this ever happening again, realizing that you have no control over a situation that you might otherwise have, and giving into that, can actually be a bit therapeutic.

Instead of focusing on all that seems “wrong” or out of the ordinary, we chose to take advantage of the fact that everything was out of place and, therefore, had to be put back into place. This provided an opportunity for us to re-evaluate each item in our home and whether we really need it or not. Now that the renovation is complete and we are starting to put our home back together, it is literally like moving back in again. And, that means that we can, in an essence, start fresh. Clean slate.

Speaking of starting fresh, this doesn’t only apply to our home. Valerie and I decided to use the last two months to examine all facets of our lives and how we can improve them. For example, the workers showed up by at least 7:30 every morning, which, in turn, forced us to be up and ready just as early. And while this may not seem early to those of you who start work at that time or earlier, that’s early for us. But getting up earlier and having the opportunity to actually sit down and eat breakfast, do a little cleaning, or run an errand before our crazy work days start, has been a breath of fresh air (luckily our air is much cleaner now without all of the drywall dust!).

The point is, even a seemingly bad situation may have its perks. Don't be afraid to embrace these experiences and make a change! Anyone have a similar story or anecdote to share?

"Why We Matter"

I came across this great little video today about "Why Interior Design Matters", so I thought I'd share it with you! This video was the first place winner of a competition sponsored by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), and the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) along with media partner Interiors & Sources. The competition was explained as "a call/challenge to all professionals and professional organizations in the Interior Architecture/Interior Design field to create videos for our general public to educate them on how our profession positively affects society in innovative and entertaining ways."

I'm, of course, happy to re-post this video to help do exactly what the competition sponsors had hoped - educate the general public on how hiring an interior designer benefits society and the economy! On top of the video's complete yet concise explanation, it is also very creatively executed!

So, take a second and check it out!

This video was created by a group of students at Radford University - a job well done!

Made or Unmade?

Not too long ago, I had a discussion with some family members about something pretty controversial, and I'm actually not sure I know where I stand on the issue. Okay, okay, so I'm making it sound way more exciting than it may be, but it's still interesting - I think! The issue at hand is.. Should you make your bed every morning after you get out of it. Or, can you simply leave it unmade?

Made bed.

Unmade bed.

Even as a designer, I must say, I do not make my bed every morning! I suppose it's true, that I do feel better walking into a room that has a freshly made bed vs. one pillow here, one pillow who-knows-where and a duvet hanging on the floor, but the reality in our house is that Logan and I do not have the same schedule every morning - sometimes I am up before him, and sometimes visa versa - so I suppose neither of us have gotten into the habit of making the bed when we are the last to get up!

Unfortunately, I usually just crawl out and leave it for later. Not to mention, I often wake up with an idea or a task (from the ever-present to-do list) on my mind that I must go do/write down/tackle at that very moment, leaving no time to perfectly place the arsenal of shams and toss pillows on the bed. Occasionally, I'll actually make the bed later in the day, but sometimes I climb into it at night just as I left it in the morning.

I'm not convinced there is anything wrong with an unmade bed. When I come to bed at night and my bed is all disheveled from last night's sleep, it serves as a lovely invitation to lay down, get comfy and snuggle right in! That's a feeling that I never feel with a perfectly made bed. In fact, I often feel quite bad for disturbing a well-dressed bed. =)

Made bed.

Unmade Bed.

Oh, and here is the controversy I mentioned at the beginning of the post. My sister-in-law makes her bed every morning, whereas my brother-in-law refuses to do it ever! She says, "It just makes me feel better and it looks nice!" While he says, "Why do it? No one sees it! Besides, you're just gonna get back in it in a few hours anyway." Both of their arguments are true! However, I suppose I'm somewhere in between.

Made bed.

Unmade bed.

So, I'm curious to know what you do. What's your preference? Is your bed made or unmade?

Images found here!

Two Years Ago Today..

I lost my best friend.. my mom. My mother passed away unexpectedly on this day two short years ago, and let me just say, it doesn't get any easier as the years pass by. Whether it's a song, a smell, a photo or a place, I am reminded oh so often of her and the memories we'd made. Though I started this post by saying I 'lost' her, I don't feel that way entirely. She is still very much a part of me and with me everyday; and I believe she always will be. Nonetheless, I miss her incredibly! I can't help but long for just one more moment where I can see her face again, hear her voice again and hug her tight again. My wish that she (and we) would have had more time will never fade. My mom was such an amazing person, and of her many gifts, the greatest was her love! In the relatively short time we got to spend together on this earth, she gave me enough love to last a lifetime, and for that I am so thankful.

While this is not the type of content I normally post on this blog, I hope you'll understand that I felt that this post could be cathartic for me; and maybe, in turn, serve as a sense of peace and comfort for those who also have a broken heart from a similar loss. I suppose I'm also using this platform as just a little way that I can say 'I love you' to my mom today.

In honor of her, here are a few snapshots of my mom throughout her life.

Mom at age 6ish

Mom at age 10ish

Mom with cute face.

Mom graduation photo, I think.

Mom with wind in her hair.

Mom with us two kids

Mom smiling at the beach

Mom and I together

Mom in front of the coastline.

Mom, I love you and miss you!

It's Still Fall!

I'm sure, like me, you've noticed that when November arrived stores, homes, and even design blogs have traded their pumpkins in for snowmen, and their warm rich earthy color palettes to cool crisp icy colors. Well, wait just a second! With the mildly chilly weather only now in full swing, beautifully colored leaves still floating to the ground and Thanksgiving just around the corner yet, fall is still here! Right? In fact, I am only now finally getting excited about all things fall. As you probably know, I'm not a huge fan of cold weather, but I do have to say the shift from summer to fall does give me a good feeling. It means it's time for cute sweaters, hot chocolate, warm earthy colors, yummy food, time with family, beautiful nature and scenery, etc. And, I've recently gotten to enjoy most of these.

Pumpkin roll!

So, before my warm fuzzy fall feelings turn into winter blues, I thought I'd browse a few of my favorite sites for some fall inspired finds, decor ideas, and the other lovely joys of fall.

Leaf pillow.

Paper mache pumpkins.

Yarn wreath.

Leaf and Gourd decor.

Cupcake toppers.

Pinecone wreath

Table centerpiece.

Leaf garland.

Fall scarf.

Pottery Barn fall decor.

Wishbone servewear.

Candy apples.

My front door.

Side Note: This last photo is actually from last year - fortunately we kept the mums and they came back this year.. unfortunately they came back about 1/3 as big and beautiful and do not look like this!

So, while most people may already be moving on to the Christmas season, I don't like to jump the gun. I'd rather enjoy the fall and the Thanksgiving holiday first. After all, I am very thankful for not-frigid weather (along with many other things, of course).

I hope today's post reminded you of the many joys of fall, and also hopefully reminded you to slow down sometimes. Christmas will be here soon enough. In the meantime, be thankful (hehe) for the fall!

The lovely images from today's post came from Etsy, Pinterest, BHG, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and, of course, my camera!

Brochures, Pamphlets?

Brochure is kinda an ugly word! If you know me at all, you probably know that words (and names) are a big thing for me. Some are nice, pretty words, while others are, well, not so much. Some sound good rolling off the tongue and look nice when written, and some even taste good (if you can understand that), but then there are others that are really quite ugly. These words don't sound good, don't look good, and don't taste good and, therefore, make it really hard to say. Therefore, I try to find alternatives. Of course, this is all subjective, and most people have no problems with words! Unfortunately I 'suffer' from this problem, hehe! The funny part is that apparently it's contagious, because Logan has only developed this in the past few years - oops! Anyway, to me, brochure is one of those words. So, in thinking of an alternative word to use, I came up with pamphlet - which I can only say is a smidge better. It still has its issues, with the somewhat awkward spelling and the short cut pronunciation in speaking (ie. pan-flet), ugggh! So, I'm looking for an even better word. Anyone have suggestions?

Well, I admit I'm a bit quirky, but nonetheless, I'm only talking about these words because we've got good news! StudioVB has designed and printed new brochures, pamphlets, or whatever you want to call them, for our home staging services! It's spring time and it's that time of year when lots of people put their homes on the market, and lots more go house hunting. So, we are reaching out to realtors and homeowners both to offer our services. If you, or anyone you know, is thinking of putting their home on the market, call us first!

Anyway, thought we'd share a few pics of the new tri-fold informational advertisement (aka brochure).

Close-up of front of brochure

The front side of the brochure - unfolded.

Front of brochure

Inside back of the brochure.

View of the benefits of home staging

Imgae of me folding the brochures by hand

The final product.

The New Ride

It's been almost a month that we've had our new vehicle.. and I have yet to post some snapshots of it and its sweet features. So, while there are actually a ton of other interesting things going on with us, and StudioVB, right now - they are keeping us so busy that I haven't been able to sit down and blog about them. So, until then, I'll just finally introduce you to the new ride! Unfortunately we haven't settled on a name for her yet. I'm hoping a couple of hours into our next road trip, one of us will come up with the winning name and shout it aloud in an exciting 'by George, I've got it' kinda way! Anyway, here she is, in her new home.. parked on our block!

Exterior of the vehicle.

And, that's where she is most of the time. Both Logan and I are blessed to be able to work where we live, which among many other benefits, means we don't have to drive very much. And living in the city, we are able to walk to get lunch, go to the park, visit friends, etc., which we love! Oops, went on a tangent!

Anyway, this actually brings up an important issue that I want to chat about. So, Logan and I make many efforts in our daily lives to live pretty environmentally friendly, but you might be saying, why did you buy an SUV? I know, I know, it's like the anti-green thing to do. But, it's not as horrible as you might think, and after careful consideration, we felt it was the right thing for us.

So, to clarify, here are just a few of our thoughts on why and how we made our decision:

  • We only need one vehicle in our family - one SUV is better than two vehicles, right? You know, we won't be filling two tanks, driving around two vehicles and polluting twice as much. =)
  • We go several (sometimes more than several) weeks on one tank of gas - since we drive very little - so gas guzzling is not huge issue.
  • When we do drive, it's often to go on a trip or because we need to transport large items, so driving a vehicle with plenty of space is a must.

And, here's how the Honda CR-V fit the bill:

  • It is a small compact size with a small engine, especially compared to some of the huge SUVs.
  • It is pretty fuel-efficient at 21/28/24 mpg (city, highway, combined).
  • It has 'ultra low-emissions'.
  • It has great storage features, both big and small!
  • And Honda has long been considered the 'greenest automaker'.

So, given all of this (and some other factors too), we decided to go for it! This baby will be in our family, well, hopefully long after we actually have babies, ha! And, I think it will serve us well.

Now, here are some more pics!

Front exterior of the vehicle

Shot of the black cloth interior.

Shot of the console in its up position.

Shot of the console in its down position.

Shot of the backseat.

Shot of the trunk of the vehicle.

Shot of the trunk shelf folded back.

So, what do you think? Do you like?

Oh, and remember the 'more interesting stuff' I said we had going on - well, don't worry, I have lots of cool projects and "before and after" reveals headed your way. So check back soon!

St. Patrick's Day Duds

Just a little note to say Happy St. Patrick’s Day! You know, I never quite got into participating in the “wear a particular color on a particular holiday” idea. I just never seemed to be interested in matching everyone else on that one particular day. It’s not that I don’t have holiday spirit, ‘cause I do! I mean, of course, I love to decorate for the holidays, but for me it doesn’t translate into fashion. In fact, I would probably say I’d specifically rather not dress for the holiday. But, I guess that’s just me – and don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind those of you who do. Clearly, it gives me something to talk about. : ) But nonetheless, perhaps St. Patrick’s day is really not the best holiday to be discussing this topic.. I suppose Christmas or Halloween are better examples. However, as I was out and about today, I couldn’t help but spot all of the people wearing bright green. I even saw a shamrock here or there! And to top it off, I even overheard someone say, “ohhh, I forgot to wear green today!” in a very distraught voice. I guess it’s a big deal to some.

Well, anyway, my point in talking about this is that halfway through the day, after becoming so aware of the amount of people who dressed specifically for the holiday, I looked down only to realize that I too had worn some sort of green today – unintentionally! Now my green was a bit more of a blue-green and I had a grey sweater over top, but in that moment of realization that I had actually participated in this holiday tradition, I wondered how many people who saw me had assumed I dressed for the occasion. That’s when I thought to myself, 'well, if for a moment when my eyes met someone else’s who was also wearing green, we shared a sort of “hey, we're in the same happy holiday club” camaraderie, then I was okay with that!' And, I guess that's what it's about.

So, maybe I’ll change my tune on this topic. Despite my original opposition to wearing a particular color on a particular holiday, while browsing esty.com this afternoon, I came across some lovely accessories that I’d be happy to sport as my little nod to the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Check ‘em out!

Spring green scarf

Handmade green flower necklace

Handmade feather hair clip

Green stripe messenger bag

Handmade fabric necklace

Handmade green felt flower brooch

Handmade woodland hood

Green crystal bracelet

And, I'll leave you with that!

Hope you all enjoy the beautiful weather (at least here in Midtown it is) on this St. Patty's holiday! Oh, and with the nice weather, I did get a chance to snap a few photos of our new ride - so, stay tuned, they'll be in the next post!

To Stage or Not to Stage?

Thinking back (over some of these past few posts) on our house hunting journey, I am recalling some of the really horrible houses we viewed during our hunt. I should clarify, they weren’t horrible homes; they were just poorly shown. No prospective buyer would have made an offer on them simply because of how the homes presented. This fact inspired me to write a post on one of the many aspects of interior design - home staging. Home staging, for anyone who might be unfamiliar with the term, is the art of preparing, designing and staging a home for sale to show the home in its best light and to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. This is done quite simply in just a few key steps and has been proven to sell the home faster and for more money! It’s a win-win situation for everyone. So, why wouldn’t you do it? It’s a mystery to me why there are still lots of home sellers that don’t get this simple concept.

Check out a couple before and after shots to see for yourself. Which photo attracts you more?

Before and after shots of a home office that has been staged.

Before and after shots of a bedroom that has been staged.

Before and after shots of a laundry room that has been staged.

Before and after shots of a dining room that have been staged.

But, I’ll give these home sellers the benefit of the doubt and assume that it’s not because they don’t get the concept or see the value in it, but maybe that they are just unaware. So, I decided to post a quick list of the major benefits of home staging, and maybe if you are lucky we’ll even give some tips for the do-it-yourselfers in an upcoming post.

But I must say, while I totally appreciate D-I-Y techniques, you really can’t beat the services and expertise of a trained professional home stager that can help you through the process during what is often a very busy and stressful time. That’s where I come in! So, if you are looking to sell your home in the near future definitely contact us here at StudioVB.

But, in the meantime, here is just a taste of some inspiring benefits of home staging.

Faster Sale – Home staging has been proven to reduce the time a home stays on the market – averaging 1 month or less, as compared to un-staged homes at 161 days on the market, ouch!

Higher Sales Price - Staged homes sell for an average of 7% more money than un-staged homes, which means an extra $14,000 on the purchase price of a $200,000 home. That’s worth it, if you ask me, and a great return for a fraction of staging costs!

Wide Range of Buyers – A home stager will help you eliminate the potential of turning away certain buyers based specific tastes, lifestyle preferences, etc. Resulting in a home that appeals to a wide range of buyers.

Visualized Potential – 10% of buyers cannot visualize the potential of a home. A staged home will show the potential and without this, the potential of the home is only left to a buyer’s imagination, which is often very limited. Plus, showing the home to its fullest potential also makes for beautiful listing photographs attracting interested buyers right from the start!

Objective Perspective – As the homeowner, it’s hard to step back and look at your home objectively. A home stager is trained to do just that and provide you with insight into the point of view of the buyer.

So, even with just those benefits, you can see why it’s a must-do when planning to sell your home!