Thursday, October 29, 2015

Confessions of a Former Clean Freak

This year I have been married for 20 years. It is hard to believe that much time has gone by not to mention all of the changes my life has undergone since then. Several moves, job changes, pets and children have taken place over the years and moulded me into who I am today.  
Life is like that, experiences and situations impact choices you make. 

Back when I was younger, I was known as a clean freak. Everything was spotless and everything had its place. My beds were made like a page out of a magazine and my kitchen and bathrooms appeared like they were never used. I couldn't relax unless my home was clean and orderly.

Nearly 20 years later, I can honestly say no one would walk into my house and accuse me of being a neat freak. Most days there are mail and papers on the counter, shoes strewn by the door and never ending pet hair. What changed? Several things actually.

First, we adopted a pet (a dog). After buying our first house and before children we decided to add to our family unit. Our beloved dog Hagrid was truly a wonderful dog however, he shed like crazy. Thanks to him we still own one of my favorite house cleaning tools (our Electrolux vacuum). Our new dog Huck is slightly better in the shedding department but I still am battling the pet hair war.

Second, we had children. It is amazing how two little people can make such a big mess. Not to mention, the older they get the more mess they make. No sooner do I clean a room then they come in and mess it back up. Shoes on the floor, dishes on the counter, books and Legos scattered around the house. It is enough to make me go insane. Then I have to chase them around to get them to clean up after themselves.

Third, my husband and I started to work from home. I had taken for granted how easy it is to keep a house clean when no one is in it. Before children, my husband and I worked full time. He traveled most of the week and it was just me (and later the dog). One person does not make much of a mess. But, once we both stayed home, it was nearly impossible to keep our house clean without literally spending the entire day doing nothing but cleaning.

Fourth, my children's extracurricular activities. Between baseball, softball, basketball, music, art and religious education, there is rarely a day that we are sitting home doing nothing and allowing for plenty of time to clean. Additionally, all those activities produce a lot of equipment that needs a home. Since this house does not have a significant amount of useful storage, they are left out most of the time.

Which brings me to the last reason, our house. Over the years we, like most people, have accumulated quite a lot of stuff. Our prior house was nearly double the size of our current home. Although we significantly purged many of our things to downsize, fitting all our stuff into this home is a challenge. Our decision to downsize was an easy one. A smaller mortgage and a wonderful neighborhood for our children to grow up in drove that decision. But, like all choices we had to give something up in return and storage was it.

If you are like me and are struggling to keep your home neat any tidy, I do have some tips from my former life.

1. Make your bed everyday. If you do, it will slowly compel you to clean every other part of your house.

2. Make sure everything has a place and put everything back in its place. Bins are great for this. You can label them so there is no question of where things ought to be. Keep like items together so you know where everything is.

3.  Purge what you don't need. Go through every storage area in your home and get rid of those things you don't use. If you haven't used it for a year or more, donate it or throw it out. It is just taking up space and you likely will not use it again. This is especially true in your closet. Be honest about what you wear and get rid of the rest. Holding on to something you may wear later is an exercise in futility. Even if you were to want to wear it later, it would likely be out of style.

4.  Keep cleaning wipes or a rag in your bathrooms and wipe down the counters, mirrors and toilets daily. Your bathroom will stay cleaner longer and cleaning it will be much easier.

5.  Create storage where there isn't any. Use console tables with baskets to corral small items, or place a free standing storage unit on an empty wall for additional closet space. It did this in the front entry of my home where there is no closet. I can't tell you how much I can fit in it. 

While I have learned to live with my not so neat home, I yearn for the days when it was neat and orderly. Slowly but surely I am trying to purge items we don't need and find unique storage solutions for the stuff we do. I am also toying with the idea of giving my kids an allowance to foster their independence and help with the cleaning.

What about you? Are you a current or former neat freak? If so, what tips or tricks do you have?

Happy cleaning!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

One Dresser 5 Ways

I love furniture that serves multiple purposes. Take an ottoman for example. It lets you put your feet up after a hard day, can serve as a side or coffee table, and if it has a top, can be used for storage. The beauty of multipurpose furniture is it can be used many ways and in many different spaces.

It is my belief that before you shop for anything new, look around to what you already have and see if it can be used somewhere else in your home. Could a chair in the living room be used in your bedroom or dining room? Could a old dining table be used as a craft table? The list is endless.

The same can be said for a chest of drawers. See how one piece of furniture can be transformed to be used in multiple ways.

1. In an entryway. A dresser is the perfect piece for an entryway. It can store, hats, gloves and mail as well as provide the perfect space to drop your keys.

Entryway dresser

Entryway dresser by dawn-brazier featuring a mercury glass shade

2. In your dining room. Create a serving space for drinks or food as well as a place to store linens and utensils.

Dresser as Buffet

Dresser as Buffet by dawn-brazier featuring a mini cake pedestal

3. As a console table in your living room. Place the dresser against a wall or behind a sofa for a great alternative to a console table. Perfect for storing small toys, games or magazines.

Dresser as Console Table

Dresser as Console Table by dawn-brazier featuring flower pots

4. In an office. Use the dresser as secondary storage for paper, pens and other office supplies.

Dresser as Office Console

Dresser as Office Console by dawn-brazier featuring a file organizer

5.  As a TV console. Bring your television to eye level and have place to store blankets and extra pillows for movie night.

Dresser as TV Console

Dresser as TV Console by dawn-brazier featuring wood wall art

Which one is your favorite?

Happy decorating!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hot Trend - White Walls

For decades white walls reigned supreme. You would be hard pressed to find a home that had walls painted a shade other than white. That all changed over the past two decades when walls in every hue became the norm. Now you would have a hard time finding a home that doesn't have at least one room painted a colorful hue.

Recently, the trend is shifting back to white. Designers and decorators alike are opting for white walls to act as the backdrop to furnishings and accessories. Even Benjamin Moore is jumping on the band wagon and has recently named its 2016 Color of the Year as Simply White.

via Benjamin Moore

I, for a long time, was also a proponent of non-white walls. In fact, you will not find a room in my house that is painted white. However, I am being swayed by white's versatility and simplicity. In doing research for this blog I have come across many rooms painted white that look amazing. Here are a few that show how white walls are anything but boring.

white wall, dark floors, and dark beams with natural wood furnishings add great contrast and warmth.:
via Werner Straube Photography/Khristi Zimmeth

Balance rustic wooden doors with bright white walls and colorful accent pieces.:
via Bit + Co.

via House Beautiful

Family room painted in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
via Houzz - Kate Jackson

The best white paint colors according to interior designers, Benjamin Moore Simply Whitr:
via Studio McGee

white foyer via Traditional Home magazine
via Traditional Home

via Homedit

Dining Room. Dining Room Ideas. French Transitional Dining Room. #DiningRoom #TransitionalInteriors #DiningRoomIdeas #DiningRoomDesign
via Homebunch

via Elle Decor

U-shaped (sometimes called C-shaped) kitchens are the ideal shape for small spaces? Only if you cook alone. If you co-cook, like my hub and I do, you are in for a lot of toe-stepping and irritability as you bump into each other on the way to the sink, stove, fridge...:
via Kevin Dakan Architect

The key to decorating with white walls is adding interest in other parts of the space. Different colors and textures are what make white walls shine. Dark floors, a colorful rug, interesting pillows or textured tile all help take ordinary white to the next level. White walls allow all the other elements of the space stand out and helps the walls recede to give the illusion of more space.

Beware, not all white paints are the same. Each one has a different undertone so make sure you test it out in the space you are using on different walls and view it at different times of the day. Then you will be sure to get the color that is right for you.

Happy decorating!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Chic Halloween Decor

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love handing out candy, taking my kids trick-or-treating and most of all, decorating. I have always loved traditional Halloween decor. Pumpkins, scarecrows and ghosts, although mine tend to be on the cute rather than scary side. My children however, have lobbied and succeeded in adding a few scarier elements to our outdoor decor such as skeletons and gravestones. 

While I enjoy my way of decorating, I also love more "grown up" and sophisticated Halloween decor. I can envision that once my children are grown, my cute decor may make way for more high style decorating. 

Want to take your Halloween decor up a notch? Here are some great finds to get you started.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Light Controlling Curtains

If you have been following me of late, I have been updating my master bedroom. There are still a few design details to iron out before making the final reveal. One item that was giving me a particularily difficult time was my curtain panels. Why you ask? Because I was in search of stylish blackout curtain panels.

My husband likes having our room completely dark when he sleeps. No light from t.v.'s, cable boxes, or any coming from outside is allowed. So, having blackout curtains are a necessity. However, they are not as easy to obtain. 

First, there are two types of light controlling curtains. Room darkening and blackout. Room darkening limit light entering the space however, they do not totally block it. Blackout, on the other hand, does. With true blackout curtains there is zero light filtering through the curtain panel.

Blackout panels are great for media rooms, nurseries, children's bedrooms and for those who work at night and sleep during the day. They are also great for keeping the hot sun out and warmth in as many of them are insulated.

However, many curtain panels labeled blackout are actually room darkening. In addition, there are very few styles offered in a grommet top. Most are rod pocket. If you will actually open and close your curtains then grommet tops are the way to go. They move easily, unlike rod pocket curtains which are harder to maneuver. You can use clips with rod pocket curtain panels however, they still can be difficult to use and after repeated opening and closing, can come off the clips.

Despite purchasing many curtain panels labeled blackout I was unable to find one that truly fit the bill. In the end, I settled for a room darkening curtain that had a grommet top and fit the style of my space. After about the seventh pair of curtain panels my husband relented and agreed to the room darkening panels. Whew!!

Here are the ones I ultimately chose. This is not exactly the look I was going for but it is the closest I am going to get within the budget I set.

I am happy to report the rest of the room is coming together much smoother!

If you are on the hunt for true blackout curtains, read online reviews before purchasing. Many will report that they are not true blackout and save you the time and effort of trying them out at home. You can also make them yourself with a blackout lining if you are handy in the sewing department. Make sure you ask the sales associate how much light will come through to ensure you get the correct lining. Also, avoid the blackout liners that attach separately. They do not usually fit the entire width of the curtain panel and do not operate well if you intend on opening and closing your curtain panels.

Keep checking back for more updates on my master bedroom.

Happy decorating!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Watercloset Ideas

When designing master bathrooms, there are two things I feel are very important. Double sinks and a water closet. There are many people who feel having two sinks is not necessary or having a separate room for the toilet is nice but not important. To me, double sinks not only allow two people to get ready simultaneously, it also provides a larger vanity for additional storage and, in some cases, marital harmony.

The same holds true for a water closet. Being able to have the toilet in a private and separate space makes the bathroom more functional. It allows two people to use the bathroom at the same time while still allowing for privacy. Think you need a large bathroom to achieve a separate water closet? These are some of my favorite examples of water closets in both large and small spaces.

Create a partition with cabinetry.

small bathroom tile ideas 2013
Bedrooms Idea

Lose your tub and replace it with a water closet.

Master Bath with Vessel Sink, Large Shower and Separate Toilet

Use bamboo to create a floor to ceiling screen.

i want to make this bamboo wall between the sink and toilet,just for privacy and of course decor:

A frosted glass panel works just as well.

Increase Privacy with Frosted Glass  Create privacy in a bathroom by installing a frosted-glass wall panel. Unlike a normal wall, this frosted-glass option allows light to pass freely between the main area and the toilet while still offering plenty of privacy. Sharing light enhances the sense of space in both areas.:

For a less permanent option try hanging a curtain from the ceiling. Choose a washable fabric for easy care.

Curtain concealing toilet. Lamps on the counter instead of sconces. Design by Betty Burgess.:
Things That Inspire

Create a unique knee wall with reclaimed wood.

10 façons d’incorporer la palette de bois dans son décor | RONAMAG:

Let in natural light by reusing old windows.

I love the "frosted" glass instead of a solid wall used in this space!  the space created for the"water closet" in new homes today is so tiny;  this would at least give the feel of a bigger space, and add character to the entire master bath.:
Purple Area

Pocket doors are great as they don't take up floor space. This one in frosted glass is stylish and functional.

I would like a pocket door like this for our small walk in closet since the door opening in takes up all the walk space:

Reconsider creating a separate water closet for your bathroom. Your spouse or significant other will thank you for it.

Happy decorating!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I'm back!

Well, I'm back. I wish I could tell you some exciting thing has happened in my life to prevent me from writing this blog. However, I can't. The truth is, I was both uninspired and busy with day to day life. I didn't want to write about anything that I didn't truly feel you would want to read about so, I just waited for inspiration to strike, and it did.

Today my husband and I went to lunch at a new restaurant in our town called the Cinnamon Bistro. If you live in Lake Zurich I suggest you run, not walk, there and grab a table either on the patio or indoors. It specializes in vegetarian dishes that are not only amazing but healthy and fresh. In addition to its great food, it also has great design style.

The restaurant is eclectic in style. The walls are clad in reclaimed wood and wallpaper that looks like it has layers that have peeled away over time from France or Italy. The floors are wood look porcelain tile that has an aged appearance. The chairs are covered in script fabric and the tables are hammered metal that resembles aged copper. Music that reminds you of being in a high end spa plays throughout the space and the paint colors are dark and cozy. The decor is a mix of industrial and rustic. I cannot tell you the last time I sat in a restaurant and felt relaxed and serene. Here is a photo of the restaurant I took from Yelp. I was so busy relaxing and eating I forgot to take some photos myself.

via Yelp

It was after eating a great meal in this gorgeous space that inspiration struck. Inspiration really can strike anywhere. Keep on the lookout. You never know where great ideas can come from.

Be inspired!