living room

DAY 5 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Decorate Your Sofa

Day five we decorate our sofa! No I don’t mean we are going to color it or anything. I mean pillows of course!

Sometimes we can become comfortable with stuff we’ve had around for awhile. Comfort is good, ugly and gross are not. You may not have even noticed that your throw pillows are getting a little sad looking. Are they wonky shapes now? Are they dirty? Are they the pillows that CAME WITH THE SOFA?!? Gasp! No. This can’t be happening. Time to rectify! Believe it or not I have lots of ideas about just pillows, but first let me tell you my favorite:


One of the most fun things ever is to just go crazy binge shopping pillows. It will feel all sorts of wrong but also SO, SO RIGHT.

I give you permission.

I learned this when I started staging. Ain’t nobody have time to sit and ponder, “Should I get this pillow? Or wait a minute this one? What about this one? Should I do blue? But, oohhh what about this green one…” GAH. Shoot me now. I had to get that shit done like yesterday, but then I’d get to the house and be like, “HATE IT.” and have to go back and start all over. So, I learned to just go ape shit and grab EVERYTHING. Now, I head to Home Goods or Target (or both) and load up on all the pillows I have even the faintest love towards (and even mild confusion on it’s fugliness) and bring them all home. No thinking, just grabbing. Sometimes I’ll have 2 carts full, I kid you not. Leave one at the front, grab another. Once you have all of the pillows at your house you can mix and match and spend all night putting the look together (with a glass of wine of course). EVERY time I do this the one or two pillows I thought were shoe-ins end up going back to the store. The ones I was like “Hmmm is this pillow awesome or fugly?” end up being the big winners. Keep the tags on and take back the ones that don’t make the cut.

I offered this suggestion to one of my clients, Renee, and she took it and ran. I celebrated a little inside when she sent me this photo, followed by many more of the different styled options on her sofa. Grab some wine and enjoy this part!

Full Target Cart

I promise you you won’t spend a million dollars on this binge. BUT, in case you want to keep the budget to a minimum, here are some other helpful hints.

Pillow Inserts

I recommend feather inserts as they fluff and remold the best where as polyester fill can get lumpy and lame. Once your pillows get the lumps, it’s game over. So, whenever possible, buy a pillow that has an insert that can be reused and save dollars down the line. The covers can simply be replaced or cleaned, thus extending its lifetime. You can then swap out covers for the season or when the mood strikes. For a fuller, firmer fill, use slightly bigger inserts to pillow cover size.

Here are some options on acquiring inserts.

  1. Reuse: You may have some already! Reuse these and simply buy new covers.

  2. Previously loved: Grab an ugly pillow at a thrift store that has a removable cover, but a good insert. You may not like the cover but you can just take it off and donate it back. You’ll have an insert for only a couple bucks instead of spending $10-20. I just throw these in the wash and then the dryer. Make sure the insert fabric is in good shape physically or you may end up with feathers everywhere.

  3. New: If buying thrifted pillows isn’t your jam, you need to get a life. JK JK. Ok so you want new ones. Obviously you can grab these wherever you can find pillow covers. I like to buy mine on Amazon. Here are some that will work.


Another budget friendly option is to buy the whole pillow at a thrift store. You never know! I’ve found so many pillows this way it’s unbelievable. I typically come home with pillows costing me $1-$3. I’ve found pillows from Target, Pier 1, Pottery Barn and West Elm at Goodwill. Check the hanging racks for pillow covers, too. Buy and throw them in the wash. If they get ruined, well then you are only out a buck or two. I also find covers with the inserts still in them. Win-win. I love thrifted pillows because you never know what gem you’re going to find. I have a pile of covers now that I swap out often BECAUSE I CAN WAH AH AH AH.


If you’re super excited to drop some money on pillows, go ahead and splurge on a great one. My pillow landscape usually includes one pricier splurge pillow I fell in love with alongside thrifted $2 pillows. One of my favorite places to splurge on pillows are DKRenewel, Etsy and Pottery Barn.

Sew Up

Grab some fabric and sew yourself some new covers or have someone who knows how to sew whip them up. Obviously you can find fabric at lot of places, but don’t forget searching through thrift stores or estate sales for some vintage-y fun specimens.

Switch Up

If you already have pillows you like and this is old hat to you, maybe just give them a little switcharoo. Move some into the living room from the bedroom. Change the covers out for the season with some from your stash. Swap with a friend. Maybe just wash the covers you have to feel fresher after the Holidays.


Don’t forget a new throw blanket! Do you have that pile of old blankets that are some obnoxious sports team colors or just not going to work with the new look? Grab a nice throw blanket or 4 while you’re out shopping. Home Goods and Target have good ones, but I also sometimes find these thrifted for mere dollars.


Ok so if you didn’t gather, I do all of the above on the regular. Grab your loot and line them all up in your living or family room, taking care not to get them dirty so you can return them if necessary. Start putting them all together to see which ones work well with each other. Return all the duds. Study photos from your favorite designers, Instagram accounts or on Pinterest to see the different ways people style them.

This sofa has a Target pillow, a splurge pillow, a thrifted pillow and a Home Goods blanket.

After seeing so many client’s houses over the years, one thing is for sure. Furnishings and decor can absolutely elevate or trash a home. Sometimes a nicely renovated home can look awful by the decor choices used (or lack thereof). Sometimes a home that hasn’t been renovated in decades can look awesome just because the homeowner has decorated it so nicely and keeps it well maintained. We’re going to try our best to elevate one day at a time this month so keep plugging through each challenge. I promise they will all make sense.

Show us your pillow progress! Tag your posts or stories with #updatedontrenovatechallenge so we can see all the pillow madness.

Don’t miss a day!

DAY 4 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Clear The Room

This is one of my favorite and easiest ways to update a room and a perfect Friday night project. I know, I’m a party animal. Invite some people over. Have some food delivered. Open some wine. (Yes that’s part of the challenge.) Tonight we…

Often times when I am staging a house, the room just doesn’t feel quite right. I always think I just don’t have enough stuff in it yet. I’m starting from nothing after all. Then it gets to a point that I have to remove some things. Such is often the case in my client’s homes. When I visit homes for design consults, specifically the ones that are having a hard time making the house “feel right”, the problem is simply all the stuff. This is precisely the stuff you hopefully already removed on DAY 1 and 3. Other stuff could be:

  • Something that “isn’t going to stay there”. That hutch that was your grandma’s but you haven’t found a good spot for it.

  • That pile of kids toys that “really should” go or “is going to go” in another room. I hear these two phrases often.

  • That table you have that hasn’t found a home yet.

  • Garbage. In the case of my staged rooms, it’s usually wrappings and tags from things I have purchased, the boxes I toted them around in, cleaning supplies, etc. In your case it might boxes leftover from Christmas, food wrappers, mail, whatever.

  • Stuff that is “extra”. Sometimes, like jewelry, there are just too many things.

Let’s assume you have been in your space for a bit and not just now putting it together…

Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It:

Choose a room. Your living room is preferred, but a bedroom or dining room is also appropriate. Choose the room that needs the most help, but not the kitchen. That’s a separate deal.

  1. Take everything out of the room. Sometimes you can’t take the sofa, bed, dining table or TV completely out of the room because they are just too big or heavy. That’s ok if you know they will stay. If not, like the hutch, get it out. This is when you might need to rally the troops (and where the wine comes in). Try to pull as many things out of the way as possible. Put them in the hallway, the garage or an adjoining room. You should only have maybe a rug and a bed/sofa/dining table.

  2. TV placement: The TV, the ugliest thing in the room, is often the dictator of where everything else goes. Deal with the TV first because everything else will follow suit. Figure out if it is in the best place. Don’t be lazy. Really consider moving it. Unplug that shit and move it. You can survive without it for a minute. NOTE: above the fireplace is RARELY the best spot. It’s usually too high making it uncomfortable to watch or just a bad idea should you actually want to have a fire. Try a corner of the room if it is not gargantuan. Try on a media stand or credenza/buffet. Try getting rid of it altogether or getting a smaller one. DO NOT FREAK OUT ON ME HERE. STAY WITH ME. You can make your own decision, but maybe it just needs to go. <shrug> Don’t let the TV dictate your life.

  3. Try the biggest furniture piece in a new spot. See if your bed or sofa will be better in a new location. Here are some ideas…not all work in every situation so don’t try to force them if they aren’t working:

    1. Pretend you are going to photograph the room. Sometimes I find that the way I would photograph a room is exactly the way I want to see it every day. A bedroom with the bed centered on a wall would photograph well. It may feel better that way to you, too, even if it seems like less space.

    2. One option is to stand in the entrance or doorway to the room. That is the place you will see this room every time you enter it. Where do you have to put the big pieces in the room to make the view better?

    3. Try a new place you’ve never thought of like angled in the room (don’t lose your OCD mind), on a different wall, floating in the room, etc. Try a place that doesn’t seem to make perfect sense. For instance, in The Lounge Airbnb condo I just furnished, many people working with me wanted the sofa to face the large row of windows so one could look out the windows. My thoughts were to put the sofa under the window. While the windows are awesome, they don’t have a great view of anything in particular. Additionally, putting the sofa opposite the window put the sofa smack dab in the middle of the room. This would cut off the flow of traffic and the back of the sofa as the first thing you would see. That didn’t feel right and feelings are what matter.

    4. If the piece just sucks altogether, get rid it! Too often people choose sofas or beds that are just too big for the space. Sell it, donate it, give it to a family member. More on this later in the month.

  4. Move the rug. Again, like the sofa or bed you were working with, try a different angle or position. Take your time to position the big piece with the rug in different locations. It takes time. Sip your wine. Try again. Don’t lose it yet. It will look bare and uninviting. Press on.

  5. Start bringing back in smaller furniture items like side tables, coffee tables, dressers, etc. It’ll start to look a little better but still naked. It’s ok.

  6. Now, layer in the artwork, decor, pillows and blankets that you LIKE. There are two kinds of “like”. 1. You actually like the item. 2. You like the item in the room. You may actually like an item itself, but it just isn’t working with the overall feel. Try taking it back out for the moment. You’ll just feel it. Something won’t feel right. ***Don’t add something back “until I find something to replace it” unless it’s a dresser and you actually do need to put your clothes somewhere.

  7. Steal like a thief in the night from other rooms to complete “the look”. Take from your kids rooms. Take from a bedroom. Search your basement and garage. Even your kitchen might have a tray or plant or something that might finish it off. You should start to see some life in the room now. It will finally feel warmer and inviting.

  8. Anything left over that hasn’t made it back into the room SHOULD NOT GO BACK INTO THE ROOM. Find a spot for your pile of misfit items. They could come in handy in other rooms if you try this clear out again. Otherwise, make a plan for the things that didn’t make the cut (donation, give to a friend, trash, list it for sale, etc).

OK you should have a pretty fresh looking room by now! If you have holes to fill, don’t worry. We’ll get to that soon.

If you tackle this challenge, show us! Use #updatedontrenovatechallenge in your posts or stories to show us your progress and final results!

Meet The Shack!

If you've been following my Insta stories, you know I keep saying it's done or almost done....but for real this time, it's done! Ok no it's not done done but it's ready. Because what project is ever done? Let's just say Phase I is complete.

The Shack is finally available for vacation stays! I'll get into each part of the house and exactly what I did with sources....soon. But, not today. Today is celebration day that a project is done and I didn't lose my mind! Hooray! 

The Shack is a 700sf STUDIO HOME. I've never seen one of those before in my life, but I knew it had to be mine when I saw it. It's actually quite like a large hotel suite with a queen bed, sleeper sofa, TV and dining table/workspace in the main living space. 

There's plenty of room to spread out and get comfortable just like in a very spacious hotel room, only you won't have to worry about noisy neighbors in the room next door or above you.

The Shack also comes with a full kitchen. I've set up a coffee bar area, complete with microwave to warm that cup up after it's gone cold. 

There's a also a full oven, stove and fridge so you can make any meal you like. I've tried to think of everything you'll need including providing knives that cut! :) There's also bottle openers, skillets, a Magic Bullet blender, storage containers for leftovers, oil for cooking and all the utensils you could need! Also in the kitchen is a closet for the washer and dryer. 

For a studio house, the bathroom is huge! There's plenty of space at the vanity for getting ready to go out on the town. When you're back from your excursions, enjoy the jetted whirlpool tub. 

The front porch is great for chillin' as is the back patio (which is still enjoying a little facelift). 

The Shack is available now for booking! To grab your spot, click the button below to go to the Airbnb listing. I'll be back with more updates on each area room and it's before and after soon!



Living Room: Cozy Modern Loft

This one is for me! I'm like the cleaning lady who doesn't clean her own house. I'm the design and renovation chick that doesn't do a dang thing to her own house until now. I have just one house right now, with not much renovation needed. So, I finally have time to work on my own house. Condo, that is. Can you believe I've only painted one room in the place since it was built 7 years ago.

For shame. 

The white walls were comforting for a while, I've got to be honest. With all of the neutral colors I was putting in the other houses, I kinda learned to appreciate the blank canvas. I also just couldn't commit to anything. One month I wanted this, the next that. What to do? Finally, this year I decided to put a design board together so I could get it together once and for all. 


Ok this is embarrassing. Don't judge. 

Modern Loft Before

Yes, that's a baby gate in the fireplace. We can finally take it out with only a slim possibility that my 2 year old will dive in headfirst to play with the rocks. Yes, that's a monitor on top which we plug our laptops in to play shows and movies. Look, we've been traveling ok? We sold everything we owned a few years ago and just never committed to putting a home back together. Get off my back. I'm working on making this place more legit!

Anyhow, we're keeping the rug bc it hides lots of little kid droppings like broken crayons, trail mix, you name it. It's like the cave of lost things. A keeper. The couch can go. It's lame. Maybe we'll even get a real TV.


Moving on. 

The Plan


Some of these things we already have. This is the good thing about making a design board. It can include things you already have and want to keep, just add the rest of the stuff to coordinate. This way you can see it all together rather than trying to imagine it all working out. For instance, the rug, the coffee table, the maps and the artwork are already things we own and like. The concrete ceiling and the fireplace are parts of the room and cannot be changed but will play a part in the design. As for the rest...

  1. Sofa: We need something that is more modern can fit in the small room and is comfortable. A couch should be, no? Otherwise, what's the point?
  2. Chair: The Eames lounge chair is a dream. I want it and have wanted it for a while. I'm a sucker for vintage, mid-century modern. Preferably the chair I find is the real deal, in good condition and the leather is nice and warn in for me. 
  3. Plants: This place is filled with hard spaces. The ceiling, pillars and floors are all concrete and the entire east wall is steel and glass. We need a little nature up in here. 
  4. Charcoal Gray Accent Walls: I love that most of the condo has white walls. It's bright, airy and different than any of the homes I renovate. I do think it needs a little bit of color, though. I know gray is probably not a color. Oh well. It's happening. I'm going to paint the walls behind the sofa and fireplace Behr Evening Hush. I may also take it to the fireplace wall, too. 
  5. Barn Wood Accent Wall: This may or may not happen. I'm up in the air about wood accent walls at this point. I love them, but they are EVERYWHERE. I think it might warm up the space a little but am hesitant about spending the money. If I do go forward with it, it will be installed on the fireplace wall which extends to the second floor and into the loft bedroom. 
  6. Accents: The rest of the items are a throw blanket and some plants. The room needs some life and warmth so these will just round out the edges. And who wouldn't want to pick some fruit straight off their own potted tree? Duh.

That's it for now. It's a small room with a lot going on structurally and height wise so I don't want to clutter it with too much else. I'll update you as I update the room. First, paint. Woo! 

Want your own design? Click that box, yo.

Another Custom Designed Home SOLD

Congrats to the new Creswell homeowners! There's lots they're going to love about that home like the more open feel to it, the crazy amount of closets and my personal favorite....marble kitchen. 

I have a thing for marble. Obviously. Mostly it's just the way it sparkles and makes a room feel light and clean. Especially important for the kitchen. Doesn't have to be marble, I suppose. Can just be white and stainless finishes like in Creswell's new bathroom.

Another favorite of mine is the living room which has beautiful random width, pegged hardwood floors and wood burning fireplace. That room will be warm and cozy this winter.

Hope they are getting warm and toasty in there right now as the snow rolls in. Happy Homeownership!