Diary of a Mompreneur

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It’s spring break everybody!  Beaches, drinks with tiny umbrellas, sunshine, trashy mags….the works!

Hardly 🙂

They say motherhood changes you.  I believe this to be true.  Physical, mental, and lifestyle changes abound.  And though we may look to our pasts with longing (and that’s ok…..the above scenario sounds alright!)….we embrace the changes, we get up early, we take on this new season of life with gusto and love.  As I’ve said before, I’m nothing if not adaptable.

All that said, motherhood changed me more than I could have ever envisioned.  Since becoming a mom, I’ve started my own business, built a new home, volunteered as the auction decorating chair for my son’s preschool last year, and am one of the room moms for his class this year.  I recently signed on to be our neighborhood block captain….because apparently I can’t help myself 😉

All of us parents; full time work, part time work, stay at home, entrepenuer…..each scenario brings its own set of challenges.  So, based on my current experience, I’ll speak to my own challenges as an entrepenuer/stay at home mom crossover.

The time.  Where do we find the time?  I want to be the best at all the things.  I own an interior decorating business. I have two beautiful-and energetic-little boys.  I am a room mom.  A block captain.  A wife.  A daughter.  A sister.  A friend.  It is easy to feel stretched thin when you want to give so much to so many things.  We’re on spring break this week, and boy….there is a tough week stretching out here.  I decided to do a whole30 starting today as well….so I can’t even turn to my evening mom juice for solace 🙂

It’s 2pm on spring break, day 1.  My day started at 6am, which is pretty typical.  Our 4.5 year old loves that early morning life.  So far, I have fed two children two meals, and nursed a baby twice.  I have fed myself (yea me!).  I have done two loads of laundry, folded another two, emptied the dishwasher, and filled it right back up.  I have taken my children on a walk and played at the park.  I’ve cleaned my kitchen, ordered gifts for the Easter baskets on amazon, and found 2 hours during nap time and a riveting showing of Trolls for the older one to get some client work done.  I’ve played the LadyBug Game twice, and a rousing rendition of Paw Patrol live.

I feel accomplished.  And tired.  Maybe that’s the perfect balance.

After dinner and the kids go to bed, I’ll be back at my laptop and design boards again.  Working into the night, because I love my job so much.  (Not to worry, my husband owns his own business as well, so we’ll be dueling laptops-it’s quality time…I swear).  I’ll finally give in to the fact that it’s getting to be too late, and head upstairs to try and read a few pages of my book.  Reading brings me joy and relaxes me…..so I really try to find the time if I can.  I always go to bed too late…I’m working on it.

Add in date nights, Bar Method classes, time with friends, once a month book club…..my head is spinning!

And this is parenthood these days.  We want it all, we do it all, and we take it in stride.  There is nothing in that day that I want to give up.  I adore my children (even on those tough days!), I adore my husband, my work, my home, my friends.  Are there more hours in the day?  Is there a secret someone can let me in on?

This season of life….this busy, bustling, tiring season of life….it won’t last forever.  It’ll be gone in a blink.  The kids will grow, become more independent.  We will get that time back, maybe sleep in, maybe go on a weekend getaway as a couple.  But knowing it is just a blink, I’m going to embrace it.  Embrace the crazy, the tired, the go go go of life.  After all….there’s coffee.  There’s always coffee.

The Nursery That Almost Wasn’t

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Baby Nursery Inspirational PlaqueThis nursery. It’s almost there. Like every other room in my home, it’s an ever moving, breathing piece of art. I love that about my home…that I can change and rearrange as my style evolves.

But, back to this nursery. This nursery means so much to me, because it almost wasn’t.  Like most people do, we’d pictured our perfect family for years. For us it was, two of us, two of them.  So, we built our home, with enough bedrooms to fit that dream we held so dear.  And then, it wasn’t happening, wasn’t happening….just wasn’t happening. We were diagnosed with secondary infertility, and began a journey that we had never anticipated. And so, this nursery. For a long time, it wasn’t. The room became a bit of a thorn in my side. Every time I’d walk past it, I’d feel that becoming all too familiar, lump in my throat. My heart would skip a beat, and with tears burning my eyes, I’d stare at the open room…my perfect blank canvas, now….leaving me unsure what to do.

We had found the love of our lives in our first son Jackson, and I figured I’ll just make him a playroom, reading room, game room. We were given a less than 1% chance of becoming pregnant on our own again.  So, I started envisioning how I would set up Jackson’s new space.

Over 18 months, there were doctor’s appointments, tests, medicines and blood draws. So. Many. Blood draws.  We quietly accepted that a second child might not be in the cards for us…as difficult as that acceptance was.

Our docs told us IVF was our only chance to fulfill our dreams. So, we bypassed all other interventions, except for the drugs, and planned IVF for the Fall. I could still see the nursery in my head…but wasn’t sure it would ever come to pass.

September 2015 rolled around. Two weeks to the day before the scheduled start of our IVF journey, we learned that I was pregnant. Cue all kinds of fireworks, motivational music, and tears. We had beaten the odds. Who knows how…it doesn’t really matter.

I remember early on in my pregnancy, my husband bringing the crib up to that room. I remember thinking…oh, it’s so early still…we are tempting fate. But he knew that I needed this. Decorating that nursery was absolutely a healing time for me. We could put the last 18 months behind us…never forget…but move forward with our dreams finally becoming our reality.

This nursery. Our miracle is 12 weeks old this week. And as I sit in this room, I still feel that familiar lump in my throat, feel tears catching in my eyes, feel my heart skipping a beat….but this time, those feelings are perfect. They are from pure joy and disbelief. I can’t believe we finally got here. That I’m sitting in this rocker I never thought I’d get to use again. Our family complete, and all of us at peace.

This nursery.

A Little Color Goes A Long Way

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Within my job, I am asked to do so many things, from accessories and furniture, to appliance and materials selections.  One of the things I am tasked with most often is interior paint.  A client has either moved into a home that is not their style, or built a home that comes with stark white walls.  Whatever the situation, I pack up my paint decks, and head out for a consult.  Paint is a very personal choice, and the same tones and colors certainly don’t appeal to everyone. I make a point to steer clients in the right direction for their style and home, while keeping in mind the colors that really speak to them.  Check out one of my favorite first floor before and afters.  When we started, the previous owner had clearly loved to mix it up, color wise.  I counted seven colors that I could see from the foyer.  My ideal is to keep your home harmonious and flowing, and you can use varying colors within the same family to create a balanced and inviting look.  I had to ask my client to have faith in me in this case, because a few of the colors were outside their comfort zone, but I knew they were perfect.  The results are gorgeous, and prove a little color goes a long way. Check out the before and after photos!

Work For Pay or Work For Play?

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Today is a great day because I have some exciting news to share: I’m finally sitting in my home office.  And let me tell you, I’m loving it.

I started my business between our coffee table and our dining table.  And sometimes with my laptop…well, in my lap.  It certainly was not the ideal background for starting a business from scratch, but hey, grab life by the horns and all that.  So, I plugged away.  I wrote blogs, created design boards, researched, shopped, designed my website (with my awesome web designer/partner in crime-Hey Mike!), from cramped and uninspiring spaces.  Our rental was lovely, but it was never our “home”, and I never got to make it feel like home, because we weren’t there very long in the grand scheme of life.

So finally, after what felt like forever; seriously, felt like forever, we moved into our home.  And I have had so much fun decorating, adding our artwork and pieces we have collected from our travels, and filling it with finishing touches that have caught my eye along the way.  It’s been such a joy to take my professional work and create a home for our family.  I took care of my son’s room first…don’t we all, and then moved on to the shared family spaces.  And finally, my office.

Oh, to have some privacy while working.  To not be surrounded by toys.  To take a phone call in a quiet and tranquil place.  When you work from home, it’s the dream.  I promise you, the dream.

And so, off we went.  I decided to go with built ins, because we plan to be here for a long long time.  So many people don’t believe me!  Mike and I have moved and moved and moved, traveled and lived all over.  No one seems to believe that we actually plan to stay put for a while….maybe in 10 years, they’ll believe us 🙂  So, yes, built ins!  We hired a simply AMAZING contractor, and with my design and his skills, off we went.

It was a slow and tedious process (well…it felt that way-it took maybe 6 total days of work).  But, it stretched out over two weeks. And when you have a toddler to entertain, being house bound for the better part of two weeks can wear on you.  I’m sure Joe (our amazing contractor!), didn’t NEED us to be home the whole time.  But, I’ve been told that I like things done my way, on my schedule, and I like to be involved.  That may be true…but I’m super nice about it, and well, things get done, don’t they?

The work and patience paid off, and I’m writing today, my first blog from a quiet, uncluttered, single use space.  And I’m thrilled.  I figure if I can start a business from my couch with a laptop and a dream…I can pretty much conquer the world from here.

Historic Home with Glam Interior

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I’ve been working on a historic home in the Congress Park neighborhood for a couple of months now. This has been one of my favorite jobs to date! My work varies so much from client to client. With some clients, we just have one or two meetings, so I can help them kickstart some ideas. Other clients just want help with paint choices and a few small accessories. I love all of the work, and love to help people turn their houses into homes. But my favorite jobs of all are the total redos. Paint colors, furniture, accessories, the works. I love to take a project from start to finish, and to see how a home can transform with the right color and decor choices.

I love this Congress Park home. It’s full of historic charm, it’s warm and inviting, and the space is beautiful. While my client loves the charm, she also loves glam, she loves elegance, and she loves things that surprise people. She entertains guests often, and wants to make sure there is space for people to kick back and relax as well. She travels far and wide…and often, for work. We have been utilizing all forms of social media to stay connected, and we find that we are able to make it work.

So historic mixed with modern glam? How do we do it? How can we pull it off?

Here is a sneak peak at some of the pieces so far, and more photos will be added to the portfolio as we wrap up. It’s still a work in progress…but it’s coming together so wonderfully. I’ll be sad when this project one day comes to a close…it’s become a bit of a labor of love.

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Bringing It Home

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One of my favorite clients of all time is my mom. Yes, that’s right. My very own mom. She has style, she has pizazz, and she loves to change her décor, as she is ever evolving herself.

Living across the country from my family is tough, and it is one of the only things I’d want to change about my life. But, here we are, Denver to Pennsylvania…and somehow we manage. So much great technology surrounds us; picture texting, facetime, social media…it’s easy enough to feel close to home. When my mom asked for some help re-decorating her bedroom, I figured, let’s do it! No way was I going to let the distance between us keep me from helping my mom transform her bedroom into that relaxing oasis that she SO deserves.

We started simple with paint. She told me the color palate she wanted, and I hustled over to Home Depot to pick up the swatch. We settled on a soft gray, a stark contrast from the brighter white and gold paint chosen many moons ago. After the walls and trim were painted, we moved on to décor. Now, my mom was looking to decorate on a budget, and it’s something that many clients request. I can certainly appreciate that, and there are so many ways to re-use pieces or find a great deal. When we started this project, my mom was set on keeping her dresser and armoire. These pieces were built way before my time, and let’s face it, they are a quality of product that we just don’t find as often in modern day furniture. But, they were brown, and faded, and dated, and they just didn’t go. I told my mom, there is no point in doing all this work if you keep the dressers as is…no can do. They will take away from everything else you are changing.

room1room2So my idea was simple, transform the pieces. Rip off those old school plastic door faces, paint the dressers black, and glam them up with some current hardware. She cannot BELIEVE the transformation. But I knew those pieces could be brought back to life…and brought into the 21st century! I am delighted that she stuck it out, put in the hard work, and saved herself a TON of money by re-using some good quality pieces that just needed a little TLC.

 

 

The rest of the room was quite simple: a chair for reading, relaxing beddingroom4room3, soft curtains, and a few pictures and candles to make the space even more warm and inviting. Voila! A beautiful bedroom, put together with elbow grease, smart décor choices and a warm but neutral color palate.

Looking at the before and after photos, I am so pleased by our collaboration. My mom has worked hard her whole life. She is my role model, and always taught me to stay strong, persevere, and live life to the fullest. One of the best lessons she ever taught me: if there is room in your closet, you have room for more shoes in your life! I’m thinking this is where my design bug came from – fashion or home décor – it’s all about style.

Small Changes, Big Impact

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What I have heard most often from my clients is how overwhelmed they feel in decorating.  Where do I start?  How do I make everything work together? What will make the most impact?  What I often tell them is that small changes can have a huge impact, and you can start with one small change to drive the rest of the space.

IMG_3789Years ago, in our old home, I decided I wanted new light fixtures in our guest bath.  I didn’t like the Hollywood lights that builders are so fond of, and wanted something that reflected our style.  Lighting led to faucets, faucets led to backsplash, backsplash led to new mirrors…and if we are taking the time to do all of this…why not paint too?  You see where I’m going with this.  My point is, starting with one small change, lighting, I ended up re-decorating the whole space.  The end result was beautiful, and reflected my style.

Another project that took on a life of it’s own was when I decided that I wanted a new light fixture in IMG_3790the stairwell (if you haven’t noticed I’m really into lighting).  The stairwell was open on two sides, and had huge floor to ceiling windows viewed from the street.  I needed the light to be visually appealing when lit up at night…but to also catch your eye during the day.  I decided on an enormous hanging fixture from Ikea.  Well…once we had that hung…the white walls weren’t showing off the light like I wanted.  So…paint!  Painting 20 foot ceilings was not, and is still not, my idea of a good time.  It took a ladder borrowed from a neighbor, many stolen evenings once the wee one went to sleep, and several gallons of paint.  I finished the space off with some simple frames that I created using scrapbook paper and metal frames I found at Michael’s for $1!  And, voila!  I got the impact that I wanted. Small change, inexpensive change, big impact.

IMG_3792Our master closet was another project of mine.  I wanted a glam closet.  I wanted to walk in and say…ahhhhhh.  It all started with a chandelier.  I thought…well, if it’s glam I want, glam I will get.   A chandelier, some wallpaper, and built in shelving turned my otherwise non-descript closet into a fashion lover’s dream.

To refresh a space, even something as simple as changing out an area rug can make a huge difference. IMG_3791 Changing the color and style of an area rug can create a whole new feel to your space.  Check out our old living room, and what a big impact the new rug made.  It felt lighter, brighter, and more modern. I have since recovered all of the pillows, to further rejuvenate the space.

In the end, if you take it one piece at a time, you’ll feel less overwhelmed.  Start with one small piece that you love, and build from that.  So much of decor and design is personal style.  If you love your home and furnishings, if you feel you are reflected in the space, if you are confident and love your decor…..that makes the biggest impact of all.

Of course, if you are overwhelmed, I’m here to help you turn your home into that beautiful space you’ve always dreamed of.

Over The River And Through The Woods…

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…To a Cabin in Beulah we go! I spent some time last weekend shopping with a client, and we had a fantastic time. She owns a cabin in Beulah, CO, and when she bought it, it came complete with a variety of furnishings, window coverings, and knick knacks. She told me that she wants to modernize the space….as is, it just isn’t her. She also doesn’t feel that it will attract as many clients as she hopes with it’s current decor.

The trick of it is, she also lives here. This is her primary home, and she rents part, or all of the cabin, to suit her guests’ needs. So, the space needs to reflect her own personal style and taste, while appealing to potential guests. What I love about her…she’s willing to take risks. She is willing to step outside of her comfort zone. She wants to hear new ideas, and create an inviting space that she would never have chosen on her own. She loves everything I’ve done so far, and that is truly a great feeling.

But, what I love most about her cabin is this quote from her online ad:

This cabin is termed “The Giving Cabin” because it is meant to give peace and rest to all who enter and 100% of the profits for the rent of this home will be going toward Murwira Children’s Home.

I think this is simply fantastic, especially during this season of giving thanks and helping others. She is renting out part of her own beautiful home, to make money to give back. I jumped at the chance to help her transform the space.

We are moving towards a warm and inviting color scheme; soft grays and creams with a pop of warm red thrown in for contrast. We’ve chosen rugs, pillows, throws and baskets. We are still working on the larger pieces, and plan to get out shopping again soon. In fact I head down to Beulah this weekend to see the space in person and continue our work. I’ve never been, but I am excited to help such an amazing person turn their home into a place of rest and tranquility, into a place that exists for the purpose of bringing good to others.

When I started this I hoped to inspire others. I had no idea how inspiring they would be for me.

The House That Habitat Built

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Or is it, “The House that Built Habitat”? Around February of this year, my husband and I decided that we needed a larger space for our family. Primarily, we wanted a larger yard (read: any yard!), but wanted to stay in the Stapleton neighborhood. We love the small town within a city feel, we love that our neighbors all say hello, and we love the variety of parks and community events held here.

We found a builder that offers semi custom homes, and realizing we could design a home that suits our needs, we signed on the dotted line.

What I quickly became most excited about was the challenge of decorating our new space. I say challenge, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. It feels exciting, and truly, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. I do a lot of DIY, and I hunt for bargains. But, let’s not kid ourselves….if you know me, you know I have champagne tastes as well. I like knowing that I can make something beautiful from nothing, and that something can transform a space. I like a mix of glam, comfort, old and new. I like to mix and match and combine things that might even feel risky to some. I want my home to reflect me and my family. And we are nothing if not risk takers and we thrive on variety and adventure.

As I wait…still waiting, for our home to turn from foundation to a full fledged home we can actually live in (believe me….it’s taking it’s sweet time!), I realized something. I needed something else to decorate. I realized what I had already known for years. Interior Decoration is my passion. It delights me, and I’m good at it! I had been helping friends and family space plan and decorate for years….I always did it for the fun and the challenge. I finally decided to turn that passion into a career….and so here I am today.

We went by the house today….we have framing! And the interior walls are taking shape. In just a few months time, I can get in there and put those finishing touches on a space that we will call home.

So, is Habitat designing and decorating our home? Or did designing and building our home provide the impetus for Habitat to begin? I’m not really sure myself. And it doesn’t really matter. What matters is, I realized my passion. It’s been a great start, and I am loving every minute of this new endeavor.

In short, I came home.

What’s in a Photograph?

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This week, I am working on an assignment that is a study in photography, and the elements and perspectives therein. I am thoroughly enjoying this assignment. It is having me take a more technical look, shall we say, of photos from my travels and my life, which requires me to look at them in a completely different way than I have before. And I like it.

What I have been learning this week are the technical pieces of viewing a photo…not taking one, mind you, that’s an entirely different exercise. And it makes sense that you would want to learn how to technically view a photo before learning to take the perfect photo. What makes a photo beautiful? What makes it so you can’t take your eyes off of it? My lesson teaches that the perfect photo captures unity and harmony, wherein each element of proportion, scale, pattern, unity, focal point, movement, and value are perfectly represented. After this lesson, I know that must be true. But I also know that a photo needs life. It needs a subject, it needs to evoke emotion, and it needs to stir something within you. While being technically correct, of course.

What does this have to do with me? As I see it, the same principles apply in my design work. I need to take a blank space and apply the technical principles to create balance and harmony. But I can’t get so caught up in technical details that I forget the human element. How do you use the space? How does it feel? Does it feel like home? If I can unite all of these elements within your habitat, then I’ve done my job well.