I mentioned it in my last post, but this month I am jumping back on my home projects schedule and starting with the master bedroom. Last year I tried out a new approach to updating and refreshing different areas in our home. I loved the outcome in Ben’s room, Max’s room and the living room.

Here’s how it works: I limited myself to one room per month that I could make changes in. At the end of the month, I had to move on. This really allowed me to focus on realistic possibilities instead of thinking full scale makeover plans which never seem to materialize. The timeframe and accountability of posting the outcome on the blog motivates me to have something to show.

There are several key things I enjoyed about the challenge and restrictions from the new approach last year. The biggest plus is that it helped with my attention-deficit of wanting to do all the things at once. So tackling one room at a time was the most helpful aspect.

The other benefit to the new approach was that I had to get realistic on what I could do with the budget and time I had. That meant prioritizing so that I could get the biggest bang for my buck. Here are the rooms I would like to tackle in 2017:

  • Master bedroom
  • Laundry area
  • Garage
  • Master closet
  • Living room part II
  • Entryway

A warning: do not expect Fixer Upper level transformations here. You will be seeing real-life, bite-size budget, manageable changes that will get me closer to the ultimate vision. Progress over perfection is the goal.

Now, on to my March project – our master bedroom.

March Home Update Focus: Master Bedroom

Our master bedroom has been high on my list of spaces I’ve wanted to update for a long time. I can tell that this is going to take me a couple years to make all the changes I envision, but certainly we will have made some noticeable progress by the end of the month.

The best place to start when making changes to any room is identifying your inspiration for the space. Pinterest is a great place to do this. Every time I come across a bedroom that I love, I pin it. When I start looking at all the rooms I’ve pinned, I can see some common threads. It’s those elements that I try to incorporate in my plans.

Master Bedroom Inspirational Elements:

Although some of these spaces could be labeled minimalist, others mid-century, eclectic or traditional, they all have some things in common that appeal to me:

  • light/bright spaces
  • layered, but not overly crowded with accessories
  • grays, whites, blues
  • sculptural lamps, mirrrors, overhead lights
  • solid colored bedding
  • low profile or minimalist bed
  • area rug for pop of color/texture/pattern
  • simple or no window treatments

Now, in a perfect world I would whip out the ol’ credit card and make it all happen. Since we are dealing in reality, I will do the best I can with the budget I have this month.

To help you visualize the space before I started working on it, here are a few before pictures with my notes. I can tell you that these will definitely not all happen in March, but I will tend to as many as I am able to:

Inspiration & Plans for a Master Bedroom Refresh - The Outside and In

Inspiration & Plans for a Master Bedroom Refresh - The Outside and In

As you can see, they are not the WORST before pictures ever but the room is a long way from hitting all the inspirational elements on my list.

Like & Dislikes

After inspiration, the next thing to do it identify what is and is not working for you. First, let’s start with what I do like. My absolute favorite part of this room is the gorgeous natural light it gets. I love opening the blinds first thing in the morning and letting it wash in. I also like the size of the room. The color is staying too. I painted it Sherwin Williams Sea Salt several years ago, and I still like it. At some point, I would like to go bright white (like the second inspiration picture). But for now, I will enjoy this color for one more year.

Now for the stuff that irks me. My biggest beef comes from all the matching furniture. Breaking up the set will be my #1 priority. You can see in the picture above that I got a head start last summer when I painted the dresser. When we got married, I was working part-time at Pottery Barn. Since I had the sweet discount, I pretty much bought everything there. Hence all the matching wood tones which I don’t like. I feel like matching bedroom sets lock you in so much. And they can quickly look dated.

What will have to wait:

After watching all makeover shows on HGTV, sometimes it is hard to come down to the reality of what a full-scale makeover takes. A LOT of time and A LOT of money. I have to remind myself that the goal is noticeable progress with these monthly room updates.

The biggest ticket items: new bed, area rug, and window treatments will probably have to wait until my next go around at this room. I definitely want a new bed and have been saving tons of different options on my Master Bedroom Pinterest board. Right now, my #1 contender is THIS one. Problem is, we keep going back and forth on whether to stay with a queen or go to a king-size bed. If we do switch, it will mean a new mattress and bedding. Since I am not ready to take on all of those changes right now, we are going to keep this one for a little while longer.

Master Bedroom Refresh Priorities for March

With all that in mind, here is the list of priorities I would like to address:

  • break up the matching bedroom furniture
  • lighten/brighten the space
  • bring in textural elements
  • style the surfaces for a more welcoming space
  • figure out the reading corner

The moodboard below captures the direction we are heading.

Inspiration & Plans for a Master Bedroom Refresh - The Outside and In



What do you think? I will get as much as possible wrapped up in the next few weeks and I will post pictures to show you how far I got!

Wouldn’t you know that as soon as I mention that I would like to start posting twice a week on a regular basis I go a whole week without posting anything! I have a million things I want to share with you, but I am realizing the posts don’t get written unless I sit down to actually type them in 🙂 Let’s start with some of my recent highlights and favorites:

February Favorites - Amber Interiors Before and After

February Favorites

  • No one does the boho California aesthetic better than Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors. She recently revealed the photos from her Client Oh Ojai project and it is absolutely her best work yet. Every single room is to die for. I love the colors, texture, and natural light in the space. Doesn’t hurt to have one of my absolute favorite interiors photographers capture the project either.  If you want to see a wild “before and after”, check it out.
  • Last year I tried out a new approach to home projects that suited my easily distracted nature. I would only allow myself to make changes in one space for a month at a time. The restriction of not getting sidetracked by other rooms helped me stay focused and feel like I actually made some progress. I made it through April tackling a several rooms and the exterior, but had to quit in May when I stopped working. I am happy to say that I will be hopping back on that bandwagon again and starting with our master bedroom. I’ll have a post with more details soon. In the meantime, I will say my favorite change has been swapping out our old mirror for THIS one.
  • This week, I opened my inbox and found just the right post at just the right time. I had that experience when I read: “It’ll Be Better When” on Caroline’s blog. I have this annoying habit of committing to something and then spending a lot of time wishing this project/phase/event to be over so that things can get better after. Caroline took the words right out of my mouth on this post. But even better, she throws out some really good actionable steps to help you get unstuck from that mindset.
  • Are you familiar with the term side hustle? It’s basically the name for another income source other than your main job. Well, I have been listening to Chris Guillebeau’s new “Side Hustle School” podcast every day since it came out a couple months ago. It’s one of my new favorites for sure. The episodes average about 6 minutes each, so fitting it into your day is easy peasy. Each day, Chris shares the story of a different person’s side hustle every day. And I love his approach of dissecting the takeaways from each business he features. At the end of the week, he’ll do a longer episode (no longer than 15 minutes) recapping all the lessons learned that week. If you are at all curious about people’s side hustles or like to cultivate business ideas, you will love this podcast.
  • Ever since I got some lessons on skincare from THIS lovely lady, I have been experimenting to see which products are going to be my “go to’s”. Still on the search for a good moisturizer with SPF, but I am loving this toner and this serum. I have already gone back to by seconds of both.
  • A few years ago, I swapped giving up something for Lent for doing something. I like it much better. And you end up having grown in some way at the end. This year, I am spending the first 30 minutes of each day reading THIS book. Two days in and I already love it.

I am very much looking forward to March and the beginning of Spring. There are so many projects and ideas I want to jump on and write about! I promise to do a better job of sitting down to get them out of my head. Have a great weekend!

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Last weekend we took a quick little trip to Charleston with our friends/next-door neighbors, Dave and Julie.  Taking a quick adult vacation in late January/early February is becoming a little tradition for us. Last year we visited Savannah around the same time. Working with a quick little window of 2 nights for our getaway, we chose Charleston for our destination this year.

Charleston is about 5 1/2 hours away from us. That’s probably the limit of how much we want to drive for a 2 night/3 day stay. We left on Friday morning and arrived in the afternoon. Before we left, I did my typical scouring of the internet to get recommendations of what to do and where to eat. Like I mentioned in THIS post, I have a specific websites I go to get ideas on where we would want to eat. I mostly focus on recommendations from bloggers whose style I like that happen to live in the city or have recently visited. Then I save all my findings on a trusty Pinterest board like this one I made for Charleston.

Charleston Weekend Getaway - The Outside & In

Charleston Weekend Getaway - The Outside & In

Charleston Weekend Getaway - The Outside & In

Where we stayed:

We used AirBnB to find a cozy place to stay in Charleston. Staying in an AirBnB home worked out really well for our Savannah trip, so we tried the same for Charleston. The unit we chose ended up being a super charming upstairs apartment in a historic home. The house was built in 1852 and has been restored by the young couple that live downstairs over the past couple of years. We loved the layout and the comfortable features. Our young hosts greeted us at arrival and walked us through the home to make sure we were comfortable with everything.

In case you are interested in staying in this same apartment, I have to warn you about the location. The home is located 2 blocks from King Street, which if you know anything about Charleston, is the street. However, this was upper King Street, which is definitely growing but not a prime tourist area. The neighborhood around the home is still in “transition”. The host actually emailed me to let me know that before we booked to make sure that would be okay with us. I really appreciated her letting us know and we chose to book anyway. To be honest, if we hadn’t known ahead of time, I would have been a little freaked out by the location. Despite the neighborhood’s looks, it turned out to be great jumping off point for biking around the city, which is what we did all day Saturday.

Charleston Weekend Getaway - The Outside & In

Our Airbnb apartment

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

What we did:

Last year when we went to Savannah we took our bikes and never once got in the car during our visit. That was such a memorable part of our trip that we decided to do it again for Charleston. Especially after driving 5+ hours to get there, it felt good to stretch our legs and ride all Saturday long.

Biking around this city was an absolute blast. Julie had studied a map of the city and gotten a travel guide before our trip, so she guided us to the different areas of interest. In between stops for meals and refreshments, we would weave in and out of all the residential streets of the city filled with so much to look at. We absolutely loved the historic homes with their charming side porches. What a beautiful city!

If you can bring or rent bikes on your visit, I would highly recommend it. Every time we would want to stop and walk around, we would just lock the bikes up for a little bit and then hop back on when it was time to move on.

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Weaving through the streets on bike

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Scoping out the historic neighborhoods

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Although soaking up the city on bikes was a blast, the highlight of the visit would probably have to be the amazing meals we ate. I am sure we could have stayed a month and eaten at a different place every day.

Where we ate & drank:

Husk – This was our first dinner in Charleston and man, was it good. Southern-inspired and completely focused on local ingredients, there was not one menu item we didn’t love.

The Daily – This small but beautiful cafe serves Stumptown coffee and has a delicious little breakfast menu. I ordered the avocado toast with a fried egg on top and I am still thinking about it.

Black Tap – The day we rode our bikes around the city was cold! So we needed a place to refuel and warm-up in between stops. Black Tap was that place. They had a nice selection of coffee and tea drinks, but most importantly, a warm and sunny spot to sit and chill.

Xiao Bao Biscuit – Although it is nearly impossible to pick a best meal of the places we ate, if someone put a gun to my head I would probably pick Xiao Bao Biscuit. The menu had about 5-6 items on it, and wouldn’t you know we ordered all of them because they all were so tempting.

FIG – Brian and I actually ate here on our visit to Charleston 10 years prior. Despite how long they’ve been around, FIG is still holding a spot as one of Charleston’s most innovative places to eat. It’s a special occasion place and one that you will want to make reservations for weeks in advance. But you will be so happy you did. FIG was out of this world!

The Park Cafe – On our last morning in Charleston we struggled with making a decision for breakfast. We all remembered The Daily so fondly, we kinda wanted to repeat it. But the “try and see new things” part of us was calling to try a new place. I think we chose well. We showed up at the cafe about 10 minutes early and there was a small line of people already waiting at the door.

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

The Park Cafe

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Counter at Xiao Bao Biscuit

Winter Weekend in Charleston - The Outside and In

Our visit to Charleston was absolutely fantastic. The city is absolutely magical. A charming combination of historic streets and homes with a buzzing young energy. I know we just touched the tip of the iceberg with all there is to do in Charleston. So we’ll have to plan another trip soon!

Have you been to Charleston lately? What were your favorites?


30 Day Minimalism Game - The Outside and In

Have you heard of the 30 Day Minimalism Game? I recently completed The Minimalist’s 30 Day Minimalism Game in January and the experience was quite positive. In fact, so positive that I am doing it again this month! Who would have ever thought that decluttering and tidying up could have been not only fun, but also (dare I say) addictive.

Whenever the topic comes up, people usually react quickly to say 1) “I need to do that!” or 2) “There is no way I can do it!”. After going through the experience, I can tell you there isn’t  better way to lighten the load of invisible “stuff” your house is carrying than to play this game. As a simplicity lover and an underbuyer, I was wondering if I would make it through the first month. Yet somehow I am halfway through the second month without an issue. And I’m here to tell you about it.

My experience with the 30 day Minimalism Game - The Outside & In

How it works:

If you are unfamiliar with the game, here’s how it works: on day 1, you get rid of one item from your home. On day 2, you get rid of two items. On day 3, three items. And so on throughout the month until you get to day 30 when you would be releasing 30 items from your home. If you stay on track and make it to the end, your home will be approximately 500 items lighter at completion.

This game is definitely best played with a partner to hold you accountable. So I decided to throw it out there on social media to see if any acquaintances were in the mood to join me. It turns out a lot of people were interested.  Must have been something about the post-Christmas starting a new year vibe in the air. I created a private FB group page so that we could all play the game “together”. For this January group, we had about 40 people. Although I had hoped the game would translate to a larger group setting, I wasn’t sure. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. I was happy to find it worked perfectly!

30-Day Minimalism Game - The Outside and In


Playing the Minimalism Game:

In general, I do not have much visible clutter out around the house. For me, I need a tidy space before I can work. I listen to THIS minimalist podcast every week. I read THIS famous decluttering book which triggered me to cut my wardrobe by at least 60% a few years ago. Yet, despite all my desires to not have too much “stuff” around me, I was able to sail through the 30 day challenge and find 500 items that needed to go.

I decided to start the game in my bedroom area and not tackle any other part of the house until I had combed through every drawer, cabinet and storage nook available. My bedroom area consists of my bedroom, closet, bathroom, and home office. Wouldn’t you know that I was in there decluttering for 21 days! That is equivalent to at least 231+ items that I removed. Days 22-30 involved a lot of the boys’ clothes, toys, and some craft supply cleanouts. I saved the junk drawer for the last day because – it’s the junk drawer!

How did I have so many items I wasn’t using, you ask? There are so many things all around  us that we no longer even “see” them. Decluttering became a game to hunt for these formerly invisible items. In fact, I am also embarrassed to tell you how excited I was every morning to go for my hunt.

And just like that the challenge was over. Our home felt like it had gone on a detox. And I hadn’t even touched the main living areas!

Day 24 haul

Revelations from my experience:

Sorting through my junk allowed me to understand how my stuff accumulates. My biggest weakness is “out of sight, out of mind”. The easiest way for stuff to accumulate around here is to be “stored” somewhere. If we had surplus supplies after a session of crafting, the remnants could just sit quietly in a cabinet for years. Knowing this about myself will help me make better decisions moving forward.

Participating in a group made the mundane task of decluttering fun. Technically, you could play this by yourself as many times as you want whenever you want. Having other people playing along made all the difference though. I would wake up every morning excited to find my allotted items for the day. Needless to say, I didn’t feel the same way about decluttering before. The game aspect of this chore made all the difference for me.

Breaking up the jobs into tiny bit sized pieces made a big job super manageable. Yes, a few times a year I will clean out my closet, or perhaps the junk drawer. It usually takes a couple hours, and after I finish, I do not want to do it again for a long time. However, finding the clutter in small batches is extremely manageable. It took on average of 5 minutes. Once we got to the higher numbers, it took a little bit longer, but not much. I would throw out what was not usable, and added the other things to specified donate piles. Once the pile was significant, I would take a load away.

Doing some intentional reading and movie watching can help fuel your motivation. One of the most motivating factors for participating in this challenge was watching Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. If you have not seen this insightful documentary, I cannot recommend it enough. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less are two excellent reads that also reinforce the why’s and how’s of streamlining.

Utilizing the 20/20 Rule on “just in case” items is the way to go. We all have items that we are not using but that we think we might need “some day.” These things can sit for years. One of the most helpful guidelines for us came from The Minimalists 20/20 Rule, which basically saves you so much time from waffling between “should I” or “shouldn’t I”? If you can replace the item in less than 20 minutes for less than $20, let it go. Life-changing!

My Experience with the 30 Day Minimalism Game - The Outside and In

Day 10 haul

If you think that you might want to get a group of friends and play, here are some tips on setting up the group online. I will tell you I also tried to manage it with email communication, but that did not work too well for me.

Playing the Minimalism Game online:

Set up a secret FB group. It’s important that people feel comfortable sharing photos of their homes and their things without fearing the whole world will be seeing them.

Try to post at least once a day. Besides posting my junk, I like sharing one positive tidbit, motivational quote or helpful blog post that could serve as conversation fodder.

Decide what your max limit of members should be. One of things I have noticed in other FB groups I am a part  of is that the higher number of people, the lower the percentage of engagement. We closed the January group at 40. Plus, that also helps people feel “safe” to share their photos without wondering who is seeing them.

Close out the group to new members within the first few days. Going back to making your group members comfortable with sharing, if new people are hopping in at all times during your 30 days, it might hinder openness. Also, one of the magical elements of the game is starting from the beginning and ramping up, so it benefits everyone to start as close to the beginning as possible.

Celebrate reaching the finish line. Since our members were all across the country, we celebrated by sharing a fun “We did it!” image to close out the month.

My Experience with the 30 Day Minimalism Game - The Outside and In

Day 8 haul – lots of stuff that fell within the 20/20 Rule

Overall, I could not have been happier with the experience of participating in the 30-day decluttering challenge. Besides having empty drawers and a closet that is full of space, the best part was the camaraderie of the group. The process brought out many fun discussions, self-discovery, and a renewed energy to take on 2017.

Have you ever tried the 30-Day Minimalism Game? Would you ever do it? Moving forward, I think I will play every January.

In Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More - Dana Miller of House Tweaking
It’s been a while since I shared my favorite podcast of the week. I certainly have not stopped listening to all my favorites, but it wasn’t until I heard Dana Miller on the Young House Love podcast that I felt compelled to share this most recent podcast episode. This week’s episode recommendation is: “In Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More” on Young House Love Has a Podcast.

In Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More - Young House Love Has a Podcast

To give you a quick background, Young House Love Has a Podcast is a fairly new podcast hosted by John & Sherry, the authors of the massively popular home DIY blog, Young House Love. On their blog, John and Sherry share all of their DIY projects and adventures and they do it well. For some odd reason, I only check their blog once in a while, but I listen to their podcast religiously. They are just super talented at audio and of course since they talk about home improvement and decor, I love the subject matter.

Imagine my delight last Monday morning when John and Sherry shared that their special call-in guest would be Dana Miller, author of one of my favorite blogs, House Tweaking. A few months ago, I highlighted Dana’s home as one of my favorites in THIS post. On this week’s podcast episode, Dana and her husband share why and how they moved their family of five into a house half the size of their previous one.

n Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More - Young House Love Has a Podcast

In Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More

If I told you Dana and her husband lived in a 3200+ square foot house and then moved to a house half the size with 3 kids, you might think that something bad happened.  Someone lost a job, they got into credit card debt, or some other negative life circumstance. But what if I told you they did it out of a bold intentional choice? A choice to live a simpler life with more freedom. A life that allows them to live mortgage free and travel with their family all the time. And leaves them in a home where every room in their home is used every day. To some, that might not sound so appealing. To me, it sounds like heaven.

n Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More - Young House Love Has a Podcast

Even though I am familiar with Dana’s story and how they downsized their life back in 2011, listening to her and her husband share it on the podcast motivated me all over again. I could sense a lot of their values overlapping with ours – freedom, security and adventure.

These are the highlights that really struck a chord:

  • Dana and her family downsized their house by half. They went from a 3200+ sq ft home with a full basement and detached garage to a 1600 sq ft ranch which needed a lot of work. Not only did they survive, they thrived in the smaller space.
  • Going smaller doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or style. In fact, it can mean the complete opposite. Because the house was small, they actually used higher quality materials than they would have with a larger one. They were able to customize it to suit their family’s lifestyle.
  • Having a passion for aesthetics doesn’t have to conflict with your desire to have less. Dana is clearly a talented stylist and photographer. She still updates her home and keeps it looking beautiful. Her desire to live with less makes her a much better at selecting what she will bring into their space. Which results in a beautifully edited home.
  • If your job stops lighting you up, make a change. Dana quit her job as a pharmacist and swapped to one that suited her current needs. Living in a smaller home allowed her the financial breathing room to switch careers. In this case, one that afforded her a lot more freedom – blogging.
  • Once you identify what you enjoy most, start doing it. Don’t wait for someday. Dana and her husband talk about the realization that they love traveling to experience other cities and cultures. So they do. All the time. Plus, Dana has an amazing knack for finding the coolest AirBnB properties. Sometimes they pick a destination based on the property.

n Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More - Young House Love Has a Podcast

n Pursuit of Buying Less & Doing More - Young House Love Has a Podcast

If you get a chance this week, give “In Pursuit of Buying Less and Doing More” a listen. I am curious to hear your thoughts on this family! Even if the idea of going smaller to live bigger doesn’t light you up like it does me, it’s still fascinating.

To see more of recommendations on compelling podcast episodes, CLICK HERE.