My "Go To" NYC Recommendations

New York City is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole world. I don’t care how many times I have been, within one year of my last visit, I am always itching to get back. There are always new things to discover and places to explore. You can’t ever “finish” seeing and experiencing New York in my opinion.

When people say they don’t like New York or they’ve already “done” it, I know they haven’t fallen in love. In my mind, that must mean they must not have experienced it the right way. I can never get enough of NYC.

A friend of mine recently asked me for some NYC recommendations for an upcoming trip she has planned with her husband. Immediately, I started thinking of all my go-to recommendations for first-timers or those who haven’t been in a long time. In the past, I have written these down in emails, or rattled them off to whomever is asking. I figured it was time to get them down in a post.

Times Square

Places I Generally Avoid:

I hate to start with a negative, but it seems like many people go to New York City only to visit a dozen or so sights, all within a (very crowded) 10 block radius. St Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, the Today Show, and the Southeast corner of Central Park are common stops on the list.

I am always baffled as to why people go to these places just crawling with tourists when there are so many other lovely places to explore. It seems like the goal is to get a picture at these places so you can post them on social media and other people can recognize that’s where you are. That’s my guess. But are you actually enjoying it? Or enjoying the idea of it?

Times Square deserves its own mention as the worst part of Manhattan. The bad chain restaurants, the swarms of tourists, the giant mega stores. I avoid it all cost. The only hiccup in this plan is when you have tickets to a Broadway show and there is no getting out of being there.

With that being said, the rest of Manhattan is definitely changing and becoming “Disney-fied” so the chances of uncovering the “real” New York will be more likely in one of the other boroughs.

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

My Go To NYC Recommendations

Despite the pockets of crowds and cheesiness, I still love this city more than any other. With each visit, I like to repeat some tried and true favorites, and of course explore & discover more. Certain experiences stand out among all the trips. And these are the ones I have recommended over and over again with great feedback.

Foods of New York Tours  – If I could only recommend one activity I would say this is it. These food tours are awesome. I’ve done all of the Manhattan ones except for the Gourmet Chinatown tour which I would love to try on my next visit. You can’t go wrong with any of them. The reason I love recommending these walking tours is not only because you get to try such a variety of foods in one fell swoop, but  the tour guides really make it special. The guides are extremely knowledgeable on the history, culture and architecture of whichever neighborhood you are exploring. Walking, learning and eating. What better combo is there?

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

Your ride for the Sunset Sail

Sunset Sail Aboard Schooner Adirondack – Another one of my very favorite NYC experiences. This is a 2-hour sail on a beautiful replica of a 1890’s sailboat. It takes you down the East River with the skyline of lower Manhattan on one side and New Jersey on the other.  Your destination? The Statue of Liberty. If you want to see the Statue of Liberty in all her glory (at sunset nonetheless) but are not interested in standing in a line to do so, this is the way to go. The boat seats only about 20 people which adds to the intimate experience. Your crew sails the boat and serves drinks while you are soaking it all in. I highly recommend!

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

Get Up and Ride Bike Tour – A bike tour is always an awesome way to see and experience a city. I posted about our experience on a Brooklyn Bike Tour with Get Up and Ride on THIS post. Although I am sure there are other good bike tour companies in NYC, we were very happy with this one.

Get Up and Ride tours max out at 10 people, which is so nice. In our case, we happened to be the only ones on the tour, so it felt like a private tour. Each person is outfitted with a headset and microphone so not only are you learning about what you are seeing, but you can also ask questions as you ride. Our specific tour explored graffiti art in the neighborhood and made a few stops for pizza and beer. We didn’t do the Manhattan tour, but I would totally be interested in giving it a try next time.

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

Chelsea Market & The High Line – I like to combine a visit to The High Line and Chelsea Market together. The High Line was built onto an elevated train track on NYC’s west side. It runs north-south with beautiful gardens and tons to look at along your way. If you are interested in checking out the High Line, this map outlines where it starts and ends, plus some of the highlights. Towards the south end of the park is Chelsea Market – a food hall with some pretty darn amazing eating options. On our last 3 or 4 visits, we’ve managed to always carve out some time for Chelsea Market.

If you take the Chelsea Market / Meatpacking District Foods of New York Tours I mentioned above, they will give you the history & behind the scenes scoop of Chelsea Market, plus they will take you on the High Line too. So that might be a good option if you have limited time and are interested in both. Another good option to consider if you are interested in the Sunset Sail which takes off a few blocks north of Chelsea Market, is to pick up your picnic dinner from Chelsea Market to enjoy while you sail.

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

A few “go to” shops:

I never really go to New York City with the purpose to shop the whole time. Too much to see and do to waste it inside. Especially in chain stores. But, there are a few places that I enjoy popping into whenever I visit:

ABC Carpet & Home – I can’t remember exactly, but this mega store has 7or 8 stories filled with everything you can imagine for the home. Even if you are not planning on buying anything, I highly recommend you visit the first floor just to see the amazing merchandising. It’s always an inspiring stop.

Fish’s Eddy – while you are at ABC Carpet & Home you should definitely pop into the much much smaller Fish’s Eddy. What? You say you didn’t come to NYC to look at plates? You have to check these out. They have the quirkiest designs you just don’t see everywhere. In fact, I dare you not to pick up something here to take home.

John Derian Company – I had been wanting to visit John Derian on several visits before I actually got to go. You see, it’s located in the East Village, an area that we seemed to never make it to. But on our last visit, we combined it with a visit to Morgernstern’s (the most amazing ice cream experience ever). John Derian is famous for his eclectic decoupaged plates and decor. His work is sold all over, but it is created in New York. Visiting his store is almost like visiting a museum of curiosities. Picking up one of his pieces would be a much cooler souvenir than a Big Apple coffee mug.

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

Museums & some alternatives:

New York City has some of the best museums in the world. Whatever you’re into, there is probably a world-class museum there you can visit. If you love museums, you have hit the jackpot for sure.

If you are not a museum person, and your time is limited, there’s no need to force it. Most likely you will find yourself with art installations and special cultural experiences everywhere you go.

If you do go to one of the “big” museums in New York, I recommend either booking a tour or selecting one exhibit to dive deeper. Trying to “do” the Met will surely leave you dizzy and overwhelmed. One tour company I am dying to check out is Museum Hack. Apparently, they take a fun and irreverent approach to sharing the stories behind the art.

Here are a few other ideas if you want to have a museum-like experience without the time commitment :

Grand Central Terminal – Grand Central is a quintessential Manhattan landmark that you can soak in like a museum. It’s perfect for a family visit because you can eat and be loud. Get on one of the staircases in the main hall and watch the travelers going in every direction under the beautiful constellation ceiling. Then, head downstairs to the whispering gallery. Stand facing one corner of the bustling intersection and get someone else to stand at another corner. Whisper into the wall and you will actually be able to hear the other person in the middle of the chaos. It’s fun!

NY Public Library – If you went to Grand Central, you will be super close to the main headquarters of the New York Public Library. This landmark building is definitely worth a visit. Made of pure marble and flanked by two regal lions, the architecture and grandeur of the library is one of a kind. You can pop in the Rose Reading Room or even visit the original Winnie the Pooh characters from the 1920’s. Read more about this special branch of the New York Public library HERE. Then go visit!

Rooftop Sculpture Garden at the Met – If you want a place to slow down with great views of Central Park, make a stop at the rooftop sculpture garden & cafe at the top of the Metroplitan Museum of Art. All you have to do is take the elevator to the top floor and enjoy the sculptures and the vistas. There are usually not too many people up there, and they serve drinks as well. This could be a great late afternoon stop before heading to dinner or a show.

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

Quiet street near the Courtyard Marriott Soho

When choosing where to stay:

There are hundreds of hotel and AirBnB options in New York City. All expensive and some of the smallest rooms you ever did see. I could never say this is “the” perfect hotel because there are just so many great options.

With that said, my main goal these days is to avoid staying in midtown. It might seem counterintuitive. Staying in the “middle” should make everything closer, right? Well, remember the list of places I steer away from? They are all in midtown. Along with all the tourists who want to stay near those places.

An approach that has worked well for us lately is to go uptown or downtown. As long as you are near a subway stop, you can go up or down quickly wherever you need to be.

We’ve recently really enjoyed staying at the Courtyard Marriott in Soho and the Hotel Beacon in the Upper West Side. Both are situated in great neighborhoods. We also stayed in a good AirBnB in Little Italy, but it is no longer available. Again, I am sure there are a bunch of great places, I’ve just found that as long as they’re not in midtown, you will experience a bit more of the special New York vibe you probably went for.

My Go-To NYC Recommendations - The Outside & In

Other tips:

  • Don’t eat at places just because they are “famous”. You’ll most like only see other out-of-towners there getting a picture by the sign. Not usually the best places to eat. So how do you find interesting places to dine? One option is to ask your guide on the food tour. They will give you suggestions in whatever neighborhood you want. Also, I jot down ideas from blogs I read on a regular basis (like THIS one and THIS one), and then save them on my NYC Pinterest board.
  • If you like the idea of Central Park, but not the hoards of people: Go in further and deeper into the park. Most tourists only visit the fringe. Or, visit the other parks in Manhattan, like Riverside or Rockefeller Parks. They are on the water and so much quieter. Even better, make an afternoon of it and go to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Designed by the same person who designed Central Park, Prospect Park is just as big and beautiful.
  • If you do happen to be in Times Square to watch a show and want to eat dinner beforehand, do not eat in Times Square. Instead, go to Hell’s Kitchen, one block over for much better food options. Just do a quick Zagat’s search for whatever you are in the mood for and I guarantee it will be way better than any places in Times Square.

So there you have it. My “go to” NYC recommendations and more advice than you ever wanted. I could do a whole post on visiting with young kids and finding great restaurants. I will save that for another time.

Have you been to NYC lately? What are your favorite neighborhoods or experiences in the city that never sleeps?

March Favorites - The Outside & In

Hi friends! I hope all is going well in your world. Last month we went on a family road trip for Spring Break. The boys got to see snow coming down, which, for Florida people is a big deal. The cherry on top is that on the way home we picked up our new puppy! “Doug” joined our family last month and he has been such a good, chill little guy. Thank goodness for that! Wait til he eats one of our sofas. I might be singing a different tune.

As enjoyable as Spring Break was, I am starting to get a little stressed thinking about the field trips, end of the year festivities, teacher appreciation gifts and all the other sweet traditions that alone are great but in combination, not so much. Instead of worrying about what’s ahead, I thought I’d look back on the things that made me happy in March.

March Favorites

March Favorites - Abstract: The Art Design

  • I am absolutely LOVING a new show on Netflix. My aunt Pierina, whose Lima apartment I featured HERE, emailed me a few weeks ago recommending this show called Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix. Each episode features one designer from a different field – interior design, graphic design, illustration, shoe design, etc. The production quality of the show is an art form by itself. Honestly, the episodes are just visually inspiring to watch. Then, you add these incredible artists who share a piece of their soul as you get a peek into how they do what they do. You may not think you know the featured designer by looking at the episode title. But you’ll be familiar with their work. For example, the stage designer has worked on Beyonce’s tour. The shoe designer happens to be the person who made most of the Air Jordan designs. The photographer has pretty much photographed every recent president and celebrity you can think of. Mind-blowingly good I tell you. Here’s the official trailer to whet your appetite. You can thank me later 🙂
March Favorites - Vital Proteins Veggie Blend

Vital Proteins Collagen Veggie Blend

  • I try to hold back talking too much nutrition on this blog, but I am a total nutrition nerd and I can’t help but share my new obsessions. In a past monthly favorites post, I shared how I was totally into Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. This tasteless colorless powder contains only 100% collagen from grass-fed cows. Last month, Vital Proteins announced a new product created in partnership with Dr Sarah BallentyneCollagen Veggie Blend. This new product combines the pure collagen peptides with 11 organic fruits and vegetables (mostly vegetables). And nothing else. Each serving not only includes the collagen our bodies needs, but 3 servings of vegetables too. I really love getting so many veggies in before lunch. If you decide to pick up the Veggie Blend, you will need to blend it with water, half a banana and some frozen berries to make it taste pretty good. Being that it is loaded with so many vegetables and no added sugar, it needs a little help to make it more palatable. But it’s still way easier than cutting up produce all day long!
March Favorites - Wonder by RJ Palacio

Wonder by RJ Palacio

  • As I mentioned earlier, we went on a little Southeastern road trip over spring break. One of the things I knew would be key to making the hours in the car fly by was getting a good audiobook that all of us would enjoy. We ended up downloading the audiobook of Wonder on Audible while we were in Asheville. It was the perfect choice. Have you read it? The author created an entertaining story with so many positive messages woven throughout. Without going into all the details, it is a story about a boy with genetic facial deformities who attends school for the first time as a sixth grader. In addition to hearing things from his perspective, many of the chapters are written from the perspective of his friends and classmates. The hours flew by as we listened to Auggie’s story in the car! All four of us gave it two thumbs up. I would recommend this book to anyone with kids 8+. And we definitely endorse the audiobook version as well.
  • So you may remember from THIS post that my March home update project was my master bedroom. Are you wondering how it came out? Well, I don’t have any pictures to show because I decided to continue the project into April. Reason is I decided to  get the chair in the corner reupholstered. The color was an unfortunate mustardy brown that was just not helping anything. And I stumbled upon THIS blue fabric on Tonic Living for a great price. I decided it was worth dipping into April’s timeline and budget to get the chair done and finish up a few more styling details before calling it a day. Stay tuned for the update report and photos soon!

March Favorites - Cleansing Oil

  • Are you familiar with One Love Organics? I’ve been curious to check them out since Beth mentioned this line as one of her favorites in her skincare post. In the process of looking for a good “clean” cleanser, I decided to try their Vitamin B Cleansing Oil.  I am loving it so far because it really helps take mascara off PLUS it smells like you are smothering delicious pineapple on your face.

What’s been on your radar lately? Let me know what’s been bringing a smile to your face these days.

Today I am excited to share the most amazing renovated ranch home in our neighborhood. And even more inspiring than the transformation the house went through is the story of the people who live there. I’m honored to share the photos of the house and the story of this special couple who lives here.

A little backstory:

Lorraine and her husband David have been on quite the adventure the last few years. Prior to the recession, David worked as a residential home builder with Lorraine spearheading the interior selections and design. When the economy (and especially the housing market) came to a screeching halt about 10 years ago, the couple saw it as a chance to pivot. Instead of wallowing in the despair of the current economic situation, they jumped on an idea. The couple turned their lake home and property into an inn called “The Nest at Lake Weir”.

The Nest was their adventure project for 5 years. Clearly the duo had a passion around this dream because the buzz around the little lakeside resort grew. It was a success as a business. However, being innkeepers limited their freedom. Last year, someone bought the property from David and Lorraine and the time came to start a new chapter. One that would allow them to enjoy the freedom and flexibility they craved after the years of being business owners in the hospitality industry.

This new chapter in their journey currently has them in semi-retirement. They are back to building and designing houses. But just a couple a year. One of their first big projects to tackle was purchasing their own home in town. They were ready to enjoy the proximity to their kids and grandkids, and their newfound freedom to travel.  The couple are now also proud owners of an Airstream trailer, which they’ve already taken on many adventures.

The house they bought turned out to be major renovation project of an older ranch that had only been owned by only one person prior.  Which brings us to where we are today. Lorraine and David have only lived in their new house for 7 months and it already has been completely transformed. I have been begging Lorraine to let me shoot it for months. She kept putting me off because she felt it wasn’t ready. I’m so glad she said yes because you have to see this transformation.

Before Pictures:

Before we get to the official home tour, Lorraine provided me a few pictures of what it looked like when they bought it less than a year ago. You might find it hard to believe it is the same house. These pictures show you how visionary and talented this duo is when it comes to transforming and creating livable homes for modern life. You’ll probably want to scroll back up to these when you see the “afters” because of the drastic difference.

Dining room – currently their front sitting room

Kitchen – currently the dining room

Den – currently the kitchen

Living room – still the living room

Sunroom – still the sunroom

Master bedroom – still the master bedroom

One of the guest bedrooms – still one of the guest bedroom (with twin beds)


And now for the tour and an interview with Lorraine.

Renovated Ranch Home Tour:

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Who lives in this home and how did you come to live here? How did you know it was the right choice for your family? Myself and my awesome husband of 43 years. We recently sold our Inn on Lake Weir it was a wonderful very demanding business that was hard work and offered us very little privacy. We have always enjoyed having friends and family over for dinner as well as our own special quiet time outside. This home is giving us back our privacy and the ability to entertain family and friends again in a simple, easy way. It’s enough living space and the outdoor area is perfect for us.

Tell us about the process of renovating this home. It had to be fast if we didn’t want to move twice. We were working with about a 7 week timeline. It’s was hard to prioritize our spending and make choices that would work in our budget and time frame. Walls were opened up, new kitchen, windows, roof and of course drywall, paint and flooring. The challenge of moving plumbing and electical wiring is so much harder in an existing home but that was a big part of the remodel.

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Where do you find home inspiration and ideas? God has given me a gift to see design and decorating, but that can be hard to communicate to others who are helping you complete the project. Pictures are worth a 1,000 words! There are always great pictures on Houzz and an internet search of product availability is very helpful.

How would you describe your aesthetic/style? Hard question…I have been drawn towards mid- century modern in the last couple of years and I really liked the look, but when it came down to making purchases we didn’t want to give up comfort. Mid- Century furniture is not comfortable so maybe a ” cozy modern with a touch of cottage” is there such a thing? Ha ha!

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

How do you approach a new renovation project? Where do you start? Make a wish list first, prioritize according to budget and make sure you if you can’t do everything you wish for that you are not putting yourself in a position where you to have to undo your first phase to get to the next phase..not sure if that makes sense.

What advice do you have for someone thinking about renovating with their spouse? Pray up and snuggle up, haha. We have an advantage over some couples because of over 40 years of construction experience but even with that it can be a little stressful. Plan, plan, plan. And lots of discussion. Find a way to visualize. Everyone has different gifts and it’s hard for some people to create and visualize on their own…hire someone to help you.

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

What are some of your favorite places to find inspiration for your home? Traveling and seeing new artsy stores with new designs and old world imports ….and of course looking at  magazines when waiting in line at Publix!

Which room in your home do you enjoy the most? Can I say kitchen, dining and outdoor space?….and I love my tub!

What do you splurge on in your home? Where do you like to save? We splurged on the things that you don’t get do overs kitchen and bath. I try to save on anything that I might want to change in the future.

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

What are some of your favorite places to shop for your home and others’? I really like old things mixed with new, most of my purchases were made from Restoration Hardware, West Elm, Koontz Furniture in Ocala and from Victoria’s antique warehouse in Leesburg. I love to check out Renningers extravaganza event for fill in accessories. Some items like linens and throw pillows came from Home Goods, Pottery Barn and Anthropology.

Whose home or design aesthetic do you admire? Why? Another hard question! In our years of building we have been the ones designing our homes in our own original way. I can’t really think of a person but we do get inspired by previous decades, Frank Loyd Wright, Cracker or old Florida style houses, cottages, and Modern with lots of glass.

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

What do you think is one thing most people could do that would make a positive impact in their space? Decorating, but being careful not to clutter. Arranging furniture in balance with space and great accessories. Always save back enough budget to do those to things to make your house a home.

You have a large family and lots of grandkids. What are your “musts” around a family-friendly space? Room for everyone to sit comfortably for a meal. Our grandkids like a little space of their own to hang out with cousins so we made what they call “The Chill Room”. I love special pieces in my house but not more than people so I make sure anything I use to create our home is either durable or okay to get broken.

How do you want your children and grandchildren to remember their time at home with you? A fun, relaxing, intimate and a place where they built relationships together.
Step inside: Lorraine's Inviting Renovated Ranch

Seven months. Seven months and it looks like that already. Isn’t she amazing?! I absolutely love how her home is collected, inviting and warm – yet still modern and edgy. What about that outdoor space? Such an inspiration.

On a final note, Brian and I have decided we hope to be just like Lorraine and David when we grow up #lifegoals. They pretty much have our dream future life. I admire how clear they are on their values and the intentionality of what they choose to do (and not do) with their time.

Interested in seeing more home tours like this one? Check out the rest of my “Step Inside” series HERE.

Photography by Ale Cretul

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!