animal series

Firefly Series

9:00:00 AM


Firefly page from David Kirk's, "Little Miss Spider."

Isn't there something magically wonderful about fireflies? Twinkle lights glowing in the night? Yes! Catching bugs that fly low and slowly? Perfect for children! Summer weather at twilight? Beautiful. My husband says he thinks God made fireflies just for children.

I decided to do an animal series this year with a firefly theme. Get ready for lots of firefly fun!

Happy Summer!

decorating

Home Living: Rental Series #5 Focal Points

9:24:00 PM

decorating with TV, TV and paintings


A focal point in each room not only helps the design factor, but also helps your room feel more comfortable and "homey."

" L O O K   A T   M E ! "


One of the best things I learned in my design classes in college was about how the eye moves. Before, I had never noticed what my eyes did when I looked around a room unless it landed on something that didn't quite seem right.

One way the eye moves around the room is through repetition. We've talked a bit about the importance of repetition (through color, size, and texture). A room can feel disjointed without repetition. This is an important concept to understand when decorating each room.

Another thing the eye needs is a place to land. A focal point. A resting spot. If there is no focal point, the room will feel unfinished, not a comfy, cozy spot to be. If the room has too many "look at me" areas, it will feel cluttered and busy.


H O W  C A N  I  K N O W

W H E R E   T H E   F O CA L   

P O I N T   S H O U L D   B E ?


  • Architectural Features- Do you have a fireplace? A very large window (or group of windows)? Built in bookshelves? Exposed brick wall? These are architectural features that are usually meant to be the focal point of a room. They are easy to dress up and/or sometimes even leave alone!
    • Note about large windows: in most rentals, you'd be hard pressed to find giant window installations. A "large window" may be 7 feet wide and 5 feet tall. These windows may or may not be used as a focal point.
  • Large Blank Walls- If you don't have anything particularly interesting to work with, you can dress up large blank walls to make a statement.

Story

We lived in a condo with a living room that had a "large window," a bay window, a closet that jutted out, a staircase, and it was partially open (enter awkward columns) to the dining room. It had A LOT going on. After sitting in the room for a while, I tried to imagine where and what the best focal point would be. I came to the conclusion that the large window was the best option for our circumstances. We put our couch in front of it, added bright pillows and dressed the window with curtains and sheers. This solution was simple and didn't add to the busyness of the room.


H O W   C A N   I   C R E A T E   A   

F O C A L   P O I N T ?

  • A large piece of art (or two pieces paired together)- You can use canvases, framed art, tapestry, or woven wall hangings.
  • Gallery wall- These are great ways to display lots of different items and make a statement. However, beware of putting a gallery wall in every room. It's too much.
  • Dress up existing feature- Windows need drapes and/or good view, fireplace could use a mantel display, bookshelves need books and/or other items of interest.
  • Collection- You can use plants, books, items from foreign countries, items of personal interest, really there are a lot of neat collections you can use!
  • Large Mirror- This is especially effective when placed opposite of natural light.
  • Light Fixture/ceiling- Modern, elegant, or rustic, light fixtures can totally be the focal point in a room. Just be sure to go large (bigger than you think). You may want to dress the ceiling up as well- chandelier medallions, beams, ceiling painted a different color.

T H E   T V

We need to talk about the elephant in the room before deciding on what and where your focal point will be. The TV. TV's are tricky because they aren't the most beautiful thing to look at, yet, TVs are big, and furniture placement is decided based on TV location. They can't help but be a focal point.

So, you need to make a decision. Do you even put a TV in a living room? Too many focal points are going to make the room busy. Is there a reasonable way to combine focal point features with a TV?

Each place we have lived has had a different answer. Sometimes the decisions were based on the space, and sometimes decisions were based more on lifestyle/desired lifestyle.

We have most often had our TV out in the living room with attempts to blend the TV with the focal point/focal wall. In the early years of renting, this included a cabinet to cover the even uglier and bulkier TV we owned. Another time, we have put the TV in an extra closet (what?!) in our bedroom. We've had a place where we've been lucky enough to have a family room/den to put the TV in. Currently, our TV is placed in front of two large pieces of art on a long bookshelf. This creates more of a focal WALL.

Now that TVs are slimmer, it's not quite such a hurdle to jump, but here are some ideas:
  • Create a focal wall with art, shelving and a TV included. It would be like a simplified gallery wall.
  • Place TV above fireplace so that seating is not only focused on the TV, but also the fireplace.
  • Mask it. There are really great inventions that make a TV look more like a mirror or a piece of art. You could also mask the TV by hanging sliding wooden panels or fabric. Just pull back when using the TV.
  • Use a projector instead. When not it use, a wall will look more blank, but it will allow for more attention to be given to a different focal point.
  • Consider keeping the TV in a different room.
  • Downplay the TV by placing it in a slightly more discreet spot and centralizing furniture around the intended focal point. This will not make for the best of seating options when TV watching is actually going on, but the TV can be temporarily moved if a big game/party is going on.
This may take some trial and error to get a good fit for your situation. Be patient, thoughtfully imagine options in your room, and keep your eyes peeled for ideas.

F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

Now that you have some basics on the importance of creating a focal point and some ideas on how to do it, hopefully this will spring-board you into making your space even better! And if renting is still in your future you will have more opportunities to problem-solve and figure out what you like!

Happy Decorating!

-Rachel

baby stuff

Introducing

9:15:00 PM


Baby Ruby joined our family in May and we are so happy she's here and healthy! She looks just like her siblings and we are smitten with her. She's just a little piece of heaven and we feel so blessed to have her.




decorating

Home Living: Rental Series #4 Make it Do

9:12:00 PM

peach walls, bathroom artwork, peach and mint, small bathroom
 Our bathroom is a peachy-tan color. I prefer more neutral walls, but the finishes were so clean in this bathroom, keeping the peachy-tan color seemed like the best option. How to brighten it up? Add large scale art that includes the peachy color. The art also has lots of fun and bright colors, so the bathroom feel lighter and happier now. 

I T ' S   W H A T   Y O U   D O   W I T H   W H A T   

Y O U ' V E   G O T .


There will be no perfect home. There are quirks or things that you would ideally want to be different. It doesn't make sense to fix everything. Time and money have to be factored in as well as how long you may be in your place.

With creativity, you can often improve what you don't love with just a little effort.

 

E M B R A C E

I've found that once I've reached a comfortable level of clean and brightness, I have to EMBRACE a lot of the things I'd still like to change. Once I decide to EMBRACE (the trim, paint color, carpet color, weird column, etc.), I make so much more progress!

Story #1

Our current home is trimmed with basic dark wood. I definitely prefer white trim all the way! I can't change the trim because there it soooo much of it! I finally came to the realization that embracing it would be the best thing to do. So, I got some stain and touched up the dings and cleaned it up. "Hey, that's not so bad!" I choose dark wood for framing and decor shelf options. Now everything blends, looks intentional, and feels much better!

Story #2
In our second apartment, we had a lot of mismatched carpet. Our living room featured a "lovely" blue-gray 1980's color. I had big plans for our living room to have lots of enlivening reds and golds. I tried to decorate the room accordingly and just became more and more frustrated with the carpet I couldn't change. I finally decided to switch to a cool blue, green and gold color palette and what do you know? The carpet didn't bother me any more.


M A K E   I T   I N T E N T I O N A L

That's another key word. Once I embraced the blue carpet and decided to include the blue in the color scheme, I wasn't fighting it anymore!


B E   C R E A T I V E

So how do we deal with those really tricky things? Here is the process I use to come up with an idea. Hopefully this will help you, as each place has its own different quirks.

First, I set up a situation in which I can be inspired-- for me I just need to be alone and I need it to be quiet. I sit in front of the spot or in the room that has the problem. I study this spot (often times this includes reminding myself of the reasons I don't like it).

After a period of study, I ask myself, "What am I fighting against? Color? Texture? Age? Awkwardness?"

I then try to think if there is a way to FIX it (or cover it up) that makes sense. If there is, I try that solution first. Sometimes that is all that is needed, but other times you may still want to move on to the next step.

If there isn't a possibility for a fix (for example, if something is unchangeable--like carpet color), I move on and think, "How can I EMBRACE this?"  and "What can I add to other parts of the room to make it seem like this is intentional?"


R E P E A T

So how to EMBRACE the thing you don't like? How to make it seem INTENTIONAL? REPETITION. What?! Repeat the color/texture/size/look of the that very thing through out the room.

It's choosing picture frames and shelving that match the trim.
It's adding blue to the color scheme.

Simply adding multiple things that match the problem (but in modern, updated, tasteful ways of course), makes it seem like you totally meant to have the groovy textured 70's carpet. It automatically blends and eases the eye as it moves around the room.

Repetition is important when decorating any room. For example, if you really like bright and light-colored spaces, sticking a black TV against a wall is definitely not going to blend. You may need to go against your initial desire for white and light, and implement darker bookshelves and/or accessories to help the eye move around the room more smoothly.

 

P R A C T I C A L   T I P S

  • Wall paint color that you can't change? Go with it. Look up color schemes that include the wall color and choose a few favorites. See if you can accessorize or add wall art that will make it better.
  • Awkward column? Add some artwork, photos, a sconce or maybe even a flag! Attach shelves to make a floor to ceiling bookshelf. If you're handy, you could add DIY seating around the bottom. If the column is in a small space, highlighting the column might make the space feel too busy. Maybe keeping it simple and trying to make it blend is the best option.
  • 70's carpet? Play the game I played with the blue-grey, but also, layer rugs! An extra large jute rug on the bottom with a happy rug on top will add more texture. The jute will help tone down the brown/orange. This also works with worn-out carpet.
  • Washer and dryer in kitchen? Aside from keeping the laundry baskets out of the kitchen, you could add a door or curtain to cover the area. You could add more industrial accessories to make it seem more intentional. Examples include a metal back splash that matches the washer/dryer, or a metal cornice box above the window. 

F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

Hopefully this has helped you think about ways you can make things work. If you have any specific questions about a particular problem you're facing, please email me-- brightappleblossom@gmail.com. I love a good challenging brainstorm.

Good luck!

-Rachel

decorating

Home Living Rental Series #3 Furniture

9:00:00 AM

renting, furniture tips, furniture dimensions, home living, rental

T A K E   A   S E A T

Furniture tips that will work for your space.


Choosing furniture can be quite a challenge, especially when you're renting. Most rentals have small scale rooms and are not very open-concept. This means that you can't just go into a store and pick out what you like. You've got to be intentional!


5  F U R N I T U R E
F A C T O R S
T O   C O N S I D E R

  • comfort
  • style
  • quality
  • price
  • size
Comfort can vary between pieces, style varies between people. It's always good to go for the best quality you can--particle board does not move well. Price is an obvious consideration, and size...we'll get into that later.


S H O P P I N G   P R E P

Once you've narrowed down your picks (comfort, style, quality, price), size is the next thing to look at. AAAND it can be a deal breaker. If furniture is too big, it will completely overpower a room!

I have found that most warehouse furniture stores are full of furniture that is just plain too big! I can't understand why oversized is such a big deal in those stores. There are plenty of people that need smaller scale furniture to fit in their space.

Another thing to remember about places that sell furniture is that they have really high ceilings and large spaces. This makes all the furniture seem smaller, so it tricks you into thinking it will fit in your space. Beware!

It's best to go shopping with a plan. You can play with different apps that help you arrange furniture virtually, or use the old pencil and grid paper to see what would work best. Then you can decide on the size that would work best for your space.


W H E R E   T O
S H O P  

( O N   A   B U D G E T )

Since I don't have an endless budget for furniture and I was taught to thrift growing up, that is what I usually do in the furniture department. I'm not going to say this is the easiest or fastest route, because it's not. It does, however get me small scale furniture, in a style I like that is usually solid wood.

Check out classifieds, thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores for what you need. I keep a running list of things I need so when I drop into one of these places, I remember what I'm looking for.

I will say that IKEA is probably the next most common place I shop--scale, price and style fit well. However, most pieces have only made it through about 2 moves.

I have bought furniture at warehouse furniture and discount stores, but I've been careful and strategic. You can find things like nicer folding chairs and tables, good mattresses, metal shelves, occasional chairs, and even couches. 


H O W   B I G   I S   T O O   B I G ?

So, as you start your search, here are some dimensions that can help you know if the scale is small enough for a small space. Be aware that the depth measurement is important as it is usually the sneakiest stealer of space.
Measurements should be no bigger than:
  • Couch: 37"h x 90"w x 37"d
    • Follow similar measurements if opting for a sectional
  • Loveseat: 37"h x 60"w x 37"d
  • Occasional/Accent Chair: 40"h x 30"w x 30"d
  • Kitchen Chair: 40"h x 22"w x 20"d
  • Round Kitchen Table: 50"w
  • Rectangular Kitchen Table: 40"w x 65"l
  • Tall Dresser: 45"h x 32"w x 22"d
  • Long Dresser: 34"h x 60"w x 22"d
  • Desk: 30"h x 50"w x 26"d
  • Bookshelves: 40"h x 50"w x 20"d
    • I strongly recommend NOT using tall bookshelves. They easily tip over and anchoring them into the wall is often not an option.
    • Multiple small bookshelves of the same size can be very useful and fit well in different set ups.
  • Coffee tables, nightstands and ottomans are all fairly small scale. Just look for a light look rather than heavy and legs showing is always good.
  • Bed frames are fairly standard, but going for a lighter look rather than heavy/bulky is best.
    *This list of furniture is not meant to suggest that each piece is needed. For example a sofa and loveseat and a coffee table in a small room will feel like furniture is taking over. Opting for two of the three or using an accent chair or two instead of a loveseat would be better.


    U N E X P E C T E D
    E S S E N T I A L S

    There are a few furniture items that I never thought I could use. They didn't fit my style and I don't like extra stuff. We have kept them every time we move and somehow, ALWAYS find a use for them. What could these magical multi-use items be? Ultra simple small-scale bar stools and wooden TV trays! Ha, We've used them for night stands, makeshift tables, side tables, hobby tables, lamp stands, actual bar stools... . I've really been surprised that we use them so much!


    F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

    So, look around your place--determine if there are any furniture pieces that you kind of wish you wouldn't have bought. It may not be comfy enough or could be pretty beat up. Try to look around with a fresh perspective to see if any piece of furniture is completely overpowering the room. While you're at it, see if the style of your furniture is in line with what your style actually is.

    Prioritize your list and start searching! It will lead to a more comfortable space that you love to be in. Oh, and be patient. It may take years to find everything you want...and that's okay.

    Good luck!

    -Rachel

    decorating

    Home Living: Rental Series #2 Organizing

    9:00:00 AM


    E V E R Y T H I N G
    I N   I T S   P L A C E .

    Storage can feel like a never ending challenge--especially when your storage spaces are changing fairly often.

    Over the last few years, a book called "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" has been very popular. It is an inspiring book, though admittedly, I have not implemented it entirely and I've found it hard to keep up with kids!

    First off, I'll share one very important quote from the book:

    "Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard the rest." --Marie Kondo

    This is such an important first step--you never want to organize what you can declutter. Makes sense, right?

    Marie Kondo shared one more thing that has really helped me: Her tip is to make a "home" for every item. Otherwise, any extras will build up as clutter. If we make an intentional "home" for every item, then we know exactly where to put every item.

    So, let's create some "homes" for our stuff!


    S T O R A G E

    I have found that the following organization tools consistently work for me. I've organized it room by room, but some things are interchangeable.

    L I V I N G   R O O M
    • A bookshelf with baskets holds DVDs, books, and toys.
    • Hooks near the front door can be installed for coats, jackets and scarves.
    • Hooks and shelves can be put inside closet for bags/purses/etc.
    • A storage ottoman can hold toys, blankets, DVDS or books.
    K I T C H E N
    • Sturdy wire organizers store cookie sheets, frying pans, and lids vertically for more room inside cupboards.
    • Small hooks can hold pots and pans.
    • Wire cabinet shelves can provide areas for more dishes.
    • Book ends hold recipe books upright.
    • I use drawer organizers sparingly, but roomy organizers work well for silverware and cooking utensils.
    B A T H
    • A shower supplies organizer will hold your showering supplies. I like the plastic kind because they don't rust, and they force me to be minimal in my soaps, shampoo, razors, etc.
    • Over the door towel rack is essential when many people are sharing a bathroom.
    • Over the cupboard door wire baskets work perfectly for holding curling irons and hairspray.
    O F F I C E
    ( O F F I C E   A R E A )
    • A vertical file rack is essential to keep "need-to-take-care-of items" from piling up.
    • Plastic file bins for essential papers. (If you read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," she will tell you to get rid of almost all your papers. I can tell you. THIS idea was life changing for me!)
    • Shoe box bins placed in a bookshelf work well for craft/electronic/hobby supplies.
    B E D R O O M
    • Plastic storage bins are great for holding out-of-season clothing.
    • Under the bed storage bins can hold anything from picture frames/decor to gift wrap.
    • Nightstands with drawers are VERY helpful in holding and hiding many things.
    *Note--putting beds on risers or finding beds with high mattresses (no box spring, just a wire grid rack for the mattress to lie on) gives you much more storage room.

    *Note--right now, dressers seem pretty luxurious to me. We have gone through a few, but our budget has not allowed for good sturdy dressers that don't break when moving.
    Also, dressers can be quite large, so it can be hard to fit into new spaces.

    In a later course, I will talk about dimensions of the few dressers we have kept that have worked for us.


    C L O S E T S

    I've found it very important to make as much use from closets as I possibly can. This is prime storage space! Plus, it has a door to cover everything.

    If your closets are dark or deep, put a motion-sensing light inside so you can find your stuff.

    Great organizing tools for your closets:
    • Shoebox bins can hold anything from extra vacuum supplies, games and medicines.
    • Uniform boxes, bins or baskets work great for high closet storage.
    • Hooks installed INSIDE a closet for jackets, belts, and bags can really keep an area looking cleaner.
    • Extra shelves can installed in underused spaces (like the narrow area that's beyond the closet door).
    • Dressers (yes, we like to keep a smaller scale dresser INSIDE our closet) in closets can keep things contained well. Also the dresser doesn't take up space in the bedroom.
    • Shoe shelves can be used on floor, on dresser or on an upper shelf. We consider these a little bit on the disposable side.


    F I N A L  T H O U G H T S

    I'll be the first to admit that organizing is not my forte. I have a really hard time using the left side of my brain (haha). I will say that these solutions have proved to be the most consistent and moveable solutions that have stuck. My goal in organizing is to keep things simple and easy to use. I really focus on reducing my stuff so that there is less to organize.

    Happy Organizing!

    -Rachel

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