Thursday, October 29, 2015

One Room Challenge: Confession Time

I wish my office was looking as pretty, neat and stylish as the
Christopher Peacock showroom at the Boston Design Center.

My One Room Challenge to-do list (week 4)

1. Completely empty office.

I may need to get a storage pod just to relocate all the stuff I am trying to sort through. I am not sure I can get through it one category at a time with any amount of joy at this point (sorry, Marie Kondo!) I am basically feeling pretty overwhelmed by my surroundings, and I have not made much progress since I have been working on other projects that I actually get paid to do, and the rest of the time has been procrastinated away by scrolling through facebook or playing with my new bunny or going out to eat with friends or taking care of my family (not necessarily in that order). 

2. Paint walls, touch up trim and ceiling.

I am not a huge fan of painting, in fact I dread getting started, but if I can empty the room, I will take on this part of the project myself. Once I get in painting-mode it will be fun, right? A fresh coat of paint is the quickest way to transform a room, unless of course you have to declutter the room to paint it.

3. Style the space.

Of course this is my favorite part of any design undertaking, but to get to this point I am going to have to move mountains. And probably reduce my time spent on social media for at least a few days. Already feeling withdrawals.

Can I do it? I am not feeling very confident. I really wish I had a personal assistant. Or a fairy godmother. Or both.

How is everyone else doing with their One Room Challenge? Check out their progress here. And here. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: R+F and buildOn

Time to interrupt the tidying up of my home office for the Calling It Home #OneRoomChallenge to share what’s new with Rodan + Fields. One of the reasons why I love this company is because they focus on providing solutions, opportunity, and hope. First, they have created amazing products that actually work, solving sensitive skincare challenges, and as a result providing daily confidence to those who have transformed their complexions. Second, they are super smart as a company, distributing these products through an easily duplicatable social-media driven business model that empowers their Independent Consultants to easily earn their way to financial freedom on their own time, at their own convenience. And if all that were not enough, they have also made it their mission through their Prescription For Change Foundation to support a very important organization, buildOn, that empowers urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service. There is actually a new buildOn chapter located right in Boston. What they do for kids and communities is really amazing. Transforming. Life changing. They are a movement, not a charity, and I am proud to be a part of a company that supports their efforts.

On November 6th, for every make-up free selfie posted on social media tagged with #RFGoNaked, Rodan + Fields will donate $4 to provide one buildOn program day for students in need. Consider posting a make-up free selfie on November 6th. A selfie for a good cause is a beautiful thing! 

Founder and CEO of buildOn
Jim Ziolkowski author of “Walk in Their Shoes:
Can One Person Change the World?”

“The buildOn movement is made up of passionate people from all walks of life who are committed to the belief that service and education can end poverty in our world. With your support we are breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service learning programs in many of America’s most under-resourced high schools and by building schools in some of the world’s poorest villages.

“buildOn’s service learning programs engage students in challenging urban areas and show them the limitless power they can achieve through community action. In each of these programs, youth contribute intensive local service – helping the homeless, seniors and children in their communities – to confront urban struggles with passion and optimism.”  {Learn more about buildOn here}


Thursday, October 22, 2015

One Room Challenge: Colors + Fabrics

Choosing fabrics and colors for my #OneRoomChallenge office makeover has been pretty simple (although clearing the clutter to empty the space has proved to be far more difficult – I am so very behind in this part of the process!)

Once the space has been cleaned out and freshly painted (see the Sherwin Williams paint swatches that I am considering below) I will be incorporating a set of drapery panels made out of the vintage fabric pictured above into my room, most likely to frame an open closet from which I had previously removed the sliding doors. I am still using the closet to hang my dress clothes, but I would love to make this area work as a place to organize all the bits and pieces of my creative life. The panels are from a design show space that I put together back in 2010. I have been saving them ever since, and they truly bring me joy when I see them (but I am not feeling so happy seeing them folded up and not in use!) I will have to add some fabric to the overall length, however, since they are a little short for where I want to hang them. I am thinking a band of solid color on the bottom will do the trick. 

One of the first steps in “tidying-up” according to the KonMari method, is to pick up each item in your home and either keep it because it brings joy or thank it for its service and then get rid of it. I have managed to remove a bunch of stuff from my office (thank you very much), but I am not doing so well at getting it out of the house. I seriously have issues with letting go. But what can you do if many of your personal belongings are of sentimental value? Just take a look at the design show space that I called a Designers Before + After – where the vintage fabric drapes originated – and you will see actual memorabilia from my childhood used to style the room. I still have ALL of it. Some of it may resurface in my new office.

Colors I am considering ...

Inspiration photo from Nancy Meyers Instagram feed
showing the set design for The Intern

Pinboard from my space designed for the

End note: In case you were wondering if I won the trip to Paris via the Legrand Best Before + After Contest, I sadly did not. But I am still loving my new bathroom and oh so fabulous switches!

My apologies for such a short update, but I obviously still have a lot of work to do over here! Follow the other One Room Challenge participants by visiting the Calling it Home blog. Some of them have been getting it done!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Office Makeover Inspired by ‘The Intern’ #OneRoomChallenge

image via The Intern Movie on Pinterest

Have you seen ‘The Intern’ yet? Well I saw it over the weekend and now the set design from the movie is officially my inspiration for my #OneRoomChallenge office makeover! Director Nancy Meyers (of Its Complicated and Somethings Gotta Give’ fame) hit another interiors home run with the set decor of this movie. The interiors were very Pinterest-inspired and the movie spoke to the changing of the guard when it comes to the way we work today and who is running the show.

As a working mom to four middle-to-high school age sons – and being of an age in between that of the main characters – I still felt that I could easily relate to the aspirations of both: Anne Hathaway as the young mom/internet start-up success story trying to find balance in her work and personal life, and Robert De Niro, a recently retired senior looking to fill his post career days with meaningful work and joy. I have always been intrigued with these types of stories. How do we do what we love, provide for our families, and still find balance in our days? The main character played by Hathaway, Jules Ostin, has to deal with managing a successful boss-babe empire on top of figuring out the whole can we have it all thing. It is definitely worth seeing how everything turns out for her and her loves while this beautifully decorated film is on the big screen!

Below is a photo of the loft space of her internet-based fashion business, About the Fit ... 

Houzz article by Anne Colby // photo credit Francois Duhamel
‘The Intern’: Nancy Meyers on Bringing Movie Interiors to Life

What I really liked about the companys office interior was the modern design paired with classic styling, intentionally set with open spaces for collaboration and multi-tasking. The super large work surfaces are my favorite part. In fact, I have a table pretty big in size (3' x 8') in my current office. In all honesty, it is probably a bit overscaled for the room size, but when I saw how good a large desk looked in the movie, I have decided to keep it in my room makeover. It is a great work surface to have and I have always intended to keep part of it cleared off for impromptu design projects. But since I got it a couple years ago, it has becoming somewhat of a flat filing system much like the desk of Jules Ostins executive assistant in the movie ...

What my desk looks like (maybe a little worse!)

How I would like it to look:
Fresh flowers. Seating for guests. Organized.
Clean. Room to be creative.

The floor plan above shows what my office layout will look like and how it will be all about The Desk! What I have altered from my current layout is the editing out of many storage boxes filled with clutter, along with a large double wide children’s dresser that is currently on the largest wall. We bought the dresser for my boys when they were little, and years later it is not in the best shape anymore. Drawers are off the tracks, the paint is chipped, there are stickers on it. It kind of just ended up in this room, and I do not love it anymore.

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to get motivated for this One Room Challenge, I have learned that to live well we must let go of what no longer serves us or provides joy. Every time I enter the room and look at the dresser – which is now piled high with papers and objects that need to be sorted – I feel completely overwhelmed. I want the clutter to be gone and the wall to be clear of furniture so that I can use it as a pinboard-type area for inspirational images. 

Back in 2011, when I was trying to get my creative career back on track after staying home with my kids, I started an online design magazine, New England Finery. Back then, this wall was where I sorted out my stories. The space was energizing! I had a vision and could see it come to life right in front of my eyes. 

New England Finery photo by Elizabeth Wertz

I really enjoyed that creative period in my life despite the fact that I was struggling with the ups and downs of raising a family at the time. Designing the magazine while curating editorial content was completely engaging, and I met a lot of creative people along the way. It combined my graphic design training, my passion for interior design, and my love of technological innovation all in one place. I could hardly call it work.

Unfortunately, this self-created position didnt exactly pay the bills, so I ended up shelving the magazine for a full-time job at a local luxury showroom that needed a marketing director. Since then I have taken on other full-time jobs (furniture sales, large format printing sales) always searching for the perfect combination of creative challenges and work-life balance. I finally decided that being a freelance creative director (define as you wish!) with multiple sources of income and opportunity is where I want to be. My plan is for my new office to support me in following this path.

A few items that may end up in my home office makeover

A friend and teammate from my new position as brand ambassador for the skincare company Rodan + Fields, posted the image below on my Facebook page recently. Seeing it in my photo stream made me realize that my home office was not looking as fabulous as a successful entrepreneurs place of business could look today. Seeing that photo motivated me to take on this One Room Challenge. Stay tuned for next weeks post that will detail my selected colors, fabrics, and lighting. Check out this weeks updates from the other Calling it Home ORC participants here. Hopefully I will be Instagramming my decluttering progress shots soon! #justdoit 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bath “Before + After” and a Trip to Paris!

AFTER: a new modern bath with clean lines

BEFORE: original fixtures and a vintage feel

Awhile back I promised to share one of my recent home renovation projects. Finally the time has come! As most of us know or have experienced first-hand, bathrooms are often the last room of a house to be renovated. They are expensive, even the small ones, and usually a new homeowner can deal with what is there while investing in updating the more public living spaces. That is how our story goes anyway.

I actually chose the subtle damask-style wallpaper above to replace a bright orange floral print that was on the walls when we first moved in to our 1904 farmhouse. We were okay with the overall look for awhile, but the fixtures really did not serve us well. The dated corner toilet used far too much water and the wall mount sink was pretty nondescript with an exposed trap and no storage underneath. At least the fixtures were white and we could live comfortably with them for as long as we did (about 10 years).

This first floor bathroom actually started out pretty large, with a washer and dryer at one end opposite a stall shower which unfortunately my young-at-the-time kids would often get stuck in (the folding door was hard to operate). The worst part about the bath by far was that the door opened directly into our tiny kitchen, two feet away from the island. And to add to the inconvenience, we had to walk through the kitchen multiple times a day to transport clothes to do the many loads of laundry a family of six has to manage. It was just not working.

The first change we made was to relocate the laundry to one of the smaller bedrooms upstairs. Best decision ever! Next, we reoriented the door of the reconfigured bath so that it would open up into a new mudroom we created by stealing square footage from our exterior farmers porch. So much better! Below is the new and improved layout.

custom vanity: Benjamin Moore Galveston Gray
matte black faucet, knobs and towel bar from
the Jason Wu Collection for Brizo
Afina Illume LED back lit mirror

Most of our projects take quite awhile to complete since we are doing the majority of the work ourselves on our off hours. My husband is a licensed contractor, so he was able to build out the room and handle all of the plumbing (so nice when we can work together on our projects!) Then we brought in some experts to lay tile and build a custom cabinet, which we had professionally sprayed with a Sherwin Williams version of a Benjamin Moore paint color (note: Sherwin Williams formulas seem to work better for spray applications). One of my favorite colors that I had in the master bedroom of our last house, Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue, was used on the walls. Classic ivory subway tiles suit the no-fuss style of our American Foursquare home, while the backlit mirror with LED lights adds a modern touch. Dated fixtures were replaced with water sense models and smart-touch technology.

Jason Wu for Brizo Hydrati
2-in-1 Showerhead with
handheld shower and
H2O Kinetic Technology 

Toto Connelly 2-piece WaterSense Toilet
{best part: no exposed trap on sides!!!} 
subway and floor tile: Galleria Stone + Tile

wall color: Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue

artwork I am considering:

(I love that there is just a touch of pink in this for me!)

simple shower curtain from Target

hammered nickel sink from Native Trails
honed black granite counter on custom cabinet
towels from the Turkish Towel Company

where it all began: Old York 24th Annual
Decorator Show House 2013 (read about it here)

Did I mention that almost all of our fixtures were from one of my design show house projects? When you invest in participating in a show house, the key is to choose pieces that you would like to live with yourself, since often times those pieces end up in your design inventory afterwards. In the Petite Powder Room above, I was able to keep the counter top, sink, faucet and matching accessories. And now I get to enjoy them in my own home! #worththewait

sensor switch and outlet from
the Legrand Adorne Collection

Our whole family loves this new home improvement. We really needed it! And just as we were finishing up, I was offered free switch upgrades from the Adorne Collection from Legrand. The timing was perfect!

Legrand Before + After
Facebook contest

We had originally put in some basic switches that were not the right color (they should have been light almond, but no worries now!) I visited the Legrand website and was able to choose energy efficient sensor light/fan switches and sleek looking outlets that all fit seamlessly in a gloss white plate design. These details make a designer difference! Along with receiving the switches, my before and after photos were entered into a contest they were running. I actually qualified as one of the top ten projects they selected to be voted on to possibly win a grand prize trip for two to visit their Paris headquarters! Crazy, right? Of course, now all my boys wish they had taken French like I asked them to – only one of them listened to me : ) To be honest, I am just happy that our project got noticed! We worked hard on this little bath, and had to endure one bathroom to accommodate six people for years before finishing this up. So believe me I feel blessed already. Even so, a trip to Paris would be amazing (have never been and I did study French for years!) Although I would be equally happy with a family trip for six to Canada at this point, I would still appreciate it if you could take the time to vote on the Legrand facebook page before the contest ends on October 16th (vote under the Best Before & After tab). They are even giving out Adorne Connectivity Prize Packs to 5 lucky voters who choose their favorite transformation. While I wait for the results, this is my second option for wall art ...

via Minted

In the meantime, be sure to come back soon (or follow my Instagram feed) for updates on my entry in the bloggers One Room Challenge link up event. All this week I will be busy clearing the clutter in my office and hopefully finding a home for more design show inventory. The prize for this new challenge? A sense of accomplishment (tackling my junk room space is seriously daunting!) with the end result being a comfortable, visually stress-free room in which to be creative and more productive. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One Room Challenge + The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Ok, I am going to make this brief. I have many rooms in my home that are challenging. Years have passed, and life has piled up, and motivation has dwindled. But I am ready to make a change. Now that I am working from home full-time again, I need to clear some debris from past projects, positions, and bouts of creativity. The photo below is of my home office, taken almost 5 years ago superimposed over a ghosted image of my office today. I can’t even post a picture of what it looks like right now ... it is that bad!

My dirty secret ...

Clutter has taken over every surface in my existing office. Am I a certified hoarder or am I just lazy? Have I given up or am I just too busy looking for instagram worthy moments outside of my four walls to pay much attention to what is right in front of me? Or is it that I am just too micro-focused on creating that I neglect to manage the chaos that ensues from being overly involved in multiple projects? Constantly living in a state of construction while running a household of six certainly doesn’t help, but others manage to make it work – and do so in elegant surroundings – so I really do not have an excuse. But now I do have a deadline, so I am hoping that will help!

My goal in entering the six-week One Room Challenge blogger link-up event hosted by Calling it Home is to hold myself accountable. To put my designer challenge out there into the blogger universe, and to work towards creating a designer worthy space that I am not embarrassed to share with others (including my boys who come in to chat, but seriously have no where to sit!)

How I am going to get it done ...

Have you read the best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo? I now have it downloaded onto my kindle, and the plan is to use it as a road map to finding my way back to my former uber-organized self. 

Six weeks from now, I am hoping to be able to post a pretty photo of my newly organized office that is a true reflection of my ability to transform a space into a welcoming environment, one that will assist me to be creative while comfortably celebrating my family and all that is important to me. But first I have to clear the clutter. Stay tuned for next weeks post to see how I do. And be sure to link up to follow the progress of other design bloggers who are tackling far more ambitious projects than my own! It takes serious commitment and resources (whether financial or emotional) to undertake a room makeover. But we are all in this before and after journey together, right?! Good luck to the rest of the One Room Challenge participants and to all of you who decide to muster up the courage to tackle your own projects, whether a complete room makeover or just clearing out a junk drawer!