Weekend Reading

By Kate Riley March 18, 2017

Hello! This evening I’m so wiped out, I spent yesterday celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as any self respecting Irish girl does! I had a really great time with a group of good friends. Today I took a four hour self defense course, oh man was that intense, but in a good way. It’s the second course I’ve taken in the past year and I cannot recommend them enough, I always leave those classes with knowledge and tactics that I know will help keep me safe in a bad situation. Take one in your town ladies, you’ll be so glad you did!

Tomorrow I’m headed out of town for a few days to spend some time with my older brother who is remodeling his kitchen for resale, he needs my help picking out finishes so I’m taking a short road trip and giving him some ideas. Hope you all had a great St. Patrick’s Day too!

Favorite links from the week below:


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Simple decor swaps to refresh your home for spring.

This is such a pretty kitchen backsplash.

The miracle of paint! It dramatically transformed this kitchen.

The many benefits of having good mom friends.

This is true when you don’t follow the crowd with your choices.

Spending money on experiences can make you more grateful.

12 books on minimalism & simplicity.

Ha ha so good, how to be a minimalist.

P.S. Thanks so much for sharing your insight in the comments on my last post, there are some really wise tips there! I’ll be back in town and back to work Tuesday, see you then!



Renovation Mistakes & Design Nevers

By Kate Riley March 15, 2017

The most recent update on the flip house revealed our flooring installer cut the edge of the flooring in the master bathroom too short. I had plans for a floating vanity, and he assumed we were installing a cabinet base, so the vinyl planks were trimmed to where he assumed the vanity base would sit. I didn’t make it crystal clear to my installer that the flooring was to go all the way to the wall which means I have to have him come back and redo the flooring.

These things happen with any renovation. There was also that time I had a contractor remove a soffit for cosmetic reasons only to discover it was there to cover necessary pipes and I had to pay to have it built again. Oops!

Every space remodel teaches me something new. I have yet to experience a perfectly smooth renovation where expectations are met from start to finish. Some of the lessons I’ve learned over time? Budgets are key, but often I go over the budget with unexpected expenses (ahem, that tile I simply must have) so with that expectation I add an “extra expenses” column to anticipate it. Remodels never ever finish on time so I relax, breathe deeply, and expect that when I’m given a date it most certainly won’t be done by then.

Last year I came across a great article on Houzz called “design nevers” with tips from readers sharing their personal renovation and decorating experiences. For any of us who have lived through a remodel, we have stories to tell, some of them headaches or mistakes, some are success stories.

Some of the tips I agree with in the article: “Never ever do something because it is a trend. Do it because you love it”. Yes to that! Wood beaded chandeliers and ikat fabric? Yep, still loving both in this breakfast nook.

Another good one: “Never ever sign a contract/agreement without reading it. Read the whole agreement — each and every clause. Understand what you are reading/signing. If you don’t, ask someone. Make sure everything you were promised verbally appears in writing.” I’ve been burned on this before, so these are wise words.

Some of the tips in the article I don’t agree with. “Never paint a bedroom until you’ve picked out the bedding”. Not necessarily. If you’re painting a bedroom (or any room) a soft neutral with muted undertones you should be fine most of the time, and you can layer later with the fabrics you choose (like in this shelter family room.) However if you’re opting for a bold hue on the walls, then the textiles in the space should be considered.


Another tip I don’t agree with? “Never put the kitchen sink in a corner.” On the contrary, a corner sink can totally work, especially one that sits underneath windows; my brother’s kitchen remodel is the perfect example of that.


Never leave subcontractors alone on a renovation. Try to be there 24/7.”  Not always true and often impractical. Yes, I’ve heard horror stories from friends about how subs have gotten things way wrong, so yes constant communication is soooooo very important but I think breathing down their neck 24/7 is a not necessary. Give clear instructions, let them get started on the work, have them send you photos of the progress, and check in every few hours or at the end of the day.

I love being a part of the conversation in the design and home improvement community. As much as I await the glorious final reveal of a space, some of my favorite posts or comments are always the lessons learned. Perhaps you have some insight to share or a story to tell?

What’s one decorating or renovation lesson you’ve learned on your home improvement journey? If you’ve written about it, feel free to share the link!