Framed Wall and Mini Garden Oasis – Entryway

This is my first blog post since the onset of COVID-19. With the current health crisis of our country and the rest of the world, blogging just seemed so insignificant. I work in the lab at a trauma hospital and I’ve definitely been concerned about my own safety and that of my family. I worry about being exposed to the virus and potentially infecting my loved ones. The guilt that I could possibly cause them harm has been overwhelming at times. I’m taking as many precautions as I can. We’re required to wear masks at work, I wash my hands so much that they’ve become dry and cracked, I change out of my scrubs in our garage and of course, we’re practicing social distancing.

If you or anyone you know have tested positive for the coronavirus, I’m truly sorry and it’s my hope you all make full recoveries. We’re continually seeing the devastating effects of this virus so please stay home as much as possible. Practice social distancing and if you have to go out, wear a mask. Also, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use some hand sanitizer. Take care of yourselves and each other. I hope this post provides a much-needed distraction and you find inspiration or motivation to do something you love.

We purchased this mirror over 3 years ago after moving into our new home. Having such a large, eclectic piece in our entryway meant there was no room for additional home decor in the space which I was perfectly fine with. My content with the simplicity of our entryway was challenged when inspiration struck Hubby via Pinterest. The man pins way more than I do which is quite impressive.

He showed me a stunning walkway of rich wood tones, black canvas prints and perfect greenery to complete the space. Did I love the design? Absolutely! Did I think the style would fit well with the rest of our home? Without a doubt! Did I think our entryway was the perfect spot to recreate this project? Uh … not really! I was super concerned that our space wasn’t large enough to do this project justice.

Top Left = SW Agreeable Gray | Top Right = Behr Silky White | Bottom Left = SW Eider White | Bottom Right = SW Westhighland White

Can I ask why white is one of the HARDEST paint colors to settle on? I couldn’t believe how many options were available to choose from and more options = more indecisiveness, am I right?

I knew I wanted either a white or gray accent wall but I quickly realized that was easier said than done. We grabbed a few samples and marinated on them for a few days, taking into consideration the amount of natural light this space receives throughout the day.

I can’t say enough great things about frog tape! It creates the cleanest, straightest lines every time. We haven’t done a paint job without it.

SW Westhighland White for the win! It’s such a pretty, warm white and it looks great against our SW Swiss Coffee doors, trims and baseboards.

Left = Varathane Early American | Middle = Minwax Fruitwood | Right = Minwax Weathered Oak

Our original plan was to stain the lumber some sort of brown for the frame around the accent wall, but after several attempts with a few options, I soon realized I wasn’t loving the look of any of them. I think it was the unpredictability of how the lumber took up the stain that really bothered me. I’m too much of a control freak!

While some sections showed visible stain, others remained unchanged. At that point, I made the decision to have Hubby paint the lumber instead of staining them. A dark, moody wood frame sounded just perfect with none other than my fav SW Iron Ore. At the very last second, however, Hubby found a YouTube video on how to use paint to create a stained look. Uh … mind blown!

We created a 50/50 mix of water and SW Iron Ore paint. Using a cloth, we proceeded to apply the mixture to the lumber as you’d have done if it was a stain. The first coat was too light in color for my taste.

Since we were using diluted paint, it took 3 coats for us to achieve the dark, rich color I was going for. The beauty of this process is you can keep applying coat after coat of your favorite paint color and notice a visible change each time!

I have to admit, I’m such a big fan now of ‘staining’ using paint! I have so much more control over the finished product which makes my type A personality extremely happy. The beautiful wood grain details are also still visible so I’m going to say this is a win all around. Creating a faux mini garden at the base of the frame was definitely a fun idea and all we needed were some white rocks and faux succulents. But why stop there? Hubby loves greenery so we decided to further accessorize the space with white and gold wall planters filled with, you guessed it, more faux greenery. I promise we’ve tried countless times to add real plants to our home, but it’s not fair to the helpless plant babes that we keep killing them. So, realistic faux it is.

Welcome to our newly updated entryway! I’m in love with this project for so many reasons. Our girls, Neah (6) and Kaiyah (1) are the heart of our family and our home. We work as hard as we do to provide the best life possible for them. Their photos at our entryway are a statement and a symbol of how cherished they are! Their photos were originally colored, but I edited them to black and white versions which I found to be more dramatic and eye-catching. These are framed, canvas prints measuring 24” x 36.”I purchased them from Shutterly at 50% off which was a heck of the deal. Well there you have it, one more successfully completed project! Do you have any completed project that holds a special place in your heart?

Aminah Chung

Spring Kitchen Refresh

cup and vase

As I sit to work on this post, it’s a beautifully warm 72°C here in Arizona. My apologies to my friends in the colder regions. I sure hope it warms up for you all very soon! With the weather being so kind to us right now, it seemed the perfect time to give our kitchen a little hardware and decor update! I’m sharing some practical and pretty things to adorn your kitchen countertops.

This post includes affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase using them. Your support by using these links will help with our blog site maintenance, so thank you so much in advance.

This is probably the best view Hubby has ever captured of our kitchen and I’m attributing this to our recent decor addition, particularly our lovely new black cabinet pulls!

When we purchased our home almost 4 years ago, we chose brushed nickel hardware because it was such a popular option back then. I’m now aware that these pulls did nothing to enhance the beauty of our kitchen. The black pulls, however, are the perfect update. Both color and sleek, modern design provide great details and contrast to this space!

So I typically don’t like a lot of kitchen decor or accessories on our countertops. I much rather a clean and simple look. I know, shocker right?! But if some of the items are at least functional then I’m okay compromising.

Ceramic Canisters
Tea Kettle
Live Edge Wood Platter

Hubby is a big tea drinker and so this corner is dedicated to him and his tea supplies. We retired our 3 year old kettle and upgraded to this enamel and steel beauty in a shimmery gray color. I love the added detail of the wooden handle and lid. When not in use, we display our tea kettle on a live edge wooden platter which adds more texture and contrast to the white countertops and cabinets. The modern, ceramic canisters are great for storing tea bags, sugar and/or baking essentials. We kept them unlabeled to maintain their simplicity. The canisters are sold in a set of 2 and we purchased the large (32.80 fl oz) and medium (23.34 fl oz) sizes. As a bonus, if you purchase any set from Amazon and complete a review after receiving your product, the vendor will send you a set of 2 small canisters (6.08 fl oz) for FREE!

Black Ceramic Vase
White Ceramic Vase
Faux Plant
Bamboo Planter

Our kitchen definitely needed a pop of greenery and I really like the vibrancy of this faux plant. It’s definitely giving me all the spring feels. To layer this corner I added both a tall and short vase and completed the look with a 2 tone marble serving board. Be sure to check out our Current Favorite Entryway Finds blog post to see how else I’ve utilized and styled these vases. You’ll notice this corner showcases a combination of varying heights, widths and textures, all of which create a cohesive display.

I simply adore this little corner of our Kitchen! The color and texture combo always puts a smile on my face. I’m so easy to please, right?!

Wood Paddle Board
Marble and Wood Serving Platter
Ceramic Canisters

With so many new canisters, I divided them between both sides of our countertop space. These are great for storing my hot chocolate and cappuccino k-cups! The added wooden board and 2 tone marble and wood serving platter create some much needed dimension.

Round Wood Serving Board
Ceramic White Vase
Faux Plant
Bamboo Planter
Monogram Mugs
Faux Eucalyptus Stem
Live Edge Wood Platter

I’m a sucker for a cute mug and these monogrammed ones are so fun! Not sure what it says about me that I purchased mugs with my own initials (and ignored the rest of my clan), but the colors were too pretty to resist.

Saved the best for last! This tray situation is everything! I use it on our kitchen island and dining table and it works perfectly in both spaces. I styled it using a mixture of practical pieces (sugar jar and coasters) and pretty pieces (vase and sphere). I kept the decor neutral in my attempt to really incorporate more natural tones. I think the faux olive branches offered the right amount of greenery to bring the whole styling together.

Have you all started decorating for spring? Do you usually include your kitchen in your spring refresh? I’d love to know what decor pieces you’re excited to add to your home!

Aminah Chung

Mini Accent Wall – Our FIRST DIY!

Gather ’round boys and girls, today I’m sharing the story of how our first DIY came to be, and it literally only took us a few hours! So picture this, a wonderfully peaceful Saturday afternoon of lazing on the couch with Hubby. I was casually scrolling through Pinterest when this gorgeous photo caught my eye! I was in sheer awe of its simple beauty. The accent wall’s color, shelves and decor all worked together in perfect unity.

I was so inspired by the design and naturally, my wheels started turning. There were so many thoughts running through my mind like, where could we recreate a similar wall and would a dark, moody color fit with the existing aesthetics of our home and how would we mount these floating shelves? My Hubby is quite handy with repairs around our home. He is always willing to learn so I had the utmost confidence that this was a project he could handle, even though we’d never attempted any DIYs before that day. However, knowing he could do this and him actually agreeing to do this project were two completely different things. Being with this man for almost 17 years, he has taught me that there is no harm in asking for the things you want. The worse that could happen is you hear no. Problem is, this gal doesn’t like to be told no, but my desire to tackle this project was much stronger than the uncertainty of this not working in my favor.

I showed Hubby the scroll stopping photo and very nonchalantly commented on how great this little wall feature would look in our home. He studied the photo for a moment and to my disbelief said, “let’s do it.” He didn’t just mean let’s do it sometime in the near future, oh no, he meant let’s do it now! It took me a second for the shock to wear off and then I was in full planning mode. We chose the wall right off of our garage entryway because it was the perfect size and offered some eye candy from our kitchen.

We obviously needed a few supplies, so off to Home Depot and Lowes we went. Home Depot sold the hobby boards we needed for the shelves, while Lowes sold Sherwin Williams paint. Instead of going with a true gray, if there is even such a thing, I wanted something a bit darker and moodier to contrast against our white kitchen. I’d found a few color options on Pinterest but went with my gut on our color choice. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Sherwin Williams Iron Ore!! Choosing this color was pure luck, but it’s a decision I have come to love in so many ways and soon, in so many projects!

Building the shelves were much easier than expected. The hobby boards we purchased were already the ideal length (2′) and depth (4″) for the shelves. Hubby then simply cut 2″ pieces for the front of each shelf that was secured using wood glue. This technique allowed us to not use nails and therefore, avoid the not so fun task of patching holes to hide the nail heads. Since I already loved the natural wood color of the shelves, I chose to emphasize the color by applying a natural wood stain. Mounting the shelves were also pretty easy. We used 2 strut brackets, and of course, I selected the gold option because I wanted the hardware to be apart of the decor.

So, about 3 hours after having this random idea, we had ourselves a beautifully moody accent wall with contrasting natural wood shelves. Not bad for a couple of rookies and just like that, our first DIY project was completed, very successfully I might add. I love having another little corner to decorate and redecorate! Currently, I’m using this accent wall as a photo gallery, but I’m excited to mix things up in the future!

I think once we broke the ice and tackled our first DIY, the idea just didn’t seem so intimating anymore. Since then, we’ve completed vertical shiplap installation in a nook space and created a modern color block wall. One of the goals of this blog is to create and share simple DIYs in our home. We truly hope you find inspiration in this little wall feature and in our other completed projects. Tell me, have you ever done a DIY project? What was your first?

Aminah Chung

Étagère Bookcase Styling – Office Space

“Your home should tell the story of who YOU are and be a collection of what you LOVE.”

– Nate Berkus (Interior designer)

I found this quote on Pinterest and it resonated with me, so much so that I wanted to share it. Interior decorating is a form of art, and like art, it’s subjective. There is no right or wrong way to decorate a space. Whether you choose decor items out of love, inspiration or for their sentimental value, regardless of the reason, own it and embrace it. I choose to follow my own instincts, while loosely incorporating any applicable decor guidelines, and I hope you do too!

This post contains affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase using them. I would truly appreciate your support by using the links as this helps with the blog site maintenance.

I consider myself to be a pretty simple gal and if you’re anything like me, you had no clue what an étagère was until this blog post, am I right? During my hunt for an open bookcase for Hubby’s office, I landed on Kat’s Instagram account where she was showcasing a beautifully decorated bookcase. It was while trying to source similar bookcases that the word, étagère, popped up. Unlike traditional bookcases that were crafted to store heavier books and items, an étagère refers to a set of open shelves that are used for lighter storage and display. Its design allows for a space to maintain its open concept. Now that you’ve read my version of the definition, I’m sure it sounds like most decorative bookcases you’ve seen, and you’re right! You likely already own one too! You can always throw the word around if you ever want to sound a bit fancier! In this blog post, I’ll be taking you through my process for styling our étagère bookcase.

Step 1 – Blank Slate

Whenever I’m about to restyle a shelf or bookcase, I find it extremely helpful to remove all existing decor before starting. Having a blank slate removes distractions that could otherwise sabotage or hinder the new, restyled look you are trying to achieve. It simply allows for a smoother process.

step 2 – gather your decorative items

Having all my shelf decor gathered in one spot allows me to work seamlessly without having to stop for a scavenger hunt for any of my items. I’m also able to better assess whether or not all the individual pieces will create a cohesive look. While I consistently stay true to steps 1 and 2, the rest of my process usually varies depending on the particular shelves or bookcase I’m styling. I’m also keen on adding various heights, widths and textures to create more character and depth.

step 3 – greenery

Throughout this process of setting up Hubby’s office, I needed to remind myself many times that this was mainly HIS space! As such, it was important to me that he felt comfortable in this room. I wanted the choices I made to reflect his style. That being said, the man loves GREENERY and so I tried to incorporate as many as tastefully possible, without looking like a scene from Jumanji. Essentially the plants were the main course, while all other decor items were the side dishes. You’ll also notice I chose different textures for the vases and planters, i.e. ceramic, bamboo and glass. And if you’re wondering, yes these are all faux plants, even that tall beauty in the corner. We’ve tried the real plant route but sadly, neither one of us acquired a green thumb. I’ll happily settle for some pretty REAListic faux plants!

step 4 – metallics

Metallic decor is a great way to add more contrast to your shelf styling. I included gold and silver pieces with open designs to maintain a minimal look while keeping the focus on the bookcase. They also lend a masculine touch to the space.

step 5 – white decor

I bought this bookcase for its gorgeous brown color which, when contrasted against the black frame structure and details, is simple perfection! That being said, I chose to include a few more white decorative items because they are just so striking against the brown shelves. The composition of the brown, black and white works so well aesthetically, wouldn’t you agree?

step 6 – books

Books are highly recommended in shelf styling. They’re a great way to add both width and height. These are usually my last addition since I typically insert them either as shelf fillers or under smaller decor items to elevate them.

I was very intentional in the decor I selected for this bookcase. Each piece, while beautiful in its own right, served to emphasize the color and details of the bookcase.
I’d love to know your process for styling a shelf or bookcase. Are there any rules you like to follow?

Aminah Chung

Behr Color Block Accent Wall

Do you prepare your own taxes? Last week we finally received all our documentation to begin the process. I’ve been preparing our taxes for many years now and it’s money well saved! No, I’m not an accountant on the side, well maybe our family accountant. The Hubby has nicknamed me BOA (Bank of Aminah) which I’m choosing to regard as endearing. It was a daunting and overwhelming task initially but I’ve gained much confidence throughout the years. Besides, with Turbo Tax, the process has been streamlined and simplified. The software walks you through everything, step by step, reducing the intimidation factor. I do want to add that our taxes are pretty simple. If ever the complexity of your circumstances changes, then I would definitely be seeking the advice and expertise of a professional. So, if you already prepare your own taxes, good for you! If you’re thinking about it but you’re still anxious or concerned, then I suggest you have your usual accountant prepare your taxes, but go ahead and also try it on your own using the Turbo Tax software and compare the results. This is how I first started and once I saw that I achieved the same values, then I felt better about handling our taxes on my own. The Turbo Tax software is currently on sale on Amazon! Another great incentive to take the leap!

This post includes affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase using them. I would truly appreciate your support by using the links as this helps with the blog site maintenance.

When it comes to interior design, is a space ever truly complete? As creative souls, when new inspiration strikes, we tend to act upon it. Take this white wall in my Hubby’s office for instance. Initially, I loved the overall clean, crisp feel we’d achieved, but the more I looked at it, the more I strongly felt something was missing. We needed more color in the space but I didn’t just want another fully painted accent wall. I wanted something a bit more artistic and interesting. That’s when I took to Pinterest and came across this color block vinyl sticker, however, I didn’t necessarily want to pay $95 for this wall art sticker. I figured we could create our own painted version, using our own design, and likely spend much less in the process. I’m elated to report that the finished accent wall achieved everything I hoped it would with a final cost of only $20!

Although not shown here, our FIRST step prior to taping and painting, was to draw out the design on the wall. We were then able to better visualize the blocks including each size, placement and painting order. I highly recommend a large, lightweight ruler, a level and frog tape! We couldn’t create perfect, leveled lines without these products! In order to maximize the number of blocks we could paint in each session, we began with the black, corner block (Behr Dark Secret). We applied 2 coats, allowing each coat to dry in between, followed by some more waiting before we could safely remove the tape and reapply it on the painted black block (say that 3 times fast!).

We were then able to tape off and paint 2 more sections/blocks. The color on the top is Behr Silverstone while the one on the bottom is Behr Imperial Gray. Both colors provided the right balance of contrast and warmth.

The 4th color to the far right is Behr Drizzle and added the perfect cool tone against the warmer gray colors. Lastly, we were able to paint the 5th color, Behr Moroccan Spice, which added a warm pop of brown to complete the look.

Can I just say that I love it when a plan falls into place! I mean who doesn’t?! The Hubby created a digital rendering of the wall design using Adobe Photoshop. We had an idea of the colors we wanted, i.e. black, a few grays and a pop of brown, but did not do any research or testing to specifically determine shades or tones. Since none of the planned blocks were overwhelmingly large, we decided to take the risk and simply choose colors we believed to be complementary and cohesive. This blind leap and the use of sample size paints, allowed us to keep our cost so incredibly low. I think this color block wall art was such a good choice for the Hubby’s office. I was concerned that the pillows and throw would feminize the space but the geometric shapes and paint colors we chose, created the perfect balance!

We managed to maintain the clean, crisp look of the room while also adding more character. I’d love to know what you guys think about our latest accent wall? Is this something you would ever consider for a space in your own home? I know this may be too bold for some, but remember friends, it’s only paint after all and can easily be changed with the stroke of a brush.

Aminah Chung

Pillow Covers Vs. Throw Pillows – Do You Pick A Side?

When we purchased our new build, we set the goal that in one year we’d save enough to renovate the backyard. We had a series of setbacks that year, including being involved in a car accident that totaled our SUV. Luckily no one was seriously injured but we did have to purchase a new car so there went our savings. Fast forward a year later, we decided to finally tackle the backyard by taking out a home equity loan. Since we did not have enough equity in the house, this was essentially a second mortgage at a higher interest rate. Last month I reached out to our mortgage broker and it turns out, based on the current interest rate, we are finally able to refinance our primary mortgage to now include that second mortgage, saving us close to $500/month! Talk about serious savings! In life, there will always be hurdles that change your plans but things have a way of working themselves out. If my story resonates with any of you, I encourage you to talk to a mortgage broker. It’s important to know your options. Moving on to the topic at hand!

Who doesn’t love throw pillows, am I right?! They’re a quick and fun way to transform a space, adding color, contrast, texture, and character. I’ve been curious about this question for some time now and was inspired to write this when I saw the most adorable pillow post from @jr.h0mes. So the question I have is this, are you a pillow cover lover or a throw pillow hoarder? Let me explain, do you prefer to buy pillow inserts and just replace the pillow covers or would you much rather purchase new throw pillows where the insert and cover cannot be separated?

Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock but up until recently, I wasn’t aware that simply purchasing pillow covers was even an option. When I wanted to switch up my pillow color or style, I bought new throw pillows. These, of course, were the ones without zippers, so I’m proudly going to own it and admit that I was once a throw pillow hoarder. I had a pillow closet and I would rotate throw pillows based on the season. However, now that I’m aware of my options, I have to say I’m a huge fan of simply replacing the pillow covers. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a planner, an organizer and a firm believer in lists. That being said, the decision to switch to pillow covers was made after weighing the pros and cons of both options.

This post contains affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase using them. Your support is greatly appreciated as it helps with the blog site maintenance.

Product Link

throw pillows – pros

The best thing about purchasing throw pillows is their availability. On any given day you could drive to your nearest Target, Home Goods or any other home decor store and grab some new pillows. If you’re someone like me who appreciates instant gratification, then this might be the option for you. In addition to being easily accessible, these pillows are also pretty darn affordable. For instance, depending on the specific size, you can purchase a throw pillow from Target for as little as $15. At that price, I wouldn’t be upset if these pillows got ruined by my girls, Hubby or house guests.

Product Link

throw pillows – cons

On the downside, throw pillows can take up a lot of space, hence my previous pillow closet. If your home already doesn’t include adequate storage, then finding places for your extra pillows will require some creativity and resourcefulness. Suddenly your living room couch and bedrooms have an unhealthy amount of throw pillows, or maybe your closets or kitchen cupboards. No judgment on my part because I’ve seen it and I may or may not have done some of these things. Also, a throw pillow without a zipper could pose a challenge if it got dirty. They’re usually not machine washable and you’ll likely have to spot clean and hope that does the trick.

pillow covers – pros

Pillow covers require much less space, making storage easy peasy. Instead of having a pillow closet, I now have a pillow drawer and that’s an amazing feeling. Dirty pillow covers can also be easily removed and spot cleaned or hand washed, making them more salvageable. If they are beyond redemption, they can be traded out for new covers, leaving your pillow inserts unharmed. Pillow covers come in many great styles and fabrics that I haven’t seen available with regular throw pillows. Mud cloth, for example, is an extremely popular pillow cover fabric that offers great texture and cool geometric patterns and designs.

Pillow covers – cons

Purchasing pillow covers can get pricy. The size, fabric and particular brand will definitely affect how much you pay. I’m not the most patient person and unfortunately, I haven’t had much success in finding pillow covers in stores. The ones I’ve seen and loved have all been online. Since pillow covers are not as readily available as throw pillows, instant gratification isn’t as easily achieved. Depending on where you purchase your pillow covers, shipping time will vary and so will the return policy. Switching to pillow covers will also require some initial set up, i.e. pillow inserts which will vary in price depending on the size and pillow filling you prefer.

Putting pen to paper and creating my pros and cons lists for both pillow options has truly allowed me to make the best decision that suits our home and lifestyle. I love the designs and styles available to me with pillow covers. I also love that pillow covers are space-saving and although I have to purchase them online, so far, I’ve only purchased from Amazon which allows me 2-day shipping as a prime member. I also make it a habit to purchase pillow covers in sets, as much as possible, because it usually works out being a better cost value.

I strongly dislike paying full price for things and I’m sure many of you can agree with me on this. That being said, I’m okay waiting for items to go on sale before making a purchase. For example, many of the pillow covers I’ve recently purchased were the Woven Nook brand and it was just my luck that Amazon was offering 15% off all their pillow covers!

If any of you, my friends, are trying to make a decision between throw pillows and pillow covers, then I hope you find value in my little list.

I’d love for you guys to join in on the conversation! Comment below and let me know where you stand, throw pillows or pillow covers? Where are some of your favorite stores or websites to purchase pillows?

Aminah Chung