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.

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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.

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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

Vertical Shiplap For Less Than $150

As I sit to write this blog, my heart is lighter and happier. I spent some time this past weekend sorting through Kaiyah’s old baby clothes. My mother-in-law asked if I had any clothes I’d be willing to donate to a new mom. This was the perfect opportunity to declutter Kaiyah’s closet and be charitable at the same time. It felt liberating to have another organized space in our home. Whether you start with that junk drawer in your kitchen or ambitiously tackle your entire closet, I encourage you all to think about your belongings and purge what you’re no longer using. You could help someone in need along the way.

Now let’s move on to this fun DIY, our FIRST in 2020!

This post does include 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.

Have you ever loved a design feature or wall treatment, but couldn’t figure out how best to incorporate it into your own home? I’ve wanted a shiplap accent wall for some time now but wasn’t sure we were up to the challenge. We have plans to DIY a large shiplap wall in our master bedroom, so updating this nook space in our loft seemed like the perfect mini project to get us started. This was a 3-day project because of our work schedule and family life, however, once the shiplap arrives it’s totally possible to complete this in 1 day. Already having the necessary tools and only needing to purchase materials made this a super cost-effective project for us. Your anticipated cost will vary depending on the tools and/or materials you already have, plus whatever you’ll need to purchase.

Our previous home decor was very much inspired by Fall colors. When we moved into our new build we brought some of our existing home decor items with us. Now that we’ve established a more neutral color scheme, it was definitely time to say goodbye to the reds and oranges, but not the yellows. I like to include a pop of yellow ever so often in our decor stylings, as an homage to our FIRST home!

the preparation

After reviewing Home Depot’s selections and based our measurements, we chose the 6″ x 8′ primed shiplap, which is sold as a 10 pack. This left us with marginal room for error but we were fairly confident we’d be successful with just the 10 pack. Since this product is not available in-store at our local Home Depot, we ordered it online.

This worked out even better as we do not own a vehicle that could transport 8′ tall shiplap. Upon delivery, we made sure to inspect each individual piece and were relieved to find they were all in great condition! Minor blemishes would be hidden under paint.

day 1

The goal for the first day was to get all the shiplap cut and installed. Now our 2 girls tend to keep our hands pretty full so it’s often a challenge completing any project within the timeframe we set for ourselves. Our usual solution is to divide and conquer, so while I was inside trying to keep our little humans alive, the Hubby was outside cutting the shiplap. Last year, in anticipation of the myriad of projects we have planned, we purchased a miter saw. According to Hubby, it worked like a charm and made a huge difference in the cutting process. It took him less time and yielded very straight, even edges.

So funny story … we kinda sorta forgot a somewhat important step when installing vertical shiplap. And by somewhat, I mean necessary.

So what was this omitted KEY step you ask? Well, since the wall studs also run vertically, that meant there was no way we could simply nail the shiplap onto our wall. We realized the error of our ways after trying to nail in several pieces of shiplap, only to have some fall right down because they were missing the studs.

day 2

It turned out we needed to install 4 pieces of 2″ x 4″ wood onto our wall FIRST, before even attempting to nail in any shiplap. It was a rookie mistake we won’t soon forget. So lesson learned and after shaking off our poor lapse in judgment, we attacked our second day with gusto! Having already cut all the shiplap the previous day, the plan for Day 2 was to get all the shiplap installed, including the trim.

We selected a pretty minimal wall trim to keep the focus on the vertical shiplap. We chose to add a trim because it created a cleaner, finished look. It’s also an easy way to hide any uneven cuts made, but that’s totally not our reason. Hey my name in Arabic means “honest” or “trustworthy” so you know you can take my word (wink) for it.

FYI my friends, a nail gun is highly recommended when installing shiplap. It speeds up the process and because the nails are so small, it allows for a smoother end result.

day 3

When it comes to painting, the Hubby has ONE rule and one rule only. He will paint a wall for me as many times as I’d like until I’m certain of the color, but he will only tape ONCE! He absolutely dislikes taping. It’s “painstaking and challenging to get the lines perfectly straight,” he says. Go figure that’s where he draws the line, but I respect his rule so I know not to remove any tape until I’m in love with the resulting paint color.

Sherwin Williams Iron Ore for the win! I’m literally obsessed with this color you guys! I discovered it last year when we decided to paint a moody, mini accent wall in our kitchen, and now there’s no going back. It’s a warm, charcoal color that adds a lot of depth and contrast. Both the texture of the shiplap and the color selection really transformed this nook space. I couldn’t be any happier with the finished project, including the decor pieces I chose to complete the refresh. There’s definitely more confidence and excitement to get started on the master bedroom wall!

Is there a project you’ve been meaning to work on or a technique you’ve been meaning to try? Let’s stop doubting ourselves and our capabilities! Working in the health care industry, I’m constantly reminded that life is too short. Step out of your comfort zone and you just might surprise yourself! I’d love to hear about any new or ongoing projects you’re all working on, including setbacks and tips you’ve picked up along the way. You can always follow me on Instagram and be sure to tag me in your project posts so I can support you!

Aminah Chung

Current Favorite Entryway Finds

Happy New Year you guys !!

So full disclosure, I purchased this domain name back in 2019 (same time I opened my Instagram account) and quickly got started on a few blog entries. However, I could neither complete a single post nor admit to anyone that I even had a blog. I guess I wasn’t confident enough in my content or the direction of the blog. There was this fear of “what if no one cares about what I have to say?” Well, move over self-doubt because it’s a brand new year! I’ve done some reflecting and found renewed self-confidence! If at least one person finds value in my blog posts then I’ve done my job.

Now let’s get on with my first OFFICIAL blog post!

I wanted to give my entryway table a little refresh after Christmas and found some simple, fairly inexpensive pieces that worked beautifully with my existing decor.

No product featured below is sponsored, however, some are 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.

Regardless, all feedback and photos shown are my own. Okay, the photos are my husband’s but what’s HIS is MINE anyway! Besides, he charged me $1 per image (he’s saving up for a new lens), so yes these images are MINE!

I just love the openness of this black bowl! I think it’s a great eye-catching piece on its own but I chose to pair it with some neutral decorative balls. The contrast of the fibrous balls in the steel bowl makes my heart happy!

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The colors and textures of these throws are fantastic! The speckled white details add great depth and character. To compliment my neutral styling I snagged a Stone Gray, but, since yellow is my home’s accent color, I also picked up a Dark Horseradish. When quality and affordability meet, we win!

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This 4″ vase perfectly accompanies a couple of books on any table or shelf in your home. I just love the etched details and matte finish, so much so that I have 2 of these vases. Hey when you love something, buy more than one!

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This beaded garland set is such a great find you guys! 4 styles sold as a collection for under $15. It creates a lovely contrast against my black, matte vase and table books. I’m currently using 2 of these beaded pieces and I’m sure I’ll soon find ways to use the others.

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If you’re in the market for a white vase under 10″, I think you’d struggle to find a better value than this set. I’m a big fan of its brilliant, white color. The smooth, ceramic finish and added rope detail make this a perfect set for any home. I’ve purchased 3 vase sets because of its unbeatable value.

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The vibrant green of these faux eucalyptus stems makes them something special. Their refreshing and crisp appearance help create the Spring vibe I was going for.

My friends, I was able to give my entryway table a makeover for less than $100 and since some of these items contained multiple pieces, I now have extras to use in other areas of my home. These truly are the gifts that keep on giving!

Comment below if you already own or have purchased any of these items for your home. I’d love to know your thoughts on my latest decor haul and also hear about some of your great decor finds! I’m currently hunting for bargain home decor books, so if you have any recommendations, let a girl know!

Aminah Chung