Thursday, October 12, 2017

Week 2 // Fall One Room Challenge: California Casual Living Room

Vanessa Alexander

Today we round the corner into Week 2 of the One Room Challenge, a biannual room makeover event hosted by Linda of Calling it Home.  Last week, I shared a look at the evolution of my living room - my focus for this challenge - and how it has slowly morphed through renovation and decor trends over the last 7 years.   This week, I am checking in with you to share more about my direction and the design influences for the California Casual design I will reveal on November 9. 

We've lived in our home while we've renovated and over time, focused sporadically on each room as budget has allowed. Two recent changes - a new floor and our recent kitchen remodel - have both helped solidify our design plan and created an easier, open feeling flow from room to room.  As I work to complete a more finished look with our adjacent living room and adjoined dining area, its important to me to not only create something complimentary to other rooms in the house, but continue with something that is aesthetically aligned with aspects that are important to my husband and I in our private living space.  In the end, what will our living room reflect about us and how will we live in it?

Design Influences

California Casual is a style that has recently come into better focus through the widely published work of local California designers. But I feel like its been evolving for quite some time. I can think back to places I frequented as a kid in the 80's and remember hints of what it has now become embedded into those early furnishings.  Nostalgia aside, what has drawn me most to this style are the airy rooms, earthy, muted tones, clean lines and soft textiles - all things that are comfortable and soothing for two people who spend most of their time saddled in front of a computer or navigating their way through LA traffic all day.

Amber Lewis

Laura Singleton

Surf Shack - Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Design Goals

Our design goals for this space are well defined and will continue to unify the rooms throughout the house. We will transition away from trendy accessories (many still packed away from when we put the floor in this past Spring) and work toward something modern, but a little more timeless.  

In next Thursday's update, I will share work in progress and a first look at some of the materials that will be brought into the room ahead of the final reveal. In the meantime, catch sneak peeks on Instagram (@HoltwoodHipster) and be sure to check out progress by the other guest participants on Calling it Home.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Week 1 // Fall 2017 One Room Challenge: A California Casual Living Room

Today marks the start of another round of the One Room Challenge, a biannual room makeover event hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. As I've done many times before, I am throwing my hat into the ring to makeover a space in my own home and will blog about my progress over the next 6 weeks. Each Thursday, I'll share an update here on the blog and I will link up with other guest participants sharing their own progress report. I'm certainly no newbie to this event and all the work that goes with it - last round I even redesigned our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen. For the Fall 2017 One Room Challenge, I'm completing the design of our Living Room/Adjacent Dining Area. To get a better idea of the design scheme throughout our home, you can see other rooms I've completed for the One Room Challenge linked up in the sidebar.

For now, let's take a closer look at the focus for this challenge.

In full transparency, you can see that our redesign has been underway for some time. We've been slowly renovating and remodeling our 1967 rancher here in Orange County, California for the last 7 years. I would have liked to have come right out the gate of our purchase with a full remodel done the right way. But as first time buyers looking at original 1960's everything, it took some time to find financial footing to back our plan. In the end, time was on our side because our plan has evolved quite a bit while living in our home these last years. After laying some of the groundwork, today we're finally feeling sure of our direction.
We gutted the room immediately upon purchase and started with a clean slate. Lighting, paneling and paint went a long way for a long time. We almost didn't want to clutter up the space with furnishings because after living for 9 years in a cramped beach area back house,  it felt so, so good to finally have these big empty rooms to call our own. We picked a glossy dark floor in haste and it would be nearly 7 years until we realized that it was the root of our mistake. In the process, we threw some good money after bad, redecorating and trying to brighten up a room darkened by the heavy contrast of the flooring we chose. It also took some time to find the tone of our home. Home trends and the romantic idea of owning a midcentury rancher with a pool sent us traveling down a decor path that leaned too desert glam for our everyday tastes. What resulted was a lack of cohesiveness in all the mass produced, hollywood regency-meets-boho accessories that had started to accumulate.

We recently brought in a more muted white oak floor that was a game changer for us. The path was clear and even more defined as we wrapped up the remodel on our kitchen for the Spring 2017 One Room Challenge. There is now a greater synergy from room to room as you walk our halls and ultimately there is a greater vision for what we want one of the most lived in spaces of our home to reflect about us.

In next Thursday's post, I'll share the game plan with you.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Best of Etsy // DIY Printable Art

DIY Art Prints

Artwork can make a significant dent into any design budget. Sometimes the design starts and builds around a favorite piece of art. But it's been all too common that I find myself nearing the end of a design project, wondering what to hang on a glaringly bare wall with little budget remaining to acquire an art piece - much less frame it. More often than not, the printable art options on Etsy have saved the day - and to my delight, allowed me secure art for my project affordably and quickly. 

Calling all Fall 2017 One Room Challenge Link-up Participants! Looking to build an expensive gallery art wall or find a focal piece for your design project? Here are my picks for some of the best DIY art prints on Etsy, organized by categories that are trending right now. The Etsy shops I'm featuring here also have dozens of other selections available as well.  Be sure to click on through and check them out.


Above the Sea: 

EmDesignsPaper // DeziDeziDesigns // HelloGorgeousWallArt // ILovePrintable // SALTYNALU
DIY Art Prints

Wild Wild West: 

DIY Art Prints

Above the Trees: 

DIY Art Prints

Cali Vibes: 

***Favorite places to have your DIY artwork printed to size:


Monday, September 18, 2017


Make Your Own Perfume Oil, Custom Scent, Signature Scent

Perhaps the only positive from my blog hiatus was that I have a backlog of some really good stuff to share with you - one of which is the build your own fragrance bar I pulled together for my sister in law's bridal shower. Tasked with styling up the party and incorporating an activity of the non-game variety, I created a fragrance bar that would address both. This decorative assembly of oils, pipettes and pretty packaging allowed guests to mingle and create something useful and personal to take home from the shower. In today's post, I'm showing you how you too can create a similar build-your-own fragrance oil bar set up for your shower guests. I did all the legwork for you and am sharing my well researched resources and experience to make your set up easy and more affordable.

Shower Idea, Perfume Bar

In approaching set up, you'll want to focus on both the aesthetics and self-serve quality, lest you'll need to station an attendant at the table to direct guests on how to assemble for the duration of the party. Know up front that it will be helpful to have someone who knows what they are doing on hand to get guests going. But I found that a quick guide to assembly, framed and placed front and center on the bar went a long way to encourage guests to create and experiment on their own. Also helpful- create and publish 3-5 pre-tested scent recipes for guests who want to participate, but are not feeling particularly experimental.

Creating your fragrance oil blends

Your fragrance oils will need to be made ahead of the party. These are the pretty bottles from which guests will layer together in a roller bottle to create their own personal scent. To create these, I added therapeutic / cosmetic grade essential oils to each bottle filled with a carrier oil - in this case sweet almond oil. Be cautious - you do not want oils that are solely used in candle making. These may contain other ingredients that you don't want to put on your body. There is a bit of science involved in this step and I am not an expert. However, I will refer you to a couple of expert resources here and here that will guide you through the steps. Safety first - I would always err on the side of caution for a skin safe ratio (in this case, essential oil to carrier oil) and keep your pre-blended solution at the lowest recommended percentage. Remember, guests will be layering multiple scents anyway so a blend that seems very light at first will build in intensity within the roller.

You'll note the bottles are relatively full above. Unless you plan to use these again at another party or have more than 50 guests, I would suggest you only fill these to half to save yourself the extra cost. We had 50 guests and bottles were hardly depleted. I recommend you use a 4oz bottle filled 3/4 full or an 8 oz bottle (like we did) filled to half with your carrier oil. It will still present nicely but you won't have as much waste.

Shower Idea, Perfume Oils

Selecting your oils

I am sharing the list of oil blends I created and featured at our fragrance bar and some notes on how to blend. These are presented in order - so the base note would go into the roller bottle first, then the heart and finally the top note. You don't have to use the scents I used - there are many others to select from. Essential oils have become increasingly popular for use in home diffusers so you may even already have some of these in your oil collection. Brand selection is somewhat controversial depending upon who you talk to and cost can really add up.

That said, I thought this collection was reasonably priced and offered a nice array of different scents to build on. 

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

Table Essentials

Blending oils can get messy so consider that as you plan your set up. You will want to be sure you your fragrance bar is not in a carpeted area so that any spills might be easily cleaned up. Linens will be soiled (as I learned) so hard surfaces like the tile samples I put to use above went a long way in both presentation and maintenance. Open the bottles up and present them with ready to use pipettes. These pipettes should remain in each bottle - guests should not use them in different bottles as scents will cross pollinate. Keep in mind that guests will also want to sample the scent before they commit to it, so sample cards available on the table (and a receptacle for used cards) will be helpful. 

Label your bottles using tags you create or those generated by a label maker as I did. Coffee beans are also useful to guests who want to clear their olfactory palette before inhaling another scent.
Make Your Own Perfume Oils
(Complete list of sources below!)

Packaging for Take Home

We actually hosted this shower close to Christmas time and I found many guests were creating a personalized scent for gift giving. Regardless, its a nice touch to send guests home with some swag in a pretty package.  Clear plastic cylinders (see below!) often used for candy packaging were a perfect solution. Pre-stuffed with a little wood excelsior, the rollers slid easily into the cylinder before being capped and sealed with some decorative washi tape.

Make Your Own Perfume Oil

The DIY fragrance bar was a hit at the shower. Just ahead of the upcoming wedding, there were so many guests meeting each other for the first time and this non-game activity encouraged mingling and interaction. It was fun, made a decorative statement and guests got something useful to take home.

Source List

Bottles - these are the ones used above, but these would also be extra pretty!

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