Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Landscape Update // New Fence

I thought I'd pop in today to share a quick landscape update with you - one that I'm pretty excited about. You see, my nemesis - the dilapidated pool equipment fence- is now no more.  For two years, this, along with the beaten up cypress trees (which we unfortunately need for privacy) in the background were this yard's biggest eyesores. They stared at me through the windows from my couch, the kitchen sink and our master bedroom. Then, in a flash this past week and thanks to our good friend Kyle who worked meticulously with a tape measure and level, the fence I loathed so much was gone, replaced now by a more modern horizontal design. 

We've just started to fill in with mexican beach pebble - a somewhat expensive endeavor that will be slowly installed in all of the raised beds over the next 4-6 weeks

So here we are,  a month into this project, mounds and mounds of dirt now gone and the fencing and landscape now transformed.  The fire bowl we have on order is due in shortly and that, along with some seating will go in next. The ground cover will be finished off with stabilized decomposed granite to keep the area easily cleaned and walkable,  avoiding dirt and debris to be trafficked into the house.

You can also see more of our evolution on this project from this earlier post found here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Summer 2013 Wardrobe // Zara Favorites

All the focus on landscaping the yards these past couple of weeks has left me feeling kind of... well dirty - as in dirt in my hair, under my nails and embedded into every fiber of clothing that I've managed to destroy in the process. With most of the dirty work now behind us, I woke up this Monday morning craving something flowery, flowy and fresh to put on. These looks from Zara are just the look and feel I'm after.

Things have started to heat up around here and toiling away on those hot days has also taught me a little something about my long hair. I'm feeling ready to ditch the pony-tail for summer and sport a more polished bob like the models above. 

Do you have a summer look in mind?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Reveal // Cork Fabric Lampshade

In yesterday's post, I gave you a little background into my new obsession with cork as a textile. While I had certainly taken notice of cork as a wall covering, I had sort of filed that into the "paper" category and not really considered that cork could also be called a fabric.

As these things often go, what really sealed the deal was the research I did into a DIY born of necessity- I simply wanted something that was simply out of my budget and so I was determined to find a way to make it.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Current Fixation // Cork Textiles

Until recently, I gave cork little thought. I pinned magazine tears to my cork backed mood board and wore it on the soles of my shoes. I knew it was used as flooring and I certainly admired it when used in mid-century decor- as lamps or wall coverings. But I'll admit that beyond that, I never considered incorporating it into my own home.

But then something changed and I started to look at cork in a fresh new way.  Gone were the chunky textures of yesteryear and rolls of cork suddenly became more than the mediocre grade found on the shelves of office supply stores.

Designers were using sleeker cork wall coverings in more polished, contemporary patterns and I certainly took notice.

The metallics? Forget about it. I'm was and still am completely smitten.

But maybe I had to understand a little more about it- where it comes from, how it's made and why it's one of the most ecologically friendly materials used on the planet to appreciate it all the more. 

Cork harvesting is truly an art handed down from father to son in countries an ocean away. 

When you see something like that, the fact that it can eventually become high-end, wearable designs like these below really fosters a new appreciation for the stuff. The fact that it's sustainable only sweetens the deal. 

I couldn't resist and found a way to incorporate cork into my own home. I've been dying to share this latest project with you because it's effect was so impactful for very little time and money. 
Be sure to check back in with me tomorrow for the full reveal!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Pattern Party

I tend to lean towards a more conservative and streamlined aesthetic when entertaining. But I have to admit that these pretty patterns have me nearly persuaded to incorporate a few into an upcoming birthday party I'm planning at the house.

  A recent trip to Target found me standing in the aisle, all but captivated at the fresh designs of their latest party collections.  Best part is the affordable price point. Heck, at less than $3 for a package of 10, I might even stock up for summer shindigs. 

I pulled out a few of my favorites above, but trust me when I say there are many more to choose from. I might even consider one of their irresistible paper cloths for my upcoming fete- gasp!  For the real goods, head on over to your nearest store because they regrettably aren't sold online.

A few weeks ago, I had stumbled upon the MarthaCelebrations collection online at JC Penney. Planning a small wedding or a shower? You might want to dive into the conveniently curated categories on the JC Penney website. You can search by color - encountering appealing hues such as 'sweetgrass', 'cotton candy' and 'scarlet'. You can search by celebration type, where half the work is already done for you in pulling together a well coordinated event or simply by product. Be sure to check out the 'sweets' section, where you'll find a collection of color-coordinated candy and sets of apothecary jars that'll make pulling together a sweets bar easy peasy.  

It looks like you'll find at least part of the collection in your local store. I did. What I really like about this collection is that you get all of the same elegant patterns that one might find in a high end party boutique without high end boutique pricing. Win.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Trick it Out // Your In-Home Sound Bar

 One of the things that makes my house a home is music. We have it playing constantly. New tracks, old favorites, we tend to rotate through it all on any given day. While the convenience of digital files makes variety easy, we also like to slow things down and spin a classic record or two during dinnertime. It really is a different sound, soothing, nostalgic. 
Reminds us of times growing up.

I'm over at Young Sophisticates again today for my column Making Homes Work. This time I'm sharing some inspiration that will help you make your own Sound Bar work a little harder for you. Below you'll also find my picks for styling up this integral corner of your home. 

Did you know that you can now design your own JAMBOX? Play Mixmaster and personalize the cap and grill for days when mobile sound is critical. Any real audiophile also needs a serious cabinet to house their collection. File it away in Atocha's pricey, but ingenious LP storage cabinet (or hack your own!).


Thursday, April 18, 2013

This Just Arrived

I first laid eyes on it over 5 years ago.  We were scouting wedding locations and the Palm Springs house we eventually selected had a large print hanging in the entryway. The house was a dream, but I had stars in my eyes for Slim Aarons.  I told The Mister even then that someday a copy would hang in our own home, even if it was itty bitty. I made him promise.

It's become trendy now, particularly in the blogosphere and while it's usually my style to run right in the other direction when that starts to happen, this time, my affection was undeterred.

Affordable copies are hard to come by and then one day, I stumbled upon Surface View, a UK based print house with rights to a collection of Slim Aaron's works. I quickly found that I could affordably order it in nearly any size I wanted - even cover a wall with it.

Still, it has sat way down on the list of priorities during our reno. 

And then at last... 

It arrived the other day in the most beautiful, thoughtfully wrapped package. Customer service with Surface View reminds me of the good old days when companies went to great pains to ensure their customers were happy. It could not have been a better experience. They were communicative, polite and quick to ship. The care they took to preserve the print for shipping was more than I could have hoped for. 

Finally, at 11pm last night, I decided that I could not wait any longer and so it was hung on the empty wall that has sat waiting for it for the last two years.

So, so satisfied.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Black Yard

It's starting to look a little like our old backyard. The Mister and I stood staring at our newly stained black fence last weekend and we could not help but be reminded of the direction our first patio had taken several years ago. At that time, we had a mush mash of patio furniture, made up of different styles, colors and conditions, but had found that when we unified all the elements in a single color - then black, it sort of all came together like we had purchased the pieces specifically with that design in mind. 

Fast forward to our new yard- more spacious, with beds we are now free to landscape as we wish and a  sparkling blue pool down the center. Though worlds away from what we had, the addition of our new black fence still had us reminiscing. 

Perhaps its also because we have charcoal furniture and accessories earmarked for our in-progress patio this summer. Regardless, we certainly have a specific aesthetic and have embraced it in our new home as well.  

There are certainly plenty of people who share our love of black in the yard.

Black is a dramatic compliment to chartreuse, emerald amber and icy blue colored foliage. We are using all of these shades against our 'slate' colored fence.

Black patio chairs with charcoal gray cushions will create a moodier feel around the turquoise waters of our pool by summer as well. Like the picture above though, we'll offset all that darkness with warm wood in the outdoor bar, table tops and a patio sectional we are looking to build ourselves.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Modern Wood Tiered Planter Boxes

You and I have some catching up to do. I have so much to share and I promise that this week its going to happen. Lots of progress on the ol' homestead in recent weeks and I've been working hard to keep up with my camera.  Today, I want to share progress on the tiered planter beds I mentioned in an earlier post. I had a feeling they would come together rather quickly and they sure did. 

Here's how we took a nondescript side yard and gave it some architectural interest in just one week.

I mentioned that we had to contend with the natural grade of our yard. Because it sloped upward toward the back fence, rather than plant with the grade, we installed tiered planter boxes that would allow us to keep plantings uniform and level. 

Dad helped us stake it all out the first weekend and then came back on weekend #2 and worked his behind off to frame it up. Nothing fancy here. We used pressure treated boards and metal stakes from Home Depot.

The morning after the boxes were installed, I took a brush and some stain to the boxes to help them blend in with the background fencing.  We're still working out some details on the top tier (mainly still trying to vacate some dirt we piled up temporarily there. Once we can dispose of all the dirt, the final portions of the fence and planter will be finished off and planted. 

The Furcraea Mediopicta we are highlighting in each bed will grow to 5' tall and 6' wide within a year or two, making for a dramatic backdrop in this area of the yard, soon to be outfitted with a fire bowl and seating.

Friday, April 12, 2013


With what has quite possibly seemed like the longest week ever finally wrapping up, I wanted to check in to bring you a few updates and wish you a happy weekend.

I didn't intend to take a little blogging hiatus this week, but Dylan's passing has been a tough one to choke back and I just didn't have it in me to blog about pretty this week.

Instead, I did what I rarely if ever do- gave myself space and exactly what my mind and body needed, when it needed it. That's not to say I've been balled up on the couch for the entirety of the week. Quite the contrary. Off hours were spent listening to my favorite music, eating well, staining our outdoor fence and walking local nurseries just before they closed their gates each evening. I've acquired quite the collection of plants, now all lined up on the patio and ready to go into the ground this weekend. Finally- a yard with actual plants!

I'll be snapping away all weekend on Instagram. Be sure you are following Holtwood Hipster to see the yard finally come together.

Here's wishing you a happy weekend.


Monday, April 8, 2013


Over the weekend we lost our boy. We knew it was coming and tried to ready ourselves, but that doesn't make the pain any less difficult to bear. I might share some thoughts in a post later this week. I promise it won't be a sad post, even though waking up this morning was even more difficult than the last. 

For now, there is distraction. Thank goodness for that.

The Mister and I had plenty to focus on around the house this weekend. Dad came over and helped finish up the front screen (boy does it look sharp!) just in time for planting next weekend. Out back, he also helped us make some progress on the back patio (is that what we're going to call it?).  I shared some plans for this side of the yard in an earlier post. This is the space near the backyard bar where we are looking to install tiered planters along the fence and a fireside seating area. You can see some progress on the planters, now all framed out. The neon string marks the soil line for each. Our property slopes upward and the tiered planters will help compromise for the natural grade in the property, while adding structure and camouflage visual interest along the fence. The fence will actually be upgraded to a "slate" stain and will be offset by some chartreuse plantings on each tier. 

The Phormium in our original plan went out the window. We're now aiming for three of these show-stoppers: 

This feels like it all might come together rather quickly, which is always a good thing in my book. For now, things still look a little blurry and of course, dirty

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Modern Bath Retreat Today at Young Sophisticates

I'm always looking for ways to get more out of each room in my home. Today, you'll find me hanging out with Rebecca over at Young Sophisticates, sharing one way I'm aiming to make my home work harder for me. 

Hop on over for some sophisticated design inspiration all focused on making bath time truly the retreat it should be. 

As a bonus, here are my top picks to get that spa-like feel at home.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pillow Fight

Both my sister and I are on the hunt to freshen up our houses for summer and have turned to the tried and true method of a quick facelift by bringing in some colorful pillows. While my favorite retailers are carrying some savvy solids right now, custom pillow makers - many constructing out of their own designs- have been fighting hard for my attention with these playful patterns.  The biggest battle still remains. How will I ever choose?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Better Equipped

All of these projects around the house over the last couple of years have told me plenty about the state of my body. While carrying heavy loads, digging trenches and long days spent on my knees weeding out planters would take its toll on even the fittest of humans, the fact that I have all but neglected my health in favor of well... other things, has magnified all of the aches and pains one might typically experience. I can not solely rely on ice packs and emergency chiropractor visits to get me through all the DIY I love so much around here.

So last night, I did good by myself and gave yoga another shot. The first day of class is always awkward, isn't it? Bad form, the wrong clothes, the items forgotten back at home... I quickly realized I was ill-prepared. Sometimes the right equipment really makes all the difference. 

I spotted a couple of items over at Lululemon that I think will help me get more out of my yoga experience. I love all of the different cuts and colors offered. 

I  think I'll also get back on the elliptical machine that is collecting dust out in the garage. Some new trainers just might help kick me into high gear.  These minty fresh Nikes are calling my name.

What about you? Is there one thing that makes working out for you just a little easier to bear?

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