The Perfect Bathtub

Our last apartment in Brooklyn had the tiniest bathroom I have ever seen. Seriously. Somehow, even in that tiny space, they squeezed a standing shower into it. The bathroom was so small that only one person could get ready in there at a time, and if Keith and I even tried to brush our teeth at the same time, one person had to stand in the entry hallway while the other person rinsed their mouth. So we didn't go into the apartment search with too many absolute needs, aside from a larger bathroom with a tub. This place totally delivered. While there are certainly a few things I would change, mainly I love our bathroom. It's a good size, I even like the black, white & yellow color scheme, but most importantly, it has the best tub of any place we have ever lived in (even the awesome tub in our California rental).

As a reminder, here's that floor plan for our apartment again. The bathroom is next to our bedroom and has its own hallway off the main hallway.

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This is another room, similar to our kitchen, that we really haven't done much to. We added some shelves behind the door for our toiletry needs. And we hung a rod to the left of the mirror for our hair dryer and Keith's shaving stuff. The shower rod is so long that I thought a double curtain totally made sense, and while I kind of wanted to go bold and flowery with the curtains, I kept it neutral with striped ones I found at Ikea. I hung my favorite piece of bathroom art, that has been in every one of our bathrooms since our Austin house, on the back wall.

The dark navy rug serves its purpose, but about once a month, I think about replacing it with a 3" x 5" red and navy Persian style rug instead. If anyone has something like that in their bathroom, please comment and let me know how well it works for you!

My favorite part of this bathroom is that bathtub. Unlike every bathtub of any place we've lived in, it doesn't have a top drain so you can fill it up as high as you want (dangerously over the top even) and it's perfect for a nice soak after a long week. Honestly, one of my current favorite weekly treats is filling the tub with super warm water, putting about 6 - 10 drops of lavender oil, or a tbsp of epsom salts, and soaking in there for about a hour while I read Outlander on the Kindle.

Now, much like our kitchen, there are a few changes I would make if we owned and budget were no issue. I would obviously keep the tub, as it's clearly amazing. But I would definitely swap out the vanity, faucet, medicine cabinet mirror, and toilet. I love the look of dressers used as vanities, so I'd probably try to find something mid-century to use.

This space is a little small though, so perhaps a smaller, baseless vanity (like below) would work well. I think the yellow tile is actually sweet in this space, but I also love the clean look of white subway tile so I would certainly consider swapping it out. The below two bathrooms are so light and airy with all the white on the walls, though with the tall ceilings, I would be tempted to do something a little more bold on the floors or ceiling.

I love the blue tile design in that very first inspiration photo, but I even like the dark hex tile in the second photo. Now the white subway tile and black hex floor is a bit trendy, so maybe it would be better to take it a different direction. The black and white bathroom below, with all the copper fixtures is majorly swoon worthy. Maybe too bold for a condo bathroom, but I could totally picture this in a high-end boutique hotel.

This last bathroom design might have to be in some future house of mine, because wow - that floor? And that huge bathroom mirror? I would make that vanity a double, but that is the way to do subway tile (all the way to the ceiling!). I think in a smaller space like our current bathroom, you can totally go more bold on the floor. So if we owned and were renovating, I would totally consider this color scheme and those tile designs, swap out all the fixtures, faucets, and rods for copper or gold, and put up a large rectangular mirror.

I am hoping to finish up some belated spring cleaning in the next few weeks and then finally share the final room on this tour (our master), and once that's done, I'll share another LIVE video walk through on my private Instagram account. 

I also am planning a migraine / nutrition elimination update soon plus a "day in the life" post as well. Aside from that, what types of posts would you like to see from me going forward? Please share in the comments below. 

The Family Room

We finally got rid of the extra chair that has been in our living for the past two months or so (since moving it out of Adeline's room), so I have the much talked about and promised family room post for you today! The largest room in our apartment is our living & dining room + office combo. With all the purposes this room has to serve, it required a lot of forethought when designing this space. I thought a lot about the flow of the room, foot traffic, storage, comfort, and how quickly it can convert from playspace to "movie theater" for after our daughter goes to bed. 

 Yes, those are my toddler's legs in the air on the couch. #reallife :) 

Yes, those are my toddler's legs in the air on the couch. #reallife :) 

This room gets a lot of direct light in the afternoon through those blinds (which yes, I would also like to replace at some point), so I apologize for the iPhone quality photos. That right window also holds our one window ac unit, which has proven to be a bit challenging for this very hot, humid summer that we are experiencing. For the longest time Keith and I even thought that there might be a chance we would never even turn on the ac. Rookie mistake. Also, I'm always warm so air conditioning is vital. And I wish we had one in every window of the apartment right now. 

 That white side table holds four baskets of toys and hides a collapsible play tunnel and fort. 

That white side table holds four baskets of toys and hides a collapsible play tunnel and fort. 

I suppose that I should talk a bit about the furnishings in this space. They are a variety of pieces from Joybird, Target, ikea, West Elm, World Market, Rugs USA, Amazon, and the Container Store. My first priority in this new space was to finally invest in a sleeper pull-out sofa for family visits, and I was really excited when I found that showstopper style from Joybird. While the actual home delivery portion of the sale was super unprofessional (outside company and Joybird refunded us fully), the design process was pretty straightforward and both the couch and mattress are really comfortable and have held up well to daily toddler abuse (ie food stains and jumping - refer to 1st photo for example). We paid a little extra for a thicker sleeper mattress and have heard positive reviews from all our house guests. In the 9 months that we have lived in this apartment, this living room alone has been rearranged at least a dozen times and has had one couch, one love seat, and three different chairs all residing in it at one time or another. 

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I LOVE that rug. It's a perfect size for the space, works well with all the colors in our apartment, and is really comfortable, even when on your hands and knees exercising or being ridden as a "horse" by your 2 1/2 year old. When you find the right rug at Rugs USA, it really makes their awesome discounts and pricing that much more desirable. In fact, while typing this I am currently looking for my 3rd rug order for our daughter's room. 3rd - because the 1st two just didn't work once I had them in there. Also, fun sidenote, my husband came up with an idea for our daughter's "art wall" and then built those boards and hanging wire himself in our courtyard. I thought it was bit overkill initially, but now I totally love it and admit to him at least once weekly that he was 100% right on making it more of a statement wall. 

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I still have yet to decide on a piece or art or wall hanging or mirror for that open wall area to the left of our "home" sign that I made all those years ago at our Austin house. Some days I think perhaps it's fine blank and other days I scour Target and Urban Outfitters for hours and try to decide what would work best there. Also, initially I wasn't totally sold on the look of that Target bookcase but it has totally grown on me. It's also mostly for my office organization, and since I recently went through all my desk drawers and did a ton of reorganizing, I'm feeling even better about that space. Oh, and that globe hanging above the sign is a light and was another idea my husband insisted on. He's really big on lighting and since all our windows face the next building over's walls, we don't get tons of natural light (though my first picture may be misleading). He felt our dining area was too dark most of the time, so I did a ton of research and found that rechargeable globe lantern at Urban Outfitters. I'd prefer an actual light hung from the ceiling, but I think it turned out pretty cool for a makeshift rental option. 

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The bench is a Target find that I recovered with Spoonflower cacti fabric, and the three white shelves to the right hold all our postcards from our Europe backpacking trip from three years ago. At some point, I would like to figure out some way of actually protecting them long-term, because I love those postcards. I opted out of sharing a desk photo on here, because a) it was super messy and b) I'd have to take down all the work documents and calendar. Just know that the West Elm high gloss white desk is awesome and fits perfectly. My next big West Elm purchase? I really want to replace the blue ikea dresser in our bedroom for a solid wood piece eventually. And on that note, maybe I'll get around to sharing our master bedroom in another 3 or 4 months. Perhaps celebrate our one-year anniversary in this place? Fingers crossed! 

Any questions on sources? Please type in the comments or send me a message and let me know. Thanks, as always, for following along! 

Our Brooklyn Kitchen

I keep promising an apartment post about our living room / office / dining room, but we're currently in the middle of a few minor updates and changes, so I'm putting it off another few weeks and sharing a different room on this tour, our kitchen. For a reminder of our apartment layout, here's the floor plan. The kitchen is at the end of the apartment, next to our daughter's bedroom that I shared in last week's apartment update.

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The apartment has original hardwood floors, high ceilings, and tall windows. The kitchen is probably one of the larger ones we looked at last summer, and it certainly has the most cabinetry of any place we saw. It's not totally our style, but it's spacious for a Brooklyn apartment, and has served our family well the past five months of living here. Aside from hanging a fruit basket, filling the cabinets and drawers, buying a floor runner, and placing items on the counters, we really haven't done much to this space. It's a little tricky to photograph as the window looks out on another apartment building's wall, and the space itself is a little dark.

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 My cookbook collection

My cookbook collection

 Utensils, cutting boards and microwave

Utensils, cutting boards and microwave

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 "It's not about how big the house is, it's about how happy the home is."

"It's not about how big the house is, it's about how happy the home is."

 View from the kitchen, into the living room / dining room / office.

View from the kitchen, into the living room / dining room / office.

Renting obviously presents limitations on changes you can make, so while I'm totally happy with this space, if we owned, I would totally be open to renovating. I thought it would be fun to show some ideas of what kinds of changes if budget was no limit and we completely gutted the space. We've gotten much more into mid-century style lately, so I would replace all the cabinetry with a flat-door style in a walnut wood with marble or concrete counters. I would also rip up the dark floor and pull color inspiration from the original hardwood in the rest of the apartment for a wood floor to continue into the kitchen. It could never be as spacious as the following inspirational photos, but hopefully you get the gist of what I'd envision in this dream scenario. 

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The cabinet handles in those two photos are a bit heavy, so I'd probably go for something a little more sleek and slim, or no handles at all. I also think in a smaller space, it could be fun to go with something a little more graphic and bold for the back-splash (you know I like bold walls!). I thought something a little more fun, like the below examples all the way up to the tall ceilings, would be gorgeous in this dream space.

I totally fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole a little bit on this search. It's just so much fun daydreaming about kitchen renovations as I have yet to get to do one! That last image is absolutely breathtaking. The faucet? That chandelier? The deep navy with those granite counters? Swoon! Major kitchen envy happening over here. I might even be searching for stick-on tile and renter kitchen inspiration as you read this.

Next up? I've been working on a "week in the life" post of what all our lives are like in a typical week, along with some top-secret photos of our food coop. Anything in particular you'd love to hear about our day-to-day lives living in Brooklyn, NY? Share in the comments below.

Learning to Apply Makeup in my 30s

I have talked about this a few times on Instagram, and shared with a few friends, but one of my goals for this year of taking better care of myself, revolves around my skin. I feel good about my daily skincare routine, but I have never really figured out the best makeup products for my skin or put much effort into any kind of daily makeup routine. For some reason, now that I am in my 30s (and a tired mom of a toddler), I've been growing increasingly interested in having a better idea of how to properly apply makeup and the best products for my needs. I have spent the past few months researching, watching Instagram tutorials of bloggers that I respect and like their makeup choices, and trying a few samples of products before investing in any full-sized version. I went to makeup stores, tried different products and colors, and even hired a makeup artist for help.

This past weekend, as a birthday treat to myself, I paid a local makeup artist to come to our apartment and spend a hour and a half looking through the products I narrowed my search down to, demonstrating how to properly apply to one side, and then talk me through me applying to the other side of my face. It was SO much fun! If you're also interested in learning more about makeup application, check out local makeup artists in your area and see what kinds of services they offer - they aren't just for special photoshoots or weddings. The lovely woman that I worked with will go shopping with you and help you narrow down the right colors and products for your skin type, will come to your apartment to help with application (like she did for me), and hosts customized parties for groups of friends or a shower (along with also doing events, weddings, photoshoots, etc). If you live in New York City and are interested, just comment below and I'll link to her website.

If you want to see how I look without makeup, you can friend request me on Instagram (I only accept follows from friends & family). Otherwise for a made-up look, here's a photo from Two Pair Photography on my wedding day almost seven years ago, all done up. This collection of photos is from our wedding feature on Style Me Pretty.

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Without further adieu, if you are interested in upping your makeup game and would like to know more about my exact process, here's a step-by-step:

1) Research cruelty-free and vegan brands and products through Peta and Cruelty-Free Kitty.

2) Check out Cruelty-Free Kitty's shopping guides and product guides for reviews, products, and pricing information. Tip: Not all cruelty-free products have to cost insane amounts of money.

3) Read product reviews on Sephora, Ulta, Amazon, etc.

4) Look up your favorite bloggers on Instagram, most have makeup tutorials and tend to wear a lot less than YouTube makeup artists. They will probably give you a better sense of what products you actually need for every-day usage.

5) Go to Sephora, Ulta, your local drugstore, etc and check out the products in person. Sephora and Ulta have store employees that can help you find the best color for you and will provide additional product recommendations. Tip: They may try to convince you to buy something you don't need. Be strong. If you don't like eye liner, you don't need it. If you don't like foundation (like me), don't buy it. p.s. If they sway you, most stores have great return policies. Don't use the products, take them back.

6) Go home and start playing around with makeup application. Put it on in different light settings, in different rooms, with a recently cleaned mirror. Use your fingers, a clean brush or sponge. Tip from the local makeup artist: If you have dry skin, try liquid or non-powder products. If you have more oily or combination skin, try powders.

After a bunch of research and watching several makeup tutorials, I decided that the main products I needed for every-day usage were (and would be applied as follows):

1) Rosehip Oil (been using for well over a year)
2) Foundation Primer (I LOVE this stuff!)
3) Tinted Moisturizer (been using for almost 2 years)
4) Concealer
5) Setting Powder
6) Brow Gel
7) Mascara (most days)

 I returned the Tarte Concealer and Foundation pictured above. Everything else was a keeper!

I returned the Tarte Concealer and Foundation pictured above. Everything else was a keeper!

For someone who only used rosehip oil and tinted moisturizer daily for the past two years, this is obviously a huge change. It took a little longer initially each morning, but now I can apply it all pretty quickly. I have never liked foundation, and so even though the Sephora sales clerk initially convinced me to buy some when I went into their store, I wound up returning it as I prefer keeping things really light with my tinted moisturizer (CC or BC cream is also a great foundation alternative option for people that like a less made-up look). I initially bought a Tarte concealer from Sephora, but after sampling it at the store, by the time I got home I was not happy with how it held up. I wound up returning it and buying this much less expensive e.l.f. concealer, and I like it SO much more! If you were starting totally from scratch, investing in all of these exact same products up-front would be about $120. I already owned the rosehip oil and tinted moisturizer though, so I spent about half that amount.

Before going into this experiment, I had no idea how to use makeup brushes or sponges, so I didn't want to spend a ton on either. I did some research and found a nice middle-ground option for both (which turned out to be the same brand the makeup artist I worked with uses!). I bought this base set of brushes and sponge from Ulta. I read a lot about this in my research process, but it's also a bit more obvious as an adult, that it is super important to keep these very clean as you're probably using them every single day. When cleaning the brushes, do not get the base of the bristles wet as it will destroy your brush. I heard really good things about this sponge cleanser, which I can now say works great, and I use it to clean both the sponge and brushes. Altogether, those three items cost me an additional $30 from Ulta and e.l.f.

Keep in mind that, if well taken care of, a lot of these products will not require regular replacement (the brushes, sponge, or cleanser) and all of the products I listed are used so sparingly, and have a long shelf life, so they will probably only need to be replaced 1 - 2 times per year. A perfect example is the tinted moisturizer. I thought that foundation primers were totally silly and unnecessary, so I bought the $16 sample size just to try it. It spreads so easily that you barely need any, but it also cut my tinted moisturizer use in half. I need so much less moisturizer now, because the primer reduces my skin's absorption of it. It is awesome and my skin feels so much smoother and better hydrated! 

 Mirror selfie to show you I put makeup on my face! :)

Mirror selfie to show you I put makeup on my face! :)

Second product I thought was completely unnecessary and a total marketing ploy? Setting powder. But guess what? If you workout with any products on, go outside when it's warm and start to glisten a little, find makeup on your collars or clothes on the regular - you need this setting powder. It is vegan, cruelty free, super highly reviewed, lasts a very long time, and I have seen a significant decrease in shine and reapplication needs (even after teaching a fitness class in a warm gym!). I do not make a commission or anything, I just really love it and am so glad I decided to try it. There are a few additional items that I also bought, which are certainly not necessary if you're trying to keep things within or under the $150 range, but I'll mention them below in case you want some additional options for every-day or going out usage.

If you are looking for a great alternative to traditional blush and eye shadow palettes, that can also be used for contouring and highlighting (yes, after meeting with the makeup artist, I have a better idea of what that means), I really like this contour palette for all of those things. I also bought this illuminating stick, though I honestly didn't 100% know what for at the time, but the makeup artist actually showed me how to use it as a blush (use your finger or a brush to apply to the apples of your cheek). The "pinkie dust" color works great for an every-day blush with my skin tone (the contour palette "blush" is a little better for evening use and goes on darker). Lastly, for when I'm really wanting to amp up my look for a night out on the town, I bought this retractable eye liner in brown and this lip gloss in "Creme Brulee". I will never be a lipstick person, but this gloss is really subtle, pretty and not overly sticky like others I have tried in the past. 

If you click on the links for the last three products I mentioned, you'll get a better sense of what I was talking about earlier in this post when I mentioned that not all cruelty-free, vegan products have to be insanely expensive. The NYX eye liner that I bought is $5, had tons of great reviews, and the makeup artist that I worked with said it's her favorite eye liner (she even had it in her makeup bag!). If you're SUPER into eye liner and want something more intense, Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner may be more up your alley, but at a $15 difference for something I rarely wear, it wasn't worth it to me. Altogether, this entire combination of products would come in just under $200. Certainly not an inexpensive experiment, and yes, quite an investment. As I mentioned above, this is not a monthly, quarterly, or even an annual investment. But it IS an investment - in your skin and you. If you wear any kind of products, or want to start wearing more of them, please do your research on companies and consider cruelty-free options. 

Still not convinced cruelty-free is the way to go? Read this article.

p.s. I am not associated with any of these brands or companies, and do not receive any commission or gifts for referring you to them. If you buy anything from this post, all I ask is that you come back here and comment below letting me know what you thought - good or bad. Also, if you have additional vegan, cruelty-free products or brands that you LOVE, please tell us all about them in the comments below!

Our Daughter's Bedroom, Not a Walk-In Closet

The first apartment that we brought our daughter home to was railroad style with our bedroom at the front (street-side) and a teeny-tiny nursery / walk-in closet just off the side of our bedroom. We thought of it as sweet and quaint, but now that we've moved into this larger space and she has an actual bedroom, it's hard to imagine her being in that small of a space again. I had a lot of love for that nursery, but our daughter really didn't spend much time in it outside of naps and bedtime. I mentioned last week that I would be writing about our living room today, but it's currently going through some changes, so instead today's post is about the most up-to-date room in our "unicorn" apartment - our daughter's bedroom.

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When looking for a new apartment, our daughter having her own decent-sized bedroom was very important to us. We plan to be in this new apartment longer than any other apartment or house we've ever lived in, and we want it to be a space she can grow into, a space that will eventually fit a twin bed and perhaps even a desk for homework. Initially when we signed the contract on this apartment, we had actually planned to put her in the slightly larger of the two bedrooms as it is off the front hallway, instead of off the living room and we were concerned about the tv keeping her up at night if we wanted to watch a show or movie. We went back and forth on it for the month and a half before we actually moved in, and one day when checking out the new apartment (and deciding on paint colors), we did a test. I put a movie on my phone in the living room (at the loudest setting) and closed the door in the back bedroom. We could barely hear anything at all - somehow we found the one well insulated old building in Brooklyn.

The decision was made and the back bedroom was prepped for our daughter. We requested the entire apartment be painted Benjamin Moore's Super White in an eggshell finish and then one specific wall in each bedroom was simply primed for us to paint an accent wall. I knew I wanted something bold and graphic for our daughter's new bedroom, so about two weeks beforehand, I narrowed down my options to four colors then did several variations of design options on card-stock with Frog Tape and sample paints. I wanted it to be fun and bold, but not overpowering or too busy.

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My husband and I both agreed on the simpler design on the left, so I bought all the supplies and quart-sized paint cans. Once our landlord's had moved out and finished cleaning the apartment, they allowed me to come in a few days before our move-in date to paint the accent wall in our daughter's new bedroom. It took me about three hours to tape off the trim and wall, then paint the two necessary coats. I did not measure out the design ahead of time, I totally winged it. I didn't want perfection, I just wanted something bold and fun for a little girl's new bedroom. Here is the step-by-step painting and taping process:

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 Benjamin Moore's Carribean Blue

Benjamin Moore's Carribean Blue

 Benjamin Moore's Baby Chick

Benjamin Moore's Baby Chick

 Benjamin Moore's Platinum Gray

Benjamin Moore's Platinum Gray

 Benjamin Moore's Tangerine Dream

Benjamin Moore's Tangerine Dream

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Once the room was painted and had a few days to dry, we started the move-in and unpacking process. My husband and I went back and forth on putting anything on this accent wall, and finally both agreed, it should stay as is. I couldn't fathom messing up all my hard work with some nail holes. This room has gone through three rearrangements in the past five months, but today I wanted to share the most current version, after we added a reading chair, her Christmas gift of a play kitchen, and a toy bin.

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We love this current set-up her room and because it's right off the living room and easy to keep an eye on her in there, our daughter plays in this bedroom so much more than her last one. She loves "cooking" in her play kitchen, reading books to her dolls in that little bean bag chair, and choosing her own clothes from the dresser. I store her doll's extra clothes, a few toys she's not quite ready for yet, and her next size up in clothes all in her closet on a mint bookcase or on the upper shelves. 

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I'd love to swap out that rug in the next few months for a little bit more fun one, like this from Rugs USA. I'm just waiting for one of their 60 - 75% off sales. We also have some more work to do on her play kitchen, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. She's already getting a little too big for that bean bag chair, so we'll probably be getting rid of that in the next few months. I'd also like to hang some of the book shelves we used in her old room under those animal heads by the reading chair, and at some point we've discussed buying a more modern chair for this space in place of that dark gray wingback one.

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Thankfully, our long-legged girl still fits in her crib (and *knock on wood* hasn't tried climbing out yet), so I'm hoping we've still got a few more years left of that crib, even once the toddler rail goes up. But eventually, once she's ready for an upgrade, I think a twin bed will go in that same corner as the crib and she'll get a dresser upgrade too. I'm glad that's still a few years off though, because all three of us love this new and improved, much bigger, space and I'm so glad this is the room our little girl is slowly becoming a big girl in. More apartment updates coming next weekend!