Category Archives: Shopping

Tim’s $250 Office Makeover

What do you do when you’ve organized every closet in your own home, cleaning it inch-by-inch inside and out? You head to your husband’s office and get to work! More than seven years ago my husband moved to the US from Ireland, sat down at an empty desk and started working as the COO of publishing company Ambassador International. He didn’t change anything in the office. He didn’t even open most of his desk drawers to see what was inside. The book border, the fake plants– it was horrible! Take a look:

Here’s a tour of the transformation:

Tim's Office MakeoverFor starters we got rid of the book wallpaper border. Yay! Tim painted one accent wall black and the others dark gray.

Tim's Office Makeover

Tim’s desk ended up being our favorite feature in the makeover. He really liked the size of it and we didn’t have room in the budget for a new one so we painted the sides off-white using paint we found in our basement at home and stained the top in a very dark stain. The total cost of the project was $10. The chairs were pulled from another room in his office and I think they go so well with the new space!

Tim's Office MakeoverThis is the view if you are sitting at Tim’s desk. We finished the ugly filing cabinet in the exact same way as the desk. The verse is Romans 12:12 and we used paint we already had, a 40% off canvas from Michael’s and a tube of blue paint we got for $1.

Tim's Office MakeoverHere’s a closer shot of the filing cabinet. Tim literally had never opened some of these drawers in the seven years he’s had the job! The two lamps came from Ikea, $20 a pop. The little silhouette is our dog Milo done by a local artist.

Tim's Office MakeoverWe also hung some white floating shelves, another Ikea find, and styled them with old books and framed photos of New York City from an old calendar. We also painted some bookends he had with that same $1 blue paint.

Tim's Office MakeoverWe left his ugly bookshelves pretty much the same. We did put black and white contact paper on the back of them in a chevron pattern. Then we styled them with accessories like these cool West Elm plates we got on clearance for $2.97 each. These shelves hold every book ever published by Ambassador International over the last 30+ years.

Tim's Office MakeoverThis was our biggest “splurge” for the room. I found this cute little cream couch on Craigslist. She was asking $75 but we talked her down to $50. It fit perfectly in the back of our car! I made the pillows using leftover fabric from Sam’s nursery. The rug was only $20 at Ikea and covers a big stain on the carpet very well!

Tim's Office MakeoverOn either side of the window we hung two of these “book” shelves. We got the idea from the Charlotte West Elm store and since we have no problem getting our hands on free books this project only cost as much as the brackets which were a couple of bucks at Home Depot. The little letter plates were also on clearance at West Elm for $2.97 each.

Tim's Office MakeoverTim absolutely loves his new office. And sometimes I even work from there too, sitting on the couch. In all we spent about $250 which included paint, the couch, a rug, three vases, two lamps, two floating shelves, a pencil cup, about a dozen fun plates, a canvas, wall brackets and renting a carpet cleaner. We had a blast doing it and I feel great knowing my husband has an inviting, stylish setting to spend his work hours.



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The $50 Chevron Nursery Rug

I’ve been on the lookout for a rug for the nursery. The room isn’t very big so I just wanted a 5×7 or 5×8 in some sort of bold pattern. I thought about getting this one from Dwell Studio. It sells for $275 but over Memorial Day weekend they were having a 20% off sale so I could have purchased it for about $225.

nursery rug idea

I also thought about this cheaper one from Urban Outfitters. The Zig Zag rug is only $79 for a 5×7.

nursery rugBut then I came across another option while shopping at Home Goods. It’s a golden yellow and off-white chevron rug. I thought the color may have been a little off, but I knew I could have returned it if necessary and the price couldn’t be beat: $50! When I got it home I was pleasantly surprised. It’s perfect!

Nursery Rug

I think the color looks great with the crib sheet and the wood floors. It would also work in other rooms of our home which is always a selling point for me since I seem to constantly be shaking things up and moving stuff around.

Nursery Rug 2

And you just can’t beat the price– $50! I did spend $16 on a rug pad to add some extra cushion and help the rug stay in place. I’m so glad I didn’t spend $225 on the Dwell Studio rug a few weeks ago. I have plenty of other ways I can use the $175 I saved.

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My New Business

Nearly ten years ago I started a tradition. I took a blank, boring journal and filled the first few pages with bad poetry, dorky photos and a heartfelt note. Then I sent it away to a friend. The pages of that journal eventually got filled with memories and what was once a cheaply made book became one of my most priceless possessions. For my four friends and I, The Traveling Journal became an illustration of our friendship that no amount of emails, text messages or Facebook status updates could ever match.

This year it occurred to me that more and more friendships are long distance. Spouses, jobs, and promises of warmer weather are pushing people to pick up and move away from the people that mean the most to them. So I, along with a few founding friends, decided to launch It’s a place where people can get their own journals (much better quality than ours was) and accessories to enhance the experience of The Traveling Journal. Just about everything is custom-made, mostly by hand.

I realize that in an iPad world, The Traveling Journal may have a hard time finding its place. There’s no technology involved. There’s no immediate gratification. And you actually have to hold a pen in your hand to make it work. But I can tell you from experience there’s no better feeling than being able to flip through the pages of a friendship, to hold the same book in your hands that those closest to you have held, and to be reminded every once in a while that you are deeply loved.

My friends and I all agree, we would not be as close as we are today if it weren’t for our Traveling Journal. And when it comes down to it, life is about the people you love. So as a writer, I hope to encourage others to write in the pages of their own Traveling Journal. And I trust that one day, The Traveling Journal will become just about the most precious thing you own.

Feel free to “like” The Traveling Journal on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. And, of course, visit our shop.

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A Collection of Yellow Accessories

I think it was probably this inspiration photo from Southern Living Magazine that sealed our decision to go with a gray and yellow color scheme for our new master suite.We’re doing a similar sliding door for our bathroom.

Inspiration Image from Southern Living

Gray is a prominent color in the rest of our house so it will definitely flow well. I’m now in the process of tracking down some great yellow accent pieces. These rugs would look great in the bathroom.

Yellow Bathroom Rugs from West Elm

And I could definitely see this rug somewhere in the main room. It’s from CB2.

Yellow Rug from CB2

And I’m thinking this yellow West Elm chair would be great to go with the new desk we got there. But I may just end up spray painting a chair we already have.

Yellow West Elm Chair

We plan to keep the same bedding we currently have. It’s chocolate brown and I think it will look great. But this accent pillow from Target may make a nice addition. It’s only $19.99.

We already created some custom artwork using leftover wood and spray paint. But we could definitely use more. I love this print from

Adorable Blanca Gomez Print is Only $30


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Model for a Day: A Magazine Photo Shoot

My four best buddies came into town for a whirlwind trip that included a photo shoot for a magazine. More details will come, but for now I’ll just show you what we wore.

Our Five Outfits

All of the clothes came from local boutiques including Hampden Clothing, Augusta Twenty and The Runway. We were so pressed for time that I had to borrow the clothes from the stores so that my friends could select their outfits at my house on Sunday, the day before the shoot. These stores let me walk out with over $10,000 worth of merchandise so we would have exactly the right thing to wear. Many of the photos were taken at my home, but we also hit downtown Greenville for a different look.

In Falls Park for Our Photo Shoot

If all goes well one of the 1200 shots that the photographer captured will be hitting newsstands in a May issue. I’ll keep you posted!

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Making the Light Choice for the Closet

I realize that picking a light for the walk-in closet should probably be an easy choice, but it’s not. I want something that puts out a lot of light (duh!) and is the right scale for the space. The ceilings are angled and the light will come down from the point where the walls meet which means it must be a pendant of some sort. Here are five that I like. Which one is your favorite?

The 3-Light Pendant from ($118)

Mini 3-Light Antique White Chandelier from ($29.99)

Chrome Crystal Chandelier from ($86.99)

Paper Cloud Vines Pendant from ($154)

The Sonneman Bubbles Globe Pendant ($104)

I know they are all very different but I am drawn to them all! Fortunately the rest of the master suite is recessed lighting which means there are no choices to make.


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New Sinks and Faucets for Our Master Suite

Tony, our contractor, says the drywall should be complete by the middle of the week which means we can begin the fun part of picking out fixtures and colors. This weekend we ordered two sinks and two faucets which will go on the vanity that Tim is building. The sinks and faucets came as a set from

The Kraus Rectangular Sink and the Bruno Faucet

Since the faucet shares the same name as our min pin we took that as a good sign. While other sites sell this set for $400, we picked it up at for less than half that. They sell them for $219.95 with free shipping, but we bought them in two separate transactions and used a coupon code to take $15 off each. We also bought them through which means we’ll get an extra 4% cash back. (If you’re not signed up for, do it now and never shop online without heading their first!) In the end, we paid about $197 for each set which I think is a great deal for some really nice looking fixtures. These will really give our custom vanity a high-end look.

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