Monday, May 11, 2015

new beginnings // laura design company

Oh man, this is one of those posts that's hard to write. I get sooo shy sometimes and especially when I talk on the internet about things I'm doing with my life. Like real things. Big things. When it comes to sharing big news, I'd prefer to just slip it under the radar. But this isn't the kind of news you let leak out there without a proper blog happy dance. So here it is....deep breath. I own an interior styling business!

I'm getting better at saying that with a straight face, but internally I'm freaking out and saying it more like, "I OWN AN INTERIOR STYLING BUSINESS!!!!" followed by an over-long string of the dancing girl emoji and several of that monkey with its hands over its eyes.

As much as I hate to use an already overused phrase, I can't stop thinking of how perfectly the words "dream come true" apply here. All the way back in my freshman year of college, when I thought I'd major in history, I took one of those what-should-I-be-when-I-grow-up quizzes they pass out at career counseling, and the unequivocal answer was Interior Designer. I didn't exactly heed the wisdom and instead got a fashion merchandising degree, but the dream was firmly planted. I went on to intern for an interior design firm, work in the commercial interiors industry, and ended up doing styling and merchandising for an interiors retail store. It always felt like I was dancing around the dream job (or maybe working toward it), but then babies came along and I hit the career pause button.

Last year, when I started this blog, I decided it was a great way to dip my toe back into career waters. Little did I realize I'd soon be falling face first in the pool!

You may remember when I featured the gorgeous home of my long-time friend Laura Peacock last June. She and I met through our mutual friend, Adrienne, who brought her to a mom's playdate group we were starting, way back when our oldest kids were mere toddlers. I still remember setting up the pack n' play for that first group at my house, knowing a girl named Laura would be joining us and bringing her baby. That group turned into a bible study that stayed together for years. That girl became a dear friend.

I suppose it was my writing about her house that made Laura and I connect over our enthusiasm for interiors; I honestly don't remember ever talking much with her about the subject before that! At a barbecue a couple months later, probably as she and I were standing in my kitchen discussing tile or something, her husband randomly said, "You guys should go into business together." Heh. Sure, Justin. Whatever.

Even though that seemed like a total impossibility, I think we both felt a spark at those words. About 5 minutes after he said it, I already knew I'd do it in a heartbeat if I got the chance.

In October, Laura's church asked her if she would help redesign their new offices. Like me, she was on career pause to stay home with her kids, but her brother-in-law, the pastor, knew she'd have fun brushing off her interior design degree for a quick project.

She asked me if I wanted to help, and since my single goal in life at the time was to have pretty projects on my blog, I was all in! We did the job in just a few weeks on a shoe-string budget, DIY-ing and thrifting our little hearts out, and had an absolute blast. Bringing the staff in to reveal the space and watching them totally freak out with excitement was SO indescribably fun. And we worked well together. Like, really well.

I remember sitting over coffee and talking with her after that about what it would be like to do it for a living. "Someday."

In January we got an email from a couple in her church named Dan & Grace. I think I'll always love Dan & Grace. They sent us an adorable impassioned plea for help decorating their home, and there was truly no way we could resist. They had a darling place and had already done a ton of work to it, and really just needed help pulling together that final layer. Laura and I hastily brainstormed about what kind of services we could offer and all of a sudden found ourselves making crazy grown up stuff like proposals and invoices and logos. It was bizarre but wonderful! Just like that, we had our first clients.

We ended up doing what we now call a Custom Design Package, where we gave them the floor plan and shopping list for them to put together as their time and budget allowed. They've been kicking butt on the project and have made unbelievably fast progress considering we basically did plans for their whole house. We've been getting sneak peeks from them and I jump up and down every time I see more of it come together. The whole process was a total joy.

So what now? We considered just taking jobs as they came, if they came, and keeping it on the side as a fun hobby. But more people called than we expected. And it became apparent we needed to figure out what to tell them. And a website would be easier than explaining it over and over again. And if you have a website, and a name, you want to make sure you can actually use the name before you put it out there too much. And how would people pay you without a business bank account? It just became obvious that an LLC was a necessary step. We weren't ready (and we might never be ready), but to quote my brother, "Man up, this is happening!"

So today, I'm excited to introduce you to Laura Design Company. (It had to be named that since we're both Laura right? I mean seriously, what are the odds?!) And I'm excited for you to get to know my sweet partner and friend! I have so much admiration for her- her grace, her style, her love for the Lord. She's a true class act and I'm grateful to be on this adventure with her.

Photo by Ellen Swalley

And that's my news! There are some moments I think it'll all just fizzle into a forgotten dream, and some moments when I think I could look back on this post years from now and be in awe of all that's come to pass. Either way, it feels like I've been given a precious gift. We'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where the path takes us.

Thank you ALL so much for your incredible support in this exciting (terrifying! thrilling!) new adventure. We will be working on our website over the coming weeks and plan on having an official launch once it's all pretty and presentable. But for now, I just had to give a sneak peek to my sweet friends and blog readers. I can't say how grateful I am that you're here with me.

Please come visit us at Laura Design Company and follow us on Pinterest- I can't wait to see you there. 

Here's to new beginnings!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

one room challenge // bedroom reveal!

I started this series of posts 6 weeks ago, and opened with an inspiration photo that looked very much like the one above. Today, that inspiration is reality and -- I am still pinching myself to say it-- that photo above was taken in MY new bedroom! 

I can't thank Linda from Calling It Home enough for creating this challenge, opening it up to the blogosphere, and being a cheerleader along the way (as were all the incredibly sweet bloggers sweating this one with me)! I know without the motivation of posting weekly and having a deadline, our bedroom would not be a fraction as finished as it is today.

Should we have one more look at the "before" picture before jumping in to the reveal??

That sad dumping ground for leftover furniture was where we started. Here's how it looks now!

Pretty big improvement right?!!! Seriously, I feel like I'm in a dream when I walk in here now. I never gave much thought or consideration to how much having a really grown up space would feel- one that's clean, and minimal, and relaxing, and luxurious...I can't say enough good things. (And thankfully we've just turned the corner where the baby hands no longer pull down your glass vases full of branches).

Here's a before of the window...yikes, it was so bad!!

Those blinds have been sent to their permanent resting place! Here's that window now:

Painting the trim white and hanging neutral curtains far outside the frame make it look even bigger than it already is. The window is the feature now that it deserves to be. And without the broken dark old blinds covering it up now, it allows the light to flood the room.

Can I pain you with a couple more before photos? I do like that they were so bad, because it makes the reveal that much better, right?

OK, enough of those!

The leaner mirror has found a new wall to call home, one where it reflects the entire room and bounces the light from the window back around the whole space. I love this view!

I'm beyond thrilled to report that my quest for a vintage nightstand was successful! Last week on Thursday, I walked into Jubilee Furniture with high hopes and I'm not kidding, this night stand was the EXACT thing in my head. I wanted a three-drawer MCM nightstand with waterfall drawer fronts. It was there. With the original legs in the bottom drawer. Beat to heck wood finish. For $20.25. YES!!! I spent more than that on the chalk paint! I couldn't believe it. I am over the moon for how it looks with the painted creamy finish. It's the perfect touch of femininity in a room that could easily have gone over to the boy side and never come back.

It just so happened that the pear tree in our backyard burst into bloom this week AND also needed a little pruning, so I couldn't help but bring a few branches in for this reveal. (I am the yard forager out of the Found & Foraged girls, after all). I did catch a few photos of how I'm styling the nightstands when it's not pear blossom season:

And my foraging has been passed to the next generation! My daughter pulled up this rock from the backyard the other day, and insisted we keep it. When I washed it off to reveal a gorgeous green-veined gem-like thing, I was all too happy to grant her request. (Luckily she let me "keep it safe" in my room for her).

My copy of the Chronicles of Narnia is the one thing that doesn't leave my nightstand. I've been reading it to the kids and we are so addicted! (Also Trouve pretty much bombs all my photos- it's so perfectly gorgeous).

I like the simple look as much as the drama of the branches. It also lets those pendants we built be the stars of the show! (And believe it or not, those silver dollar eucalyptus are left over from Christmas! I saved a few stems from the mantle garland, and they looks as beautiful dried as they did fresh).

For now, as long as I have the branches on my side, Ryan needs a little height on his. So I have pulled out his collection of geek comics and nerd lore, and propped a botanical print on a book stack for some balance. (True confessions: His nightstand is normally pretty barren except for a late-90's digital alarm clock he can't bear to part with and I can't bear to have in blog photos).

Here's the view from our adjoining master bathroom, a room which of course is now the giant zit on my prom queen's face. ;)

Lastly, I thought it would be fun to show you how the kids and the fur-baby like to use the new room:

The Tuft & Needle has passed the jump test...

...and the puppy nap test. (Dyson posed just for you, Linda).

As much as I love this room during the day, my favorite time to hang there is at night now. I never used to go to my room except to stumble into bed for a few hours of sleep (or to dump laundry), but at night the glow of the Edison bulbs is so soft and lovely, and the room is so relaxing, it's the only place I want to be. Not a night has gone by where I am not filled with gratitude and an overwhelming sense about how very blessed I am to have this spot to lay my head.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy project! I am absolutely giddy to head over to Linda's and see how everyone else's spaces turned out...I know they're going to be stunning!

I'm also sharing this at my favorite Saturday night hang out over at House of Hipsters!

Monday, May 4, 2015

mother's day gifts // ellie fun day

Hello & Happy Monday!

It's almost Mother's Day, and I'm popping in to let you know that I'm sharing my Top 5 Gift Picks over on the Ellie Fun Day blog today.

Some of you may remember when I first found Ellie Fun Day (and how much I raved about them), so I was really honored when their founder, Sarah Lin, asked me to guest post for them.

They have a commitment to helping marginalized women through handcrafted design and fair trade, which I so admire. (And in case you missed this news, they make the. best. baby. blanket. on the planet). I hope you'll check out the post for all these goodies:

I've got sources, stories, and one very telling secret about my abominable lack of a skin care regimen. Stop by and tell them I said hi!

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