Spring Greenery, Five Ways

It feels official after that beautiful Easter weather – spring is on its way! I've spotted a few buds popping up in my garden, but am all too anxious to start seeing green. Luckily, I've teamed up with the lovely Bronwen from Twig Florals to show you some creative and accessible ways to bring greenery into your home this spring (or year-round)! We had a fun day shooting with Lauren Gabrielle Photography, and I was thrilled to collaborate with Bronwen again, who was the talent behind our wedding florals. 

Many of the greens featured here can be found at a garden center or grocery store (think Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or Heinen's). We'd also recommend calling your local florist – they are usually willing to order anything specific you might need. Just be sure to ask about minimum order quantities, since they are likely working with a wholesale supplier. Continue reading below to learn about the varieties we used, and see how to spruce up your home for spring!

Greens Used: Baby Blue Eucalyptus

Blue eucalyptus can be so impactful – it smells amazing, and its silvery blue leaves add a striking focal point to any color palette. I usually place a sprig or two in bud vases, but loved Bronwen's suggestion to fill a large vessel with a bunch of stems. Here, we used a terra cotta crock and an oversized blue bottle, but you could also recreate the look in a galvanized metal vase or bucket. The look is very easy to accomplish – fill your vessel with water, and place your stems in, a few at a time. Arrange the taller stems toward the middle, with shorter stems along the sides.

Greens Used: Rosemary, Tree Fern

For the freshest greens, look no further than your own backyard! Bronwen suggests exploring your yard or neighborhood for vines, fresh-cut sprigs from bushes, or even herbs from your garden to add to small bud vases or bottles. Rosemary, mint, thyme, or lavender make beautiful and aromatic additions to small spaces or shelves. These would look charming in a kitchen, on a bar cart, or on a side table in a guest room. Don't have an herb garden? Hit up your grocery store for pre-packaged stems in the produce section. 

Greens Used: Ruscus Vine, Green Hydrangea, White Aster

This wall arrangement would make a beautiful statement for a party, a shower, or seasonal brunch. Here, we used a "K" as a monogram design, which would be super cute to represent a bride's new last name, or a baby's initial for a baby shower. You could also arrange the greens in a shape instead of a letter – a heart or circular wreath would work nicely. This makes a statement no matter where you hang it – we chose to place it over a mantle, but you could also arrange this over a bar cart or table setup for a party. 

Completing this arrangement takes a bit of time and finesse, but it's not overly advanced. We recommend starting with a sketch, then translating that to the wall. 

Cut the vine into sections to make up the limbs of the letter (the sizes will depend on how large you're making it). Attach each vine to the wall using masking tape, securing where needed. Try to hide the tape if you can, or choose a tape that matches your wall color. Once your vines are in place, you can add bits of florals to enhance the monogram. Here, we used small snips of green hydrangea and white aster (which look like mini daisies) to complete the spring look. Attach them to the vines using tiny bits of tape.  

If you can't get your hands on ruscus vine, you could likely forage some English ivy from your neighborhood (you know, the vines that grow like crazy over fences, walls, basically anywhere you don't want it)! Green hydrangeas always seem to be available at Heinen's (for the local readers) and you could probably find the white aster there as well. 

Greens Used: Sword Fern, Tree Fern

For a more everyday look, use a collection of mini bottles to create a statement in numbers. These are easy to find at craft stores or thrift shops, and look great when arranged with a variety of other colors, shapes, and sizes. Here, we filled them with a mix of sword fern and tree ivy – the contrast of the whispy tree ivy and the strong, straight nature of the sword fern makes for an interesting pairing. Sticking with only 2-3 types of greenery will also keep the look from getting too busy. Arrange them on a console table as shown, or line them up on a dining table for an interesting centerpiece. 

Greens Used: Seeded Eucalyptus, Rosemary

This is another super simple (yet super beautiful) way to spruce up your dining table for a spring brunch or a romantic dinner at home. To create this look, you'll want to start with approximately 10-12 stems of seeded eucalyptus. You can usually find seeded eucalyptus at a premium grocery store, but I've also been able to get it through a local florist. 

Using scissors or pruning shears, trim off the thick portion of each stem, leaving only the more delicate main stem that the leaves and seeds are attached to. Starting from one end of the table, place one stem after another, overlapping them to create fullness. Fluff and arrange the leaves as needed to fill in any gaps or to hide the stems of the other pieces. And that's it! 

You can enhance the look by introducing some greenery in your place setting – here, we simply tucked a sprig of fresh rosemary into the napkin ring. 

Another way to enhance the "green" of your table setting is to include them in in edible form! We loved the added sprigs of mint on the cakes – it looks so fresh and ties the greenery element into the desserts. These stunning bundt cakes were made by Salt + Honey Baking Co. and tasted as luxurious as they looked. We were certainly not complaining about eating the props ;) 

Bronwen and I were excited to share this little dose of DIY, just in time for spring. I love to bring the outdoors in, and until my garden starts blooming, these are five easy ways to do it (which don't involve the constant care of a houseplant, either)! If you have questions about any of the looks you've seen here, feel free to leave a comment and either Bronwen or I will happily answer them. Huge thank you again to Bronwen, Lauren, and Salt + Honey for making this little collaboration happen. Happy spring to you all!

Spring Decor: Planters + Vases

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As stated in my last post, one of my favorite ways to refresh my space for spring is with flowers and plants. I also have a very bad, bad addiction to shopping for vases. I impulse buy vases like it's my job. So, at least I can make myself feel better about my purchases by sticking some beautiful flowers inside them!

I didn't shop for planters much until we moved into our house, and realized we needed more plants around our outdoor hangout spaces. Having potted plants on your patio, steps, or porch add depth to your landscape and make the space more welcoming. Plus, it's a great excuse to get a cute watering can (holla)! Right now I'm really digging these utilitarian concrete slanted planters from CB2.

A wide, glass vase is my go-to favorite for spring flowers, especially tulips. They spread out so perfectly and droop over the edges...it's a great look. Crate and Barrel has THE BEST basic vases. You can't go wrong, and they're so affordable.

Are you a vase addict like me? What decor just gets you every time?

Home Series: Before & After | Master Bedroom

When it comes to naming which room in our house got the biggest overhaul, our master bedroom takes the cake—although just our hallway is a close second. You'd never think a hallway could be so much work, but that's a post for another day. It's amazing how after seeing dozens of houses, you develop this ability to not take anything at face value—and I don't mean just looking beyond paint colors. You can look at a lackluster room and feel like the space is right, or you notice how cool a corner is, or you feel how firm and right the floors are beneath your feet. 

This was the bedroom before — needs a little love:

As you can see in our progress post from our first week, we cut that small closet door open, installed new bars and shelves, ripped up the carpet, refinished the hardwood, and replaced that sad ceiling fan. The closet itself was quite big, but had that "cave closet" problem where the door is small and the closet is impossible to utilize fully. We expanded the entrance, replaced the doors, and actually reused the old closet door for our linen closet in the hallway. We really wanted to keep all of the original doors to the house, so I'm glad the door fit!

A nice master closet was something we hadn't seen in any of the Lakewood homes we looked at, so we knew a remodeled closet would be a great selling point someday (and a necessity for us now).

This is the closet after, with our DIY rope mirror:

Our progress at one year:

Curtains: DIY | Gold Tortoise Shell: Target/DIY | Nightstands: IKEA | Reading sconces and table lamp: IKEA | Duvet: CB2 (old) | Rug: Overstock (old)

For some reason, every single room in our house had ceiling fans, which we promptly replaced with semi-flush mounts, but we repurposed this one in our room for a little breeze in the summer. We might switch it out with something more fun (maybe a new DIY) but for now it fits the bill.

I really love the drama of dark walls and wanted to pull it off in our room with a super rich navy. We get a ton of light in our house so I knew it wouldn't be too dark, and we balanced it with lots of white and texture. The room has a tiny touch of nautical inspiration, but it's more relaxed and less literal.

There is still so much we want to add and change about the room (we're wanting a stylish new bed frame) but after a year, we're really happy with the progress. As it is with all spaces, there's always something to do! For now, it's an incredibly relaxing, rehabbed space that we're just enjoying.

Candle hurricane: DIY | Anchor dish: Furbish | Glasses: Lookmatic

Home Series: Before & After | Outdoor

Welcome to our outdoor home tour! In the spirit of thinking spring, I need some sunny memories of our green grass and garden to restore my sanity. It's hard to remember that things looked like this only a few months ago! We worked all spring and summer long to give the exterior of our home a facelift, and we're relieved the majority of the work is done. Let's get to it, shall we?

Here is our "after": with a fresh coat of paint on literally every surface, newly built columns and railing, landscaping, and new hardware (mailbox, light fixtures, etc.) The gray is Sherwin Williams Dovetail and the mint is Waterfall. The house is sided with aluminum, so we had to bring in the pros to paint it for us – we hired Neubert Painting to do it. It was incredible to see the house transform a little more each day. They painted the exterior of the house, but we painted the columns, railing, and porch floor ourselves. Pretty much every day after work, I was coming home, grabbing a beer, and painting something on that porch. It was actually kind of a nice way to spend the summer.

This was the house before. This was taken in the late fall, so the dead plants definitely make it look worse. The color scheme, symmetrical bushes, and shutters looked straight out of the '60s. The skinny spindles on the railing also gave us serious anxiety. The inside was so warm and charming, the outside did the house no justice. In fact, when we did our first drive-by, Jim pulled up in front of it and I said "oh my god NO" (this was in our "choosy" phase of house shopping, which ended quickly). It just needed some curb appeal and charm. 

We also did a number on the backyard. The garden beds were overgrown, which you can't see here since everything was dead at the time, so they needed lots of TLC. The little baby fence also had to come out, and also there was THIS:

A big, concrete slab of some sort in the back corner of the yard. We heard the concrete patio had been there for years, but we couldn't believe someone didn't just rip it out...which is what we did. 

We rented a jackhammer and towed away tons of solid concrete, while ripping out the other stones and the small tree that was in the middle of the yard. We planted grass where the patio had been and hoped for the best! It was terrifying to think the grass might not grow (first-time jitters) but obviously, it was fine. We watched it grow in and followed up by planting some new shrubs along the fence. 

Here is the "after" at the end of the summer. We still have some more shaping to do to the beds, but the work that's been done has made a huge difference. We've gained a ton of yard space by removing that slab, which Cooper loves! It looks more opened up, and I'm relieved to not have to look at that dumb fence anymore. 

Last winter, we were so anxious for spring to come so we could tackle all of these projects. We moved into the house in October of '12, facelifted the inside, and sat waiting to do the rest. We are really happy with how it all looks and can't wait to do more a bit more relaxing this summer – although there is definitely always something to do. Our next project is to furnish the front porch, and furnish our second-floor balcony that's situated off the office. You are all welcome to join me for summer drinking in any of these areas :) Are you planning any home projects for this spring? 

Home Series: Why To Buy

Today starts a little series of posts dedicated to all things HOME – specifically: homeownership, home buying, and our home's before + after. I have so many photos to share and thought the spring itch would be the perfect time to kick off this series on the blog. It's almost the peak time of year for listings to hit the market, so hopefully some of this will help + inspire any of you potential buyers out there!

As a relatively young, unmarried couple we were cautious about jumping into buying – in this economy homeownership has become more of a luxury than a necessity. However, on the other side of a burst real estate bubble, you have a rock-bottom market that's steadily on its way up. The timing couldn't have been better: home prices were low, interest rates were low, and our neighborhood was maintaining its value. In so many ways, it was the right thing for us and I'm glad we dove in and never looked back. 

These were the major and minor factors we considered when deciding to buy:

Investment – Really, this was #1. You're never too young to invest in your future. Homes follow the same rules as stocks: buy low, sell high. And we had a chance to buy low, on a house that we knew we could sell high just by sitting in it. Add in low cost/high-value home improvements, and you're sweetening the deal. After years of renting and tossing money down the drain, buying became the non-insane option. We knew we were staying in the area for a bit, so renting just made no sense.

Landlords – There's nothing like having total control over your space, and we are project people. If we don't like something, we want to change it. Asking permission? UGGGGH. On the flip side, the control comes at a price. If your pipes start leaking, it's your problem. Furnace breaks? Ka-ching. For some people it's ideal to not have to deal with this stuff, but any replacements you make can add value to your house. And you're the one who gets to choose what pipes/furnace/etc. go into your house, so you can make choices based on energy efficiency/performance that can lower your bills. We've been lucky, but it's still important to have to have a little cash pile somewhere for when these things come up.

Basement – As I said, we work on stuff. We needed space. We actually got in trouble many times at our old apartment for hammering too much and spray painting in the parking lot (would they prefer me to spray paint in our apartment? How am I supposed to DIY this lamp? #whitegirlproblems)

Basement Fridge – Yeah, maybe one of my favorite things ever about our house. A basement fridge full of beverages. You open it and BEER is bountiful. I might be a man.

Neighbors – Trust me, even in a house, you can (and likely will) have annoying neighbors. But I'll take anything over hearing my downstairs neighbor get screwed by a guy twice her age every night. Yeah...NOPE. TOO CLOSE.

Yard – We still joke that we bought our house for our dog. He has plenty of room to run, and I don't have to leash him each time he has to go potty. I'm lazy about that so I guess it was more for my convenience than his. Other obvious yard perks: we get to have a garden, grow herbs + veggies, and don't have to head to the bar to drink on a patio (although of course we still do).

Customization – This relates to the "landlords" reasoning...do you want to wallpaper that nook? Rip those bushes out? Re-tile the bathroom floor? Guess what –  you da boss, baby.

Noise – As a couple who favors music of the bass-heavy variety, we are quite happy with our freedom to crank it up.

Neighborhood – We love being a part of a neighborhood, and there's nothing like handing out candy on Halloween. For some reason, that's one of our favorite things to do and it's a reminder of how much we love where we live. We wanted to be more than transient members – by putting hard work into improving our house, we feel like we are helping to improve our community as well. We wanted to give an old Lakewood house some TLC and leave it better than it was left for us.

Everyones wants and needs are different, so I would love to hear about what motivated you to buy (if you have bought) or why you are hoping to buy in the future. Has it been a good experience? A tough one? Buyer's remorse? I'll be back next time to share some before + afters, and some tips/lessons learned about the buying process.