Interior Design

New Year, New Home Update?

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This article is in partnership Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen

As a homeowner, there comes a time when you notice certain rooms in your home are looking a little, well, outdated. If visions of a new year remodel are dancing in your head this holiday season, I hope this post gives you some design inspiration as you plan your new years home resolutions.

The first areas to show signs of aging are usually the kitchen and bath, where outdated materials can tell the tale of days gone by. Home improvements like new cabinets, fixtures and countertops can make a dramatic difference and bring you back to the current day.

Keeping your home updated can also be a smart investment, and the kitchen and bath deemed are wise choices when prioritizing. A minor bathroom remodel came in #1 with a minor kitchen remodel following at #3 in this HGTV article on the top 15 home updates that add value to your home.

kitchen bath remodel

Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen

San Diego-based Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen specializes in bath and kitchen renovation. This family-owned and operated business has been creating beautiful living spaces for more than 33 years.

Offering their clients unique services such a dedicated project manager, day-to-day schedule with exact start and completion dates and a 5-year workmanship warranty, Remodel Works helps take the anxiety out of remodeling so you can focus on the exciting aspect of your stunning end result.

Here are some before and after photos of recent Remodel Works projects I loved when checking out their gallery online.  You won’t believe the dramatic differences! Let’s start with two of their kitchens.

A Transitional Kitchen Design

Here’s the first before photo. A rather uninspiring kitchen, right?



And afters!



Transitional design is one of the fastest growing choices when doing a kitchen remodel.  A transitional design marries the warmth of traditional design with the clean, simple lines of contemporary style.  Transitional spaces project balance and harmony.

And gray is the new white when it comes to kitchens and I love the contrast of the charcoal countertops with the white cabinets and subway tile. Un-cluttered, striking and beautiful.

A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Design 

Here is another example of a kitchen before Remodel Works came in. Kitchen design has sure come a long way since then…



And the afters!

This beautiful kitchen embodies many of the current trends in kitchen design: transitional and farmhouse.


Once again, it is transitional, blending traditional warmth with contemporary elements.

In combination, the shaker style cabinets, retention of the cozy hardwood floors, farmhouse sink, wooden barstools and dining table make this this a modern farmhouse style kitchen.

One I wish were mine. Sigh…


New Year, New Home

My husband is going to be really bummed I worked on this post because I am typing this in our outdated kitchen and have a lot of new ideas with what kind of updates we could do! Time to start planning ahead, and budgeting. Will you all help me with choices if he gives us the green light to proceed? Wish me luck!

In the meantime, for more information on Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen visit

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Cox Smart Home at Canopy at Esencia

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post to spread the word about the Cox Smart Home and Amazon links in post are affiliate links.

Did you know that the average household connects six devices to the internet these days? We are talking phones, laptops, tablets, gaming systems, etc. and that number is expected to increase to 50, yes 50, devices by the year 2022.

I don’t  know about you, but my Wi-Fi can be S-L-O-W at times and it drives me crazy. Lots of spinning rainbow wheels and error pages on dropped web searches. Lagging Wi-Fi can also result in a very irritated 5th grader when it inhibits her from posting one of her fabulous videos on

With the need for internet connection and speed increasing and our tolerance for slow connection decreasing, Cox Communications and Warmington Residential are paving the way to the future of digital living at one of Orange County’s new master planned communities, Canopy at Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo with gigabit-internet speed.

It’s the future people.  And it’s here.


This week I got to preview Cox Communications and Warmington Residential’s Cox Smart Home in Esencia where they have designed a modern living space to showcase all of the different ways families are going to be using technology in the future and all that is possible with gig-speed internet. The Cox Smart Home will be open this weekend to the public and I urge you to go  see it for yourself.

Cox Smart Home at Canopy at Esencia Powered by GIGABLAST Internet Speeds
Open to the public
Sat. 10/1/16 and Sun. 10/2/16 from 10am – 6pm
100 Vasto Street, Rancho Mission Viejo, CA 92694

For those of us that are not super techie, let me tell you what living the Gig Life means. Gigabit connectivity gives customers internet speed that is 100, yes 100, times faster than the average speeds offered today. Now that is what we call GIGABLAST!  Sign me up Cox!

With gigabit internet service you can run all your devices at the same time, download an HD movie in less than 60 seconds, upload 1,000 photos in about a minute, download 100 tunes in only 3 seconds, stream live video, do anything that requires heavy bandwidth, and do it at lightning speed.

My Top Five “That is So Cool!” Moments at the Cox Smart Home

I saw so many cool things in every room of the gorgeous three story home, my head was spinning with awe and the times I said, “That is so cool!” were countless. Please just go and see it for yourself because it was impossible to cover everything in this post so I will highlight some of my favorites.

1. Wemo Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Slow Cooker

It’s on Prime mamas, might as well just buy it now.

I didn’t know such a dreamy slow cooker even existed! With three heat settings you can control with your smart phone from wherever you are, you can adjust the temperatures or settings and never risk overcooking a dish again.

Here is fabulous flood blogger Whitney Bond demo-ing the cooker, powered by Gigablast.

Whitney’s tagline is “Traditional Recipes with a Bond Girl Twist.” Check her out, I adore her site. In fact, I am making her One Pot Italian Sausage Shells and Cheese dish tonight. YUM.


2. Amazon Echo and Philips Hue Smart Bulb

Echo is a hands-free speaker that connects to the Alexa Voice Service and can control things from playing music, reading books, looking up the weather, and even turn on thermostats and lights with compatible devices.  All you have to do is ask her. Do you guys have one yet? It’s on my birthday list. Honey, are you reading this? Honey?

For example, “Alexa, play me Justin Timberlake!” Done. “Alexa, turn on the light in the kid’s room.” Done. Feels very George Jetson, doesn’t it?

Just another device making our lives easier, powered by Gigablast.


3. Virtual Reality Gaming

Welcome to the future of gaming – virtual reality –  where you are not only playing a video game, you are immersed in it. Moms everywhere will be thrilled to learn this technology can also be educational, in a highly entertaining way.

At the Cox Smart Home, I got to meet two young men from Labcoat Studios, an app development company behind virtual reality games and experiences.  They were showcasing one of their virtual reality typing games to help develop keyboard skills.

It was so cool I was squealing with delight as I tried to burst the words with my mad typing skills. See the word “rain” on the screen? That word was coming towards me and I had to type it as fast as I could. SO fun.


4. House Calls of the Future

How many times have you sat there looking at your sick child and wondered if you should take them in to the doctor but dreaded the idea of getting them there?

The telehealth program at CHOC Children’s Hospital has a system that uses modern, digital, communication technologies changing the way patients are able to access care, remotely, 24 hours a day. With the use of the InTouch mobile robot, the technology enables secure, real-time connections between providers and patients.

The telemedicine field is rapidly growing so one day we will be able to see our doctor from the comfort of home, on your device, without leaving the house. Again, powered by Gigablast.

The doctor will see you now…


5. Distance Learning

With Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. there are so many opportunities to have face-to-face instruction by experts around the globe and the opportunities for education are endless.

At the event, I had the privilege to see the legendary violinist, Jason Yang (who has toured with Madonna!), demonstrating with the use of technology, how he can teach students and stream live seminars in high-definition to his students and fans internationally.

Just think of all the opportunities we will have for children to take music classes from amazing instructors anywhere without the need to chauffeur them. Once again, at speeds powered by Gigiblast.


You guys, please go and check out the Cox Smart Home this weekend with your families.  It will be such a fun outing and you will be in awe of all the amazing things available to residents when you have Gigablast internet service.

Some other amazing features you will get to see are a Wi-Fi BBQ smoker, Wi-Fi vacuum, Wi-Fi pet and pet feeder, Wi-Fi weighing scale, Wi-Fi drawing robot, Cox’s new, Voice Remote Contour TV system and more. (And you might even get the chance to WIN one!!) Go, just go!

About Esencia

Encompassing nearly 23,000 acres, Rancho Mission Viejo (The Ranch) is planned to provide multiple villages which could consist of up to 14,000 homes as well as sites for parks, playgrounds, trails, clubhouses, farms, schools, shopping and entertainment and more in beautiful South Orange County.

The community of Rancho Mission Viejo currently includes villages of Sendero (sold out homes) and Esencia (homes now available for purchase.)

The hillside village of Esencia is the second village on The Ranch and is planned to inlcude 2,810 residential units. For more information visit

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Hello Shea! Minted Birth Announcements

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 Minted is a Long Time Sponsor + Links are Affiliate Links 

In today’s world of instantly gratifying Social Media we know immediately when a friend has had a baby by their Facebook and/or Instagram update –  it is so sweet when newborn babies are filling my feed!  I have to say, in this sea of online images I truly love when I receive an elegant piece of mail I can hold in my hands, boasting a photograph of a beautiful baby signed by the proud parents (and sometimes siblings).

The announcement feels grand, and important, and it makes me feel special that I was included on their list.

Minted Birth Announcements

So when Minted reached out to me and offered Minted birth announcements for our bouncing baby girl (#3) I was thrilled, of course!  Minted has the sweetest designs, and I love that each one is offered in different color options.  Some of my faves are So Much Love To GivePetite Measurements, and Fancy Floral Frame.

The high quality product consistently delivered by Minted is unparalleled.  Their card stock is the thickest.  And yes, thickness matters.

After much deliberation, I chose Watercolor Bunting Birth Announcements in pink since we had been “not finder outers” this time around.


We had pictures taken by the amazingly talented Kristin Eldridge– watching her mold our sweet baby Shea into adorable little poses, softly patting her back to sleep when she stirred was awe-inspiring.  I wanted to take Kristin home with me!  We are in love with the images she captured of our Shea-Bear, and even more so with photographs of all three of our little ladies.

It was a must to include the backing option with a photograph so I could include Shea’s proud big sisters as well.


The FREE recipient addressing is seriously a lifesaver for me right now.  I had entered all of our addresses into Minted’s Address Assistant for our Christmas cards this year and so when it came time to figure out our announcements it was SO EASY!

And, actually there have been multiples times I have referenced the Address Assistant from my phone when I’m out and about and need a friend’s address.  So very convenient!


I am so excited for these to fill the mailboxes of our friends and loved ones!

Minted Nursery Art 

Minted also offers gorgeous nursery wall art.  We have the most adorable photograph I wanted to put in Shea’s nursery of  Shea and her Great Grandma Theresa Shea Paoletti the day she came home from the hospital.

The grin on Great Grandmas face is priceless, and Minted had the PERFECT nursery art design called Colorful Stages which allowed me to use my photo and include a caption to share the special relationship of Great Grandma and her namesake.  Surrounded by the whitewashed herringbone frame, I am slightly OBSESSED.


Minted is always offering helpful stylized tips like their Gallery Wall How To on their homepage right now, which I have to say, I am in love with a well done gallery wall, but find the project intimidating.

Love a deal?  (Yeah, so do I!)  Minted is always running promo codes and sending out artsy inspiration so be sure to subscribe for their email updates at the bottom of their homepage.

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How to Make a Cozy Guest Bedroom

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[Disclosure: I am a Serta brand ambassador and am compensated for my participation in the program and have received complimentary products for review. Links in this post to Amazon and Land of Nod are affiliate links that help support my blog. Thank you!]

‘Tis the season for holiday travels and for some that means house guests so today’s post is about how to make a cozy guest bedroom.

Let’s face it, comfortable accommodations can really make a difference in the quality of your trip. A cozy guest bedroom will be greatly appreciated by your guests and score you big points.

So whether you embrace your house guests or count the hours until your home is back to yourself, I hope these tips help make preparing for house guests just a tad more fun.

10 Tips on How to Make a Cozy Guest Bedroom

How to create a cozy guest bedroom

1. A Comfortable Mattress

A comfortable bed is the absolute most important part of a cozy guest bedroom, because who cares if there is a fresh flower on the night stand if your guests toss and turn on a saggy, old mattress all night?

A bad night’s sleep can ruin your whole day, so I suggest investing in a quality mattress for your guest bedroom so your guests can get a good night’s sleep.  You can find good mattresses for surprisingly affordable prices. Serta’s Perfect Sleeper mattresses are a great choice for guest room – the perfect mix of affordable and comfortable.

_sites_1_tagrem_serta_uploads_ProductImages_smart-surface-elite_newfoundbay-spt_500x351_8f9b48c2647d7b74fbd19fc26086fe5c I would recommend putting in the biggest size mattress that makes sense in the space, ideally a queen or larger, for the most comfortable sleeping conditions for couples. A larger size mattress in guest rooms can also come in handy for sleepovers with kids.

2. Cozy Bedding

To go along with a comfortable mattress, you also need comfortable bedding to go with.  I suggest placing two sleeping pillows per side, one soft and one firmer, as many people have a preference on the firmness of their pillow.

Then use really lovely, soft sheets. These sheets are my fave, have used them for years. So soft. Also add an extra Plush Blanket to the foot of the bed or store in the closet in case your guests get chilly.


3. Put Out Fresh Towels and Washcloths

I think it’s lovely to provide a set of two bath towels, a hand towel and one washcloth per guest. I like to lay the towels out on the bed so that the guest knows those specific towels are meant for them.

4. Welcome Guests With a Note [Free Printable]

People often feel like they are intruding when they come to stay in your home, and no one likes to feel like they are a burden.  Make your house guests feel comfortable by putting a little note on their towels, bed or night stand to let them know you are happy they are there.

You can click here to download and print some cute welcome notes for house guests.

free printable welcome notes for guests

5. A Place for Luggage

It is a pet peeve of mine to have to ruffle through a duffel bag or suitcase on the floor to find things, so give your guests a place for their bags, at a comfortable height.  An empty chair can work, and if you don’t have the space, consider purchasing an affordable folding luggage rack.

I like a Folding Luggage Rack with Shelf <- like this so guests can store two bags, or even shoes down below. A folding one is great so you can fold and keep against a wall or in a closet when not in use.


6. Dark Shades and Privacy

When I travel, I love how dark it can get in a hotel room, so in our guest room, my husband installed a Blackout Roller Shade in made-to-measure sizes so the room stays super dark. Now, the kids waking up at 7am in the next room is another issue, but at least they won’t be awakened by the morning light.

You also want to make sure your room offers privacy for changing, so blinds of some sort are a must!

7. Extra Toiletries

You know that feeling when you go to a hotel and realize you forgot your floss or toothpaste? I collect little travel size toiletries and other items for display when guests visit so they will not have to go without a moisturized hands or God forbid, brushed teeth!

toiletry products for house guests

8. Reading Material 

Sometimes it’s nice to read a new magazine before you go to bed, so I installed a cute book rack to hold magazines next to our guest bed. It’s actually a children’s book rack – but works great for magazines too!


The reading material can be switched out depending on who is coming to visit.

guest bedroom book rack

9. Nightstand Goodies

No, not those kind of nightstand goodies, I am talking about a fresh flower and bottle of water people. Hee hee…

I love cutting a fresh flower from the yard and placing a single stem in a vase by the bed.  It is also nice to leave a bottle of water as well as a little container or place for women to put their jewelry.


 10. Personal Photos 

If you have guests or family that come often to stay in your guest bedroom, I think it’s nice to put framed pictures of those guests in the guest bedroom.

I blew up two prints and made them black and white and framed to put on top of these glass bookcases of two favorite memories we have with my in-laws and sister-in-law, the people who stay in our guest bedroom the most often.

black and white photos And those are my top 10 tips on how to make a cozy guest bedroom.

I would love to hear your ideas on things you do to make your house guests feel comfortable? Please comment and tell us!

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Our Homework Space

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Homework Station Ideas for Kids

This post is on homework station ideas for kids and the space we created for my oldest daughter last year when she was in first grade. It started with a little home office makeover (stay turned for another post to come) which gave me the idea (and some open space) to make a corner of our office into a little homework space for her.

I wanted to make her homework station cozy and colorful ~ a place she wanted to spend time in! Most of the items we got at IKEA because we were on a budget. You don’t have to spend a lot to create a fun little area like this.

She loved her own “home office” and I found it to be a great incentive to get her to do her homework.  Having her desk near mine worked out great, as she wanted to be close to me for questions, but had gotten old enough to do a lot of the work on her own. I think it also made her feel grown up to have her very own work area.

I captured the photo above one night as she was working away. The cuteness of her “studying” in her top knot hair and jammies got me! Here is a close up of our space…


Source List for our Homework Station

Desk: Stuva bench, IKEA, white 

Chair: Mammut children’s chair, IKEA, dark pink

Trash can: Filur bin with lid, IKEA, white

Hanging file holders on wall: Kvissle wall magazine rack, IKEA, white

Magnetic board: Spontan magnetic board, IKEA, white

Magnets: Spontan magnets, IKEA

Pencil Holder: Dokument pencil cup, IKEA, pink

Electric Pencil Sharpener: Staples Power Pro Electric Pencil Sharpener (don’t know why it took us so long to buy one of these – best thing ever – pick one up when you have a Kindergartener!)

File Folders: Kate Letter-Size Interior File Folders, Container Store

Striped Rug, Initials on Wall, Mirror & Canvas Print: TJ Maxx Home Goods

Lime Green Lamp: Target

Do any of you have a homework station or homework space for your kids? Any ideas to share?

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