Ellen’s Design Challenge

For those that don’t know, I work in the entertainment industry to pay the bills.  So I get super pumped when my world of interests collide – television, branding, and home design.  Such was the case with Ellen’s Design Challenge which premiered this past week on HGTV.



First off – Ellen.  Love her.  I think she is one of the funniest, most genuine women on TV so naturally I was stoked to have another reason to watch her.  The show is named after her, she’s in all the promos and marketing so she’d be a main part of the show, right?  Wrong.  She’s in one segment.  Where the contestants watch a clip of her on a TV.  Total snoozefest.

Ellen on TV


The format.  Totally Project Runway meets HGTV Design Star.  Pre-selected, talented contestants compete in unique furniture design challenges each week to prove who is the best.  You get the gist.  Design school graduates, self-made furniture builders, a FEMALE blacksmith (my favorite).



Casting was obviously done both for talent and reality TV drama because honestly, why else would you watch without at least one cat fight?!  I could list all their names here, but honestly,  no one stood out enough to remember.  Which is not good TV.

As the contestants have limited time to complete their challenges, they’re each given a carpenter to help execute their designs.



Here’s what really pulled me out – most of the carpenters are smaller, but recognizable HGTV personalities themselves.  This is never acknowledged.  It’s like they’re just your average carpenter found through the Yellow Pages.

The host.  Generic, mildly charismatic reality show type guy.  I do not even remember his name and you learn nothing about him.  He just directs the contestants where to look.

Host Jay Montepare


The judges.  Credit goes to HGTV execs for finding relevant, qualified judges for the competition: Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell Magazine.  She’s a little boring, but clearly knows her stuff and her expertise is appreciated.  She’s partnered with Christiane Lemieux, executive creative director of Wayfair.com, one of the show’s key sponsors.  Christiane is fairly expressive and entertaining to watch.



They also bring in a guest judge, Jason Chauncey of Brownstone Upholstery Inc.  Here’s my gripe about the guest judge – although I’m no design expert, I have NEVER heard of this guy. And if I haven’t, your average American viewer DEFINITELY has not heard of him. He was also a bit boring.  Where’s Nate Berkus?  Or Genevieve Gorder?  Granted, HGTV probably can’t afford these now uber-famous faces, but you need another hook to keep your viewer interested.  Thought – how about Ellen?!  It is her show and she was in very little of this first episode.  She may not be a design professional, but she’s certainly a lover of great design.  Her home has been featured in some of the best home decor magazines out there.  And she’s a recognizable face (THE face that many viewers tuned in for) which is key when you’re trying to find your audience for a new show.

Elle Decor Cover


Architectural Digest


The night’s challenge was to take a big, boring existing box consisting of wood, steel and plexi and repurpose it in to a design exemplary of the contestants’ style (total Project Runway unconventional challenge knock off).

Box Pre Makeover


The final designs – I was less than impressed.  We had one mid-century modern shelving system knock-off and a sculpturally beautiful chair that was under-appreciated by the judges.  There was also an entry table made by the blacksmith (she is so bad ass!) and the most boring wall shelving unit I’ve ever seen (she is annoying and should have been the first to go!).  Then there was the winner, a beautiful yet useful campaign desk made by the guy who, shocker, specializes in reclaimed materials.  (I’ve been scouring the internet for images of the finished products, but so far, nothing.  Will update as soon as they’re posted).

Lastly, I was fairly impressed with the brand integrations on the show.  So often shows like this can look like walking advertisements for Home Depot or Armstrong flooring.  But the Wayfair.com accessory wall was done very tastefully and they had a great interstitial ad just before you came back from one of the commercial breaks.  It showed you examples of the furniture created on the show and then cut to similar styles available for purchase.  It was a commercial, but tasteful (and hosted by judge Christiane.)

Wayfair Wall Background

(best shot of the Wayfair Wall I could find)

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in the show.  The previews for upcoming episodes look promising (and include Ellen in person) so I’ll keep watching.  But if the show doesn’t deliver, I can only last another episode or 2.  Three episodes of any new show is my limit; no one has time these days to waste on uninteresting television.

So there’s my rant.  What did you guys think?  Did anyone love it?  Are you going to keep watching?

Minted Is My Favorite Flavor

Artwork.  It’s a tough one to tackle.  It’s hard to justify the expense when you’re on a budget.  The usual haunts – Ikea, Target, World Market – you can’t rely on them for this category like you can for cheap accessories and fiscally-conscious furniture because no one wants to walk in to their aunt’s home and realize that Verna’s got the same fake painting over her couch as you.  Art stands out MUCH more than if you both, say, have the same Nate Berkus serving tray.

Usually I turn to Etsy, but let’s be honest, their site has become such a HUGE place for artists, that it’s often difficult to find something if you’re just in a browsing kind of mood.  It’s great if you know what you want, but what if you just want to peruse or are in the mood to maybe discover some new artists you never would have stumbled upon on your own?

Etsy 4 Million

4 MILLION options!

Enter MINTED.  They recently contacted me about checking out their site.  And I can honestly say with 120% certainty – WOW.  It’s an incredible resource for independent artists to showcase their work as well as us design-savvy folks looking for a bargain on an original piece.

Minted to the rescue

But it’s not just pretty pictures you guys – Minted has a TON of categories to offer, all created and curated by these lesser known, but oh-so-talented artists.  You’ve got your basic photos, paintings, etc. but you can also get custom art, unique stationary (including wedding invites and their latest addition: Save-the-Dates), fabric and home decor!  Had I discovered them a month ago, I totally would have ordered my holiday cards through them.  And honestly it was only a matter of time before I stumbled upon them on my own.  So in the vain of trying to provide you guys with new, exciting suggestions for decorating on a budget, I decided to give them a whirl.

As my apartment is really coming along and I rarely use stationary, I decided to focus on artwork for my much-needed, very bare walls.  After a little perusing I found the best part about the site (aside from the actual artwork) – if you find a print you like, they offer a TON of moderately priced, custom framing options.  No worrying about sorting through a crate of frames to find an un-dinged simple black number from Ikea!

Frame Options

Ladies and gents – you can now order custom-framed artwork from the comfort of your couch, in your matching flannel jammies, ON A BUDGET!  Not that I did that or anything….(yes, I was wearing the matching set version of this while watching the first episode of Agent CarterHayley Atwell, I want to be you when I grow up.)

So what caught my eye?  There were LOTS of options, many more modern than others.  My favorites weren’t necessarily Jefe’s favorites so I had to compromise.  I did end up selecting two photos, one that was perfect for framing in the kitchen and another one without a frame because it reminded me of home just too much to pass up.

Bottles with Frame

Open Door

(I ordered this one without the frame, but left on here to show the edges)

And who can turn down a stunning black & white photo for $20?!  I also decided to test out some of their other categories, so I picked up this new notebook for the office.

Arrow Journal

Overall, the site was super easy to use.  You can customize your searches based on style, shape, type, and color of the artwork.  They also have curated sections that include limited edition pieces.  Also most of the artwork can be shipped in multiple sizes which is great if you find something but are looking to fill wall space that is slightly smaller or larger than the original piece.  Once you select the art, you have ELEVEN different frame options including such awesome styles as reclaimed barn wood, whitewashed herringbone, and my personal favorite: distressed indigo stain.   I did, however, notice that for certain photos or artwork, certain framing options weren’t available, yet that same frame was for other photos.  Not sure what that was about.

Minted Frame Options

As my selected photo was intended for the kitchen, I knew I had to chose a frame wisely.  The distressed indigo stain was coincidentally a PERFECT match to my Melrose Trading Post chalkboard in the kitchen.  That alone was totally worth the cost and honestly, you’d pay just as much for a nicer frame from Aaron Brothers that you have to insert the image (with no matte) yourself.

The first item, the notebook, arrived about 5 days after I placed the order.  Apparently they ship as each piece is ready.

Minted Notebook 1

Minted Notebook 2

Minted Notebook 3

Minted Notebook 4

A week later I got my framed photo and was pleasantly surprised with how thorough the packaging was.  No doubt that it could have been thrown around and jostled heavily and it would have stayed in perfect condition.

Minted Packaging 2

Minted Thank You

And it came with a thank you note and free gift tags!  (Although I’m not sure why I got holiday ones since I order these pieces in January.)

Minted Thanks and Tags

I’m still waiting on the black & white photo, but I wasted no time in getting the other one hung.  My one gripe is that they pre strung the frame for hanging, only allowing me to hang vertically.


Now I know certain photographers and artists will say that they did that so the image can be hung as the artist intended HOWEVER not everyone abides by that.

Framed Photo

The photo I chose for framing I specifically wanted to hang horizontally to better fill the wall space I had intended for it to be placed.  I am not a fan of not at least being presented with the OPTION.  Now as Minted prides itself on supporting independent artists, I get that they strung the image as it was intended.  But that was not my intention when I bought it.  So they lose a point for that one.  They gain back a point for the sheer quality of work:


Now for the grand reveal in our kitchen!

Minted in the Kitchen

Minted in the Kitchen 2

Minted in the Kitchen 3

I love the image and think that combined with the frame are perfect for the little nook above my stove. However, I wish I would have gone a size bigger.  Regardless, I still love the photo and am so happy with Minted’s service.  I will definitely be using them again.

And just for comparison, my Minted frame’s detail:

Minted Frame Detail

And our our chalkboard.  Very happy accident.  (And yes, Jefe’s aware that it’s his turn to change the message on the board….)


So head on over to Minted and get yourself some art!  Or stationary!  Or anything really!  And they’re currently offering 15% off Valentine’s Day cards with code HEART as well as 20% off foil art and Valentine’s Day cards with code FOILLOVE!

Home Sweet Home

Christmas decorations always give any apartment that extra homey factor that many of our starter (or 2nd or 3rd or 4th) apartments are generally lacking.  I’m pretty proud of how cozy and “at-home” I felt with our home this holiday season – we thoroughly decorated and made merry with lots of friends of 3 different occasions, filling our home with not just holiday cheer but memories.  Now that the decorations are down and our place seems to be lacking in that “je ne sais quoi”, it got me to thinking about what really makes a house (or apartment) a home.

Living Room - Jan 2014

Our current living room

I’ve lived in LA for 7.5 years now and I can honestly say that Jefe and my’s current apartment is the first one that really felt like home.  When you live 3,000 miles from your nearest and dearest and are living on a limited budget, finding a place where you feel at home, especially in the urban sprawl that is the greater LA metropolis can be very difficult.  It’s taken me 7 years.  Now that’s not to say that it will take everyone that long, but it might.  So how do you combat that nomadic feeling that your “domicile,” for lack of a better word, just feels temporary?  That it’s not just a white box where you spend the hours you’re not in the office?

Croft Ave Apt - Moving Out Day

Our last place (aka – “The Big White Box”) on moving day

The first thing that is most important is the bare bones.  The physical space itself.  When home hunting, you need to think about:

a) Budget.  This is obviously you’re starting point.  What can you afford?  And is that number really what you want to spend?  Or would you rather go a little lower so you have extra cash for things like drinks with friends?  (Or if you’re like me, for Sallie Mae….)

b) Location.  Your neighborhood is a real contributing factor to your overall happiness.  My first place in LA was near USC, just off-campus while I was in grad school.  I quickly learned that I was on the WRONG SIDE of “off-campus”.  I couldn’t go out after dark by myself, neighbors were not friendly, and nothing was walkable.  It also lacked quite a few amenities both in the unit and nearby.  No one wants to have to drive 45 minutes in LA traffic to get to a Target.

My USC Hood

My former USC Hood – Its not too bad in the daylight…

c) Features.  What’s important to  you to have in your home?  Do you despise dishes and absolutely must have a dishwasher?  Or do you value a guaranteed parking spot at the end of a long day?  Make a list of your absolute must-haves.  And no, a girl (or guy) on a budget may NOT put “walk-in closet” as a must.  They don’t exist on a budget.  If you’re lucky enough to find one, you hold on to that unicorn because they are very few and far between.

My unicorn - Current Walk In Closet

Our Unicorn – The walk-in closet in our current place before we moved in

Now, make your list of “it’d be nice to have’s”.  Things like a washer & dryer in-unit.  Central AC.  A fireplace.  Once you have both of your lists and your budget, you’re ready to start your search.

The Search – I love looking at apartment listings as I’m always intrigued by architecture and design.  But you may not be like Sledge so you’re not inclined to just ALWAYS be looking at places.  But I do recommend that you start early.  Months in advance.  You never know what you’ll find and how long it will take.  Example: last summer Jefe and I briefly discussed looking for a bigger apartment.  We were outgrowing our 1 bedroom with open floor plan but we weren’t in any rush as our lease was month to month.  So I casually started doing my research as to what was available within our budget in our desired area.

Doing your research will help you set realistic expectations and ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.  In our case, I found a place rather quickly that from my research told me was a steal for the price with everything it had to offer.  Although Jefe and I didn’t think we were quite ready to move as we had hoped to have some more time to save up, the apartment was too perfect of a fit for our needs to pass up.  We had to rearrange a few things financially to make it work, but in the long run, we’re now in a place we can call home for the foreseeable future.  It’s somewhere we can just BE for awhile and feel settled.

So how did I find it?  Each city has it’s on idiosyncrasies when it comes to apartment hunting.  For example, in LA, Craigslist is a fairly safe bet up to a certain price point.  Once you start looking for nicer, better maintained units particularly on the westside, you may want to consider purchasing a monthly membership to Westside Rentals for the duration of your search.  Certain landlords ONLY post on that site in an effort to attract the right type of tenants (reliable with a steady income above a certain threshold).  I would only recommend this if you’ve gone the Craigslist route and have continually come up empty-handed.  What’s $50 if it leads you to the right place that will save you money in the long run?

Westside Rentals

I can’t speak to other cities, but I do know what a BEAST apartment hunting can be in New York.  I’ve never done it myself and from friends’ horror stories, I think I’m quickly aging out of my desire to move to the isle of Manhattan.  It’s like the Hunger Games out there.  And don’t even get me started on broker fees.  So what’s a single gal in the city to do?  I’ve only heard one success story of someone finding a place via Craigslist.  It was in Harlem but I’m still skeptical it was as easy as a simple Craigslist search; there had to have been a catch, right?!

So do you just ask for a trusted friend’s broker info?  That option gets pricey VERY quick.  But word on the street is that there’s hope.  Now I’ve never used the service myself, but for those of you longing for a shoebox to call your own in the concrete jungle of New York, there’s a new startup that I hear is doing wonders for the way Manhattanites apartment hunt.  Urban Compass, recently profiled by Bloomberg and TechCrunch, is trying to change the game.  I’ve played around with the search functions and have to say it’s definitely worth checking out if you find yourself searching in NYC.  The best part is you can easily focus your search on specific neighborhoods.

Urban Compass

In general though, apartment hunting can suck.  But by doing your homework, you can hopefully find a place to call home sooner rather than later.  Some things I looked for during this last round of hunting:

  • Lots of natural light – I’ve lived in a cave-like space before.  No fun.
  • Original hardwood floors – They give a space character and add warmth.
  • A more house-like layout – This is one of the biggest factors to making our current place feel less like an apartment and more like a private house.
  • Architecture features – These are obviously not necessities, but really can give a place character.  Archways, built-in bookshelves and fireplace mantles (regardless of whether you can actually light a fire) go a long way to making a place feel less like a cookie-cutter white box.
  • Open mind – This isn’t so much something I looked for but something I tried to keep.  No space will be perfect unless you build it from scratch.  So, if an apartment is 99% perfect, think about how you can take that imperfect 1% and make it work.  Example 1: how can you minimize that horrid, pink bathroom tile to make it livable?  Get a larger shower curtain, hang the tension rod higher off the ground and more of the tile will be covered!  Example 2: Hate those gilded brass kitchen knobs?  That’s an easy fix with a trip to Home Depot for a value pack of brushed silver handles.

Once you’ve found your place with the right bare bones, it’s on to the fun part – decorating!  But we’ll save that for another time.

Home Sweet Home

Happy New Year

Happy New Year friends!  I hope everyone had a restful and relaxing holiday.  I’m still nursing my second cold in the last 3 weeks so it’s been slow going on the restart here at Chez Sledge.

What is it about the last 2 Decembers that they just flew by?  Another holiday season, I blinked, and next thing you know Jefe and I are hauling our sad, dry skeleton of a Christmas tree to the curb for recycling. We had all sorts of plans this year, most of which we accomplished.  It did, however, leave little time for blogging.  So here’s a little recap of the Holidays with Sledge:

Black Friday – Jefe and I continued our tradition for the 5th year in a row of braving the masses at Disneyland.  It truly is the happiest place on Earth and best place to start getting in to the holiday spirit.  Everything is covered in lights, ornaments and general festiveness.  This year we decided to try out a few new restaurants as we’ve done all of the rides so many times.

After watching CHEF, we were craving beignets and heard raves about those shaped like a Mickey at Cafe Orleans.  Our lunch was delicious, especially Jefe’s Croque Monsieur, but we were left so full that there was no room for beignets.  Sad Mickey :-(.

For dinner we trekked over to California Adventure to Carthay Circle.  It looked like something you’d find in Beverly Hills in the 1920’s.  Just a stunning combination of art deco meets spanish mission.  And the food was good enough to rival any trendy restaurant in Weho.

Disneyland - Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Disneyland - Jefe & Sledge


The next day we piled in the car and headed to our favorite tree lot to pick this year’s winning Noble Fir.  After little deliberation, we decided on the fullest pine tree I have ever tried to decorate.  He stood about 7 feet tall.  We debated whether we could have gone taller, but the 8-9 foot Firs were not looking nearly as Noble.

Chauvet Farms Tree Stand - Culver City

The Noblest of Firs

We invited Jefe’s parents over that night to help decorate and quickly realized that next year, we can definitely go with a taller tree thanks to our 9-foot high ceilings, but I’m still more than pleased with this year’s selection.

Holiday Coffee Spread


A holiday coffee spread to invigorate for tree decorating!

So the next 24 hours we spent decking the halls.  The only new addition to this year’s festive artillery was a $2.99 traditional star tree topper from Ikea and a few ornaments from Disneyland.

Morning Coffee Done Right

Hines Ward Ornament!


Xmas Tree 2014






More Nutcrackers



Holiday Cards


Little Village

The following weekend Jefe and I jetted off to New York to celebrate my birthday and decorate tree #2, Jefe’s brothers.  We did it last year and it was so fun to be able to continue the tradition this year.  I also managed to drag Jefe to the ballet for the first time to see “The Nutcracker” at Lincoln Center, did some holiday sight-seeing, did an awesome #museumhack tour of the Met and caught up with my high school friend Beth!

The Met

NY Public Library Lions

Rockefeller Tree

The ballet!

SM #1 and #2

This brings us to mid-December already!  After 5 months of living in our new place, we finally decided to host a housewarming / holiday / birthday party.  Things were a little harried prepping for guests so I didn’t manage to get any photos but I can say that Trader Joe’s can make a mean appetizer.  You really can fool anyone in to thinking something was homemade when it’s fresh out of the oven and artfully displayed on a Santa platter.  I’m pretty sure 95% of the food we offered came from TJ’s.  Seriously, it’s the best way to host – no cooking, just artful arrangements.


Falalala sign courtesy of Oh Joy!’s line at Target

By the following week, Jefe and I were packing our bags to head back east.  Within the span of 7 days, we slept in 5 beds and traveled via UBER, plane, train and mom’s automobile.  We made merry in Los Angeles, Lancaster and Tyrone, PA and New York City.  It was quite the whirlwind.

Family Cousins

Cousins reunion in Tyrone, PA

Jefe & I Xmas Eve 2014

Jefe & I on Christmas Eve

Casey & his Elf

My brother Casey and his “elf on a shelf” (our nephew Raylen)

And here’s a little tour of my mom’s place all decked out.  I get the Christmas love honestly…

Mom's Dining Room

No fireplace means stockings go on the chairs :-D

Mom's - Dining Room

I love me a good tartan tablecloth!

Mirror on display

I love this old window-turned-mirror.  Wouldn’t be Xmas without some lit garland though.

Mom's Xmas Tree 2014

Excuse the lack of focus.  This was prior to 9am and I hadn’t had ANY coffee yet….

And some of Christmas in NY (Jefe was so bummed he missed the Met #museumhack tour, we went again!):

The Met - Again!

30 Rock

Time Warner Center

And then I caught the plague which had me laid up on my mother’s couch for the next 5 days.  New Years Eve was spent with my family, one good friend who braved my contagion thanks to a hearty dose of antibiotics, and a piping hot mug of green tea.  No champe this year for the Champe Champ.

Then Jefe and I headed back to LA where we undecked the halls and dragged our poor tree out to the curb.  Nothing makes me sadder than seeing Christmas trees on the side of the road.  Their time is so short….

Packing Up

Leftover Candy Canes

We have a lot of candy canes to get through in January….

Boy and his toys

Jefe got distracted from un-decorating by a Christmas present…

And to wrap it all up, one final shot of our beautiful tree of 2014:

Christmas Tree 2014

All About the Bass

After editing multiple of Sledge’s posts and being mentioned numerous times in each post…its come time to contribute myself to Sledgehammer with Style. As Sledge has told you, we moved into our new place in July and have been slowly working on each room in between our jobs and trips east to see family and friends. As Sledge has been focused on finding solutions for the incredible lack of counter space in the kitchen as well as focusing on planning out a solution for turning our 2nd bedroom into an office space for both of us (ok maybe it’s a little more for me), I have been focused on finding an affordable home speaker solution.

We are an Apple house first and foremost so we rely heavily on iTunes for our music needs, though Pandora is also frequently used and I subscribe to the Beats Music subscription service. So whether Sledge and I are looking to listen to the latest from Mumford & Sons or a Beats-curated “Best of the 90s Hip-Hop” playlist, we were focused on finding a quality speaker solution. For our previous apartments, we relied on using a Jambox by Jawbone or the bluetooth functionality of our Samsung soundbar in the living room.

Mini Jambox

Mini Jambox

For the most part, these solutions worked great, but as we moved into our more spacious apartment, we found ourselves wanting a solution for the office, kitchen and living room. Initially we relied on a Mini Jambox for the 2nd bedroom; this worked but like most people, we keep most of our music on phones so when we get calls the music stops and the Mini Jambox would turn into an awkward “experience” of using a speaker phone we never intended to while trying to disconnect the phone to take the call with greater ease.

Mini Jambox vs Sonos Play:1

Mini Jambox versus Sonos Play:1 speakers

The Mini Jambox did offer a high level of ease/convenience albeit at the expense of an optimal sound experience. The speaker is small, portable, includes a rechargeable battery, offers decent sound, connects via bluetooth, retails for only $130 and is easily controlled by your phone/tablet (iOS or Android). That’s a tough value proposition to beat.

Over the Christmas holidays last year, my brother was raving about (and showing off) his new Sonos sound system that he purchased for their 3 bedroom place in New York. Trouble was, the full system in all its glory (e.g., soundbar, subwoofer, two additional speakers for the bedrooms, etc.) can run $1,500+ depending on how you personalize it.

The major upside with Sonos is that it offers a full home music solution that allows you to play the same music throughout your home as well as isolate music to individual rooms. In doing some more research, I discovered the very well reviewed Sonos Play:1 speaker, priced at $199. In a recent trip to Best Buy (I was contemplating getting another Mini Jambox for the bedroom), I noticed an open-box Sonos Play:1 speaker on sale for $178 in the home theater section.

Sonos Play:1 Open Box from Best Buy

Sonos Play:1 Open Box from Best Buy

Given the modest price differential (vs. a Mini Jambox) and Best Buy noting on the box that the speaker had “No Damage,” I decided to give Sonos a try.

Sonos, as of September, gives you two options to setup a wireless speaker system. Via your home wi-fi network or through setting up a separate dedicated Sonos wireless network. I initially setup the speaker in our 2nd bedroom (aka “the office”) and was able to easily connect it to our home wi-fi network. I thought the office would prove to be an adequate test for the Play:1 speaker as we previously used a Mini Jambox here for our music needs and, with it being a decent sized room, would require a superior music solution. Similar to other consumer/tech site reviews, Sledge and I were admittedly very impressed with the performance of the Play:1.

Sonos Play:1 speaker in 2nd Bedroom

Sonos Play:1 speaker in 2nd Bedroom

The speaker is small enough to easily sit on top of the Ikea Expedit shelving unit we have our 32” TV on and fill the room with music.

Since our initial Play:1, we have purchased two more Play:1 speakers, also open box from Best Buy. We placed a white one in the kitchen, which we use a lot in the mornings and while Sledge or I cook in the evenings.

Sonos Play:1 Kitchen

White Sonos Play:1 in Kitchen

We placed the second speaker in the living room on a bookshelf (which allows it to serve as a much needed bookend), to offer us a modified “full home solution.”

Play:1 in Living Room


Play:1 on Living Room Bookshelf

The Sonos Controller App for iOS and Android works perfectly to allow us to play music from various music services like Pandora, Songza, Beats Music, as well as our iTunes Music on our iPhones and iPads. We have also elected to change the speaker setup: we now use the dedicated Sonos wireless network through connecting the Play:1 in the office directly into our wireless router.

Play:1 Dedicated Network

Overall, we have been pleased and highly recommend the Sonos Play:1 speaker to anyone looking for a home solution that offers a superior audio experience to the Mini Jambox or similar bluetooth speakers. There are tradeoffs, as the Play:1 is meant to be stationary and needs to be plugged into a wall outlet versus having a rechargeable battery, but we have been very happy with the overall performance of the speakers. In addition, through buying “open box” speakers at Best Buy we were able to outfit our place with 3 Play:1 speakers for less than $550 all-in.

Office Redesign

Last week I gave you a little preview of our office and today I’d thought I’d share the full plan and a little DIY!

For starters, gaining this space when we moved was a huge stress reliever.  Jefe works from home a fair amount so he needs a quiet space to take those 6am calls with his East Coast colleagues.  Our last place, although it boasted an open floor plan, left a lot to be desired if you needed your own, private space.  It made Jefe’s working from home and my keeping up with yoga near impossible because let’s be honest – I love him, but I’d rather he not stare when I’m going from downward dog into ANY other pose.

So – new room means new space to decorate.  As the space will primarily be for him despite my push to make it a craft room, I decided to focus the design around the few items he’s already got that he wants displayed… and I’d prefer they’re not sitting in our living room.  So thanks to shelves and shelves of bobbleheads and mini helmets, I’m aiming for an old world study with splashes of vintage sports paraphernalia.

The room is still a serious work in progress, but here’s where we stand:


Current Office View #2

Current Office View #3

Current Office View #4

And where I hope to be:
Mood Board for our new office space - Nov 2014

Last weekend we picked up a Kallax at Ikea to replace that sad and lonely bookshelf along the wall with our diplomas.  It will give us space to finally set up our scanner, spread out our books (pulling a few from the full shelves in the living room) and accessorize a bit.  Hoping to have that built before Jefe gets home from a work trip on Friday!

While flea marketing a few weeks ago, Jefe also mentioned he’d be open to a new desk so I’ve got my eye on a few contenders; I’d still like something large enough that we each can have our own area, so I’m thinking an old dining table.  It will give a vintage feel while still providing a long, open workspace.

The rest of the mood board is fairly self-explanatory (and I’m getting a little wordy), so time for the promised DIY!

When we first moved and established this as the office, Jefe mentioned getting a dry erase board.  But why buy a boring, sterile looking thing from Office Depot when I can whip one up in a flash?  I saw this and knew it’d be a cinch….

Dry Erase Board


Famous last words.  I knew you could use dry erase markers on glass, so I immediately thought of just buying a huge frame with an edge we liked.  Then I’d slip some paper or fabric behind the glass to give it some added character.

Flash forward to his birthday, I got the genius idea to paint behind the glass with Benjamin Moore’s new Fenway Collection.  Nothing but Green Monster Green for my Jefe.  Well, apparently they don’t sell a New England baseball team inspired paint collection west of the Mississippi.  So after many phone calls to 20+ paint stores, I found one that called BMoore’s headquarters, got the color formula, and custom created it for me.  For those that would love to avoid this hassle, here’s the color formula:

Benjamin Moore Green Monster Color Formula

Benjamin Moore Green Monster

The rest was, in fact, fairly easy.  I picked up some matte board that had a bit of texture to it and just slapped a few even coats of the paint on it.  I could have painted directly on the back side of the glass, but wanted the option to be able to swap it out if Jefe ever got tired of the green.

Benjamin Moore Green Monster

Benjamin Moore Green Monster

Once dry, I slipped the matte board inside the frame and voila!  Instant, custom dry erase board.

Dry Erase Board Preview

I considered painting “Fenway Park” in white like it is on the scoreboard of the ACTUAL Green Monster, but second guessed myself.  Luckily, Jefe likes it better this way and we can always add it later if he changes his mind.

Green Monster

And for those still reading, I have some exciting news!  Jefe has taken it upon himself to prep a blog post for you guys!  Can’t wait to share it with you all in the coming weeks!