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Well as everyone knows, today and tomorrow are Amazon Prime days, so there are lots of discounts happening online. I thought today the perfect day to share my best purchases from Amazon in the last year.

I’ve returned a few things to Amazon when the quality is poor or the item isn’t what was advertised. I shop for most of my skin care and travel accessories on Amazon, and I’ve been very pleased with, and made a lot of repeated purchases of these favorites!

Skincare

I haven’t found a better daily moisturizer + sunscreen for my face than the Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery. I’m in my forties and this product is really wonderful, a little pricey, but it has broad spectrum 50 spf coverage and is also not too thick, it has a lovely soft consistency to it. I use the Eva Naturals Retinol Serum at night 3-4 times a week, its Vitamin E + Hyaluronic Acid formula has anti-aging properties.

The TruSkin Vitamin C + Vitamin E Serum wakes up my skin in the morning. And twice a week I use the Australian Pink Clay Mask for deep cleansing, it has a nice feel and pleasant smell. My 15 year old daughter uses it too for her acne prone skin.

Favorite Oils

I’ll admit it, I’ve become addicted to oils. Not the essential blend kits from one company, no I’m referring to my own curated collection that I’ve fallen in love with over the years. I love all of these so much for different reasons.

First, the Suki Nourishing Facial Oil feels sooo good on tired skin especially in the morning or after a late night out. I love the Majestic Pure Arnica Sore Muscle Oil after a workout & shower, this is also nice for massage for sore neck or back!

The Ancient Greek Remedy Oil is a huge favorite of mine for allover body, and I also use it once a week (12-15 drops) as a hair mask. It has an amazing smell. I always use this Dry Oil Sunscreen on exposed arms and shoulders whenever I leave the house, it adds a little more protection to my first layer of sunscreen and has a great coconut smell, and people often tell me “You smell like the beach!”

Hair Products

My hair is very thin, it has been all my life, and I’ve always struggled with how to make it look fuller. I really like this Biotin Shampoo and Cel Strengthening Conditioner for daily use. I never use products like mousse or hairspray, but this Dry Volume Blast is AMAZING and it’s the only product I’ve found (and used for three years) that gives my hair lift and doesn’t weigh it down.

Travel

This Tripod + Selfie stick with Bluetooth is compact and the best tool for traveling. You can mount your phone and take pictures with the Bluetooth setting on the tripod or with a simple click as a selfie stick, I carry it whenever I’m traveling or out and about. For European travel, I bring this Adaptor + USB Charger so I can work on a laptop and charge my phone at the same time.

I’m a fan of these Waterproof Phone Pouches for going to the beach, the river, or the lake! Anytime I’m near water I always have one with me, you can take pictures or videos while your phone is safely tucked inside. And I’ve mentioned before in my long distance flight necessities article that I’m a big fan of this washable Trtl Neck Support Travel Pillow, it’s like a neck brace & scarf together and it supports my head so I can catch some ZZZs on a long plane flight.

Find all of these recommended purchases (and many more of my favorite purchases like this super cute summer top and the best winter beanie) in my Amazon Shop which I update every month!

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Happy Sunday friends. It just dawned on me that summer is half over. Noooo! It’s so nice having lazy mornings with no schedule, no rush, I have the house to myself in the mornings when my teens are sleeping. They wander downstairs groggy from sleep around 11 or so and eat their breakfast in the middle of the day. I love it.

I’m home for the remainder of the summer, but then I’m off on another international adventure in August. One of my friend’s relatives is getting married in Cusco, and we’ve been invited to attend the wedding. An authentic Peruvian wedding! I am so very excited to see Lima and Machu Picchu, it’s been on my bucket list for years! Send me tips if you’ve ever been to the area. Like, how did you handle the altitude?

Favorite links from the week:

I want to move into this renovated and simply decorated studio in Lisbon.

Wow, now that is a stunning kitchen backsplash.

So beautiful, this layered modern Mediterannean home by Amber Interiors.

Oh my gorgeousness: the colors and setting of this Lake Como wedding.

If you could use an extra room, take a look at these portable DROP structures.

20 busy creatives share their time saving work hacks.

Reasons why everyone’s going to the moon again.

3 choices you’ll regret making a decade from now.

Ha ha, awkward date stories are the best.

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A reader inquired about my sources for the fabrics in my client’s dining nook which prompted today’s post. We ordered her cushion and pillows from Cushion Source and I’m very happy with their quality.

fabrics shown: coliseum / shibori net / pebbles

We used a Sunbrella navy fabric for the seat cushion, but she plans to swap the pillows out with the seasons so for those we used indoor use fabrics. Custom cushions are an investment but one that will last for years to come if you choose sun safe durable fabrics.

house beautiful

I stitched up a DIY simple sew window cushion seat years ago, that’s a handy tutorial if you sew, however if you don’t own a sewing machine these are some additional online sources for having custom cushions made for window seats.

All sources have extensive fabrics available in house, however if you’ve got your heart set on a particular print, most allow COM (customer’s own material) to be used for custom cushions.

If you have any additional sources that you’ve used, please share in the comments!

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Before school starts, I’m building a wall of shelving for my teens, and so I dove deep into the countless options available to analyze what would work best. I may settle on a series of simple ladder shelves like these, but I’m also considering the idea of constructing something unique. Naturally, one turns to Pinterest for inspiration. :)

I stumbled across a lot of beautiful shelving ideas from retail boutiques all across the world. You’ll notice so many of them feature white walls with pale wood shelving, a trend in residential design as well. The combo feels fresh but also allows the merchandise to take the spotlight, just as a similar combination of pale wood and white in the home keeps the focus on artwork or decor.

These retail shops showcase all the beautiful ways to display products, but note that similar looks can be created in residential homes as well. I love the brass supports that sit on top of the low minimalist cabinetry in this salon, with natural wood floating shelves running along the wall.

Facile Skin via My Domaine

I knew this shop looked familiar because I was in it just last year during my long weekend in Seattle. This is more of a farmhouse style, notice the beauty of the contrast between the black pipe shelves against the whitewashed tongue and groove backdrop.

via remodelista

Here’s an interesting idea, install taller wood cabinets on the bottom, shorter matching drawers in the middle, and a series of open white cubbies above. Envision a similar setup in a home office or pantry. If you like the look of cabinets below and shelves above, IKEA’s SVALNÄS system is one to consider.

 

  via hey gents

Another great look: black pole supports and natural wood floating shelves. This setup would be great for a family room or study, and imagine varying the heights of the shelves for creative displays.

via tea cup tea

This construction drew my eye, it’s a series of notched 2×2 boards, it reminds me a little of Lincoln Logs. The spaces between the supports make room for a variety of storage boxes or cubbies.

via archilovers

Yet another beautiful use of wood and white together, the metal forms the frame and the arbitrary wood boxes make the display warm and interesting.

 

via bertrand guillion architecture

I love this clever shelving in a housewares store, two shelves suspended from the ceiling with metal supports and the lowest shelf on rolling casters.

via the design files

Here’s another use of poles as bracket supports, the wood provides a contrast to the stark white and cement wall, and the poles also draw the eye up to elongate the space.

This is a pet food store display with repeating wood rectangles in various sizes pieced together. Imagine customizing a series of cubbies like this in a kid’s room, or perhaps a sunroom for your plant collection?

via trendland

A retail shop in London uses suspended rope shelving to display its goods, a look easily recreated in the home as a DIY project.

via sofillium

Home goods displayed in industrial metal shelves have countryside casual style. Find a similar and affordable shelving unit for the home here.

via remodelista

One can never go wrong with a wall of black metal supports with wood shelves. Find this combination in a home goods store in St.Kilda, Victoria, Australia.

via the design files

 

source unknown

Last but not least… classic brass shelving like the ones in this skincare boutique in Brussels. The brass poles and caps add that elegant French flair.

via refinery 29

For those who love to look inside shops, check out The Shopkeepers blog, it features the best from all over the world.

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Happy weekend everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the Fourth of July festivities wherever you were. I was in Las Vegas with family and friends but I also had a big job to do. We sold the house we owned since 2013, the home we remodeled top to bottom and held onto for a few years to let it appreciate in value.

The house was furnished because we would stay there a few times a year and entertain friends, so we had to tackle the headache of getting rid of furniture, moving out, and preparing it for new ownership. It reminded me how much I *hate* moving, it’s exhausting. But I also felt so much gratitude all week for the memories shared there and all the families and friends we hosted over the years. It’s the end of an era but I’ll be looking for a new investment property soon! Currently keeping my eye on Lake Tahoe… I’ve always wanted to fix up a little cabin in the mountains!

Favorite links from the week:

Find stunning interiors + seamless indoor outdoor flow in this California custom home.

So charming and kid friendly, this Byron Bay beach house renovation.

Relieve stress in one of Sweden’s 72 hour glass cabins.

11 companies that sell alternative door options for IKEA kitchen cabinets.

Oak bathroom and kitchen cabinets looking so good in this parade of homes.

Drone killers and the new war in the sky.

“Not like the other girls.”

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*in partnership with Milgard

I’ve been working with a client for almost a year on a full scale remodel. It’s remarkable how this home has changed from a dark and run down home to a fresh and functional abode that suits her lifestyle. When she came to me, overwhelmed, at the beginning stage of her renovation, I asked her in her initial interview what were the things she wanted most and of her biggest requests was more natural light. We got right to work with a new architectural plan to achieve her wish in every way possible.

Her home is a traditional San Francisco zero lot line structure, meaning the sides of the neighboring homes are so close they can reach out and touch the wall of their neighbor’s home. This placement does not allow for any light coming into the home on either side, only through the front and back spaces. It required a special strategy with the architectural design to reorient the location of spaces so that the most amount of natural light comes into her home in the spaces where she craves it most.

This is her newly furnished dining nook, flooded with sunlight, and it’s where she enjoys morning coffee, meals, wine in the evening, and catching up on social media.

 

For her home’s renovation we chose vinyl windows from the Milgard Tuscany® Series. The wider frame profile maximizes natural light and her view of her rear yard. SmartTouch® locks make her windows easy to open and because of their design, she knows just by looking when it is locked. There is no “before” picture to share because what was here before was a closet and dark narrow hall, but not anymore! Now it’s a bright and airy nook with a pass through to her rear deck. The natural light that floods the space has made it her favorite space in the home!

There are several benefits that come from the strategic placement of new windows in a renovation or new build to add more natural light. Today I’ve partnered with Milgard Windows & Doors to share a few!

Improves Mood

Natural light is one of the most popular requests in new homes and renovations for good reason. Exposure to natural light improves health because it’s a huge mood booster. Think about it. Whenever you’re tired or unproductive or grumpy, often it’s a lack of natural light in your day. Natural light triggers the production of serotonin, the brain chemical that makes you feel happy. Just sitting next to a window feeling the light as it enters a space lifts the spirits and improves anyone’s mood. It’s why tables next to a window are the ones requested when people dine in restaurants, and why window offices are more sought after than cubicles in the workplace.

Adds Value

In the architectural plan, we situated this south east facing bathroom to allow for plenty of morning light. Milgard offers obscure glass which we used in the horizontal slider in the shower to allow for natural illumination during morning preparation, something all women crave! The addition of this window reduces the need for artificial light during daylight hours.

 

Physiological Boost

Circadian rhythms are present in all of us, that natural 24 hour cycle which tells us when to sleep and when to wake up. Screens and artificial light interrupt our body’s rhythm, but natural light does the opposite, it helps regulate our biological clock.

We are modulated by external cues that come from sunlight. Exposing ourselves to light in the morning helps us to wake naturally and resets our circadian rhythm. Natural light in the morning signals your body that it’s time to be awake and as the sun sets, our bodies relax and settle into rest mode as part of our sleep-wake cycle. Our internal clock is timed much like a wristwatch when we’re regularly exposed to natural light.

Financial Savings

If your home is dark you use more hours of artificial light to brighten it up so it makes sense that adding more natural light to your home with new windows cuts down on the amount of time you need your artificial lights to be on. New windows and doors are long-term investment but one where you can reap the above mentioned benefits too! Milgard’s energy efficient windows are tailored to fit your climate, local codes, and green building standards to control temperature which may result in less heating and cooling expenses.

It’s a universal truth in design: large panels of glass situated toward a view make a space to feel more open and welcoming, yet another reason to let the natural light pour into your home!

I’ll share more images of my client’s remodel soon (as well as sources). Meanwhile, if you’re considering replacement windows or new windows, be sure to visit Milgard to see the variety of window and patio doors available to you.

*This post in partnership with Milgard Windows & Doors, all opinions (and the first two photographs) are my own, remaining images courtesy of Milgard. 

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Hello friends, how was you June? Mine was a little extra lazy as June should be, right? ;) Today I’m finishing up a garden DIY project that I’ll be sharing soon, it’s one of those kinds of projects where you have to wait for your vines to grow so you can photograph it. :)  Fellow DIY bloggers know what I mean.

I’m headed to Las Vegas this week to celebrate the Fourth with family and friends with a BBQ + pool + fireworks party, it’s always fun to celebrate there. The Fourth of July has become my favorite holiday, it’s climbed above Christmas on my list. I love that there is no real gift buying or decorating pressure, it’s just all about relaxation, food, friends, and fireworks! Do you all love the Fourth of July as much as I?

Favorite links from this week:

A clever garage screen + cool tile + lush garden = chic outdoor oasis.

Step inside this dramatic renovated bachelor pad redone in a black and white palette.

Wow, how cool is this koi fish inspired backsplash?!

*le sigh* Dreamy golden light in the Tuileries Garden in Paris.

Yes —> finding your creative voice because “cover bands don’t change the world”.

For those chasing sunshine in California: the ten best SoCal beaches.

She’s the youngest person to travel to every country (how she did it).

Life advice from a 103 year old record setting runner.

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I was talking to my cousin and he reminded me of the “tree house” he built when we were kids in the oak tree at our grandparents house. One day my cousins Danny, Derek, and Darren decided to build a tree fort, they rounded up a bunch of wood, created a makeshift ladder to climb up the trunk, then laid down planks across the biggest branches to make the base platform. It had no railings, no stability, of course it was horribly unsafe.

One wrong step would send them falling to the ground, but the right series of steps allowed them to catapult themselves into the swimming pool below, which they managed to do dozens of times. My grandfather got a kick out of watching the whole thing being constructed, and even more joy from watching them swing from the branches and jump from the platform into the pool below. Good times. :)

I don’t recall what happened to that makeshift tree fort because my grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved out of that house but my older cousins did have their secret meetings up there where they conspired on all the ways they’d make trouble in the neighborhood. I remember being denied access because I didn’t know the secret password.

Tree houses are synonymous with childhood – we’ve all climbed up in one, and you were lucky if you had one or a friend who had one, right? For the adventurous or outdoorsy types who want to channel your inner child, or if you simply spend the night high up among the trees, take a look at these treehouses across the USA that you can rent to get this one-of-a-kind experience.

Timber Treehouse – Concord, North Carolina

Pleasant Bay Lookout – Bellingham, Washington

Sequoia Treehouse –  Dundee, Oregon (Wine Country)

Pinecone Treehouse – Bonny Doon, California

Willow Tree House – Willow, New York

Walker Pond Tree Cabin – Coventry, Vermont

Summit House – Tiller, Oregon

Adirondack Tree House – Middlebrook, New York

Vineyard Tree House – Monterey, California

Serenity Tree House – McEwen, Tennessee

Whispering Wind Treehouse –  Argyle, New York

Treehouse Retreat – Colombia Falls, Montana

Would you do it? Would you camp out in a tree house like these for a night or two?

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I’ve been asked about these open bookshelves in my office, how I like them, if they’re good quality, etc. The answer is I love them and yes they’re great quality, they fit the style of my office so well and serve a functional purpose, holding books, work supplies, art, and favorite objects. They’re so affordable and very easy to assemble too!

 

Open bookcases are just like étagères and more airy by nature of their design. I like how they allow the wall color (or wallpaper) to show through. I’ve used my share of Billys from IKEA in the past, but these days the structure of the backless or open bookshelf (or in this case, semi-backless) feels fresher and more modern to me.

Nine other styles of open bookshelves to fill your walls and spaces:

wood & white ladder  / tiered distressed gray / angled gold & veneer

ladder bookcase / margo blue / iron & wood alias

beverly champagne goldwhite modular / blue 4 shelf

When it comes to styling any bookshelf, I always include these five essentials:

1) Books – always present or what’s the point of them, right? Absent bookends, I like to stack them on their backs instead of stand them up.

2) Art – Bookshelves are a great spot to display favorite smaller scale artwork and framed artwork or prints help to fill the vertical space.

3) Plants – Real or faux, it doesn’t matter, just note how shelves come alive with something organic and green on display.

4) Decorative Objects – the fun stuff that gives the shelf a cool look, these can be sculptural objects in various tones or textures. I stuck with a grouping of black and white decor here.

5) Negative Space – don’t overcrowd the shelves. Give the eye a place to rest, but not so much space that the shelves lose their utility.

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Weekend hellos! Are you enjoying these longer summer evenings? I am, so much! I sat in my courtyard for an hour yesterday sipping white wine, listening to the fountain, and appreciating all the plants and trees in bloom. This is such a relaxing time of year, I’m thoroughly enjoying spending more hours outdoors. I hope you are too!

Favorite links below:

Black windows and trim + contemporary wood on display in this modern home.

The architectural molding on this feature wall is so well done!

This is a pretty blue zellige tile backsplash, don’t you think?

And isn’t this a clever bunk bed design?

Some good ideas for styling small balconies or porches.

She’s 77 and hiking the USA coast to coast!

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