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Ashley Mary Art Studio Tour

Earlier this year when I was so pregnant I was literally about to pop, I had the pleasure of photographing painter, illustrator & prop stylist extraordinaire Ashley Mary, of Ashley Mary Art, in her Northeast Minneapolis studio for my friend, Claire Staszak’s Women Who Make column, a fantastic feature celebrating women doing cool things in their creative field. Ashley was kind enough to show us around her bright and colorful studio and share insights into her design process, works in progress, and new mediums she’s currently exploring. After a few hours of demos, chats, and photos, I left full of inspiration and delight. What a morning! Head over to Claire’s site, Centered By Design for Ashley’s full interview and more looks inside her studio! And while you’re already here, check out a few quick captures from the visit…

 Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!

I love Ashley’s bold use of color, pattern play and femininity that’s celebrated with each piece.

Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!

Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary of Ashley Mary Art!

 As we were leaving for the day, Ashley sent Claire and me each off with a hand-painted postcard of our choice. I chose a blush, gold & black beauty and have it up in my office next to a few of my own DIY’s. Make sure to hop over to AshleyMary.com to see (and/or purchase!) Ashley’s beautiful work!

Come peek inside the bright and colorful studio of painter and illustrator, Ashley Mary!

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6 In DIY

Simple Stylings’ Bright & Renovated DIY Kitchen

kitchen-2

I recently caught up with the lovely Summer Hogan, brains behind lifestyle site, Simple Stylings, and she was kind enough to share her stunning DIY kitchen remodel with me, along with insight into her design goals & the challenges she encountered amidst the process. What began as a need to replace some 15+ year old buckling linoleum, morphed into a full-blown gut remodel (as many home projects do!), and the result is equal parts beautiful and functional with a side of bright & happy. If you’re considering tackling a DIY kitchen remodel or just plain love a good BEFORE & AFTER, read on for loads of insight and inspiration.

Let’s start with a look at the BEFORE & the fully gutted space…

The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen. The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen.

And now for the AFTER:The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen. The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen.

 What were your main goals for the new kitchen design? My main goals were to create a beautiful space that is also functional for our family. A place where we talk, hang out and cook together. The bar and stools definitely help make the space conducive for that.

What was your biggest design challenge and how did you solve the issue? The biggest challenge for us was cabinets. Brand new custom cabinets were not in the budget and it didn’t make sense to put new countertops, appliances, etc in and leave or just paint the old cabinets. So we compromised and went with the off-the-shelf cabinets from Lowe’s and I stained them myself. I think they turned out great for a fraction of the cost and so far we’ve been happy with them.

What is your most favorite part about your new kitchen? My favorite element is the counter to ceiling subway tile with open shelving but the overall best part is how bright and happy it feels now.

The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen. The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen.

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Such a gorgeous end result, right?! I can just imagine many a delicious weekend brunch taking place in here! Check out Summer’s blog, Simple Stylings, for the full DIY diary and thought process behind her design plan & material selections.

Photo Credit: Laura Sumrak (@laurasumrak)

The Before & After of Simple Stylings' Bright & Renovated DIY kitchen.

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8 In DIY

Meet Sylvia + A Newborn Photographer Checklist

When Sylvia turned 3 months last week, it dawned on me that I was long overdue to share the family photos we had taken about 12 days after she was born. It’s taken me until now, you see, because we received a digital folder from our photographer, Lauren Kirkbride, with literally hundreds of photos from our session, and I loved every. single. shot.  EVERY ONE, you guys. She did an amazing job of capturing our new little family at home, and so to narrow it down to just a few took some time.

All the moms out there know that with a newborn, especially one that naps for exactly 20 minutes at a time, you barely have time to take a shower much less sit at your laptop and admire photos of your family. In any case, I’ve finally pulled them together and am so excited to share them with you!

A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!

 A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!Sylvia14A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!

 As overwhelmed new parents, it’s hard to know what to look for when choosing a photographer to capture this snapshot in time (pun intended!), so here are a few things we found to be important when finding and scheduling our newborn photographer:

DECIDE ON A PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE: One of the things that was really important to us for our newborn photos was the style of photography. I wanted more of a lifestyle approach that captured newborn Sylvia, as well as us as a family, in our home. Whether you prefer a lifestyle aesthetic or prop photography, it’s a good idea to identify your style ahead of time so you’re happy with your photos in the end.

FIND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER BEFORE BABE IS BORN: Do some research and get in touch with your photographer a month or two before your due date while you still have your sanity. Ha! Babies are unpredictable as to when they decide to make their appearance, so it seems weird to book a photographer ahead of time, but many photographers will be flexible with the actual date. Lauren just had us let her know once Sylvia had arrived (which was a week late!), and we found a date a week and a half later that worked for both of us.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY: Newborn babies break for no one’s schedule but they’re own, and it’s almost certain that they’re going to need to eat, have a diaper change or just plain be fussy while you’re having photos taken. So if you choose the lifestyle photography route, and have your photographer come to your home, make sure they’re flexible on the session’s time frame.  In fact, Lauren didn’t set a time limit at all for the shoot which really took the pressure off and helped set a relaxed tone for the session.

IT’S GOOD TO HAVE OPTIONS: Find out how and in what quantity your photographer delivers the captured images back to you. Do they promise a set number or give you access to all of them? I appreciated having full digital access the photos so I could pick and choose my favorites. Receiving the link after the shoot was like Christmas–one beautiful shot after another!

A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details! A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details! A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details! A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!Sylvia246Sylvia247  A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!A glimpse inside our life after Sylvia was born + a newborn photographer checklist for finding the right person to capture your family. Click for details!

Like this post? Please do share!

Hopefully you enjoyed a glimpse inside our life right after Sylvia was born, and found our newborn photographer checklist helpful if you’re looking for a photographer for your new bundle. If you have anything to add to the checklist, please share in the comments. I’d love to know what your must-haves are!

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In DIY

DIY Fabric Flag

Though I’m not exactly a boho style girl through and through, I am inspired by certain elements, like the easy, laid back, seemingly effortless style that is quintessential “bohemian.” Lately on Pinterest, I’ve been noticing walls draped in fabric and decided to put my own spin on the trend in the form of a fabric flag, which introduces the drapey fabric idea, but in a more creative, quirky, and perhaps a bit Frenchier way, as opposed to straight up boho. In case you’re looking to give your walls an update for Spring, my tutorial on how to make this baby is up over at Sugar & Cloth!

Create a relaxed, quirky, and perhaps a bit French vibe on your walls with Spring with a DIY fabric flag. Click for details! Continue Reading →

4 In DIY

Welcome Baby Girl

Baby girl, Sylvia Leigh Francois, made her debut in early February, and we’ve been laying low since then enjoying our new bundle and learning the ropes of life with a newborn. About two weeks after Sylvia was born we had family photos taken in our home, and the moment I got them back I couldn’t wait to get Sylvia’s birth announcements ordered. I’ll be posting more from our family shoot soon, but in the meantime, I’m so excited to show you the custom birth announcements I designed through Mixbook!
 
See our custom designed baby girl birth announcements we created from scratch through Mixbook. Click through for all the deets!
 
 
I did our announcements through Mixbook, because I had a specific idea in mind for the design of the card, and they have a ‘Blank Canvas’ tool that lets you create a custom card from scratch. Their website makes creating the custom design ridiculously fast & easy, which as a new mom, that’s just about number one on my priority list.
 
You basically just drag and drop your photos into their interface, add text and any visual effects like bleeding the photo off the edge of the card. Then add to your ‘shopping cart’ and BOOM. Mixbook prints and mails your cards within a matter of a few days. (I should also mention they have lots of card designs to choose from too, if designing something custom is not your jam!)
 
See our custom designed baby girl birth announcements we created from scratch through Mixbook. Click through for all the deets!See our custom designed baby girl birth announcements we created from scratch through Mixbook. Click through for all the deets!

 

 
I chose a square card format which compliments Sylvia’s announcement photo nicely, as well as Mixbook’s super thick, matte paper option, because in my book, the thicker the paper, the better!
 
Before getting the announcements in the mail, I added a few extra personal touches by signing Ken & and my names in metallic gold ink on the back of the cards and sealing the envelopes with gold heart wax seals, because I may be a sleep-deprived new mom, but I still love DIY. This was my first time doing wax seals, and to my pleasant surprise they can now be done with a glue gun–no more dripping wax! Who knew?! Here’s a little video of how the announcements came together with the extra touches:

 

 
Sylvia’s announcements turned out exactly how I envisioned in my head, and I can’t wait to get them mailed off to family and friends! If you’re doing announcements and have a custom design in mind, I highly recommend having Mixbook help you bring your idea to life. Use my coupon code, FRAN40,  and get 40 % off sitewide. Expires May 22nd Midnight PST.
 
 
See our custom designed baby girl birth announcements we created from scratch through Mixbook. Click through for all the deets!See our custom designed baby girl birth announcements we created from scratch through Mixbook. Click through for all the deets!
This post has been made possible by Mixbook. Thank you for supporting my go-to brands that help me keep the DIY inspo flowing direct to your inbox!
 
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In DIY

The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Home Smell Amazing

Is cabin fever starting to set in at your place? I can say without a doubt it’s definitely setting in over here. With the arrival of Bébé S in earlier this year, we’ve been harder pressed to get out of the house more so than we are most years. Bitter cold temps = extra bundling + planning. Amidst learning how to finesse our newborn parenting skills, let’s just say we aren’t getting out quite as frequently.

If you've got spring cleaning on the brain, and want to make your home smell amazing, check out the ultimate guide I created for Curbly. Continue Reading →

6 In DIY

Lace Applique Pillow

This last minute little pillow project came about as I sat down in the rocker one night taking in the progress we’d made in the nursery and while sitting there I noticed we needed a lumbar pillow for a little extra support in the lower back. The next day I started ideating what the pillow might look like and I remembered that right about the time we found out we were expecting, I had stumbled upon this beautiful baby swimsuit from Ox Eyed Baiby on Pinterest and fell in love with the yellow and white contrast, the lace, the handmade feel…all of it. I remembered being bummed at the time because the swimsuit was one of a kind, and no longer available. But now! 8 months later, it was the perfect inspiration for my lumbar pillow. It’s funny how inspiration works sometimes, isn’t it?

The technique for the pillow applique is really quite simple. It’s just a matter of cutting apart the lace, arranging the design on the pillow, and tacking it in place with needle and thread. The most difficult part is probably deciding how to place and space apart the lace! Read on for the full tutorial…

DIY a beautiful lace applique pillow for your home or nursery with bridal lace. Click for all the details! Continue Reading →

In DIY

The Best Nordic Wallpapers

Amidst our nursery redesign, I spent an embarrassing amount of time looking for Nordic wallpapers. I knew we wanted to take the nursery in a Scandinavian direction, and wallpaper is just such an easy way to introduce it.  As you probably have seen, we chose Nethercote from Hygge & West for our nursery. Though the design is “technically” English-inspired, it still feels very Nordic, and it’s honestly the PERFECT paper for Sylvia’s room. If you’re also looking to add a little Nordic accent to your home, hopefully I can save you some precious Pinterest surfing time by rounding up the papers I fell in love along the way…

If you're looking to add a little Nordic accent to your home, check out our round-up of the best Nordic wallpapers. Continue Reading →