lil’ spot

Bambino’s Nursery Plan

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for the last few months, you know that we’re expecting a baby this February (!!) and we’re having a boy who we affectionately refer to as Bambino. I’m resisting the temptation to be all Baby Town over here, but I’m sure you can imagine how excited I am to design Bambino’s nursery. And I promised I would dish once we got some details squared away, so today I’m sharing The Plan for the baby’s room. Here goes…


Here’s a rough sketch of the room’s floor plan and how I’m imaging the furniture layout:

raised by design nursery design floorplan

The room is separated by a sort of invisible corridor created by the door to enter the room off the living room and the external door that leads out to the driveway. In the original floor plan, this room was the eat-in kitchen which is why there is an exit. (Until we created an exit off the new kitchen to the backyard, this door functioned as the back door.) We left the door in place because we weren’t sure how we would use the room long term. For now, we’ve placed furniture in front of it so that it functions more like a window.

I wrote here about how the West side of the room is my office space, which will stay that way for as long as I can manage.

The East side of the room will be Bambino Territory. There is plenty of space for a crib, a large dresser that we’ll use as a changing table, a bookcase and a glider.


There are a few challenges in converting this space to a nursery:

  • The scary-steep basement stairs right off the room. We will need a serious Alcatraz-style baby gate there some day. The tricky part is that Roxy’s litter box is down there so we always keep the door cracked for her. Eff. Do they make baby gates with pet doors? Somebody get on that and become a millionaire.
  • The counter-height outlets leftover from the kitchen layout. DANGIT! In some ways these are great because they’re out of reach when baby is crawling on the floor. But they are perfectly within reach when baby is on the changing table or in the crib. To solve this one we’ll be hanging artwork over the one above the changing table and we’ll be putting the crib on the wall without an outlet under the windows.
  • It’s chilly in this room. Probably because of the drafty door but also because this room stays pretty shaded by the house next door during the day. Having the crib under the window may not work well if it’s too cold so we may have to rethink the layout.
  • There isn’t a closet. The one you see in the floor plan is actually our front hall/coat closet and we haven’t figured out how that’s going to work yet. We currently stash our coats, vacuum, ironing board, drying rack and umbrellas there. Where will we store all of our impending baby gear and huge packages of diapers? Our solution to that problem is to wing it until a solution presents itself.


For the most part, we have tried to repurpose furniture and decor that we already own or use things endowed to us by our families in their timely effort to downsize. But we will need to buy a new crib and a chair for rocking baby to sleep.

We have our eye on the Midcentury Crib in Natural from Dwell Studio. There are a bazillion cribs out there that we like, but this one is our favorite because of the killer x-shaped base and gold-toed legs.


For cuddling up with Bambino and late night feedings, we are going with the Graham Glider from West Elm in Lagoon. The deep blue faux-velvet is a bold choice that will give the room a good jolt of personality. I’m kind of obsessed with it. The chair has a nice high wingback shape – which means Mommy and Daddy can rest their weary heads while rocking fusspants to sleep.

I’m holding off on getting the matching ottoman until I can say for sure that the room can fit one. If we have the room, I may look for something fun from a different maker to mix things up.

West Elm Graham Glider in Lagoon

Next to the glider, we are keeping the brass/walnut bar cart in front of the door as an end table. I found that guy about 7 years ago at a thrift store in Roslindale, MA years ago for $40. It’s kick ass. I’m happy it can hang in the nursery.

raised by design - bar cart styling in office

We are (happily) taking my little sis’s orphaned Hemnes 8-drawer dresser from IKEA to use as Bambino’s dresser/changing table. This big guy didn’t make the cut when she moved into her studio apartment but its only a few years old and is incredibly versatile. The Hemnes is the perfect height to use as a changing table and the 8 gliding drawers should be enough storage to house diaper changing supplies, clothes, crib bedding and maybe a few toys.


Speaking of toys, for the majority of Bambino’s prized possessions we are planning to use two hand-me-downs from my parents: an extra large braided basket from Mexico and an antique bookcase with adjustable shelves. The basket will be a catch-all for easy cleanups and the bookcase will house books and things we want to have on display.

raised by design - honeymoon woven mexican basket

Once we settled on the pieces we would be bringing into the space – all basics for the most part – I started to brainstorm ‘themes’ to round out the decor. OH BOY! That’s where the fun starts.

I’m going to share the Mood Board with you later this week so you can see what we’re doing to fun the place up for Bambino.

Stay tuned!

Loveyoubye, Magoo.

Before + After – Painted Blanket Chest

In the bedroom of today’s woman, it’s absolutely, 100%, no bull crap essential to have a place where you can slump your clothes, sit and zip up your moto boots or rest a stack of clean laundry for a week before you finally get around to putting it away. Double bonus points if said place can also store extra blankets or bulky sweaters that don’t fit in your closet.

Ever since we moved into the smaller bedroom I’ve been searching for the right piece to go at the end of our bed. This toy chest from my childhood bedroom fit perfectly, but it needed a little love to go from 80’s nursery life to grown-ass lady bedroom.

Before and After - Raised by Design painted bedroom chest

Sometimes, all you need to pull off a good Before + After is a couple coats of paint, for real. All designers will tell you that paint is their best pal – the quickest (and cheapest) route to big time change.

For this project I used two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Midnight – a deep navy with slate gray undertones. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Benjamin Moore Midnight

In natural light, it looks more blue but by lamplight it looks almost black. It’s moody and lovely, just like me.

Raised by Design - Before and After - Painted Bedroom Chest

I’m especially happy with the way it makes the colorful art we hung above it pop.

The top work is a 1980 Mary Engelbreit original of three girls that reads “Koki, Muffie, and Bitsy shop for circle pins.” I love this drawing dearly because “Muffie” is my Mom, “Koki” is Mary – my faerie/art godmother – and “Bitsy” is Nicki Dwyer – my actual Godmother. I love these ladies and I love the cherry red frame Mary chose all those years back. This illustration hung right where I had my timeouts growing up. I wonder if Mom did that on purpose so we had to sit and reflect on how cute she was while we were being punished.

The bottom piece is an original masterpiece by my little sister, Mo, from when she was probably four or five years old – elevated to legit abstract art in an IKEA matte and frame. I adore the colors she chose – she had an eye for style even back then.

Raised by Design - Before and After Painted Bedroom Chest

Here’s a view from the door of our bedroom:

Raised by Design - Before and After Painted Bedroom Chest

And here’s a closeup of the dreamy breakfast in bed that I’ve never enjoyed in real life but totally makes the picture feel cozy:

Raised by Design - Before and After Painted Bedroom Chest

And that, my friends, is all there is to it. Paint saves the day. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I eat that piece of apple cake in two bites.

Loveyoubye! Maggie

Office Update

I’m in full blown nesting mode these days (as opposed to medium nesting as my normal mode). These supposed productivity hormones are a good thing for the long list of small projects that we’ve left undone since finishing the major renovations around here, including finally fixing up my workspace just in time to have it trashed by a baby.

This room was the last room we tackled in the house and although we finished it up in the fall of 2012 it has remained a hodgepodge of homeless furniture and ‘I’ll deal with it later‘ projects. The arrival of a tiny Natarelli is just the kind of kick in the uterus I need to finally whip this room into shape. Here’s what it looks like today:

Raised by Design Maggie Natarelli - Office Update - Home Office

In the original floor plan this room was the kitchen. Stained linoleum flooring and a green and yellow vintage kitchen once lived here. We relocated the kitchen to the back of the house to create open concept living and access to the backyard. Here’s the Before from the day we closed on the house, looking at the opposite side of the room.

(Disclaimer for those of you scoffing at the idea of tearing out this cute vintage kitchen: the [very cute, very worn] Homart cabinets are still in the house, being loved and repurposed in the laundry area downstairs. The range, whose oven door had to be held closed with a broomstick, was sent to a salvage company along with the cracked sink and yellow formica countertops. The light fixtures are still in the room.) 

raised by design - kitchen before

For the last two years this side of the room has functioned as a guest room but will be transformed into a nursery early next year for Bambino. (Here’s a sneak peak of our beloved driftwood mobile, made for us by a friend as a wedding present. Rumor has it, my Mom and Michael Kors are the only other owners of these mobiles. Oh heyyy!)

Raised by Design - maggie natarelli - driftwood mobile by Tom Cassadei

The opposite side will pretty much stay the way it is until Bambino is old enough to fuck with my shit and accumulate a significant dowry of toys. Then it will probably become a total kid zone and I’ll be squeezed out and relegated to the kitchen or basement. But for a little bit longer…

raised by design - maggie natarelli - home office

There are a few unique features in this space. For starters, it’s a long and narrow room measuring 18′ long by 9′ wide. There is also a doorway that exits to the driveway. That doorway creates an avenue down the middle of the room, separating it into two spaces roughly 7 ½’ x 9′. (Floorplans would be good, I know.)

We weren’t quite sure how we would be using this space in the long term, so we left the external door in tact but we don’t use it anymore. We also didn’t bother to move the outlets down to the baseboards so they are still counter height – as fit for a kitchen – which annoys the crap out of me, but maybe less than patching and painting which I hateses.

raised by design - bar cart styling in office

raised by design - desktop shot

raised by design - desktop styling

Behind my desk we used IKEA shelving to create floor to ceiling storage and a printing station. My inspiration board is made from two magnet boards also from IKEA. (The shelves are no longer sold at IKEA but these are pretty badass and would be good for an office.

raised by design - office shelving

raised by design - inspiration board office

raised by design - home office

raised by design - office shelving

raised by design - inspiration board office


Above the desk I hung a collection of artwork that has personal meaning to us (as all artwork should!). The Cosmic Bunny print is signed and numbered by one of my favorite illustrators, Diana Sudyka. It was a gift from my mom. Below it hangs a snapshot of my late Grandpa and his buddy taken in 1967.

raised by design - maggie natarelli - office artwork - cosmic bunny by diana sudyka

Cosmic Bunny by Diana Sudyka

For our wedding a dear friend and mentor, Jeff O’Connor, gifted us this original illustration of a warren of Eastern Cottontails. Bunnies were the main motif of our wedding and his wife, a Chicago-based graphic designer, designed all of our paper goods. Jeff is a natural science illustrator and his work populates several of the exhibits at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. Some of his beautiful entomology sketches are pinned on my inspiration board.

Below hangs a collection of vintage postcards including one from Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe, where I lived after college and one from Samoa, where my other Grandfather lived. The framed print is titled Mountains by Karina Eibatova which I blogged about here.

raised by design - home office - bunny illustration by jeff o'connor

Original Illustration by Jeff O’Connor

I’m enjoying having the space to myself while I can, and daydreaming about a (napping) baby on the other side of the room.

Loveyoubye! Maggie



Before + After – Lil’ Spot Renovations The Bathroom

Hi hi hi. So yesterday I shared all of the dingy ‘BEFORE’ pics of our pink and black tile bathroom. Today it’s time to get to the goods. Real quick – here’s what the bathroom looked like when we bought the house:

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

The space was super cramped, poorly lit, without ventilation and, other than the medicine cabinet, completely without storage. The one thing that the room had going for it was a nice, big American Standard cast iron bathtub in great condition. (By the way – that nice vignette of a hand mirror, roll of toilet paper and bottle of Suave shampoo came with the house. Bonus!)

Here’s what our Master/Guest/Family/Only Bathroom looks like today:

raised by design - bathroom renovation after

We went with a relaxed, neutral palette of bright white walls and slate blue/gray floors. I like that it skews a little masculine but is still elegant and airy. We installed and painted bead board along the ‘dry’ wall of the bathroom and classic white subway tile along the ‘wet’ wall – the tile is wrapped around the tub/shower surround and behind the new sink.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

We solved the layout and storage issues by reclaiming some square footage from the second bedroom (now our Master) that was being used as an extra closet. We robbed Peter to pay Paul, you could say. It hurts to get rid of closet space in a small house, but Paul the bathroom really needed the space, so we didn’t lose sleep over it. Plus, we didn’t take all of the storage of the other room – the remaining space was used for custom built-in shelves which now function as my vanity and shoe storage.

The added square footage allowed for a clear path and more spacious layout without any crowding. Hoo-ray! The nook we created also accommodated a full size vanity with plenty of storage. The vanity is actually a vintage sideboard that I spray painted and chopped up to accommodate a sink and plumbing. There are loads of DIY tutorials out there for this move and in our case, it was the best solution for maximizing counter space and storage and it’s much easier on the budget than a brand new vanity. Plus, look at that sexy hardware!

raised by design - bathroom renovation - vanity redo

raised by design - bathroom renovation

We opted for a wall mounted faucet and vessel sink to make converting the vanity easier. I found a giant vintage mirror that was perfectly sized for our space and paired it with industrial cage pendants.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

We keep our everyday toiletries corralled on a tray to cut down on clutter (my all-time favorite styling tip). When guests come and we feel fancy, we stash our toothbrushes away and just leave out the hand soap, a lightly scented candle (like one of these) and some pretty hand towels.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - soap tray

Above the litany of light switches and outlets we added, I hung this sweet trio of miniature house collages in vintage gold frames that my Mom made for me.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - house collages

I like the way the antique gold finish is repeated in the mirror frame and original brass door knob.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - gold frames

For a long time, the bright, bare walls on the opposite side of the bathroom were too pretty to mess with. Something happens when you take the trouble to paint a room yourself: you have nightmares about patching a poorly place nail hole so you chicken out on hanging anything at all.

Last winter I finally got over it and hung a gallery wall of vintage class photos I’ve collected and charcoal nudes drawn by James’ late grandmother. She was such a glamorous woman and I love the ultra feminine touch that her drawings lend to the otherwise masculine space.

raised be design - bathroom renovation - framed art - gallery wall

We added a ledge to help transition between the bead board and dry wall – a trick we borrowed from my parents’ bathroom. The ledge is low profile, but creates a spot to keep small things like a clock or eyeglasses.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

My collection of vintage black and white class photos includes a photo of my 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C. I remember thinking it was just silly that my Mom wanted to order the framed photo (“Whaddya want that for?”), but I’m so thankful for the time capsule and it’s one of my favorite pieces of art. Gosh, she’s always right. We hung it right next to the commode and when we have parties the conversation inevitably comes around to the number of flannels, Nirvana t-shirts and Air Jordans in the pic. It was 1995…

raised by design - bathroom renovation - DC class trip photo

It’s also fun to let guests play ‘Where’s Waldo’ to find me. Here, I solved it for you… Also in this closeup are my kindergarten bestie, my first kiss, the friend I got in the most trouble with and the kid who moved into my house when we move to New York a couple years later (whose sister is now a cast member on SNL!).

raised by design - bathroom renovation - dc class photo

While we’re talking about what’s near the toilet, I have to show you the TP holder we installed, which is probably the smartest choice I’ve made in life besides going to college and marrying James. It’s the best and deserves a chance to shine. The price was ridiculous but it’s the only acceptable design for changing the roll in my book – one of my all-time least favorite things to do (besides replacing the trash liner). Once you go $100 toilet paper roll holder, you never go back. I’m bringing it with me to the next house.

raised by design - bathroom renovation - tp holder

Lastly, our beautiful porcelain throne. When my mother-in-law heard that we planned on just keeping the existing (60 year old) John, which was in fine shape as far as my back woods self was concerned, she insisted it was a much better idea to get a new one. We hemmed and hawed over adding the expense to our climbing budget, but in a ‘you’ll thank me later’ moment she put her foot down and offered to buy a new one for us. Moms…they’re always right! I LOVE this toilet and I now appreciate that Johns have a life span and when it’s up…it’s just up. She’s a beaut and uses less water so everyone’s happy. (I wish I’d moved our trash can or ironed my stubborn shower curtain for this shot. Oh well…real life.)

raised by design - bathroom renovation

The vignette behind the toilet changes with my mood. These days I have a porcelain and pewter tray, a vase of flowers from our backyard and one of my Great Aunt Virginia’s Herend figurines. Fancy! I’m feelin’ it.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

raised by design - bathroom renovation

And finally, I sewed a small cafe curtain from some cheap-o IKEA fabric and lined the windows with a stick-on film that gives the same opaque effect as frosted glass. Privacy + natural light = muy importante.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

So, there you have it. 4 years later I’m still happy with everything in the space and I don’t miss the pink and black tile one bit, it turns out.

raised by design - bathroom renovation

Here’s a source list for our project. Some of the items are discontinued because we completed this renovation 4 years ago, but I tried to list an alternate in those cases. Enjoy your project and love your bathroom, I say!

  • Wall Paint – Benjamin Moore Cloud Nine
  • White Subway Tile – Home Depot
  • Floor Tile – Home Depot
  • Vanity – John Street Antiques, Stamford, CT
  • Mirror – John Street Antiques, Stamford, CT
  • Pendants – Schoolhouse Electric
  • Sink – + don’t forget the drain
  • Wall-mounted Faucet – Kohler (we got a similar faucet with a right angle spout)
  • Hand Towel Holder – IKEA
  • Towel Bar – IKEA (I’m laughing because I just realized we installed it upside down…welp, still works!)
  • Tissue Holder – Kohler
  • Shower Head and Trim – Kohler
  • Soap Dispenser – CB2
  • House Candle Holder – CB2
  • Toothbrush Cup – a gift from friends, you can find here
  • Curtain Fabric – IKEA
  • Toilet – TOTO
  • Laundry Hamper – HomeGoods, here’s a cute alternative though
  • Bath Towels – West Elm (we didn’t monogram ours with a bossy red “RELAX” as pictured)
  • Trash Can – Simple Human
  • Frames for Nudes – IKEA
  • Pewter Tray – Arte Italica (a wedding gift that we use all over the house)
  • Black and White Vintage Class Photos – collected, easily found at vintage shops or on Etsy
  • Window Film – we used something like this

Loveyoubye! Mags


Before + After – Lil’ Spot Renovations The Bathroom

When we submitted an offer on our house in 2009 we knew we would be doing a lot of work to the place. I gave you a quick little recap of our house’s story in this post, months back. But what I didn’t get into was the fact that our little 1950’s Aladdin Kit abode hadn’t been updated one bit since it was first born, aside from painting over wallpaper several times and replacing the windows. Seriously – there weren’t even grounded outlets in the joint.

Of course there was something so appealing about this little house that had been so meticulously cared for in its original state – good bones and a clean slate. We were excited to transform it into a bright, airy, modern cottage and bring it up to snuff for present day living.

Grown up people with grown up bank accounts usually gut renovate the whole house before they move in so there are no traces of previous life and their busy lives are virtually uninterrupted. But we were young, first-time home buyers with young baby savings accounts. Which meant we were going to have to do things little by little and with our own two hands on nights and weekends. Our renovations have unfolded over the last 4 years and we’re still working on things like our basement and our exterior.

It’s going to take lots of blog posts to share everything we’ve done in this piece. So get ready!

raised by design - our house

A little house lookin’ for love in all kinds of places.



Lil’ Spot has just one bathroom. It’s really tough times to live in a house without a toilet in commission so we decided to tackle the bathroom as our first project – before we moved in. At the time, we’d been renting a cute little place in town, but to save cheese for our new home we decided not to renew our lease and we moved home with our parents. Separately. Oh, the ways you can test a relationship.

Here’s the side by side of our bathroom Before + After from the main living space of the house.

raised by design - before + after bathroom

We decided to nix the pink and black tile for a more gender-neutral slate blue-gray and white palette. Looking back now 5 years later, a pink bathroom would have been a fun design challenge and there are lots of ways to make the pink tiles made famous by Mamie Eisenhower work with today’s interiors. I’d love to see a modern riff on this hue paired with metallics, geometric shapes and the current southwestern desert trends. Here are some examples of bathrooms that are working pink well:

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Albert Hadley wallpaper via Lonny

Christina Simon's bathroom via Apartment Therapy

Christina Simon’s bathroom via Apartment Therapy

Although there is plenty to love about pink and black tile, we knew right away we wouldn’t be keeping it. For starters, with only one bathroom in the whole dang house we knew that we really had to make it count. This bath would function as our Master Bath, our Guest Bath and someday, our shared bath with kids. So not only did we need to be in love with the look and feel, but the design had to be versatile and super functional.

Secondly, after years of rentals in all sorts of colors, qualities and conditions, I couldn’t wait to have the freedom to design a beautifully appointed, sparkly white, all-my-taste-and-nobody-else’s bathroom. Finally. (I briefly consulted James, of course, who graciously agreed with everything I had in mind).

And last, the layout was heinously cramped and the storage options were nil. So change was in order.

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

It was hard to say goodbye to the basket weave tile, but once we added square footage to the room, keeping it wasn’t an option.

Note the proximity of the sink to the toilet and the tub. Squishy! In this tight little narrow space, the man who built this house had to stand at an angle to use the toilet for 60 years, rest his soul. Also, if you bent over the sink to wash your face your bum would bump into the shower curtain. We knew we could do better.

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

I sold the vintage medicine cabinet and stashed the light fixture for another use.

raised by design - our house - pink bathroom

I’m pretty tall, so this low shower head was a hazard to my dome piece.

We put our heads together, along with my Dad and James’ Uncle who are both experienced contractors, and came up with a design that we were happy with…which changed soon after we got started working…then got halted due to needing a proper building permit. Before we knew it we had spent 4 months living in separate homes and commuting to our new house after work to finish the tiniest room in the house. Thankfully, we had a lot of help from our families and a major pot of gold waiting for us…move-in day! Tomorrow I’ll share more details about our plans and the ‘AFTER’ photos of our total douching of the pink tile bathroom.

Loveyoubye! Maggie




In Like With: Couches for Small Spaces

large couch

Welcome to Planet Couch. Also known as our living space, which houses our humongous hand-me-down island of lounge space. This couch, a joint bromance purchase between James and his old roommate, was traded straight-up for an Xbox when they parted ways. It’s from Bob’s Discount Furniture and it’s been going strong for over 8 years now. It’s not all that sexy, I know. But it’s ridiculously comfortable, it’s big enough for someone 7′ tall to sleep on and it’s neutral, making it easy to decorate around. Aside from a few minor gripes, I actually love it, proving that places like Bob’s aren’t kryptonite to people with (reasonable) taste.

But someday, we will replace it. And here’s why: it’s really just too big for our space and the way we like to use it. We use our living space both for entertaining and winding down at the end of the day. So we need something that hits that sweet spot between cocktail and cozy. Too soft and you can’t tell a hilarious story while balancing a plate of food on your lap. Too rigid and you want to cry before the opening credits of the latest ridiculously long movie.  

Our olive green guy measures in at 100″ x 40″ x 36″, which in Sofa Land is like a submarine-sized piece. It’s too huge for our 12′ x 14′ multitasking living space. If we traded it for a smaller couch (or love seat) we would be able to comfortably fit a cocktail table and two arm chairs.

Right now we can only fit one arm chair, and while our megasauraus-sofa is big enough for four butts, we rarely have three folks take a seat there. People like to sit across from one another or at an angle – not shoulder to shoulder. Breaking up the seating options around the room, even if the number of butts you can accommodate is the same, is actually a much better arrangement for entertaining. 

But remember, we can’t sacrifice comfort, since husband and I get pretty lazy after 9pm. So buh-bye to settees, camelbacks, tuxedos and daybeds. It was nice knowing your beautiful scrolling arms, cocoon-like walls and cabriole legs.

Here’s my couch-crushing criteria:

  1. Medium-tone upholstery (in blues, greens or grays) that holds up to life and hides the stubborn cat hair that my vacuum sucks at sucking up.
  2. Relatively high arms so that I can curl up in the corner with my coffee and not fall on the floor.
  3. Less than 85″ inches in total length and 40″ of total depth.
  4. Nothing so low to the ground that tall folks and Baby Boomers curse as they’re standing up.
  5. Comfortable enough to accommodate hours of binge-watching Orange Is The New Black.
  6. Extra points for sofa beds or secret storage.

And here are some picks I’ve pinned for consideration:

couch sofa for small spaces

  1. This moody guy get extra points for a secret storage drawer…what would you put in there? Oxford Storage Sofa in Ink from Room & Board – $1,999.00
  2. A tribal patterned pillow would liven the joint up fast. Jacinto Rectangle Pillow from Anthropologie – $29.95
  3. A blue beauty with rich velvet upholstery and nailhead trim…think I can commit? Charlotte Sofa in Indigo from One Kings Lane – $1,999.00
  4. I like the single cushion and relaxed feel of this pick but it comes with a high price point and only one upholstery option. Graydon Sofa in Riva Dune from Jayson Home – $3,695.00
  5. This is my current favorite with a punchy upholstery option, nice lines and a pull-out! Whammy! Paidge Sleeper Sofa in Blue Lagoon from West Elm – $1,549.00
  6. I’ll take one of these cute atomic/tribal throw pillows just in case. Endless Summer Peach & Gray Tribal Pillow from Zazzle – $28.95
  7. This color is so now I can hardly look away. But I think it skews a little too feminine and I like things to be more David Bowie, less Katy Perry. Club Spray Sofa from CB2 – $1,199.00

Do you think we have a winner here?

Loveyoubye! Maggie


Backyard Work /// Before + After Porn

I wrote a couple weeks back about our back yard and the progress we’ve made since we moved in 4 years ago. The other day it was overcast and rainy, so I grabbed my camera and took some snaps of what it looks like back there these days. *Here’s a tip I picked up: An overcast day is actually one of the best times to photograph landscapes. In full sun, plants lose dimension and photos will turn out flat and washed out. Aim for overcast or partly cloudy days and choose early morning or twilight hours if you can. 

Lil' Spot Backyard

That big river birch is our favorite tree ever; it screens the 3-flat behind us for 3 seasons and provides some much needed shade to our full-sun yard. Can you believe it’s only 3 years old this year and already popping out of my frame?

Lil' Spot Backyard - hemlock and fire pit.

We’re also pretty proud of this eastern hemlock we planted the same year. It kinda looks like The Sorting Hat. But it’s hosted 2 robins’ nests in a row so I would say it’s WINNING!

I know you’re wondering WTF that piece of wood is about. It’s just a piece of weathered wood. I like to keep things a little trish-trash around here.

And don’t judge me because our fire pit needs a bikini wax. I have to pull up all of those rocks one by one and put down a proper weed barrier. Because it’s pretty much all weeds back here.

We’re not planning any major projects in the yard this season, after a couple years of some hardcore home improvement back there we are ready to just enjoy it. Wait, enjoy it? I mean let out a loud ass groan as we realize that it needs mowing…again.

This is us: Did you water the new grass this morning? Something dug up the seedling I planted yesterday and left a swath of dirt spread all over the deck. Nice. Is that fuckin’ raccoon back again? No? Maybe it was the skunk I saw the other night. Yeah, or the ground hog? IDK. Did you check for ticks in the shower? I think we should put a container of beer out to drown the slugs. I heard that shit works. Oh look, time to mow again.

Lil' Spot Backyard

We tried to plant fresh grass seed where our monstrous driveway once lived. It looks like a Chia pet on Day 3 or a botched Rogaine application. Think we need to reseed.

Lil' Spot Backyard

Now you see why we call it Lil’ Spot, right?! Our little suburban cabin. On a more serious design note, I would eventually like to get 2 big planters for either corner of the deck instead of a bunch of little pots. I think it will look cleaner and help anchor the asymmetric layout (lattice on one side, trees on the other). But did you know those shits are like $200 a piece? I feel a DIY comin’ on!

Lil' Spot Backyard

In the meantime, I planted some of my mom’s vintage pails and pots with herbs so I can grab them in the middle of cooking dinner. Working towards always having fresh herbs on hand…remember?

After I’m done griping about weeding and run-ins with nocturnal rodents or these bad boys, I try to remember that the payoff is major: a sunny semi-private place to sit and have coffee and read the paper iPad in the morning. It’s great to wake up to birds chirping in the trees that I planted. And it’s the best ever to have friends over to make pizzas on the grill and laugh so loud it wakes up our neighbors’ kids.

Lil' Spot Backyard

Our friends in the city always say the only reason they would move to the ‘burbs is so they can have a back yard. I get that. The only reason I would move to the city is so I can have a shorter commute and decent thai food.

If I had any sage advice for soon-to-be-suburbanites it’s this: this shit doesn’t just pop up like a blow-up castle. It takes a lot of sweaty, slimy, put-your-back-into-it work. At least for any homeowner who refuses to hire a landscaper, like me. It builds character. It ruins your shoes. It takes time out of your weekend. It’s a losing battle against weeds and pests. But yeah, it’s so totally worth it.

Lil's Spot Backyard

Here is the promised Before + After Porn:



Before + After - Backyard Redo


Loveyoubye! Maggie