Outdoor Summer Grilled Pizza Party

There is something about the summertime. Things move slower. We give ourselves permission to rest and take in the little things. The summer is a great time to host an outdoor party for family and friends, gathering them around a beautiful table for a delicious meal. We decided to host our own outdoor summer pizza party complete with delicious appetizers, personalized grilled pizzas, and an Italian inspired family-style table scape.

Ultimate Father’s Day Gift Guide

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PSA - Father’s Day is coming! I know how difficult it can be to get your dad something he will really enjoy and actually use. I’m taking all of the guess work out of shopping for dad and giving you my ultimate gift guide for 2019. Almost all of these items have my own dad’s stamp of approval so you can be sure the dad in your life will love it too.

* This post does contain some affiliate links where I may earn a small commission off of items purchased.*

Gifts for the Dad On The Go

  1. Away Charging Carry-On Suitcase

    Running around airports is exhausting as it is. This suitcase comes with a portable charger to keep all of dad’s devices charged and ready for a long day of travel.

  2. Audible Membership

    A stack of books isn’t the easiest thing to travel with. Give dad the gift of an audible membership so he can listen to his favorite crime novel, catch up on the latest business strategies, or dive into a history autobiography on the go.

  3. Harry’s Shave Club

    Gives dad everything he needs for a great shave whenever he needs it. They have a variety of bundles and even memberships to keep dad looking sharp.

  4. Travel Toiletries Case

    Does your dad travel with his toiletries in a ziplock baggie. Now he can use a nice toiletries case that can hold all of the items he needs in one space without worrying about something spilling out into his suitcase.

Gifts for the Athletic Dad

  1. Apple AirPods

    These sleek wireless ear pods allow dad to listen to his favorite spotify station or the game while on the move. Each pair comes with a wireless charging case.

  2. Gym Duffle Bag

    If your dad is running to the gym after work give him a quality duffle bag that can carry everything he’ll need for a workout at the gym.

  3. ABC Pants

    I cannot tell you how many of the men in my life rave about these pants! They give you all day comfort and movement that can take your dad from the boardroom to the golf course.

  4. Titleist Golfballs

    A golf-fanatics favorite. Titleist golfballs are the best of the best and your dad will thank you for it.

For the Dad Who Loves Tailgating

  1. Rocking Tailgating Chair

    This may be the best gift I have given in recent history. My dad LOVES these chairs, so much so, it’s the only thing we bring tailgating anymore. The simple rocking motion changes everything. Now, we fight over these chairs at football games.

  2. Yeti Shoulder Bag

    These are great to bring with you to the beach or to the baseball park. They have a lot of room and can keep your items cold all day long.

  3. Corn Hole Set

    Every tailgater needs a quality corn hole set. Whether you’re playing in the backyard or the parking lot of the stadium this set allows you to customize the color of the bean bags to your favorite teams’ colors.

  4. Tumbler

    A classic. If you haven’t gotten your dad a tumbler yet, this should be the year. Wether your dad is a coffee drinker or just needs to keep his beverage cold for a full day of tailgating, it all starts with a quality tumbler.

For the Dad who Loves His Tech

  1. Mega Boom Speaker

    One of my dads absolute favorite tech gadgets. This speaker packs 360 degrees of sound quality that you can operate from your phone. Because of its water resistance we bring our speaker with us anytime we are by the pool our out on the lake.

  2. iRobot Roomba

    My dad is a vacuumer. This was the best gift we could give him! It saves him from feeling like he ought to vacuum, because the roomba is doing it for him. I love the roomba so much I wrote a whole blog post about it.

  3. Ring Home Security System

    Another favorite. The Ring provides you with peace of mind when you’re home and away. A video and voice security system that allows you to see who is at your door without having to open it. This device saved has given me so much peace of mind and I’m sure it will do the same for your dad.

  4. Roku Stick

    This little USB port stick can pack a powerful punch. Turning any TV into a hub for your favorite TV streaming apps like Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, Amazon ESPN and more!

For the Dad Who is a Little Hipster

  1. Crosley Vinyl Record Player

    If you’re dad still has his collection of vinyl records give him a new-age way to enjoy his music again. Crosley has great looking vinyl record players that look like quality home decor.

  2. Magnolia Mesh Hat

    This simple gray mesh and leather hat is great for the dad who wants to look good without trying too hard. The mesh back keeps it breathable throughout the day.

  3. Bad Blood Book

    This book. It is my number #1 book recommendation of the year. My dad read it two weeks ago and like me, could not put it down! The book is essentially about a Fire Festival level fraud that happened in the tech world. A true story that reads like a true crime novel and will soon be a major motion picture! Do yourself a favor and grab this book for your dad!

  4. Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker

    There is nothing like a good cup of coffee to start off the day. Treat your slightly hipster dad to a great cup of pour over coffee with this coffee maker from Chemex.

Do you and your family do anything special for Father’s Day? Let me know over on Instagram and Facebook.

How to Style a Mudroom

Homzie Designs had the fun task of styling this coastal mudroom! While the decor is uniquely chosen for this beachy cottage, the styling tips can be applied to any mudroom, hall tree, or entryway. Some of my best style tips, a few which you’ll see in this video, are shared in my free style guide, “6 of My Best Tips to Instantly Upstyle Your Home” grab this free guide and start transforming each corner of your home!

Start with a color scheme

When it comes to styling any type of mudroom, it helps to start with a color scheme. If you have all white built-ins you can play with almost anything. If your mudroom is painted or has a distinct wood finish choose colors that will compliment it.

For this mudroom, we chose coastal colors that reflect the Gulf of Mexico- bright turquoise, sea-glass green, and colors that match the natural scrub brush found in that area. Our Turquoise Turkish Cotton Beach Towels were the eye-catching part of this design. P.S. these towels come in about 30 colors so not matter the color scheme you’re going for, this could be a great option.

Style in Layers

Adding layers helps built a depth to any display. The key in layering is to make sure each item you are building on is distinct from one another. You want to choose items that contrast from one another. Here are a few ways that can happen.

  1. Size - Grouping a small object with a larger one

  2. Pattern - Pair a bold pattern with a solid color

  3. Texture - Combine rough and smooth pieces together

  4. Color - Black and white is a classic juxtaposition

  5. Material - Choosing woods alongside metals

This mudroom styling utilized layering in a few areas. First, the cubby with a family photo and a small objected layered one in front of the other the various sizes give it contrast. Secondly, the hanging beach towel and the beach hat. The contrast in materials and texture help create a distinction. Finally the beach bag, showcasing almost each one of these layering genres.

Style in Triangles

Styling in triangles is one of the tips I share in my Free Styling Guide, which will give you tools you can start using right now to style any room in your home.

When you stand back and take in this whole mudroom display your eye can start to see many visual triangles. For this example however, we’re going to focus on this one cubby. Here, we’ve created two right triangles.

If you’re first starting with styling in triangles it’s easiest to create an equilateral or isosceles triangle, I know geometry lesson happening here. But it’s an easy look to recreate using three objects where one is slightly larger than the other. You often see this with candle sticks.

For our display, we tiled one of the books to create the clear outline of a triangle. You can draw with your finger on your screen and see exactly where the triangle is. By adding the sea glass bowl and starfish we’re pulling your eye out a little further and creating a second triangle stemming from the taller book to the smaller bowl.

Leave Negative Space

Listen up! This is a key part of styling that many people forget… it’s okay to have blank space! There I said it. You don’t have to crowd your decor to make your space, in fact you should do the opposite.

By leaving open, blank, or negative space, you give your eyes room to take in what’s most important. When we give our eyes too much to focus on things can easily become overwhelming.

I left plenty of negative space around this unique and special coral piece because I wanted anyone looking at the mudroom to stop and notice it. If I would have added another trinket or object to that cubby, the coral piece would have been overlooked. Allowing negative space helps tell our eyes what is most important.

So let’s all commit, right now, to being okay with negative space … it’s like the awkward silence in a group conversation, it feels weird at first, but in the end it gives someone - or in our case, something - the space to shine.

Make it look lived in

This is where you get to have fun! Have you ever noticed how magazines like Southern Living and HGTV add items in their photos that make it seem like someone was just in the room and got up to walk away right before the photo was taken? That’s intentional.

Our homes are not museums to be admired

they are spaces to create, relax, and gather the people we love.

In our mudroom styling, we chose to style a beach bag to look like it was just brought in after a long day in the sun. By adding a shoebox in the bottom we allowed the objects layered on top to not slip down and get lost. A beach towel, a few magazines, and a pair of sunglasses gave this beach bag a fresh from the beach look. To finish, we added a pair of flip flops staggered off to the side as if someone just slipped them off.

Do you want to take your home styling to the next level? Are you frustrated with spaces in your home looking just a little bit “off” or “unfinished”? Then check out my FREE Styling Guide for six different tips you can use to style any room in your home on any budget!

How to Create a Pet Friendly Home

There’s a lot that comes with owning and caring for a pet. Make sure your home is up to the task by choosing the right flooring, couch material, and home decor accessories to keep your home looking beautiful while caring for your pet.

ChoosE the right flooring

Scratches and accidents come with the territory of owning a pet. Are your floors up to the task? Some of the best pet-friendly flooring options include hardwoods like oak, cherry, maple, hickory, walnut, mahogany, sycamore, and bamboo. They are very durable and can hold up against scratches and accidents. You’ll want to avoid softwoods like pine, chestnut, and fir because they are more prone to dents and scratches - especially for homes with larger breed dogs.

Tips to protect flooring

  1. Prevent damage to your flooring by clipping your dog’s nails regularly. Their nails and claws when left untouched can scratch the surface of your flooring.

  2. Wipe up urine or other accidents as quickly as possible. Hot tip - use a vinegar based cleaner to get rid of the scent so your pet isn’t tempted to use the bathroom there again.

  3. Place a mat underneath any pet food bowls to catch excess water from reaching floor.

  4. Use doormats at all entrances to catch excess dirt and debris from being drug in from outside.

Source:  TheEveryGirl

Source: TheEveryGirl

Choose the Right Couch Material

Many people choose to not let their pets up on the couch, but for those of us who love puppy cuddles while watching Netflix we need to choose a sofa material that is up to the task. Long nails and shedding are the main threat to your sofa, so selecting a fabric that is up to the challenge is key.

Leather

Contrary to what you may think, you can have a leather sofa and a pet. They are incredibly easy to wipe down and clean — dog hair will slide right off. However, long nails or claws can leave scores of scratches so make sure your pets nails stay trimmed.

High-Performance Upholstery

Performance fabrics have come a long way, but they aren’t miracle workers either. With many of these fabrics you can bleach them without working about fading, but you’ll need to quickly clean any dirt that appears. This is how you can manage the all white sofa in your home while having a pet. Oxy Clean will be your BFF.

Slip Cover

Obviously slip covered sofas are a great option for pets because they can be tossed in the washing machine and brought out looking as good as new. You’ll still want to make sure that you keep your dog groomed regularly so you aren’t dealing with with excess dog hair.

Worst Couch Materials

Fabrics like silk, velvet, suede, or any type of loose weave fabric do not hold up well to pets’ nails and are like magnets to fur. Best to stick with a sofa with a leather, high performance fabric, or slip cover.

Source:  Home Depot

Source: Home Depot

Choose the Right Rug

One day I left my miniature schnauzer Nora unattended for too long she chewed a 4 inch whole in my Pottery Barn rug! I’ve come to accept that having a pet means you need to choose a rug that is up to the task.

Indoor- Outdoor Rugs (Polypropylene)

This is the “creme de la creme” of pet friendly rugs. You can literally hose these off outside and any pet stains will disappear like nothing ever happened. The polypropylene material makes it hard to for your dog to chew up. With more options than ever and the polypropylene fibers creating a soft texture, indoor/outdoor rugs are a great pet-friendly option.

Woven Cotton Dhurrie Rugs

You’ll often see this style at places like West Elm and All Modern, these rugs have a very tight flat weave that makes them lightweight and hard to chew up. Because of their low pile they are easy to vacuum too.

Wool Rugs

This might be difficult to believe, but wool is a great material to use in your pet friendly home. Wood rugs are naturally stain-resistant, and easy to keep clean as the natural oils in wool resist dirt and keep it from getting ground into the fibers. They can also be vacuumed, but you may want to take a broom to help loosen up any pet hair before vacuuming. Choose a rug with a tufted rather than loop pile (like my Pottery Barn rug) to make sure your dogs nails (or in my case teeth) don’t snag.

Tips when choosing a rug

  1. Dark patterned rugs to hide stains and discoloration

  2. Low pile rugs that are tufted rather than looped.

I’m celebrating that my sweet Nora is one - year old! This puppy dog of mine has brought me so much joy— even if she did chew a ginormous hole in my rug! I’m happy to be her dog-mom and create a home that we can all enjoy.

P. S. Nora has been dubbed he unofficial mascot of Homzie Designs! So, if you happen to hear any barking during your next design call, just know that’s my four-legged assistant tossing in her two-cents.




Love Your Laundry

Love it or hate it, doing laundry is a fact of life. But what if there was a way to make walking into your laundry room “spark joy” instead of “spread dread.” The laundry room is a great place to step out of your style box and try something new. In this room that rarely sees any house guests, you can transform a blank slate into a stylish retreat.

Here are some ideas on how to do it!

Add vibrant textiles & pattern

Wallpaper

Have you ever wanted to try wallpaper but felt too intimidated by it? If so, the laundry room is a great place to get your feet wet. These small spaces can be transformed by a bold wallpaper, creating a unique and inviting place to unload. Don’t feel like you have to cover each wall. Keep it simple by adding a single wallpapered accent wall. This will help ensure your laundry room feels open and not cramped.

Tile Work

A bold accent tile either as a black splash or floor design is another great way to add unexpected delight to your laundry room. Accent tiles can hold up against any unexpected splashes or spills and give you an additional style element. Coordinate your tile with your cabinetry and wall color for a surprisingly

Make storage Helpful & Beautiful

Function

Laundry rooms can quickly become chaos centers with piles overflowing, cleaning products scattered, and clean & dirty clothes stacked up high. Creating a laundry room that functions for you and your family is the first step in turning your laundry room into a space you enjoy spending time in.

If you have a front loading washer/dryer consider adding a counter on top of your appliances to give you extra space to fold & sort. If you have a top loading washer/dryer, you can still achieve this look by pulling the appliances out from the wall and adding a small shelf across the back.

Storage

Keeping your most frequently used cleaning products easily accessible is key. Displaying them in uniformed jars, bottles, and baskets is a great way to add organization and style to your laundry room. Try using these large clear canisters for tide pods & detergent, place your favorite cleaning spray in these amber apothecary bottles, and select seagrass, metal, or fabric baskets to store products on shelves and counters.

Make it do more

Multi-Purpose Space

Kill two birds with one stone by turning your laundry room into a mudroom/command center. If space allows, use your laundry room to store mail waiting to be sorted, chore chart, the family calendar, party invitations, car keys, backpacks, and more.

By hosting all of your frequently needed information in the laundry room it clears clutter from other spaces and ensures that family members will pass the laundry room frequently. Hopefully that leads them to clean up their clothes or start a new load of laundry.

Try this large stylish calendar from Michaels (I use this same one in my office!), a metal mail holder, and this board for party invitations

Luxury Detergents & Cleaners

Loving your laundry isn’t an impossibility when it smells this incredible! Step up your laundry game with luxury detergents and cleaners that will make you feel like you’re being transported to a secluded island retreat.

Our favorite luxury detergent to use is Glamorous Wash (diva scent)! Wash your sheets in this detergent for a long lasting scent that smells incredible. You can also try Sweet Grace Laundry Detergent or Mixture Detergent whose packaging is pretty enough to be put on display. Treat stains and dingy whites with Laundress Stain Solution and Bleach Alternative.

Always test new detergents and cleaners to be sure you don’t have any reactions to them!

keep decor simple

Keep any decor items simple and significant. If you’re a fan of the Magnolia Market laundry sign, give it a place of honor - front and center. A small faux plant and simple framed art or print can give your space the extra sophistication needed to help you love your laundry.

How do you love your laundry?

I’d love to know how you have turned your laundry room into your own little “happy place.” Drop me a message over on Instagram and let me know!

Biggest Farmhouse Style Mistakes

I’m about to step on some toes. Fair warning.

The modern farmhouse style was popularized by none other than the queen of farmhouse style herself, JoAnna Gaines. Fixer Upper taught us all that old can be made new and that charm and character should be put on display. However, many overshoot JoAnna’s sleek lines and worn accents trademark and end up somewhere north of Hobby Lobby.

Ouch right? I know this could get sticky, so if you find yourself guilty in one or many of these farmhouse style mistakes, don’t worry! I’m here to help you course correct and walk-it back. Hopefully teaching you some of the subtleties that JoAnna is known for so that you can nail the farmhouse style look.

Too many saying signs

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Your brain works really hard. Every second your brain is burning fuel to help decipher what information is important and what isn’t. This is a great thing because it helps keep you alive! When we give our brains too much to compute, it gets overloaded and starts to toss the unimportant stuff out.

Design is all about telling your brain what to focus on. Having too many saying signs creates and overload for our brains to read and decipher what is important and what isn’t. What ends up happening is our brains say “too much!” and stop consciously taking in any of it making it appear more cluttered and junky.

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If you’re looking to recreate the saying sign look, try and keep it to one sign per room. Make it a focal point, make it important. Give your brain something it will want to focus on.

 

Too many knick-knacks

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I’m about to step on a soapbox for a moment, forgive me. I see this style mistake all. the. time and it drives me crazy. The farmhouse style is incredibly popular thanks to Fixer Upper, because of that you can find farmhouse style decor virtually everywhere. Because this style is so readily available and incredibly affordable it can be easy to overdo it.

Often times I see spaces layered with farmhouse style decor. Layering in itself isn’t a bad thing, in fact it is a key part of styling a space. However, layering is all about balance. Like I mentioned before, your eyes are taking in a lot of stimuli and your brain is doing the hard work of trying to sort it all out. Often times what you were going for was JoAnna Gaines but what you got was Hobby Lobby.

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To undo this farmhouse style mistake, undecorate & simplify. Cut down your farmhouse knick-knacks. Make sure the decor you’re using is the right scale for the space and not too small tempting you to add more items to help increase the visual weight. Cutting down on items and choosing ones of the correct scale for the space will allow your eyes to see visual depth without creating mental overwhelm.

For tips on how to style without over styling check out my free guide below!

 

Not enough blank space

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This mistake builds off of the previous one. Because the farmhouse style is so affordable and readily available it can be tempting to cover your home in signs, knick-knacks, metal baskets, ceramic jugs, wooden crates, milk bottles, and greenery.

Almost every client when filling out their project questionnaire lists that they want their space to feel cozy. We love that! Cozy is a part of our name: home + cozy = Homzie. What can happen is that cozy can get replaced with cluttered. It’s a simple enough mistake to make. We often think by having little blank space it will make the room feel warm and inviting.

But in all actuality blank space is your friend! It’s like the margin in a book. If the words went edge to edge it would feel overwhelming. The margin helps make the words on a page manageable to read and gives them a natural frame.

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The same can be said of your farmhouse style decor. By allowing for enough blank space you give your eye enough room to breath so you can showcase those really special pieces like a vintage dresser that’s been passed down or a unique fireplace design. Let your farmhouse decor breath so that those special pieces shine through.

Too neutral of a color scheme

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Even though this one is last on the list, it is probably the most common farmhouse style mistake I see. Neutrals are the base for almost every farmhouse design, however that doesn’t mean it should stop there. Color adds depth, interest, and focus to a room. Adding color does not have to mean you sacrifice a soft & cozy ambiance either. Too often I see rooms that appear camouflage because they lack any depth of color to grown the space and give the eye something to focus on.

I know what you’re thinking, “But JoAnna always has neutral colored spaces.” And this is where I kindly and gently tell you you’re wrong. She never has entirely neutral spaces, never. Don’t believe me? I’ll link to a round up of Fixer Upper rooms for you to see for yourself. She is a color master! Bringing in natural, not just neutral, colors into a space. Greens, blues, deep oranges and yellows dot her designs like visual candy. It is the colors in the space that help create warmth, balance, and that soft ambiance farmhouse style lovers are craving.

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To course correct your neutral color scheme, try adding greens & blues to start. Add a colorful accent pillow, chair, rug, plant, or accessory to a space and begin building in a depth of color into your neutral space.

Need Help Styling Your Farmhouse Style Space?

Now that I’ve stepped on your toes, and likely offended you, let’s get you back on track! Transforming your Hobby Lobby overload into the Fixer Upper dream home you’ve always wanted. It all starts with a free design consult FaceTime call.

Smart Home Tools that Are Worth it

One of my favorite movies growing up as a 90s kid was one on the Disney Channel called “Smart House”. A boy won a tech-ed out house complete with virtual reality walls, a home assistant that could fulfill any request, and floors that absorbed dirt so you never had to vacuum. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and I dreamt of having my own “Smart House”

The other day I was reminded about that movie and was shocked to realize everything they dreamed up back in 1999 is now a reality! VR is becoming a thing thanks to Oculus googles, we have Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google all at our beck and call, and my good friend Roomba ensures I never have travel back into “olden times” and actually vacuum my own floors.

At the end of the movie, after their home assistant took over the house — cough cough Alexa, I know she’s listening & plotting against me I just know it, the family decides to scale back the tech and focus on only the most helpful forms of technology.

Today, I thought I’d do the same and talk through which pieces of “smart home” technology I think area actually worth it.

iRobot Roomba 690 with Wifi Connectivity

I cannot stand vacuuming! The machines are heavy and clunky, they hurt my back to operate and I’m always losing the attachments. Plus I just hate taking the time out of my week, every week, to vacuum. I kid you not when I say the Roomba changed my life. It has given me my time back!

Now, Roombas have come a long way since they were first created back in 2002. The first models had their issues, for sure, but now iRobot has got this thing figured out! To be clear there are a whole host of iRobot Roomba and Roomba like options out there. For the purpose of this review, I’m talking about the one I use in my own home, that is actually vacuuming right now as I write this.

Things I love about my Roomba

  1. It actually cleans my house: I have a dog, Nora, and she is always bringing in dead grass, dirt, and random leaves from the yard. She does not shed, but Lord knows my hair is falling out all the time. The roomba picks up all of that! Any stray piece of food, dirt, hair, or dust is easily captured by the roomba. It also is well equipped to get those hard to reach places, like under the bed! I was shocked how much dust it picked up. To clean it out you simply take out the tray and knock out all the dust and dirt in the trashcan. Occasionally, to keep it running smoothly you'll want to detach the filter and rinse it off, you’ll also want to check the bristles to make sure there isn’t too much hair clogging them up. Simple maintenance to keep it running like a dream.

  2. The battery life is incredible: One of the interesting things about the roomba is the battery life lasts longer the more you run it! That means using it only a day or two out of the week will drain the battery life faster than running it everyday. In my mind that’s a win-win, you have a clean house & a long battery life. For example, my roomba is set to start at 9:00 am MTWT, and it has been vacuuming now for almost an hour and a half, the whole first floor of my home. When it has finished cleaning or needs to recharge before it finishes it will return itself to the home base. It remembers where it left off, so if it wasn’t able to clean the entire area before the battery runs out it will pick up next time in those areas.

  3. The App: Occasionally I will have a design call and will want to shut off the Roomba while it is running to cut down on noise. From my office upstairs I can cut off my Roomba with just the push of a button, and restart it from my app whenever I’m ready. I can also schedule the Roomba and make any changes to that schedule. If you like the feeling of checking off an item off your to-do list you can enable the app to send you push notifications letting you know when the roomba has started and completed a job or if it has gotten stuck. You can even start the Roomba when you’re not at home. If you find out while you’re at work that friends are coming over and you forgot to pick up, simply hit the start button and Roomba will do her thing.

Things that could be better

  1. Can get stuck: This doesn’t happen every time it runs but at least once a week the roomba will get stuck on something. For me it’s usually one of my dog’s tug rope toys she’s brought out or it will sometimes get wedged under my dishwasher oddly enough. When that does happen the Roomba will chime and tell you basically “I’m stuck” and the app will notify you as well so you can locate it and take care of the issue.

  2. It is a little noisy: The Roomba does not operate silently. It does make some noise, I would say it is quieter than a vacuum cleaner but louder than the washing machine if that makes sense? It doesn’t seem to bother my dog at all, and I imagine it wouldn’t wake a sleeping baby, but if you are like me and work from home it could be distracting if you’re trying to jump on a conference call.

Overall, if there is one piece of technology that I thought truly would benefit your life it would be iRobot’s Roomba. The newest ones even clean the bin for you! I have only vacuumed my house using a traditional vacuum cleaner 4 times in the past year and a half since having it. This piece of technology gives you more time to be with your people, and spend less time cleaning.

Ring Doorbell System

The Ring isn’t just a fancy doorbell with a camera on it, for me it is an investment in home security. What started off as just another idea on Shark Tank (which they passed on by the way!) was bought by Amazon for $1 billion dollars. Talk about a missed opportunity, Mark Cuban.

I personally have seen the Ring Doorbell system catch an intruder. While at my old job an intruder somehow made it into the building and was trying to get access to another part of the building, saw the doorbell button and thought that it would open the door. What he didn’t realize is that it sent a notification to our staff member who recorded him on video and was able to call the police and they arrested him. Insane right!

For me, feeling safe in my own home is non-negotiable and necessary for me to love where I live. Doorbell and home security systems are popping up left and right, expanding their offerings as the same time. For the purpose of this review I’ll be sharing about the Ring Doorbell I use in my own home.

Things I love about my Ring Doorbell

  1. Great picture quality - Even at nighttime my ring gets an incredible clear wide angle view of whoever or whatever is approaching my door. You can set a “radius” for it to alert you when someone is close to your door or it will alert you when someone actually rings your doorbell. I have found this really helpful because throughout the day I can see when my garbage gets picked up or when a package gets dropped-off. I have opted into the subscription so my ring will record & keep the footage whenever it is activated. My roommate dated a “d-list celebrity one time” and you better believe I used the footage my ring captured as social proof I wasn’t making it all up!

  2. The ability to talk through the camera - This feature is key and would have saved me a phone call to the police a few years ago when a solicitor approached my door and I made the mistake of opening it, and things unraveled from there. This feature allows you stay safely inside while still being able to engage with the person outside your door. The microphone is incredibly crisp and sharp, no straining to understand one another.

  3. Check in on your home anytime - A new updated feature now allows you to peak into your camera’s view regardless if someone has rung your doorbell or not! I’ve used this feature when I am away on vacation just to check in on my property.

  4. The App - Not only does the app allow you to view who is at your door, peak in on your property, and adjust settings. You can watch back footage and share it with friends and neighbors. The app has its own neighborhood feature where people in the nearby area who are using the Ring technology, can share suspicious activity in the area. A really neat & helpful feature.

Things that could be better

  1. Slow to pull up picture - This one gets me in a pickle sometimes. I can be just a few feet from my door in my living room, my doorbell will ring, and my app will notify me and after I select to open the view it can take 8-10 seconds to load. It may very well be my wifi connection, but if not, I would want the app to open up a little faster so that I can more quickly address who is at my door.

  2. Difficult to reconnect Wifi - I have just run into this issue so it’s fresh on my mind. My wifi network password has changed and to reconnect my Ring I have to take off the outer piece and access the battery. Should be easy but for some reason I cannot get it off, fairly sure I’m doing something wrong, but I wish I didn’t have to remove anything to reset the wifi connection.

Philips Hue Light Bulbs

This one may not provide a “service” quite like the other two, but we’re learning more and more about how certain light can affect everything from our mood to our vision so it’s worth exploring how these smart light bulbs might improve your home life.

Philips Hue light bulbs connect to the Philips hue app to allow you to completely customize your light settings. Change the color to any hex code number you can imagine over 16 million different color and white shade options. Having a watch party for your favorite team? You can customize your lightbulbs to your teams colors, even syncing it up with music! If you’re not a fan of colored lights you can also adjust them to the perfect shade of white throughout the day. They are LED lights so they will save your energy bill and last for decades.

Things I like about Philips Hue bulbs

  1. The App - The app gives you complete control over your bulbs. You can even set a schedule to when you want them to turn on and when. A great option if you’re the kind of person who likes to be woken up “gently” and not abruptly. Change the color of your bulbs to fit your mood or improve your mood during long winter months by choosing a warm color without having the change the bulb.

  2. Wide Variety of Options - You can use the bulbs in overhead can lights or lamps and they have a variety of optional add ons like dimmers or motion sensors. So no matter what your lighting situation started out like, you can customize it to your liking. You can even set it to music. Forget an outdoor Christmas light show, you can have one in your living room!

  3. Control with Voice Commands - Turn on your lights with a simple voice command to Alexa or Google Assistant so you don’t have to walk through your house in the dark fumbling for a light switch.

Things that could be better

  1. Voice Control Responsiveness - The voice control feature is great but it isn’t perfect. No doubt in the future as voice search technology continues to improve this feature will as well, but for now it certainly works just not 100% of the time.

  2. Starter kit cheaper than the bulbs - One thing I hope they will fix in the future is that it is cheaper to purchase the starter kit I’ve recommended here than individual bulbs. In many cases it’s cheaper to buy a second starter kit, throw away the additional hub it comes with, and keep the bulbs rather than buy individual ones.

Echo Dot - Amazon Alexa

Like I said before, the future is in voice search. People everywhere are beginning to optimize their websites not just for SEO but for voice search making Alexa, Siri, and Google Home’s job a lot easier.

Each one of the smart home technology items I’ve mentioned above work with Amazon Alexa, and most with Google Home as well. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t quite used my Echo Dot to its fullest capabilities yet. There is a whole search category on Amazon called “Alexa Skills”that will allow you to learn about all of the different things she can do.

For now, I mostly use Alexa for my morning weather report, news updates, and occasionally to play podcasts while I’m working or in the shower. When friends are over I will use Alexa to play my Spotify Playlist. As of today, I’m not tapping into Alexa’s full potential but for under $50 you can have a home assistant that can turn on your lights for you, start the vacuum, or answer the front door.

One thing is for sure the future is here! Smart Homes are only going to become more of a thing of the present and grow in the future. Do you use smart home technology in your house?

How to Display Kids’ Artwork

Do you remember in elementary school, at the end of the school year, when you would take home all of your art projects in a "folder" made of two taped together poster boards? I do! I remember coming home proudly toting my years worth of creations and watching them “mysteriously disappear” soon after Summer started.

That’s why I wanted to share a few creative ways you can honor your child’s artistic “talent” without compromising the aesthetic of your own home!

Bulletin board

First off, I think it’s important to pair down your child’s art. Have them choose 8-10 pieces they want to “showcase” and the rest ….well they mysteriously disappear. It’s like choosing pieces for an art gallery, not everything can make the cut. Plus, your child knows which pieces they are truly proud of and which ones were simply an assignment they completed.

Emily Ley does a great job showcasing her kids’ most treasured artwork by having a bulletin board that gets changed out every semester. Your kids get to feel good about themselves having their work displayed on their board, and you don’t have to compromise style to get there. Simply choose a quality bulletin board that fits in with your home decor. Display it in a family area like near the kitchen table, in their bedroom, or in a play area.

Grab a cork board from a your local craft store and add a custom Framebridge frame like this one similar to the one Emily is using, or this wooden one.

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photo album with kids art photographed

I am unsentimental almost to a fault, so I admit this is probably the option I would choose. At the end of the school year, photograph your child’s artwork by laying it down on a white poster board and taking a flat lay picture from above. Then simply upload their digitized artwork to your favorite book making site, like Mixbook or Chatbooks and you have a memory they can refer to year after year.

This is a great option for our minimalistic clutter free mamas because it takes up less space than a piece of paper. Store your child’s digital art book in their room, on the family coffee table, or have them keep it in a memory box with all of their other special possessions.

Don’t want to go through the hassle of photographing your kids’ art and uploading the images to a photo site, Artkive does the work for you! Just send in a box with your kids’ art and they’ll do the rest.

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create A poster

This option is a blend of the first two. Digitize your child’s artwork and then put it on display on a printed and framed poster board. After you photograph each child’s favorite art pieces use a poster printing service like Walmart, Fedex, or Costco to create a collage of art that can be displayed for the year.

Showcasing your child’s art on a poster print allows it to look more like a singular piece of art on the wall, with clean lines and margins. It holds on to the memories without requiring you to hang on to hang onto the originals.

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Turn it into something else

A great idea for parents of preschoolers whose child’s art is simply an expression of color on paper. Take their finger painting to a whole new level by using it as the background for your silhouetted design. Use stencils or a circuit to create an outline of a fun shape or animal like a flamingo, dinosaur, lion, or even a unicorn and cut out the shape using your child’s finger painting.

Frame it with a large white matting and all of the sudden their finger painting becomes a work of art! This upcycle doubles both as a fun project that you can do with your preschooler and a new piece of artwork for their bedroom or playroom.

Framing the unexpected is one of my 6 of My Best Tips to Instantly Upstyle Your Home. Grab the guide, follow the steps, and start watching your space finally come together!

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framed in gallery wall in playroom

You had to know this one was coming, right? Probably the most common way parents display their child’s artwork is by simply framing it. A great option, and one we used in my own home growing up, but one that can look cluttered if not done right.

I suggest creating a fun gallery wall with a mixture of frame sizes, colors, and matting to help create a dynamic art display that not only displays the individual pieces of your child’s art, but looks like an art piece as a whole.

The key here is choosing a the right number of art pieces total — I would suggest no more than 12 — and selecting the right variety of frames to showcase them.