Decorating with Books

I love books.  I love reading them, I love collecting them, and I love decorating with them. 

In general, I really like to decorate my home with things of substance, not just things that are pretty to look at.  My favorite things are ones that tell a story or reveal something about the people who live there, and books are one of the best accessories for doing just that.   I'm pretty much always on the hunt for more books to add to my collection, and my goal is basically to be surrounded by them {in a stylish way} without making my house look like a library. 

Even if you don't enjoy reading all that much, you can still decorate with books like a pro, and no one would ever know the difference.  Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite ways to use books as décor, tips for selecting books, as well as highlight some of my favorite books to use when decorating. 

Ways to decorate with books:

1.  Shelves {Vary the direction for interest - stand some upright, lean some, stack some}

{Image via Style Caster}

2.  Stacks {Stack groups of books just about anywhere to add a "lived-in" quality to a room - on tables, under tables, next to the fireplace, even next to an arm chair as a place to set your coffee!}

{Image via Lonny}

3.  Behind a Sofa {I don't see this being done too often, but I love the look of it, and I'm doing it in our living room currently.  We happen to have a shelf already at the perfect height right behind our sofa, but if you don't have one, you can always install one there or add a thin sofa table}

{Image via Etsy}

4.  Baskets and/or Wooden Crates {Need I say more?  I'm a huge fan of organizing around the house with all sorts of baskets and rustic-looking crates.  Stylish + functional!}

{Image via Etsy}

5.  Coffee Table {A very versatile area to decorate using books - and a place where many guests will sit + leaf through them as well.  Group stacks underneath or on top in trays}

{Image via The Every Girl}

6.  Kid's Rooms {I love this idea for a nursery, kid's bedroom or playroom - again, it has that great mix of being a functional way to store books so they don't get trampled on by the kiddos, and it also displays them beautifully - almost like artwork}

{Image via Apartment Therapy}

7.  Guest Room {Books can be a nice touch to add to a guest room, especially if they are about the area you live in.  If guests come in from out of town, a little stack of travel books would be fun for them to leaf through and learn more about your city.  On a nightstand is a great spot - or even hanging on a ladder - an adorable idea from my friend Amanda}

{Image via Marshalls Abroad}

Tips for selecting books:

1.  Think about the color-scheme your are going for.  The books shouldn't all match, but they should all coordinate well with that color-scheme.  For instance, if you are going for a beachy theme in the room, the books you select might all be pale colors - blues, greens, with maybe a tan, gray or white one thrown in there to ground it. 

2.  Buy pretty books.  This might go without saying, but I'm saying it anyway.  Attractive book covers make attractive décor.  I love the eclectic feel of varying colors, patterns + sizes.

3.  Mix old with new.  I love when I see newer books paired with some vintage classics with their old covers!

4.  Think about the topic.  As with anything in design, I believe that decorating with books is a combination of beauty + functionality.  So, select books that are about something you enjoy.  If the book about gardening has a gorgeous cover, but you absolutely hate horticulture, then you need to put it back on the shelf.  Why?  Because {and this is just my design opinion} what you fill your home with shouldn't just be generic stuff, but things that tell a story about who you are.  Also, if you have books about topics that you actually enjoy, you might even end up reading them one day, which, ultimately, is the true reason to own a book, no?

And, lastly, some of my personal favorite books to decorate with:

1. Domino: The Book of Decorating by: Deborah Needleman
2. I Married Adventure by: Osa Johnson
3. Remix: Decorating with Culture, Objects + Soul by: Jeanine Hays + Bryan Mason
4. Harper's Bazaar: Greatest Hits by: Glenda Bailey
5. Design in the Hamptons by: Anthony Iannacci
6. Gypsy: A World of Colour + Interiors by: Sibella Court
7. Allegra Hicks: An Eye for Design by: Allegra Hicks
8. Elements of Style: Designing a Home + a Life by: Erin Gates
9. In with the Old: Classic Décor from A to Z by: Jennifer Boles
10. Tom Ford by: Tom Ford
11. HUE by: Kelly Wearstler
12. Little Women {Rifle Paper Co. Edition} by: Louisa May Alcott

I hope you've been inspired today!  Thank you for reading!


Sightseeing at UT Campus

Weekends are so very busy for us.  I wish this wasn't the case, but for now, it is.  Between work, classes, training for the Spartan Race, and trying to actually make dinner once in awhile, we don't have much time during the week to get projects done around the house.  That being said, we generally save up all our house projects for the weekends and haven't done much exploring of our city lately {one of my passions}.

One thing that makes Austin, Austin, is that we have The University of Texas {UT, if you will} - home of the Longhorns and the school where the loyalty of just about every engineer I work with lies. Basically, it's kind of a big deal around here.  And the campus itself has a lot of history as well.

Last weekend it was absolutely gorgeous outside, and between trips to The Home Depot, we made time to take a walk together through campus - one thing we have yet to do.  Although the University is pretty much right smack in the middle of downtown, we tend to drive past the enormous stadium where the Longhorns play {deserves a post all its own!} and the famous clock tower {site of the 1966 massacre}, never really taking the time to walk through it.  In fact, I've even gotten to visit a few of the buildings for work, but never just to explore campus.

So, without further ado, here are a few shots I took while walking through UT's campus last weekend {mainly on our way to see the Turrell Skyspace, which was one of the projects my company worked on}.


{Recipe} Healthy + Simple Valentine Strawberry Pancakes

Happy {almost} Valentine's Day, friends! My husband and I don't usually go all out for this holiday {with the exception of our Valentine's trip to Ie Island we took that one time}. He might get me some roses, but at any given time, we are spending money on things that are more important to us than jewelry and chocolates - like trips or other random items for our house.  So, we end up taking whatever large purchase we happen to be spending our money on at the time, and we call it our "Valentine's Day gift" to each other.  Last year, I think I got a dishwasher "for Valentine's Day". This year, it's a new master bathroom.  Is that lame?  I don't care.  

So, since things aren't getting super festive around here this year, I decided to do this simple, fun little recipe {just a twist on our normal pancakes} to add a little something to Valentine's week. We made these using healthier ingredients {gluten-free pancake mix + unsweetened applesauce in lieu of oil}, but feel free to use whatever mix you like.

Healthy + Simple Valentine Strawberry Pancakes

3 c. Gluten-free Pancake Mix {my favorite is this one}
2 Large Eggs
1-1/2 c. Milk {we used cow milk, but almond would work well, too}
2 tbsp. Unsweetened Applesauce
2 tbsp. Honey
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
Fresh Strawberries
Pure Maple Syrup and/or Powdered Sugar

Slice the strawberries and cut the tops to shape them into little hearts.  Set them aside.  {I used 3 strawberry slices per pancake, but you can add as many as you like}

Thoroughly combine the pancake mix, eggs, milk, applesauce, honey + cinnamon in a mixing bowl.  Spray your griddle with non-stick cooking spray and preheat on low/medium.  Once heated, pour your pancake mix + place your sliced strawberry hearts onto the tops of each pancake.  Gently press them just slightly into the batter. 

Cook the pancakes most of the way through in this position, with the strawberries facing up.  When you can tell the bottom is fully cooked, turn the heat down to low + flip the pancakes over.  Make sure to have enough non-stick cooking spray on the griddle and not cook the pancakes too much on this side, or the strawberries will stick. 

Top with some pure maple syrup and/or some powdered sugar + enjoy with some fresh strawberries on the side!

I hope you all have a great weekend + a wonderful Valentine's Day - thanks for reading!



Master Bathroom Remodel Part I {Demo + Shower}

This has been such a long-awaited post.  We've been investing {our time, money, blood, sweat + tears} into our master bathroom remodel for the past 4 months, and I wanted to finally document it on the blog since I am starting to see the finish line in sight.  We're not quite there yet, but we can see it.  And, like an excited child on Christmas morning, I can't wait to jump the gun and show you our progress so far. 

I would like to preface this post by stating that my husband and I are first-time homeowners and semi-DIY'ers.  Meaning: we want to be hardcore DIY'ers, but some of our projects don't turn out exactly as we've envisioned, leading us to pick up the phone and call in a professional.  Sometimes.  And sometimes, things work out.  We are learning our limitations. 

A bathroom remodel in general contains many different aspects in one project.  There's the demo, the plumbing, the framing, the drywall, the electrical, the insulation, the tiling, the painting, and in our case, the subfloor replacement - the thing that really started it all.  Yes, back in October last year, Matt was doing a simple "re-caulk the shower" job in our master bathroom, and ended up finding a small leak that had been slowly eating away the wood subfloor underneath our shower and soaking tub.  At the minimum, we knew we needed to replace our shower and subfloor, but we weren't even sure if we wanted an outdated soaking tub anymore.  Everything in our bathroom was screaming, "circa 1996!", so, we did what anyone in our situation would do - we took to Facebook and asked our friends to weigh in on their thoughts of shower + tub vs. one giant shower.  One thing led to another, and we quickly ended up in the middle of a full-blown remodel.  Funny how that happens...

Now, I have to give ourselves some major credit on this project.  Not everything we've attempted to do in the past has worked out well for us, but we really haven't hit too many major bumps in the road with this one {fingers crossed - it's not over yet}.  We're starting to learn when we need to call in the pros vs. when we can do things ourselves.  And we're starting to learn the easier ways of doing things vs. the more complicated ways {which there are many of them}.  And so far, it's saved us a ton of money. 

So, today I'm sharing a few shots of our demo + shower-making journey with you.  Enjoy!

Yes, that is me with a sledge-hammer, tearing it up.  Watch out, everyone!

I loved the demo phase, because it felt like we were making a ton of progress so quickly.  I was coming off of our garage project that moved at a snail's pace {a post for another day}, so this was a welcome change. 

After removing all of the {very, very heavy} pieces of our old shower and tub, we removed our damaged subfloor and replaced it with a new plywood sheet.  I can't believe we replaced our own subfloor.  In our own house.  I feel like such a grown-up.

Next step was opening up our ceiling, running electrical, installing our new exhaust fan {a bigger shower needs a bigger fan, right?}, new can lights and plumbing {our new rain shower head}!  Close it all up with insulation and some new sheet rock on the ceiling, and we're almost ready for the pros to take over this project.  And props to Matt who crawled through our attic with a roll of fiberglass batting to insulate our new ceiling - serious props.  Not fun, people, not fun.

On to the framing.  To be completely honest, I didn't realize that we were responsible for the framing at all. Matt was the one who met with Jon, our shower + tile guy, originally, and he must have told him that we would be able to do that ourselves.  I didn't find this out until I was emailing back and forth with Jon about the project and he mentioned us being in charge of the framing... surprise!  So, we figured out how to build our own shower bench, curb + wall niches, which turned out to be a great thing, because the control freak side of me was able to make them exactly the sizes and put them in exactly the locations that I wanted them.  And we saved money.  And we learned something new.  Win, win, win.

And finally it was time for the shower pan to be made!  After the fiberglass was installed, they filled it with water and let it sit for a couple of days to make sure it didn't leak {a little nerve racking}.  It ended up not leaking {yay}, and we moved on to tile installation!  We went with this light gray porcelain wall tile that we found on clearance at multiple Home Depots for only $1.27/sq. ft.!    And we went with this charcoal gray glass tile for the shower floor. And yes, we had a team of awesome hipsters installing it for us - this is Austin after all.

And that's all I'm showing for now!  You're going to have to wait until the big reveal to see how it all turned out;)  Keep an eye out for part II of this little installment where I show you how we tile our bathroom floor.  Thanks for reading!


Target Dollar Finds {Vol. 1}

So, am I possibly the only person left who hasn't heard about Target's dollar section and how fantastically awesome it is?!  I like to get a deal {who doesn't?}, but I've come to realize that what I love is the thrill of the hunt - finding a gem amongst piles of mehh items.  Maybe this is why I love stores like TJ Maxx + Marshalls so very much...

A few weeks ago, I made one of my usual trips into Target for ?? {I hardly ever remember what I actually go into Target for these days, but I always come out with a bag full of goodies}.  On my way in, I passed by those few lone aisles up near the entrance known as the "Dollar Spot" {I'm pretty sure that's the official name}, and for some unknown reason, I decided to browse.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Disclaimer: half of the shelves are filled with coloring books and plastic trinkets for little kids, so you must look past all of that {unless you have little kids and/or like to color, then by all means}.  The other half is filled with little treasures - stationary, containers, gift wrap, stamps, crafting supplies - for $1 each. 

Since then, I've been back a few times.  I love that they change it up so often and there is always something new to find.  It brings back fond memories of being back in Okinawa where I was always so excited to go see what was new at the local 100 yen store.  Anyway, I anticipate this being a regular occurrence, so I thought I might start sharing with you anything I pick up in case there is something you might want to run out and pick up, too!  Sharing is caring;)

{gold alphabet stickers // magnetic chip clips // black + white sticky notes //
hello notecards // erasable chalk marker}

{diy natural + pale pink notecards // gold striped notecards}

{fun patterned pens + mechanical pencils //
hair elastics - I remember paying $10 for a pack of 4 of these on Etsy when they first came out!}

{chalkboard labels - for herb pots, cheese plates, etc. etc... // jute twine for gift wrapping // 
"with love" stamp + gold ink pad} 

Thank you for reading!  I'm glad you're here!