Laundry Day Giveaway!

HAPPY MONDAY, my friends!  This week I’m talking about dirty laundry.  You may recall that earlier this year I gave my laundry room an upgrade by painting it a cheery orange, hanging some functional artwork, installing a custom shelving unit and hanging canvas laundry bags.  I know it’s Monday and laundry is probably one of the most boring things in the world to read about, but there’s a giveaway at the end of this post so keep on keepin’ on!

Embrace My Space: Laundry DaysNot only were those new shelves begging for organization, but my laundry products themselves were really in need of a facelift.

Embrace My Space: Laundry

Since becoming a mom I’ve think about (and do) laundry more than ever.  Not only do I need to get things ‘really clean’ (i.e., removing poop stains), but what I actually use to clean my baby’s stuff is definitely a concern for me.  I’m not cool with detergents or fabric softeners leaving harsh residues on my boy’s soft skin.  Early this year I began looking into more natural ways to launder his clothing, blankets and sheets.  Rather than use special detergent just for his stuff, I began a quest to become a one-detergent household.  I will talk to you more about what detergent I selected on another day.  Just know that no matter what detergent I tried I noticed a common denominator: everything felt just a little bit stiff when it came out of the dryer.  My towels were the worst.  Pure crunchiness.

I’ve long since abandoned liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets.  After working at Restoration Hardware for a year, I broke down and bought a few RH Turkish cotton towels.  These towels are nice and they are, as far as towels go, pretty darn expensive.  We always advised our customers not to use fabric softeners on the towels because softeners leave a residue on the towels that reduces their absorbency over time.  When I bought my towels I decided to ditch the fabric softener on my towels only.  Then when I became a mom I read somewhere that fabric softeners also shouldn’t be used on baby clothes because they can reduce effectiveness of flame retardency and contain chemicals/fragrances that can irritate baby’s skin.  Since fabric softeners (and also detergents) leave residue behind that can build up on your stuff even when you aren’t throwing them in with a particular load, once I had the baby I just ditched the darn things completely!

But, what about the stiffness and the crunch?  I have hard water and a water softener so there’s a whole lotta factors impacting my laundry routine.  I’ve tried a few methods to help soften up my towels (the good ol’ vinegar and baking soda trick) and clothing, but the best solution I’ve found to date are dryer balls.

Embrace My Space: Laundry

There are many brands on the market and I chose to purchase a set of four Heart Felt Dryer Balls to give this natural softening method a try.  Heart Felt is a New Zealand-based company that makes its dryer balls out of densely felted New Zealand wool.  Dryer balls work by gently moving between your wet laundry in the dryer allowing the hot air to circulate better and dry your laundry up to 30-50% faster.  The movement of the dryer balls also serves as a natural fabric softener so there’s no need to use dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener to achieve softness.

Embrace My Space: Laundry

The dryer balls absorb water from your wet laundry while in the dryer so they are typically wet when you take out your load.  I store my dryer balls in a metal basket so they can air out when I’m not using them.   Adding a drop or two of essential oil (I use lavender or clean cotton scent) to the balls before placing them in the dryer gives your clothing that wonderful, fresh from the dryer scent that you’re likely used to if you use dryer sheets.  I keep my essential oils in the laundry room in a little glass candle holder right next to my balls.

As you can imagine, the balls bounce around in the dryer when you’re drying a load.  I don’t notice any noise when I’m doing a large load of towels or sheets, but if I’m drying only a few things I can hear the balls bouncing around in the dryer.  If your laundry room is in your basement you probably wouldn’t notice the noise.  My laundry room is on the second floor so I can hear them when I’m sitting below in my living room.

Embrace My Space: Laundry

My laundry has gotten remarkably softer since I started using these.  As I said, I have hard water and even though we have a water softener I believe there is still mineral buildup causing my clothing to feel stiff.  I notice a huge difference in the softness of my son’s clothing and diapers in particular.  For a while his sleepers were feeling really stiff and icky.  Now they are back to that softness they had when they were brand new.  My towels are also noticeably softer, although they still don’t have that brand new fluffiness I crave.  I’m hoping that over time these dryer balls will beat my towels into submission.

While I haven’t done extensive testing of the reduction in dry time, I will say that my clothing does dry faster using the dryer balls.  I’m just not sure it’s 50% faster!  My biggest stumbling block with significantly reducing dry time is likely the fact that most loads of laundry I do are extra-extra-extra large.  I have an HE machine with an enormous drum and no agitator so I tend to overstuff the washing machine.  Drying smaller loads of laundry would probably make a huge difference!  I use cloth diapers and that is where I see the biggest difference in dry time because those are relatively small dryer loads.  I could also try using more dryer balls.  Right now I only have four, but I think having six or eight for larger loads of laundry would work wonders for the dry time.

Yesterday I did a load of white towels as an experiment (4 towels, 4 hand towels and 2 wash cloths).  Without the dryer balls it took my towels 70 minutes on low to dry.  With the dryer balls the same load took 60 minutes on low to dry.  Not a huge difference, but definitely faster!  Drying at medium heat might make a difference as well, but I try to dry on low because I’ve heard that also helps eliminate crunchiness.  Since I purchased these for the purpose of softening my laundry (which is definitely working!) any reduction in dry time that I’m seeing is an added bonus.

Embrace My Space: Laundry

One of the very best things about these dryer balls is that they are reusable so there is no waste or harsh chemicals involved.  Perfect for anyone looking to live a greener life.  They also come in a beautiful organic cotton bag, which is great if you’d like to give them for a baby shower or house warming gift!  I personally will be giving these to all my new mom friends because, as a new mom myself, I know how much more time is spent on laundry after the addition of a little one!

These things are awesome!  Don’t believe that a couple of felt balls could make your laundry softer?  Then try them out for yourself!  The kind folks over at Heart Felt have graciously agreed to give away a set of four dryer balls to two lucky winners.  If you’d like to try them out for yourself please enter the giveaway below!  If you aren’t lucky enough to win, you can purchase your own set to try out here.

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The giveaway is open now and ends at midnight on Saturday.  I will notify the winners via email next week!  Good luck everyone!

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.  THANK YOU FOR ENTERING!***

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DIY Do-Over: Home Command Center

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD do-over, am I right?  As a DIY enthusiast I do a lot of planning before I start a project, but that doesn’t mean I don’t revisit an otherwise completed project if I later decide there’s room for improvement.  You may remember back in January when I made a DIY home command center for my kitchen.  I am all about getting organized in 2014 and I started small by making this handy dandy corkboard/shelf/key holder combo to corral all of our crap.

Embrace My Space: DIY Home Command Center

Seven months later and we’re going strong.  Keys are {usually} hung in their place, bills are filed and I always know where to find a pen/paper in a pinch.  Earlier this week I was looking at my mighty organizer and noticed the shelf was sagging on the right side.  Upon further inspection I noticed that the nail I used to hang the shelf was pulling out of the wall.  So I took the darn thing down in order to secure it to the wall.  One thing led to another and……

Embrace My Space: Home Command Center

I just couldn’t help myself.  I mean, it was off the wall anyway, so what harm could there be in giving it a little refresh?  I originally wanted the frame to be black because I had a piece of art hanging on the opposite side of the window with a dark brown frame.  I’ve since moved that artwork so now my whole reasoning for leaving the corkboard black was null.

Embrace My Space: Home Command Center

I simply spray painted the frame with a few coats of gray primer and then finished it off with several very thin coats of satin white spray paint.  To keep the cork clear of paint, before spraying I covered the entire area with a few sheets of newspaper and pinned them down with push pins.

Embrace My Space: Home Command Center

For a little extra flair, I covered the cork with chevron butcher style wrapping paper that I secured around the edges with push pins.  I love the effect the wrapping paper gives to the corkboard.  It looks almost as if the cork itself is printed with the chevron because of the rustic brown paper.  In the shot below you can see more of the chevron paper before I hung the shelf back on top of the corkboard.    Embrace My Space: Home Command Center

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t actually hang the shelf up.  I called my handyman.  I know, pathetic right?! But after breaking three drywall anchors off and gouging a few holes in the wall trying to remove them, I decided it was better for my physical and emotional health to get some help.  He was here and gone in 10 minutes.  Sometimes it pays to pay someone.

I bet some of you are looking at these pictures thinking, “hey, I can’t put my finger on it, but something is different here.”  That would be the addition of my Ikat Key drapery panels from West Elm.  I put those up a while ago and I’m loving the extra layer of color and pattern they bring to the kitchen.  I always say that, other than paint, window treatments are simplest change you can make for a huge impact in your space.  Just check out the before picture below to see the difference those two panels of fabric make in this space.

Embrace My Space: Kitchen Table Upgrade

That’s all I got for ya today! I hope you all have a Sunday Funday!

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Three Easy Steps for a Perfect Coastal Paint Job

IT’S SUMMER and the beach is calling my name.  Ok, who am I kidding, the beach calls my name all year round.  There’s just something about the blue hues of the ocean and the tropical colors of the Caribbean that makes my heart happy.  Although I’ve never lived within 100 miles of the ocean that has never stopped me from filling my home with colors you’d typically see in a coastal village.  I live by the decorating mantra to “love what you have. have what you love.”  For me, that’s all things that remind me of the coast.  So I will continue to decorate my 1990s suburban, builder’s special like it’s a fabulous beach cottage.  I really don’t care if this is a hoity-toity interior design faux pas!

Embrace My Space: Coastal Paint Job

Today I’m going to show you how to achieve an oh-so-soothing coastal paint job that’s sure to take you back to your last trip to the beach.  Our master bedroom is rather large and rather empty.  Really, I don’t see much of a point in extra expansive bedrooms, especially if there’s also ample closet space, but I’m embracing this opportunity to have something indulgent: a vanity!  I’ve kinda been on the lookout for a vanity for a while but I hadn’t been very vigilant.  With a new baby around I can’t say that I wear makeup (or even shower!) on a daily basis so investing a ton of time looking for a piece of furniture to house a whole bunch of cosmetics wasn’t something that was top of mind. When my mom told me she was getting rid of this old honey colored children’s desk my less-than-enthusiastic search was over.

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Ok, so now what?  I’m going to come right out and say that my master bedroom is really lovely.  I’m obsessed with my Quincy bed from Ethan Allen.  When I first stumbled upon this bed it only came in black and brown.  I forgot all about it for about three years.  When we moved into our current house we wanted to get a new bed and I stumbled upon Quincy once again.  But something had changed.  Ethan Allen had new colors.  Ethan Allen had turquoise.  I ordered that sucker without thinking twice.

Embrace My Space: Master Bedroom

Along with the turquoise bed, my bedroom also boasts white-washed nightstands, a teal dresser and a dark brown dresser.  Rather than fight all the blues I decided to just go with it and paint the vanity in a shade that would coordinate with, but not match, the rest of the stuff.

Embrace My Space: Coastal Paint JobLike any good sleep-deprived, lazy, DIYer mom would do, I busted out the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Look, there are a million different lovely ways you can blend, feather, layer, fan, fluff and wax Annie Sloan paint to make it look cool, but right now I’m loving this paint for one simple reason: this s*%t sticks without sanding.

I slapped on a few layers of spackle to cover the holes on the second drawer because having two pulls on one drawer is just weird.  Other than giving it a good scrub, that was the extent to which I prepped this piece before painting.  Now for your perfect coastal paint job in just three easy steps:

STEP ONE: CHALK IT UP.  Annie Sloan paint is thick, so with a cup of water by my side I layered on a few coats of Duck Egg Blue, frequently dipping my brush in water to keep the paint flowing smooth over my piece.  All told, it took about three full coats to get even coverage on the desk’s slippery finish.

STEP TWO: BRUSH ON SOME WHITE.  Working in small sections, I dry-brushed on a very thin layer of white paint.

STEP THREE: WIPE IT OFF.  Before the white paint dried completely, I used an old t-shirt to wipe off/rub in the layer of white paint I just applied.

I repeated steps two and three until the entire desk had a great weathered look to it.  This process really couldn’t be easier, although it does take a little finesse to get the white paint to dance oh-so-casually over the blue.  If there were spots where the white was too thick or splotchy, I added more Duck Egg Blue to that area and applied more white as necessary until everything was blended.

Embrace My Space: Coasta Paint Job

I’m really pleased with the final look.  I didn’t use wax or anything else to seal the paint job.  I figured the vanity wouldn’t get heavy use so the extra step was unnecessary.

Embrace My Space: Coastal Paint Job

I did, however, get a piece of glass cut to size for the top of the vanity.  Since I’m eventually going to use this as a nice place to sit and put on makeup, I wanted to the surface to be easy to clean up.

Embrace My Space: Coastal Paint Job

I have yet to use the vanity for its intended purpose, but I am finding it a pretty place to store/display some of my favorite baubles and jewelry vessels.

Embrace My Space: Coastal Paint Job

And I obviously couldn’t end this post without telling you about my little fishy drawer pull.  He’s from Anthropologie and he’s fabulous.  Doesn’t the paint job make it look like he’s swimming with the waves? I love it!  I’m trying to decide what other style of knobs would best accompany this little guy.  I don’t want to steal any of his thunder.  Simple white porcelain might do the trick.

Embrace My Space: Coastal Paint Job

Oh, and I also need a chair because eventually I’m going to have to sit here.  That’s next on the list!

Do any of you have a vanity? Is it an old heirloom piece or did you repurpose something?  What about a chair? Do you have something that matches or did you use something unexpected? I’d love to hear from you!

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