Category: Decor

franklin meets the pet shop

September 9th, 2013   |   DecorLife

FranklinMeetsThePetShopWhen we got married, we got a special IOU gift from our wedding photographer and officiant, Kim and Scott.

For those who don’t know, Kim is a pet portrait artist with a studio called The Pet Shop.

Which meant three months before we got Mr. Ben Franklin, we had a portrait of him waiting to happen.

We decided to hold off on our Franklin art until he was full-grown. So this summer, we sent Kim a few photos of the little guy in his signature “puppy sit” position.

For the background, I picked a bright blue that matched my my wedding shoes and bedroom drapes.

I think he turned out pretty darn cute.


If you stopped by last week, you might have spotted him on the wall with the new dresser in the writing room.


I only wish that Franklin appreciated his portrait a bit more. Most of the time, he’s just sleeping in front of his masterpiece.


Pups these days. Don’t even know what they got.

Last but not least, if you are thinking about ordering Kim’s work for the holidays, I will share a word of warning – she fills up early, so you better hurry to place your order if you want it by December 25th.

Thanks, Kim!

photo one by

TheWritingRoomGetsANewDresserFor the past few months, I’ve been scouring Craigslist for a new writing room dresser.

Up until now, I’ve been using an old Ikea bookshelf for storage and it was just looking rather blah and unorganized most of the time.

Though he looks pretty snazzy in the photo below, I can promise you it wasn’t always looking that neat day-to-day.


My quest for the perfect white and gold campaign dresser was unending.

I found a few options on Craigslist in the right style, but each one was either the wrong color (freshly painted lime green), or too short for the space.

But then one day a different lovely caught my eye…


Totally not a campaign dresser. But isn’t she pretty? (Feel free to ignore Franklin’s ear in the pic.)

She is from a local wife and husband duo called Meg Made who are pros at refinishing great pieces for a fraction of what it would cost to get a comparable dresser from the (awesome) White Attic.

We not only loved the dresser, we also loved Meg and her husband, Joe. We immediately hit it off and hung out three times within 48 hours of meeting each other.

The details on this dresser are amazing. Here’s a closer look at some of the pretty.

I’ve never seen corner detail like this before on one of these puppies.


And the hardware, delicate drawer moldings, and key hole detail are sweet.

(I have a feeling this may one day be one of the coolest changing tables ever.)


While I do realize this new dresser kinda tones down the whole “super prep” vibe I had going in the desk area…


… I’m kinda okay with that.

Yes, it’s a bit more eclectic in the writing room now. But really, I love every single piece in that room. So I’ve come to terms that it might look less “designed” than if there was more cohesion.

Whatevs. This room is a perfect reflection of my taste and I’m the one that has to sit in it most days, anyways.

Oh, and Franklin, too.

FranklinApprovedDresserLuckily, he approves.

Photo two and six by.

the soda stream

August 14th, 2013   |   Decor


A few weeks ago our friend, Sophie, came to dinner. While we fed her copious amounts of Blue Apron, we talked about our La Croix addiction.

We drink so much sparkling water that we have been buying three crates every time we go to Cost Co. After hearing this, Sophie told us about a little thing called the Soda Stream.

It makes soda water in 11 seconds flat.  

Sound too good to be true? I made this video to show how insanely fast it is.

And fortunately, it doesn’t take up a lot of counter space, either.

SodaStreamOnCounterBy doing just a little bit of math, we realized that we will be saving money, and dozens of aluminum cans, with this purchase by November.

So for anyone else out there who has trouble keeping La Croix stocked in their fridge, this might be a good alternative to consider!

the writing room takes shape

August 13th, 2013   |   DecorLife


Over the past few weeks I’ve been transitioning my guest room to a writing room.

I am devoting this new special place to important and longterm projects. I initially tried to maintain my focus while sitting at my desk in the living room, but I  found it hard to execute longterm projects there. An unproductive inbox habit has taken root in the living room and it steals my focus and attention on high-level work.

So far, I’ve been careful during this transition to avoid checking my inbox in the writing room. Being vigilant about the “no email in the writing room policy,” is helping me to avoid forming a habit trigger that would otherwise steal my productivity in this space as well.

However, I’d like to put all of that intentional productivity aside. Right now I’d like to get to the fun stuff: the freshly dressed side tables.

Because I’m still keeping the guest room bed and furniture, the changes that I have made in this room are largely in the details. I’ve been incorporating items that inspire me and make me ridiculously happy to work in the space.

Enter my new love: Ophelia, Goddess of Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.


She is a lovely and quirky print by Kari Herer. By the way, I am in love with all of Kari’s work (and hope to one day own this and this). I totally suggest checking out her shop.

I also have a little white vintage vase for pens, and a notebook for new ideas.

On the other side of the “writing bed,” I have an original watercolor of Franklin, created by Joy Laforme for her Pet Project series.


Mr. (Ben) Franklin is looking so dapper in his new frame.

Here’s a peek at the new vignettes in context to the bed and the Caitlin Wilson pillow that inspired this room makeover in the first place.


And here’s Ophelia again.


This space has come a long way from where it was just a few months ago.


Before I started to make these changes, I had a nagging thought that the room – filled with mismatched items from apartments past – was “good enough.” Meanwhile, the disconnected decor quietly irked me. I resented spending time in the room.


Now that I see these simple changes in place, I’m so happy I went ahead and didn’t let “good enough” get in the way of “amazing and perfectly me!”

Being in this room is now the happiest time during my workday.


PS – It’s pretty cool to see how this new look matches the blog so well! A true sign of personal branding, huh? I kinda feel like I’m working in my blog.

lovely little accents

July 24th, 2013   |   DecorLife



Though we had really done a great job completing the house for our mega Thanksgiving party in the winter, there was still some finishing touches to add.

So we’ve been slowly making updates this month that I thought you might want to see!

Let’s do a little tour, shall we?


The Guest Room


First of all, you’ll notice that I got those Caitlin Wilson pillows I shared about a few weeks ago. I have to say, I’m in love with this British Bouquet one in the guest room. If I could turn that fabric into a dress, I totally would. Mr. Lively really loves it, too.




You’ll also notice that the changes I planned on July 2nd have happened! Here’s the before. You’ll notice a whole lotta color and a painting that Mr. Lively dubbed, Birds walking on clown vomit.




And here’s the now.




I painted new art (Mr. Lively named this one The Jess Lively Creative Inc. Flag), replaced the pillow cover, changed the sheets (old), and got a new fluffy duvet cover (seen here).

I’m now using the guest room as my ‘writing room.’ So having the large expanse of white with pops of gold, white, coral, and color is like living inside my brand everyday.



The Living Room


The coral Deco pillow has also added a nice pop in the otherwise neutral living room. The gold pillow is from West Elm.





The Entryway


While in Ann Arbor the other week, we also scored the deal of the century. This white and gold(!) mirror cost just $37. Steals like this can always be found at Treasure Mart. Last year we scored our white marble coffee table there for $60, as well.




I think the entry looks way more finished now that the mirror is hung. It’s obviously very practical and pretty at the same time.

Oh, and that lamp? Here’s a secret: it’s not plugged in! There is no plug nearby, but the table needed a bit more height, so I put it there anyway.

Tip: You’ll also notice the ‘his and hers’ trays for our keys – a great way to beautify any Mister clutter.

And that completes our tour! We are still saving our pennies for the living room armchair makeover. But until then, the home is looking a bit more polished with these little additions.


DIY plant stand

July 8th, 2013   |   DecorStyle



While donating a batch of exfoliations from my recent Throw Out 100 Things challenge, Mr. Lively and I did a quick run through the Brown Elephant looking for a potential plant stand.

Because, as you might recall, our patio looks quite cute, except for the current plant stand situation.




Franklin has a thing for eating fauna and this pot of plants was no exception. So for several months we kept the pot perched on the patio chair. (Try saying that five times fast.)

Not the prettiest solution, but it worked.

However, luck was on our side that day at the Brown Elephant. For just $20 we came home with a little woven patio table that originally came with a glass top.




Knowing the glass top wasn’t ideal for the table’s new life as a plant stand, Mr. Lively picked up a piece of scrap plywood for free at Home Depot and borrowed Scott’s saw and drill to make a wooden top sturdy enough to support the heavy planter.

As you can see, Franklin tried to be a part of the process as much as possible.




Once the top was cut and a drainage hole was created in the center of the wood, Mr. Lively sanded, stained, and poly coated the plywood to make it look a bit more upscale.




And there you have it. A much prettier plant stand made from a $20 table base outfitted with an almost free DIY table top.

The patio is now complete.




I’m getting the itch to update the apartment and finish a few projects.

As I mention in the makeunder steps, one of the keys to designing a life with intention involves reflecting and evolving. Which pretty much can be summed up in “contrast your present life with your vision for your space and see what needs to be exfoliated or included.”

When I do that now, I find that though my guest room and living room are “good enough” to keep as they are, they don’t quite have the oomph and polish that I have envisioned.

So I’ve been playing around in my head with different items and changes I’d like to include and exfoliate in each room to complete my vision in real life.


The Guest Room

When it comes to updating the guest room, the major focus of change is bedding and art.




Though I dearly love the look of the rest of the room (as seen in the image at the top of this post and the updated gallery wall), this bedding and art is not communicating the same finesse because it is quite frankly a hodge podge of old bedding from past apartments.

The inspiration for the new look centers around this adorable pillow by Caitlin Wilson.

31.1I love this print and think it would make a great statement for the room.

With this busy pattern in mind, the painting I did most recently on the big canvas above the bed will need to be updated again. This time I’m thinking of trying my hand at doing a soft, white on white concept that could look like a lace pattern… but that I’ll figure out later.

I’ve also contemplated re-covering the headboard with a different fabric temporarily (something from Domesticate, perhaps?), but I may get too lazy to attempt the project since I’m not confident it’s worth changing.

And that duvet, though adorable and prefect for a future daughter’s bedroom, is too different from the new pillow pattern stick around. I’ll most likely stash that for guests and that future daughter.

In the meantime, I’m thinking a simple throw or discounted white duvet cover would work well with my Grandparent’s knobby white coverlet that I adore.


The Living Room

Yes, I admit, I was so afraid of the brick walls in the apartment that I stuck to an intensely neutral color scheme.




Pretty, but even Mr. Lively was asking for a little more color like my previous living room.

Plus, the reality is that the brick ain’t that big a deal, and I can totally inject some colorful pillows and a coral chair (thanks to your help!) for good measure.

I’ve wavered back and forth on the right pillows to add to the couch. Right now I’m leaning towards another Caitlin Wilson pillow combo in coral.




So nice. And perfect for a summer look. I’d love to have this cheerful pillow combo for the spring/summer and the current, more neutral look for the winter.




And then there’s the chair. I love him dearly, but he is not going to be cheap to reupholster. So until we have the funds, I’m waiting patiently for his new outfit.

Now, I gotta go have a chat with Mr. Lively about my ideas…


one/four, three/five

the growing gallery wall

June 27th, 2013   |   DecorLife



Things have been pretty low-key on the interior design front at home lately. I’m still searching for the perfect solid coral upholstery fabric and the cash to reupholster our living room chair.

But I did get a little project done for the cost of a few frames.

A week ago the guest room gallery wall looked something like this.



photo by

A cute little set of four.

However, I collected a few new pieces to frame. So the wall looks like this in the new expanded state.




I’m really loving the full effect of the added prints.

Though gallery walls can become quite expensive when a lot of art and framing is involved, this one has been pretty inexpensive overall. Each frame is from Michael’s except the gold framed painting (painted by Mr. Lively’s father).

Looking closer, you’ll see that there are some free items like sentimental cards and coasters.




The lowest left print is actually a cute engagement card I received from Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio. The Pink Pony item is actually a framed coaster from a trip to Mackinac Island.

The silver one is actually a piece of the marathon blanket I got after finishing the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco with the finishing medal. And last but not least, the coral Just Keep Going print is from the Wish I Knew launch.




Up top, there is a new gold and white wedding print sent as a surprise gift to me by Jackie of Sincerely Jackie. The blue frame has more coasters, this time from some date nights in Austin. And the gold Just Keep Going is a handmade print by Charmaine of Everly Calligraphy for the Austin With Intention workshops.

Overall, I’m thinking that this might be the completion of the wall. But like I say to Mr. Lively, you never know…


PS- On the topic of gallery walls, I just worked with a web clinic client who has mastered the art of the gallery wall. So brilliant.


pet organization

May 30th, 2013   |   DecorExfoliatingLife



As Franklin has accumulated more stuff, I’ve been working on finding ways to store items in a pretty way.

So far, so good. Here are a few little spots around the living room that are pup-friendly.




Right near the front door we have this little hook, found at Zara Home.

This has been his leash, harness, and coat hook. It’s simple, cute, and easy to use each time he needs to go out.




The chest near the front door also has a drawer with his brush and 30′ leash for dog park walks.




On the top of the chest, we have trays and bowls for both Mr. Lively and Franklin.

Franklin’s hammered bowl from Nate Berkus’ Target line houses extra baggies, treats, and clickers.




On the kitchen peninsula, we also have a cookie jar with his medications and other treats. This my favorite way to disguise dog items in a pretty way.




For dog toys, we have a wooden wine crate.

Truth be told, I have the cutest little french woven basket for his toys. But Franklin’s more fond of chewing the basket more than his toys… so I’m crossing my fingers that one day I’ll be able to use the basket instead of the wine crate.

And if you look closely, you’ll notice he’s put some marks on the edge of this bin as well.

Other than these items we have a big brass trunk in the hallway that houses extra food, shampoos, and his puppy coat.

We also have a binder that has all of his medical records which has proven to be really handy.

Hopefully some of these ideas might prove to be useful for others with pet products scattered about the house.




Good morning!

Upon returning home from camping this weekend I had the itch to organize. Everything.

So this week I’m going to change up the posting a bit and devote the week to organization.

To kick things off, I’m sharing the most satisfying project that I’ve completed in a looong time.

Quite simply: I have “solved” my bath product travel problems.

Up to this point, I always had a hodge podge of products full-size, travel size, and otherwise to throw in a cute bag and take with me on trips.

But as this weekend’s packing proved: I never really know when I’ve included everything.

For example, I was convinced that I did not pack my toothbrush on the drive to the campgrounds, so we picked one up on the way. But later I found out that I did bring a toothbrush and bought the new one unnecessarily.

And since I have the trip to Austin for the workshops this weekend, and a trip to San Fran coming up in June, I felt the urge to make a bath bag that had everything I’d ever need.

This way I only have to “pack” my glasses and birth control.

First, I assembled the products that I use.




Though it’s kinda crazy, the products above aren’t all that I need, they are simply the larger, bulkier items that are hard to pack.

After a quick trip to Target, I purchased a solution for these big guns.


Bam. These little bottles that came with stick-them-yourself labels are perfection.

I grabbed two of the travel packages and ended up using every single one.

The bonus here is that I have a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner that I need for my hair treatment, so now I don’t need to pack mini hotel shampoos and conditioners that hurt my hair.

And things like contact solution and Moroccan Oil that before were bulky in my suitcase are now miniaturized.

Plus, the designer in me loves that they are all visually cohesive.




Then, my inner-nerd got even more excited.

I divided the bottles by use: one bag for the shower, one bag for the vanity.




To house the items, I chose this large silver tote from Z Gallerie, which formerly housed Jess LC inventory for several years.

It happened to be the perfect size with two extra pockets for extra necessities.




In the front pocket I have all of the quick essentials like hair ties, bobby pins, Vaseline, aspirin, and face wipes.




Inside the interior pocket I stashed some tampons, extra contacts, and first aid items.




The main compartment houses the two bottle bags, a tooth brush, face lotion, toothpaste, and my glasses. (Note: I still need to add a deodorant to complete the essentials.)




Which happen to fit quite nicely.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been zipping and unzipping these compartments to peek inside and enjoy the organization quite a bit.

Makeup and my blow dryer are not included in this kit, of course, but more on that later.

Each trip, I can also remove any items that won’t be necessary. But I love that this kit will now get me through future travels without thinking, “man, I wish I had brought _____ with me.” 


my attempt at abstract art

May 20th, 2013   |   DecorLifeStyle



Since moving to the new apartment, I have grown bored of the floral painting I made for my old bedroom, which is now housed in our guest room.

Though it looked great in my last apartment (bel0w), it felt a bit too literal in its new home.



taken by


So I did what I did before with the flower painting, I decided to paint over it.

Only this time I wanted to test out a new style: abstract.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Jen Ramo’s work, and have been adoring Danielle’s piece in her apartment for several months.

But since I don’t have the budget for a piece like that for my guest room, I decided to try my own take on abstract in a cheerful palette.




… However, the first attempt was unsuccessful.

While I was going for, “cheerful abstract,” Mr. Lively aptly coined this piece, “Clown Vomit.”

Though the name stung a bit, I knew he had a point.

So this weekend I attempted to resurrect the piece and make it slightly less… vomit-like.




This was the end result.

As you can imagine, I was quite keen to hear what Mr. Lively’s art critique would be this time.

He first assessed that this new version looked like “Bird Footprints on Clown Vomit.”

Again, not good.

But then he took another look, and felt there could be an alternative title; “Abstract Tulip Fields.”

Much better. 

So that’s what I’m sticking with.

“Abstract Tulip Fields.”

Though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea – and I know that I’m meant to keep my day job - I kinda like it.

It makes me happy and it feels right at home in the guest room.

Which is really what it’s all about.



our patio garden

May 6th, 2013   |   DecorLife


As long as I’ve known Mr. Lively, I have known that he dreams of having a garden.

His mom is a prolific gardener, and while living as a bachelor before moving to Chicago, Mr. Lively had his own vegetable garden as well.

And though we one day hope to have a home with yard or roof deck for our own vegetable garden, for now we are making the most of our current patio.

As you might recall from our home tour, the patio looked like this during the fall.


WinterPatiophoto by

Very cute, but lacking plants.

But after a little work this weekend, it now looks like this.




Same chair, rug, and vintage cooler, but now with a flower box full of color and a pup looking for his next treat.

On the left side of the flower box, we also have a new little friend.




Gus, the Garden Gnome, hails from the land of Target and now sports a gold-painted hat (of course).

In addition to the flower box in the center, we have a box filled with basil and cilantro, our favorite herbs, on the left side of the patio.




We also added a big pot filled with all the shade loving flowers we could find, as another “garden” element.




Because Franklin is fond of eating everything, we currently have it resting on a chair, out of the pup’s reach, until we can find the perfect perch.

While buying flowers for the pot, we overestimated how many plants we would need.

So the remaining plants made their way into a few empty vessels on the patio dining table.




Here’s a wide shot to give you the full effect.




Overall, we are really happy with how it all came together.

Though the space is rather small (5′x12′), it has everything we need for dinners and drinks outside during the warmer months to come.


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