Thursday, January 17, 2019

7 THINGS WE'RE SO HAPPY WE SPENT THE MONEY ON DURING OUR RENOVATION


Without a doubt, renovations are expensive.  Even when it comes to small projects, they usually end up costing more than what you initially expected or budgeted for.  Our renovation for @thelovelycottage was 8 months and when you're in the thick of it, you feel exhausted - personally and monetarily.  To be completely transparent, we had days where we felt like we couldn't pinch any more pennies to make our vision come to life.  However, there were things that we both knew were negotiable, and things that we really fought hard for.  Here are SEVEN things that were totally worth the money for us -

ONE. // WINDOWS.  Our contractor fought me so hard on adding so many additional windows to his initial blue print, but I wanted endless light and I wanted it all day long.  We added 16 windows to the cottage when we renovated and to be completely honest, if I could go back, I'd add more.  Natural light is one of those things that just makes me so happy and that's worth everything.

TWO. // THE DECK.  Before renovations, our home only had a small back door (which we kept to use as the laundry room door) and even smaller concrete stoop.  We decided to rip all of that out and build a large, wooden deck that would help flow the existing house into the addition.  We even decided to enlarge the size of the deck that was initially drawn in the plans, simply because we knew we would spend so much time out there.  We envisioned a long, farmhouse table full of friends and lights strung above to create a cozy backyard space and man, are we glad we did.  We live outside and it's one of my favorite things about our home!

THREE. // CAN LIGHTING.  J and I both hate an overhead light.  It's just so harsh and there's nothing cozy about feeling like you have a spotlight above you at all times.  Sure, you need them for certain times and to do certain things, we but added can lighting to almost every room when we renovated and we're so glad we did.  In addition to lamps, it's so nice to have dimmers on the can lights that will light up the entire room, but not in a direct/harsh way.  

FOUR. // FRONT DOOR.  When we purchased @thelovelycottage, it wasn't quite so lovely.  Not only did it need a lot of work, but it lacked all curb appeal.  Of course, we completely renovated the exterior siding, windows, etc. because it had to be, but the front door was actually fine.  It just wasn't what we wanted.  We went back and forth on 'even though it's only about a $1500 commitment, can we really swing that right now with everything else we have going on and is it really that important?'  Once everything else was finished on the outside, we realized the front door totally sets the precedent for the rest of the house and ultimately decided to switch it out.  Worth every penny!  The new front door is so welcoming + inviting and also lets even more light in. 

FIVE. // BEDROOM FIREPLACE.  Okay, I know this one sounds a bit boujee, but if there was ONE thing on my 'please, please, please' list, it was a fireplace in the bedroom.  I've always loved a cozy fire and in the house I grew up in, I lived by it.  I remember my mom waking us up each morning and we would sit by the fire together before starting our day.  Anyway, a fireplace in our bedroom was more important to me than a lot of things and we're both so glad we did it.  We use it constantly and it adds so much to the space we live in the most.  

SIX. // ENLARGING THE SHOWER.  Yes, it adds a little to the tile bill, but we have a great dane so enough said.  The fact that he can fit in the shower easily is everything!  And then J RUN gets to live his best life and Clorox the hell out of it, so it's really a win-win for everyone.  

SEVEN. // REGLAZING OUR GUEST BATH.  A lot of people don't know that you can easily (and by you, I mean hire someone) to reglaze existing tile and make it look as good as new.  We loved the white, subway tile that was original to the house in our guest bath, but it needed a little love.  Rather than spending thousands of dollars to replace it, we simply had it reglazed for around $1000 and it looks brand new!  

We did a quick Q+A last night on @thelovelycottage while we cooked dinner and a lot of you had so many questions about our renovations, so I thought this would be a fun post to share!  Let us know if you want to see more posts similar to this or even a 'what we would change if we could go back' renovation post.  Be sure to follow along on @thelovelycottage for more!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  X.
Meg

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

LACE + LEVI'S // HOW TO DRESS UP A BASIC LOOK

Top: WAYF | Denim : Levi's | Shoes: Christian Louboutin {my favorite style of Louboutins ever} similar here + love these} | Handbag: Chanel {love this quilted option} | Rings: Mejuri + Anine Bing

There's nothing I love more than a good pair of Levi's, but sometimes you have to dress them up a bit more than than a basic white tee.  (Or so I've heard.)  However, I didn't branch out too far - I stayed in my favorite color palette, but found this beautiful, lace top that makes such a statement.  I love, love, love the puffy sleeves and the high neck - it's such a classic silhouette.  (Sidenote - some of the other lace tops I have don't have a built-in liner, so they really make a statement when you can see the outline of your bralette, but this one does!  It comes with a nude tank underneath the lace, so it's not too sheer.)  

Both pieces are such great staples for taking your closet right into Spring and under $100!

I hope you're all having a great week so far!  We worked on crossing a few house projects off our list all weekend, so being back in the office yesterday actually felt like a break.  Slowly, but surely getting there!  We have so many exciting things happening at @thelovelycottage right now and I can't wait to share them with you!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by!  XX.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

5 WAYS TO FRESHEN UP YOUR HOME FOR THE NEW YEAR

Follow along, @thelovelycottage

Now that our home feels back to normal and the holiday decor is put away for another year, it always makes me want to freshen things up a bit.  Here are FIVE tips for making your space feel fresh + ready for Spring!

ONE. // A GOOD, DEEP CLEAN
There's nothing better than vacuuming up the Christmas tree mess, dusting off those shelves that were filled with holiday decorations, and getting everything put back in it's place.  My version of an early Spring cleaning!  Make a little time for the things that rarely get done - dusting light fixtures, cleaning window sills, mopping the front porch - it all needs a little love this time of year.

TWO. // REARRANGE
Sometimes all you need is to simply switch things up a bit.  After the decorations are gone, it gives you a fresh perspective to be able to see what needs to change.  It can be as simple as trading out your throw pillows and switching out the photos in your picture frames or as major as moving around furniture and flipping your mattress - either way, it doesn't cost a thing to rearrange!

THREE. // DECLUTTER
Those little things you've been holding on to for years that you settled for or the corner you've shoved full of things that don't have a place, get rid of them!  There's no better time than the new year to toss or donate a few things that you no longer have a need for.  Styles change - it's perfectly okay to let it go!  The same goes for your closet - if you haven't worn it in six months (or didn't wear it last Winter), it's time to donate!

FOUR. // ORGANIZE
While we're on a roll, it's time to clean out the junk drawer we've had a hard time closing for the last 9 months.  (Yes, we all do it!)  You don't need 47 pens, multiple rubber bands, those batteries that probably don't work, or those receipts you've been holding onto since March.  Toss it all and start fresh!  Also, it's the perfect time of year to reorganize your bathroom drawers.  We're all in a rush in the mornings, throwing things in drawers where they don't belong and convincing ourselves it's okay because we "know where everything is".  Make a quick trip to Home Goods or The Container Store and spend $20 on a few organizational things that will make your morning routine way easier.  

FIVE. // TREAT YOURSELF
After the cleaning, rearranging, decluttering, and organizing has been done, we deserve a little something for all that hard work, right?  Go get that vintage piece you've had your eye on for weeks now, but couldn't justify because it was the holidays.  Order those new towels you need and toss the stained, shrunken, rough ones.  Plant something in the yard or pot something new for your kitchen!  Whatever it may be, spruce up your space with a little something that simply makes you smile every time you walk by it.  Those little things that fulfill our souls each day - that's what it's all about.

Thanks so much for stopping by!  X.
Meg

Monday, January 7, 2019

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM FATL IN 2019


It's official - the holiday decorations have been put away and all that's left is me, a glass of red wine, praying for sunshine, and ready for Spring!

Each year around this time, I like to set expectations not only for myself, but for you.  Being the non-stop-planner I am, I always appreciate a little heads up of what's to come and what I can look forward to.  I've already touched on (that's probably an understatement) 'the good, the bad, and the in-between of 2018' in a very long, but raw blog post, but I want to go a little deeper in hopes to set the expectation for 2019.

As I started to write this post, a sequel if you will to the one I referenced above, a couple of weeks ago, I kept writing a little, leaving it in 'draft' mode, coming back to it a few days later, and deleting it all.  Repeat that two or three times and you're left with a blank slate ready to be filled with promises that felt like pressure and a scheduled blog post that would be less than interesting.  For some reason, I couldn't quite figure out exactly what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it.  The truth is, most of 2018 felt like I was on top of the world personally, but failing miserably professionally.  Until now, I haven't truly known how to put that into words.

2018 was the first year of my adult life where I felt like things really started falling into place and I felt such security in that.  I never felt more sure of myself as a person.  I was reminded every single day of why I love John Runion so much and appreciated him more than ever.  I was taking care of my body again.  I was so grateful for our new home that I would literally wake up in the morning with {happy} tears welling up in my eyes.  I finally got to the place where I was starting to overcome personal issues I've been working through for years.  I was officially declared cancer free and released from any further treatment after 10 years post surgery.  I learned how to be a better friend + love more than I ever have before and in turn, I felt so loved.  I learned how to put pride aside and make a mends when needed.  At 29 years old, it's like something changed inside me and I got to the place where I could say without a doubt - I know who I am, what I stand for, and what I want.  Like I said, on top of the world, right?

However, when it came to work, I questioned myself more than ever before.  Even though everything else felt so right, I still felt stuck and held back.  I felt zero creativity.  What was once growing rapidly was decreasing in front of my eyes and it became harder and harder to be motivated.  I was living out my 'dream job', but was I?  Are people even reading my blog and am I bringing value to the ones that do?  If not, why all the effort?  Why am I spending so much time trying to get the perfect photo just to be unhappy with the results?  Am I letting numbers and comments and likes define me?  Where do I go from here seven years later, what does that even look like?

I somehow managed to let perfection be the standard and wondered why I wasn't living up to it.  

This is probably the point in the post where you're waiting on the big ah-ha moment or happy ending, but the truth is, the reality hasn't changed - but my prescriptive had to.  I shot for perfection and was left so unmotivated when I didn't meet it.  Why do we put that kind of pressure on ourselves?

I went from putting in all the effort to no effort at all, but didn't focus on what really matters - the effortless.  The in-between of all or nothing, or what happens between the make it or break it.  I forgot that people are more inspired by the perfectly imperfect me.  The messy.  The unsure.  I was fully embracing who I was personally, but forgot to embrace it in front of everyone on a platform where I share my life.  I knew my insecurities were showing through my lack of effort or barely there blog posts and that's why I wasn't succeeding.  I wasn't in it for a minute - I took a break from remembering why I started.

Somewhere around October, I started pouring little pieces of my heart and soul into this space again until I fell back in love with it.  I stopped focusing so much on growth +  and remembered to be appreciative for the community I've already cultivated and love so much.  I realized that all of those things I feel so secure in - my relationship, my health, getting through my highs and my lows, our home, my love for the people around me - those are the things that should be the foundation of my blog.  Those are the things that make me who I am and give me a story to tell.

So here's what you can expect in 2019 - I'm all in.  I'm passionate about what I've created and won't allow numbers or people to define or defeat me.  I'm determined to be strict about my schedule, my routine, and my priorities.  I'm going to be right here, three times a week (at least) with content we all actually want to see.  It will be applicable, exciting, fresh, and geuninely reflect my heart.  What it won't be: perfect - and at this point, that's the goal.

We have big things on the horizon for both For All Things Lovely and The Lovely Cottage and I can't even wait to share them with you!  Here are a few things you can look forward to:

The Marriage Series is comin' back - this time on camera!
A full, video Home Tour is happening late January or early February - Subscribe HERE!
A Step by Step Guide to Creating a Capsule Closet
More on our renovation and mindset behind creating The Lovely Cottage
Big Projects in the works + Before + Afters
The Cottage Kitchen (Recipes you've been asking for!)
Opening up about blogging FAQ's, relationships with brands, and editing
All Things Gardening + Outdoor
Video Q + A
Home Decor, Home Decor, + Home Decor
Greenville Guide

And more!  Again, W E L C O M E - it's going to be a fun, new year!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by!
Meg

Thursday, January 3, 2019

MY NYE LOOK / RINGING IN 2019


Sweater: French Connection | Skirt: Free People {also available here} | Shoes: Manolo Blahnik {love these + these | Earrings: Vintage Chanel

HAPPY NEW YEAR, OFFICIALLY!

I hope you all had a great night ringing in the new year and celebrating with family + friends!  This year was a bit different for us - rather than a big party, we did a small, cozy dinner with friends, stayed up to watch the ball drop, and were in bed, asleep by 12:45.  Haha, apparently #thisis30!  (Even though I have six more months and get mad at J every time he tells me I'm 30...I'll embrace it when it comes, don't worry, but I'm holding on to 29 as long as I can!)  

Anyway, I wanted to wear something chic, yet comfortable while keeping things festive with a little sparkle.  You've probably noticed, but I've worn both of these pieces so much this season!  This turtleneck is perfect for throwing on with literally anything and it's so warm.  Also, I love how this skirt is a fun alternative to black or grey, but still just as dressy.  The blush/silver color is so pretty and perfect to dress up or down.  And of course, you know I have to (in the words of Carrie Bradshaw) style-it-up with some shoes and my favorite pair of statement earrings.  I love a basic look that accessories can really stand out with - they really do make an outfit, in my opinion!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by!  I'll be back on Monday with a much-needed 'what you can expect in 2019' post, so see you back here soon!

X.
Meg

Sunday, December 30, 2018

THE ONE WITH ALL THE RESOLUTIONS // 2019


Happy {almost} 2019!

I can't believe I'm even saying that - this year has flown by!  2018 was filled with so many highs for us and we truly soaked up every second of them.  From constantly gathering friends + family around our table and endless weekend projects at the cottage to traveling to new (and a few familiar) places every chance we could, our year was full of adventure.  (Including our first train ride from Switzerland to Italy that was literally what dreams are made of.  Definitely a high!)  

After the Christmas decorations are put away for another year and new years eve rolls around, it really all comes down to two things: reflection + resolutions.  Typically, I come up with a few goals or resolutions that I hope to achieve - like last year, learning French was number one, and we all see how well that played out.  Although those things are important, I really like to just hold myself accountable for a few things I've either slacked on this past year or things I simply want to remind myself of throughout the next.  It always helps me so much to simply write them down and re-read them a few times throughout the year and I hope you'll do the same!  
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My theme (or word, rather) for 2019 is HEART.  For two reasons: whatever I'm doing, I want to pour my heart and soul into it.  No matter that, I can take a deep breath knowing I've given it my all.  And secondly, I want to focus on my heart.  Personally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and in all of my relationships.  Now, for the resolutions - 

NO. 1 // GET BACK TO MY MORNING ROUTINE.
For some reason, over the last few months, I have let my morning routine go.  I don't even have an excuse, I've just been so all over the place because of it.  Setting an early alarm, having coffee + my quiet time, working out, watching my morning shows while getting ready - all of it just sets a precedent for how the rest of my day will unfold.  I've felt so unorganized and rushed while not living by my routine and I'm so excited to get back to it!

NO. 2 // GIVE MYSELF GRACE.
This is one of those that falls under 'little reminders' rather than resolutions.  I'm constantly somewhere between giving myself grace and making things a priority and I in turn, put so much pressure on myself.  Most people feel pressure from others, but I do it to myself.  A lot of it revolves around the fact that I'm a control freak and extreme planner.  Hey, admitting it is the first step right?  Between all of the roles I play for the blog (one woman show over here) and trying to be everything to everyone, I usually find myself in bed early with a glass of wine calling it a DAY.  Which by the way, isn't accomplishing much.  I need to remember to slow down, and be great at a few things rather than mediocre at a lot of things.  Also, know it's okay to ask for help.  We're working on that one, too.

NO. 3 // A LITTLE LESS TAKE OUT, A LITTLE MORE COOKING IN.
Most of you know that J and I love to cook in.  I actually prefer it these days, rather than going out, unless I've just had a crazy week of being stuck in the house and need human interaction.  And a good cocktail.  However, by the time I close my laptop + finish errands and J gets home from work, it's so easy to just order in.  Not only do I want to be more aware of what I'm putting into my body, I genuinely love the process of it all.  Going to the grocery store, food prep, and sitting down to a cozy dinner at the end of the day speaks right to my soul.  Get ready for more recipes + 'cottage kitchen' posts because it's happening!

NO. 4 // WORK FROM MY OFFICE AND/OR A COFFEE SHOP.
A lot of this goes back to getting back into my morning routine, but I've gotten way too used to working from our bed or the couch.  It's so much easier to cross things off of your to-do list throughout the day when you're already dressed and out, rather than still in your robe at 2PM.  Rocket science, right?

NO. 5 // BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT DATE NIGHTS WITH J.
Because I'm such a planner, I try to fit in so many lunches + dinners each week with our family + friends.  As much as I love that, sometimes I forget to be intentional about scheduling time solely for the two of us.  Some days we come in, rush to change and get out the door, check dinner off the list, and haven't even had a chance to ask each other about our days until 9PM.  I'm vowing to make more time for nights with no plans.  (Is that the same as planning not to have a plan?  Either way it's progress.)  Date nights in or out, all dressed up or in work out clothes - we don't care, as long as we're together.

NO. 6 // IF IT'S NOT A HELL YES, IT'S A NO.
I saw this quote on instagram a couple of months ago and I've thought about it a lot ever since.  I've never really had a hard time saying no (usually) and I'm not really a people pleaser, but I struggle with the in-between.  A lot of the 'I really don't want to, but I feel like I should' scenarios.  (Wow, as I'm typing this, it's really all coming together - the pressure I put on myself may have a little bit to do with this one. #overthinker)  I want to be a more definitive person in general and I love the meaning behind this quote - you either REALLY want to say yes, or it's not worth the time + effort.  (Or pressure.)  The hard part is knowing the difference and making the right call.

NO. 7 // BE THE ONE WHO LOVES HARDER, FEELS FIERCELY, ALWAYS HAS PURE INTENTIONS, AND SIMPLY SHOWS UP FOR PEOPLE.  
The older I get, the more I'm realizing the importance of cultivating your tribe.  It's no longer only about the people you have a history with, but simply the people who get you on a soul level.  I have been so blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing women who I can't do life without.  And don't want to.  I always want to pour into them, support them, and no matter what - be there for them.  People who have kids always say 'it takes a village', but I think that applies to life in general.  There are moments when I need my girlfriends simply to get through the day and I'm so, so grateful for the ones who come running.  I will always, always love hard, show grace, and show up for my soulmates.

NO. 8 // BE OUTSIDE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Between working in the yard every chance I get, soaking up the sunshine, driving through the mountains, or dropping everything for a day by the ocean - being outside is just good for my soul.  And that is a priority.  

NO. 9 // START A SAVINGS ACCOUNT SOLELY FOR HOME RENOVATIONS.
Now that we've been in our home for a little over a year, we're finally getting around to crossing off some of those 'little projects' we've wanted to do for some time.  However, with our expectations and not-sleeping-until-it's-done mentality, most of the time those 'little projects' turn out to cost a pretty penny.  (Including, but not limited to, the never-ending chicken coop project.)  I want to be intentional about not getting caught up in the little things I think we "need" (aka another candle, coffee mug, or vase) and focus on the big things.  The game changing projects that we hope to do in the next couple of years.  A garage (bc golf cart) is next on our list and I'm so excited to save + finally get there!

Finally, thank you all SO much for following along throughout 2018.  I love getting to know the ones of you are might be new around here and continue to cultivate relationships with my OG FATL girls (man, that was trendy) throughout all of the comments, emails, and DMs and I'm beyond grateful for your support.  I'm so excited for what's to come in 2019 and cheers to lots of chickens + chanel, preferably together!  Y'all are the best and we love you so much!

HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR, BABES!  XX.

Monday, December 24, 2018

WITH LOVE, J & M


I can't even believe another year is almost behind us and it's already Christmas Eve!  To be completely honest, I love today even more than Christmas Day.  There's just something so magical about the build up of tonight + tomorrow that brings the child-like excitement out in us.  We'll be snuggled up, soup on the stove, watching a Christmas movie - so grateful for another holiday surrounded by our sweet family + friends.  Wishing you all a beautiful Christmas Eve + Christmas Day - cheers, friends!  We love you.

- J + M
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