Ask The Editor: Cabinets, Birthday Parties, Spontaneous Entertaining Preparations, #Beigeprison, And More!


Welcome to our first edition of Ask The Editor!

Last Sunday we opened up our digital mailbox for write-ins, requests and advice opportunities — and you guys rose to the occasion! It was hard to narrow down which questions to dive into, so at the bottom of this article, you’ll notice we’re going to take some of the questions and make full-on articles with them. Stay tuned with our Home 101 series, some of your questions just might show up there!

So here it goes!

From @jennaecurran: “Simple two year old boy birthday party”

We LOVE a good birthday party. At such a young age, a birthday party is not only a celebration of a milestone for your little one, but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the village it takes to raise him! We’re talking grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors… the whole gambit.

So with that in mind, you can really have fun with the birthday party and expand your horizons to include nuggets of entertainment for the adults as well. Here are a couple of ideas!

1. A characteristic thing from their second year: Did your kid show particular excitement over something random this year? Is he ALL about bears? Or trains? This birthday party can be a celebration of what your son is passionate about in this season of his life! It will make him so excited to see his favorite things all around on his special day, and it’s a great way to document his passions in this stage when you look back on the photos and remember “gosh that kid was a Ross Geller in training, he couldn’t get enough dinosaurs!”

2. Two is a particularly fun year for birthdays because there are a lot of pun options:

– Two The Moon, space party
– Two-Two (your kid) is Two! train party
– Twotally Awesome
– Mr. Tworrific
– Two infinity and beyond, Toy Story party
– Two legit to quit
– Taco Twosday, crowd-pleaser for everybody, honestly
– “Oh-Twoodles,” Mickey Mouse Party

There are a lot of fun options for this age! We want to see what you end up doing, so share your image and use #smpparties so we can see how it goes!

From @rschapiro: “How to choose a vibrant kitchen cabinet color with an open living concept”

The key here is balance and a touch of unity! When you go big and bold with cabinet colors, balance it out by making your base furniture neutral in your living room. Choosing a neutral colored couch and set of accent chairs helps add that balance, but then add in some color coordination with throw pillows that compliment your kitchen color!

So for example, if you’re going cobalt blue with your kitchen, opt for cream or grey furniture and then top them off with throw pillows that have cobalt blue florals as part of their design! It’s aaaalll about balance.

From: Annonymous (in case their nieces and nephews are following along as well 🙂 “When to stop buying presents for your niece and nephew”

It’s appropriate to acknowledge gift-giving situations (holidays, graduations, birthdays) in some manner. So if it’s not presents, opt for a letter! But the transition from presents to a letter really depends heavily on the type of relationship you have with your niece and nephew.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you have the kind of relationship where you can intuitively think of a good present — anything from a sweater you walked by that you know they’ll like, to a Starbucks gift card because you know they like their daily sugar-free vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso — then it’s still appropriate for you to get them this gift.

If you’re scrambling to find SOMETHING that they might like without much knowledge of what they’re “into” these days, it’s an appropriate time to move on to a nice letter. But when in doubt, a nice gift card is always appreciated.

From @shamani_d: “How to approach an attic conversion”

This is going to be fun! An attic conversion means adding workable square footage to your home and that’s always a win.

To start off, take inventory of what you ~wish~ you had room for in your current square footage. Do you find yourself wanting room for a guestroom? A playroom for your kids? A workout room?

As your working through that wish list, take note of what kind of space your working with! If you’re working with a pitched roof, that provides some obvious limitations, but a cozy office is enhanced by natural features like that.

Finally, bring in the professionals to find out what you actually can do in your attic. If you can’t bring water up without it costing an arm and a leg, a guest bath might not be possible. Start with identifying what you want, then find out what’s possible. Once those decisions are discovered, the rest starts to become clearer.

From @melanieelefante: “How you maintain order and organize a home”

This question could not only be its own post, but its own series! Keeping your home organized is a balancing act everyone struggles to maintain, but there are a few common denominators that those who have a neat home tend to inherently follow:

1. Perpetual tidying: We wish we could tell you there’s a quick fix, but ultimately the quickest of fixes is building good habits of general “tidying.” Picking up this habit can look like making a lap around the house before bed, gathering bits and bobbles at the foot of the stairs every morning or an “all hands on deck” post-dinner dish round-up. Maintaining order is an ongoing process.

2. A place for everything and everything in its place: There’s a rule of thumb tidy and organized people tend to follow and it’s to not put something down where it doesn’t belong. For example, if you use scissors, once you’re done using them don’t set them down where you just completed your project, take the extra steps to return them to the drawer in which you got them. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how quickly this habit can change the state of your home!

3. Pretty Organization: Stay tuned, we have a whole baskets feature coming. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, but a confined mess is a WHOLE lot easier to tackle then spread out mess. If you utilize baskets well, it gives those “random” items a pretty holding place while you attend to other matters, and when you’re ready you can address the basket. But, in the meantime, at least it looks good 🙂

Again, this could be a whole series on its own, but these three steps should help get you started!

From @quewendy: How do you decorate/style above the kitchen cabinets? Is that even a thing anymore?

Many of the homes that were built in the previous decade contain a gap from the top of the cabinets to the ceiling, and that big empty space is just begging for some attention!

If you’ve got the budget for it, the biggest and most impactful thing you can do is turn that gap into extra storage by framing it out and adding doors. But, that is a heavy, long-term investment.

If you’re looking for a quick-fix, you can fill the space like you would any open shelf. Pepper in things like serving bowls, basket storage, a little bit of greenery or wood cutting boards. Adding these items in that above-cabinet gap will feel a lot more filled out and intentional.

At the end of the day, you can always benefit from extra storage so adding some natural weave baskets is a great practical, and decorative, option! Just remeber that most things above the cabinets will be “out of sight out of mind,” so choose only the items that aren’t used frequently.

From @katewalthall: How to stock a house for spontaneous entertaining since spring and summer are coming

Another great question that could be its own series! But, to summarize, here are just a few tips and tricks to help out!

1. Have an emergency “smells really good” candle: It’s ok to splurge on this candle a little bit because it’s going to work hard to help with your home’s first impression! Keep it on the entry table and only light it when people are headed your direction. Make sure it’s a light, crisp scent and it will be a preeeettty handy little tool to have in your back pocket for those spontaneous drop-ins.

2. Freeze some cookie dough now: Do yourself a favor and make a batch of cookies, scoop them into their “pop on the tray” state and put them in the freezer! Take a cue from Monica and work to find the ~best cookie recipe ever~ to have on hand, in the freezer, ready for when guests pop by. With them already pre-made like that, you can have warm, goey, freshly made cookies in about 10 minutes, and there’s no warmer welcome than that!

3. Determine a beverage to always have on hand: One of the most adorable, key characteristics in the south is their affinity for sweet tea. Popping in to someone’s home is almost always met with a sweet tea offering (well, according to Reese Witherspoon) and the token of the offering is a major gesture of hospitality. Take notes from this and refine it to reflect your own home! Do you want to always have coffee on hand? Maybe you want to offer a lovely camomille? Maybe a sweet + sour lemonade is just the ticket! The idea is to make sure that you have something to offer your guests and being prepared on the front end helps a ton!

For more tips on how to make your home guest-ready quick, read this article!

From @katiemelesurgo: “How can I make a room light and bright without many windows?”

The most useful answer on this topic is this — reflective surfaces! Mirrors are magic when it comes to extending just a little bit of natural light, but the same effect can result when using picture frames with a glass layer. The key is to strategically use the small amount of light that you do have, and help it bounce around.

Also, take care in what fabrics you use. Heavy fabrics, especially in low-lit places, can take up all of the light you do have and make it all but disappear. Using lighter fabrics in both color and make (think sheer curtains) can help extend your light!

Lastly, be careful with cream! Low-light situations can take something that, in natural light, looks completely white, crisp and clean and turn it into a putrid yellow that you didn’t know existed. Sticking with lighter colored blues helps a lot. Even going so far as choosing your light-bulb color can completely shift the appearance — pick the bluer hue of lightbulb!

From @katharinepfeiffer: “How do I bring in traditional pieces to a very modern and new home”

Firstly, congrats on the new home! Bringing in traditional items can seem really daunting, but you can use it to your favor! A lot of modern and new build homes have a tendency to come across as stark and actually NEED some older pieces, so you’re in luck!

Again, the key here is balance. If you’re working with an old armoire, consider adding a sleek vase full of textural stems on top to modernize it a little bit. If you’re working with traditional side tables, add a more modern lamp on top!

The best designs are composed of a balanced blending of styles, so you’re off to a good start! Coordinating elements and intentionality will bring it all together.

From @tiffany2979: “How to style a rental apartment you can’t pain and you don’t own the furniture? #beigeprison”

This is a tricky one! First, let’s talk about why your landlord #wentbeige, understanding that will help liberate you to take your apartment into your own hands. The thing with beige is that it’s considered a neutral, it hides stains fairly well and it’s a mass-produced color so coordinating with it is, supposedly, doable.

So, with this in mind use it as a launching pad to GO BOLD. We’re talking cobalt blues! Deep, velvety purples! Millennial pink! If you can’t change the color of the walls or furniture, add some jewelry to your space. This can be in the form of throw pillows, rugs, curtains, bedding, throw blankets, vases, picture frames, kitchenware, knick-knacks and figurines.

Obviously this can be a heavy investment, so start with the biggest impact first — textiles. Adding some color to your textiles can completely transform the space. Once your color palette is set there, then pepper in the other items.

A word of caution — avoid trying to make this apartment white. For whatever reason, when you take beige and try to clean it up with white, everything looks yellow. Best bet is to use this time to experimentally go big and bold with color, and have fun with it!

Here’s an article on 5 inexpensive ways to customize your rental for more information!


@Meganblowmqvust — a “how to style your coffee table” Home 101 article is coming soon!

@mwagansmooney — next week our Home 101 is all about how to style bookshelves, and we’re not going to lie to you we’re pretty jazzed about this article.

We thought we’d answer about 5 or less questions in this blog, but as they kept rolling in we couldn’t narrow down that far! So, obviously we expanded…and we also saved a few questions from this week to add to next week’s lineup 🙂  so if yours wasn’t answered this week it might be answered next Friday!

Thank you all for participating, and we’ll be back next week with more questions and answers!

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