Mood Boards

A Little Holiday Excitement

Heads up: this post might be a bit of a smorgasbord. I think it’s because life has been feeling kinda smorgasbordy lately (in a good way) and sometimes it’s hard to organize life into tidy, tightly-themed blog posts when it’s really all over the place behind the scenes…

I say it’s “in a good way” because we feel like we’re really starting to gain momentum around a goal that we mentioned in this post of taking on more “off-campus” projects. In other words, projects that aren’t centered solely around improving our own spaces and, in more than one case, are for a good cause. The Homearama Showhouse that we’re doing for Habitat For Humanity, being the most obvious example of this so far (you can read more about that here and here).

But that’s not the only exciting thing on our plates. We’ve also been invited to help with a very special project: decorating a family waiting room at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU!

They contacted us in the hopes that we could volunteer our time to warm up the room so it’s more cozy and homey year-round, as well as to add some festive touches for the holiday season. Not only did it sound like a fun project, it had such a deserving purpose that we couldn’t wait to get started. For many of the children in the hospital’s care, this is the space where their family will spend the holiday season. So as part of a “Spread Cheer” campaign, they’ve handed this entire room over to us. It’s already turning out to be a really fun challenge (some things have to stay, some things can change, and of course there are safety/sanitary/maintenance concerns to take into account since it’s a children’s hospital).

*One thing to note is that the kids have a playroom and an arts & crafts room along with other colorful spaces where they get to hang out, so this room really is for the entire family. The hospital staff asked for some playful touches that include children, but their overall vision is a soothing and homey room that makes everyone feel comfortable and calm.

Getting it done before the holidays is also part of the challenge, considering that we just had our first meeting last week – but we’re getting a fast and furious education in the sensitivities of decorating in a space where not only function, but cleanliness, is paramount. Cozy touches like plush pillows or a basket full of toys are big no-nos because they’re too tough to keep sanitized (things we don’t think twice about in our own house are critical details in a medical environment).

So here’s a mood board that Sherry tossed together to share a few of our initial ideas with you guys (all of which will evolve as we go, most likely in hyper-speed since we have such a tight turnaround).

1.  We somehow convinced our friends at U-fab to help us cozy up the room by donating an armchair from their showroom so we can create a little story time corner – or maybe even a place for Santa to sit, should he choose to visit. The extra heavy upholstery weight fabric is super durable for high use, so it’s great for a public space (although it looks white in this photo, it’s really wheat & blue, and has held up well in their showroom for a while).

2. After going through a bunch of swatches for the walls, we landed on Gargoyle, which works well with the existing wood paneling (for maintenance purposes that has to stay & can’t be painted).  The room’s so well lit that we don’t worry about going a little darker with the walls, in fact we’re excited about the cozy-factor that a slightly deeper and warmer color will bring.

3. To represent all of the families who might be using this room, we’ve been asked to include a menorah as well as a Christmas tree. This candle one is awesome but for fire code reasons we can’t go that route, so we’re on the lookout for something electric or battery operated. Update: although Hanukkah is earlier this year, the hospital is planning to bring this decor out annually, so it’s nice to have everything they’ll need for future years from this initiative.

4. We’d love a flurry of snowflakes hung en masse in a strategic won’t-be-in-the-way spot. They won’t necessarily be gold, we just saw this and thought it was a good representation of that general idea.

5. We’ll definitely be making some garlands. This one from paper source is great inspiration, but we’re thinking of involving the kids so they can color things that we can then string together to make something really meaningful for them.

6. Three words: twinkle lights. Everywhere.

7. U-Fab has also kindly offered to donate some fabric and their time to make two custom valances for the windows in the room – again just to warm things up and make it feel more homey. Our usual floor-length curtain idea isn’t allowed for a slew of safety/fire reasons, but after finding some cool roman-shade-looking-valance designs, we’re really excited. And this fabric was the big winner (here’s a link to the gray version).

8. This cute campfire is just here to represent the idea of a faux fire. There’s a recessed rectangle under the built-in around the TV, and we thought temporarily inserting a piece of wood with a cozy little fire painted on it would be fun for the kids and families. We’ll add some stockings on the mantel to complete the fireplace-like effect.

9. We want to adapt our leaning chalkboard project to create a large hanging one that will allow the kids and families to write holiday wishes and greetings. Can’t you just picture it all filled up with kid doodles and holiday scribble? The hospital staff thinks the children will love something interactive like that, and chalk is preferred because it’s easier to remove from upholstery than markers (and it’s cheaper & easier to switch out regularly for sanitary reasons).

10. Last but not least, they’ve asked for a tree, and we really want to have fun with it. These guys are real (and it has to be faux for fire code reasons) but we’re leaning towards something full of color that mimics this look. We want this room to feel calming, but we also want to inject a nice heaping dose of holiday cheer.


The mood board represents around 50% of the stuff on our to-do list, so there will also be centerpieces, holiday tablecloths, DIY art, and a whole bunch of other things in the mix. Our goal is to have the room ready within the next 2-ish weeks… which, thanks to having Thanksgiving in there, means it’s gonna be fast and furious around here. We’re really looking forward to sharing the process with you guys. And most of all, we can’t wait to see the faces of those deserving families who will be spending their holidays there. The hospital has planned to make a little video of the makeover and the kid and family reactions, so Sherry already has her tissues ready…



12 Fun Holiday Gifts For The Guys (2012 Edition)

When Sherry made a mood board of gifts that kids and ladies might like, there were actually a bunch of requests for a guy-gifts version from me. Color me surprised. But who am I to deny the people what they want? (cut to me muttering quiet profanities while trying to make a mood board). The good news is that ten hours later I emerged victorious. Fist bumps for everyone! I won’t even pretend that the items below will tickle every guy’s fancy (do men even having “fancies?”), but here are a dozen items that I wouldn’t mind finding under the tree…

1. This HOMAGE NYC tee, which I’m actually wearing right now. I treated myself to this $20 find a few weeks ago and the best part is that Clara says “C for Clara!” when she sees it.

2. I’m a sucker for a good notebook. Yep, even dudes need to write things down now and again. So this $10 hand-stamped brown spiral notebook from Etsy seems like a pretty perfect place to jot down your “nefarious ideas.”

3. I haven’t actually used this GYRO screwdriver from Black & Decker, but every time I walk by it at the store I’m intrigued. It’s like the Segway scooter of screwdrivers, interpreting the twist of your wrist to the direction you want to drive your bit. Screwdriving of the future perhaps?

4. I will always have a soft spot for vintage travel posters, so these caught my eye a few weeks ago. Sadly there’s no Richmond poster yet, but there are still lots of options for those of you who live in (or have a love for) a bigger metropolis.

5. Fist pump… in poster form. Need I say more? I do. This fresh $20 print comes to you straight from Richmond.

6. I couldn’t do a mood board without something bike-y on here, right? So how about this $18 leather wallet from Etsy, which can even be personalized for no extra charge. That means more cash to keep in your… well, you know.

7. These are man cave bookends if I ever saw ‘em. And while I like the classic green color of these oversized army men, I think they could also look pretty sweet spray painted charcoal, navy, or even in Sherry’s go-to glossy white.

8. Here’s another suggestion straight from my closet: this striped hoodie from American Apparel is just about the most comfortable thing I own these days. The $45 price tag is a bit more than I usually spend on a sweatshirt, but I’m most definitely getting my money’s worth this winter.

9. This WOW Bluetooth Speaker comes in several colors, but this yellow one caught my eye first. They’re available in a few places around the internet, but the best price I’ve seen hails from eBay.

10. I’m a fan of giving magazine subscriptions to my brothers-in-law for the holidays, and this rustic magazine rack (made from reclaimed materials) could be another option. It’s more expensive than a magazine subscription, so a few of the bro-in-laws would probably go in on it together.

11. The Oatmeal cracks me up on a regular basis, so I see guaranteed laughs for anyone who receives the gift of How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You.

12. While I wouldn’t normally suggesting giving a guy scented candles, even I can get behind “man candles” which smell like fresh cut grass, a campfire, and (my personal favorite) sawdust.

So that’s my dude-y dozen. Do you guys have any favorites of the mix? Or are there any other items that you’re getting the dudes in your life that you’d like to share?