Archive for the ‘Style Inspiration vs. Perspiration’ Category

Before our daughter Audrey was born, I was a bit of a clothing hound. I love finding good deals and cool vintage pieces that no one else has. I’ve never been comfortable spending big $$$ on one item, so I’ve built my current wardrobe with a lot of sale pieces, mixed and matched from Target, Old Navy, JCrew, the Loft, my former go-to, the Talbots outlet and of course, Etsy’s vintage clothing sellers. Just how much did I love my clothes pre-kid? During Hurricane Irene, I evacuated my closet to an interior room of the house for safe keeping.

Something happened after I had Audrey. I found that I was much more interested in getting her all dressed up and less so in making myself look presentable. Whatever I wore to work had to be “nursing and pumping friendly”, which was limiting. It took me a while to move past bulky sweaters and whatever pants didn’t have baby spit up on them. Wrinkled, too? Oh well. I would feel great until I dropped the fabulously dressed Audrey off at daycare and looked down at myself. How was I okay leaving the house looking like this?

It was time to get back into my closet and put in some effort towards how I looked.

Now, for any other nursing/pumping moms out there, we all know that there are “nursing friendly” clothes available. They have odd flaps to be able to pull out what you need. They are made of a mystery stretchy fabric that is supposed to be kind to your postpartum body, but ironically seems to do a better job of highlighting muffin tops. You can buy an arsenal of shelf tank tops that reduce you to an unsupported uniboob. Not a good look.

The most important bit of advice that I would give to any new mom who is going to be nursing and pumping: buy some real, quality bras at a boutique where they fit you for them.

What I have found to work really well is layering. My biggest daily fear from pumping at work is getting walked in on by a coworker (HAHA, just kidding, modesty went out the window after the 3rd hour of pushing). Layering works to keep you warm and most importantly, provides ease of access. Seriously, if your day job is anything like mine, you want to get in, get out and back to your desk before anyone notices you were gone.

Now, onto the outfits:


This is a pretty basic, go-to outfit for me. I’m wearing a JCrew denim pencil skirt, a Loft top with a Loft short sleeve sweater and of course, my hippie shoes because high heels and carrying a car seat – not happening. What you don’t see in this picture is the Old Navy stretch tank underneath. They are KEY. I buy them in bulk in every color available. They don’t lose their shape during the day and I’ve worn them as maternity tanks to now. I can easily get myself set up for pumping while not exposing my entire post baby stomach.


I don’t know that I could get my husband on board with this but I believe that you really can’t have enough chambray shirts in different shades of blue. They are so versatile and cute. Here I am wearing a Tommy Hilfiger chambray shirt (a TJ Maxx find), a gold skirt with pockets from the Talbots outlet, a Chewbeads necklace and bracelet, some assorted mixed metal bangles and of course, an Old Navy stretch tank underneath (not pictured). Also not pictured, my other leg. I’m still trying to figure this whole selfie in a mirror thing out.


This is a vintage orange paisley dress I picked up at the English Building Market in New Haven, CT with a gold belt from the Talbots outlet, a Navy Chewbeads bracelet with my standard assorted metal bangles and not pictured, you guessed it, an Old Navy tank. You might not think a dress could work for pumping unless you are into hiking that sucker up and over your head. However, this dress zippers in the back!

And my last outfit to show you:


Old Navy stripped pencil skirt (stretchy!) with an Old Navy short sleeve sweater, H&M brown belt with an H&M coral scarf tied to be infinity looking, plus my usual bracelets and a tank.

There you go, ladies! You too can still look stylish while you are doing pumping/nursing!



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Well, hello there.  You know what?  I’ve missed you.

When we last spoke, I told you that I was going to set up a nursery.  Well, I did that and then pushed out a person to live in aforementioned nursery.  I bet you want to see pictures, of the kid and not the actual pushing.  I often wonder what the first generation of kids in the post blogging/face.book world are going to say about their every move being documented on the internet and an online presence being established on their behalf without their consent. I know for me, it makes me feel…icky.   So how about for now, I just tell you how cute and smart she is and we’ll see about posting pictures of her later.

Other stuff that has made me feel off lately is this constant push among home blogs to always be buying stuff and never being satisfied with the state of one’s home. A bit of change now and again, streamlining to make your life easier, I’m totally on board with, but stalking each flash sale for another accessory to put on a side table or suddenly feeling bad about your home because a gray stenciled wall isn’t in this season? Forget it.

Redefining decor is about being happy with what you have, making it work for you, not against you and most importantly, not becoming a hoarder of clutter disguised as “decorating”.

All that being said, I haven’t stopped doing small improvements here and there.  In fact, we took our I.kea coffee table that Piper the dog had chewed the corners off and turned it into a lovely tufted ottoman.  My husband Justin  helped with this and did some of the stapling and even made the buttons! Bonus: we no longer have to worry about sharp edges for when our little person starts walking.


And I also took our plain jane builders mirror in the guest bathroom and added a tile border.

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What have YOU been up to?  (p.s.  I really did miss you.)


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There is absolutely nothing that works as well as a motivator as putting pictures of your cluttered mess on the internet for all to see.  In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, about a month ago, I took pictures of the disaster zone known as the third floor of our condo.  You can check it out here.

For those click adverse folks out there, here it is the space in its clutterific glory:

The best way to tackle a project like this is to enlist help and boy, oh boy, did I need help.  In plain english, I was afraid that I would accidentally discard something that might be important to Justin.  To avoid any accidental decluttering incidents, we tackled this project together.  We worked hard, going through boxes, consolidating certain types of items into one place, instead of many places and little by little, the clutter started to disappear. 

The biggest change to the space was installed last week. 

The reason the third floor was allowed to languish as unused space for so long was heavily influenced by its temperature.  Let’s just say that spending any extended time up there from June through September was…unpleasant.

Something that I am constantly learning through reading everyone elses design blogs is that it is super easy to get sucked into wanting an “idealized” space.  We look at magazines, blogs and television shows like Nate Berkus and HGTV and get unrealistic ideas of how to live in our own homes or what our homes should look like.  Would we all love to live inside of the Pottery Barn catalogue?  Yeah, maybe for a weekend, but eventually, you’d miss the comfortable, fun space that was yours.  *Stepping off the soap box* 

For our third floor, I wasn’t going to fight its role.  For us, this space needs to be a fun, modern, washable room that you can watch tv, drink a beer and play darts or do some crafting.  Not drink tea out of a porcelain tea-cup with our pinkies extended.  Does the furniture match?  No.  Am I okay with that for now?  Absolutely! 

The futon got a new cover courtesy of an Ikea duvet set with two matching pillow cases.   For the two pillow cases, I grabbed two old square throw pillows and tucked the extra fabric inside.  Easy as pie!

Neuman approved!

For the rest of the room, the only goal was to find homes for the stuff that was staying and get rid of the stuff that wasn’t.  Once we cut down on the amount of clutter, the room just came together.

It is now my favorite room in the house. 


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Back during the days of endless Summer, I had a rocking chair that I was tasked with giving a makeover to.  You might remember from this post.  It was a fun job.  Due to some shipping challenges with the fabric, the project got shelved. 

Finally, as the days got cooler and the leaves started to change colors, the fabric arrived and it was time to shake a tail feather and get that rocking chair back to its rightful owner (and outta my garage). 

This is what the rocking  chair looked like the day I picked it up.  It had some wear on the arms from being an obviously well-loved piece of furniture and the owner wanted to update the fabric seat to match her newly designed living room space. 

I promptly took it home and started gently sanding off the old stain.  Our original plan was to re-stain the piece, but in the end, a rich, dark chocolate paint seemed to be a better fit.

After being painted!

After the paint was dry, the chair came into the house for the last step of its makeover.  The fabric that the client picked out was truly gorgeous. 

It was hard to say goodbye to my friend, the rocking chair.  I hope that it enjoys its new look as much as I do!


p.s.  The third floor is just about finished with its magical makeover.  Check back later this week for the fabulous Before & After shots.

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Joseph DeRisi is the owner of Urban Miners which is located in Hamden, Connecticut.  Urban Miners “provides cutting edge, environmentally smart services in the areas of building deconstruction and materials salvage to residential property owners and commercial enterprises regionally.”  


Joe is truly an embassador of the earth with a big beard, friendly smile and endless enthusiasm about all things architectural.  The Urban Miners warehouse is a tribute to the quality workmanship of the previous generations.  In many ways, to walk through the warehouse is to walk through our collective past and with Joe as a tour guide, what was once just a simple door in your eyes, suddenly has a rich history dating back decades before you drew breath.  

Shona and I had the opportunity to visit Urban Miners.  


We arrived at the warehouse at about 8:30 am on what was shaping up to be another hot summer Saturday.  Tucked away on a side street off Dixwell Avenue in Hamden, the warehouse is unimposing from the outside. 



When you start to look around, you do notice a theme: bottles.  They are everywhere and in every shape, size and color. It makes sense because Mr. DeRisi caught the collecting bug from his father and grandfather who were both ‘Bottle Diggers’ and coin collectors.  


There are also more doors than you can even imagine and Joe could tell you where just about each one came from.  His favorite is the industrial door on the left.  


When we found out that there was a whole room dedicated to mantles it was hard to contain our perma-grin.  Fireplace mantles make me think of holidays, chilly nights in front of a fire and family.   To be in the presence of so many in one place, it was easy to let your mind wander to the experiences had around each one, especially if you think back to the not so distant past where they were used as a sole source of heat and for cooking.   


Urban Miners also has lots of accessories like door knobs (Shona actually bought a few). You could easily spend hours and hours going through each of the aisles finding treasures.  


Urban Miners definitely gets the Redefining Décor seal of approval and we recommend you go check it out for yourself the next time you have a house project to tackle.  Say hi to Joe for us, too!  

Urban Miners  – 30 Manilla Avenue, Hamden, Connecticut 

Wednesday: Open by appointment only
Thursday: 8:30 to 8:30 

Friday, Saturday: 8:30 to 4:30
Sunday: 12:00 to 4:30
Monday, Tuesday: Closed 

Internet Shopping: 24 hours/ 7 days a week 

Phone: (203) 287-0852     www.urbanminers.com  

-Kate & Shona 

(All photographs courtesy of Shona!) 



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I think we all have go-to images that inspire different thoughts and emotions in us. For me, when I am looking for inspiration in pictures, I find that I am drawn to architecture and nature and sometimes a combination of both.  One of the best parts about working with Shona is that we both find our inspiration in different ways, as you’ll see below.

Acknowledging that the New England heat and humidity this week has made it virtually impossible for paint to dry, Shona and I are going back to our roots and taking you with us.  These are our fail safe inspiration pictures.  We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Shona - The color scheme is what I love here...I can't get enough green, black and gray!

Kate - What I love about this image is the depth. I feel like a lawn gnome looking up. I love the purples and greens.

Shona - How pretty! I couldn't resist picking these up. Many times the inspiration is from the smaller, more intricate accessories. Soon, there will be a dresser done to go with them!

Kate - I love the texture of this building and its toughness. There is something about its sad state that inspires me because I know the building will likely outlast us all.

Shona - This was a vase I received from a shower table setting. There is something about the color, antique-look, and detail. Vases in general are a huge inspiration to me.

Kate - Swans. Heart shaped necks. Perfect. I just happened to catch these guys and they only stayed like this for a moment. Inspiration can come from those random moments.

Shona - Who could not be inspired by hydrangea? Really, I mean it....that deep blue, almost purple. The huge blooms. Everything about them inspires me.

Kate - Anything that needs a coat of paint inspires me. I look at this house and think of the endless possibilities.

Shona - I know this is very literal, but this is where things start for me...I love looking at magazines and catalogues. I have so many ripped out pages it could be considered ridiculous. And, thank god my mom doesn't ever throw any good ones away!

Kate - A grouping of fruit in a simple, classic bowl. You could swap out the fruit or use it in other ways, like inside a vase ala The Break Up.

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Have you ever walked into the home of a couple and been immediately struck by how clearly one person had design rights over another?  I always wonder how it ends up that one person takes over the design of their home from their live in partners.

I decided to ask my very own local expert on the topic, my husband Justin.

Is there a guy style and how would you describe it as it relates to you and your castle?
From the perspective of a single male, I would say the style is primarily dark, neutral colors and hard lines.  For example, thinking of my living room: there is no curve to my couch, just straight lines and 90 degree corners.  All of my furniture is like a bunch of Tetris pieces.  Additionally, in terms of art work and decor, guys like to have some history behind it.  Guys like to put up pictures and paintings from where we have been; what they have experienced.  It is our way of building our own personal touch on our space instead of buying purely decorative artwork.

From the perspective of a married man, you just learn to say “yes dear”.
How has your style changed since I (Kate) moved in?
My style hasn’t changed, my house has.  It is much more collaborative now and having a different perspective, results in a far better outcome.  A shared space offers both a completely different style in some areas and a compromised style in others.  I think the challenge is distributing my style, yours, and our compromised style throughout our home to make the flow work.  I guess I’m saying, putting your style, right next to mine may not work, without a small transition.
How was your own sense of style evolved over time?
It becomes a lot less about posters and more about art.  You care more about what is on your walls as an adult because it is more reflective of who you are, not who you wish to be.
Is there a room in our house that you feel best represents your style?
The living room area because it is dark colored furniture, neutral walls and lots of pictures from our travel experiences.  All of the accessories are yours though.  You have a better eye for that stuff.

What would your ideal guy room look like?
It would be a man cave with a bar, big flat screen tv, leather couches with cup holders and reclining abilities.  It would feature sports memorabilia and beer steins.  But at the same time, I understand how that could only be for an extra room and it would seem a bit immature for the whole house to be like that.
Would you rather spend a day decorating or golfing?
I’d rather golf.  The style of our home doesn’t really matter too much to me as long as it isn’t glaring.  I would rather worry about why it took me two shots to get out of the sand versus what kind of plant you’d put as an accent piece.
Does environmental friendly, low toxin furniture matter to you?
Yes, in the sense of having furniture that will be around if and when I have children in the house.  I have better sense to chew on paint, but a small child may not.  Come to think of it, I’m thinking even with pets, it’s probably better to be safe.
How often to do you shop for furniture / decorative pieces for your home?
Probably 1% of the time.  It’s probably more in the fall and winter that I think about this stuff, during the summer I’m always thinking of being outside, not too concerned about what my house looks like.

A BIG thank you to Justin for being such a good sport!

Later this week, a local watering hole with an amazing patio!


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