My House Got a Facelift

 

While I’ve shared plenty on the updates of the interior of my old, partially-flipped house, there hasn’t been nearly as much done on the exterior. Why? Simply put it’s more intimidating. But back in January I vowed that this is the year that things would get done, and I’ve started off by partnering with Mid-America to replace and add shutters to the front of my home. Mid-America is a leading manufacturer of siding accessories, and they also offer the largest selection of exterior home products in the industry, so I knew both me and my house were in the right hands.

 

 

Prior to now only one window had shutters of any kind, the large one on the first floor, front and center and a little to the left. They were wooden, measured incorrectly, and too short. The attic windows looked fine as they’re a more interesting design and flanked by shaker wood siding, but the trio on the second floor just looked… sad.

 

 

But no longer! From the street it looks like my house got a facelift. The good kind.

Every window was measured correctly this go around and the shutters installed like a dream with just a drill, screwdriver, and hammer. Mid-America offers a wide range of shutter styles and colors, all low maintenance with no painting required. They’re impervious to moisture and insects, which is something I highly value as the owner of a house that’s 117 years old, and made right here in the United States. I chose their straight top all louver shutter in black for all four windows and couldn’t be happier with the quality or end result.

 

 

On the list for 2017:
• landscape the small front yard, dispose of one hundred river rocks
• replace the porch light fixture with something more modern
• strip and paint back deck
• sand and repaint porch swing

Longterm plans:
• build wooden porch up to door height, railing, stairs
• have slate roof repaired
• landscape backyard
• replace porch roof support columns with a sleeker design

 

 

Get a load of the full-on before and after! Looking back the house seemed so incomplete without Mid-America’s shutters. Eventually I’d love to add sets to the windows on the back and east-facing sides for the full effect, but until then I can’t help but smile each time I pull into my driveway. Onto the next project!

 

This post sponsored by Mid-America. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Accounting Confessions of a Businesswoman

 

Just like clockwork, I filed for my yearly tax extension yesterday.

See, I have a bit of an admission to make which is that I really hate numbers and money or any combination of the two. Design Crush has been a business for nearly ten years and an LLC for more than half of that, and I’m honestly just getting a hold on my books now. It’s always felt extremely overwhelming to me, and so I’ve never made the time to fully understand and grasp what was going on behind the scenes. Money in the bank? Great. Set aside enough of that payment for taxes? Done. And that’s basically the extent of what my plan has been until this year.

Accounting got to the point of being a constant source of stress, a point of mental wellness that needed addressing. So I reached out to FreshBooks after sitting in on one of their workshops, they made accounting seem both easy to tackle and far less overwhelming than it had up until this point.

 

 

I’ve teamed up with FreshBooks to bring you the story of my journey this year as I tackle the financial side of Design Crush – and what better time to start than Tax Day?

Let’s start from the beginning.

When I first logged into my free one month trial I was immediately impressed by the clean layout. One thing that’s always kept me away from other accounting software is the sheer amount of information being thrown my way visually. FreshBooks was actually designed to be simple to use for the self-employed and easy to navigate, and that’s actually what it is. It became apparent – quickly – that I was about to be far more streamlined as a business as soon as I familiarized myself with the system. (On average users save 16 hours per month!)

 

 

I played around backlogging invoices from January 2017 to the present, marking the paid ones off and entering the information of the brands I work with most often for future billing. FreshBooks helps you to create a professional looking invoice that includes your logo, as well as sends out reminders when one goes overdue – basically taking you out of the role as the bad guy. (I love this.) You can even personalize a thank you message that goes out once each invoice is paid. Now this feature is like magic to me, you can set up your account up to accept credit cards! *mind explodes* If you’d like to dig even deeper you can add additional charges for late payments and request deposits from clients. Everything can be automated, making invoicing as painless as humanly possible.

Invoicing features: customization, payment reminders, automatic late fees, accept credit cards, recurring invoices, flexible due dates, handle received invoices, discounts, deposit requests, preview before sending, multi-currency billing, multi-language invoices, duplicate invoices, automatic tax calculations

 

 

Next thing, I photographed receipts and uploaded them to mark as expenses. Being a visually-driven person, it really helps that I’m able to see both the actual receipt as well as the file in FreshBooks. Nearly all of the functions include a line graph spelling things out for those of us who comprehend information better in that form. In this case I can tell immediately how much I’ve been spending and how profitable Design Crush is at any moment. Goodbye shoebox of receipts and manual entry! My accountant is already thanking you because he won’t be receiving a handwritten list for my 2016 taxes. *cringe*

Expense features: receipt attachments, tax-friendly categories, easy to read summaries, remembered vendors, multi-currency tracking, easily editable

 

 

So, this is the start of my journey. I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I learn along the way as I step out of my comfort zone and tackle this neglected area of Design Crush. If you have any questions about FreshBooks I’d love to try and help get answers for you from their award-winning rockstars in customer service. In the meantime, you can sign up for a free monthlong trial right here!

This post sponsored by FreshBooks. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Tips + Tricks: Creative Business

 

It’s been awhile since we last shared a tips + tricks column, so today I thought I’d share a little about what I’m always reading up on – running a creative business. You don’t have to be a blogger to benefit from this list of advice, honestly you don’t even have to work in a creative field. I’m forever searching for a work/life balance, trying to figure out my next step should be in this ever-evolving field, and how to make the most of the 24 given hours in each day. (And about 100 other things.) Drop any go-to advice of your own in the comments!

 

How to Negotiate Your Own Licensing Agreement

You Need a Contract, Here’s How to Make One

5 Tips for Writing a Solid Business Plan

MailChimp for Designers

Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance

How to Get Your Life Back When Freelancing Has Taken Over

10 Steps to Get Verified on Facebook – and Why You Need to

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Hire?

Your Ultimate Goal to Saying No to People You Can’t Say No to

13 Gmail Hacks That’ll Instantly Maximize Your Productivity

Photo Tips From Instagram Stars

How to Get a Reply From a Cold Email

45 Things You Can Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

6 Scientific Hacks to Keep You Focused at Work

7 Tips for Working From Home

10 Habits of Healthy and Happy Business Owners

What to Say When a Non-Profit Asks for Free Work

What to Call Yourself When You’re a Multi-Talented Freelancer

Why Every Solo-Preneur Needs a Hobby

Media Kit Checklist: 15 Must Have Items

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Nevertheless, She Persisted Tees!

 

LET’S TAKE THIS ONE STEP FURTHER. After our hugely successful post full of printable #resistance postcards some of you reached out about the possibility of selling my design as a t-shirt. My gears immediately started turning, because why hadn’t I thought of that??

I submitted my design to Cotton Bureau (a favorite business right here in Pittsburgh) and as of today you have two weeks to purchase it on their site! The shirt is being offered in white, maroon, and vintage black in both men’s and women’s sizes for you to rock on your hot little bods. (Note: None of the shirts are pre-washed, but should only shrink *maybe* half an inch if washed in cold water.)

Half of all proceeds are headed straight to the ACLU! So buy it, wear it, and stand up for what you believe in.

 

 

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Master Bedroom Makeover Bits + Pieces

 

How happy am I with the makeover Quick•Step flooring and I worked on? So happy that I basically never want to leave my bedroom. I’ve never been a morning person and I now find myself waking up with a smile on my face. It’s utterly ridiculous and I’m completely head over heels for what I feel like is the first bedroom design that truly matches my aesthetic.

Here I’m spilling about how I pulled it off and the items I picked up to give the room a great refresh, and over on Quick•Step Style I’m sharing more about which flooring I chose for the RoomUP Challenge, as well as five tips for making your space feel bigger (trust me, they’re really good ones). Head over there then meet me back here… I’ll wait…

 

 

Okay, let’s start with those lamps. (Oh, if you need a refresh of what the master bedroom looked like before, here you go.) I loved the old lamps hard, but it was time for a change that blended more seamlessly with the rest of the room. This pair of Helene white ceramic table lamps* match the boho chic vibe I was going for. Their basketweave-patterned bases and linen shades add a nice touch of texture and the size isn’t too overwhelming for the Penelope nightstands.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to dresser mirrors I’m more of a leaner than a hanger. I finally upgraded the round vintage mirror that sadly cracked in half and that I sadly kept using for more than two years with a larger 36-inch one, the HUB Mirror. It’s rubber rim fits snuggly against my mid-century 6-drawer dresser‘s surface, leaving me unafraid of a crash in the middle of the night. You can’t beat the price of this piece either – it’s huge and quite a deal when compared to other large mirrors.

 

 

 

I’ve been on the lookout for a great floor mirror for years, and that’s not an exaggeration. The Payne antique gold full length floor mirror* got my number and called the next day. Its windowpane style has an art deco feel to it, and the gold calls out some of the other metallic accents in the room. I made space in my mini gallery wall for it, because it really does feel like a piece of art.

Speaking of art, my very good friend who is also a very talented artist – Jaime Derringer – made me four pieces of 4 x 4″ art for the revamped space. I have a few more things I’d like to do in this bedroom (new light fixture, different floor rug, adding a bench, etc) and framing these is at the top of the list. I love her abstract style and am thrilled to add these minis to my ever-growing collection of her work.

 

 

This piece, Stormy Drive, used to be a huge statement over my headboard. After relocating the bed to under the windows, I chose to lower the gigantic frame to be level with the door and let it own the entire wall. It’s so striking from this angle!

 

 

 

I’ve been toying with notion of painting this room the same pale pink as the accent wall in my office, and to ease into the idea I added this Mongolian pink fur pillow* to the mix on my bed. The texture is fantastic and I’m so much closer to pulling the trigger on that paint job.

There’s only about twenty feet between my house and the neighbors’. So when I first moved in I picked up some tension rods to get curtain up ASAP and, well, never replaced them. This trio of brass Cappa adjustable single curtain rods look at least one hundred times better. At least.

 

 

The vintage light fixture fit in much better once I removed the ornate decorative rims – dare I say it looks modern even? It ties the curtain rods, the fixtures on the dresser and nightstands, and the edging on the floor mirror together oh so nicely.

The last addition is the Murray modern mahogany platform bed*. I was honestly pretty nervous about mixing mahogany with the other two wood finishes in the room, but it fits in seamlessly and actually manages to set off the Quick•Step flooring. I love having such a low-profile bed more than I expected I would, it just helps the room feel that much more open and airy which was my number one goal in this project.

If you ignored me above, click over to Quick•Step Style to read more about the transformation and process, the amazing flooring, and five tips for making your space feel bigger. And then enter the RoomUP Sweepstakes for a chance to win up to 500 sq ft of Quick•Step flooring for your own project, as well as see other transformations from other RoomUP bloggers!

 

 

This post sponsored by Quick•Step. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content! Get more inspiration from Quick•Step on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also download their Style My Floor app to visualize their floors in your own home.  *product provided by Lamps Plus

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Wall to Wall Be Gone

 

If you asked what my biggest interior design pet peeve is it wouldn’t be ceiling fans, it would be wall to wall carpeting. I despise the stuff with the fire of a thousand suns, which of course means it’s covering the majority of the floor on the second level of my house. So when Quick•Step flooring reached out to me about participating in their RoomUp Blogger Challenge it was a no brainer to say (and not scream) yes!

 

 

Aside from flat-out not liking wall to wall carpeting, most rooms upstairs weren’t an issue. The guest room door stays closed, the bonus room stays relatively pet-free, the bathroom is tiled, and my small office was floored with the leftover laminate from downstairs. But the master bedroom is a different story altogether, because that’s where my two elderly cats spend most of their day and I’ll say no more about it than that. The carpeting either had to be replaced (no!) or new flooring put down.

 

 

I requested four different flooring samples from Quick•Step‘s extensive collection, and once they arrived let the pieces sit on the floor in my bedroom for a few days before making a final decision. Pop over to Quick•Step Style to read more about which option I went with and to see more transformations from other bloggers participating in the RoomUP Challenge! I’m looking forward to revealing my full bedroom makeover with you next, and you can see a little sneak peek below.

I truly love this product and would love for you to love it, too. So make sure to enter the RoomUP Sweepstakes for a chance to win up to 500 sq ft of Quick•Step flooring to transform a space of your own!

 

 

This post sponsored by Quick•Step. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content! Get more inspiration from Quick•Step on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also download their Style My Floor app to visualize their floors in your own home.

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Work + Play in Palm Springs

 

That’s not a postcard.

For most of last week I was in Palm Springs for Alt Summit, a conference I’ve proudly spoken at more than a handful of times. I’ve grown used to heading to Salt Lake City every January for the event, so when it was moved to The Saguaro in southern California for 2017 I was more than a little excited. Five days away from the Pennsylvania winter? Sign. Me. Up.

 

 

I opted to fly into San Diego rather than Palm Springs because one of my best friends, who was also going to Alt, lives there. Fly across the country and then roadtrip for two hours? Yeah, sure. And even when it turns out to take three and a half hours because of rush hour it’s okay, because I got to see two Sizzler restaurants. (Did you know they still exist? I didn’t.) That first night there was a lovely poolside party that we lasted about a half hour at before going back to our room where I finished slides for a panel the following morning.

 

 

One of the biggest travel perks for me is not having to make breakfast. And in this case I got to eat it with a (different) good friend before heading over to hair and makeup for my 9am panel.

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered what I look like A) speaking on a panel B) after roughly 4 hours of sleep C) with too much bronzer on D) and my jacket falling off, well, here you go! Dreams do come true.

All joking aside, our talk on making old content new again went fantastically well. I always think a successful panel teaches the panelists as well as the attendees, and this one did just that.

 

Justin Hackworth

The good thing about speaking first is that any pressure is off immediately and you’re free to explore and enjoy the rest of the conference. All of the colors of The Saguaro made for some amazing photo backdrops, and I busied myself popping in and out of other talks, catching up with blogger friends I rarely get to see, and chatting with sponsors.

 

 

 

 

Lunch was always held outside in the California sun, which was still blazing even in 70-something degree weather! One afternoon the parking lot was filled with the most amazing cars, each one armed with a small business owner ready to share their story.

 

Justin Hackworth

Justin Hackworth

The main portion of the conference ended Thursday evening with a great keynote by Todd Oldham. Yup, that Todd Oldham. I’m happy to share that he’s personable, down to earth, and very direct – three qualities I look for in everyone I meet.

 

 

 

I spent the last day hanging out with other longtime bloggers discussing the nitty gritty of our industry. Where it’s come from and where it’s (maybe) going, best practices and new concerns, etc. It rarely happens that so many of us are together and we definitely took advantage.

 

 

 

But my favorite thing, a bucket list item in fact, happened on the drive back to San Diego that evening. A stop at the Cabazon Dinosaurs! You might not know, but I am a deep down dino nerd. It was chilly and crazy windy when we stopped, I think we were out of the car for all of ten minutes and I managed to snap at least fifty photos including one of me hugging T-Rex’s leg. If you hop over to Instagram there’s more proof…

Until next time, one of my favorite places on Earth!

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