Friday, July 26

A Bright & Cheerful Guestroom Makeover

Good God.  The impending arrival of Baby Cham+Thom has my head spinning and has thrust me into personal home project overload.  They call it "nesting," and yes; evidently it happens to people even when they aren't actually prego. :)

I just got back from finishing up Lizzie's guest room makeover in Ohio.  And wow.  What a transformation!

As a reminder...  Liz wanted a space that was bright and cheerful, with some beachy elements thrown in too.  Keep in mind though, that she lives in the country and nothing else in her house screams "beach" in any way, shape or form.  Good thing I like a challenge. :)  She mentioned that she wanted her own private oasis, a place where she can run off to when she needs to escape the craziness of her work day(s).  This room will function as just that; her "happy" place, as well as her personal office space and a retreat for overnight guests.

In case you've forgotten, this is what the room looked like before:

And here's the after!

Shim Shazam!  Is it beautiful or what?!?!  I am SO super proud of this room.  Maybe it's because I poured so much love into it because it was for my bestie or maybe it's because of all that we accomplished on such a limited budget.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of vintage furniture.  And as such I would've loved to scour the back alleys of Ohio looking for the perfect vintage nightstands, lighting and other knick-nacks. But...not knowing the area and being in town for such a limited time, I just couldn't risk it.  So, although it's not ideal, it was a necessity in this case.  Big box stores to the rescue!

Even so, I think this room totally looks high-end and collected, don't you?  And yet nearly every single thing in here is from Target, HomeGoods,  Overstock, Ikea or WestElm!  I needed to be able to return anything that didn't work and all of these stores are great that way.  Plus, Overstock has free shipping on everything! (Or maybe it's almost free?) And bonus! Target shipped a lot of what I ordered for free as well.  Yay me!

Most of the initial design plan changed, but that's bound to happen, right?  Here's how it all went down...

We used their existing bed and dresser and pulled the 2 occasional chairs from the living room; everything else is brand spanking NEW!

I arrived on Wednesday to a primed room and a mountain of boxes.   I went with my first instinct and spent my first full day painting 2 coats of Benjamin Moore's Ocean Spray.  Holy aqua!  That color is perfection.  Immediately, the space felt more alive and definitely, happy!  The color varies in some of my photos but I did the best I could to present the "truest" version here; it really is lovely in person.

Okay, I admit it.  I was a little worried at first.  But sometimes you just have to go with your gut and in this case, I'm so glad that I did.

I had ordered tons of stuff in the weeks before and opening all those boxes felt like Christmas morning. So fun!  Here's a shot I posted on Instagram:

When it comes to working with long distance clients I like to over-order initially; a girl's gotta have options, people. For instance, I ordered this fantastic Nate Berkus bedding in ginger, but also in navy.  When it came down to it, the navy didn't pop against the aqua as much as the ginger/orange did...but I really do like the navy too.  And here you can see lamp bases that we didn't end up using either.  Ultimately they were too small but I love their honeycomb shape and hey guess what?!  I think they're on clearance at Target right this very second.  Go get 'em!

Hello, gorgeous.

I'm a little bit in love with these lamp shades.  The texture is great and the gold thread works nicely with the vintage yellow/gold dresser.

Like I mentioned before, I would've loved to find some great vintage nightstands for this room.  BUT... These nightstands are real wood and super sturdy; and at less than $120 per pop they fit the bill perfectly! I'm still dying over that price.  Ridiculous.  But again, Yay me!

Here's a closer look at that comfy bed.  And oh my.  I'm absolutely in LOVE with this artwork by Samantha French.  The vibrant colors?  The girl in the water?  It makes me SO darn happy I can barely stand it! 

Liz has had this dresser for years; she got it when she was living in LA.  It's all beat up but, in my opinion, still fabulous and works perfectly in the room.  And lest we forget the gorgeous "Laura" print by Michelle Armas that was our initial jumping off point for the entire room?  Me thinks not.  I just love the way Michelle puts colors together.  One. Talented. Lady.

Did someone say "beachy"?  Oh hello, pretty sea shells.  I didn't want to go overboard (pun intended) with anchors, ceramic fish and signs that said "this way to the beach".  It's just not practical nor does it go with the rest of the feel of their home.  Instead, a sampling of shells and some beyond gorgeous photos by Myan Soffia do the job of bringing a little bit of the ocean to Waynesville, OH.

As we follow the room around, there's a nice size window on the side wall.  I took the photo below one evening when I was messing around with furniture placement.  Originally, I had thought to put these 2 chairs in the far corner, but they really seemed to fit  the space below the window perfectly.

Here's how that seating area looked once I added curtains and a few decorative elements:

Opposite the bed is a small work space.  Here you can see those gorgeous Myan Soffia photos I was talking about.  These images are of Los Angeles, Hermosa Beach and Santa Monica Pier...all special memories for this family.

The parsons desk was a steal from Overstock and I am totally coveting that task lamp from West Elm.  And how about those black frames?  They hold the 12"x12" photos perfectly; thanks, Ikea.  Oh and here's the thing.  A lot of Ikea's frames come with cream colored mattes.  If you need white instead, just flip the cream side over and voila!

I picked up all sorts of fun color coordinated desk accessories at Target.  The navy blue crab is definitely a favorite!

And speaking of navy blue...

When it came to buying a desk chair I barely had any money left in the budget.  Soooo, thinking this one looked simple, not too bulky and would match the color of the nightstands, I ordered it:

When I opened the box, I wasn't quite feeling it though; it had more of a reddish hue and didn't quite go.  I looked around town a bit and at first, thought I'd just find a replacement and then return the Overstock chair.  I just couldn't find anything that I liked though soooo...paint to the rescue!

That's when this happened:

Perfectly blue and super cute!  I stumbled on those file storage boxes at Target too.  I couldn't get over all of the great accessories they had in stock.

This project was a ton of hard work but so so rewarding.  I had a blast working with such a good friend and really tried so very hard to get it "just right" for her.  I'm pleased to report that she was super happy and yes; I did capture the moment of the big reveal, but on video vs. pictures.  Now I just need to learn how to upload a video to my blog though...  Aargh.  Yet another learning curve.

Soooo someday you'll see Liz's reaction to her new room.  I just love it though.  I hope you do too!

I'm starting to put together plans for their great room and basement too, so stay tuned; Ohio, I'll be seeing you again soon. :) And in the meantime, I am in crazy project mode over here at Camp Cham+Thom.  Am re-doing the kid's rooms and making space for the new arrival.  More on that to come!

Here are a few other sources:

Bedside lamps: Target
Bed throw pillows: HomeGoods
White sheets:  Ikea
Smaller picture frames:  HomeGoods
Artwork Ribba black frames:  Ikea
Wooden bowl for shells:  HomeGoods
Shells:  HomeGoods & Pottery Barn
Vases:  Target & Michaels
Chair Pillows:  ZigZag from Pottery Barn (sorry; I think it's sold out), Blue from HomeGoods

Now have a great day, darlings, and happy shopping.  And if you need some help with decorating a room at your house, please don't hesitate to contact me; I would love to work with you!  Reach me at

Thursday, July 18

Getting personal

Let's get personal, cyber friends.  Sorry in advance; this post is wordy and without photos.  I think I just need to purge a little...

Biff has 2 children from a previous marriage (Emily, 14 & Joe, 12).  They live with their mom in Washington and are the sole reason we moved to Seattle just over 2 years ago to try and make a life there.  They're great.  I mean, for the most part, they are reeeeeally good kids.  And I do enjoy having them in my life.  Actually, I wish they were MORE a part of our lives. But sadly (sad to be away from the kids; happy for every other reason), we are back in LA and our visits with them are far too infrequent.

The distance makes forging any type of real relationship with the kids a bit more challenging.  And then of course, there's the fact that they're in their pre-teen/teen years and have no interest in talking on the phone with us whatsoever.  I bring to the table my own full set of baggage/experience, having grown up with step parents myself; I'm constantly putting myself in their shoes, assuming I know how they're feeling.  I have to remember that their situation isn't mine.   I know I have an opportunity to do things differently this time and am very aware of the role I wish to play in their lives.  I'm hopeful that, in time, they'll realize that I'm not only on their team but am also head cheerleader. They are special people and little slices of their father; and I love when I catch glimpses of him in them.

Let's face it though.  Being a stepmom is quite different than being a mother.  Of course, it's wonderful when the stepmom in the scenario is thought of as a second mom, a "bonus mom" if you will (I love that term btw), to her husband's children.  But, it's still not quite the same, now is it?  And being a mother is something I've longed for for as long as I can remember.

We decided we wanted to add to our family and right away, even when we were engaged, started trying to have a baby.  Sadly, after months of trying, tests confirmed our fears.  We were told that the likelihood of us conceiving naturally was slim to none.  It's hard to put into words how devastating that news was.  At the time, it was like someone hit me in the chest.  Biff was out of town working when the doctor called with my results.  I remember it clear as day.  I was standing in the kitchen when I picked up the phone.  I heard the news and I fell backward into a chair.  It was like the wind was knocked out of me.

In a two minute conversation my whole world was turned upside down, stomped on, crushed.  I couldn't breath.  I began asking questions.  Ridiculous questions.  But I was in problem solving mode... Are you sure?  I don't understand.  My grandmother had my uncle when she was 42? Okay, so what's next?  Is there medication? Should we go straight to IUI then?  No, the doctor said.  That won't work for you.  And then she said words that have really stuck with me.  "I'm not saying that you can't get pregnant, Bridgette.  I'm saying that you most likely won't get pregnant with your own eggs."

I started to cry.  

The rest of the quick conversation is a bit of a blur.  I remember her saying that she was sorry she didn't have better news but that if we wanted the possibility of having biological children that we would have to act fast.  That we should contact a reproductive endocrinologist immediately.


I always thought I'd be a mother.  I do remember going through a phase though, in my late 30's before I met my husband, where I really tried coming to terms with the possibility that maybe I wouldn't meet "my guy" and that I might not have kids.  Back then, I claimed to be okay with the idea, that I'd travel a bunch, that I'd focus on my career and make a lot of money and then spend it on whatever I wanted...that I'd be care free.

Yeah right.  If I'm going to be truthful with myself and with you though, I was totally faking it back then.  I just didn't realize how very much I wanted to be a mother until I fell in love with my husband.  The thought of having a little piece of him and a little piece of me? I wanted it so badly.  

Around this time, things got pretty dark for me.  We had made a hasty decision to move to Seattle and after 6 months of struggling to find work and start a life there, we decided to move back to LA.  We got back here the last week of December in 2011.

That January, we scrambled to put together every last penny we had and met with a specialist. We started our first cycle of IVF later that month and amazingly, we got pregnant!  With IVF you're monitored much more than you are in a traditional pregnancy so I was seeing the specialist 2-3 times per week.  The pregnancy numbers were a little low but growing and we were full of hope.  Sadly though, the day we went in to hear the heartbeat, we were told that the embryo had stopped growing.  They couldn't explain it but we were told we were going to miscarry.  What???  Why?  I'm not bleeding. No cramping. No signs that anything is wrong.  Are you sure????  Yes; we're sure.

But then I didn't miscarry.  Another week went by.  No bleeding.  No cramping.  I went back to the doctor.  Are you positive???   Yes; we're positive.

Another week passed and still nothing though.  The doctor had to help the miscarriage along the following week.   I'll spare you the details but it was an incredibly painful and all-around horrible experience.   

Darkness swept over me.  I was having to go to work everyday and put on a happy face but inside, I was dying.  I went deep underground to lick my wounds and didn't really surface socially for months.  We had kept the IVF news pretty quiet so not many people really knew what was going on until quite a bit of time had passed.

As with most things, thank goodness, time heals.  Biff and I laid low and worked through our sadness together.  And then last October we took a belated honeymoon trip to Spain.  It was wonderful.  I finally felt like myself again.  We had been trapped in our very own private hell but we had made it to the other side.  I felt really happy.

That's when I was time to try again.

We met with the specialists again in November of last year.  In December 2012 we started a new cycle of IVF and on Christmas morning I had egg retrieval surgery.  Yep.  Christmas day.  What better day for a miracle, right!?  They did the transplant 3 days later and yes!  We were pregnant! 

I felt great.  Healthy.  Happy.  So excited.  Our numbers were much stronger this time; the embryo was growing and right on target.  It came time to see the heartbeat and there it was!!  We even captured it on film.  It was amazing. 

The next week, or maybe it was two weeks later, we went back to the doctor for another ultrasound.  That was when, again with no explanation, we were told that the heartbeat was gone.  They told us that we were going to miscarry.

All of those same horrible feelings came flooding in.  It was all so very devastating the first time.  This last time though, it was even harder because we knew that we wouldn't be trying IVF for a third time.  It's just not an option financially for us and really, for whatever reason, my body is just not responding well. 

Again, the miscarriage didn't happen right away.  Again, it was all so very very horrible.

I knew that in order to some how some way recover from this devastating blow, I was going to have to find a way to let this dream of mine go.  The dream of having a biological child with Biff.  I'm not going to lie.  There have been some mighty dark days.  They come and go though.

I have friends and family with the most beautiful children.  And I adore them all and I love being their Auntie.  But I'm human and sometimes I just want to cry out to God or to whomever will listen and ask WHY???  WHY NOT ME???  Am I not deserving?  Tell me WHY!!!

Aaaaaaah... But I guess we don't always know why life is the way it is.  And I've realized that maybe what I thought was meant to be  just isn't part of MY journey.  Perhaps there is a different plan for me.  Doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt or that I never think about it.  But I'm living one day at a time and have made great strides. I feel peace.

I love my husband and I love our life together.  Our hearts are big though and we have room to share.  Which is why I'm super excited to report that we are getting certified to foster and potentially ADOPT a child!! :))

Remember back in May when Biff and I volunteered with Foster Care Counts?  My good friend Karen turned us on to that organization and we helped with their Mother's Day event for foster parents.  Well, I guess that was us sticking our lil' pinky toe in the water.  Around that same time, one of my other good gal pals recommended Nia Vardalos' book, Instant Mom.  (Thanks, Sally!) I loved that book.  It was just what I needed at exactly the right time. Finally.  Someone who could relate to how I had been feeling around all these other moms.  Someone who had experienced all the crazy-making hormones.  Those shots are awful btw.  All the bloating?!  What a nightmare...  The emotional roller coaster? Nothing compares.   Nia's story is incredible.  She went through so many IVF cycles...  Experienced such heartbreak.  I really don't know how she survived.  But she DID survive and now she has the daughter she was always meant to have!

It's a story that is so inspiring and gives me lots of hope.  And I think it's what ultimately led to me calling a Foster Family Agency and  setting up that initial meeting.  And now 2 1/2 months later, we've taken the classes and gotten fingerprinted.  We've had our health screenings, our cars and home inspected and learned CPR.  There are still a few more things to take care of but we are so close now.  They tell us that by September, we may very well have a child in our home!!!

The process is totally scary and I've had about a million freak-outs about the whole thing.   There's a lot of red tape, so much bureaucracy.  And it's definitely not for everyone.  But it's looking (and feeling!) more and more like it's for us. Yay!

I'll probably go into more detail regarding the whole process in the coming weeks and of course, as I embark on instant motherhood, I'll be sharing those experiences too.  First though, we've got to kick some of these decorating projects into high gear!  We have to get the kiddos rooms ready STAT!  More on those plans coming soon.  

Check back next week for some pretty eye candy from my recently finished Ohio Guestroom Project!

SO much to do but the future is looking bright!  Happy Thursday, friends.

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