B&A: A Bland Brown Kitchen Gets a Quirky Redo—and a Surprising New Cabinet Color

B&A: A Bland Brown Kitchen Gets a Quirky Redo—and a Surprising New Cabinet Color

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Sure, natural wood cabinets are a classic, and white is timeless, too. But sometimes, it’s fun to think outside the box when it comes to the color of your kitchen cabinets. Might we suggest… purple?

If you’re skeptical, this project from artist and interior designer Andrea Granger (Hunt and Scavenge) will make you a convert.

The kitchen, owned by an Indiana couple, was in desperate need of a facelift. Between the cabinets, the island, and the trim around the window, the entire space was dark, brown, and wood all over. The homeowners and their five children wanted a new, fresh space that worked for their big family.

“Keeping the ‘good parts’ was very important,” Andrea says. So as she assessed the kitchen, she decided not to get rid of the existing countertops, and instead work around them.

All of the kitchen cabinets were a dark wood that made the kitchen feel bland and unoriginal. To completely change the vibe, Andrea selected a bold shade of purple for the lower cabinets (Sherwin-Williams’s Plum Dandy).“The purple was such a daring choice, but I pitched it to the homeowners and they were surprisingly very excited,” Andrea says. The uppers were swapped for open shelves made from locally sourced lumber, which puts all eyes on the new purple paint color.

The original gray subway tile backsplash was replaced with a funky black-and-white tile in a modified hex shape.

“Honestly, it’s one of my favorite spaces I’ve created to date,” Andrea says of the kitchen. “I tried to channel a bit of the family’s energy into every decision, even down to the kids’ homemade pottery chilling on the shelves. It’s the little details that give it soul.” 

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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9 Holiday Decorating Hacks to Help You Fake a High-End Look on an IKEA Budget

9 Holiday Decorating Hacks to Help You Fake a High-End Look on an IKEA Budget

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Flipping through holiday decor catalogs evokes the same kind of giddy joy that toy catalogs used to bring. It’s fun to imagine the possibilities of your own winter wonderland, and to dream about how you can sprinkle little moments of magic throughout your home.

Here’s a secret, though: You don’t have to shell out department store money to get a super high-end look at home. There are plenty of hacks and tricks that will give you the same style with a fraction of the budget, and they involve your favorite retailers: IKEA, Target, the hardware store, and more. Read on for nine great ideas from stylists and bloggers, and get inspired for decorating your own home this holiday season.

Make a faux sheepskin wreath.

IKEA’s faux sheepskin is one of their most hacked products, and for good reason: It brings a luxurious, plush texture to any project and at just $10, it’s affordable, too. Here, Fran of Fall for DIY used the iconic throw for a wintery wreath that you can keep up all winter long.

Or use a faux sheepskin as a tree skirt.

Instead of shelling out for a new tree skirt, I used a couple faux sheepskins to wrap the bottom of my artificial Christmas tree. It feels completely luxurious, but would suit a minimalist vibe, too. And the best part? Once I put my tree away, the sheepskins can be used around my home as non-holiday decor. This hack’s great for anyone who doesn’t want to have to find space to store tons of holiday stuff in the off-season.

Raid the hardware store for unexpected ornaments.

The main material for these DIY ornaments comes from a surprising place: the hardware store. Jenni of I Spy DIY took apart marble backsplash tile sheets to create individual ornaments, and gave them a personalized touch with foil letters and embossed ribbon. These marble ornaments may look ultra pricey, but you can make about 12 of them per roughly $22 square foot sheet. For an even more budget-friendly project, choose ceramic tile instead — that will run you less than $10 per square foot sheet.

Fill glass containers with light.

Battery-powered “fairy lights” are all you need to turn thrifted or recycled glass vases and jars into beautiful decor. Set up a collection of them on a windowsill, mantle, or table for instant holiday vibes.

Dye your own bottle brush trees.

The typical bottle brush tree palette not quite what you need? Take a cue from Elliott and Cali of Dalla Vita and dye them to suit your decor for a completely custom look.

Give a plain garland the star treatment.

You can make a budget garland look super fancy by employing the two Bs: bells and bows. Add bows to each point where your garland swings up and meets the stairs and cap off the end with bells like Jen of Rambling Renovators did here. (Check out Jen’s tips for how to hang your garland on stairs to get the same voluminous look.)

Trade in your tree skirt for a tree basket.

Switch up the tree skirt or collar this year with a basket for a fun twist. (Erin of Francois et Moi found hers at Target, but you can find similar ones at most stores). This is a great solution if you’re low on storage space since you can keep the basket out for use all year round.

A lot of time and love goes into holiday cards, so why not give them their own special display? Here, DIYers Emily and Erik took their cards off the fridge and hung them on a wood bead garland stretched across their window using clothespins.

Wreaths don’t have to be confined to the front door. Designer Emily Henderson created a sweet holiday vignette by using a square wreath as a frame for two wooden ornaments. This looks amazing by itself, or you can add the same elements to an existing gallery wall.

These Interactive Treats Help Me Bond with My Cats — and Have Over 12,000 5-Star Amazon Reviews

These Interactive Treats Help Me Bond with My Cats — and Have Over 12,000 5-Star Amazon Reviews

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If your cats are anything like my cats, then they’re kind-of sort-of obsessed with food. They’ll eat just about anything, which is surprising because cats can be extremely selective about what they eat (which is why we rounded up the best vet-approved cat food for picky eaters!). And while they’ve happily gobbled up every variety of treat and cat food that we’ve brought home, there’s one surprising snack that they go absolutely wild for: these Hartz Delectables Squeeze Up Cat Treats.

Despite having a cat my entire life, I’d only recently discovered squeezable cat treats from a cat foster Instagram account I follow. While there are a few different varieties of lickable treats out there (that account uses the Inaba Churu Puree Lickable Treats, for instance), we’ve only tried the Hartz variety pack so far which has received astounding reviews courtesy of my begging cats. Each pouch is filled with a rich, thick puree made from chicken or fish (there’s also an option for senior cats!) and are completely grain-free.

While my kitties circle us and meow constantly as soon as we open a pouch, my favorite part about this snack is that it actually allows me to bond with my cats. Like any cat owner knows, our feline friends call the shots — which means they don’t always want to snuggle or be held even if you want to! With these treats, however, my cats come right up to my lap and actually stay there because you have to hold the tube while they lick from it. I usually split one tube between my two cats, so they’re usually both in my lap which always makes my day. It’s also incredibly cute watching them get so excited and lick away! 

And, as an added bonus, it’s been a great way to warm up my skittish cats to friends and family when they come over. We simply give the person visiting a tube, and my cats almost always accept it from them. 

These treats have also racked up over 12,000 5-star ratings on Amazon, with many people raving about how their picky eaters loved these snacks. Instead of having their cats lick it from the pouch, many reviewers put it in their cat’s food dish to entice them to eat. One person mentioned that these treats got their picky senior cat to eat after losing some weight, adding, “She LOVES them…it’s fun to see her excited about something again!” 

One tip from a reviewer that I’m definitely going to try is using these treat tubes while clipping nails and brushing fur. They said it was nearly impossible to do either of these tasks before using these treats. “I was able to brush off so much of his fur while he licked this treat that I could build a new cat and a half!” they added. In the past, we would feed my cats treats while brushing or clipping nails, but would wind up giving them way more than we should. This way, we can use just one treat the entire time!”

I never thought I’d have a strong opinion on cat treats because my voracious pets eat everything, but these lickable snacks are by far my favorite. Whether you have a picky or skittish cat at home or you just want to spend a little extra quality time together, these treats are a win-win for both you and your cat!

This Luxe Feature Wall Is Made from IKEA Products

This Luxe Feature Wall Is Made from IKEA Products

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Sticking to a budget when renovating your home can be hard. If you’ve redone a kitchen, bathroom, or closet, then you may already know that sourcing custom cabinetry can be where things takes a pricey turn. That’s where IKEA can come in to save the day, and that was the case for designer Gianna Marzella-Vazquez in her last home.

Marzella-Vazquez and her husband, David, spent five years living in their 1800-square-foot townhouse in Queens, New York. Over the years, they took on some big yet budget-friendly projects and ended up with some really luxe-looking results. “All products and finishes are attainable, but I like to think that how I detailed them makes them appear higher-end,” Marzella-Vazquez says. Her proudest DIY yet is a breathtaking IKEA hack in the main bedroom of their townhome — and wait for it, because it’s good.

The bedroom in question had a long, narrow layout that didn’t offer much floor space. Instead of filling the room with bulky furniture, Marzella-Vazquez looked for ways to give the room “a more serene, hotel-like vibe” by streamlining the space, both in terms of the furnishings and colors she selected as well as by incorporating the idea of hidden storage. Ultimately, when it came to the idea of storage, she decided bespoke-looking built-ins would make the room look more thoughtfully designed and less “thrown together.”

To that end, Marzella-Vazquez and her husband created a feature wall made up of two IKEA PAX wardrobes (one of which came from their old apartment), extra MDF, and some crown molding. The closets are used for hanging clothes and have four drawers inside each of them, which allowed the couple to forgo free-standing dressers that might clutter up the floor space in the room. Sandwiched between the two closet units are floating shelves that frame a wall-mounted TV, making the wall look clean and clutter-free. This little area also accommodates their hampers, which are just below the television. Right by the door, they added a deep, wall-mounted slab-style tabletop, which is styled out as a little home office area.

“This design was really a partnership with my husband,” Marzella-Vazquez says. “Somehow, he stumbled upon an IKEA hack on YouTube that inspired us to create this.” The couple took one of the IKEA shelves they already owned to the hardware store and had them color match the exact same white as the wardrobe unit for paint. Then, Marzella-Vazquez and her husband had all the individual components — shelves, crown molding and toe-kicks to dress up the wardrobe units — painted the same shade and finish of white to visually unify them and fake that custom built-in look. 

Another creative way she customized this unit was by installing black pulls on it, which were wrapped in leather for a textured, high-end look. “I think it creates a more beautiful tactile experience when opening the doors,” Marzella-Vazquez says. “I also like how the cognac color for the leather softened the black color in the space since I wanted to keep it light.”

The couple was so pleased by the way this IKEA closet-feature wall hybrid turned out that, in lieu of nightstands, they used the same concept to flank their bed with ceiling-high, thin PAX wardrobes. Marzella-Vazquez says her most brilliant, space-maximizing tip is to take cabinets all the way up your walls, and I couldn’t agree more. Truthfully, that might also be why these cabinets look so expensive; they seem to fit this space like a glove. When you’re working with set measurements from IKEA, the key is simply using trim and toe-kicks to fill whatever gaps may exist. Marzella-Vazquez’s kitchen cabinets also soar to the ceiling, and she loves it for the look — and the extra storage. “If you live in a small space, you will never regret the extra row of shelves it gives you,” she says. “It is also a much nicer look.”

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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I Tried Taking a Midday Walk for a Month — Here Are 4 Things I Learned

I Tried Taking a Midday Walk for a Month — Here Are 4 Things I Learned

Working from home comes with a lot of perks and, of course, a few minuses — including the fact that some remote workers struggle to carve out boundaries in their physical space during and after the work day. For my part, I’ve had a difficult time sticking to a schedule while working from my bedroom, as I frequently work into the night. Some weeks, I won’t leave the house for days at a time, which only heightens my anxiety and restless nature. 

My lack of a schedule contrasted greatly from that of my friend, who always seemed like she was taking a walk — whether that was before or after work, or during her lunch hour — whenever I texted her during a break. And to be honest, I never thought to set aside time to go for a walk during the workday; I’d only step outside to walk my dog in the evening or run an errand. It dawned on me how unhealthy the habit had become, and I knew that I needed to make a change. That’s when I thought of challenging myself to take a midday walk every day for a month, all in the hopes of breaking up my “routine” and regularly breathing some fresh air.

In order to make sure I actually took a 30-minute walk during my lunch break, I set a daily reminder and timer on my phone. The first week or so went well, but when work picked up, I caught myself making excuses. On those days, I challenged myself to disconnect 100 percent from my computer and lean on a walking buddy to hold me accountable, whether that was a friend or my dog. 

This trial pushed me to reflect on my everyday needs, mentality, and bad habits. Here are four things I learned in the process. 

Sometimes, you need to unplug to restart your mind…

Nowadays, I basically live at my desk; it’s where I’ll eat breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner as I send emails and write away. I bought a monitor, a proper desk chair, and a standing desk in an effort to optimize the workspace, but all of those details also made it easier to stay in my workspace, staring at even more screens, for longer than is healthy or productive. According to research, staying stagnant throughout the day decreases your level of focus and productivity. A 2014 study from Stanford found that walking outside led to greater problem-solving and creativity than sitting down or even walking inside. 

As a writer, I’ll blank out or get stuck on an idea, a story’s structure, or even a phrase. Taking a midday walk allowed me to step away from my laptop and ideate. I’d brainstorm in my head or out loud with my dog (he’s a great listener) and write the ideas down on my Notes app. When I was really stuck on something, I’d try my best not to think about it and let other thoughts come to mind. In the end, the solution usually presented itself by the time I sat back down at my desk.

… and other times, you need to quiet your mind and let your body do the talking.

On days when I was really stressed, I left my phone behind and tried to focus on the physical aspect of walking. I quickly noticed how my brain wouldn’t be quiet — this also happens whenever I meditate — and I actively prioritized not thinking. The task forced me to completely disconnect and avoid any distractions. Sometimes, I caught myself dissociating and going on autopilot. Whenever this happened, I’d ground myself by focusing on the senses such as the colors of the trees, the cool air, and whatever I could smell. Overall, this exercise helped me recenter and re-engage with my body, and I’d return from each walk feeling more energized and focused on the task at hand. 

A routine keeps me motivated.

I’ve found that working from home makes it easy to lose track of time and forget to take care of myself, and I didn’t realize how unhealthy my workdays were until I started taking midday walks. (Sure, I’ll forget to take breaks, but I’ll also forget to eat meals.) Going on a midday walk each day served as a reminder to have a nourishing lunch and taught me an effective way to enforce that. 

It always helps to have a buddy.

Taking a walk every afternoon for a month requires some dedication, and if I didn’t live with my pup or near a friend, I don’t know if I would have stuck to the task. Having a friend accompany me allowed me to think and talk about subjects other than work and listen to someone else and their thoughts. Telecommuting can be super isolating, and going on a walk with a friend can feel like a breath of fresh air, emotionally as well as literally. 

Andie Kanaras

Contributor

Andie Kanaras is a freelance culture writer based in NJ. She loves candles, reality tv, and pasta.

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12 Gift Wrapping Hacks on TikTok That Will Turn You Into a Holiday Gifting Pro

12 Gift Wrapping Hacks on TikTok That Will Turn You Into a Holiday Gifting Pro

Seeing loved ones eagerly open their gifts during the holidays is such a joy, but the same can’t be said for when it comes wrapping the gifts.

The task can be complex, requiring you to cut the perfect length of wrapping paper, fold the package neatly, then make sure no dirty thumb prints are on the tape. It’s such a chore that it’s easy to see why a lot of people use gift bags instead.

Thankfully, TikTok is filled with all sorts of wrapping hacks to get the job done. From wrapping odd-shaped items to making cute bows, here are some TikTok hacks that will turn you into a gift-wrapping pro this holiday season.

1. Pleat your paper: Here’s a hack on how to pleat your wrapping paper. It’s simple to do if you take your time, and the effort can result in something elegant.

2. Turn your present diagonal when you’re short on paper: If you realize you don’t have enough paper mid-wrapping, don’t get frustrated. Try positioning the item on the diagonal and you’ll manage without having to waste a sheet.

3. Cut strips to perfectly wrap circular items:This hack will actually get you excited to wrap cylindrical objects like scented candles.

4. Wrap bottles like a bouquet: Who knew you could turn a bottle into a bouquet? As you fold wrapping paper around the bottle, stuff with tissue paper at the same time.

5. Use double-sided tape to make the finished product neater: To make your gift wrapping look cleaner, ditch the regular tape for a double-sided one.

6. Wrap your clothes in paper versus using a bag: Here’s a wrapping technique you can use for a piece of clothing. Fold your item into a neat square, place a piece of cardboard inside near the neckline to keep it in place, and then go about wrapping like you would a small box.

7. Finish the look with a bow on top: Why not add a bow for that special someone? Try this simple technique for starters.

8. Add ribbon around the corners for extra flair: If you’re up for a challenge, here’s a bow design with a bit more technique to it.

9. Make an origami gift bag for tiny items: For small gifts such as trinkets and jewelry, this origami hack lets you make little paper bags out of wrapping paper. So cute!

10: Mix and match wrapping paper: To make your present stand out, combine different wrapping paper to create an original look. This is a great way to use those leftover scraps, too.

11. Recycle newspapers and magazines as wrapping paper: To be more sustainable this holiday season — and save some cash — use what you already have. Collect your leftover newspapers and magazines, then cover your present in them for an original presentation.

12. Wrap gifts in napkins, tea towels, and fabric offcuts: Wrap using fabrics, which can be reused at home instead of ending up in the trash.