The Flex Room’s Half-Way Point

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

The front living space we refer to as the “flex room” is gaining a little momentum!

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

After falling hard for a green velvet sofa, things about this room’s look and feel began to click for me.

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

The rug, wall art, sofa (obviously!), and curtains are all staying, but I see some more texture in here in the form of wood and/or metal (a round coffee table). and 1 or 2 chairs, lighter in appearance than the overstuffed white Kivik chair (which has yet to receive a new assignment somewhere else in the house!).

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

I had to see the sofa in play under the windows to get a feel for what focal point (art?) might best work on the wall’s blank space. The hunt is on!

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For now, I’m stroking the velvet sofa, soaking up all the natural light for which I love this room so much…and contemplating just how big an eye roll I’ll get when I suggest to my handier half that we do some built-ins on this north wall? :)

Fun progress, and more to come!

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Finishing the Basement: the play space

I definitely jinxed myself saying we’d have flooring in for the next post — nope, backordered, then backordered FURTHER, and the latest update is that the mill is now making a whole new run of our carpet, so yes…more waiting.

So I figured in the meantime, I can still share some updated “in progress” pictures — this time, of the play space. This little cove wraps around the bottom half of our stairwell, forming an under-stairs clubhouse spot on the right, and a closet designated solely for toys (and storing baby gear up top) to the left.

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I have since finished arranging all the components just the way I like them (we went with the Ikea “Algot” system, and so far, I’ve been very pleased!). I’ve also been slowly relocating a few toys from upstairs down here — which will be a fun rediscovery for Crew when he can get down here to play in what is (hopefully!) a couple more weeks.
toy closet in progress

We still have some work to do on the clubhouse. Since the first photo above was taken, our electrician installed both a light inside, and the “porch light” on the outside. We’ve purchased some plank style paneling that Page will rip into the shape of a house, and edge with some leftover trim we have on hand. Finally, when he builds a sliding barn door for the bottom of the stairway to help muffle some sound, his plan is to create a mini version to serve as Crew’s front door. I’m thinking a mailbox and/or a flower box of some sort is in order to make it especially homey! :)

PlaySpace

I’m waiting to take pics of the inside until it’s truly finished, but decorating this little spot has been so much fun! We will back soon (fingers crossed!!) with the reveal!

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Finishing the Basement: our home gym

gym

Paint color is Sherwin Williams “Oceanside”. You can view all our basement paint picks here.

The gym is our basement level is currently the most finished space so far, but still a work in progress. Today I’m sharing the final plan (and inspiration board, above) for this space, along with a couple progress pics!

gym drywalled

The flooring was in before we even drywalled (Page used the horse stall mats similar to what you might see in a CrossFit or other gym). We have since drywalled, trimmed, painted, and added a ceiling fan and TV. The doors that will let the window light through to the main living area are hung as well, just waiting on the door handles. I don’t have a photo that shows the last few details, but here’s a gist picture thus far…

gym painted

The final touches will include a series of full length mirrors on the south wall, and across them a ballet barre (yasssss!!!!) and eventually, a wall of planked wood across the south (window) wall to bring in a little warmth to the space. I’ve already squeezed in a couple workouts down here and am LOVING the space.

We’ll be back with the FINAL reveal, and I’ll have Page chime in on all the equipment (much more his gig than mine) for anyone curious!

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Finishing the Basement: The Bathroom

Bathroom Inspiration Board | www.lifeinyellow.com

Mirror | Sconces | Faucet
Paint color pictured is Sherwin Williams “City Loft” — see all of our paint picks here

I’m proud to say we’ve stayed remarkably on budget for this basement project, now that we have drywall, trim, paint, and electrical/fixtures all behind us. But we KNEW when we requested our first flooring/shower estimate that we were asking for all of the “wants” on our wishlist. So somewhat expectedly, the estimate came back and we choked. For the first time, we stopped to reevaluate a bit as to where we wanted to splurge, and save, to keep ourselves in check financially. Much of the estimate (and much of where we could reevaluate and save) was allocated to various elements of the bathroom.

I’ve had to remind myself that while I was living out all my bath tile dreams in the showroom, this is – in fact – just the basement bathroom and the shower will only get used a handful of times a year, if that. It’s a must-have for our guests, but unless I plan on moving down to the basement level and making it my master, I could apply a little “look for less” to the plan. :) #realitycheck

The inspo board above was put together while we were still picking items to estimate, but the overall look/feel will stay very much the same. It was easy to identify the look we were going for in here — Pinterest is a great tool for gathering the styles that grab you time and again! My board quickly showed several trends and elements that needed to be incorporated, blending classic tile with restoration-style light fixtures, a pivot mirror, window pane shower doors, an open-concept vanity with exposed plumbing, and a mix of black and chrome hardware.

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The beauty of going back and swapping out materials is that a) the challenge is kind of fun to see how much you can save for a similar effect, and b) once I settle on the new option, I often forget what I had even planned on doing the first time around. Picking a different but very similar floor tile will save us over 50% of the original estimate, as did shopping around for our subway tile and hiring our own installer. We’ve planned all along to hack our own vanity, similar to what we did in the basement of our first house. In part, this saves us money, and we haven’t found any ready-made options out there that aren’t well into the four digit price tags (keep repeating with me…it’s just the basement bathroom…). :)

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I leave you with the current status of the bathroom –more to come soon!

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Potty Training Essentials (and 5 things that worked for us)

Potty Training Essentials | www.lifeinyellow.com
potty training seat | flushable toddler wipes | OXO travel potty and extra bags | Even Firefighters Go to the Potty | Potty
Big Boy Underpants  (girl version here!)| the BEST underpants by Kickee Pants (available in girl styles, too)

If you follow Life In Yellow on Instagram, you may have spotted the exciting news at our house…no more diapers! People love to tell you that boys in particular are hard to potty train…but I found it to be pretty darn easy overall! I think we put it off anticipating a lot of dragged out progress, but all in all, after a couple of days hanging almost exclusively at home as we all figured out the mechanics, within a week we were feeling like he had it about 95% mastered and had several (successful!) trips out of the house under our belt.

Every kid is different and of course ready at different times. Crew had become way more interested in everything bathroom-related, and I took the interest as reason enough to give it a go, before the window of opportunity passed us by.

I think this kind of stuff is ultimately as hard as you make it out to be and it’s easy to overthink it. I took the approach of “okay, maybe this won’t work and if not that’s okay, but let’s plan that it WILL, so I’ll have all the stuff I need on hand“. I also read enough to educate myself on the basics, but not so much that I started to psyche myself out with a bunch of “rules”. If we got a day in and it became clear I had misread all his readiness signs, I was completely prepared to chill out and try again in a couple months. We didn’t follow any set schedule or “method”, we just picked a weekend he was healthy/happy and we had little on the agenda, so we could tag-team the extra-close attention we needed pay for a couple days while he got the hang of it all. Oh, and obviously we TALKED. UP. a garbage truck toy as bribery. 😉

Again and again, I look to bloggers and moms who’ve “been there” for product suggestions and reviews, so today I’m sharing my punch list of products that helped to make potty training a piece of cake! If you’re interested further, I made a few notes below about the items on the list, and a couple of tips that worked for us!

  1. Potty versus potty seat — it made sense to me to just stick him on a regular potty from the get-go. At his school, they use a “real” one (although lower to the ground), and when out and about, he’ll have no choice but to use the real ones, and I didn’t want him to be afraid of them. I bought a couple kinds to have one on each level at home, but this one was our favorite — comfy for long sits and no seams to pinch anything!
  2. Flushable wipes and a travel seatbecause it’s way easier than TP and frankly more “familiar” to him to use a wipe. We did add a waterproof liner to his car seat but have yet to experience an accident. It gives me major peace of mind to make further ventures from home if I know we have the travel potty in the trunk!
  3. Lots of books for motivation — We started reading here and there about going to the potty a couple months ago and his interest in the books directly reflected his interest in the potty — one of the ways I felt he showed he was ready was to ask to read them much more frequently and then reference them when we were in a bathroom. I was drawn to the books that could be a bit more specific in terms of gender, and that, for the most part featured the “big” potty versus the little ones (see note #1!).
  4. Underpants (SOFT ones!) — I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t do characters on my kid’s clothing! But when mom after mom told me to let him pick some, I did — and despite the fact he barely knew Thomas or Paw Patrol, in the moment he seemed to like them, so we took a few home. And I hated them. They were cheap and scratchy and my apparently pampered son told me more than once he didn’t want them on. While it’s hard to find many aside from the cheapos that run small enough for a two-year-old, I kept on with my search. If you need undies that run on the smaller side and/or have a younger and smaller potty-trainer on your hands (my stash of adorable Gap ones have yet to fit!), I bought pairs that fit like a dream from the notoriously soft Kickee Pants brand (pictured above) and this set from Boden, also super soft. I laughed out loud when, on more than one occasion, Crew told me “oh they’re so nice and soft!”. Hey — whatever it takes!
  5. Rewards — I printed out a sticker chart and bought an arsenal of stickers…and should have known better. My kid just isn’t really jazzed by stickers in the first place — so a chart that lets him put up a sticker each time he tries/goes/whatever…just didn’t help. We quickly changed course and he got a couple of mini M&Ms each time he tried – success or not. I had heard stories of kids “rationing it” in an attempt to get more successes/treats, and I didn’t want that! I worried that the M&M thing would backfire over time, but we just slowly phased it out or “forgot” or distracted him after the first couple days, and he no longer expected any treats after a couple more days. We also used suckers in the beginning as a reward for trying — the fact that they last longer was great for minutes on end of sitting and waiting, with the deal being that he had to be on the potty to have one. And of course there was the BIG reward that we talked up the whole first weekend — and it became our first big potty-trained outing to go get it — going to the store to pick out a new garbage truck. Whenever Crew was getting tired of our requests to try (after the first few he was kind of over it) we talked up the truck all weekend long to keep him motivated – and it worked!

And finally — celebrate! Page and I busted out dance moves and cheers and we shouted it from the rooftop driveway! 😉 Guys! We haven’t changed a diaper in over a week — life is amazing! :)

(And in other news…) 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

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Finishing the Basement: The Guest Bedroom

Guestroom in progress

Having built two homes, I’m very familiar with picking out elements for my home without being able to actually see/touch/walk through the ACTUAL finished space beforehand. Finishing the basement level is a little bit easier because at least I can reference the room size and take measurements anytime I want (versus trying to do the math off a set of blueprints and “guess” what 4 feet feels like!). Even so, the walls aren’t yet painted (as we speak!) carpet isn’t yet in (although we’ve picked it out — it’s a slightly cooler/lighter color than what’s pictured below, but same pattern) and the lights aren’t yet turned on (fixtures on order!). So, pulling together a couple versions of a quick inspiration board helps me immensely to figure out the vibe I’m going for in a room. I like too many styles and one moment I’m pinning everything “transitional farmhouse”, the next it’s all “rustic/industrial”. Trying to keep a balanced blend that isn’t too pigeonholed is tricky!

Guest Room Planning | www.lifeinyellow.com

Bed | Ceiling Light | Throw Pillows | Artwork | Dresser | Wall Sconce
Carpet pictured is Tuftex Peak Talent in “Misty Dawn” — (ours will be in “Drizzle”)
Paint color pictured is Sherwin Williams “Faint Coral” — see all of our paint picks here

Guestroom Inspiration Board | www.lifeinyellow.com

Alternate Headboard | Alternate Ceiling Light

Over the next couple weeks, I’m excited to share a room-by-room plan for our lower level. Unless our money tree blooms out back overnight, it will certainly take a little time to pull together all the finishing touches, but we feel pretty stoked about the progress that’s coming along and, furnished or not, we hope to have some usable space by summer!

For today, I’m sharing the inspiration for our guest bedroom. The people at Casper and I created a little checklist of the elements needed in this room to make it inviting to future guests!

Guest Room Essentials | www.lifeinyellow.com

Bedding. Coming into the warmer months, I love the idea of keeping it fresh/crisp with bright white sheets, a light down comforter, and a couple light blankets folded at the foot of the bed. But I’m also already thinking ahead to the holidays, and how to bring in some Christmas coziness — flannel sheets and some festive throw pillows.

Artwork. A must for giving your guests a glimpse of your decorating personality! I have a couple little pieces to sprinkle around the room that are specific to where we live and represent Des Moines for the people visiting us here. I also am planning to make an updated version of the art in our upstairs guest room that displays all the deets for accessing our wifi. For a larger, focal piece in the room, I’m loving the colors in this print from Minted.

Pillows. There’s nothing worse than sleeping on a flat/cheap/”extra” pillow when you’re staying over, and I’m all about investing a little in the foundation pieces; a good mattress and quality pillows. You don’t want your guests tossing and turning all night!

Travel Conveniences. As I mentioned, we’ll displaying our wifi in the room, and a TV will have DirecTV for more entertainment. I’ll be adding a little basket in here with everything from some spare toothbrushes and travel-sized bath products, to a small emergency kit (nail clippers, stain pen, etc) and a couple of leisure books and magazines. I want to wait and see how big the room feels after the bed is moved in, but I’m planningon either a bench at the end of the bed, or a luggage rack in the corner to make accessing suitcases easier. When guests actually arrive, I like to add bottled water and a fresh glass on the dresser.

Lighting. The less-than-stellar shot of the room above was taken on my phone, and what you can’t see to the left is the little nook entry from the hall. We need a very flush sconce on that wall to bring in a little light, but still let the door open, left, into the room so that our guests can easily reach the light switches on the right wall. (So many things you have to think about!) Guests aren’t as familiar with the layout of your home as you are, and you want to make it easy so they aren’t bumping around in the dark, fumbling for lamps. Aside from a small bedside lamp, the lighting in here (both the sconce in the entry nook, and the star ceiling light over the bed) will all be tied to a single set of switches. Side note: While I’m always a fan of a ceiling fan in a bedroom, because of the way our soffit bumps into this room, we opted for something smaller on the ceiling, and an oscilating fan on the floor…I’m not going to lie, it’s been fun picking out pretty light fixtures for the ceiling in here, instead of boring old fans!

Storage. We definitely don’t want guests feeling like they unzip their suitcases…and then have nowhere to put anything. My plan is to use a dresser that can double as a TV stand, so there is plenty of places for guests to unpack things if they want to. The closet is generously sized, so I’ll likely use it for some of our own off-season things, but have a section dedicated so guest items can be hung up.

Any must-haves I haven’t thought of??

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