• Bellaire Update

    We have a sofa.  There's been a chair delivered.  Paint is on the walls, and cabinets are installed.  My sweet little shotgun on Bellaire is starting to look like a real house!!

    After a quick change of pace with the wall color (Spare White looked almost mint green, so Extra White made an appearance on all surfaces), the floors have been installed, can lights have gone into the kitchen, and everything- EVERYTHING!- has gotten a lovely coat of paint.  It's amazing to me what fresh baseboard can do for a room, or how beautiful wide, gray floors can look in such a small space.  

    Our lighting has all been delivered, but not yet installed, thought I find myself a little more excited each day to see what the Arc Sconces from West Elm are going to look like in the bathroom, and how the Mobile Chandelier is going to light up the dining area.

    This week, I'm told that fun black and white tile will go down in the bathroom, and soon, my sweet landscapers are going to tackle the mess that is the yard.  

    Four more weeks, friends, until another update is due.  I can't wait to show you the progress!

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • The Mane Revival


    I was 10 years old the last time I really, truly looked in the mirror and saw my own hair color.  It was in the South where the 80's had just ended, and I remember seeing a huge, spiral curled head of hair in one of the beauty magazines laying around the parlor my grandma visited every Friday.  I went home and begged- begged!- to be allowed this beauty indulgence. I never took into account that my collar-touching bowl cut would shrink up to the size of nothing, or that the chemicals used in a perm would lighten my locks.  It was these oversights (despite coke-bottle glasses) that stuck me with the nickname "the poodle" for the rest of my 5th grade year.  

    When I found out I was changing schools and school systems the following summer, I decided to let my hair dictate who I was going to be.  The terrible perm was growing out, but provided me with two-tone hair that I decided to correct with Sun-In, which resulted in a chemical green tinge when I started spending so much time in a pool.  I tried to get my hair back to its natural shade by buying a box of brown hair color which took my drug store bleached hair past brown to black, at which point I was referred to as Wednesday Addams.  It was not a good look for me, but it was one I was stuck with until the sun came out in spring, and I again reached for the Sun-In.

    I went without a haircut until I was 13, and the bottled lightener took me to a shade of icky blonde that reeked of 1970's television, when my middle school crush began referring to me as Marcia Brady, something that- looking back- may have been meant as a compliment.  

    At this point, I realized that new looks weren't always all bad, and my hair began to fluctuate from a tiny, bleach blonde pixie cut to a fire engine red shag (prom, junior year...).  By the time my freshman year of college rolled around, I was happily sporting an overly highlighted and hairsprayed soccer-mom 'do that was just as horrible as it sounds.  In 2005, after a pretty signifigant shift in my life, I decided, finally, to start letting my hair- and that terrible color- grow out.      

    When my grandma passed in 2007, I needed a change more than anything and took the Wednesday Addams risk once again and went jet black.... it wasn't as bad this time, and was a hair color that stuck with me for almost all of the past 10 years, save for a couple quick weekends as a redhead.  

    June of 2015, I decided it was time to try and return to my roots.  My stylist (patient and loving) and I spent 8 hours or so bleaching, lightening, color matching, and highlighting to try and get me back to what seemed like a natural, highlighted blonde (for evidence, click here).  It wasn't a bad look, and aside from the highlight, felt natural, but it was too much change too quickly, and too much of a dramatic turn from the black hair that I had become accustomed to.  I panicked.  It lasted three days before I returned to JK and asked for the black color again.  This time, though, we reached for a semi-permanant color, determined to get me back to my natural- whatever it was- once and for all.

    It's been almost 2 years, and finally I see the color that seems familiar to me.  A little brown, a lot gold, a little red... and surprisingly to me, a little gray.  

    I didn't realize the sheer amount of damage I had done to my locks with bleaching, sun-in, razor cuts, and dollar-store products, and it wasn't until I saw a disgusting video showing the buildup that can be caused by cheaper haircare produts that I began to wonder if there could be a better way to care for my newfound natural hair.  

    After trying multiple formulas, morning routines and finally agreeing to have my trusty stylist, JK cut in some major layers, I've found what is working best, gives my hair a ton of life, and keeps my ends silky soft and hydrated.

    I've completely fallen for Aveda's Brilliant shampoo and conditioner.  I focus on massaging my scalp with the shampoo.  The lower-bubbling formula took a while to get used to, and after the first real wash, my hair seemed to be twice as volumnous as normal. I concentrate the conditioner only on the lower half of my hair, squeezing it through my ends.  After morning blow-drys and styling, I massage a teeny bit of Moroccan Oil light into my ends to separate and define, and slide a bit along the strands by my face to tame flyaways.

    I only wash my hair every other day, so on days off, if I look or feel a little oily, I LOVE Aveda's Shampure dry shampoo.  The application is very different than any other dry shampoo I've used- instead of an aerosol type spray, this one puffs out using your hand's gentle squeeze.  After landing on my roots and sitting for a few minutes, my oil is absorbed, and I'm right back to being ready for a new day, gray hair and all.

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

    ** this post is not sponsored in any way ** 

  • Williams-Sonoma Lacourte Collection

    I'm seriously considering new furniture for our guest room here at the house.  After giving away the same desk and end tables I'd had for 12 years (from Target!), and coming around just a bit more to gold accessories, I stumbled upon the Lacourte Collection from Williams-Sonoma Home.

    Finished in a gorgeous ebony stain, with brass details, each piece has a glamorous personality, but seems to be built for small spaces. The upright desk fold up to a slim 19" deep, and the side tables offer a pull-out tray above the drawer.  The four-poster bed is just short enough to fit under my eight foot ceilings.  

    The overall look is sharp and clean, and I wonder if ivory and shimmering gold linens would be enough to stand out, or if something bolder would be in order.  I'd pair the desk with either an uphosltered side chair, or to keep our guest room feeling a bit more vacation-y, the chippendale dining chair in a black stain.

    The collection really is a beautiful one, and one I'd be happy to sleep in.

  • On Getting Better

    I’m fortunate to have a career I love. Lately, in evaluating my life goals- personal, relational, and business- I’ve found a fire ignited that has pushed me to give more each day in so many ways, and realize that my happiness in my professional life and my satisfaction in other areas is cyclical.

    I work with a company that’s built on simple, wholesome principals- Lead Differently, Teach Relentlessly, and Serve Passionately. Semonin’s core values are repeated in every meeting, printed on our in-house marketing materials, and splashed across awards. These three values are a motivation factor: each day, I wonder if I’m setting an example in and out of the office, if I’m educating my clients on how to best move forward in a transaction, if I’m really giving my all each time I write a note or pick up the phone. In speaking to my manager as well as some friends this week, I’ve noticed that these principals have begun to spill over into my personal life.

    If we’re lucky, we spend 40 hours or so working each week. If we’re luckier, we spend 55 hours or so sleeping. Factor in commute times, lunch breaks, and a couple of hours of overtime, and we are left with only 50 hours or so each week to ourselves. To assume that we don’t stay in “work mode” for a few of those 50 hours is just silly. Of course our work lives influence our personal lives! The goals we set, and the game face we wear at our nine-to-fives are going to influence our out-of-office selves as well.

    I worry, so often, when I see folks posting on social media about hating Mondays, counting the hours until the weekend. I hope, truly, that these people don’t hate their lives as much as it seems on their Instagram feed or their Facebook page. I remember, though, being stuck in a career at one point in my life, and feeling like Monday morning’s alarm was the end of my love for the week. It was a huge risk to switch careers- and especially to switch to a career that offered commission-only paychecks! Still, that risk was worth taking, and I found that each day that I apply our core values- Leading, Teaching, Serving- is more successful than the day before, and fuels a passion for being better in each area of my life.

    My hope for you, friends, is that you’re willing to give more of yourself, to be better in every way. My hope is that you wake up each day with goals in mind, whether small (I will make a homemade dinner tonight) or large (I will finally apply to grad school). My hope is that the happier you are in your career, the more you’re motivated to be more satisfied in your personal life, and the more pleased you are outside of the office each day, the more satisfied you’ll be when you sit at your desk or stand at your station. If that’s not possible, friends, I sincerely hope you have the bravery to take the risk. Make time to sit down with a career counsellor, your boss, your best friend, or your favorite elementary school teacher to discuss your goals in life, to work towards finding your passion, and to feed a desire for a better life, as if your livelihood depends on it.

    You can get to where you want to be, I promise. While going from a part-time retail worker to multimillionaire overnight may be a stretch, there are several resources available for career advancement and overall satisfaction in your job and in your life. Check out this article from Entreprenuer offering links on career, communications, technology, leadership and analytical advancement, this one on starting a new career from The Every Girl, and this article on the benefits of job satisfaction from the American Psychological Association.

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

    ** dress- Burberry, shoes- bcbgmaxazria, furnishings- Mitchell Gold Bob Williams, Bernhardt, etsy ** 

  • Geometric Wallpaper

    I've known, since we moved into our house three and a half years ago, that I wanted some sort of funky, geometric wallpaper to be put into the powder room in the basement.  With the Bellaire project getting closer to being finished (cabinets are going in today!), I've started to think a little more about the next big project: Our basement.  

    With our home's decor leaning a little more towards funky with the addition of contemporary light fixtures, sleek furniture, and our ever-growing modern art collection, I feel like I can be comfortable taking a few more risks in how we make these new spaces our own.  An option that can be feasable, easily removable (if done correctly), and can really pack a punch is wallpaper!

    ** Cole and Son Hicks Hexagon **

    ** Seabrook Quartz **

    I've been leaning hard towards the Hicks Hexagon print from Cole and Sons, but the teal option of Seabrook's. Quartz has been pulling my heartstrings as well.

    Of course, there are endless options.  Whether we decide on something bold, like the black and white Tile from Cole and Son, or go a little more subdued with the Anders from AllModern in green or gold, I know that something playful, that plays tricks on our eyes will make me happy in a tiny space like a powder room.

    Other great, but more traditonal options include the Watercolors Large Lattice pattern from York Wallpaper and the Optimum White and Duck Egg from Graham and Brown.  For those of you in temporary living situations like apartments or rentals (or your parents' guest house or basement), or those of you who are nervous about a "permanant" decorating change, Graham and Brown offers a line of removable wallpapers that you can check out here.

    ** Cole and Son Circus **

    If you have that itch to go bold.... Really Bold... check out Cole and Son's Circus Panels.  Talk about making a statement!!  Whatever you may choose with your wallcovering, don't be afraid to let your wants and your personality shine.

  • Sitting Down with Home Staging Specialists

    One of the biggest challenges I face as a Realtor is telling folks that they need to ready their home for the market. Whether its a small project like decluttering their kitchen counters and dresser tops, or a huge take-on like repainting everything and bringing in new furniture, no one likes having a person telling them that their house is anything less than perfect. This is where I'm happy to offer the services of a professional stager.

    Staging is such an important part of the home-selling process. How a home photographs can mean the difference in having a flood of viewings- and offers!- within the first few days on the market, or sitting without interest for weeks. Photos are the first thing a potential Buyer will see of their hopeful new residence… Why not make that first impression an incredible one?

    I’ve been fortunate in my career to meet the professionals who can take over where my expertise ends, allowing me to serve my clients with a team approach. From professional photographers, to professional stagers, I want to bring my Sellers a full gamut of resources. After all, when I’m hired to help sell a home, I’m handling one of the largest- if not the largest- asset someone owns. I need to make sure I’m servicing them to the best of my abilities. I sat down with friend, partner, and professional stager Jill Gaynor of Home Staging Specialists to gain a little perspective from her end of this process.

    How does the staging process work?  I know that I usually send you in as a consult in the beginning, if needed, but after that, I’m out of my expertise.  What happens after that initial meeting?  Staging is an important part of the selling process. When we come into a property, we don’t have the relationship you may have with your client. We come in with “Buyers Eyes” and make sometimes difficult recommendations on the condition of the property and what it will take to get a property ready to sell.  Staging is NOT about your personal taste, it’s about appealing to the new owner, having them see themselves in the new space.  After the assessment, we will write a report, summarizing our review, provide any vendors needed if necessary to complete the process and provide an estimate on what it would cost to stage a property.  In addition, as part of our services, if the client uses us to stage, we will also connect your MLS listing to all of our social media as well.  We are definitely a team-oriented firm and work closely with the client and the Realtor.  We stay in touch with you and the client until the property is close to closing.  We definitely believe "it takes a village” to get a property SOLD! 

    You’ve mentioned that one of the easiest ways to begin a home refresh is to declutter.  Do you have any favorite ways to organize and store in places like the basement, the closet, or the dreaded junk drawer? I am a big fan of a labeler.  When my kids were younger and learning to do some chores, I would label the shelves so they knew what size sheets went where without going through all of them to figure out.  In addition, I have baskets in my pantry that are labeled for medicine, dental- extra toothbrushes and floss you get from the dentist, napkins, etc.  I try to identify where things should go so when I had “helpers” they knew where to put things.  In regard to the junk drawer, I would say, at least once a year, stand there with a garbage can and toss/purge all of those miscellaneous items that you thought you needed but didn’t and/or forgot why you were saving a particular widget.

    Do you have clients who will call you to stage their home, even if they aren’t planning on listing? What are those projects like?  We have been very fortunate to develop great relationships with staging clients that have turned into design clients.  A little bit different school of thought:  Staging is getting a product ready to sell to GQ Public.  Design is making a house a home.  We have had several clients who liked what we did from a staging point and when they were moving into their new home, we would often go to help them place their furniture into their new home, recommend paint colors, source any new pieces they may need and help them develop a plan to be in their new home.

    Finally, I have to ask- is your home just perfect?  (Laughing) I can honestly say I have never been asked that question!  Of course I don’t think my house is perfect…it’s perfect for us with a large family, and, I will admit, every time I stage a property, I drive my husband a bit crazy with cleaning out some closet, garage, section of a basement, etc.  Since our children are mostly grown and gone, the dust has settled and I am in the process of doing some “updates”.  With 4 children and a constant revolving door of their friends, our Derby festivities, etc., (which we both love to have the company!), our home has been well loved and it’s time for a few updates since we built it 15 years ago.  We built our home to be functional as well as welcoming where no room was off limits.  As you know, a home is constant maintenance, and when our youngest finished playing field hockey and moved to college, it was time to do some updating.  Today it’s pretty quiet, but they still pass through now with their dogs, significant others, and friends from college.  We are always ready for whomever comes through our door and love every minute of it...

    Dear readers, when I invited Jill over to chat, I felt that momentary panic of wondering whether or not my home was up to her standards, so I know that it can be nerve-wracking to ask someone to come into your home and make suggestions on how to make it better. When I asked Jill if she was judging my surroundings as soon as she walked in, she said she was only “assessing.” Smart answer!

    GIVEAWAY ALERT!! I’m thrilled to have teamed up with Jill and her Louisville-based company, Home Staging Specialists, to offer an in-home consultation ($150 value) to one of my lucky readers. Whether you’re considering selling your home, or just want a professional to offer an opinion on streamlining or making things a little more cohesive, Jill’s opinion can prove invaluable! Beginning at noon EST today, Monday, August 7th, 2017 until 5pm EST Friday, August 18th, any reader in the Louisville Metro area can enter to win by emailing me at yoursmostsincerely@hotmail.com. One entry per day only. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email on August 18th. Good luck!

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

    ** this post was sponsored in part by Home Staging Specialists. all thoughts and opinions are my own **

  • Summer Dressing

    It’s hard- so hard!- to find a dress that can carry one through summer date nights. I’ll rephrase. It’s difficult to find a dress that can carry one through sweltering summer date nights in the Ohio Valley, where the humidity can creep upwards of 80% even on days it isn’t raining, and the heat index tops out at 110 near sundown. How is one supposed to find a flowy, beautiful dress that can fend off the dreaded underboob sweat and/or accommodate a garter-belt installed air conditioner?

    I’m a fan of maxi dresses. I always have been. When I saw this fun, feminine number on the Banana Republic website, I knew I needed to try it on before I made the plunge, and I’m glad I did!

    The graphic black and white pattern keeps the ruffled, off-shoulder sleeves from being too girly, and the length is perfect for this 5’2 girl once she puts on heels. While this version- the black and white- is sold out online, its cobalt blue twin and a knee-length red striped counterpart are both on sale now! Happy dressing!

    ** dress (similar), sandals, earrings **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken, this post is not sponsored in any way **

  • Late Night at Eight Bar

    As you well know, I love my little neighborhood in Chicago.  I've stayed at The Ambassador East (formerly Public Chicago- more on that later) on more occasions than I care to admit.  The atmosphere of the tiny bubble which comprises Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood is comfortable.  Trees line the street, Division separates the hood from the bustle of the Rush Street bar district, the lake twinkles just a few blocks away, and couples walk hand-in-hand to 11pm dinner at places like gorgeous steakhouse Maple and Ash, and it's sister spot, Eight Bar

    Saturday night, the man and I wandered down for a late dinner, and were pleased to see that tables outside were still full and the bar still had several patrons sipping on fun cocktails.  We settled into a cushy booth facing both the Cubs game and the Indians game playing over the bar, and pondered the menu.  

    I'd been craving a good martini for quite a while, so decided on the 8 Martini, and our server was happy to replace my olive with a lemon twist.  B leaned towards the Ward 8ish- a combination of Bourbon, vanilla OJ, and Mezcal Grenadine.  My matini was perfect- the herb vermouth lended something extra to the flavor, and I had to tap out after two refills...  They were just that good.

    We split onion rings as an appetizer, but leaned hard towards the crispy artichokes.  Someone in our house always has to try the steak frites (medium rare), and he said that this version was as good as any.  Piled high on his plate was a mountain of fries, and the steak- pre-cut- came along with bordelaise and garlic confit.  Two people could have easily shared.  

    Speaking of sharing, I ordered the fried chicken, which our server politely informed me would arrive in a bucket.  I thought he was joking...  he was not!  My bucket of chicken had a bottle of housemade hot sauce as well as a jar of pepper honey inside.  The chicken was SUPER crispy, and reminded me of the fried chicken my grandma used to make where she would crush up saltines to use in the breading.  The man wasn't a fan- said that the honey was necessary to enjoy the flavor.  I disagree.  The crunchy skin combined with a super juicy meat was incredible.  The honey was a nice addidtion, and they weren't stingy on serving size- half a chicken cut into 4 pieces went home in my belly that night. 

    Friends, if you're in the Chicago area, I encourage you to try Eight Bar.  The patio was breezy and fun, while the bar inside was dimly lit and romantic.  There are still a few items I'd like to try, but I'll happily return again for that chicken any time. 

    ** this post is not sponsored in any way **

    ** all photos taken from Eight Bar's Instagram **

  • NEW LISTING! 6708 Brighton Springs Lane

    Cute brick ranch in conveinently located Brighton Springs! Three bedrooms and two baths couple with a vaulted family room (with fireplace), and a large, open eat-in kitchen to allow plently of space for a single, couple, or family to spread out and relax. In the basement, over 1,200 square feet of additional space is ready and waiting for a new owner to finish- a full bath has already been roughed in.

    With easy access to Bardstown Road and the Gene Snyder, this house really does have it all, and will not last long! Offered at $209,500.

    Brought to you by Joyce Duncan of Semonin Realtors.

    For more information, click here.

  • Bellaire Update

    Oh, friends, I’m so happy to report that we are moving along at a nice rate at the Bellaire house. In the last week, my contractor has completed all of the drywall work, all of our kitchen can lights have been installed, and the old, icky bathroom vanity, lights and mirror have come out, and the large walk-in closet in the bedroom has been wired and plumbed for a washer and dryer.

    And…. I’ve decided on paint!

    I love the thought of light and bright for the majority of the house. This will be vacation home, after all, and should look like one- airy, even though it’s gonna be dramatic and moody. The walls throughout will be Sherwin Williams’ Spare White, a slightly cloudy, lightly silvery white. All of the trim, as well as the fireplace will be painted in semi-gloss Extra White. My neighbor’s entire home is done in Extra White, and its just so clean and perfect.

    The bathroom is going to reflect the dark, gray-brown of the kitchen cabinets, courtesy of a gorgeous shade called Urbane Bronze. I cannot wait to see my new sconces against these walls! The sample sizes from Sherwin Williams are a full quart, so I was able to get an excellent idea of what these shades will look like in morning or afternoon light throughout the house.

    As soon as the walls are painted and the lights are in, I’ll have more updates for you, and I’m so looking forward to them!

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

    ** this post is not sponsored in any way **