Moving on up: Starter Stories with Urban Compass

There has been unbelievable amounts of boxes, stress and excitement around here lately. With both Mollie and me building homes from the bottom up, you can imagine where the above mentioned things come in to play. For me, building a house has always been the “dream”. So when the opportunity arose, I jumped head first. Both houses sold much quicker than anticipated and since we both went out on a whim and just decided one day to list our homes, we were left with short time find new homes, while in the meantime bunking with the in-laws. Yikes! I still can’t believe it all happened so fast but I couldn’t be more happy.

With the whirlwind of moving finally coming to an end, I thought I would share the before and after photos of our first home together. Me doing so could not have come at a better time, as I was inspired by Urban Compass to share my story. Urban Compass has a new project they’ve got going on called Starter Stories. If you haven’t already heard about them-Urban Compass helps NY folks find great neighborhoods and places to live in New York City.

So without further ado……..


AmandaThis home was such a labor of love. Steve’s previous home was a tiny three bedroom in a pretty scary part of town. So when we saw this monster of a home while on the hunt, we were thrilled. It was in a great neighborhood and had loads of space.

We bought the house on a short sale, so naturally we got a killer deal. But like most short sales, the house was anything but move-in-ready. Yikes, again! The house was covered in head-to-toe yellow paint, green linoleum and a lot of dirt. It was, to put it  plainly, outdated and dingy. But with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we made that house a home. A home that will forever hold a piece of our hearts. So many memories…tear!

Amanda with Design Loves DetailAmanda with Design Loves DetailAmanda with Design Loves DetailAmanda with Design Loves DetailA brief description about the updates done to each room:

1. All flooring was ripped out and replaced. Tile in the baths, kitchen and entryways. Dark hardwoods were laid in the living room, family room and stairs.

2. The railings were all refinished with a fresh coat of white paint. This was one of my favorite transformations but boy was it the hardest. During this HUGE undertaking, I came down with the flu on top of having an intestinal virus. TMI- right?!  And if that wasn’t enough, we took on this project right before listing our home, so the project needed to be completed in a week. Not one of our founder memories.

3. The kitchen was refreshed by refinishing the cabinets with white paint, adding hardware, taking down the awful florescent light and replacing with cans.

4. New baseboards, fresh paint and new light fixtures in each room.

5. The master bath was a complete gut. New everything including adding a vanity and enlarging the shower.

6. The three-quarter bath aka the “library”  was also a total gut. New flooring, vanity with vessel sink and fixtures. Instead of painstakingly removing the lovely wallpaper, we chose to cover it up with bead-board for a cleaner look.

Urban Compass Feature Master Bedroom Redo
Urban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaUrban Compass Feature of AmandaStay tuned for some BIG things coming up with both of our new houses! I think you’ll love them as much as we do!

A big thank you to Kellyn of Urban Compass for allowing me to share my Starter Story!


DeniseJanuary 21, 2015 - 10:15 am

Nice work! You completely transformed that house, no wonder it sold in the blink of an eye!

Our Woodland Playroom: Room of the Day on Houzz!

Cutest Woodland Playroom. Design by Mollie Openshaw of I love the mushroom seats & tree with chalkboard. So cool.Most amazing woodland playroom! Designed by Mollie Openshaw of the guru of creative kidsOne of the most fun spaces to create was this woodland playroom! Just a few weeks ago I was contacted by a Houzz editor to be interviewed about this space because they wanted to share it as the Room of the Day. Pretty exciting stuff. Do you guys use the Houzz app? Hopefully! I just love it. It’s the most used app I own, in fact. Check out the article & let us know what you think. Also, make sure you follow us on Houzz to keep up to date on the latest projects– we’ll have lots of new ones coming too with the new houses almost finished! Happy Tuesday, everyone.

images by Aria Photography





KelsiDecember 9, 2014 - 3:39 pm

That is so cool!

GLoria JenningsDecember 11, 2014 - 3:04 pm

Most amazing kids room I have ever seen!!! Congrats to you on this feature.

Holiday Decor Finds at Trolley Square

Silver, White & Emerald Christmas Inspiration from Click for product links to our favorite holiday decor picks!

Just this past week I spent an evening at Trolley Square enjoying the atmosphere, great food & amazing shops. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, especially around Christmas time! I picked up a lot of great gifts and couldn’t resist planning new additions to my Christmas decor. If you remember my Holiday Home Tour from last year, you know how I feel about Emerald Green! Below are links to the items above that all come from Trolley Square shops. And stay tuned for an upcoming gift guide I’ll share with my other favorite fashion & gift finds from my night on the town! In the meantime, get to decking those halls. Can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week!

Top Left: POTTERY BARN Candle Holders & Mercury Glass Trees

Top Middle: POTTERY BARN Avalon Pendant Light

Top Right: POTTERY BARN KIDS Glitter Trees

Bottom Left: WILLIAMS-SONOMA Jacquard TowelGuest Towel

Bottom Middle: POTTERY BARN Pillow Cover

Bottom Right: WILLIAMS-SONOMA Bay Leaf Wreath


RachaelNovember 24, 2014 - 9:49 am

I love this! And your holiday decor post from last year was amazing. Crushing on this simple color scheme!!!!

natalie andersenNovember 25, 2014 - 1:15 pm

So cute!

Gloria JenningsDecember 11, 2014 - 3:06 pm

What a great collection!!!

Holiday Decorating Services

Holiday Home Decorating Info

You know those images; the ones of a beautifully decorated holiday-home that look like they’re straight from a made-for-TV movie? The ones we’ve oooo’d and aww’d over? Well with our help, you too can have that in your own home! Whether its earthy and clean or classic and traditional, we can bring new life to your holiday decor. Imagine fresh garlands and heavenly smells; yes smells!

Simply email us at for pricing and details. Our services include everything from detailed design boards with fresh ideas, to personalized shopping trips and full design execution. This is also great for those holiday parties! Beautifully designed tablescapes that are sure to make a big impression!

We can’t wait to start working with you!


Vendors we {LOVE}: Hillary Butler Fine Art

I’ve finally made it. I’m finally made it to the point where I feel like a true grown-up! Today, I purchased my first piece of artwork. Not just a reprint from a decor store but an actual commissioned, custom piece. I have searched high and low for that one image that spoke to me and would be a statement piece above my new mantle. Let me tell ya, it was not an easy feat. I didn’t want traditional artwork of flowers in vases or a cliche piece by a super famous painter. Just not my style. After searching high and low, both locally and on the web, I stumbled upon my new artwork by happenstance while browsing Instagram. That’s when I found Hillary Butler Fine Art. When I saw her paintings I fell head-over-heels in love. Her use of color, shading and the overall look of her work is just breathtaking!

I purchased a piece she called “When I was Young”. It spoke to my soul. Truly! I can not wait to share it with you all perched atop my mantle in all its colorful, wondrous beauty. In the meantime, Hillary has graciously shared some of her story with us today and we could not be more excited! So without further ado……..I give you Hillary Butler……….


Q: How did you get started as an artist?

I have always been an artist, ever since I was a kid, I was always doing something creative. It just took me a while to find that artist in there and figure out where to take it professionally. I would like to describe my journey to being a full time artist as a family circus drawing of the kid traveling all over the neighborhood to feed the dog in the corner of his own yard. It was always right there in front of me, but I had to take the long way to embrace it.  I remember having inspiration collages with magazine cutouts plastered on my walls as far back as jr high. Art class was my jam, but it wasn’t until I took portrait lessons later in high school that I thought I could do something with art. I entered college as an art major, but at the ripe, wise, age of 19, decided that being covered in charcoal  was not the life for me (now, I love it!). I graduated with an English degree, taught English, went back for a graphic design degree, worked an office job for 5 years, and then the light bulb went off. I was happiest when painting, so I left the 9-5 world to pursue art full time and haven’t looked back. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your painting style and why you design with the materials you do?
I would describe my style as abstract representational. It’s evolved over the last few years and I’ve been thrilled with the direction it’s gone. I work  in oil on canvas. I use canvas because it’s how I was trained and they make beautiful presentations, although I’m about to release a new series on paper at the end of this month! Oil is my favorite paint medium because I really enjoy the way the paint flows on the canvas and that it takes a while to dry so I have time to work out any kinks in a painting before it dries. And the smell of oil paint and turpentine is energizing for me. I feel like a real artist when I use it.     

Sway.soloHilary Butler Fine Art Abstract Oil Paintings on Design Loves Detail02

Q: Do you offer custom paintings?
I do! Most of the work that I do is custom. I work with clients colors to create the perfect piece for their space. I also offer this really great feature where I mock up paintings on a client’s wall to scale so they see exactly what their piece will look like before they buy it. It’s so amazing and stress- free. People love it! 

Q: What can you be found doing in your spare time?
You can find me snooping out new places to hang out in Memphis, amusing myself by making cocktails to pair with paintings,  scheming up an excuse  to have a dinner party, and spending time with my husband David and dog Penny. I’ve been on a yoga kick lately. We’re a pretty chill bunch.

oceans14Hilary Butler Fine Art Abstract Oil Paintings on Design Loves Detail-

I am super excited to share with you all her new “Oil on Paper” series. These are great options if you are looking for a custom piece on a budget! I think I need to pick some up for my office.

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Check out more of Hillary’s work on her website or any one of her social media outlets below:


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HeidiSeptember 10, 2014 - 4:57 pm

I love this art!! It is so lovely!! Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful find!!