Life has been changing rapidly around here and a whole lot of big things have been happening so I figured that I owed you all an explanation. Disclaimer: This might get a bit wordy.

When I started this blog almost 2 years ago, I thought of it as just a hobby. I loved working on our house and sharing that with whoever cared (or pretended to care) and it was a great way to keep friends and family up-to-date with our projects and our life in general. I’ve treated it as a hobby and sort of my creative outlet ever since, using it as a way to express myself when I felt creatively stifled or felt the urge to share projects that I was particularly proud of. With everything else going on in my life, it has always felt like this one little corner of the internet where I could do whatever the heck I wanted. You see, Interior Design is my true passion and sharing little bits of that with whoever wants to listen is so very rewarding, so for me, it was a no-brainer.

new adventures & Havenly

Kitchen Store Design Rendering by Maggie Smoller

In regards to the aforementioned “everything else going on in my life”, what some of you may not know about me is that I have spent that last few years receiving my formal education in the field of Interior Design. While working full-time in childcare, I’ve slowly but surely earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design. In fact, just a few days ago I officially graduated! If you could be inside my head for a moment as I type that sentence, it would sound like the front row of a Hanson concert in the 90’s. (Wait, does that date me? Should I have just said One Direction? Or even The Jonas Brothers for goodness sake?! I just can’t shake the 90’s…)

But anyway, it’s something that I am overwhelmingly excited about and proud of and something that I thought appropriate to share with all of you that have been on this journey with me so far. I knew from a young age that this was what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be and I was lucky enough to have a mother who let me completely design my childhood bedroom and facilitated my desire to be creative within my own space. From that moment on, I was hooked. Thanks, mom.

new adventures & Havenly

Family Shelter Design Rendering by Maggie Smoller

This creative field is a tricky one sometimes. You see, some people make a great living as a decorator and have very successful careers without any formal training at all, which I think is great! A lot of us just naturally have the eye or a knack for design that can’t really be taught, which really is a gift. But for me, for what I wanted, it was important to get that formal education in all aspects of the field (from color theory to construction, and software systems to hand rendering skills, and everything in between) and to one day be able to call myself an Interior Designer. So, that’s exactly what I did.

a new adventure & Havenly

Living Room Design Rendering by Maggie Smoller

Now that I enter the professional world of Interior Design, I plan to continue to use this blog as my creative space and as an avenue to share my projects with all of you and also as a sort of interactive portfolio as I dive into the professional world of Interior Design. Which brings me to my next (and final…if you’re still reading, gold star for you!) point, a new adventure that I’m so excited about!

a new adventure & havenly

Restaurant Dining Room Rendering by Maggie Smoller

I’ve been hired as an Interior Designer at Havenly, an amazing company that makes Interior Design accessible to everyone on every budget. With this awesome service, you’ll be matched with professional designers based on your style preferences to create beautifully designed spaces of your own within your budget. It’s such a cool concept and you have to check it out!

So many exciting things are happening around here and I can’t wait to share all of them with you! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for mini updates along the way. I have some projects in the works around our house so stay tuned for those in the next few weeks! As always, I truly appreciate you taking the time out of your day to pay any attention at all to my ramblings and, in the words of the ever so wise Daniel Tosh, for that, I thank you.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!




Hey strangers! Long time no see! Hmm…I feel like this is how every post starts out these days.

It’s been a wild couple of months since I last checked in and amidst all of the craziness and non-stop schedules, I finally got a chunk of time to check in with some exterior updates part II! I realized today that is has been exactly ONE YEAR since we closed on this house and all of the projects began. Somehow it ended up feeling like the longest year and the fastest year all at once. How does that happen?! In celebration of our one year “House-iversary” I figured it was only fitting to update you on how things are looking…at least on the outside.

Last time in our Exterior Updates Part I, she looked a little bit like this…

exterior updatesLooking pretty good but definitely feeling a little naked. It’s like getting all dressed up for hot date and then realizing you forgot to put on pants. While your date might be thrilled…something is definitely missing.

We knew we would tackle the front landscaping at some point but just weren’t sure when. When I noticed a 50% off sale at The Home Depot and some major markdowns on evergreens, I knew the time was right. I wanted some sort of evergreen in front of the house that would look good all year round and also wanted something tall to cover up the utilities that are unfortunately on the front of the house.

We ended up choosing a couple tall arborvitae trees to flank the sides (and eventually hide those ugly utilities) and a couple small boxwoods on either side of the door. For a little pop of color, we planted some Russian Sage underneath the windows on the far side of the house. We started small to save on cost and allow things to fill in over time but I’m really excited about how things are looking.

Before I let you see where we are now, let me remind you where we started a year ago…

exterior updates part II

It’s pictures like this that I struggle to remember WHY WHY WHY we bought the house in the first place!

But it’s pictures like THIS that make me feel a whole like better…

exterior updates part IIThe tall arborvitae make it feel a bit more distinguished and, as they grow, I think they’ll make a really nice statement. The boxwoods, albeit tiny right now, will fill in nicely with time. Patience is a virtue they tell me.

exterior updates part IIIn case you hadn’t already noticed, I also decided to paint the previously red siding a nice warm gray and it has really helped to brighten up the exterior and I’m diggin’ it.

With all of these little changes, things are just feeling SO. MUCH. BETTER. I find myself staring in the rear-view mirror every time I drive away and smiling inside (and outside) every time I get home, and when it all comes down to it, no matter what your house looks like, that’s what home should feel like.

It’s been a great first year and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next one! In celebration of our House-iversary, click here to check out the projects we’ve worked on over the last year & follow me on Instagram for mini updates in between posts!


With the arrival of Spring, we’ve taken a little bit of time to update the exterior of our house with just a few easy and inexpensive fixes. PS…those are my favorite kind of fixes. That’s the beauty of so many DIY projects – leftover materials!

When we bought our house almost a year ago (boy, that went fast!) it looked like this…

Exterior updatesShe’ always been a cutie, and I knew there was even more potential there, but there was a bit left to be desired, to say the least. Things felt a little dark and dingy and we finally got around to paying attention to the outside with some much needed exterior updates. The planning of the Birthday Carnival, and knowing we’d have a yard full of party goers, was just motivation we needed to get to work.

Here’s how she’s looking right now…

exterior updates

So, here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve done so far…

Quickly after we moved in, we removed the storm door on the front of the house. It was old and it bad shape and I knew it wouldn’t be put to use so off it came in order to expose the existing door. Looking through my photo archives, I don’t even have a close up shot of the screen door, an indication of just how quickly it came down.

exterior updates

We replaced the old light with a spare we had from our old house (although that one will be swapped out eventually too), hit everything with the power washer, and gave the door and surround a much needed coat of paint. Those little changes had everything looking immediately better and the contrast with the black door gives the front of the house a little extra oomph that I think makes a huge difference.

The stone door surround, something I originally hated, is now one of my favorite parts of the entry. Go figure.

The front step is abnormally high (I’m always reminding guests to watch their step in fear of a broken ankle…) so we have plans to add a front stoop eventually, but for now, it’s a huge improvement.

We also started tackling the side porch. Here’s what it looked like before we moved in…

exterior updates

And here’s how it’s looking right now…

exterior updates

Better, right? So far we have trimmed back the Roses of Sharon along the side of the house, painted the formerly red railings white, added a couple of hanging ferns and a few strands of lights along the ceiling and now things are feeling much more fresh and clean.

I’d love to DIY a long, skinny picnic table and a pair of benches for some outdoor dining at  some point and also give the concrete slab a new finish once this humidity dies down. So there’s still a bit more to be done over there.

Another little change that made a HUGE difference was ripping out the old and broken walkway and replacing it with stepping stones that matched the original pathway leading to the front door.

exterior updates

In this before shot from when we replaced the old, wonky mailbox, you can see the sad shape of the front pathway leading to the side porch. We always loved the little stones leading to the front door, and when I found stones that matched almost perfectly, we knew what we had to do.

exterior updates

Now, the front of the house has double the charm and looks much more neat and tidy overall and, let me tell you, I’m diggin’ it.

The final and possibly biggest change we’ve made to the exterior so far would be giving all of the outdoor plants and trees a big ol’ haircut.

We pruned all the dead branches off of the massive pine trees, ripped out all of the old, dead bushes along the front elevation (which had clearly never been maintained), and edged a crisp line along the house to freshen things up. I’m not sure that we’ll tackle any major planting this year but hopefully by this time next year, we’ll have some updated landscaping to come home to.

exterior updates

It has been so rewarding to spruce up the exterior so far and with just a little elbow grease, things are looking a whole lot better around here.

Has the warm weather had you making any exterior updates around your house lately?


I know things have been pretty quiet around here lately, and for that, I apologize. I’ve taken on a few more responsibilities over that last few weeks and unfortunately haven’t had the time to do a whole lot around the house let alone write about it. However, I finally have a day off to share a little bit of what has been going on around here, specifically about a carnival themed birthday party that we threw for our boy!

I threw together a quick flyer/invitation in Photoshop, slipped it in some mailboxes around the neighborhood and got this party started.

a carnival themed birthday party

I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to birthday parties but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Sorry, not sorry. Remember our robot party last year?

This year, the little big man and I (is it just me or does 8 officially sound like big kid status?!) decided to capitalize on his love of running stations and organization and plan a front yard carnival for the whole neighborhood.

a carnival themed birthday party

The whole party was thrown together with dollar store purchases and crafts made with objects from around the house. Cheap, easy and fun. It was fun, relaxed, and ended up being the perfect party for a pretty perfect boy.

A carnival themed birthday party

We set up a few simple stations labeled with poster board signs for party guests to visit and “prizes” as party favors to hand out at the end of the day. I found these adorable paper popcorn bags at Sam’s club (500 for under $7…say what!?) that I used for the favor bags, a cute little play on the carnival theme.

a carnival themed birthday party

We used some plywood scraps we had leftover from old projects to build a couple simple party games like this Balloon Darts board and the Ping Pong Toss game…

a carnival themed birthday party

You may have noticed that I hinted at this one on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. I simply super glued a bunch of red solo cups on a scrap piece of plywood that I painted. Piece of cake…and it was a hit.

We peppered in a few other yard games for everyone to play and handed out tickets for each station just for fun. Our neighbor, who also happens to be a pretty accomplished juggler (who knew!?), even offered to step things up a notch with a little juggling performance.

I realized I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the food table once it was all set up (that always seems to happen) but we set up the side porch with food and drinks serving mostly sweets and treats…it was a carnival after all ;)

a carnival themed birthday party

Complete with little tubs of cotton candy for everyone that I found at Sam’s…

a carnival themed birthday party

Overall, it was a blast and according to the birthday boy, our best party yet. We were blessed with a gorgeous day (thank goodness, because this girl didn’t have a plan B), tons of fun, and a day full of family and friends. Does it get any better than that? Best of all, we got to celebrate 8 years with the coolest, smartest, funniest kid around.

Have you thrown any fun themed parties lately?

I’ll be back tomorrow with a few exterior updates we’ve made so far.