Rachel Awtrey

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Minimalist Frames for Any Home
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About a month ago, Thomas built us the most fun shiplap wall and we’ve been looking 👀 alllllll over for the “final touch.” These floating frames from @highlandhardware are the most fun and I’m giving you the closeup in my stories right now. ✨
What’s your favorite thing to decorate with? House plants? 🌿 Frames? Decorative pillows?

These "Suck" - Your Top Hand Vacuum Recomendations
 
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Thomas and I are looking for a hand vacuum to use in our home to pick up all of the little Remi hair’s around the house. The other day on Instagram, I asked you all your recommendations for Hand Vacuums and I got those and lots more! So, I figured I’d share with you what all I got!

P.S. Thomas and I have (and use everyday) the iRobot and recommend it all the time! We just want a hand vacuum to use in little corners, knick knack spots and to vacuum the car when needed!

My Fall Decor Picks

Now that it finally feels like Fall around here in Birmingham Alabama, I’m finally bringing out the pumpkin decor, lighting my scented candles and making all of the spiced baked goods.

I’m decorating corners of my house to show off this fun Autumn season to all of the friends and guests I host! To be honest, I wasn’t super impressed with a lot of the options this year but I did find a few golden nuggets so I figured I’d share them with you!

 
California Tree House Home Tour

If you’ve been following our journey for a while then you know that Thomas and I live in Northern California in the summertime (April through august) and Birmingham, AL during the other seasons. Thomas’s current job takes us out there while he works and helps operate a guest ranch - so we get to call a cozy little cottage “home” a few months out of every year.

Just because we only live there for a few months doesn’t stop us from making it a place to rest, retreat and host our friends. This summer was my favorite version of our “home” yet so I  thought to share it with you all.

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When we arrived, our kitchen cabinets were wood, and because our house sits back in the forrest, it tends to be pretty dark and lacking natural light. To lighten up our home, we decided to paint the cabinets white and add faux subway tile to the walls and it made all the difference. The details of our French oven/stove, the French country cookbook and more made it the perfect space to greet friends, make cookies and frozen pizzas, and enjoy the morning light.

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The living space was tons of fun. We had countless movie nights, Bachelorette premieres, gathering of friends and afternoon naps. We added our favorite pieces from Carolyn Johnson Art and an inexpensive brass mirror to the wall behind the sofa. This coffee table is perfect for the minimal look while also being functional our Cord and Cotton rug added the color we needed to lighten up the space.

Right behind the living space was a tiny room that we used for guests. We had a friend visit us from the west coast, my mother and sister in law and my mom so we kept the room full!

The wooden accent wall was the perfect touch for a “treehouse in the woods” and the other wall was decorated with our favorite posters from Magnolia Homes.


 
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Our bedroom was the lightest, brightest and biggest room of the house and we loved that! We kept the bedding light with accenting with our Cord and Cotton rug, again. The walls were covered with windows and invited all of the light in every morning. This was Remi’s favorite room, too! We added greenery with this faux fiddle leaf fig tree potted in this basket from The Basket Room, we loved the colors and the size! At first we used it for our cycling gear/storage and loved how it hid what we needed to be accessible in the most precious way.

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This home was cute, quaint and stuck in the middle of the forrest with trees surrounding it and the sound of a creek not too far away! We miss it so much and the memories made there but will treasure the ones we make and create back here in Birmingham.

Easter + Spring Decor You'll Love
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I'm all for Easter - the reason for the season, the fancy dresses and spring cocktails, the fresh blooms, the deviled eggs, the tulips. I love it all (minus the pollen). Thankfully, I've gotten a bit of a head start this year and with a little less than a month until Easter, I'm gathering my supplies to make it colorful and memorable.

Whether you're planning on making it a low-key Easter or hosting your whole family for an after-church brunch, these finds from some of my favorite stores will spruce up anything you're planning. All you have to do is click what you're eying and it will take you to the site to shop!

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Colorful Breakfast for Slow + Rushed Mornings
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Early mornings are my thing. I love a good morning where you have time to wake up, eat what you want, prep yourself for the day before the chaos starts. This breakfast is for those type of mornings (plus, it's very colorful and great for energy + power).

What's plated?

Blueberries

"Leftover Scramble"
2 Eggs
Baked Chicken
Goat Cheese
Spinach
Sriracha Sauce

Orange Juice

Coffee


SHOP THE PICTURE


How to: Stock A Bar Cart

Stocking our bar cart was one of my favorite "move-in" projects because it has potential to be so inviting, it fills my craving for organization and design and it makes wine nights super fun and easy for the girls or me and my husband. 

We've been on the hunt for a great bar cart for several months and Santa got us one for Christmas from Target! It has the wooden texture mixed with rose gold/copper -- matches our kitchen/dining room aesthetic perfectly. 

There are a few "must haves" when it comes to decorating a bar cart and this is what made mine juuuuust right for our space. 

1. Flowers + a fun vase

I normally always stick with eucalyptus. It's clean looking, fresh and loopy and adds a whimsical feel to something that tends to be a little more structured. For the vase, I used a white ceramic pitcher from Williams Sonoma and it was exactly what the eucalyptus needed. It's a curvy pitcher that adds some movement and curves to the linear design. Because it's not a traditional "vase" it adds some fun flavor to the overall idea.

2. Fruit/something edible

I love macaroons and love to keep those on my bar cart to pair when I occasionally sip some Rosé. Let's be honest, that never happens. When I do have macaroons on the bar cart they don't stay long...

Instead, I keep lemons, limes or oranges to add a pop of color and citrus. I put a handful of them in a martini glass. 

3. Glasses + rack

Our bar cart didn't come with a glass rack so we bought one from Bed Bath and Beyond and it holds 9 glasses. Thomas installed it underneath the top shelf of the bar cart and it's easy access to glasses when you want to pour a quick drink. 

4. Wine bottles

There are some funky fun decorated wine bottles that better be displayed. They add some fun color and style to the bar cart -- make sure to have those flaunted, out and about. 

5. Mixers

Gin and tonic is a great drink that a lot of people use as their "go to" so we like to have sparkling water available to our guests. Coke and run is another that's highly demanded so keeping cute glass bottles of coke or Perrier sparkling water is a great idea.

 

6. Colored serving wear

Along with the fruit, you'll want another fun pop of color. For me, it's always going to be copper or rose gold. We have a few Moscow Mule glasses that we paired with some corks and cheese knives and bottle openers, all the accessories we have are are copper. It's an obsession. 

7. Mixing Equipment

If you're going to use your bar cart to host, you've got to have your mixing utensils: a shaker, strainer, stirrers, etc. Make sure that's at easy access (probably top shelf material).

8. Something personalized

Thomas and I received a few personalized wedding gifts -- one of our favorites was a cutting board with our anniversary date and our family's name. It adds a familial touch that makes something so fun also so special. 

9. A tray + something organizational

It helps to have all of these fun materials organized in a less overwhelming fashion. To have a few trays or fun tin boxes, something to help organize definitely makes your bar cart more pleasing to they eye.  We found an antique "Johnny Walker" tray in Columbia, South Carolina and use that holding our "miscellaneous" items. 

 

10. Alcohol, duh. 

We always have Johnny Walker, a few different other favorites and of course, they're top shelf material as well. 

It's always fun to display the fun so bar carts are a great way to decorate a wall, corner or space in your dining room/kitchen!


START STOCKING

Top 8 Etsy finds for your home

Etsy is so fun for many reasons. One of my favorites: they're all businesses with real people behind them with real stories. There's no corporate world, it's all craftsmen and women that want to better the lives of others through beautiful creation. When Thomas and I started adding intricate details to our home, the first place we wanted to look was Etsy for this reason. We wanted to support the families behind these stores. . These are a few of the favorites that we found that we love and are now in our home:

Copper Hexagonal Mirrors

We snagged these minimal yet traditional mirrors from a store called  Little Extras. They're easy to hang with any tack or nail and not heavy at all! They're hung by a rope and are thin enough that they sit close to the wall! We have them on a wall in-between two doors in our bedroom and it's great to reflect the light but simple enough that it doesn't take away from any art we may have in our bedroom. They're beautifully simple and could be added to a bathroom, guest bedroom or entry/hallway. 

Throw Pillows

Everyone needs a sweet throw pillow for their bed from Fiber & Fluff, whether it's patterned or has typography like these. Thomas and I would say that our style is very boho, farmhouse minimalist so when we came across these precious throw pillows we knew we had to have them. The typewriter font is the perfect addition to tie in all of the rustic details and hello - the actual words are so sweet. It's hard to have a bad day after waking up and putting these back on your bed. 

Bread Basket/Bag

These sweet linen baskets and bags are perfect to spruce up any pantry or counter. I throw my jams, sweet potatoes or onions inside the baskets and keep a fresh loaf of banana bread in the bread bag. They're soft and linen and make the perfect touch of simple decor to your space. They're made by the sweetest shop based out of Ukraine called, Linen Touch

Candle Stick Holder

A candlelit dinner makes every recipe-gone-wrong taste better. That's why I love this candle stick holder from Slinky Home. 1. It's copper. I love copper. 2. It sits lower, which most candlestick holders are positioned higher. This adds depth and contrast to the height of your candlesticks in an arrangement and helps your overall goal of design. It's great to add to any mantle, use as a centerpiece or have on your nightstand as an extra piece of decor. 

Rustic Wooden Lanterns

I have these rustic wooden lanterns at the entrance to our bedroom and they mark off the space beautifully. You could add these to your deep mantle, front porch or on the sides of your fireplace. So much fun to have with these from Molly's Marketplace. They're distressed (which is perfect for any farmhouse look) and the fact that they hold larger candles makes them so practical.

Euro Pillows

I'm sure there are a lot of variations of Euro pillows on Etsy. However, these come from the greatest shop with beautiful patterns and the inserts for the shams are the perfect weight for Euro pillows. I cannot rave about these Euro pillows enough.  I love to have 3 Euro pillows stacked on the back across a queen size bed. It's a must. Learned this from my new job at a home decor store - it must work. These Euro pillows from Olivia's Smile are the perfect density, soft but still firm. They're karate-chopable. And the best part, there's a hidden zipper in each pillow so it's easy to remove to wash or clean and then re-stuff the stuffer. There's no tacky buttons, outside zipper or velcro. Woohoo!

Hanging Fruit Basket

I'm so thankful I have this piece from Project Object Vintage. The 3-tier fruit hanging basket is great for kitchen organization that doubles as decor. It's collapsable incase you want to store it later. It hangs from the ceiling so it can hold weight as far as bananas, sweet potatoes and other fruits and veggies. We love the splash of color in the chain links! Project Object Vintage has plenty of fun vintage decor + clothing so I'd call them a "one stop shop."

Wooden Signs

These signs...so sweet. They're square wooden frames with white wood interior and quotes printed on the front in the typewriter font - matching our throw pillows! They're from a store called Rustic Branches. They have quotes based on love and marriage, Bible verses and lots of other quotes!

How To: Chalk Paint

If you're looking for something easy, inexpensive to hype up your favorite area, call chalk paint a "super hero." No sanding, no priming, no nothing. All you do is take a paint brush to your furniture, add as many coats until you're heart is content and wax it. That's it. 

They'll try and sell you the name brand chalk paint and wax with the name brand painting brush and name brand waxing brush but it's not needed. So, save yourself and your wallet. We bought the chalk paint from Home Depot and a regular thick bristled, shorter brush with the wax and lent-free cloths for waxing. We used styrofoam plates (left over from the move) and poured the paint, a little goes a long way. Put the paint brush in the paint and apply to the furniture. We used probably three coats per project. Feel free to use cotton swabs or any other tool to get into any crevices that your piece might have. 

If you accidentally spill paint or find splatters anywhere, it's a quick and easy clean up with a wet cloth and a little elbow grease. 

If you just can't get your top coat "perfect" try adding a small bit of water, mixing it together with the brush and applying it. It goes on more smoothly, it's more runny though so be careful. It takes care of any of the left over brush strokes. 

If there's any parts of the pieces that look a little worn, I embraced it because you are, in fact, painting with chalk paint which is normally used for the antique look. Do not distress until fter  applying rthe wax. Weird huh? You can apply distress using sandpaper and such. 

The wax should be a good thick coat to avoid any quick wear. However, if it's tacky feeling, you'll need to buff it because you used a little too much. As they say, "wax on, wax off."

Happy paining, friends!

xoxo

Our first actual home

All I'm saying is at the end of this year, we will be professional movers. Let me just explain these past few months. Thomas graduated at the beginning of May from the University of South Carolina. A week later we got married (!!!!) and honeymooned in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. When we came home from our honeymoon, we had 5 days to get everything together and moved out of our childhood homes, open wedding presents, stuff everything in a storage unit and pack for California.

"Woah" is right. 

Well, fast forward to now when the California season has come to an end (until next summer) and we are still moving people. Yet, this time, we moved back home to South Carolina so that I can finish my last semester at Clemson University (insert all of the funny-marriage-rival jokes here). Thomas is working from home for the Ranch until we move to Birmingham in January.

Yes, I said "move" again. 

Since we'll be in Clemson for only 5 months, we decided to go with a one bedroom, one bathroom "Tiny Home" cottage at a complex close to campus called, The Pier.

When they said "tiny home" they weren't kidding. We're so thankful to have spent this past summer in a camper so that we were conditioned to what we were getting ourselves into. It's small and quaint, sweet and accommodating to exactly what we need.

Your feet first walk through a circle of other tiny homes with a green lawn and a fire pit in the center on your way to our cottage which will make for epic block parties. Your feet then step up to a sage colored house with a dark red door and through it lays our home. 

Our kitchen, to the left, is my new favorite spot. A fridge with all the fresh veggies and Thomas's chocolate milk inside, with our copper ware perched on top, my new KitchenAid mixer that I can't wait to make and bake with all the greatest goodies (thank you wedding gifts), our programmable coffee maker that brews at exactly 8:30am every morning and our four eyed stove holding my teal tea kettle for a pop of color. There's a rug that sits right below the sink that I bought in Oregon last summer. It's colorful and bright and I love that it catches all of the suds, marinara sauce and dirt but never really stains. It's very loved. Storage has been an interesting issue, but our ceilings are so extended, there is a lofted space for all of our wicker baskets holding the hosting dishes and other fun stuff for when you come over for dinner.

All of our cookbooks are held in another copper wire basket with a customized cutting  board a dear friend gifted us with for our wedding. And what kitchen refrigerator isn't complete without a Rifle Paper Company calendar to keep your days straight? 

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Thomas designed and crafted the sweetest bistro table that fits just two for dinner and room for a few candles or maybe a jar/vase of a Trader Joe's bouquet. He built it super quickly and excellently and we're currently picking out a stain color so we can continue to use it in the future. 

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Right under the window across from the door sits our cream love seat accompanied by my favorite piece of furniture from my family's home my mom gave me to keep, a yellow, velvet ottoman. We converted it into a "coffee table" by adding a wooden tray complete with the letter "A."

The couch carries some of our favorite pieces, throw pillows from my mom, best friend and the teddy bear Thomas gave me when we dated in High School. (I just wasn't ready to let it go.)

The coffee table to the side is great! It has the best drawer and cabinet for storage for all of my textbooks for school and extra stuff. I guess you could call it our "junk" drawer. 

Lamp // Target

Throw pillows // Altr'd State

Copper Coasters // Anthropologie 

Side table // Ikea

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The door on the right is our bedroom. White walls, white linen duvet cover, white sheets, white lamps, calls for a pop of color so we added a few throw pillows for now until we crave something more. Above the bed is the same lofted storage as in the kitchen which means there are very high ceilings in our bedroom as well. Stay tuned, because I plan on refurbishing that dresser across from the bed with chalk paint, maybe grey (taking color ideas now), and adding a few of my favorite Anthropologie knobs. And yes, that closet is for us to share. #GodBless

Thomas and I recently bought these awesome throw pillows from Target. Do you understand how hard it is to create a bedroom that isn't too feminine or masculine? Geez. 

I created the "vow tapestry" for literally $10. I bought canvas fabric from Walmart and used a fabric paint pen to free hand calligraphy our vows onto the fabric. We hung it right above our dresser until we can find a mirror that is more suited for the space. 

Our dresser holds all of our favorite knick knacks: two copper tea light holders from Anthro, the ring box that once held my engagement ring, a favorite candle, and a chalk board for encouragement. All of our "dresser items" are held on a vintage Johnnie Walker Whiskey tin tray we found at an antique shop. 

The night stands also give us great storage for any books we want to keep on the shelf but give us extra room to hide junk in the drawers. 

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Dresser Lamp // Target

Copper Candle Holder // Anthropologie

Nightstand // Ikea

Nightstand Lamp // Marshalls

Pillows // Target

Knobs // Anthropologie

The door on the left is our bathroom + laundry room. This bright space is all thanks to the textured, white shower curtain and white walls. Behind the door is our washer/dryer. Not a washer and a dryer but a two-in-one. It's a European thing, I'll keep you posted on what this American thinks about it. 

Thomas mounted an organizer to hold our toiletries but also some eye candy. He's proud to have also picked out the his/hers towels, shameless plug. 

Mounted Storage // Walmart

Bath towels // Target

Hand towels // Anthropologie


 

Honestly, Thomas and I couldn't have asked for anything better. These hardwood floors will hold stomps and dance moves, these white walls will hold frame collages with memories, these grey doors will hold slams and "welcome homes!" I just can't wait for all the stories to come that came from this "first house."

My summer in a tiny home

We’re placed in Northern California this summer up in the mountains in an itty bitty town named Etna with the cutest breakfast spot, glorious sunsets, amazing locations for off days, and fields full of cattle that run as long as the eye can see and eventually meet the purple mountains majesty we’ve always sung about. 

Who wouldn’t want a newlywed adventure up in these secret spots? We asked for exactly that: an adventure. We received nothing short of one, that’s for sure. 

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The hectic days of Thomas running around checking on ropes courses, being able to gobble up a meal together so he can run back and check up again, pass by so quickly. And with working on a guest ranch, you’re also being hosted by the ranch. We eat our meals here, we take a four wheeler to work or, like we’ve begun recently, we walk.

There’s so many people to see, things to get done, books I want to read, but at the end of the day I look forward to our time to connect. 

Because of our desire for adventure + a place to connect, we took the opportunity to live this summer in a camper. A quaint, small  camper that we get to call “ours”. 

When it arrived, it got cleaned and handed over. Gosh, what a fun first home, right?

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I was just so happy that we got somewhere to ourselves. Thomas was just so happy to have a project, he loves to tinker. 

So here we are, a month in as “happy campers” (literally). We bought patterned contact paper and Thomas, the handyman, cut the edges to exact measurements to fit on our wall to replace the other wallpaper. We bought white canvas fabric and reupholstered the couches to make our home light and clean looking; “dreamy and creamy” as my friend Edith would say. Thomas picked out the perfect throw pillow and with a couple of organization tools, we’d say we fit in perfectly. Our lofted bed with the fluffy pillows and white thick duvet and linen duvet cover (that just was delivered!) complete the “home.” I’m recently grateful for the love of my life because he installed an AC unit-that tiny place turns into an oven after noon. It’s the small things that make it ours and I’ll never be more grateful for this “first home” we share together. 

Yes, living in a camper at a ranch is quite a change from the all inclusive resort honeymoon lifestyle but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A place I get to call mine with the man that’s mine forever is something that I can’t express in this brief blog post. “Home” is late nights playing card games at the table and getting in small tiffs over what rules are fair, it’s the early, cold mornings complimented with the smell of coffee brewing that fills the air quickly, or the cereal dates before the work day, the small squeaking hinges on the doors or the rattling wheels when we walk, the natural light coming from the right at dawn and the left at dusk, the scooting around each other so we can spit our toothpaste out in the sink. It’s lovely. It’s home. 

It’s not about the large house with spacious rooms with hardwood floors and high ceilings. Home is the people, not the place. It’s the feeling, not the location. 

Whether you’re in a camper, shack, apartment, cave, lake or beach house, what makes it “home” for you?

Photography // MaryGrace Baker