Tulsa Love: Retro Den Homestyling, Part 3

It’s been a while since I posted a home update.  Early in 2017, I hired the Ashleys of Retro Den to come in and help me perk up my living room.  If you need a refresher, check the before pictures and story here and check my first session of homework here.  I cringed a little bit looking back at some of those before pictures while crafting this blog post.  I love my update so much, I’d completely blacked out how bad the before was.

Couch Considerations

After I painted the fireplace and took the map off the hook, my next biggest task was picking out furniture.  I really wanted a tufted, beige and big couch.  Also with nailhead trim.  Like this one.

I was pretty set on that style.  And was working hard to get the almost $800 it would take to get that couch through my front door (delivery and assembly fees are nuts!).  The Ashleys were very patient with me, and offered up many additional suggestions via text and Pinterest for me to consider.   A considerable amount of time went into the discussions about this couch purchase.  Here are a few key points the Ashleys made to me (gently, I didn’t feel pressured or upset at these at all):

  1. Sprenk, you have a black-haired dog and want a fancy beige-ish couch.  We love Miley (and you) but know that she is not trained to stay off the furniture because you love her too much.
  2. Do you want the couch and beautiful coffee table from our store to be the only pieces of furniture in your room?  Because your budget is flat gone if you purchase this couch.  No rug.  No plants.  No gallery wall.
  3. Your Pinterest board tells us you really want something a little more simple than this couch you’re attracted to.  What about this one?  Let your table be the star of the show.

That Ikea couch was ordered later that night.  And after a morning of self-assembling, I had a place to sit!  (Had been couchless a few weeks while I made up my mind).



Coming together!

My living room was arranged this way for a week or so while we sorted out what kind of rug I should get.  The Ashleys recommended (and again were spot on) a jute rug.  I found one on sale at Overstock.com and ordered it!

Between the couch, rug and a few key plants scattered around the room, my budget was about spent.  I am so happy I decided to forego the fancy couch for a complete feel in this room.  We started to browse for two arm chairs that could go opposite the couch when fate stepped in.

My new roommate Michelle (the same one who convinced me to run the marathon this year) has amazingly complementary taste to mine and her couch and chair just polished off the look.  So, I’m home free for a while until I find the perfect set of chairs for my space.

I refuse to put any of the before pictures on this page because they are so horrible.  You can go back to one of the original posts to see them, or read about this project from the Ashleys point of view on their blog.

Up next for this room is the gallery wall project that’s taken a few months for my slow moving hiney to get together.  Another perk about the Ashelys is they let you take your time doing your homework :).  If you haven’t hired them yet to style a space in your home, what are you waiting for?



Tulsa Love, Retro Den Homestyling (update!)



Last time I wrote about my Retro Den Ashelys, they had left me with some serious homework.

  1. Paint the Fireplace
  2. Order a couch
  3. Buy some greenery

I decided to tackle the fireplace first.  It seemed a relatively simple task, one that I could handle on my own and reap immediate benefits in terms of feeling like the room was continuing its transformation.  The girls were very helpful over text, informing me what kind of paint to buy, and giving a little direction on the color.  Semi-gloss, soft white but not white white.  

I browsed the whites a bit at Home Depot.  Who knew there were so many shades of white?  I’m not one to get too hung up on decisions like this.  If I bought the wrong white, I figured I would just get more and repaint it.  Once I was satisfied that my Eggshell white was the right shade, I had the ladies behind the counter mix up a small can of it.  I also bought one of the painter’s kits that comes with rollers, brushes and a paint tray.  All set.


This stop had been the last of a few errands I ran that evening.  I had been to the grocery store and one other place I can’t remember right now – all that to say, I had more than one bag I was carrying inside.  Both because of my several stops, and also because I’m a one-trip-in-from-the-car kind of gal.

I also had an extra dog staying with me because Chap was out of town.  These two things combined into one very messy start of this project.  I was walking into the house, 42 bags in each hand, determined to make it to the kitchen table with them all.  I’m certain I could have, if not for the two rowdy, hungry and easily excitable dogs running around my feet.  I set my left hand’s load down on the kitchen table, and the right on a kitchen chair.  I managed to do it in just the right place that as soon as I let go, the bag with the can of paint in it fell to the floor.  The lid came off.  White (but not white white) paint started slowly spreading across the hardwood floor.


Clean it up before it dries.

Grab towels.

Then mop.

Corral the dogs.

That was my basic train of thought as the white pool slowly expanded away from the chair.  I decided before mopping, I should wipe up some of the bulk of the mess.  Then I realized I needed to put the lid back on it.  Decided I would do that with a towel in hand.  So, I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a white towel, ran back to the spill and scooped up the can and lid, still mostly in the bag.  I dropped the bag and can in the kitchen sink (not the best decision of this series), and went back to mop up more of the bulk of the mess.  Once the thick of it was on the towels, I threw them into the washer (again, not totally great thought process but I was so fixated on mopping).  I managed to scare the dogs enough with my frantic screaming and running around that they hovered together in the mud room.

It took me two mop buckets of water to really get all the film up.  But I was pretty satisfied with my efforts and results.  Major catastrophe avoided.  Until I realized I still had a kitchen sink and washer to deal with.  The soaking wet towels in the washer was the worst of the sequence.  I took a big trash bag and just scooped them up and tossed into the trash.  It was not worth it to me to try to salvage those.   The kitchen sink was fairly easy to clean.

The two biggest tragedies of this fiasco are that no one was able to witness this mess or take pictures of the frantic cleanup.  The second is that I now have white paint on my beautiful black Lululemon running jacket.

The best thing to come of this?  I had exactly enough paint, down to almost the last drop, left in that little can to cover the fireplace.  The Ashelys got to partake in my fiasco via text, and were very helpful in directing where the white paint should go.  Not inside the fireplace, and not on the floor bricks.  Just the wall bricks.  It’s beautiful, and was so satisfying a task to complete on my own, with a little texting help from my friends.

Stay tuned for more house updates, homework completions and furniture!

Organized Home: Tupperware

Howdy!  I’m still in the kitchen for my home organization this week.  Last week I tackled fridge and food storage in the cabinets (no pantry in my house).  This week I moved on to the tupperware cabinet.

On the Organize 365 podcast, she tackles this area the same week that she does food storage but I just couldn’t handle it that week. I was much more prepared this week to handle it in under an hour one morning.  It was also the morning that I prepped some food for the week, and that was a much more pleasant experience.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say opening my tupperware cabinet is a risky business.  Lids falling everywhere, things perfectly balanced once the cabinet doors are shut.  Unfortunately this is the same cabinet I store my NutriBullet and crock pot in; two appliances I use pretty frequently.



Here are the rules for this week’s clean out:

  1. Remove everything from the cabinet (no surprise here).
  2. Throw away anything that doesn’t have a base or a lid to match it.
  3. Throw away sizes of containers you don’t use.  In her book, and mine, it’s not a waste to throw it away if it’s no longer wasting space in your cabinet.
  4. Stock up on sizes of containers you use the most.
  5. Place everything back in the cabinet.

I listened to the podcast before the actual clean out so while on my grocery run this weekend, I stocked up on three of my favorite sizes of containers: the long and shallow ones, the square shallow and square deep.  During the cleanout, I put everything on the floor and then tried to match lids to bases.  Just like she said, I tossed anything without a match.  I kept anything with a match event though she advised against it.  I’ve got the space for now, and maybe since it’s organized finally I can actually find reason to use the itty bitty containers.


Playing matchmakers

I didn’t have any particular system for putting things back into the cabinet.  I put all the appliances on the bottom shelf: crock pot, food processor and NutriBullet.  Then I organized the best I could by shape for the Tupperwares.


So roomie!

The key to keeping it this way I think will be taking my time putting the containers away after I wash them.  No more opening the cabinets and casually tossing them back in there.  I used three of the new long shallow ones to store some veggies and cooked chicken in, and several of the deep, short ones for this week’s lunch salads.  My fridge is a lot neater, and now that I have easy access to actually choosing what size tupperware I want, I’ll probably break the habit of storing the big pots and bowls of entire meals in the fridge.


Happy Fridge 🙂

Next week I’ll handle the dishware.  I have a cabinet of plates and bowls, and another cabinet of cups and mugs.  I may do one at a time, or maybe I’ll get crazy and go for both.  Either way, I’m on a mission to get this house in order, hopefully before my next series of trips in April!


Organized Home:Food Storage

I got to start today with a fantastic yoga class at our Studio here in Tulsa.  Mondays aren’t so bad when you get to start them gently moving your body and slowly waking up to the sunrise.  My first week of fast 5k training last week went really well.  I managed to get all the runs in, and all the circuits.  I feel a deep soreness to the bone in my quads, which hopefully means I’m pushing it on the runs.

During some of my down time this weekend, I conquered the next area of my Organized Home project.  I’m following along with the podcast Organize 365 and each week taking some time on the weekend to clean out and organize an area of my home. Last week I cleared the kitchen counters off, and this week went deeper in the kitchen to the cabinets and fridge.

Per usual, the first step was to take everything out of these spaces.  I decided to do the cabinets first and then the fridge.  I don’t have a walk in pantry so all of my dry goods and cans get stored in the cabinets.   Once everything was on the countertops, I vacuumed out the shelves and wiped them down.  Then it was time to toss.  Like with the master closet, there were some rules:

  1. Anything that is expired
  2. Anything that’s been open longer than you can remember
  3. Duplicates of things, especially spices

Now to put things back in these freshly clean, spacious doors.  She suggests storing things in a sorted manner that makes sense to you in additional bins but I didn’t have any, and don’t want to buy any so instead I separated my shelves into nuts and baking items, and canned goods below that.  I like her idea of having an area to store necessary ingredients for specific recipes for your week.




Once everything was either in the trash or back in the cabinets, I moved on to the fridge.  Same rules apply for tossing here: expired and duplicates are gone.  No second thoughts.  My favorite tip for the fridge was to not actually store your fruits and veggies in a drawer because then they’re out of sight and out of mind.  So I decided to have a shelf for snacks like veggies, guacamole and hardboiled eggs and a shelf for leftover storage and ingredients for meals for the week.

This clean out worked really well with my time in the kitchen this weekend anyway.  I’m really intentionally working on a strong Sunday cooking habit, and having a cleared out pantry is already providing more calm when I do it.  For maintenance she recommends a Sunday clean out where you go through the fridge for leftovers and opened produce to try to use up as much of it as you can – an easy habit to implement with the Sunday cooking!

Next week we stay in the kitchen and tackle dish cabinets!

How do you organize food storage?


Tulsa Love: Retro Den Home Styling

Before I officially settled in Tulsa, my sister friend Katie toured me around her favorite places.  Places I hope to tour you around via the blog or if you ever come visit.  One of the first on her list was a vintage furniture store called Retro Den and we were heading there for a succulent planting event.  Not a lover of furniture, vintage or plants I was far from convinced this would be great, but open minded anyway.

Flash forward 2.5 years later and one of my big resolutions is keeping a pot of their succulents alive and I’ve hired these girls to style my living room.  Obviously I was so wrong about how I would feel about my experience in the store, and actually ended up planting several succulents alongside A. Daly that very day, and putting a sale hold on a gorgeous industrial cart that just screamed at me.  Good work Katie Carp.


One variation of couch location

Those succulents have since died (not their fault, mine.) but that cart table is now the center of this styling session for my living room.  Fast friendships grew out of the Ashleys too, as they’re both so personable, warm and funny and I spent a lot of my early down time days hanging around their shop or bringing them food in exchange for little shop gifts.

As much as I’d like to do a full makeover and update to my house, I think it’s more realistic financially to just update the actual furniture.  My whole time in Tulsa I’ve been working with a strange mix of pieces I acquired in Memphis or Austin or from my parents’ attic/basement.  I had all the pieces that I needed but it looked like a patchwork quilt of furniture, and a cluttered one at that.

I had a little bit of money saved up, and I started selling pieces off. (The LetGo app and Facebook groups are a great place for this).  Soon I’d sold off all my living room furniture except my precious cart table and that brought about a proper theme for this Christmas (last year’s snow ski, this year furniture).  I asked for a couch, and that was it.  Santa generously pulled through with some couch cash and a suggestion to get a designer to go with it.  The Ashleys!


Couch and designer for Christmas

Before we even started our session, the As began gathering intel.  There were forms to fill out, Pinterest boards to make, screenshots to share.  This was surprising to me but shouldn’t have been.  I do the same thing to people when they start working out with me.  Why are you doing this?  What do you want to accomplish?  What are you willing to do?  Not do?  What’s your budget?


In my own attempt at designing my living room, I wanted it to center around travel and books.  I don’t have a television so wanted art on the walls to inspire chatter about places I’ve been or places to go.  Books on the shelves could be topics of chatter too.  The cart needed to stay.  I love the bookcases and the length of the room.  The mantle is overwhelming.  I want a gallery wall and a cozy country feel.  I want the room to feel open, calming, warm, inviting and friendly.  I want a tufted or nailhead trimmed sofa and cozy reading chairs, maybe a reading nook.  And a gallery wall.  My budget is about the price of the sofas I’m looking at.

We scheduled the consult for a Thursday morning at 9am.  Normally this is late in the day for me, but I was feeling under the weather and barely out of bed when they arrived offering coffee, bright yellow tulips and friendly chit chat.

First, we took a tour of my house.  In their styling sessions, the As will use pieces you already have in your home (especially if your budget is as small as mine) to “shop your space” and I knew they were probably looking around for those things.  But I was also beaming with excitement as they complimented other parts about my home.  I loved this house when I first toured it, and still do, but there’s something about being reminded why you fell in love with something in the first place, especially after it’s flaws start to come through (cabinet doors that don’t shut, painted shut windows, loosey goose doorknobs, shower knobs that don’t let the bath faucet on).  It’s important to say that these were genuine compliments; I don’t feel like they were fluffing me up to love them more.

The tile in my kitchen, the modern and old mix of furniture in my bedroom, the light from my windows, my quirky little bathroom sink.  They brought so much appreciation for my own home back to me, and I’m going to hold onto that forever.

Then it was down to business.  The living room.  The mantle.  Without hesitation, the first thing to go was the Christmas decor.  Since it is mid-January, I reluctantly complied.  They both agreed, based on the photos I submitted, that my big map could stay (yay!) but needed to just rest on the mantle instead of hang.  They cleared off the rest of it while I just stood back and watched.  Then we went hunting for things again, this time to the garage.  They spotted a metal basket and two old milk jugs from my parents’ basement that I loved when I saw them down there and had carted around through three living spaces.  My favorite part of the day (after the house loving of course) was watching them carefully wash and prepare these vintage jugs for use in my current living room.


The day-of before


Packing away Christmas

They brought them in and toodled around with the perfect placement.  I’m still just standing back watching, amazed at what’s happening before me.  They worked so well in sync together, checking in with me and my vision, but also just knowing my vision well enough to decide things together.

Besides being under the weather I think they could tell I was overwhelmed and were so kind in listening to my mini-panic about clearing off the mantle.  Last fall I’d spent a little over $100 on lanterns and candlesticks and big books to try to fill it out, and they just took them off.   It’s frustrating to feel like you tried on your own, and couldn’t find the look you wanted, but then such a relief to finally get the mantle under control (this is why you hire the As!).


Too soon our styling session was over and the cheery girls left me to bask in my delightfully arranged living room (still just with a cart in it but simplified), but not without homework.  I had five main tasks for the next month before we come tighter again.

  1. Buy a couch
  2. Paint the fireplace white
  3. Get a snake plant and some philodendron
  4. Only buy white things, and no more new pieces
  5. Look for a jute rug

I was a little nervous about being left to these devices on my own but the girls were supportive in answering questions I had (what kind of paint? where do I buy those plants?) and even pinned examples of it all to our shared Pinterest board.

The couch is ordered, the fireplace is painted and the plants are happy in their new home!  I can’t wait to share an updated post with you once the couch is in its place, but this one was meant more to focus on these delightful girls and their very-worth-it service.  If you’d like to read more about this service, check out this link.  At the very least, even if you’re not into furniture, vintage or plants, swing by their shop near 12 and Harvard to say hi.  You won’t be sorry.



Organized Home: Kitchen Counters

Moving right along this week into the kitchen.  I am so glad that this Organized 365 project called 40 Days: One Whole House didn’t tackle the entire kitchen at once.  Instead, we’re easing in very slowly starting with the kitchen counters.  I listened to the less-than-15-minutes podcast for this topic on a drive out for dinner with Chap and the kids, and was ready to tackle the counters the next day.

In the podcast, she talks about all horizontal surfaces in your home and how they end up becoming holding spaces for all kinds of things.  Keys, papers, bills, extra cups.  It’s so easy to just set things down and leave them there for later.  I’m working hard on making a space for everything, and then returning items to their homes when they’re not being used.

The first task for the kitchen counters was to take everything off of them.  Everything.  Appliances.  Papers.  Grocery bags.  Drying racks.  Bananas.  That part was easy (my dining room table has turned into a lovely holding space for all of my items in purgatory during this project).  Then, her rule is that you can’t return anything to the kitchen until you use it.  You’re supposed to use the whole week to figure this out but I didn’t want to so I started my meal prep for the week and only returned the things I used during that time.


Purgatory for Stuff

In the podcast, she specifically calls out several things that most people have out on their counters and should maybe reconsider.  The first is a toaster.  I don’t have a toaster but I do have a microwave.  I don’t use it everyday, and I’m not even sure I use it every two days.  I tried to move this to the laundry room shelf but the plugs weren’t compatible so it had to stay in the kitchen.  Next were those porcelain canisters of all the kitchen utensils.  I have one, and I do use it everyday, but the look of it does clutter up the counters and I have plenty of drawer space.  The utensils are now in a drawer close to the stove for easy grabbing.  And the canister moved to the mantle to hold a new snake plant!

I decided to also tackle the fridge space while I was going at the counters.  Taking down expired Save the Dates and old holiday cards.  The only things that went back up were scenery magnets and art of my favorite cities (Memphis and Tulsa).

It was pretty simple for me to decide what to not put back on the counters.  The three big jars of protein powder I hadn’t scooped from in months.  The utensil canister.  A big bowl to hold fruit that’s usually empty.  And it was nice to rearrange a little.   This new layout worked great while I was prepping veggies and meals for the week, and I love that it feels a lot less crowded in here – from the counter space to the fridge!

Need to work on getting those doors to stay shut!  Next week: pantries and leftovers.


Organized House: Front Hall Closet

This morning, I got up and did my workout at home before heading the the studio for the first class!  The ritual is working so far, plus I was just super excited about starting the New Year Fit Camp at StudiOne today.  I need to find ways to have this kind of enthusiasm for every regular day of life.

Y’all I’m pretty proud I’ve made it three weeks in a row of sticking to this organizing the house plan.  And I’m also proud to report that the master closet and the laundry room are still looking neat and tidy and perhaps even more impressively, I haven’t purchased any items of clothing in 2017.  I do have some points expiring at the end of this month so I foresee a purchase, within point limits, in the next week or so.

This week my organizational task was conquering the front hall closet.  I really only have one “house closet”, that’s to say a closet not in a bedroom.  With limited storage space outside of the bedroom, I had some specific objectives for this space.

  • Coats and winter gear
  • The vacuum
  • The carryon suitcase

I stuck to the same plan as the laundry and master closet by taking everything out of the closet first, and then deciding if it was worth putting back in OR sorting into trash and sale piles.  (I’ve decided while I don’t have anyone in that front room, that it’ll be a holding room for an early spring yard sale).


Everything out first

Coats and winter gear already fit into this closet so it was easy to put them back in in an orderly fashion.  The vacuum and carryon suitcase haven’t fit before and just occupied space in the very narrow hallway.  I don’t like it.  I had piles of old and mismatched Christmas decorations, random sheets of tissue paper and a variety of gift bags (a poor attempt at storing wrapping supplies).  Most of that got trashed.  I hate it, especially the part where I might be able to use it in the future, but better out than in at this point.

This one was a quick project I finished in one evening.  The carryon and vacuum found homes, as well as my big duffel of race shirts ;).  I also had a plastic storage bin that wasn’t really being used so I saved the most practical wrapping supplies and put them all in there.

The best part though, and something I appreciate about younger me, was coming across an old photo box that had prints from high school and college, notes from all kinds of occasions from my parents, roommates and friends.  And my Ireland travel journal that I knew was saved somewhere.  I love saving love notes of all kinds, and even though I’m sure I’m not supposed to keep them (clutter you know), my heart is always so happy when I find them.  So that box stayed.


Vacuum and suitcase fit now!

I’m feeling good about this focus for the year!  Next week the podcast is about kitchen counters…..seems easy enough!