Home Tour: Living Room (So Far)

I didn’t let myself start designing my home until I had signed a contract and paid my deposit. I think a big part of that was not letting myself get my hopes up—if you recall, I’ve spent a decade living with roommates in apartments, so I had a pretty limited space to call my own. When I finally had a place, I starting making Pinterest boards for every room in the house.

The living room board was one that I was most excited about. I found myself swooning over neutral color schemes. I knew exactly the grey couch I wanted to save up for, I knew a couple family heirlooms that would fit well in the space, and in my mind, it all looked so peaceful and perfect.

Screenshots of my living room Pinterest board

Before I even moved in, I found THE MOST AMAZING vintage yellow chairs for a steal of a price (or so I thought) on Facebook Marketplace. I snatched them up, and the gal was even getting rid of a coffee table and gave that to me for free. I had initially hoped to reupholster the chairs with a grey fabric, but the yellow grew on me, despite…

Cat hair.

So. Much. Cat hair.

And dried hairballs.

I spent 2 days scrubbing it out (plus repairing a couple of wobbly legs). Truly, it’s not perfect. There are still stains on it. But they no longer smell like cats, and at least I know that those things are CLEAN. There are still some things I want to do with the chairs (sand down the legs and re-stain them, replace the fabric underneath, and later, someday, reupholster them), but I love them as they are right now.

I ended up suddenly designing my living room around these chairs. This room is bright and bold, and it feels so comfortable. I LOVE this room. I still LOVE my Pinterest board as well, and maybe someday my home will reflect that, but I’m not in a hurry.

I only purchased 3 items in the living room. Everything was repurposed from things I already owned. I’ve spent under $50 (so far) for this room. (Okay, plus about $12 to fix those chairs so far, but doesn’t $50 sound better?)

Here’s the breakdown:

Vintage yellow chairs, $35
Blue Magic Upholstery Cleaner, about $7
Gorilla Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive, about $5

Coffee table, free
Basket, $15 at HomeGoods
Tan pillows, vintage from my family
Lamp, vintage from my family
Fabric on floral pillow from Harmony in Provo
Beeswax candles from Farm & Hive in Payson, UT
Wall art from Light & Ink (purchased years ago at Beehive Bazaar in Provo)
Art prints on the shelf from Hayley Nuenswander and Caitlin Connolly.

So much #shoplocal in here! I love supporting creative friends.

Big disclaimer: This room is not done! This photo is of the half that is. I am still looking for a couple key pieces to put on other walls, but I’m taking my time. I wanted to get this place feeling livable and cozy though, and I love where it’s at so far.

Ep. 6: From Uncertainty to Confidence in Business

When I first announced that I was starting a podcast, Melissa (of Episode 2) messaged me to tell me that I need to meet her friend Chelsea who was ALSO launching a podcast around the same time with a similar theme! That started a friendship that would span through texts, Marco Polo, and hopefully sometime meeting in person. But this gal, let me tell you. Chelsea has a way of making you feel like you’re already old friends, and I LOVE that. She also has an incredible energy and passion, and you’re going to hear that both in this podcast episode, and in her podcast, Confidence in Business.

In this podcast, she shares about how she went from unsure about her career path and unable to find the resources she was looking for, to an advocate for other women wanting to break into business. Here are some of the things that were mentioned in the podcast:

Chelsea and her sweet family! Baby #2 coming soon!!

Before we even start the interview, I talk about how I’m figuring out the best way to schedule my time. I mention that I’m planning to try out block scheduling. I mention episode 56 of the Live Free Creative podcast where host Miranda talks all about block scheduling, so I’ll definitely be relistening to that soon!

In her interview, Chelsea mentions author/podcaster Robin Sharma, and how she used to listen to his YouTube videos. She says the insights he shared changed her life.

You can find Chelsea on Instagram, and her podcast @ConfidenceinBusiness on Instagram, Facebook, and on major podcast platforms.

I’m planning to be on the Confidence in Business podcast soon as well, talking about my path to becoming a podcaster, and the resources I use to do that. So check back for that later!

Thanks so much, Chelsea! And as always, if you like what you hear, please subscribe, leave a review, and share the podcast with a friend! Thanks so much!

Ep. 5: What My Foot Zoner Taught Me About My Life Path

In early December, I moved out of my apartment. Episode 1 was recorded in that apartment. Episodes 2-4 were recorded at my family’s home in California. And finally, episode 5 was recorded in my new house in Southern Utah. In this episode, I share some updates about my recent move and what led me here. I share about a week I had last fall that helped me recognize that I was on the right path, and how a meeting with my foot zoner helped me see that. And just for fun, I kept in some bloopers, even in the first minute. It’s just real life! I got a little laugh out of it.

And as promised, here’s a sneak peek of my living room. I’ll share all the details in a future Allie At Home post (including how I spent LESS THAN $50 for everything + details on the many vintage items in this room). I LOVE IT.

You can follow the Looks Like Wandering podcast on Facebook and Instagram @lookslikewandering. The podcast is currently available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, and more coming soon.

If you like what you hear, please subscribe, rate, or share the podcast with a friend! (And please tag us if you share us on your Instagram stories!) Your support means so much. See ya next Monday morning with the next episode!

A Room Can Still Feel Like Home

Restored desk, thrifted chair, Ikea bookshelf.

I have been renting rooms in shared apartments for over a decade. My first place, an old on-campus apartment my first semester in college, lasted only one semester before I moved off-campus. That started a trend for me: I rarely stayed more than 1 or 2 semesters in any one apartment, so I never really settled down. Everything was mismatched. Nothing had a theme. And too many of the items were probably from Target’s cheap dorm room section.

A year after I graduated, my friend Cameron called me out on my lack of interior design skills.

“You can still create a home you love even if you’re just renting a room in an apartment,” he said. I truly had never considered that before.

There are some things I’ve still chosen to stay frugal on while living with roommates—namely kitchen supplies or other items that will be used by multiple people. But things in your personal space? This is your home, and you can absolutely create a space to feel like that.

Things I invested in:
Frames and art
A side table
A lamp, etc.

Things I did not invest in:
Kitchen appliances
TV, and other electronics in common areas

A good shower head
Dishes and utensils
Throw blankets and pillows for the living room
Office/desk supplies
“Smart” technology (Alexa, Google Home, outlets, light bulbs, etc)

The things in my “Don’t Invest” list are things that are in common areas of the home and can be on the more expensive side. For example, I’d never spend more than $10/15 on skillets or pans for a shared kitchen, but I would definitely consider investing in quality kitchenwares in my own home. 

The optional things are things I have no opinion on. Did some of those things get used or broken by my roommates? Yes, but it’s not a big deal. I would personally just not invest too much money on things that are in common areas of a shared home. Whatever I purchase for common areas, I make sure I’m mentally prepared to part with them if they get broken or misplaced.

Want to start putting more intention into your design style, even in a rented room? I’ve really been loving the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, hosted by Emma and Elsie of the A Beautiful Mess blog. Both the website and the podcast have a lot of great insights into interior design, including some DIY projects. I think this is a great place to get started in finding your personal style, and what you want to invest in to reflect that. Here are some of my favorite A Beautiful Mess podcast episodes about design: Episode 2: Forever Homes; Episode 10: How to Decorate Affordable (And Not Just From Target!)

I started adding furniture into the mix in 2018 when I made my first table, then in 2019 when I restored a desk that my great-grandpa had made around the 1950’s (pictured). Because I was living in a basement apartment at the time with a roommate, the table went in a corner of the living room and was used sparingly when I needed extra workspace. The desk went in my room and acted as my office space (pictured). In the background you can see the Ikea bookshelf I used as both a bookshelf and a dresser—there are clothes in the cubes of the shelf. Beside the bookshelf is my bed (not pictured). By this time, after a decade of living in apartments, I finally had a style: a lot of white, green plants, and natural wood—basically, colors to brighten up a dark basement bedroom. While my next apartment won’t be in a basement, I’m still planning to keep everything very light.

My space finally started to feel like home, but it took years. I’m grateful that Cameron started me on the path to designing a space that feels like home and not just a temporary dorm room. What can you add to your space to help it feel more like a home? What’s the right investment for you right now?

Ep. 4: Healthcare Professional Turned Artist

Photos courtesy of Nicole Hock

Nicole Hock of -Osis Earrings is no stranger to health conditions—aside from being a radiologic technologist (“rad tech”), Nicole has Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, and struggled with an eating disorder for 8 years. Her passion for healthcare and helping others turned to a business when she began creating polymer clay earrings modeled after aspects of different health conditions. I LOVE THIS!

In this episode, we dive deeper into Nicole’s story and what inspired her (despite believing her entire life that she wasn’t particularly creative) to use her creative skills for good.

You can find Nicole and -Osis Earrings on Instagram @osisearrings and on Etsy. A portion of all proceeds from all of her sales are donated to related foundations.

Through the end of January 2020, listeners can use the code WINTER10 for 10% off their order on the -Osis Earrings Etsy page. Thanks so much, Nicole!

Ep. 3: Hollywood Hustle to Suburban #MomLife

Photo courtesy of Emma Walz

My cousin Emma Walz has always been the adventurer in the family. She’s always been learning, creating, and charting her own course. While I was stoked for her to move back to Utah a couple years ago after living in California working as a script supervisor for years, I wasn’t too surprised when she later told me that she felt a bit lost in her new life as a “suburban mom.”

Photo courtesy of Emma Walz (she’s the one in the blue hat!)

I wasn’t worried though—I knew Emma would figure it out, and she did. In this episode of the Looks Like Wandering Podcast, Emma shares about her path to script supervising, and then her shift to motherhood. She shares some great insight to both the career and the lifestyle of those working in the film industry. Maybe most importantly, Emma shares about the mental shifts she’s had to make to truly embrace this season of life.

And surprise! Keep listening for a big reveal of what’s next for Emma!! It sure caught me off guard, and was the best surprise I could have imagined! I’m getting emotional even writing these show notes—but that could also be because I’m still sworn to secrecy until this episode comes out, haha! I’m holding it all in!!

Thanks so much for joining us, Emma! Love you so much!

You can connect with Emma on her Instagram @poemsbymom—her latest creative endeavor! And if you have a non-union script supervising job for Emma and are willing to pay her the BIG BUCKS, hit her up. You never know if she’ll make a quick exception for a really good gig. 😉

Ep 2: Culinary & Pastry Chef Turned Writer

Photo courtesy of Melissa Buckley

I am so ecstatic to share my friend Melissa Buckley with you today! Melissa and I originally met about a decade ago through a mutual friend, but weren’t that tight back then. We reconnected earlier this year when we started admiring each other’s writing projects over social media. We met up twice in the fall of 2019 and will hopefully keep seeing a lot of each other!

Photo courtesy of Melissa Buckley

I had seen glimpses of Melissa’s story unfold over social media, so it was way fun to hear her story from her own words. In this interview, Melissa touches on some key moments in her high school and college years before sharing about her decision to pursue a career in the culinary arts. You’ll hear about her experience in culinary school and later working in top notch kitchens in the Las Vegas area. If you want to get into a similar field of work, you’ll want to hear this interview!

Photo courtesy of Melissa Buckley

These days, Melissa is at home with her sweet twin babies and pursuing a career as a religious non-fiction writer. She shares all about this shift and the joy she finds in this particular creative outlet.

Connect with Melissa:
Instagram: @melissarosebuckley22
Visit her Website

Want to read some of Melissa’s work? Check out her article 9 Simple Ways for Busy Moms to Find Time For Personal Revelation on LDSLiving.com.

Thanks again, Melissa, for being on the show!

As always, if you like what you hear, please subscribe to Looks Like Wandering, share it with friends, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram! Thanks for listening!

Ep. 1: Intro with Allie

Welcome to the Looks Like Wandering Podcast—a podcast for and about millennials figuring out their education and career paths! It may look like wandering, but it’s very intentional. I’m your host, Allie Barnes.

In this first episode, I tell a bit of my story and how it led to this podcast—from following an impression to leave my job, to 5+ months unemployment, and the conversation that inspired the title to this podcast.

The podcast is launching today, January 1, 2020, with three episodes, so keep listening. If you like what you hear, please subscribe, share the podcast with friends, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks for being here! <3

An Intentional Home + Wood Side Table Tutorial

Photo by Gary Barnes

This podcast is primarily about figuring out education and career paths— but I think it’s also about the paths we take alongside those primary paths. I think it’s about learning to be more mindful about our choices. It’s about being responsible consumers and creators. And it’s about creating a life—including a home—that we love.

In a few weeks I’ll be moving into a new place, and for the first time I get to really dive into designing the interior of my home. For years, out of practicality and necessity, I’ve lived with roommates in pretty cheap apartments. In short, it wasn’t great. I’m so excited to, for the first time in 11 years, truly create a home.

This is the first post of hopefully many about this process.

Today I want to talk about being intentional.

Most of the statement pieces I’m bringing into my home are ones I’ve inherited or ones I’ve built:

  • My first woodworking project: A table I made in 2018
  • The desk my great-grandpa made in the 1950’s, that I restored in 2019
  • Beautiful mid-century lamps that belonged to my great-grandma
  • A side table I made to match the one I made for my dad last year

I’ve spent days scouring Apartment Therapy (favorite, favorite) and other design websites (article: “How Not To Design A Boring Neutral Room” from Emily Henderson). I’ve been making notes about things I have and things I need to buy, and things I need to buy sooner than later. I have at least one Pinterest board for each room in the house.

Late one night as I was getting into bed, I finally realized—so many of the design elements I am hoping to incorporate in my future home are things I saw in my great grandma’s home.

From the cream colored pillows and dark wood accents, to the lush green hills outside her living room window; from the soothing blue tones throughout the house (reminiscent of her sailing days), to the bold pink kitchen and metallic green guest bathroom. I could walk into her home and feel safety, comfort, and familiarity. I want to walk into my home and feel the same.

Fresh wood cookies, sawdust still on them!

Earlier this year, I made a side table for my dad out of a wood cookie from Utah (silver maple, if that means anything to anyone). This winter I decided to make myself a matching side table. I brought it home to my parent’s house for the Christmas holiday and finished it up. While I have other furniture I’ve made for the home, this is the first piece I’ve made specifically for this space.

Drying out a wood cookie in the oven (see tips below!)

Want to make a similar wood side table? Here are some tips:

  • I bought the wood from a local lumberjack who was selling wood on Facebook Marketplace.
  • If the wood is freshly cut (within the last few weeks) you’ll want to let it sit out to dry out. Make sure air can circulate on either side of the wood. I just had it propped up against a wall, but if you have a lot of wood to dry out, you can put spacers between them to save space and still get that air flow.
  • If you’re really in a hurry and your wood cookie is small enough, you can dry it out a bit in your kitchen oven. I would set the temperature to about 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit and check on it every 20-30 minutes (or longer when I realized this likely wouldn’t burn my house down; but don’t forget to set an alarm to again decrease your chances of burning your house down). (I still set a fire extinguisher within reach just in case.) I think drying it out in the oven also helped the bark to fall off of the first table I made earlier this year.
  • If you’re unsure as to whether there is still moisture in your wood or not, you can always buy a moisture meter to test the moisture level. I did this for the first table but forgot to use it for the second. In retrospect, I don’t think it’s necessary. If your wood has started cracking and if the bark is falling off, you should be good.
  • Ideally, the wood will be dried out and the bark will be off before you start constructing your table. If they aren’t, your table could crack or the bark could fall off later, and while the bark falling off isn’t a big deal, a cracked table could ruin the entire thing.
  • After the wood was dry, I sanded it smooth with an electric sander. Start with more coarse sandpaper then work down to finer sandpaper.
  • I stained it with a wood stain. Read the directions on the container!
  • I then sealed it with a clear gloss water based polyurethane. Again, read the directions on the container! Let it sit for at least 48 hours (or whatever the label on your sealer says) before putting anything on it.

    *P.S. I’ve used both fast drying polyurethane and regular, and I think I prefer regular. The fast drying one I used for this project is thicker, and I feel like it’s less forgiving than regular polyurethane.
  • And lastly, legs are from hairpinlegs.com! This is by far the most expensive part of the whole project, so if you aren’t tied to that particular style, you could probably buy or craft table legs for far cheaper. You can look around online for some ideas (like here).
Staining and sealing the wood cookie.

I’m grateful for the blessing of having family heirlooms and the opportunity to create new ones. If you don’t have items that have been passed down to you, I encourage you to learn a new skill to create your own! What a blessing that will then be to future generations, or whoever you choose to share them with when you’re done with them.

Over the next few months, I plan to keep creating and purchasing items for my home, both new and used. Come back soon for more updates. Have any articles about amazing neutral color rooms? Send them my way on Instagram (@lookslikewandering)! I love this stuff.

Photo by Gary Barnes!

The “Why”

photo by Maddison Weber

I did not plan to be where I am now—unemployed for several months, single, moving, starting an MBA program… These things were not on my mind 1 or 5 or 15 years ago. Not in the least. But now that I’m here, I can see how everything led me here, and I’m so excited to be here. As I’ve talked to different people over the last few months about my path, I realize that a lot of people are in a similar situation—around 30 years old, and not where they expected to be. They’re making shifts and figuring things out. They’re taking leaps of faith. They’re doing the unexpected. I think we’re all less alone in this experience than we may feel sometimes.

The Looks Like Wandering Podcast is all about this journey. Every week, we’ll be talking to millennials (and surrounding generations) about their educational and career paths thus far. We’ll be diving into our guests’ careers, what worked for them and what didn’t, and their biggest takeaways. Each episode will be about 15-20 minutes long—just long enough to enjoy while you’re getting ready for the day, on your morning commute, during your lunch break, or any other time.

In just the first few episodes, we’ll hear from a part-time rock star, a pastry chef turned writer, a Hollywood script supervisor turned mom, and me:

A musician turned social worker turned HR manager turned MBA student—who also does woodworking and triathlons on the side, and still really loves a good indie rock song.

It may look like wandering, but it’s very intentional. Come enjoy the journey with us.

The Looks Like Wandering Podcast launches Wednesday, January 1. If you’re interested in sharing your story, email Allie at lookslikewandering@gmail.com.