Shop Small Saturday: Shelby Dillon Studio

     Y'all! I have been anxiously awaiting this feature! I adore Shelby's work! It doesn't hurt that she's also super fun to work with. We met through our local Rising Tide chapter and began collaborating on a styled shoot to showcase some of her work. She recently moved here after a stint in Singapore, then Brazil and wanted to be seen more locally. Reaching out to local business groups is such a great way to connect with others. Both for collaborations but also for community and friendship. 


photo by  kelsey nelson


     Singapore is actually where she got started in her painting. They moved for her husband's job, so she started painting and selling commissions. Art is such a great outlet. This business is an evolution of that background as all of her art is rooted and inspired by their travels while they lived overseas. You can especially see this in some of her fabulous collections such as the Chiang Mai and Azulejo collections. I love seeing how broadening our horizons changes and inspires us in so many different ways. 


Photo by  kelsey nelson

Photo by kelsey nelson


     Much of her inspiration comes from warm weather and tropical climates. Looking through the Shelby Dillon Studio website gives me the travel bug! To quote Shelby, "We lived on the equator for almost a decade! Beaches and jungles feature prominently in my work.".  I absolutely adore how this inspiration shines in the collection she created for the styled shoot, titled Limoncello. This collection gave me all the summer vibes! 


photo by  kelsey nelson

photo by kelsey nelson


     Shelby loves exotic places and new experiences. Learning about other people and cultures is one of her passions. If you would like to be inspired by some new products, head over to the website! These works and home goods are only available through the site. That way they can give their clients the best possible experience and the highest quality at a reasonable price. You'll find some great things like art prints, make-up bags, bar cart trays, and pillows. All of these products feature art created by Shelby. 

     I also highly recommend checking out their Instagram page! They're hosting a giveaway in honor of an upcoming fine art launch


      What are your favorite Shelby Dillon products? We'd love to know! 

5 Home Staging Tricks You Can DIY

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So you want stage your home to sell but don’t know where to get started. No problem! I’ve created a quick list of the first things I look for when doing a consultation. These are tasks that are easy for the homeowner, like yourself, to do on their own.


  1. De-clutter. You see this one on every staging tips list because it is important. So, de-clutter. Then, look at the space and take away one more item off each shelf/table. The decor should add something to the space, not take away from it. If there is too much stuff laying out it can make a large room feel cramped.
  2. Take down photos. This one is hard, I know. But, buyers have trouble picturing themselves living there when they are looking at the current homeowners. You can leave up quotes that will help your house still feel like home while trying to sell.
  3. If you have books on the shelves, take half of them down and turn the other half backwards. It’s easier for the eyes to scan a room if it’s not being distracted by bright book covers. Another reason to do this is that you never know what might offend a potential buyer so best to play it safe. The exception to this would be antique books, classics, and books on art/style. Let's hope no one will be offended by your collection of Sherlock Holmes.
  4. Make sure all walls are light neutral colors. This no longer means they all need to be beige. Light grey is in right now so you have a few more neutral options to choose from, since you are still living in the space. For a darker neutral, Sherwin Williams' color of the year (2017) is Poised Taupe.
  5. Plant flowers in the front yard. Don’t have a garden bed around your mailbox? Create one. It’s a cheap weekend project that brings a lot of curb appeal. Don’t have a garden space by the front door? Purchase flower pots that match the shutters and/or door and plant seasonal flowers in them then place these on the doorsteps. 


I hope these tips help you feel more confident staging your own home!

DIY Concrete Countertops

I know I said we were going to do butcher block counters, but then I thought about a few things. First being we're paying for a wedding so is paying thousands for new counters really a priority this year? Second being we already have a lot of natural woods in our home and I didn't want to stress about the counter wood matching other décor woods. Then I discovered there's a concrete overlay product you can put right on top of the laminate. Say what?!

Immediately I loved the idea of grey counters with our new white cabinets. Added bonus, this DIY really wasn't too difficult and it came in under $200. In case you forgot, here's what the kitchen looked like before we did anything.

Here's what it looked like after the cabinets were painted. Better but I still hated the counters(and backsplash, that's next).

And here it is with a brand new concrete counters! Ta-Da!

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I won't post much of a how-to because we followed Young House Love almost to a tee. Here's there post on how to do it. The only differences are that we used Henry's Feather Finish because we could pick it up at Home Depot and I can get too excited about projects to wait for shipping. Our counters did turn out a bit darker than theirs look and I wonder if the Henry's is darker or if we did something else different.

Pro tip: If you are planning on selling your home soon I highly recommend this project if you need to update your kitchen on a time crunch and on a budget. Worried buyers won't like the concrete look? I get that. But I know more people will like the trendy concrete over the dated laminate.

We also did super small batches and worked slowly to make every layer as smooth as possible. Minimal sanding needed. Roughly one cup of mix and 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. water was just the right amount of concrete mix for us o be able to take our time and still use it all before it hardened in the bucket.

The final difference is that we didn't wait a full 24 hours between coats. I believe the shortest time between layers was six hours and it turned out fine. We were trying to get it all completed before I left for my Cali trip.

We did the sealant just like they did. Honestly this project only takes so long because there's a lot of waiting between coats of concrete and sealant coats. But totally worth it. I can't say I'll never end up with different counters but I can say these new counters are MUCH better than the laminate.

Next on the list, backsplash! Although the tear in our (clearly) cheap laminate flooring means new floors are coming soon too! Careful moving those stoves during these projects, guys! :o 

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

When we first toured our house, I knew it was going to be our first home. I also knew the kitchen needed a complete make-over. I even said so during that first tour. Who declared orange oak to be THE thing to use in homes anyway?? Plus, our kitchen is in the middle of the downstairs with no windows (we went for a townhouse). It felt dark. An orange-y kind of dark. See? 

After a bit of research, I learned that if you plan on a total kitchen overhaul then you should start with the cabinets. I know a few were hesitant when I told them this because of horror stories where counter installation ruins new cabinets. What I found was that such things rarely happen. I was willing to take that risk and loved the wild abandon that I had while painting my cabinets. I wasn't the least but worried about getting paint on the counter tops because I hate those counter tops.

So I'm going to tell you how we did it. There are probably better ways but this is what suited us. I work M-F like most, and Alvin works T-Sat. This means we only have Sundays together so we knew this would never be a weekend project for us. We took a more casual route and tackled two or three cabinets a week. Sometimes less because we don't have a garage so sanding was completely determined by the weather. It took a long time but it worked for us.

For the doors, we took them down and removed all of the hardware. Then we sanded them down using the Black and Decker mouse until you could no longer see or feel any glossy spots. This normally meant we got it all the way down to natural wood again. Saw dust is hazardous so if you plan on this type of project be sure to get a good face mask! Alvin has Asthma but found that this one worked wonders! 

I then painted it in HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams' Greek Villa. This lighter color needed three coats, front and back. This is more of a cream than a white. I originally picked three white shades and the other two ended up looking blue in our home. This is why it's always good to take those samples home first! Can you imagine painting your entire kitchen "white" only for it to look fluorescent blue?! I also chose to paint it using a flat paint which is purely a personal preference.

After the paint dried I used Krylon Matte finishing spray. Admittedly this product is made for painted furniture and the like, however the Lowe's guy said cabinet sealant can create a yellow tint so I steered clear of that. So far so good with the Krylon stuff but I'll come back and edit this if something goes awry.

After many lackadaisical weeks of cabinet door painting, we finally had a four day weekend together! Woo hoo! We didn't do the fun thing and go to the beach for the 4th but we did get the kitchen finished. :) We started by taping plastic to everything. 

Side story! Obviously we couldn't fix lunch with the kitchen looking like this so we decided to try out Panera's new delivery service. It arrived WAY before the ETA and we were unprepared. By unprepared I mean from our glass door he saw a room covered in plastic. Then a person appear out of that plastic with what looks like a gas mask on and goggles. Poor delivery guy said we scared the sh*t out of him! Whoops! He clearly watches too many horror films. Anyway...back to DIY projects!

After the taping was completed we each took our respective sanders and got to work. I used the B&D Mouse sander to tackle the little groves in the doors we couldn't take off. Alvin used a B&D circular sander to cover the flat surfaces. Between the two of us it took about an hour and a half to sand it all down. Then four hours of painting! Probably could have been less if you have two skilled painters in the house. Poor Alvin can't paint. He has tried many times since we bought the house but he really just isn't good. Thus four hours of painting for Aryn. Totally worth it for this much brighter kitchen though!

As you can see, this DIY project is not for the faint of heart. We were pretty casual about ours, painting a few cabinet doors a week until the final weekend when we completed it all. I also really enjoy painting things so it wasn't too bad for me. Alvin says he'll never do it again. It was totally worth it to me so yes, if I end up in another house with orange cabinets I will do this all over again.

Here are some pros and cons of DIYing your cabinets.


  1. Cheaper. So much cheaper. If you are planning on selling your home in the next year or two I highly recommend this project! It's not too expensive but will make your kitchen much more appealing to today's buyers. White and bright are in. Here's the total cost:
    • $50 for a gallon of HGTV Showcase paint. It's stain resistant. Key in kitchens.
    • ~$30 sanding pads, give or take. 
    • $30 Black and Decker orbital sander, I'm not including the B&D Mouse sander because I use that for a bunch of projects and already had it.
    • $18 plastic sheets to cover the kitchen
    • $25 3M Paint Project Respirator, times two since we each had one. 
    • Total: $178
  2. More control over time frame.
  3. Don't need to work out schedules for contractors to be in the home/no need to board any pets.


  1. It's work. Hard physical labor.
  2. Unlikely you could safely do this with children in the house due to saw dust and paint fumes.
  3. You lose a weekend of free time, at least.

So there you have it! Stay tuned for our DIY banister project!