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Client File: Mom on the go Fall Style Refresh

I was recently approached by a friend who was looking to refresh her wardrobe. She is a busy working mama and hasn’t put much effort into her style for years, as thirty something she admits she is still wearing clothes from her high school days. I’m all for making your clothing last, but it doesn’t hurt to change it up at least once every decade or so! Her goals were to elevate her basics, and add in a couple of skirts for work meetings. Modesty and comfort were also a top priority. I haven’t done any styling work in years, but the idea sounded like a fun challenge! I asked myself, If I were building a Fall wardrobe from scratch, what would I want in it?

I also thought some of you might be interested in doing a little closet update as well, so I put this little blog post together for you!

Here’s what I came up with:

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To start, I came up with some basic Fall Wardrobe Essentials. A great pair of denim, a cozy sweater, a cute everyday sweater, an ankle boot and a flat shoe, a trench coat, and a sweater coat. I added a cute necklace because I believe in wearing jewelry every day – currently layering coin necklaces is one of my favorite looks.

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I suggested a variety of tops that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits.
1. Simple black shirt with an unexpected neckline
2. Printed button down blouse
3. Special occasion/dressy blouse
4. Cozy sweater
5. Basic tee
6. Basic turtleneck

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Upgrading denim is the easiest way to make your wardrobe current. High waist denim is still my favorite and I think it always will be. A longer, looser straight leg fit is really hot right now, but a cropped style looks really great with all the fall booties. Priority would go to the blue jeans, then black, but I have a soft spot for a winter white denim look too.

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Midi and maxi skirts and dresses are a must-have for women on the go. They are also a modest dresser’s best friend. Just throw on a moto jacket, some boots, and you instantly look chic and put together.

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Loose, belted pants are not only comfy AF, but they automatically take any outfit up a notch. Dress up with heels or boots, or dress down with sneakers.

What do you think of my picks? Any other must-haves you recommend?

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One Room Challenge Week 2: Making Progress

It is week 2 of the One Room Challenge (ORC) and I already know it is going to be a wild ride! If you don’t know about the ORC, check out Week 1 where I explain it all, and while you are there you can take a peek at my before pictures! Also be sure to check out all of the incredible design inspiration being shared, where 20 professional interior designers and hundreds of guests (like me!) are participating in this challenge. If you follow me on instagram, you can see all of my home updates in real time, or check out my ‘home’ highlight!

So, now on to the powder bathroom progress. I’m happy to say we officially have wallpaper! I’ve been wanting to try wallpaper for years, I mean YEARS now, but the fear of the installation process and the commitment always held me back. Enter: Mitchell Black peel and stick wallpaper. I partnered with Mitchell Black to try out an amazing bold original design that in my opinion, completely transformed the room. The best part about it is that the wallpaper is so heavy duty, you can stick it over and over again if you mess up, which I did a lot. Tip: watch the installation guide video before you begin, there is a little trick to how to smooth it out while peeling the back – it almost looks like you are doing a ‘wax on wax off’ motion. Once you get the hang of that, the install is actually really easy. One more tip, if you have any holes or dents in your walls from previous lighting or anything else that was removed, take the time to patch it. There are a few tiny areas where I can see the old light fixture screws were in the wall. It probably wont be noticeable to most, but if you are a perfectionist like me, it may haunt you for life.

Moving on! The vanity I chose is brass and the company also sells a marble sink to go with it. You can see it here in my design concept.

To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the sink that they sell with the vanity. I wanted it to be a little more luxurious. So, I took a trip to the granite shop, and picked out an absolutely stunning piece of Quartzite slab. It was a remnant which saved the budget a lot. Quartzite is also a lot more durable than marble, and for a main floor bath in a home with kids, I need durable. I asked to make it a 4″ apron front sink, and miter the edges together. I also added a curved shape to the backsplash, to counter the straight lines in the wallpaper.

Installation of the sink was supposed to have happened already, but we had a couple of issues that caused a delay. Most important lesson, and if you get this particular vanity do listen up – be absolutely sure to measure for your vanity after you have installed it. I took my vanity measurements from the website, ordered the sink, and realized after that it was completely off. I had to saw (well actually my dear husband had to saw) several inches off of the brass in order to have the sink flush to the wall. When they came back to install, we still had a small gap between the wall and backsplash that would need to use epoxy to secure. So now our sink install will happen towards the end of the month. You live you learn I guess!

Other than that, I am sourcing a trunk that I will use for supplies like toilet paper and garbage bags. I am also debating on whether I want a small shelving unit where I can add some decorative objects and floral. Since it is a long and narrow space, I think I could add this functional design feature without making it too cramped.

Stay tuned for my weekly updates and be sure to head over the the ORC website to view all of the other entries!

One Room Challenge Week 1: Powder Bathroom Plans

Hello! Today I am excited to share I will be joining in as a guest designer for my very first One Room Challenge! If you haven’t heard of the ORC, it is a bi-annual event showcasing 20 designers and guest participants as they transform one room of their home. Starting today, every week for the next six weeks, everyone will share their progress and updates on the room!

If you are here from the One Room Challenge site, welcome! I’m Zahra, and I am so excited to be joining in as a guest this season. My design philosophy is that every great room should consist of four things: Something old, something new, something vintage, and something uniquely you.

I first learned of this challenge from one of my favorite interior design bloggers, Alisa Bovino – I followed along as she did one of her rooms and it was so much fun to see the process, that I thought I would try to do it too!

The room I chose to makeover is our powder bathroom. A little background: our home was built in 1916, and even though it has been renovated, details like the brick chimney and original hardwood floors have (thankfully) been preserved.

Here is the before:

First, what I love about the room is that it has the gorgeous brick from the original fireplace, it is pretty spacious (albeit narrow) for a powder bath, and I appreciate the original doors and hardwood floors and trim.

My vision for this space is to make it a bold statement. A few years ago I visited New Orleans and I fell so deep in love – the art, music, food! Most of all, I fell in love with their style – the mix of traditional and whimsical, old and new, glamorous and eclectic. I want my entire home to feel like that (one day!) but for now we will focus on the powder bath.

My first step will be to swap out the pedestal sink for a vanity with more of a vintage vibe. I want there to be a mix of metals, including brass. I will also change the wallpaper to something with a little more of a bold story. In the end I hope it will be a little masculine, a little feminine, and overall a lot more interesting.

Here is mood board I created with the actual wallpaper and mirror I plan to use. The framed pictures I picked up from a street artist during my visit to New Orleans.

I’m excited to share more of this room makeover with you!

XO,

Zahra

Fall Neutrals

Even though it doesn’t feel like Fall, at least we can dress like it.

At first glance wearing neutrals may seem a little boring or (god forbid) even basic, but the trick to elevate your look is to pick and pair interesting shapes and textures together.

Scroll down to read my outfit formulas for three anything-but-basic neutral looks for transitioning into Fall.

Pleated pants + Crop Top + Sandals + Blazer

I like to juxtapose masculine pleated dad-pants with a fitted crop knit top and some dainty footwear. Catch a breeze in this not quite Fall weather in some kitten heeled sandals and a crop knit top, but keep a blazer on hand for when the sun goes down. If you aren’t a crop type of gal, just tuck in your top and you are set.

Turtleneck + Black Denim (on Sale!) + Boots (on Sale!) + Leather Jacket

I always feel instantly cooler in a ‘model off duty’ type of way when I wear nearly all black, combat boots, and a leather jacket.

Feminine Top + High Waist Jeans (similar under $100) + Slide Pumps

A pretty blouse and high waist denim is timeless and chic. These nude pumps are actually slides with a twist detail that adds interest – (and also makes them easier to kick off at the end of a long day)

Thank you for visiting!

XO,

Zahra

Video: Get Ready With Me ~ Home Decor Plans + Summer Makeup

My favorite summer makeup look and the city that is the inspiration for ALL of my future home decor

Hey guys! After a brief hiatus, I’m back on YouTube! I’m a little rusty though it seems, because in this video I forgot to turn on my microphone – whoops! Anyone who shoots video with a DLSR knows how terrible the camera audio can be. I freak out a little bit at the end of the video when I realized it, but after watching the whole thing, I realized it wasn’t all that bad! (I didn’t edit out my freak out, so I hope you can at least get a laugh out of my pain.)

In this video I’m sharing my summer makeup favorites, including the foundation that I get asked about constantly, a new blush that gives the perfect pop of orangey pink to the apples of your cheeks, and my pick for best summer lipstick.

I hope you enjoy! If you do, don’t forget to hit that like button, and subscribe to my channel so you never miss a new video.

Some of the products used:

12 Easy Outfit Ideas To Copy Now + Introducing the #shoppedmycloset challenge

About a month ago while unpacking yet another box of clothes that I haven’t worn in years but also can’t seem to part with, I realized I had been wearing the same yoga pants for days on end while letting so many of my gorgeous real clothes stay folded away, untouched and unloved. I read somewhere that we only wear 20% of our wardrobe – and for me and my yoga pant addiction, that even sounds a little generous. I think it stems from childhood, when my mom used to save our ‘nice clothes’ for special occasions, and we wore only our crappy play clothes every day. Sometimes, we would outgrow the nice clothes before even getting a chance to wear them!

As a style enthusiast, I enjoy getting dressed and wearing nice clothing. I also feel much better when I’ve taken the time to put on a nice outfit on, and do a little hair and makeup. I’m right there with Tom Ford when he said ‘dressing well is a form of good manners’.

The Challenge

To solve my dilemma of feeling blah in my everyday yoga pants, while simultaneously feeling guilty for not wearing my real clothes – I challenged myself to shop my closet and wear a new outfit every single day. For anyone who doesn’t work in an office, you know how difficult this challenge can be. The outfits aren’t at all fancy, my only rule is: no workout clothes. Check out the slideshow below to see a few of my recent outfits, and read the caption for details on the look and styling tips.

The Result

Overall I *loved* doing this challenge and I am going to keep it up as long as I can. It’s sort of like working out, there were some days I wasn’t in the mood at all, but once I did it I was glad that I did. If you want to join me and shop your own closet, do it! If you decide to post it, use the #shoppedmycloset hashtag too – I’ll be looking out for it!

(To catch up on all of my daily #shoppedmycloset outfits, follow me on Instagram and check out the ‘Style’ highlight.)

Thanks so much for visiting as always! Be sure to subscribe so that you never miss a post

xx – Z

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    Five Simple Ways To Practice Self-Care

    Today’s post was inspired by mental health awareness month back in may, which is when this post would have been extremely relevant and timely, but as goes my life motto these days, its better late than never!

    We live in this world full of people and circumstances that are out of our control, and we can’t exactly isolate ourselves from every thing or person that gets us down, right? So that is why its critical we need to make time for self-care. Self-care may be a trendy word at the moment, but it has always been a basic human need, and it always will be.

    I often get messages asking me how I balance it all and how do I always seem so happy and relaxed. My answer to that is, I don’t balance it all, and I’m not always happy and relaxed – but I do my best! 

    So here are some of the things I do:

    1. Go for a walk. I love getting outside and breathing fresh air, it instantly improves my mood. I go in the mornings with my dog, before the kids wake up. It is like a meditation for me to be outside when it is so quiet all I hear are the birds chirping.
    2. Journaling – Writing down my feelings, especially the difficult ones, at the very least helps me figure out how to handle whatever it is I’m going through. It has given me major insight into my own self, what motivates me and what fears I have. One particularly rough day, I wrote down all of the thoughts I had about myself that moment, and some of them were such harsh criticisms that when I read it again I actually felt bad for me. Journaling helps me look at myself from the outside in, giving me a whole different perspective to consider.
    3. Exercise – Sweating and pushing myself is the best way to get out of my own head and clear my mind. Most of this year I’ve been slacking in the workout area, getting back into it now feels amazing. I honestly forgot how good I feel after. I wake up early before the kids and do about 30-45 minute workout. Per week I aim for 2-3 days of resistance training using body weight and dumbells. If I am able to, I like to add two days of yoga, dance, or any other movement I enjoy. I found I am able to stay motivated after I joined a few girlfriends together in an instagram group dedicated to wellness – we message each other every time we do something good for ourselves – like a workout, a walk, or meditation. Even when I wasn’t adding to their conversation, just reading their notes made me want to be a part of it!
    4. Grooming – Taking care of my outward appearance is important for my self-image. Getting my hair done, nails done, facials, all of it is important to me.  As women we aren’t supposed to act like we care about our looks, or else we are considered shallow and self-centered by society.  However, we are also just supposed to look like we magically woke up like Beyonce in a snapchat filter. Taking out some time to feel like a princess is something I do for me regularly, without any guilt or shame attached.
    5. Date Night – Making time for dates and romance. It is so easy to let life, kids, work get in the way of your relationship – especially when you’ve been with the same person for a while. Making time for you and your significant other a real priority is such an important way to care for yourself – we all need to feel loved right?! Every time Tom and I make time to go out to dinner alone, or go to a concert or movie, we remember how much we actually enjoy each other’s company.

    My Favorite Dainty Gold Earrings

    My love of fine jewelry was genetically inherited from my mother. As a kid I remember going to visit her safe deposit box every time there was an event that called for jewelry, (and there were many!). I would drool over all of the shiny gold and sparkly baubles she owned. Each piece in her collection of vintage and new jewelry had a story behind it, each one special and unique. I even got my ears pierced as a baby and wore the same dainty gold hoop earrings for most of my childhood. That was the first piece in my growing collection that I hope to share with my Sophia one day.

    The newest addition to my jewelry collection are these gorgeous gold earrings by New York based sustainable jewelry line AU-Rate. They are sophisticated, elegant, and truly unique. I love that you can style them a few ways by pulling the earring shorter or longer, creating multiple looks. The entire line is absolutely stunning, and if that weren’t enough, they are also ethically sourced and sustainably produced, with a strong emphasis put on both the quality and design.

    I took my new bling out for a spin on a date night a few nights ago, and I think it really elevated my otherwise simple outfit – even Tom admired them and asked me how they keep from falling out of my ears! I think no outfit is truly complete without a little jewelry. It’s like the icing on the proverbial cake – which also just so happens to be my favorite part of cake!

    Let me know in the comments below if you are more of a clothes, bags, shoes, or jewelry person (like me!)

    Links to everything else I’m wearing can be found below the images.

    Thank you for stopping by, as always! If you like this post, consider subscribing so you can receive updates every time a new post is live. (I’ll never spam you, promise!)You can also follow me on instagram for more!

    Note: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Nakturnal 

    Necklace | Pants: Iro (thrifted from Material World but here is a similar style) | Cami: Rebecca Taylor (Similar Style) | Shoes

    More similar styles:

    Our New Forever Home + 7 Moving Tips I Wish I Knew

    I can’t even believe I am actually typing this but, as of now we have officially moved in to our new home! Moving an entire house is hard enough, but moving with kids is chaos. When we first started looking for homes, Tom and I had two completely different ideas of what we wanted. I wanted to live in the city or very close to it, and Tom is a complete suburban boy who hates to deal with city traffic and parking. I wanted an old home with tons of character and I was willing to give up on square footage for a piece of history, and Tom was set on having a spacious open concept home. Tom wanted lots of nature, a big yard, and a quiet street, something I liked too, but not enough to live far away from civilization (Chicago).

    After we sold our home in less than a week, we were in a huge rush to find a place to move. We saw tons of homes and we didn’t agree on anything. We argued a ton, and there may have also been some silent treatment going on. We were packing up and looking at potential homes non-stop, all this going on while fasting during Ramadan. One day after a particularly long day of house hunting, I literally broke down and just cried out of frustration, and probably a little bit of hunger too. I cried and prayed to find something we both loved and that we could make our forever home. After all that crying, I felt a wave of relief and I decided I’m just not going to stress about it any more.

    We found our dream home the next day. 

    The place we ended up with wasn’t in the city but it is walking distance to a train station and a cute downtown area. It was built in 1916 but it was completely renovated (with historical accuracy) so we got additional space and the convenience of new windows, plumbing, and hvac. We are on a quiet street right next to a nature trail. I’m completely thrilled with the space, but it is going to be a while before we are fully unpacked and each room is personalized to our tastes. Since we don’t plan on moving ever again (if we can help it!) we are going to take our time and do it right. I’ll be sharing my room makeovers as we go – stay tuned!  For a tour of our new home, visit the ‘Home’ Highlight on my instagram page.

    I learned a lot from this move, mostly what I could have done better to make the transition smoother. Read on for seven tips I have for your next move!

    Moving Tips (that I learned the hard way):

    1. Pack a box of Kitchen Essentials with things you use daily and bring that with you, in your own car, on your move-in date. In a sea of moving boxes, that one box you desperately need will be impossible to find. Include a frying pan, a few glasses, bowls, plates, spoons, etc. Basically anything you’d find in an extended stay hotel kitchen. After a week of take out three times a day because we couldn’t find silverware or a frying pan, we couldn’t wait to be able to cook our own meals.
    2. Label everything clearly. This one is obvious but somehow we still had boxes that said ‘Master Bedroom’ without any hint of what was inside. When there are 20 boxes that say the same thing, you can imagine the frustration. Especially necessities like bedding, put an entire bed in one box so you aren’t looking for a sheet from one box and a pillow in another.
    3. Declutter as much as humanly possible before you even start to pack. I spent an entire *year* Marie Kondo’ing my place and I still have way too much junk I don’t need. I sold quite a bit of my stuff on Facebook Marketplace, and I even donated a lot of things. Yet I still have tubs of miscellaneous items from my old basement storage that is now in my new basement storage. Le sigh.
    4. For parents, plan ahead for childcare on moving day, and for at least the first few days in the new home while you get settled in. Unpacking and running errands like school registrations are much easier when you don’t have a toddler getting into unsafe boxes of tools, or trying to run outside all day long.
    5. Ask for a fixed bid. Most moving companies charge hourly, and we ended up paying significantly more than our quoted price. Note: You do have to have an idea of what your cost would be in order to go this route. If you are doing the hourly rate, save yourself some time and money by disassembling your beds and tables ahead of time and wrapping everything up together with stretch wrap.
    6. For packing materials, check facebook marketplace – where we ended up giving away all of ours. We didn’t realize we could do that and we bought everything ourselves. Facebook can be a hit or miss so if you are buying, we found we got the best deals from Amazon and Home Depot.
    7. Be sure to measure your new place and any furniture you are bringing with you to ensure it will fit. Do not ‘eyeball it’ or say you will ‘figure it out later’ like we did. Not only did the move take longer because of our error, we currently have a 4 piece sectional sofa that doesn’t fit, an extra sofa from our basement that didn’t fit through the stairs, and ANOTHER sofa that was in our den, something we don’t have here- so 3 sofas that we DO NOT WANT are currently in our living room. Don’t be like us.

    What other moving tips do you swear by? Share below!

    Ramadan Reflections

    Top | Jeans | Shoes

    For the approximately 1.6 Billion Muslims around the world, this is the Holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims abstain from food and drink from sun up to sun down for 30 days. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam – the others are Faith, Prayer, Charity, and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. This year I’ve been journaling a little every morning after Sehri (the morning meal) and I thought it would be fun to share with you some reflections I’ve made from fasting in Ramadan, now that we are finally in the home stretch.

     For me the hardest part about fasting isn’t the lack of food and water, but the mental challenges that go with it. First of all just waking up at the crack of dawn to eat before fasting all day shakes me out of my normal routine. I notice all of my mindless habits, like snacking to procrastinate dealing with something, or snacking out of boredom, or sadness, or happiness (I snack a lot). The point is I am forced to become much more aware and intentional in my actions.

    On the same note, I’ve noticed my mental attitude has a direct effect on how easy or difficult fasting is for me. If I go about my day begrudgingly fasting, in victim mode thinking about how hard it is, I will really struggle. If I do it with positive intention, and a goal of getting stronger spiritually, it honestly becomes a pleasure. It has taken me years to get to this stage where I can actually enjoy and find pleasure in fasting. Knowing that ultimately I am the one in control of how I feel, is incredibly empowering. This mind over matter attitude could improve so many other aspects of my life – fitness, work, relationships, money, everything.

    One of the things I struggle with most while fasting is trying not to lose my temper, and avoiding negativity and gossip. The other day my kids were driving me up the wall but I was so wiped out from fasting I didn’t even have the energy to yell at them so I took some deep breaths and turned on a podcast I liked and just immersed myself in other stuff. What happened after that was they eventually stopped doing whatever it was that made me crazy, (like they always do) and I didn’t have to go in to full on psycho mom mode, which is something that I always regret later. Gossip is also something that is so hard to avoid, but I’ve learned when I keep quiet and don’t add any fuel to the fire, the people gossiping with me usually lose interest and change the subject.

    After the initial excitement of Ramadan wears off and it’s just day after day of sitting with myself, slightly weaker trying to be as productive as possible (and failing miserably), this is the hardest time for me. It forces me to humble myself and slow down, when my ego just wants to keep achieving. My ego is constantly being challenged this month, when I’m not able to distract myself with food and drink for long stretches, I find myself feeling uncomfortable, emotional, and vulnerable. Learning to sit with myself and feel all the feelings gives me the space to really work on myself and become more conscious.

    I first heard the statement ‘you consume much more than food’ a while ago from Deepak Chopra but it really set in the other day while I was fasting. Eating is just one of the many things we consume. Everything you see, hear, touch, or smell, you are consuming. When I’m focusing on consuming things that will raise my spiritual vibration like laughing with my friends or family, praying, mediating, or taking a walk outside feeling the warm sunshine or smelling the flowers  – I feel way more ‘full’ in every sense of the word.

    I’m definitely looking forward to going back to enjoying all of life’s indulgences again soon – but this month of Ramadan has given me a lot of gifts I will hold on to forever.

     

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    all images and content, unless otherwise noted, are property of zahra sandberg. Please request permission prior to use of any of my images. if you have further questions, email me at zahra{at}lovezahra{dot}com.