FRIDAY Q&A: WHETHER WE’LL HAVE A BABY NURSE, MY GO-TO WEDDING AND BABY GIFTS, PLANNING AN AFRICAN SAFARI, AND MORE

Happy Friday! We are spending the weekend at home and hoping to cross off a few more tasks on our third trimester to do list! I can’t believe my due date is in two weeks (!) and I’m eager to do some major organizing in the nursery as well as install our car seat and have it inspected to make sure it’s ready when we head to the hospital. I’ve honestly been feeling pretty wiped during the day (probably a factor of it being impossible to fall asleep and sleep through the night!) so I’m excited to have Will home so I can boss him around from the sofa… only kind of kidding. 😂 I hope you all have a great one!

design darling friday q&a

1. Will you have a baby nurse?

Oh man, I wish! We financially prioritized buying a house and tackling a bunch of house projects so there’s honestly not much left over in the budget for professional help right now. Hopefully we won’t regret that decision! Thankfully my husband will be taking some paternity leave and my parents live right down the street — I hope that will be enough to get us through those first few sleep-deprived months before we hammer out a longer term plan for childcare going forward.

2. What’s your go-to gift when someone gets married? And when they have a baby?

I always order wedding gifts off the couple’s registry. Unless you know the bride or groom extremely well and have an over-the-top thoughtful gift idea you’ve been dreaming up, I think it’s most considerate to give them something they’ve actually asked for! For baby gifts, I’ve always either picked something off the baby registry or sent one of these cashmere sweaters — they’re such a luxurious and impractical gift that you might not buy yourself, but who doesn’t love a baby in cashmere?

3. What are you planning to use as your diaper bag?

I ordered two of these LL Bean bags in the medium size with regular handles with the baby’s name and monogram. I’d originally ordered two of these mini diaper organizer inserts to place inside, but they were so ridiculously small that I decided to return them and just place diapers, wipes, etc. loosely inside. We’ll see how this system works for us and course-correct if need be — I can always find a use for another boat bag if they wind up making terrible diaper bags or if I decide I want the size large instead of the medium (which I debated for an excessively long time before Will graciously convinced me I was massively overthinking a $30 purchase…). If you’re looking for something more luxe, I love the idea of using a Goyard tote as a diaper bag — so chic but roomy and easy to keep clean!

4. What paint colors are you using in the new house?

Everything we’ve painted so far has been Ultra Pure White in satin on the walls and Ultra Pure White in high gloss on the trim, windows, and doors. We inherited many shades of off-white and yellow when we moved in and painting everything a bright white was the fastest and cheapest way to make everything feel fresh and clean! I imagine I’ll want to branch out from all white walls at some point in the future, but for now I love having a blank canvas throughout our largely undecorated house!

5. Can you share some pieces you are eyeing for the rooms you still need to decorate?

That would be all of them! 😂 Seriously nothing outside of the nursery is going to be properly decorated until well into 2020 at least. I’m currently browsing and bookmarking living room sofas (do we like this or this?), armchairs (love these), and low headboards (possibly something like this). I’ll be sharing many more options we’re considering in the months to come as I love getting your opinions and it will be fun for me to daydream about decorating while I’m caring for a newborn this fall!

6. What’s the first trip you’re going to take as a family of three?

I’m not sure as we don’t have anything planned! I know we will plan to spend most of next summer with my family on Nantucket but I really have no idea how we’ll feel about traveling with bébé before then so we’re just going to play it by ear! We are planning to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas in Connecticut this year so I imagine most of our weekends will be spent at home until the new year and then we’ll go from there. If anyone has any baby-friendly travel recommendations (either in New England or a quick flight away), I’m all ears!

7. What books are you reading right now?

I listened to the audiobook version of Daisy Jones & The Six while I was painting our living room and OMG, it is fantastic! I had read one of the author’s other books last year and didn’t love it so I’m not sure what convinced me to give this a shot, but I was blown away by the clever narrative structure and inventiveness of the plot — I really haven’t read anything else like it. Will and I are also revisiting the Harry Potter series through Jim Dale’s audiobooks on Audible and I can’t recommend them more highly. We are currently a couple hours into the sixth book (we usually listen for 20-30 minutes as we get ready for bed!) and they just get better and better! P.S. You can always see what I’ve read recently in the first task on my 101 in 1001 list!

8. Can you show us how you decorate for autumn?

I will be doing very little decorating this year between all the projects at the new house and getting ready for baby boy to arrive in (hopefully) a couple weeks, but next year I’d love to recreate last year’s decor for our front porch! 

9. How to save and splurge on furniture while still in a rental and trying to save for a down payment?

This is a tricky one! Of course you want to put as much as possible into saving for a future home, but you still need a place to sit, eat, and sleep when you’re renting and it winds up being more expensive in the long term when you buy inexpensive, lower quality items you’ll need to replace in a few years (a mistake I’ve made more times than I care to admit!). Pieces like a well-made sofa or armchairs, dresser, bedside tables, and table lamps will work no matter where you move to next and should last you many years if you make quality a priority. Pieces where you might be more constrained by measurements (it’s hard to know how many you’ll be able to seat around a table without seeing your future dining room, for instance) are purchases I would move to the bottom of your priority list until you know where you’ll be living next. 

10. We are hoping to take a big African safari trip in the next 1-2 years. How did you plan yours?

I can’t recommend it more highly! We were heavily inspired by our friends Parker and Zach’s honeymoon and followed their recommendations on where to stay in South Africa, then penciled in the rest of our trip with a hotel that was on my bucket list and recommendations from our travel agent that took us from South Africa, through Tanzania, and finally to Kenya. I highly, highly recommend working with a travel agent if you’re planning a safari — it’s not the kind of trip that’s easy to book yourself on Kayak and it gave us great peace of mind to travel with a detailed itinerary and contact information should we have encountered any unexpected travel emergencies. You can see all the recaps of our African honeymoon here!

FRIDAY Q&A: THE MOST THOUGHTFUL WEDDING GIFT WE RECEIVED, BUDGETING FOR OUR NURSERY, HOW I HAVE ENERGY FOR HOUSE PROJECTS AT NINE MONTHS PREGNANT, AND MORE

Happy Friday! I’m extra excited for this weekend because we have big plans to move into our master bedroom after several weeks of construction. It won’t be properly decorated for a long while but we’ve had our king bed squeezed into one of the guest bedrooms since we moved in and it’s going to feel so nice to have a place for everything and everything in its place. We’re also having wallpaper hung in Will’s office today so depending on whether that gets wrapped up today or not, we might also be able to unpack his massive book collection onto the bookshelves in there as well. Every box we break down gets this place one step closer to feeling like home and after a couple weeks of slowed progress, I am giddy thinking about how much we could have finished by the time Sunday evening rolls around! I hope you all have a great one.

design darling friday q&a

1. I’m getting married in one month! Any advice for this month and the day of?

Congratulations! I know it sounds impossible with all the last-minute planning that pops up, but I would just say relax as much as possible, keep things in perspective, and soak up every second with your family and friends both in the weeks leading up to your wedding and the day of. Your energy as the bride is contagious and if you’re up dancing and having fun, everyone else will be too!

2. What was the most thoughtful wedding gift you received?

This will come as no surprise if you’ve seen our wedding video, but my sister Reilly writes the most beautiful handwritten notes for special occasions and I can’t think of a more personal keepsake than that! She also handmade the monogrammed beverage boat we had at our welcome party and it’s something Will and I will treasure forever.

3. How much did you budget for the nursery updating? It looks picture perfect! 

Thank you! I didn’t set a total budget for myself so much as I tried to save money on other projects (like painting rooms ourselves vs. hiring professionals) in order to order big ticket items like my dream wallpaper. So little of our house will be remotely “finished” before the baby arrives so it was important to me to make this one tiny room feel like home, even if it means we’ll be living without closet shelves or a living room sofa for several months. 🙂

4. Does your husband get paternity leave?

He works at a start-up (you can read more about his job in this post) so there isn’t really a set paternity leave in place, but right now his plan is to take off 2-3 weeks and then work from home 1-2 days a week for a little while thereafter. Thankfully my parents are literally down the street from our new house (although they have their hands full with eight girls of their own!) so baby and I will be in good hands! 

5. What were your home must-haves? Were they different from Will’s?

I think all our ideas of what was a “must-have” changed a lot over the course of our home search. We realized over time that we could afford either a move-in ready house with three bedrooms or a house with more square footage that would require renovations down the road. We had put in offers on a new construction house and an older home before the offer on this house was accepted, and now that we’re here I’m of course convinced that this is where we were meant to be all along. It will be interesting to see what our must-haves are as we tackle future projects like renovating the kitchen and fixing up the backyard! 

6. Do you think this is your “forever” home?

It seems impossible to imagine “forever” at 30 and 31, but we plan to be in this house for at least ten years. As I mentioned above, we decided to buy a larger, older home vs. a smaller, newer one so we would have maximum optionality in terms of renovating and staying put vs. having to move in search of more square footage. 

7. How do you have the energy for all these house projects at nine months pregnant?

There were certain projects like finishing the floors and getting a fresh coat of paint on the walls that were non-negotiable for me to feel like we were moving into a clean space and able to start preparing for baby, so I honestly didn’t feel I had much of a choice. I was pretty stubborn about insisting we paint as much as possible ourselves (I can’t stand to pay for something I think I can do 90% as well as a professional!) and now that it’s behind us, I’m really happy we powered through and saved the money. I’ve definitely noticed a big drop in my energy levels from our move-in day when I was 30 weeks pregnant vs. now at 36 weeks, but I was feeling pretty great for a while there and it felt amazing to make tangible progress after so many months of waiting and planning!

8. What has your design process been as you renovate the new house? It looks gorgeous!

Thank you! We got quotes from different contractors before we moved in and then looked over our finances to figure out which projects we could afford to tackle right away and which ones we’d need more time to save up for. We decided to prioritize refinishing the floors because that would be much easier to do before we moved in, painting as many rooms as possible because it made things feel more clean even in rooms that won’t have furniture for a while, and moving walls in our master bedroom because we needed a space that would fit our king bed. (You can see the full list of our first round of house projects here!) I’ve done very little designing/decorating outside of getting the nursery organized and placing our existing furniture throughout the house — we’re happy to live in transition for a while if it means doing things the right way the first time vs. making a bunch of cheap/quick decisions we’ll regret later on. 

9. Is the Serena & Lily crib good quality? It’s part engineered wood so I was hesitant on it.

Yes, we’re really happy with it! It’s extremely sturdy and I love the look of it in our nursery. I will say it was kind of a beast to assemble (definitely a two-person job!) and it looks like we will have to disassemble most of it in order to adjust the mattress height as the baby is able to start standing up. I know they have it on display in some of their stores (we looked at it in person in Dallas before ordering!) so that might allay any of your concerns!

10. Any navy dresses you’d recommend for an engagement shoot?

It really depends what style you’re most comfortable in — I promise you’ll be happier with the pictures if you feel like yourself while taking them! Our engagement photos were on the casual side because that’s how we both feel most comfortable, so I love the idea of something like this, this, or this. 

FRIDAY Q&A: THE BIGGEST PART OF OUR WEDDING BUDGET, WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR IN A HOUSE, WHETHER RORY KNOWS I’M PREGNANT, AND MORE

Happy Friday! Did this week drag on for anyone else? It might have been all the rain last weekend and early in the week but I have been ready for today since Monday. We have an event for our local hospital tonight and then we hop on a plane for my brother Camden’s graduation from Miami of Ohio! I’m excited to see the campus and celebrate his foray into the real world (but not before one last summer together on Nantucket!). The weather is supposed to be amazing and I think a little vitamin D would do us all good. I’m not sure any of my Q&As can top Will’s Q&A from last week but I love knowing what you guys are curious about and sharing a little more about our lives in these posts. I hope you have a great weekend!

design darling friday q&a

1. How is your Grandy? Your interview with her is one of my favorite posts!

Aww, she’s good! She keeps a more active social calendar than we do which I think is what keeps her young! And she’s very excited about becoming a great-Grandy this fall. She’ll be on Nantucket for some portion of the summer so we’re excited to spend some quality time with her out there! 

2. My wedding is two weeks away (so surreal!). Advice for the time leading up to the big day?

Congratulations! My only advice is to enjoy every moment with your soon-to-be husband, family, and friends. All the little details will fall into place (and you’ll hardly remember any that don’t!) so just savor this uninterrupted time to be with your favorite people. It’s cliché but the whole wedding will go by so quickly — make as many memories and take as many mental snapshots as you possibly can! 

3. What was your #1 priority or the biggest part of your wedding budget and was it worth it?

The biggest expense for our wedding was by far our reception venue (which included the space, food, and alcohol). The location is sentimental to us and walking distance from the chapel where we were married so it was worth every penny! 

4. What are you most looking forward to about becoming a mom?

I am so excited to meet our little guy! We had our 20 week anatomy scan this week and it was incredible to see his little arms and legs moving around in there. There are so many things I’m excited for once he gets here — soaking in all the newborn cuddles, introducing him to our family and friends, dressing him in cute and impractical outfits, seeing his personality come to life, celebrating our first Christmas with him, bringing him to Nantucket for the first time, watching him learn to crawl and walk, and about a million other little moments that will be so much more magical with him in our lives! 

5. Can you eventually see yourself moving to Nantucket year-round?

Ha, definitely not! Eventually we’d love to get to the point in both our careers where we can spend the full summer out there with our kids and extended family, especially now that my parents are both working in schools and have the summers off. We love visiting for the occasional off-season weekend but I’m not sure any of us could survive a single Nantucket winter without going stir-crazy!

6. What kind of details are you guys looking for in a home? Architecture, layout, etc.

I love traditional New England architecture — colonials, Victorians, anything with a shingled exterior! I love details like beadboard, mouldings, and wainscoting but I know we could put that in ourselves if we fell in love with a house without it. We’re fairly flexible in terms of interior layout — we’d love a kitchen that’s open to the family room like we have now, for instance, but we’d definitely be willing to budge on that if a house had everything else on our list!

7. How do you feel about different luxury bags — Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton?

I don’t love anything with a large logo so I’m probably not a Louis Vuitton girl, but I’d love to own a Chanel or Hermes bag someday! But this bag is at the top of my luxury handbag wishlist.

8. Maybe a prying question but were your parents okay with you and Will living together before marriage?

Yes, they were! I remember telling my parents Will and I were planning to move in together at the end of my lease (when we wound up moving to Dallas) and they responded, “We’d be surprised if you didn’t” and immediately went back to painting the fence at our house on Nantucket. Very underwhelming reaction! 😂 But I know that can be a big hurdle in other relationships so I feel fortunate we both had the support of our families in taking that next step.

9. Do you think Rory knows you’re pregnant?

I go back and forth! Any time he’s being extra cuddly Will insists he knows but I’ve heard of friends’ dogs who growl protectively when anyone gets near their mom’s belly and Rory is definitely not on that level. I think he’s probably in for a rude awakening but I know he’ll enjoy all the extra toys around the house!

10. I am going to Nantucket for the first time with my parents in June. They will be celebrating their anniversary and wanted to go to a nice restaurant (with me 3rd wheeling haha). Any recommendations? I was reading your Nantucket guide and wasn’t sure if The Chanticleer or Cru would be good choices? Any insight would be appreciated! 

So fun! The Chanticleer is a great parent-friendly pick as it’s upscale and generally fairly quiet. Cru has delicious food but it can be a bit of a scene unless you sit outside, so if your parents can’t stand loud noise or a rowdy bar scene, that might not be the best spot! The other place I’d look into is Topper’s at the Wauwinet — the restaurant can send their boat to pick you up in town and it’s nice to get off the beaten path a bit!

FRIDAY Q&A: WHAT’S SURPRISED ME ABOUT PREGNANCY SO FAR, INITIAL THOUGHTS FOR THE NURSERY, NOT WEARING WHITE TO WEDDING EVENTS, AND MORE

Happy Friday! Today is Will’s birthday and the start of my favorite three months of the year where I get to pretend we’re two years apart instead of 15 months. Especially this year when he’s turning 31 and I get to hold on to 29 for a few more months. 😉 We’re having brunch as a family this weekend as my dad’s birthday is May 5 and my brother Grayson’s birthday is May 6… so many Tauruses in my life! It was a fun week on the blog between our gender reveal and all your super helpful baby registry tips. I hope you all have a great weekend!

design darling friday q&a

1. I recently got engaged so I’m going to have to go back to all your wedding posts for inspiration! What are your thoughts on the bride only wearing white to every wedding-related event? Is this a newer trend or older tradition? I feel like I’ve only noticed it in the past few years, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before, haha. Obviously I know I can wear whatever I want, but I’m wondering if now it’s strange NOT to wear white to my shower, rehearsal dinner, etc. But I also feel like I might want to just wear a cute sundress in another color to the more casual events!

Congratulations! I wore a navy gingham dress to my bridal shower and a blue striped dress to our rehearsal dinner so I definitely don’t think you have to wear white to every wedding event! The most important thing is to wear whatever makes you feel your best — whether that’s bright pink or head-to-toe sequins, it’s 100% your moment!

2. What has surprised you most about being pregnant so far?

Having hyperemesis gravidarum really threw me for a loop! My mom had zero nausea with all four pregnancies so I really hadn’t prepared myself for morning sickness let alone constant nausea and vomiting. Apparently HG affects up to just 3% of pregnancies so I always feel a special bond when other women with HG reach out and say they know what I’m going through! I know it will all be worth it when I get to hold our baby for the first time but I’d love to get lucky and experience a lot less nausea with baby #2! 

3. How are you feeling? I hope you’ve been feeling less nauseous!

Thank you for checking in! I’m taking Diclegis first thing in the morning and again at night so my nausea and vomiting are under much better control than they were in my first trimester, but I do throw up if I miss a single dose or even wait too long (talking more than 15 minutes after I wake up) to take the first pill in the morning. My friend Julia suggested acupuncture as a supplement or possible replacement to the medication so I think I’m going to give that a try next week!

4. Are you leaning towards a classic or more trendy baby name?

We will likely choose a family name (probably the first name from my family and the middle name from Will’s or vice versa) but I still LOVE looking at baby name lists and hearing what new parents name their babies! Would love to hear your favorites in the comments!

5. I know this is a broad decor question but any couches you can recommend?

I love, love, love our Pottery Barn sectional (this one in the cadet navy twill) and imagine their other models are equally comfortable (though I’m a big believer in testing them out in store before buying!). I love the look of this one and this one!

6. Would love to see spring wedding guest dress suggestions, ideally around or under $250. 

Maybe it’s just because I’m pregnant right now but I love the forgiving fit of this $100 style! If you want something more colorful, I love this bow shoulder dress, this color blocked style, and this flouncy number. And I nearly always prefer solids to prints but something about this print is giving me all the heart eyes!

7. Any initial nursery pieces you’re eyeing? I’m having a boy too!

Congratulations! I’m holding off on ordering any furniture until we know where we’ll be living but that hasn’t stopped me from browsing! I love, love, love this crib — my mother-in-law texted me a photo a couple months ago and then we went to see it in their store when we were in Dallas for Easter. It is beautiful in person, a little beachy, and just perfectly my style! We’re likely to use the bookshelf that’s in our dining room for books and stuffed animals but that’s about all I know as of now! I would love to wallpaper if we buy a home before he arrives but we’ll have to wait and see!

8. How do you decide which pieces of art will look best in your home?

Art is such a personal preference so if I really love something, I know I will always find a home for it! All our oversized pieces (mostly Slim Aarons prints) have lived in different places in each of the places we’ve lived — for instance, this print was first part of a gallery wall in Will’s New York living room, then above the credenza in our Dallas living room, then above a sofa in our first rental in Greenwich, and now hanging above our bed in our current home!

9. Could you do a round-up of your favorite coffee tables? Would love your ideas!

We have this square acrylic coffee table in our living room and I love that it offers a little contrast from the big, dark sectional. This one offers a similar look for less (we have the console version in our foyer and love!). I’m also crazy about all things Serena & Lily — you can’t go wrong with anything raffia, I love the natural texture of this one, and this woven coffee table would be perfect for a coastal abode,

10. It’s been raining so much lately! Any suggestions for waterproof bags and raincoats?

I am so over all this rain! I don’t think I own any waterproof bags — if it’s raining I reach for my LL Bean tote (classic, affordable, and virtually indestructible) or a pebbled leather tote like my favorite from Mark & Graham. I have a bright yellow Petit Bateau raincoat that’s now sold out but I also love this, this, and this (or this if you want to splurge!).

THREE PAIRS OF SHOES SIMILAR TO MY WEDDING SHOES

I think this has become my most asked question in nearly ten years of blogging: where can I find your wedding shoes? I wore Christian Louboutin’s Douce du Desert white satin bow heels on our wedding day a year and a half ago and sadly I can’t find them available anywhere anymore! They’re now on display in our home office and they bring back all kinds of happy memories each time I see them. I’m constantly on the lookout for similar pairs and I’ve recently found a few worth sharing!

First up are the Christian Louboutin Toubiana heels. These are by far the closest in look and feel but with a much shorter heel than the Douce du Desert pair I wore. They’re available in select sizes at Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter and selling out quickly, so I’d highly recommend scooping them up before they’re gone for good!

Next up are these Dee Keller Ellie heels, which several of you were sweet enough to send me on Instagram! These have a much more structured back than the pair I wore on our wedding day but have a similar oversized silk ribbon at the back. They are also the most affordable lookalike I’ve seen in a while so I knew I had to share!

Last but not least are these Jimmy Choo Aveline bow ankle strap sandals that I spotted on Nordstrom just this week. They currently have all sizes in stock but I’d act fast as I imagine they will go quickly! They’re very unique in that one shoe has a bow at the toe and the other shoe has a bow at the ankle, but if you’re planning a more playful wedding, these could be the perfect shoe for you!

P.S. I can’t talk wedding shoes without mentioning the heel stoppers that saved my feet on our wedding day. The best $10 I’ve ever spent!

P.P.S. Lots more bridal picks right here.

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