Tip: Repurpose

by Maura Malloy in

I visited my parents' house this week. My mom and my daughter got into a fit of laughter, the sounds of which made life worth living, I tell ya. I had my phone handy so captured a bit of it on a video... when the baby went down for the night, we watched and re-watched the video to continue laughing.


Eventually we stopped watching the video (I watched it again last night though, don't worry). And my mom pulled out a box from when I was a baby... Notes she jotted down as I hit milestones, the newspaper that hit the stands the day of my birth, and a bunch of cards from friends and family, sharing in the joy of my arrival. We read them all. We walked down memory lane together. It was the perfect end to a simple, summer day. My life is quieter these days, and it suits me.

Then my mom handed over the box to me.

Sentimental items - there are no rules for them in my world. They are a case by case basis. I knew I wanted to save my mom's notes. Tuck them into my Box of Sentiment that I keep in our basement. Go through them from time to time. But I didn't need to hold onto the cards. 

The only trouble is, I find the cards so charming and dear. They don't make cards like that anymore. Sometimes I don't like any card options I see in the store. But there is no longer time to lolly-gag about and find one that's just right because my nugget either needs to eat or sleep, people.  

Many of the cards had no writing on the inside cover. So I cut the covers off, and I'll use them to send salutations to a new round of babies. Why throw them away if they are still useful? 

What do you repurpose?

A Life Decluttered: A Case for the Two-Door Car

by Maura Malloy in

I love to walk. And – thanks to my years living in New York City – I love public transportation.

In fact, I love walking and public transportation SO MUCH, that upon moving to Indianapolis some 3.5 years ago, I was convinced I could get around this city without a car…

Silly Maura.

I mean, it can be done. I have a nice handful of biker friends. And should you find yourself located near a bus stop that takes you directly to your office, boom – you’re set. But in the cold, windy days of an Indiana winter, I had to admit that this city is sssssssssssssssspread out. And a car – it just makes sense.

It was a tough blow, guys. I am not a car person. For me, they are money pits and the opposite of an investment. I just wanted to take the subway with me to Indy. Instead, my man helped me shop for a used car that would get the job done.

We found a beauty, let me tell you. Clocking in at 180,000 miles (when we bought her), my 2001 Honda Civic has been my trusted compatriot. I never named her, but I coo and compliment her as much as I do my plants. She deserves it. She’s been good to me.

When I got pregnant, I began to fear that we’d need to upgrade. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? We both had two door cars. And my Honda, she’s a petite little thing. How could I possibly fit a car seat inside, let alone hoist it in and out? So we thought about it.

And time wore on.
And the baby purchases accrued.
AND we bought a new house…

I just didn’t care enough to add a new car to the list. So we didn’t.

My daughter is eight months old now, and we’ve been doing just fine.

Listen, I know there are car lovers out there. My husband is one of them! My point is not to bash cars, but rather to apply The Power of Pause and The Art of Conscious Consumption to every purchase – or lack thereof – that you make. Every single one. Even the big purchases. Especially the big purchases.

And what’s more, question your timeline for purchasing. Did we need a new car when I was eight weeks pregnant? Nope. Would it have been nice to have a more roomy option (that didn’t sit so low to the ground, holy God) during my third trimester? Yep.

But again, my daughter is eight months old now, and we’ve been doing just fine.

Somewhere along the line my man started to search for used station wagons. I wasn’t really interested. (Because – third time’s the charm - my daughter is eight months old now, and we’ve been doing just fine.)

But he had his reasons. He was tired of asking a buddy to borrow his pick-up for a trip to Lowe’s; he was tired of borrowing our family members’ bigger vehicles for those yearly trips to Ikea (who’s with me?); and he wanted a car that could fit a tent and gear for the epic camping trips we hope to take. That last item on his list sold me.

So we took our time. We (slash he) researched some more. The search continued.  We (slash he) found a great car. And a couple weeks ago, he traded in his sporty four-wheeler for a roomy four door. We didn't 'should' ourselves into anything. We didn't rush. And we got along just fine in the meantime.

I still drive my Honda. We’re going to hold on to her for a bit longer.



Tip: Prepping For The Return

by Maura Malloy in ,

I write about travel because I love traveling. Profound, I know. Ultimately, though, this blog is about how I keep my space(s) serene. For me, travel is not an escape from the day to day but rather just a part of life at large. I strive for a fulfilling daily life. If I dread coming home, then something's off. But, if I know I'm returning to a serene space, chances are dread is not playing into the equation. So how can I ensure that I return to a serene space?

I tidy up before I head out. Plain and simple.

This tip requires a bit of planning - giving yourself ten extra minutes (or so) prior to departure to put your space in order. I'm playing the long game, guys. I'm doing this for the sole purpose of opening the front door when I return and breathing in a sigh of relief.

Dorothy once said, "There's no place like home." Dorothy did not say, "Ugh, what a dump. Take me back to Oz." Oz was pretty awesome, let's be real! But it was also scary, life-threatening, exhausting, completely unknown -- and all she had was a picnic basket the entire time away! I mean, great packing, Dorothy! But I don't know... A picnic basket is really cutting it close. And there are certain things one just doesn't pack, no matter how large or small your bag (or basket, as it were) is. For instance: I love my coffee mug. I like returning to my coffee mug. And if it's crusty and stained from sitting on the counter for a week... I'm just grossed out. I'm not breathing in a sigh of relief. I'm annoyed.

Breaking it down: This isn't about deep cleaning. We all know there's a big difference between tidying up and cleaning up (more on that soon). I like to think of this as The Intentional Timer | Travel Edition. My tidying includes:

  • Making the bed
  • Returning possessions to their rightful place (including clothes - because you know some lie scattered about due to packing edits)
  • Cleaning dishes (or throwing them in the dishwater! A shout out to electricity!) 
  • Clearing countertops and wiping them down (both kitchen and bathroom)
  • Watering plants (is there anything sadder than thirsty, wilted greens?!)
  • Taking out the trash (if there's food bits.... or dirty diapers [trust me re the diapers; I did the research...])

Listen, we've all had those trips where we're flying out the door, barely remembering our driver's license. It's happened before and it's probably going to happen again. But if nine out of ten times I take the time to add this step into my routine, I reap the rewards. To prepare my home for myself - a Self that's probably tired from the journey away and back - is to implement yet another habit that makes the home a serene space. 

I want to want to come home. Just like Dorothy.



Serene Travels: Flying With an Infant

by Maura Malloy in ,

Well we did it, folks. We traveled with our little one and lived to tell the tale. Stating the obvious here to all those out there with children of your own, traveling with a little one is way more exhausting. The thought alone intimidated me like no other. So I put it off, and put it off, til the urge to see my dear ones far, far away overcame my intimidation. Then, I changed my perspective and the trip became a big adventure.

I posted this picture on social media, a picture that encapsulates the entirety of what we packed. (From left to right you see two smaller carry-ons [my green bag has become my daily 'diaper bag'], a stroller, a backpack and the more traditional diaper bag.) I got some questions about how we managed this.

I’m going to get specific here in a minute, but first let me emphasize The Big Picture.

I love to travel. But sometimes airports stress me out... And lugging heavy bags doesn’t exactly start my travels off with bells and whistles... And it's expensive to check baggage these days. Or, rather, I choose to spend my money elsewhere. What’s more, traveling allows me to break out of my every day routine and tackle this world pared down and unencumbered.

So, The Big Picture serves as my ultimate motivation for keeping it simple here, guys.

But let’s break it down to the nitty gritty. More specifically, I want to write about how we managed to travel on an airplane without checking any luggage yet never once feeling like we needed something we didn't pack. I didn’t think it was possible, but I sooooooooo wanted it to be possible.

[For a few suggestions on trips longer than a mere four nights away, please note the *. ]


  • We stayed with some dear friends whose child is almost two… and they still have their Pack ‘n Play. We do not even own a Pack ‘n Play, so we wouldn’t have brought one anyway, but -- no need to pack a bed. In the future should I find myself in a hotel or an airbnb, I’ll find lodging that offers this amenity, I expect. They are out there. The added fee is worth it to me, personally.


  • Per a friend’s suggestion, we ordered a car service to take us to & from the airport in New York...a car service with an infant car seat. So we didn't pack our car seat.
  • We brought our trusty stroller – which we checked (for free) at the gate. (Check with the airline you are traveling with… ours allowed strollers under 20 lbs.)
  • We also brought our Ergo baby carrier. It can be rolled up and become quite compact. (I packed it in the diaper bag)
  • We used both of these equally, I’d say. We walked a ton, but when heading into Manhattan from Brooklyn, we used the subway. I have a love affair with public transportation (more on that in an upcoming blog).


  • My husband invested in a Minaal backpack a few years ago, and we just love it. I wanted to buy one for myself too (but then I – wait for it – instituted The Power of Pause and the Art of Conscious Consumption, and I’m all for making one work for us as long as… one works for us.) We fit all our clothes (including the baby's), as well as our toiletries into it.  We rolled all our clothes, including the baby’s… including her burp clothes. Roll, roll roll away to your hearts content.
  • But let’s be real for a minute here: traveling in the summer makes for a lot less threads. (I packed a sweatshirt and socks for the baby on the airplane, but I doubt I would in the future. I was holding her the entire flight! It’s called body heat, and I ended up taking them off her. First flight ever that I wasn’t chilly.) And to be frank, my uniform of late is more minimal than ever before. I’m talking tank tops or linen button downs and my skinny jeans. I re-wear my jeans, and I’m ok with that. I wore my sneakers on the plane, and packed my flip flops. My man just wore his running sneakers. We did not get fancy on this trip, folks.

*For longer trips, pack like you are only going away for five days, and do laundry (or have it done for you), intermittently on your trip. Pack items that can mix and match to create different outfits if wearing the same thing over and over drives you crazy. Remember you can roll dresses too! But don’t pack 21 outfits, guys. Typing that just stressed me out so I can’t imagine packing that.


  • Over time, my husband and I have accumulated small little containers (I’m talking teeny tiny) that we use for our toiletries. It has made a big difference. To be clear, we didn’t BUY teeny tiny containers, we just held onto ones that we came across over time. But by now, it’s really lightened the load. We are not toiletry junkies. But I love my nighttime and morning beauty routines. I don’t wear of ton of makeup but I love layering moistures and its never more important than when traveling. Travel sized containers – they make a difference.


  • My husband brought his work computer, and it fit in the backpack. I’ve started traveling without my computer, relying on an iPad for any writing needs that might arise. 
    (I wanted a MacBook Air after years of lugging my MacBook Pro where ere I went, but then my brother-in-law sold me his used iPad. It turns out there are some awesome apps for writers, so I’m good to go. Again, to drill it into your brains as if you aren’t picking up what I’m throwing down, I instituted The Power of Pause and Art of Conscious Consumption and found a lightweight, affordable solution for this traveling writer.)
    The iPad served several purposes on this trip. And writing wasn’t the most important. The free sound machine app I downloaded proved far more important. Our baby has a sound machine at home, and the iPad is our traveling sound machine.
    THE BIG TAKE AWAY FOR THIS BULLET POINT: be it gadgets or otherwise, I always strive to pack items than can be used for multiple purposes. 
  • Diapers. Yep, we packed enough diapers for the whole trip, and had leftovers to spare. (I packed them in the diaper bag.)
    * For longer trips, I’d probably have Amazon ship the diapers to our travel destination. OR, I’d go old school and stop at the store to buy some en route from the airport to our destination.
  • A blanket to throw down on any space for the babe to roll around on. We used this to great affect at the airport and in Prospect Park. We also - wait for it - rolled up a swaddle blanket to have on hand for a lightweight cover, be it for nursing or otherwise.


  • Our monitor – it’s just helpful for us and didn’t take up a ton of space. But did we need it? We were staying in an NYC apartment for goodness sake! I’d do without it moving forward.
  • A new toy (new to the baby; one that I had not shown to her before). I’ve read other mama bloggers do this and I thought it was a good idea. But honestly, the baby was far more interested in the safety pamphlet than the toy. (And so was I. Funny how when I travel with my heart sitting on my lap I'm suddenly ALL EARS when the flight attendants talk emergency situations…) All that to say, if you have a toy stored away that baby has never seen, bring it if you want. But lordy, don’t waste money buying one. I’m sure activities will be important when she gets older, so ya know, stay tuned.

    THE BIG TAKE AWAY FOR THE LAST TWO BULLET POINTS: on every trip I’ve been on, upon re-packed to return home, I discover at least one item that I need never pack again. Always edit, friends. 

What travel tips do you swear by? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!


A Life Decluttered: When Dealing With Another's Possessions Part II

by Maura Malloy in

A while back, I shared my experience in regards to dealing with my partner’s clutter (that’s my verbage, not his, btw). Today, I’d like to circle back and share some my thoughts about the second most commonly asked question I get:

"How do you part with family heirlooms? / How do I decline items my parents want to pass down to me all together?"

Before I dive in, let me just reiterate:

I do not like answering these questions! They go a lot deeper than simply disposing of stuff. They are about larger issues in a relationship, and since I'm not a therapist, I really don't have any place in offering advice. There is no simple solution because each relationship & each person involved is unique. What's one person's trash is another person's treasure. A lot of sentiment and emotion is attached to these sorts of possessions, and another's feelings are involved. And bottom line: any issues that arise aren't really about the objects. 

All that to say, here are a few things I do in my own life.

I deal with heirlooms on a case by case basis. This is not an ‘asked & answered’ situation. Rather, it’s an ongoing conversation that does not stop and start in one sitting.

What’s more, this is a conversation I not only have with my family member, I have it with myself. That’s right people, I talk to myself. Feel free to stop reading right here & now. But in all seriousness, I ask myself what would prompt me to accept an item I deep down do not want. And almost 100% of the time, the answer is that I feel guilty saying no. If my motive is guilt, I will resent the item, and by default, the person who gave it to me. So if I come to the conclusion that guilt is guiding me, then I know I must decline.

In the last six years my family has lost several Loved Ones, as well as moved a couple other Loved Ones into assisted living spaces. This required downsizing and dispersing of possessions in a major way. Losing a Loved One is stressful enough; dealing with all their stuff can sometimes prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve read more articles about all this than I can count. I even saw a play about it. And I’m not seeking the topic out just because I like to simplify. It’s in the zeitgeist. It weighs on the hearts of many. Some people form very strong attachments to the possessions, unable to part with them because they represent the Loved One they miss so much. Others do not form these attachments.

And this is where the tension lies. Without emotional attachment, I could simply say have an estate sale, donate the rest, and move on. But that rarely happens.

The Attached wants to pass off/give the possessions to the UnAttached because:

a) there isn’t enough room in their home to keep all the possessions, and
b) how could I (the UnAttached) not want them as a reminder of Our Loved One, especially when
c) the possessions are free.

So once I’ve had my private conversation with Self and come to the conclusion that I shall decline said possessions, I move on to the conversation with the family member.

“No, thank you” is where I start. Spoken with a lot of kindness. Not with underlying animosity. Not with distain. Not with disgust.

Oftentimes this is just so unbelievable to The Attached. So I like to remind The Attached that it isn’t because I don’t love Our Loved One, and it’s not because I scoff at the possession – that I find it ugly or worthless (because I’ve declined beautiful, valuable items). It’s just that the possessions do not fit into my home, either aesthetically or practically.

That’s it, to be frank. I try to keep it simple.

And to be clear, I have not declined everything. I accepted my great grandmother’s chair and had is reupholstered to match my color scheme. To my eyes, it's a work of art and I love it. I accepted my grandmother’s china set. It happens to be the same as my mother’s. I’ve only used it a couple times (so far), but I absolutely am in love with it. I grew up helping my mom set the table for holiday dinners. Now I can continue that, in this my grown-up home, and it all is as it should be in my heart and mind. I accepted my great aunt’s desk chair (I have a thing for chairs, apparently). A self-made woman, she started out as a secretary and rose to become vice president of an international company. Everything in her home was the best of the best, but I just wanted to write in the chair she wrote in – perhaps some of her perseverance and hard work would rub off on me.

And I accepted the bonnets and dresses that were mine as a baby. My mother saved for me, should I, too, have a daughter of my own. My little girl’s head is a bald as mine was, and she wears the bonnets every day. The dresses stood the test of time, and I drool over the smocking and puffed sleeves like my daughter drools over... anything she can get in her mouth.

I allow myself to pick and choose. And when I decline something, I do so as kindly as possible. Saying “yes” because I feel guilty saying “no” isn’t worth it. 

[As a parting thought - let's say there are absolutely exquisite heirlooms that you know you'll never use. They will just remain packed up, taking up space in your space. Let's say your great grandmother was a fashionista and had a collection of shoes to beat the band. Like, designerware. But she had a different shoe size than you (tragically). OR, let's say your Great Aunt Helen was a talented sewer who left a collection of irreplaceable hand-sewn items. But they'll never be worn... by you. Think outside of the box, people. Investigate historical societies in your area. Or costume collections at your local theater! The head of costume design at my graduate school had quite a collection. Costume design students learned from the donated items. Actors wore authentic pieces for period plays. Such donations were invaluable on many levels. Find a home for heirlooms where they will be honored and appreciated for the treasures that they are.]

Tip: The Waystation

by Maura Malloy in

Waystation:    a stopping point on a journey
                       a minor station on a railroad

In my childhood home, our staircase served as a waystation. For stuff. As ‘a stopping point on a journey’ to each item’s designated place. My items and my brothers’ to be specific.

In the evenings after dinner, when I’d head upstairs, piles were stacked on the first few steps – our shoes and books, backpacks and sundry items. Items we had strewn about upon our return from school. Items that my father – poor guy – stumbled over upon his return from a long day’s work. Our stuff belonged in our rooms, and he helped us return them by placing them in direct site as we journeyed upstairs. If I’m being honest here, this habit of his annoyed me like no other. But if I’m being really REALLY honest, everything annoyed me as an angsty teen (who’s with me?).

Welp, that angsty teen grew up to be her father’s daughter. After many years living in small quarters, she moved into a two-story house with her man (and a child on the way). She grew up to be way way WAY tidier than her dad. And I’ll be damned if the staircase isn’t used in the exact same way by this, the grown-up angsty teen.

In our new home (just like our old one), everything has a place and there is a place for everything. But now when something is used and needs returning, there might be a longer distance (a longer journey, if you will) to travel. Never before in my adult life have I had so much space to trek in my home. 

And I have an infant on my hip.
And its 2:00 and I haven’t eaten yet, let’s say. So getting The Thing to its place isn’t top priority.
And here’s the curve ball, I am going to forget to return The Thing. I’m going to forget the moment I set it down.
And I’ll go upstairs - to change a diaper, let’s say - and The Thing remains downstairs. And when I come back downstairs, I’ll see The Thing - staring at me, taunting me even - but I won't be in a position to run back upstairs just to put it away because now the baby needs to be fed. 
And feeding a hungry child trumps tidiness, even with The Thing taunting me.
And slowly, slowly, slowly, The Thing has become A Bunch of Stuff plunked down everywhere but where it belongs.

So while I still have a habit of picking up at the end of the day, I’ve found that having a waystation is essential for order to win out over chaos. 

I love the quote my friend (and former Interviewee), Allie, uses: Why put it down when you can put it away? I think of it often. It’s motivational to this minimalist. But sometimes I have to put ‘it’ down for a bit. Without a waystation, I forget the laundry is downstairs until I’m upstairs; I forget I have a new tube of toothpaste until I – exhausted and ready to crumble into bed – reach for my toothbrush and realize, yes I did buy more paste but JEEZ LOUISE now I have to haul butt downstairs to grab it; I forget the bills that need filing up in the file cabinet, so they accrue on the countertop.

It’s the little things that add up. Lord knows, these are what I refer to as Cadillac problems. Messiness. Let’s throw out a big thank you for having a roof over my head and money to buy toothpaste and pay my bills. But this is blog about an organized approach to the art of simple, stylish living, and a waystation helps me achieve just that.

So to recap: How do I keep a house tidy when it's the least pressing priority of the moment? I create a waystation for items that have been used and need returning. I collect a pile – either at the top (for items that live downstairs) or the bottom (for items that live upstairs) – which I can grab when I’m heading up or down, respectively. I’m not making extra trips up and down, I’m collecting the strays for the moment when I have to go up or down, and I then bring those items with me, and they return home. I’m placing them where that my eyes will see them, because my mind will not remember without a visual cue. Designating a waystation in my home – that’s highly trafficked and relatively central – I’m going out on a limb to say it’s a gamechanger.

Don't have a staircase? Designate a chair or bar stool as your waystation. Something on the way to another section of your space. Or, better yet, tell me what you do to keep everything in its place in the comments below.

A Life Decluttered: A Period of Adjustment

by Maura Malloy in

When my baby girl (finally) arrived on December 6th (take THAT, November 23rd due date, said she), my life changed. I’d heard that phrase spoken many a time by new parents, and I can’t really improve upon it. So let’s not even try.

Asked by my nearest and dearest how I was doing, my answers revolved around my daughter’s sleep patterns. My brother-in-law visited and I referred to myself solely in the third person, and referenced my man as “daddy”. What was wrong with me?! It was humbling! Funny but whoa. Eating and sleeping. All consuming elements for a while there.

As the days turned into weeks then months, I slowly, slowly slowly started having room in my brain for other topics. But it took a while. And let’s be real: talking about sleep is still my go to.

I’d think of you all. And I’d think of this blog… How much I love it. How much enjoyment it gives me. How much I’ve learned from my readers and from myself by virtue of putting my simple living belief systems out into the world.

But I didn’t know what to write. And I feared the well had dried up.

Then one day, a flood of ideas pored forth and I realized something: I had just experienced a very natural, very normal period of adjustment. I’ve had them before, although this is the first since starting the blog. Periods of adjustment are a huge part of my life. Perhaps they are a part of yours to. They tend to last much longer than I ever expect (every.single.time.). During the adjustment, I often find myself turning inward, quieting down, trying to grasp how life has changed and how I fit into the new version.

So my silence here on the blog hasn’t been without reflection. In fact, my thoughts continue to revolve around creating a serene space for myself and for my family. I may not be writing about simple living, but I’ve certainly accrued a list of topics that I’m itching to share with you. I needed that period of adjustment to gather my thoughts as much as I needed it to settle into motherhood. (Do you ever really settle, though? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing the changes will keep me on my toes for eternity. And that’s a good thing… or so I’m telling myself. Wink, wink.) I needed time to realize how life as I knew it no longer served me. Then I needed time to create new systems that – hopefully – will add serenity to our home life moving forward. And as my babe grew, the list of topics lengthened.

It is my intention to return to blogging in a month or so, when my baby girl is about six months old. Where oh where did those six months go, I ask you? But I can answer that question, who am I kidding. It’s been spent healing my own bod and fattening hers up; reading her Anne of Green Gables (Too soon? Nopers.) and cuddling; spending hours with her napping on my chest, then spending double the hours teaching her to nap… NOT on my chest; observing the many discoveries she makes and glorying in the milestones (Guys, when she rolled from belly to back, I almost scared her with my cheers. Really.). And, as soon as I started feeling like myself and moving to my computer to write a blog to you, my blog-lovers, my body would say, “Hold on, you’re still on maternity leave. Here’s another round of mastitis to keep you laying low.” (True story.)

I’m emerging from this time even MORE convinced that simplicity is the key to a serene space. Even more convinced that clutter is a stressor; that stuff does not bring happiness or peace. And as my life gets fuller, my decluttering extends beyond just stuff. I’ll be talking cleaning products (or lack thereof) and electronics, activities and beauty products. Guys I may even blog about sleep (bringing it full circle here). Less is more when it comes to an organized approach to the art of simple, stylish living. Even with a baby! Even living in a four bedroom home! Especially with a baby! ESPECIALLY in a four bedroom home.

So bear with me. I look forward to returning on the regular soon. But first I must finish this last round of antibiotics, complete a rewrite of a script, and then, I will be back here sharing my discoveries, on this, my serene space.

The Interview: Joe & Meg B.

by Maura Malloy in

I met Joe and Meg through Lara, my first interviewee. A young, Indianapolis-based family with strong leanings towards all things creative, their home reflects their interests, passions and adventures while also feels comfortable and lived-in. The perfect balance in my opinion. Also - being a new mother myself - seeing their stylish home intact with a one and a half year old as a tenant gave me hope that style needn't be thrown out with the bath water. Adjusted, perhaps, but not abandoned. (I can't wait to get my little one a Tabouret table and set of chairs to match our grown-up version. Just like Meg & Joe's.) Basically, photographing their home inspired on many fronts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Describe your home's style.

Our house is more than 100 years old, and feels lived in. However, it also feels really modern because it is open and bright. We've tried to balance the airiness of the home's design with some masculine elements like our midcentury modern furniture pieces and map collection. For us it really is all about honoring the architecture of the home while letting our personalities shine through in the design elements we add. 

What is serene about your space?

We adore the amount of light that filters in through our windows which is highlighted by our neutral gray walls and original hardwood floors. The light is really the central feature of the house and our design choices underscore that.

While each room is its own space, there are some vistas where you can see all the way from the front to the back of the house. The long lines and continuity of space is really calming.  

Share with us one tip on how you keep your home serene.

We've kept our walls really neutral so that our art, books, and heirlooms are the elements that add vibrancy to the house. 

Tell us about your favorite possession. How did you acquire them? What makes them so special?

(Meg) Our Eames Lounge Chair. I've wanted one since i was a kid. When I moved back from New York City just before my 30th birthday, I bought one as a gift to myself. It's awesome because it adds instant style to any room ,and it is unbelievably comfortable.

(Joe) Our North by Northwest poster. Not only is it a favorite movie of mine, but it was one of the first things that we bought as a couple. It was purchased at the Bigger Picture Show which is an annual fundraiser for Indy Film Fest of which I am now a board member. The event showcases local graphic designers who reimagine classic movie posters. This poster is by Nathan Zarse whose style we have always really admired. 

What influences your personal sense of style? 

Balance & clean lines, history, Wes Anderson's films, Mad Men, London, the Swedish painter Carl Larsson, Cary Grant, and each other. 

Favorite Indianapolis local.

Tinker Street
20 Tap
100 Acres
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Our Neighborhood

A Life Decluttered: When Dealing With Another's Possessions | Part I

by Maura Malloy in

So many people have reached out to me since my TedxIndianapolis Talk. I've gotten text messages from friends who'd just dropped off 12 bags to Goodwill (!!!!) or pared down their guest room (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). One friend took it a step further and detached from social media - a whole new level of 'chipping away all that is unnecessary' (and one I'll be exploring in an upcoming blog so stay tuned). I've loved hearing from you all and how simplifying has added something to your life.

But today I want to address another aspect of decluttering that I hear about quite frequently. People get really excited about downsizing, but in my work and in the feedback I get, the two questions I hear most frequently are:

"How do I deal with my partner's clutter?" 


"How do you part with family heirlooms? / How do I decline items my parents want to pass down to me all together?"

I'm going to be honest, I do not like answering these questions. They go a lot deeper than simply disposing of stuff. They are about larger issues in a relationship, and since I'm not a therapist, I really don't have any place in offering advice. There is no simple solution because each relationship & each person involved is unique! What's one person's trash is another person's treasure. A lot of sentiment and emotion is attached to these sorts of possessions, and another's feelings are involved. And bottom line: any issues that arise aren't really about the objects. 

So instead of offering advice, allow me to offer my experience. In this, Part I of Dealing With Another's Possessions, I attempt to tackle the first question: "How do I deal with my partner's clutter?" Below are some Do's & Don'ts I use when engaging another to hop on my Decluttering Bandwagon:

  • DO: Focus on yourself and your stuff.

    It is so easy to focus on others and what they should change. So much easier than focusing on yourself! THAT'S no fun. But pointing fingers never helped any relationship. So, before you even engage another about decluttering their stuff, start with yourself. Have you completely decluttered your closet? Not just thought about it, but gone through the WHOLE process, including dropping off the cast-off items to the charity of your choice? Have you tackled your book collection, your filing cabinet, your letter collection, your box of memories, etc.? Do you first, and do you thoroughly. Keeping the focus on myself helps all situations. 
  • DO: be upfront and honest about what you are asking of your partner -- and realize that what you are asking him/her for, is to declutter for your sanity.
    DO NOT: treat downsizing as an invitation for a power struggle or a means to control another.

    Decluttering is essential for my well-being, but just because it brings me serenity doesn't mean it does so for everyone. So when I asked my husband to declutter (before he was my husband, when we'd just moved in with each other) - I was very clear and upfront about the fact that this was something I was asking him to do for me. I viewed the whole process as an act of service he gave me. I knew he didn't care about it as much as me, and I knew that my way wasn't the only way. But still, I needed to declutter to feel at home. Like all things in all relationships, decluttering was a two way street for us. He agreed to declutter out of respect for me and my wishes, and I respected him by listening to him and understanding what he was and was not willing to part with.
  • DO NOT: discard any items belonging to another without their permission.

    Don't do it. It's not worth it. It breaks trust and it's disrespectful. If there are items your partner is not willing to part with, but you truly believe he/she never uses and will never miss, pack them up in a box and mark your calendar for six months down the line. At the six month marker, if these items haven't been missed, again bring up the idea of getting rid of them. Don't nag - just lay out the facts: "These haven't been touched in six months and I'd really like to have more space in the closet. Is it ok if we donate them now?" 

    Maybe he/she will agree. But if they don't --
  • DO: Let it go.

    At this point, if your partner is still unwilling to declutter, let it go. You have done all you can. You have been upfront, honest and respectful. Your partner knows where you stand. There is nothing more to be done but accept the situation (and perhaps choose to focus on all your partner's great qualities instead of the fact that he/she isn't a minimalist like you). In my experience, when I have spoken my mind in a direct yet kind manner, it is much easier to let it go because I am not bottling up any emotions. I've been heard - and that goes a long way for me.

A Serene Mama (In the Making): The Nursery

by Maura Malloy in

I have had so much fun putting this nursery together -- I just had to share it on the blog! As is my motto, I strove to make simple, stylish choices with strong leanings towards practicality.

  • Gray & white ruled the roost. I chose Benjamin Moore's Abalone in eggshell finish for the walls. I prefer gender neutral tones not only in the event we have another, but also because I just like all things light & bright.  
  • I repurposed a dresser that we already owned - to house the little one's clothes and also to serve as a changing table (and thereby avoid buying a changing table all together).
  • I chose a glider that I loved the looks of -- so that it could easily fold into our home when the baby days are over.
  • The Animal Print Shop inspired me, and I decorated the space with animal decor from all over (hiya Giggle, Pottery Barn Kids and Etsy).
  • In keeping with my love of light & bright, Ikea supplied the rest of the light wood pieces (crib, shelving & side table - that'll double as storage.)  
  • And then at the last minute, I threw some pink into the mix when I spied H&M's rug collection.  

Top shelf: a blue celestine is good for sleep and connection to angelic realms. Middle shelf: my old copy of Anne of Green Gables. Bottom shelf: my friends know my preference & love of all wooden toys, and gifted accordingly.

I stumbled upon this collection of board books by Jennifer Adams & Alison Oliver, and just had to register for them all. I love the idea of our little one hearing these titles from early, early on.

I read this quote in a poem by Erin Hanson years ago, and always found it so comforting. The paper mache elephant took my breathe away! And the Wolf Pup No. 1 inspired the animal theme.

Indianapolis has some cold winters so a humidifier is essential.

I love this owl nightlight/sound machine - as I've mentioned in a previous blog - and every mama I know swears by Aden & Anais linens.

SIDE NOTE: My man has serious concerns about lack or color - and therefore stimulation - for our little one, due to my love of grey & white. Fair enough. But, guys, this is her bedroom - a space specifically set aside for sleeping. There is this wonderful, magical part of our world called The Great Outdoors that I plan to introduce her to, and its colors can't be topped. What's more, this child already has a toy and book collection that'll have her set for a llllllllong time, and - wait for it - it's very colorful. She will live a colorful existence - through her toys, her books and this great wide world around her.

** I received no endorsements for this post. **

A Life Decluttered: Space for the Future

by Maura Malloy in

I write a lot about decluttering and its impact on my stress levels today. How a minimalist, organized space aids in my productivity as well as my relaxation. And it's true. But today I want to focus on another reason to simplify: to make room for the future, and all that it will bring.

We moved into our new home about six weeks ago and have scurried about to get things in order - even more so now than my usual need for serenity due to this growing little one in my belly. It's been an exciting season - a season of accumulation as I've been terming it - in large part due to the fact that we had nothing whatsoever for a baby. I wondered if the accumulating would add stress to my life - it going so against the grain of the minimalist lifestyle I live and write about. But it hasn't. And here's why: we had space for the baby. We didn't have to make room for her. By not filling every nook and cranny of our former home, and by consciously consuming baby products that weren't excessive, there was space waiting for her.

When we hold onto possessions for all the wrong reasons ("I spent a lot of money on that"; "So and so gave that to me ten years ago and while it'll never leave my closet, my guilt won't allow me to let it go": "This particular collection - of books, of CDs, of memorabilia - is proof that a significant period in my life took place"; "What if, even though I haven't touched this object ever, I find a use for it someday") - when we hold onto possessions for all the wrong reasons, we are cluttering our present lives with the stuff from our past.  And when we are bogged down the past, we make no room for the unknown that will surely meet us. And I don't know about you, but I want to make room for the adventures that come my way. 

When I moved to Indianapolis and we donated half of my man's house to charity, we weren't even engaged yet (read more about that HERE and HERE). It was a smaller home, but we had tons of space. After we'd decluttered what wasn't necessary, the second bedroom had one object in it: my desk. We could have bought furniture to fill it. But we decided not to. Because the only reason to have done so would have been to fill up space for filling up space's sake. 

Like my bedroom in Brooklyn, I have found memories of that room, writing in it. My desk was all I needed. There was a window that looked out on the pond - I'd watch the geese fight with the ducks, but sometimes an elegant blue heron would stand in my sight-line and take my breathe away. All I needed was that desk and that window. 

And the excess space served a purpose. When we did have out of town guests, we pulled out the blow-up bed and they had a place to stay. When they left, the bed deflated and the room returned to normal, giving me space to write.

After we got married and before we decided to move closer to downtown, I'd daydream about it becoming a nursery. More incentive not to fill it up with stuff... Because I was waiting and hoping for a future when it would be a nest for our sweet babe.

And then my grandmother took a turn for the worse and had to move into a nursing home. My mother and aunt started parsing out her beautiful collection of furniture. The lady had taste. And while much of her pieces didn't necessarily fit our aesthetic, she had a set of blue slipper chairs that always took my breathe away. And they fit perfectly in a writer's room. When they arrived, it was as if they'd always been in there, as if I'd always curled up in them to read a book or sip my morning coffee. As if the space had been waiting for them, and them alone. They were worth the wait. And they'd grow with our house. I just knew it.

Now that we've moved, the chairs are in the family room and we again have a room that houses only my desk. And again, I have no desire to fill it up just to make it look less barren. Life has taught me that the future will reveal how it's use will change. For now, it'll be my writing room where I can also roll my yoga mat out (and get this bod back into shape after Little Miss arrives). And, as life unfolds, more will be revealed.

The Interview: Kathryn Coker, Owner of Esters Wine Shop & Bar

by Maura Malloy

The Interview is a monthly post that explores serene spaces and the people who create them.

This is just such a treat for me, friends. Kathryn Coker is my best friend. We have been at each other's side for every twist and turn since age 18, from fellow aspiring actresses to each other's maid/matron of honors, and all the years of questioning in between. Together we wandered through our twenties, searching for what to do with our lives, respectively. And Lord, did Mrs. Coker emerge from that muck with flying colors. After getting her sommelier license and becoming the wine director at several of the Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants in Santa Monica, California, Katie (I call her Katie, always and forever) opened Esters Wine Shop & Bar in July. Her taste in impeccable, but not only for wine and cheese. She has an eye for the gorgeous, and the space she has created is nothing short of serene. So when work took me out to her neck of the woods in August, I simply had to document her space and share it with you all. I hope you enjoy, and the next time you're in Santa Monica, be sure to stop by!

Describe your shop's style.

Esters (my home away from home) is an airy yet cozy, elegant and eclectic wine bar.  I think of it as if Audrey Hepburn visited a Parisian Flea Market and collected a library of wine.  When we met our architect/designer Oonagh Ryan, I explained my love for vintage and found pieces, but also the importance of usefulness and organization for our new business.  We are a small restaurant/shop, so every single inch of space must be pracitcal.  

What is serene about your space?

Rows and rows and rows of wine - now that's calming!  But truthfully, in a shop, shelves that are filled, maxed out, are more serene than empty shelves.  An empty store looks sad. Also, the tall ceilings and big windows give the space an airy feel. I hate the "traditional" dark cramped wine bar.

Share with us one tip on how you keep your shop serene.

I know this might sound antithetical - but adding and changing. To me what is serene is constantly in motion. Changing the flower arrangement, adding art, rearranging the wine bottles - to me movement in a space is what makes it feel beautiful.

Tell us about your favorite possession. How did you acquire it? What makes it so special?

Our giant chandelier. Maura was with me when we found it at this AMAZING antique store in Culver City called Big Daddy's Antiques.  The buyer there travels the world looking for unique pieces and he rescued this from an old hotel in Argentina. It's the show stopper.

What influences your personal sense of style? 

Color, Jackie O, flea markets & Salvation Army finds/inspiration and joy in the opposite/unexpected. 

List your five favorite websites and/ blogs.

  • Whitney A. - written by my friend Whitney, this is a delightful culinary/wine/lifestyle blog.
  • A Cozy Kitchen - great recipes and photos. everything here drool-worthy.
  • Wine. All the Time. - Marissa A. Ross is hilarious and takes all the stuffiness out of wine-talk. I love it.
  • Guild Somm - the Guild of Sommeliers: most comprehensive wine site for research/study
  • A Serene Space - duh!

 Favorite Santa Monica local.

Esters is the newest member of the Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants - so my homes away from home are all the sister spots:

A Life Decluttered: Biannual Upkeep Decluttering

by Maura Malloy in

Next week I'll be attending Style Swap, an annual event here in Indianapolis that benefits Indystar's Our Children campaign and other women's shelters. To attend, one pays an entry fee, brings some lightly used items from the ol' closet, and swaps them for something new (to you). It's fun, it spruces up your wardrobe and all proceeds go to a good cause. What a wonderful way to declutter.

Which got me thinking... what are all the ways I've decluttered my closet over the years?

It's a good question because, for me, decluttering doesn't happen all at once. Yes, there was that Initial Overhaul -- the ruthless stripping away of items that I hadn't worn in years and wasn't going to wear any time soon (honestly, I questioned why I'd purchased them in the first place). For these epic downsizing moments, I donate items to local charities. Goodwill is my choice, but there are a plethora for you to choose from. If you are associated with a religious organization, a phone call to the secretary can often result in discovering their charity of choice. Also, the company you work for often partners with charitable organizations. Inquire within. Donating is the simplest way to declutter. You just drop of your bags and bags (and bags) of unwanted pieces, and go about your life. 

But after my initial closet downsizing... as time wore on... as the seasons changed... my decluttering became more of a biannual event. What I like to to call Upkeep Decluttering. Upkeep Decluttering is a smaller, more curated event. As I'd switch out the warmer weather clothes and go through all my sweaters, I'd be able to get rid of that one sweater that heretofore I just wasn't yet ready to part with (yet hadn't worn once last winter). As I put away my sweaters and uncovered my collection of flowy summery dresses, I could be real with myself that the paisley dress I'd so loved initially, had become the least worn item in the closet. Biannual Upkeep Decluttering results in a much smaller quantity to get rid of, yet it is just as important as the Initial Overhaul. When items are packed away for months there is an objectivity I have with them when they re-enter my wardrobe. Maybe that trend I followed last summer just isn't meant to stand the test of time. Maybe the pattern I was sure I'd never grow tired of now annoys me. MAYBE I want to add a few new items to this season's wardrobe, but I like to adhere to a strict policy of one time in, one item out. 

But here's the hang up with Biannual Upkeep Decluttering. Sometimes this means I get rid of really nice pieces. When that happens, I take my cast-offs to second hand stores and resell them - either locally or online (I prefer Tradesy) - and re-coup some of my cash... cash that will go to the few, consciously consumed items I'll add to the wardrobe this season. Now reselling takes up a bit more time and energy, so it's really your call if it's worth it to you, or if you'd rather just wash your hands and drop off a donation. But there are options, friends: donating or reselling...

OR, attending a wonderful event that helps a great cause but also allows me to shop, like Style Swap. If you are in the Indy area, come join me next Thursday!

Top Ten: Sites that Inspire My Simple, Stylish Living

by Maura Malloy in

I enjoy my internet trolling and scrolling. I love a useful tip as much as the next person. I also love to look upon gorgeous decor and jaw-dropping interiors. A good street style blog? Sign me up. Simple, healthy living? I'm all ears. That's why I ask my interviewees on The Interview what their favorite websites are -- to discover any gems that have heretofore been off my radar. 

So this week I'm sharing my top ten websites/blogs that aid me in simple, stylish living. Some focus on minimalism, some on style, but I've also threw in my fave homemaking and healthy eating sites because they inspire how I aspire to live! They all influence each other, is my point.

1. The Minimalists - Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus started a blog after stepping away from their corporate lifestyles and reassessing the way they lived their life. Like myself, they believe minimalism isn't about owning less, less, less, but rather it's about getting passed the "things so we can make room for life's important things - which actually aren't things at all." 

2. Becoming Minimalist - Josh Becker is a husband and father of four. I look to his family as mine grows! My favorite feature of his website is the Saturday email round-up. He culls together great articles from the week prior that cover a broad range of topics that all center around simple living. I always look forward to it. You can too, by subscribing to his newsletter.

3. New Minimalism - I love these ladies. San Francisco based de-clutterers and design consultants, Kyle and Cary share such similar beliefs as myself, I'd just love to grab a coffee with them. They help their clients declutter (and donate like champs) then decorate - often using treasures discovered during the de-cluttering process. Also, their blog/newsletter is always a joy to receive.

4.  Apartment Therapy - Sure, I don't live in an apartment anymore, but this site is my go-to when researching anything I'm considering purchasing for the home. And because it's specifically tailored to apartment dwellers, they often are sure to know the simplest options, space-saving tricks and budget-friendly items that I hunt for. Basically, they do my research for me.

5. Elements of Style - Erin is an interior designer with a great eye (for fashion too!). Plus, she's a mama-to-be just like me, and following her journey as she prepares for the little one has been so fun!

6. Remodelista - "a source book for considered living," this website combines swoon-worthy photography, stylish DIY projects and wonderful round-ups (roller blinds, I'm looking at you). 

7. 79 Ideas - Radostina photographs so, so beautifully. I first discovered her blog years ago during my New York years, when minimalism and decor were only beginning to be a blip on my radar. Her influence was huge to put it lightly. I wanted to live in the rooms she photographed -- and a common theme among them? Open space dotted by beautifully curated pieces. Simple, stylish living at its finest.

8. The Sartorialist - there are so many street style photographers out there, but Scott Schuman is the gold standard. As a new season approaches, I look to his images to help me decide what elements to add to the wardrobe, OR how to restyle something in a fresh, effortless way.

9. Homemade Mothering - Maureen is a friend from college who's been at this mothering thang a tad while longer than I. Having recently moved into a larger house, I must say I particularly love her blogs about green house-cleaning. This mother of four makes her own laundry detergent! She always always always uses the simplest ingredients (found in any kitchen) to keep her home clean. I mean, she tackled fruit flies with apple cider vinegar. Boom. (Also, she's a dynamite chef - just whips simple, nutritious masterpieces together in the a blink of an eye.)

10. Deliciously Ella - I am not a vegan, but I love vegetables (and I avoid dairy and gluten, which really interferes with dessert, I'm not going to lie). Ella creates the most delicious recipes with very few ingredients. Her sweet potato brownies might have changed my life. Her website has taken off this year, and expanded to more than just recipes, but it is the whole foods, plant-based meals and desserts that will keep me returning for more.

What are your favorite websites that inspire simple, stylish living? Share in the comments below!!

Tip: Temporary Paper Blinds

by Maura Malloy in

Sometimes I'm the last one to the party, so if this tip has been in your tool kit for years, forgive me. I'm just now catching up.

We moved into our new home last week. It had been a summer of ups and downs regarding home ownership: we FINALLY sold our former home, we thought we were building from scratch, that plan fell through, we started to search again, and just in time for my nesting instincts to take over my being, we found a beautiful home for our growing family. My favorite thing about the house is all the natural light...

Which translates to a about a million windows...

For which I do not have window treatments. Windows were not really on my radar prior to this move, I'm not going to lie. So I am using my favorite tools to find simple, stylish solutions for each room in the house -- The Power of Pause and the Art of Conscious Consumption. I will not be rushed. I will research my options. And then I'll sit on my decisions for a bit to make sure they are what I really want. This has never failed me. There's just one hitch because of my current situation: privacy. 

We need privacy while I pause. And while we could tack old sheets to every window in the house, feeling like a 19 year old college dude is not in line with the art of simple, stylish living. So I've been stumped to find an inexpensive temporary solution (that is aesthetically pleasing enough)...

Until my aunt tipped me off to paper blinds. At less than $5 a pop and found at hardware stores and online alike, these little suckers stick to the top of a window and hang down, offering privacy for as long as one needs whilst searching for a more permanent solution.* The pressure is off. Sure, these are not my ideal look, but they'll do for now while I hop between dreams of roman shades, cascading curtains and roller blinds. 

Temporary solutions that are simple and stylish enough? Count me in. Do you have any up your sleeve? Please share in the comments below!

* Full disclosure, our blinds don't like to stick. My cousin has had hers up in the bedrooms for ages as they renovate and never had problems, but ours - ours fell often initially. So if you go this route when moving into a new home, do yourself a solid and throw in a container of double-sided tape in your cart for reinforcement.

A Serene Mama (In the Making): The Registry

by Maura Malloy in

The baby registry. A bit of a beast to tackle, but once I got into it, I had a lot of fun. The most frequent questions I get asked these days center around 1) how I plan to tackle the influx of stuff, 2) what to do when given items that I don't want. So let's get real about all that right here, right now. 

It's a delicate but worthy balance - not wanting excess yet welcoming the abundance from loved ones. We have several showers for this little one - so instead of keeping my list short and sweet, I asked for it all: the necessities (I'm looking at you, car seat & wipes), the items that make life a bit more livable (like a car seat cover that'll keep our wintertime baby warm) , and the non-necessities (decor & toys). From board books to big ticket items -- I created a list of needs and wants specific to our family unit. If people are going to give gifts I might as well show them my preferences. This is my logic. As long as a registry has items at every different price point, build away. 

To tackle the influx, I use the same methods I use with all that I purchase, The Power of Pause and the Art of Conscious Consumption. I research on my own but I also go to the source. For example, when overwhelmed by stroller options, I listened to a mommy friend who walks everywhere. (She met her husband while we were in college, and when we spent a semester in London, I’m not sure they ever used the Tube. They just walked. Now that he’s a fighter pilot and they live all over the world, they are literally walking around the world.) I trusted her recommendation, and I stopped researching strollers. Period.

As I move from one shower to the next, I stay flexible. I cull, curate and hone that list as I get new tips. Or I realize that there are items on there that I do not absolutely love and/ need… so I eliminate.  OR, someone gifts me something that is a WAY better option than what I’d registered for - so I delete my item of lesser value and write my thank you note. (I’m looking at you, forehead thermometer… You, my friend, are a gamechanger.) Recently, several friends with 4-6 month olds (who now are done with having babies) gifted us clothes by the bag full. Do you know how many items of baby clothes you can fit into one brown bag?! A lot. So as we got these hand-me-downs, I eliminated clothes from the registry. 

That's what I'm doing on this, the front end of the influx (cull, curate, hone). On the back end, I'll declutter as items become unnecessary - just like our friends did who gave us the hand-me-downs.

But what do you do when you receive things you don't want, Maura? Great question. Keep them coming. But if I'm being real with you all, I have to say this hasn't been an issue for me. Friends and family alike are really setting this child up – and doing so based on my registry choices. Sometimes they’ve even been so good as to give a gift card – for use once the showers are over and we still have items on the list. Perhaps these loved ones are atune to my lifestyle choices because of this here blog. But I also get the sense that moms tend to purchase the items that they found as their saving grace.  (“That bobby pillow saved my back during the nursing years.” “A good car seat that is easy to carry is worth its weight in gold.” “Kimono style sleepers are crucial for middle of the night changes with a newborn.” Etc.) In case you missed last week’s blog, there’s a lot of thankfulness going on in our household right now.  

Choosing where to register? I built the list from a variety of different stores so I went with My Registry. This site allows its members to list an item from anywhere in the world, basically (and it also syncs registries from a wide array of stores). I sought to find simple, stylish items that:

  • Are Multi-Purpose

Skip Hop Nightlight Soother Moonlight & Melodies Owl - a nightlight and a sound machine all in one.

Fisher-Price Auto Rock 'n Play Sleeper - a sleep seat, playtime seat and rocker all in one. My mama friend due any day with baby #3 (!!!) put this on my radar, knowing me all too well. I'm hoping this will suffice instead of a bouncy seat, a swing and a bassinet. Fingers crossed!


  • Grow With Baby

Keekaroo Height Right High Chair with Infant Insert - adjustable parts so that it holds babies as small as six months, and adults as large as 250 lbs! This will grow into our household.

Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller In Black - I'm hoping to remain a one stroller household! This one offers accessories that help it grow with baby, including a Glider Board for bigger kiddos!


  • Pack a Punch
    (i.e. Are Innovative Yet Simple)

Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad - no muss, no fuss. Literally. Easy to wipe down (i.e. no need for changing pad sheets AND waterproof covers... that will inevitably get stained and yucky) and will not slide around on any surface -- this changing pad is all in one. THIS is what turned me on to Giggle in the first place (they had me at their Criteria).

Summer Infant Comfy Bath Sponge - can't beat the price point, the little space it takes up when not in use and the cozy soft space for baby to lie in during bath time. Can be used in a bath, a tub, etc. 

  • Are Investment Worthy
    (Everything needn't be top of the line to suit my family's needs. For example, the crib wasn't expensive, but I invested in a mattress.)

IKEA Sniglar Crib - what a price point, and I happen to be a sucker for the simple, clean lines of this solid beech crib (a crib that - wait for it - grows with baby). 

Naturepedic No Compromise Organic Cotton Classic Crib Mattress - many an hour will be spent on this pad, so top quality matters to me. Of all the organic mattresses, this one seems to come up most frequently in my browsings. It's the Mother Ship.

What were your secrets for building a registry? Share in the comments below!

*I received no endorsements for this post.

Tip: Thankfulness

by Maura Malloy in

I am living in a season of abundance. Officially in the third trimester of pregnancy, and on the brink of moving into a 2,700 square foot home, I find myself consuming and acquiring more than ever before. It's fascinating to me - one who shouts the merits of simplicity from the roof-tops. It makes me question my credo - and/ my commitment to it! 

Which is a good thing, I think. To question my choices. Not to the point of second guessing every decision ever made, but rather as a tool to check in with my motives. Right now my motives merge with nesting - and not just for the nursery but for all things in the new household! I want everything just so - prior to baby arriving... because once she comes, something tells me I'll be a bit too busy to think about decor.

But I have to tell you, I never thought I'd spend so much time window shopping window treatments. That's all I'm going to say about that.

And don't get me started on the registry. I have culled and honed and curated that sucker more times than I'm proud to admit. But the more I research, and the more simple, stylish mothers I talk to, the more I learn! So I switch items out, I delete items... and I add. I do believe that's all part of the Power of Pause and the Art of Conscious Consumption. It will definitely be worth it in the long run - because it definitely lessens the unnecessary items that will enter our abode - but man, mama is shopping. (More about the registry in a future blog!)

So, in this season of abundance, I like to ground myself by using thankfulness. Our loved ones are showering us with love and necessities in preparation for this little one. The generosity is rather overwhelming. And YET, I am still capable of spinning into lists of what else I 'think' we need right now. For the new house OR for the new baby.

ALL THAT TO SAY, here's how I use thankfulness when the spinning begins: I walk around our home, and look at all we already have. (This also  works wonders when wanting to purchase new clothes -- take a gander inside your closet, and inside EVERY dresser drawer. Look at all of it. How often do we forget the wonderful pieces that we haven't worn in a few weeks?) When I look upon all that we already own, I am immediately thankful. I am no longer left wanting for more. Life becomes more serene. And that list of items that I'd created that would make the new house 'just so' -- it can wait for another day.

The Interview: Patti S.

by Maura Malloy in

I've known Patti peripherally for years. She's my cousin's good friend, and lives in Cleveland. Her sartorial style has always been on point, so when my cousin told me I had to see her home, I needed no convincing. Patti has an effortless touch to all that she does - be it raising her three daughters or renovating her midcentury modern home (both with the help of her husband, Anthony). A ranch with a walk-out basement, the home was built in 1960 by an engineer/architect who lived in the home with his wife until they passed (within 6 months of each other - true love). Patti and Anthony purchased the home then  (about four years ago). They tell me they still have some updates on their list of things to do, mostly concerning the outdoor living spaces (!!!) -- exciting to me, as it means I'll be returning for an updated interview somewhere down the line! But for now, I can't stop swooning over the serene space they live in -- as is. I hope you enjoy it, and Patti's answers, below.

Describe your home's style.
Our home was built in 1960 in the mid-century modern style.  During our renovation, it was important to us to stay true to the architectural integrity of that time period while adding some modern flair.  We did a lot of scaling back and removing rotted wood and over grown bushes which exposed the true beauty and genius of the home.  I'd say our personal style is a little more laid back and bohemian than mid century so we added our flair with updated colors and some more relaxed furniture.  It sounds like our home style is having a bit of an identity crisis - but it's actually kind of evolved very naturally.  

What is serene about your space?
Everything.  I loved the style of the home and it's back wall of sliding doors while Anthony fell in love with the yard overlooking the creek.  We love how our backyard changes with every season.  In the winter, when all the leaves have fallen off the trees, we see our neighbors homes across the creek emerge - and in the summer they disappear!  I feel like we live in a tree house.  


Share with us one tip on how you keep your home serene.
It's a constant daily struggle to keep it organized and clutter free - especially with three little girls who love collections and treasures and stuff ... So I'd have to say purging daily and regularly making donations to Goodwill.

Tell us about your favorite possession. How did you acquire it? What makes it so special?
Before buying this home, we had moved 6 times in 6 years.  Needless to say we have acquired lots of possessions.  The things that we will always treasure are our memories.  I've kept a few mementoes that remind us of places but I'm really trying to teach the girls not to place too much emphasis on material things.  


Anthony's father was an art collector for years, and has begun dispersing the pieces amongst his children. The galleries around Patti & Anthony's home were all part of his father's collection.

What influences your personal sense of style? 
Travel. Different cultures. Street wear.  

List your favorite websites and/ blogs.

The master and its adjoining bathroom.

Favorite Cleveland local:
Robyn Sweeney's Cosmic Girl Goes

The 1st floor bathroom.

The eldest daughter's bedroom...

The basement bathroom.

... and her vision board for her own bedroom redesign. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

Tip: Photographing Whilst Shopping

by Maura Malloy in

A while back I wrote about my sartorial journey, and how I use The Power of Pause, Conscious Consumption and some honest to goodness self-appraisal to learn how to shop for clothes, and create a wardrobe that made me feel like a million bucks. It’s ever evolving, but I’ve come a long way.

Recently while chatting with a friend, I mentioned one of my favorite techniques for getting real about what flatters my figure… and what doesn’t. I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes don’t you get confused at the store? Standing in front of that dressing room mirror. Wearing an item that you really want to make work. Or maybe you just want to buy something. Or maybe it really does appear to make your legs look a mile long…

But then you go home, and you try the item on again… and you feel like a dud. It feels like a dud. (Can you pick out the duds in the picture to the right? Cause I threw some in there!) And then it goes unworn and you’ve broken the code [that I live by]: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” (brought to you by William Morris).

How can you be a conscious consumer WHEN THE DRESSING ROOM CONFUSES YOU?! Good question! Glad you asked! Keep them coming.

Take pictures. Seriously. When I’m in a dressing room, and I’m starting to get a hunch that I like an item enough to purchase it, I snap a photo – maybe I take a couple from different angles. Guys, there is something about a photo that distills any confusion. Mostly because I’m looking at what I will LOOK LIKE in photos, should I be wearing this item. And if I don’t like what I see, that item is not going home with me. (That rhymed. You’re welcome.)

We live in an age where the majority of us have cameras on our phones, and I know we are not leaving home without the phone, so put it to use.  Snap those pics. Get real with yourself. Purchase if you love it. But if you don’t love it, hand it back to the sales person, and go on with your day.

A Serene Mama (In the Making): Preparing for the Little One Part I

by Maura Malloy in

Since I’ve gotten pregnant, I’m often asked how I’m going to tackle motherhood... or more specifically, the inevitable accumulation of stuff. It’s a good question. I’ve been asking myself the same, to be quite honest. I am a first time mother, but I’m also a minimalist! How the two will merge will be an ever-evolving process, and so I’m starting A Serene Mama, a new series on the blog (in addition to my other series: A Life Decluttered, The Interview, Tip, Top Ten, Serene Travels & A Serene Plate).

This new series is in no way an advice column, guys! How can I emphasize that enough?! I cannot emphasize that enough. I am pro-mommy, meaning I am a champion for every woman out there making the best choices for herself and her little one. There are so many choices! There are so many people who swear by a certain method or brand or approach to parenting! And it’s all good. So please, if you continue to read this series, know that whatever gems I pass along sprout from my own personal experience that is unique to me, my baby and my man.

That said, there is undoubtedly a lot of stuff needed for the little bun in the oven, even if you're going the minimalist route. And while I plan to move into this new phase of my life keeping it as simple as possible, I’m not going to stress out by the accumulation. The WHOLE POINT of an organized approach to the art of simple, stylish living is to de-stress, not to add stress. But I do plan to use what tools I’ve accumulated thus far in my life, and apply them to motherhood. I'm ready to make a lot of mistakes. But I'll do my best to keep it simple, starting with my top three tenants:

  • Conscious consuming (more on that HERE and HERE).
  • Observing and learning from the simple, stylish mothers who have gone before me, such as interviewee, Allie H.
  • Continuing to live by one of my top favorite quotes, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris

A few years ago, I moved in with my man… and donated half of his house to charity. We didn’t need all that stuff. When we got married we asked for donations to charities in lieu of gifts. It wasn’t a time in our life where we needed to acquire much. (Full disclosure, my aunt and cousins threw me one gorgeous, intimate wedding shower. I got linens and everyday dishes… and I felt like I’d won the lottery.) 

As we enter this new phase, we have empty shelves ready to be filled. We don’t have to declutter now, because we declutter as we move through life. As a result, we’ve had some extra room waiting for this little one for quite some time. Our space is ready to grow with our family. In the coming months I’ll be sharing what I learn about preparing for a little one - from tips I find useful for a serene pregnancy to tackling maternity wear, from creating a minimalist baby registry to designing a simple, stylish nursery.

I hope you read along, and I’d love to hear your experiences too.