How to Style a Buffet

Happy Monday Y’all! We had a fun filled weekend with some dear friends that came up to visit us from NYC. Sometimes a weekend full of laughter & good conversation with great friends is exactly what the doctor ordered. I’m feeling refreshed this morning!


So, while this post is titled “How to Style a Buffet”, it really should be called “how to style any surface” but that just didn’t sound as pretty. I get asked ALL the time for styling tips – people often find that their surfaces (buffet, tv console, side table, nightstand, mantle, dresser, etc) are either too crowded or too empty. It’s hard to find that balance of looking styled, yet natural.

A few key “rules” I like to follow when styling a surface:

Let one piece anchor the space

Stick to groupings of 3

Incorporate natural elements (plant or flowers)

Stack books to elevate / create mixed heights

Keep it cohesive with a color scheme

Here’s are two examples of how this can be done:

The above buffet is about 60″ long so I wanted to create two small spaces so that it didn’t feel overcrowded. The art (roughly 2/3 the length of the buffet – the perfect scale) anchors the space, while the two groupings create some visual interest. While everything is in the white/cream/grey family, I created interest by using various textures & materials (ceramic, marble, glass). The lamp provides more height and the flowers bring in a natural element. I’ve actually got another similar white vase that I swap out (it’s short and squatty) and I’ll fill both with greenery. So many options here!

The mantle above is a bit longer – about 70″ and so there was more surface space to cover. Ideally, I would like a larger mirror but this works for now. As you can see, I’ve stuck to the neutral pattern as well, but incorporated some brass, gold and wood to give it more of a pop. The tall, oversized eucalyptus really makes this space work for me. Again, you can see I used the marble + wood box to pair with the beads & candle (set of 3!) and the picture frames at varying heights keep it cohesive, yet interesting.

I hope this helps! If you follow these 5 rules for styling your surface, you can’t go wrong! If you have any questions or need help styling your own space, feel free to email me.

Have a great week!



Life Lately, Vol. 38

Happy Friday Y’all! Anyone else feel like January dragged on forever but February flew by?! We’re in for a treat this weekend as our friends from NYC are visiting us! We’ll be taking some gym classes, visiting a museum or two, dining on Greek & French food and hopefully getting some waterfront views from the rooftop igloos. All in all, a stellar winter weekend!


My favorite photo from last weekend’s Snowy Seaport Staycation

Shopping for some spring kicks. I spend so much time in gym clothes, running errands, walking around town, etc. that comfortable shoes are critical. I want some that are a step up from sneakers but still casual enough to wear with black leggings. I’m currently leaning toward these blush high tops, some pink chuck taylors (too obnixious?) or some all white ones. Am I crazy for trying to pull these off?

Designing our back deck layout! We have an odd shaped, curved patio but it’s actually pretty big. Given that we have a very short window to enjoy the outdoor area here, I want to make sure that our deck is up & running the moment the weather turns. We already have our grill and a storage bin but I’m planning on purchasing an outdoor rug, a small loveseat or two chairs (or a set), a couple of garden stools (loving this blue color) and some lanterns. Of course, I need space for some gardening planters and flower pots, but that will be a separate post (I have a major black thumb!)

Reading this article about bettering your career. As someone who currently feels “in limbo” with my career path, reading articles about career enhancement and about overall job satisfaction always helps. I’ll never be one of those people who stays in the same role for 10 years or with the same company for 20 years, it’s just not in my DNA. I’m a firm believer that in your career, especially the sales one that I’m in, you have to always be looking for that next promotion or new opportunity. It’s tough to always be pushing yourself but it’s necessary if you want to truly be successful.

This Week on South End Style

A Seaport Staycation

My Favorite Podcasts

Our New Living Space

Life Lately, Vol. 37

A Snowy Seaport Staycation


When my friends over at these two Seaport hotels contacted me to stay, I knew I was in for a treat. As a lifelong, loyal SPG girl, I always try and stay at their brand hotels when I travel. They have been consistently comfortable, well-managed and within my price range. At first, I wasn’t sure which hotel would be a better fit for my husband and I so we opted to stay one night at each. The two hotels are similar in many ways but have distinct differences so I want to provide an honest comparison of the two, to help you determine which is the better fit for you next time you’re here in Boston.

a snowy seaport staycation

The Location


Since the hotels share a parking lot, they’re practically in the exact same location. Located on D street (pretty much smack dab between Southie & Seaport), the location could not be better. Especially for summer. Their front yard is “Lawn on D”, which is a huge summer attraction with food, drink, games and live music. It’s definitely the spot to be when it’s nice outside!

If you go left out of the hotels you hit the West Broadway region of Southie which has a variety of awesome bars and restaurants: Capo, Loco, Coppersmith (killer roof deck), Lincoln and more. You could even jog or bike over to Castle Island and hit the beach!

If you go right out of the hotels you’re at the Seaport waterfront which not only has a ton of restaurants (By Chloe, Row 34, Flour Bakery, Committee, Legal Harborside) but also has quite a few new gyms (Equinox, Soul Cycle, Core Power) and attractions (ICA museum, Harpoon Brewery, Laugh Boston, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion).

The Similarities


The adorable setup that was waiting for Mela in our room

My initial reaction to both hotels was the welcome feeling I received from the friendly staff. The check-ins were quick, easy & painless. Both have a wide variety of amenities that I believe all hotels should include: free WiFi, full access 24/7 gym, indoor heated pool, complimentary coffee & water bottles and a refrigerator in your room.

The best part? They were both dog friendly! In fact, Mela was set up with an adorable dog bed, dog blanket, food & drink bowl, a tennis ball, frisbee, some extra bags & treats. It was so cute and they really thought of everything to make Mela feel at home!

The Differences

While the hotels shared some similarities, they were very different.

The rooms:



We loved the large living space in our Element hotel room! ( top | jeans | boots, similar )

The Aloft room was small but functional. It felt very New York – tiny closet, minimal space and wouldn’t be comfortable for more than 2 nights. The Element room was huge – we had a living space, a full kitchen and an oversized bedroom. This is obviously better suited for families and those looking for an extended stay.



Aloft’s “grab & go” versus a continental breakfast at Element

The Aloft had a variety of “grab and go” options – good for someone on a work trip. We didn’t eat breakfast here since it wasn’t free but I did grab a coffee in the morning. The Element, on the other hand, had a full complimentary breakfast full of hot options, yogurt, fruit, baked goods, etc. Again, it was clearly targeted toward families. The downside was that they didn’t refill things when we were there at 10am so we didn’t have a chance to try it.

The Vibe:

This is where the hotels really differ, and it’s evident from the moment you walk in. The Aloft has a modern, hip vibe. The lobby is warm and inviting with music playing and a huge lounge area, including a cool bar, a fireplace, a pool table and various board games. The furniture has a CB2/West Elm feel – a lot of grays and blues with pops of color and abstract art. We had a nightcap here and found that a lot of other people had our same idea. It was a fun place to be!

Fun Fact: They host “paint night” here every weekend evening, which is a wildly popular and fun event for a girl’s night out!

The Element, however, did not have a warm or gathering feel. The hotel is hyper focused on being Green and minimal. There is no lobby bar, no lounge area, no music playing. You just want to get to your room and then get out. It’s definitely not the place to be if you want to hang out of meet other guests. The good news is the Aloft is right across the parking lot so you can walk right over if you’re craving that type of environment

The Verdict


We loved hanging out & playing pool in the Aloft Remix lounge

Both of these hotels are good options for those of you looking for a weekend Staycation or coming to visit Boston for the weekend. Neither has a spa, a full-service restaurant or an outdoor pool (very few Boston hotels do) so they’re fun weekend getaways but definitely not “resort” feeling or super high end. While we enjoyed our Staycation and one night at each hotel, we definitely preferred the Aloft over the Element. It was the right fit for us and we really enjoyed the vibe and the lobby area. If I were traveling with children, however, the Element would have been the better fit.


The beautiful Boston waterfront, just steps from the hotels

Thank you to the Aloft & Element Hotels for sponsoring this post. While the accommodations we received were complimentary, the honest thoughts & opinions were my own. I always am 100% transparent and truthful with my reviews.

My Favorite Podcasts

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how most morning looks at my house – coffee + podcasts!

As someone who is in the car for at least 5+ hours a day for work, the radio is often my friend. While I love music, I can only listen to so much of the same stuff over and over. Audio books are too much of a commitment to me so about a year ago, I decided to give podcasts a try. I am totally hooked and they have made my days of driving infinitely better! In fact, I listen to them not only in the car, but also while walking around the city or home alone cooking dinner/doing laundry/cleaning the house. They are such a great alternative to television…and better for your eyes (plus we don’t have cable)!

I’ve had a ton of requests lately so share my favorites, so without further ado:


Straight up with Stassi

If you watch Vamderpump Rules and you don’t listen to this, download it immediately. This is one Podcast that I look forward to every week (though you certainly don’t need to listen in order). Stassi is surprisingly smart, refreshingly funny and down to earth. As a woman in my 30s, I can totally relate to about 99.9% of what she’s saying and I love how her topics switch between somewhat serious and light hearted. Examples include friendships, food/health, travel, family, dating/love and entertainment/celeb gossip. It really feels like you’re in a conversation among friends, discussing everyday stuff that you would over brunch. She also shows real emotion which I appreciate.

My Favorite Murder

Okay, I know you’re thinking…murder isn’t funny or light. Well, technically you’re right; however, Georgia and Karen are so enthusiastic over true crime and their back-and-forth banter is hysterical. The girls go off on random tangents which really lightens the mood. Just imagine that you’re around in your living room hypothesizing with some friends about a well-known, old murder case – Ted Bundy, Jon Benet Ramsey, Son of Sam, etc. That’s what this is. They also have a weekly bonus episode where they have readers share their hometown murder stories, which are fascinating. In fact, their podcast is so popular that they just got back from a world tour. So, if you’re into true crime and enjoy hearing cases with a twist of humor, this is for you!

Other podcasts in this category that are on my list: Off The Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe, The Lively Show, Lady Gang.


Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

This is exactly what you would expect from Oprah – deep, meaningful, soulful. Similar to her show interviews, Oprah has one-on-one conversations with well-known people about various topics, from spirituality and God to finding your purpose and fulfilling your dreams. A few ones that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lately are conversations with Nate Berkus (on loss and design), Cheryl Strayed (on bravery) and Rob Bell (on religion). Each episode is roughly thirty minutes and can be listened to in any order. If you’re looking for a deep podcast or for some soul searching, this is for you. I think this would be a great podcast to listen to with significant others or family members to spark some meaningful conversations.


My mom turned me onto this podcast and I just loved it. It’s only one season and while there is an end, you are left asking questions. Set in rural Alabama, this is a real time story about small town corruption, drugs, money and murder. Most of the episodes are telephone calls between the journalist and John, the man living in “shit town” Alabama. Each episode leaves you wanting more and it’s an easy, quick podcast to run through (only 7 chapters total). It’s hard to categorize this because it’s true crime meets humor meets mental illness. While it’s funny at times, there is a lot of underlying sadness and I found it to be quite thought provoking.

 Other podcasts in this category that are on my list: The Moth


 Cold Case Files

If you watch Criminal Minds, SVU or…you guessed it, Cold Case Files, then this is for you. I am super fascinated with true crime and there are so many podcasts out there on this topic. The thing I like about this one in specific is that each episode discusses a different case that was once a “cold case” but was solved decades later…which is crazy because only about 1% of all cold cases are ever solved. Each episode is super enthralling and will have you guessing the outcome. They are only 30 minutes long and can be listened to in any order.


Unless you’re living under a rock you have probably heard of Serial. I feel like it’s what turned a lot of people onto podcasts in general as there was so much buzz and publicity around it. While I enjoyed this podcast, I felt that it was pretty biased. It paints an interesting picture of this murder case and has us wondering, was this guy wrongfully accused? If you drive a lot or are headed on a road trip or are ready to spend some time going down the rabbit hole, get started with Undisclosed next.


Hosted by three lawyers, this podcast dives deep into the legal aspect of the Adnan Sayed case. Since it’s approached from a completely different angle than the journalistic approach of Serial, they provide a different narrative of this story. You learn many more facts about the case, discover the likely scenarios of what happened and understand what went wrong from a legal perspective. The amount of injustice that Adnan experienced will have you fuming by the end of episode one. If you like criminal justice or want to learn more about our legal system, this is for you. There are multiple seasons of wrongfully accused, but season one is the only one I listened to.

Truth & Justice

What started as one man’s personal interpretation of Undisclosed turned into a huge podcast dedicated to proving innocent those that have been wrongfully accused. Working closely with many state Innocence Projects, host Bob Ruff’s initial season was regarding Adnan’s case also. He now has a vast following and has worked on multiple cases helping prove innocence (one man even is about to be released from prison thanks to his work). This podcast shows the power of crowd sourcing, as Bob utilizes each of his followers in their specific area of expertise. The current season is revisiting the case of the West Memphis 3 and it’s absolutely fascinating. It can be super slow and time consuming so I save this one for my longer drives.

Atlanta Monster

Fresh out the kitchen in January, this podcast is new and it is GOOD. It’s from the same guy who did “Up & Vanished” (next on my list, it’s about a cold case that happens to be solved while the podcast is airing. Insane!). If you’re from Atlanta or live in Atlanta, you need to download this immediately. It’s about a crime spree in the late 1907s/early 1980s where children were being abductions, yet not much was being done to help these poor children. This tale has haunted Atlanta for decades as it was a horrifying, scary time in the city’s history. It’s episodic so you’ll definitely have the urge to binge this one, as I’m doing right now.

Other podcasts in this category that are on my list: Up & Vanished, Crimetown, Homecoming (a psychological thriller)

What’s your favorite podcast?

Life Lately, Vol. 37

Happy Friday Y’all! This weekend is a fun one for us – my friends at Starwood are hosting us for a weekend in the Seaport and I’ll be sharing more on that next week!


Reading this interesting article about design trends for 2018. I’m definitely seeing the resort trend and herringbone (we’ve seen wood flooring a lot and tile too). What do you think of these trends?

Researching articles on budgeting – I’m trying real hard to work on getting our family on a budget of sorts. When you’re a “dink” (double income no kids), it’s an interesting position. On one hand, you’ve got minimal responsibilities and a lot of disposable income; however, there is a lot of room for overspending or oversaving. I would like us have us on the latter end! A few good articles are this and this.

Grilling for the first time this season, or at least trying to! We got a new Weber and finally were able to use it for the first time this week. Once warm weather stays, I am hoping to ditch the kitchen all together and just grill nonstop! A few recipes that are catching my eye are these cheddar bacon potatoes, grilled pizzas (been dying to try this!) and these grilled s’mores – OMG yum!

Enjoy your weekend!

Our New Living Space

When I announced that we were moving back in December, I put together a design board that gave a general outline of the style and feel I wanted our new place to have. Lucky for us, our home has some killer architectural character – 14’ ceilings, intricate molding, floor to ceiling windows with natural light & various built-ins. The bones are easy to work with but it did have some challenges as well, including a narrow/awkward living room layout, minimal storage and an overall small space of only 800 square feet.


With three of us (including our Frenchie, Mela) living here, I knew that we needed our main living space design to achieve 5 main goals:

  1. A bright, neutral color pallet
  2. Added storage, mainly hidden
  3. Comfortable seating for at least 4 (+ pup)
  4. A distinct dining area
  5. An open & spacious feel

Here’s how I did it:

A bright, neutral color pallet: The walls are a very light gray, the trim, molding, windows & ceiling are all bright white. I stuck to a cream/white/gray color scheme for all of the furniture to keep it visually bright and light. I incorporated some natural elements (wood coffee table, woven baskets, eucalyptus) to keep the space from feeling sterile. Also, I mixed various textures to warm up the room and keep it interesting – we’ve got microfiber, linen, silk, velvet, faux fur & more. Texture was key here.


Added storage: Behind the sofa and in the nook are woven baskets that store extra pillows, blankets and various dog toys. The coffee table also has two secret drawers that store all of our remotes, candles, chargers, etc. The buffet was the biggest game changer in this room – we have over 30 bottles of wine and a full bar in there. We also use this to store cute cocktail napkins, bar tools & cozies.

Design Tip: We keep the buffet top styled on every basis (less clutter), but we display a few items on a tray atop the bar when we have friends over.

living room1

Comfortable seating for 4: Our sofa is only 72” and though it’s not long enough for someone to sleep on (sorry out-of-town guests, you’ll have to get a hotel), it fits 2 comfortably and 2 more can sit on the chairs. If we are expecting more or need more seating, we can easily push back the sofa and add a few ghost chairs (or ottomans) for additional seating. We’ve had 4 people hanging out in the space multiple times and it’s always plenty of room.

Side note: Our space is too narrow to mount the television above the fireplace so we decided to place it on the wall across from the sofa. We rarely watch tv, but when we do it’s usually just us two and this is the most comfortable layout.

dining area2

A distinct dining area: If we didn’t have that pesky radiator on the back wall, I would have tried a bench/banquette against that wall and a rectangular table; however, I think that this 42” round tulip table works perfectly. I opted for ghost chairs for a few reasons – first, they take up minimal visual space so the area appears larger than it actually is. Can you imagine if there were four bulky chairs there? Second, they’re light weight and can be moved around easily when needed. Also, we can push the table against that back wall when hosting to open up the walkway between the kitchen & deck and use the table more as a serving piece.

living room2

An open & spacious feel: A huge mistake that people make (especially when renting/moving) is not using furniture that’s an appropriate scale for the space. Our sofa is only 72” but it’s the largest we could go for this room, without the hallway feeling crowded. We purchased two chairs and anchored it all with an oversized rug. By centering the furniture in front of the fireplace, not the room center, we were able to create a “sitting” area and a “bar” area. We played with a few layout options here and this one works the best for sure. Note that we also went with low profile furniture so that the bright window light wouldn’t be blocked.

Design tip: Ideally you want 36” for any walkway in your home to allow for a comfortable flow.

 So, there you have it, our little living room / dining room / bar space. Brownstones are always challenging to design because they’re long and narrow but I think that we did a great job maximizing our space, highlighting the features of the space and making a warm, inviting home. We love it here!

Life Lately, Vol. 36

Happy Friday Y’all! This week has flown by as I’ve been so busy and I couldn’t be happier that it’s the weekend. We’re grabbing dinner with some friends tonight and tomorrow I’m hoping for a productive day – we’ve got some errands to run, home projects to complete, etc. I’ve also got a LOT of blog projects in the work (including my website which still needs help…anyone have a tech they can recommend?) so it should be a fun but busy weekend. Enjoy yours!


It almost feels like Spring around here!

Wishing that I was traveling to Cape Town (for a million reasons) so that I could stay in this stunning Airbnb. This penthouse apartment is huge and decorated absolutely beautifully. It’s got a huge private roof deck with a plunge pool and insane 360 view of the city. Cape Town is one of those cities that you want to see from high up. The mountains, the ocean, the city…there’s so much to see! I must also mention that this place has my dream accordion doors which basically create an entire indoor-outdoor living space between the living room and the terrace. It’s truly stunning.

Reading this powerful piece about how fear holds us back. I remember speaking with a wise friend as I was going through my last breakup and she kept telling me that fear was dictating all of my decisions. Fear of being alone. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. I couldn’t agree with her more and I’ve since passed that advice along to others that I see falling into that pattern. Trust me, you should read this.

My design business is taking off and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I updated my design portfolio HERE but for some reason it’s not showing on my homepage (again, any tech gurus out there able to help?). I was recently approached by one friend to help with her studio apartment, a local business to redesign their employee lounge and a real estate company looking for design help for their clients. It’s overwhelming, exciting and scary all in the same. I do not claim to be an expert or label myself an “interior designer”; however, I’m trying to get more projects under my belt and learning as I go!

This Week on South End Style:

8 Easy Ways to Refresh Your Home Today

The Happiness Project, Part 1: Vitality

A Coastal California Road Trip

Life Lately, Vol. 35