• The Best Shade of Lipstick for your Pig

    So it’s time to list your house. Sigh. Are you sure you’re ready? The number one reason for divorce is moving. OK, so that’s not exactly true. But the real number one reason for the dreaded D word is money. What’s the biggest investment of your life? Your home. See, one in the same. Read on for our tried and true tips to staying out of Judge Judy’s courtroom during the big move.

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  • Pack Picks: Entertaining Essentials

    Jon sent me an email yesterday with the subject line “FUN!”. I literally could not wait to open it. Was it a list of vacation locations, houses to flip, a coop of chickens looking for a home, an idea for a donut shop? All of the aforementioned would have got my tongue wagging and been totally fitting of the subject line but what was inside was pretty good too. According to Jon, our entertaining game could be stepped up a notch and so he put together a list of *entertaining essentials* we “needed” with a challenge for me to find the coolest ones, at the best price. I got the GIANT copper mule mugs he was after and started down an outdoor design rabbit hole and then I remembered the subject line again, “fun”. That’s the ultimate goal when entertaining, isn’t it? Here’s what we came up with:

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  • Not A One-Stop Shop

    Recently we had a client become so ready for the projects to be complete, when it came to the furniture and accessories (my favorite!), they implored us to just order it all from one store. So boom!, it could be done tomorrow. No. A hard no. And here’s why. Though you may step inside Pottery Barn and ooh and ahh and wish your home could look *just like that*, it can’t, and you don’t want it to. When a home is designed well, it is a beautiful reflection of the people in it. Like holding up a mirror to your little family on your best day. Your smiles are like sunbeams, you’re all wearing your favorite color, complementing each other perfectly. That’s what a well thought out, lived in and loved home looks like to me. Don’t rush it, I promise it will be worth the wait. Here’s what the Pack does when we’re staging a home for clients, and we even hold each other to this same rule when designing our own homes. (Jon’s the, “want it now, impatient one” so trust me, it’s a battle for us too.)

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  • Nixon 2.0 For President

    I’ve always had an affinity for the red, white and blue. Patriotic pride pumps through my veins and with a last name of Nixon, we get asked about our relation to the President on the regular. Funny story. When my mom was pregnant with me she was so sure I was a girl that she agreed to let my dad name me if I turned out to be a boy. He was ecstatic and had picked out the moniker Ronald Reagan Race (my maiden name). Could you imagine?! When he asked about future grandchildren he begged me to consider the name Reagan, as my dad had dubbed him one of the Great Ones. One more time I ask you, could you imagine?! Reagan Nixon. Poor babe. Sorry Dad, no Reagan Nixon, but we did whip up a pretty sweet Presidential Library as a playroom for Grey. It’s the perfect accompaniment to his retreat nursery, Camp David Grey next door. 

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  • Hunting in the Paper Mache Forest

    If I could snap my fingers and have the entire house painted, renovated and curated, I’d do it. OK, that’s not true. I say that I’d like it all done in an instant, but the truth is, this is the fun part. Now. When everything is in disarray and I spend ridiculous amounts of time scouring the internet salvage shops Insta stories Earth for the best finds. I start to get itchy when a home’s done. Then I rearrange, repurpose and repaint all while listening to Jon’s grumbles. Isn’t it done yet?! Well, it was, but, then the vision changed. The vision I had for Grey’s nursery was a clear one and so that is the room that’s done first. This will be a two-parter. The nursery and the playroom are Jack and Jill style with a bathroom connecting the two. We went with a theme fit for a President. Those of you who know us well will get it. Does he have to grow up to be a President? No, certainly not. But I want him to know he can be. He can do anything. And so our theme is this – the playroom is a Presidential Library with nods to the Great Ones (that’s for you, Dad!) with the perfect blend of learning and fun. We’ll get to the library next time. But today, let’s focus on Camp David, or rather, Camp Grey.

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  • Before You Paint Your Molding, Try This

    You know I didn’t see our current home before Jon pulled the trigger, right? Thank goodness. Because I would have vetoed it immediately. Frankly, I wouldn’t have scheduled a showing after viewing the photos online. He’s a brave soul, no? It was dark. It looked cold. It was lifeless. (insert flatline on a heart monitor here). It has dark wood molding. Blehh. My grandmother’s house has wood paneling and she keeps begging my Grandpa to paint it and he refuses. My in-law’s house had wood molding everywhere, until we convinced them to paint it white. My MIL was on board immediately but it was my father-in-law whom I lovingly dubbed BG (Big George) who resisted the most. For it was he who would have to painstakingly sand, prime, and paint every inch of the 2,400 square feet. I will now issue a formal apology, because, dun dun dunnn, I have turned to the dark side. I’m a fan.

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  • CEO-O: Chief Expert of Online Ordering

    I’ve just crawled out from under roughly 198 moving boxes, and must be a glutton for punishment because the boxes keep coming and it feels like me and the post lady are besties. I am, however, #1 on the hitlist of the UPS guy (and my wonderful husband). I feverishly tear open the latest delivery, marvel at the wrong color, damage from transit, awesomeness and find a home for it. Meanwhile leaving the box and all its packaging for my husband to sort through and recycle. I am so that kid on Christmas morning that rips through the presents and leaves the wrapping for mom and dad to clean up. Sorry, Jon!

    Sourcing, ordering and arranging items to create your dream space can feel like a full time job. I have spent more hours than I care to admit pouring over countless design boards for inspiration, browsing a ridiculous number of online shops to score the perfect look, and more importantly the best deal. That’s not even the end of it. When it finally arrives at your doorstep, the real work begins to make sure you arrange everything in a way that makes sense, is aesthetically pleasing, and feels like you. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

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  • Our Moving Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

    Well, we made it. Nice to meet you new home. From telling friends and family that I didn’t get to see our house until after the closing, I found out that this is not really the norm for most. People were appalled. What if you don’t like it?! Let me say this. Jon, you did a spectacular job. I mean it. In choosing our “forever house” (more on that later), organizing our cross-country move, and lifting all the boxes. Poor guy. I’ve told you before that moving is a major cause of the dreaded D-word. For us, it’s a form of marital therapy. Now listen, I’m not saying it’s all unicorns and butterflies. Certainly not. This was actually the most stressful move in the history of the #NixonPack. I told Jon I was writing this blog and asked if he had any advice for people about to undertake such a challenge. His answer? Don’t. OK, so he’s still a little sore. Here’s what we came up with after a few Coronas minutes of reflection on the moving process from Chicago to New York:
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  • The only box you need to pack

    For about two months before the stork brought home, the crazy midwife (who was texting throughout my entire 23 hour labor) delivered, the arrival of our sweet Grey Mitchell Nixon, I had a “go bag” packed. It had all the necessities, or so I thought. As a first time mom, I had absolutely no idea what I needed and ended up packing a glam bag filled with HD makeup, a stylish Panama hat and one incredibly overpriced outfit that was three sizes too big for a brand new baby. Obviously, none of those things were used. I’m much better at packing a “go box” with all the essentials you need for your next move. Here they are:

    A comfortable unpacking outfit for everyone in your family. If you’re like us, you get up from the closing table, shake hands with the attorney and bolt to the new house as fast as humanly possible. Chances are you’re in fancy work clothes and those just won’t do for heavy lifting (or pointing as I’m famous for).

    Bathroom Bag. A roll of toilet paper, paper towels and hand soap. Even if you’re just starting the process and not sleeping there that night, you’ll use these. And a tip from the self-professed germaphobe – bring some lysol wipes for the seat.

    Snacks. Because everyone gets hangry and there is nothing worse than an exhausted, over-worked, stressed-out hungry person. Especially family and friends who have been signed up for hard labor and no pay.

    Paperwork. We keep a folder with all of the phone numbers, new house information, dog records and the like just in case. If God forbid an emergency happened during the move, you don’t want to have to rummage through dozens of boxes to find what you need.

    A picnic dinner. Jon and I love laying a blanket out in the middle of our favorite room in the house and celebrating with a picnic dinner. Two homes ago, it was on the floor of our bedroom, with sleeping bags because we didn’t yet have a mattress, and we dined on Chocolate Pizza. For the new house, I packed Annie’s Mac & Cheese because let’s be honest, it’s easy and kid-friendly. I can’t wait to see what room we choose to picnic in this time around. And yes, the “go box” contains an old pot and 3 bowls. Don’t forget utensils!

    Kid stuff. So far, Grey has taken this move like a champ. He’s his usually funny, energetic, sweet self and I am oh so thankful. But we’re not in the new house just yet. When we arrive, I want him to know he is home, safe, and everything is as normal as it can possibly be. So the box has a few of his favorite books and toys, his POTUS sippy cup and stuffed chameleon.

    Pet Stuff. One of our dogs has epilepsy and takes three different medications twice a day. We cannot be without them, period. Those are first to be added to the big box, but we also throw in some treats to reward their good behavior throughout the moving process. There’s no fence at the new place, so we are packing a makeshift one until Jon gets a move on it the ground thaws and we can start digging. All you need are some heavy duty plastic stakes and chicken wire. We get it 4 feet high to ensure they can’t sneak out.

    A memento from your last house. For me, it’s our Saint Joseph collection we’ve amassed from selling so many homes throughout the years. They are tiny little men, but hold a special meaning for me. When trying to sell your house, you recite a prayer, then bury your statue. Once sold, you’re supposed to dig it up and put it in a place of honor in your next home. Bringing them to the new house is a warm reminder of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

    Valuables. Whether it be your watch collection, Grandmother’s engagement ring, or your Dad’s urn, do not let them out of your sight. We hear from clients all the time that boxes have mysteriously disappeared during a move and they’ve never seen them again. Imagine losing something so precious?

    What items do you add to your “go bag”? Share with us below!



  • If walls could talk, they’d beg you to keep them

    The most recent #NixonPack house was a total gut. I was several months pregnant and looking back, that may not have been the very best time to completely renovate a home. My husband and the whip marks on his back would agree. Kidding! (Okay, half joking). We bought the house from an elderly couple and it just felt like the walls were begging to be stripped of the 1974 wallpaper and the odd (and completely unnecessary) soffits in the kitchen. Finding out the wall between the kitchen and the living room wasn’t load bearing? Jackpot! Must. Come. Down. Every show I had seen on HGTV smashed the walls down and honestly? It looked like fun. Now time for the reality check – when you see it on TV they have done most of the pre-work so you see the big reveal moment at the very end when they miraculously plow through to the other side. Not the case IRL. But I must say, after watching my husband do it, there’s something pretty Superman about the process and boy is it gratifying to see it wide open at the end of the day. OK, so we fully committed – our entire first floor is  W I D E   O P E N. I mean open the front door and see an unobstructed view to the backyard kind of open. Here’s what we like about it and what we don’t so you have an arsenal of knowledge before you get out the sledge hammer.

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