Lulu’s New Room, The Full Reveal

Lulu's Pretty & Boho Room Reveal on The Big Reveal Blog

You guys, thank you so much for sticking with me over these six weeks while I made over Lulu’s new room. It has been a long, wild ride fraught with heaps of challenges and quite frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The room turned out just as I had imagined and Lulu is in love with it. While I’d normally talk your ear off, you guys have waited long enough, haven’t you? So, let’s dig in.  

Super, duper quick recap. As we transitioned Lulu to the guest bedroom after her room was flooded, we started out with this…

Cottage Bedroom Reveal Martha Stewart Salt Glaze Threshold Bedding

And, after we stripped it down from all it’s guest-yness. (Yeah, that’s a word today.) It looked like this tragic mess for about 3 months…

Lulu's Room In Transition

After winning multiple Mother of The Year awards, I finally got down to business. We painted, we replaced the off-putting light, and then we added my favorite accessories of all time.  Ready for a peek? Continue reading

One Room Challenge: Week 6 (aka My Sweet Girl’s Room, Part One)

Lulu Boho Room Reveal Part 1 on The Big Reveal Blog

{If you haven’t been around to see the evolution of this space as part of the One Room Challenge, check out Week 1: Plan of Attack, Week 2: Beautiful Bedding & A Mile Long To Do List, Week 3: All ‘Bout That Paint, Week 4: Party Arty, & Week 5: Where’s the Panic Button?.}

Just a mere week ago, I was in panic mode over completing the One Room Challenge. I told you all the trials and tribulations that had set my wee little makeover behind. It was a week stuffed full of lows.  This week, I put only positive vibes out into the universe and harnessed all the creative energy I could muster.  Last Thursday morning felt like a fresh start and I was ready to run to the finish line. (Remember my starting line?) Continue reading

One Room Challenge: Week 5 (a.k.a. Where is the Panic Button?)

One Room Challenge on The Big Reveal Blog by Grace Ray

{If you haven’t been following along, check out week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4 of the One Room Challenge.}

Ladies and gentlemen (I’m just assuming this is plural), this week I have been eating a big old serving of humble pie over here. And, as much as I enjoy pie (because pie is delicious), this one stinks. Just to roll back a tad, the first time I experienced the One Room Challenge was last Spring when my pal Laura made over her master bedroom.  As I scrolled through the other participants, while there were lots of success stories, I also saw tons of people talking about how this hadn’t gone according to plan, how they couldn’t fully reveal their finished room because this or that thing hadn’t come in on time, and in general just not completing the challenge in the way they had intended to when they started. And, my inflated ego said,  “Not me!”  I would never wait till the last minute to do anything. I will order things early, I will complete things ahead of schedule, so much so that I will be kicking it in week 5 with a completed room, my feet up, sipping a craft cocktail, with a perfect blowout and a mani pedi. (What? It’s my dream…) 

Well, as fate/karma/the universe would have it, it is week 5, the room is a complete unadulterated state-of-emergency level disaster and adding insult to injury, there is nary a tamed hair on my head or perfectly polished nail on my body. The quick trip down misery lane is best expressed through this desperate text I sent Laura on Monday: Continue reading

One Room Challenge: Week 4 (Party Arty!)

Yeah, I just made a play on party hearty.  I’m sorry, but if you were stuck in my brain, you would see the only options are poorly-conceived puns or badly-drafted song lyrics.  So, let’s just all be thankful you didn’t get stuck with “Don’t Be Arty for the Party” (if anyone gets that extremely tragic reference, you are officially my best friend and potentially have a reality tv problem.)

One Room Challenge on The Big Reveal Blog by Grace Ray

Moving on, it is week 4, folks! Week 4?!! If you’ve missed all the excitement, catch up here with week 1, week 2 & week 3 of my transformation of little Lulu’s room.  When I started planning this room, one of the areas I really struggled with was the artwork.  The last time I planned Lulu’s room, it was like a dream. I woke up one day and knew exactly what I wanted to do. I sketched it out with my 2nd grade level art skills and it was a spot on incarnation of what I dreamed. This time around I have felt a little stuck (with a touch of quick sand level fear attached).  For many weeks, I had a shell of an idea, but for some reason when it came down to the art, a giant blank, and now green, wall kept giving me the evil eye.  Continue reading

One Room Challenge: Week 3 (All ‘Bout That Paint)

Home Depot Paint Samples from the One Room Challenge on The Big Reveal Blog

For those of you who don’t know me, yeah, I just sang that to the tune of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” For those of you who do know me, yeah, I was simultaneously outraged that her Mama told her that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” It just seems like poor parenting. But, apparently “the world doesn’t need another song that objectifies women and “bass” & “treble” are not really clever substitutes for T & A” does not make for terribly catchy song lyrics. But, I digress…

Originally this post was going to be about the paint AND the lighting, but for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, the lighting just didn’t happen (and, it broke my design-loving heart).  But, first, if you are just joining us on week 3, check out week 1 & week 2 to get the deets. But, if you’ve been with me the whole time, let’s dive in, shall we?  Continue reading

One Room Challenge: Week Two (Beautiful Bedding & A Mile Long To Do List)

One Room Challenge on The Big Reveal Blog by Grace Ray

Last week, I kicked off the first installment of my One Room Challenge project: Lulu’s Room 2.0. If you didn’t happen to see it, check, check, check it out here.  When I sat down with Lulu to make a plan for her bedroom, she had a few hard and fast deal-breaking must haves. One of those was a loft bed, more specifically this Ikea loft bed…


Ikea loft bed as featured on The Big Reveal blog from Grace Ray

My initial reaction was meh and then when I went to visit it in the store, it was an overwhelming meh. In person, the bed is shorter than it looks and quite frankly not nearly as sturdy as I think a bed that is suspending your delicate-boned child in the air should be. So, I spent several weeks rebelling against the idea of this bed.

I looked at plans to build my own and even had convinced myself this was a dandy idea until I remember that I don’t actually own any tools. Long story short, after a summer of working myself into a tizzy about doing anything but this bed, I finally gave into that mystical Ikea lure. You know the one I’m talking about.  All high off of Swedish meatballs and inexpensive prices, you bring home that seemingly cute and innocent little furniture purchase only to bloody yourself and compromise your emotional wellbeing trying to assemble $3 worth of materials into something that doesn’t make you want to tear your eyes out…wait, is that just me? Continue reading

One Room Challenge: Week 1

One Room Challenge on The Big Reveal Blog by Grace RayIf you aren’t familiar with the One Room Challenge™, it is a 6 week decorating challenge hosted by Calling It Home.  Twice a year, Linda invites folks to pick one room in their home, jazz it up and document it.  The lucky 20 bloggers she personally invites get all kinds of free goodies from several major sponsors to perk up their space.  As a guest participant, I get paint fumes, splinters and oh, yeah, the joy of a finally decorated room!:)  Me and my smart *ss couldn’t be more excited to get this ball rolling.

Last Spring I watched Laura transform her master bedroom as part of the challenge. If you haven’t seen the results, pause, click here and then come back.  It is so dreamy and lovely, isn’t it? And, now that I have seen it in person, I can attest it is not photoshop trickery. (On a side note, I once sent my parents a photo of my newly styled and very clean bedroom and my dad’s reply was, “Nice to see you’ve learned Photoshop…” Nice, Dad. Real nice.)

As most of you know, I am in the baby stages of making over Lulu’s room.  When Laura mentioned the Fall Challenge, I knew public shaming would be the single greatest impetus to get that project done already.  If you are checking out this blog for the first time, the brief backstory is about a year and a half ago, I made over my then 5 year old daughter’s room.  It turned out like this… Continue reading

Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings with Grace Ray From The Big Reveal Blog

                                                         Image Via @chyparker

Oh man, I got knocked on my derriere this week by a nasty cold and have been way behind on pretty much life.  Because I have some scar tissue from having my nose broken twice, a simple cold is never simple. I usually go from cold to sinus infection in no time flat.  Keeping with my desire to only love expensive things, my body likes to wait until a weekend, so I can’t just go to a regular doctor with a simple copay, but someone that costs an asinine amount of money for the same service. At least I know what my weekend holds, right?;) 

But, your weekend is gonna be awesome, friend! I’ve got some fun things for you to check out.  When I went on my recent trip to Chicago, I asked you all for some suggestions on favorite podcasts to listen to for my 12 hour trip.  I have been ob-sessed with Serial & Undisclosed and recently discovered Serial Dynasty, but since I have totally binged on all of that (and it had become pretty much the only topic I could speak on intelligently), I felt like it was time to branch out. Here are three new favorites: Continue reading

Meet the Makers of Renegade

Territory Design at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago by Grace Ray of The Big Reveal

Last weekend, I hit up the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago with my homie Laura Irion from Avery Street Design. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words “craft fair”, I instantly think of handmade quilts and lacy doilies from some grandma’s basement. There is something about it that just feels infinitely uncool, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am going to suggest they rename it either Renegade Indie-Craft Fair or more aptly Renegade Bad *ss Fair. (That would probably be hard to put on a billboard, though…)

When Laura suggested we spend the entire day at the fair, I really had no idea that she meant We arrived around 10:30 and left just before 6:30 after finally seeing and savoring the last booth. If that seems excessive, just check out the map to get a better feel for the enormity of it. 

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago Map on The Big Reveal Blog

Yes, those are city blocks and yes, that fine print is chocked full of hundreds of vendors. There were tons of new-to-me artisans, as well as many that I have admired online and I wanted to introduce you to just a few of my absolute favorites. It was so hard to narrow the list down from over 350 vendors, so stick with me if you want to meet some amazing peeps and see some majorly beautiful things! And, if you want to know my top Christmas wishlist item, you’ll have to stay till the very end. (Mom, I’m talking to you:)) Continue reading

Under The Veil

Snail Mail by Grace Ray from The Big Reveal Blog

You and I have to clear the air.  If you’ve been around here for a while, this is for you.  If you’re new here, this is probably a good primer for you to decide if you’re going to stick around. 

First of all, I want to say I’m sorry. I think I’ve given a lot of you a false impression of who I am and what I stand for. I touched on this a little in my last post and yes, I’m aware that statement sounded overly dramatic:) When I started this blog over a year ago, I had this lofty goal of posting three times a week.  I had this vision of talking about my personal journey, my whole Year Without Fear goal thing, and for this site being a place of inspiration and personal connection.  I honestly don’t know how it happened, but shortly thereafter, I looked up and realized this place had become a homogenized mess of things I’m not sure I’m really all that excited about. 

My very first week of blogging, I was recognized by a much, much larger blog and suddenly I went from having 10 people look at my blog to having thousands of people look at my blog. I immediately felt this pressure to make my blog about something, to have a niche. I do truly love home decor and while I am in the process of trying to makeover this house with zero dollars, I felt this intense (irrational and totally internal) pressure to churn out Pinable projects. And, in doing so, I pushed what was once a personal project I felt connected to into just another project. 

Part of the push came when I was asked by Twin Cities Live to become their Lifestyle Expert.  When I met with their producers and they uttered those words, I nearly snorted my latte. First off what the hell is a “lifestyle expert” and truly, who the hell really is one? Being a lifestyle expert, in my very humble opinion, is a giant crock of sh*t. Not one human being on this planet is an expert at living. It felt pretentious and ridiculous, but I remember thinking that this was just my “in”. (Not to mention the fact, it isn’t often that someone asks you to be on tv, so…)  At that meeting I pitched my idea of a Year Without Fear series of segments, where I could interview people doing really cool, courageous things or maybe a YWF challenge to inspire people to live their lives more fully.  (In their defense, the producers are totally nice people and I love being on the show, but the void they needed me to fill on their show was more “inspire people to bedazzle pumpkins” than inspire people to live a fearless life.)

So, I ended up in this push pull cycle of either doing segments that I wasn’t fully stoked about or not have a chance to be on tv. Obviously I chose the former. (Can you blame me?) Doing a live tv segment is like riding a roller coaster.  You get all excited about doing it, it is a total rush and then the moment you are done, you want to ride again. I literally could be talking about a colonoscopy on live tv and probably still get a rush. (Why did I just type that?  Please, never ask me to talk about colonoscopies. I blame you, Katie Couric.)

And, then about 6 months ago, I was contacted by a producer for HGTV.  She wanted to know if I would be interested in staring in my own unscripted tv show. (Uh, yes, yes, I would.) We talked back and forth for a couple of months, we made a video for her to show her colleagues at a pitch meeting, she interviewed a couple of my friends. Once again, I pitched inspiration, maybe a show like my series Rad People, Rad Spaces or one where we make over spaces, like a non-profit. While she loved the ideas, in the end the pitch fell flat because her company wasn’t interested in “interior designers.” (Yeah, I snorted at that idea, too!)  Have I really given the impression that I am remotely qualified to be called a lifestyle expert or an interior designer?

I looked at the “evidence” of what people might be able to discern from my blog, social media & tv experience, and I realized I was portraying something that I’m really not. Between TCL and my blog, I found myself essentially playing a character. By day I’m bedazzling pumpkins, decorating my porch for Fall, throwing imaginary Oscar parties, but for realz I don’t care about ANY of that. I don’t decorate seasonally.  I just can’t. It gives me the hives.  My daughter wants to turn our front lawn into a tacky Halloween display of inflatable ghosts and spider webs and I want to die. When Christmas comes around, I put up our advent calendar and barely scrape together a Christmas tree, though the entire time I’m decorating it, I think about what an enormous pain in the butt it is to put away. (Thank you to Kyla for sharing my disdain and dysfunction.)

I was once asked to do a post on using leftover Christmas wrapping paper and my first thought was what the ever-loving hell, you throw it away! (Or, recycle it, if you remember to.) No, I’m not making a craft out of it.  No, I’m not putting it in a frame. On. My. Wall.  Are you people nuts?  And, that’s the dilemma I’ve gotten myself into. I clearly have created this persona where people think I am the type of person who makes Christmas cookies (I don’t and while I totally appreciate the sentiment, I don’t want yours either), who plans out stylish ensembles (clearly we’ve never met IRL. I once wore suspenders backwards. I rest my case.), or who has a well decorated house (just hold onto that thought for a minute).

This persona thing has never been more clear to me than when I recently had a guest over to my house.  She had looked at my blog and I guess got this idea that I have my shit together (spoiler alert: I do not.) When she walked into my house, her disappointment was almost palpable and I felt like she was totally justified.  

Social media as a general rule of thumb makes people want to perfect that which really can’t and should be perfect: life. Our houses, our marriages, our parenting, our wardrobes.  I don’t know about you, but I just can’t take it anymore.  I don’t want to contribute to a societal norm that makes people feel displeasure with their own lives and I also don’t want you to walk away from reading anything I post here or anytime I appear anywhere else without the impression of the real me.

So, who am I? I am an imperfect girl (who believes even 40 year olds can still call themselves a girl) who is deeply passionate about caring for other people, who really wants to add value to this world, who wants to save people from suffering, and who wants to spread a little happiness. I want this corner of the web to be a place of community, where we can talk about the real deal, be vulnerable, be supportive and walk out feeling bolstered.  So, I’m kicking this off with a few things you should know about me and I hope you will share some, too.

Stuff I care about/spend my time on/like a lot:

  • Children, all children, their wellbeing, their futures
  • Feeding people
  • Spreading joy
  • Being a smart ass (other than caring about people, I think there is no greater gift than a sense of humor.)
  • Writing well
  • Taking good photos (but not missing out on moments, because I’m trying to “capture” them.)
  • Creating community (as an introvert, I struggle with this hardcore, but I crave it equally hardcore.)
  • Having a relationship with God/Jesus (I was raised Catholic, so talking about it isn’t a strong suit and finding and sustaining it ain’t easy for me.)
  • Making all people feel loved, particularly people who don’t
  • Your comments, emails, DMs, any way you tell me more about you and what you are thinking (see “Creating Community” above.)
  • Pretty things (I can’t help it, I just like pretty stuff.  Pretty flowers. Pretty home decor. Pretty shoes.  I may not have most of what’s on that list, but I really do love them all.)

Stuff I don’t care about/entirely loathe/am terribly annoyed by:

  • Seasonal decorating
  • Facebook (I often think it is the first step in the downfall of our society.)
  • Excessive Use of Selfies, selfie sticks, shirts that say #celfie (While I never would advocate for violence at any time, I sometimes ponder grabbing that selfie stick and thwacking you on the head, more as a “Dude, are you for real right now? You are carrying around a stick awkwardly in your back pocket for what exactly?  To take a picture…of yourself…Can we just stop to think about this for a minute?)
  • Objectification of women and children (makes me furious and sometimes momentarily lose hope in humanity)
  • People who use their religion to do/say/justify hateful things
  • Mean spirited anything (people, comments, messages)
  • Granite countertops & beige walls
  • Washing dishes 
  • Leggings worn as pants (For the love of all that is good and holy, please cover your tushy.)

Things that scare me for the future of the human race:

  • Teenagers
  • Video Games
  • Pornography
  • The internet

Things I wish I could do well/do better:

  • Dance 
  • Paint
  • Play the guitar (Anyone want to teach me?)
  • Parent 
  • Fix the world

Things that make my heart go woowoo:

  • Babies (I swear all tiny babies make my ovaries start to full on freak out.)
  • John Oliver (Humor + Skewering social injustice = Love)
  • When either of my kids give me a spontaneous hug or compliment (Case in point, last night at a fundraiser for my nonprofit, my 16 son said, “It’s kinda cool how many kids you are helping.” and I swear my heart almost burst out of my chest. Just note, I think he may have been buttering me up, because he wanted to leave early, but I don’t care.)
  • The way my husband pushes up his sleeves. (Totally weird thing to find attractive, but I own it.)
  • Snail Mail (Mostly because I like spreading joy, but also for the pretty paper.)

So, what about you? What do you love? What makes your heart go woowoo?  What drives you completely nuts? Put it down there in the comments or send me an email (grace(at)  I’d love to hear from you!

Next week, I’m going to share the current state of my casa and what my plans are.  There are lots of updates you haven’t seen and some other spaces that will make you cringe. For now, I am off to see this girl in Chicago!

Laura Irion of Avery Street Design and Grace Ray of The Big Reveal Blog

Yes, that’s Laura Irion from Avery Street Design. (She was trying to teach me the art of mirror selfies and I’ve found the only mirror selfies I like are the ones where she is photo bombing.) I’m also going to be hanging with Kyla from House of Hipsters, too. #designamigos ride again. We are hitting the Renegade Craft Fair. (Please pray for me and my credit cards.)

Have a great weekend,