Ask Casey No. 11

I get lots of design questions from you guys, but I actually get questions about a lot of other things happening in my life, like marriage, blogging, motherhood, fashion…really every single category! So, I tackle your inquiries in my “Ask Casey” blog post series answering your questions every month or so.

Ask Casey No. 11

Ask Casey No. 3

Here are a few past posts if you want to catch up…

The google form at the bottom of the post has helped me keep everything organized so I can slowly make my way through your inquiries.  So, if you have another question today, be sure to submit it down below.

Well, This is 33Setting my 2021 home goals

Today, I turned 33. During last year’s birthday, I had a newborn so the day was a bit of a blur. In fact, during this entire year I’ve kinda had to think really hard to remember how old I am. We recently celebrated Finn’s birthday in March and when I toasted him I said, “Congrats on turning 33!”. To which he replied, “Um, Casey, I’m turning 34.” Palm to forehead. I blame 2020 for my lack of knowing what year it is, how old I am, and how old my husband is. Yeesh.

Anyway, today I am officially 33 and I thought it would be fun to answer some of your questions.

iPhone PhotographyHow I use Trello to plan my week

Do you have any iPhone photography tips? 

Yes! I think the iPhone really can take amazing photos. While I opt for my DSLR for 99% of my blog photos, I love taking family and real-life pictures with my iPhone. The quality can’t be beat. Here are some general tips…

  1. Wipe the lens: I usually just take my shirt or a cloth and wipe the lens before I snap away. Rory is always grabbing my phone and it gets smudges and dirt all over it. You’ll be amazed by how much better your pics look just by wiping the lens first.
  2. Use natural light: When I take pictures for the blog, most of the time I turn off all of the overhead lighting and only rely on natural light. That means that a majority of my photo shoots happen in the day. If you’re outside, shade is always best and if you’re inside, try to bring your subject closer to a window.
  3. Download editing software: I personally use the program VSCO and I love it. It has so many tools to lighten and brighten your photos. I always bump exposure, saturation, clarity, and then tweak the white balance.

My friend, Kim, is an amazing photographer and recently did a blog post all about taking great pictures with your phone. Check out her blog post for even more tips. There’s also an old post here on the blog specifically about taking baby pictures with your iPhone and editing them.

Cleaning TipsSpring cleaning mode

Can you go over simple cleaning tasks and products like washing windows? 

We now have cleaning people come to our house every other week to clean our home from top to bottom. It’s money well spent for us as it frees up valuable time on the weekends to be together as a family. Because of this, I don’t clean as much as I used to! However, I do love a good spring clean and lately, I’ve been working on our windows.

I actually polled my Instagram followers in search of the best tips to wash windows. Here’s a look at some of the most recommended best tips to clean windows

In the end, I bought this e-cloth and it has been fantastic! You simply get one of the rags wet, wash your window, and use the other rag to buff it dry. No cleaners, no chemicals, no sprays. It actually works super well and I’m happy I went for it. But I do want to try some of the other window cleaning methods to see how they hold up.

As for other cleaning tips, I’ve actually done a few blog posts on this topic over the years. This post dives into my spring cleaning checklist (I’ve gotta make a point to do some of these soon!) and this blog post dives into what used to be my weekly cleaning checklist, back before I hired it out.

Design GoalsMy best tips to arrange pillows on a king size bed

Is your goal to someday take on design clients?

Nope. That really is just not an interest of mine and it’s not something I would add to my current business model. I probably get a dozen design inquiries a week and I always send them to local designers who specifically focus on design clients. I don’t consider myself to be an interior designer. Instead, I’m a content creator who is sharing her home and DIY projects with the world. It’s nice knowing that I could always take on clients someday, if that interested me, but for now, I like doing my own thing in my own house!

Splurge vs. SaveKitchen renovation regrets, what would we do differently?

When it comes to stuff for the home, where do you splurge and where do you save money?

That is such a good question as it can feel very overwhelming and expensive to furnish and decorate an entire house. In fact, I actually did a blog post all about the REAL cost to decorate your home. My rule of thumb is to usually splurge on items that you will be touching/feeling/using every day. For example, your couch should be comfortable because it’s something you’ll sit on every day. But your side table? It doesn’t really matter if it’s the highest quality piece in the entire world. I also don’t ever really go over the top on accessories and I find most of mine at thrift stores, antique shops, HomeGoods, or Target! I just don’t see the appeal in an expensive object that just sits on top of a dresser.

I think the same can be said when it comes to home renovation projects. For our kitchen, we spent a big chunk of change on our kitchen cabinets. (You can read more about the ones we chose and the cost right here.) You will use and touch your kitchen cabinets daily and buying the nicest cabinets you can afford is always a good idea. Pretty much all of the accessories in my kitchen are from Target, HomeGoods, are DIY’ed, or are a family piece passed down to me. I didn’t spend much money at all accessorizing our kitchen.

Kitchen QuestionsLarge wooden tray from HomeGoods

Where do you keep your counter foods (like onions & apples)? Where is your garbage disposal switch?

I have a big wood tray that I found at HomeGoods, years ago, and it has become our produce tray. It mostly holds bananas, apples, and avocados in our house. Here’s a pretty wood tray from CB2.  Adding decorative pears to the dining room tableI also have this marble fruit stand that I sometimes put on our dining room table to hold pears or apples. Underneath the kitchen sink

As for the garbage disposal switch, we had them add it underneath our sink. It’s really easy to open the cabinet, flip it on, and flip it off, since our sink is in the middle of our kitchen island. You can see the little panel they made for it in the picture above.

Future PlayroomHow to add soundproof panels to your home office

Do you have any plans for a playroom and outdoor play area for Rory?

Our original plan was to create a designated playroom in our basement for Rory. We figured half of the basement would be a cozy couch and TV setup and the other half would hold her larger toys, toy storage, books, etc. However, the pandemic threw a wrench into those plans since Finn is now working from home in our basement.

We’ve added a few toy storage pieces to the basement (this bench and this open storage) and it’s nice to come down here when Finn isn’t working to give Rory a change of scenery. Once we have a better idea of when Finn might be going back to the office, we’ll start to figure out the downstairs. Besides just creating a playroom, we want to redo the carpet, trim, doors, etc. down there, so it will eventually be a pretty big project.Our lawn and new white vinyl fence

As for the outside, we won’t be installing a swingset or anything like that. We have an awesome park nearby that we love to visit. Instead, we’re keeping the grass, which covers our entire side yard, so she will have plenty of room to run and play. I’m sure we’ll also get some fun toys this summer like a baby pool or water table. But for the most part, we’ll only have items that we can tuck away in our garage when not in use.

Submit Your Questions

Have a question you want to be answered? Use the google form below and I’ll answer it in the next Ask Casey post.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.