8 Days in Italy: What I Packed

Sourced content from: https://centsationalstyle.com/2021/10/8-days-in-italy-what-i-packed/

It’s been a few days I’ve been in Italy, visiting Venice, Florence, and Verona. In the past ten years I’ve visited a lot of European countries but I haven’t been back to Italy in almost two decades so I’m thrilled to return! If you follow my stories on Instagram, I’ve shared some images of what this week has been like so far.

I’m not a fashion blogger, I travel for the experience and to take a lot of pictures of the landscapes and scenery. I value comfort but I don’t want to look sloppy either so I will bring clothing that make me feel good while I walk around town. I travel light, wear layers, rewash and rotate my outfits. I stick with classic styles but I prefer to mix feminine and edgy.

Today take a peek at some of the separates I brought with me on my trip to Italy and the travel gear I bring with me too!


long sleeve swing dress / faux leather jacket

black camo leggings / red lace cami / black combat boots

mustard crewneck sweater / lace trim top / stretch ripped jegging 

satin leopard print skirt (similar here) / gold sneakers

marble leggings / black v neck sweater / black sneakers

tie dye sweatshirt  / red midi skirt (similar)

packable puffer jacket / lightweight moto jacket

black floral blouse (similar) / black jeggings/  black stretch rayon dress /

I brought clothing that can be mixed and reworn in different combinations. Comfy leggings or jeggings, a few dresses and skirts, patterned or colorful tops and super comfortable shoes!


samsonite spinner / this lightweight duffle (sale price here)

jewelry bag / black crossbody (night)

marble cosmetic bags / small backpack (day)


A few tips that I follow that help me pack super light:

1. Roll instead of fold your clothing, it’s amazing how much this saves space!

2. Stay in a vacation rental with a washing machine mid way through your trip so you can wash and rewear clothing. Keep in mind some places only have a washer not a dryer so budget 24 hours of time for clothes to dry.

3. Try every outfit on! I’ve skipped this step before and realized I’d gained or lost a little weight or I brought the wrong version of something and smacked my forehead not doing this. Especially since comfort is so key!

4. Stick to a basic color palette, mix in one or two patterned dresses and a few colorful tops/sweaters/skirts.

5. Shoes: comfortable is essential but cute is important too! I like leather sneakers plus a pair of boots in colder weather or sandals in warm weather. The one thing you don’t want is blisters so break in any shoes before you leave, but bring blistercare gel bandages just in case.


I’ll be in Italy a few more days! I’ll share the regular weekend post on Sunday and back to blogging when I get back to the States next week.

Ask any questions you have and I’ll get back to you in the comments. Ciao!

The best Le Creuset sales ahead of Black Friday – from £13.99

Sourced content from: https://www.idealhome.co.uk/news/le-creuset-sale-258651

Whether you’re buying new cookware in time for Christmas or stocking up whilst prices are cheap, these are the top Le Creuset sales in the UK right now. From everywhere including Amazon, Wayfair, Brand Alley and even Le Creuset direct. Just before Black Friday 2021.

Whatever you are searching for, we’ve found deals on all things from Le Creuset espresso mugs to Le Creuset casserole dishes – and everything in between. In all colours, too including the classic Volcanic Orange. Perhaps you’re buying Le Creuset for somebody else? Their kitchenware does make a lovely present idea, whether for birthdays, Christmas or as a wedding present. Just an idea.

Don’t miss: Best saucepans – for cooking up a storm

We’ve done the job of searching for Le Creuset offers for you, to save you scrolling through pages and pages of deals. If you’re shopping for new cookware that you want to last, then don’t miss your chance to save big in these Le Creuset sales. And, clearly, there’s no need to wait out for the Le Creuset Black Friday deals.

Le Creuset sale quick links

We’ve only included genuine Le Creuset in our list of offers. These are the best Le Creuset deals we found on the web right now, click on them to head straight to the retailer and buy now.

More Le Creuset sale deals…

Not (yet) found what you’re looking for? Keep scrolling and click the ‘BUY NOW’ buttons to shop these deals.

Le Creuset.co.uk sale

Le Creuset Kone with Fixed Whistle 1.6L Stovetop Kettle | £85 £63.75 at Le Creuset
This whistling kettle has a 1.6L capacity and it’s perfect for use on a stovetop. It’s suitable for all hobs, including gas, electric, glass and induction, while it will certainly take centre stage in your kitchen. Choose from a huge range of colours, from Volcanic Orange to Shell Pink and everything in between.

Buy now

Wayfair Le Creuset sale

Le Creuset Stoneware Espresso Cup | £16.52 £13.99 a Wayfair
Switch your espresso cups for some Le Creuset ones and stick them on display in your kitchen. A total bargain, plus they are on sale in Volcanic Orange – our favourite colour.

Buy now

Le Creuset Stoneware 0.25 L Petite Casserole | £21 £19.37 at Wayfair
These mini casserole dishes make dinner parties look that little bit fancier, and they rid the need to serve dinner from the table – or in the kitchen beforehand. You could even use them for serving dips or nibbles, and with a handy lid, they make concealing your food from bugs and flies that bit easier. A bargain price for four, especially if you are collecting other Le Creuset Volcanic Orange cookware.

Buy now

Le Creuset Non-Stick 26 cm Round Non-Stick Steel Springform Pan | £33 £29.29 at Wayfair
Whether for baking a Victoria sponge cake or for refrigerating your famous strawberry cheesecake, this 26cm rounded pan ought to help do this job – leak-free. It’s also non-stick and it has a removable bottom for ease of use, while you can pop it in a dishwasher after use to cut down your washing up pile.

Buy now

Le Creuset Signature 23cm Frying Pan | £120 £101.97 at Wayfair
Use this Le Creuset frying pan for searing your meat to cooking your pasta sauce, and even frying up some shakshuka eggs. With a pouring spout on either side, it’s very simple to use, though bear in mind it’s quite heavy. It has a handle for hanging if you are tight on space in your pan cupboard, and it’s made of cast iron.

Buy now

Amazon Le Creuset sale

Le Creuset 941009290 Toughened Non-Stick Bakeware Square Cake Tin | £29 £26.40 at Amazon
One for all of the homemade brownie and blondie lovers out there, this square cake tin is the ideal size while being both non-stick and easy grip. Not only is it great for sweet treats but it can also be used for small roast dinners.

Buy now

Le Creuset Signature Enamelled Cast Iron Round Casserole Dish With Lid | £200 £170 at Amazon
If you know someone who is collecting Le Creuset kitchenware in Satin Black, then send them a link to this page so they can save £30. This is a total bargain since this casserole dish measures 20cm – perfect for cooking for two to three people. It’s perfect for whipping up a chilli con carne or making a soup, plus it’s both hob and oven safe, as well as suitable for the dishwasher.

Buy now

Le Creuset Black Friday

As we’ve already mentioned, the Black Friday 2021 sale is inching closer and closer, so it’s only natural to wonder about the Black Friday Le Creuset deals. If what you want to buy is on sale – with a lot of money off – right now, then we say to buy it quickly. If not, and the item you are searching for only has a few pounds off (and you can wait) then mark the 26th of November in your calendar. Come back to this page closer to Black Friday as we’ll be featuring all of the best offers, as they come in…

Shop Le Creuset sales

Head straight to Le Creuset sales via the links below, if you want to shop the deals for yourself.

Where can I buy cheap Le Creuset?

Cheap Le Creuset items are hard to come by, so when you do spot any bargains, we suggest buying ASAP. They tend to sell out fast – and for good reason. You’re most likely to find affordable or on sale Le Creuset items at Amazon or Wayfair.

Why is Le Creuset so expensive?

The Le Creuset iconic cast-iron cookware is a highly desirable brand for kitchens everywhere, thanks to its superior cooking attributes. The cast iron distributes and retains heat evenly without hotspots to ensure that you get the best results each time; whether you’re simmering, baking or roasting.

Buying a classic cast iron cookware set is an investment. It’s a big initial outlay, but Le Creuset dishes will stand the test of time! When you work out the cost per use, there’s no quibbling the value of owning great cookware.  And while it’s regarded in such supreme excellence, it does mean it’s rather expensive – too expensive for some budgets, sadly. This is why we’ve got this sales page to alert you on the best offers as they come in.

When is the best time to buy Le Creuset cookware?

The best time to buy Le Creuset cookware is during the Black Friday sales. We’ve seen so many cheap Le Creuset deals during this time of year – at the end of November. It’s also a great time to buy Le Creuset Christmas presents at cheaper prices. This year, Black Friday falls on the 26th of November, so mark your calendars.

A brief history of Le Creuset

Founded by Belgians Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq in 1925 in northern France, Le Creuset is something of a cookware institution. The company built its success on the Le Creuset cocotte, or French oven. It remains its most popular piece, still manufactured in the original factory, from the same mix of pig iron, recycled steel and recycled iron.
Aside from their robust build and even cooking, Le Creuset pieces are famed for their beautiful colours. The first to make waves was Volcanic Orange launched in 1934, and today, you can buy pots and pans in every colour on the spectrum, from delicate pinks to deep coastal blues and deep red.

Related: best chef knives – update your kitchen arsenal with these top picks

Now is the time to finally snap up the dream Le Creuset set you’ve been hankering after. Trust us, you will not regret buying these pans at the best price you can– we love our collection, it’s worth every penny!

The post The best Le Creuset sales ahead of Black Friday – from £13.99 appeared first on Ideal Home.

We’re Moving!

Sourced content from: https://theletteredcottage.net/were-moving/

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! In case you haven’t been following along on Instagram, we sold our house last week and we are under contract on a farmette!!! AAAHHH! We are SO excited!!!! The home (an old-ish brick Colonial with 5 bedrooms and 5 baths) sits on five gorgeous acres and I can hardly wait to start personalizing the…

Read More

The post We’re Moving! appeared first on The Lettered Cottage.

51 Piano Room Ideas With Tips And Inspiration To Help You Design Yours

Sourced content from: http://www.home-designing.com/piano-room-interior-design-ideas-tips-photos-inspiration

From serious musicians to those who casually tickle the ivories, all can enjoy the captivating elegance of a piano room. A piano not only makes beautiful music but creates a stunning showpiece in a home, which sparks a special look of luxury and an air of culture. This collection of 51 piano room ideas is filled with glorious inspiration to cover just about every taste and interior design aesthetic. We’ve collected together a plethora of modern piano rooms and some with a traditional touch, mid-century modern and eclectic music rooms, rustic and boho style rooms, and serene minimalist music rooms that leave all focus on the melody.

Visualizer: BUI NI  

Upright and upper class. This neoclassical design presents an exquisite backdrop for an upright piano. A wide section of boiserie panelling elegantly frames the instrument. Two modern wall lights add a balance of theatrical illumination.

Designer: WCH Interior  

A piano and a pop of colour. A brightly coloured accent chair makes a fun counteraction against the formality of a grand piano. It also gives an appreciative audience member a place to hang out in comfort. See more of this Taiwanese apartment with simple layout and punchy palette here.

Designer: Pivko Architect  

This time around, a designer lounge chair continues the sleek black and curved aesthetic of its neighbouring grand piano.

Source: Ana Santos  

Let the piano set the tone. This attention-grabbing firetruck-red grand piano sets the accent colour for a luxurious living space, inspiring a scattering of equally bright scatter cushions along an adjacent sofa.

Designer: Designstiles  

Under arches. Is there any setting more perfect for a piano room than arched architecture? These arched windows and a matching arch-shaped wall mirror complement the curvaceous silhouette of the piano with style and grace.

Designer: Amy Lau  

Mid-century modern music room. Muted colours and mid-century modern style mould a melodious surround.

Designer: Yes Home Studio  
Photographer: Abluebird Photography  

Camouflaged creativity. This white upright piano blends quietly into an all-white interior design without any fanfare. See more inspiration for modern interiors with minimalist white decor here.

Visualizer: MIC Studio  

Honey, I’m home. Place the love of your life right in the entryway to your main living space. It will be the first thing you see when you arrive home, and the first impression you make on your guests.


Balance out black pianos with another large, dark piece of furniture. A dark sofa colour is the obvious choice in a living space. Black light finishes and darkly framed bookcases also make good counterbalancing contributions.

Designer: Kia Designs  

Wonderful music and a window seat. Pile up an assortment of cushions and blankets to create a cosy hangout spot for music appreciation.

Visualizer: Muhammed Fesal  

Work hard, play hard. After a day in the office, it’s time to light up your life with good music and an inspirational neon sign.

Designer: Studio Avana  

Industrial inspiration. Concrete walls and cavernous spaces create quite the acoustics.

Visualizer: Dmitry Matveev  

All about the arts. Musical art meets wall art in this understated interior design. Upright pianos are best situated against an interior wall and out of direct sunlight, so this landscape painting also serves as an outside view where one lacks.

Visualizer: Omar Jamanov  

Make the most of small wall spaces by double banking your musical instruments. A fresh accent colour will lift the look.

Designer: Haus  

Rip out the coat closet and make better use of that awkward under stair space.

Designer: Kristin Made  

Bohemian rhapsody. Indoor plants, jute rugs and rattan baskets conjure a relaxed boho vibe.

Designer: Valeria Lambrecht  

For the minimalist musician. This wall mounted keyboard takes on the appearance of a floating console unit with a fashionably wood slatted finish.

Designer: Megan Grehl  

Never upstaged. This small upright and coordinating piano stool have been flipped with a cheerful yellow paint job that makes them the unrivalled focal point of the room.

Designer: HAO Design  

Family time and tunes. This unique living space combines family dining, a creative kids’ play area and an inviting music area into one airy open space. An indoor swing provides a place to perch and sway to the melody.

Photographer: Picture Perfect House  

Parallel poetry. This symmetrical space creates a dramatic runway to the keys. Protruding partition walls effectively protect the upright piano from direct sunlight from two flanking windows, whilst the rest of the lounge remains bright and welcoming.

Visualizer: Between The Walls  

Another take on the boho theme, this decorative moment features wall mounted baskets above a modern keyboard.

Designer: dSPACE Studio  

Imagine… A John Lennon inspired entryway. This isn’t the piano on which John Lennon composed “Imagine” but it has some similar characteristics. The real one was sold for $2.1 million via online auction at the Hard Rock Cafe in London to the late British pop star George Michael. It is still owned by his estate.

Designer: Post And Beam Design  

Piano loving plants. Some people believe that indoor plants grow better when you play classical music to them. This is supposedly due to the agreeable vibrations created by the sound waves, which then causes movement in plant cells and stimulates more nutrient production. This one certainly seems to be thriving!

Source: Homes To Love  

Creative and cosy. A faux fur throw, cheerful rug and some plant friends go a long way in making a simple music area appear loved and lively.

Designer: Black Lacquer Design  

Gold accents and a gallery. If you’re looking to add some serious luxe to your musical hobby room, consider a gallery wall of moody black and white photographic prints and a rich accompaniment of gold accent furniture.

Visualizer: Trọng Mỹ  

Compose a lullaby. Bedrooms aren’t just for sleeping; bedroom workspaces are common now, so why not a songwriting station?

Visualizer: Ygest Design Studio  

Sleek and streamlined. This linear black backdrop stylishly blends the piano and a TV nook into one smart, shadowy wall feature, which allows the lighter furniture pieces in the foreground to shine bright.

Visualizer: Idol Design  

Peaceful colour palettes and panel moulding. This narrow living space is spaciously united with a hallway piano area under one peaceful colour palette. Chic panel moulding gives the music wall a crisp, classic aesthetic.

Designer: Rockefeller Kempel Architects  

The traditional touch. Dark wood panelling complements this grand piano and gives the room a comfortingly traditional feel.

Designer: Sam Crawford Architects  

Built-in benches and bookcases. Concrete steps bleed into a custom concrete bench in this high-ceilinged hobby space. Grab a book from the stacks and drift away to the echoing song.

Architect: Gianni Botsford  

This writer’s home takes the home library theme a little further… Ok, a lot further. Oh, the hours we could spend in that room.

Designer: Smoothcore Architects  

In this home, the music room and home library combo morphs into a sweeping staircase design with book storage in the risers.

Designer: Rachel Belden Interior Design  

Candle-lit concerts. Create an atmospheric glow with a collection of candles. Hey, it worked for Liberace.

Designer: Adelene Keeler Smith Interior Design  

Pianos and pillars, plus a pristine white colour scheme. Sophisticated, simple, and stunning.

Visualizer: Thai Quang  

Highs and lows. Whilst being in the spotlight is nice, you don’t want to be dazzled by low hanging pendant lights. This row of pendants make an undulating formation from the couch to the piano, suspended from a set of decorative ceiling roses. The yellow piano shines bright all on its own.

Designer: Anton Bazaliyskiy  
Photographer: Maxim Maximov  

Nestled in a nook. Built-in bookcases can be used to frame out a deep alcove and make a decorative surround for an upright piano.

Designer: The Wood Works  

Grand and grey. A glossy black grand piano looks at home in moody charcoal grey and black room decor. Portrait art and velvet-trimmed window dressings optional.

Visualizer: O&M Design  

Music divides opinion, and this piano divides the room.

Visualizer: Pavel Vetrov  

Give an old instrument a new lease of life in a modern rustic setting.

Visualizer: Hung Le  

Monochrome music room. Black and white piano keys inspire a black and white decor scheme in this modern concept.

Source: Pianoshop  

Play the classics in a classically decorated setting of oak and warm lamplight.

Designer: Scott | Edwards Architecture  

Soulful and centred. This amazing space has far-flung views that evoke emotion and allow the mind to drift and dream.

Designer: The Ranch Mine  

Creative courtyard. This skylit courtyard keeps the piano out of direct sunlight, which will knock a piano out of tune and won’t do the finish any good either.

Designer: Migdal Arquitectos  

If you insist on a lot of windows though, this seamless wraparound option is spectacular. A thick growth of trees should provide ample shade but be sure to protect your piano with a heavy cover when sunlight is at its strongest.

Designer: Miró Rivera Architects  

Your personal concert hall. Keep floors clear, set up seating and let the audience roll in.

Visualizer: Bjarke Ingels Group and Uribe & Schwarzkopf  

Layered light show. A sensational light installation sets the stage for stardom.

Designer: Eduarda Correa  

Open plan overture. Set a creative core inside your home that can be enjoyed from every angle.

Designer: OgataYoshiki + SALT + IkawaAtsushi + WataseIkuma  

Scenic sound waves. This wonderful wood panelling depicts sounds waves around the room perimeter, and actively manipulates acoustics.

Designer: Dan Brunn Architecture  

A grand piano and a vertical garden fashion a naturally inspiring space for creativity.

Designer: Atelier Barda architecture  

Cutting curves. A black grand piano and rounded furniture pieces cut contrasting curves against a pure white backdrop.

Designer: Martin Friedrich Architects  

A true reflection of talent. High gloss floors will double the effect of a centrally placed grand and talented pianist.

Recommended Reading:  Interior Design For Musicians: 2 Classy Music Themed Home Designs

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DIY: Faux Marble Candle Holders

Sourced content from: https://centsationalstyle.com/2021/10/diy-faux-marble-candle-holders/

I have this thing with the wood aisle at Lowe’s. They have a great selection of short poplar pieces in various sizes and they always inspire ideas, like these table leg candlesticks from last year and these basket planters a few months ago.

I spied a chunky 3×3” piece and thought, hmmm, if I wrapped that in marble contact paper I bet it I could make them look like a high end marble candle holders but on the cheap. I liked this style but wanted a trio in different heights.

These candle holders have a high end look but were really cheap to make. I wrapped wood cut at different lengths with black marble contact paper and topped them off with spray painted copper caps to create them. (Compare to versions like this and this that are way more expensive.)

To recreate these here’s what you need: one 3x3x48” poplar square; black marble contact paper; 3/4” copper caps; gold spray paint, black spray paint (optional); spray adhesive; super glue; sanding wedge; scissors; miter saw.

I found the 3x3x48” poplar square but you could also use 2” square or 3” round circle pieces too!


The copper caps I found in the plumbing department, the 3/4” size fits standard taper candles. There are various kinds of copper pipe connectors and caps in the 3/4” size, I chose the simple cap for my project.

Trim the blocks to desired height, these are 5”, 6 1/2” and 8” height. Sand the edges to remove any roughness.

I spray painted them black thinking the contact paper would stick better to painted surface instead of raw wood. Here they are without the contact paper wrap and these look good too!

Of course you could paint them any color and add the copper cap top in its raw state or painted a contrasting color.

A larger group of these wood candle holders would make a great Halloween candelabra!

The faux marble surface is created by wrapping the blocks like a present.

The one thing about contact paper is it has an adhesive back but to make it stick better, unwrap the block and give it a light coat of spray adhesive for greater adhesion then rewrap.

Wrap the long sides first then trim the edges and fold them over the top and bottom.

I spray painted the copper caps with gold leaf spray paint and super glued them to the top. Voila!

An easy project for adding faux marble decor to your space! You could use the same contact paper to create bookends, cover trays or desktops, planters and canisters too!

See how this couple brought a period property back to life using a cheerful monochrome palette

Sourced content from: https://www.idealhome.co.uk/house-tours/victorian-period-property-monochrome-palette-interior-289349

Monochrome dining room with hand painted dot walls
Photography Darren Chung

Laura and Mitchell’s previous home had been a spic and span new build, so a dilapidated Victorian terrace that needed a lot of work was a big undertaking.

The house had been left empty for nine months and had an overgrown garden, nicotine-stained walls and a damp problem that required immediate attention. The couple had dreams of opening up faux walls and finding original fireplaces or dreamy tiles. Instead they found crumbling concrete and a lot of bodge jobs.

Their Victorian dream needed plenty of work, but room by room…

Living Room

Monochrome living room, turquoise armchair grey sofa and black coffee table

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

The couple were keen on a monochrome scheme, and have incorporated this throughout the house, with pops of colour to add warmth and personality. They started in the living room, painting the walls a 50/50 split of black and white.

‘It took me months to persuade Mitch to paint the bottom half of the walls black,’ says Laura. ‘But I think it was definitely worth the wait and we both love it now.’


Monochrome living room with polka dot hallway beyond

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

‘The hallway was so dark when we moved in. I couldn’t wait to paint it a fresh, bright white – and added polka dot stickers, of course. I have a real affinity for polka dots!’ says Laura. ‘I won the May Rose Vintage Uma Thurman cushion in a competition on Instagram and she goes seamlessly with our living room.’


Black Ikea kitchen with open shelving

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

Next they started work in the kitchen, which was old, tiny and a bit dingy. ‘We knocked down walls to create a longer and brighter galley kitchen idea, with plenty of light flooding in. This IKEA kitchen was exactly what we were looking for and I fell in love with the faux marble worktops.’

‘We decided to go for open shelving instead of upper units as it makes the space feel bigger and saved money. It’s also a great excuse to buy new accessories and houseplants!’

Dining Room

Monochrome dining room with painted dotty wallpaper

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

Next on their list was to have the dining room replastered. ‘Once the dust quite literally settled, it became clear that we needed to replace all the floors – so we fitted new flooring throughout the downstairs ourselves to keep costs down. It was back-breaking work, but so rewarding at the end.’

‘I painted the hallway wall with tiny black dots which makes a lovely frame for the dining room as you enter.’


Bath tub on concrete effect floor with monochrome wallpaper

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

They then ripped out the bathroom and continued with the monochrome palette for its replacement. The couple got professionals in to finish the job, to ensure a really polished professional finish, before adding greenery and accessories.

‘House plants bring a real sense of nature and can make a room feel so relaxing. The tiger print towel from H&M Home emphasises the jungle vibes in here too,’  says Laura. Speaking of the bathroom plant idea she adds,‘I mix and match real and faux house plants in our bathroom as not all of the real ones survive!’


Bedroom decorated in watery blues with painted white bed

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

We refreshed our bedroom, going from a dark botanical wallpaper to a calming mural from Rebel Walls. We also put down a super-soft carpet after years of having exposed floorboards – something Mitch was very excited to see the back of.


Small conservatory in monochrome scheme

Image credit:: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

‘With all the money saved in lockdown we’ve been able to complete all the rooms, including the conservatory, which, to no one’s surprise I painted black, to compliment the monochrome aesthetic.’

‘It really connects the space to the house now and is a lovely spot to have breakfast in. I think we’ve found our niche of monochrome interiors with splashes of colour. You can see more of my style @lifeatthegreyhouse.’ 

The post See how this couple brought a period property back to life using a cheerful monochrome palette appeared first on Ideal Home.

Oregon Road Trip Highlights

Sourced content from: https://centsationalstyle.com/2021/10/oregon-road-trip-highlights/

I spent the first week of August exploring the state of Oregon, a place I had never been to before even though it’s my neighbor to the north. On my road trip, I stopped in Ashland, Portland, Hood River, and then drove the entire Oregon coast home all the way back to California.  It was a lot of driving but I wanted to visit my northern neighbor by car to see the mountains, rivers, and explore the towns.

I had to make my way through several northern counties in California before crossing the border. The golden plains turned to hills and then mountains covered in forests as I made my way toward the Pacific Northwest. It was almost dusk as I crossed the border into Oregon where I stopped on the side of the highway to photograph the “Welcome to Oregon” sign as semis whizzed past me at high speeds almost blowing me over.

At sunset I arrived in Ashland, Oregon and I had just enough time to make a last seating for dinner downtown. I dined under globe lights in an outdoor cafe and while I ate I struck up a conversation with a local theater manager. She offered me a quick walking tour of the town after dinner, pointing out various sights I should see during daylight. Friendly locals always have the best tips and remind me of the kindness of strangers.

The next morning I set out on foot to explore the town in daylight and snapped a few photos with my phone. Ashland is known for its theater productions but I will remember it for its small town charm. Highlights: the interior of the historical Ashland Springs Hotel which will transport you to another time, and the very cute shops and restaurants next to Lithia Park.

After soaking up the parks, cafes, and shops I headed north to Portland. I didn’t get to spend anytime in Bend, which I’ve heard is really wonderful and in hindsight I wished I’d budgeted an extra day to see it.

Arriving in Portland my immediate impression was the opposite of Ashland. It was big, crowded, and confusing to navigate. I checked into the Hoxton hotel and headed to the rooftop bar to relax with tacos and sunset views.


I loved the interior of this hotel, its decorated with a chic mid century vibe (see more pictures here) and it was a cozy place to relax and have morning coffee.


I explored Portland on foot for two days. They take pride in their local motto “Keep Portland Weird” and I had mixed feelings about Portland downtown, but I found some spots that were cool like Pioneer Square and the Pearl District.

In Portland I discovered (and I had been warned) that the city struggles with a serious homeless population. The downtown areas are covered in tents and there were a lot of transients walking around. It’s tragic and those of us who know San Francisco are acutely aware we have the same problem. I don’t know the solution but I do know it impacts the vibe of a city.

The highlights of Portland for me were popular Powells Books, the Saturday Portland market, and my outdoor lunch at Luc Lac kitchen. My most favorite stop was my hike through Washington Park to the zen Japanese garden, it was so beautiful and worth the long walk to that side of town and uphill hike through the park.


I left Portland and headed east to Hood River, a town I’d been wanting to see since reading about it. The drive east is beautiful, winding through the Pacific Northwest along the Columbia River, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road with such natural beauty all around!

Hood River looked like a place where they’d film a Netflix series. You know they type: a few charming downtown streets filled with shops, cafes, and breweries, surrounded by craftsman style homes, where life moves slowly and it feels like everyone meets for coffee every morning and knows everyone in town.

I rented a private room at the best Airbnb that was decorated with such cute and quirky furnishings and decor.

I had two amazing experiences in Hood River, the first was whitewater rafting with ZooRaft. So much fun! As a solo passenger I was partnered with a really cute family and spent a few hours riding rapids and drifting down river with them. It was one of the most pleasant travel experiences I’ve ever had, being on the water riding through a canyon surrounded by beautiful forests.

Hood River is a place where there are a lot of outdoor adventures: windsurfing, kayaking, and hiking, no wonder it’s such a happy place to be!

Another highlight was the Gorge White House, a stop recommended to my by my cousin. This farm had orchards and flowers and delicious hard cider, I highly recommend this place if you’re ever in Hood River!

I left Hood River and followed the Columbia River to the coast. What a beautiful drive!

I took two days to drive the Oregon coast home, it was a long but another extremely scenic drive. I started in Astoria where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and turned south down Highway 101. Astoria has a really cool maritime museum and a really cute downtown where I stopped for an early dinner at a great brewpub.

I stayed for a few hours then headed down a gently winding highway to stop in Seaside for dinner and to sleep for the night.

I could tell why Seaside was a vacation destination. It had a very cute downtown and beautiful beaches! I stayed at the chic Saltline Hotel for the night and was lucky to catch a beautiful sunset.

I stopped in Cannon Beach for a quick walk along the beach and to check out the famous rock. It was crowded with tourists and I could see why, Cannon Beach felt like it was straight out of a movie with its shops, manicured gardens, and seaside homes with stunning ocean views.

I stopped briefly in Depoe Bay to check out the views and grab some coffee. Wow what amazing vistas!

My final stop was Newport where I had dinner by the waterfront where all the locals enjoy amazing seafood.

My favorite coastal towns along Highway 101 were Seaside, Cannon Beach, Depoe Bay, and Newport! Thank you Oregon, my neighbor to the north, for showing off your scenery!

My  trip to Oregon had highs and lows. Travel isn’t always rainbows, but knowing that I still do it for the new experiences and vistas. Travel always teaches me something and I come back with stories to tell, like the motel where I was scammed! I made the mistake of not checking reviews and ended up at a total dump that used fake pictures to advertise and had no room available when I arrived. Thankfully I got my money back but that wasn’t a pleasant experience.


This road trip was a solo adventure. I’m lucky that Matt is the kind of person to say to me “go, explore, have fun!” while he handles the family obligations. When I travel solo I have a lot of freedom and solitude and I gain clarity being alone with my thoughts. I also have an opportunity to meet locals and strike up conversations with strangers I might not talk to if I was traveling with others.

Exploring new places makes me feel alive, and I always return from a solo trip as a relaxed, inspired, more evolved version of myself.