I’m Paige Wassel. WAS the Newsletter is your weekly dose of design inspiration, resolved and ready for the new year. 


Random facts I’m reticent to share elsewhere, but here you go:

  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle changed my lifeeeeee

  • I LOVE the show Fleabag (highly recommend)

  • I drank too much port on Christmas and danced for my family while my brother yelled “more passion!!”, good times

  • I don’t love to hang out with people in the day, I’m a night time hanger


I say this every day—sleep on thrifting to your detriment. We live in a world where everyone’s quick to toss what doesn’t meet this minute’s aesthetic, like solid brown furniture with dovetail joints. But you’re smarter than that because you know their trash can be your treasure. This week, I’m thrifting in SF and here’s the best of the best:

New year, new you? Maybe. New year, old stuff? Definitely.


The good news is that you bought your first home. The bad news is that it’s in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. Listen, I grew up in one of those neighborhoods and it was largely lovely. Still, every house was a slightly different version of the one next to it. We had little subdivisions with cutesy names like Randall Square and Mill Creek. Kids—who I may or may not have known—used to vandalize the sign at the entry, making it read MILF Creek because there were a lot of rich, hot moms there. (They weren’t wrong.)

Maybe you bought a home in your own MILF Creek, so let’s discuss how to make a boring space just a little bit more personalized. Here’s what to do:

  • Strive for originality in the details. If you’re copying everyone else’s landscaping, your yard will look like everyone else’s and we’ve established that is not ideal. Unless you are fine with your Uber driver giving you a one-star review when you can’t recall which faux Colonial with the limelight hydrangea border in MILF Creek is yours.

  • Replace your uninspired cement walkway with a brick or stone walkway, possibly even crushed shell or pea gravel. You want something to make it homier rather than plain old cement that feels like an extension of the sidewalk. (When the sidewalk extends all the way to the door, it’s like you’re inviting strangers to come knocking. No.)

  • Focus on the front door. If the eyes are the window to the soul, the front door is the window to your home’s soul. If you have an outdated front door, replace it. Of course, you can paint it, especially if it has a window you like, but honestly if you replace it, that will uplift the whole façade. The front door sets the scene for what comes next, so let’s get it up to par.

  • Stop staining your deck red/orange. Think natural. Natural, weathered wood looks amazing on a deck. (Wood is sturdy; if it weren’t, they wouldn’t make trees out of it.) Weathered wood evokes the feeling of Nantucket and sea salt spray and who doesn’t want that vacation feel? Also consider a dark walnut stain if you insist on that extra protection. If your deck is currently orangey, it will look manmade and that profoundly dates your home. I urge you to strip that paint and go with the natural look as it blends into nature so much better.

  • Add a bonfire pit in the back corner, surrounded by Adirondack chairs. That's what my parents did and we enjoyed it for years. Wine, warmth, conversation—that’s how memories are made. Plant some trees for privacy, maybe pine, or fruit if you want color in the spring. A bonfire pit adds a nice little viewpoint in the back of your yard and encloses the space. Plus, a bonfire pit is a great DIY project. You can easily build one yourself and it’s such a backyard upgrade. Be mindful of the neighbors though, we got in trouble many times for “cursing” too much.

Now, let’s step inside and:

  • Paint the top trim. When a wall is topped with dark trim, it cuts off your ceiling and makes the space feel boxy. When you paint it white, it will extend the room upwards, like Tom Cruise placing a pair of lifts in his shoes. You don’t even need to paint your lower wood trim. Be careful when choosing to paint it all white, as you may get rid of some beautiful wood. While it might feel outdated now, it likely will come back. Don’t paint yourself into a metaphorical corner.

  • Create a unique feel in a white, square space by installing floor to ceiling/wall to wall bookshelves. You needn’t break the bank. Buy freestanding ones from IKEA and make them look like a cohesive wall unit. You absolutely need some type of wall unit when you’re swimming in a sea of white walls. People will think that you have these built-in, authentic shelves that came custom to the home. 

  • Kill your dated kitchen backsplash. The central hub of your home is the kitchen, which no one wants to be generic. Even old granite countertops can't really go wrong, as there’s such functionality with this material. I recognize that cabinets can be bad, and granite can be bad, but in these cookie-cutter homes, none of it is as bad as a backsplash in a weird pattern. Unless you’re showering in your sink—and that’s likely a different conversation—you don’t need a backsplash.

  • Add vintage wall detailing. Incorporating simple wainscoting can do a lot to your space and can give your home more of an antique feel. You can buy prefab wainscoting from Wayfair, Home Depot, or even Amazon. Just put it on your wall, paint it, and voila—character where there was no character previously.

  • Upgrade your double-sink bathroom with two individual mirrors. The bathroom is an easy fix to make it less generic, especially if you have one of those long, rectangular dance-studio mirrors. I'm not a huge fan of those, even though they do open up the space a lot. If you’re in the market for practicality, fine, but at least frame it out. 

  • Replace your plain vanilla mantel. Personally, I’d source a new fireplace façade off of, say, FB Marketplace. You can even find them at places like Home Depot. If you don’t want to replace that mantel, paint it, as this will go a long way to eliminating the cookie-cutter feel, especially if it’s dated. If you’re feeling saucy, add in pillars or wood beams on the ceiling. It’s your home, so take the risk—you’ll be glad you did.

  • Upgrade the builder-grade vents. My mother did this in my sister’s and my bedrooms. She swapped out the generic metal ones, instead choosing those with an intricate design and it made a world of difference. I’m not saying growing up with an inspiring vent sparked a lifelong passion for design, but I’m not saying it didn’t, either.

  • Add French doors. I live for a French door. Most people have those awful sliding glass doors that go out into their deck or patio, exactly like everyone else in the neighborhood. If you have the money and you really want to do something to upgrade that space, add French doors. French doors will make your home look like it has age and gravitas, and in no way was it built the contractor who owns half of the town and named all of the subdivisions with Merry Olde English names with a superfluous letter e on the end.

Don’t we all want to make MILF Creek great again? 


Benjamin Moore: White Dove

Finish: Eggshell; Semi-Gloss on doors and window frames

Room Light Level: Any