Big Island Inspiration

By Kate Riley May 22, 2019

Hawaii is a magical place that fills the soul and has healing properties. Every time I visit, I return with a little more aloha in my heart.

Back in March, Matt and I took our teens on a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii. I didn’t have any input in the details of this Big Island adventure, Matt planned the entire vacation, I let him take the reins and I went along for the ride, so all of the beauty I saw and all of the inspiration I gathered came to me as a surprise.

One thing I’m learning is that the more present I am in the moment, the more I’m aligned with the pulse of the universe and in tune with nature and everything around me. I’ve become even more observant by living that philosophy and as a result I feel more gratitude and more joy just noticing the little things around me.

I’m one who craves constant stimulation in the form of shape and color so I’m always up for a new adventure to a new destination because I know I’ll find inspiration there, if I just pay attention. I could go on and on about Hawaii’s natural beauty. I could share pictures of white sandy beaches and waterfalls, but I thought instead I’d share the little things that caught my eye, that gave me little moments of wonder for just being in that place at that moment.

There’s an abundance of lava rock everywhere on the Big Island and the one thing I kept noticing was how black serves as a dramatic backdrop for green leaves! Consider black paint outdoors for your fences or arbors or planters, black really shows off the beauty of lush greenery.


We stayed in Waikoloa for a few nights at the Marriott and one thing I love about hotels in Hawaii is how they’re decorated in tropical style and open to the elements.





I’m usually not a fan of hotel carpet but this wide runner is out-of-the-box and I liked its blue abstract pattern. Also notice those awesome planters, these ones in white!


Are you like me when you spy a beautiful tree with branches that look like sculpture, you stop to snap a picture? Pretty much me all.the.time. :)


Vintage Volkswagon vans are a reminder of one of the coolest eras in American history, I found this one and these rad surfboards at one of my favorite stops: the Lava Lava Beach Club.



I’ve only seen a black sand beach once before and that was in the Hana area of Maui. I had to stare at this black sand beach at Waimanu Bay for awhile just to admire the contrast of the sand against the foam of the waves, so beautiful.


Botanicals are a huge source of inspiration to me so a stop at the Botanical Garden was a welcome pit stop. Each one of these is an organic work of art.


But you don’t need to go to Hawaii to be inspired by nature, it’s everywhere if you’re present and looking for it. :)

I’ve had a few requests to share recent pictures of my family. As my kids have gotten older I’ve pulled waaaaay back on how much I share about them on social media and here on the blog because I think they should tell their own online story, so out of respect for their privacy I rarely show pictures of my children, but today I’ll make an exception, just look how much they’ve grown! I’ll leave you with a few snapshots of some of the special moments we shared.




This was my sole souvenir, this black heart shaped rock found on the beach, better than anything I could buy in a shop. I keep it on my desk as a reminder of this beautiful island.


Hawaii is always a source of immense beauty and inspiration, don’t you agree? What’s one of your favorite memories from Hawaii?


Weekend Porch Refresh

By Kate Riley May 20, 2019

*in partnership with Lowe’s

Over the weekend I finished up a porch refresh for a great friend of mine. Naomi and I met five years ago in a fitness class, she is a single mom who works full time to support her family. She has two kids in elementary school and no spare time to spruce up any space in her house so I wanted to surprise her with a porch refresh over the weekend while she was at work. Her son plays basketball in the street in the evening with his friends so I thought this would be a great spot where she could relax and watch him play.

Her porch has been bare for the last year and the deck was in need of a protective coat. I played off the red door for the color palette, choosing swivel chairs with complementary cushions and pairing them with tropical foliage and accent pillows. The porch looks quite different with the new accents from Lowe’s!




Before we could add the furnishings and plants I solicited her help in first giving the deck a protective coat. Lowe’s has several products available for treating wood, I suggested we choose one without stain with just a clear finish to enhance the natural color of the wood. We chose Valspar’s One Coat Clear Stain to protect against rain and elements. We washed and swept the deck then applied the clear coat, it only took us an hour working together to apply the clear stain. I started with an angled brush but then switched to a wider flat brush (highly recommended!), the Blue Hawk brush made the application much quicker and easier.



We’ve had a rare flurry of rainstorms this week and another swept in yesterday, but no worries, look at the results after one application of the clear coat, the water beads right up, impressive!


The clear coat dries in 4 hours but we gave it a full day to cure. Yesterday I stopped by her house to add the chairs and planters and I’m so pleased with how it all came together!



These swivel chairs are a great bargain, only $208 for the set of two. They look charming on her porch but would look fabulous around an outdoor dining room table too!

Notice the tropical leaf pillows, they reverse to a stripe to change the look, also a bargain for $15 each. The ferns in the large black planters play off the tropical pillows.


Lowe’s has a great selection of modern geometric planters and I love how foliage looks with black. Seen below are the black resin square planters, green glaze ceramic planters, and the black glaze ceramic planter, all filled with palms and foliage found in Lowe’s garden department.


I added the nesting end tables for her to place her beverage when relaxing while watching her son play or talking to neighbors.



I couldn’t wait for Naomi to return from work last night…. Check today’s Insta stories for her response!


sources: swivel chairs (set of two) / black resin planters / green ceramic planters /

black glaze planter / nesting end tables / tropical leaf pillows

*This post brought to you in partnership with Lowe’s! All photos and opinions are my own!

Lately on Instagram (@centsationalstyle)