Monday, December 26, 2011

Our House: Exterior Paint

I was so focused on getting the interior of the house move in ready last year that I totally ignored the badly peeling paint on the exterior.  This year it had to be taken care of while weather permitted.

I originally wanted grey body, white trim and a red door which my husband didn't care for.  He wanted something in the green family on the body of the house.  After tossing around a bunch of options, we compromised with a grey-green for the body, white on the trim and black doors.

I love interior lighting and it's almost always one of the most fun parts of putting together a room for me.  I expected to find exterior lighting that I loved and was really disappointed when I could find anything I loved at any price point.  Given the number of fixtures I needed and the cost of even 'cheap' fixtures, this was going to get expensive really fast.  I knew I wanted black fixtures and I was pretty excited when I came across some closeout fixtures at my favorite local lighting warehouse (almost the ONLY time I don't find better pricing online is when I'm shopping at this place) that I actually liked, even really liked the larger fixtures for at the front door.  I was able to get all 7 fixtures I needed for $140 instead of the $300 - $500 I was anticipating otherwise.


And after:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Union Jack

I love this rug on OKL today.  LOVE.  

I can't imagine ever spending 4k on something this trendy though.  $500 tops.  Am I nuts for thinking it would be a pretty quilt though?

About as Christmasy as I get...

I'm not a huge Christmas person, I don't get all into the decor or holiday itself typically.  But after being at the Christmas markets in Germany/Vienna/Prague earlier this month and with my in-laws coming to spend the holiday with us I was feeling it slightly more than usual.

I came across this picture on Pinterest last Saturday and suddenly I wanted a tabletop tree:

Later that day at a random stop at a thrift shop I came across a cute little teal tree that I knew had to be mine.  A few thrift store purchases and some scrounging around the house and in boxes in the basement I had this:

I wish I had a tray to put it all on but I think it's cute!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our House: The Living Room, Chairs (Business in the Front, Party in the Back)

Chairs are woefully expensive in my opinion.  As much as sofas in a lot of cases and often boring and very cookie cutter.  I really wanted something vintage that I could have reupholstered for my living room.  After spending months searching for a pair of vintage upholstered chairs in the right size and shape, at the right price point to justify the cost of new fabric and professional re-upholstery I decided to use my husband's grandmother's chairs that had been in our basement among my collection of furniture waiting to find a home or a purpose.  The chairs are comfortable, low enough that they could be placed slightly in front of the (when I finally find it) media stand/credenza without blocking the TV, and best of all FREE.

I searched for a few inspiration photos but I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted.  I loved the idea of doing a print but I loved the tufting (which IMO can be tricky depending on the pattern).  On a trip to Calico Corners I came across a bolt of amazing seafoamy blue/green velvet on super closeout.  Originally priced at something like $65 a yard it was $10.50 a yard if I recall correctly.  I've always loved the Dwell Plumes fabrics, have pined over the pillows in azure forever so I was thrilled when I realized that the birch colorway worked perfectly with the velvet as well as my sofa color.  It all just fell into place so perfectly.

For some ungodly reason I decided I was going to strip the original upholstery and caning myself (because I was going to paint the frames before giving them to the upholsterer). If I'd been thinking clearly I'd have taken both chairs (instead of just one to talk pricing and what I wanted) and had the upholsterer strip them for me before painting.  It was a miserable task, that I (true to form) waited until the last minute to do.  So there was blood, lots of cursing, blisters, and begging my (wonderful) husband to run to Walmart for me at 10:30 on a Sunday night.

Just a few hours before my in-laws flew in yesterday I picked up my chairs and I LOVE the end result.

There is enough of the velvet left to do the ottoman and I ordered enough of the Plumes fabric to do a couple of throw pillows for the sofa.  For less than the cost of one of the chairs I liked at Crate & Barrel, I  (will) have two chairs and an ottoman that are totally unique to me and my house.  I'm happy with the results.........and looking around what I can send to the upholsterer next!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

London: My Favorites

 I was fortunate enough to be able to tag along on my husband's business trip to London in October.  I have to admit I love having the days to myself to wander in solitude while he's working.  I can spend hours just meandering through neighborhoods admiring the architectural details.

A few of my favorites from the trip:

Neighborhood: Chealsea
It's just beautiful for the sake of being beautiful.  Their unofficial slogan seems to be 'nothing need not be beautiful'.

Item I wish I could have brought home:  This wallpaper
I still dream of it.

Building: Opera House
Not overly significant but I caught sight of the spire while walking to the National Gallery and it sucked me in.  I loved every little detail.

Shopping: The Burlington Arcade
Antique and vintage jewelry in cases and cases.  I could have died.  A pair of angel skin coral Art Deco drop earrings are forever burned into my brain.

Random photo:  I just love it

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kind of a Home Related Purchase

I've been begging and pleading forever to get a puppy.  Up until recently, my work schedule, my husband's business travel schedule and our personal travel all made the idea of a dog impossible.  But being fortunate enough to work from home now and having a friend volunteer to puppy sit when we travel was making the idea much more doable.  My husband saw a Cavalier for the first time while we were in London in October and before the end of the trip I'd been able to locate a puppy not far from us.  I'm so in love with her I can't stand it.

Meet Olive:

Ironic that she seems to like my husband best though!  Now if I can only get her to stop growing.....

Friday, December 16, 2011

Client Project: Kitchen Update

Between a trip to London, another to Germany, two good size projects in a crunch to get done before Thanksgiving and everything else going on I've done nothing but think about the blog posts I'd like to write.  Hopefully some of the stuff I have to share will make up for it!

I've been so excited about this project.  The client is amazing, I adore her personally and she was so much fun to work with.  I have to give her so much credit in that even though she couldn't necessarily see my 'vision' on a couple of the components we used, she was willing to trust me and go with it.  I think that leap of faith outside of our comfort zone can be really hard for a lot of people.

It seems that the vast majority of the calls that I'm getting lately are from people facing the same issue that we dealt with here.  The kitchen is 'fine', fairly new, but already feels dated and very builder basic.

It's no secret that I want to paint everything, but living in the Mid-West this can be a very unpopular opinion.  My carpenter rolls his eyes at me, the old guys doing other work mutter under their breath, everyone has an opinion.  I try to remind people that not all wood is good wood and sometimes your best option short of tearing it out and starting over, is to paint it.  This client was resistant to the idea of painting all the cabinets at our first meeting but warmed up to it quickly (thankfully!), but even then, her parents and family were horrified at what she was about to do.

So this is what the kitchen looked like at our first meeting:

My plan included the following:

  • Miscellaneous Carpentry Items:
    • Removing the planing desk and sorter over it, replace it with a new base cabinet with full extension wood box deep drawers for baking supplies
    • Removing the wine rack and retrofitting that cabinet
    • Retrofitting the cubbie that was housing the microwave, it was sized for microwaves that are no longer available
    • Add a shelf in the TV cubbie to match the shelf over the refrigerator
  • Have the cabinets professionally painted (doors and drawer fronts were sprayed in their shop, boxes were done in place)
  • Granite countertops
  • Backsplash
  • Lighting
  • Pull in some color and pattern with new window treatments, rugs, and hopefully chair seats.
  • Replace the clear glass in the cabinet doors with a patterned glass
  • Paint and accessories
In a little over 5 weeks we have this:

There are still some items to be finished up (outlet covers, roman shade for over the sink, new table & chairs, etc) but we really are 99% done and I couldn't be happier with the results.  I think it looks amazing and best of all the client is thrilled with the results.  It makes me happy just to think about how happy she is with it all!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our House: The Living Room, Drapes

All of the window treatments in our house on closing day promptly ended up in the dumpster that same weekend, including the blinds the previous owners had on the windows in the living room.

I knew that I wanted the drapes to run from over the upper windows all the way to the floor and given the cost of the custom drapes I was more than a little gun shy about making a commitment to a fabric.  I dragged my husband with me to look at fabric one day and he decided that THIS would be perfect for our living room drapes.

I was worried it would be too traditional, too champagne, too something.   But my husband liked it, it worked well in the room and at less than $10 a yard it seemed low risk so I went with it.  I feel the need to cave to my husband every so often since he typically just lets me do whatever I want with the house.

After a very miserable experience having them made and then 3 trips for installation they are FINALLY done and up.  First I hated how close to the window casing the rods were installed which left me with barely 6" of exposed window.  The tall super skinny window effect was not good.  Once I had the right poles the installer and I realized that the drapes varied in length from one side to the other between 1/4" and 1/2" per panel.  I got to spend a week fighting with the shop that I used to have them made as they kept insisting that they were all perfectly square.  Thankfully the workroom took them apart and re-hemmed them even though they insisted they couldn't find the issue either.  Whatever they did worked because they're perfect now.  So after one final issue with a finale not being threaded properly everything is as it should be.

Next up the chairs and ottoman need to make their way to the upholsterer!

Did I mention I need to get this room done before my in-laws come for Christmas? I'm starting to feel the pressure......

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gettin' Crafty

I really am the worst DIYer ever.  I start projects with high hopes and expectations that typically come crashing to the ground while my husband looks on trying not to laugh but unable to look away.  I guess that's what I get for thinking "I don't need to pay someone else to do this, any idiot can do this."  Apparently not this idiot as indicated by the variety of things I've attempted and given up on.

I've more or less accepted this fact about myself and have resigned myself to paying people to do the things I want done.  Then came Pinterest, one of the very first things I pinned was a DIY project and at last count I have 187 pins on my DIY board.  Even if I tried to do one a month.......hahahahahhahahha.  Yeah.  Anyway. 

I've been wanting to try this this photo transfer to canvas method.  I love the wrapped canvas photos in almost all forms so this was an easy sell for me.

I won't bore you with the multi-step photos and instructions because someone else has already done them better but I'm sure the suspense is killing you.......

I used a photo I took of a prayer tree in bloom at a temple in Japan and one of a palace turned museum in Russia.  I'm not displeased with the outcome but I'll definitely distress my photos further in Picnik before doing more, these came out a little too true to the original photo for me.  I'm excited to try a few different mixed media type projects using this method as well!

A bonus picture of the map versions a good friend recently did for a wedding gift......

I wish my sewing projects were going this well.  I'm sorry, but a straight line is HARD.

Next up, is a project I'll tackle with a client for her space.  We needed a plug-in pendant light in her dining area to help define the space in a large living/dining room.  On a budget.  I can't wait to do this one!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our House: The Living Room, The Sofa

Replacing the Room & Board sofa was the most important thing on my list and the one I tackled first.  After visiting a friend that has an Arhaus sofa that is super deep I was determined to find one with a similar depth.  I had a Crate & Barrel gift card burning a hole in my pocket so that was our first stop and we ordered the Domino sectional.  We looked at it in stores, we were convinced it would work well in our space (with the open floor plan and cased opening that leads into the kitchen).  Best of all, we loved the stock color so we could get it in less than a week.

The old sectional sold and was picked up the day before the delivery was scheduled for the C&B sectional.  It wasn't until the old sectional was out of the way and I really started to look at the room that I started to worry about the new sectional fitting.  Once I actually laid it out I knew it would never work.  I was able to cancel the order with 5 minutes to spare.  It was then that we decided to move the R&B sofa into the living room and see if it would work for us.  As I mentioned yesterday, not so much.

So we started over.

I dragged my husband to the nearest Arhaus location in Chicago and they had several options that would have worked for us but nothing we totally loved.

On a whim we headed to one of the larger Crate & Barrel stores in Chicago and stumbled on the Lounge Sofa. 

It had the depth we wanted and we both liked it, and we had that gift card.  And a registry completion 10% off.  This time I went home and measured first, then ordered!

It was a special order item that took every bit of the time frame quoted (and then some, boo for Crate & Barrel who is clearly not winning me over between the dining table and then the delayed delivery).  It's in place now and overall I think we're really happy with it.  If I had to rate the workmanship on it I'd probably say a 7 or 8 out of 10, maybe a 6 or 7 on overall quality.  I have some concerns about how it will wear but I'm trying not to obsess about the details!

  • A comfortable but still attractive sofa
  • Window treatments
  • Something to replace the WS sunburst mirror that is clearly too small for that space (lesson learned for me regarding living in a space a bit before buying items, same goes for the R&B sofa)
  • A proper fireplace mantel
  • Decide if I'm keeping the antler table in the room, if so what color to paint the base and to replace the glass top (scratched and chipped)
  • Side tables
  • Loveseat or a set of chairs
  • 'Entertainment' unit, I need something for the TV other than the random console table it's been sitting on since we moved in
  • Pillows, throw, and accessories 
Progress is progress!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our House: The Living Room, Change of Plans

Our plan when we bought, renovated and moved into this house was that the living room would be the 'pretty' living room and that we'd finish the basement for our TV watching and lounging.

Of course not being able to wait, I started buying a few things for the actual living room.  We were practically starting from scratch with it so why waste any time right? RIGHT?

The first was this Williams and Sonoma Home mirror I was obsessed with:

Followed by a Room & Board sofa:

And then this Surya rug:

I'd picked up this coffee table (via Craigslist) while we were still living in the hotel just because I was in love with it and had to have it, so it was planned for the living room as well:

So the short term plan was to use the 1st floor living room as our comfortable TV room until we finished the basement.  The massive overstuffed sectional with reclining sections in it (belonged to my husband before we got married and he LOVED it) took up the majority of the room and we used the random tables we had already.

After a few months of living here I realized that I really loved the first floor space and being able to see my kitchen I love so much.  Not only that, but our 2nd floor space never gets used and I hated the idea of more unused space in our house.  So the plan for finishing the basement went out the window.

So the real fun starts.

I had this clear idea of what I wanted for the living room and my husband has his ideas about comfortable furniture.  He didn't want me to have to give up the things I wanted in the living room but I didn't want him to feel like he was sacrificing his comfort for my 'vision'.  (Not to mention I still feel slightly guilty for selling just about all of his furniture on Craigslist since we've been together).

We sold the sectional on Craigslist and moved the Room & Board sofa into the living room (had been up in my office since it's delivery).  I love the lines of the R&B sofa, but it's not very deep and after a few weeks of using it we were hating it for our new purposes.  Something had to be done.

So after 9 months of living here I still don't have a furnished and functional living room.  I'm keeping the Surya Rug and hopefully the metal antler table (I still love it).

So on the list are:

  • A comfortable but still attractive sofa
  • Window treatments
  • Something to replace the WS sunburst mirror that is clearly too small for that space (lesson learned for me regarding living in a space a bit before buying items, same goes for the R&B sofa)
  • A proper fireplace mantel
  • Decide if I'm keeping the antler table in the room, if so what color to paint the base and to replace the glass top (scratched and chipped)
  • Side tables
  • Loveseat or a set of chairs
  • 'Entertainment' unit, I need something for the TV other than the random console table it's been sitting on since we moved in
  • Pillows, throw, and accessories 
I'd love to have the room done by Christmas as my in-laws are coming.  My father-in-law hasn't been to the house yet and my mother-in-law saw it last Thanksgiving (I think she actually took the picture of the room above).  Not to mention I'd just really love to have it done!