It’s all in the details.

But first, a weather update. It’s hard not to feel like nature is playing a joke on you when the radar looks like this.

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That wee blue snowstorm was hovering directly over us yesterday and we woke up to another dusting this morning. Even the most affable among us are being dragged down by the constant cold and snow. It’s a little nerve wracking getting around all the ice when I’m so tippy, but I’ll hold fast to the idea that this baby will be born in spring time. 4 more weeks!

Our contractor Sean has been working hard to wrap up a few things in the meanwhile. First on our list was replacing the rest of the baseboards and door trim on the first floor, in the kitchen and dining room.

Here’s a before pic, from when we mostly redid the kitchen in 2012. You can see the skinny baseboard, and undersized door trim on the pantry and sliding door to the powder room.

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Sean carefully removed the old trim

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Then he installed the new trim and beefed up the door casings.

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Sorry, grainy iphone pics. You can see the little closet door here too. Lots of doors in a small space!

Here are the afters – you can see that beefing up the door trim brought the line of the pantry door up to the same height as the cabinet above the fridge (which needs to be leveled).

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I like the plinth blocks at the foot of the doors. They just make everything feel really solid.

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This little closet door was red in another life and sat primed and pinkish with no hardware here for 2 years until Sean actually gave it the paint job it deserved.

So, those are some little details that have changed around here. It’s amazing how removing the little eyesores around our house have really changed my impression of our space. When we first moved in, all the doors were plastic hollow core and had shiny brass hardware. These 2 panel solid wood doors were salvaged from houses all over Chicago and the North Shore – some of them are probably one hundred or more years old, just like our house. It feels so good to bring it back the simple, high quality details that it deserves. If you’re local, we’ve had great luck with salvaged doors at the Rebuilding Exchange in the city and even closer at Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse.

Next on our list – finishing the stairway bannister and replacing the doors on the second floor. We are also planning to gussy up the powder room a little bit – hopefully before this baby makes his arrival! His nursery is almost ready to share, just waiting on one more piece of artwork.

Hope you all are well,

xx-H

Toddler girl outfits – holiday inspiration

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I have found it much easier to shop for Lucy this holiday season than for myself, most maternity holiday clothes are pretty garish. Lucy’s options, on the other hand, are fabulous. I tend to shy away from the brighter colors in hopes that she can wear things again when it isn’t Christmastime and I also want her to be comfortable enough to play. I look for fleece lined tights and super soft under layers so that she can throw something sparkly on without being freezing as we go from place to place. Lucy is kind of a funny size – tall enough for some 4t, but a skinny mini so still fitting into some baby collections that go up to 36 moths, like Zara. We picked up a few things at H&M that I wasn’t able to link to, but I was really impressed with their in store selection and sales. The Gap/Old Navy has some darling options for more casual events (pre-school holiday party, holiday play-date, etc.) I rediscovered Garnet Hill kids – I always forget they have charming kids clothes too. Lucy’s birthday party is less than two weeks away so she will surely pick something sparkly to wear that day too (my bet is the gold dot dress from Garnet Hill.)
Hope your holiday prep is going well – I find it awfully tempting to shop for non-gift items this time of year.
xx-H
ps. The Zara coat has tiny ears on the hood. Little old ladies always cluck and coo over Lucy when she wears it.

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really. thank goodness it’s almost Friday, because it feels like Pk has been out of town for like a year. It’s been a long slow week of wanting to get a lot done and not feeling like I’m accomplishing anything. The dreaded cold that Lucy and I have is still holding on, but I think we are finally on the upswing. I have a list of little projects (and a few big ones!) that I’d like to tackle when my mister gets home, once he has had a chance to catch up on sleep. Actually we both probably need to catch up – when Pete’s out of town I have a tendency to be a hyper vigilant night owl – listening to every creak and sound, and waking up every time a car hits the speed bump on out street. I guess my insomnia could also be a side affect of the medication I’m on for our IVF cycle. Lupron makes me feel strangely dull and a little foggy, not to mention the hot flashes (there was an awkward moment in an elevator at Urban Outfitter yesterday, yikes!) You can read more about the purpose of Lupron during IVF here if you are curious.

One of the projects I’ve been thinking about is our back yard – we’re in kind of an awkward spot in terms of timing. We’d love to dig out basement (which would mean staging a giant rubble pile and probably a concrete truck in our yard) but we’re still working on the garage/studio. I don’t want to have another summer of not really usable backyard space so I’d like to at least get the the yard leveled out and some grass planted – right now the yard slopes towards our house which isn’t the best for drainage. I’d also like to replace our fence which is currently falling down into our neighbor’s yard. I need to get a quote from a mason to brick up some windows that were boarded over from the inside of the house (why, previous owners, why?!?) and get a quote for a new roof and gutters. I probably need to deal with all those things before we do our basement, so that water issues don’t destroy any of the work we would do down there. I’m always in favor a buying a fixer upper and improving, but man, sometimes the amount of work that this house needs is so overwhelming.

I wish our yard looked like this. Actually I’d take the whole house (designed by Mark Egerstrom).

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I love a low wooden deck, and it would probably be cheaper than a stone patio. We’ll have to see what Pete thinks, but in the meanwhile, I can dream.

Happy almost Friday!

Dispatches from the couch

Guys. Lucy and I got massively smacked down by what I’m calling the plague this week. Sore throats, headaches, Niagara noses – you name it; we’ve got it. I had every intention of writing thoughtful posts  about many different things but right now my brain is operating at minimum capacity (truly – I watched like six hours of Bravo last night – if that’s not evidence of desperation illness, I don’t know what is.) Instead I’ll share a few picks of some little changes around our house for spring.

Kitchen/Dining area curtains BEFORE

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Kitchen Dining area curtains AFTER

IMG_4807Big surprise – I changed them back to white and used the Aina curtains from Ikea. I also hung the rod almost at the ceiling to make the window feel bigger. It looks so much cleaner and crisper now. I love those Anthropologie curtains, but I was feeling a lighter look for spring. Bonus – now the light fixture really stands out.

Kitchen Rug BEFORE

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Kitchen rug AFTER

IMG_4815It’s kind of nice to lose the red -but  I love, love, love the other rug and will probably bring it back out next fall. This striped rug, also from pottery barn, feels nice and a little preppy. This one looks like it’s sold out online but this one is similar.

Bathroom curtain and rug BEFORE

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Bathroom Curtain and Rug AFTER

IMG_4813So nice and bright! The wild floral shower curtain is from Pottery Barn also, and coordinates much better with the pink stool I sit on while miss Lucy takes a bath. I already had the white bath rug which collects much less animal hair  than the black rag ones I had before (YUCK!)

I added a pretty potted fern to our living room. I love having a little burst of greenery inside –

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Lets see, what else – oh! In case you thought I’m the only one obsessed with Japanese Animation films, here is evidence to the contrary. I’m thinking about getting this print for Lucy’s room.

That’s all. Hope you feel better than I do!

Helen

ps. Here is an elegant piece from Salon written by the film critic Roger Ebert, who passed away today. RIP.

p.p.s. I start shots for our 2nd fresh IVF cycle tonight – if all goes well (and that’s a big if) I’ll be injecting myself with needles everyday for the next 3 months!

One tidy corner.

It took me a while to realize that this Ikea Expedit unit wasn’t working in our playroom. It was too wide for the space, and I had a tendency to just shove stuff in it in such a way that Lucy couldn’t really see what toys and books were hiding in its depths. Most of the books were out of her reach and she was often tempted to climb up and get them (yikes!) A few months ago I picked up some of these ledges at Ikea so I could face the books out, and I planned to add some totes underneath so more of her toys would be accessible. Pk cut them to size and hung them for me after a few weeks of pestering gentle reminders.IMG_4773IMG_4774

Ta da! A somewhat tidy corner with a lovely display of books.IMG_4782

I’ve moved the fragile books out of reach and kept sturdier board books on the bottom. A little bin next to the play kitchen holds all of Lucy’s favorite ( ie read daily) books. I initially thought I would need to buy a few totes for toy storage but then remembered that we had this hand me down doll cradle which works perfectly to corral Lucy’s growing stuffed animal collection. Her blue walker/doll stroller finally has a parking space too (and works conveniently as tutu storage.) We still have one Expedit unit in this tiny room, but two was one too many. I did a huge toy purge and put a ton of toys in storage to use if we have  another little one – or donate if we don’t. There were so many that she just wasn’t playing with anymore and I wanted to leave room for new toys that seem to appear when I’m not paying attention.IMG_4779

The room just feels a lot more balanced now too, and bigger. I’d love to show you the other side, but didn’t have the energy to tidy my desk (womp womp.) There are still a few things to do in here – the window above the play kitchen that was buried in drywall still needs to be replaced, along with all the other windows in the house – and my file cabinet needs some touch up paint. Overall though, I’m so happy with this sun room – Lucy can amuse herself while I blog or pay bills and all her toys can pretty much be contained in this area. I would still love,love,love to finish our basement so I can move most of the toys down there, but for now this sunny space works great as a playroom.

Any little improvement projects going on at your place?

xx-H

New light fixture in the dining room

For the longest time Pete and I lived with the really ugly ceiling fan that was in this area. We eventually stumbled upon this chandelier at one of our favorite thrift stores, The Brown Elephant, in Andersonville. We’ve had it hanging for about 2 years, and I’ve always kind of known it wasn’t right for the space, even though I love it’s vintage appeal.

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Sorry for the clutter – this is real life folks.

The fixture is really ornate, it’s probably a reproduction of a Victorian era fixture. It also has always hung a bit wonky, which made me crazy. Everything else in this kitchen/dining space has really clean lines, so when I spotted this fixture from Ballard during their recent sale I pulled the trigger.

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I really, really like it. I bought Edison bulbs for it and I love the little bit of industrial appeal it gives the room. Sean was also able to center it over the table (the other fixture wasn’t centered) and it just gives this whole space a better sense of proportion. We will keep the other fixture for now or maybe sell it at a garage sale (we only paid $40 bucks for it, so it won’t be hard to recoup that loss.) I think I’m going to change the curtains in this room, again. I love these ones from Anthropologie but they are just a little short. I’d love to raise the height of the curtain rod to make that window seem taller. I think I’ll probably go with the Aina panlels from Ikea in white that I just used in our bedroom. I really love the way they drape and they are a great price. I love experimenting with patterns and colors, but I tire of them so quickly. I always find myself reverting back to white and neutral tones. I guess seasonal redecorating is the way to go for me…

It’s so so so so cold here this week. The kind of cold that creeps down you collar  and leaves you gasping for air  and your fingers stinging when you come back inside. The kind of cold that made me snort when the Victoria Secret bikini catalogue came in the mail today. It’s a little strange to see so much spring merchandise in stores when it still feels so much like winter!

Hope you all are well –

xx-H

easy magnetic storage

We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen. A little sliver of wall next to the fridge…IMG_1938

For the longest time I just kept the chalk on the nearest counter, but it was frustrating for Lucy to always have to ask me to get it down, so I decided to do something about it.  There’s a bit of the side of the fridge that protrudes next to the chalk wall and it dawned on me that it would be the perfect space for some magnetic storage tins. The pre-made ones (like these, or these) were a little too small to hold chalk markers, so I picked up a couple of inexpensive paint cans and some magnets (like these) at the hardware store. Simply glue the magnets on and voila! I was a bit sloppy with the glue as you can see.

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They have lids, but I leave them off so Lucy can grab her chalk.

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IMG_4647I added two magnets each, but if you are storing something heavier I would recommend adding a few more. I also really like the way the stainless finish blends into the rest of the kitchen.

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Happy Wednesday!

xo – H

Our bedroom. The befores

Our bedroom is one of the larger rooms in our house. It’s as wide as the house and takes up almost the front half of the second floor (street side.) It has some great features – vaulted ceilings, windows on two sides and two (small) closets. When we first moved in we slapped some paint on it, bought a king size mattress and left it at that.

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the vaulted ceilings make the room feel enormous.

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looking right at Pk’s side

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looking left at my side

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I’ve written before about my wardrobe and the vanity table.

So we’ve basically plodded along with this room, ignoring the things about it that were annoying. It just needed an extra layer of detail and a few touches to make it more functional. This space has to function as both a sleeping and dressing area for us and it was seriously lacking in style.

The main issues  –

ugly bifold closet doors, too small/ugly rugs, better clothing management for Pk, lighting, too short window treatments, no artwork or pictures, and an ugly and discolored chair.

Heres a few things I’ve been gathering for this space to give a layer of sophisticated personalization.
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I’ve been working on the bedroom for the last couple weeks and I can’t wait to share it with you! I’m just waiting for a couple things to arrive and for the snow to stop falling so I can whip out my spray paint. Hopefully it will be finished by the end of the week!

xo – Helen

ps. If you want a little eye candy check out this month’s Matchbook Magazine. There’s a great tour of Bailey Mccarthy’s Houston home and it’s amaze-balls. The kitchen will knock your socks off!

The little things.

Do you have a running list of little things that bug you in your house? Stuff that you always mean to take care of, but almost never get around to? I do, and today I actually crossed something off that list. There’s been an ill-fitting shade on this lamp on our console table  for like ever.

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Luckily I found a new shade whilst perusing my Local TJ Maxx. On serious clearance.

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The proportion of this shade is much better. It’s a subtle difference, but it makes me so happy. Not bad for a $10 thrift store lamp!

Other exciting but mundane things from today – I renewed my license at the dmv in less than 30 minutes (I even got a decent picture!), did 3 loads of laundry, actually remembered to pick my prescription on time, and cleaned out the fridge. Take that boring tuesday!

-H

ps. here’s a great source for lamp shades online.

on the hunt for…

an office chair. Our little playroom/office combo is almost finished and I’ve quickly come to realize that the Ikea Gilbert dining chair just isn’t cutting it as an office chair. For one, it doesn’t swivel and I’m also not crazy about the look. Here are a few options I’m considering from Target. Click the picks for links.

This guy, from Target. OH my GOD IT’S SO CHEAP. $32 bucks.

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It’s probably not very comfortable though, and since I share this chair with Pk I need to find something we both like. It would be great for a kids room.

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I REALLY like this one. It’s acrylic and since this is a tiny room, it might be nice to keep the look quite light. It also has armrests – a bonus. $151 isn’t bad for an office chair that lifts and swivels. I’m a little on the fence about how modern it is. It might look awesome and eclectic with our industrial desk, or it might just look crazy.

Finally – these guys, TOO by BLu Dot for Target.

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I’m not crazy about the upholstered ones. I like the walnut one, but the white-washed one is pretty too.

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I also like the white base which would go with all the expedit pieces we have in the room. I could add a cushion or a sheepskin to make it more cozy. You know, like she did.

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What do you like? Keep in mind, it’s going here. (sorry for the crap iphone pic)

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This rug will be in there too.

Also, the chair of my dreams is currently a floor sample at my local Design Within Reach for 20% off.

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Which means it’s still over $2,ooo.oo Ha. They should win an award for most ironic store name.

I did spot one on craigslist though.

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I know having it re-upholstered would be at least $500 bucks. Since it’s $400 already I’m not sure that’s gonna happen.

What do you guys think? Any good sources for office chairs that I’m missing? I didn’t have much luck with the usual suspects (C&B, Ikea, West Elm, etc.) I’d like to spend less than $500. Am I crazy for not grabbing that vintage Eames chair?

Hope you are having a great week!

xx-H

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