Looking forward

I purchased this beautiful  “Language of Flowers” calendar from Etsy after seeing it featured on an Apartment Therapy roundup. It’s by the House that Lars Built.

language of flowers


In Victorian times flowers were used as an elaborate means of communication between lovers, with each blossom meaning something different. It reminded me of a well known book my mom sent me called “The Illuminated Language of Flowers” by the famous 19th century illustrator of children’s books, Kate Greenaway.  This calendar isn’t really practical for writing notes on, but I mostly use a wall calendar as a date reference and, obviously, this is a beautiful thing to hang on the wall.

Are you looking forward to the new year? We had a wonderful holiday, but are all now suffering with a cold. We had our first snowfall last night and Lucy is super excited about playing outside, despite her Niagara nose. I’d much rather stay inside and translate the meaning of those beautifully illustrated flowers.

Hope you all are well, and cozy.


Our custom Manstad slipcover is here!

Remember awhile ago when I blogged about getting a new slipcover for our Ikea Manstad Sofa? We ordered it from Comfortworks and unfortunately, after the initial production stage of our cover, the manufacturer noticed some color variations in the fabric that they considered unacceptable. Their very kind customer service representative sent me some fabric samples to choose from and allowed us to upgrade to a much nicer fabric than our original choice at no additional cost. We ended up with a fabric called Liege Biscuit which I don’t see on their website (probably because it’s normally not an option for this piece.) Once I chose a replacement fabric they got my order to me incredibly quickly!  We’ve had it for about a month and I figured I should finally take some pics to share.


I’m super happy with the quality of the fabric and the construction. The fit is absolutely perfect. I chose the “relaxed fit” cover and I love the look of the pleats on the corners. The cover actually has 6 separate pieces – 3 cushion covers and then  3 pieces that make up the body of the sofa and chaise. Putting the cover on did require unscrewing and pulling the sofa apart, which was definitely a two person job. Luckily the chaise part of the cushion cover (that lifts up for storage) comes off easily, because that’s my dog’s preferred spot for sleeping, and will probably have to be washed more frequently than the rest of the cover. I did have to add a strip of velcro to attach the area below the chaise so the slipcover would fit perfectly (that wouldn’t be an issue in models newer than 2008) Comfort Works also included 2 free coordinating pillow covers that I wasn’t expecting- how nice!

I’m so happy with the cover. It really lightens up our space and knowing that I have the option to wash it is perfect for our sometimes messy household. I’m actually glad that there was an issue with the original fabric, because this fabric (still a linen blend) is absolutely dreamy. Many thanks to Rachel at Comfort Works for resolving our delay so quickly and with such great results!

Sorry these aren’t the best pictures; you can find more pictures of Comfort Works Manstad slipcovers here.


update 2/14/2013 – I finally had to wash it after Lucy spilled Chocolate milk on it one too many times and it cleaned up beautifully! I washed all 3 body pieces (the cushion covers were fine) in my home machine in cold water on the light cycle. I did pretreat a few stains with shout. I let it air dry overnight and put it right back on the couch. The fit was a bit more snug, but not in a bad way. It’s a two person job getting it on and off the sofa though! We are so happy with our slip cover.

more holiday decor…

I had leftovers from making our outdoor planters so I found a few places that needed a little holiday cheer.

I added pine boughs and a some candle light  to our little buffet area. It’s where we keep all our fruit and veggies that don’t need to be refrigerated.

The tealights and candles are flameless versions that I picked up at World Market. I figured that since this area is immediately behind where a certain wiggly inquisitive almost two year old sits, I had better play it safe. Using flameslees candles also means there is no danger of someone singing themselves when they reach for a clementine. They flicker pretty realistically even if the glow is a bit on the orange side. My bananas look so glamorous!!!

Our dining table got a pretty spray of winterberry. I like the little burst of color. My dad bought me that vase from Crate&Barrel a million years ago and I use it all the time.

Our powder room got the last of the greens and a mercury candle pot. I like a scented (real)candle for the bathroom, especially since its right off the dining room. If you know what I’m sayin’. Moving on…

It’s nice to jazz up an everyday space a little bit and, frankly, I needed a little cheering up  today. Lucy has been waking up A LOT at night and then feeling overtired and cranky during the day. It’s mostly because I’m trying to wean her and she’s not happy about it. I’m feeling a little guilty about it since I always figured I would do child led weaning, but I’m also starting to feel a little frustrated with her constant desire to nurse. So, we’re working on it; but man. I’m pooped. We co-sleep half the night – Lucy goes to bed in her own bed and then comes into our bed when she wakes up – but I wonder if her proximity to me at night is making the weaning harder. I would hate to stop co-sleeping though. I love snuggling with my little peanut.

These are her pretty please puppy eyes. Pretty irresistible, huh?

Hope you all are well. and sleeping more than me.


the ottoman

So, remember the awesome ottoman we bought last winter/early spring? I knew as soon as we got it that the upholstery wasn’t robust enough for our house. It was a cotton/linen blend which would totally be fine in a house that doesn’t have a crazed chocolate milk wielding toddler.

Here’s the ottoman before we destroyed it. Lucy looks so tiny!

It got gross. And the thin upholstery meant that the tufting started to lose it’s shape after a while.

No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get it clean.

I decided that I wanted to reupholster it, and that I wanted to try doing it myself (oh, ambition!) My local fabric store had Sunbrella on sale so I thought I’d give it a shot. Because Sunbrella is meant for outdoor use it wipes clean easily and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. I was a little worried that it would feel stiff or plasticky but I was pleasantly surprised by how soft  it was. I started by tearing off the old upholstery, which is where I ran into my first surprise.

I quickly realized that the buttons were only surface tufted – meaning they were only tufted through the top layer of foam.

That’s kind of a flimsy way to do it and means that over time the tufting can shift and move. I knew I had to make the tufts go all the way through the plywood so once I had all the foam exposed, I just used a drill to make holes through the exiting openings in the foam.

This is also the point at which I realized I could no longer just wing it so I used this tutorial about tufting from Little Green Notebook (which if you aren’t already reading, you should be.) Since all my foam was in good shape I just followed the end part of Jenny’s tutorial about actually making the tufts. First I had to make 23 self covered buttons (oy! my thumbs!)

Just to give you an idea of how grimy the fabric was, here’s a pic of it after I ripped it off. Ewww. Sorry.

I chose a color of sunbrella that was really close to the existing upholstery. I went with just a shade or two darker so that it wouldn’t exactly match our newly slipcovered sofa. I used almost exactly two yards of fabric, but I bought three so I have some left over for a throw pillow. The total cost of reupholstering was less than $50 including fabric. It would have been at least $200 to have it done professionally.

I won’t lie you guys; making the tufts was hard! The foam is really deep so it was difficult to thread the needle through the holes in the plywood. I would definitely suggest using a large drill bit to make your holes. It will save a lot of time digging through the foam. I also used a darning needle – again, use the largest/longest you can find that actually is sharp enough to pierce your fabric.   Once your button is threaded and you’ve dug back through the foam, you just staple it to the back of the plywood (check out Jenny’s tutorial for more details) Here’s how things were looking this morning –

My hands were soooo sore from tugging on the upholstery thread to get the tufts tight and deep, but I persevered and finished!

Excellent example of why we need kid-proof upholstery.

It’s not perfect, but considering it’s my first attempt at re-upholstery, I’m pretty proud! I love that the tufts are deeper than they were originally. Here’s a side by side comparison.

Considering how beat up it was, I’m super happy with how it turned out. It’s like I have my original ottoman back, but a little more durable and clean. Lucy actually spilled chocolate milk on the ottoman while I was upholstering it, and it wiped right off. I’m super happy with the Sunbrella fabric and would totally recommend it if you have need for new interior upholstery. It is so nice in a house with pets and a toddler. I’m really glad we are heading into the holiday season with fresh upholstery in our living room. We do a ton of entertaining during this time of year and it’s nice to not be ashamed of our dirty furniture. I don’t think I’ll be trying anymore tufted projects anytime soon, but it’s nice to know how to do it in case I ever want to make headboard or update a chair. I need to give my swollen hands a break!

Pk is coming home tomorrow and our Thanksgiving week will begin. Hopefully I’ll actually finish painting the porch and have a chance to iron our new sofa slipcover so I can show it off. Hope you all are well! Are you so excited about Thanksgiving? I am, especially because I don’t have to cook!


New Painting

The wall above our tv was looking a little plain.

Trimming out the beams and adding crown molding helped a whole lot, but I still felt like the space was a bit empty.


Pk and I won this painting at a spring auction to benefit Misericordia several months ago. I had it reframed and then stuck it in the basement while all the drywall and painting was going on, but now that the dust has settled I’m happy to give it  a new home.

I’m not sure if I’ll add more art to that wall or just let the lady stand on her own, but for now, I love seeing her there.What’s especially amazing about this painting is that it was painted by a resident of Misericordia, not a professional artist. Misericordia has residences and programming for children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. It’s a phenomenal organization and you can read more about it here, and here’s a link to a great video that features some of the artists in the show.

Hope you all had a great weekend!


diy black pipe console table

Pk and I recently undertook a fun diy project. We made a console table out of black pipe and wood salvaged from a barn that belonged to his family in Michigan. I’m really happy with how it turned out!

One of the great perks of building your own furniture is that you can customize it to fit your needs. There are so many sizes and fittings of black pipe, you can basically create any shape you want. We wanted a pretty shallow depth table for this space because it butts up against a bookcase and seating area. The barnwood we had was 62 inches long and about 14 inches wide and we bought pipe to fit it, but if you’re building your own, you may want to get different sizes based on the size wood you choose. Black pipe can be cut and threaded to any length you choose. We chose 3/4 diameter pipe because we liked how substantial it looks.

Here’s our material list –

4 – 3/4 diameter 21″ nipples for the legs (we had 24″ lengths cut down and threaded)

6 – 3/4 T’s

1 – 3/4 48 nipple” for the cross bar support

4- 3/4 5″ nipple for the legs above the joints

4- 3/4 3″ nipples for the horizontal support

8- 3/4 floor flanges to act as feet, and to connect the base to the table.

1 can of Rustoleum High Performance enamel in flat black.

Wood screws (we used inch and a half long screws because our wood top is so thick.)

Our material cost was about $125 (black pipe isn’t cheap!) but that’s still a whole lot less than some of the other console table options I liked and we were able to customize the length. I also wanted to be able to fit our ottomans underneath so we could have a bit of extra seating when we need it.

Our process was pretty straight forward. Once we decided on 3/4 diameter pipe, we just played with the fittings at Home Depot until we got the look and stability we needed to support our heavy wooden slab.

We initially thought we wanted a shelf too, but once we spied this huge slab in our pile of salvaged wood, we knew that keeping it simple was a better idea. It’s got so much character; saw marks, wormholes, etc. We didn’t do anything to it except give a wipe down and a quick coat of teak oil to even out the color and bring out a little   bit of depth.

I initially thought we would cut down the board to be closer to 52 inches, but once we had everything put together, we decided to leave the edges as is.  Once the base was assembled, I took it out to the backyard and seriously cleaned it. Black pipe always has a ton of cutting oil residue so before I painted it I gave it a really thorough cleaning with a degreaser. I used Rustoleum High Performance Enamel spray paint in flat black. I only had to do one coat to even out the color over the whole base.Once it was dry we simply screwed it on out board upside down and voila! Gorgeous, rustic/industrial table. Because the pipe is threaded we were able to level the table to accommodate our seriously sloping floors. The slab itself is a little warped, which presented a challenge in terms of leveling, but if you’re buying dimensional lumber that won’t be a problem for you.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember this picture of the same spot in our living room from holiday time. We had a larger farmhouse table.


and now


I think the round mirror will go back up, and I’m thinking about slipcovering the ottomans. I love the scale of the table and how the black pipe picks up the black of the bookcases. I also love that the wood is from one of Pk’s Grandma’s barns in Michigan. The pipe furniture look isn’t for everyone, I know, but right now its working with our casual/luxe living room style. I just made that up. Our style could probably be more accurately called doing the best you can while living in a tiny house with a toddler, dog, cat, and trying to decorate on the cheap. But i digress…


The slab has to be at least 100 to 150 years old, and who knows how old the tree was when it was cut down and milled into this piece of wood. I love having a piece of furniture that’s connected to Pk’s roots and I especially love that we were able to come up with an option that used a material we already had on hand. Have you guys ever built anything out of pipe?

I finally feel like our living room is starting to come together. After so many months of renovations (enclosing the porch, remodeling the kitchen, and putting trim in the living room/sunroom) it’s so nice to finally start decorating and creating a space that works for our family.


update – 5/22/2014

This project was selected for the Bob Vila Thumbs Up Competition!


New Curtains






There wasn’t anything wrong with the other curtains, other than being a little boring, but when someone gives you brand new fully lined flocked curtains from Anthropologie, you find a place to put them! My friend Jenny tried these in her dining room, but they weren’t quite right so she passed them on to me. In exchange I gave her a very pretty mahogany veneered dresser that we weren’t using anymore. She got new media storage, and I got these gorgeous curtains. It was a good swap! I love how the chartreuse looks against the greige of the kitchen/dining area and I think they dress the space up a little. It’s also nice to have something a little more rich and textured as we move into fall.

Any seasonal decor changes going on in your house?



Things have been a bit busy around here. My best childhood friend is coming for a visit and nothing inspires a flurry of house projects like expecting a houseguest! Most of them are boring, like cleaning baseboards and dusting under furniture, but I’ve also tackled a few bigger things. Like painting the bathroom, and the floor of the hallway that leads to it.

Trying to paint the only full bath in your house immediately creates chaos. I’ve had to coordinate the timing of coats of paint with Pk’s schedule so he can actually shower in the morning without stepping through paint. I also failed to do a primer coat because I thought I could skip it because we’re using heavy duty porch paint. Fail! I had to add an extra coat of primer on top of the first two coats because the tinted wood fill that the previous installer had used started to leak through. Hopefully today’s coat is the last and I can actually put the room back together.

Of course I made time for a little thrifting. I picked up these pretty brass bowls for $6 and the sweet white and blue planters for a song. The potted succulents are from Home Depot and were only  a few bucks each. It’s nice to have something pretty to look at while washing paintbrushes  and maybe I won’t kill them?). We managed to squeeze in a trip to Ikea last night and picked up a couple Expedit bookcases for the playroom/office. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of the bathroom and office later this week. We’ve living in a construction zone for so long that it’s  taking me a while to process through all the junk that has accumulated everywhere. At some point we gave up on filing all together and now there is a giant pile of paperwork waiting to find a home. I think I need an extra cup of coffee today…

Is anybody else out there struggling to tie up loose ends?

Hope you all are well,


Sofa talk.

Let’s pretend that you wanted to buy a new linen slip-covered sofa.

In this pretend world, you’d be filthy rich, and you could buy this one from Restoration Hardware for $5300 or so dollars.

If, even in fantasy world, that’s too expensive, you could look at this one from Potterybarn. It’s not a sectional or a sleeper, but it’s available in Linen for only $2699. A bargain!

If that price was a little too steep you could look at this other great slip covered option from Crate and Barrel that’s also a queen sleeper. It’s a steal for $2099 bucks. It’s not linen, but instead, durable cotton.

My friends, this is not fantasy land, and there is no way I’m spending two grand on a couch anytime soon. The thing is, we already have an awesome couch. It’s the Ikea Manstad – the super versatile, well propertioned, loved by small space dwellers everywhere wonder sofa. Also, it’s only $799. I think we actually paid $699 when we bought ours two years ago, but I could be wrong. We love this sofa so much that we convinced my brother and my sister to buy it.




Here’s the thing. It’s not slip-covered and it’s looking pretty disgusting. In fact, its so gross that I refuse to show a picture of it on the blog, except this one, in which you only see it from a distance. All the spot cleaning in the world will not save this thing.  Houses with sticky messy toddlers and pets need slipcovers. It’s true. So, I bit the bullet and just ordered this thing of beauty from Comfortworks.




I seriously could not be more excited about this slip-cover. I had originally looked at these ones from Bemz, but decided that I like the looser fit that the Comfortworks ones offer. It’s a little expensive as slipcovers go, but this is not just a cheap big box store, one size fits all cover. It’s a custom made, upholstery quality linen cover. Even if you add the original cost of our sofa and the slipcover, it’s still less than the options above, and we get a sectional, sofa bed and slip-covered sofa all in one. Because it’s custom it won’t be here for another month, but I truly don’t mind waiting. I will finally have a sofa that I’m not embarrassed to let people sit on.

Hope you all are well,



So. Here’s what I’m thinking about for the sunroom. This space truly has to be shared because we are in desperate need of a devoted place for all of Lucinda’s toys as well as a home office. We’ll be packing a whole lot of function into a space that’s only 8×12 feet.  The thought of Lucy having a specific space for all her toys makes me want to do a happy dance since they are currently spread over every.square.inch. of this house. Here’s the plan.
1. We need an expedit shelving unit for toy storage. Badly. I saw one posted on craigslist but missed it, so it looks like I’ll be dragging us to Ikea sometime soon.
2. Dudes. This fixture is amazing. I’ve had my eye on this one from Restoration Hardware, but there is no way I’m paying $500 bones for it. I found this satin finish brass one on ebay for about $80 bucks. It doesn’t include bulbs, but since I wanted Edison bulbs anyway I’m totally ok with that. Also, brass makes me happy.
3. I like a lateral file cabinet because it gives us a surface to put the printer on. I found a floor sample with similar lines to the one above at office max for $80 bucks. It’s black and a little beat up, but it’s nothing a little white paint won’t help.
4. Our desk has a weathered grey finish, because we found it in the workshop of our previous house. This image is just an approximation. I love the super textured look of the table, but I probably need to get a piece of glass cut for the top for a smooth work surface. We have a white gilbert chair from Ikea that’s pretty comfortable, for now.
5.This indoor/outdoor Dash and Albert rug would be perfect for a play room since it can be hosed off. I’m digging the stripes.
6. A friend gave us an amazing round yellow play table that was originally her mother’s(!) It’s got great character and is a perfect size. Bonus, it’s solid wood. The chair is from Room and Board.
7.Remember Lucy’s thrifty play kitchen? It will move in here too. I’ve always loved this one from Ikea though.
I know it’s a little lacking in color, but I have a feeling that Lucy’s toys will add a ton of whimsy to the room.We still need to paint, finish the crown, and trim out the newly revealed window (or replace them all) but I feel optimistic that this room is going to seriously increase how well our first floor functions.
Also, a big thanks to Dana over at House*Tweaking. She did an excellent tutorial for using Polyvore to create moodboards. I’ve used Olioboard before, but really like some of the additional features that Polyvore offers. Thanks Dana!
Have a great weekend!
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