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

Our bedroom. After!

I think it’s done! Here’s pics of our newly done bedroom. You can see the before pics in the previous post.

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Looking right to Pk’s side

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The big impact on Pete’s side comes from the gorgeous cowhide I bought from Amazon, and the massive framed Hemnes floor mirror from Ikea. Pete didn’t have a dressing mirror before and this way he can make sure he looks super fly and the mirror can bounce a whole ton of light around the room. We also got new roman shades that add the most lovely filtered light. I outside mounted them and then added inexpensive roller blinds underneath for more privacy at night. The trunk under the window is from World Market.

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I also added some artwork above his dresser (his dresser was a $40 dollar craigslist steal). The art is a lithograph of a train scene from the Belmont station in Chicago and the first framed, expensive art I bought after college. It just screams Pk to me, and the muted colors look really nice in here.

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I also added a walnut hook rack from Rejuvenation (thanks for those Nana, they’re perfect!) and a sturdy laundry bag from West Elm Market. This way he has a place to hang clothes he might wear again the next day instead of hanging them off the dresser hooks (ahem.) The laundry bag is for drycleaning (which is about 80% of his wardrobe.) The vintage clock and Shakespeare collection are things he has had forever. I also added a lamp so that he doesn’t have to turn on the over head lights to get dressed in the wee hours of the morning.

Looking left to my side.

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You guys, the new rug is soooo soft and fuzzy. It keeps my toes cozy while I get dressed in the morning and just makes the whole space look a bit more sophisticated.

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The new chair! I did eventually cave and get a knock-off ghost chair for my vanity. I totally love it and feel no guilt whatsoever.

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I replaced the super ugly chair with this one from world market  ( true story, I tried to use upholstery paint on the other chair, it looked better, but the velvet felt super stiff so I decided to just replace it. it was an epic DIY fail, but hey, I tried.) The new chair fits the space a whole lot better and I like the black legs. The sconce was a thrifty find that used to be in the living room, but it fits this nook perfectly. I added this gorgeous brass side table from Restoration Hardware that I’ve been eying for approximately forever. It’s so great to finally have some family pictures in here too. They used to be in the living room, but work much better here.

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Seriously cannot get enough of the brass, and I like the way it picks up the warm tone from the framed artwork above the bed. Speaking of that…

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I ordered these 3 moon prints from a great Etsy seller and had them framed. I saved a bundle by using stock frames, but had mats cut and the prints mounted and backed. It was obviously more expensive than using say, ikea frames, but the total cost was less than $250 dollars (that includes the labor, prints, and frames!) and I think it makes a huge impact.

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Our plug in wall sconces are from Lowe’s, and help free up space on our night stand tables.

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Our little bedside tables used to be bubble gum pink stools( I got them for $10 at a thrift store a million years ago.) I gave them a quick coat of my favorite black spray paint and now they really ground the space and pick up on the black in the bed linens.

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The linens are a total blend of high and low – white Ralph Lauren sheets from Marshalls, Linen shams and duvet cover from Restoration Hardware, herringbone blanket  and accent pillow from Target, and monogrammed shams from Pottery Barn. IMG_4531

Another major change was removal of the ugly bifold closet doors. I replaced them with Aina linen curtain panels hemmed to the correct length. Normally I’m not a huge fan of curtains as doors, but I like the softness they add here. I actually have two antique french doors sitting in the basement waiting to be cut to size and refinished, so in the mean time the curtains will have to do. I got the recommendation for these curtains from Rosa Beltran Design’s blog. They have an awesome hidden hanging system.

I think that’s it! Peter and I both love, love, love it. It’s just more adult now, and feels a lot less random. It really functions now too (which is the foundation of good design!) We each have our separate dressing area – it’s kind of funny how it turned into his and hers, right? I also love that it’s a mix of old and new, thrifted, DIYed (our headboard is a thrift store find that I sewed a camel colored velvet slipcover for), and newly purchased (rugs, bedding, lighting, etc.) We’ve lived here for 3 and 1/2 years and we finally have a bedroom that looks great (or at least better!)

This weekend we’re celebrating my 30th birthday (gaaahhhhohmygodhowdidthathappensofast!!!) and I’m looking forward to partying with Pk and the rest of our family. Have a great weekend!

xx-H

ps. Taking these pics made me realize that I’m not great at photo styling and that a ton of work goes into those seemingly perfect house images you see all the time. You should see the pile of laundry in the hallway!

pps. This room will never be this clean again, so it’s a good thing I documented it.

The Front Porch. 97.3% finished.

I can’t say that it’s totally finished, but here are some pics of our new(er) front porch. It was so fantastic to have this space during the holiday season. It made for a very welcoming entrance and storage space for our guests and their coats and boots! You might remember that this space was originally an exterior porch that we enclosed by adding windows and door with sidelights. We also added new stairs.

Here’s a reminder of  we started with…

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Here’s what we have now.

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Here’s the view from the living room looking out towards the porch. We decided to leave the floor a natural finish, like the ceiling. The indoor/outdoor rug is from Crate and Barrel.

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We added a bench and baskets for a convenient place to take off and store shoes. The little galvanized can holds sidewalk salt.IMG_4393

I love the ceiling fixture. The lights reflects of the wood ceiling and is so warm and inviting.

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Painting all the gorgeous beadboard took a while – and several coats, but I love it way it looks. The color is Behr Ivory Mist, the same as our living room, but in semi-gloss instead of flat.

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The window looks into the office/playroom. It’s actually nice to get a little extra light in that room and to see who’s at the door so we elected to leave it in place (even though covering it would’ve meant room for more hooks.)

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I added a bunch of double coat hooks from Home Depot. I screwed them right into the beadboard so they can hold  a ton of heavy winter coats. Two boot trays from Target hold the shoes we wear the most often, and the two baskets under the bench hold pairs we wear less often. True confessions, I’m not crazy about the bench – it’s a little more rustic than I like. I suppose I could paint it to match the door, but I wouldn’t be opposed to finding something else to fit the space (maybe a vintage church pew?)

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I took a chance and painted the door a dark charcoal grey. I originally wanted to paint it a true black, but the guys at the paint counter accidentally mixed the color one up on the paint chip I handed them. I think it’s a happy accident because I’ve grown to love the color – Behr Beluga in high gloss. This door was a great salvage find and I’m just waiting for Sean to install the brass door hardware, and a threshold.

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In addition to being a welcoming space, adding much needed coat storage, and improving our curb appeal – the newly enclosed porch means our house is much much warmer since it acts as a windscreen for the living room. The porch isn’t heated, but on the coldest winter days we have a little fan heater out there to give it a boost and help dry out coats and boots.

I love this space, and I love that there is a space to put on coats and shoes thats not right in the living room. It really makes our first floor feel so much more spacious and organized.

What do you guys think?

xx-H

Budget Bathroom Refresh

Back in January I mentioned that we wanted to completely redo our upstairs bathroom. Instead we built a new kitchen (that I love!) We still want to eventually renovate the entire bathroom, but rather than wait another year or more to gather up the funds needed I decided to do a quick facelift. Here’s what it was looking like before…

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Broken and ugly light fixtures, disgusting vinyl mini-blinds, hospital green walls, and a totally trashed painted floor. The area with the painted floor is the awkward portion of the bathroom that’s kind of like a hallway. I actually got most of this little bathroom refresh done before my friend Fraser came to visit this fall. I was painting the floor the day before she got here!

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My main goals were to address the lighting, paint the hallway floor and walls, and find some accessories to brighten it up while keeping it really functional as a family bath (and do it all cheaply!). Here’s the result…

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The walls are Behr Dolphin Fin which might be my new favorite gray. It looks great with the freshly painted white trim.

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The shower curtain  and rugs are from Urban Outfitter. The hand towels are from West Elm. The prints of Victorian toilets are from a thrift store.

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I especially love the way Lucy’s stuff adds a little color. Her step stool by the sink is from Ikea.

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The new window treatment is my other favorite – it’s a vintage irish lace table cover that I found at a local antique shop for $10. I used a cafe rod and clips from Target to hang it. It lets in tons of light, but offers plenty of privacy.

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I was able to find replacement glass for the ceiling fixture and am now kind of embarrassed that I let the bulbs sit exposed for more than a year.

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I was also able to replace the ugly eighties stained glass wall sconce in the hallway portion of the room. I found the cheapest wall sconce I could at Home Depot and added an Edison bulb. I also changed the switch out to a dimmer so it could function as a nightlight.

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I also added a floating wall shelf from Target up high in the awkward hallway to store TP. I added a mirror (originally in the living room and also from a thrift store) below the shelf to visually expand the space. I thought it would be weird to have two mirrors in that space, but it’s so small and oddly shaped that they serve only to make it better. There are 2 hampers below the gold mirror.

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Here’s the view looking back towards the upstairs hallway.

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I added a little collection of glass containers to the vanity to pretty up the things I like to have out on the counter.

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Remember the little brass bowls? One found  a home here, and the pretty glass perfume bottle is from the same shop as the curtain (it holds Argan oil.) Pete has had this cool gold greek key pattern tray forever and it now corrals our toothpaste, tooth brushes, and hand soap.

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It’s not exactly the bathroom of my dreams, but it’s a huge improvement over the way we had it before. I can’t believe that we lived with it looking so grubby for so long! I’m really glad I was able to use so many thrifted and inexpensive items to freshen up this space. I’d say it was less than $250 total for paint, lighting, and accessories. Well worth it to finally have a functioning and decently good looking family bath. I’d still like to pick up some more attractive laundry hampers and replace the hollow core door, but once those are out of the way I think the bath will stay as is while we prioritize some other projects in the coming year.

What do you think?

-H

Porch update #6,732

Just before Halloween Sean finished painting the exterior of the new enclosed porch. You might remember that we started this project in February nope January. It feels so good to have it nearly done.

So obviously we have to replace the walkway to no where, and the fence, put up new house numbers and install lattice under the stairs, but for now the steps are at least finished, and more importantly, protected from the weather. We used oil based paint and stain for this project and even though it was sooooo stinky I’m glad we did because it will be extra durable in the long run. Here’s a little reminder of what we started with. This picture is from the original listing for our house (so it’s a bit small.)

Roughly the same view today-

I know, the brick looks horrible, we have to replace the rest of our windows and do a ton of landscaping, but I really think that the porch has seriously improved the view. The long term plan is to paint the front red brick of our house, probably a medium toned gray to contrast with the yellow brick sides. I wouldn’t ever consider painting brick that’s in good condition, but ours obviously is not. The off-set window on the second floor is a huge eyesore and is covered with drywall from the inside. Ideally we will enlarge the opening and replace it with two windows to give the facade some symmetry and benefit from having another window in our bedroom. Just in case that list isn’t long enough, we also need a new roof. But a least our new entrance is pretty!

Sigh. Baby steps.

Hope you had a good weekend!

xx-H

Updates in Lucy’s room

A while ago I posted that we had found a big girl bed for Lucy. She’s been in it for a few months so I figured it was time to update with what her room looks like now. You can see pictures of her room before here.

We ended up using a mattress and foundation from Ikea and only used the headboard of the vintage bed we found. The Ikea foundation has storage built it in, which is actually holding her disassembled crib and some extra bedding. I finally got around to painting her closet doors with chalkboard paint and added a pretty knob from Urban Outfitter. I changed out the artwork over  her bed to a poster of a vintage map (also from UO). I chose not to frame it because she kicked down the old frames during some wild diaper changes. I also ditched the bright orange rug in favor of the sheepskin that used to be on the chair. I like seeing a bit more of the wood floor anyway since it makes her tiny room feel a bit bigger. The lamps are just an old pair of cheap Ikea bases that I added chrome dipped chandelier bulbs to to give a more modern feel. The duvet cover is from Urban Outfitter and was on clearance at my local store (i think it was from a display).

I really like the feeling of Lucy’s room. It’s bright and warm, and girly without being too sweet. We do have a bed rail on her bed (it’s the kind that tucks under the mattress when not in use.) She’s pretty good about not falling out of her bed, but she only spends about half the night in her own bed anyway. I’m thinking about putting the rocking chair in storage since we mostly just cuddle on the bed during story time and that way she would have more space to play. I love how her room keeps evolving.

Hope you like it!

-H

p.s. in case you are wondering about the location of her bed, there is a child safety lock on the window.

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?

xo-H

the bar.

Pk and I have had this bar cart as long as we’ve lived together. I think he found it in an alley maybe? It’s got great lines, but, it’s not great for storage because it has tiny proportions. We mostly just keep our liquor on a tray on top of it for easy access. Don’t judge.

It now lives in the corner of the living room, nearest the sunroom. I love it’s location, but the wall above was looking a little empty. No longer! I found this awesome sunburst mirror at, of all places, Home Depot.

I love that the mirror is convex. Especially because it obscures your view of how completely chaotic everything else in the living room is. Truly peeps. It looks like a band of crayon carrying monkeys trashed my house.

The bar cart actually opens up to reveal a surface to prepare drinks and tiny cubbies for glasses and a couple bottles.

Cool, huh? I have yet to find a set of vintage glassware that actually fits in it, but I look every time I go thrifting. The little circle cutouts are not an average size so I’ve taken to carrying a measuring tape in my purse in the hopes that I’ll find the perfect highballs, rocks, and shot glasses. The little sliding door below hides a tiny shelf where we keep our shakers and strainers.

 

The cart itself is in desperate need of refinishing don’t you think? I’ve thought about painting it, but I like the warmth that the wood tones bring to that corner of the room, especially now that the gold mirror is above it. It would be a sin to paint it anyway since its probably some kind of awesomely rare mid-century original. I’ve looked in vain for a makers mark, but haven’t found one. Any tips for refinishing it? I was thinking a light sanding and some teak oil, but maybe paste wax would be better? I think it would be fun to have the bar open next time we entertain. I’ll feel like Betty Draper every time I pour Pk a drink.

Cheers!

-H

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