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

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!

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

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.

xxH

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

Island time.

I decided, after posting pics of the new kitchen, that our island was looking a little boring.

So I went to Home Depot and picked up some bead board paneling that compliments the cabinets, but doesn’t exactly match. I came home with this stuff. I was a little freaked out about the fact that it’s plastic, but it really looks perfect. It’s also being installed in an area that’s prone to being touched by sticky hands so I love that I can wipe it clean without worry. We got really lucky that allvthe shades of white match.

Sean took a break from trimming out the porch to install the tongue and grooved pieces.He used a brad nailer, but you could also use a panel adhesive if you wanted.  We installed it directly over the existing panel.

 

I think it looks great!

Sorry for the awful lighting. I was a bit eager to snap and share. We still have to fill a couple nail holes too.

This is definitely an easy way to update plain cabinet panels. It also can be installed as traditional wall wainscoting and would be perfect in a bathroom since it isn’t susceptible to mold or mildew.  I’m really pleased with it. It adds a nice kind of cottage-y vibe to the kitchen.

xo,

H

 

The Kitchen.

It’s done*.

I love it.

You can see some before pics here.

There really isn’t anything I would change about it. I love our cabinetry (Martha Stewart ‘Dunemere’ in Picket Fence) We saved ourselves a lot of headache and expense by not changing our layout at all. We had already purchased our appliances when we moved into the house, but did buy a new refrigerator, microwave (in the pantry), garbage disposer, and range hood. I’d guess, all together, this kitchen probably cost us about $13k (gulp). That’s for new cabinets, hardware, quartz countertops, sink, faucets, backsplash, light fixtures, the appliances I just mentioned, and some of the installation labor. The biggest functional improvement to the kitchen is the addition of the range hood and garbage disposer. We do a lot of high heat cooking and having a hood that vents to the outside of the house is a godsend, not to mention fewer episodes of setting off the fire alarm. Doing dishes is always a chore, but having a disposer eliminates the always gross job of cleaning out the sink trap. The next functionality award winner is the island. Our stainless Ikea table was great, but low open storage with a toddler was a nightmare! Now there is a (childproofed) place for everything. We also put the island on casters in case we ever need to move a big piece of furniture upstairs. The mini-subway tile backsplash is soooooo much nicer than our grease spattered walls. Choosing cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling makes the room feel taller and gives us great additional storage. The cabinet hardware (Duluth from Restoration Hardware) is just the icing on the cake. Seriously. I love everything about this kitchen. It’s totally worth every penny and such a pleasure to cook in.

What do you guys think? You like? I’d love to hear from you.

* Looking at these pics made me realize that the island would look great if it had bead-board panel instead of flat. I bought some today. We also still have to add quarter round to the base shoe on the cabinets. Sigh.

** Our fridge is incredibly out of level. It’s so out of level that we can’t just use the leveling feet to correct it; we have to deal with the floor itself. Not sure when that will happen.

Partial source list here.

the countertops are here!

and I love them.

We went with Silestone Marengo. It’s kind of a charcoal grey. Definitely not black, but dark.

We chose quartz over other materials because it requires no maintenance except cleaning and since there is a lot of wine and messy cooking in this house, that’s a good thing.

I’d love to show off the rest of the kitchen, but there are a few things left to do

  • paint the all the trim and pantry and bathroom doors
  • tile and grout the backsplash
  • touch up the crown moulding above the cabinets
  • replace the outlet covers
  • touch up the ceiling paint
  • buy a window treatment (roman shade? bamboo?) and maybe some cute accessories.
  • clean the bejesus out this place.

seriously. I love them.

Have a fantastic Holiday weekend!

xx-H

 

It was coming from under the sink.

So. We’re still waiting for countertops. sigh. But, bless his heart, our carpenter extraordinaire Sean has temporarily connected our plumbing so we could actually use our beautiful new sink (hallelujah!) The creepy blue light you see is actually our new under-counter water filtration system.

 We’ve been using a Brita pitcher for years, but I’ve always hated leaving it out on the counter. I found the Zuvo water filtration system online and was thrilled that the faucet was actually attractive. It also comes in several different finishes and a few different faucet styles. We went with satin nickel to match our other fixtures and hardware.The Zuvo system uses a five step filtration process that you can read more about here. Obviously the most interesting thing about it is the uv light. Thankfully it’s not always on (’cause that would be weird) – the light only turns on when you actually turn on the faucet. You only have to change the filter every six months and it’s comparable in price to the other water filtration systems you would find at your local home supply store. I bought ours through amazon after homedepot.com ran out of the satin finish. Also, the water also tastes great! Sometimes our tap water can taste strongly of chlorine, especially after a big rainstorm (and the water treatment facility adds more chemicals to disinfect the runoff.) We love it.

Lucy is also totally obsessed with it*

* Don’t worry! The uv light isn’t dangerous unless the bare bulb is exposed (for example, when you are changing the filter.) I promise I’m not letting her go blind. She barged in on the photo shoot and I couldn’t resist snapping these pics of her checking it out.

I can’t wait to show you guys the rest of the kitchen! Hopefully our countertops will be installed this coming week. In the meanwhile we’ve been unpacking and getting ready to paint the rest if the room (which is why if you look closely you can see that we left the protective plastic coating on the cabinets until we are done) This weekend is Pk’s birthday and hopefully we can keep the kitchen work to a minimum and actually spend some time celebrating.

Have a great weekend!

xx-H

  • p.s. This isn’t a sponsored post and all the feelings and descriptions above are my own. I just really like this thing and wanted to share.
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