New Couch! Round Two

SO. I was really sure that the World Market couch was the one for us. They were sold out at my location so I put in a raincheck and was assured by the sales associate that it would only be a couple of weeks. Hrrmph. I checked back in a week or so later and was told “we don’t know, most likely 4-6 weeks, there are a lot of orders ahead of yours…yada, yada, yada.

All this back and forth gave me time to rethink. On a whim, on Sunday, Pk and I ventured to Ikea, just to see our options (and shop for some holiday goodies early because they.always.sell.out. of the good stuff at least.) Pk was immediately drawn to the leather couches (dudes, always with the leather.) At first I was like “No WAY! cheap leather, too many seams, I want a light and bright room” but then we spotted an Ikea couch that isn’t shown online – The Jappling.

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You guys. This couch is $399. And you can wipe it off with a sponge. We didn’t actually pick it up yet but Pk will grab it some night after work this week. As if to emphasize that this is the exact right sofa for us, I woke up on Monday morning to find that the cat had puked all over the old couch. What I wouldn’t have given for some wipeable faux leather in that moment.

This is one of those times where I have to just turn off the designer-y part of my brain. I know this couch isn’t the most stylish choice. I know it’s not particularly sophisticated and looks a little cheap, but the truth is it’s a great choice for our lifestyle. I’m not gonna freak out if something spills on it, if it gets totally destroyed by toddler/cat/dog/future baby misadventures, the replacement cost is low as couches go. There is no slipcover to (constantly) wash and the size leaves a bit more floor space in our living room for playtime – which is what family living spaces are all about.

I’m a little bit worried that it will make the room feel really dark, but I checked out this post on how to decorate around a dark leather sofa from Centsational Girl and was comforted. I also found a few images on Houzz that made me feel like it’s possible to have a bright and warm space with a dark leather couch.

So, that’s our great progress in Couch Search 2013. Also, it snowed yesterday which I’m not at all ready for. Time to dig out the faux-fur throws and stock up on tea.
XX-H
Ps. I’m 20 Weeks today! We find out in a couple days if this little munchkin is a boy or girl.Yippee!

Fall buys – Maternity edition

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I’ve been trying hard to stick with the less is more approach to buying clothes that I talked about here – but obviously, changing body = changing wardrobe. I had a tote of good maternity clothes left over from my first pregnancy, but it’s impossibly buried in our storage locker. Thankfully my friends have come to the rescue and sent bags of clothes my way (thanks Annie and Silva!), but I still picked up just a few basics to get me through. I love Old Navy Maternity because it’s so inexpensive and really, for clothes you’re only going to wear for a few months, there is no need to splurge. I normally wouldn’t spend on a specific maternity coat, but since the biggest parts (haha) of this pregnancy happen during the coldest parts of Chicago winter I thought I might make an exception. Surprisingly I think I’ll be able to wear it after pregnancy too – it has toggles to draw in or expand the waist as needed, and the detachable lining makes it versatile. I saw the little post earrings at Urban Outfitter when I was picking up some new lamps (pics coming soon) and they are irresistibly cute. They come in a bunch of different shapes too. They also inexpensively satisfy my growing obsession with delicate gold/brass jewelry. The boots are a classic and as much as I love heeled booties, my expanding waistline means my balance is getting worse and so, flat shoes for me.
So that’s what I’ve been shopping for this fall, how about you guys? Any recommendations for good snow boots? I shudder to think I’ll need them soon.
xo – H
PS. If I wasn’t looking specifically for a maternity coat I would have snatched up this one in khaki from Zara. I saw it in person and it’s gorgeous.
PPS. Sorry if you got multiple notifications about this post – Polyvore (what I use to make the outfit boards) was being a little fussy.

New couch!

I know. Didn’t we just get a slipcover for our couch last year? Yes we did, but after playing around with the layout of our living room and having to wash said slipcover a million times, Pk and I decided it’s time to move on. While Pk and Lucy were doing their weekend swim lesson (cutest ever) I wandered into World Market and spied a couch that fit the bill.

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Right now World Market is having their 25% off furniture sale, meaning that this beauty is only $524 before tax. I love its clean tuxedo shape, tufting, and trim dimensions. Our current couch – an Ikea manstad, is just a bit too big for our space. I always imagined it would end up in the basement, but since it appears that project is proceeding at a glacial pace – I just can’t wait any longer. Luckily Pk’s mom might want the couch, and if she doesn’t our renters have offered to take it so I don’t feel like it’s a total waste.

I’m REALLY excited about the new couch and desperately hoping the velvet upholstery will stand up to some dog/toddler/future baby love. It is basically dirt colored which should help.We debated quite a bit about whether or not it made more sense to just hold on to our current couch and get something a little nicer down the road, but realistically I don’t think we will ever be $2k couch people. Maybe when we are empty nesters?Basically all the other couches I liked ran in the $1500-$2000 price range which equals 3 World Market couches. Considering how fickle I can be, and how frequently we seem to replace them (3-5yrs) the cheaper option is just much more appealing. The couch should be in next week (fingers crossed) and I can’t wait.

Happy Friday!

-H

ps – It was a totally rainy Halloween around here. Imagine a damp, bedraggled princess with rubber boots on and you’ve got the picture. We did manage to hand out quite a bit of candy (sad face) but there’s enough leftover to keep this preggo lady happy.

Trash to Treasure

We live in a dense urban area where metal scavenging is a serious business. There is an entire cadre of folks who drive through the alleys of our fair city picking up metal garbage to recycle for cash. In some ways it’s kind of awesome – you can always get rid of metal scrap just by tossing it on your curb or in your alley. It will most likely get picked up within 20 minutes. The downside? There is almost never any good metal treasures left out for me to find on my long walks with Lucy. I routinely see scrapping trucks drive by with complete patio sets tumbled in the back that just need a good sanding and some rustoleum. Luckily, a couple of weeks ago, Pete and Lucy and I were biking on a Sunday and happened to find this.

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Clearly, this picnic table had seen better days. The top and bench were totally rotted and the paint was flaking off the metal base. I knew it would be fairly straightforward to add a new top so I begged Pete to drive the truck back to pick it up. I can’t believe it was still there! It was on a Sunday though, so I’m guessing the scrappers were at church. We hauled that bad boy home and took off the top and benches, which basically disintegrated in our hands. It was really easy to just unbolt the pieces from the sturdy metal frame.

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We scrubbed it down with a wire brush and then used a drill with a wire brush attachment to strip as much paint as possible. This thing had years of porch paint on it. We bought some of my favorite paint (Rustoleum high performance enamel) and Pete went to town. We replaced the top and bench seats with cedar and gave the wood a coat of Thompson’s Water Seal.

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I love the bright color and the fresh cedar. This things is solid as a rock. I love that you can fit a ton of kids on the benches and that the cedar is naturally rot resistant.  I was planning to buy an outdoor patio set this year once we made a little progress with the backyard so finding and revamping this beast saved us between 500-1000 bucks. We just need to by an offset patio umbrella (oh and finish landscaping the backyard, build the deck, and replace the fence) but at least we have a place to eat!

Speaking of landscaping, Pete and our contractor Sean are spending memorial day weekend using a bobcat to dig out and level our back yard. You can see in the pictures where we started to do it by hand, by after a couple hours of digging  we realized that we really need to use heavy machinery to deal with the amount of dirt that has to be removed. Our yard is about six inches higher than our neighbor’s yard and slopes toward our house (!!!) So removing the dirt and debris and sloping the yard toward the street should help a lot with drainage. We still haven’t decided whether to plant seed or lay sod, but I’m looking forward to having a green yard instead of a mud pit.

How about you guys? Got big DIY plans for Memorial day weekend?

xx-H

ps. Thanks again for all your thoughtful emails, texts and calls. Pete and I really appreciate all your support.

What I want for spring – high/low edition

So, there’s a blizzard here right now. 4-10 inches in the next 12 hours or so. you know. no biggie. Nothing says meteorological spring like a foot of snow!

honestly guys, WHAT THE FUDGE ITS MARCH 5TH! I really want actual spring, like muddy and 48 degrees with chirping birds and daffodils and rain showers.

So, since it’s much easier to be in fantasy mode than actually acknowledge whats going on outside my window, I thought I’d share a few of my wardrobe notions and recent additions for spring, mmmmkay?

1. The classic striped tee.

High – Kitsune & Petit Bateau Mariniere shirt $125

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Low – Gap Striped Solid Boatneck top  $30.

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2.Pants –

High – J Brand Carey Zip Detail Moto skinny Jeans $242

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Low – Old Navy The Rock Star Zip Pocket Skinny Pants $25 (on sale) These are awesomely comfortable and make me think of this pin.

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3. Shoes

High – JCrew Collection Janey Calf hair flats  $298

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Low – Piperlime Calvin Klein Jeans Bailey Flats $38 (on sale)

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4. Accessories

High – Michael Kors Ostritch Iphone Zip Wallet – $90

(true confessions, I received this as a birthday gift and am totally obsessed with it, it has a phone compartment and can be tossed in the diaper bag or carried alone as a clutch. LOVE IT)

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Low – Target Merona red zip around wallet $15

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Pretty and classic for late winter/ early spring. Add a classic camel coat and warm scarf and you are good to go for colder temps.

I’m gonna go warm up the snowblower now. Some people get pushing diamonds. I requested a snowblower.

xo- H

(pppppssssstttt. can you hear that? It’s the sound of my head banging the wall.)

also – gap/oldnavy/banana republic has a 30% sale right now using code SPRINGAIR.

the end of the week.

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1/Our week started with warm temps and rain so we walked while we could. 2/ Lucy realized that trees can be really big. 3/The bear hat. it kills me. 4/when it got cold we stayed in side and colored. 5/ and watched the snow begin to fall. 6/I got a pair of pretty ikat pillows. I love the way the pattern is slightly mismatched. 7/ I finally had a pair of ankle boots that I picked up for $5 at a thrift store resoled by an angry russian cobbler. He did an excellent job! Now I just need to schedule a date-night with Pk so I have an excuse to wear them.

Have a great weekend!

– If you want some interesting reading for the weekend, this site is amazing (introduced to me by Lucy’s Nana.) Thanks Nana! Also, it looks like I’m not the only one thinking about authenticity in blogging lately.

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

easy splat mat.

Lately Lucinda has been super obsessed with markers after I finally broke down and let her open some we got as a party favor. I thought it would be fun to make a little play mat that we could pull out when she wants to let her creative spirit run messy wild.

IMG_3811I picked up a scrap of pretty oilcloth at my local fabric store – it was just about a yard -for $8. There are tons of Etsy shops devoted to oilcloth products, but this is a really easy project to make yourself.

IMG_3815My assistant helped me bind the edges with some brightly colored duct tape that coordinates with with the colors of the oil cloth. I didn’t even trim the edges. Seriously the easiest diy ever. Just lay half the tape over the edge and fold. I suppose if you wanted to get fancy you could trim it with fabric and sew it on, but that sounds like a lot of work. The purpose of this mat is to be wiped off so I thought the tape would work perfectly. The total cost of this project ( a yard of oilcloth and colored duct tape) was $12 bucks.

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Now my wee artist has a devoted place to make messes that easily wipes clean. It folds up easily (I store it in her play kitchen) and could probably withstand being rinsed off in the sink if I needed to.  I may need to since I got her  a paint set for upcoming SECOND BIRTHDAY (oh my god how is that already happening?) This would be a great gift for a new mom since it could slide right under a highchair. You can find tons of different oilcloth fabrics here. I like the vintage appeal of the pattern – very sweet.

Have a fantastic weekend! We are celebrating Lucy’s birthday on Sunday so I’m going to furiously clean and maybe finish painting the porch today? (harrumph. I hate painting.)

xo- H

DIY gold and antique mirror side table

I’ve always liked the Jules small accent table from Crate&Barrel, but the price has always kept me from buying it (even when I had an employee discount!)

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I stumbled across this little side table for $15 (it may have been $10) at the thrift store and thought I would try diy-ing a version for our house.

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The glass on this piece was cracked so I tossed it before I even left the thrift store. I had a piece of mirror cut by a local glass shop for $25 dollars. I knew I would need to antique the mirror insert and found an excellent tutorial.  I was able to find my table at a thrift store, but you could try the same thing with an inexpensive metal and glass table like this one or this one, from Ikea.

The first step is to strip off the protective paint on the back of the mirror. I thought I could use some environmentally friendly paint stripper we already had on hand, so I slapped it on and left the mirror alone for a few hours to let it work.

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It didn’t work. at all. I left it overnight thinking more time would help, and still no results. So much for my attempt to use more earth friendly methods! I went out and got some aerosol paint stripper (that was recommended in the tutorial) and tried again, but this time I did it outside on an unseasonably warm day. The aerosol stripper is really stinky and you should work outside if you can. Don’t forget gloves and safety glasses.

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I also used a cardboard box to prevent any overspray from getting on the grass.

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Once the paint is peeled off the mirror the silvering that creates the reflective surface is exposed. At this point you use muriatic acid to eat through the silvering and create an antique effect, like these images from the tutorial. You MUST wear protective gloves and safety glasses when working with muriatic acid (and paint stripper) Since I was by myself I couldn’t stop to take pictures at this point.

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I glibly sprayed a little bit on and waited for it to work (the tutorial said it would only take a minute) It seemed to take a little longer because it was a bit cool outside, so I sprayed more on (BIG MISTAKE) I kid you not, at the very moment I sprayed more acid on, Lucy woke up from her nap. I swear to god that child has an internal alert for when I pick up a paintbrush or try to do something messy. I had no choice but to stop and walk way from the project to attend to her which meant that way more of the silvering finish got eaten off than I intended. Once I was able to safely clean up I was left with this.

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Cue the sad trombone music. Not exactly the look I was going for. The darker parts are the clear glass left after the silvering is eaten off by the acid. Fearing that I had totally ruined a $25 piece of glass I ran to my local craft store and found some Krylon Looking Glass spray paint, hoping that it would fill in the areas where I had taken off too much of the reflective finish.I added a quick splatter of flat black spray enamel and a bit of gold, and then coated the back with the Looking Glass paint.

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I gave the base a couple of quick coats of hammered gold spray paint, let everything cure for a few days and, voila!

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It’s no Jules accent table, but it’s still pretty fun. It adds a little sparkle to our living room and beautifully reflects the light from the Christmas tree. It’s still a little bit more antiqued than I would have like; I was hoping for a more subtle affect, but I’m ok with how it turned out. I probably should have practiced on a few pieces before I committed to the tabletop, but I’m kind of impatient (and clearly over confident with chemicals!) Now that I know what mistakes to avoid I’d be willing to try antiquing a mirror again, especially since I now have all the supplies on hand.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. I’m going to this tomorrow and am super excited about it!

-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

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