Friday, November 4, 2011

Back in the swing of things

It's been quite a while since my last post! I've been under the weather for a while, so I haven't been keeping up with projects like I normally would. We've done a lot in the last month though, so I will try to get it all posted soon.

Clockwise from top left: deer head, chandelier unknown, mirror banner, table unknown,
damask fabric, rug, dresser, lamp unknown, pillow, steel chair, placemat, dishes, napkin,
wood chair unknown, candleholders (old Bed Bath and Beyond)
I know the "guideline" about using warm colors in your dining spaces so food appears more appetizing, blah blah blah...I'm going to respectfully decline to participate in that one. I'm just going to do what I want to do. As usual.

I want to bridge the decor from the living room to the dining room by using similar colors, but taking them in a little bit different direction since the rooms are connected. The dining room is smaller, so I think the palette can be taken up a few notches on the boldness scale. For starters, I want to use that deep turquoise from the new lampshades as the color on the (top half of the) walls. Since there is a chair rail in the room, the bottom half is going to be painted white and will help tone down the intensity. I'm a little nervous about the room feeling like it's under water, so I think the key is making sure the color has enough yellow in it to negate some of the blue.

A few years ago B and I went to our first auction...and walked away with our dining room table. The auction was lots of fun, and even better we got a great deal on a unique piece. The table is an old lab table from a local college, and when we got it it was complete with carvings (still there) and gum (I scraped it all off...not fun). Its solid oak and absolutely awesome. It took many many hours of sanding and refinishing to get it back to its former glory, but its a piece we are going to have for years and nowhere could we buy the same amount of character.

Right now we have four oak chairs from my in-laws. They have great lines and work well with our aesthetic, and coincidentally enough they're also vintage university, or so says the little metal tags on the underside. We do occasionally have a need for more seating, so to counterbalance all the wood I want to bring in four metal chairs on the long sides of the tables and use a wood chair on either short end. The metal will tie in with the metal table lamp in the adjoining room. Woot!

I do have to say the Ikea rug looks way better in person...its not so contrasty and the texture is smaller scale so it doesn't compete with the black and white chevron rug in the living room. Aaand, its marled coloring would help to camouflage crumbs and dirt between vacuumings. I mean, I totally vacuum everyday but just in case.

Since there is a lot of contrast and bright colors going on in this room, I'd like to make some roman shades in a low contrast grey damask fabric. It helps to bring some sophistication to the room. And when the sun goes down, we've got a could-be-great chandelier already in the room. With a good cleaning, a rewire, a repair and some spray paint, it's going to look good as new—or at least I hope it will. I'm going back and forth between a bold color like a red or yellow or just a matte white. We'll have to see once the walls are painted what we're feeling at the time, and the great thing about spray paint is it can be easily changed.

The rest of the accessories I'd like to bring into the room are casual and fun, but I'd like to think somewhat sophisticated. The table linens can tie in the red from the accents in the living room, and using yellow pillows on some of the chairs ties into the yellow in the living room curtains, making the two rooms feel more like one big cohesive room. I love the playfulness of the mirror bunting, but I also love the functionality...putting it on the wall across from the window would help to bounce some extra light into the room (remember our deep overhangs?). And to offset all of the industrial, I'd like to use an ornate vintage credenza of some sort. Probably painted a sophisticated white (what B wants), but I might fight for something funkier like yellow. We'll see who wins ;)

Just like the rest of the house we want the dining room to be eclectic and bright and feel collected over time. We want a good mix of old and new, ornate and modern. We want it to feel fun and welcoming and be a place that people want to sit and talk and eat and have a good time. Right now we have a totally blank slate in there, so I hope to start cracking open some paint cans in the next couple of weeks and get this thing rolling!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I love lamp

Such an obvious post title, but I had to do it. Ten points for you if you can name the movie.

We needed new lighting for the new family room, so a pair of lights was in order since we don't have any overheads. I wanted something with some color, like in my inspiration board. Since I am a total cheap-o through and through, I just cannot bring myself to pay full price for anything. But shopping at discount stores and in clearance sections means you usually have to visit a few times before you find what you're looking for...if you find it at all. Sometimes I just go with the flow, and even if I had a "vision" for something else in my head, I'll edit it to fit my new really cool find. And really, it usually ends up being even better than what I wanted in the first place. Cue the lamps!

Cute, no? One week while on our way to the close-proximity grocery store, B and I stopped into HomeGoods, which if you live under a rock is the home-centric version of TJ Maxx. I guess you could call me a Maxxinista, haha. We saw these bad boys (or girls?) in the lighting section, and they immediately caught our eyes. 

They kind of have a faceted jewel-like thing going on, which I lurve. And which happens to be kind of popular right now. I just saw a similar lamp at West Elm for $199. Ouch. The shades are turquoise with silver insides, and the white bases have a clear lucite plastic bottom. I wasn't crazy about the clear lucite plastic bases (and finials) at first, but they're growing on me. B probably still hates them. 

One thing I've found since purchasing our no-overhead-lighting house is that lamps are so. expensive. Or maybe I'm just used to estate sale prices. TJ Maxx usually has some great prices on their merch, but I still felt most pieces in the lighting department were a little pricey. If you can't tell from the photo, those lamps were originally $70 each. Each! I would never have paid that, and even at 50% off I was a little hesitant. In real life they feel just a little small to light the entire room on their we left the lamps to live at HomeGoods for another week while we contemplated. 

It sounds silly, but I couldn't get my mind off those lamps! I stopped at a few other stores to compare the wares, and I just kept going back to those lamps. I originally wanted to paint the bases and go with white shades, but for now these are staying just how they are. You can kind of tell in the photo above, but the bottom of the shade was starting to come apart on the inside. I tried to get a little discount, but the girl at the register wasn't having it. She said they don't give a discount when the damage came to them that way. Umm, did you personally unpack the box and see the shade like that? I bet you didn't you liar!! I didn't fight back because I knew it was a battle I wasn't going to win. I was pleasantly surprised when B pointed out how the faceted shapes of the lamp base mimic the chevron pattern of the rug. I mean, I know he's a designer too but he's also a dude. And he was right, which made me love the lamps even more.

To remedy the lamps feeling slightly too small, I stacked some books underneath them to give them a little more height on the back of the sofa table. Helps distribute the light a little more and brings some more color into the room. Win win!

Two weeks later do you think I've cut the tags off yet? 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Black and white and pretty all over

Our new rug is here! I'm a few weeks late on this, but our rug for the living room arrived and I couldn't be more excited about it! I comparison shopped the rug around at multiple different sites, and was by far the best price. And with free shipping to boot!

It's pretty loud and bold, but I think it really anchors the room. Even though it's high contrast, it still acts as a neutral for the rest of the bright colors I have planned.

We debated over the sizes quite a bit, going between the 5x7 and the 8x10. There was a pretty big price difference between the two. To better help us visualize the sizes, we taped off both rugs on the floor (just the corners) to get an idea of how they would fit in the room. Ultimately we ended up with the smaller, and I'm glad we did. The larger one would just be too large for the setup we have going on.

The rug is definitely pretty thin and not the greatest quality, but for the price I knew what we were getting into. And since it was relatively cheap, it won't be the end of the world if something gets spilled on it or we decide we don't like chevrons anymore. I'm planning on getting a rug pad for it to make it feel a little more plush and slow the wear on the backing, but it suits us perfectly for now just as it is! 

Note: RugsUSA did not sponsor this post...I just really like my rug!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So many swatches, so little time

I was just itching to get the living-turned-family room painted, so a couple weeks ago I canvased every paint store in the area to pick up the best specimens of light aqua they carry. Is it just me, or do you feel like you're stealing when you walk out with a fistful of swatches too?

Pardon the lighting, but the first two photos are all of the swatches taped up to the walls. We knew some immediately were out, but others it took us a while.

We hemmed and hawed over them for a couple days, and narrowed our choices down to four.

They all look the same in the above photo, but trust me when I say they were very different. Thank goodness for the little sample cans...those colors can look so different from what they look like on a tiny little swatch! The two colors on the ends were too neon, so it was really between the two in the middle. Which were pretty drastically different. In the end we went with (drumroll...) the second from the left, called Mint Whisper by Valspar. It's light but not too light, and not too green or too blue. And not too neon.

After an entire long weekend (thanks, Labor Day!) we had the primer and two coats of Mint Whisper on the walls. As soon as I tidy up the room enough I'll get full shots with the new color AND the other new additions to the room.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A warm welcome

Before we moved in our front porch was a pretty underutilized space. There was a lonely faux fern in a styrofoam container, and nothing else. Tasteful! 

What's made the biggest difference so far has been removing the shutter next to the door. Why anyone would cover a window in an already dark house is beyond me, but I don't understand a lot of the things that we going on in this house before we got here. It opens up the foyer a ton and has a nice retro look to it.



We polished the kick plate on the door (which is going to stay brass for now until the door gets painted), added a new rug, a wreath I made, and a plant stand my dad made out of a branch from our backyard. For now our patio set has a home here until the sun porch is done being our painting room.

We've got other plans for the front porch and front of the house including:

- painting the front door bright red
- refinishing the door hardware from brass to brushed nickel
- painting all the trim
- painting the brown wood panelling
- putting together the bench we purchased
- putting a cushion/pillows on the bench
- planting the big white pots we bought with herbs and flowers
- installing and planting hanging baskets
- buying and installing new lighting

That should be enough to keep us busy for a while!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Living room inspiration

In theory, I like to build a room over time and add pieces as I find them. But I'm also impatient, and that trumps building the room over the course of a year. The living-room-turned-family-room (the room with the marble fireplace) needs all new furniture. The old brown couch and chair are getting moved to the "new" living room...where furniture goes to die. While they've seen better days, they really aren't too bad and I have to give my 23 year old self some credit for picking them out. However, the look we're going for in the family room—and the rest of the house—is bright, colorful, and eclectic. We're battling enormously deep soffits and gargantuan trees, so we need to lighten things up in order to keep the house from feeling dungeon-like.

I created the inspiration board to help the design process along. Don't judge my Photoshopping skills! Passible for a "regular" person but subpar for a designer. Chalk it up to hurrying through that part of it. It's helpful to remember this board when I'm out looking for pieces so that everything we get really fits in the room. The main anchor pieces are going to be the white sectional couch from Ikea and the black and white chevron rug from RugsUSA.

The pieces in my board aren't exact, but they give the overall direction of the room. We already have the vintage stereo console and we're using it as the TV stand. The record player doesn't work, so we're going to rip it out and retrofit ours into its place. The inside center portion, which now houses bar storage (hello gold paint!), is going to get a makeover in the form of shelves for the electronic equipment and a fun patterned paper. I like an element of surprise.

Depending on the configuration of the couches, we may end up using a long narrow coffee table and two end tables we purchased for $5 from the previous owner of the house. The are mid century and fabulous. We also need some sort of console for behind one of the couches to hold some bright funky lamps. I'm not holding my breath on the arc lamp, but I would die a happy woman if I found one for a reasonable price. I also just learned the term "swag lamp" a few weeks ago. In a house with no overhead lighting like ours, we're gonna need some of those. I got a good start on finding some vintage ones, but more on that another day.

The walls are going to get painted a light turquoise color, and the fireplace is going to get an overhaul. We're thinking small square glass tiles to replace the marble, a new mantle, and built-in bookcases flanking both sides. The metallic Moroccan pouf is going to be a DIY project, and the curtains, pillows and artwork are going to add some punches of bright color.

I'd love to bring in some reupholstered Bergere chairs (like the ones that slipped away from me) to offset the clean lines of the couches, but those might have to wait. I've been trolling Craigslist for some, so they're mine when they pop up! Is it too much to ask for someone to list a pair of excellent condition chairs at an extremely cheap price and sell them to no one but me? Didn't think so.

Since the dining room is connected to the living room with a pretty wide open doorway, the rooms need to coordinate. I'm thinking a bolder color on the walls (since the bottom half will be white under the chair rail) but still in the same family as the turquoise. I'm working out that inspiration board now to see how it plays out. Aaaand then the dining room is connected to the kitchen so it needs to coordinate with that, and you can see the half bath from the kitchen so that needs to tie in as well. I want them to work together, but also not look like they are one big room. Cripes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What a difference 28 days makes

The next few posts are going to be picture-heavy to get you up to speed on the renovations we've been toiling away on for the last month. While every room is in the midst of a huge overhaul, the rooms with the most noticeable changes are the living room, guest room, and the master bedroom, all of which are pictured with their befores (as in with the old owner's furniture) and afters. They're all still works in progress, but you can see where they are heading. Enjoy!

Before (notice the orange carpet)
Those blue chairs will always be The Ones That Got Away for me. I tried to negotiate them into the sale of the house, but for whatever reason they didn't make their way into our possession. Sigh.

During carpet removal. Thank goodness the floors turned out to be immaculate.
I can't show you what it looks like right now because it's ridiculously messy. Think 28 days of opened mail, boxes, and paint swatches ev. er. ry. where. In due time.

Awesome floors hidden under all that pink carpet!
Closet doors came off temporarily to paint. 
Red closets! My favorite :) Still putting the closet back together.
Don't mind all the random stuff everywhere.
In our bedroom we removed the wallpaper and chair rails and painted the walls a soft cool gray (Cosmic Dust by Valspar [I think!] matched to Olympic No VOC).

After carpet removal
Choosing paint colors. We ended up going with something totally different...
This is the most accurate photo of the turquoise blue color (called Beach House by Waverly).
Still without closet doors.
Need to hang art/DIY a headboard and find an extension cord for that lamp...

This may change eventually, but this is one of my favorite spots in the house right now.
 More to come later!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On the move

In a Great House Search of 2011 update, the seller agreed to a pretty nice price reduction after the inspection! Though we would have taken the deal previously, we were a little concerned about seeing a return on our investment since the house needs so. much. work.

This last month has been a roller coaster. And not to be a Debbie Downer, but it's been mostly downhill. But! We're on the move! I made the paper chain to count down the days until we get out of our apartment, a.k.a. The Worst Place to Live Ever. We happily rip one link off every day in anticipation. I took the photo quite some time ago, so we're down to one lonely but ecstatic ring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Third Time's a Charm?

Okay, wow. House #2 turned out to be falling down, quite literally. And we just weren't sure it could be salvaged, for any we walked away. It was totally heartbreaking. I wish we didn't have to spend $300 on a professional inspection, but that was $300 well spent considering we could have had tens of thousands of dollars in repairs to even make the house livable. But we moved on to greener pastures...

House #3! We have an accepted offer, and we had our inspection yesterday. The report wasn't super great, but for the right price we should be able to see a return on our investment. We're following the classic real estate rule of purchasing the worst house in a good neighborhood. And realistically, this neighborhood is more upscale than the previous two houses (which were on the same street).

Check out some interior shots in all of their old person glory (and it smells like it looks like it smells):

Front door and porch


Kitchen (and half bath through the doorway)

Dining room

Living room

Family Room

Sun porch with ghostly apparitions

Full bath #1

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2

Master Bedroom

Master Bathroom

We've got a looong to-do list and certainly have our work cut out for us, but at least it will be our very own!

Monday, May 2, 2011

House Hunting Continues

I figured it was about time to update on the Great House Search of 2011. We ended up choosing...(look at each other and giggle)...House #2!

But don't get too excited for us, because we got outbid on it at the eleventh hour. It was disappointing, and dare I say a little heartbreaking (cue the violins). We took it in stride and moved on to...

House #1! This house has been a bit of a unique situation for everyone involved. It's what you would call a "distressed property", which means the homeowners have a financial situation that required the bank to step in. So many properties are falling under that category these days, but since it's a relatively new crisis for the real estate market, every bank handles them differently. Sooo, that means this has been quite the learning experience for everyone involved. You would think that because this house has been on the market and vacant for a year and a half, when a qualified buyer comes along the bank couldn't get rid of it fast enough, right? Wrong! Or kind of wrong at least. They'd love to unload that house from their books, but they've got a stack of 387,998 on their desk in exactly the same situation. Ick for us!

However, we've had a bit of a unique situation. An agent for the bank (not WITH the bank) in some capacity purchased up all of their distressed listings and works to sell them on the bank's behalf. They knew what the bank wanted to get for the house, and they negotiated through their Realtor with us on a price. This probably made the whole process go a lot faster had they not had the third party agent.

At this point we thought we were all well and good. But life can never be that easy, right? The homeowner—who we weren't even aware was still involved at this point—couldn't hold out any longer to file for bankruptcy. Which then pulled the house off the market until a judgement could be made on her assets. Which could take 60-90 days. Which made us want to rip our hair out slash gouge our eyes out. But fast forward to a mere 30 days after hearing this news, and the bankruptcy was settled! Had to be some sort of record I think. The bank, whom we think is now in full control of the property, accepted our offer!

We have a quick 5 days to complete our inspections and get this show on the road. B's parents are coming up this week to give us an architect's expert eye, and we might just have a contractor tagging along as well. This house is in less-than-pristine condition, and has its share of problems...from what we can tell. We're no experts, so we'll just have to wait and see. We've got to decide how much is too much to invest in repairs and hope the magic number is below that. I really want this house! I've been mentally redecorating for months now, and I'd like the ideas to get out of my dreams and into my car house. I can really picture us living in this house, so I just want it to happen already!

So there you have it, folks. Keep your inspection fingers crossed for us this Thursday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Estate sales are my new BFF

A couple weeks ago I headed out bright and early (for me) to an estate sale 45 minutes from our house. Turns out the only things I can be on time for involve the promise of cheap junk—maybe I should have had my old boss dangle vintage costume jewelry in front of me. There was quite a crowd of geriatrics getting rowdy at the front door when I got there, so I joined the herd. They only let so many people in at a time, so I provided the entertainment for those of us stuck out in the cold. For. 30. minutes. Ick! I don't think the nursing home escapees quite knew what to make of me, especially when I started making barfing sounds when I found some nail clippers in a drawer of a dresser. Won't be buying those, thankyouverymuch.

I finally got in the door and wished my new peeps still outside good luck. I'm pretty sure they filmed an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive right before I got there. Since I had a dream the night before about not getting any of the stuff I wanted, I beelined it for this: antique store cabinet. Don't love the drawer pulls, but I've been fantasizing about new ones. Maybe these or these or these. Or all mixed and matched! It cost a pretty penny, so I put in a bid and waited to see if I got a phone call. Immediately I started to have some remorse about the price I offered, so when the seller called I said no thanks. But with a heavy heart...I guess the cabinet and I were not meant to be. But I must find another one—the quest is on!

After the 28 drawer debacle, I focused my attention elsewhere. There were beautiful antique books, funky vintage sheets (which I can barely bring myself to touch, let alone purchase and use for a project), fun costume jewelry, and old sewing patterns. What really caught my eye though were the vintage Christmas ornaments. I've been a casual browser for a while, and decided it was time to take the plunge. I left with this stash to start my collection:

Along with a random cast iron star that I thought would look cool hanging with a picture grouping on a wall. All for $20! Hopefully I didn't get ripped off too badly. The ornaments need cleaned up something awful, but once I weed out the broken ones and polish them up they should be shiny brite again (get it?). Now I just need to find myself a vintage silver tinsel tree to hang them on.