Monday, February 28, 2011

Singin' the Blues

To say that I am pleased with the way these two rooms turned out would be a vast understatement. I still find myself sitting around staring at the walls, giddy with excitement. I haven't spent a single dime on anything frivolous for myself or the girls since the first of the year and it's all because I keep thinking of things I want to add here and I'm saving my pennies for a few finishing touches. The "after" is such a dramatic change that Ella comments regularly on the fact that we "live in a different house" and everyone who stops by can't believe its transformation. It is so BRIGHT in here now and I can actually take photographs without a flash. I feel like we've been living in a dungeon for the last six years and we've finally been let out!

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This is the view when you come in the front door, looking back into the dining room. Before that room was barely discernable from this vantage point and now look at it.

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The couch and woven ottomans are still in the same place, but they look so different against the new wall color. Before, the furniture looked almost purple, but now it is a much browner burgandy. Does that even make sense?

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I'm using two of the four prints that hung on this wall, they were both intaglio prints created by fellow art students my junior year of college and my grandmother had them custom framed for me as a wedding gift. I love these lamps and barrel shades I got at Pier One and I paired them with a few stacks of red books on the console table.

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Speaking of the console table... Josh mounted two iron brackets on the wall and I love it! Not only are they high enough that the lamps are finally in the right place, but we can store a few things behind the couch to keep the room looking less cluttered. We have a basket of floor cushions and a big basket of quilts and blankets. These items are still accessible, but they aren't sitting in the middle of the floor. The built-in bookcase got a face lift, too, with a fresh coat of creamy paint and some new accessories. I absolutely LOVE how the books look all stacked in here together. I was originally going to paint that orange frame another color, maybe gold, but I actually like how it looks paired with the colorful books. That little basket on the bottom shelf holds extra coasters and our remote controls. I'd really like to find a nice vase or bowl to put there instead, but it's working for the time being.

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This wall is probably the biggest transformation of all. Before the piece of furniture on this wall was so large that it made our television look tiny and really made the room in general appear much smaller. We swapped the bookcases for our buffet and gave it a makeover of its own. Josh suggested removing one of the drawers to hold our satellite box and DVD player and I love how uncluttered it makes the top of the cabinet. I was completely inspired by the collage wall in this post and decided to hang artwork around the television to make it look less utilitarian. I'd like to continue adding pieces to this wall and maybe the wall to the left, but this was a good start.

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We painted this piece of furniture a similar color to what is on the wall, but the walls were the lightest color on the fandeck and the furniture color was the darkest. It's hard to tell in the photographs, but there is a subtle difference and the semi-gloss finish on the furniture really makes it stand out. I picked out blue and white chinoiserie pulls for the doors and brass bin pulls on the drawers. I think the total for the hardware was under $9. I love how this piece is footed and I tried several treatments for the space underneath before settling on the skirt. I hated being able to see the plug and baseboards underneath and I couldn't make baskets or floor pillows look good either. Instead I cut a piece of burlap 12 inches wide and stared pinching and stapling directly to the bottom of the dresser. I really like the contrast and texture and now I can put a few baskets of movies, extra cords and cables underneath.

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Below we have the front two corners of the room -- these areas flank the front door. On the left I swapped out some artwork and moved a chest from our bedroom. It used to have a mirror on top of it, but we removed it and put it in our bedroom to make this piece of furniture look less like a dresser. It is also the perfect width to hold wrapping paper, so I finally have an organized wrapping station right in my living room. I still need to buy a plant to put in the green planter, but I'm waiting until a little later in the spring season. I think I want to buy a small fiddle leaf fig tree and TRY to keep it alive. The corner to the right houses our leather chair and a small pine box table I bought in college. I still want to find a round, convex mirror {but not a $500 one!} to hang on this wall and change out the curtains. I'm thinking I'll mount woven shades on these windows {and the glass front door} and then make curtain panels out of bold blue ikat fabric.

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I'm really challenging myself to fill my frames and walls with more original artwork and quirky pieces to give the room a young, fun vibe. I ordered this print from etsy for myself for Valentine's Day. I thought the tandem bike in this poppy color would look great on our blue walls and I had it personalized with our names and wedding date. If that isn't quirky, I don't know what is.

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I guess it's time to take a walk into the dining room. The two hanging lanterns in the archway were an early purchase in our marriage. They hung in our first house and have been hanging here since right after we moved in. I had to laugh because I washed the votive cups in the dishwasher the weekend we painted and I'm guessing it was their first bath ever. It was not a pretty sight! I love how they look in contrast to the blue walls and the little wicker chair adds some much-needed seating without taking up too much room.

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You've already seen my little blogging corner, but I've added a few accessories and gotten a little more organized since the last time you were here. I'd still like to find an office chair to put here that will be more functional and maybe on wheels. There is room for the upholstered chair somewhere else in the room. Putting the bookcases on this back wall really turned out to be a huge success. I'm storing unused decorative accessories in the big boxes on top and I'm using the smaller boxes and bins to store all of our craft supplies within easy reach of the dining room table. We saved the lowest two shelves for Sophie and stocked it full of blocks, books and toys since we knew she'd be emptying these shelves on a regular basis anyway.

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This is what the rest of the bookcase wall looks like... vacant. This door goes into our kitchen and I'm hoping to convice Josh to swap it out with a glass one to help with the natural lighting in this room. The rest of this corner is still up in the air, but I'm considering ordering one of these hanging bookcases for the right-hand wall and moving the upholstered chair here once it is replaced as a desk chair.

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Here is where our dining room furniture wound up. It fits so much better on this wall and allowed enough room to add the leaf and a fifth chair. I plan to repaint all of the chairs with navy high-gloss paint in the next few weeks. I'm hoping it will still give us the dark, grounding color we need while coordinating a little better with the room as a whole. I also hope it will help the orphaned chair fit in a little better until I track down another windsor backed chair. The table got a coat of the same blue paint as the buffet and I love how it looks. My plan for the walls is a poster-sized family portrait on canvas for the small wall and twelve white frames on the larger wall. I think I'll mix in some black and white photographs of the girls with some of their artwork and rotate the pieces as they bring new creations home.

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Here we are looking back towards the front door -- where we'll finish our tour. I am so beyond thrilled with how the rooms work together and how completely different everything looks. I got rid of so many things that didn't need to be here and the whole things feels so much lighter, brighter and less cluttered. I'm trying to be more deliberate about my purchases instead of finding a home for every little thing I've accumulated in the last thirty years!

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Ummm... how did that sippy cup sneak in my picture?!?!
Well, what do you think? I would still like to paint all of the bedroom doors to match the trim, replace the curtains and add shades, change out the switchplate covers to cream ones and purchase some new frames and throw pillows. I'm so glad to be 95% finished though and feel like I can relax in my own home again. It was starting to look a bit like an episode of Hoarders around here!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Progress & Some Inspiration

I had secretly been dreaming of painting our living area a soft blue color, but couldn't imagine what it might look like. I knew we had to keep our rugs since they were fairly new and a bit of an investment. I wasn't sure how to make soft blue work with all of our natural woods and the yellow and orange in the rooms already. Then I saw this picture in Better Homes & Gardens and just knew it would work. The way the natural wood looks with those walls and the patterned rug. Oh and the curtains! I am in love with the bold blue curtains and cannot wait to replicate that look on a budget for my own room. Now I was convinced, but I just knew Josh was going to die when I mentioned painting the rooms. He didn't even bat an eyelash -- he agreed that after six years in this house we needed an update. Whew, I was worried for nothing.

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via Amy Meier Design

Armed with some inspiration, a couple hundred bucks and a weekend's worth of babysitters, we decided to spend Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend giving our house a little face lift. Did I mention satellite radio and lots of good barbeque was involved? Let's just say we stuffed ourselves silly and did quite a bit of dancing around here.

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First, we filled cracks in our concrete walls. They are concrete block {we think} coated with a layer of concrete plaster. I have always loved the subtle texture, but drilling holes for artwork is quite an ordeal. Because they are a bit brittle, they do crack from time to time. No big deal structurally, but every few years we get to fill and paint.

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We moved all of the furniture into the living room while we worked in the dining room on Saturday and then did the complete opposite on Sunday to work in the living room. When we had only one room finished, Josh started getting nervous about the color. It did read very "baby blue" when contrasted with the orange on the other walls, but I convinced him to stick with it and see what we thought after everything was finished. He was worried we would be watching television in a little boy's nursery by the end of the weekend.

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The bookcases moved into the dining room because this wall doesn't have a plug and we needed something tall that didn't require a lamp or any accent lighting. I repainted the whole thing the same color as before just to freshen it up a bit. Our original plan was to remove the back and replace it with beadboard until we realized that the construction of the cabinet wouldn't allow for that. Instead, I used my trusty hot glue gun to attach burlap to the back of the cabinet and cover the television hole from before.

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We had to find wherever we could to sit down for breakfast Monday morning! The girls were home with us and this big girl was a huge help. Not only did she pitch in and vacuum up the dust in the living room, but she helped to paint some of the furniture once we settled on a color. Sophie on the other hand, was into everything and got banished to the pack & play for most of the day. Even Beemer was a pretty big help, until she gave herself a paint-tray facial half way through the weekend. That's what happens when you drop a goldfish cracker into the paint. She'll go after it no matter the cost.

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Tune in tomorrow morning for what the rooms look like now. It isn't what I'd call finished, but we are definitely in the home stretch.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Befores

Does anybody know how long I've been saying that I would share our living and dining room makeovers? It's been exactly 6 weeks since we emptied the rooms and gave them a face lift and I've finally taken pictures of the "afters" this morning. I wanted this to be one of those projects that was complete inside a month, but I quickly realized how silly that was! We are pretty close to being finished, but I have a few more things to pick up and make and the new goal is to have everything done by Sophie's birthday party on April 16th!

The photographs below were taken in May of 2009 right after we bought new rugs for the rooms. A few pieces of furniture had been moved since then and I'm sure we bought some accessories, but in general, this is what the rooms looked liked just six weeks ago.

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This is the longest wall in our living room and the only one our couch fits on. I would love to have a more modern silhouette -- maybe even a small sectional -- but not only does the layout of this room not work for that, the leather couch and chair are beyond practical for our busy family. Maybe in my next life I can have white sectionals!

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The photograph on the left shows my favorite piece of furniture which we had used as an entertainment center since shortly after we got married almost nine years ago. It has been great in this spot, but we were ready for a change. The photograph on the right shows the living room looking through the archway from the dining room. You can see our glass front door from here. The entertainment piece is on the left and the wall with the couch is on your right. Just for a point of reference, our bedroom is through the door to right of the entertainment center and Ella's bedroom is directly across the living room from ours.

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Here is the front corner of our living room -- between our bedroom door and the front door. The second picture just shows how we suspended a piece of glass over two file cabinets to double as a console table. Sophisticated, right? We needed the storage and it was a great place for Ella to store craft supplies and play with magnets since the kitchen is so far away.

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Here is a shot of the computer area and the back corner of our dining room. These areas probably saw the most changes of any other walls in the rooms.

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Last up is the piece of furniture we refer to as the "buffet". In reality, it was Josh's childhood dresser that was in BAD need of a refinish job when we got married. We painted it high-gloss black and replaced the hardware. It worked well with the dining table and chairs that were also painted black. You need to pay close attention to this piece of furniture!!

Some things to note...
  1. The trim in these two rooms, as well as the doors, were dark brown to match the floors. We didn't make this selection, but opted not to paint it when we bought the house six years ago. The trim work in the bedrooms has been updated as we decorated those rooms, but these were the last two rooms to go.
  2. Although the walls look peach in these photographs, it was more of a pumpkin color. Not only have I gotten better at taking pictures in the last two years, but the lighting in these rooms is beyond tricky. Our dining room is in the very center of the house and has no windows. The only natural light in this area comes from the front door and windows. I am considering replacing the kitchen door with a glass one so that the windows in the kitchen will help brighten the space as well. We can add that to next year's list!
  3. Do you see how dark it is, in general? I was over that. Beyond over it, really. I was craving natural light and a brighter, lighter, more modern space altogether.
There you have it. The befores. The sad, dark, depressing befores. I promise to show you the really pretty afters on Monday. Have a great weekend.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Oui Oui

    My little bit has a slight love affair with this plastic crinkle cut french fry. It hangs off of her lip like a cigar quite regularly. In fact, two mornings this week I've gone into her room to wake her up and found her sucking on it?! I have no idea how she managed to get to bed with it twice without me knowing it. If her lovey is a plastic french fry, I might cry.

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    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Little Princess Paperie

    I have always loved to make things, whether with my mind, my hands or on the computer. As an art student in college {lithography and art history -- what did I think I was going to do with that upon graduation?} I took a few graphic design classes and loved the process, but knew that I would never survive in a design firm professionally. I continued working and became less and less happy with the tiny amount of time I was spending in creative endeavors. Fast forward four years. I was having a beautiful baby girl, surviving on love and a few weeks paid maternity leave and just couldn't justify spending a lot of cash on Ella's birth announcements. I began playing around in my design programs from college trying to figure them out all over again and subsequently stumbled upon an on-line digital print shop. The rest is history.

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    I started out just making things for friends and family, tweaking my blog design here and there and before I knew it my design aesthetic had completely changed. I decided when I was pregnant for the second time to really begin pursuing my love of graphic design on my own terms. Since then, I've designed many invitations, announcements and holiday cards and opened a shop on-line to share my designs with others. While most of my work is generated through my blog and locally, I did sell some things through my etsy shop over the holidays and hope to spend some real time this year stocking it up and marketing my designs in a more deliberate way.
     
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    The designs below are some of my favorites created over the last few months, but you can always see what I'm up to by clicking on the DESIGN button in the menu at the top of the page {you can click FAMILY to wind up over here again}. The SHOP page will take you directly to my etsy shop {although it could be empty depending on if I've had time to add new listings!}. Most of my work is custom and created as I have requests for specific designs. I use no clip art or "borrowed" images and all of the design elements and layouts are my own. Each of the cards you see here and on the DESIGN page, can be customized to meet your needs. The fonts, design elements, orientation and image placement can be changed with just a few mouse-moves and you are well on your way to the design of your dreams.
     
    charlie_1_front charlie_1_back
    {charlie guy oatridge, front & back}

    henry2_front henry2_back
    {john henry henson, front & back}

    I use a professional print service and all of my cards are printed using a digital press and are printed on beautiful 100# stock in a number of paper finishes. Card corners can be rounded for a few more dollars and all designs come with complimentary white envelopes. In addition to announcements and invitations, I design holiday cards, thank you notes, personal stationery and calling cards. Need more information on my prices and the process? Click on over to the DESIGN page and use the sidebar buttons to navigate my PRICES and POLICIES pages. Still have questions? The CONTACT button will let you send a quick email and I'll try to answer any other questions you have.

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    {matthews holiday card, front & back}

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    {hendricks holiday card, front & back}

    Thanks so much for visiting today. 
    I hope you'll click here to see what other mommies are making these days!
    all photographs in these digital designs courtesy of KW Photography

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    This past weekend we had another alumni bash, only this time it was a baseball game. Former varsity baseball players were invited back to play a fundraiser game for this year's team. You know what that means... our bestie was back in town and these two were up to no good. I've known for several weeks that this trophy would be making an appearance, but that didn't make it any easier to see it in my living room. This was their Fantasy Football League trophy that will be passed around year to year. We've had major discussions about where it can reside and all I will say is I think I've convinced SD that it cannot sit on the console by the television! Either way, Chris insisted that we have a little impromptu photoshoot and the photos MUST make the blog. So... here you go, CG.

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    On Saturday morning, we got up bright and early to cheer on the yellow jackets of years past. I think our oldest player graduated in 1961! It was so fun to see them all back on the field... it made me feel like I was in high school again. I spent a LOT of time next to the baseball field my junior year watching Josh play and my senior year watching Chris play. I was very disappointed to hear there would be no baseball pants this time... I think it's been established that it was those baseball pants that sealed the deal fourteen years ago.

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    These girls were so good and had a great time cheering on their sweet daddy. The weather was gorgeous and we ended up in the high seventies by the second game. We were all decked out in our black and gold, but Ella was shedding leggings not long after lunch.

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    I thought I could convince Soph to spend the day in her stroller, but she must have been laughing inside. She might have lasted in the stroller an hour out of the five or so hours we were outside. Luckily, the field is near our neighborhood, so we loaded up our gear and strolled across the street.

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    How cute is this player and his girls? I cracked up at the glove on the head all day, but he had to prevent the sunburn somehow. Can you believe we were having to apply sunscreen in February?!

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    Do y'all see that bunny? That is THE bunny! The one that has been lost since early December. The one I thought was lost forever. The bunny we cried over and called every store and restaurant in the tri-state area to find. Do you know where it was? IN.MY.CAR. It was in a tiny little pocket on the back of the stroller and we found it when we were getting ready for the game on Saturday morning. There might have been tears of joy falling in our driveway and Ella may or may not have held her all weekend long. The pretty bunny has been moved back to the shelf in case of emergency and we are all breathing a little easier around here.

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    I didn't even think to put shoes on Sophie since I planned on having her in the stroller, but she really wanted to stand at the fence with the big girls. She likes hanging on to the fence, but she wasn't so sure about the dirt between her toes. This cute photo op did not last long at all.

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    The boys split the games and each team won one. They were good sports, but boy were they limping by the time the afternoon was over. We all piled into the high school lunch room for a big barbeque dinner and stuffed ourselves silly. Can I just tell you that it was beyond weird to eat there after thirteen years! I was talking too loud and Chris was yelling at me for talking too loud and Josh was laughing at us both. It was a serious flashback moment.