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Our House

Living Room Updates

April 9, 2017

If there’s one room in the house that has seen the most number of changes throughout the years it’s our living room. Between rugs, furniture, the TV moving, decor…the living room has been ever-evolving. It’s taken me a while to really nail down my style, but I think I’ve finally figured it out. It’s modern, but with a touch of traditional and a touch of industrial.

This is what the space looked like when we moved in…

Eventually I painted the fireplace white and the walls a cool gray with two of the walls a blue. Part of me still loves the blue but part of me wants to explore something else. We went through a couple different rugs, got some tables and eventually the living room came to look like this for the next couple of years.

The tan couch was mine from college that I had bought used from Craigslist. It was a great couch that served its purpose for several years, but it needed to be replaced. I wanted to find a new sleeper sofa that was more modern with clean lines without spending a fortune. I came across Joybird and instantly fell in love with a couple of their styles. However, the prices were more than I was willing to spend at the time. I continued to search for a YEAR for the perfect couch but just kept going back to those Joybird options. I waited for the next sale (they often have 20% off sales) and bit the bullet.

I am so happy with my purchase! Yes it was more than I originally was wanting to spend, but the pros far outweighed the cons. I selected the Korver style for several reasons, but the bench seat and no back cushions is what sealed the deal. Our dog always sat on the back cushions of our previous couch and practically ruined them. I also loved that I was able to select from a ton of different fabrics (we went with the pet + kid friendly Taylor Felt Gray), the stain of the wood legs and the mattress. It also comes with free shipping + delivery and a 1 year return policy if we aren’t happy with it. Even though I had to wait 2 months to get my sofa, I would still recommend Joybird hands down.

Getting a new couch prompted getting a new rug. The new couch and old rug were too close in color and it wasn’t jiving for me. This also took a ton of searching. I new I wanted something lighter and in a different style, but I just didn’t know what specifically. I ended up ordering this rug from Rugs USA. (They always have great sales with free shipping.) I was a little nervous of getting such a light color, but Scotchgard has been my friend.

About this time was when I also decided I ready for some new art to be hung above my vintage trunk. This also took a lot of looking. I wanted a different style altogether with moodier colors. I ordered two from Minted and one from Clare Elsaesser. I’ve been a fan of Clare Elsaesser for quite some time and wanted a print for the nursery, but didn’t have the space for it. So instead I ordered one for the living room! I used Framebridge to frame the Clare print and loved using the service! I will be going that route again if needing something professional framed down the road. I hung the art in a gallery style, which can be tough with different sizes and shapes. I really like the result!

And finally the fireplace.

The fireplace is a main feature in our small front room. It’s a working, wood-burning fireplace, though we’ve never used it. (And probably won’t ever) The brick was painted white years ago and it’s been that way ever since. I’ve always wanted a mantel for it and finally got it this winter! Here’s a whole post dedicated to it, but I’ll just say that I’m pretty smitten with it. Of course adding a mantel also meant a new mirror. I selected this one from AllModern and am so happy with it.

The living room has been a whole series of “one thing leads to another” and I can’t say I’m mad about it. Quite happy, actually. However, the ONE decor-related item that’s left on the list for the living/dining room…a new light fixture above the table. I have one picked out that I’m in love with, I just need to convince Tim it’s worth patching some holes in the ceiling. The living room and dining room are connected, so needs to feel like one cohesive space. Our current light fixture above the table doesn’t do that.

It took several attempts and years to finally get the living room in a place where I’m super happy. Let’s keep it this way for a while!

–m.

DIY, Our House

DIY Fireplace Mantel

April 7, 2017

When we moved into our house, the fireplace was ugly–dingy brick, black grout and a terrible insert.

It didn’t take long before we removed the insert, but it sat with the ugly brick for several months before I finally painted it white with a black high-heat paint for the inside. And that’s how the fireplace has looked for the last few years. Not terrible, but there’s one thing that I had always wanted to add–a wood mantel. Well, this winter my wish finally came true.

Tim picked up some oak boards from Menards to build a box that would slide over the existing brick. I wanted something with clean lines–no distressing or crazy knots. There was some discussion about a couple different ways to build the mantel and decided to build the three outside boards and the end caps. You can only really see the end caps if you’re standing on the side purposely looking at them. The wall the fireplace is on is not completely flat, so that posed another challenge. (Yay old houses) We had to sand down the top piece of wood to fit up against the wall as snug as possible. The original “mantel” also didn’t hang over the brick evenly on both sides, so when fitting the new one there were extra measurements. Before the stain was applied, a couple of the edges were sanded and curved so there were no sharp corners.

The color of the mantel was a bit of a discussion. Do we match our natural oak floors? Maybe just paint it white? Go dark? It was ultimately decided to go for a darker color, so we selected an espresso stain and put two coats of it on before the poly. I’m so happy with the color and how the grain shows through!

When it came time to attaching the mantel to the fireplace, we used wood glue to adhere it to the brick and clamps to keep it from shifting while the glue settled and dried.

It’s amazing what a couple small changes can do to a space. I love it and feel like this is how the fireplace should have always looked. It even called for a new mirror.


I love the way the new mirror looks, but am now lost as to how to decorate the mantel. Leave it simple? Add some height on either side of the mirror? There are a few other updates that I’ve done to our living room (couch, rug, art), which I plan on sharing soon!

—m.

Baby, Our House

The Nursery

January 19, 2017

It was decided early on that when we have a kid, the smallest of our three bedrooms would become the nursery. Though small (approximately 8ft x 10ft), it’s still a great size for a nursery and it only has one exterior wall so the temperature is easier to control. Until a few months ago, the nursery was our office (which was never really used like a proper office).

Originally I wanted to do a Boho look for the nursery but was struggling with it. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money gathering all new things and the inspiration I pulled wasn’t cohesive. So instead, I decided to be resourceful with what we already had. I had planned to have navy in the room no matter what gender, so keeping the rug that was already in there worked out well. Other items that stayed in the room included: paint color, sheer curtains, bookshelf, chair, pillows, throw blanket, brass desk lamp and wall decor (art print and mirror above chair, map, airplane propeller).

I was struggling with what to hang on the only big wall in the room. Anything that hangs on that wall will someday have to be addressed because it’s within reaching distance of the crib. When Tim mentioned that the airplane propeller was literally bolted into the wall and it wasn’t moving without exposing a decent sized hole, it was decided to keep those two items. It was at that point when I decided to *loosely* give the room a travel theme. From there I dug up an old Rifle Paper Co. travel calendar I had saved and framed six cities that Tim and I have been to.

I absolutely love the crib I picked out. It’s a 3-in-1, so it will grow with E to toddler size. I found the dresser from Overstock after having a nightmare of a time trying to order one from PB Kids. (Like I will never order furniture from them again.) I ordered new drawer knobs from CB2 to match the brass lamp and love them. There’s also an 8-cubbie Kallax system with four wicker baskets in the closet for additional storage and organization. My mom made me the quilt hanging on the crib and I adore it. I picked out three of the fabrics and let her pick the rest. I’ve had several comments about not getting a rocking chair. I honestly didn’t want a big bulky one and I love the chair that’s in there now. However, if I would want a rocker down the road, we do have access to an old wooden one I could bring into the room.

Crib / Dresser / Kallas / BasketsBookshelf / Rug / Art PrintCity Prints / FramesLamp / Drawer Knobs

DIY, Our House

DIY Tree Stump Table

April 10, 2016

I’ve always loved the look and the idea of having a tree stump as a side table. It’s such a fun way to bring a natural element in to your home’s decor. Luckily for me, we had to have a couple problematic trees cut down last year.

TreeStump-0

We kept the wood from one of the trees so we could eventually chop it up and use in our fire pit, so I sorted through our wood pile and picked out what would become a future side table. I wrapped it in a couple garage bags and let it sit for several months in our garage to dry out and make sure any leftover bugs would eventually die. I actually forgot about it and the wrapped stump sat in our garage for much longer than I had intended. Oops.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I pulled it out and started working on it. I didn’t take many pictures of the process because it’s not overly complicated. In a nut shell–sand a ton and use some poly to seal it. My father-in-law used a saw to even out the one end since it was cut at a slant. After that, I used a belt sander on both ends of it and a block sander on the sides.

TreeStump-1 TreeStump-2

After getting the sanding to a point where I was happy, we got our air compressor out so I could blow all of the saw dust and any leftover dirt off the stump–you want all of that gone before moving into poly. Then I took a damp rag and wiped it down really good.

I had picked up some Minwax Fast-Drying Poly in satin to apply to the stump. I wanted a bit of a sheen but not high-gloss, so satin was recommended. I applied a total of four coats of poly, which did darken the stump a bit because it’s not a true clear poly. I let it sit out in the garage for a couple more days because of the smell before brining it into the house. Felt feet were also applied to the bottom of the stump so it wouldn’t effect the hardwood floors.

TreeStump-3 TreeStump-4

I’m debating whether or not I should paint just the top of it white like this picture because I don’t love the grain on the top. But overall I’m really happy with how it’s turned out! Our guest room isn’t terribly big so this is a great alternative to having a second nightstand in that room.

–m.

 

Our House

Landscaping-Before & After

August 4, 2015

Three years ago we first started talking about getting the front of our house re-landscaped. It was ugly but it wasn’t awful, so we kept putting it off. That was until this year when we noticed the railroad ties were rotted through and basically falling apart. Both of us were excited by the idea of having landscaping done, but neither one of us wanted to put in the effort of doing it ourselves. We are clueless about picking out plants, making sure we’re in the correct zone and how much shade or sun all the different plants need. It was one of those projects we were okay with hiring out for. So back in March we got quotes from a few places and signed a contract.

Before
Before, we had very dated looking bushes. We aren’t sure how old they were, but they filled the space in and were okay for the time being. We had planted a rose bush in the front that did well. I was actually sad to see it go. Daffodils bloomed every spring, but after that we weren’t left with much color. The lily of the valley bloomed twice in the five years we’ve been here. The railroad ties were rotted, we didn’t love the scalloped edging, and then there was the weirdly placed concrete planter-box-thing (technical term) on the corner. It was all over the place.

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The job was completed back in May, but I wanted to wait until the flowers and bushes bloomed before taking the after photos. Then summer showed up and the plants didn’t like the heat so the plants drooped a bit. Because our house faces south, I found it a bit challenging to get photos because the sun is always behind our house, or our giant oak tree makes everything dark. So all of that aside, the afters…!

After
We went through a local company called Timberline Landscapes and really liked the end result. They provided a pretty thorough plan, a clear estimate and timeline, and were great to talk with if we had any type of question or concern. Timberline and one of the other companies came in with almost identical quotes, so it came down to the design and plants. I asked for a couple plant revisions, which they were happy to do and suggest other options that would work.

What we asked for:
– Low maintenance plants, color, variety of textures
– We didn’t want the front yard to look completely dead during the winter either, so some sort of bush.
– A new curved wall where the railroad ties were and to have the downspout system tied into it.
– Removal of a smaller cedar tree.
– Till up our garden bed on the side of the house and put in new compost/dirt and mulch.

We ended up going with a mix of green velvet boxwood bushes, hummingbird clethra bushes, endless summer hydrangeas, little lime hydrangeas, peach drift roses, veronica flowers and blanket flowers. Oh, and a dogwood tree, which won’t bloom until next spring. When everything is in bloom at the same time, it looks really nice!

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The blanket flowers and roses require deadheading so they bloom in spurts, but I haven’t quite figured out the growth pattern of the veronica flowers. Our endless summer hydrangeas are just starting to bloom for the second time and the little lime hydrangeas are doing great. One thing I didn’t think about when going over the plants was how many bees we’d attract! It’s great and kind of terrifying at the same time. I just stand really far away when watering the plants. Our boxwoods are small right now, but we were told give them a couple years and they’ll really fill out. We’ll eventually have to shape them.

We had several people in our neighborhood tell us how nice it looked when it was done. That made us feel good because of A) the amount of money we spent and B) it shows that people pay attention to what happens in the neighborhood. We found out after our project was completed that Timberline doesn’t normally do as small of a job as our’s, but because it was only a 2-day project they were happy to take it on. So now that that big project is out of the way, we can start researching for the next one: replacing the driveway.

—m.

Our House

Landscaping Preview

May 22, 2015

Our landscaping project wrapped up last week, and we’re really happy with it. I want to wait to do a full before & after until more of our flowers start blooming and some grass grows back. Currently there’s straw along the new wall and our hydrangeas haven’t bloomed. However, the new blanket flowers, veronica speedwells and peach drift roses all have great blooms coming in!

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One hydrangea plant actually has a couple blooms on it, but I’m pretty excited to see the complete picture once the rest do!

—m.