Ideas for a Little Boy's Room

For some crazy reason, I cannot stop thinking about how I am going to turn our upstairs guest room into Alex's bedroom in a year or two.   I am still not done with Elizabeth's room either - more to come on that shortly.  Although we are still planning to move him when he's out of his crib in probably 2 years, I am starting my idea file now.  I will probably use some sort of loose vintage theme which is easily changeable with accessories and a comforter.  I love red, white, and blue boys' rooms as well.  And, I already have a navy blue plaid upholstered chair ready to live out its final years being used as a trampoline (yes, I have a brother so I know these things).

So I started my usual searching which I'll probably start saving in some sort of folder.  I stumbled on a great site that I have never been to before, called Rosenberry Rooms  which has some great jumping off ideas and you can buy the featured products.  Here is their airplane themed room which they call the "Teddy Bedroom".  I like the basic pieces and the easily changeable accessories for when he gets tired of the theme.  

And here's their Asher Room which has a vintage baseball theme which I really like.  My son is already obsessed with any sort of game that involves a ball.  He's all boy.  I absolute adore the lamp they have with this grouping.  I don't think I would do the brown walls but I love the rest including the red bed.  

And another interesting option, this time from Furniture Fashion, is a boat theme which is one that I have also been thinking about for a while. I love nautical stuff in boys' rooms but, as with decorating with shells, it may seem add since Arlington is not exactly a water-oriented location (the Potomac River does not count).  But, I already have a great map print that we got on our honeymoon in Bermuda which I could use.  Food for thought.
Lots to think about - fortunately I have a lot of time to formulate my ideas and start collecting great stuff.  I collected things for Elizabeth's room for nearly a year before we got back into the house and made her new room.  I can feel a new idea folder growing already!


Peek-A-Boo! Hiding a Flat Panel TV

I have posted multiple times about decorating the top of the new mantle (see those posts here and here).  Although I love our Samsung LCD LED HDTV because it is really skinny (much thinner than a normal LCD TV), there are times when I wish I could just close it off so it's not such an obvious focal point for our family room. Don't get me wrong - we watch our fair share of TV and I am in no way anti-TV, but it's not really an ideal decorating look.

Here's our current look.

I started doing some research on what we could do to cover it.  I am generally looking for something with doors to cover the TV but I may explore the option of just framing out the TV.  All of this may involve recessing the TV under a new header in the wall which I am sure Jim will be SOOOOO happy about (haha).

Here are a few ideas that I found surfing around online.

This one is a little more rustic or "Old World" than I typically like but I think the room is interesting.  

Getting closer... This is more along the lines for what I had in mind for our set-up.

And I really like this one because of the classic styling and the pretty doors (and of course the yellow walls!).

I am actually trying to come up with a "best of both worlds" solution where I get a picture over the fireplace but also the TV. 


Center of Attention: Dining Table Centerpieces

wI finally got around to cleaning up my dining room which had become a dumping ground for a lot of stuff that didn't have a home or needed to be returned to a store (an unfortunate hobby of mine).  Making the table the true focus of the room became a top priority, and a great centerpiece is a great way to do that.  I was inspired by my friend Amie's fun beach-inspired centerpiece with shells and sand (I'm working on getting a picture!).

A few months back, I mentioned a few Crate & Barrel deals in a post that I was about to pounce on.  Here's a refresher on those pieces. This great shell-inspired platter -

And this fun table runner -

I like the platter a lot, but the runner was a little more colorful than what I was picturing for the table.  It ended up working well on the buffet though.  So, now I was off to continue looking for a more neutral runner in a natural fabric (no shiny faux satin damask).  I stopped into...  Crate & Barrel... just to see and bingo - I found this lovely runner which this pictures does no justice for -

It's perfect!  Natural, neutral, but still elegant enough for my crystal chandelier dining room.  So, here's the result!

The addition of the woven charger adds another natural element and creates a dark division between the runner and the centerpiece - allowing the centerpiece to stand out a bit more.

The Simon Pearce candle holders were a wedding gift from our friend Nicole and I scored the candles for a $1 at a yard sale (Crate & Barrel no less).  It's a bit hard to tell but there is a Pottery Barn ceramic conch shell (on clearance) in the mix of assorted orbs from Marshall's.  The bird was a random find on the clearance shelf at Target from their Smith & Hawken line but I think he's kind of a cute and helps the dining room not take itself too seriously since it's main purpose is a racetrack for various toy cars that run better on the floor than on rugs!  Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for me), I'll be slowing the racetrack down with a much needed rug in there very soon.  Stay tuned!


The Mantel Revisited

Over the last few weeks, I've been continuing to work on dressing up the mantel in our family room.  I posted about this a few weeks ago (see that here).  So, here's where things are currently and I actually really like it.

I think I could probably use something to go under the TV but I haven't found just the right thing but I like the summer feel of the other items.  And, yes, that's my house plant - still alive!  I also may swap things out for taller items in the fall but for now, I like these.  Another issues that taller items may interfere with TV viewing from the sides which is important!

I would love to hear what you have on your mantel this summer.  Send me some pictures.


Thoughtful and Useful Housewarming Gift Idea

Many of our friends have moved over the last few years so I feel I am always looking for thoughtful and easy housewarming gifts.  This weekend we went to a friend's new house for dinner.  They are "have everything" type people so I picked up a set of adorable summer themed hand towels (I'm really into orange this year) and fancy kitchen hand soap.  It's a thoughtful but not over-the-top gift, and it looks really cute in a sweet bag with a little bow.  No matter how much great stuff you can have, anyone can appreciate these little gifts.

For a weekend hostess gift or birthday gift, you could amp it up with some fun kitchen spoons, fancy dish soap or counter cleaner, and put it all in a nice basket or small colander.

For some other former neighbors and very good friends (who had the nerve to move a mile away!), I struggled for a while with what to get them.  Fortunately the struggle ended quickly when I saw this Ron Krajewski print on Etsy.  I've seen his work at Eastern Market in DC and always admired it, but I had never seen this Cairn Terrier print.  Our friends have an adorable Cairn Terrier, Albus,who looks very much like the dog in the portrait.  Of course, I snagged one and framed it in a great wood frame.  The finished product was great.  They loved it!

Photo via Ron Krajewski

I love putting together gifts like these because they are thoughtful and useful.  What are your favorite housewarming gifts to give and receive?


FREEography! CSN Stores $50 Gift Certificate Giveaway!!

This week's FREEography giveaway is for a $50 e-gift certificate for CSN Stores!  Yes, you can use it in any of their stores - Home Improvement, Lighting, Rugs, Baby and Kids, etc. - for anything from dining room tables to a kitchen sink!

To get you even more excited about this one, here are some great things that I would buy with a $50 CSN Stores gift certificate!!

This lamp would look really great in my soon to be restyled living room.

I can think of about 10 places in my house where this mirror would be gorgeous.  Love it!

I love these prints.  No idea where I would put them but I am sure I could find a place pretty quickly.  The price is amazing!

And because our toaster oven is about to die...

Rules, Rules, Rules

TO ENTER, submit a comment below saying "Pick Me" and tell us what you plan to use your gift certificate for!  Be sure you sign in before leaving the comment or leave your email address in your comment so we can contact you if, and only if, you win.

The contest ends on Tuesday, July 20th at 11:59 p.m. ET.  One entry per email address.  The winner will be chosen randomly using random.org.  Must be a US or Canadian resident at least 18 years of age.  The winner will receive an electronic gift certificate directly by email from CSN.  Winner will be announced on or about Wednesday, July 21st.  Good luck!

Vacation: Cabin-tastic

Over the 4th of July weekend we had a great opportunity to visit a wonderful cabin near Sperryville, VA owned by our friends Susan Raines and Jim Duffy.  Although we have visited many times before, it has been a while since we visited in the height of summer.  It always feels about 10 degrees cooler there than in Washington (only 1.5 hours away) and we feel instantly relaxed once the road turns to dirt about 2 miles before we arrive at their driveway gate.  Here's a picture of the cabin almost completely obscured by trees. 

Jim and Susan have a lovely small pond on their property, completely with lily pads and frogs, perfect for fishing and floating around on a hot day. 
As you can see, the A-frame log structure is charming before you even get inside.  Here's the "front" door, although I generally think of this as the back of the cabin because it's on the opposite side of the pond. 

Once inside the cabin, you walk through a short hallway into the kitchen and great room.  The cathedral ceilings (with skylights) and the overall openness of the room make the room airy and welcoming despite hte dark wood logs.  The beautiful blue wood stove helps heat the building in the winter.  Duffy is an amateur lumberjack and spends a lot of time cutting up fallen trees and splitting firewood throughout the year! 
Knowing we were coming with the kids, Susan did us a huge favor and put away all of the small, breakable, and hazardous decorations that she usually has around the house.  As a result, the pictures show a pared down version of the usual decor.  Still, it's beautiful and rustic all at the same time.  She has an amazing collection of handmade pottery which I wish I had photographed.  I always spend a lot of time ooing and ahhing over it.

I love the artwork they have collected both for the cabin and even before they had the cabin which works so well.  In addition to the great decor, the cabin has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a finished basement with a combination family room and guest bedroom - perfect for a great weekend with friends and family.

Isn't that claw foot tub amazing?  Makes you think about climbing in after a long hike on a cool fall day... except it was 90 degrees when we were there last week!  Here are a few pictures of the master bedroom on the main floor.  I love the views out the windows of the pond and the beautiful ferns which surround the cabin.
Susan and Jim recently finished renovating their basement to include a family room, an additional guest sleeping area, full bathroom, and a laundry/work room.  Jim is a serious LSU football fan so it's critical that he not have to worry about missing any games while spending beautiful fall weekends at the cabin!  They also needed the extra sleeping space for extended family visits. 

I love the simplicity and modernity of the family room which is in sharp contrast to the upstairs rooms.  But, we don't go to the cabin to watch TV (although it's a great distraction for tired kids), we go to sit on the deck and watch the day go by.

Yes, I took a nap on that sofa soon after arriving in the early afternoon.  They also have a beautiful garden on the sunny side of the pond a few hundred feet from the cabin.  It's practically a full time job keeping the deer from eating the plants but it seems worth the effort when you experience the space. 
The view of the cabin from the garden.

Thanks Susan and Jim for letting us borrow the cabin again!  Hope everyone enjoyed seeing this amazing little spot of heaven.


Getting More Use Out of the Good China!

When we moved back into our house post-renovation, I was able to rethink where to put furniture and how to store some items.  Our dining room was one of the least changed rooms in our house although it did get about 2 feet longer thus making it more functional for larger dinner parties.  I already had our great, classic dining room set which my parents bought for us at a used furniture store when we moved into the house 8 years ago.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

Prior to our move (out and then back in again), I had kept most of our good wedding china stored in the lower part of our china cabinet (on the right above) and the crystal was stored in our buffet (on the left above).  Needless to say it was rarely if ever used except on a rare holiday hosted at our house or an adult dinner party (VERY RARE!).

I think this is a real shame because I love our china (discontinued Lenox Jaquard Gold) and wanted to use it more.  It can also be dressed up or down.  Finally, real china is generally more durable than stoneware and ours can even be washed in the dishwasher.

So, I set out to redesign the display part of our china cabinet to both hold most of our china and also be pretty since it has glass doors and it is one of the first things guests see when they come in the front door.  I started by neatly stacking the china on the bottom shelf of the cabinet.  I put the crystal wine glasses on the second shelf with a crystal pitcher between.  Behind the glasses for a little color, I added a beautiful floral square plate by Gien purchased during a trip to Paris (great souvenir idea for anyone going!).   On top I added a few of the serving pieces for our china, accent plates, and a couple of silver candlesticks.

I love the overall effect now and it doesn't feel stodgy or like something out of a grandmother's house (no offense Grandma!).  Since I made this change, I have used the china more times than I probably would have if it was stored underneath out of sight.  This also cleared up a lot of room in the bottom cabinet for other serving pieces, additional place settings, and other dining necessities.

How often do you use your good china (or do you even have "good china")?  Where do you keep it?  Do you wish you used it more?  Do tell!


About the Artist: My Mom!

If you are a regular HOUSEography reader, you may have noticed a couple of wonderful portraits of my kids, Elizabeth and Alex, in some of my posts about our family room (particularly the corner bookshelf post here and yesterday's dresser post here).  The artist is my mom, Emmy Wilson!  She drew both of those with pastels for us.  She gave us the picture of Elizabeth about 3 years ago and the picture of Alex just this spring.  I love the frames because Elizabeth's is more frilly and girl-y and Alex's is more masculine.  I am sure they will become family heirlooms.

Here are some up close pictures (sorry about the glare on the glass):

She also did a wonderful watercolor painting of Jim and I on graduation day at St. Lawrence University which hangs in the hallway between our kitchen and dining room.  Every time I walk by it, I think about that exciting but bittersweet day!

Next time we go to my parents' house in upstate New York, I'll take more pictures of her work and blog about it. 


Re-dressing the dresser: Antique dresser make-over

The decorating blogosphere is filled with dresser make-overs.  Here are a few just to give you an idea if you don't follow 30+ design blogs like I do!

Well, my mom got me a great dresser from a family friend (who got it from a member of my family ironically).  I loved it when I saw it but knew it would need some work to really hold up to the abuse it would doubtlessly receive as a hold everything place in our family room for the printer, telephone, and all sorts of home office type stuff in the drawers.  It has some great details on the sides and the overall wood tone is perfect for our house, but it was literally falling apart, had some hideous drawer pulls, and it looked like maybe the original legs were cut off at some point because it was only about 26" high!  Very odd. 

Unfortunately I cannot seem to find a good "before" picture but this will give you an idea of how ill-fitting the handles were for this piece.

Fortunately it didn't need the kind of work that the dressers in the blogs above needed, so the project didn't take all that long.  I cannot, however, guarantee that a coat of paint or two will never hit this dresser at some point in the future!

So, in comes the hubby to work some magic once again. 

 Jim had to re-glue almost every piece of wood on the dresser and rebuild the drawers so the bottoms could withstand the weight of office supplies.  We added legs we found in the molding department at Home Depot (made to replace upholstered furniture legs).  It took some ingenuity to attach them to the existing stumpy legs but Jim found a solution. He then cleaned the grime off the entire piece and put on a clear coat of polyurethane.  Finally, we replaced the handles with some simple handles from Home Depot which cover the extra set of holes we discovered when we took off the old handles!

And here's the finished product!

I'm sure we'll enjoy this piece for many years to come, with or without a coat of paint!