Ding Dong... You're New Console Table is Calling!

Well, not really raining console tables, but the console table problem has basically solved itself and very inexpensively. My awesome friend Amie read my post yesterday about shopping for a console table, and guess what? She has one to sell!! And it's perfect - I've always admired it since it's next to their front door we see it every time we go there. They bought it at Crate and Barrel only a few years ago.

Here are some pictures she so kindly sent me.

Bottom shelf.  Check.  Drawers.  Check.  Clean, classic lines.  Check. 

She is only getting rid of it because it doesn't fit the space it's in. Fortunately I caught it before they listed it on Craigslist! It only took me six seconds to get back to her.

And she so kindly gave me the 30% off "friend discount" so only $100!  I'll pay her the extra in hand-me-down clothes for her little guy.

What are friends for if they can't help you with your decorating problems?!

Lots of built-in progress to report tomorrow!


Living Room Makeover: Console Table Options

Still looking for some console table options for our living room.  To read my initial post on this project, click here.  So, I have been hunting down options other than this somewhat pricey CSN option -

Stein World 4 Drawer Narrow Console Table - 80864
CSN - $359
I admit, the main thing that's stopping me are those floral corners (for lack of a better description) on the drawers.  If it was $150 I would jump on it regardless, but for $359 feels a bit closer to real furniture that I might have to hold onto a for a while!

I'm still trolling Craigslist without much luck.  Too much wrought iron and wicker!

So, I scoped out some other options. What do you think?

From JC Penney - This one is a bit too Craftsman for my house.
JC Penney - $279 (minus a coupon I'm sure)

This next one is a real option.  I do like it's sleekness which I think will look great with my other visions for the room. I also like that there are decent sized drawers and a really usable shelf below.  I kind of wish it was 6" longer but it's still a nice table.  And it looks expensive which is always a plus.

JC Penney - $249

And another from CSN, but I don't like the wood tone on this one.

Here is an option from Target.com.  Hmm... I actually like this option quite a lot.  It's a couple of inches shorter than I wanted but I could live with that since it's about half the price of the other options.  I'll have to go and check it out in the store. 
Target - $119.99

I was pretty much set on the JC Penney table until I saw this one.  I guess it will come down to color and how chunky I want the table to be.  I probably won't wait too long to order because I things I choose have a bad habit of getting discontinued!

Stay tuned!


This Old House Contest

Last week, I entered the This Old House Reader Remodel contest in the whole house renovation category.  I was thrilled to learn the next day that our house would be featured on the website for the contest.  Woohoo! 

Check it out here and feel free to vote!

For more information about our whole house renovation, click here

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Built-in Bookcase Progress! (Update 1)

As it was snowing the other night, hubby started work on our new built-in bookcases in the basement rec room.  (Yes, I am calling it a rec room because I cannot figure out another more suitable name!)

Jim worked for several days on the plans for the bookcases with cut lists and everything mapped out so as to minimize mistakes.  I tweaked some of the dimensions last week after talking with some friends about the project while actually standing in the basement, and realizing that some of our large toy storage containers (Thomas trains, blocks, etc.) would not fit in the lower cabinets as I had intended!   It always amazes me the ways in which projects can be improved just by talking them through with a fresh set of ears and eyes on hand!


This time, as opposed to the previous built-in projects, Jim is building most of the project and then installing it in the space when he's done.  He'll dry fit it at various points, but for the most part, the play space will be undisturbed for a while - very important in cold weather!

So far, he is cutting the big sheets for the base cabinets.  This picture is part of the bottom.  The walls between the cabinets will slide into the grooves.

 This is the base of the cabinet. 
And now he's just being silly.  Get back to work!

We are allotting a lot of time this weekend for Jim to keep working - fortunately we both have Monday off.  Hopefully we'll have lots of progress to share next week!

Share your built-in building tips here!  We've done this before, but we can always learn more!!

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Cooking Investment: Pots and Pans

The only gifts I might use more than my iPad from the hubby are my new All-Clad pans from my parents!  I did a lot of research beforehand and told my mom what I wanted.  I liked the basic stainless steel pans.  I was done with non-stick saucepans.  I looked at a lot of pans but I had always (secretly) wanted All-Clad pans, probably even when we got the other Calphalon pans!  Also, my mom bought me the All-Clad lasagna pan last year for Christmas and a square baker for my birthday last April.  These pans are great and get a lot of use.  So, even though All-Clad was a the top of my list, I looked around at other options.  In the end, I knew what I wanted and I wasn't going to settle.

I figured I would get a set but I looked at a lot of the All-Clad sets available and none of them seemed to be exactly what I wanted.  I have had my non-stick Calphalon set for over 10 years so I knew which pans got used the most and which I could live without.  Of course the Calphalon sizes didn't translate into the All-Clad sizes (my Calphalon pans were in 1/2 sizes - 3 1/2 quart, 2 1/2 quart, etc.).

So, I started by making a list of the pans that I wanted (which more or less correlate to what we already have that we want to replace).  I should also note that I have a Wolfgang Puck covered frying pan (like this) and a fairly new Calphalon Everyday Pan (like this) both of which are relatively new and definitely did not need replacing.  In the end, this was my new pan priority list:
  •   3 quart saucepan
  •   2 quart saucepan
  •   5 or 6 quart saute pot
  •   4 quart saucepan
  •   8 quart stock/pasta pot
  •   large non-stick frying pan*
  •   small non-stick frying pan*
My mom and dad came through with the 3 quart saucepan which is the most used saucepan.  THEN, my mom gave me my early birthday present - the 2 quart saucepan which she found at TJ Maxx!  Go Mom!  A few days after Christmas I was digging around at a Marshall's in Western Massachusetts (my in-laws live there) and found a 5 quart saute pot!  Perfect use of Christmas cash.  Woohoo!

AND THEN, I was browsing Williams Sonoma last week and found the 8 quart stock pot for $99 which is less than half the regular price.  There were several reviews complaining about the insert being difficult to clean.  I almost never use an insert for pasta or veggies so this was not a big deal.  The bonus was that I got a Williams Sonoma gift card using credit card points to cover most of the cost!

**As for the frying pans, that was a separate issue all together.  I read a bunch of reviews of the All-Clad non-stick and nobody likes them and they seem to wear out quickly.  I considered some green non-stick but they also got lukewarm reviews.  So, I continued looking.  I ended up choosing the Cuisinart frying pans because they got great reviews and they were not as big of an investment so if the non-stick fails, I won't feel badly about tossing it.  My mom and dad got me the large one for Christmas (thanks guys!) and it works soooo well.  Made me rethink my decision to hang onto the Calphalon Everyday Pan!

So after a month, here's what's left of my wish list!

  •   3 quart saucepan
  •   2 quart saucepan
  •   5 or 6 quart saute pot
  •   4 quart saucepan
  •   8 quart stock/pasta pot
  •   large non-stick frying pan*
  •   small non-stick frying pan*
BUT... There was one issue with these pots.  The handles are really high so the small pan didn't fit into our island drawers where I keep the pans.  I really did not want to move them to the lazy susan as hubby suggested.  So, I stared at it for a while.  Flipped it over.  Voila!  Fits!

What kind of pans do you have?  Did you find a set that fit your needs?

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Hunting Down a Console Table

As I mentioned in my 2011 goals post (read it here) I am planning to make a bunch of changes in our living room this year.  It's underused and needs some new attention to attract our family back into that room.  Decorating this room has been a challenge, even before our renovation.  Prior to the renovation, we spent all of our time in this room because there was nowhere else to be in our house.  It was also our main entryway, and the only path to our stairwell.  Our renovation changed all of that and now we never have to go into that room for anything!  In hindsight, we probably should have rethought the use of that room but I never imagined that we just would not use that room anymore.  And, I know I'm not alone with this problem - so many people have that untouched living room that they have no idea how to use it.

So, time to rethink things now. 

The main challenge now is the BIG WALL.  That's all that it is.  A big wall.  Totally blank with no purpose, architectural detail, or pretty much anything interesting going on.

Except my grandmother's clock and a bunch of toys.  What am I going to do with it?

I definitely do not want more built-ins.  These built-ins are on the wall to the right of the front door (just barely out of the right side of the picture above).  I did consider more built-ins but I was afraid it would feel a bit too much like a library and the room is just too big for that I think. 

I don't think I want another dresser or cabinet I don't think because it feels like more of the same.  So, I'm down to a couch (no) or a table of some sort.  Right now, I am leaning towards a large console table, possible with one or two shelves below.  I actually really like this one -
It's the right size and shape, and I like the color.  My coffee table is a dark espresso so I think this would coordinate without matching.  The downside is the $350 price tag.  If it was real quality furniture from a used furniture or consignment store then I wouldn't mind, but this is just not that.  But the dimensions are perfect and it won't see hard wear like a coffee table would.  So, I am going to think about it and keep looking for an equally good or better option.  Hopefully Craigslist will come through! 

p.s.  If you are  in the DC area and see a good option in a local store or on Craigslist, let me know!


A Great Tray Find

I wanted to share a great little find I found a few weeks before Christmas at my beloved REfind Consignments in Vienna. I had been looking for a tray for our bathroom vanity to keep our various glass containers in check.  They have a tendency to find their way to all parts of the counter.  Despite looking for various months, I hadn't found anything so pretty much gave up. 

Then went to check out Carey's Christmas decorations, and totally stumbled on this little beauty!  


Perfect size and I love the flower pattern.  I added a couple of sticky rubber feet to the bottom to keep the metal from scratching the granite counter. 

Everything barely fits but I think it works.

Of course I have a thing for trays.  I have one on my dresser and I have one on the bar in the dining room.  I love the way tray has a practical purpose of keeping things together in one place and protecting the surface they sit on (such as in the bar) and they have an aesthetic purpose of focusing the eye on things that may be otherwise lost on the larger space. 

Do you use trays in your decorating?  Any good recent consignment shop finds?


Featured on Remodelaholic!

Welcome Remodelaholic Readers!

My post about our crown molding woes is on Remodelaholic tonight!  Thanks Cassidy!

Caitlin's Teen Bedroom Revealed!

It was 6 months in the making, but I am so excited to reveal my niece Caitlin's new room!  Cate turned 13 in May so they decided it was time for a bedroom make-over that would last through her teen years.  Here's the pretty girl with the room in question (sorry for the blurry picture)!

They live in Massachusetts and we live in Virginia so I was assisting via email (when they asked) for much of the fall.  You may remember that we bought a lot of the decor when they were here visiting last summer.  (more on that here)

We had so much fun shopping and my sister-in-law was so impressed with how much we accomplished (fight free) in only 2 hours. We got really lucky at HomeGoods and Marshall's so it was a relatively easy trip.

After they went home, they organized Cate's room, cleaned out her closet, bought her a new desk and bed, and installed cellular shades.  Of course that was all in between four million soccer and basketball practices and games.

They then painted the back wall a great teal blue color.  Very young and fun and I think she'll like it for a long time to come.

When we visited during Christmas break, I spent an hour or so hanging up all of her things on the walls.  I love the result!

Here's what it looked like before:

And here's what it looks like now. (apologies for the lighting - these were night shots)

Cate really wanted a daybed but her mom didn't think it would work so we just styled her bed to look like a daybed.  She and her friends can lounge all day (or more likely night) on this cozy bed.
The painting over her bed is one of my favorite things in the room.  It's so pretty and really pulls together all of the pieces.  The orange is a great contrast with the blue and really warms things up.  Another great HomeGoods find!

Her antique dresser really works in the space now.  It's a beautiful piece.  I bought her the two pictures on the left for Cate for Christmas.  I had her open them early so we could properly arrange her room!  If they wanted to make it a little more modern, they could take the mirror off the dresser and get a new mirror more modern mirror, but I still like it the way it is. 
They are still discussing curtain options, a nightstand, and painting a second wall teal but for now, I think it's a huge improvement.  Better yet - Caitlin loves it!

I wish I could get my hands on her brother's room but he says he doesn't require much.  Boys are a different breed, aren't they?

What do you think?  Are you decorating any teen rooms right now?  What colors are they asking for?  Any other daybed lovers out there?


The Gift of Sleep: Lessons in Mattress Shopping

No, we didn't get a stocking full of Ambien, but we did decide to treat ourselves to a new mattress.  Our old mattress wasn't that old but after some research, I found that most mattresses should be replaced every 7-10 years.  We had a Simmons Beautyrest that we really liked until the last year when we started to notice that our bodies were making permanent indentations and that it just was not as firm as it had been.

So, we decided to start shopping around.  Now, when we bought our last mattress (when we upgraded from our apartment-sized full to a queen), we walked into a random store, laid on some mattresses, really liked one and bought it.  They delivered the same night (and it was a Sunday!).

This time, we thought we would spend some more time looking.  We were seriously considering a Tempur-Pedic (all foam) because I know several people who have them, love them, swear they will never buy another type of mattress.  But, I had never laid on one so we wanted to fully explore that option.  If we liked it, we probably would have gone to Ikea to try out their foam mattress because a lot of people love those as well.

Time to shop.  My brother had warned us over Christmas about the mattress scams and how the prices vary incredibly - particularly at the "mattress discount big box type" stores.  We went to one "big box" mattress store on New Years Eve.  I wanted to lay on one and see how it felt.  I laid on it.  I just didn't like it and could not imagine sleeping on it.  Really hard and just difficult to move around on.  So, now we were back to ground zero.  So, we started laying on others.  They were all fine until we laid on the Simmons Beautyrest NxG.  Wow.  We loved it.  And it has a 20 year warranty (of course I am wary of any 20 year warranty). But, we didn't love the price tag.  $3500?!  What???  Is it made of gold?  Um, no.  Of course, the sales guy comes over and tells us that he'll give us a good deal.  Here we go.  Suddenly the price is $2600 including delivery and tax.  Huh?  Is this a used car?  We left.

The next day (New Years Day), between Home Depot and a New Years Day party, we decide to head back to our original mattress place - MattressLand in Falls Church (for those who are local).  We walk in, tell the guy we bought our last mattress here and wanted to buy another.  He confirms that the NxG is a great choice (no surprise there).  So, then it comes time for the price.  The price on the label says $2500.   I say "What's the real price?"  He says he needs to call the store owner to see how low he can go.  Voila - $1800 and he'll throw in a mattress protector and remove the old mattress.  We probably could have haggled down a bit more, but at that point, I wanted the process to be done.  Done.  Sold.  New mattress arrived last night.  Heaven.   (Well, except for my horrible cough.)


Current Design TV Favorites

This is a totally random post because I have a horrible head cold and I am trying to come up with some good things to fill in my mantels until spring time.  I really dislike winter for so many reasons, although I do like an occasional snow day so long as all of the snow melts within 48 hours afterwards.

I am so excited that HGTV has picked up Sarah Richardson's Design Inc.  I adore Sarah and want to be her best friend, but until that happens, I have to settle for watching her shows and following Tommy on Facebook.  I really wish HGTV would pick up Sarah's Cottage because I would love to see those episodes.  I'm thinking about using her yellow and gray color scheme from her farmhouse (Sarah's House, Season 3) in our upstairs hall bathroom (which is on my 2011 to do list)

I am also currently watching some DVR'd episodes of Flipping Out.  Still deciding whether or not I like Jeff or not, but I like the show and his projects are interesting.  Has he always been such a jerk?

On a non-design related TV note, I love The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Bachelor.  But I promise not to blog about them except to say that the RHBH have some amazing houses!


Basement Playroom Project Begins!

We making the final preparations to start our basement playroom project.  Last year we finished the unfinished portion of our new basement to add a guest room and bathroom, as well as a playroom.  Our kids love playing down there and we keep a good number of toys down there.  In the winter especially we use this room all the time which will hopefully push us to finish this project quickly!

As you can see in these pictures, we have some cheap laminate shelving leftover from our old basement (pre-renovation).  We needed book storage and fast and Ikea came through (of course).  After finishing the basement last winter, we reused these shelves for toys and books.  It was a great solution for the first year but now we have some time to create a more permanent solution.  As you can see, this space is seriously lacking organization!

We use this space for a lot of things - not just toys.  Our treadmill is here and we do actually use it so it's staying for now.  We also bought a flat screen TV from Amazon on Cyber Monday.  The TV is for the kids, running on the treadmill, exercise videos, and just as a secondary TV in the house.  We sold the large TV armoire and the tube TV in it on Craigslist before Christmas. 

The main component of this project will be new built-in bookshelves and cabinetry to store toys and books.  We have 3 sets of built-ins in our house now and I think these will be fairly similar.  I like to keep it consistent throughout the house although we may change up the doors this time around (as we have in the past).

Family Room

Living Room
Hubby and I have spent the last 2 days planning out the bookshelves and how they will work with the space.  Here's roughly how we are coming out.  The new bookshelves are in orange.  More to come on the rest of the furniture layout. 

On the back wall, we are Jim is going to build cabinets below with doors, and the right wall will be floor to ceiling bookshelves with the television on the right side, also with shelves above and below.  I like that we will have both bookshelves and cabinetry easily accessible to the kids.  The biggest toys can go into the cabinet but the smaller stuff and boxes of toys like Legos and Barbies can go on the open shelves. 

Fortunately we are working with new construction unlike most of our previous projects.  Even so, progress won't be too fast because we have some busy weekends ahead but hopefully we can buy most of the supplies this week and get moving soon.  Lots more to come on this so stay tuned! 


Projects for a New Year!

Happy New Year!

Every year we say it's hard to believe that another year has passed.  I think the years fly by much quicker as you get older, especially once you have kids.  I feel like I only just found a place for the toys the kids received Christmas!  

We had a wonderful Christmas and New Years but now we are on to tackling new and exciting projects around the house.  Here are our priority projects for 2011.  I'm not sure it will all get done but I like to set the goals high!  If we get it all done, I'm not sure what we'll do in 2012 but I'm sure we can figure something out. 

1.  Basement Built-ins:  Yup, another set of built-ins is going to grace our home this year.  Jim worked on the plans over the weekend, but we'll incorporate our new LCD television and some storage for toys and books.  We still have about 10 boxes of books left to unpack so hopefully we'll be able to get all of those out of storage!  

2.  Living Room Reorganization:  We are going to try to breathe some new life into our old living room with some new furniture. 

3.  Upstairs Hall Bathroom Freshen-up:  I'm fairly certain we aren't going to totally redo our upstairs hall bathroom but we may do a major spruce up.  It currently features very little storage, cracked floor tile, and peeling wallpaper.  Ironically, this was once one of the nicest rooms in our house!  I don't think I have ever even shown a picture of this room! Blah!

4.  Yard Sale!  Yes, we'll be having our annual yard sale in April or May.  We are hoping to make a neighborhood event out of it.  We already have a huge pile building up!  (more about our previous sales here)

5.  Screen Porch Clean-up:  Not entirely sure what will happen here but something needs to.  We are missing pieces on the exterior and it is sorely in need of some paint. (more about my last screen porch project here)

6.  Green landscaping.  Yes, more landscaping.  The projects never end in our backyard!  I think we are going to invest in a rain barrel or two and start composting if we can find a good place to keep our composter. 

Swing Set
7.  Elizabeth's Room: Elizabeth's room still needs some final touches.  I have no idea what these are right now but she needs a few upgrades suitable for a kindergartener (gasp!).  (more on her room here)

Stay tuned and enjoy the fun!

I'm linking to The Nester's Home Goals Linky Party!