Fall Mantel 2011

I took advantage of the cold and rainy weather last weekend and dug into my fall decorations. I really need to get them reorganized once I get the Halloween stuff out because fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving are all jumbled together in plastic boxes in the attic and it's not working for me. I use the fall decorations the entire season but I add and subtract the Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations in October and November.

I seem to have an unintentional owl theme going on. That wasn't at all planned, and I had completely forgotten about the white ceramic owl until I opened the box of decorations. The stuffed owl is from HomeGoods this year. I could not resist him when I saw him so he had to come home with me. The natural textured green and brown pumpkin is also from HomeGoods, but everything else is from previous seasons. I love adding books to the mantelscape. They add interest and I can play with the heights of the decorations while still be careful not to block the television!

Things will be moved around once the Halloween stuff comes out in a week or two. Elizabeth is already super excited about Halloween.

I'll hopefully remember to take some pictures of the front stoop in the daylight tomorrow so I can post about our fall curb appeal tomorrow. No promises.

Linking to: The Lettered Cottage


A Break from Built-in Bookshelves

We're taking a brief break from installing built-in bookshelves (although more of those to come!). Jim is working on a freestanding bookshelf for Elizabeth's room. She really needed some improved storage. We bought her current shelves for our combination office/guest room in our second apartment. They have lived in many rooms in our house but this will almost certainly be their last before hitting Craigslist in a few weeks.

We didn't want to build built-ins because we need flexibility in how she wants to arrange her room as she grows and wants a bigger bed, a second dresser, or whatever else she might need.

Our style inspiration was this shelf from Pottery Barn Kids
PBK Catalina Shelf 
I love that it's girly and cottage but also sophisticated enough to last her many years. Maybe she'll use it in her future dorm room?!

Here are the initial pictures of Handy Hubby's hard work.

Here are his faithful helpers...

Lots more to come!

Linking to: Perfectly Imperfect, Primitive & Proper


Ignored Space Becomes a Hallway Gallery

There's a short hallway between our dining room and kitchen which I have basically ignored since our renovation in 2009. I have some grander plans for this space but I'm starting small right now until Handy Hubby finishes some other higher priority projects. It's a hallway we use daily on our way to the powder room, hall closet, front door, and dining room. So, it needed some personalization.

I had a pile of various pictures, paintings and other little things piling up in my dining room and basement guest room waiting for new homes somewhere in the house. Unfortunately the magic places weren't appearing, until I looked at this long empty wall.

Seemed like the perfect place for a gallery wall which would also help to de-emphasize the ugly air intake vent and the doorbell box. I had already painted the vent cover but it didn't help very much.

I admit I have a bit of an obsession with gallery walls. I have several pinned on Pinterest which gave me plenty of inspiration. I already have several gallery walls in my house and I love them. We have this one on our stairwell.

This time around though I wanted something a bit more eclectic and homey. Here's where I ended up.

Most definitely a work in progress but I wanted to explain my general plan or lack of plan. I basically, had a lot of stuff and I started by laying it down on the floor of the living room to get a general idea for how I thought it would look hung up. I included a mix of things that I have collected that we love and many of them have special meaning for us. Then I just started hanging each piece individually so the space between each is relatively tight and the frame sizes and types of hangings are mixed up and not all right next to each other. 

I still plan to add a couple more two-sided glass frames for masterpieces that the kids create. I also want to add a few favorite family photos which have been lying around the house either unframed or framed but put away to reduce clutter. Long term, I hope it reaches floor to ceiling and we change things out and add more things for as long as we live in this house.

Have you created a gallery wall in your house? If so, post your link below!


Customizing Store-Bought Curtains

Last week I posted about my updated master closet. I love the beautiful closet so many other bloggers have revealed but function was still my absolute number one priority so chandeliers and the like were out of the question. (We actually have somewhat fancy closet lights which give off wonderful natural light.) So, I had to turn to my window wall for some fun.

I started with some clearance curtains purchased at Target for $9.99 each. They were 84 inches long so not long enough for this window (I like my curtains to be hung super high.) I had originally bought these for the basement guest room but ultimately decided that I could not spare the inches of space that floor length curtains would take up so I scrapped that idea but held onto the curtains because I liked the fabric.

I started by measuring down about 20" on each curtain and cutting it straight across.

To lengthen the curtains, I decided to add a panel of extra fabric in the middle. I have been hoarding this fabric for probably 8 years. I found it on a remnant table for $3.95 per yard and I think there were almost 2 yards in the piece. To create more interest, I put the fabric in the middle instead of the bottom. I inserted the 15" or so of contrasting fabric, lining up the edges (I hemmed the edge of the insert to match the width of the curtain). Finally, I sewed it "inside out" to both pieces of each curtain, and then ironed all of the seams flat. Sorry, I neglected to take pictures of the whole process!!

It took about an hour and a half total to do both curtains. I am horrible about careful measuring and tend to just fly by the seat of my pants with this stuff. If it doesn't work out, oh well. And in this case, we're talking about a closet that only we see (and all 10 of my regular blog readers!), so I wasn't going to spend 3 evenings working on these drapes!

I seriously love the fabric that I used on both the curtains and the stool. I would love to use some on the

Curtain rod was another clearance find at HomeGoods - $8.99. The packaging had seen better days so it appeared that it was missing some pieces but they were all there. Phew! I was impatient so I hung it myself.  I hope Handy Hubby doesn't look too closely at the bad hanging job I did!!

The final result is really fun though. I still have some more ideas for what else I would like to do here but I am still deciding what's really worth the time and effort since it is our closet!


Sew and Tackle

My sewing box has been an issue for a while. I recently realized I bought a second spool of pink-ish thread not realizing I already had this unusual shade in the bottom of my sewing kit. I've had this sewing box since high school but it was no longer cutting it. I had my sewing machine spare parts all over the place and I had buttons in drawers all over the house for fear of this sewing box eating them.

I can take ZERO credit for this stroke of brilliance from Jen at Rambling Renovators. When I saw her tackle box sewing kit a few weeks ago, I knew I had to do the same. I found my tackle sewing box very similar to Jen's on Amazon.
I think Handy Hubby thought it was going to be for him but no. Sorry, Hon.

Mine came in a slightly different color but I actually prefer the more muted palate.

I opened the box and angels sang.

Nothing like a quick organization project to get the juices flowing. It took me about an hour to sort through everything in my sewing box. I put thread, pins, needles, and scissors on the top of the box so I can make quick repairs without digging below the first layer.

I put my buttons and various sewing machine accessories in the lower trays. At the bottom, a bunch of miscellaneous rick-rack trim, an embroidery hoop and other various stuff.

I even found a ribbon on the bottom of the box which I bought for my wedding. No idea what it was for but I know it closely matched the bridesmaids' dresses.

I wish I had taken a picture of Handy Hubby's face when he saw that little addition to the sewing box. Ha!


Powder Room Bling: Part 5...errrr... Maybe not.

The alternative title for this post is "Know when to say when."

Since we moved into the house post-renovation, I had planned to put a window treatment on the window in our powder room. The window is the first thing you see when you walk into the bathroom and it seemed like it needed something to dress it up. The shade is a cordless roman shade from JC Penney which just happen to fit absolutely perfectly. (Unfortunately, it's discontinued now or these shades would be all over my house - I love them!) After finishing the stencil on the ceiling and the crown molding, it seemed like the time to put something up. Even before I did the stencil, I found a great fabric that I loved and ordered a small-ish piece from an Etsy seller to make the curtain. I planned on a curtain similar to what I made for my laundry room.

So, I whipped up the valance one night while watching Project Runway (Is Joshua a nasty beeotch or what?).

Stapled it to the strip of wood (just like the laundry room), and then propped it up on the molding before calling Jim up to screw it to the wall.

Uh oh.  Might be a bit much with everything else going on in there. Truth be told, I slaved over that stenciled ceiling and I was not really interested in detracting from that work in any way. But, looking at this picture, the curtain doesn't look that bad. It would be hung a few inches closer to the crown molding, but I think I am going to skip it at least for now.

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one!!!  Keep in mind the whole room is 3 feet wide and 7 feet long!


Powder Room Bling: Part 4 - Bye Bye Boob Fan Light

I had to do something about the boob fan light in the powder room. After I blinged up the ceiling, I had to find another solution for the fan. Honestly, I really liked this fan 2 years ago when I bought it. It was so much better than 95% of the other reasonably priced bathroom fans. A bathroom fan is an absolute necessity in a powder room - especially in our family! I didn't want to just ditch it since it was not dirt cheap and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.

There are definitely worse bathroom fans out there but this one just needed something else.

While at Target the other day, I had some inspiration when I was walking down the lamp aisle.
Incidentally, my 2 year old son says "That's cute!" when I pick something up to look at it. I told Handy Hubby about this development and he was less than happy!! I think I need to spend less time shopping with him and more time at parks!

So, I started testing some possible ways to connect make this simple shade my fan while keeping the functionality. So, I unscrewed the center medallion and removed the glass cover. I then placed the shade over the base upside down, so the opening for the finial goes through the stem where the medallion screws into. I screwed on the medallion to hold it in place.

Seemed simple but when I looked up... Uh oh.

Not pretty. And, let's be honest, this is one room where you might just look up directly at the light above you. Not going to work. I started to brainstorm how to cover the base of the shade with vellum or some other material.

Then I thought about just putting the glass back on. At first I thought it wouldn't fit under the shade but I quickly realized that it might. So, I grabbed it, and put it up...

Much better!

Here's the view from the hallway walking into the powder room.

Total cost - $14.99.  Now I'm thinking about other yucky boob lights that might need a similar makeover...

Have you made over a boob light or boob light fan?

Still not done yet...


Powder Room Bling: Part 3

At long last here is part 3 of the first floor powder room makeover process (read more about Part 1 and Part 2). If you follow HOUSEography on Facebook, you would know that Handy Hubby installed some crown molding in the bathroom. He was not happy about it and there was a fair amount of cursing involved. Crown molding does not agree with him - he blames it on our crooked walls but I have my doubts. But... the molding is done and painted!

I did a lot of touch-up painting after the caulking was finished. Not fun on a stenciled ceiling!! My neck hurt for 3 days, but it was all worth it for the final result.

If you don't remember, here's where we started...

Now about that boob light fan combo...

Still more to come!

Linking too: A Bowl Full of Lemons, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Between Naps on the Porch


Master Closet Makeover

I'm not sure I have ever photographed my master bedroom closet. A large master closet was at the top of our wish list for our home renovation. When we downsized the size of our addition after the first quote from a builder, we shrunk the size of our room, not our closet!

Here was our closet last winter (right around the time that John and Sherry crashed our house). It was not looking so awesome or cozy at that point. We had even taken the second light down because it stopped working. Fortunately we were able to buy a new transformer and fix it. Phew. The shelving is all Elfa which I adore even though it's not the most beautiful. A closet is still functional first and pretty second. I bought the birch strips for the edge to dress it up a bit. Fortunately it was 50% off when I had to buy those pieces!

We are incredibly lucky to have a window in our closest. Natural light is always the best when you are trying to figure out your outfit for the day.

I bought the bench at my fav consignment store, REfind in Vienna. Carey always has the cutest stuff. (BTW - Carey, when are you coming over to visit?)  I love the bench shape and size but the fabric was not working for me although it was adorable. (The fabric actually ended up becoming one of the flowers on the lampshade I remade for Elizabeth's room.)

I decided that I needed a rug which I bought on Overstock. The yellow border was not my first choice because I really wanted something more gray or blue in here, but it was the only color available at the time. Of course, now they have loads of colors!

I would still like to do some more organizing of our stuff on the shelves and rods but that's a project for another day. At least we have cohesive hangers instead of our original mishmash of stuff. Yes, I really like shoes.

Then I turned my attention to the other wall. I made a custom curtain and recovered the little bench with fabric  that has been hiding in my attic for about 5 years. No idea where I got it but it works perfectly!

I'll give you more details on how I made the panels at a later date!!

I think Handy Hubby thought it was ridiculous to spend time adding any decor to the closet. I told him he would appreciate the rug when winter comes - he's still undecided!

Any decor in your closets?

Linking to: Thrify Decor Chick


9/11: Where were you?

I think Gen X'ers will always remember where they were on 9/11 when the planes hit the Towers.  Similar to our parents who so clearly remember where they were when they heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

Where was I? I was living in Arlington, less than 1 mile from Washington, D.C. and about the same distance from the Pentagon. I was enjoying my last week off before going to work as a lawyer in a large firm. We had come back from Bermuda the night before, celebrating our first wedding anniversary.  I had a medical appointment in D.C. so I jumped in my car at about 8:30 to head in for a 9:15 appointment.  I heard the news while sitting in traffic waiting to get into the city. It was surreal. I call my husband to tell him and he turns on the television in his office. By the time I got to the doctor 15 minutes later, everyone is talking about what happened. Both planes had hit the towers and it was clear it wasn't a freak accident as people thought the first one was. The receptionist had put her radio on the counter so everyone could listen. People with kids start leaving the waiting room to pick up their kids at school.

For some reason, I choose to stay. I wanted to get the appointment over with I guess, and everything seemed to be happening in New York. At about 9:20 p.m., I go in for my appointment and come back to the waiting room at 9:30 p.m. While I am checking out the, flight 77  hits the Pentagon. I call my husband at his office which is about 2 blocks from the White House. I beg him to leave and walk towards my doctor's office about 8 blocks away. He leaves quickly and must have half-run to get to me. We get in the car and start to head towards home in the most unbelievable gridlock. It takes us about 2 hours to go 3 miles. We could have walked in about 45 minutes.

I spend all my time in the car on my cell phone trying to get through to our families to tell them we are okay. Jim's brother, Rich, somehow got through on Jim's phone. We tell him we are fine and ask him to call everyone in Jim's family in Massachusetts, and my family in upstate New York.

While we are in the car, we hear on the radio that both Towers collapsed. We get home at around 11:30 a.m. and watch the news for an hour until we cannot stand seeing the footage of people jumping from the Towers, or video of the fires at the Pentagon. There's nothing new to see or understand and we wouldn't know for a long while after what actually happened.

For some very strange reason, we decide to go golfing with our friend in Fairfax. We head to a par 3 course not far from us and swing away for 2 hours to get our minds off everything that is happening, knowing there is nothing we can do to change what has happened that day. Finally, we head home later in the afternoon and watch the news again.

I don't remember anything else about what we did that day. The following few days were totally strange since most buildings were closed in D.C. so pretty much everyone was around and not sure about what to do next. Of course, we fell back into our regular routines later in the week. I started my work as a securities lawyer the next week. I started to understand the impact on New York because so many of our clients were based on Wall Street. I heard stories of friends who had been close to the events or new people who had died. We were fortunate not to have lost any friends or family that day.

I'll never forget.


Just when I was about to give up...

It's pretty frustrating to hear about everyone's awesome Goodwill deals. The Goodwills that I frequent in Arlington are generally really picked over, filled with junk, or way over priced. In my last few trips there, I have barely found a single thing worth picking up. I don't want an Ikea glass for $2.95 that I can buy new at Ikea for $1!

Then last weekend, I found this...

Original artwork for only $2.95!! I even like the frame. It's not too big or too small. I have a couple of ideas on where to hang it. Just when I was about to give up on Goodwill.

Bathroom painting is almost done!!

Linking to: Southern Hospitality


Off to Kindergarten

Hard to believe that my oldest went to Kindergarten today. I'm still in shock and a little dehydrated from so many tears but I think I'll make it!  Her teacher is really wonderful and I know she is going to love everything about her school years, but it's a tough milestones for the moms especially.

Of course, I had to do the obligatory front porch picture. It was raining but who cares?!

Hope everyone survived the first day of school - especially the parents!!

Lamp Shade Makeover

We're still working on the powder room so hopefully I'll have some after photos later this week for you. Fingers crossed! In the mean time, I've been working on a few other things. You might remember the floor lamp that I painted last year for my daughter's room.

I really liked how it turned out but the white shade was always a little dullsville for me. I bought some rick-rack trim but it wasn't getting the job done no matter how I tried to make it work. I finally came up with a quick and easy embellishment after seeing so many fabric flowers all over blog land! Bingo!

I watched a couple of videos on YouTube and realized this was very doable even for not-so-crafty me could handle it. I had some leftover fabric from a few different projects including the fabric I used for Elizabeth's first birthday party (she's 5 now!), one that we used for her nursery (now Alex's nursery), and one that came off a stool which I bought a long while back (and recovered).

I had a helper of course.

I started by tying a not in the end of a long strip of fabric (size depends on how big you want your flower to be).  Then I attached the knot to the center of a circle of scrap cardboard (cut from a cracker box) with a dab of Aleene's Fast Grab Tack Glue. I then twisted the fabric around the knot and pressing the fabric into a bead of glue. My five year old helped with the glue which made it go quicker because she could apply glue while I twisted and pressed the fabric.

(She got a manicure with me last week and she was REALLY proud of it. Her dad was not so happy about it. Haha.)  

When we ran out of fabric, I trimmed the extra cardboard from the edge, then glued them on the lamp with the same Aleene's glue.

I think it really goes well with her gallery wall since it's also funky and cheerful (just like her!).  I may make a few more tweaks to both the lamp and the wall so stay tuned.

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Linking to: A Bowl Full of Lemons