Den: Desk Chair Try-outs

I recently started calling our home office and guest room the "den".  Not sure why really but probably because my family always had a den growing up - kind of a cozy place to hang out and where my dad always had a desk covered in paper. So, from here on out, the home office may be called the den or it may be called something else!

The next step in the decorating process for the den is finding a chair. I really didn't know what I wanted. I had looked in some of the usual haunts - Home Goods, World Market, TJ Maxx, etc. So far, nothing has come along. There are loads of options online but I decided to hold some "try-outs" with chairs I already had around the house.  Of course I documented it for you!

First up, my acrylic TOBIAS chair from Ikea. Not sure I have ever shown this on my blog but it hangs out in our basement at our seldom-used desk down there - all a work in progress which needs to be documented at some point soon!

I like the look but it disappears a little too much. The desk is the centerpiece of the room and the chair doesn't feel like it really centers the eye as it should. It needs more weight at the center of the bookshelves. But I do really love this chair and it looks really expensive. Even my traditional-loving father really approves of it!

Next up, was one of the chairs from our living room (which I clearly kept after this post).

I really like this actually, but I still have one more to try... one of our kitchen chairs from World Market (documented here)

Not bad but not sure I would want to spend a lot of time sitting at this chair while working. It works well enough at the kitchen table since we generally don't sit there for more than 30 minutes at a time - we're fast eaters.

So, that little exercise really helped narrow down the options I think. I'm definitely leaning towards a parsons chair of some sort. I also like the dark wood of this chair. Hmmm.... wish I had 3 of these chairs already!!  If anyone sees one at your Home Goods, let me know... actually don't because that may cause a tizzy of calls to shipping companies which Handy Hubby will not appreciate.

Here's the zoomed out view...

The great part is, whatever I do choose will definitely not have to be the "end all, be all" because it's just a simple chair!  Remember that - no decorating decision has to be a forever choice, just the right choice for right now.

And of course, a "before" picture for comparison...

What do you think?  Is this the right choice?  Anyone else think that Ben is a horrible Bachelor? Did you have a "den" growing up?  Wondering if that makes me a child of the '70s...


Living Room: Bookshelf Styling

After last week's book shuffle to accommodate our new home office, I was left with some shelf space in the living room. This made me so happy and I think the shelves were happy to be a little lighter too.

Our double-stuffed bookshelves looked like this

And after 20 trips up and down the stairs with books and accessories, they now look like this...

The best part is that this transformation didn't cost a penny! I already owned everything on the shelves. The ivory ceramic artichoke set came were a great Goodwill find last summer. I think I paid $7 for both. I love how they really lighten the look because the books are so dark.

So much better I think. What did you do this weekend? Any big projects in the works? Little projects? I have so many projects to write about that I'm feeling a little behind... Hopefully I can catch up this week.


Den: Styling the Bookshelves

We have a lot of books. A lot. I cannot even begin to estimate but the numbers are in the thousands. We've moved these books from one end of the house and back through the years. Many of the books (pretty much all of the "nice" books) were inherited from my grandfather, but we also buy some books but nearly as much as we used to.  As a result of having so many books, bookcase styling was never a priority. The books had to fit wherever they could and styling was not a priority. Generally, ever bookshelf was jammed with books. Here are some examples:

Basement Built-ins
Living Room
See? Filled!  This is about 3/4 of our book collection. We had more in the attic in boxes, in our room, and in the family room. The family bookshelves were the only remotely styled bookshelves we have.

Now that we have our office back (more on that here), we could finally unpack the last few boxes of books from the attic and spread out some books in other places so things don't seem so bookstore/library-ish. 

Stage 1 was moving some living room books to the office. Here's how it looks now. 

Not at all finished but a good first step. I'm going to add some more layers over time but it's a good first start.  I've some plans for the two spaces on either side of the desk, although nothing totally ready yet. I was anxious to share because this room is coming together. The rug is definitely not staying and the roman shade needs a make-over but all in good time!

I have so much more planned for this room that I don't know quite where to begin.  At the same time, I don't have a real vision yet and I try not to decorate without an ultimate goal in mind. When I browse for things, I seem to be all over the place.  All the more reason to take a slow decorating approach, not a 2 weeks and we're done process - unless I find things for cheap or free!  

Next up is a window treatment and a desk chair, and then we'll probably be on pause for a month or two while we deal with and pay for other projects (like the screen porch!).  I have lots of organizing (free!) to do in here in the mean time so I'll feel like we're making progress even though we won't be making any more big changes.  I wish the progress was going to be quicker so we'll all just have to hang in there.


Introducing Our Den

Since we moved Alex to his big boy room (more on that here and here), we were left with a completely empty room. When does that ever happen?  It doesn't happen to me. Even when we moved into this house after renovating, every room had furniture. Seriously - every room. And it looked full (and finished) to most people.  Not to me, of course! Now over 2 years later, we have lots more furniture and we were filled up, until I sold our guest bed and stored the night stands in the attic either for future use or sale!

So, in a matter of days, we went from this...

To this...

Of course, there was whole lot of this in between...

Here's a few more pictures of the finished colors. The wall color is Benjamin Moore Sidewalk Gray and the back of the bookshelves is California Paints English River (both color matched in HGTV paint by Sherwin Williams).  I took a few more days to pick these colors than I did in Alex's room, where I walked into the SW store and picked and bought the paint in 20 minutes or less.  In this case, I did have samples hanging on the wall for a bit.  Neither space is that big so repainting would not be the end of the world.  I should also note that this is the first room I have painted completely on my own. I even did 99% of the prep work. Handy Hubby did do the calking because I don't really want to learn how to do that.

Hard to believe this was a nursery less than 4 weeks ago!

Obviously more to come...


Our next big project...Summer!

Hope you had a great weekend. Honestly, we have had a rough couple of weeks with deaths, funerals, and illness. Having a 2 year old with norovirus (nasty stomach bug) definitely can put a cramp on your weekend plans. We did get some icy snow here on Friday night and Saturday morning so that just made us want to stay in more.  Enough of that... I'm ready for summer, so...

We're going to renovate our screen porch!  I've been thinking and talking about this for ages and we've weighed the pros and cons of doing this project which I am sure everyone does before embarking on something like this. Our porch is sufficient in its current state but needs new screens, a new door, and paint.  As you can see in these pictures, it looks fine on the surface.

But, if you look closely, you'll see the peeling paint on the posts and floor and the stretchy screens. It's pretty much a bandaid right now. During our big renovation we didn't touch the porch and it became a big storage area for our stuff and some construction supplies.  When we bought the house in 2002, we replaced the flat roof which was leaky and saggy. It was our first major project that we hired out. Then, about 6 years ago, we replaced the screens and beefed up the structural supports (some are pretty rotten). The floor hasn't been painted in 10 years and it shows.  We also never fully finished covering the screen staples on the outside, so it looked fine inside but definitely looked unfinished on the outside.  Now, 6 years later the whole porch desperately needs paint, the screens  are sagging again (maybe because they aren't fully stretched anymore), and the floor is a disaster. Add on some major mold and mildew due to a crazy wet late summer and fall, and you have a real mess.

See? Pretty on the inside.  We've done so much work on the rest of our house that this seems like a real blight on the property. Fortunately it looks pretty fine from the street but the view from our neighbors' We thought about just replacing the structure and that didn't really seem worth it - or that much fun!  I had always dreamed about making the porch bigger. At times I considered enclosing the existing porch into a room (many of our neighbors have done this), but we don't really need another room now that we've done the addition.  I also didn't really want to lose my porch. We eat out there most nights in good weather (in D.C. that's any day that is between 70 and 92 degrees!).  The main issue is that when we have anyone else over, the table is not big enough.  It's a 5 person table and that's definitely it. Even 5 is a little cozy.

You may be saying - what about your patio? Yes, we have a great patio but the mosquitos are so large and plentiful they will carry you away.  Remember, Washington was built on a swamp! I'm hoping to work on this over the spring and summer - more on that then.

So, now we're back to the original problem - rotten porch which is a little too small. We thought about extending the foundation to the front and back but there are a lot of mechanicals on both sides which would be a hassle and expensive to move.  We're going for big bang with as few bucks as possible. 

So... the only other thing is to go out. We're hoping to extend the porch 3 feet.  That doesn't seem like a lot and it really isn't a lot but it will make our very rectangular porch much more square. This will hopefully allow for a table for 6 and one extra chair in the sitting area.  This would allow us to have 2 couples or my parents over  or having everyone actually sit at the table when my parents visit.

Since this is a structural project which requires permits and inspections, we hired our architect Kaye Orr to draw up the plans.  In less than a week, she had a survey of our property line done and She already sent the first draft which we commented on. She's going to visit the County offices this week to see what's what with the property line and how far out we can go without getting a variance.  Knock on wood, it all goes smoothly.

More, lots more, to come on this!


Master Bedroom Bedding Updates

You can probably picture my Handy Hubby's eyes rolling as he reads this post.  Pillows on the bed are the bane of his existence.  Of course, I adore pillows on the bed because it makes the cozy and inviting. He shouldn't complain about that, right?

For a while I have been considering adding Euro size pillows to the back of the pillow arrangement. I felt the bed needed a little more height because of the headboard. The issue hasn't been quite as pronounced since I upholstered the headboard and footboard though (more on that project here).

So, here's my updated bedding - new duvet cover at the foot of the bed from the Pottery Barn Outlet (pattern is Sydney Palampore and it's ). On a sad note, the Pottery Barn Outlet in Leesburg, Virginia where I bought these a few weeks ago, is closing next week. {Tears}

And here's a way before of the bedroom...

I've got a few more changes up my sleeve for this room. Might take a couple of weeks to implement since I forced myself into "minimal spending in January so we can spend money on some big stuff." UGH. I hate budgets but it will be worth it when you see what we're planning.

I also added a great magazine basket to the reading corner, also from the Pottery Barn Outlet.

I spent quite a few hours here between Christmas and New Years as I devoured The Hunger Games trilogy. Have you read it? I haven't read anything since coming down from my reading high.  I need some recommendations. (Yes, I've read The Help - loved it too!)


Alex's Big Boy Room: Source List

So, after yesterday's big reveal post, here's the (hopefully) comprehensive source list, and some additional information on some of the details. The room is by no means "done" (is any room ever done?), but it's fully functional and the main pieces are in place. Window treatments are next on the list I think.

I hope you find this helpful but maybe not since I have had a lot of the pieces for quite a while and I tend to buy at deep-discount stores (Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc.) so it's hard to find the same piece a second time but you never know!

Source List - Alex's Room

Paint - Walls (top) - Serious Gray by Sherwin Williams in flat mixed in HGTV paint (no VOCs and available at SW stores); board & batten molding and trim - Duron Toque White 7003 mixed in Sherwin Williams Harmony (no VOCs) paint in semi-gloss.  More on the trim work here.

Furniture (bed, leather chair, night stand, white cabinet, dresser, and bookshelf) - hand-me-downs or purchased second hand at Goodwill or on Craigslist. Most will undergo some sort of makeover in the next few months... or year... more to come obviously!

Madras Plaid Quilt - TJ Maxx
Pirate Pillow Sham - TJ Maxx
"Alex" Pillow - Little Bit Funky Etsy Shop
Comforter - Tommy Hilfiger
Sheets - Tommy Hilfiger Carson Patriotic Lobster

Dog Prints by Daniel Kessler - Purchased at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C.
Poster over the Bed - National Book Festival (available on eBay occasionally) - off the shelf frame from Michael's.
Cordless Cellular Shades - Lowe's (love these!)

Madras Plaid Pillow - Macy's
Fleece Blanket - Ross
Pepsi Box - Yard sale

Caboose Print - B&O Rail Museum
Table Lamps - Stiffel 
"A" & "M" Letters - Marshalls
Bear - Build a Bear (Elizabeth's gift to Alex when he was born)

Leather "A" - Marshall's
Metal Milk Sign - A.C. Moore ($1 on clearance!) - Wilson is my maiden name so it was meant to be!

Closet - Elfa (Container Store)

Rug - Land of Nod

Overhead Light - Seagull Lighting

Please let me know if you need sources for anything else!

Linking to: From My Porch to Yours