Master Bedroom: Built-ins (yes, I'm addicted)

It's official - no room in our house is safe from built-ins! The master bedroom is no exception. Our television needs a home and this messy corner is the only real option. 

Much like the other built-ins around our house, we'll have a cabinet with doors below and some open shelving above. The TV will go in the open middle and sit a few inches higher than where it does now.   Handy Hubby has already made a good start on it thanks to a rainy, cool weekend.

Why do I love built-ins?  I love that I don't have to hunt down the perfect piece of furniture to fit in the exact right way into the space - custom built-ins always fit perfectly.  I also love that you an maximize the the space in the way that you need it to work - and it can flexible when you need to move shelves, add doors, etc.  Finally, the cost of building them is rarely more than a few hundred dollars, but the value-added to our house is certainly as much.

More porch updates tomorrow hopefully.

Happy Birthday to my Dad!!


Family Room: Pillow Joy

Not sure why but new throw pillows give me a lot of joy. Since we got our new sectional almost a month ago, it quickly became clear that we needed some new throw pillows. Of course, I have seen some gorgeous pillows at HomeGoods and Marshalls over the past few months but when I go to buy them, they are all gone.

Then I decided it would be better to figure out the additional seating in the room before buying new throw pillows.   Then I stumbled on Target’s new line of pillows and fell madly in love. LOVE. First I came home with these pretty linen and teal embroidered pillows.

I think they were $24.99.  They also had some pretty coral and linen pillows that I left behind. DRAT. Went back to find them again and they were GONE.  So I settled on the basic gold linen which pulls in the gold background in the sofa fabric and of course gold and yellow run throughout nearly every room in my house. 

The great thing about pillows is their mobility between rooms, purposes, and floors. Pillows that once lived in our guest room now live in our basement playroom, and another set of guest room pillows did some stand in work while I hunted for new pillows and strategized about the chairs.

Not sure if the stripes are going to stay because they go better with the old sofa. 

And about the chair situation. I am undecided and it could continue this way for a while. It’s also not a priority because we still have one of our two green arm chairs living in the family room. It’s perfectly fine there but I am watching for budget alternatives at every turn. Believe me.  So, if you see me at HomeGoods body-checking old women out of the way to get to a steal-of-the-century chair, please excuse my indiscretions.

The verdict on the sectional is LOVE. It’s a really small sectional (only 88” x 89”) but it lives much larger. We haven’t had a crowd of people over but I’m curious to see how that all works out. Elizabeth’s birthday party in April should be a great test.

In other news I finally sold my playroom sofa so now I an reorganize things down there. Fun!!


Porch: Demolition Complete & Brick Harvesting

The demolition on our porch is now complete and we’re quickly moving into the next phase. Let’s hope the weather holds for the week so we can get concrete poured and the masonry work can be finished, so we can get to the fun stuff. 

As we did in our renovation, we are reusing brick wherever possible. Our hope is that we can match the brick on the front half of the porch – basically patching in the front where the porch extends an additional three and a half feet beyond it’s current footprint.  The bricks are coming from the north end of the porch which will be covered by new masonry shortly. The workers are harvesting bricks from the side wherever possible so they can be reused. We even still had a few bricks leftover from our renovation which may or may not be used. We will likely have to do a new section of brick behind the fence line. It shouldn’t be noticeable because there won’t be any sightlines with the new and old brick showing in the same plane.

You may be wondering why we are extending the screen porch only 3.5 feet. That’s the most we could do under our existing zoning and we did not want to have to get a variance. We are going to be so close to the line that we are required by the County to get another survey done to ensure that our foundation does not extend too close to our neighbor’s property.  Our lot is only 7000 square feet (not a bad size for Arlington actually) so we have to maximize every inch!!

I have to say that the sun streaming into our living room is shocking. It’s amazing how much light a porch can block out and how dark it has made our living room.  We hope that replacing our shed roof with a peaked roof will help more sun to shine through. The skylight should also help but will not likely make as much of an impact inside as it will on the porch.

This picture gives you a little bit of an idea of how much darker it was before - notice I had every light on.

I’m already looking for a few new pieces of porch furniture to supplement what we already have.  I really want an indoor/outdoor feeling. I'm sure the curtains are going to go back up. I'm hoping I'll be able to use the same panels and rods I had before but fortunately all of them are from Ikea and still available so if i need to add to them, it won't be a problem.  Finding a table of the right dimensions may prove the trickiest part.  You can follow my shopping process on Pinterest!


Living Room: Hello Beauty

I cruised through HomeGoods a couple of weeks ago hoping to hit on something to kickstart my living room coffee table d├ęcor.  I quickly headed to the glassware wall and spotted this beautiful blue glass vase. Hello Beauty.  She practically jumped into my cart.  It's huge and for $16.99, it was well worth it.  I sped through the rest of the store but didn’t find a thing I wanted or needed. 

I had been hoping to find a large blue vase and there it was. I was also hoping to find a new tray but Handy Hubby may have to make what I want because I’m not sure it exists or at least not in my cheap-o price range.  My tray obsession continues. For coffee tables, trays seem to work so well because they can be easily cleared to make room for snacks, drinks, puzzles, or a vicious game of Uno (Elizabeth's current obsession).

Of course I already had to fish one of Alex’s many Cars vehicles out of my beautiful new vase. Fortunately I caught him as he tried to initiate the rescue mission himself!

Happy Monday!


Den: Closet Organization (Part 1 of 40?)

There are loads of projects to be done in the den closet. This is and always will be a catchall closet for, well, everything.  One of its purposes is to hold all of my wrapping supplies. With 2 kids at prime birthday party ages, we use this stuff constantly.  I wanted to first tack the ribbon which was exploding all over the closet. 

I even found more ribbon in the dresser that I made over for the room a couple of weeks ago (more on that here).  This stuff has been in the attic for a couple of years but still perfectly useable for all sorts of upcoming crafts and gift wrapping.

I corralled everything by making use of the clothing bar which runs the full length of the closet. Fortunately we have Elfa closets in here too, so I was originally going to switch it out for a shorter bar like I did in Alex's closet (more on that here).  Instead, I decided to just keep the long bar and use it for my large and most frequently used curling ribbon.  It's so easy to pull a long strand and snip off the right amount!
I also used some inexpensive baskets and boxes to keep smaller rolls of ribbon, scissors, tape, tissue paper, and small cards and labels.

I also cleaned out my gift bag collection and corralled the remaining bags into a basket that I "won" at a school auction last year. It held a collection of children's books before but it's size is ideal for this purpose.
My rolls of gift wrap are still kept in another basket on the other side of the closet. Nothing special so not really worth a photo but I'll try to get one soon! It works really well for me because I like to quickly grab a roll then toss it back in the basket when I'm done!

Any great gift wrapping organization ideas?  What are you organizing this week?


Porch: Demolition

Demolition started yesterday. It was pretty awesome to come home to work and see this...

When we saw this corner, we knew we were doing the right thing by ripping this off and replacing it with something more solid. I'm not an expert but that looks like termite and water damage.

I find demolition so satisfying even if I'm not the one with the sledgehammer. Even watching other people do demolition is satisfying because the progress is so quick.  Of course, it's even better when it's outside and doesn't effect your daily life... and it's 80 degrees. In March. Yes, I love this weird winter and you will never hear me complain.


Den: A little burst of yellow

Although I love the cool tones of the gray and teal in our den (office/guest room), I really enjoy yellow. Actually, yellow is my favorite color with blue as a close second.  Anyway, since I made the cornice board with the bold yellow fabric (more on that here), I am working on some other ways to bring in pops of yellow and fun to keep the room from getting too serious.  

While browsing Crate & Barrel for a housewarming gift for a friend, I stumbled upon the "last chance" rack of deeply discounted merchandise. I found this little vase which I had actually been eyeing at the full price.  It had a little chip at the top but since I knew I wanted to use it on the bookshelves in the den, I figured I could save the $4 and buy the slightly flawed version.

I made the chip slightly less noticeable with the help of a Sharpie.

It doesn't disappear, but it does disappear when you put it on a shelf with the chip to the back!

Sorry about the funky color!  I'll try to fix it later today.


Screen Porch: Jumping in!

Here we go...

These are the official "before" pictures. We took the dive and signed a contract with a builder (Jim Cole who built our addition and finished our basement). Despite getting several bids, his was competitive and since we know we like his work it made sense to use him again.

Work should start this week! The whole project is projected to take 4 weeks.


Den: Adding a Door to the Bookshelves

Fortunately 99% of the work involved in transforming our nursery to a den (home office + guest room) was cosmetic.  The one exception was that I wanted to add a door to the lower right shelf. I love open shelving but we had more than enough in this room, and sometimes you just need to store ugly stuff like extra paper, labels, and other office supplies.  Yes, I understand you can buy pretty storage for this stuff but it doesn't always go into those pretty containers the way it should - especially if you have kids!

You can see the shelf at issue in the lower right hand corner of the above picture.  A few hours of work by Handy Hubby and we had this.

I got lucky and found another knob like the others at our local hardware store. Then I need to paint it all white and it will blend in a bit more and seem more seamless and intentional.

Other than the knob (about $2), we had the wood and door left over from our old kitchen. Handy Hubby rounded it over with a router to mimic the drawers.  I'll be sure to share once it's painted out - hopefully by next week!

I have a whole bunch of other tweaks I want to make in this room. Next up is a rug I think. Sofa will have to wait a few more months but I have it picked out I think.


Family Room: Sectional Love

So, we bought a sectional for our family room. It arrived last Thursday only about 12 hours before we left for Pittsburgh. It was love at first sight.

So, why did I replace a 2 year old couch which had nothing wrong with it?  The truth is that it never felt like the right sofa for our family room. It was small - like a love seat - so there was never enough room. Even my two little kids would fight about who had more space on the couch. It drove me nuts. That sofa is going to have a good home in our play room.  Handy Hubby is investigating 12-step programs for furniture buying addictions.

Back to the family room. Here's our sofa-less family room waiting patiently for its new leader.  Handy Hubby would not let me include a picture of him vacuuming the rug!

And now with the new sofa...

I started looking for a new sofa in the early fall. I realized that what I wanted more than anything was a sectional that our little family of four could snuggle up on to watch movies on a Friday night.  Once again, I took a huge leap of faith and bought it without sitting on it. I looked at a lot of different brands but finding a sofa that was small enough for our family room was the most challenging part.  I couldn't find anything locally, so I went for it.  Like the green chairs in the family room, it was made by Lee Industries that also made the green chairs in the family room.  This is a high-quality brand made in North Carolina.  I love the fabric which is a blue-gray with threads of of gold-tan. So pretty, and perfect with the other colors in our house. It also works really nicely with the rug.

For those interested in the details, it's model number 3970-23RF Cornering Sofa and 3970-19LF One Arm Love Seat in fabric Bart Sea. It's almost the same size on both sides - about 88" so it fits nicely in our room without dominating the space.   We can also move it to the other side of the room if we choose to, but I like the view towards the back of the house more than the view towards the front!

Of course, this purchase invites all sorts of other purchases like a new coffee table, throw pillows, and a new accent chair... but all in good time.

In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing our play room sofa or chair, please let me know. :) 


City of Bridges & Fun at Home

I took the kids to see my old friend Anne and her adorable family in Pittsburgh this weekend. Handy Hubby had to work and take care of some things at home, so I packed up the kids early Friday morning and headed west.  This was our first trip to visit Anne in her new city so we were excited to check out.  My kids also enjoyed 4.5 hours of movie time thanks to our minivan's DVD player, and I enjoyed 4.5 hours of near silence!  I have finally come around to early morning departures for road trips. You get most of the trip out of the way before most people are awake!

Once we got there, we spent lots of time hanging out with Anne and her daughters at their beautiful brand new house in Wexford, but also got a chance to really check out the city from a trip down (and up) the Duquesne Incline. From there it was really easy to see why Pittsburgh is known as the City of Bridges.

My kids counted about 10 bridges from there which was great fun for them of course.

Next we hit the Carnegie Science Center which was completely amazing. We could have spent 6 hours there!  Instead we spent 4 and saw a ton of stuff - our kids were TIRED by the time we left.

We are already looking forward to our next visit!

Of course, just before we left, I turned our house upside down. Here's a preview!

Can you guess what's up?

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh?


Fast Fix Friday: Updating a Painted Dresser

This is a great low-effort project that made all the difference in our upstairs den, which is a combination home office and guest room. We’ve made a lot of progress in our den, (it was previously our children’s nursery) but most of the work so far has focused on the desk and bookshelf wall – basically “the office” part of the room. Now it’s time to start looking at the other parts of the room.

Throughout the nursery-to-den conversion process I’ve been trying to keep the costs low or non-existent. This project is no different. We started with a pretty blank slate, but knew that we needed some storage for our guests when this is used as supplemental sleeping space for visitors. I may end up using the bottom drawer for craft storage or giftwrap supplies currently stored in the messy closet. We will have some hanging space in the closet once it’s cleaned up, but a dresser is handy too. Fortunately, we had this old dresser hanging out in our (very messy) attic. In fact, when I opened the drawers, it was still loaded with giftwrap supplies. I guess I bought new ones and totally forgot I had these!

The dresser lived in our guest room prior to our renovation and in our two apartments before that – both as a media stand and as a dresser in our second bedroom/office. The dresser originally came from my grandmother’s basement and may have belonged to her mother before that. It was originally painted a hideous brown/black color that I stripped off before moving it to our apartment. So, long story short… it’s really old. (My blog readers may also recognize the mirror that now resides in our half-bath!)
Unfortunately the dresser was not in great shape. My Handy Hubby went to work regluing joints, fixing the drawers, and making sure the drawers slid more easily and didn’t fall out too easily. It wasn’t much work fortunately. I decided not to fill any of its exterior imperfections because I liked its rustic-ness.

These dovetail joints are so neat, I had to show them.

Next I gave the whole thing a very light sanding. Then I brushed on three thin coats of metallic dark gray-silver paint with about 2 hours of dry time between each.

It didn’t look so hot after the first coat but my experience with metallic paint on my bathroom ceiling taught me that the coverage is poor but patience pays off. Fortunately it dries quickly so you can do multiple coats in a day. Honestly, this could have probably used one more coat but I’m not going to sweat it since this is the guest room.
Just a few hours before my parents arrived for the weekend, we moved the dresser into place.

The hardware was picked up at a local hardware store for about $20 for 10 knobs. I only needed 6 but it was a better deal than buying them individually. I love how they highlight the metallic paint. With a little bit of styling I think it really works in this room both for function and design.

I purchased the original watercolor from a wonderful artist at the Adirondack Balloon Festival. It has been waiting to find a home in my house until now. The mat works perfectly with the wall color and the frame was given to me by mom for another project but it works well for this one so I decided to use it here instead.

I still want to line the drawers with pretty paper so guests do not have to worry about snagging their clothes on the slightly rough drawer bottoms. Now I just have to save my pennies for a rug and pull-out sofa!

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