Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our dining room

Hi everyone!  I wanted to share our little dining room before the holiday craziness, I know it's been awhile since my last post.  This room is pretty small, and it's the hardest working room in our house.  Lots of stuff happens here, eating, homework, crafts, packaging prints for my business, even folding laundry.  Since we downsized our kitchen by a lot in this house, I had to give up one of our dining tables.  The midcentury table's style fit better in this house, but I'll admit it's form over function.  This table is wobbly, hard to keep clean, and a little dinged up.  At least I don't have to worry about ruining it!  I've spent a lot of time trying to add functionality and beauty to an otherwise bare box of a room with an awkward half wall.  Here is how the room looked when we were in the process of renovating the house:
And here is how it looks today:
One of the main problems with this room is how narrow it is.  Unfortunately, we really need the extra storage that the pieces on the sides provide.  Our tiny useless kitchen offers little cabinet space, so I purchased this beautiful media console from CB2 to use as extra storage for pots, serving pieces, and craft supplies for the kids.  I love this piece so much!
For above the console, I reused our starburst mirror and wall urchins, then added a marble shelf from CB2.  
One day the marble top of this piece will hold fancy liquor bottles, but for now, it's practical for little kids.
I bought a box from Homegoods to hold Ashford's completed homework pages.  Not sure what I'm going to do with it all!  Side note: making a 5 year old do homework pages sucks ass. 
The other side of the room has our vintage cart, which we have crapped up with the Keurig, stand mixer, and coffee mugs.  Also, the wine is stored underneath along with random stuff like placemats. 
We do not have enough counter top space for these things in the kitchen, so having them here is a necessity.  I also want to point out the Ikea plant on the half wall is like a full tree now.  Here's a picture of what it looked like few years ago in Minnesota, seen in the window.  (PS - sweet little Ashford was only 2.5!  Ahhh!)
Man, I miss that kitchen and dining table so badly every day of my life!  Anyway, getting back to the point...here is a look at the space on the other side of the console, just a few short months ago. 
It was a hot mess, and all this junk just sat there during the summer.  During the winter, our huge hibiscus took up this spot, dropping leaves and dried flowers all over the place.  Oh, and Zach loved to play in the dirt.  Awesome!
I decided that enough was enough, and the hibiscus was going to have to tough it out in the attached garage this winter.  I wanted to claim this area back, so I decided to make a little seating and display area using this cool metal coffee table from Target.  (No longer available)
I also needed to stash file baskets underneath, so it works perfectly for less than $50.  
It does work as a seating area, and Zach sits up there sometimes.  When he feels like sitting, that is. 
I put a faux fur on top, then some Target pillows to spruce it up.  Even though we didn't need more lighting, I really wanted to use my capiz pendant to avoid storing it any longer.  Then I found this awesome wire one at World Market when I went to buy a black cord.  I debated the two. 
Ultimately, I liked the capiz because it broke up all the gold, and it looks much nicer lit up.  I ended up using the other one somewhere else, because it was a great deal!  We love having this pendant on at night along with the pole lamp. 
I wanted this area to be a cute spot to display artwork and photos, so I bought this metal memo holder from Target and it does the trick perfectly.  I can use regular clips, and magnetic-back clips. 
For the tiny bit of wall next to the window, I chose three black frames and printed some photos of the boys in black and white.  They are eating donuts in the middle one, and in the other two, they are showing their bellies to fit with the dining room theme.  Ha!
I just love this little spot.  I like having pretty pillows in every room, even the dining room!
Hello! 
The curtain rod is the same as the living room.  We love it, but it's not the easiest to install.  After I put up the picture frames, I wanted to balance them on the other side of the widow.  I bought these square metal shelves from Target (sensing a theme, here?) and put up paper templates to see where I should hang them.
They ended up being the perfect place to store rarely-used but pretty vases, and coffee mugs right by the Keurig. 
The last little spot is the tiny wall in between the kitchen doorway and living room.  I knew I wanted to put the chalkboard here, and some sort of display space. 
I ended up finding this pretty wire memo holder at CB2, and bought a bunch of magnetic clips to use for Ashford's art.  This time of year, it will get cleaned off so we can hang Christmas cards instead.  Love it!
I picked up this black rattan basket and throw blanket from Target (sorry, I just love Target) and we use this all the time when it gets cold on the couch.  You might notice the Pottery Barn zebra rug I've had for 9 years.  This thing is still going strong!  I'll say it over and over - wool rugs from Pottery Barn are the best investment ever!  It definitely has stains now, but it's perfect for this room since it will only get more ruined by my minions.
The last item in the room I wanted to mention is the light.  I was IN LOVE with this light when I found it on Wayfair.  Actually, I found it for much more at a local lighting store, then got it cheaper on Wayfair.  Sadly, it's always filthy and full of gnats because the top of the globes are open.  I'm sort of regretting my purchase!  When the globes are clean, it's beautiful. 
Anyway, that is the dining room.  Since leaving my career in Wisconsin and starting my less lucrative photography business, my motto has always been reuse everything I can.  Most of the accessories in this room were very inexpensive, the only big ticket items were the $900 console and $600 chandelier.  I'm very happy with the way it turned out!  Here are some before and afters, the first being the way the house looked when we first saw it:
Here is during reno, last December at Zach's birthday party, and today:
And the little corner, in September and today:
And just because, here is a photo of the gorgeous morning light we get in here.  I try to never see sunrise, but this kid loves 6:30am!  One thing this house has plenty of, is amazing natural light.  That is huge for me! 
Not to leave the big kid out...here is the dining room hard at work on a typical morning.  Cereal bowls, colored pencils, paper, this is it! 
Have a fabulous December!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Our living room - as done as it gets

I put off sharing my living room for such a long time, because I just didn't think it looked nice enough.  There are always kid things around, and I finally had to accept that this is as done as it gets.
It's the same general layout as the house in Minnesota, except we don't have a door to the garage in between the living and dining areas.  We reused our Ikea wall unit, accessories, lighting, side tables, and console behind the couch, but everything else in here is new.  We needed a new sectional when the original went to live downstairs.  We needed a new rug when I took the orange one for our bedroom.  We needed a huge curtain rod to span the 10 foot window, and white curtains since our old ones were much too cream. 
The wall unit has served us well in both houses.  It's pretty much destroyed by the kids, but you can't tell unless you are right above looking down at the finish.  All in all, it's done wonders for making our boring box living areas look fancier, without the expense of actual built-ins.  I decided to put my treasured pole lamp in between the two 'rooms' to act as a sort of divider, it also puts it front and center instead of putting baby in a corner. 
We really don't have a lot of wall space in here since much of the room is taken up with the wall unit, window, and railing.  For the little stretch of wall shared with the kitchen, I chose to hang some photos of the boys. 
They are so hard to photograph!  I love these gold frames at Target, they are gorgeous and not too expensive.
I've chosen to use a mix of gold, wood, and black in the main areas of the house to unify everything.  I found so much of my d├ęcor at Target, it's just very nice looking and the right price!  With kids ruining things every day, I can't spend a lot.  This rattan mirror from Target is the perfect piece for the top of the stairs. 
The sectional is a soft denim colored fabric, we had it custom made at Walter E Smithe, and it's been perfect for us.  Here are the pillow+sofa fabric swatches against our rug when I was making the decision.  Don't mind the paper plane!  I loved the retro look of the pillow fabric, but it turns out this print isn't really working for me.  The couch fabric is a different blue from the rug, but it looks great in large scale. 
I tried various grays and tans, but I wanted something different.   I also couldn't find a ready made sectional with a simple style in the small footprint we needed, for less than 3k.  We ended up paying $2500 for a custom sectional with warranty, which I think is great.  Rather than getting a matching ottoman, I opted for this one from West Elm because I loved the simple shape and low profile.  Why are all ottomans so tall?  I don't want my feet elevated when I sit, thank you.  Anyway, I like mixing the different pieces for a more eclectic look.  The rug is discontinued from Crate and Barrel, and I wouldn't recommend it, anyway.  It's literally falling apart!  After spending $900, it's irritating to say the least.     
I still want to get new pillows, but I'm waiting for the perfect ones.  I also want to find cooler end tables, but I'm waiting until the little guy is a bit older.  I have done my best with the shelves.  It's a mix of books, photos, and candles for the most part.  There are also some 'tchotchkes' and quite a bit of 'crap holder' baskets down at the bottom. 
I still like to have this little strip of books in rainbow order, it's not 'in' anymore, but it looks pretty. 
The right bookcase has the majority of toys and junk.  I try so hard to purge, but I end up throwing my hands up and dumping it all back into the baskets. 
It's ok, I think this is pretty good for a family home!  I upgraded the standard Hemnes knobs on the tv stand with the mid century star backplate knobs from Rejuvenation.  I love the look!
The dining room has a lot to talk about, so I'm going to save that for another post.  Here is a look at the living room at night.  We don't have a ceiling light, so we really love the Ikea lighting above the unit.  Also, I just love that Amazon commercial on the tv!  Almost makes me cry.  Yes, I was too lazy to turn off the tv.  And there you go!  The most used room in our house. 
The post wouldn't be complete without some before and afters!
When we bought this house, there was not much to be excited about.  The previous owners are very nice people, but the house was very dark and cluttered, with heavy drapes and different carpet in every room.  I could see the potential, but a lot of people probably wouldn't.  Here is a true before and after from when we first saw the house to now.  What a difference!
I can't wait to share my dining room transformation with you all soon.  Have a great week!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Finishing the deck almost killed me

I'm such a damn perfectionist, and I was losing my mind dealing with this deck.  I couldn't imagine sealing over it in the condition it was in, there were a lot of very rough parts on the deck boards particularly around the screws.  I spent foreverrrrr sanding all the screw areas smoother, thinking about the little feet in our family.  Shaun told me I was crazy, but I'm glad I took the time.  I also was totally disgusted by all the red chalk lines everywhere.  Good old deck man told me they would wash right off with soap, no that is not true.  Stop lying.  They were very obvious, and I've come to find out that type of chalk should never be used on visible portions of projects.  Figures.
I went out of my mind trying to get them off, dawn soap, other cleaners, scrub brushes, light sandpaper, even a magic eraser!  I was pretty happy with the magic eraser method initially, it seemed to work great.
Then it dried, and it looked pretty much like I had sanded it off.  Meaning, white blotches on all the boards.  I knew this might happen, since magic eraser is an abrasive, but it was still a bummer. 
Anger!!  After I did my best to remove the most obvious lines, things looked better after we used a deck cleaner on the entire thing.  More about that later in this post.  I had such a hard time trying to figure out what to do as far as the sealer.  Our deck builder recommended Ready Seal, so I got a collection of sample cans of every color (plus fan decks on pine and cedar) through their website.  It was fun to try all the different shades. 
I thought I had it all worked out to do two different shades to try to blend the pine with the cedar.  Here are two scrap pieces that accurately show the difference in color:
I tested a bunch of variances, but I thought doing mahogany on the pine and golden pine on the cedar looked the best...those are the bottom two colors. 
Then I tried doing an entire pine board with mahogany, and it looked awful.  I forgot how much I hate how pine accepts stain.  I also put the golden pine on the ACTUAL railing and hated it!!  I didn't realize as it was going on, but it turned out so orange. 
 I had only sealed the top and right post.  Not that it's hard to tell!
I was cursing myself for over an hour sanding this railing, but I did manage to get it all off.
Thank goodness!  I'm an idiot. 
Then I realized how badly the top of the railings had already turned silver since it was built.  In these photos, I had sanded the edges, not the top.  The difference between them was crazy. 
 I tried using Olympic deck cleaner like my deck builder suggested, but sanding worked much better.
The cleaner also bleached the nice patina that had developed on the pine, so we had to use the cleaner on the entire deck.  I was so annoyed, but it did help with the lighter spots we made from removing the red chalk lines. 
After everything got cleaned with the bleach, we made the decision to just keep it simple and do clear on the entire thing.  It didn't make sense to try to even out the wood tones, and I hated the way the pine accepted any colored stains.  I did compromise by taking a quart of the clear and adding the rest of the 'cedar' sample can to it for just a tiny bit of extra color - only for the top rail along the perimeter.  That top rail had been bleached so badly by the sun, it was almost white.  I think it made a difference in matching the top to the rest of the wood.
 I was very happy with the way it turned out. 
After the railings were all sealed, but before we put the clear on the deck boards:
Even the clear sealer left a very amber look to the cedar, which is not my favorite, but to be expected with an outdoor oil-based product.  And the floor was done in a flash, I initially tried to use a roller, but it used way too much sealer and wasn't any faster.  A large brush and lots of bending was the fastest way.  The final product:
I was a little disappointed by how orange the railings turned out, and how the rough cedar that is wrapped on the outside of the deck is SO dark compared to the rest, but it's really growing on me.  It just looks like wood, and I'll take the natural look of wood over composite or painted decking any day.  Here are some additional photos of how it looks right now:
I love all the knots on the cedar.  I plan to plant tall shrubs/grasses in front of the greenish framing so you don't notice that as much....and eventually, we will put in a patio at the bottom of the stairs running to the edge of the deck.   
 This is the board in particular that is so dark and distracting, but there isn't much we can do about it. 
 Lots of different wood tones in this corner!
And that is the end of my story.  I'm very glad it's over, and I'm sure we will be sealing it every single summer since there isn't much UV protection in a clear coating like this.  Here is a little before and after sealer photo for fun:
If you are curious about Ready Seal, it is a very nice product and very easy to use.  I would definitely recommend it!