Tag Archives: home

The Living Room, Living Room.

Hi. It’s been a while.

People keep asking me if I’ve stopped doing this blog.
Apparently, yes.
But, no, not intentionally.

You see, the thing is, when we moved into our new, 80+ old, bought “as-is” home, I was really excited and thought, there’s so much to do here, I’m going to have soooo much to blog about! But in all reality, there’s been so much to do here, there’s been no time to blog about it! The irony has settled in.

Combine that with finding out within a month of moving that there would be a new family member joining the home this September, and posting about the house got even more challenging. Especially considering I thought I could be super mom-to-be and have this blog and a baby blog…while also maintaining that old full-time job I have as a writer, too. Oh, and I’m still trying to figure out my new camera

Anyway, enough excuses. I owe the blogoshere a little peek into our home thus far.

And since I’ve titled this blog Living Room, it seemed only right to show you….the living room.

So, this is a look at it before we even closed. Luckily, this room was free of the wallpaper that had taken over the rest of the house. But the walls were incredibly bare. The floors, though hardwood, needed to be freshened up. The fireplace was brass. The window curtains had seen better days.

And a few shots with our stuff thrown around, but no “decorating” accomplished.

Now, 6 blood, sweat and tearful (yes, there have been tears…I’m pregnant, too, peeps) months later — it finally feels like our bright, fresh, liveable home.

– I painted the walls Behr Pismo Dunes, which is a grayish, clayish sort of color. I didn’t love it at first, but it’s growing on me.

– We also gave that trim a fresh coat of white to help it pop.

– I painted the fireplace black (transformation and steps here).

– I found the beveled mirror  above the fireplace at Pottery Barn

– We replaced the curtain with blinds, to help show off the beautiful molding around the windows.

– We had the floors in the entire first level refinished for a richer, warmer look.

One of the challenges from the beginning was working with the long shape of the room. With my mom’s help, we found just the right pieces to create a cozy, yet attractive little sitting area in front of the fireplace.

I found the mirrored table immediately, for $40 at Marhsalls.

 And, might I add, it looks awfully similar to this one at Pottery Barn for $250:


The chairs didn’t come so easily. I knew I wanted something simple, and not too large. I love the built-in bookcases, and the last thing I wanted to do was block them. Finally, after months and months of searching, I found ONE chair that I loved at, once again…Marshalls. But, they only had ONE. I bought it anyway, and called my mom and told her how half-way thrilled I was to have THE chair(s) I was looking for. I told her I would have to start searching HomeGoods and TJ Maxx’s across the city until I found its match…or else it would have to go back. Then, the very next day, I got home from work, and guess what was there? The second chair!! My wonderful mom went out on her own and found me the second! You guys don’t understand what a pain in the a$$ this search for the perfect chairs has been for both of us. So I can even tell you how thrilled I was to finally have them!

Then, behind those chairs are the awesome, solid wood, built-in bookcases. And probably the first thing I loved about the house. It’s actually been pretty fun trying to figure how to make the most of them.

One thing that I think is incredibly cool are the antlers (and if you know me, I’m typically not one to find pleasure in the sight of animal remains).

But, Lucas had actually been storing these in the basement of our old home. His dad is a biologist for a local college, and had found them out in the woods in the 70’s. Somehow Lucas ended up with them and thought they’d look cool on our shed in the backyard. He was pleasantly surprised when I told him that I would actually like to have them in our living room.

On the other side of the fireplace, I have a random little mix. I got fancy and created that artwork in Word. I had the birdcage leftover from our wedding, which we used as the envelope drop box. And I found that fish a while back at a local shop called Moonbeams.

I’ve also found a new love for Overstock.com. AKA, the TJ Maxx of the internet. That’s where I got our farmhouse coffee table.

And our apothecary-style TV stand. I was flattered when my aunt ask me if it was an antique, which totally reminded me of that episode of Friends when Rachael keeps buying things from PB but tells Phoebe they’re from flea markets…I digress.

So now, a few before and after looks:


I would still like to get a new couch at some point. But, with the dogs, cats and baby on the way, we’re going to go ahead and hold off on that one. And I would like to find a rug that adds a little more splash of color at some point, but that one works for now. Once again dogs, cats, baby…

Overall, I’m so happy to have this major room completed. It’s so nice to be able to just relax and enjoy the living room I’ve been working for!



Filed under before and after, cottage, decorating, DIY, painting, remodel

Fireplace Transformation

A few people have come to see the house and said, “you’re lucky you have that black fireplace, we have one of those old brass ones, and it’s like $500 for a new one.”  Actually, friends…it was brass. But for $9, and about 45 minutes of my time, I was able to give it a much needed update.

The trick is high-heat paint. It works on surfaces that can reach up to 1200* and is also great for grills, radiators and fire pits.

Once I got the paint, I used painter’s tape to protect the glass and a thin paintbrush to make sure I covered every inch. And, just FYI, this isn’t like your normal latex paint. It’s super runny, so it takes a little getting used to at first. But pretty easy once you get the hang of it!

Once it dries, you have a brand new look…at a totally great price!

And here’s a final peek at where I am with the whole mantel. We have a gorgeous mirror to go above, but due to the old plaster walls, it’s still in waiting to actually be properly hung.
Now I just need some cozy seating beside it, and a good chimney sweep so we can heat it up!


Filed under before and after, decorating, DIY, remodel

You know you’re becoming your parents when…

…you come across your nearly obsolete music collection, and, without hesitation…pack it up and move it to the new home.

From Jock Jams to Jamiroquai, Duran Duran to Dave.
In my basement sit hundreds of memories – organized and honored – all in the form of Compact Discs.

Staring at this bountiful collection gives me a much deeper appreciation for those old Mama’s and Papa’s, Bee Gee’s, and Carpenter’s records that (I’m sure) still exist in my parent’s basement. Those old vinyls were much more than some classic songs my siblings and I would mockingly dance to at the drop of an old stereo needle. They were a soundtrack to my mom and dads’ lives.

And, let’s face it, these CDs are the soundtrack to mine. Even if they’re so scratched listening to them would be unbearable, or I honestly don’t even have a workable a CD player anymore, they’re here to stay.


Because I can still recall my first CD ever – the My Girl soundtrack – and driving west on Manchester with my dad and brother to Streetside Records to pick up a CD of my very own (a very big deal when you’re the youngest of 4 and hand-me-downs are a staple).

And, well, because I still remember the glory that came during the BMG years – when myself, my brothers,  and the rest of the world could purchase 12 CDs for the price of 1! And, no matter how b-grade those free albums were, we did it. And we loved it.

And, then of course, I will always hold a place in my heart for the rise of the fall – Napster.When it first hit the web (before it was deemed unlawful and shut down by the District Court), my college roommates and I would spend hours every night at our duplex on Pimlico, thinking up every song we could ever imagine, and downloading them till our hearts content. The next morning, we’d burn as many “mix” CDs as our old computers could take, the drive around campus, showcasing our newest creations. Those CDs might be the most valuable of all, as each song was chosen with great care and great meaning.

And, of course, beyond the memories of collecting each disc is the memory of listening to each and every song on repeat. I hear Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby, and just like that, I’m sitting on the sandy white Destin beaches during Spring Break ’96. Or Bob Marley Legend, the album that spurs the memory of my family floating on our noodles at our summer lakehouse. Or when I was incredibly sick my senior year of college, and scared of leaving the comforts of my home — my brother-in-law made me a CD with R. Kelly’s World’s Greatest repeated 12 times to lift my spirits. (It worked.) And 0f course, those little, random moments like driving around in my friend Julie’s Saturn blaring Nelly’s Ride Wit Me or dancing away out our duplex in Southridge to n’sync’s Bye, Bye, Bye.

Yep, music – and its subsequent memories – are unforgettable. And though this collection of discs could very easily be transferred into mp3’s on my ipod/iphone in the matter of a night, I have no plans to get rid of them anytime soon. Not only would I be sacrificing the opportunity for my own children to have the experience of getting lost in their parent’s music collection, I would be taking away a glimpse of what this girl was like long before she was ever a “mom.”  (fyi. I’m speaking in future terms with all the “mom” talk)

~ So, now I can’t help but be curious. What songs or albums spark your biggest memories? Do you still have the record/tape/cd to show it? ~

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Filed under happiness, the great indoors, this 'n that

Color On My Mind

When we went to the inspection on our new house, I focused particularly hard on what I was going to do to bring some life to the blank palette before me.
After we left, I headed straight to Home Depot for some color coordination inspiration.

For now, I’m leaning towards a tranquil, yet warm, blue and gray scheme.

There are about 8 billion swatches to choose from –  creating quite a challenge in finding that perfect combination of colors. So I  decided to start where I last finished – my current kitchen. Since it took me 4 shades of blue to get to a color I loved, and I’ve only had about 2 months to really enjoy it, I’m going to carry the perfection of that “Rocky Mountain Sky” into our new home.

Yay! A starting point. So then I decided to keep something neutral for the living room. I (in an anticlimactic fashion) thought that the color of our current dining room matches that blue pretty well.

And though that line of Ralph Lauren paints has been discontinued (which I learned the hard way when we had to touch up around a new thermostat last winter), I found a Martha Stewart color called “Tobacco Leaf” that I think will have the same effect.

Now that I had those two figured out, it was onto the dining room and the den. For some reason, I’ve been craving gray lately. I saw this on Martha’s Stewart’s website and was instantly drawn. Unfortunately, they didn’t tell me the color, only said it was a “mousey gray.”

Right now, I’m thinking this Behr “Granite Boulder” might do the trick in our dining room, as long as it’s not too dark. Or too brown.

And then there’s the den. To carry on my neutral grayish, blue theme, I thinking I need a blue that’s just a tad bit deeper than the kitchen, like Behr “Prelude.” It would also possibly work in the foyer.

So, to put it all together, I played around with a little paint-swatch blueprint. Hmmm. You get the idea.

Or, like this…

But now the dining room is looking more brown than gray, so I might have to rethink that. And there’s also the bathroom. And the upstairs will soon follow after all of this is figured out. Ahh, decisions, decisions.

At least I’m getting closer. And I have all sorts of great people offering to help get it on the walls in return for some pizza and wine. Plus, it’s only paint, so if one doesn’t work, we’ll (I’ll) try, try again!


Filed under decorating, DIY, painting, remodel, the great indoors

Kitchen Before & After

1 coat of primer, 3 shades of blue, 6 trips to Home Depot, and 5 laborious days later…and my kitchen is red no more.

Last week I proudly blogged my little red heart out, declaring my new love for blue and how I was going to transform my kitchen with one swift stroke of a brush (read here).

Not so much. What seemed like a simple enough project ended up taking me all week. It all started with Behr Snow Leopard:

It took one wall and about 20 minutes to decide this color was not going to work. It was so light that it was almost white, and it left the room feeling drab. Even when I bought it I thought it was too light, but my buddies at Home Depot swore to me it would appear much darker once it was up. Nope. Not so much. The name should have been my first clue. You don’t hear about blue snow leopards very often….

So I headed back and chose the next “blue” on the swatch — Pensive Sky

Much. Much. Much better. I was starting to like it. Lucas, however, was not.

He still thought it looked too white. And since I wasn’t 100% in love, his opinion was enough to make me put down the brush and try yet again. Only this time, I got smarter.

I couldn’t decide if the THIRD color on the swatch (Rhino) was going to be enough, or if I needed a whole new swatch altogether. So, I purchased two handy little sample sizes, and tried ’em out:
Rhino vs. Rocky Mountain Sky

And the winner — Rocky Mountain Sky.

It ended up being the perfect bluish-gray combo to create a contrast against my white cabinets and the new white chair rail I created. Plus, it’s a nice complement to the floor.  

And, I changed our light-switch plates, which I found at Target, and gave the room an extra updated touch.

So, here’s the before and after! That crazy-hard work paid off. I’m loving the new, soft and modern feel.







I’m loving it, and my only regret is not doing it sooner. I love the way the pictures now pop off of the walls (I’m sure you noticed I’ve switched a few things around), the way everything looks so clean, and the way that it’s finally, finally finished!


Filed under before and after, decorating, DIY, remodel

Clay & Cotton

Remember way back when, when I did a little post on some of the fun, new shops in Kirkwood? One thing I mentioned was that Clay & Cotton would soon be celebrating its grand opening. Well, I just got an email reminding me to check it out September 23-26. Plus, a portion of all proceeds from the weekend are going to be donated to Stray Rescue! What better reason to stop on by?

And… if you just can’t wait another 8 days to see all they have to offer, this weekend also happens to be a great time to stop in. Because while you’re there, you can stop by the Green Tree Festival for food, fun, crafts, dog shows, beer gardens, dancing, music, kettle corn, contests, adoptable pets, games, kabobs…

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Filed under around town, decorating, shop with me

Could Target Become 2nd Best?

Tonight, I had a revelation.

I love Target. I always have. I always will.

I take pride in being one of those girls who goes in for toothpaste, and comes out with $250 worth of new-found treasures I never knew I couldn’t live without.

But tonight…that unyielding swipe of my credit card went to someone else:

And it wasn’t the first time.

It was a simple “return” trip. The kind that I would  frequently take to Target. I was bringing back an RL tablerunner I found over the weekend, which upon putting on my table, realized was about 24 inches too short.

So, on my way to the grocery store, I decided to stop by TJ’s and simply return the runner for the $12.99 I had paid. (okay, and maybe to check out a pair of boots that had caught my eye over the weekend, too. But that was it. Really. It was.)

And then I strolled. And saw some soap…

$4.99 for something that looks way cooler than some the brand-name stuff I’d find at Target? I mean, it’s “harvest bliss,” so I had to have it…

And an owl ($4.99).

And a green colander ($9.99).

And an absolutely necessary ceramic sugar holder ($6.99).

For a grand total of $26.96 +tax, I had found myself a pretty nice little combination of new home decor. Happy me. :)

Woah. Wait a second..did I? Yes, I did. I went to TJ Maxx for a return, and left spending twice as much as I was going to get back. Oops. I had just pulled a Target….

And then that scary idea came to my mind:
Could Target Become MY SECOND Best?”
The answer? If for no other reason than I kinda get sick to my stomach just typing those words, I’m gonna say…not so much. Whew. Much better. But, each store does have its own reason for being (as in, being a large chunk of my credit card bill each month).

So, let’s take a look:

Target: So, if I rewind back to this weekend, the whole reason I went to TJ Maxx was to buy a new outdoor tablecloth for our patio furniture. Did I ever find that tablecloth? No. Because when you go to TJ Maxx, you never know what you’ll find. At Target, you know. You also know that you’re guaranteed to find things that are stylish and in-season. Not always the case with TJM. And, had I needed a tablecloth and some mascara, Target would have been my choice from the start. (if I did find a tube of mascara at TJM, I can’t say I would feel comfortable purchasing it…their beauty products tend to give me an old, thrift-store-esque vibe. ya know?)

TJ Maxx: The ultimate treasure hunt. Now, I may not wish to buy beauty products from there…but jeans – H*LL yes! At Target, you might find a fashion designer’s dumbed-down version of clothing, but at TJM, you get the real thing, at a great price! (my favorite pair of Joe’s is from there, actually). And that goes for everything, from Frye boots, to Peugot watches, to Calphalon cookware. Plus, while both stores offer a huge variety, at TJM, you can kind of think that what you’re finding is one-of-a-kind (or at least a whole lot closer).

In short, I couldn’t live without either one. They both have their purpose, and both have a huge presence in my home. And, frankly, that’s the way I like it. :)

So, for now…the rankings shall remain:
Target, #1
TJ Maxx, #2

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?
Is there something even better out there??

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Filed under around town, shop with me, the great indoors, this 'n that