December 19, 2013

our holiday decor

I'm not a big seasonal decorator so I usually keep it pretty simple, but now that we have a house I like to make it feel a little festive, especially in the fall and winter months. With the cold weather and short days, we spend a lot more time indoors, so why not make it feel happy inside? I was late on the Christmas decor since the month of December seemed more like a week, but I finally got it done. The fall decor was warm and colorful, a lot different than the Christmas stuff, and I kind of miss it: Fall Decor Post

But enough about that. Since I had no time to plan or make anything, I reused the pine cones we already had and decorated with ornaments and lights. Maybe next year when I do a little more planning I'll have something more thought out like my friend Meghan at Meggie Frue, I love the rustic, outdoorsy feel, and I can't believe I didn't think of decorating with cinnamon, genius!

When we first moved into our house last year, we had an empty house except for a real tree and wreath, so we decided to do the same this year. Besides that, the decorations were kept to a minimum: I wrapped the banister, added something to the dining room table, and of course did a lot of outdoor lights. That's our favorite thing to do, I mean, favorite thing to look at, doing the outdoor decorating isn't exactly fun when the sky is dumping snow every day. I'll leave the outdoor lights to the imagination, I need to leave something for my family to look forward to seeing when they come for the holidays! Disclaimer: It gets dark out early, so I'm testing my nonexistent indoor/night photo taking abilities here. You'll have to trust me that everything does not have a yellow tint to it in real life.

Here's the tree and wreath! The trunk was too big for our stand so the husband stood there holding the tree while I went out and got a different stand. Lesson learned, bring the stand when tree shopping. We got the basic wreath, so I added some pine cones and a bow.

I had three hanging flower pots on our porch all summer and when I took them down, it seemed empty. So I decided to do something with them for the holidays. I got poinsettias and styrofoam cubes at Jo-Ann's Fabric and Craft Store, and basically stuck the flowers and leaves in the cubes. It was really simple, inexpensive, and took at most ten minutes. This picture doesn't do them justice, they added some much needed 'Christmasiness' to our porch.

I added some table centerpieces, a sugar cookie Yankee candle (obviously), and banister lights. I guess it's not a lot, I've been to homes that have something holiday related on every shelf, but I don't have that kind of inventory, less is more, right? I also realize that my reflection is in every close up shot of the ornaments, yup, can't take pictures of shiny balls. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2013

bar carts and consoles

I've been thinking about bar carts recently, I think they're pretty fabulous. I associate them with fancy cocktail parties, the holidays, and Mad Men ... all of which I love. I've been seeing them at West Elm and Crate & Barrel and really liked the idea of having a little bar area, and when my sister mentioned she liked the look, I was sold. They look classy and I thought I had the perfect spot for one, an underutilized corner of our dining room. The only problem was the price, for such small pieces of furniture bar carts are pretty expensive. I fell in love with every single one I saw, but none were just right:

1. This one's pretty close to what I wanted but it's just too large for our corner.

crate & barrel

2. The size is good, but it's too much wood and is kind of outrageously priced.

crate & barrel

3. Loved this online but it looked kind of cheap in person, so I didn't bother taking it home.
Threshold™ Wood and Brass Finish Bar Cart

4. This is technically not a 'cart' but it's really narrow and seemed to be the perfect fit.
Rustic Acacia Console
west elm

I had some discounts for West Elm and ended up ordering the wood console, which I really thought would look good in our dining room. When it came in, the husband and I put it together and moved it in the dining room and then living room. The console was way too narrow, a little wobbly (not risking bottles on top of it), and it was an awkward height. There was something off about it.

I was sad to see it go, but I realized we needed something really small as our mobile bar. We wouldn't have space for necessarily mixing drinks and storing many bottles on the cart, but the idea was to keep some of the favorites handy. Instead of looking for bar carts, I began searching for just carts. I checked out World Market, a store previously recommended by my friend Lauren who works at Arhaus, which has a rustic but 'clean' style (kind of like mine). I ended up finding not one but two carts that I loved and went with a metal one that the husband chose.

world market

It looks pretty cool and rustic, but a bit sad and kind of under-cooked in a corner. I obviously didn't think this through because alcohol bottles and an ice bucket wouldn't fit on the intermediate shelves. So I put the bottles on their side and moved the bucket to a cabinet in the kitchen. There was something missing, so I got a few Ikea plants and stuck them on the bottom and intermediate shelves.

I like that it fits everything and squeezes nicely in the corner, anything bigger than this would make walking around the dining room table a pain. I also love that there's now some green in the room (even if it's fake). The wall to the left of the cart needs something, but I haven't quite figured that out so I'll leave it alone for now. A few more bottles, and we'll be ready for the holidays!

December 3, 2013

hallway corner decor

Our upstairs hallway is tiny and there's not much space for anything besides walking to the rooms and opening doors. That's what hallways are for, circulation, but now that we have pictures all along the staircase, it seemed a bit empty. I pretty much forgot about it since there are other parts of the house that still need some TLC. Here's the lonely corner:

One weekend when I was returning something at HomeGoods, I saw this bright turquoise corner cabinet that immediately made me think of the empty hallway corner. On my way to find someone to help me, I stumbled upon an identical one in a more muted color, an blueish-greenish gray. I knew I had to bring it home to see if it fit, and I could always return it if it didn't.

It looked really empty above the cabinet, so I thought I'd just imitate the staircase wall and hang some frames randomly. I used the same style white Ikea frames and hung them in a similar pattern to the staircase.

There was still something missing. I thought a small lamp might brighten up the hallway at night and make the cabinet look less useless, because let's face it, it's just filling an empty corner. I got the ivy plant from Ikea, and found the lamp on sale at Target on a very successful shopping trip with a friend.

Here it is at night:

The hallway and staircase are complete! Now let's hope I can keep the ivy alive ...

November 26, 2013

centerpiece wall art

Our sectional is against a big blank wall, and it's in need of a little something. Hanging one painting that's around 100" wide seems a bit overwhelming, and there's so many options, abstract, landscape, famous art, mirror, wall sculpture, gallery wall. I think broken up wall art works best on a wall that size, but I decided to try a few options before making a final decision, obviously.

1. The husband mentioned hanging a huge print from our engagement shoot, but that would make us seem conceited, right? I love the picture, but there's no way this is happening.

2. We could do a large map like this one from Restoration Hardware. I fell in love when I saw it hanging in the store, but there's two problems with it, it's a little too 'vintage' and it's way too expensive. Oh, and it looks boring.

3. We could do broken up maps (or paintings) like the ones I found at Ballard Designs. They have more color and I like having three smaller ones hanging versus one large one. 
 ballard designs

4. We could continue the idea from the staircase and hang a white frame gallery wall. It looks fine, but it seems to get lost on the huge wall. I think we need something with a little more intensity.

5. We could do a more organized gallery wall using darker frames. It brings in the dark wood we have in our living room and it would allow us to display more pictures, but it does have potential to get busy. Also, I'm not sure I am capable of hanging an 'organized' gallery wall.

6. We could hang one large painting that ties in all the colors of the living and dining rooms. It would bring the room to life and make it look more cohesive.

7. I could wait and see what I find at HomeGoods.

8. I could paint something myself.

I would like to have something hanging before Christmas so I don't think I'll leave it to chance. I'm leaning towards 5, dark frame gallery wall, and 6, one cohesive painting. The gallery wall gives us another opportunity to dig up some old photos, and the one large painting brightens up the room and brings in all the colors. I have a feeling the gallery wall will win this one, it's less expensive and we are be able to change the photos as much as we like. This is the kind of project I look forward to, quick and easy!

November 21, 2013

more on the front door

No, we didn't paint the front door yet, but it's definitely happening sometime before Christmas.  It's dark outside when we get home from work these days, and since painting in the dark is not an option, we have a few precious weekends for our favorite pastime, painting. That's sarcasm, we don't like painting, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not excited about changing up the front door. I listened to some family suggestions and wanted to try some options that haven't crossed my mind before. I know, why don't I just go get some paint and be done ... well, there's a good explanation for why I'm over-thinking this. Our neighborhood was built around the same time and a lot, if not most, of the houses are brick colonials. They're all pretty similar, but each owner added a little something to make their home unique. Painting the front door is a small change that will make a huge impact on the look of our home, but it's also easy to repaint so we're not stuck with something we hate forever. Based on the previous door color post and new suggestions, these are the finalists:

Taupe: This is a light brown/off-white color that reflects what's going on inside, which is basically beige everywhere. 
Verdict: Although it really grew on me, I'm thinking it may be a little too mellow for the front door.

Yellow: Photoshopping a yellow door is really difficult, this is not the yellow I was imagining. Think a deep, warm, almost golden yellow that works well with the green shutters.
Verdict: It's bright and happy, but probably way too risque for our neighborhood.

Eggplant: This color is a darker shade of purple, and it really works nicely with the dark green shutters on our home. 
Verdict: I like this option a lot, but the husband may need some convincing since purple is not his color.

Green: The green door would match our existing green shutters, which would really make the house look nice and traditional.
Verdict: Besides leaving the door white, this is definitely the safest choice, but it does bring up the issue of trying to match the existing green.

Clearly, we have some decisions to make, but I won't be revealing anything until the painting is done. I never thought I'd look forward to painting something!

November 19, 2013

our sectional is here

After months of a patience testing backorder, we finally have our 'Levin' Room & Board sectional!

Let me start by saying it's really comfy, we like soft cushions and these down-filled ones are not disappointing. Since it's a pretty big sectional, I was worried it would take over the room and all you'd see is a sofa, but the color lets it blend in and it doesn't dominate at all. I love the fabric, its got the durability and softness of microsuede without the marks that are created every time you touch it. I have no idea what to call this phenomenon so below is a Google image to show the imperfections of microsuede, I'd go crazy brushing the lines away all the time:


I've mentioned before that finding a sectional was tough, because I'm less than average height and the husband is more than average height. It may sound ridiculous, but it's a real problem (kind of like short people trying to find tall boots, but that's a story for another day). I wanted to curl my legs up and the husband wanted to sit without his knees overhanging too much, so a deep seat cushion was a must. After we visited the store, we knew we had to get the Levin sectional because it fit us both perfectly.

The back is low so it supports the neck and head when you're lounging, and the seat cushions are deep allowing both of us to sit comfortably. At first I thought the low back cushions were just the mid-century modern look, but there's really a reason, it's comfy.

See what I did there with the red pillow and red china cabinet? And the blue pillow and chairs and the blue dining room rug?

We've had it for about four weeks now, here are my thoughts so far:

-  With regular fluffing, it retains its shape but stays soft.
- The fabric is holding up well; it does not pill and vacuums easily.
- It's really comfortable and you don't really need extra pillows behind your back for extra support.
- It stays in tact, meaning we don't have to keep moving the cushions back into place.
- It fits all our guests!

- I can't flip the left seat cushion and the right lounge cushion because of the way they are cut.
- We have to be careful about snacking on the sofa so it doesn't get really dirty.
- It's blocking a vent and I'm not sure how that's going to affect it long term. However, you can still feel the warm/cold air flowing under the sofa.

Now, about this huge blank wall ...

November 14, 2013

framed hallway pictures

A few weeks ago (maybe a few months ago now), I hung fifteen frames on the wall adjacent to our staircase. Since then, I've added three more small frames, and began figuring out what pictures I want to put in them. I realized it's not as easy as just sticking a bunch of pictures in the frames, since I have to know the sizes and whether they're horizontal or vertical. Plus, most people keep their pictures digital, including me, and printing them is an extra step I usually don't take. It's really a shame that we take so many pictures but never print them.

Besides working on the staircase wall, I did something about all the frames we had on our living room bookshelf. I spray painted the frames white and added more updated pictures. I've been seeing the look of white frames and accents on bookshelves on different decorating blogs, and I thought it would make our bookshelf look less hodgepodge. Here's a picture before I spray painted the frames:

I ordered all the pictures from Snapfish and I gotta say, the quality is awesome. My only complaint is that delivery took forever ... delivery tracking showed the packages being held up in Philadelphia, so it may not be Snapfish's fault. I didn't realize when I was buying all the Ikea frames that the sizes are a bit funny, but I made it work and ordered the closest standard photo sizes to the not-so-standard frames. Here are the results:

And the bookshelf, with a little more organization ...

I've decided that I am going to fill our home with pictures. This small project showed me how many great photos we have of our family, our friends, our vacations, and we don't get to see any of it. I'll admit that I'm not a fan of stuff laying around, and I've mentioned before that I really believe less is more, but I don't think I'll get sick of seeing our memories on the walls.

November 12, 2013

changing the front door

We were going to change our front door to allow more light in and have a more similar look to the rest of the house, instead of a half-round window we wanted a rectangular one. But once quotes started coming in, we realized we didn't want to spend $700 or more on a door, especially when we could slap on some paint and make it look new.  Our front door doesn't get any direct sun, which means the insulation stays in tact, and it's got some really cute details like a mail slot and lion's head knocker. We're keeping it! The storm door has seen better days, so that's definitely getting replaced ... if you come to our house and the screen door knob falls off, don't panic, happens to us everyday. Winter seems to be right around the corner, so I think we should take care of the door before any real snow falls.

------ what we have (keeping it) vs. what we wanted ------


Boring white door:

Awesome lion door knocker ...

Since the shutters are in good shape, we're keeping them because I've read horror stories about painting vinyl shutters. At first, I thought a green door to match the shutters or a red door as an accent would be perfect. As for all that brass, we already bought a door handle and lock in oil-rubbed bronze, and we'll spray paint the mail slot, kick plate, and door knocker with some Rust-Oleum paint which works great on metal surfaces.

I did a little Photoshop to try out some colors on our door. The husband likes the green door because it matches the shutters, but I'm not totally convinced yet.

Green Door:
- safe choice, matches the shutters

Red Door:
- maybe too much red with the bricks

Blue Door:
- not sure about the green and blue together

Yellow Door:
- too bright

Brown Door:
- closest to a 'wood' look, but it's too dark

Nothing is stopping us from painting our front door some ridiculous color, but what's wrong with the basics? Since the houses in our neighborhood are pretty close together, I'd like our home to fit in. I have no idea which color we should go with, but just looking at the Photoshopped colors, I think I like the green, red, and blue the best.

Opinions and suggestions welcome!