September 26, 2013

living room progress

Getting our living room to 'livable' has been a slow process, partly because I'm picky, and partly because we're not made of money. The truth is, it's not that fun living in a mostly unfurnished home. When we have friends over, we bring in dining room chairs and put our drinks on the floor. I've come to realize a coffee table is indispensable and sitting on dining room chairs in a circle is kind of awkward.

How is this all going to come together? My plan is this: slowly and without making us broke. I tend to over think large purchases and then buy on impulse when I see something that I think might fit (as long as I can return it of course). Just to backtrack, this is the layout I am working with, from this post:

We aren't starting with a completely blank slate, we have this awesome leaning Crate & Barrel bookshelf that my mom-in-law got us as a Christmas present. I love that you can see the wall behind it and that it has a desk if we want to sit down and use our laptops (really, I just use my laptop there, the husband sprawls out on the sofa). I still need to rearrange the books, frames, and the contents of the baskets, I can't find anything!

I saw our bookshelf at Crate & Barrel with an ottoman and really liked the idea, so I searched for the perfect one and found it on Overstock. It had to be slightly bigger than a traditional ottoman, so it was a little tricky to find. Besides being a comfy seat for the desk, it's the perfect place to store blankets and can be used as extra seating. That phone isn't the prettiest thing, but I'm going to move it to a shelf and it'll blend in a little better (who has landlines nowadays ...)

The sectional we decided to get is from Room and Board. My sister has a sofa from this store so I'm biased, but I also knew that we'd be paying for lasting quality. The construction is solid and the cushions are encased with down so they're really comfortable and resilient. The husband is tall so finding a sofa that allowed him to lounge was tough, but he was sold once he sat in it. Here's a picture from the website, and I have one from when we were deciding on the color. Every time we both cram on our small sofa, we remind ourselves that the sectional is coming soon and we'll have another 3 feet to stretch out.

I decided that I wanted the media cabinet and console near the door to be cohesive so the living room looked less scattered. I just want to mention that I do consider all of the husband's opinions, but in this case all he cares about is that the TV gets hung on the wall. Anyway, I found a cute console that I liked and attempted to buy from Wayfair, but they notified me that it was sold out. It was a small reclaimed wood console that really grew on me and so I went on a hunt for reclaimed wood furniture. I suddenly realized that Etsy is the perfect place to find these kinds of things.

Behold the hand-made, reclaimed wood media cabinet and console I ordered! There are a few tweaks and customizations, which is the beauty of hand-made furniture, but these are close to what I got. When it comes to prices, I've done my research and knew that I'd be shelling out a few more hundreds for a media cabinet from a store like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, or West Elm, so I consider these handmade pieces a decent deal. I also realize this isn't everyone taste, but the husband trusts me and when I see something that I can actually envision in our home without overanalyzing, it's meant to be.

Speaking of Etsy, I've been thinking about the issue of side tables because our new sectional will be literally wall to wall, to the 1/4 inch. Personally, I like side tables because they're so convenient and you avoid putting things on the ground (and spilling them, like we have). Then I found something that solved this problem, I haven't gotten it yet because you need to measure your sofa for it, but check it out:

Couch Arm Wrap. Sofa Wrap. Organic Modern Arm Rest in Walnut Wood

I got a really basic table at Target that works with our book shelf. It's kind of strange how hard it was to find a simple table, because everything out there seems over the top. The color is perfect, it's big enough, the lower shelf is great for storage, it doesn't have sharp edges, and I couldn't have asked for a better price. It's not exciting, but it fits my checklist of would-likes in a coffee table. Will it last forever? Probably not, but we'll definitely get our money's worth. I did think about an ottoman table or even a cool Pottery Barn wicker table, but those just aren't totally practical in my opinion. 

I stumbled upon two pretty chairs at HomeGoods, that might have worked. The color was perfect (I thought at the time) and they were small enough, so I got them. I tried sitting on them with pillows and slouching, but it just wasn't happening. They were so uncomfortable! So back to HomeGoods they went ... I think they would be perfect for a big home with a foyer where they could look pretty, but no one ever sat in them. We won't really know how much space we have until our sectional is delivered, so the chairs will probably be one of the last purchases.

So there you have it, the living room is finally coming together. Sort of, since most of it is ordered and hasn't come in yet. There's so much more to think about, like lighting, wall art, rug, hanging the TV, list goes on ... but at least we have somewhere to sit and put our drinks down.

September 24, 2013

decorating for fall

It's been feeling like fall for a while now, but I've been holding on to summer and refusing to hang a leafy wreath or buy any pumpkins. Summer always feels so short and I haven't even gotten to wear all my summer clothes. I didn't go to the beach as many times as I planned and I'm not ready to turn the heat on in our house. Well, the official first day of fall was Sunday, September 22nd, so I had to give in. I have to admit, as much as I like summer, I love fall sweater weather, the leaf colors, and of course the holidays. Really, who doesn't? Can we just put away the Christmas stuff? It's not even Halloween!

To get in the fall mood, I wanted to hang a wreath. Last year we hung one for Christmas and New Years and it really made us feel all warm and fuzzy every time we entered the house. Wreaths are pretty easy to make, so I thought that would be a small, fun project. I saw a hydrangea wreath on a blog that I had to make! Check out Honey We're Home for a tutorial. Typically, I like to use real flowers, but fake hydrangeas look pretty good and the wreath won't wilt or look dried up in two months.

I also wanted to bring the 'warm and fuzzy' inside, but in an understated way. I'm all for holiday decorations, but I'm a big believer that less is usually more. Plus, the more stuff is laying around, the more stuff I have to dust, so I kept it pretty simple. The one thing that really makes me think of fall is a pine cone, so I went to Michaels and found them on sale ... near all the Christmas decorations. I guess I never realized people tend to associate pine cones with winter, not necessarily fall, but who cares. I also went to West Elm to see what they have and found this natural wood tray that was perfect for our new round coffee table. The tray would be on the table year round, but it was the perfect place for a Yankee candle and some pine cones.

I put a bunch of pine cones on the dining room table as well. They're scented and make the kitchen and dining room smell like cinnamon! I'll put a few small pumpkins on either side of the basket once we get them.

Real or fake leaves? I'm not saying. We plan on going to a farm to pick out some pumpkins for inside and outside our house next week, and I'm really excited because I had so much fun doing it last year. It really feels and smells like fall in our home!

September 20, 2013

searching for a dining room rug

I think most people would agree that rugs not only look awesome on wood floors but they're also really functional. I also quickly found out rugs are expensive. Really, really expensive.

So naturally, I went to HomeGoods. I went there more often than I'd like to admit and found a huge rug for our living room that I couldn't walk away from. Actually, I did walk away for a few minutes, but came right back because I was scared someone would take it. I'm not sure if I'm the only one with this kind of HomeGoods mentality, but I'm always scared people are taking the things I want. Anyway, we had no furniture so my plan was to build the room based on this rug.

- The tag on it said Broyhill, which is a Denver based company.
- It has an intricate pattern and I haven't seen anything like it online.
- It's about 8' x 10', but I guesstimated the size I needed.
- The pile is about 1/2 inch and it feels really soft.
- It's handmade from wool, so it'll last a long time.
- It does shed a little, but it's expected in the beginning since it's handmade.

The dining room was proving to be a little more difficult because we needed to find a rug based on furniture we already had. I was thinking something light beige with a little bit of a pattern that works with the living room rug. I also had to make sure the pile wasn't too high and soft since it's going in the dining room, so it needs to be easy to sweep and vacuum.

Looking for a large rug that wasn't crazy expensive was proving to be difficult. It didn't help that I was having a hard time imagining the rug with the furniture. While doing way too much online shopping for rugs (Overstock, Wayfair, Target, Joss & Main, One Kings Lane, Ballard Designs, Home Decorators ....) I quickly realized that there are identical rugs across many of these websites. The only difference I could find between some of these identical rugs were the prices. It just goes to show that a little bit of online research can save you hundreds of dollars.

Here are some rugs that I found online and in store that I could possibly see in our dining room:

- doesn't go with the intricate pattern of the living room rug

Gaylord Area Rug
home decorators
- not sold on the pattern

- love the pattern, but a bit too simple

Then my mom came over our house to finally see the new kitchen in real life. We went to HomeGoods, like we always do, and she shared my struggle in finding the perfect rug for the dining room. It was impossible to find something comparable to the living room rug anywhere! So my mom suggested seeing how the rug we already have will look in the dining room. There's no way this huge rug would fit in the dining room, and how's a blue rug going to look with a red cabinet? Well, I attempted this switch one afternoon, and I was amazed how awesome it looks. Note to self, don't attempt moving a huge rug under a really heavy table again ... my poor back!

Dining room before we moved in:

Dining room after paint, curtains, and furniture:

Moving the 8'x10' rug and rug pad (the most annoying part) into the dining room was really hard and I probably should've waited for the husband to help me. But I did it, and I love it! I had no idea the blue and red could work, but now that I see it, the colors, pattern, and size of the rug all look perfect (in my opinion).

The kitchen wall still needs to be painted ...
Now I feel like the chandelier needs more oomph, but it's the first thing we changed in this room, so it's gotta stay ... for now.

Now that I moved our existing rug, I need to find a living room replacement. Great, another long search begins, maybe I'll be less analytical this time ... so much for "building our living room based on this rug".

September 18, 2013

staircase full of photos

We've been so busy with life since we've moved in nine months ago, that I recently realized we haven't displayed any new family pictures, wedding pictures, or engagement pictures. I have no pictures of my niece to look at, none of my or my husband's extended family, and not even my family's dogs. I've been thinking of doing a cliché frame collage along our staircase for a while now, and was considering black frames and white frames, so I took a random Ikea trip to see what kind of frames they have for cheap. I ended up getting tons of white and off-white picture frames on a whim, and figured that I can always return them.

When I got home, I laid them all out in our empty living room and played around with a few arrangements to see what works and what doesn't. After this completely unplanned shopping trip, and completely unplanned purchase, I realized I'm totally in love with this idea and couldn't wait to get the frames on the wall.

The tricky part, how do I get the layout on the floor to work on the wall? I didn't feel like doing measuring and thinking and analyzing, so I started with the biggest frames and sort of winged it. I stood back a few times to see how it's looking and worked my way to the smallest frames. I used a few of those frame hooks that come with special nails and a bunch of regular nails.

Clearly we need to work on the lighting situation in the living room, it's so dark! Also, as a side note, opening the backs to the Ikea frames is a huge pain, literally. I used my fingers for the first few and moved on to using pliers to bend the metal pieces back.

I think we could use a few more frames to fill in a little more, but it'll do. Now we just need to pick out the pictures; I plan on changing some of them every year before the holidays, so that we get to enjoy more than the fifteen hanging on the wall all year.