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The New Dining Room

21 Jan

Happy New Year to you all!

I’m back with more details and pictures of our formal living room turned dining room. We got the room pulled together just in time to host a really fun Christmas dinner at our house.

It was lovely all dressed up for the holiday.


And a far cry from where it stood only a few days prior.


And here’s a few more pictures of what it looks like now.

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The two bookcases will be emptied once the office bookcases are complete. I’m toying with the idea of having Steve add doors to the bottom and top of them to turn them into china cabinets. I have no idea if that’s even doable, but I would like 2 matching cabinets opposite each other in here. The one we have now is an old Ikea one I painted and has several chips (despite sanding and priming, the paint didn’t adhere very well to the laminate).

Also, it wasn’t until I looked at these pictures that I realized how off center the rug is. Looks like it can be moved a good foot toward the back wall. Amazing what you see in pictures that isn’t obvious in person!

Anyway, I am thrilled with the end result and so pleased to have this room put together.

Some details:

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Coastal Fog

Light fixture: Hampton Bay Barcelona Chandelier

Rug: Seagrass from Natural Home Rugs

Upholstered dining chairs: Ikea Hendriksdal (I don’t think the armchair version is available anymore)

Sconces: Ikea Rodd Wall Lamp (spray painted gold and cord painted to match the walls)

Curtain fabric: Essential Stripe in Hickory

Chair Pillow Fabric: Braemore Fern Fabric

Bookcases and china cabinet are all old Ikea pieces purchased for our first apartment 7 years ago.

The rest was either passed down to us or purchased at an estate sale, antique market, or thrift store.

Not too shabby for such a hodge podge!

All Mapped Out

21 Jan

My attempt to turn a carpet remnant into a custom rug runner turned out to be surprisingly successful!


It took about 4 hours total and roughly $100 in supplies.


Of course, a couple of doors need to be trimmed down now to clear the rug. Can’t win ’em all.


But I love how it looks with the entry.


I’ll be back with a tutorial later on. It was a very easy process, and I’ll definitely do it again.

But what I really want to share is what I put up on the walls. Steve and I have been collecting maps from all of the places we visit for years. It started when we found a copy of a map from the 1920’s of DC in a Manassas bookstore in 2005. Then that summer Steve brought me back a map of Paris from a trip to Europe with his brother. After that we made a point to find one on all of our trips. Not all are necessarily maps but instead have something to do with the city we visited.

We’ve had some framed but most have been rolled up in a closet for the past few years. I told myself a few weeks ago that as soon as Aaron Brother’s had their penny sale (buy one frame, get one for a penny) that I would finally get them all framed. And wouldn’t you know it, two weeks ago they had a sale.

So this weekend we got to work hanging them in the hallway. I traced them all out on craft paper and taped to the wall to figure out the arrangement.


Thanks to Steve’s help, the hanging was relatively painless.




I love getting little peeks of it from different places in the house.




At the back of the hallway is a map of Savannah and the surrounding area from 1757 that we picked up last November.


On the left wall is a map of what Chicago looked like in 1893. It’s from a trip we took in November 2010.


On the long wall:


The Angel Oak Tree outside Charleston, SC. It’s the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi. From a trip to Isle of Palms in May, 2011.


Charleston, SC in 1704. From the same trip to Isle of Palms in 2011.


The map of Paris from 1889 that Steve got for me in the summer of 2005.


Representing the hometown … an old map of Atlanta. Not sure of the year.


The Florida Keys from our honeymoon in May, 2008.


Blueprints of the Golden Gate Bridge from our trip to CA in summer 2012.


A guide to the monasteries in Meteora, Greece from our trip in December, 2006


A map of DC in the 20’s from a trip in March, 2005


A post card of NYC titled “The Future New York, The City of Skyscrapers” Not sure of the year. From a trip in December, 2011.


This was a gift from my brother-in-law this past Christmas. It’s the Waldseemuller Map, the first map on record to use the name America. From 1507.

I’m so happy these are finally framed and hung so we can enjoy them!


2012 House Projects

6 Jan

Now that the 2013 goals are out-of-the-way, I want to take a look back at what was accomplished in 2012.

I started the year by making curtains for the family room and called this room done.

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Later in January we had recessed lights and pendant lights added to the kitchen and family room.


Next up, I over-hauled our coat closet.



About six months later, I gave the pantry a similar re-do.


In March we purchased a new dishwasher which we thought was the last kitchen project.



But a few weeks ago, I recolored the grout in here with Grout Renew, just like I did in the hall bathroom. Now it’s done! Here’s a shot in-process:


We kind of accidentally re-did the dining room. Here are some pictures of the room completely done with the new dining table and upholstered chair seats.








My favorite project of the year was landscaping our yard. It’s been about 7 months, but the plants are already much larger.

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My second favorite project was the hallway and entry where we added crown molding and replaced the chair rail with traditional wainscoting.



We started re-doing the master bedroom by purchasing a king sized bed, new dressers, a rug and painting the walls. Still a LOT to do in here.


We moved the old bedroom furniture and rug into the guest room and mostly finished that space too.


And that’s our 2012 in review!

It’s a Christmas Miracle!

4 Dec

The entry way and hall are complete!

In the past year we’ve replaced all of the light fixtures, taken down the chair rail, added crown molding, added wainscoting, and painted, painted, painted to take the spaces from here:



To here:



Ahhhh. Much, much better.

Here are some close ups of the molding:




I love how it looks with the paneled doors.



I finally got a piece of glass cut for the top of the skirted table in the entryway.


I am in serious love with the entry way. Serious.



We even took the time to replace the old switches and outlets.



Odie The Cat can give you the gist of our home’s layout from this picture:


The partially opened door goes to the basement, and the opening that you can just barely see on the left (directly across from the table) in this picture is to our formal living room (that remains untouched), which opens to the dining room. Here’s a surprisingly blurry picture of the spaces.


Back to the entry, up ahead, you can see our family room which opens up to the kitchen:


In the kitchen, there’s a doorway to the right of the open shelving that leads to the dining room. So like a lot of traditional homes, the living space is essentially one big circle.

The bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage closets are all off of the long hallway. Here’s a super fancy picture of everything labeled:


There’s still a few things left to do in the hall. The attic door and stairs need to be replaced. It’s even more of an eyesore now.


See that sloppy coat of off-white trim paint? That covered every piece of trim in our house when we moved in. We’re very good trim painters these days.

We also need a runner rug for the hallway.


A 20 foot runner rug is hard to find. I knew it would have to be custom, and I assumed that having a piece of carpeting bound would be the way to go, but it’s turning out to be more expensive than I thought. Regular carpeting comes in 12 foot rolls, and since I need the rug to be 20 feet long, it creates a lot of waste that you still have to pay for (even if the rug is seamed in the middle). I’ve been to several carpeting stores and have been quoted anything between $500 and $1,700. Yikes. And way more than I was hoping to spend.

So this weekend I’m going to hunt for some carpet remnants. I’ve found a few places that will bind the remnant for you, but my dad has me convinced I can seam and bind a remnant on my own. Sounds crazy, but google and a couple of youtube videos have me believing this is a viable option. This sounds either really promising or like a total disaster, doesn’t it?

I also have a fun idea for the walls on the long hallway! More details on that, the runner, and some tips for DIYing wainscoting coming soon!

If anyone is interested, here’s some sources for the space:

Wall color: Sherwin Williams Pavestone

Entry Light: Pottery Barn Hundi Flush Mount

Hall Lights: From Lowes

Entry Rug: Pottery Barn Brandon Rug

Entry Table Fabric: Ikat Fretwork from Lewis and Sheron

Hall Bathroom Redo

22 Oct

We’ve lived in our house for 3 years this Thanksgiving. We knew our house needed a lot of work when we bought it, and we’ve never been anything but enthusiastic about fixing it up. That said, the first year we lived here progress was sloooow, and it felt like our house would never feel like a home. Then at some point during the second year of homeownership, I remember thinking that we had done enough work that I was no longer embarrassed to have friends over (haha). And as we close in on the end of the third year here, I can’t believe how quickly we’re knocking things off the to-do list we created years ago.

This year alone we re-landscaped our yard to compliment the exterior re-do we did the year before, finished the kitchen and family room, made serious progress in the dining room, re-did the coat closet and pantry, mostly finished our guest room, made a few updates to our entry and hall way, and made some changes in our master bedroom. I’m so glad I started this blog to document these changes because I never would have sat back to appreciate everything we’ve done!

I bring all this up because over the last couple of weekends I’ve made some minor changes to our hall bathroom – which I’ve been making minor changes to since we moved in. And now it’s finally done! Three years in the making!

When we moved in, the hall bathroom was the only usable bathroom in the house (we were in the process of gutting the master bathroom at the time). The vanities that were in the space were rotted, so right off the bat we replaced them with the cheapest vanities we could find for a temporary fix. We also added mirrors and re-did the lighting because what we inherited was … bad.

Here are the mediocre “befores” I took in February 2010. I’m really sorry I didn’t clean off my vanity for you, Internet. I didn’t know I would be sharing these with you at the time.

It’s difficult to tell in this photo, but there wasn’t any kind of cover over the light bulbs in the overhead fixture.

And the lighting over the vanities … oy.

And a mirror left by the pervious owners over the toilet

The day I took these photos my dad came over and did some rewiring so we could replace the light fixture centered between the vanities with 2 light fixtures – one over each vanity.

Once the lights were replaced, I painted the vanities to break up all the white and slowly added the pretty stuff like wall art and monogrammed towels and a nice shower curtain. But before I get to all that, I need to share with you what has made the biggest difference in this space. I recently saw on Julia’s blog that she was re-coloring the grout in her laundry room/bathroom (check out her amazing finished room here). The grout in our bathroom was badly stained, and I have unsuccessfully tried to clean it with grout cleaner, oxy clean, and a paste made of borax and lemon juice with no results.

So I bought a a bottle of Polyblend’s Grout Renew in Antique White and followed the directions on the back exactly.

Here’s the floor before:


And after:

It took roughly 4 hours to complete. Not a small chunk of time for sure, but Ira Glass and This American Life kept me company. When I was done, I made Steve promise to help me re color the grout in our kitchen next. This product is amazing!

How about a look at the completed space now?

The walls are painted Valspar’s Tempered Gray and the vanities are Martha Stewart’s Bedford Gray.

All of the light fixtures came from Lighting Direct but it doesn’t look like they sell these anymore.

The shower curtain is from Country Curtains.

My favorite part might be this Anthropologie owl hook behind the door.

I really love how this space has turned out, but don’t let all that pretty white tile fool you. Lurking beneath the white epoxy paint is 1950’s pink tile. And the tile’s former glory is beginning to peek through.

The previous owner had all the tile and the bathtub painted and replaced the floor. The epoxy has held up pretty well on the tile, but the bottom of the bathtub is a different story. I’m hoping we can have the tiles touched up where needed and the tub sanded down in places and patched and reglazed. It’s a cast iron tub so I would hate to throw it out. That’s most likely on the agenda in a couple of years. We’ll also replace the 2 smaller vanities with 1 large one for more storage and replace the floors with something more our style.

But until then, we’ll be enjoying our newly finished bathroom!

Pantry Redo

5 Oct

Redoing the pantry has been on my to do list since we moved in. It was in dire need of a new paint job, and the old shelves were thick with many coats of (most likely) lead paint.

The most offensive part of the pantry was probably the brown molding.

But the bare bulb fixture and dirty pull string were a close second.

So I painted the walls (stripes!) and the molding (white!), and had my in-home “electician” (husband!) install a proper light.

For shelves, we opted to stick with wood. I decided to stain them instead of painting them to avoid chipping/peeling paint. We bought 8 cheap-o pine boards for 4 shelves, and Steve attached 2 pieces per shelf to get the depth we needed for a functional pantry. After sanding them down, I applied 3 coats of Varathane’s Stain and Poly in Kona.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Next up was organization. A couple of years ago, I purchased these spice jar holders from Ikea (all credit for this idea goes here).

They’ve worked out very, very well and keep all the little spice jars from getting lost on the shelves. However, I have a ton of leftover spices from where I couldn’t fit all of the spice into the Ikea jar. I had been storing them in a plastic bag, but I decided old plastic bags don’t have a place in my new pantry. Not when I could use this opportunity to purchase a cute basket to corral them!

Along those lines, I decided to see what else I could consolidate into a basket. Since baking items always seemed to get lost in the old pantry, I decided to also purchase a basket to hold things like yeast packets, cupcake liners, extracts, food coloring, etc. I also bought a third to hold granola bars, sport nutrition (like clif bars or shot blocks), and sport drink powders.

I labeled them with these cute Martha Stewart tags.

To hold the rest of my baking items, I purchased several Slom jars from Ikea and added chalkboard labels (also from Martha Stewart).

As you can tell, the labels don’t lay completely flat since the jar curves. It’s not ideal, but it’s worked out okay so far. If it bugs me down the line or they start peeling off, I’ll figure out a better solution.

For my flours, I purchased 2 larger jars from Target.

I was sure to add the expiration date to the bottom left corner  because these things are known to live in my pantry well past their prime. I didn’t want to give up my ability to check their sell by date by throwing out the packaging.

Last Winter when we had a bunch of electrical work done, we had an outlet added in the pantry so we could eventually move the microwave in here (and open up our limited kitchen counter space).

I also added a couple of hooks to hold our shopping bags.

With all the organizational pieces in place, I loaded her up.

Thankfully, there was enough room leftover to also store our lesser used appliances, cake carrier, grilling tools, and other miscellaneous items. Things like olive oil, salt and pepper shakers, vinegars, and other regularly used cooking items live in a cabinet by the stove which has really helped cut down on the clutter too.

It’s gotten about 3 weeks of use now, and I’m happy to say it functions much better for us now. I had a bad habit of just buying things at the grocery store instead of looking through the pantry to see if we already had it. I think that’s how I ended up with a ridiculous number of yeast packets.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s a list of sources:

Paint: The lighter shade is Behr’s Eggshell Cream (leftover from the upper kitchen cabinets), and the darker shade is Benjamin Moore’s Baby Fawn (leftover from the master bedroom)

Light: White globe flush mount with pull chain

Pull Chain: Antique Brass Pull Chain

Stain: Varathane stain and poly in Kona

Spice Jars: From Ikea’s Rationell Variera line – they appear to be discontinued

Plastic Bag Holder: Also from Ikea’s Rationell Variera line

Baskets: From the Container Store, though they don’t appear to be on the website

Glass Jars: Ikea Slom

Labels: Martha Stewart for Staples

Landscape Complete

5 Jun

It took forever (at least it feels that way), but our front yard is finally relandscaped. We worked all through Memorial weekend and finished up this past Saturday.

In all we planted 14 azaleas, 1 plum tree, 3 arborvitaes, 7 loropetalum, 6 hydrangeas, 1 dog wood tree, 5 carissa hollys, 40 pots of asiatic jasmine ground cover, and spread 10 cubic yards of mulch.


I love how it turned out! I hope we can keep it all alive!

Here’s a look back at where we started:


And after lots of clean up, planting and mulching:

The plants are still small and have lots of growing to do, so how about a closer look?

For this bed in front of the dining room window, I decided low maintenance was key. There are 5 holly bushes in the back and asiatic jasmine ground cover up front. The vine will eventually take over the bed and require little care.

In front of this bed is another bed with a pretty dog wood tree.

This bed is still a bit bare, so I’ll probably add some knock out rose bushes or loropetalum next Spring for more color.

On the other side of the driveway, we mulched and mulched and mulched and planted some hydrangeas.

Some flowers are beginning to peek through, and I’m so excited to see what colors they are.

On the far right side of the yard, this plum tree takes some emphasis away from the steep grade change by the house.

And further to the right, a bed of baby azaleas will (hopefully!) nicely fill in this unusable area in front of the creek that runs through here.

But my favorite part is the area in front of the right side of the house.

It’s not much now, but the arborvitaes will grow to 30+ feet and the loropetalum will reach 6+ feet. Fortunately, these plants are fast growers, so I’m hoping we can appreciate their impact from the street in just another year or two.

I’m not sure I would recommend taking all of the planting on at once like this, but I couldn’t be any happier to see this project completed!