Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Fall Y'all

Yesterday morning, I actually had to put on - get this - a jacket!  So I know it's officially fall now!  YAY!  It's my favorite season!  While I was waiting for the stain to dry on the dining room floor, I decided it was about time for me to bust out the fall totes.  As the hubs said when he came home to a crazy mess of fall decor, "I see you're gettin' your harvest on up in here!"  You bet I am!  

I wanted to keep it simple and easy because as you know I've got all kinds of other house projects to work on at the moment.  I did my fall decorating after dinner the other night while I was already in the kitchen cleaning things up.  That's what we moms do best right?!  Multi-tasking - I just love it when I get 2 or 3 things done at one time!  

First I dressed my table by changing it from early fall 

to full on fall.

All I did was exchange the pomegranates and pears out for some miniature pumpkins and gourds that I picked up earlier at the grocery store.  They were 2 for $1.00 and I spent $5.  I'm really diggin' this mixture of colors.   

In addition to changing up the centerpiece, I also changed the napkins and used these painted pine cones instead of traditional napkin rings.  We had a fall family craft night about 2 years ago; we gathered some pine cones from the yard and then painted them with acrylic craft paint.  It was an easy fall craft project that we all enjoyed and have continued to harvest the rewards (sorry for the wording there- sometimes I just can't help myself) for the last couple years! 

I used the remaining pine cones to fill my Paula Deen colander that I bought at Kohl's a year ago!

Hmmm........maybe this is why my cooking is far from Paula Deenalicious because I use my colander for decorating rather than for cooking?  Let me ponder this while I show you the "desk" area of my kitchen.  

I use this counter space for making out my grocery list, going through mail, jotting down reminder notes, you know just general "desky" type things.  Anyhow,  I made it feel like fall just by filling the apothecary jars (that I've had for years) with some more pumpkins and gourds (these I already had).  I wrote a fun little fall saying on my Gramercy plate (Willow House), and then I added this gorgeous ceramic pumpkin and gourd that was given to me as a house warming gift, by a neighbor who has become a sweet friend.  Southern hospitality is a real thing, and this California girl is in love with it! 

The easy fall decorating continued in the family room with a few more quick switches.  I added this group of pumpkins (Michael's - 3 years ago) to the platter that sits on my coffee table.  

Then I added a some more pumpkins and gourds to the mantel.

Fall decorating phase one - done.  I love that I already had almost everything, so I didn't have to spend much.  Easy.  Simple.  Done.  Phase 2 coming soon........but first let me go check on that dining room floor situation.  

I'm linking up with hookedonhouses and thenester.  Go check out their beautiful fall decor! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend

This guy has been helping me sand the sub floor in my dining room.  You already know that I crazily ripped out that white 20+ year old carpet in somewhat of a mommy dearest episode.  Wire hangers don't bother me, but white carpet makes me crazy.  Anyhow, this little sander has done the trick!  

This little big project is kicking my tail!  My arms were so sore this morning.  So far I've sanded, then used wood filler on the cracks and nail holes,

 then sanded again, then stained, then sanded again, and then stained again.  Here's to hoping it was all worth it!  I'm hoping to be done by Friday.  In the meantime while I've had to wait for the stain to dry, I started my fall decorating- YAY!  More on that tomorrow! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

When in doubt, rip it out?

I don't like  hate our carpet.  This is a very strong statement coming from me considering the fact that "hate" is a bad word in my house.  I repeat, I hate our carpet.  There I said it, a four letter word!  Gasp!

It's not the carpet itself I hate.  I mean it's not the carpet's fault that I hate it so much.  It's how the carpet just doesn't work well for my family.  Or rather we don't work well with the carpet.  With 2 dogs that shed like it's their job and 2 kids, it's just impossible to keep it looking clean.  Now, I would have less of a problem with it if it wasn't white of all colors!  That's right WHITE!  Sorry to yell, but really, white carpet?!  I guess 20+ years ago that was the "in" thing to do, but I just can't believe anyone would put down white carpet especially in a dining room!  I mean really?!   

I have been hating this carpet since we moved in this past March.  I would have preferred to have all hardwood floors - I dream about that - but I gave up the hardwoods to get a walk-out finished basement.  I know I made the right choice for our family, but I still dream of being surrounded by beautiful hardwood floors.    

While the hubs and I rarely agree on decor/design ideas we did have a mutual hate for the carpet in our dining room.  Since you already know that our dining room is currently under construction, I'll go ahead and tell you what we did this weekend.  You. won't. believe it.  

You know (or at least you should know) that I peaked underneath a corner of the carpet to see what was underneath it the day we first toured the house.  Sadly, it wasn't hardwood.  Unfortunately, I don't have the moola to spend on a hardwood floor in the dining room right now.  However, after hating the carpet for 6 months now, I decided to put an end to all the hatred.  So when in doubt, rip it out! 

That's right we ripped the carpet out!  It's just the plywood sub floor.  No we aren't putting in new carpet.  No we aren't financing a new hardwood floor.  We are going to stain the sub floor.  I've scared you - haven't I?  You think we've been taking crazy pills - huh?!  It's ok if you do, most of our own family does too.

Does this look like the face of a crazy person?  Wait, don't answer that. 

We just don't want to live with the "hate" any longer.  Plus, my own mom has painted sub floors throughout her home and they are gorgeous.  She bought an old house in California a fews years back and it was shag carpet heaven.  So she did what we just did, and ripped all of that old shag out.  

So, here's to hoping it turns out ok!  Wish us luck!  Or pray that we regain our sanity!  Either way at least that white carpet is gone 4eva!  BUH-BYE! 

To the 20+ year old white wall-to-wall carpet that we just kicked to the curb, we're sorry; but the time came for us to go our separate ways.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It was a gift, Todd. I'm taking it with me.

I know you know what movie that line was from - right?!  That scene from Wedding Crashers is seriously one of my all time favorites.  What can I say - love me some Vince Vaughn.  Anyhow, you're probably wondering how is this related to house stuff?  Well, one of the hubs good friends that lives in New Jersey came to visit us the other day.  I had never met him before and had no idea he was such amazing photographer.

He showed us his portfolio of award winning photographs, and I was jaw dropped drooling over them!  Then he said very nonchalantly, "You all are welcome to pick out a few to keep if you'd like."  If you'd like- are you kidding me - I would LOVE to pick out some of your beautiful photographs to display in our home!  Hence the - "it was a gift" title.

We ended up with 5 of Kevin Skochil's beautiful photographs, and they're all just breathtaking.  Two of the five we chose were shot right here in the bluegrass.  I framed one right away; it kind of inspired me to finish the family room.  This one was shot of a road that's not too far from our house.

I just LOVE it!  It adds such a personal touch- taken by a friend of a beautiful road near our home- perfection.  I found this other picture of a freckled horse face (at a craft store for $6) and knew I wanted to layer them.

So - consider this a sneak peak at our family room reveal to come tomorrow!   I'm so thankful for this gift!  And yes I'm taking it with me!  Wouldn't you?!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let There Be Light

A pendent light that is.  A little while back when I introduced you to my good friend Kitchen, I told you about a little lighting switch-a-roo I made over the sink.  So here's the 411 on just how easy-peasy-rice-and-cheesy this little project was.  I mean it was so easy it really doesn't seem right to even call it a project.  Basically you can call it a project if you think changing a light bulb is a "project."  It was really that easy- scout's honor!

I just love the way a pendent light looks over a kitchen sink!  Since we already had a recessed light there, I knew adding a pendent light wouldn't be an issue.  I just needed to find "the one".  When I saw this

in the Ballard Designs catalog I fell in LOVE.  I went crazy over it because, while I have no fear of commitment issues,  when it comes to decor I do occasionally like to switch things up a little.  With this type of pendent light that just screws right into the light bulb socket I figured if I ever got tired of the "pendent light look" I could just take it down just as easily as it is to change a light bulb.  No electrician required.  The only problem was I didn't  LOVE the price at $39 for the adapter and another $45 to $65 for the shade.   Also I was kind of wanting a glass shade (preferably in red) and not a fabric shade.  I love me a big drum shade, but I felt like a glass shade would coordinate better with my kitchen style.  So I decided to keep shopping.  I mean don't get me wrong, I love me some Ballard Designs, but I love me some "bargain designs" even more!

So, I ran into Lowe's to see if they had anything similar to this adapter; and lo and behold there it was a recessed light conversion kit for get this - $17.97!  Angels sing!  There was also quite a few glass shades to choose from in the $15-$17 range!  All-in-all about $33 for a pendent light- saaaawwweeeeeet!  I bought 2 different red glass shades and held on to the receipt, so I could easily return the one that didn't make the grade.  This is so much easier than standing in the store trying to make a decision while you have 2 kids that are ready to skidoosh it on out of there (meaning out of snacks, climbing the walls, and just plain ready to leave).  Plus things always look different in a store then they do at home.

When I got home here's what I did - step-by-step:

1.  Unscrewed the light bulb from the recessed light.

2.  Opened the box to the recessed light conversion kit.

3.  Skipped over reading the instructions, and just looked at the pictures.

4.  Screwed the pendant light into the empty socket, and tightened the "twisty thing" at the base to make it flush with the ceiling. (As previously mentioned, I didn't read the instructions which is why I have no idea what that "twisty thing" is actually called.)

5.  Then I tried out both shades - stood back- and decided to go with this one.

It was literally that easy.  Well, OK, later that night the hubs re-tightened that "twisty thing" to make the base even more flush with the ceiling.  But that's it!  Like I said easy-peasy-rice-and-cheesy!

The next day I returned the shade that didn't make it to the finale.

I just loooooove this red pendent light!  Sometimes when I flip the switch to turn it on....I sing in my head - Carrrrrmmmmmel, you don't have to turn on the red light.  (Who doesn't love The Police?)  What can I say?  Everyone - should - embrace - their - inner - dork.

So how do you let your light shine?  What kind of lights do you like in a kitchen?  Do tell!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Backyard Makeover - Part 1

Even though we're currently living in "project city", we decided to head outdoors this weekend.  The weather was great and we wanted to finish a project we had started back in April of this year, so we spent our weekend yard crashing right here in our own backyard.  Unfortunately, when we ran in to Lowe's to gather some supplies Ahmed Hassan from DIY's Yard Crashers wasn't there to lend us a helping hand, but when we started this project a few months back we did get a little lot of help from a landscape contractor we just so happen to know - my dad!  We're so grateful for his help and our backyard is too!

Once again I don't have a before pic, but I think if you use your imagination just a little you can picture what we started with.

This whole area pictured above is right outside our basement door, which is where the concrete path that runs right down the middle leads.  Our favorite part of this patio is the fire pit, which we used retaining wall pavers (about $2 each from Lowe's) to create.  (I do feel I need to mention that while we have used our fire pit many, many times without issue, we have heard that very high heat could cause air bubbles in the concrete to explode in rare circumstances.  However using fire-safe bricks to line the sides and bottom would help to prevent this from happening. )  Anyhow, thanks to my dad who helped me get started back in April, I was able to finish laying these pavers (which were about $1 each from Lowe's) over the summer as my time and pocketbook would allow.  

Then around the end of May, we turned our attention to the 20+ year old deck that sits directly above the patio.  It was in pretty bad shape.  Quite a few boards needed to be re-nailed and the lattice on one side needed to be replaced as well.  We thought about just tearing it down and building a new one; but that didn't fit into the old budget.  So, we cleaned it up with a little Clorox Outdoor Bleach.  
Then while we spent a week at Disney World (which was our 1st family trip there), we hired a little help through Craig's List to have the deck floor and rails stained in a semi-solid deck stain.  While we could have saved the $200 it cost for the labor and done this job ourselves, we decided that we'd build that into our vacation budget and it would help to make the 12 hour drive home from Disney a little less dreaded as we'd have something to look forward to when we finally arrived home (besides mountains of laundry).  We were giddy with excitement to see the transformation - we know we're dorks.  We just embrace it now. 

And we loved the major improvement for minor dollars.  Going with a semi-solid stain was definitely the right choice.  It really covers and renews the look of old wood but still allows for the wood grain to show through.  We went with Cabot semi-solid wood stain in bluestone for the floor and cinder for the rails.  Deck stain comes in so many different colors now. This blueish-grey and light tan really makes the deck look a lot larger, and we love the way the rusty reds and terra cotta colors pop against them.  Not to mention how well these colors coordinate with our front exterior.  (The patio set you see here was a house warming gift from my dad for our 3rd house, which was in Richmond, VA- it's also from Lowe's. After 5 years of wear and weather, we finally broke down and bought replacement cushions this summer which are also from - you guessed it - Lowe's.  Are you noticing a "theme" here?! )

And we also improved our view from the inside about a million times over.  

So, this weekend we made a few more improvements to the backyard.  I started by staining the ceiling of the patio with some left over stain we had from the deck.  I brushed it on really lightly to give it a weathered look so that when it actually starts to weather it won't be so obvious. 

Then, with help from my little backyardigan, I moved some of the gravel over to the side of the house around the air conditioning units, and made a little gravel bed with some large cement tiles ($7) and edgers ($2) - also from Lowe's.  Also added a few large planters and some mums (for a fall look) to keep the dogs from using this as a litter box (if you know what I mean). 
Who me?  Yes you, Prince- stay out of the gravel bed!

And there's that little backyardigan now!

Then we had a little "mishap".  The hubs started staining the concrete path that runs down the middle of the patio with wood stain instead of concrete stain.  He had about 1/4 of it done when I noticed that the can of stain he was using was the wrong one.  So let's just say the next hour and a half was spent trying to remove the wood stain from the concrete.  Thankfully it hadn't dried, so the cleaner/etcher we bought (which we used to prep the concrete for the stain in the first place) worked to remove the wood stain.  Then I applied the concrete stain (pearl grey- off the shelf) to the walkway.  Then the next morning the hubs added a brown concrete stain with a spray bottle

and then used a grout sponge to rub it in

to create this look.
I think he made up for the "mishap" - what do you think?

 Then to make the patio feel more like an outdoor room, I wanted to add some outdoor drapes.  Pottery Barn sells them  but at about $60/panel times 4 I decided to keep looking.  Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells them for $49/panel, which is a little better but still not what I wanted to pay.  Then, while standing in the paint aisle of Lowe's, it hit me like a lightning bolt.  Why not use paint drop cloths?!  I mean, they're super durable, not too heavy looking, washable, and best of all $9.99 each!  Booyah!  You know I bought four of them - right!  Then the hubs attached drapery rings (which we already had) and hung them up on plant hooks so they'd be easy to take down.

I love this new look!  It feels a little cabana-ish, dare I say a little like a "backyard beach".  Oh no, now I've got that Phineas and Ferb song - backyard beach - in my head!  I guess here in the bluegrass this is as close to a beach scene as this California girl is gonna get- huh?  I'll take it! 

Here's a better look at the fire pit - you know you were itching for one.   Sorry - ran out of smore's the other night- boo :( 

And here's a big virtual smooch for my dad!  Thanks for making me your padawan.  I love learning from the landscape master.

After all that hardwork, I felt like I deserved a little quiet time on the patio this morning with my MickeyD's iced coffee and a few mags.  No I'm not living the life of luxury over here (I wish), I'll turn back into a mommy pumpkin when the clock strikes 12 noon.  But for now............

So what did you do over the weekend?  
This was just part 1 of our master plan (if you can call it that); we plan to do some more landscaping later this fall when my dad comes in from Cali to stay with us for 2 weeks!  Gotta love retirement!  Too bad we won't let him retire when he visits us.  Hey- I'm still a Jedi in training- I need my landscaping Yoda to teach me! 

And speaking of teaching........who's gonna teach Jake not to kick up the grass after he does his bidness? I mean, Jake, you're tearing up my backyard beach buddy!

(FYI - The patio furniture is from Target.  It was the last one they had of this set.  We actually bought the floor model, which was great because it was already assembled.  We bought it when they were getting ready for "back to school supplies", so we snagged a really good clearance deal!  Good things come to those who wait!  End of season is the best time to buy.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Look Back

Sometimes in order to know where you're headed you have to take a look at where you've been.  Considering my last post showed you the ugly side of the ongoing "making this house a home" project,  I felt I was in need of a little inspiration/motivation.  So a little tour of the old 1954 Pittsburgh home, a.k.a our 4th house, seemed in order (and hopefully it will help me get to crackin' over here in our new 1980's Lexington home). 

Unfortunately, I don't have any before pics just afters.  At the time, I was busy with a 2 year old and a newborn so when I actually had time to do something other than feed them and change them I was more like OK let's get 'er done, not let me waste time and get my camera to snap some before pics.

Welcome to the 'burgh!

We did a lot of landscaping (things were really overgrown when we moved in). We also changed all of the exterior lighting.  


This room was to the right when you walked through the front door (view from the foyer).  It was a formal living room, but who needs a formal living room?  Let alone one that is this big.  So we made it a family room.  We created a TV watching area and a conversation area by using area rugs to break up this massive space.  We used a dark chocolate color on the fireplace wall to make it stand out as more of a focal point.

In the dining room we added the chandelier and the picture frame molding.  This room was open to the family room (pictured above), but while it's much more traditional, it still flowed because we used the same color palette.  (We learned that this was a good way to merge our different styles, and we are using this "theory" in our new home. ) 

We did a pretty major update in here.  (I wish these pics were a little better- these actually came from our realtor as we didn't have any of our own.)  Anyhow, at least you get somewhat of an idea here.  We kept the original cabinets and just painted them bright white and added new stainless hardware.  (I think in an old house wherever you can salvage something original, you should.  Sometimes when an old house is completely gutted I think it loses some of it's charm.  This also is a little easier on the old pocketbook as well.)  We added an under mount sink and a black granite counter top (sounding familiar yet.)  Went with all new stainless appliances and bought this stand alone kitchen island from Ikea (oh how I miss living close to an Ikea).  I love a kitchen island that has a different counter top than the rest of the kitchen it adds contrast and makes things interesting.  This butcher block top really added a lot of warmth and texture to our Pittsburgh kitchen, and it was super functional! 

This was a den that we created a dining area in (since we didn't have an eat-in kitchen) thanks to a candelabra from ZGallerie and a little furniture arrangement.  You can't see the wet bar too well here; but here's the story:  we bought us a wet tile saw, some granite tiles and a copper sink (we scored on ebay), and we pimped out our wet bar in a weekend!  The hilarity of this project will live in my mind forever!  We completed this weekend project while Brad was recovering from having his wisdom teeth taken out.  What we were thinking (or rather I was thinking) is still a mystery to both of us, but we did get it done! 

This was the basement office, otherwise known as Brad's man cave.  We added a light colored wood laminate floor and replaced the light fixtures with 2 large modern styled flush mounts.  Using the light flooring and wall colors really helped to add a lot of light in an otherwise dark basement room (there was only 1 tiny window). 

The kids rooms also functioned as play rooms.  I had a little fun with a paint brush in both rooms.  Added stripes and a scalloped bottom border in the girl's room, and added a fun mural that mimicked the bedding in the boy's room.  The chalkboard squares were also a big hit with the kiddos.  I'm always amazed at the power of paint, and chalkboard paint is the greatest invention ever!

The guest room was just kind of basic; we never really got around to doing much with it.  Which is why it's closer to the top of the list this time around. 

Where the magic happened.  This was our master bedroom.  

The back patio.  Imagine if you will, a covered patio, as in outdoor carpet covering this entire patio - it - was- terrible!   We ripped it off and used a concrete stain on the floor.  It was a major improvement for minor dollars!  Which is always a bonus! 

Well, that's it- the end of the tour.  We all better get out of here considering we are now touring someone else's home. 

design + development by kelly christine studio