Thursday, June 20, 2013

Letting a home evolve

Creating a home that you love takes thought, time, and effort.  Sometimes things come together quickly and easily, but a lot of times, probably most of the time, it’s a process that involves starts and stops and lots of tweaking and re-arranging things along the way.  You have to be patient with that process and let a space evolve over time, collecting things you love, re-arranging what works, and letting go of what doesn’t. I’m not the most patient person, so being patient with this home as it evolves into a home I love is something I’m definitely learning how to do.  But I’ve made enough mistakes in the past to know that trying to force a space to evolve quickly or rushing out to buy things that you don’t love just to fill up a space usually doesn’t work out so well in the end.
There are things from our previous home that I still haven’t found the perfect spot for in this home.  These are things that I really like, so I’ve been holding on to them, storing them away, just waiting until inspiration hits me.
One of those things, was my “Coffee House” sign that I made.  For the past six months, it’s just been sitting in the guest room, propped up against the wall. I’ve looked at it many times and been clueless where to put it.  Then all of a sudden, a few weeks ago, it just hit me and I knew exactly where I wanted it. 

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this one out! It seems so completely obvious now that above the coffee bar is exactly where it belongs.

I loved my old farmhouse style kitchen table, but there just wasn’t any extra space at that table for when we have guests over.  Over the next few months, we have lots of family coming to visit and we want them to have a place to sit, so we decided it was time to replace our small table with something a little larger.  After much searching, I found an old Pottery Barn table on Craigslist that has two removable leaves so we can expand it when we have company over and then shorten it when it’s just us.  DSC_8666

Originally, in an effort to quickly get window coverings up in the kitchen for privacy reasons, we put white faux wood blinds in the there.  But after painting the bricks white, re-modeling the kitchen, and living with it all for a while, I realized that there was just a lot of white going on, especially along that brick wall.
See. Aside from those tulips, it was just blah.

And as much as I love white, I wanted to break it up a little bit and bring in something that added some more warmth.  So we switched the white blinds out for bamboo blinds.  It took two tries to find the right bamboo shades.  The first ones were just two thick and bulky for our windows. Poor Tim has hung three different sets of blinds in these windows.  He says I better like these for a long time, because he’s done hanging blinds in here. Ha!

I’ve been wanting a chalkboard for a while, but had been holding out because I didn’t want to pay and arm and a leg for one.  I knew we could make one, but that takes time and it would be a job mostly for Tim to do (and his to-do list is already too long!), so it just wasn’t happening. Then I came across this one at a thrift store for $10. A total deal!  We got it home and then found out it was also magnetic. So fun!

I’ve also done a little bit of tweaking in the living room.  I replaced the plain white lamp shades with some fun colorful ones from Target. And we hung white curtains from Ikea. I always have the hardest time settling on curtains.  Although I love bold patterned curtains, they still make me nervous and I never bite the bullet when it comes to buying them.  Maybe one day I’ll be brave and go for it.  But with the turquoise lamp and colorful lamp shade right next to the curtains, I felt like white would be best for now. And since these Ikea curtains are only $20 for the pair, I won’t feel bad if I decide to switch them out later.  I’m super proud of myself because I used my new sewing machine to hem them.  Oh wait, I think I forgot to mention on the blog that we got a sewing machine recently.  Anyway, we got a sewing machine about a month ago and I’m teaching the kids (and myself) to sew now. The hardest part is winding the bobbin and threading the needle. It’s all down hill after that!

And last but not least, we are in the process of re-doing the kids bathroom. It’s not going to be a major renovation, but it is in desperate need of an update and a new look.  The tile, tub and toilet will all be staying for now.  
This is how it looked when we moved in.  IMG_3487

The shower doors are now gone (we did that immediately when we moved in) and we just recently removed the wallpaper. We plan to paint, replace the light fixture, replace the mirror, and hopefully replace the sink and vanity, as well as add in some fun pops of color. This bathroom is teeny tiny and it doesn’t have a window (no natural light), so I’m hoping to lighten and brighten it up quite a bit.
This is what I’ve been dreaming up.  
OB-Kids Bathroom
I’m ready to get started!

Update: See the bathroom update here

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Numbered Stairs

When we first moved into our house, our stairs from the basement up to the main living area looked like this. 


Not completely terrible, I guess, but I had bigger dreams for them.  Back when we walked through this house during our house hunt, we had tried to carefully peak under the carpet on the stairs to see if there was hardwood underneath.  We couldn’t really get a good look though and so we assumed it was just going to be plywood.  I told Tim that eventually I would want to rip up the carpet on the stairs and paint them or do something pinteresting to them.

One of the first things I did after we moved in was paint the hand rails white, but other than that, a stair makeover ranked pretty low on the priority list.


Then a few weeks ago, I was cleaning up some broken glass in the basement near the bottom of the stairs with the vacuum cleaner (after a vase had an unfortunate incident with a boy and a soccer ball) and I noticed that the stairs were way overdue for a good vacuum.  As I was down there sucking up dog hair with the vacuum cleaner hose, I decided to pull back some carpet and really get a good look at what was underneath.  And much to my surprise and delight there were finished hardwoods under the carpet!

I am not much of a planner when it comes to household projects.  I am a doer.  When the urge hits me, I just start and then I figure it out as I go.  Sometimes this works out well and other times (like with the kitchen linoleum floors) it doesn’t.  But either way, it’s typically how I do things, so less than ten minutes later, I was ripping that carpet off the stairs (with a little help from the kiddos). 


Why do people cover hardwoods with carpet? It baffles me.


Removing carpet is a big job, with lots of nails and staples involved and one that’s probably better done without little kids around.  But if I waited for that to happen, I’d never get anything done, so I just do it and consider it part of their home education. 



Eventually the stairs looked like this. 


Granted, they still needed some work, but it was already an upgrade in my opinion and it was free.

I spent the next few days searching Pinterest for ideas and thinking about what I wanted to do to them.

So many options…




In the end, I decided to paint the risers white and put numbers on the stairs.  My inspiration came from this picture below.  I had pinned it months ago and I was still very much in love with it.   


Instead of sanding them, I wiped them down with Klean-Strip Easy Liquid Sander DeGlosser.  And then after priming and painting the risers (two coats of each), it was time to put numbers on them. I looked for stencils, but couldn’t find any that I liked, so I settled for printing out the numbers in the font I liked and then I used tracing/transfer paper to trace the numbers on the risers.  I also made sure to measure and center each number on the riser.  It was a slow, tedious process for sure.



Originally, I planned to paint the numbers black, but since I didn’t have any black paint on hand (and didn’t want to load up three kids to go buy any),  I decided to use a color that we already had, Whispering Spring by Benjamin Moore.



I decided I liked that idea better anyway because it kind of gave the stairs an old beachy, cottagey feel, which I love.





And because I love a good Before and After side by side:


So. Much. Better.