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Category Archives: Decorating

August: A Month in Review

August was an incredibly busy month in my world.  I’ve been unable to really post here this month because it was trouble right out the gate!

We started the remodel job in our living room.   We tore out an existing wall that held the fireplace, framed the new fireplace, did drywall work, added board and batten treatment, changed the electrical, painted, put up crown moulding, built some cabinetry, and laid some flooring in the bare spots.  We still have to finish the electrical, the trim, the partially built cabinets, touch-up the paint, get the new furniture, and style the room.

On the day DIY construction began, my dad had emergency surgery.  He’s fine now…but it was scary for a few days.  My brother and I became responsible for the special work projects that my dad was doing for our company.  My workload nearly doubled.  Did I mention school was out of session and I have three kids under 4 with one of my crucial babysitters (mom) taking care of my dad?  It was pretty hairy.

Thankfully, VBS started a few days later for two of the kids and I was able to hit the books hard for several mornings in a row and get on top of the work I was afraid I wouldn’t complete.  The kids loved VBS and really learned a lot that week about Jesus’ childhood.  I’m so thankful that there is a church very near our house that offers a program for young children in the summertime.

Once VBS ended, I was looking at 2 weeks of full-time childcare, a very messy construction project, a double workload, and some really hot days.  We made it work, though!  My dad came home from the hospital and is making a very good recovery, the kids adapted to the chaos, the house project has an end in sight, and I’ve adjusted to the increased workload.

I also started the lobby remodel job at one of the residential hotels we manage.  I designed and delegated the work thus far: new ceiling fans (with new electricity), stained the wood work, started painting the ceiling, and met with a furniture builder for the new front desk.  I’m really excited about how it’s going to turn out and I’ve received some really positive feedback from the residents, as well.

My big girl turned 5 this month.  Yes I cried.  She has grown so fast and is not slowing down no matter how many times a hope for a pause button.  We went to an indoor playground with a few friends and had a spaghetti dinner at my brother’s house with our whole family to celebrate.  She asked to have ears pierced, but we decided that it would be better to wait a few more years.  Instead, she picked out a beautiful blue fish that is named “Bluebell”.  It’s really sweet how well she takes care of and marvels at this little fish.  He’s a welcome new member of the family!

The most exciting thing on her birthday was the shout-out, birthday mission, and song request on the Absolutely Mindy Show on Kid’s Place Live (sattelite radio).  They said her name on the radio and told her she must complete the following birthday missions before she turns another year older: 1) get in a fight with a balloon and lose, 2) teach a baby to “fist bump”, 3) mail someone a piece of toast.  Weird.  Funny.  🙂  They also played her requested song, “Sweet Pea”.  It was a great day.

Well, we have packed the backpack and prepared all the school supplies for next Tuesday’s first day of Kindergarten and my sweet boy has already attended his first week of preschool.  I’m ready to get into a stable routine….something more predictable.  My friend and I have started a dinner swap and that has already been a huge help in planning for the week, time management, and money-saving.  We are hoping to add a few more people to our group (wouldn’t it be great to only have to cook once per week?!).  I’m looking forward to cooler weather, a finished living room, quiet time in the mornings to finish my work, one-on-one time with baby girl while other two are at school, and fun afternoons with them when they get home.

In the end, August gave me an ulcer (literally).  But I’m confident that September will bring calm and routine (and antacids).  Bring on the apples and homework, I’m ready!


Anthropologie Knock-Off!

I love a good knock-off.  I’m pretty good at finding them, too.  There is a blog, Copy Cat Chic, that has all kinds of great designer knock-offs for home decorating.  Today, I ran into Michaels to find some spray paint and (of course) I looked through $1 bins and I found this:

I remembered that I almost bought one of these at Anthropologie in April, but felt like $12 was a bit too much for a pad of paper that triples as a calendar and note pad:

Pretty good for $11 savings, right?  I thought so.  Here a few others I picked up to give away:



Cottage Envy

I hinted at this post when I came home from our 11-day trip to Texas and Oklahoma.  My aunt lives in Jefferson, TX, a small town with tree-lined streets, historic homes, and a quaint downtown that, in its former days, was one of the most important trading ports in Texas.  She lives in the sweetest, perfectly appointed cottage I have ever seen.  She has a gift.  She did not go to design school, yet her style is impeccable.  She does window displays, stages homes, and assists friends with decorating.  This lady knows how to make a home look so pulled together…usually without having to buy anything new.  So here is a photo tour of her home:

The Living Room: Idea Book

Our living room is the hub of our home.  It’s also tiny.  For five people…..microscopic.  It has a direct-vent gas fireplace built-in to the corner of the room with a granite tile “bench”, a fairly large window, and a blank wall (blank because I am never satisfied with the art I pick for it) where the couch sits.

We picked out furniture which, on paper and by technical measurements, fit.  However, when we actually set it up in the room, we quickly found that it was way too big.  We have rearranged the furniture in every way possible, but I just can’t seem to make it work with any style.  We have decided to spend a lot of energy making the living room work by:

  •  selling our 3-piece leather furniture and buying a sectional
  • moving the fireplace to the center of the wall so that we gain a little more space in the corner
  • building in some shelving around the new fireplace
  • adding some decorative columns to define the space
  • installing crown moulding and possibly board and batten treatment
  • painting and settling on art above the couch

Here’s my electronic idea book:

I picked a paint color!!!

Picking a new paint color is not as easy as it seems.  Aside from having all your roommates (e.g. husband and kids…oldest of whom is unhappy with any choice besides pink or purple) agree on the color, or at least, color family, there are about 10,000 choices to make after that.  You have to decide what brand, what exact shade of the 500 choices they have in each brand, what sheen, whether you need primer, will it go with furniture/tile/granite/flooring/trim paint, does it look good in each lighting situation….good grief, the list goes on!

We had at least picked a general color: Grey….don’t tell my oldest girl, she’ll be annoyed.

I was looking for a grey that wasn’t too much like concrete, but not so green or blue or pink either (yes, all those colors are possible – even in grey).  I was looking for something more grey than linen, not too dark, that contrasts with our white and dark brown furnishings, and only takes 2 coats to cover the current paint color.  I think I picked up and sorted through literally 200 swatches of “greige” (grey-ish beige).  I picked up 10 samples of paint from 3 different stores, on 5 different occasions in addition to some I had from a previous project….bringing the total to 15 samples from 4 stores.  Here’s what I discovered:

  • Sherwin Williams – at their stand-alone stores: paint samples (1 qt @ $6 ea) do not match the swatch and take 3-4 coats (!) to cover.
  • Valspar – at Lowes: paint samples (8 oz @ $2 ea) kind of match the swatches and take 3-4 coats (!) to cover.
  • Behr Ultra – at Home Depot: paint samples (8 oz @ $3 ea) in darker shades match the swatches in 2 coats.
  • Behr Premium Plus – at Home Depot: paint samples ($?) take more than 3 coats to match the swatch…but I gave up because I decided I didn’t like the color.
  • Benjamin Moore – at Ace Hardware: paint samples (2 oz @ $4 ea) match their swatches in 1-2 coats and I believe BM paint is THE best.  Ever.

Every time I have used Benjamin Moore paint, I have been enthusiastically satisfied with its coverage, low odor, and fast drying time.  Their paint is far superior (in my opinion) to Behr, Valspar, and Sherwin Williams.  However, the new Behr Ultra paint with the paint-and-primer-in-one is earning some high marks.  (and it costs A LOT less @$30/gal vs. $50/gal for BM)

The funny thing about the paint color I’ve chosen is that I didn’t even get a sample for it until today.  Yesterday, I finished painting the samples on the dining room wall and, through process of elimination and comparing what was on the wall to other paint swatches I’d collected, I found that I liked a previously eliminated swatch best of all.  In my frustration with Sherwin Williams’ mis-matched samples, I blended together 1 part Universal Khaki and 1 part Amazing Gray and found that I liked that color best of all.  Knowing that SW didn’t mix it right and that their paint takes 3-4 coats to cover, I figured I should flip through my Behr Ultra swatches to find one that closely matched my creation and would only take 2 coats to cover.

That’s when I found it:  Perfect Taupe.  Of course.  The one that’s named Perfect.  Naturally.

So here it is, folks….our new downstairs paint color, Perfect Taupe by Behr Ultra…

Projects Continued: The Dining Room

Our dining room is the busiest area of our house.  It’s the place we eat, where the kids color, I craft, Danny plans, and where forts are built.  We have a counter height dining table with leaves so that the table expands from seating 6 to 8 comfortably.  My favorite light fixture, a West Elm find that I bought before our house was even framed, is hung in our dining room.  We have a large framed mirror from Ikea (Hemnes) that we’ve hung horizontally with a sweet wall decal and another Ikea shoe cabinet (also Hemnes) beneath that holds mail, coloring supplies, coupons, etc.:

I’m pretty happy with our dining room…but we would like some room to move around in there! We are planning on putting in white banquette seating, hanging curtains, some new art and maybe sconces, moving the chandelier, and brightening up the dining table by adding a casual linen tablecloth:

Upcoming Home Projects

We live in San Diego on a teeny-tiny, postage-stamp-sized lot in a good neighborhood that is near our parents and we have THE BEST neighbors. There is a vacant lot north of our house, so our lot doesn’t seem so small….and it’s kind of a nice view when the grass (weeds) is green. It is a 3 bedroom/2.5 bath home with an office, master suite, and huge deck (since we have no flat yard). We custom (hand-)built our house in 2008 when I was pregnant with our 2nd child.

This house is perfect for a family of four…but as a family of five, we are kind of busting at the seams. We have considered moving to a bigger house. However, the prospect of moving and having to make necessary repairs to a bigger home (which would have to be older to fall into our price range) is pretty much a deal breaker for me. So, we mutually agreed to make our current (smallish) home as functional for our family as possible AND I get to decorate….like for real decorate….not just wait and see if we move into a different house and then I really get my hands dirty. Nope, NOW.  So, I’ve flipped through magazines, scoured the internet, and examined almost every space in our house to see what kind of modifications we can make that are DIY projects (or ones that my live-in handyman can do), that fall within our modest budget, and don’t require months of disorder in our home.

Today I will start with our kitchen. We built our kitchen when I was 8 months pregnant in July 2008 with Ikea cabinets. We used the white Stat line with the beadboard door fronts and have really enjoyed the functionality and flow of our kitchen. All of our appliances are stainless steel and we did a custom granite tile counter top from The following are some exampes of the current kitchen (not actual…my old iPhone that has the pictures on it is dead and I’m too lazy to go plug it in):

We plan to put lights above the bar
Add a crushed glass tile backsplash
Paint a framed chalkboard next to the wall cabinets

And beautify the pantry!
To be continued…………………………