house in the ‘burbs

dining room elimination

just a little update on the state of the homestead…

a year or so ago we worked really hard to pull together this lovely dining room.

and very recently, we decided to eliminate it. oh yes, you heard me right… we moved the big dining table into the eat-in kitchen area. i know..  #mindblown
here’s why: we never, ever stepped foot in the dining room. the last time we sat down and ate around the big table was christmas.  when we’ve had people over for any other sort of sit-down-and-eat occasion, we have pulled chairs up to our round, white table in the kitchen area and squished. the closed-off-ish dining room was never very inviting or conducive to any sort of casual entertaining. in short- it was a waste of space.
this area in the kitchen has plenty of room for the big table and is so light and bright and open to the rest of the first floor.
we now can showcase our pottery barn table (hands down, the biggest furniture investment we have ever made!) as well as my beloved bar cart.
here is the kitchen (below) before the switch. i love open space and all, but this is a whole lot of space and a bit sparse.  to make more room for the table, i got rid of those cross-back stools. i’ll eventually replace them with more subtle, back-less stools.
the white table [for three] remains for now because dane eating on the pottery barn table over a rug is far too anxiety provoking (1/3 of his food hits the table and/or floor each meal). i tried sitting him at the end of the big table with a placemat, but it didn’t go over well. the wipeable surface over hardwood is ideal.
so far this arrangement has been working really well for us. i also think, as our family grows and we spill over to multiple tables during holidays, it will be really fun to eat together in the big, open kitchen area as opposed to the claustrophobic [former] dining space.
as for the dining room… its basically looking the same – sans the table – at the this point. we think it will slowly be converted into an office and activity/homework area for dane.
and you guys.. i have like a half-dozen little projects in the works right now. i swear. they are anywhere from 20-90% complete and i’m excited to share them so check back in soon!

i hung a rug on the wall

there’s this big wall in our tv room above the couch that has been problematic since we moved in. it’s big and it needed something big and interesting on it. our first two feeble attempts fell (very) short…
we couldn’t take the rhino any longer so we took everything down. it was blank for over a year. i sort of gave up. 
and then over the long weekend, i hung a rug on it. and i think i like it. 
big: check. interesting: check.
but lets rewind.
i found this cool “denim” rug at urban outfitters on ridiculous sale and i liked it a lot, but was fresh out of floors to put it on. (they currently only have the 3×5 in stock.. but i got a 5×7 for $63 ($79 + 20% off) and free shipping. insane). so i ordered it and told mike i wanted to hang it on the wall and god bless his soul, he helped me do it.
i initially pictured this situation with wooden dowels, but home depot didn’t have right size, so i ended up with some sort of aluminum/metal(?) pipes.. super cheap, like $4 each.. and spray painted the ends and the hooks “aged copper” by rust-oleum.
to create the pockets for the pipes, i used industrial strength velcro. on a total whim…, i had no idea if it would work (the rug is heavy!). turns out, this stuff is legit. the adhesive and velcro are super strong. it worked perfectly. $28 for 15 ft, but worth it.

.. a couple wall anchors, hooks and screws and it was up.

and that’s my story.

i’d like to give a shout out to my loving husband who goes along with my weird ideas and to the guy at home depot who walked us around the store showing me various pipe and dowel options and didn’t bat an eye when i told him it was for holding up a rug.

happy labor day!

keeping on

hi. i’m back.. the past 1.5 months have been… challenging… wonderful… exhausting.
i go through phases. i think i’ve mentioned this before. some mornings i’ll drink a coffee and feel this overwhelming surge of creative energy where i have to paint something or clean up part of a room to take pictures or surf pinterest aimlessly. other times it all feels so… stupid. for lack of a better word, its sort of stupid to take photos of rooms in your house and put them on the internet when you have a million more important things to do. and even when i don’t, sometimes i just don’t feel it. when i’m super busy at work (lately) or stressed about time, money, schedules (lately as well) i can’t find the energy to chit chat about washi tape and glitter. at the same time, deep down, i love this stuff and wish i could keep the ball rolling here on my little interweb.

not to mention i lost my camera battery charger for a week or two again then found it over the weekend in a very obvious place. OY.

so here we go- here is how the basement tv area has shaped up so far. pardon the glare on the tv screen, its bad.

so the rug and the cool rocking chair are from amazon (affiliate links on my side bar shopping list  thingy >>>)

shakey still doesn’t love it down here. ok, he hates it and we basically have to carry him down the stairs. its going to be the coolest place to hang out this summer, so we need to figure out a way to change his mind.

these side tables are target gems.

rest assured, this floor is otherwise dane land. 

he’s had a lot of fun down here already! there is zero organization or order or plan for either, but we are more than ok with that.

same goes for my “super-chic bedroom” down here. for the unforeseeable future, it will remain the tiger’s lair and jungle gym.

wallpapered cabinet doors

we got the upgraded cabinet doors back on the built-ins just in time for dane’s party.

when our contractor left, they were in need of some serious attention.

i wanted to add texture, but keep it white and simple. here is my inspiration —

i used martha stewart beadboard wallpaper to try to copy this vibe (in an easy and cheap sorta way). this textured, paintable wallpaper is genius. there are all sorts of patterns and widths and designs, its the perfect diy-on-a-dime medium.
these are a few in-progress pictures i took with my iphone. the first one is my “model” (its a creative process, people!) the second shows how we were playing around with wrapping the wallpaper around the cabinet doors and making sure they lined up (which was a little more difficult than we thought).

once we had the pattern lined up best we could, we cut it to size using a mat cutting razor. next, we smeared the door with wallpaper glue and slid the piece into place.

the final step was cutting two extra pieces for each diagonal, uncovered corner (not pictured). when the faces of the cabinet doors were fully wallpapered, mike gave them each two coats of the ultra white semi-gloss valspar paint we used on the rest of the shelves.
the doors don’t hang perfectly and i wish i thought to spray the hinges to match the new hardware, but i’m over it. the result is just what i had in mind and i’m happy.

the ring pulls are the same ones we used in the nightstand makeover last fall. quite the improvement i’d say!

i am counting down the days until mike must pass along his elaborate fantasy football trophy to last season’s new winner. i’m told this happens at the next draft. i am so outnumber by all these boys in my house.

the rest of the shelves are not quite presentable yet. i do not plan on making a big fuss about the “styling” or spending more than a few dollars on fluff for them, but i would like to put a little effort toward a little “reveal” for the memory books… potentially i can work around my TWO bridal showers and make it a weekend project!

oh and TGI freaking F.

finished, carpeted, so on and so forth

i’m trying extra hard to keep up with life this week… i can’t complain because it is due in part to a completely self-indulgent weekend i just spent in miami for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party. (and it was fun. so fun.) but of course this week i am just feeling a little behind, a little short on sleep, and entirely unprepared for my baby boy to turn 2. (update: it happened. this post took me all week to turn-around!)
this carpet went in a couple weeks ago, so i want to finally put up the latest round of pictures. as you can see, it is very dark with a peppery mix of brown and black. its not what i would choose for a photo shoot or a show house by any means, but for practical reasons such as muddy paws and sticky toddler fingers, i am happy with this choice.

here are the much-more-welcoming stairs —

and the nice, big, empty room featuring our new $300 craigslist leather couch–

the almost-done built-ins–

for which we found a way to make these glorious ikea ranarp clamp spotlights work. these things were $20 each!–

the lower cabinet doors are still in progress–

i decided to leave the back of the built-ins as-is. the wood grain is so beautiful, it was a no-brainer. we are still researching the best way to seal/protect the wood–

these pictures were taken after work one evening… 6ish? and there is still a decent flow of natural light through the doors–

this is one of the better photos in terms of true paint color and minimal fill-light used in my editing. and look at the pretty ceiling–

still very little progress in the bedroom, but its about ready to actually be made into a bedroom… excitement!
the view looking out–
and of course some toys have already found their way down here… i am going to add a little curtain rod to this closet (slash-parking garage) for easy in & out–

our treadmill will go over here–

behind these double doors is unfinished work/storage space–

that’s a wrap!

dane had a tough run of sniffles and fevers the past couple weeks, but he is so much better now and rearing to go for his family birthday party this weekend.

the basement rug

the final, outsourced piece of our finished basement puzzle is happening tomorrow. then we are done… and if we’re not done, we are on. our. own.
we made such a last minute rug choice a few months back, that i don’t even have a picture of the sample we picked. i thought we were going with a grey industrial carpet, but then we changed our minds right before decision time to a fuller, softer, salt-and-peppery-colored berber. we had empire come give us a quote first. then we met with the local guy recommended by our contractor. if his price was anywhere close, we really preferred to give our business to local guy. it was close. better, even. so we called empire to cancel and get our deposit back (because you know, you only get that “really special price” if you book the installation and give them a deposit that same day…) empire of course promised to beat the competitor’s price, but we said, no thanks, and felt good about giving local guy the job.

anyway, i have a special treat for you today. a guest blogger. i’m going to let shakespeare tell the rug choosing story since he was very involved in the process.
take it away shakey…

hi. i’m shakespeare and i’m 4.

i spend a lot of time with my bully body on rugs, so i was pleased when my mom & dad asked me to help pick one out for our new basement, which, quite frankly, i find terrifying. i am not messing around with those scary, uncarpeted stairs. 

at any rate…. we had a lot of choices..

mom wanted something cheap (because she will be layering with area rugs) and dark (because me and my brother are very messy… and mom spills a lot).
at first, i was torn between these two…
then i got a really good feeling about this one.. and i know my mom is into grey…
so i did some due-diligence..
yes, this is definitely the one. “mom, pick this one!” i shouted.

at first they agreed. i thought this grey rug and i would grow old together…

but next thing i know, mom and dad end up going with a completely different berber rug instead. they tell me it is cushier and will feel better under my bully paws. i hope so… i really don’t like the idea of those stairs..

built in-spiration

slowly, the built-ins are looking a little more built and a little more in. the most notable update is the chunky wood frame around the fireplace.

here it is a few days ago pre-frame:

and now after our neighbor framed it with some pine floor boards he had left over from a previous project. it will really highlight the fireplace once everything (especially doors on either side) is/are painted.

what to do with the back of the shelves is keeping me up at night… stephanie 6 months ago would be painting it all a bold, contrasting color for sure. but stephanie today is way more into white, neutral, natural.. and speaking in the third person.

here are a couple of my favorite built-in pins. are they telling me to paint that back wall blue/grey?


let’s flash back to when we first bought the house. can you believe it?  this red wall makes no sense. the built-in white tv window-thing is oddly off-center and.. my gosh these colors.. also please note the closet door to the left that was just chopped off at the bottom. this is something..

so, even under construction, it is so rewarding to see the difference.

i have plans for these doors. they will be white like the rest of the unit, but i’ll be attempting to add texture and interest with a little scheme i dreamed up.

and new hardware. stat.

a visual update

ok, i’m just going to show you pictures. i started to try to write words, but its not happening. work has been so busy and my brain is too mushy to string together large groups of words.

star light is in.

i sort of want to marry it.

built-ins are built.

they need a few finishing touches and a lot of paint, but getting there.

one of aforementioned finishing touches is figuring out how to make these lights work..

ceiling also needs a lot of paint. but is basically done and is awesome.

last monday we spent the holiday painting. the walls are benjamin moore revere pewter. its a warm grey. i worried it was too dark, but i think it will be ok once the ceiling and trim all have fresh coats of white.

here’s a little diy project mike is not looking forward to. we are tiling around the door to save the future carpet from entry traffic and, god forbid, leakage from this door.

we’ve enlisted dane to help with the painting. we are desperate. he has mastered pretend rolling the floor, so that’s helpful (teaser on a little wall art project here. don’t worry, we will not be hanging spoons anywhere).

peace out red.

what a difference some paint can make!

we need to paint the railing. what do you think, white? black? dark stain?

you can find more literary masterpieces right here as the drama unfolds later this week.

basement built-ins and fireplace

in the planning stages we made a list of needs, wants, and would-be-nices. a ventless gas fireplace to cozy things up was in the would-be-nice category. the more the idea marinated, the more we decided we really wanted it and should invest in it now while everything is being ripped apart and put back together. how glorious is this set-up below? you would never know you’re in a basement.


we researched and shopped and discussed with our contractor and the all-in price tag for the fireplace would be somewhere in the ungodly neighborhood of 6k-8k (for the unit, the gas line, the labor, etc etc). absolutely out of the question. we were sad. then we thought outside the box and researched electric fireplaces. sounds lame and fake, but after seeing some of the technology out there, it was clear that we could get the same warm, cozy glow for way way way less with one of these units that plugs right into an outlet.

we wanted an insert to go inside the built-in unit. we kept coming back to this same dimplex model.

i like the “linear” look (as its called in the industry). at 50″ long, it will really make a statement in the unit under the tv. the going rate for these is about $1400. not cheap, but not $8k either. it was doable. i shopped around (these are sold by a number of vendors). and bought one on sale with an additional 5% off (and free shipping).
BLF50 Dimplex Linear Wall-Mount Electric Fireplace
$1,199.99 x 1

Subtotal: $1,199.99
Discount: $60.00
Shipping: $0.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Total: $1,139.99

i was pretty pleased with myself. funny how looking at the cost of the gas version made this feel like a steal (while it is really still so much $$!).

if you are an amazon person, like me, they also carry the same dimplex model (here).

the guys are working on this now, so when i am back from vacation, i should be able to show you how it becomes a reality!

by the way, if any burglars are reading, my sister will be house sitting all week with our fierce bulldog. and she has guns.

oh god am i going to miss this pup.

1. lighting
2. ceiling
3. fireplace
4. built-ins
5. paint
6. carpet

a ceiling

i felt strongly about the ceiling for the basement since day 1. i wanted to avoid a dropped ceiling at all costs. maybe you didn’t know about the self discovery involved with finishing a basement .. I discovered that my hatred for dropped ceiling tiles runs deep.

after some pinteresting and houzzing, i decided i needed to have beadboard… something like this.


it took a couple weeks of work.. plumbers, electricians, etc, dealing with heat ducts and wiring up there, but finally the ceiling panels are going up. first was the “strapping”..

and next the planks (just sheets of wainscotting we got at home depot)..

obviously a lot of painting will be happening after the ceiling is fully intact. you have to use your imagination a little, but i’m liking what i’m seeing.

as you can tell we are creeping toward a finished product. so much work to do before anything is “pretty”, but the heavy lifting is almost done! a carpet and a mother load of paint will make a world of difference. (you are all invited to the painting party. i’m serious.)

the final task for the contractor is the built-in shelving/entertainment center. basically the heart of the room. my head is spinning with ideas, you have no idea!

1. lighting
2. ceiling
3. fireplace
4. built-ins
5. paint
6. carpet