I’m Back!

Ever since the school year started and the kids have gone back to school, I’ve been working. I’m lucky because I only work while the kids are at school, but when they get home, it’s snack time, homework time, soccer time, cleaning time, piano time… everything but blog time.  But, I’ve decided to start my New Year’s resolution early and start blogging consistently again. I don’t know how consistently, but more than once every 3 months!  I love documenting the progress of my house… it gives me motivation to look at the “after” pictures and think, “yeah, that room now looks like us!”

Since September, I am now so close to finishing the living room, I can taste it! The only things that needed to be done at last check in was to get an area rug (done!), get a side chair (done!), and put up a few more things on the walls (done!). Really the only thing not done is to get a pillow to put on the new side chair… that’s like nothing!

First up, the rug… I got this beauty from Joss and Main although they did have the same rug at RugsUSA.com if you’re looking for it. I wanted something light and since this room doesn’t see a lot of traffic, I don’t have to worry about getting dirt all over the rug. I also wanted some contrast with the dark floors and I wanted something classic (no large graphic prints). This rug fit the bill beautifully! It’s also super soft to walk on as a little bonus.

rug 2


white rug

Next up is the chair that I got from Home Goods. Normally I go to Home Goods and look at the furniture and think, “that’s a great piece, if only I had a place to put it.” This chair was just the perfect shade of brown to compliment the couch and print gave it some visual interest. I didn’t want something solid colored since the two blue side chairs and the couch was already solid colored. Honestly, the chair is not that comfortable to sit in, but hardly anyone sits in it anyway. Only when we have a lot of people over, does it get any use.

arm chair

Next is the mirrors next to the chair. I got these on clearance from Target and as much as I didn’t want even more mirrors in the living room (I have 4 already), I didn’t want to put up a print that competed with the kids’ portraits above the piano. Shelves also didn’t make sense since the space was so small, so mirrors it is!


New Floors in the Living Room

A picture’s worth a thousand words, right???  Well, this post is going to be mostly pictures.


The new floors were installed in the living room and the baseboards are painted so I moved in the furniture little by little and took a hard look at what I wanted to change in the room and what I wanted to keep the same.   So, here’s the final living room re-do:


Living Room 13


Living Room 14

Here’s the progression:

Living Room 1Move in the couch and piano (Sofia moved herself in)

Living Room 2Add the huge mirror, side table, accent chair, stool, and teal dresser

Living Room 8

Add the second mirror (gold), the coffee table, and a few knick knacks

Living Room 14

Style the teal dresser

coffee table

Style the coffee table

side table 1

Style side table #1

side table 2

Style side table #2

side table 3*

Other side of the room (that’s still is a work in progress):


After hanging pictures above the couch, the room is D.O.N.E. (for now)!  The only thing I need to do is to get a neutral colored rug and also find a chair to put next to the piano.  Then I’ll really be DONE!

Living Room 13

Layered Window Treatment in the Living Room

After a couple years of no privacy in the living room, I finally installed blinds.  No more dashing by the window in my PJs at night or feeling self-conscious that I was being “watched” while lying on the sofa to read at night.  Now I can just pull down the shades and viola, nekkid dancing in the living room time anytime I want… Just kidding :).   I don’t dance.

The reason why it took so long to install blinds is that I didn’t want to shell out another $6oo for blinds like we did in the office.  The office bay window is the same exact size as the living room window and I paid waaaaay too much for the office blinds at Home Depot.  Well, when I was shopping for blinds for Sofia’s room, I came across some at J.C. Penney that were exactly what I was looking for at an awesome price.


Here is what the living room window looked before the blinds:



 (Don’t mind the lack of curtain on the right.  The dry cleaners washed it in water instead of dry cleaning it, ruined it, and are paying for another.  I’m just waiting for it to come in.)


And here’s the after:







Yay, privacy!

Knock-off Designer Living Room: Layers

When we moved into our house from the townhouse, I realized that there were a few extra rooms that we were gaining that I didn’t have in the townhouse.  A formal living room was one.  So, I started buying a few pieces here and there and storing it in the townhouse.  There wasn’t a lot of room in the townhouse to begin with so you can imagine I was looking forward to moving ASAP to get the extra furniture in their proper rooms and out of our way (there were a lot of bruised hips and toes for a couple months).  Our formal living room is one of the first rooms I started designing in my head, and buying a few pieces for, even before moving.


I wanted to have an eclectic living room and I really liked the below living room designed by Elaine Griffin published in Better Homes and Gardens:

Living Room Inspiration

Using my inspiration photo I came up with this living room arrangement, which seeing them side by side, I realize that they are very different, but I think the flavor is similar.  I’d like to take down the wallpaper that came with the house and paint the walls either a soft blue or soft green.


I used a lot of layering in this arrangement mirrors, stool, chair, side table.  Everything is layered.  I think that’s important when you have a small room that is essentially just a rectangle with no real architectural features except for the bay window.


The piano occupies the other side of the living room.


Side couch view


Close up of the side of couch


Coffee table objects


Pics of the kids above the piano (I still have to put a photo into the gold frame)


And finally the teal dresser that the website is named after!

     There’s a space next to the piano that I need to fill with a comfy chair, but I haven’t seen one that I like for the right price.  In addition to tearing down the wallpaper and painting, I’d also love to replace the carpet with hardwoods and find a beautiful area rug to add even more color.

     Creating this room was a lot cheaper than the designer room that I based the room off of.  The teal dresser was a free piece of furniture that a friend was going to throw away.  It was sort of an eyesore since it was old (it belonged to her grandfather) and it was dusty, but it was well built so I asked her to have it and a few coats of paint later, it was fit for the living room.

     Most of the knick-knacks were from Target, Pottery Barn or West Elm (when I had a coupon), or Michaels with a coupon (the vases on the teal dresser) so I saved money there.  I got the two light blue chairs with a Groupon for a furniture store in my area and the mirrors were either from Home Goods (the large brownish mirror) or from my childhood (the gold mirror).  The end tables and little bee stool near the mirrors were from Ballard Designs (it was one of their “Bring Home Ballard” deals).

     Curtains were from Pottery Barn (again on sale).  The only truly costly items were the couch (Ethan Allan) because I wanted it to last a long time and I knew it could withstand the stomp of our family since it was in the “formal” living room which is used a whole lot less than the family room.  The piano also cost a boatload but my kids all take piano lessons weekly and Sofia has a “gift for piano” (her instructor’s words, not mine… I don’t know diddly squat about playing piano) so I wanted them to have a nice instrument that they could grow with.  Our first piano I got from Salvation Army for $100 because I didn’t know if the kids would be interested enough to stick with piano but then we upgraded when I saw the motivation kick in.  So, oddly enough, our current piano is actually the most expensive piece of furniture in the house which doesn’t say a lot!  Good luck truckin’ off with that robbers!

     Still working on what color to paint Sofia’s room.  She’s thinking green and purple.  I’m thinking not… but it’s her room.  We’re off to look at paint samples after school today and hopefully it will be painted in the next few days.

Craigslist Find

Finding items on Craigslist for far below retail can be exciting and an affordable way to furnish a home.  I hate paying retail for something that I know I can get at a discount and also I like the idea of reusing something that would otherwise be considered “trash.”

I had a nook in my family room where I wanted to put a desk but the desks that I found online were just too big, so I thought I’d head over to Ana White’s site to find some plans to make my own desk.  Of course I found what I was looking for but with the holidays, I put off the project.  At the same time, I did my regular check on Craigslist to find out what was out there and came across the PERFECT desk for $75 (much cheaper than even building a desk).  So, I grabbed my husband and we checked it out.  It was just the right size but had a few scratches on the chair that came with it, so the seller knocked the price down to $50 which was great!

Here is the nook before the desk (and before the installation of the  baseboards):


And here it is with the desk:


The desk opens up which we don’t use that often since we use a laptop which just sits on top of the desk.  But here’s a shot with the desk opened up:


I added a 3×5 area rug that I picked up from Target to help with scuffing the new floors.  I think it goes well enough with our “Y” rug but I’m still on the hunt for something that goes better.


I’m happy with my find since I got a desk AND a chair for $50 and didn’t have to break out all my tools and spend a couple hours making a desk.   The size and look are perfect as well as the price.  Score!

For ideas on how to find the best deals on Craigslist, YHL has a great post.  I’d also add that everyone has their quirks on what they won’t buy (used mattresses!) and will buy on Craigslist and I personally don’t buy upholstered furniture on Craigslist since I have kids and dogs and I know how gross upholstered furniture can get.  Besides, I am a major germ freak which definitely plays into that!  That being said, I know lots of people who do buy used couches and chairs from Craigslist and that are super-happy about their find.  It just depends on you!  Happy Craigslisting!

Running Lists…

So now that the family room is looking more presentable, some things still need to be done to complete the room:

The first few are all about lighting since the room desperately needs some.  For now there’s only  one skylight, why only one, I don’t know!  There’s also one window and a set of french doors that look out to the covered porch and because the porch backs up to woods, no light.  So here’s the list:

1.  Two skylights.  Although I like to DIY as much as possible since I have such a long list of items that I want done in the house, I’m not touching skylights!  I don’t do windows or skylights since if installed incorrectly, they could leak and if that happens if professionally installed, I can just call the installers out to fix it and any damage the leak caused.  The contractors that we’ve been using for 12 years (they are awesome!) already gave us a quote of $1,100 for both skylights.

2.  A couple extra tall windows with seats underneath on either side of the fireplace since it would be great to look out at the woods from the family room and also get more light in the room.  Again we’re going with a contractor on this one but this is more pricy at about $3,500, so we’re waiting.

3.  Recessed or pot lights since now we only have one floor lamp lighting the entire room at night.  I don’t know how to do recessed lighting and since it’s a fairly inexpensive project for a contractor to do, I’ll let them take care of this one.


4.  A new sectional couch!  Ours is 10 years old and has gone through 3 small kids and two dogs so it needs to be replaced.  I want something like this one from Crate and Barrel:


I like the clean lines on the couch and the fact that it can seat so many people.  I think family rooms should always be cozy and comfortable, so if at all possible, get a sectional rather than a straight couch.

5.  A storage ottoman to serve as our coffee table.  There’s hardly any storage in the family room so although I’d like a more traditional coffee table, a storage ottoman works better for our family and it’s also more comfortable for putting your feet up.  It also serves as extra seating in a pinch.  I haven’t found a good place to get a nice big storage ottoman so I’m still searching.

6.  A chair for the corner near the fireplace like this one but not this one.  I want something with arms and with a pattern that’s not as dark.  I do like the clean lines on this piece though.  This is from West Elm.


As far as furniture goes, these are some of the stores I hit:

1.  Crate and Barrel (they can be pricy but they do have sales)

2.  Ethan Allen (I only shop here for “fancy” furniture like furniture I’d put in my formal living room because EA is expensive.  BUT, the furniture is very well made so the cost is worth it.  However, for everyday furniture for our family room that I know will take a beating, I normally get inexpensive furniture since I’d rather replace inexpensive furniture when it gets kid grime and dog smell on it, than expensive furniture that I’d be more apt to keep around for longer even though it should get the boot!).

3.  Thomasville (more traditional and expensive so I stick with these pieces in seldom used parts of the house).

4.  West Elm (I like the modern lines of this furniture).

5.  Macy’s (Macy’s has surprisingly good furniture at reasonable prices).

6.  Ikea (I haven’t bought furniture from Ikea yet but I know people who have and they seem happy enough especially considering that Ikea’s prices are so cheap).

7.  Bassett

I know that there are tons more stores out there, but so far, I’ve always been able to find what I want from the above stores.  Does anyone buy furniture from other stores that should be on my list???

Hand Scraped Floors

Our family room is coming along and a big piece of that was replacing the yucky carpet that was in the house when we moved in.  Here is a before picture:


We decided to replace the carpet with hardwood which was a hard decision because my husband likes carpet since it’s soft for lying down on and wrestling our kids to the ground, but I like hardwood because it’s easier to clean and also looks nicer.  In the end, we went with hardwood but only if I promised to get a soft area rug for the wrestling matches (which I was going to do anyway ;)).  Initially I thought about getting bamboo since it’s super durable and also comes from a renewable source but after learning that we could never refinish them since they are made from strands of bamboo that would splinter if refinished, we chose traditional hardwood instead.  I liked the idea of getting hardwood floors that are hand-scraped because it already has some imperfections in them so when my kids or dogs (or me) scratches the floors, I’m hoping that they will be more hidden.  I also wanted a darker hardwood at first, but a lot of people told me that darker hardwoods show more dirt and dust so I went with a medium tone.  At our old house we had 3 inch width strips of hardwood which I didn’t like at all since they look dated so I also wanted something wider.  I also knew that I didn’t want anything with orange or red undertones.  So after researching a lot, I came up with a medium tone, hand scraped hardwood with large planks and no red or orange undertones.

Unfortunately this is the biggest picture I could find, but the link to the product is here.


I only had a small sample to look at when we picked the floors and I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a lot of color variation when the floors were actually laid.  This is what it looks like in the family room:


I LOVE these floors!  See how there are dark pieces mixed in with lighter pieces?  Here’s a better pic to see the contrast in the area near the fireplace:


Here are a few more pics:



I while back I bought a green and white rug that I thought would look great in the family room, but unfortunately, it was an epic FAIL.  The price was right but I guess you get what you pay for because it was scratchy and too thin and all the corners turned up which was a huge tripping hazard so I returned that puppy and bought the above rug from West Elm.  It is perfect!  It’s soft and the gray and tan/beige geometric pattern is exactly right for our family room.  I want to keep the family room fairly neutral so this rug works perfectly.  The only drawback is that it sheds like crazy and fills up my vacuum bag after a couple vacuums.  I know that will taper off soon but in the meantime, we are walking around with rug fuzz on our clothes (even with vacuuming everyday).  But, the shedding is worth it!  I also got a great deal on it (20% off) and although it was expensive to begin with ($850) the 20% off made the price reasonable.  Here is a close up the rug: