3.13.2014

House-y Dreams

The other day I had a realization.  Bear with me!  But I'm wondering if any of you have come to the same conclusion?  For most of my twenties and early thirties I held an image in my mind, a picture of what my "future life" would look like.  It included (in the very early days) dreams of my husband and our future kids, and the kind of life we would lead.

Thankfully, my husband and three kiddos are the center of my life, and they are the fulfillment of my most precious dreams!  But I also dreamed of our house, because, well, that's just what I do.  Usually I imagined we'd live here:



Or here:


Or certainly here (who are those people in the photo and why are they in my imaginary house?):


The future was always unknown and hazy, and there was always the sense that something new and exciting was just around the bend, something that would tell me we'd "arrived" at our life.  Someday we'd live in a big, white, rambling country farmhouse.  Someday I'd have the perfect hydrangeas in my side yard and six fireplaces to choose from when wondering where to sip my coffee or wine.

Do you see where I'm going with this?  Looking back on where our path has taken us, that white cottage farmhouse has yet to materialize!  As newlyweds we started with a charming little bungalow in Mt. Lookout, a fun, hip (or was it only hip ten years ago when I was hip?) suburb of Cincinnati:



We moved to Colorado in 2007 and took on a little more rustic, almost Craftsman-style house:


Then we went way off my usual grid in 2010 with a 1930s Spanish Colonial in San Francisco, CA:


Followed by a 1950s ranch, also in San Francisco, which gave me a big lesson in decorating a rental house that was seriously in need of help!


And now, finally, to our home here in Cincinnati, where we plan to stay for as long as life allows:


It's funny, isn't it? Now that I'm 37 (and not 25!), I know that perfect white cottage on the 5 acre farmland with white picket fences is never coming my way.  And you know what?  I am SO OK with that!  Instead, we have a home built in 1979, surrounded by great neighbors and sidewalks, in a community I love.  We have one fireplace, not six, and though I try to make the house look like it was plucked from a charming English countryside, it was not, and I love it anyway because it is ours.  

Do you get me?  Do you find a joy (and even relief!) in being content with what your life holds, even though it doesn't match your younger self's dreams?  Don't get me wrong, I'll always be tweaking and trying to convince my husband to add a picket fence (hopefully this spring!) and a cupola with a weather vane on top of the house and more hydrangeas and a stone walkway and...and...and...

But we're here for the long haul, and I couldn't be happier.  Does that sound familiar to any of you? I'd love to hear!  :)    



2.27.2014

One of My Favorite Blogs

Y'all.

(I'm not from the South but I am allowed to say that today due to my subject matter.)

I can't believe I've never introduced you to my cousin Jenny.  She lives in Atlanta (hence the y'all) and is a real interior designer.  Like, one that actually went to school for it.  Unlike me, who went to the Ballard-Designs-Pottery-Barn-Craig's-List-Country-Living-Magazine-Garage-Sale School of Design. 

Here she is, with her adorable son, Ward.


A few years ago, Jenny started a blog called Long & Found.  She is so talented, I can't even tell you.  Just look at this pumpkin she created for her son's preschool fundraiser.


Or these gorgeous chairs that she re-did. (Garage sale find! Love that.)


She has lots of DIY posts, which are my favorite kind.  You have to check out her son's room and the growth chart she made from a 1x10, white paint and a steel wool and vinegar concoction to oxidize the wood.


Now, I should warn you that Jenny just released some very exciting news...she's due with identical twin boys this summer!  She's going to be one very busy mama of three pretty soon!  I follow her on Pinterest and I know she's plotting a big boy room for her soon-to-be two year old, and a nursery for her little guys too.  I'm so excited to see what she does next!

In advance, you're welcome.  You'll love her!  :)




2.03.2014

Baby Vivi is Here!

I have a confession to make.  

I've been holding out on you!

There was a new little person in our Christmas card photo this year.


And a new nursery to decorate in pink and green.


Vivian Frances was born August 9, 2013.  We couldn't be happier.  It's been a long road, but she was worth the wait.  :)


We've had lots of rocking and cuddling.


Lots of diaper changes.


(Some) sleeping.


And lots of fun times creating another little girl bedroom.  (When we could muster the time and energy!  Guess that's why it took me almost 6 months to update you!)


Life with three kids is such a blessing and was what we always hoped for.  I'm so glad to finally share the news with you all!  

If you'd like to know any of the details/sources about Vivi's room, see my handy little list below:

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore "Love and Happiness"
Crib Bumper: Carousel Designs "Shabby Chenille" 
Ruffled Crib Skirt: Pottery Barn Kids
Gingham Curtains: Pottery Barn Kids
Rug: Joss & Main
Monogram Above Crib: The Girly Twirly Gift Company



10.22.2013

Our Forever House

Hello again friends!

Last but not least I am SO excited to show you what we've done to the outside of our house!  Looking at these photos, I can hardly believe how many changes we've made since last June.  Here's a photo of the house from the day we toured with the home inspector (and bug guy, apparently):


And...here it is today!


So, we've made some pretty big changes on the outside!  First up, obviously, was painting the lower half of the house.  We may have scared some neighbors in our traditional little neighborhood, being weird enough to cover over red brick!  But I'd always dreamed of having a white house with black shutters!  I've cut out picture after picture of them for years.  And, since we were only painting half the house (to match the existing siding), it wasn't terribly expensive!


We also replaced the front door and sidelight, as well as the exterior lighting fixture.  A big cost savings was that my ever-handy husband took on the job of making the new shutters himself.  I love that man.  The shutter style is called board and batten, and it took many weekends of cutting, sanding, priming, painting, and nail gunning, but the effect is worth it!  We added faux shutter dogs to the bottoms, just because we like them. (So I've learned, shutter dogs are those little hook-y things at the bottom of the shutters, to hold them in place.  Ours have no function except looking cute, because everything is bolted into the brick.)  :)


Here's a before photo of the back of the house.  You can see that all the flower beds, in the front and back yard, had teeny tiny rocks in them, instead of mulch.  I can't tell you how much these rocks stressed me out, especially when they started showing up in my kids' pockets, all over the floors, in between my dog's paws, you name it.  Those things just scattered everywhere!


Though it was a monumental pain (and rather heartbreaking when we considered how much the previous owners must have spent on installing them!), we gave all those rocks away for free on Craig's List.  It took my husband weeks to dig them all out of the beds, dump them on our driveway, reline the beds with weed barrier, and then shovel in loads and loads...and loads...of black mulch.  Thank goodness that was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of project!


A big selling point for us was always this large brick patio on the back of the house.  Here's a before shot:


...and the after.  Envisioning lots of great summer parties out here!


Our wood furniture fits perfectly around the outdoor rug I picked up from Ballard Designs last summer.  I spend lots of hours here watching the kiddos play on the play set, and it's nice and shady in the hot afternoon sun.

So there you have it!  Our renovation is mostly complete, and now you know why I haven't been hanging around my blog as much as I used to!  We found our forever house, and I am so thankful for it.  I hope you've enjoyed the tour!  :)


9.28.2013

Our Master Bedroom Renovation

Hi everyone!  

First of all, thank you so much for your comments!  I have been so busy lately I haven't been in to "visit" my blog and respond to you, but I've loved reading them and hearing from you.  Please forgive me for not hanging around more frequently and chatting with you!

Almost done with the interior renovations in our house...and, as usual, the master bedroom had to wait a long time to get it's face lift.  But I'm so pleased with the result!  Here is a "before" of the master, with me standing in the doorway to get the photo:


And here it is today!  This photo is a little wider angle, but you can see that just moving the bed to a different wall really opened up the room.  We painted the room "Olive Gray" by Olympic (but we asked the paint store to dilute it by 50%, in case you're looking to get this same color for your room).  Don't miss my cowhide rug, which I love, from my local Ikea.


Below is another "before" shot of my (temporarily) invalid husband, then recovering from Achilles surgery.  On the far wall is the entrance to the master bath, and the door to the hallway is on the left.


(Kind of) the same shot, updated.  My buffalo check curtains have always lived in the family room, but by some happy accident I caught a glimpse of how perfectly they would go in the bedroom, and I just love them!


Here's just a shot of the dressing room portion of the master bathroom (which I won't be showing you in detail anytime soon, because it's WAY down on the list of renovation priorities!)


But in this next photo you can really see what a difference a little fabric makes!  I had extra curtains that I wasn't using anywhere else in the house, and I thought it might be nice to add some more texture.  I'm a big fan of hanging curtains around other things besides windows, just to keep things interesting!


And I've saved the best for last...up next is the exterior of our house.  See you soon!  :)


8.23.2013

Our Brilliant Idea for TV Storage!

Good morning!

I'm taking a break from "before and after" to show you our new TV armoire, because I think this is a brilliant idea!  We had a rather shallow/narrow space in our family room to put a TV, and I didn't really want to mount it on the wall (mostly because I didn't have the mental energy to decorate around a TV on the wall...it seemed easier to stick it in something...but what?).  A typical entertainment unit or armoire would have been way too deep for the space, and it would have cut into the primary walkway through the room (refer to the photos below to see what I mean).  

So we scoured Craig's List and found an old china cabinet for $50.  You can see it below in all it's glory.  I think the people we bought it from were...um...surprised that anyone wanted it!



My husband removed the glass doors and reworked some of the wood trim, and I painted the whole thing (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Chateau Grey with dark wax on top, in case you're curious!).  We added some new hardware too.  It ended up being only 18 inches deep, perfect for a flat screen TV, and gives us extra storage in the bargain! 



I don't know why I never thought of it before!  With TVs being so skinny these days, why buy a big old piece of furniture to hold them?  For us, this was the perfect solution!


Next up is our master bedroom renovation...see you soon!  :)


8.07.2013

My Family Room & Kitchen

Hi everyone!  I'm back to share some photos of our family room renovation, with a little kitchen thrown in too.  These areas are connected, and definitely contain the majority of our "living" in this house.  When we're awake anyway.  :)

The feel of the house when we bought it last summer was cozy, but I knew I wanted to make some changes to reflect our taste.  Here is a "before" of the family room:


And here is the "after," from basically the same angle.  I stepped backward a few more paces but you get the idea!


I actually painted this room a warm green/beige at first, but within 24 hours I knew it was the wrong color!  The room doesn't get a ton of direct sunlight and the color felt cold.  My husband, who is ridiculously patient with me, agreed to add this board and batten wall treatment to give the room some interest.  Then I painted the upper portion of the wall "Echelon Ecru" by Sherwin Williams.


Here's a "before" of the fireplace, which is wood burning and was one of the main things I loved about the house.  I think I cried the first time we used this...on a chilly day...in September.  A little eager?  :)


The "after."  We painted the whole fireplace white ("Roman Column" by Sherwin Williams) and it updated the look instantly.


This next photo gives you an idea of the kitchen, which is adjacent to the family room.  I am standing near the fireplace to take the photo, if that makes any sense!


I'm not showing you too much of the kitchen, because, other than paint over the plum color on the walls, we haven't done a lot.  We know that in the long-term, we hope to give the kitchen a major overhaul but that takes lots of cash, as we all know!  We'd rather save up and do it right in a few years. In the meantime, it's functional, and I can dream!


 This last photo is my favorite, because it gives you a sense of how the room "feels" when you walk in now.  I love the textures and colors together.  The seagrass rug was a $50 Craig's List find and the antique Persian rug on top was something I found at an antique shop in Ohio's Amish country...all balled up and forlorn, filthy, just waiting for me to come and rescue it!  (And on a related note, I now know how to hand-wash antique rugs in my driveway, in case you ever need to know.)



We're almost done with our home renovation tour...I'll be back soon with some more details!