51 months in (the christmas edition)

i get so many emails from people who have seen our house on pinterest and ask for floor plans, who built it, do we love this choice or that choice, what have we changed/added since moving in. for the interest: thank you! this house truly was a labor of love for us, and continues to be our happy place in the world.

so if you are coming here from pinterest or, specifically, the one month in post, welcome to the future!

while the house was all clean and christmasy and waiting for guests to arrive last week, i took some new pictures of the space. not every room was photographed, and i will definitely be better about documenting things in 2016 ... i've found a real love for answering emails about our house, and want to offer more to those who are working on their own build or redecorating projects. and once the holidays are put away, i will try to do a more complete tour, including the rooms i didn't photograph last week. i will also update on the projects we have in the works (whether plans only or baby steps being taken) for '16.

without further chattiness ... our house, 51 months in and dressed for the holidays:

 

main floor

i'll start with the entryway, because this post on the craigslist dresser is one of the most pinned things i've posted on the ol' blog.

 

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because of its status, i probably should have taken more than one photo. anyway ... moving on.

 

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the great room is still one of my favorite spots in the house. we literally never use the fireplace (makes the house too hot), but i love the mantel and the built-ins. they remind me of what i loved in our first house - a 1925 bungalow in south minneapolis, and missed in our second house - a 1965 ranch in the 'burbs. and yes, i should have made sure the blinds were equally open before taking the picture.

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i know ... i told you months ago i would share the gallery wall process. i will do that in january. making myself a note Right Now.

 

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(i was inspired by the glass box of travel ephemera in the asid design house that i toured with erin from house of turquoise back in october, and knew a similar box would be perfect for christmas cards. the box is from west elm.)

 

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(blending my old school crosley with marc's new school mp3/receiver/buttony tech.)

 

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(the mantel seemed boring this year ... new garland took up too much real estate and i couldn't put other things out. luckily, i still had a bunch of paper snowflakes from last year - our elf brought them - and added them to the wall around the picture of the kids. perfect filler, zero cash involved.)

 

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moving on to the tv room ... this room has gone through the biggest change since i last blogged about it. four years ago, the room was empty of all but boxes, but i did have some ideas for where it might go. the rug i wanted sold out shortly after falling in love with it, but we moved forward with the white couch and the cabinet of my dreams. and then ... stuck again. we had the couch, we had the cabinet, we had a tv, but the room needed some warmth - a rug, some curtains. so again, i brainstormed. and eventually, it came together. we went with the graphic yellow rug from west elm, and some adorable white curtains - also from west elm; i may need a 12-step program - with translucent circles in the fabric, and sweet little pom pom trim. then i attended junk bonanza with a girlfriend, found a vintage german periodic table school chart, and my life - and this room - was complete. and today, it looks like this:

 

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and ... i took no photos of the kitchen or other areas on the main floor. like i said, post-holiday complete tour is on my To Do list. so, then, let's move

 

upstairs

 

the only room i really photographed is the guest room. it has gone through several looks in the past four years. it started with harper's ikea pull-out bed

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but when she wanted her bed back, we switched it out for the two jenny linds we had put in her room. however, when we upgraded to a king bed over the summer, we did a bedroom furniture shuffle, and put our bed in the basement guest room (more on that in a minute), and the guest bed that was in the basement moved to the upstairs guest room. and that's where we are right now.

 

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more about this room when i do the actual, factual tour.

and ... a brief tease of the master bedroom:

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yes, the new bed ... black and white. the the $50 craigslist chair also got fancied up in new black and white fabric. shocker, i know.

now it's time to move on to the

 

basement

 

a quick glimpse at where the past four years have brought this space.

when i last shared pix of the basement, we had pretty much just moved in all the main furniture from our last house and called it good. with the exception of finally buying a piece of furniture for the tv (instead of the old desk i found on the side of the road in college that we HAD been using), and some bookshelves, this space is largely the same, just more finished.

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(a star wars tree. because, yes. i found it at treetopia, and it is a black-to-silver ombre tree, which in my mind meant it was a dark side to light side ombre. of course. i really should have gotten one that was a foot taller, but we'll make this work.)

 

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on to the guest room, where the old master bedroom bed now resides ...

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usually, there is flannel snowflake bedding on the basement guest bed at christmastime, because it can get pretty cold in this room when the door stays closed. but truth be told ... i couldn't find it. the linens got lost somewhere in the mess of the upstairs guest closet, where all spare linens go ... to never be seen again. organizing that closet is *also* on my To Do list for 2016.

i have a lot to do in 2016.

 

and there you have it.

hope you liked the little holiday tour, and i hope it will hold you over until the official tour of All The Rooms in the coming months.

 

later this weekend: actual christmas photos and re-cap. because it was super fun.

 


autumn

it's here.

if you've read my blog for any amount of time over a year, you know that a) i adore autumn, and the coming holiday season, and b) every year my autumn, and coming holiday season, goes to hell.

this year, on the first day of autumn, i had to see a doctor about a painful eye situation, only to discover a blocked and infected tear duct, that had to be drained (with a needle, thankyouverymuch) and then "milked" (just as fun as it sounds), and then treated with antibiotics. and tomorrow, on the second day of autumn, i will go to a surgeon to see how to reconstruct part of my left nostril, which i lost 10 days ago to basal cell carcinoma.

the autumn, and coming holiday season, are off to a dubious start.

nonetheless, i can't wait to "autumn" all the things! some pretty pumpkins are now on the porch, i have the fall flowers for the window box, the summery pillows and photos are getting replaced with the autumny ones. and i'm starting to look around the house to see what projects are on the list. i will tell marc i want them done by the holidays. they may actually get done by next year's holidays. it's how we roll.

we've been in our house for four years now (what???), and we're pretty much settled in and squared away. but there are a few tweaks that are on the horizon, and a few changes that we're ready to make.

current inspiration for those tweaks and changes:

1. shelves like these.

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there is a wall in our basement that currently is home to an ikea expedit shelf. there is general flotsam and stash on those shelves. however, there are bundles of martha stewart magazines dating back to 1996 in the closet, just begging to be enjoyed again. i foresee some rustic, warm wood shelves lining that wall on some cool iron brackets, maybe get some lights installed above the shelves for a little spot lighting.

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2. now that my craigslist-find chair and ottoman have been restored, and our new king-size bed is here, our master bedroom is at about 90%. we just need to get some art on the walls and curtains on the windows. trying to figure out exactly what direction to go in ... art above the nightstands, flanking the bed? or art or a mirror above the headboard and nothing above the nightstands? still debating. but i'm pretty sure the curtains will be white, because ... well ... of course.

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3. put the guest rooms back together.

when we switched out our old bed, we moved it to the basement, which meant we moved the basement guest bed to the upstairs guest room. and we moved the upstairs guest beds to the garage. we still need to get the beds put back together (literally back together ... not just "i need to make the beds", but "i need to MAKE the beds"), which needs to happen before company comes, which means when i tell my husband that i'd like him to do it this weekend, it really means "for the love of god just put those beds back together since it's been a month." or something like that.

the downstairs guest room has warmer colors ...

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and the upstairs one has cooler ones ...

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so now i'm gathering art and stuff. but first the beds have to get MADE.

wouldn't a pretty guest room be a nice place to spend a holiday? i mean, especially if the bed doesn't fall apart  underneath you?

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4. we're also in the process of getting estimates to finally put on a screened-in porch on the back of the house. it won't happen until spring, but we need to know exactly how much money we're talking with this. and if it sounds straightforward, it isn't. marc threw a wrench in the works by declaring that our mechanical room is no longer sufficient for his geek needs, so we may need to add on a server room under the porch. and, if we're going that far, we might as well go a little farther and attach a storage room for yard equipment, etc.

i wasn't thrilled when i heard that. "screened-in porch" suddenly became "nah ... we don't need to send the kids to college." oh well. i just have to focus on the pretty ... these inspiration pix distract me from googling "how to homeschool for a college degree."

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once my face heals and things no longer hurt, i'll try to clean up the joint and take some updated pictures of the place. there are so many of you out there who have loved my home (thank you!) via pinterest, and have asked to see how it looks now that it's more complete. i'll do my best to oblige in the coming weeks!

until then, go pick some apples, pull out the flannel sheets, and enjoy a pumpkin muffin!


living the dream

i was sent a copy of "love the home you have" by melissa michaels, who is behind the blog the inspired room, and have been both devouring it and savoring it, if it's possible to do both. i read a chapter with eagerness, then realize at the end of it that i really want to read it again and take notes. so i do. and i'm going to share some of those notes and thoughts over time, but in the opening pages of her book, this little sentiment drew me in and hooked me, for there are no truer words that describe my relationship and mindset with regards to architecture, design, and the feeling you get when you drive through certain cities and neighborhoods:

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when marc and i discuss our "dream" houses, he says he would love to be in something ultra-modern: all concrete and glass and exposed steel and wood. sleek, clutter-free, and technologically superior to the average house. then he asks if i could live in such a house and i say, "sure ... maybe ..."

because the truth is, i want to live in about five different houses.

i want the 100-year-old farmhouse, with beautiful old trees, a split rail fence, overgrown lilac bushes, and a squeaky screen door. windows with glass so old that it's waviness distorts the view. a wide cast iron sink in the kitchen. a deep front porch. a tree swing in the front yard.

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but i also want the beautiful old home in the charming small town, with a lovely staircase, leaded glass windows, tall rooms. woodwork that recalls the days when skill mattered. a pedestal sink. period fixtures. a small but charming lot, and walking distance to the adorable town, where i know the name of the bookstore owner, the coffee shop guy, the baker who knows harper prefers bavarian cream donuts while henry prefers glazed.

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or maybe by "charming small town" i mean "nantucket." and i will ride my bike to the local market for lobstahs. and keep a jar on a shelf in the kitchen for seashells and sea glass that i find on my walks on the beach.

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then again, a lake cottage would be lovely. a small, cozy spot with a beautiful view and lots of trees. where i can drink my morning coffee in a kayak, and sit by the fire in the evening. maybe some exposed beams, a screen porch, bedrooms tucked under angled ceilings of the roofline.

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and i can understand marc's attraction to "modern", because there is a certain draw to streamlined simplicity. and if all the windows look at something lovely, and the exposed metal is dark and industrial, and the exposed wood is warm and reclaimed, with life still in it instead of stripped down and shiny, i could see the attraction. as long as the house isn't something that looks like an office building or a sci-fi movie set.

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and then there's that part of me that would embrace the industrial, urban aesthetic wholeheartedly if it was in an urban setting ... like a warehouse loft. preferably in boston.

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although i'm pretty sure my boston plans include a beacon hill brownstone.

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the thing is, i just love houses. and really, location means as much to me - if not more - than the house. because while a dream house is just wood and glass and nails, a dream "home" is the whole package. and truthfully, any home can be transformed into something beautiful, but a crummy location cannot.

on mother's day, i took my family for a walk through one of my favorite areas of minneapolis - a neighborhood near lake harriet. walking through those streets of old homes and large trees always makes me happy. i loved our years in our bungalow, but always wished that it had been a little closer to the lake and on the quieter, lovelier (ie more expensive) side of the highway. the homes are mostly well-kept, and the yards full of beautiful flowers. there is obvious pride of ownership. and every now and then, when we would see one that had seen better days, i would exclaim, "i'll love you!! just let me have you!"

okay: i love my house. we built as close to a perfect house as we could, given constraints of the location and budget at the time. and i really do "love the home i have". however, the location is - while great right now for the kids - not where we want to be. it's too neighborhood-y to be our long-term happy place. we want more age, history. maybe something prettier to look at than a park and the backside of our neighbors' houses. and while i would love to go back to minneapolis, i know we would be equally satisfied somewhere else. we never feel tied to any one place.

i don't know if that's good or bad.

but if our kids stay here, i think we would be happy to stay here, too. but head closer to lake harriet.

because it's lovely.

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we toss around new ideas all the time: the coast of oregon, boston, maine, minneapolis, italy (okay ... maybe that one is just me). and every time we talk about a different place, i get a different vision of what we'll live in. i am undaunted by the idea of fixing up something to be just what we want. loving the home you have is easy with a little patience and creativity. but what makes it a home is loving the life it gives you. and for me, that's more about the "where" than the "what."


practice restaint or run with it?

spring is (allegedly) around the corner, and it's time to shake off the winter funk. the heads-down, get-through-the-day mentality of winter and its few hours of daylight is gone (though it was more gone before daylight savings; now it's dark again when henry and i get up at 6. which sucks.), and i'm ready for light and color.

i'm also ready to finish off the tv room.

which goes hand in hand with light and color.

here's why:

the main floor is white. walls, trim, cabinets, curtains ... all white. and the couches are gray. and color is all in the accessories. and i like it that way. however, the little tv room off of the great room is my special little jewel box. it's my happy, colorful, quirky, whimsical place. and it's only about two-thirds done. time to finish off this mother and move on.

a couple of weeks ago, i grew tired of the artwork for the room being in a pile, propped up against the wall. so i hung it. none of it will stay where it is - i still have three more pieces to frame, and a deer head to move from upstairs (as one does) - but it got my groove on for finishing this space.

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i want to replace the chest with a leggy ottoman, since we only really use the chest as a foot prop. and i think between marc and myself, we could make one. how hard can it be? the two wicker chairs that are currently taking up space by the windows need to go; we really don't have the space in the tv room to keep chairs in there, anyway, and i would prefer accent chairs in the great room that can be moved into the tv room if we need them. the little lamp by the couch is on a chest we bought from ikea years ago, which will likely go away ... it's too big and too low, and the table lamp needs to be replaced with something that has a bit more weight. speaking of lamp, we got a brushed nickel accordian light for above harper's keyboard, so she can see her music better. a month after we bought it? doesn't work. the knob you turn is stripped, and the swing arm part of the lamp is loose, so the whole thing hangs crooked.

so irritating.

and this after a kerfuffle with west elm before christmas, when i tried to order an accordian lamp from them, only to be told, a month later, when i called to find out where my lamp was, that it was discontinued and they MAY not be able to fill my order. so i bought a lamp on a discount site to just get it done.

big mistake. you get what you pay for.

so now i'm eyeing this puppy that i found on etsy:

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the windows? i've struggled with what to do with the windows. i love that they are bare, because this room is dark. it looks out onto the porch, which is covered, so there isn't a lot of light in the room. i toyed with the idea of curtains with a pattern, but that felt too busy and too heavy. then i came across this photo and fell in love. this is it ... what i want for these windows:

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simple, light, and would pull in that yellow-and-white combo that i love so much.

which leads me to rugs. the walls are palladian blue, the couch is white, the cabinet under the tv is wood with chippy paint in aqua, turquoise, yellow, green, and touches of pink and navy.

(from xmas ...)

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the idea of simple white curtains appeals to me so things don't get crazy, but the little touch of yellow seems needed to add the oomph that this room can hold. but then the rug ... go with yellow and white, to play nicely with the curtains? something with more color to keep things interesting? and what about that leggy ottoman i want ... how will that work in with the rug? if the rug is mostly yellow, will a solid color on the ottoman be too much? but do i want a patterned ottoman on a patterned rug? this is where i get stuck.

current rug contenders, so you can help me decide:

on the side of simple yellow-and-white, we have this safavieh number from overstock:

Osafacambridgei like the pattern, but the color may be too much.

then there is this other safavieah, also from overstock ...

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then there is this guy, from rugs usa ...

Rugsusasunfloweri like the pattern, there isn't as much yellow, but maybe the color is too green-yellow? and there is a little gray outline around the yellow that you can't see in this picture. i don't know if i love it or don't love it.

west elm has this rug ...

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which i kinda dig. but might be a little too geometric for my taste. then again, it might be a large, simple enough pattern to be perfect.

the "out of left field" contenders in the running are from anthro. first there is this lovely ...

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which, honestly? i love. LOVE. but those purple flowers ... i don't think i can do it. can't do purple.

which brings us to bachelorette number five, who is coral.

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she could be either way too over-the-top or perfect. anthro has a yellow version of this rug which, inexplicably, has a taupey-beige border instead of the tone-on-tone of the coral version (and her sister, blue version). broke my heart; i love the yellow, but i hate taupy-beigey-khaki-brown about as much as i hate purple. maybe more, in fact.

so this is where i'm stuck. yellow seems safe, but those anthro rugs keep popping back up in my head. and then there's the ottoman ... part of me screams that we need one covered in a soft emerald green cotton velvet, but is that TOO much color for one little room? especially since the rest of the house is so, so different?

maybe i just get going on the curtains and figure everything else out once they are up. we've baby-stepped for two and a half years, at this point ... why not baby-step some more?

 


phase one of getting stuff done

last time i blogged, i mentioned we were poised to get busy around here. i was thinking, "hang some pictures" or "finally raise the curtain rod in the basement" or "get marc chop chopping on mounting the tv in the front room." however, <insert new plan here>.

the area behind us is finally being developed. as in, every lot is sold and about eight houses have popped up since early spring. right now, the lot directly behind us is empty and we have a clear view down the new street. the house going up on that corner was landscaped a couple of weeks ago, and one of the first things they did was pop in half a dozen really large, beautiful pine trees and maples. a 20'+ maple is in direct line of sight from our house, and i said to marc, "if we were going to put in trees, i would want them to be trees like that. trees that look like TREES, not saplings." he agreed, and told me to go find out how much that tree was. so i put on my shoes. ran down the hill, stopped the tree guy, and asked for the price of the trees he'd just installed. what he told me was actually much less than i anticipated, so i asked him for his card and said we'd have to have him come out to take a look at our yard. he told me that he would be free in five minutes and would run over.

i ran back up the hill, yelled to marc that the tree guy was on his way over, and 20 minutes later i was writing on the calendar that the tree guy would return in a few days' time to install five trees in our backyard.

yup. just like that.

we figured that now that there are houses behind us and we've lost 85% of our lake view (*bitter*), we'd rather look at lovely trees than the backs of beige houses. and since the lot behind us is still empty, now is the time to do it. so we did it.

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sparky (yes, the tree guy was named sparky) arrived with his giant digger and eyeballed exactly where the first hole needed to be. an hour later, he returned with our first pine and placed it perfectly.

(he's been in the tree business for 40 years. it shows.)

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then he dug the next hole, and while he was doing that, another smaller truck arrived to make a hole for a dwarf blue spruce. the buys left and returned with a big pine and a little spruce, then dug the final holes and left again.

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soon, all five trees were planted, and we commenced with running the hose for five hours a day. should be an awesome water bill next month. but the trees are beautiful and finish the back side and corner in such a lovely way that we said, "hmm ... we should really figure out where the raised bed garden will be since the sod will be here next week."

oh yeah ... the sod.

before we talked to the tree guy, we'd already met with a landscaping company to make a plan for getting some perennials in the ground and making it look like we live here. and the landscaping was going to take place the next day, and a crew was coming to grade the back of our lot where the wildflowers used to be and lay sod the following day.

on tuesday, bright and early, the truck o' plants pulled up.

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and seeing all of the pots made me giddy to get to spring and see everything coming up ... six annabelle hydrangreas, three peonies, four rhododendrons, dianthus ... coral bells ... hosta ... black-eyed susans ... and so many more. plus a crab apple and a rising sun redbud, which, if you've never seen one, is the coolest. i told the landscaper "no maroons, no evergreeny things, nothing that doesn't look like it should be by a farmhouse. and stuff that will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees."

and she made it happen.

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(trellises with atomic red trumpet vine ... guaranteed to bring hummingbirds and butterflies and bees to the yard. and around it will be an annual bed.)

it will take a couple of seasons for everything to establish and grow, but it's started. and i can't wait for spring now.

all of that went together without a hitch. the same cannot be said for the sodding.

they got it all graded and laid down some dirt, but then we were told that there is no sod to be found. the wet spring and overly busy building season had left sod farms empty. marc and i found that a bit odd, considering we were told on monday that sod would be laid on wednesday, but on tuesday there was suddenly none. so the landscape company started to call around to find someone who could seed. in the meantime, i started calling local landscapers to see if any of them had sod, and one replied with a yes. he came out to give us a quote, and we ended up getting sod delivered and laid, as well as irrigation added in that section, for less than the first landscaper quoted us for just the sod.

done deal.

so after about a week of calling and scheduling and planning, etc., the yard is done: trees, plants, grass, water. and today, marc is building the garden boxes.

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and yesterday, the surveyors staked the lot behind us.

perfect timing.


i have plans.

it's september ... that whole "bouquet of newly sharpened pencils"/fresh, clean new notebooks/slight-chill-in-the-air time of year. my favorite.

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never mind that it's 90 degrees today. and is supposed to be 90 degrees tomorrow. let's not talk about that.

instead, let's talk about the plans i have for fall.

this month marks two years since we moved into the new house. (??!! but seriously, two years.) things have come along quite swimmingly over the past year or so, in terms of finally procuring furniture and happy details and settling in. i even unpacked two boxes in the crafty room last week ... and i think there are only two boxes to go. and those are the last two unpacked boxes we own!

i plan to do an updated tour, because i totally left you (those of you who are into the housey/decoratey stuff) hanging awhile back. i teased things like bookshelves and curtains and cabinets of awesomeness, then wandered off like a senile old person.

but i'm kind of glad, because the house has come together even more since then. we still don't have a rug or a coffee table in the great room, but i'm closer to knowing what i want in there. we still haven't hung any pictures, but only because i'm super indecisive about that; and that will change this month. oh yes. we still haven't done much with our bedroom other than buy some nightstands ... finally, but now there's talk of getting a Big Kid bed (ie a king. because marc traveled for 12 weeks straight over the spring/summer, sleeping each night on a king in hotel rooms, and now he can't keep his elbows and knees and feet out of my eyeballs and ribs and legs while we're sleeping.), so i guess it's good we haven't invested in anything else until we know what's going on with that.

however, harper demanded requested we return her bed to her ... she just couldn't get into the beautiful black jenny linds in her room, knowing that her beloved ikea trundle was just down the hall in the guest room. so a couple of weeks ago we started rearranging, and now her room is almost ready to show off as the First Redone Room in the House, closely followed by the guest room, which is the Second Redone Yet Slightly More Finished Than The First Redone Room in the House, and is even dressed in fall colors, because i was already getting in the mood for fall in august.

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(just to tease you. or not ... there's not much else new to see in this room except the beds.)

but today i got a crazy hair to Get Stuff Done. maybe it's because the kids are back in school and i have my days back. maybe it's because i'm super tired of marc asking me when i'm going to "hang something on the walls already." maybe it's because we went from "we should really get some flowers planted" to full-on "landscapers will be here next week to install a buttload of plants around the front of the house, and while we're at it we should really plant, oh, five trees in the back and hey! let's talk to the deck guy and get that ball rolling for next spring" in a matter of three weeks. the idea that things are happening and we're going to start looking like we actually live here from the outside has spurred me into action to finish projects on the inside.

my project today was to get dimensions and prices on frames from various places and get a game plan together for that gallery wall in the great room. and, hand to god, that will be done by the end of next weekend. which started the idea of A Month of Plans: cooking, organizing, projects, et cetera. and i'll share here, so i'm more accountable. i've even subtly mentioned the idea to someone to see if i could get a playmate. (you're sharing baked goods, right, ms jen? cuz i won't do that.) and between now and mid-october i will get #&%* done, man.

won't that be nice?

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baby steps

the great room finally has two more pieces of functional furniture in it: side tables for the couches.

what. up. it's only been a year.

finally: a place to set my coffee in the morning and wine in the evening, thus ensuring i will start to spend more time in the great room in the morning and evening.

the best part? we didn't have to spend a bunch of money for some manufactured, veneered piece of blah blah blah. instead, we spent $70 for two old school desks. and i loooooooooove them.

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when they came home with us from mr nice craigslist guy, they were that silly putty/band-aid beigey pinky gray institution color, and the tops were super shellacked and full of doodles and stray marker lines. i kind of loved the tops because they showed where these desks have been, but the color didn't work for me. so i sanded down the base, marc sanded down the tops, and we had a clean slate. the bases got a few coats of a gunmetal gray spray paint, and i stained the tops with a minwax color called "provincial," then gave them a coat of clear wax.

and now the tops gleam and look amazing, and there are still some marks from their former life.

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and if there is any doubt, i left the insides alone.

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i'm beyond happy with my little desk-tables. and if i was a home blogger, i would have had some before/afters for you. or "in progress" shots. but, no. you just have to take my word for it.

so, to recap: one year ago this room needed ...

1. couches

2. possible side chairs

3. side tables

4. coffee table

5. rug

6. pillows

7. curtains

8. lighting

well, now 1, 2, and 3 are done. with any luck, we can get some curtains up and pillows on the couches by thanksgiving. i think some of those chiang mai pillows of amazingness will be on their way here in a few weeks. beyond happy about that. pillows. yeah, that's all it takes. i've been looking at lamps and haven't really seen anything that jumps out at me yet - other than the fact that a) they're all kind of ugly, and b) the ones i don't find ugly are the ones i find cost $300 a pop. but i'm still on the hunt. right now, these are contenders:

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(ballard design)

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(crate & barrel)

... but i'm not sold.

i'm pretty sold on the tables, though.

 


morning walk

these are my favorite nine days of the year: when the leaves are gorgeous, the mornings are cool and crisp, and color is everywhere. i know that by sometime next week, it will all be brown for the next eight months.

it makes me think of emily dickinson:

Besides the Autumn poets sing,

A few prosaic days

A little this side of the snow

And that side of the Haze

A few incisive mornings -

A few Ascetic eves -

Gone - Mr Bryant's "Golden Rod" -

And Mr Thomson's "sheaves."

Still, is the bustle in the brook -

Sealed are the spicy valves -

Mesmeric fingers softly touch

The eyes of many Elves -

Perhaps a squirrel may remain -

My sentiments to share -

Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind -

Thy windy will to bear!

 

or my favorite autumn quote, which seems to sum up my thoughts on the season quite perfectly:

 

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,

and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

- George Eliot

 

and it makes me think of our wedding, held in the middle of october when it was beautiful. and marc's best man alluded to eliot's sentiment in his toast to us, when he wished us a life of eternal autumn ... neverending color and beauty, and always appreciating how rare it is. (not that it's an ending, he was quick to clarify.)

yesterday morning, when i looked out the window at 6:15, the sun was just starting to lighten the sky and i could see the misty fog out our back windows ... the the heat of the previous day struggling with the cool of the night.

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once the kids got on the bus, i grabbed my camera and my walking shoes and set out to enjoy the autumn that has come to our little space in this world.

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and the balloons were back ... how wonderful would it be to float silently above all of this color?

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after school, the kids and i set out into the empty lots to look for bugs for henry's science project. because the nights are now so cold, bugs are getting hard to come by. but we did find interesting things, nonetheless:

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and all the while, i was feeling sad that this is our last autumn to enjoy all of that space and quiet behind our house.

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equipment is starting to move in to lay the infrastructure for the next phase of houses that will take over the empty space. by spring, it will be noise and dirt and urbanity behind us.

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luckily, it's still peaceful out my front door.

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even if the color is fleeting. however, i have high hopes for what it must be like during a good old fashioned minnesota snowfall. we're all crossing our fingers we get to experience that this year. just not too soon.


a little here, a little there

since the other house sold at the end of june, we've just started to feel like we're coming out of the double-mortgage abyss. granted, we're still technically paying for it, but now there's some breathing room. which is good, because the next four months are not going to be cheap. (back to school stuff, holidays, an out-of-state trip for a wedding, etc.)

however, i've started to feel like i can add a little more to the house now and then, to make it more homey in areas. the first thing i wanted to fill in was our empty entryway.

i knew that i wanted a piece by the stairway, but what i wanted, i had no idea. a dresser? a table? something industrial? something old?

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then i was browsing craigslist one day (like i do way more often than i'd like to admit), and happened upon a listing for a "spoon-carved antique three drawer dresser." the listing gave the measurements, and i ran to the entry with tape measure in hand. the dresser would be the perfect size. i contacted the seller, got more details and an address, and that weekend we loaded into the car for a 90 minute drive into the boonies of wisconsin.

the sellers lived in an adorable light yellow cottage, next to a barn and a field. all good signs. we chatted for a bit, then looked at the dresser. beneath the years of neglect from living in a barn, it was still a beauty. a little wobbly, and some drawer issues that would have to be addressed, but i could see the potential.

we paid the nice couple (admittedly, i should have haggled more. i'm terrible at haggling.), loaded it into the car, and smelled the smell of old wood all the way home. it was heavenly.

i contacted an antique restorer to make it solid again and ready for painting. three weeks later, the dresser was back and ready for some paint. one coat of primer and two coats of shagbark olive later, it was done.

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and it completes the entry perfectly.

the dresser has that legitimacy of an antique that help bring more "farmhouse" into my "farmhouse," and everytime i walk by it i still get a whiff of "barn." it makes me smile. however, the metal and cement knobs from anthropologie give it a bit of an industrial edge that helps the dresser fit in and not become too precious.

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(props to marc for finding the knobs ... they're perfect! i was focused on turquoise dangly ones ... these are ever so much better.)

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it still needs to be "styled" a bit ... bigger art, maybe a small bowl or something ... and at some point i will line the drawers and use it to store mailing supplies, maybe candles and all the small things like matches and picture-hanging hooks, etc., that are taking over a kitchen drawer. but for now it works, and works wonderfully.

(lamp: ikea, wood bowl: target, glass floats: pottery barn, sea potpourri: pottery barn, minnesota watercolor print: katie daisy.)

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and it helps to finally bring a bit more color into the house. now i'm ready to start focusing on the great room and wii room. adding a bit to them is finally in my sights. those chiang mai pillows may become a reality soon, and from there i'm starting to figure out the palette for the wii room:

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(photo via cannelle et vanille)

can't wait to start warming up the white with color, and filling the house with Us.

 


details & resources - basement

sorry for the delay ... i got sidetracked by a little thing called "last day of school." somehow this, back in september ...

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became this, a mere nine months later ...

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henry grew about 4", got braces, learned some tough lessons about grades and putting in effort, made some great new friends, got some peach fuzz on his upper lip, joined the swim team and is a natural, has gone from "never played a musical instrument in his life" to "exceeds proficiency" on the trombone, became one with sarcasm and smart assery, and is generally turning into a teenager before our very eyes.

harper also grew a few inches, lost four teeth - three of which have grown in (the one she knocked out of her face when she fell off the monkey bars ... not so much), did a great job in first grade, has no patience for learning to read but earned the "best sportsmanship" award (and the "perfect attendance" award, which she received first thing in the morning on the last full day of school, then ten minutes later ended up back at home with strep), learned to ride a two-wheeled bike, made some great new friends, tried soccer, wants desperately to join the swim team in the fall, shows a strong musical inclination, is full of sass and moodiness, and is turning into a big girl before our very eyes.

in september, i had to drive them to school from the old house. last week, they walked out the door to the corner and got on the bus with their friends.

and now that they've been home for five days (two of which were a weekend), i can safely say that i'm eager for september to return.

sooo ... let's finish this house business. here's the basement, which, like the other spaces in the house but to a greater extent, is even less finished and was less staged for photos. unlike the other rooms, i was rather over the taking of photos, so they are a bit less enthusiastic. the basement is also the most ... suburban. it doesn't really have that farmhouseness to it that squeaks into the other areas. give it time ... i'll change things here and there.

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most of the basement is painted benjamin moore's classic gray. you can totally see where the white changes to gray at the corner of the stairway. (sarcasm. that's where henry gets it.) lights going down the stairs are the same as the lights going up - barn light electric's atomic cage light. i really need to start hanging some art.

first thing you see at the bottom of the stairs is a door with an unearthly glow coming from under it. open that door, and what should be a boring, cement-floored utility and mechanicals room has been overrun by a rack, servers, lights, noises, and geekery.

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and behind that is more geekery, attached to the wall.

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so that's awesome.

walking into the main part of the basement, you'll find, basically, the contents of our old house, transplanted. the sectional from the old basement is now the sectional in the new basement. our old dining room table and ceiling light (again, ikea) is now our game table. and the $10 desk i picked up from a yard sale in college is doing inadequate duty as a media console for marc's new tv. we haven't yet figured out what we want for that job, or how to pay for it until the other house sells, so right now "inadequate" is as good as it gets.

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we desperately need bookshelves. all those boxes against the wall behind the couch? books. we know we want to build something, and that something will likely involve the reclaimed barn boards that i found on craigslist, but we haven't worked out the details yet. maybe someday.

the game-ish area ... there is also a wet bar, which is sort of funny because we aren't exactly "wet bar" kind of people.

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but it was the one "what if we move"/resale scenario we opted to add, because a basement wet bar seems to be the ubiquitous "granite/stainless steel" "house hunters"-like requirement of minnesota.

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and if we were going to have a wet bar, it was going to be "us." so ... another stainless steel counter top. our misstep, however, was building it around a small dorm-type fridge, thinking it would hold nothing more than drinks and maybe a hunk of cheese for my pre-bedtime cheese&triscuits ritual. when we moved in, we realized a) how stupid that fridge looks floating in the space left for it, and b) how cheap and noisy the fridge is. luckily, the cabinet guy *was* thinking ahead, and he built the fridge space standard for a wet bar fridge. so at some point, we'll craigslist the fridge (never used ... anyone want it?) and install a wine/beverage cooler. however, the wet bar is a mighty fine place for a coffee maker; lucky thing my mom bought us one as a housewarming gift because she wants to make herself coffee first thing in the morning when she visits without having to go to the kitchen and potentially wake people up. so technically, it's her coffee maker. but i get to use it.

resource-wise: cabinets are knotty alder ... knobs are through the cabinet guy so i don't have a source for those - sorry; they're awesome ... mirror is really old pottery barn ... faucet is danze parma

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and did you notice the bare windows of the sliding door? i still haven't found replacement curtains. so the lovely west elm rod remains bare to this day.

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sad.

anyway, leaving this area, there's a bathroom ...

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the one room is the whole house where i've managed to hang art? the basement bathroom. i know.

this room is painted simply white, like the rest of the house. white subway tile and a pretty border with a mix of light blue glass and some white and gray marble 1" x 1" tile. the towel bar/hand towel ring/tp holder in this room as the same as the ones in the main level bathroom ... moen inspirations. i got a serious deal on them through amazon ... they cost us about $30 a room for each set of three pieces. nice. the mirror in this room is from ikea (it's an illness, really), which i painted with silver martha stewart paint from home depot. marc hung it one weekend when i wasn't home ... and it's about 4" too high. never send a 6"4" man to hang a mirror for regular people to use. i'll make him fix it someday. the light in here is quoizel quinton. i'm not in love with it. it doesn't put out enough light, it's too small ... it will be swapped out someday. maybe about the time we move that mirror down a bit.

just past the bathroom is my mom's room the guest room. again - completely furnished with stuff from the old house.

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the dresser was in our dining room, and the bed was in our "master" ... my dad made it for us based on the pottery barn stratton bed, and i found baskets at ikea. (shocker.) when we moved into this house and i started planning the guest room, i decided the bed needed a makeover, and painted it charcoaly navy blue - dutch licorice from valspar.

bedding - sheets are from target, quilt is from pottery barn, duvet is old, discontinued restoration hardware (remember when they sold color?), accent pillows are all ikea.

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the last room in the basement - and of this tour - is marc's office. one reason that i haven't fretted over much in the basement other than the guest room is that it's pretty much marc's domain. i essentially made him a deal: i would let him make the decisions about his office and the tv room and i wouldn't  say a word. both of those spaces are more for function than anything else, so i let it go. i didn't get involved when he and the wiring guy wired a speaker right next to the window, making it impossible for me to ever hang curtains. i didn't get terribly involved in the wall sconces in that room, though they are another set of lights i would love to remove someday and replace. (i mean seriously, how cool would these be??) i haven't gotten involved with any part of his office, which has turned out to be - as tim gunn would say - a lot of look. but he built it custom for his needs, it works for him and he likes it.

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the walls in this room are the most color of anywhere in the house - benjamin moore winter lake. marc is definitely a blue guy, and the smokier, the better. let's see how much ikea we can spot in this room: varde island pilfered away from me? check. varde wall cupboard and it's undermount lighting? check. lockers? check. stainless steel desk tops? check. he built the u-shaped desk himself, with 4x4s and lots of brackets, and the stainless table tops were the perfect size to finish it off. those super cool vent-type lights he picked out and mounted in the corners? not enough light. so lighted shelves from ikea? check. and they are dual purpose: he then has a place to put his collection of how amazingly geeky smart he is, and how good he is at his job.

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i'm a really good girl and won't let his styling bother me. it's his space. i won't touch it.

i think that's actually it. we made it through all three floors ... upper and main floors, in case you missed them. if there is anything i didn't hit on that you want to know, please feel free to leave a comment and i'll get back to you.

this whole build was truly a labor of love. mcdonald construction is amazing to work with, we appreciate their flexibility when it came to the things we customized, and if we weren't already in a nearly perfect house we would build again with them in a heartbeat. the architect, teresa, is a genius, and she took my vision and made it come to life better than i ever imagined. diana, our sales agent, is such a wonderful person and was with us every step of the way, and we hate that she's moving to california. tracey at che bella, who helped with some design decisions and totally got me and my vision. everyone we worked with was amazing, and the whole project was near flawless. we love our house, and don't plan to leave for a very long time. unless we win the lottery, then all bets are off.