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.


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:


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:


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 ...)


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 ...

Oversafachathamnice pattern, yellow is less YELLOW. but maybe not yellow enough?

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 ...


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 ...


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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.


(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.

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.

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.

(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?


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.

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.

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

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:

(ballard design)

(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.

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.

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

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:

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.

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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

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.)

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:

(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 ...

became this, a mere nine months later ...

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.


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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

details & resources - main floor

okay. i've been working on this for awhile, but the house was finally clean enough top-to-bottom to take the pix to go along with it.

we're officially at the eight month mark of living in the new house, as of today. over the course of those months, i've received more than a few emails from people who have stumbled upon pix i posted and asking where i got something, etc.

so here - and in a following post or two - i'll go through the house, one room at a time, and list where we found things, what we learned in the process, what we'd do differently, etc.

grab a drink.

so, here's the place today - with grass, vintagey-looking porch chairs, and a cutie-pie seven-year-old welcoming committee:

starting at this point, everything that is white in this house - including the exterior - is benjamin moore's simply white. i love this white, which is a weird thing to say. but it isn't stark, it isn't overly blue-cold. there's just a touch of green in it to keep it fresh and natural, but it works with everything. (oh - there is another color. the porch ceiling is wythe blue. and the front door is some gray/black color, but i can't remember which one. alrighty.)

the exterior lights are all from barn light electric, and all are in the galvanized steel finish. these are the lights by the door and in the back of the house, these are the lights above the garage, and by my office door is this light.

the chairs and glider are from grandin road and are super comfy and full of that charm i wanted. need to get some cushions and side tables to hold a lemonade or fat tire, but those will come. i'm actually thinking about finding old tablecloths and making pillow covers out of those. something kinda like this:

hopefully, some planting will take place soon, too. harper and i have been making our dream flower list. it looks something like this:



more peonies


lots of daisies

and forget-me-nots

and more peonies


lily of the valley

bearded iris

bleeding hearts





and peonies

and that's how we started our list.

so now let's go inside ... we'll go through the mud room, because that's the door we always use.

(ignore the scattering of shoes. it is what it is.)

obviously, this room is not simply white. i wanted a little color in here because, really, a white mud room? so this room is palladian blue. and it's a perfect color. floor tile is old-school vinyl composite tile. i love how it looks, and it's pretty easy to just mop up and be done with it. there IS an acrylic sealer you need to put on it once a year or so to keep the tiles from staining. truth be told: i haven't done it yet. i know. honestly, i'm waiting for summer, so the kids can use a different door and i can put the sealer on, block off the mud room from feet and paws, and it can get the 24 hour drying time it needs. however, it's a mud room. if there are minor stains on the tile, i'm not going to fret.

if you've been following this build process since it became a possibility two years ago, you'll remember i had something different in mind for this room. the wire wall baskets and bench i'd wanted got vetoed ... marc was pretty insistent we went the built-in route. he really loved how they looked in every house we toured. so i acquiesced, but only if the built-in was minimal. we compromised, and we're both happy with it. and our cabinet/trim guys were amazing ... they surprised us by putting up brackets for the shelf that mimicked the lines of the brackets on our kitchen shelves (we'll get there). we love it.

other things in the room:

the ceiling light is an antique wire waste basket that i found at an antique store for $15. marc drilled a hole in the base, slipped a $10 light kit through it, and voila. ceiling light.

on the shelf above the coat hooks (which are super fancy home depot chrome hooks) is some art and some vintage wire locker baskets to hold our gloves and hats. and a jar that harper uses to catch bugs.

art - the katie daisy "love" print that she made to benefit haiti relief; a dazeychic "so happy" print in a cheap ikea clip frame; a piece of red and white polka dot scrapbook paper in an ikea frame.

the mudroom is also our command central for keeping track of who has what when, papers we need to remember, invitations, etc. we keep track of everything with the pottery barn wall system and use it all. the. time.

just off the mud room is the main floor bathroom and my studio/office.

the vanity cabinet is painted benjamin moore camouflage. the floor is simple 8x8 white ceramic tile. hindsight: we should have used gray grout. this is such a high traffic bathroom, and much of that traffic involves dirty feet and shoes. gray grout would have been smart.

the vanity top/sink is cultured marble. not my favorite, but it will do for now. we had to save money somewhere, so going standard in this bathroom and the one in the basement became the places where we stayed cheap. however, i clean this freaking vanity all the dang time. every little water spot and kitty paw print and soap puddle from rushing children shows up.

(the mirror is from target ... i know - this mirror is too small. but it was cheap, and it works for now. i'll replace it someday. the light is norwell nexus, chrome finish with two lights; and the faucet is kohler archer in chrome.)

now - sidenote: the intention for this house from the beginning was an industrial farmhouse. and while there are definitely farmhouse and industrial features, i could have gone way more overboard on keeping true to more 20s/30s/40s fixtures or going full-on industrial. however, where i veer more to vintage farmhouse, marc veers more to modern. so we compromised. the interior of the house is a reflection of that. there is a way more modern edge than a vintage or industrial one. hopefully, it will stay clean and timeless. industrial is getting a bit too trendy and i didn't want our house to feel too much like "oh, hello, industrial trend of 2012-2013!" though i may totally snap one day and order all new lights for areas of the house to make it feel more like "grandma's farmhouse." oh yes. i just might.

quick peek at my studio - this is still an almost 100% work in progress.

eight months in, i still need to paint the barn door with chalkboard paint. i don't think the pictures will stay where they are. i'm not in love with the desk, but i had to get something up fast to get my computer up and running. it works for now, but i'm not in love with any of it. sadly, this space has found itself waaaaaayyyy at the bottom of the list.

okay, then ... on to my favorite space: the kitchen/dining/great room.

i love this space more than words.

cabinets are all shaker style - simple and clean. all of the perimeter cabinets are painted simply white, and the island is painted camouflage. the perimeter counter top is soapstone, and i still want to marry it. the island is topped with stainless steel, which we love love love. yes, it shows fingerprints. so what. a quick wipe with a damp microfiber cloth and it's all good.

(no, i didn't see the wine cork on the floor until after i uploaded the photos. in my defense, we keep a bowl of corks by the kitchen window, and it was really windy that day. so ... that's my story. while we're at it, the rug is this one.)

we used three different types of hardware in the kitchen, all from restoration hardware. drawers have aubrey pulls in chrome, double cabinets have the utility latch in chrome, and single cabinet doors have the aubrey knob.

the kitchen lights are from pottery barn - the porter adjustable pendants in white ceramic. there are two large ones over the island, and a small one over the sink. they're gorgeous.

the island stools are from overstock. the price is unbeatable.

the faucets - kitchen sink and prep sink - are both hansgrohe talis high arc faucets in chrome. the one in the prep sink is smaller and doesn't have the pull-down sprayer. an oversight. a sprayer would have been a good thing.

the kitchen sink is a stainless elkay single-bowl undermount sink. i love it; marc's on the fence. he can't figure out how to do dishes in a single sink. i really wanted a white fireclay-type farmhouse sink, but i was too nervous about it getting chipped or staining. we looked at a stainless apron-front sink, but were told that belt buckles and zip-front sweatshirts tend to leave a scratch pattern over time. so we went with the undermount. i haven't been (totally) sorry.

appliances: we researched obsessively, not wanting to get a room full of the same brand only to find that while the stove is great, the refrigerator sucks. et cetera. so after doing months of research, we ended up with a bosch dishwasher, a samsung fridge, a kitchenaid wall oven/microwave-convection oven unit, and a wolf gas cooktop. totally schizo, i know.

verdict? the dishwasher is awesome, despite the fact that sometime between ordering a $1,500 dishwasher and getting it installed, bosch decided it needed a more "consumer-friendly" price point in their line, so it started making less expensive machines, with the cost brought down because they used some cheaper parts. so while we got the not-cheap dishwasher, we DID get a cheap dishwasher latch. and it broke within three months, and we had to have it repaired. at which point we were told about bosch's little scheme. so ... we'll watch that. the oven/microwave combo is working great so far. we've used the microwave's convection oven mode only twice, but it seemed to work just fine. the cooktop? i'm in love. i've missed gas for 15 years, so i'm a happy camper about the cooktop. i have heard nothing but mixed reviews about wall oven units, so i hope i don't regret that we didn't just get the dual fuel cooktop/oven we went back and forth about but nixed in the end because it took the bulk of our appliance budget all by itself. the fridge? i go back and forth. i adore the door ice/water dispenser - we haven't had that option ever, and we all go through the ice/water way more now that it's handy. (and now that we actually HAVE ice to use.) however, it takes up a ton of door space. i haven't yet figured out the best way to configure the space for storage. still working on that. i do wonder if we should have gone the counter-depth side-by-side route. there was less interior cubic feet of storage, but thinking back, the storage was laid out more usably. on well. it's all good.

the kitchen makes me happy.


(note: the white ikea vase? know what that's for? i turn my iphone on to the pandora app while i do dishes, and stick it in the vase. the accoustics amplify the volume and it sounds amazing. i know we have fancy schmancy ceiling speakers, but honestly - while doing dishes - i prefer this $3.99 method. oh, and the little cork bowl is from here.)


(coffee tin; tray; utensil vase)

the only real hindsight issue with the kitchen is the cabinets and hood above the cooktop.

it was all installed at standard height ... but we never took into account the fact that marc is 6'4". the hood hits him right about nose-level. it's inconvenient, and he's going to whack himself on the corner one of these days. at some point (we're going to look into having it done at our one-year walk-through, since the various trades will be out here touching up things anyway), we'll get the cabinet above the stove replaced with a single-height one, like the glass-front ones on either side, move the hood up, and add tile. get that hood above marc's head.

the dining "room" area has worked out nicely so far. we don't miss a formal dining room. however, the table snafu was disappointing, and we're left with a table way smaller than what we'd wanted and planned for. we'll work around it for now, until we can find a table that extends the amount we need a few times a year.

(table - pottery barn (discontinued), chairs - crate & barrel, pendants - shades of light)


the great room ... is pretty great.


you already know about the couches (restoration hardware. kensington. army duck in fog.) and the chairs/pillows. we haven't done anything to this room since then.

(fireplace surround is brick-pattern marble subway tile. lights above the fireplace are hudson valley keswick in chrome.)

in the spirit of keeping it real, this is the front room. it is also painted palladian blue. it will be lovely. someday. right now, it's where we put the things with which we have no idea what to do.

movin' right along.

next we walk through the front entry to get to harper's and my crafty room, and that will be the end of today's tour.


(stairway lights; rug.)

i found a cute little spoon-carved dresser on craigslist that i'm having restored then will paint and put in that empty spot above. can't wait to get that area dressed up.

(yes, mario literally follows me around all day long.)

we have three barn doors in the house. they are all on tracks from rustica hardware, in raw steel finish. (as much as we wanted to get stainless tracks, it would have been an additional $420 per track. um, no.) great company to work with, gorgeous product.

(vintage metal locker shelf found on craigslist; pendant is a hack of ikea's maskros light, ikea alex storage drawers, pottery barn rag rug (discontinued). this room is still very basic and unfinished, but it's functional.)


there you have it. the main floor. hope i've hit everything. i'll get to the other two floors later this weekend.

getting sidetracked again

maybe it isn't sidetracked, per se. maybe it's just that i'm desperate to do something to this house to make it feel more finished, but i know there won't be much of that happening until the other house sells.

(excuse me, for a moment. that house has been on the market for 10 months. we've dropped the price significantly. we're currently losing $60k in equity and $30k-plus in improvements. we have been stuck at our break-even point for the last six weeks. because we've been paying a double mortgage since october, the funds are not there to bring another $10k or more to the table to get that house off of our hands. we have lots of showings, feedback is always good, there is no one smoking gun that is preventing a sale. and yet, no bites. not even a nibble. not even an insulting low-ball offer. i think the universe is trying to tell us to rent it out.)

until the days of a single mortgage return, there are no major purchases in our future. however, there may be some projects, and i'm always on the lookout for a bargain that can be repurposed or repainted and come in handy.

current project: cover up some windows so

a) there's a little bit of privacy, and

b) i'm not blinded while working at the kitchen sink or sitting at the dining room table or sitting on the south-facing sofa at any point in the day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

that sun is brutal. and it's always sunny in minnesota. like, every day. except today.

because i haven't been able to decide what to do with the main floor windows, i decided to start with the sliding doors in the basement. back in december i found a killer deal on some great curtain panels at west elm. we finally bought hardware last week and got them hung over the weekend, only to notice ...



do you see it? the left panel is fine. the panel on the right? totally crooked. and the pattern doesn't line up with the other panel. i could live with not-totally-aligned circles, especially since the curtains will be open most of the day, but i cannot live with crooked. luckily, west elm will give me my $34 dollars back (like i said, killer deal) and i'll be back to square one on these windows. other than hardware. we now have that. so now i'm considering ikea's grommet panels and maybe some paint and a stencil? or try my hand at sewing on a thick horizontal band on the bottom? no clue. but something.

then there's upstairs.

we have a double window over the kitchen sink, a sliding glass door to the right of that, and great room windows immediately to the right of the sliders. lots of window ... very little wall space.



i have gone back and forth over what will look right there - blinds, roman shades, bamboo shades, curtains, pattern for one window, plain for another, etc. i found a fabric with potential at calico corners, but when i got a ballpark estimate for having a roman shade and panels made, i decided that no, in fact, that fabric was not going to work.

(ahem ... $$$$$)

so then i went back to my first-love fabric, which i found at tonic living. i think it would make lovely curtains. however, when i did a mock-up, i realized that there is so little actual wall space between runs of windows that using busy fabrics may not be the way to go.


so, my conundrum.

the great room windows are flanked with not enough wall space to sustain the volume of curtains that would be needed to function as window coverings. so for that space, i think stationary decorative panels bookending bamboo shades are going to win. but what type of curtains? the fabric i love?


 i love that. but then what do i do with the sliders? a different fabric wouldn't look right. would it?


 so maybe i would be better off with plain white linen curtains covering that whole run of windows?



(and then i could bring in those chiang mai dragon fabric pillows that i covet so desirously ...)

 okay, but then, what about the kitchen?


 do i go with continuity and put up a bamboo shade?



 that seems safe and boring.

i could go with that tonic living fabric i love so much and just pretend it works with the chiang mai (like i could afford those pillows any time soon, anyway. on that note, like i would spend that much on pillows anyway. i won't even spent $7 on an adorable white milk bottle at target because it's a "want," not a "need." sigh.)


 then again, i could go light and barely-there pattern to bring in some color but not stand out like, "HEY! LOOK AT ME!! I'M A SHAAAAADDDEEEEE!!"


i kinda like that idea.

i guess i really don't need to worry about this right right now. but it's either obsess over window coverings or obsess over rugs for the great room.

and i don't have a friggin' clue what to do about that one.



adventures with snowflake: day 14 & 15

yesterday, snowflake & gray kitty worked a jigsaw puzzle ...

today we discovered that at some point in the night, snowflake decided to add some sparkle to the garland in the loft window. and it didn't go well. and when gray kitty tried to help, it didn't go well for her, either.

what's that, you say? on day 14 they appear to be sitting on a real piece of furniture? well, yes, indeed. our dining room table finally arrived, after a two month saga. that is still going.

during the process of designing our house, we found the bennett dining table at pottery barn and decided it was exactly almost what we wanted. we (i) wanted something rustic, long & narrow, reclaimed. this was the not-reclaimed version of that vision. but the dimensions were perfect for the space allotted for dining, and fully extended this table will seat 10-12 people, which is what we need. so we decided either we'd find someone who could make a real reclaimed wood table, and i sent out several email queries, or we would, worst case scenario, get the pottery barn one.

around the time we closed on the house, it had become clear that having a table made wasn't in the cards. the people who actually bothered to return my emails were either a) not getting it, or b) out of our budget. so back to pottery barn we went. and the table was marked down. marc and i talked it over and decided to pull the trigger.

three days after discovering the marked down price, we called to order it. as the story of my life goes, the table was, at that point, discontinued and nowhere to be found.


the person i spoke with looked in the computer and told me that there were four tables left. "in the warehouse?" i asked. "in the country," she replied. all four were currently floor models ... three in california, one in arizona.

upside? all were marked down even further.

so i called all four of those stores. one didn't get back to me, one no longer had the table, one was helpful, but said the table wasn't in great condition, and the third - the arizona store - said yes, they have the table and it was only ever used in the window display and it's in good shape and they could get it to us.

if we work it out with ups.

so we called ups with the dimensions and weight, and found a table that size would cost us $1,700 to ship freight.

i threw up a little.

that was more than twice the cost of the table after markdowns!

so trey, the uber-helpful guy at pottery barn in arizona, and i discussed our options and ways around freight charges. then marc was telling me that a friend of ours runs a shipping company, and he could get one of his trucks to get it to us for about $300.


so two mondays ago, the truck went to pick up the table ... and found it wrapped in an unsatisfactory way. (one month of the delay was all about trying to find a box for the darn thing, and ending up with the pottery barn stock guys creating their own box out of other boxes. apparently, 10' long boxes aren't readily available.) three days later, the truck showed up again, said the boxing was now good, and started the trip to minnesota.

monday evening, we got word that the table was in. we had, literally, 90 minutes to get henry to swimming, drive 20 minutes to the warehouse, load the table into my suv, drive 20 minutes home, unload the table, drive back to pick up henry from swimming. and it all worked out perfectly, except that because both seats had to be down, harper had to ride freestyle all the way home. which made me ill, and made her giggle.

but we finally, after two months, had it in our house. marc went to build it and found that one leg had worked itself loose, but it wasn't anything a little wood glue wouldn't fix. then he found he was short two bolts, two nuts, and a 2" piece of dowel. nothing a trip to the hardware store first thing tuesday morning wouldn't fix. just before lunch, and just before leaving on a plane for a business trip, marc had the table ready to go. and it looks perfect in the room.

then i said the fateful words, "lets pull out the leaves to see how it looks fully extended."

um ...

no leaves.

are you kidding me?

that was two days ago. still haven't heard back from trey as to where our leaves are. however, if they are gone, we're up a creek without a table. and we're back to square one. and now we have to somehow get rid of this table that took us two months to get in the first place. because even though it's totally functional without the leaves, we need to seat more than six people. that was the whole friggin' point all along.

(must. control. stress.)

all of this is coming on top of so much other stress and uncertainty, and i'm at the edge. this morning i got up, got the kids off to school, went back to bed to sleep another hour and get rid of a crazy headache, and woke up at 11. i think my body is telling me it's done.

so tonight i will again call trey in arizona and see what he knows. and i will wait for marc to get home from his trip ... his flight has been delayed for the past two hours, so who knows if he'll even get here tonight. and i will go up and referee the fight that seems to have broken out upstairs in the past two minutes. and i will try to keep the big picture in mind and realize that, in the scheme of things, these are not big problems.