if you give a husband PTO days

you've heard of if you give a mouse a cookie, i'm sure. it's a classic cautionary tale: one cookie, and things spiral.

well, i've written a new version, based entirely on actual events.




if you give a husband pto days a week before christmas, he's going to decide to rearrange his office.


if he decides to rearrange his office, all of the contents of the office will come out of the room and go all over your basement.


if everything comes out of the office and goes all over the basement, the husband will then decide to dismantle his desk, shelves, lights, etc.



if he decides to dismantle everything, the room will be empty.


if the room is empty, he will see how dirty the carpet is.


if he sees how dirty the carpet is, he will call zerorez and schedule them to come the next day to clean the carpet.


if they come the next day to clean the carpet, they're going to have to clean something else too, because they won't clean just one room.


if they won't clean just one room, now you have to drop everything to clear out and clean three bathrooms so zerorez can clean the grout.


if they clean the grout, you might as well re-seal all the grout, because now it's clean.


if you have to re-seal all the grout, you might as well re-color the grout in two bathrooms, because the white grout has bugged the shit out of you for eight years.


if you have to re-color the grout, you have to wait three days for dove gray to be back in stock.


if you have to wait three days, you won't be twiddling your thumbs, because remember that office? it needs to be painted ASAP, and you're the person who does the painting.


if you're the person who does the painting, you spend the next two days prepping, priming, painting, AND painting an accent wall, just to add a challenge.




if you do all the painting, your husband will run to ikea twice and build new cabinets and paint all of the legs of his desk and wrap all four desktops with carbon fiber because, geek.




if he does all that building, he can then use his remaining PTO to put the office back together.





if he puts his office back together, you will decide the heck with waiting three days for dove gray, you make the executive decision to use black because it's in stock, and you spend the rest of the week lying on bathroom floors, re-coloring and scrubbing grout, and cursing your lot in life as The Person Who Does This.




if you're that person, and your husband is on PTO, and christmas is now only days away, and your first born is coming home this very night for winter break, you might as well paint the mudroom and replace the light while you're at it, because you are insane.




and if you're insane, you might just start to drop paint brushes and paint rollers and fall off the ladder because your hands no longer grip after seven days of holding a paint brush.

and you'll start to rue the day your husband decided to take the week before christmas as pto.

2019: the year of trying this again


fresh year, fresh start.

2018 was friggin.in.sane. one million percent. and i have so much to share and catch up on ... so the big question is: will i?

i plan to share some little trips we've taken, and henry's graduation and grad party ... because that was high level crazy. it's so weird to think that when i started to keep track of thoughts and memories in blog form, my kiddos were little, and now one is in college and the other is filling out her high school registration.

and yet, i'm still 35. go figure.

i have been spending a lot of time in reflection lately, trying to figure out the direction my life will take in the next five years, at which point i will send kiddo no. 2 into the world (and kiddo no. 1 will have graduated from college ... wtf.) and figure out my new place in it. i've been writing more (quietly, for myself), reading more, purging more (my definition of what sparks joy might be a little too forgiving, but i'm doing it my way), doing fewer things with more intention.

there are some potential changes on the horizon that have us in "wait and see" mode. we've been in the "new house" for seven and a half years now (holy crap how did THAT happen) so we're now in the stage of making changes and updates.

oh: and i left you hanging on the screened-room. it was "done enough" a week before the grad party ... i'll finish that story later. right now, the furniture is under covers and snow. but it was nice for a few months.







i can't wait to enjoy it for a full spring and summer. we plan to get the patio and fire pit done in the spring, and then we might finally be able to hang out in an outdoor space. fingers crossed we can get a few evenings in before the mosquitoes become rabid and inescapable.

so i'm back. let's see how it goes.



when the world goes to hell ...

you throw caution to the wind and build a deck.

or, at least, that's our attitude.

when we moved in six and a half  years ago,

(and ... okay ... just for a minute: our first house was lovely, but at the seven year mark we knew it was time to move. our second house was lovely, but at the seven year mark we knew it was time to move. now we're staring down the seven year mark in this house, and we find ourselves thinking that we just got here. what kind of crazy wormhole did we cross that made seven years go so damn fast?? anyway ...)

when we moved in six and a half years ago, we knew building a deck and screened room was the next phase. we assumed we would get on that a bit more quickly than we did, but decks and screened rooms aren't cheap, right? finally, last spring, we realized that in one year we would be hosting a bunch of people at our house for a graduation party, and we needed somewhere to put them that wasn't, actually, IN the house. so we called six different contractors/deck builders, met with them all, some got our vision, some did not, some called back, some did not. in the end, we decided to go with our builder, because we knew the architect would make the aesthetic perfect for the house, and we knew the siding and shingles would be seamless.

we provided a few guidelines and inspiration pictures. what we knew: maintenance-free decking (who wants to spend their summer sanding and re-staining?), gray and white colors to go with the house and other porches, open ceiling with exposed beams, casual/rustic but not rusty/farmhouse/cozy.

we showed the builder ...











and my favorite ...



the builder took all the info, and came back with this:



and just before christmas, they showed up and started to rip off siding and put up beams.

fun fact: when you put a screened room off the back of your house, which happens to be where your kitchen is, and you have open shelves in the kitchen, you're gonna need to take all the stuff off of those shelves or the vibration from the siding removal will do that for you.

the more you know.

the guys worked so hard for about three weeks ... all the structure went up, roof and shingles went on, decking was laid, railings were installed ... and that's where we sit right now.






 we're just waiting on the weather to warm enough for everything to be finished at once - siding, bead board, paint, screens, install lights, pour the patio area. once we get to the finish stage, it will go quickly. and it will have to ... we're two months from that graduation party.

hopefully, the next update will be the finished product. we've started to order the furniture to put in it, and we're already dreaming of the day we can sit out there to eat a meal ... enjoy a morning coffee ... swing on a hammock in the space under the deck ...

this is the vibe:




the table and chairs are sitting in a warehouse until we have somewhere to put them, the armchairs are on the way, the lights and fan are sitting in the living room as i type. it's going to be fun to load it all in and grill some burgers and enjoy sitting outside without sitting outside.

(as long as it's done before the graduation party. that's literally all i ask. minnesota needs to warm up and the snow needs to melt asap.)

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.



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



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.




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.




(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.)



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





(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.)



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:







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




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


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.







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

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





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




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.






(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.)












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





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.


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 - upper floor

i'm doing the opposite of saving the best for last ... i'm actually saving the least interesting - the basement - for last. only because i haven't yet gotten into marc's office to take pix, and that's only because i honestly have no idea how to turn on the lights in there, and a flash just wouldn't do the room justice. but he's home more now, so hopefully i can get in there tonight or tomorrow.

but today: the second floor.

first, though - one question i received that i forgot to address about the main level: the floors are forli verona by bella cera, hand-scraped, engineered (which, yes, sounds like an oxymoron) hickory. the finish is dark but not ebony dark. and there's no reddish-orange undertone. the floors are lovely.

now that that's settled ...


the main thing we changed in the layout of this house back in the planning stages was the landing upstairs. in the floor plan, the entry was supposed to be two-story, with an open staircase. marc and i feel that two-story open areas are, while lovely, a waste of what could be useable square footage. so we closed off the majority of the open space of the foyer to create a loft for the kids' computers. this is where they play minecraft, where marc researches guns and watches car videos on youtube while the kids are getting ready for bed.

the little desk hiding on the left will be set out for the neighborhood yard sale next weekend. and at some point i'm going to add an art shelf behind the computers and add photos of the kids and things they've created. that will come. we've added next to nothing to any of the walls at this point ... i'm still shuffling things around.

(by the way, every time you see a ceiling light in this house, there's a better than good chance that it's norwell's clayton light. it had a bit of an old school look to it so we used it quite a bit. and it was relatively inexpensive.)

across the hall from the loft is the laundry room.

same tile as the mudroom. the counter tops are a gray laminate with a subtle tone-on-tone grid pattern. laundry bins are from the container store. cheap light in here will probably be replaced someday, but for now ... it's a light.

while i wasn't initially in love with losing my huge laundry room with a ceiling full of lines on which to hang wet things, i do, actually, like my storage shelves. the shelf above each bin is labeled, and everyone (theoretically) puts their clothes in the right bin at the end of the day. i'm still trying to get certain people (ahemharper) to put things in the bins right side out and unballed, or to put things in the right bin (ahemmarc), or to actually put things in the bins at all (ahemhenry), but we're on the right track. and it saves me a lot of time in the long run. apparently not enough time to fold the loads that come out, as evidenced by the pile on the counter, but it's a start. i still miss my drying lines like you wouldn't believe, but i have a system up now that is ... okay. unfortunately, it is also really flimsy. within the first month of having it up, i had four fleeces and a bra drying at one point and the whole thing just jumped off the wall, ripping out drywall in the process. so marc nailed up a 1x6, painted it the same white as the wall, screwed the racks back in, added some hooks to hold my laundry bags, and since then it's been much better.

i have a feeling i will tweak this room as i go.

what i won't tweak, though, are the anthropologie knobs on the laundry sink cabinet. because they are adorable.


and because they, along with the colorful bins, work with this print that i hung above the sink:

and that's all i have to say about the laundry room.

next to the laundry is the kids' bathroom. i love this room, even though it is also still not quite finished. (you'll find "not quite finished" is a running theme around here.)

white hex tile on the floor, white subway tile in the shower. two more barn lights above the sink, which is a kohler brockway sink. ikea hemnes cabinet and wall hooks. the medicine cabinet was built by our cabinet guy, and the knobs - like the laundry room - are gorgeousness from anthro, which are, sadly, no longer available.

they were actually a serendipitous find. i had already bought towels for the kids' bathroom (lime and ocean stripes and dots) and was searching for fun knobs, but nothing quite worked. then i found these and they were perfect. the turquoise, bright green, and fuschia of the towels were perfectly matched in the knobs.

even more serendipitous, i was scouring etsy for some neat art to hang on the wall and bring the colors together, when i got a sale notice in email from serena & lily ... their zodiac prints were on special, already framed and ready to go. the colors worked well enough for my taste. but the best part is that my kiddos are a pisces and an aquarius - watery symbols that are perfect for a bathroom.

perfect, i say.

speaking of the kids, here are their rooms:

henry really cleaned up for this, didn't he?

henry's room is the only one upstairs that is a color. we had his room painted benjamin moore classic gray. looks really gray, doesn't it? sigh. oh well. i'm sure we'll paint it something else someday. there's a lot to do in this room still. he needs curtains of some sort - i'm thinking plumbing pipe screwed to the wall, and white ikea grommet curtains. he also needs an actual bed ... we're planning to get this one or something like it:

young, yet masculine, but could still be so cool as a guest bed down the road when my kid leaves home. and it will work just fine with the camo bedspread he has, and the striped sheets i'm planning to get him as soon as they go on sale.

we used ikea billy bookcases from the old house and screwed them to his wall, and a stainless steel ikea tabletop fit perfectly in the remaining space to create a little built-in desk for homework. it works for him ... he has more books than anything else, so a wall of bookshelves made total sense. continuing the ikea theme, his ceiling light is also ... ikea.

across the hall is a much different space:

there is more "not quite done yet" in this room ... things missing, a box of stuffed animals shoved in the corner because i have no idea what to do with them ... but it's a tad closer than henry's. we had an antique jenny lind bed from my parents, and i found a second on craigslist. we had them both painted black, which i think was the right call. they're gorgeous. and the white of the room and the little bits of black help keep the Crazy that is those bedspreads from being too much. we added another ikea billy bookcase (why do my kids have so many books?! that's rhetorical ... it's totally my fault.), and i strung adorable buntings made from vintage sheets that i found through this etsy shop. (looks like she may be taking some time off from her business.)

on the other side of the room ... more ikeaness.

i didn't take a photo of how they turned out - must do that at some point - but the ikea trofast units with the white drawers were stenciled with a lovely leafy/flower pattern in the same simply white as the rest of the house. the plan now is to add some narrow shelves above both drawer units to put all of the special things and keepsakes up and out of harm's way, and then use the top of the storage units for littlest pet shop houses. the pottery barn dollhouse bookshelf is strictly hodgepodge barbie storage right now, but there is a plan afoot to make it all much more calm and organized. and there is much art to hang in here. i'll get to that later, too.

gotta have a summer project, right?

what you can't see is the ceiling light - it's a fuschia ikea lamp shade hung from a $10 light kit, like the one in the mudroom. it looks like a really neat pink drum shade but cost, like, twenty bucks. and this weekend we will be putting up her curtains. she had curtain rods with bird finials from land of nod (it appears they no longer sell hardware) in her old room and loves them, but their off white/antiqued look won't work in this room. so i'm going to spray them black, then hang these curtains ...

it should be pretty cute, and will block out all of the summer evening light that pours in at the end of the day around the edges of her blinds. blocking that light will be the big win.

moving down the hall, this is the upstairs guest room:

the side table is actually a metal foot locker that marc's grandpa had in world war II. the name "skinner" is written on the top. i love that. the lamp is from target a million years ago ... it isn't  permanent, but it works. the floor lamp is vintage pottery barn. ("vintage" being circa 1998ish.) the bed is ... drum roll ... ikea. it was originally in harper's room at the old house ...

remember this?

when you pull out the trundle, it's a perfect king-sized bed. technically, it's the biggest bed in our house.

who wants to come visit?

we had the builders add shelves to the niche that was created when the loft was made, so that guests have a place to put a laptop or whatever. i kinda dig the niche.

bedding: west elm quilt and shams (no longer available), macy's sheets (which i love love love. so much so that i want to get the exact same ones for our room. would that be weird?), discontinued pottery barn accent pillows, which i got for a smokin' deal nearly two years ago and saved just for this room. yes, i did everything else in the room around those pillows. still need curtains ... need to get a chair for the desk area so we can take that one back to the basement, but i haven't decided between a slipcovered parson chair or a black crossback one. also need to figure out the art situation, but at least this room is functional, sweet, and cozy.

finally, last bedroom and bathroom upstairs ... ours.

continuing with the "work in progress" theme ... this room is ridiculously empty. we opted to stick with a queen bed instead of shelling out the cash for not only a bigger bed frame/headboard, but also a new mattress, new bedding, new everything. that seemed excessive. however, our bed kinda floats in the room. even worse, we have yet to figure out bedside tables or lamps, so the ones we have are puny and ineffective.

our dresser from the old house, which i love more than life itself and seemed so gargantuan in our former room, is perfectly sized for the new space.

we did managed to hang a bit of art in this room ...


bed is from crate & barrel. shams are from que sera. accent pillows from macy's, years ago. duvet is pottery barn, also from years ago. sheets are from tj maxx. dresser is restoration hardware.

at some point, we'll figure out nightstands and lights (it's annoying to have to walk across the room to turn off the light at night. i miss my little bedside sconces.), and i'll put a bench of some sort at the foot of the bed to catch the duvet that we inevitably kick off most nights. and the farther out plan is to get a little bookshelf and reading chair for the corner opposite the dresser so i can have a little quiet nook. or to eat up floor space. same thing. honestly, i like a clean, white, calm bedroom, so there won't be too much of anything added just for the sake of adding.

through the bedroom is the master bath ...

it's super pretty.


let's see what we have going on in here ...

the vanity/tub is painted benjamin moore alaskan husky. white on white on white on white seemed a bit much, so the little hint of gray is nice. the vanity and tub surround are carrera marble. the floor is hex and dot ... why it is more off white than white, i have no idea. however, i went off reservation and ordered the tile from somewhere else because our supplier didn't have this particular pattern, so i was stuck. that's what i get for being picky. the shower tile is 8x10 white ceramic and a stacked accent of glass, frosted glass, and marble. it's lovely.

hardware on the vanity are the chatham pulls and the green glass knobs and hooks from restoration hardware. other hardware - towel bar, train rack, etc. - are from the mercer collection at pottery barn, and the mirror is the kensington tilt mirror, also pb. lights above the sink are norwell dahlia. shower, bath, and sink fixtures are brizo baliza in chrome. towel cabinet is restoration hardware.

the only hindsight issue i have upstairs is the master bath. we were asked if we wanted radiant heat installed under the tile. we thought that sounded a bit much - and my feet are always hot - so we declined. however, because this room is in a far corner of the house and it so wide open, it's cold in the winter. like, freezing. those tiles might have been nice. so we're going to look into how much it would be to swap out the ceiling fan/vent for one that also has a heat setting. and the window, while lovely, is static. i have learned that i would have preferred something that would open to allow for fresh air and ventilation. also? it's high on the wall. i can't see out of it. even on my tip toes.

so ... two floors down, one to go. the basement will be a much shorter visit.

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.

minor changes

back in january, when the couches arrived, the great room finally had places to sit.

less empty than empty, but too stark even for my minimalist leanings.

then, last weekend, as you may have noticed, we brought home two chairs that we'd left at the old house, and plopped them in the great room for the time being.

as they sat there, i realized they were helping to fill in the room a bit. not chairs that i'd had in mind for the space, but hey - they were chairs, and they didn't cost us a penny.

however, the cushions weren't working for me.

so i went shopping. i stopped at pier 1 to see if they had any of the same seat cushions so i could replace the stained, flattened, off-white ones. they did - if i wanted bright yellow, bright green, turquoise, or off-white again. so, turquoise came home with me.

not sold on that and thinking i may be able to gently wash the existing cushions in a diluted bleach bath, i then ran to crate & barrel ... and pottery barn ... and west elm ... and target ... looking for pillows for the back of the chair. i looked at different colors, solid colors, patterns, napkins that could be sewn into pillow covers. i contemplated the white tuxedo pleat curtains we took from the old house and wondered how they would look sewn into pillow covers. i questioned why every store only sells off-white. there is no White. why is that?! some people don't WANT off-white. but i digress.

i wasted an entire day on this project.

not totally satisfied that what i'd purchased to mix and match would result in a winner, i came home to play. for sure, i knew, the yellow covers would have to go. too mustardy, too warm, but i didn't have a back-up plan so i left them. i tried the various combos i'd brought home, and in the end, surprisingly, i went with the turquoise seat cushions (which i feared were too bright and turquoise-y) and left the yellow back pillow. why? because of these gray lovelies that i picked up at west elm.

the subtle gray works with the color of the couches, and the diamond pattern mimics the tufting, and the pattern tones down the "solidness" of the turquoise and mustard. and once it was all together, i realized that the colors actually work perfectly with what is on the mantle.

so, sold. they're staying. for now.

and the room feels much warmer and closer to "together."

still on the hunt for a rug - contemplating flor tiles ... anyone have experience with those? - and need to get some tables and lamps and figure out the window covering situation. one thing at a time, though. because through this little pillow exercise, i've learned how much of an impact adding one little thing at a time really makes.

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.



it's twins!!

remember a year ago, when marc and i had spring break to ourselves to pack, and we ended up falling head-over-heels for some fancy schmancy couches? couches that totally derailed my plans for white, white, and more white? and then i debated and pro/conned my little brains out for months?

well, in october we decided okay ... we love the couches. even after moving and seeing the finished space we still loved them and knew they were the way we wanted to go.

we went to the store to order them and were told delivery would be right around thanksgiving. we placed the order, and were told no, actually, delivery would be just before christmas. seriously? ugh. two months without furniture. of any kind. a few days later, we received the actual invoice and it said sorry for the delay, but delivery would actually be mid-freaking-january.

i was suddenly really, really irritated with these couches.

nearly four months of living in a house without a lick of furniture on the main floor. (remember: no dining room table, no chairs, nothing in the front room, and the crafty room populated only with boxes.) then, soon after, our island stools arrived. then, a couple of weeks later, our dining room chairs arrived. and we pulled the folding table out of the garage. and it was fancy. then, two months later, the dining room table arrived sans leaves. (jury's still out on whether we're keeping it.) and finally, yesterday, after months of waiting and wondering whether we did the right thing ...


there they were.

and they are amazing.


and i'm so glad we went with the 8' size, because it's perfectly proportioned for the room, and there's still breathing room if we ever want two smaller accent chairs.

and i may have sat on one for about an hour and a half last night, reading magazines and becoming one with their amazingness.


good things do come to those who wait. and now we continue to wait ... for a rug, curtains, a table on which to set my drink ... and the other house to sell so we can get those things.