Monday, May 28, 2012

Tour de Jour: Living & Dining Rooms

We did it!  We painted, furnished, decorated and (almost) finished our living and dining rooms.  Whew!  It only took a year and a half of living here.  And now we get a bonus year to enjoy it.

I say almost because there are still three things I want before I feel fully complete with this room.  1.  This rug, which has been out of stock for months.  Today it’s 60% off!  (Grrrrrrr.)  2.  A soft, begs-you-to-curl-up throw for the couch.  Color:  mustard.  (Does it exist?  Where?!)  3.  A statement chair.  Patterned and mustard.  Ironically, I’ve been on the hunt for this the longest and have yet to find it.  It’s out there.  Likely at Home Goods.  One day, after I exercise enough patience and stalking, we will meet and all will be right with the world.

Since those things are more or less out of my control, I am letting them go for now, calling this room “done enough” and giving the bloggity blog world the Tour de Jour.

BEFORE:  LIVING ROOM (These were taken when we first moved in and Max still used an activity mat.  Wow.)DSC_0014DSC_0012

Remember when I had more pillows than shoes?  Not really, but kind of?


AFTER:  LIVING ROOMDSC_0034DSC_0067Remember how we scored that flat screen for $6?


For 18 months our dining room alternated between an empty space to play and a storage place to paint. The picture below on the left I grabbed off our landlord’s website. We never had those ugly curtains, but you can see the big empty room, just begging for a dining room table. For a year and a half we had no table and only once was this room “dined” in and that was by kids during General Conference.


diningDSC_0143  DSC_0010 Circa October 2010 with some Barnes 2nd cousins.  At this point we were using the dining room to store stuff.  So classy and tasteful, right?  Other thoughts about this random photo:  wow, Lincoln was mad and that couch cover was SUCH a pain.



The transition was a lengthy process.  We shopped and shopped and budgeted and saved our Christmas money and waited for deals and did things ourselves and tried to exercise patience.  This process may not be ideal, but it’s kind of how our home projects roll.  In the end, they feel more like labors of love, which helps me truly appreciate them.

IMG_0874One of the many couches we didn’t buy.

Just before Christmas, we pulled the trigger on a dining room table.


Which my little elves helped assemble. 

When fully expanded this table seats 10. We’re not sure we have that many friends, but if we can round them up, imagine, we could sit down all together!


We painted.  Good thing Anderson is such an awesome helper!


Colonial Red to Yellow Gold.



Blinding White (not what it’s actually called but what it felt like) to Warm Flannel Grey.  Same color we painted the basement.


In February, my Mom helped me transform the legs of these chairs from brown to silver.

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We were going to silver leaf them but decided to take the spray paint shortcut instead.  My mom is the queen of spray paint.  They didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, but I’m generally happy with them; and I love them as our heads of the table chairs. 


The living room re-do upgraded from a want to a need when our couch cover literally started falling apart.  We’d had it for 8+ years, and I was SO sick of making my couch every day.  Tuck, pull, tie, smooth, repeat, kill me.  The couch underneath the cover was a hand me down and still in great condition.  It just wasn’t my taste.  We ended up handing it down to my visiting teacher.


When the couch cover eventually trashed to threadbare state, I knew it was high time for our first set of real, we-actually-bought-them couches.  Oh happy day.


Our new sofa and loveseat are crazy comfortable.  I love them and their herringbone detail.  So much better than hole detail.

DSC_0072DSC_0075IMG_1128 They say grey is the new black.  I totally believe them.

My color and theme inspiration started with this pillow from Target.


I loved the mustard and the flowers and knew I’d design around it the minute I saw it.  It took a long time to settle on the colors I wanted to coordinate with it.  I knew I’d use grey and I kept gravitating towards blue, but I wouldn’t let myself commit to it.  Finally I fell in love with my blue dining chairs and blue -- azure to be exact -- was officially in the mix.  I think I subconsciously patterned my rooms after my diaper bag, which makes sense, because I love my diaper bag.


I enjoyed accessorizing the rooms the most.  Home Goods had my trustworthy hook ups every time.  Man, I love that place!  Everything pictured below, minus the table, came from HG.


Speaking of accessories, how ‘bout a little shout out to my favorite details in the rooms?

My favorite, favorite, FAVORITE part of the rooms is our lantern.  Our old light was a tall black stick lamp.  See the before pictures or just think of every college apartment you’ve ever seen.  I struggled finding affordable lighting I liked.  Then I found this lantern, with two broken glass panes, on clearance at TJ Maxx.


I initially thought it could serve as a coffee table centerpiece, but it was too big.  Harley had the genius idea to turn it into a light and hang it.  After some guidance from my Mom (who is also the queen of watching HGTV and upcycling just about anything), custom cut new glass (cheap at Lowe’s), a lighting kit from Amazon, a white plastic chain I spray painted grey and a trial run through about a dozen different kinds of light bulbs, we’d lit up our masterpiece. 


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I found a more suitable coffee table centerpiece.  One that compliments the hanging lantern quite nicely.


The other source of light in the room I also love and it has a tale as well.  The base is from Target (marked down twice) and the shade is from Ikea.  I had to make five trips total to the two stores to get it all right. 


I love my oversized fork and spoon on the dining room wall.  They were thoughtful gifts from my Mom.  No need to leave your giant cereal bowl home when you visit us next time!


I’ve never had a hutch or butler’s pantry until this home and I LOVE it.  Great for storing and displaying.  I rearranged things and added a few new pieces.  All things colorful and fabulous were practically stolen from HG.

BEFORE:                                            AFTER:


Mindy helped me concoct my dining table centerpiece.  Apothecary jar and blue & white balls thanks to HG.  The mustard ones I made with Styrofoam balls and yarn.


This picture of the Salt Lake Temple is incredibly special to us.  For years we have wanted a beautiful picture of the temple or Christ in our home.  Our second year of marriage we set out to buy a spiritual painting for each other as a Christmas gift.  We couldn’t find anything we loved.  I’m a big believer that art should never be just a space filler.  Art needs to speak to you  -- better yet, SING to your soul and move you.  Everything we saw seemed overused and failed to say anything more than “no” to us.  Instead of church art, we came home with a knock-off painting of Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night, which we love to this day, but oh, brother what did that say about our priorities?  When I saw this picture hanging on my Mom’s wall a year ago it was as though the MoTab itself burst into the “Hallelujah” chorus and proclaimed to me, “THAT is IT!”  I’d never seen a temple picture like it.  For that reason alone, I was moved.  Throw in the vibrant colors, the beautiful lighting, the fresh angle and the fact that it’s OUR temple? Well, it spoke indeed.  The Spoken Word!  I recommitted to never settle for art I don’t love.  The wait always pays off! The hunt just might take a long time.


My Mom purchased this picture at Costco in Utah, which probably means it won’t be unique for long, but it’s still pretty original in Maryland.  It took some finagling to get the Utah Costco special and have it shipped to us in Gaithersburg, but we did it last fall.  We called it an 8 year anniversary gift to ourselves. 


Special shout out to the birds (and Target) who practically sing happiness when you enter the dining room from the deck.


And bonus shout out to my new kitchen tablecloth, even though it’s not technically in my new rooms.  My old, falling apart kitchen table will be my next project.  For now this tablecloth breathes fresh life, and yes, mustard (I’m a bit obsessed) into the kitchen.


So there it is.  Come!  Visit!  Dine!  Sit!  We can rave on how sometimes a looooong, budgeted, do-it-yourself process can eventually pull a room together.


More Tour de Jour:  Basement, Master Bedroom, Travel Wall, Anderson’s Big Boy Room, Max’s Nursery

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bless You, Spring


We’ve had a wonderful spring.  Much better than our winter.  The weather has been amazing and we’ve taken many opportunities to get out and enjoy it.  My allergies, on the other hand, are not so amazing.  It’s time I come to terms with the fact that I’m allergic to something springtime.  I have no idea what it is, but I really ought to get it tested and under control because it is no good.

What was good?  St. Patrick’s Day.  The parade and the Mexican food.  Mexican food on an Irish holiday makes total sense, by the way.


Cherry blossoms are glorious in DC springtime but man, are they fleeting. You miss the peak (which always inconveniently falls during the week when it’s nearly impossible for me to get downtown with the kids), and one rainstorm later and they are GONE. Every year I’m disappointed we don’t time it right and capture that one magical, perfect weather day downtown. Sure enough, this year, the night before our planned DC blossom day a storm stripped the trees. I was so disappointed.  Harley pointed out it’s a good thing we’re staying another year.  As an alternative, we opted to stroll through Kenwood neighborhood where instead of walking under a canopy of pink flowers we treaded on a bed of blossoms. 


It wasn’t so disappointing.

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We even caught a few streets with trees still clinging to the canopy effect.


At times, it rained blossoms.  That was magical.

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There was the day we picnicked in front of the Washington Monument and flew a kite.DSC_0013-001DSC_0038-002 DSC_0025-002DSC_0021-002  DSC_0083-002DSC_0080 DSC_0084 DSC_0109-001DSC_0072-002 IMG_1369 IMG_1371 

25.5 weeks prego


There were lots of good, warm, sneezy -- but happy -- days in between.

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We wrap up spring and welcome a crazy, packed (but hooray, no sneezing!) summer.  Well, maybe not so much welcome, as ready or not, here it comes.  We leave for Utah/Idaho and two weddings in six days.  There isn’t a whole lotta time between our trip and the arrival of Baby #3, so my nesting instincts and To Do list obsessing kicked in weeks ago.  Too bad my body can’t keep up with my will, and I am a hot mess of aches and complaints by the time I crash into bed every night.  Much to accomplish before this little one arrives.  Buy a car, plan food for scout camp and come up with a name… just to list a few.  Oh boy.  But hey, upload a million spring pictures in one self-indulgent blog post?  Check.