Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Who Wants to Buy Our House?

There is a touch of Fall in the air here lately. Which makes me excited for football games, cozy sweaters, and long walks through fallen leaves. 

And yet it's not quite August so I'm still wearing my summer clothes: white jeans, a citron striped shirt, shoes without socks...

All of which has not a thing to do with what I've been up to lately. Other than to say that by the time Fall is really in swing, maybe just maybe, we'll be moving to a new house.

On Sunday our realtor came over. I had spent what felt like the entire weekend cleaning and organizing and styling our house. We've been up late doing projects every night after working all day. And there is still so.much.more to do. How in the world did we accumulate so much stuff?!? For now, despite all my organizing adages, I've resorted to cramming stuff under beds. I suspect that won't at all work with kids in the house; they've already found some piles of old toys and gotten them out to play. 

Exterior of a pretty house in a great neighborhood at a fantastic price, but not a house we will be buying.

As fun as it is to look at real estate, I'm not getting my hopes up about any of the houses that are currently on the market. We have to sell our house first. {my mantra} To help speed things along, Saint Joseph is in the mail and on his way to us.

All the effort will be so worth it, though, when we see a "Sold" sign on our front lawn. And even better, get the keys to our new home!

As soon as the house is actually listed and the photos are online, I'll be sure to let you know. Some of the best tips for getting better pictures were in this post by the Nester.

Now it's your turn...

Tell me your best home-selling tips!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Non-Traditional Advice for Storing Toys

It occurs to me that it has been far too long since I have shared a good ole organizing post with you all. And this is one that I need oh so badly with two children and roughly one million toys.

The problem is not so much the toys themselves. I love to see the kids playing and having fun being kids. But how to store it ALL? Because it's not one doll, but seven assorted baby dolls and American Girl friends plus a tiny high chair, cradle, stroller, and armoire, and nearly as many clothes as my child has. Plus dress-up costumes, Barbie dolls and their assorted homes and automobiles, My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets, a dollhouse, and more puzzles, games, and art supplies than you can shake a stick at. Of course, that's just one kid. And this is the reason that other posts about storing toys never seem to really get it for me.

So, my own take on the Rules for Creating Great Playrooms:

1. You don't need a ton of space to create a great little spot for your kids to enjoy. 
In fact, I'm re-reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic The Secret Garden right now and it reminds me how much children love a spot they can claim as their very own. Find a little unused closet, nook, or corner of a room in your home and turn it over to their imaginations! Use shelves up the wall for assorted toy storage. A little bench or toy chest (possibly with even more storage space inside) topped by a cushion...and DONE! 

You can make it fun like these parents did by adding a cute awning and some bins for easily grabbing and putting away smaller toys.

Or completely go the other direction and disguise the toys by tucking them away behind doors and inside the drawers of a large piece like this one from Layla Grace

Skirted ottomans can also be used to hide away toys when not in use and create an elegant look. Be sure to use a washable fabric if your kids are still very young.

2. Baskets and trays are lifesavers when organizing.  
I don't know if you can have too many baskets and trays. Use a tray on your coffee table to create a styled tablescape that works for the way you live. Fill a beautiful bowl with Matchbox cars or puzzle pieces and stack it on top of a bunch of classic children's books instead of coffeetable books. Make a sculpture out of LEGO blocks. Have fun with the fact that you live with kids! Use baskets to hide away the toys that aren't as pretty to look at (but still so fun to play with).

3. Create a place on the wall for the kids' artwork.  
By grouping it all together in a designated spot, it becomes a colorful gallery. You can also avoid having tape (or glue!) damaging your walls.

4. Floor space.
Be sure to leave plenty of room for the kids to spread out on the floor to play trains or race cars or whatever. Don't forget yourself! Add someplace comfy for you to sit and observe or snuggle up with a good book.

Thoughts On How to Do the Great Toy Purge:
While most of what I have read suggests that parents should involve their kids in clearing out old toys, I think that might not be a step one project. For example, I'm going to be going through the mountains of toys in our house by myself. Before I take anything to the consignment store, I'll involve my kids to make sure they're okay with letting something go. But too early in the process and it'll just make everyone crazy and bring on the tears.

If you feel overwhelmed by all the stuff, use the 12-inch square method. This works pretty much as it sounds. Grab everything in a 12-inch area, decide whether to keep or not, and put it where it goes. I like to move around a room in a clockwise motion in order to stay on task.

Don't feel like you have to get rid of everything. Sure, it's nice to make donations or earn a few bucks, but it's also fine to hang on to perfectly good toys in case you have more children, want to pass them down to a younger cousin or friend, or even to show your grandchildren someday. And, yes, a minimalist just died somewhere...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Inspiring Kids' Rooms

Part of making our house feel like home has to include a design plan for the kid spaces. I've been working on Griffin's and Bela's bedrooms for awhile, but I'm not quite ready for the big reveal. So until then... some great kid spaces from other bloggers!

I love this sweet room for a little boy from Almost Home. The post is chock-full of tips on how to inexpensively decorate a child's room.

Not surprisingly this little boy's room is on a blog called i love that! The room has such a great mix of colors and patterns, but what I'm most loving are the huge stripes on the wall. 

I have to mention the very chic lucite book shelves, too. I've seen them in a few other blogger kid rooms but had to hunt down the link. You can find them here; they range in size from 16 inches to 48 inches and are a great price!

Finally, Classic Style Home has a fun sports-themed gameroom. I love how all the "stuff" is contained in the bins and coffee table tray. And very affordably, too.

Do you notice a theme? I am loving the blue & white stripes in all three spaces.  It's a look that I've already starting building on in Griffin's room. And one day, I'll show you!

For more kid spaces that I like, please visit my kid room and playrooms boards on Pinterest!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Birthday Wishes

Happy Monday! I hope that you all enjoyed my birthday weekend as much as I did. Although I was not terribly excited about turning another year older--at first--I was reminded that there are people who would give anything for one more day. So... we celebrated. Mostly with shopping and cake!

Here are a few of my favorite things from the past week...

My plan for any birthday money was to buy lots of pretty bottles of liquor and create a home bar.

These coasters from Pretty Smitten on Etsy would look so great on a well-styled bar cart ...  

Like Kristin's on The Hunted Interior. However, the tooth fairy comes tonight, and we took a  road trip to IKEA --and there goes my budget for a bar.

While at IKEA I saw these great lucite chairs. Called the Tobias. It reminded me of this post about retro chrome chairs, and the funniest Arrested Development character EVER.

My parents were visiting for my birthday and we watched Hitchcock's North by Northwest on Saturday night. It's one of my favorites, and even the kids were hooked. Thankfully it wasn't black and white because there would have been tears.

I also found out that this film was made here in Michigan and includes shots of my hometown. It should be something my kids enjoy; the writer previewed it with his wife's fifth grade class.

And I still want to move back to my other "hometown." I found this house, which is right next door to one of my son's best friends... and practically in the backyard of my ex-husband.

I think it's a contender because I saw the perfect replacement fixture for the foyer when I was at Pottery Barn over the weekend.

Very similar--if not this one--and it was marked down from $300-plus to less than $200!

There's also this house, a little further away, but on the same street in the same neighborhood.

Is it just me or is there something so so fun about trying to work around funky wallpaper?? I'll understand if you say it is just me, but I love it. This house had been listed with someone else, and thankfully for my imagination, the new realtor has some different photos. 

But we still have a ton of little jobs to do around our current house. In particular, painting. Which is why I didn't finish Bela's room to feature on the kid room link-up hosted last week by Emily A. Clark. However, I found three rooms that I just love and that you must see... Tomorrow.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Paint It Black

If there's a piece of furniture that you have been wanting to change up, I say, why not paint it black? Too dark, you say? Not if you take tips from this collection of inspirational gorgeousness.

The brass keyholes and matte finish on this chest of drawers really soften the look of the piece. And the white-washed chair and flokati rug take that effect to another level.
Knight Moves
This dark chest pops against the white wall. A well-placed piece in a dark color provides great contrast in an otherwise light space. Be sure to visit the link to see what this space looked like before she painted the chest. And note how awesome the mix of brass mirror and silver lamps & shades looks together, too.
In a nursery, a dark piece adds sophistication and glamour. Maybe not always your first choice when you think of a sweet little baby, but certainly a look that can be grown into. via Holly Mathis
And, you can create the look of a piece of furniture by painting the base of a bar or island black. I especially like the moldings and post. 

-- I'm pretty sure those aren't the technical terms but you'll have to forgive me, I have had NO coffee yet today; I'm saving myself for my birthday cup at Starbucks. Which may be why I'm in such a black mood. Today is the last day at this age and it feels like everything good is in the past. But black can be nice, too, don't you think??

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ultimate Dinner Party

Let's play a game. Imagine you are set to host the ultimate dinner party. Who would you invite (living, dead, fictional)?


My guest list would include Jackie O. and J.K. Rowling, for sure. How about you??

Monday, July 15, 2013

Almost There...

It feels as if I have been planning Bela's bedroom makeover forever. In fact, it was last summer that I announced my first plan for it. The plan has evolved since then. 

But the announcement by Emily A. Clark last week that she would be hosting a link-up party starting today featuring blogger's best kid's spaces spurred me on to do what I needed to get it done. Except, of course, that I'm not quite there. 

Some things have actually been done for awhile and others I managed to finish today. For example, I purchased two glittery 11x14 gold frames at Michael's today (bonus: it was buy one, get one free) and some white mats. When I got home, I turned on HGTV and began adding the art. Incidentally, Hilary of Love it or List it deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

I had put off stopping to buy the peacock chair on the way home from work because it was raining. That turned out to be extremely fortuitous. When I called to find out what time the store closed, the owner and I worked out a deal. I said $20; he countered $25. And because I was paying cash, that was the out-the-door price. Woohoo! I'm sure it was because it was the end of the day and the owner didn't feel like bringing it back indoors for the night. But it feels like I've learned how to negotiate!

And despite the humidity and later rainstorm, I managed to get the frame of my grandma's antique mirror spray painted. My first ever spray paint job, and it was A LOT easier than I expected. So easy it's entirely possible I've done something very wrong.

But regardless of my efforts, pop over to Emily A. Clark's site--not only to see the other inspiring rooms, but also because you can enter to win a $500 giveaway to Pottery Barn Kids!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bastille Day Sales

Ooh la la! C'est Bastille Day. OK, technically the French don't call it that, but they are celebrating le quatorze juillet nonetheless. 

Every room needs a little French something. Un petit joie de vivre. Enter today's sales on One Kings Lane.

Indiennes Vert Dish Towels
Use these dish towels as intended or frame the lovely toile for fabric art.
Sold out :(
 Ginger jars are the It girls of decor right now.
Adele caption
There is something about this sofa that fits it pleasantly between fancy-pants and kick-your-shoes-off. The combo of white upholstery and driftwood-colored frame makes it feel relaxed.

Vintage Poster
For a bit of bright color and whimsy you have to pick up this (or one of the many other) vintage posters.

"The French have long been aware of how tossing just the right fabric over a table can set a mood and transform a room from unremarkable to unforgettable." Vive la France!!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lavender in Pots, Not Provence

Usually when I think of growing lavender, I picture it growing wild and free, or in contained beds along a garden path. 

via All Things Lavender

But the Barefoot Contessa grows it in huge pots that sit in the sun and greet people as they arrive at her garden gate.

via Barefoot Contessa a.k.a. Ina Garten

She writes, "The good news is, lavender’s natural habitat is the hot, sandy soil of Provence- so if I forget to water my plants, they’re even happier! If you don’t have room for a garden, maybe you can find a little space for a pot of lavender near your front door. Every time you brush by it, you’ll have the fabulous scent of Provence in the air."

A great project for a sunny summer afternoon!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Love Plus Easiest DIY Ever

It's Fridayyyyyyy!!!! And it's summer... What could be better, right? :) 

Here are a few of my favorite links from this week. 
And, I'll leave you with a DIY that can be done in under a minute. 

See those striped clothespins on the top right? This month's House Beautiful calls them "The Best" and they can be purchased for $1 each.

Or, you can use a sharpie and make your own...

Easy, no? Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Peacock Chairs... And Some Help!

Readers: today I need your advice!

I'm working on a re-do of my daughter's bedroom. And I've fixated upon the idea of a peacock chair for the "reading corner". There are two available at a local store pawn shop. They've been there since late spring and I finally stopped yesterday to ask about price. The bigger one, which is white, is $60 and the smaller natural one is $40. 

Peacock chairs were HUGE in the 80s when I was a little girl. I'm pretty sure -- chair obsessed as I am -- that I wanted one. My idea is that it would fill the corner of her room and we could also add a small round table in front of it, at some point, as a desk/writing table. 

What do you think? Yay or nay on the peacock chair? Bigger or smaller? Paint it or leave it alone? Please weigh in! Oh, and I clearly have not watched enough episodes of Pawn Stars. Can I negotiate the price with them? How much would you pay? They appear to be in decent condition. Thanks!!! You are the BEST!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Time: When the Living Moves Outdoors

For as long as I can remember it seems like once the Fourth of July is over, that's it. Summer is kaput. And it is so not true! There's a lot of outdoor living to still be enjoyed!! So today I'm inviting you all over to my imaginary backyard for some fun.

You know what they say. "Back door friends are best" -- so come on in through here. Aren't my hydrangeas doing well this year? It must be all this #@*% rain. Close your eyes as we step inside! It's been ages since I cleaned; I've been out surfing every minute!

Did you bring your swimsuit? The water's perfect. And though you can't see it behind these hedges, we rolled the TV out of the pool house and the baseball game is on.

Oh, you'd rather not get in the pool and ruin your hair & makeup? I totally get that. We can hang out over here instead and put our feet up while the kids splash.

The dogs are running loose! It's a parade of different-sized pups as they race around the yard.

We can sit down over here to chat awhile. 

Unless you would rather play Scrabble?? Maybe next year I'll have to DIY an outdoor Candy Crush board...

Time for dinner! Follow me through the side porch to the dining patio.

Yum yum! That barbecue and strawberry shortcake were delicious! Let's have another round of mojitos and sing Billy Joel songs until the crickets drown us out. 

Great party... Let's do it again tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sharing a Room: Twin Beds

Today let's chat about getting it on in the bedroom with a couple of twins. 

This room is one of my favorites. The beds are part of a long room with lots of French doors. I love that the decorator has covered the walls in maps (I have a slight map obsession) and the striped duvet and sham give it a nautical theme. All of which scream VACATION. Which my mind is still a bit on...
This room is great because of the framed art above each bed. I like that there are two lamps on the chest between the beds, and the Union Jack reminds me of my summer in London many moons ago.

These bamboo four posters are just so gorgeous! Nothing says Palm Beach like bamboo. And nothing says r&r like Palm Beach. The orange floral pillows and the stripes in the adjoining room really clinch it for me. Quite possibly my favorite room EVER.
This darling room is so sweet. The red buffalo plaid pillows you can just barely see; the toy stable; the ducky nightlight; the pennant on the wall which repeats on the duvet--all remind me of being down on the farm. And being in the country reminds me of being on vacation...
All you empty nesters, listen up! This is what you need to be doing with the rooms your kids have outgrown. It is so perfect. The twin beds make it feel still somewhat juvenile, what you want when your grown child comes home. Yet the rug and art take it to another, very sophisticated level.

The fresh blue and whites in this room are so refreshing. I love the glass lamp and how perfectly this arrangement would work in a small space. I love that the shelves are FULL of books. Is there anything better on vacation than reading a book until it's done? 

Some places you need to pack in as many kids in as you can. Twin bunks are a perfect choice. With that many kids you can imagine the giggling and squealing, which is why the soothing color palette is so important. The empty space in between the bunks for playing board games and eating cookies create the ideal scenario for a rainy summer day.

And if you have the space, why not triplets???

I hope your return from the long weekend doesn't have you wishing for a return to vacation quite as much as I am this morning. 

All images via Pinterest.

Friday, July 5, 2013

An Arts & Crafts Inspired Home Design

Recently I got a chance to tour the new home of a friend/client who wanted some suggestions for how to make her 1940s charmer more light & bright as well as incorporate her style with the furnishings that she already has. 

She was extremely well-prepared with a divided binder and lots of ideas of her own. The house itself is so lovely. A brick cape cod on a tree-lined street in a great, older neighborhood, the house has a beautiful fireplace in the living room, French doors in the dining room, and hardwood floors throughout. 

We talked about what style she is drawn to (Arts & Crafts with a touch of shabby chic), the colors & patterns she likes best, how she wants to use her main living areas, and what pieces she already owns. It was dream-come-true fun for me. And I hope that at least a few of the ideas I have will be useful to her.  :)

First up, her sofa. I would nestle it beneath a large set of windows similar to what's depicted in this photo. Currently she has a futon with clean, wood lines like this chair, and very much in the Arts & Crafts style. 

On the window behind the sofa I would add two of these panels, which clearly are for the bathroom. However, they are wider than a standard drape by 18 inches, which makes them ideal for a large window in a shady room. The rod can be hung so that the drapes--when opened--are pulled far enough to the side that the entire window is exposed. And the ruffles bring in a bit of the shabby chic style that she likes as well as being soft and airy.

The sofa cushion is covered in a kilim-like pattern with reddish tones. I would add some pillows of various sizes to make it feel extra cozy including some with large floral patterns like on these fabrics from Joel Dewberry's heirloom collection. I chose orange to coordinate with a pair of slipper chairs she has that would look fantastic on either side of the fireplace.

Across from the futon/sofa, I would place her settee, which is brown. To lighten up the look of the space, I would add a throw like this one from West Elm

Since she is not a huge TV watcher--keeping one around primarily for watching an occasional movie--I recommend visually minimizing the impact of the TV in the room by placing it on a smaller cabinet. More like a nightstand. More like this one from Joss & Main. The drawers are a nice feature because they can contain remote controls, DVDs, magazines, and other "stuff."

To cover the hardwood floors, provide a soft place to sit, and brighten the space, I would use a shag rug like this one from the Home Depot, a surprisingly good source for affordable area rugs in my opinion.

For additional seating and in lieu of a proper coffee table, I would buy a few of these white leather poufs. They add a sophisticated, worldy vibe to a space. They're sold lots of places but this seller on eBay has the lowest price I have found.

To light the room, I would LOVE to use this gorgeous sconce. Maybe even two of them, although they are on the pricier side. But a sconce is something you aren't going to change on a whim, and this is a classic look that will endure...

And look how this sconce coordinates with the gingko leaf pattern of this wallpaper. {Incidentally this has been my most popular pin ever--do you follow me on Pinterest? You should!}

The gingko leaf is considered a symbol of longevity, hope, resilience and peace. Is there any wish more lovely for a new home than this???
This cute hook is from Anthropologie, and part of their huge summer sale. It would make a great catchall for a purse or jacket in an entry or near a door.

Finally, I would round out the rest of the house with these Ballard shelves in the kitchen to hold a microwave between the range and refrigerator.

And a nautical striped rug from Dash & Albert in the bathroom, like the one offered in this partnership between Country Living magazine and Wayfair.

So ... a design that includes shower curtains for drapes and a shag rug... What do you think??


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