29 September 2014

And Now We All Love Brass Again

I remember a time when the sight of gold, brass, or bronze made me recoil in disgust. Can you tell that I'm very dramatic? That was when brushed nickel and the other cool metals were the popular kids in decor, thanks to a serious backlash from the cheap plastic/brass fixtures that filled every home built in the 1990's. 

Today's brass has an aged, authentic feel, rather than the bright, plasticky fixtures everyone is now spray-painting ORB.

This whole trendy design game is so cyclical. Who would have thought the warm metals would be so popular again? Perhaps anyone who was paying attention for more than a decade. 

The Huntington Bank Building,  below, is obviously not a trendy new downtown addition. It has been there for nearly a century. I wonder how many decor cycles of gold vs. silver this building has lived through.

I snapped this picture when we stayed in Cleveland two weeks ago for a concert.  

There are no fewer than three of these gorgeous architectural features, standing in a beautiful row: the revolving doors, a standard set of swinging doors, and a grand display window. Why did I only captured one you ask? My impatient hubby was walking at the brisk pace of a six-foot-two-inch tall man, and dragging me behind him.

Otherwise I would have stood beside the brass doors and pet them for a while, all the while purring. 

Maybe hubby knows best. How long is one person expected to stand and watch someone pet a grand historic facade? 

I'm trying so hard to be less dramatic and opinionated about these things as I watch the trends come and go. And I'm learning to stick with my own tried & true style rather than falling for every trend I see. (the chevron curtains stayed behind in Fargo)

But the return of gold/brass/bronze is pulling me in. After passing the gold lamp (below) in Target week after week, I finally gave in. I've wanted this style for the office for a while. So classic and timeless. It was a great price. I caved. Hubby approves. Schoolhouse Electric has a similar version, also gorgeous. Hubby probably wouldn't approve of the price.

I love my thrift store lamps:

I love small details like the antique brass hardware on the jelly cupboard I grew up with. (Side note: I'm thinking of removing the paint from this guy and maybe refinishing in a natural stain. This piece is so old. It was assembled with square forged iron nails, so mid/early 1800's?)

I love this tiny brass container that eventually landed on Maria's mantle:

I love this brass light fixture from Schoolhouse Electric:

This picture made me stop breathing for several seconds:


I wonder what the hot finish will be in five years. Anyone putting money on chrome? 

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25 September 2014

Living Room Curtains

I love this wall of windows, and I love the view outside. 

I considered leaving the window as is, but I'm a curtain person. And in the afternoon, with the sun setting on the western side of our house, we need something to shield the room from that sun.   

My goal isn't to cover up the windows, but I want to have the perfect material on either side, and be able to pull it across when the sun is the most intense.

I knew I wanted something blue-ish, without being "country" or too loud/graphic. Of course, the full-length options at my go-to stores were too short. I need at least 122" for the rod to be hung nice and high. 

So in order to keep it affordable, this is a DIY curtain-making project, and thankfully I can sew a straight line. 

I fell in love with this brass curtain rod from Crate & Barrel. 

And the material I chose came from the same line of Nate Berkus Home Decorator fabrics as the pattern I used in the laundry room

Ok, yes, I'm on a self-imposed ban from purchasing anymore Nate Berkus fabrics. But this pattern and color is exactly what I was looking for the in the living room. Not too loud, not one bit country, and the perfect shade of inky blue with a modern print. 

And there it sits, just waiting for the rod to arrive…any day now. 

Once the curtains are hung and I update the pillows, I'll be pretty happy with this room! 

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23 September 2014

In Honor Of The First Day Of Autumn

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and it has been my favorite since the day I learned to appreciate the difference between a sweltering summer afternoon and a crisp fall day. 

I know I'm not alone. No one ever complains that, "fall is dragging on this year" or "would winter just get here already?" (skiers excluded)

Maybe we love this time of year because we are only allowed to enjoy a short burst of the beautiful colors and everything lovely fall has to offer: the fragrances, seasonal recipes, sweaters & boots, football games, and the glorious gourds! Every year we have just a few precious weeks to take it all in before it's gone. 

This year I'm playing up the brass accents…

Keeping the decor simple and organic…

Mixing in a touch of typography…

Adding shades of rich blue…

...and finally pulling out these dishes, given to me from my Mom. We only used these on special occasions, but I'm thinking of a way to display them in this house. I have the whole glorious set. I think they're beautiful, even when set to the side in a random tool box. 

I hoped to use the dishes in this shoot yesterday, but couldn't find a way to work them in. I set a short stack in the tool box to carry everything back up to the house, and loved they way it looked. 

They made it in after all.

Happy First Day Of Autumn!

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22 September 2014

Ella's Bedroom…Coming Right Along!

I'm not ready to call this bedroom done yet, but the most important pieces are in place. We have bedding, curtains, furniture arrangement, desk & shelves, and wall color.

When I began to assemble the art & accessories, I noticed an accidental woodland theme. *I'm not a big fan of themed bedrooms, but with this collection of owls, foxes, squirrels, flowers, twigs, it happened organically. (pun intended)

*I'll go with a woodland theme any day over princesses or SpongeBob. 

Wall color was a never-ending headache for this room. Ella and I discussed wall color every day after school for what felt like months. When she hopped off the school bus I would have three or four additional samples on the wall. 

We considered every shade of coral, soft pink, and watermelon, then moved on to turquoise, and couldn't agree on any of these. 

The watermelon was my favorite, but I couldn't talk her into it. Honestly, I've learned not to talk Ella into anything. If she doesn't like it, she will be miserable. She has some strong opinions about her room. I can't argue with that. 

We were both somewhat sold on a soft turquoise color, but took a major detour at Sherwin Williams,  and decided to try Hearts Of Palm. I love this color.  A client in Fargo chose this for her living room and it is beautiful. It is a warm green rather than a cool, minty green. 

This is where we are now:

The sunlight pours into her room all day. The color looks so pretty and bright, and so perfect with her collection of woodland creatures. :)

I really want to wrap it up this week. She needs a headboard, art on the walls, a few accessories, and a massive organizing effort in her closet before we're done. 

But I love where we are. It is such an enchanting space.

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15 September 2014

A New Bedroom For Ella

This is Ella. 

She is my wild card. Not to be mistaken for a wild child, she is actually very sweet and kind. I call her my wild card because you just never know what to expect with her. She is creative in a fascinating way. The girl searched "how to make fake poop" on YouTube, then proceeded to make it. It was a success. Peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate syrup, etc. I still find her in the kitchen whipping up a batch every now & then.

Through the years she has been a constant source of entertainment and wonder. She is the child that makes us scratch our head because of the things her mind creates and her mouth articulates.

She has been an animal lover since she was able to express it. Her first bee sting occurred when she tried to pet a bumble bee. She was bitten by a mouse when she tried to pet that, too. Fortunately, those experiences taught her boundaries with wildlife.

This is her with a dead pheasant. 

We had a talk about disease after that, all the while, washing our hands.

In September we celebrate her birthday, and this girl is due for a bedroom makeover. Natalie and Owen each had their rooms lovingly customized in Fargo. I held off with Ella because she is one of those creative (i.e. very messy) types that has trouble keeping her room in order.

 Really, who has time to tidy her bedroom when there are so many books to read, rodents to pet, and fake poop to make?

Her furniture is a mismatched set, but she wants to keep those pieces rather than buying new. That means two, possibly three paint projects for me, and I can get behind that. 

She requested orange walls. I can not get behind that. I talked her down from orange, and toward a soft coral that we both like. I MIGHT do something bold on the ceiling, but that will be determined after the wall color is up. (The off-white trim continues to be a thorn in my side)

She wants a new light fixture, and has requested a house plant. Never happy unless she has something to care for, even if it's only a container of Mexican jumping beans. Remember those, btw?

I'm working on the design plans for her room, and *cross fingers* the walls get a new coat of paint this week.

More to come...

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11 September 2014

Industrial Bar Stools

Introducing the newest members of our kitchen family, the Twist Swivel Stools from World Market:

These stools are so heavy and solid. They spin, but not easily, so the kids aren't driving me crazy with spinning games. You really have to crank it to adjust the height. I love them, and I'm not being paid to say that.

But let's back up…their predecessor had a long run with us. We bought them in 2008. Miraculously they fit all of our homes in Utah, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

If something is working, it fits, and isn't broken, I don't see a need to replace it.

But they literally didn't fit this house. Not just style-wise, but in scale. They look like monsters in the photo above.

They were obviously too tall, and my kids had to sit in an uncomfortable posture reminiscent of a frog. 

I watched them sitting like this for a couple of weeks then accepted that we needed new barstools for the frog kids.

As usual, when you fix one problem, another one pops up. The new stools do not match the current lighting situation.

I'm all for mixing styles, but this is a full-on clash. Eventually the chandeliers will be switched out for something more relaxed, but it's not at the top of the list. 

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08 September 2014

Laundry Room

I'm putting a check in the box next to "Laundry Room Project, Phase 1." 

This is where we started, minus the washer, dryer & rug. Those are ours.

It is a perfectly good laundry room, just needs some love and magic. We've had great luck with converting the area under the laundry room sink into the Kitty Loo, with privacy curtain and everything, so we did the same in this house. 

I removed the cabinet door, just on the right side, where her litter box is. The hardware is saved in a baggie taped to the cabinet door, which is in the basement storage in case we want to re-attach it in the future.

I really hope Nate Berkus doesn't take offense to the use of his new fabric line for my cat's privacy curtain, because I do love this print. So much. That's why I chose it. Minne says she loves it too. #sweetkitty

This was a quick no-sew project, just 1.5 yards of fabric, trimmed to length. I used heavy duty hemming tape and an iron to form the rod pocket. The curtain hangs from a tension rod, held in place between the wall and the washer. It's really in there tight, so it's not going anywhere.

Our mismatched socks live in the basket on top of the washer.

On the opposite wall I installed wall storage for brooms, mops, etc. This is the Fintorp system from Ikea, super easy to install and only $9.99 each, the hooks were extra ($2.99 for a 5-pack), but still very affordable. I'm using two sets, side-by-side. 

I love this happy flower watercolor for a laundry room. 

I found it on Market Street in Corning, NY many years ago and always find a home for it somewhere. 

Fresh flowers, a mirror, and a succulent. Even I can't kill a succulent. 

I am ambivalent about laundry. I don't love or hate it. But these small touches make me smile when I go in there, so it's worth the effort, right? I've been known to put a cute lamp in there too. You know, for those laundry all-nighters that pop up with three kids. A lamp is so cozy! I'll add that to Phase 2. #notetoself

The rug was a HomeGoods find, and I love the way the grays in the rug blend with the grays in the washer & dryer. 

Finally, we added blinds. The window just needed something, and I like the dark bamboo blinds with the cabinets. 

Hubby helped me install these yesterday. They were 1/2 inch too long on each side, but a steal for $10.00 at Lowes. He shaved the extra length off with his table saw and they work! 

So what's left? 

Phase 2 consists of a wood shelf/folding counter to go over the washer & dryer, and down the sides, waterfall style. 

I like the look below, but I want the counter to extend down to the floor, perpendicular to the floor like a waterfall countertop. 

image via

This will conceal the washer hook-ups, and provide a folding area. 

I have given Jason adequate notice of this project, and anticipate a two-month waiting period. It's football season. He needs plenty of advance notice. 

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02 September 2014

My Gallery Wall Step-By-Step (and a video at the end!)

This wall is one of the first projects I started, and I'm 95% done. 

A couple of tweaks, and we'll be there. But I want to share the whole process with you, and this really is an ongoing process. So when the tweaks happen I'll share those too. 

I knew I wanted to use the antique maps again. These maps are part of our story, and I think it's fun to see all the places we've lived. I found all of these maps at an antiques store in New York. I bought six the summer I discovered the store, then we moved two more times. This summer I went back and found North Dakota and Ohio. Now we're all caught up - no more moving!

There is one photo in there that doesn't qualify as a map. That's a picture of me with my Dad when I was six-ish. It's a lovely picture, and I received it as a gift from my older brother many years ago. So I'm taking creative license to hang it among the maps because I like it there. 

I wanted this to be a zero cost project, so I used frames that I already had for the additional maps. The two brown frames are new to the map wall, and I really like the mix of black and brown. 

This is where I started. Once the cabinet and lamp were in place, I had a better idea of the space to fill. 

After a bit of trial & error, I found an arrangement I like. 

This is my big confession: I eyeball the whole thing. 

I know a lot of people swear by the craft paper method, and I have tried that, but it has never worked for me. I always go back to trial & error. I'm not afraid to put nail holes in the wall. I use tiny nails, which patch and cover easily with paint. This wall already had holes from the former owners, and I plan to paint it eventually. So what's a few more holes to patch?

I got to this point when I realized I needed something round:

I added the clock on the upper left, then California at the top right.

The final touches: a plant and some accessories to visually connect the cabinet with the wall. 

So what's left?
1) The lamp will go from brushed nickel to bronze
2) I'm in search of a slightly larger clock. I like the simplicity of the current clock, but it's a pinch too small. I want to find one that balances California there on the upper right.
4) The black plant container will also get a small makeover to help it stand out from the cabinet.
5) The accessories will always be changing
6) Eventually I'll paint the entire wall

Just for fun…

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