Category Archives: House & Home

lately_trim

lately_fabric

lately_purple

lately_iris

lately_doors

One of my personal goals this year is to be more disciplined about taking photos each week. We are deep in winter, and the evenings creep up so early. Now that I live up here in the Pacific Northwest, I am even more in awe of Stephanie Congdon Barnes, co-author of  3191 ~ A Year of Evenings. She managed to photograph half of a book in the dark!

However, truthfully, I think I use the fading daylight as a bit of an excuse. Sometimes I look around and feel like there is nothing worth photographing. Does this happen to you too?

We are gradually carving out our life here in this new house. It feels a bit like an excavation. I see progress each week, but it doesn’t always feel very photogenic. The last 3 weekends we have been replacing the fireproof door from the garage to the laundry room. I don’t even know how to explain why this has taken 3 weekends. It just has. We had to do a lot of extra steps that were not on the instruction sheet. On the upside, we have lots of new tools. Angle grinders. Saws. Brad nailers.

Meanwhile, our upstairs doorways all look like that last photo above — partially painted. Just enough white paint on the base to get the carpet installed. That top photo is my husband’s future office. Right now, it’s just bare sub-floor and piles of trim waiting to be primed and painted.

And in the middle? Well, it turns out there is plenty of pretty stuff mixed in here after all. A bouquet of iris in the kitchen. Bolts of fabrics waiting to be put away. What I thought at first was a “mess” on my desk — until I looked again and saw a pretty arrangement of purples. A little splash of color on a shadowy gray day.

What about you? Are there any bright spots in your home you’d care to share?

I am working on a whole house tour — the “before” of what I hope will become a nice “after.” It takes a little courage and self-belief, doesn’t it? You’ve got to believe you’re going to end up some place great!

Backyard Makeover Needed

pink-trees-2

Last week, I managed to snap a few photos of the gorgeous pink trees peeking over our backyard fence. I am glad I did. Their fresh Spring pink has already dulled to a dark, mauve. The tree at the right-hand of that photo burst into fluffy, white blooms a few days ago — and the parade moves on.

I gushed about Spring last year when everything felt new to us up here in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I thought that maybe this time I’d be less impressed.

However, now we are in a house as opposed to a high-rise apartment. We’re closer to the trees and bushes and flowers then we ever got from our balcony, and it feels more intimate and personal. Even though these are my neighbor’s trees — they feel like mine somehow, too. The view from my second story window looks right onto their huge, pink boughs.

For a few really glorious days, we had a lot of sunshine and wind, and outside, the pink petals drifted by the window like snowflakes.

pink-trees

And that’s about where the fantasy ends. I know. I hate to burst the bubble.

Apparently, we are supposed to mow the lawn and pull weeds and, eh-hem, repair that fence. We try not to make eye contact with the neighbors. Did you notice the boards all askew in that top photo? The other side of the yard is worse — the whole fence up and keeled over.

I try to have a sense of humor about the never-ending list of things to maintain. I am so grateful to have discovered the writings of Gladys Taber last year. I hear her wise words and laughter in my head when I think about the chores and rhythms of the seasons. I look out back, and think — oh, this summer, we’ll build a new fence and landscape those beds and re-paint our deck and, and, and… The reality will be much less productive than that. There will be hot days sitting outside with Popsicles – too warm to think straight let alone do any physical labor.

I was asked to write about waking up your outdoor space with 5 personalized art projects (at P&G Everyday) and that was so much more my style. Let’s just decorate instead. I’ll paint a nice faux rug on that deck, and everyone will forget about the fence.

Right on cue, it has started to rain. I guess we’ll table this discussion for later. We don’t really have to get started yet, do we? What about you — any outdoor projects you’re planning to tackle this year? (Balconies and apartment steps count in my book!)

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April Showers

April-showers-spring-blooms-3

Last week, I traveled home to Southern California for my best friend’s bridal shower. Apparently while I was soaking up the sunshine in L.A., people were enjoying an absolutely gorgeous Easter weekend here in Seattle. I returned home, and everything is in bloom.

It’s raining again now, but once it clears, I am going to head out back and try to snap some photos of the neighbor’s huge pink trees. The view outside my window looks like some sort of fairy-tale wonderland. (In the meantime, these are photos I took at the Rhododendron Garden where spring is alive and well.)

April-showers-spring-blooms

I am not a huge fan of traveling. I’m not afraid to fly — just worn out by the whole thing. I try to treat myself to some good reading material and a new magazine. I spend the flight making lists of things I want to do when I get home.

For some reason, being held captive on an airplane, I suddenly want to clean or reorganize or bake. I brainstorm new recipes to try and crafts to make. I even yearn to vacuum, fold sheets, and dust. (And let me just assure you, this almost never happens.)

April-showers-spring-blooms-2

I think being away from home can give you a sort of clarity about all of its good points. I realize I have gotten a little bit lazy about some of my chores. Moving into a larger place, it’s easier to stash stuff and not think about it or spread projects out across multiple rooms. However, I really want to be a good steward of my home, and I need to re-think my cleaning strategy.

I am trying to use some of that domestic energy and goodwill towards my house to get geared up for Spring Cleaning. It turns out my husband got a head start.  (I guess he must have missed me while I was gone, because the carpets were vacuumed and the windows were washed!) It almost makes me think I should go away more often…

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Powder Room Make Over

Back in November, I mentioned that we were working on a home renovation project before my parents arrived for Thanksgiving. A few people have asked how that project turned out, so I feel it is probably time to confess. We are not finished!

Are you ready for a little progress report?

Powder-room-mood-board

The Project

Downstairs, we have a small powder room which we completely gutted almost as soon as we moved in.  I have some bad cell phone “before” pictures I will share when it’s time to do the full reveal, but to sum up, we started out with terracotta orange + lots of 80′s details.  The goal:

  • new floors - done!
  • new toilet - done!
  • paint and/or wallpaper - in progress
  • new vanity + faucets - decisions made, waiting to be installed
  • new light fixture – purchased, waiting to be installed
  • new mirror – TBD
  • new accessories (towel rack, toilet paper holder, etc.) - TBD

Before Thanksgiving, we managed to get the hardwood floors laid and the new toilet installed, and then our progress halted. The room has been mostly functional, but not terribly glamorous. We have to send our guests to the nearby kitchen or laundry room to wash their hands.

All told, this tiny room will take  us about 4 months to complete. I am oddly fine with that. We had some projects we had to tend to in between, plus the holidays and travel. Right now, we are only able to work on the house on weekends, and I think it is really important to enjoy a little down-time, too.

The Vision

So where are we headed?

I created a little mood board to show some of the design choices we have made. This room is really small and visible off of the main hallway in our house, so we wanted something bold on the walls. Our first preference might have been wallpaper, but our walls are very textured, and we knew that wallpaper would be a challenge. It might even require skim-coating the walls first, and if we’re going to go to all that trouble + expense, we want the wallpaper to be really important.

Instead, we are going with an accent wall of painted chevrons. We chalked + taped the pattern out yesterday, and so far, we’re pretty excited about it. We are trying out a new painting technique. We’ll let you know how it goes.

The mood board above is really just the silvery-gray backdrop of the room. Eventually, we will bring in some kind of accent color through artwork and accessories. We are leaning towards blues and greens, but we’ll see.

It’s fun to see it all coming together (even if it’s only virtually). All that shopping for accessories and fixtures can take a long time, but I think being happy with the end result is really what it’s all about.

What about you? Any re-decorating projects in the works?

Filed under House & Home, Inspiration. Tagged with , , , , , .

January Housekeeping

Home Made Simple has a few more articles of mine up — and these are all about making those January feel-good-clean-up-the-house changes.

HMS_4up

Hop on over to read my take on:

  1. How to fold towels. (I ended up doing this in my linen closet and it made SUCH a difference.  The linen closet has a long way to go but refolding everything took about 30 minutes and gave me hope!)
  2. Cleaning pillows.  (Since I am the princess-and-the-pea, none of my pillows last long enough to get all that dirty — but it really made me stop to think!)
  3. Re-using foil. (Now you’re just curious, right? I am not going to lie. My family made fun of me when I asked them to help me brainstorm ideas. I do use #2 all the time.)
  4. Creating unique family wall art. (Tip #4 is how we created our own gallery wall here.)

What are you doing around the house this month to give yourself a clean slate?

Filed under House & Home, In the Kitchen, Organization. Tagged with , , , , , .

Pretty Progress

lately_trim

lately_fabric

lately_purple

lately_iris

lately_doors

One of my personal goals this year is to be more disciplined about taking photos each week. We are deep in winter, and the evenings creep up so early. Now that I live up here in the Pacific Northwest, I am even more in awe of Stephanie Congdon Barnes, co-author of  3191 ~ A Year of Evenings. She managed to photograph half of a book in the dark!

However, truthfully, I think I use the fading daylight as a bit of an excuse. Sometimes I look around and feel like there is nothing worth photographing. Does this happen to you too?

We are gradually carving out our life here in this new house. It feels a bit like an excavation. I see progress each week, but it doesn’t always feel very photogenic. The last 3 weekends we have been replacing the fireproof door from the garage to the laundry room. I don’t even know how to explain why this has taken 3 weekends. It just has. We had to do a lot of extra steps that were not on the instruction sheet. On the upside, we have lots of new tools. Angle grinders. Saws. Brad nailers.

Meanwhile, our upstairs doorways all look like that last photo above — partially painted. Just enough white paint on the base to get the carpet installed. That top photo is my husband’s future office. Right now, it’s just bare sub-floor and piles of trim waiting to be primed and painted.

And in the middle? Well, it turns out there is plenty of pretty stuff mixed in here after all. A bouquet of iris in the kitchen. Bolts of fabrics waiting to be put away. What I thought at first was a “mess” on my desk — until I looked again and saw a pretty arrangement of purples. A little splash of color on a shadowy gray day.

What about you? Are there any bright spots in your home you’d care to share?

I am working on a whole house tour — the “before” of what I hope will become a nice “after.” It takes a little courage and self-belief, doesn’t it? You’ve got to believe you’re going to end up some place great!

Filed under House & Home. Tagged with , , , .