All tied up…

So in honor of Nick’s birthday (which was this weekend), I thought I would post a project that I can absolutely take no credit for. He came up with the idea and constructed it all on his own. The only thing I can take credit for is painting the final coat of white paint, and taking the photos 🙂

Nick has a love for ties that at one point seemed to almost borderline on obsessive. He was a tie-buying-fool for a while there. It was his way of making a “fashion statement.” The brighter, the bolder, the more trendy the better. Then sadly, his work decided to no longer make wearing ties mandatory. He was probably the only one that disappointed by this news.
Anyway, all that to say, he has quite the collection. He wanted something sturdy and permanant to store his ties, in an easy-to-view arrangement. And here’s what he came up with:

He cut a long piece of round wood into little pegs. Then he drilled a screw through the back of the wood plank into each peg to attach them (standing upright) to the plank. Then we just painted the whole thing white and attached it to the side of a shelf in our closet.

He took great care to organize all of his ties by color. Told you he had a lot of ties.
These just made for the prettiest pictures. So just indulge me for a minute while I show you my favorites.
So there you have it. This was a quick project that adds functionality to the closet. Its so easy now to see all of his tie options and just grab-and-go. Now if only Nick had more places to wear the ties…

The life of a mantle

For not even being six months old yet, our mantle sure has been through a lot.

From this (see that little red arrow pointing to it?):

To this:
To this:

To this:

And then I just couldn’t get down with that decorative moulding, so off the moulding came:

To this (finally decorated!):

And now, this:

Even though I much preferred the mantle’s clean lines to the little squares all over it, I have always thought it looked a bit unfinished. And with our mantletop newly decorated, it seemed like the right time to add a few finishing touches to our mantle.

I looked to these three photos for inspiration:

Our goal was to make this project as simple on ourselves as possible by working with the existing mantle and just adding a few finishing touches.

We added some caps (aka plinths, according to the labeled picture above) to the leg bases. Then we nailed a peice of chair rail moulding to the bottom part of the mantlehead (I just made that term up…I have no idea what to call it!).

You can’t really tell in the picture, but I wanted the mantlehead to look a bit more substantial, so it didn’t just look like we nailed some moulding and called it a day. So Nick added a thin sheet of wood from the chair rail moulding to the crown moulding, just to make the mantlehead look a bit thicker than the legs so it would stand out more.

I am super pleased with the results. It gives a much more finished look, and only cost about $10.

Mantle = DONE!

So, you may remember me mentioning in the living room post that I was ordering something from the Ballard catalog for my mantle. It arrived Friday, and I just may have squealed and done a little happy-dance when it got here.
I am in love with my Ballard Designs and Pottery Barn catalogs. I pour through them every time I get them in the mail, circling everything I wish I could get. I have learned to see them more as inspiration rather than actually catalogs to buy from, since they are overpriced. I have actually been able to find or create near-replicas of many of their products (more on that at another time…)
All that to say, it recently occurred to me that as much as I love both stores, I have never actually BOUGHT anything from either. That has now changed! I bit the bullet and bought these mirrors from Ballard.
They are inspired by the New Orleans Garden District. I like that they have that whole white-washed-yet-sophisticated vibe going on. They come in a sets of two, so I didn’t feel like the price was all that outrageous. And I thought their height would be great for my mantle.

So, I eagerly tore into the boxes and got the mirrors put up in like, 5 minutes flat. Once they were on the mantle though, it just seemed a little empty (I only got two). So this weekend has been full of searching for the perfect accessories to go on each side.

And here’s the finished product:

This was another test of me fighting my “matchy-matchy” tendencies. Mantles are hard because you feel the need to be symmetrical, but you don’t want it to be exactly the same on both sides.

I am sure the employees of Marshall’s and Hobby Lobby began to recognize me, since I went to both stores three times each this weekend, searching for the right combination of green/blue glass jars. I originally had six jars (three on each side). Yes…it was quite matchy-matchy. I kept staring at it, and it was lacking something. Since the mirrors are so tall, I just felt there needed to be a bit more variance in height.

I swear, all my best ideas seem to come to me around midnight. Last night, it just dawned on me…maybe some layered picture frames behind the jars would add that height it needed. And since I wanted to keep the light and airy feeling, I decided to just use the frames…no pictures inside.

Luckily, frames were half-off at Michael’s today! Wahoo! I knew I wanted something dark or brassy (to tie in with the dark elements in the mirrors). The frames I settled on were labeled as “barnyard wood.” I liked that they added a bit of the rustic elements that I am trying to bring in to the living room. Lately, I’ve been really drawn to that faded grey wood color.

I edited down the bottles to three on one side and one on the other. I like how it gets rid of the “matchy-matchy, tacky-tacky” look, but still coordinates both sides. I added a cute little white-washed frame that I already had, and declared the mantle finished. (Well, after a ridiculously long amount of time spent slightly moving a jar, stepping back, looking, slightly moving a frame, stepping back, looking…)

I asked Nick what he thought, and he uttered the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard. “It gives off that shabby chic vibe.” Wahoo! Success! Just the look I was going for! 🙂

As I speak, Nick is actually working on adding some decorative moulding to the fireplace…not a lot, just a bit to make it look more finished. I will post pictures once its finished.

And an update on the light fixture front…these mirrors have pretty much solidified my pick for that entry way light. But I’m not telling yet…you’ll just have to wait and see 🙂

Breakfast Nook

So now, here is a look at one of our major works-in-progress: the breakfast nook.
I’ll make a little list of all the things that will change in here:
1. Windows will get some major casing and moulding.
2. Will buy some roman shades…unfortunately these are not standard-size windows, so I have been dragging my feet on getting those specially ordered.
3. All the chairs will get cushions (see the one example?). I am modifying some cushions we already had from IKEA by sewing ties to go around the backs of the chairs. Another project I am dragging my feet on. I’m almost there, though.
4. We are going to put up board and batten wainscoting up to chair-rail height. Can’t wait to do this! Its going to completely transform the space.
5. Want to replace the light fixture. Still going back and forth on what that light fixture will be. For some reason I am having trouble committing to one fixture.
One thing to mention about the breakfast nook: I really wanted some dark brown wicker chairs, like you see in the Pottery Barn catalog.

Of course, I tried to go the economical route, so I got these wicker chairs from IKEA and spray painted them brown. Now they give off the same vibe and were less than half the cost.

Update: We’ve checked most those things off our list now! See the final reveal here

Hey good lookin’, whatcha got cookin’?

I really need to catch up with my “home tour,” so I can start talking about current projects we are tackling. Really, this should be the last post of this type, because the kitchen is the only quasi-finished room left.

I am going to try really hard to keep this short and sweet.
So, walking from the living room, you see the kitchen:

Look at those pretty cabinets! Need a closer look?

Totally worth the extra money for the glass doors. Oh my gosh, I love them! They are so me. Probably my favorite thing about the entire house. The one thing I haven’t had buyer’s remorse about.
Here’s the other side of the kitchen:

So, the first thing I realized when I was unpacking–something I completely wasn’t expecting–was that this kitchen has practically no storage space. Its really not fair to have a rent house with as awesome of a kitchen as we had.
Here it was:

I knew it was good, I just didn’t realize HOW good. There was soo much storage space. We didn’t even fill most of those cabinets. And all of our pretty kitchen gadgets fit on our countertops.

That is definitely not the case in this kitchen. And it was just about to drive me batty. I don’t like feeling cluttered. I don’t like having to lift a million pans to get to the one I need. I miss my old kitchen 😦

So that has been a source of frustration. Because honestly, we don’t really have that much stuff. Just the basics that we got when we got married. And I started freaking out because if everything is barely fitting now, what happens when we have babies/kids? Where on earth am I going to put all of their plastic cups/bottles/etc…

That is one thing about the glass cabinets. I had to make them “pretty,” so that cuts down on functional space. But I don’t regret that for a minute. Still love my pretty cabinets.

We did deal with our storage problem…that post is soon to come! 🙂

As for counter space…I definitely pared down some of the items. We got rid of our massive toaster oven (and will hopefully buy a more compact toaster soon). I put the food processor in a cabinet with other items such as the waffle iron, etc… I moved my cookbooks to a cabinet as well (they were in that white box…see old picture above). In the end, I made it all fit and look pretty. Just took a little thinking, and a lot of griping as I did it (after all, isn’t your first home suppossed to have more space than your rental?) (P.S. this new house is bigger square footage-wise…our rental just had amazing storage and built-ins)

So that is it for the kitchen. Up next: the breakfast nook.

On bookshelf accessorizing:

Our bookshelf is something I am challenging my default “decorating sensibilities” with. The first step I took (a couple of years ago) was changing around the orientation of the books. So, rather than lining them all in a straight line, I tried to vary between horizontal and vertical stacks (as you can see in the picture above).

Now, I am trying to edit out more books, and bring in more accessories. So I am slowly collecting objects for my bookshelf. So far I’ve found this cute little bird:

And this pretty ceramic pot (added after the overall picture at the top was taken):
My big dream is that one day we will build a built in tv cabinet with shelves on either side in the nook next to the fireplace. Something like this:

And then I will take my cues from Young House Love and accessorize like this (bold paint in the back and all):

But that is for one day in the very far-off future, when my dear husband is much more confident in his carpentry skills. We’ll get there one day, and for now, I will dream 🙂

On nesting (tables, that is)…

I have been looking for some nesting tables for a few months now. I think they are cute and are really handy because you can pull out extra tables if needed.
My main goal with these tables was to add in some more dark wood and “modern” lines to help tie in with our tv stand, which you can see in this picture here:

It was between these two:

I was sooo close to getting the second option. I like the chunkiness of it. I was really afraid that the first ones would seem too flimsy, with their skinny legs. Nick pushed for the first option…probably because they were $100 cheaper. He said the others looked like something cheap you would get at IKEA (not that we have anything against IKEA, obviously). So in the end, I went with the cheaper ones, because they looked more expensive. Yeah.

I was pleased to see that when they are pushed together, they actually give off that”chunky” vibe I was going for. They coordinate really nicely with our TV cabinet. And I saved $100…so now I can feel free to spend that money on something else! (Just kidding…sort of…)

Also notice that the lamp in the above picture is white. When we bought the lamp, we ordered it out at a furniture store, and the light was on, so I thought it was a white lamp (the light made the cream look brighter). I was super disappointed when the lamp arrived and I realized it was more of a cream color.

Here is a not so great “before” picture.
I’ve never really liked this lamp due to this color confusion. But I knew I couldn’t replace it since we paid a lot of money for it. For that same reason, I didn’t feel right about spray painting it. But I finally decided that it was either spray paint it and it might get used, or put it in storage and get a new lamp…so I tried my hand at spray painting it. I also bought a smaller, white lampshade for it. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out!