Lighting changes everything

I am going out on a limb here and saying that this is probably my favorite change we’ve done to the house so far. That may not be fair to say, because the breakfast nook’s board and batten and window shades and accessories and new wall art all have done their part. But it wasn’t until we changed the lighting that it all really came together for me.

I got this light from Overstock.com. It looks identical to this Pottery Barn favorite. Seriously, identical. I have compared pictures over and over again, and everything matches up. Except the price. The Overstock light was over $100 cheaper! Score.
I am telling you, I squealed once we put this light up. It elevated the entire space and make everything look so very “Pottery Barn.” Which, you know, is my ultimate design goal in everything I do, right? 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are getting so close to being “done” with all the details in the main living space (the entry/living room/kitchen/breakfast nook). The only thing left is to replace the two pendant lights above the bar and the kitchen light (both can be seen in the picture directly above, on the left).

I ordered the pendant lights yesterday (and got a GREAT deal on those too, which I will tell you about once they come in). Then my dad has promised to help us install recessed lighting for my birthday (June 25). I want to install four recessed lights in the kitchen area to replace that one big light.

Of course, I’ll be sure to post all about that as it happens! But for now, I am just basking in the glory of my new light fixture, that I just love (By the way… I love the light fixture, if I hadn’t mentioned it yet).

Oh and just for fun, a little before-and-after action for ya:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve come a long way, baby 🙂

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An $11 solution…

So let me fill you in on how the decorating process works for me: a lot of the time, I see an inspiration picture in a catalog, and then I basically find a way to recreate it in my own home. Sometimes though, an idea just pops into my head and then I have to set out to find it (if it even exists!).
Thats what happened with this wall:
I knew I needed something dark to bring contrast to the white woodwork and light walls, to keep it all from reading to “pastel.” In my head, I envisioned a fairly large square-shaped dark wood carving of some sort. Easy enough, right? Well, how exactly do you google that? Not as easy as I thought. And I searched the wall art at every home decor store I could think of, with no luck for months. Seriously, where do I come up with these ideas?
Then one day I saw this at Kirklands:
Marked down from $29.99 (good price) to $10.99 (great price!).
What? Its not wood? Well, I figured a little spray paint could create a little “faux wood.” And if not, oh well! Its only $11.
So after a coat of the same brown spray paint I used on the kitchen chairs, I had this:
Looking a little one-note, eh? I thought so too. So I decided to bust out the ole acrylic paint in a slightly darker shade and fill in the flower design to give some depth to it. And I ended up with this:
Its not perfect, but I think it gives the illusion of carved wood. And its just the right size for the spot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there is my $11 solution for an empty wall. And all of this is leading up to a very exciting post about another new addition to our breakfast nook, coming up next!

One snail’s journey

Also could be titled “one sofa table’s journey.” (Melodramatic much?)

The first time I blogged about our entryway, this is what you saw:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you very observant types may have noticed a change to the bottom shelf of the table when I blogged about our new light fixture:

Here’s a closer look:

I just wasn’t feeling the brown storage boxes that I had there originally. They looked kind of dark and dingy compared to the rest of the elements here, which are very light and airy, and even somewhat elegant. Plus this move got me really into being super-organized in my closets/drawers/cabinets (which I am planning to post about sometime soon), so I decided to use the storage boxes elsewhere.
I really struggled with trying to figure out what to put in place of the boxes. To be honest, I am still not completely happy with it and will more than likely change it once I find something that better suits the space, but until then, here’s what I came up with.
The two silvery squares hold candles. I bought these months before we ever moved because they had that “light and airy” look that I knew I wanted for the new house. Honestly, not my smartest purchase ever, because I just haven’t felt like they really go with the rest of the living room (where I have used more old-world rubbed bronze elements than I had originally anticipated). To be honest, the only reason these are now in this spot is because I want to use them somewhere so I can feel like I am getting my money’s worth for them.
I bought this teal box from Marshall’s basically as a space filler. I bought it with the intention of spray painting it white, but once I put it there, I liked the way the color worked, so there it stayed.
When I go on vacations, I collect postcards. I try to get a postcard from every place we visit on a single trip (museums, cool restaurants, etc). Its a super-cheap souvenir, and helps me remember where I’ve been. So my little collection has been sitting in a paper bag in a drawer for years now. My collection is finally growing to a size where it needed a true, dedicated spot for it. This teal box is now that spot. I love the way it elevates the postcards to more of a showpiece, rather than just junk sitting in a drawer 🙂
But wait. Isn’t this post titled “One snail’s journey” ? We haven’t even talked about a snail yet. Oh yes, here he is…
This snail was my attempt to be like my home decor blogger idol Sherry (from Young House Love). She’s got quite the collection of white ceramic creatures of all types (dogs, rhinos, rams, horses, squirrels….you get the picture). It looks so very chic, in a kooky sort of way. So when I saw this snail at Hobby Lobby, I figured I could try my hand at my very own white kooky animal accessory. (He originally was a bronze color, and I spray painted him white.)
This is one of those lessons of to-thine-own-self-be-true. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Mr. Snail, it just didn’t feel like me. I’m not really a kooky type. I am more of a white ceramic flower type, rather than a white ceramic rhinoceros type. Especially for this space. I just felt like it was a “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong” type moments…
Luckily, I had the perfect spot for Mr. Snail. A place you have already seen him before.

I feel like he fits in much better in the porches’ more casual environment. He was a little stark white when compared to the creams of the pillows and accessories out there, so he got yet another coat of spray paint and now is a lovely “almond” color.
As for what replaced him on the entryway table. Well, its still a work in progress. I bought some shiny white decorative balls, which I like for the elegant beach vibe they give off without being too literal. I placed them in this glass bowl that I already had as a temporary solution (I don’t feel like it is the right proportion size-wise to the teal box). So I am on the lookout for something that really pulls the look together. I’ll let you know once I finally figure it out.

Outdoor living

This makeover has been a long time coming. 
All last spring/summer (in the rental house), I was dreaming of having “real” patio furniture. I even had some picked out and was thisclose to buying it. But we reasoned that since we knew we would be moving we should probably wait, that way we don’t have to transport it to the new house. 
Once we got to the new house, my dreams of a beautiful outdoor living space still remained. But there were so many other “higher priority” items to spend money on. So we waited. Finally, with the weather all nice and toasty out (just how I like it!), I could wait no longer. I declared May to be our “spruce up the patio” month. 
And spruce up I did. And hey, we are only mid-month! Can’t say I wait around 🙂
But lets back up here a bit. First some before pictures. This was our patio when we first moved in with the old furniture. It is practically identical to the way it was set up at the apartment and at the rental. Its functional. But not a place that inspires you to spend your time outdoors.
Oh, and please take note that our builder decided it would be a great idea to attach rain gutters to our columns. Um, no thank you. We took those off.
So the first part of our Project Spruce Up actually began in April, when we decided to stain the fence. This truly was more in effort to waterproof the fence and keep it from rotting over time than it was about aesthetics. But it did turn out quite lovely. 
Before:

During (this process was killer. Our fence is huge. It took us three weekends to finish and wayyyyy more stain than I ever would’ve guessed.)
After: 
Notice anything else different? We added a stone border around our tree bed. Love it. 
Before:


After:
Forgive the weeds. I plan to plant something pretty in this area (or at least cover it in mulch), but that is way down on my priority list for now.

The following picture serves a duel purpose. First, to illustrate that we also stained the columns. Second, to show the sad state that my patio accessories sat in for the first four months we lived here:







And the saddest part is that one day Nick accidentally broke my very favorite teal pots. I couldn’t bear to throw them away at first, so they sat here like this for a couple months too.

So after we addressed the fence and the stone border (and I had thrown away the teal pots and planted a few things in the others), it was finally time to bite the bullet and buy some patio furniture! Oh happy day!

We ended up going with the same Target furniture I had my eye on the year before. It is the perfect mix of modern cottage style. 




I really debated the table situation. I would’ve preferred not to go matchy-matchy, but I couldn’t find anything I thought would coordinate. Sometimes you just gotta go with what is easier.

Leafy pillows are from Target. Green pillow is from Home Depot. I also got some green pots from Home Depot to replace my broken teal ones. Still need some plants for those.

Rug is from the ever-classy Wal-mart. This was not for lack of looking. I looked high and low (online and off) for a stylish green outdoor rug. I had my eye on a couple of pricey options (but was hesitating due to the price), when I spied this green rug for a mere $50 at Wally World. And it has a very similar leaf pattern to the pillows. How serendipitous 🙂 
Lantern is from Lowes, little potted plant is from Michaels. Yellow pot is Crate & Barrel (an Easter present from my mom!)

The flower box is from Michael’s (there is another one underneath the coffee table), the snail is from Hobby Lobby (he has had quite the journey…but that will have to be another post).











This firepit was Nick and my Christmas present to ourselves two years ago (from Home Depot).

We also bought this bird feeder from Wal-mart. Its already empty. We’ve seen the most beautiful cardinals and even the occasional blue jay!

And the hammock was my birthday gift last year. From Target.

So there you have it. Our backyard makeover! And let me tell you, it has been worth every penny. It has increased our time spent outdoors a hundred-fold. I am out there practically every night reading. And of course, Nick has enjoyed it too:
But no one is happier than this girl…

…because nothing brings her more joy than us sitting outside as she runs around. 

The end.



Framed

This is a project that has been in my head for a while now. 

It all started when I was a Hobby Lobby one day and saw these two distressed wood trunks for half off. I had been looking for a bench t to place at the foot of our bed, because our little full-sized bed is swallowed up in our huge master bedroom. I figured something at the foot of the bed might make it seem a bit more proportionate (on a side note: yes, I’m aware I have never done a post about about our master bedroom. Although it is “decorated” I’m just not 100% pleased with it. I’ve got big plans for a makeover in there…one day…eventually. I do plan to post some pics of that room and talk about those plans sometime soon! Promise!)

Anyway, when I placed these two trunks at the foot of the bed, it just didn’t feel like the right vibe. I was trying to bring in some rustic contrast to all of our slick IKEA white furniture in there, but the contrast didn’t really compliment, it just seemed out of place. 
Then I thought about the empty wall between our living room and our kitchen. I had been trying to decide what to do with this space since we moved in. Seating area? Sofa table? China cabinet? 
Once I put the trunks there, it all seemed to come together. When pushed together, the trunks made a sweet little bench (especially once I added some pillows). All of a sudden I was picturing a sweet mudroom-type vibe, like this:
And just like that, it was decided: a gallery wall was in my future. 🙂
Unfortunately, this is how it sat for at least two months:
I just couldn’t decide which approach to take–

All-white collage? Seemed a bit too modern and clean-lined for the room.
A large grid? This appeals to me but felt a bit too calculated and formal. 
What about on a shelf? I like the casual, collected look, but finding enough coordinating frames was a bit intimidating.
And we haven’t even considered finishes. I really like the mixed finishes of this photo:
But I felt like I might should go with some type of metal finish (gold, brass, bronze) to cordinate with the mirrors above the fireplace.

Finally, I laid eyes on this simple gallery wall from where else but the Ballard catalog:
It felt like the perfect mix of casual but traditional. Although the finish looks slightly gold in the photo, it is described as charcoal wood, which reminded me of the weathered grey wood frames I have on the fireplace:

Since the gallery wall is directly across from the fireplace, I thought it would be nice to tie in that same wood again (Candace Olsen always says to repeat design elements in a couple of spots in a room to make it feel intentional).

Luckily, Michaels still had the same frames I bought for the fireplace. And they were on MAJOR clearance for $9.99 each. They didn’t come with a photo mat, but I was able to find mats on major clearance as well. Altogether, the frames, mats and printed pictures came to about $14.00 a piece. I’m pretty proud since the Ballard version cost a whopping $159.00 PER FRAME!! So my whole gallery wall cost less than ONE FRAME from Ballard. Love it when that happens. Seriously, there has got to be no better thrill.
So here are the after pictures:

I tried to keep the pictures very light and airy. Basically evoking a summer day on the water. The photos are from our wedding on Lake Ray Hubbard (we left the reception by sailboat!).

In that last photo you also get a peek into the dining room, which is another room I have yet to share with the world (aka: the blog). I was in the middle of a time-consuming, outside-of-my-box type project in there, and kind of lost steam and haven’t finished it up (or even attempted in months). But when I get around to it, and you will be the first to know. Can’t wait for that day, because I have another Ballard-ripoff project I was able to do for less than half the cost! Oh, don’t you love how I leave you hanging in suspense?? 🙂

A little (pretty) something extra

Do you get the Ballard catalog? Have you noticed their recent fixation with garden seats? Like this one:

And this one:

And you know I am in love with these (I was thisclose to buying the teal one):

Well one day I was browsing in Ross (I just love Ross and Marshalls for cheap accessories!), and I stumbled across the most pretty Ballard-esque garden stool you have ever laid eyes on. And guess what? It was $100 cheaper. How could I pass that up? And of course, I had the perfect place in mind for it. 

They actually had an option that looked exactly like that first Ballard photo (what I consider the more “traditional” garden seat look). But I decided on this more dainty, decorative one because I think it ties in some of the more “elegant” pieces of the room.

I love how the stool ties in with the damask pattern of the rug. Seriously, sometimes I just stare at the two and marvel at how well they compliment one another. If only I was joking…
I also love that the stool is slightly more cream than white. I didn’t intend to have cream be one of my colors for this room, but sometimes my search for white accessories has turned up cream. Namely, the two chairs at the bar, the roman shades, and the pillows. So the stool adds another cream accent to make it look like a more conscious color decision. 
As for accessorizing the top of my garden seat, I did it completely using things I already had. I took my cues from the Ballard stylists and added a pretty book. I had some leftover (ahem–fake) hydrangeas from my kitchen table centerpiece so I put them in a vase on top of the book. I love that the flowers tie the kitchen in with the living room. I have heard Candace Olsen say to try to repeat elements in a room so it looks intentional. So there you go: my pretty accessories, and the cute sleeping husband is just a bonus 🙂