Work and play

So in my last post, I promised not one, but two room makeovers for you. So here is installment number two. It has been a long time coming. So long that it started as me wanting to do an office makeover and then morphed into an office/playroom once Kate was born.

I really like this room, because it has a huge window with tons of natural light. But for the first year or so, it sat pretty neglected. It held the couch we had used in our apartment living room, a desk we bought while we were living in the rental house, and some grey paintings/accessories I came up with while we were in the rental. Our biggest “accomplishment” to the room to date was finally buying some blinds for that huge window.IMG_6488IMG_6468IMG_6472

Nick’s grandparents offered us their old 42″ tv. We gladly accepted because…well, who turns down a 42″ flatscreen tv?? But we already had one for the living room so there was quite a bit of debate over where to put this tv. I didn’t feel like it really belonged in the master bedroom. So we decided to put it in the office, because it would be nice to be able to watch tv while I worked on the computer. So for the longest time, it looked like this. Cords hanging down the wall = classy, doncha think?


I hemmed and hawed over this room for years. My original plan was to do a yellow and gray color scheme. But then, I saw this floating around Pinterest-land. And it changed my direction to navys and greens.

Finding these curtains (from IKEA) sealed the deal:


But, um…notice that the curtains are highwatering? I ended up “sewing” (or maybe hot gluing…shh, don’t tell!) navy fabric to the bottom. I don’t have a progress picture of that, but you can see it in the reveal pictures below. I actually much prefer the curtains with the navy added to it. It balances out the graphic pattern and makes them look much more custom. 

So next up, I decided to jump on the chalkboard wall bandwagon. I thought it would be a really fun thing for Kate to play with as she got older (and I would enjoy playing with it in the meantime!). I figured the room could handle a black wall since that huge window lets in so much light. 

So we got to painting. 


We actually used a can of magnetic paint underneath (although, on a wall this size I would actually recommend at least two cans, I had to go back and repaint later because it wasn’t as magnetic as I hoped it would be), then we painted chalkboard paint on top. You can see in the picture below that the chalkboard paint is a bit darker than the magnetic stuff. You can also see the paint chips we were deciding about for the rest of the walls. 


After you finish painting it, you have to let the paint cure for a few days, then you have to condition the wall by rubbing chalk all over the entire wall and then erasing it.


As you can see in this picture, we bought a new, much smaller desk (from IKEA…yeah, I know, where else?). One thing I didn’t like about the previous room’s arrangement was how my back was to the door, so I felt like I was just staring at a wall. I really wanted this room to serve as a way for me to be able to work on the computer while also being able to see and interact with Kate. So we put the desk in the center of the room, facing the the play area. Then Nick built some storage shelves to go behind the desk and a toy storage bench/desk for the play area. Why am I still talking…let’s just get to the pictures 🙂





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I didn’t take a picture of the tv now, but it is in the same spot (on the wall above the bench in the picture below). I can’t even begin to explain how he did it, but Nick was AWESOME and moved the electrical outlet so that it is now behind the tv.   IMG_5847 IMG_5844IMG_5863_MG_9153

The perfectionist in me needs to point out that I will be adding more pillows to this bench at some point. I’m thinking something fun, like in the shape of clouds. Just haven’t felt like spending the money yet.     

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Something worth mentioning with the canvas photo. It actually is a $30 print I used spray adhesive to attach to a canvas that I have had for years (and repainted many, many times…most recently it was the grey canvas over the couch in the “before” pictures).  IMG_5000      

I googled around and printing a canvas this size would’ve been over $200. I was pretty proud of how it turned out. Maybe one day I will paint the edges a fun color. 


Decorating this room was SO much fun because it gave me the excuse to be playful and definitely was a departure from my normal color scheme. Hopefully the room will grow and evolve to accommodate Kate’s play needs as she get’s older. So far, I’d say she’s enjoying it 🙂




Dream big

Hello blogworld. I am sorry that I have abandoned you for so long. Having a baby plus working full-time makes finding spare time for blogging difficult. In order to make it up to you, I am about to overload you with not one, but two room makeovers, plus a special birthday party for a certain one-year-old girl 🙂

First up: guess what, we redid the living room!

And actually, it was less of a “redo,” and more about updating some pieces to get us closer to the living room we have always dreamed of. Most of the decor did not change, the wall/ceiling color didn’t change, the overall “vibe” of the room didn’t change. The two big changes (an entertainment center and a sectional) are both things that we have dreamed about since we were engaged. So although we liked the other stuff, it had always been more of a placeholder until we were ready to bite the bullet and actually spend the money.

So, with no further ado, here’s the before:IMG_5151

And here’s the after:_MG_9186

One more angle… before: IMG_5170


We are very happy with the results. The sectional couch was a decision that basically just fits better with our lifestyle. We are both loungers, so when we had the two couches before, we always would fight over the long couch because you can’t spread out on the shorter couch. So having a sectional where both sides are the same length allows us to both comfortably lay on the couch together. Yay laziness! 🙂

The couch is an Ektorp sectional from IKEA. If money was no object, I would’ve chosen a Pottery Barn sectional. The IKEA one is about $2,000 cheaper and looks extremely similar. We had an Ektorp loveseat in our apartment, but I was still pretty nervous about how comfortable this sectional would be. I am sure that the PB version is probably 100x comfier, but honestly, I have loved this couch so far! I find it pretty comfortable.


One of those “you live, you learn” things that I learned from the couches that we had before is that me and microsuede just don’t get along. They just always seemed a little dingy to me, and no matter how much scrubbing I did, I felt like they never really looked clean. The thing that I really liked about our old Ektorp loveseat (which was white, by the way… GASP, I know, white!), was that I could take the cover off and wash it. And then, eventually, I could buy a replacement cover and it was like I had a whole new couch (for very little extra $$). This was really the biggest selling point of this sectional.

I originally planned on buying the white version of this couch. I just LOVE a white couch. I still love the one we had in our apartment. Its just my style. Plus, the white cover is cheaper 😉 But in the end, I decided to spring for this upgraded off-white linen fabric. It is light enough that it still has the same vibe as a white couch (the white throw pillows help too), but I thought the off-white color would hide a bit more of the everyday dirt that inevitably happens when you actually use your couch. Plus, I liked the texture of the fabric, it felt a bit more upscale.

This particular cover is dry-clean only, but I actually see this as a plus, because I think that the drycleaners will be able to get it cleaner (without wrinkles!)  than I ever could. So far (after living with this couch for over four months), we have had no trouble with dirt. I still feel like it looks brand new, with very little effort on our part. We aren’t “careful” with this couch, we live on it, eat snacks on it, have a dog who sits on it, and it has held up extremely well. I sprayed two cans of ScotchGuard on it, so who knows if that helped or not.


Okay, now for our favorite part: the media center. Oh my gosh, we both love this. It truly is a dream come true. I still remember walking around IKEA while we were still dating talking about how “one day” we would buy this media center. In fact, when we go to IKEA now we both get a little sad because we don’t get to go by and dream about it. But then we get happy because, oh yeah! The dream came true 🙂


Here is the craziest part. Remember this post where I talked about how I changed the floorplan before we started building? Here is a picture of a house with our unmodified floorplan:


What I did was have them move the fireplace to where the TV is in this picture. Our reasoning was that, as any true-blooded American would, we wanted the TV centered with the couch instead of the fireplace.

Fast forward to this past winter, when Nick measured out the little “nook” we had in between the back wall and the fireplace. It was within INCHES of the exact dimensions of the media center we had always dreamed of. Close enough that it would look like a built-in. We couldn’t have planned it better if we had tried!


Okay, now let’s talk for a minute about how we made all this happen, budget-wise. Like I said, Nick and I have been dreaming of getting this media center, so when we got married we purchased one of the bookshelves for our apartment. So we only had to buy the second bookshelf, both sets of doors, the media console and the little shelf that attaches the two bookshelves over the TV.


We both asked everyone in our families for IKEA gift cards for Christmas, so we were able to pull our gifts together and really saved a lot that way. We also sold our old couches/chair (to a girl we went to college with who actually reads this blog! Hi Lauren! :)), which also put a little extra cash in our pockets. So the price we ended up actually having to pay for the couch and media center ended up being pretty reasonable! Yay 🙂

I just love how the sectional and built-ins now create the pefect little cozy nook for relaxing. It really feels complete.


I just loved styling the shelves! This has been a many-years-long lesson for me, learning how to scale down the books and add more decorative items and frames. The thing I really like about these shelves is that even when the rest of the house is messy, the shelves still always look neat and organized which can trick you into feeling like the rest of the house is too.



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I also love having the cabinet doors to store some of our less pretty objects. One side holds all of our books and magazines. The other side holds some of Kate’s toys so that she can pull them out and play in the living room.

So now you see it…_MG_9280

And now you don’t! Magic 🙂 _MG_9283


By the way, for anyone wondering how we hung the TV without the cords showing, Nick bought this really cool product that allows you to cut a hole in the drywall, run the TV cords behind the wall, and then pull it out through a second hole you cut beside the outlet. It was relatively simple…I highly recommend this approach!


Okay, so now on to a few other elements of the room. The one thing I really miss about our old furniture was the big oversized chair. I actually picked that whole microsuede set because I really liked that chair. I feel like it was a great proportion to the room and I liked how it kind of defined the “living area” from the entryway section. And truth be told, I struggled with how empty the room felt once the chair wasn’t there anymore.

I had a hard time deciding on what we would put there instead. Nick really wanted to bring in our old Ektorp loveseat (which we still have and is for sale if anyone is interested!). I felt like that would just be too much couch in one room. Plus I felt like it would be good to bring in some variety, so that all the furniture wasn’t matchy-matchy. I really pictured an oversized chippendale chair or wicker chair, but despite my searching I could not find anything like that for a reasonable price.

I finally stumbled across these teal slipper chairs, which are nearly the perfect match to the teal accents we already had in the room!


To be honest, I still don’t feel like they are 100% the correct scale…that part of the room still feels a little empty to me. But I love the way they bring in more of the teal. You know me and teal 😉


Some of the other choices we made were for the sake of baby proofing. We already had the little garden stool (in between the chairs), but I removed the pretty vase of fake flowers (haha) because I could just imagine Kate pulling that down and shattering it. I actually don’t mind the stool clear, it makes a good place to sit drinks and a is also great drum for Kate 😉


We also sold our old coffee table and replaced them with two soft wicker ottomans. They provide some extra storage and soft corners for Kate as she learns to walk.


When we brought the sectional in, I wasn’t really crazy about the back of the couch being exposed. I knew pretty much right away that we needed a sofa table for it. Which didn’t make me happy, because I didn’t want to have to buy another piece of furniture. So, I took the nesting tables that we used to have (nested) next to our old couch and I lined them up side by side. I was actually just trying to determine how a sofa table would look there. But the more I looked at it, the more I liked the stairstep look of these tables.


This is probably the area of the room I feel least secure about, just because it was not an idea I’ve seen before, I just kind of came up with it in an effort to use what we had. But I kind of love it. It adds some dark tones, which I think the room needs to balance out my love for all things whitewashed. And its really fun getting to decorate each individual plane, instead of one long table. _MG_9298_MG_9302


The last little addition was a small little cabinet for the wall next to the dining room. That spot used to be the home to Kate’s swing, which she has now outgrown. I’ve always wanted to do something pretty in that area, and I’ve also always loved the decorative look of mirrored cabinet doors. I stumbled across this little cabinet at Ross one day. It was pretty affordable, but was a weird silver metallic color. So we brought it home, and I spray painted it white.

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I love what it adds to the room. It is helps the room feel a bit more layered and collected over time. Plus, it adds some extra storage. Bet you can’t guess what’s inside…



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So there you have it. Our living room updates. And we actually have some big plans coming down the line for it this summer including adding crown moulding, extra woodwork on the wall above the fireplace, replacing the fireplace surround tile with something a bit less builder-grade and installing a transom window and french doors for the dining room. Some brown wicker roman shades would also work nicely with the other dark natural textures in the room. Whew, that didn’t really seem like much until I actually typed it all out. Poor Nick… 🙂