above

Archive | our house

Fall touches in the studio

I told myself I wasn’t going to get into Fall mode until after last weekend. Audrey had her first soccer game, we celebrated Brady’s 12th birthday (what?!) and the Seahawks played (sad loss, but I’m trying to forget it). I saw my first falling leaf of the season and our hydrangeas have changed into the prettiest dusty blue/green tones. It’s definitely fall.

Which means it’s time to add autumn touches around the house. I’ve said this before (probably with every new season), but one of the best parts of decorating with mainly neutral pieces is that it is so easy to switch out a few accessories, pillows, throws and artwork to give our home a seasonal feel.

I keep a small bin of autumn decorations (faux pumpkins, a few wreaths, acorns and collected feathers) and pulled them out this weekend to start in on the studio. It’s still early fall, so I didn’t want to go to dark and cozy quite yet, so I kept things light and fresh with just enough elements to make it feel like a change from summer.

chair | blanket | pumpkin canvas | shelves | linen file box | basket | Q&A book

I started with my white pumpkin painting canvas. You might remember the original from our old house (see it here). I had it professionally photographed and turned it into a reproducible canvas last year. I adore how it turned out! You can order one for your house here. The medium size is shown, but you can also get a smaller or larger version.

I just love how all of the textures play off of each other – baskets, shiny metals, antique frame, the little cotton wreath, wood desk, leather chair and wool blanket. This whole set up feels very true to my casual/layered style.

I found that green vase while walking through Home Goods a few weeks ago. I almost passed it up and then went back for it at the last minute. It just seemed like a good timeless piece to have on hand. And it looks so pretty with a branch popping out.

It is so nice to walk into the studio and see this pretty view first thing. I’ll keep making small changes in the rest of the space – and in the house as well – and will share more as the rooms come together. For now, I’m loving the touch of fall to this little corner of the studio.

desk | desktop | chairpumpkin canvas | buffalo check blanket | lamp diy

 

Happy fall, my friends!

For more on the studio:

Before + After | The Initial Design Plan | Desk DIY

Spring Studio Tour | Summer Studio Tour

continue reading | 16 comments

why I still make the bed even though our mattress is on the floor

Today is National Make Your Bed day (did you even know there was such a thing?!).

Several months ago, Crane & Canopy offered to send us a new Belgian linen duvet and sham set and I, of course, said yes. If you’ve been around here for long, you know that I have a longstanding thing for linen. Linen sofa, linen pillows, linen curtains … and now linen bedding.

You guys. I love this bedding so much. It is so soft and lightweight, crisp and classic, and the wrinkly casualness is just right for our cozy house. I always go for white duvet covers and shams because they feel so hotel-ish and this new linen set is for sure my favorite we’ve ever had.

Months have passed since our new bedding came and I’ve been waiting for some updates to be made to our bedroom until I shared.

We sold our old metal bedframe (see it here) after we moved in almost a year ago and planned on replacing it with something more substantial, a little cozier and more masculine in style to fit in better with this house. I genuinely wanted to put our bedroom together first because master bedrooms always end up being the very last to get any attention in a house. I even put together a great design plan! We have plans to add architectural interest to the wall behind the bed (and potentially cover up the hexagon window that is oddly placed), we need nightstands and a reading chair/loveseat over by the window and we’re even considering putting a tv in the room (gasp!).

And yet, here we are all these months later with our mattresses on the ground, an ikea step stool for a nightstand and an otherwise empty room.

But here’s the thing: even though we don’t have our perfect furniture, I still make the bed.

I make the bed because it’s something I can do to make our bedroom feel put together.

I make the bed because it looks pretty.

I make the bed because if the bed is made, I feel a little more in control of my life (weird, I know. I feel the same way about having a clean car. When it’s out of control messy, it stresses me out.)

I make the bed because it feels so good to get into a nicely made bed at night.

My recipe for a well-made bed consists of a subtly pattered sheet set, a coverlet, duvet (with down comforter inside) folded at the foot of the bed, two sleeping pillows (on regular and one memory foam), decorative sham and a few accent pillows.

I’m such a fan of mixing patterns and textures and it makes my neutral tendencies so much more visually interesting.

For instance, we have a petite pattern on the sheets, a striped pillowcase for the memory foam old-lady pillow, a quilted velvet coverlet, linen duvet and shams and and embossed design on the throw pillows. The whole mix feels casual, classic and a little bit preppy.

Over the weekend, I painted a scribble art piece to hang over the makeshift nightstand … and I’m totally smitten with it. It adds a quirky graphic punch to keep the room from going too traditional.

So even though our room is far from where we hope it will end up, I’m so committed to making it work in the meantime. And sometimes all that means is taking a few minutes each day to make the bed.

SOURCES

sheet set | coverlet (similar) | duvet + shams | floral pillows | step stool (aka nightstand)


Hop on over to my fellow-bed-makers to see how they are pulling things together in their rooms on this national make your bed day: Kristi at I Should be Mopping the Floor, Anne at Flax & Twine, Camila at Effortless Style.

continue reading | 36 comments

Living with kids and a light couch

In our home, and in our main living areas, we have two couches.

One is in the living room:

couch | rug | coffee table (similar) | lamp (similar) | ikat fabric | leaf pillow

The other is in the family room:

sectional | ottoman | lamp | stripe basket | x pillow | pom pillow | leather pillow

And both are very light in color.

What we also have are four children:

(Aren’t they cute?! Taken on the first day of school last week)

A question I am asked often is “how does your light couch hold up with the kids?“.

It’s a great question.With an active family and messy kids and regularly having guests over, you would think choosing light couches would be a problem. However, we have not found this to be the case at all.

With an active family and messy kids and regularly having guests over, you would think choosing light couches would be a problem. However, we have not found this to be the case at all.

A couple of thoughts before I get all bossy on you and tell you how we make the light couches work for our family:

First, let me start by saying I prefer a light-colored sofa mainly because of aesthetics. A couch is often the largest piece in a room and keeping it neutral and light works well with my decorating style. I like that I can switch out throws or pillows to change the look seasonally and with how dark it can feel around here in the winter, it is nice to keep the furniture bright to offset the gloominess.

Second, many people proclaim their love of white slipcovers because they can be thrown in the wash and bleached. Our two couches are not slipcovered, so we don’t have that luxury of easy cleaning, but they are both nice quality upholstery with stain-treatment. I still declare my love for each one and would choose them again if given the option.

Third, these are our everyday couches and get a lot of use.

The tufted couch was previously in our great room in the old house where it was the main couch in the house (see it here). It now sits in the living room where we use it much less, but is still a go-to for bedtime reading or weekend video game playing.

Our family room couch is where the kids mainly hang out, where we gather with friends, where we watch shows and movies. It is the comfiest big sectional I’ve ever sat in and we love cozying up on it.

All to say, these couches were conscious design choices, are regularly used and still two of my favorite purchases we’ve made.

So now for how we manage to keep them nice looking, while also living …

RULES FOR LIVING WITH KIDS AND A LIGHT COUCH

  1. Shoes off

  2. No food or drinks

  3. Forts can happen elsewhere

  4. Sorry, puppy. You have to stay off.

I sound so mean with these rules, but I’m telling you, they work.

We generally take our shoes off in our house, so that one isn’t a big deal for the kids (or us). Since we live where it is rainy and shoes track in dirt and mud, we typically have the kids take them off at the door. Keeping them off the couch helps reduce the risk of dirt stains.

Since the kids were babies, we’ve always had a ‘stay in the kitchen’ rule when eating. I think this is the number one way to keep the furniture in good shape. Little crumbs and spills are inevitable and kids (at least mine) are messy eaters. Instead of fighting it, we just say no food or drinks allowed. When they are watching a movie and want popcorn, I’ll either lay down a few blankets over the couch or just have them sit on the floor to eat it. I’m slightly protective of the furniture, but it seems to be working :)

As for the fort-making, we reserve that for their bedrooms and the playroom. These downstairs couches are nice pieces of furniture that we want to have for a long time. As much as we value creative play, we also want to teach the kids about taking good care of our things. In our old house, we had a broken-in couch in the playroom that they were welcome to jump on, toss the cushions around, build forts out of. In this house, we have a kid hangout space on the third floor with a couch they can be harder on. So we’re all about providing spaces for the kids to be kids (their bedrooms, third floor, outside) and okay with keeping some places in the house just for regular living.

P.S. I felt the same way about toys when the kids were much younger and even now have a general rule that most toys stay upstairs or outside. It’s a weird balance between giving the kids the run of the house and finding ways to have kids and adults live happily together. Did you happen to see my Instagram story video of the third floor literally covered in legos? Or the time when Ryan bought a case of duct tape and the kids had cardboard all over the family room? This is absolutely a reality in our house. Of course we are a very normal family with a million legos and sports equipment, nerf guns, craft supplies and baby dolls. Those things edge their way into our living areas and we can be super flexible and accommodating to their creativity. And also? I want my house to be clean and orderly so I can function. So we work to find a balance.

And as for pets, we don’t let ours up on the furniture. Plenty of people we love are couch-pet snugglers, but it’s not our thing. Atlas, our big hairy labradoodle, keeps to the floor.

So, yes. You can live with kids – and a dog! – and a light couch. It takes some conscious decision-making (are we okay with shoes on the couch? do we like to eat on the couch?) and a mildly protective nature, but it is totally doable and enjoyable and a light couch looks great in almost any room :)

Anything you’d like to add? Do you agree or disagree with our family’s approach to keeping the house nice? I’d love to chat about it!

continue reading | 40 comments

From 90’s to Now: Guest Bathroom Makeover Before + After

Before and afters are the very best, aren’t they?!

Our little guest bathroom has undergone a great transformation that I can’t wait to show you.

Here’s a sneak peek of the after (because I just can’t handle leading the post with one of the before pictures!).

Isn’t it pretty?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Our house was built in the early 90’s and we think underwent a few updates throughout the years – tile floors in the kitchen and mud room, a full master bathroom remodel in the early 2000’s, possibly a few light fixtures over the years and we’re guessing the bead board and vanity in the small main floor guest bathroom we not original when the house was built. Even with those updates over the last 25 years, most of the house still feels a bit dated. We’ve spent the past year slowly making changes to bring a more modern, current feel to our home. The little bathroom was next on the list.

This little windowless bathroom sits right off the kitchen and is the only bathroom on the main floor.

Here’s a random photo to help you get a feel for where it is located (that doorway on the left):

The location of the bathroom is not our very favorite as it lacks privacy and feels sort of weird having it open right into the kitchen. One of the first things we did when we moved in was add an automatic closing hinge to the door so that while sitting at the kitchen table, you don’t have to peer right into the bathroom (then we added a magnetic door stop so that you can make the door stay open if needed). Eventually, we’d like to move the door around the corner in the entry hallway to offer a bit more privacy and close off the bathroom from the kitchen.

Here’s another shot to show you how the bathroom fits in the floor plan. To the right is the front door and entry hall, to the left is the family room and behind us is the kitchen table and kitchen.

So, when we first saw the house, this is what the bathroom looked like:

And when we moved in, it looked like this:

The first order of business was painting over those red walls.

Red was a very popular color – especially for dining rooms – in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, but it is perhaps my least tolerable color and felt particularly painful to my neutral-loving-eyes in this tiny bathroom. One afternoon after the boys’ football game, I pulled out a leftover can of paint from our old house and painted right over that red.

After painting the walls white and the door and trim charcoal, we replaced the chunky black framed mirror with a thin round brass mirror and installed modern brass towel and toilet paper holders (no longer available, but this and this are very similar).

Those little updates did a lot to just neutralize the space and make it a little more updated.

The thing about this little bathroom, though, is that it is right in the middle of the house where we see it and use it often and yet it had no unique style. It was also feeling super dark and heavy with that black vanity.

So this summer, I’ve been making a few additional easy changes to inject a bit of style and special-ness to the otherwise blah bathroom.

The first step was painting that vanity. I ordered a sample pot of paint during a Sherwin Williams paint sale in one of my favorite gray-blues called Rushing River (it’s the same color as Audrey’s bed, seen here). I think the sample was $4.50-ish. I lightly sanded the vanity and then just brushed on three coats of satin paint and let it dry for a few days before adding knobs I had leftover from our old house.

Lightening up the vanity did a lot to tone down the size and starkness of the previously black vanity.

Next, I installed a striking (and slightly dizzying!) removable wallpaper called Vintage Poppy in a deep navy color. In case you missed it, here is the post all about the installation process.

With the brass mirror back up on the wall and a few accessories added for color and detail, here is that little bathroom all updated for today.

The best part is that now when the door is left open, the bathroom is actually charming to look at!

These little changes have made a big impact in turning our 90’s bathroom into a modern and updated space.

SOURCES

mirror | wallpaper | vanity paint | towel bar (similar) | hand towel | striped tray | white vase (similar) | brass vase (vintage)

continue reading | 27 comments

The Chickens + their backyard coop

You may remember that we dove headfirst into the country life and bought baby chicks this spring. Well, I’m happy to report that those sweet little fluffy chicks have grown into full-size, egg-laying hens.

This is our first go at raising chickens and while we don’t know all there is to know, perhaps you’d like to hear a bit more about how things are going and you’d like to see their coop?

Oh, good. Because that’s what this post is all about :)

For the first 6ish weeks, the chicks lived in our garage under a heat lamp in a big galvanized bin (which is now used as the kids’ lego bin on the third floor). Our plan was to design and build a chicken coop, but while walking through Costco, we spotted a pre-made coop and decided to go the easy route and brought it home. Here’s what it looks like in the product image:

It is a perfectly fine coop, but needed a few alterations to work for our chickens. We painted it white, reinforced the base and sides (it’s not the sturdiest right out of the box) and added an extension of the bottom ‘run’ to accommodate our six chickens. With those simple changes, it works great and was a much easier project than if we built from scratch.

You know what the hardest part of putting it together was?

The foundation.

It’s a good idea to have fencing material around the sides and top to keep predators out, but the underside is equally important. We don’t want rodents, coyotes or raccoons digging under the coop, so Ryan set us up with a Fort Knox worthy barrier.

We started by clearing a spot in our backyard for the chickens to live. Our yard is wooded around the perimeter and so it took a bit of work to clear out a few trees, underbrush and one million roots.

Once we had our spot cleared, we measured out the finished size of the coop and dug a perimeter about 12 inches down to fill with cinderblocks. This will prevent anything from digging down and getting up under the coop.

After the cinderblocks were in and level, we added metal grating and large cement pavers to create a foundation.
And then the coop was set on top.

Ryan added a back section for added space and put in a lift-up top so we can change the food and water and access the lower pen.

I love the idea of growing flowers or vegetables in the top garden box (like shown in the product image), but that didn’t happen this spring. We also plan to put in some shrubs and ground cover around the chicken coop to add back some green. That should help with how sparse it looks now!

The chickens are pretty easy. I like to let them out in the morning to wander around the yard, pecking at the grass, eating bugs and seeds and whatever they can find, and then around dusk they find their way back up into their sleeping quarters.

Usually we go out after they are in their coop to close and lock the door, but one night a few weeks ago we did not. They were fine all night long until they wandered out early in the morning and a coyote ran off with one of the chickens. Poor Nugget made a nice breakfast for that mean coyote. Surprisingly, the kids did okay with the loss of Nugget and it reminded us to make sure we go out each night to close up the coop.

So far, we have two chickens who are laying every day. We’re pretty sure the two black and white spotted ones are the layers, based on the fact that they have the most developed top red floppy things on their heads (apparently, that is an indication that they are developed enough to lay eggs).

Our chickens LOVE when we feed them scraps of food – especially fruit. It’s ridiculously entertaining to watch them devour a watermelon or leftovers from dinner and squawk at each other when one gets in the way.

Lately, they’ve been hanging out by the back door waiting for us …

We’re still learning about raising backyard chickens, but so far things have gone fairly well. Our friends just gifted us this darling book to help us learn more about chickens and gardening:

If you’re looking for a resource on homesteading, you’ll adore this book (and the blog!). I can’t wait to dig in and learn more about how we can use our property to grow more of our family’s food.

I sound like such a country girl. And maybe I am :)

continue reading | 26 comments