Monthly Archives: June 2012

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Weekend Projects

You guys. The barn door is finished. Or almost. We have to get hardware so the boy can get out of his room. Wait. Perhaps that’s not urgent. We also have to put in some floor stops so it doesn’t swing. But it’s up, painted and bonus, the upstairs has yet to fall down. Win-win. And now that that project’s done its time to clean the house. Seriously. The cleanliness here gets disgustingly neglected every time we do a project. Must catch up before company comes. Or, you know, before we all die of some awful disease.

Also on the agenda this weekend is painting the small one’s desk. Remember this?

He wants it painted “rainbow”. We picked out some paint samples last week and painting it is my weekend project.

In other news, the small one is six (6!) on Tuesday. Expect sappy “How did my baby get so old” post to be forthcoming. I had grand plans for a super cool robot building party, but he nixed that in favor of bowling. With an ice cream cake. Honestly, doesn’t he know I have crafty blog posts about my awesome parenting to write?

Hope you all have a lovely (and cool) weekend. And if you’re so inclined stop by and like Designing Around on our brand new facebook page. It’s sure to be full of the awesome shortly.

Tweaking the Dining Room

Remember yesterday, when I said I wanted to make some changes in our dining room? Well check out what a random Craigslist search found.

I love it. Finn hates it (hates it!). It is pretty big for our super narrow (9 foot wide) dining space. I think with a few more adjustments it could work though. And yes, that is a dessert bowl full of napkins as a centerpiece. If I’m going to have an upholstered piece in the dining room I really need to emphasize the use of napkins.

I’m thinking some lighting on the shelves behind the bench. I’ve been obsessing over this kitchen and love the way these lamps look.

While I’m not working with the same space, I think I could borrow the idea with these.  Just two though I think.

I’m also pondering an eventual paint change. I’ve pondered that for a while, the trick is figuring out how it flows with the rest of the space. I like the green, but its been green for five years now. I saw this pic on designmom and it’s sparking some ideas.

Nothing set yet, but I like the idea of grey (shocking, I know) and a stencil. Then again, my whole house is grey. And I have black furniture in the kitchen, so it would need to be a lighter color.

What do you think? Where do you stand on the upholstered bench issue?

My Kitchen

It’s a working family kitchen. Which means that, yes, there is almost always a tea-cup in front of the microwave. There is a basket of snacks on top of the fridge. And there is always stuff waiting to be carried up on the most awkwardly placed staircase ever (visiting children are always getting lost in our house looking for the way upstairs).

The kitchen was the first project we undertook when we moved into this house. With an 18 month old. We did it ourselves and while I think we did a good job with the complete lack of knowledge and money we had, it has a fair number of issues. I’d love a bit of a do over.  The kitchen itself used to end just after the stove. We knocked out a wall, put in a header and expanded into what’s known here as a “tandem”, which in this case was a finished former porch. It left a rather awkward back door entry into the kitchen/dining room. Eventually we plan to replace that far wall with patio doors (or even better, those lovely french steal doors I posted the other day) to a narrow deck and then floor over the existing entry. It needs proper lighting, a better counter, etc.  Someday.

In the meantime, this works well. When I look at the mistakes, I remind myself that many people are happy with less and that the construction mistakes are most obvious to us because we made them. I love the wallpaper, it was the first big risk I took in a room. I like our chalkboard/magnet wall.

I like that everyone can hang out in the attached dining room when we have people over. I’m feeling the need for a few tweaks though. Something a little different in the dining area to combat my desire to rip out the walls and put in patio doors.

We’re having company next week which is always a good excuse for rearranging. Not that I ever really need an excuse.

Anyone else motivated by company to tweak their homes?

Behind Closed Doors

I think there are two kinds of people, those who are highly organized and know where everything is and goes in every closet, cabinet and drawer. And those who close (shove perhaps) the doors closed and move on. Aside from brief organizational outbreaks, I tend to fall in the later category.  Remember those pictures of my office? I told you then never to look behind the doors. Here it is with everything looking lovely.

And here’s the truth behind the doors.

Some left over attempts at organization. Some of the drawers are even labeled. Oh cute little labels. You mean nothing. Boxes from cell phones we no longer use, random books, fabric, photos, etc. I had no idea where anything was or where anything went. Which mean that the top of my desk looked like this all the time.

Ridiculous. Sunday, when I realized I had no idea where my expensive prescription sun glasses were, only that they were somewhere in this mess, I’d had enough. So I pulled everything out of the cabinets.

Actually that’s only half of everything. I had so much junk shoved in there I had to do this in stages. A large trash bag and numerous items relocated to appropriate spots later, I had this.

Look. EMPTY SPACE. For more stuff. Also those bins with labels? They actually contain what the labels specify. Radical.And guess what else happened.

That’s right not one, but two, TWO clean desk surfaces. Who knew?

All that cleaning also turned up some decals left over from our bedroom. I thought I’d see how they looked on the back of the bookshelves.

What do you think? They are a complete and total pain in the ass to put on. These things do not want to stick to the laminate. I had to damp them down and it took about 10 minutes per flower. Worth it? I’m not sure. Going to look things over again in the morning. I have 16 more I can add if I like, I imagine it will take me a couple of weeks at the rate I worked tonight.

Oh and look what I found.


Anatomy of a Room: Planning Christina’s Living Room

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this weekend playing with ideas for Christina’s living room. Finn was working nights anyway and my kiddos go to bed early. Plus I find this fun and relaxing. I’m not sure why I’m making excuses for it either. At any rate, if you remember Christina’s looking for ways to inject her family’s personality into the space, as well as a lot more function with seating and storage. She likes modern, her husband is more traditional. And she’d like the space to feel warm and cozy. Let’s look at a floor plan.

I need to find a better tool for this, but it gives you some idea of what I’m thinking and how the space is laid out. The entry room is on your left and there needs to be a clear pathway from there into the space and through to the rest of the house, which is beyond the next opening. I’ve added in bookshelves for storage, but also because I think a wall of books always makes a room more cozy. Although the floor planner couldn’t show it, in the mood board below you’ll see I’m actually suggesting the shelves create a corner nook. Additional storage for entertainment elements is on the left side of the fireplace. For seating there is an apartment size sofa, since the space is narrow, the big leather chair and a chaise. The chaise can serve to hold a couple of people when she has guests. I’ve also added in several lamps, as the room’s only overhead fixture does not provide enough light for the space.

Now on to the fun stuff, choosing the furnishings and accessories. Today I’ll show you a mid-range set of options, next time we’ll look at how you might find similar items if you like to thrift furnishings.


Christina’s dining room is deep red, so to connect the spaces I’m bringing some reds over into this space. For this board I placed a red patterned flor tile to bring the color over. Dark woods add to the cozy feel, as well as appealing to more traditional tastes. I’m balancing all that warmth with grey upholstery and some metallic elements.  Christina likes modern  eclectic design, so I’ve chosen furnishings with clean lines and mixed in a couple unexpected details, like the dresser style entertainment unit and a skirt on the chaise. The rug pattern adds to the Anthropologie feel she likes. And the corner bookshelf will make use of an odd corner. Although not pictured, glass doors on the bookshelves will provide a cleaner look. Accessories, however, will be key to really bringing style together. Below are a few I’d start with.

A mix of textures is essential to create a cozy, eclectic space. Pillows liven up the couch and leather chair, while floor poufs add still more seating. Baskets to store shoes, magazines and kid projects keep the coffee table and other surfaces clear, yet still allow the room to function for a busy family. Changing out the knobs on the bookshelf doors and dresser entertainment storage make sure that the little details connect the room together.

The rug Christina eventually chooses, however, will really help set the room. RugsUSA is having a great sale now, here are a couple other options I think would be fabulous in this space.

I love the idea of this graphic navy pattern with the red she has in the next room. I also like this mustard yellow.

Lots of options. What’s your favorite?

Links for the furniture board below. You can see more ideas and find the accessories on my Pinterest board.

sofa. chaise. flor tile. floor lamp. bookshelves. dresser. side table

Anatomy of a Room: Christina’s Living Room

Christina asked me to have a look at her living room after seeing how I worked around the challenges in my space. Like many of us with smaller homes, her living room serves as entry, hallway and living space. In this space we’ll be designing around two large wall openings, low windows that she wants to retain access to and a fireplace, as well as awkward room dimensions of 11 x 17 feet. Eleven feet are very narrow indeed when you have to maintain a pathway through the space. Additionally Christiana has a large extended family and entertains frequently, so she needs lots of seating that can be rearranged to accommodate additional guests as needed.

Christina’s husband has fairly traditional tastes, however she really likes modern, eclectic design. It will be a challenge to find furniture and accessories that connect the two. Her favorite colors should help, she prefers warm, autumn colors and wants to create a space that feels cozy and comfortable, but not cluttered.  A couple of pieces will be staying. The fabulous leather armchair, which I can attest is perhaps the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in, stays. As does the coffee table and the sofa table. Everything else is up for transformation, relocation or replacement. They need a rug, more seating, storage, a space for the TV, lighting and lots of little accessories to personalize the space.

I’ll start with a floor plan next week, as well as two ways of approaching finding furnishings. One mood board with everything available new from retailers and a second showing strategies for getting a similar look using furnishings found on Craigslist and thrift stores, as well as Home Goods and Target. Should be lots of fun.

Have a lovely weekend. I’m off to the farmer’s market and library with my crew.


I’m taking a blogging class. Or rather, I’m occasionally checking in on a blogging class, as really I have yet to absorb this whole blogging thing enough to really challenge myself in the way this class suggests. This process still feels like navel-gazing and exploration of possibilities, of thinking aloud with an audience. My first assignment was to revamp my about page. I got as far as changing my picture. I’m still not sure exactly what this blog is about, where I want it to go.  Right now I think that’s a good thing, that resisting of defining this concept of sharing that I haven’t quite decided whether I want to keep.  I am already pulled away from my family by work (and by reading too many other blogs), do I really need to add something that keeps me at a computer more? And yet, the same pull to share that makes Facebook so attractive and that has spawned millions of other’s blogs also pulls. The life of a parent is inherently a little lonely (or perhaps that’s just me).  Home most evenings, TV is boring, I can only do so much housework or after-hours work before losing my mind. I’m not good at calling people, I hate talking on the phone. I am very much an introvert.


This class though, while interesting, presents some pressure I don’t need to create another thing to judge myself for, although I am exceptionally talented at self-judgement. But I have enough of that going on as a parent, at work and with the endless unfinished house projects.  Is there such a thing as “failing” at blogging? What do I consider successful? Right now I think it’s just posting, starting a conversation, even if it’s mostly in my head. I’d love it if this lead to more … something.


Back to my assignment, to create two “creative” posts this week. Well, this one is just a bit of rambling, interspersed with quotes and pictures. Things I’m finding inspiration in now, projects I’m planning to work on soon. (Aren’t those doors gorgeous?)

If you’re still reading along on this here’s what I think I’ll be blogging about moving forward.  I want to make the process of creating an attractive, comfortable home transparent and simple. I’ll do this by blogging about my own projects and taking on planning for others as well (message me if you’re interested). I want to share something about parenting, I think this will just be my way of making sure I do the things with my kids that I say I want to, blogging as accountability if you will. I’ll mix in some gardening but I need to figure out how. And lastly perhaps some inspiration for things to work towards. I don’t want to be a blog that just posts pretty pictures from things. I like those a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t feel like I have anything to add to that genre (can you call that a genre?).  And mostly, I’d like to develop my writing voice again, it feels very much lost over the last few years. And while writing about how I’ve crafted my home isn’t the same kind of writing, it’s the type of everyday writing I think I can reasonably plan to engage in right now. Not super creative. Not judging myself. Just creative enough to keep myself (and hopefully you) interested. We shall see.




A door is born

You guys, look what happened while I was at work today!!!!


And there’s more. No more giant hole in the wall.


Progress is a very good thing. And he did all this while ferrying kids to swim lessons and general child wrangling.  He’s pretty awesome, that guy.

The Living Room, draft 79468739653

I had a bit of a stressful weekend here, so I rearranged the living room. I liked the previous arrangement, but with everyone home for summer it felt too crowded.  This opens up more of the front for the endless lego and k’nex building going on these days. I’m not completely sold on this arrangement, but it will do for now.

Anyone else engage in furniture rearranging for stress reduction?

Minor Mayhem

We got advice from a contractor friend yesterday about our concerns about the attic addition’s construction. He made us feel much, much better. This morning Finn picked up a support beam and then set to work removing drywall. Here’s what we found.

You’ll have to picture the happy dance I did when Finn told me there was actual structural material under there cause there’s no way I’m ever documenting it. So, hooray for structural support. Quickly followed by, why is it at an angle? Let’s get closer.

Yes, it seems that at one time there was a smaller dormer on our house and someone just tied into that frame to expand it. Why they couldn’t have gone ahead and made the ceilings full height when they did that is beyond me. I always wonder what was going on with all these little things we find.

While we were upstairs, the kids were in the basement. Constructing this.

They call it a zip line. I had to take pictures so I could explain everything to the ER docs later.


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