Monthly Archives: August 2012

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Happy Friday!

Oh my, how gorgeous is this dining room? That tablecloth might just convince me to join the dip dye trend, although the chandelier is not for me. This week has flown by and somehow school begins next week. Ack. Have your kids gone back yet? The tall one starts fifth grade on Tuesday and couldn’t be more excited. We’re homeschooling the small one this year and really need to get our act together.

There’s been some fun stuff on the interwebs this week. Here are some links that caught my eye.

A list of celebrities and what they smell like. Important information.

I think I might use these to dress up a boring light fixture.

The tall one is all about the neon these days. That and rocking the off the shoulder flashdance look. She’d love this party plan, especially that cake. Who knew I could still get away with a store-bought Dora cake?

So useful.

And in case you missed any of the exciting happenings around here this week.

I introduced a new feature: The Weekly Room (any requests for next week?)
Are you ready for fall?
And my bathroom cabinet.

Have a lovely holiday weekend! Any fun plans? We’re off to the circus this afternoon (follow me on instagram for some fun pics) and Sunday is our annual end of summer Lazy Day where we watch movies ALL DAY, stay in our pajamas and eat fun snacks that we never let the kids have normally.


Escalating Events

This afternoon’s plan was to change out the knobs on the cabinet that lives in the bathroom hallway. That was the plan. A three-minute project, tops.


This cabinet houses all the things a family needs near the bathroom, as our actual bathroom is tiny (6 foot by 6 foot) and has no storage. It’s an IKEA cabinet I grabbed on a whim from the as is section a couple of years ago. It never had a knob for the bottom drawer and it sits a little funny, but it has the storage we need and its in an out of the way corner so its oddness doesn’t really matter. It also lives in front of a door, semi-camouflaging it.

I’d finally remembered to pick up some knobs when I was at Anthropologie Monday. I removed the old ones on the door and installed the new ones. Then I tried to shut the doors and realized the threaded bit ran into the shelves. Anthro knobs have a long threaded screw so you can cut or break it at the length you need. Rummaging through the basement to find the hacksaw seemed like a lot of work so instead I thought I’d just move the shelf. In retrospect, the hacksaw might have been easier. Moving the shelf led to the realization that the cabinet was a disaster. So I decided to just empty and reorganize the whole thing.

Which led to this.

Ummm, 15 half-used boxes of band aids? Really? Then this thing came out.

Finally there was this.

And then, eventually, I reached the original goal.

My three-minute project took two hours. Because of course I decided to start it just before a work call during a double play date. Multi-tasking insanity. On the plus side I can now easily open the cabinet AND find what I’m looking for afterwards. Even more impressive, the kids were all playing quietly in the basement during the call (do I know how to take a day off or what).

Anyone else experience escalating projects?

Currently Coveting

As much as I’m desperately filling these last couple weeks with as much of summer as I can, fall is definitely in the air. Even the unexpected heat we had this weekend can’t disguise the fact that the sun is going down just a little earlier and the evenings, even in the heat, are lovely and cool. I’m looking forward to bringing out my scarves again and layering a bit. And even as I’m clearing things out in preparation for all of us being inside more, I’m finding a few things I’m coveting for fall.

I’m a year-round tea drinker, with a three+ cup a day habit, but fall calls for even more tea and hot chocolate. I love the shape of these mugs from West Elm and little enamel teapots get me every time. In fact, teapots are the only thing that I come close to collecting, you’ll find them scattered throughout our home as I find them so appealing.

I need a sweater or two to curl up in with my tea, I think. And some sky-high wedges to rock the new layers. Both of these are from Garnet Hill.

Finn and I have pondered the purchase of a Le Creuset dutch oven for years now and can never bring ourselves to pull the trigger. Crate and Barrel’s new release of the Kobenstyle casserole dish may be our new choice. In white, of course, perfect for my favorite butternut squash and kale baked risotto.

Are you feeling the call of fall (yes, I know) yet? Anything on your wish list?

The Weekly Room

Several idea boards ago, I promised to show you how to create rooms without buying new. I have a mix of things in my home, some that I saved for and purchased new, like our sofas, but most that were found with a general idea of what I was looking for and lots of time on Craigslist and in thrift stores. I live near Chicago, which means that generally I can find pretty much anything on CL, although not always for what I want to pay. I thought it would be fun to start a weekly feature where I search CL and show you what I would choose for a specific room. For now I’m searching the Chicago CL, but I’m open to searching other cities if this is interesting.

I’m starting with the living room, as that’s the room I’ve had the most requests for. I’m also limiting myself to only one IKEA item per room as an extra challenge. Here we go.

How to furnish your living room well from Craigslist


Everything on here was found Sunday on the Chicago Craigslist. Sources for all can be found on my Pinterest board. I’ll delete items weekly, so each week will have the current sources. Total cost for the room above, including the two sofas, $1995. Pre-bargaining, if you’re good with that sort of thing.

I started this idea board with the sofa, as that sets the tone for the living room. I found two really great ones this week, the navy Jasper from Room and Board (had to pick that one as I have two in my living room) and the beige one from Crate and Barrel. Both seem to be in like new condition. The Jasper is super cheap at $250 so somebody will grab that one quick. I then found the Pottery Barn rug, which would work well with either sofa. A cute secretary (which would be even better painted, perhaps lined inside with a fun paper and with new hardware), a mid-century console, a great round coffee table and a couple of interesting chairs (including a knock-off Eames like we have upstairs) round out the options. I even found a throw pillow and table lamp. And finally for extra storage, not on the idea board, some ubiquitous IKEA Billy bookcases.

So there you go. An entire living room, furnished on the cheap with like new items. What do you think? Do you use CL and thrift stores to round out your living spaces or do you prefer to buy new? And would you like to see more posts like this?


The addition of the new rug called for some restyling in the living room. I wanted to try a couple of things – to connect the bold navy in the rug into the rest of the room and to try Emily’s rule of three patterns per sofa. So, looking at her rules of pattern mixing, with scale and color scheme, I tried a triad out on the sofa.

Stripes, floral and a geometric. Different scales, all blues.

I had the two pillows there before, as you can see in the top photo. They were ok, but the addition of the throw really brings it together.

Once the sofa was appropriately patterned, it was time to style the console. I’ve meant to do this for a while, so I thought I’d show you a bit of the process. First, I gathered up everything I was considering for the top. I wanted white, as there’s a lot of dark color and pattern in the rest of this space.

Two trays, a couple vase-type items, MM. Obtuse and Acute (oui, French owls) and the wire cubes and wooden asterisk as potential textural contrasts. I began trying things together.

Too white, too short.

I added some books, but no. Weird proportions.

Trying a lantern for height. Still no, this time too much air space.

That’s better. Corralling everything on the larger tray, adding height with books and using the asterisk and cubes for texture against the vase and tray. I’d just pushed the owls and small vase to the side, but decided I liked them on that end together too.

So, new rug, with pillow and console styling. Much more pattern going on, but the color scheme is quite simple.

Anyone else been encouraged to mix patterns lately? What do you think of this new trend?

Anatomy of a Room: Kitchen Organization

Oh kitchen organization. What is it about the kitchen, and in my case, the pantry, that seems to create chaos? My kitchen has been driving me crazy for a while and yesterday I decided I’d had enough. I had a day off, my mother was in town and there was a pending block sale for extra motivation. My goal – to clear out the stuff we don’t use and make the zones more functional. We actually have a fair amount of storage in the kitchen, but it wasn’t being utilized efficiently. And I really, really wanted to get the microwave off of the counter. I hate crap on counters. Hate it with a fiery passion. So, not sure how exciting this post is, but I, being the dork I am, am always interested in how people cope with everyday organization and I’m taking a chance that some of you are too. Time will tell if this project truly creates more simplicity and function in the space, but I’m hopeful.

Here’s the before microwave close-up. See all that mess on top of it? Yeah, that’s what was driving me nuts. Our silly walls aren’t straight enough for shelves so there’s no real way to organize the tea kettle, coffee pot, etc. Creating an ugly mess in front of my lovely wallpaper. And here’s the rest of the mess I wanted to address.

Pantry, junk drawer and the drawers in the cabinet under the microwave.

I know, the pantry looks kind of organized in the photo. It wasn’t. There was a lot of empty space in the pull-out drawers and boxes and bags of baking items and prepared foods had a tendency to slip through the vents. On the other side, things were stacked behind each other so that I had to pull out the giant stock pot to get to mixing bowls and everything was higgledy-piggledy.

Our cabinets are from IKEA. Every time we go there I look through the kitchens and marvel at the organized drawers full of staples. Ours were full of dishes – a plates drawer, a kids/plastics drawer, cups and glasses and then the junk drawer(s) and the random appliances. I had all food in the “pantry”. A few weeks ago it occurred to me that even though I’d always kept the glasses and appliances near the counter, they weren’t actually needed there. Most of those glasses we use only when we have company, everyone in the family seems to prefer the melamine cups I keep with the kids plates. So why was I devoting so much space to them? And do I really need a yoghurt maker? I’ve used it approximately 6 times. My kids don’t like the yoghurt it makes and it’s not really that much cheaper.

So I switched the function of the cabinets. Everything came out, a bit at a time. I meant to take a photo of the mess, but in the middle of this the kids demanded lunch. Not great timing on my part.

And then, slowly, everything went back in. Well, not everything. The yoghurt maker, a bunch of expired food and several redundant containers went in the bin or the sale pile. Here’s what was left.

Food moved into the drawers, staples in one and baking items in another. Yes, yes, I had fun with the label maker. Told you I was a dork.

The pantry still has some food. The cans are the only thing that didn’t move, they are on the bottom pull out. Packaged foods are much more accessible higher up. Things that are highly used, but were always blocking each other, like the blender and mixing bowls, are now on pull out shelves. And all those glasses we never use are still close enough to grab quickly for guests, but not taking up space in the prime prep area.

And look what else that made room for. That’s right, the microwave is now in the pantry and off my counter. Hooray. I still have to drill a couple of holes for the cord, but that’s an easy project (I just ask Finn to do it). We don’t really use the microwave too much so having it in the pantry doesn’t create a major inconvenience. And check out my counter space.

I’ve got a bit of staging to do (that’s my mom’s tea in the box. Yes, she travels with her own tea, despite my own large stash), I think I’ll add some art work behind for height, but its soooo much better. And while none of us can currently find anything at all without a five-minute hunt, I think once our brains catch up this will be very functional.

So, was this interesting? Got any suggestions for future simplifications? And if you’re local and in need of a yoghurt maker, I can hook you up.

Small Changes: A New Rug

Hello there, dears, how are you?  I know, I’ve been a bit absent. Summer and all that. You too? Excellent. 

On to the great rug reveal. I know you’ve been on tenterhooks all week. Our lovely bare floors are above. We had them refinished dark a few years ago and I never see this much of them so I snapped a quick picture in between rugs. The guy who did them for us insisted that we’d hate them if we went dark and it would make the house feel tiny, but I think they turned out beautiful. They’re actually a bit darker than the photo shows, I always have to lighten things a bit so the couches don’t blend in.

Ze new rug. For the record, my family hates it. HATES it. Well, the small one hasn’t really expressed an opinion, but the rest of them have been vocal. Including my mother. Tasteless heathens, the lot of them. Pattern mixing is clearly too avant-garde for them. And considering the level of pattern mixing going on here (which is quite low), I think they’re over-reacting.

It coordinates nicely with the legos, don’t you think? I need to do a bit of console and pillow styling (and floor tidying) before I show you more photos.

I ordered this months ago with a 75% off coupon from rugs usa. They’re having another sale now, although this rug is only 35% off this time. The wait was a little painful, as I have the patience of a gnat, but if you can handle the backorder time its a great quality rug, especially for what I paid.  I hadn’t thought about the bathroom ceiling when I ordered this and as there’s another chevron upstairs I’m a little concerned this might be too much. Most people don’t go upstairs though, so hopefully it doesn’t look like I can only live with one pattern.

Hope you all had wonderful weekends. Are you gearing up for school where you are? We have another two weeks till the tall one goes back and I’m hoping to fit in some fun before then.


Coming soon …

I’m spending what little extra time I have this week for blogging doing a bit of site tweaking, adding pages, organizing, etc. But this package arrived today, after several months on back order. Any guesses as to where its going or which pattern I’ve chosen? I know, the suspense is killing you, isn’t it? Reveal next week. I can’t wait either.
Have a lovely week and a gorgeous weekend my dears. I’ll see you next week.

Anatomy of a Room: The Five Year Old Girl

Today we’re going to look at plans to redo this bedroom for a five-year old girl. To illustrate her wishes for the room, Leah, like any other five-year old, drew me a picture. It was pink, teal and purple stripes. Her mother was less than enthused with the plan. So how to take this to something workable? Well since I’ve already worked with one client that demanded everything be purple and another who wanted rainbow with extra green, I felt fairly sure I was up to the challenge.

The color scheme, via Leah.

Which I translated from stripes to teal walls, purple dresser & headboard, pink accents. Trim, ceiling and closet doors remain cream.

The furniture plan. Sharon wanted much more storage in a style that would grow with her daughter, as well as a desk for craft projects and later homework. Seating for friends, a comfy family reading chair and a soft rug completed the needs assessment. So here’s the plan. I’ve placed a headboard and dresser similar to what she has in the idea board, as both are staying. They’re white now, but will be painted purple.

The dresser stays in the little nook, shown below, while two large bookshelves will replace the small white one currently in the space. The desk will go between the two bookshelves. The dark wood of the bookshelves and desk will help ground the brighter colors in the space and provide a space for the eye to rest. The bed moves to the far corner and sits on an angle, so the reading chair can move near the closet. Leaving plenty of floor space for playing, slumber parties and lots of fun. A soft rug in a bright color finishes things off.

And then a ton of accessories.

Fun wall art, some decals to brighten up the closet doors, plenty of little hooks jewelry, fun suitcases for the polly pockets, colorful bins for the stuffed animals that seem to multiply during the night. Leah was a little (ok a lot) worried when the wall color was just teal, no stripes, but I think all these bright colors in the bedding and accessories, not to mention the painted furniture, will create a space that’s both uniquely her and one that her mom can stand to see every morning. We’ll be on a shopping and painting spree this month and I hope to show you the completed space in September (what?).

What do you think, could you go this bright in your child’s room? Sharon has two spaces I’m planning for her,  later this week we’ll look at her son Danny’s much more subdued space.


Sources for everything on my Pinterest board.

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