Living Room Before and After

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Alright, I’m callin’ it. After several years of trial and error, the living room area is finished! Ready for a little reveal tour?modern eclectic living room makeover
Here’s how the living room area looked a few years back when we bought our house. It’s a perfectly nice little living room and I’m sure many folks would be happy to have a space like this. But over the years our style, needs, and (let’s be honest), budget have grown and this space along with it.

The first big change we made was addressing our need for a TV entertainment center, something that would fill the wall space and provide functional storage. I found a cool pair of vintage shelves on Craigslist and Jesse morphed them into this amazing wall unit.
modern eclectic living room makeover
Last summer, we hit the estate sale Holy Grail when we found an imitation Eames lounge chair and ottoman. I always laugh when a guest sits in that chair for the first time. It’s usually something like, “Whoa! This chair is comfortable!” and I can tell by their big eyes and surprised tone they probably want to add “I thought it was just a goofy looking chair!”  It’s not in the best shape, so I’d love to have it cleaned up and re-upholstered some day. Or maybe invest in the real deal. Someday. Until the basement rec is finished, this is our main hang out space, so nothing is too expensive or precious for two big dogs and a four year old to enjoy.
modern eclectic living room makeover

modern eclectic living room makeover
After we added the lounge chair and ottoman, I struggled with what to do for a coffee table. Oh man, I struggled. I tried the black planter (see it in the corner?) turned over as a table, the original upholstered ottoman, a wooden toy chest, and a vintage coffee table we had stored in the basement. Eventually, I decided the vintage table would work but it was too long. So, naturally, I took it apart and Jesse used trimmed it down using a table saw. Unfortunately, cutting it revealed the top to be made of particle board, so instead of messing with new veneer and stain, I slapped a few coats of glossy white spray paint on it and “dipped” the legs with gold acrylic paint. I finished the top with two coats of clear poly-acrylic spray to prevent chips.
modern eclectic living room makeoverThe sofa probably isn’t what I’d buy today mainly because I don’t like how the cushions are all attached. No flipping them over for even wear. I think my dream sofa would be an impractical teal velvet chesterfield. I made all of the toss pillows, including a couple from an upcycled serape blanket. I think I’ve made roughly two million toss pillows over the years. 
modern eclectic living room makeover
The rest of the living room additions and changes are really just things we’ve collected from estate sales and thrift stores. A few of my particular favorites are the brass tension pole lamp that I painted black and the mid-century hobby painting I found a few weeks ago. I’m always drooling over the options on One King’s Lane, so I about fell over when I found this one. 
modern eclectic living room makeover

modern eclectic living room makeover

modern eclectic living room makeover

I love this space so, so much. I feel like it really captures our love of old and new finds, creative projects and elbow grease. If home is where the heart is, this is definitely home. 
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The ONE Thing You NEED to Pack for Disney

The One Thing You Need to Pack For Disney

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Travel writing isn’t really my niche, but we are heading to Disney World in a few weeks (yaassss, vacation!!!) and since I’ve been there a bunch of times and basically lived there for six months during an internship, I thought I might have a tip or two worth sharing(?) So, I will get right to my first tip, which is the one thing you need to bring if you visit Disney World and why. Drum roll please….

You must bring a RAIN JACKET!!! Yeah, I know, it seems like a silly thing, but hear me out.   
It rains at Disney World. A lot. In my experience, long gloomy days are rare, however, frequent short downpours can happen several times throughout the day. So you and everyone in your party needs to bring a good rain jacket. Now, let’s talk about what a “good” rain jacket means, and a couple tips on buying. Brace yourself while I put on my “outdoorsy gal” hat and get a smidge technical. Here is a photo of the Marmot jacket I’m taking to Disney World. 
packing a rain jacket for disney
This rain jacket is made of lightweight, breathable, waterproof material and has taped (waterproof) seams. Breathable means the high tech fabric the jacket is made of keeps water droplets out, but lets water vapor escape. So, during a downpour on a hot day, the jacket sheds rain while allowing your sweat vapor to escape, keeping you comfortable and dry. 
Good Rain Jacket:
– breathable, waterproof fabric
– taped seams for extra waterproof-ness
– lightweight and pack-able.
– zippered, waterproof pockets
– hood
– durable
– reusable
– spendy (there are ways around this, we’ll get to that in a minute)
Let’s compare these features to the yellow or clear plastic ponchos available everywhere at Disney World.
Park Rain Poncho 
– Non-breathable plastic, which means you’ll get all sweaty under there
– Awkward arm flappy things, water still gets in if you lift up your arms.
– no pockets
– hood
– can rip or tear easily
– disposable
– inexpensive
Now, about the budget. Brand new quality jackets are spendy and will set you back about sixty for kids and a hundred plus for adults. Yikes. I know. However, if you plan ahead, used jackets are widely available for both kids and adults. Personally, I plan to wait for a big kids consignment sale that starts next week to look for B’s jacket. If I don’t find one there, I’ll check ebay or poshmark, and as last resort, I’ll buy one brand new. Jackets for the whole family will definitely add to the budget but, to me, rain jackets that will keep everyone more comfortable and can also be worn at home, are a worthwhile investment. For sure. 
So, tell me what you think about this post. Good info? Boring? Stick to Home Decor? Or would you be interested in reading more travel related tips once in a while?
UPDATE 3.17.15: I went to the consignment sale last night and hit the jackpot! I found this great Lands End kids rain jacket in B’s size for only five bucks! It has taped seams, a hood, pockets, and he’ll be able to use it all season, not just for Disney World. Woot!
Why you need a rain jacket for Disney world

DIY Felt iPad or Tablet Case

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Two posts in one weekend?! It must be the warm weather because I’ve been all kinds of productive. During B’s nap today, I made this smart lookin’ iPad sleeve in about an hour (including snapping photos). I’m not too keen on the protective case we have, but there’s nothing wrong with it so buying a new one would be silly. Instead, I made a new felt sleeve using supplies I had on hand, including a leftover button from B’s chalkboard towel (they come in packages of two). So, really, it was practically free and super simple. If you can cut a piece of felt and use a needle and thread, you can make this sleeve!

easy diy felt ipad sleeve - sewing tutorialSupplies:
Black elastic
Wood buttons
Black thread
Felt – I found a yard of high quality wool felt at a thrift store a while back. Seriously, you never know what you’ll find while thriftin’!

How to make a felt ipad or tablet case
How to make a felt ipad or tablet case
1. Measure and cut a 22″ x 9″ piece of gray felt, then fold it over about two thirds, making a “pocket” for your iPad or tablet.

2. Machine stitch along the edges with black thread. If you don’t have a machine, a simple hand sewn blanket stitch along the edges would look great, too!
How to make a felt ipad or tablet case

3. Cut a 22″ piece of black elastic, fold it in half, position the ends in the middle and use a needle and thread to sew in place.

4. Sew a wood button over the elastic ends.
DIY felt iPad or Tablet CaseDIY felt iPad or Tablet Case

DIY felt iPad or Tablet Case

Patent Drawing Art – Plus Free Download!

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I’ve been working on B’s room and I’m so close to calling it finished! We bought a gorgeous wool rug a few days ago, and this weekend, Jesse helped me put together this little wall art project using patent drawings. The drawings were FREE and easy to locate because of a handy dandy Google tool that searches the U.S. Patent Office archives. Patent drawings are available for just about everything, so you could do sets for cycling enthusiasts, furniture fanatics, rock climbers…so many possibilities!

Woodworking Patent Drawing Art - Free Download

Supplies:
Patent Drawings (free downloads below) printed on 11 x 17 paper
Three pieces of 1/2 inch plywood cut to 12 x 18
Spray adheseve, I used Elmer’s Multi-purpose Craft Bond
Picture hanging kit (optional)

First, I found patent drawings for three common woodworking tools: a coping saw, a hand plane and a set of chisels.  Once I had the images I did some very basic photo editing to remove a couple of black lines, straighten and re-size them. I printed them on 11 x 17 paper, but the drawings I formatted would also work on 8.5 x 11.
Woodworking Patent Drawing Art - Free Download

Jesse cut three plywood pieces and lightly sanded the edges to remove any splinters. Then, he used a forstner bit to drill two holes about two inches apart, followed by a dovetail router bit to carve out the center to make a notch for the wall screw to grab. He likes to get all fancy with the woodwork, but you could just use a picture hanging kit, too. Nothin’ wrong with that. 

Woodworking Patent Drawing Art - Free Download

I used Elmer’s Craft Bond to adhere the drawings to the plywood. The adhesive is repositionable for the first minute or so and dries to a permanent hold. I recommend using it on the floor with a towel or something spread underneath because the over spray is kind of a paint to clean up.
Woodworking Patent Drawing Art - Free Download

Woodworking Patent Drawing Art - Free Download

I love, love, love these and can’t wait to hang them above the book ledges in B’s room! If you are feeling crafty and want to try this yourself, I’ve turned the coping sawhand plane and chisels into free downloads. Just click the links and enjoy!  Not feeling super crafty, but still want a set of these? I’ll make a set and ship it straight to ya, just visit my newly opened Etsy shop!

Thrifted Mirror Gallery Wall

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The natural lighting in our house is not so great. The main reason is because we have two giant maple trees, one in the backyard and one in the front. I’m not complaining, they are beautiful old trees that keep the house shaded during the summer, and I’m sure a bunch of happy squirrel and bird families live in them, but they also make the house a bit dark. 
thrifted mirror gallery wall
So, last summer, I started looking into ways to add more light and it turns out one trick is to add mirrors. Lots of mirrors. Mirrors everywhere!  Oh, and you read that right. I started this project forever ago, but wasn’t happy with the results, so I abandoned it. You’ll see why in a minute.
We have a long boring wall across from our picture window so thought it would be a good spot for a bunch of mirrors to hang out and reflect light. Sorry, I like puns. Anyways, I started by gathering some thrift store mirrors and laying them out on the floor to play with the configuration. Juno tried her best to help, as usual!  
thrifted mirror gallery wall
Then I taped and sprayed the mirrors with white semi-gloss paint and primer. Once the paint was dried, we centered and hung them on the wall. Here’s what the first attempt looked like. Not enough mirrors. The gallery looked okay in tight or medium photos but in wide shots, it fell flat. To me, anyways. So I abandoned it until I could find and paint another mirror or two. 

mirror gallery wall from thrifted mirrors

A couple months down the road, we relocated a mirror from B’s room to the wall, which filled in some of the extra space. There’s not a ton of difference between the first and second attempt, but I think adding the plants and accessories to the top of the entertainment unit helped, too. 
mirror gallery wall from thrifted mirrors

mirror gallery wall from thrifted mirrors

The white frames and mirrors definitely reflect a lot of light from the picture window, so I’m pretty happy with it. I’m wondering, do you have lots of windows? Or a dark house? How do you add sunshine?
And, just for funsies, a little mirror selfie. Hey there!

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Getting Organized with a Kitchen Calendar

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Recently, our mornings have been a chaotic mess that end with me arriving to work way, way late. Part of our issue is related to living with a preschooler. I mean, he’s four, so of course he wants to “just do this one thing first,” or find a particular toy for show-and-tell, or splash around with the water while brushing his teeth, resulting in a wet shirt and last minute wardrobe change. Those slow poke distractions are part of the struggle, but I think they’d feel less irritating if I had my sh*t together to begin with. So, I’ve resolved to start waking up earlier and also to get more organized. I thought it might help to have a designated family calendar and place for writing to-do’s and shopping lists, so I put together this kitchen calendar / mini-command center.
kitchen calendar family command centerFor this project, I painted an old cork board and we mounted it beside the fridge with a chalkboard positioned below. B loves the chalkboard, he “writes” notes and grocery lists on it. Earlier today, he was wiping it off and said,”I need to move this chair so I can set my towel on it.” Hmm, good idea, kid! During his nap, I sewed a button and piece of ribbon to a cloth napkin and screwed a teacup hook into the chalkboard frame. Voila, a place to set his towel!
kitchen calendar family command center

kitchen calendar family command centerI’m hoping this little command center will help us stay organized and get out the door in a timely fashion. Fingers crossed!

P.S. – Look who snuck up on the sofa while I was taking photos! Sneaky ‘ole gal. She’s normally very camera shy so I snapped a quick photo before shooing her off.

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Wild About You – Free Printable Valentine

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Being somewhat health conscious, I’ve been encouraging candy free options for B’s preschool celebrations. For example, instead of bringing cupcakes for his birthday treat, we put together individual bags of Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn. I know, I’m that mom. Just one step away from handing out toothbrushes on Halloween! For Valentine’s day Last year, B gave out sticker sheets and we had a great time deciding which stickers were for each friend.
This year, I made these “I’m Wild About You, Valentine” cards and printed them on white card stock that we had on hand. Then I used a hole punch and string to attach a menagerie of little plastic animals to the cards. B had so much fun helping me tie the little strings and telling me which animal each friend would like best. Too cute.

I wish I could say these cards are an original idea, but there are tons of these on Pinterest, this is just my take on it. I also made a free printable version that you can download here. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Inspiration for the Basement

Our basement is a dreary, unfinished space; it’s cold, dark, and poorly lit. Maybe a little dungeon like. But, on the bright side, we have lots of room for storing our junk and once we get it fixed up a little, we’ll have a couple hundred square feet of additional living space! We started making changes a few months ago and it’s finally taking shape, but first I wanted to share our inspiration and plans. 

I love everything about this room. The black ceiling, sectional, color palette. It’s amazing.
Part of our plan includes a cozy seating space. I’ve spent hours searching but I can’t seem to find a sectional that meets my picky taste and limited price range. What’s completely silly is that I work for a huge furniture retailer and have access to employee pricing, but still can’t decide. So, yeah…..I think we’ll end up building something. I really dig this sectional made from two twin sized beds.  
I found a couple yards of this pretty fabric on sale at JoAnn. I’m not sure what I will do with it, but I love the colors and pattern, so I snatched it up! Image link is to a scuba fabric, but mine is like a heavy faux silk. I couldn’t find it on their site.
Image: JoAnn Fabrics (Please pin from original source)
Our basement bathroom is unfinished, but this image inspired me to try fixing it up on the cheap. I’ve already painted it gray, which was a big improvement and I have a few more plans. But, I dunno, it will either look rad like the bathroom below, or like lipstick on a pig! 

Jesse and I used to climb a lot and now that our kiddo is four, we want to start training and planning weekend trips again. Jesse just finished building a sweet wall / fort combo and this retreat in Japan was our inspiration.

   

As I mentioned above, we started working on the basement a couple of months ago, so a few of the items on our list are finished or “this close” to being finished. Here’s our plan for phase one of the basement, sprucing up the main room and bathroom:

Main room:
– add six ceiling lights
– paint exposed ceiling black 
– paint the cinder block walls bright white
– build a combination climbing wall, playhouse.
– paint the cement floor. 
– build a corner sectional 
– Install a small section of plank wall, hang a TV on it
Bathroom:
-paint walls
-paint floor
-install new-to-us light fixture
-new faucet
-add some type of storage
-decor including a large mirror, shower curtain, etc.

Making Room for Holiday Guests

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Every year, Jesse and I host a big Holiday party for “grown-ups” (B has a sleepover at Grandma’s). It’s a fun tradition, and a great opportunity to stay up late and drink a little too much wine! We usually have everyone pile their coats and bags in our bedroom, but this year I wanted to welcome our guests with something a little more organized. 

DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guestsOur front entry got a makeover a few months ago, with a mid century cedar storage bench, coat hooks and a wall mounted box for keys and mail. The set-up provides plenty of space for our family, but with about forty RSVPs for yes, we were going to need a few more hooks!

front entry with mid century bench, DIY coat hooks
There are two huge storage closets in the hallway. plus a smaller coat closet. We removed the doors from the large closets (you know I like to remove closet doors!), hung stamped curtains in front of one and left the other closet open. We were storing our bikes and B’s stroller in open closet, but winters are long around here and the closet needed to be painted anyways so we re-located everything to the basement. We might bring the bikes back up in the summer, depending on how often we are using them.
DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests
After cleaning out the closet, I patched a few holes and then painted it white. I needed about twenty coat hooks and the most basic option at the hardware store cost about two fifty. I was able to save on cost by using salvaged hooks from Habitat ReStore, along with a couple new and previously owned. I spray painted all the hooks black for cohesion and Jesse helped me space and mount them. I love the quirky look of the mis-matched coat hooks, plus I saved about twenty bucks!

DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests

Once the hooks were mounted, I added our Bertoia chair along with some inexpensive accessories. The gold wreath was an estate sale find and the brass coat hangers are vintage as well. My dad has some antique brass coat check tags which would have been super fun to hang on the hooks, but he wouldn’t hand ’em over…I’m going to keep bugging him about it!
DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests

DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests
DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests
DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests
DIY coat closet makeover for holiday guests

Our house is relatively small, but I feel very lucky to have these extra closets for flexible storage space! Where do you ask guests to put their things when you host? I grew up putting them on a designated bed, is that just a Midwest thing?

Christmas Traditions Tour – A Kid Friendly Tree!

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I was so excited when Rachel at Like a Saturday asked me to participate in her annual Holiday Blog Tour! This year’s theme is “Christmas Traditions” so I thought it would be fun to share our new tradition of putting a kid friendly tree in B’s room! If you are stopping by via Delineate Your Dwelling, and are planning to make some of Amy’s yummy spritz cookies, please feel free to send a batch to me!

We had so much fun decorating a Christmas tree in B’s room last year that we decided to make it a tradition. I thought about doing a retro tinsel tree, but after spotting a couple of Scandinavian style dowel trees on Pinterest, I was smitten. I showed Jesse the pictures and he was able to whip this up in a couple of hours. I tell ya, I really don’t know how I got so lucky. It’s like living with a genie!

Wooden Dowel Kids Christmas Tree, Retro Engineering Print

We wanted the tree to be colorful and kid friendly (i.e. inexpensive non-breakable ornaments); so we used a mix of homemade, pre-owned and Target ornaments. Last year, we filled a bunch of clear plastic ornaments with brightly colored pom poms. This year, we had a great time squirting paint into ornaments and shaking them up to make pretty abstract spheres – a fun weeknight art project!

Wooden Dowel Kids Christmas Tree, Retro Engineering PrintAfter the dowel tree was finished and decorated, I thought it would be fun to add something holiday themed to the wall above the book ledges. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time crafting something, so I searched Pinterest for vintage holiday prints and landed on this cute vintage Santa and Rudolph. A quick trip to Staples for an extra large engineering print (only eight bucks!) and we were finished!Wooden Dowel Kids Christmas Tree, Retro Engineering Print

B loves showing off his tree to guests and telling them all about the ornaments we’ve made. I hope this remains a tradition for many years to come!
Side note: I want to make a woodworking tutorial for the dowel tree(we took a few photos), but we have been so crunched for time lately, it might be July before it posts!
The next stop on the tour is Christmas Eve fondue with Sarah at Life on Virginia Street, check it out! Here is a list of all the fabulous Christmas Tradition posts from the tour, Happy Holidays!


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