Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Living/Dining Room Update

We're supposed to get a big snow storm today.  Yippee!  I'm one of those freaks who actually likes the snow so it would be nice to have a little white stuff on the ground before we welcome spring.

A couple of things to share with you today.  The first is, WE'RE LEAD FREE.  Yeaaaah.  That just makes everything so much better.  We get a nice little certificate and everything.  We're scheduled to start demo on our den on Monday (ahhh!) so things should start moving pretty quickly.  I have to pick out tile for the fireplace this week so that will be a fun little project.

Secondly, I told you I would share pictures of the improvements that we've made to our living and dining rooms. WARNING:  These are not blow your socks off kind of changes, but a little paint and some curtains goes a long way. 



We painted the walls Benjamin Moore Light Pewter in eggshell finish.  The trim and windows are Benjamin Moore White. The curtains are from West Elm, but they're no longer available.  That was a whole other story.  Stupid me only ordered 6 of the 10 panels I needed to dress all of our windows, the thought process being that 1) I wanted to see if I liked them first and 2) I may not want to put curtains on every window.  I thought I would order more later if I wanted to.  Well, bad idea.  After hanging the curtains a month after I ordered them, I quickly realized I did need curtains on all the windows so I went online to order them and they were GONE.  Panic mode set in immediately.  What was I going to do?  I contemplated cutting the existing ones in half, but that would be scary.  My genius husband suggested that I call West Elm and tell them my problem.  I did and lucky for me a store in Connecticut had exactly 4 panels left that they were able to ship to me next day.  Talk about luck.  

The lamps are from Pottery Barn and they were originally intended for our bedroom, but they're kind of ginormous for bedside lamps. They work out really well in the living room instead.   There's another story with this purchase.  I ordered them online  as well.  They sat in boxes for about a month before I opened them and when I started putting them together there were no lamp shades to be found.  What the heck??  How did I miss that they didn't come with lamp shades?  So, I had to place another order for the darn lamp shades and hope they matched the picture online. Luckily it was successful, but more expensive than I was planning.


We haven't added or gotten rid of any furniture yet.   Baxter's couch will be the first to go.  I don't have the heart to take it away from him yet.  He LOVES it.

Moving on to the dining room.

Not a lot has changed since I showed it to you last.  You might recall it was looking like this after we hung the curtains:

I upholstered the dining room chairs and turned the table:

Also, the Ikea sideboard got a new coat of paint.



While I loved the brightness of the yellow, it was too much yellow for such a small space.  It was all you saw when you walked into the room.  I opted to go with a gray/blue instead.

Next on the list is to replace this chandelier:

Does anyone have any suggestions?

So that's what I've been up to.  Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!  Anyone recovering from a case of the Mondays?

{Image via here}

Just a few random things to share with you today and then I'm off this bad boy (AKA my Mac) to do my homework.   YES, I have homework. BUT, it's fun homework.  I get to make a collage :) When I finished my Masters I swore I would never take another class again and lookame now.  I guess I'm a student at heart.

So, random things (in no particular order):

  1. Lead test guy is coming over today to check every inch of our house for lead paint.  Wish us luck!  Not only will it save us a bundle on the reno if we're lead free, we'll also be able to rest assured that we're not poisoning our unborn children.  Scary stuff.
  2. Floor guy is coming over as well.  He's going to take a look at the floors and let us know if the quote he supplied us just by looking at pictures matches up with what he sees in person.
  3. I revamped my website (incase you didn't notice) and I like it a lot better.  What do you think?  I did away with the 2 sidebars and moved to 1 because it was becoming too cluttered.  I also figured out how to put those cool Facebook, Pinterest, and RSS buttons on there.  Did I mention I'm taking a web design class too?  Yup, I am. 
That's all folks.  Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with some pics of our updates in the living room and dining room.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Creating a Mood Board

This weekend I used Photoshop Elements to create a mood board for our master bedroom.  Once I got the hang of the Magnetic Lasso Tool, it was smooth sailing.  If you use Photoshop, you know what I'm talking about.  We already own the seagrass stools, the seagrass headboard, the rug, and the side tables.  I found the rest of the items online and they're inspiration for what I'm looking for.   I'm going to shop around and see if I can find similar, less expensive options.  

I'm trying to create a calm, peaceful, somewhat beachy space (without putting starfish everywhere).  

It was real fun to put together and it's a great way to test which things go together and which don't.  It also helps you get an idea of what the final product will look like.  Here's a list of the items I included in my mood board.

  1. You Are My Sunshine wall art - Boston Interiors
  2. Blue Grass paint - Benjamin Moore
  3. Square Mirror - White Geometric - Boston Interiors
  4. Seagrass Stool - Pottery Barn
  5. Savannah Utility Cabinet - Linen White - Boston Interiors
  6. Antique Mercury Glass Bedside Lamp - Pottery Barn
  7. Colette Paisley Pillow Cover -  Pottery Barn
  8. Annandale Jute Rug - Home Decorators
  9. Home Window Sheer - Heavy Cream - Target
  10. Julia Bedside Table - Pottery Barn
  11. Seagrass Headboard - Pottery Barn

Friday, February 24, 2012

Holy Chevron

Chevron is in.  Big Time.  Even if you don't think you know what chevron is, you've seen it.

{Image via}

Yup, that's it.

What do you think?  Do you like it?

It's turning up on pillows

{Image via}

On rugs

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On beds

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On DOG beds

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On shower curtains

{Image via}

I'm really drawn to it and every time I see something in that pattern, I think "I have to have it."  But so far I've resisted buying anything chevron (mostly because it doesn't really match any of my decor yet), and I'm a little worried that it's a fad - here now and gone tomorrow. BUT, I do love the bold pattern and the contrast of colors. Who knows?  A little chevron could be showing up in one of my "after" picks sometime soon.  Speaking of "after" pics, I made some great progress in the living room.  The walls, windows, and trim are painted and new curtains are hung (well, almost all of them).  I can't wait to share the improvements with you soon!  

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kitchen Renovation - Selecting Materials

Are you contemplating a kitchen renovation?  If you are, you might be thinking "where do I start?".  My mom is redoing her kitchen and when she had to pick out finishes she was overwhelmed by the abundance of choices available to her.  You probably have a vision of what you want your kitchen to look like, but how do you actually get it to look like that?
{Image via}

Last night I learned 7 steps to pick out finishes for your kitchen. Hopefully they come in handy.

      1. Choose your cabinet color and style
      2. Choose your appliance colors
      3. Choose your countertops
      4. Select flooring
      5. Select a backsplash
      6. Pick a wall color
      7. Pick your hardware and fixtures

You can save number 7, "Pick your hardware and fixtures" for last or you can select them when you're picking out your appliance colors, whichever seems more natural to you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We're doing the den!

In about 2 weeks we're going to tackle our first reno.  Well, we're hiring someone to do it for us.  Woo hoo!  You might remember this post here about our wish list for our den remodel and that our den currently looks something like this:

 Icky poo poo.

Well, in about a month I'm hoping our fireplace looks more like this:

And that our walls have a lot less of this:

We're also having all of the hardwood floors in our house refinished and stained at the same time.  I can't wait!  We can finally start putting some area rugs down.  

One little problemo that we have to deal with before we can start is lead paint.  Law says that if your home was built prior to 1978 and a lead paint certified contractor is doing work for you, you need to test for lead paint or assume there is lead paint and follow strict EAP guidelines.  We were told that our home was built in 1978 so when we bought the house we opted not to do a lead test.  Now it looks like the home was transferred to the previous owners (who had the house built) on 01/01/1978 which means that the house was probably built in 1977.  Sneaky little devils.  If we were to do the reno ourselves without testing there'd be no problem for us, but because we're having a contractor do it, he could get in big trouble if he doesn't play by the rules.  So, we're gonna test for lead and cross our fingers that the results come back negative.  If they come back positive, that'll mean more $$ for the reno and hazmat suits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Since I've been on a role sharing cool websites,  I thought I'd add another one to the list. If you know me, you know that I enjoy cooking and LOVE eating so I was psyched when I came across this website. It's called and if you like to cook or like to eat, you'll enjoy it too. You can create your own personalized cookbook using your very own recipes or search through their database to find recipes you like. You can also upload your own food photos or use the ones in their template. How cool is that? This seems like it would make a fantastic gift. Heck, I want to make one for myself. Has anyone tried Tastebook yet?

{Image courtesy of Tastebook}

Monday, February 20, 2012

Houzz your daddy?

Why hello Monday.  You showed up pretty quickly.  Hopefully today is a holiday for you and if it's not, sorry. :(  The hubby and I are recovering from a quick trip to NYC to celebrate a friend's birthday.  So much fun!  I love getting together with my college friends.  A trip to NYC is not complete without gorging on all the delicious food they have there and this weekend was no exception.  We went to Almond and Birreria and both were equally awesome.  If you're ever in NYC I recommend trying both.

On the way home Jake was driving and I was bored so I started reading email on my phone and I came across an email that I received from Houzz and I realized that I have to share Houzz with you.  If you like Pinterest (especially the DIY and home decor categories, like me) you will also like Houzz (  It's a website dedicated to home design and it's awesome.  You can create an account and design Ideabooks using tons of photos from designers.  I've noticed that a lot of the photos that turn up here turn up on Pinterest too, and vice versa.  Here's one photo I have on my Pinterest board that I also saw on Houzz:

Isn't that just the cutest idea?

But anyways, I digress.  What caught my eye today was this post here about finding your design style.  I realize that I haven't really defined what my design style is, and I'm still not 100% sure.  There are elements of almost all design styles that I like, but this post helped point me in a direction.  The style I'm most drawn to is "cottage" which is described in this article as being "cheerful, laid back, and welcoming, cottage style feels like a giant hug."  Yea, I can go for that.

These examples of cottage are right up my alley (all images courtesy of Houzz):

If I could mix a little "eclectic" with the cottage, I think that might just be perfect.  How about you?  what's your design style?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kitchen Redesign Update

It's Thursday, anybody thirsty? :)  If you recently graduated college, you will understand this (and by recent I mean in the past 6 years). Gawd I'm getting old.  Actually I had a little too much red wine last night so I have a little bitty headache this morning.  No biggie though.

Last night's class was great.  We had a guest speaker from Plaistow Cabinet Company and it was super educational.  All the kitchen jargon made my head spin a little, but I tried to take it all in.  A few weeks ago, I created this post about a field trip I took with my mom and stepdad to pick out materials for their kitchen remodel.  I mentioned that engineered quartz was becoming a big contender to granite because of its durability and low porosity (big word), and that's true, but I'm also learning that when it comes to countertops everyone has their own opinion about what works best.  So don't go getting rid of your granite!  Ha, like you would ever do that.  My mother-in-law is redoing her kitchen and they went with granite.  She was told they could put a sealer on it that would last for years, so no annual resealing.  The guest speaker affirmed that granite can now be sealed and guaranteed for 15 years.  I have granite now and have not touched it since we moved in so I'm hoping we have that 15 year seal thing going on, but so far so good.  My mom and stepdad opted to go with the engineered quartz so I'm interested to see how that works for them.  I was cautioned not to put Corian in a kitchen because it is a softer material and would wear more easily, but I have no experience with it.

My classmates and instructor had a chance to look at the kitchen redesign I showed you yesterday. Here are the drawings again:


I wanted to see if I could use software to make the floor plan look a little crisper. I found a website called that has FREE design software and came up with these sketches pretty quickly:

Pretty cool, huh?  The finishes and appliances are not perfect and some of the dimensions on the cabinets and windows are off, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what the space would look like.  I'm in love with the new breakfast bar.  I have to have it!  Sadly, I will have to wait.  Den remodel, painting,  updating the bathrooms, and furnishing the rest of the house all comes first.  We should get a quote for our den remodel project this week.  If you missed that post, check it out here.  I'm bracing myself for that sticker shock.  Refacing the fireplace and redoing the drywall quickly turned into adding built-ins, recessed lighting, mounting the TV on the fireplace, and adding surround sound.  Yikes!  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kitchen Redesign

One of my homework assignments for class was to draw a rough floor plan of my kitchen as it currently is and another of what it would look like if I could redesign it.  This was a great assignment for me because I  want to redesign our kitchen at some point, but it's last on the to-do list.

Here are some photos of our kitchen now:

Clearly the previous owners have updated it since 1978 and everything is really great quality, it's just not our style.  I dream of white cabinets, stainless steel appliances, gray marble or granite countertops, a new backsplash, range hood, flooring and lighting fixtures.  All of that would be wonderful, but my biggest pet peeve about the kitchen is not necessarily the decor, but the layout.  See that island there.  Islands are great, right?  Yes, they are, but not in this kitchen.  My guess is the previous owners wanted an island so badly that they did what they could to squeeze it in, but it really doesn't fit.  At all.  If you open the dishwasher, or the trash cabinet, someone can't get by.  If you open the oven, someone can't get by.  I can't stand on the left side of the dishwasher and unload the glasses to the upper cabinet on the right side without a) closing the dishwasher or b) walking around the island.  And, there's no room for seating at the island, except for one seat at the end.  There's some room for a small table in front of the sliding doors, but we haven't found anything we like that won't make it feel really cramped.  I've since learned that there should be 42" between the counter and the island so that people have space to walk through.  We have 31.5".  Must be why we're feeling cramped.  You should also leave 30-48" in front of appliances so the doors can be opened and you can walk in front of them.  Hmm, that's our other problem. When the stove is open, we have 12" and when the dishwasher is open 5" or 6" if I'm being generous (it's running now so  I can't check).

So, I came up with a solution that I think will work.  Fingers crossed.  Here's a rough floor plan of our kitchen as it is now (I'm sorry, you'll have to use your imagination :)):

And here's a rough sketch showing my redesign:

Here's what I did:

1) Remove island
2) Add new cabinets and counter with seating
3) Remove sliding doors and add a window and a single door in their place
4) Remove cabinet to the right of the stove and add open shelving in its place (this will free up counter space as well because the current cabinet meets the countertop)

What do you think?  I think it solves the space issues we've been having and gives us a place to eat in the kitchen.

Let's talk budget.  Realistically, I have no idea how much this would cost, but I'm hoping the whole project could be done for $15k - $20k (this includes replacing flooring and appliances, painting existing cabinets white, replacing countertops and backsplash, adding new cabinets for breakfast bar, and changing the sliding doors).  I might be living in la la land, but we'll see.  I'm hoping that keeping the existing cabinets will save a bundle.  They are in great shape and are really functional with slide-outs and built-ins, so it would be a waste to get rid of them.   Hopefully I'll get to develop an estimate during class.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baxter's new page

Is it me, or are these weeks flying right by?  Can't believe it's Monday again.  I'm happy to announce that due to popular demand Baxter now has his very own "About Baxter" page.  Be sure to check it out! You'll find some fun facts about Baxter and a really cute picture.  If there's anything I left out about the Baxman that you want to know, let me know.  Have a great day!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Online shopping anyone?

Baxter and I just got back from a great hike in the state forest behind our house.  So totally awesome to be able to walk out the back door and have hiking trails at our feet (except for when they are tick infested in the summer.  Eww).

The Baxman got a ton of energy out which was great since he was literally bouncing off the walls from being cooped up in the house yesterday.  He arrived back home with his tongue hanging out and to the side.  That's the universal sign for "man, you pooped me out.  I might actually sleep now."

I wanted to get a quick post out before I head into WORK today.  Don't get too excited.  It's not a new job or anything.  I'm going back to my old company to help out with some training.

Last night was my first day BACK TO SCHOOL. Yay!  The class I'm taking is Kitchen and Bath Redesign.  It's only a 4 week class, but hopefully I can learn the basics of kitchen and bath remodel (cost, materials, timeframe, etc.).  A lot of the students in the class have done their own remodels already so they had some good suggestions.  I found out about a couple of websites that I hadn't heard of before and I wanted to share them with you.  If you already shop here than you are wayyy ahead of me.

1.  Lighting Universe ( - Great selection of chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces, lamps - you name it.  Much more to choose from than just shopping at Lowe's or Home Depot.  The instructor said that the cost is good too - much less expensive than the specialty lighting stores.  I'm thinking about buying a couple of ceiling lights from here.  I'll let you know how the experience is.  Also, the Universe has expanded to include rugs, furniture, hardware, etc.

2.  Lee Valley ( - Good selection of hardware for cabinets and furniture.  I was told that quality and price are good.

That's all today, folks.  Almost Friday :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Caulk Fight

Yesterday my plan was to finish painting the living room, but that project got held up.  I know, I know, it's a trend.  But it's not what you're thinking.  I got caught in the middle of a caulk fight.  For real.

When the contractor was here last week, Jake asked him what we could do to make the crown molding look a little more new and a little less old.

Exhibit A:

Icks?  Right?

Enter this guy:

This is siliconized acrylic caulk.  I had originally bought it to fill some of the cracks between the windows and the window frames, but it is perfect for this project and just what the contractor recommended.  You can use it for interior or exterior and it's paintable (very important).  The back of the package says it can be used on window and door frames, siding, TRIM, vents, baseboards, corner joints, ducts, eves, and air conditioners.  Yea, that about covers it I think.

Before I could begin caulking, I had to do some cleanup first.  Out with the old caulk and in with the new caulk.  That was fun to say :).  The contractor recommended that I use a knife to scrape off the old caulk, paint, and drywall that was clumpy or crumbling.  For lack of a better tool,  I used this pocket knife:

It worked okay, but if you try this, don't press down too hard or you risk cutting into the wood a little.

Once I had all of the "old stuff" removed, I applied a line of caulk along the seams between the molding and the wall and the molding and the ceiling.  I used a damp towel to wipe off any excess and smooth it out, and then I let it dry.  The instructions on the package say to let the caulk dry for 2 hours before painting it with latex paint.   I let it dry overnight and today I'm ready to start painting it.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New day

Okay, I'm feeling a LOT better since my last post and have snapped out of my funk.  Don't you just hate those kinda days??   Thank you to my friends and family who sent me such nice and encouraging messages!  It really helped me bring my mood up.  Ski weekend with the fam was soooo much fun!  I want to go back.  Wahhh.  The weather was great, the company even better, and the food my Mom made all weekend was delicious.  She's such a good cook.  :)  I won't mention the only bad part of the weekend, ya know, that event that occurred on Sunday evening.  :(

Soo, it's Tuesday today which feels like my Monday since we didn't get home until yesterday afternoon.  It's time to get back to working on the house!  I mentioned in Thursday's post that we had a contractor come out on Friday to take a look at our den.  It seems that everything we want done will be possible (replacing stucco walls and wainscoting with flat drywall and crown molding, refacing the fireplace, adding built-ins, refinishing the hardwood floors) - just not sure at what cost.  It'll be a couple of weeks before we get a quote.  We're also getting a quote to see how much it would be to refinish and stain ALL of the hardwood floors in our house.  It's definitely something we want to do sooner rather than later.  It's a big messy project and I'd rather have it done now when my house looks like a disaster than later when everything is looking nice and pretty (knock on wood).  Today I am FINALLY going to work on finishing my living room paint job.  I've been staring at those walls, windows, and trim for so long now and they refuse to paint themselves, so I guess it's up to me.  Have a happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Feeling the blues

Yesterday was kinda rough.  I'm not gonna lie.  I was at home with Baxter (per usual) and I had a list of projects to tackle, a house that I could clean, taxes I could start, a gym membership that I could use (there were no shortage of things for me to do), but I just didn't want to do any of it.  I wanted to curl up in my bed and sleep, or sit on the couch and watch Real Housewives and eat cookies.  I was anxious, panicked, depressed. :(  This was my first moment since I left my job where I felt like "What the hell have I done?"  I felt lost, useless and unimportant and I was filled with doubt.  I finished my chair project, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, vacuumed, and tried not to cry.  Jake called me around 6 PM when he was leaving work, and I lost it.  Cry me a river.  I started sputtering about how I was worried that I would never be any good at this interior design thing.  I mean, I'm not educated about it, and the classes I'm going to take at the community college weren't going to help all that much.  Who was going to hire me? I would surely have to take an entry-level job, and would my Masters degree deter people from hiring me for an entry-level position?  Should I go back to financial planning?  Were there even any jobs in financial planning?  Should I just be a stay-at-home wife because being a stay-at-home mom was in my not so distant future?  Did I even want to be a stay-at-home mom?   And as I'm saying all these things and crying and feeling bad for myself, I feel even worse because I think of all the people who go to work every day doing jobs they hate because they HAVE to.  And they might wish they could take time off or be a stay-at-home mom or dad, and they can't.  I HAVE options, and I'm crying. God, I'm such a HUGE brat.  We went to dinner and talked some, but the night ended in a blowout fight.  I was just in that kind of mood - he couldn't avoid it.  We haven't fought like that in such a long time.  It was horrible.  Nothing was going to fix this day except for a good night's sleep and a clear mind.  So, we went to bed.

Today the sun is shining, Jake has the day off, and we're getting ready to head off to Loon Mountain for a weekend of skiing and birthday celebrations with my family.  Today is a good day, and it will be a great weekend.  I am blessed, I am happy, and I have options.  Just need to take it one day at a time.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Den remodel

Hello!  I want you to meet our den.  He's one hot mess, but a comfortable one.

The best part is the textured walls paired with the wainscoting.  Ooh nice, huh?

So, you've probably figured out by my sarcasm that we're not really in love with this room.  Well, Jake might be (large flat screen TV and big leather couches), but it's not doing it for me.  I've wanted to replace the walls with flat drywall since we've moved in, but it's definitely one of those projects that's too big for us to handle ourselves.  I'd also like to have the fireplace refaced.  Until those two things are done, we're kind of at a standstill.  We bought the couches and rug when we moved in, and they're gonna stay along with the beloved flatscreen.  Pretty much everything else is gonna go and we need to add a coffee table, end tables, new lighting, new window treatments, etc.   Well, we might finally be able to get started on this! We're having a contractor come out to look at the room tomorrow and I can't wait!  We spend 75% of our time in this room, so it will be nice to have it done.  I'd like to reface the top half of the fireplace with drywall and then build a frame around the bottom half and add glass tile around the insert.  I'm envisioning something like this:

On another note, the dining room chairs are complete.  Woo hoo!  Best part - If I get sick of the fabric, it would be super easy to change it up.

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