There Will Always Be More To Do.

Do it, so you can do it again.

We’re quickly approaching the one year mark and are still unable to say that one room is “finished” so I can relate to those who feel overwhelmed and who have lost hope in their home decorating abilities. Yet for some reason, I remain dedicated and more motivated than ever when it comes to our home.  I know it’s a process and you can’t always get to everything but I actually look forward to the point where I can say, “Oh – this is done?  Let’s do it again!” 🙂  Just don’t tell my husband I said that.

When you move into a house, an almost immediate need is for an area that can be used and enjoyed, not just by the home-dwellers themselves but by friends and family as well.  Despite everyone’s best intentions, that space usually ends up being the kitchen. I’m sure you’re familiar with those parties where everyone crowds in the kitchen while the inviting chairs and cozy couches in the next room, remain uninhabited.  I always wondered why that was but when I stop to think about it, one of my main sources of happiness is food so……it kind of makes sense.   Our kitchen however, with it’s tiny square footage, lack of seating and not much counter space doesn’t have a chance in hell of stealing our living room’s thunder.  So by default, our “go to” space is the living room.

Our living room has been mostly done for a while now because we were eager for that “go to” space.  Unfortunately, the space we had to work with posed problems when trying to decide on the layout of the furniture.  With its modest size and long narrow shape, “How practically, comfortable could we possibly make it?” was my biggest, most constant nagging concern.

We are lucky enough to have a working, wood burning fireplace, which was on my “must have” list when searching for a home.  Last winter, it was warm and inspiring despite the lack of warmth and inspiration of the room. It’s wrapped by a simple white mantle that I absolutely love and that in most spaces would be the perfect focal point – just not ours.  Turning our furniture towards the mantle would cut off the openness of our space and would create havoc when trying to maneuver from room to room. It would also force us to place the TV above it, which would place a major strain on our necks and would take away from the mantle’s aesthetic appeal.  We had to come up with something else but turning our seating away from the fireplace didn’t feel right. What is the point of having a fireplace, if you can’t see it?  This was the first time that I felt totally stuck.

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Growing up, my mom was constantly re-arranging the furniture and I can remember at least four different ways she could make it work, each time giving the room a fresh, new feel.  Our living room doesn’t allow for the luxury of options.  Oh – the things we take for granted when young. 😉

I didn’t want to wing it because;
a) to me, this is a crucial room to get right
AND
b) furniture is expensive and if you must revert to plan B and change the layout, you need to be able to re-work the furniture you already have.

In this frustrating moment, I learned that Pinterest and Google can only take one so far and in that time of despair, hiring a professional entered my mind.  To you, this probably seems drastic and unnecessary and is only something “well-off” people would even consider.  My husband would straight up tell me the same.  So, I didn’t share that thought.  Instead, I put it on hold.

For a few days, I pretended to move on.  And then this…

If you live in our area and haven’t been to The Farmhouse Store , you’re missing out. They sell everything from small household gifts to large pieces of furniture that can be customized (size, wood color, fabric, etc.) to your liking.  They host a charming mix of country and chic – which to me is utter perfection.  While in there perusing one day, we learned of their in-home consultation service to which the cost goes directly towards your store purchase.  We knew we would be making at least one or two large purchases from the store, so why not bring someone in to help out with our living room debacle?  For me and now my husband (phew!), it was a no-brainer.  Essentially since (despite dad’s voice echoing strong in my mind that “nothing is free”) it would be free!

Tip #1:  Free opportunities are out there. Of course they come with a cost. 😉

We ended up loving the consultation process (with local designer Michelle May) and the results that followed.  She came into our home, eager and ready to make it our own and we could not be happier with the results.  Turns out that the seating did not have to face the mantle for it to remain a powerful, beautiful presence. Having Michelle come in to assist remains one of our best home decisions to date.  Our living room is actually featured on her website! How cool!

Once we chose the color scheme and the overall feel of the room (thanks to Michelle), we were ready to roll!

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Tip #2:  Don’t feel pressured to make everything match.  You can choose furniture from separate collections or stores, in different colors and incorporate a couple different patterns.  Pieces don’t always have to come as a set.  You can definitely save money this way too!

Tip #3:  There is no need (other than your own personal desire) to buy everything all at once.  Our TV rested on two, small black Ikea end tables for months until I finally discovered our media stand in the middle of Home Goods.  That’s okay.

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Tip #4: Lighting is important.  During the day, light is abundant in this room but at night, it is impossibly dark.  Making sure there is ample light when the sun goes down, is critical.

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I’m happy to say, other than maybe adding some pictures and nick nacks here or there, we definitely have our comfortable common area completed and we’re ready to share with all our friends and family.

Now, on to the next!

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Life’s not just about the big things….

Take it easy? Relax?  Well, I don’t.  I like to suck up all my free time doing things.  At home, that time is chewed up my my inability to take breaks and my can do, must do attitude results in numerous side projects.  So, while I take some time to brainstorm my next entry, I want to share some of those smaller projects with you.

FlowerLet’s start with beautifying the outdoors.  Goal in mind, curb appeal. We all know that flowers bring color and life to an otherwise drab space but gardening was unfamiliar territory to me and something I was apprehensive about doing.   What if I pick the wrong flowers for the wrong space? What if everything dies?   What will my neighbors think?

Worry.  As referenced above, this one word takes up an awful lot of my time and has plagued me my entire life. My husband gets major props for helping me change those “what ifs” into “who cares!”.  It truly is a better way to live.  Yes, I want things to look beautiful but let’s save the worrying for something truly worth worrying about and allow yourself to learn by just doing.

Learning by trial and error has actually become my most traveled road while living here.  Both my parents live too far away to physically  assist, no matter how much they would like to.  Plus, why give them the impression that I didn’t pay much attention to what they did to make our home as beautiful as it was while I was growing up and now let’s face it,  I am a little lost in this new world.

I started out with no knowledge and built some things that I have to admit, are pretty okay to look at.  Here’s what I learned along the way –  just a few tips so you can be a bit less apprehensive on your journey to “curb appeal”.

Tip #1:  Ask questions in the flower section. Those people are pretty knowledgeable.

Tip #2: Learn the difference between an annual and a perennial.

Tip #3: Know what plants love sun and what plants prefer shade.

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Tip #4: Ladies, DO NOT get a manicure until weeding, mulching, planting and watering are done.  Which is never.  Gardening and keeping up with a yard is a rough and dirty job. You will get dirt under your nails.  And not just your fingernails.  Somehow it will find its way into your toes, which were covered up by sneakers and socks.  #howdoesthathappen

Tip #5: Be okay with Tip #4.

PS – #donttellmomtheflowersaredead . Just kidding.  Not all of them are. 😉

Moving on.

Typically, new homeowners want to start with a clean slate and prefer nothing but floors and walls when they move in. The story is different when the previous homeowners leave you actual good, useable stuff, as was the case for us.  One of the best things they left behind was an outdoor teak table and chairs set.  All it needed was a good part soapy water/part bleach scrub down and it was as good as new!

Tip #1: A warm, sunny, windless day is best. A beautiful, Spring day calls for a project like this and helps you to feel like you can take on any project. The sun and fresh air can do wonders for your soul after a long winter.

Tip #2: A toothbrush works best for those hard to reach places.

Tip #3: Rinse well and when you think you’re done, rinse again.  Soap really gets in there!

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Tip #4: And this is key. If a chair is weak or broken, DO NOT put it out before fully fixed.  One of our guests had an incident.  😉 Don’t worry .  No one was injured and we ended up only needing 5 chairs anyway because they also left us an awesome bench, which we now use on the end.

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Speaking of friends…….

“Make new friends but keep the old.” Same goes for decorating your home.  It’s fun to buy new stuff but it’s extra special when you can find a way to re-use old, sentimental pieces.  Keep meaningful pieces around.  If not, you will miss them.

I always loved this one bench my parents had and when my mom finally moved she had no use for it.  Perfect timing because our entryway was in desperate need of a typical “entryway item” and this bench immediately came to mind.  Too bad it was black…..and orange and red and blue and brown, each color visible in certain spots revealed by a bad case of peeling.

This project nearly killed me and during it, I would not have recommended it to anyone.  The amount of scraping and sanding it took was incredible and it still needed a couple coats of paint stripper, more scraping and more sanding.  And then it still needed to be cleaned, dried and painted.

Looking back on this project, that once severely strong memory of blood, sweat and tears has diminished partially due to the passage of time but mostly due to how much I love it now.

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Let’s move on to a project I enjoyed from the start.  My indoor faux planter!  I became obsessed with an indoor planter I saw on Pinterest but I never stumbled upon anything that resembled it closely enough or matched the colors and size I needed.  So I made it my next DIY project.

The simplicity of this project was great.  I took measurements of the planned space, got the boards cut at Lowe’s, sanded them down (and bashed them with a bag of nails) to make them look older and then I simply glued the pieces together and set with a clamp.  Okay – it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing I had ever done.  There was some amount of frustration involved. At first the gluing was a sloppy, slippery task. I just couldn’t get the boards to stay in place while trying to get the clamps on.  I ended up with gluey boards (that weren’t attached to each other), glue on my hands, floor and kitchen counter……but with a little time (glued partially one day and partially the next) and a little patience, I finally figured it out and was able to move on to the best part – staining and filling.

I attempted to achieve a more rustic look by brushing cooled black tea onto the planter.  Once that dried, I brushed a mixture of apple cider vinegar & steel wool, which had been soaking in a mason jar for a couple days.

My finishing touches were faux flowers stuck into green foam (cut to fit inside the planter) – both of which I picked up at Michael’s.

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So those are some of my favorite little projects.  And below are some pictures of other fun little additions to our home:

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Tree hammock, courtesy of Amazon.

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Tree lanterns, courtesy of World Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Jersey Pillow, courtesy of Catstudio.

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Picket Fence Flag, courtesy of Home Goods.

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Our basement set up, courtesy of our old apartment.

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Grill, courtesy of Weber.

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Fire Pit, courtesy of the previous homeowners.

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American Flag, courtesy of our freedom and Home Depot.

 

Because starting fresh, just feels good.

So moving into our home didn’t happen in the timely manner we had hoped it would.  We called it quits on our apartment in October, to save on November’s rent.  Honestly, we both envisioned a short period of sadness when leaving behind what was the home to our relationship for the past 8.5 years but apparently, we were over it because we left and never looked back.  I have to say, it’s kind of nice to close a door and keep it closed.

Goodbye Sagamore Apartments.

Goodbye Sagamore Apartments.  We loved you but for some reason we won’t miss you.

Our plans were to move into our new home on November 21st, the day we were handed the keys but it didn’t actually happen until a whole month later.  Right before Christmas!  Ah…the best laid plans. :/  If it were up to my husband, (which I am now starting to sympathetically realize, not much ever is) we would have been in right away but I prefer to live comfortably, not anxiously and in my eyes, it would have been pretty stressful to live amongst paint cans, pulled up carpet, open cleaning supplies and pretty much in a state of constant mess and confusion.  Why move stuff in, just to have to move it around to get stuff done?   He was anxious and excited to have a house and I was anxious and excited to make it our home.

That being said, we extended our stay at his mom’s house.  While we were there (November and much of December) my wheels were constantly turning, dreaming up plans.  I had been pinning up a storm https://www.pinterest.com/kristinsmith1/ to get ideas for bedroom colors, dining room wallpaper, outdoor spaces, DIY projects and anything else I came across that interested me in the slightest. For some, this is just a bad addiction that leads nowhere but for me it’s a constant and reliable source of inspiration and it serves as my own personal assistant when my memory fails me.  Also, I “pin” fully aware that some dreams (pins) will remain dreams (pins) forever.  #Ihavealoveaffairwithpinterest

Sharing time between our temporary house and our future home (thankfully only separated by a few miles) worked out well for us – a decision we do not regret.  While the house was nice and empty, we were able to;

CLEAN AND SCRUB TO OUR LIKING
Tip #1:  Kitchens take the most work and can be the dirtiest when they should be the cleanest  – so start there.  Otherwise, you will be too exhausted to give that space the attention it deserves.

If it's not cleaned by you, it's not clean enough.

If it’s not cleaned by you, it’s not clean enough.

PULL UP OLD CARPETING
Tip #2:  If there were cats, it has to go.  Muscles or pure angst required.

Goodbye gross green runner.

Goodbye gross green runner.

RE-FINISH THE WOOD FLOORS
Tip #3: Pay a professional and don’t stick around.  The smell is enough to kill someone!  Do your research.  We weren’t 100% satisfied with the job and satisfaction is key when paying a lot of money.

PAINT
Tip #4: If it’s a small job, do it with your partner….otherwise hire a professional.  No matter how much you love your significant other, you will want to kill them and you will need their help down the road so you may want to keep them around.

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Tip #5:  Steamers can work magic in the removal process.  Thanks Dad.

We learned a steamer can work magic.

We learned a steamer can work magic.

Shades of gray.

Shades of gray.

Aside from the feeling of accomplishment after a long hard day, the best was simply being able to leave it all behind for tomorrow and head back to a cozy bed and the company of family, just one town over.  It was, in fact a relief to step away, reflect on what had been done and dream of what tomorrow would bring.

Fun Fact/Unexpected Twist:  I learned to love a dog.  It took time but that was definitely something rare, unexpected and special.   #Ineverlikeddogsbuthegrewonme #hadnochoicebecausewelivedtogether #ILoveYouMunson

#LoveUnexpected

#LoveUnexpected