Our Nursery (finally)

Last year, I posted about how I was going to decorate the nursery, but i never got around to posting the finished room. The room is ALMOST finished, but it’s definitely time to show it off. (Still left to do — new floors below the carpet, a couple of pieces of artwork, and crown molding.)

For fun, let’s start with never before seen pictures of the starting point of the room, specifically taken in May 2016. Our junk room:

I really don’t have very much to say about the transformation that I didn’t say in the previous post, so let’s get to the pictures!
This first panoramic view of the room clearly shows almost all of my favorite elements: The tapestry curtains, the rug, the West Elm glider (which is so comfy, I can say that now from experience). We ended up going with a brighter yellow than I originally planned. It gets blown out in some of my non-professional shots, but its pale and buttery, and it brings lightness to the small space.

Another panorama shot from a different corner. I think this is the only shot that clearly shows the little Black Forest Owl Clock.

The tapestry as curtains to cover the open closets – my favorite element, and the organizing element for the nursery. I used the Ikea Dignitet to hang the curtains over the entire wall.

I never posted pictures, but at one of the amazing baby showers thrown for us, the hosts used that pattern as the “theme” for the shower. My dear friend made the most amazing cake based on the curtains. It was so good to eat too!

Books and chest! Note about the crib, yes there is a hamper of stuffed animals, but Eph is still sleeping in a pack n’ play in our room for the time being.

Close-up view of the highboy with the lamp I had as a baby (matches the lightswitch plate), the bear cub prints, and the kitty LED light.

Books, books, BOOKS! Some new, but many from my childhood. And a bluetooth speaker to stream cool kid tunez.

The other dresser, which is a great diaper-changing station.

You can see in this shot that the main family trash can is in the kitchen right outside this room. We don’t have a “dedicated” diaper trashcan, but having a closed trashcan so close makes that ok (even now as his diapers actually have an unpleasant smell because of all the solids he’s eating).

Another view of art (still working on a couple of other pieces to fill some gaps behind chair and above the dresser)

There’s lots of little elements of love that we were gifted by amazing friends and family:

  • White, handmade, crocheted blanket used for baby snuggles
  • Handpainted owl (matching the tapestry) that says, “Observe and reflect and become a little wiser everyday.” Perfect!
  • Kittycat LED Nursery Light (changes color and awesome for low light in the night)
  • Wipes warmer (some babies may not mind cold wipes, but Eph definitely prefers warm)
  • Keekaroo changing pad,

Guest Room Revisited

The first step to our nursery renovation was moving the guest room. We’re keeping most of the guest room furniture in the nursery (the two dressers anyway), but there just wasn’t room for the full-sized bed component of the bedroom suite. I’ve also been rearranging a lot of the books on the bookcases in our den to make some room for baby toys (when the need arises). The guest room is now a library of sorts.

We painted this room orange when we first moved in, and I still love the color. When the late afternoon sun comes in the window, it’s just gorgeous. The other components of the room are the bed, MCM hutch, brass étagère, the bird mobile, and some prints I bought in Portland. I’m pretty happy with the overall finished product.

Guest Room Redux

Guest Room Redux

Guest Room Redux

Nursery Decoration Time


I have a confession to make. Way before we were even trying to get pregnant, I started buying things for our future nursery. I knew I always wanted to make a beautiful space for a baby that was gender neutral in terms of color and elements after seeing Jeong Mee Yoon’s Pink and Blue Project back in 2005. I also wanted to avoid a heavy theme, and instead, rely on a looser grouping of colors through which we could weave our favorite elements. We’ve got 15 weeks left to go until the baby is here, and I’d thought I’d show you what we’re going to be using (when we get the room to a place where decorating can happen):

  • Scenic Forest Tapestries from Urban Outfitters; I bought these back in January of 2011. They will basically serve as floor to ceiling curtains along one wall for the closet (it’s a huge closet, way bigger than any baby could use lol).
  • Featherbottom Rug from CB2. We’ll be redoing the floors in the nursery ASAP and getting rid of the gross carpet, but this rug will tie together the blues/oranges of the tapestry with the greens and yellows that I also want to have in the room. (I splurged on this one when I was very newly pregnant.)
  • Bear Cub No. 3 and Bear Cub No. 4 Prints by Sharon Montrose for 20×200. I bought these prints off of 20×200 back in 2011; they’ve been in a drawer ever since for the future nursery.
  • Vintage Dolly Toy Co. Balloon Vendor Nursery Lamp + Matching Switchplate. When I was a very little kid, I had this lamp in my nursery (way back in 1978); I love it, and I had to keep it as an element.
  • Black Forest Owl Wall Clock. I thought this was adorable and bought it on eBay a few years ago. It’s also been in a drawer ever since.
  • Baby Fawn Pillow; I snagged this from H&M last year when I was perusing baby stuff to buy for others. I have a baby animal thing obviously, but I like it because it coordinates with the tapestry/curtains.
  • Graham Glider + Ottoman from West Elm. I have loved the look of this glider for years; I’m so glad West Elm still makes it. My husband and I are both pretty tall (6′ & 6’5″), and I think this one gives us a place to rest our heads. I got an amazing deal on this at the Asheville West Elm Outlet back in March.
  • Ikea Hensvik Crib. I really like very plain cribs, and I didn’t want to spend much on such a temporary piece of furniture. I like the little ornamental detail on the ends of this crib because it’s just a little bit fancier than the more modern versions that are plain and straight. We bought this Memorial Day Weekend at the Charlotte Ikea (on sale yay)!

We already have two dressers for the room; the pieces are part of my Dad’s first bedroom suite. He got it when he went to college. We’ve moved the bed into the new guestroom for now, but one day, when the baby is old enough to sleep in a real bed, we’ll reunite the pieces. We’re also changing the color of the room to pale yellow (similar to background color in the element collage above) and putting down hardwood floors (haven’t picked the flooring out yet though). I’ll try to post some progress pictures of the nursery soon!

Wardrobe Challenge

I have a huge closet of clothes that I never wear. I’ve also filled at least two other closets with clothes in my house that are either 1) out of season or 2) have been pre-purged into a sort of clothing purgatory between my main closet and the eBay/charity pile. It’s going to take some time to complete this project. However, the first step of this journey starts today!

Here’s my priority of things to get rid of (from easiest to purge to hardest to purge):

  1. Things that I don’t like, and don’t fit
  2. Things that I like, but don’t fit quite right
  3. Things that I like, fit well, but I never wear because it’s a weird piece

I’m sure there are other categories, but this is just getting going and will have to do for now. Everyday, I’ve got to purge three things. Today (DAY 1!), I’ll have to do it this evening.

This project is desperately necessary in my home. I really need to buy some new staple pieces, but I can’t buy anything until I actually figure out what I need and what my wardrobe holes are. Right now, I don’t even know what I really have.

In conclusion, I’m posting this picture I took of my (rainbow) closet organization. This picture really illustrates my clothes problem; I haven’t worn a single one of those pretty colored dresses in the last year. They’ve all got to go.

Running Medal Display Plaques

Putting the Hard-Earned Medals on Display!

After running in three 5Ks, a 10K, two 15Ks, and two half marathons, it was time to make a display for all of our race paraphernalia. I checked out Pinterest and Etsy for precedents, and finally made these two boards for us. The total cost was pretty cheap! We bought the two wood plaques at our local craft supply store ($2.99 each), two 6″ clipboard clips from Amazon ($2.99 each), a bag of fifty silver eye-hooks also from Amazon (eye-hook diameter: .24′, length: .87″, $2.09), and used some white spray paint that I had on hand to quickly paint them white. I pre-drilled 25 holes for the eye-hooks on each plaque, hand screwed the hooks, and mounted the clipboard clips. There are definitely fancier versions of this out there, but this definitely suits our purposes. (And yes, Rob did get the number 69 at our last 5K, lol.)

Laundry Room Renovation: Almost There!

View of the LaundryOver a year ago (3/13/12), I began my laundry room renovation project. As you can see from the first post, the room was in dire need of work! I’m excited to say that this project is well underway, and though it’s not quite complete, we are almost at the end. (I’ve made some after/before pictures and attached them to the end of this post.)

Different OrganizationWhat have I done so far? The two biggest changes implemented are 1)Painting the room pinkish/coral and, 2)Reorganizing my stuff. We moved the original utility shelves to a more suitable space, bought chrome wire shelves from the Home Depot, and got rid of unneeded junk. I also got a cute (cheap) red rug from ikea, covered the previously white shelf with red wrapping paper & clear contact paper, and moved a puzzle of Tamara de Lempicka’s 1925 painting, “Self portrait in the Green Bugatti,” in from another room to cover the electrical panel.

Mini DrawersOne of my favorite new tools is this set of mini drawers that my neighbor gave us when she was reorganizing one of her spaces. I now have different drawers for beads, paints, printmaking supplies, floral supplies, embroidery thread, felt, etc. Even my buttons are sorted by color and pretty in their own drawer!

Rainbow Button Drawer

What’s left to do?

  1. Replace the ugly light fixture with the chandelier from my bathroom. In the first image on this page, you can see the light I’ve renovated to be the new light over my tub. (It’s sitting on the cabinet.)

    Current Light (left), Future Light (right)

  2. I’m working on a solution for air-drying clothes.
  3. Looking for a cart to go between the dryer and the cabinet.
  4. Considering a unified enclosure for the washer and dryer.
  5. and, Maybe some more wall art, scavenged from other areas of the house.

After (Left) & Before (Right) 1

After (Left) & Before (Right) 1

After (Left) & Before (Right) 2

After (Left) & Before (Right) 2

After (Left) & Before (Right) 3

After (Left) & Before (Right) 3

Rainbow Lamp

Rewired Vintage Rainbow Lamp

I finally got around to rewiring a vintage lamp I bought from etsy. I love the white rainbow.

I was tired of the brass lamp kits available locally at Home Depot/Lowe’s, so I bought this Jandorf Make a Lamp Kit (60139) in a pewter finish on Amazon.

Here’s another (very dark) picture of the lamp in the hallway.
Hallway Lamp

Handmade Christmas Wreath from Christmas Cards Past

I have a problem throwing away things, especially paper remembrances – ticket stubs, cards, programs. There is no logical reason to hold onto the Phantom of the Opera program from my high school orchestra trip or the autographed Penn & Teller program from their performance at Duke, but I still have them. I have quite a stack of holiday cards, and I was trying to brainstorm a way to incorporate the cards into a new wreath. (Our previous wreath was nice, but a very plain wreath of greenery with a simple red bow.)

Interior Shot of Wreath

I can’t say that I thought of this idea all alone; my inspiration was a DIY Clock from Junk Mail that I saw on Apartment Therapy. To make the wreath, my only materials were items from the dollar store, old holiday cards, and a few Christmas catalogs to fill in the spaces. (I only had cards for about half of the spokes.) I made a 3″ wide base for the wreath by cutting it out of foamcore with my x-acto. The interior circle was large enough to feature the star ornament; the outer circle was just 3″ larger than the interior. I used my handy compasses from grad school drafting to get the circles right, but a piece of string could also be used to measure the radii. After I had the wreath shape, I stacked foam to about 1.5″ and hot-glued that to the back of the wreath shape in 4 places to give the wreath some depth. Then I covered the whole frame with ribbon. You can see the back here:
Back View of Wreath

The next step was to roll up the holiday cards. I used the entire card for each spoke and started rolling from the plain side, so the end product would have the most color. And I used a dowel to get the initial shape and help keep the rolling even. In my wreath there are 58 spokes; 29 of these spokes are from Christmas cards. The remaining spokes are pages from the West Elm and Blissliving holiday catalogs cut down to a similar size. I wasn’t worried about the spokes being the same length, but it could be easily controlled if precision spokes are your thing.

The last steps were to hot glue the spokes to the base in a radial pattern, add gold ribbon for hanging, add a gold bow, hang the gold dollar store ornament in the middle, and finally I added some bells to up the holiday-ness of the wreath. I thought it was important to keep the wreath accents in the same color (gold), because the rest of the wreath could be pretty busy.
Wreath Hanging on the Door

Now we have a wreath that is inexpensive AND is made from the love and kindness of our friends and family. It’s perfect. As we get more holiday cards over the years. I will probably just replace the catalog pages with real cards.

Outdoor Kitchen from CMU's

Outdoor Kitchen Inspiration

Years ago, before we moved into our home, my mama gave me a stack of her old magazines. I dutifully went through the magazines and ripped out the pictures that I liked. There was one set of images from an outdoor kitchen that I still can not forget. This piece was in Better Homes and Gardens in May of 2009, and it was about an outdoor kitchen made of CMU’s and reclaimed wood. I want to create this kitchen in our side yard. Now I just have to find a source for the reclaimed counter. And design the space. And clean up the rest of our yard nonsense. Read the scanned article here: Better Homes and Garden – May 2009.

Laundry Room Renovation: Before

If we ever have a tornado, our laundry room might be the best place to go. It’s right in the middle of the house, there are no windows, and there are actually two roofs over it. However, it’s also the room most likely to look like it was hit by a tornado. It’s one of the *two* rooms that haven’t been redone since we moved in. Now the time has come to put some work into this room.

I probably shouldn’t show these pictures because the laundry room is bad. Really bad. And I can’t blame anyone else; I’m the only one who uses this room! However, a proper room renovation requires before pictures, so here goes.

The Washer & Dryer Wall

The Washer & Dryer Wall

Bookshelves & Craft Supplies

Bookshelves & Craft Supplies

The Wall Behind the Door

The Wall Behind the Door

The Wall with the Door

The Wall with the Door

As you can see, I’ve got decent space, but major layout issues. And clutter issues. This renovation is going to involve a lot of things; can you say de-stashing? We’re going to paint, change the lighting, and maybe even construct some furniture-type things! My next laundry room post will focus on designing the new layout (plan & elevation views) and inspiration shots. Stay tuned.

Halloween Wreath

Semi-Homemade Halloween Wreath

This past weekend, we had a lot of fun getting in the spirit of the season and decorating for Halloween. In an effort to better document my Halloween exploits, I’m going to try to post a project each day.

One of the oldest projects on my Halloween to-do list was to make a wreath. Last year, I bought a spooky-ish (but plain) black wreath from CVS on 60% clearance the week after Halloween was over. The wreath sat in our Halloween bins in the attic all year. I got it out this past weekend and decided to spice it up with some dollar store items: Centipedes, roaches, a fly, spiders, a ghoul, and the dollar store spooky gray cloth. Total budget for this wreath ended up being about $5, and we’re pretty pleased with the effect.

Painting (Gilding) Ugly Furniture

When I realized that Rob and I needed a sideboard/credenza for our dining room to hold serving pieces and extra dishes, I began looking at all our options. I quickly realized that I didn’t really want a sideboard enough to part with hundreds of dollars. I wanted a stopgap sideboard that would suffice until I could afford the sideboard of my dreams.

Enter ugly dresser found from Craigslist:
Ugly Dresser 1
Ugly Dresser 2
This dresser had 4 things that made it the perfect temporary sideboard:
1. Cabinets with doors in addition to drawers. Drawers can be useful in a dining room (hello silverware storage), but for the most part they become unwieldy when filled with heavy dishes. The cabinets with doors are perfect for large heavy stacks of plates and other china. (The drawers are perfect for bulky large platters or those over-sized chip/dip trays that won’t fit anywhere else in your house.)
2. Interesting Hardware. The drawer pulls had some spunk.
3. Interesting Architecture. The cabinet doors had some intriguing ornament to them. Don’t get me wrong; it’s definitely UGLY — late 70’s/early 80’s plastic-glued-to-manufactured-wood furniture. However, when looking at the pictures of the dresser on Craigslist and later in person at the thrift store, I saw some potential.
4. Cheap price. I’m not going to euphemize this one; the dresser wasn’t affordable or cost-efficient. It was cheap. And at a fraction of the cost of my other options, I pulled the trigger.

Fast forward through the horrible difficulties of transporting over-sized, manufactured wood furniture (thanks Mom for letting me borrow your Envoy!), and I had to decide how to make this ugly dresser fit in our cute little home. I did some research online & decided on spray paint, but not just any old color. I chose silver spray paint with gold for the handles. We lugged the monstrosity outside, gave it a good cleaning, and 3 coats of spray paint later, Voilà!:
Painted Dresser/Sideboard
Painted Dresser/Sideboard
Painted Dresser/Sideboard

Gilding (silvering) makes it all look ok!

Cake Carrier

My Grandmother’s Cake Carrier

For my first five years of elementary school, I went to school about two miles from my grandparent’s home at the same school where my mother also taught. Often in the afternoon on the way home from school, we would stop by their home to chat, visit, pick something up, or drop something off. The first names that I used to call my maternal grandparents were, “Ma,” and, “Dada.” However, around the age of 9 or 10, I grew self-conscious of those names because to my ears they sounded like baby talk compared to the other names kids called their grandparents. I started using, “Grandma,” and, “Grandpa.” In retrospect, my self-consciousness probably stemmed from reading so many books where grandparents had bland grandparent names. It’s funny what kids do.

Any time that we stopped by my grandparent’s house, I would begin a treasure hunt. Grandma had all kinds of food in her kitchen that wasn’t at home: White Bread with Butter, Sleeves of Ritz Crackers, Left-over Fried Chicken or Pork Chops from the day’s lunch meal (their biggest meal of their day), or Biscos Sugar Wafers. (To this day, when I get sick, I send my husband to the grocery store after Biscos Sugar Wafers because that’s what Grandma or Mama gave me when I stayed home from school sick. I am not interested in any other brands, only Biscos are light and sweet and creamy in the exact curative proportions.)

The biggest treasure hunt score was always when I noticed Grandma’s orange cake carrier out on the counter. Cake! Usually, I would excitedly open the carrier to find pound cake; always awesome, but not the ultimate prize. The best days were the days when the big reveal exposed Grandma’s Sticky Chocolate Cake (if you click the link, it will take you to the recipe for this amazing treat). I was in heaven with a can of Diet Coke (or Tab before that) and a huge paper plate of chocolate cake.

Many years later after my grandmother died, when my Mom and Aunts were cleaning my grandparent’s house, my Mom asked me if there was anything from Grandma’s that I wanted. The only I could think of was Grandma’s orange cake carrier. It now has a treasured place on our dining room hutch, though I wish I baked a lot more, so I could leave it on the counter with cake inside. Maybe if Rob and I have children one day, I will be able to share with them the anticipation of seeing the orange cake carrier on the counter and slowly lifting the top to reveal their heart’s desire.

Other Cake Carriers
My grandma’s cake carrier was a “LookLift” Cake Carrier. From time to time, one can still be found on etsy or eBay (like the examples above).

My Sour Cream Glasses

Martha Stewart is ruining eBay for me. Every weekend, I take a moment to relax and execute two searches: 1) Sour Cream Glass and 2) Sour Cream Glasses. (For some strange reason, these searches don’t yield the same results.) These glasses are generally vintage glasses that sour cream manufacturers used to package their sour cream in as a freebie gift, like jelly jars. They come in pint and half-pint sizes; I’m definitely partial to the half-pint glasses. Over the years, I’ve found some great buys on these gorgeous little glasses that we use in our home everyday. They’re perfect for wine, juice, or a quick glass of water. I never worried about breaking these glasses because they were so ubiquitous. Sometimes, I even found the glasses at thrift stores priced at $.50 or $1.00. I fear this will never again be the case. My Sour Cream Glasses

Martha Stewart’s magazine recently featured sour cream glasses in its, “Our Finds,” section. (PS they have a new section of the same name on their website.) Martha Stewart's Sour Cream GlassesSuffice it to say, the prices for sour cream glasses are skyrocketing on eBay. I’m thinking maybe I should start selling my collection, but I’m too in love with all the patterns. Oh well, maybe this trend will die down soon, and I can go back to scoring them for a reasonable price (or at least less than $10.00 per glass)!