Let’s Talk Spring!

28 02 2011

Since it’s been so cold and miserable around here (with only a couple of warm-ish days to remind us that spring will eventually come again), I thought I’d focus on some pretty-ness for this post.

What are your garden plans for this year?

I’ve got high hopes for my garden – despite the fact it seems my creepy neighbor has moved BACK in…ugh…I still plan to focus on the garden this spring.  Soon, I need to plant some seeds indoors for my garden. I want to put in a raised bed where I can grow some herbs and veggies!

In March’s Better Homes & Gardens, they say we in the northeast can:

Step up spring’s flowering debut with some perky cool-season plants. Early-bird blooms – primrose, pansy, English daisy, wallflower, poppy, stock, snap-dragon, calendula, and alyssum – are popping up in garden centers now.  Plant these tough guys in pots or in the garden as soon as soil thaws.

I saw some great inspiration in their magazine too:

Check out the lattice work in the background!

As you know, I have lattice work on my deck for privacy screens, and I’m working on growing some ivy there.  It’s working its way up, despite the harsh winter. But I really like the idea of adding some in against the house like this. I’m not sure where I could do this yet – I’ve got to get out there and check it out – but I think it would be really pretty. I think she’s growing peonies there.

And here’s some more – these are ‘Nelly Moser’ clematis.  Now that I’m thinking about it – maybe I could put these along the fence.  Since it’s not ‘fencing,’ I can make them as high as I’d like to – I’ll give that some thought.

Another idea I had for along the fence are these:

These are Baily Nurseries’ Hydrangea Vanilla Strawberry and they can grow up to 6-7 feet tall! They are stunning looking – according to the magazine, “Beginning midsummer, large creamy white flower heads turn pink and then become strawberry red or even burgundy.  New flower heads continue opening into late summer, so plants display all three color stages at any one time.”

I just love hydrangeas – I’m hoping my ones in the front come back in the spring after this winter – and these are so beautiful.  I think it might be just the thing to plant there or maybe along my next door neighbors’ fence!  I have some nice grass in my yard, but I need some more color!


A Birthday Spotlight for my Mom

27 02 2011

You may remember last month that I did a birthday spotlight for one of my Homeownergirl Heroes, my dad.

Well, this month, it’s time to spotlight another of my handy Homeownergirl Heroes – my mom!

As I mentioned in my last spotlight, my parents always encouraged us to do and be whatever we wanted to – my dad worked long days when I was a young kid, so most of the house-related stuff fell to my mom.  I remember very clearly standing on couches and coffee tables, trying to catch a mouse with brie (the only cheese we happened to have in the house that night), dealing with snakes and chipmunks in the pool, and handling a small fire in the oven (we got to meet firemen that day!) – all without her falling to pieces or calling someone else to deal with it.

My mom decorated the house from top to bottom, and let us help decorate our own rooms when we were old enough, encouraging our individual creativity (and she didn’t stop me from making my bedroom walls AND carpet mint green).  She’s always loved to decorate – hunting for treasures in antique stores and fairs, flipping through magazines for inspiration, keeping records and swatches of the projects she’s worked on.

When I was a kid, I hated HATED going shopping for anything house-related.  It gave me a headache.  I vividly remember the day we went to buy a butcher block for the kitchen.  It felt like it took FOREVER.

And I particularly detested looking at houses (the running joke in my family is that my mom will always see the beautiful house in the movie when the rest of us are focusing on storyline).

But her love for decorating and houses has definitely rubbed off on me, and inspired me to create my own haven at home.  She’s always created a warm, beautiful home wherever she’s lived – one that I always want to come back to.  And somehow, I’ve developed a love for shopping for home furnishings and looking at houses – it must be genetic! I just needed to grow into it.

My mom supported me faux finishing the walls in my bedroom at their house before I moved out – even though I had no experience.  She’s always been incredibly complimentary of the changes I’ve made in my own home, and asks my opinion now on the changes she makes in hers, something that is incredibly touching and flattering.

I’ve been so lucky to have been blessed with such great parents – people that I can not only rely on as my mom and dad, but call friends as well.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you!


Upcoming Projects

25 02 2011

Since I seem to just keep adding projects to my list…

  • Painting the hallway – as I painted the doors in the hallway upstairs, I realized how dreary the wall color is.  The hallway is dark because it gets no natural light, so I thought I’d lighten it up a bit, and paint over the dirt caused by having a basset hound that drools.  I’ve picked this color:

This is again from Better Homes & Gardens.  I looked through a LOT of paint samples at Lowes and used them and this to check against my walls, and the colors in every room upstairs, and decided that I liked this Ivoire from Sherwin Williams the best.

Luckily, Lowes could match this for me, and I picked up the paint yesterday.

I fully intended to start on this during the long weekend, but I think I just needed a weekend off from home improvement.  Plus, I’m sort of reticent to start painting before a chair gets moved down my hallway – just in case I need to touch up the walls.  But you’ll be seeing the results of this soon!

Another project I want to work on soon:

This outdoor light

I really love the look of these lights, but every time I’ve seen them, they’re super expensive.  So I thought that wouldn’t be a project I’d get to.  Then I saw this one at Lowes a few weeks ago, for about $30.  I couldn’t believe it!  So I picked it up.  It will be kind of an advanced electrical project for me, and I’ve been hesitant to hang it up yet because according to the HOA rules, the front of our houses is supposed to look pretty much the same – our lights now are different, but they’re both white.

So I may need to check with the neighbors on that one.  And I’ll probably wait until it’s a bit warmer out too.

And finally:

The Fireplace

Nothing is wrong with my fireplace, but I don’t like this brass accent around the glass – it really dates the fireplace (I just found out that my house was built in 1984, so now I know when all of this stuff dates back to!).

I’ve seen on various home shows before that you can paint this, with a heat/fire resistant paint, so I’m going to do some more research into that and update the fireplace.  Then, it won’t look so dated anymore! I can’t wait!

I also picked up a few more switches and sockets at Lowes this past weekend, so I’ll be finishing up changing all of those out pretty soon.  I’m really excited that it will be all done!

What projects are you working on?

Living Room – De-Cluttering Update

24 02 2011

I haven’t been as diligent with my de-cluttering as I should be.  It’s hard to work, and work on home improvements, and de-clutter, and relax, and start running again, and eat healthy, blah, blah, blah.  Just some excuses for you 🙂

But the next task in the Trash it or Treasure it program is the living room.  The first thing I’m supposed to do is give it a good scrubbing, and then wait a week or so to see what collects in there and where.

I did that last weekend, and I’ve found that I’m pretty good about clutter in there.  Things I tear out from magazines and save from the mail end up on the coffee table, but I do take those upstairs to my office every night.  Cups and plates end up there too, since I often eat on the couch, but I put those in the dishwasher every night.  Otherwise, it’s mostly clutter free.

I had taken out everything extraneous in there a few weeks ago, and lived with it for a while just to see what I could do without.  And the truth is – most of it.  I’ve brought back in a few things, rearranged a few things, and added a couple of things, and I’m almost to the point where I just need to paint the trim in there and do another deep clean, and it will be a great working room.

Here’s what I did:\

I added this poster of a painting to the mantle

I had taken everything off the mantle except for my changing photo frame at the other end.  And although it was nice not to have anything on there, especially when it came to dusting, the truth is that the brick is a little boring. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE brick. I just don’t love mine).  The room needed a bit more visual interest.

So I thought I’d get something to lean on the mantle. Initially, I thought about blowing up one of my photographs, but I took a look through Michaels’ posters when I was there last, and found this one, which I just love.  It’s beachy, like my house, but also romantic, and the colors lend themselves well to this room.

I added back in the two candles, because I love those, and my piece of driftwood, because I also love that.  And I couldn’t be happier with the way it looks. It makes me happy whenever I see it.

New basket for the firewood

The other thing I added was a new basket for my firewood. I’d seen similar ideas on some decorating shows, and liked them much better than the tan handled basket I’d actually picked up off the side of the road.  I love these dark brown baskets (I also added two slightly smaller ones to fit all of my crochet supplies in the living room as well), and it makes it easier to access the wood.

I realized when I did this that the setup I had here wasn’t working for me – one side of the fireplace was dedicated to my cable box, while the other had to house everything fireplace related, which made it look and feel cluttered.  So I rearranged the bookcase next to the fireplace and put the cable box there, and then put the wood to one side of the fireplace, and the tools to the other.  I also added back in my basset hound pillow, which my nieces loves to hug whenever she visits my house.

Fake books

Since I moved in, I’ve kept my DVDs in the small cube side table I have – my first ever Pottery Barn furniture purchase.  It’s great for storage, but not that efficient, because if I want to watch a movie, I have to move anything on top of the cube, figure out what movie I want to watch, move it all back and repeat the process to put the movie away.  It’s not a huge hassle, but the point of this project is to simplify my life, and I thought that was a good thing to do here.

So instead, I picked up these fake books at Michaels – I had already gotten rid of all my DVD cases, and put the DVDs into holders (you can just make out the red one that doesn’t have a home yet to the top left).  I measured the cases and the boxes to make sure they’d fit and brought them home.  They look like real books (mostly), and it’s a much nicer way to keep my DVDs in a convenient spot.

Moved the Bookcase!

I have two bookcases downstairs, and they’re very useful.  But they’re not always workable where I have them.  I’ve moved this bookcase once before from the corner on the other side of the fireplace (there’s a chair there now), next to the other bookcase, and now finally to the accent wall.  It was starting to look too crowded on the other wall, so I thought this might be a solution.  (You can also see where I added fabric to the back of these bookcases to cover up what’s behind them – nothing in this case, but wires behind the other bookcase).    So far,  like it there, and it allowed me to free up some space by my other plants because I put this one here.

Moved the screen

Of course, that meant I had to put this screen somewhere.  I really like it, so I don’t want to just put it away, so here it sits. I’m not sure that it will stay there long term, but it works for now!  You can also see that I tidied up where my plants are, so that looks MUCH less cluttered now too!

It’s still a bit of a work in progress, but I’m getting there!

The Upstairs Doors are Finished!

23 02 2011

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been working on painting all of the hallway doors upstairs.  I had gotten most of them done, but then hit a wall before finishing the office and my bedroom doors.  I was just so darn tired from burning the candle at both ends to get the other doors (and some electrical work) done!

But last weekend, I finally pushed myself to finish them, and I’m glad I did.

Here’s the before and after! (Though not entirely before, since I accidentally started painting before I took the first shots :)):

My bedroom door: Before

My office door: Kind of Before - with one coat of primer

My bedroom door: After, but minus hardware

My office door: After but minus hardware

My office door: the full after - they pretty much look the same, so I only took one shot 🙂

My Chair Saga

22 02 2011

So, as I mentioned, one of my goals for this year was to get this chair:

Isn't it beautiful?

I love this chair.  Mostly, I love the color of it.

But it’s an expensive chair. So I wanted to go and sit in it and make sure it was as comfortable as the reviews said before I spent some significant money on it.

So a couple of weeks ago, my mom and I went to Crate and Barrel and we found the chair.

And it wasn’t comfortable.  I was crushed.

I could still get it, of course, but why get a chair to put in my office for reading that’s not comfortable?   So I tested out some other chairs there, and found one that was really comfortable:

The Lounge Chair

I mean, it’s called the “lounge” chair after all.  It was a very soft, cushy chair and a half.  I wasn’t sure that I could fit a chair and a half in my office without having to move a lot of things around, but I was willing to consider it.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come in the blue color I love.

It did however, come in navy.

Not terrible.

The chair was $100 more than the Clara chair, so my parents encouraged me to continue to look around at other chairs since I wasn’t going to get the one I absolutely loved.  They thought I might be able to find something a bit cheaper and that I liked just as much.

I checked a lot out online and didn’t find a single thing I remotely liked.

When I got back to my house, I found I had a coupon in the mail for a local furniture store.  It was one of those scratch off coupons, and the most that I could find under there would be 50% off.  Well, that’s what I had.

I figured that was a sign to check out their chairs.

Last week, I headed over there.  I sat in every single chair they had.  I found one that was kind of comfortable, and one that was really comfortable.  And reasonably priced.

I was afraid to ask if it came in any other fabrics besides the light tan microfiber that was on the display model – that just wouldn’t work in a house with a basset hound.

And lo and behold.  They had a fabric very similar to the peacock color of the Clara Chair! Woo hoo!  I may have scared the salesman with my enthusiasm.

So I bought the chair.  It has to be made, so it will be here in early April – oh, and I managed to get free delivery too.  So not only did I save a lot on the chair with my coupon, and going to a discount place, I also got free delivery!  It was a nice day.

With all the money I saved, I decided to add the rug I’ve been wanting to get for the office as well – I do have wall to wall carpeting upstairs, but my office rug gets a lot of abuse since there isn’t a lot of furniture in this room.  I’ve wanted to put down a rug for a while, just for a bit of added protection, depth and interest.

I had an idea in my head of what I wanted, and my mom suggested keeping an eye out for an indoor/outdoor rug, which would have a softer back that wouldn’t damage the carpet underneath.  And today, it arrived.

Pretty snazzy!

I was hoping for more of a white punch with the design, but the color actually goes quite well with the existing carpet, so I think it looks good – and see that empty space in the back corner by the window? That’s where my chair will be in about six weeks’ time!  Yay! I’ll save the pictures of that for when it arrives!

30 Easy, High-Impact Decorating Ideas – My Thoughts

21 02 2011

I love to flip through magazines for decorating and home improvement ideas – that’s one of the reasons I love Better Homes and Gardens so much.  Also, because they have some great garden ideas, which I always struggle with.  But that’s a post for another day.

My mom gave me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens as a gift, and it’s been great!  In the March issue, they had an article on 30 easy, high-impact decorating ideas, and I saved it to use some as inspiration.  Here are the ones I particularly liked:

  1. Layering: “Layers keep a room from being one-note. Prop framed pictures or mirrors against a wall, overlapping them slightly. Top a stack of books with a fun little something. Drape a throw over a chair arm. Now, you have depth.”  – I’m a big fan of this idea, which is something I’ve used on my fireplace mantle before.  I might try it out in some other rooms as well!
  2. Organize books by color: “Calm chaotic shelves by organizing books by color. Leave some upright, and stack others, placing decorative objects between them.  Painting the inside of a cabinet a fun color or covering it with wallpaper or wrapping paper is another simple lift.” – This is a great idea. I’ve always left some books upright and stacked others, but I’ve never thought to organize them by color.  I saw another great idea recently – to wrap books with the same color wrapping or wall paper.  I might try this in my office or living room.  As for painting the inside of a cabinet – I did staple fabric to the back of my bookshelves, and it gives it a lot of visual interest.
  3. Baskets: “On open shelving or an armoire, matching storage bins, baskets or boxes make a room look more pulled together and less cluttered. Toss in DVDs, phone books, and more. Stick with solid-color neutral containers for flexibility in moving them to other spots when your needs change.”  – if you’ve been to my house, you know I LOVE baskets. I use them for everything, and I’ve found that they do make open shelving look much neater and more elegant.
  4. Fireplace in the off-season: “Don’t let the fireplace be a black hole in the off-season. Fill it with a pillar or three-wick candles, a woven basket filled with silk flowers, or a plant in a colorful pot.” – I’ve never thought to try this!  I have a working fireplace, so I always thought the candle thing was more suited to false fireplaces.  But it’s a great idea to keep your fireplace as the center of attention, even when you don’t have a roaring fire in it.
  5. Curtains: “Hang curtains near the ceiling rather than just above the window trim. It gives the illusion of height – great for a small room or low ceiling.” – I’ve done this in all the rooms I’ve hung curtains in, so I can attest to the illusion of height.  Even though I have standard ceilings, it adds drama to the room.
  6. Bedding: “Swap out the coverlet, pillows, or throw on your bed. Any – or all – are easy enough to change and will make it seem like you have a new room every season.” – This is something I definitely do, at least for the throw.  I have the warm grey blanket I crocheted on my bed now, but that will be too heavy come spring and summer.  So I’ll swap it out with a different blanket.  I might even think of changing out the pillows!
  7. Paint: “Paint the rear wall of an upstairs landing a color that you only discover upon ascending the stairs. Surprise!” – I don’t think this would work well in my house, but I love this idea. I plan to hang on to it for future homes!
  8. Stair baskets: “A decorative basket at the bottom of the stairs is so much easier on the eye than the stacks of stuff that tend to accumulate there. Drop things in it, then disperse items in one swoop when you’re already make a trip upstairs.” – As you might remember, I’m already waiting on mine to arrive
  9. Pattern: “Every room needs pattern, but pattern can be scary. Conquer the catch-22 with a graphic pillow cover. Just slip it over an existing pillow when you want a change-up. It’s amazing how much oomph one little fabric square delivers.” – This is another fabulous idea.  I plan to try this when my new chair arrives for the office – more on this later!

What are your favorite decorating tips?