Thursday, August 27, 2015

Some Added Potential- The Future Den

This is seriously the house that never ends…. We complete a room, and then there's another that follows. I'm not complaining- it's a good problem to have especially in our neighborhood where the houses aren't necessarily sprawling with square feet. Every time we redo a room, I can see us living here an extra year or two than I could before. I think it's been God's way of telling us to slow down and enjoy this home. I'll be honest, we go back and forth about moving, but this house is still surprising us with how well it fits for our family. It truly was the biggest blessing in disguise when Nathan purchased this place 5 years ago.
Now to the point of this post- our future den! I. Am. So. Excited. Our house has an addition off of the kitchen that was built in the early 90s. It's the main reason we have such a tiny (but now cute) backyard. Nathan used it as his bedroom back in the college days and then it turned into our workroom when we started renovating the rest of the house.  Honestly, it's been filled with so much furniture and junk the last 5 years, we completely forgot how big the room really is and missed the hidden potential.
We closed that door when company was over...
It's only appropriate on this blog to show you how we embarrassingly lived for years prior to renovating. If you would like a reminder of past embarrassment please feel free to click the following:  Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D... or read basically any post I've done.
With Max's first birthday party planned for mid June- we realized that we should probably clear the room out especially since most of our big house projects are complete. It took only one night of cleaning and we were suddenly left standing there realizing what we have been missing the past few years…

I felt stupid.
It is huge (for our house). And that ceiling!  Someone knew what they were doing when they vaulted those bad boys and added those beams.  I used to curse this room because it was such a mess and encroaching on our backyard, but it wasn't until we actually CLEANED that we saw the potential.
Other than the extra square footage, one of the best features is the fireplace and a MANTEL. Remember when we created the "BuiltIn" situation in our living room because I wanted a mantel to decorate for Christmas? I guess the addition was so stuffed to the brim at that point, that I never even thought that its mantel would ever be an option for decorating.

Holiday mantels are very important to me if you could not tell.
There is so much potential. We are turning it into our Den/Playroom/Future Guest Room/Craft Area combo. Basically, it's going to be a giant multi-purpose room. Right now it is filled with Max's toys which has been so nice for him to run around and sprawl out. We previously had the toys in the itty bitty Living Room which needless to say made everything cramped and crazy.  
We've already replaced the carpet, painted, and bought a couch so we are well on our way- but I'll get to that in another post. It's easier and more fun for me to do small updates than one big post so this may be a long process, but hopefully you can hang in there- or follow @724SouthHouse on Instagram for some "Real Time" Progress.
I'll be back soon with our updates and some ideas I have swirling around in my head! In the meantime here is a little peak into our daily life in this room so far. The den is already working hard!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Trials and Errors of our Entry

Our entry has definitely been through the ringer and evolved over the years. It's taken a LONG time for me to be happy with it, but I think I'm finally there....

The entry is basically just a long wall to the right of our front door. There is no alcove or anything structurally that helps define the space, so I was really starting from square one. Feast your eyes on this beautiful picture of the long wall for your reference:

We are usually on a limited budget, so for a while I had to work with what I had- including a gigantic and not so attractive dresser.
A few years ago, I used a skirted DIY approach to lighten up and cover an old dresser that was acting as our entry table. It definitely helped the situation because it finally gave me something to put my keys (and junk) on- but the dresser was too long and I was never in love with the coverup situation. I tried to get on the fabric skirt train, but it was always a source of sore eyes for me.

Since the dresser was too long, I had a hard time finding something on the wall to balance it out. I tried so many different things including this Cozamia print above (which I still love) but it didn't work in the space and I felt like it was dictating all of my design decisions in the surrounding rooms. The print is now in the guest room where it is a much better fit (even though that room has been abandoned for quite a while… ,At this point, I'm just holding out until it needs to become Max's big boy room.)

I tried all different kinds of things before deciding on the direction I wanted to go. I got out some of my old art sketches that I did in college, but I only hung four which just never looked right. It didn't occur to me for some time that it was very off balance-  two more prints (a total of 6)  would have worked much better. Duh. I also tried some mirrors and some sort of grid lattice DIY situation- but it wasn't working. Keep in mind this was like 2 years of throwing ideas out there.
Here are some of the ideas that DID. NOT. WORK...

We eventually donated the dresser because I was wanting something different and it gave me the perfect excuse for new furniture. I also gifted Nathan a new saw for  Christmas, so this was obviously going to be the first project. I sketched up some ideas for an entry table and was also inspired by this Ana White console table; however I ended up taking some design liberty and editing. Removing the four end posts made it more stream-lined and simple. Since the table needed to be fairly narrow, I didn’t want it to be bulky and I thought this was the best solution. I also love the classic X shape (like on our mobile island) so I wanted to repeat that pattern within another piece of furnishing.


We decided on the Minwax Special Walnut stain- it's not too red or dark. Dana from HouseTweaking uses this on a lot of her furniture, and I've been keeping that in my mental folder for a while now. I thought about painting it white, but figured it wouldn't hurt to stain first since you can't really go back after painting. Not surprisingly, I really love the stain and doubt I will end up painting it.

Now that the table was better proportioned and not crazy long like the dresser, I was able to focus on items to hang on the wall. I eventually found some great and FREE prints that I was able to frame. I found the link off of Apartment Therapy and I love the look. They are a bit more modern than standard botanical prints- but still have the classic look. You will notice that I hung six (instead of four like I did with my art prints a year prior). Hanging six really helped balance everything out- it looked sooo bare now that I look back. Sometimes it just takes a while and lots of trial and error for something to click. I think that can be a big design mistake- by either not hanging enough or by hanging too small of frames. I have obviously done both in my day.


In the future, I may switch out the prints for a big mirror but I have yet to find a mirror that has been big or interesting enough- and in my price range. I think a mirror will brighten up the space and be practical as I'm heading out the door, but for now I'm really liking the prints. By going with larger frames and hanging them high, I think it makes the walls look taller than what they actually are- and the white mats are a great compliment to the darker wood.

Here's a cheapo solution: If your artwork is not expensive or you are just framing prints- you can easily cut out mats from posterboard with an x-acto knife. I do it ALL THE TIME because I'm not willing to spend money on expensive mats from the framing store. I will only buy an acid free, custom mat if I have something that is more valuable and I want it to keep for a while. Also, these frames are the very inexpensive kind from Hobby Lobby- the ones I would usually pass up in the aisle because they looked dinky and cheap.

Another note: When in doubt- go larger with your frames. It usually never fails.

I finished styling with a black lamp from World Market and baskets from HomeGoods- and of course a tray, a collection of books, and picture frames.
FYI- This greenery is FAKE. I'm not above it.

This greenery, however, is real- but was clipped out of the brush on the side of my house. Free d├ęcor for everyone.
This space was a toughie for me (and I'm not even sure if its done). I would love to flank It with two chairs, but I cant justify spending $$ on that at the moment. This just goes to show that you may have to live with a space for a while- and go through some trial and error- before you can achieve the look you want. I wasn't happy with it for YEARS, but I'm now loving that this is the first thing you see when you walk into our home.


As Barb Boelscher always says- Patience is a virtue!



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brightening Up our Kitchen

Get ready for a long post.... Can you tell I like to write?

We have recently made some subtle updates to our kitchen which I am very excited about!


Our kitchen install started about 4.5 years ago. Crazy right? (You can see one of my firsts posts here) I didn't have much of a design plan other than the space planning, but we went pretty neutral and generic for resale value. Nathan and I weren't even engaged when the boys started tearing everything out and building the cabinets. I naively had this thought in my head that once we did get engaged and married, we would probably only be in this house for a year before we moved onto something bigger and better (cue God laughing) However, a wedding, 3 years of marriage, and a 1 year old later- we are still here and loving it! With no "For Sale" sign in our front yard who knows how long we will be here!

Recently, I have been wanting to freshen some things up, so I started analyzing our space and realized that the kitchen needed some updates to not only brighten the space but reflect more of my style. I'm really into the farmhouse style (Not surprising since we have an awesome farmhouse table that my husband built 3 years ago). I love the look because it's causual, yet classic. Honestly though, I think I love it most of all because I can embrace the craftsman style and warmth in my home. For so long I have seen nothing but all white everything (which I do LOVE- have you seen my bathroom?), but lately I have seen a lot of designers incorporate natural finishes. It's been eye-opening and refreshing to me since I am drawn to warmer tones- and my kitchen has a lot of it.  
Not to say that I wouldn't love to one day paint the upper cabinets white to make things a little brighter, but Nathan spent months building, sanding and staining those bad boys so the option to cover them up really isn't on the table. I've decided to keep them in their natural wood state and embrace the farmhouse style; it's proven to be a fun challenge. The changes are subtle and not perfect, but they really have made a difference and have made me appreciate what I have without throwing paint over it (Which I am so not above doing). The kitchens below have been my inspiration- they make wood cabinets look so so GOOD and I feel like all of these looks are very achievable.
Love the black hardware on those cabinets. Also did you notice the wood trim around the window looks so fresh since everything else is so light and bright?
Original Source here.
Joanna Gaines DUH... She never fails.
Original Source here. 
Wood and white- this is so beautiful. Love those cup pulls on the chestnut cabinets.
Original Source here.
The first simple update we made was painting the walls a nice fresh coat of white- the original color was more of a beige (So much beige)! The small punch of white really refreshed the space and helped balance out a lot of the wood finish.

I also moved the chalkboard to the outside encasement of the refrigerator, and added some white framed prints where the chalkboard used to be. After looking at these pictures, I think the prints need to be a bit bigger. Hmmm.
Love this view!


One of the best updates we made was lighting. After a LOT of convincing- we replaced our ceiling fan with this awesome Ballard Design pendant over our mobile island. Nathan loves ceiling fans so it was tough to convince him of this NECESSITY. We made a deal that as long as the living room would keep its fan, we could lose the fan in the kitchen. I had my eye on the Hadley pendant for a long time (we even thought about welding our own!) but then our friends were at the Ballard Design outlet and spotted this on clearance so they snatched it up for us. It is a bit smaller than I intended, but I still think it works and makes a world of difference!!!! I go back and forth about what light bulbs to put in, but I'm digging these right now.
I originally had some simple white shades on our pendants from Lowes. I liked them, but they were ALWAYS crooked  (which drove me crazy).  I also wanted something a little more industrial. We found these new fixtures from Lowes. Since these fixtures were compatible with the original pendants, it was not a big deal to switch them out. They are now one of my favorite features in the kitchen. They definitely reflect more of the farmhouse vibe I'm going for.  
Another update was adding cabinet HARDWARE. How in the world we waited this long, I have no idea. I seriously couldn't even get into some drawers without breaking a nail. It was SO ANNOYING. But in our lazy state, we just let it be. It was one of those things where we were living that way for so long, we didn't realize what we were missing. But guys- cabinet hardware is really helpful. It was created for a reason- to get into your cabinets. Wow. Who knew?  

The only good thing about waiting  so long for cabinet harware was that I took my time contemplating what kind of to get. I finally opted for a black finish. My husband (and mom) were very apprehensive when I told them what I was doing- but once they were on it really completed the farmhouse look I have been going for. The inspiration images above helped with my decision!

Last but not least was actually one of the first updates we made. We originally had an open cabinet that was intended for a wine rack. It was put on the back burner for a while- possibly out of laziness or the fact that we really don't drink a lot of wine. When we realized we didn't even have enough wine to fill our imaginary rack, I started thinking of other ideas.  And then Max was born and we quickly realized we needed a LOT more storage for all of his goods (bottles, pumping parts, baby food, etc) I decided to remove our white dinner dishes from their cabinet and turn it into the baby zone. We then converted the intended wine rack cabinet into some open shelving.

I was pleasantly surprised with this update. Not only are we utilizing all of our storage space, but the white dishes brighten up the otherwise dark, wooden corner. I wasn't sure how I would like the open shelving concept, but we use our dishes so much that nothing really gets dusty. It's also much easier to grab dishes (especially when holding a 20+ pound "baby"). Talk about first world problems- the thought of opening a cabinet door has become too much for me. Sigh. But seriously folks, it really is a nice feature!

There are still some items I would like to check off such as a light above the kitchen sink, a bright runner, and a window treatment. I would also like to get some new barstools, but that's not really in our budget right now. Hopefully I'll run into a good deal down the line or find some thrift items to makeover.

Hope you enjoyed these updates as much as I do. What are your thoughts on embracing wood in your kitchen or other parts of your home?