Jul 28, 2012

Tray Cute

Forgive me for my non-French pun.

Do you have an area in your house that just turns into a bunch of clutter despite your best efforts?  We do.  Truthfully, nearly every empty surface in our house collects clutter.  But the clutter on our coffee table has been particularly irritating.

Our coffee table clutter on a good day.

We use our coffee table a lot.  We stick our feet on it when we watch TV.  We're constantly putting drinks on it while we're hanging out in that room.  And quite often we eat dinner or snacks in there.  I wanted a way to corral the magazines and remotes so that they'd still be easy to access, and easy to move if we needed more coffee table surface area.  I know that trays are a great way to do this, but I had a hard time finding one I loved that wasn't super expensive.  Until Joss & Main solved my problem.

Put a bird on it, continued.

This cute little guy was the perfect amount of rustic and contrast for our industrial coffee table.  Plus it had birds on it.  At $19, I couldn't resist.  And wow, does it make a big difference.

The tray holds some magazines (the rest are stored on the lower level of the coffee table, waiting for me to devise a wrangling solution for them).  A small basket from World Market ($8!) holds our Xbox controllers and TV remote.  And a gifted orchid lends some height and beauty.

Because orchids and Xbox controllers go so well together.

Everything's low enough to stay out of sight lines from the couch to the TV or to the club chairs across the room.

Netflix compatible.

Naturally, I love the little birdies on either end of the tray.

Tweet, tweet!

And I've always loved orchids but never bought one.  My outdoor green thumb turns black indoors.  But since every single inspiration picture I have ever seen of trays corralling items on coffee tables includes some kind of flower arrangement, it seemed the perfect place for this guy to live.  I had to take a picture of it now, as I'll probably manage to kill it off soon.


That tray has been an improvement in the beauty AND functionality department.  I can't wait to get more organization going on below the coffee table for extra magazines and DVDs!

Jul 26, 2012

I Just Met You

Habitat for Humanity finally opened a Re-Store in Everett a few months ago, and Steve and I went to take a look around with the in-laws.  Steve and I hadn't planned on buying anything.  But we found something there that made me feel a little Carly Rae Jepsen.  You know,
I wasn't looking for this/
But now you're in my way.

It was so pretty.  Stainless.  Nice high arc neck.  Pull out head.  Pause button.  Single handle.  Nice.

I just met you

Here's the deal.  We didn't need a new faucet.  Sure, it was on the list of long-term projects, but our existing kitchen faucet was perfectly functional.  After 5 years of abuse it wasn't exactly "pretty" but it was definitely a long way from being an eyesore.  Our plan had been to upgrade the sink and faucet when or if we manage to upgrade our existing counter tops.  Sounds practical, right? 

And this is crazy

The fancy new faucet was marked for $160.  Although it was brand new, it didn't seem like *that* great of a buy.  Come on, we were at the Re-Store, where spanking new solid-core interior doors are priced at $5.50.  Nevertheless, it seemed like a better deal than we'd be likely to get at Lowe's or Home Depot for that type of faucet.  We were tempted.

Here's my number

It was in its original box complete with label, so I whipped out my iphone and googled it.

So call me maybe

List price $790?!?!?!  On sale for $406???  Believe it or not, several other places carried this discontinued Moen faucet, most of them priced around $500.  Dude, $160 was 80% off of the list price.  We couldn't leave it there.  Ir was a total impulse purchase, and we couldn't be happier.

Our morning the following day looked like this.

And then it was done.  We love it!

My camera thinks it's hard to look right at you, baby.

Compare for yourself.



Aw yeah.  I'd have included a wide-angle shot so you could see how much better the scale of the high-arc neck is with the rest of the kitchen, but honestly there was too much junk on the counters and I was too lazy to clean it.

And now for several gratuitous poorly-lit pics of the fancy new faucet!  (Time for me to get the paint ladder out of the side yard.)

I used a method for deep-cleaning stainless steel sinks that I found on Pinterest.  Worked pretty slick and shined everything right up (not that you can tell from my pictures)!  Check it out on my Pinterest board!

Jul 21, 2012

Kitchen Rug FAIL

Oh Crate & Barrel.  Why must you build me up only to let me down?

Ah, the runner that I was hoping would be perfect for our kitchen (read more about it here).  I ordered it nearly two months ago.  It was on back order.  And then on back order some more.  I pined for that rug!

It finally arrived today!  I pulled it out of the box and...  The yellow was perfect!  The gray was... brown??

Whomp, whomp.

I guess you could technically call it gray.  Warm gray.  Taupey-gray.  Brown gray.  Baby-poop gray.  Not what I'm looking for, people.  We've got black cabinets, white trim, white in the linens.  Warm gray just won't cut it.

Gimme cool gray tones.

And it was really smelly, like it had been fumigated.  Sorry, a baby-poop colored rug that stinks is not going to improve my kitchen, no matter how soft the rug is on my tootsies.  The bad news is that I have to keep searching for the right runner (and apparently I have to return the rug via parcel post, grr).  The good news is that I'm gonna be getting a stash of cash back from my friends at Crate & Barrel.  They can keep the baby poop.

So now it's back to the drawing board.  Trying to find a runner that is stain resistant and/or washable and would work with black, white, and golden yellow is tricky.  Here's a couple of rugs that I've tracked down that I think might work.

From  Pros: It's an indoor/outdoor rug, so it would withstand scrubbing and bleaching.  There's something appealing about the idea of dragging your kitchen rug outside and just hosing the dang thing down.  The print is fresh without being obtrusive.  Cons:  It's an indoor/outdoor rug, so it might not be comfy on the toesies.  I'm also wondering if the light colors would be more apt to show dirt and grime...?

2.5' x 8' for $119

From Dash & Albert.  Pros:  It's cotton, so although the website recommends hand-washing or professional cleaning, I could probably get away with throwing in the washing machine on delicate.  I love the yellow and it looks like it'd go perfectly.  High on country charm.  Cons:  It might be *too* yellow.  I don't want to be punched in the face with color every time I walk into the kitchen.

2.5' x 8' for $85 or 2.5' x 12' for $124.

Fallon Honeycomb by Jill Rosenwald from BA Stores.  Pros:  I lurrrrve the honeycomb pattern.  It's so much fun, modern but still sweet (ha!), and how cute for a kitchen, right?  The yellow looks right on the money.  Did I say that I lurrrrve this one?  Cons:  It's wool, so it won't wash easily.  The gray is described as "dark taupe"- not promising.  And it's more money than I wanted to spend.

2.5' x 8' for $170

It comes in a few other similar color schemes as well:

Dark Goldenrod, Silvered Gray, Parchment

Sunshine Yellow, Sky Gray, Espresso, Parchment

The Andalusia Dhurrie rug from West Elm.  Pros:  Not gonna lie, I think West Elm is pretty hip and I would love to own something that came from them.  The rug comes in a nice steel gray or a golden yellow, so I could go either way.  The print's not obtrusive- it feels modern but the pattern hints at floral (and I love florals).  I think this one is the most likely to look "right" in our kitchen.  Cons:  Looks like this rug needs to be babied.  "Keep out of direct sunlight.  Rotate regularly to avoid uneven wear.  Blot spills immediately.  Professional cleaning recommended."  Also, the runner is a full foot shorter than standard size.

In Horizon/Ivory, $149

In Gray/Ivory, $149

 So what do you think?  Any favorites in that list?  Other places I should search?

Jul 17, 2012

Put a Bird On It

You don't have to be a fan of Portlandia to know that birds are awesome.

I love fat little birds.  They are cute beyond cute.  And my fabulous sister-in-law knows that I have this thing for birds (she loves 'em too).  But I had no idea what was coming when she called to say she had a surprise for me.  She had been cleaning out her art supplies when she found this canvas, so she just decided to be awesome and whip up some seriously cute bird art right then and there.  And then she decided to give it to me!  Wasn't that sweet??  Here, take a gander for yourself.

Tweet, tweet!

I just can't get over what a good artist she is that she just whipped up that fat little bird on a tree branch on a whim.  Makes this left-brain girl a tad envious.  Just look how adorable it is!

He's just fluffy.

I just love it.  It was tricky trying to find a place to put it, though.  I originally thought it'd come live above my nightstand in our bedroom, but the blue on the canvas just looked a little weird with our light blue walls.  So I used highly scientific deductive procedures to figure out where it should live- I walked around the house putting it here and there to see where I liked it best.  And lo and behold, I found the *perfect* spot.


I put him on top of the cubbies in our entry way.  I love how that fat little bird is a touch of whimsy amongst our fancy wedding-y photos.  And the blue ties in perfectly to the entry rug (which I am now completely in love with).  I think we may actually have a bird in every room in this house now.  And yes, it is helping with Project Fun-Things-Up-In-Here.

Thanks for the lovely gift, Tabi!!  Muah!

Jul 16, 2012

House Crashing! Charming 1920s Bungalow

I'm taking a break from the guest room vanity to let the next coat of paint dry and to do my first ever house crashing post!  Yay!!

My in-laws just bought a new house!  Well, an old house.  As in 91 years old.  It's in the cute historic area of Everett (which Steve and I love).  They got an amazing deal on the place, too.  They let us come over and take a sneak peek.

It's cute, and small- just over 1,000 square feet.  After my darling sister-in-law gets married in December, it'll be the perfect size for the two of them.  If you count the partially-finished basement (which includes a work bench and an office), the square footage goes up to a little over 1,600 square feet.  I think my favorite thing about the house is the property.  The yard is just gorgeous.  And huge.  It's a large lot for Everett, and the previous owner obviously loved to tinker in the yard.  There's a white picket fence, a potting shed, a storage shed, a fireplace, raspberries and boysenberries and grapes, rhodies and day-lilies and a wide variety of perfectly pruned trees.

The driveway.  The small building in the center used to be a garage.

The yard, as seen from the house.

The potting shed.
View of the house from the west side of the yard.

We've already decided that there are backyard barbecues and lawn games in our future. 

The house itself is a little less spectacular.  OK, a lot less.  But it has miles of potential.  The main issue with the house is that the previous owner was a smoker.  In fact, she left a pack of Winstons in the kitchen when she moved out.  The whole house smells like a musty, smoky old person.  But there are things you can do about that.

Here's the front entrance.  There are purple clematis climbing up the trellis above the front door.  At this time of the year, they are huge and blooming like crazy.  I love the little cove detail in the overhang.  You can also see a little deck between the main house and the garage/lavender room (you'll see what I mean in a minute).


The exterior will need to be painted within 45 days, as per their insurance.  Luckily, we know some people who just painted the exterior of their house in a very agreeable shade of taupey-gray and ended up with seven (!!) gallons of leftover paint that they'd be happy to share.

Once inside, I immediately noticed four things.  The smell.  The carpet was in rough shape.  The wall colors.  The wood paneling on half of the ceiling.  Again, though, tons of potential.  Here's the view from the front door.

To the left.
To the right.

So here's the thing.  In the pictures, the yellow reads as soft and buttery.  In real life it looks like butter that's been left out uncovered for too long.  It's quite jarring.  It won't be a problem, though, because of the old smoking person smell.  The best way to get rid of the smell from a previous owner is to put a coat of Killz on the walls and ceiling and then repaint, and to replace the carpet, both of which were already on the agenda.  Just out of curiosity, my FIL ripped up part of the carpet in the room to see what was underneath.  Wood floors!  We took a palm sander to the overspray to see if they were hardwood floors and what do you know.  They are real hardwood floors!  In fact, we discovered that the area where the paneled ceiling is used to be a separate room, and the hardwood runs from just this side of the paneled ceiling area all the way to the kitchen (at least).  What a find!!

Screw the yellow walls, we've got hardwood, people!!

So the major plans for this area are repainting and refinishing the hardwood floors.  The area to the left of the front door will be a dining room and the area to the right will be a small sitting room/breakfast area (there was talk of a cafe table and perhaps a bench).

The paneled ceiling area will likely become the master bedroom.  There is talk of creating a wall (not sure if it will be walled in or just screened somehow).  It's right next to a tiny bedroom (I have no pics of it, sorry) that is bright blue.  We dubbed it The Aquarium Room.  The plan is to make a door between the two rooms and turn The Aquarium Room into a master closet.  Again, both areas need some serious paint help and new carpet.  I suggested painting the ceiling paneling white to create a clean, cozy, cottage-y feel.  This is the picture I used to support my argument.

Via My Scandinavian Home

I know that my MIL and Steve have both been itching to install a barn door somewhere- I think between the master bedroom and master closet would be a perfect area.  Here's the inspiration pic that both of them pinned.

via Design Sponge

The previous owner apparently had a thing for Coca-Cola.  Just look at their kitchen.  Bright red paint.  Coke window treatments.  Coke bottle wallpaper trim.  Coke-themed plaques.  The light fixture is even Tiffany-styled Coke logos.

I'll take a Diet Pepsi.

But, look at those cabinets!  Floor to ceiling, baby.

Winstons and peanuts in the cupboard.

The opposite side of the room is lacking flow.  The dishwasher is a portable one, but the kitchen faucet doesn't fit with the coupling, so it just gets rolled into the bathroom (through the closed door right next to it) for use.

Red overload.

I'm not sure how much the appliances can be re-arranged without some major changes (water/electrical), but as far as aesthetics go, there's already plans in the works.  Obviously repainting.  I think my MIL would like to enlist my help in painting the cabinets.  I think her plan is to add some half-round to the doors to create some architectural detail and then paint them white.  She'd really love black counter tops, as well.  I desperately want to know if that hardwood runs all the way through the kitchen.  I think a dark stained hardwood would make the perfect backdrop for the cabinets once they're done.  Here's the inspiration pic my MIL had in mind for the cabinets.

Very pretty.

 Then there's the bathroom off the kitchen.  It's a one bathroom house, so it doubles as a utility room.  It's very long and skinny, and the way the fixtures are arranged is just... weird.  The toilet is tucked right up next to the vanity, which is placed at exactly the narrowest point in the bathroom- directly in front of the door.  In fact, the shower door has to stay open if you want to get off the toilet without running the risk of head-butting the shower door.

Safety hazard.

Plans for that side of the bathroom include replacing the cracked blue floor tile, replacing the aging tub and insert with a step-in shower, and (hopefully) moving the toilet to the wall with the random swatch of blue paint.

Here's the opposite side of the bathroom.  The in-laws are planning on getting rid of the washer and dryer and getting a full-size stackable set that will live where the dryer is now.  They'd like to put up a half-wall about where the caddy is now and put a built-in vanity on the other side, which will free up the walking space in that room.

Can't believe there's not crazy paint in here too.

Here's the inspiration pic my MIL pinned for the vanity.  Imagine it where the washer is right now.  Nice, huh?

LOVE the tile backsplash.

Beyond the kitchen there's a narrow walkway.  The left leads to the basement.  The door in the middle hallway leads to the alley access, and the right leads to what used to be the garage and is now a (hold on to your hats, folks) eye-popping lavender master bedroom.

The exact shade of purple Peeps chicks.

The in-laws are thinking this would be an awesome family room/den.  They'd like to knock out part of the wall and put in French doors to open to the lawn.  Obviously it would need paint, but it's not that far from the kitchen, and it's the biggest room in the house, which makes it the best room for the family to congregate (since the Williams family is now comprised of six not-so-tiny people).

I think transforming this place will be a long row to hoe for them and quite a few years in the making, but they're handy and creative and I can't wait to see the in-laws have a good time with this place!

Thanks for letting us house-crash, Dennis and Dawn!