May 18, 2014

The Ikea Fairy

The Ikea Fairy visited our house last weekend and now Mr. Baby's room is starting to look like a legit nursery!

We purchased a 3-drawer Hemnes dresser to serve as our changing table in a closet (read more about why we decided to do that here).  The bi-folds came off and the dresser was put together and anchored to the wall.  We also grabbed some under-cabinet lighting and mounted it inside the closet so that we'd be more likely to see what we are doing for middle-of-the-night diaper changes.  We got a couple of small wall-mounted sconces too (the Hektar) that will eventually be incorporated in this area.  The boxes and baskets had been stored in our guest bathroom or guest bedroom and will likely get used somewhere in Mr. Baby's room.

Ready for a changing pad and (eventually) some cute-ing up.

We had originally planned on painting the changing table the same moody near-navy blue as our back door, but we both decided it'd be better not to.  For one, we love the gray-brown tone the Hemnes is already sporting.  For another, once we set up the chest of drawers Steve's grandpa had made for him as a boy, we realized what rough shape it was really in- some trim work coming off, numerous scrapes and paint splatters, and lots of places where the stain was simply worn through.

Lots of sentiment, but not our style... yet.

So, Steve's hard-and-fast line of "I don't want you painting that" turned into "That would look really cool with some white paint and distressing, don't you think?"  And then, "Let's change out the knobs for better pulls."  So now the dresser Grandpa made for Steve is going to be getting a minor makeover.  I think we're going to be incorporating Steve's idea of white with distressing, and I am really dying to use that blue...  perhpas we'll end up with a white chest and blue drawers?  As far as the knob replacement goes, we're leaning toward either an apothecary-style pull (think old card catalogs or bin pulls from an old-timey hardware store) or something reminiscent of nautical cleats.

Fortunately for this small room, the chest of drawers isn't that big, so we'll still have room for a diaper pail next to it, and with a little makeover it'll take up less visual space in the room and add a fun dose of personality since it's the first thing you see from the hallway.

The view from the hallway.

The next item the Ikea fairy brought us was the wingback chair that will eventually be a rocker (in this case the Ikea fairy is literally Steve's parents... this was a Mother's Day gift from them!).  It's super-comfortable, and the back is high enough for both Steve and I to lean our heads back while sitting in it.  The skis for the bottom have been ordered and should be shipping to us any day now.

We also impulse purchased this super-cool rolling cart in a fun turquoise/aqua color.  I had been wondering what would be most useful for a small table beside the rocker to stash some necessities, and this little guy not only fit the bill of small/a ton of storage, but was also a color we wanted to incorporate into the nursery, there's high lips on every side to prevent spilling/falling,  AND IT ROLLS.  Of course it was coming home with us.

Future rocking station.

So here's everything on Mr. Baby's stripey wall- rocking chair, side table, and crib (which is rapidly filling up with more baby clothes cuteness thanks mostly to Mr. Baby's grandparents).

Getting closer!

Obviously we've still got a lot to do in this room, but I'm so glad things are coming together!

May 14, 2014

Office Updates

Three things drove me to do a little overhaul of my side of the office in the midst of a not-quite-finished guest bathroom, landscaping and yard care like the dickens, and setting up a nursery for Mr. Baby.  1) Many things getting moved out of Mr. Baby's room needed rehoming in our office; 2) Some things getting moved out of the guest bathroom needed rehoming in our office; 3) IT WAS A MESS.

See what I mean?  Good luck finding scotch tape in there.

As usual, I had let too long go between organizational overhauls and I was tired of constantly digging to find whatever random office supplies I needed for the given job at hand.  It was time to purge and restructure.  Plus I had started feeling like the masculinity of our office was taking over the whole room and I wanted to inject a little "clean and girly" vibe on my side of Steve's gargantuan computer monitor.

Here's where I ended up:

Less blurry in real life.

I only bought four things to overhaul my side of the office.  Cute little stacking containers rounded up small office supplies and enabled me to group them easily by type.

Got these in the clearance section at Staples.

Small storage boxes specifically meant to fit our Ikea Expedit unit allowed me to group collections of items by use and brighten things up in the room.

I heart Ikea.

High quality wrapping paper and the blogging world's ubiquitous Martha Stewart bookplates allowed me to transform donated shoe boxes into pretty custom-sized labeled boxes.  Most shoe stores will save castoff shoe boxes for you if you just ask nicely.

The bottom row of boxes now holds our bows, ribbon, wrapping tissue, and bags that used to be stored in the chest of drawers in Mr. Baby's closet.  The rolls of wrapping paper have been corralled against the end of the shelving unit using two Ikea plastic garbage sack holders (I can't claim credit for this genius idea, I saw it on Pinterest).

I still have too much wrapping paper.

I purged some books from my collection (it was fun while it lasted, Twilight) and others (favorite childhood books of mine and a few of my Mom's!) were moved to Mr. Baby's room.  The OCD freak in me loves that my books are now separated by genre- fiction in one cubby, non-fiction in the next, and keepsakes like yearbooks and Bibles in the next.

All of my printer-compatible paper now lives in one box together rather than stacked on its side which will make for less bent corners.  I love that there's a separate box for software and ink- things that I need to keep but don't access frequently.  Perhaps my favorite box is the one labeled "Mail Kit" that I stocked with our business size privacy envelopes, return address stickers, and stamps.  I LOVE having all the things I need to pay a bill or mail a card in one spot, and I love being able to simply pull it down from the shelf to use it and then close the lid and stick it back on the shelf when I'm done.  Life hack!!

Mail Kit, Ink & Software, Paper & Printables; To be filed.

The mercury glass collection that has lived in our guest bathroom since we finished it has found a new home on top of my side of the shelving unit, along with a silver serving platter that we got for a wedding gift and is too beautiful to put food on, and a picture of my co-workers (who are some of the best and most inspiring educators I know).  Overall my arrangement lacks balance, especially with so much going on at Steve's end of the shelving unit, but some of his office-y things (like the giant Corsair poster) may also be moving to Mr. Baby's room, so I'm OK with the lack of balance for now.

Work in progress, but much improved!

Now I'm just keeping an eye out for some art that inspires me and lends to the clean, girly feeling to go on the wall next to my degrees and I'll be completely satisfied.  Until the next time my organization gets unruly!

May 13, 2014

Time for Beds

I managed to get some things planted around this joint during spring break, and due to a recent streak of gorgeous weather, I was able to get outside and get a few more things in the ground.

I added two tiny azaleas to the bed in front of the house.  They should bloom light pink later this spring.

Please ignore the super-patchy lawn and poor lighting.

I feel like this bed is still lacking some balance, so I'm thinking of adding some small mounding decorative grass using the buried pot trick to keep things from getting out of control.

I put in two new beds as well, one in each eastern corner of our lot.  Our thought here was to increase our privacy by planting some evergreen shrubs, and to add some interest to a yard that is very square and about equal parts grass and moss.

Here's a new bed that I made.  Origianally I was going to try a swale as a bed border, but the ground here is very sloped.  I found out quickly that the big maple's root system runs quite shallow in this corner of our yard, so digging more than 6 inches into the soil to plant anything was a no-go.  The landscaping blocks became necessary to make the bed slightly raised so that the new plants wouldn't end up with exposed roots.  With this set, I didn't bother to do the careful measurement and leveling that I did around the big maple in front of our house.  Although it would have looked prettier, I am six months pregnant, y'all, which makes it difficult to do much of anything that requires bending over.  So the edging was eyeballed and the blocks were set to follow the slope of the yard.  I plunked in my pretty evergreen whatever-it-is (I don't know what it is but it was so beautiful that I had to take it home) and my three endless summer hydrangeas.  These photos were taken on an 85 degree day, so some of the hydrangeas look a little worse for wear.

G-Falls landscaping techniques.  See also: neighbor's camper.

They're just having a little late afternoon heat stroke.

Since the swale didn't work on one side of the yard, we just continued the trend with the plunked-down landscaping blocks for the other new bed.  The lone arborvitae has been cruising right along in that spot for who knows how long, and it needed some friends.  The two peonies we inherited from Steve's parents when they moved took front and center, and I flanked them with some pink princess escallonia.  I discovered escallonia when we moved into our first house in Arlington.  It's evergreen, can grow REALLY fast, takes the harshest of prunings like a champ, and gets the cutest little pink blooms on it that hang around forever.  Seemed like exactly the type of plant that would help block our view of the local Napa auto parts and traffic through the next-door preschool's parking area.

Napa?  I don't see one.

Escallonia in the flesh-- er, leaves.

I also finally got around to planting the window boxes on the north side of the house.  I used some dead nettle, hardy fuschia, coleus, and a couple of tiny plantain lily hostas.  These little guys will get zero direct sunlight and hang too far under our eaves to get any precipitation, so this being the first time I've planted small containers in these conditions, I am crossing my fingers that all survive to see autumn.  It sure is fun having some green visible from our office and Mr. Baby's room though!

Hardy fuschia, dead nettle, and a tiny plantain lily hiding.

Coleus is always so dramatic.

Here's what gives me hope for those little window boxes.  The planters Steve made that live on that same side of the house are going gangbusters!  Just check out the difference two weeks have made!

Shade plants goin' crazy.

Boxes and planters and weedy walkways.

I still have more plans as far as gardening goes.  I decided to just bite the bullet and do some container gardening of fruits and veggies this year since there's no way we'll get the south side of our house fit for the raised beds we wanted.  I noticed that most of the plants I put in around the big maple didn't make it through the winter (I think some salal and a couple of ferns are the only survivors), and since I also want to get some rhododendrons planted as screen shrubs, I'm thinking it might be time to add some more soil under that tree and see how some rhodies do there.  I'd also love to get some bulbs planted this fall to give a happy little shock of color first thing in the spring.  Plus the urns are still empty and the clematis that used to grow on our arbor has bit the dust (might've had something to do with driving on the freeway with it flapping in the wind last fall?).

For now though, every plant I bought has found a home, every bag of soil has been used, and I've got more functional and pretty plantings than this property has likely ever seen.  Color me happy.

May 3, 2014

Crib Notes

Plans for Mr. Baby's room are coming together, and so is some of his furniture.  Let's take a little tour of the nursery at this point.

First, we hit a big milestone in prepping for Mr. Baby by finally putting his crib together.  As Steve and I were assembling it, I had one of those surreal "We're Really Doing This" moments that I continually experience as someone whose life plans only recently included having offspring other than furbabies.  Pretty sure that mental image of Steve assembling crib parts will be burned into my memory forever.  The few baby accouterments we've accumulated so far are hanging out in the crib in order to keep them off the floor (and out of puppy dog reach).

Definitely not MTV Cribs.

I also finished up caulking and painting all of the crown, and completed touch up painting around the stripes and a few other parts in the room.  It's always amazing to me how just a few little details can make a room look so "finished."  This corner between the window and the crib is where the rocking chair will go.  I have some grand plans to convert a standard wingback chair into a rocker.  I've heard only good things about Ikea's Strandmon wingback, and found this fabulous tutorial for converting it into a rocker.  I think a wingback will look stylish and obviously the wings will come in handy for when my head gets heavy during middle-of-the-night rocking sessions.

This spot will rock.

And so will this wingback.  {via}

Across the wall with the window is Mr. Baby's closet (which obviously I have not yet cleaned out. Or painted.).  Everything will be coming out of that closet and being relocated or re-purposed.  In its place will go a changing table.  This wasn't our first choice, but the footprint of the room is so small (9.5' x 10' at its largest) that working around other necessities- the crib, rocker, and the chest of drawers Steve's grandpa built- we wouldn't be able to fit a changing table in the room without butting it up against the front of the crib.  Aesthetically it'd be icky, but we're more worried about the point in time at which Mr. Baby gets old enough to try escaping from the crib... we definitely don't want to give him any handy places to give himself a boost up and out of there.  So the bifolds will be coming off the closet.  The changing table will go in there as well as some lighting, overhead storage, and perhaps some extra shelving.

Future tush-cleaning station.

And wouldn't you know it, an Ikea Hemnes 3-Drawer Chest will fit perfectly in that closet.  Since there's going to be so much gray and white in the room, and the linens we registered for ended up being based mostly in aqua with some apple greens and navy (it's hard to find nursery linens that have orange as an accent color!), we're considering painting it a deep blue.  Handily, we've got some extra dark blue paint from my recent door painting fun.

Imagine me in dark blue with some fun drawer pulls.  {via}

Which means that Steve's grandpa's tallboy dresser, which can be seen chillin' in our closet, will end up on the wall between the changing station and the door to the hallway, along with a diaper pail and hopefully some fun artwork.

I don't mean to brag, but that crown looks awesome!

Obviously the two Rubbermaid bins of my non-maternity clothes and Steve's FDNY blanket, which by the way are butted up against the front of the crib, will be relocated.  To make sure we'd have enough room for everything, I used a free room planner to try it out.  Everything in this rendering is to scale, including the furniture.

Pretty small room, eh?

And just for fun, here's a little 3-D version.

If a giant ripped off our roof, here's what he'd see.

Obviously we're lacking some details still, but it feels nice to at least have an inkling of what this room will be like, and to know for sure that we can fit the essentials in!