Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Great Furniture Hunt 2014: Part III

It's time to talk sofas, folks.

Jon and I purchased a sofa, prior to children, on sale from World Market, for $350 bones. Amazing right?!?! What an awesome deal! Not so much. Within six months, it looked frayed, battered and...overly loved. That was our first lesson in "you get what you pay for". We vowed to buy quality furniture in the future (and to never buy furniture at World Market again, but that's a whole other post).

Our family, we wear our furniture hard. Harder than most probably. Maybe we're more prone to spills? I'm not sure what the reason is, but our furniture is left looking...loved. If you asked me what my ideal dream sofa would be at the moment, I'd probably tell you something like this. It's the Pottery Barn Comfort Square Sectional, and it would probably total about 4k, with shipping and tax. Be still my linen- blend-loving, modern-lines, casual-draped heart.
However, if I bought this, my kids would have to watch their favorite cartoons on Saturday morning on the floor. And I'd have to tell our guests to bring their own camp chairs when they come over. And Blue would have to move out of our house. And I'd have to give up drinking wine while I binge watch Netflix....and we all know that's not gonna happen. And don't even get me started if one of my friends kids touched the sofa (imagine me sprinting across the room to set down a towel before they touched my beauty). ANXIETY ATTACK. Yep. This beauty just does not fit with the stage of life that we're currently in. I know us better than that. Who knows, maybe this will be my "when the kids leave for college and I don't have grandchildren yet couch". Maybe.

Take one more look at her. She's great.

Moving on. If you told me five years ago that I'd be forking over lots of hard earned cash for a leather sofa, I'd have laughed at you. Leather has never been my thing. Then, I got logical.  After we have worn and battered 3-4 sofas in five years, I realized that it's probably the only material that can hold up to our family. There are other positives to leather for us: it is very popular in Tahoe homes so it will help with staging when we resell, it will keep us cool in our warm upstairs living room during the summer, and because our upstairs stays comfortably warm in the winter, it shouldn't be a problem when temperatures drop.

Now leather sofas can be done really badly or they can be done well:
Mixed and layered for a warm inviting look
The downside is that when it's done well, and it's real leather, it's expensive. Muy expensivo.

You might remember that after playing with layouts, I had narrowed our living room configuration down to this:
or this:
I loved the idea of a sectional, for it's comfort, casualness, and maximization of seating. It's what I had my heart set on. However, after laying it out I really warmed to the idea of two separate sofas, for flexibility of layout and the more traditional format.  The final configuration would depend on the exact furniture pieces that I was able to find, at fair prices. I was trying to keep an open mind.

When buying furniture, which is already expensive, tax and shipping charges can really add up. Like 4 digits up. So, the pricing that I'll note here  includes tax and delivery charges to our area. It's a more fair representation of their costs.

Enter, the mother of all leather options: Restoration Hardware. They do leather, and they do it well. Their Maxwell sectional option was my first love. My first choice. This would be my "If I had a million dollars" leather sectional. The price on this beauty, on sale (they run sales pretty regularly on furniture), with shipping and tax was $7,454.00.
Yeah, or I could send my children to college.
So on to the next.
Enter: Pottery Barn
Wasn't loving the tone of the leather,
so I definitely wouldn't pay the inclusive cost of $7059 for one.
 So I did lots of searching and found some other online retailers that I liked.
I thought I might have had a secret source that would be a home run when I landed at
Leather Furniture Expo. I even ordered several complimentary leather samples.
Their popular Napa Sectional, is supposedly the same make and model of a piece Restoration Hardware sold way back when.
It comes it lots of customizable leathers, and I loved their antique leather options.
However, when I realized it still totaled $6499.00
(they do offer free shipping, which is huge but the maximum sale they run is 5% off),
and then I proceeded to give Jon a small heart attack
at the mention of it, I realized it was back to the drawing board.
Crap.  I was running out of options.
 JCP had a nice leather sofa option available in a couple of lengths,
and because of their regular sales, the price was totally fair at about $2700.00.
However, it didn't come in a sectional version, and the leather was darker then I preferred.
 West Elm had a sofa available online that fit the bill:
It's available in two lengths and I liked the warm tone of the leather.
The sofa price ranged from $2,299-$2,699.00 plus tax and a $100.00 delivery surcharge.

They had a sectional version as well, however it was only available in black. I was appalled.
So get this: I went online, and I wrote them a note about how it needed to be available in brown. I know, all they need is my opinion on their furniture line. I even said "I have a home d├ęcor blog"!!!! I kill myself sometimes.

Anyways, within a couple of weeks, guess what showed up on their website:
Clearly, it didn't become available at my urging
(I think there had been a glitch on the site and it just wasn't showing).
Her measurements were perfect.
For a  moment I became totally obsessed.
It totals $6,299.00 including tax and shipping,
however they run sales frequently so I knew I'd be able to nab it for less than that.
But then, I wavered.

Perhaps two small sofas were better than one large one? It's funny how when you're seeking something out, other solutions and options present themselves. You'll have to stay tuned for the reveal on which direction we're going! Oh, and maybe, just maybe, I'll have a few sneak peaks of our dining room WITH HARDWOOD FLOORS next week.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Drabby Dining to Fabby Dining

Ready or not, it's time to talk about our dining room plans.

Our dining room is part of our very open main living area.  The original listing photos from  the home show the dining area tucked into the rear of this photo. And yes, the previous owners liked house plants.
Here she is.
She is flooded with lots of natural light,
and the patio doors lead out to our upper deck.
This is how she looked on our final walk through,
while the sellers were packing up.
Immediately after we moved in and plopped our existing dining table there,
the space was looking like this.
And then, after we upgraded to a farm table, a la craigslist,
the space sat like this for several months.
Then I thought and I painted.
I game planned and I started buying things.
I played with, adjusted, and tweaked this design board for months.
I'll be breaking everything down with the deets in the coming weeks, but here's the board by the numbers:

1) After weighing several (hundred) curtain options, I decided on an ubber affordable Ikea linen blend curtain, oil rubbed bronze hardware to compliment all of the light fixtures, some roman bamboo blinds for texture (I'm addicted to them), and some artwork framed up in gold.

2) There is a small pocket door in the space that leads to our  half bath. The wood and trim of the pocket door don't match the other wood and trim in our house, so it's the perfect opportunity to breath some new life into it. That outdated door is getting a coat of paint and new clean trim (FYI, I've already tackled this project and I'm so happy I did. Details soon!) . And maybe some taxidermy to go above it? We'll see.

3) Our dining table is already in place, but I'm actually going to be giving it a good sanding and protective clear stain to help manage it's slightly-too-rough texture. Those pendant lights...they've been ordered. I did it during a rush of temporary insanity while they were on sale, and I think they are going to make a world of difference. I'm hoping to swap out the chairs that came with the table, for some lower profile black modern farm style chairs, but Jon tells me that's low on the priority list. Fortunately, I manage the lists around here.

4) This is the first room we're tackling with our hardwood install. I'm considering an indoor-outdoor area rug for under our dining table, for texture and easy clean up. I've been eyeing this one for months, just waiting to pull the trigger on it.

5) And finally, I've been working on a little console area in the space, complete with a round mirror, baskets for hidden away storage, and some ambient lighting.

I've heard it said with home renovations that things have to get worse before they can get better. This past week, things got worse. Way worse. We shuffled things around, stayed up late, and finally painted the ceiling in here white (I finished the walls, all on my own thank you very much, the week prior). This is the room as we prepped it for paint.
From this angle, you get a glimpse of our half bath and pocket door.
And that is a portion of our hardwoods, sitting in waiting.
After the late night of painting,
the next day the carpet came up.
And we lived with her like this for the week.
The burgundy racing stripe is the prior paint choice
that was revealed when we pulled up the base boards.
That little stripe killed me, so I had to give it a quick paint over this weekend.
Today and the next few days, Jon is at home without children working on the dining room flooring install. I CANNOT wait to see this room transformed. Eeeek!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lighting it Up

Lighting, textiles and rugs top my favorite components in a home. Any and all of them can completely re-route the direction that your home is headed in. They take it from anyone's house, to your house. There are so many amazing options out there in all of these categories, and even better, a lot of big box stores are making knock offs of higher end versions, so you can take advantage of some great price points too.

When I talked about changing out our light switch plates, I mentioned repetition and flow throughout a home. It's something I'm hoping to achieve but it means always thinking four steps ahead. Because every light fixture in our home is outdated, they all need to be replaced. That is actually awesome (because I get to shop for light fixtures!), but it also  means ensuring that I work towards flow and repetition with my choices and that I keep them all within a reasonable budget (little splurge here, economical choice there...).

       Our house is currently adorned with what I assume were
 big box store lighting fixtures,
and I'm guessing most are original to the 1987 construction.
There's not a lot of rhyme or reason to them.
Who's game for a tour?
Living room sconce
(you might remember that we previously had two of 
these bad boys in our master bedroom)
Dining room sconce
(complete with cobweb, thank you very much)
Dining room chandelier
Kitchen pendants
THAT ceiling fan
Sconce above our stairs
Mudroom flushmount
(this one reminds me of a jellyfish)
Hallway flushmount
Hallway sconce
Careful, you may now be suffering from post traumatic unfortunate light syndrome. No flow. No repetition. Everything looks very unplanned and disconnected. There are SO MANY amazing fixtures out there on the market, it's a shame to not take advantage of them and add some real glow (pun totally intended) to your own house. The challenge is choosing ones that you will love day in and day out, serve their purpose effectively, compliment one another and are proportional to the space.  Here's what I've come up with:

1. These swing arm wall sconces are already up on our behemoth planked wall. I love them, and I feel great about the $100.00 price point (they were recently on sale for $80.00 which is a steal for these!) that I was able to snag each for. We're really  happy with their look, and the light they put off.

2. I had been hunting for just the right schoolhouse flushmount for a few hallway spots that we have. I already had my eyes on these, but when I spotted them over at The Nester's place, sprayed black, I was sold!  The mount will be getting sprayed black, to coincide will all of our other light fixtures and they will live on our mudroom ceiling, and downstairs hallway ceiling. Wait for it... they are under $20.00 a pop.

3. Oh, ceiling fans (sigh). You rarely see a nice looking one. Ours greets you when you step through the front door and currently the greeting is bad. But, I found this option, and I love it (I mean, as much as one can love a ceiling fan....which generally isn't very much). It has nice clean lines, features a schoolhouse light which will compliment our flushmounts, and the black and maple finish will tie into our other fixtures and wood features throughout the house. My goodness I can't wait to have that thing spinning overhead. It's on the pricier side (you know I'm going to keep my eyes out for a sale) and you can definitely buy fans for much cheaper, but I figure I'm saving on some of my other lighting choices, and this warrants a bit of splurge. This thing is currently at the top of my must-purchase list, so hopefully we'll have it in our hands in early March!

4. After wavering between lanterns or these,  I finally pulled the trigger and purchased two  for over our long farm dining table. I like them for their clean lines, and how visually open the space will remain with them hanging overhead. These were on sale for 20% off, and the shipping fee wasn't terrible, so I went for it in a moment of madness. I figured I got the table and chairs for such a steal, I was allowed a bit of a spend on the lighting. The ability to rationalize my's how I'm able to sleep at night.

5. I love barn style lights, and I HAD to have one somewhere.  This one will be planted above our stairs, front and center when you enter the house, with a galvanized cage for some added character. It's from Barn Light Electric, a store I had been stalking for some time. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't outrageous. It has already arrived, now I just need to get it up on the wall.

6. I'm still on the look out for three wall sconces. I thought I had the perfect contender, but it just wasn't right. So my hunt continues. I plan to keep them on the affordable end of the spectrum,  so stay tuned for developments.

I'm also keeping my eyes open for some great table lamps to add some ambient lighting.   I think those will be a great place to incorporate  color and other textures into the space, but I need to ensure they aren't too precious, due to inquiring little hands. Do you have light fixtures in your home that you love to hate? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Great Furniture Hunt 2014: Part II

So, I shared with you some of the shopping I've done for seating for our living room. You may remember, that I left you with the reveal that we'll be buying two of these guys to rest below our planked wall.
So what will be sitting between them?
Something I have a fairly unhealthy obsession with: a wicker trunk.
Source Unknown
(ironically, I just picked up those striped pottery barn pillows
in amazing condition at our local thrift store for 10 bucks each!)
House and Home
Source Unknown
Source Unknown
Are you picking up what I'm putting down? The texture. The character. Its a little bit country. A little bit rustic. And a whole lot of me. I can't wait to get my hands on one....after we have our hardwood flooring project done, obvi.
The first trunk that I saw retailing was this one.
It was absolutely perfect. I was in love. But it was out of my budget at $299.00.
Leave it to Ikea to have a similar option, at a much lower price point ($59.99!).
Enter the BYHOLMA Chest
I saw it in a fleeting moment while I was in Ikea
(I had both kids with me, and immediately after seeing it, the meltdowns began),
 and I was impressed with it.
Sturdy. Attractive. Nice dimensions.
Pinterest was filled with images where people had put the affordable BYHOLMA to attractive use.
When I looked more closely at this refined boys room that I was already in love with
 and realized those were the chests in question, I was completely sold.  
It was official: the Ikea chest was the way to go. I have a trip to Ikea in mind for mid-March (the nearest one to us is hours away) and I have a list of things I'm hoping to gather while I'm there. I can't wait to have my chairs and wicker chest in place, so I can move on to daydreaming about something new.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

That Nook: A Reveal

Over a month ago, I shared with you an ugly little nook that resides just inside our front door. The configuration wasn't a good use of the space, and it wasn't meeting its storage potential. While I thought my little nook overhaul plan would only take a weekend (When will I learn?), it took us closer to a month.

The walls of the nook weren't perfectly even (areas were concave, etc.) so we had to change our design plan along the way. We also had a weekend guest, a 1st birthday party to throw, and Jon and Quincy both came down with colds in the month, so yeah, we got delayed. BUT it is finished, and it's looking lots better.
Jon getting his power tool on in our garage.
I shared on instagram our wood staining in progress.
We went with Min Wax's Special Walnut for a dark aged look.
We used some tutorials we found online as our jumping off point,
but Jon had to customize our plans to fit our imperfect nook.
There was lots of gluing, bracing and drying.
Here's the before again:

And finally, the after:

The shelves turned out exactly how I had envisioned them.
Kudos to Jon.
During the process of building the shelves,
we started demoing in preparation for our hardwood install.
Hence...the baseboards have been removed,
revealing that the house was previously painted burgundy.
I'm aware that this is a teeny tiny space, and a teeny tiny update, but it makes me happy. I can see this spot from any vantage point in our living room and it is so much easier on the eyes now. And, more importantly, the additional shelves and bins are making our home work for us so much better. No more gathered piles of shoes, gloves, hats, and socks (Are my children the only ones that are constantly removing their socks?) at our front door. Everything is contained and hidden away.

I'm still on the hunt for some vintage letters to adorn each basket, so we know who's junk is who's. And, we may add a fifth shelf, but we can't do so until after the hardwoods (is anyone else getting tired of me saying "after we install the hardwoods"?) are laid in that little space.  I'm currently dying (DYING!) to replace that terrible front door with a single pane french door, but alas, because of clearance with the flooring, that project is on hold too. But, as soon as those hardwoods are down, that door will be at the top of my list. I plan on giving the french door a coat of gray paint (or navy...or green...), kind of like this:
Today I am thankful for attractive storage solutions and a husband that is dead set on doing every project correctly, no matter how long it takes. Hours after finishing the shelves, Jon immediately dove into building us a custom baby gate (it will be white and planked!), that will reside at the top of our stairs for the next year or two. I'm beginning to feel like a bit of a slave driver.