Friday, May 30, 2014


I've been shamboozled.

By Ikea.

Remember the five curtain panels that I used to dress our living room and dining room windows.
After a few weeks, I realized I really didn't like how they puddled on the floor. I found that the curtains were constantly getting brushed, which was sounding my slightly OCD alarm,  and I was needing to re-style them frequently. Knowing myself, I figured I would like the nice clean look of a curtains that just kissed the ground, and I even found some information on curtain length on pinterest.

So, it was time to hem them.

I decided I better wash them first to pre-shrink them. I thought I was sooo smart. Look at me, thinking ahead.  So I went ahead and washed all five of my panels.

I washed them exactly as the instructions read. Warm water, no drying. I hung them up in our closet on hangers to dry for several days, and even rotated the fabric to ensure they dried thoroughly.

Then I re-hung them, to begin eyeballing for the amount of length I needed to remove. That's when I realized I had been shamboozled. Like majorly.
Do you know what too short curtains does to my slightly ocd sensibilities (we didn't finish the baseboards in this spot, because we're accounting for the built-ins we'll be adding to this wall)? Isn't that crazy??? They had to have shrunken a full 12".
"Stay calm Megan, there must be a remedy for this."

"Be a problem solver. How can you fix this?"

So I pulled, stretched, yanked, ironed, re-stretched, and re-ironed them. Ironing large curtains is no quick feat and it took me a week to get all five panels done. I found that the fabric stretched better immediately after running a warm iron over them.

Finally, after all of this, I got them closer to where I wanted them. I'll probably do a bit more tweaking to eek out a little bit more length from them.
I win this time Ikea. I win. Even though they are a tad too short at the moment, I'm much happier with their clean look now. In all truth, my sewing skills are so terrible, that I probably wouldn't have gotten the length much better if I hemmed them myself.

I also wanted to share a couple of other additions to the space. A month or so ago, I purchased two poufs for in front of our large chairs. I had hunted high and low for affordable poufs. Do you know how much people charge for these? I'm thinking of going into the pouf business. I got these two on clearance at JCP for $50.00 each (no longer available). While they aren't top of the line quality, I'm happy with their color and they are serving their purpose.
I also finally ordered a mirror that I had admired for over a year.
It was on sale for about $55.00 and I think it's working perfectly for this little spot.
The texture and the round shape are helping with adding layers to the room.
Sometimes I think buying accessories for a home can be tricky. I don't want to run out and spend money on things just to "fill" our house. I want the accessories I buy to have meaning to us, fit our home well, or be something that I can't live without. I don't want anything trendy or popular. This mirror fits the bill for me. After thinking about it and liking it for a year, I thought it was a great addition for the home.  Time can really serve as an aid in helping you make decisions.

So, buyers beware, when buying Ikea curtains purchase them with caution. You don't want to be shamboozled. Have you had any Ikea purchases that you've been really disappointed with?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

They Have Arrived!

How was your Memorial Day weekend? Ours was amazing. It was every bit the recharge and rest that our family needed. It had probably been six months to a year that Jon and I last had three days off together and to boot, it was perfect weather. So, we decided to have a bit of a staycation. We avoided doing any house projects and chores, and instead spent Saturday at a friends cabin at Lake Tahoe (I hope to share more on that cabin soon), spent Sunday riding bikes, going to the pool and BBQ'ing with friends, and on Monday we headed to Donner Lake for a walk followed by an afternoon of napping. With our house finally shaping up to feel like our home, it served as a great retreat during the down moments of the weekend. Jon, un-prompted, even eeked in a total garage clean out which has the place functioning again after a season of constant DIY. 

But back to blogging news.

I received a surprising call on Thursday, that our couches would be delivered the following afternoon. As we both had to be at work, I made some last minute arrangements to have our neighbor (Thank you Sue!) wait for the driver at our house. Fortunately, I was able to rush home and the delivery was late so I was here to greet them. 

Do you remember the last image I shared of the space?
Well, wa-lah!
While I've admitted that brown leather wasn't my first choice for sofas, I'm happy with them. It did take me a moment however, as I wasn't use to having so much furniture on that side of the room!  In my opinion, he brown leather is a nice traditional material,  while the straight arms keeps them clean and modern. We want to ensure that our house stays appropriate for a mountain home, and I think the brown leather does a good job of that, and provides some contrast to the white walls.

Okay, I know I know. It's still very empty. I agree, however we've got the building blocks in place to start decorating this space. Having never seen the couches before, I was nervous for their delivery. I couldn't even watch them be unwrapped when they were delivered. What if I had made a huge, costly mistake? I'm very happy to say, that the couches are 100% of what I was expecting them to be from the online images and from the reputation of the company.
They are deep and comfortable with just the right amount of cush and firmness.
 And while I had been concerned that they would end up having too much red tone in them, in the end I'm happy with their brown color
(although its hard to get the color just right in photos).
You may have noticed that that wasn't the only addition to the space.
I also proceeded and ordered the Chunky Wool & Jute Rug from Pottery Barn.
I'll share with you more about this rug,
and why I made this choice soon.
I also remain really happy with the value of the sofas for the price that we paid.  Our initial goal was to spend $3,000.00 on the two sofas. Considering that initial choices I was looking at were in the $6,000-$7,000.00 (for two) range, I'm really happy that we ended up at $3,300.00 after our 20% off discount. Here's a round up of comparable leather sofa options that I considered and their price points:
 1. Birch Lane: $1999.00- They offer sales frequently, and I got ours at 20% off with no tax.
 2. West Elm: $2,699.00
3. Pottery Barn: $2,799.00
 4. Leather Furniture Expo: $7899.00, final price dependent on depth & custom leather
5. Crate and Barrel: $2,999.00
6. JCP: $4.995.00- Big sales are always available
7. Restoration Hardware: $2,875.00-dependent on depth and leather option
***Prices noted are before tax, delivery, and applicable surcharges.
So what about my plans for a coffee table?
I plan on repurposing our current gigantic ottoman,
which should be affordable and look awesome in the space.
I'm dying to tackle that project, as I think it is going to be the next big
change in the space.
Stay tuned for the low down on my ottoman plans and how I ended up
with that Pottery Barn rug!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Year One of Homeownership: Our Year Two Project List

One of the biggest lessons from the first year of home ownership is how. incredibly. long. it takes to really transform a home. My HGTV skewed mind thought things would get whipped together and transformed much quicker then they have proven to.

The longer we live in the home, the longer my to-do list grows. With every small area we tackle, I have three more ideas to add. I thought I should do a wrap up of our project list for the coming year. While this list certainly isn't comprehensive of everything we'll be tackling (there are loads of small things we'll be trying to get done as well), these are some of the bigger areas where we'll be focusing our time and moo-lah.

1) Mudroom transformation
Our Mudroom is a small space, and I'm not even sure it's large enough to be qualified as a "mudroom." Entry closet, maybe? Fortunately, with the plans we have in mind, it will be reading as much larger and functioning way better for us after we get to work.
This room is the perfect example of a room with a lot of potential, with the possibility of  increasing the value of the home. We just need to unleash it's potential.
Behind that screened door the room extends an additional 2-3'. Currently it's home to a large water heater. That water heater is the reason we haven't started in on the space yet.  The transformation will include removing the water heater and setting up a tankless water heater in our garage (an expensive project that will require a professional), removal of those screened doors, new paint, new lighting, new stone flooring, and a built in style mudroom closet.
This entry may be serving as one of my inspirations.
This ones not too shabby either.
And you know I'm loving the clean contrast of the black hardware on white walls.
2) Re-do our Powder Room
In a fit of mania, we demo'd our small powder room that is just off of our dining room, and we've yet to put it back together. We have the extra hardwood flooring that just needs to be laid, and from there, we'll be shopping for a new vanity, slapping up some new paint (navy blue? charcoal gray?), choosing new light fixtures, and hopefully, if I can be convincing enough, installing some more planking (I said planking!!!).  It really shouldn't be that expensive of a room to do, we just haven't recovered quite enough from our other projects to dive into this one.
I'm thinking I may steal Jon a week without kids so that we can really hit this room aggressively soon. It would be oh-so-nice to have it functioning so that toddlers have a nearby place to wash their sticky hands after a meal.

3) Total re-do of our Master Bathroom
It's probably safe to say that the photo can do must of the talking on this one.
New flooring, double vanity, new drywall (due to a very odd texture on the walls), new lighting, new mirror, barn door, new awesome shower, etc. etc. etc. We'll be pairing the bathroom gut job with new paint and flooring in the master bedroom, which should really start to turn the whole room around.
4) Living Room Built-Ins
While I'm dying to start in on all of these projects, I'm probably most looking forward to the transformation of this large wall. The living room built-ins that we have planned are going to continue to REALLY transform our living room. They will house that obnoxiously large flatscreen TV (purchased by the husband, without my full approval), as well as provide some hidden storage for ugly equipment and gear and open shelves for some pretty display.
I have wanted to have my own built-ins for years (yes, some woman covet handbags, I covet built-ins). YEARS I tell you! Prior to buying, with every home that we toured, I would figure out where we could add in our custom built-ins. Now, the time is getting so close, I can almost taste it.
You'll have to come back next week to hear more about the rug
you get a sneak peak of below.
My hope is to begin on our built-in project in September and have it completed by mid November, so that it can be all styled out for the holiday season. Is it odd that I'm thinking about decorating for Christmas? They are going to add tremendous height to the living room and a little character to the home.
Some built-ins that make me go gaga:
These have me leaning towards a saturated green, or grey green for ours.
Crowned with some molding in a traditional style,
it should help to soften all of the hard straight 80's lines of our house.
So fresh and so clean.
What do you think?  Are we crazy to think we'll get all this done this year? Probably. Are we still going for it? Definitely.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Year One of being a Homeowner: What I've Learned

I've loved being a homeowner. It's been satisfying.  This place is imperfect, lacking, and still so far from completion, but WE'RE CREATING A HOME! Jon and I always felt restless as renters, frustrated by our want to tackle home improvement projects but unable to do so. While the year long process of updates and renovations have been tiring, it's been rewarding for us to see the change that we can create.

It's also been a learning experience. I certainly have a better understanding of what people think of when you hear "first time home buyer." That would be us. The "we'll just fix this, change that, knock down that wall and build those, and we'll have it all done in a few months. Lickity, split." Yeah right. 

Here are a few of the things we've learned in the past 365-ish days:

1) You won't get it right the first time, every time.
And that is totally and completely okay.

Case in point. I have this wall in our dining room and I had planned a nice big blog post about the evolution of this wall, but I never posted it. Because I didn't like what it evolved into.
It started like so, many months ago.
And today looks like this.
Is it better? Yeah. Is it great? No. Am I happy with it? Nope. The lamp was a bad choice that I set there for the time being. I'm not convinced of the turquoise tray, and in general, I'm thinking of replacing the console table and baskets. And the wall sconce has yet to be updated. But it will, soon-ish.

But it's okay. I tried. You're not going to love every decision and every choice. But you have to let it go and decide to move on. I'm really excited about the new plans that I now have for this wall, I just need to borrow someones credit card. Any volunteers?

2) The design decisions that I thought through the most, are the ones that I'm the most happy with.
For the first six months or so, we didn't do a lot on the house. We were re-adjusting our finances to account for this giant new expense of a house, and we were just trying to get the place functional. Meanwhile, we were game planning for what our first projects would be. For some reason, I randomly decided that we'd set out on my planked wall project first. I envisioned that wall for months before it was completed and styled, and in the end it turned out just how I wanted it.
Conversely, I was eager to jump into our master bedroom project immediately after move in. What I am left with is a bad choice of paint color, and an incomplete space. Now that I've pondered and lived in our master bedroom for twelve months, I have a much clearer vision for the space. I can't wait to get out my paint roller and start getting the room in gear. I think I'll be happier with the final product this time.
The too blue walls of our master bedroom.
3) Saving a buck, makes you like an outcome all the more.
I believe that it's okay to spend money and I'm not afraid of doing so.  But, I also feel more satisfied when I know I've saved a buck. For some reason, things that are affordable, look a whole lot better to me. 
My side table, inspired by a more expensive option, 
ticks all my boxes at a much lower Ikea price point.
4) Not having any furniture, can be a great opportunity.
For years, Jon and I were fortunate to be offered second hand pieces from my family, and we welcomed any hand-me-down furniture that we were offered. What we were left with was a mish-mash of things that we didn't love. They weren't us and they didn't fit with the direction we wanted to go in.
While we haven't had many places to sit for the first year, this has enabled us to shop with purpose. We can consider each piece that we buy, ensuring that its proportional, functional, and meets our style requirements (our leather sofa's FINALLY shipped this week, and I'm dying for their arrival-which is still weeks away).
In another year or so, that should mean we'll have ourselves a furnished home, filled with only pieces we like, love, appreciate and value.
It also makes it very easy to cleanse and let go of your older pieces. We're regulars at posting items on craigslist, and usually let go of things for free, just to get them gone.

5) Progress and Change are possible with focus.
A whole home can be overwhelming to transform, but by staying focused on the rewards of the end result, the change you want is possible. And it will be worth it.

For months, I thought we might be stranded in an outdated, blue carpeted abyss for years to come. I didn't know if what I had in my head could actually be translated to our home. But little by little, staying focused on one project at a time, each piece has started to come together to form one big changed home.
Our small entry shelving nook was dismal when we moved in.
The small update of some shelves and bins,
is now super functional, and in tune with the rest of our house.
6) Stick to your guns and vision, and don't be swayed by trends and opinions.
When I told some people that I was painting our main living floor white, some looked at me like I was crazy. White is not a go-to paint choice in the mountains.

When I wanted to plank a wall, folks didn't get it.
Not gonna lie, I was a little nervous about the project halfway through.
When I said we were removing the whole fireplace, people thought I was devaluing the house.
There goes the fireplace.
But I'm really happy with each and every one of those decisions. By following our gut instincts and making choices that make us happy, our home is evolving into the place we want to be.

Between pinterest and blogs it is very easy to convince yourself that you like something. When you see it done in home after home, you begin to think you should do it to. Come on, it's what all the cool kids are doing! I really try to evaluate purchases before I make them, to ensure that I'm making them because I'm crazy about the item and not because I know starburst mirrors are all the rage, or that chevron is so hot, or that Moroccan style shag rugs are THE in rug of the season (there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things, I just don't love them for us).

7) There is a proper order to change and design.
Go figure.

We painted the upper portion of our master bedroom walls, only to realize that to install the lower wainscoting on the walls, we needed to rip up the baseboards. And we couldn't install the new baseboards until the carpet was changed out. And we couldn't afford to change the carpet out. So yeah. We jumped the gun there.

Unfortunately, the first projects can be the most expensive (cough, cough, hardwood flooring), making it hard to free up the cash to do much else. But don't let that discourage you. At some point, you will get to shop for pillows, lamps, and all of the other "fun" details (I'm just starting to shop for textiles for our living room, and it is awesome!).

8) Time. There is NEVER enough time.
I guess I had anticipated that renovations would be expensive so the cost of updates hasn't really surprised me. I've actually been surprised at how much you can save by shopping smart and doing the work yourself.

What has surprised me is the TIME! The time it takes to convince your husband to do a project, the time it takes to get the project done, the time it takes to make 5 trips to Home Depot for said project, the lack of available time to do the work, the time for orders to get delivered, and the number of times your kids will come in and interrupt you while you try to do a simple task. TIME!

9) It's just a house
We searched long and hard for this house, but what I've realized is that we could have purchased any house. We could have painted, installed flooring, and furnished any floorplan and it would have become our home. While I am finding that a welcoming home really does improve your quality of life, I also know that they are all just things. They can all be replaced. There will always be something else beautiful to buy. This house won't be caring for me in the hospital when I'm sick, it doesn't make me laugh out loud, and it won't be driving me to doctor's appointments when I'm too weak to do so.
The people within the house, are far more awesome than it's walls.

Our best attempt at a family photo this Easter. 
Nolan is one mustache wearing pirate, what can I say?
Tomorrow I'll be back to share with you our project list for the upcoming year!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Year One of being a Homeowner: My Not So Favorite Things

Yesterday I shared with you my favorite things about our home, and now I'm back to fill you in on all of the funky little bits about this house that drive me a bit mad.

We all have them. I'm talking about all of the spots that your friends and neighbors might not notice, but as the homeowner, you do. Maybe you didn't notice them when you first toured the house, but after facing them day in and day out, they irk you. These are the quirky, outdated and funky bits of our home that I haven't pointed out here yet.

1) The Baseboards in our Master Bedroom
They are teeny-tiny, thin and don't match. Unfortunately, we have to wait until we change out the carpeting ($$$) before we can install heartier ones.
2) The Window Casings, or lack there of,  in our Master Bedroom
Yep, that's a nail sticking out from under one of our windows. Gorg, right? I can see this spot from my vantage point in bed, and I'm constantly asking: How did that nail get left like that?
3) This Light
It's on our pitched ceiling above our kitchen (which has yet to be painted), and quite frankly, I don't know what to do with it.  I'm open to suggestions.
4) This Window
Can you say, "off centered"? It's one of the first things you see when you walk through the front door (that baby gate is only temporary, and it should be gone in about a year) and it's thrown me for a bit of design challenge as to try to camouflage it's imbalance.
5) This Unfinished Wall
The lack of molding on the upper portion of this wall kills us. Angers us actually. It's like this wall was constructed, and just left out to die. We have a quick and affordable fix in mind. We. just. need. the. time. to. get. it. done. 
6) This Plant Ledge...and Entire Wall
The wall in general screams 80's to me with all of its harsh edges. I don't need a ledge to set my plants on thank you very much. That unattractive (cheap!) track lighting system is an eyesore and that cut-out way up high with the bad trim. Oy vey. I'm tossing around solutions and when the timing is right, I'll gently present them to Jon and see if I can get him on board (and no, we haven't finished painting that high ridge of the ceiling).
7) The Carpeting in our Master Closet
The steely blue carpeting in our bedroom (and previously in our entire house), butts up to a royal blue shade in our closet. Need I say more?
Tell me I'm not alone in having spots in our house that drive me crazy. Do you have little corners, hidden nooks, and angles that you hate looking at? Trust me, this isn't the full run down, these are just the top picks that came to my mind.

Come back tomorrow where I'm sharing what I've learned in the first year of home ownership.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Year One of being a Homeowner: My Favorite Things

Last Sunday, Mother's Day, marked the one year anniversary of the day that Jon and I moved our little family into our home. The year has truly flown by, and I think that we are just now hitting our stride with getting this place looking more like us.
The day we got our keys, May 8th, 2013
Truth be told, the first nine months we kind of...sort of...pretty much...hated the house. We wondered whether we had made a bad choice.  The more hours during the winter months that we spent hibernating inside, the more we had time to look at things. Stare at things. Despise things. It wasn't until February, when painting was in full swing and some solid demo had begun, that we really started to believe in the house a bit more.  
At times, it was certainly hard to see beyond the mess and disaster, to what could be.
Now that it's spring, transformations are in motion, and we're feeling a bit more house proud. I think there are even a few things that we can say that we like about this house. I thought I would share:

1) Our mature yard:
The previous owners had a passion and gift for gardening, and they put in many years of work to create a beautiful yard. We are surrounded by a variety of mature trees, providing lots of comfortable shade in the warmer months and loads of privacy. They terraced the yard, and nurtured flowers that come back year after year. From our windows the greenery of the tree tops is refreshing and provides movement and life, even in the dreary months of winter. Now that temps are in the seventies, our backyard, and the "big lawn" as Nolan calls it is becoming our favorite place to be.
The view from our small front deck.

It was the perfect setting for an impromptu boys camp out last summer.
2) Privacy:
The mature gardening that was handed down to us certainly lends greatly to this, but the space between all neighboring homes helps to. Sure, you can see the neighboring homes to the left, right, and rear of us, but none of them are close. There is lots of breathing room, and the trees really help to camouflage them from our view. Across the street from our home is a large lot, with a home tucked back, so our front view is very private as well.
The property and home across the street from us.
3) Neighbors:
We have some amazingly friendly neighbors. It. is. so. awesome. There are several families with small kids in both directions from our home, not to mention a nearby court where we spend many an evening watching Nolan ride his bike (with several other small kids). Kids have taken to knocking on our door after school to see if Nolan can come out, and you can find them running through our house and yard (I thought a three year old boy was hard, watching 6 & 8 year old boys sprint through my house is dizzying). In warmer months, most evenings you can find us standing in the street talking to a neighbor. 
A photo I snapped of Nolan and his bike gang the other evening.
4) The size of our living room:
Now, bear with me. If you live in a more affordable area than us (ie, most of the country), our square footage is probably laughable. I get it. While I don't believe the builder did a great job with everything, I do think that he did a good job with the amount of space he allotted for our living room. In many a home we toured, so little space was allotted for the family living room. Odd right? It's where most of our time is spent, and because it flows easily to the dining room and kitchens its valuable for us that it is large, and we can have ample seating. When it arrives, that is.

5) Our deck space:
I'm working on a post regarding my plans for the decks, so you'll have to wait for the full post for all the deets, but to put it short and sweet, we have 3 decks, and the potential for 1-2 great patios. When the kids are napping, you can usually find us lounging in the shade on deck 1, 2 or 3.
Our small front deck.
Our lower rear deck with a sneak at some patio furniture 
we purchased a couple of weeks ago.
I'm secretly dying to style this space out with a rug, side tables, lighting and plants,
but the living room remains our priority.
Who knows, maybe by next year, something inside the house will top my list of favorites. Tomorrow I'm sharing all the small things about this place that drive me nuts!