It's Alive!

I was so thrilled to see these while out watering this morning!




I've never really grown anything other than herbs before, so this is a real achievement for me. In fact, this whole area of the garden is new and growing! And I am feeling quite proud.




If only I had a picture of the before to show you...think overgrown privet shrubs everywhere, cement slab walkway, and sunken cement garbage can holders!

We had the cement removed, the area graded and the new flagstone steppers placed, then we selected and planted all the plants!

Moving front to back, we have green velvet boxwood, purple flowering catnip, dwarf Korean lilacs (can't wait for the Spring blooms!), pink variegated weigela, and golden Japanese forest grasses. In the far corner, we have assorted hasta (we were fortunate to inherit over 50 hasta plants in the existing yard) and lady finger ferns.

Just like accessorizing inside, I choose 3 of each variety of plant and placed them throughout the little garden to keep your eye moving. I love the color and texture combinations.




Eventually when things grow in a bit more, the boxwood will create a nice hedge around the patio offering much needed privacy. The lilacs will hide the view of the window well and the remaining plantings will become a secret garden of sorts. Or at least that is the hope!

Are you having planting success this summer?
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Big Girl Room: Stage 2

I must admit that stage 2 of the Big Girl Room (check out the previous post here) came together much quicker than I could have ever anticipated. I was enjoying my daily wonder through my favorite antique/vintage/resale websites and I came across a beautiful shabby chic, antique white, dresser with matching mirror. It looked a little too good to be true, so I dragged John down to take a look. It was love at first sight and it just had to come straight home with us.


This beauty was found at Pandora's Box, a little antique shop just down the road; visit their website here.

Once this piece was added to the room, I realized that my initial layout of the beds flanking the window was not going to work. To make room for a piece of this size, the beds had to be moved to the other side of the room. I really like the look of twin beds framing a single window, so I was a little sad, but the excitement over the find of this piece made it just a little bit easier to handle!

Now that the room was beginning to take shape I really felt the need to move forward with the window treatments. Window treatments always seem to be the last element to change in a room, probably because they are a bit of an investment, so I wanted to like the curtains independently of the room. This way if I ever changed the wall color or actually got some bedding for this room the curtains could stay.

I debated on the color scheme for this room endlessly. I just wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take it, but in the end, I decided on a more subtle continuation of the color scheme in the nursery: blue, green and yellow. Tessa loves her room now, so hopefully this is the right choice and will make the transition that much easier!

I found curtains that were just the right blend: not too adult, but not too baby either at The Land of Nod. I find their prices to be ever so slightly more affordable than Pottery Barn Kids. Anyway, I settled on the ticking curtain panel in green.



So far, I am happy with how the room is coming together. Now, onto carpets - the most dreaded of searches! I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of time at HomeGoods.

More to come....
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Details in the Living Room

You know what they say, it's all in the details. And that is exactly what I was thinking the other day when I was siting in my living room admiring my new curtain rods!

I know, it doesn't seem like such a small change could make such a difference, but it really has. Check out the before picture. We had standard white curtain rods, attached on the molding, completely hiding the beautiful windows - in my opinion, one of the prettiest architectural features of the room.


Apologies for the old picture (clearly from the holidays), but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the old rods before we changed them. Probably, because subconsciously, I hated them. When you move into a home with so much work to do, you have to make due, turn a blind eye...and that's exactly what we did for the past six months.

But after much negotiating, I finally convinced the hubby that new drapery hardware was needed and what a difference it has made.


The ceilings seem higher, the beautiful moldings can be seen and appreciated, and it's a lot easier to open the windows themselves (they open in). All in all, this small change has really made an impact on the room. So remember, when you are hanging your drapery hardware, don't stop at the top of the window!
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The Kitchen: Now or Later

The hubby and I have been toying with the idea of a new kitchen since we moved into this home. There is no doubt that it is needed, see the evidence below. The questions are more along the lines of how long can we stand it in this condition, when can we afford it, when would be the best time to do it, etc.




This past weekend we took a huge step forward; we met with a contractor we really liked. He was recommended by a couple of our friends and has over 20 years experience. But most importantly, he actually got excited about the plans! This was a big part of what we liked about him. He willingly spent over 2 hours listening to our ideas, brainstorming, and generally offering his expertise. I don't think I have ever had an experience with a contractor like this before.




Our kitchen is not a huge space, but for the age of the house it isn't too bad; at 10' x 14' with an additional 4' x 5' adjoining butler's pantry it's definitely workable. I plan on using a lot of design tricks to make the space feel larger without actually adding any square footage. Think glass fronted, ceiling height, narrow depth cabinetry; counter depth and built in appliances; light finishes, just to name a few.




One of our biggest debates evolves around the oven. Can a kitchen this size handle a double oven? Would we be sacrificing too much counter and cabinet space? Could a free standing, 6 burner, 36", duel fuel range combined with a built in convection microwave oven be just as good? So many things to think about. I'd love to hear an opinion or two from anyone that has been through a similar debate.
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Orchids: How I love thee

I have to say, before I owned my first orchid, I was totally and completely intimidated by them. I mean, look at the beauty and delicacy of this plant!



But now, they are my go-to house plant and gift for any occasion.

An orchid can elevate the look of any room. Here, I have an orchid placed in the hall bathroom at the top of the stairs. This room is no more than a child's bathroom, nothing fancy about that, but the orchid totally changes the whole dynamic of the room - it makes it special!




Orchids are so easy to take care of: they like a sunny spot, but not direct light and just 3 ice cubes once a week. They will bloom for months on end giving you loads of enjoyment and a big bang for your buck! And if you are patient, they will come back - it may take 6 months to a year, but they will come back.

I usually have at least two or three orchids in my home - they just make me so happy! So when I noticed they were on sale at my local grocery today, I just had to pick up another one.


This orchid will provide a lovely centerpiece for several months, virtually maintenance free. And yes, that is a soup terrain that I have re-purposed for this occasion!

Orchids: oh, how I love thee, let me count the ways...

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Favorite Spot - Summertime

I imagine that everyone has a favorite spot in their home. Mine changes seasonally. When the weather is just right, there is no better place to be in our house than the screened-in porch. Being at one with nature, minus the bugs - what could be better?

Honestly, this feature was a huge selling point for me. It isn't a terribly large space, probably about 10' x 10', but it's just enough; enough for a cup of coffee in the morning, an afternoon read, or an after dinner drink. Such an important space requires a lot of thought in terms of design.

So, when our realtor gave us a set of matching white wicker as a closing gift, I was equally excited and a little disappointed that I wasn't able to make the decision myself. This is how our porch looked last summer.






Nice enough, but some changes had to be made. First of all, we found a new home for our garbage cans - not the nicest of views! And because I'm not a huge matchy-matchy person I had to find some way of breaking up all that white wicker. Fortunately, I had some vintage wrought iron that we had picked up during our time in London so I was able to incorporate that as well as a variety of darker accessories. Take a look at the porch this summer.

 



Notice how the dark accessories really ground the space and pop against all that white? What you can't see in these pictures are the newly installed dark iron sconces, rattan outdoor ceiling fan, and bamboo shades. These fixtures tie in nicely with the wood plant stand, brown wrought iron side table, banana leaf tray, and bamboo wind chime. All in all, I am loving this newly decorated space.

One last thing: do you see the water jug peeking out behind the elephant between the chairs; I received it as a gift for my birthday with a challenge attached. I am to turn it into a terrarium! I think a visit to my friends at Chalet is definitely in order for this project.

Where's your favorite summertime spot?
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Big Girl Room: The Challenge

Ok, so I have a confession to make...I have never designed a room from scratch. I usually have at least one of the pieces to begin with and then I build the room around it. That being said, I've never had a 5 bedroom house before either, so I guess I knew this day was coming.

So, my first from-scratch room will be the Big Girl Room. It's an easy place to start, the client isn't too demanding - or is she?? Depends on how nap time goes really!


Here is the room when we moved in (gotta love that carpet)


First things first, the carpet and curtains had to go. Then on a whim, when picking up a predetermined paint for the living room, I decided to randomly pick a paint for this room too. I don't usually make my decisions this way, but in the beginning everything was so overwhelming that I probably wasn't thinking to clearly. Anyway, I choose Sherwin Williams Timid Blue and the color turned out quite well actually.

Next, because I knew this would eventually be the Big Girl Room, I ordered twin beds. I covered them with simple white linens and inexpensive bed skirts from HomeGoods. Any other random blue accessories I discovered while unpacking made there way into the room as well. Mostly the door was closed and the room stayed like this for a long time. I know, knowing me, that is hard to believe!



Lately, now that our little girl is two going on 12, I've been thinking it might be time to turn my attentions to this room again. I need window coverings, storage, carpet, seating, lighting - the works!

The question is, where to start? Color scheme would probably be wise.
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Sunday Brunch

When it comes to entertaining what can really be easier than brunch? Set out some coffee, juice, mugs and glasses and you practically already have a party!


Add some freshly cut fruit, a coffee cake, breakfast bread, an egg dish and a light lunch item and you are done. We stuck to this basic plan last weekend when hosting 10 out of town guests and it could not have been easier!

We served two frittatas, one smoked salmon and dill and one with potatoes and basil, both courtesy of Ina Garten; homemade banana bread, store bought coffee cake, fresh fruit and watermelon gazpacho. By far the most complimented dish was the watermelon gazpacho, from Tyler Florence, so I'll include a link to the recipe here. (links to both cookbooks can be found at the bottom of the post) The gazpacho is an excellent combination of sweet and savory; it's light and refreshing and could easily be the star of any summer lunch or appetizer at a BBQ. I just can't recommend it enough!



Unfortunately the frittatas were not out of the oven when I snuck in a shot of the table. You'll just have to imagine them where the trivets are!

Do you brunch?  What are your no fail, go-to brunch recipes?


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The Little Things

The other night, John, my husband, came home with a gift for our daughter; glow in the dark, sparkly, star wall stickers. How sweet is that?!?! Was it a huge, thought out gesture, no, but was it just as great - yes! Especially to our daughter, Tessa. At this age, she doesn't understand the difference between a gift of crayons or a pony!

I am sure you can guess what was top priority for Tessa the following morning...the stickers had to be added to her room! The whole time chanting, "Daddy gave Tessa star sticker" and anyone that knows this child can tell you that she is in a huge repetition stage!

This is the great thing about a baby's room - practically anything goes. Does it all have to match and follow every design rule - of course not! Do I secretly wish that it did, kind of, but then I remember this room is not about me, it's about her and her simple enjoyment of what it contains.

Here are a couple of pictures of the nursery:

before (again with that carpet!)




after, including the highly coveted sparkly star stickers!



 

I can't say that I absolutely love what is going on in this room, but Tessa does. She loves the animals, flowers and stars and I like the fact that they are commitment free wall decals! I found these decals at Target, but you can find them almost anywhere these days. Here are a couple of suggestions, if you happen to be looking for some at the moment.


Do you agree, should a nursery be a design free zone?
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The Big Picture


Where it all began - love at first sight! After a wrong turn en route to a different listing, this one just had to be seen. And the rest, as they say, is history....



Our 80+ year old home, inhabited by one family for 55 years; it was just waiting for a young family with a fresh eye to bring it out of the past and into the present.


A sea of wall to wall carpet and floral wallpaper everywhere! What had we gotten ourselves into? A lot of work, that's what! But the bones were there and we knew it had potential. We covered the basics first and worked one room at a time just to make it livable. Each room has a master plan, that is ever evolving, but it will come in time.


Here's a look at the living room now - in no way is it finished, but does it work for now - yes!

And that's all a girl can ask for!

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The point

What's the point of this blog....I'm not sure. It's definitely not something most would expect of me. But this last year of transition has taught me a lot; a lot about what I am capable of. I've gone from living overseas with a virtually responsibility free lifestyle to owning a home, taking on things I've never done before, like striping wallpaper, refinishing furniture, and gardening, not to mention raising a toddler! And I've learned that I can do it. I may be learning as I go, but I am enjoying it. So I'm putting it out there for all to see.

I plan to cover anything and everything related to domesticity: Projects around the house, flowers and planting, food and entertaining and any good tips concerning the littlest people in my life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I plan to!
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