a little house project

We’ve been in our house for 7.5 years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever wished to go back to that first year of remodeling. Literally an entire year without a kitchen (we used a toaster oven, microwave, crockpot, and electric wok in our laundry room – the fridge was in our living room) and constant dust and mess and upheaval.

But enough time has passed that I’m starting to get itchy for little cosmetic changes. This weekend we tackled an area that has bothered me for a long time – the little entertainment center nook in our living room.

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{This photo is from back in 2010, but the walls are as blank now as they were then}

The back wall has always been empty (minus seasonal Christmas decorations) and just blah. It’s a kind of an odd space, and it just always felt lacking, but we didn’t really know what to do with it. Well, we finally decided to give the back wall a little facelift, and we love how it turned out!

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We got a couple sheets of 1/4″ birch plywood and had them rip 6″ planks right in the store. We used two different stains – a base coat of weathered gray, followed by a coat of dark walnut – to get them the color that we wanted. Then we cut those puppies down to size and nailed them up on the wall. A couple coats of polyurethane to seal the deal and the wall was done.

The whole family loves it when we have Christmas lights up in the nook, so we decided that we wanted to make little patio globe lights part of our new look. The lighting that it provides is perfect, and it’s just the cozy feel we were going for. If you come over, you can find out how we turn them on and off. 🙂

Next on the list is for Ian to build us a new entertainment center, as this 11-year old IKEA model is pretty worn out (and broken). After that, we’ll figure out what sort of decor we might add to the wall, but for now we’ll enjoy this simple look. It was fun to have a small project to work on – especially in the space where we spend most of our time. I love it!

 

 

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making a cozy home

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::: home is wherever I’m with you :::

One of my goals for the new year was to add more artwork and decor to our walls – to fill blank spaces with things that reflect who we are as a family and that make our house feel like a cozy home. I think it’s people who make a house a home, and how a home looks and feels should reflect the people that live there.

As I shared my vision with Ian, he got this tight, frozen smile that means that somehow I’ve made him nervous. And while we are usually 95% on the same page when it comes to style and decor, turns out that he doesn’t want every square inch of our walls covered in stuff. Huh.

Well, that was never actually my plan. But there were blank spaces that made me feel unsettled. We put so much time into fixing our house that the wall decor was the very last thing on our list. And then just as we were about to get to it, our little Luke was born. And so we spent his first year staring at him, not the walls.

But a few months ago I started noticing it again – the lack of “us-ness” in certain areas. So I’ve been slowly working on cozy-ing the place up, and to me it makes all the difference.

Some things were investments – a canvas and some prints from our family photo shoot last summer.

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Other things were DIY – Luke got a magnet board for Christmas (stainless steel fridge = no fun for kiddos).

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My heart is warmed by fun, organizational additions, like our DIY family whiteboard calendar.

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One of our bedroom walls finally came alive with this DIY collage wall (yes, that is LOTS of Luke, but we plan to change out photos here and there… and for the record, it was Ian who couldn’t limit himself when choosing pics of his boy).

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Even little nooks like the one outside Luke’s room have warmed up.

::: felt flower hoop art available in my shop :::

::: felt flower hoop art available in my shop :::

So I’m feeling a lot more coziness in our home with just these little changes. There are still spaces I want to fill (and spaces I will leave alone, for Ian’s sake!), but I’m happy with our home.

Speaking of adding little tidbits to brighten up your home, you should head over to my shop – I’ve added some new items that are perfect for making homes more cozy.

What are your plans for your home this year? How will you make it more of a reflection or yourself or your family?

life at home these days

Things are in process around here. We are remodeling our laundry room and it is giving me flashbacks of a couple years ago when our entire house was in progress. Luckily we haven’t had any setbacks, just the usual minor change of plans that comes with remodeling. A weekend project will now be more like a week-ish project.

As you can see, the contents of our laundry room have been emptied into the piano room while we put in the cabinets, and for the first time ever, Luke is dealing with the presence of a baby gate in the house. He’s doing pretty well, aside from his frequent attempts to climb it.

Of course, there are certain distractions to keep him busy…

Yeah, it’s like Christmas has come early for this little fellow.

The other love of his life right now is dolphins. He completely freaked out when we saw them at the Vancouver aquarium back in September, he shook with excitement during the entire program.

Then a few weeks ago I needed to buy some time to make dinner, so I put on a youtube video of a dolphin show at Sea World. That was a mistake – now he assumes that whenever mom or dad is on the laptop, we are watching dolphin videos.

So when we were at the library earlier this week, we picked up a couple books on dolphins to indulge his interest. One of the books we came home with is a rather dry chapter book with black and white sketches. But once he had it in his little hands and was squealing at the cover photo, there was no way I could quietly get it away from him without a rather loud scene in the library.

And we have spent HOURS looking at these two dolphin books. Two hours on the first day alone. I know them inside and out. And he now says “dole-dole!” all.the.time. I mean, I guess I can’t complain – it’s not spiders or something horrid. It’s dolphins. And I did attend careers camp at Sea World back in high school. Twice, actually.

So I whipped up a little stuffed dole-dole for him the other night.
He was playing with it so sweetly this morning – making him jump on the dolphin book – so I tried to take a photo.

Well, you can see how that went down.

Yeah. He is also really into seeing the photos on the back of the camera.
Not so much into being photographed.

Except when he’s sleeping. Then he’s an angel.

Anyways. That’s what’s going on around here. Happy weekend to you all!

spring cleaning!

Call me crazy, but I love me some spring cleaning. However, with a kiddo hanging around me now, I’ve had to change up my game plan a bit. It’s been on my mind, so I thought I’d share some spring cleaning tidbits!

  • Figure out your method. What will work best for you? In the past I’ve been a fan of setting aside big chunks of time – maybe a whole weekend – to just knock everything out. I knew that was a no-go for me now that baby boo is here. So I decided to do small projects over a longer period of time. You could also set aside small blocks of time (an hour after work a few times a week, or maybe during nap times if you’re home with a kiddo).
  • Come up with a game plan. Set dates, put it on your to-do list, buy any supplies you need – get ready to make it happen! This last week I decided I would accomplish three things: cleaning/organizing the hall closet & shoe holder, cleaning out the top drawer of the shoe holder (it had turned into a junk drawer), and dusting two sets of window blinds. I chose three days to make them happen and put it on my calendar. If you need ideas of what to take on, or if you like lists and assignments, check out Money Saving Mom’s 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home series, it’s great!
  • Clean what matters to you. It’s your house – what do you really want to clean? I hadn’t cleaned our blinds since we installed them a couple years ago – some of you are going “what!? you don’t dust them every week?” and others are saying “you’re supposed to clean them?” It didn’t bother me until I noticed a thick layer of dust a few months ago – that was the motivation I needed to want to clean them. Last year it didn’t even cross my radar, and that’s totally fine. Don’t waste your time dusting blinds if what you really want is an organized closet.
  • Use little helpers. Okay, so Luke is not even a year old, so he wasn’t exactly tackling my projects for me. Since I knew I’d be doing my cleaning while taking care of him, I came up with a plan to involve him. I knew he’d love the textures of the gloves and hats in our hall closet, so I had him “help” with those while I cleaned out the closet. When I cleaned the piano room blinds, I gave him a clean rag to play with and let him stand on the couch between myself and the window. He was happy as a clam hanging out with mama and “dusting” the windowsill. Figure out the best way for your kid to “help” – Luke’s at the stage where he just likes being included, but an older toddler could help with matching up mittens or dusting the baseboards while I dusted the blinds, etc.
  • Don’t be an overachiever. If you’re like me, you may get a bit of an adrenaline rush when you complete a project. After I finished cleaning the second set of window blinds, I really wanted to tackle the other three. I really like to get things done, but I knew it would be a mistake to try to knock it out – I needed to make dinner soon, and Luke’s attention span probably wouldn’t have lasted. So do the project that you set out to complete – or use the block of time you’ve set aside – but no more, or you’ll burn out or end up with a half-finished project.
  • Enjoy your accomplishments! I make an effort to look at and appreciate what I’ve already accomplished – it motivates me to keep things organized and take on more projects. It’s a good thing to take care of your home well, so take some joy in that fact!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you, hopefully it helps!

What are your spring cleaning tips and tricks? Happy cleaning!

a more welcoming entrance

Pretty much since we’ve been in our house, I’ve been talking about putting in a path from the street to our front door. Not only would it be handy for getting the mail, but it would make things way less awkward when people visit. Some people are willing to walk across the lawn, but most go all the way around to the driveway, and squeeze their way past our cars to get to our front walk. Anyways, it wasn’t exactly a priority when we were living with a semi-complete bathroom and no real kitchen. And last summer we did so much to the yard, including a nice back patio. So the front path finally made the to-do list this summer – one of two things we were going to do “before the baby came.” Right. Well, we committed to doing it Labor Day weekend. My mom had a furlough day off of work on Friday, so she volunteered to come up for a couple days to watch Luke while we worked. This project came together so quickly, it was very gratifying!

We knew from previous experience that spending a little money to rent a sod cutter for a few hours would be well worth it! Ian had the sod cut in a matter of minutes versus hours of us digging it up.

       

We hauled off the sod, raked it fairly level, put down landscaping fabric, sand and added the pavers (yeah…no pictures of that part). Meanwhile, Luke supervised, which proved to be very tiring for the little guy…


The next day we looked at our mulch options. I really wanted something unique – I had my heart set on cocoa husks that I had seen at Sky Nursery in Shoreline last year. But none of the local nurseries carry it, and in the end it was probably not the best choice because it can make dogs sick. So we went with beauty bark (the bane of my childhood – every.single.summer we spread it in our yard). And I will say that I love the end result.

The view from the street, before and after:

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Looking at our house from the street - after

The view from our front door, before and after:

     

So happy to see this project done! And the view from the kitchen window is nicer now too. It was a fun project, and we were thankful that it came together so quickly. Now we just need to get some steps made from our living room door to the patio…