The Sounds Of Silence

Although we’re still a few appliances short of a full kitchen, I do have two shiny new friends I’d like you to meet. Say hello to the new fridge – a sleek, stainless number with grey sides from Frigidaire.

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In case you need a refresher on what used to live here – say buh-bye to Old A-Little-Bit-Yeller.

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We snagged it at Lowe’s during a Fourth of July sale and with a 10% off coupon, so the price was definitely right. Our last refrigerator was also a side-by-side model, and we were happy to keep the same form-factor (and save some pennies – French door fridges all seemed to have seriously spendy price tags). I’m loving the stainless finish, although I have yet to see how it’s going to hold up to daily life with the Sirchios, since we’re keeping the plastic protector on until the kitchen construction is done. I like the contrast with the white cabinets and am totally wooed by the digital temperature gauge (ridiculous but true). Even though the new refrigerator is the same size as our old one, it feels way more spacious, and I’m loving the extra storage drawer.

But you know what the best part about this fridge is? It doesn’t make a ghostly howling noise 24-7. It just sits quietly in the kitchen, keeping our food cold and giving us water. Everything I could ever want from a refrigerator!

Also on the already-installed list is our Bosch dishwasher. This model earned rave reviews for being quiet, which was my number one priority. The old dishwasher was like having a “waves crashing” sound machine turned up to maximum volume for an hour. Excellent for enjoying conversations and for maintaining your sanity. Installing a dishwasher was definitely new for us, so we begged my dad to drive to Dallas and play foreman on the project. After a few hours of labor, Tony and my dad had this pretty new number in place and ready to test out. So we pressed the “Start” button and waited. After a moment of panic when we thought the dishwasher was broken, we realized it was just that quiet. I’m officially in love.

Without further adieu, the old (plus a cameo from my favorite furboy)…

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And the new! (Also still rocking protective plastic. It takes the patience of a saint not to tear it off.)

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On the docket for the next few weeks: putting in the new oven and microwave. Can’t say I’ll be sad to have a microwave back where it belongs, instead of camped out on our kitchen table!

Plus, with a little bit of luck, we should have new counters any day now. Adios, grungy laminate counters that hate fun (yep, those are red wine stains from the birthday soiree).

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31 Years of Fun

After five years, a lot of sweat, and a sprinkling of tears, our house has come a long way. When you’re up to your eyeballs in construction dust, like we are right now, it’s easy to forget why we’re putting so much time and energy into our home. Luckily, my birthday rolled around, just in time to help me put it all into perspective. This year, instead of celebrating at a restaurant or a bar, we opted to invite friends over for a night of pizza, games, and potluck dessert (which turned out to be the best idea ever) – even though the kitchen is looking seriously worse for the wear. Having the house full of old friends and new friends and being surrounded by laughter, shouting (we are a competitive bunch, so games can get a little loud) and chatter really made me remember what the purpose of this whole journey is – to create a house that we love, where we can spend time with the people we love. And as it turns out, the right crowd can have fun anywhere – even in the middle of a disaster zone.

So, even though I was less than psyched about turning 31 (which sounds so much older than 30), it turned out to be a fabulous birthday. I will note that 31 doesn’t just sound older – it feels that way, too.  I closed out an evening of birthday fun by calling the police to report our super-shady neighbors, a group of twenty-something dudes living under one roof that love to host all-night ragers in their garage – with the door open. I’m officially THAT old person, y’all.

L0C7lwIvia

P.S. Kitchen update coming this week! Hooray!

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Ready, Set, Reno!

After penny-pinching, planning, and not-so-patiently waiting for the last year, it’s finally time to tackle the rest of the kitchen. And (surprise) we’re taking a little bit of a different approach to this project. With the hubby and I both juggling intense work schedules, there’s not a lot of time left to manage a major DIY renovation. So although we plan to do some of the smaller elements in the kitchen ourselves – painting, swapping out light fixtures, connecting new appliances and plumbing – we’re leaving the big projects to the pros. Here’s the game plan, from the top down – plus a refresher on the design inspiration for the kitchen. Love that Tommy Smythe!!

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1. Update the cabinets with a fresh coat of creamy white paint & some satin nickel hardware. I snagged my hardware on Ebay for a song – less than $70 for all the pieces we’ll need. And don’t worry – the colors actually match in real life.

Hardware

Also included on the painting quote: taking my Craig’s List bookshelves from chestnut to soft white. Thanks to the scale of the kitchen project, I got a heck of a deal on the bookshelf paint job. Hello, visual calm!

2. Gussy up the walls and ceiling with – you guessed it – white paint. We’ll match the shade we choose for the cabinets.

3. Swap the scratched, dingy and hideous laminate counters for Silestone in the Lyra pattern. Love that it looks like Carrara but happens to be incredibly durable, antimicrobial and is guaranteed against scratches for 15 years. Plus it’s low risk for radon emission (admittedly, that’s per the manufacturer).

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4. Install a lantern light over the kitchen table. I found this fixture on Wayfair for less than $100 a few months ago and it’s been waiting on our guest room ever since.

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5. Replace our old appliances with sleek, stainless steel appliances. They’ll definitely be a visual improvement, and according to the specs, our new dishwasher is less likely to sound like a tidal wave than our current model. We chose Frigidaire appliances from Lowe’s for everything except the cooktop (Whirlpool) and the dishwasher (Bosch).

6. Trade out the old burgundy and white backsplash for timeless, white subway tiles… Something like this.  Swoon.

White subway tile backsplashSource

7. Have the floors steamed and the grout re-sealed. Why so soon? The installers used an acid wash to deal with the grout haze last summer, which ate away the grout sealer. And unsealed white grout + a family of four (including the wild animal that lives here) = recipe for disaster.

8. Upgrade the kitchen table to a painted pedestal ($50 on Craig’s List and just waiting for me to work some magic), find new kitchen chairs and barstools, and execute about a million other smaller-scale details.

We’ll be managing most of the demo ourselves, and we already got a head start. Now you see the burgundy backsplash…

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Now you don’t!

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Next up: floor cleaning/re-sealing and installing the new dishwasher and fridge. Stay tuned!

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The Perfect Pair

After months of Craigslist stalking, I finally scored the perfect pair of bookshelves – for just $75 each. At 7′ tall, they actually take advantage of the high ceilings in our living room (working with vertical space isn’t exactly my forte). I love that the bookshelves are solid wood – so no off-gassing here – and have just the right amount of traditional trim detail to fit in with our other pieces.

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I bought the shelves with the intention of painting them (and the existing TV stand) white, so it feels like a unified set. But once I had the shelves in place, I got a little gun-shy about painting them. I really like the contrast with the white walls. Plus there’s the screw-up factor, coupled with the “not enough hours in the day” phenomenon. Of course, I also love the visual quiet that comes from white shelves. And I’ve got a hankering to replace the wood backing with mirror, since I’m part crow and can’t resist anything that sparkles. This image from House Beautiful makes me happy happy. The mirrored backs on the built-in make the room look huuuuuge, no?

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I also love how great this basic Ikea Expedit looks layered with a mirrored back and swanky accessories.


Eclectic Living Room by Bala Cynwyd Design-build Firms Design Manifest

Once I decide what to do – or not do – with the shelves, I’ll get serious about the business of actually filling the shelves up. The trick for me is managing to actually make the shelves functional – AKA provide storage for the multitude of books and other things that are lurking around our Lottery House – without making them completely dizzying. Some of my favorite inspiration images…

Contemporary Home Office by San Francisco Photographers Alex Amend Photography

Traditional Living Room by Los Angeles Artists and Artisans Blue Tangerine Art

Contemporary Living Room by Ottawa Kitchen & Bath Designers Tanner Vine – 2Go Custom Kitchens Inc

Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Architects & Designers Feldman Architecture, Inc.

Still on the to-do list for the living room:
1. A fresh coat of paint on the wall behind the sofa
2. Adding our new plug-in wall sconces behind the sofa when they finally arrive
3. Turning my fabulous dragon fabric into art… or pillows!
4. Maybe recovering the ottoman. Vertical space might not be my forte, but being indecisive definitely is!
5. Finding the right curtains. Crisp and white, with a pinch pleat or back tab, and not $100 per panel. It’s that last point that seems to be so tricky.

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Dragon Love & Lighting Up

No sooner had I published my last post, lamenting my no-dragon dilemma, when a friend texted to let me know that a friend of hers happened to have a yard of Chiang Mai that I could buy. I figured it was pretty much fate, and happily coughed up for my long-coveted fabric. Less than a week later, the fabric was in my hot little hands.

Chiang Mai Dragon Blue

Since then, I’ve been admiring it from afar and wondering if I really have the guts to slice this investment into pieces and relegate it to a life of being squashed flat as a TV accessory – like this poor guy.

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Last weekend, it crossed my mind that this fabric might be better off doubling as a piece of art over the sofa – where it’s safe from being karate-chopped into shape or being drooled on. A quick search of the interwebs turned up some great examples of framed fabric.

Pure Style Homevia Pure Style Home

IkatFabricUsedasWallHangingvia The Decorating Files, originally from Elle Decor

Apartment Therapyvia Apartment Therapy

Apt Therapyvia Apartment Therapy

Framed Chinoiserievia Chinoiserie Chic

My theory is that it’s easier to start by framing the fabric – if I hate it, I can still get busy with my scissors and sewing machine and make the leap to a pair of pillows. Buuuut I’m still not decided (who’s surprised? Not me). What’s your take on framed fabric?

In addition to fretting over fabric, I also FINALLY found a home for our glass lamp bases (scored over a year ago from Target). I snagged two plain white lamp shades from Target, on sale for 15% off plus I rocked a coupon, so I paid less than $30 for both. In addition to the fact that the new lamps actually provide enough light to read by, the scale is perfect, and I love the lightness of the glass base. The old…

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And the new.

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I also conned the hubby into helping me swap the oh-so-lovely fluorescent fixtures in our closet…

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For a pair of Alang fixtures from Ikea.

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Now I can hem and haw over what I should wear without the humming of a flourescent fixture in the background. Plus they’re definitely easier on the eyes. Pardon the lackluster photo, it’s borderline impossible to capture a nice photo at an upward angle in a space the size of a phone booth.

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Just eleven million more tasks to get the master closet up to snuff, but who’s counting?

Happy Wednesday, friends!

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The Girl Without The Dragon Fabric

After 3 long months without dessert (I chalk it up to a miracle), plus a week of hemming and hawing about whether or not I could REALLY spend $160 on a yard of fabric, I finally pulled the trigger and placed my order for a single yard of Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon in China Blue. When I rolled in to work Monday morning, I had a notice from PayPal waiting for me – namely, that my money had been refunded because my order had been cancelled. <Insert ear-splitting shriek of outrage here>

Apparently, our friends over at Schumacher decided (recently, I might add), that two yards is now the minimum purchase for any if their fabrics. And as much as I’d like to bring this dragon home, $320 for fabric is absolutely beyond my breaking point.

So, with Schumacher’s new edict in place, I’ve got a few options to consider.
1. Buy two pre-made pillows featuring my dragon’s fierce countenance. For a pair of 22” pillow covers with dragon fabric on the front only, it’ll set me back about $210 on Etsy from PopOColor’s shop. The bonus is that I don’t have to do any sewing on my own (and believe me, the idea of sewing with $160-a-yard fabric was giving me serious heart palpitations). It’s cheaper than buying a yard of fabric, too.

Chiang Mai Dragon Pillows
2. Scrap the dragon and find an alternative. After a lot of frenzied Googling, I came up with a couple of viable choices. The first, Nanjing in Porcelain, is also a Schumacher fabric, so it has a two-yard minimum order as well. But at $68 a yard, I’d still come out waaaay ahead.

Nanjing

I find it super challenging to actually understand the scale of a pattern in an image like this, so here’s another image to help you get a better idea. I am seriously smitten with this gorgeous headboard.

Nanjing HeadboardSource: Kyle Knight Design, from The Edit

The other option, Nanking, is a Ralph Lauren fabric – so no minimum order, but a steeper per-yard price tag – $120 for a yard.

Nanking

The Ralph Lauren fabric feels more like my original Chiang Mai – and even has a dragon – but I worry it leans a little old-womanish. Both of these options involve some sewing, which is usually inextricably linked to swearing, but I can deal (and I’ve successfully crafted a pillow before, so I think it can be done).

What’s your take? Should I spring for the Chiang Mai and its gruesome price tag, or try my hand at sewing my own pillows with Nanking or Nanjing? And no, I don’t think those fabrics could have more confusingly similar names.

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A Swedish Love Affair

Allow me to spoil the surprise and tell you that as I type this post, I’m curled up on Karl’s chaise… and it’s divine. <Insert contented sigh here> But let’s back up a few steps. Last weekend, our dining room was looking a little like the inside of a moving van.
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After ogling his goodies for the last year, we’d finally brought Karlstad home for good. There was just one little problem: a room that was already full of furniture.
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Luckily, the bulky boys’ adoptive family made the trip down to Texas to pick them up last weekend, leaving us with lots of wide open spaces – perfect for an oversized Swede. In the interrim, we rocked an interesting furniture arrangement. No bonus points for functionality or comfort here. Karlstad04
On Sunday morning, we rolled up our sleeves and started unpacking the SEVEN enormous boxes our Karlstad arrived in. We built…
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And covered…
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And after 3.5 hours of following Ikea directions (with a little cursing thrown in here and there, because it’s practically required when you’re building Ikea furniture), we had ourselves a fully-assembled Karlstad.
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And just to cement my status as a mind-reader, I know what you’re thinking: “Man, that picture over the couch is way too small.” I know this because the first two people that got a sneak preview of Karl said exactly that. And trust me, I agree wholeheartedly. I’d love something map-inspired, or the perfect piece of abstract art (without a “real” art price tag), but the search is still on. Also on the agenda: task lighting. A pair of plug-in swing arm sconces would be perfect, given the lack of table space. I love this Home Decorators version (although at $90 a pop, I’m on the prowl for a cheaper pair).
Swing Arm
And if you’re thinking that a pair of Chiang Mai dragon pillows would be the perfect complement to Karl, you’re right. I’ve got almost half of the no-dessert challenge under my belt, so keep your fingers crossed that my willpower will have a 90-day window.

So what do you think – was Karl worth the wait? I’m dying to host a movie night here, now that we have ample seating for a small herd. More pictures, tweaks and musings to come soon… Happy Monday, friends!

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