How to Create a Design Plan

Now that we’ve wrapped up the master bedroom, it’s time to move onto the living room/TV room.  This is more-or-less how I approach a room design, but remember that there are no set rules when it comes to your own space.  The ultimate goal is that YOU are happy (your home = your rules).

Fix on a Focal Point

This could be a piece of artwork, a rug, a piece of furniture, an architecture detail….pretty much anything. Hell, it could be your TV, I won’t judge. What’s going to be the “star” of the room?  Where do you want the eye to be drawn?

You may also have an inspiration piece for you room that’s not going to be your focal point. Heck, it could be a magazine clipping that’s not exactly about to framed and hung in the room at all. Some sort of inspirational image is incredibly useful at this point.

Technically this print is planned for the living room and I’m going to be only focusing on the TV room here. Because my 2 rooms flow into each other, they really need to relate to each other so this piece serves as a great inspiration for both spaces.

Pick Your Palette

Using your focal point or inspiration piece, determine your color scheme. If you’re feeling minimal, you could opt for a monochromatic (different values of the same color) color scheme.  This can end up a little flat so I’m always a fan a making sure there’s some good contrast going on. You can always use the internet for inspiration and search for “blue rooms” and see how other people have handled it.

Personally, I like a variety of color.  The absolute easiest way to accomplish this is to start with a focal piece that already has multiple colors in it. Not to worry if the star of your room is your solid pink chair though! Internet to the rescue again! If you search google or Pinterest for “pink color schemes” you’ll get a ton of results and you can pick one that resonates with you.

See what I mean by finding something with multiple colors? This print provides a variety of options! Navy and blush make for a more formal base (along with some gray and creamy neutrals) and accents of aqua, bright coral-pink, and bright green funk it up a bit.

Now, don’t go buying your wall paint just yet.  This is just a rough color idea at these point.  The exact shades may change, plus, you’ll want to have your main pieces already in your home so you can match paint swatches in the most accurate lighting. Pro Tip: never bank on accurate color representation from an online image–monitors and color settings are way too varied.

Bring in the Big Stuff

So you have a focal point, you have a rough idea of a color scheme, now you want to look for the main items that will fill in the room. This is going to be pretty much furniture, rugs, and dominant light fixtures. They may not all be physically large items either, but they’ll probably be your spendier items. They may also be pieces you already have an definitely want to keep in the room.

Why the two rugs you may be asking? A corner of the TV is going to be a play space for Wesley and the rug helps define the space.

Add in Accessories

To really make a space feel like you, and not a staged show-house, shop your house for accessories.  Things you’ve naturally acquired overtime will have more personality than something you’ve bought just because it looked good in the room.  This isn’t to say you can’t by new things, just see what you already have first and pick items that truly resonate with you even if they’re not “magazine perfect.” You’ll be happier and that’s the most important thing for you to feel about your home.

Accessories don’t necessarily mean knickknacks. Plants, accent lighting, throw pillows, wall art…all of these are options for accessories. I don’t bother adding every little thing in when I’m creating a mood board either–I usually stick to pillows and wall art.

Wake up your Walls

You may already have an idea of what color you want your walls to be.  Now’s the time to pick your exact paint color.  Why wait until the very end of the design process? There are practically unlimited paint color choices so it’s much easier to find a paint that will complement your rug/upholstery/throw pillows/art than vice versa.

 

Now, for the record, it’s not as easy as pick this, pick that, bam you’re done. There will be changes and frustrations, and maybe your entire plan will morph into something completely unexpected. Just go with your gut and don’t try and force things. Maybe the rug you picked as your focal point isn’t meshing with the other items that caught your eye. It’s ok to completely rethink your rug choice. That’s why it’s a good idea put together a mood board before you start shopping.

Don’t feel like you have to make decisions on every single thing in the room either. Your mood board isn’t set in stone, but it’s a good idea to get the overall feel for your room before you start spending money.

 

Hell is Minnesota*…

…and it has frozen over.

See that? The AMBIENT TEMPERATURE is -20.

Negative. Twenty.

Not even including windchill (see: feels like -47). I’m pretty sure even the polar bears at the zoo are miserable.

We got hit with snow on Monday, not a ton of snow, but enough so that the roads were pretty crappy in the morning (my car got stuck twice on the way into work**). Since then the temperature has been steadily plummeting and schools are closing because it literally too dangerous for kids to wait outside for the bus. I had to get gas on my way home from work today and my fingers were painfully cold because I had to take my glove off for a minute to run my credit card and use the touch-screen.

Wesley’s daycare is closed tomorrow (and probably Thursday too) because they have huge windows everywhere and don’t think they can keep everything at the required minimum temperature.  We were already planning on keeping him home tomorrow because it is so viciously cold just going to and from the car.  Unfortunately my job is considered “essential services” so I am expected to go into work (Matt’s staying home tomorrow and thankfully my boss is very understanding of issues that come up for parents)

The St Paul Winter Carnival is also going on right now… unfortunately it’s too cold for any sane person to leave their house.  Good news: it’s supposed to warm up this weekend.  Bad news: it’s supposed to get above freezing so we may have another year of very deconstructivist ice sculptures.

Aaand since I’m just rambling at the moment….we went out to a local brewery on Sunday. At 1:00 in the afternoon.  For Tot Time.  Seriously.  I also witnessed a 1st Birthday party and Baby Shower being hosted there. It was a little surreal, but kind of a cool idea. They have a bunch of toys for the kids and a kid-friendly band.*** It gives the adults a way to get out of the house and still feel reasonably adult (because it gives hard to feel adult when you’re constantly reading books that consist entirely of 1-syllable words and trying to figure out if your child is poopy or just farty).

 

*Actually, all of the upper Midwest.

**Both times in intersections where the plow had created a pile of snow at the cross street.

***This week was a friend of mine college and her husband. So that was cool.

Master Bedroom Reveal!

Ooof, it’s been a while!  The master bedroom is finally done though!

Let’s take a look back at what we started with:

One of the major pros of this house was the room sizes; you rarely find 100+ year old homes with generous room sizes and the master bedroom was especially generous.

It was also very generous with the outlets–12 pairs (and all of them about 3′ off the ground)!

After moving in, it pretty much morphed into this:

And then stayed that way for a while as we focused on other projects. Whomp whomp

A little paint, some new furniture, and let’s see where we’re at today.

SO much better. It looks like adults actually live here now!

The headboard, nightstands, sconces, and rug are all at a much better scale.  The proper bed frame and drawers on the bedside tables add some much needed polish (it’s really nice to be able to stash things like deodorant, hairbrush, chapstick, etc out of view but still easily accessible). We also upgraded the outlets next to the bed to the fancy ones with the USB ports because we’re always charging phones and tablets on our nightstands.

I love the drama of the accent wall and it really helps highlight the bed (which is the pretty standard focal point in a bedroom). The pale green-blue-gray walls are wonderfully soothing.

I found the candle holder at World Market and had a beast of time getting it into my tiny little car, but here it is! The circle pattern compliments the sconces and the round mirror on the opposite side the room, and the bronze really pops against the teal wall.

Especially when working with cool colors (blues, greens, purples) adding a touch of warmth really helps balance out the space. I scored an amazing vintage dresser and then found some side tables in a similar tone at Target.  The pops of natural wood add so much more than sticking with all white furniture like we had previously.

Added bonus: the mid-century dresser paired beautifully with my Cherner chair. I literally pulled it out of a dumpster years ago! It works well in the bedroom because it gives me a place to stash a robe or PJs, but it’s not big enough to let a giant pile of laundry accumulate.

The rug seems a bit crazy, right? I absolutely love it though! A different color and pattern would have completely changed the entire feel of the room.  This one just seems to add a bit of playfulness and quirkiness that appeals to me.  Matt may try and argue that we’re fairly formal people, but I will always enjoy of pop of the unexpected.*

There are still some tweaks needed–the solid green pillows are a bit too intense and the print needs a new frame. I’m eyeing this print from Spoonflower for the pillows since the citron color pulls from the duvet and breaks up the mostly blue color scheme. My closet is also in need of a complete overhaul, but that will be a project for another time.

I am so glad we finally have a respectable bedroom! Especially since now that we’re done I can go back to working on the downstairs. Next up are going to be the living room and TV room. I’m looking forward to getting those done. I always have a little self-guilt whenever we have people over because half of our main entertaining space is decidedly meh which makes me look like a shitty designer…but you can’t do everything at once.

 

*I still can’t convince him to buy one of the reindeer heads from the vintage store down the street.  The fossilized rhino skull was also shot down, despite the fact that it could never be broken by cats or kids…some complaint about not paying $7k for a rock or something…

 

Then Suddenly We’re Breaking Into Our Own Garage

This past weekend we finally cleared all my refinishing projects out of the garage. The desk still needs a couple coats of poly, so it’s living on the front porch at the moment, but we’ve started getting snow so I want my covered parking back!

Monday was a bank holiday so I had the day off of work. I meant to do productive things like hemming curtains and putting the finishing touches on master bedroom.  Instead I couldn’t find a ruler, lost my hem gauge as soon as I set it down, then gave up and went to IKEA. Running errands, in and out, perfectly normal day, right?

Well then comes Tuesday. I leave for work around 6:30am so it’s still quite dark out. Off I go to the garage, enter the code in the keypad, and….nothing. It’s not even like the door is frozen shut–I can’t even hear it trying to open.

Shit.

After re-keying the code a dozen times, I finally give up and go in to wake up Matt for backup.

I convince him it’s not a power issue–the keypad still lights up when you press buttons, and Wesley’s room (on the same breaker) still has power. So he comes out and tries the code in the keypad a few more times.

No go.

Just for kicks, he goes back in and flips the breaker off and on again (hey, power cycling works for computers).

Nothing.

Around this point I ask if the keypad is hardwired (vs using a battery). Matt says it is, plus the buttons are lighting up so it’s clearly getting power from somewhere.

We are now officially out of ideas and I have to get to work. The only option that seems to be left to us is to break a window, climb in, and manually open the door from the inside.

Ah, but why doesn’t our garage have a human-sized door you may be asking.  Well, it does, but a couple years ago some jerkward broke into our garage, stole a broken snowblower, and seriously damaged the door so it’s been screw shut ever since. Quite honestly it was never high on our to-do list…until that morning.

Yeah…so it’s nearly 7am and we now have to break into our own garage and hope no one calls the police on us. Matt just repaired the glass in this window too.

Is Matt still in his pajamas? Yes he is.  Is he also the one who crawled through the window? Yes he was. It was all terribly heroic.*

Once he’s in the garage, I suggest that he tries the button on the wall first, instead of the manual release. Seems a little silly, but he tries the button and…the door opens.

WTF???

So the inside button works,  The remotes in our cars work. But the keypad doesn’t work.

Matt pokes around a little bit and then I hear it:

“Oh look, a battery!”

Yes, that’s right. The keypad I was told was hardwired, actually ran off a battery. A battery that was apparently providing just enough power to illuminate the keys, but not enough power to send the signal to open the door.

Now, in Matt’s defense, there were wires running along the wall near the keypad. It turns out these belonged to the sensors at the bottom of the door (the ones that exist so you don’t squash small children when you close your garage door). I also didn’t press the issue when I mentioned the idea of a battery and have learned a valuable lesson in standing my ground.

Thankfully we had a spare 9V battery so the keypad is now fully functioning. Replacing the side door on the garage has also gotten bumped to the top of our warm weather to-do list. We should be getting the floor of the garage re-poured this spring so we’re planning on waiting until after that to deal with the door, just in case it changes the sizing at all. In the meantime, we’ll make sure to always have an extra 9V battery on hand.

 

*He asked me to work in the word “heroic” somewhere. You’re welcome.

Happy Halloween!

I’m all about the Halloween group costume.  Last year we did Peanuts and this year I nerded it up big time! Let’s just say when you’re a nerd and your son is named Wesley, this costume is practically mandatory.

And for the non-nerds out there, no, we’re not the family from the Incredibles. We’re not anyone from Star Wars.* Nope, this costume is straight-up Star Trek: The Next Generation.

via Ex Astris Scientia

Matt makes a pretty awesome Picard, Wesley’s the cutest little Crusher on the planet (#momBias), and I’m supposed to be Beverly Crusher, I just don’t have the hair for it.

Let’s take a closer look at Wesley’s iconic ugly sweater, shall we?

If you really want to be technical, the bottom stripe is supposed to be more tealy-blue, but I DIYed this puppy on the cheap so my options were limited.

I think my son only smiles when he has a stick (then bawls when I don’t let him bring sticks into the house).

Our daycare’s Halloween Party was today, and apparently once his teacher said “Wesley Crusher from Star Trek” there was even some recognition (so I think they would have gotten it if they had seen us all together).  We went to Halloween/Birthday party over the weekend and only 1 person there got it. #nerdProblems

 

*These were all actual guesses. I also had a co-worker ask what we were doing for Halloween.  When I responded that I had a Star Trek family costume planned, she asked if Wesley was going to be the “bear thing.” My new tagline may be “May the force be so Number One.”

Let’s Style a Dresser

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a dresser!

My original plan was to take the two IKEA dressers we currently had on each side of the bed and move them between the wardrobe and the door. Unfortunately, the dressers were a few inches too big to fit there.

Whomp whomp. Time for plan B and it ended up being gorgeous.

I originally though plan B was going to involve more IKEA.  Not fancy, but affordable. I wasn’t ready to give in to more flat-pack just yet,* so I would periodically browse Craigslist and  Facebook Marketplace. One day I stumbled across this beauty.  It had been up for over a week so I figured it was long gone, but I messaged the seller anyway and it was still available. The seller was even willing to hold it for me until the weekend so I could recruit a friend with an SUV. I have never felt so damn lucky.

We used to have a full-length mirror on this wall which obviously wasn’t going to work with the dresser. No biggie, I could turn the mirror and hang in horizontally above the dresser.  Or at least I thought I could…only I failed to actually measure the mirror ahead of time. It was longer than the dresser so it would have stuck out past the end and that would have just looked awkward.

So now the mirror’s scrapped and I need something to fill the space above the dresser and I’m thinking….another mirror. Matt thinks I’m nuts, but bows to my superior design skills.**

Here’s where you guys come in.  I’ve got a handful of mirror options, but I think I’m too close to the project at the moment so I need to get some outside opinions.

Watcha think? I’m sticking with brass accents in this room because there is so much blue/teal/cool gray happening that it really needs a pop of warmth.  I’m also trying to find a mirror that’s roughly 24″x30″ because then I can mount it to a stud*** and it will still look well positioned. Next to the mirror I have plans for some jewelry storage so whichever mirror I choose won’t be lonely for long.

Now that we have a new dresser (and some new nightstands!) we just have to bring in artwork and accessories and we’ll be ready for the full room reveal in no time!  Woot woot!

 

*Remember Matt’s challenge?

**Or just doesn’t care enough to argue.  Same dif really.

***Mirrors = heavy, plaster walls = wussy.

 

Seriously???

I'm outdoorsy in that I like drinking wine on patios.
via Some eCards

This really does sum up how outdoorsy I am. I don’t camp. I don’t pee in the woods. I don’t rough it. Period. End of story. I’m an urban pansy and perfectly ok with that.

Still, I didn’t think much of it when I noticed a bug bite a couple weeks ago because bug bites happen to urban and rural dwellers alike…then I woke up a few days later and had a huge swollen welt on my arm. It was red and sore and warm to the touch. Ok, so I was clearly allergic to whatever bit me, right? Matt told me not to worry about since the same thing had happened to him recently and it just went away in a few days.

Remind me to stop listening to Mr-Trust-Me-I’m-a-Doctor.*

A week and half later the swelling had gone down a bit, but the red area was larger..but faded in areas…then darker again. Kinda sorta like a bullseye pattern. And it started peeling in the center, like a sunburn. It also alternated between feeling like a sunburn and feeling like I’d been punched in the arm. Fun times.

It’s a little hard to see, so here it is highlighted with the power of Photoshop:

Yes, it takes up my entire upper arm, and let’s be honest, I ain’t no Michelle Obama in the arm department.**

I only know one thing that’s known for causing a bullseye pattern, but that’s Lyme Disease. It’s caused by ticks. Ticks live in the woods, and, as I’ve already established, I really don’t spend time in the woods. Plus, when ticks bite you they stick around and continue to drain your blood, right? And I certainly hadn’t seen any ticks on me. So now I’m clearly being paranoid, and I know I’m being paranoid.  I did an image search for Lyme Disease and the pictures that came back looked WAY worse than what I had, but since it wasn’t going away I went in to see our onsite nurse at my work to figure out what the heck was actually going on.

She took one look at my arm and went “Woah… you know what that is right?”

“I was hoping you’d tell me I was being paranoid….”

Nope. Lyme Disease it is (in a world of paper cuts and sniffles, I was officially her most interesting case of the day). So now I’m on antibiotics twice a day for the next 21 days.  Whoopie! The nurse I saw thinks the antibiotics will clear it up, but she opted for the 21 day treatment over the 14 day treatment because I’ve been sitting on this for at least two weeks. Later today I’m going to see my GP since our work clinic is fairly limited and the CNP.I saw yesterday thought I should have a follow-up appointment.

Apparently the ticks that cause Lyme Disease are very tiny and don’t always hang around. PSA for the day: if you see a weird bullseye patterned rash, get thee to a doctor and let them decide if you’re being a hypochondriac. It’s much better to catch it early and treat it with antibiotics; ignoring it can lead to serious complications.

My best guess at the moment is that the ninja-tick ambushed me some time while we were in Door County over Labor Day.  We walked through a nature preserve (on a boardwalk), hit up some restaurants, checked out some shopping areas, and took another walk (on a road). We weren’t exactly roughing it or crashing through woodland, but other than that I’ve been spending my extra time in my garage refinishing furniture.  Not exactly a known tick habitat.

Remind me to just avoid nature from now on….***

Update: The doctor I saw today agreed with the nurse from yesterday. It looks like classic Stage 1 Lyme Disease (too early even for a reliable blood test) so the antibiotics should clear it up no problem. He then followed that up with a warning that based on the size of the rash it possible it may develop an abscess so if I notice any additional swelling or pus I may need to come back in to get it lanced. Ew.

 

*J.D. does not qualify you to give medical advice. It basically just means that you have a doctorate in arguing with people.

**But despite my chubby exterior, I’m stronger than a number of women I know, so you win some, you lose some.

***On the bright side, if Matt ever gets some crazy urge to go camping again (yes, this happened once, and I shot him down), I can be all “REMEMBER THAT TIME I GOT LYME DISEASE???”

Steppin’ Up

Matt took last week off of work to get some things done around the house.  His big project? Re-doing the front steps.

Our existing steps were ugly, wonky, and starting to decay.  Matt already replaced one of the boards that was starting to fall apart, but the steps really needed to be completely replaced. Apart from lacking in structural integrity, the steps were also ugly and badly proportioned.

Day 1

Matt texts me a photo of the demo work…an giant gaping hole in the front of our house. Awesome. He also called me just before I left work asking me to pick up 80lbs of sand on my way home.  He was apparently too dirty to go to Menards, but me picking up a couple bags of sand, covered in dirty rain water, in my work clothes was no problem.  #bitter

Day 2

Matt finished digging out the base and leveling the existing pavers. Once he had a level base, he was able to build new (and level!) supports.

Day 3

We have stringers! And a tread! Woot Woot!

Day 4

Apparently lattice is a bitch to cut if you’re not cutting on a 45 degree angle, but I think he did a pretty good job!

Day 5

Matt waited for me to have free time to do the risers.  They needed to be ripped down to the correct height and it’s much easier to have two people when running long pieces of wood through our table saw.

We still need to add railings, but I think it’s looking pretty good so far! My dream plan is to extend it width-wise as well (the sides of the top step line up with the edges of the windows), but we would need to pour a new concrete pad to really make that worth it. You can also see our walkway isn’t as wide as the steps, which we’re dealing with for now.  Someday down the the road it would be nice to redo the walkway and make a better base for the steps. Unfortunately we have more pressing spendy updates before we get around to that. Very few people have money to do All the Things, and that’s ok, just figure out what your priorities are and work from there.

The 17th Argument I had with Matt this Week

Beige alert
via knowyourmeme.com

We’re getting close to wrapping up the master bedroom so I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the living room/TV room. The other evening I called Matt over to check out the mood I came up with.

Matt: It’s fine…but I don’t like the rugs.*

Me: We never seem to agree on rugs! What do you look for in a rug?

Matt: You know what you look for? The exact opposite.

Me: *snort*

Matt: You look for color and whimsy…

Me: … and you have a beige soul.  What’s wrong with whimsy?

Matt: I just think we should be more formal.

Me: But we’re not formal people!

Matt: Compared to a lot of people we are. I just think our entertaining spaces should be more formal.

Me: My dad and my step mom are formal.  They have fancy table settings and glasses for different types of wine!**

Matt: So do we!

Me: Since when?

Matt: We have different glasses for wine and martinis and champagne and ouzo…

Me: From IKEA!

 

*And what was the focal point of the design? The rugs.

**This is basically my definition of being a successful adult–having different glasses for red and white wine.

Projects in the Works

A few nights ago Matt commented to me that our house has too much flat-pack and not enough vintage.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

The very next day, I found this beauty on the side of the road.

I literally did a double take as I drove by, but continued on to pick up my son from daycare. We swung by on the way back home for some Mommy-Son bonding time (read: he cried while I muscled this thing into my minuscule car and drove a block with my trunk open #safetyFirst). The drawers need some repair and the whole thing needs refinishing, but it’s all completely doable and I even have a spot for it in our living room.

On Saturday I had a friend visiting from out of town, so naturally we went to the cluster of antique/vintage stores. Outside of one was a shabby looking MCM desk that was clearly in the process of being rehabbed. All the repair/refinshing work was stuff I could do, so I scored this puppy for $40!

One of the drawer fronts needs to be re-glued, the damaged edging needs to be pried off and replaced, and the whole thing needs to be stripped and re-stained.  Someone must have refinished it at one point and did a TERRIBLE job with the stain.  It’s splotchy and streaky and horrible, which means it just needs to come off. I’m currently planning a dark stain with white drawer fronts, I just need to figure out what hardware I want on the drawers…possibly cup pulls, we’ll see.

I also (still) have my bank of vintage post office boxes. I love these SO much, I’m just unsure how I really want to finish them.

They also got some paint on them while I was working on another project.  I tried to wipe it off right away and failed, so now it just looks like a bird crapped on it.  Classy.

On top of all of that, I have a vintage sewing machine table.  The machine is fabulous, but it’s built into the table which was causing space issues in our study layout.  I bought a new sewing machine and this one is going to my mom. If I get in a serious refinishing groove, I’d like to try and strip and re-stain this as well… especially since I’m responsible for the black paint.  We all make poor life choices at some time or another….

So with all of that, this is the current state of our front porch:

Please don’t report me to Hoarders…

In the past I’ve done refinishing work out here because the space is well ventilated and enclosed (plus, the carpet’s crap so I don’t have much guilt if I drip something and it misses the dropcloth). Unfortunately, I don’t want this to be a working space with Wesley crawling around because there’s too many dangerous things a baby can get into in a refinishing project. I’m probably going to end up setting up shop in our garage and trying to get everything done before it snows.

In semi-related news, I passed a furniture refinishing and repair place that’s hiring.  Not gonna lie, I’m really tempted to apply just so I can put “stripper” on my resume. Unfortunately they’re only hiring part-time. Still might be worth it if I could get an employee discount on reupholstering my couch….