Saturday, August 27, 2011

If I had to do it today...Part I

We have some good friends who are about to embark on the great, nail biting, exciting, stressful, rewarding, marriage testing experience of building a house. I have never done it myself...but those are just a few emotions that I have heard people go through. My friend mentioned that she would like a list of what I would do if I was building a house. That has had me thinking all week. I mean, I walk around my house and I know what I would change here, but to start from scratch...well, her husband will be sorry that she asked because the possibilities are endless...

So, after thinking on this topic for a week this is the list I came up with.

1. A kitchen sink with a view - it could be a window or looking out into the kitchen...whatever. I just know now that I stare at a very unfortunate tile back splash now and it's like having a view of a brick wall outside your window. I stand at that sink a lot, and a view of something other than the wall would be great.

picture from Country Living

2. Butcher block or wood counter top in the kitchen - In our old house we had butcher block...and we bought the house at the height of the granite rage. We priced out getting granite, but never did. We just stained the bare butcher block and it looked great. I thought I was missing out because we didn't have granite. Well, in our current house now we have granite...and let me tell you how much I miss my old counter me crazy, but I don't like my granite...I never would have felt this way if I never experienced butcher block. I feel like I am going to break my dishes when I set them on the counter and our granite is polished, so every little smudge shows and you really have to buff it to get it clean.

I think some stone surface is great. It's useful for hot pans and chopping, but I think I would have a combination of the two...wood and stone. Or maybe all wood...I loved it that much.

photos courtesy of cottage living

3. Open shelving - It is just so inviting...a friend comes over and they can help themselves to a coffee cup and they don't have to go on a scavenger hunt to kind one. I just like it.

photos from cottage living

4. A built-in place for the trash can. My sister-in-laws parent's retired and built their dream house...they hit the nail on the head when it comes to the trash cans. It is a pull out base cabinet on rollers that holds 2 large trash cans. It is the whole height and depth of their base cabinets. They love to cook and entertain, so it really is useful when they have a lot of people over. I feel like I am always emptying the trash in front of my guests because it gets so full so fast. And who really wants their trash can out in the open anyway?

It's similar to this, but even better. There is no drawer above it, so the cabinet is even taller, so that means taller trash cans.

5. A dutch door- These remind of the church nursery when I was a child. Parents can see in but the kids can't get out. As far as having them in my house, well, I just like them. I think it adds some character. I do realize I live in the hot, mosquito-infested South...but for March and October, this sure would be nice.

The screen door solves my mosquito problem.

6. A basement- We don't have many basements here in Memphis (at least not in the newer houses). Whenever I watch Candice Olson, she is always designing a basement and I am so's like a whole other house down there. Another bonus (and I learned this from my dad) it is a constant 55 degrees underground. So, if our house sat over a basement that was 55 degrees constantly...that would do wonders for our utility bill. Here is a peek of what Candice could do to your basement...

yes, I am jealous of all you northerners that could have this...

photos via hgtv

7. A laundry shoot - I haven't seen one of these in a really long time, why not? Did people just say "okay, I don't mind carrying down the entire house full of clothes every time they do laundry." I remember playing at a friend's house when I was younger and they had one. I thought it was the best...of course we were throwing other things down the shoot other than clothes, but still. I know that my kids could easily learn to put their laundry in there...of course this doesn't solve the problem of getting it all back upstairs once its all clean.

8. Craft Room - I can only imagine how great it would be to walk into one room and have everything you need at your fingertips, and if you have to leave things out for awhile because you are in the middle of a project, then it's okay because that's what the craft room is for. It would also be fun for our kids to just go in there and make something...and not worry about the mess. A place to wrap presents, sew, use a hot glue gun, etc. It would all be in one place instead of stored in various bins all over the house. It doesn't have to be as fancy as the rooms below, just a room to store the stuff and a work surface, but while I'm dreaming, these pictures will do just fine.

photo from country living

photo courtesy of Heather Bailey

I have about 9 other things on my list, but for the sake of the time it takes to post, I am doing this in two parts. Part II will be posted soon!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making your home work for you.

I have a folder that is busting at the seems with pictures I have torn from magazines, sketches, paint samples, etc. Anytime we get ready to make a purchase for a certain room I will look through these images and remind myself what I love about each picture and how I could incorporate a similar concept into my home.

This is one that is in my folder...I love this master bedroom. It is from the movie It's soon as we saw that movie I told Jeremy that I loved everything about the house or set that it was filmed in...mainly the way it felt. Lived in, comfortable, like you don't want to leave...that is my goal for our home.

Right now I refer to our bedroom as the "bachelor pad" because we just have the box springs and mattress on a bed frame. No head board or actual bed to speak of...we are in the process of looking, but when it comes to my own house I am easily distracted with other projects and the last thing I want to do is buy something and then change my mind (happens frequently) we could be sleeping in the bachelor pad awhile.

This is the kitchen (also from the movie) again lived in and warm

This picture from Traditional Home has been the inspiration behind Libby's room.
Her room is a very light turquoise (not this vibrant).
I had a bed custom made for her, fully upholstered - a full size day day bed.
I love it, when I sit there I think of what a great slumber party bed it would just kind of hugs you. And she looks so little and sweet sleeping in it.
Built-ins on either side are on the list, but not a priority yet.
One day I will get pictures up of her room.

This picture is similar to the one I have that is the inspiration for the built-ins in our den...I didn't want them white or the same color as the trim throughout...our painter thought I was crazy, but it turned out great. 

All of these inspirational images are great, but it's not everyday that I can make my dreams come true and execute these things. The honest truth is, we don't make these purchases, I have to get creative. In a previous post I mentioned that my home was my canvas. Being on a budget you don't want your home to scream, "we are on a budget!...can you tell?"

So, lately I have been looking for ways to really appreciate my home without spending money on it. (hence the title of this post) I am not going to walk around and wish and make a list of what to purchase next or focus on what we don't have....I am going to make my home work for me. (this is a decision I have to really be deliberate about because my job requires me to go into other peoples' homes and tell them what they need).

With my new outlook on my home I have done a few things that have only cost me a little bit of time that have made a world of difference. We have a bonus room upstairs (future playroom) that is a catch all for the entire house. With the kids being the ages they are, I am not going to send them upstairs to play there alone. There is a closet in there that was just holding our suitcases.
We also have a guest room where our guests would stay and where I would do my sewing. I found myself having to clean everything up when company would come in town and then I would neglect all of the sewing projects I was in the middle of (out of sight, out of mind).

My mom suggested that I should move all of my sewing stuff into the playroom so the guest room could stay nice...what a great idea. why didn't I think of that? Sometimes it takes someone who doesn't live in your house to mention the no-brainer that never would have occurred to us.

So I did. The guest room closet then got cleaned out (all of my sewing & wrapping stuff got moved to the closet in the play room). I was then able to give Jeremy a whole closet for his winter/hunting gear in the guest room. This was non-existent really it's like our house got bigger....and it didn't cost a penny.

Other things that I have been doing that aren't as fun but give the same level of satisfaction are cleaning/organizing. I have already dedicated  a few nap times to cleaning out closets, the shoe basket and coat rack in the back hall & deep cleaning the den. The den is a place where I would love to put hardwood floors and a rug in the future...but until then I will live with appreciate the carpet that is there now and try to keep it as clean as possible.

So, until we take on our next big project around here...I will be doing the little things around here that I can to make our home even more enjoyable. I will put up some pictures soon of things we have done since moving in!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl who loved home improvement...

It has been almost a year since we moved into our new house in suburbia. We left a thriving little neighborhood in East Memphis that we really loved. We bought the house just before we got married in 2005 and lived there until 2010. It was an adorable little house...but it wasn't always like that. Upon seeing the house for the first time, Jeremy was walking around pointing out all of the positives that he knew would make me come around...eventually I did and we bought it. It looked like a Mexican restaurant from the outside...what with the red, white and green color scheme...and all of the rooms on the interior were painted in colors from the "paint-we-screwed-up-and-is-dirt-cheap" shelf at Lowe's.

The dormer's were terribly off scale, rotting cornice and siding and needing a new roof. We lived in this little gem about 3 years before we were really able to change the exterior of it. It also doesn't help that the before picture was taken on a dreary winter day.


ta da - after

Jeremy's super talented uncle re-built the dormer's for us. We replaced the windows in them, got a new front door, added the portico, columns, shutters, landscaping, new cornice and roof...whew, makes me tired just re-living it in my mind.

And wouldn't you soon as we get it the way we want it...we sold it. It was definitely time to move on, we were out-growing it and had another baby on the way. We had done everything but add square footage. So, I write this long overdue post from the comfort of our new "project" with lots of before and after to come...I am excited to post all about it, but I have to get busy so I can take some "after" photos.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Martha Stewart inspired Birthday party (on a budget)

We recently celebrated Libby's 3rd birthday. Like some other mom's out there I start planning her birthday a few months in advance. There is just something fun about it for me...I guess it is kind of like interior design, creating an environment  for people you love and imagining & executing one great day for your child. That is what I wanted it to be for Libby. I wanted her to wake up that day of her party to see that the house had been transformed, all because we were celebrating her.

If you google kids birthday party ideas tons of link come up. I was not truly inspired until I arrived at Martha Stewart's website. She has a lot of great ideas that are really creative. I realized that to make it what I wanted I would have to extra creative because I did not have a Martha Stewart budget.

So, I got busy planning a garden party. It was so fun, I got so excited about the big day (kind of like Christmas) now I am a little sad that it is over...but there is always next year!

This was the main center piece, the only flowers I had to buy were the daisies...the rest came from my mom's yard...thanks mom!

One of my favorite things...the hanging paper flowers from all of the trees.

The birthday girl!

The butterfly cupcakes my sister and I cute!

The "big activity" was planting your own pumpkin seed. By October, if all goes well, each child will have their own pumpkin. This was also the party favor.

Another view of the backyard

Lots of paper flowers

Not even a week later, our pumpkins have sprouted.
How exciting!