Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home


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Upcycling a Vintage School Desk

We’ve had this little school desk forever — well, actually Kirk has had it forever.  Apparently he used to do his homework at this desk when he was a kid!   When we lived in our craftsman bungalow and I always figured I’d strip, sand, and restore it.  Well, I never got around to it (although I did dust it off!) and times changed so this period piece doesn’t really fit with the aesthetic of our new abode anymore.  And we have kids now, so I decided it was time to paint it and give it a little refresher so it can be used for yet another generation.

Kirk's desk before

It was a spontaneous project — about 20 minutes after I put Logan down for his nap my eye caught this desk and I thought, “I can’t stand that thing for another minute.”  It resides in our living room and Logan does “work” at it pretty frequently, but really, it was an eye sore.  So I grabbed what was left from when I painted the kitchen wall navy and decided to give it a go.

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It took two coats, and I still need to poly the top for durability (and maybe wax the rest), but I think it looks SO much better.  It’s a really dark navy — it almost looks black in this room which is odd because the wall in the kitchen never looks black!  It really pops off the white brick now and I think it plays well with the adjacent Bermuda Blue brick wall, too.  The navy wall in the kitchen is just out of frame though a door to the right and the navy bicycle print is only a small bit away as well — I like that they all tie in together.

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Anyway, I just wanted to share this little update with you all because I’m totally smitten … and not just because when Logan noticed he said, “Ohhh!!! Mommy! You did this for me?! THANK you!”. :)


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2014 House Resolutions — Pass or Fail?

In January of this year I made a list of resolutions for our then-new abode (read about them here).   It included projects that were begging for attention, projects that had stalled, and projects that I just thought would be fun.  Care to wager which of those project categories actually saw completion over the last 12 months?  Well, it’s now December and it’s time to come clean and share with you how we fared.

1) Get rid of the last of the wall paper.  At first I thought I’d actually did this one, but then I walked over to check and realized that, nope. The closet doors near the garage still have the fuzzy beige wallpaper backing.  In fact, the walls in that hallway still have traces wallpaper glue on them, too. It’s funny how when you walk by something every day you just start to accept it and don’t even notice the flaws anymore. FAIL.

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2) Paint the kitchen/laundry/half bath.  Nope. Nope. Nope.  I did paint the paneled wall navy and that made a HUGE difference.  I also did some drywall patching.  One wall in the laundry room got a coat of primer and half the brick wall in the kitchen was refreshed.  Yep, half a wall.  Even my toddler pointed this out to me the other day.  “Mommy, you painted this?  But not this??”  This is another FAIL.

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3) Address the kitchen and the yellow bathroom floors.  Ahh!  I did this one!  It was a month of pure hell, but we got new VCT floors in the kitchen, laundry room and half bath.  And we love them.  The yellow bathroom?  Yeah, not so much.  Every once in a while I look for deals on carpet squares to replace that weird patch of loose carpet in the sink area, but haven’t found anything great yet.  And I have no idea what to do about the missing yellow ceramic tiles.  For now we just cover them with a bath mat.  Out of sight out of mind!  I’m going to be generous and give myself a PASS on this one because even though I didn’t complete the bathroom floors at least I’m still actively thinking about it — which is more than I can say about that wall paper…

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4) Address the fireplace situation.  Another PASS!!  This one was actually a pretty fun project.  I decided to paint the brick around the fireplace Bermuda Blue and it looks fantastic.  We get compliments on it all the time.  I even painted the brass fireplace surround a matte black which was oh so necessary.  My mom is still getting on my case about doing something with that iron art piece, but I think other than giving it a good cleaning , I’m pretty happy with it as is.

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5) Get the guest room in order.  Hahahahahaha!  Hahaha! … Ha.  So  yeah, the guest room.  Well, for a while there the guest room was looking so nice that it was my favorite room in the house (you can see it here).  I love the light that it gets and the vintage furniture I’d gathered throughout the year along with the textiles I’d collected had really brought it together nicely.  Then we added a crib and suddenly it wasn’t a guest room anymore — it was an awkward, shared baby/guest space.  But, last week we painted it (and finally patched and caulked the baseboards which was a huge undertaking!) and hung curtains and it’s looking lovely, so that’s something.   So even though we still need a headboard and updated track lights (new paint made those cans look crazy yellow) I’m giving us a big fat PASS.

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6) Finish pruning the shrubs.  We did this.  I think.  Yes, I know we did, it’s just that we now need to do it again.  But really, we spent many hours pruning and digging and planting and watering and for that we get a pass (and a round of applause) on our front landscaping.  But if you swing by, just don’t mind the leaves that need raking, or the overgrown shrub that needs trimming or the four plants along the back of the planting bed that died.  M’kay?

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But for all the items that we didn’t get to, there were a bunch of unforeseen projects that we did tackle.   Like a thrifted and refinished coffee table, a made over den space, a few new rugs and kitchen chairs, and a cleaned out and updated indoor planter!

As for next year?  Here’s what I’d love to get accomplished:

1) Paint the bedrooms and hallway.
2) Paint the kitchen, laundry room and half bath (this would include final wallpaper removal).
3) Figure out the carpet situation in the yellow bath.
4) Install quarter round in the master bath/closet (there’s stills gaps around the sides from when we had the hardwood floors installed two summers ago) and fix busted drawer front.
5) Hook up the water to the new sink the half bath. And to the ice maker while we’re at it.

My plan was to hire out the painting work, but that was before we were planning on paying for two kids in daycare.  Guess I’ll have to suck it up!


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A Tribal Glam Nursery

I know what you’re thinking… “What the hell is tribal glam, Olivia??” and to be honest I’m not sure I know myself.  I think I made it up.  But I was looking around our guest room — soon to be nursery — and was trying to re-imagine it for a little girl.  We have tons of wood tones and blush colored accents in the room already and it would be nice if I could incorporate them and save a penny… but they don’t exactly scream baby.

Here is what we are working with:

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So I started thinking about adding gold.  And maybe black or charcoal for contrast.  And maybe feathers and some more geometric shapes to play up that duvet… and tribal glam was born.

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It’s not a girly-girl room by any stretch of the imagination (let’s all have a quiet moment of prayer that I don’t end up with one of those), but I did incorporate some pink for her so I’m proud of myself for that.  And I loooove the idea of a dream catcher mobile, don’t you?!

For the headboard I think we’re just going to go with a hollow wood door stained a middle-of-the-road wood tone and mounted directly onto the wall.  And then we can have some fun with a painted design — maybe in gold.  Something a little like this, but smaller and darker in color:

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source

Should be fun!

Source list:
Dream catcher mobile
Bear baby blanket
Set of 4 Nursery Printables

Geometric Grizzly art print
Be You art print
You Are Our Greatest Adventure art print
Janey Pillow — CB2 (discontinued)
Baby quilt
Metallic gold arrow wall


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Little Updates for Little Ones

I’ve been MIA on the blog front lately, but there just hasn’t been much to blog about.  I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that it’s going to be a slow process to get this home where I want it, and I’m pretty happy with the way it’s coming along.  Crafting a home with champagne style on a beer budget takes time and patience.  You’ve got to lay in wait for good deals and be prepared to change your vision when something great but unexpected comes along.

Like a baby.

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The past few weeks we’ve spent figuring out how we’re going to get an extra bedroom out of our three bedroom + den floor plan.  Right now we’ve got a master bedroom, Logan’s room, and a guest room that is fairly frequently occupied.  Since the baby won’t need much space for a while, we’ve decided to put the crib in the guest room for now (baby can sleep in a Pack N Play in our room when we actually have guests or something).  Eventually, the plan is to purchase a quality pull-out sleeper sofa for the den — it has a nice solid sliding door for privacy, so it should work pretty well as a flex space for when guests visit.

In an effort to figure this all out I put together this inspiration board for Logan’s room.  At the time we thought we might have the kids room share, but then they told us the little one is a girl so we decided to go for separate rooms.

Logan's New Room

Most of what is pictured here we already had on hand.  The rainbow rug is in our master, but I’d been contemplating something a bit more subtle in there for a while.  The craft table and bookshelves are already in Logan’s room, but could use a bit more organization.  The navy curtains were a necessity for winter and I blogged about them here.  They arrived and they are great — they’re blackout curtains which doesn’t really work for us since Logan has never slept in complete darkness but we crack them open a bit at night and they’ve worked out fine.  Most importantly, his room is noticeably warmer which was the whole intent.

So my mom and I hit up Ikea and, in addition to the new curtains, we got Logan a twin bed for his room, and a new mattress and linens to go with (he didn’t like the orange duvet I picked out so we settled on this blue sports theme print).  I’d love to add something of interest above his bed — something like this? — that would help the headboard stand out.

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The artwork on this wall needs to be updated too — he’s outgrown the nursery look.   I really love the vinyl alphabet shown in the inspriation board above for this space.  You can find it here.

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TANGENT: To replace the displaced rug from our room (if in fact it ever makes it to Logan’s room), I thought we’d pull in the white shag rug from the living room.  It’s just a hair too small for that space given the size of our sectional — I’d really prefer a rug that extended past the sides of the couch to really anchor it.  Maybe then we could add some side tables without having them look like they’re floating.  But yeah, a 10×14 rug is HUGE and pricey and totally not in the budget anytime soon.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

BUT how posh would this bedroom look?  I really wanted to try and incorporate our existing furniture (shown) which is a bit heavy for my recent tastes (although I picked this set out from Scan myself only 7 years ago), but it really nice quality stuff.  I thought that pairing it with the lighter rug and open shelving might help and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about the idea.  I’ve even convinced my husband to let me paint a fuchsia accent wall (on the same side as the door so it’s not in your face every time you walk in.  Down the road I would love to start collecting some vintage MCM bedroom pieces and I think they would fold in nicely with this design. See?

Master Bedroom Midcentury

FYI — I totally need a board like this for me to put a room together.  It helps me to visualize the finished product so I know what to keep my eye out for in stores.  The pillows are on our bed now and inspired the color scheme but would be too much on the geometric duvet pictured.  I’d probably set the pillows on a bench or something if the duvet came to fruition because I love them and couldn’t part with them.

ANYWAY, as I mentioned, money for a new living room rug will be the catalyst for this master bedroom overhaul.  Until then, I’ve pacified myself with just a few small updates for the kiddo’s rooms.  We rearranged the furniture a bit in Logan’s room, but as you saw, we left the green rug in place for now.   We moved his crib next door for the little girl and rearranged the furniture in there to accommodate both it and a chair (for those fun midnight feedings!).

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We still need to convert the crib back for an infant and ditch those maroon mini blinds (we’re planning on getting gray thermal curtains like the ones in Logan’s room), but we’re making strides.  The bed is in desperate need of a headboard, and maybe even maybe even another fun accent wall.  I’m in love with this bright and bold nursery with its black wall that was featured on Apartment Therapy.  This room gets tons of light so a black or charcoal wall could totally work.

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Fun for a girl right?  A GIRL.  Eeek.  Can you believe it?  I can’t…

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As Winter Draws Near … and The Oil Bills Loom

It’s that time of year again.  You know, that time of year when people in glass houses start paying through the nose for heat.  We have oil-fueled radiant floor and ceiling heat, as well as oil-fueled hot water.  That’s some pricey stuff, yo.  We were forewarned about the energy costs of this particular home before we moved in (ouch), and were soooo disappointed to find we paid nearly twice that figure by the time spring rolled around after last winter (double ouch).  This could have been due in part to a particularly harsh winter — it was still snowing in April — but it was also likely compounded by the fact that we tore out all those heavy, filthy drapes the day we moved in and never replaced them.  I’d say that was a ‘whoops’ but have you ever priced up drapes for over 100 linear feet of windows?  Yeah, me neither (triple ouch).

Last fall I shared this post with you all about how we hung 14 panels from Ikea in the great room and last week we FINALLY hemmed them.  Yes, last week.  My aunt and my mom came over and we measured, cut, and sewed for TWO DAYS.  And we still didn’t even get them all lined!  I bought this awesome thermal lining (I think it’s this stuff by Roclon, but well it was a year ago so…), but it stretched when we fed it through the machine leaving nearly six inches of extra fabric across the top (but not the bottom so it wasn’t like we could just cut it off).  It was a mess.  But my aunt (aka super savvy, uber terrific, seamstress extraordinaire) came up with a solution — this double sided sticky tape she picked up at JoAnn’s.  We basically taped the liner to the panel and then sewed it so it wouldn’t get out of whack as we sewed.  I’m still sewing those damn liners on, but the hemmed curtains look fantastic!

Here’s a before photo to refresh your memory…

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And here’s how they’re looking now.

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The little white squares you see is our numbering system — 14 panels of 14 different lengths (love old houses!). You can tell which ones have been lined and which ones haven’t, no?  Three cheers for insulation!!  (don’t mind the wrinkles in the linen — I just pretend they aren’t there and you should too)

Obviously, it was a ton of work to modify these curtains with the intent of saving a buck, and we’ve pretty much determined that we won’t go that route again.  It was great to save some cash, but honestly, it will have taken me over a year by the time this little project is complete — we’ll easily spend more on oil fuel in the next year than we would store bought lined curtains if we don’t just bite the bullet.  And so, for the remaining bedrooms we’ll be purchasing one-and-done, lined thermal curtain panels!  And as a bonus, we won’t have to hem them because there aren’t clerestory windows in the bedrooms — we can just hang the curtain rod high so that the drapes juuuust skim the floor.  High and wide curtain panels are in right now so that’s good.

As you can imagine, I’ve spent a great deal of time comparison shopping and finally found what I hope is the best deal on Amazon.  I bought 4 navy thermal panels for our bedroom (we needed two 100″ panels and two 52″ panels to span the wall-o-windows).  If they work well and look decent we’ll go ahead and start ordering more for each of the other bedrooms and then den — one room at a time to spread out the cost.  I just keep telling myself that the $600 we’re going to spend on curtains will come right off the top of our fuel bill savings.  It’s one design purchase that’s actually a good investment!

Navy Thermals

These are the Best Home Fashion Navy Solid Grommet Top Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtain that I found on Amazon (I also purchased two of their wide panels). They should come next week.  I’ll be sure to let you know how I like them and follow up with a photo or two of them hung!  And you can bet we’ll be using electrical conduit as curtain rods once more. :)


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Summer Planting

I know, I know.  Planting is supposed to be done in spring, or so they tell me.  At least that’s when all  the landscapers sweep in and leave overhauled and beautified beds in their wake, right?  But you know, y’all?  Not everyone has the time (or money) for that. Oh, and it was still snowing in April around these parts, so there’s that. 

Whatever our reason may be, it’s August and we’re planting.  Sue me.

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When we moved into this house it was pretty apparent that the hedges hadn’t been tended to in some time and little by little we’ve been working to rectify that.  Last fall ok, winter we trimmed the hedges along the right side of our home (and we could finally see out the bedroom windows!) and sometime early this year we took out the egg shaped shrub that was really all but dead when seen from the back (which is really all we saw when we looked out our large kitchen window and, incidentally, where this photo was taken from).

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Two tasks that essentially took the front of our home from this where we couldn’t see out ANY of the windows…

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To this at the beginning of spring 2014.

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Less green, but a little more streamlined.  The shrubs on the right did eventually grow back beautifully, I promise.

But there were several other shrub related issues that remained.  Such as, can you spot our front door?  No?  Well, neither could anyone coming to visit because it’s obscured by that colossal orb shaped bush (which I really loved in some ways, but not right there and not from the backside where, like the cone shaped bush, it looked completely dead.  And again, that’s all we could see out our kitchen window).   There was also a hedge of holly which Kirk and I both despise for its prickly leaves that are forever stabbing the unassuming gardener or small child.  Both were yanked out along with a fair amount of ground cover, some stray bamboo that had migrated from the backyard, and a bunch of roots — origins unknown.

A process which looked a lot like this.

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And left us with this:

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Now, in full disclosure, we did actually have a landscaper come out to give us a quote for digging out these shrubs/plants, leveling the soil and replanting, but …well he never got back to us and it was a now or never type of thing.  So I did what any self-respecting girl with a landscape architect for a father would do.  I called my dad and asked for help.  I sent him some photos and some criterion (drought resistant, deer proof, full sun exposure) and he came up with this great plan of attack.  He sent a list of plant suggestions along with photos and even sketched out a plan for us.   AMAZING.

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And JUST what I needed to feel like we could tackle this on our own.  I took this sketch and his plant recommendations to a local nursery and went to town with a fabulously knowledgeable staff person.  We didn’t get all the same plants that my dad recommended because they weren’t always in stock or because I didn’t particularly connect with it in person, but he did give us a good basis for finding replacements.  His emails told us how tall he believed each row of plants should grow be and how far apart to plant which was invaluable intel for a novice like myself!

I did spend a pretty penny there (juuuust over $400), but felt pretty fortunate to find that, this late in the season, just about everything was 35% off.  In fact, the maple tree we got had been marked down from $189 just that morning to only $50!  And I’m sure the landscaper, if he ever called back, would have charged about three times what we spent on just the plants.  All told we bought:

1 Japanese Seiryu Maple tree

3 Japanese Helleri Holly (beneath the kichen window)

3 Golden Charm Cyprus (in front of the white brick wall)

3 Nandina Obsessions  (in front of the Japanese Holly)

4 Liriope Muscari (along the walkway)

3 Blue Star  (behind the Liriope)

1  Woodward Arborvitae (to pair with a lonely one we already had)
When we got home we set everything out — still in their containers — about where we wanted to plant them.  We had to make a few adjustments on the fly because we didn’t account for the buried electric that comes out from the brick wall.  We had to scoot the maple over to the right a little bit and move one of the cypress to the other side of the planting bed.

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We didn’t buy as many of the smaller plants for along the walkway as we should have.  My dad’s plan shows 10 and we only bought 7 because A) I thought we could make it work by transplanting some other grasses that we have, and B) they didn’t have the variety of Liriope that I was looking for (silver dragon).  So right now it’s a little thin, but we’re going to see how it grows in and maybe do some tweaking next year.

It didn’t take nearly as long to get everything into the ground as it had to remove what had been planted there before.  We did end up digging out one more shrub at the last minute to help balance things, but in comparison, it all went very smoothly.  And a little child labor never hurt.

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And here we are today, impatiently waiting for everything to grown and fill in (and hide the now-exposed plumbing lines!).  The mulch looks red, but I swear it’s brown!  And the maple is about its full height but should fill out that blank wall space nicely.  Also, we were told its bark turns red in the winter which should look awesome against the white brick!

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We still need to trim and reshape the remaining mature shrubs, but we’re going to wait until the weather cools off and they go dormant for winter.

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Not bad, not bad.  At least we’re not that house on the street anymore.  ;)


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How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?

Sorry, musical theatre kid in the house, here — I lived and breathed RENT for a time.  But this post isn’t about living the alternative lifestyle in NYC, it’s about celebrating a full revolution around the sun in our new abode!  Can you believe it’s been a year already?  I can’t.  So, to commemorate, I thought we might take a tour through the house — ‘then’ versus ‘now’, if you will.

Some of these spaces (like Logan’s room) have never even been featured on the blog before.  Other spaces (ok, most) are far from complete, but have still come so far!  We still have a lot to do around here — one of the biggest items being that we need new window treatments in essentially every room (the living room/dining room has new curtains up, but they still haven’t been lined or hemmed).  We are also planning on having the entire interior of the house painted in the spring (it will all go some shade of white) which is why you’ll see paint swatches either taped or painted directly onto just about every wall.  Also, just about every piece of art in our home was hung on an existing nail — all of which are about 12″ higher than I feel they ought to be.  This is another reason I am looking forward to painting in the spring — I’ll finally be forced to rehang everything at a more appropriate height!

So, without further ado, away we go!

This was how the entry way looked when we first saw the place:78

And today (read about our planter makeover here):IMG_6089

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Needs a punch of color (maybe a teal or black painted door/wall?) but overall it’s so much lighter and brighter.
  I have plans to make over that $20 vintage console table I just picked up, too (high gloss yellow?) and hang some larger art.

The kitchen then:
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And now (read about stripping wallpaper, the new floors, the navy wall, and the charcoal grill):IMG_6106IMG_6105IMG_6104

The great room from the entry way as the previous owners had it:9

And the way we have it:
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My fiddle leaf fig tree is still alive!! Barely — it dropped most of its leaves the week I bought it home, but it seems happy enough now — I just try not to breathe too close to it. <–I’m dead serious.

The living room/dining room with the previous owner’s furniture. And cat:IMG_0059IMG_0061

And with ours (read about the hardwood floors, the curtains, the sectional and the coffee table):IMG_6124IMG_6121IMG_3903

Sorry, I forgot to take a current picture of the blue wall — hence the old ottoman and missing dresser above.

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Note: I recently moved the credenza/dresser that was in here into the guest room to accommodate a second new (to me) console table — it needs a DIY makeover STAT!  Its lower stature also makes that bicycle art look like it’s taking flight (it needs to be rehung lower).

The laundry room right after we moved in:???????????????????????????????

And today:
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See? I kinda painted.  Not really. You may also notice I settled my rug dilemma — thanks, Germaine!

The half bath then:
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And today:
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New floors, new toilet, new bath mat, and newly painted vanity — I never blogged about any of this. Sorry!  Still begging for a new towel bar and toilet paper holder.  And a new mirror.  And light fixture.  Sigh.

The hallway a year ago:
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And today:
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The den as it was:
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And the den as it is today (see how I updated it without spending a dime!):
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The guest room back then:IMG_0050

And how we have it furnished now:IMG_6086IMG_6087
Doesn’t the dresser look great in here?  You can read more about it here.  I think this is my favorite room of the house.  It has fabulous light, and it came together with little to no effort — somehow effectively balancing vintage pieces with some modern, colorful accents.  

Logan’s room before:
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And now:
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This room will be getting a revamp here shortly — he’s outgrown those nursery paintings!

The yellow bath before we moved in:
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And here we are now, embracing the yellow:
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Still need to do something about that ancient wall-to-wall carpet.

The master bedroom before:IMG_0054
Bye, bye red carpet!

Our master bedroom today:IMG_6096
One of my least favorite rooms in the house.  If I could put my finger on it, I would change it in a heartbeat, but whatever it is continues to evade me.  (I think it might be the dark furniture, but I’m trying hard to convince myself otherwise because it’s new, it was expensive, and it’s actually very, very good quality stuff!)

The blue (master) bath as it looked a year ago:
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And with some new textiles today:
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Yep, still pink.

The rear yard in 2013:
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And in 2014:
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Still can’t access the back yard from 2 of the 3 exterior doors, but at least we got rid of that tree outside of the master bedroom!

The front yard in 2013:

Aaaand the front yard this month:
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Yeah, spoiler alert.  Post on replanting coming soon.  (so not as much fun as interiors!)

Finally, just for kicks, our little guy on Acclimation Day (the day we brought in all the wood flooring the week before we closed on the house) last summer:
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And here is Logan this summer — expecting big things for the year ahead:
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Yeeep.  Baby #2 due in March!  Anyone care to weigh in on where the new nursery should go? ;)

Wow.  Looking at these before pictures I cannot believe that I fell in love with this house from the MRIS photos.  I swear, I was ready to make an offer on it before we even stepped inside. That ought to show you just how crazy I can get.  Woo-ee!  Sure am glad we went with our guts though — we love this place so much!

I can’t wait to see where another year will take us!

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