Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home


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Moodboards to the Rescue

Many apologies for the long absence.  The hiatus was three fold:

1) Having the house was FINALLY painted from ‘meh’ back to white was a long and trying process.  The change, while striking in person, is hard to document in photos since most my readers already assumed the dingy ‘meh’ color coating everything from doors, baseboards, ceilings and closets WAS white (many thanks to iphone filters!).  So, no reveal post for you, though you can check out this post wherein I did a small progress update and highlighted a couple feature walls.  I will show you this though — we painted our door Bermuda Blue to match the fireplace.  Love.

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2) We’re starting to slow down in the frequency of our projects.  The more we get our house feeling like a home, the less compelled we I feel to continue tweaking it.  Don’t get me wrong, this place is far from magazine worthy, but there are more important things in the word.  Which brings me to…

3) Little Miss Quinn was born. This all-consuming bundle of smiles completed our family with her arrival in March.  She must have been born with some respect for home improvements because she arrived the very day our painted crew finished!  (living in a construction zone at 40 weeks pregnant is no joke, y’all!)

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Needless to say, she and her brother have taken a good bit of our time an energy lately — we haven’t even paused to rehang the artwork throughout the house in the aftermath of the Great Painting Project of 2015.  Well, except in her nursery.   Clearly this picture was taken while the painting was still underway, but I love how this room came together — you can check out my mood board for it in this post.  I call it ‘tribal glam’.

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But now that things are settling down I’ve become consumed with redecorating the master bedroom. I’m not even sure redecorating is the right word here since I never really decorated it to begin with, so you can imagine it was in need of an overhaul.  This is where I left off with the master on the blog — aside from that rug moving to Logan’s room (read about that here) it hasn’t changed a bit since 2013.

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In spite of all the windows and aside for first thing in the morning, this east facing room is very dark because of the huge evergreens in the back yard. We painted the walls and ceilings bright white (lighter rooms in the house were painted a grey-white, see the nursery above) in an attempt to get the light to bounce around in there a bit more and I’m happy to say that it worked!  I was stuck, in more ways than one, with the dark furniture though. The two night stands, 8 drawer dresser, and highboy were a gift from my mom when we purchased our first house and are of exceptional quality. Unfortunately, my taste has evolved considerably since then and I was really struggling to make them work here. Being the visual person that I am, I made some moodboards to try and spark some ingenuity and I came up with a couple contenders. Does anyone else love moodboards at much as I do?!

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Master Bedroom Inspiration

They were each great in their own way,  but I felt like I was trying too hard to inject bold colors into the room in an effort to overcome the dim lighting and the dark furniture when really what I craved was a calm and airy space. It took a while for me to admit it, but I realized that I needed to get over my guilt of unloading this bedroom set and just bite the bullet. So I’m doing it, I’m selling this wonderful 4 piece set and replacing it with a some mixed and matched pieces that really speak to me.  And so, a new moodboard was born!

Actual bedroom

Everything pictured above I actually already have — I just haven’t fully assembled it all in reality for a real photo yet. The rug we already owned, and the lamps ($39 each) and artwork ($29 each) I found at HomeGoods and purchased with store credit. The duvet ($99) is from H&M, but I used a coupon codes for free shipping and 15% off.  The curtains are the same ones as are in our living room and are from Ikea ($150 for four panels including the thermal liners), and the furniture are vintages pieces that I have collected. Oh, and I still think that DIY pipe bookshelf would be amazing (right now we have one of those 16 cube Ikea shelves on that wall — in black of course!).

I am absolutely in LOVE with how the warm wood tones work with the grey bedding to make such a welcoming space.  With the black furniture it was just too stark, but toss in some vintage pieces and a couple blue accents and I think it’s perfect.  I am tickled with my new vintage finds — a Broyhill Brasilia nightstand that I got for a song (the one on the right) and the Knoll credenza which is a family heirloom.  All told, this redo is only costing us $373 — almost half of which went to my Brasilia spurge item (soooo worth it!!) and the other half to the curtains which, with our harsh winters, were a necessity item anyway.  And let’s not forget the sale of the bedroom set which should fetch upwards of $800 and thus put money in our pocket when all is said and done.  Man, I love makeovers that pay me in the end!

I can’t wait to get it all set up.  Is it the weekend yet?!


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A Painted House

The painting is happening, the painting is happening!!

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We knew when we moved in (back in July of 2013) that we were going to have to hire professionals to paint the interior of the house.  EVERY surface was painted the same pale yellow/beige — not just the walls but the baseboards, ceilings, doors, closets, brick, beams, EVERYTHING — and it’s been estimated that the last time the house was painted was upwards of 20 years ago so you can imagine what wonderful condition it was in.

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I had started trying my hand at a few small spaces, but invariably I would get overwhelmed and would quit nearly as quickly as I had started.  The laundry room for instance has had one primed wall for well over a year! There’s just SO much patching and repair work to be done, that it just wasn’t feasible for us to do it while working full time and taking care of a toddler.

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But look at it now!  (sorry for the crappy fun-house photo)

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We’ve even taken the opportunity to do a little overhaul on this bathroom … removed the handicap bar and replaced the toilet paper holder, towel holder, mirror and light fixture.  Perhaps best of all we got the sink hooked up so it actually has running water (yeah… we’ve not been able to wash hands in this room for at least 6 months — thank goodness for hand sanitizer! Eww, I know).  Here’s a before shot — full reveal to come!

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Look at that door jam.  Do you see how dirty this place has felt? It’s now starting to feel so fresh and clean!!

Financially, it wasn’t in the cards to get the place painted before we moved in, but oh how much easier that would have been!  We’re on day 9 of rooming in with our 3-4 person painting crew and it’s such a mess, but at least the end is finally in sight!  The reason we decided to pull the trigger on the interior painting now?  Well, today is the first day of spring and it’s looking like this outside.

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And contractors are hurting.  Bad for them, but good for homeowners!  On a whim I decided to get another quote (I’ve become a serial quote collector — historically they’ve ranged from $8-$12k!!) and was delighted when it came in WELL below previous figures.  Thank you, snow!

Oh, and the other hurdle we’re facing?  Baby #2 is due in 4 days. Yes, this is nesting at its finest! People said we were crazy to embark on this project right now (a due date is just an estimate after all!), but after talking about it we realized we just couldn’t pass up such a good deal.  So here we are …

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The house is in chaos, but I’m finding such serenity in white ceilings, doors, and frames. :)

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Today is supposed to be the last full day of painting and then the crew will come back one day next week to take care of any odds and ends that we spot.  Which means this weekend will be spent deep cleaning and putting the house back together.  Yes, even with this belly.

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But I don’t care, because I’m too busy doing my happy dance and shouting good riddance to the beige!


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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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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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