Drew and I seem to get more house projects done in the summer than any other time of the year (last summer we painted the living room, foyer, french doors, little hallway, and built a living room ottoman/bench (more about those here). This year we’ve painted the long hallway and kitchen, made over a side table, added some homemade pillows, and the project below). I’m not sure why, considering summer is always sweltering in NOLA. Maybe it is the longer daylight hours and general sense of excitement that summer brings? But, I’m not complaining! We’ve recently done a couple things in the foyer/dining room that were long overdue. Now it’s become one of our favorite rooms in the house!
I’ve wanted a church pew for bench seating for our dining room for a long time. New Orleans doesn’t really seem to have an abundance of old church pews though. I’d looked and looked on Craigslist with no luck. But earlier this summer, my older sister, Blair, who lives in Nashville, TN, called me one day saying that her babysitter was selling one. She went to look at it and the dimensions were exactly what I was looking for! She bought it for me and stored it at her house until Memorial Day when she brought it to my hometown in Illinois for my dad to store until he had time to bring it to New Orleans for me. When Drew and I were visiting family over Memorial Day we got to see it for the first time and it was in a little rougher shape than I originally thought. All the transporting had broken the bottom of one of its legs and the seat was a little wobbly. My dad took it to a guy to have the leg fixed, seat reinforced, and he also sanded it down for me (the original finish was dirty and dingy –I think it had been left outside for a little bit and had some moisture damage).
It still needs a little love, and I’ll eventually put a little more work into it and then probably seal it. But for now, I love it! Such a cozy spot in there now.
Violet definitely approves of her new sunny napping spot! I wish I knew more about its history. I only know it came out of an old church in Nashville. I love having pieces with old stories in our home.
Our second new piece of furniture is this lovely 1960’s mid-century modern china cabinet base. It also has quite the story! I’d been searching for a dresser like this for in here for a long time. We needed storage for our bar items and some overflow from the kitchen (cloth napkins for dinner, etc..) as well as Drew wanted a place to put the record player and store his records. New Orleans is also quite lacking in mid-century pieces, but I’d still been stalking Craigslist with no luck. Then on Facebook one day, a friend of mine from Southern Illinois posted a photo of this one that she’d seen and loved at a local antiques shop, but didn’t have a place for. I immediately texted my little sisters begging them to go find it for me. They both had to work, but a couple days later, right as I was getting ready to board a plane to NYC for my fabric design workshop, Jill called me and said she was on her way over there to look for it. When I landed in New York I had several text messages waiting for me, including a receipt of the deposit she’d made on it for me (yay Jilli!). She even talked them down in price for me and I got it for a steal! (double yay!)
Once I was back from NYC, I called and paid for it over the phone, then my dad went over and picked it up for me. It worked out perfectly that he already needed to bring me my church pew, so he was able to bring this down too in the same trip. I waited most of the summer for them, but he finally brought them down a couple weekends ago. It is so perfect for what we needed and in amazing shape. The side cabinets are perfect for storing records!
Finally having the dresser in place spurred on the next project I’d been wanting to tackle in here for a while — wall shelving! With all the horizontal surfaces in here (dresser, table, console table, side table) all at close to the same height, we really needed something with some height in here to balance everything else out.
These shelves make such great use of otherwise mostly wasted space in our house. Actually this wall is the least shown view of our house on my blog! I don’t think I’ve posted a picture of this wall for several years since Drew’s old desk used to live here. The last couple years it has been a mostly empty space or a storage space for supplies of whatever project we were working on at the time. I LOVE it now!
I love that it provides a place for barware/glass storage, plants (that Violet kept getting into elsewhere), art, etc… I’ve been wanting to create a welcoming entry area in our home for years and this area with the mirror is finally getting us there! I can’t decide if I want to also hang a couple coat hooks up here as well. The top shelves especially could use a little more styling. I’m thinking of putting a big fern or something up there. We also need more lighting in this area of the room, so maybe a hanging lamp as well?
The rails, brackets, and wood are all from Lowe’s. The rails and brackets were originally white and we spray painted them oil-rubbed bronze. They are screwed into studs, so they aren’t going anywhere! This is actually probably the most secure thing that we’ve ever put on the walls in our house! Sidenote: we also figured out the best way to find studs in old homes with plaster walls! Find an outlet on the wall (there is one behind where the dresser is) and drill a screw into either side of it to see if it hits a stud. Electrical boxes for outlets are pretty much always attached to a stud. Once you find one, measure 16 inches over in either direction and you should find all the studs. (We did have to drill several holes in the wall to accomplish this. We did it close to the bottom of the wall though and I actually forgot about even filling them in. No one can see them with the dresser there.) With plaster walls like this, there is wooden slatting behind the walls, so using an electric stud finder never worked for us. This electric box and measure trick worked like a charm though! These railing systems are pretty inexpensive for the impact they make! I plan on eventually staining the shelves a light honey color, but wanted to live with them as is for a bit while I made up my mind for sure. At first I was worried about having too much wood in the room already, but I don’t think I really want to paint them either (there is a lot of white in here too with the door and trim and blinds). So I’m going to do a lighter tone than the rest of the wood surfaces in here, but something that isn’t as stark as raw wood.
So there you have it! A full view of our entire foyer/dining room area. I just love how “us” this room feels now!
P.S. Did you see how many pictures Violet made it into? That pillow on the console table is her “perch” and she loves it up there. Easily spends half her day or more there.
Isn’t it amazing how sometimes you put off something for so long that in the end only takes you a short amount of time to actually do? That has been the case with painting rooms in our house. When we moved into our apartment four years ago, every single room in our house (except the bathroom and laundry room) were painted the same exact sunburned flesh color. I hated it. It was the worst orange-red muted shade of tan (in a flat finish!). But for the longest time I didn’t change it. I kept telling myself that it was just a rental, that we didn’t need to spend the money on it.
But there isn’t really anything good about telling yourself the “someday” mindset. What is the point in only ever living for “someday?” The fact is that the “someday” when we have a house of our own could be a really long way away. Who knows. I don’t want to live my life waiting on the future. They are only painted walls for goodness sake!
So the last couple years we have worked on getting rid of those ugly walls and making this apartment our own. I’m happy to say that as of this weekend, every single sunburned-flesh-orange-red-muted-tan wall color is GONE from this house!! (See the before pictures, here).
The silly thing about it is, I would sit on the couch in the living room, staring down this hallway, just hating the previous color. I don’t know how much time exactly I spent hating it, but you know how long it took us to re-paint it? 2 hours. Only 2 HOURS to cover up something I spent YEARS hating!
We don’t want our small apartment to be a rainbow of different colors, so we painted the hallway the same creamy white color of the living room (Asiago by Valspar in a Satin finish) and the kitchen the same taupey gray of the foyer/dining room (Smoked Oyster by Valspar in a Satin finish).
I still can’t believe that it took us so little time (2 hours per room) to get rid of something I spent years hating. What have you been putting off in your life that won’t actually take very long to finish? Get on it!
This weekend, I finally finished up a simple little project that had been on my to-do list for a long time. Making over this side table with a little bit of spray paint and the wooden stump cake stand from our wedding.
I bought this table on clearance at Target for $10 a couple years ago. I love having it in the living room, as it is super convenient to pull over to set my laptop on or whatever while I’m working from the couch. However, the style could’ve fit in better with our decor and I didn’t love the cheap laminate top.
If you remember from our wedding (three years ago!), I bought this thick wooden tree slice to use as our cake stand.
Since our wedding, it has just been sitting around our house with no real purpose. I didn’t want to throw it out, but I didn’t have a good use for it as is. So when we went back to our hometown a few weeks ago, I brought it with us, in hopes that someone we knew with a chainsaw could cut it up for me into more usable pieces.
I was over at my friend Tonya’s house chatting with her and her mom, when I remembered that her brother, Tyler, had cut several wood slices for Tonya for her wedding. The cake stand just so happened to still be in my car and her brother agreed to cut it down for me. He even cut it into three slices, so I have other pieces that I can use in the future for other projects. (Thanks Tyler!!)
Tonya also helped me scrape off some of the bark that was falling off. (You are the best Tonya!!)
Then once we got back to New Orleans, I sanded down the wood top (no one wants to get splinters from your side table!) and added three coats of satin finish polyurethane, while Drew lightly sanded and spray painted the base with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.
It really takes a village sometimes!
I love how it turned out! I think the wood and black combo make it look a lot more sophisticated and fit in a lot better with our style. I love the thicker top and that I was able to use something with sentimental meaning!
This weekend I finally finished a project (in under an hour) that I’d been talking about for the last 6 months! If you remember from several of my previous “Life Right Now” posts, I’d mentioned buying these cloth napkins from West Elm:
They are beautiful as napkins, but I had plans to use them to make pillowcases for throw pillows in my living room. I bought them last Thanksgiving, seam ripped out the seams, washed them, and then they sat for months just waiting for me to iron them and sew into pillowcases. The hold up was with pillow forms. All the pillows that we had in the living room had poly-fill inserts. Poly-fill inserts are cheap, but over time they get flat and I feel like in general they just don’t look as nice. For these, I wanted to use down/feather pillow inserts. They are more plush, cooler to the touch, and hold their shape better (you can also give them the “chopped” look if you are into that). I found some in the size I wanted on Amazon, but when I ordered them, they sent me the wrong size. I had to return those and when I went to buy more, the price had gone up. Eventually I ended up buying some from a different seller at a great price for two 22″ pillow forms (these ones at $35 for two).
I just love how they turned out! I love the bit of shimmer the gold sparkle adds and the way that it ties in with the gold frames on the wall. They even look fine with our green couches (that will hopefully one day be replaced with something more neutral).
With these, I sewed a zipper in the bottom so that I can easily change them out or wash them. I wish I’d done that with those patterned teal ones I made. It was quicker to sew in the zipper than it was to hand sew that opening shut and so much more convenient! (here is an easy tutorial if you don’t know how to sew in a zipper).
You could buy enough fabric to make these for the same price or cheaper than the cloth napkins, but this is a great option if you come across a napkin fabric that you really like! Love these!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you might know that our bedroom décor has always been the thorn in my side of our house. It has just never been what I’ve wanted it to be, despite many small changes here and there (I will give it credit and say that it has come a long way from where it started…). It is a small room with great natural light, but the wall color has always been wrong, the bedding has never felt put together enough, I’ve been searching for the right nightstands for years, the headboard is too long for the bed, and I’ve yet to get the curtains where I want them. I do love Drew’s dresser and our gold pharmacy style lamps though.
I’ve had some ideas of what I wanted to do in here for a while (neutrals with black and white and pops of color, mixed patterns in the bedding, open wooden nightstands with a drawer, simple, breezy white curtains…) and it is simply time to make it happen. One of the best ways to get a clearer picture of where to head with a room is to go back over your Pinterest boards and look at images of rooms that you’ve pinned. You are guaranteed to find a pattern across the images when you look at them together. I think this is one of the best ways to really visually see your style emerge.
For me, that means a room with neutral bones (neutral walls, flooring, headboard, furniture), different scales of patterns (geometric, organic, florals), and both soft and deep jewel toned colors (plum, teal, mint, raspberry, lavender) in places that can easily be swapped out when I want a change. I also love deep, dark caramel wood tones and gold and black hardware.
I already knew all those things of course (look at the rest of my house and my style in general), but it always helps to see other rooms that fit within your style and what you like/don’t like about them.
So what is on the to-do list for this room?
- Nightstands (after over four years of searching, I finally found and ordered ones I loved, but unfortunately they ended up being out of stock and it just wasn’t updated online! I was so sad when I got that order cancellation e-mail! Back to the drawing board.)
- Curtains (simple, breezy, white)
- Bedding (I love Kerry Cassill’s block printed textiles and I’ve been eyeing that West Elm duvet for years! I really want to design my own patterns and have them printed on fabric for some of the bedding though!)
Those are the main areas I want to address, but there are also a few things on the “maybe” list:
- New rug? The one we have is fine and neutral, so I might not change it, but it is a little too small and I like the idea of the rug adding in some extra pattern.
- Paint the walls? (for the 3rd time…) When we moved in, the walls were a tan color with reddish/orange undertones. I hated it. So we painted it what I thought would be a nice creamy white, but it turned out too yellow. Finally last summer I got tired of the pale yellow, so we painted it a warm grey color that we already had the paint for (it is the same color as the office/studio). It is definitely an improvement, and I’m glad we tried to use what we had, but the color reads totally different than it does in the office and looks too blue in the bedroom. I really want it to be a nice creamy white (like our living room color). But I want to see if changing up the bedding and curtains makes me like the current color more.
- New headboard? I do love the history in our DIY old door headboard, and it has gotten a couple makeovers over the years to help me like it more, but it drives me crazy that it is too long for our bed. It sticks out like 8 inches or so on each side. It is heavy and is attached well to the bed, but it does move/shake around a little when you get into bed or move around. I would really love something that is upholstered and is softer on my head when I sit in bed to read. (also see next point)
- New layout? Our room is tiny, so there isn’t a lot of room for re-arranging, but lately I’ve been wondering what the bed would look like centered under the windows on the back wall. I think it could look great, but our current headboard is too high and covers up way too much of the window to make it work. I might try this layout if we decide to switch the headboard.
I’m excited to finally have a relaxing retreat in our home that I love! Stay tuned for the progress!
P.S. Click here to see what the bedroom currently looks like.
All images used in the design board above can be found, with sources, on my “for our apartment” Pinterest board. If you can’t find something you are looking for, let me know in the comments below.