Our Home, November 2014

January 23, 2015

It’s been two years since I shared our last house tour (November of 2012). Last November (2014), I got to thinking that it would be nice to take pictures and do another house tour, to see how our home has evolved over the last two years. I took these pictures in November, but with the craziness of the holidays and such, I’m just now getting to post them (sounds a lot like last time as well!). The empty room photos are from move-in day (which also happened to be my 20th birthday) in 2011. In just a few months, we’ll have lived in this apartment for four years.

Our home is at a really nice place. I’m finally satisfied enough with everything that I don’t have a big, long, to-do list anymore. Sure, it would be nice to paint the kitchen (I’d renovate it if we owned the house) and hallway, replace the bedroom curtains, make a more welcoming entry, get a nice, neutral colored sofa, etc., but for now, I’m happy with our home as it is! So happy to have this cozy little spot to call ours.

Foyer & Dining Room:

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Curtains are from Pottery Barn Teenplant/console table we built ourselves, dining room table is from the Nashville flea market, dining chairs are vintage, rug is from Target, baskets on the console table shelves are from Target, milk glass bowl, old Reader’s Digest books, and small white cabinet are thrifted, black lamp was given to us by Drew’s mom and then I gave it a makeover, Self-Portrait woodcut is by me, paintings in the room are by me, framed engagement photos we took ourselves, the glass jar candles on the side table and console are from our wedding, door wreath I made, wooden stump is the cake stand from our wedding, gold plant pot is from Home Depot that I painted, crock planter is vintage from my dad, and all other plant pots are either from Lowe’s or TJ Maxx. Walls are painted Smoked Oyster by Valspar in a Satin finish.

Things on our to-do list for the foyer:

  • Sand and paint the little white cabinet (I like it white, but the paint is old and chipped/peeling).
  • Create a little entryway/mudroom area right inside the door with a little bench, a mirror, and some coat hooks or something.
  • Eventually, I would like to get a china cabinet of some sort to go on the entryway wall in here for storage/bar area.

Living room:

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Couch and loveseat are from Compass Furniture in New Orleans, television/media cabinet is from Target, coffee table/bench base was bought from a little shop in the French Quarter and Drew and I made the tufted top, white coffee table tray is from West Elm, neon pink side table is from Target, white bookcase is from IKEA, painting was a wedding gift from my sister and her husband (by New Orleans artist Adam Hall), gallery wall pieces: “I love you” print hand-lettered by me, my favorite vintage photo of my grandparents, one of my first surface pattern designs (!!!), a test sheet out of my watercolor sketchbook (that one will probably change eventually, I just put that in for now), an elephant print  that reminds me of my Mamaw (she collected little elephant figurines and that print reminds me of a shirt she used to wear), “Yours Sincerely,” painting I did a few years ago, my favorite picture of my sisters/nieces/nephew that I took when we were in Puerto Rico (with a stray cat), “It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful” print from The Nester, a gold skeleton key that opened my childhood bedroom door (and was the official key for our secret club), a photo I took of my childhood front yard when I was home for my Papaw’s funeral last Spring, and my final drawing for the first art class I ever took at Tulane, curtains I made from white sheets, big turquoise velvet couch pillows are from World Market, teal and patterned pillows I made from World Market cloth napkins (these and these), light blue pedestal side table from Nadeau in New Orleans, cream and white damask throw, wire basket (filled with yarn on bookshelf), and wooden @ symbol from TJ Maxx, floor lamp is from Lowe’s, silver table lamp is from Compass Furniture (scored it for $15 with a Living Social Deal!),  8×10 area rug from Lowe’s (scored it for $15!), glass candy dish, wooden ladder and quilts are vintage/thrifted, basket (with magazines in it behind the french doors) was a wedding gift, landscape painting on the bookshelf was a wedding gift (painted my Drew’s mom’s good friend and my 8th grade teacher!), globe was mine from when I was little bought for me by my Mamaw, the chalkboard message board was from our wedding (originally from here), and the three abstract paintings and ceramic artichoke were made by me. Wall color is Asiago by Valspar in a satin finish.

Things on our to-do list for the living room:

  • Eventually replace the rug with a nicer one.
  • Eventually replace the couches with a nice grey velvet sectional. (I can’t wait to not have green couches! But these are comfortable and in good shape, so replacing them is not a high priority.)
  • At some point, I want to cut down the tree stump in the foyer (the cake stand from our wedding) and turn it into the table top of that neon pink side table. And then paint the pink either oil-rubbed bronze or gold.

Hallway:

This hallway, right off the side of the living room, runs all the way down the house. The kitchen is the first door on the right, office/studio is the second door and then at the end of the hallway is the laundry room. At the laundry room, the hallway turns to the right with the bathroom straight ahead and our bedroom to the left.

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Hallway bookcases are from IKEA, little cabinet of drawers was thrifted on a vacation in Savannah, GA, LOVE painting was a bridal shower gift from my friend Tonya, streetcar cross-stitchwas made by my mother-in-law, fleur-de-lis coat hook was a gift, small country scene painting was painted by my 8th grade teacher (a friend of my mother-in-law), biggest framed print is by Katie Daisy, the rest of the pictures are either wedding photos (by Stephanie of Stephanie’s Photography), small paintings my me, or random things like framed fortune cookies, a painted piece of wood (not sure why that’s up there actually), or prints collected over time (a couple are from our honeymoon).

Things on our to-do list for the hallway:

  • Paint the walls the same color as the living room?
  • Extend the frame gallery farther down the walls?
  • Put in a pretty hanging light fixture (one that’s thrifted and refashioned).
  • Get a nice rug/runner for in front of the bookcases?
  • Add a wooden top to the bookcases?

If I owned this house, I would install tall board and batten all the way down the hallway, painting the lower part the same color as the trim and the top half a different, contrasting color. I would hang art in white frames all along the top part. I would also probably build in some nicer bookcases. But alas, we are just renting, so that probably won’t happen.

Kitchen:

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Kitchen rug is by Dash and Albert, checked hand towels are from Target, green utensil holder is a plant pot from Hobby Lobby, gold tray and wooden cheese board were Christmas gifts from my sister, ceramic apple and stool are from TJ Maxx, artwork above the sink is from here, cookbook holder was a wedding gift from Target, baking station cabinet is from Nadeau in New Orleans, wooden cabinet and small white floral plant pot were thrifted.

Things on our to-do list for the kitchen:

  • Add bamboo or white fabric roman shades to the windows.
  • Paint the walls the same Smoked Oyster color as the foyer?
  • Hang something on the wall between the pantry and the windows. Maybe a hanging spice rack?

If we owned this house, I would extend the cabinets along the window wall, moving the sink to be underneath the window closest to the pantry, add a backsplash, replace the countertops, and re-paint the cabinets. But we don’t own it, so that will probably never happen. Nice to dream though.

Office & Art Studio:

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My desk chair is from World Market, Drew’s wooden desk chair was thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, small wooden table was thrifted years ago (it used to live in my childhood bedroom), shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big ornate gold frame, small brass pineapple, and brass plant pot were thrifted, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print on bookshelves we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, prints in them are prints of my paintings, wooden abstract painting on desk is by me, two taped up paintings on my side of the desk were bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen, “It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful” print from The Nester, a taped up print-out of one of my first repeatable patterns, taped up painting on Drew’s side is by me, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame was thrifted, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, silver desk lamp is from IKEA, and rose window print is from here. Read more about my art studio inspiration wall, here. Read about how we built our desk (an IKEA hack), here). Walls are painted Grey Ghost (Olympic from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. Chalkboard wall is painted with black chalkboard paint (also Valspar from Lowe’s).

Things on our to-do list for my office/studio:

  • New desk chair (my current one has a wobbly leg and it is too short for the height of the desk).
  • Eventually, get a nicer (larger) rug.
  • Eventually, maybe, add nicer bamboo blinds to the windows to replace the cheap vinyl ones?

Laundry Room:

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The curtains used to hang in my freshman college dorm room (originally from Wal-Mart), the laundry basket is from TJ Maxx, the ironing board and cover are from Target, ladder from Lowe’s, my dad bought the washer and dryer for me (they were from a friend from our hometown that used to live in New Orleans –she was moving from New Orleans and didn’t need to take them with her), the deep freezer is from Lowe’s, the rug and the wire baskets on the shelves are from TJ Maxx, wall shelving Drew and I bought from Lowe’s, standing shelving unit is the MULIG from IKEA.

Things on our to-do list for the laundry room:

  • Nothing really! This room is tight and stuffed, but I’m so happy to have it!

Bathroom:

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Creme-colored rug from World Market, magazine rack and grey/white hand towel from TJ Maxx, abstract painting by me, old books and brass bowl are thrifted, soap dispenser from Target, frames from Michael’s and spray painted gold, striped Turkish towels from Loomed NOLA, shower curtain made by me from a sheet, and houses plant pot is vintage. Small hallway right outside the bathroom is painted Semi-Sweet by Valspar in a satin finish and top art is thrifted, bottom is by me.

Things on our to-do list for the bathroom:

  • Repaint or replace the magazine rack (the cream color isn’t really jiving with the white in the room).
  • Add a patterned rug to the small hallway right outside the bathroom.

Bedroom:

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Headboard made by us from an old door, sheets are a mixture from Target and TJ Maxx, coverlet/bedspread and gold pharmacy-style table lamps from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods, dresser from Drew’s childhood bedroom, cream curtains from the pergola at our wedding (originally from Target) and white ones are from IKEA, rug and black pharmacy-style floor lamp from Target, painting by Lulie Wallace, white bookcase from IKEA, and fushia velvet chair from World Market. Walls are painted Grey Ghost (Olympic from Lowe’s) in a satin finish, the same color as the office.

Things on our to-do list for the bedroom:

  • Find (or build) nightstands. Since this room is small and they have to fit underneath the overhang from the headboard, they have to be a really specific size and I haven’t been about to find ones that will work.
  • New curtains. The cream-colored ones clash with the grey walls and the white ones are too short.
  • The bedding could still use a little work. I think sheets in a bolder pattern would be nice.

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So happy with the changes we’ve made since the last house tour!

DIY 12-Foot Long Double Desk

February 9, 2014

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Last week I shared our recent office makeover, including the DIY 12-ft long double desk we built. Today I’m here to give you the how-to so that you can build your own.

This really is a pretty simple DIY project (especially compared to our DIY Old Door Console Table that we built from scratch), that even the less-DIY-savvy of you can do pretty easily.

I had been thinking about this project for a while, so I already had an idea of what I wanted (here are some similar desks that I used for inspiration: thisthis and this), so I measured our space to see what would work best and then made this quick sketch to show Drew. He was on board immediately (he was ready to overtake the room that had long been only my office) and we came up with a plan.

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We started with a trip to IKEA (the closest IKEA to New Orleans is in Houston, TX, so we made a weekend trip of it), where we purchased three of these BESTA bookcases, along with these feet for the bottom of them (the BESTA bookcases have a variety of feet options, so you can change up your look if you want something different).  ***SEE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE BESTA PRODUCT LINE & LINKS.

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Once we were home, we cleaned out the room, painted it, and then put our bookcases together and placed them where we wanted them in the room. The spacing of our room turned out perfect for these! We set those couple boards on top to mimic the desktop, just to make sure the height would be okay. It really depends on the height of your chair, but for me, the desktop is a touch higher than I would have made it for myself. However, I’m sharing this desk with my husband, who is a big guy, and the height is perfect for him. (I’ve been sitting on a pillow in my chair, which makes it the perfect height, but I’m going to look for a taller office chair at some point.) You might find that you don’t actually need the legs on them to be the right height for you. (The BESTA Bookcases without legs are about 25 1/4 inches tall, with legs ours are 29 1/4 inches tall.) With the desk top attached, our desk turned out to be a total of 31 inches high.

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Next, we made our final plans for the top, measuring to see how long we wanted our desktop to be. Our wall is about 12 feet long and we wanted the desk to be slightly shorter than that, to give it room to actually fit in the space (it is a free-standing desk, not a built-in, so it doesn’t need to be completely flush against both walls). We decided 140 inches long would be perfect for us. We made a trip to Lowe’s and bought three 2x8x12 untreated pine boards and had them cut down in-store to 140 inches. When choosing boards, make sure you lay them flat on the ground in the store and pick ones that are as flat/straight as you can find. (We had some issues with one of our boards being warped because we didn’t check them well enough in the store!) After we got them home, we gave them a good sanding to smooth the surface and also to remove any stamps/marks on the wood. Make sure to also wipe them down and remove any dirt/dust before staining.

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We are still really happy with the finish of the top of our Old Door Console Table, so we used the same method and same stain for this project as well. We used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, 2 coats of Minwax Wood Stain in Dark Walnut, and (later, after the desk top was attached) we gave it three coats of Rustoleum Water-Based Polyurethane in a Satin finish.

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I would recommend staining your wood outside or in some other well-ventilated area. Since we live in an apartment, we were forced to do this inside (with the windows open and a fan blowing the smell out), but it was still pretty stinky. After the stain has cured for a day or two, then you can start attaching the top boards together.

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We used these long metal connector bars that we found at Lowe’s. We used 4– one on each end of the desk and one in each open space (where our chairs go). Make sure you pull the boards together as you screw these in, to prevent large gaps between the boards.

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Once we had the top boards connected together, we measured out our bookcases, put them in the right places, then set the wooden top on top of them. We left a couple inch overhang on each end and each open chair space is 32 inches. The bookcases are only 15 1/2 inches deep, whereas our top is 22 inches deep, so there is a 3/4 inch overhang on the front lip of the desk and about 5 1/2 inches of space left behind each bookcase (which has turned out great for storage of art materials!).

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Once we had everything situated where we wanted it, we used these small L brackets to attach the top to the bookcases. There is a slight gap between the bookcases and the top on ours to accommodate the curvature of the wood (no wood is perfectly flat!), but when making your own, you might find that you don’t end up with as big of a gap there (one of our boards was slightly warped). The weight of the wood also holds the top down, so we didn’t think it needed more attaching than a few of these on each side of the bookcases.

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After everything was attached and together, I gave the top 3 coats of Satin finish Poly and let that cure for a few days.

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So happy with how it turned out! It is the perfect space for Drew and I to work. We each have plenty of storage space in the bookcases and lots of work space on top (with plenty of space between us so we don’t bother each other while working either!).

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It also makes the perfect use of the space in this room. It might be a 12 foot long desk, but it doesn’t feel like it takes up very much space in the room! I still have room for my easel/art stuff on the other side of the room with plenty of open floor space to spread out in the floor if I’m working on a crafting project.

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See more images of the room, here.

Budget Breakdown:

IKEA (BESTA Bookcases ($46.75 x 3 = $140.25) and BESTA Legs ($8.50 a pair x 6 = $51.00) family discount pricing + 15.78 tax) : $207.03
Wood for desk top (3 2x8x12 boards at $7.43 each): $22.29
Metal Connector Bars (4 at $2.80 each): $11.20
Metal L Brackets (3 packs of 4 at $2.27 each): $6.81
Stain/Wood Conditioner/Polyurethane/Foam Brushes: already owned (but would be around $30 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)
Screws, Sandpaper, etc… already owned (but would be around $10 to purchase if you didn’t already own these)

TOTAL: $247.33 

$250 isn’t bad for a 12-foot long desk for two! Plus we sold Drew’s old desk on Craigslist for $100, so that brings our out-of-pocket cost down to under $150!

One of my favorite projects that we’ve done together and we are already getting a ton of use out of it! Yay for pretty projects that increase our productivity!

P.S. We did plan ahead and made sure that whatever connecting methods we used (the metal connector bars and L brackets) could be disassembled rather easily in the future to move to a different house. We also thought ahead before we bought our 12 ft long boards and measured to make sure that we could even get them in the house. Some things that you also might want to consider before building!

***UPDATE 12/3/15: Several people have asked if IKEA still carries the BESTA bookcases, since my original links above don’t work. IKEA still does carry them, but they have changed a bit. When we bought ours, the frame and shelves came together as a “bookcase” that you could choose to add feet to, but now they come in different parts so that you can customize/build the exact piece you want (they have doors and drawers available instead of just shelves!). You buy the frame, shelves, doors, drawers, feet, etc. separately. I believe this frame is the equivalent of what I have: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20245964/#/30245850But here are some other helpful links:

Frames (different sizes): http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/living_room/12151/
Doors and Drawer fronts (different sizes): http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/living_room/12152/
Interior fittings: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/living_room/12158/
Accessories: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/living_room/12159/

Office for Two

February 2, 2014

The last time I shared photos of my office/studio, it looked like this:

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It continued to look like this until about a week and a half ago. Now it looks quite a bit different (but we’ll get to that in just a second).

The room was great before. It was pretty. It was functional for storing my things. But I felt a little like that was all it was being used for. Just a room to house my stuff. During college, it was great to have this space to myself. I needed a quiet spot to write papers and do homework. However, now that I’m out of school, I found that I didn’t really use the space as much anymore (only when painting). I still work some from home, I still blog, and I still spend a lot of time on my computer, however, I found this space to be too quiet (and lonely) for me to work in very often. Since Drew and I both work away from home during the day, we only get to spend time with each other at night and on the weekends. If I spent all that time working in here, with him working in the other room, we would never see each other. So we would both end up bringing our computers into the living room where we could work together.

So we decided to give this room a little makeover. One that would make it work a little better for both of us. Now it looks like this:

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I’ve always loved the look of double desks (especially since Drew and I both do a lot of work from home that we need office space for) and I’d been envisioning one for this room for a long time. This wall is just the perfect spot for it. (Inspiration: this, this, this, thisthis and this.)

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We built the (nearly 12 foot long) desk ourselves using Besta bookcases from IKEA (outfitted with these legs) and wooden 2x8x12 boards that we stained/sealed/and put together. A longer post coming soon about exactly how to DIY one of your own. (We did a few things differently, but our process was very similar to this one.)

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We ended up painting the wall behind the desk with chalkboard paint (Valspar from Lowe’s) and it is one of my absolute favorite things about the room. I’ve always admired chalkboard walls and I love the functionality of this one (inspiring quotes, to do lists, etc.) and the gorgeous statement it makes (I’m so into high contrast these days!). It took about 3 coats of paint to cover our wall and even though our walls are bumpy plaster, it still works great. If you do this in your own home, remember to “season” the entire wall with chalk dust before using (it makes what you write on there easily erasable without leaving an impression of what you wrote on the wall), but I will warn you that it makes a huge mess! Totally worth it in the end though.

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The other walls in the room are painted in Grey Ghost (Valspar from Lowe’s) in a satin finish. I love the contrast of the black chalkboard wall with the lighter grey walls and the white bookcases, etc.

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I’ve found lately that my style is changing quite a bit. I’m into really high-contrast and neutral spaces (black, white, grey, gold, and wood), with just smaller bits of color (and I would even like a little less color in here, but I’m working with what I’ve got — LOVE this office), patterns, abstract art (when wasn’t I into that though), elegant but with a more casual feel (love the imperfect to do list and the art taped right on the wall), contrasting textures (matte black wall with satin grey on the other walls, smooth white bookcases with an imperfect wooden desk top), a little old with a little new, and a little bit of quirk. This is definitely my favorite room in the house.

See more of my office/studio inspiration on my Pinterest board, here.

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The room feels so much bigger now! Not only is it such a better use of the space in our small apartment, and more functional, but it also provides so much extra storage and organization. It is so nice to have a desk with shelves. I didn’t even know how much I missed that before with my open desk. The small gap behind the desk bookcases, between the wall, is also great for storing art paper pads, unused art frames, etc! A nice little accidental perk!

This room has come so far from the before pictures in this post!

Now I’m on to the search for a larger rug for this space!

****UPDATE**** Want to build your own DIY Double Desk? Check out the how-to, here

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Sources:

My desk chair is from World Market, Drew’s wooden desk chair was thrifted, baskets on the built-in shelves and the middle desk shelf are from Target, other smaller baskets on desk shelves are from Michael’s, rug is from Target, curtains I made out of sheets from TJ Maxx, easel is from Craigslist, pink curvy glass lamp is from Home Goods (got it on vacation years ago in Charleston, SC), standing lamp is from Target, shelves DIY built-in out of IKEA Extra-Deep Billy Bookcases, Painting Taboret is IKEA kitchen cart, big white ornate frame with painting inspiration pics is thrifted and turned into bulletin board, big ornate gold frame is thrifted, elephant print on bookshelves is from this Etsy shop, Live Simply print from this Etsy shop, small purple/yellow print on bookshelves we got in Portland, OR but is Old School Stationeersgreen elephant piggy bank is from Urban Outfitters, glittery gold frames on wall are from Michaels, prints in them are prints of my paintings, wooden abstract painting on desk is by me, two taped up paintings on my side of the desk were bought at an estate sale and painted by Pierce Jonassen, taped up painting on Drew’s side is by me, crewelwork embroidery in gold frame was thrifted, white ceramic turtle is from West Elm, gold plant pot was thrifted, silver desk lamp is from IKEA, and rose window print is from here.

Christmas Decorating

December 17, 2013

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I just love how cozy our house is at Christmastime.

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We kept our decorations really simple this year, only putting silver/gold/white ornaments and beads on the tree, snowflakes on the windows, and my favorite Christmas print up. Our apartment doesn’t have a ton of storage space, so we can’t have too many seasonal decorations. The beads on the tree are all ones we have caught at Mardi Gras parades here (most are from our first Mardi Gras in New Orleans).

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This year, in addition to small, normal tree lights, we also added some bigger globe lights as well, which gives the tree a really pretty effect. I saw the idea on Vintage Revivals. We used these bulbs from Target. The glass jar candle luminaries on the TV console are from our wedding.

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My glittery, metal snowflakes that I hang from the curtain rods might be my favorite part though. I did that last year too (you can see them a bit in this photo from last year). It is the closest thing to falling snow that we get in New Orleans!

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On one side of our French doors, I’ve been taping up our Christmas cards (we’ve gotten a few more since I took these pictures). I had visions of clipping them up onto a string with pretty gold, glittery mini clothespins, but that never happened. Maybe next year. It is strange. This is the first year that I haven’t had a Christmas break/vacation. I get a couple days off work, but that’s it. I’ve never worked right up until Christmas Day before. It is definitely different. I miss having those weeks off before and after Christmas to decorate, bake cookies, shop, drink hot cocoa, spend time with family, wrap presents and sit by the fire and crochet. There was always a peacefulness surrounding the slowing down during that time (often because we were snowed in at home). I feel like Christmas this year is so much more rushed without that down time.

In front of that door, I pulled out a basket (that usually lives behind the door with magazines in it), and made it into a mini wrapping station. It is holding all our wrapping paper, boxes, tissue paper, etc.

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Speaking of wrapping presents, my wrapping has also been simple this year. Paper from Target and simple stick-on name tags. This doily wrapping I did a few years ago would have been pretty with our simple, neutral decorations this year, but that didn’t happen. They are all just going to be ripped open anyway (and we have to transport most of them back to Illinois with us), so I’m not losing sleep over the fact that there aren’t any bows.

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Wrapping up the tour is my favorite Christmas print from Lindsay Letters (she now has it available in white/gold too, here and a canvas print here).

I only put up decorations in our living room, since that is where we spend most of our time when we are at home in the evenings. In past years, I’ve also put decorations in the foyer and some in the kitchen as well. I like the simplicity of our house this year though. Are you a whole-house decorator? Maybe one day when we have our own house and more storage for decorations I’ll decorate more rooms.

Here are a few other past Christmas posts:

Merry Christmas 2010! (the Christmas we got engaged) and Christmas Eve that year (Here is our engagement post in case you are interested)

Christmas Shortbread Cookies (from before I was Gluten-free)

Christmas Decorating (our first year in this apartment)

Doily Christmas Wrapping

Our First Rowland Family Christmas Card (last year)

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P.S. Linking up to The Nester’s 2013 Christmas Tour of Homes

Container Garden Fail

October 27, 2013

The last couple summers, I’ve grown basil and other herbs in my kitchen window box (Just do a quick search in my search box, there are several posts about it). Basil, especially, has always done really well in there. This summer however, we decided to try doing bigger container gardens outside the front of our apartment. We started last January with growing all our plants from seeds–cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, rosemary, cilantro, basil and parsley.

plants 2 brighter1

plants brighter1

We had a couple seeds that either didn’t sprout or didn’t make it, but most of our plants did really well for the several months that they were inside. Once they outgrew their tiny little seed pots, we re-planted them in 5-gallon plastic buckets. Drew drilled several holes in the bottom of each bucket for drainage.

plants first outside brighter1

Once it warmed up outside, we slowly transitioned each plant outside, letting them stay for a few days underneath the small porch roof in front of our house, so that they could slowly get used to the outside environment.

basil outside brighter1

Several weeks later, we ended up with our only crop of the season, this one tiny cucumber:

cucumber brighter1

We made sure they got enough sun and watered them every evening or two, but after being outside for a month or so, they all just sort-of stopped growing or started to shrivel up. I know the New Orleans summer sun is pretty brutal, but other people’s plants survive here? I’m not sure exactly what the problem was. The sun was too direct? Too hot on them after being inside so long? They didn’t have adequate drainage? We didn’t fertilize them?

I was traveling a lot this summer, so I can’t say I was the absolute most attentive plant mom, but they definitely weren’t neglected and Drew looked out for them while I was out of town. I just don’t know why they weren’t at least slightly more successful. I grew up in the country and my family always planted a huge vegetable garden that I would help out with, but this was my first time trying containers. I’m used to the Illinois planting season, but still new to when to plant outside in New Orleans. Maybe I should have just gotten them outside a lot sooner, so they got used to being outside before it got so hot?

This is what they looked like as of today, right before I dumped them out:

containers 3 brighter1

They obviously look bad here, I hadn’t even touched them the last several months since they stopped growing/producing anything for me. But see those green peppers in the front? They weren’t even dead, but hadn’t grown even an inch the last five months they’ve spent outside!

containers 4 brighter1

Anyone else had success with container gardens? Any fellow New Orleanian gardeners? Any advice for me?

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