Styling an Entryway Bench

We’ve been in our home for almost two years now, which is almost impossible to believe! Our living room is the first room you see when you walk through the door, and we’ve played around with a lot of different arrangements for it, but I think we’ve finally found a system that works for us. The room is part entryway – that’s just inevitable – but that doesn’t mean that it has to look like a dumping ground! I added a sweet, cottage bench from Sauder furniture to the living room, styled it, and have an awesome entryway that doubles as extra seating at a party. Sauder invited me to be a part of their “Put Together” Design Challenge and Lookbook, and I jumped at the chance to style a piece of furniture to make it uniquely me!

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DIY Boxwood Wreath

Last week while the kiddos were napping, I whipped up a wreath for Spring for our front door. I’d been on the hunt for a great wreath that would take me from St. Patrick’s Day to Fall. I had a cute Valentine’s Wreath on the door for Valentine’s, but I really don’t want to store a wreath or door hanger for every holiday. So I was on the hunt for a season-less wreath – specifically boxwood that didn’t cost an arm and a leg – but couldn’t find one. Then, I stumbled across this tutorial on Pinterest for a 15 minute, $15 boxwood lookalike wreath and decided I could do it.

DIY Boxwood Wreath Our Hobby Lobby just moved and the day I went to the new store they had no grapevine wreath forms and no greenery out, so I went to Michael’s where I spent $30 instead of the tutorial’s $15, but it was a day when sometimes just being done with errands is worth an extra $15. And I did come away with actual faux Boxwood greenery instead of a lookalike, which Hobby Lobby doesn’t carry, so I was happy. The process was simple (and detailed in the tutorial linked above), but basically you stretch out the boxwood garland and use floral wire to wire it to the wreath form every few inches. I followed her easy bow tutorial, too, and in 15 minutes I had a wreath that will last me through the summer.

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I love the greenery it adds to our navy blue door. We’re embarking on a big landscaping overhaul this Spring – we have the plans and will be planting this month or next, weather depending. But, I’m excited to add some greenery and life to the outside of our house – our exterior paint and lighting upgrades (the exact lights Joanna Gaines used on a house a couple weeks ago on Fixer Upper – I was patting myself on the back for picking them out on my own a full year before that episode aired) last Spring got us started in the right direction, and now it’s time to amp up our little cottage’s curb appeal even more. Can’t wait to see how our front yard takes shape this Spring and Summer!

A Gallery Display in Thomas’s Room

A year ago, I was scrambling to get Thomas and Nell’s rooms “finished” after moving in before Peter’s arrival. We worked with what we had, not wanting to spend a ton with a new baby on the way. So, a year has gone by, and there are a few things that just weren’t working in the kids rooms. So, I’m taking it one room at a time, getting things in working order, adding finishing touches and just giving the rooms a little new life for Spring. Thomas’s room is the first up. I’m excited to share pictures with you soon of his space soon, but we rearranged his furniture last week, I ordered him new sheets for his bed, am on the hunt for a solution for his windows, and am now focusing on getting something up on the walls.

 

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Our House at Christmas: 2014

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve had a lot of fun getting our house ready for Christmas this year. Last year was moving year. The tree and ornaments and stockings came out of storage, and I did put garland on the mantle, but that was about it. I didn’t have a feel for the house yet without buying all new things – and going out and buying all new isn’t really my budget-minded style. Last year our Christmas decor splurge was exterior lights that worked with our new roofline. This year, we were going to buy a new tree, but as Thanksgiving rolled around and neither B nor I had actively searched for a good fake tree (we both love real trees but we’re both allergic to pine trees, so we go fake for the sake of not having hives and itchy eyes all season long), we laughed when I said, “We’re not getting a new tree this year, are we?” and B said, “I’m pretty sure the kids are going to to want to put the tree up this weekend, so probably not, unless you want to try a real tree? We SHOULD look for one after Christmas and get a deal…but…” and I finished his sentence, “…but we won’t, because after Christmas we the last thing we want to do is spend more money. Especially on stuff we can’t use for another year.” And B said, “Exactly.”  Our tree has been around for 7 years, and we bought it on clearance as a floor model back then. It has lots of holes in it, and it’s a little bit short, and the top branch doesn’t hold a tree topper straight. But the kids don’t care. And someday we’ll replace it, but for now, we’ll just make it work.

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Back in 2007, I had a cute tree skirt made with our soon-to-be last name that matched our stockings. It was cranberry red. If you’re just joining us, I discovered a lot about myself after we bought our first house. The number one thing I discovered? I love red in other peoples homes, it feels homey and cozy and warm. But it isn’t me. I like cool tones. So I felt like our stockings and tree skirt always pigeon holed me into sticking to dark red and green Christmas colors. And I didn’t love it. I have been eying a galvanized bucket for a tree stand for three years – ever since I saw one on Terrain’s website in 2012. Last year I found one and they all sold out before I placed my order, so when I saw it back in stock this year, I ordered it immediately. And it has been sitting in our Dining Room since September 15th. When we pulled the tree out of the crawl space last Saturday, I was so glad I’d bought the tree collar. It’s way more us.

Rustic Modern Christmas

I have always loved the look of garland on the stairs, and now we live in a house that was made for Christmas garland. And that makes me happy. I love that from our kitchen table, you can see lights in every room – the kitchen, the family room, the living room, the upstairs hallway. We still have the traditional red and green stockings. I was going to buy us all new white ones (I always said when our family was complete, I’d buy all new stockings), but the practical side of me intervened. Also, Thomas told me he loves his stocking. So they stayed for this year.

Family Room

In the spirit of updating what we have without spending much, I focused on the finishing touches. I’ve also always had red and green and gold plaid ribbon on our tree and outdoor wreaths because it’s what my mom always put on her tree and wreaths. And it works for Caroline, but I realized very quickly that while my mom and I have similar overall taste, we have different styles. Does that make sense? So, finally this year, I bought some burlap ribbon. Burlap and galvanized metal. It’s beginning to look a lot like a B and Emily Christmas. About time. :)

Christmas Decor 2014 There are other little things here and there: our advent wreath in the kitchen that the kids and I made at church one snowy Tuesday night while B was traveling, and our activity Advent calendar that our friends gave us a few years ago.  Our Little People Nativity sits on the console table under our gallery wall, but is usually strewn about the family room floor. And that’s our house at Christmas this year.

One Bookshelf Three Ways

You might remember back in September when I shared our new living room bookshelf with you. The process of ordering the Sauder Barrister Lane bookcase and putting it together was a breeze. We love this bookshelf and I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received on both the piece of furniture and the placement of it in our living room.

But, if you’ve been around for any length of time, you probably know that I just can’t leave well enough alone. I love to rearrange furniture (our family room is currently a mess as I figure out another furniture layout for our sectional…), and this bookshelf was no exception. One Bookcase 3 Ways

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One Year Later House Tour: Breakfast Nook and Dresser as Dining Buffet

It’s kitchen season over here. 3 years ago at this time, I was just getting started on transforming our old builder grade kitchen into my dream kitchen (painted cabinets, Silestone Marengo countertops, DIY Subway Tile backsplash). And as soon as we wrap up Thomas’s birthday, I’m doing the same at our new house. Well, I’m starting on cabinet prep this week. I think B and I would both like to replace the countertops and we’d really love to install a single basin sink like we did at our last house, but our granite counters here, while not my favorite material (I’m a Quartz over granite girl any day), are fine so we’re going to keep them for the foreseeable future. But before we get to the kitchen redo, let’s talk about the breakfast nook.

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Since we moved in, I’ve been on the hunt for an old dresser to use as a buffet and storage in the bay window of our breakfast nook. I’ve hunted Craigslist, thrift stores, antique stores and garage sales for a year with no luck. We’ve had an ektorp bookcase we used in the basement at our old house in the bay window for the last six months as a place holder (mostly because once we moved it out of our dining room, we didn’t have another place for it and the bay window was open). And then, just last weekend, I was out for a run with Thomas (on his bike) and I spotted a dresser in a garage sale two blocks from our house that I thought would be perfect for my vision. It wasn’t old, but it had drawers and doors like I’d hoped and I loved the bead board character of it. And it was chippy enough thanks to living in a house with 3 kids for several few years to pass as older. And I figure after it lives in my house with 3 kids for many, it will look even chippier. It had a broken leg, which I knew we could fix, so it was $15. Done and dusted. Thomas and I sprinted home and sent B with my car to load it in – he was questioning my vision for sure, but he will be the first to tell you that he’s learned over the years to just let me work with my visions because they usually work out, and when they don’t, I figure something out.

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My instinct was to paint the dresser a bright color, but since it was already chippy white, I decided to move it into the kitchen and see how I felt about the white. And I’m really liking it – it’s easy on the eye and allows other colors to pop off of it – like the happy birthday banner that’s currently living on it because it’s birthday season here at imperfect.

 

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The buffet is currently acting as my coffee station – I couldn’t stand having the Keurig taking up my precious counter space, so I moved it to the buffet and it’s working perfectly. I held out on the Keurig for so long due to the cost of the pods and the fact that they aren’t recyclable, but my parents gave me this ‘lil guy for Christmas last year, and with a reusable, refillable cup, it’s super convenient. My reusuable Keurig cup and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee lives in the top drawer so everything’s close at hand. And post Whole30, I enjoy my coffee black, so I grab it straight from the Keurig and head straight to the back patio in the mornings before the kids are up to breathe in the cool morning air and have some me-time.

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I love how the breakfast nook is coming together. The DIY painted industrial pendant plays nicely with the wood and metal tones on the table and chairs, and with the buffet being white, it doesn’t compete for attention. I like an element of surprise in every room – whether it’s an antique piece in an otherwise new furniture room, or a pop of color amongst my normal white and gray and wood tones, I think having something that’s us but not expected helps to inject our personalities into each room, and makes the difference, for our family at least, between a house and our home.

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1 Year Later House Tour: Gallery Wall

In our house, there’s a long hallway at the back of the house – it takes you from the powder room, by the office on your right and living room on your left, through the family room and into the kitchen. And it’s the perfect place for a gallery wall.

I love our family gallery wall.  There are times when I’m tempted to make it more eclectic -  mix it up and add some barn board frames and a few funky elements. And someday I might. But for now, it makes a big statement, and the black frames help ground it for me.

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The gallery wall hasn’t changed much since we put it up – I’ve mixed in some different pictures but kept the layout the same. I try to keep our family wall current, while also representing our family at different phases of our lives. The pictures move in and out of the frames a lot.

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Our console table houses a drop basket for keys and wallets and sunglasses, a Christmas cactus that was grown from a clipping of my great-Grandmother’s Christmas cactus, library books (just because I can keep them all together there) and a big basket for snuggly blankets.

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It’s not a fancy, staged vignette, but it’s our real life, and it works for our family.

1 Year Later House Tour: Living Room

We’ve been in our house for a whole year. It’s flown by but at the same time SO much has happened here that it feels like home. I mentioned on Instagram this week that I thought we’d have done a lot more (ahem…paint those darn oak cabinets!) by the 1 year mark, but that we were kind of assuming that it would take a few months after I weaned Nell to get pregnant with #3 and we’d have a 3rd June birthday. But, turns out I didn’t need to wean Nell at all to get pregnant with #3 (I don’t think I’ve ever shared the story of the crazy week we found out Peter was on his way…I’ll do that someday. It’s a good tale.), so the 2013 summer of cabinet painting and neutralizing rooms with paint I had planned got put on the back-burner. Happily!

But, shortly after Peter was born, my mom was over one day and we decided to paint the Living Room. Well, one of us painted while the other bounced a colicky and refluxy Peter up and down for hours on end. One would wonder why we didn’t just wait on that. It was the second to last room to get painted in our house, but the first one you see when you walk through the door. Let’s take a look. Oh, but first, let me apologize for taking pictures at night. I have 3 children under the age of 4…the only time the house is the least bit tidy is at night when they are all tucked away sleeping soundly in their beds.

Here’s the view as you walk into our house. You walk into a long hallway that’s basically the living room on your right and our dining room is to your left. A formal living room was on my must-have list when we were searching for houses. At our old house, there was one snowy Easter when no one left because they all wanted to watch the Master’s and my mom and I ended up upstairs cleaning my bathrooms because the downstairs was totally monopolized by people intently watching golf, and there was no other place to escape to for chat. So a living room and a family room were on my must-have list. But I swore we wouldn’t treat it like a formal room that no one ever uses. We use this room daily.

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Standing at the stairs and looking back to the front of the house:

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I painted the back of my front door black a couple weeks ago. As I was standing in line to buy the paint, I told myself, “This is a terrible idea.” It was messy, and getting it to look brush stroke free was hard. And it still needs to be sanded and given a finishing coat if it’s going to stay – but I’m undecided. B came home and I was covered in black paint. He asked what I was painting and I kind of grimaced. I showed him the door, and he said, “What color was it before?” So I decided I didn’t need to immediately paint it white again, I have some time to think about it. All of our trim needs to be repainted, too. We’ll get there. Someday.

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A few months ago, we moved the slipcovered ottoman back downstairs from our bedroom. We’d had the kids play table serving as the coffee table, but I was over that look, and in a rearranging frenzy one day, I decided to kick the beloved big green chair to the play room and keep this room airy and light. And bring back my signature green ottoman. It made the space feel way more “us”:

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I moved the play table to the far wall. The play table is necessary.   We color there. We do preschool homework there (oh yes…preschool homework). We play restaurant there. Nell occasionally dances on the table there. Thomas frequently tells Nell that tables are not for dancing on there. It’s a circus, my friends. Oh, and I don’t worry at all about the compartments underneath being neat. Well, for awhile I tried, but then I decided it was a waste of time.

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My least favorite thing about our house has become one of my favorites. This arched cutout is not my thing. I like architectural features that mean something – not weird cutouts just for the sake of doing something different. But a lot of houses in our area have them. My hilarious sister-in-law calls them “Crap Catchers” – and that’s 100% what this ledge/cutout functions as. A crap catcher. From the moment we moved in, I’d been on the hunt for a giant old window to hang in this ridiculous space. I had to go into college rival enemy territory (Fort Collins) to find one, but find it I did. I gave it a quick coat of white paint with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, and then it sat in our living room for months before I finally coerced B to hang it right after Christmas. And I love it.

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My old window is fun – I like that it adds history to an otherwise meh architectural feature. Whose history? No clue…but it had a history in a house in a town that B and I will not pay for college educations in. Unless the kids want to be veterinarians. Then we’ll discuss a Colorado State education. I digress. I will say, the crap catcher is fun to decorate for holidays – and my window just adds to the fun. I love to hang happy garland from it. This garland was put up to celebrate B finishing his Master’s degrees but staying up to celebrate summer and the two kids birthdays that are quickly approaching, and you better believe I’ve got something patriotic in mind as soon as the June birthdays are over. I can’t wait to deck that window out at Christmas. But, lest you think that hanging a window prevented me from using this as a crap catcher, think again. It loves to hold outlet covers when I’m painting (and paint cans and water bottles and a host of other crap). And Thomas’s lego creations. And I frequently lose my sunglasses and phone to the crap catcher.

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So, that’s our living room as it stands today. I’d love to switch out the curtains and replace the leaning bookshelf with something more in line with our “urban cottage” vibe, and that will all happen in good time. But for now, it’s a fun, casual space. Not the least bit formal. And it’s my favorite place to hang with Peter in the early morning  with the windows open, just having coffee talk with my baby boy.

Master Bedroom: New Bedding and Curtains

How’s that for a creative post title? Killing it. We’re coming up on our 1 year anniversary of living in this house, and so I’m trying to get progress photos taken in every room…so get ready for small updates on the house  and a house tour of sorts over the next few weeks.

When we moved into our house last June, the master bedroom had yellowed-by-the-sun faux wood blinds, white frilly sheers and plastic hardware including curtain tiebacks. Works for some styles, but not mine. We took the curtains down immediately and eventually removed the hardware before we had the room painted last November. The blinds are still up there while I decide what I want in their place (I’m leaning towards bamboo for the texture).

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For my birthday, I asked for new sheets for our bed and new shams. I loved the shams, and was getting tired of the quilt (still love it, but like the option to change it up), so when the duvet cover that matched the shams went on sale, I waited for a free shipping day and ordered it. I also bought long navy blue curtain panels (at IKEA) and new hardware and B hung those a few weeks ago…and our master bedroom changed dramatically with those two changes. I also bought some new, graphic lampshades for our existing lamps and moved the white drum shades to my green living room lamps that were in need of new shades. Just little, pretty inexpensive overall, tweaks. I have an evolving vision for this room – eventually I’d like to go away from our matching dresser and bedside tables. They were some of the first things we purchased for our last home before we really had a keen sense of what our style is – and it turns out our style is a little more eclectic than matched furniture sets – I’ve always called our style “Urban Cottage” and I think that’s still on the money. And that boxspring needs a tailored bedskirt on it as opposed to a cheap sheet, but we’ll get there.

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So that’s where we are for now. I’m still hunting for a navy accent pillow to anchor the bed and the bedskirt, and the furniture is absolutely fine so if we find something more our style, great, if not, oh well. It will continue to evolve, but that’s where our bedroom stands almost one year in. Here’s a peak at it on move-in day.

Peter’s Nursery: Gray, Blue and Rugby Stripes

You all saw the blank slate nursery that was ready for #3 to be born so we could personalize it based on the baby and their personality. I had no real clue what to do with the room if Peter was a girl, though I’m sure I would have figured it out, but I was ready to run with a boy nursery plan when Peter was born. It’s mostly done now…I have a few projects to finish up, but I figured I’d share it now and share updates later.

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Peter’s nursery is very similar in shape to the nursery at our last house (here as a nursery for Thomas, here as a nursery for Nell), it’s just about 21 square feet bigger and has a wall in front of you when you enter, so we kept the furniture layout pretty similar because we knew it worked. Crib on the far wall, changing table on the opposite wall, chair floating in front of the big window.

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The bookcases we bought to flank the crib in Thomas’s nursery are some of my favorite things in the house. I adore them. But I wasn’t feeling the same layout for them, so I chose to just install one on the wall as you walk into the room. I’m planning to add a giant P for Peter above it soon, but taking three kids to Hobby Lobby is torture. If they don’t have a cart that fits at least a car seat and a toddler, I’m not going there anytime soon. That’s why Costco and I are so close these days. And you guys know I’m frugal – if I can make it myself, why pay major markup for something? But I’m tempted to just order the giant Pottery Barn P already painted navy blue and call it a day…sometimes $60 is worth your sanity, right? I digress.

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Peter’s crib is the same one that Thomas slept in. Thomas likes to tell Peter that a few times a day. “Your crib used to be my crib Peter. It was never Nell’s crib.” Siblings, man. Pete got his own crib sheets though. 3rd baby has to have a few things that are just theirs.

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We moved the IKEA Jenny Lund chair from Nell’s room to Peter’s room before his arrival, but I bought the pouf for an ottoman the week after he was born when it was on sale at Target, and I’m smitten with it. My mom made Peter a gray and white strip quilt just as she did for Tom and Nell.

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My absolute favorite piece of furniture I own is that $30 vintage dresser I found on Craigslist when I was pregnant with Thomas. It’s been the perfect changing table for all three of our kiddos, and I always remember putting Casco in my little red bug and racing to South Denver to pick it up after work one day. I’ve realized that I like at least one piece of old furniture in every room. Not beautiful, ornate antiques…I’m not fancy enough for that. Farmhouse style, simple, sturdy antiques. That dresser will always have a place in any home I live in, hear me now. I’m looking for a small scale, industrial-esque shelving unit to go above the dresser. I know exactly what it looks like in my head, just haven’t been able to find it in reality yet.

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The whale changing pad was just fun, so I bought it. It’s from the same collection of sheets that he has and was his baby gift from my parents, but I like that they’re not matchy-matchy…just coordinated.

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And although I love everything in the room, I think the rugby stripe curtains make it. Caroline and I made them when Peter was one week old. Because we had nothing better to do with our time. We cut a king size duvet in half and hemmed the edges. Peter’s window has a shade that pulls down that darkens the room, so we didn’t bother blackout lining the curtains, but I can always add blackout liner later if needed.

So that’s Peter’s nursery. It’s come along way from the bright blue make-shift guest room it was when we moved into the house 11 months ago.

Sources:

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl color matched in Behr paint

Bookshelves: Target circa 2010 (but knock-offs of these Pottery Barn shelves that are still available)

Crib: JCPenney 4 years ago

Sheets and Changing Pad Cover: Land of Nod

Crib Skirt: Pottery Barn Kids, no longer available

Chair: IKEA Jenny Lund

Ottoman: Target

Rugby Stripe Curtains: DIY from king size duvet cover (available at Target)