Spring Pillows

I made winter pillows, and shared one of them here, but never shared the rest of them. They were okay in person, but they didn’t photograph well and I wasn’t all that enthused. Winter- and Christmas especially – are tough for me, decor wise, because I don’t really love to decorate with the warm, rich reds and other colors that the season envokes. But as soon as Valentine’s Day is over, I feel like I can move to a winterized version of Spring. I’m not saying that I’m busting out the flip flops and pastels – we’ve got at least two more months of snowstorms ahead of us in Colorado, but sprinkled among beautiful days – but I think that after mid-February, it’s perfectly acceptable to start adding touches of Spring.

Spring Pillows

I’ve been loving navy for the last year. Loving it. And luckily for me, navy mixes really well with my signature green. But I hadn’t yet brought any navy into our main living area – all of the bedrooms have a touch of navy, but our main floor was missing out. The kids and I were at Target on Friday getting soap and paper towels and as I passed the table linens, I saw these clearanced geometric, navy blue and white napkins. At less than $5 for 4, I threw them in my cart faster than you can say “No Spending January is over”. Then I saw these gray, yellow and khaki napkins at the same price – thought of my BFF Emily and her khaki couch and walls but recent love for gray and yellow and a conversation we recently had about how she wasn’t sure she could mix the colors and threw those in my cart to make spring pillow covers for her. Every non-skiing Coloradoan just needs a little happy in February to get them through to Spring, I think.

And one naptime later, I had six pillow covers whipped up, and just enough color to hint at sunnier days ahead.

Indigo and Green pillow covers

My mom gifted me those green, linen Pottery Barn pillow covers 4 years ago when we bought our white couch as a “Couch Warming Present”. Every time I switch out pillows, those work and they stay. I love how a good, classic basic can work for so many years depending on what you pair it with. Will I still love the geometric navy pillow covers next Spring? Probably not. But at $2 a pillow cover, I can just donate them and move on.

Indigo and Yellow pillow covers

So that’s the latest over here – just a hint of spring on the sectional with some updated pillow covers. What projects have you taken on lately?

Fall Pillows

I showed you our new Adirondack chairs and my Fall wreath a few weeks ago, but the rest of the Fall decorating bug didn’t hit me until we got back from the beach. Hard to think about Fall when you’re dreaming of warm ocean water and sunshine. But as soon as we got back on Tuesday, I was in Fall decorating mode. Starting with the pillows on our family room sectional and living room sofa. With little kids around and a bit of a minimalist eye (read: I don’t think I have a very good eye for styled vignettes, so I generally go with the minimum instead), most of my seasonal decor comes in the form of fabric and color rather than accessories. I pulled out a few Fall pillows I already had and then went on a hunt for fabric to recover my more summery pillows to tie the room and the season together.

After we dropped T off at preschool on Thursday, Nell and I hit up story and music time at the library and checked out some books (Nell time), then we went fabric shopping (Mama time). We checked out two fabric stores but nothing caught my eye – I wanted fabric to tie together my go-to green with some more fall colors like orange, red and brown, and I needed to swing by World Market to pick up a tea towel that I had my eye on for a pillow for Nell’s room makeover (in progress), so with 45 minutes before we needed to pick T up at preschool, we set off to World Market (Cost Plus? I have no idea what it actually goes buy these days). Napkins and tea towels are some of my favorite sources for pillow fabric (as long as you don’t need anything more than 20″ square – in which case I guess you could cut up a table cloth) and World Market is continuously my favorite source for those (this link is also a hilarious look back at how small Blogger photos used to be. Oh those were the days).

Turns out, Nell loves shopping for pillow “fabric” in the kitchen linens section of stores, too. I would hold up a napkin and she would vehemently shake her head no at some of them, or eagerly reach out and grab the ones she liked and refuse to let them go. I didn’t buy anything she vetoed, she has good taste. We got into a little scuffle over a tea towel I picked out for her room – there were two similar options, and I liked the trim on one better, but Nell kept saying “Uh uh” to it and was clutching onto the other one for dear life. And finally, I gave it to her. It’s going in her room, after all.  I love that 15 month old spice cake, and I can’t wait to shop with her for years to come!

So anyway, here’s what we came up with. In the living room, which has been sadly ignored since we moved in, I added a rusty orange pillow and a fun navy blue and orange (Go Broncos!) patterned pillow, and brought in one of the black and white cross hatch pillows that lived in the Family Room this summer.

I love the orange and blue fabric. A lot.

And in the family room, I made two new covers and reused a bunch of pillows I already had.

The orange and patterned pillow are new covers I made from my World Market linens finds. Cable knit pillows are from JC Penney a few years ago, the SIT pillow is from Sundance also a few years back, the green linen pillows are Pottery Barn (also ancient).

That patterned pillow (made from two dish towels I couldn’t find online, but in this pattern) is my very favorite right now. The green pulls together all my existing green together so well and pulls in Fall’s wheat, brown and orange to bring the rest of the room together.

In other family room news, we bought a new rug. I didn’t know you could love a rug until we rolled this one out in the room. As soon as it was all arranged, I looked at B and said, “This is the first thing we’ve put in this room that I haven’t thought needed something else to make it work!” And B agreed. I think part of that is because the rug was one of the final purchases to make our vision come together (a more substantial chair and ottoman in place of the slipper chair is on the someday list- when we’ve saved for and found one we love, but for the most part I view this room as pretty good to go now). It also just made the solid, dark sofa feel so much lighter and warmer at the same time, tied in the green from the curtains (I’ve had tons of emails from readers about the curtain source. The previous owners bought the fabric and had them made for the tall windows – I love them and they go perfectly with our color scheme, but unfortunately, I don’t have a source to share). This was our first “real” area rug purchase, and it’s so cozy. We lounge on it, play on it, and spend so much more time in this room now that it feels warm.

So that’s the state of our house right now, in terms of Autumn decorating. Remember when I put out pumpkins on September 22nd one year and all the reactions I got to that? I’m holding off on actual pumpkins on the porch until October 1st for the sake of my reputation in the new ‘hood.

Linking up to The Inspired Room’s Fall Nesting Party

 

Family Gallery Wall

While I’ve loved the changes we’ve made to our home – the few things we’ve purchased over the last two months and the unifying paint color, I’d held off on accessorizing – or decorating – our home. I kept telling B, “Why should we hang pictures if we’re going to have to take them all down to paint anyway?” When we finally painted the wall I had earmarked for our family gallery wall when we looked at the house, we had just ordered new family photos, and I was all, “Let’s just wait until we get those so we don’t have to do this twice”. I was apparently in a funk – maybe I was not feeling quite yet at home, here?  Since it will be months before they arrive (so hard for an instant gratification person like me – I need a local photographer who just gives you the CD of images), I decided to just work with what we had and accept that when our new photos arrive, we’ll have to change up the layout of the gallery wall, add in different frames, etc.

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Sorry about the glare – there’s not a single daylight hour that this room doesn’t have intense sunlight. Makes pictures hard.

A few weeks ago, I laid out the pictures the way I wanted them hung, and then took the kids for a bike ride while B hung them. We think totally differently about projects like hanging things – or really anything that requires measuring – so it’s best if one of us gets out of dodge with the kids while the other does their thing (for Mr. B, methodical measuring that generally ends up requiring a few re-measures and extra holes. For me, random nailing and hanging until it looks right that always requires extra holes. Basically, we get the same end result, but neither one of us can watch the other’s process without wanting to bang our heads against the wall. At least we know this about each other, right? Right.) IMG_7725

It was so nice to get back from our bike ride and have a personalized home. When you get right down to it, we hadn’t had a single personal thing in our home since we staged our house in April. It’s a very similar gallery wall layout to the one we had in our last home, and like I mentioned, it will change whenever we get our new family pictures (though I still haven’t seen an invoice, so T and Nell could be in college when that happens). But I forgot what an impact adding just a few photos has on making a house feel like a home. The moment these pictures were up, it was like B and I were catapulted out of our “Let’s just wait and see what we want to do” mindset for making changes and decorating and ready to make this place our own.

Au Natural

So, I mentioned that I wanted to warm up the family room a bit. I love our gray sectional and the Gray Owl paint we have going on, but any more gray and I was going to need a beach vacation to get warm. (Okay, I’m still going to need a beach vacation. Taking this land-locked Coloradoan to the beach at least once a year is Mr. B’s #1 philosophy for how to achieve the Happy Wife = Happy Life equation).  The thing about a move though? You just ooze money for awhile and I didn’t want to buy everything at once. Even when you’re trying to be frugal. We should have just agreed that he budget was out the window for the summer of 2013, but it was probably for the best that we kept some semblance of living within a budget while still allowing purchases here and there.

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Anyway, I wanted natural texture as the first stepping stone to warming up the Family Room. A seagrass or jute rug was my top choice, but Mr. B (while admitting he really likes the way they look) doesn’t like walking on natural rugs barefoot and doesn’t think it’s good for little kids playtime. And I have to agree with him. So, I turned my search to a natural woven coffee table. And once we had the sectional for awhile working with our ottoman that I slipcovered as a coffee table, I knew rectangular wouldn’t work, and decided round was the answer to soften the square lines of the sectional. I stalked pretty much every source for woven coffee tables and purchased one last week when it was on sale on Joss and Main.

Family Room Ottoman

It arrived in like, 4 days or something absurdly quick like that. And I loved it immediately – the brown is warm but has hints of gray to tie everything together. . It’s much smaller than our rectangular ottoman was, and took me some time to adjust too, but it’s actually perfectly scaled for the sectional. The other side of the room just needs some more furniture now. Naturally.  Thomas’s favorite books are the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, and I feel like I’m living my own version:

If you give an Emily a coffee table, Mr. B will want a rug that doesn’t wrinkle when you vacuum. And if you give Mr. B a rug, Emily will want a comfy new chair and ottoman for the other side of the room. And if you give an Emily a chair and ottoman…you get the picture. Decorating this room will be a process. Which is how I like it so that things have a collected-over-time feel. I have to remember to enjoy the process and not rush to the finish line.

And here’s what the family room looked like before I decided I should probably put things away for these pictures:

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Library books, rug samples, plastic cash registers. Real, beautiful life.

The First Floor House Tour: 2 Months In

So, we’ve been here for almost two months, which is hard to believe. And we’re slowly making progress turning our new house into our family’s home. Thomas still calls our house the new house – I wonder when it will just be our house to him. We love this house, and we love the potential as we gradually make it even more our style. The neighborhood is proving to be wonderful, too, but as always, it takes time to get to know people and settle in.

The biggest thing we’ve done since I shared a photo tour the week we moved is paint – the dining room, the family room, and the kitchen, back hall and laundry room. The rest of the house will be painted this year, too. Hopefully. We bought a sectional for the family room which moved our other furniture to the living room. I just ordered a new coffee table for the family room, and we’re on the hunt for a rug we love that plays well with the gray but also warms up the room a bit. We also purchased bar stools for the island, but that’s about all.

The Living Room:

On the day we moved in, it looked like this (I snapped this picture after I already took down one set of red curtains, which you can see the matching set of on the window on the right).

No significant changes in here other than adding our furniture and taking down the red drapes. We’ll paint this room soon, and will add photos above the sofa. I’m on the hunt for a chair to replace the big green guy eventually, too. Also, not a top priority, but over time we’ll replace the wood toned blinds with white to work with our style a little more.

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Dining Room:

On move-in day:

Now: I painted this room the second day we lived here.

We’ll replace the light fixture fairly soon in here and eventually would like to find a storage piece for where the bookshelf – a place holder – is.

Family Room:

The night we got possession:

We hired someone to paint this two-story room the week after we moved in. I’m painting the entire main part of the house – downstairs and upstairs – the same color for a light and airy, cottage feel and will add color with furniture and accessories.

With our old furniture for the first two weeks we lived here:

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And with the new sectional (look for an update next week on this room when my coffee table…and maybe a rug?…arrives):

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Kitchen:

On move-in day (pure kitchen chaos)

 

And Now: We painted the green and brown paint (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl cut to 50% strength) and put all of our crap away :). We also purchased black counter height stools for the island.

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Plans: We’ll paint the cabinets and add moulding to the island eventually. Now that the paint is lighter, the cabinets are really screaming to go white, so that might happen sooner than I originally planned. We’d like to replace all the trim in our house with thicker craftsman baseboards and window/door trim, so we’ll hold off on any woodwork projects until we decide which style we want.

Breakfast Nook:

On Move-in Day:

 

Now: We moved in our furniture, painted this room (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl cut to 50% just like the rest of this house will be eventually), and took down the heavy brown curtains and sheers and replaced them with simple white panels.

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The Office:

On Move-in Day:

Now: Not much has changed except a lot of stuff has been added – the office is always a challenge for me, and generally a last priority. Someday we’ll make sense of this room, but for now it works for me to do a little work and the kids have a little play area.

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Powder Bath: Nothing has changed, but I can’t wait to take down that valance and paint:

Laundry Room (which I never shared originally and don’t have a move-in picture of, but it was a dark brown paint color):

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Back Hallway: I have plans to add rows of hooks here for bags, keys and backpacks, but for now we just painted it.

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 So that’s our first floor just about two months into living here. We haven’t really done a ton, but paint makes a world of difference. I’ll share the upstairs (where we’ve done nothing but place furniture since I last showed you the upstairs) next week. My goal is to get the first floor paint done by September and start on the kids’ bedrooms this Fall.

 

Family Room Sectional: Ikea Ektorp Sectional

You all convinced me on the merits of a sectional within about 30 seconds of my asking for feedback, so thank you thank you! I had a pretty good idea in my head of what I wanted whether we went sectional or two couches, and that was slipcovers (I am doing everything in my power to transform this 2001 suburban home into a craftsman style cottage inside and out), gray fabric (because we’d be keeping the white slipcovered couch in the nearby living room and I wanted some contrast), and square arms (to contrast our IKEA Ektorp sofa’s rolled arms in the afore mentioned living room).

And then B and I started sectional shopping. I decided originally that we were grown-ups now and would buy a “grown-up” – high quality and expensive – sectional. But sofa shopping is so personal – what’s comfortable to one person is not necessarily comfortable to someone else. And it turned out that all of my ideas for my “grown-up” sectional didn’t work in reality. I loved the idea of the Crate and Barrel Lounge, but when we went to sit on it, we discovered it was too deep for practical every day use and comfort in our opinions. Then we hopped over to Pottery Barn where I fell head over heels in love with the square arm PB Comfort sectional in a silver taupe (light gray). We were both sold – decided we’d save our pennies and buy it when we could afford it. I searched around for real life pictures and reviews and even found one on Craigslist in a different color and came to one conclusion: this sofa does not hold up. It looks droopy and sloppy in a few months. And at the price we were looking at paying for that sofa, I wasn’t going there.

We looked at a few big furniture stores near us and didn’t love the options – mostly microfiber, which I hear is wonderful, but not the look I wanted. So we came back to IKEA. I was really hoping we’d like the Karlstad sectional so we could get the square arms we wanted, but B and I both vetoed it within 30 seconds of sitting down. So, I started considering an Ektorp sectional. And in the end, that’s the route we went. So I compromised on my arm style, but now that it’s in our house, the two couches look so different, I don’t even notice.

At $999, the Ektorp sectional just makes sense for our family right now. In 7 years, when our kids are less spilly, we might be able to cough up big bucks for a sofa, but right now, it just doesn’t seem reasonable. We want people to be comfortable in our home, we don’t want to be worrying about spills and shoes on the furniture. Casco’s already found his favorite cushion. Thomas likes to set his race track up using the sofa back as a ramp. Nell scoots around on it. We’re all very happy with our choice. And, since the sectional is from IKEA, I’ll do my best to find everything else for this room elsewhere to keep our home from screaming “IKEA showroom wannabe” when you walk through the front door.

I chose the Svanby Gray cover – I was worried it would be too dark but it’s actually much lighter than the Karlstad Gray fabric option, which is what I’d assumed the Ektorp came in, too. It’s technically not machine washable, but I intend to give it a go when it needs to be cleaned. I’ve loved our Ektorp sofa and the sectional is no different – comfortable, appropriately sized for my 5’6 frame but long enough for Mr. B’s 6’1 frame. We love snuggling on the couch. And as with our Ektorp sofa, we love that we can replace the slipcover fairly inexpensively if this one gets ruined or we want a different look.

My one complaint: I wish the Ektorp sectional was more customizable like the Karlstad. I think this used to be an option, but it’s now just the 2×2 – 2 seats, a corner, then 2 seats. In our room, we could really use one extra seat going across the back of the family room. We’ll make it work with accent chairs on the other side, so it’s not a big deal, but if there had been an extra chair add-on or a chaise add-on, it would have been perfect.

Eventual next steps for this room will include figuring out the seating across from the sectional – not a big heavy piece, but one or two airy accent chairs, and replacing the hand-me-down rug with something new. Eventually I’d like a rustic coffee table, but for now, our DIY slipcovered storage ottoman works great.

Let’s Talk About: Sectionals

Our new house has a few extra rooms than our current house. It’s not gigantic by any means, but has an extra living space on the main floor, a finished basement, and an extra bedroom on the second floor. Our current living room furniture will most likely live in the “formal” {that will not be formal, it will be casual and comfortable and a place people want to be} living room at the new house, and we will buy new furniture for the family room. This room is big, but not gigantic, so scale’s going to be important. We need more seating for this room, but we don’t want too much furniture or too oversized furniture.

 

The current owners have a great looking microfiber sectional. It’s big but clean lined and it fits well in the space. My original inkling was to go the sectional route in this room. I love the idea of a sectional for cuddling as family to read books. I can see the boys lounging to watch golf or football on a sectional – I love the idea of a sectional.

 The Pottery Barn Comfort Square sectional I’d buy in a heartbeat if the reviews and “used” pictures I’d seen weren’t scary.

But in reality? Does a sectional make the most sense. Does anyone ever sit in the corner seat? Last summer I read in BHG a quote from a homeowner about how she chooses two matching sofas over a sectional because it gives you the look of a sectional but allows you to rearrange furniture and gives room for an end table for people to put drinks down. I liked that line of thinking.

Via Emily McKevitt on Pinterest

So what say you? Are you a sectional or sofa person? Pros and cons to either? I’d also love to hear any sectional or sofa recommendations.