Functional & Fun, Work & Play

The hardest working room in our house is our playroom/office. We use this space for pretty much everything, including (but not limited to) building Lego, catching up on emails, filming music videos, managing Amazon Subscribe & Save orders, “cooking” pretend food, doing puzzles, drying laundry, practicing yoga, and reading. After painting over the terrible yellow walls (see before pic below), our main design objective was to create separate areas for work and play.

Continue reading

Suburban Oasis

IMG_0421

I’m pretty obsessed with my backyard. After 10 years of apartment living, I didn’t realize how much I missed having a private outside space. Additionally, having a fenced in yard is such a luxury with a dog; now we can just open the sliding the door instead of having to walk him first thing in the morning and right before bed. Finally, at the end of the day, it’s the perfect place to escape with a crossword puzzle and a glass of wine (yes – I’m an old lady).  Continue reading

Curb Appeal Upgrade

IMG_2510

Given that we don’t spend a lot of time in our front yard, it was not a huge priority on our upgrade list when we first moved into our house. However, as we made more improvements inside, we became more bothered by the shabby exterior; we felt like it gave the impression that we didn’t care about our house (obvious lie)! We finally decided to move on enhancing our curb appeal because, after three harsh New England winters, our wooden steps were literally about to fall off our house.

We priced out several different options: pressure treated wood, composite wood (Trex), Polyurethane (Frypon), and stonework. From the start, we were leaning away from natural wood; we assumed (correctly) that this would be the cheapest option but would require upkeep (painting) and eventually it would have to be replaced again. We also assumed that composite wood or a synthetic material would be a reasonable middle price-point for us, and that masonry/stonework would be out of reach. To our surprise, the quote for the Frypon porch was nearly $20,000 (almost as much as our kitchen renovation), whereas the stonework was about half that amount. Of course, there was quite a bit of variability in the estimates from the two masons we contacted. We chose Atlantic Masonry and we highly recommend them.

Although it took a couple weeks for them to get started, these guys were here from 7am to 5pm over the course of a week. To best match the foundation of our house, along with the retaining wall, we went with Boston Blend for the stone veneer on our stairs. Granite was used for the steps and we chose complimentary paving stones from Genest. The one issue with the construction process was that Atlantic Masonry, while able to provide the wrought iron railing, could not help us with porch columns. Installing the columns was such a small job, we couldn’t really find a contractor to do it for us. So, Jason did it himself (with my help and close supervision, of course). We used our car jack (for changing a tire) to raise up the porch dormer that was being supported by one of the old wooden columns; then we slid the new, fiberglass ones in place. I’m making it sound easy, but it was really challenging  – I almost lost a finger (no, Jason, I’m not being dramatic).

Another issue with the exterior of our house is that our gray siding is really faded. Instead of choosing to replace all the siding, we decided to paint our shutters a bright coral and to paint our doors a glossy black. For a fleeting moment, we contemplated doing this work ourselves and then promptly hired a handyman. To complete the look, Jason replaced our ancient screen door with a new Anderson storm door; they advertise easy installation in as little as 45-minutes and I’m here to tell you that this time estimate is a complete lie. Finally, we got some sweet new shrubs and a flagpole.

Half-Bath Renovation

IMG_4611One of the biggest quality of life upgrades associated with our new home is having two bathrooms. This may have led us to overlook our half bath’s less charming features when we were making our offer. Specifically, the sconce above the mirror was hanging down by its wiring, the sink drain vent pipe was routed through the medicine cabinet (and covered in duct tape!?), and our terra cotta tiles weren’t terra cotta at all – the burnt orange finish was printed on them such that you could see the little pixels when looking closely. We also learned, during our first winter, that the bathroom was not insulated – at all (hello frozen pipes). ISlqm5r0osbzeb1000000000

Continue reading

Fiona’s Famous Nursery

IMG_4039

Having a baby means making lots of important decisions – whether to breastfeed her, sleep-train her, sign her up for newborn piano lessons, and the list goes on. Perhaps the most fraught for us was choosing on a design concept for our nursery (only kinda kidding). After multiple trips to Home Depot’s paint department and countless pins to our private “baby” Pinterest board, we settled on beige paint with coral, mint, and navy hot air ballon accents.

While we were not so patiently waiting for Fiona’s arrival, it was useful to channel our energy into preparing for her. If combing Etsy for coral, green and navy accents was an Olympic event, I’d have a gold medal. We love her custom quit from Little Bear Quilt shop, her custom art work from Invited by Audrina, and her coral changing table pad from Whimsical and Witty.IMG_4038

It was also so much fun to make our own contributions to Fiona’s space. I dusted off my cross-stitch skills and found a great pattern online. I like the look of keeping the project in the hoop and jazzed it up a bit by hot gluing pom poms around the edge. Jason found a company (spoon flower) that prints designs onto fabric and made a beautiful banner in Fiona’s color scheme. Note that the house in the bottom of the banner is our hIMG_4040ouse!!

IMG_4041

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are also particularly proud of her hot air balloon mobile. We attached round party poufs (purchased on Amazon) cut in the shape of balloons to little wooden houses (purchased at Michaels). Jason painted the houses in our theme colors and I hot glued the flowers and flags (cut from origami paper) to jazz the balloons up a bit. We used fishing line to attach the hot air balloon to the ceiling so it looks like they’re floating.

IMG_4033

Finally, to encourage our little reader, Jason constructed a book trough to store her reading material! This was constructed with a few pieces for wood from home depot and loaded up with wonderful books that were given to Fiona at our baby shower.

IMG_4054

After all this hard work, we were so excited to be featured on Apartment Therapy! We have used that blog for inspiration in all of our decorating, so it was amazing to be featured on the site ourselves. We saw Fiona’s room up on the blog the day we left for the hospital – and two loooong days later she was born.

***update July 22, 2018: This room is the first of many hand-me-downs for little sister, Skylar, who recently moved in.

Now We’re Cooking with Gas: Kitchen Remodel

11071548_957469925624_8345460659692777647_n (1)

The kitchen in our new home won the award for “worst room,” though our downstairs bathroom definitely gave it a run for its money. Sure, it gives off a cute, cottage vibe in the professional real estate photos (see below), but the microwave was not functioning, the stove was electric, and the fridge continued to give off an odor that could only be described as “rotting compost” no matter how many times we scrubbed it. The kitchen’s worst offense, though, was its lack of dishwasher. Also, it was yellow.

IShfvhsq4p8oeb1000000000

Continue reading

Our Beautiful, Uncomfortable Living Room

One of the first goals in our new house was to create a beautiful, inviting living space for relaxing after work. We largely succeeded in designing a room that comfortably seats no more than two people.  This was perfect for newlyweds, but add two kids (plus visiting grandparents and uncles) and we’re all lined up stiffly on the couch trying not to touch elbows or dragging in hard metal dining chairs from the next room. So, although we love how our living room looks, it’s no longer meeting our needs. In the post that follows, I’ll be describing the elements of this room as they currently are, but we’ll definitely  be updating again soon!10854204_916985741254_3575514399292671596_o

Continue reading

Homeowners!

We bought a house… house before pic….. almost four years ago (yes, it’s been awhile since I posted here). While the house was mostly structurally sound, there were many cosmetic upgrades we wanted to execute – like immediately. As we were walking up to the front door for the first time as homeowners, we met one of our new neighbors who dispensed the following advice: “You don’t have to do it all at once.” Maybe the paint cans in our hands gave us away. We promptly ignored her suggestion and got to work. Click below for “before” pictures of our house (courtesy of Zillow), along with a really awesome photos of our front yard getting dug up for new sewer pipes on Christmas Eve (hey – I said the place was mostly structurally sound). Continue reading

DIY Industrial-Style Bookshelf

IMG_1534After moving to a larger space, my husband and I found ourselves in the market for a new shelf to house the books that had been boxed up for the past two years. Unfortunately, (as usual) our tastes exceeded our budget. We were drawn to industrial-style shelves made of metal and reclaimed wood. Anthropologie’s version (pictured below, left) retails for $998 amd West Elm’s version (pictured below, right) goes for a whopping $2960. We’ve made a commitment to only buy furniture that we absolutely love and since we couldn’t find anything that compared in our price range, we decided to DIY it!

shelves

Continue reading