Thursday, January 20, 2011

Like an Old Familiar Friend

You remember our old yellow couch, right? The one that added a bright, cheery focal point to my bland, white-walled apartments, but was just too much once we painted our living room green?

Well, after selling it on Craigslist and buying our neutral sectional (that I totally love, by the way),  I did miss that bright pop of color, just a little. So when I saw this super cute yellow graphic pillow in the Target ad for just $8, I had to pick it up.

When paired with the blue floral pillow, and a small little red pillow, I think we tie in the painting above the fireplace (full of primary colors) and pay homage to our old living room (which had a blue chair, yellow couch and red couch), but with a more grown up flair.

Old living room

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Making Small Repairs

Fixing small things around the house gives me such a sense of accomplishment. I get to enjoy the payoff of making a home improvement with very little effort. And I get to scratch things off my to-do list, which always gives me a little thrill (I'm a nerd, I know!)
Last night we tackled two teeny projects. We replaced the toilet seat in our main bath. The old one was super icky, and the paint was crackling on the underside, making it really hard to clean. A lot of times I put so much effort into trying to clean something tricky that it's usually easier just to wave the white flag, replace it and start fresh. This was one of those times. I wish I'd spent the $5 and 5 minutes it took to replace it about 5 years ago!
The other project was a little bigger, but I finally got around to repainting the kitchen trim! You know, only a year after we got new kitchen flooring! It looks so much better! I hadn't realized how grungy and chipped and just overall bad the trim looked until it got a fresh, shiny coat of Shrewin William's Marshmallow. And now that I have the little quart of trim paint, I'm going to tackle another small-but-much-needed project over the next couple weeks - touching up our kitchen cabinets. From afar, they still look great. But when you get up close you can see a few places where the paint has chipped, especially in high use areas.
I'm looking forward to refining our house as we go along with a few more of these high impact but low cost and low effort fixes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cleaning Miracle: How I Finally Got My Shower Pan Clean

This has changed my life. No, seriously. I'm pretty sure I've complained on this blog before about our horrible, impossible to clean shower. The two main problems are the super dirty shower pan that's discolored and because of it's pebbly texture, had ground in dirt that would not come clean, no matter how much we scrubbed, and the icky, moldy grout that also will not get clean.
I really want to rip it out and start fresh, but at the moment we have neither the time, nor the money. So I've made it my mission to get the thing clean so I don't feel dirtier when I come out of the shower.
I started by Googling "How to clean dirty shower pans" which led me to this wonderful article about ground in dirt and shower pans from I bought the materials and we tried it this weekend. We let the mixture sit on the floor for about 10 hours. Then I went in to scrub it off, and started shouting to Matt to come look. "It's clean! It's actually getting clean!"
It's ridiculous how excited this has made me. But seriously. After five years of living with that scummy, dirty floor, it finally looks fresh and clean. There's not a speck of dirt left! I can't believe how simple it actually was.
We tried the mixture on the walls, and were less successful. It worked about as well as other commercial cleaners have, which is to say, you can tell it's getting cleaner, but it's still not clean. So I'm off to do some more Googling and hopefully find a successful home remedy for the grout.
But the shower pan mystery has finally been solved!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Makes a House a Home: Warmth

During these super-cold winters, we all need someplace warm to snuggle up. Of course, there's more to warmth than just the physical. There's the mental, too. A place can feel really warm to me when I'm having a lot of fun, surrounded by laughter and family and friends. I also like to keep warmth in mind when I'm decorating.

I think a lot of my taste can actually border on too cold. I like things that are modern, but modern can often mean sterile. I've always liked color, though, which has helped keep my spaces warm even when they tend toward modern. I feel like as I'm getting older I really want a warmer, cozier, less modern space. So right now, my house feels a teensy bit like a hodge-podge of styles as my tastes evolve.

Our kitchen is a good example of this. When we moved in it still seemed a little cold, even though it was a deep red. I think that was because of all the white cabinets and chrome finishes, and because there are a lot of windows that didn't have window treatments. I made some toile curtains, which added texture. Then, a few years later we got the maple floors which have a touch of honey to them. They really warm up the space.

For awhile I switched out our wood table for a glass one we got at Ikea, and I grew to hate it. It took up less space, yes, but the shiny glass was so cold. And loud when things banged against it. It was too sleek and just all wrong.

So we went back to the wood table, and for Christmas I asked for table linens, to further soften and warm up the space. I think it looks really inviting, colorful and comfortable.

2011 Home Resolutions

2010 was a year of change and reflection in our condo. I started out feeling really negative as we neared the five-year mark of living here... the point at which it was always in the "plan" to sell it and buy a house. But with the market not making any real improvements, we'll be here awhile. And I kicked and screamed a bit, but then made peace. And with that peace came renewal of the spirit of our house. I started making changes, tweaking things, reimagining spaces, and ended up with a more open living room, a cute little playroom and a closet turned mudroom that I still find genius every time I walk in or out the door.

So what's on deck for 2011? My new year's resolution for my home is to keep improving it and continue to settle in and learn to love it. I want to experiment with some new things and breathe a little new energy into our house this year. I want to use every inch of space, for S to love his cozy home, for us to make great memories between these walls. For us to live a simple, happy, bright and colorful life. This year, I want to be cleaner and more organized at home too. I want to fix up some of the things that are falling into disrepair, and make sure our home is clean and well-maintained.

So what's on the 2011 list of changes? Well, we need to tackle touching up our kitchen trim. We were supposed to do that A YEAR ago when we got new flooring. It is time! Here's the official list (of course, I'll probably add and subtract as the year goes on):

-paint the shoe molding in our entry way
-paint kitchen trim
-touch up kitchen cabinets
-put in a kitchen backsplash
-wash the kitchen walls and maybe touch up the kitchen paint. Since it's red, there are some areas that are kind of streaky
-organize the laundry room
-get carpets cleaned
-maybe change up our entertainment center, or revamp it to give it a more "built in" look
-purchase and hang curtains in the living room. I want to hang them kind of high up to give the illusion of higher ceilings
-paint bifold doors in the hallway white and get new knobs (I have always wanted ones from Anthropologie. Maybe this year I'll actually buy some!)
-do something about the dark black shade in S's room. It's a necessity for sleeping, but it's kind of an eyesore, and we often don't bother to pull it up when it's not in use. I'm thinking maybe a cute design, like stars and a moon or something, might make it more appropriate for a kid's bedroom
-repair carpet in master bedroom entry (or get a cute runner to cover up the kitty damage)
-get new curtains for the master bedroom
-maybe repaint the master? I go back and forth on this all the time. I love the orange, but sometimes I hate it too
-completely gut the master bath (someday I swear we'll do this!) or come up with some kind of makeshift solution to make it more habitable
-paint all other doors
-new knobs or spraypainted knobs for all other doors
-the deck! I want to completely change our deck for next summer, and actually USE it! I'm thinking a new outdoor light fixture, maybe an outdoor rug, new furniture, some portable outdoor toys like a sandbox and a mini tabletop firepit.

That's all I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure other ideas will come to me. Another small project I want to tackle? Taking new photos for this blog! I got a new camera for Christmas and I think it'll make for much nicer photos. Hopefully I'll be tackling that soon

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Camera = New Photos!

We got a new camera for Christmas, which means I'll slowly be updating the photos on this blog. The camera we'd had for almost four years was yielding really washed out pictures as of late, so it was time for a new one. I'm planning a more substantive post for later, but in the meantime, here's a nicer, sharper photo of our finally finished playroom. You'll see Sebastian's new train table is in place and a huge hit! This room might look clean right now, but this was taken after the little guy had gone to bed. Usually there are toys everywhere!