Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reference Repurposed - Decor

In my parents' basement is an old globe on a stand. My brother (Adi) and I loved it when we were younger. We would spin it around with a finger skimming the surface and when it stopped, whatever city or country (or ocean) it was on was our next fantasy destination, or research project. Globes are just plain cool anyway. HOWEVER... the world and borders are constantly changing, and, thus, our childhood travel guide is now sadly outdated. This summer, when Dave and I were in Amherst for our last visit, Adi came home and one night we put a serious dent in sorting and sifting through the collected toys, puzzles, costumes, etc. that piled up in the basement over the years. Some exciting rediscoveries were made, some memories were found to be tainted with broken or missing pieces, and lots of piles of garbage and donation were made. Much progress was made on clearing space and creating better organization. The globe was there, too, and it stayed. Though Adi and I insisted that the fact that it still has the USSR and other no-longer-existing nations in place makes it not such a useful reference tool, but my dad wouldn't budge. This only made us laugh at the idea of future generations of Hellers or Schwabs failing geography tests and map projects because they used the globe for context. Until today.

(from Design*Sponge)
This is so cool! If Adi and Dad agree, I'd love to call dibs on the globe and chalkboard paint it for display, tracking where those we love are in the world at any given time...

Click here for the complete post (including instructions) on Design*Sponge.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Sunday morning, the sky and clouds were incredible, with the light hitting the lake in just the most beautiful way, and I was so happy to have this adventure of a home from which to see it:


20th Project - First Installment

I have had this idea about a "gallery" wall - to utilize some piece of wall space that doesn't naturally lend itself to logical accessorizing, due to its size or angle, in a cool way. Design*Sponge sparked this idea for me over the summer, and when we bought the condo, I thought, I'll figure out some way to make that happen. Sure enough, we have a narrow piece of wall jutting just slightly into the living/dining area. It is the outside of the closet that contains our heater. I've decided to slowly gather the pieces that might someday cover it in gallery style. Since the view is the constant reminder of the brilliance of this move, I decided I'd try to capture it in photograph, twice a day, one day each month for a year, tracking the seasons and the cycle of this first year in our first home. I chose the 20th of the month, because September 20th was our first date, and I thought it would be sweet to document that date by some other means than a Thai food dinner. So, here's what our beach looked like from our bedroom, in the morning, and at last light, on September 20, 2010:


Getting Closer to the Kitchen Renovation

If we are friends on Facebook, you might have noticed the tactic I'm using to try to get HGTV to renovate our kitchen. So far, they haven't written on my wall, so I'm not sure Genevieve Gorder has gotten my message! Alas. So we forge ahead with the "traditional" path, and this weekend, we began meeting with contractors to see what the damage will be -- both to the unit and our bank account. The last time I posted photos of the kitchen-proper without our doodles all over them, it was still almost entirely filled with still-packed boxes of stuff. So here are a few "cleaner" shots of what we're dealing with:
(dining area and kitchen wall)
(same wall, other side)
(who wants some vintage appliances?)
(doors into kitchen... these remind me of my parents' old kitchen, which had swinging saloon doors when we moved in!)
Hopefully by next weekend we'll have a progress report with news on when the changes get underway! Stay tuned...

More Neighborhood Exploration... Flora and... Other Stuff

Lanie and I took a long neighborhood exploration walk this weekend, and found, among other things, a really beautiful garden with interesting leafy plants, as well as general pleasant surroundings. We're preparing for what will hopefully soon mean the renovation of our kitchen, so relaxing tours of our new territory are much-needed! Here are some of the sights we captured:


Friday, September 24, 2010

Ideas and Inspiration: Things I Can Do Myself (maybe?)

I have always been borderline manic about my finances. I remember the day my father took me to the local Baybank branch with my oversized TWA change purse filled with coins to open my first bank account. I hoarded babysitting spoils, and started legally working as soon as I could. While I've always loved shopping, I've also always been very careful about my spending, feeling a sense of ownership over my money, and a strong conviction that if I was going to part with what I had earned, it had better mean it. So, purging our collective bank accounts to buy this place, you can bet, gave me heart palpitations and minor panic attacks. Much to my relief and surprise, it hasn't been as bad as I thought. We're not eating ramen noodles and ice burg lettuce every night. And we are, in fact, able to not just live in this place, but customize it. Still, I'm thoughtfully considering how we'll decorate, and collecting ideas for crafty, interesting ways I can infuse our spirit into this home with my own/our own handy work.

Here are a few recent discoveries that have switched on a light bulb for me:

This single piece, made up from individual mirrors, could inspire interesting wall art... mirror or frame or otherwise:
(found on Anthropologie)
These vases reminded me of a very simple, plain, inexpensive vase I bought a few years ago at IKEA. Even though I am specifically restricted on my purchase of vases, eventually I could maybe play around with this idea to create a little vignette on a side table or something. Granted, I'm not this artistic, but I like the idea of differently "sketched" images on similar and grouped items:
(Also from Anthropolgie)
I've also been really wanting to get back into embroidery... which I haven't done since I was MUCH younger. My first real attempt will be some tea towels (not as fancy as these from Anthropologie, but I like the idea of this owl-y tribute to my grandma:

At Anthro, I also discovered this embroidered notebook... I like the idea of embroidering a home calendar cover, or something similar:
(forgive the terrible photography... these were captured with my phone camera)
I'm also really liking the idea of gray wall color. Especially for the living room:

(above gray paint photos courtesy of extensive Google image searching)

Tips and Tricks: DIY Cleaning Products

A great post from Design*Sponge has inspired me. Have to file this one away for future reference!

Spic & Span Floor Cleaner
The Goods
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1/4 c. baking soda
  • 6–7 drops essential oil of choice (I like to customize my floor cleaner scents to compliment the seasons, using lavender in spring, something citrusy in summer, cinnamon in autumn and pine scents in winter).
The Deal
1. Fill a bucket or your kitchen sink with hot water.
2. Add vinegar, baking soda and essential oils while filling.
3. Stir with a mop to disperse the baking soda in the water fully.
4. Mop floors per usual.

Make It Shine Furniture Polish
The Goods
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil
The Deal
1. Combine olive oil and essential oil in a dark glass bottle.
2. Dab a cloth with the mixture and polish wood furniture per usual.
3. Use within one month, making more as needed.

Odor Out Fabric Freshener
The Goods
  • Baking soda
The Deal
1. Simply sprinkle liberally all over area rugs or carpets and onto upholstered furniture.
2. Leave to sit for at least one hour and then vacuum away.

Green Room Mist
The Goods
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. vodka
  • 20 drops essential oil of choice (may be a single oil or a combination of several; for autumn celebrations, I like a blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger and orange, while a blend of balsam pine, juniper and rosemary go well with winter festivities)
The Deal
1. Combine all ingredients together in a refillable spray bottle.
2. Shake for each use and spray as needed.

Read the whole post on Design*Sponge by clicking here

One Month Home-Ownership Anniversary Deserves a Gift!

One month ago today we closed on our condo! It simultaneously feels like yesterday and last year. One of the most frightening, intimidating, and stressful days ever, we had no idea what to expect or what we'd gotten ourselves into. One month later, the stress of building our home is a constant, but the anxiety and fear are easing, and slowly, but surely, it is coming together.

As you already know, the kitchen is our biggest project in terms of the changes that need to be made beyond the cosmetic. We have definitely one, and possibly two contractors coming this weekend to provide us with estimates on the kitchen we envision. Hopefully that work will be able to start soon. Funky, vintage appliances are cool in concept, but I don't know how to work these things at all! Nor are they remotely anywhere near anything one could call energy-efficient. The other night I put a baguette into the top oven to soften it up for dinner. It burnt in two minutes. The oven was set to 200 degrees. Sigh.

So because the kitchen project involves big purchases as well as demo and labor, we've been tracking prices for all of the various pieces we will need. Per my old friend Kate's brilliant suggestion, I have signed up for every e-newsletter possible: Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears, and Best Buy, as well as some local places, in order to hear right away about any promotions, sales or deals. To that end, this weekend is Sears Bonus Days (money back on qualifying purchases), and today only there's a great promotion for purchasing qualifying energy-efficient kitchen appliances at most major retailers. The promotion involves an allotted amount of government dollars in kick-backs on these purchases (this is in addition to the stimulus package in place for similar purchases). So... happy one month anniversary of home-ownership to us... we might just buy a fridge!
(are you our new fridge?)

LG Electronics Stainless 26.5 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator ENERGY STAR

(are you?)

Maytag Stainless Steel 25.2 cu. ft. Side-By-Side Refrigerator w/ PUR® Water Filtration (MSD2572) ENERGY STAR®


Samsung Stainless Steel 20.0 cu. ft. French-Door Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator ENERGY STAR®

(or maybe you?)

Kenmore Stainless Steel 25.1 cu. ft. Side-By-Side Refrigerator w/ PUR® Water Filtration (5894)

(** update: this is apparently going to be somewhat of a challenge because the existing fridge has older fridge dimensions. Contemporary refrigerators are much bigger in every way. We need a fridge no more than 65" high, 30" wide, and 29" deep... the search continues!) 
(** 2nd update: we've changed our game plan! We will get a "normal" fridge, and try to move the cabinet over the existing one across the room when we uninstall the double-ovens. Phew!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Project Planning First Steps: Kitchen Renovation

(Dave's first mock-up)
(another variation on the idea for this wall coming soon...)


It's funny how now that we have this *thing* -- this home that's ours -- all of my habits are changing. Shopping has changed... weekend-planning has changed. I can see it in both of us - a new appreciation for our time and what is ours, and a pride in what we can do with and to it. As a renter, your place kind of is what it is... so you move in, and you can get right to making it yours under the given circumstances. As an owner, I feel a much bigger responsibility to the infusion of our taste and style. Decisions seem bigger, weightier, and requiring of more time and thought. We want to get it right, and we want it to truly reflect Us. Picking out two faucets has already shown us how this will all go down!

This weekend I started thinking about how I feel like so far we've been delaying the home-styling process because we don't know how the place itself will end up looking once we've done the "big" projects (kitchen, painting, lighting, etc.). But the truth is, we don't have to (nor can we afford to) do everything at once. And temporary style can help us feel more at home in our home while we figure out the rest. It can also give us an opportunity, at a lower cost, to "test" out styles and see where our new home will land.

To that end... some ideas and inspirations:

(wood curtain rods from World Market)

Product Image Fielcrest® Velvet Stripe Window Panel - GrayProduct Image Eclipse Twine Thermaback - TanProduct Image Home Window Panel - Pebble Gold 
(some curtains (above) and a chunky shag rug (below) from Target)

Product Image Home Red Chunky Shag Rug Collection
(hardware for kitchen cabinets? also World Market)

(pillow, seat cushion, and mirror from Pier One)

(artwork... found on 20X200 and Urban Outfitters)
more to come...