Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Hunt for the Hutch {Dining Room Progress}

So in my last post I gave you a rundown of the progress in the dining room. It didn't need too much to come together, being that there are very few walls in this room, but it was definitely missing a hutch.

I had a few items on my checklist for what I wanted - large enough to display all of my anthro dishes I received for our wedding, fully enclosed shelving to help deal with dust and cat fur, and I wanted solid wood shelves after I saw the glass break from too much weight in my mother's cabinet. I also wanted a walnut wood, and oh a great price too of course.  I wasn't really digging anything we were finding in the big box stores so I knew I was going to have to be patient on craigslist.  I checked randomly for the past few months, but we had other projects and things we were looking for and I wasn't feeling pressured to buy anything just yet.

Right before Christmas I found a beauty - this United beauty in fact.

But I got greedy.  I low balled them and balked at the delivery fee from Philly. Who do I think I am? And deservingly I lost it to someone else.  I called their bluff and lost it.  I hated myself for about a week and constantly opened up the saved photo on my laptop.  I may have pet my screen a few times.

But the guy I was emailing was great - he kept sending me photos of other pieces they had - I almost went for this Stanely piece but it wasn't grabbing me the way the United piece was. A little too plain. I hemmed. I hawed. I checked CL again.

Then I took a second look at a Kent Coffey Perspecta.  It was for sale in Queens, I would have to hire movers myself, and it was more than the United piece by $400. But I was in the zone. We were purchasing a hutch, and we were purchasing one soon, dammit.  Suddenly, I didn't really care that the shelves weren't wood.  I checked back with my guy in Philly and saw they had just the bottom piece for only $100 less than what the person in Queens was selling her top and bottom for.  She even found my blog and complimented our chandelier. I was ready to say Sold! and decided to do one last search on CL.

And then I found the same piece, top and bottom, only 20 minutes away for less than half of her price. The pics were a little grainy.  The seller was friendly, but not entirely forth coming with details on the quality. ("What do you mean by luster?")  I figured either he didn't really know what he had, or he didn't really care and just wanted to get rid of it, or it wasn't in great shape and he was being vague on purpose.  We decided the price was too good to not check it out, so one cold Saturday in January we loaded up the baby, borrowed a friend's truck, and made the drive to check it out.  I wanted to bring a truck so we could load it up on the spot if we liked it.

Spoiler alert. We liked it. We bought it on the spot and I paid his full asking price because it felt like the right thing to do. Tom and the seller loaded it up and tied it down.  He had previously removed the three glass shelves as well as the glass for the two sides and the two middle doors to make it easier getting it out of his house. He said his wife just grew tired of it and wanted something more modern and even though it was outside covered in tarp, it looked like it was going to clean up nicely.  We got it home, returned our friends truck and finally gave the baby some jumparoo time since he had been so good for what had been 4 hours already.

The next puzzle was figuring out how to get the glass back in.  We even called the seller back after a few hours of not being able to figure it out.  It was a damn puzzle. A puzzle I tell you! The doors were easy, it was figuring out how to get the side glass pieces in (they had to be inched in at just such an angle) as well as the shelves.  They had to go in before the last side was in, but had to be laid against the back wall in just such a way to get the last side in. Then we could put in the brackets and raise each shelf. Another 4 hours later, and we were in business.  Yes folks. 8 hours start to finish to buy a piece of furniture that existed only 20 minutes away.  But we now have bragging rights. And we didn't even fight once. This feat was more impressive than a trip to Ikea.

Love those side cut outs. It really allows so much light to flow through the room.  This piece is bigger than the bookcases, yet it feels so much lighter in here now.

And look at how pretty all of our stuff looks in it.  Most of the white stuff on the bottom two shelves are from anthro, my ugly monkey tea set and the lions were my grandmothers, as were the Japanese vases and little shot glasses on the top shelf. The Japanese plates were Tom's grandmothers and the W etched shrimp glasses were a gift from a family friend from her first marriage when she was a W.  It is amazing how it looks like it was always there.

We kept up with the Asian theme and hung prints that were also my grandmothers on either side of the doors.  I'm torn on the idea of getting them reframed and matted.  I believe they are original from Korea (my grandfather was in the Korean War) and they were framed at a spot in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (which is now sentimental for me after living there for the past 8 years).  But, the frames are thin and weak, and the matting has yellowed.  In this bright white room, they almost look dingy by comparison.  But I hate to part with the original pieces. Is there a right or wrong answer here?

And just for fun - let's compare the before and afters one more time of the whole dining room, shall we?

I found a better pic of the placeholder bookcases on my phone. Oh the days when William sat in that infant seat (PS: LOVE OUR STOKKE STEPS - totally worth the money IMO).

And what it looks like today!

And to clarify, these rooms are all the same size - it's actually slightly bigger now  with the wall gone - I am just not as fancy a photog as the real estate broker apparently was.  Anyone want to volunteer to photograph our space?? #kiddingnotkidding #seriouslyemailmeifyouknowhowtoshootinteriorsandwillcometoNJ

Have any epic CL stories of holding out for the right piece at the right price?  Anyone better at negotiating prices than me? I once haggled a guy for a sugar shaker from $2 to .50 at a yard sale and I may have oversold my expertise to myself.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself {Our New Old Dining Room}

This started as one long post but I decided to break it up into two because my rambling can be excessive, even for me...

So we have been jumping all over the house for the past few months.  No single room is what I would call "finished" but the Nursery is probably the closest.  And now I think the dining room is pretty damn close too!

I've briefly mentioned that we did a gut renovation on our kitchen, and removed the walls that separated the kitchen and dining room, kitchen and living room, and the dining room was already pretty open to the living room.  (Did you follow that? Me neither. Here is the file Tom created to give out to the different companies that gave us estimates for the work. Everything in the red zig zag is gone now).

Some before pictures from the MLS listing of the dining room/living room/kitchen:

So that wall to the right used to lead into the kitchen - we took it down (but we saved the accordion door and the chandelier!).  The double doors to the left head into the office/man cave.

Now from the other side, the wall to the left with the opening into the dining room is gone. There is a wall you don't see in this picture to the left of that kitchen table that we also removed (See it below). Essentially, our island is now where the kitchen table was. And this yellow kitchen is completely gone but that deserves its own post.

The living room:

And that wall to the right (which was the same wall in the kitchen) is now gone.  You can see the original opening into the dining area was already large, but now we've maximized that opening.  I would also like to note that clearly photographers for MLS listings use a wide angle lens.  These rooms are definitely roomy - but these photos make them look down right huge.

So now everything is super open and we have a solid 'great room' which we love and is oh so en trend.  But I still tend to look at these spaces separately when it comes to focusing on pieces to purchase to fill up this home. During demo we had them remove the dining room windows and put in french doors - eventually these will lead to a deck when we finally build one, but for now they serve as an nice way to get big furniture into the house. And they let in a lot of light.  We had them replace the old chandelier (which I saved for another project) and had them install this darling. Ohemgee I love this light.  We even learned how to put in our own dimmer switch after the electricians left. Let's just say because the instructions say you can put in 25 watt bulbs, doesn't mean you should, especially when there are 42 of them. Wattage literally accumulates. Did you know that? Now you do.

We purchased a new extendable table from West Elm, and the chairs are from our last dining set, whose remaining pieces have been sprinkled throughout the house.  They are a little beat up and not quite the same genre as all the MCM we've got going on in here but they are comfortable and I spent a lot of money on the upholstery back when I didn't have a ton of money to do that sort of thing and I cannot let them go. And because of GOLD, obvs.

And we temporarily placed our two old bookshelves from Target on this wall when we moved in and threw in some tchotchkes as place holders while I searched for the perfect hutch for this space. I only have this not so great picture of part of the bookcase, and you can see we saved the accordion door and used it for our holiday cards this year:

I'll take a break there, because the hunt for a great hutch is really what this post was originally about...

This post does not contain any affiliate links. If you have any questions feel free to ask!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas Decorations 2014

This year was a pretty exciting year to decorate. It was our first Christmas in our new house! I'm not a huge fan of knick-knacky decorations, but pre-lit garland and decorated trees are my jam. And you'll see them both in excess. Some more sneak peaks around the new house too if you are into that.

First up: the tree in my home office.  It's gold, it's rocking some lime and purple and iridescent white balls, and some purple snowflakes. I love looking past my monitors to see this guy all lit up sitting on top of our craigslist poker table find.

This white guy - you might recognize him from the dining room of our apartment, but this year he is hanging out in the Nursery.  Complete with emerald green and royal blue balls blue snowflakes, and some rustic little critters from Grandma.

I'm a little partial to our fake green tree in the family room.  We always had an assortment of traditional Scandinavian ornaments on our tree growing up but this guy is all Norway, all the way. Straw ornaments, Norwegian flags, and our Julenissen. We've even got our Fair Isle ornaments that we picked up in Oslo last year (November 2013).

There is more garland in this room - surrounding this huge window as well as our sliding glass doors to the back patio.  But I'll show you around the family room a little more in another post.

And of course, our REAL TREE in the living room.  In case you were wondering, no I did not realize that the top of this tree was seemingly chopped off when we picked it out, nor did I realize that it would look so short and stout in this room. And no, we don't own a star to make it look taller (it's called an illusion, Michael). But next year folks, next year! I will have a properly fitting tree for this room. Until then, I think this guy turned out just fine.  We've got the majority of our sentimental ornaments on this tree and I used gold and aqua to tie into some of the other furniture in the room. And yes. Lots and lots of pre-lit garland.

Can we talk about how ginormous those stockings are? They are beautiful (from Pottery Barn Kids), but I did not realize they would be this big. In a few years someone is going to expect to get these filled with toys, and Mama is not happy about this. He is going to have to settle for half (nay, two thirds!) of it to be stuffed with tissue paper. We will make up some story so he believes that is how it all works, I'm sure.

And some of our special ornaments from our trips  and significant happenings over the years are on our "real tree". This has become my favorite way to memorialize these vacations (and when I can't find actual ornaments, key chains become great ornaments and people are none the wiser except when you blab about on a public blog). In no particular order:

Read about it here.
My Tri-Kayla 30th Birthday/Cinqo De Kayla/Kentucky Derby Weekend in 2012
Our wedding.
I recently posted about our Honeymoon to South Africa here.
We went to a falconry on our second mini-honeymoon in Manchester VT

Florida in 2010 
Vegas in 2013

Forgive me for indulging in listing out where our ornaments are all from - some day (probably too soon) I won't be able to remember what year we did what so it's nice to have it all in one spot.

Technically, I put up pre-lit garland on our front porch, however, there are no outlets outside so we've never been able to turn it on. After a few futile attempts to get electricity outside we have decided to wait to add an outlet when we redo the siding this coming spring. We are already tinkering with ideas for decorating outside the house next year, and let's just say Tom has already mentioned using his raspberry pi to match up lights and music. And you thought four Christmas trees was excessive.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mistle Toes Ornaments {Dare to DIY 2014 - Give Homemade }

Last weekend we kinda killed it with festive activities.  I found a shopping center that has all of my favorite big box stores to shop at and we knocked out all gifts on our winter wishes list from NewYorkCares.org.  We got a tree from Home Depot where we were recognized by workers (I guess we've been there a few times lately). And I finished decorating the house inside and out. If felt good to get so many tasks done since I had several days of commuting into Manhattan for meetings for work this week, and we are having a few friends over this weekend for a little holiday dinner.  And through it all, I even found time to make some handmade gifts for the grandparents. Spoiler Alert Grandmas: stop reading if you want to be surprised on Christmas morning!

I recall a few years ago a friend telling me one of the best things about having kids was that you had automatic gifts for the grandparents at every holiday - just give them something baby related and they will be happy.  So here ya go Grandmas, they aren't perfect, but they are made with baby love!

For this project you will need:

Ornaments (I found these flat-ish plastic ones at Michaels for $2.99 each)
Craft Paint (I did a little research on this - some sites said acrylic on skin isn't great in general, but tempura or washable paint would flake off of the ornament.  I did a little skin test on myself and had wet paper towels ready to clean him up within seconds of putting the paint on him. The sites that said acrylic wasn't a great idea were mostly talking about face painting where the paint would stay on for hours so I felt ok with it since it was literally on his skin for less than a minute. Do your own research to determine what you feel comfortable with. If you have tempura paint, maybe a sealant spray on top would help with flaking)
Flat Paintbrush
Paint Pens 
Wet paper towels or washcloths
Sleeping Baby
If a sleeping baby is not available, Extra Patience and Quick Hands

What was good about the acrylic paint on the plastic ornament is that it was forgiving for a few seconds.  I got two ornaments done before he woke up and then it was a little bit trickier to get a good smudge on the last ornaments so I was able to wipe the paint off and try again.  Working quickly is key here on many levels.  My kids does not like to get "got" so holding his foot was a challenge, even for a few seconds. 

I threw in some crinkle paper since the ornaments were see through, and if I get around to it, I might even tie a bow to the tops of these.  The possibilities are endless.

"Mistle Toes" was an easy play on words and great given his age and size of foot - but I'm really looking forward to making these cute finger snowmen in a few years when he is a bit bigger, which is the project that was my original inspiration and got the ol' gears turning.

I'm linking up on Maybe Matilda today!  Go check out the fun!

So what was the over/under for me coming back and joining in a second linky party?? Will I make it to the final party??? Don't fall off the edge of your seats, people.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Tree Napkins {or Dare to DIY 2014 - Entertain! Edition)

I've followed the Dare to DIY link parties for a few years. Last year I actually pulled myself away from the toilet (morning sickness lasts all day for some) long enough to make these painted cork placemats.  It was fun.

So I told myself last year I would join in at least two of the link parties this year.  Baby steps people, blogging on a regular basis is not my thing.  And when you are staring at primered walls, that you told yourself you would get painted by Thanksgiving, and there is an adorable 4 month old that is figuring out how to bring his tiny thumbs to his mouth, it's kinda hard to justify to yourself to sit and get crafty.  But I saw this video on FB and was reminded of how much I actually enjoyed the task of folding cloth napkins. I was a waitress at two different family owned resorts growing up, and I actually loved the task of folding napkins for dinner. I still find myself refolding cloth napkins when I'm at restaurants if their fold job isn't up to my standards. #formerwaitressproblems

So I thought, oh I'll go find some vintage tablecloths and make my own festive napkins for some dinner parties we are hosting in the coming weeks. Then I remembered I have no idea where to get vintage anything in my new town.  Seriously, WHERE ARE THE FLEA MARKETS AROUND HERE???  I found one antique shop that takes itself waaay too seriously with the pricing.  Someone, someone, tell me where I can find cheap used junk to make glorious again in central New Jersey please.

So then I thought, ok, I'll skip this link party. And then I thought, NO KAYLA JUST FOLD YOUR WHITE NAPKINS.  True, I didn't lug out the paint, the orbital sander, or the sewing machine for this project. I didn't even lug out the iron, and really, I should have at least done that.  But whatever. I still like them.

Feast for your eyes, people:

Can I make a table look sexy or what?

Blogger confession: I bought washi tape for the first time. I used it to make little place tag flags attached to little ornaments from the dollar store. Little woodland critters sent down by my mother and Boom. Tablescape is done, ya'll.

I'm still searching for that perfect vintage holiday tablecloth and napkin set.  But for now I still dig this burgandy/gold/aqua number.  It really pulls in the gold and aqua from around the room. The room that I'm not ready to show you until it's a little more "done". You know, like more than just primered (it's a real word, trust).  But I did put up some pre-lit garland!

I'll only gush about that chandelier for a minute - but it's literally the first thing we bought after we bought the  house. It is hands down my favorite piece we added. Tom knew a lighting guy and we got it for a steal which was the only way we were actually going to get that thing into our house. I'll give you a real breakdown of the dining room/living room/kitchen soon enough (translation: before the end of 2015).

Kitchen teaser. Yup, that's an antique rug from ebay in my kitchen. I'm so en trend. And that is my Stokke Steps high chair.  Hands down, best money we spent on a single baby item (even though its really like 4 items).  I love that thing and so does the little one.

And here's that napkin folding video. Looks like there a couple versions on youtube, but this is the one that gave me the idea in the first place:

And if you are here from Decor and the Dog - welcome!  If not, check out the other party animals here to see what everyone came up with! Will I meet my personal goal and come back for a second link party in the next two weeks? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.