January 24, 2015

One and Done

I’m hop-skipping around the different assignments from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. Last weekend, I was able to strike off assignment #5, “Pick a Project” and assignment #9, “Hey! It’s Time to (Fill in the Blank)“, by completing one of the more inconsequential projects on my list, “Hang new drapes in master bedroom closet”.

If there is any reality of our home that I hide from the blog, it is my closet. If you look back through my posts on the master bedroom, you’ll notice that I never include an angle that shows my closet. The closet is the traditional 6 foot wide, 2 foot deep space with bifold doors. It’s nothing special to look at when the bifold doors are closed. Unfortunately, the reality is that we’re not allowed to close the doors.

Cats are interesting creatures…

If we close the closet doors, like most normal folks do, our beloved Jin would paw and meow at the door and otherwise cause an annoying ruckus, most often while we’re trying to sleep. So the doors were left open, giving us the wonderful view of my entire wardrobe, which, to everyone’s surprise, is not arranged by style, color, and sleeve-length. Sorry.

I hated it. I always felt like my garments were on display and like our bedroom was more chaotic than it should be. For years, I had the idea that I would add drapes to the closet and I was finally able to pick up my favorite Aina drapes on a recent trip to IKEA. Normally, I buy Cambria drapery hardware from Bed Bath and Beyond, but since I knew the hardware would be installed inside the closet and wouldn’t be seen, I decided I’d rather spend less money on more basic hardware. I opted to use IKEA’s Racka drapery rod with Syrlig curtain rings and clips. Using curtain rings, rather than the hidden tabs on the back of the Aina drapes, would allow for faster, smoother opening and closing of the drapes. In other words, I would be more likely to create a habit of closing the drapes when I’m done in my closet.

I was going to include a ‘Before’ photo of my closet with the doors wide open, but realized it exposed just a bit too much of my wardrobe to include on the blog. So you’re missing out on the nitty-gritty, but here’s a pretty picture instead. I present to you, a never-before-seen corner of the house on Penny Lane complete with the culprit that caused all of the aforementioned events.

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 Have you completed a January Cure project? Tell me about it!

January 11, 2015

Punch List

The second assignment from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is “Make a List of Projects“. The idea is to tour your home and take note of any areas requiring attention. Putting the items in list-form is meant to encourage focus on each item, rather than overwhelm.

My list consists mostly of prospective or incomplete projects. Interestingly, I found many projects that spanned multiple rooms, which should help me feel like the tasks are being completed faster. I typed up my list and colored like-items to help me focus. Thankfully, the list isn’t meant to be completed in January, but over the course of the year.

Here’s a peek at my list.

Punch List copy

 

Obviously, I’m a bit behind on my assignments. Since this it my first time attempting the Cure, and since it’s been an unusually busy January already, I’ll probably pick and choose which assignments I do based on their benefits. I really liked this assignment because it helped me very clearly identify the things I’ve been wanting to do around the house.

Has anyone else been participating in the Cure? Tell me about your experience so far in the comments.

January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, folks! I can’t believe it’s been a year already since my 2013 year-end review (just 6 posts ago!) I really don’t think I created enough blog content in order to warrant a review of 2014, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to break tradition and look forward instead of backward!

Since Christmas (read: those weeks that I spent ankle-deep in wrapping paper), I’ve been really itching to get organized. The house on Penny Lane may look nice and tidy, but it’s hiding a doozy of messes. I’ve done a few clean-outs here and there, but I decided that 2015 would be the year that I take on the January Cure from Apartment Therapy.

We’re already 3 assignments in, and I’m only behind on one of them. If I can keep up, I’ll be blogging about my process.

Let’s start with the first assignment: Flowers & Floors. this was a bit of an easy one for me and I’ll be honest why: Rob cleans the floors. He’ll thank me when he finds out that I didn’t make him do a thorough scrub down. I will give him credit though, since he did clean them just a day or so before this assignment. The main goal of the floor cleaning, I must say, is to get better acquainted with your home and what projects may need working on.

Fortunately/unfortunately, I can pretty much list of these projects from memory without even going into their respective rooms. I will be doing that, however, since that is assignment #2, Make a List of Projects. I’ll report back with my list in the next few days, but for now, I’ll leave you with the pretty picture I took after “completing” my first assignment.

December 26, 2014

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

Ok, so technically, Christmas is over, but I’m never one to blog on time, right? This year, family photos were taken in front of our tree, so I had a really good excuse to out-do myself with tree decorations. This year, I went a bit nuts with silver and gold ornaments as well as bows and icicles.

I’m just tickled with how it turned out.

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Merry Christmas, Friends!

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November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, and food. Here’s this year’s Thanksgiving tablescape.

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Every year I try to change/add/improve something about the table. This year, I added gold chargers from Target. I had hoped to add a table runner made from Hmong indigo Batik fabric like these:

find on Esty

 

find on Etsy

And blueprinted Asian rice bowls like these:

But they were too expensive/unavailable/hard to get, etc, etc. So I did what I usually do: I made myself a runner. Using this tutorial, I cut, tied, and dyed a length of cotton duck cloth.

After all of this indigo dying, and blue printed dishes, I’m beginning to realize how much I really like the color indigo. I’m going to have to start keeping an eye out for this color.

Oh, and just in case you haven’t had enough of Thanksgiving food, here are some snapshots of the dishes I made for the holiday.

turkey brine

apple cider

broccoli salad

turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!

September 19, 2014

Exciting Things

There’s something very exciting coming up for the House on Penny Lane. Are you excited? No? Not yet? Well, I can be excited for the rest of us.

At the end of this year, we’re getting a new sofa! A sectional to be exact…

Our IKEA sofa has served us well during the last seven years. It was our first big purchase together and, for each of us, our first real grown up sofa. But lately, we have begun to outgrow it. We’re hosting more and more get-togethers at our house while also spending more and more time stretched out/cuddled up just the two of us. And we just need more room.

And lucky for us, our living room can handle it. It’s kind of huge. Check out my sweet rendering. It’s like looking at my house through a Simpson’s episode.

 

And I never miss a chance for a mood board. This thing makes me giddy. Especially because the majority of the items pictured are ones I already own. This, by the way, is an update to a mood board from way back in 2010. We were just young chicks then, so it’s interesting to see how our tastes have grown in the last few years.

 

 

1.     Our wonderful wood floors. I still dig the high contrast between them and our walls.

2.     With the addition of a larger sofa, we will also need a larger area rug. Our current rug is a $170 8’x10′ shag rug we found at Home Depot. Such a steal and hides stains amazingly well. The new rug is actually made up of carpet tiles, so if one gets stained, I can just remove and replace it with a fresh tile. I’ve also heard the tiles are way easier to clean than a regular rug, so let’s hope any stains that do pop up can be taken care of quickly.

3.     My $30 a piece Craigslist chairs. I recovered them just last year, so they’re not going anywhere any time soon.

4.     Our 70s coffee table. Another awesome Craigslist find.

5.     THE SOFA. I am so excited by this. Pretend this picture is of a sectional with a chaise instead of an ‘L’ shaped sofa. I chose a fitted back to avoid the inevitable slouchy back cushions. The fabric will be a microfiber velvet in a very dark, almost black, charcoal.

6.     Our sofa table. It came from CB2, but is unfortunately no longer available.

7.     Our favorite IKEA Besta media cabinet.

8.     Our vintage walnut lamps. I am so glad these are not glass or ceramic. They would have been broken a long time ago. *Cough* cats *cough*

9.    My Valentine’s Day Fiddle Leaf Fig.

10.   Our current accent pillows, throw, and our Franco Albini Ottoman.

11.    With the new sofa, I should be receiving some throw pillows in the fabric of my choosing. So here’s my choosing! Kind of an Ikat print with cream, charcoal, linen, plum, and cranberry colors. It’s super pretty and this pic doesn’t do it justice.

12.   Think I can talk Rob into some light colored faux fur throw pillows? I hope so. We’ve got a lot of sofa to cover.

13.   I think a nicely colored Persian style rug would be beautiful layered over our future area rug. This will take some obsessing, hunting, and deliberation, so don’t expect to see this placeholder filled for some time.

 

So what’s been a recent exciting addition to your home? Tell me about it in the comments below!

September 14, 2014

Vignetting

One of the hardest things for me to do is pull together a great vignette. So when I do manage it, I have to take a million pictures to document my success.

 

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The first is our coffee table vignette. I had searched far and wide for a tray that would fit our large, octagonal coffee table. I was looking for something that would both fit my style and either be circular or square. Not an easy feat. There are lots of rectangular trays out there, but the unusual shape of my coffee table begged for something more symmetrical.

It was during a normal grocery shopping trip that I found myself at our local Asian supermarket. This supermarket has a large section dedicated to housewares. I had never perused this section before and I was quite surprised to find so many beautiful items at low prices. I found the bamboo tray among stacks of woven baskets for a measly $6. Compare that to the $50 tray I had my eye on at West Elm.

All of the other items in this vignette I already owned, including the gorgeous white vase. I have no clue why that thing has been sitting in a cabinet wasting all of its loveliness to the darkness. Actually, I do. Cats.

 

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The second is our Master Bathroom vignette. This space is teeny tiny and hasn’t changed a lick since the vanity was installed. This vignette is still not done, but the minor additions have made my time in the space much more enjoyable. I bought the faux orchid for $10 at TJ Maxx. I’ve had the Matisse print for a while. It lived in our Master Bedroom for a time before I decided it just wasn’t right for the space. It has since been living in a closet. Again, I have no clue why.

So. Fun stuff. Things that make me smile.

September 6, 2014

Dusting Off the Cobwebs

Hopefully there are people still out there who are willing to listen to my ramblings. Blogging consistently is challenging and I’ve just lacked the energy and inspiration to continue. Luckily, I do have some new and exciting things coming up for the House on Penny Lane. I’ll fill you in a bit more on that later. For now, I want to show off a quick and easy redo of our guest bathroom.

The guest bathroom was one of our first rooms to “complete” when we first moved into the house, mainly because it had the most bewildering decor of the entire house. Picture, if you will, matching wallpaper and window treatments featuring ladies’ hats and handbags in a lovely checkerboard pattern made of blue striped ribbon. Yes.

We removed the wallpaper and window treatments, painted and retiled the floor. The improvements felt like a breath of fresh air, but have recently revealed themselves to be merely an offering of a blank slate. While the rest of our home filled itself with texture and character, our guest bathroom sat blank and empty. It was time to add some life.

As a reminder of what the room looked like before, here are some phone pics I took of the space while contemplating my next steps.

      

Here’s the updated look.

My first step was switching around some art. Sometimes I love placing small pieces of art on walls that should really have large pieces, just because it’s unexpected. But the piece above the toilet just made the rest of the room feel so expansive, which only added to the empty, blank slate feeling in the space. So I moved the piece to the wall next to the door and added a larger piece of art above the toilet.

I would have loved to do something with the mirror and the light fixture, but I just didn’t have the budget to allow for those changes. Maybe further down the road. Right now, we’re just talking cheap improvements that make a big impact.

The next step was adding texture. This bathroom is used most by visitors that are only staying for a couple hours. So I really wanted to make the bathroom feel like an extension of the living room, not just the room that visitors would spread out their hygiene products in order to get ready in the morning.  So I added a runner to make the room feel less bathroom-y. It also added warmth and texture to an otherwise cold space.

Next was filling up all that counter space. I found the round basket at Home Goods on clearance for $5. I filled it up with toiletries that may be needed by overnight guests. Things like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The Himalayan salt votive and marble tray also came from Home Goods. The hand towel and picture frame came from World Market and the soap dispenser came from Target. The floral stems came from Hobby Lobby. I’ve been on a faux floral kick lately and I recently realized how nicely the forms can fill a space, even if they’re not real. I’m no longer above having fake flowers, as long as they’re reasonably realistic looking and arranged well. The large vase, art, and other small pieces were items I already owned, but had no home for.

I’m planning on adding a DIY curtain for the window, but just couldn’t wait to share what’s finally happening over at our place.

Altogether, I spent about $60 on this space. I’d say it was money well spent.

Oh, I forgot to mention… we added framed picture of Polly because we consider this room hers. She loves drinking water out of the leaky faucet. I have proof.

January 1, 2014

Good Riddance, 2013

If you’ve been following the blog this past year, you’ll know that 2013 has been a doozy for us and one we are thrilled to be finished with. Every year, I recap the year with a blog countdown. This year has been so overwhelming that I hardly have any material to recap. BUT, this is a blog for documentation, so I’m going to do my best to accurately reflect the haps and mishaps around the house on Penny Lane.

 

10 In January, we finished our Kitchen Improvement baby steps and recapped it here.

 
 

A bad taste was left in our mouths in February when a slab leak flooded our HVAC ducts.

 
 

8 In March, we continued to clean up the slab leak mess with cleaning and sealing our ducts.

 
 

7 On the bright side, our yellow chairs were reupholstered in March.

 
 

A trip to California in March inspired me to work on our Master Bedroom decor in April. I continued working              on the decor in June and September.

 
 

5 In May, I recapped our new front garden bed.

 
 

4 Although it was purchased in February, I finally revealed our healthy and growing Fiddle Leaf Fig in May.

 
 

3 In June, I deemed 2013 the Year of Ugly Money when our 30 year old A/C unit went out. The Year of Ugly               Money was further confirmed later in June, when a fender bender totaled my car. Not Penny Lane related,                but it helps to demonstrate just how excited we are to move on to 2014.

 
 

In November, I hosted my first all-matching place setting Thanksgiving.

2013 Tablescape

 
 

And as we excitedly reached the end of the year…

 

1 I crafted a DIY Advent Calendar for Christmas.

 

In an effort to save you from having that same bitter after-taste in your mouth about 2013, I will say this. While it has by no means been an easy year for us, the mishaps we experienced throughout the year have left us better off (aside from the new loan payments, of course). We have a more efficient heating and cooling system. We are paying significantly less every month to heat and cool the house. We are thankful that we can experience these mishaps and know we can find a solution that won’t devastate us. We especially want to thank our family who has been there to support us this past year. From borrowed cars to borrowed beds, the support has been much appreciated. And as always, we are so incredibly thankful for our family, our friends, their health and ours, and our continued success in our careers.

So how about you? I’d love to hear some stories about how great 2013 was for others!

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December 31, 2013

Christmas Craftiness

I’m racing the clock to turn in a post about the Penny Lane Christmas before the new year rings.

Every Christmas, I get the urge to be super crafty. I think it’s because crafty Christmas decorations are far more acceptable than crafty Tuesday decorations. It’s late. I don’t know what I’m saying.

This year, my craft was an Advent Calendar. I’ve been wanting to put one together for the last few years, but never had a design fully conceptualized until this year. I have Pinterest to thank for a plethora of options from the store bought to the simple DIY to the crazy design-y DIY.

Here are some of my favorites.

image courtesy of unusuallylovelysquarespace.com

image courtesy of relocatedliving.com

image courtesy of pichouline.com

In the end, my final design was driven by circumstances and opportunity. Due to our beloved fig tree, we relocated the Christmas tree to our dining area. Opportunity came from a blank wall next to the tree that needed to be filled. Circumstances came from trying to create the calendar almost entirely from materials I already owned: a 24″x48″ canvas with layers upon layers of different paint color from its previous lives, white paint, colored construction paper, double stick tape, and gold paint. All I had to buy were the containers and velcro.

I painted the canvas white (the same white as our walls), laid out a grid for 24 boxes (yes, I was the girl who bought out all the 3 inch paper mache boxes from the metro area Hobby Lobby stores), painted gold numbers on construction paper, labeled the boxes, and attached them with vecro.

The boxes are currently empty, but over the next couple of years, I’d like to fill them with small ornaments each to symbolize a different bible verse telling the story of Christmas.

What about you? Do you get crafty during Christmas? What have you made recently? Tell me in the comments below!

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