I live in a town that happens to have many old homes with great character and architecture. Every once in awhile, one of these homes is lucky enough to be saved from a builder, who would tear it down and build a brand new 3500+ sq foot McMansion.
My clients, Beth and Steve, bought one of these old homes, and I was lucky enough to work with them on designing their living room:
(You can see a little of the wood beamed ceiling in this shot, just gorgeous!)
I was recently at a clients home to review the final purchases for her kitchen/breakfast room/ family room and started discussions for her living / dining room. Half way through the meeting, her husband swooped in and politely asked "Would you follow me Dawn? I have a few projects of my own I'd like to discuss....." He continued his brisk walk knowing that I would follow him, as his wife Lisa profusely apologized to me for his abrupt disruption.
This often happens on the off chance he's around when I stop over. This time, though, my assignment was really fun and an easy one to knock off my list. He recently purchased art at the Hinsdale Art Fair - a local art fair - for their guest bedroom, and wanted me to select frames and update the bedding using the art as my starting point.
I met Carol and Emmett - dubbed my Ranch Project Clients - at a park one day while swinging our respective little ones. We started talking and discovered that both our boys took baseball together! Our conversation blossomed from there and before I knew it, Carol mentioned she needed help pulling her home together. I directed her to my blog to take a look around and told her to give me a call if she was interested in help.
We have made extensive changes to our home, inside and out. However, some of the most high impact changes happened to be the cheapest / easiest ones we've made.
(Our house at the end of last summer)
Last year, I shared the before and after of our exterior, here. However, the many changes that we made were done over the course of about 4 or 5 years. The change that took our renovations from nice, to wow, in my opinion, was\ painting our brick and adding fresh landscaping. Don't just take my word for it, take a look. Here is a picture of our home after we changed the roof-line/windows/siding:
This picture was taken just about a year ago. I remember being so excited to get our flower boxes planted, stepped back to take it in, and realized it was kind of sad looking! That is when I knew something had to be changed. Here is our home after new paint/plants:
Our winter was cold and long. My family has missed our time spent outside in our backyard and on our deck. My son has spent the past few months asking me, daily, if we could "please eat outside on the deck, mom!" The weather has only barely broke, but our deck is all ready and waiting for spring / summer!
Did you notice the dead looking tree in the background of the picture above? That usually has leaves by now, but due to the (miserable) weather in our parts, it's still yet to bloom! Can you tell I'm just a little bit ready for consistent warm weather? I'm not bitter at all.... I swear.... ok maybe just a little. ;) I lost five newly planted rose bushes just on the other side of the deck over the winter, so maybe that is why I decided to go for the gold with these already full hanging baskets this year rather than planting them myself and waiting it out to fill in:
Last year I gave our home exterior and landscaping a makeover to help improve our curb appeal. One of the updates we made, among the many shared here, was to line our front entry path with planters and boxwood's to help create an entrance:
I chose two large scale planters to line the start of the path so that I could add drama and color to the landscaping each year with annuals. Today I'm going to share the plants that I chose this year to fill these planters. By now I think most of us have heard the formula for creating an eye catching planter: thriller, filler, spill-er. With this in mind, I made the following selection:
As I mentioned the last time I posted, I wanted to share some of my favorite snapshots from our recent Napa getaway. It was an awesome time and I tasted a lot of great wines! We visited a variety of spots in Napa and Sonoma, and the ones I've included here were a few of my favorite.
One of our first stops, Far Niente, had the most beautifully manicured grounds of the wineries we visited. This makes sense considering the owner originally made his money in the nursery business! All of the spring flowers were in full bloom when we visited in early April. The wines were really great as well, mostly Cabs, and my husband liked them so much we joined the wine club! Two more notable items about Far Niente are the underground caves which were carved out after the building had been there for many years. Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of great snapshots of the caves since I would have needed a stand for my camera. Additionally, as part of the tour you get to see the owner's car collection (added bonus for the husband). I will note, though, that our tour guide - Zack - corrected me when I called it a "car collection;" he was quick to point out that these cars are driven regularly. La dee da. :) A few snapshots from this stop:
What time is that, you ask? It's the time of year that I start dreaming up all of the possibilities the warmer weather brings to enhancing the outdoor spaces of our home! (We had awesome weather in the 60's and 70's last week and I was actually able to work in our garden, but it snowed on Monday and is a brisk 35 degrees today! Brrrr.....will this winter weather ever end?) I'm excited to share that I will be participating in this years Outdoor Extravaganza Link Parties again:
In a design world filled with neutrals and simple decor - which I love, don't get me wrong - art is a great way to add color, pattern, texture, and above all, personality into your home! Art can make a bold statement:
Are you familiar with Waterlogue? For the un-initiated, it is an iPad/ iPhone app that allows you to transform your photograph images into a "water color." I first came across these images on Instagram about a month ago. I'm one of those people that tries to avoid the latest trends because I think "I'm too cool for that!" (HA!); so naturally I avoided the app at all costs.
I lasted almost a month before I saw this app creep its way into the blog universe. Upon seeing what bloggers were doing with the images (Shine Your Light, here and Imparting Grace, here), my first reaction was to jump as quickly as I could onto the first iDevice I could find and buy myself that app!!
(My new "water color" image hung above my nightstand)
I'm quite sure this is going to be a rambling post. Unlike the projects I've worked on for clients, I haven't put together any succinct "inspiration" board for my own living room re-design. I've turned ideas over in my head as to how I could nicely present my living room plans. Yeah, that won't happen because, I suppose, my plans just aren't succinct or thought out!!! Ha!
(My "in transition" living room)
Ok, that is somewhat untrue. Succinct? No. Thought out? Yes, kind of. I've always known that I wanted my living room to have a specific feel: comfortable, cozy and warm while still being light and bright. Also, relaxed and sophisticated all at once. Hmmm....
So....I'm trying to get together a post about plans for our living room re-design. It's taking me longer than expected because I seem to have lost my mind today. Organizing photos and thoughts isn't in the plan so, to break up the blog silence I thought I'd share a before and after of an entryway I recently worked on. If you follow me on Instagram, you may already have seen this one:
Shortly after I started this blog, I started receiving phone calls from people in my community asking me for help with their homes. Today I'm going to share pictures from the very first couple I helped! Although we started their makeover about a year ago now, we are still working on pulling the finishing touches together.
(one of my favorite and most impact-ful features of the room is a pair of Ikea mirrors we added to the TV wall)
They had their second baby shortly after we purchased the upholstered pieces and they wanted to take some time off to adjust to the changed family. Once we started meeting again and decided on some of the finishing pieces, their basement flooded and they had to redirect funds to fix the basement!
I thought today I would share the Valentine's I made with my son to pass out at his pre-school class. This idea is not original, I saw it somewhere on the internet! But, I had fun doing these with my son so thought I'd share the Valentine's, and a few outtakes, here!
My son LOVES posing for pictures and reviewing them, so this one was fun for us. We had a photo shoot, and I chose the best picture and uploaded it to Costco photos (since I had to shop there the next day anyway). Costco Photo has lots of border options, and I found this one under their holiday section. For $2, I ordered 20 4 x 6 photos and for another $1.50 I found the heart pops.
If you've been around this blog you might now that I'm a big fan of orchids. I filled my home with them last winter / spring because of the ease in care (two to three ice cubes once a week) and the longevity of the flowers (mine bloomed all winter/spring).
For some reason, though, it never crossed my mind to group these flowers. But as I cataloged and reviewed some of my favorite inspiration images for my own home, I kept noticing these plants grouped in one pretty vessel together. I started to wonder how I could get myself one!
Last week I was shopping our local Mariano's (a Midwest grocer that I LOVE!) and saw that the floral department was selling one for $75. I didn't care for the bowl (for my house) but casually asked the woman working the department how she put the centerpiece together. She was really helpful and in case you are wondering, I did buy flowers from her, so I didn't feel that bad! I decided I could recreate my own centerpiece for a little less money.
I've made a lot of promises that I haven't kept on this blog of mine! Most recently I promised to share Christmas pictures from around the house.... never got to it!
(Picture taken at Christmas time. This wreath is still hanging since it is "winter-y." That's my little artist, painting away)
So, I'm done making promises. However, I'm ready to break my blog silence. I think after so long away, I've had trouble deciding where to start. Lot's of post ideas are running through my head. Although the blog has been silent, I still have lots going on around my house as well as client design projects I'd like to share. I'm just going to have to make the jump back into this game.
If you stick around to read this blog in 2014, here is a glimpse of what you can expect to on the home front. I'm focused on adding the finishing touches to our home. At any given time, I have at least 5 - 7 near term household projects floating around in this head of mine. We've already started knocking away at a few of them this year (err, we hired out help). So far, we've updated our fireplace mantle:
We are waiting on a Statuary Marble slab and surround, but the change so far has been dramatic; just check out the before pictures below:
The above is two photos I "merged" from the real estate listing. Just in case you don't believe me here is another picture right after we moved in and had made some pretty major updates (new electric, new drywall, new floors, etc.):
Using the same contractor (Jim's Handyman Services, if you happen to be in the western 'burbs of Chicago), we added a built in bench with storage to our family room (on which I happen to be sitting as I type):
Ok, this is a really poor instagram shot but it's all I've got. As an aside, you can follow me on Instagram here where I share home projects/client updates in real time. Anyway, we really enjoy having an extra table for breakfast / lunch (this room is open to our kitchen). It is nice to have the additional storage for toys/legos/art supplies. There are more additions in store for this room as well, so stay tuned.
Most of my household projects involve adding the finishing touches to our home, including window treatments, art, and organizational systems.
(our master bedroom, with new rug and window treatments)
However, the biggest ongoing project is a bit of a re-design in our living room. I will dedicate another post reviewing all of my plans at a later date, but it all started with the purchase of this sofa:
(colorwise this shot of the room is bland right now, but I have plans to add in a lot more interest very soon!)
I hope to be back later this week to share a few shots from recent client projects!