Sunroom Status

It’s taken longer than planned, but we’re finally making some tangible strides in the sunroom. As a quick recap – the sunroom had served as our interim storage room since we moved in, where the long narrow space and gross beige carpeting was doing the room no favours. We painted the wood paneled walls bright white, as well as all the trim, ripped up the carpet and replaced it with inexpensive vinyl tiles. Long-term, I’m still on the fence about the best way forward with this room, but until we redo the flooring on the main floor of the house, we wanted to make sure we got ample use this space. As mentioned previously, I’m trying to weigh the economics of vaulting the room in the sunroom and widening the opening against taking down the wall between the sunroom and living room / dining room entirely. There are a ton of factors at play, so instead we’re focusing on the short term.

Over the weekend, we installed baseboards, which gives the room a much more polished feel than before. Cory decided that the basic door trim wasn’t hacking it and tore it out to make way for decorative trim that matched the other doorways in the house. He also filled in the holes for the hinges from when a door formerly hung in the doorway. We still have one more door to sort out, but that’s going on the back burner until the spring. Long story short, we have a sliding door that leads to our back deck that has a faulty seal. To keep the room warm over the winter, we’ve sealed the door with plastic, but have plans to replace the door with a French door once spring arrives. I personally am not a fan of sliding doors, so removing the door will make me very happy and should increase the likelihood of us using this deck (I know that sounds absurd, but we’re spoiled with having a huge stone patio on the other side of the house… don’t hate us. I can promise you there are other things this house doesn’t have, like a tub with enough depth for a bath, for one). Anyway, getting back to the matters at hand.

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Cory and I have sat down a dozen times to sketch up the plans for the window seat (over dinner, at the bar, while on the train…), where I have a vision for the aesthetics of the seat and he’s also working out the most efficient way to funnel the heat from the radiator into the room from the interior of the window seat. He also figured out how we can install an outlet behind the seat to power two plug in library sconces, so I’m sourcing those this week.

We’re about halfway through painting the million windows in the room bright white, and already they’re looking much better. Apparently Anderson Windows’ version of white is called Alabaster, and it’s not white but a dirty looking cream colour, so paint is a must in here. I debated painting the mullions of the windows black, as I have planned in the rest of the house, but these double paned windows have inset millens that are white, so it wasn’t an option.

On the decor front, we sourced a rattan chair off Craigslist with a cushion in dire need of reupholstering, so I’m ordering a bunch of fabric samples for the chair, plus pillows and the window seat cushion. All in all, there’s a ton of sewing in our future.

On Sunday, we moved all the furniture that’s staying in the room back into the space and found new homes for all the stuff that formerly lived in the sunroom in its former state as a storage unit. I feel like we can finally relax again now that we’ve reclaimed our main floor.

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Looking back on what’s still remaining on the to-do list:

  • Finish installing the edge tiles (two of the boxes of black tiles that we received had bent corners, so they need to be exchanged)
  • Install baseboards
  • Paint the radiator covers
  • Finish painting the windows
  • Order and install new flushmount ceiling fixtures
  • Swap out the outlet covers
  • Build a radiator window seat and sew a matching cushion (more details forthcoming on this)
  • And then it’s decor: source a rattan hanging chair, two rugs, hang some art
  • Eventually we want to replace the sliding door, with a much more attractive French Door, but that won’t be until the spring

Projects on deck for 2017

Now that we’re feeling pretty settled in our house, and we’ve been here officially four months, I wanted to lay out the projects we’re prioritizing for the rest of the year. We may not get to everything, and our priorities may shift, but I do want to set some goals:

1. Finish the guest bedroom

We have a June deadline for this room (promised my mom and dad they’d have somewhere to sleep when they’re in town) and BIG plans that I can’t wait to share. I know we naively started the One Room Challenge on this room just after moving, but there was just no way we could prioritize the room in the way that we needed to. So alas, it’s at the top of the list for real this time.

2. The sunroom (phase 1)

I shared my inspiration for this space earlier this month. We’re making some temporary updates so the room can be functional space for us until we decide structurally what we’re doing with the space.

3. The guest bathroom

I did a quick lite makeover of this room before our housewarming party, but we have plans to gut the entire space to make a modern and fresh bathroom that makes us excited to have friends and family stay over

4. Replacing the main beam

This is a boring but necessary one. We have a wooden main beam that spans under the original part of the house (entryway, kitchen, entry seating area) that is totally stable and was to code when the house was built in 1940 but is no longer up to today’s standards. So we’re planning on upgrading to a steel beam and replacing the joists so that we have a 100% solid foundation for the future. I’m a firm believer in making sure the foundation and base is solid to ensure all the future work we do can be perfect and last indefinitely.

5. Designing our outdoor patio

This house is blessed with two outdoor decks/patios and one of the things that attracted us to our town is the coastal, outdoor vibe. So we’re so excited to have a very large and recently installed stone patio to use daily during the summer. Out here, we’re going to be putting in a barbecue, a dining area and a seating area.

6. Miscellaneous projects

Widening the doorway from the front hallway to the living room, hanging window coverings, painting the windows, upgrading our exterior lighting, recovering our brass dining chairs, creating a storage solution for our coat closet, fencing off the propane tank in our backyard, etc.

And on the ‘if we get to it list’ (but likely the 2018 project list)

7. Creating a master suite

Our bedroom is huge and is one of the only houses we looked at that had both a master bath and walk in closet. We know we need to gut both spaces to create a much more functional bathroom with a double vanity, stand up shower and fingers-crossed, a soaker tub, in addition to a more functional and organized closet. The challenge for us is nailing the right floor plan, since we can steal some space from the oversized bedroom. We know that if we ever want to sell the house, this is going to be a major selling point and we should want to maximize it as much as possible and that’s contingent on a really effective floor plan.

8. Decorating my office

This shouldn’t be too hard, just painting the walls, figuring out a floor plan that works and swapping out hardware. This could happen in 2017, but isn’t a top priority.

9. The laundry room

We have a small laundry room tucked off our built in pantry but I was horrified to discover that the room isn’t insulated. So like we try to set foot in there as little as possible and end up hauling the clean clothes through the kitchen and into the living room  in order to fold them. Not ideal. Getting this room warm (or at the very least less cold) and looking chic would make me very happy.

Wish us luck! Can’t wait to see how much of this list we can accomplish over the next 11 months.

Eclectic Black & White Bathroom: Before & After

And just like that, the first room in our house is done. Well, at least for now. Backing it up, as I wrote about previously, this bathroom is on our main floor and is the one most frequently used by guests, so I wanted it to make a strong impression that was true to our style.

We started out with a slightly sad butter yellow room with dingy board and batten, an old builder grade vanity, mirror and light fixtures. I have a whole post dedicated to the before photos over here, but I’m sharing a few here to set the tone.

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And then I set forth the design plan, which leaned heavily on high contrast black walls with white board and batten, a warm brass mirror and faucet and a high-gloss black vanity. I also incorporated some natural materials, like a bamboo wastebasket and wood tray to bring warmth and character to the space.

Looking at the design plan, I’d say that the final room definitely stayed true to the plan.

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A few small things that changed: I ended up going with a slightly different Schoolhouse Electric sconce with an articulating arm in order to amp up the drama and make the most of the vertical space visually.

And here are the after photos.

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So. Much. Better.

I’m going to do a full post on the faux Roman shades, because they were definitely an exercise in nailing the look I wanted in a creative way without spending nearly as much as I should have for a Roman shade in a stunning designer fabric.

I also wanted to speak to the black walls – they’re dramatic and totally unexpected, and I’m completely obsessed with them. But, we definitely get less light into the room now with fewer reflective surfaces. It doesn’t bother me at all, because this is a bathroom, not a space we’re constantly using, but I do think I would hesitate to go super dark in a frequently used space in the house in the future.

And the sources:

Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Black Magic in Semi Gloss

Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White in Semi Gloss

Vanity Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance in Black

Lucite Vanity Knobs: Etsy

Brass Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Mirror: Restoration Hardware (found at the outlet)

Brass Faucet: Harrison Brassworks (sourced off Craigslist)

Towel Ring: Vintage

Monogrammed Hand Towel: Pottery Barn

Persian Rug: Vintage from my fave rug shop on ebay

Flushmount Light Fixture: Pottery Barn

Brass Toilet Flush: Amazon

Wastebasket: Homegoods

Art Print: Mai Autumn

Frame: Framebridge

Toilet Paper Holder: Anthropologie

Shower Curtain Rod: Overstock

Shower Curtain Rings: Homegoods

Shower Curtain: Pottery Barn

Roman Shade Fabric: Schumacher Zimba in Charcoal

It’s funny, in looking over the list of sources, I realize a lot of pieces came from Pottery Barn. And yet, to me, this room doesn’t look like Pottery Barn. It’s a nice reminder of how you can make individual pieces your own in a space that mixes and matches both new and vintage and different retail shops. It’s ALL about the mix to make a style feel unique to your style and like it represents your own personality.

Dining Room: Before and After

For a while, I believed that a large cowhide rug was the missing piece in our dining room. I scoured the internet for black and white salt and pepper cowhides that would be large enough to make an impact in the space, inspired by the below image. Yes, those are the same dining chairs, and the designer, Elizabeth Mollen of Slate Interiors in Nashville is a genius.

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Source: Lonny Magazine

But when we ordered an XXL cowhide, it just felt too diminutive in the space, so I started to consider other options. After some online inspiration hunting, I realized I already knew what the perfect rug would be: the Ikea Stockholm black and white striped rug. This rug is a gem with a fabulous price tag ($300) for an 8×12 wool rug, which is pretty much unheard of. Some quick searching for how the rug worked in high-end spaces sold me immediately.

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Source: Rebekah Gainsley 

Source: Unknown

So, here’s the thing, Ikea furniture and accessories are the top items on Craigslist, so while the rug is a steal new, I knew I could do better used. I didn’t have to wait long for the rug to pop up on Craigslist for $75, so as of last week, our dining room is looking much closer to ‘done’. The bold graphic stripes pack a huge punch in the room and play SO nicely with the David Hicks La Fiorentina fabric of our dining chairs. That pattern mix makes my heart so happy.

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The finishing touches for this room are roman shades for the windows and reupholstering the Milo Baughman brass cantilever dining chairs.

And because everyone loves a good before and after, let’s throw it back to move-in day:

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And to October, before we had painted the walls or hung the West Elm waterfall chandelier.

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We’ve come a LONG way in a few short months, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this room is shaping up.

 

Art that matters

Moving from an apartment into a house with 3x the square footage, there are a lot of walls to fill. I have, however, over the years started to become more particular about the quality and meaning behind the pieces I bring into my home (and my wardrobe). Like many, I buy into the movement toward fewer, better things and want to make sure that I’m investing in pieces that I can hold onto for a long time.

So, when it came time for my bridal shower over the summer, I was extremely reticent about having a standard bridal shower, where you’re gifted lots of stuff for your home. While, I know it works for many brides, we were in a position where we already had a fully stocked kitchen, hadn’t yet made an offer on a house and didn’t want to transport lots of stuff from Toronto to Connecticut. So, I put forth the idea of my friends and family contributing to a piece of art by a Canadian artist, that Cory and I could cherish forever. While it’s not right for everyone, it worked for us tremendously well.

When it came time to choosing the art, I narrowed in on Zoe Pawlak, a painter from Montreal. I’d seen her work in design publications that I follow and was always transfixed by the soothing yet dynamic abstract compositions. Not only did I get to fulfill a bucket-list item of commissioning a painting, we also now have the most beautiful painting hanging in our dining room. Every day, I have an opportunity to think about my loving family and friends just north of the border. And, I know we invested in a piece of art that will stay will us infinitely longer than linens or appliances.

I can’t express enough how much I love this piece of art.

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The Perfect Brass Sconces

As a follow-up to this post, we now have sconces and they’re magical! After two months of staring at exposed junction boxes and electrical cables, our new brass sconces are a welcome sight. After much debate, we ended up going with the Vivianne Sconce from TripleSevenHome on Etsy. These sconces checked all the boxes: pretty brass finish, modern meets traditional in design and very easy on the wallet. We got them installed with only a few minor headaches, all related to poorly installed junction boxes in our house (lame, but Cory engineered it, as he does).

Since we’re in an old house in which few things are square, we were meticulous in using a level at every step in the installation process to ensure they were 100% level and even with one another.

Since these sconces are handmade in Florida, there was definitely some added anticipation and waiting time from when we placed our order in late November to when they arrived on our doorstep on Friday, but it was absolutely worth the wait.

And now for the photos:

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And a reminder of how far we’ve come with this entryway nook:

 

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It’s so. much. better. And pretty awesome to see my vision come to life in just a few short months.

The only downside to these sconces is that I had to shuffle some lamps around to keep it from getting monotonous with the brass base and black shade, so my architectural vintage brass lamp has a new home in the living room.

Sunroom Inspiration

Our house has mostly an open floor plan, and will be even more open when we take the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room. But, we do have a sunroom that runs the width of the house, alongside the dining room and living room. This room has been a challenge for me, but I’m determined to make it into usable space for us. The room is long and narrow (8″ x 26″), has incredible sunlight with 3 walls of windows but also has a disproportionate number of radiators and baseboard heaters plus a depressingly low ceiling.

The long-term plan is to open up the sunroom into the living room and dining room, but due to the expense of the work that would need to be done to make that happen, we’re putting that on the back-burner for at least another year. So, whatever we do now needs to be on the cheap, but also needs to flow well from the rest of our house and create an incremental space for us to use, especially during the morning when the sunlight is fantastic.

I started gathering inspiration photos for the room, where the vibe I’m going for is, as always, glam meets eclectic, but with a heavy dose of bohemian coziness. You should feel like you can kick back and enjoy the brilliant light with lots of warm textures.

One thing we’ve already decided on is that we’re going to be ripping up our carpet and laying black and white vinyl tiles. Originally, I was going to do a similar harlequin pattern to what Brady Tolbert did in his rental kitchen, below, but I think that stripes across the room will be more interesting since the space is so long and narrow. But I’m going to try both pattern out before adhering them and will make a call based on what works best in the space.

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Beyond that, I’d love to bring in another seating area with a settee or daybed you can curl up on and read a book, a hanging chair and lots of plants. We’re also going to be using our newest Milo Baughman brass etagere as a bar space.

And for some visual inspiration:

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Source: unknown

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Source: Apartment Therapy

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Source: Pencil & Paper Co.

 

 

What I’m crushing on: Mirrored Cube Side Tables

I love the now ubiquitous mirrored side tables and dressers, but always felt like they were a bit too ornate for my style in our house (plus my husband has some sort of vendetta against them). So when I stumbled across the mirrored cube side table, I felt like I’d found my mirrored furniture soulmate – these tables are super sleek without any knobs or drawers but offer that luxe, glam mirrored look. I can’t wait to order a pair for our guest bedroom (yes, we’re working on that room again – an update is upcoming). In the guest bedroom, our side tables don’t need to offer any real storage and just need to be a place for some fresh flowers, inspiring books, a ring dish and a carafe of water. We’re going to be installing sconces, so we don’t need real estate on top of the tables for lamps (huzzah!).

But look how chic these cubed tables are:

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Source: The Decorista

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Source: Wendy Labrum Interiors

And I’ve even found a pretty great looking one on Amazon for a totally reasonable price.

 

Easy DIY Polaroid Art

So I accidentally took a month-long break from this blog, whoops! Surprisingly, it’s not because we didn’t get lots accomplished (we did), but mainly because nothing feels quite done yet, since we have lots of light fixtures on order that have yet to arrive and have a few finishing touches remaining on our other projects.

For our wedding, we made the last minute decision to pick up two Instax Mini cameras and encourage guests to snap themselves (or other guests). At some point in the evening, I got my hands on one of the cameras and selfies with most of our guests ensued. Instead of stowing the photos away in a guest book, I liberated the photos. One evening I did a quick art DIY and framed them so we can be reminded of our wedding daily and have a conversation piece for guests when they come over.

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What you’ll need:

  • Assortment of polaroid mini photos
  • IKEA Ribba Frame
  • White poster board
  • Double-sided tape
  • Cardboard

Step 1:

Lay out your photos in a grid on a table and visualize how they’re going to layout in the frame.

Step 2:

Cut the poster board to size, so it covers the entire inside of the frame.

Step 3:

Cut cardboard down into roughly 1×1 squares.

Step 4:

Mount your polaroids to the cardboard squares with double-sided tape and then mount the cardboard to the poster board so all your photos are elevated. I wanted to accentuate each polaroid by floating them on the cardboard to get them closer to the glass in the frame.

Step 5:

Close up your frame and hang on your wall. Voila, you have sentimental but cool art!

In an effort to travel lighter, on our most recent trip to Miami, I left my DSLR at home and just brought one of the polaroid cameras. It made documenting the trip more fun and interactive for my family (there’s nothing like huddling around together waiting to see how a photo came out). I’m planning on mounting them in a smaller IKEA Ribba frame using this technique with the photos we took, so we always have a reminder of the vacation.

The perfect shade of grey

The perfect shade of grey.

When we moved into our house I knew that our walls needed to be repainted grey in our living room / dining room / entryway. It seemed simple: pick a light grey shade and commence painting. If only.

I started out by identifying the conditions unique to our space:

  1. The room is very large (~650 sq. feet), so we needed to go with a neutral colour that could compliment a lot of different defined spaces.
  2. This room is not a normal rectangular shape, it’s an L-shape with so many weird jut-ins. There are 10 corners, and I’ll get to why that matters in a moment.
  3. We’re planning on taking down the wall between the dining room and the kitchen in the spring, so the paint colour needs to work with the heavy wood tones in there too.
  4. We have pretty ceiling moulding and trim around our doors and windows and I didn’t want them to recede if we went with too light a wall colour.
  5. The room gets both northern and southern light, not so much eastern or western light.
  6. The hardwood floors can read a bit orange-y, so I wanted a cool tone that would offset the warmth they bring into the space. I also have a preference for warm metals (aka brass), so a cool tone was needed to make them pop.

So, given all of the above, I knew I was on the hunt for a light, but not too light, shade of grey.

Getting back to why the corners matter, grey (and all non-white colours) reflect less light than white, so when you look at the corners in a grey room, they’ll be more defined than those in  a white room. The darker the shade, the more contrast you’re going to see in the room. In a room with 10 corners, you really want to downplay all that chaos, so painting the walls as light as possible will help draw the attention away from all the weird dimension in the room.

And on to the actual paint selection process:

I started out by researching grey rooms on my favourite design sites (Domino, Lonny, Design Sponge), on Instagram and Pinterest. As soon as I identified a colour, I would Google it and see how it looked in different spaces. Colours that made the shortlist:

Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore
Gray Cloud by Benjamin Moore
Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore
Cornforth White by Farrow and Ball
Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore

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From top to bottom: BM Paper White, BM Gray Owl, F&B Cornforth White, BM Stonington Gray

I then painted those swatches on my wall and quickly realized that next to one another you can see immediately the undertones. Some veered too purple, others too blue and some too creamy. I really thought Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White was going to be the winner that I had to beat, but it was just too brown-purple on our walls. Stonington Gray was the closest in reading as a true gray, but it was too dark for our space.  My backup plan, if we couldn’t find the right shade was to have the paint store cut Stonington Gray with white to lighten it up, but I was worried about inconsistency from can to can.

I then went back again to Benjamin Moore with some new colours in mind and landed on Paper White. Once I got the samples up on all our walls, I knew it was the winner. It was by far the brightest and closest to white, but the grey was present enough to allow the white trim-work to pop. So, I proceeded to paint giant swatches because I couldn’t get enough of it. When my husband got home from hockey that night, I asked him what he thought, to which he responded with “it’s the first sample that looks like grey”. Done and done.

Just a note, paint colours look so different in everyone’s room. Some of the ones I thought would win are highly recommended by designers I admire (Emily Henderson loves BM Grey Owl, Danielle Moss has used Cornforth White in several apartments), and the colour will look great in some rooms but completely wrong in others. It’s 100% unique to every space, which is what makes picking the right colour so challenging.

We set aside our Thanksgiving long weekend to paint the room, don’t worry we still made it to Thanksgiving dinner. I’m so obsessed with the new colour – it reminds me of a chic Parisian apartment and looks great as the light changes through the day. We also painted our ceiling and trim Decorator’s White, so everything is feeling especially fresh. We’ve also swapped out all our outlets and switches for new bright white ones, so the room feels totally fresh.

And for some side by side shots:

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