{inspired} North Portland

While I live in (and LOVE) the city of Portland, like a lot of larger cities, it is divided into incredibly distinct neighborhoods. Each neighborhood within the city has it's own unique feel, crowd, activities .... it's own culture, if you will. We happen to live in North Portland. NoPo, to the locals. With a small, private, upscale college a quarter-mile from our house one direction, and one of the largest city-planned low-income housing projects a quarter-mile from our house in a different direction, NoPo is an incredibly diverse, quirky and interesting place to live. So, when Kate at Centsational Girl announced her *favorite things in your town*  link party, I thought it'd be a great opportunity to show you around and share with all YOU what I LOVE about my 'hood. Then I realized it would also be perfect for Cat, of Budget Blonde's, *this is {wherever}* party!

Here are my top 10 favorite reasons I love NoPo:

Paul Bunyon Stands Guard.
How can a neighborhood NOT be awesome with this guy standing guard? Measuring in at 31 feet tall, Paul Bunyon was constructed in NoPo in 1959 to commemorate Oregon's centennial. I walk past him every morning on my way to catch the train for work.

Parks Galore!
No really. There are so many awesome parks in NoPo. In fact, there are at least six within a 5 -7 minute bike ride. I have favorites depending on what I want to do: picnic, listen to live music, walk friends dogs and read.

The Sidewalks Tell Stories.
Most namely, the year they were built. It's hard to see in this picture, but on the bottom right, 1912 is etched into the sidewalk. This is completely common in our neighborhood, and it's fun to check the street years on evening walks.

The Gorgeous St. Johns Bridge.
Built in 1931, the bridge spans 2,067 ft. When it was built, it was had the tallest clearance in the nation: 205 ft. It's just one of the ways to enter the neighborhood, but it's the most dramatic, and by far my favorite.

Even the Icons Have Personality.
There are quite a few different bike lane icons in NoPo, and they're all hilarious. And, completely random and quirky. Love. 

Proximity to One of the Nation's Largest Urban Parks.
Stretching for eight miles through Portland, Forest Park is just outside of NoPo, and is full of awesome trails. It was actually planned by Olmstead, the same guy who designed Central Park. We LOVE spending afternoons wandering through here.

Best. Library Ever.
I know. A library isn't unique to my neighborhood. But, I run into someone I know every time I visit and that is something I find unique and awesome. Besides, aren't libraries just great?

Great Independent Cafes.
Yes we have a Starbucks. Obviously. But, there's a large number of small independent cafes that are just adorable. They serve great drinks, are super cozy and let you sit for hours. I love meeting friends and chatting it up in them.

Places to Tie Up Your Horse.
Okay, no one rides a horse here anymore, BUT, you can still find these horse ties on some of the older sidewalks. And, if you're lucky, you'll find a miniature horse tied up to it as well :).

I hope you enjoyed the brief glimpse into my neighborhood! Make sure you head over to Centsational Girl and Budget Blonde to check out what others love about their towns! And, just for kicks, what's one of your favorite things about your town/city/neighborhood?


{inspired} commodore hotel

Happy Monday friends! Did you all have a great weekend? It was our first weekend at home in quite a few weeks, so I took the opportunity to get some painting done: back porch, house trim, garage, frames. By late yesterday afternoon my pinky finger was cramping around the paint brush, but I got SO MUCH DONE! :) This time of year I start get panicked about how much time I'll have left to get *outdoor* projects done before the weather turns crummy. It's like a mad dash before the rains start for the rest of the fall/winter!

But enough about painting. We have plenty of time to talk about that later. Today, let's talk about inspiration in the form of the Commodore Hotel. Last week I mentioned the Commodore when I shared our recent trip to Astoria with you. We stayed there, and I'm so in love with design, so I thought we'd kick the week off with a quick tour.

The original hotel closed in 1965. The building was purchased in 2007 and restored with both attention to historic detail and a wonderfully updated, contemporary feel. The outside showcases the beautiful historic building. I love the two rocking chairs out front. It was such a cozy place to relax for a few minutes.

The hotel is connected to a cafe, and this is the view from the cafe into the lobby. LOVE the dark walls and the lobby font.

Friends, the lobby is amazing. It isn't big by any stretch, but it's full of quirky, fun, inviting decor. There's plenty of places to sit, a nice fireplace and a great bookcase.

Let's take a closer look at that incredible bookcase. SO MUCH TEXTURE. There are so many gorgeous books, and I love that they have them facing both ways. Pair that with great antiques and the ends of rolled up paper, this bookcase is an amazing focal point for the lobby.

The rooms are by no means fancy, but they were so comfortable. Usually I shy away from wood windows, but I LOVE the dark wood on these. It makes them a very appropriate feature in the room, especially paired with the mostly-white/light colored furnishings. Oh and that orange coffee table? You better believe that MADE the room for me :). It's a great pop of color.

The all white bed was so crisp and clean and inviting. Oh, and it was comfortable too :).

The bathrooms are super white with lots of great white tile and white and gray granite. I love this look in a bathroom. Especially a hotel bathroom. It feels so luxorious.

 Orange door with a fire escape info painted on the window? YES.

Hallway light. Gorgeous detail.

The interior was designed by Andee Hess' Portland interior design company Osmose. She is the genius behind this gorgeous kitchen:

Photos via me, Commodore Hotel, Remodelista and Dwell.

What do you think of the hotel? And, what's a great hotel that you stayed in recently? Or what's a hotel that you dream of staying in someday? We'd all love to hear! :)


{summer of fun} Astoria

To belatedly celebrate our birthdays, Chris and I fled the city and headed to a small coastal town at the very northern tip of Oregon. It's a town that's had a significant impact on both the nation's past and MY past. The spot? Astoria, Oregon. Have you heard of it? Nationally, it's significant because it's where Lewis and Clark wintered when they were here. It's also the first settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Personally, it's significant because it's where my parents met and where I was born! :)  My parent's moved up to the Portland area when I was really little, but my mom's entire family still lives there, so it's not like it's been 30 years since I visited (I mean 20. Er, yeah, 20 years ;). Growing up I spent quite a bit of time there, especially in the summers.  But these days I usually go for a day, and usually on National Holidays when everything is closed. Honestly, I've always taken the town for granted and never taken the time to explore.

The last couple times I've driven through town I noticed there are a lot cool hotels, restaurants and shops popping up. So Chris and I played tourists for a weekend. We spent a couple days enjoying the great restaurants, relaxing and poking around in the cute little shops. Its was lovely.

The town sits right at the mouth of where the Columbia River meets the Pacific. Historically, it's a town that grew from the fishing industry. My mom even worked in a cannery during her summers growing up. And yes, that meant I had no sympathy when it came to my summer jobs ;).

The town is charming and people are working hard to restore its historic buildings, instead of tearing them down, which I love. It makes for a town full of beautiful architecture surrounded by amazing land and water. Below are a few snapshots of our adventures I thought you'd enjoy.

We stayed in the Commodore Hotel, outside pictured above. Monday I'll share with a little more about the hotel, because it is one of the coolest hotels I've ever stayed in and the decor is AMAZING. 

And with that, I hope you have an FABULOUS weekend! We're having stay-at-home work weekend. Fingers crossed that I'll have some great *after* photos to share with you next week.


{create} fabric solutions + a fun new blog feature

Good morning friends! I have TWO awesome things to share with you today.

The first is that you'll find my post for the day up at The Borrowed Abode. Do you know Jane's blog? It is full of great decorating and organizational tips. And, do you remember when I teased you a with this picture?

Well, if you head over to Jane's blog now you'll see what on earth that actually is! :)

Second on the list of awesome today ... do you notice anything different about my blog? Here's a photo to help:

Look closer, because I now have a customized favicon!

Let's zoom in ...

Isn't it so cool? It's like the jewelry for an outfit ... a little extra bling that is just so much fun. My friend Lauren, from Myers Maison and LrnM Design designed them. And guess what? She can design them for you too! (And, she's not paying me to say this :) I just really like her AND my new favicon! :)She has a really awesome design business and part of that is designing custom favicons. And while you're over there digging around, make sure you check out her shop. I love her *this is only a test* print. So awesome.

So remember, there are two places you need to visit today. 1. The Borrowed Abode. 2. LrnM Design. Have fun, and make sure to report back on all the great things you discover.

**Let's not count how many times I've said awesome in this post. Clearly, I'm not having creative word day. Where's my thesaurus?? :)


{renovate} high gloss doors

Happy Monday, my friends! Did you all have a great weekend? We went on a completely lovely adventure ... more on that later this week. Today, I'm going to follow up my post a couple weeks ago about what color to paint our back doors (you can read the original post here).

When we last left off, I'd brought home the above paint samples to try on the two doors in our screened back porch. Even when I painted samples, though, I couldn't decide. So I opened up the vote to all you! And, you didn't disappoint. When all was said and done, the votes came down to a near tie between black and navy. I was still stuck. Black seemed just a little too harsh, but navy didn't seem quite right either.

It was with that attitude that I found myself at Ace Hardware looking at Benjamin Moore paint. While looking through the paints, I had a brilliant idea to with black, but go one shade down the color chart from the blackest-black so it didn't feel too harsh. I decided this was the perfect compromise for my indecisiveness, and chose Benjamin Moore's Black Ink. I ignored by better sense and didn't get a paint sampler, but instead ordered a quart in high gloss. The room is so rustic that I wanted the doors to really make a bold, glossy, sleek statement. 

When I started painting I discovered two things I was NOT anticipating: Black Ink reads as NAVY, and high gloss paint is REALLY hard to work with.

There's a reason people *sample* paint before committing. It saves you from discoveries such as this! But I surprised myself in that I actually kind of liked it. Chris likes it. My mom (who is awesome at this type of thing) came over and LOVES it. I sat with it for a couple days and I think it'll work well. So for now, we have navy doors! :)

But that wasn't the end of the drama. As I mentioned, high gloss is really hard to paint with. No matter how thin my coats were and how long I waited in between for them to dry, I still had runners (above, GRRRR), and the sheen was just off, see below. I couldn't get it to be a true gloss, it was dull and full of brush marks in a lot of places.

This weekend I set out to fix this problem. I've read about Floetrol, the paint additive, in a number of places and have been wanting to try it for awhile. Basically Floetrol is a paint additive that lengthens the drying time, and decreases paint strokes. You guys, this stuff is magical! First, I sanded the doors down, then I added Floetrol to my quart of black navy paint and painted two additional coats on the doors. It made such a huge difference. The doors are glossy and sleek, and a great contrast to the rustic walls of the room.

I learned a lot from this little experience, and I thought I'd pass my new-found high-gloss paint *wisdom*.

Painting with high gloss paint:
  1. Make sure your surface is incredibly clean, your holes are filled and the surface is as flat as can be. Gloss paint will amplify and highlight any marks on the surface.
  2. Add Floetrol to your chosen paint. Make sure you read the directions on the back to determine how much you'll need.
  3. Use a really awesome brush. Actually, this is a good tip for anytime you're painting. Good brushes make all the difference. We use Purdy.
  4. Paint in thin, even coats. Even if you have to paint a lot of coats. These doors took FIVE coats.
  5. Lightly sand between coats. This will eliminate any remaining brush stroke lines.
  6. Let each coat dry really well before painting the next coat.
These tips would really work for painting any surface, with any type of paint. But they're especially important for high gloss because of its finicky nature.

Want to see the other fun addition to the space?

On our weekend adventure we found lights! They are PERFECT for the porch, and they really make the room come together.

I am so excited for this room to be finished. We have one more major undertaking - the FLOOR! -, which we're hoping to complete this weekend (fingers crossed).

Have you guys ever tried high gloss paint? What were your results? And, more importantly, what do you think of my navy doors? :)


{create} pelmet boxes, take two

We're moving along slowly, but surely, on our office/craft room makeover. It's been awhile since I've shown you anything, so I thought today would a great day for an update.

As a reminder, here's what we started with:

 Ew. That's all.

And then we tore out the nasty carpet, covered the phlegm-toned paint with a nice greige neutral and had a completely blank canvas with which to play. (You can read all about that project here.)

Here's the mood board I created for the room. I've already shown you the painted file cabinet, the orange light, and the inspiration board I made with the orange stripey fabric. 

So, today we're going to talk about the lovely floral fabric in terms of pelmet boxes!

The brown woven blinds have hung in the room's two windows since Chris was a bachelor. Not a bad choice, husband :). But there was a weird space at the top that just looked ... amateur. My initial thought was to hang full length curtains around each window. But there were two problem with this. First, it didn't solve the weird space at the top issue. Second, there is a LOT of furniture in this TINY room. I was really worried that curtains, although beautiful, would completely overwhelm the space. That's when I came up with the pelmet box idea. I've been really happy with the box we created for our kitchen window. It add a nice dose of color, texture and interest, which is exactly what I was looking for in this room.

 Here's a glimpse of my craft space. I think the fabric adds a lovely dose of color to the neutral walls.

 And, I really like the fabric paired with the dark woven blinds.

I have one more fun project to share with you in the next couple weeks and then I'll show you the entire room. I love how this room is shaping up, and I'm super excited to share the rest with you!

But first, I'm curious. What's your go-to window treatment when curtains just WON'T work?

ps. If you want to create your own pelmet box, check out the kitchen project here.