{renovate} the living room -- how far we've come

Because it's Labor Day weekend, and most of you are probably already off having a fun long weekend, I thought we'd dig into A Home in the Making's archives and take a look at a couple before and afters. I was trying to find a couple old photos the other day and I came across our living room from late 2008 -- just after I'd moved into Chris' house. Whenever I show befores of this room, it's usually from when I'm moving in -- they're dark, there are boxes everywhere and not really a good representation of the actual *before*.

Friends, I believe these are my new *befores*. To give you some context, I'd lived there for a month or two. Long enough to paint, unpack and try to consolidate furniture, but not long enough to actually hang things on the wall, buy curtains, etc. This was the most horrible furniture arrangement -- it didn't facilitate conversation AT ALL. Nevertheless, it lasted for about a year :).

I think that if this picture illustrates anything, it's the power of a set of curtains. Wowza! You will notice though, that all the pillows are the same. Don't worry, I've taken care of that ;). I just can't take updated photos right now (ahem, kitchen remodel, ahem).

And, the other side of the room. You can see my gallery wall patiently waiting on the floor. :)

Ah yes. Much better. It looks like someone actually lives in this room! Of course, this picture is a little out of date as well ... our front door is now a very stylish and bold shade of blue!

But, all in all, it shows you how far we've come around here in the last few years. Friends, do you have a rooms that you cringe over what they looked like just a couple years ago?

I hope you all have a fantastic long weekend! I'm taking Monday off, but I'll be back next Wednesday with a kitchen update :).


{inspired} the 4 S's of photo styling

While I was experimenting with styling our piece of driftwood, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to delve into Layla's 4 S's of Styling. I briefly mentioned them in my Haven recap post back in June, and have been meaning to expand since! The background is that I attended a session at the Haven Conference that featured Layla, her husband Kevin and their friend Josh. Josh and Kevin gave a fantastic talk about photography and Layla covered styling photos. It was a fantastic session. So many notes were taken :). One of the ideas I LOVED were Layla's 4 S's: skooch it, scorch it, swap it and stamp it. Let's take a look, shall we?

Skooch it.

The idea here is that when you're styling for photos, skooch things as needed based on what they look like through the camera lens -- NOT what it looks like to your eye. You can see in the photo above that the dishes come right to the edge of the wood and create a nice triangle with the glass.

But, if you were looking at the scene with eyes only, this is how the table settings looked. To get the look I wanted in the photo I had to skooch the wood way over toward the place setting leaving a completely unnatural space in front of the other place setting. Awkward in person; beautiful in a photo.

Scorch it.

This one is so easy. Make sure that any candles in your photos are either lit .... or have at one point been lit. Lit candles make a room looked comfortable and lived in.

I didn't leave the candles lit for the photos because they're were glaring in a weird way. But you can still see that they've been lit at one point. Nice.

Swap it.

Swap it is easy too. (Actually, what am I saying .... they're all easy. That's the beauty of these 'guidelines' ;) As you're looking through the camera lens, swap out anything that doesn't seem right. I started with a grey napkin on the place settings.

But quickly swapped it out for a pink napkin to add a little more life and color to the table. For both skooch it and swap it, the point is to look through the lens and adjust accordingly. A scene or room may look much different from the lens that in person and skooching and swapping allow you to create a beautiful, pulled together, vibrant and full-of-life photo.

Stamp it.

Lastly, in the age of Pinterest, make sure you set up at least one picture with a stamp in mind. A spot for you to label the photo so it's easily pinnable and identifiable on Pinterest.

Bonus photo tip.

One of the tips that stood out the most to me, beyond the 4 S's, was to layer photos with color to create depth. You can see in the photo above that I added a green chair so your eye doesn't come to a crashing halt at the grey brick wall.

To take it a step further, I added a bright green letter behind the chair. It doesn't draw attention to itself, but simply creates a little more depth in this scene. This is especially a good tip in full room photo. Add a touch of color across the room from the photos focal point to draw the eye deeper into the picture. Isn't that a GREAT tip?

Friends I hope this gives you some ideas for photo styling. Which tip resonates the most with you? Do you have a great photo styling tip? Please share in the comments!


{inspired} driftwood: styled

Happy Monday friends! I wanted to update you on that gorgeous piece of driftwood I snagged on my Salmon River trip this summer. When I threw out the question - what on earth do I do with this?? - the majority of you agreed that it should either go on the wall or as part of a table setting. I love both these ideas! But if I'm being honest, getting things on the wall in our house is a multiple-month process. So, while I'm sure it'll end up on a wall someday, let's take a look at is in it's current state - as a centerpiece on our back porch farm table.

First, I brought in an airplant to add a little life. Second, I set it atop a cute piece of fabric. Simple and cute centerpiece.

See? The air plant fits perfectly in this little hole!

I love the shape and texture of the airplant. It's a airplant Xerographica Tillandsia and it came from The Fallen Tree. Now, let's see if I can keep it alive -- I'm not sure there's enough light in the back porch. Fingers crossed ;).

This weekend I also created a small table setting to see how it would look as part of an evening of entertaining. I pulled together a couple of nature-inspired melamine plates, topped with our everyday white dishes, grey napkins, and a leafy sprig from our yard. 

But quickly switched to a pink napkin, which adds a nice pop of color. 

All in all, I'm really excited about the addition of this piece of driftwood to our back porch :)


{renovate} cabinets and counters and ovens, oh my!

Friends! How has it been over a MONTH since we've talked kitchen remodel? You are long overdue for an update. When we last left off, we were busy painting walls and assembling cabinets. Well, we took some time off in there to go rafting and celebrate our birthdays, but we have made some solid progress.

Look! It's starting to look like a real, live kitchen! We actually changed our plan-of-attack a couple weeks ago. Instead of installing all the cabinets (wall + island) at once, we're going to finish the wall side and then move onto the island. There were some spacing issues, and when it came right down to it, I really want my sink back! 

So at this point, and from this angle, the kitchen pretty much looks exactly like it did before the renovation. But as long as it looks like a kitchen at all, I'm a happy camper.

Let's take a closer look.

Kitchen Cabinets.

The majority of the cabinets are in (!). We chose the Adel cabinets from IKEA and so far I'm loving them. I'm working on a post detailing why we chose IKEA cabinets and the pros and cons that we've learned from installing them, so stay tuned. 

Customizing IKEA cabinets.

The only weird thing about this style (or maybe all IKEA cabinets? I don't know), is they aren't meant to reach the ceiling. Say, what?

Technically, this is finished. I do not love this look. So, we'll be adding moulding, which will be the same moulding we install all around the entire room.

The other customization is the cabinet bases. IKEA provides standard legs, which are then covered to look like a base.

One of the very few requests Chris had for this kitchen would be that the cabinets were a little higher than standard. Friends, he's crazy tall and working at a normal size counter is hard on his back! (And yes, that makes him sound like he's 80. He's not ;) So our cabinets are actually installed on a 5.5 inch base, instead of a 4 (ish) inch base.

Lesson. Learned.

Talk about one step forward, two steps back. When we had the drywallers come, we forgot that we were installing a backsplash. So, we had drywall where the backsplash is going. Which, as I'm sure you know, is a big no. We cut out the drywall and retro-fitted a piece of concrete board.

 Sneak peek at our tile!

We can cook now.

Our oven and stove are installed. And, they work! This is completely exciting for two reasons. First, I haven't had a microwave in 5 years. Not that I use it all that much, but still nice to have. Second, the obvious, I CAN COOK! And yes, they've both been used a number of times. Pretty much just cuz I can :).


It's installed. It's sealed. It's ready for sink installation! :) On the wall side we chose to go with an IKEA oak butcher block (the island will be different ... I know, I'm keeping you in suspense!). I am so in love. It's simple, but I know it'll add so much warm to the kitchen -- especially when paired against our tile backsplash.

Do you guys want to see a really fun "sneak peek" type of photo?

We set the sink in last weekend to make sure that it fits. And, I might have squealed a little. I was pretty frustrated with our {lack of} progress over the end of July/beginning of August, so it's almost a relief to see major things happening again. 

And, on an unrelated note, just in case you were questioning our appliance-buying skills -- our dishwasher won't always be black. We have an insert that will make it look like one of the cabinets :).

Happy friday friends! Hope you all have a great weekend :)


{renovate} backporch lighting

When I posted our backporch makeover last week the most commented on feature was our lights! So, let's take a closer look at them, shall we?

{That mess in the background? Welcome to life during a remodel ;)}

Let me preface this by saying - lights for the backporch weren't even on my radar. My plan a for lighting in the space was twinkle lights. But when we went to Astoria last summer for our birthdays, we came across the most charming architectural salvage store, Astoria Vintage Hardware, which also sells amazing upholstery fabrics and some other new items. And, that's where I found the lights. I totally had a gut feeling about them, and we brought them home with us without having a place to put them. Friends, for us, this is living on the edge. As a general rule, we don't make home purchases without a specific use or place in mind for the item. But I knew they were worth the risk.

On the drive home, I was imagining them in the kitchen. But as it turns out, they were destined for the back porch, because they are perfect for that space.

Here's what they looked like at first. But, we thought they needed something a little sturdier to make them seem more like a fixture.

So Chris built this awesome wood fixture that the lights hang through.  I love this in ways I can't even begin to explain. It ties the lights together, it's dark stain is an awesome feature in the very white room, it compliments the farm table, it hides all the cords (functional!) and my awesome husband built it, so you know, I'm biased :).

As you can see, we have pretty small bulbs in there. This actually creates the perfect evening lighting situation. Not too dark, not too bright. Perfect for the dinner parties we like to throw in the space.

So, if I were writing this up last month, this would be the end. The only place I'd ever seen these lights were these two, in that one little store, in that one little tiny town on the Oregon coast. 

Randomly though, I ran across them online the other day (!). So, if you love them, you can find them here

Friends, I'm curious to hear. What's something that you purchased without having a "spot" in mind -- you just knew you loved it??


{inspired} Mood Board Monday

Happy Monday friends!

I'm so bummed I couldn't post on friday -- especially after I was trying to hard to get back into the swing of things. But a food poisoning + downed Internet combo did me in at the end of the week. BUT, food poisoning is GONE (thank goodness!) and the Internet is fixed, so I'm back with one of my favorite -- Mood Board Monday

Do you guys know why I love this link party so much? It always, always, pushes me out of my comfort zone, design-wise. This month our lovely host, Sarah, chose a few pairs of John Robshaw fabrics to design a room around. I think John Robshaw fabrics are beautiful, but they aren't fabrics/patterns I've ever thought of using in my own home. It was fun - and hard! - to complete this challenge, but as always, I'm so glad I did!

I've been dreaming of outdoor rooms lately. While I LOVE our backporch and the way we're choosing to use it, I really want to create a space to lounge outside. It's hard to lounge at a dining room table :). So for this Mood Board Monday, I created an outdoor living room space.

1. First, I started with a large sectional sofa. Don't those thick cushions look so comfy?! I also love the black wicker. It is a nice background to the fun bright cushion colors.
2. I would also add into two big cozy chairs to complete a seating arrangement.
3. To add a little color - and block the sun - I've added a huge umbrella. Custom-made with John Robshaw Jajam Brinjal fabric.
4. Pillows! They add so much life to this space! There's a John Robshaw Jajam Brinjal (to complement the umbrella) and Algiers Lotus fabrics. There's a black and white fabric, to add a graphic punch, and a lovely dot pillow as well.
5. The coffee table in the space doubles as an outdoor fireplace! This might be my favorite part -- you can turn it on when the weather cools and it creates light, ambiance and heat. Plus, you can roast s'mores! :)
6. Potted plants really help bridge the connection between the yard and the outdoor space.
7. A small side table is great for drinks, plant and candles.
8. A large basket holds a number of blankets to cuddle up in. Here I've chosen a purple, grey striped and cream throw.
9. Lastly, what outdoor space is complete without twinkle lights? :)


{inspire} driftwood and souvenirs

I haven't yet shown you the souvenir that came home with me from the Salmon River. It's more unique and um, natural, than most souvenirs :).

One of the most beautiful pieces of driftwood I've ever seen. We were sitting around one more waiting for our guides to pack up (yeah, it was a tough trip ;), when I spied this beauty under a nearby tree. You guys, it's so smooth. And has so much character! I couldn't leave it behind. So it spent the next three days securely traveling down river in my day dry bag :).

I feel like every line and swirl tells a story about this wood's journey down the mighty rushing river.

So, what does one DO with a small-ish piece of driftwood? Friends, I have NO IDEA! I've been scouring my favorite online sources and have discovered some amazing driftwood pieces.

I could turn it into a sign of sort. Hello on the back porch?

I could create a beautiful tablescape.

I could turn it into an interesting and functional piece of wall art. Although, it would kill me to paint it right now, so this might be an option down the road.

I could hang it on the wall. Although, it's much smaller than the ones pictured here, so maybe incorporate it into our gallery wall?

What do you guys think? What would you do with a piece of driftwood? And, have you ever come home with a more "natural souvenir"? Do you have driftwood anywhere in your home?