{renovate} the depths of indecision

Sometimes I'm quick to make decisions and know precisely what I want. Other times, it takes me months and I second guess everything. The latter usually revolves around fabric and/or other textiles. It just so happens that I'm trying to choose a couple different fabrics right now. And a couple rugs. I need to choose fabric for over the kitchen sink. I also need to choose fabric for the living room ottoman and I need a rug for in front of the kitchen sink. Oh and possibly a rug under the table in the nook. Seriously, it's a lot! It makes my head spin. I know I want to have some fun with the fabric over the sink, so I'm trying to choose that fabric first and then base my other choices off it.

I know you're all curious, so here, my friends, is what indecision looks like:

I. CAN'T. CHOOSE. First world problems, right? I just want to pick one so I can move on with my life, but none are right. At the beginning of the kitchen remodel, I posted that I wanted to updated the color scheme be blue and green - instead of just blue. This still holds true. More recently, I posted a variety of fabrics, trying to narrow things down. The one thing I have decided is that I want a floral, because there are so many straight lines in the room - the cabinets, the tile, the painted lines on the floor. (My awesome husband pointed that one out ;) I need to both mix it up and soften it up. The problem here, though, is that a lot of florals read too stuffy.

The fabric below (left) is actually the closest to what I'm looking for. Chris loves this one. But I think it's maybe too turquoise? Although, the pattern is pretty awesome.

During High Point Market, I was drooling over browsing the #hpmkt hashtag in instagram and came across this fabric:

PERFECT. Do any of you know what this is? I asked the person who posted, but haven't heard back. I LOVE it. It's bright and fun, yet not too busy or precious or stuffy. If any of you know, or have a guess, let me know! :)

Friends, what do you second guess yourself about? Are you in the middle of a decorating dilemma right now?


{create} low maintenace succulent containers

Friends, it appears that I'm on a succulent kick. It started after Christmas. I always plant paperwhites around Christmas in a large serving bowl and after they die, I save the bowl (dirt and all) for next year. But this year I'm trying to keep more plants in the house, so that bowl was replanted with succulents. 

It moves around the house as needed :). One of the - pretty obvious - things that I LOVE about succulents is how low maintenance they are. I planted these guys in March and have watered them once since. Easy! I am terribly neglectful of potted plants, but I absolutely adore having them in the house, so I've been trying to incorporate more plants that don't need a lot of t.l.c from me. 

For this little succulent garden, I added some river rocks and mossy rocks (both from Target), to add a little texture and make the dirt look not so ... dirty ;).

And speaking of low-maintenance. Each summer, I plant flowers in cute little white pots on our front steps (you can see past containers here and here). Last summer was no different, except that I was even more neglectful than usual (KITCHEN!). I let the flowers die and the weeds grow and a few weeks ago, our steps looked like this.

Yikes. Those are some huge weeds. But do you notice something about these containers? 

Look closely - the couple succulents that I'd added to the containers not only survived ...

But some even thrived! Our front steps get huge amounts of afternoon sun, which is pretty hard on certain flowers, but apparently succulents love it. I can take a hint. 

Now, our front step containers are all neat and tidy. And, planted full of lovely succulents.

I'm not sure how much each of these succulent varieties will fill in, so I might need to plant more, but I'm excited to see how these look by the end of summer. And, I'm even more excited that they'll (hopefully) flourish without much babysitting from me! 

Friends, do you plant succulents? Do you love to take care of plants, or do you take the more hands-off approach to gardening and house plants?


{create} an envelope pillow cover

Friends, thank you all for your incredibly helpful suggestions about my living room furniture situation. The majority of your opinions really confirmed my thinking - the slipcovered couch doesn't work! I was kind of prepared for that, but I always like to try and work with what I have first. My current plan is to begin looking for a couple chairs to replace that couch. I also like the idea of putting the chesterfield in front of the bigger window and having the chairs with their back to the kitchen (reorienting the room). We had the living arranged similar to this a LONG time ago, but the wall was always in the way. Now that there isn't a wall (!) I think it's time to revisit that idea. A few of you also suggested putting the slip covered couch against the window perpendicular to the leather couch. This idea had never crossed my mind, and I was looking at the space this morning and I think there might be room. I'll give it a shot.  So anyway, now I have options and I thank you! :)

In other breaking news, I made a pillow.

Okay, so maybe not such breaking news, but you might have noticed that I've been making a LOT of pillows lately (hello, church basement), so I thought I'd share my method. Because it's really easy.

On a side note, isn't this fabric fantastic? I 'found' it in my fabric stash a couple weeks ago. I don't even remember buying it (you know you have a fabric problem when ....), but I LOVE it. And, I had just enough to make a pillow. 

When was making the pillows for the church, we raided good will and thrift stores for the pillow forms. I was busy removing all the covers one night when I realized that a lot of them were pillows stuffed with fluff and then sewn shut. Do people still do this, really? I remember that's how I was taught in 7th grade home ec. But, I always had a problem getting the finishing stitching to look right!  Oh, and the fluffy stuff gets lumpy quick!

If you're going to pull out your sewing machine anyway, the envelope method is fantastic! I'm irrationally terrified of zippers, so I use this method for all pillows. It's quick and easy, clean-looking and really easy to then switch out new pillow covers. I actually don't ever buy new pillow forms - I have a certain number that works our house and I just switch out the covers - which take up WAY less room when storing. 

I actually posted a complete tutorial for making envelope pillows way back when I first started blogging and no one read here. Instead of rewriting, I'll point you in that direction - it's a good tutorial. And, as a bonus, you can catch a glimpse of our horrible old blue carpet. Oh, the good ole days! :) Click here for an envelope pillow cover tutorial.

I hope you all have a great weekend! :)


{renovate} new living room furniture

I would be remiss to not mention what happened in Boston this week. Having lived there - and worked just a couple blocks from the explosions - I know that Bostonians strong and amazing people. But that doesn't stop my heart from hurting for them and wondering how anyone could do this on such a fun and happy day/event. My thoughts and prayers are in Boston this week. 

With that said --
Our living room got a bit of a new look last weekend. If you remember, Chris bought me a beautiful leather chesterfield sofa for Christmas. We've been storing it in the garage for the last few months while we finished the kitchen and the church basement. Right around the same time, my parents were getting rid of a HUGE ottoman, so I snagged it. It's been living in our basement. But, we finally moved both into the living room this weekend!

Last week our living room looked like this.
Today, it looks like this.

The good news is that I LOVE the couch. So gorgeous. And, so comfortable.

The bad news is that ... I have no idea how to layout the living room now! I think I may need to rethink furniture.

In case there is any doubt, if we keep the ottoman, it'll get recovered. :)

I love it too, but I'm worried that the problem with the whole set up is the size of the ottoman - it's pretty huge! We moved both in on Saturday and had friends over that night. We all agreed the space it tight, but as we were sitting there after dinner, we all agreed that the ottoman is awesome because it's nice to have some place to kick back and put your feet up.

Let's look from a different angle.

I added the bookcase because looking at the back of the couch was just awkward.

And this angle is taken from the door. So when you walk in, this is what you see. Is it bad luck/bad feng shui to walk into the back of the couch? I feel like it might not be very welcoming! Of course the bookcase would be styled (and it's already dusted - ew! It's been in the basement for over a year!) and it sort of creates a little entryway.

I feel like there are a few options:
1. My original thought - keep it as is and get a new slipcover for the old couch (too much brown!) and recover the ottoman with a fun graphic pattern.

2. Keep the ottoman and find a couple of chairs to go where the old couch is currently. Maybe the ottoman wouldn't seem as big if there were chairs, which allow for more walking space?

3. Get rid of the couch and the ottoman and find something smaller.

What do you guys think? I wish you could all come over and try out the space for yourself! :)


{renovate} decorating a large space on a tiny budget

Happy Monday friends!

As promised I'm back for one more post about the church basement I recently helped reorganize and decorate. You can catch up with befores here and afters here. Today, I thought I'd share the lessons I learned from this project - both for decorating a large space and decorating on a budget. I try to work within a budget on our home, but the insanely tiny budget ($500!) for this room really forced us to get creative!

Lessons on decorating a large space:

- Create "rooms" within a room. Within this space, we create four separate rooms: the cafe, the living room, the mini living room and the kids area. Creating rooms makes the space more manageable, more comfortable and not nearly as overwhelming for people walking into the room.

- Pull the furniture away from the wall. I know, you hear this all the time, but it's true and worth repeating. For awhile we had the mini living room up against the wall and it was weird. As soon as we moved it away from the wall, it completely worked. In a large space moving the furniture away from the wall helps fill up space - one of the reasons we were so excited about the barrels that live in the middle of the room.

- Hang large pieces of art. The church has an amazing artist who'd created large paintings to hang around the church. We raided the upstairs and brought a few down and immediately the space felt more colorful and intimate. 

- Leave enough walking space. The thing about decorating a large space is that you want to fill it! But, be cautious of leaving enough room to move. A large space means you can have large walkways and space around the outside of the room to help it feel airy and open.

Lessons on decorating on a budget:

- Start by cleaning it all out. There was so much stored in this basement - both out in the open and in the two closets - and we started by taking EVERYTHING out of the room. We donated the majority of it, but this was such an important step because it allowed us to shop with what we already had.
- Use what you have. An extension of cleaning out, and important to keep an open mind when doing. Most people have things they can already use, they just need an open mind and a little creativity. In this case we were able to use tables, chairs and a large room divider.
- Repurpose what you have, if needed. Get creative about how you look at what you currently have and how you can use it in your new space. We cut down large rectangular tables into squares and turned a room divider into a chalkboard.

As for this project, I thought you might be interested in what we already had on hand vs. what we bought. 

What we already had/repurposed:
- pews as benches
- cut rectangle tables in to squares
- chairs from basement, spray painted
- scoured our houses for chairs and pillow forms
- room divider with legs cut off = chalkboard
- large table with smaller legs = kids table
- throne chairs with new fabric
- small rug
- ficus plants

What we bought:
- paint (in fact, the BEST paint deal I've ever heard of)
- 3 couches
- 2 chairs
- 2 lamps
- 1 rug
- 12 pillows inserts
- fabric
- supplies for cutting tables - new trim, nails, etc. 

All in all, we spent $475. Under budget! :)  We got lucky and scored some incredible deals. But I can't stress enough that it was repurposing with creativity that allowed us to meet the budget and still make the space stylish.

Thanks for following along with this room reveal! It was super fun project and I am so happy to share it with you guys :)


{renovate} church basement afters

Happy friday friends! Before I get to the church basement, I wanted to share my exciting news for the week - my house is featured on Houzz! Photographer Whitney Lyons contacted me a few months ago asking if I'd be interested having my house featured on the site. Of course! We spend a lovely morning taking photos and chatting about the house. I know you've all seen our house photos, but you might be interested in the interview :). You can read it here.

So, the church basement. Let's review the facts that I mentioned last week. Old building, stark white, overly crowded church basement redecoration. Budget = $500. Timeline = 6ish weeks.

Remember the before?

Here's the after.
When my friend Kate and I were asked to take on this project, the only direction we were given was to make it comfortable and cafe-like. A place where people want to hang out. To start, we went directly to the fabric store where we picked out a variety of fabrics to base our color scheme on. The main colors are grey, blue and orange. Then, in somewhat of a panic, both of us started scouring Craigslist for small cafe-like table, chairs and couches. It quickly became clear that even just buying tables for cheap on Craigslist was going to eat up our entire budget, which lead to brainstorming ways to save money and use what we already had.

In the process of determining the best use for the space, we came up with four separate spaces within the basement. I think the best way to tackle this post is to take you on a photo tour through each small space and tell you what we bought and what we repurposed.

Cafe area

There were already a few pews in the basement and we knew from the beginning we'd use them as benches. They were perfect! The tables though, were another story. Like I mentioned, we knew we couldn't spend money on other tables and we knew we want small cafe-type tables, so after some brainstorming, we decided to cut down the existing tables in the space, which you can see in the before photo. Then we painted the edges black to make them look a little more polished. The chairs were from a variety of sources - some we found in a closet in the basement and some we gathered from friends - all were free. Spray painting them all orange help unify them and provided a much-needed fun color in the space. We used the fabrics we'd picked out to soften the space a little and add more small punches of color, both in the form of pillows and in seat covers where needed.

Of course, the BEST FIND for the cafe space was the barrels. One of the guys that goes to the church was working on a construction site and they were THROWING THESE AWAY. Luckily, he snagged them because he thought we might like them. YES. We did in fact LOVE them. :) We topped them with more of the same cut down cafe tables to make them a little easier to use, and now they're a great spot to stand and eat snacks and chat with friends.

Living room area

Behind the cafe area is a comfy living room area. For this space we bought two couches for a total of $80. Seriously. One of $50 on Craigslist and one was $30 at Goodwill. Both are in amazing shape. We bought the yellow rug and two lights - foreground and background. Do you recognize the coffee table? The side table was from Kate. 

The throne chairs were a fantastic basement closet find. We recovered the seats with the neutral grey fabric (they were bright red!) and they fit in perfectly - and add a little character :).

Extra seating area

On the other side of the room, we made another small seating area. The chairs were from Goodwill, the couch from Craigslist and the bench was another closet find. Seriously, there are two closets in this space and once we got them cleaned out we realized they were full of wonderful and useful treasures. The rug was one I had hiding in my basement that we weren't going to use.

Kids area

Looping back around - so right next to the barrels - is the kids area. There are a seriously large amount of kiddos at this church and we wanted to dedicate a space for them to play while their parents are chatting.  There were large rolling space dividers already in the room, one of which we cut the legs off of, hung it on the wall and turned it into a chalkboard. The kids LOVE it. We also cut down the table legs and paired it with a couple found benches for a cute little kids table.

Friends, this post is getting way too long. I didn't want to stretch this out into three posts, but I think I'll save the lessons and tips for decorating a large space on a tiny budget for Monday.

So come back Monday for tips :). And, if you have any questions about the space, just ask me in the comments and I'll address them next week. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! 


{renovate} copper cups

Welcome, Houzz readers! If this is your first time visiting my site, you can read a little bit about me here. I hope you look around and decide to stay a while! By way of a quick introduction, here are a few of my projects you might enjoy:
Kitchen remodel
Back entry remodel
Striped hallway

Last month, you might remember, we went to a big antique show and brought home a set of copper cups.

Since then, I've been using them around the house in flower arrangements. But, we actually bought them to drink out of, so I had to get to work cleaning them. You can see, above, that they were really tarnished. Let's take a closer look:

YEARS of built up tarnish. While it gives it a great 'antique' look, that might not be what we're going for when drinking out of them:

I knew for sure I wanted to de-tarnish the insides, but then possibly the outsides.

Here are my weapons of choice:

I had both of these laying around because of the copper counters and a couple copper pans we have. My original thought was that I would compare the two. But I quickly learned they have two different functions! Wenol didn't cut through the thick tarnish, so I first needed to go to work on the tarnish with Copper Glo. But once I'd cut through the tarnish, Wenol really shines up the copper and makes it purty.  So I cleaned all the insides (no pictures, but trust me - kinda messy, not that exciting :) and then had to decide about the outsides. And here's the thing friends, I actually like the outsides all sparkly and coppery. The issue? Chris likes them better tarnished.

We have a divided household. :) For now, half are clean and sparkly and half are tarnished and antiqued.

The antiqued ones are great for flowers.

But for some reason I am more comfortable drinking out of the clean and sparkly ones.

What do you guys think? After I finished with the copper glo/wenol combo, I washed them all with soap and water. Is it safe to drink out of cups so tarnished? Is tarnish bad for you? Which look do you like better? I'd love to hear your thoughts about the great copper debate 2013 :)

ps. I wasn't paid to review these two products, I just wanted to fill you in on what I use! 


{renovate} a church basement

Sometime back in February, the pastor of the church we occasionally attend asked me and a friend of mine (who has seriously awesome and impeccable taste) to decorate the church's basement.

Want to see what we started with?

Ummmmm. A little background for you all. This church is OLD. And, actually pretty darn adorable. But the basement had suffered from year's of neglect and then suffered even more when someone painted the window and door trim a very bold beige. The pastor is this young, hip guy that wants this space to be a warm and welcoming place for people to not only hang out after church, but for community events (quite a few are happening here)

As you can see from the photo, we were starting with a HUGE and very blank slate. And a dump run. Once the space was cleared out, we came up with a plan which included lots and lots of paint, comfy furniture and breaking the space up into different "rooms" within a room. 

Oh and did I mention the budget? $500. Yikes! And did I mention the timeline? About 6 weeks. OMG! I'm telling you this now because it's one of the reasons I'm having trouble keeping up here. Because of the budget for this project, we had to DIY a lot. Hence the reason I sewed approximately 300 hundred pillows a couple weeks ago (above). Okay, it was 15. But still. :)

We're so happy with how the space came together, but I need to get over this weekend to take true "afters." We had it all pulled together for Easter, but I wasn't actually in town last weekend to take photos. So, I thought I'd show you the before and a couple quick sneak peeks today.  Next week I'll share the actual afters along with some lessons I learned for decorating a large space on a tight budget. You'll be so surprised with how far we managed to stretch our very meager budget and how many things we "repurposed" :).


{create} people photography tips

Happy Wednesday friends! I have really missed this space and all of you! But I'll be back Friday to show you what's been talking up all my time outside of work. :) Today, though, I wanted to share about a fun little event  I went to a couple weeks ago. 

Portland has a group called Portland Bloggers, which exists solely to connect Portland area bloggers through meet ups. So great, right? I've been wanting to go to one of their events for quite awhile and last month they had an event that seemed perfect - it was called 'Strike a Pose.' They brought in a team of local professional photographers, stylists and makeup artists and for just $10 (I KNOW), everyone attending had mini portrait session.

I was teamed up with Ali of Murray Photography and Portraits by Ali and, friends, she was fantastic! If you're in Oregon I cannot recommend her enough - she was so sweet and easy to work with (which is great because it turns out that I'm super awkward at posing for photos!) and I LOVE the photos she took! I am so excited to update all my social media accounts with a fun new professional photo.

Best of all though, and the reason I'm even writing this post (besides to give her props!) is Ali shared a few pointers for taking self portraits that I think could actually be applied to any photos you are taking of people. Friends, be prepared to take your vacation and kiddo photos up a notch.

1. If you're planning on taking self-portraits, invest in a mini tripod. Bonus, you can take them on vacation. This is great if no one is around to take your photo and you don't want to do the arm-reach-around technique. You know what I'm talking about!
2. Make sure the camera is slightly above eye level. The angle is more flattering. To look even thinner, keep your chin down. <-------- This. This paid for the session. Chris is so tall and always has a weird chin in photos. Because I'm shorter than him! Brilliant!
3. You do not always have to look at the photo. Laugh, look over your shoulder, jump, but mostly just have fun. I think this is so true for any people photos - action shots are great and seem so much more "real" than just posing and staring straight at the photo.
4. Avoid taking photos outside in bright overhead sunlight. Facing soft natural light creates the most beautiful images and prevents harsh shadows.

Great tips, right? Thanks, Ali! :)

Want to see one more photo from the session? :)

Friends, have you ever had professional photos taken of just you? This is not something I'd ever think about doing, but I'm so glad Portland Bloggers thought of it! It was such a fun afternoon. And, do you have any pointers for taking photos of people? If so, please share in the comments!