Archive for the ‘decorating’ Category
We’re finally settled in our new place, and after rearranging furniture, oh, about ten times, I seem to have found our feng shui. Or at least for now. The biggest challenge was transitioning from a 1,400-sq-ft open loft space to a 700 sq-ft 1920s-style bungalow – the back half of a duplex, to be precise. My sweet parents are storing several pieces they and my grandmothers had lent us (two tables, two club chairs, and six dining chairs), but amazingly, everything else fit – including the pallet table. And while there are certainly things I miss (a dishwasher, the other 700 square feet, and a washer and dryer), there’s a lot to love about the new place. My favorite things: the lovely eastern and southern light, windows in every room, white walls, and craftsman details like bead board and built-in nooks.
The Living Room
This is my favorite room – it’s the largest, and it has the best light.
It’s Kyna and Buddy’s favorite room, too.
This is also the room I rearranged the most, because it does double-duty as my home office. It took many configurations and, ultimately, a trip to the Calico Mall to get my little nook worked out.
As much as I love that sewing table (also a Calico Mall find), it’s really best as a console table. So I was thrilled to find a little mid-century modern desk for super cheap, and while I hadn’t planned to buy a chair, I couldn’t leave without this little blue Eames-esque desk chair. It needed a little DIY love, though, as someone thought it’d be nice to spray paint it with sparkles. Daniel covered it with several coats of a slightly darker, non-sparkly blue. Et voilà.
I’d gotten so used to our open loft that hallways seemed like a waste of space to me, and I admit that the long hallway here felt claustrophobic to me at first. Now that we’ve hung pictures and discovered some valuable storage opportunities, I’m feeling their charm again.
The Study/Music Room
This room (amazingly) hosts the pallet table, which currently functions as Daniel’s desk and is perfect for spreading out plant specimens for identification. The room also has a tiny closet we’re using as a coat closet (and everything else we can cram in there). And since the room also houses Daniel’s tools, I hung a throw over an open shelf for storing tool-related odds and ends.
While most of the room is a working botany lab, there’s a little corner for music. I’m especially happy about storing guitars on the walls. In this place, it’s all about vertical storage.
When I first saw the turquoise backsplash and floors in the kitchen, I could have freaked out a little. But instead, I thought of all our red kitchen appliances, and I decided to embrace the quirkiness. And I actually really love the turquoise and red. I also love that there’s plentiful cabinet space (including that semi-awkward nook by the water heater).
And once again, vertical storage is the name of the game. Daniel had some especially creative solutions: a pallet-wood spice rack, hooks for hanging pots on the wall, and a pallet-wood shelf for storing home-brewing bottles.
It’s tiny, to be sure, but it’s actually not the smallest place we’ve ever squeezed this bed into.
And we even managed to recreate the windowsill succulent arrangement, though now they’re on the outside (and happier).
The closet situation is interesting (and currently not photograph-able). I may have complained about having a small closet in our old place, but this one is truly tiny. Fortunately, having grown up in a 1920s bungalow with small closets, I borrowed a trick from my parents to maximize storage: over-the-door racks. There’s one on every door in this house (except the front and kitchen doors).
Last and least. Or at least a work in progress. All I’ve done in here (since I took this picture on move-in day) is hang a clear shower liner, stuff the tiny cabinet over the toilet, and stack more baskets on top of that cabinet. Perhaps more on this soon.
So that’s it – all 700 square feet of it! I have less than two more months here before I head up to Seattle, but this will continue to be home for me as long as my loves (Daniel, Kyna, and Buddy) live here.
We’ve lived here in the Walthall for three years, and we’ve absolutely loved it. The time has come, though, to say goodbye to this most wonderful place, and at the end of this month, we’ll make the first of two (!) moves this summer. Our first move will be to a smaller place just a block away from where we are now – a duplex in a charming little bungalow. That’s where Daniel and the greyhounds will live for the next two years or so as he finishes his graduate work in biology. At the end of the summer, I will move to Seattle to start a PhD program in language and rhetoric at the University of Washington.
As sorry as we are to leave our condo, we’re excited about what’s ahead. And even though moving is hard, tedious work, I actually do enjoy the cathartic cleansing and purging that (for us) only happens when we move. And I LOVE an opportunity to arrange furniture and decorate in a new place. (Someone please remind me of all this when I’m hauling the 500th box in 90+ degree heat and humidity!) Here’s a last look at our condo:
I absolutely love decorating for the holidays. (I may or may not have been listening to Christmas music – earbuds in – for weeks already.) Last year, we decided to go eco-friendly and created an indoor bottle tree to replace a cut Christmas tree, and I made several arrangements from discarded Christmas tree branches. This year, Daniel inspired me to be even more eco-friendly and botantically-correct by decorating with plants native to Mississippi (and sourced from nearby woods). I recycled my burlap and metallic votives from last year and added long leaf pine cones, southern magnolia leaves, yaupon holly berries, and eastern red cedar branches to create simple arrangements around the condo. I rather love the sculptural-yet-unfussy effect. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, chez nous.
For the dining table, I wanted something dramatic but low enough to see over during meals:
And I made a smaller version for our coffee table:
I filled a large vase with cedar and holly for the foot of the bottle tree (think Christmas tree, deconstructed):
And I used extra cedar and holly for smaller arrangements on the entryway console and the dining buffet:
In the bedroom/study nook, I added holly berries to my vase of sweetgum sticks, and since we DO love bottles and lights (seen here and here), we made a little bottle lamp with battery-operated LED string lights:
I also made simple holly arrangements for my desk and the dresser:
And to make sure it smells like Christmas, too, I’m burning this heavenly balsam cedar-scented candle on our kitchen island:
Our condo is filled with family furniture – dining chairs from my maternal and paternal grandmothers, living room chairs from my maternal grandmother, my desk and Daniel’s desk from my parents, and the list goes on. Over Labor Day weekend, as I was catching up on some reading, I found myself wishing for a comfy chair next to the windows in the bedroom, where the light is especially wonderful in the morning. And since DIY projects are more exciting than research, I was immediately inspired: I knew the perfect chair was sitting in my grandmother’s storage room, just waiting for a little TLC.
My maternal grandmother bought this chair in the early 1960s from Ethan Allen. She passed it on to my mom, who used it in the apartment she and my dad lived in while he was in law school. (That’s the “then” picture above!) Dad studied for hours in that chair, with a lap desk for his books resting on the chair arms. The chair cushions were later recovered in their current neutral fabric, but for most of my memory, the chair – along with its matching loveseat – was in my late grandfather’s workroom, which is now my grandmother’s storage room. My sweet grandmother was happy to pass it on (again), and my sweet parents picked it up and brought it down to me that Labor Day weekend. Thus the DIY project began.
The chair upon arrival:
I absolutely love the mid-century-meets-early-American details, especially in the arms. The skirt was ripped, the finish was worn, and the legs had water damage – but the chair itself was sturdy and the cushions were firm (if a little musty). Daniel helped me remove the skirt and several layers of staples, and he got me started sanding off the finish – first with an electric palm sander, then with a foam sanding block.
There were just a few spots on the cushions, so I made a foam solution with water and dish soap to rub out the spots. I sprayed a tried-and-true mixture of vodka and water to help neutralize the musty smell.
By the end of Labor Day weekend, the chair was nearly done. I loved the way the wood looked with the finish removed, and I nearly finished all the sanding, save for the tricky detailing on the arms. I told myself I’d finish sanding the next weekend, but, instead, I sat in the chair – which I furnished with a super-soft throw – and got some research reading done. Two and a half months later, the sanding still isn’t quite done, but I have been enjoying the chair. And the sanding will get done over winter break, I’ve decided. (No excuses!)
I can’t imagine decorating without the eclectic blend of mid-century, handmade, and early American pieces my family members have passed on to me. Most of all, I love the stories and the people each piece represents. Here’s to keeping furniture in the family!
Daniel made this dining table entirely from carefully disassembled shipping pallets and finished it with a mixture of coconut oil and locally-harvested beeswax. It’s his masterpiece, and I am as giddy as a kid at Christmas. He’s not new to building: his dad is an accomplished woodworker, and Daniel built the bookshelf and media console in our living room, as well as the standing desk/bookshelf in our bedroom/study (seen here) – not to mention the two coolest bottle sculptures ever (here and here).
Earlier this summer, we sourced the mostly-oak pallets from a pallet dealer down the road. (No truck garden plants were harmed in the process!) We paid $32 for eight pallets, two of which are still intact, and Daniel used some of the pieces to build the containers for our succulent garden.
I love how Daniel preserved the architecture of the pallets, especially in the bracing and in the legs, but created a beautifully streamlined silhouette.
A few readers have requested a photo of the underside of the table, so here it is:
I’m loving the newest addition to our indoor gardens: windowsill succulents. On an innocent trip to Lowe’s to look at self-watering pots, we were distracted by a cute little potted arrangement of four succulents. Then Daniel, ever the green-thumb, said, “We can do this better – let’s plant them ourselves.” We knew the succulents would be great in our rather-wide windowsills, and when we couldn’t find a suitable planter, we had just the solution: our shipping pallets.
Our love of gardening (indoors and out) is well-documented on this site (here, here, and here), and we also happen to have a bunch of shipping pallets lying around (for a DIY table project). The already-sanded wood we’ve harvested from the pallets made the perfect containers for our windowsill garden.
Once the boxes were built, Daniel lined them with plastic (cut from a potting soil bag) and filled them with a mixture of potting soil and perlite.
Once the succulents were settled, we trimmed the edges of the plastic just below the soil line and gave the plants a good soaking via spray bottle.
We built three boxes, one for each window in the bedroom. Daniel had yet another idea: locally harvested rocks to top the soil. So we trekked into the woods, and we (and by we I mean he) gathered pebbles from a little creek. The pebbles were just the right finishing touch.