Archive for December, 2011

Buying Metal Stools From An Industrial School Supply Shop

John wanted me to work Stool Boom into the post title because of this video (which he requests that you all check it out so that you can hum the song while reading this post). Anyway, now in stool news… we got them for our peninsula! And we’re so excited about 1) where we found them, and 2) the price (because four stools can definitely be a budget breaker if they’re priced at $250 a pop). But first, let’s chat about the kitchen budget in general for a second…

We’ve actually spent some real money in certain areas like:

And like the majority of renovators, we’re also choosing areas to save, like:

We still have a backsplash to install, cork flooring to lay, new lighting to buy/hang, and floating shelves + a range hood to go up – so admittedly it looks kinda crazy for the amount of money that we’ve spent (since many of the elements that we’ve purchased aren’t in yet). But in a month or two the kitchen should look significantly more finished and upgraded. At least that’s the plan! It’s all just a work in progress until then…

But weren’t we talking about stools? Back to that subject. First we debated something clear/acrylic but heard from a few people who said they really disliked how scratched and foggy theirs got with everyday use and only found a few options that we liked (all of which were over $100 a pop). So we went back to the drawing board, which basically meant examining a ton of inspiration rooms. Which (duh) allowed us to pick up on a pretty obvious theme. Apparently we have a thing for industrial metal stools. We also like that they’re not wood since there are a ton of wood-legged chairs in the nearby dining room, so a contrasting metal look is a nice variation (so not everything feels heavy and wood-y).

For functional reasons we decided that our stools had to have backs (so Clara’s booster seat can snap onto one, so bigger kiddos can more easily sit up there, and even for the added support/comfort they’ll provide for adults). So it eliminated some of the cool backless ones like the stools in this photo from (we’ve seen similar versions on overstock for anyone interested). But that decision still left us wide open to cool science-y stools like these from Restoration Hardware. Too bad they’re $375 each, making four of them a budget breaking $1,500 (sniffle).

So we set off to find some thrifty (preferably secondhand) options for our kitchen – hopefully at around $60 each or less (you know, in an ideal world where perfect $60 stools abound). We actually found an awesome vintage one at a local thrift store for 50 beans (it was even counter height and not bar height, which is what we need) but there was only one and we needed four. Wop wop. So we took to the internet to try to find some sort of industrial warehouse or bulk manufacturer who made science-y counter height stools in our price point. What do ya know, we found these guys on a school supply website of all places:

I know, I know – it looks more than a little nerdy in that pic (especially because they placed the backrest super high- it’s adjustable). And because it’s not in a delicious room like the other stools above (nothing looks as glamorous when it’s cut out on white). But oddly tall adjustable backrests and white backgrounds aside, there was just something charming about getting lab stools from a school supply place.

They’re admittedly not exactly the same (aka: not nearly as amazing in shape or finish) as the stools in the above inspiration images, but those were sadly (very) out of our budget. And we had a feeling in the right room these affordable guys could really be elevated (you know we’re all about mixing high and low, so things like the new counters, ceiling height backsplash, new appliances, pretty pendant lights over the peninsula, and cork flooring should really elevate them). And the price was riiight. They were $33 each (we got the fixed height 24″ ones). Which means for $168 (including tax and shipping) we got four stools delivered to our door. Here they are in our still very raw and completely unfinished kitchen (but just scroll up to see how metal stools can look pretty darn cool in more finished spaces).

As for their finish, they look nice with the stainless appliances, but once the room comes together more I’m not above tweaking them if I think they’ll look better that way (they were $33 after all…). I’ve definitely contemplated these four options:

We’ll have to wait and see as the room evolves. You know we like to tweak/learn/figure it out as we go. Our house is like a big puzzle and I’m Nancy Drew… and maybe John’s Scooby Doo? Wait maybe Burger is Scooby and Clara is Nancy Drew. And I’m Angela Lansbury. And John is Mulder. Or is he Skully? I always forget which one is the guy. Update: the guy is Mulder. Thanks google.

Ugh- but those orange-y wood cabinets are really cramping our style. We’re actually working on trim and baseboards and puttying and sanding right now… which means priming and painting are just around the corner! So I know some of you might not “get” the stools at all right now (mom!) but I promise when the rest of the room starts to make more sense around them, you might come around. Just give us a chance to get the room a bit more developed. Pretty please? When in doubt,  just remember that our first house eventually looked like this, but while it was in-progress it looked like this. Haha.

We especially love how the two adjoined spaces don’t look too wood riddled since we skipped wood stools for the kitchen and went with metal for some nice variety.

And although they look a bit light on their feet (thanks to the airy metal construction) these dudes are solid. Not wobbly. Not lightweight. They’re lab stools for goodness sake. So there’s no flimsy feeling because they’re made to last decades in classrooms with people/teens/teachers of all sizes sitting/beating on them. Most likely while using bunsen burners.

In the comfort department they’re actually really comfortable (there’s a bit of flex in the back rest, which is really nice). I mean it’s not like sitting in a padded armchair, but for stools at a counter we think they’re perfect. And Clara’s booster chair snapped right into the one on the end, so that was nice (it said it worked with any chair with a back, but it was good to have confirmation that she was nice and secure up there). Yup, that means we’ve all been eating (and generally hanging out) at the peninsula these days!

Look, here are Clara and John making cookies at the ol’ new peninsula (can’t see much of the stool, but she’s all strapped in and happy to help stir). More on what amazing concoction they were making here.

Speaking of Clara’s assistance, she also “helped” us assemble the stools. Check out our little leftie in action:

And now for a Burger photobomb:

He couldn’t resist getting in on the action too.

Once we have some amazing (we’re actively on the hunt) pendant lights hanging over them above the peninsula things should start coming together a little more.  We sort of have something like this in mind, but we’re definitely not 100% settled yet.

Oh and speaking of the peninsula, a few of you couldn’t tell from the installation photos that we got the corners of it rounded, so here’s a pic from the top with a penny on the edge to show how they’re softly curved. Hooray for no sharp corners (for the bean’s noggin and our hips!).

But back to the stools (I’m all over the place today, huh?). Have you scored a deal from a school supply company or other unexpected source? Have you recently purchased new stools or chairs? Are you into the whole rough/ industrial mixed with fancy/polished look? It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s funny how many of our inspiration kitchens are exactly that.

Psst- Ahhhhhh- who saw the Dexter finale last night? Don’t want to give anything away, but it was craaaaaazy! We’re still taking about it.



22 Easy (And Free!) Holiday Art Ideas

I warned you that I was really excited to go all out for our first “real” Christmas in our new house, so it’s no surprise that I got giddy and decided to tackle an unexpected-ish space for holiday-ifaction. Was that enough hyphenated-not-real words for you? Anyway that space = the hallway. I actually switched out 22 frames (almost two dozen!) in our little hallway frame collection to make things a bit more festive. And it was free. Yeee-haw. Over the top? Maybe. But it makes us smile and was zero dollars. Holla. Let’s get on with the tour…

When you look at the hallway from a distance, the change isn’t overly obvious, which we like (one of our favorite things about the frame wall in general is that it draws people in, so you have to get closer to see what each item is really about). But if you get a little closer you start to pick up on some of the things that we switched out (you can see most of the original frame wall art here)…

… like how the paint deck that used to hang on the pig hook was swapped with a little yarn owl ornament that I snagged on clearance after the holidays last year at Target (to the tune of 25 cents).

I also popped two old snowflake ornaments into those two shadow box frames on the left. And that clear tree in the frame on the right is a page from Martha Stewart magazine (framing pages from mags, catalogs, or calendars for your own personal enjoyment is totally fine – you just can’t profit off of those images, for example: trying to sell them as your own designs on etsy).

If you scoot a little further to the right of the wall, you’ll see a few other frames that we tweaked with new holiday-ish stuff.

The frame with the glitter ornaments and green trees is actually a Martha Stewart ad for her glitter line (also torn out of her magazine). And the blue star made up of ornaments to the right of that is a page from a West Elm catalog.

Beneath the glitter ad we have a page from Pottery Barn with some festive shakers and the frame right above our console table has some West Elm plates that say Cheers, Joy, and Peace (all good holiday reminders).

Here’s a close up of the West Elm page full of ornamets in the shape of a star. It’s my favorite:

I also framed a few more West Elm pages, like this collection of holiday mugs and ornaments (backed with a piece of green paper that we already had) and this page full of numbered and lettered plates…

… including a plate that says “Cookies for Santa.” Oh and don’t mind that carbon monoxide detector above (I’ve been meaning to stick it somewhere a bit less noticeable).

These are the frames with plexiglass and heavy duty velcro to keep them safe for Clara since they’re down at her level (more on that here). And since she loves Santa (more on that here) I figured she’d like the Santa cookies plate down where she could admire it. The verdict in her words: “I love you, Santa!” And when she walks by it, sometimes we hear her mumble “buh-bye Santa.” So sweet.

Here’s the rest of that wall from afar. See, not too obvious… until you get closer…

… and notice things like two big jingle bells that I hung in a backwards canvas (I love the raw wood frame that’s usually hidden when it’s facing the “right” way). As for how I hung the canvas backwards (which I did back when we originally hung all of these frames), I just hammered one of these little metal tooth-hook things for hanging pictures (from Michael’s) into the front (now back) of the frame so I could hang it over a nail. There’s also a photo of stacked firewood with some holiday pillows piled on top from a Pottery Barn catalog.

Now let’s move over to the other side of the wall. Here we have a bunch of holiday swaps going on.

Like the piece of cardstock that I printed with the words “Happy holidays, y’all!” with some red hearts above and below it, and a swatch of red wrapping paper that I stuck behind an already-framed peacock feather. I also slipped two small silver ornaments into a shadow box (which already had a calendar with our anniversary circled inside of it) and added another little 25 cent yarn ornament (this time it’s a bunny) above it.

In the bottom right of that arrangement I also worked in a page from West Elm full of graphic numbered ornaments with fun shapes that Clara likes on them (like a swan and a goose). She points and says “honk honk!” (every kid should have a reason to practice their goose impression, right?).

Here’s the other side of that wall with six more frame switches.

Like a Banana Republic ad (with a sweet pooch wearing a bow tie sitting under some mistletoe) and a funny Christmas sweater ornament that I taped into another backwards canvas. On the right we have a felt ornament from Target last year (which almost looks like an ornate paper cut-out when it’s framed).

I also made another little texty design that I printed out onto card stock (this one says “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas”) and under that is an illustration of holiday cookies from Woman’s Day magazine  (donated by John’s mom after I spotted it and asked if I could have the mag after she was done).

And in the top left shadow box I stuck more silver ornaments with some leftover wrapping paper as the background.

So there you have 22 quick frame switches, all of which can easily be changed back to their pre-holiday look once January rolls around. I kept all of the original art behind the new additions in each frame, so I can just put it back in front of the holiday stuff (which’ll live behind it until next Christmas when it moves forward again). Oh and for anyone wondering where we got the frames, they’re all from Ikea, Target (on clearance), or thrift stores. We just saved them up over time and actually had many of them when we moved here (they used to hang randomly in nearly every room at our first house, so we thought it would be fun to hang them en masse in our hallway instead of spreading them out again here).

Man, there’s something so satisfying about some free holiday festive-ness, especially in an often overlooked space like a hallway. Did you guys decorate any unexpected areas like a bathroom or a laundry room or a sunroom? Heck, even little trees on bedroom windowsills can be really cute. Oh yeah and on the subject of better-late-than-never holiday stuff, I spent some time making a page full of all of our seasonal/holiday projects & ideas that can easily be perused by picture. So you’ll hopefully have fun sniffing around for some last minute ideas.

You can click here to see it all and can also access it at any time by clicking the “Holiday Ideas” button on our sidebar.

Ho ho hope it helps!

Psst- We picked a winner for this week’s giveaway. Click here to see if it’s you.