Archive for November, 2012
Quick update: Tonight we’ll be at FLOR in DC on 1037 33rd Street NW at 6:30pm for a book party, signing, and free rug raffle (we’re giving away an exclusive FLOR rug of our own design!) along with wine, popcorn, cookies, and soda. This event is now sold out (there’s more info here) so we added another not-sold-out DC event here- and there’s just one more day to get in on that. Woot! Also last night I had a dream that a girl with blue hair styled into a mullet came to our signing and told everyone to leave and that we weren’t coming right before we came out so everyone was pissed and left and then we came out and no one was there. Womp-womp.
You guys know Lesli, right? She’s a friend of ours who lives in out in the country (Greenwood, Virginia) and happens to be an amazing painter (you might remember our giveaway with her). She has an awesome blog and a sweet old house – complete with extra high ceilings that we covet and 100+ year old details that make “old farmhouse” the dream for so many people (us included). So we can’t wait to show you around. Let’s get to snooping…
Almost every item in Lesli’s home has been loved back to life. Like the old bench that sits in her entryway, which she got secondhand for $50 and painted a fresh new color. All of the mixed and matched art above it has such a fun and casual vibe – almost like it’s a beach house. The best thing about this house out in the country (with gorgeous views of the mountains) is that nothing feels too precious. Clara had a blast (and I didn’t have to have fifteen heart attacks worrying that she’d break something since the house was so kid friendly and fun). Oh and see that suitcase that Clara’s standing on? It can be seen in this Burger birthday video (Lesli’s daughter actually gave it to Clara to take home – how sweet is that?).
To the left of that entryway are two large rooms with awesome envy-inducing high ceilings. The room in the front is a living area, and the one in the back was once a formal dining room but Lesli realized that her family got more use out of making that another sitting area with a big couch for reading (you know, so Lesli can curl up and read in one space while the kids watch TV in the next room). So she moved the dining room to the other side of the house and made this side into one big casual chill-out area.
I think some of the most noteworthy choices that Lesli made in the room had to do with color. Look at those bold patterned curtains! That awesome kid-art with bright pink mats! Even the colorful Uglydoll on the couch is inspired! Too many exclamation points? Sorry, this room just gets me excited. And the coolest thing is that Lesli actually designed the fabric for those curtains herself (it’s a horse painting that she did, which she uploaded to Spoonflower and duplicated a bunch of times to create an abstract ikat-ish effect). I got woozy when she told me that. Seriously, it was horse-print-induced hysteria.
Here’s that room behind the one we shared above (which used to be the formal dining room until she moved that to the other side of the house). I love that Lesli made things work for her family instead of being locked into using the same layout that the previous owners did. And see that round coffee table? It was actually a kitchen table from Lesli’s old house, but she cut the stand down to make it coffee-table height. Isn’t that a smart use-whatcha-got trick?
Check out that big mirror over the mantel. It’s original to the 100+ year old house. Gorgeous, right? Lesli was so humble about everything but I was totally standing there drooling. The cool thing about this house is that it’s a great example of how you can fill an awesome old farmhouse with inexpensive items and reinvent old thrift store pieces. And nothing feels like you’re going to break it or ruin it… it’s approachable and comfortable.
Here’s a secondhand cabinet that she rescued with some fresh paint. I love the pops of yellow and the wooden fish on the wall with the name of her city painted on it. And see that bolt of fabric leaning casually in the corner? I love it there. The whole house is so refreshingly unfussy and easy.
Here’s her upstairs bathroom complete with a few more pops of color in the art and the textiles. It’s cool to see how Lesli mixes old (the ornate antique mirror) with new (the geometric bath mat – which is actually a TJ Maxx find) along with a whole lotta fresh white.
Lesli’s master bedroom was having some drywall work done in a few areas, but we were able to sneak this shot of the corner of the room complete with a fun graphic chair, a non-working fireplace that she filled with books, and a window cornice that she actually made out of fabric and foam core (seriously! she took one down and showed me and it looked so legit – I never would have guessed it was foam core under there and not wood). And as for a little more info on that chair, she got it cheaply because it was a floor model and then recovered it with $9.99 Dwell Studio fabric from U-Fab (she found a great upholstery guy out there who only charged $100 to recover the chair!).
Now on to my favorite room in the house! You may have seen her daughter Phoebe’s room since it actually won in a recent Washington Post kids room contest, but even if you have, it’s totally worth a second look. Everything from that awesome colorful chandelier (from Urban Outfitters!) to the bold blue wall with the fun pink border and some more patterned fabric cornices (plus that great geometric rug that she got on clearance from PB Teen for $150!) was completely fun and charming.
Without a doubt my favorite thing in the room were the beds. Can you believe that Lesli got them at a thrift store for super cheap and then painted and upholstered the back herself? It looked complicated (how do you curve the fabric like that?) but the curved panel actually just pops out so she added some batting and some fabric, pulled it taut and stapled it in the back, and then just screwed the panel back on. Easy peasy. The fabric is Premier Suzani Slub in Corn. Don’t they look like a million bucks?
The room that her sons share was just as sweet with fun orange accents (the over-sized ceiling shade and the curtains that she made with this fabric were awesome)…
… but my favorite things in that room were these crazy.awesome.lamps. They were just cheap glass lamps that she got from Target, but they were fillable – so she decided to fill one of them with a bunch of tiny toys that her son had collected when he was younger but no longer plays with. And the other one got filled with old cars that used to be enjoyed all the time. I thought it was such a cool way to keep something sentimental around that your child might not actively play with anymore. Imagine the possibilities: legos, polly pockets, colored pencils, rubber erasers, the list goes on! Now I can expand my shadowbox obsession to fillable lamps…
So there you have Lesli’s awesome house. Thanks so much to her and the family for so graciously inviting us over to crash! We had the best time, and couldn’t wait to share all of her creativity with you guys. I mean, from those spoonflower curtains that Lesli designed herself to the lamps full of kid paraphernalia, we definitely left feeling super inspired! Now let’s play the what’s-your-favorite-part game. I gotta stick with those genius thrift store beds that she completely redid for Phoebe’s room. Amazing.
Psst- Don’t wanna stop snooping around? You can check out dozens of House Crashing adventures right here.
Q: I have a house-hunting question for you. What do you look for? What do you look past? Help! My main complaint of all the older homes that we’re looking at in our price range is that they all feel dated, but that seems to be what you guys look for. How do you know which dated houses are worth buying and which ones are lost causes? I keep worrying we’ll end up in a money pit! – Aviva (not the one from Housewives of NY).
A: First of all, I’m glad you clarified that you’re not NYC Aviva. Haha. And second of all, we actually get this question a lot. So when it comes to what we “look past” in a house (and what we pay attention to) my general answer is to never be deterred by the following things:
- baaaad paint on the walls or the trim
- nasty wallpaper (borders, or entire walls)
- dated or not-your-style furniture
- ugly curtains
- dark brick or paneling
- not-your-cup-of-tea light fixtures
- green/blue/pink toilets
For example, here are a few before photos of our first house to further demonstrate how off-putting those dated features can be… but we all know they can be remedied with a little elbow grease if you’re a willing DIYer:
As for what we always try to pay attention to or look for, it’s mainly:
- the neighborhood (can’t move a house after you buy it)
- the overall layout (you can adjust some things, but repositioning every room gets pricey)
- the size of rooms and number of bathrooms, which is another hard-to-change factor (ex: if it has too-small bedrooms or one bathroom when you need two, you probably want to keep looking)
- things like ceiling height and window placement (which aren’t always easy to change)
- interesting architecture, like a fireplace, ceiling beams, etc
- the terrain of your lot (a steep drop off in the back isn’t exactly simple to fill in, etc)
Here are some photos of our first house that demonstrated some of those great “diamonds” that we saw in the rough. For example, the same room that showed dated brick and paneling also sports a nice cozy centered fireplace along with architectural beams overhead:
Which meant that once we painted all the dark wood and brick, it completely changed the feel of the room:
Another great selling feature for us was the lot itself. It was nearly an acre (something you can’t change once you buy a house) with a nice flat and wooded backyard:
All that landscaping was a more than a little rough to stay on top of, but since we had a nice level lot that was private and wooded in the back, we knew it had tons of potential. And thanks to craigslist we got folks to dig stuff up for free (by posting you-dig-it-up-and-it’s-yours ads like this, which even worked for all that pea gravel) and we ended up with a nice easy-to-maintain yard that made us (and especially Burger) endlessly happy:
So although we’re hardly pro house-hunters (we’ve only done it two times), I think we’ve learned that the sweet spot for us is to completely ignore things we know we can change. If the walls are a color we don’t like, we don’t even pay attention since we know it can easily and affordably be updated. Same for the color of cabinets that we can potentially paint, or wallpaper that we can remove. Things that we can’t change as easily are what we pay the most attention to (ex: the floor plan of a house, the location of the kitchen and all the windows, the size of the bedrooms) – you know, things that would be a lot of money, and trouble, to alter.
For those who have a harder time seeing past the bad cosmetic things (like dated curtains and crusty old wallpaper) it probably helps to look at inspiration images in magazines, online, etc and save things that you love (in a binder, on Pinterest, etc). Then stare at them to see if any of those rooms could inspire something. For example, if you see a room that looks totally different than a potential home’s living room but look closer and realize it’s the same size and shape, you could totally repaint and hang curtains and otherwise decorate it to get that look in your space. Know what I mean?
Update: Oh and as for avoiding a money pit with structural issues or other expensive upgrades you didn’t see coming, we definitely value getting a thorough inspection! Of course they can’t always catch everything, but we’d never buy a house without one and you definitely have much higher odds of finding potential issues (and then being able to opt out of the purchase) than if you skipped the inspection. We hire someone super thorough who is highly recommended and in each case he spent a minimum of 3+ hours crawling under the house, on the roof, looking into vents, etc – our guy got verrry friendly with each house. It can definitely keep you from ending up with a lemon! At least for our two house purchases it has worked out well.
So what about you guys. What do you look for or look past when it comes to house hunting? Do you make must-have lists and must-not-have lists along with nice-to-have lists? It’s definitely smart because that way you won’t let something on the nice-to-have list creep into your brain and convince you buy a house that’s missing a few of the must-haves.
I think we all know the answer, right? This guy had a little art project up his sleeves.
Ever since jumping on the Insta-wagon back in April, I’ve been itching to get some of our photos printed. We just never had a place for them and were always a little wary of the quality through various printers. But a few weeks ago when I spotted a Facebook coupon for five free Instagram prints using Picplum, I ordered away (nothing to lose, right?) and I was pretty impressed with my handful of free 5×5″ prints… so, like the sucker they hoped I’d be, I purchased a bunch more for $1 per print.
My paid order was fueled by the fact that I stumbled upon something completely accidental. With a tiny trim on two sides, these square prints fit pretty darn perfectly into the front of a jewel case (you know, the clear plastic cases that CDs come in… used to come in?… do I need to refresh everyone on what a CD is?). The only reason I ever discovered this is because my five free prints were sitting on my desk on top of an old CD case, and I realized they were basically the same size.
So I swung by Office Depot and snagged a $10 bulk pack of slim jewel cases (there were 30 of them in the pack, and I didn’t need that many, but it was the smallest pack of thin ones, and I thought thin cases would look the best). Then I just slid some of my favorite prints inside twelve of them.
As you may have guessed from that first picture, I’m not designing homemade covers for some stocking stuffer mixed CDs or anything (although I guess this would work for that too). I actually thought they made for a cool way to display photos in my Man Cave Complete With Pegboards as I’ve lovingly come to call the basement these days. Because nothing too precious makes sense down there with pieces of wood and sawdust flying everywhere – but something to cover photos that I want to display (thereby protecting them from said sawdust) might just be handy, right?
It’s certainly not very fancy or overly fussy, but I really like how easy this was and how stress-free it feels. If a rogue screw cracks a “frame” it’ll cost less than a dollar to replace. Plus they look pretty great against my navy pegboard, amIright?
Total cost for each “frame” including the art inside = $1.30. Can’t buy much other framed art for that price, right? And you know Sherry loves to say that geek is the new black. CD cases are bound to be the next mixed tape/eight-track, right?
To hang my grid I just used 3m Command strips (the velcro kind for “damage free” picture hanging). I actually like to use the strips perpendicular to one another (rather than right on top of each other) – that way I have more flexibility to move things around once both strips are stuck in place (I can shift things up and down or side to side a bit that way).
And fortunately the holes on my pegboard made for a great guide when I was pressing them into place.
Wanna know a secret? I actually tucked an extra photo or two behind some of them. So if I ever want to mix things up I can just hinge the case open, swap the photos, and call it a day.
And since I have extra photos and extra cases, I can always expand my super
classy inexpensive art installation across the whole board down there. But for now I’m leaving it open so I can hang some other non-Instagrammy item on the right. Ya never know when I might come across something else to dude things up down here. Although I’m surrounded by hammers and drills and saws, so I’m a pretty happy guy already.
Oh and every time we share pics we realize that we should mention a few other things on the basement agenda, so here they are:
- stain some of the wood going on down there (like that burned shelf and the dusty and less-forgiving-because-they’re-so-light counters)
- possibly stain the concrete floors (since they’re pretty light and not-too-forgiving either)
- paint the old scratched up door that leads to the basement (yellow like the front door)
- hopefully deal with the exposed ceilings (although there are things like plumbing and duct-work that hang down, making it less simple than just screwing up some drywall)
In the meantime, does anyone else have Instagram art projects up their sleeves? I’d love to hear ‘em – especially if you know of other cool places to get them printed on paper, canvas, etc. Oh yeah, and if you want to follow us on Instagram you can find us at (you’ll never guess) @younghouselove.
Psst- We hear the Cultivate quiz from yesterday’s giveaway is still running very slowly/crashing. Looks like they weren’t quite ready for all of you quiz-loving folks! So sorry about that, guys. We hope they get all the kinks worked out soon… and there’s still a $200 gift card for one lucky winner (whether you take the quiz or not), so that’s the good news!