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Business, Bedding, & Butlering

As of 5:30pm yesterday, our second big Homearama Showhouse deadline was hit. Phew. The builder was throwing a preview party at the house so everything had to be done, cleaned, and ready to be shown off to a whole slew of people (realtors, prospective buyers, generous local companies who donated furnishings/accessories to this cause, etc). Heck, the weather even cooperated in the final seconds and gave us this nice photo op.

It was kinda weird yet exciting to have the place alive with people, music, and food. They brought in caterers to show off the kitchen/appliances, and Sherry and I pretty much gorged since we had been running around in hyper-drive all day. There were literally picture frames and window treatments being hung in the last few minutes, so it was one of those down-to-the-wire moments.

We were also able to begin snapping some “after” photos in a couple of the rooms (we figured they’d never look cleaner). And since we’re hopelessly impatient, here we sit at 11pm, sizing and uploading pictures so that we can share them with you right away. I blame all the cookies I downed at the party.

So here’s what we had time to photograph before the crowd rolled in: the study, the butler’s pantry, and the master bedroom. Get ready for lots of photos and lots of source links.

You’ve seen the office in various forms already, including this mood board, but here she is in her final state:

Here’s a shot with the double-doors pushed fully out of view. The rug and chair were donated by West Elm, the table is from a local furniture purveryor called Green Front Furniture (I think the manufacturer is called Barkman, but I don’t have a link), the light is from our Shades of Light collection, and the curtains were made by U-Fab, in this fabric (the curtain rods are from Lowe’s). The walls are Simply White and the ceiling is Skydive (both by Benjamin Moore).

As we mentioned a while back, we wanted to stage a more feminine office than what we’re used to seeing in other showhouses (they usually feel sort of study-ish and masculine). So Sherry had a blast planning a little spot she’d love to call her own.

The metal tray and vases are from Target, and the big fiddle leaf fig is from a local nursery.

Tucked along the inside wall is a bit of open storage to help keep this fictional work-at-home mom organized. It’s this whitewashed wood & metal shelf from West Elm.

A theme with all of the shelves in this house is that they’re a little bit more bare than we’d probably keep them in our own home (read: we have more clutter), but for budget, time, and practicality reasons we went a bit lighter for the showhouse (two weeks to outfit nearly 25 spaces = mad dashes like whoa). So even if it’s not completely realistic, we tried to add a few office-y details (binders, boxes for file storage, a few frames, containers full of paperclips and rubber bands, etc) while keeping things from getting too busy.

The shelves are mostly stocked with items from HomeGoods or Target, plus some magazines and books that we brought from home.

At a local craft fair this weekend we picked up some more of these motivational “wisdom cards” that we have scattered around our own house. This one says “know when to show up.”

Speaking of motivational art, once the curtains were hung and that metal shelf came into the room we had less wall space to hang the two larger prints from Help Ink that we originally planned to put in here (we ordered large 24″ x 36″ prints) but they kindly sent along some smaller extras for us, which we were able to frame at the last second (literally minutes before we snapped these photos yesterday).

So yeah, the fictional gal who works in this study has pretty much zero excuse not to be motivated.

We were going to have the electrician add a floor outlet (for plugging in desk items, like the computer charger) based on our final furniture placement. But instead he’ll probably just do it for the eventual owner so it can be customized to their furniture layout, and not ours. Especially since a real laptop won’t be hanging out on that table for the show (we have a stack of notebooks that’ll be in its place most of the time).

Now let’s slip through the butler’s pantry (i.e. the small hallway between the kitchen and dining room) which is nearly impossible to shoot since it’s so small, but is such a fun accent in person (it garnered a lot of attention during last night’s event, which was really fun to witness firsthand). We pictured it serving as a fun spot for a family to write out meals for the week, jot notes to each other, or even scribble up a drink menu for a party if they want to use the small space as a makeshift bar – but we wanted to set it up as a fun little coffee/wine station with a bolder look for the show.

So we called up a local restaurant called Urban Farmhouse who is known for their chalkboard menus and signs (heck, we even Instagrammed one last summer). A few days later Li was there creating this masterpiece for us, all of which she hand lettered (any locals who want to hire her for signs and chalkboard art can email her at

As Sherry mentioned yesterday, it’s all done in chalk marker (so it’s not dusty and can’t be smudged) but it can be erased with a magic eraser (or just painted over if the eventual owners don’t want it). But for the purposes of the show, it’s a fun surprise to cap off our little coffee/wine set-up in there. And it was awesome to see how many people were taking their photos in front of it for the party.

Let’s switch gears and check out the master bedroom.


The funny thing about sharing the office and the bedroom in one post is that they both have a similar palette. The office’s jumping off point was the rug Sherry found along with that awesome Help Ink art, and in here we were inspired by that awesome painting that was donated for the duration of the show by Lesli Devito (all of her art is for sale by the way, and she’ll ship it anywhere in the US).


The king bed is a woven banana leaf frame from Green Front Furniture, which is also where the wood nightstands hail from, along with the dresser made by Universal. The curtains are the same fabric as the office ones, just in aqua (also made by U-Fab) and the walls are Stonington Gray by Benjmain Moore.

We haven’t found the perfect thing for over the bed, so that’s why it’s bare (we figure bare is better than hanging something we don’t like up there) but the camera was set on a low tripod, so when you walk through at eye height the light fixture hangs down into that spot and fills things in a little more, which is nice.  Still wouldn’t mind finding something for that wall before the show though…


As you know, we’ve also experimented with mixing in some gold and brass accents throughout this house (we have two gold fixtures in the kitchen over the island, one in front of the fireplace in the living room, one in the hallway above the stairs, another one in here, and a few more peppered throughout). We didn’t want to use gold/brass exclusively (we fell for a few other silver and oil-rubbed-bronze lights – and even a few colorful/painted ones), so we just mixed in enough of each type to feel intentional, so no light fixture is the odd man out.

In cases like this one over the bed, it’s awesome that it’s paired with chrome, so the fixtures in the nearby bathroom (which are all chrome) feel related. This wood ring chandelier was donated by Shades of Light.


The rug is this Fair Isle 9×12′ donated by Dash & Albert and the bedside lamps are HomeGoods scores.


We kept the night tables simple, kinda like the cleaner version of what ours usually look like. Sherry picked up some inexpensive jewelry from World Market along with a simple mug and a plate (also from there) to casually hold the things that our imaginary lady takes off before bed.


As we mentioned yesterday, the bedding’s from Pine Cone Hill and we love how it relates to Lesli’s art.


Our first instinct was to put more lamps on the dresser, but that made the room feel kinda lamp heavy (with two on the side tables already), so we went for plants and baskets.

Two woven benches (clearanced down to $33 from Target) sit at the foot of the bed to round out the texture-heavy space (we love how they tie into the woven headboard). And you can see where one of our original Help Ink prints that we got for the office ended up since the color worked nicely in here. Oh the benefits of carrying a color scheme through more than one room…


If we had the foresight, we probably would’ve ordered a version mounted on wood to tie into the wood furniture, but for now the simple white frame from JoAnn Fabrics does the job. There are definitely a ton of things we learned/would have done differently throughout this process, so we’re thinking about writing a post like that for you guys when this whole show is said and done. There’s a giant learning curve, so trial and error has really been our method along the way.

Across from the bed is where the feminine elements of the room get balanced out a bit, thanks to some gray nailhead chairs with blue pillows (all HomeGoods finds) and some gritty framed photography. The side table is from Target and the gold planter is from HomeGoods. In the background you can see a bit of the “atrium” as we’re calling it (with a Shades of Light driftwood fixture and West Elm brass-framed mirror).

A local shop called Modern Artifacts was kind enough to lend us some artwork for the show, so at the last minute (i.e. yesterday afternoon) we picked up some of these yellow-hued urban photographs by Bill Dickinson. They relate to some of the yellow in Lesli’s artwork and hey, you get a little peek into the bathroom there.

The party started before I could finish photographing the master bathroom, but we can’t wait to share that room with you guys (it’s one of our favorites). But this post is long enough anyway, so we hope to be back at least one more time this week with more after photos and sources.



The Show Must Go On

For the last few weeks we have eaten, slept, and breathed all things showhouse. We knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I’ll be the first to admit that we completely underestimated how much time, effort, and – well, shopping – it would take to turn a 3,500 square foot blank-ish slate into a lived-in-ish looking home. In two weeks, no less. So as you can imagine we’ve pretty much been camped out there. Or driving back and forth with a car full of stuff, unloading it, placing it on various surfaces, and repeating.

We thought most of the major hurdles had been cleared after choosing fixtures and finishes over the last few months, but that’s because we didn’t realize just how many surfaces there would be to decorate. We’d been gradually collecting items for the house since January (which is when we picked out a lot of furniture, honed in some art selections, ordered curtains and bedding, and started stocking up on general accessories) so after our furniture-unloading-day two weeks ago, we (naively) expected the house to look pretty complete. Instead, most spaces just looked like this. #sadtrombone

Sure, those breakfast nook built-ins were a big task on their own, but we fell short everywhere – on tabletops, vanities, counters, porches, beds, desks, etc. Everything looked sparse, and we had a minor freak-out. But our builder and the Homearama folks reassured us that we were in good shape. We just had to shop our little hearts out. Thank goodness we bought a bigger car because it looks like this almost constantly. We estimate that we have made close to 20 car-completely-full runs from small local boutiques, thrift shops, and larger retailers with everything from pillows, rugs, planters, tabletop accessories, bedding, books, and beyond.

Picture us filling multiple carts at HomeGoods, Target, and World Market on at least four occasions, to stock up on everything from frames and pillows to dishware and towels. And as we rolled towards the checkout (and watched various cashiers get wide-eyed) we profusely apologized every time.

We even found ourselves at the grocery store to pick up items to stock/style the kitchen. I think the cashier just chalked up our unusual purchase to pregnancy cravings. Well, at least the 9 bags of powdered donuts. Which, btw, pro-tip: don’t put your donuts out so early that they get mostly eaten by everyone working on the house (there are still people dropping by to fix scratches in the floor, touch up paint, make last minute electrical updates, finish a few carpentry projects, etc). But it was nice to reward such an awesome team… so maybe the tip should be: motivation can be handed out in donut form.

As of yesterday, the house was looking about 85% done – including those breakfast nook shelves. Sherry still has a bunch of tweaks that she wants to make (just sharing this not-completely-done shot makes her twitchy) but they’re a lot further along than they were a few weeks ago. A crew rolled through on Friday and shot video & photos to use while promoting the show (our first deadline) and the builder is hosting an event there today (our second deadline), which is why it has been such a rush to get things in order – even though each of these seven showhouses don’t open to the public until May 1st. Oh, that and there’s a baby coming soon for us (nine days and counting) so we have our own little deadline going on too.

You’ll notice the shelves above also got painted gray in the back, which was one of those 11th hour tweaks that we found ourselves making. We’d thought they might need some color back there, but it wasn’t until things started to come together that we decided that the same gray tone from the kitchen cabinets would tie them together, so we held up paint swatches to find a match (the winner was Timber Wolf Gray by Ben Moore if anyone’s wondering).

So yeah, they juuuuust got painted yesterday afternooon by Parker, the same guy who hung the laundry room wallpaper for us. Speaking of which, we made a last-minute change in there too. We were staring at it with the builder and the woman who runs the entire event and said “should we add a shelf? A chunky white floating one would probably be really functional.” Both voted yes, and it was on. The carpenter came over and knocked one out within 24 hours (including hanging it and painting it) and we all love it. Hooray for final-hour updates.

Here’s the foyer area, now sporting a big white driftwood mirror that we grabbed at HomeGoods on Thursday. We had hung framed art there just two days before, so our decorating process definitely hasn’t been a straight line. Trial and error is the name of the game. Sometimes we just have to see things before we know if it’s IT or if it’s “meh” – and then there’s a mad scramble to turn as many “mehs” into “heck yeahs” as we can.

In the background you can see a bit of the living room, which plays host to a big painting of Burger that our amazing friend Lesli Devito made just for that spot. Sure the real homeowner probably won’t put a giant pet painting up there (there’s a TV hookup behind there in case they want to mount theirs in that spot) but we thought it’d be a bit cheeky and fun for the show. A nod to our handsome four-legged friend, if you will. Especially since there are a bunch of more serious furnishings and accessories in the rest of the kitchen and living room.

A lot of you guys have asked where these furnishings and accessories will go when the house is sold since they’re all purchased (or donated or borrowed) just for the show. The answer is that once the show’s over, the homeowner has the option to buy a few items of furniture or art if they’d like – but they will mostly be furnishing/decorating this house so it works for their family (and not the fictional family that we’ve created in our minds). So many of the donated items will be paid forward to the Habitat ReStore or returned to the vendors, while things that came out of the builder’s decorating budget might be re-used in future model homes.

One of the toughest spaces to fill was the playroom/reading room upstairs, which I don’t think we’ve shown before. We wanted to do big bookshelves (with a built-in bench) in this room so it could be used as a quiet reading spot if the future owner didn’t need a younger kids play space, although we decorated it somewhere in the middle – both with games and books so everyone in the family could picture a spot to chill out and relax. We’re still waiting on our upholstered bench cushion for the window and a few other touches, but it’s coming along.

Of course last fall when we chatted about this room with the builder and the architect, we didn’t really think about having to get books upon books to fill all of those shelves that flank the window bench on both sides. So a few weeks ago in a moment of desperation, we called our buddy Kelly at a favorite local bookshop (Fountain Bookstore) and she said she had boxes and boxes of early-sample paperbacks that she was just going to recycle (they’re not allowed to be sold or donated since they’re advance copies). Phew!

We realized that we also haven’t shared this fun light fixture in there. It’s a spun glass chandelier from Shades of Light that looks great against the Dragonfly-colored walls, but is a little tough to see when photographed against the window. Can you tell we’re still learning our photography angles in this house?

One of the biggest car-fillers when it came to shopping was bedding and pillows. Not just decorative pillows for the couch and stuff, but more basic things like shams, duvets, quilts, sheets, bedskirts, and other various staples for the four beds that we had to make. A lot of it was picked up on the fly, but we did get this pretty patterned bedding donated from Pine Cone Hill for the master. It looks pretty awesome with another Lesli Devito painting that she loaned us for the show.

It’ll feel good to have the last remaining bits checked off this week, so we can hopefully squeeze in a few normal-ish days before normal gets redefined by baby Barnacle’s arrival. Our parents have been a big help in watching Clara outside of school hours, and she has clocked some pretty great quality time at the showhouse with us as well. She’s “breaking in” a lot of the rooms – like coloring at the desk in the girls room, playing make-believe with the Monopoly pieces in the playroom, and assembling Legos at the desk in the boys room.

This week will be showhouse heavy since we haven’t had much time to do anything else. But being so close to “finished” is getting us really excited to fully shoot each room and share the full monty details (listing sources, alternate angles, explanations for what went where and why, etc). So if you could hold any “where’s that from?” questions until we share each room, we plan to source every last item for you in those more detailed posts, which we’ll hopefully be rolling out this week (we’re planning to start shooting “after” photos before the party today if things come together like we hope).

I’ll leave you with one last glance of a space that we’re CRAZY excited about. We hired a local artist to deck out the chalkboard wall in the butler’s pantry (which has become a coffee/wine station for our imaginary family) with a chalk pen mural full of coffee and wine terms, and boy is she decking. it. out. It’s not dusty or smudge-able with a finger, but it can be scrubbed off with a magic eraser if the future homeowner doesn’t want to keep it. She’ll be back tomorrow to put the finishing touches on it, and then we can’t wait to shoot a million wide shots to show you how that awesome little hallway between the kitchen and the dining room has evolved.

We realize it – as well as lots of other design choices in the house – aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of coffee tea, which might be an issue if we were decorating a spec or a model home (where the goal is to sell it by appealing to as many potential buyers at possible), but as a showhome, the purpose of this house is a tad more complex. Each of the seven Homearama teams have been encouraged to make unique and specific choices to keep the show varied and interesting – and oddly enough, these homes tend to sell pretty fast thanks to all of those special features, even though they might not be safe/universal.

So while these builders create dozens of more basic and mass-appealing homes each year, these showhomes aren’t like that at all. In fact, on Friday we got to run through a couple of the others in this year’s event, and we can’t wait to share some wide shots when everyone’s done decorating. In the meantime, here are just a few examples of some specific choices that other builders & design teams are integrating:

Please bear with us while we power through this last intense week of showhouse stuff (knock on wood) and slowly work our way around the house to share all of the afters (and sources) with you guys. Speaking of powering through, I’ve been killing it on my FitBit steps thanks to this job lately. And poor Sherry, her feet have just been killing her. That reminds me, seeing as it’s 10:32 on Sunday night as I wrap up this post, I probably have a foot rub that I should be getting to…

PS: For those asking about Homearama tickets, they’re usually $10 (children 18 & under are free) but you can get them for 20% off (and show some love to Habitat if you’re so inclined) here. The show is open Thurs-Sun, the first three weekends of May.