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Something Old, New, Borrowed, & Blue

Our office continues to creep towards the finish line (tortoise style) with the addition of an overhead light…

… and new desk chairs.

You might recognize the light because it’s none other than the one we used to have hanging in our kitchen (loosely meeting both the “old” and “borrowed” criteria from this post’s title). We loved the light itself, but mentioned a few times in the comments that after living with it for a little while, we weren’t sure we loved it as much as we initially thought we would in the kitchen. So we figured we’d try it in the office.

The second it was up, we were sold. It feels polished and traditional to us, so it’s a nice mix with the clean-lined furnishings and colorful art (the more modern counterparts of the room) and the paned bay window and thick crown molding (the other more traditional elements that are already present). Functionally speaking, it’s nice and bright (it’s a two-bulb fixture) and we’re both soaking up the luxury of finally having a ceiling fixture to flick on when we enter the room. We’ve even talked about going to a glass place (or a lighting place) and having them cut a quatrefoil-shaped diffuser to fit it, so we’ll keep you posted if we get around to that.

Of course now that we stole that light from the kitchen we just have a bare bulb dangling in there, but we’re glad to have found our big quatrefoil shade a more permanent home.

Now for the chairs. Don’t you remember them from our kitchen too?

Just kidding, they’re new. And blue.

It all started when a reader named Sabrina tipped me off to a big sale going on at PB Teen and mentioned they had some pretty nice stuff. Lately I’ve noticed a bunch of designers using stuff from PB Teen in adult spaces. In other words, don’t let the name scare you. Oh and check out PB Kids too (they have some gorgeous lights right now). In fact, Real Simple had an awesome living room a few months back and the thing I loved most and swore was probably super expensive ended up being like $150 at PB Teen.

But I digress. These chairs caught my eye the second I headed over to the site – especially because of the awesome button tufting and curved arms (traditional) and those sleek legs with wheels (the more modern counterpart). Although the light gray and teal one were completely charming, the navy one screamed my name the loudest (less worry about stains, and a nice dark/rich color to ground our light and airy office) so I showed John and held my breath. John is somewhat of a chair diva. He wanted our new office chairs to be adjustable (check), have arms (check), be on wheels (check), and not have a ton of cumbersome levers and handles under them (we looked at a lot of prior chair options looked like an oversized eight-armed spider lived under them). These actually checked all of his chair diva boxes. BIIIIIG SIGH. He was in.

Actually, I loved them enough to pull the trigger, but it wasn’t until I called a local Pottery Barn store to check if we could return them there (instead of having to pay to ship them back if we didn’t like them) that Practical John was completely with me on the whole “add to cart” step. They still weren’t cheap, but we certainly appreciated that they were marked down by $50 each and their friends & family sale got us 20% off on top of that (we ended up saving $118 per chair).

We did that obligatory worrying thing until they arrived on our doorstep. Would they be comfy? Would they tilt at a weird angle? Would they feel scratchy? Would they come with a nicely labeled empty box in the packaging? Turns out they did.

The good news is that they’re also comfy, they adjust so we both can have them at the height we like, the wheels glide like butter, and the sloped arms are really nice. You’re probably wondering “how does it feel to breastfeed in this desk chair?” Well, I can tell you in all sincerity that it’s quite cozy indeed.

The fabric feels almost identical to what’s on the armchair in Teddy’s room, which has lived through both food-related abuse (remember it was in the corner of our last house’s kitchen by the fireplace for a few years?) and baby-related projectiles, so we have high hopes for their durability.

Our only slight surprise was that they looked a little less blue in real life to us (they’re definitely navy, but the website photo looked almost cobalt, so we expected a little more intensity I think). But the art, the plant, and the items on the bookshelf in the office are pretty colorful, so we figure some handsome tufted navy chairs are nice classic “foundation” pieces to ground the room and balance out all the light/modern/happy stuff. Since they’re not these super bright focal points we figure that frees us up to have fun with curtains or a rug in a bolder color or pattern if we want. So although they look a little whoa-those-are-dark-chairs-in-a-light-room now, I think they’ll make more sense when we bring in those other items.

Maybe something like this? Depends on what we find. But this is a good example of how something that might look out of place in an unfinished room (the cream color of the light or the deep tone of the chairs) can sort of “gel” more as the room fills in (the tone of the light is also in the West Elm rug, and the dark curtain rod and bold curtains seem to balance out the deep color of the chairs).

So our few remaining items on the office list are those aforementioned window treatments and a rug along with getting a frame for Clara’s monster and possibly adding that diffuser to the light along with a desk lamp or two and then we should be finished in here.

It’s pretty exciting to be creeping towards a mostly-completed space since the only other rooms that are worthy of that description might be Teddy’s room and Clara’s room along with our sunroom-turned-veranda. The funny thing is that I’d bet the laundry room will be a pretty finished-looking space in a few more weeks, which is hilarious since it came out of nowhere while some other rooms we’ve been slowly upgrading for over a year still feel SO FAR from being done. Houses like to keep you on your toes like that I think.

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While The Dust Flies In The Laundry Room…

This isn’t as exciting as our big laundry room reno (nothing is!) but let’s talk about curtains for a second. Remember when our bedroom was all naked and afraid? (Sidenote: if you’re not watching that show, you should be).

We added frames and hung curtains at the same time, but it took us way longer to actually finish said curtains. We knew we wanted nice white linen-like ones for our dark-walled bedroom, and had heard a lot of good things about the Lenda curtains from Ikea around blogland (they’re their nicer/thicker white curtains with a convincing linen-looking weave, as opposed to the cheaper/thinner/breezier ones we’ve tried in previous houses). After seeing – and feeling – them in person, we were sold.

We also grabbed some nice substantial curtain rods from Lowe’s along with some nice big ring hooks (the same ones that we used in Teddy’s room).

They didn’t look so great when we first hung them after washing and drying them (to account for shrinkage), which is why we moved on to our little frame project (and asked you ignore the curtains while posting about that).

Once we finished with the frames, I turned my attention back to the curtains and slowly (as in, it took me a month to finish them) got ‘em done. First I took them down one by one and ironed them. I also removed the tabs at the top, so we could clip them more cleanly to each panel. See how it looks floppy and folded over in the one that’s hanging below? No bueno.

Just ironing them and removing the tab tops made a big difference. We also realized that they looked nicer when they were less pulled out/wide. That’s right, after years of practicing hanging curtains “high and wide” to give the illusion of bigger windows, it felt odd to like the look of tighter, narrower curtains – but it really gave these curtain panels a cleaner and fuller look.

The last thing they needed was a bit of a hem on the bottom, so after three weeks or so of being almost-but-not-quite done, I took to my sewing machine to make a nice thick hem (around 4″).

Here they are after. So. Much. Better.

I just want to rehang the curtain rods a little closer to the windows (nothing a little spackle and paint can’t solve).

Oh and one more tip is that when I hung them I sort of trained the fabric to alternate the direction of the loops with the rings (between two rings I’d train it to swoop out and between the next two rings I’d train the fabric to swoop in). That created a nice shape that I could follow down the rest of the panel for that drapey look. The professionally made curtains at the showhouse had that shape to them, and we really liked it. They felt so polished and tailored. Here we use faux white wood blinds for privacy, and the showhouse has plantation shutters, so in both cases the curtains are purely decorative (so they’re not drawn closed and can keep that shape).

Speaking of the professionally made curtains we got for the showhouse, we’re actually debating getting some made for our office. We know it won’t be as cheap as buying fabric and making our own (or grabbing pre-made ones by mass retailers) but we really loved how the showhouse ones turned out, and we conveniently met a seamstress through that process that we can use. We actually debated using her for bedroom curtains, but we figured white linen looking curtains were easy enough to find, so we’ll save her talents for a more not-readily-available result, like office curtains in one of these fabrics:

We ran through our favorite local fabric store (U-Fab) to grab these swatches. We love all of them for different reasons, so we’re still simmering on which one to go with. The patterned ones feel a little busy when we hold them up, and although we thought we’d love the emerald green or the orange ones for being a little different than our usual choices, they both felt sort of thicker/heavier than we expected when we put them next to the window.

Our favorite of the group is probably the top right swatch, which we only realized after holding them all up is the same fabric we used for the window treatments in the master bedroom of the showhouse, so while it feels sort of anticlimactic to go with the same thing at home, it’s also nice that they’re pre-vetted and we know we love them (and that they drape beautifully).

We’re not 100% sold on it yet though, so we’ll keep you posted when we make a decision. Sometimes I look into the office and think leaving the windows bare might actually be beautiful…

We also made a few curtain updates in Clara’s room, since we both had some issues with how hers had been looking. I thought the pattern was competing a little too much with the bold rug and the playful raindrop painted wall, and  Mr. Function (John) didn’t like how the blackout curtains, which were clipped behind each breezy panel, made them feel a little bulky when we slid them open and closed since we hadn’t ever sewn them together. Plus, the thin rod – a carryover from our last house – was starting to sag.

They actually photograph better than they look in person (photogenic curtains?), but in real life they felt a little more demanding and messy looking. So while in the midst of hanging Clara’s new light, we tried two things: flipping the panels backwards (the pattern was more muted on the other side) and removing the blackout curtains (which we’ve been considering weaning Clara off of anyways). They immediately felt less bold and heavy.

So I took them down and I sewed a hem on all four sides of all four panels (16 hems!) so that hanging them backwards looked more finished. For a second I worried about how bad the bold circles might look from the street with them drawn, but realized that since we close the blinds before pulling the curtains closed, they’d never be visible from outside – and since we removed the blackout panels we probably would just shut the blinds and leave the curtains open anyway.

Rather than rehanging them on those thin, sagging curtains rods; we took the opportunity to upgrade those too. We went with white wood ones from Lowe’s so that we no longer had a dark metal line cutting across the top of each window. That’s a look that we like almost every where else, but Clara’s room is so light and playful that it felt oddly heavy and out of place in here. As soon as we got the white rods up, they felt great.

I was waiting for one of you eagle eyed readers to notice the rod change/curtain flip in Clara’s light post, but nobody did! To be fair, we hardly showed them, so here’s a nice full view for ya. We’re still not certain they’ll be Clara’s forever curtains, but we’re both liking them much better, and it was a zero dollar change other than the rod upgrade (they’ll stay no matter what curtains end up there someday).

Oh and as for the length in here, John was adamant that ours be floor-length in our bedroom (he likes that look best) but agreed that a little loose pooling action on Clara’s floor would be ok for these. I think that casual french vibe goes well with her Belle-looking chandelier.

The best news of all is that so far our fears of ruining Clara’s sleep habits without blackouts have been unfounded. She’s still taking good naps in the afternoon (which is when the sun hits her windows the most directly) and isn’t waking at sunrise like we worried she would. Turns out those white faux-wood blinds do a pretty decent job at blocking light on their own, so they seem to be just fine without blackouts backing them up.

There you have it. A whole lot of hem-sewing, some new rods, and some curtain considerations for the office. Now it’s back to laundry room stuff (today we’re re-routing vents, which sounds about as exciting as it is – but next is drywall!). Until then I’ll be daydreaming about what curtains we’ll hang in the future bunk room someday and trying not to duct tape my fingers together.

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