Thursday, August 27, 2015

Some Added Potential- The Future Den

This is seriously the house that never ends…. We complete a room, and then there's another that follows. I'm not complaining- it's a good problem to have especially in our neighborhood where the houses aren't necessarily sprawling with square feet. Every time we redo a room, I can see us living here an extra year or two than I could before. I think it's been God's way of telling us to slow down and enjoy this home. I'll be honest, we go back and forth about moving, but this house is still surprising us with how well it fits for our family. It truly was the biggest blessing in disguise when Nathan purchased this place 5 years ago.
Now to the point of this post- our future den! I. Am. So. Excited. Our house has an addition off of the kitchen that was built in the early 90s. It's the main reason we have such a tiny (but now cute) backyard. Nathan used it as his bedroom back in the college days and then it turned into our workroom when we started renovating the rest of the house.  Honestly, it's been filled with so much furniture and junk the last 5 years, we completely forgot how big the room really is and missed the hidden potential.
We closed that door when company was over...
It's only appropriate on this blog to show you how we embarrassingly lived for years prior to renovating. If you would like a reminder of past embarrassment please feel free to click the following:  Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D... or read basically any post I've done.
With Max's first birthday party planned for mid June- we realized that we should probably clear the room out especially since most of our big house projects are complete. It took only one night of cleaning and we were suddenly left standing there realizing what we have been missing the past few years…

I felt stupid.
It is huge (for our house). And that ceiling!  Someone knew what they were doing when they vaulted those bad boys and added those beams.  I used to curse this room because it was such a mess and encroaching on our backyard, but it wasn't until we actually CLEANED that we saw the potential.
Other than the extra square footage, one of the best features is the fireplace and a MANTEL. Remember when we created the "BuiltIn" situation in our living room because I wanted a mantel to decorate for Christmas? I guess the addition was so stuffed to the brim at that point, that I never even thought that its mantel would ever be an option for decorating.

Holiday mantels are very important to me if you could not tell.
There is so much potential. We are turning it into our Den/Playroom/Future Guest Room/Craft Area combo. Basically, it's going to be a giant multi-purpose room. Right now it is filled with Max's toys which has been so nice for him to run around and sprawl out. We previously had the toys in the itty bitty Living Room which needless to say made everything cramped and crazy.  
We've already replaced the carpet, painted, and bought a couch so we are well on our way- but I'll get to that in another post. It's easier and more fun for me to do small updates than one big post so this may be a long process, but hopefully you can hang in there- or follow @724SouthHouse on Instagram for some "Real Time" Progress.
I'll be back soon with our updates and some ideas I have swirling around in my head! In the meantime here is a little peak into our daily life in this room so far. The den is already working hard!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Trials and Errors of our Entry

Our entry has definitely been through the ringer and evolved over the years. It's taken a LONG time for me to be happy with it, but I think I'm finally there....

The entry is basically just a long wall to the right of our front door. There is no alcove or anything structurally that helps define the space, so I was really starting from square one. Feast your eyes on this beautiful picture of the long wall for your reference:

We are usually on a limited budget, so for a while I had to work with what I had- including a gigantic and not so attractive dresser.
A few years ago, I used a skirted DIY approach to lighten up and cover an old dresser that was acting as our entry table. It definitely helped the situation because it finally gave me something to put my keys (and junk) on- but the dresser was too long and I was never in love with the coverup situation. I tried to get on the fabric skirt train, but it was always a source of sore eyes for me.

Since the dresser was too long, I had a hard time finding something on the wall to balance it out. I tried so many different things including this Cozamia print above (which I still love) but it didn't work in the space and I felt like it was dictating all of my design decisions in the surrounding rooms. The print is now in the guest room where it is a much better fit (even though that room has been abandoned for quite a while… ,At this point, I'm just holding out until it needs to become Max's big boy room.)

I tried all different kinds of things before deciding on the direction I wanted to go. I got out some of my old art sketches that I did in college, but I only hung four which just never looked right. It didn't occur to me for some time that it was very off balance-  two more prints (a total of 6)  would have worked much better. Duh. I also tried some mirrors and some sort of grid lattice DIY situation- but it wasn't working. Keep in mind this was like 2 years of throwing ideas out there.
Here are some of the ideas that DID. NOT. WORK...

We eventually donated the dresser because I was wanting something different and it gave me the perfect excuse for new furniture. I also gifted Nathan a new saw for  Christmas, so this was obviously going to be the first project. I sketched up some ideas for an entry table and was also inspired by this Ana White console table; however I ended up taking some design liberty and editing. Removing the four end posts made it more stream-lined and simple. Since the table needed to be fairly narrow, I didn’t want it to be bulky and I thought this was the best solution. I also love the classic X shape (like on our mobile island) so I wanted to repeat that pattern within another piece of furnishing.


We decided on the Minwax Special Walnut stain- it's not too red or dark. Dana from HouseTweaking uses this on a lot of her furniture, and I've been keeping that in my mental folder for a while now. I thought about painting it white, but figured it wouldn't hurt to stain first since you can't really go back after painting. Not surprisingly, I really love the stain and doubt I will end up painting it.

Now that the table was better proportioned and not crazy long like the dresser, I was able to focus on items to hang on the wall. I eventually found some great and FREE prints that I was able to frame. I found the link off of Apartment Therapy and I love the look. They are a bit more modern than standard botanical prints- but still have the classic look. You will notice that I hung six (instead of four like I did with my art prints a year prior). Hanging six really helped balance everything out- it looked sooo bare now that I look back. Sometimes it just takes a while and lots of trial and error for something to click. I think that can be a big design mistake- by either not hanging enough or by hanging too small of frames. I have obviously done both in my day.


In the future, I may switch out the prints for a big mirror but I have yet to find a mirror that has been big or interesting enough- and in my price range. I think a mirror will brighten up the space and be practical as I'm heading out the door, but for now I'm really liking the prints. By going with larger frames and hanging them high, I think it makes the walls look taller than what they actually are- and the white mats are a great compliment to the darker wood.

Here's a cheapo solution: If your artwork is not expensive or you are just framing prints- you can easily cut out mats from posterboard with an x-acto knife. I do it ALL THE TIME because I'm not willing to spend money on expensive mats from the framing store. I will only buy an acid free, custom mat if I have something that is more valuable and I want it to keep for a while. Also, these frames are the very inexpensive kind from Hobby Lobby- the ones I would usually pass up in the aisle because they looked dinky and cheap.

Another note: When in doubt- go larger with your frames. It usually never fails.

I finished styling with a black lamp from World Market and baskets from HomeGoods- and of course a tray, a collection of books, and picture frames.
FYI- This greenery is FAKE. I'm not above it.

This greenery, however, is real- but was clipped out of the brush on the side of my house. Free décor for everyone.
This space was a toughie for me (and I'm not even sure if its done). I would love to flank It with two chairs, but I cant justify spending $$ on that at the moment. This just goes to show that you may have to live with a space for a while- and go through some trial and error- before you can achieve the look you want. I wasn't happy with it for YEARS, but I'm now loving that this is the first thing you see when you walk into our home.


As Barb Boelscher always says- Patience is a virtue!


*Linking up on Thrifty Décor Chick