House Tour: The Basement

BASEMENT-1“Basement” seems is a cold and unfeeling word, which doesn’t describe this part of this house, in which we spend roughly 70% of our waking hours. It’s like a little chalet, or a lounge, or a den. It’s very much original to the house, with the brick fireplace, built-in bar and wood paneling everywhere (we believe there was a shuffleboard court once [it’s a real thing], but it got carpeted over). This room has also made the most dramatic change (in a house where there has been little, if any, structural change). I wish I would’ve taken progress photos over the years, but luckily I have some (appropriately shitty) photos I took when we had our appraisal done… Over 4 years ago. (Our house birthday was September 9. Woo!). Read more ›

Oh, Hello

office5Ohhhhhh hi there.

I never claimed to be a very dedicated blogger, though I would like to. Seems like the age of the blog has past us, doesn’t it? Still, I always have so many little ideas or things I want to earnestly write about, and the motivation is there, but sitting down to actually format a post always feels daunting (It’s not EVEN that daunting!). One thing in particular I feel like has contributed to my downfall is having a messy office. In my first year of college I emailed with my dad a lot and I was feeling down and he said to make sure my workspace was clean, because “a clean workspace is crucial for mental health.” Or maybe a clean living space even. These things are absolutely true for me. They might not be for everyone, because I’ve seen people at my job with piles of shit on their desk and they somehow manage to carry on working. For me though, I can’t concentrate if my desk has smudges on it, or there are loose papers everywhere. And sometimes I get so overwhelmed by it that I can’t muster the energy to actually clean up.

I probably seemed pretty pleased with my home office a couple months ago. It was bright and, for the most part, clean. But it was still cluttered, and my two desks were wobbly and uneven. Here’s how it looked only this last weekend:
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Even the photo quality is bad here, which I feel enhances the awfulness of this set up. In theory it’s great. I have a lot of desk space and light. In practice though, look how much stuff gets dumped on there? My office is typically a dumping ground for anything that doesn’t belong anywhere else (to be fair it’s my stuff already). Look at the way that cheap IKEA desktop is bowed. Look at the little printer tucked away under the bigger printer? One of those little wood boxes was JUST holding washi tape. So, even though I had my own office and it was pretty good, I would still pore over blogs and pinterest, trying to find the ideal inspiration for a clean, minimal work environment.
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I traded in my two flimsy white desktops for a super solid, smaller natural wood one. Instantly warms up the space, doesn’t it? I ditched the rug, because it was filthy and a weird size, and it slid all around the floor. I had a little set of three rubbermaid drawers that were GOD AWFUL and I made a serious upgrade to the ALEX set of drawers. And as I wished in the other blog post, I switched out desk lamps which I’m well into.
Add in a little greenery and actually put some of your shit up on the walls and it’s a true haven.
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The desk is a lot deeper too so instead of using one desk for my Mac and one for my Macbook, I can simply push the computer and keyboard back. And yes, I DO actually use both computers for different things.

Anyway, I would like to use this as a jumping off point towards more blog posts, because I ACTUALLY have things I want to say, and have had things in my mind for months! So, why not start off with something sort of trivial like an office makeover to ease back in?

$20 Wall Art / New Dining Room tour

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If I die child-less, I think my biggest accomplishment will be having had a beautiful house.

Back when we bought this home, the Mid-Century Modern trend was still hot (let’s be honest, it always is) and here we had this beautiful MCM home (I never thought we’d have one!). So I thought, we have to furnish it correctly. I wanted it to be bold and colorful! And I wanted an Eames chair and a George Nelson clock! Atomic! Kitsch! You can see the direction we were headed with this initial living room showcase I did back when I started the blog.
I was thinking that every room would have its own color motif. The kitchen was to be green (which I have scaled back over time), and the living room was going to be teal, yellow an orange. Fine MCM color schemes. Try as I might though, I didn’t feel the colorful, quasi-kitschiness in my bones. I couldn’t commit my house to a style that my heart wasn’t in. There are still some remnants of that old style (the rug in the living room, for example) but overall, we’ve remained neutral.

I didn’t reject Mid-Century Modern though, which I’m happy about. When I first latched onto it about 6ish years ago, I thought it looked great, but also didn’t dream I’d ever have a Mid Century House with Mid Century furnishings. It’s really a big commitment, considering the prices on some key furniture pieces. We’ve managed, however, through IKEA, craigslist and luck. Take the above: Our dining room (and partial kitchen). Finding the right credenza was a hard-fought battle, but we ended up with something affordable and incredibly stylish (and unexpected). The Danish Modern dining set was a CL score that Alan found for *$300!*. The beautiful ceiling light came with the house!  And I never dreamed that Alan, who, when we met, liked dark colored walls and overstuffed furniture, would be the one hunting for MCM dining sets, or saying we should buy the credenza. I can see how this style of decorating could be off-putting for some. There’s no actual color to be found anywhere in this picture.  But he really came around and we see every new stylistic touch in the house as a major success.

I digress. While I would love to show off our dining room (again), this is more about a crafty project we did over the weekend, that’s so easy you’d be crazy not to at least try it out.

$20 WALL ART DIY
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Here’s the dining room just on Saturday (and the cat! Her tongue!). I had a few cheaply framed pieces of art (a drawing an Icelandic Redditor sent me a few years ago, and a picture I took Up North last summer), and had plans to have more of a gallery wall, but last weekend I mentioned that I’d just learned about Engineer Prints to Alan, and we thought about where we could put a giant photo in the house, and this seemed like the best place.

Engineer prints are really more for like, blueprints and stuff, but if you’re savvy, you can print a massive photograph you took yourself for about $5. Find an office supply store that also does printing (In my case, Staples does good work) and order online to pick up in-store. Make your photo the right size (mine is 3×4′) and convert to grayscale dot pattern. That’s all you need to do. (You can print anything at any size if it’s dot pattern. Protip).
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I used a photo I took last summer at the cabin  ‘cuz trees are nice.
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To make this as cheap as possible, we’re using the same un-framing technique I mentioned in my post about my office.  The binder clips are a little inelegant and not necessarily in a charming way. We may screw the wood together in the future and hang it by a string, which would be inelegant in a charming way.
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Seriously, $300 for this whole thing.
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My Iceland Reddit drawing got displaced, so I took down the Keep Calm poster (which looked shabby anyway, despite how much I love it). It really brings that area together! (Also, note our charming new radio which is this brand . It’s very stylish and has a surprisingly powerful speaker. A budget version for the Tivoli admirers). The wooden frame holding the Keep Calm poster then became host to our Art Crank poster on the other side of the room:
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*Carefully framed picture to include The Smiths vinyl*
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I’m sharing this with you lovely people, even though it’s a nifty secret, because I saw PhotoJojo trying to sell these things for $25.  And it takes a WEEK to get to you. Pay a little extra at Staples and pick it up the same day. Boom. You’re welcome. 

Let’s Furnish my Skyrim Apartment

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Yesterday Ikea announced that it would be bringing the series Nornas to US stores in February. My initial reaction was that holy crap, THIS is where I need to live. Look at those gorgeous floors, the snow-dusted pines, and the bare, natural wood featured throughout. It’s my Skyrim apartment all over the place.

Dedicated readers will know that Skyrim is a topic much touched upon here. I haven’t even played in a while and yet the game continues to influence me IRL. My fixation with adventure combined (this is crucial) with beautiful landscapes undoubtedly started when I obsessively watched Fellowship of the Ring over and over in my youth. I went to New Zealand for a Summer study abroad program as a direct result of my LotR obsession. So, when I started to play Skyrim as an adult, I was brought back into a world of mountains and wintry forests. My Fantasy is a literal fantasy. I want to run around fields and mountains with a sword and shit. Like, it’s serious how much I wish that was my life. If there was a Skyrim/Middle Earth hybrid that existed (probably without Mordor though?) that’d be ideal. Thanks.
This is also why I will probably always be reluctant to start playing Fallout, and when I do, I won’t love it as much as Skyrim. Sorry Alan.


So anyway, this Ikea collection is *really* perfect, and it makes me regret every purchase we’ve ever made in our home. Except the couch I guess can stay. No, our furnishings are great. I just wish this series had been around before. We don’t have anything that is that exposed knotty pine.
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What I love about this collection especially is what it excludes. This is serious no-nonsense furniture. It’s solid, practical design.

Now…If I were going to choose where I’d live in Skyrim, without hesitation I’d say Whiterun. One time I said I’d want to live in Markarth and Alan said he would too, but I didn’t really mean it, and I felt trapped. (LOL)
Skyrim-BreezehomeAnd If I could, I would update the house just a little bit:
e0b39657aa73d8ee0eba9ad7a1416bd4If Whiterun had a coffee shop and wifi I’d be set for life (they already have a bar).

Go ahead and laugh at me now.

The great credenza odyssey

CREDENZASINCE getting married, we’ve now been spending a lot of time getting the house in order, and buying exciting furniture. It’s a slow, arduous process, but ultimately rewarding. You can’t just buy furniture willy nilly! These things take planning, and budgeting. If you’re trying to create a cohesive style for your house, it can take forever to find the right furniture piece to complement a room. Oof.

So we had these cheap IKEA bookcases on both sides of the fireplace before. You can see it here. They were working OK for awhile, but c’mon, we’re adults. We should have grown up furniture. Having nice furniture would also decrease the amount of stuff just lying out, being exposed. We got rid of the bookcase on one side back in January with the addition of this gorgeous piece of furniture, the Framework Credenza from CB2:CRW_3144Now that we had a nice, understated piece of furniture, we thought we should get a second one for the other side of the fireplace for like, dining storage and stuff. That’s a thing people have. They’re called buffets, or sideboards. K. We thought for a while we should get one that matched this credenza. So we went on the hunt for a boxy, quasi-industrial-modern piece of furniture.
img22cWe found this one from West Elm, which was perfect! It complemented the other credenza without being TOO matchy, and it had drawers for storage, and we could still display some books and things if we wanted. We went to West Elm to scope it out, and ordered it, but it was on backorder for a few weeks. In the meantime, we got rid of the bookcases and cleaned the area up in anticipation of its arrival. Power nesting, if you will. Then at long last we received an email from West Elm, presumably telling us the credenza was on its way! Yay! We couldn’t wait! Nope, it was actually no longer available.

Goddammit! Back to square one!

Since then we’d been a bit aimless. Not knowing where else to look for this piece of furniture. We’d exhausted our search of the 4 or 5 furniture stores we know about (Literally: Ikea, West Elm, CB2, Crate & Barrel and Room & Board). Now we had a gaping hole in our dining room area. And worst of all, our radio had nowhere to live except on the hearth.

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Then for a while we got really excited about this local furniture maker/artisan WOODSPORT and thought maybe we could justify spending thousands of dollars on a functional work of art. Just take a look around that website, please. The pieces are phenomenal.

Then, my car had problems, and it’s now deemed unsalvageable so I need to get a new one eventually. Also, our chimney is crumbling and we need to fix that. Suddenly we didn’t have a whole lot of dough to spend on fancy furniture. Back to the drawing board. Again.

THEN, last night while Alan was mowing I decided to look through the stores again, just to see if anything popped out at me. I saw this, and even though it wasn’t really in line with the other pieces, it still did look really nice, clean, and functional, and best of all, it was relatively inexpensive. I showed it to Alan and we measured out the space and his exact words were “Well, I’m feeling a little saucy. Want to go get it?”

It’s so awesome having IKEA like, 10 minutes from your house. While waiting in the pickup area we saw two dudes hauling away TEN carts of furniture, likely their one trip to the store a year. That would be the literal worst.CRW_3140Now, that original West Elm credenza, I don’t think would’ve worked as well. It was too rustic, and wouldn’t have stored as much as this new one.CRW_3143Thus concludes just one of the many battles waging in our house at the moment. Homeowners: Does it ever end?

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