Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Worthy Cause (and my first giveaway!)

Hi everyone!  So 10 months later, I'm back!  Every few months or so I've thought about getting back on the blog but I just have been sort of stuck in doubting myself ("Does anyone really want to read what I have to say?" and other great self talk).

But then something happened.  I've been a blog reader for a long time, and I have found so many great writers, so many sources of comfort and guidance as a mother, and fantastic inspiration as I learn to make my home what I want it to be for my family.  One of my favorite bloggers from the beginning has been Jessica from Balancing Everything (through all of her blog iterations). Recently, Jessica was hit with a health problem, and while she is thankfully on the mend she is now facing resulting financial struggles.

Enter Jessica's friends, Tracy and Kat. I honestly marvel every single day at my incredible good fortune with the friends I have in my life. In more ways than I can count I could not get by without all of them. I want every woman to be as lucky as I am, and Jessica clearly is. Against her objections, and initially unbeknownst to her, Tracy and Kat are organizing a few ways that people can help defray some of the costs that Jessica and her family are facing.  Read this post to learn more.

I feel moved to help by offering an item for the online auction. One of the very first DIY projects that I saw on a blog and thought "I might be able to do that!" was this book page wreath by Lindsay at Makely School For Girls.  It sort of sat in the back of my mind for the longest time, until recently when I had a group of friends over to make one. I finally finished one after many, many glue gun burns and I. Love. It. It is hanging in my living room now and I have wasted so much time gazing lovingly at it. My negative inner voice has hushed up enough to let me to think that maybe other people would want one of my wreaths too! Mine is a little different from Lindsay's, I just chose to roll my pages a little differently.

(For some reason these pics are showing some wonkiness in the colors of the pages, it is much more uniform than it looks.)

The auction should go up sometime next week, so stay tuned here and I will keep you posted. And thanks to Jessica and her friends, I am excited to be back in the blog saddle yet again!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Family Room Evolution

I am a very, very bad blogger. I don't even want to look at the date of my last post...I know it was a stupid long time ago. ESPECIALLY because so much has been going on around here!  We've made so many changes with paint on both walls and furniture, rotated furniture through the house and back again (and back again), put together some gallery walls...it's really non-stop!

My friend Kim has started an amazing new blog, Colors Mixed Together, and homegirl has got it goin' on. Amazing ideas, gorgeous projects (board and batten, swoon!), AND regular updating! How does she do it!? She has given me a kick in the pants to get my act together, so here I am...thanks Kim!

There are a lot of things I need to update you all on, as well as some super dee duper exciting things planned for the near future (painting my kitchen cabinets yo!). But, mostly since this is the room I am sitting in now, let's start with the family room.  Here is where we started a year ago:

When we first moved in, we really liked the barn board panelling and huge (4 ft tall by 5 feet wide) fireplace. Over time though, we realized those two elements were making the room feel more than a little cave-like, especially with the lack of natural light in there (because of the deep screened-in porch, which we love).

When it came to the fireplace, we kicked around the idea of painting the stone (people lost their minds over that one). I went around and around with different mantel stylings trying to lighten things up, and eventually we moved our tv to the mantel (it had been in the lower left built in, but we felt like that sort of pulled the whole room into that corner). Then I got annoyed because the big beam over the fireplace is very rough and uneven...I'd try to put a vase up there and it would be all wonky and I would throw things and it was bad. Enter my awesome husband. He built what he calls a "slipcover" for the mantel...basically just wrapped the whole mantel in flat pine 1 x 8s with some very simple trim. We painted it white, and then painted the built ins on either side in the same shade (they had been a sort of muddy cream color and the difference with the new paint was CRAZY!).  So then, with the TV up there with the dark-ish stone wall behind it, I felt like something needed to be behind the TV to break up all the darkness. I had some old shutters I found a while ago, and my husband mounted one on L brackets and stood it on the mantel behind the TV. Again, amazing difference. Here is where we are now:

I feel like the pictures aren't doing it justice (not easy to get good pics at 9:00pm!), but I am loving it. I think the white "slipcover" over the mantel beam really helps to break up the wall and inject some brightness. Over Christmas I had a great glittery banner hung there and it was amazing. I plan to do one for Valentine's Day soon, so watch for that.  (Oh good Lord, please ignore how dirty the inside of the upper cabinets behind the tv components are...except now you can't because I made you look at them when you probably hadn't noticed.)

The shutter is one of my fave things. I just loved the way we pulled it from something we already had and my sweetie came up with a simple way to put it up without drilling into the stone. I can even take it down and paint it different colors pretty easily (already picturing in ASCP Provence).

OK, so now you can see that I haven't gotten around to painting the top of the mantle...woops!  We normally don't see it at all unless we're standing right up in front of the fireplace, so you know...it may not ever get painted. I am totally ok with that. I got these glass hurricanes for $15 at Target...pretty much the same as the Pottery Barn version for $60!  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Pottery Barn, but if I can find a look-alike bargain I'll take it. The owl I got at Home Goods (aka Heaven). I'm loving decorating with books, I feel like they add such a cool, personal element.  The little bottles in the wire basket are from Wuslu...man they bring the good stuff! If you haven't signed up over there yet, you should, but be warned...it is addictive! They offer one item per day, and it's all awesome.

Almost forgot to mention, we finally found a fireplace screen and it has made such a difference! You wouldn't think putting a big black screen in front of a big black hole would be much help, but it really works! I think the screen just gives the eye a place to rest. And, if you look over on the left side you'll see that the barnboard panellng is no more...we took it down and drywalled and holy smokes...what an impact. I'll show more of that later this week.

This room has been a challenge in terms of furniture placement too, mostly because there is not one full wall to be found. I think I have finally found the solution though, with a new sectional that I am getting Wednesday. This was my dream piece...


...but with three kids the $2500 price tag was tough to swallow. Lucky me I found a close copy on closeout at a local store for $888!  That's right, a third of the price. Now I just have to sit and stare out the window until it gets here, and then I can get serious in here.  I did splurge for some PB throw pillows, and they are giving me a jumping off point to finally have a cohesive color scheme in here.


I'm so excited to be so close to having this room DONE! And excited to be back here...thanks Kim!

See you all soon!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Hey there! So yeah, I have a blog. Guess I should really post more than every 5 months, right? Pretty sure I read that somewhere. I do have a reason for not posting more...I suck at remembering to take Before shots! And then it just feels to weird to only post the Afters. The first place I go on the blogs I read is the before and after section, so you'd think I'd be better about this. Going forward, I promise to have Before shots.

I decided to catch up by showing some of what I've done over the past several months. Mostly I have been busy falling in love with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Oh my, have you tried this stuff yet? I read about it on Miss Mustard Seed and as soon as I got to the part about not needing to sand or prime I was ready to try it. I have been slowly amassing a collection of colors, painting things here and there. The first thing I did was a dresser for my daughter, which I have NO shots of! (Gina, send me some!)  Holy mackerel, ASCP is so easy to use and so gorgeous! I can't get enough now, and feel like I finally have a "real" hobby at the ripe old age of 41.

Anyway, I am going to blather on and on if I don't just start posting some pics.  I walked around the house this morning and snapped pics of some of the little things I've done to the house since March. (You'll note that I still haven't figured out how to use my camera to the best of its/my ability, but I'm going to see my sister-in-law in a couple of weeks and she is an amazing photographer...hope she won't mind giving me a crash course!)

First off, my GROCERIES sign. I first saw one of these on Sarah's Summer House and loved it! Then of course they started popping up everywhere, including in the Pottery Barn catalog for a silly price. When we first moved into our house, the family room was paneled in old barn board, including the closet door.  We have taken all of that out (see, I really need to get this blog up to date!). My husband cut the door down and saved a few pieces for me. I bought the letters from Michael's, painted them with ASCP, waxed them, and mounted with Gorilla Glue...which I later discovered expands as it dries...d'oh! My husband cut all the oozed glue off and we were good to go. This was my first project with dark wax over the paint...I was going for an authentic, aged look but I think I missed it. I love the sign, but I think I will end up going back over the paint now that I know what I am doing a little more.

Next, an Ikea spice rack turned book shelf. I saw this on someone's blog but cannot remember exactly where. These come in unfinished wood (pine, I think), and I painted with ASCP in Antibes Green, distressed, and finished with clear wax. I have three of these hung in our family room and I love them.  Books are big around here, and I want to celebrate that in every room. I think Anna Quindlen said that a room is not decorated without books. Totes agree! That idea, and another quote like it, is the inspiration behind my blog name, actually.

Saw these "cruelty-free" specimen shadow boxes and knew right away I had to make them. My photos stink and you can't really tell, but these are mounted on three different scrapbook papers. I may have to re-do them in more contrasting papers so you can actually see the difference! Now that I look at Kiki's again, I may need to re-do them completely. So pretty! I ordered my butterflies from the source she lists and got great service.

This the the upstairs hallway outside the kids' rooms. I love decorating with their artwork and just went the economical route with a lot of those clear box frames, and whatever white frames I had around. I also painted the built in bookcase a really pretty deep green/blue. I love it, and I feel so happy every time I walk up there. The kids get a kick out of their art being on the walls, too. I have stuff hung by my nieces and nephews too, which is super cool.

Remember my black hole of a fireplace? I have been working on finding ways to warm it up, and ordered some vintage shutters to place at the sides. My peace lily looks super gross in this shot and I don't know why...I'm looking at it right now and it's gorgeous! (Elise, I need help!) I have to get someone in here to clean the brick in there, which I think will help a lot. I saw this fireplace with the birch log slices and wanted to do it so badly, but it would cost over $400 for the all the logs we would need...don't see that happening any time soon. But, I do love our fireplace and the stone wall. I seriously cannot wait until the holidays so I can hang stockings on that gorgeous mantle. I have some plans involving an old picket fence that we took down to make it feel more seasonal...watch for that!

Ok, enough for now! I have to get some pictures of furniture I've painted. I did some Pier 1 tables (after convincing my husband it was ok to paint brand new furniture) and I have been going nuts on Craig's List. I got a spool bed for my daughter's room that right now is my favorite thing in the world...all painted up in ASCP Greek Blue. Painting it was the biggest project I have taken on yet, and it was a beast with all the spools. But I love it and it was such a great feeling of accomplishment. I go into my daughter's room a ridiculous number of times a day to stare at it.  :  )

I hope I didn't lose all of you with that loooong break I took. I really love doing this and have to get back on the horse!

I WILL see you soon!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dining Room and The Sheilas

(Edited to add a before shot of the dining room...yeah, that would have been a good idea from the beginning!)

Who are The Sheilas, you're no doubt asking yourself?  Hang on, you'll meet them in a second.

I'm starting the After portion of the house tour with the dining room because I had started on this space in my head waaaay before we moved in...before we even bought the house, actually. I developed an obsession last year with all things Sarah Richardson. She is an amazing Canadian designer with a show called Sarah's House. Each season she buys a home, guts it and renovates it. My favorite season by far is the Farmhouse season.  Words cannot describe the amazingness. One night I settled in to watch the dining room episode, and things would never be the same again. (This would all be a lot better if I could figure out how to copy and paste a picture of said dining room into this post but I am not smart like that and cannot get it. Anyone who would like to spell out this process for me in the comments gets my undying gratitude. In the meantime, feel free to click on the link above and take a look around, but make sure you come back!) I think Sarah's show is what really kicked me into a really strong interest in design, and in making my home the best it can be.  Now I'll stop talking and show you my dining room!

Dining Room Before:  A great room, huge, nice windows.  At this stage I wasn't sure of the paint color. I think it was meant to be red but it is leaning towards pink or magenta I think. But, with everything moved in I'm not minding it.

Isn't it so pretty?!  The shot above was taken from the bottom step of our stairs, and this is what I see every morning when I come down.  Heaven, sheer heaven. The hutch on the right was given to us by my husband's parents. I need to ask them how long they had it, where they originally got it, all that good stuff. I love, love, love furniture that is passed through the family, and they gave us so much incredible stuff. This piece is perfect, and is where I store all my large platters and wine glasses. At some point I'd love to hang wine bottle shelving over it, and also start drinking more wine (it's important to have goals!). The previous owner had curtains in here that she took with her, and I am still deciding whether I want to put anything up or leave the windows as is (in which case I know I need to take down the hardware). My friend Kim has offered to make some curtains for me, and I have become enamored with beautiful fabrics, so I will probably go that route. In the far corner is a garage sale rocking chair (I think I paid $10 for it) and a stained glass panel that we had hanging in a huge picture window in our last house...we could not part with it, even though we have no window to hang it in here. I think it looks great as a wall hanging!)

Now standing in the room, looking toward the doorway into the kitchen (to the left of the shot). So totally love the tone of the table which...$100 FROM CRAIG'S LIST!  Go me!  I think we bought the table about a week after we put the offer in on this house. I didn't have a table large enough to go here, since our dining room in the old house was super tiny and functioned more as an entry way than a dining room.  As you can see it seats six super comfortably, and there is another leaf that would allow us to put eight or maybe even ten here. The leaves are a little banged up; we think they were stored outside at some point. But, for $100 I so don't mind. The table is crazy heavy, which to me means quality, and I am in love with the turned legs. Craig's List is the bomb dot com.

From the opposite corner of the room, looking out into the foyer and over to the sitting room (fancy!). In the left corner is another piece from my in-laws. In here I display keepsakes like little sculptures my kids have made over the years, our dried wedding flowers, and priceless-to-me pieces handed down from our families.  Yeah, I am a sentimental gal.  On that note...

My parents' china. I'm not sure (Mom, correct me if I'm wrong), but I think my dad bought this when he was in Vietnam, when I was a baby.  My mom and dad divorced when I was in my early 20s, and I will always be so grateful to them that they didn't do what I think many people do in that situation and get rid of all of this sort of stuff.  My sisters and I all have different things from their marriage, and we all treasure it. I already loved the two built in corner cabinets in this room, and when I finally got to unpack and display this dishware, I loved them even more.  The two crystal glasses are actually from my own wedding, and my mom took a great shot of us raising them at our reception. 

Wow, that is blurry...almost 10 years ago now!  Isn't he adorable?  :  )

In the opposite corner cabinet is my Fiesta Ware collection. I really like the juxtaposition of the all white china with the bright colors of these pieces. I started collecting Fiesta when my oldest daughter was little, about 16 years ago now.  I've kind of lost interest in it and gave away a lot of my stuff, but every time I get it all out again, like when I unpacked it and put it away in here, I fall in love again. It really is so gorgeous, especially the vintage pieces.  

Another treasured item (this is really making me realize how lucky I am!), a deacon's bench that was in our house growing up as far back as I can remember.  I will never not have a place for this is any home of mine. It is so simple and beautiful, and it's perfect in the dining room.  I have kicked around moving it to our mud room whenever my husband relocates the washer and dryer, but I don't know if I can risk all the wear and tear all the kids would inflict on it in there.

And finally...I'd like to introduce you to Sheila.  Well, one of eight Sheilas. Isn't she adorable and awesome?  These are the chairs that Sarah used in her farmhouse redesign, and I fell in love.  And guess where they're from? IKEA! And guess how much they are?  79 BUCKS!!!  Can you believe it?!  These chairs were the second thing we bought for the new house...I had to have them, and made a special trip over an hour away to get them, only to find they were not in stock. But, they did have one on display and I got to sit in it and visit a bit. It was so crazy, I seriously felt like I was meeting a celebrity. I wish I was exaggerating. Luckily, Ikea has an inventory check tool online, and the second I saw that they were in stock I dispatched my fantastic husband to get them. Anyway, I love love love how there are so many tones in the wicker, including a reddish honey that matches  my Craig's List table perfectly. I have quite a few wood tones going on in this room, and the chairs pull them all together in an awesome way.  I just get so happy every time I look at them, you have no idea.

So...that's my dining room! I hope you love it as much as I do, but I am also open to suggestions. I am new to this game and want to do the best I can by my family and our home.

Next up...not sure yet!  But I will see you back here soon! Thanks for coming by!

PS -- Look up over on the right hand side of this page and you'll see a "Follow Us on Facebook" button. I am way too tech-challenged to have figured this out on my own, so I once again called upon the amazing Jessica at Very Designs to help me out...and later that night, voila, the prettiest little Facebook linky thing you ever did see!  So, if you're on Facebook and would like to get notices when I update this space, or other random musings that may or not be amusing or useful...click the box and follow along!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Before Shots, Part Deux

Hi all. I just can't tell you, three posts in, how much fun I am having with this blog! Of course I am still figuring some things out, especially all the ins and outs of blogger.com. If anyone else uses it and has any tips for me I would welcome them! For now though, let me show you around upstairs! You should feel privileged...my friends rarely see the upstairs rooms of my home, as they generally hold all the laundry piles (dirty and clean) and don't make the cleaning cut when I actually clean!

OK, let's start this tour at the bottom of the stairs. Walking in the front door of the house, the stairs are in front of you and to the left. There is a weird part of me that wishes we had carpet covered stairs so I could get in on the all the awesome stair makeovers people are doing! I do love ours though, although this runner isn't so much my taste. I've (of course) got some ideas about what I want to do instead...with kids, we will have to have a runner of some sort on the steps, but I definitely want something jazzier than this. I'm totally stumped on what to do on the wall going up the steps. I have family photo and kids' artwork galleries going in other areas, and I want to do something different and unique here. But what?!

Moving up now to one of my favorite spots in the house, the upstairs hallway. The stairs come straight up to a little landing (I'm standing on it in the first shot), off of which is the master bedroom, and then there are two steps up to the right. The two kids' rooms are to the left in this shot. On the wall to the left is where I am putting a kid's artwork gallery. I plan to totally fill the wall with their stuff. I just love the way that looks, and seeing the pride in their faces when their work is displayed prominently is priceless. Obviously there will be lots of bright color on the walls, and pretty much every color in the rainbow, and I've been torn about balancing that with a simple seagrass or sisal rug on the floor, or going all out and finding a super bright striped rug. Thoughts? Also, loooove the built in bookcase (is there anything better than built in bookcases? NO!). I am toying with the idea of painting the back of the bookcase an amazing color, or maybe even papering it. I recently got on a kick and ordered a bunch of my favorite books from child- and young adulthood with the covers I remember as a kid (the updated Judy Blume covers were not doing it for me, I wanted the 70s bell bottoms and 80s feathered hair!), and I plan to put those and my kids' favorites in here.

The two photos above are the master bedroom, and it's really hard to give a sense of how this room is laid out. Like I mentioned, the MBR door opens off the landing at the top of the stairs. Looking in that door is the long hall you see, which is our dressing area (sounds so fancy for a place that houses my three pairs of jeans, 42 sweatshirts and 14 pair of flip flops!). It is really nice...we have his and hers closets on the left, plus behind the door is a good-sized walk in closet with lots of shelving and another hanging rod. The his and hers closets we use primarily, but the walk in we haven't quite figured out yet. I will get a pic of that and show you another time. To the right off that hallway is the master bathroom. To the left as you walk in that first door is another door, which goes into the main part of the master. It looks tiny in this photo but is really large, especially with no space taken up by closets. There are three windows that look out into the trees, and I think it is going to be amazing in a couple of months. My husband and I are both loving this space. The blue is not one we ever would have chosen on our own, and we love it. It is such a peaceful, serene room. I think I only have one painting on the wall so far, and that may be all we put up. I don't want anything to "clutter up" this space, in any sense.

Another favorite spot is this little mini-hallway off the main upstairs hall. It is to the left in the shot of the hall above, and the kids rooms both open off this hall; the door straight ahead is a linen closet. I just love the feeling that the kids have their own little wing.

This is my 6-year old son's room. I love the kids' rooms; they are really large and have a lot of potential. Bennett has asked for a Star Wars room in this new house, and we are granting his wish.

My youngest daughter's room. Not quite as bright as her brother's, but much, much bigger than her tiny nursery at our last house. She moved into a big girl bed in conjunction with our move, and she loooves it. She is a great independent player and spends a lot of time playing with her dolls in here, which I think is so neat. My sisters and I spent a lot of time playing in our rooms as kids, and that was something my son didn't do much of; maybe one of those boy/girl things, not sure. I developed an obsession with owls when we lived in our last house, since we had at least two that nested on our property and who we got to watch quite a bit. I was soooo sad to leave them, so I decided to decorate Brooke's room with owls. Luckily that is quite a huge trend right now and it's been really easy to find stuff!

Finally, my oldest daughter's room. (You have no idea how I struggled with what to call this room. Gina is away at college and I don't know how I will ever bring myself to feel that she doesn't "live" here. Do you know what I mean?) For a lot of the year this will function as a guest room, and the challenge will be making sure Gina feels that she can make her mark in here while making it a welcoming space for guests. It is a "bonus room" over the garage, and is a lot like the room Gina had in our last house, except that room was super dark and not welcoming at all. This room gets great light, and the slanted walls start a lot higher up which makes a big difference. I love love love the built in bookcase under the window. We had an extra king size bed which is going in this room. I actually just picked up an upholstered headboard that I had made for in here yesterday, and today at Target found the most perfectly coordinating bedding ever. The fabric for the headboard is so color specific, I thought I would just have to go with a solid quilt, and I was stunned to find something that went with it so well. AND, the bedding has some California poppies, which are my favorite thing in the universe. As my husband would say, it's like ya read about. I can't wait to show it all to you!

OK, so...that's our house! Now I can get into the fun parts of going through each room and showing you what I've done, telling you what I plan to do, asking a bazillion questions about what you think, and showing you the gajillion inspirational photos I see in blogland, on TV and in magazines...it'll be so fun! I plan to post two or three times a week, and I hope you'll pour a cup of coffee, a glass of tea, or a tumbler of whiskey and join me!


Monday, February 28, 2011

I Have a Follower Who is Not Related To Me!!!

Typical of me, I started this blog less than a week ago and am already obsessing over stats (the tracking of how many visitors my page has had, where they've come from, etc.). Not a good thing to focus on, especially at this stage of the game, but I was so psyched last night to discover that I have a follower who is not my sister (not that I don't appreciate you following me, Mrs. Beasley)!!

My first non-obligated follower is South Bel from Southern Style. She lives in Charleston, coincidentally one of my favorite cities and where my husband and I honeymooned! Small world, huh? I was also STUNNED to discover that she had awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award! How sweet is that?! Be sure and check out her blog, but be forewarned...you will instantly be seized be the desire to move to Charleston.

The rules of the award say that I must share seven things about myself. Since this is only me second post, I guess this is good timing!

1. I live in Central Pennsylvania but will always consider California my home, even though I left there with my then five year old daughter 14 years ago.

2. I have been a stay-at-home mom since 2001. I gave notice at my job on Sept 10, 2001, and the horrible events of the next day drove home what a good choice that was.

3. I have the two best step-parents in the history of the world, and am on a quest to find a better title for these unsung heroes of today's families.

4. I feel confident that my 19 year old would also say she has the two best step-parents in the history of the world. And that makes me so happy.

5. I turned 40 in July of 2010. Oy.

6. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and two brothers who are five years old. Yep, my dad and step-mom took the plunge and we all got doubly lucky with identical twins Alec and Evan. The best part is that I don't have to be the messed up middle kid anymore...that responsibility passed to my younger sister, the aforementioned Mrs. Beasley, who is one of my favorite people ever and not messed up at all, darn her. ; )

7. I have been married for 9 1/2 years to the greatest guy. I wonder every day what in the world I did to deserve him. Despite my best efforts, I appear to have done something really, really right.

And now I get to award the Stylish Blogger Award to seven more blogs! You should check these out, they are awesome!

de tout, derien

Stylish Blogger Award Rules

-Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.

-Share seven things about yourself.

-Award seven recently discovered new blogs.

-Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received the award.

Thanks again, South Bel! This was a great boost as I start this journey.

Tune in later today (or maybe tonight, depends on whether my baby naps...I know you feel me) for the rest of our Before pics. Then I can start showing you all what we have done so far in the house. It's so exciting!

And in the meantime...anyone have ideas on what to do with a HUGEMONGOUS fireplace during the spring and summer months? It is 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide and is not helping with the darkness issue in the family room, being the gigantic black hole that it is.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hi there! You are reading my very first post on my new blog! My name is Valarie, and I am a stay-at-home mom to three kids ages 19, 6, and 3 (I know!). Blogging is something I have always wanted to do. I've actually started a couple, only to lose interest after a week or two. I realized that I needed to figure out what I was passionate about (other than my family, of course) and write about that. I also put some thought into what draws me into a blog and keeps me visiting, I think the aesthetics of the blog really make a difference in what I read. I want this site to be one that people want to visit, and one that I want to "spend time in"...kind of like a house! Thanks to the amazing Jessica at Very Designs, I think I have a great looking blog...don't you? If you are looking for someone to help you with blog design, check her out. She is super talented and also super duper nice!

My husband and I recently bought a new home. It is an older house, built in the early 70s, and it is a classic Colonial (and honestly, I only know that because that is what they tell me). We looked at it last summer when we had our home on the market. We fell in love, but knew that we couldn't move forward until our house sold. We finally did get an offer around Thanksgiving, and thankfully this house was still available! We closed on January 31 and since then have been falling in love with this place more and more every day.

My design/decor sense (if you can call it that) has really evolved over the past several years, to the point where I think I really know what my taste is. I am determined to make the most of this clean slate and decorate this house deliberately. I feel like in the past I haven't been careful with my choices and have ended up with color schemes and furniture that didn't really fit with what I wanted. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a home that looks "decorated," and I don't want to be so careful and deliberate that it isn't any fun. I just want to take the time to identify what I want, and have the patience to put that together even if it takes a little time.

So, this blog will document that process in our new home. I'm sure by the time I feel it is "done" I will be re-thinking elements and re-visiting them. I am so excited to take on that evolutionary process and share it with you. Without further ado, here are some "Before" photos of Our Sequestered Nook!

Above is (obviously) the exterior of the house. It sits up high on a hill; we have almost 2 acres.

Here is a more head on view. One of the concerns we have, especially after moving from a home with 7 flat, mowed acres, is not having a conventional yard for the kids to play in. They can play on the property and my husband has grand plans for a tree house, but we aren't sure we have enough level land out back to put in a swingset. Looking around our neighborhood it looks like several people have had a portion of their property graded and we may do that in the future.

This is the porch on the left side of the house as you face it. We think this door will be used 90% of the time by visitors, while we will mostly come in through the garage. I love this space. It is screened in (a plus with a very bug phobic husband and daughter!), and has a ceiling fan which will be so awesome in the summer. The double doors open into our family room, and it will be so great in a few months to open both doors and let the fresh air in. Plus, being able to open those doors will really increase our family room space, a big plus for entertaining.

This is the family room, looking at the doors leading in from the screened porch. This is the room in the house that gives me the most pause; really, the only one that makes me uneasy. It is much smaller than the 600 square foot family room we had in the last house, and boy was that hard to give up. But, when I look at it realistically, it is more than big enough for our family. Other than the size, I struggle with the paneled walls. They are a super rough barn board and while I like the rustic look, they really darken the room. Because of the deep porch, we don't get a lot of natural light in here anyway. To be honest, we already have three color swatches painted in here, and hope to have the barn board painted soon. My husband is skeptical about whether this will work; he is afraid that it will look too rough and "weird" painted out, but I think it will look great. Anybody out there ever done something like this before?

Above are two more shots of the family room. The cabinets on either side of the fireplace I loooove. They are made to house electronics, and our tv is in the lower left cabinet. Once we get the barn board painted, I may consider painting the cabinets a great bright color. I am an addict of the tv show Sarah's House, and I am inspired by the mudroom in her farmhouse. I will show some pics of that and show you what I mean in a later post.

This is the hallway leading from the family room to the front of the house; the front door is at the end of the hall. I love this hallway. You can't tell from this picture, but is really wide, about 1.5 x the regular width of a hallway I would guess. I want to put a console table in this hall, and cover the walls in family photos.

Here we have the breakfast nook, which is off the family room. (Sorry for the horrible picture, one of my blogging-related goals is to become a better photographer.) The mud/laundry room is off this space so it is sort of our entry way. Not much I want to change in here, other than maybe adding window coverings to warm and liven it up a bit.

The kitchen! I'll admit, this room gave me some concerns in the beginning, but after being in it for a while I really love it. I was mostly worried about the layout, with the sink in the middle and that big island kind of cutting things in half. But, I've learned to work in it with no trouble, and it gives us a ton more usable space than our last kitchen. It also has a really big walk in pantry, which we loooove after years of a teeny little narrow cupboard that was always in disarray. Like the crazy people we are, my husband and I have been talking a little about painting the cabinets one day. I want to find out what the traditional kitchen "should" look like in a home of this style and go with that. And if I find out that white cabinets, subway tile and all butcher block countertops are period appropriate, I will do a cartwheel.

The dining room. Shaping up to be my favorite room in the whole house (thanks to Sarah Richardson!). I had a vision of what I wanted this room to be waaay before we moved in, and I am getting really close! Again, I found what I wanted in Sarah's farm house and I'm trying to almost replicate that. Sarah used $79 Ikea chairs in her dining room, and I had those chairs purchased before we even moved in! Added to a Craig's List $100 dining table, they look amazing. I am already so pleased with this room and spend hours standing in the doorway, sipping my coffee and staring with a really ridiculous look on my face.

This is the living room, and is across the front foyer from the dining room. I like to call this Mom's Room. So peaceful and serene. I bought the sectional from the previous owner and am doing all I can to keep my grubby kids out of here! My goal in this room is to keep it as simple, uncluttered and calming as possible. I have visions of reading in here, or listening to music and watching the fire with my husband after the kids go to bed, although that hasn't happened yet. Someday, I tell you!

Finishing up the first floor is the den. We have our desk and computer in here and it has the potential of getting very, very cluttered. I am determined not to let that happen! I want this to be another kid-free zone where we can escape once in a while, even if only for the thrill of paying bills.

So, that is it for today's tour! Next I will cover the second floor, and then start showing some of what I have done. Please, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions you may have! I need all the help I can get!