You guys, toddler toys are the bane of my existence.
I kind of want to just throw them all away sometimes, but that’s not a very nice thing for a mom to do, so I restrain myself.
I don’t know how it happens, but the toys seem to magically multiply. We put so much effort into keeping things minimal, but out of nowhere it feels like I’m running a freaking toy store. It doesn’t help that we had Christmas and his birthday practically back-to-back and now the house is overflowing with way more toys than I know what to do with.
But! If you came into my house on any given day (assuming things aren’t too chaotic and I’ve actually had time to keep it clean…) you wouldn’t know that my house is stuffed-to-the-brim with toddler paraphernalia.
Lately I’ve been longing for a space to spread out, work, and focus. For the last few years I’ve been doing all of my blogging either at the dining room table or on the couch, and that’s just not an environment that’s conducive to actual creativity or getting anything done!
I recently shared some inspiration I’d been gathering for a little home office nook in our living room and today I’m sharing the finished product.
You ready for this?
Swoon. I am so in love with this space, there aren’t even any words.
I never really thought I’d be the type to need a “home office.”
I mean, it sounds so fancy.
“Honey, I’m going to work in the office for a while, let me know when dinner is ready.”
As a teacher (who refuses to bring work home on principle), I haven’t ever had much need for a workspace or desk in our home – it just seemed like a waste of space.
But…things change, don’t they? Lately I’ve been working my little rear end off on blogging and writing, and I’ve often found myself wishing I had a desk to work at instead of the dining room table. Somewhere I can spread out a bit without taking over the whole house. Somewhere I can work comfortably, stay focused, and get stuff done.
Ahhh – it feels so nice to finally be rid of all of our carpet downstairs.
(Please excuse the baby paraphernalia. I live in a house with a 6-month old, so it’s inevitable. My house definitely does not look like a magazine with no baby toys floating around, so there’s no reason to pretend it does!)
We’ve been talking about doing this for forever and we finally got around to it a few weeks ago – for those of you who missed it when we did Jackson’s room or the dining room, we’re slowly going through the process of replacing the flooring throughout our house with this “luxury vinyl” flooring from Lowe’s. It looks surprisingly like actual hardwood but is really peel and stick vinyl. It’s incredibly affordable and easy to install, and it’s super durable (which is vital when you have three dogs and a 6-month old!)
We also switched up a few other things around the living room while we were at it. Hadley was not a fan of the new flooring (it’s slippery and she still has to learn how to walk on it) and so for the first few days after we installed it she hid upstairs all day long so she didn’t have to step on it. We finally decided to bring in the big rug from the garage as a temporary measure to make her happy and to make the floor a little softer for Jackson. Turns out, though, we love how it looks in here and it’ll probably stay for the foreseeable future. It’s super sort and feels good underfoot, and it’s a really easy to clean rug so it’s great for a high traffic area like the living room.
We also switched out some pillows and got a fiddle leaf fig (I’m determined not to kill this one!). We don’t love the ottoman in here now with the new rug…it feels a bit too formal and out of place, but we haven’t decided what we’ll do about that yet. The options are to get a different rug (which we aren’t sure about, since we really like this one) or replace the ottoman (which makes us sad, since we really like it and haven’t had it for that long). We’ll see where we land, but for now we’re just happy it’s looking so much better in here!
It makes me so happy to see consistent flooring again from one side of the house to the other – dealing with that carpet transition for the last few months hasn’t been fun…the house feels so much more cohesive, and it immediately felt so much cleaner!
We still want to bring this flooring into the kitchen, but that’ll be last on our list – we want to finish all of the upstairs first. The next step for now is to re-install baseboards in both of these rooms and to fix the fireplace – Corey accidentally knocked off one of the tiles on the wall when we were working on the flooring. We had already been planning on doing something to update the fireplace, anyways, it’s just a little higher on our priority list now!
Whew, it feels good to be done with this! Now we just need to take a breather for a few weeks and then muster up the energy to tackle the baseboards – it’s never a fun project, but it makes such a big difference in how finished the room looks!
What have you been working on in your home lately?
Alright, so I wish I was coming back from my impromptu blogging hiatus with a more exciting post, but I’m not. It may not have the prettiest photos or be the most fun to read, but I searched the entire internet for posts like this as we were gearing up for this project and they’re sadly lacking – so I want to document this for anyone else who might take this on in the future.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it. A few months back, Corey and I replaced the flooring in our dining room – it was a major change and we’ve been very happy with it. Our goal was to get the living room done as well before summer ended, because Jackson has been spending more and more time on the floor lately and we hated to have him on that nasty carpet.The only problem with tackling the living room was all of the tile – there was a small spot of tile in front of the fireplace and a larger area by the entryway…and we were terrified of getting it up.
My sister and brother in law took this project on a couple of summers ago, and we have heard nothing but horror stories about how tough it was to get the tile up, how long it took, and how much they hated the entire process. So needless to say, we weren’t looking forward to it. But, as much as we weren’t excited about it, summer is quickly coming to an end so we decided to get it done last week. My sister emphasized to us that we needed to get some sort of a power tool to get it up rather than doing it all by hand, so we knew we wanted to start there. We headed to Home Depot (we chose them over Lowe’s this time because they’ll rent tools and Lowe’s won’t) and asked the guy at the tool rental department what he recommended. He pointed us to a demolition hammer with a chisel bit (for getting the tile up) and a scraper bit (for the thinset). It was a bit pricey (about $100) to rent it all for the day, but we figured if it made the job easier, it was well worth it.
I could practically end this post here and just call it a day – I’m telling you, that tool was amazing. Most of the blog posts and tutorials I read prior to renting the tool didn’t seem to give us much hope – people mostly seemed to just use a plain hammer and chisel to get rid of the tile and thinset, or they didn’t elaborate on what they did. Let me tell you again – the demolition hammer is the way to go.
It was noisy and messy to get all of the tile up, but Corey got everything up and smoothed out about an hour – it didn’t mess up the concrete foundation at all, and thanks to how smooth it left the concrete there was no other prep work for us to do besides cleaning up. It was fabulous! Once we had all the tile up, we ripped up all of the carpet in the room – while we still had the tool, we also used it to smooth out any weird areas of concrete that were bumpy or would otherwise interfere with the flooring. It was exhausting (and disgusting) but soon enough, we had a carpet-less living room…and a giant mess.
And here’s where I’ll leave you because I haven’t gotten around to taking photos of the finished room yet. But it is finished, and I’m in love! I’ll take photos soon and hopefully be back next week to show it off – it’s looking amazing!
Okay, anyone have any fun house updates? Up to anything exciting lately?
I know, I know. Sounds like the most boring post ever.
But it’s not what you think.
Back when we originally installed our homemade curtains in the living room, Corey and I both loved them. They were fun, bright, and made us happy.
But after almost two years of them, we’re both kind of over it. While we still love the colors and the pattern, it was definitely limiting us in what we could do in there – with that much pattern on the windows, there wasn’t much we could do elsewhere. And visually, I felt like they were just way too much – I felt like they made the room feel cluttered all the time.
We were both ready for a change.
So, we did some searching and fell in love with these Threshold brand curtains from Target (they’re no longer available, but there is a similar style here). They’re much more neutral (only one color) and they still have a pattern, but it’s not too busy. While we were at it, we decided to go ahead and upgrade our curtain rods – we still loved the homemade ones but wanted something a little more substantial and “grown up”.
Mmmmm. I love this change.
The new curtains have a very calming effect on the room and make it feel much less visually cluttered. And they open us up to a whole world of new color options for things like the pillows and the accessories, because there aren’t a million colors in the curtains.
The new rods are gorgeous too – they’re these mercury glass rods from Target, and they feel so much more luxurious and expensive than the old ones (I mean, obviously they’re definitely more expensive than our DIY ones, but they’re still pretty cheap!). We had to buy two rods for the big window behind the couch and use the middle rod from one of them to extend the other rod and make it long enough for the whole window – luckily we found a broken one (the finial was broken, the rest was fine) at our local store and they sold it to us for only $10 – score!
I feel like this little change makes a huge difference in the room and gets us another step closer to where we want to eventually end up in here. We still want to replace the ugly white blinds with something prettier (probably bamboo shades, though I’d LOVE to do white roman shades if they weren’t so dang expensive) but for now, this is a good upgrade.
Anyone else changing out curtains in their home lately?
This is actually a post I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but I haven’t taken the time to actually make the changes, and I’m so glad I finally decided to take care of it recently (I say that like I had any choice…the nesting monster reared its head and there was nothing I could do to stop it). You see, I’ve talked quite a few times about how I’m the worst about actually changing up the decor in my house – I buy a cute accessory, plop it on a shelf, and it ends up living there for, like, ever.
It makes life easy for me, but it’s really not that much fun. And it means that my house ends up feeling like it never changes (especially since we don’t currently decorate for any holidays/seasons other than Christmas), which I don’t love. But that has changed my friends. I re-arranged decor! Look at me go!
I’m always amazed at how much of a difference something like this makes for absolutely zero money, which is why I wanted to write this post. I always feel like I have to spend money to make changes to my home, but my living room feels completely refreshed to me and all it cost me was an hour or so on Saturday afternoon. When you use what you’ve already got laying around you can make changes that feel significant without spending a dime!
But enough talk – let me prove it to you. Let’s start with what my living room looked like before. I’m sure you’ve all seen it before, but here’s a refresher:
After gathering up a bunch of accessories from around the house that I wanted to bring in here (like extras from the guest room or the once-reading-room-now-nursery), I took everything off of the surfaces I was changing and piled it on the floor. I didn’t want to be tempted to leave anything in its original place, so I took it all down – which also gave me a good opportunity to dust all of my shelves. Because I don’t do that often enough, and ew.
And then I just placed it all back in a new spot. I’m no expert at styling shelves – in fact, I’m kind of just bad at it, but I always have fun. I put something in place, step back, and look at it to make sure I like it. Sometimes, it’s also super helpful to take a picture of it. There was one arrangement I did on the bookcase that I loved at first, but once I took a photo I realized I had grouped too much stuff on two shelves right next to one another and it looked really heavy. I switched a few things around and snapped another photo and it looked a billion times better. And now? My living room is feeling refreshed and a bit different, even though there’s absolutely nothing that I didn’t already own in here.
We also brought down the rug that used to be in the reading room:
It’s definitely not a perfect fit in the room (it’s a bit too small and holy pattern overload with the curtains), but it works for now, and we have already ordered new curtains (!!) so it should fit in a little better once we take care of that. Honestly, I’m just happy to cover up even a little bit of our disgusting carpet.
If you need a close-up…
Yeah, that’s what my living room looks like 90% of the time. Except there’s usually another dog or two on there as well. There’s very rarely actually room for humans on the couch.
And that, my friends, is how you refresh your entire living room in one hour with no money. It may not make a huge impact, but it’s enough to settle my nesting instincts for a week or so, which is really all I can ask for at this point.
What have you done lately to update your home? Anyone else suck at changing up their decor?
Well, I did it again. This time, I got all crazy and painted the tile on our fireplace. Because it was ugly and I didn’t want to look at it anymore. Remember what it looked like?
Ahhhh! So much better.
Once again, this probably isn’t how I “should” have tackled this project, but it worked well enough on the backsplash that I figured I’d give it a go. There’s no real tutorial on how to make this happen – I just painted it with a couple of coats of primer and a few coats of glossy white paint. And just like that, my fireplace tile went from dingy, peach, and clash-y to crisp, white, and gorgeous not quite as awful.
Now, I will say that, just like the backsplash, this is not a long term solution. In fact, this’ll be a pretty short term solution – we plan on replacing all of the flooring downstairs by the end of the year, so the tiles on the floor will be replaced pretty soon. The ones on the fireplace itself may take a bit longer, but I’d like to tackle a fireplace makeover soonish so hopefully it won’t be long before we can take care of those as well.
Oh, and I do realize there are some splotches of paint on the fireplace surround – oops! Luckily, I think it’ll be pretty easy to scrape off, I just haven’t had a chance to give it a go yet.
I’m pretty shocked at how big of a difference this (free) little upgrade made. I feel like the whole fireplace looks a lot crisper and brighter, and the whole room looks a little bit better. I’m definitely happy!
What small projects with a big impact have you done lately?
The winner of the Young House Love signed book was Jillian – congrats! Check your email today for an email from me with more details!
Ever since the day we moved into our home, I’ve had big dreams for our fireplace.
It’s not the most exciting fireplace in the world right now – it’s pretty plain, has some awful clash-y tile, and really kind of just blends in to the rest of the living room. But someday? It’s going to be fabulous. We plan to cover the whole thing with a stone veneer, add a chunky reclaimed wood mantel, and do a few other things to spruce it up and make it the superstar of our entire first floor. But for now? It’s still a bit…boring.
But! For Christmas, I got a gift that brings us one (small) step closer to awesome. That’s right – I got the giant faux deer head from Z Gallerie that I’ve been lusting after for what feels like my entire life. And it is marvelous.
Please ignore the rest of the mantel decor for now – it’s in a bit of a transition phase and I’m not sure I love it yet, but let’s just focus on that ginormous resin animal that hangs from my wall. It’s gorgeous, right? I was worried that it would be too big from the space and that it would jut out into the living room and feel a bit imposing, but I seem to forget how large our living room actually is – it fits right in almost as if it was made for the space and I am head-over-heels 100% in love with it.
Of course, now that it’s up and we have a bit more focus on our fireplace (as opposed to when there was just a dinky little mirror in there and the whole thing was hardly noticeable), Corey and I both agree that it’s missing something. I can tell you for sure that what it’s missing is a ton of stacked-stone veneer and a new mantel, but unfortunately those things are still a bit far off for us. We have bigger priorities right now, like the fact that every window in our house is as thin as a sheet and I’m freezing. all. of. the. time, so new windows will have to come before a fireplace makeover.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to amp it up a bit in the meantime, right? We’ve actually already got a plan in place for how to give the fireplace nook a bit of oomph – the supplies are bought, and all that’s left to do is, um, DO the project. And, naturally, we need some better accessories to live on the mantel with a bit more color and a bit more height – but for now I’m incredibly happy with the giant leap forward our fireplace has taken. It makes me giddy.
Oh, and is it totally pathetic that I’m already looking forward to next Christmas so I can deck him out with some tinsel? I have a problem.
Anyone else get a giant faux animal for Christmas? Any guesses on what we plan to do to give our fireplace some love while we save our pennies for the makeover of our dreams?
Oh boy, am I ever excited to share this with you guys today. This is an update that Corey and I have been talking about and planning for several months now, and we just hadn’t gotten around to pulling the trigger on it until recently.
You see, there’s this ottoman in our living room…
It has served us well over the last year and a half-ish, and it was one of our earliest furniture makeovers. We were so proud of it when we first completed it, but now that it’s been living in our house for a good while, we were slowly becoming more and more disenchanted with it. The padded part ended up much thinner than we would have liked, and quite frankly I was getting sick of staring at all of that orange every day. It was a great idea in theory, but I don’t think I’m one that can handle large pops of color in a piece of furniture that is such a staple in the room. Over time, it started to become just too much for me.
We originally had the idea to find a camel-colored leather ottoman with a ton of tufting. Basically, like a Winchester sofa in ottoman form.
Mmmm. Only problem? That basically doesn’t exist. Or at least, not exactly what we wanted, and typically not for less than $1,000. That’s the problem with being both incredibly picky and incredibly cheap.
So, we finally gave up and started searching for other options. We knew we wanted tufting, and we knew we wanted something big and cushy. Beyond that, we weren’t very specific. We looked at about a million and two options before finally falling in love with this guy from Amazon:
Tufted, cushy, sexy legs – it’s got the whole package! Now the only problem was choosing a color. There are almost a dozen different color options for this ottoman, so we definitely weren’t going to be limited. Our first instinct was (of course) gray, but after some thought we realized that it would just be too much gray in our room – we have a gray couch and gray walls, so we definitely need some contrast in the ottoman. After a lot (a LOT) of debate, we settled on two different color options. teal and beige. We loved them both, and we couldn’t really figure out which one would look better. So, we turned to our trusty photo-editing software to see what they would look like in the room. It’s a (very) rough idea, but it was better than nothing.
We loved the teal and thought it would look fantastic in the room, but, of course, we also loved the beige. We were thisclose to ordering the teal…and then we thought about the orange ottoman we currently have. We loved the color when we first brought it in, but as the room has evolved we decided it wasn’t really working anymore. We were tired of it. With a color like the teal, it would be easy to fall into that same trap down the road – it’s much easier to get sick of a color like teal than a neutral like the beige. We also had to consider the possibility of changing up the room at some point in the future. The beige will go with anything – even if we completely change everything in the room, it’ll blend right in. The teal? Not so much. We decided that we’d rather have neutrals in the main, big pieces in our room and stick to bringing in colors through the accessories that can be changed a little more easily.
So, we decided to order the beige. It’s not quite as much fun as the teal would have been, but we’re confident that we’ll love it for years to come, and it’ll go with the room no matter how we decide to change it in the future. Amazon told us it wouldn’t be here until the end of November at the earliest, but we were in for a happy surprise when it showed up at our house one day last week.
And once we set it up? It was love at first sight for me – it feels so much more polished and it layers right into the room beautifully. Corey likes it too, but is insistent that we find some ways to bring more color in now that the ottoman is gone. I agree – we could definitely use some bolder (and bigger!) pillows to add some more fun, but I think it’s definitely getting there.
It’s going to take us some time to layer in some more accessories to make the room feel more complete, but I think this new ottoman is definitely a step in the right direction. I love it!
Anyone else get a surprise delivery last week? How about changing up major pieces in your house – are you doing it too?