Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lovely Listings

 I probably spend far too much time browsing the local real estate listings, but Kansas City has so many pretty homes on the market at any given time.  Here are a few of my favorites this weekend.
The red brick home above reminds me of the "Home Alone" house. 

Wishing all a lovely week!

All images via Reece and Nichols.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Colonial Fairy Garden

Cold temperatures are coming our way, so I've been busy getting the garden "winterized" and putting plants and pots and cushions away.  As I'm taking it all apart, I wanted to share the fairy garden that we put together this summer.

While browsing at one of my favorite garden centers earlier this spring, I came across a section full of fairy garden accessories.  Miniatures have always enchanted me.  I have a gorgeous colonial style dollhouse, built from scratch by my dad, as a Christmas present one year.  I used to spend a good portion of my babysitting money on furniture and accessories to decorate it.  Another year he made a shadow box for me and over the years I collected dozens of miniatures to fill it up.  I also love visiting miniature exhibits at museums.  My favorite was the miniature White House that was on display at the Truman Presidential Library, in Independence, MO a few years ago.  So no surprise that a few of these delightful little pieces found their way into my cart...and landed in my hosta bed beneath the deck.

A tiny secret garden tucked away for my kids...and for their friends and cousins to discover.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy 10th Birthday...Sporting KC Fan

Dear Son,

Shamefully, I have to admit this post title should read, "Happy 10.5…"  You turned 10…just over six months ago.   I'm finally now recording it for posterity.  The big delay doesn't mean I love you any less, quite the opposite of course.  I think I was just so worn out from staying up late the night before the party, trying to make this soccer field out of white medical tape (darn you, Pinterest), only to have six 10 y/o boys be impressed with it for all of 5 seconds, and then be solely focused on the boxes of pizza on the island and having a burping contest and just being boys.  LOL!  
Of course, you know I didn't mind in the least!

Even though you 10 y/o boys could care less about a felt table cloth made to look like a soccer field…or soccer ball plates that match the soccer ball garland on the windows…or water bottles with the logo of your favorite MLS soccer team, I will always love to decorate the table for your birthdays.  I could have thrown a stack of paper plates and a roll of paper towels on the middle of the table and you all would have been just as happy…and that's all I wanted…for you and your buddies to be happy on your special day!

But I'm finally going to post it all anyway…so I can look back at the photos next year and remind myself to just get bags of double cheeseburgers and a roll of Bounty!

Happy 10.5 Son.  You are so worth it and then some.  You know I would do this all over again just for you!  Love you lots, Kiddo!

xoxoxo, Mom

Your big sister is so much better on the computer than I am...She did a great job designing the labels for the water bottles!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Amazing Sky

via: Graham Green

I just have to document what the sky looked like at tonight's Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo game.  Having lived in Kansas the majority of my 40+ years, I've seen a lot of dark, stormy skies and have had a tornado pass right over me, but I've never seen a sky quite like tonight.

This photo was noted to be taken with HDR, but was not modified or enhanced.  I had to look that one up, but I learned that HDR is basically your camera combining photos of about 3 different exposures and coming up with a photo that is closer to what your eyes see rather than what your camera "sees."  I tried to capture the colors on my iphone, but I couldn't quite get it, but this is pretty much what we saw.  It was the result of dark storm clouds backlit by the setting sun while it was heavily raining.  It was amazing to look at!  About 17 minutes into the game, an announcer came on the speakers and asked the entire stadium to calmly evacuate into covered areas due to the quickly approaching storm.  It rolled in so fast and as we were walking up the steps we caught a glimpse of this boiling orange and dark indigo sky.  It was strangely beautiful and eerie.

After a 77 minute delay, the game went on, but fittingly, the two team's colors were
blue vs. orange.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sprucing Up the Front Hall

We've lived in our home for more than eleven years and I'm super excited that we are planning to update our front door and entry hall.  Even though we've had to put this project on the back burner for awhile, I'm actually glad that bigger and more urgent projects took precedence over this entry hall.  Taste can change a lot over the years and by now I've had plenty of time to think about what I really want...years to read about traditional colonial homes and the various materials they would have been constructed from.  I have always been drawn to early American homes, but also to Colonial Revival homes of the early 20th century, the kind that you see in old movies.  But I don't want to strictly adhere to the design of these original homes, just be inspired by them.  After all, this home has to work for our family in the 21st century.  

I also love English country homes and the warm and lived-in feeling they evoke…entries where you can trudge in with wet boots, rooms where you can put your feet up and where kids and dogs co-exist with pretty furnishings, flowers and art.  I've never been in an actual English country home, but that's what I imagine one would feel like.  I do have an English uncle though.  And he and my aunt have a pretty, cozy, charming and super comfortable home filled with English antiques.  I must crave that kind of cozy home from them.  When you stop by, they always have the kettle ready for a hot cup of tea and a good chat.

Our reno begins with the need to replace the existing almond colored floor tile.  High gloss tiles just aren't compatible with wet shoes.  We've all slipped on this floor coming in from the rain or snow.  It's hazardous and needs to finally go before someone truly gets hurt.  I'm thinking of replacing it with brick tile.  The texture will add warmth and give better traction for wet boots.  It will be easier to camouflage the dirt (between cleanings) from a dog and the muck that gets brought in from our horse riding daughter.

The huge brass chandelier will be replaced with a lantern.  We considered painting the old light, but with sixteen light bulbs, it's an energy hog.  We rarely have it on because it's so bright and hot.

Gil Schafer
Hoping to replace the current front door with a more energy efficient one.  Love the one above with the panels and strap hinges, although we have more narrow sidelights, and no transom.  

Skavullo Design
We'll replace the cheap builder's grade stair treads with new oak treads.  I removed the stair carpet years ago and painted the steps white just to clean them up until we could have nice oak treads added.  That was my "Phase One" cosmetic upgrade, and now this is what I like to think of as "Phase Two," the good stuff.  Also, the more permanent stuff.  I really want to make careful choices to avoid buyer's remorse! 

I'm also thinking about some type of molding on the walls as pictured above.

Below is our current front hall.  It's not super bad, but it will look so much fresher with a few changes to bring it out of the suburban 1980's.

current front hall

current front door

We're really hoping we can make our front hall feel more welcoming and comfortable! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer in Snapshots

Our summer was spent at the barn...

...and the soccer fields...

…with one of our sweet nieces who visited from Germany for nearly a month...

…a trip to Minneapolis and St. Paul…
Como Park Zoo Conservatory
A day at Como Zoo
…and lots of walks, bike rides, late night movies and S'mores…

As usual, the summer passed too quickly and it was time...

…for my eighth and fifth graders to go back to school!

Friday, July 11, 2014

1920's Inspired Guest Bath

In our home, we have a space that our realtor referred to as a "FROG, " finished room over garage.  In our "FROG" we have an office/guest bedroom and adjoining bathroom.  When we bought our house, we liked the attic feel of these rooms, with slanted ceilings,
dormers, and window seats.

However, the bathroom desperately needed to be updated, especially after learning about extensive mold behind the shower wall.  We decided to select simple materials that could be found at our local home improvement and retail stores, and stay within a realistic budget, so we can save our cash for a dream master bath reno down the road.  We wanted to use simple, classic materials that could have been used in American homes of the 20's and 30's, understated, timeless.

We actually remodeled this bath almost two years ago,
but as it often goes, all the little finishing details were only completed recently!

Here is our vision of a 1920's inspired vintage bath for our guest room...

I had to throw in some peonies, which were blooming at the time I took these photos.
Normally, we don't have such lush flowers waiting to be knocked off the sink!

This American Standard sink has a profile which is great for holding curling irons, makeup bags, shaving supplies, etc.

Over the years, I've collected odd, cupless saucers for use as soap dishes.  The indented ring where the cup usually sits makes it easier to pick up a bar of soap.

I made the shower curtain from a flat queen-sized ticking sheet.  I cut it to match the size of the liner curtain.  I reinforced the grommet area, above, by sewing canvas tape on the back side.  You can see the hem below, which is normally the part at the head of the bed.

We considered a custom tiled shower floor vs. a fiberglass pan.  In order to stay on budget, our contractor recommended an Onyx shower pan.  It's a solid surface material, available in several colors, and the gray color we chose ties in well with the gray grout color and soft gray walls.  We love it, and it turns out to be a local Kansas made product.  Made in the that.  Also good, is that it's easy to clean!

This niche next to the shower used to have old plywood shelves.  We had drawers made to hold everything guests might need...a hair dryer, toiletries, towels and toilet paper.

Hex knobs + hex tiles <3 <3 <3

One of my favorite, and simplest, details is the wide marble threshold that bridges the tile to the hardwood floor in the guest room.  I plan to add the same detail to the master bath in the future.

There is a small closet immediately to the right when you enter the bath.  I haven't decided yet, 
but I might still paint the doors white?

And here is what we started with...

There was sooo much mold behind that old shower gross!

The vinyl flooring was curling up at the edges...

This dark corner had cheap plywood shelves where the built-in drawers are now.

We were so fortunate to have help from a young and talented contractor who enjoys working in older homes, so he had a lot of great ideas to make things look more vintage. 

We love the end result.  In hindsight, the only thing I would do differently would be to skim coat the ceiling and slanted walls.  They have a "knock-down" texture and I think the smoother skim coated surface would look a little more vintage...but that can always be done when it's time to paint again.  
Or not.  Sometimes you gotta know when to stop.  If I had skim coated this room, then I would have probably wanted to skim coat the whole house!

 We have a lot of projects to do in this house, so it's a nice feeling to check this one off the list!