Saturday, December 13, 2014

Living room reno ideas: Fireplaces with brick surrounds

We've finally hired a contractor to help us get our main floor reno underway.  We are removing old tile and carpeting and countertops and renovating the front hall, living room, kitchen and laundry room.  We've done about as much as we can with paint and limited diy know-how.  
Time to bring in the big guns.

I'm so excited that I can hardly sleep at night.  I wake up with ideas and am compelled to run down to the computer and do google and pinterest searches for idea photos.

The contractor can't start on our home until at least mid February.  This is good because I will need the time to drive my husband crazy with making decisions and then changing them.  One thing is certain though, and that is our decision to paint our dark paneled living room and add brick around the fireplace.  Here are a few photos of brick surrounds and painted wood that I want to tuck away for reference...

Photo sources to come...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Christmas Additions

Every year I try to add a couple of new things to my Christmas decor stash, as well as let a few older things go, to keep the clutter at bay.  The past few years I've been drawn to more natural things, such as baskets, shells, potted bulbs and good quality faux greens that are difficult to tell from the real thing.

Today, I started potting up paperwhites and I love the basket, above, from Jenny Steffens Hobick.  It has a glass insert that I added some leftover aquarium pebbles to that I had sitting around.  I can't wait to see these grow and start perfuming the house.

 Yesterday, I went to one of my favorite nurseries in search of paperwhite bulbs that could be purchased in bulk.  All I could find at the big box stores were kits that included pots.  I just wanted the bulbs…I already have lots of pots.  While at the nursery, I decided to look for a new boxwood wreath to replace an older, preserved one that I left outside and ruined.

There were beautiful, real, preserved wreaths right next to some amazing faux wreaths.  While the real wreaths were pretty, they looked a little dry and faded next to these faux ones that look like I clipped the box fresh out of my garden just today.  They are not stiff, but very supple and unbelievably realistic.

The brand is Sullivan's and their website lists reps state by state, since they are sold to the trade.  Below is the wreath I bought hanging over the kitchen sink.  I may not even take it down after Christmas and leave it up at least until Easter.

I bought this Amaryllis on clearance at Lowe's and potted it up in a new birch wrapped zinc pail that I found on  This is listed as their "Birch Bark Covered Zinc Pail 5 Inches."  I also bought some larger "Birch Bark Centerpiece Vases 7 Inch" for Poinsettias.  The plastic nursery pots just slip right in…no need to re-pot, and very easy to lift out for watering.

Hope you are enjoying the Advent season!

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!