Saturday, April 30, 2011

VOTE For #22!!!


(Ok, so it's a lame slogan. I was a bit lacking in the creative department with only 4.5 hours of sleep. Feel free to submit your suggestions in the comments!)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Color Paralysis

I have to paint the Good Home. Right now the poor lady is languishing in awful plasterboard. I love, love, love choosing color palates and I have long had a color scheme in mind, but now that the moment is here, I am paralyzed with indecision.
I turned to good ol' Pinterest to check my likes.
My entry inspiration. We don't get much light in the entry so I want to keep it light and bright

my more general decor inspiration board

My kitchen inspiration board


Master Bedroom inspiration
Much of our lower trim is in bad shape and I will likely be painting it in a bright white. I am sure that I love white, soft yellow, blues - especially pale gray-blues, lots of black (or dark navy) on creamy white backdrops, with pops of color - especially green and bright turquoise/aqua.  I could even happily let in a bit of pink if it wouldn't cause my husband conniptions!

You think it would be easy! I have a favorite color palate that is pretty well defined, but NOOOOO!
Finding just the right blue or yellow or creamy white is a job for the strong willed not the indecisive waffler that I am!

I love Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams Paints, but my husband would probably have a heart attack when he saw the bill if I bought all my paint there! (we have 12 foot ceilings so we need A LOT of paint)
I am going to get good paint for a few areas that will get extra wear and tear - (and maybe sneak in the good paint to other rooms a bit at a time so it's not overwhelming our pocketbook)

1)The all-important first impression front hall
Right now I am leaning toward something along the lines of BM You are my Sunshine or SW Friendly Yellow. I want it to be soft though. We had an unfortunate experience with yellow in this current place that has frightened poor hubby off it all together. It has to be able to stand up to the lack of light and be cheerful warm and welcoming without being scary yellow. I really want the yellow color in the fireplace tiles but just a smidge darker, like the yellow door in the decor inspiration screen shot above.

2)The Kitchen
Right now I am leaning toward painting the cabinets a creamy white as opposed to a stark white with a pale blue with a bit of gray in it for the walls. I am debating not bringing the color all the way up the walls though, but just to the bottom of the top shelf to let artwork and vintage finds stand out more.

3) The Bathroom 
It has beadboard that will be white. The paint will go above the beadboard. I am debating a very pale grayed out purple in here since the towels we have now are purple and green and white. But I really want blue so we will see... but I want blue everywhere, so a change would be good...

Other than that I will probably buy some gigantic 5 gallon tubs o' white to get something up on the walls until we get around to more real decor choices.
Part of me just wants to slap up a bunch of the white on everything and call it a day...

Any advice on colors? Do you finding choosing colors a pleasure, or a daunting task? (I am firmly in both camps!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taking a Deep Breath

My life has been out-of-control
My 2nd daughter is graduating from high school in just over 2 weeks and we seem to have something to do nearly every night!
We move the weekend after the graduation so I have been trying to pack up what we don't use often or is out of season so we can maybe be ahead of the game.
Then we had the tornado.
Easter was in there too.

Then there was the  biggest issue. Not ready to share since we don't know much yet. (don't panic, no one in my house is preggers) Hopefully we will have some answers soon, I really need things to settle down here.

My stress level is through the roof.
Usually when I am stressed I become ultra-productive, but this is serious enough that I really just froze in place.
It has been difficult for me to get through a normal day and get everything done.

I think that is my problem. I like information.
It lets me feel like I have some control over things, even if I don't actually have any control.
I like to have a plan, and right now I feel like I can't plan anything.
At the same time I am running through all different scenarios in my head.

I am just going to take a deep breath, trust God, move forward, and hope for the best.
I am going to try my best not to be consumed by the "What If's" that are plaguing me.

I will be back with some house posts this week.
We are still going to need a roof over our heads!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Devastation and Blessings

Happy Easter everyone. Along with the celebrations today we are dealing with even more here at home.
Devastating tornadoes ripped through St. Louis Friday evening.
I have rarely seen such destruction of neighborhoods. I have lived here nearly my entire life and we have tornadoes, but they have never really hit populated areas. This year we have had it happen three times already!

The pictures were taken at my sister and brother-in-law's house. (taken my my sister-in-law)

We are counting our blessings even more than usual today.
Thankfully no one was home, the damage to the home is repairable and they can actually live in the home once power is restored.
Thankfully they have plenty of family to stay with in the meantime.
Some neighbors weren't so lucky and are staying in shelters over this Easter weekend and have no idea when their homes will be safe.
Thankfully their church and the church school where they worship and their children attend school, just a block away, was spared.
The church on the opposite corner was destroyed.
Their neighborhood was full of huge trees and historic homes. Many of the trees were over a hundred years old. They were ripped up by the roots and thrown on to houses, into neighboring yards and on to cars. Roofs were ripped off entirely.
In other neighborhoods that were hit, entire homes were leveled. Reduced to splitered wood and shattered brick.
It is a miracle there were no serious injuries.

Just for comparison this is what the yard looked like the day they closed on it 4 years ago -

the grand old walnut tree
Seeing it now, it looks like another world.

But everyone is safe. It is a close community. The community will strengthen and grow from this experience.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hey Vintage Revivals! Revive My Vintage Home!

Well, now that I've gotten that out...
On to the squeal-worthy news-

Mandi - Aka Goddess of Thrift Shop Glam - over at Vintage Revivals, is holding the single most amazing, scream-your-ever-lovin'-guts-out-if-you-win-it giveaway ever held in Blogland.

(that's my practice scream up there)

I am freakin' serious here. 


I really, truly mean it!
You know how much I mean it?

It is even better than the Big S giveaways.

Yes, I said it.

And I mean it!

Mandi's giveaway is even more spectacular than the possibility of winning a glorious Silhouette machine!

(and I stalk those giveaways like nobody's business!)

OK, by now you are dying for me to get to my point and tell you what Mandi's giving away that is even more wondrous than the Holy Grail of Craft Blog Giveaways.

(cue exciting announcement music of your choice here)

Mandi is a rock-star blogger/designer. Her style takes vintage and makes it modern and fabulous without losing what made it great in the first place. 
Exactly what we are hoping to do with our ragged Old Lady of a house.
If Mandi were to come and work her magic she would would make my old vintage home the belle of the neighborhood!

So here is my plea -

Dear Mandi, 
My husband, in a moment that will most likely never be repeated, agreed to move our family from the calm, quiet, relatively modern (aka boring with absolutely no charm or architectural detail) suburban town home we now live in, to a ramshackle, nearly 120 year old house (full of amazing architectural details as well as scary bits that come with that kind of age) in an up-and-coming (but still kind of running to catch up) area in the middle of the city.

He asks me pretty much daily to tell him it will all be ok. 
And I do. I tell him it will all be ok. And it will. Someday. 
I know it will be a beautiful home. 
There is a lot of work to do though.

That is where you come in.
I love your style. It will fit perfectly in our home! You mix in just the right amount of modern to keep my husband happy. I really need you to come to lovely St.Louis,MO and work your magic reviving this grand old lady of a house.
Now I warn you, these are pre and during construction photos.

The place will be clean and livable in a few short weeks when we move in.
Attic room that will become a room for my oldest daughter and her college friends (and other guests) to stay in when they visit. These floors are BEGGING for some paint and stencils!

The gorgeous fireplace in our living room
Closeup of the gorgeous vintage tile
The furniture we have to work with. in the living room. Comfy but really needs some slipcovers and updating! Just doesn't fit the vintage vibe of the new place. The tv cabinet - ummm.. needs to go (I have plans for it in my sewing/craft room)

fireplace in our bedroom. Doesn't it scream for some acid etched mirrors? (ignore the old window unit the previous owners left there)

The stairs in our entry. (They look so much better today!) Those risers are begging me for paint and stencils. (They are relentless!) 

So, there you have it. Just a few of the spaces you could work with in our vintage home. 

Please, oh please, help us revive her! 
(and resuscitate my husband's faith in my crazy idea that she is worth the effort!)

Thanks for looking!

A forever loving your guts fan,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Doing the Happy Dance!

It's official!
Next year our daughter will be-

I am so excited!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Education in the City

This move has a few issues we had not thought about in detail, one of the most important being where our kids would go to school.
We currently live in the county and although there are choices in schools, where we live, the public schools are, for the most part, quite good.
We are moving to the city, and unfortunately the public schools are not even close to being up to par.
I found myself frantically searching for alternatives.

There does not seem to be a central place to find out about all the school options in the city. So I was calling everyone I knew for information and advice.
I was looking into private schools, religious schools, magnet schools, charter schools and even homeschooling!

The private schools were far too expensive. 

The religious schools were (mostly) less expensive, but would seriously add up when we had all 3 little ones attending.

Homeschooling is something I had thought about before. With Jeff's changing schedule it would be valuable to have control over the school schedule. But I wasn't convinced I was cut out to homeschool full-time.

There were a number of promising Magnet School options, but we had missed the application deadline. The best schools were full and had long wait lists.
We could be stuck on wait lists for months AND be looking to transfer the kids to one of the in-demand schools the next year. Not the ideal choice.
The up side was Lilia could attend a full-time preschool for free.

I looked into a couple of Charter Schools.
The first one we looked into one had a great reputation. It even shared space with a fee-based preschool that both of my younger children could attend. But we didn't feel it was a great fit.

The second one is where my cousin and her husband send their son. It is a language immersion program. This means that children learn all their coursework in a second language. Currently there is a Spanish language program and a French language program. We decided to look into the French program.
We went on Tuesday for the required tour.  We met the founder of the school. She explained the philosophy behind the school and the benefits of the immersion program. After she spoke, we were given a tour of the French side of the school by the headmaster of that program.
We left knowing we had found the perfect school.
Even my cynical husband was impressed!
There were only a limited number of spaces available for first grade in the French school.
I scrambled to get the paperwork together and I returned that afternoon with her enrollment materials. The woman at the desk said to expect that she would be accepted and letters would go out by the end of the week!

I will officially do the Happy Dance when I get that letter!

The only down-side, there is no preschool.
We are looking at sending Momo to one of the magnet schools for preschool and then she would attend the French School when she begins kindergarten.

Keeping my fingers crossed until we get that letter!

One thing down!

I'm linking up to the Company Girl Coffee!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"A Good Home" Episode 1

Welcome to the Premiere of

My brothers, are in charge of getting this house renovated for our move-in.


They are incredibly talented and creative people.
They both have an amazing sense of style and a great eye.
They would definitely be considered "hip" and "cool".
Top that off with the fact that they are super handy and can do almost anything around a house and they are pretty frikkin' amazing. (Sorry ladies, they are both taken!)

They currently own the house jointly and had been planning to renovate it to sell. Then their plans changed.

We were leasing a townhome we weren't in love with.
I was in love with the old house next door to my brother's.

We are a close family and his kids are the same ages as my own. It seemed like it was meant to be.
So we agreed to move in and if everything works out, buy the house.
It seemed like a simple plan.

Our priority is to get a functional kitchen and a working bathroom installed and clean the place on a nothing budget and a 6 week deadline. It seemed reasonable if everything went smoothly.

They have not always gone smoothly.

We are finding that with 4 "designers" things can get sticky. We each have our own ideas and they don't always easily mesh.

My childhood home was an eclectic mix of antiques and vintage finds with the occasional new item mixed in.
We used (and they still use) a huge mill wheel topped with plexiglass as a coffee table. The featured piece in their home is an enormous vintage microscope cabinet that is filled with an ever changing assortment of wonders.
Living in that environment, I grew up cultivating an eye for interesting old things and we all learned to value the character and warmth they bring to a home.

My husband's experience was pretty much the opposite.
The house he grew up in was always lovely and coordinated.

His mother is a wonderful decorator. Her current home is so lovely,  I can honestly say it took my breath away with it's traditional/modern elegance.
My husband developed a far different style-sense from my own. He likes brand spankin' new. He likes things that were made to perfectly coordinate with each other.

Our move into this old home is giving him panic attacks, causing him to break out in hives and question his sanity in saying ok to this harebrained scheme of mine.

(I tell you all of this in order to put this following tale in context )

We headed over to the house to do some work.
Nick had told me earlier that Tony had gone out the night before to pick up some antique white cabinets for the kitchen. He had gotten them for a steal from a guy putting in a new kitchen.
I was really excited to see them. I had hoped for a white kitchen.

After he and Jeff worked for a bit and I watched the little ones next door. Nick called me over and showed me these-

Behold - Our kitchen cabinets.

I was not expecting this.
I thought they had gotten regular kitchen cabinets that were painted the color "antique white".

I did not think "antique white" referred to the actual age of the paint.

Never-the-less, my first reaction was, "Those are SO COOL!!"

My husband was another story all together
He was like a deer in the headlights - frozen in horror.
He had thought they were part of what he was supposed to throw out.

I'm pretty sure at that moment, he wanted to throw up.

As I looked at them some more and thought about it,  I started to become worried about how functional they would be. I worried about the depth of the cabinets (they were huge!) Would I be able to reach things on the shelves I intended to put above them? Would I ever see the things that made it to the back of the cabinets again? If I crawled in to find those lost back-of-the-cabinet things would I ever be seen again?

The mom instinct kicked in.
Were the cabinets safe to use in a house with small children? Was there lead paint involved? Were the nickel tops safe for food prep? These were important questions that were bothering me enough to eclipse the cool-factor the cabinets had the potential to possess.

I was also afraid it might be the last straw for my husband.
That he would throw in the towel before we even started.
He was in full-blown panic crisis mode.

I was starting to panic also.
Jeff was going out of his comfort zone agreeing to this move. An unconventional kitchen might just send him over the edge.

I was afraid to say anything to my brothers, they were justifiably proud of their find and we were on a super-tight budget and time line.
They were working so hard and I didn't want to seem ungrateful, but I needed my husband to feel good about the house too.

Phone calls were made.
Opinions were gathered.
People took sides.
The stress got to everyone

I dreamed about the lovely bits of our soon-to-be home

My husband had nightmares about the not-so-lovely bits

In the end, my brothers have promised the kitchen will be amazing. (I will have to share with you some of the amazing reno work they have done in their own homes. It is stunning! So I know I can trust them.)
Everything will be safe for the kids and functional, and if it doesn't work for us, we will fix it.


Today I went back to take pictures see the progress (which at this point mostly involves things such as replacing lead water pipes and putting in subfloors, tile and wallboard not really photo ops)
Here is a peek at the kitchen floor- (Still needs final mopping)
And Nick working on the bathroom-

Nick walked me through the placement of things in the kitchen and I was feeling much better.

Our first reno-drama is behind us

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"A Good Home" Series Premiere

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment of my new Reno-Drama! 
A Good Home 
"A good home must be made, not bought"
Joyce Maynard  
Watch the drama unfold when 3 creative siblings (and one skeptical in-law) try to renovate a dilapidated 120 year old house into something livable on a shoestring and a super-short time schedule!

Episode 1- Too Many Designers in the Kitchen!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Naive or Crazy - Buying a Fixer-Upper

We currently rent a townhome in the calm, quiet, boring suburbs.
We have just entered into an agreement to buy a huge 117 year old house in the City that needs MAJOR renovation.
When I say MAJOR I am not exaggerating!
Here are some pics I took today with my phone-
Window in the bathroom. Other bathroom pics were too blurry to use due to my holding a screaming toddler who would likely have went straight for the giant hole in the floor where the tub was once

This will be the kids room. It is HUGE and adjoins our room. Yes, that is a fire escape you see through the window. At one time this gem was a boarding house!

Another view of the kid's room

One of the lovely arched windows at the front of the house. This will likely be my sewing/craft room (yeah!!)

Same room as above. Isn't that door sweet? (just look past the junk, it's there!

Kinda scary steps to the attic rooms

Some of the lovely woodwork! Lots of elbow grease and this will be gorgeous!

Stained glass

Living room fireplace. Most of the tiles are there and will be replaced.

Dining room, looking into the sunroom

Kitchen. Hmm, something is missing... Oh yes, a kitchen

Fireplace in the Master BR. I am all about this! (that's the door that separates our room from the little kid's room)
My amazing brothers are working their butts off to get this house ready for us to occupy in 6 weeks on a non-existent budget. (We are helping, but they provide all the skill and talent here!)
They are astoundingly fantastic and I am forever grateful to them for everything they are doing for us! (I think it helps that we are going to be next-door-neighbors to my brother, Nick!)
We will have all the junk gone, it will be safe for the little ones and we will have at least a basically functioning bathroom and kitchen
As scary as it looks right now, I know in my heart there is a wonderful house just waiting to come out!
I can't wait to start this new chapter!