Back In The Game

Life used to happen fast. So I thought. And then I worked a job and went to college and life got faster. I got married and it steadied. But then we moved and life got fast again. Pregnancy made the months seem slow. And then sweet Annie was born and the days were long. So, so long with a newborn. And yet at night in bed I'd look back and wonder where the time was to do things like laundry and showering. You know the story. Your kids shoes are on backwards and you forgot to brush your own teeth. But it's true. Everyone jokes about it because it happens to everyone. A couple years passed and life seemed to become what I made of it. Annie rocked to a certain rhythm and I - God willing - could plan my days and get things done. But then we went from a small remodel to a giant house remodel. And Quig came. Quig came screaming, guys. Kicking and screaming. This kid's got lungs.

So now life is back to where I wonder at night whether we can stretch the laundry one more day and have enough clean underwear for everyone in the morning. Jesus' mercies are new every day. But dirty clothes are not.

I wake up lately and expect to get so much accomplished each day. I wait for perfect opportunities to slip in a project. But they never come. Bums me out. When will the windows ever get painted? When will we ever fix the wall? And the last thing I've had time to squeeze in is blogging. Sadly, though. Because I'd love to look back at all we've done with this house and remember the small, somewhat precious things. Like when the marble countertops were an 1/8 inch too close in the kitchen and our stove didn't fit.

Or like the time last month our elderly neighbor stopped by with her dog who ran around the house and peed three times in three rooms. Then peed on our Christmas tree. You know - just for good measure. (Dear Rufus, you are officially uninvited from our house ever again.)

Then a call came in last week. To my dad - who is our general contractor. Someone drove by, saw his remodeling sign, called his office and said they were interested in buying our house.


Before and After: Hallway - Phase 1

I definitely get made fun of often for the hankering I get to swap rooms whenever the wind blows. Not just move a chair to the other side of the room kind of flip flopping. I'm talking let's turn the dining room into the living room - like I did here - and the bedroom into the family room.

Well now I know why.

I haven't done as well as I would have liked keeping track of the house progress through pictures and blogging. But let's see if I can explain this room progression nonetheless...

The house has three upstairs bedrooms and one downstairs. The downstairs bedroom has a full bath and was part of an addition back in the 40s - meant to become the master bedroom. It's directly off the dining room and has a door that brings it into the den. Here's what that first floor master in all its floral glory looked like when we bought the house.

Below you can see the full bathroom on the right. But pay attention to what's happening on the left side of the picture. Big armoir. Small hallway. And a closet.

Well, folks, let's all take a cue from C.S. Lewis and hop into the armoire. You'll find yourself, not in Narnia, but in the den. That's right. The previous owner's armoire hid some western saloon-esque shuttered doors which take you here...(you can see the shuttered doors directly beneath the chandelier)

But, no dice for us. Because we don't have a giant armoire. And no dice, once more, because those shuttered doors are on some crazy, high powered spring hinges which snap shut the minute you let go. Annie about got crushed every dang time she walked between the rooms. So we 86ed them, which left us with a nice little hallway. We also 86ed the flush mount light because we're gangster like that and of course we've yet to replace it because we're gangster like that, too. Word to the wise. Don't trash something unless you have a replacement ready to go. Roger that on all future endeavors. Except, it's too late for us. I threw half the house away that first week and promptly regretted it.

Anyway, back to the master bedroom, we dove into getting the hardwoods ready in here. That's when we noticed all the water damage by the windows and came to grips with needing to replace a good portion of the floorboards in here.  (Pardon all the iPhone pictures coming your way.)

After the installer finished rebuilding the subfloor and lacing in new wood (I wrote about that process here), the electricians came in and added canned lights, the drywallers removed the popcorn and skim-coated the ceilings, and my mom and I knocked out the painting.

This next picture is sort of the focus of this post, because below you can see the master bedroom "hallway" I'm sitting in as I type. This is where the armoire used to sit and where the shuttered doors used to swing. Phase 27 of this house remodel will be walling off the doorway between this room and the den, adding double doors and making this hallway/closet into one giant master closet. But we still have 26 less expensive phases before that happens.

Oh, and the den. That's a whole other post. But here's a shot of this newly painted "master" bedroom from the newly painted, but yet to be carpeted den. Dang, I forgot to ask if anyone wanted some mildewy, red carpet before I chucked it into the dumpster. Bummer.

And let me introduce you to our refinished hardwood floors. Ebony. Ebony. Ebony. That's my jam.

Anyway, we knew we wouldn't use this as the master bedroom for quite some time. We have some youngins who don't allow us to sleep which necessitates some close proximity during the night. So, when we moved in, this room became the catch all, nightmare mess of a playroom/office/craftroom/make-me-crazy room.

And then one day, I decided to clean up and for a few weeks we rolled with this setup:

Worked for the interim, but a little awkward.

OK, but now backing up a bit, we drove out to Nebraska Furniture Mart on a thrilling Saturday night back in August and found and bought this sectional, which we custom-ordered in a different fabric. Chief-hypocrite, that's me. I used to scoff at people who bought their furniture out there. Thought it was all La-Z-Boys and microfiber.

And a lot of it is, don't get me wrong. Here's John and Annie patiently waiting for me on a straight-up hideous rug...

Well, when six weeks later the sectional arrived, we put it in the den. (this room...)

Then last week my dad came over and said that the sectional basically swallowed the den. Way too big. And that we ought to move it into that original "master bedroom." So he must be who I get my room swapping ways from.

(By the way, if you think I should be embarrassed at how messy this next photo is, just now, I am indeed rightfully embarrassed. But I didn't ever take any decent pictures before we hauled everything back out.)

Anyway, I agreed with my dad. And the sectional now lives in this master bedroom which is serving as our family room. And the den has become the playroom.

And the hallway between the two became my office. Whew, that was a long windy road to finally get to my point.

It's nowhere near finished. All the walls are plaster and I'm too scared to hang anything lest we flip rooms again here soon. So ignore the random pictures leaning everywhere you look.

For anyone super observant this little desk is the same desk that I made out of old wood and Ikea bookshelves for John's studio way back in New Orleans three years ago. Got the idea here.

Then it later landed in our Branson townhouse...

...and condo living room in Kansas City. It's a desk whore. It's been around.

So now it's taking up residency in my little hallway.

Along with this gold $2 chair from Revivals that I lurve.

Along with this lamp from JCPenny's that was originally $195 and was clearanced for $78 but that somehow the manager gave me for $7.50. Boo-yea. I think he just wanted me and my two screaming children to leave his department.

And the desk holds this laundry basket, because all you folks with kids know that no matter how hard you try, at least three times a week a kid ends up naked in your living room and you need somewhere to toss their clothes without trudging upstairs. Or a kid vomits all over themselves and you really, really need somewhere to throw the clothes.

And for anyone who cares - can't imagine who that would be (!) - as far as organization goes, we keep all our receipts in that gold pottery on the left and all of our bills, etc in a wire basket to the right of my computer. John calls it our inbox. I call it our this-is-the-last-thing-I-want to deal-with stack of annoying paperwork that I begrudgingly sort every couple of weeks.

One last thing! Right across from this little hallway was a really bad closet that backed up to the master bath. Right now, it's still a really bad closet. But come the first week of December...hello first floor laundry!!!! 

It's a slightly odd place to put laundry, I admit. But the bids to put it upstairs next to the bedrooms was akin to a semester's tuition in college and this was about 95 times more affordable down here being that it backed up to a bathroom and was over a basement. 

So what does that mean, kids? Mama ain't doing no mo' laundry til the first week of December. Start watching where you puke because we can't afford to continue going through four outfits a day. 

Anyway, there you go. This house overwhelms me and sometimes you just got to take it one small hallway at a time.


A Shout and A Shout Out

Here's the thing. If you let me, I could easily sit and read design blogs from breakfast until dinner. Maybe just one more for dessert. And another before bed. It's excessive. (And perhaps why we forwent internet for six months.) So in the last year or so, I've done some major editing as far as what stays on my bookmark list when I get on my iPhone. I hit five blogs. Young House Love, Little Green Notebook, Elements of Style, Pure Style Home and House Tweaking. There's a much longer list of sites I bounce around occasionally - Apartment Therapy, Lonny, etc. But I chose the five above because they produce content, not just share it. I'm ok with bloggers who share their inspiration photos from magazines and others' websites. But what really gets me flush in the cheeks is seeing their photos to inspire me. I like creators of design, not just curators of it. And three out of the five sites I listed are major go getters when it comes to creating their own homes. The other two are young designers who inspire me, but hire out all the work. Bottom line, these are the sites that get me going. Moving. Thinking. Conspiring to break out another tool and make something happen in my own home.

House Tweaking is a site I stumbled on last year - no idea how - and keep a steady tab on. Dana and her husband are in the middle of remodeling their ranch. This is the kitchen they recently finished. Love it.

Here are a few other pictures of her house.

This next one, by the way, is actually her laundry room which sits exposed to their dining and kitchen area. Purty cleever...

Anyway, here's the part where I freaked out. I was reading this post on her blog last month and here's what she said...

And so I read this and am thinking, too cool, maybe I'll get turned on to some new websites with designers who have kids. And then, boom. SHE FEATURED MY CONDO! What?! I about peed my pants. Ok, I really did. But that's nothing new. I was pregnant at the time and I'd pee my pants whenever I sneezed, coughed, laughed, you name it. It was glorious. Love what carrying a child does to your body. And your dignity.

But the point is, my chin hit the floor. I know. This is totally NOT comparable to seeing your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stones. But whateves. It's about the coolest thing that's happened to me in a while. Someone I've never met, whose design I admire, whose website I read, who lives half way across the country from me has seen pictures of my condo and was inspired by it.

So yes, I did. I woke up John. 'No honey, not in labor. But get this! This girl likes our condo!'

She had seen these pictures featured on Apartment Therapy this summer.

And here's what she said about it...

I’ve only seen peeks at this small and family-friendly home and I want more! I’m hoping the full house tour will pop up on Apartment Therapy someday. Anyhow, right off the bat this space feels oh-so-cozy and personal.

The oversized black and white photos, the pops of red, the painted brick walls, the overscale décor pieces, the neatly tucked in kid stuff…all of it makes me want to snuggle in with my family. This space is less than 900 sq ft {!} and yet it feels livable even for a family. The owner admits to tweaking each and every thing she could over a six year period. She bought the small condo as a single woman and has since added a spouse, a dog and two kids into the mix, revising the décor as necessary. For example, she and her husband turned the master bedroom into a kids’ shared bedroom. She’s passionate about living with only the things she loves and nothing more. So inspiring!


Anyway, I know these are old pictures and maybe you've already seen them. But sometimes, when you're doing your dishes in your bathtub, microwaving dinner in your den and you've got your fridge in the dining room, it's nice to take a trip down memory lane and remember what it's like to walk through your front door and see everything in its place. Frames on the wall, not the floor. Your pantry in a cabinet, not a plastic bin under your table. You know, those sorts of things.

And I'll be honest, putting our furniture in this new house with its old trim and bad paint didn't give it the immediate face lift I thought it could. I figured that painting over the yellow crown molding wouldn't be so urgently needed once we'd refinished the hardwoods, done away with the popcorn ceilings, and had our own furniture in place to pull your eye away from all the, well, eye sores.

But it wasn't true. It almost looked worse. People would come over and I felt compelled to tell them that we were in fact going to paint the crown and get new window treatments because I was afraid it looked as though I chose all those things. No, these aren't the sort of life-altering things that keep me up at night. I have a child who does that for me. But, when there's nary a single room in the house that looks or feels like we'd like it to (and won't for quite some time the way the way Quig's colic is affecting our family), it's nice to get affirmation about some design work you've done in the past.

Anyway, if nothing else, go check out Dana at House Tweaking. She's one of those super moms who has three kids AND a blog with pictures she actually edits. And she posts. Often. As in doesn't take random 6 week hiatuses. Plus she's got stuff going on. Major stuff. So it's not just, hey this is how I set my dining room table last night. It's like, hey this is how I knocked down this wall last night.

That's my kind of blogger. :) And I'm pumped that she featured our place!

But now back to my current reality...eek.

(Full disclosure... I wrote this post a while back and then never published it because, you know, I nurse a child 23 out of 24 hours a day. Approximately. Maybe more. Anyway, that said, things are beginning to take shape 'round here and I'll hopefully have the follow through to post an update with some pictures soon!)

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