Sunday, January 29, 2012

Inspired by red stools

I was just minding my own business, catching up on what Sherry & John have been up to at Young House Love the past couple months when a trio of red stools from a Reader Redesign feature jumped off my screen and grabbed me!


I immediately had to go to the original blog, Odd Girl Out, to get the whole story.  I love the way the red stools bring a fun pop to an otherwise neutral kitchen!

When we first moved in our house, I was all about a coastal color scheme of soft browns, blues and whites. Over the past year I've been adding pops of color while still keeping a neutral background.  I'm a big fan of turquoise and red, as you can see from my necklace collection.

The artwork and pillows I have in my living room now incorporate both colors into that room, but I've been trying to figure out how/where to bring color into my very white kitchen, which is open to my living room (the photo below was taken from the living room, looking into the kitchen).


Why not do it with red stools?!  I immediately started researching red stools online after seeing how much color they brought to Odd Girl Out's kitchen.  The ones she used are from Overstock.  Never being satisfied with one option, I had to make sure there wasn't anything better.  Believe it or not, these were my favorite style, and they're even affordable!


Like I mentioned last week, I have "project ADD."  Normally I'd get all excited about red stools and immediately do some research about them, but then it would fizzle out for a while because I'd get caught up in something else before I found the PERFECT red stool at the best price.  However, this time I was able to do all the research I needed to do quickly, and I was ready to move on it!  The last test would be getting The Mr.'s approval.

I know many of you are like me, so you understand my need to constantly change things.  In many things in my life, I prefer consistency and predictability.  But in the decor of my home, I like to change things up often.  The Mr., on the other hand, doesn't understand the need to purchase new stools when our current stools are perfectly acceptable.  It's a man thing, I know.  He asked if I had thought about painting our current saddle stools, which I had not because I was so smitten with these metal stools.  Here's what the saddle stools would look like red (seen here from Target).


Ehh.  Seriously, I was smitten with these new metal stools.  There was no going back!  Luckily I won him over with the great price ($82.99 for a set of 2) and a reminder that I've been working for a few months now precisely so I can afford to buy things without a lot of drama.  I placed my order, after a quick check on RetailMeNot for a coupon code.  Not only was I able to find a coupon code for 10% off, Overstock's shipping is only $2.95 -- no matter how much you order or how large or heavy it is!  Double score!

The stools have already shipped, and I can't wait for them to arrive!

Hollie

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Organizing solutions featured at Babble and Rubbermaid


Thought I'd share my excitement about a couple of my organization ideas that have been featured recently on other blogs.

First was a photo of the baskets I use for bath linen storage, featured as one of "25 MORE Totally Clever Storage Tips & Tricks" on Babble in November.  I stumbled upon the post some time in December when I noticed I was getting traffic from Babble.  Nice surprise!  The baskets are also a big hit on Pinterest, which drives more traffic to my blog weekly than anything else.  A big welcome to all of you who found me there!


Then just last week I was contacted by Beth Zeigler, a professional organizer and contributor to the Rubbermaid blog.  She was writing a post about organizing jewelry and asked my permission to use this photo from a post I did a few months back about necklace organization.


Of course I said yes!  You can check out the post here.  You can also check out Beth's personal blog at bneato.com.

It's so cool when a simple solution to a problem in my own house ends up resonating with so many other people.  But it makes sense -- we all can use more storage options!  What are your favorite storage solutions in your own home?

Hollie

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do you have project-oriented ADD like me?

Case in point:  This post was going to be about red bar stools, then it morphed into my ADDness that makes me want to jump to a new project without completing many other projects already begun.  Then I started thinking about all the things I want to get done around the house in 2012.  I've now got three separate posts to write, and who knows how many more I'll come up with while I'm writing.

For this one, let's stick with my project ADD.  I'm not sure I can even count all the large or small projects I've started in some way and either abandoned or put on the backburner because something else has struck my fancy.  We would tease my old boss about always being distracted by a "shiny penny," and perhaps a bit of her rubbed off on me.  I swear I didn't used to be like this.  Maria, if you're reading this, you can be satisfied that I took a little bit of you with me!

The Mr. is sitting next to me as I type, poring over something on his own laptop.  I mentioned that I was writing a blog post about my project ADD and was trying to think of the many projects I have in flux.  I know my "problem" drives him absolutely bonkers, because he's one of those one-track people that wouldn't even dream of moving on to something new until the first thing was closed out.  His response to my admission?  "I agree.  Good talk."

I wanted his help coming up with a list of my many unfinished projects, and I figured he'd be able to start rattling off a million things, but he was afraid he'd get in trouble for pointing them all out!  Hey, good on him for keeping an eye out for trick questions.  But I really did want his input.  After all, I know he's keeping score.

So, with a little help from The Mr., here's a sampling of some of the random projects I've started and not finished:

  • About a dozen blog posts!
  • Making over a vintage 2-tier table that has an ugly finish, but nice bones
  • Publishing a tour of our master bedroom
  • Ironing (there are 10 shirts hanging from our ironing board, which is against a wall in our bedroom right now)
  • Getting a pair of shoes fixed
  • Measuring out templates for possible art to go on the one remaining blank wall in our master bedroom (more to come on this project soon ... or when I can get my act together)
  • Posting about the diamond-tufted upholstered headboard I made for my mom
  • Framing some awesome "Cats in Clothes" prints I purchased in December
  • Researching a white comforter or quilt for my mom's bed
  • Reading the thousands of blog posts waiting for me in Google Reader
  • Putting away all the stuff that got dumped in the basement during holidays when cleaning up for visitors
  • Replacing or repairing the laundry hamper whose grommets are tearing away from the hamper fabric (because I had to remove the fabric part of the hamper from the frame and throw it in the washer after it got hit with cat puke - ick -- even vertical surfaces aren't immune)
  • Painting an ornate mirror I thrifted (just can't choose a color b/c I don't have a spot in mind for it)
  • Re-accessorizing our living room (some purchasing may need to be done for this, as I've "shopped our house" and am not satisfied)
  • Shopping for a black blazer that matches at least one of my nicer pairs of black pants (of all the matching suiting sets I own for work, strangely I don't have a blazer in black)
  • Completing the multiple decorating books I have started reading
  • Repairing a couple shirts that have beads falling off, etc.
  • Scrapbooking vacation photos

I inadvertently left my essential notebook (the one with all my to-do lists) on my desk at work, or the list would be longer, because I know I've forgotten some things.  Good grief.  But let's just revel in two projects I did actually get completed this week.
  1. Installing the diamond-tufted headboard I built for my mom (now if I could just get my blog post done so I could tell you all about it!)
  2. Choosing a location and a beach house for our summer vacation!  Woo-hoo!  We usually visit Outer Banks, NC, but decided to switch it up this year.  The Mr. and I, being the analytical people we are, researched beach communities up and down the east coast and finally settled on Tybee Island, GA.  Anyone who reads The Lettered Cottage probably has heard of Tybee from Layla.  She and Kevin have visited there several times, and have even made over several vintage cottages on the island.  Sadly, none of them worked for our family, as they didn't have enough bedrooms and/or bathrooms, but we found a great place right at the ocean.  It even has a hammock with an ocean view, which is calling my name!
I guess this is a photo-free post.  Not pretty, but oh well.  Hey, if I try to find a photo(s), that would take additional time, and if I don't end this post now, I'll probably have to put it off until tomorrow because I'm already not going to get nearly enough sleep tonight.  So, in an effort to get something accomplished, I'm going footloose and photo-free!

Now I'm curious -- do you have project ADD like me, or are you a one-and-done kind of person?  (Or did you stop reading this post a long time ago because it consisted of too many words?  That's a trick question, of course, because if you stopped reading, you wouldn't see the question.)

Hollie

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A trip down memory lane

The Mr. and I took a trip up to Cincinnati recently to visit our alma mater, Xavier University.  While on campus, we took a trip down memory lane as well.

We walked past or through many of the buildings where we spent time back in the day.  One place especially meaningful to the two of us is the residence hall where we met.


Our sophomore year, we lived on the same floor, in different wings.  The Mr. knew my roommate and would pop by our room to visit sometimes.  I distinctly remember him being content just to hang out on our futon (yes, futons were cool back then), whether or not we were being particularly entertaining at the time.  It wasn't until the beginning of our junior year that we started dating.

Heading over to the academic mall, we find Hinkle Hall, the oldest standing building on campus, built in 1919.  It sits in the middle of a chain of buildings with castle architecture, meant to look like a single fortress.  The turrets of this Tudor-Gothic structure were modeled after the Xavier Family Castle in Navarre, Spain.  (Details courtesy of our friend Wikipedia.)


The main part of campus is up on a hill, about the same elevation as the historic neighborhood on the other side of the valley.  I always loved how this archway frames the view.


I passed by these inscriptions outside the doors of the biology building every day of my college career, but I'm sure I didn't appreciate the detail at the time.


As we were stopped for me to take some photographs, we saw a mother and son on a campus tour, getting the run-down from their tour guide.  It brought back memories of my campus tour guide days.  I've always loved having the role of an expert, and sharing my knowledge with others. I guess that's why I liked being a tour guide so much.  The only bad part was having to get up early on the weekends for early tours!

We probably could have used our own tour guide on campus this trip, because so much has changed in the almost-14 years since I graduated.  Thru-streets have been transformed into grass and walkways.  Vintage homes have been torn down in the name of progress to make way for new dorms and other campus buildings.  I'm bummed that the 1920s cottage that used to house the student newspaper operations (where I worked) was leveled  in order to make room for the new "learning commons" building.  I'm sure those were hard decisions  for the university to make -- balancing progress with history.

This is the view out the amazing gigantic windows of the new learning commons.  Although charming cottages had to come down to make room for this mega building, I'm pleased to see details like the X's in each window were included, avoiding a generic feel.


Across the quad is a new structure housing a dorm and the swanky cafeteria.  We snapped a quick smartphone photo for The Teen, to tease him for not coming with us.  He now wants one of these space-age beverage dispensers for our house.


But the reason why we drove up to Xavier for the day was to visit this place -- Cintas Center, the basketball arena, and home of the Musketeers.  Here's D'Artagnan out front.


And here are two smartphone views of the inside.  Xavier beat the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure.  Woo-hoo!



After the game we headed out to IKEA, where we didn't buy anything too exciting.  Alas, no fiddle leaf fig plants and no Stockholm Rand Rug.  By the way, can anyone tell me why the Swedes haven't figured out a better way to lay out their stores?  It's maddening having to follow a map and/or arrows on the floor.

On our way back south, we stopped in Northern Kentucky to have dinner at a sushi restaurant with The Mr.'s cousin and her husband.  Believe it or not, I'm 35 and had never tried sushi.  The server suggested that a California Roll is good for newbies.  Um ... not for me, thanks.  Was not a fan.  But the rest of my food was tasty, as was the company!

Anyway, thanks for indulging me in my trip down memory lane at Xavier.  It was fun to take photos of architecture, rather than just home decor, for the day!

Hollie

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Great Conservatory Clean-Up, Part 2


Congratulations to any of you who made it through part 1 of "The Great Conservatory Clean-Up" yesterday.    For anyone who needs a re-cap, here's the abbreviated story:
The Teen moved bedrooms so he could fit a loveseat into his room.  His former bedroom became a dumping ground for anything that either didn't have a home or we didn't feel like organizing and putting away.  The loveseat got replaced by a giant beanbag, and was left out in the middle of the floor upstairs.  Something needed to be done with the loveseat and the former bedroom, dubbed "The Conservatory," before our 29 guests showed up for Christms.
The big holiday gathering was scheduled for the day after Christmas, but we also had my mom, brother and sister-in-law coming over Christmas Eve.  Because we were so busy in the month of December, like everyone else, we didn't have time to start getting ready for our guests until December 23, our first day of holiday vacation.  If you're like me, your house got totally trashed in December with all the coming and going and shopping and wrapping and cooking and baking.  We weren't going to have time to organize The Conservatory before our guests came, so we planned on just shutting the door.  And I assumed we'd just move the loveseat to storage in our basement, along with the matching sofa.  (We bought them when we were 22, before I knew the horrors of matching furniture.)

Then I remembered how my four-year-old nephew decided to give himself an unguided tour of the upstairs during The Teen's birthday party a month earlier, even venturing into rooms with closed doors.  I certainly didn't want him wandering around The Conservatory, or unintentionally opening the door and exposing our mess!  I thought I'd be clever and lock the door from the outside, which we could easily unlock later with the skeleton key we have.

But then I thought about the eight boys between the ages of 11 and 16 who would want to hang out upstairs during our big Christmas gathering.  Where would they sit?  On The Teen's bed and beanbag?  On our guest bed?  On the floor?  Hmm.  I had an idea. Why not turn The Conservatory into a den-type space?  We had a loveseat that needed a home, plus a coffee table that used to be in the office/den.  The teen and pre-teen guys could use it as their hang-out room.  After all, they pretty much entertain themselves with handheld electronic devices anyway, right?

But ... there was a heck of a lot of organizing, putting away, and rearranging to do.  And we had no time to do it when we had the rest of the house to get ready before our first guests arrived.  Then I had another bright idea.  We had nowhere to go on Christmas Day, so we could simply shut the door for our first guests on Christmas Eve, then spend Christmas afternoon on a family project.  That project being The Great Conservatory Clean-Up.  I mean, the holidays are all about family togetherness, right?

My idea was met with a bit of moaning and groaning, but The Mr. acquiesced and The Teen didn't have a choice.  It wasn't fun, but we got it done.  And it's always easier when you do mundane tasks with a buddy or two!

Remember what the room looked like before?  Here's the much better after:




Please keep in mind that the room is decorated with a mishmash of  items that are left over from "decorating past." Since The Conservatory is rarely used or seen, it's not worth spending money on.  Here's the story on each of the items in the room.

Rocker:  We purchased it just before our son, now The Teen, was born.  Yes, it's old and hideous.  Yes, it was already old and hideous when we bought it.  We found it at a resale shop when we were poor soon-to-be-parents, and it was a good price for a rocker/recliner.  The Mr. loooooves this chair, doesn't mind its hideous looks, and would sit it in a place of honor in our living room if I left him to his own devices.

Coffee Table and Loveseat:  Those are from our first real house.  The loveseat and matching sofa lived in the finished basement at our old house.  You can probably see the scratches on the top of the coffee table from when The Teen ran Hot Wheels cars across it when he was little.  It may get a DIY makeover at some point.

Bookcase:  That's a remnant from The Teen's old bedroom.

Chest of Drawers:  My father-in-law owns a cabinet business.  He had the base and the top left over in this warehouse and put them together for us to use at our first apartment.  It's not the prettiest thing, but the drawers slide really well and it's great for storing office and school supplies, so we keep it around.

Artwork Above the Chest of Drawers:  Purchased it for and had it hanging in my old work office.  Ah, I do miss having an office with a door.  I'm in cubicle-land now.

Console Table:  This is the only piece of furniture in the room that we actually like.  I wish we had a place for it in our living room.  It's an antique passed down from family.

Artwork Above the Console Table:  Another remnant from The Teen's old bedroom.  I like the pops of color and didn't feel like moving them and re-hanging them elsewhere.  Hanging artwork in a grid takes some effort to get everything lined up!

--------------------------------------------------------------

What started out as a post about a clean-up project ended up being a house tour post of sorts.  Although I won't post this on my blog's House Tour page, because I don't want any visitors to think it represents my current decorating style!  I'm just glad The Conservatory is officially cleaned up and at least presentable.

What imposing projects have you tackled recently?

Hollie

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fun finds: At the supercenter

Our family stopped by Meijer, our local supercenter, to do our weekly grocery shopping last weekend.  We had some non-grocery items on our list, like toothpaste and a light bulb.  Naturally I volunteered to pick those items up on the other side of the store because it gave me a chance to walk through the home areas of the store.  I glanced down the storage/organizer aisle on my way over to meet my guys in the grocery section and was caught off guard by the awesomeness before my eyes.

These remind me of vintage wire locker baskets I've seen on ebay, or vintage looking wire baskets and wall pockets I've seen from Ballard Designs and other retailers.  (I actually own the wall pockets from BD.)

In addition to the wire baskets, they had chalkboard crates, wooden crates, and metal tubs and cans.




I also stopped by the lamp aisle, not that I need any lamps, just to see if I could spot anything cute.  Lo and behold, this triple gourd lamp jumped out at me because it's not only chic, but on sale!  I grabbed the turquoise one, because I'm turquoise obsessed, and because surely I needed it since it was chic and on sale.    I'm sure it will be going back, because I already have four awesome lamps in my basement that I don't have a use for right now, but for some reason, I had to buy it that day. 


To those of you who don't live near a Meijer supercenter (which are only in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky), you're out of luck, because I haven't been able to find any of these online.  Bummer!

But ... I encourage you to check out your own local supercenters because you just might find something you don't expect!  If you've already found something great, let me know!

Hollie

Monday, January 2, 2012

Blog to check out: Small Notebook

Small Notebook is one of those blogs you could get caught up in and read for hours upon hours.  Is it on your regular reading list?

Blogger Rachel Meeks has shared oodles of ideas on how to simplify your life.  One of her beliefs that resonates within almost every post is that fewer "things" in your life leads to a happier life, or rather, a more cultivated number of "things."  Makes sense, right?  She must be a big picture person rather than a perfectionist like me, because she shares lots of tips on how to get things done quickly, rather than getting mired in the details and never quite getting everything done.  She must have a secret camera on me at all times and see how inefficient I can be sometimes!

I've been following  Small Notebook , which started in 2008, for a few months now.  Rachel's "Should I Buy This Shirt" decision tree is one of her best clothing-related posts to date.  We should all have a mini laminated version of this in our purses.


You can read the full post here.

Here's a sampling of some of her other posts.  She covers everything from clothing to cleaning to organizing to money to cooking, and more.


And here's one I have an appreciation for, but have a hard time giving in to.  Maybe I need to read it again.  And again.  And again.


Speaking of that, it's almost 11:30pm on the night of my last day off of the 2011 holiday season, and I have to get up at 6:20am for the first time in 11 days.  Perhaps this night owl should go to bed.  Wish me luck in the morning when my alarm is blaring!

Hollie
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