Thursday, February 23, 2012

A lot about my living room and the life I'm living

Aside: Today I am home sick from work. I didn't really expect my post about my living room to get so long or personal, my natural tendency is to say 'sorry'. But I'm not sorry, I feel blessed to have this outlet to share with you more than home renovation and crafts. On a non-sick day I probably wouldn't have had the time to elaborate as much as I did today. Life happens in relation to the places we spend our time and the people who we spent it with. I feel amazingly blessed to have a home in this midwestern town where we have found an amazingly supportive circle of friends and family to be our community. 

Our living room is probably the most 'lived in' room in our house. Obviously we spend a lot of time in our bedroom, sleeping of course. But when it comes to awake time we spend the majority here...
Ick... thank goodness it doesn't look like that anymore! To give you an idea of how our living room is lived in I scanned through my photos and found pictures of our living room in action. In our living room we...
Aside: The two small people shown above are my two youngest brothers. I have six brothers that range in age from 3 to 31. Crazy right? I come from a blended family - no, no one throw us in a blender although sometimes it can feel that way. 'Blended'  is the PC term for a "yours-mine-and-ours" family. My mom married Ron my freshman year of high school. His sons Andy, Shane, and Colin become brothers 2, 3, and 4 in addition to brother number 1 Brock (I got him the regular way when I was just 18 months old - He is funny and smart, and has survived been through most of life's circumstances with me). There were many days when having a new authority figure in my all-knowing-teenage life was more than a little difficult. But Ron stuck with us (me) and is my parent, my dad (in addition to my biological, real, other dad). Then my senior year of high school my mom had my sister Grace (gross -you never want to think about your parents doing that, of course until you grow up and are still grossed out but understand that if they weren't that wouldn't be good for their marriage). Then my parents, whose hearts are bigger and stronger than you can imagine, decided to use their time at home with Grace to bless other children through foster care. Tucker and Marty (brothers 5 and 6) are now part of our forever family and we are so blessed by their little lives. Our family is not perfect, pretty far from it, but it has been amazing to see God's transformation of lives and relationships damaged by divorce, into a family, a new creation centered on the love that God provides. 

Another Aside: The sweet sweet couple who we bought this wonderful house from 3 years ago, must have had a major thing for mint green (case in point curtains). Seriously I am pretty sure that every room in this house was mint green at some point. At some point when the put it on the market they painted everything (except the bathrooms and kitchen), so when we got here most walls were white. Besides the crazy green bathroom, when we remove light switch plates and baseboard diffusers we always see remnants of mint green paint lurking underneath the newer colors. 
So ideally our living room looks more like this on a day to day basis, while still accommodating those fun activities seen above.  
The warm beige carpet was newish when we bought the house so there was no reason to replace it. The color is right up my alley (I wonder if our homes future owners will feel the same way about our greige {grey/beige} as we do about the mint green?) The green couch was a college graduation present from my parents. They let me pick it out, so I tried to pick something versatile since I knew it would stick with me for quite a few years and I really didn't know where I would end up.

Aside: When I graduated from Olivet with degrees in Mathematics and Psychology, I went straight into a PhD program for Collegiate Mathematics Education at Illinois Institute of Technology. The program was brand new and one of just a small handful of programs like it in the country. I was so excited and really felt God's hand in this decision. The program was made available just as I was trying to figure out where to go to study collegiate mathematics education but also my future husband serious boy friend (at the time) was studying architecture at IIT. So I moved to Chicago in January of 2008 and loved studying math, teaching math, studying about how to teach math, and living in the same city as the man I loved. Jeremy and I were engaged in February of that year. 

However being the first student in a PhD program fully tied to two departments (Applied Math and Math & Science Education) felt like being pulled in opposite directions by two slow moving trains, with little respect for where the other was headed and little regard for me in the middle. I was so stressed and unhappy I was physically ill much of the fall semester. I wondered why God had brought me to this place, blessed me with the skills to excel in this program (I was still getting straight A's) but then allowed me to suffer through this anguish. So Jeremy and I spent a lot of time talking and praying and talking and praying, and I just knew God had wanted me to come to Chicago for a reason (I now realize it was to become fully committed to the amazing man He made my husband), but I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wasn't supposed to stay there. 

But that didn't make the decision or next few months any easier. What do you do when the plan, the dream your have for your life isn't what God is calling you to. When you have loved the math and the teaching, and you can't imagine what the future holds without it. It was scary and I remember praying to God that I recognized His sovereignty over my life and His love for me and asking for the strength to trust His plan. In my darkest hour, a path was illuminated. Jim and Michelle {I feel like I need an aside in my aside here - Jim is Michelle's husband, Michelle was married to my step-dad Ron (she is the mother of my brothers Shane and Colin) and Jim is the design manager at the flower shop. I know it seems kind of convoluted, and it might be, but my very blended family is amazing. There is an over flow of love a grace found among us that is beyond was is humanly possible} ok  so ...

Jim and Michelle were coming up to Chicago for an event at one of our floral wholesalers and I decided to meet them there. I wanted a distraction from the turmoil that I was in and to spend time with people who loved me. Well, that day my passion for the floral industry was rekindled beyond what it had ever been before. I remembered that beyond who I was as a graduate student and math instructor I had other skills and talents that also utilized the ways God had gifted me.  

Jeremy was in the middle of his 3rd year of his architecture degree (a 5 year program at IIT), I couldn't ask him to give up his dream while I was walking away from mine. I interview as some wholesale florists in the Chicago area and had peace knowing I was going back to the floral industry, but knew I hadn't found the right place yet. Then my parents approached me about coming back to C-U to work for them as the Sales Manager at Blossom Basket. I would be daily working in a Christian business and utilizing all my stills in serving a customer base, business, and industry I loved. So Jer and I did a lot more praying and talking. At one point I remember taking off my engagement ring and 'making' him decided what was best for him without me in the picture. He said there was no deciding anything for him without what was best for me in the focus of the lens (a wise beyond his years glimpse into the amazing man that I am blessed to have as a husband). 

So we moved back to C-U and bought this house that you have been touring. Jeremy is working on a business degree at Eastern. And just for fun I am in a master's program for mathematics at the U of I. We are continually blessed by our decision to follow God's leading rather than our selfish ambitions and our foolish hearts. Phew, that got intensely personal and lengthy over the origins of a rather plain green couch, but back to the living room. 

As soon as we moved in we bought a little ginger red sister for our couch to keep it company and keep our company couchy comfy. However, the rest of the furniture and decor is the result of a three year acquisition of pieces and evolution of style. And I do not consider these 'after' pictures because for me everything is 'in progress.' For those of you who like to know sources: Curtains are from Lowe's of all places, they were so cheap economical and bring a lot more style into the room. Both the couch and the love seat, as well as the coffee table are Ashley Furniture pieces and the frames and mirror hanging behind them are from Hobby Lobby (or Blobby Blobby as my mom likes to call it). The wooden door goes nowhere and was rescued out of a barn on one of Ron's farms. 

The living room is the biggest room in the house. I hope the 360 gives you some perspective on how the different parts of the room come together. Spinning to the south (across form the cushier seating) we have a very large window with more of the Waverly curtains, my succulent obsession collection and two more chairs. 
We use all of our living room seating at least a few time each month when we have our small group or other larger groups of people over. 
Aside: Just for fun I counted and we have 25 chairs inside our little 1400 square foot house, so come over and bring your 22 closest friends and we will all have a place to sit!
 In the south-west corner of the room we have a little nook with a desk (originally purchased at a consignment store for repurposing into a bathroom vanity, but we loved the lines and finish too much to risk ruining it in the humid bathroom) and a library card catalog.
This picture was taken before finishing this project. One of the many problems with being behind in my blogging. 
 Desk details: apothecary jars and cake place for organized office supplies.
Desk details: Elephant bookends a Christmas represent for Jer from his in-laws

Finding this catalog was a dream come true. Ok maybe thats a little dramatic but I had been talking about wanting one for a very long time. I have proof from Pinterest. My mom and I found it at an antique store in St. Joseph at the beginning of our 'girls weekend.' I called Jeremy right away and made asked him to go look at it. In his 'we-don't-need-more-stuff mind' it wasn't perfect (some water damage, a few missing trim pieces), but for me that's whats makes it perfectly imperfect. Plus even though these used to be commonplace useful items (don't you remember learning to use one in school) and they are no longer of practical use, they are still held on to by schools, libraries and other institiutions. They are a pretty rare find for public purchase, as least as far as my one day's worth of research could conclude. So because he loves me and Dave Ramsey taught him "Sometimes you don't have to get it, you just have to get it." We went back as soon as I returned from our trip to take home my baby new card catalog.
Can you see the pure bliss on my face?
The "gallery" as I like to call it spans the west wall of the living room and continues over the desk. The frames were collected from garage sales and thrift stores over a couple months last summer. After amassing quite a few I estimated my arrangement and then painted them a bold teal. The frames were then filled (again over time - and still changing) with art work by friends and us, pages out of books and magazines,  etc. I have tried to incorporate some of the colors of the room and keep them from being snapshots of people for a more consistent and gallery like feel (we have lots of pictures of people other places in the house). 
Living life in the living room sounds pretty cheesy, but I guess that means that the living room was just properly named.
Aside: Thank you for reading not only about my home but also my heart. Maybe nothing here stuck you as especially personal or sensitive but I shed more than a tear or two while typing this. I've shared just snippets of my story, and will likely share more in the future. I don't share for attention or glory but to highlight God's faithfulness in my life. When I started this post it was literally just about a room in my house, but it became something much more important. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kitchen Changes

Welcome to our kitchen! It's come along way in the 3 years we've lived here. 
Here are the pictures we saw of this room in the online listing.

To be honest I was rather confused by these pictures. Why aren't there base cabinets under the corner of that counter? Why is the wood so orange? What going on with the L-shaped panelling the between those cabinets?

{The answers we have found in our 3 years of as home owners. Still have no idea, but it is a semi-convenient place for our garbage and recycling.  Strange lighting in picture but they are over varnished and a little tangy for my taste. It's hiding the back of the stove and the strange pantry thing.} 

Our first change was to paint the walls grey rather than light blue. We used a light grey (Valspar's Tempered Grey) on most of the walls, with an accent wall by the back door in a darker grey (Valspar's Mountain Smoke).
It turns out that strange panelling was covering the back of a stand alone pantry unit (that didn't match the other cabinets). While we trying to figure out how to paint around it we moved it out and realized that taking it out opened up that area of the kitchen. So we got rid of it (well we are using it for storage in the garage). We borrowed an upper cabinet from the laundry room and my husband made a custom butcher block to match up with the countertop (I have a great husband).
So since we took out the the cabinets from the laundry room (which is technically in the kitchen as well) we built open shelving there for storage. I painted the whole thing including the bi-fold doors grey and added two ikea gruntal drying racks to the side walls .
 So you might notice that our washer and dryer don't match. We started out with matching ones that we bought used ($260 for the pair - a much better value than new rather than $800-$1800, especially when they have been refurbished). But our washer broke, so we bought a non-matching new-to us washer for $150 and am happy as a clam. I've seen pins where people paint their appliances, but since for the most part the doors are closed I haven't seen it as a pressing issue yet.
And then most recently we removed the cabinets above the peninsula and added some open shelving and  track lighting, for more details see here and here.

I have another big change planned, for a hint click here

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Study (&) Hall (Closets)

Our second bedroom is currently a study (office plus cushy chair and t.v.). The idea for the space is primarily centered on versatility. Jeremy studied architecture and so the desk is his drafting table which provides ample space and style. The dresser, file cabinet, chair, and coffee table were all garage sale/thrift store finds that I painted. Ideally I would use the coffee table for crafting and such. The rug is from Ikea and took visiting 2 Ikea stores in one day to find - exhausting. 
The curtains used to be drop cloths I had left over after the o.j./bathroom incident of '11. I simply died them yellow.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to work, but it turned out to be the perfect brilliant yellow. 
 Details: apothecary jars with beads, blocks, etc corralled in a shallow yellow basket
Sorting our books by color is surprisingly effective! You need only remember the color of the cover and presto it is easy to find. 
Again with the 360 so you can take it all in.

And now for the hall closets... (I don't feel like they deserve their own post)
We've got one giant closet off of the hallway just outside the living room. It is deep and wonderful and here's whats in it ...
And then there is the entry closet with shoes, scarves, jackets, and coats ...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pinned it! Did it! Episode 2

I really do have a whole house tour planned. So far you've seen our half bath remodel and our bedroom restyle but I do have pictures of each of our other rooms to share too, (here come the excuses) but I am a florist and the next seven days are the craziest in my year by far. So basically I probably won't be blogging and if I am please forgive any typos, errors, and other signs of pure mental/physical exhaustion. All of that being said I didn't want to leave my loyal 3 readers without any Brittany blogging for too long so .. enjoy!
Pinned It
So I pinned this 2 months ago with the description "must do ... love" which probably won't help anyone else find the picture but definitely told me what to do. The original source is although I don't see this image there anymore. But by going there I did get and up close look at this piece and realized the beading I didn't know how to accomplish (I was contemplating metallic fabric paint, but ended up opting for simplicity) was literally beads, seed beads in gold. I still think I will leave mine without at least for now.

I started the project with Amanda when she did her tree painting.  That stage was just a lot of cutting up magazine images.

How did you cut out so many so perfectly you might ask? Well I actually cut out about twice as many as I ended up using just to have plenty of textures and colors to choose from. And I modified this template from Jones Design Company Blog (Thank you Emily). I printed it out at 1/4 of the size (4 per page) on card stock and then trimmed the top and bottom into points. Then I traced, cut, traced, cut, ...
For the background I used a craft store canvas and acrylic paints that I already had laying around my house (Why is the saying laying around?). Actually all my acrylic paints are in a plastic shoe box sized tub in my well organized craft closet that you will see should I ever get to the rest of the house tour.

I wanted to still capture the Moroccan feel of the original pinning so I used 2 shades of metallic gold. I also wanted to tied in the some teal/turquoise to add cohesion to the gallery wall (all the frames are a dark teal) and I'm also trying to incorporate cobalt blues into the gallery. So thats how I ended up with this color palate for the back ground.
I'm not a painter or really an artist (with the exception of flowers as the medium), but I just layered swirls and schwoops of color until I kind of liked it. Remembering all the while that most of it would be covered by my cutouts.
Applying liberal amounts of glossy Modge Podge I placed the shapes eyeballing the separations, and leaving some areas of the canvas (the ones I liked the best of course)  'unfinished'.
And then I waited for it to dry (boring - I really wanted to hang it on the wall the moment I finished but my husband talked me out of it, this also gave me the chance to spray a clear gloss coat of UV protectant finisher on so that the whole thing is glossed not just the Modge Podged pieces).  The whole project cost me $0 since I used supplies I has on hand, but even if you bought all the materials it would cost maybe $10 or so.
Did It!
Not to shabby right? I really like that you noticed the piece for all its color but only upon further inspection do you see the tessellating shape and then individual textures and patterns.

p.s. Did you notice the other Pinterest idea seen in one of the photographs?