The “house tour” section of my blog is woefully out of date. It’s so funny to scroll through those photos and realize how far my house has come in the last few years. Old photos help me appreciate all the time and energy I’ve spent turning my house into a home since we moved here in March 2013 (shortly after we married). We were lucky enough to score a short sale at a bargain price and scrape enough money together for a very small down payment. And my favorite DIY project to date began as we started transforming the house room by room.
Here’s the living room soon after we moved in.
Not the worst room I’ve ever seen, but looking back at that photo makes me cringe so hard.
Fast forward through four years, three couches, two area rugs and countless gallery wall attempts and the living room reflects my personal style now more than ever. It’s as close to feeling finished as ever. Part bohemian and part elegant with a dash of cozy and a hint of quirky is the best way to describe my style. I’m instantly drawn to anything with a tribal print like kilim or ikat — especially if it features an array of saturated hues. I’m a sucker for color, but a steady foundation of greige (a neutral shade of trendy gray mixed with *gasp* traditional beige) is the common thread keeping it all feel grounded.
Here’s a view from a similar angle of what the room looks like today.
So. Much. Better. Psst… see my little pup hiding behind the coffee table? His fur matches my color palette, but I swear that was a happy accident. 🙂
Here’s a more straight on view. This is what you see at the back of the house when you walk in through the front door, so it’s the first impression visitors get when they walk in.
Loloi’s gorgeous new Javari rug in Berry/Sunrise is the foundation of this room. It was certainly a splurge but I’m at a place where I’m ready to start investing in key pieces and this rug was love at first sight. I’m so happy I pulled the trigger and I’m thrilled with the quality and softness of this rug. Two thumbs WAY up!
The light gray fabric of the Paidge sofa (fabric: performance velvet; color: stone) and rich brown of the Henry power recliner (fabric: top-grain leather; color: tobacco) are similar tones to the rug and I love the way they all came together. Both are from West Elm and, like the rug, were investment pieces — so I went with neutral, durable fabrics that will have longevity. Did I mention this is my third couch in four years? It needs to stick around for a while.
Rounding out the seating area are two modern slipper chairs. The size and scale allow them to float in a high traffic area without making it feel too crowded. These are from Target’s budget-friendly Threshold line and at $129 each they helped balance the cost of the pricier pieces without sacrificing style. The color is called pepper and they throw a navy hue (not black) in person which adds a nice hint of color without competing with the rug.
Three cheers for finally seeing this room come together. It’s such a good feeling! What home-related projects have you tackled lately that make you take a deep, soothing breath when you look at them? What rooms are next on your to do list?
Mike and I recently decided to move our office downstairs into the living room for two reasons. One, the living room spans the width of our house and at 21×14 the far end felt empty and lost. Two, we rarely set up shop in the office upstairs because neither of us wanted to feel locked away up there by ourselves. I swear a post is in the works detailing the move and unveiling our awesome little corner-turned-office downstairs, but this isn’t that post.
Moving the Mac, extra monitor and scads of technology down onto the main floor left the office ripe for the picking, and boy did I take advantage of the newly-vacant space. I was so excited to get my crafting/DIY/gift wrapping stuff out of the chaos pantry (though it’s newly organized for the second time) and up into its own space.
This mix-and-match feel of this room is truly the epitome of me. Every. Single. Piece. is collected/thrifted/salvaged from somewhere. I didn’t purchase any of the furniture specifically for this room. It’s a little disjointed, but I love it.
Notice the two nearly identical wingback chairs? One is navy, the other is hunter green, and I successfully made them work — staring right into each others’ nailhead trim…
You may recognize the green chair from our living room downstairs. It sat proudly across from our old charcoal grey sofa. A little too proudly, in fact. It was so tall someone sitting at the newly positioned desk couldn’t see the TV, and that just wasn’t going to work. Another fun fact about our pair of wingbacks is each one came from our grandparents. The navy was given to us from Mike’s grandparents, and the green came straight from my grandparents’ office. The style of both chairs is nearly identical which is why they both work here even though they’re different colors. Another neat feature of these chairs is that each relaxes into a comfortable reclining position, so my goal is to use this as a sitting/reading/writing room when I’m looking for some solitude.
The Sicilia print is an old linen piece from Mike’s grandmother, too. It used to live in the bathroom of our old apartment, and I think it looks great on the wall in the office. That small chest next to the chair was a second-hand find from my grandmother’s neighbor. She was giving it away and I decided to spray paint it black and cart if off to college with me. It’s been tagging along ever since. When I made this room the craft room, I gave it the new job of housing my plethora of gift bags and displaying my Keyboard Cat and Andy Warhol print — both treasured gifts. A noble task, indeed.
Moving to the right of the navy chair, I placed my DIY’d crafting table/cabinet/shelf-like thing-a-ma-bob. This is a TOTALLY makeshift piece. The two white cabinets used to house canned goods and glassware in the kitchen of our old apartment. With an entire room devoted to storage in our new townhouse, I decided to repurpose these into storage space for my crafting supplies. The wooden top is made up of two solid-wood Ikea shelves that I screwed together with brackets to make them extra sturdy. It’s floating on top of the white shelves so it’s easy to disassemble and move if need be. I do want to paint the top white to help it blend in, though.
The black shelf next to it is a hold out from the old office. It was laying on its side housing some office supplies, novelties and the printer. It wasn’t very useful in the office, so I decided to sit it right side up and get some extra baskets/containers to house my crafting and party supplies. I tilted it on an angle a bit to break up all the straight lines in the room, and I took a small globe-shaped light out of storage with a teeny tiny bulb that stays on pretty much all the time to act as a night light in the upstairs hallway since we always leave the door to this room open.
See that graphic black and white pillow up there? It kept catching my eye on Pinterest and in several blog posts so I snapped it up. It’s not the most practical pillow in this space since I already have two other throw pillows in here that work well together and the graphic pattern is a little too much next to the curtains, so I plopped it in a basket above the shelf for visual impact and as an option for future floor sitting. Looking at it makes me happy, so it stays. And those curtains? They dressed the window in our bedroom at the old apartment and I was thrilled to be able to reuse them here. They’re a perfect match with the wall color I chose. What a happy accident.
Onto one of my most practical sections of the room – my gift wrap storage. I started keeping all those rolls of gift wrap in that gold bin in the pantry when we first moved into the house and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s so easy to grab what I need in a rush to wrap a stylish gift in no time. And that even more stylish gold bin is a hand-me-down from my Mommom. I know, right? Score!
And finally, to keep it real. This is the office-turning-craft-room transition that I started with. Yeah, a lot of work when into getting this room organized. The closet is even spic and span now. What a relief.
And to go back even further, this is the office I started with.
Do you guys have a dedicated space for crafting or gift wrapping? Even just a dedicated closet, perhaps? I’m pretty lucky to have a third bedroom at my beck-and-call, that’s for sure. And I’m basking in the glow of extra useable space for now.
It’s been very chilly around here this week. And I’m not just talking about the 30 degree temperatures outside. I’m talking about getting home early on Tuesday night (which if you know anything about my daily commute, you know that’s a miracle) and finding out that our gas had been turned off. Night = ruined. No bueno.
Let me back up. As I explained in my post yesterday, Mike and I bought our house as a short sale back in March. Short sales are a great investment, but they’re also a lot of work. After we made an offer we had to RUSH to get our inspections done quickly. But there was one huge hurdle in our way – the utilities were turned off. Yes, we toured the cold, dark house with no electricity or gas.
In order to protect our investment and ensure we weren’t buying a total money pit the utilities had to be reinstated for a proper inspection. I must be addicted to being crazy busy all the time, because we had a vacation to Florida planned for the exact same week we were doing inspections and finalizing the contract. I totally remember calling the utility companies from the airport making arrangements to get them turned back on. Talk about hectic.
Fast forward to Tuesday night. When I walked up to my door and saw the note from South Jersey Gas stuffed in it, my heart dropped. I immediately knew I had made a huge mistake. In that moment I realized we never received a gas bill – since March. Mike takes care of most of our bills, so I had always assumed he had it on auto pay like all the others. He thought I was taking care of it. Panic ensued, and it was cold in my house. The temperature had already dropped to 60. Crap.
I immediately dialed the number on the letter to right the situation. I figured I could just call, explain the mistake, and they could flip a switch and the gas would be flowing again. Oh, the naiveness of a new homeowner.
The gas company didn’t answer the phone. Yes, you read that right. No answer. Even more panic ensued. How could they not answer? How could their automated customer service line just hang up? I kept calling back and each time a robot woman said, “We apologize but we’re experiencing higher than average call volumes. Press 1 if you’d like us to call you back. Otherwise, try again later. Goodbye.”
I called back, pressed 1, and robot woman said, “To schedule a call back this evening, press 1.”
I pressed 1.
Robot woman said, “A call back this evening isn’t an option. To schedule a call back on Friday, November 15, press 1.”
FRIDAY?! It was Tuesday. “I can’t go without heat or hot water until FRIDAY,” I thought.
I kept calling.
You can image the level of panic in my house at this point. If you know my husband, you know he’s got a flair for the dramatic in a tense situation. The guy who has the air conditioning on when it’s 75 degrees was suddenly shivering in our 60 degree house. I was digging out my Uggs from the back of the closet and furiously robo-dialing the gas company. Chopping onions to make my veggie quiche all the while with my bluetooth in my ear. I wasn’t going to let my dinner get screwed up, too.
I finally got through to a customer service representative who told me it’d be two days until we got our gas back on. I didn’t believe her. The Taurus in me started coming out. I’m usually pretty good with these customer service reps. My PR job helps me be firm yet nice on the road to getting my way. I worked as a telemarketer in college so I always feel bad for people in customer service. It’s not their fault. But after making 10 calls and waiting on hold for more than 20 minutes before getting a live person on the phone, my patience was wearing very thin.
“It looks like someone else’s name is linked to your property’s account and they’ve been getting your bills,” she said. “You need to fax us your settlement sheet and photo ID. Then we can set you up with a new account and you can pay your past due balance in cash. And then we can turn your service back on.”
Fine. I was ready and willing to pay the balance and get this over with. But I knew it’d be a chilly night because it was already 7:30 and their customer service department closed at 8, and I don’t have a fax machine. Double crap.
Wednesday morning I rushed to FedEx Kinkos before work and faxed the proof of residence. The woman assured me if I faxed the documents first thing I’d be able to get my service restored in the same day, I just had to call back and let them know I had sent the fax. Easy as pie.
I knew I shouldn’t have trusted her. 12 calls. I’m not exaggerating here. 12 calls and a 20 minute wait later and I finally had someone live to tell them about my fax. She had this bitchy, “It’s not my fault you’re the idiot that didn’t realize you weren’t getting a gas bill” attitude that made me feel 2 inches tall. I knew it was going to be a shitty day. If only I could just get the gas back on, it’d be worth it. I left the house with the dog wearing his winter coat. It was 58 when I left. Poor Cody.
We went through the usual rigamarole and I held on five more times before she told me I’d have to go to one of their payment centers in person by 2 PM to pay the past due balance in cash for any chance of having my service restored that day. I felt like I was a part of some sort of extortion ring. Thank god Mike’s office is only 10 minutes away from the nearest payment center. We could comply to their crazy demands – 30+ calls later.
The paperwork was faxed. The bill was paid. Heat had to be just around the corner, right? We were thinking of ‘Plan B’ just in case. Mike would shower at the gym and I would go old school and heat up water on the stove to pour in my bath tub to take a bath. Yeah, great ideas. But I was still holding out hope that we’d get the heat back on. Time to make another round of calls to the gas company. I finally got through, and got the news I was hoping not to hear. No one would be coming out to turn on the gas until Thursday. Nooooo…
At this point I was so down trodden that I just accepted it. Plan B it was. “How many pots of hot water would I need to fill the tub,” I thought. I shuddered just thinking about it. But Mike wasn’t taking no for an answer. He took to the company’s Facebook with a lengthy complaint about his shivering pup Cody and his worry that our pipes were going to freeze if we had to go another night without heat (I told you – flair for the dramatic). I was sure a company that couldn’t get their automated answering service right would ignore a complaint on Facebook, but it worked! Within a few minutes Mike got a call saying our house was put on the list to have service restored today. HUZZAH! He did it! I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t have to make a pit stop for space heaters on the way home.
9 o’clock rolled around and there was no sign of the gas company worker. We thought we had been punked. That it was all a big joke and the gas company was going to call us and say, “SIKE, SUCKAS! NO HEAT FOR YOU!” I decided to make one last call to the gas company to check in. It was after hours so I assumed no one would answer, but someone did – and he said, “Actually, I think our guy is outside right now.” It couldn’t be! There he was in our driveway. VICTORY! Within a few minutes our gas was back on and the heat was flowing. What a sweet sound – the unusually-loud buzzing from our old heater coming from the utility closet. WE MADE IT THROUGH.
Needless to say, we’re having our 20+ year old heater serviced to make sure it will get us through the winter. In the end, I think this was a very important lesson for us both to learn. Both for our marriage and our life in general. We learned how much better life is when we work as a team, and we learned how easy it is to take something as simple as heat for granted. Mike and I live a pretty blessed life, and it’s important for us to remember that always. This year when we’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table I know we’ll both be thanking our lucky stars for this beautiful life we’ve built together. I’m thankful that we have a home to heat, and I’m thankful that I have a husband who cares for our household so well that I assumed he was taking care of the bill without being asked. Sometimes life throws us these curveballs to say, “Hey, WAKE UP and appreciate what you have!” I’m listening, life, and I hear you loud and clear.
My husband Mike and I purchased our first home in March 2013, and we’ve been making it our own ever since. The house was a short sale and it definitely needed some TLC. We’ve painted nearly every square inch of wall, ceiling, trim and door in the place in addition to replacing the carpeting upstairs and ripping out dingy carpeting in the downstairs living room in favor of more dog-friendly laminate. We also took down a glitter-tastic popcorn ceiling that spanned the entire downstairs. I’m very proud of the updates we’ve made to our abode and I plan to blog from time to time about home decor (it’s a passion of mine) so I figured I’d give you a lay of the land. The first phase of our virtual home tour covers the downstairs floor of our two-story townhouse. Here we go!
Welcome to Casa Genovese (fondly known by many of our friends as ‘The G-Spot’ thanks to my husband’s wicked sense of humor). Here’s the view as soon as you walk in the front door. The kitchen is at the front of the house (to the left) with a door to a half bath and another to our pantry/garage to the right. You can see straight through to the living room from here.
This is our kitchen. It’s the most colorful room in the house. I chose to paint it a vibrant red/coral color that plays really well with the cabinets. The bright color works in here because of the floor length windows that bathe the room in sunlight. Eventually we’d like to install a backsplash to kick it up a notch, but this kitchen has come a long way from what it looked like when we bought it. Two words: wallpaper border. Ugh! Thank goodness it’s gone.
A downstairs half bath is one of three bathrooms in our house. I chose to amp up the small space with a fun striped wall. We installed the new vanity a few months ago, and I handled the plumbing!
Just past the kitchen and bathroom is the dining room. One of our most impactful updates in the dining room was replacing the old ‘boob light’ fixture with this new chandelier. The dining set is very special to us, too. The table was Mike’s grandmom’s that was used for years and years to make big batches of gnocchi for family holidays, and the chairs were handed down to me from my Nana (who has a flair for decorating).
Our living room is a wide room that spans the entire width of the house. We replaced old carpeting with this new laminate to match the existing hardwood in the dining room and entry. Eventually, we’d like to give the windows a more custom, high-end look by installing built-in bookcases and a window seat. How awesome would that be?!
Finally, our living room opens onto a patio in our back yard. The back yard is one of the reasons we loved this townhouse because it gives our dog Cody a place run free. We haven’t done much out here other than purchasing a grill (which we use ALL the time) and a chimnea to give the patio a little ambience. We’re hoping to purchase some new patio furniture and build out a deck over the old, cracked concrete patio in the spring. The fence will be getting a fresh coat of paint, too!
I can’t wait to show you the second story in a post next week, and I’ll be sure to share any DIY projects as we continue to update our place. Are you working on any renovations right now? What DIY projects got your home looking like new?
I’m still having trouble grasping that the holiday season is upon us again. Christmas is one of Mike and my favorite holidays – and we’re even more excited to celebrate this year since it will be our first Christmas in the new house. We’ve been searching for, pinning and discussing our holiday decorating strategy for weeks now (I know, we’re nerdy like that) and it has us excited to break out the decorations while the Thanksgiving leftovers are still warm. That is, if we had any holiday decorations…
When we were in our old apartment we had one bookshelf and a coffee table to decorate. I’m not kidding. That was about all the ‘open space’ we could free up in our little one bedroom place to both decorate and later store holiday decor. We’d get a real tree each year (because we like the fragrance, and also because we could recycle it at the end of the season – no storage required). And yes, we fit a 6′ live tree in Mike’s Scion xD each year. Here’s proof. Needless to say, it’s time to invest in some beautiful, quality, grown-up holiday decorations this year. And I’m excited to shop for them!
One of the things I’m most excited to get this year is a pair of Christmas stockings for us that I’m hoping to hang from our banister (since we don’t have a mantel). I’m totally torn though on what style I like, so I decided to show you guys a round up of the my favorites. Also, it’s a crime that I’ve spent so much time searching for these stockings, so I figured I’d share the love with you in case you’re in the market for some too. As you can probably tell from my top picks, I’m feeling a rustic and vintage vibe with a hint of glam – if that makes any sense at all. We’ll see where I end up when it’s all said and done. Here goes…
What do you guys think? Let me know your favorite pick in a comment below! What holiday decorations are you most excited about? Do you have an overall holiday decor theme this year?