Monday, September 15, 2014

Clifford the big red piano

My inlaws' furniture arrived last week.  The movers dropped off this on their way:

This is the view from the front door.

Where to put it?

I put it behind the sofa in the living room for a bit, but it was too big.  I should have taken a picture, but I was distressed about the hole I gouged in the new floors, so I forgot.

I had big plans to rearrange the bookshelves in the family room to make room for it, but the piano is heavy (see: gouged hole in floor), and it would be a lot of work to get the piano up one step and around the narrow corner through the kitchen and into the family room so.... I have a feeling that the day before I list this house I will take down the kid tv and push the piano around the corner.

For now it is just going to live in the foyer area.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Its been a big year of changes for my family.  Everyone is moving.  Earlier this year my sister moved to a new house (although it was only a few houses down from the old one).  My father accepted a resident professorship at Johns Hopkins in Nanjing for a two year contract, so my parents are moving to China next week (!!).

When I was a kid, we moved frequently, until I was in 7th grade and my parents bought the house they have lived in for the past 28 years.  My mother has said over the years that my father gets "one last move." I think she probably was imagining downsizing to a nice 55+ retirement community at the shore, not moving 8,000 miles overseas.

My inlaws sold their house in New Jersey and moved to California.  They are currently living with us until the closing on their new house near here in a few weeks.  It will be lovely to have family out here permanently; we have made a few friends but our network is still small.  I'm looking forward to Sunday dinners with the grandparents like we used to have when we lived upstairs from them.

One of my kids started at a new school.  We have high hopes for it, but it is thirty miles from our house.  (Before you start saying "why don't you just go to your local elementary school or a private school closer to your house???" lets assume that if I am willing to drive my kid to a school thirty miles from my house there is probably a good reason, mkay? And if you are thinking "why didn't you think of this before you bought a far away house 18 months ago?" then lets assume that we had plans that didn't work out.)

It is a good school, but it is far away.  Actually, scratch that.  It isn't THAT far, and the other school our children go to isn't THAT far, but the two schools are in opposite directions, and the distance between the two is actually what is far, and I spend all my time driving between the two and then back to our house.  We went from having a long commute (1.5 hours) to an even longer commute (2 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon).  The kids and I spend all our time (and gas and toll money) in the car.

We might move too.

You knew that was coming, right?  People who move ten times in ten years can't just buy a house and settle down.  They become the sort of people who move eleven times in twelve years. (Better than twelve times in twelve years, I guess.) More decorating!

If we do move it won't be till next summer, so stay tuned.

***Extremely recent development:  I did not even attempt to sign up for a carpool, even though a huge number of the students at the new school are in a carpool, because I had really specific needs---of the five seats in my car, my backseat is full of my three young children so I would only have room for ONE carpool kid who is older and could ride in the front seat; I have to drive north to Town A to drop off two kids before I can head east to the new school in Town B to drop off other kid, so I would only want to carpool with someone in Town A, not my hometown (or the carpool kid would be suffering through our extremely long commute), and so forth.

Some woman got our number out of the school address book and called me out of the blue, noting that we lived close together and she was attempting to start a carpool with a few other families.  I explained my issues and that while I wish I could carpool, it just probably wouldn't work for me.  We chatted a bit and hung up.  Apparently she talked to someone else, because the next day, I got an email from another parent who EXACTLY FIT ALL MY CARPOOL NEEDS.  Weird, eh?  Starting Wednesday I will be driving north to Town A in the morning, dropping off all three kids, and then going home.  SA-WEET!  Sadly, I will still be having the sucky three hour round trip in the afternoons, but hey, I'll take driving four hours in a day over driving five hours in a day.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

white white white all the white

I'm kind of obsessed with all white lately.  White walls, white furniture, colorful art and accessories. I would love a white sofa but feel that I would have to wash the slipcover once a day so perhaps this is not the season of my life to have white upholstered furniture but if you look at the rest of my house nearly all the hard furniture is white.

I'm thinking of painting my bedroom allllllllll white....

Thursday, September 4, 2014

most favorite spot / least favorite spot

From a functional standpoint, I have a favorite room in the house. One of the top three reasons I bought this house was because of this teeny space under the stairs:

That is our walk-in pantry.  It is a tiny, 34 by 65 inch space tucked in under the stairwell (hence the slanted ceiling).  It is SO FUNCTIONAL.  It holds all of our food, and all of our kitchen gadgets, like the coffee pot, kitchen aid, crockpots, bread machine, etc.  Its not really wide enough to take pictures in, but it is quite organized, with all the like items with like items.  It is not decorated at all, but after years of houses where food was stored in free standing cabinets in the basement or living room, it makes me very happy.


My least favorite spot in this house is the step-down in the foyer.  It is the biggest waste of space due to poor design.

If this floor were level throughout, the space could easily accommodate a round skirted table, like this:

Instead, because of the step-down, there is about a 10 x 10 space that is not usable as anything other than a step.  10 x 10--that is practically an entire ROOM of wasted space because of poor design.

We looked into raising the floor when we put in the laminate floors, but it was beyond our budget.  We could have filled the space with concrete, but then the fireplace box needed to be raised, and then the windows weren't to code, and it became a giant money-sucking pit, so we just left it as is.

What's the favorite/least favorite spot in your house?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

blue and white dining chairs, my grandmother's paintings in the dining room

When we moved in a year ago, I had big plans to paint a bunch of furniture, including the wood dining chairs.

That never happened.

This weekend, I decided that I would tackle one painting project. Preferably a project where I already had all the supplies on hand. The two shield back chairs seemed like the easiest way to get started.

I'm not going to show any closeups, because I did not sand these chairs, or make even the smallest effort to prep the chairs for painting. I just sprayed them with two coats of primer and two coats of white paint, and reupholstered the seats in a blue pleather that I picked up a year ago for this project.

I like the lighter, more colorful touch the white and blue adds.

I also added some art.  I don't think that I ever posted about it, but I bought three 16x20 frames and hung them over the white cabinets.  With the packaging picture still in them. No actual art. That hung there for about three or four months.

When I was home for my grandmother's funeral, my aunt gave me a color copy of two of my grandmother's watercolor paintings.

I will get them professionally matted when I get another of Grandma's paintings for the third frame.  I put one of her smaller paintings in the frame as a placeholder.

I love the smaller painting, actually, especially since it has her commentary on it.  "Umbrella good, head screwed on wrong."

Last but not least, I took down the curtains over the sliding doors in the dining room and the eat in area.

The curtains looked sloppy and never really worked.  Not sure what (if anything) will be replacing them. Perhaps a pelmet?  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kitchen plans

I am getting quotes for getting new counters in the kitchen, since our tile counters are covered in gross latex paint. We will also be painting the cabinets.

One countertop possibility is this black and white flecked granite:

The other possibility is a white flecked caesarstone, which looks much nicer than this picture implies:

I would either refresh the white paint on the cabinets, or I would paint them a light neutral, like the picture below:
I'd like to do a simple subway tile for the backsplash.  Today I had a contractor out to give us a quote on the counter, and he tried very hard to get me to tile the backsplash in a fancy glass tile, like this:

I said, "that's lovely, but I'd rather do a subway tile."  And he said "well, I could do a subway tile, but wouldn't you rather do something....nice?"  

Clearly he doesn't read design blogs like I do.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

off center windows: hide them or display them?

When our house was built it was originally five bedrooms, with the fifth bedroom on the main floor, where our family room is.  At some point many years ago, someone tore down the wall that separated the eat-in area from the bedroom.

In the picture below the wall would have been between the steer and the curtains.

 This gives us a nice open layout, but it also makes the window placement....a little off.

The window placement makes sense if you know that the only window in the entire 12x26 foot space was originally centered in the former bedroom.  If you don't know that, you think, yikes, that window is SO OFFCENTER.  It is even more offcenter when seen in conjunction with the tv directly across from it.

In order to bring some balance to this space, I hung the curtains very high and verrrrry wide.  One one side the rod is about six inches from the window.  As you can see in the below picture, on the other side the rod is hung about three feet from the window.

Lately I have been debating doing away with the curtains completely.  The sofa always ends up pushed up against the wall, trapping the curtains behind it, and it just looks a mess, no matter how often I fluff or pull the sofa out.

If I take out the curtains, that puts the off-center window noticeably off-center behind the sofa.  (I have tried rearranging the room but the executive power exercised a veto.  Layout with sofa in front of the window staring at the tv is to remain as is.) I can put a nice pelmet or roman shade in the window, but there is no getting around the off-center problem.

Could you live with an off center window without trying to hide it?  Would you walk into someone else's house and see that and think "oh dear, you gotta fix that"?