As usual, I find myself drooling over many of Anthropolgie’s holiday-wares. There are an insane amount of gift-and-get worthy table top items. But these Trinket & Treasure candles gave me pause. A delicate tower of found objects, including thimbles and salt-n-pepper shakers, they would add whimsy to any dining experience. But the price, just shy of $400 puts them out of the realm of reality. No doubt they are hand-crafted with care, and no two pieces are alike. But couldn’t someone with a good eye craft together something similar with flea market finds? The repeated tin knobs help hold it together. What kind of glue do you think you’d need? Lets try it! Send me your suggestions and I’ll add it to my to-do list! — Angela M.
Thanks so much for all your encouraging comments from the first post in The Puppy Files (Are We Ready?). It is amazingly exciting to be getting ready for our new family member. I know this is going to cause some controversy — and disappoint some of you — so let me get it out of the way. After a great deal of deliberation and debate, we have decided to get our puppy from a breeder, not a shelter. I know a great many friends who have found awesome pets through shelters, and I have personally supported many through the years. But knowing that we were looking for a “forever” pet and that we had a toddler in the house lead us towards this decision.
First, we did a ton of research on dog breeds that are recommended for families. A few good resources I found were: Martha Stewartâ€™s Dog Breeds: Good With Children and WebMdâ€™s Choosing The Best Dog Breed For Your Family.
Secondly, we came up with a wish list of traits.
1. Smallish. Or rather, bigger than a cat but smaller than our daughter (who currently about 35 lbs).
2. Non-shedding. I have been known to sneeze a bit too much after hugging furry animal, and admittedly, we donâ€™t vacuum as much as we should.
3. Smart, social and hopefully, easy going. We have lots of little people around our house, all the time. Shy wonâ€™t work.
4. Under 6 months old. Like humans, much of a dogâ€™s personality is determined by his early development. Plus, the whole puppy experience is one we donâ€™t want to miss out on.
After some exhaustive research (including stopping nearly every dog walker we saw in our neighborhood and drilling them about their dogâ€™s origins), we decided on a Labradoodle (an Australian Labradoodle mini, to be exact). A â€œdesignerâ€ mixed breed that is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, Labradoodles were originally bred in the â€˜80s in Australia to create service dogs for people with allergies. Their ancestors were poodles and Labradors, but now they are their own sophisticated breed, complete with traits, enthusiasts and breed snobs. (You may recall that Obamas were considering a Labradoodle before deciding on Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog.) They also kinda look like Benji, the dog of my childhood dreams. (I know Benji was probably a terrier mix.. but I digress.)
Once we narrowed our sights on the type of dog we wanted, we started searching local shelters to see if similar ones ever came up. We scoured Petfinder. In our area (Southern New Jersey), puppies in shelters are rather rare â€“they go fast. Most of the dogs we saw were larger dogs (Labs, rottweilers, and pit bulls are the most common — all which could be awesome pets, but are not right for our home and small child).
Then, I thought I hit gold when I found a shelter in our area that specializes in placing homeless Labradoodles. Perhaps having a puppy didnâ€™t matter so much after all and they could help us find a dog in a need of a home? After digging around on their site I discovered a showstopper: Unfortunately, the shelter doesnâ€™t place dogs into homes with children under five years old. Itâ€™s understandable â€“ having a young tot and a dog that may have special needs is not something many families can undertake. We were back to square one. Time to start researching breeders. — Angela M.
Do you have a dog breed you have a soft spot for? I’d love to hear about it!
Previously on the Puppy Files
After Losing Our Dear Cat, We Ask: Time For a Puppy?
Coming up next: What To Look For From A Dog Breeder
A bathroom renovation has been on the agenda since the day escrow closed on our house. We’ve been doing what we can to fix our eyesore of a bath without any demolition: notably converting a traditional door into a mini french door to open up the space and swapping out a rickety towel rod for rope cleats that function as towel hooks. We’re itching to rip out the too-big toilet and cultured marble vanity — and yes, that is a sheet vinyl shower surround.
Finding the right fixtures has been a big hold up on our renovation process. We want something modern, but not TOO much so, as our house is mid-century — and the footprint needs to be small, as our bathroom is a tiny closet of sadness and despair. I know that finding a combination of size, look, and god-forbid functionality is a tall order from a bath fixture, but I’ve found all of these showers by Mira Showers. I’m absolutely swooning for the clean lines of the Mira Miniluxe ER. The exposed riser is a nod to the classic exposed plumbing often found in vintage homes, but with a decidedly more modern vibe. I’m torn between the Miniluxe and the minimalist luxury of the Mira Agile which would have the added bonus of a second hand-held shower head. Not only are both these choices visually attractive, but the showers from Mira Showers have a patented Magni-flo technology which will ensure a full deluge even at low pressure. And this lazy housekeeper won’t have to worry about limescale either, since the nozzles are designed to just rub clean.
We’ve already purchased the sink — after I wrote about it here way back in 2009. We just can’t pull the trigger on the darn faucet. I want a sturdy fixture that is 100% brass — but those can cost a hefty sum. I actually found a few options I like here and here — at Overstock, of all places. As for the toilet, after hours of measuring and internet review reading, I think we’re going with the Ariel Platinum Anna toilet, which has the smallest dimensions I’ve found. And in our lil’ loo, every inch matters.
What would you do with this little bathroom? We’re thinking white walls and subway tile, dark grout, and glossy black or dark gray floors. Clean, classic with a touch of modern — our goal is to open the space up and add some luxury to our modest bath!
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The moment everyone’s been waiting for is here! The reveal of the final rooms in the Re-Energized by Design Competition is live, in a super-sized two parter. This time, the two remaining teams have TWICE the budget, a room full of LED lighting from GE Lighting, and a full range of gorgeous and energy efficient appliances from Frigidaire to pimp their room. We are REALLY going to see some major transformations happening here.
The GE LED lighting is available in many different “temperatures” of color, something that can dramatically affect in how things look in your kitchen. I experienced this first hand after I painted my own kitchen recently. I loved the paint color in daylight, but at night, the color looked awful. I switched out to a softer LED bulb (3000K) and it made ALL THE DIFFERENCE. And I won’t be needing to change the bulb (or the wall color, thankfully) for 25 years!
I really wish our team, the Bedford family, had made it to this final round. They could have really benefitted from those new Frigidare Gallery appliances — the ultra efficient induction range alone is a huge safety boost for families with young children (less burning risk). There’s no need to replace existing cookware, either — if a magnet sticks to the pan, it will work with induction. And a convection oven is a must-have for those of us who love to bake.
The Sayers, of course, did not disappoint in this challenge by using some unconventional materials to maximize their budget — and because they are obviously just cool like that. I loved their use of the salvaged steel chalkboard as a backsplash; and that mirror in the kitchen (though I wouldn’t want to be the one cleaning it) reminds me of my days as a culinary instructor, where we taught with a huge mirror over the butcher block. All this and surprisingly below budget!
The Reilly family has consistently been more traditional in their design choices, though I’ll admit I really liked what they did in the kitchen. Nothing wrong with the combination of white subway tile and dark grout, I always say. And the paint treatment on the cabinets? Spot On. No matter what team wins the grand prize, both these families have beautiful new kitchens to enjoy for years and years to come.
What do you think of the final room? Is it the Sayers family’s funky loft or the Reilly’s clean classic kitchen that should earn the $5000 grand prize? Watch and see who takes home the giant check below!
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Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
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It’s that time again — time for the next challenge in the Re-Energized by Design competition! This week, the remaining four teams are making over the living room. The Bedford’s room is dramatic, with vaulted ceilings and a wall of windows (with some broken panes). I found the space overwhelmed by the arc lamp and the red brick fireplace, but not in a good way. Also — there was not a lot of lighting options. Reading was impossible on the couch unless it was daytime, and entertaining? Dim lights might be fine for a nightclub, but for a family-friendly party? Not so much. The stairs were just exposed plywood splattered with paint. Not much on the walls in regards to art, either. Their furniture was good though — a nice neutral modern sectional, and an heirloom mid-century lounge chair and dresser.
Rather than using bold bright colors on the walls, we went dark — Dark gray on that red brick fireplace. Instead of painting everything one color, we only painted two walls in the dark gray; and used a lighter gray on an accent wall and staircase, leaving the rest of the room white, allowing the space to feel more intimate and cozy without overwhelming the space with such a dark color. And next to the fireplace, Slade put in some nice open shelving painted to blend into the wall, styled with art and objects from around the house. We also broke up their sectional and reconfigured it, and flipped over their old rug for a more industrial look. Kristen also repainted their coffee table glossy black.
Kristen made some colorful decoupage art; and I (along with my uber-talented seamstress pal Suzanne) got to work on some accent pillows, a floor pouf, and the reupholstering of the mid-century lounger with a colorful new fabric. I thought the chair turned out gorgeous, going from something you barely noticed to something that can anchor a space on its own. If you know me, you know I had to work in some of my signature vintage orange velvet, too. But I’m honestly proudest of that pouf: my first sewing project in 4 years, made entirely by myself, with NO PATTERN. The boys instantly gravitated toward it. Liam declaring it “his dice”, proceeded to toss it around the room and jump all over it.
In the energy improvement category, the Bedfords did a lot as well to improve their usage. Slade installed (from scratch) a LED track lighting system that we hid behind the beam, so we could add light around the room on the bookcases, on the couch, and on the new art. We also swapped out LED bulbs for incandescent in the other lamps around the room, adding significantly more light to the space while reducing the wattage in half. Slade caulked all the windows and beams, helping to reduce heat loss. They also put their stereo and charging docks on a smart powerstrip, so they can reduce that energy loss when not in use. And if that wasn’t enough, they reduced their thermostat 3 degrees to produce a significant savings in energy usage.
Alas, it wasn’t enough for the judges, sadly. I loved our room — basically, I think it all came down to a matter of points. I wish we had more time on this room, we could have done so much more. My project checklist had about 10 more to-do’s left unchecked, believe it or not. Our fatal error was when our plans to make fabric roman shades for the windows became impossible; rather than the shade choice made, I wish we could have thrown up some cute no-sew curtains on tension rods. I think that could have made enough of a difference to get us into the next round. Twenty-twenty hindsight, I guess. Honestly, I’m proud we made it this far; a lot of which I should credit to the valiant efforts of Kristen and Slade. Our rooms were up against some pretty stiff competition from professional architects and designers, so our rag-tag team of DIY’ers made a good show!
Stick around for next week’s post, where
I bitterly tear apart the remaining contestant’s rooms with derisive judgements we see how the competition proceeds with the laundry room challenge! Who will get the chop next?
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The second elimination challenge in the Re-Energized by Design competition is here! This time, each team had the option to makeover either the garage or an office. My team, The Bedfords, decided to makeover an office.
This space serves as a multi-purpose room for the Bedfords: an office for Slade, a guest room, and a napping space for the youngest member of the family, Theo. I was overwhelmed by the dark window coverings, multiple desks, and overall cluttered feel of the room. Something struck me immediately though — the giant, vintage pull-down school map of the United States. SO COOL! I decided to let that be the focal point of the space, and pulled all of the room’s inspiration from the color palate and theme. The color, Overjoy by Sherwin Williams, is a nice, warm golden yellow. It’s a perfect counterpoint to grey Seattle skies, and also complements the yellow and golden hues in the map without looking to pastel. This is a man’s office after all, so I wanted an air of distinguished masculinity to permeate the room. That being said, Slade wasn’t too convinced of my bold color choice at first.
Not having tons of money ($500), we scrapped plans for new furniture and instead focused on organizing and styling the space. We got rid of one of the two heavy dark wood desks, immediately making the room feel more open. I took the yellow-brass drawer pulls from the desk and antiqued them, making it look more expensive and more like an actual antique than the 1990′s repro it actually is. We purchased some dark wood shelving, a new set of Nate Berkus curtains from Target, and some nice dark wood blinds to help block out the light when little Theo is taking a siesta. Bonus — those window treatments will help reduce energy costs by blocking out the brutal summer sun through those west facing windows.
Instead of buying a brand new light fixture, we found a vintage one at our local buliding salvage for a song. We paired it with a dimmer switch to allow maximum flexibility for the multi-functioning room. The brassy 70′s feel of the fixture helped tie some of the pre-existing furniture into the new design. In fact, our motto for this room became “embrace the brass” — Kristen scored a few vintage hand-me-down brass lamps that really added some warmth and more focused light around the room. We outfitted everything with new GE LED bulbs, modernizing the vintage fixtures and adding an abundance of more functional light while simultaneously reducing the overall wattage.
Once again, the room was styled mostly with items from the Bedford’s home: an emerald green ceramic stool from the backyard added a touch of the orient, a vintage beer barrel from the basement served as a unique side table, and memorabilia from previous travels became art. My favorite little touch? Those three inexpensive matching clocks echoing the travel vibe. So fun.
I couldn’t be more pleased with how this room turned out. Slade, despite his reservations at first, loves it as well. And most importantly, the judges loved it! They gave me high praise for my color selection this week. Let’s see if this momentum keeps up — the living room challenge is next week!
Occasionally I am lucky enough to spend the day working from home. I hole up in an upstairs office and power through a ton of things on my to-do list that I can’t do in the “regular” office due to meetings, interruptions and such. But how much more fun would working from home be if we had an Archipod in our back yard! Like a futuristic cottage, these round stand-alone huts are both cozy and space age. The dome shape allows natural light to flood in, making the tiny interior seem bigger than it is. Apparently it arrives in parts that be carried through your house into the back garden — so even city dwellers with row-houses could indulge. Circular desk included! Click here for more info and to see plans. — Angela M.
This is the first in a series of personal posts chronicling the arrival of a new dog in our home. After doing some research on living with pets and kids, I realized there wasn’t a ton of useful, honest information out there. I hope you’ll enjoy them and find them useful.
Farfalle was an exceptional cat. Everyone who met him agreed. Not one of those cats that hid from you, but rather, he was always close by â€“ curled in laps, perched on shoulders, happily not squirming in our young daughterâ€™s arms. Friends always remarked that his warm nature was more dog than cat like.
He died quite unexpectedly a few months ago from feline leukemia. It was a heartbreakingly sad process to go through. He was under a year old and was born with the illness, unbeknownst to us when we got him. Losing him left a big vacancy in our home.
Immediately we realized that our family was not complete without a pet. Shortly thereafter, the puppy pangs started. After being a cat owner for nearly 20 years (Prior to Farfalle, there was another great feline soul in my life, who lived to the ripe old age 17), I was suddenly wondering: Is it time for a dog? During my single, apartment-dwelling urban years, a cat was the natural companion. Now that Iâ€™m part of a suburban-living family unit, it seems time to make the transition from feline companion to dog parent.
Admittedly, itâ€™s been many, many years since either my husband or I lived with a dog, so this is not a decision weâ€™ve taken lightly. True, we grew up with dogs, but pet ownership has changed a lot in the past 20 years. Gone are the days when you train your puppy by covering your floor with newspaper or simply put the dog in the back yard to do his â€œbusiness.â€ Now you are encouraged to crate train your puppy, socialize him with doggy playdates, and of course take him for long walks in rain or shine. We are ready to commit to all that, and more. Here are few of the things that helped us decided we were ready for a puppy.
1. We live in a house with a fenced in yard.
2. One of us has a flexible schedule, so the puppy wouldnâ€™t be alone for long hours during the day.
3. Our daughter loves animals and we want to raise her to be respectful and kind to them.
4. We are active people. We like being outside, taking road trips and exploring nature. A dog will, too!
5. Weâ€™re responsible â€“ emotionally and financially â€“ and able to commit to caring for another living creature for the rest of its (hopefully long) life.
Once we decided that a dog was in our future, the next step was to do some research on dog breeds to help us get a dog whose temperament would match ours.
– Angela M.
Coming up next in The Puppy Files: Finding The Perfect Breed For Our Family
We haven’t even consumed all of our Thanksgiving leftovers, and I’m already feeling like we’re behind in our holiday decorating. I think the first order of business is to find a wreath for our front door (which happens to be pale blue, fyi). I’m torn between buying a fresh one — there are a ton at Home Depot — or going a more crafty route. Someday, I’ll make my own wreath — I’ve seen a ton of great how-tos online — but this year I’m short on time. Etsy is calling my name.
Here are some that have caught my eye.
Maine wreath, $60. Covered in moss with a tiny moose. Reminds me of our summer vacation.
This is the one our nearly-4-year old wants. Quelle surprise. It’s made of peppermint sticks and lollipops. $70
Modern Felt Mistletoe, $80, is elegant.
Fresh Eucalyptus and noble, would look great on door. Would it smell nice? For $90, I’d hope so.
Do you have a wreath on your door? Any advice when buying a fresh one? Or hanging a crafty number? — Angela M.