Project: Cozy Casa

WARNING: this is the longest post EVER....but it has lots of pictures, so I promise it is worth it!!  :)

After months of incorporating tools and dirt into my decor, I am happy to report that we have finished enough of the big projects to move all of the junk into the garage. It's design time, folks!!  No more saws in the kitchen or hammers on the living room floor.  It's over!!!  And its actually a win-win for both B and I.  He gets to set up his nice new (well...new to him) organized tool bench out in the garage and I get to have my way with the decor! 

I wanted to start out small though, so first stop on the cozy train is the dining room. 

Here is where we were back in February:

This is the beautiful built in china cabinet.  It sort of just blends in
with the background instead of standing out though....sad! 
And you can also see that there was a swinging door between this room and the kitchen. 

This is the view from the kitchen.  This wall had NO IDEA what it had coming!!
And say "hi" to my father-in-law.  He got caught in my photo shoot frenzy!

And finally, this is the view from the doorway of the room.   

It actually wasn't a bad space to work with.  We just added some fresh paint to the walls and trim and polished up the satin nickel chandelier.  But before long, we started itching to take down that wall.  Two weeks after we moved in we started demo-ing the place.  First, we ripped it down to the studs....

Unfortunately I wasn't a part of the demo process this time, but I can
tell you from the opening we did in the hallway that it is truly
cathartic!  Pure therapy, I tell you!  B and our friend Andrew actually did
all of the demo work in just two days (maybe even less)!!

And here we are with the space opened up and the new support
beam installed.  It makes the room feel SOOO much bigger! 
When I came home from work the day the contractor finished installing
this beam, my jaw literally dropped!  Best decision I made in this
renovation process..BAR NONE!

To be honest, the dining room stayed in this state for quite some time.  We really didn't want to do anything else until we finished the kitchen and the dust settled (literally).  So when that day finally came, I was ITCHING to cozy up the place.  I started with a dining room table.  We never had one in our condo for lack of space, so I shopped around to find the perfect one that we could grow into.  I ended up choosing "the one" from an unfinished wood place, Mill Stores (in NH and MA...maybe elsewhere as well) and had them stain it Red Mahogany (similar to the floors).  For some reason I don't see my table on their website any more, but they still have a lot of great options to choose from.  I also thought about doing the staining myself, but the table I chose has so many nooks and crannies as well as an attached leaf that hides down in the middle...AKA lots of opportunity for me to screw it up.  So, I let them take care of it.  It's definitely not the same as the Sumner table or the Harvest table from Pottery Barn that I have been eyeing for years.....but it was the perfect choice for our needs and our budget.  With the staining and all 6 chairs, I think it came out to $1000 (give or take a few dollars).  The extension tables usually start at $1000 at Pottery Barn and then you have to add the chairs on from there at $150-$300 each.  In the end, I'm REALLY happy with it!

Here she is:

Sorry I don't have a closer shot of the wood.  But you get the idea!

And at the time, the only rug I had was a blue floral one from Target.  I actually really love it, but it was WAY too small for this dining room set.  You would move your chair out an inch and be off the rug.  Not ideal!  So, next step was RUG SHOPPING!!  And to be honest, it was my LEAST favorite part of this process.  I quickly found out that 1) 8x10's are INSANELY expensive and 2) most places don't carry all of their rugs in store, so you have to guess at the colors online!  I was completely overwhelmed...but there were a few things that helped to narrow it down.  First of all, the oriental rug style that I do like (i.e., oushak) are upwards of $2,000-$3,000 or more.  Not in the cards, my friends.  And on top of that, it is almost impossible to find one with a blue/purple/gray color in it to complement the wall color.  I could find you 5 million ones with red or green in them, but the color I want......they don't even MAKE IT!  My color palette was very warm in our old place, so I was really drawn to the beautiful red and black and cream and taupe rugs...but it just wouldn't work in this house, and definitely not this space  So...back to square one. 

The next thing I discovered was that I was drawn to the natural textures and colors of jute and seagrass.  Normally, I would shy away from mixing warm and cool colors, but since the table and the floor are both warm red/browns, I thought I could take a risk with a jute rug and see how it played with the cooler wall tones.  What do you think??

I found this really great jute rug at Overstock.com for $200 (with a coupon and their RIDICULOUSLY cheap shipping costs...$2.99).  I absolutely love it.  And although you can't tell by looking at it, it is SO soft underfoot!!!  We have had it in the space for a few weeks now and it is working out great.  The only thing I worry about in the future is a red wine or fruit punch spill.  Most other things can be absorbed up with a paper towel (or vacuum in the case of crumbs or dirt), but any dark color liquid could really ruin it.  I did some research online before I bought this one and apparently jute does not respond well to water or any other cleaning solvents because it is a natural fiber.  The recommendations I found were to react quickly, and even put some baking soda down to absorb any remaining liquid...then just hope for the best.  That is definitely a drawback for this rug, but I feel like its worth the risk.  I will report back when I have to face one of these clean-up situations and let you know how it goes.  So far, so good though!  And, as tacky as this sounds, it is the same on both sides, so if worse came to worse, I would just flip it over!!  :)  Hehe.   I'm even thinking of getting one for my living room as well!

It looks a lot more yellowy in this picture, but as you can see
from the photo of it in my dining room, it is a lot more subdued in
real life.  It is more of a natural taupe color that you would expect
from a jute material.  Looks can be deceiving online!!

So after the paint and the table and the rug were added to the room, it was finally time to wrap up the cozy project with some curtains.  As you can see in the photo above, I had tried out some black curtain rods from IKEA.  At only $14.99 each, they were definitely the most affordable option.  I even liked the look of them, but they were not extendable, so they only went out a few inches past the window trim.  And although that normally works fine, I wanted a little more drama out of my curtains, especially since dining rooms are supposed to be a bit dramatic.  So, I ended up using those up in my bedroom (which I will share later) and going with some Levolor ones from Home Depot (although I found them a few days later for less on Amazon and returned them to Home Depot). 

They are a little more chunky than the IKEA ones and the satin nickel works much better in the space.  It complements the chandelier and actually blends better against the blue/purple/gray wall color.  Or at least I think it does.....maybe I'm just crazy at this point!!  That wouldn't surprise me.

Without further ado...here is the dining room...all cozied up!

It was really dreary out this morning, so the pictures aren't great, but you get the idea.  The curtains are from IKEA and they are amazing.  They look and feel like linen but they are just cotton.  And they are heavy enough to hold their own in the room, but light enough to filter the sunlight through a bit as well.  EXACTLY what I have been looking for, but it took me an insane amount of trips to fabric stores and curtain stores and online stores to find them.  The best part of all, though, is that they are only $19.99 per pair!  Yes, you heard read me write!!!  I was very naive going into this process...a virgin curtain buyer, you could say, and I got all excited thinking that I could buy pottery barn drapes for $30 per pair.  Ha!  I wish!  What they don't tell you (or what I probably should have known but wasn't paying attention that day in Home Ec) was that most stores sell them per panel.  Which means that I would have been spending $60/window or more plus the cost of drapery hardware....UGH!!  I can only imagine what the cashier at Bed Bath and Beyond was thinking when I was furiously returning the (1) panel that I bought for $30 since I was not going to pay $60 per window at Bed Bath and Beyond!!!  I thought it was the place to get deals....but no!  I could get the ones I wanted at Pottery Barn for that price.  I think I was a little hormonal at the time as well, so that didn't help the situation.  Long story short, though, she thought I was crazy!  "Lady, everyone knows they are sold per panel!"  WHOA!  First of all, don't call me lady, and second of all, there should be a little disclosure sign in the drapery section of the store warning people like me of these SCANDALS!!  Hrmph!  Ok...off my soapbox and back to IKEA!  So these RITVA curtains are clearly amazing, but there is one little problem.  They do not come hemmed.  And that actually is a good thing AND a bad thing.  Good in that you don't have to stick to a standard size, but bad in that it took my mom and I (she's such a trooper) 4 hours to get just these 4 panels hemmed and up on the curtain rods!!  EEEK!  IKEA provides you with some no-sew bias tape (or stitch-witchery...which I've also heard it called) to ease the pain, but it still takes a while to measure everything and iron it out!  I admit that it is a lot easier than hemming them on the sewing machine, but still, I was looking forward to buying something and throwing them up that day!  No dice.  All in all, TOTALLY worth it though!  The price is right and they are exactly what I was looking for.  I actually bought 8 more pairs of them for my living room and bedroom!  Lots of hemming going on in my house these days.....and while I'm on that topic, one more quick thing...I decided to hem them just an inch above the floor so that they wouldn't collect dust from the hardwoods!  I thought about hemming them above my baseboard heaters, but since they are oil heat and not electric, they will never get hot enough to cause a fire hazard (I googled that one too!). 

And since I love a little before and after action....here it is:

So that's it for part I of the cozy-up casa project. I apologize for the length but its a lot of info to squeeze into one post. Hopefully the living room will be a little more succinct! I will be back with that at the end of the week!


  1. It looks great! I love the wall color and I too love those curtains from Ikea. I've been eyeing them lately and wondering where I could put them in my house.

  2. That's really beautiful, Heather! You got the balance between warm and cool tones just right.

  3. Trading those curvy furniture for a sturdier dining room makes all the difference. And who wouldn't love those curtains?

  4. Hi,

    Can I ask you what finish you did your dining room table and chairs from Mill Stores? I am looking at Rosewood, Mahogany and Moorish Teak. Did you use any of those finishes? I can't tell from the pictures which finish it is but it looks great!

  5. Hi Anonymous -

    Thanks for stopping by! To answer your question, we chose Rosewood for our finish. It was the closest match to our wood floors, so we thought that they would accent each other nicely. It was a perfect blend of red and brown; just slightly lighter than the mahogany and a little more red than the moorish teak. We were actually deciding between the same three colors!! Small world.

    I would recommend asking to see some finished pieces at the store before you decide though. When we were deciding on the color, they let us see a lot of different pieces in the different stains to compare how they looked in person (and they usually have a lot of pieces in their storage area out back that are drying or waiting for pick-up/delivery). It makes a big difference from the swatches that they show you online!!!! So if you have a store nearby, I highly recommend checking out their finished work in the back!!

    Good luck!! Hope this helps!