IKEA finds

As I mentioned in my last post, I was planning on taking a little trip to IKEA last week.  Well, I finally made it there and found some really great things.  Mostly stuff for the nursery, but also a little something for the recently painted guest bedroom (which I can't wait to show you)!!  In the course of setting up the nursery, we have used the guest bedroom as our landing pad for everything that doesn't have a "place" yet in the nursery.  The car seat, high chair, pack & play, etc., etc. are all just hanging out on the floor in there, so it doesn't look all pretty and blog-worthy just yet.  Maybe once we weed through the piles and piles of presents from the shower this past weekend (which was FABULOUS by the way - thanks Mom, Chris and Mom-in-law and the rest of my friends and family for their generosity.....you guys are TOO MUCH!), we will get more organized with all the baby stuff.  My goal is to have the guest bedroom all set up and ready to go by next week so that we can just focus on the nursery from here on out.  So I will keep you updated on that progress as soon as I get to it!!

But back to IKEA.

After years of shopping here, I have obtained a few rules that keep me sane and relatively focused while I'm in there; (1) do NOT walk through the showroom unless I am looking for furniture (if I even start going through it, I get sucked in by all of the cute room set-ups and get distracted from my ultimate shopping goal), (2) only go there on weeknights, otherwise you will be forever lost in a sea of people and carriages trying to navigate their way through the two-story warehouse maze, and (3) have a list (if I go in there un-armed, I always end up getting things that I don't really need (which is fun sometimes, but costly as well)). 

So, based on my rules, I went in last Thursday night with my list:

(1) silver towel rods for the nursery book slings
(2) two frames for DIY nursery artwork
(3) curtains for the guest bedroom

I stuck to my list pretty well, but I also found these as I was heading towards the checkout line:

Aren't they the cutest little trash bins?  Or even toy bins?  I picked up 1 white, 1 yellow and 1 navy one (since those are the nursery colors).  I will probably only keep 1 or 2 in the nursery, but I couldn't decide which color looked best at the time.  After bringing them home, I'm leaning towards the white and the navy.  The yellow is just a little too bright for me....and if we ever decide to change the accent color in the room, I would like this little trash can to be versatile.  They were $14.99 each (check them out here - Knodd Bin w/ Lid), so I also don't want to spend $45 on little bins until I know that I will use them for something in the room.  I can definitely see myself using one of them next to the changing table/dresser as a diaper pail (since we didn't register for the diaper genie or anything like that), but I'm not sure what I would use the 2nd one for...or where we would put it.  The room is a decent size, but there definitely isn't a lot of unused space left over.  I will have to see them in the room (and maybe post some pictures for your opinion) so that I can decide what to keep and what to return.  And if you can think of a use for the second one, I'm all ears!!

As far as the rest of the shopping trip goes, these guys ended up in my car as well:

Grundtal Towel Rail - $14.99 (I bought two of them,
but I might only do one book sling considering the space issue in the room....TBD)

Ribba Frames - $9.99 (I bought two of these as well for some
fun DIY artwork in the nursery....more on that later) 

Ritva Curtains - $29.99 (I bought two of these too - man, it's like Noah's Ark around here....
for the guest  bedroom).  I have the white ones in most of my other rooms,
but I went with beige this time around since it goes better with the
color scheme in the room (can't wait to show you)!!

So that's it for my shopping adventure.  I managed to make it out of there unharmed and unscathed, but since I have a few returns to make (and potentially more purchases....*ahem* meatballs), I will definitely be back there soon, so I'll update you with that trip as well.  Have any of you guys been to IKEA lately?  Did you find WAAAY to many cute things to walk away from?  Any fun DIY ideas in store for your purchases?  I would love to hear all about it.  And of course, I will be back with updates for you on the guest bedroom, the nursery progress (including my own DIY projects), and some shower details. 


Pregnancy: 32 weeks

I am about half-way through my 32nd week of pregnancy and I'm feeling pretty good.  Definitely more tired than usual, but otherwise no complaints.  The only big change since my last update at 30 weeks is that I have started to experience the "nesting" instinct.  BADLY!  I've heard a few friends mention it in the past, but I never fully understood it until I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the floors on Sunday night because nothing was "clean enough".  It was a completely irrational feeling.  I literally felt that if I didn't organize and clean and move just about everything in my house that I was not fulfilling my duties prior to his birth.  Crazy, right?  But from what I've read in the baby books, this is totally normal behavior.  Regardless, I still felt a little crazy while it was happening (and even more so now that I'm confessing it to all of you).  Have any of you ever done this before?  I would love to hear about it if you have.  Maybe I will feel a little less strange knowing that other people out there were rearranging their tupperware collection to "prepare" for the baby's arrival (since he or she cares AT ALL about how organized your cupboards are). 

At least I know that one person out there is going through the same thing.  Jen over at Home In the Country (which is a fabulous blog by the way) is a few weeks ahead of me and just posted the other day about her crazy tendencies in the final weeks of her pregnancy.  If you haven't checked out her blog before, I highly suggest it.  She is always doing or creating something fun and interesting.  My most recent fave on her blog was this post about how to make book slings for the nursery.  I am definitely going to follow this tutorial in the coming weeks for our own nursery.  In fact, I might even be making an IKEA trip tonight to check out the metal towel rods that she used.  It just so happens that IKEA is right next to Costco and Michaels (dangerous, I know), so I can't help but take a quick peek whenever I'm stocking up on paper towels and toilet paper right next door.  Although, let's be honest, IKEA is not a quick-browse kind of place.  It is like the bermuda triangle for shoppers.  I wouldn't be surprised if some people use their GPS INSIDE the store!!  If you watch people exiting the building at the end of their shopping journey, they are totally discheveled and their eyes are glassed over.  It is like people get sucked into this time warp and they're not sure how long they've been in there, or in some cases, how to even get out!  I'll update you on my finds tomorrow though (if I end up doing more than window shopping tonight and make it out of there unscathed)!  Wish me luck!

But enough rambling.  I really just wanted to give you a quick update on how the pregnancy is going so far.  Less than 8 weeks left until d-day!!  YAY!  We have my shower coming up this weekend (YAY to that too!!!  Can't wait to see everyone!!) and then a 3D/4D ultrasound scheduled for July 8th (with a few random doc appointments scattered around in there too).  Has anyone done the 3D one before?  My brother and sister-in-law did for their twins and the pictures are AMAZING!  It's a little bit weird to see that kind of detail of your unborn child, but since we don't have another ultrasound scheduled (and may not get another one unless there is a complication in the next few weeks), I wanted to make sure we had a few more glamour shots of the little guy before he arrives.  Unfortunately its not covered by insurance, but I attended a baby expo a few weeks back that offered a 10% discount on the package....so, it's not terribly expensive.  And, to have some cute pics (and even a DVD) of him hanging out in the womb is pretty priceless to me at this point. 

In the meantime, and if you need me, I'll be color-coding my spice rack.....


Nursery Update: Furniture

It is with GREAT pleasure that I introduce to you our new nursery furniture.....


This is the piece that started it all.  One day when I was browsing scouring craigslist for a dresser that I could refinish myself (I was a little more ambitious back then), I came across an ad stating that the seller would paint-to-suit any dresser to your liking.  There was a picture of the dresser below included and I was instantly smitten.  I loved the scalloped bottom and the slight curve of the legs.  It had just the right amount of character and personality.....AND it was the perfect height and width for our space (and could even double as a "changing table" when necessary).  Needless to say, I was drooling on my keyboard.  I had to have it.  I emailed her immediately and she got right back to me.  It was $200 for everything (the piece itself as well as the work to refinish it....sanding, priming, painting and poly-ing....and even distressing if you wished).  I thought it was a great deal so I said, "I'll take it!" 

We picked out a color together based on the Pottery Barn glider that I already purchased on craigslist a while back (read more about that here).  After much deliberation, we ultimately decided on Pure White by Sherwin Williams.  It is white with a little yellow in it, which looks the most like pottery barn furniture.  She had it color-matched to Benjamin Moore's Natura line.  She will use any type of paint that you want, though, I just requested that she use a no-VOC option since it was going to be on nursery furniture.  I'm sure people use regular paint all the time in nurseries, but I wanted to be extra careful just in case.  She also used, at my request, SafeCoat Acrylaq (a low-VOC non-toxic alternative to polyurethane) as the top coat on the furniture so that if he gets hungry and starts to chew on the furniture (I know it sounds crazy, but I've definitely heard of kids chewing on the wood of their crib), that it would at least be non-toxic.

Enough of my rambling though, here is the transformation:

Not only did she do an AMAZING job refinishing the piece (since you probably don't notice in the before picture, but it had a lot of scratches and dings and wear and tear on the top), but her husband also replaced the bottom of all the drawers so they are sturdy and changed out the old knobs for new silver ones.  I am BEYOND thrilled with her work.  

My initial plan was to have her refinish the dresser and then I would tackle the crib and maybe even a bookcase in my "spare time."  Haha.  After thinking about it more, though, I realized that it probably wouldn't be feasible for me to do all the work myself, nor would it really be safe to use chemical strippers and things like that.  So I went out on a limb and asked her if she had ever done a crib before.  She said she hadn't, but that she would be willing to take it on....so I dropped that off too and had her work her magic.    

So without further ado, here's a little before and after action.

The before picture is not the same exact crib (the Legacy convertible crib models changed in the last 5 years since my brother and sister-in-law bought them for their twins), but its the same color and a similar style so you get the idea of the finish.  And as you can see, it was already an absolutely GORGEOUS piece of furniture when they generously gave it to us a few months ago.  We just thought that it would be easier to have all the furniture finished the same way rather than try to match the wood from a few different pieces as we were shopping around.  I am not a huge fan of everything being too matchy-matchy in my house (since I haven't done that in any other rooms) but for some reason I thought it would be nice to have a unified color (in this case, white) to complement the blue walls.  If you are reading this, John and Chris, thank you SOOOOOOO much again for giving us this crib. We are so lucky!!

And she did a phenomenal job on it too.  I can only imagine how painstaking it was to go over each and every spindle/rung with coat after coat of primer, paint and then poly.  OH MY!!  I'm just glad it wasn't me.  Haha.  She actually said to us when we picked it up that she would never do another crib again, but that she was happy to have been able to do it for us.  And for only $200, I think we ended up with a pretty amazing deal!
So, then all we need at this point was the bookcase.

During one of our many conversations, I mentioned to her that I was looking for a bookcase to refinish for the room as well.  I didn't think anything of it again until I got an email from her the next day saying that she found one on craigslist that was solid wood (which, believe it or not, is really rare for bookcases these days....unless you want to pay a fortune).  I took a look at the photo and checked the dimensions in our room and said "yes, please!"  And just like a fairy godmother, she went out to pick it up and brought it back to her shop for refinishing!  She even suggested/offered to paint the back of the bookcase a different color so that it would add some dimension to the piece.  GENIOUS!!  I had thought about maybe wallpaper or some fun contact paper for it in the future, but I probably wouldn't have gotten around to it for a while....so this was perfect.  I sent her the color (Wildflower Honey by Behr) that I wanted and she went to town.   

Here is the before and after:

And for only $200 (including finding it on craigslist, going out to get it and all the work she did to refinish it), it was also an amazing deal!  If you ever need a piece of furniture or would like to have an existing piece refinished and you are in the MA/NH area, you should absolutely contact her.  Here is her information:

Owner: Lynn Kennedy
Email: jlkennedy6[at]verizon[dot]net

I would highly recommend her to ANYONE!  And not just because she does amazing work, she is also a wonderful person to work with.  She helped me with my color choices along the way and made some great suggestions, plus she is just a sweetheart.  If I ever need any other work commissioned in the future, I will absolutely go to her!

Overall, I am totally in love with the furniture and really happy with the way the nursery is turning out.  Obviously I am biased because it is my son's nursery furniture, but it came out exactly as I had dreamed it would.  And as a little reminder, here are some of the inspiration photos that I had in mind when I was deciding on colors for the walls and furniture a few months back.  

And here is the Serena and Lily fabric that I'm thinking about using for the crib skirt.  It isn't cheap, at $40/yd, but hopefully I won't need more than 2 yards total for the project.  I had also originally planned to include a chambray-striped bumper (similar to the striped fabric in the Serena and Lily Graham collection below) but after trying it in the crib, we realized that it didn't fit very well.  All of the ties wouldn't fit around the rails (since the four corners are quite chunky), so it didn't fit snugly against all sides.  At the end of the day, I would feel really uncomfortable having the extra fabric all bunched up in his crib.  A few people have already warned us about the dangers of bumpers (although I have done further research on the subject and felt comfortable using one anyway), but I'd rather not compound an already potentially dangerous situation by putting something into the crib that doesn't fit properly.  So, no crib bumper for us....at least for now.   

But we are still planning to do a yellow crib sheet and the mosaic print crib skirt (from the fabric collection above).  I just need to bite the bullet and order the fabric.  I think my hesitation has been that the price is so high that I've been hoping to stumble across a similar fabric at a local store or somewhere else online.  I found these two options from Spoonflower.com,  Blue Diamonds and Bohemian Mod.  I like them both, but they just aren't the same as the Serena and Lily one.  Ugh....I don't know what to do.  What do you think?  Should I suck it up and pay the $80 for the fabric I want, or continue searching for an OK alternative?
I finally feel like the nursery is starting to come together.  We have a lot of accesorizing left to do and some fun projects up our sleeves (think DIY artwork, book slings and fabric bunting), but at least the shell is in place.  I'm really happy with the way it is headed!

What are your thoughts?  Should I go for the expensive fabric or no?  Have you done any projects where you tried to cut corners and wish you hadn't?  Or do you have any cheap alternative options to share? 

Next up: rug search.  Stay tuned for that!

And a very happy father's day to all of you dads out there (even though I'm pretty sure I have a female-dominated audience..haha)!  Have a great weekend everyone.   


Washer and Dryer Replacement

My original thought was to title the post "So fresh and so clean clean..." but I wasn't sure if anyone would get the reference.....so I went the boring route.  For any of you that know what I'm talking about though, good song, right??  Haha.  I actually can't get the song out of my head as I'm typing this.  Does it make you want to get up and dance?  No?  Maybe it's just me.....

But, I digress, back to the point.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we have been on the hunt for a new washer and dryer ever since our 1960's dryer went caput.  Wa waaa.  It was definitely not something we had budgeted for, but we figured that it wouldn't be very efficient to hang dry all of our clothes when the new baby comes.  As much as I enjoy the simpler things in life, I doubt I'm going to have that much time to spare come August.  So the hunt began.....

We asked around for suggestions and recommendations from friends and family, then we scoured the good ol' internet for consumer reports and reviews.  After much deliberation, and a few visits to our local big-box stores (it's so much better to see an item in person before making a big purchase), we made a decision. 

The LG Electronics 3.5 cu ft. Large Capacity Front-Load Washer and LG Electronics 7.1 cu. ft. Large Capacity Electric Dryer from Home Depot.  They were running (and I believe they still are) a 10% off promotion for all Energy Star Appliances, so they ended up being $629.10 each with free shipping.  Definitely not cheap by any means, but they are extremely energy efficient and will save us on both water and electric bills over time.  Plus, we were able to get free shipping and free haul away of the broken dryer!!  YAY!  We didn't have them take away our existing washer though, since it was only about a year old when we moved in last year and still in perfect working condition.  I actually put it on Craigslist yesterday afternoon and had someone come and pick it up by 6 pm for $200.  Don't you love Craigslist?  Aside from worrying a little that a crazy person is going to show up on your doorstep, it is the best thing since sliced bread.  I have had awesome luck with it in the last few months, so I can't say enough good things about it!  I probably could have listed the washer for more money, but since I was requiring pick-up and haul away of it, I thought that it sounded more reasonable at $200. 

So, all in all, we spent $1058.20 (minus the money we received for our old washer) for a new set.  Even with the savings, it is still a hard number to swallow....especially when you aren't expecting it, but I feel good about the purchase and we are absolutely LOVING the new appliances so far.  The washer detects the size of the load and factors that into the cycle time.  There are a lot of buttons, but for the most part, I keep it on the same "regular/cotton" cycle and let it do its thing.  An average size load has taken anywhere from 44 - 50 minutes.  At first, I thought that it was a bit long for a wash cycle, but the trade off is that it spins for a few extra minutes and the clothes come out super dry, which turns into a shorter amount of time spent in the dryer (=lower energy bills).  It's a win-win!!  And the dryer works in the same way as the washer in terms of timing.  It will detect the wetness and size of the load and then determine how long it needs to go for.  This has ranged from as low as 23 minutes to as high as 40 minutes (although the latter was a bigger load of towels, so I wasn't surprised by that one). 

Overall, I am really pleased with our purchase.  The washer seems to use a lot less water than our top-loading GE Profile but it still seems to be getting everything squeaky clean!  The only thing that I've heard to watch out for with front-loaders is that they tend to develop a musty or moldy smell if you don't wipe out the rubber piece inside the door every once in a while.  Based on some consumer reviews, water tends to get trapped there if you close the door right after removing a load.  I have kept a hand towel on top of the washer lately and just wipe out the excess water after each cycle (which only takes a couple seconds) and haven't encountered the smell, so I think it is just a matter of preventative maintenance.  I have also heard that you can leave the door open and let it air out if that is easier.  Right now, we could definitely do that since our basement is wide open, but since we are planning our basement renovation at the moment which will include closet doors encasing the washer/dryer set, we might not have that luxury down the road (more on the basement renovation in the next week or so).

Oh, and another thing about front-loaders that I want to mention is that they do tend to sit very low on the ground (well, the washer anyway, since dryers are typically front-loading anyway) so we are planning to build a storage compartment/stand underneath with some drawers to house extra detergent, dryer sheets, etc.  We will probably just make it out of extra wood that we have lying around and put cute little handles on it.  I'm not sure of the exact design yet, but as always, I will definitely report back on that project when we eventually map it out and tackle it!  They do sell stands for almost all front-loaders, but the LG ones that fit our appliances were $200 each.....and that was just way too much for us to consider spending when we were already digging deep for the purchase in the first place. 

Above are some examples from the Home Depot website of what the units look like with pedestals (or stacked, as the middle photo shows).  They definitely look nice, and it would be a lot quicker to just buy the pre-made ones, but what fun is that?  We wouldn't be true DIYers if we didn't at least try to make them on our own.  So, more on that in the coming weeks.....
Has anyone recently purchased a new washer and dryer?  Do you currently own the LG models?  Do you love them?  What are your thoughts on the pedestals or stackable options? 


Ten on Tuesday

I've linked up to It's a Crafty Life's Ten on Tuesday event.  I am a new follower of hers, so I thought it would be fun to join the party!


The requirements of the party are that you link up a blog post talking about ten random things, pictures or events in your life.  Like I said, I've never done this before, so please bear with me........

1.  Confession: I have been a bad blogger lately and failed to update you all on some recent project completions (window installation, black frame gallery in the hallway, guest bedroom makeover and our washer and dryer purchase).  This pregnancy has made me terribly forgetful, so I always think I posted about something when I really didn't....oops!!  So stay tuned for those upcoming posts!!

2.  I am currently reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Craft Rubin for my book club and it is wonderful so far.  We have been reading a lot of deep and dark novels of late and it's a nice refreshing change of pace.  My best description of the book is that it is insightful, inspiring, witty and fresh.  I am only about 30 pages in and that is my take on it, but I will let you know if my opinion changes as I move further into the book.  So far, so good though.....

3.  We have been eating out almost every night lately.  We went through all the trouble of creating this beautiful kitchen and we haven't really used it in weeks (maybe even longer than that).  I have had NO motivation to grocery shop (aside from picking up milk and eggs and things like that once a week).  I just can't wrap my head around planning meals and thinking far ahead.  I barely know what I want at any given moment, nevermind what I will want in 4 days.  So.....needless to say, we have been take-out fans lately.  My normal go-to has been a veggie or california roll with some edamame from whole foods (since I can't have the good stuff), but I'm not sure what we will end up tonight.  Exciting, isn't it?  Haha...

4.  We just got back from vacation a month ago and I am already scouring websites for the next getaway deals.  Even though I can't go anywhere for a while, nor will we want to leave our little bundle of joy right away, but it is just nice to think about fun places to travel in the future.  And who knows, little B might be a really great traveler and we will take him with us all over the place.  Only time will tell.

5.  Our maternity photographer just sent us a few more sneak-peek photos yesterday and this one is my favorite.  I like that is is not about me or my husband, it is really just all about the belly.  Maybe it's a little too abstract and artsy, but I think that's why I love it.  It's not screaming maternity photo shoot to me, it almost seems like its natural.  I am actually thinking about printing this one and hanging it in our hallway (since we just put up a wall gallery of frames in the upstairs hallway this weekend....more on that tomorrow). 

Here it is:

6.  It has almost been a year since I started this blog....my how time flies!  My goal for the next year is to update more frequently and participate more in the blogging world.  I honestly try to visit all of the blogs on my dashboard once a week, but sometimes I don't get around to it and I feel terrible.  And the thing is that I don't even feel obligated to do it, I really just love to be inspired and see what other people are doing in the world.  It is so great to be a part of each of your lives, even though we have never met.  I have been more inspired by strangers in the last year than I ever thought possible.  The amount of ideas out there is incredible and I'm just really grateful to be a part of it all!!  So this is the year for me....I vow to be a more dedicated blogger....

7.  My mom, sister-in-law and mother-in-law are planning a baby shower for me next weekend and I CANNOT wait!!!   Hm....does that sound spoiled or conceited?  Maybe it came out wrong.  I guess I am just really excited to share this experience with all of my friends and family.  I honestly could care less about the presents (although B and I will be SUPER SUPER thankful for everything that we receive and I'm sure we will need it all for the little one), I just really want to spend time with everyone and soak it all in before the sleepless nights and the crazy schedules set in.  There are very few times in our lives when everyone you love is with you in one room (bridal showers, weddings, graduations and sometimes birthdays), but for the most part, it is pretty rare.  So this will be one of those times for me and I'm so very excited!!  Sadly, my grandma from Florida won't be able to make it up here in time for the shower because of a surgery, but she is planning to be here when he arrives, so that will be even more exciting.  Other than that though, it will be wonderful to celebrate and spend time with all of these wonderful people in my life.  And my family (mom, SIL and MOL) are absolutely wonderful for doing this for me.  I promise to report back with some pictures of the shower in two weeks!!  YAY!

8.  Lately, I have started to feel SUPER hungry all the time.  For most of the pregnancy, I have been eating what I normally eat and just adding a healthly snack here and there throughout the day.....but in the last few weeks I have felt like I need to add even more to my plate.  I know this is probably normal, but since I hadn't really experienced it for most of the 7.5 months, I thought that I might not face it at all.  No dice.  For example, I went out to dinner with my parents on Sunday night and had a full meal (steak tips in a salad, lots of bread w/ AMAZING dipping sauce, and even some bites of a peanut butter ice cream thing for dessert), but less than two hours later my stomach was growling and I NEEDED a snack.  Really, kiddo?  You are hungry already?  Haha.  I am trying to be good about choosing healthy snacks when the hunger pains hit, but it's not always easy when you are out and about for the day.  I have always been good about bringing a granola bar with me or something similar (thank you, Girl Scouts of America), but I guess I need to pack two now instead of one.  My how times have changed......

It's definitely a good thing though, it just means that he is growing a lot and I'm happy about that.  Whatever keeps him healthy and strong is fine by me.  We actually have a doc appointment tonight, so I'm curious to see how much weight i've put on over the last three weeks....EEEK!!!  I'll keep you posted...

9.  Hopefully my boss isn't reading this post, but I have a little secret to share with you all.  I still have two months left (give or take) and I have already started to check out at work.  All I want to do during the day is dream about the nursery or look at cute onesies and hats to buy him.  Don't get me wrong, I am getting my work done, but instead of planning ahead and getting things ready for when I leave, I've been using my downtime for internet surfing.  Bad, I know.  I almost feel like I have senioritis....

10.  We have no summer vacation plans because of the baby and I'm starting to get itchy to take a long weekend.  We were thinking about going up to Bar Harbor (where we got married and where B's parents have a house) for 4th of July weekend, but I'm just not sure how I feel about being 5.5 hours away from my hospital within 6 weeks of my due date.  Is that irrational?


Nursery Update: Paint

At long last, the nursery is finally painted!  To be honest, I actually painted it a few weeks ago, but I've been so busy with other projects that I forgot to blog about it....oops!!   And since nothing else was really going on in the nursery, I figured that it could wait while I updated you on some other house-related projects.  Now that I'm sitting here writing it, though, I wish I had done it sooner since we picked up all of the furniture yesterday and I CANNOT WAIT to share that with you in the next few days. 

But first things first: the paint.  When we first moved into the house last February, the office looked like this.......

Yea, I know you are thinking....the blue molding is timeless.  Why would I ever want to change it, right?  Um, not so much.  So our first step was to transform the room into an office/potential future nursery.  It's hard enough to determine the colors you want in ANY room, nevermind the future room for your unconceived and not-even-off-birth-control child.  In fact, its pretty impossible.  Even when we knew we were pregnant and having a boy, we still went through a ton of color and design choices (which you can read more about here and here).  So, we ultimately decided to go with something calm and neutral and hope that it could fit into a potential nursery design in the future.  The colors we chose were "Restful" by Behr in eggshell finish for the walls and off-the-shelf white semi-gloss Behr paint for the molding and trim.  Here is what it looked like after just two coats of the wall color and three coats of the trim color.

I definitely liked it, and it served us well for over a year (it truly was a calming color, as the name implies)......but as soon as we found out we were having a boy, I couldn't stop thinking about the color blue.  I know its cliche, and green is totally perfect for a boy as well, but I just kept dreaming about the room being blue.  In my mind at the time (granted, it was a crazy, hormone-ridden, full-time nauseated mind), I thought that boys room "should" be blue.  Looking back, I definitely don't think that is true though.  I would have been really happy just keeping the green walls, or painting them a cheery yellow or even a light gray, but once I got that first vision of navy and yellow in my mind, there was no stopping me. 

So, a few testers later (in order from the top, Blue Zephyr by Olympic, Pacific Coast by Valspar, Mysteria by Behr, and Windsor Haze by Behr), we ultimately decided on the second one down from the top: Pacific Coast.  We were going with the most navy-ish color possible, so ultimately, Blue Zephyr (the top one) and Windsor Haze (the bottom one) both had too much green in them and Mysteria (the third one down) was a little lighter than we wanted.  We probably could have tested more colors, since I taped up about 20-30 different paint chips to the wall over the course of a few weeks, but these were the finalists.  I felt like Goldilocks when I eventually made my decision.....this one is too cold, this one is too hot......this one is JUST RIGHT!!  Pacific Coast had the same deep tones and saturation as a traditional navy blue, but just a tad bit lighter.  It was love at first stroke sight.

And since I wanted to be the one to do the painting, I did a little online research on some no-VOC options available to us.  We were thinking about going with either the Martha Stewart line from Home Depot or the Valspar line from Lowe's since they are both low-VOC, but after hearing a few recommendations for and reading a bunch of positive reviews on Sherwin Williams Harmony Interior Acrylic Latex paint, we opted for the latter.  It is no-VOC (which is even better than Martha Stewart and Valspar) and it has very low odor.  Pretty amazing, right?  Well, my mother didn't think so.  Despite its noteworthy accolades, my mother still made me wear a mask and open up all the windows in the house (yes, even the ones that were not in the room that we were painting in).  Haha.  I guess its better to be safe than sorry when you are pregnant.....and no matter how old you are or whether you're carrying a child of your own, you still have to listen to your mother.  No ifs, ands or buts.... 

So we went down to our local Sherwin Williams store to pick up a gallon of paint color-matched to the Pacific Coast swatch and they were, as luck would have it, hosting a paint and stain sale that very day!  So we were able to get the normally $36/gallon paints for just $22/gallon with the discount.  It was a great deal!  I'm not sure the promotion is still going on, but you could always ask if they are planning to have another one in the coming weeks and hold off on your project until then.  And after using the product myself, I would highly recommend it to anyone....even if you aren't pregnant.  When its not on sale, its definitely a little more expensive than Behr, Valspar or Olympic at Home Depot and Lowe's (respectively), but you also have the piece of mind that it is not harmful to you or the environment and it doesn't leave a lingering odor behind when it dries.  It's a win-win!  There is actually only one thing that I will "warn" you about before you go out and grab some of it.....keep in mind that they do not carry the Harmony line in anything less than gallon-size.  We found this out the hard way.  The room was 95% painted with two coats, but we needed just a little bit more to touch up a few spots and finish one corner of the room.  Normally I would run out to grab an extra quart of paint, but not with this line.  Maybe they will add this to their line-up in the future (since it is a relatively new product) but at the moment,  you have to splurge for a whole new gallon of paint even if you only need a little.  The way I look at it though, at least I have some touch-up paint for DIY projects in the future.  I'm sure I will use it eventually, but I wanted to make sure that you knew this little tid bit of information before you go out and start a project with this line of paint.

So, after two coats, we ended up with this.....

I am officially in love.  The pictures aren't great (and definitely don't do it justice) but I can tell you that its a beautiful color in person.  Even better than on the swatch or even on the tester strip.  It is a fully saturated color (which is sometimes a little scary since most saturated colors feel dark) but it feels light and airy at the same time.  It's hard to explain, but I will hopefully get some better pictures once all of the furniture is set up and you will see the nice contrast between the white and the blue walls.  I cannot wait to bring our new little one home to see it (although I'm pretty sure he won't really be concerned with design at that point in his life....probably just eating and sleeping.....and ya know....pooping).  I still have a few DIY projects lined up (art work, a crib skirt and curtains), but I feel good knowing that we have this part of the project done.  YAY!  I can't wait to share it all with you!!! 

Next up I will show you the furniture that we had refinished and then give you a little update on the rug search (since we definitely aren't keeping the green one in there)......so I will be back later this week with an update on those projects.  Stay tuned...


Our Little Hole in the Wall.....literally

As I mentioned in this babymoon post a few weeks ago, the soap dish tile in our bathtub fell out the other day and smashed into about 40 pieces when it hit the floor.  Ugh!  We were disappointed, and a little dumbfounded, to say the least, but we weren't necessarily surprised.  The tile work was original to the house, so we are talking about almost 50 years of wear and tear on that grout and caulking (which hopefully explains the amount of dirt and grim that you will witness in the following photo.....I SWEAR that I've tried to clean it)!!

Lovely, right?  If you are wondering what the weird film is over the hole, oh that's just some saran wrap and packing tape.  Haha.  It was the first thing that came to mind when we needed to take our next shower.  I used all of my girl scouts knowledge from eons ago and came up with this combination.  Not pretty, but it worked for the time being, especially since a full bathroom renovation just isn't in the budget right now.  And we certainly couldn't leave the hole exposed, since it went right through to our bedroom wall and the moisture from the shower would get in there and eventually create mold and mildew......EW!  So, off to Home Depot we went. 

And we returned with this beauty!  For $6.98, it was the quickest fix I could think of until we have the money to renovate the whole bathroom.  It was the only size available, and of course they didn't have the lovely blue version in stock at the time (haha....I'm actually pretty sure they haven't manufactured the blue tile version for about 30 years now).  But since it was a temporary fix, we thought that white would work just fine. 

The only problem was that the new soap dish was a weeeee bit bigger than the existing hole....of course!  But not to fear, my genius husband picked up a $3.47 grinding point at Home Depot in case something like this happened (since I NEVER would have thought of that).  The grinding point just attaches to your drill and the rest is history. 

It took him about 5-10 minutes of grinding to get a perfect fit.....and we only had one minor setback during that process.  While he was testing out the fit, he turned around to get my attention and let go of it.....which made is crash down into the tub (a la the blue soap dish of yore) and the edge chipped off.  Oops!!!  We considered going back out to HD to pick up another one, but after playing the "not it" game for a few minutes we realized that the chip wasn't going to affect the integrity of the soap dish, so we would just patch it with some quickset mortar and call it a day.  Normally I am all for perfection, but since we know that we are going to renovate down the road, it just didn't make sense to run out for another $6.98 soap dish that we wouldn't use forever. 

Unfortunately I didn't take step-by-step pictures of the grouting and caulking process, but it was a pretty quick process.  We already had some quickset on hand from the backsplash project  back in the fall, so we used that and put a healthy dose of it on the back of the soapdish and held it in place while it set for about 10-15 minutes.  At that point, we let it fully set on its own for about 5-6 hours and used caulking to seal the edges around the existing tile.  I believe it was just DAP waterproof stuff in white. 

Here's B holding the tile in place.  I think he had envisioned us taking turns
holding the soap dish in place while it set a little.....but I preferred to document
the process while he SUFFERED!!  Hehe

Please try to ignore the DISGUSTING grime that lives in the grout of my shower. 
As much as we try to scrub it, it just doesn't get any cleaner. 
And now that we know that some of the tiles can just spontaneously fall off,
I'm going to scrub a little softer so as to not encourage anymore from jumping ship.....
Oh, and you can totally see the outline of the chip in this close-up shot. 
Does it bother me?  Yes, but do I care enough to re-do the entire project.....HELL NO!!

From far away, the grout lines don't look as bad...but you now know the truth!!  EEK! 

So that's it for our quick bathtub soap dish fix!  And for $10.50, it was by far the cheapest and most painless patch job that we've encountered as new homeowners.  If only they were all like this!!  Have any of you done a project like this before in your bathroom?  Or any quick fixes before a full renovation?  I would love to hear about it.


Wedding Project: Seating Chart

I know that I promised to update you on the bathroom shower project today, but I went to take a final "after" picture and the uncleanliness of the shower made me scream hold off.  I will try to clean it tonight and get some good photos for a post tomorrow though.  So, I apologize to any of you who were really looking forward to hearing about how we patched the hole.  That sounds weird, but I guess if it happened to us, then there might be some other people out there going through the same thing and looking for some quick fix ideas.  I promise to fill you in tomorrow though, so stay tuned!!
Now, instead of our regularly scheduled programming, I thought I would take this opportunity to share a recent wedding project that I did for a friend.  Betsy is a fun, outgoing, creative, witty, passionate person, so it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of her special day (I doubled as a "wedding coordinator" as well as a guest at the wedding....YAY).  Her dream was to have a simple, elegant, vintage-inspired wedding at a winery in NH (which she accomplished beautifully, by the way), but she just needed a little help to pull everything together on the day of.  Everything was pretty much organized when I arrived at the venue to set things up, so it went REALLY smoothly considering it was my first "coordinating" job.  I haven't had a chance to talk to her very much about her thoughts on the whole event (she is currently on her honeymoon) but based on comments from my fellow guests, everything was perfect.  It was a beautiful day and I had an awesome time....EVEN at 30 weeks pregnant!  Now that's saying something, right?

But, not only did I help her out with some last minute details on the day-of, she also commissioned me to do a seating chart for the event.  This is definitely not a new concept in the bridal world, but it has become more popular in recent years.  Her brother and sister-in-law had one done for their wedding a few years ago and it stuck with her, so she knew that she wanted something that would function as a seating chart for the reception, but would also be a great memento to hang on the wall of her dining room for years to come.  So that is where I came in.  And although it is fairly common these days, it was MY first seating chart. 
Here it is:

What do you think?  Did you have something like this done at your wedding?  Or would you like to have it done for an upcoming wedding or event?  Just email me at simplebeautifulhome@gmail.com with some details of your event (number of guests, time frame, etc.) for a custom quote.  I will probably take some time off when the baby is born (early August or so), but I will be back in action in mid-September for all of your calligraphy-related needs.  I have noticed that there are a lot of vendors out there offering a similar product on Etsy, but for the most part they are just providing you with an electronic file to go print at your local Kinko's or Staples.  If time is an issue, then I would recommend going that route (and I would happily create that for you as well), but I think that hand-drawn calligraphy is a lot more personal and unique.  And this seating chart only took me about a week to turn around, so the time difference really isn't an issue.  It's really just up to you and the look that you are going for.  If you have a more modern style, then maybe calligraphy isn't the right way to go.  Although I've seen some where you just do block printing instead of calligraphy and it looks really clean and simple.  So, that's an option too!

And of course, I also do escort cards and place cards, if that is more up your alley.  Here are the ones I did for my own wedding a few years ago.....

But enough business talk....here are some photos of the reception (what you've been waiting for all along, I'm sure).  We really did have an AWESOME time.....so thank you Betsy and Rory for sharing your special day with us!!!

Me and the hubby.....yes, he's wearing seersucker.  Haha.  He's so handsome!!

My wonderful brother (also the DJ) and I. 
Check out his website for more info.... http://www.mikekoutrobis.com/
Best buds from work.  And as you can see, I've already changed into my sandals!!
 I think we were about 10 minutes into dancing at that point.

All of us with the beautiful bride!

I'm not sure which song this was, but according to the photos we have, it's certainly not the
only one that we are singing like this in.  And I'm the sober one of the bunch......

There were a lot more photos on our camera that night, but I think I'll just leave you with this batch since it's the most tame.  Haha.  Don't you just love weddings though??  They are so much fun and it is so wonderful to see two people that are truly in love!!  We have two more left to go to this year.....September and October, so I'm really looking forward to those as well.  In fact, the September one might be the first night that we are away from the little one....PARTAY!!!  Haha...I say that now, but I'm sure it's going to be really hard to leave him.  Any advice on how to make the transition easier???  I'm all ears!!