Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cabin Life

When we listed our house we knew my in-laws cabin was a possibility to live in, in the interim.  I was open to the idea for a short time, but was a little nervous to call it home for too long.  Built in the 1830's, it certainly doesn't have all of the amenities we were used to - no dishwasher or garbage disposal, no washer/dryer, microwave or internet.

But my sister-in-law had lived in it for several years, even bringing home her two small children here, so I knew it could be done.  And I also knew that her family had taken care of a lot of the issues that come with living in a Pre-Civil War, log cabin (it was used as a hospital during the Civil War).  They had already found most of the holes in the logs, added radiant heating to all the floors, and a second window unit for the heat of the summer, among many other things.

After a week or so, I knew I could handle it for a while.  Within that amount of time we had faced mice (yes, that's plural), a frog, wasps and wolf spiders.  While I didn't enjoy any of it, I was less of a wuss than I thought I would be.  That's about the same time we decided to build, and because we are building a custom home and doing quite a bit of the work ourselves we'll likely be in here until late spring of next year.

So I hope to take this adventure and make the most of it.  It's certainly been a roller coaster of a ride thus far, with some gross lows but beautiful highs.

I love the bricked paved patio, the garden I've filled with pumpkin vines and the change of pace and responsibilities.

Decorating has been a bit of a challenge.  I'm still getting used to the space and playing with things to find out what works, but I've noticed why I've been struggling a bit.  In our previous home I was constantly striving to add character to the rooms.  The bones were rather plain and almost anything you put up against them worked.  The cabin is a different story.  It's bursting with character, from the log walls to the antique furniture throughout.  In order to reach something I love, I've had to pare down significantly to let the bones shine.

Along with paring down, I've also found that adding a few modern touches helps to make the space my own.

Later in the week I'll show you a few changes I've made in the kitchen, to help it feel like home.

Do you have any tips for making a temporary house feel like a home?  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The House That Set the Standard and Where We Go From Here

I thought the home-selling process was difficult, but the home-buying thing (while often more fun) hasn't been so easy.  But we didn't exactly start off on an easy foot.  You see, I made myself a promise not to physically look at a house until our home was under contract, and we broke that rule.  My dad told Micah about a house up the street from them that had come on the market.  It had been listed last fall at the top of our price range, but this time they were asking for quite a bit more.

Our relator assumed that we'd have some wiggle room unless they had made some major changes, so she showed us the listing.  From what I gathered from the pictures I was totally uninterested - it looked small and really cut up - but Micah thought otherwise.  He wanted to see the house and I obliged because it was in one of my ideal neighborhoods and I could just walk to the showing from my parents house while I was visiting them.

The house sits on a corner up the street, and I really hadn't paid much attention to it all of these years, but when we walked up I realized that behind the big tree in the front yard was a really lovely Colonial.  I wish I had a full picture of the front, but I only managed to find this detail shot of the porch.  I've always loved a Colonial and I'm sure it has something to do with most of our extended family living in Virginia and the visits to Williamsburg as a kid.

We walked in and I was shocked.

There was so much potential.  The rooms were large, the ceilings were tall.  And there were hardwoods throughout.

And so much detail: character that can be really hard to find in the suburbs.  This living room particularly had me interested.  I'm not usually a fan of this much wood, but with all of the south facing windows it was light and bright.  Some modern furniture and art would have this space looking fab in no time.

One room after the next felt more and more like home.  This sun room off of the living room would be ideal for kids to play and plants to live.

And then there was the piece de resistance, a second sunroom connected to the master.  This space was PERFECT for making.  The light and bright feel (10 windows!), the longer layout ideal for a few different work areas (crafting, computing, sewing), a cabinet with sink for easy clean up, and a somewhat secluded area of the home.  It really was the deal sealer for me.

I loved that the home was not perfect, that it needed some work but was definitely livable and something I would enjoy being in from the start.  Within a few minutes of the showing I knew where the Christmas tree would go, I saw us entertaining in it, doing life in this house.  And Micah couldn't have been more happy about this…

A pool and more outdoor entertaining space than you'd ever need.

We came back for a second look with his dad, who has built a lot of houses and sees problems most people don't.  His parents both saw what we saw in the house so we offered them what they were asking for in the fall that night.  Unfortunately, after a bit of negotiating we just couldn't move any more, and they weren't willing to budge.  We just couldn't see paying more for something they had done nothing to since listing it at the price we offered.

We searched high and low for anything that would compare, but not a single home came close to the feeling I got in that place.  It's still sitting there with a "for sale" sign in it's yard (with a small and outdated kitchen - I don't like to cook so I didn't care about the size - updates needed, and the lack of an open floor plan I'll be surprised to see it sell any time soon), but it's time for us to move on.  So we're doing something I never dreamed of doing…

We're building our own home.  A lot of mixed emotions go into that statement.  I always pictured us buying an older home and making it our own, but I'm loving this idea more and more.  I'm sure it will be quite the roller coaster ride as we live life in this pre-civil war cabin while trying to build a house on our own (Micah is a general contractor, so he'll be running the show and we'll be doing lots of the work ourselves too).  We've been meeting with an architect to put together a set of custom plans and I've been gathering up all the inspiration I can find.  See, all of those hours on Pinterest were not in vain.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mixing Metals for the Non-Commital

I've always had a love/hate relationship with trends.  The idea of finding the next fresh thing has me excited every time, but the bandwagon jumping and overuse of trends can sometimes feel like a real downer.  Things don't feel so fresh when you see them on every end cap at the store or every pin on Pinterest.

When I worked in fashion I found trends easier to embrace: you bought a romper and when you got tired of seeing everyone else in one, you gave it away.  But home decor is often a little more tricky than that; especially when it comes to the bones of a space - the flooring, the trim work, the fixtures.  These things can be very expensive and laborsome to replace, so when it came to our master bathroom redo I really wanted to consider what would have lasting power, but could still feel up-to-date.

I love the look of mixed metals in any space, but particularly in a bathroom or kitchen.  Since these rooms have less need for fuss and decor, the hardware is really important.  I started with the most permanent metal pieces in the room and decided I wanted those to all be similar in style and finish.  Because of the wall tile, replacing the towel bars and toilet paper holder aren't that simple, so I went with the classic chrome finish on those as well as the faucet, the Kenroy Home Riley sconces, toilet lever, and vanity knobs.

I've been so used to builder-grade faucets in the bathroom, I can't believe the difference this beautiful Pfister faucet makes in the morning and evening routines of life.  

Anyone can replace a mirror, so I went with this gold Kenroy Home Lens mirror, and I was pleasantly surprised at some extra features I got from it.  (I thought the product shots showed it skewing silver, but it's definitely a really light gold.)  

All of those little mirrors on the sides are perfect for makeup application.  No need to turn your head to fill in the end of your eyebrows, and the small ones on the bottom are at the perfect angle to make sure you got all of the soap off of your face without having to lift up and get water all over the counter.  Please say I'm not the only one who finds these to be issues.  

If everything was silver it would feel a little flat, but the mirror adds some depth and can easily be moved elsewhere when metal mixing becomes passé.  
Certainly one gold mirror wasn't mixed enough, so I found some gold frames and made some art to put in them.  Leaning them feels modern and makes them easy to change out when the mood strikes.
You'll never guess how I got that secretary.  I had big plans of finishing this dresser for the space, but in my giddiness, I didn't measure - I guesstimated.  And it was too big.  The week before DIY came to shoot our house we went to visit my husband's grandma in Ohio and I searched every thrift store and garage sale in the whole town.  I didn't find a thing.  The last night we were there Grandma's friend, who is a blog reader, came over to meet me and when she returned home she text us some pictures asking if this piece would work.

It was 9:30 at night and we were leaving before the sun rose the next day.  It was the perfect size. Wendy drove all the way back over with it and gave it to me - wouldn't take a dime for it.  Thank you, again, for your kindness Wendy!  I simply switched out the pulls, and it's the perfect little storage piece, adding so much warmth to the room.

It's hard to believe we really only got to enjoy the space for 2 months before we handed it over to someone else.  But I was so happy with the results and I can't wait to tackle our next bathroom.

How do you feel about home trends?  Do you like to embrace them or do you try to stay away?

For more details on the rest of the space you can visit my post on The Home Depot's Blog: The Apron.  

*Thank you to Kenroy Home for the mirror and sconces, Pfister for the faucet, and The Home Depot for the other supplies.  While I partnered with these companies to renovate this space, all opinions are my own.  
This post contains affiliate links.