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Pinterest strikes again! I’ve seen a lot of really great closet makeovers lately that have had me drooling. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I literally seem to get a buzz off of a good organization project. There is nothing like it.

Baby Audrey’s closet has been a nightmarish mess for months now. It didn’t bother me so much until we actually moved her into her room to sleep and I now spend a good chunk of every day hanging out in there with her. The closet mess had become unavoidable.

Following a link on a Pinterest Pin, I found a great Rubbermaid Closet kit. I Jedi mind tricked Justin into going out with me to get it. (He needed lightbulbs for his own weekend project: installation of a new dining room chandelier.)

I’m going to be very real with you now and show you the before picture of the closet. Honestly, it wasn’t until I looked at the picture again after everything was finished, that I realized how crazy it looked. All of that stuff crammed in there, no space, no order.

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As you can see, the baby’s clothes are kind of hung up in size order, but everything was so tightly packed, it was hard to see what she has. As I’m sure most new moms will tell you, they grow so quickly, that it is easy to miss clothes just because you don’t see them.

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First I needed to clean everything out.

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Audrey helped out a bit by making me laugh. Her fuzzy orange toy is very soft and she likes to smoosh her face into it. It also makes this terrifying noise and I’m grateful that she hasn’t figured out how to turn it on yet.

Once I got everything out, it was time to bust out my 7th grade shop class skills. I’m glad I paid attention during the ruler class. This was my first solo project with a drill. Thankfully, since it was a closet project, an extra hole or two (or 4) would be hidden.

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Measuring and hanging the brackets took the longest. I am not ashamed to admit that I pulled up a YouTube video on how to insert a drill bit. Now that I’ve got that skill down, I can’t wait for my next project. Anyway, brackets were up and it was time to figure out a set up that would work for little people clothing, but also give me some useable shelving space. As you can see from the hideous before picture, we also use Audrey’s closet for storing our bed linens. I’m sure there will come a time when my adorable little person needs every inch of her closet for her own stuff, but for now, she can share.

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The reason I wasn’t upset about having to drop just under $100 on this set up is that everything is adjustable. If a month from now, something isn’t working or I want to add more shelves, I can do that. The earlier set up of one bar across and one shelf didn’t give me access to the most space.

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With my two foot tall boss looking on, I started loading stuff back in. I tried to be thoughtful about the process. I used the two racks to the left for her current wardrobe and the rack to the right for the stuff that she’ll fit into later. Our linens still found a spot up on the shelves but I also put her collection of hand knit blankets, a basket full of toys and the various baby wearing devices all up on shelves too. I had enough leftover room in the back corners for the stuff we don’t often use, like my collection of gift bags (who needs a baby themed gift bag? I got em!) and diapers. The best part, I had gotten so much stuff up and off the floor of her room and I still had plenty to spare on the floor of the closet.

Here is the final look:

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Ahhhh…now that felt good, so good in fact that I didn’t want to close the doors so I could keep looking at it. The other closets in the house should be very nervous. This was definitely an easy to do makeover!

-Kate

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I signed up for a woodworking class that starts in February.   It is through the adult education program in my cute little city.  Eight weeks of learning how to build things!

I’m hoping to learn how to make furniture and get over my fear of power tools.  I am so excited. 

Do you want to know a secret?  I have always wanted to make chairs.  I dream about chairs.  When I come to your house, I look at your chairs, especially if you happen to have any Hitchcock chairs hanging around.  I’m a sucker for good construction.  My biggest hope/wish is that I finish the woodworking class with the ability to make my own chair(s) to go with my planned dining room makeover in 2012.   How cool would that be?

etsy.com

My parents have been kind enough to hold my Great Grandmother’s dining room table for me until I could bring it over to our home.  When my grandmother and my great-aunt Susan gave their mother’s table to me, I had to swear that it would always stay in the family (on the family bible, no less).  That’s a lot of pressure for a furniture junkie like me, which is why Justin and I waited until we were completely ready to have it move in with us!

This is what our dining room looks like now:

We have a bistro table set that has been great for the last few years, but has taken a beating with two dogs who were both chewy puppies.  This might sound weird too, but it  is hard when we have more guests than seats because the chairs are so tall.  You can’t really substitute anything else in, like a folding chair.  That’s always bothered me.  With a shorter table, that wouldn’t be an issue.

pinterest.com

Obvious size differences in room aside, the table in the picture above is similar in color to my Great Grandmother’s table and I really like how it looks with the white chairs.  I would want to do something similar.  I’m not married to the idea of having all matching chairs, so I’ve kept an eye out on Craigslist.  So far, no luck though.  I’ve missed painting, too.  So it would be fun to get out a paint brush for either something I build or buy.

Justin and I both really like to eat week night dinners at the counter in the kitchen, so I’d love to get these gorgeous chairs from West Elm, too.  Just a pair.  They would tuck in nicely on either side of the floating shelves.

-Kate

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The span of time in between when the kitchen was finished enough for us to start putting our belongings back and when we were expecting about 35+ of our local friends and family for our annual Festivus Party was four evenings (after work) long.  We had about a month to demo and box up everything and now…BAM, everything had to go back in and be organized and functional enough that I could cook for a houseful of people in hours.  I’d be a lying liar if I didn’t tell you that I still have about a box and a half of mystery stuff without a home or that two of the cabinets just have random stuff wedged in them.

Obviously the long-term plan is to find a home for everything we need and pare down stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably doesn’t have to be in the kitchen all the time.  In which case, we have storage shelves in the garage to hold the special occasion stuff.  Not a big deal.

The prettiest cabinet in the kitchen kind of proved the most difficult.  Think about it, what would you want everyone who comes into your kitchen to look at?  If we didn’t have our china, I’d probably pick out some items in our accent colors and pair that with our regular white dishes.

My only regret is that we didn’t get our electrician friend over before the cabinets went up to put lights in there.  That would have been very pretty.

Next up, our everyday cabinet.  What used to take up two, we’ve consolidated into one.  Our glassware, mugs, plates and bowls!

We picked up a space divider from a certain big box store to create a second shelf.  Tremendously helpful.  That pink mug on top is a “grab in case of fire” owl mug from one of my dearest friends.

This was also a great time for us to put together a cabinet of our entertaining pieces.  Instead of having to pull from a bunch of different places when we have guests over, one place, closest to the living room so that you can easily access it from either side of the counter tops.  Wine and martini glasses, our ice bucket and our vegetable shaped dip dishes, just about everything you could need to throw a pretty darn good get together.  Justin and I both come from a long line of party throwers.

Do you know what drives me nuts?  A spice cabinet that is up so high that I can’t see into it.  For now, this hot mess is going to have to do.  I tried my best to layer the smaller spice jars in the front and as potential solution for the future, we picked up some magnetic spice jars to put on the side of the fridge.

I know that you all wanted to see what my drawers look like.  Ha.

I like that the idea of a junk drawer is universal and that we all probably have one or even a couple.  However, with this new kitchen I wanted to start organized.  Justin and I picked up metal containers in a couple different sizes and picked out the few things that actually should live in a utility or junk drawer.   I think after a few cocktails at the Festivus party, I actually made guests look at it.  Yup.  I was that proud.

Are you a newly wed and you aren’t using all of your new stuff yet?  Don’t sweat it.  The silverware you see above were wedding gifts, but up until the kitchen remodel was finished, we hadn’t been using it for everyday.  In fact, we were only using it for parties.  I kept it all in a cutlery basket in the scary pre-makeover pantry (over share).

We also decided to split our most used kitchen/baking utensils between the big center drawer and the single drawer on either side of the sink.  We’re still grabbing for forks and knives in that smaller drawer, where they used to live, but boy is it helpful to have everything so easily accessible.

And I think that this post wraps up kitchen posts for a good long time.

-Kate

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I’ve talked about Pinterest before, but I didn’t fully start to take advantage of it until this fall.   If I were pressed to name the most helpful internet app in existence for folks like myself, who love crafting, clothes, design, food, etc. etc, it would definitely be Pinterest.   It is a total game changer. 

Pinterest works by allowing you to grab screenshots of images that you like and when you click on them later, it takes you directly to the website where the image came from.  This is huge for DIY folks who want to save a project idea for later or for shopaholic who want to remember that cute outfit.   As you can see from above, it is also a OCD paradise for folks who like to keep their visual lists organized.

I find that I am pretty consistently shocked at how useful Pinterest is.   You would never think, or at least I wouldn’t have, that looking at fitness inspiration pictures would be enough of a push to get you back to your regular work outs, but it is!  Or alternatively, how quickly you could spiral back down the path of glutton with all the great recipe ideas.  In fact, my entire Festivus food menu this year was based on stuff I had seen on Pinterest (with the exception of the buffalo chicken dip from Ryan’s Megan). 

Your boards become insightful about what really moves you aesthetically, too.  I probably could have told you that I like soft neutrals, classic touches like picture frame and crown molding, but when I look at my board as a whole, it is pretty obvious from what I was drawn to when I was poking/pinning around the internet.   As my friend, Erin, pointed out, it seems like I’m never completely satisfied with how our home looks, but when I look at my For The Home pinterest board, I see the future potential for fun tweaks and not drastic changes from what we now enjoy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I do have a love of clothes and have a pretty distinct personal style that has evolved from my days of 15 layers of oversized boy clothes.  (Trust me when I say my  teenage years were NOT cute.)   I love that I have at my finger tips, access to great images of outfits on which I can put together my look.  You don’t have to own everything in the pictures, but if you can take the concept and run with it, then that is fantastic. 

I’m probably heading a bit too far down Navel Gazing Lane at this point, but I’ve leaned pretty heavily on Pinterest this year for quotes and images that soothe my overactive brain.   In a tribute to the great Miles, I named my favorite board “GreeninBlue” (backwards from his track, Blue in Green on the album, Kind of Blue, of course).  Even now, while I’m typing up this post, I find myself getting sucked into the quotes and thinking about what was going on in my life when I pinned them.  There is so much wrapped up in the words and images.  Memories, good and bad. 

Anyway, if there are any of you out there who have not jumped happily on to the Pinterest bandwagon and wanted to give it a try, email me.  I’d be more than happy to shoot you in invite and do a quick tutorial to get you started!

-Kate

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The month of December can be a tricky time in our two religion home.  As it is, Christmas now starts right after Halloween.   I purposely like to use decorative elements that could be considered “seasonal” versus all about the Lord and Savior JC.   That’s what works for us and we enjoy getting our fill of the Great Guy in the Sky when we visit your home.

I bought these birch log candle holders on Etsy.com.

My favorite decorating elements stay pretty consistent year to year.  I have used the same bag of tea lights that I bought at Ikea about 4 years ago.  I secretly think that they are bunny candles and that they breed and reproduce when I put them back into the closet.   I have also picked up an epic amount of plastic silver ornaments in various shapes and sizes over the course of a couple of years .   Last year I hung them from the balcony with fishing wire.  Very pretty and a ton of work, both during and after for clean up.

As you can see from the picture above,  I dump a good chunk of the ornaments into the fireplace.  This year I left the decorative birch logs, but it also looks pretty spectacular with pillar candles of various heights.  If we hadn’t just made it to the finish line on the kitchen, I would have liked to have done that again this year, but alas, I just ran out of time.

The new element this year was cranberries.   I bought a couple of bags and went to town with them.  Above, I grabbed my blue Mason jar collection and threw in a handful of cranberries with one of the Ikea tea lights on top.  I put these guys in the bathrooms.  You could also do a beachy version, by layering sand, then cranberries and a candle.  That would be very cute.  (Remember for next year, Kate!)

Our kitchen serving pieces do a lot of double duty in our house.  These guys are actually dessert dishes that we received as wedding gifts (from the Press Family).  Here, I’ve used a slightly larger tea light, still from Ikea and layered the cranberries around it.   The richness of the different shades of red really pops once you light the candle.

We used our living room console table as a serving station for coffee and hot chocolate at our Festivus party last weekend.   In this instance, I just used some pre-lit garland, added a few of the aforementioned silver plastic ornaments and left out the crystal candle sticks that are always there.  I found one large glitter ball and popped that into the Waterford vase.  Bam!  Another perk of using cheapy stuff, no worries about people breaking them.   I don’t know about you folks, but I love minimizing stress during the holidays.

I happened to be watching the tail end of Glee when I snapped the picture.  Oh that Rachel and Finn!  Anyway, here you can get a sense of what it looks like all lit up.  I’m not doing a tree this year, so this is just the right amount of sparkle and in an easy enough location that I don’t mind plugging it in when I get home.

We don’t have a traditional fireplace mantle, although we could (some day…), so for now, I swap out our wedding pictures and regular year decorative elements for my homage to nature.   Or something like that.  I snagged the pine cones from the tree in our backyard after a particularly windy storm, the cranberry theme repeats from above and in the center of the bottom shelf are a three-er of birch log candle holders that I purchased earlier this year.  I love them.

If you look closely in the lantern, I’ve thrown in some of the silver ornaments as well.  In the past, I’ve used a smaller candle, greens and the silver ornaments.  That also works!

During a quick and dirty stop at Christmas Tree shop over the summer, I purchased their entire stock of river stone mats with the intention of using them on the fireplace surround.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to do that, so I’ve used them in different parts of the house, as seen above.  Here I took our all-purpose white platter (and as I’m looking at this picture, I’m hoping that the cranberries aren’t staining it, YIKES), two of the coffee/tea cups from our china collection (told you everyone does double duty) and two of the birch log candle holders.   Basically, this was where I joined all the elements together in one.  TADA, Kate makes a centerpiece.

And that pretty much sums it up, folks.  The secret to decorating without making your non-Christian spouse feel like Christmas threw up all over the place.

-Kate

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As you may or may not have noticed during our kitchen renovation was the hugely messy pantry closet. The contractors took the door off to replace the flooring, so our disorganized mess of a closet was on view for everyone. I finally hit a wall on that this weekend.

embarrassing!

I’ve tried to hunt down storage baskets for a while now and was pretty shocked at how $$ they can be. I hit the jackpot this weekend though while I was picking up supplies for my Thanksgiving Weekend Project (you’re going to want to hang our for that). Joanne Fabrics was having a 50% off sale on storage baskets so I scored five!

I started with cleaning out the closet of everything, sorting into piles of non-expired food, doggie stuff and kitchen supplies. Then I pulled out the shelves and painted them with a semi-gloss white to match all the trim in the house (I always have a can or two of the trim paint in the house for those quick touch ups).

I asked Justin how he felt about a color. I had leftover turquoise paint from when I painted a roadside find table about two years ago. The paint was a semi-gloss though, more appropriate for furniture or trim. It was also bright turquoise, a bit scary for an actual wall. To fix both problems, I dropped in some white paint specific for kitchens and bathrooms and mixed. The color mellowed out a bit.

What we both liked about the color immediately is that it matches some of our kitchen accessories (our cast iron pot and nesting bowls that are on display on top of the fridge), plus once we put the door back on, it will be our secret and not as visible as it is in the picture above. And yes, those are the baskets I bought sitting on top of the dishwasher.

I started sorting food items into the baskets. I’m not sure if this will be practical long-term, but I’m going give it a shot.

So here it is as of now before we put the door back on. The kitchen guys will be back to run the Whitewashed Pine Pergo Flooring into the closet and drop baseboard trim in there too. I’ll go back in then and touch up the trim that I hit with the blue paint brush. I also put a secret message in there to honor the renovation.

So as I mentioned earlier, stay tuned because this week is going to be nuts. The counter top gets templated tomorrow and the contractors come back this week to finish up installing the small stuff. I know I left a bit of a cliff hanger last week, but everything is A OKAY! I’ll also be starting a pretty ambitious bathroom project. I can’t wait!

I hope everyone has a great short week.

-Kate

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One decorating trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon:  Owls.  I’m not immune, but have kept my desire to hoard.all.the.owls to a minimum.  Even I realize that they might be creepy in large numbers.

I typically have them in a few different spots in the house and for a while, I had them up on this corner shelf in our living room, looking down on everyone.   I pulled them all together for my Halloween/Fall set up.

I like these two little guys because they look confused or horribly guilty.  “WHO ATE ALL THE COOKIES?” “uhh  uhh”  .  They are actually salt and pepper shakers from Shona (remember Shona?  She’s doing great.  Maybe we can guilt her into coming back for a holiday post).

I picked this guy up at Marshal’s for $4.99.  He has a candle holder in the back for an extra creepy glow.

And my favorite…

I got this at the White Elephant Flea Market in Connecticut.  I had originally planned on painting him, but he’s got so much natural charm, I just couldn’t.

-Kate

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