The Purpose-Driven House

As a high-achiever, I feel bound to disclaim that our house is a work in progress. This is not due to a lack of appreciation for how far we’ve come or a rabid case of perfectionism but rather because I know just how good this house *can* be. After countless hours of hard work, an ocean of sweat and tears, and a recycling bin full of empty beer bottles, we have arrived at stage one (from ground zero). This is the first of a myriad of transformations that will reflect the changing lifestyle, practical needs, and aspirations of the Dewvall family. I feel we have awakened our house from its nearly year-long slumber and given it a mission to fulfill. It is our home – and it will strive to achieve this mission as completely as it can. While our home is not “finished”, it reflects its first purposeful reaches toward fulfillment. We celebrated this milestone in mid-April (most of our guests called it a “housewarming party”) and before the first arrivals rang our doorbell I took a few seconds to snap photos.

This is our bedroom. Its purpose is to be restful, calming, and inspirational. I want our minds and bodies to relax and feel free to dream. It reminds me of that hour in late summer evenings when twilight melds with night and your mind wanders sleepily, dreaming of faraway ships and starry skies and adventures to take another day. These pictures aren’t as pretty as they could be – I didn’t “style” the shoot or do something goofy to dress our room up like it’s starring in a magazine – this is how it is – at least when a load of laundry isn’t being folded on the bed – and I think you’ll agree that it accomplishes its purpose perfectly.

Soft grey walls creep up onto the ceiling while sunlight rushes in through windows to the east. Light comes from the south-facing window in the bathroom and from the doorway leading from the dining room and kitchen, providing natural light from three different sides. Our old lamps, headboard, bed, mirror, and dresser are still faithfully fulfilling their duty. A side table stole away from the living room and took up residence as a slightly larger receptacle for my nocturnal reading materials and a bargain ($15!) mid-century vintage piece that was totally worth the drive to a tiny Kansas town north of our area is an inconspicuous but practical choice for stowing away Tyler’s manly accoutrements (flashlight, nightstick, grenades: the usual). A new art display hangs over the bed in order to match the new super-sized scale of the wall. Vintage prints and grey textured paper stand in for future art selections. The same curtains from our old bedroom look fresh with new, more substantial curtain rods. The bench epitomizes “repurposed” furniture. Once a dining table, then a coffee table, and now a bench this piece of furniture has been passed through my family for years – more because of its indisputable usefulness than any kind of beauty or sentiment. Now, in a smooth charcoal, I feel it has finally found itself.

A hodge podge of inexpensive finds, family gifts, and DIY projects has created this resourceful, restful haven. With the high ceilings, simple furnishings, and sense of airiness and light, this is currently my favorite place in the house. However, it’s not done yet. Still in the works are a number of other projects including: reupholstering a (different) vintage slipper chair and placing that in front of the mirror, (possibly) purchasing a small table (like Urban Outfitter’s accordian table) and petite lamp for use with the chair, creating storage for jewelry pieces or a romantic candle display on top of the white dresser, sewing a new case for Rory’s bed, finding “real” art for the large frames on the wall, painting the uppermost ceiling alcove, and eventually transitioning to a larger bed with a larger headboard. For now, though, I’m sleeping easy in my cloudy-grey room that is perfectly fulfilling its purpose.

Sources:

Headboard: DIY
Round table: JCPenney
Side table: Vintage
Bench: Family
Dresser: Vintage – Family
Sconces: Pottery Barn
Lampshades: Dillons Marketplace
Curtains: Target
Curtain Rods: Bed Bath and Beyond
Curtain Rings: Hobby Lobby
Photo Frames: Hobby Lobby, Michaels
Chair: Vintage
Mirror: Hobby Lobby
Quilt: Restoration Hardware
Sheets: Bed Bath and Beyond and Pottery Barn
Paint: Olympic

Ugly Duckling

I may have mentioned that we bought a house. Or, I may not have, because as it turns out, when you buy a house you become approximately 14 times as busy as you were before. Between moving, cleaning, sanding, painting, scrubbing, painting, fixing, painting, cleaning, painting, oh – and painting, we have disappeared from the map. I haven’t even had time to keep up with my facebook social life and I mean really, when you are too busy for facebook, you are too busy. In any case, the house that has been keeping us so busy is in the midst of its own duckling-to-swan transformation but before we reveal the after, I thought some of you might like to see what the house looked like before.

There are some aspects of the house I found hideous, such as the deep maroon accent walls in a sloppily painted mélange of drips, drops, and textures that made the color look more “blood-bath” than wine. There are other aspects that are not necessarily to my taste but that are perfectly adequate – for now (such as the plentiful use of builder-grade oak trim and cabinets). There are also aspects that were adequate but that I’ve already changed (such as the sheet glass mirrors above those oak bathroom cabinets) and some that are being changed imminently (I’m talking about you, suspiciously boring “contemporary” chandelier). But, all things considered, it’s a great house and we are very happy with our purchase.

It’s enormous, for starters. Nearly 2,700 square feet. It’s also newer (built in 2006) so there aren’t horrible, scary problems. The insulation is decent and keeps heat in and noise out. The yard could use some major love – but we have one, and it’s nicely sized and situated among friendly neighbors on a lovely cul-de-sac. Most of all, I love how light it is. The airy feeling sold me on the house. Oh, that and getting a ridiculously good deal on the purchase price. Tyler was swayed more by the enormous basement that conjured visions of massive LCD tvs, pool tables, and beer refrigerators, but we all have our price.

We couldn’t have found somewhere as nice as this in the area we wanted so I am pleased to report no buyer’s remorse. There are many things we’d like to do to enhance our little piece of home and I look forward to sharing many, many projects with you as we transform this house from the builder’s vision to our own.

For now, I will leave you with a few photos and the promise that already these pictures are outdated and that I will be sharing the new ones soon!

View of living room, dining room, kitchen from hallway.

View of the living room and front door, hallway from the dining room.

View of the kitchen from the dining room.

View of the kitchen from the laundry room.

View of the master bedroom from the master bathroom.

View of master bathroom from doorway.

View of the office from doorway.

View of office from window.

View of Rory's room (and the windowseat!) from door.

View of Rory's room from corner.

View of upstairs guest bath from doorway.

Upstairs guest bath vanity.

Stairs leading to basement.

View of main basement room from stairs. To the right is a storage room (not pictured).

View of main basement room from the window. You can see the door to the storage room, as well as the stairwell, and the arch that leads to the rest of the basement.

More pictures of the rest of the basement coming soon. There are two more bedrooms, a bathroom, and another large room in the basement.

Pottery Barn Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me – DIY Jewelry Display Frames

A few months ago, I spotted some adorable jewelry “frames” on Pottery Barn’s website and determined to make my own DIY version. With a few coats of white paint and a $0.99 package of cup hooks, I transformed an old picture frame into my own version. It’s true: my jewelry frame doesn’t look just like Pottery Barn’s. The frame (originally bought at Hobby Lobby and used for my wedding) is more substantial and I am not a big fan of antique finishes, so this is pure semi-gloss perfection. I added more hooks (for more storage, duh!), and even considered adding a wire across the bottom for hanging earrings. But, at an investment of less than 1 dollar compared to the $49 large version on PotteryBarn.com, it’s hard to complain with the results. I’m not going to even bother posting a tutorial because this is such a basic project. If you have questions, please ask. I’m happy to help!

I have actually had this project finished and on the wall for several weeks now. It blends in great with our bedroom. We have a small space and I used the same white semi-gloss paint that we used on the trim and on my dresser, so everything is very cohesive. The one surprise that came out of this project? I have a LOT fewer necklaces than I thought! Time for another DIY?

Dining Room Art Project – Phase 1

The dining room recently received a bit of “bling”. (I refer to art and accessories that way, at least until a new word upstages bling in popular culture parlance. If this has already happened and I just didn’t notice, please leave me a comment.) The wall space between the new buffet and our storage shelves was bare. The only accessories? The dimmer and the thermostat. This is not exactly what I would consider a showcase. Enter two fun and inexpensive projects! I ordered a vintage map from Jamaica and cut out a simple mat to showcase it in a very simple “gallery style” frame and then made my own art with a photo project featuring our own gorgeous doggie, Rory! Read on for more!

Continue reading

Dining Room Light Fixture – on the cheap

For months I’ve craved a new dining room light fixture. Being renters, there are many little details we try to ignore (like the ugly ceiling fans in nearly every room), knowing it is not practical or cost-effective for us to change them. However, the dining room was the only room in the house with an overhead light fixture that was not a fan. The fixture wasn’t horrible – just very basic and very… high. My artistic soul cringes at things like bad and ineffective lighting, and although this one worked when you flipped the switch, it provided nothing in the vein of mood lighting. Our dining room could never play host to a relaxing dinner, a romantic spot for dessert, a chill environment for cocktails with friends, or even a cozy spot to sit and jot down a grocery list due to its horribly sad little light, perched all the way up on the ceiling. Installing a dimmer helped somewhat, but did not fix the problem. I’ve dreamed about creating a grand fixture, DIYing something truly impressive. My masterpiece would require books on wiring, saws and wood, paint and all manner of lighting supplies. It would be costly, time-consuming, and possibly life threatening to construct.

On Wednesday, I found a simple white drum shade for $12. My dreams ended, but the reality of a better-lit dining room dawned just over the horizon. Paired with a lantern light kit (originally purchased 5 years or so from Pier 1 for around $5), a simple ceiling medallion (Home Depot for $5) and a hook ($.50), we were in business. Continue reading

Doggie DayBed

Rory, the Queen of Cute.

We recently completed a huuuge project on our to-do list – the “industrial chic pallet daybed” I’ve mentioned. The daybed lives in the office, where it plays host to occasional visits from me and frequent lounging from Rory. I have since rechristened this piece of furniture the “doggie daybed”. The daybed itself is awesome – Tyler built it, so of course it would be. The base is made from reclaimed shipping pallets and Tyler took this project a step further, using an extra pallet for scrap wood so he could build extra support for the base. This thing is sturdy. We bought a twin mattress (and a waterproof mattress protector-note the drool spot in the photo between Rory’s paws) for the top.

I ordered a daybed cover from West Elm to bring the whole piece together. That sounds like an awesome idea, except that to my chagrin, West Elm skimped on the construction of said cover, using BUTTONS (buttons?!) on the short end to construct an impossible envelope instead of using a zipper on the long end to make for easy mattress insertion. The mattress WILL NOT FIT in their existing pocket. I measured the case and the mattress and the case has plenty of room to accommodate the mattress (we bought the extra-basic thin mattress, not the gigantic pillow-topped ones that are so popular today). After stewing angrily for a few days over this shoddy piece of workmanship, I took matters into my own hands. After 45 minutes with a seam ripper, the cover is successfully on the bed and looks pretty good- from three sides at least ; ). Much better than the wrinkly sheet in the photo, that’s for sure. Of course, the fabric store was out of 100″ zippers so I have basically sandwich bagged the cover around the mattress for the time being, but this is a start. I’ll post soon with final glamour shots and a how-to.