Lots of Love,
Megan and I would like to wish you Happy Holidays! We hope you have a fabulous weekend and a Happy New Years. We're taking some time off to spend with our families and recharging from all the craziness that is December. We hope you have a creative and beautiful holiday. We'll be starting 2012 off right here at 2nd and Strand, hope to see you then!
Lots of Love,
While I call this house tour, Real Life, let me also point out that my friends Jenilyn and her husband John are both designers; graphic arts and landscape. So they're not only talented, but also trained. Jenilyn graciously agreed to share some of her favorite bits of their new home. I'll let Jenilyn and the pictures do the talking, enjoy!
I worked long and hard on this kitchen, it probably took more of my energy than any other room in the house. I found our range top on craigslist, got a good deal on our other appliances, and worked for a year trying to get these countertops. I still have not found the perfect pendant lights but these work for now.
Our loft is another favorite. We have a small little family room upstairs with a "cubby" for the kids to climb into and play. This is by far the kids favorite part of the house, I even came upstairs to find that the baby had climbed up the stairs and was playing inside. There are two bedrooms and a bathroom on the other side of the loft. Also, I love the dutch door, it is nice to close the door to keep the baby from going downstairs but still be able to hear them playing. In the afternoons I will take a book and sit on the daybed and read while the kids play in the cubby or with the little kitchen, I love it.
One of the very first requirements we had for our house was to have a wood burning fireplace. So glad we did it.
Our master bath turned out to be me and Johns favorite room, we really didn't have any expectations, and have never had a master bath before so we have just loved it. We found this really cool polished porcelain tile for really cheap and had the tile guy round down all the corners since it didn't come with any bullnose pieces. Since its really big and polished it is really easy to clean since there isn't much grout. We were about a week away from being done with the house and I still hadn't picked out a countertop for the bath, I wanted to use the same marble as the kitchen but the countertop place quoted me an outrageous amount so I was looking for a remnant to use. The countertop place called at the last minute and said they would sell me the extra marble and fabricate the counter at half the price, I said no, how about a third the price and they agreed!
We love having outlets in our drawers, I can keep my blowdryer plugged in and put it back in when Im done, our bathroom finally looks uncluttered on a regular basis.
At the last minute I had our vanity light changed from on overhead light to two wall lights and Im really glad, the light is really flattering and makes it easy to see for putting on make up and doing hair etc.
We kept going back and forth about having two or one sink, but I really wasn't convinced that we would use two, and Im glad we only did one, we really dont use our sink much.
When we were planning our house several people told us that or closet was a little on the small side and that we should maybe make it bigger but we ended up keeping it, and it has been the perfect size. Over all the layout and size of our bathroom/closet is just perfect!
Thanks Jenilyn for sharing all these lovely images with us! Can't wait to see what you come up with next! This house really reflects this couple, they are serene and beautiful people, just like their home. I think my absolute favorite element is the herringbone pattern inside the fireplace, I think every fireplace should look so tailored and rustic and fantastic! And just because I loved the following two pictures from their home, I'm including them too.
One of my absolute favorite things about this Christmas season is drinking hot chocolate. My husband and I look forward to every night, when we put our boys in bed, we immediately make some delicious hot cocoa and kick our feet up for a while. Our favorite brand is Stephen's, but we usually make it our own by adding different kinds of chocolate, or candy canes, other candy, peanut butter... really the possibilities are endless!
One of the best parts of the hot chocolate experience (yes, even in sunny southern California) is wrapping your hands around a beautiful, warm mug. Below are some mugs that would look fantastic on any shelf -
I love the unique details on this cup. Subtle, but interesting.
I've had my eye on these mugs for months. They are very pretty and I like the monogram element to it.
I absolutely love the organic shape to this mug. I have some mugs sort of like this, and I love feeling the shape of the mug in my hand while I sip.
These are teacups, so they are smaller. But I'm loving the fun, lively colors.
All mugs courtesy of Anthropology.
If you are looking for a good home made hot chocolate, try this recipe:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
Directions-Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.
How do you enjoy your hot chocolate? Do you have any favorite recipes or flavors?
My friend Alicia allowed me to rearrange her room while she hosted my family over Thanksgiving Break. I thought I would continue my hands on trend from a distance and answer her husband's calls of, "what else?".
This is a good size space, plenty of seating, plenty of room to move about, and I've already arranged the furniture. My biggest priority would be to add more color. Alicia thoughtfully sent me a fabric swatch. I picked a Benjamin Moore color to go with their drapery and pillow. This color is fernwood, I think it would look lovely on all of the walls in the living and dining room area. I wouldn't use it on the stairway wall, unless you want to paint the hallway this color as well. I think this color is a good way to break up all the medium brown tones; the wood floor, brown upholstery, espresso wood furniture. Luckily all the browns work together, yippee!
I love the idea of adding fabric to the sofa. I found this fabric at Calico Corners, it's a Ralph Lauren madras print. I would buy the fabric and use it on your three seater sofa, just like it's done in the picture below on the right.
Alicia told me that when the Christmas tree comes down there is a bookshelf that will go up against the back wall. At that time I would move the square ottoman over to help anchor the corner. I would use a round coffee table with visible legs, like the one below. I like this table because it is light and airy, but still substantial looking. The sofas are quite large, so they need a big coffee table to keep everything in balance.
In order to further delineate the conversation area I would add an area rug that follows all of the rules we talked about here. I like the one below; it adds color, and the pattern helps break up a lot of the square lines in the room.
To further break up the right angles of the room I would add the following inexpensive wall decor to the area above the storage cabinet.
I would also consider moving the cabinet closer to the love seat, and adding a lamp. This storage piece definitely needs some height to it, and this bright lamp from West Elm would really pop nicely off the fernwood wall as well as add reading light to a comfy seating area.
My favorite things I found for this room are the pillows below. The first pillow is FANTASTIC, and it's on sale. I truly love this pillow for Alicia's room, it's got great colors, a not too linear stripe, and texture too - a winner all around!
But I also love the following two accessories for the window area, what a great spot for some glass.
If you love any of these items just click on the images and you'll be taken to a retail website.
**If you'd like to have a 2nd opinion featured on this site (help with a room, furniture selection... the possibilities are endless!), click here!
Journals can be pretty special possessions, don't you think? Just like most things in life, it takes time along with some dedication for it to become a regular part of your routine. My mom got me this 10 year journal a little over a year ago, and it really has been one of the best presents I've ever received. In this particular journal, it gives you four lines per day to write in (with extra pages after each month if you want to write more). This is the perfect amount of space for me because it only takes minutes, and you can just focus on small important aspects of your day... cause lets be honest, writing about laundry/making food/cleaning is only so interesting : ). It's so fun to have written in it for just over a year now (okay definitely not every day) and being able to write in it now while looking back on what I wrote a year ago. Very fun, and I will always appreciate this thoughtful gift.
I have a family blog, but having a journal allows me to be a little more personal in my memories I want to document. Things I focus on are:
- notable events
- something new I've learned
- someway I feel like I've grown
- simple things my kids say or do that I want to remember (what I usually write about)
- hardships (not that I have many, but I know I will look back on my time as a young mother of small kids with a lot of joy even through the frustrating times)
You know the common question, "If there was a fire in your home, what would be the first items you'd grab on your way out?" Well, also on the theme of journals, I have two journals from my childhood that are some of my most prized possessions. When my siblings and I were younger, my Dad kept journals for us. He would update them a few times a year while on airplanes since he had to travel a lot. He said writing journals for all 6 of his kids while we were young made him not feel as guilty about having to travel so much, and made him feel closer to us while he was gone. I have two different books, and I can't tell you how much love I feel for my dad each time I read through them. Reading things like my birth story from my dad's perspective is pretty funny!
So this Christmas if you are looking for a thoughtful gift to give, consider a beautiful journal. I would like some instructions in it (make it for your kids, write about times your felt joy throughout the day, a travel journal, etc) because sometimes when given a notebook its hard to know what to do with it at first.
Listed below are some beautiful journals to look great on your bedside table -
Tagged Bouquet Journal from Anthropology
'Live Life To The Full' Panama series book from Smythson
Writing is Wonderful Journal from Ruche
Valise Journal from Anthropology
Suzy Jack Lined Notebook from See Jane Work
Ring Binder from Ferm Living
A classic, more masculine, Moleskine Notebook from Barnes and Noble
Some pretty options, right? I think the main thing with notebooks or journals is you don't need to take them too seriously, because then they can become more of a burden than a blessing. For you other journal writers out there, what do you like to write about?
Sometimes I want to be bold, unapologetic, and fearless with my holiday decorations. These photos are great inspiration if you're feeling similarly.
I've been wanting new table lamps for what seems like a really, really long time. I decided now's the time to get new ones as a Christmas present. And yes, I would be legitimately excited for that. I have a good size bed, but my nightstands are on the smaller size, so I need a table lamp that isn't too large in scale. So which of these do you like?
Obviously there are big similarities with the lamps I've chosen. I would like to be able to keep these for a long time, so I thought more of a neutral color would be nice so if we change out bed pillows, or even our bedding, we wont have to worry about changing our table lamps to match. So what do you think? I need a 2nd opinion.
We have something new at our house for Christmas this year. It's an eighteen month old boy who loves to wreak havoc on anything within reach; his name is Adam. Adam has two older sisters who respected the beauty of Christmas decorations and kept their hands to themselves, I knew better than to expect this behavior from him. So to keep some of my sanity this season I had to think vertically. Here is what I came up with.
My kids thought I was the coolest when I hung this string of lights on our dining room wall. The first night it was up we ate in the glow of the LED lights. I like this idea because it reminds me of a neon light; and while OPEN doesn't seem to fit the bill, JOY does. In order to write the word I used a string of lights, floral wire, and steel cord that I found in the electrical department at my local hardware store. I had a couple sets of extra hands to help hold the wire in place while I formed the letters. I started with the y, and worked backwards through the o and the J. After I had the wire all laid out I went back and used the floral wire to attach the lights to the letters. If you happen to have access to Danny Seo's book, Upcycling, he has some directions you could follow too.
The second thing I changed this year was the tree. I was more scared of backlash on this change. Instead of a great big beautiful tree I opted for something different. I wanted the tree up and out of the way so that my ornaments and my son could live to see Christmas 2012.
We bought a four foot tall live tree that I'm kind of in love with. I love that it smells fantastic, I love that I will plant it in our yard come Spring, and I love that it's contained. I was surprised that I paid less for this live, albeit, smaller tree than my 7 foot fresh cut trees of the past. The tree is not perfect, the branches are, well, organic looking. They jut out in a less than even way, but I don't think I've ever liked one of our Christmas trees more. I think I might try to find some fabric to cover the pot, or maybe decoupage it with tissue paper. I haven't worked out all the details, but I am really happy with the results so far. What are your holiday decoration plans? Do you have an artificial tree or do you hike out and cut down your own? Are fiber optics more your speed? I love them all. Happy Holiday planning! -Andrea
I am a relatively new owner of a console table and am in love. Really, how did it take me so long to get one? They are narrow so they don't take up much visual weight in a room, but are a great way to display pretty things, or use as a needed storage unit like I needed (see the picture below? Yep, I had to have a place to put things!). This purchase was sparked because I didn't like the balance of my living room, which is the room you immediately walk into when coming into my apartment. I felt like there were too many kid things randomly about, with bigger items on the floor in the corner, and smaller items taking up needed room on the bottom rows of our one bookshelf. So after doing a little reorganizing, buying the console table below, and rearranging things I am feeling much better about my balance problem!
The table still needs a little tweaking, but I'm happy that things are well organized and seem to be functioning well, which is the most important thing. Now I have space back on my bookshelf so extra books aren't getting randomly thrown around like they were before because of lack of space. And even though pretty much everything on the console table are kid toys, it still looks organized and nice, so I'm fine with having that whole area for kid items. I think as long as kid toys are displayed in a pleasing way in shared rooms and don't look like they are taking over a significant amount of space, they can fit well in any room they are needed to be in. It would be great if these toys could fit in my boys room... but they can't. And it would be fantastic to have a toy room... but I'm living in a small two bedroom apartment... so thats obviously not happening (but I'm dreaming of one though...) so my living room will still have to serve its many purposes, and thats just fine.
When looking for a console table I knew I wanted one that was long with two shelves (I needed the storage space!), that was a style that could easily be mixed with other design styles. I liked that this is industrial with the metal and roller feet (love that), but has a little rustic feel to it because of the wood, which also helps soften it up a little. I wanted something that was simple yet interesting, with straight, clean lines so this was a good match for me. I bought this at World Market, but Anthropology also has a more expensive option.
If you have a console table, what do you use if for? Is it to display a couple of pretty things or is it packed with things like mine? I'd love to hear what you are using yours for. I'd also love to hear how you balance the adult to kid ratio in your rooms!
Today's 2nd Opinion post was more of a general question. Alicia asked me to collect some ideas on how to wrangle in her toy storage. I think we all have some ideas of what to do with markers and My Little Ponies, even a few balls; but what do we do with doll houses and parking garages? I hope to highlight a few good options for you, and help you clear some space for actual play.
Let me start by saying that in order for your kid's play spaces to look good you have to do some ground work. You need to ask yourself first if your kids actually play with the pieces that you are storing. I've calculated cost per square foot in my house and sometimes the toy just doesn't make the cut. I also really consider where I'm going to keep a toy before purchasing anything for my kids; if I don't have room for it, it can't come home with me.
There are a few things that are just inevitable if you have children; you have a lot of toys to sift through, and you have a budget. I've collected a lot of budget friendly pieces for today's post; I bet you'll see something that works for you.
Let's start small. Good use of knife strips right? Kids toys can look so cool, why not display them. The bright colors are fantastic.
For you DIYers, this design is allows for a lot of variety as well as easy access and doesn't take up table space.
This next item is great because it stacks, is easily accessible for little hands, comes in great colors, and it's cheap too.
I love the patterns on these toy bins. So pretty, not something you usually say about storage.
Do you have space under some stairs or in a dormer window that you're not utilizing, maybe the solution below can work wonders in your space.
Maybe you're under-utilizing a closet. This DIY could save you a lot of space and doesn't cost more than lunch.
Are you handy? Do you like the look of some of the pieces at Land of Nod, but hesitate because of the price? You can buy pdf instructions for this great chicken coop.
I love laundry baskets. My sister in law introduced me to the glory that they are when she dropped off her kids with all their skiing gear piled high in laundry baskets. Although this particular piece is not a show stopper, it is so crazy practical and easy to build it should find a place in your closet or storage room.
Do you need a way to store costumes? Do you have a drying rack?
It's difficult to talk about kids storage without talking about IKEA. So why try? The following suggestions are for those of you have the big pieces to store. Do you have a ride-on indoor toy that could be displayed? Those Radio Flyer cars are cute. Try hanging them on a curtain tie back or hook. I bet it would be cuter than this helmet!
One thing that I've noticed is that big toys; like a doll house or a car track, are more often played with if they are elevated. I would recommend placing a piece of MDF on top of a Trofast storage combination. The surface can be used like a table to make things like train tracks more accessible. IKEA even has just the right size table top that you can purchase at the store.
My all time favorite storage combination from IKEA would have to be the STUVA. So great. You get desk space, closed storage space, table top space, display space, and crazy amounts of storage. Think of all the HUGE toys you could store in those pull out drawers.
The other IKEA piece that must be referenced is the Expedit. I know, I know. I just wanted to show you the best ways I've seen them used. Maybe it can inspire you to mix up one that you already own. I know you have one.
And just in case you prefer a more built in look with a lot less work and a lot less expense, here's some inspiration, and a link to do it yourself. You'd have to be careful to balance such a big piece in a room. Maybe it really flows in the room, or maybe you'd need to do an entire wall - you could always send in a picture for a 2nd Opinion!
And last, but certainly not least; if you are handy I would seriously consider referencing more of Ana White's work. She is some kind of genius. Check out the drawing below. Lovely right? And you could pick your own materials, something that is not an option with IKEA.
Do you have any great storage ideas? Favorite resources? Thanks for asking me about this Alicia, let me know what you guys end up doing.
**If you'd like to have a 2nd opinion featured on this site (help with a room, furniture selection... the possibilities are endless!), click here!