Miscellaneous Stuff

Haley must have been a pretty good girl last year – she had a really awesome Christmas.  When we went to see Santa at the mall in the beginning of December, she very quietly asked him for a Brushy Brushy Baby (whom she had totally fallen in love with at Target just a few days before) and a combine like Grandpa’s.  Santa wound up bringing her both of those things (although, for the sake of practicality, the combine was the toy version of Grandpa’s) … and then he also brought her a bunch of other fun things.  Most notably, a play kitchen that the kid inside of me is totally jealous of!

The kitchen Santa picked for her is the KidKraft Uptown Kitchen in a natural finish.  It is awesome!  We love the size (it’s a little bigger than most which we hope means she won’t outgrow it so fast) and the amazing amount of storage it includes for all of her play food.  We also love the fact that it makes no annoying noises, but still provides for endless pretend play, and that it is just so pretty to look at.

Then, to go with her kitchen, Grandma and Grandpa gave Haley a table and chair set.  They picked the Kidkraft Avalon table and chairs.  And, again, we love it.  The set is super sturdy and it’s sized a little bigger than some so she’ll hopefully be able to get many years of use out of it.  Plus, it’s a perfect compliment to her new kitchen!

After Christmas, we spent about a week playing with all of her new things in the living room by the tree before deciding we really needed to find a permanent home for all of them.  We’d thought about it some before Christmas and realized that we didn’t have a great spot on the main floor for both a kitchen and table and chairs.

We figured the key to her playing with them lots was to put them in a place where we spend a lot of time as a family.  Having them in our kitchen would have been ideal, but we just didn’t have space for them there.  So, our next pick was to move them upstairs where we spend most of our days.  We wound up making some room in our extra big laundry room (which was converted from an old bedroom) by moving out an old tube TV and stand and re-locating our elliptical to the master bedroom.

With all of the extra space we gained, we had plenty of room for Haley’s kitchen, table and chairs, and a few other toys.  It’s such a happy, sunny space (although the cloudy snowy day out the window really doesn’t make it look that way in these pictures!)


The view from the door.


Haley’s new kitchen and table & chairs.

I just love how her table and chairs fits so perfectly under the window.



The other side of the room. Washer and dryer are to the right in this photo.

So far, we haven’t added much to this room besides her kitchen, table and chairs, and a basket of toys that she’s pretty much outgrown, which we’ll probably think about donating soon.  Most of her toys are still on the shelves in her bedroom, which I think helps to keep this space feeling more like a laundry room with a few toys rather than a dedicated play room.  Chad and I were both nervous that creating a “play room” would mean it would always be crazy messy with a million toys all over, but that hasn’t been the case – at least not yet.  I have a feeling as she grows we will need to make sure we do a good job of editing the toys that wind up in there and sticking to a schedule for keeping it picked up and clean.  But, for now, it’s working really well for us.  I have to say we have spent more time in the laundry room since Christmas than I think we have the entire time we’ve lived in the house – this is definitely a more functional use of the space than how we had it before.  We will just need to make sure that Santa brings more moderately sized toys next year – we are officially out of spaces to convert to play rooms.  Ha!

We have worked on a lot of rooms in this house and, with each project, it feels more and more like “us” and less like someone else’s house.  One glaring exception to that is our master bedroom.  Pretty much everything about it needs to be addressed.

The master bedroom

2007 – Right after we moved in.

There is a lot we could easily do to make the room so much nicer and I honestly don’t know why we’ve waited so long.  It’s just one of those things that I think we got used to and it just started to blend into the background – although given the carpet, that’s hard to believe, I know.  We knew it was icky and we’ve talked about how easy it would be to update, but I guess it has just never been a priority.

Anyway, last week, we finally made some changes – we re-arranged the furniture!  I’d like to take credit for the idea to shuffle everything around, but really, we did it for safety.  We had 6 trees cut down in the back yard (pictures coming as soon as everything isn’t under a foot of snow – it was a crazy weekend in the Midwest!) and, before they left, one of the tree guys pointed out a very large, very rotten hackberry tree growing in the ravine and leaning slightly toward the house.

The deadly hackberry tree.

The deadly hackberry tree.

He labeled it a very dangerous tree and said he hoped no one slept in that corner of our house … which, of course, is where our bed was.  We’d never paid much attention to the tree before, but it is in really bad shape (the rot is on the other side).  So, until we can get someone out to take it down, we rearranged our bedroom furniture to be on the safe side.  Not the most normal reason for rearranging furniture, I know.

We originally said the new furniture arrangement would just be temporary until the tree could be taken down, but the change has turned out to be really good.  The room makes so much more sense this way!

Like a good blogger, I neglected to take any pictures before we started moving things around, but, to give you an idea of the layout, here’s what it looked like right after we painted (in 2008).

From 2009.

2008 – After wallpaper removal & fresh paint.

Since then, we’ve had a few more furniture pieces make their way into the bedroom as we bought new for elsewhere in the house – a green couch, a way too small night stand, a console table, etc.  Basically, it had become a dumping ground for furniture that was one step away from leaving our house.

So, when we decided to re-arrange, our goals were to get the bed out of the area that used to be the sleeping porch and to keep it so we could still see the TV from bed. (Gotta have priorities.)  Bonus points if the TV could also be watched from the couch.  (Again, priorities.)  After thinking through a few different options, we wound up moving the bed, mismatched night stands, and a tall dresser with the TV into the first room and made more of a sitting room area out of the old sleeping porch space.


Looking into the bedroom from the doorway.


With this arrangement, we had to block a window with the bed.  We worried about that initially, but the bed just won’t fit anywhere in the room without blocking either a window or the thermostat … and we picked window.  It’s only been a week and this already feels normal to me.  I think if we hang some curtains on that window, it will feel even less strange.  The TV sits on top of the tall dresser opposite the bed.


Dresser, TV, and toys with wheels. (All totally normal for the master bedroom, right?)


The old sleeping porch area then became more of a sitting room, with the couch, coffee table, low dresser, and elliptical.  It feels so fancy to talk about our bedroom having a sitting area.  Ha!


Looking into the sleeping porch / sitting room.




Although we (clearly) have a ways to go to fix up the bedroom, the furniture placement makes a whole lot more sense now.  It actually feels like a bedroom with attached sitting room.  It feels like we had a plan and thought about where the furniture should go instead of just putting stuff where there was room (which was what had happened before).

Looking into the bedroom from the sitting room area.

Looking into the bedroom from the sitting room area.

We love how the bed is so much closer to the master bathroom.  And how the bed and night stand is what you see when you peek into the room while coming up the stairs (rather than looking at a portion of our furniture graveyard).

And, bonus, with the TV where it is, it can actually be seen and sort of watched from the couch.  It needs to be swiveled a little, but it is totally do-able, especially if it’s just on in the background while we play on laptops or iPads.

Obviously, there are still a bunch of things we would ideally change.  We’d actually like to try the TV on a lower piece of furniture – maybe on the lower dresser or a TV stand.  And we need to find an alternate home for all of Haley’s “toys with wheels”.  There’s also this odd corner in the “sitting room” area where we need to install some wall outlets for cable/CAt5 … and then we obviously need to furnish it a little better – maybe the tall dresser could move here if we figure out something different for the TV.


This corner desperately needs some cable management … and different furniture!

And then, of course, there’s carpet, paint, light fixtures, bedding, curtains, night stands that match, pictures for the walls, etc.  But, one thing at a time – and we think the re-arranging the furniture was a good “one thing” to start with.  It has definitely made us think about how to make this a more functional space.

What do you think?  Ever put something somewhere when you moved in and never given another thought to whether that was how it really should be?  Or are we the only ones who still have green floral carpet and mismatched hand-me-down bedroom furniture seven years later?  Please say no.

I was looking through some old pictures a few days back that really got me thinking about how much some of the spaces in our house have changed in the last few years … and I thought it would be fun to take a quick trip down memory lane and look at some “then” and “now” pictures for a few of the most-transformed areas in our house.  So, here goes.  I decided to start with the dining room since it is probably my favorite room in the house, both then and now.

So, here are our “then” pictures, taken the day we moved in (as evidenced by our belongings spread out all over the room) back in 2007.


That’s teal floral wallpaper, with matching fabric, pillows, and even a bunny in a matching dress (remember when those were so popular?) on the window seat.


The wallpaper in here wasn’t really our cup of tea, but it did coordinate really well with everything else (i.e., matching wallpaper, paint, and curtains, flooring) on the main floor of the house and it had been really stylish at one point.  It was just time for the next round of updates.


Even with all of the teal and flowers, I loved this room from the beginning.  I loved the moldings, all the windows, the window seat, the chandelier … it was (and is) the kind of room that makes me love old houses.  I knew there was so much potential in this space and I was super excited to make a few changes that would freshen it up and help it shine again.

We’ve been working on the dining room on and off since the summer of 2009 and I still wouldn’t say we’re done, but I sometimes forget everything that we have done since then.  So, here’s the list.

We …

And, after all of that, here’s what the dining room looks like now:






In a lot of ways, the room is really the same as it was when we moved in.  We’ve just made some updates to the walls and flooring, but I think the difference is huge … and I love our dining room even more now than I did when we first saw it.

There are still some things I’d like to do in this room.  For one, I’d love to add a china hutch.  We have some really pretty old china that I’d love to display and I also think that adding a tall piece of wood furniture in a corner opposite the window wall would help to add some height to that side of the room and balance things out nicely.

A rug is also on my “to do” list for this room.  I was mixed on whether or not I wanted one right after the hardwood floors were finished, so we put felt pads on the table and chairs and moved them back in without one.  The room feels a little echoey now, though, and I think a rug would add some interest and help to warm the space up a little – so it’s on the “someday” list for the dining room.

I’m also thinking we’ll add some shades under the valances that were just installed.  We’d most likely pick  something that completely hides under the valances when they’re up, but we’d like the option to close them after dark or when it’s super sunny, so that’s also on our “someday” list.

And then, of course, there’s the matter of actually decorating (you know – centerpiece on the table, pictures on the walls).  That’s clearly still on the list too – I’ll get there someday.

All in all, though, I’d definitely call the remaining items “finishing touches” and, while I’m looking forward to them, I really think the biggest part of the transformation has already happened.  Here’s one last set of pictures:

Then (this time just after we moved in):


And Now:


It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve come a long way from where we started, wouldn’t you agree?

And, in case anyone is concerned about the fate of our matching teal bunny, worry not – we still have her.  :)


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