Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 213's odd couple

In all of the excitement about the new house and potential kitchen renovation, I noticed a pattern. Wes and I were going through my dream kitchen images, it became apparent that I like the look of a Saarinen tulip table with a banquette and some funky chairs, just for fun.

Now this is exactly why I have so much fun looking at and hanging on to pictures from magazines and Web sites. It really helps me narrow down the styles I like and inspires future decisions and purchases. There are so many options for home decor that shopping without a clear vision or goal can be really overwhelming. It's much simpler to define your style as best you can and then hunt for pieces that fit your vision.

The best way to do this is to get your hands on as many images as you can, and store the ones you like. It's really fun to see patterns in those you keep (and occasionally wonder what in the world you were thinking when you cut out a picture). One thing I wish I started doing sooner is hang on to the source information as well. If you are dying for a chair but have nothing but a picture, it does you little good. Sourcebooks should be your best friend!

This unintentionally turned into a tutorial that most of you probably don't need. So, without further ado, my favorite breakfast areas:

This is where it all started. Cottage Living published interior designer Lisa Rowe's house last year (I think), and I put the entire home into my "favorites" file. She miraculously created a kid-and-pet-friendly home without compromising an ounce of style. I totally dig her charcoal-gray living room and (you guessed it) her blue bedroom. Her recommendation on the durability of a velvet sofa inspired one of our recent purchases.

But what I love most are these kitchen chairs! I will die of joy if I ever come across vintage beauties like these.

This image is from, but (sadly) that's all I know about it. I'm pretty sure Wes and I could build something simple like this, and just imagine the storage options! Stay tuned for that.

Cottage Living staffer Lindsay Bierman has got killer taste. You can't really see his Saarinen table because it blends so well in his fab all-white kitchen, but it's there. And it's nestled up to a ridiculously handsome custom banquette decked out in plaid wool that's to die for. Mmm yes sir.

Click here for a personal tour of his newly-renovated kitchen (don't miss the driftwood lamps!)

After my speech about sourcing, it's only fair that I help you out. You can find reproduction Saarinen tables at all price points at Design Within Reach and Ikea. Try Ballard Designs or Wisteria for chic Louis XVI-style dining chairs like Lindsay's.

And if I were a good little blogger, I would proceed to wax poetic about the history and relevance of Saarinen's furniture. But ... this post has gone on long enough, don't you think? Inquiring minds may click here or here learn more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 212's wish

Happy Birthday, BA!

My sweet baby sister is 20 years old today, and I cannot believe it! She's currently in the middle east teaching English and we can't wait to celebrate with her and hear all about her adventures when she gets back in February. Love you seester!

{ Photo: here we are in reverse birth order - BA, Allie, me - on Thanksgiving }

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 211's suburban nightmare

The house hunt was officially on this weekend. I've been apprehensive about this since the beginning, knowing that the odds were good we were going to come up short in terms of our dream home. Okay, it's our first house, I can deal with short. I can deal with Clinique-green bath tiles and ripping out some ugly flooring. I even welcome the chance to paint some walls and trim.

What I'm not sure I can deal with is suburbia. In the interest of getting "more house for the money," we compromised our original plan and extended our search further out of town. Not that much further, but still further than I ever, ever wanted to go (Vestavia Hills, for you past and present Birminghamians). And then we kind of struck gold. 1959 suburban rancher gold.

Most of the house is great. It has a big yard (that's even relatively flat -- remember the Hills part?) It's a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house, which is a great size for resale, and exactly what we were hoping for. The hardwood floors in all of the rooms look fantastic, and all of the walls are nice, neutral colors that we would happily live with until time and budget allowed a change. The public school system is excellent. The water heater and the H-VAC are all new, and the roof's in great shape -- at least as far as we can tell. There is the small matter of the seriously outdated and inefficient kitchen, the truly heinous kitchen floor (peeling linoleum tiles meant to look like parkay wood) and the pink and blue toilets. But, as aforementioned, we're not afraid of a little renovation challenge. Wes has been around the construction industry his entire life, and my family owns a home-building business. What we can't do ourselves we'll have no trouble finding a good contractor for. We even started dreaming up kitchen options on some graph paper last night.

So what's the problem, you ask?

I'm not sure if I can even put it into words. The neighborhood is just lacking a little something -- an element of charm that starts with good, classic taste and adds adds a few decades of life. I've always envisioned my 30-year-old self jogging around a quaint little neighborhood full of eclectic architecture, huge, mature tress, and then stopping for a cool beverage at the local corner store. Now, the neighborhood in question is totally jog-able, which was high on my priority list. And it's not bad to look at. It's not exactly picturesque, but it does seem to be on the upswing, as far as updating the exteriors go. And it's safe, which isn't always the case in the more charming, but affordable, Birmingham areas.

I really cherished the time I spent off-campus in Auburn. I shared a drafty old house with four others girls, and it was awesome. We could walk to class, to eat dinner, to shop downtown, to get ice cream, to buy books, to go to the bars, -- to do basically anything you'd want or need to do. I guess I just so desire that kind of lifestyle again. I'm not even completely convinced that we can get all of that in Birmigham, but this house, as wise an investment as it may be, just seems so, so far from that dream.

In my head I know that we at least need to make an offer on this house. It's basically an offer we just shouldn't pass up. I even know that I would come to love and enjoy the house. And though we'll be paying out our lease until June, the market is just too prime to not take advantage of right now. Ahhh decisions, decisions ...

Thanks, Ron Chapple, for the lovely image.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 208

It's freezing here, and all I want to do is curl up in front of a fire and read a book.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 206's blog crush

I realize it's basically counter-productive to send you to another blog, but, run, don't walk, over to Simply Breakfast: The Art of Breakfast and tell me you don't love it. It's so ... well, simple.

I'm feeling list-ish today, so here are my thoughts after scrolling through a few pages:

1. I should get up earlier. Instead of pop-tarts on a paper plate I could have this.
2. I need a new kitchen table. Mine wouldn't look as cool as her's (wow, am I 13 again??).
3. Is the February issue of Real Simple on the newsstand yet?
4. Where can I take a photography class?

**Update: check out her Etsy shop

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day 205's goofy cat

I'm sure none of you care, but I was going through the pictures from the weekend (more on that later) and found these. I was making dinner last week and Peepers the Cat was going crazy running around the house. We think he only likes to play when he has an audience, so he gets pretty wild when we come home in the evenings. Anyway, he was determined this night to explore the vast world behind the washing machine and water heater. Not so vast a space, as he found out.

His meows were pretty pathetic, but I must not have been too concerned, as I snapped quite a few pictures (what else am I going to take pictures of on a Wednesday night?).

Don't you worry, he's fine. And about 6 minutes after I rescued him from certain death, he was trying to figure out how to get back there again. Stupid cat.

Day 205's flirty finds

I don't really consider myself super-feminine. I like to decorate with blues and grays and dark finishes, and I love kind of manly pieces of clothing like well-tailored suits and navy peacoats. Which is why my affinity for most things ruffled is puzzling. I think this anthropologie shower curtain set it off. I need to just break down and buy it, even though my shower is curtained.

Pretty, but restrained, ruffles are appearing for spring, which makes me quite happy. A graphic print and ruffles? Yes please.

I know that Wes will never, ever ever go for this, but I'm attracted to it, nonetheless. Maybe in 40 years for grandma-me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 201's trip

We're headed to the north Georgia mountains to spend the long weekend with some pals, hot chocolate and hopefully, some SNOW. The threat of a winter storm has the entire southeast waiting in anxious anticipation for some of that lovely white stuff. Or maybe that's just me. In any case, road condition permitting, we might even make a quick trip to North Carolina and do a little skiing. I'm so excited I bought some Under Armour on my lunch break! Not that I've ever had my feet in a pair of ski boots should be interesting, to say the least!

Happy Weekend, hopeful snow bunnies!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 200's knock-off

Look familiar?

It's not Kelly Wearstler, but it is $39.95.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 197's exciting/scary prospect

Wes and I have a bonafide appointment with a realtor to look at a house this evening, and I'm already sweating about mortgage payments. I mean, we still have 5 months on our lease so this is really just to start testing the waters, but still.

The house is about three blocks from our apartment (which rocks because we love our 'hood) so I noticed a "open Sunday" sign on a drive-by last week. We made a appearance yesterday, but the sign must be old, because it was definitely not open. We walked around - it has a really charming little back patio, though the rest of the yard could use some work - and were pretty pleased with what we could see. It's definitely a fixer-upper (hooray!), but the price reflects that, and we can't really afford our dream house at this point (pictured above ...sigh ...).

It's all very exciting, and very scary at the same time!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 194's early gift

Last Saturday may have been Wes' birthday, but I was the one who got the gift! Actually, it's an early birthday pressent for me - the day of my birth is in February.

I was browsing a favorite local antiques mecca with some out-of-town friends (basically trying to convince them to move here!), when I spotted this lovely pair of antique Venetian glass lamps. I have walked away from a thing or two at this shop before, only to miss out, so I knew better this time. I took them home on approval and announced to Wes that afternoon that, to his relief, I had taken care of his birthday present to me. I'm such a good wife.

Check out the retro plugs!

They do work, although having the wiring updated is probably a good idea, and I can't use them until I get some shades anyway. In doing some research for this post, I'm seeing that the going theme for shades is a basic drum, but mine are much smaller, so I don't know if I'll be able to get the proportion right. I can't wait to try! And I'd eventually love to have the brass bases replaced with a lucite disk, a la Jan Showers, but that might just have to wait until my next birthday.

Jan Showers, Venetian series #3, moonstone

The other "gift" of the weekend was the pleasure of the company of the dear friends who drove in from Charlotte just to see us. We caught up, reminiced, tried a new restaurant, laughed and ate birthday cake together - all in all, a fantastic weekend. Unfortunately, we were too busy to snap a picture of ourselves, so all I have is this one, taken on our last official night out together in Auburn, just before 5 of the 6 graduated. PTL for good friends.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Day 193's first

I just made my first Etsy purchase, and I have a sneaking feeling it's the first of many.

I've had my eye on these Anne Harwell notecards for quite a while, and when I saw "1 in stock" today, I couldn't resist. I'm sure more will come, but hey, I'm a sucker. My cube walls could use a little life, so I think I'll pin them up. Hooray!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Day 191's apparent obsession

Wes played poker with some guys from work last week (and came home with $140!), so I took the opportunity to meander through my files of magazine clippings, and flip through a few issues I haven't fully taken in. I started to notice a pattern, and it was confirmed this morning as I scrolled through my digital files. Apparently, I have some sort of weird obsession with blue bedrooms. Have a look.

Photographed for Southern Accents, the dramatic bed clearly makes a statement. I like the white shade on the white Christopher Spitzmiller lamp. Very cool.

I love this one. I snagged the image from a Birmingham real estate Web site (strange, I know), so I have no idea who was responsible for it. It's so classic and comfortable, and I love old sunburst mirrors - they're much prettier than the ones I grabbed at TJ Maxx ...

This Berrie Benson-designed room is another favorite. It's quite cheerful, but looks restful, too. The 'Imperial Trellis' curtains give currency to an otherwise classic room.

I think when I have a guest room to decorate, I'm going to do it in robin's egg blue and red, like this room from Cottage Living. Red is a bit much for me in a room I would spend a lot of time, but I love this combination. If it's in the guest room, I can go in and look, but I don't have to sleep there. Perfect!

Clearly, I have several favorites, because this is one too. The bedside tables, the lamps and possibly even the throw pillows don't match, they go. Further proof that your home doesn't have to come in one bag to look cohesive (although, we already knew that, didn't we?). Image from

I actually have my own blue bedroom at home, no doubt inspired in part by these. Currently, there are no sheets on the bed, there's a box of Christmas decorations (that mysteriously haven't made it into the attic) on the floor and there's a pile of laundry in the corner, but when all of those things are taken care of, I'll snap a picture and share it with you.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Day 187's dream

I'll take two of you, Chatfield chair from Ballard Designs:

And if you would, please arrive clothed in this lovely crewel:


Day 187's distraction

Just, oh, yesterday, I mentioned that I needed to tighten up on my finances and thus would forget that there is a Banana Republic basically across the street from my office and adjacent to multiple fast-food vendors. So far so good. Problem is, I sit at a computer all day, and when my mind wanders, so does my mouse. Today, it wandered to j.crew's lovely Web site and straight to these:

I have been scouring both Birmingham and the world wide web for a terrific pair of winter boots for about a year. A year. There are plenty of boots out there, but most are too shiny, embellished, high, low, hooker-ish, cowboy-ish or expensive for me. Until these. I haven't come close to grabbing my wallet yet, but I already feel like Monica Gellar when she names her fabulous new boots something along the lines of "I don't have any money in the bank, but I've got great boots"-boots. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I've been looking for a pair since that episode aired live on Must-See-TV.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Day 186's resolution

I hope I’m not digging myself in too deep here, but this year, for once, I have a hefty list of “New Year’s Resolutions,” for lack of a better term. I haven’t formulated much of a plan yet (which is probably a bad sign), but I’m thinking maybe I’ll tackle them one month at a time.

First off, I’ve got to get rid of a few pounds. As cliché as it is, it must be done. 2006 was great. I lost about 15 or so pesky pounds that I acquired during college, and I did it the right way: I went to the gym, I cut Dr. Pepper out of my diet (well, for the most part anyway) and I reduced my meal portions. It was surprisingly easy, and I got rid of all my clothes with double-digit sizes on the label. Best of all, I felt GREAT. I was a lot more comfortable and I felt strong and healthy – like I could do anything.

I don’t know what happened in 2007. Well, I guess I do. Nothing. I got some combination of complacent and busy, and suddenly all of my pants are freakin’ tight. Gah. It’s time to get serious. Wes bought this trainer deal for his uber expensive bike so he can ride it in spite of weather and traffic, so I’ve vowed to get back to the gym, even though it’s not as geographically convenient as it once was.

This brings me to number 2. If I’m going to be spending more afternoons at the gym, I’ve/we’ve got to get a better handle on the housework. Doing piles of laundry, stacks of dishes and sweeping up mounds of cat hair isn’t my idea of a relaxing Saturday, so the only solution I can come up with is just to nip it in the bud during the week. I’m not the neatest person in the world, so it’s definitely going to be a feat to convince myself to put things away after I use/wear them. Convincing Wes to do the same will be conquest all it’s own ...

I don't really have a choice on number 3. The first car payment is due in t-minus five days, and I'm already feeling its strain on my pocket book. No more lunch-hour trips to Banana Republic. Dangit.

There are a few more things I'd like to improve in 2008, but this list is already giving me the hives, so that's it for now.

Happy New Year!