Our Home at Night

We all love seeing photos of beautifully designed, sun drenched homes, right?  I know I’m drawn to those bright, airy spaces that are so often featured in magazines, advertisements, and blogs.

For a few months now, I’ve wanted to share a different approach, featuring night shots to show how cozy a dark home can look.  Honestly, many rooms in our south-facing home do receive a generous dose of sunlight.  But what happens when the sun sinks?  Life still goes on, of course, but rooms don’t lose their beauty without sunlight.

Granted, taking true to life photos that capture the warmth and details is one hundred times more difficult.  Our family room, on the darker north (back) side of the house always feels a bit cozier.


I think it’s a combo of the indirect light, privacy/courtyard feel of the back deck, fireplace, and the surrounding rooms.  Being adjacent to the kitchen certainly feels less formal and more inviting.


Due to the floating furniture arrangement with main walkways around, table or floor lamp cords would pose a tripping hazard.  Instead, we have three different sources of lights; directional can lights above the fireplace, another set angled toward the right wall, and a pair of sconces flanking the door.


A little nook for firewood and family photos is laid back and casual.  How cute would a little lamp look tucked in there?  I may have to make that happen, if I can find a perfect fit.


In the kitchen, a small table and four chairs create a breakfast nook with a vintage globe light above.


In that same area, a built-in hutch cabinet stores pretty dishes and serving pieces, as well as a stocked bar for entertaining.  After I took this photo, I added a set of ceramic house candle holders for a soft, flickering option.


In the main kitchen area, simple recessed can lights shine down on the walnut island centerpiece.


Glass front cabinets are one of my favorite features because the addition of dishes and accessories add character to a utilitarian space.


Our dining room is right off the kitchen, which is where we eat family meals, entertain guests, play games, and do homework.


Finding a light fixture that offered a warm glow was crucial for us, as we wanted a diffused, candle light feel.  In my opinion, bright or downcast lights in a dining room don’t give the ‘come, sit, stay a while’ feel.


As you can see, I need to add another shell over the other picture frame, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this alterative view of our home.

Four Year Home Tour: Part One

In some ways, it’s hard to believe, but today marks four years since getting the keys to this house.  Often, I have to think hard to remember just how (bad some) things were when we moved in.  Others are fresh in my memory since we’ve only recently made changes.  Either way, it’s always fun and satisfying to take a walk down memory lane, if for no other reason than to appreciate how far we’ve come.

Four years feels fast, considering we’ve tackled every room (or are in the process of reworking, as is the case of the basement).  Four years also feels slow, chugging away, waiting for the right time to start projects, or finishing another before moving to the next.  Home is a constant creation, finding each perfect piece and putting it into place.  Overall, we’re both so happy with the progress and love living here, enjoying the views, and are excited to continue our progress.

Okay, enough of the sapiness, on with the then and now tour, starting in the entry.  In the past, I’ve done these tours in one long post, but this one is especially picture heavy so I’m splitting it into two parts; today you’ll see the living areas.

Before felt dark, dated, and dingy.  Those peach walls always looked dirty, the dark wood door and side lights overwhelmed, and an overly intricate Tiffany style light felt stuffy and too traditional.  And the railings, oh the sheer amount of orange toned oak.

New-House-Entry April 13 2012

Swapping the standard height door for a double wide, 8 foot tall one (taken from the dining room) and shorter, transom style window above dramatically brighten and update this small space.


To add interest to the large wall (and cover up the heavy knock down texture), we added tongue and groove planks, painted white, to lighten up and add the good kind of texture.  The stained beige marble floors days are numbered, to be replaced with Montauk black slate.


Replacing the traditional spindle railing for a sleek horizontal design made a huge difference.  A modern, multi arm light juxtaposes with the more rustic elements, like the horns.


Once at the top of the stairs, the living and dining rooms are to the left.  Before, the traditional windows with grids and the eight foot tall door were dark and broke up the beautiful views out front.


New windows, light trim and paint, and bold doses of green add vibrancy to the south-facing rooms.  Ignore the sofa backing the window, it’s here until the basement theater room is ready for it.


Those ornate fixtures, both hanging and the pair of sconces were poorly placed, neither centered on anything.  With the open flow of rooms, the arch separating the entry and living room didn’t make sense.

New-House-Dining-into-Living-Room April 13 2012

Knowing we planned to use this room daily, for tv watching, relaxing, and toy playing, we built a large entertainment center with drawers for ample storage.  Nearly all the boys’ toys are stored in those nine drawers, so it certainly has served its purpose.


Dual mismatched sofas, one leather, the other a slim wood and linen design, face one another, offering plenty of seating.  This arrangement still allows a full view of the mountain and city scene out the windows.


Positioning the leather sofa parallel to the dining room offers a bit of separation of the open floor plan without a formal divide.


Ugh, every time I see this light I remember how many times I smashed my head on that dang thing.  Why the previous owner placed an eight foot tall door in a room with eight foot ceilings, I’ll never know.  Not only does it look awkward, it didn’t allow for a proper header and wasn’t stable.  The bay window sagged over time, making it non functional.


After pulling the door out and installing it in the entry, we swapped the arrangement of window and door, extending the deck over to make a more usable arrangement both inside and out.  A large mission style dining set, centered on the window and door, fills the space.


To further open the floor plan, we knocked out the majority of the wall between the dining and kitchen.  The twelve-foot wide door makes entertaining and daily living even more enjoyable.


Opening the wall also floods the north facing kitchen with natural light.  Dark oak cabinets, 80’s country blue wall paper, and an over sized flourescent light didn’t help this kitchen.  However, it was a large, open size.


Swapping the dated, broken cabinets for sleek white DIY ones really changes the look and function.  A full wall of white Carrara marble brings in natural tones and subtle texture variation.  Dark slate floors are used throughout the house, for continuity and, well, we love the material.


Two more bay windows that couldn’t open properly, yet another gaudy light, and heavy knock down texture on the ceilings were primary offenders.


For the most part, the new layout is very similar to the original.  All drawer lowers keep everything organized and completely accessible.  As much as I adore white kitchens, I like the balance of warm wood tones, so we created a custom walnut island.  As with the slate floors, we’ve used white tongue and groove boards in designs around the house.  The ceiling here was textured, cracked, and had several holes from lighting.  Rather than painstakingly skim coating the ceiling and hoping it didn’t crack again, we put up our favorite material to hide the flaws.


A wall of floor to ceiling cabinets made a main walkway even smaller, and made a not so fun Ring Around the Rosie game to get pantry staples out.

Family Room Before

After opening up the wall, we still had about seven feet of space off to the side.  For added function, we built a bar/hutch in this space.


Vases, extra dishes, and overstock liquor are stored below, leaving the upper for pretty dishes and a fully stocked bar.


At the back of the house is our family room, previously seen with a dirt covered moss rock fireplace, an unused nook, and broken windows.  For reference, the arched doorway to the right leads straight down the stairs.


Covering the fireplace, adding a wood burning insert, and shelves in the nook, are all changes we love.  We also replaced the old, broken windows with energy-efficient functioning ones.  It’s nice to be able to open windows in here to get some air movement.


Another open layout, the family room backs up to the kitchen and breakfast nook.  Yet another arched divider that didn’t fit the style of the house.

Landing on the most useful, functional furniture arrangement in this room surrounded by walkways wasn’t easy.  After trial and error, testing, and rearranging, this layout has proven to work.  Sofa backing the room, large stump coffee table centered, with two modern chairs flanking the fireplace still leaves walk space.



Bedrooms and bathrooms will come tomorrow, so stay tuned to see those changes.  To see the progression of these spaces over the years, check out the first year, second, and last year.

It hasn’t been an overnight transformation, but I’d say each room is at least 90% finished.  Most of the changes I want to make are simply waiting to find the right furniture or accessory to finish it off.  A larger rug for the living room.  Perhaps a different set of chairs around the breakfast table.  A bench at the foot of our bed, but nothing major.  Nope, the main level is feeling like home.  The basement now, that’s a different story.  Don’t even get me started on the pool house situation-haha.

Green and Plaid Thanksgiving

Each Thanksgiving, I combine plates, glasses, and silverware we already have with a few new pieces to create a table setting.  In 2011, we had a navy and gold theme, complete with DIY’d bread boats.

Thanksgiving 2011 Place Setting

2012 was the year of neutrals including gray, gold, copper, and wood.

Thanksgiving 2012 Table Setting Candles

In 2013, seemingly to make up for the lack of color the previous year, I went color crazy with cacti, pink, orange, yellow, and red.


This year, fresh and simple won me over.  Plain white plates and bowls, clear glasses and silver flatware are always my base layer.  To shake things up and create a different look, I add color through the centerpiece, napkins, and accents.


After spotting a black and white flannel in the fabric store, I knew it’d make the perfect runner.  Along with mustard yellow printed fabric to create napkins.



In place of flowers, I went for practicality in the form of living herbs.  Not only does the potted greenery brighten the table, we can use the fragrant leaves to season the meal.


Green stemmed goblets continue the color around, and are my most recent dish addition.


In place of standard candle holders, I popped tea lights into black and gold plaid tumblers from Target.  Perfect way to use the decor after the holiday.  Shallow leaf-shaped bowls are used as butter dishes and scattered around the table along with hand carved wooden knives.


For a little warmth, wooden coasters, made by my brother-in-law as wedding favors, are mostly decorative.


All that’s left to do is get everyone over, make the food, and enjoy the company.  This is the first big holiday meal we’ll get to create in our remodeled kitchen-those double ovens and extra burners should come in super handy.

Green with Envy

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving yesterday.  We ate a lot and I think we laughed even more, so you know it was a good night.  And thank you all for your supportive, nice comments about the finished siding, too.  I plan to share more pictures and info as the siding rusts.  We’re interested to see how long it takes.  Come spring (and warmer weather) we may want to speed up or even out the finish.  Oh, Beth, you’re the winner of the luxurious Frette robe!  Congrats!

Now, to some indoor progress.  Before we could hang our new curtains, I had to fill, caulk, prime, and paint the trim around the windows.  Following Murphy’s Law, my touch up paint didn’t match the wall color.  Mental note: never buy paint at Wal-Mart again.  That lead to buying another custom matched gallon (thanks to the talented paint folks at Home Depot) and painting the window walls all over again.  Eesh.  So much for a quick job.


Anyway, I got it done and then it was curtain time.  I measured the length and hemmed all eight panels about three inches.


For the large front window, I use four panels to get enough width to close completely.


The remaining two windows are narrow enough for one panel on each side.


These World Market curtains have a rod pocket as well as back tabs.  We like the look of tabs better because it allows the panels to bunch nicely when open.


It’s such a welcome addition of color to an otherwise mostly neutral space.


Living without curtains feels a lot like being in a fishbowl.  We’re thankful for privacy and a new look.  And you know, finished windows.  Baby steps.

Panoramic Views

More often than not, Ben and I are totally fine working on projects together.  By now, I know how he thinks and am usually decent at predicting what he’ll need and how I can help.  Then there are times that I feel completely and utterly useless.  As was the case when removing and replacing the large living room window.  Here’s an older picture to help you remember what the wooden gridded window looked like.


It’s huge, measuring 10 feet wide and 5 1/2 feet tall.  Even though it’s divided into three sections, that middle piece is heavy.  Long story short, getting that big piece out without causing us or surroundings damage was stressful, but well worth it.  Not only does it match the rest of the windows now, it’s no longer a focal point.


(How am I just now noticing how off center the couch is?)  Before, the darker wood looked heavy and the grids broke up the view.  Without the break up, it feels bigger and brighter, while putting the attention on the views.


Framing, trim, and touch up paint still happen soon, too.


The new window isn’t the only panoramic view going on now.  We finally have a real dining light.  Specifically, the Panorama Chandelier from West Elm.  Not sure why, but it says no longer available.  Strange, I just ordered mine on the 14th.


It caught my eye months ago while browsing, but I nixed it because I thought the open bottom would cast a harsh light directly into our eyes.  Almost with laser beam precision, burning our retinas.


After sharing other options, a few lovely ladies asked why this one wasn’t on the list.  Which made me reconsider my quick nix of this beauty.  Then I saw the 20% off lighting sale, and I had a 15% off coupon, so it hopped in my cart for $300 with shipping.


It doesn’t disappoint.  Straight lined and simple, but the speckled mirrored glass is slightly glam and looks much like mercury glass.  Dark metal is a nice match to the West Elm entry light, too.  (See one of the arms in the reflection?)


Inside, there’s a slightly golden tinted layer that bounces the light around and makes the glow warm and soft.


Without a diffuser, the light still isn’t in our eyes when seated.  In fact, even I have to crouch down a little to see the bulbs.


Three 25 watt bulbs are adequate to light the table, but not overpowering or blindingly bright.


We can finally eat in here now that the sun is setting earlier.  Three cheers for function and beauty.


We’re nearing the end of our siding, so hopefully that wall will get a spray of texture and paint soon.  Good thing the light helps draw attention away from the unfinished-ness.