A New Rug or Two

This little update has literally been years in the making, so I’m stupidly excited about it.  As such, many pictures are included in this post, be warned.

Now this is the story all about how our living room got flipped-turned upside down*:  this week, our house benefitted by the addition of not one, but two new rugs.  I know that seems stupid and insignificant, but rugs are something Ben and I often disagree about.  He wants sink in softness, I care more about size and design/color.

The only reason it took me so freaking long to order this was because I had pined for the Marquis rug from West Elm.  For whatever stupid reason, West Elm doesn’t have a product review feature on their site.  Ugh, when ordering site unseen, those reviews are really crucial in the decision-making process!  I tried to see it in person, strike one.  Order a sample?  Strike two.  I finally decided to ask the people who had featured the rug on Instagram for their opinion-the reviews were not great.  Strike three, the Marquis was out.

So, I went with my fall back option, a 9 by 12 Moroccan Trellis rug that I, and apparently everyone else, recently snagged for under 300 bucks.

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The boys helped me place it, rolling across it to ‘steam roll’ the curved edges.  They even ‘helped’ me move the furniture back in place.

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Yes, this rug is popular, but for good reason(s).  First, the neutral design.  The reason the Marquis was appealing was the neutral color scheme with subtle geometric pattern.  This rug has both features, but was less than half the price!

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Secondly, that price!  Like seriously, how do you pass up a giant rug for $300, plus free shipping?!
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Third, the five-star rating with nearly 400 reviews.

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The only negatives I read were about the color, which wasn’t as white as some wanted.

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A true white rug wouldn’t work in our house with our kids, but the slightly oatmeal tone pairs beautifully with our leather and linen sofas.

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Do I feel the same as other reviewers?  Absolutely, so far, I have zero regrets ordering this rug.  Considering the rug was under $300, it’s far more plush/thick than I anticipated, though still not crazy thick.  I added a felt rug pad below to give that sink in cush Ben really wants.

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Unlike the Marquis rug, this is polypropylene instead of wool, but it’s still incredibly soft underfoot.

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Finally, we have a rug that all legs of the furniture can rest on.

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AND, it looks great.

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Despite being a trendy design, I think the neutral base will work well and look great for years to come.

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Go on down those stairs and you’ll see the Trellised Garden runner for our garage entrance/mud nook.

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When setting out my search, I wanted an easy to vacuum/not thin, subtly patterned, dark, but still colored rug.  With all the neutrals in this area, I thought a navy or deep green rug would liven things up.

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Again, this rug is polypropylene, so it can stand up to heavy traffic and isn’t too precious to use in this area.

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Unlike so many new made-to-look-old/worn/faded rugs, this has a smaller ‘wear’ patterns.

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Not only is this pattern forgiving, but it also looks more realistically aged than others I’ve seen.  All in all, I give these rugs two very enthusiastic thumbs up.  And I’m kicking myself for taking so dang long to make up my mind.

*One million bonus points to you if you recognized and sang the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.

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A Fan of Fans

Ahh, ceiling fans, the most love it or hate it ceiling fixtures in homes.  We’ve pulled a few uglies out of spaces, despite their usefulness.  This faux wood, detailed, three light version quickly made its way out the door.

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I created a simple fixture made from PVC pipe, wire, and spray paint which has served well over the last few years.

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Recently though, Ben mentioned that he’d like a ceiling fan in our bedroom again.  It’s so rare that Ben asks for something specific (design wise) so I try to figure out a way to make both of us happy.  With the ceiling fan request, I scoured the internet to find something sleek, modern, with a light, that didn’t cost and arm and a leg.  I came across this Contemporary 52 inch Brushed Nickel 2 Light fan priced at $135.99 and saved it in an email and continued searching.

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I always save my favorites in an email, just to see if I stumble on something I like better, but I can easily come back to make my decision.

While searching, I saw zillions of options, where I quickly noticed I preferred three-bladed fans most.  That’s not to say I didn’t like some with four or more blades.  Generally though, ones with more blades felt more traditionally designed or, I don’t know, busy?  Spoiler alert, I ordered the one above, we installed it over the weekend, and so far, we’re liking it.

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After sharing a photo on Instagram and getting requests for sources, I realized I wasn’t the only one struggling to find a decent looking, affordable fan.

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Here’s a round-up of some that I saved in my search, for anyone that’s in the market.  First off, ceiling fans with lights.

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  1.  44″ Casa Vieja Trifecta in Brushed Nickel for $249.99
  2. 52″ Minka Aire Light Wave in Silver, but also comes in Distressed Koa and White for $279.95
  3. 52″ Monte Carlo in Rubberized Black for $286.00, comes in other finishes
  4. 42″ Moderno in Satin Nickel for $199.81
  5. 60″ Railey LED Fan in Brushed Nickel for $159.00

Sometimes, you don’t need a fan with a light, so if that’s the boat you’re in, here are a few options.

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  1.  Modern Ball Ceiling Fan in Brushed Aluminum for $316.00
  2. 52″ Minka Aire Kewl Fan in Black for $114.95
  3. 52″ Minka Aire 3 Blade Fan in Brushed Aluminum for $179.95

Although our front deck with full covered roof is technically finished, there are still a few things we need to tie up or are considering adding.  Ceiling fans are on the list, either a single centered on the middle door or a trio, all centered on the sliding doors.

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I’m still researching exactly what I want, but here are my front-runners.

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Outdoor fans:

  1.  52″ Hunter Cassius Outdoor Fan in Matte Silver Finish for $99.00
  2. Bentley II 18″ Oscillating fan in Brushed Nickel for $139.00
  3. 72″ Casa Velocity in Brushed Nickel for $134.95
  4. 54″ Fanimation Semi Flush 4 Blade in Brushed Nickel $179.95

Clearly there’s a lot of variety here, but each is so cool in its own way.  I’m leaning toward black, but that 72 inch fan is a beast and I’m sure it can move some serious air.  I’ll keep you posted on the decision, but ever so slowly, I’m kind of becoming a fan of ceiling fans.  Where do you fall on the subject?  I know people in southern areas swear by them, but in our northern climate, they’re more of an option.

A Deck Makeover & Cozy Outdoor Lounge Area

Four years ago, when we bought this house, it came with a large front deck and a paver patio.  Without adjectives, both spaces sound lovely.  I’m sure the paver patio was beautiful, but the lack of maintenance, weeds, and tree roots took a toll.

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Replacing windows and siding was a priority, but before that could happen, we had to excavate a foot of dirt back here, build a low deck, and only then could we hang siding.  In home remodeling, each project seems to hinge on another aspect being ready.  Though we didn’t want to tackle landscaping first, it did give us a baseline to seamlessly transition siding.

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None of that is new, and has been featured several times before.  But, there’s another deck that hasn’t been shared since move in, until today.  Before getting into the afters, here’s a look at the condition the front deck was in when we took ownership:

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In a word, woof.  The railing that was so far from code/safety requirements, benches along the edge were uncomfortable and took up useful space, rotting/spongy joists, and splintered deck boards didn’t exactly make this space enjoyable.  It certainly had potential, but thanks to other more important projects, we just got around to rebuilding it last summer.  Due to the technical aspects, this isn’t a deck building tutorial.  Rather, it’s the kind of television makeover before and after without the work, sweat, and wait-surprise!!

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Clearly, a lot has changed.  Everything, in fact.

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We completely demoed the structure, rebuilding to meet or exceed code standards to ensure longevity.

Update: A reader emailed me, wanting to similarly cover an outdoor space, asking if/how much light the solid roof blocks?  Since others might have the same concerns, here’s my answer and our rationale why covering the deck was worth it.  This entire deck fronts the pool house, not our normal living space.  Since it is a pool house, it has 8 skylights, normal windows, and four sliding glass doors that flood the space with light, so the deck roof hasn’t changed the lighting too much.  Yes, it’s a touch darker, but totally worth the added usable outdoor living area and not becoming the human version of a roasting marshmallow.  That said, I don’t think this is the perfect solution for all outdoor spaces.  Before adding a cover, consider the size and orientation of the windows/doors and the room(s) it will potentially darken.

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Redwood deck boards are smooth and splinter free, the railing is not only safe, but offers more privacy, not only to the deck, but the (currently nonfunctional) pool inside.  At 36 inches tall, the railing still doesn’t block the city/mountain views.  Instead, it hides just the street and houses across, even when seated because our house is on a steep hillside.  Thanks to the southern, full sun exposure, we decided to add a full roof, keeping the area as cool as possible.  When we swapped the dining door placement, we created a four-foot wide walkway off the front.

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Over the long weekend, thanks to awesome sales, we picked up two World Market sofas (only $204 each!!) to create a comfortable lounge/seating area.  Until this point, this 900 square foot deck housed two grills, the bench in the background and that’s about it.

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Last year, while we were rebuilding the deck, I started my search for outdoor furniture and came across a pair of linear wood frame chairs:Wood-Frame-Outdoor-Chairs

That screenshot has been on my phone for nearly a year, and for the life of me, I cannot remember the source.  But, I do know that I was instantly smitten, and wanted the same look.  Imagine my surprise when I was wandering around World Market and stumbled upon the Praiano set.  At $400 per sofa, it wasn’t a bad price, but I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger.  Fortunately for me, my patience pair off and I struck when the price dropped to $239.99 plus a 15% off coupon.

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After patiently waiting a few months, I became impatient and bought, assembled, and lounged within 24 hours of getting the coupon in my inbox.

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Those sleek lines have my heart.

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And closely resemble the railing.  Haha, I guess I have flock to a distinct style.

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The cushions are firm, but not uncomfortable.  However, the arms need some cush, so I pulled some indoor pillows from the linen closet to soften the hard wood frame.

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For additional greenery, I added two potted Arborvitae trees in the corner of the center bump out.  The green seems so much more vibrant against the dark gray siding.

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I’m still trying to track down chairs to round out the grouping, since these are standing in from our old, seen-better-days patio set.

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Then there’s this sad, mostly empty corner.  Again, these pieces are standing in until we have time to build a dining table.

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Ben and I have differing visions/layouts for the deck.  Mostly because he’d love to build an 18 foot long Last Supper style table to take place of the current lounge area.

Napa Style Residence

While I think that’d be really cool, I think we’re better off putting this corner to use as an extension of the adjacent indoor dining space.  Adding an overhead fixture to this area would also be pretty easy with the attic overhang and access.  Time will tell, but I’m thrilled to have a cozy place to escape the house to enjoy a book.

Oh, and the deck desperately needs a good wash to get rid of the dust and pollen.  In the above photo, the darker area between the furniture is the real color.

Eventually, we want to ‘build in’ the gas and charcoal grills to hide the stands for a polished look.

Craigslist Dresser Score

In some ways, having a large-ish bedroom is nice, but the long layout is a little difficult to put to practical use.  For the last two or so years, we’ve had this mid-century bench against the wall opposite the bed.

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It was fine, but we never hang out in our bedroom, sitting on a bench.  Mostly, the bench was a perch for a basket of clean, folded laundry before putting it away.  Over the last few years, I’ve been passively searching for the perfect dresser for this spot.  Something simple, with straight lines, at least six drawers, five or more feet long, and not crazy mid-century looking.  Something I could paint without feeling guilty, if necessary but a good wood tone was preferable.  Not having to refinish was an added bonus.

At long last, the search ended when I spied a dresser on Craigslist that checked each criteria box, listed at $300.  After a little arm twisting, Ben agreed to look at it with me to give his approval and help load, should he like it as much as I did.

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Based on the fact that the dresser is in our bedroom, you can guess how that went.  It’s a vintage Kroehler and included a matching mirror.  Since we already have a large standing mirror in the room, I’m saving it to use above the basement bathroom vanity as I’ve done in our main bathroom.

Back to the dresser, I adore the simple detailing on the drawers.

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The handles, well, I’m on the fence how I feel about those.  I mean, they’re fine and original to the dresser with a great shape, but the inside detail isn’t my favorite.  I don’t know, maybe a quick polish would help things?

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That burl strip along the top is a lovely little detail.

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Having two different widths of drawers breaks up the design nicely, but is also practical for storage purposes.

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To add a lighter, taller element to this side of the room, I set the Schoolhouse Electric knock off white and linen lamp off to the side along with a stack of white books.  A crystal covered rock the boys found sits atop the stack for small sparkle.  I’m sure I’ll continue to change things around, but it’s a start.

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Unlike the deeper bench, the 19 inch depth is perfect in this kind of walkway area.  Of course, it’s far more functional, offering storage for out of season clothes as well.

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Having a little display area is stupidly exciting to me.  My only concern was how the dresser was going to look in such close proximity to the somewhat similar bathroom vanity.  Are they too similar?  Fortunately, I’m digging the look with the peek into the bathroom.

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Eventually, hopefully sooner than later, I want to hang a 30 by 40 inch Emily Jeffords print above to round out the grouping.

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Back when I ordered it, I intended for it to go above the bed in the future basement bedroom.  But I love it so much, the colors and size are perfect for our bedroom, so I’ve decided to enjoy waking up to it every morning.  Naturally, I taped it to the wall to see how it all works together and I’m quite pleased.

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Now to figure out my framing situation and get it done.

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After a little bargaining, Ben negotiated the price down to $240 and we’re all happy.  And that’s the tale of the Kroehler dresser coming into our lives.

Furniture Thrifting Guidelines

It’s no secret I love hunting thrift stores for hidden gems.  Those dusty, dirty, seen-better-days pieces that make the perfect ugly duckling to beautiful goose transformations.  Far more often than not, I leave empty-handed or maybe with a small trinket, bowl, or more likely, a book or two.  Stumbling on those big furniture pieces is exciting, of course, but not too frequent.  But before I make a large (in terms of size) purchase, certain rules/criteria must be met:

  1.  Will this piece satisfy a need in our home?
  2. Do I have a place in mind for it?  Can it also work in other rooms?
  3. Do I like the shape, size, lines, style of this piece?  If not, can I change that?
  4. Is it sturdy and in good condition?  If not, how difficult it is to fix?
  5. Is it worth the price?  How much will I have to put into this piece to make it what I want?

I’ll get into each point as I go, and of course, for something I’m absolutely gaga over, I can make exceptions, usually in the need department.

First and foremost, do I need this?  I do realize I have a very small furniture hoarding problem, but mostly because we still have two large areas to furnish: the basement and pool house.  So, when I see something that might work, especially at a reasonable (or great) price, I get it.  Worst case scenario, I put it on Craigslist or donate it and eat the loss.

Two years ago, I scored a pair of chairs, which by the way, pairs seem incredibly elusive in my thrifting adventures, for ten dollars.  The petite size was surprisingly comfortable, yet lightweight enough to move easily.  After a thorough sanding, a couple of coats of polyurethane, and new fabric, they rounded out our family room seating arrangement.

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Flash back to a fateful day this past November and you would have found me standing in a thrift store, staring at another pair of chairs, internal debate running through my head.  To buy or not to buy-that is the question.  I loved the lines and shape, the frames were in good, solid condition despite needing a refresh, and only $5 each.  People spend more than that on a specialty coffee, at least I’d have something to show for it, right?

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In my mind, I knew they’d look great by the fireplace, in the exact spot I already had chairs.  Did I need this new set?  Nope, technically I didn’t.  Even so, I bought them with plans to use the previous set in the basement.  If they don’t work down there, for the two years of use we got out of them, I haven’t lost anything.  After my standard refinish + new fabric combo, the pair cost me roughly twenty dollars each.  More than anything, the size and style of these chairs works better in our family room.

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Do I have a place for this?  Can it work in more than one room?  If you habitually change your mind, move things around, or just like a change of scenery, this is a big question.  Of course, the larger the item, the more difficult it will be to move around to different rooms.  This little dresser, a hand me down that previously belonged to my grandfather, has lived in several rooms and in both houses.  It can function as a dresser (duh) but could also work in a small nook, in an entry, or mini desk surface in a pinch.

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Do I like the size/shape/style/lines of the piece?  Occasionally, friends will ask me to keep a look out for a specific piece they need, say, a dresser.  I’ll send pictures of anything that might work, and if I get the go ahead, I’ll buy it.  When I found this beaut, it also came with a mountable mirror.

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Lucky for me, my friend didn’t need it, and I desperately wanted it for my main bathroom.  The size was perfect, the simple brass details were lovely, and I had wanted to add more wood tones.  A quick strip and oil coat added the warmth this bathroom needed.

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Is it in good shape?  If not, can the damage be fixed?  I think Ben (and perhaps several others) thought I was nuts when I dragged this small orange sofa (settee?) home with me.  Right away though, those gorgeous legs had me interested.

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Then I turned it around and saw the exposed wood frame detail on the back and that was it.  I had. to. have. it. Despite the loose joints, because wood joints, unlike the human variety, are typically very easy to fix with a little wood glue.

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Since scratchy, smelly, 70’s fabric isn’t my bag, I followed my standard fix up recipe of refinished wood and new fabric for a look I love.

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Fixing the frame was as simple as applying wood glue in the dowel holes, clamping, and letting it dry before sanding and staining.  Pieces with serious damage, like a missing leg, shouldn’t be passed over if all legs could be replaced.

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Is it worth the price?  I feel like I’m notoriously cheap with my thrifting, but it really irks me when stores ask near full retail price for something that was donated.  I think the most I’ve paid for something from a thrift store (this does not include Craigslist) is this Drexel dresser, snagged for $67, originally priced at $90.  At the time, I was searching for a wooden dresser to fit between the beds, below the window.  Measuring about three feet wide and in very used condition, the $90 price tag seemed steep.  After a 30% discount, the price was more in line with the quality, considering I still had a full refinish before it looked nice.

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Then, when the stars align, there’s the lucky you’ve been very patient, once-in-a-lifetime deal, such as the case of our Craigslist leather sofa.  Simple lines, beautiful leather, and listed at $220?

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Throw every damn rule out the window, quickly contact the seller, and arrange to pick it up pronto.  Then thank your lucky stars you saw the beauty first and lovingly pet it while you watch tv.