Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mid-century Modern Dressers Poorly Timed (but still awesome)


I had it all in my head how it was going to work out. And then these dressers happened.

In 2014, my bedroom was supposed to be one of my remodeling goals for this house. But it's ended up being the unloved step-child of the entire year, with work in this room ending up last on the list of everything else going on.

Not because I don't want a nice grown-up lady refuge from the rest of the world, and there HAS been some progress I haven't blogged about yet. But that's where I need to sleep, there are often socks and running pants piled on the floor, and the lighting is bad for pictures.....

How it looked at the beginning of the year:


And the alcove now stenciled: 


In the meantime, I'd been living out of these two dressers, one from my mother's childhood bedroom, and the small one a curb find from a few years ago:


This was not ideal, and in real not-pretty non-blog life I was frequently piling stacks of folded clothing on top of both of them, or in laundry baskets strewn about the room. To say it tended to exacerbate my already slob-like tendencies about laundry is an understatement. 

But I had an order-of-work plan that didn't include buying new dressers until the room itself was further along-- that last wall drywalled, the plaster work finished, the rest of the floor painted and stenciled. That was the point at which it would seem the right time to get new and better furniture up there. 

I even had some picked out. On the budget plan, I'd decided to get some combination of Ikea Malm dressers: 

Ikea Malm Dresser (Source)

It seemed perfect for the dark woods and reds/grays/metallics I'd been using or plan to use in this room, and with good looks for a reasonable price. But I was waiting to purchase them when the room was ready, and when I'd have the time to not only make the trip to Ikea (there isn't a store in Iowa, which means driving to Kansas City or Minneapolis), but also to put them together once I got them home. 

Then I saw something in a furniture consignment store in the complete and opposite direction, and it changed everything. Including my so-called order-of-work plan. 

It was a second-hand dresser and chest of drawers, blonde wood, mid-century modern, and not what I was thinking of at all. It was exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. AND less expensive than the Ikea option. And better quality. And completely at the wrong time. Not only for the fact that I wasn't where I wanted to be on the room, but also because it was Thanksgiving week, and I had a house full of guests. 

I bought them anyway. Because duh. 


The chest of drawers features a shallow "handkerchief" drawer at the top, and the next one down is a divided drawer in three parts. My undies, hosiery, and bras have never felt so...orderly. 


The dresser has six gloriously just-the-right size drawers. 

The hardware, though a little worn, is still original. I had to vacuum glitter out of the bottom drawers, and eradicate some "old lady smell" with Murphy's Oil Soap. But that. was. all. That's been the glory of this situation in many ways-- not having to do an extensive rehab on an inexpensive but neglected second-hand piece, or getting the Ikea-induced migraine of assemble-it-yourself new furniture. 

I didn't realize how badly I needed more clothing storage until these two babes came into my life. Now I've moved on from my shuffling parade of laundry baskets. The largest of the two old dressers went into my twins' closet as off-season clothing storage, another badly needed improvement. The smaller chest may be re-purposed for another use, but I haven't decided yet. 

Of course, the the two new dressers will have to slum in their new environment for awhile, but their appearance motivates me to put the bedroom back at the top of the list in priorities for the new year. Sometimes poor timing is actually the shake-up one needs, and I'm going to take these pieces of furniture as just that. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Completely Non-Christmasy Update: Painting

Uh, hi. Been awhile, hasn't it?

Sorry about that.

After I painted my foyer, I had my sister and her clan here for the week of Thanksgiving, and that also included a guest dog, my oldest son home from college, and some drop-in visits by cousins.


It was busy, crowded, and noisy, there were lots of shoes piled near the front door, and great big pans of food on the kitchen stove. My coffee pot was in use non-stop and truth be told, my wine corkscrew was too. Meaning the whole thing was pretty dang near perfect as holidays go.

But with all my October travel and November company, I didn't really wrap up the exterior painting season on the blog.

And that's because with all my October travel and November company, I didn't really wrap up the exterior painting season in real life, either.

I left the south side looking almost exactly like it did in the spring:


But partly because I decided I wanted to concentrate on areas of the house I saw when I looked out the windows, like the patio area: 


And the front of the garage: 


The summer, between work, kids' schedules, and rain, didn't allow for much else. In a fit of frustration I slapped some paint on the screen porch: 


And I spent much of the rest of the time reglazing windows, a job that while necessary, wasn't a big show-boat noticeable improvement. 


I also had a handyman spend a day patching a rotten area of siding and a dry-rotted windowsill:


Progress, as I've said before, is progress. And writing this blog post is as much an exercise in realizing that as sharing with readers. During the summer I was too frustrated with the pace and weather delays to feel like ANYTHING was happening. Now I feel pretty good about it, and when April comes I'll be ready to start in again. 

For now though, I'm happy to just contemplate the idea from the comfort of my sofa. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving Foyer Revamp

You know how sometimes you get it into your head that you'll do "just one quick project" before a major holiday, because you want the house to look nice and you think an arbitrary deadline will help you get it done?

Yeah. About that.

I did that. With my foyer. Now, honestly, it was easy to make the mental leap here. I don't have any grand entrance, no two-story lofted ceiling, no chandelier, no staircase. My foyer is barely 4 feet by 5.5 feet, and a small closet is exactly opposite the front door. On either side it opens into the living room, or into our front room (the office). This is no place for square-dancing.

Just like people are glib about bathrooms, I was glib about this foyer. That was two weekends ago. And I'm not even technically "done," I just completed a list of short-term goals.

The woodwork and doors were tired and scuffed, the paint was fleshy beige on both the walls and the trim, and there were even faint drippy stains leftover from a catastrophic coffee travel mug bomb that got dropped on the floor last winter. The whole thing was getting me down. I didn't even take before pictures. So just imagine something in your mind of that sort of tired, scuffed and grubby state that highly trafficked areas get, and sigh heavily. I did.


I decided that the color going on my front door outside could come inside, too. I like how it's setting off all the apple greens and browns in my living room. It's a Valspar paint color called Cinnamon Cake, but done in Sherwin Williams exterior grade satin gloss. It's a bit more subdued and spicy looking in person than is showing in the photo.

The paint on the walls is Valspar's Oatbran, which is a beige that is taupey-gray enough to avoid any pinkish overtones. Super important when you're going with an orange door.

You can also see my vintage foyer light, original to the house, in the upper corner of the photo. You know what also revamps a foyer? Cleaning about 18 billion dead gnats out of the light shade. Who knew?


After having the paint and woodwork painted the exact same color (and a color I didn't like) it's been a pleasure to see the contrast of freshly painted white woodwork with the burnt orange and oatbran colors. And I hung a wreath from Target on the door. Just a wee tiny bit of early holiday decorating. I'm usually pretty strict about that sort of thing, but this seemed more "winter" than "Christmas" to me.

It doesn't solve all the obvious problems in this tiny room. The hardware on both doors needs either refinishing (closet door) or replacing (front door). The torn vinyl is still there, though it's under a new and bigger (though still not big enough) rug.

I'm glad I decided to go bold with the front door, instead of just going with white. I find myself sitting on my sofa with my mug of coffee, staring at my pumpkin pie door. It's just the right color for entertaining guests over Thanksgiving, and they'll be here soon--my sister and her family.

They'll be just in time for my other company's-coming crazy-in-the-head behavior, which is trying a recipe I've never tried before. When will I learn? Probably never. But in the meantime, here's to fresh paint on the walls!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Battlefield and Homestead: October Trip


In my last blog post I mentioned that instead of confronting the end of the outdoor/exterior house work season head-on, I put my paintbrushes down and left town.

That I did. Twice. I was feeling restless and burnt out, and even though my time was running out, I knew things weren't going to go well if I kept plugging away at it without a break. The book festival weekend wasn't quite enough for me, so I also headed south to my Dad's house in Missouri to get some fall hiking in, and to honor an anniversary of sorts. My sister Dyan met us there so we could all get some family time in.

Last year, we'd run an inaugural 5-mile race hosted by Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, in Republic, Missouri. We were so proud to do it together. And finish!


On the one-year anniversary we returned, to do some hiking and appreciate the history of this place. It saw the first Civil War fighting west of the Mississippi, and the death during combat of the first Union general, Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. I even wore the same shoes:


Dyan, Dad and I have developed the tradition of always bringing my Grandad's (my Dad's father, who passed away in 1996) favorite candies on our hiking expeditions. These are the Official Walter Millsaps Memorial Chick O' Sticks: 


The battlefield is a quiet place, beautiful in autumn. It's hard to believe that 535 men gave their lives here over 150 years ago. And that the Ray family, whose farm is pictured below, turned their home into a field hospital to tend to the wounded and dying.



Another day, we visited the Nathan Boone Homestead, a Missouri State Historic Site. Nathaniel was the youngest son of Daniel Boone, and the cabin and barn are preserved in an attempt to give visitors an idea what life was like when Missouri was a frontier state in the 1830s. Every year, they have a festival encampment, which includes 19th century re-enactors dressed as frontiersman, tradesmen, and soldiers, and craft demonstrations.


For some reason I've always been fascinated by stone chimneys, and Nathan Boone Homestead's are beautiful. 


I loved the underside of the porch awning, as well. 


The beautiful frontier garden was wrapped up for the year: 


The long weekend also featured a fish-fry with okra and hush puppies, large mugs of coffee, reclining deep into the cushions of my dad's big leather sofa, and watching a John Wayne movie. In other words, it was nearly perfect.

Both trips were mental health imperatives. Now that my soul's been fed and my travel itch scratched, I'm beginning to take up some small indoor projects in advance of the holidays. I'll be back with a few of them soon!