Looking Back on February

In February, we talked a little gardening, a little design, added some new appliances, and mixed in the bumps of real life. It sounds like an average month around here.

The most visible change we made was the addition of a large, striped area rug in the great room.

Great Room with Carpet from Dining Room

It adds color and warmth and cohesion. I’m still on the hunt for some pillows and a 4×10 runner next to the fireplace. For the whole story check out Color Underfoot.

Working with a designer had a lot of bonuses along with a few problems which I talked about in Now What Was It Like?.  We received a lot of great advice and wound up with a room we really love. That being said, as the expert, I expect you to have down all the details like where to place outlets and picking furniture that is the proper size for the space. If you say your ordering pieces or will offer suggestions on particular situations, you do it. I appreciate follow through.

Veritable Workhorses showcased all the lovely new end tables we’ve sprinkled around the room. In hopes of warming up the fireplace area, I rearranged a little and swapped some darker tables for the white, marble hex tables.

Dark Tables by the Fireplace

That’s one nice thing about our new furniture: it’s very mix and match.

While the rug and tables added a lot of beauty to our home, the Sleek & Shiny Washer and Dryer brought a lot of functionality. I can run a load of laundry in one-third of the time it used to take me. It’s been only a few weeks, but so far so good. Those Electrolux beauties are great.

This month also brought a return to gardening. We have blossoms in the orchard–It’s Starting

Plucot Blooms

The discovery of flowers by the tennis court made me wonder what plans the former owners had for the neglected hillside above it.

My tulips are just as striking as the ones found at the Flower and Garden Show

Purple Tulips

Romance Blossoms featured some beautiful romantic settings along with great garden design ideas. Remember the blown-glass art mixed with beds of flowers?

Bicycle Picnic

I think I might just throw a garden party so I can try my hand at making these lovely centerpieces. Don’t they just shout spring?

bark container tableau

Sometimes I’m talking to someone and they’ll say how beauiful my house is and how wonderful my life must be… Bloopers and Blunders was my attempt at a reality check.

We have a lovely home and a good life, but we also battle all types of weirdness living in the middle of nowhere in this crazy place. How many of your dogs brought you a mole for Valentine’s Day? Let’s just say it’s not all glamorous.

How was your February? I’m thinking March is going to be even better.

(Note: The MR worked at home today. That means I had to wait till he was finished with the desktop computer before I could add pictures or links. Thus we are about 10 hours behind. Oh well, have a great weekend.)

 

It’s Starting

With a very mild winter and a string of sunny days, our gardens and trees have been totally fooled into believing it’s spring.

A few more of days like this, and I might believe it, too. The plucot is blooming down in the orchard, and the plum trees are just a touch behind.

Plucot Blooms

 

This could be the year that our stone fruit actually produces. We just have to keep the deer away and hope for no late frosts.

The daffodils have been putting on a show by the driveway for weeks.

Daffodils 1

 

I was talking to a friend recently about how pretty the bulbs are this time of year. She mentioned that she always plans to plant some; but in the fall, she’s tired of yard work. It can get pretty damp and nasty in September and October.

I told her to just go out and by a color bowl with bulbs that are starting to bloom. After you’ve enjoyed them, you can plant them around your yard, and they’ll come back year after year.

The girls have been in floral and horticulture classes for the past seven years, so we’ve enjoyed quite a few planters filled with bulbs. Last summer, I had Baby Girl plant them randomly all over the flower beds. I didn’t care where as long as she did it.

Now we have clumps of bright yellow scattered here and there.

Daffodil Collage

And those small clumps will just keep growing each year. The pretty tulips from a few weeks ago will wind up outside before too long.

When I spent the morning with the floral teacher, she mentioned that you plant peas on President’s Day. I’d heard potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day (more as a token rather than the real crop), but this was new to me.

Well, we didn’t have any peas, so me and Baby Girl stopped at the hardware store on the way home from church and bought a packet. BG picked “Sugar Daddy” in honor of the MR, but mostly cause it made us laugh.

We were almost a week late getting them out, but I’m hoping for a bumper crop.

Peas

 

The MR had worked the soil a bit and added some nitrogen. Now we just have to wait.

I was surprised to notice flowers by the tennis court. Perhaps the former owners had enjoyed playing tennis and had made beautiful plantings, once upon a time.

Daffodils by Tennis Court

 

The wild just covers up everything so quickly. They must have planted this vinca on the hill.

Dogs

 

Oops, I mean this vinca minor covered in weeds.

Vinca by retaining wall

 

I wonder what plans they had and if they’d be pleased with all we’ve done.

Is it looking like spring?

 

 

Bloopers & Blunders

Do you ever find yourself talking to someone, and realize hey, that’s my life? That’s happened to me.

I had one of those moments down in California when we were talking about bathroom remodels, and the MR’s cousin mentioned that she didn’t want the bathroom mirror to fall off and shatter on the floor. That’s when I said oh-yeah, that happened to us.

Well, not exactly, but kind of, and why are you just hearing about it now? Crazy, odd, unusual stuff goes on around here all the time; it just doesn’t make it into the blog when cool, fun, exciting stuff is happening.

So–disappointing though it may be–today’s post isn’t earth-shattering. It’s just a collection of weirdness that probably wouldn’t make it into the movie, but it’ll at least make you smile and shake your head.

Let’s talk about bathroom mirrors. Me and the MR were going over to friends for game night, and I popped into the powder room to check my hair before we headed out.

At least I tried to, that is. I couldn’t open the door, something was blocking it, what was going on? We’d had my brother, his wife, and a dozen or so teens spend the night. Maybe they’d had a problem with the door or the lock?

No, not so much, the 3×8-foot mirror had detached from the wall and was wedged against the other wall blocking the door. The MR was able to maneuver it of the way for the evening.

Mirror in Hall

We had lots of reflections in the hall for a while, and modern art in the bathroom.

Glue on Wall

A little mirror glue, and everything was back to normal.

Mirror Back in Place

 

What saved us from seven years of bad luck? All those crazy corners in the bathroom kept the mirror from falling. If this room had simple 90-degree angles, we’d have been in trouble. Who knew an 11-sided room would come in handy?

Just last week, we had another exciting adventure–one I would forgo at any length. The smoke detector in the master bedroom went off.

For 15 minutes, we heard “EVACUATE, EVACUATE, SMOKE IN MASTER BEDROOM!” No, there wasn’t smoke in the master bedroom. Yes, I opened all the doors and windows and turned on the industrial fans.

At first, I tried to turn off the alarm system, but no lights were blinking; it wasn’t that. Next I went to get the ladder. Setting it up as an A-frame is no problem, but I hadn’t used it as an extension ladder before.

I was thankful my friend and housekeeper was there to help before I totally lost my mind. Once the ladder was in place, I had to climb 12 feet up and rip the silly smoke detector off the ceiling.

Ladder with arrow

The MR told me to throw it into the bushes, but Kathy suggested just removing the batteries. That seemed the wiser choice. Sometimes we need to hear a voice of reason.

Finally, we have sun issues around here. We get a lot of sun in the house resulting in heat, glare, and fading. I’ve had people out to talk about solar films and blinds options, but we’ve never felt comfortable moving forward.

Then I was redoing a pillow replacing the pillow form with a new softer version. That’s when I noticed this.

Fading

The inside of the pillow (the top half) is so much more vibrant after just a short time. With all that new furniture, we need to do something to protect it.

So I had a lady from Blind Alley in Bellevue come out to take a look. The MR had seen some angle-topped shades that looked sleek. Unfortunately, to have motorized blinds for our top windows, we have to have a fixed portion at the top of each window with an additional bar for the blinds themselves.

Here’s my simple attempt at showing what it would look like–don’t ask me what happened on the right-hand side.

Window Shade

It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but I just don’t like all the busyness. It goes from one sleek line, to all these broken up, stair-stepped bits.

I think it’s time to call the window film people. Maybe blinds just on the lower windows would be a better option. We’ll have to wait and see what the bid comes in at.

Does your life feature random weirdness? What do you think about the shades?

 

Romance Blossoms

I mentioned last week that I was headed to the Flower and Garden Show. This year’s theme was Romance Blossoms. That has to mean flowers–lots of flowers–right?

I have to admit; I was a little disappointed. While the displays were beautiful, many of them featured tulips. I have a bit of a checkered past when it comes to tulips.

Picture me and the MR as young newlyweds in our first home. I’d never been much into gardening, but the MR knew all about landscaping. That first fall, we bought some bulbs and planted them by the front door.

I waited anxiously and watched as the tulips came up the next spring. Then just as the buds opened, we had a windstorm, and the beautiful blooms turned into ugly sticks. All my hopes were dashed; I had lost my faith in tulips.

So imagine garden after garden filled with them. I put my love-hate relationship aside, and embraced the beauty. These walkways lined with spring bulbs and variegated grasses are lovely. But cannas won’t be blooming in spring. This is cheating and sets up many a new gardener to failure and heartbreak.

Profusion of Blooms

One of the first years that I attended the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, a display featured paths made of hot pink gum balls. Sticky? Nasty? Crazy? Yes.

Then there’s the mix of indoor plants with outdoor plants that drives me crazy. I have a difficult time keeping cyclamen alive inside. If I stuck it outside in a pot; there’d be trouble. So I’ll take to heart the profusion of flowers and pots in the same hue in varying shapes and sizes. These things I love; these exact flowers–not so much.

Potted Garden Collage

I like more practical inspiration like this giant ball fountain.

Giant Ball

OK, maybe that’s not very practical either. Some of the gardens featured glass art scattered among the blooms. These were quite pretty and fanciful. I especially liked the salmon swimming in the sea of tulips.

Glass Garden Art Collage

I hesitate to put anything breakable outside with our crazy dogs but love the whimsy these generate.

I also liked the idea of carrying the color of the blooms onto the pots and pillows of a nearby seating area. Look at all that lovely peachy-orange.

Flowers Pillows and Pots in Orange

 

Carrying the tone throughout the display adds such nice continuity. Perhaps I need purple blossoms in the planting bed by the little bench? I don’t think I want to paint it yellow to match the daffodils that are blooming now. Something to ponder.

I also liked this arrangement of calla lilies and ranunculus  in the same tone coupled with textural grasses.

tone on tone arrangement

That’s what these shows are all about–making you think and generating new ideas.

A hanging teepee is not my picture of an idyllic retreat, but someone might enjoy this.

Hanging Teepee

And while we don’t have to go for a bike ride to enjoy a picnic in the meadow, it’d be fun to set up a blanket with petals for a romantic dinner outside when the warm weather comes.

Bicycle Picnic

 

With our steep slopes, I’m always looking at interesting ideas for retaining walls. Maybe large metal planters are the answer for some areas near the house.

Metal Pot Retaining Wall

 

I think a chair in a field of flowers next to my vegetable garden would be the perfect place to read a book or drink a glass of lemonade after tending the beds.

Reading ChairThe MR has been talking water features for a while. I don’t think this Rube Goldberg-esque fountain is quite what he had in mind, but I’d love to have one down by the orchard. I’m on the hunt for old brass instruments.

Water Feature

 

And wouldn’t this be a wonderful place for a wedding, a proposal, or just some pretty photos?

Rose Bower

 

While I love the waterfall, and the “floating” walkway of stone, I’m ambivalent about the flower bumpers. It seems kind of like a good idea gone a little overboard.

Now if we’re living large and money were no object, we might have to add a few of these basalt columns–so graphic, so beautiful, so heavy, so expensive. It’s OK to dream a little.

Basalt Columns

 

Now if you’re planning a Mother’s Day Tea or a spring event, these bark covered posies are sweet and fanciful.

bark container tableau

Last year, I came home with all sorts of purchases. This year, I held back a little. I did buy a finger weeder and a wonderfully sweet smelling daphne. I’ll let you know how they work out.

Are you ready for a new season of gardening? Getting inspired?

 

Color Underfoot

While we like our new floors, all that gray can feel a little cold, so we’ve anxiously been anticipating the arrival of the area rug for the great room.

It was ordered and paid for months ago, but Christmas and bad weather delayed it. So when I got the email that it was in and ready for delivery, I was ecstatic. The great room would be complete.

Last weekend after family movie night, the MR and Baby Girl moved the furniture aside, and the next morning I rolled out the rug pads. Then I’d just have to wait for the delivery men, right?

Rug PadNot so much. When I ordered the rug pad, the company didn’t mention that they would be sending the pad in two pieces–surprise. And when they were packaging up the rug pads, they didn’t tell me that they’d wrapped up one half by itself and the other half with the smaller pad that would be going upstairs.

Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I started early and decided to unroll the pads, find the problem, and lug unwieldy  pads up and down the stairs. I got my workout that morning.

Me and the dogs also made the trek to the top of the driveway to set up a sign with our name, address, and an arrow. This has made deliveries so much simpler.

Next thing you know, the delivery men had arrived, unrolled the carpet and I was pleased as could be. About that time, our designer showed up and started measuring and tweaking. The fellows had to roll up the rug, rearrange the pad and move the carpet six inches that way and then two inches this way.

Then this pretty, little woman had those men moving my furniture all back in place. It was totally worth paying to have her come out and be in charge. Too often, I tend to be satisfied with almost right, just to go back and fix it myself later.

Once downstairs was to her satisfaction, we moved upstairs. The MR had said to just have the guys carry the carpet up and that we’d take care of it. But after I saw them make short work of the furniture placement, I decided to let them go to town upstairs, too.

How does it look? I know you’re done reading about movers and want to see pictures. Well, a little carpet can totally pull a room together.

Great Room with Carpet from Dining Room

I had a floor plan with furniture placement carefully detailed, but our designer came out and totally fine-tuned the arrangements.

Great Room From Office

The orange in the carpet is reading brighter than in real life. It’s more of a subdued rust–not anything like the crazy orange flooring we had to live with for a weekend last fall. (Remember Orange is the New Green?)

Here’s a closer look. The carpet adds color and movement.

Great Room Closer

You may be wondering why we bothered with carpet for the girls’ hangout room. Well, it was a custom carpet requiring an order minimum. After making the rug for the great room, they would have enough leftover for another rug to be made. So we got two for the price of one–sort of. Basically it was going to cost the same no matter what, and this way we’d at least get more for our money.

With all the new furniture downstairs, the hangout room has certainly received an upgrade.

Upstairs Now 3

 

We’re still in the process of deciding whether to keep the undersize leather ottoman or the oversized ottoman that Cocoa ate Skittles on. Maybe we’ll get rid of both and keep the square tables clustered in the middle as a coffee table. The tables are a lot easier to move out of the way for video games and easy to keep clean.

Back in the great room, are we finished? Sadly, no. Take a look at the seating area by the fireplace.

Fireplace Seating 2

 

It’s totally lacking in warmth. Maybe I should have picked the darker gray leather for the chairs, but it’s too late now. The pale leather coupled with the light marble is just reading so cold.

I don’t know if we need a runner or a small area rug. We just don’t have a lot of room in this area, and it’s a well-used pathway from our bedroom to the kitchen.

Fireplace Seating from afar

 

Would a tan rug offer enough color or should I go with something in rust?

And then when the designers came up with the floorplan, I was concerned about the corner between the office and the main seating area. That’s where we now have the swivel chair and hide rug. Well, somehow I overlooked the same empty triangle between the dining room and the great room.

Blank spot between rooms with carpets for perspective

 

That’s 11-and-a-half feet of empty space–not that every square inch has to be full. But does it look balanced with the rest of the room? I may be moving the flower chair from my room–where it is totally the wrong color–out to this stretch of window.

I could move a few of the plants from one side of the room to the other and fill in a little of the emptiness.

Anyways, as you can see, we still have changes to make. Our designer was telling me they have worked with some clients for over five years just getting all the details in place.

I don’t have the patience for that, but I’m happy with the direction we’re headed.

What do you think of the new rug? How would you warm up the fireplace seating area?

 

 

Veritable Workhorses

Years ago, the MR’s grandpa made end tables for the MR’s mom, and she was ecstatic. She’d always wanted end tables, and these were perfect.

They were simple wood boxes, with a little texture, sponged or spattered with paint to match her decor. Now Gramps did a great job, and I don’t want to take anything away from that, but I just wasn’t feeling her level of excitement.

Sometimes you smile, and nod, and pretend. Then we bought our own house, and the end tables I had in my apartment went away, and we had the MR’s giant wood stereo speakers for end tables. Suddenly, her enthusiasm made a lot more sense.

For many years, we didn’t have room for both speakers and end tables, and you guessed it, the speakers won. But about 10 years ago, the MR updated his stereo equipment, and I finally had room for a few end tables, and side tables, and coffee tables.

You know, a place to put a book or a magazine, a cup of tea or a glass of water. A place to stow the remote or your reading glasses. A way to organize all your stuff.

So along with the two coffee tables for the great room, we’ve been purchasing end tables, a console table, and a quasi-coffee table.

Most of our new upholstered furniture came from Room & Board, but the tables were from here, there and everywhere. So I thought I’d share some of our new end tables–the workhorses of a seating area.

We bought this lovely bone side table from West Elm.

Shell Table

 

It’s small in size, but adds a little shine with it’s very textural top.

Heading over to Crate & Barrel, we couldn’t decide between metal or wood, so we bought them both.

The Entu side table is multi-directional in a warm teak.

S Table

The small shelf is the perfect place to hide away the remote. On the store’s web site, they had it on its side with the small shelf turning into a magazine holder. Multi-functional–it’s a good thing.

I wasn’t going to buy the metal table, because we have one in copper that I like, but the MR thought it was great and said we should go for it.

So I picked up the Acadia accent table from the mall on Friday. Did you know package pick-up is next to the valet parking? Yep, me neither. Who uses valet at the mall?

Crinkly Metal

Just before Thanksgiving (on the way home from the train station picking up Sweet Miss running on fumes), I tried to pick up this pair of tables from Dania.

Round Dania

The Otra occasional tables looked like the medium and the large, but they turned out to be the medium and the small. It took four trips to Dania between ordering the wrong size, the loading dock closed on certain days, a major flaw in the table, and getting the final product.

I like how they are light-weight and easy to move adding flexibility to the space. If I’m expecting a lot of guests, it takes just a minute to rearrange.

Back in November, I showed you our lovely Hex tables we placed by the fireplace. We bought three and clustered them together to simulate a coffee table.

Hex Coffee Table

It might be cozier next to the hearth, if we switched them out for an ottoman. We could use them singly next to the chairs or around the room. I’m not crazy about the white marble and the putty leather chairs. One looks a little too white, while the other looks a little anemic.

After our designer’s help, we got brave and bought a few things on our own. One of them is this Alta Console Table from Joss & Main for the entry. (Note:  It’s no longer up on the web site, but items often rotate through.)

I remember someone coming by for a party and asking where to set her purse. This bottom shelf keeps everything off the floor and corralled. Of course, you have to be watchful of nosy dogs stealing tissues, gum, or maybe a little candy.

Entry Console

I liked the dark wood, the clean lines, and the Asian feel of the slightly bowed legs. While we really like the table, I’m not sure about the placement.

Maybe it should be closer to the front doors, and then we’d just get rid of the shoe bench. We could add a small chair to sit on if you want to take off your shoes. It might be getting too cluttered. I’m OK with trying things out in a spot for a while and letting ideas marinate.

I’d like to have some taller pieces on the top of the console, along with some art on the wall, so the sconce isn’t just sitting there staring at you. But then if I add breakable things to the table, what if someone comes around the corner, bumps it, and they all fall over and break? I know, I worry too much.

While you can get by without tables, it’s so much more comfortable if a guest has a place to set their drink or a snack. I want people to be at ease.

While these are all well and good, the big news for today is area rugs. The delivery is scheduled for this morning. I hope to have photos for you before the end of the week. Cross your fingers!

Where do you set your tea? Do doggy tails endanger your glassware?