Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Around the Firepit

Firepits are all the rage lately. I've been seeing them left and right on home improvement shows and Hubby bought us one late last summer (he caught an end-of-season sale, heh heh).  Each time we've used it, we've loved it.  Family and friends gathered 'round the warm glow of a crackling fire; marshmallows, nostalgic tunes and cocktails - it's built-in entertaining.

Last night we had an unseasonably warm night in our area and decided to jump at the chance to light the firepit:

Here's to a spring and summer season full of outdoor gatherings.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Craftsman Wishes and Renovation Dreams

Yesterday, Hubby and I were attending an event in a neighborhood that we would love to move to but that is mostly out of our price range.  We were looking for parking and ended up on a street of beautiful Craftsman-style homes that were positively charming. We were all like: "Look at that one!" and "Ooooo, what about that one!" and then, right in the middle of the street we saw it: the same style of house in the middle of an overgrown yard, with boarded up windows and peeling paint.  It was a beauty.

That could very well be our house.  Its condition would warrant a significantly lower asking price than normal and we could renovate it to look like the other gems on the block.  "We definitely could," Hubby said.  My mind raced.

I'm certain we won't pursue it, but for a moment, the possibilities were endless.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DIY: Homemade Boot Tray

No entryway or mudroom is complete without a place to store your wet or muddy boots and shoes.  Here are a couple of easy and cute ideas on how to make your own.

Good Housekeeping: Cork-Lined Tray

Gather a well-worn baking or jelly-roll pan (or buy an inexpensive new one), a roll of cork (from an office-supply store), a pencil, and scissors. Measure the sheet's interior; cut cork to fit, and place in the pan (don't worry, the shoes' weight will flatten the cork); replace as needed. 

Martha Stewart: Pebble-Filled Tray

Fill your tray with stones (found at garden centers). Ice and snow will melt and drain through the rocks to the bottom of the tray, so your boots won't stand in a puddle. Most of the moisture will evaporate, but you should clean out the tray regularly.

I'm loving the pebble-lined tray. I wonder if I can pull it off or if I'm just asking for trouble.  I can L'il Buddy strewing pebbles throughout the house on a daily basis.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Impressions: The Front Door

To me, a front door can say so much about a house and it's owners.  Apart from the yard (if you have one), the front door makes the first impression to your guests and passerby and sets the tone for the rest of your home.  A lot of pressure, no?

While it may not have such significance to everyone, I for one, truly believe in this theory.  Which is why it irks me so much that our front door is: (a) plain white; and (b) unfinished.  When we moved into our 1968 rambler-style home, the front door was big, heavy and unattractive.  It was a brown steel door with a teeny-tiny window (with yellow-paned glass) and it didn't fit our style (really, mine!)  We ended up replacing the door a couple of years ago with a fiberglass door that had a frosted, door-length center pane with a subtle design.  I love the light that it lets in...but the door is one that is meant to be painted.  And we haven't painted it yet.  It drives me crazy to see this bare, white door day in and day out.  The problem is, part of me is scared to commit to a paint color.  The decision is a big one! Should we paint it red to add some character to the house? Would that be too bold? Our neighbors up the street have a beautiful Seafoam-green door that I admire when we pass by.  How would that look?  My husband is an advocate for painting our door black. That just seems to harsh to me for our rambler, and seems like it would be more appropriate on a large, manor-style home.  Whatever color we paint the door, we need to take our decorative window shutters into consideration.  They are currently a rust color and we'd need to paint the shutters to match the front door for a streamlined look.

Until we can decide on the perfect color, our front door remains...off-the-shelf-white.  What does that say about us to passersby, I wonder? That we are lazy? Unimaginative? Indecisive? Procrastinators? Or maybe, just that we like having a white door?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Story of My Magnolia Wreaths

image credit: Branches Design
It's already been confessed that I am a Southern girl at heart (despite my upbringing in the Far North).  For this reason, it did not come as a surprise to me that I instantly became obsessed with the idea of having a magnolia wreath grace our doorstep for the Christmas holidays last year.  An article in my beloved Southern Living magazine was to blame; I loved the lush green of the leaves, the softness of the ribbon, and the symbolism of hospitality.

I was on a mission.

It didn't take me long to discover that magnolia wreaths were few and far between in the DC Metropolitan area this winter.  I searched high and low - calling local nurseries and florists, checking online.  Sure I could have ordered a magnolia wreath from, say, Pottery Barn, but I didn't want to drop mad dough on a wreath.  My luck changed once I turned to eBay.

I found a seller on eBay who owned a magnolia farm (jackpot!) She had no end of magnolia trees and handmade her wreaths for an insanely low price.  I ordered two; one round and one square.

the wreath in my home office 

the wreath in my dining room
I <3 them.

I'm debating whether I should lacquer them in white.

How gorgeous is this?

Essential Elements of a Mudroom

mud~room: (noun) a vestibule or other area in a house, in which wet and muddy clothes or footwear are removed.

What is a mudroom exactly? The name literally says it all. It's an entryway into your home where you can leave muddy boots and shoes, wet raincoats, snow-covered winter gear and the like without tracking it through the living areas of your house.

But oh - it can be so much more.

To me, a mudroom represents civility, organization, and sanity. A bit much? Perhaps.  But for some reason, I long for one.  Let's look at the essential elements of the ideal mudroom:

1. Low-Maintenance Floors.  Since Mother's Nature's elements will be tracked through the mudroom on the regular, an easy-to-clean floor is a must. I love the idea of using cork, which is a waterproof material (and looks chic as well).

2. A Sturdy Coat Rack or Hooks.  I don't know about you, but we never have enough storage space for coats and other assorted weather gear.  

image credit: Quail Hollow Studios

image credit: Design Sponge

3. Shoe Shelving.  Ah shoes. A favorite subject of mine.  This also means that I have many a pair. Between a growing family of 5 and the DC area weather, we have an endless array of winter boots, rain boots, slippers, sandals, water shoes, and tennis shoes.  I try to keep the collection of shoes on the hallway mat pared down, but inevitably we end up with an unruly pile of footwear. Something like this would be fantastic:

image credit: Williams-Sonoma

4. General Storage.  Umbrellas, hats, mittens, backpacks, dog leashes, market totes - you name it, it needs a place to "sleep" (as my Dad would say).  Options for functional, smart-looking storage are endless.

5. Seating.  A place to sit while you tie your shoes/take off your shoes/put on your booths is a nice touch.  A space-saving choice is to select seating that also provides storage (i.e. a storage bench).

image credit: Ohdeedoh

And there you have it.  The 5 essential elements to making your mudroom as practical and comfortable as you need it to be.  Are there any other elements that are essential to the perfect mudroom?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Understated Importance of a Mudroom

Credit: Hudson Goods
Credit: PinkWallpaper

Please don't take your mudroom for granted. The fact that you don't have salt and sand from winter-weather-treated roads tracked through your foyer is a blessing.  So is the fact that you don't have a haphazard pile of boots crowding the front-door.  While you're at it, please give thanks that there aren't coats, mittens and umbrellas strewn willy nilly throughout the living room.

Please. Respect the mudroom.