Category Archives: Decor

{Living Room} Adding Height With Curtains

While I was waiting for the worst of the downpour to finish this weekend so I could work in the garden, I decided to attempt to hang curtains. I say attempt because a level line is never guaranteed and I didn’t have my stud finder (AKA TimTheFarmer).

Our living room continues to baffle me a bit – it’s also the entry and is a super tall room that contains the stairway and the loft that leads to the bedrooms. The previous owner used it the TV room, but we don’t like the idea of that. It needs to be the thruway into the kitchen so it keeps the seating to one side of the room. We’re still kicking around the idea of taking some or all of the wall down between the kitchen and living room. Basically, I don’t know what to do with this space. So, for now I’m working to make it feel inviting and cozy while taking advantage of the height of the room. This is from before we moved furniture and painted:

EntryRoomWe have our accent wall, which is my favorite! 

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And, we hung my grandma’s antique skis way way high on the wall to draw your eye up. 

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Because the room has sloped ceilings that are very high at the top and end at a “normal” height by the door and front window, the front wall feels low. A common way to work with tall ceilings is to hang long curtains high above the windows. It adds height and in our case, can balance out a shorter-feeling ceiling that is competing against tall walls.

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I picked up curtains and a curtain rod at Home Goods for $30. There is seriously no other place you should buy curtains and curtain rods. They are alway half the prices as anywhere else and unless you’re going for custom curtains, you can probably find something that will match. The curtains are 96″ long which puts them at least a foot above my window. And look, my line is (relatively) straight!

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The pattern fit perfectly with our room. It’s a traditional floral pattern made up of modern, funky colors: turquoises, dark grey, and chartreuse colors which perfectly complement my new old chair, rugs, and vintage ski posters.

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Someday we’ll figure out couches and seating in this room and whether or not to pull the wall down, but for now, I love how the curtains add both height and coziness to this room!



{Thrifted Finds} Estate Sale Reality

I’ve never been to an estate sale. They always sound too fancy. Guest what? They are. Well, mostly. 

I was lured in this weekend thanks to a local Facebook yard sale group. They posted the estate sale and there were some cool (read: funky, old. rusty, shabby, unique) pieces I was interested in.

First up, this patio set. We need a table and chairs for our deck and I loved how funky and old this was. I was totally picking out the color I would spray paint it on my way to the sale. Who else would want this rusty, weird table??

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Second, this old armchair. I loved the upholstery color and am looking for our living room/entry that continues to prove challenging to design.

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Third, these rugs. I need some rugs that aren’t the obviously-Target geometric ones I currently have i.e. grown-up rugs.

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I got up super early on Saturday to ensure I was there when the ropes dropped so I could definitely scoop up the table and maybe grab the chair – I guessed the chair might be a little pricey. I got there promptly at 8am per the advertised Facebook start-time, and NO ONE was around. Umm…I looked at all the signs and they said 9am. I rechecked the Facebook group which I’d checked before I left at 7 and it now said 9am…she changed it last minute….what the heck?!? So, I drove to Home Depot to peruse the electric lawn mowers and pick out the spray paint I was going to paint my new table.

I returned at 8:50am and people were already milling around. Oh no! My table would be gone! I made a bee-line for the patio, passing the rugs on my way. I did a quick price check – they were all at least $150. Ouch! And, noooo way!

I made it to the patio and the table was even cooler (funkier, rustier) in real life. I located the price tag. Guess how much it was? As a reminder, this is what we’re looking at:

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$500?

Not even close! $1000?

Nope. 

$1525. Yes. You read that right. $1525 for an old, rusty table with a FAKE slate top. Apparently it’s a collectable, vintage set according to eBay. #thanksebay

The lurker guy sensed my disappointment, told me that the seller would be open for negotiation, and asked what I’d been hoping to spend. I told him my max was $200. He said, “Well, it never hurts to ask.” Which is usually my motto (at work), but I highly doubted she’d drop the price by $1300. I was beginning to worry my 45 minute BCOD drive was going to be a waste of time, sleep, and gas.

Ok. The chair. Maybe I’d have a chance there. I finally found it (after passing a few more too-expensive rugs) and …. $300. #notgonnahappen Ugh. 

I decided to do a more thorough tour of the house and see if I could redeem this trip. I noticed some AMAZING vintage orange duck-patterned curtains. I can’t even describe them (in my excitement—and confidence she’d sell them to me—I forgot to take a picture). They were so tacky they were awesome. Do you know what I mean? I have no idea where I’d put them, but I needed them. I ran back upstairs to ask the price on them and she wanted $100. Seriously!?! I can’t believe anyone would pay that much for old, tacky curtains. At that point, I made her my offer on the table and she told me I could leave my name and number and she’d call if either item was still left at the end of the weekend. #shesnotcalling

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I did one more pass through and spent some time at the bookshelf. I discovered a stack of skiing books from the 30’s. They all have personal notes in them from the authors to the homeowner, calling him a champ. They are SO.FREAKING.COOL.  As a former ski instructor, it’s amazing to see ski technique from 85 years ago. It turns out the owner was a Cornell and Dartmouth grad, was on their ski teams and avid skier, and also a doctor. He just passed away, but was a skiing champ in the 30s…he must have been close to 100 years old. I keep wondering what his story was?? 


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There were also some American Heritage cookbooks from the 1960s, which I couldn’t wait to look through. I stacked the 8 books up and knowing she wanted $5/per book, planned to negotiate. 

I peeked in a back room and saw an armchair in the perfect 60’s-era mustard yellow-green color I love. I expected to have my heart broken by the price tag, but it was only $50! I sat in it, it was comfortable. Ok! This day wasn’t going to be a bust.

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I put on my American Pickers bundling hat and went out to negotiate. Her offer was $40 for the chair and $40 for all the books. I pulled a Frank, summarizing what I was buying and offered her $60 for all of it. And I got it! 

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Moral of the Story #1: Unlike yard sales, Estate Sales have fancy stuff that will be priced appropriately. Otherwise they’d call it a yard sale.

Moral of the Story #2: Taz approves of the chair choice.

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Moral of the Story #3: The goal should always be to match your library to your decor. 😉

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{Grown Up Moments} Getting Fancy

Do you ever have those moments who you really feel like a grown up? Despite actually being a grown up for quite some time? I do, but what entertains me is that they’re not the ones you’d expect, they’re super random little moments. I thought I’d post those moments from time to time, mostly for my own amusement.

Here’s a short list of some of the moments I would have expected to make me feel really grown up:
– Earning a master’s degree while working as a consultant for the United Nations
– Getting married and becoming a stepmom
– Signing that scary mortgage document and buying our first home
– Adopting a dog (twice)
– Becoming a Director at work (twice)
– Having a team work for me and having my success directly related to the employment of at least 20 people

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I do wonder if most of these moments don’t feel like grown up moments because in most of those cases, I usually feel like I’m fooling everyone and soon they’ll discover I don’t really understand economics (so I shouldn’t have that M.S.), I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent, I’ve never been managed and I have no clue how to manage people, etc. Basically, I’m making it up as I go. Interestingly, Sheryl Sandberg devotes a lot of page-space to this in her book, Lean In, and it turns out this is a common feeling amongst women. And, guess what? EVERYONE is making up as they go.

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Anywho, the moments that actually make me feel like an adult are super random. Here are the two times (besides what I’m about to write about), where I felt like a grown up:
– The first night at college after my dad got me unpacked in my dorm and went back to his hotel. I remember standing there, with my soon-to-be friends, realizing I could do WHATEVER I wanted. So, we went out for ice cream (don’t judge, we were nerdy, honors-student 18 year-olds).
– When I bought my first vacuum, at 29 years old. Until that point, I’d managed to inherit vacuums from roommates or parents and had never had to (annoyingly) buy one. Walking out of Target with that vacuum really drove home the point that I was on my own now. (I had a dog, stepson, M.S. and Director title at that point, FYI).

Last week, I had another one of those moments that made me feel grown up. Any guesses on what it was??

Wait for it. Wait for it…

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Getting a piece of art custom framed. To this point, I’ve never had any artwork special enough to warrant a custom frame. My sweet grandmother sent me a painting done by my great-grandfather as a housewarming present when we bought our house. It was actually a two-sided painting – one side was a completed painting of a southern California vista (a favorite subject of his) and the other was a half-finished painting of a New York farmhouse. As I understand it, he spent time in Woodstock, NY sometime during the 40s-60s and I’d guess he started it then. It was so neat to receive a piece of family art tied to our new home in New York. 

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I was finally able to get to Michaels and worked with an employee who helped me pick the frame and matte. I loved the beat-up edges to the painting and wanted the painting mounted to show them. I also wanted it mounted in a way that preserved the finished painting on the back if we ever changed our mind. The Michaels employee was super sweet and patient with me as hmmed and hawed over what frame and color matte to pick.

It was super helpful (and reassuring) to see the mockup on the computer!

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Then, she rang me up. Even after the 50% off + an additional 25% off, I had to steady myself when she gave me the total. I knew custom frames were expensive, but ouch! Definitely a grown up moment. However, I love love love how it turned out and can’t wait to get a wall and room decorated around it. 

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Are you a typical-grownup moment kind of person or is it the really random things that make you feel grown up too?