Friday, November 29, 2013

Being Thankful

My American roots were showing this week.  Something about that big turkey-related holiday.  I can try to be as Canadian as I want, but I can't not celebrate American Thanksgiving. 

Cayuga Lake

This is our 6th year celebrating it in upstate New York, where my aunt and uncle live.  My mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law and sister all caravan here from the Midwest.  We rent a house on the lake, so it's a true getaway for everyone. 

Freezing Cold Hike

This is the first year it snowed while we're here.  Thank god I packed the boots. 

Taughannock Falls

But it didn't matter. Middle child couldn't feel his feet midway through the hike.

Kid Table

It's the first year the cousins sat together unattended for more than 5 seconds. 


And the first time all adults were in the picture together.  Thank you, middle child. 

And thank you, family, for making it another memorable turkey day.

Guest Post: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

I'm guest posting over on 4mothers1blog again this week. 

Ok, did you start singing Aaliyah's song when you read this post's title, too?  Or am I AGE-ing myself....!!??

Sunday, November 24, 2013

House Tour: Dining Room

A special thanks to Jane for choosing our bathroom as an inspiration!  Do you follow Modern Jane?  You should.  She's good.  And she's in the middle of renovating Canada's Ugliest Bathroom...her words, not mine...

Next up on the house tour, post renovation, seen here on this little old the dining room.  There was a little sneak peek of this room's former color on the last post with the real befores of the living room.  As opposed to the fake white ones.

Because there's nothing better than the real deal before, especially when it's ugly. 

Get ready for ugly.

View from the Living Room

Purple!  Yes, that is a purple dining room.  Deep purple.  Like royalty.  Except no royal would paint a wall, much less a room, that color.

Bay Window in the Dining Room

Forgive this mash up of two pictures.  Back then I wasn't snapping away with the intent to show anyone, much less everyone.  But here you can see the focal point of the room.  The bay window.  Attractive selling point for a semi-detached home.

But not an attractive color!  I still can't believe we lived with it for seven years.  SEVEN YEARS!  Well, until this room changed to...

Next Color

...Sage Green!?  In here, too?  Yes, before we painted everything white, we painted this room to match the living room.  Lesson learned.  Then came time for the reno.


Whoa!  Did you catch all that?  Me either.  Let's break it down.

First of all, those cabinets.  They define the dining room space, but flow from the kitchen effortlessly.  It's all in the countertop. 


We used the same caesarstone (Pure White) from the kitchen countertop and extended it into the dining room.  The credit for this one goes to Kirsten, the brains behind the layout of this renovation.  Now that dining room built-in not only compliments the kitchen but also functions as an extension of it for entertaining.


And the cabinets themselves...


Ikea cabinets, the same as the kitchen.  But these are uppers, installed on their sides.  I know... I KNOW! 

Now you see it!

Perfect for maximum storage capacity.  Obviously, right now these hold whatever needs to be hidden.  Mostly placemats, paper, markers and other art items...all kid related.  I need an organization intervention here immediately.

Since the doors aren't meant to hang down, being pulled by gravity, we made some adjustments.  There are chains to support the hinges in case a door slips out of someone's hand (happened already).  They will absorb the drop instead of a handle denting the floor.  There are also magnets installed at the top of each door so it "catches" each time it closes.  Good safety feature for kids...and adults with butterfingers.

Home Base

Here's my favorite part of the storage.  The media "home base."  That's the cable box and IR extender which allows us to store the box away from the TV, yet still control it behind a closed door.  To the right of the box we keep our modem, router and all other media related boxes and plugs and wires...all of which are connected to the TV through a conduit (plastic pipe) that we hid in the wall.  It's not very pretty, but I love that we can keep it all BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, yet access it immediately when needed.

But enough of all that.  How about some more before and afters...

...Then Green...
After (by Justice Darragh for AT)

We bought those white chairs before we decided to renovate, in an attempt to upgrade our kitchen without blowing the bank.  We loved them, so they stayed.  Comfortable enough to sit in long after dinner is over...and clean up with Fantastik or Magic Eraser.  How family friendly is that!?

Green Before

And that table was a pre-renovation purchase, too.  I found it at Guff.  It was lonely because after many requests, the chairs were sold separately from the table.  So it was marked waaaaay down.  And was the perrrrrfect size for our old eat-in kitchen.  When it came completely apart so I could throw it in the trunk of my car, there was no way it wasn't coming home with me.

From the Entry - Before
From the Entry - After

The biggest thing that blows me away now is how much space we have and how we use every square inch of it.  Previously, the dining room was dead space for us.  We ate in our kitchen and watched TV in our living room.  The dining room was a place we walked through but never spent any time in.

Kirsten made a point of maintaining negative space in the dining room - between it and the kitchen as well as it and the living room.  You can see how much space there is in the picture above.  But there are no gaping holes asking for extra furniture.  Our family of five can easily move around -even all in the same room- without tripping over or bumping into each other.

Off Center

But maintaining that negative space & balance between "rooms" means our table is off center.  The good news is, you'd have to look for it.  This picture is taken standing on my tippy-toes looking over the basement staircase railing.  Not a view you'd normally see. 

The table is centered in the space, which doesn't center with the window.  And since we couldn't move the window, we decided to forgo a chandelier over the table...which would accentuate the off centered-ness even more.  Instead, the table is centered in the space and the potlights are centered over the table.  And all is right with the world.

Green Before
After (by Justice Darragh for AT)

All in all, our open concept space is working wonderfully for us.  We have no dead or repeated space.  The flow works for the size of the footprint.  And we even created storage without taking too much square footage away.

While there's not much to it, the dining room might be one of my favorite places because of how well it works for us.  But wait, we haven't discussed the rest of the house up close.  Stay tuned! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

House Tour: Living Room (BEFORE Before)


Just when I resigned myself to losing the pictures of our house when we first moved in 10 years ago...I FOUND THEM.

These are so bad, they're good.  I had to re-post the living room, they're that good.  And they're gonna make the rest of the before and afters soooo much better!

The bad is so so bad because the house was staged when it went up for sale.  The stagers hung a painting in every room and chose a color from that painting to paint all four walls.  We called it the clown house because not only was every room a different color, but they were deep, bold colors that didn't work together at all. 

If that wasn't bad enough, we lived with it like that for seven years.  SEVEN YEARS!  I blame the first half on both of us working full time and not being home enough to care, and the last half to the blur of starting a family.  Two kids 19 months apart will do that to you.

Same room as the previous post, just a few different angles and much better befores.  Behold the "Sage Green" living room...

Entryway into Living Room

I have to justify my embarrassment, these before pictures were taken only a few months after we moved in.  Two young adults, not even married, hardly any furniture to our names and no idea how to fill our big new old house. 

The Old Fireplace

I didn't love that fireplace.  The side doors wouldn't close, it wasn't even functional and it took up a lot of space in the room.  But I did love the mantel.  It was the only place I ever tried to put anything decorative together.

I don't miss it at all!

View from the Dining Room

How bad were those room colors?  How bad was that old ceiling fan?  That floating yellow laminate floor?

And those blinds!?!? 

But notice that good old leather chair.  Still has it's place in the same room.  In the same spot.  Even after all these years :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

House Tour: Living Room

Oh, hello!  I'm back.  And I'm ready.

Since we've finally shown ourselves off at Apartment Therapy, I'm ready to unload the goods.  The before...and how and why and do and don't and this and not that...all the things that got us to where we are.  And in love with where we live.


But before I show, I need to share.  Two people who made this all possible.  If you are local, I recommend them without hesitation.  Contact them.  Tell them I sent you.

Kirsten Marshall of Palmerston Design and Nuno Teixeira of Caliber Group

Still with me?  Ready?  Me too.

Today, the living room.  Here's where we were before.


Your typical box of a living room.  Front of the house, sharing width with the entryway.  The only thing missing was the faux fireplace/mantel we removed years ago.  Not original to the house = not a sin.


Is it the same?  You might think so, but look a little deeper.  It's all in the detail.

Like that couch...


A sectional.  I'm in love.  And I cannot sing it's praises any more than I already do.

We LOVED our old couch.  It was a hand-me-down, but a good one, and it pained me to get rid of it.  But that couch had it's day and Craigslist found it a new home.  It spoiled us for quality, so we knew we had to get a good replacement. 

Cut to us driving down the street from where we purchased our hardwood and noticing a sign in front of a warehouse that said "Barrymore" - we pulled in.  Hours later, we walked away knowing we found it.  Our forever couch.  It was a small fortune, more than we intended to invest, but worth spending most days and every night sitting on it.  Easily a top ten decision.  Hands down.

Now, the niches.


We are a TV family.  No apologies.  We had the fireplace debate and it lost.  My decorative mantel is a niche.  And it works.

You know what else works?


The coffee table.  With the niche.  I stumbled upon the table with matching wood after all the niche decisions were made.  It was meant to be. 

But not all our woods are the same.  The niche/table is different from the floor is different from the kitchen table.  You can have multiple woods in a space.  Just make sure they play together nicely. 

And use stuff you already have.

by Justice Darragh for AT

Find three things here from the two before pictures.  Stumped?  Leather chair, lamp and rug.  Big pieces.  Easily reused and still love.

Ok, there's a fourth.  The curtains.  I'll always love those curtains.

But my favorite part?  I thought you'd never ask.

Where's The Cable Box?

See that cabinet sneaking into the lower left corner?

Close Up

It's our media home base.  And I'm pulling the curtain aside.  That's an IR extender for an outdated cable box that whispers sweet nothings to our remote.  Also mistaken for a tiny spaceship.

If you take anything away from this room reveal, hide your cable box with this IR extender.  Do it now.  It will change your life for $40.

Lastly, as all good renovations do, putting holes in the walls now scares us. 

Holes Go Here

We think we need holes here.  We just don't know what artwork the nails in those holes will hang.  I'm on the huntdown for a "forever couch" worthy piece.  And it might take longer to find than the whole darn renovation did.

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's A Big Day

That's right.  It's big.  Real big.

Today, this little old house is being featured on a little old website named Apartment Therapy.

by Justice Darragh as seen on AT

If you want to go check it out, here's the link.

But if you're here because you knew all that, welcome to the blog behind that house!  Have a look around - it's nothing fancy, but it's fun.

You've seen how our big renovation turned our first home into our forever home.  But there's more.  Click here for behind-the-scenes of how it all went down.  

And be sure to come back and visit soon.  Now that the big reveal is FINALLY reveal-ed, I'll be breaking down each and every room of the renovation with big old before-and-afters.

Cause I love them.  There's nothing better than pretty.  Unless you have three kids.  Then that nothing is date night.  Or maybe it's chocolate.  Chocolate on date night! 

I digress.

I'm also in the middle of refinishing/painting a solid wood veneer dresser for the boys' room.  But since I have three of them, it's taking me a while.  Boys, that is.  So far, I found my inspiration & the dresser, stripped it and sanded it.  Any guesses where this thing is headed?

Me either.

Thanks for coming.  And stay tuned!