31 Days, A Writing Challenge - Day 1 - 58 Water Street

I am mostly excited and slightly nervous about joining this adventure. I'm taking part in the 31 Days writing challenge hosted by Myquillyn at Nesting Place. I'm excited about this challenge because there are many images and moments, on both a small and magnificent scale, that inspire me every day. I'm nervous because holy moses. 31 days straight.

The topic I chose is 'Images & Moments Of Our Life.' That sounds very dramatic as I write it now, but I can't count the number of times I've witnessed something that struck me as "us" "our family" "our home" "our life." I love the idea of capturing those moments and sharing. In addition to moments and images I'll share things that tell our story, as much as any "thing" is capable of doing. 

Jumping in…the house below sits at 58 Water Street, and there's a little "me" standing on the front porch somewhere in the neighborhood of 1978. I was two when we moved into that house. I remember walking in the front door to see the house before we bought it, when an elderly woman still lived there. How's that for an early memory?

When my parents bought this house it was one of seven or eight white houses in a row, on that section of the street. My Dad promptly painted it red. He meant for it to be brown, but due to his color-blindness, it turned out red. True story. Better red than brown, in my opinion. 

This is an old house, built in the early to mid 1800's. 

I watched floors being jacked up from the cellar to make them level. The fact that you can even do that will blow the mind of a young girl. 

I watched original hardwood floors transformed from old to beautiful. I watched my parents hang wallpaper, paint, tear down walls, install beams in the ceilings, build cabinets in the kitchen, add and eventually enclose a patio, garden, compost, and live as a beautiful family in a very small town. 

We were an imperfect blended family of seven. We only lived there for nine years. 

When I started this blog I decided to name it after this house because this is where my love of design began, and I had no idea at the time. Because I was just a tiny girl.  I was blissfully unaware, absorbing all of that activity. We were a DIY family before DIY was even a thing. Actually, I just had design-happy parents with skills who enjoyed fixing up the old house.

When we moved out of this house, my Mom and I briefly lived with my Grandma, just down the street and up the hill in the same sweet town. Then we left that small town, and moved to a less friendly place full of people I never really had a chance to know. 

My sister and her young family moved in to 58 Water Street for a couple of years. 

Eventually one of my best friends from childhood moved in. (I told you it was a small town.) This summer I visited the old house with my dear friend. Her parents still live there. Nothing has changed. The wallpaper is still there, and in very good condition, a job well done. The country stencils and Shaker-style wall decor remain in place. It is all wonderfully intact. The built-in bookshelves on either side of the fireplace are oddly smaller than I remember. 

I love small towns and old houses. I love brick buildings, tiny libraries, and ancient broken sidewalks. I love history and the smell of old homes with a story. 

I doubt I'll ever convince my husband that an old house is right for us, but I'll always appreciate the experience I had. 

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And Now We All Love Brass Again

I remember a time when the sight of gold, brass, or bronze made me recoil in disgust. Can you tell that I'm very dramatic? That was when brushed nickel and the other cool metals were the popular kids in decor, thanks to a serious backlash from the cheap plastic/brass fixtures that filled every home built in the 1990's. 

Today's brass has an aged, authentic feel, rather than the bright, plasticky fixtures everyone is now spray-painting ORB.

This whole trendy design game is so cyclical. Who would have thought the warm metals would be so popular again? Perhaps anyone who was paying attention for more than a decade. 

The Huntington Bank Building,  below, is obviously not a trendy new downtown addition. It has been there for nearly a century. I wonder how many decor cycles of gold vs. silver this building has lived through.

I snapped this picture when we stayed in Cleveland two weeks ago for a concert.  

There are no fewer than three of these gorgeous architectural features, standing in a beautiful row: the revolving doors, a standard set of swinging doors, and a grand display window. Why did I only captured one you ask? My impatient hubby was walking at the brisk pace of a six-foot-two-inch tall man, and dragging me behind him.

Otherwise I would have stood beside the brass doors and pet them for a while, all the while purring. 

Maybe hubby knows best. How long is one person expected to stand and watch someone pet a grand historic facade? 

I'm trying so hard to be less dramatic and opinionated about these things as I watch the trends come and go. And I'm learning to stick with my own tried & true style rather than falling for every trend I see. (the chevron curtains stayed behind in Fargo)

But the return of gold/brass/bronze is pulling me in. After passing the gold lamp (below) in Target week after week, I finally gave in. I've wanted this style for the office for a while. So classic and timeless. It was a great price. I caved. Hubby approves. Schoolhouse Electric has a similar version, also gorgeous. Hubby probably wouldn't approve of the price.

I love my thrift store lamps:

I love small details like the antique brass hardware on the jelly cupboard I grew up with. (Side note: I'm thinking of removing the paint from this guy and maybe refinishing in a natural stain. This piece is so old. It was assembled with square forged iron nails, so mid/early 1800's?)

I love this tiny brass container that eventually landed on Maria's mantle:

I love this brass light fixture from Schoolhouse Electric:

This picture made me stop breathing for several seconds:


I wonder what the hot finish will be in five years. Anyone putting money on chrome? 

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Living Room Curtains

I love this wall of windows, and I love the view outside. 

I considered leaving the window as is, but I'm a curtain person. And in the afternoon, with the sun setting on the western side of our house, we need something to shield the room from that sun.   

My goal isn't to cover up the windows, but I want to have the perfect material on either side, and be able to pull it across when the sun is the most intense.

I knew I wanted something blue-ish, without being "country" or too loud/graphic. Of course, the full-length options at my go-to stores were too short. I need at least 122" for the rod to be hung nice and high. 

So in order to keep it affordable, this is a DIY curtain-making project, and thankfully I can sew a straight line. 

I fell in love with this brass curtain rod from Crate & Barrel. 

And the material I chose came from the same line of Nate Berkus Home Decorator fabrics as the pattern I used in the laundry room

Ok, yes, I'm on a self-imposed ban from purchasing anymore Nate Berkus fabrics. But this pattern and color is exactly what I was looking for the in the living room. Not too loud, not one bit country, and the perfect shade of inky blue with a modern print. 

And there it sits, just waiting for the rod to arrive…any day now. 

Once the curtains are hung and I update the pillows, I'll be pretty happy with this room! 

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In Honor Of The First Day Of Autumn

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and it has been my favorite since the day I learned to appreciate the difference between a sweltering summer afternoon and a crisp fall day. 

I know I'm not alone. No one ever complains that, "fall is dragging on this year" or "would winter just get here already?" (skiers excluded)

Maybe we love this time of year because we are only allowed to enjoy a short burst of the beautiful colors and everything lovely fall has to offer: the fragrances, seasonal recipes, sweaters & boots, football games, and the glorious gourds! Every year we have just a few precious weeks to take it all in before it's gone. 

This year I'm playing up the brass accents…

Keeping the decor simple and organic…

Mixing in a touch of typography…

Adding shades of rich blue…

...and finally pulling out these dishes, given to me from my Mom. We only used these on special occasions, but I'm thinking of a way to display them in this house. I have the whole glorious set. I think they're beautiful, even when set to the side in a random tool box. 

I hoped to use the dishes in this shoot yesterday, but couldn't find a way to work them in. I set a short stack in the tool box to carry everything back up to the house, and loved they way it looked. 

They made it in after all.

Happy First Day Of Autumn!

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Ella's Bedroom…Coming Right Along!

I'm not ready to call this bedroom done yet, but the most important pieces are in place. We have bedding, curtains, furniture arrangement, desk & shelves, and wall color.

When I began to assemble the art & accessories, I noticed an accidental woodland theme. *I'm not a big fan of themed bedrooms, but with this collection of owls, foxes, squirrels, flowers, twigs, it happened organically. (pun intended)

*I'll go with a woodland theme any day over princesses or SpongeBob. 

Wall color was a never-ending headache for this room. Ella and I discussed wall color every day after school for what felt like months. When she hopped off the school bus I would have three or four additional samples on the wall. 

We considered every shade of coral, soft pink, and watermelon, then moved on to turquoise, and couldn't agree on any of these. 

The watermelon was my favorite, but I couldn't talk her into it. Honestly, I've learned not to talk Ella into anything. If she doesn't like it, she will be miserable. She has some strong opinions about her room. I can't argue with that. 

We were both somewhat sold on a soft turquoise color, but took a major detour at Sherwin Williams,  and decided to try Hearts Of Palm. I love this color.  A client in Fargo chose this for her living room and it is beautiful. It is a warm green rather than a cool, minty green. 

This is where we are now:

The sunlight pours into her room all day. The color looks so pretty and bright, and so perfect with her collection of woodland creatures. :)

I really want to wrap it up this week. She needs a headboard, art on the walls, a few accessories, and a massive organizing effort in her closet before we're done. 

But I love where we are. It is such an enchanting space.

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A New Bedroom For Ella

This is Ella Carolyn.

Named for three of her four grandparents: Rosalie Ella, Bernard Carroll, and Diane Lynn. I wasn't able to creatively fit Phillip or Thomas (my father's name) into her name. 

She is my wild card. Not to be mistaken for a wild child, she is actually very sweet and kind. I call her my wild card because you just never know what to expect with her. She is creative in a fascinating way. The girl searched "how to make fake poop" on YouTube, then proceeded to make it. It was a success. Peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate syrup, etc. I still find her in the kitchen whipping up a batch every now & then.

Oh, the sorrow she has expressed over the years about not having a cool nickname. Then came the exhilaration of announcing her new nickname: Snickers!

Snickers is one of a kind.

Through the years she has been a constant source of entertainment and wonder. She is the child that makes us scratch our head because of the things her mind creates and her mouth articulates.

She has been an animal lover since she was able to express it. Her first bee sting occurred when she tried to pet a bumble bee. She was bitten by a mouse when she tried to pet that, too. Fortunately, those experiences taught her boundaries with wildlife.

This is her with a dead pheasant. 

We had a talk about disease after that, all the while, washing our hands.

In September we celebrate her birthday, and this girl is due for a bedroom makeover. Natalie and Owen each had their rooms lovingly customized in Fargo. I held off with Ella because she is one of those creative (i.e. very messy) types that has trouble keeping her room in order.

 Really, who has time to tidy her bedroom when there are so many books to read, rodents to pet, and fake poop to make?

Her furniture is a mismatched set, but she wants to keep those pieces rather than buying new. That means two, possibly three paint projects for me, and I can get behind that. 

She requested orange walls. I can not get behind that. I talked her down from orange, and toward a soft coral that we both like. I MIGHT do something bold on the ceiling, but that will be determined after the wall color is up. (The off-white trim continues to be a thorn in my side)

She wants a new light fixture, and has requested a house plant. Never happy unless she has something to care for, even if it's only a container of Mexican jumping beans. Remember those, btw?

I'm working on the design plans for her room, and *cross fingers* the walls get a new coat of paint this week.

More to come...

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The Best Of What's Around 9/12/14

This week absolutely flew by. Maybe it's the excitement of fall, maybe I lost track of time with all the planning and preparation for the first big project in this house, which is a doozie. No construction involved, but plenty of planning and design, nonetheless. Details monday...

*This tour from Design Sponge is unexpected in a wonderful way. It couldn't have come at a better time. I'm ready to set out and explore Dayton with (and without) the family, guide in hand. 

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg

*I was pleasantly surprised to see these familiar antlers featured at Emily A. Clark


...which is the same fella I used in Maria's design below. Love it! 

*Speaking of my friend Maria, if you haven't already read the other half of my Gallery Wall Project, head over to Eco Chic and see how I think through the process. Then go create one!

*The announcement at Young House Love left me feeling sad. They have always been so kind and positive, which must have been difficult with the amount of negativity bouncing around their site lately. I hope they shut their laptops at the end of the day and snark it up, just between the two of them, after posting their always friendly responses. Because really, how can anyone not respond to all of that after while? And I hope they return with great success when they're ready.

Now I'm off to buy paint and explore this fun town. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

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