Category Archives: the house


In the most recent living room update post, I mentioned that we had a bigger, much more awesome chair on the way.

These two Ikea STEFAN chairs on loan from our dining room weren’t really cutting it. We don’t actually need two chairs there since I don’t usually sit next to Andrés when he’s at his laptop. This desk is mostly for him because I do my Internet browsing from the couch. He does Important Things there, like downloading the hottest mix tapes & looking at cat GIFs. 

We picked out the Emme Graphite Armchair from Kirkland’s. They didn’t sell it in store at our Woodbridge location, so we ordered online. Good thing, too, since it was on temporary sale from $179.99 down to $149.99. Kirkland’s offered free ship to store, & I found a online promo code for an additional 15% off, which means we got it for a grand total of: $140.70. That’s some bomb savings, you guys.

I’m loving it!  We now have two big hefty chairs for extra seating (the other one is the purple Morgan Armchair from Like we need really extra seating, though.

Here’s how it looks in our space:

I also took the opportunity to neaten up the cords coming from the laptop charger, the hard drive & the lamp. I used twisty ties to gather up the extra bits, then I used some 3M Command Metal/Plastic Utensil Hooks to hold up the bundle neatly under the parsons desk.

It looks cleaner for people walking up and down the stairs on the other side of the railing, too.

Although the tones of the chair look similar to the gray tone of the couch, the chair is actually a lot lighter. I’m thinking about adding some nail head trim to it to spice it up a little. Not sure yet, though!


Living Room Updates

We’ve made a couple updates to the living room lately – we added two new pieces of furniture & couple decorative/functional pieces.

The first is this West Elm Parson’s desk that we picked up from a great guy on Craigslist in January. It retails for $349 (!!!) which is WAY more than we want to pay for a desk. I scoured Craigslist for a couple weeks until one came up, & we went all the way up to Piney Orchard, MD to get it after work one night. We paid $130 & it’s in like-new condition so we consider it a total steal.

The flowered box under the desk is from Target (for about $15) to hold files & important documents.

The green lamp on the desk is one my mom & I rescued from the trash several years ago.

I put a large white drum shade from Target (for like $15) on it & I’m thinking about spray painting it a happy yellow or moody teal color. Verdict is still out.  Any ideas? This is the color scheme for the house.

I also snagged a warm walnut colored desk organizer from Amazon to hold our mail before we get to sorting it. I really like the contrast of the warm walnut on top of the glossy white parsons desk for some reason.

We have a bigger, much more awesome chair on the way (those are the dining room chairs), which I’ll share more about once we get it at the end of this week.

In the mean time, you can see another piece of glossy white anglular furniture that we added in the background of the above photo.

It’s an Ikea EXPEDIT shelving unit in high gloss white. We could have gone with the same thing in just regular white for $20 cheaper, but we figured it would hold up better with the extra gloss.

The baskets are from Ikea, too, for around $15 a pop. I figure it’ll be a great place to stash toys for future little ones. We use it as a sofa table/console table to hold drinks, snacks, discarded earrings, remote controls, etc.

The elephants are a house present that we picked up for ourselves for about $100,000 pesos – so like $50 for the pair – while we were in Colombia. They’re hollow so we weren’t TOO worried about them getting “accidentally” broken as they were processed by customs on our way back into the US . They made the trip well packed in the center of my suitcase.  Yellowy green & teal are colors I want to introduce more of into our space since we’re a little purple-heavy at the moment. You can see those colors in the file box, the lamp & the elephants so far.

We picked up the small mercury glass bowl from Kirkland’s for about $7 last week.

 There’s plenty of walking space between the two pieces, as you can sort of see here:

This is how the room looks from the other side, right near the TV…

Itsy bitsy changes until we get up the nerve to paint this gigantic room!

Under Rug Swept

Back in December I ordered a lovely 8’3 x 11′ rug from Overstock to go in the living room under the sofa: the Handmade Soho Chrono Grey/ Ivory New Zealand Wool Rug.

When this monster arrived, we dragged all 90 pounds of it upstairs, opened it, & … hated it.

It’s not gray – it’s absolutely light blue. It’s listed as gray by Overstock, it looks gray on screen, but Safavieh labeled it (correctly) as blue & ivory on the actual rug.

The return process a complete pain in the ass because Overstock wouldn’t pay to get someone to come pick it up. We rewrapped it to best of our ability, stuffed it in my Honda Accord & I returned it to a Fedex Office store right before we left for the mountains for Christmas.

I was really worried that the rug would be damaged on its way back to Safavieh because we didn’t have the proper materials to protect it. I’ve had Overstock give me a partial refund in the past because they claimed there was lint on a clothing item that I never wore & returned immediately.

Luckily, they gave me a full refund when I pestered them about it a month after I sent the rug back.

The next rug we considered was the gray 9’6 x 13 x’6 Safavieh Soho Collection SOH821C Handmade New Zealand Wool Area Rug. (It was only $801 at the time, the price has since shot up.)

This rug was a lot bigger, & would extend from the edges of the 12 foot long sofa we have. I loved this rug but something didn’t feel right about it. I’m glad we didn’t get it because after thinking about it for a month, it would be too much dark gray for that corner of the room.

The rug I’m currently LOVING is the 8′ x 10′ Diamond Trellis Dhurrie Rug in Peacock Teal.

This rug is gorgeous. It’s a little smaller, but I think we’ll prefer that since we want to define the living room area & a rug that extended from the edges of the sofa would “leak” into the not-yet-defined reading area in front of the mirrors. I guess that will make more sense with pictures. Anyways. The color. Peacock teal. As in, NOT GRAY. I think it’ll add an awesome burst of color (that’s not aubergine like everything else colorful right now) & fits perfectly into the “Earthy Neutrals” color scheme.  This rug feels like The One.

The Perfect Gray

We started with three paint samples on the walls: (top to bottom) Moonshine by Benjamin Moore, Tranquil by Valspar, & Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams.

Then there were five: (top to bottom) Secret Passage by Olympic, Going Gray by Olympic, Moonshine by Benjamin Moore, Tranquil by Valspar, & Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams.

Then there were eight: (top to bottom) Secret Passage by Olympic, Going Gray by Olympic, Moonshine by Benjamin Moore, Tranquil by Valspar, Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams, Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore, Wickham Gray by Benjamin Moore, & Arctic Gray by Benjamin Moore.

Then we made our choice: Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore.

This isn’t our kitchen, it’s Katie Miller’s kitchen from Little Things Bring Smiles, but her cabinet & counter top tones are similar to what we have, so this color instantly drew me in.

This gray is going in our kitchen, dining room, & living room because they’re all connected & open. I don’t think it’ll feel like a sea of gray because we’ll be breaking it up with pops of color from pillows, art, rugs & accent furniture. I am SO excited to start painting.

Turn of the Century Lighting

This is the current lighting in our dining room over the table:

A dated brass chandelier that’s no longer missing a bulb but is still a dated, brassy eyesore.

We might spray paint it, & add a drum pendant shade for a modern update – like this.

But these are some other, more interesting options we’re considering…

white drum pendant.

Classic, clean lines. Also safe. I think we might want something a little more daring, but this might be the one we choose after we paint & add curtains.

A rectangular pillar candle chandelier.

This one is electric, so there’s no fire hazard but it’s also kind of pricey. I was considering a DIY option like this one by Frugal Home Ideas, but I want one that turns on with the flip of a switch, not something I would have to light myself & wiring something like this ourselves is definitely above our electrical expertise.

16 jar pendant.

I love this, but it might be a little too rustic for our space. It’s definitely a statement piece but it might be making the wrong statement for our dining room.

3 ORGEL pendant lamps hung in a line.

This was Andrés’ awesome idea. Our only issue is that these pendant shades from Ikea only come in a “natural” color, not a crisp white. I love the repetition & the texture of the shades.

Now, for my favorite…

The Pottery Barn Edison Chandelier.

This chandelier is amazing. It looks like something from the turn of the century, straight out of Tesla’s lab. It’s a show stealer, which is what I love about it. I’m not completely convinced that we could make it work with our other plans for the dining room, but right now I’m crossing my fingers.

I think it might look great with this glass pendant nearby in the kitchen in front of the pantry:

Fit for a King… & His Queen

On Saturday we had our bed built.

We’d been sleeping on a double sized memory foam mattress on the floor in the master bedroom almost since we moved in. We slept on my queen sized bed in the blue bedroom for a little bit, but we tended to roll towards the middle & since the mattress wasn’t foam, & I could feel every single time Andrés blinked. Or even thought about blinking.

The bed Andrés had at the condo is built of solid wood & covered in padding & industrial carpet. His mom had it made for him several years ago. It is STURDY. & HEAVY. & there’s no way it would fit around the bend by the bathroom on the middle floor without us having to take the banisters out, which would be a pain in the ass.

We have plans to have some guys come to haul it over the deck then carry it upstairs to put in the tan bedroom.

So we wanted a bed like that, but bigger. A HUGE king size bed with room underneath for storage, that is built extremely solidly &, most importantly, that won’t creak. Ever.

These guys that built our king size bed did an amazing job.

They cut the wood in the garage, then carried it upstairs in pieces to assemble it in our bedroom. I’m pretty sure if we ever leave this house, our massive bed is staying behind.

They covered the two by fours in plywood, padding, then industrial carpet.

This is how much more space we have now:

We went to Ikea to check out mattresses because they have some pretty great memory foam ones for less than $1,000. We picked out the SULTAN FLOKENES & then paid to have it delivered (& carried up two fights of stairs) on Sunday morning for only $59.

The mattress is firm when it’s on a hard surface. I like it because it will loosen over time & not just crumble or sink. I think people complain about the FLOKENES being too firm because they try out the floor model that is laying on a box spring, instead of the floor model that is laying on a hard solid surface. We tried both, & agreed it was great for us.

The off gassing is noticeable but not too bad. Not any worse than the off gassing of the wood & carpet on the bed, anyways. Our room smells weird right now. Actually, the whole house still smells weirdly new. Doesn’t smell like “us” at all. I kind of hate that. In time it will feel more like “home.”

Having a real bed to sleep in seems like a really big step towards that.

We need to get a king sized comforter & a real comforter cover because that one is made from two queen sized jersey sheets sewed together.

We’re going to make a huge soft tufted headboard (that will snugly fit between the columns) & a fabric covering for the bottom (to hide the legs & industrial carpet) with my mom (she went to upholstery school!). The fabric covering will have a Velcroed flap on one side to allow for easy access to the under bed storage.


Our windows are nekkid. I LOVE IT.

A lot of people who saw pictures of the house before we moved in (house tour) know that the curtains came with the house.

From stalking the property records & then Googling the names, I figured out that the previous owners were an Ethiopian family with one child. (The house was a foreclosure so we never actually interacted with the previous owners, only the good-for-nothing bank.) I think this flavored their design asthetic a little, but, then again, maybe not, because a lot other people like Andrés’ mom, aunt & cousin all love the curtains.

I don’t.

I really, really don’t.

They’re not ugly, just WAAAY too traditional for us. For us. So that doesn’t mean they won’t be a lovely addition to Andrés’ cousin’s home, but they were not staying at this casa.

I got most of the curtains down myself using a flathead screw driver. Whoever hung them didn’t use anchors but instead used HUGE flathead screws. I was actually sweating from straining to get them down.

Andrés’ mom even noticed, (& kindly pointed it out, haha) because I don’t sweat very often.

We have four more that need to come down from our bedroom/bathroom & then the long thing in front of the tub (I don’t even know what to call it…) in the guest bathroom needs to come down. (Check it out in the house tour to refresh your memory.)

Here’s our naked house being all sexy ‘n stuff wit her bad self:

We had to take down the tree. So sad. The bay window feels so empty now.

In the corner in the dining room we have the curtain rods & the curtains we’re going to try in the dining room. But we have to paint first.

See those little sample swatches peeking out? Those are (in order of top to bottom) Moonshine by Benjamin Moore, Tranquil by Valspar, & Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams.

I love Agreeable Gray, Andrés likes Tranquil. We both think Moonshine is too cold & blue for our space/lighting.

We’re going to try two more light grays, then make a decision.

In the meantime between times, I picked all of the wallpaper off the kitchen wall using only my finger nails & a pair of tweezers. Nothing else.

The walls need to be sanded because there’s some glue residue left over, but the paper in there came down pretty easily. Thank goodness! Hopefully the wallpaper in the middle floor half bath & the master bath will come down just as easily.