outside updates

The weather has been beautiful the past two months or so, and we have been taking advantage by being outside more. I don’t really enjoy being outside when it’s not pleasant, and that probably shows in the overall cleanup of our house during the summer and winter months. So, it’s good for me to spend the time and energy to make up for it.

One of the things I spent a long time on was in cleaning up the bushes by the road. I talked a little bit about the azaleas here, and left with this picture:

Cut back azalea bushes

It’s not very obvious in the picture, but there are a lot of non-azalea bushes in that island that have somewhat taken over now that the azaleas have been cut back. So I spent a few hours outside one afternoon/evening with our pruning shears and lopped off as much as I could. I had to be really careful because there are vines with thorns starting to grow. I cut them back whenever I encountered them, but then I had to be careful because I wasn’t wearing gloves. Here is the after:
Azaleas, after trimming back
(Apologies for not taking these pictures in the best of light – I just know I need to take them when I think of it and not wait.)

I cut a lot back from the other pine island, but you can’t really tell. The thorny vines were worse on that side, so it was tedious, but I think it’s a good start.

Another thing I started doing was quickly pulling out the hose and spraying down the front of our house where the spider webs are going crazy (around our front door). It has really helped and doesn’t take too long. However, our house was at an awkward place just sprawling around the front stoop, so I decided to get one of those hose hiders from Home Depot. Because of the azaleas, I couldn’t put it on the ground, but I think it actually looks nice to have something on the front stoop.

Fall flavor

Fall flavor

We didn’t paint the front door – it was just open. I try to leave the door open whenever the weather is nice, to help air out the house. I just wish we had screens elsewhere in the house so I could get some cross-ventilation going! (One of our cats makes a beeline for open doors and windows.)

I stuck the little pumpkin there for now, but we hope to get a big pumpkin soon. I think it looks very nice!


trying to pick a new wall color

When we moved to this house, I chose a light yellow paint for the entire house (except the kitchen and bedrooms). We had to paint – the house reeked of curry – but I wasn’t at a point where I could think about the best color for each individual room. I wanted something mostly neutral that I could live with for a while, and planned to repaint later down the road when I had more of an idea of where I was headed with the room design. I’m pleased with the color we chose, but now I’m ready for a change.

I want to focus on the living room first, since that’s where we spend most of our time. We have done some work to it, but we have yet to add any pictures or other decor. My plan is to start with the wall color and work from there. Here is where our living room stands right now:
Living Room

Basically, we have browns going on here. I’m a little tired of the really light walls so I am hoping to go a bit darker, but still neutral. I went to the store and got samples of three browns, trying to match the rug. Here they are:


It was really difficult to get an accurate picture of the colors, especially trying to compare them to the space and the other items in the room. I also painted larger strips on the wall across from the couch.


I’ve been staring at them the past week and have decided I don’t like any of them, so I’m back at square one. I actually am not good at picking out paint colors (surprising since I have a degree in graphic design). Painting that wall has helped in that it’s made me realize I have to take into account some other colors, like our wood floors and our dining room table and secretary. Also, I don’t want to be too tied to the rug because while I like it okay, it has gotten damaged in a few areas and I’m not sure if it’s a long term item in our room.

The curtains in the picture above are not staying. I put them up because I had them already, but have since learned that my cats like to climb/sharpen their claws on them. So the curtains will stay until I figure out a solution that will work for everyone.

I am wondering if blue paint would be nice? I know you’re not supposed to do blue for dining rooms, but I could see it working in the living room.

I think I’ll run to Home Depot and see if I can find a new color. I’m hoping to paint this week!


Changes in the living room

I haven’t taken updated pictures of our house in a while, so I hope to do that in the near future! In the meantime, I wanted to talk about some changes to our living room. Last time I talked about it here was when we got our new rug, and the living room looked like this:

New rug

It’s a little hard to see since the picture is focusing on the rug, but we had a couch on the left perpendicular to the window, and a loveseat on the right parallel to the window. It closed in the living room into a nice little room, but I also felt it made the whole main level feel a bit tight, especially when the couches would get pushed back.

My parents were visiting at the time, and we brainstormed lots of room setups to make it more open. We were tied to keeping the tv along that wall because of the outlets. We finally decided to move our loveseat down to the den/family room, bring up the glider, and move the couch in front of the window. Here are the finished results:

Living Room

Living Room

I didn’t think to put the couch in front of the window until I saw my neighbor’s living room setup (they have the same floorplan as us). There is an HVAC vent there, but it’s actually been okay with keeping the couch pulled out from the wall a little. It also allowed us to use the bay window for decor where little hands could not reach. (Then we got two cats, and they kept knocking over the picture frames so we had to clear it again!)

We also put our TV on top of the coffee table, which has worked out pretty well. I am glad to have the glider back in a spot where I’m able to use it more, but I do need to recover it. We had the small child rocking chair there for a while, until the cats started to use it as a scratching post, so we rehomed it to our storage area until we figure out how to solve that problem. We keep a basket of toys in the corner which has made cleaning up really fast.

You probably also notice the window treatments… We hung a rod above the bay window, and some room darkening curtains that I had bought for the baby’s room but didn’t end up using (and waited too long to return them). They are much too dark, but I wanted to see how I liked the layout before shelling out money for curtains. I do like it, though I think this would be a good place for a rod where you can open/close the drapes with rope (not sure what it’s called). I don’t plan to replace them just yet – my cats, again, seem to think they are a great thing to climb so I don’t want to worry about them ruining ones I care about.

Overall, I like the changes and I think it accomplishes what I set out to achieve. The room’s not perfect by any means, but it’s getting a little closer!


spray paint and a project from my YHL book

Originally published on May 14, 2013 at twentysixcats.com

Today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time… It involved spray paint and a project from my Young House Love (YHL) book! I gave our old brass chandelier an update.

It seems that I don’t have a “before” picture, boo. Well here is the closest I have:
Ugly chandelier

One of the glass globes broke a while ago, so we took them all off.

First I collected my spray paint. I used stuff that I already had from a previous project. I ended up buying another can of the metallic spray.
Spray paint

It was pretty dirty, so I cleaned it with a damp rag.

I covered the light bulb sockets with painter’s tape so they wouldn’t get paint in them, and then I started with the primer. I don’t think this is always necessary, but since I already had the primer I decided to go for it.
Coat of primer...

After the first coat of the metallic spray. It’s somewhat of a charcoal gray – I really love this color.
First coat

Closeup, while waiting for it to dry.
Waiting to dry

I just love the metallic finish.
Waiting to dry

Once dry, I took off the painter’s tape and put the bulbs back in!

Hanging up! (Sorry for the not great picture – it was getting dark, and if I waited until tomorrow to take a picture I’d probably never get around to it!)
In place!

Here it is with the lights on.
With lights on

I really like it! Definitely an improvement. Now I need to get some pictures of the entire dining room with the “new” light fixture…


Welcome, fall!

The weather is definitely cooler here, and fall is in the air. I would love to be the person who decorates the whole house for the season, but to be honest I’m doing well to get my fall-themed wreath hung. :-) I picked this up a few years ago, and I like how the vibrant oranges look on our front door.

Welcome, fall!

Fall wreath

Welcome, fall!


Brainstorming our bedroom makeover

I mentioned in my post about our bedroom that I was hoping to sell our current dresser/nightstand and replace with something that fit the room a bit better. I am not sure when we’ll have the finances to do this, but it’s fun to brainstorm.

As a refresher, here are the pictures of our bedroom as it stands currently:
Looking into our bedroom
Nightstand, door, dresser
I want to get rid of the dresser/mirror, the nightstands on either side of our bed, the other nightstand, and probably get a headboard as well. I think a nice rug would complement our room well, and we definitely need to think about window coverings/new blinds. Those would be father in the future, of course.

After checking out all the dressers in Ikea, I think this is the one I want (the HEMNES 8-drawer dresser):

I also like the matching nightstand (the HEMNES chest with 2 drawers):

There is also a matching headboard that I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t have strong opinions on the subject. I’ll have to be creative about replacing the mirror, but Ikea has a lot of fun options.

I really like all these pieces in white, but I don’t know how well it would match our walls. They are a very, very light blue/gray color – they look white in pictures. I love their color, but it wouldn’t be enough contrast to white furniture. I have two options… One, paint the walls of the room to a darker color – perhaps the same blue/gray but darker? I don’t mind doing this, but it does add another cost to the room.

The other option is to get different color furniture. The HEMNES dresser and nightstand come in three other colors:

Unfortunately, the headboard only comes in white so I’d have to look for something else. I can’t decide which one I like best and will match our room. We have somewhat of a blue/tan/green theme going on, matching our quilt – I would probably continue with that color scheme.

I need to find something for between the closets and door. If we put a piece of furniture there, it needs to be narrow – I am always hitting my leg on the corner of the current nightstand. We also need an easily activated light, since the switch on the wall works the overhead fan. I was thinking a floor lamp, but at the same time I would really like to have some places in our room that are out of reach of little hands. I could put shelves on the wall over the dresser – on either side of the mirror perhaps? I still need to think through our options for this.

What ideas do you have?


Project Tuesdays and living room rug

I am going to try something new – we’ll see how long I am able to keep this up. I am going to try and update this blog every Tuesday with a house project that we did over the weekend. The purpose is twofold… one, it should keep this blog from getting too stagnant. Two, it should keep me doing things in the house. There are a lot of free or very inexpensive projects (as far as decorating, etc.) that I can do that will really help this house look better. I just tend to be very lazy!

This wasn’t something we did this weekend, but recently we did make a positive improvement to our living room: we got a new rug!

Here is a picture of our old rug:
Living room

When we moved into the house, we realized we needed something in the living room. Rugs are expensive, and to be honest I was not ready for that investment when I really had no clue about the decor of the room. So, we went to Home Depot where they were having a sale on 5×7 ft. rugs and picked out this blue one. I ended up really liking the color, but it was a little too small for the space. Also, I wanted something that was softer since we spend a lot of time on the floor. I decided to get something fairly neutral, matching our chocolate brown couches. We went to our nearby Rooms To Go Outlet and came home with this rug:

We got an 8×10 ft. which has helped somewhat keep our couches from sliding around everywhere. I looove the feel of this rug under my feet! We still need to figure out the perfect arrangement of our living room, but this is pretty functional for now.

New rug

New rug

I’ll have to use this rug to inspire me when I actually get around to decorating the house!


Changes to the den

I haven’t been writing here much. Mostly, it’s because we really haven’t done anything to the house! I keep saying I’m going to have a small project every week that I write about, as sort of a way to force myself to actually do it. It works in theory, but I have been so busy lately that just keeping the house clean has become a challenge.

We did do one thing this weekend. One of the reasons for my busyness is that I have taken on some freelance work. I have really been enjoying it, but I do find myself spending long hours on the computer, working on a design or trying to get emails out. I was sitting on the couch to do all this, but I realized that it was killing my back. I needed some sort of table to work, preferably in a room where I can keep an eye on my daughter playing. I didn’t want anything fancy because I didn’t want the temptation for clutter, but I wanted something big enough for my laptop and a notebook to jot down notes.

We looked at Office Depot where I got my computer desk 6 years ago, but apparently they don’t sell inexpensive, simple computer desks anymore. So we went to the next logical thing – Ikea! Of course they had the exact thing I was looking for, and only $20. We headed down there to check it out. Unfortunately, my timing was all wrong as it’s back-to-school time here in Georgia, and they were completely out of the $20 desk. I decided to pop into the As-Is section to check it out before giving up. I did find a desk – or rather, a table? I am not sure what it was originally supposed to be, but it was perfect. The best part? It was already put together!

It didn’t take long to find a spot for it, and I am really happy. I can easily see the entire room, and I am next to a 3-prong plug with a grounded outlet (which isn’t always a given in our house). I may switch out this new desk for the table I’m using for my sewing machine in the guest room, since this desk is prettier, but for now it’s working out pretty well.


our new pantry!

I’ve talked before about our pantry (or rather, lack thereof). We have been using a baker’s rack as a pantry, which would have worked great if we didn’t have a toddler. I would find pantry items scattered throughout the house, and once I discovered several cans missing labels (sounds like she’s living up to her middle name!).

We looked for another pantry for a while. Our biggest problem was that the only space to put a pantry also had the HVAC vent for the kitchen, so whatever we got had to be at least 6-8 inches off the ground. We also needed something that was able to be baby proofed. Last Saturday, we finally bit the bullet and bought the one we’d found at Ikea.

We spent 6 1/2 hours that night putting it together. It was so complicated! We only stopped because it was 2am and we really needed to get to bed. We didn’t have time all last week until today, when we finally finished it. It looks great! I have most of the pantry stuff put back. I just don’t know what to do with my cookbooks; I’ll have to find somewhere else to put them. (I’m thinking the secretary in the den?)

One thing I love about this cabinet is it’s so versatile; when we redo the kitchen we’ll be able to easily find another use for it in another part of our house.

Here’s how it looked before:
Our kitchen (after)

And here is our new pantry:
New pantry

New pantry

Sorry the pictures are dark. One of the bulbs is burned out in the ceiling light. You can see this thing is almost as big as the fridge! I’m not used to seeing it yet… I keep catching it out of the corner of my eye and thinking the fridge door is open. It is good to get everything behind doors though. I think ideally I would have preferred something that wasn’t quite so deep, but really it’s perfect. (Technically, it’s made to hold a microwave. So we could move our microwave in the kitchen if we wanted and have a vent-free pantry in the dining room where the microwave currently is, though really we should just save our money for a kitchen reno.)

Anyways I’m still getting used to it, but overall it’s a good thing.


retractable clothesline

I finally bought a retractable clothesline to hang over my washer and dryer for the diaper covers that have to be air-dried. I used it for the first time tonight, and I really like it!

Diaper covers drying