28 September 2011

repeat after me: fam-uh-lee room

With our new house, we have whole rooms neither of us has ever had before: a laundry room, a loft, an attic, and -- more excitingly -- a family room. We're so un-used to having a family room that we keep calling it the wrong thing. Many of our conversations start something like this:

Me: So I was thinking for the living room...
Mark: Wait, do you mean the living room or the family room?
Me: Oops, you're right. The family room. So I was thinking...

The distinction is all semantic, of course, but since we technically have a small living room space in the great room, the living room part of which we have taken to calling either the "parlor" or the "hearth area," that makes the big upstairs room the family room. And that means we can go for comfy lounginess all the way, since this room is totally out-of-sight from downstairs. If I want a more formal room with no TV, I can get that in the parlor.

Our original vision for the family room looked something like this:

That brown leather chair is a stand-in for our actual chairs, which you can see in the first pic at the top of the post. And the sofa is the Lounge Sectional by Crate and Barrel (currently 15 percent off as a part of the upholstery sale). We still luuuuuv that couch, but we decided (actually, Mark smartly persuaded me) that a darker color would be more practical for a room where we want people to feel totally at ease, and where I don't want my pulse to quicken if someone puts their feet on the couch. Another bonus: by going with a darker brown, we can get a sofa that's actually in stock, instead of having to wait for a "stock plus" sofa to be made for us. We got a stock plus sofa from C&B in LA, and it took about 10 weeks to arrive, during which time we lounged on an aerobed. Not awesome. (Though definitely worth it in the end.)

And so, introducing the Lounge Sectional in "walnut":

Would a lighter-toned sofa be more design-y? Yes. But will this darker sofa let me relax completely? You betcha. We've gotta be able to relax in our own home, so comfort and peace-of-mind win out. This guy will be ours in a couple weeks (rural furniture delivery is slooooooow).

So, that now means that both the sofa and the chairs will be dark brown. That makes the accent colors more important than ever, to keep it from feeling too dark. Thankfully the walls and carpet are light (and we'll keep them that way), but that pretty hand-carved-looking coffee table in the original mood board no longer makes the cut. Too dark and heavy. So the search is on for light-toned (but not glossy white) coffee and accent tables. You know I love my glossy white pieces, but they just don't feel right in the new house. In a perfect world, I'll find some amazing, yet miraculously bargain-priced travertine-topped coffee table.

As for right now, it's a game of musical chairs in the family room, as we await our more permanent furniture. First, we brought the brown leather chairs up to the family room, along the Poang chair from Ikea (which very well may end up back at the condo in LA, since it won't have a good place to live in the new house once the sofa arrives):

That looked decent, but we really like to be able to lay down on the sofa, and so the chairs weren't cutting it all by themselves.

Also not cutting it? That mess of wires, representing Mark's "office" until we figure out where in the house he'll be working more permanently. Yep, Mark's clients, when you talk to him, he's hanging out in this room in his PJs.

So out went the chairs (and the wires), and in came the click-clack sofa we bought for Mark's office/back-up guest room, back when we were sure he'd be working from the third bedroom. (More on this to come. Stay tuned.)

Notice some mega cuteness in the lower left corner of that pic? Ikea makes an awesome little bed for dolls, which I knew we had to get for the dogs. But the cushion and "blanket" that came with it were not thick enough for actual living things. So I found some flannel that goes with our color scheme, sewed it together with a little batting, and voila. Happy chillaxing spot for the Chelsea and Bella. Best of all: it gets them up off the floor, which keeps them much toastier.

There's still lots more to do in the room, including find a cabinet or credenza that can hold the TV and not look so bizarrely out of balance on that big wall (and under the big TV itself).

But we already love how comfy the room feels. And because it has that amazing vaulted ceiling, it feels a little bit grand, even.

And those hexagons? If I were a betting woman, I'd say they're here to stay.

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23 September 2011

cajones for color

When I was much younger, 90 percent of my wardrobe was black. I still think black is a lovely color to wear -- it's sophisticated, slimming, timeless, and easy to pair with just about anything. But I've managed to branch out. And now I recognize that I look lovely in turquoise, aqua, and a whole range of, well, blues. Hmm...

Sounds a lot like our condo.

While I am proud of myself for embracing color in our home (a blue sofa! blue leather chair and cubes! and green dining chairs, too!)... let's be honest.

I'm a color wimp.

To put it more charitably, I just like colors that are more mellow and soothing, and shy away from colors that are more (for me) stress-inducing, like reds, oranges and yellows. Fair enough. But you're also unlikely to see any saturated or bright hues in our home.

Now that we have a blank canvas in our new home, I want to try something a little brighter, or a little more saturated. Something that takes some cajones. But naturally I don't want to try anything crazy in the main areas of our house. The two best candidates: my loft office, and the attic. (I know, I know. But if they go well, maybe we'll be open to something more bold elsewhere in the house.)

Baby steps.

Thanks to Sherwin Williams color visualizer, I got to try out a whole range of options without lifting a paintbrush.

Potential colors for the office, ranging from safe to scary:

(I would have listed the SW colors, but after comparing the on-screen results to the paint chips, the hues are actually pretty different, so I'm going based on color idea, and not actual color name.)

Okay, so that orange is so way out there for me that I laugh when I look at it. Yeah, not gonna happen. As you probably guessed from the preponderance of images, I'm leaning in the rich, jewel-tone turquoise or teal direction. I've been wanting to do something in that color family ever since seeing this stunning closet on Russet Street Reno.

Here's another use of a similarly rich blue, from Apartment Therapy, viewable on Pinterest. This one shows how delightful the rich blue would look against a white L-shaped desk, like the one I built for myself.

I first mentioned using a bold color like this for one of the closets in our condo, back before we knew for sure that we were buying a house in Truckee this year, though I was being a weenie for wanting to use bright color only in a small, hidden space. I think the turquoise is ready to come out of the closet. 

As for the attic, I'd like to do something that feels very cozy, since there's no hiding the fact that it's a fairly small space, most of which has a low ceiling. You get up to the attic via a pulldown ladder, so a treehouse feel would be perfect. Or something that feels like you're sleeping under the stars. But, Mark is debating whether he wants to use the attic as his office, so demands nothing too (in his words) "depressing." (Dark apparently equals depressing.)

Some options for the attic, from safe to playful:

That last one is a little too Peewee's Playhouse, methinks, but any of the others could be great. I'd vote to go even darker, so we'll see if I get my way. I'm huge on office feng shui, though, so if Mark ends up working in the attic, he should be 100 percent happy with the wall color. Unless he wants red, of course.

Anybody else struggling with color, aspiring to go brighter but lacking the guts? Any tips for getting over the trepidation? I think I'm 99 percent of the way there, but can always use a friendly nudge!

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21 September 2011

happy belated blogiversary to me

Whoops. I missed my own blogiversary. Well I won't tell if you won't.

So that makes 2 years, 395 posts (this is 396), several thousand photos shared, and many bloggy friends made. Yep, I'm talking to you! Can I tell you how much I appreciate all of you who drop by, even if you don't comment (though I'd always love to hear from you!)? Well I appreciate you lots and lots. You keep me posting even when work is insane, life is crazy and I'm too exhausted to think. And you make it all worth the time and effort.

So with that reader-focused schmoopiness out of the way... A blogiversary is always a good time for a little stroll down memory lane, so consider this my "best of" reel from last year, kinda like the compilation video they show when contestants get voted off of reality TV competition shows. Except that I'm not getting booted off my own blog, and I'm not crying.

Over the past year, we...


Creating a whole new look for our fireplace in LA
Updating the kitchen in our LA condo

Getting said kitchen featured on the Kitchn, part of Apartment Therapy
Getting our whole condo featured as a House Tour on Apartment Therapy, which about made my year


Going from a capricious spender to a crazy coupon lady, and then using those skills as a force for good
Buying our new mountain house with the proceeds from said money savings
Learning to love flea markets, to furnish our new home cheaply but in style (oh yeah, and Emily Henderson tweeted about and commented on my blog!!!)


Spending lots of time daydreaming about how to decorate our new mountain home family room, office and dining room


Sharing a Day in the Life of yours truly
Writing a letter full of advice to my younger self


Hosting a Thanksgiving to remember

Whipping together a dinner party with Coq au Vin in just a few hours
Making some carnitas tacos for our friends Edward and Toby

Sharing some recipes for easy entertaining like chicken puttanesca, strawberry jam inspired by the royal wedding, fresh summer salsas, and brunch-appropriate egg strata

Making some tasty but healthy falafel and tzatziki

Eating some ridiculously tasty lobster in Boston


Writing a short treatise on "you're welcome"


Sharing women's tips for air travel here and here

Whew! I've had a lot more to say this year than I thought! I've been feeling like the focus is shifting toward home design, and while I do love me some home design, I promise lots of recipes and entertaining tips will still be in the mix. Being a good hostess is about more than just having a pretty home, after all!

Any posts this year that you especially liked... or could do without? Anything you'd like to see more of in PoMoHo year 3?

Thanks so much for reading!

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20 September 2011

progress where we sleep

Bedrooms are where so many of us spend the biggest portion of our time at home, it's where we start and set the tone for the day every day, and it's where we look to unwind after the end of a long week. And yet, for far too many of us, decorating the bedroom is an afterthought.

Lest we even think about making our new bedroom an afterthought, the previous owners did us the favor of leaving us with a faux finished burgundy wall. If you'd known me for more than five seconds, you know I looked at that and said, "Paint brush, please!"

I know that home improvement shows have made it so cliche, but I view my bedroom as a relaxation cocoon (notice I did not use the words "sanctuary" or "zenlike" -- pet peeves!). I want it to feel tranquil, airy and not busy for one second. Our bedroom in LA gives a pretty exact vision of what I mean:

It took about two years for all of the elements of that room to come together, and to get the color palette right, and now we love the soothing, textural monochrome feel.

Our Truckee bedroom came with lots of pine in the architecture, from a pine vaulted ceiling to pine wainscoting and a pine window seat. There's no ignoring that, my friends. And painting it all would violate the spirit of the mountain house. Thankfully, the House Beautiful "Colors for Your Home" book advised me that a particular set of colors from Benjamin Moore, most notably November Rain, would work really well with pine. And, as luck would have it, November Rain was right in the color family of the other colors we'd already selected for our home: Swiss Coffee, Halo, Hazy Skies and Victorian Garden. Yippee!

Bonus: I got to keep enjoying a 90s rock flashback, singing "November Rain" the whole time we (mostly Mark) painted the room.

As I already shared, Olympic Premium's primer is a joke (despite the paint from the same line being perfectly acceptable), so we switched to our trusty low-VOC Kilz to cover up this dark red. Even with all the pine wainscoting, the highly-textured walls still drank up an entire gallon (CORRECTION: Mark just reminded me that it was TWO gallons) of November Rain (color matched to no-VOC Olympic) in just two coats. (A gallon a coat in a pretty small room!) Thankfully, that was enough to get great coverage.

The room isn't even close to "done," but it's already a mellow, relaxing place to be, thanks to the neutral walls, muted green duvet cover, and lack of busy pillows or artwork. Loving it so far, but can't wait to make it even better!

The bed is Edland from Ikea, and the mattress is also from Ikea. The model is the "Sultan Holmsta," a firm combo of springs and foam, and it's dreamy to sleep on. Plus, it's really thick, so it makes the bed super tall to climb up into, making us feel like little kids in our playhouse, which is basically what we are.

Here's the window seat which I can't wait to adorn with a cushion and lots of pillows. It was my dream all through childhood to have a window seat for afternoons full of reading, and now I get one that's sized for two. Talk about dream house!

What's your preferred mood for the bedroom? Do you also like something with a relaxed-to-the-max vibe, or do you like something more energetic that makes you pop right out of bed in the morning?

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