Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inspiration from DC

Moving from city to city can be taxing, but each city brings with it design inspiration!  Here's just a few things I've found that inspire me.

This kitchen makes me want to cook
This (above) is Julia Child's kitchen, current on exhibit at the Smithsonian (you may have seen Amy Adams go visit in in Julie and Julia).  I love the green, love the layout, and love love love the hanging pots.

Presidentially ethereal
 This one is the actual bedroom of George Washington.  We visited his house at Mount Vernon the first weekend we were in DC.  I love this white airy look.  The walls are actually a light blue, and I'm telling you, this bedroom could be right out of the pages of Elle Decor.  Note: He actually died in this room, but I assume they washed that comforter.

A good tip for anyone
My folks have already visited and we went to the Smithsonian American History museum where we saw a lot of war memorabilia.  Now, since Mr. Move-a-lot and I are in the military, we pretty much keep our house free and clean of military stuff (separation of house and work!) but I love the look of vintage posters and I love how completely inappropriate this would be in our entryway.  Which means I have to have it.

Earhart was a browncoat!
I love the legend of Amelia Earhart.  The mystery, the intrigue, love it.  And I also love fashion and the show Firefly which was tragically cancelled. (More about that on my personal blog here)  But it looks like Amelia was perhaps just forward thinking in her style, cause this jacket is just effing cool.  Yeah, it's not really about design per se, but I would wear this in my designed house all the time. 

So, in just a month, I've found a bedroom, a kitchen, a hallway decoration and a jacket to wear.  Not too shabby!

What inspires you in YOUR city??

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hanging Paintings Like A Grownup

Remember seeing these on my personal blog?  Well to make Avery feel at home, I decided to hang them up in our new townhouse this weekend.

But, I decided it was time to act like a grownup, and instead of randomly nailing the pictures up, then taking them down, adjusting the nails, putting them back up, taking them back down, adjusting the nails, putting them back up (you get the idea) I actually used tools to help me out.  Now, this is not a new concept, as it's how most normal, more patient people hang pictures, but here's what I did.

First, I took some old paper that the movers had wrapped dishes in, grabbed a painting, and traced the shape of the painting onto the paper.  I did this 5 times, since I had 5 paintings.
Cutting my pattern

Next, I took some tape and my pieces of paper up to the nursery and hung them up on the wall, making my adjustments as necessary.
This would be the most boring nursery ever is these stayed up

Then, I measure the back of the painting so I would know where a nail would actually hit, marked that on a piece of paper and then used that paper to measure where a nail should be put into the wall on the paper that was hanging up.

Then, I nailed in two nails in each piece of paper.  Sure, each painting can be balanced with one nail, but two is perfect for two reasons: 1) you can use a level to make the two nails completely even and 2) especially when you are hanging paintings in a pattern, with TWO nails, you can slide the paintings left and right (assuming there isn't a specific hole the nail has to go in on the back of the paintings) to adjust for distances between paintings.  I usually nailed in one nail, and then used a level to mark where the next nail should go.  The level has holes in it for that purpose.  I KNOW!  GENIUS!  Wish I had thought of it first.

Levels with holes in them.  Mind. Blown.

The paper comes off, the nails stay in, the painting goes up.  Of course, it's me, so there's nothing that's PERFECT, but minor adjustments were easy (tilting nails and one the rare occasion, taking one out and adjusting) and then sliding the paintings left and right to make them an even distance from each other.

Eek.  Not quite perfect.
And, after all that adjusting, we have a good looking wall above the changing table!  My favorite part, other than the fact that I did these myself for Avery, is that they face his crib, so he can sit up and see them when he wakes up.

I promise the paintings are straight on the wall.  I'm standing all crooked.

What fun wall projects have you tried recently?

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Welcome Welcome Area

It's hard to enjoy coming home to your house when the front of your house is U-G-L-Y.  And has no alibi.  I'm completely aware I've made that joke before.  I can't help it.  It just come out of me.

Here's the front of our townhouse.  Old mulch, dying plants, really says "come on in!" right?
My sad little front yard

So, I went with my parents, who were out for the week, to THD (The Home Depot - we spend so much there, I'm allowed to give it a nickname).  Had to make a few trips because AFTER my dad put 6 bags of mulch on our cart, we realized we couldn't get 6 bags of mulch in a car with 3 people, 1 baby, and a stroller.  Lucky for us, we realized we couldn't do it before we bought the mulch.  We bought pointy flowers.  And some....yellow flowers.  You see I'm great with flower names.  I'm what you call a pro.

Yellow marigolds and flowers.  That's what I'm calling them
Also picked up several bags of EarthGro Red mulch.  I had no idea there were so many colors of mulch!  I didn't know mulch existed until a few years ago.  I opted NOT to go with Sierra Red, which looked TOO red.  Can't piss off the Homeowner's Association (see below) and although I love love love color, it was a bit much.  The plain Red looked just bright enough to go with my red and yellow flowers.

First, mom and I laid out the flowers to get an idea of what they would look like and of our spacing.  Ok, truthfully, we were just getting them out of the trunk, but it was a way to start to see how it would all look.  There were four blooms in each pot, and Mom informed me we could actually pull them out of their pots and separated them.  No, Ali, they aren't connected.  Huh, go figure.  I just quadrupled my flowers!  We laid them out to see the picture even better.

This looks like some type of mass flower suicide.

Then came the digging!  I hurt my shoulder last week, so I was trying to dig with my nondominant hand while in an arm sling and Mom was plowing away with the trowel.  There were a TON of roots in the old mulch, so this was a much more annoying task than I had hoped.  But once we got all the flowers in, it was starting to look pretty darn fabulous.

See?  Getting pretty darn fabulous.

Then it was mulch time.  Three bags didn't get us the whole way, but man, did it make a difference!  It's like going from black and white to color.

What a difference some red makes!

Another trip to THD and another three bags of mulch later and we are looking niiiice.  I also trimmed back the bushes a bit so I could actually GET at my hose.  (There's a joke in there somewhere)

Much welcome-ier!

Now an interesting thing is that big ugly trash can.  We bought it and then, based on the advice of the neighbor to our RIGHT, bought a pretty white gate to put right in front of it so it can still sit in this very convenient location, but isn't visible from the front.  If we had a corner unit, we'd put it around the side of the house, but we do not.  So, we had a white gate (still wrapped in plastic) sitting out there just waiting to be installed when we heard a knock at the door.  Our very anal, lonely neighbor to our LEFT came to our door and the conversation went a-like this:

Guy: Hi there, I see you bought a gate.  I presume you mean to put it here? (indicates the front of our trash cans)

Me: Ummm...can I not?

Guy: Well, I don't know if Brian (owner of house we are renting) informed you, but there is a Housing Association and there are bylaws about installing gates.  Here is a copy of the bylaws (hands over giant stapled document).  I'm on the board (a little TOO proud of this fact) and if you want to install this, please submit us a letter telling us what you're installing and why.

Me: (has no words, but is thinking  "if I can't put my gate up, please enjoy the view of my trash can")

So I completely understand that you don't want someone putting up a gate or fence or sign that has a big marijuana plant on it, but this is a bit much.  I guess we'll be submitting that letter soon.

Anyway, left to do on the front: more mulching on some bushes along the side, taking off our house numbers and re-painting them, and filling in the empty spaces with some big pots with flowers or some hanging flowers on hooks or something.

What do you think?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shower curtain first - all else follows!

Perhaps you remember this post on my personal blog about how I redid the bathroom in our old house in Massachusetts.  Or perhaps you remember it being featured on Fresh Home Blog (yay!)

I have found that the EASIEST way to make a bathroom your own and begin the design process is to pick a shower curtain.  Luckily, there are ridiculously awesome shower curtains to be found everywhere.  I think of a shower curtain as a huge piece of art that I can actually afford and don't have to buy a frame for.  And can get wet.  And folds up nicely.  What could be more fantastic??

We are renting a house now, and inherited this not-so-cute bathroom with peeling striped wallpaper and fabulous (sarcasm here) vanity with that fake marble look.  El gross.  Oh yeah, and a wallpaper border that people seemed to be obsessed with.

The original.  Um...ew.
I'm pretty sure I can sweet talk the landlord into letting me peel and paint at my own expense (hello, makes your bathroom nicer for free!), but wasn't sure where I'd want to go with color.  So, I relied on my "shower curtain first, all else follows" rule to give me an idea of the color scheme I might want to choose.

I picked up this awesome, bright, floral (but not TOO floral - this is the bathroom my husband gets ready in in the morning!) curtain from Room Essentials at Target (on clearance for $10.48!).  I was walking around Target and even though I promised Jon that I wouldn't do any decorating stuff for a few months until we got settled, I saw this on the clearance end-of-aisle shelf and couldn't resist!  Big yellow and black flowers - gorgeous.  It's called "Pineapple flower".

Bathroom "art"

So now the bathroom looks even worse because the flowers and stripes are clashy.  And not in a good "I think I'm a designer" clashy.  BUT, if I waited to post pictures until every room was done....this would be a boring blog.  If I had my way, I would paint the bathroom the dark color - black or navy of whatever it is (haven't decided) but that's probably too dark for the landlord (although he IS in Honduras....).  Neutral is going to have to be the way to go. that I'm typing this, maybe I should have picked a curtain with a more neutral color floating in it.  NO NO, I'm sticking with the flowers.  I'll find something.

Recommendations?  Perhaps just a white on the walls?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who needs a closet, anyway?

I don’t have a lot of dreams, but one of them is to have a proper place to put my phone/bag/purse/keys/hat when I come into my house.  Before we moved here, I couldn’t remember what our foyer looked like, but hoped it was big enough to put together a table station just for that purpose.  Alas, it was not to be.  The foyer is simply too narrow for even the slimmest of tables to be useful and not be in our way as we walk through. But I have an idea.

The closet:  This is our “hall closet” right inside our front door

The goal: Create a great out-of-the-way dump station for all of our stuff.

The plan: Remove the closet doors and find a table to go inside for all of our junk.  Build a boot box to put shoes and make sure there are enough hangers/hooks for our uniforms.  

The big problem is that I want to put a charging station there for our phones (which don’t work too well in our house anyway, thanks Sprint!) BUT there’s no outlet close by.  Our solution would have to be running something out of the closet, over the front door, and into the dining room.  Hmmmm……

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Little Garden All For Me

It’s summer in DC!  Just ask the thermometer who is currently taking a nap under a shade tree. Whew, it’s hot and humid, but I’m excited to have a cute little outdoor area in our new townhouse.  It’s small, much to my dog’s dismay, but it’s already got a lot of great plants and a teeny tiny yard that maybe I can even manage!

The yard:
That's right, be jealous of my mad Paint editing skillz

The goal:  A Moroccan themed paradise that I’ll want to lounge in while I drink some tea and read a book.  

The plan at the moment: Rake up the old leaves, cut back the current plants, and really see what we are working with.  I’d like to buy some cute sparkly something-or-others to hang off the branches from my neighbors’ trees.  A couple of cushioned bright colored chaise loungers and a mosaic table (perhaps a DIY project like this one from Fresh Home ).  And an outdoor rug/mat.  

Any recommendations?  Also – how do I keep the mosquitos at bay in this new paradise??  They are killer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Moving Right Along

Our new townhouse!

The worst thing about being a Move-a-lot?  The actual moving.  Sure, the packing sucks, the cleaning sucks, and trying to renovate a 111-year old house at the last minute REALLY sucks.  But I also hate the driving, the physical act of moving me, a baby, two cats, a dog, and, oh yeah, a husband from one state through many more states to another state.  This trip didn’t fail to provide endless amounts of what is now entertainment, but at the time was not-so-funny.

The plan: leave Boston Wednesday morning, stay overnight in Philly, get to new townhouse nice and fresh early Thursday afternoon.

The reality: We left late Saturday afternoon, around 4, after throwing in a whirlwind of last minute DIY projects involving our house.  No worries, we’ll get to the other side of New York (a 4-hour trip) and just stop at a Motel 6 (pet-friendly!) for the night and make a longer journey the next day.  Easy breezy.

Except our 4-hour trip to New York found us, 7 hours later, driving through what I imagine is Spanish Harlem in a two car + UHaul caravan, completely lost.  I managed to stay in good spirits, however, as I decided it was an excellent opportunity to turn myself into an aggressive driver as I cut off taxis and yelled profanities along with the best of them.  Completely exhausted, we just wanted to get to our stopping point, so once we were out of there, we called the Motel 6 to find that they were all booked (holiday weekend) and that the only one available was even further away.  What can ya do?  We plodded on.

Then, we were driving along in our slow little train and an SUV gets between my husband and U-Haul and myself, apparently drafting off of my husband.  Sadly, I had used up my cell phone battery completely, so I had no way of communicating with Mr. Move-a-Lot.  I noticed that I was decreasing my speed, and figured that he was slowing down so this SUV would get tired of drafting and just go around.  Pretty soon we were going 40 in a 55 and SUV was happy to oblige our slower speed.  I couldn’t really see Mr. Move-a-Lot, but the SUV put on his blinker to exit, and just when I was saying “Thank Goodness”, I noticed Mr. Move-a-Lot was exiting as well.  In fact, the SUV followed my husband off the exit, turn right with him, and followed him onto a dark off-road next to a closed lumber factory of some sort.  Mr. M pulled into the factory and this SUV pulled off the road.  The driver got out and opened what appeared to be his trunk, hood, and doors and just stood next to his car staring at my husband and I (I pulled up behind Mr. M.).  Hubby gets out of his car and comes to my window with a map.  I immediately say “Who the F is this guy?” and Mr. M says he doesn’t know and tries to show me something on a map.  Well, I wasn’t so much in the mood to get murdered or held up, so I told him to put the stupid map away, get in his car and high tail it out of there, which he did.  For the next 20 minutes, I came up with various scenarios as to what was going on.  He was probably a sex trafficker and thought Jon had child prostitutes in his U-Haul and was waiting for a hand off.  I probably should have gotten his license plate and called him in and then I would be a big freakin’ hero.  But, I was tired, hungry, and had a baby and a zoo in my car, so we just drove on.  A bit disarming, though.

So, at 2:30 we rolled into the junkiest Motel 6 you’ve ever seen, but, hey, they take pets and we have them, so who cares?  Three trips into the dirty hotel room later, we are ready to completely pass out when Baby Move-a-Lot announces he’s quite well-rested and in need of food and entertainment.  No problem, a bottle of formula will zonk him out.  Oh wait, there’s no more formula in the diaper bag?  It’s packed somewhere in our U-Haul you say?  There’s no shutting this kid up without formula?  FANTASTIC.  At 4:30 in the morning, as Mr. M and I have passed the 22 hour mark for being awake, Baby M decides he’s ready to snooze.  How kind of the young prince.  We completely pass out amidst a set of freaked out dog and cats.

Thankfully the next day was uneventful.  It took some work to pull the cats out from under the Motel 6 bed (and who wants to go around digging under a Motel 6 bed?).  But, a few short hours later we pulled into the parking lot of our townhouse in Alexandria.  The smell of new carpet greeting us, not to mention the smell of 90 degree humid weather, as we happily carried in our things, all laid down on the floor, and took a nap.

What’s YOUR funnest (worst) moving experience?