Two Story Cottage

Inspiration: When a Bed is in Front of the Window

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday, I mentioned my window dilemma in Reid’s room.  The bed in front of the window just drives me nuts but it inspired me to go looking for solutions.  I love to browse images anyway so this was just an excuse to lose myself in the hunt.

Most of these involve window treatments but it is still interesting to see how designers either incorporate the window or deflect from the window.   In most cases, you’ll find the art of distraction or the beauty of illusion.

I like that a few of them had sconces.  I think that could really work in Reid’s space.  I love anything that adds function!  Right now, I’ll probably just work on the decor and see how it comes along while keeping that window in mind.

Did you have a favorite?  Do you have a bed in front of the window?


Space Challenge: Reid’s Room in Progress

Dear Friends,

Today, I’m posting “before” pictures of Reid’s room and the “after” is barely even in the works.  I’ve got big ideas but some challenges as well.

Reid’s room has been a blank slate since we moved in last May.  We placed his furniture, made his bed, and never really did much else.  I was motivated recently to mess around with the arrangement because he kept asking to play in the bonus room.  I don’t mind him playing in the playroom (duh) and I’m grateful we have it. However, he used to play in his room a lot at the old house. His new, smaller room wasn’t really functioning for him because of a lack of floor space.  He likes to play football, race cars, and roll around like boys do.

Or my boy, anyway. It got to the point where a lot of Reid’s toys and personal items were in the playroom which didn’t work for the rest of us.

I decided to do the one thing I really did not want to do- we moved the bed from the middle of the room (between two windows) to the wall.  I didn’t want it shoved in a corner but it makes a huge difference from a space perspective.  I’ve never loved the bed against the windows but I want to make it work.



I’ve got ideas but this gives you a general idea of where we are now.  Pretty much a blank space and the room looks so much bigger now!

Truth be told, we rearranged at the beginning of January so we have had enough time to know that this definitely works for him.  He is sleeping much better also which is nothing to mess with.   I’ve just started decorating his space but I’d like to take the focus off of the bed against the windows.


Curtain panels would do the trick but at his age I almost see them as a hazard.  Or asking for trouble.  Also, we have the plantation shutters which is nice.  I’m thinking maybe a sconce on the side wall would help.  Something to make it look purposeful.  Also, a nightstand and decor should make a difference.

The ideas are churning.  With kids, I think a functional bedroom is much more important than a well decorated one!

Of course, I’d like both.






Family Room Update: Game Table + Conversation Area

Dear Friends,

The just-right table is here.  She will forever be known as Three Hold Sally.  Some people name their cars- I name my furniture, especially when it has a story.  I’m so happy she is here and I must say Sally has settled in nicely.



Those slipcovered chairs are a hot mess.  That is not news to me, friends.  They are a wrinkled, ill-fitting, tired pile of fake linen.  However, with a lack of storage it is nice to have a spot for my two extra dining chairs.  I’ve got ideas for new, tailored slipcovers with perhaps a little pattern on the skirt.

Pillows could work too.  I’d love a pop of color over there.



My kids actually played Memory at the table the other night.  I had a moment.  It really was truly functional.  Do I sound surprised? Also, there were no Memory cards playing hide and seek under the rug or yellow chair.  Who knew the table could promote fairness and prevent cheating?  Solving the world’s problems one accent piece at a time.

I wish I’d taken a picture.  A tried and true action shot but I’ll try to remember next time.



I think there is plenty of space between the yellow chairs and our little conversation area.  It helps break up the room and adds an anchor to that area beside the windows.  It is no longer a lost alley of nothing.  I think the finish on the table brings together the different wood tones that I have.  I don’t plan on painting it but never say never.

Bring on the Monopoly.  I might need popcorn for that.




Open Console Tables + Square Ottomans

Dear Friends,

My brain has been working overtime.  Mr. C, be very afraid.  This is fair warning.

For my dead space in the family room, I’ve decided I’d like an open console table with ottomans underneath.   I’ve thought about this a lot actually – probably more than any normal human being should.  I think that the kids could kneel on the ottomans if they wanted to do something at the table – a game, a puzzle, etc.  In a perfect world, I’d also like chairs flanking the console.  That way I’d have 4 extra spots for seating in the event of an event.

I really want to have more options for entertaining in our long, narrow family room…

Originally,  I wanted a pedestal table so that I could pull up the chairs but I’m thinking this new brainstorm allows for more seating and more possibilities.  The dimensions can’t be too large but I do need a table deep enough to be useful.  Some of the narrow tables I’ve seen just wouldn’t cut it for a game or puzzle.

Here are some options that I’m considering but I made the round-up in hopes of helping someone else in the same boat.

open consoles + ottomans

Several of the Target ottomans are on sale this week which is a bonus.  Of course, that means making a decision sooner rather than later which is easier said than done.  There are several different price points to consider as always.  Recovering a cheap Walmart or Garden Ridge (or whatever the new name is) ottoman is a viable option.

I’m going to look at our local Nadeau before I order anything.  They always have a large variety of interesting tables for pretty great prices.  I just discovered the store last year and I follow them on Facebook which helps get a jump on the right piece if necessary.

It is nice to feel like I have a direction – now I just have to make sure I wait for the right combination.   I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Shopping!

Blank Space, Baby

Dear Friends,

Clearly I’ve got Taylor Swift on the brain.   The title is perfectly appropriate though.  January is the month where empty spaces look appealing and full of potential.  With the Christmas tree gone, I’m focusing on the cavernous space in front of the windows in the family room.  I’ve got enough room there for something.

I’m not big on cramming furniture in but this is the case of a long, narrow room that needs an end cap.  I had my silver trunks stacked there as a bookmark but I’d like something more.  I’ve been thinking about this since the fall.


I’m placing practicality above aesthetics here although my goal is to satisfy both.  After a lot of thinking about needs and traffic flow I’ve decided that a console table used as a game and puzzle table would be perfect.  Ideally I’d like something with a pedestal so that I can pull up two chairs.   I could use those chairs as extra seating when guests were over.


Sarah Richardson Design, Photography by Stacey Brandford 

The picture is from one of my favorite designers, Sarah Richardson.  Extra seating for a small space AND a separate game area.  Perfection!  Speaking of, I adore her new book Sarah Style.  I love her colorful, fun designs and the book is no exception.  I wish her show was on in the US more often.

Finding the right console isn’t going to be easy.  There are many out there but very few that are just the right size.  It can’t be too deep (17 inches max) and I need the right height for chairs to work there.  Cost is also a concern obviously.


Speaking of chairs,  I’m trying my (very wrinkled) dining chairs there to make sure we like it first but in my mind I see something different.  One thing at a time though.  I’ll keep hunting!  These things don’t happen overnight you know.   If I acted on every impulse, I’d end up running in circles all day.  With no funds.

Can you tell it is a rainy Monday?




Creative Ways to Get Extra Seating

Dear Friends,

Holidays make me think about entertaining.  Although we don’t host Thanksgiving, I do have other times where there are a lot of people in the house.  A crowd in your home is all about space and logistics.  I thought I’d pull some photos from around the ‘net where people have made great use of their space with hosting in mind.

It is easy to get stuck in a decorating box when it comes to furniture arrangement.  Sometimes to add more seating but you just have to get creative.

Do you have a space that could benefit from extra seating?  Our family room is the spot that needs more places to park the booty.   My wheels are turning for sure.

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Dining Room: Full Perspective

Dear Friends,

I know, I know.  Really – more dining room updates? ? You are probably sick of me talking about my combination dining/living area.  I have spent so much energy in that space but felt that I still needed a full shot for you.  I finally got a couple of “okay” pictures but it is tough to get the whole thing in one frame.



Honestly, I prefer the angled photos of this space but a wide straight-on shot (below) is necessary to understand how everything is arranged from a space perspective.  Unfortunately, from the front angle you can’t see that the piano is actually tucked into that corner (above).


Now, I’m not finished in here.  I do want to do curtains and I might use the panels from my old family room.  I don’t plan on covering the windows because they have a lot of “wow” factor.   I’m considering a single panel per window.  I don’t want to overwhelm the room and I’d like to keep things light and airy.


An upholstered bench would be nice for the piano.  That would definitely be on the someday list unless I run across something.  The existing bench is beautiful in that quality, heirloom way but it is rather beat-up.   I would store it regardless since it is a part of the piano.   Who knows if I’ll ever even do that?

FYI, this post was brought to you today by the letter B.  “B” is for banquette.  I’ve already started browsing.  You know Christmas isn’t that far away…




Summer Reflections

Dear Friends,

Today is the day.  The culmination of six years of imagery come to life.  My first-born, Lacey, goes to kindergarten.  Not to mention, Reid will be in 3’s preschool.  I suddenly have three free mornings a week and in the blink of an eye, life is scheduled again.   No more lazy mornings at the breakfast table.  Alarm clocks are back with a vengeance that seems borderline barbaric. Spontaneous pool trips will be a distant memory.  Instead of talking about vacation plans, we are discussing Halloween costumes.

I’m okay with it.

No more sibling bickering which has been the theme of August.  In July, everyone was happy but these last ten days have shown a cohesive desperation for structure.  The kids are itching to expand their minds and for the socialization that school brings.  The ends of my rope are fraying, a sign of the inevitable.

We had a beautiful summer.  A collage of  happy days coupled with hard days.


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Crafts using random crapola, adventures at the library, picnics, birthdays, trips to see cousins, and crazy dress-up days.  Balanced, of course, by grumbling at the grocery store and the inevitable whining that wears thin.

We lived in a bubble mostly due to Reid’s elimination diet.  A little respite time can be a good thing. Typical summer trips to Chick-fil-A or TCBY were out which put a damper on life for a hot minute.  Until I realized that we were okay. It became a version of unplugging that made me embrace the little things.

Don’t think I won’t hit the drive-thru while Mr. Reid is in school.  I’m only human.

Last summer, I was too loosey goosey so this summer I added a few structured activities.  Lacey enjoyed an afternoon art camp while Reid had a few morning craft sessions at a local kids’ art studio.  The big girl also attended her first day camp, where she caught multiple fish and mastered the bow and arrow.  Sprinkled in were swim and tennis lessons when it wasn’t raining.

Which was rare.


Regardless we swam.  And swam some more. Two beach trips is gluttony.  And I’m better for it.

I’ll remember this summer as my grandmother’s last.  She passed away earlier this month, a few weeks shy of 93.  “Mimi” moved in with my parents in May, after entering hospice care. There was a lot of precious time soaking up her presence.  She enjoyed the kids so much – it was an honor to watch them interact with their great-grandmother.  As nice as it was to spend time with one of my favorite people, it was hard on my parents.  Death can be a long, drawn -out process and although the ending is sweet, the journey can be rough.   Thankfully, we had the peace that closure brings before our new beginnings.  Life is so poignantly planned sometimes.

I’m nervously anticipating the chaos of the next few weeks. The tides are shifting but back to school time can be cleansing. I’m in a purging mode.  Beware the crazy woman on a rampage.

Happy Almost Fall.   Bring on the smoky smell of tailgating, mingled with the sounds of football and the colors of nature.

Assuming the sun decides to shine one of these days.




Hang it on Brick! A Simple Solution

Dear Friends,

For nearly two years, I have had things leaning on the corner porch waiting to be hung. It didn’t really bother me to be honest. Until last week. And suddenly, those things mocked me. The whispers tortured me until I stopped by Lowe’s to figure out how to remedy the situation.


Yes, I hear voices.

Yes, I could have drilled into the mortar with the right drill bit.

I was looking for a different solution that wasn’t quite so drastic. After all, I’ve been known to move things and who wants a bunch of holes in their brick?

Enter my solution.  The no-tools required brick clip.


The brick hangers snap in and use gravity to hang anything 30 lbs or less. They fit with any size brick as long as there is close to the standard 1/2 inch between bricks. My brick was tricky. I had to fiddle with the brads to get it to snap in.  On the porch wall, the masonry isn’t very deep which made it harder to wedge in there.  Once I got it though, it was a cinch. The other two went quickly.  It was just a matter of understanding the concept.


1. The brads clip in at an angle but you have to adjust them for your brick.  Mine were at different angles as my brick is uneven.

2. Voila!  You can see the brads wedged in and adjusted at each side.

3. It works!


Those are some cute miniature corn hole boards, huh?  My sister and her husband made those for the kids for Christmas.  They love them!   A bit of storage is convenient on the porch because we play a lot in the backyard.  Making trips to the garage through the house is a pain. Keeping a few things out back works for us.


That table resides on the porch because it had no where else to go.  I haven’t the heart to get rid of it so it has sat in that spot for a while.  I’m thinking about making over a bench to complete the look.  It is handy for setting out food buffet-style.

Do you have any nagging to-do items this summer?







The Persnickety Nook Under the Stairs

Dear Friends,
   The nook in front of our stairs has housed everything from a basket to a random end table.  I had no vision for it and kept “sticking” stuff there.  Left-over whatevers found their way to that spot.  Nothing ever looked right so I finally left it empty.  Often, nothing is better than the not-quite-right something.  And nothing gives you the blank slate to imagine the just- right something.

A lot of somethings and nothings, today, on a Monday of all days.

During our furniture shuffle, I decided to bring down the little chest from the guest room and voila, it fit like a glove with only an inch to spare.  Now why didn’t I think of that sooner?  It blends with the dining room as if I did it on purpose.

Sometimes you have to open your mind to possibilities.  Think outside the box.

I’m not exactly done here.  I’d like a stem of something in the vase.  But nothing will suffice until I find the right something.
I’m over this something and nothing talk now.  I imagine you are too.
For those that are curious, the books are special “year-books” for the kids that I made using Shutterfly. I’m way behind on that by the way.  
I picked up the Home Sweet Home print from Gus & Ruby Letterpress in Portsmouth, NH this summer.  I took one look and grabbed it right off the display.  

I have a little work to do on the styling of the stair nook.  The dining room is uber busy and shares the wall so I have to be careful not to over-do.  Also,  I can’t block the light switch.  And there is no plug for a lamp in that spot unfortunately.

Most of our decor is on-going and I’m okay with that.

Do you have a half-nook awkward spot near your stairs?  What did you do?

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