Two Story Cottage

How to Spend an Entire Weekend Hanging your Flag

Dear Friends,

She’s a grand ol’ flag and she is hanging tall and proud.  Mighty indeed and it only took the entire holiday weekend to get her that way.  It seems like one of those “just gitter done” sort of tasks but in this household we like to make things as difficult as humanly possible.

Luckily, we started on Friday with a deadline of Memorial Day.  We had her rocking & rolling by Sunday night, thankfully.  Only 48 hours of drama.


The problem is the brick.  We were a little intimidated by the whole drilling with brick deal.  I was all, “we got this” and Mr. C was doubting me but in the end it was a team effort.  He might even get the win because he was better at the difficult drilling.

This required two trips to Lowe’s on our end because we really like to run errands accompanied by sweaty, whiny children while everyone is swimming and grilling out.


Tips for hanging things in brick:

Hang it in the grout.  That presented a quandary because there were really only two spots where the grout lined up so that we could get all 3 holes of the flag mount in the grout.  One was too low so we had to go with the- higher than I would prefer but not so bad we can’t hang it– height.

Get a masonry drill bit.  That was important.  It still required some elbow grease and a lot of “the hole is deep enough- never mind” but it was doable.

Use masonry anchors with screws – these are a heavier plastic that don’t crush as easily as the flimsy kind you use in drywall.  If your hole is not deep enough and you try to hammer the anchor in than yes, you can still crush it.  Pliers are handy here.  And extra anchors are too.

Brick is uneven so one of the 3 screws isn’t flush but I used it as a pull up bar to ensure that it was sturdy.  Plenty sturdy indeed.  And I can no longer do pull ups, apparently, so I guess the flex arm hang would be my jam now.  I see water aerobics and bingo in my future.


Mr. C & I bonded over flag hanging.  It reminded me of our attempt at curtain rod hanging in our first apartment circa 2002.  That was a laughable fail so we have clearly evolved.

Memories for the win and we are no longer the losers on the street with no patriotic spirit.

Happy Memorial Day!  Despite the tongue & cheek post, we are very thankful for those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom.


P.S.  We provided entertainment for the men remodeling the house across the street.  Despite working on a holiday weekend, I know they had a good time watching our novice attempts at flag hanging.






Potential Floor Lamps that Won’t Break the Bank

Dear Friends,

We are coming up on the one year mark in the city house which has shocked me into action on a few to-do list items.  I’ve wanted more lighting in the family room for awhile now but I can’t do table lamps on my garden stools.  I’ve started searching for the right floor lamp and of course there area a zillion options.

I’ve settled on the bridge or swing arm type to go next to our sofa.  A taller, classic floor lamp could block the TV from the kitchen (gasp).  The other adult in our household would not go for that and besides it wouldn’t work anyway.  The other option- a pharmacy type of lamp- just doesn’t have enough presence for that area.  I tried our old one there just to be sure.

I specifically want an adjustable lamp so that I can get the just-right height which may take some trial and error.   I’m also looking to spend around $200 but anything less than that would be even better.

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I’m sure I want oil rubbed bronze or black for the family room.  Many of the lamps do come in a nickel finish though. I’m stuck on the second lamp right now- the price is right and I like the style.  The last one is pretty fab but I’m not sure it will work.  I really want to make a decision on this instead of browsing all of the options and doing nothing.  I’m really good at spinning my wheels that way.

I’ll keep you posted!



Spring Fluffing

Dear Friends,

Spring is here.  Blooming azaleas and bright yellow pollen are covering the land.  Despite a drippy nose, I’m a big fan of all things spring.   Most of my decor has a spring vibe anyway so I’m more than happy to put away the pinecones and start nesting.

This year I went for the barely there approach.  I want my happy spring things to sing but I’m craving simplicity during this busy time. Spring sports are notoriously crazy and now both kids are involved so the days are one big blur.  I’m in a streamlined state of mind.









Those dyed Easter eggs are long gone by the way.  They were fun while they lasted.  I may have a slight obsession with eggs and nests and I have a hard time resisting anything so sweet.  My version of “less than” decor may be more than the average girl – more proof that I could never truly be a minimalist.

Spring has been busy with activities but I’ve also got various projects in the works with a heavy dose of cleaning up and cleaning out.  Mr. C’s study wall is complete but the study is not.  I’m working on wreaths for the front door as well as another wood project.

I don’t mind the hustle and bustle as long as the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.

Happy Spring!



Lockers for Reid

Dear Friends,

I had a lucky shopping day at Hobby Lobby recently.  My local store isn’t particularly close so I’m doubly glad to hit pay dirt when I go.  I love their selection of knobs and paper crafts. However, this go around I got a bedside table for Reid.

Call it a nightstand or a set of drawers but Reid is quite proud of his new “lockers.”


I just thought the metal baskets were too cute to pass up.  I got home and it looked like I had painted them to go with his room.


Just happy luck and we’ll take it.  His room is slowly coming together.  I’ve got other ideas floating around in my brain.

Reid has decided to store his important sports stuff in those drawers which works for me.  I’m in with love anything that involves enthusiastic cleanup.   Now, if only I could get Lacey so excited to put things away…



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.




A Tale of Three Tables

Dear Friends,

I’ve been ready to slap my credit card down on two different tables for the family room.  Both times I was giddy with “this is it” only to tuck the plastic back in my worn wallet pocket.  First off was a Grandin Road table that had me at hello.  The minute I saw it in recent catalog I was hooked.

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Those lines are just beautiful.

It is unique and chairs could tuck underneath which was my original thought with a game table.  I kept an eye on it but was waiting for a sale.  Well, bam, the sale hit and I waited until almost midnight to make the purchase.  All of a sudden my computer was loading and then it wasn’t.  And then it lost the connection and you know how that goes.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten it back in the cart despite being out of the official sale window but I was traumatized by the sudden disconnection.  I had lingering doubts about the width being too narrow for games or puzzles and I was sure the universe was messing with my internet.  Also, it was slightly out of my brain budget.  (the price point I’d been thinking in my head)

Enter the second table.


An antique dropleaf at the Tobacco Barn in Asheville.  The guys yelled “closing time” right when I saw her.  She was perfectly vintage and oh-so farmhouse cool.  And the drop-leaf idea was perfection for a game table.  The dimensions worked and everything.  Mr. C and I were trying to load it in a cart when a neighboring booth manager told us that the table was broken. Sure enough, it was but with antiques that is common.  However, when pushed for time I couldn’t commit to the broken table.  I deleted the picture off of my phone afterward because I was mad but she looked just like the one above.  Except there were cigarette burns and it was broken.

Yeah, that.

So I gave up.  Threw in the towel.


I told Mr. C I was putting my trunks back in that spot because the game table wasn’t happening.  I’d moved them at Christmas and never returned them thinking I’d find another solution. I had already given up on the console idea with ottomans underneath because of the dimensions.   I love that look but it simply wasn’t going to work no matter how many times I measured, hoping to magically gain a few inches.  I was back to the drawing board on all accounts.

Or so I thought.  The third time is the charm it seems.


The perfect table was residing in a local shop here in town.  It was a drop-leaf, under $300, and had beautiful coloring.  My heart leaped when I saw it.  It was everything I had envisioned and was staged as a game table. Just what I had been scouring the internet for.  And she had not one, but TWO hold tags on her.

Spoiler alert. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.

I put a third hold on the table, waited impatiently for my turn to buy, and thanked my lucky stars when the holding period was over.  I’m not sure why either party decided to pass on the table but I’m 99.9% sure it was fate.

Next week, I’ll show you how she looks in her new home!


Naked House

Dear Friends,

The giant cedar trees blocking the house are gone.  I’m a tree lover but these needed to go. They were overtaking our house to the point where I could feel it suffocating. The day after they were removed I drove right past my house because I didn’t recognize it.  True story.


I’m so glad to see our pretty home now.  It is like a freshly scrubbed face – all clean but also ready for a little bit of pampering.  There is pressure washing to be done, a few pavers that need fixing and the landscaping needs attention. We still need a little height and architectural interest in terms of plantings, especially since our house is tall.


So this make a nice “after” and a good “before” photo.

Sometimes it take a while to get the ball rolling on these sorts of thing.  We had to petition the HOA to remove the trees plus get quotes for the actual removal.  It is easy to let it fall by the wayside.

I’m glad we took the trouble to go through with it.  Actually, Mr. C gets the credit this go around.  For the time being, we are happy with our naked house.  Any planting can’t be done yet so now is the time to plan and daydream.

I’m good with that.



Master of the Bedroom

Dear Friends,

It is no secret that our master bedroom has never been a sanctuary.  I’ve talked before about it serving as a dumping ground.  Or a miniature storage facility.  I’m doing a better job of keeping the clutter out at this house but some of that stuff is just inevitable in our stage of life.  Or it is just really low on the priority list.

I’ve never fully decorated a master.  Part of that is probably that the furniture isn’t really my favorite.  Or that nobody ever sees it.  However, I’m making an effort to put a few things up and give it a little jumpstart rather than ignore it because it isn’t exactly what I want or envision.


The real master of our master bedroom is this guy.

He thinks he is king.  Oh, yeah he sleeps on the bed.  I said I would never go for that but now I’m not sure I’d be happy without my personal foot warmer.


The very inexpensive bedding is from HomeGoods.  If I recall correctly, it was less than $50 for the comforter and pillow cases. No more pricey stuff while the dog is in residence.  I’d like to mix it up with more pillows but you have to start somewhere.

I finally broke down and bought a new blanket for the end of the bed.  I got it from Target – I like the herringbone pattern and it doesn’t show fur as much as some.  Priorities, right?

Sometimes you just need a starting point!





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?




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