Two Story Cottage

Colorful Wooden Silhouettes

Dear Friends,

Happy Summer!  I’m right in the thick of it between swim team, camps, and travel.  I kind of love it.  We haven’t deviated too far from a typical schedule but boy do I enjoy the snippets of down time that appear here and there.  I’m exhausted at the end of the day from fixing a thousand meals and breaking up twice as many fights but it feels wonderfully fresh.  I know by August I may feel differently but for now I’m embracing it.

I’ve made quite a few changes lately despite our all over the place schedule.  One small change that makes a big impact is the addition of wooden silhouettes of the kids.  They can be ordered from Von Jet Silhouettes and I think they are a treasure.  I’ve always loved the classic silhouette but this takes it to another level.





I went bold with my color choices but I wouldn’t change a thing.  The weathered wood on the chartreuse fits right in.  As far as art goes, it is relatively inexpensive and something I’m likely to hold on to for years to come.  I’m glad I took the plunge with this one!

Happy July,




Inexpensive Fireplace Surround Update

Dear Friends,

I have been focusing on the family room since the New Year dawned.  We spend the most time there so it makes sense to use it as a jumping off point for the rest of the house.   I’ve been happy with our painted bookcase backs but over Christmas I decided the brown marble in our fireplace surround was just too distracting.  It was such a strong, elegant look and didn’t jive with the more casual, colorful vibe I was going for.


I had done nothing with the fireplace because in my mind I saw a total overhaul.  Shiplap or moulding, different tile, a cleaner mantel, the whole nine yards.  However, the reality of where that would be on the wish list meant it wasn’t going to happen anywhere in the near future.

Enter my decision to paint.


I spent a zillion hours on google looking at high temperature paints and ultimately decided to go a different route.  I discovered that Annie Sloan chalk paint is water-based and not flammable.  The website says it is safe for fireplace surrounds although it is not fire retardant so stay away from the anything that fire touches.


The graphite color gives a flat, slate-like look which is right up my alley.  I love slate so I’m a happy camper.  I realize that it doesn’t have the variation or interest that the marble did but I’m not looking for it to be a focal point. Oh, and I didn’t use any kind of wax because of the potential for it to melt.  I do plan on doing some kind of poly or topcoat to keep it from scratching but I haven’t gotten around to it. I wanted to be sure I liked it first.

I do so I should get on that.

Often, we hesitate to replace something that is nice or expensive.  Painting over marble is probably a sin for all stone enthusiasts.  However, I spent $30 and changed something that did not work for me to something that works for a few years at least.

One thing at a time and eventually we will get there!


New Year, New Stripes

Dear Friends,

I’ve got a permanent case of the stripes.  Whether it is clothes, fabric, walls or even ceilings I’m smitten.  I’ve been a stripes girl for years- dating back as far as my high school wardrobe.  Just about every house I’ve lived in has been a victim in some capacity.   Why should this house be any different?




I did wait 20 long, painful months.  I’m glad I gave in and got out the painter’s tape.  My house feels happy now.  The graphic element helps define the space.  I sometimes felt like the family room was a walk-through or had a “blank” feeling to it but now I can feel all four corners.

I actually did stripes on the opposite wall (the window wall) as well.  Not pictured today but consider it a coming soon.  The colors are the original Antique White from Sherwin Williams and a new SW color from the HGTV Home collection called Curling Willow. It feels both taupe and gray depending on the light.

I’ve missed blogging.  January has been a month of playing catch-up.  Balancing my new job with everything else has been a lesson in efficiency and I’m finally finding my groove.  Reid missed almost a week of school with a nasty viral illness and we had a couple of snow/ice days but we have hit our stride after stumbling into the New Year.

Happy February!


Going Gray

Dear Friends,

This summer I started a collection of gray paint swatches. It started off innocently with a card or two but spiraled into a burning need for more, more, more.  I may have contracted a case of paint swatch perfectionism.  I’ve got every brand known to man and yet I couldn’t pull the trigger on any of them.

The victim in mind was the drywall around the fireplace.  Since painting the back of the bookcases, I knew that I needed an accent color to play nicely with the yellowy green.  The Timothy Straw was a bold choice so I needed the gray to blend but not scream “here I am.”

Well, Sherwin Williams recently had a big paint sale.  It turns out I’m suddenly very decisive when money is on the line. I settled on SW Analytical Gray because I liked the taupey tones it gave off.

Here is the before and after:



I think I like it.  It is subtle and does seem to complement the bookcases. I have other ideas of fun things besides drywall on the fireplace wall but I’m not there yet. Honestly, my ideal plan is to redo the fireplace altogether but that is so far down the list that I might as well enjoy the paint.

I spy a puzzle in the floor. Nope, I’m not about  to risk moving a zillion piece puzzle.

The obvious thing would be to paint the rest of the room in Analytical Gray but I’m keeping it Antique White for now.  I’d love to plank the walls with a white tongue and groove so I’m biding my time until that is a possibility.  Also, with an open floor plan it isn’t easy to paint one room without painting others.

I feel like painting that little old wall is a small thing that makes a big difference.  It feels much more finished which is a good feeling.

Details for the win.



Going Bold in the Family Room

Dear Friends,

August is here and the last few weeks have just flown by.  We spent a week at the beach and had a week of Vacation Bible School- both were equal parts fun and exhausting.  Teaching VBS reminded me to be extra thankful for those classroom teachers come fall. I’m finally catching my breath but school and all that comes with it is just around the corner.  We are squeezing what we can out of the rest of summer.

The kiddos are a getting a bit cranky as they do every August, although I’m not sure I’ll know grumpy until that first full week has stripped them down to their bare reserves.   Count me in there with them.

I got started on a project in the family room that has a cheerful feel and I’m a girl who likes a happy house.



The back of the family room bookcases is now Timothy Straw by Benjamin Moore.  It is a bold greenish-yellow color that had me at hello.   The fireplace wall needs paint or a treatment for sure.   I’ve been twirling that around in my mind for months.  It may get painted for now although I need to determine a color.  Maybe down the road I could do tongue and groove or shiplap.   Of course if that happens, I want to scale it down a bit and change the marble so we can see where that project would lead.



Summer is for pops of color and I’ve got that covered.  Luckily, I think that Timothy Straw will transition into fall just fine.  It is the rest of us I’m worried about.




Family Room: New floor lamp

Dear Friends,

Back in the spring I did a round-up of floor lamps.  I was looking at the swing arm style for the family room.  Well, for once I actually placed an order instead of just virtual window shopping. I got the arched bridge arm lamp from Shades of Light. The price was doable at $179 and I wish I had pulled the trigger sooner.  I’ve had the lamp for a few weeks now and I don’t know how we lived without it.

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I use it in the evening to keep things light in the family room.  It is great for reading and a little ambiance.  It has a push button this sits on the floor – the kids love that you can turn it on and off with your foot.  Yeah, that was a fun game for a while.  Or not.


Because we don’t have room for a sofa table, the lamp helps create a more solid foundation between the family room and kitchen.  It softens the lines of the sofa and adds much needed height.


Look closely in the background and there is a sneak peek of a project I’ve been working on this summer.  I’m hoping it makes the blog next week. Summer is not a great time for blogging but it is a pretty good time for me to get some stuff done on the always growing honey-do-it-yourself list.

The striped pillows below are my original sofa pillows circa 2002.  I painstakingly picked out that fabric and those are still my colors.  I dug them out of hiding the other day – I’ll keep them around for summer anyway.


A floor lamp won’t solve the world’s problems but it has made my day to day life a little bit easier and much more pleasant.

Cheers to not sitting in the darkness.


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!



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?




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