Two Story Cottage

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.


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.




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?




A Banquette Surprise

Dear Friends,

Is is Christmas or what?  Mr C’s parents graciously gifted us with the banquette of our choice for the dining room.  I know- I’m a lucky girl.  A sofa and a banquette all in a few month period. Isn’t it funny how things go in cycles?  No big furniture purchases for years and then “bam” it all happens at once.  Of course, a new house does weigh into the likelihood of a furniture acquisition.

I looked at so many banquettes online that I’m a living, breathing banquette expert.  I particularly loved one from Ballard Designs but I didn’t get it because it was four feet wide which I discovered was pretty typical.  I ended up finding a five footer through Overstock and the deal was done.


It is the Baxton Studio Modern Banquette Bench in linen.


I think the nailhead trim is the perfect detail.


Yes, I really need to iron those slipcovers.

I feel like the banquette bench completes the dining room/living room.  No, I don’t have a pedestal table so it isn’t perfect but it works for me. It is possible to slide in without moving the table but if I had people over I’d definitely move it out a little bit.  When we have a large gathering, we have to shift things around anyway with an extra leaf and extra table in the foyer.

I still want a couple of window panels but I’m going to wait a little while longer on that.

I’ve got about half the house decorated.  It is tough to get everything done when you travel for Thanksgiving.  We hope to get the tree this weekend.  I’d also like to have everything put away so that we can enjoy the Christmas decor for the remainder of the season.  Hopefully, by Monday it will be finished.

Or as finished as it will get.  Are you done decorating ?


P.S.  The rest of the dining/living room combo can be seen here.

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!

China Cabinet Project + Dining Room Lighting

Dear Friends,

I’m not going to be hanging any wallpaper on the ceiling in this house for now, but I still wanted to have some fun with my favorite decorating tool. The china cabinet is front and center in the dining room so I decided it deserved a wallpaper update. It also acts as a divider between the two sides or our dining space combination.


If you remember, we are trying to get a buy one get one free with our dining room by including a piano and sitting area. Ambitious to say the least.  Maybe crazy is a better term.


I felt like the china cabinet needed to be a focal point and now it is. I hung the wallpaper using command strips.  I tried two other versions of tape first but ultimately the paper fell. Now it is super secure and has been in place for over a month. The best part is that I can change my mind some day and not ruin my nice cabinet.


Yes, that is the exact same wallpaper I used at the old house.  Hey, at least it is in a new spot.  I’m boring but I figured there was no need to reinvent the wheel when I loved it and had an extra roll or two.

I decided to fill the shelves with almost all glass and crystal so as not to make them too busy with the patterned backdrop.


Also, I thought I’d show you our new chandelier. I needed something that wasn’t heavy because this space is going to be full of furnishings. I had to hang it high because it isn’t over a table so I’m glad it ended up working.

It is the Lourdes Chandelier from Ballard Designs. I just love it to be honest. I knew I wanted it and I saved a few months of Craig’s List and consignment proceeds for it.


I promise I will show you more of the room coming together. I’m saving for a banquette but I won’t make you wait until I have the funds for that.

I highly recommend the wallpaper backdrop because it took less than 30 minutes, is removable, and makes an impact.  All desirable qualities in my book!




Don’t Judge Me: Methods for Crumb Removal

Dear Friends,

One snow day last week, I decided to do a little hard core cleaning of our kitchen table. Technically, it belongs to my in-laws and I was feeling guilty that it looked rather rough.  I decided to use a little elbow grease and try to get the crayon, paint, and glue off of the table.

That was all fine and dandy until I had a nasty surprise and it still gives me the chills.


We keep the table leaves in the table but the cracks are visible because of the way it joins.  It just so happens that two years worth of crumbs were hiding in those table leaves.

I wanted to shrivel up and crawl into the corner.  I truly got the nauseous chills feeling that starts in your face and travels to your toes.  I practically had to shove my head between my knees.


I had no clue that I was hosting a crumbfest right in my own kitchen.  It is a wonder we don’t have roaches or mice.  Or worse- whatever that would be.

Knock on wood.


So, to clean dried stuck-on crumbs on table leaves or anything else, I recommend an old credit card and a Magic Eraser.  I had to scrape the crumbs and follow with the Eraser.  They were glued on and it was no joke to get them off.   There were two leaves, so four sides on those, plus the sides of the table.

After de-crumbing for over an hour, I decided that the table needed a little polish.  Not knowing the wood type, I didn’t want to harm it so I went the natural route.


Coconut oil is the cure for anything I tell you.  I melted a little and put it on a cloth.  Of course, I waxed on and off, Karate Kid style.  Buffed a little but not really that just sounds like something you should do.  Bascially, I wiped down any streaky spots but it was quick and easy.  Unlike the crumb crusade.


The dull tone of the wood disappeared and it is all bright and shiny again.

The whole thing is so clean that I would eat right off the bare naked table.   And I’ll be cleaning those leaves at least once a week now thank -you -very -much.




Fun Desks that Won’t Break the Bank

Dear Friends,

My workspace came together quickly for once. The fact that I walked into Target and came out with a desk makes me sound decisive.  Although a record-setting purchase,  the process was a little more involved.  I’m not one of those people that can just buy something.  I have to research it do death.  Everything from price point, to size, to look, to online reviews.

I have commitment issues.  Maybe I should call Chris Harrison and ask for my own show. Don’t even ask me to go car shopping.  I’ll make lots of lists with columns and test drive 42 cars and spin around in a little circle until I buy the first one I liked to begin with.

Fortunately, I can share my research and feel less like a weirdo.   I came across many fun, functional desks at decent price points while shopping around.  I knew I didn’t want to spend big on a piece of furniture that was not a guaranteed “forever” so the less expensive, the better.




World market furniture


Writing desk

Painted desk


Target has a lot of their desks on sale right now!  Of course, I missed that.  Maybe I can take in my receipt and get an adjustment.

I’m pleased with my purchase so it all worked out.  Are you an impulse shopper or the “on the fence” type like me?

Re-Mixing the Family Room Corner

Dear Friends,

I mentioned furniture shifting a few weeks ago.  Truth be told, Mr. C was gone for a week and whenever that happens I get antsy.  In the evenings, my mind starts working overtime and I end up trying out new things knowing he won’t have to suffer through the temporary craziness.

I’ve also been doing a lot of aforementioned purging now that Reid is a big boy.  Old toys are getting donated and our needs have changed.  These seemingly parallel things cosmically crashed into one mini-makeover.

Goodbye, toy storage and horizontal mirror.


Hello, open space.  Hello, happy corner.


While the toy storage space was fun to decorate, the new solution leaves it much more open.  The mirror going vertical opens things up and the lack of large furniture does as well.


The white piece from the breakfast space does a nice job of making the odd walkthrough feel like more of a corner.   It feels cozier but much less crowded.


I’ve had that HomeGoods pillow for a while now and I like the size.  I also like that it doesn’t cover the hope chest like a cushion would.  We now have an empty space in the bedroom but it was sort of just squatting there so it doesn’t feel blank.

Getting pictures of this mini re-do was painful because of the mirror.  I kept either reflecting myself or the sun and it was almost comical.  Until it wasn’t and I was frustrated.  When I get the new pillows you can see how nicely it works with the couch and sofa table.

Is it Friday, yet?


A Dresser in the Kitchen

Dear Friends,
  The furniture shuffle has come to a halt, thankfully.  After several weekends of huffing & puffing we have successfully cleared hallways and shifted as many big, heavy things as we could manage.   This has been a good reminder of why we are not moving again ever.

A recap:

*Chad’s office furniture (desk & lateral file) moved upstairs to the bonus room (from the little corner study/living room).

*Reid’s bookcases went to the bonus room to “re-join” the office group they came from.  

*The industrial cart went from the kitchen to the family room.

*Reid’s (& Lacey’s) nursery dresser came downstairs and replaced the cart in the kitchen.

*Reid’s new mid-century dresser went upstairs.

And to think we don’t even have a big boy bed for him, yet!  Oh well, one thing at a time, right?

I really like the dresser in the breakfast area.  I loved the cart there from a visual standpoint but the dresser ROCKS from a usage standpoint.

Hello, arts & crafts drawers.  Hello, school stuff.  Hello, awesome.
It fits great, thankfully.  It is a little taller so there isn’t as much space on top but that doesn’t bother me.  I’m itching to change the knobs.  Like right this very minute.  I’m thinking coral.  And I’m looking into a (working) fabric roman shade for that door.  

Those nine little drawers are begging for paint or wallpaper.  I’m thinking sooner rather than later.

I’m excited about the future of the breakfast area!!

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