Two Story Cottage

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!


2015 Christmas Tour

Dear Friends,

The Christmas boxes are stacked in the garage and the house is finished.  I chose to step away and call it done despite more ideas, the desire to further tweak, and plenty of imperfection.  I’m thoroughly enjoying a festive house and I know the rest of the family is.  I love how warm and cozy things feel this time of year.


My camera battery was DOA this morning so I did my best with my ancient point and shoot. The clarity is lacking but I’m actually kind of glad it happened because I know I’m going into Christmas with a fully charged, ready to go camera.

It is only our second Christmas in this home so I was still in the mode of figuring out placement; however, I’m feeling much more settled this year.  Our tree is in the dining room and I don’t mind at all.  We can see it from outside which is nice and I’m not worrying about the kids crashing into it.


The family room is full of color and plenty of green.  Each year I get one new thing and this year it was the JOY letters from Ballard Designs.  As soon as I saw they were a Bring Home Ballard item, my decision was made.



Lacey and I had fun making the ornament garland on the mantel.   We put the ornaments on a string one by one and the garland was complete.  You can twist and turn them a bit but it is no different than stringing popcorn or beads.  I had a big 100+ box of ornaments that I bought last year at Target that gave us just enough.  I supplemented it with magnolia leaves, pinecones, and a couple of birds.

ball_ornament_garland colorful_garland ornament_garland

Our neighborhood common space is full of magnolias, so this year I used a lot of cuttings for our garlands and greenery.  Picture me sneaking around at night with my scissors and flashlight and you get the idea.

 dining_table_christmas  pine_magnolia_table



I decorated the kitchen a little more than usual.  Still no new backsplash, but check out my latest way to cover the fruit centerpiece.  Don’t you love that art piece by Salted Words?  It has really helped to change the overall feel.



Our advent trees are an important tradition.  The kids are at an age where they LOVE all of the daily Christmas things that we do.  Finding Ernie the Elf is at the top of the list of course.


This year I tried to hit most tabletops and vignette spots without it being too much.  I stuck to mostly bigger things and grouped as best as I could.  It is so easy to have so many little things and I am bothered by a lot of clutter.

birds_glass christmas_vignette foyer_christmas ornaments_brown

Not pictured -we broke tradition this year and bought a fake tree for the corner upstairs.  We will continue with our fresh tree downstairs but now the kids have a spot that is just for them.  They loaded up the tree with ornaments and it was nice to have less on our main tree. I let them have free reign with little expectation, but I find I’m enjoying it a lot more than I imagined.  The twinkling lights help so much on the dark mornings.

I’m gearing up for the next week of chaos.  We have a zillion things on the schedule with school, work, and parties before school gets out.  So far,  we haven’t been crazed but the last week before break always brings serious intensity.   After next week, we have almost a week until Christmas so it will be nice to recover a bit and enjoy the time leading up to the big day.

Are you finished decorating?  Or calling it done like I am?


Designer Home Tour : HomeArama 2015

Dear Friends,

I had the pleasure of touring several HomeArama homes in Mint Hill, NC this summer.   It was magazine and tv worthy goodness that still has my creative juices flowing.  I just love a good home tour but barn doors, planked walls, and painted cabinets are surely the way to my heart.

Area designers teamed up with builders to create a just right home.  This particular home is a collaboration by the Ullman Group and designer Tammy Coulter. It was fairly neutral with rustic touches and a french country feel.  The details were amazing.  It happens to be my favorite so check it out…














How about that dining room?  The barrel ceiling is such a show stopper.   The kitchen and master bath were stunning as well.  I didn’t get pictures of everything but there was one more little surprise from the garage.


I think it is a dog or pet washing station but I could use a kid washing spot like that.  I’m a fan of anything that expedites the cleaning process.

My favorite spaces are functional and pretty and this home definitely hit the mark!




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.

Current State of the Kitchen

Dear Friends,

With Thanksgiving next week, it is only appropriate to check out the current state of the kitchen.  Honestly, we travel for the holiday so mine will not be in service but we can pretend it relates.  It is without a doubt the most used space in our home.


This is the biggest kitchen I’ve ever had.  Smaller house, bigger kitchen.  It works for me!  I am enjoying the dream kitchen and I might be spoiled now.  Ridiculously spoiled.  As previously mentioned, I’d like a new backsplash.  And truth be told, the granite isn’t my favorite but I’m easily able to overlook those things in my light, bright mega kitchen.

Fancy appliances, lots of drawer space, miles of island and I’m not going to complain.


I’m still trying to insert more of a farmhouse vibe than the original french country look.  The new light fixture helps for sure.  It is from Shades of Light and was a bargain compared to a typical fixture of that size.


I’ve covered the large bronze fruit plaque with a framed fabric swatch for right now.  That is not permanent but the fruit was mocking me so I had to smother it.

Things I’m Considering:
-Painting the insides of the fixtures bronze
-Adding a wood treatment to the vent hood
-new backsplash but not anytime soon unless Santa wants to bring me one
-maybe one day switching the island top for contrast
-maybe one day painting the island but only if I had wood on the vent hood or on the island top


This is pretty much how the kitchen looks all the time.  Dog bowls, bananas, bread, and a toaster oven.  Such things often don’t appear in staged kitchen pictures but I didn’t figure you would judge the essentials.  Of course, missing from the picture is the stack of mail, school papers, crumbs, and dirty dishes.  I did remove that for your viewing pleasure.



The only thing I miss from my old kitchen is the farmhouse sink.  Maybe one day I will replace this one but right now that is not a priority.  Are you cooking in your kitchen next week?


Family Room Progress & Reveal

Dear Friends,

I’ve got a whole pile of photos for your viewing pleasure today.  The family room has been a half-complete spot for awhile but the arrival of our supermodel sofa kicked my booty into gear. I did a little more fiddling, another bout of rearranging, and then settled for not half-bad. Actually, I’m simmering on deep like except I still have ideas brewing.

I don’t think I’ll make any changes before the New Year so I might as well share now.  I tried to get every angle possible so that you can understand the open concept set-up and the long, narrow space.

Walking from the foyer, here we go….











I know antique white is not a trendy color but I’m enjoying the light, creamy palette.  I won’t keep it forever but I think it works for now.  Everything seems colorful and bright which is what I crave.  I think I’m more cheerful and less cranky with light pouring in the windows. Speaking of windows, they are bare and I’ve got no plans for curtains at the moment.  Never say never, but the wall of glass feels open, clean, and uncluttered.  Except for all of those fingerprints of course.

I am definitely considering paint on the fireplace wall or on the backs of the bookshelves. I am debating about what I want in that area.  Right now, it is anyone’s guess.  I predict a lot of swatches in my future.

The only new purchases for this space are the Come Thy Fount canvas by Lindsay Letters and the cowhide (probably fake?) pillows.  I’m a huge fan of that particular hymn so the art was a birthday present to myself back in June.  The pillows were from HomeGoods just last week.  I think they winterize things nicely, especially considering I have a more summery style.

Well, what do you think?  Our dog is a fan and the kids are too as we spend a lot of family time in the space.  Mr. C just goes with the flow but I’d venture to say he likes it.


Enclosed Study Reveal

Dear Friends,

Mr. C’s study is ready for occupancy.  It has been for a little while now.  Thank goodness for that – he needs his designated place for work stuff and I’m more than thrilled that he has it now.  Read between the lines if you will but everyone needs their own little space, right?  It may not have a pool table or a movie screen but the study is the closest Mr. C will get to his own man cave.


pocket door open


pocket door closed

Everyone second guessed me for not going with the obvious french doors option but I’m pleased with the way things turned out and this is far more practical for our situation.

Things were crazy for awhile during construction.  The front part of our house was walled off with plastic which made it easier.  My dog eventually stopped barking.  On day three, I think. And the whole thing took a full week plus several random extra days for painting, touch-ups, and installing the transom.




My biggest concern was that the pocket door would look awkward over to the right.  I didn’t want it to look crammed in there.  However, I think it worked out better than I imagined.  And with plenty of wall space for the foyer and the office.




I’m still tweaking the foyer for sure.  And the office inside has plenty of work to be done.  I will showcase that at some point but it is definitely a hodgepodge of old things.  I do want to show you how it turned out though.

I’m glad we hired a good, solid contractor for this job.  It was so much more involved than I ever dreamed.  Also, they did a great job of matching all of the trim and making it look like the wall and door were there all along.

The project fund is now empty so it will be a while before anything costly can be done.  I’d love a new backsplash in the kitchen – maybe during 2015, sometime.   Regardless, I’m thankful we took the plunge and got the study done.

It is nice to feel really settled now!


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…




Breakfast Space Beginnings

Dear Friends,

The breakfast space is in progress and I’ve got some things to consider.  I know all of you in blogland are full of opinions so feel free to jump in with your thoughts.   As I said before, we are NOT doing a lot of furniture buying right now so I have the same stuff from the old house.  Our table is a dozen years old and on the small side but I’m partial to it.  It was our first “as a couple” furniture purchase.


The little corner cabinet fits right in that happy spot so I don’t anticipate moving it.  I do plan on putting some fun art on the wall.  Maybe some art that the kids have done?

Rug or no rug? 

We’ve gone back and forth about a rug in the breakfast space.  Our current table just blends with the hardwoods so a rug would break that up nicely.  It would also define the space a little more and help beef up the table.  However, the lifeline of a kitchen rug is almost always short.  We threw away the rug from under the table at our old house.  We couldn’t even give it away.   I could always paint the table frame to help define it a little more if need be.


Lamp or  no lamp? 

I haven’t found a good spot for that particular lamp in this house.  I like it there right now but I’m still deciding if it works.  I did get a new, more modern chandelier (pendant)  for the breakfast space.  It was a good deal too!  If you are interested, it was an Amazon purchase.

The wallpapered chest holds all of our school and craft supplies which is a must.   The breakfast area doubles as a homework and project spot.


Curtains?  Panels?

The current window treatments are from the previous owners.  They blend okay so I’m leaving them for now.  However, I love to fabric shop so I am looking forward to sewing either a new valence or a pair of panels.  I like the look of the layered window treatment over the roman shades even though I’m not typically drawn to valences so I may end up doing just that.

Oh, and we eat breakfast at the bar.   We use the table for dinner.  So, there is rarely any breakfast happening in the breakfast nook.  Go figure.




Family Room Beginnings

Dear Friends,

I want to introduce you to part of the family room but first we have to start in the dining room. It turns out there wasn’t room in the new house for all of our dining furniture due to the piano in the corner.  Not a shocker exactly – I knew our sideboard had to go because it is long and bulky. Long story short, I decided to put it on a long wall in the family room because I really, truly didn’t want to get rid of it. It isn’t a fancy piece particularly so it can work.  I did take all of the dishes out and put them in our glass front cabinets so I don’t have to worry about the kids bumping the table.


The color isn’t really right for that room with our current furnishings so I used some decorating tricks to detract.   I added a weaved table runner to lighten things up.  That didn’t quite do it for me so I filled the bowl with colorful items and I’m happy with where we are now.


I might change the knobs.  I changed them for the dining room years ago so I may see if I can find the originals.  I’m also considering a couple of other things on the wall.   The little chair could be painted a fun color.


Blogging is about pretty pictures and often images are manipulated for the viewer.  In this case below, I wanted to show you that our chair actually sits right in front of the sideboard.  I had to remove it for the photo op but that is where it permanently resides.  It swivels so I did angle it better for the photo.


I’m not finished exactly but the foundation is established and I’m keeping that as is.   Of course, now that I’m settled I’ll have to switch my bowl decor for a more fall collection but goodness knows I’m not worried about that today.

It is still summer after all.


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