Tag Archives: home projects

Aww, honey(comb)

I’ve been jonesing to incorporate the honeycomb trend into our home decor, and went ga-ga over these shelves from “A Beautiful Mess” a few weeks ago. Joe channeled all of his last-week-before-baby nervous energy into making them for me for my birthday!


I watched from the zero gravity chair, popsicle in hand as he tackled the project. (It took a couple of hours over a few days.)


We installed the shelves in our landing, which transformed from a snore-ville junk-piled catchall into an actually adult looking sitting space after the remodel.


Slowly but surely, the nursery isn’t the only finished-feeling space.


I think it has an unintentionally woodsy, Portland-vibe now that everything is together and I’m loving it. My mom finished the Posie Daisychain Crewelwork sampler! It’s one of my favorite gifts, ever.


The quilt was handmade by my friend Amy, for Emmett. The fabrics are so perfect.


As far as styling the shelves goes, I think they need a terrarium.


I’ll have to stop by seed in the East Village sometime soon to get succulents and supplies, but in the meantime, here’s some inspiration:


The “TERRA” Terrarium by Fort Standard

full_Kitty_Terrarium_12Succulent terrarium

il_570xN.360178552_5y1vQuill & Fox postcard set

Terrarium+Tutorial+9Pieced Pastimes tutorial


Filed under At home, Getting crafty

Nursery update: Blank slate

The carpet went in, the carpet went in!


I’ve never been present at a carpet installation before, but I was working from home while they were putting it in, and the smell brought me back to the plastic animal Mold-A-Rama machines they had at the Brookfield Zoo. (Anyone else remember those?) Probably toxic, but I kind of love it. Joe wanted to take photos of me doing carpet angels.

Carpet angel

Now this feels like a room! We still have to get the windows replaced, per Des Moines city code egress mandates (whomp-whomp), and the exterior painted, but otherwise, we have our blank slate and have begun filling it with furniture. It’s a small room (165 square feetish? Not counting closet space), but the slightly vaulted ceilings make it feel open and there’s so much natural light. I love it.

Sneak peek at things getting arranged:

nursery progress

We went with gray carpet in a square kind of pattern, and green walls, so the palate is gender-neutral but maybe leaning a little boy-ish? Everyone thinks JamJam is a boy, and I’ve just had my first two boy dreams. All the others have been girl dreams. In the first boy dream, though, the baby was immediately talking (like Stewie from Family Guy) and had a full head of curly hair and freaked me out. I can feel entire slabs of baby pushing against my belly. A little rump here or what might be a head there. Sometimes I get a full-on inside out punch to the gut, which is my favorite.

Today is the baby shower for the Paluch 3-pack, and I’m baking that pineapple upside down carrot cake again. I crafted part of their present and am excited to post about it.

Last night, I made my favorite (chocolate chip-filled) banana bread. It smells cinnamony and is so good for this wet and dreary weather we’ve been having.


Filed under At home, Baby, Getting crafty

Thanks, Craig: Nursery furniture!

While our upstairs remains draped in plastic tarps (the drywall stage of our remodel is coming to a close), downstairs is beginning to resemble a stall at the Brass Armadillo.


Tail down = Wilbur is not pleased. But he’s been super curious, too.


It’s getting to the stage where we’re going to be able to start decorating the nursery in a few weeks. My grandpa has this tradition of buying beds for his grandchildren (I think I started it when he gifted me with my first real grownup person bed when I moved to Des Moines), and he’s keeping it alive for the first great-grandchild in the bunch!

I had originally planned on going with a modern crib, but then Jenny Lind cribs kept catching my eye. (This nursery is so incredibly lovely, it put an arrow through my heart.) Grandpa came through and our crib arrived this week. We haven’t set it up yet, but here’s the website image:


Reality is setting in that our new room is actually going to become filled with things, like furniture and a child.

I’m not the kind of person who needs to have everything new, especially considering the environmental impact of having kids, but I also know what I like. I had a vision of finding some of our nursery furniture on Craigslist. We hadn’t had much luck finding what we were looking for, but then yesterday ended up nabbing a glider and dresser set within a few hours of each other for supercheap. Score!


The glider cushions might get re-upholstered if I can figure that out, and a few paint touchups. The dresser will not remain that violet color. (Likely, it will go white. I tried painting a desk a teal color a few years ago and that was a total fail, so I’ll keep it simple/gender-neutral.)

The dresser has a mirror that gets attached on one side, and I think I’ll use the other side for a changing table. And it has a matching mini dresser that will likely go in the closet or something.


Pardon the sandwiching, but I wasn’t about to move furniture today.

We plan to paint the room a light spring green and decor is inspired by the sweetest wall decals that ever lived graced Etsy:



Filed under At home, Baby

Raising the roof

Baby needs a new room.Well, baby would probably be fine in a bassinet/cozy corner for months, but I’m itching for a nursery that is more than a nook — a room that our kid can grow into.


We love our 1920 hippo house with its Sec Taylor history and location on a leafy boulevard, newish handmade backyard fence and not to mention awesome neighbors who frequently delight us with cheerful whistling and/or by giving us bacon. Long story short, we want our baby to grow up here. Maybe someday we’ll move, but not quite yet.

Still, Joe and I weren’t keen on having a kids’ room on the first floor with ours on the second, which is the case with a lot of old homes around here with converted attic master bedrooms. So, we started looking into additions. I have job crushes on architects, probably because I used to hang out in my dad’s office a lot playing with blueprints when I was little.

Papa architect

I needed a pro to tell me if I was crazy or not to think about adding on, so I called one of my favorite experts. Architect friend Matt Coen came over for a beer and a peek around the house to let me know whether or not an addition was do-able and let us know what we might expect to pay. When he told us we could probably add another room upstairs without changing the footprint of the house or totally breaking the bank, via a dormer addition, Joe and I got all sorts of excited. Matt doesn’t do the kind of work we need (although his firm does amazing work and he’s a genuinely great guy), so he referred us the names of a few contractors. No way in hellz I’d ever DIY a partial roof demo, let alone in winter.

Simultaneous with pinning dormer addition inspiration and nursery decor, we’ve been interviewing contractors and navigating the world of home equity loans. Long story short on that last bit, local credit unions are totally awesome and Bank of America will make you gnash your teeth.

If all goes according to plan, we’ll start the project at the end of the month and I’ll be able to chronicle our nursery from studs to finishing before baby arrives!


Semi-related in local homes news:

The lovely Marissa has an air date (April 11) for their episode of the new West End Architectural Salvage show, which debuts on Valentine’s night. I can’t wait to see her room reveal.

My dear friends Amy and Josh are selling their super-lovely 3-bed, 3-bath Windsor Heights home to move to Pella, where Josh teaches. Part of me is tempted to abandon our improvement project and snap up their house, because it is charming and well-kept and their yard is awesome and the price is definitely right. If you’re in the market, check it out!


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Autumn home updates

Year three in our hippo house and we’re finally making some tweaks. It’s always good to remember a home is a work in progress, but filming a dorky application for the West End Architectural Salvage HGTV show (alas, we didn’t get a call back and no, I’m not linking to the video!) helped me think that we could take some strides to spruce up a few areas ourselves.

Mom picked up this armoire office for us from a Chicagoland IKEA:

The computer was upstairs and felt really isolated, especially since I’ve been on it so much for freelance assignments, my Masters papers and, OK, blogging. I kind of love the drafting stool, which changes heights – a bonus because Joe is a foot taller than I am.

I like that we can close it up to keep the mess at bay, and that the computer is now across from the couch, so we can also use it as a second TV and watch HBO Go shows. I’m thinking of papering the back and adding cork to the inside of the cabinet doors, Pinterest-style.

Then, we got a rug! Gotta love Overstock for affordable, room-covering options.Wilbur sure does!

This one isn’t as high-quality as the wool hooked rug I have in the den, but it brings together a lot of the colors in our house, and it’s 7’10” x 10′, but we won’t have to take out a second mortgage for it. Wilbur enjoys how soft it is, natch. You can always find him hogging a sunny spot. (Protip: always search coupon codes when buying stuff from Overstock. I added a nonslip pad to the order and was able to get it pretty much for free because it bumped my original total up to make me eligible for a 20% discount on my entire order.)

We moved our FLOR tiles to the dining room to replace the dinky IKEA rug that was there.

We’re still rearranging art, too. Debating whether to hang this Craft Breweries of the United States map in the kitchen or the dining room. I got it from Pop Chart Lab , and (despite missing lots of awesome Iowa breweries), the customer service was awesome. When our order arrived, the tube had opened and our posters had been rolling around in the delivery truck and were crunched. I let them know in an e-mail and within days they’d replaced them.

So, that’s what we have going on around our house! Oh, and the sound of lots of falling apples. This year’s crop is especially delicious.

Speaking of homes: My sister and brother in law are selling their lovely, updated Union Park home. It’s super close to the carousel, bike path to downtown and adds elegance to east side pride. If you know anyone looking, it’s a great place. I love their kitchen.

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Quiet lately

Compared to the hustle of last week, last weekend wound things down.

Reading: The Buddha in the Attic, which is more a gorgeous lyrical long poem than a novella. (Recommended by my local bookseller, Alice.) It’s lovely. The writing is delicate and strong at the same time – like a spider web of words.

Recovering: The Drake Relays 1/2 marathon was this past weekend. I survived, then moved about the house on Saturday after the race with minimal bending of my knees. I am officially an old lady. Joe and I watched Beginners after the race and lots of episodes of United States of Tara on Netflix instant. I was grateful to be pretty much immobilized.

Admiring: Joe’s handiwork laying down the new patio path. He’s the kind of guy who plans and measures. I played in the garden planting our seedlings in the rain and all of my clothes are still in a big muddy pile at the back door.

Stitching: A project that I don’t have a pattern for. Just an idea, some fabric and needle and thread. I’m really hoping it comes together because I love the print and I’m attached to the vision. It’s going to be a present. I hope it turns out!

I love a quiet weekend at home.

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Joe’s patio paver project

Spring took us a bit by surprise in Iowa, with a few unseasonably warm days that brought the skirts and sandals and dandelions out. I wasn’t ready to trust this change of seasons, and have been expecting to wake up to a cruel frosted over world. But the blossoms are out in full force now and so I took an armful of my winter wools to the dry cleaner today. (Which means, with my luck, that even though it was 85 degrees today, it will probably snow tomorrow.)

I love that for a few weeks each spring, our backyard features a wall a fuschia flowers.

Home improvement ambitions also popped up, along with the buttercups and tulips. Now that the fence project is done-ish in the backyard (we’re contemplating adding a few more sections), Joe’s turned to the patio pavers. He’s planning to take out one walkway and raise the dirt level to help keep rain away from the basement.

The paver project begins! Hopefully we'll finish this before the April showers turn it into a mud alley.

The old pavers will be put to use for a new walkway that will cross the yard, like we do when we’re headed for the garage. Besides, the old walkway becomes unusable in summer thanks to our jungle of ferns and hostas that leaf out with great zeal along that shady strip.

Sitting, because we went on an 11-mile run today!

I do love the moss that grows on the little bricks. It makes it feel like our backyard is a secret garden.

I’m going to leave most of that project to Joe while I finish up classes and go on my trip to the TEDxSummit, but I’m excited to turn my attention to our new garden area and grow things!

Maybe we'll get some raspberries this year? I just put this bush in last summer.

The apple tree is blooming, too, and a friend of mine with arboreal ambitions has offered to help me care for it, so I’m hoping the fall will bring some apple pies from the urban homestead.

We bought an apple picker like you use at orchards a couple of falls ago and I use it standing on the garage roof, like a crazy lady.

That’s how spring is shaping up around here! Hopefully this season we’ll be half the homesteaders that Amy and Josh are. Garden-sitting for them last summer was so inspiring!

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It’s a birdhouse! It’s a treehouse for Borrowers! It’s a Tiny Library!

Delightful morsel of the day: This article on Little Free Libraries.

Barely bigger than a birdhouse, there’s a movement to install wee take-a-book, leave-a-book swapping spaces in yards all across America.

Is this not the cutest thing ever? Image via LittleFreeLibrary.org

I’m going to try to forget for a minute that our next house project should probably be sealing the basement and think about how awesome it would be to install one of these. We live on a boulevard that’s super popular for runners and walkers, so I imagine lots of people would use it! I’m always telling Joe how I want to put something weird in our yard so we’ll be “that house” that people use to give landmark directions. “Oh, we’re just a block east of that house with the weird tiny library in the front lawn!” (I bet you hooligans would put trash in it in two seconds, but I’ll try not to let my library fantasy dissolve.)

I imagine there are a bajillion different designs you could come up with, but the Little Free Library site offers some plans, too.

If you are a fan of miniature things, you have to check out the miniature barn museum in the Amana Colonies. It’s super weird.

What are you reading? I just started “In the Garden of Beasts,” by Erik Larson. Who, on the topic of libraries, is coming to Des Moines for the DMPL AViD series this May!

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Backyard Scrabble? Yes, please.

Right now, I’m looking out the back windows in our den and I can see giant, fang-like icicles on our neighbor’s back eave. (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word “eave.”) This is mildly upsetting for two reasons:

1. It’s absolutely frozen outside. On my walk to work, my mug of hot coffee became iced coffee and I spent five whole minutes thinking about how I could knit myself thigh-warmers (I imagined them like leg-warmers, but things that wouldn’t have even been cool in the ’80s.)

2. If I can see the back of our neighbor’s house, it means our summer/fall fence project will be more like a spring/summer fence project. Twenty-ten was all about the demo work, 2011 will be about building and finally getting space to garden.

I daydream about our future backyard on nights like this, and then I find a link to BACKYARD SCRABBLE in Sunset Magazine. If we can’t even get a fence up over the course of three months, this seems out of the question, but I had to share it:

Sign me up for summer.

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