On the Move – House Hunting in South Carolina

Hello there, did you think I had disappeared? I have tried to blog as much as possible during our big move from Germany to South Carolina but this last leg of the journey has gotten extra crazy. Imagine a husband, a wife, two children, a dog a cat and ten large pieces of luggage in a hotel room on day five. What do you mean that doesn’t sound like the perfect vacation to you?

Okay me neither, so the house hunt is on so we can get the heck out of this hotel as soon as possible.

Since we still have our house in Alabama and since South Carolina will probably be our last stop before my husband retires from the Army we have decided to rent instead of buying.  Other than in Germany we have always bought our homes. We usually go for the fixer uppers because I love doing all the updates and like to be able to get creative. When buying I am looking for potential not a finished product. Rental shopping for me is a little more difficult. I know it will not be a forever home but I still want something nice for the time being. I also know that beyond paint and furniture I am pretty limited to what is already there ( i.e. kitchens and bathrooms are going to have to stay.)

We began the search with lots of driving around to look at all the houses we found online. Some were immediately eliminated because of location, extremely hot looking yards with no trees, busy streets that may take one of the cat’s three remaining legs or maybe a crack house next door. You know, the usual eliminating factors…

This narrowed our search it down to the few we wanted to see on the inside.

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I fell in love with this house online, there were no interior shots but the exterior looked perfect and the lot backed up to a lovely lake. The porch across the back had the most amazing view, but the price tag was a little over our budget.

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As a seasoned house hunter I know better than take the leap without seeing a houses in person and this one was a perfect example.

While the builder did a great job picking out the lot and finishing the exterior of the house, the inside left much to be desired.

IMG_5177It was filled with strange little things like this odd patch of linoleum in the kitchen, two completely unfinished bedrooms, wood-paneled walls in the two that were finished and a floor plan that just didn’t make sense. These things were not cosmetic! To be honest, I was a bit glad the interior didn’t live up to the exterior because the price really wasn’t in the budget.

The next stop was another house with a lake-view lot and this time way under budget.

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Had I been looking to buy, this house would have been a taker. My husband loved the huge lake lot and the house which looks to have been built in the 1950’s or 60’s was completely original with oak floors throughout.

Unfortunately, completely original also meant a dark original kitchen and original appliances.

IMG_5156Not something I can fix as a renter.

IMG_5162Oh yeah, and this one looked like it may be haunted, just saying…

I guess that means no lake-views for us…

With the first two houses eliminated we were left with the last two houses to choose from.

The first is a rancher, not my favorite from the outside but with a nice big corner lot, in great neighborhood within walking distance to the kid’s school.

exterior 1The interior has lots of space (almost 3000 Sq Ft) and lots of great light.

I just love this room…

interior 1But, the yard is not fenced so we would have to add a fence at our own expense. This would not be a big deal except the house is already at very top of our budget. (My daughter cast her vote for this house because it has two master bedrooms, she is thinking one of them could be her’s.)

The second house is in the same great neighborhood as the first but is farther from the school. That means I’d be dropping off and picking up the kids everyday.

exterior 2This house is slightly smaller than the rancher but still quite large at 2600 Sq Ft. This one gets bonus points for a fenced yard (plus a vote from my son for having a swing set.)

l16914b45-m3xd-w640_h480_q80I give it extra points for the bonus room over the garage which would make a dreamy sewing room.

interior 2On the negative side, I am little concerned that this house does not get a lot of natural light. I asked the property manager if we were free to change the paint colors. She assured me we could so I think some lighter brighter paint could improve the light some.

It also has a nice screened in porch even if there isn’t a lake view.

This house also has a huge garage, while the rancher only had a car port with a storage room.

The biggest perk, the rent is $250 a month less than the rancher.

Now we have two good contenders and a big decision to make. Neither perfect but both have some pretty good pros and only a few cons.This morning we are going to go have a look at the two contender one last time and see if we can come to a final decision.

Which one is your favorite? Feel free to cast your vote!

I’ll let you know later this week which one we decided on and share a full set of “before” photos.

Thrift Store Ottoman Update

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If you have followed my blog lately you know that I have spent the summer in New Orleans at my mom’s house (where I am always put to work.) Over the last few weeks we have worked on some updates to her long narrow living room. (You can read the details of the plan HERE.)  We purchased several pieces of furniture from antique and thrift store and are now in the process of updating them for the new space. Last week I shared the china cabinet update. This week I am working on the ottoman. Below are our second-hand furniture finds before, you can see above that we are making progress.

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If you have never done upholstery before and want to give it a try this is the perfect project. Upholstering an ottoman like this is fairly simple and only requires minor sewing work to hem the skirt.

Our thrift store ottoman started off pretty 80’s looking with a wine colored fabric and a pleated skirt, not really the look we were going for.

Mom is more into whites and shabby chic style so we chose to re-upholster it in Covington Jasmine Serenity.

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This ottoman is built like a small table. The top is foam with the upholstery stapled underneath and a skirt added. If you have a piece like this you think you’d like to tackle I recommend taking photos as you remove the parts and working backwards from your photos as you put it back together.

You can see there are really only two parts to this project, the top and the skirt.

I used the old skirt as a pattern for the new skirt, pinning it on for a test fit before stapling it on permanently.

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When attaching the skirt staple right against the cording for a crisp edge.

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The finished results look like a brand new ottoman and work perfectly with the new (old) china cabinet.

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With the leftover fabric I was able to make two new throw pillows as well.

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The next update will be the french cane arm chairs which are being upholstered in a dove grey velvet chenille, but these guys are going to the professional.

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Can’t wait to see the results…

Inspiring Books Full of Color

One thing that I really missed while living in Germany was spending the day at the bookstore. I could spend hours looking at books, flipping thru magazines, and searching for a new read. Yes, they do have book stores in Germany and some do have a small English section, but the selection is limited. The also have some great design books but sometimes looking at the pictures just isn’t enough.  Yesterday I finally made my first trip to the bookstore since returning home. While the kids worked on their summer reading I took advantage and combed the racks for some summer reading of my own.

Here are some old favorites and a few new releases that whose flair for color really caught my eye.

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1. Kate Spade New York: Things We Love: Twenty Years of Inspiration, Intriguing Bits and Other Curiosities by Kate Spade and Deborah Lloyd

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2. Tricia Guild Pattern: Using Pattern to Create Sophisticated, Show-stopping Interiors by Tricia Guild

Bright Bazaar

3. Bright Bazaar: Embracing Color for Make-You-Smile Style by Will Taylor

Happy Chic

4. Jonathan Adler 100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life by Jonathan Adler

New Bohemians

5. The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney

I also ran across this great periodical Style at Home Weekend Makeovers which is full of inspiring projects and lots and lots of color. Bonus, this one is available online so you don’t even have to go to the book store to read it.

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I took a couple of these home with me and the rest are going on my wish list for next time.

Thrift Store Furniture for a Small Space

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Last week I shared with you my plans for making my Mom’s “Bowling Alley” living room work better for her. Today I wanted to share what I  have planned so far. The first and most important step, lots and lots of shopping. For those on a budget, secondhand shopping is definitely the way to go. For this room in particular vintage furniture is perfect because it tends to be smaller. In today’s market the furniture is often super sized and way too large for our narrow space.

For under $500 we were able to score two french arm chairs with feather cushions (these are seriously comfy for their size which was also a must for the space,) a slim china cabinet with storage cabinets below, and a 26″ round upholstered ottoman. These will all get a make over but at secondhand prices we have a little money to spare for updates.

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The first update project I tackled was the china cabinet. The color of the wood is very close to that of the flooring which is not Mom’s favorite feature so we decide on white paint. If you haven’t already noticed Mom loves white (I’m not sure she is actually my mother.)

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For furniture with small parts and details my favorite way to paint is spray paint. After removing all the glass and doors and giving everything a quick sanding I can have a piece sprayed and drying in a matter of hours. Getting good this takes some practice but in my opinion it is sometimes the only way to go.

To save space, even if only a few inches, I decide to install the cabinet as if it were a built-in. I cut away the chair molding and notched the base board so that the cabinet would fit snugly against the wall.

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Another feature I added is LED lighting to the interior and exterior top of the cabinet. This will help bring light into this corner at night which was one of our problem areas.

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With a fresh coat of paint and some shelf styling our old china cabinet looks as good as new and is a perfect slim addition to our small place.

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Fortunate for me Mom collects lots of odd bits and object that make shelf styling easy, have a close look at her collection.

Designing Around a Bowling Alley Room

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Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean I get to take a vacation from interiors and blogging. We are spending the summer at my Mom’s house until we make our final move to South Carolina and when I am here I am almost always put to work. This time I am tackling the room Mom (not so fondly) refers to as the “bowling alley.”

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Let me explain the reason for this oddly shaped room. This is a picture is of the exterior of the house which originally was two single “shotgun” houses.  The shotguns are each 14′ wide and about 45′ long with 11′ ceiling and three large connecting rooms. When the houses were built around 1900 they had a drive that ran between them. In later years as the family that owned them grew the lay out changed a bit and the houses were connected by a center room to make one large house. This new connecting room is 10-9″ x 26′ with 8′ ceilings, as you can imagine this poses a lot of design issues. On top of shape difficulties there are also a function difficulties. For our family this space also needs to be flexible. Though usually used only by my parents at times it is also occupied by all their children and grandchildren. Twelve adults and seven children in all. Quite a crowd for this little room!

Have a closer look at the space…

Both ends of the room have french doors but the room is otherwise windowless which means that lighting is an issue. By the way, the “boob” lights are on the “must go” list.

The far end of the room we would like to utilize for more seating. It had a large chase lounge at one time but with seating for only one it took up too much space and was not flexible when seating needed to be moved around for a larger group. We also need to add a storage and display piece for DVD’s and blankets as well as Mom’s collection of oddities. Finally, smaller comfortable seating that will accommodate more people and can be moved easily is a must.

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The opposite end of the room is used for dining since this end connects directly to the kitchen through a wide opening. Mom has a table the folds down very small but will extend to 8′ when the crowd arrives.

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The table in the kitchen is used for daily eating and as a “children’s table” when the grand-kids are here.

The “boob” light must go on this end of the room too but here the dining table is definitely asking for a chandelier.

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Mid-room things will mostly remain the same since there is not much that can be rearranged with the TV on one wall and the sofa on the opposite wall. Two of my previous projects, the reclaimed mantel and mirror gallery, will stay put but the side tables and accessories are up for debate.

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Now that you have seen the space lets recap the goals:

  • Make the limited space work better for a large crowd
  • Bring in more lighting.
  • Bring in furniture that is smaller and more flexible.
  • Provide storage and display space.

There may be bigger projects in the future like replacing the flooring or opening up the entry into the kitchen for more space, but for now we are just trying to make the space work better through cosmetic and furniture changes. I’ll be sharing post’s in the future on all this progress but for now, let the games begin…

It’s Friday, High Five!

1d3b4435aa68794f644ed3c0fab81024Photos by Henny van Belkom via  Anthology

Surprisingly, this week has been somewhat restful, or at least a week that has put my mind at rest. This is because it has been a week was full of accomplishments. I spent the week back in Alabama finishing up all the projects at our rental house. I managed to get contractors lined up for all our jobs, including the yard man (high-five) and everything should be finishing up today. I am amazed by amount of stress having these things complete removes (high-five.) I also found out this week that we have new tenants scheduled to move in on the 17th of this month, another huge stress relief and absolutely a high-five. All this resolution means I can spend the next few weeks enjoying myself and relaxing, a BIG high-five to that!

Here are a few more high-fives for the week…

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1. The above shot from Kim Schipperheijn’s home tour feature on Anthology. This house is full of all the colors I love and certainly makes me smile!

2. This development by CoeLux amazed me. A new light source that recreates the look of sunlight through a skylight so well that it can trick both human brains and cameras. This type of technology could have so many amazing applications.

3. How cute are these  Vintage Radios, looks like I have something new to hunt for at the market.

4. Fun textile designs by Ellie Pashley. I love how the creative mind works.

5. The colorful photos of  Matthieu Venot follow him on Instagram for your daily dose!

 

Hope you guys have found some rest this week.

Have a great weekend,
Maggie

The Tree Of Life, New Orleans

DSC08491Before this visit I had not been home to New Orleans for a whole year. When I am away there are lots of things I miss but one of the things I miss seeing the most are the Live Oak trees.  While I was out taking pictures I was noticing their beauty and it brought to mind one particular live oak that grows way in the back of Audubon Park near the zoo. I guess I remember this tree from grade school field trips and high school hang but it has always stuck with me.  I hadn’t been to the tree in years but I was able to go right to where I thought it grew and there she was.

This tree official name is the Etienne de Boré Oak but is most commonly referred to as “The Tree of Life.” With a base 35 feet in circumference I’d say she has had a very long life. It is estimated that the tree was planted somewhere around 1740 but a live oak with a girth of more than 30 feet could be as old as 500 years or more.

DSC08507The Tree of Life is not alone she lives in park filled with live oaks but none are quite so lovely.

DSC08494I could sit all day and admire her roots bubbling from the earth…

DSC08512The limbs dripping with Spanish Moss

DSC08486and branches dipping deep until some of them actually touch the ground.

DSC08509As I was leaving two children arrived running to the tree and climbing on her huge roots to play. I see that I am not the only one who loves the Tree of Life.

Uptown New Orleans Architectural Details

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One of my favorite things to do is walk around the neighborhood looking at houses and enjoying the architecture. In New Orleans my favorite place to do this is an area locals call “Uptown” which includes a more exclusive area known as the “Garden District.” This area was developed between 1840 and 1870 by Americans who were looking to settle away from the French and Spanish in the French Quarter. The area contains everything from sprawling mansions to tiny cottages and includes a variety of architectural styles. With this variety of styles also comes a variety of beautiful architectural details.

Last week I spent a lot of time “Uptown” walking and taking picture so I thought you might like to see some of my favorite details that are common to these New Orleans homes.

Porch Brackets…


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Victorian Gingerbread…


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Cast Iron railings…


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Elaborate Cornices Moldings…


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Gable Windows in stained glass…

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And if your lucky you might run across them all on a single house!
Now I hope you can see why “Uptown” it is such a great place to take a stroll. If you are ever in New Orleans be sure to check it out either on a guided tour, a self-guided tour, or just wander around to see what you can find on your own.

Teen Girls Room in Black, Aqua and Coral

Teen Girls Room Black, Pink, and Aqua
We are spending the summer in New Orleans taking a little break before moving into a new house in South Carolina but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I want to do once I get moved in. I don’t know what this house will look like or what street it will be on but I do know we will all need a place to sleep. I always try to give the kids room an update for each move and you may remember a few months back I was doing some musing over what to do in my daughter Katie’s room. I had fallen in love with a fabric and I wanted to incorporate it along with some of the pieces she already has. Turns out my almost 15-year-old daughter has strong opinions about that fabric. She hates it, so back to the mood board.
The new look started with these Martha Stewart Whim Sheets we ran across at Macy’s when we first came back to the States. Katie loved these instantly. The colors she originally wanted to work with were navy, aqua and coral but she loved the zebra sheets so much we decided to change the navy to black. This ended up being a perfect change since many of the items like the bed, chair, rug, and aqua chest are items we already have that will transition pretty easily. The bed will get a new coat of paint changing it from its current pink to black which will work well with the rug and chair. We will create a vanity type set up that will double as a desk that she has wanted for a long time. Add in the new bedding, some minor changes like lighting and artwork and we should be able to tie the new room together without too much expense.
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This new plan is the beginning of something that will make everyone happy.
Now for to the part that I know makes me happy, shopping!

I’m not Alone, #MOSChairJunkie

entry hallMy mid-century circle chairs.

This is not the first time I have shared my problem! I just can’t stop buying chairs. Vintage chairs are one of the best deals around. They are so much fun and come in so many styles it is hard for me to say no. A while back I started a hashtag on Instagram to share my #MOSChairJunkie finds.

Well guess what, I am not alone. Turns our there are quite a few chair junkies out there and they have shared their finds with me, so I thought I would share a few of them with you.

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Cate_Stylemutthome from Style Mutt Home found these office swivel chairs and gave them a whole new look by adding mid-century tapered legs. Genius!

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BBkingery from White Dog Vintage is always scoring amazing thrift finds including this cutie.

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LifeWithaDashofWhimsy who also blogs at Life With a Dash of Whimsy found this full set of Chinese Chippendales for only $39.95, what a score!

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SGardnerStyle from SG Style scored these mid-century beauties for $40 and they look like they are in perfect condition.

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AnatomyOfDesign who blogs at The Anatomy of Design found these cuties that look great on the patio, and absolutely perfect once she added a coat of yellow paint.

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So you see if you are not out there hunting vintage chairs you are missing out. These are just a few of the amazing finds that have been shared. You can check out all the amazing chairs at #MOSChairJunkie and by all means join in the fun.

Feel free to share your own, because it’s always nice to know your not alone!

Please note that by linking up with #MOSChairJunkie, you are giving me permission to share your finds via social media or on my blog.