Monday, August 6, 2012

A Green Heart of the Home

Will and I both love to cook. And we both love to eat, but that's a different story. The kitchen in our first apartment was teeny tiny (our oven was a little half-oven!), but we loved it anyway. A fun, functional, and inviting kitchen was definitely on our must-have list.

Someday, we'd like to replace the Formica counters, add some subway tile backsplash,  and replace the sink (among a few other things), but for now we are so happy with this kitchen. It was the first room we painted, and we went all-out for the color!

Here's what it looked like when we moved in

White. White everywhere. (Everywhere in the house, for that matter.) However, as silly as this sounds, the cabinets are one of the reasons why I knew it was meant to be our house- I always wanted white cabinets. Brown cabinets can be beautiful, but they are not our style at all. I would have painted the cabinets in any house we moved into, even if they were brand-new. But the white cabinets, white counter tops and backsplash, white walls, and some white appliances were a little much.

Here we are on moving day

Like the mini fridge we used for a few days? :)

One of our favorite things about unpacking was re-discovering all the wedding gifts we never got to use. We had one double-wide cabinet in our apartment for all our cookware and such, so most of our wedding presents were opened and then promptly put back into storage since we didn't have room. Don't worry, we are getting full use of them now!

I knew I wanted a green color, but I was a little undecided on exactly which one. Eventually I narrowed it down to two colors and brought home the little tester pots. I would highly recommend you do this if you're debating a color. It helps so much seeing how it looks in the space, and is totally worth the $3-$4. These can also be great for when you need to do a quick paint touch-up in the room later without having to bring out the whole gallon of paint.

Not sure where my other close-up pictures of the two colors went, but you can see in this picture who I painted a few different areas to see the colors in different light and next to the cabinets. 

The color on the left side was pretty, but had too much of a brown undertone. We ended up choosing the color on the right. (I don't have the name written down yet, but I'll update it when I get down there and look at the color swatch.)

Like a lot of our rooms, it was looking a little scary after the first coat.

Thankfully a second coat with some touch ups did the trick.

We also bought a new refrigerator and microwave. We're hoping to get a new dishwasher within the year to match the stainless steel, but that wasn't a priority since it blends in (kinda) with the cabinets. We're still working on selling the old microwave on Craig's List, since it still works perfectly.

I added some cafe-style curtains to the window from Target that are great for privacy but still let in plenty of light.

I hung a few things on this small wall- a clock from Ikea, a silverware print from Hobby Lobby, and a custom chalk board that a friend's mom made for our wedding present (she made it out of an old cabinet door!).

And I propped a few things up on top of the cabinets. Most of these things were used in our wedding, so they're a little hard to let go of. I still can't decide if it feels too cluttered, but I also think if I took some of it down it would feel too bare. I'm going to live with it for a little while before I make any changes, though.

While I was there this summer I worked on a little art project to bring some life to that back wall. I have a lot of inspiration pinned and I debated several different sayings. The one I liked the most was "Love God, love people" but ultimately I decided on "Oh, how He love us." I'm not quite happy with the way it turned out (I should have done the whole thing in cursive), but I am going to go back and try to straighten out some of the lines that are WAY crooked.

If I can't salvage the black letters, I'll either paint over the entire thing again or cover it with some pretty fabric. It's a little disapointing, but I guess you can't win them all :)

It's hard to see the silver letters in the sunlight, but I think the scale of the canvas works well on the wall. 

New microwave and rug

I spy more picture frames that need pictures!
 I'm still having a little struggle with styling the counters. Again, I'm afraid of clutter but I think they also look weirdly bare. I think I'm going to look for a bigger cutting board to put under the salt and pepper on the right. I might add my canisters of flour and sugar to go go beside the Kitchen Aid.

 Also, I'm itching to build- in the fridge. I think it will look much more finished, and the some storage cabinets on top (so it would be even with the other cabinets) would be nice for lesser-used items. We'll have to wait for my father-in-law to come down here for that, though.

That's our kitchen as of now! We had a friend come over to check on the dogs once while we were out of town, and apparently commented that "it's" Haha, yeah it is. It's our unexpected dose of happiness. We're really taking this "don't be afraid of color" thing and running with it, although I suspect we'll tame it down quite a bit for the guest rooms and the second bathroom.

What color is your kitchen? Do you struggle with finding a look that not too cluttered, but still looks lived-in?
Have you had an "Pinterest fails?" Did you give up all together or did you try to fix it?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An Orange Office

*** All photos in this post were taken with my phone. Please forgive the crapiness, and I promise to never forget my camera at home again!***

I could not wait to have an office/craft room where I could put all my craft stuff and spread out as much as I want. Thankfully, our house has four bedrooms so there will be an office/craft room until we have three kids. And then it will be time to move again, so I'm not too worried :)

The office started with bland white walls like the rest of the house was when we moved in. I'm pretty positive this was the past owner's office too, because there were some cord hiders attached to the wall, and the walls in this room were a lot more beaten up than in other rooms. The paint was flat, so there was pretty much no hope for cleaning them up without painting.

This is how we I left it in March.
Unfortunately, it kind of became a dumping ground while I was there and working on other projects. Will also re-arranged the furniture. So by the time we were ready to tackle that room at the end of my stay, it looked more like this:


Yeah, it was pretty bad.

First of all, we got the lovely Expedit from Ikea- I LOVE this thing! Way back when we made our first trip to Ikea Will really wanted to get it, but I wasn't sold. Since then I've realized how much we need storage for our office and craft supplies, and this was the best way to do it.

So we put it together and then cleared the room to paint.

For paint, I had a really hard time decided what color to go with. I'm all about embracing color in our house, so I knew I wanted something fun with lots of energy. It is a craft room, after all. :)

The problem was that I have some decor that we've accumulated from gifts and various other places that don't really fit in with the rest of our house. Most of it was from our international travels or had an international-theme, so I decided we would do the room with a travel- theme. All of our decor and furniture (with the exception of the living room furniture, which isn't going anywhere for a while) is based off of black and white. There is no brown anywhere. I like brown, and I really like the way some people decorate with it (my mom, SIL and MIL do AWESOME jobs with it!), but it just isn't for us. Some people can mix brown and black furniture and decor and it looks great, but I just cannot figure out how to do it while looking good and being true to our style. I thought using some of that brown decor would be great in our office since it was a little cut off from the rest of the house (and therefore I wouldn't feel like it clashed).

I got a TON of color swatches from Home Depot and Lowes and spread them all out on the living room floor one night. I narrowed down my choices and asked Will to choose his top five. The one color he liked that I agreed with was a saffron-yellow color. I liked it, but when I put it up to the decor I wanted to use in there it just seemed to clash.

The more I thought about it (and talked to my friend Brandy on the phone), I decided it wasn't right to try and make a room fit with an idea that ultimately I don't like. It's just not our style, and I knew I would never be totally happy with it.

So I went back to the color swatches and pulled a set that came from Olympic from Lowes (I so wish I had taken a picture of the little booklet that come with it for inspiration). If you need some inspiration for a room, I highly recommend going to Lowes and checking out these books!
**** UPDATE*** I found the website where you can look through these color inspirations here. This is the one we used for the office.

Anyway, the collection I liked the best had orange, gray, blue, green, yellow, and a white. I realize these are terrible descriptions without being able to actually see the colors, but basically they were fun, bold and perfect for a sophisticated craft room/office.

Will finally agreed to paint two walls orange if we could paint the other two gray. Fine by me, I didn't want the whole room orange, either!

Here's before:

And here's after:

Sorry it's so blurry!

The orange is called Indiana Clay and the gray is called Silver Spoon, both by Olympic (but we color match all our paint to Behr's non-VOC paint).  We use a satin finish for all our rooms except the kitchen and bathrooms, which are semi-gloss.

We painted the desk white and threw a white sheet over the table my mom gave me until we can buy/build a new desk for me.

It looks so much better now!
The mish-mash of boxes and baskets is kind of driving me crazy, but you have to start somewhere, right? Except for the two white boxes on the bottom row we already had everything on the shelves.

To the right of my tables is a small wire shelf that holds the drawers for pens and paperclips and our Ipod dock. That large picture above the table is of my host girl and me in Turkey. The large bulletin board I covered in white fabric since it looked like this:

I still need to add a border to it so it looks more finished.

The wire shelves are from TJ Max and have our "to file" and  "take action" paperwork. The small canvas is one I painted. The chest basket is from Ikea and my in-laws bought it for my high school graduation. It holds all my fabric.
The little nook you can see there to the left has a sink and mirror (the "Jill" part of our kinda-Jack-and-Jill bathroom. We keep Freska's litter box and food in there since we don't really use it.

So, that's our office as of now. We definitely realize it's not everyone's cup of tea, but we love the energy and un-expectedness of it! It still needs a lot of work (I think I want Will to build me some shelves above my table), but we are so happy we decided to go with such a bold color. The best part is it only took an evening to paint since the ceilings are normal height. Every other room we've painted so far either has vaulted or high ceilings that require a lot more paint and work.

Within the next few years we'll have to repaint when it becomes a nursery (our bedroom is right next to it), so it's not like it'll stay this way forever. Who knows, we might choose a much calmer color the next time we paint.
What do you think?
Have you chosen a "risky" color for a room in your house? Did you end up loving or hating it?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This Little Light of Mine

We all have to take a step back every once and a while and ask ourselves some difficult questions. In my quest to get some sleep, I've been trying to get back into writing in the evenings instead of spending so much time with my laptop. This hasn't exactly worked with the sleep issue yet (I was up until 3 a.m. this morning), but I have been able to do a little thinking. This post has no pictures and is just some personal thoughts I've been having. Perhaps I can inspire you to do a little soul-searching as well?

How can the question “who am I” be answered?  How does someone go about defining herself? Are there certain off-limit facts, like what she does for a living or what she enjoys doing in her free time? After all, these statements more specifically answer “what do you do?”
At this time of great change in my life, I find myself silently wondering “who am I,” which leads to “What does that mean,” and “What is my purpose?”  These are questions everyone must at some point ask herself, though for many they are easy enough to slap down a pat-answer and let them be buried somewhere in the deep abyss of the human mind. Personally, I’ve never really struggled with these kinds of questions until the past year or two. My younger self was very sure and confident in my beliefs. Now, as life has given me much more to consider, I struggle with many of these seemingly basic questions.  Perhaps my thinking down this lane was prompted by the little “write a short description of yourself” boxes that plague me on all my social media sites. I’m not exactly sure why Pinterest World needs to know how I would define myself in words, because my pins already show a pretty accurate story: I’m a DIYer grammar freak who is dreaming of babies, pretty rooms in my house, and an endless amount of sweets.)
After trying to quickly come up with something witty for my Twitter page (and let’s be real here, scarcasm is much more my forte). I decided to go with the simple one-worders: Believer. Wife. Traveler. Lover of Life. I chose that order because I felt it reflected my values on a subtle-but-still-unmissable level.
This definition, though sweet and short (just like I am!), is not really an acceptable answer to the question “who am I?” Or is it? Why do I feel the pressure to define myself in the first place? On one hand, I feel that allowing someone to give you a definition for themselves is wrong. Just because someone says she is a community activist does not mean she is a community activist in the same way you might be if you defined yourself as one. This is almost like saying “you are too dumb to figure out for yourself who I am.” In a world that firmly believes “actions speak louder than words,” a person’s own definition of herself could easily lead to a skewed vision of her for outsiders.
However, listening to a person describe herself can reveal quite a bit about her that you might never know otherwise. If a woman says she is a community activist, but has really only volunteered once in the past four years, perhaps her heart is revealing where it wants to be. Are these wishes and dreams allowed to be part of one’s identity?
I think I have a hard time describing myself because the seemingly innocent question develops into such a slippery slope. So many sub-questions can be included vehemently denied , like “what do you do for a living?” After finally defining herself, a woman trying to describe herself will look down and want to know what she’s accomplished already and what her 5, 10, and 30-year plans are.
Goals are good, very good, in fact. They help give us direction in life and can even help define us as we journey towards and through those goals. If you have no direction in life, how could you possibly get to where you want to be?
But back to self-definition; how do I define who I am? First, I must look at my definition of what defines a person (confusing enough?). As I mentioned, how do I decide what gets to be included or not? Am I even allowed to decide that? After much thought, I think I can say that it all should be included. After all, we are a sum of our past, present, and future, and all that that entails.
So, who am I?
I am a broken woman and I have heard the call of the King of Kings, and I strive to answer it every day. Every day I am reminded of my human weaknesses and my need for a Savior.
I am wife to a broken man who guards my heart in his soft hands.
I try to love people as my Redeemer has loved me, because in a world filled with so much darkness we all need to feel love.
I am a mother hen to all those around me, trying to make sure everyone is taken care of and has what he needs.
I see people’s struggles, and it touches me deeply because I know how much they must be hurting.
My heart belongs to Jesus, but scars from internal battles still remain. My hope is that one day they will be gone and I will be whole in Him once more.
I cannot understand everything I have seen or that I know.
I long to leave behind this predictable life and travel around the world with Will, seeing this glorious earth and meeting the amazing people God has created.
I realize how selfish I am, and it kills me.
One of my biggest fears is being forgotten when I’m gone; perhaps that is why I want to be a teacher. I want my influence to be passed down through generations of students who learn to love life-long education.
I know I was meant to be a mother. Through God’s grace and will I will someday have children to call my own, though really the Lord has simply entrusted a few of His children to me for a while.
I stand up for myself and others around me; I am angered at ignorance that produces hate. 
What questions have got you thinking lately?
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