Monday, September 26, 2011

Our own private island

Our architect presented us with three awesome plans for renovating and expanding our cottage, and just in the nick of time--after spending a couple of weeks bumping around this tiny house like a pinball, I was almost ready to put it back on the market!

Our favorite plan expands the kitchen out toward the front by bumping out the front window and toward the back by a couple of feet as well. She's proposing a banquette-type dining area in the window and a small island in the center, which sounds heavenly. I like the idea of the island being small and functional, not necessarily a place for seating, since the seating area will be so close by and bar stools are a recipe for disaster with little ones anyway. I like these kitchens with both a banquette and an island--this first one in particular looks very similar to what I imagine she's talking about.

This second one I like for two reasons. First, I like the island made from the same materials as the rest of the cabinets and countertop--I think this may work better in our kitchen where there will already be a table and chairs in contrasting materials so close by. Second, Ryan really likes this type of table and I like to let him have an opinion in this process once in a while. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011


The Ikat trend is one I think I could embrace in some way as we rework our interiors. Love this fabric from, believe it or not, Laura Ashley.

It comes in several colorways--the green is pretty too, and I like the blue and purple accents.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Budget-friendly banquette

While brainstorming ways to add some type of expanded dining area to our home, I starting thinking about a banquette. It makes sense for a lot of reasons: It saves space, the cabinets in the bench add storage, and it goes with the era of our house. I don't want the entire thing built in--just a bench on one side, with a table and freestanding chairs on the other sides.

I became even more interested in the idea when I found numerous websites showing how people used IKEA cabinets to create banquette benches. This is one of my favorites (not the way they're using the round table and two chairs, but the bench itself). Genius!

The entire project can be found here:

Lighten up

For the past five years, we've had some variation of the same color scheme in every room in our home: red, golden yellow, and dark blue. I like how classic that combo is, but in our new place with its lower ceilings and smaller windows, it feels too dark and heavy. When we redo the house, I'd like to work with a lighter palette and give the whole place an airier feel. I came across this living room and was drawn to how bright and cheerful it is. We have a dark brown couch to work with, but the other elements are doable: pretty patterned curtains, bright colored throw pillows, white bookcases. Ryan probably wouldn't go for so much pink, but I might get some purple past him.

I've already started on the new palette with the gorgeous quilts my friend Katie made for the little ones' room. It makes me happy just looking at them!


We love trees as much as the next guy, but this beast must go. It's unhealthy, structurally unsafe, and within about 15 feet of our back door. Unfortunately this isn't Alabama, so you don't just call your neighbor and his cousin to cut a tree down. The process around these parts goes as follows:
1) Call the city arborist and ask for a preliminary evaluation to see if there's any chance you'll be permitted to take down the tree. If he says there is indeed a chance, proceed to step 2.
2) Call an independent arborist. Pay him to look at the tree and fill out an official arborist report.
3) Fill out an application for tree removal. Attach the arborist report and a check for the application fee and submit it in person to the city.
4) Wait a week or two until the city arborist comes for the official evaluation. Use Southern charm and cross your fingers he's still open to approving removal. If he does approve it, proceed to step 5.
5) Wait two weeks while every neighbor who lives within 100 feet of the tree has an opportunity to appeal the approval to the city.
6) While waiting, get bids from four tree removal companies. Choose the one who has insurance and also, as a bonus, returns your phone calls.
7) Receive final approval.
8) Have tree removed.
9) Enjoy your less hazardous yard, which just cost you more than you paid for an entire year of college tuition.

We're at step 6. Stay tuned!