before & (for now) after: the living room

When Devin first bought the house, the entire place was carpeted in a grubby pale pink.  One of the first things that he did before moving in was to rip up all of the carpet and have the original hardwoods that had been hiding underneath refinished.

The Before

This is the only before photo I could find of the living room.  This was before he ripped up the carpet and in the midst of cutting all the crown molding.  Don’t you love that dirty pale pink carpet and the maroonish brown fireplace?

Behind the sawhorses is the coat closet.  Directly across the coat closet is the front door of the house.

In Progress

This is what the living room looked like when I first moved in.

From this viewpoint, the front door is directly to your right.  Compared to the first photo, you can see the hardwoods, the fireplace that we painted and the crown molding.

The gargantuan sectional is also a sleeper and was a hand me down from Devin’s mom. It took up way too much space in the living room and closed the whole area off from the dining room to the left.  The deep brown color also darkened the overall feel of the room too much. The buffet along the far wall was a really ornate antique that belonged to Devin’s great grandmother.  While it’s a beautiful piece of furniture, it was much too large for the space and the style is more traditional and classic than we prefer.

The (for now) After

Here’s what the living room looks like now.

The new couch has a chaise that is shorter than the old couch which opens the living room up to the dining room so it feels much more open now. The craftsman style wood rocking chair sat abandoned in a rundown cabin on Devin’s great aunt’s property until we rescued it.  The display cabinet was made by Devin’s dad, the console table that the TV sits on was made by Devin’s stepdad and the candle stand was made by Devin.  I told you his family’s got some skills!

The wood mirror, candlesticks and lantern are from antique stores, the yellow vintage frame is from the flea market and the metal egg basket that we keep the dogs’ toys in is from a garage sale.  The mirror feels too “church-y” for my taste and puts too much focus on the center of the mantel, so I’m on the lookout for a different mirror to put in its place.  The little wooden elephant figurines are from a trip Devin took to France after he graduated high school.

Here’s the new couch.  We purchased it from a local furniture store, and I LOVE it.  When we chose the fabric, we were worried that it was going to end up being too dark, but I think it’s perfect and I love that it has simple clean lines without being uber modern. The cream wool rug and distressed green coffee table are from Pottery Barn (no longer available), and the hurricane candle holders are from Cost Plus World Market. I’m in the midst of replacing the throw pillows with a variety of more brightly patterned ones as right now, all the pillows are so BROWN.

Please excuse the blurriness of the above photo.  I just love these nesting tables.  Devin already had these and doesn’t remember where he got them. MEN.  The framed prints on the wall are of the Ireland coastline, purchased by Devin on a trip there.  The cute leaf coasters are from Crate and Barrel Outlet.  The pharmacy floor lamp and Crosley iPod dock are from Tar-jay.  The little elephant chair is a souvenir from a trip that Devin’s mom took to South Africa. Do you notice a trend here? Devin went through an elephant phase.  I’ve lost track of how many elephant figurines I’ve found around the house, in closets, bookshelves, etc…we now have them narrowed down to a select few.

Behind the couch (and to your left as you walk into the house) is my good old Expedit bookshelf from Ikea.  This bookshelf has been with me ever since I moved to California from New York over five years ago! The grandfather clock belonged to Devin’s grandmother, and the frames on the wall are from Kohl’s.  Let’s play “where are the elephant-themed items in this photo?”  Ha.

Before I wrap up the living room, I wanted to share one of my favorite little details with you.

I would guess that most people who come over don’t even notice them, but these old wrought iron skeleton keys are hanging on the wall to the left of the front door.  We found them at the Alameda Antiques Faire along with the old hook, and I just love them.

By the way, if you live in the Bay Area and have never been to the Alameda Antiques Faire, you are MISSING OUT.  It’s amazing, and whatever little vintage knick knack, antique piece of furniture, old book, etc. that you’re looking for?  It will be there.  TRUST.  Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes because it’s HUGE, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

For anyone interested in the paint colors, the fireplace is Twig Basket, the walls are Hazelnut Cream and the trim is Ivory Mist, all from Behr.

I say this is only a “(for now) after” because I’m not done with the living room yet.  As I mentioned, I need to brighten up the couch with some colorful pillows and jazz up the mantel styling as well.  I’m also searching for the perfect throw for the couch, which by the way I never realized was so difficult to find…until I actually started looking for one!  Then there’s the display cabinet.  While it’s a really nice piece, in its current location it looks a little awkward, so we need to decide if it’ll stay or get moved somewhere else in the house.  Lastly, I recently scored some really awesome hollywood regency style chairs from the Alemany Flea Market which I’ll be repainting and reupholstering.  One of these will go in place of the rocking chair (the other in our Master Bedroom) and will also need a little table and lamp to accompany it to create a little reading spot.

Despite the aforementioned changes that still need to be made, we’re really happy with how the living room has progressed so far.

There you have it folks!  This concludes the living room portion of our tour 🙂



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homegoods, camping in the rain and my first 5k

This past Friday afternoon, I took a trip to Mecca, also known as HomeGoods.  Because really, can you think of a better way to start the weekend?  Like most trips I take there, I didn’t really have anything specific in mind that I wanted or needed.  Though also like most trips I take there, I left with something that I hadn’t realized I needed beforehand, but I couldn’t leave without.

If you don’t already know, I love quatrefoil patterned ANYTHING.  I also love the color gray.  So when I saw these Cynthia Rowley towels, I just couldn’t pass them up.

For anyone interested, they came in other colors too (cream, light green, maybe orange? if I remember right).

Then on the way home, I decided to stop at our local Salvation Army just in case there were any inexpensive pieces of furniture in need of a makeover.  As if I don’t already have enough projects to work on!  When I pulled up, what did I see sitting on the sidewalk in front of the store, but this super ugly little table marked “$5.00 As Is.”

I looked it over and everything seemed to be in decent shape, and it’s fairly heavy so no particle board on this baby.  As I expected, the second I brought it home, Devin declared “there is no place for that table in this house.”  Ha.  We’ll see.  The second I laid eyes on it, a variety of “after” images flashed through my head.  Especially since I’d recently read this post of Ashley’s where she made over a similar looking table.

Admittedly, I sort of agree with Devin that the style wouldn’t really fit in our home, but that wasn’t about to stop me from buying it and making it over anyway because FIVE DOLLAR TABLE HELLO.  We’ll see how it turns out, then at that point, I’ll decide where its permanent home should be.

On Saturday we headed down to Santa Cruz with the dogs to camp overnight in preparation for the She.Is.Beautiful 5K that I was running on Sunday morning. While I was excited for my first race, the gloomy, rainy weather really did its best to bring us down.  We spent most of Saturday trying to stay out of the rain and exploring the Aptos/Capitola/Santa Cruz area where we stumbled upon an adorable store called Warmth Company.  Look at this place and tell me you don’t want every single thing in there.

While many things were overpriced in my opinion, there were some accessories that weren’t too bad, and we ended up leaving with this Dash & Albert rug that’s perfect for our entryway.

I love the colors, and it makes a really nice impression when you first walk in the front door…so much more so than the drab beige rug we had there previously.

Afterwards, we finally headed back to the New Brighton State Beach campground and set up shop for the night.  While the circumstances weren’t ideal (muddy dog paws, wet pants, rain rain RAIN), we made the most of it.  At 3AM I woke up to the rain POUNDING on the roof of our van (more on the RallyWagon in a future post!) and prayed that PLEASEGODLETTHERAINSTOPBY8AM because the thought of running in that torrential downpour really bummed me out.

Lo, someone up there listened because when we woke up the next morning the rain had stopped!  It was a beautiful course, along the ocean the entire time, and I ended up coming in at 29:37…five whole minutes faster than my goal time!

Please forgive the facial expression…I have no idea.

On that note, here’s to another week!

save the date magnets

When it came time to start making decisions on the specifics of the wedding, Devin basically said to me, “Do whatever you want babe.  Tell me what to wear and what time to show up, and just make sure we have an open bar.”  That my friends, is one smart man.

Thus, off I went into the furthest recesses of the bottomless maze that is the wedding industry and started piecing together a vision of how I imagined our day would look like.  Immediately I thought vintage and rustic, yet chic.

As I mentioned when I spilled the initial wedding details, our palette will be gray and yellow.  I ultimately decided that we’d do mini magnets for our save the dates as I figured it would be really convenient for guests to just throw them on their fridges (or if they don’t want to look at our faces every time they take out a carton of milk, they’re small enough to tuck away anywhere).

Then came the sticker shock.

YOU GUYS.  I never realized how EXPENSIVE wedding stationary can be.  The thought of spending the average $3 plus per invitation suite (invite and response card) almost gave me heart palpitations.  Don’t even get me started on letterpress.  OY. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Back to the save the dates.

My friend Michelle (recently married herself), told me about a website called 123Print.  As soon as I saw their pricing, I told myself I had to get my magnets there no matter WHAT the designs looked like. SO affordable compared to all of the other sites I scoped out at $34.95 for 80 personalized mini magnets.  I kid you not. If you have any upcoming occasions that require printed up ANYTHING, I highly recommend them.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a simple yet pretty design that matched our wedding colors so I went ahead and ordered them.  I also found mini magnet carrier cards at MagnetStreet that I ordered in a deep yellow and had printed with a message about our wedding website that recipients would see when they removed the magnet.  Next, I purchased some 4 bar envelopes in Cement from Paper Source, along with a custom embosser (because I’ve been eying one for awhile now and what better occasion to roll it out than our wedding?).  To round it all out, I found a really cute address label design on Etsy that I printed out on self adhesive labels from Amazon.

When I started putting everything together, I was really happy with how it all turned out.  So was Devin, who upon seeing them said, “Wow dude.  That’s pretty good.” (Yes, we call each other dude sometimes, what of it?)

Back to the wedding invitations.  Not only was I less than thrilled at the prices, I also didn’t fall in love with any of the designs that I was seeing…and I looked at HUNDREDS of designs.  So ultimately, I decided to design them myself.  I’ve worked with Adobe Illustrator for my job just enough to be dangerous, so I figured I could at least give it a shot.

So I did.  And I love them.  Y’all will see them eventually :).

before & after: the front yard

I suppose a logical place to start introducing all of you to our home would be the front yard, yes?

The Before

This is the only photo I could find of how it looked when Devin first moved in.  Here he is hard at work and starting to transform the yawn inducing and weed ridden front yard into something more.

Also notice the barren brick planter box beneath the front window.  This became my project down the road, which I’ll detail in a future post.

The After

Here is the front yard now (and also, welcome to the front of our house!).

Devin chose a mix of succulents, grasses and kangaroo paws to line the yard.  I think everything filled in very nicely and the plants add some nice pops of color and texture to the yard, don’t you?

A little while after I moved in, we decided that the front yard still needed…something.  See how lonely our little chinese pistache tree looks?

So we decided that we’d add an island to the front yard to go around the tree.  We started by sketching out various shapes and choosing which one we liked the best (a kidney bean).  Then we laid the kidney bean shape out on the grass with a garden hose, and dug all of the grass and dirt out of the center and along the border.  Next we lined the entire cleared out area with weed block fabric, laid out paver stones around the border and filled it all back in with dirt mixed with fertilizer.  Finally, we planted some succulents that we had chosen to accent the pistache tree, added some decorative rocks and covered everything up with cocoa shell mulch. Then we watered everything thoroughly to make it all happy.

Just a side note: I LOVE cocoa shell mulch.  Not only does it give plant beds a nice clean look and deter weeds, but after you first spread it out your entire yard smells like CHOCOLATE.  YES.

Here is the after:

I think our chinese pistache tree looks much happier with some company, and it adds depth to the yard.

Here’s a close up:

We’re really happy with how it turned out, though let me tell you it was like Tetris trying to get those stones into place to create the kidney bean shape, but still be all lined up with no gaps in between.

Source list:

  • Pavers – we used Country Stone Homestead 9″ Autumn Blend Blocks from Lowe’s
  • Cocoa Shell Mulch – I don’t remember the specific brand, but we purchased it from OSH
  • Succulents – various purchased from Lone Pine Gardens, Half Moon Bay Nursery or cut from plants we already had

welcome to our humble abode

Hi there.  Thanks for stopping by my shiny new digs!

I’m excited to document our ups and downs (hopefully more of the former and less of the latter!) as my future husband Devin and I make progress in turning our house into a cozy home.  We are also planning our wedding in September of 2012, and it will be chock full of DIY elements so I’ll be documenting those projects here as well.  Throw in dashes of anecdotes from our everyday lives and a sprinkle of recipes and random odds and ends that make me smile, and hopefully it all results in a happy little corner of the internet that you’ll want to keep coming back to :).

Why Park House you might ask?  It’s a nod to the location of our house.

When Devin bought the house in 2008, he saw a lot of potential in what it could be.  “A lot of potential” equates to “a lot of work,” but luckily he is quite the handyman around the house being a former tile setter and knowing his way around a toolbox.  He’s also blessed with parents that have awe-inspiring skills in woodworking, welding, electrical and all around construction work.  (Yes, you guessed it.  I’m marrying Devin for his family.  Ha.)

After he moved in, Devin set to work (along with help from his family) by:

  • Ripping up all of the old carpet and restoring the hardwood floors that were hidden underneath
  • Painting every room nice, neutral colors
  • Adding beautiful crown molding and baseboards throughout the house
  • Taking the outdated trim off of the kitchen cabinets, sanding them all down and painting them off white
  • Landscaping the front yard

After all of that, he was tuckered out and took a break from home improvement work for a little while.

…until I moved in.

At which point, I started with little touches here and there to start making it a little more homey around these parts. So far, we’ve:

  • Painted the old maroon (yes, maroon) fireplace a muted green with brown undertones
  • Put new curtains in all of the bedrooms
  • Swapped out the old metal sliding door that leads to the backyard with a beautiful pine one
  • Added an island to the front yard
  • Purchased a new couch for the living room
  • Built a loft above the garage for tons of extra storage space

Now that we’re preparing to start a life together as a married couple, we’re more motivated than ever to move along from room to room and make everything just the way we want it.  If we had our way, we’d do it all right now.  Unfortunately, on a modest budget we have to prioritize and make progress little by little.

Our latest project involves the transformation of our garage from the black hole/impromptu storage room it currently is into a functional laundry and pantry space for me as well as a work space / man cave for Devin.

In other news, last week I finally (yes, finally!) started learning my way around a sewing machine.  I made my first two throw pillow covers and am raring to go for other sewing projects.

That’s where we stand in a nutshell.  Expect lots of photos in the coming posts!