Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Professional pictures:)

So, I finally had professional photos taken of our house...yay!!  I kept putting it off because "Is your home ever really done!!"  Ours is not but I finally bit the bullet.  We did not move in to a "done" house.  To recap, we bought an old tired fixer upper and poured our love and money into her!!  We spent so much money on the big stuff, i.e. roof, driveway, flooring, etc.  that the decorating has had to move at a bit of a slower pace.  At least, we never have to worry about a roof leak:)  Oh, yeah, that's not really a big worry in San Diego anyways...ha ha. We still do not have some blinds and drapes in some of the rooms and I am still negotiating with my husband on some perfect art work...but we are at the point where we could at least have some photos taken.

Our friend and fabulous photographer, Meredith Park, took the photos. She is a family and lifestyle photographer in San Diego. I love the brightness and crispness of the photos...that does not really happen with the iphone!!

Below is Part 1 of the little home tour:)  All pretty photos are by Meredith Park and all before photos are by moi or are from the MLS. There is more detailed information about what we did to each room on previous blog posts if you are interested.

Our home has a fairly open floor plan...when you walk in you pretty much see everything except the kitchen and the bedrooms.  The foyer consists of some benches and a side table and a mixture of art...modern and antiques. And rugs.  My husband thinks we have too many.  I think not enough. The office is on the right and the dining room is on the left and the living room is straight ahead.  It is a ranch style home which makes for some pretty easy living!! The barn wood floors really changed the feel of this home to give us that warm and rustic feel we were craving.

Below is what the foyer and the dining room used to look like....

This is our family/living room now.  The most impactful changes to this room were 1.) to fill in the sunken living room (which screamed 1960's) and also gave the room a larger yet more cohesive feel. And, 2.) we added a Kolbe pocket door system that completely opens up which is perfect for our mild and sunny California weather:)


And here is a before of the living room...
Our kitchen...


All I can say here is creamy white paint.  Those cabinets certainly needed it. White paint does wonders!!  And, we used a pretty grayish blue for the island and the existing built in cabinets as contrast.  We used reclaimed wood as well as concrete for backsplash and concrete for the countertops. The woven blinds are from Home Depot and the drum light in the kitchen nook was one of my first big home purchases over 8 years ago.  It has traveled with us to 3 homes.  I do love it but it is a sentimental issue more than anything!
And, here is a before...

Hope you enjoyed Meredith's pretty pictures.  Her website is  Check her out if you are in need of any photography!! I will be back soon for the rest of the tour. Thanks for checking it out!! xoxo

Friday, January 30, 2015

An amazing Spanish style house....edited and non edited photos

Chay Wike's house is amazing. It is this darling Spanish style house in L.A. with so much charm and character.   It is a perfect blend of a modern and rustic meets bohemian. And those wood beamed ceilings...oh I am so in love!!  It was featured in Domino's winter 2013 issue. Here are the images from Domino taken by Brittany Ambridge. Let's take a look..

As I always do, I stare and obsess over certain images in magazines or online. Then I google the homeowner  to find more images and then spend way too much time obsessing even more. But what I found...well let's just say it puts things in perspective. This home was also featured on Apartment Therapy a while back. While these images also show a darling house...and they were probably iPhone pictures...the difference is pretty drastic. Take a look. This is the same house as above...the lighting and scale and overall feel is quite different!


We (or at least I) will spend some time  looking at certain images and think that the house or room or flower is perfect and confirm that my home certainly does not look like this. My house looks more like a toy store with my kiddos' scooters and karaoke machine and Legos and art work are either scattered around or we are always trying to get "organized" which usually lasts for about 2 days. And  I will take a picture with my iphone and sometimes they come out ok and sometimes the lighting is so wrong. Yes, I really need to invest in a better camera.

Well, as I am learning these magazine and blog images are highly edited and it takes a whole professional crew i.e. photographer, stylist, etc. 8 to 9 hours to get 5 to 10 great shots. Adding and editing to get the perfect shot. Yes please...I would love a crew to take over my house and make it look gorgeous:) Obviously, a room or a house has to have great bones and style but it is pretty amazing what a photographer and stylists can do to take it to the next level!

As much as these images are beautiful to look is pretty safe to say that these rooms have had a little help. They are highly edited and enhanced versions of life. Do we strive for this perfection? Or do we live life that can be quite messy at times. I do not think we can strive for this perfection as even these "perfect" images are not "real life".  I think it pretty similar with fashion magazines.  There has been so much controversy over the "realness" of models and actresses.  But, I think it comes down to beauty sells.  As with a home magazine, I do not think they would sell too many copies if the articles were photographed from a cell phone!

The sweetest woman who helped us with our garden (which I will blog about soon) made an interesting comment the other week. She came into our house one morning (as I was not expecting her that day), so to put it lightly, the house was not tidy and the morning dishes were not cleaned and so I apologized to her. And she said Oh please, honey, your home  is gorgeous and you have children and you are living. Think how sad it would be if you did not have the reminders of that. And, it is so true...every where I look it is a little messy...but these are reminders of the people and animals that I love the most.

But, if a magazine came calling, I assure you I would get this place tidied up and as perfect as can be in no time!! Even if that means throwing all this "stuff" in a closet...ha ha:)


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The next season...

 So, after a couple of days of being pretty sad about the Holidays being over...I decided it was time to move on and I went shopping. That always makes me feel better...ha ha. My hubbie is a bit concerned but I assured him a lot of gals think like this (right...I hope?)! We (well I) bought a couple of special pieces for the house. I have been really good for a while about NOT buying stuff but I decided it was time to take this house to the next level. It has certainly been quite an evolution over the last year. 

So what happens when you miss your Christmas tree. You jump on the ficus/ fig tree bandwagon and fill in the empty space. This space felt quite empty when we removed our tree so it was perfect timing to go get a 5 foot tall house plant. 

I had been in love with this antique woven basket for some time and finally bit the bullet. I am using it to hold firewood at this point but it will be great for magazines, many things really. I just love to look at it:)

And over the last few months...we bought some neat antique benches and some new rugs. And hung these modern fine art pieces that I had framed a while back. I am always drawn to antique, found pieces and like to mix them with something a little more modern. This space is looking from our dining room into the office and through the foyer. I love walking into our house and seeing some of the things that I adore the most.

This bull art was in our bar but I think this spot will suit him perfectly:)
And the piece de resistance..that I have been resisting and my
Hubbie really wanted me to resist. I have been in love with this guy for some time but my hubbie and I really struggled with is taxidermy ok...the ethics of it? We love animals so much and we would never go out and harm them. But, I do eat meat and I wear leather. So, where do you draw the line? This guy was for sale for only a couple of hundred dollars and I could not resist him or the price. And, bottom line is I love him and I did not harm him so here he is...

I also changed out some of our flowers (a couple of times) and table pieces from a winter wonderland to something a little more spring like (even though it is obviously not spring). There should really be a season between winter and spring. I always love a simple and natural statement.

 I am super happy with how this gallery wall turned out in the office. I cannot take credit for hanging them.  I did do a gallery wall  in our last house and it turned out ok but I just did not trust myself on this one so I left it to a picture hanging professional. Gallery walls make such statements, yes? And, yes I still have this one little lone tree up.  I really need to put it away.

And my son and I worked on this little painting project. This is so fun to do together with children...and it helped that this piece could not be "messed up". And painting can be very soothing (if you are in the right mood). Here is a before and after. The green was not the right color for our house and this dark gray works so much better. It's not perfect...there is still some green showing and imperfections but that is just fine.

And we are working on a garden. Here is a peek of our little helpers tending to their vegetables. It is going to be super cute with a white picket fence and a little table..can't wait!! I will post more on this soon.

This space was quite an eye sore before.  The previous owners used this area for a dog kennel:(

And having some beach days definitely make you forget that the Holidays are over.



Friday, January 9, 2015

Guest rooms and a little bump in the road with ours!!

Guest rooms are like powder rooms in my book...I think they should be special or at least given some special attention. Let me start this post by saying you can only do what you can with the space you have.  You do the best you can but I think it is so important to make your guests feel special and welcomed.

So, we have kind of a different situation. Our guest room happens to be one of the best rooms in our house. It has high ceilings, beautiful views, hardwood floors, a very natural feel. We also went ahead and redid the little bath because, well we could not have our guest showering with a cracked shower pan and broken tile, could we?

We would have loved to have transformed this space into our master but it just was not feasible. While it is attached to our house you have to walk outside to get to it. We would have needed to connect it to our house. Two other prominent issues being the bathroom is not big enough nor is the closet. We would have needed to borrow all of this square footage from my son's room and he just did not have the space to give. And, we had already spent so much money on big ticket items (roof, driveway, doors, flooring, etc.) it was just not doable...but it pains us because we love this room.

So, long story short, our guests have a pretty nice room to stay in. So, if  any of my friends are reading this, come visit, before this crazy girls changes her mind and decides she wants to do another fixer upper!!

The funny thing is that this room was done on a pretty small budget...and it is my favorite. Most of the furnishing were left over from the other areas in our home and was  put together in the most cohesive way possible.

But, it was probably not always such a nice guest room to stay in.  This is what it looked like before we purchased the home. Not super inviting. But it had good bones. I mean look at the ceiling!!

The biggest issue and the reason it has not been "finished" this past year is due to the number of windows that needed to be covered...this was a big expense that I was dreading. And, this is not because I do not love window coverings...oh, I do!! is just because they are so dang expensive. Look at all of the windows that need to be covered.

Let's just put it in perspective...these custom dining room drapes in our dining room...which I absolutely loooove... cost approx $3,800 (see below). The area measures approx 130 x 96 (to give you an idea) and obviously we wanted some additional fabric on each side (no fake mini drapes here, ya'll!)This included custom Kravet hardware, linen fabric, labor and installation.


Back to the guest room...the smaller windows are 50 " wide and the larger ones are 100"wide. So, I needed to cover 450" of windows!! This would have cost us at least $15,000 if we had gone the custom route. So, that was not really an option. However, the holidays were quickly approaching and I had to get something up on those windows. My sister and her husband were staying with us and I think it is only fair that they have some privacy and are able to sleep in without the sun pouring in at 6 in the morning:)

So, I had a couple of options. Originally, I was thinking about woven blinds. We ordered some through Home Depot (Bali) for some other rooms in our home and I am super happy with them but they still are not cheap (approx $200 to $500 per blind depending on the size...see below in our kitchen dining nook).Woven blinds are a great look but I prefer them partnered up with drapery and especially in this circumstance it would look so much better. And, that would have doubled the cost if I was doing both (blinds and drapes).  I think only woven blinds  would have been just too much of a good other words a sea of heavy woven blinds.

I also checked out the Home Depots' cut -to -size woven blinds (seen below in our guest bath). 

They were appealing because they are light weight and light looking and less expensive. While I am happy with them in that particular location they would not have held up long term and with so many windows going up and would have been too much wear and tear. Also, where it is cut on the side by the employees is not a perfect cut and is a little ragged looking. But, hey for $35-50 for each one...not sure if you can beat it. But, with the number of blinds I needed, it would have added up fast. Also, I would need 2 next to each other for some of the windows (because they come in limited sizes) and they would not abut to one another due to the hardware. So, it would look weird and there would be an it would contradict the reasons why I was getting them in the first place...privacy and early morning sun. And, it would look weird!! Too many cons!

I am normally such a planner and like making decisions but I was stalling on this one!!So, 2 weeks before our guests arrived, I needed to bite the bullet and do something. So, I ordered drapes from Restoration Hardware in their fog linen color. Because, I did not have time to go get a sample, I could only hope that this gray color would work ok. Thank goodness for is usually hard to mess that one up. And, I put a rush on them and they got here with a few days to spare!! And, I was a quite nervous...was this all going to come together?...And I hoped all of the measurements were right on. So I had them installed with my fingers crossed. I figured I could at least make a portion of them work and add some temporaries if needed (may have made for not so happy guests:).

I was so happy with them. I hung them all at the same height and they are so pretty and easy to work. I could not be happier. So while they are not custom they have the look I was craving for a fraction of the cost ($3,200) and that works just perfect for me. Here is a look at the room now.


And the little guest bathroom that had potential...

And after...

I would love to know how you make your guests feel special.  Here are a couple of things that I do just so our guests feel welcomed.

*Clean, clean, clean. Cleanliness...the room itself  and the areas around it.  If this means that guests are staying in one of your children's room...I would try to really organize and get rid of some of the clutter.  Just try to make it as clean, organized, and enjoyable as possible.

*Fresh flowers or a pretty orchid.  This does wonders.  Something so simple but so welcoming saying to your guests I am so glad you are here.

*Nice hand soap in the bathroom and decent shampoo and soap.  I know many people travel with their own these days but many do not, as well.

*Clean and fresh towels and a few extra of them.  It is sometimes awkward having to ask for extra ones so you may as well just go ahead and provide them.

*Also, because it was the Holidays I added a wood Christmas tree on the night table and some fresh white roses with some greenery.  I did  not want to go overboard...just something simple and a little statement to say "I am so glad you are here."

Any tips that you have...I would love to hear!! 

Have a great weekend!!