I spend a lot of time talking about our house, and you’ve seen it in snippets here and there–our office and bathroom renovations, the porch tented in plastic for spray-painting, the kitchen counter displaying food. But I thought it was high time I showed you the place as a whole.
We live in an approximately 800-square-foot condo in central Missouri. It’s a pretty area–our unit is at the back of the complex, so rather than being surrounded by parking lot, it’s surrounded by trees. During the summer, when the bushes outside our porch are in full foliage, you can really forget that we have neighbors. We’re in a ground-floor unit, and for the first two years we lived here, the upper unit was vacant. It was awesome. No noise, no need to worry about our own volume, and we totally took advantage of the two empty parking spaces and their empty (unlocked) storage unit up in the attic. Unfortunately, it’s not vacant anymore, and is in fact occupied by a very nice family with a very stompy child who is very fond of running. This has contributed somewhat to our desire to move (although we were ready to move on anyway). We love our place, but we want somewhere that’s really our own–somewhere we can drill holes in the walls and wire things and tear up carpet. Our landlords are cool about minor renos, but there’s a limit to everything.
When you walk in the front door, the first thing you see is our dining-room table (we don’t have an actual dining room; we have a corner with a table, chairs, and Ikea bookshelf).
The table belonged to my great-aunt, and took up residence in several of my siblings’ homes before it made its way to me. I sanded off the problem areas (it had a large crack in the top, which I filled, and a giant burn mark from a hot pot) and stained it, then built leaves with the help of my uncle and had glass cut for the top. The chairs are from my parents’ first dining room set and are currently mid-renovation. The pendant lamp and glass bubbles are from CB2, the bookshelf is from Ikea, the drawing of rotten tomatoes is by my talented friend Jessie Starbuck, and I did the farm painting in college (I bought a thrift-store painting of a barn, then painted in flames and smoke, invading UFOs, and cows being abducted as part of a series called Forced Collaborations). The cross-stitch sampler used to hang over our bar and reads “Candy’s dandy, but liquor’s quicker” (one of my dad’s favorite idioms).
Moving along the orange wall, you get to our breakfast bar. The stools came with the place, so I can’t complain. Our kitchen is small, but after our old 250-square-foot apartment with only three running feet of counter space, it feels a LOT bigger. Those bifold doors hide our pantry, washer and dryer. Eagle-eyed readers may recognize the silver bud vase from a couple posts back, nestled in beside a vase made by my friend Emily Nickel, a candy dish made by another friend (Zia Luehrman), and an owl candle left over from our Harry Potter party.
There are 3 things I never want to have in a house again: cabinets that don’t go all the way to the ceiling (unless the ceilings are crazy high, which ours aren’t), builder-grade oak stain, and beige Formica. That being said, our kitchen is surprisingly functional for its size and I use it all the time (at least 2 meals per day). Part of my pottery collection (some made by me, other pieces made by college friends) is displayed on top of the cabinets. The fun patterned towels are from Crate & Barrel and were wedding gifts.
The pride and joy of my kitchen is my Kitchenaid stand mixer in Green Apple, which my sister/maid of honor bought for me as a wedding gift. I love it–it’s like a happy baking robot who does all the boring tasks (like whipping cream or stirring in flour) for me.
Probably my favorite area of the house is the living room. It’s weirdly angled, but I like that–it allows for more creative furniture arrangements. The rug is the first thing Jimmy picked out for the house, so I designed most of the room around it. The sofa is from Overstock.com and the vintage Danish chairs were purchased on Craigslist (it was a steal at $50 for the pair). The television was a gift from my parents. The ottoman is a vintage coffee table with a cracked and stained top I bought at Goodwill, then upholstered. Our fabulous moose, Fred, is from Cardboard Safari. The hearth currently holds our herb garden, which just moved in from outside because of the dropping temperatures. Please ignore the piles of junk on the porch outside the door; I was spray-painting something and had to move all the stuff to that end.
From the other angle, you get a better view of the fireplace (which we use a lot in the winter). I made the pillows in a fun Premier Prints pattern to tie in the color of the chairs and the rectilinear lines of the rest of the room. I think the stack of books is currently The Indie Rock Poster Book, design*sponge At Home, Hark! A Vagrant, and The Sweet Life in Paris.
The mantelpiece is just a collection of little curiosities I like. The vintage glass bottle holds felt “billy balls.” I bought the cat sculpture in a thrift store with every intention of bringing her home and spray-painting her glossy white, but her kitschy coloring grew on me and I left her alone. The wooden letterpress punctuation blocks, part of my typography obsession, came from Etsy. The beaker-glass candlesticks are from CB2. The brass tree on the end was a wedding gift for my aunt many years ago, dubbed “The Tree of Happiness” by the gift giver, and has been something of a joke in my family for years–most of the family thinks it’s hilariously hideous, but I think it has a sort of charm.
This buffet deserves a post of its own, and one of these days I’ll get around to writing one. I inherited it after my grandmother’s death last year. It was covered in a quarter-inch-thick layer of goopy paint–ivory over brown, white, red, and finally wood. Jimmy and I stripped it back to bare wood (I was heartbroken when we reached the red layer, which had been hand-detailed with gold in a very intricate chinoiserie pattern) and painted it glossy black and white. The doors had cracked wooden panels in them, which we removed and replaced with glass. I frosted the glass in the same pattern as the paper I used to cover the inside shelves. It was a labor of love, but we’re happy with it. The fantastic green tray was a wedding gift from my friend Carmon (from CB2).
You’ve seen my side of the office, so I won’t talk much about it. If you’re interested, you can learn about the renovation here.
You haven’t seen Jimmy’s side of the office, because it’s boring. If we were planning on sticking around longer, I’d decorate it somehow. For now, the filing cabinet from a previous post is the focal point.
Our bedroom is maybe my other favorite space in the house. When we moved in, the walls had been sponge-painted with brown paint. We immediately painted over it with taupe, and I added the bird/tree mural several months later. The dressers are from Jimmy’s childhood bedroom, the shag rug is a gift from my parents, and the gallery shelf displays a collection of meaningful items (among them are two music boxes, a few pieces of antique Wedgwood pottery, a grade-school spelling bee trophy, and two bobbing-head Japanese solar toys). The jewelry armoire was handmade by an Etsy artisan and given to me as a birthday gift by Jimmy.
One of the “charming” oddities of our place is that there is no overhead lighting in either bedroom. The office is lit by my gigantic paper lantern; the bedroom is lit primarily by two orange stick lamps. The photo collage on the wall includes various pictures of the two of us and our friends, typographic elements, and word clouds from each of our (at the time) blogs. The lamp, vase and photo frame on the dresser were all purchased at HomeGoods. The “his money/her money” piggy bank was a wedding gift, and Jimmy bought me the antique silver jewelry box at a shop in historic St. Charles. I bought a plain wooden tray at a craft store and painted/decoupaged it to hold little things.
The corner of the bedroom holds an antique scrollwork chair owned by my grandmother, as well as my monster collection of scarves and hats. You can’t see them, but there are three big hooks holding up all those scarves in the corner.
The master bathroom, when we moved in, was papered in navy-and-white striped wallpaper with a sailboat border. The stripes had been put up at a very slight angle, and combined with the triangular shape of the room, the effect was dizzying. I got out of the shower every day with a headache. We tore down the wallpaper, patched the walls, and painted what I thought was eggplant purple; once up it turned out to be more like grape Kool-Aid, but it’s still a massive improvement. Trust me.
You’ve also seen our guest bathroom, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but if you want to know more you can check out the renovation post.
So that’s it! (Aside from our obscenely messy closets and porch.) It’s a nice little place, and we like to think we’re leaving it better than when we found it. I’ll give more details on bits and pieces as they happen (like the chair reupholstery, which should be going on annnnny day now.)