I “heart” snow days!

Right now, all my non-teacher friends are rolling their eyes, and groaning and telling me to shut up. Yes, many of you are at work right now, and I hope you arrived there safely. I must tell you; however, on behalf of all my teacher friends, that these days are necessary breaks to preserve our sanity, and we work very hard during the school year, so don’t hate us for having a few extra breaks and approximately a month off in the summer. (It’s not really the three months you think it is, you know.)

But, I digress. The real reason for my post today is to share what I like to do best on snow days, and any break, weekend, spare evening hours for that matter: rearrange and decorate my home.

A little history on my hobby obsession: Way back when, in 2000, I graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Fancy, huh? Unfortunately for me, my grades were not up to par to be accepted into any Master’s Degree program, and in the field, no Master’s = no Speech Therapy certification. I spent a year working at the Vanguard Group, processing faceless people’s 401(k) transactions….needless to say, I knew that wasn’t where I was meant to spend the rest of my working years! I knew that I either wanted to get my teaching certification, or go to school for Interior Design. (They’re related, right?) I researched, even toured some schools, and it came down to the fact that going back for my teaching certification would be the most logical? economical? practical? Whatever the final reason was, I went into my undergrad major to work with kids, so teaching made the most sense at the time. (Also, the intense drawing classes that were prerequisites to Interior Design scared the bejeezus out of me-this wasn’t just picking paint and pillows.) Ultimately, I decided that teaching would always be a career and interior design could always be a hobby.

So, when we started the home-buying process 5 1/2 years ago (wow, really?) we left our minds and imaginations open to what was available in our price range. Yes, we could get that brand new cookie-cutter, 3 bedroom townhouse (some days I still dream of that whirlpool tub,) but at the same time, my uncle was getting ready to sell his home-a 100 year old Victorian in a town going through a major revitalization. We came to look at it (yes, it was my uncle’s house, it was 20 minutes from my parents, and he’d lived in it for 17 years, but I’m sorry to say I could only remember 3 times I’d been in it,) and saw the huge potential that it had. It was also to our advantage that he knew there were certain updates he’d have to make to sell to anyone, so some major projects were done before we even decided to buy. Another benefit of buying from my uncle was that we were able to get in and get to work on the house before we even signed anything or actually purchased the house. (Luckily, John is very handy and my dad was around to help teach him things he didn’t know how to do-like install lighting!) We spent the summer of 2005 painting, peeling wallpaper, and cleaning the crap out of this place. I can still see John, my dad and I working in tandem in the dining room that I sit in now, steaming, scraping and peeling, and eventually painting! (These people-before my uncle-wallpapered over wallpaper. I think I peeled 4 layers off in the vestibule/entry way alone!) We finally moved in at the end of October and set to work really making it a home.

Five years later, we’re still working. I think any homeowner will tell you that there’s always a project to be done. In between big projects, when we’re saving for the next, I like to do little projects that require little (if any) money. I have a huge, grand scheme of a project for our kitchen should we decide to stay here forever (still on the fence about that one) which involves knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room ultimately turning the dining room into a great room, and redoing the kitchen….but since we don’t have the $20,000 that may cost just lying around, I know that’s a long way off. I always hated how little we use our dining room and thought about what I could do with it instead. After running my idea by my Aunt Janis (an artist, a “real-life” interior designer/decorator, and my family’s personal consultant before making any design decisions,) I decided that I could change the function of my dining room without knocking the wall down.

So, I give you my dining room before (or at least two pictures that show a glimpse of my dining room in its former state-see how little we used it?!):

this food just all looks good right now...close up of the old table in all its bridal shower glory

The loveseat in its former spot in the bay window

And here's my new room!

Oh wait, it actually looks like this now:

The newly recovered love seat, chair that's traveled from our family room to Finnboo's room and back again, and an old school desk repurposed as a side table

Our non-functional fireplace (still trying to figure out what to do with that one,) built in hutch and desk. We swapped the sideboard formerly in the dining room with the desk, which used to reside in the foyer. Now I just need to get my hands on a can of spray paint for that lamp that I stole from Johnny's dresser....

Our new eating "nook!" Apparently I have some crooked blinds, too! :) Still trying to figure out what to put on a round table in terms of a centerpiece/placemats. Do placemats even go on a round table?

I have only spent $22 in this room so far, and it’s far from done, but I like how it’s turning out. It’s comfortable, it’s quiet, and best of all-WE USE IT!! Doing this now started permeating my brain one Saturday morning in the fall when John and I sat on the loveseat (which had been thrown into the dining room’s bay window) drinking coffee while the boys were watching some Playhouse Disney and playing in the family room. We wanted a cozy, comfortable space for US as the coffee is kicking in and we get ready to face the day. I think we’ve achieved that. Of course, John wants to eventually put a flat screen T.V. above the desk, but for now, we catch early morning news and Sportscenter on the computer courtesy of our SlingPlayer-a fancy thing that hooks up to our upstairs cable box and turns our computer into a television.  (I admit-I’m a little addicted to television, specifically HGTV and anything Bravo, but that’s another story. I just try with all my might to limit it for the kids, but it’s always on, if only for background noise!)

We already had all the furniture that now occupies the room in different places in the house with the exception of the table. The table was given to us by my in-laws, who just recently got a new kitchen table. While it’s not what I would have picked at the store, it’s a solid table that serves it’s function and fits the space perfectly! (I can fit 6 chairs around it comfortably.) And who can complain about a free table?

I read a lot, I mean A LOT of blogs, some mom blogs, but mostly design and DIY blogs, and even one that combines design and mommyhood-Design Mom. Love her. One of my favorites, The Nesting Place, is written by a design school dropout (her description, not mine,) who calls herself “the Nester.” She posts a lot of pictures of her house, and I’m obsessed. She’s the reason my love seat is now covered in white. The Nester, and several other bloggers SWEAR by white slipcovers, even with children, and I was actually ready to set out to make my own slipcovers, when I went to IKEA yesterday and saw that they sold white slipcovers for the Ektorp loveseat for $11-you didn’t read that incorrectly, I said eleven dollars!  I was very skeptical when I saw the price on the shelf-how could they only cost $11? I asked a store employee if I could safely assume that the entire slipcover was in the box for that price-it didn’t say “box 1 of 2″ or anything, and he assured me that it was all there. (By the way, huge thanks again to my sister who very patiently waited, kept the children occupied and even accompanied Finnboo to the “potty” during all this.) As I drove home and told John about this deal, we were joking that it’d be made of paper, but nope-it is canvas duck, just like the last one. It says it’s washable in hot water, but not “bleachable.” Oh well, for $11, I can just go by a new one if it gets dirty, right? ;)

So, while I don’t claim to be a designer, and this isn’t turning into a “design blog,” I wanted to share this with all of you. What I’ve taken away from all these other blogs that I’m reading, and my purpose for writing this blog is that most blogging at it’s core is documentation of life: kids, family, experiences, home, and the enjoyment in it all!

So I leave you for now, as I’m off to make some Valentine’s Day decorations with my crazies, and make the most of this snow day.

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