Living Room | In Progress

We are trucking along on projects at the house.  I’ve got an end-of-May deadline in mind for the top projects since we will start homeschooling again in June (thank you for your travel tips in that post!).  Chris is working on a prototype for the kitchen island lighting–oh, can’t wait to see it!  And I’m making decisions on paint color and fabric in our main living areas–just so I’ll have it done instead of staring at it during homeschool, wishing I had time to work on it.

The living room was on the low priority list until I ran across a red sofa I almost bought.  This was the time to take the living room all girlie red and pink, which my husband liked in writing–but when I showed him real rooms with the color combo he felt it “too old lady fancy.”  So close to feeling like I had the room done, I decided to see if I could make peace with the green sofa and stitch something together for the room around it.  The room really needs a larger sofa, but there are too many higher priority things to buy.  So, the $20 sofa is staying for awhile (I later bought fabric, though poor choice, and paid an upholsterer to recover it, but I still like to call it my $20 sofa).

Finally with a furniture layout in place that I like, the fabric swatches are now flying.  The house tells me go big and less is more–trust me, it makes sense.  So, I’m going big on color and only one color, blue, in hopes that the green recedes as a neutral and the colors of the art will pop the most.   This idea of repeating blue over and over soothes me.  At the risk of you sending me to the crazy house, I’ll say it again:  this life stage for me is so chaotic that the less visual noise I have, the better.  So, art will be my color and pattern.  Won’t it be sad to see the pink chairs recovered in something else?

Sometimes I just wish I would be an adult and go to a store to order furniture instead of picking up castoffs in dark corners.  It’s love/hate actually–fun to customize a piece but, sheesh, more repainting?

Drapery…can’t wait for it!  And, hopefully some good asymmetry in the future accessories will play off the many pairs I have in the room.

This June will be two years since we bought the house so I know I can’t play that “we just moved in” card much longer on spaces like this entry.  I can’t seem to find a place in this house where I like the knot mirror.  I’ve done too many chairs-flanking-console in the house to do it here.  I’m looking for that one good statement chair to put by this Round Top dresser (anyone hit Round Top this week??).  Stairs need a runner…and on and on.

This inlay coffee table is a recent purchase from Screen Door Antiques in Asheville.  Large and sculptural, it checks off two boxes on my new furniture criteria Here are some of the fabrics I’m mulling over for the room–keeping the Kelly Wearstler Channels fabric and Schumacher leopard on the bench.  Why mess with a good thing there?  Oh, and, I’m thinking of painting the room a soft grey-blue and keep the entry white with a painted ceiling. Or, maybe I won’t do any of this at all.

When I get scared that I’m just tooting around like a fool with my colors and goofy stuff, something crazy happens like being chosen as The Blue Ribbon #1 Pick out of thousands of entries for my gallery wall in the kids’ playroom.  I was floored to see the results of the Domaine Home gallery wall challenge.  In this Instagram photo you can see artwork by all of children, some by me, and even a 1983 painting of me by my Aunt Rita.  Check out their picks–so many lovely gallery walls.  Thank you so much for the huge honor!  This wall is a result of not knowing what to do with scores of small-scale art that I didn’t want peppering my home–remember, go big and less is more!  Putting it all in one space forced the art to make a huge impact (this photo shows only half of it); and, well, you know, what they say about collections.www.tphblog.comUntil next time, see you on Instagram!

Year of Travel!

It’s happening.  It’s either my best idea ever or the worst thing I could possibly decide to do for a whole year.  Time will tell.www.tphblog.comStarting this June, we are returning to homeschool and traveling the world.  World school, edu-travel, travel school, ridiculousness–it goes by many names, and we are going to give it a shot.  Like, it’s official. IMG_6244

I took my sweet time deciding if I were up for it.  But I couldn’t let this unbelievable opportunity, completely amazing, pass me by.  It’s really the only year we could do it, as our oldest will be starting high school the following year (utter disbelief) and we don’t want to interrupt his high school experience.  Once I decided I could handle vomit and diarrhea in a foreign country with my three children by myself, I was in.  Pops will be joining us some, too, so I’ll have reinforcements!


It has been difficult to narrow down our destinations, but here is the working list:  Greece, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, England, Netherlands, Quebec, NYC, Vermont, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Beijing, California, Utah, Arizona, and somewhere in Latin America (but that’s our last trip so we’ve got time to decide).  Iceland is hard to omit.  And, India!  Australia and New Zealand were on the list for a long time but got cut due to expense.  And, there are so many fabulous spots in Asia, I just had to pick.  We are also going to do some quick trips in between: Florida for some marine biology, Ohio for Cedar Point (okay, that’s not school, unless we’re talking physics), Pennsylvania for Fallingwater, Florence, AL, and some local Georgia sites.  I miss my bed already!IMG_2389

So, I’d love to hear your recommendations on the above destinations.  Kid-friendly spots and activities?  Travel tips with kids on long plane rides and subsequent jet lag?  Fun history books with interesting stories for kids?  And French language tips or resources?  We will be taking lessons at home and abroad…I apologize in advance.


I’m so excited about this whole adventure…and so scared, too.  The planning is insane, and I’m trying to get a lot of the research done before the kids are finished with their spring semester in traditional school.  I’m also trying to finish up as many projects at the house as I can so I won’t be too distracted by the undone around me while I teach the kids.  And, by teach, I mean lots of cozied-up reading and videos.


We are going to learn lots, but it will be really relaxed.  I have enough homeschooling experience behind me now that I have confidence in my kids and myself that we can learn without meticulously doing every single workbook page.  Don’t put an artist in charge, people.IMG_8414

I’m not sure, yet, how we will document the year–how public we want to be.  I want the kids to blog but probably privately.  I might share something here every now and then.  We will write a children’s book with photos and art we make throughout the year–I’ll Shutterfly a book for ourselves unless someone wants to publish it, just putting that out there!  Hopefully I can sweet talk my husband into writing some posts on the travel deals he finds to make this all possible.  Some days I feel really ambitious, but most days I know realistically I need to take it slow and easy.


The kids are looking forward to trying candy all over the world…and desserts.  The littlest one wants to try all the sodas.  I’m so excited for them to see the world with young eyes.  Here we go!


Awkwardly Yours

Remember that time when my squishy baby legs grew so fast that my junior-size jeans couldn’t even skim the white leather of my Reebok high-tops?  Crop pants weren’t just an option but a unintentional fashion statement.

It wasn’t a pretty time (no matter how many times my Daddy told me so).  Awkward is mild in describing my transition from little lass to tween–orangutan arms of epic proportions and the kind of toothy, gummy, uninhibited smile that pays for an orthodontist’s mortgage and maybe his pool.

www.tphblog.comBonus awkward points:  playing with toes

But if you are an awkward tween survivor, you can attest that change brings beauty and strength on the other side.

www.tphblog.comThe living room in progress and host to furniture in need.  Color swatches = trusting my instincts.

A couple weeks ago I did an Instagram tour of our home based on fellow Instagrammers requests–photos of in-progress rooms.  What I thought would be a simple snap of photos around the house actually turned out to be a huge design lesson to me–one key point being, I am in a state of awkward change akin to a young child changing into an awkward adolescent en route to become a lovely and mature young adult.  Maybe your house is in an awkward stage, too?

www.tphblog.comThe cute calm before the awkward storm.

www.tphblog.comNew door detail on an old cabinet we’ve had for years + nomadic accessories + cool chair awaiting transformation

My house right now is preteen Angela–leaving a sweet ranch house behind and growing into a new image of herself.  Just like preteen Angela, my house has potential and really good intentions.  But much like my teeth–not everything is in the right place yet.  And much like my cropped pants that weren’t supposed to be cropped pants, my house just isn’t quite dressed right.  But this encourages me rather than discourages me.  I like to think I pulled through Aqua Net bangs and mom jeans (though there were sure to be other blunders down the road), and my house, too, will eventually make the transition to a lovely, mature-ish adult.

www.tphblog.comUnintentional cropped pants and bangs…bonus: our 80s living room.  And, shoulder pads.

The snapshots of the house helped me see the rooms in a different way than when I’m physically occupying the space.  I could see where I am hitting my goals and where I am veering off course.  The photos I shared (and didn’t share) helped me to clarify my purpose and direction in this house from the last house.

www.tphblog.comCurrent entry scene as furniture awaits reupholstery and a new resting spot in the house

The adorable shoebox rancher was deceptively roomy but much smaller in scale than our current house.  Smaller furnishings and accessories tucked in nicely at the rancher.  It’s traditional 1950s spirit called for an eclectic mashup of chinoiserie and mid-century modern–at least that was my prescription for the house.  Anyway, those things don’t always translate from house to house–where ceilings reach 2 feet higher and rooms stretch longer in width and length.

www.tphblog.comThe chinoiserie pieces we kept are in the bathroom for now + a chair that I just need to paint already!

Plus, there is the natural evolution of my personal style and curiosity.  While buying all new furniture isn’t in the budget, we are buying key pieces but making existing furniture work where we can, doing our best to support the vision for the house.  But the interim can be awkward–as I’m finding my way in a look I’m still defining and discovering for myself.  I’m learning how to combine the beloved vestiges of our past with new vistas–and my first tries aren’t always right.

www.tphblog.comFurniture from the loft + bevy of art = the leftovers party in the playroom

But now I know I’m just in my awkward stage, and this too will pass–please help me to remember it when sometimes things can’t happen quick enough.  But each little change and tweak gives me encouragement that I am closer to my goal.  And, I’m totally going to take more photos of the spaces I’m working on for my own deliberating purposes–and I’m trying to trust my instincts and question my tendencies more and know how to distinguish between the two.

www.tphblog.comNever awkward: being true to yourself and personality

The best part of this awkward stage?  Having photos to laugh at later.  Yep, it’s a good reminder to be generous with the camera clicks with my children in their tween years.  They’ll thank me someday.

www.tphblog.comThere is a bedside table plan, I just need to execute it.  In the meantime, this awkward arrangement.

The Kitchen | Plans, in Progress

The words “in progress” are key for this post.  I won’t rattle on a disclaimer, but this is the kitchen raw and ready for the details.  The sparse kitchen actually is pretty soulless at this point.  But, I’m working on it; and–while feeling vulnerable–I’d love to share where we’re

I haven’t touched these shelves since we unpacked over a year ago.  I do know the bunny stays.  He holds our tea.

When we bought the house, the kitchen was tired and needed a refresh.  I was excited about having a kitchen to design from scratch–but overwhelmed.  While I looked at hundreds of gorgeous kitchens, none felt like us.  White and grey are classic beauties, but neither color seemed right for our family. Then I saw this kitchen by stylist Emma Persson Lagerberg  Those mint green cabinets heavily influenced me toward a mint paint decision.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 4.29.11 PM

I also keep going back to that dark green chair and mint cabinet combo…  As for the cabinet shape, I fell hard for these Workstead cabinets.

www.workstead.comI couldn’t get them out of my mind and ended up modifying the design for our own kitchen.

www.tphblog.comI love how the cabinets turned out and the putty-minty green color, which I mixed myself out of frustration.  The white quartz countertops make me happy.  We all love the roominess of the space as it is the place where we mill about the most–no more tripping over each other!  And, because the human collisions drive me bananas, we have two locations for trash and two sinks, LOVE the two sinks!  And we have a hot water dispenser that I use more often than I thought I would–adore it!  I also love, love our giant chalkboard, which also doubles as a secret door for a storage cabinet for entertaining ware and gift wrap.

I’m not so thrilled with the backsplash–it was a compromise with my husband who didn’t like my first pick.  But it’s not horrible, it’s just not thrilling…like a backsplash should be, right?

.  I’m also not as satisfied as I thought I would be with the vintage light installed over the island.  The color just isn’t right and the space needs that one big moment that the right chandy could provide.  I didn’t buy the light for this house, for the last one actually, and I just figured it would be nice to use it here.www.tphblog.comDid you see this island lighting in the November 2014 Elle Decor?

IMG_0437Photo: Simon Upton Design: Achille Salvagni

I know, RIGHT?  If there were a race on how fast one calls her welder, I’d win.  He said, “bring it on.”  And, I shall.  So Chris is working with us on how we will wire this cage system up.  The easiest and probably cheapest way to do this, would be to just put a cage around the existing light, paint them up the same, and call it a day.  But I want to be more deliberate with it–at least I say that until the estimate comes in!

And because all the kitchen elements are so big, stout, and boxy right now, I am leaning toward a design that is more open like this:

www.tphblog.comColor and finish of it?  Not sure yet.

The other part of the kitchen causing me grief is the dining area, opposite of the island.  I have spent months looking at fabric for the windows, as I really thought all along that I would do drapes on this wall.  But nothing was exciting me–I can’t tell you how many renderings I made of different fabric/chair combinations.  But the table, by Grey Furniture, we all love!  And, I love our new (comfy!) aluminum chairs that finally arrived…but what color to paint them?

www.tphblog.comWhen I think about how I want this space to look, I keep going back to this image–a Notting Hill dining space by Staffan Tollgard.

I’ve done soul-searching (as one does when considering kitchen finishes) and have analyzed every bit of this photo and every internal reaction I have to it, for clues.  It’s the simplicity in form and color, the color blocking, the artful sophistication, the texture, the symmetry, the classical trim vs modern lines.  And, I love that eggplant-y color on the chairs.  So, I’m moving forward without drapes, add picture trim that will help temper the contemporary flavor of the kitchen, add some statement sconces (we need more mood lighting anyways for quesadilla night), and go subtle-bold (it’s true) with the chair color.  receipts018

Pay no mind to the painted chair.  Sometimes a girl has a can of red paint open and desperation on her hands.  Same goes for the gray-painted chair on the other

My husband says I’ve spent probably a total of 150 hours thinking about that window wall.  And, he is right, I’m sure.  But I’m feeling good about this clean direction.  Above all, this highly-sensitive, slightly OCD mother wants a clean, calm kitchen as a backdrop for the inevitable chaos of life, so I think streamlining it as much as possible will help me reach that goal.  Not a lot of different colors, not a lot of things on the walls (we have the pretty woods outside to look at), not a lot of different finishes…let’s just say it’s therapy by way of a kitchen.

Have you checked out the house tour I’m doing on Instagram this week?  Just a peek at progress we’re making over here at TPH.

An Instagram House Tour by Request

Starting this Sunday I’m leading  a tour of our in-progress house on Instagram–by your requests.  One photo a day for a week–it will be seven new peeks around the house.  If you have a special request of something to see, please leave me a comment here or on Instagram and I’ll consider it for one of the seven photos.  Follow along if you want!  And…hopefully I’ll have a kitchen post up next week.  Things are about to happen in there and I’m finally excited about the direction!www.tphblog.comI know you love some vintage Dolly Parton because who doesn’t?   I’m going to musically implant a little 9-to-5 tunage in your head right now.  Hum along while you look at this adorable tween room designed by my friend Shannon Berrey.  www.shannonberrey.comThis room has been augmented, painted up, nipped and tucked like a good Dolly room should.  Shannon did much of the work herself–including the Dolly painting.  She is SUCH a talent.

Other projects you should follow:

My friend Darlene at Fieldstone Hill Design is working on a kitchen remodel plan for her historic fieldstone home.  She’s scheming and pinning–lots of good ideas flowing over there!  She is also doing a room-by-room tour of her deliciously cozy house over the next few  I was lucky enough to visit one afternoon and there is peace and calm within those walls–immediately I felt at home.

Jill Sorensen made a cross-country move and finally found the perfect LA house to renovate.  No question it will be bold and the right mix of old and

Nice choice on the black and white cement tile for the laundry room, Jill!  (Me thinks that Javier, her contractor, has never had a prettier or more talented customer.)

Have you seen Gwen’s dining room at The Makerista?  www.themakerista.comIt’s hard to believe it was just recently a very basic, everyday affair with popcorn on the ceiling.  Black on the walls, pretty much always a good thing.  She is working magic on her new house, pulling Craigslist rabbits, one after the other, outta her hat.

I have to say, I love it when bloggers move or tackle a big project.  Voyeur much?

Enjoy the weekend, friends!  I’ll see you around on Instagram!

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