Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gallery Wall - Phase 1

I finally took the plunge and hung up some items to start my gallery wall! Or actually, my husband did, but he put each picture where I told him to, so I'm still taking credit.

Here's how bare my wall looked before.

And here's how it looks now!

Here's a close-up.

Included in my gallery wall so far, are of course, plenty of baby pictures. I can't believe how much this girl has grown already! The big black and white one is from when she was three weeks old. Then the one beneath that in the white frame is from her three month photo shoot, wearing one of the headbands I made her and posing on top of our coffee table Louis. Beneath that is a really cute picture of my husband and I from when we were dating. We're sitting back to back on a bench, and it's probably my favorite picture of us ever. The big wooden frame holds a sketch my sister-in-law made of one of our wedding photos, and the bird print is from Jones Design Company. It was my Mother's Day present this year from Mr. and Miss Vintage Violet, and I love it! The embroidery hoop is just some cheap linen-ish fabric that I embroidered the word "family" onto, there's an empty frame waiting for Miss V's six month photo to finally be printed, and then there's her silhouette that my husband made me for Christmas.

That's probably way more information than you cared to hear, but I love how everything on the wall so far has meaning for our family. It was really hard to not just make it all baby pictures! I tried to make it more about our family, and I think it's taking that direction quite nicely. Now we just need a real family picture to put up there.

To plan this wall, I gathered a bunch of pictures I already had, but had taken down from other areas when we remodeled the kitchen a few months ago. I hate cleaning drywall dust off of everything and I wasn't happy with how a lot of my decorations were looking so I just took them all down during the remodeling. Once I had a good sized group of items, I started laying it all out on my kitchen island, to see what arrangement looked best. Then I moved them to the dining room table so I could make dinner, and after three nights of eating dinner in the living room, I finally got them hung up! At first, it bothered me that I had three different colors of frames. It seemed to me from stalking, ahem, admiring other bloggers, that most of them picked one frame color, usually white. I thought about painting my frames, but I was tired of eating dinner on the couch, so decided to just hang them as is and if they made me annoyed, take them down and paint them later.

I think I am actually liking the variety of frame colors! I have dark wood, white, and black frames. I tried to not put two of the same color right up against each other to avoid a light side and dark side to my arrangement. Fortunately, I was able to make that work right now, but I might have to bend those rules as I add additional items.

Here's another view.

I feel like I should offer some explanations for this picture. First, please excuse Raggedy Ann just hangin' out on the couch. She's Miss V's favorite thing ever and we refer to her as if she's our other child, so she could pretty much pop up anywhere. Second, I know I have an ancient card table covered in a random piece of wrinkled fabric there in the corner. I'm classy like that. Actually, we had company last week and I needed extra seating for dinner, and I haven't put it away. Just keeping it real here folks. Eventually, I hope to find some piece of furniture that works back in that weird corner, but for now, it's usually empty. (Except for when my husband stores random building supplies back there, so really, the card table is a step up for us.)

So what do you think? Like my gallery wall? Now that I've broken the ice, I feel like I have more ideas on what I want to do. Maybe a big letter with our family initial? A family picture would be nice, and there will be more baby pictures, for sure.

'Cause she's just so stinkin' cute.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Purchases and Progress

Here's what I bought at Ikea last week.

Not very exciting, and not very much. (And apparently I was having serious camera-focusing issues.) Ikea wasn't the main part of our trip that day and our other appointment went waaaay late. Like, it was supposed to start at 3:30 but didn't start until 5:00 kind of late.

So, by the time we got to Ikea, I was just ready for the day to be done and go home. I grabbed some white frames because I knew that was the one thing I definitely wanted to leave with, glanced at all the other loveliness with a vow to return another day, and quickly rushed my crying and thoroughly frustrated baby through the check out.

Here's where those frames are headed.

This is my big blank wall. The one I don't know what to do with. I know I want it to be a gallery wall a la The Nester, but I'm kind of nervous about getting started with it. I really need to do something though, because it's one of the few walls I can actually decorate. Since moving to this house, I've found the one draw-back to an open floor plan and lots of windows, is no wall space. Where do you hang stuff? So this wall is like my only (ok, not only, but definitely the biggest) chance to get this decorating thing right, and I'm feeling the pressure.

Hold my hand, and check back later this week to see more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Land of Swedish Style, Here I Come!

Tomorrow I'm headed to Ikea! Such a fun place and a very kid-friendly shopping trip. I'll post about our trip later this week, but I wanted to know if anybody has any suggestions of things I should look for. What have you bought at Ikea recently that you really loved?

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Curb Appeal - The Really Cheap Edition

I am a complete sucker for a house with curb appeal.

And sadly, when we bought Vintage Violet Cottage a year and a half ago, it had none.

In fact, the entire house was in such bad condition, that when we first saw it, we said no thanks. But then we got home and couldn't stop thinking about it. The house had potential. It just needed,

- to be gutted to the frame

- new electrical

- all new drywall

- hardwood floors refinished

- all new trim and interior doors

- walls ripped out, and doorways widened into archways

- supporting roofline beam jacked up and supported

- and serious yard work and anything else we could come up with to improve it's "cute factor" from the street.

(This was the kitchen when we bought the house. That is totally unrelated to this post, but I couldn't resist showing you the horror. It actually looks much better in the picture than in real life, but that's another post- or series of posts.)

You know, just a few things. And since we had very little money and even less experience with remodeling, we decided to buy it! Looking back, I'm not sure what we were thinking, but we have some very handy and helpful family members and my husband is just plain smart and hard-working, so I fully believed in his ability to quickly learn how to do things.

The first eight months of living in the house were almost all focused on the inside. Especially since we moved in, and found out one month later that after almost five years of marriage we were going to be parents! Surprise! I think Mr. Vintage Violet immediately took a crowbar to the living room paneling upon hearing the news and when we told my parents, my mom started crying, and my dad turned to my husband and started discussing how to get the house done before baby's arrival. I love the men in my family!

Anyway, by the time Fall rolled around, we had painted the awning and the shutters (on our fifth anniversary! never question the whims of a pregnant woman), and my husband had trimmed the two overgrown holly bushes, but that was all we had accomplished, and the house needed more. I wasn't sure that, short of ripping off the porch and building a new one, the front of the house would ever have the look I desired.

My in-laws came from our of state for a weekend, and my mother-in-law sweetly painted the cement base and rails of our porch. Then, because the woman is fierce at demo, she took out the non-working light post in our front yard. The thing was surrounded by railroad ties and about 13 metal stakes that were driven a good two feet into the ground. All of this in 90 degree heat. She was supposed to have help from me, at least with the painting, but my pregnant ankles were the size of cantaloupes after about an hour, so she had to go it alone from there, and I tried to make it up to everybody by bringing them cold drinks and telling them what a good job they were doing.

Besides all of this, we ripped out several flower beds (because I have a black thumb and almost no interest in improving that), tore out a flag pole, and replaced our front door. Oh, and power-washed the front of the house. It's amazing how much better something looks when it's clean. Even an ugly something.

And amazingly enough, when we stepped back to survey our work, it actually looked pretty good! Even the despised awning had somehow transformed into something I actually found, sort of charming!

The finishing touch was to plant flowers in the flower beds that remained. I am all about light and dark contrast on the exterior of a house. On the inside, I love light and airy, but for some reason, outside, I really like dark siding and white trim. Our home has light yellow vinyl siding and while it's not in perfect condition, it's good enough for now, so I tried to bring in some dark contrast with the things we were changing: a deep red (actually found it with the browns at the paint store) for the shutters and door, olive green for the awning over the porch, and barn red mums in the flower beds.

Oh, and have I mentioned my new front door?

I LUUURRVE this front door! (Sorry, only had a Christmas picture available.) It is the front door of my dreams (what- you don't dream of a specific front door?), and might actually beat out my coffee table Louis, as one of my all-time favorite deals and finds. Maybe I need to do a whole post on my front door, but for now, here she is in all her glory, gracing the front of my house, and making it look a hundred times better than it did before.

Other little things we did to spruce up the front of our house: paint the old mailbox, "borrow" two plastic Adirondack chairs from my parents, cover two old travel pillows with some outdoor fabric that I sewed into pillow covers, five dollar doormat from IKEA, and a lot of ripping out of old plants and flower beds that had rotting beams, and which we knew we wouldn't want to take care of. All in all, I think we did more ripping out than we did fixing up, but that was what this house needed.

Here's the before one more time.

And the after.

It looks so much better! We actually had someone get lost trying to find our house because they didn't recognize it after all the work we did. This project was also pretty inexpensive. Here's the breakdown:

- 3 cans of exterior paint (beige, olive green, and barn red) $120

- New (to us) door from craigslist $75

- Flowers $40

- Fabric for pillows $10

Total = $245!

We would still like to switch out the yucky old light fixture by the door, but are currently paralyzed by indecision and so have not attempted it just yet. We would also like to plant a tree where the flag pole used to be, but we ran out of time and money last year (seriously, you have no idea how expensive trees can be until you go shopping for one!) so hopefully that will happen sometime before winter hits again. I am campaigning for a brick walkway to replace the one made of black top, and I think I will eventually get my way, but Mr. Vintage Violet is dreading that project, so I don't think it will happen anytime soon. But seriously, how cute would that be? I also think we should put some bricks on the top of the steps up to the porch. Just to tie all those red accents together. I'm also on the hunt for a little table that I can put between the chairs on the porch. Just haven't found the right one yet, but I will!

What do you think of our curb appeal now? What has been your experience with adding curb appeal to your home?

I'm linking this post to my very favorite DIY blog, The Lettered Cottage. You know how usually (at least for me), you look at a beautiful home, and you love it, but if it was yours, you'd change this or tweak that? It's definitely the opposite for me when I see Kevin and Layla's beautiful home. I love every. single. thing. I want them to live next door to me so that they can give me their guidance. Or they could just come and take over my house and do whatever they wanted, because I know it would be great. So, if somehow you have not already spent many hours of your life on their blog, check it out!

The Lettered Cottage

I'm also linking up to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest!

The Shabby Nest

I'm linking up to Tatertots and Jello.

Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Antique Louis Vuitton Trunk for $5

This is Louis. He's French.

As in Mr. Louis Vuitton.

Yes, you read that right.

He's also very old. About 125 years, as near as I can tell from my research. And guess what else?

He cost me five dollars! That's right. FIVE DOLLARS!

Can I get a Hallelujah?

Of course, when grandparents come for a visit, he still doesn't out-shine little Miss Vintage Violet. She's always the star of the show around here.

But anyway, here's the story.

Back before little Miss Vintage Violet came along, hubby and I used to go yard-saling on Saturday mornings. Hubby wasn't raised in a yard-saling home, like I was, and so he has never fully understood it's mysteries. But he's cheap, so he's grateful for my penny-pinching ways.

One morning, we were in a pretty nice neighborhood, yard-saling away. We went into one house's garage, and to be truthful, I walked right past poor Louis. I think I was looking at some vintage tea-cups. Something I find hard to pass by. My husband, starting to learn the ropes of yard-saling, came over to me and whispered in my ear "Is Louis Vuitton a good name brand?"

I think my squinty little eyes opened to the size of silver dollars. I whispered back, "yes. Where did you see it?"

"On the lock of that old trunk."

This was when I started hyper-ventilating and praising Jesus. But I quickly got it together as the home-owner was nearby, and I wanted to feel her out. To see what she knew.

Me, to home-owner. "How much do you want for that old trunk?"

"Ten dollars."

"Hmmm... It's pretty old." Old said as if it were a bad word. "Can you tell me anything about it? Do you know how old it is?"

"Well," she said. "We got it from an older man who used to keep his tools in it. So, that's why it's so dirty and rough looking. I don't really know anything else about it."

Me, never able to resist the chance to haggle and thinking about the teensy apartment we called home, "would you take five dollars?"

Kind Home-owner: "Sure!"

So, we took him home, wrapped him in enormous trash-bags, and put him in the scary basement of the old building we lived in.

Poor Louis probably thought he'd been forgotten. But really, he'd just been bought by people who had absolutely no room for his large stocky self!

Fast forward a year and a half later. Hubby and I bought our first home and, in a frantic burst of renovating energy due to the anticipation of Miss Vintage Violet's arrival, finished remodeling our living room. Louis was retrieved from our basement, and now sits as the center piece of our living room. I probably tell everyone who remotely acknowledges his existence about what a great find he was. And I'm grateful to my hubby for his good eye and for letting me watch reality T.V., which is probably where he heard people gushing about Louis Vuitton in the first place, because all of my vinyl handbags come from Target.

I've done some research on Louis, and my best guess is that he's around 125 years old. I'm not sure if he's worth very much, because his insides have been completely stripped to the bare wood frame, and his signature LV fabric exterior has been peeled off. Old LV trunks in mint condition can bring tens of thousands of dollars, so I'm just hoping that maybe he's worth a few hundred? Who knows! Unless he can pay off my mortgage, I'm never selling him. We were destined to be together. I think the red paint on his outside is actually original to him, but I'm planning to take pictures of him and send them off to the Louis Vuitton company to see what they know. It's a service they offer for free, and I think that's pretty cool. If his red paint isn't original, I may be tempted to paint his wood parts white. Wouldn't that look so bright and cheerful and make a great contrast with his leather and brass trim?

For now, he makes an awesome coffee-table.

He's just the right size for propping up feet.

Put an adorable baby on him, and he makes a great photo prop.

And sometimes not.

Yes that's a basket of crap sitting on top of Louis. He has had many prettier things resting upon him, but since Mr. Vintage Violet thinks every level surface is an invitation for him to clutter, we have compromised. That's what marriage is all about, right? And somehow a basket of crap bothers me a lot less than a pile of crap. I've even stopped putting it away when company comes. I just try to tidy up the crap inside the basket a little, and call that good enough.

One of the things I love about Louis is I think his leather-trimmed edges are gonna make for great baby-proofing.

Cause this girl can't wait to start moving.

I'm linking to:

The Shabby Nest