Let’s go back into the Living Room

I know that I haven’t posted photos of even most of the house yet. So far, all I’ve shared with you is the living roomdining roombathroom and porch. Really?? We still have 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, sunroom, front yard and back yard to go through. Not to mention I havent posted a single project in a long time. Oops! Well this post is not one of those posts in which I continue the house tour. Oh no. I’m going to take you back into the living room and share some of the updates that I’ve made to it. You’ll remember that when I last shared my living room, I had a few items that I wanted to conquer. I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to knock THREE things off the list!

  • Add computer desk and chair to corner <- just need to pick this up from mom
  • Add love seat and/or armchair to the room 
  • Basket for the mail <- not sure I will want to get this anymore as it isnt completely necessary
  • More pops of color in the decor 
  • Purchase additional West Elm paper flowers for the vase on the spool 
  • Large cream shag rug for the floor <- not sure I want shag anymore. thinking maybe Sisal instead
  • New lampshade for the green lamp <- such an easy fix that I keep forgetting about

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and reflect on how we last viewed the living room (see more photos of the “before” here):


And here it is now:


Here are the list of updates:

  • You can see that I’ve added TWO new chairs to the living room. At first I had NO idea what to do with such a small space that needed additional seating. Then I found these two chairs at the Indie Vintage Arts & Marketplace for only $100 total – which trust me is a steal. I found similar chairs on craigslist that needed some major TLC for $150. And in search for traditional arm chairs I found they generally cost in the $300-600 range each! So you can imagine my surprise at finding these two beautiful chairs for such a low cost.
  • You’ll also notice that the vase on the spool is a little fuller.
  • I purchased a yellow pillow for the couch to compliment the Target “art” on the wall as well as the underlying tones of yellow in the room’s decor.
  • And bonus! I purchased a vintage blue fan (next to the wall art) to bring some more pop of blue in to the space.

My only question is … does the pink and blue quilt not work with this room anymore? In these photos I’m starting to think it sticks out like a sore thumb!

I also purchased this basket at the Indie Vintage Arts & Marketplace for $30 – another steal!

I just had to share this cute “H” vintage wood letterpress printer’s block that I purchased from etsy seller, Mitipo. You’re not officially married until you have the first letter of your last name displayed prominently in your home. 😉

Tea Parties

As I mentioned in my last post, I try to focus a lot of my activities to take place on the outdoor porch. So naturally when my mom asked me to host the family over for an end of summer tea party, I chose the porch as the location. As you can see by the photos below, this tea party was hosted pre-chair swing and dying mums.

To prepare for the tea party, I pulled my two new living room chairs out to the porch for additional seating, rolled my coffee table out for a small table, and hung a curtain for additional privacy and whimsy.

I set the table with a pitcher filled with colorful daisies next to the teapot for the centerpiece. I paired fun cocktail glasses with teacups. Since I was hosting 2 adults and 2 children, I made juice spritzer (juice + sparkling water) for the cocktail glasses because the day was a little hot for tea and the girls don’t particularly enjoy tea. I made the right choice because between the 5 of us we drank the whole pitcher!!

I also prepared pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and oreo truffles to enjoy with our tea. The tea party was such a hit between us that we’ve decided to have one in the fall as well!

My Favorite Spot “in” the House

Most people don’t like to play favorites and instead opt for a more neutral approach to life. Me? I’m FULL of favorites. I have favorite friends, favorite foods, favorite movies … and the list goes on. Name a topic and I probably have a favorite. In fact, I’m that person who goes to a restaurant and orders the same dish every time … because it’s my favorite!

Well in true fashion, I have a favorite spot “in” my house – the front porch. We sit out here as often as the heat will allow us! Whenever family or friends come over we inevitably find ourselves on the porch. For awhile though I had only two small chairs out on the porch so we usually had to drag bright Kentucky blue lawn chairs to the porch which killed the aesthetic look.

Recently, I was able to secure a chair swing for $20 from Craigslist. I’d been on the search for awhile, but only found them for $100 … a bit out of my price range given that I don’t have any idea if our next house will have a covered porch to sport a porch swing. I LOVE LOVE having this porch swing. It makes our relaxing porch even more relaxing! The swing also allows for more conversation now that our two small chairs can be centered around it. You can watch the short clip below of how I pretty much spent my weekend welcoming Fall.

We’ve also been updating the exterior of the home with perennials in the flower bed, updated mulch (black instead of red), and flowers for the porch. As you can see, the mums on the porch haven’t faired so well with the excessive heat, so I need to replace those in the next couple of weeks … but other than that the flowers have been doing pretty well (thanks to my daily watering of them)!

And this, my friends, is my favorite spot “in” the house. 🙂

Things still left to do on the porch:
1. Purchase an outdoor rug
2. Porch swing cover
3. Re-stain the porch swing
4. Replace 2 chairs with mom’s wicker chairs
5. Replace side table with a wire cable spool.

DIY | Nursery Wall Art

My friend, Mary, had a baby recently and about 6 months back she asked me to help her come up with ideas to decorate her nursery! I asked her to search around on etsy and favorite items that appealed to her so that I could get a better sense for her style. A couple weeks later I went over to her house to look at her favorite etsy items and was struck by a selection of photos that had appealed to her from Caroline Mint’s store.

I thought these photos were really sweet and would look just right in Mary’s dream nursery. The only issue was that she needed a bold large piece of art for her wall … and the price for one of these photos that would be large enough for what she needed was out of Mary’s budget. However, at the time Caroline Mint had a deal where you could select several 4×4 photos for $25 – so I had the idea of purchasing the photos and figuring out a way to display them so they made a more impactful statement.

Mary’s husband cut these 5×5 wood blocks, and we painted them gray and sanded down the edges. We then superglued burlap strips to the wood for a little embellishment since Mary’s style is country vintage. Glued the photos to the wood blocks. And as the final touch added a few clothes pins to the top row. We were both pleased with the results! It adds that little touch of girliness to the nursery in a bold way.

Save the Pink Bathroom!

This house has several quirks about it that makes us turn our head … but perhaps the quirkiest of its quirks is its … pink bathroom! This bathroom features a pink sink and pink tub. But our house is not alone … there are millions of pink bathrooms in the world! Back in the 1940’s the boom of pink bathrooms started and continued into the 60’s. While popular in the mid-century, alas they are now frowned upon with despair. When I first saw the pink bathroom during my tour of the home, I thought it was hideous! The previous renters tried to modernize something that wasn’t meant to fit into this day and age.

But as I surveyed this hideous bathroom and tried to figure out how to just – go with it – I realized I already had the perfect bathroom set to really make this bathroom shine! And now … I love it! The pink bathroom is now a talking piece (in a good way). In fact, I like it so much that even if I owned the home I wouldn’t remodel the bathroom.

In fact, I’ve pledged to “save the pink bathrooms”. There is a huge community of passionate decorators who believe in preserving the mid-century pink bathrooms. Who knew?

Here is a photo of how the previous renters went against the pink bathroom’s style. Eck!

Recipe | Scones

We’ve all had scones before, right? That occasional purchase at Starbucks or pastry shop where you think – a scone sounds good, I guess. But store-bought scones taste nothing like home-made scones – they are a completely different food group altogether. Don’t believe me? Make a batch – I dare you.

What I love about scones is that they are considered a delicacy which impresses others when you make them for baby/wedding showers (I mean who makes scones??) but are easy enough to whip up a quick batch prior to a guest coming over. They take 20 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to bake but their appearance looks like you might have slaved all day preparing them!

Home-made scones are cake-like in consistency, but taste more like a sweet biscuit. I appreciate how creative scones allow you to get in adding ingredients. I know it seems obvious or cliche to say this, but scones really are paired perfectly with hot tea.

Scones This recipe is from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, 2011 ed.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 to 6 tbsp whipping cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In large bowl, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in egg, vanilla and just enough of the 4 to 6 tbsp whipping cream so dough leaves side of bowl.

Place dough on lightly floured surface’ gently roll in flour to coat. Knead lightly 10 times, On ungreased cookie sheet, roll or pat dough into 8-inch round. Cut into 8 wedges with sharp knife that has been dipped in flour, but do not separate wedges. Brush with additional whipping cream; sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet; carefully separate wedges. It tastes best warm, but I think it tastes great even a few days later.

Chocolate Chip Scones – Stir in 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips with the egg, vanilla and whipping cream.
Raspberry-White Chocolate Scones – Substitute almond extract for the vanilla, increasing whipping cream to 1/2 cup. Stir in 3/4 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries and 2/3 cup white vanilla baking chips with the egg, almond extract and whipping cream. Omit kneading step; pat dough into 8-inch circle on ungreased cookie sheet. Continue as directed – except baked 18 to 23 minutes. Raspberries will color the dough a little bit.
My personal tips to creating the perfect scone
  • Use a shiny cookie sheet for best results.
  • I pour in 4 tbsp of the whipping cream at first, and then add 1-2 more to anything left in the bowl that is not sticking.
  • The crowd favorite every single time is the raspberry-white chocolate scone. However, use the following tips to make sure you get it right.
    • I personally do not recommend adding 1/2 cup of whipping cream to the raspberry-white chocolate version. Add the usual 4-6 tbsp… especially if you are using frozen raspberries. The raspberries will begin to melt and your left with even more liquid in your dough. Extra liquid means even longer baking time with no guarantees that you will be left with a breaded consistency. Also, you should be aware that frozen raspberries will leave your scones looking a blue-purple. Like … freaky blue-purple.
    • For the raspberry-white chocolate scones, if you want a more polished look, press unfrozen raspberries into the top of the scones after you’ve shaped the dough into an 8-inch circle. If you decide to go this route, bake your scones at the normal 14-16 mins.

Our Dining Room

It’s been a crazy couple of months in the Hamerstadt household with the recent move to the Irvington house, a major market launch at work, 10 day vacation with the family, and what feels like so much more! Blogging has taken a bit of a backseat … and Pinterest projects? Forget it!

I did snap a few photos this week of the current state of the dining room to give you a snapshot of what’s going on in there! But before we jump into those, here is a look back at what this dining room look liked from the previous renters.


This dining set (and the size of the room) is a massive upgrade from what we had in our last apartment (this older blog post shows a few shots of our previous dining room). It may not look like a large dining table compared to what many homes feature today, but comparatively, it’s huge to us! In fact, our first dinner at the table together Wes and I sat on opposite ends at the heads of the table … and quickly felt there was too much distance! So we now sit at the corner of the table together. 🙂 You can see a sneak peek into the kitchen and the hallway from the dining room in the below photo.

This table has been sitting in my mom’s basement for over … 6 or 7 years now … and when we were moving into this place, I knew it was time to brush off the cobwebs and let this baby shine again! The top is a beautiful solid wood that just needs some refinishing. The green on the chairs and table’s legs I could do without, but it works for now. When I have enough time again, I’ll probably paint them a brighter color.

Wes purchased this chandelier for me a few years ago when we were dating, and it has finally found it’s home in this dining room. It definitely makes a lot more sense in here than it did in our tiny apartment.

I consider the dining room the “brass room” while the living room I consider the “silver room”. I feature all of my brass items here which gives it what I think is a modern colonial look. I purchased the below candlesticks from a recent “Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace” from none other than one of my co-workers who had a booth at the show!

Speaking of colonial, when we were moving all of our furniture into this house, Wes had to stop at his dad’s place to pick a couple items. He then texted me a photo of the gorgeous below dresser with the message “my dad says this is mine, are you ok with that?” My immediate response was “ummm yes!!” I was a little sad to move my upcycled dresser out of it’s prominent spot in the dining room, but I couldn’t pass up this gorgeous antique that has been in the Hamerstadt family for over 100 years!

Oh why hello there more brass! My vintage file drawers look much better in this room on this dresser than they did in my previous kitchen. Ahh everything is coming together. perfectly.

Design | Our Living Room

It’s been a little over a week since Wes and I have moved into our new (rented) home. It’s been a busy week what with the 4th of July and traveling to see friends at a lake house for the weekend. But it’s finally starting to feel a little like home here. And in my nieces words, “This home is beautiful! Can you stay here forever? Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaase!!!!!”

We shared this image on instagram last week in our excitement, and I’m pretty sure it led people to believe that we bought a home (oops!). But alas we are still renters. This is just not the right time in our lives to purchase a home as right now our focus is on my mom. The chalkboard message you see in the below photo was left by our new neighbor who is a school teacher (hence the graph equation) and is a handy man (hence his access to the house). We have the best neighbors. On our first day here, our next door neighbors brought over a housewarming gift and neighbors down the way came over to greet us to the neighborhood.

So… instead of one giant post sharing all the photos of every room in the entire house, I thought I’d do a post of each room so as not to overwhelm you … or myself. So let’s start with the living room! It’s by far my favorite room in the house, and in the best shape so far from unpacking.
We loooove all the bookshelves in this house. Built in bookshelves decorate a whole wall and frame the fireplace in the living room. We also have multiple built in bookshelves in our upstairs master suite. I thought we owned a lot of books and movies until I tried to fill up all the bookshelves. I used up all of our books on the living room alone … and still didn’t fill all the shelves! I love how my huge coffee table spool actually flows really well in the room. I originally thought this move would be the ideal time to get rid of it and upgrade to something more sophisticated … but I just couldn’t. It looked too perfect in this room … and to be honest I seriously love the thing. Since it’s just a janky wooden spool, we don’t have to use coasters for drinks and it’s ok if it gets dinged up. Perfect coffee table, right?
Above is another shot of the room that includes a bit more of the fireplace. It’s a smaller living room … or as my nieces would describe it, “Ohhh I love it, it’s so cozy!!”… but it works for us. Wes and I can work out together at the same time and that’s really all the room we need. The leather couch is a new one for us. We purchased it from the previous renters for really cheap. It’s crazy comfortable.

The above shots are what is currently on the shelves other than books/movies of course. I took whatever decor I had leftover and arranged them accordingly. For the first time in my life, I dont have left over decor to store. In fact, I need more! Yikes!

Here’s a shot of the fireplace alone. (Excuse my poor iphone 4 camera – it takes terrible photos.) I decided to try my hand at colorblocking the fireplace bookshelves. I really like the affect. It’s a little hard to tell in these photos (again crappy camera) but all of the blinds in this house are white plantation blinds. They are gorgeous! So the plan for curtains is that there are no plans. We are going to keep the main floor of the house curtain free!

Here’s a view from the other corner of the room. You can see a quick preview into the dining room. Those pillows on the leather couch will be the death of me and my need for orderliness. Every time we leave the room I have to prop those pillows back up just right. SMH So what’s missing from this living room? More seating!! Having one couch allows for more room to move around but is difficult when having family over to be in one room. You should see us all squashed like sardines on the couch to watch a movie – me, wes, mom, chandler, taylor. It’s a sight!

And here is where you see that we have a bit more work to do. To the left of the photo you will see our “mail center”. Our mail gets dropped off into that red mail slot where it falls onto the bookshelf. How’s that for door service? In the corner where you see the computer monitor, we are considering putting a desk there. We definitely have room for an office (4 bedroom house for just us two!) but we like the idea of having one fully functional space. We’ll see…

And that is the living room as it is today! The Living Room was my first priority in unpacking and I’m fairly pleased with the results.

Here are the things I’d still like to do in the living room:
Add computer desk and chair to corner
Add love seat and/or armchair to the room
Basket for the mail
More pops of color in the decor
Purchase additional West Elm paper flowers for the vase on the stool
Large cream shag rug for the floor
New lampshade for the green lamp

Sorry I’m not Sorry.

Saturday is the big day! We are packing our bags (and dishes, and furniture, and decor, and books, and movies and, and, and) and heading out to the new place! We both can’t wait! First because we are excited to be in the new place, two so that I can be a mere 5 mins away from Mom instead of 25 mins, and three so that we can leave our currently disorganized packed up apartment!

Sorry I’m not sorry, but I will not miss… 

Cigarette smoke infiltrating our bedroom from the people downstairs.
The scent of weed drifting through our porch door from our neighbors.
Late night radios blasting from the cars outside.
Random notes from the apartment complex telling us our porch is in unacceptable condition … and then not taking the time to reply back to us to tell us why it is unacceptable.
Kids screaming near my bedroom window during a Sunday afternoon nap.
Creepy men standing in front of my front door talking on the phone.
Using the guest bathroom shower as a storage unit.
Geese squawking and pooping everywhere … and flying up to our 2nd floor porch!
Nowhere … nowhere at all to work on projects!
Driving/walking to our mailbox. We’d wait at least 3 weeks to pick it up… oops!
Renting a washer and dryer – waste of money!

Ok, fine – there were a few positives to our apartment.

The view from our porch!
The sound of the waterfall in the spring and fall outside our porch door.
The window seat in our master bedroom. Oh wait, we’ll have TWO window seats in the master bedroom at the new place… 😉
The double sided fireplace – I’ll especially miss the wood burning aspect of it. The new place’s fireplace is electric.
The coziness of the small place – yes both a negative and positive.
The pool! Although I wasn’t able to take advantage of it often.
And other things we didnt even realize were available to us at the club house until we turned in our termination – tanning bed, pool table, lounge room, etc.

Lifestyle | Kitchen Tile Blah

I need some help and advice from all of you lovely folk. My new landlord for the new house we will be renting has told me that we could pick out the new tile for the kitchen. You see, there is a huge hole in the current kitchen tiling which is not a surprise given that it was last laid down in the 70’s! The problem with picking out new tiling is that 1) I’ve never done this before and have no idea what I’m doing and 2) if I owned the home I would paint those ugly cabinets white and get new fixtures thus allowing for more flexibility in selecting new tile. However, I dont own this home so I dont plan on painting those cabinets and need to find something that will compliment what is already there.

As a reminder, here is the current (and only picture) that I have of the house’s kitchen:

The current renters suggested choosing gray tiling to go with the gray in all the other rooms that they had had painted in the house – literally every room is gray. While the gray is much improved from the creamy white that was there before, it is a rather dark color and I dont necessarily want to further permeate the house with it.
Today, I had lunch with my extended family and they suggested I select a lighter cream/beige tile to match the counters and to offset the dark wood of the cabinets. I absolutely do not want white tile as they are a #$%@ to keep clean. But I’ve found a few options on Home Depot’s website that I think could work given the circumstances. Any favorites?? Any other suggestions?? It seems that almost all kitchen vinyl is fairly unattractive in general.