Raindrops on Roses (and other things)

Couldn’t help it this morning, I had to take a few snaps of the rain on our abundant supply of garden blooms.

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Stay tuned for some more garden updates in the very near future!


Flooring for the kitchen–a diy dilemma

Our DIY kitchen renovation is unquestionably the largest project we’ve undertaken since buying the house, but I can’t rightly call it finished. There remains one critical eye sore in the room as it stands—the flooring.

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It’s this very unpleasant tiling–beige with brown marbling–that is suppose to have the intended effect of camouflaging dirt. The unfortunate truth is it does the opposite. Even after a deep clean, the floor ALWAYS looks dirty. Mark my words, 2015 will be the year that we finally toss the dingy tiles in favor of something a little more fresh and fun.

But what?

As I recently wrote, for our renovation projects, it is important that we make era-appropriate style choices for upgrading our space. But that leaves me with a lot of questions for what to do about the floors. My first instinct: classic linoleum.

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But picking the right shade and texture of flooring to match our eclectic and busy kitchen, would be a challenge. Enter the wonders of photoshop to help point me in the right direction. Right away, two clear winners stood out.

The classic checkerboard:

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And dark grey:

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Linoleum definitely fits in with the ’50’s scheme, but the more I thought about durability and style, the more I started to wonder about other contenders. I knew I was a fan of the darker grey color for the floor, but wondered if something a little more sleek would make sense.

Dark grey tiles, perhaps?

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I am definitely a fan of the way the floor tiles sort of mirror the mosaic backplash, but one of the reasons I was drawn to linoleum in the first place  was because I wanted to avoid having grout, if at all possible. The kitchen arguably gets more traffic than any other room in the house. And the fewer cracks and crevices in which dirt can collect, the better. Which led me to my final proposition: concrete.

I’ve always loved concrete flooring, but had reservations about how that industrial look would fit in with a mid century vibe. While there is potential for it to clash, I’ve equal reason to believe the contrast could be a refreshing change.

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While it’s not an exact science, photoshop confirmed my suspicions. There could be some real potential in demolishing the existing tile and giving the concrete underneath some TLC.

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I’m a big fan of how the polished concrete reflects the light (which the small, one-window kitchen definitely needs) and how it would likely make for easy cleaning. What say you Internet? Am I grasping at straws or could there be something to this whole concrete idea? Does the industrial flooring complement or clash with the warm wooden cabinetry? I’m legitimately flummoxed.

 

 


The office gets a face lift

I have found there are some things in life that, try as I might, are more-or-less inevitable. It goes without saying that at some point throughout the year I will:

  1. Get a sunburn
  2. Eat too many girl scout cookies
  3. Buy a gallon of blue paint with which to makeover a room in House Doodle.

While there is currently an empty box of Samoas (formerly Caramel DeLites, formerly Samoas) sitting in my recycling bin, I am writing today about Inevitable Life Event Number Three: Blue Re-Do!

This time, the office would be the victim of The Doodle House Blues. It was, after all, the only room in the house that still boasted the same bland beige color chosen by the previous owners. Yes, a renovation was clearly in order.

 

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Our office gets a lot of use. A studious history teacher, Heath uses the space to prep (mentally and academically) for his lectures, and as a frequent work-from-home gal, I wanted a place where I would feel productive and comfortable. There were two inspiration rooms that I chose to emulate for our new work space.

From Elle Decore, John Robshaw’s New York City Home:

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And from Houzz, this sophisticated and cozy work space:

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Heath has always longed for a stately, near presidential, library in which to pour over his history texts, while I tend to prefer a more eclectic atmosphere. I liked that both of these spaces found a way to mix textures, color and patterns to create areas that feel both formal and welcoming. Common elements were the vintage oriental rugs, tufted seating, dark wall colors and minimalist desks. We could work with that.

In an attempt to create a home library, also on the wish list for the new space was a wall of books. Inspired by a bracketed bookshelf some of our pals recently installed in their new rental, we figured we could  try something similar in our home office.

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We are both pretty pleased with how things turned out.

doodle house office before

doodle house office makeover

 

Aside from the paint job and shelving, here’s what we did to update the space:

  • Replaced the pink day bed with a green chesterfield sofa, picked up for an extremely affordable price thanks to the always great Room Service Vintage
  • Exchanged the flimsy plastic blinds for bamboo Roman shades
  • Added an oriental rug (formerly from our living room)
  • Spray painted the file cabinets white
  •  Added hair pin legs to the desktop
  • Added an Eames-inspired desk chair
  • Exchanged Stella in the photo for Wyatt (Stella will have nothing to do with the new office, she is deathly afraid of the sheep skin throw…that’s a whole other deal.)

I’d still like to switch out the ’70s ceiling fan at some point, but all-in-all we’re both head over heels for the new space.

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Working from home has never been more enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Preservation vs. Rejuvenation: Questions about updating older homes

Over the weekend, I was *THRILLED* to find that Apartment Therapy featured our DIY kitchen renovation on their blog.

I have never hidden the fact that AT is a huge inspirational blog for me, so it was really humbling to see our kitchen featured on their site. One thing that surprised me, however, was many of the comments. Namely, many people were surprised (some pleasantly, some not so) to see I kept the knotty pine cabinets rather than paint over them.

I can’t say I blame those curious commentors. In fact, when we first purchased our new house, I even wrote a blog entitled “Naughty Pine” all about how much I hate how knotty pine cabinets look. They were, I reckoned, dated and dark and dirty. The fact that I decided to keep them surprised me as much as anyone else. So, why did I do it?

For one, we didn’t have it in our budget to rebuild the cabinets or change the general layout of the kitchen. That certainly plays a significant role.

But why not paint?

It’s generally acknowledged that kitchens and bathrooms are the spaces in homes that age most poorly. Today, it’s all about granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. But in the ’90s it was mostly country chic that dominated the Better Homes and Gardens catalogs. The ’80s, dark wood trim surrounding stark white cabinets seemed to be all the rage. And in the ’70s, avocado green appliances were the standard. What I’m getting at is this: every era has had it’s signature look that ultimately becomes dated and disliked. Trends and fashions are cyclical and even if you renovate to achieve the most modern look possible, history says it will one day be out of style, old fashioned and in need of a yet another “upgrade.”

A traditional ’90s kitchen from gardenweb.com

An '80s kitchen with lattice wallpaper

An ’80s kitchen courtesy Mirror80

So rather than try and completely modernize the kitchen, I decided to embrace the era in which the house was built–1957–but still give the kitchen some life and updated style. It’s why we bought a Big Chill fridge (my most prized possession) and opted to keep the classic, mid-century cabinets in their knotty pine glory while still bringing in a shiny and new countertop and back splash.  At the end of the day, a 2012 kitchen in a 1957 home didn’t seem like the best fit.

There are a handful of other blogs that reinforce this ideology. Retro Renovation, is one that very intentionally focuses on preserving the original integrity of older homes, and which has been a valuable resource for me. Check out some of their time capsule homes.

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Courtesy: Retro Renovation

Another local blogger (and amazing photographer) that understands the importance of balancing history with modernity is Heather Banks of  Brady Bunch Remodel fame.

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Courtesy: Brady Bunch Remodel

At the heart of it, what I’m trying to say is this: old homes have their charms and their flaws. And while it’s certainly tempting to demolish and reconstruct your home (if you have the means) to a more modern and magnificent space, there’s also something to be said for preservation. And I hope other caretakers of homes of other eras will find ways to enhance AND embrace the features that make those spaces a part of their city’s history.


REDEMPTION! A dresser “recovers” from a botched paint job.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the tragic saga of the dresser that turned into a chicken. Today, I’m happy to report that the dresser makeover that went horribly wrong has been corrected! Or, at least it’s slightly less repulsive?

To jog your memory, our story began with a completely adequate dresser that I destroyed when I forgot what the color “gold” looks like.

The original

Dresser before

The Inspiration

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The Resultunnamed

The result was more eeek than chic and whatever my next move was, I knew I wanted to retain a geometric pattern because, well, it’s simply the best.

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But I also knew I couldn’t be trusted with paint again. Nor was I especially eager to repaint what took several painstaking hours to achieve. My solution? Cover the drawers in a large-scale geometric fabric print. Much like these crafty Design Sponge artisans did.

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An afternoon trip to local upholstery shop Spruce got me just what I needed. After looking at a handful of fabric samples and even wallpaper swatches, I ended up walking out some clearance fabric for $20 that was just barely perfect amount to cover the front of the drawers. No paint or sander was needed. Armed with just a staple gun and a pair of scissors, in 30 minutes I was able to save the dresser from the DIY disaster hall of fame.

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I’m not sure this is going to be my permanent solution for glamifying the dresser, but at least the fabric do-over is a vast improvement from where we started, and it didn’t require an obscene amount of effort or money to achieve. Let’s upgrade this project from a D-I-Why did I do this? to a D-I-Why, it could have been worse.


D-I-(wh)Y did I do that? or How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Dresser

About a year ago I picked up a free chest of drawers that were in good shape, of a nice size and functional but not exactly the sweetest piece of eye candy. Naturally, I took it upon myself to correct this problem.

Dresser before

You see, for quite some time now, I’ve been operating under the assumption that I am, relatively speaking, crafty and capable. I’ve taken old upholstery off chairs and put new covers on. I’ve constructed floating office shelves and painted an only partially crooked stencil pattern on an accent wall among other things. Maybe I’m no Martha Stewart but I’m no rube either. This, it turns out, is a very dangerous perception under which to operate. Oh self-esteem…how terribly you have betrayed me.

Armed with just the right amount of misguided confidence, I set about to turn this humble clothing receptacle into a work of art so grand, and creative and magnetic that furniture designers the world over would gaze upon it and come to me, weeping, begging for me to share my gift with them. A reasonable expectation. My ingenious scheme, you ask? Simple chevron stripes painted across the drawers. Something a la this:

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Perhaps my idea wasn’t all that daring, but all the more reason to believe I could successfully pull this off.

Nope.

The plan revolved around retaining the essence of the existing cloudy gold color, but to bring it some bold contrast with rich, blue stripes. Somehow, that seemed like a wise decision. Gold gives it some spunk. Deep blue makes it a little more grown up and not quite so “glam girl.” It can be a pretty dope look.

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Of course, that’s only in the instance that god forsaken cans of gold spray paint don’t suck the soul out of your body in the process of achieving it. I don’t want to entirely blame my tools as there was most definitely some user error in the process of destroying the integrity of this once fine dresser, but the project first started to go off the rails with the damned spray paint. After I had puttied and sanded the dresser with all the meticulousness I could muster,  I applied the spray paint, only to find that it bubbled and conformed to itself in little bumpy clusters that gave the drawers the texture of lizard skin. I rightfully abandoned the spray paint idea and instead selected a traditional interior paint in the shade of “turmeric” to replace it. You may be surprised to hear this, but “turmeric” and “gold” are not the same color. It actually probably doesn’t surprise anyone but somehow it took me until I was staring at the finished product to truly come to grips with the fact that instead of a sleek blue dresser with some punchy golden flair, I had instead applied the same royal blue and orangey-yellow color scheme used by the University of Delaware’s mascot.

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Oh the humanity!

To really add insult to injury, the knobs I had selected for the new (but not improved) dresser were duds. And expensive duds at that: $14-a-piece from Anthropologie but the knobs pulled right off the screws when you opened the drawers.This made the finished dresser both comically ugly and non functional. I’d give myself a hand for so artfully destroying a needed piece of furniture, but I’d probably screw that up too.

More on the fugly dresser saga to come….


Berlin: Teil zwei

If there is one thing Berlin has plenty of, it’s patios. I like this. I don’t think there is any scenario in which I take umbrage with there being unlimited options for outside dining and wine drinking. It’s how I would spend all day every day if I had my druthers. And Graffiti. They like their chaotic street art in Berlin. Patios and graffiti. Oh, and their bicycles. Patios, graffiti and bicycles. And depressing, grandiose memorials.  I should start over….

Truthfully, I was taken aback by Berlin’s laissez-faire attitude. Particularly as it is located in a country who’s people are stereotyped as being strict and rigid and preoccupied with maintaining order. As evidence of its go-with-the-flow personality,  I submit to you their aforementioned lax policy on building defacement, as well as the fact that in Berlin, it’s perfectly acceptable to stroll down the street with a beer in hand–in glass bottles no less! Definitely a no-no stateside. Further, during an afternoon outing to one of the city’s community pools, we witnessed no fewer than 3924761432342 children sliding down a water slide at once. And running on wet cement–an activity the American lifeguard community views as being on par with smoking a cigarette indoors—is not only not reprimanded, it seemed downright encouraged. Then, there’s the part where before Heath jumped off the diving board, he politely asked the pool’s only lifeguard whether doing flips was permissible. He was met with a befuddled response: Of course this is fine. Why would it not be?  Perhaps I’m applying the community pool’s gentle policies a little to liberally to the entire city, but still, Berlin as a whole seems content to let its people be.  It’s likely the result of a long and tragic history marked by a series of oppressive and totalitarian regimes. But Berlin seems to have learned a thing or two from its past, and today enjoys a vibrant and resilient atmosphere.

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Berlin Wall East Gallery

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But I say all this before arriving at the crux of my argument. Berlin–like every place–is made more special by the people you experience it with. Our German vacation was made what it was by the company we kept. As I’m inclined to list off all the things that make Berlin unique, I’m also inclined to include Nick and Melissa on that list—two people who were pivotal to the good times had.

Berlin Breakfast

Berlin Breakfast

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Street beers are definitely allowed in Germany. What a magnificent culture.

Street beers are definitely allowed in Germany. What a magnificent culture.

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