Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A [Slightly] More Welcoming Front Door

One thing that I immediately disliked when we first pulled up to our house was the front door. There was a storm door that had bars on it that seemed really dated and unwelcoming to me. The door itself looked like a slab of wood that had been painted. There was no door knocker and no detail. It is a big, solid door, so it's extremely secure, but I don't love it.

The front step isn't large enough for someone to stand on it while opening the storm door and there's a brick pillar built into the front step so the entry isn't symmetrical. It just isn't pleasing to me.

We have so much to do around here (a new HVAC and new venting is around the corner), so my dream of knocking the brick wall out and extending the steps so there's more of a landing isn't going to be realized in the near future. This past weekend, I decided to do something small to improve the situation.

First, the sad (and somewhat embarrassing) before:

It's hard to even look at it. See that brick wall on the left? Why did someone put that there? Why is the landing as deep as the door? You have to stand to the right of the door, open it, and then stand in front of the door. If you step backwards when you open the storm door, you'll fall down to the lower step. 

I was inspired by my friends at Southern Blooms to buy a hacksaw to take care of those bars. I was helping them install their designs at a wedding and they used thick metal rods to secure one part of the very elaborate setup.They used a simple hacksaw to cut the rods down the size. If a hacksaw can do that, it could take care of some silly bars, right?

Well, it took some doing and I had to call in Marc because my hands weren't strong enough to complete the job, but after a while, we had a simpler storm door. I also had Marc fix those lights...we left them up after the holidays because that solitary lantern doesn't give off much light.

It's very plain right now, but it's a work in progress. We've already discussed doing a double layer of garlands for the holidays so the door will be framed nicely. 

My dream would be to attack that wall next, but I think that will have to wait a while. For now, I'm going to order some new door hardware (I love that "S" door knocker!) and paint the door a pretty, red color. Benjamin Moore's Moroccan Red was my initial thought, but I haven't made a final decision. 

Front Door 

Baby steps. 
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Surprising Trip to Safavieh

If you look at One Kings Lane, Rue La La, Gilt, and other flash sale sites for home furnishings now and then, I'm sure you see Safavieh items for sale. I'm never really all that impressed by the listings, as they usually look like copies of Worlds Away or Bungalow 5 items.

When traveling in New Jersey recently, I saw a Safavieh store and decided to check it out on a whim. I was dismissing their pieces without even seeing them in person and I was curious!

When I was greeted by two John Matthew Moore prints in the vestibule, I was delighted, but still wasn't sure about the furniture. 

As I walked around the store, I was so, so impressed! There were pieces from Baker, Kindel, Vanguard, Century and many more! I snapped one photo after another...

This bed should look familiar...it's the Vanguard bed that's in our master bedroom!

They had it in a beautiful, blue linen and their price was pretty good (though not as good as the price I got from the Artful Lodger in Charlottesville).

They had some beautiful storage pieces for dining rooms, some marked down dramatically.

When I saw this, I thought "oh, a copy of a Baker chair." Nope...it was a Baker chair.

Did you see that yellow gold chair above? I went back for another look. It was also marked down.

They store was merchandized so beautifully. Every room had me thinking I wanted one or two pieces on display.

The fabric room confirmed that they are carrying some great brands.

A quick visit changed my opinion of the Safavieh name. They only have stores in the New York City area, unfortunately. I wish we had a few in Virginia!

110 New Jersey 4
Paramus, NJ 07652
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Buying American vs. Buying Imports (Antique Edition)

Yesterday, I talked about finding some furniture for our front hall and ultimately being conflicted between an American-made chest by Hickory Chair and some imported chests/sideboards by Modern History that were roughly half the price. All of them were beautiful and would fit nicely in the space.

I decided to take a look at 1stDibs to see if there were any pieces that were around the same price as the Hickory Chair piece and I found a lot of options (many had lower prices). Here are a few of my favorites:

 1. American-made, from around 1945, this piece is the most expensive of any I've considered, but isn't it gorgeous?

2. American-made, from the 1930s, this chest is a tad too deep, but I love the rounded edges and the hardware.

3. French, from around 1900, the price on this piece was between the Hickory Chair chest I originally like and the Modern History imports. I hadn't considered black before I found this, but I really like it!

4. French, from the 1880s, I just find myself smiling when I look at this one. The keyholes in the middle of each drawer are surrounded by pretty ribbon detail.

5. Argentina, made in the 1930s. The dealer on this piece has cut its price by $2,000, which was pretty exciting.

6. Austria, made in the 1920s, I love that this piece is shaped differently. It has an art deco feel to it, which I find interesting...but maybe that's not quite right for our space.

So, at this point, I've shopped old and I've shopped new and have looked at American made pieces and imports. I honestly don't know exactly what we'll wind up with. I'd love to buy American, but when there is SO much to do in this house, the imports that are half the price are pretty attractive.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank Goodness I Didn't Buy That!

Though I mentioned being frustrated by my lack of progress on the house yesterday, I have to acknowledge that I'm also glad I haven't gone full steam ahead. I'm not the kind of person who sees a space and knows instantly what to do with it. I need to spend some time in the space and see how it gets used. The ideas slowly come together for me. There are some truly horrific pictures in the archives of this blog that show that I don't always make the best color or purchase decisions on the fly.

As I lived with our coral/pink front hall this summer, I realized that I hated the paint color I picked. I'm going to repaint the room shortly and I'm going to use a softer, more subtle pink.

For months, I thought I'd be ordering a bone inlay chest to sit in the foyer, under my beloved John Matthew Moore print, Olivia. I thought this would looks so great with her:

I post this picture and wonder "what the heck was I thinking?" That is not the piece to compliment Olivia and it's not a piece that really "goes" with our style (though I LOVE bone inlay). Thank goodness I didn't make that purchase!

So I am now looking for a more traditional, wood chest for the space. While I was traveling for work, I ducked into a furniture store in Northern Virginia and saw this beautiful Hickory Chair chest:

I like that I could order this piece locally from Folly Home Furnishings  and that Hickory Chair is manufacturing everything in North Carolina.

I also paid a visit to Stedman House here in Charlottesville to see if they had any options. I'm embarassed to say it, but in almost ten years of living here, I never realized Stedman House was a retail store and an interior design firm. I thought their house downtown was just an office!

Nicole Fagerli, one of the designers on staff, immediately recommended a company called Modern History when I described the style of chest I hoped to find. She showed me some pieces in their book...and I honestly assumed they'd be way out of my price range when I saw the beautiful finishes on them.

On my way home from visiting the Richmond Symphony Designer Show House last weekend, I stopped at a few more stores. A woman at The Kellogg Collection (a store I recently fell back in love with) started pulling up some Modern History pieces on her computer when I told her about my search. She told me that the company was making everything in Vietnam these days. When I told her I was hoping to buy something made in America, she said that many (almost all, I think) casegoods were being made in Asia because the wood is coming from there and the EPA had regulations that prohibited some of the materials our manufacturers used to use.

I left Kellogg a bit sad. I didn't know how much the Modern History pieces would be, but I imagined them to be in the same range as the other brands carried in the store. At that price point, I didn't expect imports.

When I ran into Beth Ann Kallen from Folly the next day, she reassured me that Hickory Chair was making all of their goods in North Carolina. She's even been to the factory, so she saw their practices first hand!

I circled back to Nicole at Stedman House and she send me prices. The Modern History pieces were about half the price of the domestically made pieces.

I have to admit that I'm wavering a little bit on the American made thing right now...

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Buying Once vs. Buying Often (a Dining Room Update!)

Something my mother instilled in me was the idea of buying once instead of buying often. Meaning, if you buy a top quality item the first time, you might spend more upfront, but that might wind up being less than if you bought someone of lesser quality and had to replace it a few times.

When I got my first apartment in college, my mother bought me good quality flatware, plates, knives, pots, and pans that I still have an use today (almost 20 years later!). The only thing that didn't last was my KitchenAid mixer, which I replaced with a Cuisinart that I love.

We have so much to do in this house and there are times when I just want to get it all done. Buying stuff just to have the spaces filled might make me feel better about the house in the short term, but in the long run, I feel like that might set me up to constantly be replacing something.  So, when the incomplete nature of every room (seriously, every. single. room.) is driving me nuts, I remind myself: buy once.

Now, the dining room update...

Back in April, when I debated buying a Visual Comfort chandelier I loved or a lookalike that was a bit less expensive, I also considered just buying something "good enough" until more rooms were finished in the house. The "buy once" philosophy made me stop looking at alternatives and commit to the beautiful George II chandelier by Visual Comfort.

I've hung plenty of light fixtures before, but never one as heavy (or expensive) as the George II. On top of my nervousness about hanging the chandelier on my own, there were these notes in the instructions about a part that wasn't included that confused me.

They confused the man in the electrical aisle of Lowes, too. He even sent me to another employee, who is a professional electrician, and that guy didn't think we needed the part. They didn't even have the exact item described and so we picked out a few things that might work. Our handyman, who was going to hang the fixture for us, showed the instructions and parts to an electrician on a home build on which he was working and that guy said he wasn't sure about the instruction either!

So I emailed Visual Comfort and asked them for clarification. The reply:

The directions the staff member from VC sent didn't mention the part at all! I wish I had emailed them in the first place!

Within a day, the chandelier was up.

The dining room still needs drapes, two chairs for the end of the table, a rug, and art, but I'm not horrified by the thought of serving dinner in there with the George II hung and our new [to us] table.

Not so bad!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Bloggers Quit Blogging (and them come back)

Well, I did something kind of dumb. I pulled my blogging muscle in July. You see, a group of ex-blogging bees from Weddingbee (most of us stay in touch) decided to have a little blogging support group during the month of July. We aimed to blog more regularly and encourage each other throughout the month. It worked!

July was awesome. I got back in my blogging habit, writing something almost every day (or night). I thought I'd keep going, but I gave myself permission to take a little break and concentrate on some other things.

Before I knew it, over a month had passed. One day, this comment came in:

I realized I had left this blog long enough for someone to think it was defunct! Yikes! 

I'm going to ease back into things. I have tons of pictures to share (I kept telling myself  "I need to blog this!") and I'll start to work through them. I've made some decisions in the last few weeks about our place. I realized that I made a huge mistake with one decision and averted a mistake with another.

More soon!
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Monday, August 18, 2014

From the Hoop: Making it Official

I bought my sewing and embroidery machine one year ago. I imagined doing a lot of work for other people, but spending a lot of time monogramming my own items. That hasn't really happened. From the moment I posted my first test items (Marc's shorts!), I had requests for designs or monograms from friends. I loved doing those "jobs" and I put the word in quotes because they didn't seem like work.

After a few months, I started jumping in on "group buys" to get more interesting items to embroider. Group buys are organized by people with wholesale accounts when they can't meet a minimum required by a dealer. The tote bags I monogrammed in the spring that were so popular were part of a group buy.

As the year has gone by, more and more signs have been pointing to making Beloved Thread official. There were several hoops (hoops...embroidery...haha...get it?)through which I had to jump, but I registered with the federal, state, and local governments in recent weeks. I have a few more items to check off on my "to do" list, but as far as some government agencies are considered, I'm official. Yikes!

I changed from having a Facebook group to having a more official business page. I'd love to have your "like" on the Beloved Thread page! Of course, if you want to see all the posts on a page, you have to hit "get notifications" (as opposed to a group, where you always get the updates).

I still haven't gone to Etsy. I'm not sure I will after reading more about it. Between the fees and the painful process of posting items, I'm not sure it's for me at this point. After all, I love doing work for friends or friends of friends. For now, I have a store on an newer Etsy-like site called Storenvy. The reason I went to them was that they allowed the store to be integrated into the Facebook page. That should make it much, much easier for people to pay for items.

Thanks for your positive comments on my embroidery posts this year. It's a bit of a departure from my regular blog content, but it's been a fun part of my life this year!
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Shop Tour: The Kellogg Collection (and a new light fixture!)

I stopped into The Kellogg Collection in Richmond the other day on a whim. I was actually going from the Shades of Light Outlet (Decorator's Outlet) in Midlothian to Ruth & Ollie in Carytown, but when I recognized the shopping center on River Road and turned in.

The Kellogg Collection isn't really my style. At least, that's what I decided over ten years ago when I stopped into the McLean location. I think I may have also been in the Richmond location before as well. Back then, I decided the store was stuffy and too formal. Maybe I was going through a casual stage.

This time around, I was admiring one item after the next, happily snapping pictures as I walked through the store. I love how they use area rugs to define the different vignettes in the space.

Blue and white pottery has been back for about a year now. I regret selling all of mine when I got rid of the big armoire that used to hold my TV. That was one of the pitfalls of the condo. There wasn't a place to store items I wasn't presently loving. I wish I had just tucked all that pottery away. I'd be using it now!

The designers on staff were working with a customer, so the swatch books were out and about.

We're in the market for a few more rugs, but I'm not going to buy another rough, flatweave rug. I loved the mix that they had in their rug area.

One of the staff members let me know that they are having a sale right now. You can take 20% off any item of your choice! That made me revisit a light fixture I had admired when I first walked in the door.

They let customers try items out at home without buying them and that was offered to me, but I was certain the light was perfect for our front hall.  After some googling, I found out that it's made by Aiden Gray. Per the company website, And George right here in Charlottesville also carries their line.

I can't wait to get it hung in the front hall!

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