At my last house, I fell in love with the schoolhouse look when we added a giant chalkboard to our home. My new house has a few schoolhouse accessories too: a set of lockers, a plan for another chalkboard, and coming soon – some schoolhouse style wall charts. I fell in love with giant botanical art posters a few years ago and never had a perfect spot for it. When I found a spot in the new house, suddenly I couldn’t handle purchasing them at the price points I was finding. Luckily I found a lot of options for purchase when I looked a little outside the box.
As a bit of history, these botanical prints are often better known as Jung-Koch-Quentell charts. ArtPlantae has a well-researched background piece if you are curious about how these charts were used in German schools. You can also purchase The Art of Instruction which includes a look at all of the charts used.
Dog Rose Botanical Poster – The Evolution Store | $219
Hageman Cherry Botanical Chart – Pistils Nursery | $180
Garden Pea Wall Chart – Wallography | £89 (or about $115)
Jung-Koch-Quentell Chestnut Botanical Poster – Art Reflection Studio (Etsy) | $93
TIP: For this piece, using multiple search terms helped but even better was checking international sources since these pieces were originally made in Germany. I was even able to locate these prints direct from Germany but because of the language barrier I ultimately did not choose to pursue them. I did find British and Canadian sources for much less, even when considering shipping costs.
I’ve been trying to add some cosmetic updates to my bathrooms lately. One of the key changes each bathroom needed was a glamorous mirror that could fit the space.
Bathroom A needed some bling and shine. I immediately liked the Fenestra Mirror from Z Gallerie but at $349 I wasn’t going to be buying it. Luckily the Braden Petite Wall Mirror looked nearly identical (only ½” max dimension difference) but was at least $100 cheaper. Right now you can find versions at Wayfair or Shades of Light.
Fenetra Mirror – Z Gallerie | $349
TIP: Always check sites like Joss & Main, Bellacor, and Wayfair regularly. Items come and go as inventory allows. I managed to have some patience, saw it appear on Joss & Main and paired it with some free shipping and a $5 credit and paid $150 for the mirror. It went out of stock soon after so always be on the hunt!
On Wednesday, September 30, the 41st Ikea store will open in St. Louis. Residents can begin lining up on Monday morning but today I managed to get a first look at the brand new store as part of their Ikea Friends and Family Preview Day.
The place was packed for a preview day. As soon as we got inside workers were cheering, handing out bags, maps, anything you could possibly need.
For me on this shopping day, I wanted to mostly stake out the store layout and some new pieces. I work only a block away from the new Ikea so once the fuss dies down I can pop over on my lunch break and grab what I need.
One of my favorite things about Ikea are the room displays. I love seeing wonderful ideas on how to use the products and how to think of new ways to enhance my home.
I also really enjoy all the household items you can purchase from Ikea. I needed some cheap but sturdy dishes for my 3rd floor kitchen and found them for under $1 each. I found lots of office organizing gear, and even plants, both real and fake.
I also really appreciated that Ikea had some special nods to St. Louis in its new store here. They had an exclusive STL piece of art.
The Ikea food court also overlooked some great parts of the growing Midtown/CORTEX area including my workplace, the SLU campus, and the Cathedral Basilica. Speaking of the food court…
I brought along some guests with me for the big event and we all enjoyed some Swedish meatballs before hitting the lower level. I even ran into someone from my office building there and I have a feeling with the $1 breakfasts it won’t be the last time.
When we had enough (aka we hit the time limit for our pass), we went to the checkout. This massive place has a lot of lanes and they are ready for you.
Considering how stressful it must have been, the cashiers were calm, collected, and friendly. Having worked in retail I was seriously impressed and grateful.
After the checkout area you have a chance to buy some snacks or freezer items to take home with you. Those cinnamon rolls are so good despite not being as famous as the meatballs. If you have a long drive back to the suburbs, be sure to grab a snack for the road.
I’m thrilled St. Louis got an Ikea right in the heart of a growing area of the city. They aren’t necessarily a local store but they are investing in the community and I’m already investing in them with my purchases from today.
See more photos from my preview day over on my Facebook page!
The last time I showed off the third floor it was from the week I moved in. Immediately my husband and I had a goal for this floor. We wanted a place to relax after work, to put the job behind us, and to have our own urban oasis.
It was December when we moved in and before the end of the month we ordered a couch and coffee table. We wanted a sectional and while we checked places like Crate & Barrel and West Elm, we didn’t find the style or price point we wanted. We were about to give up after a C&B trip when on our way to dinner we passed IO Metro. I didn’t think I could afford what was in the window display but upon walking in I found a lot of things I liked. Even better, when the assistant heard my husband and I discussing some styles she helpfully let us know we could see even bigger markdowns at an end of the year sale. By the next week we knew what we wanted and placed an order.
Here’s what it’s looking like now:
The space is finally starting to work for us. We have a TV up here so we can easily binge Netflix while having a cocktail or a beer. We did some small upgrades to our HVAC system so we kept cool this summer. We still need to do some insulation work on this floor of the house so we are holding off on repainting any of it until we know what the damage to the room might be.
And here’s some of those pretty little details:
This space also nicely doubles as a workout space. I can just move the coffee table and do my Wii Fit or some video workouts right in front of the TV. I want to make the closet space on this floor more functional so I can store some small weights or equipment as well as games or other entertainment for when we have guests over.
I’m thinking for fall I will swap out the blue pillows with some orange ones and maybe add some new cozy throws to the space since I know this past winter we camped out here quite regularly. I know I’ll also want a floor lamp since I’ve been known to cross-stitch or read up here. I’m still on the hunt for something that might have that industrial modern vibe but is easy to access without having to stand up from where my butt is firmly plopped. The hunt continues but if you’ve seen something let me know!
- Sectional: IO Metro Bree Sectional
- Coffee Table: IO Metro Cohle Coffee Table
- TV Stand: Pottery Barn Rhys Large TV stand (discontinued)
- Rug: Ballard Designs Tabitha Rug
- Floral Pillows: World Market Emma Throw Pillows
- Blue/Yellow Pillows: Target’s Room Essentials 2-pack Suede Pillows
- Oversized Gray Pillows: Target (appears to be unavailable online)
- Kitchen Cabinet pulls: Liberty 3-in arched pulls
My August was not a vacation but instead kept me busier than I wanted. Here’s the scoop on what I was up to.
- Do you know how hard it is to live by The Shaved Duck and know the lines are so long you can’t make it inside? It’s one of the best places in St. Louis. The smothered fries and brisket are my weakness. Miraculously one Friday night I was able to walk right in and be seated immediately. I had experienced the kind of day that only their fries and a beer could solve and I think someone knew it and cleared a spot for me.
- My grill worked overtime in August. I know things like burgers and hot dogs aren’t too exciting but this pork loin from Skinnytaste was fantastic! Even better, the leftovers made for some amazing Cuban sandwiches.
- Many people in St. Louis know Rooster for its brunch but lately it’s becoming my favorite place for dinner. It’s close enough I can walk if it’s early enough, they have parking if it’s later. Inside it’s intimate despite being huge but casual enough that I don’t need to fuss. It’s the perfect place to stop before or after a show at the Fox and a straight shot down Grand. You can go breakfast, crepes, steaks or try a nightly special. In August I had a pork belly and shrimp dish that blew me away.
- I finally made it to see Miss Jubilee and a Jungle Boogie at the St. Louis Zoo. During the summer the zoo stays open late. I brought a picnic dinner (tip: bring a chair and not a blanket) and then roamed the rest of the zoo. There were so many animals and so few people so I had an up-close personal show from the penguins, the new polar bear, and all the big cats.
- I had some doctor appointments in August so I took a half day and enjoyed some shopping with the money those visits should save me on insurance. I really enjoyed shopping at EverEve and stocked up on some fall fashions. I refuse to wear fall clothes before Labor Day or before the temperature drops so I still haven’t been able to show them off. They have lots of vests and cute layering pieces though.
- I finally made it to the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park. My parents stopped by my house and we all walked over to try some bites. The empanadas from Argentina and jerk chicken from Jamaica got high marks from me.
- I stalk the facebook pages of any antique/resale place I know about and when these lockers appeared on the page for The Green Shag Market, I knew I had to have them. Luckily my husband agreed. We have plans to make them even cooler and more functional so hopefully we can get to work on that soon.
- I’m saving up to do a big project involving insulation. Some of the rooms in my house aren’t insulated very well (or at all) so some ceilings need to come down and some insulation needs to go in. This means I will probably put off any planned master suite or 3rd floor improvements until the dirty work gets done.
- I picked up a drill and driver for the first time in forever this month. My basement is getting more functional by the day!
On the Web
- I didn’t realize how much Jon Stewart was part of my life for so many years until he left The Daily Show. I really appreciated this tribute to him and also its lament for the state of America.
- Ready for a sobfest? Reading about surviving the loss of a family member did me in. Even more so when I got to the end.
- How gorgeous is this home 1 year after a move? I can tell you I won’t be looking this good.
- My sweet Nova dog turned 8 years old in August. I can’t handle her getting so old but I want to say how she is a brave dog who tries so hard and loves so fiercely. I’d be lost without her.
- My grandparents moved to Missouri! They grew up in Arkansas, settled in Missouri after getting married and for some years after, then moved to Arkansas together about 20 years ago. Now they have a new place together close to my parents.
- Speaking of my grandparents, I caught my first cold in years from them the very first week they lived here. Let’s hope that doesn’t become a trend! Because of that August was not as successful as I hoped but there’s always next month.
Any day now I’m expecting some office chairs and shelf brackets to arrive and it reminds me that I’ve never shown off my new beautiful desk.
Back in September of last year I had a chance to see some tables and desks made by a local company called Rustic Grain. The company uses reclaimed wood from barns in the St. Louis metro area. You can see the desks, bars, tables, and even lights at local places like Juniper, CIC, or Death in the Afternoon. I didn’t even have a contract on a house and I knew I’d be using Rustic Grain to build me something. My husband was on board and back in March we finally settled on the idea of a desk big enough for the both of us.
Jimmy from Rustic Grain met with us in their workshop. He showed us how the wood was being used, the skills of his employees, and what they were capable of. We discussed things like size first but he gave us lots of options for finishes and even wood. We were able to get bids from him for just plain milled wood, sanded barnwood, or rough barnwood that would have an epoxy layered over it. It was the last option that sold us and got us to sign on the dotted line.
One of the neat things was that they would post teaser photos on social media of my desk being made. I love knowing the steps made to create the piece. (All photos below courtesy of Rustic Grain)
Isn’t that gorgeous? The desk was ready for delivery right around Independence Day and thankfully they took care of getting it up my stairs and into place.
Doesn’t that just look fantastic against the brick? Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got some black chairs on their way and some iron brackets to go above the desk for some open shelving. I’m still having trouble with a rug (has anyone tried a jute rug with office chairs?) and a new light but soon this little nook will be complete.
Rustic Grain is a fantastic place to work with and they make a quality custom product. They’ve in no way compensated me for this review but I really loved working with them so I wanted to give them a shoutout. It’s important to me to support local businesses and this company is a great one to work with and made me a beautiful desk. It’s been 6+ years since I’ve had a desk to sit at in my home and this one is a dream.
One of the reasons I fell in love with this house is the huge amount of outdoor space. All three stories of my new home have an outdoor sitting area. My last house always had outdoor space on the to do list but it never got done (though I hear my buyer is having fun with a fire pit).
On the first floor, just off the kitchen we have a small deck with stairs down to our yard. We’ve already added some outdoor lighting and some small decorations but we’ve always got bigger plans. I want to redo the path out here, conceal the AC, attach both rain barrels and eventually upgrade the deck furniture here.
We have an interesting kind of garage called a California carport. It means we have off-street parking with a garage door off the alley but no walls. We can add walls later if we want but right now this is working for us. It’s very common in this part of the city and it makes our tiny yard feel bigger.
The old blue chairs and DIY pillows made the trip with us. We’ve just added a new friend for them.
The grill is a new addition thanks to Amazon’s Prime Deals Day. I’m not sure if this was part of the sale but I’d been stalking it for about 4 months and when I saw the markdown of $30 I jumped on it. I also was glad that it was delivered to our house rather than hauling this beast in my car and up stairs. We debated which deck to put the grill on but the 1st floor won due to kitchen convenience, the lack of desire to haul it up to the third floor, and wanting to protect it from the elements.
We have another deck on the 2nd floor, just outside the master suite. On nice days you can sit out here and just relax.
I put the potting bench up here because I’m envisioning lots of flowers everywhere. I saw all these beautiful balconies in France just full of flowers cascading and that’s my long-term goal. I’ll buy a couple of planters a year and by the time I’m an old lady my vision will be complete. The chair set is from Target, pillows and potting bench from World Market, and the rug is from Overstock.
Our third story deck is one of the biggest selling points the home had and it also has the fewest photos. I haven’t made any progress on it except to sunbathe with a book and a drink. The photos I have are from December when I bought the house.
It’s hard to see on the camera shot above but you can see the downtown St. Louis skyline including the Arch from up here. We were more focused on showing off our themed shirts for our new neighborhood than capturing the view but here’s a more recent shot.
The minute I saw this view I was sold. Thankfully all the other details eventually came together. The house is really gorgeous outside but we still have a lot to do before we have our first rooftop party. My big plan is to stalk the end-of-season sales happening now to help fill in the rest of the gaps outdoors. Be sure to let me know if you want in on the guest list.
I have had it with my basement. I haven’t unpacked all the tools because I don’t have a workbench yet at this house. I don’t have a workbench since I don’t know where all the tools are. The cycle seems a little silly when I have bookshelves, tote shelves, potting benches, and more in the queue to be built and yet it is all dependent on getting my basement organized. I know making a craft room for the blog would be pretty and finished off the office would be nice but none of it can happen until I can build. So, enough is enough- the basement is the priority now.
Are you ready for the horror that awaits?
This is one big project ahead of us. (That’s right husband, us!) We have some issues: our last house had no space so everything lived in the basement and the old owners left a bunch of stuff in the basement. For issue 1 we will need to unpack some things but as a temporary solution all the totes and seasonal items will live on some wooden shelves we’ll be building. For issue 2 the plan is to store some things in a better way (i.e. on shelves) or throw some things away. Living in the city means bulk trash pickup each month so we have a couple weeks to make some decisions.
The basement has several roles to fill.
- Hold seasonal items– think Christmas ornaments but also the lawn mower. It also needs to keep us safe in tornado season and hold our emergency gear.
- Hold hobby items- We like to spend time outdoors but need a place indoors to store gear
- Hold household items- from extra toilet paper to paint cans, everything needs a home
- Be our construction center- We need workbenches, tool storage, and space to build
There’s several long-range plans we are going to have to do, like add more lighting and run a water line so we have a faucet in our backyard, but this is the “Clean the Basement” phase so here’s the plan.
Doesn’t that look nice and organized? It’s a multi-step process and while I’m sure I’m missing a few steps, here’s the current plan:
- Buy metal shelves for paint cans and other tools
- Clear out the back half of the basement to allow us to build a workbench
- Build saw cart
- Put all the tools where they belong
- Build tote shelves along the front half of the basement and relocated all totes
- Buy rug, pair with table and chairs for tornado shelter storm seating. Add emergency kits.
- Organize outdoor gear like shovels and lawn mower with some wall storage
- Buy a locker for all hiking/camping gear
- Buy/build potting bench for all outdoor gardening supplies
- Drywall staircase wall and build shelves for overstock groceries
Once phases 4 and 5 are finished I can see us splitting our time between the basement and projects on the second floor so hopefully this list will keep me on track. Organizing the basement might not be the most glamorous thing but it will definitely make my life easier.
When I moved in with my husband, I knew our first house wasn’t a forever home. When he’d bought it a few years earlier and before we attacked it with sledgehammers, we thought 3-5 years was the magic number on how long we’d be living there. By the time I moved out it had been over 7 years. In 2013 we started talking about how we should do some home improvements based on selling the home and no longer what we wanted to live in the home. We made a few changes with paint colors, adding trim in key places, the kinds of stuff that don’t make for fun and exciting blog posts. In early 2014 I actually started going through basement totes and making the save/trash decision. I’d been living in a house full of totes that had never been opened. It was depressing. It also helped me make a wish list for my next big house. Then came a job change and the momentum was on.
My goal was originally to have the house ready for market by spring 2015 and instead I was home shopping a year earlier than planned. We toured our first home on March 30 and moved in December 16. Here’s how our home buying journey went.
My husband and I started by making wish lists. We had several differences but here’s the things we agreed on:
- More than 1 bathroom (yes, we lived with 1 bathroom for over 7 years)
- Off-street covered parking
- Historic Home
- Close to the city
- Close to work
- Outdoor space for the dog
- Near a park
- Workspaces for each of us (craft space for me, woodshop for him, office for both)
It sounded so easy. I pulled up a map, located Targets, grocery stores, parks, and our workplaces and plotted out some ideal neighborhoods. Most people don’t realize that “Saint Louis” can refer to St. Louis City or St. Louis County. Locals will tell you they are beyond different while out-of-towners hear it and think that the entire metro area is a place they’ll be murdered in. Even our family and friends have been confused. We did look at the county in places like Clayton, University City, Maplewood but none of them felt right. People had unrealistic expectations of selling prices in these areas so we moved on.
We kept attending 5-10 Open Houses a weekend. After some more searches and missteps we narrowed our home search to 7 neighborhoods – Skinker DeBaliviere, Central West End, Shaw, Tower Grove South, Tower Grove East, Compton Heights, or Lafayette Park. Each neighborhood bordered either Forest Park, Tower Grove Park, or Lafayette Park, offered historic homes, had crime rates we were comfortable with, and had good access to highways or roads that would get us to work with minimal traffic. By Mother’s Day, it was time to call in an agent. Luckily it was as easy as a phone call to my dad.
My dad didn’t play. He set us up with listing after listing, getting a feel for what we were looking for beyond location. Did we want beautiful woodwork and a nice patio if it put one of us without a garage and on the very edge of our neighborhood? We couldn’t afford houses on a rich tree-lined parkway next to Missouri Botanical Gardens but what if we fixed up a foreclosure below our price point? What if only part of the house was finished and we couldn’t live in the whole house for months until we rehabbed it? Houses got nicknames “The Dolphin Tub House”, “Yellow Highlighter House”, “First Flad”, “Second Flad”, “Love Pad Flad”. You start to see it all. These were hard choices. The stress was killer. Week after week we looked, week after week I commuted 2-3 hours a day.
We finally decided on a home to put an offer on at the end of July. And then it disappeared from the market. My dad did the agent thing and got the listing agent to put it back on telling the buyers not to give up hope of a sell. “The ‘V’ House” we called it. By August 3 we submitted an offer. Naturally it wasn’t meant to be; the sellers didn’t want to go any lower and we were convinced it wasn’t worth any higher. They pulled it again, we walked away. We flirted with 2 other homes pretty seriously but the agents were clear there wasn’t room to negotiate. We’d seen the market analysis and didn’t play the game with them. We found another home we loved and before we got in the door it sold. We were able to walk through it and that made it even tougher. It was a second loss. Mid-October we finally made an offer on another house, “The ‘B’ House”, and again we couldn’t meet in the middle. We were nearing the end of the selling season. For 2 weeks we didn’t see any homes enter the market. The stress of my commute and house hunting was making me ill. I felt like I was trapped in limbo and doomed by my own unwillingness to pay more than a house was worth.
And then “The ‘V’ House” came back on the market. At a lower price. And “The ‘B’ House’s seller suddenly wanted to play ball again. We went all in and made one more very final but very competitive offer on “The ‘V’ House” and they accepted. It was the first week of November. Closing was set for 10 days before Christmas. I think of it as a Christmas miracle. At some point I’ll cover some logistics of moving with you and some lessons I learned there as well as a profile of our new neighborhood – Tower Grove East.
The lesson I learned in the home buying search is not to let your desperation make a decision you aren’t okay with. We seriously considered 5 homes and we believed 4 of those were drastically overpriced. We had been through over 100 homes in St. Louis (not an exaggeration) and felt confident we knew what added and subtracted value. Those homes we didn’t buy? All 3 of them ended up selling within $2000 of what we’d offered or discussed offering with the agent. In the moment I was actually willing to lower my standards and open my wallet more and now I know I was right to stay the course. It’s hard to be patient and it’s hard to keep going but it can be worth it. I love what we waited so long for.
Onto the final floor of the new house. (First floor, second floor) This space is where we go to escape everything in the world each evening.
When the husband and I first toured open houses we found this one house with a bonus space on the third floor. While that wasn’t the one for us, we both fell in love with the concept. Thankfully we found a space of our own.
I can’t decide what I like best about this space.
That I have another bathroom. (Can you believe I lived for 7+ years with just 1 bathroom in my last house?)
That I have this wide open space to fill
That I have this crazy kitchenette (that the old owners left all their beer in)
Or maybe that this staircase goes to a rooftop deck that has an amazing view.
A view that you’ll have to wait and see!