I mentioned earlier I’ve been looking into some cosmetic updates for my guest bathroom. This is the bathroom located on the second floor of my home. It gets a lot of frequent use in my home since we’re both still enamored at the idea of having more than one bathroom.
The space is pretty nice with a full shower and a jetted tub. It also has a nice view in the shower of my neighbor’s window and I’m not down with exhibitionism.Tan tile isn’t really my thing but I also don’t want the hassle of ripping it out. The worst part is that the grout looks pink against the tan walls so I’ll definitely be changing the wall color. I also want a more functional space with some shelves and hooks.
On a design note, I moved the same art and towels from my last house over to the new place. My last house was more transitional, like this:
My towels are showing their age and I already bought a new white shower curtain since my last house had a glass stall. So far my new house has a French Rustic Industrial vibe going on. I want to bring this into the bathroom just a bit. I’m thinking metals and natural-looking woods, lots of white and tan tones, and some natural elements in this space.
This is the general vibe I want while not spending too much on the space.
To Do List:
- Add window privacy
- Paint the walls
- Change the light and mirror
- Remove the towel bar and put hooks on the opposite side of the bathroom
- Add functional shelving over the toilet
- Organize my under sink storage
That doesn’t seem insurmountable, does it?
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
- For my big birthday meal I decided to try The Libertine in Clayton. They’ve recently swapped chefs and had a menu redo and while I was a bit hesitant, I shouldn’t have been. Matt Bessler has made some fantastic decisions regarding the menu. We had mussels and bacon brodo with a broth so delicious I wanted to drink it up with a spoon. My husband had steak & frites while I had the Filet ‘Oscar’. Both of us equally loved our dishes and regretted not getting the others. (I also regret that my phone must have been so hungry it ate the photos when I attempted to transfer them) My steak was like butter and the crab cake had barely any fillers and was beyond delicious. For dessert we even had some bon bons. Ben Bauer is the beverage director here and he made some great decisions to source local liqueurs like Big Os. They are launching their happy hour menu this week and I know I’ll be back.
- You all have the Skinnytaste Cookbook, right? I’m officially obsessed with it. The jerk pork tacos with mango salsa was fantastic. I’m not always one to mix fruit with my savory dishes but this was worth it. Bonus: This was a crockpot recipe and had lots of leftovers.
- I got a new gas grill and we’ve been testing some new recipes. I’m loving the burgers my husband made, the skinnytaste Asian Glazed Drumsticks got a big thumbs up. Next up: I think I need to try a butcher for some ribs and steaks. Anyone been to an STL butcher?
- I’ve loved The xx so now that Jamie Smith has come out as Jame xx in his solo act, I’m of course listening to the new album nonstop. Loud Places is my current favorite.
- Please tell me someone else out there watches Orphan Black. I watched the first two seasons as fast as I could on Amazon Prime and now I can’t wait to get my hands on Season 3. Tatiana Maslany came out of nowhere to just wow me in her roles. Her acting is amazing.
- I made it to the St. Louis Art Museum to see Beyond Bosch before it closed. I also had a great time looking at Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life. Nothing like turning 30 to make you want to visit exhibits that cover mortality and aging.
- I managed to get the deal of a lifetime from West Elm on some new office chairs. We’re getting closer to the office being finished.
- Even better – we just got the brackets for some office shelving in the mail from an Etsy seller. I need to finalize some bookshelf plans or you know, start on them.
- Not the sexiest of home improvements but we had our air conditioning system get some new intake for the air return and I swear I feel the improvement. I’m hoping my bills do too. I didn’t want to wait on improving my heating and cooling since it’s so important in the home. We have dual systems for the house and 3 stories so we need everything to work at its best. Hopefully 2015 was our year of service calls and repairs and in 2016 we’re just in maintenance mode. We’re onto our second home so we’ve taken a proactive approach to the big issues.
On the Web
- I remember growing up and hearing about New Horizons and the mission to Pluto but it still caught me by surprise when the photos began to come in. Pluto may have lost its planetary status during the journey there but I think it has captured my heart. Don’t forget the St. Louis Science Center is hosting a New Horizons themed Pluto party for August’s First Friday.
- I’m taking all my inspiration for home decor from this Pinterest board. Didn’t every girl grow up and want a Practical Magic house?
- I’m hugely invested in the justice and legal system so this story about life after prison really hit home for me.
- I got called for jury duty this month which wasn’t actually that bad. Two days of reading books, bad daytime TV, and eating lunch from food trucks in City Garden was pretty nice. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be picked (and not because I’m a criminal) so it wasn’t a surprise when I got sent home. So far my only days off work this year have been for a funeral and jury duty though so I need to step it up.
- I was diagnosed with cancer on July 8, 2005 so now I’ve made it 10 years past that big day. Tomorrow marks 10 years since I started chemo. I had expected surviving cancer this long to be more of a celebration but it felt more solemn than that for me. People I cared for didn’t make it like I did and there’s always a dark cloud that comes with survival. It’s a lonely world when you’re diagnosed with cancer at 19 and it’s even lonelier down the road when you don’t have all those voices celebrating with you.
- On a happier note, I turned 30 last week. My coworkers pretended not to know and pulled out a surprise birthday cake at the end of a lunch meeting. I went out with my girls to a happy hour and we got to remark on just how far we’ve all come in the last year. I had a nice dinner out with my husband and phone calls from family. My husband even made me a custom piece of art featuring our girl Nova. Then the next morning I work up with back spasms to remind me that I just can’t fight aging.
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.
This year is already halfway over, how great is that? Here’s what I’ve been up to this month off the blog.
- My dad requested we eat at Pastaria for Father’s Day. What’s not to like about pizza, pasta, and gelato?
- Vanilla is not a boring flavor at Clementine’s Creamery. I had a chance to sample some a a picnic and it was a new view on plain vanilla. The shop is located just off Lafayette Square Park in the city.
- My favorite recipe from this month comes once again from Gina at Skinnytaste. The zucchini she suggests you add to turkey burgers really takes the flavor up a notch and my husband loved the Greek burgers almost as much as I did.
- I won a year’s membership to the St. Louis Art Museum and got to attend the members’ picnic this past weekend. We had picnic foods, avoided the rain, saw the new Senufo exhibit and sculpture garden, and enjoyed some of that Clementine’s ice cream I mentioned above.
- I have nothing but great things to say about Netflix this month. Another good season of Orange is the New Black and if you haven’t yet watched Daredevil then you need to! This is better than the movie version with Bennifer v2 in it a decade ago.
- I’ve also been enjoying my Amazon Prime access to TV shows. Catastrophe is a hilarious take on love and other things. With just 6 short episodes you could binge watch in one sitting but I suggest you savor it.
- Our desk has arrived! Now I need to build shelves, settle on a rug and office chairs, and keep a lookout for a new light.
- We cleared out a decent part of the basement and installed our first set of shelves. We celebrated by sitting in the basement during a tornado watch on Sunday night.
- My in-laws drove into the city to join us in some architectural salvage hunting. We did a circle of the town stopping at Cherokee Street to visit Riverside Antiques, Junque over in the Lemp Brewery, Architectural Artifacts off Lafayette, and Refab. Then we went back to Cherokee Street for Mexican at Neveria La Vallesana.
On the Web
- The Missouri History Museum has an exhibit running called “A Walk in 1875 St. Louis” featuring the Compton & Dry maps of St. Louis at the turn of the last century. I’m enjoying reading Distilled History’s hunt for the breweries open then and now.
- Here’s a spotify playlist made by some women on /r/xxfitness that pairs great with a workout.
- I have a weird fascination with true crime and IO9’s true crime page isn’t helping.
- Ikea has announced they are opening the St. Louis store on September 30. I work just a block away so this will be quite dangerous.
- I celebrated 1 year with my new employer in June. Not everything about this job is perfect but it’s starting to feel like home. I miss my close friends at my last job and the good I felt I was doing in the world but beyond that I have no regrets about moving on. Ask a Manager was one of the best sites to help me make the decision to leave and helped me form a plan to do it.
- Last year was a hard year for me when it came to food and working out with the job change and house hunt. I’ve managed to lose all the weight I gained in 2014 and then some. I’ve also stuck to my goal of only eating out once a week at lunch for all of 2015. Next week I am joining a gym in my new neighborhood so I stay on the right track.
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.
I can’t believe it is already June. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I had to sleep with an extra blanket on the bed last night and I’m in long sleeves today. Either way, here’s some of what I was up to off-the-blog last month:
- Imagine my surprise when my brother told me that we were making my mom crab legs for Mother’s Day. My brother is not always so prepared so I was taken aback. I decided to run with the theme and make a low country boil for mom.
- When I moved to the new neighborhood, I had no idea I lived near a martini bar. Do you know how nice it is to be able to walk home after a couple drinks?
- The husband and I went to the South Grand Dine Around. You get passes to enjoy an appetizer, a main course, a drink, a dessert, and another small taste from restaurants representing all sorts of nationalities.
- This was a month for finales. The Mad Men finale wasn’t quite what I expected but the final few episodes really wrapped up the show. I also finally watched The Wire finale. Talk about a heartbreaking show. Both shows had some of the best episodes of TV that I have ever seen.
- I rented a movie in person for the first time in over 10 years. Can you believe it? I was a Netflix subscriber years ago when they still sent you discs for that low rate and since then I have always waited for movies to just make their way to cable. I finally decided to try Redbox and now I’m wondering why I waited so long.
- I’m so disappointed I can’t make the Postmodern Jukebox show this week at The Pageant, especially after seeing this video of their cover of Bad Romance. Oh, the tap dancing!
- I finally got some furniture on the 2nd story balcony. It’s not much yet but at least I can go outside. My big plans involve rugs, all the flowers it can fit, and a potting bench.
- The third story deck is now becoming urgent. I only have a few chairs left from the last owners and no place to put all the people I’d like.
- The biggest reason work isn’t done? The basement! We left our workbench behind at the last house, our current basement is full of our stuff and leftovers from the old owners and it needs an intervention. We’re drawing up plans for shelves and workbenches this week so maybe we can finally start building.
On the Web
- Cards you might actually want to receive if you have cancer. It might sound a little morbid but take it from this cancer survivor- cancer is a lonely time and the cards out there are awkward. Every little bit helps.
- I normally hate the “lessons learned” posts that come with graduation season but this one may be the most accurate.
- My new favorite instagram account.
- I joined a community garden this month. I’m the youngest by about 20-30 years with the exception of my husband. Our first mission: rebuild some damaged rain barrel bases.
- I became a Yelp Elite member and just attended my first event. My next big event is this week and I can’t wait to share it with you.
- My workplace is having this healthy living program this summer. Last month’s big goal was to increase our steps. This month’s big goal is to eat more veggies. Next month’s big goal is to get more sleep. Naturally I’ve injured my feet and just had my first podiatrist appointment. The good news is that I can still keep walking but the bad news is I need to wear ugly shoes. Such is life.
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!