Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Mantel

I finally finished my spring mantel :)  I looooove how it turned out, thanks to some help from my handy hubby! 
 I wanted to give my mantel a fresh look for spring...
I absolutely loved Sarah's hydrangea-filled trough so I had my hubby build a shorter version for the fireplace.  I love how it turned out!!!
Make sure you check out Sarah's post for the how-to if you would like to make one for yourself!

Jeff put it together for me and then I stained it with some dark gel stain that I have had for a few years ;)

I think it looks gorgeous on top of my mantel.  I used artifical hydrangeas so that they would last all season and just hot glued them in place.  They can be easily removed and I can replace the flowers but I'm not sure I ever will, I love hydrangeas!

I also flanked it with these pretty yellow branches I got at Hobby Lobby when they were half-off (I always purchase their stems when they are half-off because they can be pretty pricey at full-price especially if you are buying several like I did.)  The glass holders I have had for years so I didn't have to purchase them, I just stole them from my bedroom :)
Then of course, my antique mirror/window that keeps making appearances on top of my mantel.  I wasn't 100% thrilled with it as part of this vignette but I didn't want to have to purchase anything else so the fact that it was free made it much more appealing ;)
So, there's our mantel....all ready for spring/summer! 

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Personalizing our Builder Grade House

It has been way too long since I have blogged!  A certain little girl has been keeping me pretty busy but I hope to get back into some blogging now that she is about 2 months old and taking great afternoon naps!

Today I thought I would share with you a bit of what we have done to dress up the exterior of our house.  We purchased our 'starter home' in April 2008 after three years of renting while Jeff finished grad school.  I was excited that our first home was brand new but I wasn't excited that it was going to look exactly like some of the other houses in the neighborhood.  Though we purchased our house new, it was a spec house that the builders had built to sell so we didn't get to choose the color of the siding and shutters.  We did get it early enough to where we were still able to choose most of the interior finishes though so I was glad about that but disappointed that the exterior of the house was not what I would have chosen.  I'm gonna show you the before and after, then I can explain what we did :)

I'm not sure how 'fair' the before picture is since it was taken before the house was finished but its the only 'before' picture that I have so it will have to do :) 

The very first thing that we did was paint the shutters and front door black.

There was another house just a few houses down with the exact same greyish white siding and burgandy shutters and it drove me nuts, plus I wasn't crazy about the burgundy (not that there is anything wrong with it, it's just not my personal taste.)   We replaced the solid front door with one that had a glass insert and painted it red a couple years ago. I saw Karla's red front door and fell in love.  I loooooooove a red front door!  I never get tired of looking at our front door!

Another thing we did soon after we moved in was adding the white railing to the front porch.  We had to special order it from Home Depot but I don't think it was very expensive and it really helped define the space.
The most recent changes we have made to the exterior of our home was adding a window and replacing the double garage door with two single garage doors.  Neither of these were done for cosmetic reasons, we finished off half of our garage into a bonus room so we could have a playroom for the kids since we were unable to sell our house last year.  Because we wanted to keep a usable one-car garage, we had them replace the double door with two single doors and one is just a false (non-working door.)  And we added the window so that the bonus room would have some natural light coming in. 
I still haven't completely finished decorating the play room so I haven't blogged about it yet but it's given us almost 200 sq ft of extra living space.  It also opened up our living room since the door to the garage was on a large wall and when we finished the bonus room, we expanded the opening to give both rooms an open feel. But anyway, more on that another time.  It's one of the many changes we made to the interior of our house.  As for the garage doors, they were pretty plain looking since they didn't have windows or anything so I decided we should add some decorative hardware to them.  I love how they turned out :)

One area that we haven't done much with is the landscaping :-/  Our little flower beds could use some pavers bordering them and some nicer plants but it's just something we haven't really done yet.  We did get the Japanese Maple a few years ago and it's really grown.  We also took up some of the bushes that the builders planted and put a few things in their place but nothing too fancy.  One of my besties Kyla lives down the street and has amazing flower beds that go all around her house with gorgeous plants and flowers.  They've worked really hard on their landscaping and it shows.  Maybe that's what we need to do next out there :p

Well, there you have it. Our little home. It's not our dream home but its ours and we have brought home two babies here. I know I will miss it when it is time to move on to a bigger place.

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!