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Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself {Our New Old Dining Room}

This started as one long post but I decided to break it up into two because my rambling can be excessive, even for me…

So we have been jumping all over the house for the past few months.  No single room is what I would call “finished” but the Nursery is probably the closest.  And now I think the dining room is pretty damn close too!

I’ve briefly mentioned that we did a gut renovation on our kitchen, and removed the walls that separated the kitchen and dining room, kitchen and living room, and the dining room was already pretty open to the living room.  (Did you follow that? Me neither. Here is the file Tom created to give out to the different companies that gave us estimates for the work. Everything in the red zig zag is gone now).

Some before pictures from the MLS listing of the dining room/living room/kitchen:

So that wall to the right used to lead into the kitchen – we took it down (but we saved the accordion door and the chandelier!).  The double doors to the left head into the office/man cave.

Now from the other side, the wall to the left with the opening into the dining room is gone. There is a wall you don’t see in this picture to the left of that kitchen table that we also removed (See it below). Essentially, our island is now where the kitchen table was. And this yellow kitchen is completely gone but that deserves its own post.

The living room:

And that wall to the right (which was the same wall in the kitchen) is now gone.  You can see the original opening into the dining area was already large, but now we’ve maximized that opening.  I would also like to note that clearly photographers for MLS listings use a wide angle lens.  These rooms are definitely roomy – but these photos make them look down right huge.

So now everything is super open and we have a solid ‘great room’ which we love and is oh so en trend.  But I still tend to look at these spaces separately when it comes to focusing on pieces to purchase to fill up this home. During demo we had them remove the dining room windows and put in french doors – eventually these will lead to a deck when we finally build one, but for now they serve as an nice way to get big furniture into the house. And they let in a lot of light.  We had them replace the old chandelier (which I saved for another project) and had them install this darling. Ohemgee I love this light.  We even learned how to put in our own dimmer switch after the electricians left. Let’s just say because the instructions say you can put in 25 watt bulbs, doesn’t mean you should, especially when there are 42 of them. Wattage literally accumulates. Did you know that? Now you do.

We purchased a new extendable table from West Elm, and the chairs are from our last dining set, whose remaining pieces have been sprinkled throughout the house.  They are a little beat up and not quite the same genre as all the MCM we’ve got going on in here but they are comfortable and I spent a lot of money on the upholstery back when I didn’t have a ton of money to do that sort of thing and I cannot let them go. And because of GOLD, obvs.

And we temporarily placed our two old bookshelves from Target on this wall when we moved in and threw in some tchotchkes as place holders while I searched for the perfect hutch for this space. I only have this not so great picture of part of the bookcase, and you can see we saved the accordion door and used it for our holiday cards this year:

I’ll take a break there, because the hunt for a great hutch is really what this post was originally about…

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Christmas Decorations 2014

This year was a pretty exciting year to decorate. It was our first Christmas in our new house! I’m not a huge fan of knick-knacky decorations, but pre-lit garland and decorated trees are my jam. And you’ll see them both in excess. Some more sneak peaks around the new house too if you are into that.

First up: the tree in my home office.  It’s gold, it’s rocking some lime and purple and iridescent white balls, and some purple snowflakes. I love looking past my monitors to see this guy all lit up sitting on top of our craigslist poker table find.

This white guy – you might recognize him from the dining room of our apartment, but this year he is hanging out in the Nursery.  Complete with emerald green and royal blue balls blue snowflakes, and some rustic little critters from Grandma.

I’m a little partial to our fake green tree in the family room.  We always had an assortment of traditional Scandinavian ornaments on our tree growing up but this guy is all Norway, all the way. Straw ornaments, Norwegian flags, and our Julenissen. We’ve even got our Fair Isle ornaments that we picked up in Oslo last year (November 2013).

There is more garland in this room – surrounding this huge window as well as our sliding glass doors to the back patio.  But I’ll show you around the family room a little more in another post.

And of course, our REAL TREE in the living room.  In case you were wondering, no I did not realize that the top of this tree was seemingly chopped off when we picked it out, nor did I realize that it would look so short and stout in this room. And no, we don’t own a star to make it look taller (it’s called an illusion, Michael). But next year folks, next year! I will have a properly fitting tree for this room. Until then, I think this guy turned out just fine.  We’ve got the majority of our sentimental ornaments on this tree and I used gold and aqua to tie into some of the other furniture in the room. And yes. Lots and lots of pre-lit garland.

Can we talk about how ginormous those stockings are? They are beautiful (from Pottery Barn Kids), but I did not realize they would be this big. In a few years someone is going to expect to get these filled with toys, and Mama is not happy about this. He is going to have to settle for half (nay, two thirds!) of it to be stuffed with tissue paper. We will make up some story so he believes that is how it all works, I’m sure.

And some of our special ornaments from our trips  and significant happenings over the years are on our “real tree”. This has become my favorite way to memorialize these vacations (and when I can’t find actual ornaments, key chains become great ornaments and people are none the wiser except when you blab about on a public blog). In no particular order:

Read about it here.
My Tri-Kayla 30th Birthday/Cinqo De Kayla/Kentucky Derby Weekend in 2012
Our wedding.
I recently posted about our Honeymoon to South Africa here.
We went to a falconry on our second mini-honeymoon in Manchester VT

Florida in 2010 
Vegas in 2013

Forgive me for indulging in listing out where our ornaments are all from – some day (probably too soon) I won’t be able to remember what year we did what so it’s nice to have it all in one spot.

Technically, I put up pre-lit garland on our front porch, however, there are no outlets outside so we’ve never been able to turn it on. After a few futile attempts to get electricity outside we have decided to wait to add an outlet when we redo the siding this coming spring. We are already tinkering with ideas for decorating outside the house next year, and let’s just say Tom has already mentioned using his raspberry pi to match up lights and music. And you thought four Christmas trees was excessive.

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Christmas Tree Napkins {or Dare to DIY 2014 – Entertain! Edition)

I’ve followed the Dare to DIY link parties for a few years. Last year I actually pulled myself away from the toilet (morning sickness lasts all day for some) long enough to make these painted cork placemats.  It was fun.

So I told myself last year I would join in at least two of the link parties this year.  Baby steps people, blogging on a regular basis is not my thing.  And when you are staring at primered walls, that you told yourself you would get painted by Thanksgiving, and there is an adorable 4 month old that is figuring out how to bring his tiny thumbs to his mouth, it’s kinda hard to justify to yourself to sit and get crafty.  But I saw this video on FB and was reminded of how much I actually enjoyed the task of folding cloth napkins. I was a waitress at two different family owned resorts growing up, and I actually loved the task of folding napkins for dinner. I still find myself refolding cloth napkins when I’m at restaurants if their fold job isn’t up to my standards. #formerwaitressproblems

So I thought, oh I’ll go find some vintage tablecloths and make my own festive napkins for some dinner parties we are hosting in the coming weeks. Then I remembered I have no idea where to get vintage anything in my new town.  Seriously, WHERE ARE THE FLEA MARKETS AROUND HERE???  I found one antique shop that takes itself waaay too seriously with the pricing.  Someone, someone, tell me where I can find cheap used junk to make glorious again in central New Jersey please.

So then I thought, ok, I’ll skip this link party. And then I thought, NO KAYLA JUST FOLD YOUR WHITE NAPKINS.  True, I didn’t lug out the paint, the orbital sander, or the sewing machine for this project. I didn’t even lug out the iron, and really, I should have at least done that.  But whatever. I still like them.

Feast for your eyes, people:

Can I make a table look sexy or what?

Blogger confession: I bought washi tape for the first time. I used it to make little place tag flags attached to little ornaments from the dollar store. Little woodland critters sent down by my mother and Boom. Tablescape is done, ya’ll.

I’m still searching for that perfect vintage holiday tablecloth and napkin set.  But for now I still dig this burgandy/gold/aqua number.  It really pulls in the gold and aqua from around the room. The room that I’m not ready to show you until it’s a little more “done”. You know, like more than just primered (it’s a real word, trust).  But I did put up some pre-lit garland!

I’ll only gush about that chandelier for a minute – but it’s literally the first thing we bought after we bought the  house. It is hands down my favorite piece we added. Tom knew a lighting guy and we got it for a steal which was the only way we were actually going to get that thing into our house. I’ll give you a real breakdown of the dining room/living room/kitchen soon enough (translation: before the end of 2015).

Kitchen teaser. Yup, that’s an antique rug from ebay in my kitchen. I’m so en trend. And that is my Stokke Steps high chair.  Hands down, best money we spent on a single baby item (even though its really like 4 items).  I love that thing and so does the little one.

And here’s that napkin folding video. Looks like there a couple versions on youtube, but this is the one that gave me the idea in the first place:

And if you are here from Decor and the Dog – welcome!  If not, check out the other party animals here to see what everyone came up with! Will I meet my personal goal and come back for a second link party in the next two weeks? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.