House Update: New Batik Pillows and West Elm Lamp

20 May

Ah, how I love a batik pillow! Remember back when I told you about those Amber Interiors ones that I was dying over? And remember how they were crazy expensive?

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Well, my Etsy substitutes from OrientalTribe11 arrived and They. Are. Perfect!

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They took a little while to get here–I mean, they were coming from Thailand after all–but they are as beautiful as I imagined. I was a little afraid how the navy and white batik would work with my teal walls but I think it’s divine. And obviously, I love the neon pink and orange accents. (Apologies for the couch that looks like a saggy elephant’s ass. I promise that what it lacks in appearance, it makes up for in comfort.)

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They’re made really well. I’ve had them for awhile now and I’m so happy with how they look. Check out the detail:

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The room looks so much better with some more streamlined pillows. Remember the hot mess of pillows I had before?

pillows collage textSidebar: And see the change in that doorway to the right? I painted the hideous wood paneling in the playroom (including that stairwell that leads to it) so I’ll be telling you all about that change soon. (And yes, that means that I totally broke my resolution!)

And looky here, another change!

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Did you spot it in the foyer behind the couch?

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We got a new lamp from West Elm and I am loving it!

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It’s the Geodesic Table Lamp and I love the openess of the brassy base. Plus that tan lampshade is so warm and sophisticated. I feel like it’s the look I was hoping for when I got the Nate Berkus for Target one, but this one…well, you get what you pay for. (No knock to Nate of course, his is still damn good for a $50 lamp!)

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It’s coming together one little bit at a time.

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. I feel like whenever I show the living room, the paint color never reads right on camera. So, here’s a swatch of the real color: Benjamin Moore Teal.

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Hallway Gallery and Runner

12 May

When you last met my hallway…what? You’ve never met my hallway? Oh the shame. Let’s get better aquainted.

Back in 2010 when we moved in, our hallway had brown wall-to-wall carpet (yikes) and poorly textured creamy walls.

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It only took about a month before we ripped out the carpet and had the wood floors underneath refinished. We went with a dark stain downstairs but we kept the hall pale to go with the floors in the bedrooms. Check out 2 year old Lily showing off the pretty hardwood back before I fixed the stair risers. (Doesn’t she kind of look like a ghost? Boo!)

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A few months after that, Pablo attempted to skim coat the walls (I’ll give him an A for effort) and we painted the walls in Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray with Cloud White trim.

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That was three years ago and everyday since then I’ve had the intention of hanging some extended family pics up there. And now it’s done! Well, not done. More like a decent start. (You’ll also notice I’ve sort of learned how to use my camera too.)

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I shopped for the runner for a loooooong time. That problem with my expensive taste and limited budget got in the way but eventually I fell for a pretty kelly green wool flat weave rug in a Jaipur catalog my mom had borrowed from a local decorator. I was contemplating getting one (and even paying the expensive-for-me $200+ price) when this beauty popped up on One Kings Lane for only $149. I had to go for it. Lucky for you OKL has it right now, too (for a few bucks more).

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The next step was the frames and since you know me, you can imagine I tried to go inexpensive with some of the offerings at Target, Kohls and Ikea. But they all just looked too cheap to me so I ended up getting most of them at Pottery Barn. (I can’t say enough nice things about their gallery frames. Just go buy them and thank me later.)

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As for the pictures themselves, the focus is on extended family: the girls’ cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. (I felt I had thoroughly covered the 4 of the us in our dining room photo wall so it was time to spread the love.) You’ll notice most of them are super casual.

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hallway 050One of the favorites is this picture from Thanksgiving a few years ago. It’s the last time we had my family and Pablo’s family together so it’s got a lot of VIPs in it.

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The walls look a little sparse for now but the goal is to fill it up top to bottom. Something more like this.

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It’s coming together but don’t look up! If you do you’ll see cracked and peeling paint and one of the noisiest flourescent lights in history.

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Take a closer look at that texture.

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We’re bringing some pros in soon to fix it up and I’ve got plans to replace the light, too. I’ll keep you posted.

And the view from the bedrooms needs a little love too. See that space above the stairs? hallway 056

 I’d love to put something inspirational there so we see if right before we head out for the day. Ya know, something like this:

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OR

don't forget to be awesome

Maybe we could even jump and smack it like the Notre Dame football team does with their motivational sign…?

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So it’s still a work in progress but I’m happy with the changes we’ve made. It sure is nice to see Mimi, Papa, Uncle Steve, Auntie, Jonathan, Bobe, Grandpa Steve, Uncle Francis, Aunt Nicole, Baylee, Arianna, Carter, Aunt Paola, Aunt Alex, Eliseo, and Weli everday.

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XO

Sue at Home

Easy Party Invitations

6 May

Lily’s 6th birthday is coming up (how did she get so big?!?!) and I decided to go the DIY route for her invitations again. The theme is “Lalaloopsy/Carnival” so I wanted the invitations to be bright, fun, and Lalalily!

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The first step was to turn to my resident graphic designer (that would be my sister-in-law Paola) to create a custom Lalalily logo to be used all over the party. As per ushe, Paola rocked her assignment (even with her newborn baby on her hip). Check!

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Next I chose a fun picture of Lily that I took in Aruba this year and added some text to it with the help of PicMonkey. FYI: The font I used–which features hearts over the i’s if you’re into that sorta thing (and why wouldn’t you be?)–is called Emily’s Candy.

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Don’t mind the reflection of the photographer in her lens. Note to self: no more mirrored glasses for the girls.

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I knew I could have just printed the text on the back of the picture (I printed them at home on cardstock) but I figured to make it more interesting I’d print separate sheets and then tie them together with a ribbon. But when I went to look for my hole punch, I was greeted with this: washi tape heaven!

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And that’s when I decided that it would far more Lalaloopsy-ish if I used random washi tape to attached the image to the party info page.

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Isn’t it so pretty? Now I’m totally inspired to use washi tape all over her party!

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Stay tuned for more Lalalily details as the party date approaches! And if you just can’t wait, check out these other awesome party posts on Sue at Home:

Lily’s Luau Birthday party

How to Throw A Glamtastic Kids’ Party

Lily’s Rainbow Birthday Party

XO

Sue at Home

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth

28 Apr

I know that title is quite a claim but people, I’m about to give you a cookie recipe to end all cookie recipes. But first let me introduce you to the creator of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth, my favorite chef Tara Bench (instagram: @tarateaspoon). Here she is getting ready to serve some delicious treats to Al Roker on the Today Show.

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She may not be as famous as Ina Garten or Bobby Flay but she’s a celeb chef all right: Tara is the Food and Entertaining Director for Ladies’ Home Journal* and in the 7+ years I’ve worked with her, she’s never made a single thing that I didn’t like. Think about that for a second. Every recipe she produced–whether sweet or savory, difficult or a breeze–has been deeeeelish. And I think I’ve tasted them all! I’m also lucky to call her a friend. (She’s the awesome kind of buddy who answers all of my frantic weekend baking texts when I’m questioning my kitchen skills. Everyone needs a friend like that but no, I’m not giving you her number.)

Tara started her career at Martha Stewart and you can see it in her work; aesthetics are as important as taste. Some of her favorite LHJ recipes are Crispy Ice Cream Bars,  Frozen Blueberry Cheesecake, and Thai Chicken Patties.

But her heart belongs to chocolate chip cookies. They’re her favorite thing to make. And why not when she has perfected the recipe!?

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I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect chocolate cookie for a long time but they’ve never been quite right. They’re either too crunchy or spread too thin or not chocolatey enough. So, I finally decided to try Tara’s personal recipe and It. Is. Perfect. They’re sweet and chocolatey but not too much of either. They’re lightly golden around the edges, just enough to give them a little bit of crunchiness.  But the gooeyness–oh the gooeyness!–is the key to this recipe’s success. That soft texture remains days after they’re baked. ( But wait! There’s more! Tara even makes a gluten free version that pretty amazing, too!)

And here’s the best part: even though this recipe is so close to her heart, she gives it to friends and family all the time and she even kindly agreed to let me share it with you. Right here. Right now. (Told you she’s awesome!)

TARA’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

4 cups flour (fluff the flour before scooping) or substitute Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for Gluten Free version (see Gluten Free note below)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsps or 1 tblsp vanilla extract (I go for the full tablespoon when I make them.)

1 package (11.5 oz bag) of milk chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and you should to.)

1 package (11.5 oz bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and reduce this amount to a little more than half of the bag.)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix. Add the dry mixture, a little at a time, and mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (Eleven minutes works perfectly for my oven but be careful. Tara says “Don’t overcook”!)

Gluten Free note: If you prefer rice flour to Gluten Free all purpose flour, you can use that instead (Tara recommends this one) but be sure to add a scant tbsp xantham gum to hold the cookies together. (A “scant” tbsp means slightly less than full.)

A couple things to remember, the dough is thick! Crazy thick! It’ll look like this when you’re done mixing but don’t worry. That’s how it’s supposed to look.

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Then get ready to work your stiring muscles! No pain, no gain. Right?

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Looking good.

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Make sure your little cookie dough balls are spread out enough or else you’ll have a solid sheet of cookies. (I say that like it would be a bad thing. Ha!)

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When they come out, they look puffy and undercooked.

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But then they deflate a little bit while they’re cooling.

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And you end up with perfect cookie goodness.

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Before you get to baking, I want to urge to follow Tara on Instagram @tarateaspoon. That’s where you’ll get to see her working on her culinary delights…

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…hanging out with hottie chefs, like Curtis Stone…

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…having cookie throwdowns with her friends (I’ll give you one guess which recipe won!)…

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…and rubbing elbows (or tummies!)  with all kinds of food industry celebs.

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And take note of her oft-used hashtag #wwllt which stands for What Work Looks Like Today. I had no idea what it meant but lots of food industry pros seem to like it so it’s a great hashtag to check out for foodie inspiration.

And don’t forget: Your gluten free friends don’t need to be left out! Just replace the flour with Gluten Free all purpose flour for a perfectly delicious cookie treat.

Happy Baking!

XO

Sue at Home

*With deep sadness I need to tell you that while I was writing this post, Ladies’ Home Journal closed its doors and with that, Tara and I (plus another 33 of my friends and coworkers)  lost our jobs.  I’m trying to stay hopeful that this will be a turning point in my career and that I will move on to bigger and better things. (In fact, maybe you’ll even get more Sue at Home!) But I fear that I will never have a job that I love as much as I loved being the Fashion Editor for LHJ. The kindness of the people that I worked with, the collaborative atmosphere, the quality of the work we produced, and the respect that I felt from everyone around me is a rare thing in business and I feel so lucky to have had that. But I’m hopeful for the future and excited to see what it brings.

I’ll keep you posted on the chapter. And please send positive thoughts my way!

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Sue At Home in Ladies’ Home Journal

1 Apr

As you may know by now, I am the Fashion Editor for Ladies’ Home Journal magazine. So when some of my fellow editors wanted to photograph a story for the April issue about bringing spring color into your home, they thought of my colorful abode and more specifically, my hot pink chair.

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My pink chair (you can read all about it here) has gotten a lot of love in the past. It’s one of my most read posts, most repinned pins, and it was featured on Emily A Clark’s blog, Centsational Girl’s Best of DIY site, and Apartment Therapy’s Room for Color. (Hey look! There it is again over in the sidebar! Click there for more living room pics.)

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But this time, it’s in a magazine. A huge national magazine. (OK. I know that I’m one of the editors so it’s kinda like nepotism but still, I’m happy to be included!)

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So on a chilly day in January, I was pleased to invite two of my fellow LHJ staffers and a small photo team into my home for the shoot (the zero-minute commute was kinda awesome too).

Right away photographer Jennifer Causey and her assistant got to work setting up lights and reflectors and getting my pink chair ready for its close-up. I usually prefer a neutral pillow on the chair but for the purposes of the story, editor Lauren Piro brought lots of bright spring-y options. The yellow one from Target was the clear winner.

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Note: The chair has faded A LOT and is due for another dye job but I just couldn’t get it done before the shoot, So yes, she has had a Photoshop touch up for the LHJ final image you see below. When it gets a little warmer, I’ll be ok with dying on the deck again!

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But the chair wasn’t the only image shot in my house. We also put some artwork from Society6 on my bedroom dresser and styled it with some of my jewelry.

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Do you know what it’s like to have a photo crew, including some of your coworkers, in your bedroom on a Thursday afternoon? It’s weird, people. It’s weird. Luckily, one of those fellow coworkers is my dear friend, our very talented photo director Clare Lissaman, who always knows how to put people at ease on a shoot.

The story also featured my painted kitchen cabinet. It’s one of my favorite DIY projects in my house (you can see it up top in my header collage) but I’ve had such a hard time getting a good shot of it for the blog so that’s why I’ve never written about it.

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The cabinet looks so pretty that I almost don’t notice the fugly countertops!

So how was she able to get that brighter shot in my windowless kitchen? What photo skills does Jennifer have that I don’t have? This big ass light, that’s what! (And I’m sure she has lots of other great photo skills too! But the light helps.)

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That beauty totally brightened up the space.

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I was totally thrilled to be included in the issue and I want to thank my co-workers for including my home and supporting Sue at Home. If you’d like to order a subscription to Ladies’ Home Journal, just click the affiliate link in my sidebar.

With the happy spring weather, I’ve decided to come out of my hibernation and I can’t wait to get some spring projects happening soon. Stayed tuned for our newly painted playroom, a new headboard, a hallway makeover and…drum roll…a complete bathroom renovation!

XO

Sue at Home

A Mid-Century Condo in Palm Beach

16 Mar

This weekend I’m writing to you from a 20th floor balcony in sunny Palm Beach. (Brag much?) The brother of one of my good friends was kind enough to loan us his condo for a girls’ weekend. After I finished swooning over all their amazing vintage furniture finds (I’m not kidding. I gasped and then hugged a credenza when we walked in), I quickly snapped a few pics to share with you. Take a look.

(Sorry for the crappy iPhone pictures. It’s all I had. I’m writing this from the WordPress app on my phone and I can’t figure out how to edit them. I think they’re all a little crooked…which I might just blame on the mojitos!)

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The wall color is Barely Teal by Benjamin Moore (which btw is the same color as my kitchen ceiling which I’ve sadly never shown you. Sorry!). Every person on the trip was trying to figure out a place to put it their homes. It’s just so pretty and soothing.

Thanks again to our hosts for loaning us their beautiful place!!

XO

Sue at Home

A Remarkable Renovation: 43 Church Street in Westborough

3 Mar

Last summer when we were visiting my parents in Westborough, Massachusetts–the town I grew up in (remember I told you about it here and here?)–I drove past this stunning house on Church Street and it stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn’t believe that I had never noticed it before. Well, that’s because it didn’t look like this when I lived there. 43church 225

Back when I lived in Westborough,  it looked more like this.

43 church as it was

Lucky for me, the stunning house had a sign out front that said 43churchst.com. So, I checked it out and found the story of how Michael Fitzpatrick (a very talented wood furniture maker) and his wife, Dr. Jean Keamy, had purchased the house with the intention of renovating it and bringing it back to its former glory. I mean, look how gorgeous it was back in 1880.

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Their website is great and it shows lots of process shots but I was dying to see it inside, so I emailed Michael and asked if he would let me–and the Sue at Home readers–take a peek. He could not have been more gracious and welcoming so the next time I was in Westborough, Pablo and I went to take a look. (Yes, it’s taken me over 6 months to write this post. What can I say, it’s got a LOT of pictures.)

They brought the exterior of the house back to its original style except for the addition of this porte cochere on the side. No need to Google it. “Porte Cochere” translates to Carriage Porch.  (It’s like a fancy carport.)

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Here’s the back of the house.

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As they were building the porte cochere, some birds decided to make it their home so they continued building around the birds and now they’ve got permanent houseguests. See that little square in the picture below? That’s how their little feathered friends get in and out.

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 Michael restored and built reproductions of all the exterior millwork himself. (See more about that in this video.)

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I especially loved the pale blue painted porch ceiling. Let’s go inside, shall we?

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While they respected the aesthetic of the original structure on the exterior, they opted for a more modern interior with an open floor plan and a focus on function. I loved all of the clean simple furnishings.

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The floating stairs–that connect all four levels–let in tons of light.

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This little sitting area connects the living room and kitchen.

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I love how the color of the mid-century chairs is picked up in the kitchen backsplash.

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The center column in the house, which has a small bathroom and an elevator on this floor, also includes this built-in bookshelf. (Note the wood carved grate. Yup – that was made by Michael, too. It’s the details like this that make this house like no other I’ve ever seen.)

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Here’s Michael showing us the diary of Mary White Forbes that they found in the house.  The entries are dated 1850-1857.

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The kitchen is a story itself. Every single shelf and drawer is completely thought out and made for full function.

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The wood veneer is Black Palm from Ecuador, a renewable resource. (Now’s a good time to mention that 80% of the materials that were taken out of the house at the time of demo were recycled to other homes around New England.)

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Adjacent to the kitchen is the dining room. That low table on the right is one of Michael’s designs made for a show at the Fuller Craft museum.

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Check out these small “floorlights” that connect to the basement below. (Remember those. You’ll see them again.)

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These amazing doors (from Thailand, circa 1780) were bought at auction. They lead to…

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…a small music room in the back of the house.

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Now, let’s go downstairs.  This spooky little pod is the entrance to the future darkroom.

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Of course, we had to go inside.  Here’s Pablo on the other side.

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They’re also working on a screening room that hasn’t been furnished yet. And the little space below is the future wine cellar. See those little skylights? Those are the floor panels we saw in the dining room above.

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I can’t get enough of these beautiful steps. Let’s go upstairs again.

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Here’s another one of those Michael Fitzpatrick grates.

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The entrance to the master bedroom.

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Here’s the TV in the bedroom. On the right is a jewelry box that Michael made for his wife as a wedding gift. This house is a fully wired “smart” house. I think the coolest feature is the keypad near the bed where they can put the house to sleep with the touch of a button: the garage locks, all the lights turn off and the thermostat sets to a predetermined temperature. Need the use the bathroom in the middle of the night? No problem. Motion detectors track their way back to bed and turn off the lights as they’re no longer needed.

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Of course the tub is surrounded by wood.

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Now, let’s go all the way to the top floor.  There’s a large TV room that has a balcony.

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The teak woodwork in the upstairs bathroom was my favorite.

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Out on the balcony, we get a better look at those shingles and the stunning millwork.

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And before we leave, we need to take a look at Michael’s wood shop in the back garage. There are lots of plans to renovate this space next.

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One of Michael’s beautiful veneer topped tables.

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Some more tables with mid-century hairpin legs.

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I’d like to thank Michael for the tour of his beautiful home.

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There are so many other rooms that I didn’t show here because they’re yet to be finished so stay tuned to 43churchst.com for Michael’s updates.

XO

Sue at Home

How a Crafting Fail Turned into Something Useful

14 Jan

Last weekend when the girls were begging me to take them to Michael’s to pick up some crafting goodies, I decided we should challenge ourselves to use some of things we already had at home. I took to the attic and found boxes of sticker mosaics they had never finished, bags of beads just begging to be strung, and an old Martha by Mail beading kit.

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I’ve had it for at least 10 years. No joke, I moved this from our NYC apartment, to our townhouse in Union, and then to our house in Westfield. I think I may have attempted it once years ago but it was way too much of a pain in the a$$. Not to be one to give up (even if it takes me 10 years!), I decided to attempt this simple fish. (Please note: this is a kids’ beading kit. But by Martha standards, I think that means that most grown adults will still have trouble doing it.)

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My kids have made a bunch of these kinds of crafts before but none of us had ever attempted anything with beads this small. Well, let me tell you, they suck. I got through the second step and decided to bail. Yup, that’s right. I quit in front of my kids.

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But all was not lost because I figured I could use the beads and wire to make something I’ve needed for a long time: wine charms. Those are the little rings of beads that you can link onto a wine glass stem so I don’t mix up my reisling (yum!) with someone else’s chardonnay (no thank you).

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Once Sophia saw what I was up to and how easy it was (just twist the end in a loop, stick on some beads and make a hook on the other end), she jumped in and helped me.

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Surely, they are very “homemade” looking but I guess that just means that everytime I use them, I’ll remember making them with Sophia. (She even thinks we can hang them on juice box straws for kids’ parties!)

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I even used one of the little bead boxes from the kit to keep them in.

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So Martha Stewart, it’s not what you planned but I think it came out a little more perfect than you could ever imagine.

XO

Sue at Home

P.S. I mean, what was I going to do with that little beaded fish anyway?

Photo Wall or My New Favorite Thing In My House

9 Dec

I first told you about my obsession with oversized photo displays back in October 2012 when I spied this awesome picture from Palihouse on Dilly Dallas.

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Just to recap: I know that displaying personal pictures might not be #1 on every decorators must-do list (in fact, it’s usually on their NO list) but to me personal pictures are the way to keep a home looking, well…personal. And here’s the thing: I take a LOT of pictures. So, instead of picking a few great ones, framing them, hanging them up and calling it a day, I take a lot and then… they sit in my computer (and on Flickr and Shutterfly). The good part is that I don’t have to make any decisions (yeah!) but the bad part is that no one else gets to see them. And that’s just wrong. I mean, how can I keep pictures like these to myself:

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So, I thought long and hard about how to do my photo wall. Should I create photo wallpaper like this Tribeca home by Rinaldi Interiors?

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Nope. Too permanent. I want something that’s changeable. That certainly rules out something like this. I mean, how could I choose just one picture?

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Hmm…maybe a mix of small frames, like this. (Yup, that’s Soph modeling in LHJ!) But, nah. Again, it’s too permanent and too much work to use the huge number of pictures I want to use.

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So, I decided to just cover a wall with pictures. No frames. Nothing permanent. I even thought about painting on some magnetic paint and then using tiny magnets but I figured there was an easier way. Tape. Just little rolls of Scotch tape on the back of each pic. But it was a little more methodical than just tape and pictures. Here is how I made it happen.

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Step 1: Set some rules for the pictures you want to include. Color or black and white? All horizontal, all vertical or a mix of both? Various sizes or just 4×6? Just immediate family, extended family or include friends, too? I decided on:

– color pictures (I mean, how could I go black and white when I’ve got a kid with baby blues like Lily’s?)

– a mix of horizontal and vertical (because I clearly have problems editing)

–  just 4×6 (to keep it to a graphic grid)

– and only immediate family. I know that family part might be confusing but there are other places to display extended family and friends and I wanted to keep this more focused.

Step 2: Order Prints. I took quite a few long nights on the couch going through all my pictures and ordering HUNDREDS of them. I figured that it had been years since I had actually ordered prints so even if some pics didn’t make it into the mix, they were still lots of favorites so it wouldn’t hurt to have some extra prints on hand. (I highly recommend using a print plan on Shutterfly to keep the cost down.) You can imagine my joy when this arrived:

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Step 3: Edit into groups. First I split them into horizontal and vertical pictures and then I created three sub-categories: 1) Sophia without Lily (could include me and Pablo), 2) Lily without Sophia (again, parents are okay), and 3) Miscellaneous (could be just me and Pablo, all 4 of us, just him, just me, or the two girls together). Now I know this sounds slightly insane (or let’s just say it…totally anal)  but there was a reason for the madness. I really wanted to include an equal number of each kid. Because you know they’ll be counting! And when one kid has been around for 8 years and one has only been around for 5, you can end up with an uneven mix.

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Step 4: Use a level to mark your middle line and start taping. I just used one quick roll of scotch tape on the back of each one as I placed them. I tried to keep it balanced with colors and close-ups vs. pulled-back shots. And I tried a balance of posed and candids. And even a good mix of various ages. It looks random but there was a method to the madness.

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I used the level again every few rows to keep myself on track but I just eyeballed the distance between the pictures. Once I had 4 rows of vertical pictures (with 16 in each row), and 4 rows of horizontal (with 11 in each row), I noticed a problem: I had a lot more horizontal left over. So, I added a few extra rows of horizontal on the top and the bottom. And I have every intention of adding more rows over time but don’t tell Pablo: he thinks there are plenty already. But let’s face it; is he really going to fight seeing more pictures of his kids? I think not.

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After I stood back and took a look, I had to move a bunch around to keep it balanced. But once I had them in the places I wanted them in, I retaped each one with a piece in each corner. And there you have it: my new favorite thing in the whole house.

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We love sitting at the dining table and looking at all the awesome memories. And guests really love it too. It’s certainly a conversation piece!

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Let’s take a closer look at some ridiculously geeky stats about the 141 pictures that made the cut:

106 were taken outdoors (that’s 75%!).

There are 56 pairs of sunglasses, 44 bathing suits, 27 hats, 11 Halloween costumes and 5 appearances by Sophia’s beloved silver sequin-covered cardigan.

Almost half were taken close to home in New Jersey or New York, while a whopping 23% of them were taken in Aruba (more on that here and here). Obviously, we like taking pictures on vacation because 19% were in New England and another 19% were in Florida. Nevis and the Bahamas round it out with one each.

I already mentioned that there are 87 pictures of each of the girls. There are 25 of Pablo and only 17 of me. And the reason for that lies here: I took 84% of them.

(Ignore the spiders on the lamp. I took these in October!)

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So, I guess the take-away from those stats is this: I’ll continue to get outside to get some great shots, I’ll never take a vacation without the camera, and I need to give someone else the camera more often.

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So, tell me…how do you display your family pictures? I’m currently working on a display of extended family pictures in our hallway. The plan is to use all black and white photos and solid black frames with mattes. Wish me luck!

XO

Sue at Home

P.S Congrats to Katie who won my Minted giveaway!

Black Window Trim

18 Nov

Are you ready to see my den go through a pretty update? Good. Me too. Reminder: we had a pretty new Suzani-covered ottoman, some painted thrift store dining chairs and a new credenza.

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But the windows? Not so pretty.

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I had considered some kind of window treatment and I never knew what to do so I hit Pinterest for some inspiration. All I needed was to search for “sunroom” to figure it out.

via Pinterest (anyone know the actual source?)

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via Spanish ELLE Decor black trim elle dec

That’s right, folks. We’re painting our gross dirty-looking white-washed window trim black. First, we started out by removing the screens and the crossbars and giving the windows a good scrub from the inside and outside. (I highly recommend an indoor assistant when you’re windexing outside!)

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(Gratuitous photo of Pablo’s guns.)

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I knew the cleaning would help but it was surprised by what a huge difference it made to take off the screen and crossbars so we immediately made a decision to keep the crossbars off after we were done. (The screens will stay off til next spring.) Before we get into the painting, I just wanted to review my favorite painting tools: HANDy Paint Pail with liners, and the Shortcut paintbrush. Just get ’em and thank me later.

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When I got home, I removed all of the window locks and taped off the cranks. The table in my den looked like this hot mess.

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And my grody white-washed windows looked like this.

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Next, I pulled the moulding around the windows off  which left this pretty sight.

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After a  thorough cleaning I was ready to paint. Even just the primer was a very welcome fix!

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In fact, I seriously considered just skipping the black and leaving it all crisp and white. (Doesn’t primer look great sometimes?)

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But I stayed on task and started to add my black paint.

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Another coat and I was ready to put the mouldings and locks back on. Ta da! I love the big impact it makes. What do you think?

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I also popped up to the attic and found an unused Jamie Young lamp that we’ve had for years. (I picked up the shade at Target on clearance for $11.) Pablo loves it and I think it really completes the room.

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And since we’re talking about the den, I thought I’d give you a little bit of an update on the TV placement. I had told you back in this post that it was going to be mounted on the wall above the piano or over the credenza but I pointed out that the wiring would make the credenza option tough. A few of you recommended switching the piano and credenza and though we had ruled that out for various reasons, we decided to give it a try one last time.  Try to visualize this TV on the wall instead of just sitting on the credenza. What do you think? I feel like the credenza looks a little wimpy in that space.

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And I’m not crazy about the piano under that opening either.

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But the bigger problem with this switch is the piano is a lot deeper than the credenza and it kinda wrecks the pass-through to the deck. Here’s a shot with the credenza in place and keep in mind that the piano is about 10 inches deeper so it really juts out into the room. So that rules out moving the piano over there.

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But how about hanging the TV above the credenza? Hmmm…that’s not so great either. If we hang the TV there, you’ll see the side of the hanging mechanism and arm when you walk into the room. Not pretty.

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So, we’re back to the drawing board with the TV. The plan is to hang it above the piano. If it’s there, we can see the TV without making it the focal point of the room. It’s not perfect, I know, but it’ll function. And I’m busy planning a gallery wall above the credenza. Hey, maybe I’ll actually tackle that mantle soon, too!

Just to keep it real folks, here’s what the room looked the other night while the girls zoned out to the TV and Pablo played the piano. I know I’ve got a great looking family but can we discuss that gorgeous black trim on the windows?

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Sue at Home

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