House For Six


Our Home Two Years Later

Deme Crinion4 Comments

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If you're a chronic planner, a creative, or even just a day dreamer, then you're familiar with the constant stream of ideas flowing through your head at all times of the day.  When it comes to our home, I have a running list of ideas for each and every room.  I can't help it, my mind just automatically goes to paint colors and light fixtures.  

But as much as I love tweaking this house to make it a haven for our family, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all that's left undone or yet to-do.  This home definitely isn't the fixer of our last home, but it's enough of a blank slate that it's pretty noticeable which rooms we've touched and which spaces are still waiting for a little love.

When I was working on the new site I hit a road bump when I got to the "Home Tour" page.  This is one of my favorite spots to visit on other home/DIY blogs and I've always had one on mine.  So what to do when your house is very much not an "after" yet?  Celebrate progress, that's what!

As I pulled pics of the house when we first moved in I was shocked at how different some of the rooms are today.  Yes, there's still plenty to do, but we've come a long way in putting our own stamp on this place.  And it's got me excited to keep going!

Here's how things are looking compared to move-in day two years ago, and what we're eyeing for our project list this coming year...

This is our front door/entry.  And evidence of children.

As you come through the front door you walk right into our living room.  We loved the vaulted ceilings and all that glorious natural light.

We did not love the floors or the dated window coverings.  

A look to the right and you'll see our garage door.  This is how we enter the house 99% of the time. 

Our first item of business was to address the floors.  The previous owners had a large dog and while the upstairs carpet was fine, the light carpet on this main level was pretty gross.  We weren't loving those curved steps either.  So, before we started really unpacking we built out the steps and put down some durable new flooring.

The new floors made such a huge difference.  Those rooms instantly felt fresh and updated and the floors have been so much more practical for our young (read: prone to spills and tracked dirt) family. 

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something with the area that juts out into the living space.  We went bold with a deep navy and I've never regretted it (color is Volcanic Ash by Valspar).  

With such a dark accent wall, we went pretty light on the remaining walls.  This room gets such fantastic natural light and it's my favorite spot to drink my morning coffee.  Well... sip, get interrupted, reheat, then sip again....repeat 5 times....

After years with empty walls and family pics in boxes (or digital files on my computer) we finally put together a family photo gallery with some floating shelves

This huge armoire was a Craigslist score and it's on my paint radar this year!  I'm sure I will be polling you all for color choices because my indecision is ridiculous. It houses some smaller musical instruments, music books, and photo albums.

We carried the navy wall color into the dining room, just off the living room.  

We sold our old dining set on craigslist and swapped it for a round one, added some open storage and removed the lamp shades from the chandelier - simple changes but ones that really gave this space a fresh feel.  And clearly I need some updated pics of this room #merrymerry. 

One of my favorite updates happened back by that garage door/entry.  We ripped the bar out of this closet, mounted a ton of hooks, and magically the coats stay off the floor.  Usually.

We took the new floors into the laundry room, but haven't really touched the space since.  I'm hoping to address some basic functional issues in here this year:  a shelf over the washer/dryer and wall storage for cleaning tools (vacuum, mop, etc).  We also need to paint and do something with those cabinets.

And then there's the very green great room.  Our main level is one big circle, so you can come into this space through the dining room or by the garage door.   It really had so much potential, but also some challenges for furniture placement (hello, giant counter cutting the room in half). 

And that range hood.  My 6'4" husband literally has to bend down to cook at the stove.  I don't think countertops or a backsplash are in the cards this year, but painting the cabinets and ripping out that hood are high on our list!

While we're at it, we'll probably ditch the track lighting.  We already swapped out the ceiling fan for a flush mount and it offers plenty of light.

I wasn't sure how to set up this space, but once we let go of this room as a homeschool space and finally embraced it as a family room, it really changed the way we used the house.  We spend almost all of our family time here, and it's been a great space to host friends. I was desperate to ditch the green (which read a whole lot more neon in person), and we finally got a less abrasive coat of blue on the walls.  

It was a good fix at the time but I never loved it.  The kids wanted color; I wanted neutral.  Even with that serene blue,  the room still felt really dark by the fireplace, but then...

...a blessing in disguise. a huge leak caused us to rip up all the floors.  It prompted us to jump on a few other projects (like white washing the fireplace) and now we've resumed the saga of which wall color will make everyone happy.  Currently, undecided.

Upstairs you'll find 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  

Originally we had the boys bunked up in one room, Mia in another, us in the master, and the extra room was my office craft space.  

We said goodbye to the yellow, beefed up the trim, and ditched the half shutters.

Then a little lady joined our family.  So we traded the desks for a crib and had fun transforming it into a girly nursery to welcome home our newest bambina.

The other princess in this family started with a very green room that's now a pale pink.  This  room has seen at least five different furniture arrangements, that never really worked until we eliminated a large piece of furniture and combined her bed and dresser into one. #IKEAtotherescue

My mini hoarder has worked so hard to pare down her things and we're almost done making this her own special space. 

Purple was not going to fly in our boys' shared bedroom.  So, we quickly got up a more masculine color.

These beds are from James' childhood but the movers lost the base/support pieces in our cross country move....older pieces not easily replaced.  Since the room is on the small side we decided to bunk them up.  We're working on making it a cool reading/sleeping spot for them and I obviously owe you some updated pics of this room!

Our master is a complete blank slate.  We slept on a mattress for the first few months here.  

We finally added a bed and moved in a smaller desk when my office morphed into a nursery. And then we neglected her. She became the stash-zone when company was coming and a lot of those piles never left.   At the end of last year I knew we had to reclaim this space.  We did a little furniture shuffling, a little purging, and paint is going up this weekend.  I've been collecting things for this room for awhile and had grown up talk with myself about finally doing something with them.  I'm so excited to give this space some long overdue attention!

Finally, the garage.  It has great storage, and for reasons I can not explain, all of our stuff is piled against the walls and nothing in the cupboards/shelves.  I don't even know.  As soon as it's warm enough, we're all over it.  We have a few lingering boxes to unpack and I really want to get this area purged and organized for summer. 

While I do have specific areas I want to work on this year, I think more than anything I want to stop avoiding the hard stuff.  When it comes to our home, it's easy for me to take on a skewed perspective.  Even though I love a project that addresses form and function, I can easily get caught up in all the pretty stuff when I need to be doing the dirty work of cleaning out a closet.  

For the coming year I thought about those areas that I've been avoiding.  The areas that drive the other members of my family bonkers (not necessarily me).  I tried to think about the best time to tackle them and avoid flashbacks to painting cabinets in the dead heat of summer.  So while I'm putting some of the house fluffing projects on hold for a bit, I'm getting excited about facing some of these giants.  Not necessarily because it's going to be loads of fun, but because I know how good it will feel to buckle down and do the work.  Nothing has given us more satisfaction in our home that clearing out the excess and paring down to the stuff we truly love, need, and use.  I hope that we can eventually get there with the entire house.  So...

Finish the unfinished.  Touch the untouched.  Use what we've gathered. 

That about sums it an extra long, billion picture format ;)  

*Does anyone else have house projects on the agenda this year?  How do you prioritize projects in your home?

Our [DIY] Advent Activity Calendar...With Free Printables!

Deme Crinion2 Comments
Welcome to December!  I'm not quite sure how we landed here, but my pumpkins are looking awfully out of place.  I'm trying my best not to get swept up in the hustle and am taking my sweet time decking our halls....or undecking them from fall?  Basically, I'm feeding my inner procrastinator.

Right now my living room looks like the zone of a throw down between the Pilgrims and Santa's elves.  The bins of Christmas decorations are halfway unpacked and the fall bin is only partially packed up. I'll get to the pumpkins eventually, but not before we set up our favorite Advent tradition!
DIY Advent activity calendar

I literally pulled this together in 20 minutes this morning.  I know there are super cute and fancy ones out there, but if you're not in the market for one or want to try your hand at creating your own, let me just encourage you to go for it.

They can be as creative or simple as you like.  Heck, you can even just tape the activity for each day on the fridge.  The fun and beauty of these are not in the setup, but in their purpose.

The number one reason I love an Advent activity calendar is that by choosing certain activities for each day I can really shape our Advent experience as a family.  If I feel like we're getting a little too caught up in the marshmallow topped cocoa and growing Christmas lists, then I can add in a few service activities or something that will redirect our focus back on the manger.

I was able to make ours using mostly supplies I had on hand (old frame, twine, Sharpies, envelopes), and found the sweet clothespins and notepad at the Target Dollar spot.

What you'll need...
DIY Advent activity calendar

What to do...
DIY Advent activity calendar
I liked the way 5 across looked.

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

I chose to use envelopes for our calendar, but you really can use socks as mini stockings, small bags, or even just a folded piece of paper.
DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

I could only find one package of these green buffalo check clothespins...
DIY Advent activity calendar I spruced up some plain ones with red stripes using a Sharpie.
DIY Advent activity calendar

I needed a spot where the baby wouldn't get to it, so I pulled up a small bench next to the piano and called it good.
DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

Except that she totally got to it anyway..
DIY Advent activity calendar

This list continues to grow, but here are some of our favorite activities from year's past....

-Bake holiday cookies
-Deliver baked goodies to neighbors
-Wrap gifts
-Watch a holiday movie with popcorn and hot cider
-Clean out closets and gather donations
-Adopt a family through the giving tree
-Visit a live nativity
-Go to a holiday concert
-Take a horse and carriage ride through downtown
-Make cocoa to-go and drive to see the Christmas lights
-Say a family rosary or decade
-Make handmade cards to mail to family/friends
-Pick out a Christmas tree
-Decorate the tree
-Build a snowman
-Shovel our neighbor's sidewalks
-Make something special for the postman
-Take family pictures
-Address Christmas cards
-Go out for ice cream
-Help decorate the inside of the house
-Help decorate the outside of the house
-Holiday craft night
-Go sledding
-Have a sleepover by the Christmas tree (usually on Christmas Eve for us)
-Visit friends at a nursing home
-Take food down to the local foodbank
-Serve at a food pantry
-Write someone a thoughtful note and deliver it
-Write a letter to Santa/St. Nick
-Read your favorite Christmas books
-Deliver gifts to your teachers
-Have a dance party to your favorite holiday tunes
-Make a birthday cake for Jesus
-Write a note/draw a picture for your pastor

I made a couple of blank templates you're welcome to download to write down your own activities (seen below).  Just click on the color link below the image for a free printable version.
DIY Advent activity calendar

Tips for success:

-Never seal your envelopes (or whatever you're using to hide the activity paper).  If something unexpected comes up or you want to move a certain activity to another day when the weather will cooperate, you want to be able to do that without tearing apart your calendar. #askmehowIknow

-Look at your family calendar when planning events.  If the kids have a Christmas concert through their school, or another holiday event already scheduled, I include those as part of our activity calendar.  I write down the event and slip the paper into the scheduled day.  All others I wait to put in the envelope until the night before (see above).

-Have a few backups.  We can include "build a snowman" but that obviously depends on the weather.  Having a few similar activities as a backup will help you avoid scrambling.

-Keep school days easy.  Since there's still homework and regular work schedules, we save the bigger activities for weekends and Christmas break...which also allows us to build up to the big celebration.

It's an easy tradition that we've all come to love!  Does anyone else do an Advent activity calendar?  What are some of your favorite activities?  What other traditions do you look forward to during this time of year?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Juju Hat Inspired DIY, in Which I Create an Eyeball

Deme CrinionComment
Just for the record, this was supposed to be a legit tutorial in which I offer you a super cost effective way to bring the amazingness of a juju hat into your own home.  But it's not exactly that.

I feel like juju hats must have been a trend I totally missed the first time around.  But no matter.  They seem to be making a come back and I got all excited because who doesn't want a burst of fabulous feathers on their wall?  My husband, that's who. No one!

If you are unfamiliar, a juju hat is actually a headdress made of the most beautiful feathers woven into a raffia base.

Image via House Seven Blog

Gorgeous.  A simple, beautiful statement and a great textural element.  Albeit a very, very pricey element.

I had this big open space on my fireplace, so I thought why not make my own big black feathery adornment for Halloween?  And I did.
DIY juju hat

I couldn't afford real feathers.  Even DIY's I looked up were still quite costly.  But I could afford feather boas from the craft store for $3.99 a pop at 40% off. (Yes, I'm still on a personal spending freeze, but I had set aside a little bit last month for a couple of things I would be working on this month).DIY juju hat

The conversation that ensued the afternoon it was hung above our mantle, confirmed that what I created was not exactly what I intended...

Sully (5 yrs old): "Look, Dad!"

James: " that the project you were helping Mommy with yesterday?"

Sully:  "No.  She made an eyeball!  And she made it all by herself!"

DIY juju hat

I knew I wasn't crazy about it, but ever since Sully deemed it an eyeball I can't see it as anything else.

Should you attempt your own (juju hat or fuzzy eyeball), here are some things you should know....

-This project makes the biggest mess ever.  If James was home during this little craft sesh, he may have died.  There were feathers everywhere.  The regular feathers, but lots of super fine little teeny-tiny feathers that I'm still finding all over the floor, the table, my clothes...everywhere.  If you want to avoid this delightful scenario, never ever cut a feather boa.

-If you are brave enough to cut it into smaller pieces and then attach (like I did with the white) you will need more feathers than you think.
DIY juju hat

If you keep the boa intact and just wrap it around (like I did with the black - much less noticeable with darker colors), You won't need as much.  Although I did try to leave as few gaps as possible for optimal fluff factor.
DIY juju hat

-Go BIG.  In this case, the bigger the better.  Especially if the outer layer sort of blends into the wall color.
DIY juju hat
Mine is way undersized and I'm afraid adding another layer to the outside will only contribute to the eyeball effect or take it more of a bulls-eye route.  I'm sure that won't stop me from trying though.

-Even though it's sort of comical, and not nearly a close replica of a true juju hat, I don't hate it.  I really wanted all black but they didn't have enough black boas.  And when you're working off a clearance rack, you go with what's there.  I think I might even love it if it was all black.  So much so that I might endure the feather debacle one more time to fix it. Maybe.
DIY juju hat

-I wasn't sure how to handle the center so I grabbed one of these.
DIY juju hat

I bent a paper clip and glued it to the center before I added the last boa, and attached the clip onto that.
DIY juju hat

I think it would have been fine without it, but I liked the way it finished it off and was slightly different than the rest of the feather pattern.
DIY juju hat

OK that picture wasn't helpful.  It's not easy to photograph black feathers.  #firstworldproblems

-On the plus side, this project was literally light as a feather, so I just used a command strip hook on the fireplace and glued a paperclip to the back of my circular cardboard base to hang it.
DIY juju hat

DIY juju hat

It didn't pack the elegant Halloween punch I had in mind, but since it does read like an eyeball maybe we can put it in the "creepy" Halloween category?

At least the rest of the room is feeling more like fall, sans the creep factor..... 
DIY juju hat

DIY juju hat

kantha throw

I think we finally have this part of the room figured out and here's a sneaky peak at what's happening on the other side of the room.  Baby gates and all.
DIY juju hat

By the time we finally finished the bones of this space and were ready to move onto details, the holiday season was a knockin'.  I wanted this room to have a  neutral base, so that I could easily change things up for the seasons.  So, far it's been perfect.  Not perfect as in perfectly styled (did you see the baby fence?), but perfect as in it only takes a few changes via pillows and throws to give the room a totally different feel.  I think the next few months are going to be a lot of fun.

*Pssst!  Did you catch the Giveaway we're running this week?  TWO amazing prints of your choice from Hatch Prints Shop, AND a gift card of your choice to either IKEA or Target.  Something to help make things feel a little more like home in your casa.  Hope over to this post to enter!  Ends Friday at midnight.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Picture Ledges, Photo Gallery Tips, and a GIVEAWAY!!

Deme Crinion35 Comments
This giveaway is officially closed - congratulations Rebecca Rooney! Check your email, Girl!

I'm embarrassed to admit how long it's been since we've had family pictures up on the walls.  Or on a nightstand.  Or even tucked into a wallet.

Where they have been, is multiplying on my computer for years. Which made the task of actually sifting through and printing them even more intimidating.

But this big open space above our couch was calling for attention, and I felt like maybe it was time to add some evidence of the family who actually lives here. Since we tend to have a lot of rooms in progress, it can be easy to put off the finishing details of a room.  Those usually come towards the end, but they're what gives a space personality...makes it relatable and meaningful.

I finally decided to stop waiting and have been intent on adding some personality to our home through those details over the past month, finished rooms or not. OK, all our rooms are pretty much in the 'not' category, but the living room just nudged a bit closer to 'done'.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

This project all started with a long RIBBA picture ledge from IKEA that used to hang in my office, now the babe's nursery.  I'm intimidated by gallery walls (which would have been a great space filler) but a picture ledge gallery seemed more doable.  Little measuring, no nails.  I could handle that.

But I needed a ledge about twice as long as the RIBBA to span the majority of the couch. Observe one RIBBA, alone and afraid:

Heeeey......maybe I could shove two of them together to make one long ledge...but what about the seam in the middle?  Could I caulk it and paint it?  

Why yes.  Yes, I could.  Because someone smarter than me had already done it (check out the ledges Jenny did in her mom's home here.)

I made the trip to IKEA to stock up on 3 more RIBBA ledges, and had a minor panic attack when I discovered they were being replaced with the MOSSLANDA.  It was like a flashback to the traumatic news of the discontinued EXPEDIT.  But lucky for us, the MOSSLANDA  turned out to be a great upgrade....and a steal at just $9.99 for the large ledge (a $5.00 price cut from the RIBBA ledge)!

The MOSSLANDA is a bit chunkier than the RIBBA but keeps its slim/sleek footprint.  I really liked the more substantial feel, but especially loved the addition of this groove down the middle.  It acts like a stopper for the frames layered in the back, leaving space to add another frame in front.  It would be a really nice feature if you wanted to create a display with plates or something similar.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

We did some quick measuring, some checking with the level, and lots of eyeballing. We ended up with the bottom of the lower ledge  12 inches from the top of the couch, and 18 inches between the front lip of the lower ledge and the bottom of the upper ledge.

As I perused some of my favorite pins, most picture ledge galleries that caught my eye were black and white (both the frames and prints).  I also liked white mats and preferred the look of a thin black frame vs. a wide edge.  

Fortunately, I had a few black and white frames on hand, but certainly not enough to fill the ledges.  I really needed to keep this project from becoming too costly and was excited to find these frames (holding our baby girl announcement below) on the end cap at Target for $3.00 a pop.  I grabbed a few 11x14 (matted to fit an 8x10) and a couple 8x10 frames (matted to fit a 5x7).
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

 After playing musical frames for a day, we finally had it.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

I wanted it to feel balanced with the various sized frames, but not too cluttered.  I kept the prints mostly black and white, but did work in a few color prints (most of which are not super saturated and have black/white somewhere in them). 

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

From my uber-extensive frame tweaking experience, I walked away with a few simple tips for success: 

-Large frames are key to keeping the group from feeling too busy.  I recommend 2-3 large frames on each ledge.

-Place the large frames first, then work the smaller frames in around them.

-Balance elements.  I made sure I didn't spread load one side with color prints and the other with black and white.  I also tried to vary the frame orientation for a good spread of horizontal/vertical, and to equally disperse the few white frames I had among the black.

-Shift the frames so that they aren't perfectly aligned with any of the frames above/below.

When I did this it looked good, but something still felt off.  Until I tried this: make sure that none of the gaps line up vertically.

See this?  There's a gap between two frames and if you trace a line to the ledge below there is another gap right below it. 
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

So, I slid one of the top frames over and now if you trace a line up from that gap on the bottom ledge, your eye hits a frame.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery tips

Just follow that rule of thumb throughout.  Wherever there's a gap between frames, make sure the vertical line leads to a frame, not another gap.   All the gaps in the arrangement below have a frame along the same vertical line on the opposite ledge.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery tips
I suppose you could just layer the frames without any gaps all the way through, but I felt like a few spaces helped the whole thing breath.  If frames could do that.

I tried to include a baby, toddler, and current individual pic of each kiddo and then a few of our family favorites.  I was so happy seeing these pictures in no-kidding frames and not the screen of my computer.  I loved the black and white frames, but a few other items made this area just a bit more special.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

I've been loving neutral rooms with a small pop of bold color, so I thought this mostly black and white set up might benefit from the same idea.  This print from Jones Design Company was the perfect touch of color and whimsy.  And it really captured the heart of these photos.  The time goes by so fast and it's those little things, their little way, that I want to remember.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery
(*I have not yet caulked and painted the seams but will update once I do!)

I had a gap on the lower shelf but didn't have another frame.  This horseshoe was a special gift from my inlaws and perfectly filled the space on the wall.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

My friend Katrina recently opened the most beautiful hand lettering and art shop on Etsy  Hatch Prints . She has so many amazing designs that it took me forever to place an order because I wanted. them. all.  This one seemed to be the perfect mantra for us.  I hope those that witness the love between our family, also witness the Gospel in action. Every time.
IKEA picture ledges, photo gallery

I also snagged this print from her shop, and can't wait to find a spot for it in my kitchen.
Picture ledges and photo gallery tips

 Gorgeous right!? Her prints are striking online, but even better in person.  The print quality is so fantastic they would look good in or out of a frame.  

The best news is that she's giving away two gorgeous prints (one 8x10 and one 5x7) to one of you!  Just check out Katrina's lovely shop and leave a note in the comments with your favorite print.  You can also use the code HOUSEFORSIX at checkout for an extra 15% off your Hatch Prints order through the end of October. I have several of these beauties in mind for Christmas gifts, but you'll find so many great options for newly arrived babies, and even loss.

You can follow Katrina behind the scenes and get shop news over on the gram and FB.  But don't miss out on the goodness of her blog Cedars and Tiny Flowers either!

And what the heck, lets throw in a $30 IKEA OR Target gift card (your choice) from me to help get you started on your own gallery wall, or putting those personal touches on your home.  That's one 8x10 art print of your choice, one 5x7 art print of choice, and one gift card to one mothership, for one lucky reader.  Good luck, ducks!!!

*Giveaway will run through Friday, Oct 30th at 11:59pm EST.  Winner will be chosen using and notified via email. 

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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