Tuesday, July 30, 2013

From English Ivy Overload to a Rock Garden

When we bought this house, the landscape was pretty overgrown taking over the house.  The original owner liked to golf, not be in the yard, and it was evident.  We have a long way to go before we have it all in shape again, but we've been working on it diligently over the past few years.  One of the problems of the original landscape was the proliferation of English Ivy.

English Ivy is not indigenous to North America and it can be really invasive where it's allowed to grow free.   At our house, it was allowed to grow free in the beds next to the east side of the house.

It was everywhere...it actually grew ON AND UNDER OUR SIDING!  When we fixed our siding and painted the house the first year we lived here, I literally pulled out yards of the stuff from under the bottom of our siding.  And I had to sand the rest of it off from the visible parts of the siding.  You can see a little bit of the problem in the picture below. 
English Ivy overload.  Note the ivy trails growing up the side of the house.

The landscape is taking over the house!
Despite growing up in the country on 11 acres, learning to drive a tractor years before I could drive a car, and having parents who are amateur farmers, I am not confident with vegetation.  Worms, bugs, and critters in general scare me.  Circular saws don't scare me but the sight of a mouse will have me shaking in my boots.  Good thing I have a desk job. 

But here I was--in my new gardening gloves and determined to win over the English Ivy.  After I pulled away some of the English Ivy, I discovered a rock wall!  Who knew?  It was buried under the mess.  And I didn't see any critters so I thought I could proceed.  (Note the unpainted wood--we were in the process of repairing our siding in this picture.)

Newly discovered rock wall.
I dug up the rest of the English Ivy.  While digging, I discovered quite a few rocks including one very large one!  I "left the large one for my husband to get out" while I continued looking for rocks.  (Sorry, honey!)  It was then that I decided to do a rock garden.

We have a lot of deer here and we have a little bit of a problem with "deer-resistant" plants so it isn't quite as lush as I would like, but here is what it looks like today:

Going up the stairs from the patio.

View looking from the patio towards the front of the house.  Groovy light fixture:-)

Pretty close-up of pretty flowers

Note the giant rock that I made my husband dig dug out

We have a mix of phlox, impatiens (something keeps eating those), petunias, chicks and hens (remind me of my grandmother) and some other flowering geranium ground cover.  I'll keep adding to it next year but so far, it's MUCH better than that despicable ivy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to mix traditional furniture in a modern house

Do you have furniture that maybe isn't your style anymore but it has sentimental value?

Or are you just trying to save a little money by using what you have instead of buying new?

We had those challenges recently when we redecorated my stepdaughter's bedroom.  We had a full-size bed that fit perfectly in the room and used to be mine, and my mother's before me.  It also happens to be FRENCH PROVINCIAL--*gasp!*.

We also had my husband's childhood dresser that fit perfectly in the room-I don't even know what style it is but it was traditional, not mid-century modern.

We are also on a budget and didn't want to buy new furniture for this room if we didn't have to.  The room is used by my stepdaughter when she comes every other weekend and it's also used as a guest room when we have relatives and friends in town.

Before I go much further, here is a before picture of the room from when the previous owners had decorated it:

"Before" picture

It's not great but it's the only picture I have of the room from "before".  The original owners had decorated it for their grand-daughter and it was really, really sweet.  The color scheme was pink and mint-green.  But very "country cottage" and it seemed really out of place in this house.

This room actually had really nice, creamy white wall:wall carpet in here.  It was very high quality and pretty new.  After living here for about two weeks, my 13 year old stepdaughter decided she didn't feel well and she took some Pepto Bismol, unbeknownst to us.  Well, it didn't help and she ended up barfing all over the carpet.  Ugh.

I had no idea of this before, but Pepto Bismol has red dye that doesn't come out of carpeting.  We had the professionals come and they couldn't save the carpet.  So we had to rip it out.  Fortunately, our entire house has hardwoods under the carpets.  Pristine hardwoods that have never seen the light of day before!

So here is the room now after fresh coats of paint on the walls, trim, closet doors and window:

Much better.

Looking into the Hallway.

Freshly painted closet doors.

Corner nook

We have a real mix of things going on in this room but it turned out great!  It's one of my favorite rooms in the home.

Here are my top tips for mixing traditional furniture into your modern home:

1:  Pick Modern Paint Colors: 

We chose modern colors for our walls and for our furniture.  Depending on what color your furniture is, you may be able to just paint the walls.  Our furniture's finish had seen better days so we opted to paint them.  It also helped to create a more cohesive look in the room.

Our trim in the whole house is Benjamin Moore Decorators White, which is the truest white I could find.  The walls in this room are BM Nimbus Gray, which is actually pretty blue.  We also chose to paint the furniture a modern color--BM Chelsea Gray, which is my favorite gray with a lot of brown undertones.  We also painted the walls in the powder room and the cabinets in the butler's pantry this color.

French Provincial Bed Painted Chelsea Gray

 2.  Pick Modern Textiles--Fabrics and Rugs.

We chose modern drapes and bedding for this room.  The quilt was made by my mother but it is also very modern.  The drapes are from Ikea (sad to see they don't seem to sell these anymore--they are amazing!) and the comforter is from West Elm. 

The other bedding is pretty modern--the bedskirt is a simple ticking stripe that we had left over from another house and the carpet was an old Crate and Barrel striped wool carpet that I had rolled up in the basement.

Ikea drapes

3.  Add in Modern Accessories

I added a modern round mirror above the dresser, modern lamps, artwork, and a very vintage modern tulip chair.  It's an eames knockoff that I found on craigslist a few months ago.  Layered with a sheepskin, it's the perfect teenage girl's chair.

And there you have it--so don't be afraid to mix up your furnishing a little bit  It adds personality, depth, and character to your home.  You don't have to get rid of things you love just because your decorating style has changed a bit.