Bookshelves

Did you know that the number of bookshelves in your home can predict your kid’s success at school?

A study by a team of Stanford and University of Munich researchers shows that parents who own two bookshelves raise kids who do better in school. Whoa.

And with that, here’s why you should absolutely read books out loud to babies.

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Do you still read paperbacks and hardcovers or do you rely on tablets and e-readers?

 

 

Layered Rugs

I’ve been on the hunt recently for a new rug and I noticed that a few photos have really caught my eye with one thing in common: layering multiple rugs over one another.

emily henderson layered rugs in joanna goddard living room

Stylist Emily Henderson explains “the other rug was added/layered to give the boys more of a designated play area (and to engage that corner) – it’s plush and VERY kid friendly. You could hide blood, playdough and all sorts of bodily liquids in that bad boy and not be able to see it.”

I love our ivory shag rug from Home Depot (it was such a deal at $120 for an 8×10 that I seriously couldn’t not get it) because it was neutral enough to ground the room but the walkway between the sofa and the coffee table is seriously worn down from foot traffic and it looks dirty.  Gross.  So, I’m wondering if I could get a smaller rug and layer it on top?  But then I wonder if a rug layered on top of a shag rug would look funny. Seems it may need to be the other way around.  Hmmm…

I don’t know that I’d go as overboard as they did with so many different rugs but I do love the look of the recycled sari silk rug.

cb2 layered rugs

Do you like the look of layered rugs?  Have a rug you want to rave about and recommend?  Here are more that I love. 

 

P.S. Mumbles is back on his “we need a recliner” kick so I need to find a stylish one, quick.  I love the look of navy paired with the caramel brown leather like in the photo above – complements the grey sofa (which we have) perfectly!  Maybe I could reupholster Jane in a navy velvet or something…

What I Want for My First Mother’s Day

What do I want for my first Mother’s Day? A bar. Seriously. And, no, not because being a mom has driven me to booze. (Well, not totally…)

At an impromptu dinner party with friends the other night (not sure if ordering in, eating off paper plates and telling people to eat on the couch constitutes as a “dinner party” but just go with it, okay?) I realized that we don’t have a great set up for hosting a party that allows guests to serve themselves a beverage. These were my best girlfriends, though, so I had no reservations telling them to open up my cupboards to find themselves a glass – and some of them even did so without my instruction. But for the guests that don’t know you well enough to rifle through your cabinets without judgement (“oh you keep your baby food near your dog food, huh?” – um, they’re both our children, so yeah. “3 half-used bottles of Nyquil?” – Dude, the last thing you ever don’t want to have when you need it is Nyquil. Am I right? “A whole shelf full of seaweed snack packs?!” – In my defense, those things only come in packs of like 80 at Costco and they’re so dang good!)

Soooo, back to that bar. Right now we’ve got that cute little brass & glass vanity table I scored at Goodwill in the entryway. It’s cute, I love it. But it’s also not very stable and it’s purely for decorative purposes and the occasional pocket dump. (side note: I did intend for this to become a little bar cart/table and planned to paint the back of the mirror with chalkboard paint so I could write out fun phrases like “Cheers!” or the cocktail of the night…but that hasn’t happened yet. And, also, the table is a bit wobbly so I don’t feel comfortable with ten liquor bottles all grouped on top). Thinking that Declan will be crawling and trying to pull himself up pretty soon here, I’d like something a little sturdier in this area and a bar totally fits the bill. It’ll also free up some space on our open kitchen shelving units so we can get the loose glass bottles out of there, away from curious baby fingers.

Here’s what I was looking for…

Color/Style:

  • Medium toned wood to coordinate with our rustic coffee table from West Elm and the reclaimed wood fireplace mantel.
  • Industrial/modern to counterbalance all the wood tones from aforementioned and the floor.
  • Black to complement the inside of the fireplace and the dining room chandelier.
  • White, to be safe. (but then if the white didn’t go well with the white walls, we’d have to paint a HUGE wall…so maybe not.)

Size:

  • Less than 50 inches wide, which rules out a lot of sideboard/buffet style furniture pieces.
  • Height was less of a restriction because it’d be against a really tall wall but we were being conscious of the carbon monoxide detector and thermostat, both on that wall.
  • Since the adjacent hallway is the entryway and the other side is the dining room, it’s a spot that gets a ton of traffic so we also didn’t want something too deep that would protrude off the wall too much.
  • Something hefty that will hold up to toddler abuse later on (and will need to be affixed to the wall in case of toppling by toddler or earthquake).

Function:

  • Storage for tall/irregular-shaped liquor bottles (we already have wine storage underneath our dining room table – though I’m not going to say we couldn’t always use more!).
  • A handy spot to pour drinks that’s open enough to encourage guests to self serve.
  • Cubbies, drawers, shelves or racks to organize miscellaneous barware such as wine/bottle openers, cocktail napkins, toothpicks, serving bowls, an ice bucket, cocktail shaker, glasses and stemware.
  • Enclosed storage to keep glasses and stemware less dusty.

Findings:

West Elm is usually my first go-to because most everything there is just about my style.  This is from the same collection as our coffee table but it’s too short and only has shelves inside, which doesn’t offer the versatile storage options we need.  I was also really drawn to the drama of the Parquetry Armoire, which could totally work as a bar cabinet by removing the hanging bar at the top. But, it just wasn’t right.

The Swig Mini Bar from CB2 gets great reviews and has a simple, clean style that I’m drawn to – plus it comes in white and gray, both fantastic options. But, it was a bit underwhelming and still gave the impression that my guests would have to go digging through the cabinet (most likely crouching down to see the contents inside) to find what they want.

I like the simple design of the Victuals Grey Bar from Crate & Barrel, and I especially like that it has legs off the floor a little. While I didn’t originally set out for grey as a color option, our sofa is a dark charcoal color and we do love grey – in fact, if our bar ever moved from the entryway to the kitchen, it would fit right in with our lower cabinets.  But, this style of cabinet still felt a little too awkward to just open up for guests.  Though there’s a small little pull out tray for mixing up drinks, it feels a little dinky, and I also don’t like the idea of open doors just swaying about, especially with contents stored in them.

Crate & Barrel seems to really get that people like to drink and to do it in style.  The Bourne Bar Cabinet is a sleek midcentury modern style – I am especially swooning over those brass pulls and if I mentioned to Kevin that it even remotely looked like it could belong in Don Draper’s office, he’d buy it for me in a heartbeat.  But, the storage seems small and the space beneath the cabinet seems wasted. It would, however, make for a great little tuck-away office, with space to pull up a chair and a slot in the back for cord management.  Add that bottle of scotch and Mad Men it up!

So, after scouring the internet, here are my top three contenders:

clive-bar-cabinet crate & barrel

The Clive Bar Cabinet from Crate & Barrel does seem like a Clive, doesn’t he?  Tall, handsome, a little rugged. I love him.  The reclaimed wood pieces and iron would pull the room together to create a nice little triangle of pieces along with our coffee table and the mantel, and the iron frame is just off the floor so it’s not wood furniture on wood floor. (That’s a lot of wood.)  Pull-down shelves give guests the go-ahead to grab themselves a glass and pour a drink from the bottles provided in the center, but the bottom closed cabinet can still tuck away things that aren’t readily needed.  Plus, the open shelf at the top allows space for a few styled pieces like a serving bowl and plant, plus it’s open to make room for our in-a-tricky-spot carbon monoxide detector and thermostat – we could easily hide them behind a plant and still have easy access to change the temp. The only downside, as you may have guessed, is the whopping price tag on this bad boy (as BFOTBM always says, “champagne taste, beer budget.” And, in this case, it’s so, so true!)  That aside, I think he’s perfect.  One reviewer (which, now I can’t see the reviews online…fishy…) mentioned that the lower pull-down shelf is too low to be convenient for most folks so I need to take a trip to South Coast Plaza to get a little face time with Clive before we go steady.

clyde bar pottery barn

 

After Clive, the Clyde Bar from Pottery Barn comes in a close second.  Maybe first. I’m fickle.  Clyde looks like a small workhorse, but functional he is!  I was pretty much sold on this guy when I saw that Pottery Barn has ingeniously crafted the cabinet doors to completely wrap around to the side (out of the way – yeah!) and open up to invite guests to come on up and make themselves a cocktail.  That’s just what I wanted, Clyde, thanks! An added bonus is that the top flips up too, providing an extra spot for displaying goods.  The downside to that is that if you’ve got any decorative items living up on top of the cabinet when it’s not in use, that stuff will have to find a new home before guests come over. Hmmm…I’m not sure what to do about Clyde. I pretty much thought I’d found my perfect bar mate but I called around and no Pottery Barn stores have him in store for me to look at.  The dimensions seem very compact but that might be a good thing for that wall — I don’t want this to be a totally overwhelming piece of furniture and since Clyde doesn’t have any glass, legs or open shelving, he’s a dense chunk of black rectangle when he’s all closed up.

patchwork secretary west elm

Lastly, if you know me at all, you probably know that I’ve been dying over the gorgeous Patchwork line of furniture from West Elm for ages. I so, so want the Secretary to work — it’s got the drop-down cabinet and the mix of wood and white, brass handles…totally gorgeous. The con side of the list on this one is pretty short: I don’t love that the left cabinet door must stay open to access where we’d store glasses and barware – it’ll block the entryway hallway and also means that everything else in that cabinet will be visible.  So, yeah, only pretty stuff goes in there.  And, if I’m being honest, I’m a tad concerned that all the different wood colors may be a bit too busy since it’ll be the first thing you see when you walk in the door, and also because it’s the transition piece of furniture between our living room/dining room/entryway.  That’s a lot of pressure for one piece of furniture.

Which one would you pick? Have any other recommendations for me?  What do you want for Mother’s Day?  

 

P.S. For more bar carts and furniture (and drink recipes!), check out my Libations board on Pinterest.

Kitchen Table Roundup

Mumbles and I moved into our new home over the weekend and one of the things I’m most excited about is the custom banquette/kitchen nook we had built in front of the windows in our new kitchen. I can’t wait to enjoy a cup of coffee and enjoy the view out back! In our first home, the kitchen, dining and living rooms were all pretty much the same space but now that our dining and living rooms are on the other side of the kitchen wall, it will be nice to have this area as a designated hangout spot while we cook dinner together.

I ordered this fabric to make cushions (and scored a huge slab of foam from Home Depot for $20!! That’s $45 cheaper than the cheapest foam I could find with a coupon at Joann’s Fabrics. Write that down, folks. The foam at Home Depot is near the huge rolls of carpet in the back of the store).  Now, just to find the perfect little kitchen nook table… For context, the built-in benches are 6 ft long on each side and our kitchen is mainly white and gray, with slate colored appliances, stainless accents and medium tone hardwood floors. Oh, and my pots and pans, coffee maker and stand mixer are cherry red.

Here are a few kitchen dining tables that I’m liking so far…

  1. Dylan Dining Table | CB2
  2. Peak Dining Table | CB2
  3. Blox Dining Table | CB2
  4. Simon X Table Base & Glass Top | Pier 1
  5. Melltorp Table | Ikea
  6. Parsons Concrete Top with Stainless Base | Crate & Barrel
  7. Saarinen Style Tulip Table | LexMod
  8. Parker Mid-century Round Dining Table | West Elm
  9. Rustic Kitchen Rectangular Dining Table | West Elm

Which one is your favorite?  Any other suggestions for me?

Leather Loveseats

Exciting news: Mumbles and I are in escrow on a new home! I know I shouldn’t be getting carried away before everything is signed and the keys are in our hands but I just can’t help it.  I’ve been pinning away on a secret Pinterest board to keep track of all the ideas I have swirling in my brain for decor, furniture, renovations and storage. I’m having way too much fun and it’s been quite fulfilling seeing as this is the time in pregnancy when I should be nesting, alas, I have no home to currently nest in.

Even though I’m super eager to get all the baby stuff into the new house, what I’m most looking forward to is a larger living room. Our current living room is very small and cozy – you practically spill into it when you walk in the front door and it acts like our entryway, family room for tv watching, eating area, office and library. Since we love to entertain, I keep thinking about seating options. We have a fantastic sofa + chaise sectional that I love and originally I was thinking we could add a corner section to make one giant U shape (it would look a lot like this). But then I realized that the way the living room is laid out, it would mean you’d enter the room and have to walk all the way around a long sofa arm to sit anywhere on the couch. It would close off the room and I don’t like that vibe. Living rooms should be inviting, beckoning you to come on in and make yourself comfy, right?

Instead I was thinking we’d keep the couch as is and add a loveseat. Great idea!  But now I can’t decide if I want it to match our current sofa or get something totally different. Lately, my obsession is leather. I think it’s so rich and masculine, very earthy and would compliment the [yet-to-be-installed] wood floors and the brick fireplace in our new spot. Plus, I love how aged leather looks and it would seemingly be good for kiddos to be able to swipe up spills (minus scratches, I guess…but hey, patina and character, right?) Our current couch is a charcoal gray fabric and we’ve also added the dove gray graham glider from west elm to our seating arrangement so I’ll have a comfy spot to nurse without having to go hide in a room somewhere and miss all the fun (read: tv watching). So, another matching loveseat would be a whole lotta gray in one room.  We can certainly liven up the grays with throw pillows, but it seems like a safe choice and leather is still on my brain. I’ve never had a leather sofa, though, so I’m wondering: have you ever had a leather sofa? What do you think? Love it? Hate it?

Here are my favorite leather sofa/loveseat options that I’ve been secretly pinning and pining over:

everett leather loveseat west elm
Everett Leather Loveseat | West Elm

brooks-leather-settee crate and barrel
Brooks Leather Settee | Crate & Barrel
(also comes in an awesome charcoal color)

tobacco leather loveseat living spaces
Tobacco Loveseat | Living Spaces

stockholm-three-seat-sofa__in natural Ikea
Stockholm Sofa |
Ikea
(I like this new for 2014 tan color but the chocolate brown seems like it might age better…plus it looks a bit cheap – and the pricetag isn’t!)

petrie-leather-76-apartment-sofa gray leather Crate & Barrel
Petrie Apartment Sofa | Crate & Barrel

Any favorites from this roundup or others to recommend?  I’ve been keeping an eye out on Craigslist, but because I’m not really ready to pull the trigger quite yet, it’s almost too much of a tease.

For more home decor, bedroom, bathroom, flooring, and seating pinspiration, check out my Pinterest boards.

Sweet Find: Amber Alexander on Etsy

Etsy is a magical, magical world. I’ve been trying to figure out what to put on the walls in our 2nd bedroom/office/Mumbles’ closet/guest room.  I wanted something whimsical and fun and I’d been eyeing watercolors and illustrations for quite some time.  Then, I somehow stumbled upon Amber Alexander’s lovely Etsy shop.  And that’s the magic of Etsy. I want just about everything she makes — beautiful florals, feathers, and furry friends. I simply adore her work.

I ended up purchasing three prints from her shop so that I could put them in these wood frames I found at Target (I love that you can see the grain and knots in the wood).  Meet my three new mates Byron, Duncan and Looker the Alligator.  Mumbles likes Duncan enough to want to take him to work but I’m not quite sure if I can give him up.

Art prints by Amber Alexander on Etsy

Art prints by Amber Alexander on Etsy

Also, Amber was sweet enough to send a few cards in my package which was such a fun surprise.  I was delighted to gift them to some friends later on and even more excited to show them the cute little stories Amber has created for each of the characters on the back of the card. For example, I said “Happy Birthday” with this fabulous card for my wine-loving friend.  The caption read: “I don’t know what could have been ‘hard’ about her day. She’s a cat! not enough catnip? lost her toy? bad fur day?”  I just thought it was darling.  So did my friend.

Super sweet stuff.

What are your favorite Etsy shops?  

P.S. I thought Byron, Duncan and Looker all needed to be a foursome (you know, in case they wanted to play golf or something) so I happily scooped up this darling fox by Eastwitching.  Now I’ve got a happy bunch of furry, sophisticated friends!