Fireplace Edition

So I think I’ve decided on my next big project. I’m going to finally tackle the hideous fireplace. I’d love to do it soon, because I’d like it to be done before we start using it again. And if today’s weather is any indication, we’re going to be busting out some wood logs pretty soon! (Brrr!!!)

So, even though it looked pretty nice last Christmas:

I’ve decided that this Christmas the fireplace should actually match the walls… and the rest of the room! So I’ve been debating tiles and think that I have finally settled on the “idea” of the tile that I want.

I’m looking for a glass and travertine/stone mosaic tile in a mix of tan colors, with a bit of a dark brown or burnt red accent. And I want it to be in the long rectangular pattern, rather than half-inch squares. I like the sparkle of the glass, but I like the texture of the stone, so I think the combination will look great. Plus, thanks to my mom’s pretty awesome idea, I plan to put a matching travertine stone on the hearth and the threshold so they match but aren’t exactly the same as the tile around the fireplace.

Unfortunately, so far I haven’t been able to find exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been able to find things that are close, but not anything that’s exactly what I’m looking for yet.

Too Light:

Too Orange:

Too Pink:

Too Green:

Too Tan:

Guess I’ll just have to keep looking!


Table Testing

I’m looking for a table to put on the back of the sofa between the two chairs (which still need to be recovered. I want the table to offer some storage, room for a lamp, and still go with the modern moroccan theme for the room. I found a few new options at World Market that I think might work well, but needed to bring home the photos and measurements to see what might really work.

The table on the left here is likely my favorite, though it’s a bit dark. It has a drawer for storage and it’s 29”w x 14.5”d x 29”h and is currently around $180. I do have a few coupons for World Market, because I just signed up for their mailing list, so I can get a little bit off.

The table on the left here has a bit more modern/craftsman type look. It’s 36”w x 11”d x 30”h, has a drawer and a lower shelf and is around $190. The one on the right has a rounded element that I like, no drawer, and just a shelf at the bottom. It’s 35”w x 12.5”d x 30”h and only $120.

The back of our sofa is 30” tall, so any of the tables would work as far as their height. And though I’d probably have room for a 35” or 36” wide table if I moved the chairs around, I think the narrower one will work better. Additionally, the dark color of the wood matches the wood elements of the chair a bit better.

So, the winner is….

…now I just have to convince the husband ;).

Moroccan Rug Success!

As my dear hubby will tell you, I’ve been searching for a very long time to try to find a moroccan rug that will work for our living room. I want something bright and colorful that I can pull from when I add curtains and other touches to our room; something that’s going to be warm and comfortable and really pull the room together.

I spent hours with the wonderful folks at Hannoun rugs while they were here in Chicago and brought home two beautiful rugs:

Unfortunately, the one on the right was a little too narrow for the space, so we ruled that one out. The one on the left was my favorite, but my mom wasn’t crazy about the break in the middle (which made me start looking at it more closely), and there was a repair in it that drove dear hubby crazy, so back they both went to the store, sending me back to the drawing board.

After months of searching for a new alternative that would fit within our budget (rugs are so much more expensive than I ever imagined!) I was about to give up. But my husband insisted that we keep moving with the living room and I wanted the rug to be the key for the rest of the decor. Luckily, I happened upon a Fair Trade website called Kantara Crafts. Cue the sound of angels singing “hallelujah!” With options for classic, contemporary and traditional rugs, and the key option for having a rug custom made to the size you need, I had FINALLY found an option that worked! After searching through the various options, I finally settled on the Bou Itran design and contacted Alia to see how I could make one mine!

Since the rug is being custom made to the 7×9 size I needed, the company sends me photos of the rug in process:

Wahoo!!! Moroccan rug, here I come!

Living Room Chairs

I’d been looking for quite a while for two chairs that we could put on the other side of our living room. I was determined not to spend a lot on the chairs, because I knew I’d likely have to recover them in order to tie them into my theme, and yet I knew I wanted some nice, comfortable chairs, that would be good for reading in front of the fireplace on cold winter evenings and pulling around to the other side of the room for additional seating and creating a separate conversation area in the large expanse that is my living room. So I’d scoured the internet, looked during garage sales, and watched Craigslist on a near-daily basis.

Then, this morning, I saw these on craigslist:

A few e-mails, a change of plans and a trip to the ATM later, we were out on the street sitting in chairs that had been delivered by a woman and her mother from a model home her mother had just sold. Purchased only to be used as staging chairs, they were practically brand new and oh-so-comfortable!

So, at just $60/chair, we were sold and hauled our treasure up to our condo and placed them behind the sofa. They’re a bit taller than the back of the sofa, but I think with reupholstering, the right table in between and a lamp, they’ll add just the right touch of comfort and pizzaz that I was looking for on the other side of the room, to help separate it from the darker pieces in the main area.

Now, to look for the right fabric!

The (not so) Entertaining Center


Remember when I mentioned that we had ordered our entertainment center and planned to travel to Woodridge that week to pick it up? Well…things didn’t quite go according to plan. (I know, you’re all shocked, I’m sure!)

That Thursday night was a wonderfully stormy evening and the hubby and I had both had very long days at work. All we wanted to do was go home and curl up on the couch and watch a movie. But we’d I’d made an appointment to pick up our entertainment center and we were I was determined to make it happen.

So after several calls to the warehouse to confirm that the pieces would fit in the car, during which I was told that they couldn’t tell me what sizes the boxes were, but that they weren’t bigger than the individual pieces (well, thanks for that Sherlock!), we proceeded down to Woodridge in our small but powerful sedan.

On the way we wandered around (iPhone GPS wasn’t our friend that evening) and finally found a Menards RETAIL store (rather than the warehouse that the phone first directed us toward) and purchased a tarp, twine and utility knife because we wanted to be sure the boxes stayed dry on the way back, since we figured we might have to tie one or two on the roof or sticking out of the trunk.

Finally, we showed up at the warehouse a mere 15 minutes before it closed and waited for them to pull our order… which came out in four GIGANTIC BOXES!!!

The guys looked at my husband and I like we were completely crazy when they wheeled out four boxes each the size of the individual sections of the entertainment center. Yes, you read that correctly, these suckers were fully assembled and wrapped in cardboard. Needless to say, there wasn’t anyway we were getting these puppies home.

So on our way we went, sans entertainment center, back to our condo to restrategize just how exactly we were going to get our entertainment center from the warehouse to our living room. After discussing the option of renting a U-Haul or other truck, we finally decided to just suck up the delivery charge and have the store bring them to us. So today, while I was out with the sister in law for a dress fitting for her wedding, my husband and his dad received the entertainment center and put it together. (Well, put the pieces together into the grouping, since obviously each piece was already fully assembled!)

Now we have this:

Instead of this:



I keep a list of to-do’s, both personal and condo-related that my husband and I can refer to when we forget any of the little goals we have for ourselves and the condo. Unfortunately, we continue to add things to the list at a faster rate than we could ever check them off. One of the main things that I want to do is get our place to look nice enough that I would be proud to invite people over for a “housewarming” or open house party. I had hoped that we would have been able to move far enough along to have the party at the end of summer, but considering it’s already October 2nd, I think that ship has sailed.

So I’m aiming for the holiday season.

And that doesn’t seem quite far enough but I can’t bear the thought of having been in our condo for more than a year before doing some type of party to celebrate purchasing and living in our “new” place. So that means I have quite a bit left to do.

Living Room:

  1. Purchasing the entertainment center was a huge step in the right direction here.
  2. I think that adding just a few accessories, lamps and, possibly, window treatments should have this room in good enough shape to have anyone over for fun times.

Dining Room

  1. This room is going to take some pretty drastic work. And the end to projects in other rooms, since this typically ends up being our “workspace” for lack of a better place to do bigger projects.
  2. I don’t think we’ll be able to get the crown/chair molding up in here, so I’ll settle for just painting the china cabinet black to better fit in the room.
  3. And adding lighting would be a big key for this room!

Kitchen/Kitchen Nook

  1. The kitchen is in really good shape, so I don’t have too much to do here. The one thing I really want to try is adding some type of chalkboard area, but that isn’t a necessary thing for a party.
  2. The kitchen nook, however, is completely empty, so I need to find/make the desk and bookshelf for this section soon!

Office/Guest Bedroom

  1. The desk/bookshelf/storage for this room is the main thing we have to accomplish. Searching for a black desk that will fit in the space has proven more difficult than anticipated.


  1. The bedroom would be better if we could get the bed and curtains done. But we have enough done in here that if the bed doesn’t get done, I guess it could work. It would really be quite cool if we could get that room in better shape, but I think that might be taking on more than we can chew!


  1. The bathroom is looking really good, so just a few minor modifications should get this ready for guest use.

So that’s the goal list for now. If we can really make some progress on the major items, then I might add a few minor items to try to finish off the look.

What do you think? Can I get that done in 2 months?

Slowly Moving Forward

We’ve been trying to chip away at our to do list and have managed to make some progress.

Project 1: Wardrobes/Chest of Drawers

We purchased our wardrobes from IKEA and thanks to a friend of ours, got them home safely. (Who knew those boxes would be so HUGE?) I assembled them and started filling them with clothes. And, several weeks later, they inspired me to buy all matchy-matchy hangers, so we now have coordinating hangers in all of our closets and wardrobes. I’ve got to admit – as geeky as it sounds – this makes me really happy.

In addition, we took on a rather large project when we purchased an unusual set of drawers that were originally intended as a sideboard, to become our chest of drawers in the bedroom. I just loved all of the drawers and the glass fronts on the top drawers. But the color wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I worked on stripping and repainting it. It took longer than expected, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. The before pictures are posted above and to the side. I’ll add after photos once I get the last handle attached.

Project 2/3: Office and Guest Bedroom/Kitchen Nook

Still no progress here, unfortunately. We’re continuing to look for desks that will work in the spaces – one black for the guest bedroom and a white one for my kitchen nook. We may end up having to hack something (I’ve got an idea for an IKEA hack for the kitchen one), but we’re still looking on Craigslist and everywhere else to see if we can find something less expensive.

Project 4: Living Room/Entertainment Center

We’ve finally ordered an entertainment center! See the photo of it on the left. I think this will be a great piece that will be functional (look at all those drawers for storage!) as well as really nice in our space and go well with my old world/new world mixture of design. I’m really excited about it and we get to go take a trip to the burbs (Woodridge, what!?) to pick it up on Thursday night!

Project 5: Patio

Unfortunately, while we do have a lot of great ideas for the patio space, we’re going to have to wait a while to implement these. This is mostly because… the patio is going to be destroyed. Yep- the structural damage that we knew about when we were looking to buy the place is maybe, finally, going to be fixed. Which brings with it, the lovely and large special assessment that we’ll have to pay, along with all of our neighbors, in order to fix it. So, we’ll be paying for improvements on the balcony, they’ll just be of the necessary kind, rather than for fun.

Project 6: Ceiling Lighting

No progress in this direction whatsoever. We’re still suffering from the evil and cheap lighting that was here when we moved in. Someday, hopefully soon, we’ll get them replaced. I’m really getting tired of the lack of a chandelier in the dining room and the ugly light in our bedroom and ceiling fan in our living room. Anyone else dreaming of new lighting fixtures like me?

Upcoming Projects


We’ve got several projects in the burner and so many ideas!

Project 1:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, our next major project is going to be installing wardrobes on either side of the bed. As part of that project, we may also end up building our storage bed to fit our specifications. We want something with a shelf for a headboard and drawers underneath. Since most of the bed will be covered by the pillows and comforter, we can stain it or paint it however we’d like. Plus, it gives us time to find a fun, unique piece for our chest of drawers on the other side of the room since it won’t need to match anything else in the room.

Project 2:

There are a lot of options for Project 2, but I think we may decide to try to get the office/guest bedroom figured out. Right now it’s our messiest room, as all of the boxes that have yet to be unpacked (with only a few exceptions) can be found sitting in that room. Previously, we had thought to try to squeeze two desks into the space, one each for Dan and I. After looking around for a corner desk that would fit in the space, we had come to the conclusion that we were likely going to need to custom build something for that room, as well. But dear hubby had a fantastic idea today and I think we may be able to make it work. He noted that we had some usable space in the kitchen nook that could go toward a desk space there for me, allowing the office to just hold one desk, instead of two. Then we’ll have a bit more space for the air mattress when we have guests since that room is just definitely not that big!

Project 3:

Which makes Project 3 the desk out in the kitchen nook for me. I think this could look really cute, with fun organizers and a white board plus a desk surface that I can fold out to create a better art/craft space, as well as a good place to fold laundry fresh out of the dryer. Plus, we can put bookshelves along the wall to hold our cookbooks and our household binders, etc. I think this will be a great idea, as long as I can keep some of my arts and craft supplies inside the office to keep the nook as neat as possible and just wheel stuff out to my desk area when I feel like taking on a project.

Project 4:

And speaking of projects, the living room will need to be our next project. Since we have to get our new big screen TV off the floor! I’ve got the idea to create an “old world meets new” look with a Moroccan flair. I know that sounds like just a bunch of words compiled into a sentence, but I promise that I really do have a vision for the space. (I’ll blog more about that room, specifically, in another post).

Project 5:

We also want to really spruce up our patio to make it a bit more fun and cheerful out there. As many of you know – living in Chicago means that you can only use your outdoor space for a few short months (which seem shorter every year) so really cleaning up the space and bringing some color and texture to it will be key to maximizing our enjoyment of the space.

Project 6:

Then there is the lighting. Ever since we moved in, and perhaps even before then, we’ve wanted to subject whomever installed the lighting in our condo to severe levels of lighting torture. [I’m imagining bright lights shined in his eyes and perhaps being chained to look up at the awful fixtures for hours on end.] We hate pretty much every fixture in the place including the:

  • the ugly ceiling fan/light fixtures in both bedrooms
  • the cheap-o fixtures in the entry, hallway, and kitchen nook
  • boob-like sconces in both the living room and the dining room- which were orange when we first moved in
  • ceiling fan [no light] in the dining room where there should be a chandelier (and matching fan in the living room)
  • the randomly placed ceiling fan (which looks as though it may have been a more recent addition) in the kitchen which can’t be on when you’re cooking or you’ll open the cabinet into the fan blades.
  • the cheap-as-possible outdoor light at the back door and the decrepit light on the patio

As you can see – there isn’t much to love and there is a lot to replace. Not to mention the fact that we seem to burn through light bulbs a lot faster in these outlets than we ever have in any other light fixture. We can’t wait to replace these!

The Last Brush Strokes

Nikki had been working every night to get the rest of the painting finally done after a little bit of a hiatus on homemaking. (Hence the gap in blog posts!)

The light gray and dark gray, tone-on-tone stripes were finished in the dining room (see the photo above!) and the rich tan color made its way onto the living room walls (see the photos to the right), with the last of it being applied today! Plus, our loveseat was finally delivered as well, which means we’re definitely on our way to making our condo  a home.

You can see here how the chocolate brown couch, the white trim and the deep tan go together.

This Sunday we’re having our families over for brunch and dinner for Easter and it will be our first entertaining in our new place. We’re really excited – getting the menus set and working on unpacking a few more boxes to make it seem a little more like we’ve lived here for 3 months! (Wow!)

Now we’re into more shopping mode, looking for a TV stand, a bedroom set or bedroom pieces, office furniture and accents like curtains, rugs, chairs, lamps, scones, ceiling fans, etc.

It’s not going to be easy to find everything, but at least we’ve wrapped up the painting and can just take our time finding the right pieces to fit with our rooms.