Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zhush it up

I work in marketing, a field that is predominately female with a few rare breed men that aren't afraid so embrace their more "communicative" side.  My D is actually one of these rare men, but even he (much like the few men in my department) was unaware of what "zhushing" means.

I always thought this word was yiddish but it turns out to be more French than anything, which is rather fitting since it's really the action of putting a little je ne sais quoi into action.  I bring up the whole marketing thing because of a scenario I recently encountered at work.

A female colleague and I were wearing very similar espadrilles and were discussing their comfortable in the middle of one of our main throughway's.  A fellow male colleague comes up just as I'm explaining that the cording on my shoes just gives them a little "Zhush."  At this he stops and says asks what on earth is Zhush.  After providing several relevant examples of Zhushing - straighting your collar so that it stands up  (use starch people, BIG pet peeve of mine), selecting an appropriate man bag or complementary scarf as an accessory - not even going into how Zhushing can be used to make your house, albeit your LIFE, more fun, and after a few more examples he got it.  This colleague, straight as an arrow mind you, now frequently asks me if he's "Zhushed," partly joking but not enough to disregard the answer entirely when I jokingly (not entirely) say no.

I digress.

It's time to start Zhushing the house.  Now I have particular anxiety about this because Zhushing essentially says alot about your personality, or what you hope to convey about your personality.  Whether its in the details of your necklaces and shoes or which books and trinkets and art you display in your home, it's important.

I started with the "most close to complete" room  - the Living Room.  What with the new furniture, fresh floors and new paint color, we're getting close.  We're currently using an older armoire and two older black bookshelves that we already had from the old house.  Eventually I'd like to see some more white in here with some floor to ceiling shelving but we can't get what we want overnight.

Now with this house we're looking for "more modern" than the last and a nice clean aesthetic, so that being said, D put down the mandate that these shelves remain as simple as possible - no cramming them with milk glass and books like the old house.

I started with this blank slate and gathered some groupings of things I knew I'd want to include.  Sorry for the crappy iPhone pics.  I was just happy I remembered to snap some!

semi-blank canvas, I already figured out the top by the time I remembered to take a pic

So you can see what we're working with, two short bookcases, about 4 feet tall and then an armoire around 5 feet.  I started with the Hatch Show prints mostly because they were the only two pieces of art that actually had the same size/proportion frames.  I also love these pieces and they were burried in our office in the old house.  I'm not sold on this as their permanent home, which is why they're still resting not hung, but they are a nice pop of color in an otherwise conservative room.


now onto filling these guys up

After collecting what I knew I would want to include in these shelves, I broke the pieces up into categories on the dining room table for easy picking.

 white stuff (mostly milk glass), greens, pretty trinkets and books (in that massive HD box)

From here I just went with symmetry as much as possible, relying on the physical differences in the materials I chose to (hopefully) create the interest I was going for.  Here's the end product.

decent first pass

up close finished version.  let's talk about how blah the backs of these are.

This likely won't stay this way for long but it accomplishes the goal of getting something in, keeping them fairly clean, and showing just a tiny bit about who we are.  Some of my favorite things in this: my gramma's old books, milk glass I've collected over lots of antique malls and thrift stores, a picture of D and his first ever pup Cody, and the little blue and white china box from our house in Texas.  It's where we always stored the spark plugs to the Christmas tree lights growing up and strangely where I keep mine now.

Up on the blog later this week: kitchen redo phase 1, and the details for a bridal shower I'm helping to host for good friend E this weekend.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend Recap: Well Lived Life

Back in the saddle this Monday after a weekend that marked the transformation of a house into our home.  Not to get too corny on you (sidenote: the whole Corny thing now has new meaning, and increased use in our house what with being Newly Cornwells..) but last night D and I were watching the Olympics on our new tv in the living room (an Olympics purchase, duh!), and we both commented on how we finally felt settled for the first time in the eight weeks we've lived here. 

What with the constant travel this summer for work and fun, I think it was hard for us both to remember that this feeling would finally come - the constant to do lists with "MUST GET DONES" would subside and that we'd be left with a smaller, "should get done...eventually" list and a house we're proud to invite people to.

We were finally able to relish some of that sweet feeling with the Olympics party this past Friday.  We had lots of Americana going on all over the house - I scored most of our decks from the Hobby Lobby 4th of July sale for 80% off and supplemented with some Olympics printables.  Glow sticks, flags and hamburgers at the ready we watched the sometimes-baffling opening ceremonies with some key friends and fam.

chandelier decks in the dining room

official London Olympics posters at the front

mini flags EVERYWHERE

it took me awhile to hang this puppy

the kitchen decks complete with AMERICA sign found for 80% off, I'm already pumped for the 4th

It was so fun to share our plans and progress with family and was a great kick off to a weekend of Olympics watching and sun. 

We also got to hang out with our sweet nephew S, not once but twice this weekend!  He cheered on the US at our house on Friday and we got to babysit him Saturday and got a taste of babydom.  We learned that two year olds have expert hearing, and that we're super lucky to have the mix of carpet and hardwood in the house.  We also checked out the pool for the first time with S and found that the lazy river was a happy compromise for all three of us.

The weather was SOOO gorgeous on Saturday, it was like a crazy reprieve from all this insane heat and humidity.  The pool was perfect and surprisingly not crowded! That evening while enjoying a homemade watermelon margarita popsicle (recipe from here and SUPER delicious) we thought we'd see if we could push our luck with the good weather and entertaining luck from the night before and try to rile up a group to watch a movie outdoors.  We found some takers and fired up our projector and enjoyed the almost crisp air and the Jack Black/Owen Wilson/Steve Martin flick, The Big Year.  It was not what I was expecting but good none the less.

movie on the garage

We also set up this awesome chandelier my in laws got me for my birthday awhile back.  It was a fun pop of light hanging in the dress while we watched the movie.

it has 3 layers but we only filled 2 of them up.  lesson learned, need bigger, slower dripping candles

All in all, this weekend was AWESOME and for some reason totally unexpected.  I think we forgot how to enjoy ourselves for a bit there, which sounds completely crazy.  We'll keep forging on in our improvements and trial/error home ownership but we're definitely going in the right direction focusing on the things that truly make up a well lived life.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fill it Up!

So I've had this post scheduled for a long time and never got around to posting it.  Seems like a good segway now what with the recent before and afters.

My interior design philosophy to date has been based soley around making the pieces I've been handed down work.  Luckily my mother, to be hence force known as Kath, is quite the interior diva with impeccable taste and quite the history of home relocations (for Big T's job) and redecorating projects.  Big T being my father - for those who know him- his personality couldn't be described as anything other than Big.

It's interesting visiting all 3 (myself included) of Big T and Kath's kids' homes now as you can clearly see the influence of all the places we've lived to date.  I currently have the big red couches that graced our home in Lawrence, Kansas, made their way to my second college apartment and now my first home. My sisters have some of the Kansas furniture, a few pieces from our Texas home and some black buffalo check club chairs from their current house in Tennesee.  Sprinkled throughout there's dishes and silverware from Baltimore, New Jersey and I even their first crock pot they got as a wedding gift in Milwaukee.

Given the choice, I don't think red couches would be my personal first pick, nor would buffalo check top A & M's lists, but they've served us well and best of all - they were free!

Given that the new place is roughly 2.5x the size of our old rental home, we've got a lot of rooms to fill.  The red couches will make their way to our Den but we've already ordered some fun new furniture for the living room that I'm excited to share.  Whereas we were much more in the French Countryish camp, the look of the new house is much cleaner, more modern and more us.

Red Couches in their new home in the den.  Don't judge the floppy cushions and lack of coffee table.  On the replacement list already.

Building on the Silver Tinsel paint color and awesome new wood floors we restained we wanted to keep the more "transitional" flow rolling with some new furniture.  Enter my favorite furniture store EVER: Arhaus.  If you have not been to an Arhaus store or checked out their online store front, let me share the greatness!  http://www.arhaus.com/

We are always on the look out for beautiful pieces from this store but they can be quite pricey so you have to wait for a good sale.  We'd been watching this piece for a long time. The Holden Console Table.  It's also available at Crate and Barrel but a bit more expensive.

We knew we wanted this piece the second we saw it.  It's got a nice rusticy look but none of that weird fall-apart-on-you wood that you see in a lot of today's "reclaimed" pieces.  I don't know about you but I'm not into bugs and dust. And it's topped with a beautiful piece of bluish-greyish soapstone that ties in well with the paint color.

We ended up finding this exact piece for a little less at a local furniture store that had purchased a small "lot" of these tables - woowhoo!  We were actually there, looking for a new sofa and possible some arm chairs for the same room.

Phillips Furniture has been GREAT to work with and super affordable. Highy recommend a trip if you're in STL. We ended up getting a custom sofa in Porpoise (cue my excitement about picking a dolphin-esque color - we can discuss that obsession later) that's kind of a muddy grey/taupe color.  Much prettier than it sounds. 


It's kind of exciting because they let you choose the arms, cushion type (T shaped or straight) and skirt (or lack there of)  We went with straight arms, T shaped cushions and no skirt but no wood liner either, you'll just see 4 little wooden feet at the bottom.

We also picked  up two chairs that you can only describe as the tiniest seafoam lepoard print design. Yes, it sounds heinous but thankfully I, and the very few others that I've actually allowed in the still barren house, seem to like them.  Pictures of these bad boys to come. We're also keeping our glass and limewood coffee table for now, but may swap it out for something more fitting in the future.

Still need:
- shutters - I want big white ones for those 11 feet of windows!
- some sort of curtain, more likely as an accent on the sides than functional, given the shutters and maybe with some sort of complementary color that hasn't been used, thinking mustardy yellow or coral?
- huge rug - using the old one now, preferably graphic
- need some new lamps - something with color to spice up the space, and tie into the curtains?
-bookcases - I'd LOVE custom built in's much like Miss. Lindsey's over at fificheeck but we'll have to see what D says.  I'd also take two of these puppies from Arhaus in a heartbeat (it comes in a super light, almost limewood finish) right now we've got some older black ones that I'm repurposing

That's all I've got today from Canada.  More tomorrow on some bookcases in the living room, and the first phase of zhushing.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend Recap: Committed

After some harassment from a friend regarding my consistency with blogging (or lack there of) I'm trying to start the week off right with a blog, here we go!

This weekend we traveled to Cleveland to see the sweet sweet wedding of one of my good friends D to his lovely bride M.

It's funny because after you're married you look at weddings a bit differently.  You recognize all the details that went into it and the stress leading up to it and get to experience all that melt away at the reception.  It was a mini reunion of sorts with some of my MOST FAVORITE people in the world and to top it off we met a few new-to-us friends so it was all around great.

This was the groom's cake.  We went to Mizzou and he was a former Oscar Meyer Hotdogger.

Outside of the obvious connotation between wedding and commitment, Dan and I also made a commitment in the United lounge (not switching from my beloved AA, don't worry).  To actually stop being wienies and have our first get together at the new house.  Father's Day aside, I've been holding off on hosting any big events until we get the details wrapped up on our house.  I realized after flipping through my latest House Beautiful that this simply isn't going to happen anytime soon, and furthermore, most of our friends either A) have gone through the process of buying and redoing a house, or B) don't care about all the crazy details that I think will make our break our first impressions.

So without further ado: get ready for Olympics Opening Ceremonies Celebration 2012 and Casa Cornwell!  I immediately started planning our menu (Americana eats like hamburgers and hot dogs, watermelon, corn on the cob and jelly beans) and decor (RED WHITE AND BLUE EVERYTHING)

Here's what I'm thinking in terms of deets:

Lots of these all over the place. via.

These as prereads, duh.via.

Some of these. prosecco please. via

Until then, I'm pulling another unAmerican move and heading to Toronto for the week for work.  I'm thinking of it as researching different countries in prep for the Olympics.  Sidenote: one of my Canadian colleagues' sister is actually an Olympian and playing for the women's Canadian basketball team - she's going to cheer her on, EEK!!  So jealous!

I'm taking the day off on Friday to finish up some final house deets and prep for the party.  Promise for some posts filling you in on house progress in between.



Friday, July 20, 2012

Wedding Season

Would it be redundant to tell you all that D and I have had yet another crazy work week? Thankfully the companies we work for are both experiencing exciting growth spurts, and we're lucky to have been given the responsibility to play a big part in that growth.  Unfortunately somethin's gotta give and we've been working round the clock and hoping for dividends (literally!)  Things have been pretty quiet on the house front as of late, but that's good so we can catch you up on all the projects we've done to date!

Oh and to finish my much overdue teaser from last week's post on the floors, after the the walls were painted, the crown up and the floors done, we jetted off to Punta Cana for a week to see our lovely friends A and V get married.

I tell you, this was a JCrew-esque wedding if I've ever seen one.  And what a treat to go on vacation with 50 friends to see people you love get married!  So fun.

This was the location: GORGEOUS.

This was the restaurant the reception was in, isn't it the most unique building?

This could easily be a spread in JCrew.

Meanwhile, back in the US, and more importantly in sweltering hot Missouri, our sweet sweet Brother in Law was installing our baseboards.  He is a God send and definitely the calming, knowledgeable source on all things carpentry.  He keeps D and my Father in Law from just "winging it" on every project.  Coming home to a house full of baseboards and beautiful new floors was the best surpriseever! 

Keep in mind, we're still catching you up in all things house, so by this time, after A and V's wedding, it was Memorial Day, the weekend before we'd finally move into our new house!  More on that next week (seriously, I promise!) along with a post on our new furniture, closet organization (remember my love for the Container Store!) and how much my husband loves headlights.

This weekend we're putting our paint brushes and garden hoes down to see another couple of good friends tie the knot.  While it's been a crazy summer of travel and weddings, I couldn't be happier to have all these mini reunions with such good friends.  Cheers!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Putting a Face on the House: Before and Afters

If paint is the makeup, then crown molding and floors are the jewelry and handbag that made these rooms a star!

Thankfully, my father-in-law, who shall be hence forth known as contractor/painter/gardener/handyman (although he actually sells industrial heaters and is not in fact in the business of any of the previously mentioned professions) had the great idea to paint before we started working on the floors.  I bring you, grey and peacock walls with yellowy oaky floors. 

My favorite part about painting? Knowing that we're putting in crown molding and baseboards and not having to edge the ceiling or floors.  Isn't that THE WORST EVER?

color testing in the living room

camp cornwell in the living room, post painting and pre crown and floors

I should also note here that in preparation for new floors, and subsequently new baseboards, D and I took off the old baseboards.  We ultimately replaced the measly 1 inch baseboards that came with the house with big chunky 3.5 inch base, buy needed to get off the old guys in order to make the floor refinishing that much easier.  Taking the old off was literally our first Saturday morning project in our house (all the way back in early May!)  We got a pair of these guys and went to town. 


I have to say, it was pretty satisfying and made me wish we were going to pull down some walls or do some other fun demo.  An hour after all the base was down in the house, I quickly recanted this notion as anxiety set in about how ugly everything would look until the new stuff was installed.  I'm a vision girl, not a execution person.

The father-in-law also recommended that we install the crown before the floors come, seeing as this was a new to us project and would surely involve dust, dings and other unhappy things.  We were lucky enough to have my father-in-law's neighbor, a general contractor, come over to show us the ropes and aid in the process.  After about 8 hours of work and TONS of dust, we have new, chunky, 4 inch crown in the living room, dining room, halls and all upstairs bedrooms.  The den, upstairs hall and 4th bedroom will be secondary. 

Crown up in living room, pre floor refinishing, we don't live in a cave, my father-in-law is just part cave man at 6'6"

All in all the crown was an expensive detail but we saved a TON by doing it ourselves and it made a huge impact on the rooms.  I wish I could tell you how to do this step by step but my involvement in this particular project included going to Home Depot, picking out crown, gawking at how much said crown molding costs, paying for ridiculous expensive crown molding, monitoring the loading of crown molding into the pick up, driving behind the pick up to make sure that if expensive crown fell off pick up, it only hit MY car, and then making the boys burgers for lunch and providing approving "yes, this is nice!" when prompted. 

If you want to know more detail, I have a feeling we'll be recreating this day at my father in law's somewhat soon so I'll be sure to take better notes.
I digress.

Once we painted and crowned the place we decided to resand/restain the hardwood floors a darker color to make the whole space look a little more modern.  Lucky for us, the floors were in great condition (not too thin) and were able to accept a dark stain.  After looking into the costs of sanding and staining, we decided that for a mere $500-$750 more, we could have it done professionally.  Sold!

We used Blake Floors in STL after hearing great things about them from friends and our realtor.  They offer the unique ability to "pop" the grain of wood with water which allows the wood to accept a greater amount of stain, yielding a darker color.  Hooray! 

The whole process took 5 days from staining, drying and two layers of poly.  I bring you new floors!

Here's where we tell you that as the floors were being restained we happened to jet off to a prior commitment... out of the country... for 6 days...more on that and the great surprise we came home to tomorrow!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekend Recap: Canada, eh?

Sorry for the radio silence around here.  We've been seriously working on building up our frequent flyer miles/points/whatever they call them now and hotel rewards lately.  In fact, D and I experienced a strange first the week before last, both ending up on a business trip in Boston at the same time.  It was strange seeing my husband in a different city, not on vacation, and only for a few fleeting hours.  Needless to say Emma is pretty peeved with us but happy to have gotten in some serious bonding time with my in-laws (who we COULD NOT live without at this chaotic juncture.)

As you can imagine, not a whole whole lot has been completed in the past week and a half with all this travel, but I do have some fun updates on what we've done to date to share this week. I know, I know, I've been promising pics and entries for a long time now but D sweetly uploaded all our before/after pics of the floors and paint last night.  The beauty of DSLR pics is only overshadowed by their size and difficulty to resize and compress on an old laptop.  (a replacement is on the list, but WAY far down I'm afraid)

Anyways!  We did take a quick jaunt to Canada this past week for some R&R with my family.  I know, this is VERY unAMERICAN of us, have no fear the irony is not lost on us, but my father works in Canada currently and we've never experienced the "Canadian Cottaging" lifestyle (this is a thing, look it up) so we decided to give it a go.

We stayed in a lovely log cabin, REAL logs that were roughly 1.5ft in diameter and a beautiful cedar looking stain (not sure if it was true cedar though, likely pine) on such a quiet lake. The closest town was called Rosseau, population 250 and was super charming.  Here's a pic I grabbed off Flickr of the adorable grocery we shopped at everyday.  We took some of our own, but they aren't uploaded yet for the above mentioned reasons.

I've been thinking about taking a large photo and creating my own triptych for a while now for one of the big walls in the dining room.  With such a bold color, I'm thinking a black and white photo would be beautiful but would need some high contrast in it to be visually appealing.  I'm kinda digging the blown out, grainy look of some of the canvases designers have been using lately in rooms, but I'm not sure that's in line with D's clean aesthetic.  May need to do some convincing...or compromising!  At any rate, I think the country grocery in Rosseau might be a nice fit especially with those gorgeous umbrellas and the Canadian flags red and white (obviously showing up dark gray and white in a B&W pic)

Speaking of which, right before we left for Canada I scooped up this beauty on super sale from Pottery Barn!  Cannot wait until she gets here end of July.  I'll be sure to post some picks once we install her on the patio with our teak table and chairs.

Hope you all had a LOVELY 4th!