Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Office Space Needed!

We've been talking about transforming our front room into an office for quite some time now, in fact, we put it in writing as a 2014 goal for the year and we're happy to finally say we're ready to get started!

The above photos capture the "state of our parlor" as it currently looks. To give a little background, the front room of our home has been a bit of a non-functional space where much of the furniture we moved in with but didn't yet have a place for landed. Originally, this parlor would have been used as a more formal sitting room. We do use it to house our Christmas tree over the holidays but other than that, it's really a room that Basil uses to keep an eye on everyone passing by and everything going on out front.

We're eager to transform the space for a couple of reasons. First, we truly need a functional office space, especially since the two of us are now working from home. Secondly, this room is the focal point and first impression we give when entering our home — we'd love for the space to feel more tied together and inviting as that first welcome.

We have made a few updates to this room since first moving in just over 2 years ago. You might remember when we painted the walls a sage blue from the bright red textured finish they had, we've also hung art on the walls and have brought bits and pieces of furniture in to create the feel of a living space — but that's about it.

While thinking about how we want to transform the space, both function and design came into play. We've been pinning ideas and collecting bits and pieces of furniture and decor over the past few months in preparation for the updates — you can find everything that's been percolating in our Home Office Mood Board on Pinterest. Most importantly, we finally figured out what we wanted in terms of a desk. It needed to be large enough to accommodate both of us if we need to work together at the same time, so when we stumbled across this antique door just down the street from us, we knew we could convert it into a desk with a great story, too!

In terms of function, the front room will work great for our needs. It's large enough for this desk that needs to accommodate both our computers and the pocket doors allow the space to feel open, but can work to close off the entire room for a truly secluded workspace.

Up until now, we'd been working from the kitchen island, so we're excited to clear out all the computers and office clutter from that space, making it easier for Tim to use the full kitchen and for us to entertain without a giant computer monitor taking up space:

Our computer taking up space in the kitchen during a Richmond Food Co-op shoot

So, what are we thinking? Here are some of the inspiration images we've been tossing around:

Image sources: reclaimed desk, rubber plant

We want to go for a modern industrial vibe with hints of rustic, reclaimed and green elements throughout. The idea of making our own desk by recycling a door like the image above is right up our alley and we'd love to incorporate some living plants like the rubber plant pictured to help freshen and soften the space.

In terms of orientation and storage, we like the idea of a floating desk, central to the room with lots of extra and open wall storage:

We're still not over the concept of plumbing pipes and reclaimed boards as a way to build furniture, so we'd love to tackle building our own shelving systems for the office in a similar way. You might remember we built out our kitchen console using this same method of piping and boards.

So far, we have the antique door we want to transform into our desk (can't wait to share the full details on that) and here's a roundup of the other elements we've been collecting to get this office transformation started:

1. Ikea Trestle Legs — we got ours in a white finish and plan to use them to make our desk with. We love their modern feel to pair with the rustic and worn tabletop, and at $10 each, we couldn't refuse.

2. Safco Recycled Leather Chairs — these two chairs were probably our biggest splurge for the space. We fell in love with their sleek design and love that they were made from recycled materials.

3. Moroccan Shag Natural Rug — we're excited to have a larger area rug for this room and feel like the lighter shades will help brighten up the space.

4. Eco-friendly Rug Pad — we're also eager to try out the eco-friendly rug pad we have from Rug Pad USA, paired with the shag rug. I love that we won't have to worry about the desk, chairs and rug slipping or bunching each time we get up or down from the desk.

5. Umbra Enz Adjustable Curtain Rod — we can't wait to stretch out this adjustable rod to span the length of our wall above the window moldings. We're hoping to create the feel of one continuous and modern wall, draped in the sheer panels (goodbye yellow curtains!).

6. Arm and Hammer Curtain Fresh Odor Neutralizing Sheer Curtain Panels — We specifically needed a longer length panel to get the look we were going for, so these 120" sheers were perfect for the job. Not only do they meet our needs for color, opacity and length, but they claim to have odor neutralizing capabilities built in, which can't hurt (especially having pets). Also, at under $15 per panel, these were another one of those incredibly perfect diamond in the rough type finds.

Down the road we'll still need to build out storage and shelving and pick out smaller essentials like a trash bin and desk lighting — but we know we'll eventually get there and are looking forward to this first step.

In terms of getting everything done, we'll work this weekend to first clear out the entire room, starting back at square one. It will be fun to bring certain pieces back in with a fresh outlook. We'll also be working to build out the desk (and hopefully have the full DIY to share next week), change out the window hardware and get everything moved back in. The only downside to this impending office makeover is the fact that Basil may very well lose "his couch" in this room:

We'll have to think of something creative for him to enjoy or perhaps find a special dog bed for this room — any suggestions welcome. We hope to be back next week with a functioning office and some preliminary "after" shots to share here on the blog.

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Full Disclosure: We received a free rug pad from Our excitement to test it out is real and better yet, we've got a giveaway for a chance to win a similar rug pad coming to the blog soon! Thank you so much for supporting the partners that make 17 Apart possible.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Succulent Update: Slow & Steady Wins The Race

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since our last succulent update, so we thought today would be fitting for another. Last we checked in (pic below), we had some solid roots and a new little leaf forming on one of the pods we've been trying to propagate:

Since then, we've continued to pretty much leave them be in the windowsill, spraying with water when the soil looked dry. Here we find ourselves another month out, with what seems like crawling growth, but growth indeed:

While a very slow project, it's been a successful one so far in our books!

While we're updating the progress of our original succulent cuttings, we've got some more to show you as well:

When tackling our spring cleaning overhaul at the old house weekend before last, we realized we had some older succulent plants we'd been neglecting, but were rooting on their own just fine:

It's funny how plants just want to grow. We brought each of these plants back to our home and are hoping to watch their progress with a front row seat from here on out.

Check out the full rundown from start through today in this post all about how to propagate and regrow succulent plants from cuttings. Have you given growing succulents a try?

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend Basics: Easter Fun!

What a beautiful start to the week, off from a beautiful Easter weekend here in RVA. We're prepping for a busy week ahead, and wanted to share a few of our favorite photos from our weekend of cooking out and celebrating Easter.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon with family at Mary's dad's house for a cookout. All of our smaller nieces and nephews were there, excited for the egg hunt we'd planned.

We'd stuffed the vast majority of our 100 eggs with nickels, dimes and quarters and saved a couple big ones to stuff with chocolate eggs. Then while all the kids were finishing up lunch (and the new baby sleeping), Mary and I hid all the eggs in the front yard to their great surprise.

It was fun to watch them running all over the yard, and we all realized they've finally reached the ages where where we'll be able to get a little more creative and "challenging" with hiding the eggs this time next year.

After the get together, we met up with Stephanie & Brandon to walk the Easter on Parade here in our own neighborhood.

They made a quick visit on their way back up to JMU for the rest of the semester. Hard to believe it will only be a few weeks before my oldest graduates from college and youngest finishes his first year.

In other weekend happenings, I was able to tackle washing our windows from the outside using a long handled squeegee and some exterior window cleaner I'd been eyeing from the hardware store:

I'll still need to get the insides of each window (the areas between the interior and exterior), but feel like I made some solid progress on spring cleaning. Take note of my facial expression in the window!

While we're chatting about spring cleaning, here's your seasonal reminder to change out those air filters (Basil and I do our best to remind you every season)!

And since it was the weekend of cookouts (we had some of our good friends over Saturday night too), I'll share my new go-to appetizer recipe — these maple bacon feta stuffed jalapeƱos:

I stumbled across the recipe a few weeks ago and have made these peppers 3 times since — they're an instant hit if you're looking for something a little new and different to try! Full recipe here.

Also — we've really got some pea plants out front!

It never ceases to amaze us how quickly these grow and vine up the supports.

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fancy That!

Original image by Tori Watson, Marvelous Things Photography

We're back again this week, sharing all the smaller things we're into (or fancying, hence the series name) that might not fit into a single post for one reason or another. Sometimes there might be a long list of randomness, other times it might be a single gem — whatever the case, here's what we're into right now.

-Pinterest to follow: Man Made DIY

-Hilarious Instagram to follow: Will It Beard (worth it).

-Could you live on a self sustaining school bus?

-Possibly the most endearing little thief we've come across. Every time I am cooking in the kitchen I see a similar weimaraner nose on the edge of the counters that I have to shoo away!

-Similar to the way we made our own kitchen console by flipping a locker on its side, we're loving the look of this repurposed locker as a coffee table!

-Whiskey Hot Sauce — now this is a recipe I can get down with. Going on the must-try list.

-Clever and such a  simple trick for a DIY upcycled watering can.

-Last-minute Easter craft: brown sack Easter masks
We'll be hanging out with family over the weekend and have a couple cookouts planned — what are you up to this weekend?

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Over on eHow: Spring Home Scents

Ever since experimenting with natural wintry home scents over the holidays, we've been hooked on the idea of instantly freshening up our space with little more than natural ingredients from our kitchen, pantry and garden.

With spring at the top of our minds and fresh herbs beginning to flourish in our garden, we came up with 2 new natural recipes especially for this time of year. We love how they turned out and you can find the full DIY tutorial featured in our eHow series right here.

For our spring scents we used different combinations of grapefruit, lavender & juniper berries — and cucumber, lime & peppermint leaves.

Check out the full project featured over on eHow to learn how to make some of your own — we'd love to know if you give them a try and what you come up with as a Spring Scent for your home.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Easter Feast with Relay Foods

Last week we welcomed the fine folks behind Relay Foods back into our kitchen and dining room for quite the Easter feast and photoshoot.

Tim planned and prepared recipes for a full Easter spread. Each of the ingredients for the meal are available through Relay Foods and were sourced locally and organically where possible. Did you know when ordering through Relay Foods, you can have your groceries delivered to your doorstep?

The meal consisted of 8 dishes — asparagus leek soup, deviled eggs, carrots with butter and thyme, early spring peas with ricotta, roasted potatoes with a garlic aioli, and a spiral sliced ham. For something sweet, he whipped together individual strawberry graham cakes and a virgin grapefruit mint spritzer. Each of the recipes can be found newly published on Relay Foods.

This baked spring peas with ricotta dish will seriously take you to another level — it's unexpected and so, so good. Find more photos of each of the side dishes with complete recipes here.

The grapefruit mint spritzers and strawberry graham cakes added so much bright color to the spread, and since they packed a little sweetness, were obviously among my favorites. Find the recipes for each featured here.

As part of the preparation, I always enjoy putting together a little seasonal tablescape:

This spring centerpiece included a smattering of gold dipped mason jars and other repurposed vessels filled with different kinds of white flowers. I finished everything off with a dusting of green spanish moss from the craft store:

We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look into another day prepping and shooting a meal with Relay Foods. A huge thanks goes out again to the RF team and John M. Robinson for capturing the day so beautifully in all of the photos.

For some last minute Easter dinner ideas or just plain good spring recipe inspiration, find the full meal with all recipes and more photos from the day over on the Relay Foods Easter menu page.

What's on your menu for Sunday?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Replacing Bad Stair Boards: A Front Porch Makeover

So I made a little trip to Lowe's last week to pick up a few boards for a project I've been meaning to get to since we first moved into our house. For a refresher, here I am walking up our front stairs on moving day back in 2012:

Well, over the past 2 years we've worn down the paint on those front stairs pretty significantly, but the real gem that's been lurking under our front matt can be seen below:

Yep, that's rotted wood (and what appears to be lots of dried Christmas tree needles). The boards were so bad in fact, that the entire area was beginning to bend under our feet every time we walked in or out of the house. Basically, we had a terrible hazard that needed updating for basic safety outside of any curb appeal.

This was actually one of those smaller item fixes that came up in our home inspection during the buying process that I knew I could tackle, but hadn't gotten around to replacing the boards since we hadn't fixed the root of the problem — repairing the leaking front gutter that was causing the buildup of water damage and rot. Remember all those roof repairs we had done earlier this year? Well, that set of repairs took care of this front gutter. Once I was sure the ongoing moisture wasn't building up any longer on the steps, I was ready to replace some boards!

To get started, I measured the length, width and depth of the boards to match up at the hardware store. Once I found the correct replacements with matching width/depth measurements, they cut the correct length for me right there in the store — it was great.

From there, it was just a matter of pulling up the damaged boards, sliding the new ones in place and screwing them securely to the wood supports beneath the stairs. Once I began pulling up the rotted boards, we realized the damage was actually much worse than we thought — they basically just crumbled up and apart in my hands:

I'm actually surprised (and seriously relieved) they lasted as long as they did without falling in. Once I removed all of the bad boards, I took the time to go underneath the front porch (proud of how limber I am at 48) to screw some of the lower stairs tightly into the supporting frame. A couple of them have been a little wobbly, so this was the perfect chance to check out the situation and how to fix it: 

From there, I just slid the 3 new replacement boards evenly in place:

Then screwed them firmly into the supporting porch frame:

The whole replacement process probably took an hour and we were both excited at how strong the boards feel — no more slight give or wobbles when walking on the porch!

To complete the project we decided to give the stairs a new coat of paint to help the new boards blend in and just generally give the front porch a little update — you could really see the wear and tear from the past few years:

Since it's such a small space, we picked up a small can of Valspar's latex porch and floor paint since it's made for exterior jobs like these:

Now some of you might recall how Mary has teased me about my "paint visor," one of my favorite hats that I've happened to be caught wearing while painting indoors. Well, it looks like I'm not the only one that wears a painting uniform — it appears Mary wore the same outfit while painting her Aunt's stairs during her Syracuse trip. Payback always comes to those who wait. #shesallmine

After two coats across the stairs, we were feeling pretty pleased:

 And someone else was feeling pretty good too:

It's spring and you can see the footprints from pollen in the shot above, but such is life and I'm keeping it real.

This ended up being one of those weekend projects that was pretty quick, painless, under 50 bucks — and big enough of an update that we're feeling pretty accomplished. Down the road we dream of completely replacing this front stoop area with a true full covered porch where we can relax on rocking chairs looking out over the street. Between now and then, we'll probably need to get the banister rails replaced since they've got some water damage as well.

And that's where we find ourselves out front — one more thing crossed off the list!

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