Entryway Action

I have a goal and a plan and I’m ready for action! This is the final push to get the entry whipped into shape! I have a Galentine’s Day Party planned for all the ladies in my life the weekend of the 11th. My goal is to finally complete the entry way so I can decorate it up for the party! I have some cute heart ornaments that just need a place to be hung.

So, why is it the final push? Because I’ve been secretly working on this for months, slowly chipping away at the mess that this area was when we moved in! If you recall, it looked like this to start:

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

And when you first opened the front door you looked in at this:

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Whew! What a hot mess it was when we arrived! The entry’s one redeeming feature (besides the coat closet) is the little nook right next to the door. This is a great place for us to stash all our shoes and jackets when we first come home. Of course… is started out as a whole lot of nothing!

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Well, nothing, but an electrical panel, a light switch, and a heating vent. Lot’s of mechanical stuff going on in this spot! You may remember my original plan for this area. It included the following items, some of which are now complete:

  • Get seating for putting on/taking off shoes
  • console or buffet for mail/purses
  • Hang art/mirror and accessorize
  • Paint back wall to hide electrical box better?
  • Organize closet
  • Shoe storage!

Since October – when I came up with this plan of attack – I’ve been slowly getting ‘er done! First I got to work hanging a big old heavy mirror I got for free from work several years ago when it was delivered with a hefty scratch. I bought this 50 lb drywall anchor set from Home Depot for a few beans.

Hanging a Heavy Mirror | Land of Laurel

Once I marked my location (I was hanging the mirror high with the plan to eventually put a console table beneath it), hanging the mirror was really easy. I simply tapped the plastic anchor in with a nail first, then screwed it the remainder of the way into the wall.

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The two other pieces in the kit – a screw and a picture holder, fit into one another, and were then screwed into the plastic piece. Easy as pie.

50 lb Drywall Anchor | Land of Laurel

You know what was not easy? Lifting the heavy mirror up and hooking the wire onto the picture hook. Boy! That mirror was heavy! I enlisted the assistance of both my parents who happened to be visiting that weekend. By the time we hung the mirror, I’d also bought an ottoman! It was an impulse buy one morning on the bus. I only semi-regretted it after. And by semi-regretted I mean I realized it was definitely not my favorite option, but it was cheap. I looked it up to link to it in this post and found out it’s now available in cream! Ugh. Cream would have been a great option. Instead I ended up with the cherry red. When I bought it, the ottoman was only available in red or black leather. I have an intense dislike of black leather furniture unless it’s on task chairs, so I went with the red option. I may reupholster it with some extra fabric I got for free from work. We’ll see… For now, let’s concentrate on the positives of this ottoman. A) I got it for a heavily discounted price. B) It opens up and becomes a huge storage ottoman! C) It’s deep enough to provide seating space while still being tucked under a shallow table, so I don’t need to drag it out to open it.

Progress in the Entry | Land of Laurel

Being quite the spend-it-all-at-once-er I also bought an indoor/outdoor rug at about the same time. I picked one that was made of polypropylene because it would hide the dirt and I could take it in the backyard and hose it off if it got really dirty. The rug itself is also heavily textured with the heathered dark parts of the rug being flatwoven and about 1/8″ below the height of the light part of the rug design. I wanted something that would make the silly transition between the sheet vinyl and LVT floors less obvious. The sheet vinyl part of the entry is 4′ x 7′ and rug I bought was 3′-9″ by 5′-8″ so it covers almost the entire entry area. Then on an IKEA trip I stumbled upon some welcome mats. Most of the mats at the store said “Welcome” in English, but I spotted one that said “Willkommen” which is the German translation. Being the Germanophile I am, I snapped it up instantly and stood over my cart like a mama dog protecting her babies. I took it home and paired it with the larger black and white rug for a modern look. Having this mat inside helps keep things even cleaner, especially since we do not have any outdoor overhang! Jacks was so excited about the rug, he even posed with it for Instagram (yes this was 3 months ago).

Kitten Door Mat | Land of Laurel

With the hanging of the mirror and the purchase of the rugs and ottoman, this entry had a completely different look and feel. Thank goodness! It wasn’t done yet – no there was lots left to do – but, progress had been made and the space was starting to feel like home. Plus I finally had a place to store my shoes (the ottoman!) and a place to sit while putting on my shoes (the ottoman!). No more hopping around on one foot like a clumsy flamingo!

Entry Progress | Land of Laurel

Now that my clumsy flamingo days were over, I also wanted a place to hang my purse and any wet coats (have you heard that it rains here in Portland, OR?). I inherited some pretty reclaimed wood planks from a friend a while back. I pulled one out that looked to be about the right size; its gorgeously beat up and has some paint still staining it. I love old wood (wink wink! No, gross! Bad joke! I take it back.).  Then I picked up some of these painted square tile hooks from World Market.

DIY Coat Rack | Land of Laurel

I laid them out on top of the wood plank on my dining table and spaced them out until they were even to the eye, before marking their location with a pen. Then I drilled shallow holes in the wood to allow for the screws.

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

I finished it off by screwing the hooks onto the board. (Is it just me or did that sound dirty too?)

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

I finished it off (oh my god, why does this sound so bad?!) by drilling holes at the middle of each end of the board and taking two 2″ screws to fasten it into the studs in the entry. The coatrack looks cute and holds my purse quite nicely!

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

Now, why stop there when there’s so much more to do in this room?! If you scroll all the way up to the first picture in this post, you’ll see a weird box on the wall. What is it? I have no idea. Why is it there? To annoy me. How do I fix it? Classic answer: a gallery wall.

Entry Gallery Wall | Land of Laurel

Boom! A few pieces of art and now that box isn’t quite so obvious. Here is my map of England, a fun and funky art piece my Aunt Pat found, and a print I bought at a Museum in Milan. This entry has so many walls, I still need to add art to several spots! This is a good start though. Overall, I’m feeling good, because this entry is looking so much nicer!

Entry Progress | Land of Laurel

A vast improvement over the before, I just have to say!

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Oh! That before picture makes me realize another couple of quick updates. See that ugly carpet sticking out under the door? Ripped out. Goodbye gross! The cheap mirror on the closet door didn’t even last through the first week in the Duplex. There are some things I can’t change – the yellow brown moldings, the door, etc, but in a rental, sometimes you gotta take what you can get! What’s on the horizon for this space? Lot’s of final touches, but first, a custom console. You may have seen this sneakpeek pic on Instagram a few weeks ago when I was test fitting my furniture build:

Console Prep | Land of Laurel

I’m still working on the final touches of that piece, but the goal is to knock that out this week and begin accessorizing and putting more art up next weekend. Wish me luck!

Do you have anything you’re working on that has a fast approaching deadline? Does that make you panic? Or work harder? Or both?! Let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments!

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Uncovering What’s Underfoot

So recently I’ve become obsessed with rugs. I think I’ve always had a bit of a thing for area rugs, but now it’s becoming a full blown crush. I’ve saved pretty rugs as my desktop background, I’ve been caught petting them in local stores. Is that the bell ringing? Because  I’m gushing like a pre-teen in middle school. They say love’s a disease, so how did this recent affliction start? Well, a few months ago I designed a stair runner at work, a beautiful, custom, wool and silk stair runner. And that was it. I was in love. I designed another custom rug and fell a little harder. I started looking for inspiration for rugs for other projects and that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to recover any time soon.

I bought the rug for the bonus room that then moved into the living room. Boy do I love that rug. It’s this one from West Elm and it’s very popular. I bought it on sale and it looks like they’re continuing to mark it down, so perhaps it’s being phased out. Why did I pick this rug though? What should people look for in a rug? What types of rugs hold up the longest? Well, you can hire a designer to help you with that or I can give you a few of my own thoughts. Rugs aren’t complicated to understand and well made ones can last many lifetimes. Good area rugs are heirloom pieces. Not that every rug needs to be an heirloom piece, but in a world where so much of our everyday items end up in the landfill for centuries after only a few minutes of use, I like the idea of something that will last multiple lifetimes in our homes.

First, why I picked the particular rug I have in my living room. Aesthetically I liked the way this rug looked. I thought the simple two tone color palette would easily transition from this home to my next one. In fact, I bought this rug with the thought that it would eventually end up in my bedroom down the line! A rug paired with my colorful bedding needs to be neutral and take on the role of second fiddle, which this calm rug does. Not only that, but this particular rug is a shag! The extra long fibers make it oh so soft and cozy underfoot. I love it in the living room, but I can’t wait to sink my feet into this when I first get out of bed. This is the kind of rug you just want to lay down on and rub your face on it. But seriously, multiple people have come over and done that. It’s just so plush you want to feel it with something other than your feet!

The rug I bought is a 100% wool rug and that was important to me. Silk rugs are way out of my budget and I wanted a natural fiber rug. Natural fibers tend to hold up longer over time and they decompose more easily after their usefulness runs out. Natural fibers also have inherent anti-stain properties. Wool doesn’t stain unless something is worked into its fibers or sits on it for a long period of time. Which means I only minorly panic when anyone is near my rug with red wine!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

This rug is also a Fair Trade Certified product which means I know those who worked hard to create it were paid a living wage in a decent work environment and that matters. I feel better knowing that’s the case. West Elm lists this rug only as “handmade” but having it in my home I can look and feel and touch it. Upon examination it’s not only handmade, but hand-tufted with a cotton backing. In terms of manufacture, there are lot’s of terms associated with rugs: handwoven, hand-tufted, machine made, etc etc. What does that even mean and what are the differences?

Hand-knotted rugs are the highest in quality. Each fiber of a hand-knotted rug is – quite literally – hand knotted. Thousands and thousands of filaments are knotted by the maker forming the design of the rug. This leaves room for one of the delights of high quality rugs: small variations, or mistakes, in the pattern. These unique differences are one of my favorite things about rugs. After the knots of the rug are all tied, hand-knotted must be cut down to the particular pile height as the knotted fibers are all in different lengths. Hand-knotted rugs have a pattern that you can easily see from the back, in fact the backs look nearly as good as the fronts and feel nice too! On rugs with fringe, the fringe is integrated into the fibers of the rest of the hand-knotted rug and not a separate made piece. Hand-knotted rugs take months to complete and are made of thousands to millions of knotted fibers! That is why they can last for several life times.

Hand-tufted rugs are still of good quality, but less so than hand-knotted. These rugs are formed on a backing – frequently latex covered with cotton – and the fibers are attached with a type of gun. Although there is a person attaching individual fibers, they’re able to work more quickly using the tool and the design of the rug is usually printed on the backing so there is less “user error.” You can easily tell if a rug is hand-tufted because cotton backings will frequently be a different color (the one on my living room rug is a dark grey-black). They still have a pile and have varying degrees of plushness. Because the fibers are attached more loosely to the backing, the rug cannot be washed as thoroughly as a hand-knotted rug can be and thus they shed. A higher quality hand-tufted rug will shed for only a few months, a lower quality one may shed throughout its lifetime. The fringe on hand tufted rugs is usually an entirely separate entity from the rest of the rug and is sewn on. Liquids can severely damage hand-tufted rugs as it destroys the latex and results in a dusting of powder on the floor. These rugs can last between 3-15 years.

Hand-Woven rugs are of great quality, but are difficult to compare to the two above, as they are mostly flat weave rugs with no pile. These rugs are made on looms by individuals using long fibers. Many hand-woven rugs are made of plant fibers such as sisal and or jute, but there are also wool and cotton hand-woven rugs. Some handwoven rugs have a pile, but the flat-woven rugs are common too. Flat-woven rugs – like kilims – are reversible!

Machine-made rugs range wildly in quality and are the most common today. They are frequently made with synthetic fibers. They are mass produced all over the world. Most machine-made rugs have a harsh, hard, plastic-like backing which can damage your floors if a proper rug pad is not protecting them. These rugs always have an edge binding as well. There are many high quality machine made rugs (some made in the USA), but the vast majority are cheaply made and last only a few years at best.

The manufacture of your rug is not the only factor in quality. The type of fiber is also important!

Wool is the most durable, long lasting fiber. It can be very very soft or more scratchy depending on the way it is processed. Wool is naturally stain resistant and can be cleaned. It holds up well over time and in high traffic areas.

Silk is also very durable, but less so than wool. It can be stain resistant as well. Silk is shiny and also slippery! Silk is durable, but probably not best suited for high traffic areas.

Viscose, Bamboo Fiber, and Faux Silk are all synonym for the same or very similar product. They are man made fibers designed to look and feel like silk, but they tend to be less durable than silk or wool and shouldn’t be used in high traffic areas.

Synthetic Fibers are man made fibers and this term covers a whole manner of them. They range in durability, but generally are less durable. They are frequently treated with a special coating to keep them stain resistant and this coating often off-gases.

Jute, Sisal, and Seagrass are natural fibers with a very different feel from wool or cotton or silk. They tend to be a bit rougher and less “cozy” but are inexpensive fibers. Although they will wear down with time, these fibers are made from rapidly renewable resources.

There are ten million more things to be said about rugs, but it’s getting late and I need to get to bed. Hopefully, something in this post helps you pick out your next rug! I leave you with my latest inspiration picture: this amazing pictorial Khotan rug featured in Traditional Home Magazine.

Pictorial Khotan | Land of Laurel

Don’t mind me, since I’ll never be able to afford an antique version, I’ll just be saving up over the next few years to custom make a rug like this (but in green of course) through one of my favorite local rug companies, Kush Handmade Rugs. Now until I can get around to that, I’ll simply have to keep daydreaming about my latest love interest: rugs.

 

 

 

 

Bringing the Living Room To Life

Happy Monday! I cannot believe it’s December! How did this happen? It’s insane. December means I’ve officially lived in Portland for four months. It definitely feels like I moved yesterday! However, four months seems to be about the amount of time it takes me to bring a room together because the living room is finally in a good place. It’s been all over the place since we moved here, but has always seemed un-finished slightly sad, now things are beginning to look more permanent!

Do you remember when I moved in and it looked like this? A pile of boxes, some old IKEA furniture, and my plants scattered over every surface. It was right as we were moving in and the space was in the midst of being cleaned, cleaned, cleaned!

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Eventually it began to slowly transform as we settled into the Duplex and started to get more organized. The room became a place holder for mix-matched furniture  and art we already owned.

Living Room | Land of Laurel

But it still didn’t feel quite right. Things needed adjustments. We didn’t have a sofa (because I couldn’t quite find the perfect one at the perfect price), the faux cowhide rug wasn’t very cozy, and the furniture arrangement needed tweaking to create a more conversation oriented layout. Still, it wasn’t bad, just temporary. Things were looking so much better than when we first moved in!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Well things have continued to move around and now this space actually feels like a comfortable place to hang out! The biggest change, however, came from another room in the house! Remember the rug I bought right after ripping out the carpet and painting the subfloor in the bonus room? It’s a great Moroccan Inspired white and charcoal 8’x10′ rug that’s oh so soft and cozy! We loved it in here, but it was a tad large for the space (which I knew when I bought it) and it seemed sad to waste such a lovely rug on a space we hardly used.

Furniture in the Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

It lived up there for about a week and a half until I decided we needed to really rearrange. The next Saturday I rolled up the rug and dragged it downstairs (literally). That day I also finally decided I wasn’t going to buy a sofa for the Duplex. This place is a transitionary home and I’d rather buy a sofa for the Portland home I decide to live in more permanently when my lease here is up in June. Since I am not going to buy a sofa, it made sense for my roommate’s futon to take on that roll downstairs. So that needed to change locations as well! Down the stairs it went (I moved this by myself and nearly died when it decided to try to take me with it when I was sliding it down the staircase). I continued moving furniture around. The bench that served as primary seating before? Poof! Up into the bonus room it went. I tried the rug a couple of ways before sliding it into it’s final position and plopping the furniture back down. I also grabbed a canvas drop cloth I had in the garage and draped it over the purple futon to brighten it up. The black mud cloth stayed and popped more against it’s new white backdrop! The rest of the furniture in the room stayed and just got moved around a little bit. The entire space feels so much brighter and cleaner now! Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty to do, but this finally feels like a good space!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Moving the rug and the futon downstairs was a huge change for the better! The room feels so much cozier and put together and a million other things. The only thing I really want to switch out now is the TV console, which I’d love to replace with an old dresser. Other than that, everything is here to stay! Luckily, even though I bought the rug for upstairs, it fits perfectly down in here! I laid it about 10″ from the window wall (to clear space for the heater vent that’s behind the sofa) and it ends with just enough room for the stools to slide out when you’re sitting at the counter. Jackson has taken over the old cherry-crate-turned-cat-bed I made Malary back in Berkeley. I placed it over in this corner to help fill in the space by the snake plant and pantry cabinet and it has become his new favorite place to sleep.

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I promise he’s not as crosseyed as this photo makes him look. He’s quickly become part of our home and absolutely dotes on Malary – following her around constantly – which annoys her to no end!

Most everything in the room is repurposed from before, but I did buy a few things in the last few weeks. The fiddle leaf fig tree came home after my last Home Depot trip. It’s hanging out in front of the fixed panel on the slider door for now and I’m hoping to give it a nice long life. We only have eastern and northern light in this house, which I’m hoping is enough for it to thrive. I’ve decided it’s large enough to deserve a name, so I’m calling her Finley. This spot is bright in the morning through early afternoon, but doesn’t get any of the hot evening sun. In fact after 2pm or so this room is a little dim. Anyone else have a fiddle leaf fig? Let me know your tricks for keeping it alive! I’ve wanted one for ages and when I stumbled upon this nice tall one, I jumped on her! The deer head is also new – an impulse buy from Cost Plus World Market. I kind of love it! It’s green and red and gold; my favorite colors!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

This room feels so much nicer these days and we’re using it so much more. Before it was definitely a transitionary space both in look and use. We mostly passed through here on the way to our bedrooms. We’d rarely hang out down here since there was no where cozy to lounge. Now with the futon and the comfy rug, it’s just as likely you’ll find us laying on one as the other! I swear this rug is so fluffy underfoot you just want to stick your face on it!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

It’s a far cry from where we started right?

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

The space is transformed and now it’s perfect for board game nights and curling up with popcorn to watch a movie. It’s cozy for winter and winters last a long time in Portland! Plus I just can’t get enough of that deer head.

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Have you switched up a room with the simple addition of a new rug lately? It’s such a quick change and yet it can make the whole space feel completely different! I’ve been designing lots of custom rugs lately and they’ve been on my mind! I want to get around to writing a “what to look for in a rug” post soon. For now, you’ll find me curled up with a blanket and two sleepy cats on the futon (as I am right now). 🙂