Friday, January 28, 2011

Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake...

...or three. My sister Joanna is coming up for a much needed girls weekend, and we're going to do all sorts of girly things, like watch movies, read magazines, drink margaritas and bake (we are both addicted to all things culinary). My nephew, Bentley is turning one tomorrow and I offered to make some cupcakes for the party on Sunday. My sister Hayley happily accepted, and I have been trying to decide what flavours to make for the past week! I have it narrowed down to three.

Listed in order of priority:
1. Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
2. Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemon Filling and Meringue Frosting
3. Espresso Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

I'd like to make at least two varieties to bring to the party, but if one turns out better than the other I might just bring all of the good variety (cupcakes to be scored by professional judge, Mr. Brent Carpenter).

I'll be back with photos and the verdict from the cupcake "challenge" on Monday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sofa Hunt is Over!!!

Over the weekend I was fortnuate to nab a spot in a bedroom decorating course at the local Pottery Barn (and by local I mean 60 minutes away is the closest PB we've got). I was psyched about this for two reasons: 1. I was hoping to gain some insight into fresh ideas for decorating your bedroom as that is the next room on our list, 2. because I wanted to see the Buchanan sofa in person, as it was the front runner in our hunt for the perfect living room sofa.

The class was a little disappointing. It was devoted to teaching us about proportions for your furniture and tips like "wash your bedding once a week." Really PB? Really? I will also admit that I was underwhelmed by the Buchanan sofa. It looked so comfy-yet-formal online but after sitting on it for a bit I wouldn't want to take a Sunday afternoon nap on it. Even the fact that it was $250 less than the salesperson on the phone quoted me didn't sweeten the deal. So long, Buchanan.
Source: Pottery Barn

I walked around the store and took some mental notes of characteristics that I did like in some of their furniture pieces. I was definitely leaning more towards a two cushion sofa rather than the three (like the Buchanan). I also knew that I wanted something that was in a creamy natural colour (to coordinate with the cushions on our two chairs) and a durable fabric.

After Pottery Barn I strolled over to Crate and Barrel (my absolute FAVOURITE store on the planet, yes I love it even more than Home Sense). As the escalator approached the second floor (furniture floor), I was greeted with this beauty:
Source: Crate and Barrel

The C&B Axis sofa fit all but two items on our list:
- Two cushions but can seat three: check
- Comfortable to take a nap on: check
- Formal enough to have drinks with guest on: check
- Under 90 inches wide: check!
- Comes in a natural/off white shade: notta
- At or under the $1500 budget: double notta (it was a whopping 2k plus delivery...yikes!)

You would think I'd be totally distraught, but I was actually psyched because I now knew exactly what I wanted!

Once home I got online and saved a bunch of sofa-inspiration photos to our computer. I also searched around on some of my favourite home decor/DIY blogs. I noticed that John and Sherry's sofa (Young House Love) was from Rowe and thought "man that is a sweet looking sofa and almost exactly what we're looking for!" In about 30 seconds I was online and found "the sofa." 30 seconds later I had located a Rowe retailer in a nearby city. Brent loved it, I loved it, the stock photo is in the colour we want, now I just needed to know the price tag. About 1 minute later I was on the phone with the store and after another 30 seconds almost fell off my chair: $600-$1100 ::pumps fists::

Does it get any better? Oh heck yes it does! I didn't mention this earlier but Pottery Barn sofas take 16-18 weeks to arrive. That was the deal breaker for Brent. Rowe on the other hand? 2-6 "but they've never taken longer than 4," said the sweet girl from the retailer (who I might just hug when we go to the store on Saturday to order the sofa).

Two more features that take this couch above and beyond for us: machine washable slipcovers that don't look wrinkled after you wash them (thanks John and Sherry for the tip on your blog!). I now have zero reservations about the combo of a light couch with our someday children! What's more is you can order the toss cushions in any colour/pattern fabric you want, saving us moolah in the accessories budget! ::commences happy dance::

So here she is, Darby (style name).
Source: Rowe Furniture

We've read so many good things about Rowe's quality from actual owners, that basically a spring is going to have to pop out of the floor model to stop us from placing an order! Can't wait to show you all how it looks in our living room!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Time to Get Artsy

I'll be honest, I am not artistic. Creative, but not artistic. When God gave me my talents he skipped right over the A's and started with B- bargain finder. Sure I can whip up a DIY project with the best of 'em, but when it comes to designing pieces to hang in our home for years to come, I leave that to the pros. So when John and Sherry over at Young House Love first mentioned these destination prints by Jen at The House Of Wood in a post of theirs, I immediately thought of how cool it would be to hang one or a few of these prints in our home.

While any combination of the prints would be great, I wanted them to mean something to the both of us. When I saw the Boston print and that she also offered custom design work, I knew having a Boston and a Charlottesville print hanging above our new, soon-to-be-built desk to honor the cities where we each attended college would be perfect. Well ladies and gentlemen, today my proof for the Cville print popped into my inbox, and in a few short weeks both of these beauties will be hanging in our new work/home office area.

How awesome are these?

Boston Destination Print, House of Wood

Charlottesville/UVA-inspired Custom Destination Print, House of Wood

And yes I mentioned new home office area. We're moving our computer workstation/office from the third bedroom into the second floor family room/den. Brent and I are off to our local Habitat Re-Store this weekend to find a hollow door so we can get started building our desk for the area, inspired by this post from none other than John and Sherry at Young House Love.

One of my goals for the New Year is to take more time to blog and document our home improvements, so I'll be sure to post progress pics of the family room!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Anyone reading this who has been to our house will know that our house has two main living areas: the main floor great room (open concept kitchen/living/dining room), and our second floor family room. When we moved into the house last May we decided that since the second floor family room was so open and airy, with 16+ foot ceilings and big windows, that it would be our media room/chill zone and that the main floor living area would be more formal (but not "don't sit on that!" formal). Since we moved into the house with one set of couches/side tables, we put them upstairs in the family room.

Now, 8 months later our great room is still sans living room furniture. Don't get me wrong, this was intentional on our part. We didn't want to rush into buying the first pieces we liked. We made the decision early on that we would wait until we'd lived in the space for a while (and painted) so we could really figure out what we wanted. After painting the house last November, and spending the better part of six months looking at Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware I finally knew what I wanted. Now I just needed to find the pieces at the right price!

Over Christmas we were in Calgary visiting family. One night the girls went to Crate and Barrel while the guys watched football at home. While casually browsing the store my eyes focused on "the chair" (or chair(s) as we needed and bought two). I quickly snapped a photo and BBM'd it to Brent back at the house. He really liked them but I wanted him to sit on the chair before we bought them, so we went back the next day. Brent loved it and we ordered two! Here's a couple pictures of the beauties. The first one was taken in the store with my BlackBerry and the other is from the C&B website.

I think they'll look great with one or two toss cushions on each!

Yesterday I got the call from C&B that the chairs had arrived and are ready for pickup. Great news, except that the pressure is now ON for finding and purchasing a couch, not to mention waiting for it to be delivered! I am pining for this Pottery Barn sofa:

Pottery Barn Buchanan sofa

I like the colour shown as it coordinates with the cushion on the chair. What do you think? I'm a little wary of buying a sofa from PB, as I've heard the quality doesn't match the price. Do any of you have experience (good or bad) with PB?