Evolution of a Living Room

Like many projects in this house, our living room is a work in progress.  This is our living room in our last house, which had somehow evolved into a very traditional space that I had grown tired of.

In particular the silk flowers and ficus had to go.  I still love those sconces though.

In this house we're going for a lighter, brighter space.  This is how our new living room started out (this photo was taken at our inspection before we bought the house):

This room holds my little office, hidden away in our old TV armoire.
You can read more about my armoire home office here.

I've spent the better half of 8 months painting my way through every nook and cranny of this house, and one of the most gratifying things I tackled was the natural woodwork that I primed and painted (all the while, a cute little redhead napped on the couch). 

One of my favorite elements of this space is the huge window that overlooks a perennial garden. 
Lace hydrangea that blooms from August until October is right outside this window, and beyond that you can see the Rose of Sharon bushes all in bloom last August. 
The window sill was tiled to match the original rosy wall color (mmmmm, gorgeous right?).

Midway through this painting project, after the walls were ensconced in the lovely, warm off white of Ben Moore's Feather Down but the trim was yet to be finishined, we had a family party, so I put away the paint cans and the next thing you know,
2 months had gone by with the room half-painted. 
That's how things work around here. 

At long last I got the painting finished, but the hard part remained:  pulling it all together.
Let's distract the eye with pretty flowers, shall we?
The whole "pulling it together" part had me feeling like this every time I walked in the room:

The challenge was to use the furnishings we already had.  We really wanted a more neutral space than our old living room, so I used our seagrass rug from our former dining room instead of the oriental we'd used before and I love it in this space!  My husband's only request was "heavy curtains like we had in our old dining room".  I brought home about 10 sets of curtains that he vetoed (and he doesn't usually care one way or the other, so the fact that he took such a keen interest in this topic kind of amused me!)

Here it is today, all painted up shiny and new, curtains hung, but still in need of much tweaking.
Those crazy chairs are calling out for slipcovers but that'll have to wait for another year.
Even the rosy window sills didn't escape a makevoer!  {More on the crazy notion of painting over tile to come.}

From my favorite spot on the couch I can see through the Frech doors (that need to lose those brass knobs) into the foyer (calling out for the staircase to be finished) and beyond that, the family room (in desperate need of new end tables). 
While I have so much tweaking ahead of me (Robert Frost's "and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep" comes to mind), I can't tell you how much I adore sitting here, listening to my kiddos happily playing outside with the neighbors, thinking about how this house is truly becoming

our home.

What do you think of the living room so far?
Come on in, sit down and let's chat about it over a glass of wine. 
I always love visiting with you!

Linking up - thanks so much for hosting, ladies!

Beneath My Heart's Best DIY Projects of March

Domestically Speaking



Mangia Mondays 3:: Creamy and Delicious Spinach Artichoke Dip

Welcome to week three of Mangia Mondays, a fun recipe blog hop I co-host with the fabulous Kristin of Delightfully Dowling!  Thanks so much to those of you who linked up last week; I always love to see what everyone else has had success with in their kitchen and inevitably end up printing out hordes of new recipes to try!

Over the years I've tried many a spinach & artichoke dip recipe, and this one is by far my fave and the only one I go to now.  What could be better than a hot dip with creamy Alouette in it?  I'm a big fan of Alouette - big fan.  Give this one a try next time you're expecting company - it's great to make ahead and warm up as guests come through the door!

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
{Print Recipe}
1/4 cup fresh shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz. package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I substitute w/olive oil)
1 8 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup half & half
2 oz. garlic herb cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Don't you think we should rename artichoke hearts artichoke roses?? 
I love finding pretty in the everyday.

In a large pan, saute shallots and garlic in butter or oil over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Chop artichoke hearts and add to pan along with spinach.
 Cook for 1 minute, then add cream, garlic herb cheese, salt and pepper. 
Simmer until cheese is melted, stirring to combine. 
Remove from heat and fold in grated Parmesan.  I grated the cheese right into the pan and just eyeball the amount.
Place in heatproof crock pot or ramekin and serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or crackers.  Right now I'm digging these blue tortilla chips and they are sturdy enough for spinach artichoke dip! 
May be made ahead, chilled and reheated at 300 degrees for 10 minutes.

Now lets see what's tickling your fancy in your kitchen these days! 

Mangia Mondays Guidelines:
Add a link to your recipe or food post {not your blog homepage} & visit some of the others who have linked up before you.

•Please don't link to giveaways, other link parties or items you are selling.

•Link back by putting the Mangia Mondays button in your post or anywhere on your blog to let others know you've joined the party.

•Help spread the word about Mangia Mondays with others by sharing this post!


A Trip Back to the 80s and Braided Ribbon Barrettes

I had an altogether different post in the works for today, but seeing as Blogger apparently hates me, and my daughter claims I don't share enough crafty fun on here....I thought you might enjoy a trip back in time. 
Welcome back to the 1980s!

I think we could all agree that most styles from the 80s should be left there......

That was one hideous decade fashion-wise!  Just about the only trend I can think of that shouldn't be left in the 80s is one of my favorite styles when I was a girl - ribbon barrettes.  I had every color ribbon known to mankind and used to make them endlessly with my friend Seona, one for every outfit.  Sweats by Ebe, anyone???  You know, with the coordinating stripe down the side of the pants?  I had ribbon barrettes to match all my Sweats by Ebe.  It was a sweeeeeet look.

Hannah and her friend Meghan set to work making a bunch and modeling them for me while I belted out tunes from Olivia Newton-John and Rick Springfield (Jessie's Girl is a classic!  Go ahead and listen, you know you want to!)  PS, I delight in embarrassing my kids with my horrible singing voice. 

Create a playlist at MixPod.com

The 80s fashion was an eyesore, but the music was wicked awesome!

Um, where were we?  Oh yes, ribbon barrettes.  So fun and nostalgic to make!  I taught the girls to braid the ribbon from a technique that I found deep in the recesses of my brain, but this tutorial at Wee Folk Art explains the process really well.  We all felt a bit like butterfingers at first but eventually got the hang of it.  And I am serious when I tell you some 80s music really helps to get into the groove of braided ribbon barrette making!  I highly recommend it for any and all craft projects.

Get yourself some 1/8" ribbon and double-bar barrettes.

I had giant spools of ribbon left over from a Girl Scout project.....
...so we made some St. Paddy's Day barrettes too. 
The wider 1/4" ribbon gives the barrettes this smooshed-up look that I think is cute. 
Oh to be 10 again!

Talking about the 80s makes me want to have a random 80s themed party in the worst way!  Pegged pants, "coaching shoes", neon paint-splattered jeans, big hair - how much fun would that be???
I hope this trip back in time brought a smile to your face! 
Have a great day!

Linking to these fabulous blogs!


Creations by Kara

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