IKEA’s Tekla dish towels are a cult favorite for their low price and durability, but what makes them even better is that they can double as cloth napkins. I don’t know if you’ve looked at the price of cloth napkins lately, but they’re surprisingly expensive for a swath of fabric that’s inevitably going to be stained with red wine. With these, however, you can afford to stock up. They’re generously sized with a charming red border that reminds me of a French bistro, and I love the idea of pairing them with a linen tablecloth for casual dinners this fall. Plus, let’s face it, Thanksgiving is likely going to be a low key affair this year, so you may as well take it a step further with a selection of brass candlesticks (preferably vintage and cleaned up with Flitz polish) for a farm-to-table-inspired look.
Hey, I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend! We spent Saturday in the Milwaukee area going to a county park, having an outdoor lunch at a brewery, and swinging by IKEA. The latter of which didn’t feel nearly as safe as the other activities of the day. While IKEA is usually a madhouse, it felt more claustrophobic in the midst of a pandemic — not exactly what I was hoping for during my first retail outing since March, aside from Target and the grocery store. I definitely scratched that in-store itch that day, but a couple of hours of looking at home decor inspired me to continue making upgrades around the house before winter sets in.
As far as exterior projects are concerned, I finally painted our front porch railings matte black (see the before; progress photos to come). Inside, I started looking for a new living room rug. We’ve been using this wool rug that we purchased when we lived in the apartment. It’s nice and all, but it’s too small for the space and doesn’t really work with the direction our living room is moving in. We really want a vintage rug, but affordable ones are hard to come by and we’re not exactly frequenting antique stores to find one. So, we’re going the cheap route for the time being. I’ve read good things about the Loloi II line (they’re often cheaper here with the option for in-person returns) and narrowed it down to my three favorites above and put them into a collage with some of our other living room pieces. (The coffee table is also from the apartment and I’d like to replace it with something that better fits our mid-century-meets-traditional aesthetic. Possibly this one.)
Of the three we narrowed it down to, I really love the second one. However, in the up-close view, I don’t like the tufted look for a vintage-inspired rug as much as I like the thinner woven look of the other two. So, here’s what we’re looking at:
Dave is leaning more toward this one and I think I’m in agreement. I prefer blues and greens over warm hues and the background of this one has more of those cooler tones. That said, I don’t love the center medallion, but the coffee table will be over that. My biggest hesitation here is if the geometric patterns of our throw blankets and pillows will look out of place with the rug. Clearly I’m no stranger to pattern mixing, but those just seem so dissimilar that I’m pumping the brakes a bit.
Then there’s this rug that has a lot more red than I’m necessarily on board with. However, the pattern of this one doesn’t compete with the plaids and stripes as much as the other one does. Plus, I like that the border has a lot blues in the design.
Which one do you like? We’d be opting for the 7.5′ x 9.5′ size, so it’s only around the $160-170 mark and returnable at Walmart. I could always order one and see how it looks, but I’d really rather avoid the hassle and nail it on the first try!
Credenza (by Ekais; I don’t think they’re in business anymore.)
Artwork (c/o Minted)
Plaid Pillow (similar)
Leather Chair (ours has wood legs)
Couch (amazing quality; looks new after three years)
You may remember last year’s front porch project when we replaced our screen door. And, now, we’re another step closer to completing the front porch now that we’ve stained the floor!
The process wasn’t without its frustrations, though, as you’ll see below. But first, let’s start with a before photo of the front of our house. (Side note: you’ll notice that the siding looks different in just about every photo depending on the light. The most true color is what you see above. It’s also in desperate need of a powerwash.)
Okay, so this isn’t a real before image when the entire bottom portion of the house was unpainted wood and we still had the old storm door, but this gives you an idea of what we’re working with. Ultimately, we’d like to give our house a full face lift. The original front porch that went along the front of the house had been closed off years ago. We’d like to add more windows (vertical, double-hung) to give the home more appropriate historic curb appeal. Plus, that door to the right is permanently sealed. It would have led to the porch at some point. We need to have that removed and scrounge up enough siding remnants to close it in from the outside. Whenever we’re able to do this, we’ll redo the front stairs entirely. They’re someone’s DIY project and they’re not even deep enough for kickboards. But, as with everything, these lofty plans cost a lot of money and we needed to do something to make it cuter in the meantime.
We had left the wood raw for the last three years as we hemmed and hawed over the the pros and cons of paint versus stain. I preferred the opacity of paint, but everyone seemed to be pushing us toward stain because of its durability. It wasn’t until earlier this summer that I discovered that Sherwin-Williams carries an opaque stain, which is the best of both worlds!
I was a bit cavalier about my selection of colors, holding up the color chips to the siding and went with my first impulse: Gray Birch. From the sample, it seemed to be a warm, light gray. Clearly, I wrong:
There were so many blue undertones to this stain that it appeared baby blue next to the color of our siding. I probably should have stopped earlier, but I kept wondering if it would dry differently or that I’d like it if I really gave it a fair shot. Instead, I hated it more and more. At one point, I thought I ordered the wrong color and peeled the chip off the card to hold against the applied stain. A perfect match. It’s just that blue.
(P.S. We’d eventually stain those stair risers when we figured out the right color.)
After that fiasco, I had about a half-gallon left and talked to Sherwin-Williams to see how I should proceed. They told me that the wood could really only hold one more coat of stain before it would just chip off and ruin the integrity of the product. They stained it deeper, getting closer to the King’s Canyon color and gave me a paint stick dipped in the hue to hold up against the house. That ended up having purple undertones, so I switched gears entirely and picked a new area of the color chart to try, opting for Wet Clay (above, left) and Flagstone. (They weren’t able to do samples of these in stain, but were able to give me paint to use on a piece of poster board to check against the house.) These colors had more yellow to the base and ended up being really great options. (Let that be a lesson to you to always get samples first!) I went with Wet Clay and the second coat of applied stain completely covered the first without any hints of color coming through.
Note: I’m unable to find the Wet Clay stain color on the Sherwin-Williams website. The color code is SW 3083.
I am so happy with how it turned out! I can’t speak to the durability of the color until we get through a Wisconsin winter, but I did try to chip at it with my fingernail and it held tight.
So, next on the list is doing something about those iron railings (might replace, might just spray paint them matte black with Rust-Oleum), touching up the white paint, and replacing the sconces. In full disclosure, I don’t mind the shape of the sconces, but they are so incredibly flimsy and cheap — and they’re starting to rust. I’m planning to spend time researching sconces this weekend and will share a roundup next week!
Sources: Andersen storm door | CB2 mailbox (also love this one) | House of Antique Hardware doorbell | Sherwin-Williams SuperDeck opaque stain in Wet Clay
If you were stopping by today for my picks from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I’m sorry to disappoint. I haven’t had much interest in shopping the sale this year (even if I’m intrigued by this coat), so instead you’re getting a roundup of 10 accent mirrors! This was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend last week when she reached out for my opinion on two mirrors she had purchased for her home. After a few texts back and forth, we decided that neither mirror was quite right and set to the internet to find alternatives. It seemed silly to have all of that research relinquished to a string of iMessages, so I thought I’d share them with you along with a few others that caught my eye. After all, sprucing up your place is one of the best pandemic distractions to have on the heels of autumn when we’ll all be spending a lot more time indoors.
To browse the selection, click through the slideshow below.
Each picture is linked to the retailer’s site.
I know this is the epitome of first-world problems (and I’m grateful I can even complain about this because I’ve been healthy), but one of the most difficult things about the global pandemic is not being able to travel. In a typical year, we would have already had at least one getaway by now. And while we were able to do long weekends in Chicago and Milwaukee before the world was turned upside down, it’s not nearly the same as our usual spring jaunts that Facebook is so helpfully reminding me of almost daily. (Yes, I know we were in Portugal one year ago … yep, I know Austin was two years ago … please stop.) These May trips are largely because my birthday is at the end of the month (tomorrow, in fact!) and I like to plan a jaunt to celebrate another trip around the sun. This year is just as memorable, of course, but not for the right reasons! Below, you’ll find a roundup of the things I bought during my birthday month.
I did order a couple of dresses (this and this) from Shopbop yesterday that are scheduled to arrive today (one of the perks of living in the same city as its warehouse!). Fingers crossed that I’ll be celebrating my birthday in one of them!
PURCHASED – FOR ME
See all of this year’s sartorial additions here.
- J.Crew seaside short in chambray – I’m all about easy, pull-on shorts for summer bike rides when I don’t want to wear athletic clothes. These run true to size, but they get a bit stretched out at the end of the day. I just ordered a size smaller to have on hand, too, since I’ve been shedding some of this COVID weight — finally.
- Halogen x Atlantic-Pacific polka dot utility jacket – This is a great pairing of a classic silhouette and a whimsical twist. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it! It runs true to size.
- Madewell pull-on shorts in black – For the same reasons as above, I snagged this pair of shorts from Madewell. It’s hard to find shorts to accommodate an ample rear end and thighs, and these fit the bill. These also run true to size.
PURCHASED – FOR HOME
- Schoolhouse Electric ‘Blooming Field’ duvet cover – I can’t even tell you how much I love this! I bought the pillow shams last year after falling head-over-heels for the pattern. Twelve months later, still obsessed with the design, I ordered the matching duvet cover. It’s such a great print that brings in a floral that isn’t too feminine.
- Target self-watering planters – This isn’t very exciting, which is why I didn’t include them in the photo above. However, if you’re looking for inexpensive, lightweight planters for your patio garden, these are great options!
DIDN’T WORK OUT
Things I tried and didn’t love.
- J.Crew seaside short in stripe – Unlike the chambray pair, this one fits a bit tighter and just didn’t look as cute. It kind of reminds me of the stripes a stereotypical train conductor wears.
- En Saison striped tiered babydoll dress – Kudos to the brand for having a lining in a loose dress that isn’t tighter than the dress itself! However, the dress ran large and the ruffled sleeves made me look wide on top.
- Luv Aj mother-of-pearl circle hoops – These are so pretty, so I was disappointed to see that the pearl design is only on one side of the earring. The back is all gold, which is easily seen when worn. There are better earrings out there for the price point.