Housiversary: Year 7

Technically, the 7th anniversary of my move-in happened in July. So I’m running, oh, 2 months behind schedule at this point. Sounds about right. Happy belated, house!

This year has been crazy. I find myself plodding through one of those times in life notable mostly for its impressive and sustained level of stress. I’m not sure when or how that will change, but I know this: it needs to. On good days I am reminded that there is more to life than the things I worry about, and I need to pursue those things again.

In that spirit, I gave myself an afternoon to work on, yes, but also enjoy the house I bought 7 years ago (and refinanced in August!)

HOLY SMOKES there’s a couch now! A non hand-me-down, non Ikea couch!

This is the Dublexo by Innovative Living. It does the couch thing very well, but also:


It’s got Funky Day Bed Mode and Sleeper Sofa Mode! We test drove this functionality by staying in last night and finally — after 5 failed attempts — finishing the movie Dune. I think the couch was instrumental to our success. We started sitting upright but transitioned to a horizontal viewing position sometime around the appearance of Sting’s metal diaper.

Not too long ago I thought I might like to buy a vintage mid-century couch and fix it up myself, but with the limited time I have for projects… nahhh. I didn’t need to spend weekends worrying about how to get an 8-foot frame to an upholsterer. I needed my life to be easy for a change. And thanks to the great people at Cella Luxuria, that’s exactly what it was.



Normally I would make some attempt to color-correct these but whatever LIFE IS SHORT. But I did spend a couple hours framing up part of my feather collection. I’ve been unsure of what to do with them for a while now, but I finally think I like them grouped and wall-mounted here.

And here. Uh, I have a lot of feathers.

That does it for now! Happy 7 years, house. I’m tired and I have nothing coherent to say, but you’re always here for me when life gets like that. <3



Housiversary: Year Five

In late July of this year, I celebrated my 5-year anniversary in the house. I celebrated by not remembering it was our 5-year anniversary.

I have fallen down on my bloggerly duties, but in my defense, it’s been a remarkably busy year work-wise. I’ve been involved in a ton of freelance projects, I’m charging through the last class of my graduate certificate in graphic design, and um, I made this silly thing and it went viral.

Instead of working on the house, I’ve been living in it. And designing websites in it. And cooking in it. And trying to get as much sleep in it as possible. So I’m going to cheat this year and give you a collage of “living in it” photographs. Because let’s be honest, I’m two months late with this post already and I don’t even know where my real camera is right now (at my office…?), and I haven’t vacuumed in weeks. No one wants to see my dust bunnies.

Living room:


Still love this space. It’s my own personal museum, complete with cow rug, deer skull, drawings, art books, plants that welcome my neglect, a gecko named Ox, and hey look! I finally bought a bike! Not much has changed in here this year, aside from expanding and reorganizing the collection of wackiness.

Dining room:


The dining room did get a bit of attention, with the relocation of the bar to the floating hutch. Also I have a (not-pictured) rug! Worst blogger ever.



This is where I show you a bunch of examples of me eating healthy. The fried eggs drenched it in soy sauce at 2:00am are never instragramed.




Purple closets: not pictured, but still here.

Craft room:


BEAR SKULL. Also, I’m glad I went with this cheap framing solution for the blueprint. It looks so much more intentional hanging here now.



This is where the Dating Ipsum happens.


No one instagrams their bathroom. Not much new in here… I painted this cabinet. So there’s that.

Front porch / back yard:


Hey remember my ambitious plan to clean up the back yard? Didn’t happen! Shocking! Perhaps early next spring. I’d at least love to get the old fencing replaced by planting time.

So that’s it. Thanks, house, for being the safe space where I get to relax and embrace the quirkiness within. The last five years have been a bit of a tricky time in my life, but you’ve provided some much-needed stability and I’m grateful to be able to call you my home. And compared to where we were in 2008, really, I’d say neither of us is shaping up badly at all.

Housiverary: Year Four

Well, it’s happened again: I’ve squandered another perfectly good year living in the little house way, way north of all the trendy neighborhoods you’ve heard of.

(Oh, house. I don’t really mean that.)

At some point during this year of — I’m going to disinfect it and package it up neatly and label it “change” — I fell in love with this quirky place in which I live. Part of it is just exposure; I’ve been home more this year than I ever have before. Part of it is progress; for the first time every room in the house is functioning (which I concede is different from being finished, but still).

Part of it is that, during this year in which loneliness has had such an exasperatingly persistent grip on me, I’ve had more company than ever. Old friends, new friends, friends I hadn’t seen in years all dropped by and toured the house. And it’s been fascinating to hear their thoughts on the place — from the baffling “It looks as though no one lives here” to the somewhat-true “You have kind of a death thing going on in here, don’t you?” to the coveted “I would buy this” to the pleasantly surprising “I think you’ve been talking this place down. It’s way nicer than you let on.”

Thanks for visiting, everyone. I’ve enjoyed sharing my home with you. And for those who haven’t made it to the funny house in that neighborhood north of everything, here’s my yearly visual tour.


I always start here, although nothing much changes anymore. There’s a new faucet, of course.

Through a complicated family situation, I somehow inherited an entire set of Le Cresuet cookware this year. I know. I know. They’re amazing.

Dining room:

The liquor assortment has expanded again, which is good. Lack of a rug is still bad.

Let’s hop upstairs for a bit. You’ve seen the office recently, so no need to rehash that:

I’m sitting at that desk right now. It is already considerably less tidy. Somewhere behind me is a bookshelf, but you know this.

And you’ve seen a bit of the craft room, too:

Also needs a rug. So expensive.

The bathroom:

I’ve done the least in this room. I think the only thing that changed this year is that I added the plant and managed not to neglect it. Low-light plants are this house’s friend.

The bedroom:

A year an a half removed from the long, tedious, expensive process of renovating this room fully, and I’m so, so glad I (well, we — this was a team effort) did it. It was worth every dollar. Whenever I come home tired, cranky, sweaty and thirsty, collapsing here immediately puts me at ease. If I anticipate a long day, I’ll often make the bed, turn a corner of the sheets down, leave a glass of water by the bedside table and a nightlight on. And when I come home, I feel…cared for. Caring for yourself is important.

That grey fuzzy sheepskin finally went on sale at IKEA. I was so excited I almost bought two.

I continue to thrift All The Clothes.

And now my favorite room, the room that makes me smile every time I turn the key in the front door:

I hope to do a time-lapse animation of the living room over the past four years. The change continues to astound me. And I did most of the work.

Pipe shelving unit: still holding up. Gecko: still hiding from the daylight.

Probably time to get rid of the birthday balloons…?

Art: still collecting.

So that’s everything! House, I’m proud of how far we’ve come together. Thank you for being a comforting place for me, and for not throwing any major curve balls this year. Everyone else: come visit and we’ll mix drinks sometime?

Housiverary: Year Three, Floor Two

I neglected to post a tour of the second story in last year’s anniversary recap.  I kept meaning to, but I guess the thought of spending any more time documenting that bedroom was too depressing.  No longer!  The booby-trapped blue ceiling has been vanquished.

But before we get there, let’s start out in the hallway.

The baseboards aren’t finished, of course, but I’ve at least purchased them!  And put them in a pile.  A pile that has been there since February.

I hate cutting baseboards.

(When I’m ready to Get Over It Already, the plan is to keep that tall board on the right, but to clean it up a bit by adding trim around the top edge.  Then I’ll do regular baseboards on the left side.)

I did manage to reorganized this little linen closet, though!

It might not be much to look at, but having designated spaces for cleaning supplies and light bulbs makes me happy.  I’m a big fan of designated spaces.

Ignore the terrible Home Depot bargain bin light fixture to the right.  Its days are numbered.  Do I recognize a crazy DIY chandelier opportunity?


Moving on to the bathroom:

The bathroom is kinda meh.  The finishes on the metal fixtures don’t match at all, I only painted half of the room, and I am intentionally hiding from you the acrylic bath fitter.  Which isn’t awful to look at, really; it’s more that listening to water hit a series of hollow plastic soap shelves is the opposite of relaxing.

Someday (maybe this year or next?) I’d like to refinish the tub and tile the shower.  I’ll most likely attempt the tiling myself.  Drama will ensue.


Checking in on the middle bedroom:

I like it much better without its terrible closets.  But this room, like the dining room, still feels like it needs some tweaking.  When I walk in here (and I find that I hang out in this room often), I tend to sit right down on the floor.  So that might be an indication that we have a furniture problem.

I think it’s that the wire legs of the butterfly chair make me nervous about scratching the laminate.  Everything makes me nervous about scratching the laminate, though, because everything does scratch it.  Rugs.  I need rugs.


We’re going to skip the office this year as it is currently a big pile of boxes left over from emptying my bedroom.  Whoops.


But let’s end this post on a high note!  Here’s that bedroom with the fun purple closets again:

Slightly less pretty now that we have the air conditioner to deal with, but hey.

Still love the purple doors.  Love having the new bookcase/vanity.

The fan was also such a crucial improvement.  It was my contractor’s idea, but I use it all the time.

I’m still waiting for an inspired idea for dealing with this empty wall.  I’m thinking maybe a collage of old botanical illustrations, but I don’t want it to compete with the ferns over the headboard.  Might be to matchy-matchy.

Hmm.  Glow in the dark stars?  Kidding!


So there you have it!  A full house tour, minus one bedroom.  In summary it was a productive year, but I still have lots of project ideas brewing and I’m not sure which I’ll end up tackling next.  Hopefully you’ll hang around and see?

Housiversary: Year Three, Floor One

Throughout the past decade, my mother has witnessed me make all of my life’s risky decisions.  To go to art school.  To move to a big city.  To turn down a teaching job.  To take a job at a non-profit with an 80-mile daily commute.  To quit that job a few years later, in a down economy.  And, of course, to buy this tiny house in a neighborhood on the fringe.

I must have given Mom a few good scares along the way.  But even if I did, she never wavered in her support, saying only “send me a map of the neighborhoods you’re looking at” when I first shared with her the itch I had to own a little home of my own.

She helped me buy this house and she helped me move all of my things.  But she never set foot in the place again, choosing instead to let me paint and drill and make mistakes and find my own way, while relying on this blog for pictures of my progress.

She was wise and brave and loving — straight through the end of her life.

I get to do interesting things — blog, create, work as a designer (I do!?  I do.) — because of my parents’ support.  Right now it’s not easy to be creative, though, and it seems almost silly to catalog the last year in terms of the changes I made to this house — what inconsequential changes they are.  But I know I need to keep going, keep working, keep taking risks.  And besides, Mom loved pictures.  So here they are.

The kitchen.

Not many changes to report in here.  Hmm.  I got a new trashcan…?  But I kind of hate it?

The kitchen is in pretty good shape at this point.  A quick sink and countertop upgrade is all that remains on the to-do list.  (It would be great to knock out some walls and create an uber-eat-in-kitchen out of my tiny kitchen + tiny dining room, but my wallet weeps at the thought.)

Now, the dining room.

Really, the best upgrade is here has been to the selection of booze, as previously there was nothing to select from.

This window needs work.  Bigger, wider, longer curtains, and a rolling screen would be a good start.

I feel like the rest of the dining room needs work, too.  The table is problematic in this confined space; maybe something longer and narrower would be better?  A rug would also help, and something to fill the blank wall behind the table… a picture rail?  A shelf?  I’m not sure how I want to tweak this room, but it doesn’t give off the inviting vibe I’m looking for just yet.

So let’s jump to the living room.

Not bad, but I can’t believe I’ve lived this long with those scrawny throw pillows.  And both of those stumpy lamps.  I could be lounging with much greater style and ease if I gave the couch situation a little attention.

Speaking of attention: the cow rug demands yours.  I have now positioned it in such a way that you have to walk on it.  It points across the space to the pipe shelves.

(Ox is sleeping in the plant on the left, but you can’t see him.  And that’s how he likes it.)

I’m pleased to report that the pipe shelving unit is still going strong.  I’m especially pleased that the shelves haven’t sagged over the last few years.  This thing may be indestructible.

But the pipes are old news.  The new feature in the living room this year is the media cabinet I DIYed.

Season 5 of Lost, what are you doing in my picture?!

The more I look at this little cabinet, the more I really like its simplicity.  I think it’s inspiring me to pare down my collection of stuff a little bit.

Pare fail.

(It’s a process!)

I still need to address the dirty brick fireplace area.  I know I don’t want to leave the brick completely as-is, but I’m not sure I want to paint over it with the standard opaque white, either.  Perhaps the solution will be some sort of color wash and a good sealant?  I’ll need to do a lot of research before I pick a method, but if any of you have experience modifying interior brick I’d love to hear your ideas.  I even fed this question to Apartment Therapy, but the responses were either “leave it the way it is!” (no way) or “rip the entire thing out!” (no way).  I want to keep it, but I want it to be a little less loud.  And a lot less grungy.

Otherwise, I think the living room is shaping up nicely.  At the moment my storage solutions work pretty well, which helps keeps the space tidy.  I clearly still need baseboards, though.  Just how many yearly wrap-up posts will you have to suffer through before I can show you pictures of baseboards?  Stay tuned.

Also stay tuned for the 2nd floor wrap-up later this week.  That’s where all the big changes happened (and where all the big money went).

2 Years – Living Room

Whenever I feel depressed about the speed of progress around the house, I just drag out this picture. It was taken about 3 weeks after I moved in. The walls are blue, the kitchen is yellow, the curtains are lace, the floor is carpeted, and my stuff is everywhere.

I’m still not completely in love with my living room, but I’m certainly closer! Here’s a shot taken from the same position today:

And facing the opposite way:

If you guessed that the sculpture by my front door is there only because I’ve been avoiding carrying it back down the stairs into my basement, you get a sticker. Heavy sucker. If it stays there long enough, I might start using it as a coat hook.

I still love my cow rug, which is a relief considering how much of a presence it has in this room. It’s the easiest thing in the world to care for, though. Just sweep it off with a broom along the grain of the hair, or wash it with a sponge the same way.

If I were a real design blogger, with sponsors and advertisers and product reviews and fancy stuff, I would totally have styled this shot on the left with some summer scarves and, like, a burlap grocery bag full of flowers. But hey, this is how the house actually looks. I hang coats on my coat hooks. And I never have money for flowers.

The pipe shelving unit project is a favorite accomplishment. It has become something of a curio cabinet for me, attracting all kind of feathers, seeds, plants, shells, and art about feathers, seeds, plants and shells.

I do rotate items frequently, which keeps it fun. I’m trying not to bog this unit down with too much stuff.

Well, except for the gecko. He’ll be a permanent fixture once he’s big enough to move into the new vivarium.

Here’s the rest of the art collection:

These pieces also rotate. I’ll probably need to do some editing of the wall-o’-art in the near future; I’ve gathered a whole lot of stuff.

I like the effect for now, though.

And now it’s time to talk about the lingering ugly bits. Because while I may have a cute end table on this side of the sofa…

… what the heck is this thing? A bland Ikea bookcase holding a yoga mat and a cricket cage? No good. This should obviously be some kind of low, modern side table/credenza with doors to hide all of the weirdness. Like this thing. Too bad all the good thrifting for such furniture is on the west coast.

I think I have settled on using two end tables, though, over a coffee table. My living room is a decent size for a small Philly rowhome, but the space is long and skinny. Having that coffee table in the dead center of the room really messes up the flow of traffic. Which is why my table is here:

Yeah. That’s… special. I’m also going to need a low, modern media storage system, aren’t I. Why is attractive furniture so hard to get? Can’t I just build it all with pipes?

Oh, and then there’s that thing. Right. Pipes won’t fix that nonsense.

Ooorrr that situation. The astute among you may have noticed that my cable box is hiding somewhere that is nowhere near my TV. Definitely need to fix the wiring and consolidate this mess within a media storage unit.

And then there’s this. Every time my heating contractor comes in here, he tells me not to paint the brick. I remain unconvinced. I’ve scrubbed the heck out of these floor-level puppies and that’s as clean as they get.

Something’s getting painted. I don’t know what and I don’t know what color it will be, but it needs to happen soon.

2 Years – Kitchen and Dining Room

My 2-year house anniversary post is very belated. Truthfully, I haven’t accomplished much this summer. Instead of painting and crafting, a lot of my time went into applying and interviewing for new jobs. It took 7 interviews, guys. It’s tough out there.

But that initial effort has resulted in a much happier, healthier blog author today. There’s even a little extra money kicking around for new projects (if I can manage to stop spending it on work-appropriate clothing!).

For this year’s entry, I’ve decided to go for honesty. I’ve made definite improvements to each room in the house, but lingering ugly spots remain. And ugly spots are entertaining, too, so I’m not gonna hide them from you.

Let’s start with The World’s Smallest Kitchen ™!

Man, every year I do this post I wish that my camera hadn’t been stolen, robbing me of all of my before pictures. These crappy inspection photos are worthless.

Anyway, that was then. Here’s where we are today:

The open shelving project has turned out to be one of my favorite things about this room. I had some concerns going in; people warned me that my dishes would get dusty or sticky, plus I cheaped out and went with some Ikea laminate shelves, so I was worried they might warp or peel. But so far, I have to say that the entire arrangement has been trouble-free.

And if you happen to have nice dishes (thanks, Mom!), it’s really lovely to see everything out in the open.

My second-favorite thing is this little window of bottles and plants. I rotate items in and out of this arrangement pretty frequently. Translation: sometimes I kill things.

I like the way the closed containers fog up in the morning.

And now for the ugly. I’ve pretty successfully rid this room of the ugly, except for one thing:

Sky. Blue. Counter tops. I’ve lived with them long enough now that I no longer wonder WHY anyone would pick this color every time I peek at them. And that scares me.

Let’s move to the dining room!

Ouch. Let’s not. I’m looking at this now and wondering if the green (?!) counter top in this room was picked to match the green chairs. I can offer no other explanation.

Today we’re a little better off, color-wise:

We still have the green and it still needs to go, but at least there isn’t any yellow for it to fight with.

That thing in the corner of the first picture is my gecko’s starter terrarium. He’s been living in this room because it has an air conditioner, and apparently I care more about moderating his temperature than I do my own.

I see you!

This is the first room I started working on, and it’s probably time to revisit it. I’d like to use this radiator cover space in a more interesting way. The room could use a rug, too.

Hulk smash green counter top! But that’s not even the ugliest bit:

Ah yes, the mouse hole that I plugged with steel wool, caulk, and a boat load of poison. Also, the electrical outlet that was stuffed into a hole far too big for it, and is therefore screwed to nothing.

I could fix most of this situation with baseboards, if I ever get around to baseboards. The kitchen had some that I saved when the floors were redone, but the living room had nothing. I don’t know if I can match the old ones so I haven’t reinstalled them.

Yeah. That’s a pretty poor effort.

Coming soon: the living room and more!


Happy one year anniversary, house! On this day last year, after making it through closing, I found myself alone in your living room, sitting on some funky-smelling purple carpet, a wave of terror rushing over me. Just how much time, money and effort it would take to make you look anything less than hideous had very suddenly become clear. The task was daunting. No, it was paralyzing.

But that was a year ago. A “one day at a time, one project at a time” attitude has gotten us surprisingly far since then. And I think we should celebrate with… an enormous image post!

First, the kitchen:

That was then, this is now:

The dining room back then:

I see you, mom and dad!

And now:

And my proudest accomplishment so far, the living room:

And today:

Well, we don’t yet have baseboards or rugs, and window treatments are something of a dream. But now I have confidence that we’ll get there. Maybe next year, even.

(Just don’t ask me about the second floor ;)