going green

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one of the great things about moving into this new old house is that there’s lots of work to be done. i know that sounds daunting to some, but i see it as an opportunity. it’s a chance for me to make it my own. if someone had bought it and renovated before me, they probably would have gutted the bathroom and removed the old hex tiles and the strange art deco wall sconces that are marked with rust spots. they would have pulled out the old kitchen cabinets, sad as they are, and replaced the vintage tiles with some dark slab of granite. sure, it would be functional, but i can tell you right now, it certainly wouldn’t be pretty.

so i’ve taken on the massive project of attempting to restore this place to it’s original charm. and as i sit here day after day, working on one project after the other and planning my dream house, i’ve started to see possibilities beyond just the cosmetic. it started with the centralized air conditioning. this house doesn’t have it. it’s so hot in this part of the world, it’s hard to believe people have survived every summer in this house without central air conditioning for nearly 100 years. but that’s what got me thinking. perhaps people have survived because the house is efficient enough just the way it is. or at least close to it. perhaps there are energy-efficient alternatives to just slapping a big old refrigeration unit on the roof and adding pollution to the environment and digits to my energy bill.

so that’s was how i fell down the energy-efficiency rabbit hole. i’ve been doing research on all of the ways that i can bring this house into the 21st century, not with the decor, but with smart energy alternatives. i’m by no means an expert, but i figured i might as well share what i’ve been thinking about!

1. an energy-efficient ducted evaporative cooler. yes, in other words, a swamp cooler. but a centralized, ducted swamp cooler that will look and feel just like a traditional refrigeration unit, but for a fraction of the price. we live in a hot summer mediterranean climate, which means the additional moisture in the air will be welcome relief from the dry air outside. and i really appreciate that it won’t be adding as much pollution to the air by using excessive amounts of energy to operate. i’m sure there will be a couple of days out of the year when it won’t work quite as well as we’d like it to, but did i mention that people have somehow survived in this house sans a/c for nearly 100 years? i think we’ll pull through.

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2. recycled denim insulation. one of the next projects i’ll be tackling is putting up insulation and drywall in my 900 sq. ft. detached garage so i can fulfill my dream of turning it into a studio space. one of the first things i found in my search was recycled denim insulation. it’s eco-friendly, energy efficient, and, considering my occupation, it’s kinda fun knowing that the walls of my garage will be filled with old pairs of jeans. there’s even a program called blue jeans go green that accepts donations of old denim jeans to recycle into insulation that they then donate to communities in need. there are a bunch of retailers who accept donations including madewell, j.crew, and neiman marcus. and for the record, i was not asked to write about this program or paid to mention it. i just think it’s really cool!

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3. solar panels. what used to be a very expensive luxury, has now become a super smart and affordable option. we have several friends who install solar panels for a living, and they’ve been introducing us to different options for affordable installation. if we’re successful in keeping our energy use low, we might not even need the solar panels, but it’s something that i definitely want to explore.

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4. vintage! how perfectly convenient that one way to reduce your carbon footprint is to buy used and vintage furniture and decor (and clothes and anything else). yes, some modern conveniences are better purchased new, but i’ve been having a lot of fun searching websites like krrb and taking frequent trips to flea markets, thrift stores, and antique shops on the hunt for a mix of art deco, mid century modern, and 1970s bohemian styles to decorate my home. they just don’t make furniture like they used to, and if you find a quality pieces, with a little bit of elbow grease, you can count on it lasting for many more years to come.

and the same concept also applies to the house itself. i think i’ve already mentioned that we plan to refinish the current wood flooring. instead of demolishing the whole thing and installing something new, i’m willing to accept a few stains here and there. it adds character to the house, and nothing beats the quality of vintage wood floors. i’ll also be making an effort to search through salvage yards for supplies before heading to the big box stores when it comes to renovations.

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5. grey water. specifically, we’re looking into residential grey water irrigation. if you hadn’t heard, california is in the middle of a record-breaking drought. it hardly makes sense to be watering our plants with actual drinking water! and while some of these systems can be really expensive to install, there are affordable options. in particular, i’m curious about trying a laundry-to-landscape system that recycles the water from your washing machine to irrigate your plants outside. and in the city of redlands where we live, they’re currently converting the irrigation downtown to a grey water system, which makes me hopeful that there will be some programs to incentivize their installation in the near future.

6. drought-resistant landscaping. i suppose this is a no-brainer considering that drought i mentioned, but you’d be surprised to see that the status quo in most suburban cities still includes a lush, manicured lawn. our house certainly came with two beautiful lawns when we bought it. we’ve been maintaining them in the interim, but i’m excited to look into ways to reduce our water usage while still enjoying the outdoors.

have you made any energy-efficient or water-saving renovations or quick fixes for your home? am i missing anything crucial in my list?

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smeg

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if you’ve spent any amount of time on pinterest, then you’ve probably found yourself drooling over impossible pictures of dream kitchens. i’ve been spending countless hours doing just that, because one of the larger projects that i knew i wanted to tackle in my new house was the kitchen. the house was built in 1926, but the whole kitchen was gutted and redone in 1970. at some point, i promise to share some really good “before” photos, but you can see some glimpses here: dark stained cabinets, sickly sea green tiles, and an avocado green oven! i can only assume that at one point, there was also a matching avocado refrigerator.

since i’m looking at my house as more of a restoration rather than a renovation, you might think that i’d be looking to go with a historically accurate 1920s-style kitchen. but if you really start to do research on kitchens of that era, you’ll see that they really don’t lend themselves to modern practicality. i think many people still had wood burning stoves and ice boxes! so instead, i’m going to be mixing and matching vintage elements for a space that will be modern and vintage all at once. think white painted wood cabinets with crystal door pulls, a butcher block countertop, subway tiles, a farm sink, perhaps a fancy chef’s range. i know, it might all sound way too cliche, but it’s the space i dream about creating… complete with a smeg refrigerator!

i’m sure you’ve seen it. it’s a total mid century style (but this many years later, i think we can just call it a classic). and despite a few giggles after seeing the name of the brand (did you know that it’s an acronym for smalterie metallurgiche emiliane guastalla?), i have to say, i’ve got my heart set on smeg.

image above: stadshem

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mid century wardrobe

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a couple of months back, i started browsing craigslist on a whim. i’d always wanted a vanity in my bedroom, so i could perch at the mirror in the mornings to get ready, perhaps while glamorously wearing a robe. and as luck would have it, the very first search result was for the perfect little mid century vanity. i was actually surprised to find one from that particular era, since i’d figured such things had gone out of style by the 1950s, but lo and behold there it was in all of it’s sleek, modern splendor. it was being sold individually or as part of a set with two matching wardrobes. i wasn’t in the market for such a thing, so i hopped in the car to pick up my little dresser and called it a day. but don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? joni mitchell had it right. i almost instantly regretted that i didn’t buy the whole set, and now i can’t stop obsessing over finding one. the only catch is that by the 1950s, people definitely had closets and weren’t in the habit of keeping their clothes in giant wooden boxes. leave it to me to set my sights on some totally random piece of furniture that turns out to be rare and hard-to-find.

so while i scour craigslist and the local green sheet, here are a few inspirational images that are keeping me motivated to find my perfect wardrobe.

image above via freuden von freuden.

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work in progress

after yesterday’s quick decor post, i realized that i hadn’t caught you up to speed on where we are with the house! we’ve just been settling in and slowly unpacking for the most part, but i thought it might be fun to share some of the “before” photos of the house in the week prior to moving in! as i’ve shared before, the house was built in 1926 with one major renovation done in 1970. it’s got tons of vintage features like crystal door knobs, the original hex tiles in the bathroom, and beautiful vintage windows throughout. i was immediately drawn to it because it had not been updated with the standard builders grade cabinets or granite countertops, and it still maintained a lot of it’s original integrity. something that i could renovate to fit my tastes and restore to it’s original vintage charm.

our first task? ripping out the terrible brown wall-to-wall carpeting that was covering the original hardwood floors. we knew there were wood floors under there, but it was a mystery as to what kind of condition they were in! i had been itching to get in there and pull it all up the entire time we were in escrow, and i can’t tell you how satisfying it was to finally get rid of that stuff! fortunately for us, the floors were in pretty decent condition, so we were able to move in. unfortunately, they’re still going to need to be refinished!


the moment of truth. pulling up the first corner of carpeting to reveal the floors underneath.


my hands were sore for days after pulling out every single staple from the floors with a pair of pliers. it seemed as though there were thousands!


i was most concerned about adam’s bedroom because even before we pulled out the carpeting, i could tell that a wall had been removed between the original room and a service porch. fortunately, the wood floors ran all the way through the room, but it definitely needs to be refinished along the area where the walls and closets had been. there were also a few holes where there had previously been hot and cold water pipes and what appears to have been a water closet! kinda gross, but it cleaned up pretty well, and i’ve covered it up with rugs in the meantime. also note those heavy seafoam green drapes straight from 1970! imagine this room after they set it up that year, complete with green shag carpet!



those vintage crystal door knobs are my favorite!

 

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5 simple summer decor ideas

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well, we finally did it! we moved into our little dream house. now we can just lay back and relax, right?  yeah, right after we unpack the piles of boxes and get to work on refinishing the wood floors, getting a new electrical panel, painting all of the kitchen cabinets… the list goes on! but just because we’ve got a big job ahead of us, doesn’t mean we can’t do simple little things around the house to brighten the mood. in fact, it’s pretty much a requirement when everything else is in disarray. so when glade challenged me to come up with 5 simple home decor tips for the summer season, it was just the kick in the butt i needed to spruce things up around this place while things get back to normal.

so without further adieu, here’s my list of 5 quick (and inexpensive) fixes around the house that have already made a major difference in welcoming the summer season, and helping to brighten up our little work-in-progress.

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1. arrange items by color. this is a really simple decor idea that utilizes objects you already have in your home. change things up by reorganizing all of the books on your shelf by color instead of title. or go to the baby’s room and pick out a selection of toys in one color to highlight on a shelf or ledge. you can even rearrange the cosmetics on your vanity for a quick visual refresh. the fun with this one is that you can pick and choose which color to work with as the seasons change. i’m especially smitten with yellows and oranges for the warm summer months.

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2. fresh flowers. probably one of my favorite cheap tricks for livening up the house is to run to the farmer’s market on saturday mornings to buy a few bunches of fresh flowers. these yellow and orange tulips are an instant mood lift and make me feel so much more happy in my home, even if the rest of the place is a disaster zone while we unpack all of the boxes!

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3. fresh fruit. it’s easy to add a few pops of color with seasonal blooms, but don’t forget the possibilities sitting right in your own kitchen! think outside the box (or kitchen, as it were) and slice a few citrus fruits to use as a centerpiece on the table or as an accent on the bar cart when guests come to visit. not only does fresh fruit add a cheerful ambience, but it smells delicious, and won’t go to waste. greyhounds, anyone?

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4. decorate with seasonal accessories. summer is quickly approaching, and all i can think about are lazy days spent lounging by the lake. with a laundry list of things to do and a toddler running around, i sometimes forget to take a step back and live a little! i gathered up some of my beach-going accessories that i already had in my closet and arranged them at the foyer, all ready for an impromptu trip to the lake. it creates a carefree ambience that really lightens the mood as you enter the house. and hey, you never know when the occasion might present itself!

5. add texture. i’ve been spotting lots of pretty woven wall-hangings on pinterest lately, so i decided to give one a try. i made this simple little textile in just a couple of hours, and it’s already made a big impact. i tend to be a bit reserved when it comes to the decor in my home, so this quick little tapestry was an easy, no-commitment way for me to step outside of my comfort zone and test drive a different color.

this post was created in partnership with glade and was inspired by their limited edition scent, soak it in summer swim. thank you for supporting the sponsors that make this blog possible.

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this old house

remember when i wrote that very heartfelt post about how we missed out on our little vintage dream house? well, i have never been happier to say that i was wrong. we got the house! 

back when i wrote that post, i really truly thought it wasn’t ours. it had been a month since our offer was rejected without the opportunity to counter-offer. the sign in front had been taken down, and i’d finally let go of that little glimmer of hope that it could somehow be ours. i figured we would go through a few more “losses” before we finally found a place to call home. but the real estate gods must have been looking down on us, because about a week later, we got word that the sale had indeed fallen through. our real estate agent, rita shaw, rushed to the listing agent’s office right as the sellers were looking through the other offers. she negotiated with them and they accepted our offer right on the spot! i was in so much shock, i was afraid to share the news lest i be premature in my announcement once again. but a little over a month later, the house is truly ours.

so to bring you up to speed since my last post, we’ve finally closed escrow and moved in just yesterday. prior to that, we got a home inspection and an appraisal, signed and submitted what seemed like an endless stream of papers, got approval on the loan, paid the down payment, and officially got the keys to our new home on friday. but even though we kinda breezed past the house hunting phase, the journey has really only just begun. it’s not what you would call a fixer, but it is a house that we bought with the hopes of making renovations here and there to truly make it our own. it was built in 1926, so the idea is to restore it back to it’s original charm. and of course, in true blogger form, i will be sharing the entire process with you all once i get my office set up with an internet connection. in the meantime, i’ll be sharing little glimpses of what we’ve been up to on instagram. so expect to see more updates in this space very soon!


adam drinking his morning cup of “coffee” before the big day.


getting the first glimpse of the original 1926 hardwood floors beneath the ancient wall-to-wall carpeting. and check out those mint green drapes, straight from the only renovation to the house that took place in 1970. at least according to the permit records!


we spent hours and hours pulling up each and every staple from these floors. the wood is beautiful and it’s totally livable in the meantime, but we’re already looking into getting them refinished. one cool discovery was that even the kitchen has wood flooring beneath the vinyl tiles and subfloor.


not sure what the story is here, but we have an old horse hitch out front!

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adam’s nursery

it’s been a long time coming, but i’m finally sharing photos of adam’s nursery! i have no good excuse for why it’s taken so long for me to share this because the room has remained pretty much the same since he was born. as he’s grown, i’ve rearranged things to make the space more appropriate for his level of development, and added a few things here and there, most notably after christmas and his birthday in january, yikes! we originally had a big mid-century style shelf against one wall, but once he was actively reaching for things above his head, i decided that it might be wise to build a shelf up high so he wouldn’t be able pull something down on top of himself. and as he’s grown, i’ve also started to imagine it as more of a play area with little carts full of toys and a tiny wooden kitchen all safely within his reach.

as far as a theme, there really isn’t one. i had originally wanted to go with jungle animals and an aqua blue/mustard yellow color scheme with pops of red here and there. but as i started collecting things, i quickly realized that it would be almost impossible for me to maintain any sort of theme or color story. as soon as i let go of whatever preconceived notion i had about how i wanted the room to look, it just sorta fell together as i picked up the things i liked. in the end, i’d say it has bright and colorful, eclectic, slightly european vibe to it. if we’re going to put a label on it, haha.

above: adam’s beloved hape play kitchen, a classic red radio flyer push bike, lots of fisher price classics, babylit books, and plenty of other bright and colorful delights.


the vintage emmaljunga pram. we don’t use it nearly as often as i thought we would, but i am still so pleased that i found one! that cloub b gentle giraffe, on the other hand, was a lifesaver when adam was an infant!


the print above us is by marrimeko from a few seasons ago.


prints from fine little day and petit collage elephant mobile.


aqua blue velvet glider, the tassel pillow is now out of stock, mini boheme lion pillow, and lucy owl courtesy of hazel village.



the crib is part of the babyletto skip set, and the crib mattress is from naturepedics. the blanket is by blabla from a few seasons back.




i love this p’kolino elephant wall easel! sadly, it has been discontinued.


the babyletto skip dresser. the changing station on top is removable.



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a nursery sneak peek with munchkin!

back when adam was just a tiny babe, i half-jokingly declared that i would consider it an accomplishment if i managed to photograph the nursery before he was a year old. and here we are. adam is 14 months old, and i’m finally getting around to it! besides the fact that i have never photographed or shared any of my interiors on the blog before, i think my biggest hurdle was that i kept expecting the room to be “finished” one day. but then, as i rearranged the room for the millionth time since he was born, i realized that there would never be an end point. a home is this living, breathing thing that grows and changes right along with us. adam’s needs are ever-changing, and so is his room. (and with any luck, we’ll be moving out of this place very soon, so i really need to document it before we leave. more on that later!)

so in the spirit of building things up, i partnered with munchkin to give you a little tease before the big reveal. most of the room has remained pretty much the same since adam was born, but i’ve been making important additions to the room here and there. one such essential came in the form of our new arm & hammer diaper pail that we received courtesy of munchkin. i had originally picked up a little stainless steel step can because i thought it looked nice, and i honestly never even considered using a diaper pail. and i got away without one for quite a few months before i started to notice a particularly offensive funk wafting from the nursery. unless you plan to make multiple trips to the dumpster throughout the day, a regular can just isn’t gonna cut it. needless to say, i was pretty relieved to finally make the upgrade, especially after having to explain the stink to guests a few too many times…

and with that final odor-free addition, i can finally say that i’m ready to share the nursery! hope you enjoy the photos, and stay tuned for the full reveal coming soon!

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this post was created in partnership with munchkin. thank you for supporting my sponsors!

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houses of redlands

i know i’ve mentioned this a few times before, but i am absolutely charmed by the vintage architecture here in redlands. so much so, that i find myself snapping quick pictures of my favorite houses while i wander around on walks in the historic district where i live. there are a number of buildings listed in the national register of historic places, or designated as california historical landmarks. i’ve been posting enough pictures to instagram, that i decided to start filing them all under the rather predictable hashtag #housesofredlands.

it’s just a fun little hobby for me, but it’s really been gaining steam now that i’m in the market for a house of my own. i find myself more intrigued with little details like walkways and landscaping, paint colors and porch covers. here’s a little selection of some of the photos i’ve taken. and of course, you can see more on my instagram.









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the one that got away

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if you’ve been following me on instagram, then you may already know that my little family recently started the process of hunting for a house. for nearly 10 years now, brendan and i have always lived in relatively small apartments in urban areas, and never even dreamed of owning a home. but since having a baby, moving to redlands, and falling in love with the community here, we’ve gotten more serious about finding a place to call our own. we currently live in a cute little rental, but we don’t have much of a yard, and it was never our intention to stay here for very long. we live in the historic district, surrounded by darling craftsman-style bungalows, cookie cutter victorians, and charming spanish-style villas. it is just about impossible to keep myself from daydreaming about living in some cute little vintage house as i go on walks with adam around the neighborhood. (i even started posting to instagram with the hashtag #housesofredlands.)

so after casually looking at the real estate listings for several months, i finally laid my eyes on this charming 1920s beauty. the house is on a ridiculously idyllic tree-lined street only a short walk from the historic downtown. when i saw the listing, my heart began to pitter-patter and i did my best not to get my hopes up too high. but if you’ve ever been on the hunt for a house, then you know how quickly you begin to imagine yourself living there forever. it was the perfect house. tons of vintage charm with the original bathroom mostly intact. the kitchen was redone in the ’70s, but it was nothing that a few coats of paint and a new countertop couldn’t fix. and beneath all of that dirty old carpeting was the original hardwood flooring, just waiting to be revealed. just the type of fixer-upper that can easily be restored to it’s original charm by someone with the vision to do it!

but alas, it really was too good to be true. we were outbid without a chance to counteroffer and the house is now pending. i can’t help but find myself hoping that the sale will somehow fall through and we’ll get that call. but i know that it’s been long enough that i need to let go and continue searching for “the one.” but the whole process is much more emotionally draining that i ever thought possible. there are so many factors out of our control. we need to be patient since those barely untouched gems don’t pop up often, and even then, there may always be someone willing to put in a higher bid.

do any of you have tales to tell about your search for the perfect home?

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