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Monday, December 30, 2013

House update!

Hello! Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Ours was different then most years as we stayed home instead of travelling to AZ to visit family. While I missed getting together with everyone(and there's a lot of us!)and could have used the warm weather, we wanted to take advantage of Cameron's time off work and get things done on the house.

Lucky for us, my brother Matt,(who works with flooring for a living)was willing to spend his holidays with us to help out. We decided it was a good time to install the hardwood on our main level so we could be rid of the stacks of wood/tools that have been taking over our living space. It gets old trying to keep a busy little boy out of it all, not to mention his little sister who's doing a great job of keeping up with him!

My brother came Christmas Eve and after celebrating Christmas day with him and a few other friends and family members, the hard work started. The guys have been putting in long hours leveling the subfloor and now installing the wood. I moved out of the house with the kids and invaded the in-laws place! Too much mess and noise for the little ones. Today a friend took the kids for me and I got to spend some time helping with the install. I snapped a few pictures to show you the progress.

This is going to be the master bedroom when it's finished. The flooring will be stained the same as the upstairs level. The door to the right is the unfinished master bathroom, currently storing all our appliances!

The same room, looking at the wall opposite the windows in the picture above. Someday there'll be a built in wardrobe running along this wall. The outlets are wired for lighting above it.

If you don't mind looking past the mess and random stuff that's everywhere, you can see our dining room.  This is the view from the back of the house, looking towards the kitchen and living room. The laundry closet is behind the doors on the right.

Below is looking at the dining room from the kitchen, leading towards the backyard.

And this is a lovely shot of the view when you walk in the front door.  I think when the floors are finished it's going to take me a good month just to clean the place up!

The mess stresses me out sometimes.  But when it does, I can now go upstairs and see that it'll be worth it all when it's done! The trim and floors are finished on this level of the house and we've installed a few light fixtures. It's getting so close to looking like a livable home!

I'm waiting until the floors are done downstairs before I do a thorough cleaning upstairs and organize/start setting up the rooms. I can't wait to get things put together!

Hope you all have a Happy New Year! I'll be back next week with more updates and to share my plans and some recent finds for these rooms!

PS. You can follow me on Instagram if you want more frequent updates on the house/projects/kids etc!  I'm @jmmccalley
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

furniture with potential!

A new piece of furniture is soon to arrive for our office! 

While we were painting trim upstairs last week(it's almost done!!!), Cameron mentioned I should be looking for a desk so we could set up the office.

I started looking around online, but as I'm sure you know, new, good quality furniture isn't cheap. At all.

So of course, I turned to Craigslist. No luck, at least locally. Lots of press board, veneered or ugly desks.
Lucky for me, I have family in AZ and family from here soon travelling there! So a quick search there and I found this:

A vintage pagoda style desk, solid maple with two drawers (Yay for storage!) for a little over $100.00. It's a little too shabby-chic for my taste with the distressed finish, but nothing glossy paint won't fix.

My mom was able to pick it up for me and it should arrive here after Christmas! Now to pick out a paint color...

We just painted the office Benjamin Moore's Moonshine, it's one of my favorite neutrals, which means I have plenty of options when it comes to adding color to the room.

I could paint the desk a glossy grey or taupe similar to this:

But then, a part of my wants to use a bold color. Ever since I saw this image from Lauren's apartment of GBGP, I've wanted to use the color from her side table.

Cameron might nix that idea, so I'll need some back up colors too. The easiest thing would be to decide on a fabric for the window in the room and pull colors from there. More decisions! This decorating my own house things might be more complicated then I thought!

What do you think? Love the desk? Hate it? Color suggestions (please!). Ideas for a chair to use with it (I'm afraid Cameron is going to want a rolling one and so many of those are less then attractive!)?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

back at it

We're back to work on the house again! It's been a few weeks where we haven't had time to do anything, so it feels good to see things moving along again.

Upstairs, baseboards are being installed in the two bedrooms, office and hallway. Cam has been at it the last two nights and it's going surprisingly fast.

Once they're in we'll prep them for priming and painting. We'll be painting the window trim too that was installed months ago. A coat of glossy white paint on all this woodwork will really make these rooms look finished.

You can see the new reproduction wall registers we got too. The original style I wanted was backordered forever, so I got impatient and went with these instead. We couldn't start installing trim without them so waiting much longer wasn't ideal.

Hopefully we'll be pulling out paint brushes by the weekend! Then once we repaint some of the walls we can move things back up here and even do a little decorating! I've got a few things ready for the kid's rooms that I'll show you once we're closer to that stage. This rug gives you an idea of the color going into Serena's room (sorry Facebook friends who saw this already).

Thankfully both kids did great sleeping in pack n plays in the basement while a saw, air compressor and a nail gun were going through the evenings. Guess they just get used to the kind of chaos this house is sometimes in!

Ps sorry for all the instagram pics, but my mouse on my computer decided not to work today, so I had to resort to my tablet. But speaking of instagram, you can follow me @jmmccalley if you wish. I can promise it's not a glamourous life I live, but you might get a few updates on the house/decor projects that don't make it to a blog post!

Friday, November 01, 2013

exterior update

Well, this post is semi embarrassing because I just ran around the house while the kids were napping and snapped a few pictures.  That means I didn't tidy up, remove the random things sitting around or style anything AT ALL.  So try hard to see past the mess and I'll do my best to show you what we're working on this cold, drizzly weekend!

The last while, we've been using whatever time we can find to finish up as much yard work as possible before winter hits.  The patio is almost finished, but we're about 5-6 pieces short of flagstone.  So we'll need to make another trip to pick that up.  The pile you see in the middle there are rectangle pieces that'll complete the walkway from the deck to the eye sore of a garage (next summer's project?). We've started the stone steps up to the garage and will try to finish them this weekend too.

We layed the stone in the middle of the patio to form a rectangle and are having a wood burning fire box/pit made to sit on top of it.  I found one online that I liked, but wasn't the dimensions I wanted, or a price I was willing to pay.  Lucky for us, Cam's brother in law loves to weld and has agreed to make one!  It'll look something similar to this when it's done.

It'll be fun next summer to have friends over for bon fires and smores!

Once the patio is finished we need to do some major clean up. It looks so red neck right now.  Random furniture, tools, toys, and junk that has to go!

In the spring, we'll start the moss growing between the flagstone, fill in the retaining walls with plants, add some small trees/shrubs and hopefully tackle that garage!!

Here's the current state of our deck we built in the spring.  We finished staining it and last weekend we got ourselves a hot tub! It's used, but in great condition and the price was right.  We didn't think we'd get one for a while, but I'm kind of excited about it! Cam spent the last few days getting it wired up and ready for use!

We still need to add panels where those posts are and stain or paint them.  Guessing that's another project for spring too!

And, around the front of the house, there's still work to do.

The front steps are going to be replaced and a new walkway put in.  We wanted to do it this summer, but ran out of time.  The front door could use some paint too!

We did manage to fix up our foundation though.  This weekend, we'll try to finish around the front and side of the house so we can check that job of our list.

We used insulating, termite resistant foam boards that screw into the foundation and then applied strips of mesh that sticks to the foam.  Then two coats of grey tinted foundation coating was trowelled on and lightly textured with a brush.

(first coat of finish....)
So that's the tour around our yard. Sorry for not having prettier pictures, just a realistic idea of how or projects progress!

Have a great weekend!
PS. Thanks for all the feedback on my last post. Loved reading your comments....I'll let you know which light I pick as soon as I order one!

Friday, October 25, 2013


Well, I almost pulled the trigger on a light fixture for the hallways last night.  But then thought I'd see if any of you wanted to help me decide. Or maybe, I was being indecisive :)

Our hallway upstairs is small and narrow.  It needs as much light as it can get.  The outlet box for the fixture is also a tad bit high, which limits how much space I have for a light. Also, the office light fixture will be visible from the hallway and so both lights need to work together.

(Hallway light fixture to go where that bulb is hanging out.  That insulation in the ceiling is our attic access. We've since added a door + trim. Our office is to the right. )
Here's a reminder of the office light we're working with. It's still waiting to be installed. Hasn't made it to the top of the priority list yet.

So what to buy for the hallway? Obviously I want it to be nice, but I'm not willing to spend hundreds on a wall sconce. You wouldn't believe how many of them out there do cost hundreds!!

Here's a few I'm considering. Most have gotten the hubby approval. 








I'm leaning towards no. two or five. Any favorites?
P.S. all of these fixtures are from They have great pricing and a rewards program you can sign up for. Plus lots of their items ship free. They're not a sponsor, but I've used them many times and like them a lot!
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

making it kid friendly!

Sometimes, with my two little ones, I feel like I can hardly keep up with them, household duties and our renovation project, let alone blogging.  Just when I think I'll have a chance to write something usually one will wake up and so it doesn't happen!

So, I'm going to try to fit a short and sweet post in today. 

My darling sister, Shyla(one of the few sibling still living in Canada), gifted me a subscription to my favorite decorating magazine, Canadian House and Home. Since before I even went to school for Interior Decorating, I read this magazine. I think it was actually what put the idea in my head to go to college for my degree!  My first copy showed up the other day and I found a few minutes here and there to browse through it.

This image from a beautiful home they featured caught my eye. It's a kid's room done perfectly.

Besides loving how they incorporated a family heirloom antique bed with more modern furnishings, what I really liked was the mix of bedding.

The rocket sheet set is from Garnet Hill (and they glow in the dark!!), but instead of using the whole bedding set, they've been paired with a cute star patterned pillow, a simple coverlet and white shams and bolster pillow.

It's simple, but it's a smart way of decorating for kids. By just using a sheet set in a pattern that your kids loves (at the moment), and layering it with a classic patterned(stripes, checks, plaid, etc) or neutral bedspread, it makes it easy and less expensive to swap out if your child's interest ever changes as they grow. Because we all know how much that happens!

I'm pretty sure I'm adopting this idea for my kid's rooms as we start to decorate them.  I've pinned a bunch of adorable sheet sets from various companies over on Pinterest if you want more ideas. The Canadian in me is dying to use these sheets for our little guy.  I think I could get away with it!!
Friday, September 20, 2013

Flooring: The after pics.

Some good news: Our floors turned out awesome!

Sure, it took us 3 tries to get the stain right, which means our backs were aching and our knees were throbbing by time we were done. So.Much.Work.  

The top coat of poly will take a while to fully cure. We used a product called Fabulon in a satin finish and applied 3 coats(as recommended), with a light sanding in between.
So happy with the results!!

It was definitely a lot of stress when the staining wasn't going well. I think the problem was that the stain (Sherwood Wiping Stains) was too thick and dried too fast making it impossible to get an even finish. Cameron ended up thinning it out with mineral spirits which made it easier to work with.


So while the poly is curing, I'm on the hunt for furnishings, light fixtures and hardware!   We'd like to get the upstairs put together so the kids can be back in their rooms and we can have a functioning home office. There's still baseboards to install, trim to finish and painting to do, so we'll work on that over the next few months.

I've already found a light fixture that I think will work in the office. It was on sale for a great price at a local lighting store (Sitler's House of Lights is having a clearance sale on in stock fixtures-if you're local, check it out!). I just brought it home to see how it'd look and I'm pretty sure it's a keeper!

What do you think of it?
We also just ordered these reproduction style register covers. They suit the era of the house perfectly. For me, it's all about the details :)

Little by little this place is coming together!! Can't wait to share more as we go!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The brighter side of life!

I was going to write a post about our flooring situation. But it's still a sore subject. Lets just say we've sanded the floors(again!) and we're back to square one. When it's all figured out, I'll fill you in on the details!

Instead, I'll share some of the positives happening around here!

(Top to Bottom, Left to Right)

Talmadge had a birthday this past weekend. He's now 2!

I made my own version of THIS cake for the little guy's b-day. He's so into trucks right now (dig-digs!), so it was a hit!

The b-day boy was a little spoiled by everyone at his party! This Strider bike from Uncle Jeff is especially cool. If you have a toddler, you'll want one! A no peddle bike that teaches kids to ride at a young age without training wheels!

My incredibly sweet sister, Shyla had these orchids delivered to me after I filled her in on the flooring situation last week. She knew I was (a little!)stressed and wanted to cheer me worked! I transferred them to a vintage brass pot and they're my little bit of pretty in this messy, torn apart house!

I met up with a friend/client to check out the progress of her kitchen reno I'm helping design. It's pretty exciting to see things happening! There's an old barn beam that's been installed and some awesome lighting ordered. Can't wait to see it all finished!

Two of these pillows from the etsy shop, Aurelia are going in a master bedroom I designed for my sister-in-law. It's getting close to being done and I'll have more to share on that too!

When I was in Canada last month, I took on a little project for my sister. It included striping 4 layers of paint off this burled walnut fireplace-Who paints burled walnut??? The rest of the room got a dramatic dark coat of paint, new lighting and drapes. She's going to finish a few things(in her spare time, with a new baby) and then send picture's for me to post:)

I've had some luck at yard sales recently and picked up vintage crates-Perfect for storing kids books and(overflowing) toys!

My little peanut! She's half way to a year already!
Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Learning the hard way!

Well, it looks like summer got away on us! Between working on the house, some travelling, weddings, etc. time just flew by! I'll try to fill you in on the progress we've made over the last month or two, starting with the floors!

I just spent 2 weeks in Canada visiting my sister (and new baby!!). While I was away, Cameron was hard at work installing all the flooring upstairs.

Office room flooring installed.
This room will eventually be Serena's! The window trim will be painted white and we'll add baseboards (you can see a piece of it in the corner) that will also be painted white.

Over the Labor Day weekend, we rented a sander to prep the floors for staining. Once that was done, we vacuumed everything, wiped all the dust and then attempted to stain.  

We're using a stain from Sherwin Williams that we had matched to our banister.  I loved the color, but our first attempt applying it was a total FAIL! 

We were a little frustrated and disappointed with the results! The wood wasn't absorbing the stain and it looked blotchy and awful! No matter how we tried to apply it, or how long we waited, it looked bad. It was well after midnight, so we finished up the room and left it knowing we'd have to sand it all off the next day.

Applying the stain.

Wiping it off.

The bad "after" first round of staining :(

After more research, we realized that we had sanded the floors too fine. So we rented the sander again and went over the floors again with a 100 grit (coarser) paper. We also wiped it all down with a wet cloth, which causes the wood to swell some and allows the stain to sink in.

Last night we stayed up late again and reapplied the stain.  It went so much better!  It's looking like we'll need one more coat to get it totally even but we're getting there!

Like most of this house renovation, it's all a learning process for us! Sometimes it takes more time and extra money to get it right, but it's worth it in the end. And the more we do, the more we learn!

I'll show you more pictures once we put the second coat on tonight. Once that dries we'll apply a satin top coat to seal it in and allow it to cure for a while before we move things back upstairs.  And in case any are wondering about the kiddos-we're hanging out with Papa and Nana for a bit until the fumes and smell are gone!!
Thursday, July 18, 2013


Two kids under two and garage sales? Only if you're an addict!

I'll blame it on my mom who went every weekend when we were kids. So much so, that when my younger brother Matt was little, he asked her if she bought him at garage sale!

So it's in my blood I guess, and here in Iowa, sales start on Wednesday! Having my younger sister along makes it FUN and manageable with little kids. 

This morning, we hit up a couple sales and I found a few good deals! Take a peek!

A set of nautical style sconces for $10.00. Should I replace THESE in T-mans room with them?

A vintage gourd style lamp in the prettiest mint color ever.  I think it'd be awesome with a black lacquered shade.

 I was more then ok with handing over a total of 3 bucks for it. Especially since it reminds me of THESE lamps that retail for over $200.00!

But the best find, was actually for my little guy.  A vintage Radio Flyer tricycle for $8.00.  He doesn't reach the peddles yet, but is happy to have mom push him up and down the street!

I picked up a few little nick nacks and dishes that I probably don't need but couldn't pass up:) All in all, I think it was a success and did minimal damage to my wallet!

Any of you into the garage sale thing? I think you either love it or hate it!