Couch Hunting

Hello, my name is Amanda, and I have a problem.

I am extremely picky about couches.

And to make it worse, I actually listen to what my husband wants/needs, making me even pickier.

We’ve decided on dark brown leather.

And a normal back (many leather couches have a low back). But other than that, my husband doesn’t really care if it is fluffy like a man cave/dorm room leather couch, and I want something super high class that goes with the rest of our style. We are going to transition this living room over the next few months, and this couch will be our main couch for at least the next 5 years, so… I’m picky.

I loved this couch from Target:

Living Room Mood Board

But Target no longer offers it! Sigh. Jason wasn’t thrilled with ordering a couch and not being able to sit on it first. And honestly, I couldn’t disagree with him.

Being the crazy online shopper I am, I have been scouring websites for a couch that fits my parameters: not too loose on the cushions (I hate when leather looks super squishy), an easily-cleanable leather, clean lines with rolled arms (to match that hint of a traditional style), a good color that doesn’t look too worn, no gaudy details that will be hard to match if my style needs tweaked down the road… But I get discouraged because the local furniture stores (Ashley, Morris, Value City, etc.) either don’t have what I want at all, or refuse to put any prices on their websites.

Puh-lease, Morris Furniture. I am not going to get my heart set on a couch only to find out that it is Pottery Barn priced. We have kids, plural. We want something reasonable.

So I checked out Macy’s. All of their furniture is on sale right now (and to be honest, it seems like it is almost always on sale). AND BONUS, they have a sample of a couch I love at our local store, so hubby and I can sit on it and test it out.


You can click on the image to go check it out, as always. Gotta be a responsible blogger.

So I said I love it? Yeah, well I hate the feet. They are a little too traditional for me, and I don’t think the color really matches the leather.  But those are super easily changed. Seriously, you just unscrew them and screw in the new legs.

I like these unfinished legs from Lowe’s. And they are super cheap, meaning you can score all four of them for $36. I’m sure there is a different option through the manufacturer, but it wouldn’t be nearly as cheap. I’d probably paint them an espresso color, or maybe even ORB?

We still have yet to actually try out the sofa, and we haven’t even finished the move yet so it will be a few weeks until we buy it, but I think this may be the one!



The Big To-Do List

Update: Don’t want to search for this list every time you need to see it? I’ve added a dedicated remodeling page!

Get ready for a mammoth of a list. Seriously.

While we aren’t redoing all the things we’d like to with Grandma’s house (because we’re renting, not buying, so we’re just doing upgrades to help her sell – which means that we’re adding a half bath instead of a full bath that requires removing an exterior door, and forgoing tons of upgrades such as moving the wall between the two bedrooms to even out the size, gutting the kitchen, gutting the bathroom, finishing the basement, and adding a large deck off the eat-in kitchen), we do have a lot of items to tackle. In fact, we have so many that we need to separate them by room! I’ll try to update this post periodically or copy the list into new posts as we go along so you can keep up.

Clark’s Bedroom (aka Rainbow Room)

  • Paint ceiling
  • Prime and paint walls
  • Prime and paint trim & closet doors
  • Add details to door and paint
  • Rip up orange shag carpet
  • Refinish hardwood floors
  • Change out ceiling fan
  • Change out or paint doorknob
  • Paint radiators

Living Room

  • Paint ceiling
  • Square out archways and add drywall
  • Prime and paint walls
  • Prime and paint trim and inside of door
  • Rip up green shag carpet
  • Mount flatscreen above fireplace
  • Refinish hardwood floors
  • Change out ceiling fan (move ceiling fan?)
  • Change out or paint fixtures
  • Add light in “entry” area
  • Rip out barnwood wall or stain? (Reader Poll?)
  • Change wiring and add new electric fireplace insert (that isn’t 40 years old and a fire hazard)
  • Stain fireplace mantel? Add more prominent mantelpiece?
  • Paint radiators
  • Add “built-in” bookcases on risers
  • Add trim to bookcases for custom look
  • Add crown moulding

Office (Formal Dining)

  • Paint ceiling
  • Square out doorway and add drywall
  • Remove American Colonial paneling
  • Repair paneling wall with spackle and sand
  • Prime and paint walls
  • Prime and paint trim
  • Paint radiators
  • Rip out green shag carpet
  • Refinish hardwood
  • Change out or paint fixtures
  • What to do with phone box?
  • Add crown moulding
  • Light fixture?

Master Bedroom

  • Paint ceiling
  • Rip out paneling in main area
  • Prime paneling in closet area
  • Take out old-fashioned decorative accents
  • Prime and paint walls/paneling
  • Replace ceiling fan (or just paint brass and switch out blades)
  • Frame out closet area
  • Add closet rods
  • Prime and paint trim and pocket door
  • Paint radiators
  • Turn 2nd pantry into half-bath attached to master?

Kitchen/Informal Dining

  • Replace industrial light fixture and patch surrounding area
  • Paint ceiling
  • Take down border
  • Temporarily paint paneling (replace with fresh drywall later)
  • Paint kitchen door with oil-based paint
  • Change out/paint hardware/fixtures
  • Change out cabinet fixtures
  • Paint or refinish cabinets? Including hallway cabinets
  • Add cabinet inserts (pull outs, etc.)
  • Replace kitchen sink and faucet
  • Update ceiling fan
  • Chisel out decorative tiles and replace with plain tiles
  • Regrout tiles or add new white grout on top
  • Update bar braces to more contemporary style
  • Paint laminate countertops
  • Paint trim and beam
  • Paint radiators
  • Remove flooring and install laminate, hardwood-look durable flooring
  • What to do with fireplace?
  • Remove bar and add island using upper cabinets mounted to the floor?
  • Replace dishwasher/cabinet?


  • Replace faucet/plumbing/shower head
  • Reporceline bathtub in white or replace bathtub?
  • Remove medicine cabinet over toilet – add metal wine rack as towel holder
  • Replace toilet!!!
  • Paint tile? Replace pink tiles? Remove tile from non-shower spaces and put in bathroom-grade drywall?
  • Stain vanity and update hardware
  • Replace seashell-shaped counter/sink and faucet
  • Replace floor tile
  • Update medicine cabinet stain/knobs
  • Update vanity light fixture
  • Update industrial light fixture/fan and patch surrounding area
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint bathroom
  • Paint trim and pocket door
  • Paint radiators

Small Bedroom

  • Paint ceiling
  • Tear out paneling and patch with spackle
  • Paint walls and trim
  • Paint closet and pocket doors
  • Add crown moulding
  • Paint radiators
  • Remove brown shag carpet
  • Refinish hardwood


  • Paint everything (rafters and underside of main-level floor included) bright white
  • Section off laundry area and furnace area
  • Replace back room door
  • Add better lighting in cistern
  • Replace broken window in back room
  • Update bar in back room
  • Replace basement door (something with a frosted glass panel?)
  • Add full panels and banisters to stair rails
  • Concrete stain on floor?


  • Replace rotted wood trim/paint other wood trim
  • Paint porch ceiling
  • Power wash siding
  • Add permanent step to front door (steps?)
  • Replace porch railing
  • Add front path to porch
  • Box off gas meter from view
  • Update house number and wood paneling
  • Take out backyard flower boxes
  • Add a backyard stone patio
  • Add a firepit
  • Add a large garden
  • Fix side stairs or add handrail

Living Room Mood Board

There are a lot of great features in Grandma’s living room – a beautiful fireplace mantel, a huge picture window, and a setup that allows both a small living area and an entry way with a large opening to the dining room (which we’ll use as an office). Some of the features, though, are a bit crazy (outdated fixtures, barnwood on the focal wall – is that a plus or minus? and green shag carpet covering hardwood floors that need to be refinished desperately).

So, to get my creative juices flowing, I made a mood board and compiled things I love and things I own that I’d like to put in the living room. Keep in mind that I’m not yet as awesome as Young House Love and I only did basics (not finishes) so this is a highly flexible and elementary mood board. Nevertheless, it really helped me decide on some pieces when I saw them together (and nix some others!) so, enjoy!

1. This isn’t the actual couch we’ll get, but I love that the lines on this couch go well with the lines of the chair (which is my current fave!). And to be honest, with a toddler and another baby on the way + pets, we’re looking for faux leather for the next several years. Target, $599

2. OMG, this chair! I wish I could link to it, but so far Ikea hasn’t released it since 1951 (although there are rumors that they are going to re-release it! I hope so!). Oogle this beauty in Ikea’s 2013 catalog.

3. I actually already have a beautiful half-round console table from Hobby Lobby (it was damaged and on clearance for $30, but my dad fixed and painted the problem area in about 20 minutes – thanks, Dad!), but this one is similar, albeit a little more modern. Target, on sale for $221

4. I’ve been looking for a playful lamp for the side table since our beautiful Tiffany-esque lamp cracked during the move, and while I’m not sold on this option, I love that it’s so much cheaper than the Pottery Barn version! Ikea, $49.99

5. This mirror! It’s huge, which goes well with the size of the console table and will create a nice focal point across from the front door. And really, for the size the price is decent. I may try to find some fun, similarly colored tiles and DIY this with a cheaper mirror. Target, $199.99

6. This table was a wedding shower gift that I love, love, love and am so glad that I could work it in to this room’s design. But really, I would’ve found a place for it somewhere or changed my design to use it! Target, $62.99

7. I love these Hemnes bookcases to flank both sides of the fireplace/mounted TV, add some trim, and give them a built-in look. This particular image is part of a premade combination, but you can totally design your own set with the doors, drawers and whatever else you want. Ikea, $375

8. Benjamin Moore Paints are super popular, and for a reason. I found this color on Pinterest and I think it’s perfect for the marriage of grey and brown that I want to achieve in the living room. Benjamin Moore, Revere Pewter

9. Doesn’t this throw look so comfy? Target, $34.99

10. I love this pair of decorative pillows, but I feel like I will probably make or find several more to add interest and layers. Target, $25.99

11. We’ll need a great rug for the main area (and possibly for the entry area as well, but I’m not sure what is going to work for that space yet) and I wanted something more traditional that pulled in the colors of the furniture and paint but added other colors as well. This Valby Ruta rug seems to do just that at a very decent price. Ikea, $79.99

To finish out this huge post, I’d like to add a super high-quality post of the layout of the living room.

Extra! Extra! No, really, EXTRA!

While I’m at home sick (again! ugh!), I thought I’d write a quick blog post from the comfort of my bed. We’ve got lots of news to share!

First, we are most likely going to take over my grandmother’s house in the next few months. She feels like she is ready to move in with my parents (she’s still independent and able to drive, but wants to be around people more and not have to take care of the entire house herself) and, not gonna lie, we’re super excited to take on the small-budget updating challenges of her house. We won’t be doing huge upgrades since we aren’t buying the house (so no major structural changes or kitchen renos here), but we will be doing several inexpensive or lower-budget projects so that in a couple of years, she can sell the house for a decent amount instead of selling it now for pennies. It’s seriously outdated, and luckily, she agrees (and laughs at the prolific shag carpet and American Colonial Life wood paneling scenes throughout the house). Moving date is still TBD – we have to pack, she has to pack/sell/donate, we’d like her to have one last Christmas in her house, and there will probably be a month of cohabitating while my parents get her room ready at their house. Lots and lots of pics and tutorials and mood boards and inspiration posts to come!

But, there is something that further complicates the moving timeline – we’re expecting baby number two! I’m almost 11 weeks along now and I’m due in May, just at the end of the school year (perfect timing for a teacher, right?), but that means we’ll have to get A LOT of our basic projects done in the house (i.e. at least all of the paneling removal and most of the painting) before the baby comes, and the nursery will have to be ready. I guess we’re going to have a lot of busy weekends coming up! We couldn’t be happier with the timing of baby #2, though – financially, seasonally, spacing-between-kids-wise. It’s literally the perfect timing for our family!

Summer Bucket List 2012

Don’t look at me funny – it’s that time of the year! There are only two weeks left in the school year for the youngins, so that means that summer is upon us. Now, don’t take me the wrong way, I don’t get out of school until August 23rd, but my classes are in the evenings after Clark’s bedtime so they won’t cut into our summer fun.

It does mean the end of “student teaching” (tear! I will miss the third graders!) so Clark and I will be hanging out full-time until Jason gets home from his classes each day, and I wanted to have a fun list of many activities to do so that when it’s hot and my brain stops functioning (don’t lie — it happens to you, too!) we’ll have some awesome ideas. Most of these, of course, are from Pinterest and have been tailored to work with a two year old.

Call this your official Summer Bucket List challenge – what will you do with your kids this year? Leave a link to your summer bucket list posts here!