The Benefits Of Garden Water Features (Plus 3 Examples!)

I can sum up the water features in our garden in one word:  Birdbaths.  We have four of them scattered in various locations.  I love the quiet elegance they lend to a garden, and the birds actually use them.  During the extra-dry summer that we just came out of, I made sure to keep them clean and filled for all the little creatures that rely on them.

I’m always playing with the idea of having a larger, more interesting water feature.  So today I give you this contributed post, which dives deeper into the concept of water features in the garden.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

 

Why add a water feature to your garden?

It’s a question many of us are posing as we look for new and exciting ways of improving our outdoor space.  Maybe you want to try something different, adding new things to your garden that can enhance its aesthetic appeal and create a unique atmosphere. 

This is where a water feature excels like no other. There’s a real sense of tranquility that’s brought to your garden by various water features. It’s the sound of the running water that creates a relaxed atmosphere and transforms your garden into a mini paradise. The right water feature can complement your garden’s design and improve the aesthetic. Water features also have the advantage of attracting wildlife, which can add to the feeling of tranquility in your outdoor space and make you feel at one with nature. 

In short, garden water features are highly beneficial! The next question is: What water features suit your garden? Not counting pools, here are three examples to consider:

 

A Garden Pond

Adding a little pond can really elevate the mood of your garden. It looks beautiful, you can add fish to it for a splash of color, and pond maintenance really isn’t that challenging. You can choose how big or small your pond is depending on the size of your garden, and it really helps your outdoor area come to life. 

 

A Fountain

Garden fountains can add a real touch of class to your garden, and there are so many different design ideas to choose from. Regardless of your garden’s theme, you are bound to find a fountain that matches it. Now, you can listen to the soothing sounds of the water trickling from the fountain while you’re relaxing or doing a spot of gardening. 

 

A Bird Bath

Perhaps the simplest and most affordable of the three water feature examples, a bird bath works perfectly in smaller gardens. Having said that, it’s just as good in bigger ones, and you can find loads of glorious designs that suit your home. The whole point of a bird bath is to attract lots of cute little birds to your garden. They will add color and movement, along with the wonderful sounds of birdsong. 

The beauty of water features is that you can pretty much go as simple or crazy as you like. If you have the space and budget, you can install massive water features that really grab people’s attention. Or, you can go down the opposite route and choose scaled-back designs that still add a real touch of beauty to your garden area. 

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Fall Porch Decor With Hop Vines

The hop vines that grow along the south side of our house are both a blessing and a curse.  Every year in late winter, I pull out massive amounts of trailing underground hop roots in the hope of keeping these vines under control.

The vines usually recover quickly from this setback.  Stronger than before and out for revenge, they are soon back to swallowing up the sunny side of our house.

Hops trying to get in through our dining room window.

But the hop cones are such a beautiful, fresh green when they emerge in late summer.  And they are rewarding to work with.

So today, I’m sharing a couple of my recent hop projects.

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A Hop Garland

The hop garland was surprisingly easy to make.

I simply measured how long I needed the garland to be and then weaved a few hop vines around one another until I had a long enough garland.  Hop vines like to wind around each other naturally anyway, and they almost feel sticky to the touch.  So it was easy to get them to stay woven together.

Hop vines naturally wind around one another.

In the few places where I could not get them to stay together naturally, I just tethered them together with biodegradable garden twine.

The key to success is to do this project when the vines are still green and pliable.  It’s no good trying this once the vines have already dried.

 

 

Then, using clear fishing wire, Chris and I suspended the garland from small hooks that are already installed on our porch ceiling.

There were a few larger hooks, just above the porch entrance, that also came in handy for hanging this garland.

I weaved in extra clusters of hop cones where needed for a fuller look.  When necessary, I tied them on with biodegradable garden twine.

 

This was several weeks ago.  Now the cone clusters have dried and mellowed to a soft caramel color.

And we added pumpkin string lights to the garland.

 

The garland is now brittle to the touch, but it’s holding up very well.  It definitely helps that it is under cover and, for the most part, protected from the rain.

The little hop headpiece that I made for our porch lion looked good at first.

But, since it was not under cover, it suffered in the weather and ultimately had to be tossed.

 

A Hop Wreath

Several years ago, I made this hop wreath using a metal wreath form as a foundation.

My hop wreath from a few years ago.

It was a fun and exuberant wreath, but now I know how to make an all-natural wreath using no metal forms, wires, or other manmade elements.  The beauty of an all-natural wreath is that, when the season changes and I no longer need it, I can just toss the whole wreath into the compost bin and get on with my life – no need to separate it from a metal wreath form first.

I started by clipping some of the grape vines that grow on our fence and weaving them around one another into a wreath form.  As with the hop vines, grape vines are easy to work with when the vines are still green and pliable.

A wreath form made using grape vines.

I just tucked the ends in until they were secure.  The grapevine wreath form didn’t have to look pretty since it was going to be partly covered by the hops anyway.

Then I cut a length of hop vines.  These vines had woven around one another while they were growing, so they had already done some of my work for me.

 

Then, for lack of a better description, I just weaved, folded, and tucked the hop vines securely onto the grapevine wreath.  It took a little bit of trial and error, but it was fairly easy.

There is nothing manmade holding this wreath together.  It is just vines wrapped around one another.

The front door is very protected from the elements so, like the garland, the wreath mellowed into a golden caramel color after a couple of weeks.

 

A Little Viola Pumpkin

This isn’t a hop project, but I thought I’d share another little piece of my porch decor:  This simple little viola pumpkin.

I cut the top off of a sugar pumpkin and hollowed it, scraping out the seeds and some of the pumpkin meat. (The meat I’d removed made a nice side dish with our dinner that evening.)

Then I cut a drain hole in the bottom of the pumpkin.  I planted the violas in a small plastic container and placed it inside the hollowed pumpkin. A bit of moss conceals the plastic pot.

The hollowed pumpkin probably won’t stay fresh for long, so having the violas in a plastic pot will make them easier to remove when the time comes.  I know some folks use bleach or other substances to keep their pumpkins fresh longer but I don’t because (1) I’m too lazy, and (2) I like to compost my pumpkins when I’m done with them, so I want to keep them all natural.

More Fall Porch Decor

The rest of my fall porch decor is not exciting and, as you will see, our porch furniture needs a facelift – badly!  But here it is anyway.

 

 

 

(In case you’re wondering, the white box in the photo above is our Ridwell box.)

Now to plan:  Should I revamp the existing porch furniture or replace it with something new, perhaps one of these looks?

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5 Tips To Make Moving House A Breeze

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Moving house can be incredibly exciting, especially if you’ve found the home of your dreams. But relocating also involves a lot of preparation and endless hours of packing boxes. If you’re preparing for life in pastures new, here are some tips to make moving a breeze. 

Give Yourself Time

Unless you have to move suddenly, it’s hugely beneficial to give yourself plenty of time to get sorted. Once you have a date, you can write a list of everything you need to do in the old house and tasks to complete before you move to your new home.  Then figure out a plan of action. Begin packing as soon as possible, starting with items you won’t need in the period before you move. 

Enlist Expert Help

Whether you’re moving to the next street, a new town, or a different state, it’s wise to enlist the services of professional companies. Search online for reputable businesses and try to find a firm that specializes in the services you need, for example, moving heavy or valuable items or cross country moving. Read reviews and testimonials, get quotes, and ask neighbors, friends, or colleagues for recommendations. It’s also an excellent idea to join social media groups and ask members of the local community for advice. It can be reassuring to book a firm based on recommendations from people who have used them in the past. 

Organize A Clear-Out

Moving house is a fantastic excuse to declutter and organize a clear-out. There is no point in filling moving vans with items you haven’t used or even seen in years. Take the opportunity to throw away, donate, or sell anything you don’t want to keep. If you have possessions that you do want to hang onto but won’t fit in your new home, you could rent a storage unit. 

Packing And Labeling

When it comes to packing, it’s always beneficial to have a plan in place. Work through each room methodically and fill boxes with similar items. Label each box so that you know what it contains and which room it needs to be delivered to in your new house. Keep valuables or anything that is fragile or precious to you with you. 

Tying Up Loose Ends

Relocating doesn’t just involve packing all your stuff, hiring a truck, and moving boxes from A to B. You’ll also need to tie up loose ends and undertake some administrative work. Contact utility providers to settle bills and change your address, let your doctor and dentist know that you have moved, and change your address with the bank. Redirect your mail and cancel any deliveries to your old house. It’s also beneficial to make sure your new home is ready. You may want to arrange for a new broadband contract to begin before you move in or ensure that your utilities are sorted in advance, for example. 

Moving house can be an upheaval, but there are ways of lightening the load. Take these tips on board to make moving a breeze.

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A Mound of Baby Tears – And A Garden Update

The garden project I’m about to share isn’t spectacular, but I’m sharing it anyway because it’s a simple project with endless possibilities, and there is plenty of room for experimentation and creativity.

Then, keep scrolling for a late-summer update on my new planting area.

Baby Tears For A Tapered Urn

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Some time ago, Chris and I came across a large and classic terra cotta urn that had been kicked to the curb.  The base was badly cracked, but Chris knew he would be able to mend it.  So we took it.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that the urn had another issue:  Its wide round opening tapered almost immediately – making it impossible to find a plastic pot with the right dimensions to work as a liner for the inside.  Since I wanted to store the urn in a protected place in winter, it would be important to have a liner for it so I could easily remove the contents first.

So I started using a half-round wire hanging basket cage with a coconut liner to line the inside.  Its circumference was a good fit for the mouth of the urn, while the tapering walls of the urn supported it.

So, in spring, I would usually fill it with good soil.

And plant it with annuals.

This past spring, it sat (mostly) empty again – waiting for me to plant more annuals.

But this time I wanted a different look.

I remembered the absolutely adorable DIY succulent mushroom planters I’d seen over at A Crafty Mix.  To create the mushroom top, a half-round wire hanging basket, with its coconut liner, was placed upside down and planted with succulents.

And I started thinking:  What if I put a second hanging basket upside down over the basket that was already in the urn, filled it with soil, and planted it?

I had a hanging basket on hand, so I placed it on top of the urn to see what the shape would be.

Interesting!  The only problem was that I didn’t have a coconut liner or the right cute succulents on hand.  But there was a pot of baby tears in the no-man’s-land behind my garage.  The hardy little plants had survived the winter.  I just needed to remove the dead plants and the weeds from the pot.

Once I cleaned up the pot of baby tears, I turned it upside down and emptied the contents, which came out in one big clump, into the wire hanging basket.  (Of course, if the baby tears had not created such a dense mat, this would not have worked.) I pressed the soil/baby tears clump tightly into the basket, trimming the clump where necessary to make it fit.

Now the baby tears were upside down and pressed against the wire of the basket.  I tightly packed plenty of good potting soil into the hollow middle of this mess and watered it thoroughly.

Then I carried the basket over to the urn, quickly flipped it upside down, and placed it on top of the soil-filled basket that was already lining the urn.

Because I did this so quickly, not much of the packed soil fell out.

I connected the two baskets together with clips.  Now they were joined as a circle, although only the top basket was showing.

There were holes and bald spots in the new baby tears “mound.”  So I added more soil and additional plugs of baby tears where needed.  I also added a thin grapevine wreath to the circumference to give it a more finished look.

Now the mound just needed to fill in a bit.

Baby tears grow well in the shade, so we moved this urn to a shady spot outside our garden shed.

The baby tears mound has thrived there this past summer.

 

As I said before, not spectacular.  But, as someone who likes topiaries, I am enjoying the neat and manicured look of this pot – especially in a garden that is otherwise chaotic by the end of summer.  And I was able to put this together in minutes with materials I already had on hand.

Maybe next year, I will try planting the mound with something else.

This is not the first time I’ve joined two hanging baskets to make a circle.  This hanging garden sphere ended up hosting two birds’ nests!

A Garden Update

You might recall that, back in April, I shared my makeover of a large planting area in my garden.  I was in the early stages of transforming this area.  I had removed many of the existing plants and done a bit of landscaping.

The area then looked like this.

Because it was new, it was pretty sparse.  The Spanish lavender and geranium starts that I had placed around the gravel center circle were still tiny.  The dahlia and peony tubers I had planted had not yet emerged from the soil.

So what’s happening now?

While the peonies didn’t do much this summer (nor did I expect them to in their first year), the dahlias went crazy. The lavender and geraniums thrived as well.

 

 

 

 

I planted Swiss chard to add first-year color to the sparser parts of this new area.

And a couple of recent arrivals are these zinnias,

and this variegated dwarf Joe Pye (which hopefully will be less prolific than the full-sized Joe Pye I used to have here).

Joe Pye blooms late summer and early fall. The bees loved our old Joe Pye so much that I felt I needed to give them something in its place.

But the symmetry I had hoped for on either side of the urn did not happen.

The look is still incomplete and chaotic.  So, come fall, I’ll relocate some plants and rethink others.

But there is something going on here that I like:  Now that the area is less densely planted, we get a little “peek-a-boo” view of the back patio.

 

 

There is a madrone that separates the back patio from the planting bed.  Unlike its rambling, trailing counterpart in another planting bed, this one has been growing up instead of sideways – with beautiful branching.

At this time of year, its bark peels away to reveal fresh green wood underneath.  After it’s done peeling, the bark with turn a rich brown and become so smooth that it will look polished.

I like how the two areas seem more connected now, and I also like how the unique, sculptural branching of the madrone is more noticeable.

So, whatever changes I make (and there will be changes), I will keep that in mind.

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Have The Home Of Your Dreams With These Simple Renovations

My recent living room makeover wasn’t a huge remodel.  It wasn’t even particularly imaginative. The biggest change was a new coat of paint. Yet it made a huge improvement to my home and the way I feel about it.  Now I want to keep going and repaint every room on the main floor!

So this contributed post, about simple changes that make a big impact, really spoke to me.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Have The Home Of Your Dreams With These Simple Renovations

Do you want to improve your home but don’t know where to start? Consider starting small.  Sometimes small changes are all you need to breathe fresh life into your home.  So, if you want to fall in love with your home again without spending a fortune, this post is for you! It will go over some simple renovations that will have your house feeling new in no time.

Apply A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Applying a new coat of paint is a cheap, simple way to update any room.  You can also peel off wallpaper before repainting your walls. 

The best time to paint is when the weather outside is warm and dry so that your fresh paint will not peel or crack—plan for at least a week of drying time before moving furniture back in. Laying plastic on floors and using a drop cloth to protect the floor will help contain any mess. Once it’s dry, you’ll be pleased with the beautiful transformation that a fresh coat of paint can bring.

Install New Lighting

An easy way to make a space feel new is with some simple light fixtures. Swapping out a fixture can change the mood of your home in seconds. Make sure the fixture is large enough to cover most or all of the space without being too overwhelming or detracting from other elements in the room, such as a fireplace.

It would help to balance lighting between ambient, task, and accent lights, so make sure you keep that in mind when selecting fixtures for different parts of the room. Select fixtures that complement your décor, but don’t feel limited to them. Be sure to hire a professional to install your new light fixtures if you are not experienced at doing this task yourself.

Replace An Old Roof

Some of the most important tasks to take on when having an old house renovated are those that will make your property more energy-efficient. Of course, the priority is usually a new roof as it can save you heating and cooling costs. 

There are many different types of roofing materials available, but asphalt shingles are often a good option because they last longer and are less expensive than some other materials. And sources like Affordable Home Services can make roof replacements cost effective.

Add A Mudroom

There are so many benefits to having a mudroom.  But even if there is no room in your existing floor plan to add one, try designating some wall space near your front or back door as a space for an organized “drop zone” for keys, sunglasses, gloves and jackets. Most importantly, provide a place for wet or dirty footwear. This can reduce the amount of dirt, mud, and other debris tracked into your house, so you won’t have to clean house as often.  

Invest In Your Entrance

The entrance is the first impression that guests have of your home.  If possible, make sure that your entryway has a welcoming feel. A great way to do this is by investing in a new front door or repainting your existing one and adding upgraded door hardware.  Try adding decent-sized plant containers on either side of the front door or an attractive outdoor chair or bench near the entrance.

Conclusion

The home of your dreams might be closer than you think. With just a few simple renovations, you can make any space feel like the place where you belong and want to spend time with family and friends every day. 

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4 Great Ideas For Improving Your Home’s Exterior

Today’s contributed post is on one of my favorite topics: Curb appeal.  At my house, there is always room for improvement in this area, and tip number 2 reminded me that I really need to step up my game when it comes to exterior lighting.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

4 Great Ideas For Improving Your Home’s Exterior

We often hear real estate professionals talk about the importance of street appeal in buying and selling properties.  That’s because street appeal is your home’s public image.  It’s the story that it tells about itself and its occupants.  And that means something whether or not you’re selling your home. 

As per the U.S Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, homeowners spent $522 billion on home improvement projects from 2017 to 2019.  And, while much of this money and effort was spent on interior improvements to homes, improving your outdoor space is equally essential.

But improving your home’s exterior doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult.  Here are a few simple tips.

1.  Upgrade Your Front Door

First impressions typically begin at your front entryway, so having a dazzling front door is a guaranteed way to boost your home’s curb appeal. Thankfully, you can explore numerous ideas to make your front door attractive. For instance, giving your front door a new coat of paint can refresh your home completely. Alternatively, you can replace an old and unappealing door with a more eye-catching option. However, unless you plant to repaint your exterior, always choose a new front door based on your existing outdoor color scheme.

You can also upgrade your front door hardware to enhance its look. And if you are considering redesigning your entryway or front door, it is always best to add a personalized touch that reflects your style. As such, you can hop over to this page to consult with experts for durable, customized doors to improve your curb appeal.

2.  Invest In Exterior Lighting

Proper outside lighting is a must-have to boost your home’s exterior. For starters, exterior lights increase curb appeal and can even help you get more cash for your house when you decide to sell in the future. Indeed, the National Association of Home Builders reports that excellent exterior lighting can increase your home’s value by up to 20%. 

Outdoor lights also highlight exciting landscape or architectural features at night, so they are worth the investment. In addition, these lights increase safety after dark since well-lit exterior spaces deter criminals. You can select strong lighting sources if you want a highly illuminated space or opt for solar lights and small lanterns for a soothing and relaxed atmosphere.

3.  Revive Your Roof

Your roof is an essential aspect of your home’s insulation and weatherproofing system. But your roof also significantly contributes to your home’s exterior appeal. Therefore, a roof revival might be necessary to transform drab roofing into an aesthetically pleasing asset. Generally, your roof’s condition and age will determine whether replacement is needed. As such, take a critical look at your roof and consider repairing or replacing it to improve your home’s exterior.

4.  Install Window Boxes

 

Window boxes are undeservingly overlooked when homeowners consider ideas for sprucing up their home’s exterior. However, the classic window box remains an excellent exterior design feature that can add a distinct touch to your house and make it genuinely stand out. You can select a window box made of metal, wood, vinyl, or fiberglass, depending on your preferences. Then, hire a professional to anchor these boxes properly, reducing their chances of failing in the future. You can also consider planting some colorful mix and match flowers to make your exterior brim with life.

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Getting The Most Out Of Your Small Garden

I have a fairly large garden, and I enjoy it. But I can see a day when I’m ready to downsize to a smaller, more manageable outdoor space.  This post, brought to me by a guest writer, gives us a few suggestions for maximizing space in a small garden.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Small Garden

It can be challenging in small gardens to fit all the plants you want to grow into a limited space. You don’t have the luxury of planting every crop or flower species you may want. But, with some creativity, you can make the most of your small garden space.  Here are a few tips.

Grow What Isn’t Easily Accessible To You

You may want to grow and harvest all your favorite veggies but, if you only have a small space to work with, you might not be able to grow all your favorite crops. The best you can do, in this case, is to prioritize and focus on growing what isn’t easily accessible to you. Find out what you cannot buy easily and grow it instead. For example, if you love mushrooms but find them a bit difficult to access where you are, you can try growing them. Out-Grow, for example, can provide you with the mushroom-growing substrates you need.

Practice Companion Planting

With companion planting, you can grow more than one crop on a patch of land. In companion farming, it is important to pair plants that grow well together. Growing the wrong crops together will only lead to competition for nutrients and root space. 

A crop like carrots, for example, does well with beets, as the latter has a shorter growth period. Tomato plants also do pretty well when paired with most other plants. 

Grow Vertically

If you have a limited amount of garden space, why not try growing plants on your garden wall or fence? This will provide you with extra growing space and also add to the attractiveness of your small garden.  You can choose climbing plants or opt to grow plants in pouches and wall-hanging pots attached to your fence. Growing plants in containers on a wall or fence also keeps them out of reach of many pests. 

Look For Compact Varieties Of Your Favorite Plants

Many plant types have compact or dwarf species that take up much less planting and growing space. If your favorite plants take up too much room, try opting for their dwarf species instead. The only downside here is that the compact or dwarf species also yield smaller fruits and flowers in most cases. So, take the time to check your local seed provider or plant nursery for the compact species of the plants you want. And be sure to read the instructions they come with.

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Eight Ways To Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

I’m always sensitive to any unpleasant odors in my home, especially during the warm summer months.  Seems I’m constantly doing the “sniff test” on the soft textile surfaces:  Curtains, cloths, towels, rugs, etc.  So I love it that this post, brought to me by a guest writer, brings up the importance of keeping curtains clean.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Eight Ways To Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

We want to believe that our homes can be healthy, hygienic and fragrant year-round. But that’s rarely how it works out in reality. 

In this post, we take a look at some of the ways you can freshen up our interiors without resorting to fabric deodorizers. 

1. Wipe Down Surfaces Using Unscented Microfiber Cloths

If you want your home to smell beautiful and fresh, try wiping down your surfaces after you clean them with a dry, microfiber cloth. These cloths are incredible for attracting any microscopic particles still left on your countertops that could produce a smell later on. 

2. Check For Mold In Bathrooms

Do your bathrooms or powder rooms smell a little musty when you walk in? If so, there’s a good chance that you have a mold problem. Check your grouting for patches of discoloration. Also check for any damp drywall, since it is a magnet for both mold and mildew. If you do find mold, you may wish to get professional guidance on how to deal with it.

3. Wash Your Curtains

Most curtains are made of similar fabric to clothes and sheets. And yet most people never bother to wash them. So, over time, they absorb all kinds of foul-smelling particles which then leach odors into your home. 

The solution, though, is super simple. Put them in the wash (if machine washable) and follow the laundering instructions.

4. Add More Plants

Plants have a wonderful deodorizing effect on homes. Their leaves naturally freshen the air and keep everything smelling beautiful. Just make sure to give your plants the proper light exposure and prune, water, and mist as needed.  

5. Get Rid Of Pest Droppings

Sometimes pest droppings and urine can lead to foul smells in your home. And the worst bit? No amount of cleaning can solve the problem because it is usually under the floorboards or behind the walls.

In situations like these, getting rat and mice removal is essential. Not only are droppings smelly, but they could potentially harm your health. 

6. Cleanse All The Surfaces In Your Home

Cleansing your home’s surfaces is tedious, but it is essential. That’s because even doors and windows can harbor compounds that create foul odors over time. Be sure to clean all the surfaces, including your fridge, your garbage cans, and behind the toilets. Leave no area unscrubbed!

7. Clear Out The Clutter

When it comes to bad smells, clutter is your number one enemy. Not only does it trap odors from other parts of the house, but it can also start to smell pretty bad in its own right even after a short time. 

8. Add An Air Purifier

Lastly, if you’re still struggling to deal with any odors, install an air purifier. These clever devices suck in air and then trap any odor-containing particles in a fine mesh. If you have a particularly smelly room, they can work wonders.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Our Master Bath Remodel Series
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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ORC Week 8: A Pet-Friendly Living Room Makeover – Final Reveal

Finally we’re at Week 8 of the One Room Challenge.  If you’ve been following my living room transformation since Week 1, thank you so much for coming along on my little journey.  In this post, you’ll finally see if I accomplished my goal of creating an elegant, airy, and inviting living room that looks right for our circa 1920s house.  And, because we always seem to end up with at least one resident cat, it must also be able to withstand pet hair and pet stains.

Basically, my project consisted painting stuff, buying stuff, and moving stuff around.  To see some really impressive projects, check out what the other Challenge participants have done.  You can find their projects here.

Big thanks to media sponsor Better Homes & Gardens and ORC creator Linda at Calling It Home.  The ORC gave me the motivation I needed to actually do something about this room – and keep to a schedule.

The Room’s Challenges

In my Week 1 post, I went into detail on the challenges we were facing with the living room.  But, in a nutshell, this is just a very tricky room to furnish.  Because it has two huge windows, two doorways, and one large archway, there is very little actual wall space.  Since there is no entry hall, traffic flow from the front door to any other place in the house radiates from the living room.  So traffic flow also had to be taken into consideration when placing furniture.

As a result, most of the furniture was pushed against the walls.  This made the living room feel more like a glorified hallway.  And somehow it looked cluttered and empty at the same time.

Living room before

The sofa blocked access to the garden view from one of the large windows. Anyone sitting on the sofa would be facing away from the view. Since I’m the type of person who loves to look out windows, this has always bugged me.

Living room before

But turning the sofa at an angle from the window wouldn’t have worked either because that huge sofa would have impeded traffic flow to the dining room.

Living room and dining room before

Also, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the room was a bit bland.  The blandness actually did have a calming effect – which is why we kept it that way for so long.  But this was not a room where we enjoyed spending a lot of time.

Although antiques are not trendy right now, we love ours.  But they felt stagnant in the room.  I needed to find locations that worked better for them.

So, here is what we did.  And as I explain the project, I’ll also mention a couple of things that make the room pet-friendly.

The Transformation!

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We mostly use this room for gatherings or for listening to music.

So, for a cozier gathering area, we replaced the sofa with a loveseat.  That enabled us to create a U-shaped seating configuration that centered around the large window instead of blocking it.

The new loveseat is from World Market.  I know from experience that it can comfortably seat two adults and one small child.

 

It was very affordable, and I am in love with its fun and classic design.  The green upholstered chair is also new from World Market.  They are both very soft and velvety.

Pet-Friendliness:  Although I can’t speak for all cats, none of our cats have ever been compelled to use furniture covered in microsuede as a scratching post.  It’s also easy to spot-clean and vacuum. So I made sure that my new furniture pieces (the loveseat and upholstered chair) were covered in microsuede fabrics.  

The new furniture configuration called for a square area rug.  The new area rug I found carries a bit of an arts and crafts theme that I think goes well with our 1920s house.  The only thing I’m not crazy about is the fringe.

Pet-Friendliness:  Maybe it’s just the particular vacuum that I have, but I find it impossible to vacuum cat hair from low-pile rugs.  So, when shopping for a new rug, I didn’t consider rugs with a pile height shorter than a half inch.   

I gave the tray of our old coffee table/ottoman an update (detailed in my Week 6 post).  It not only looks better, it’s also easier to clean up spills since now it has a plexiglass cover.

Beyond it, under the window, is the little vintage bench that used to be in our bedroom.  It works well here as extra seating yet it doesn’t block the window view.

This Hepplewhite-style chair was one of the first antiques I purchased (at a swap meet) as a young adult.  I love it just as much now as when I first saw it.

In the corner behind it, a vintage lamp adds evening lighting.  A majesty palm and a “string of bananas” succulent help to blur the line between indoors and outdoors.

 

A piece of abstract art done by my preschooler niece, and an oil painting of our cat, Eddie, painted by a friend, hang on the wall.  (Now Eddie can give us his judgy look even when he’s not in the room.)

 

To the left of the palm is the dresser I revamped with chalk paint a few years ago.

 

As a side table between the two chairs, we are using a small vintage table that we inherited from my mother-in-law.

And next to the loveseat is the industrial glam campaign table that used to belong to my Mom.  She graciously agreed to trade another table with me so I could have this one.  So I guess I didn’t just shop my own house for this room, I also shopped Mom’s.

From the front door, traffic flow still works.  But the living room no longer looks like a hallway – with furniture pushed against the walls.  It’s cozier and more intimate.

The north wall is the longest stretch of uninterrupted wall space, but the front door also swings in here.  Furniture placed on this wall needs to be fairly shallow for the sake of traffic flow.

Here we placed our wardrobe-turned-stereo-cabinet and an antique console.

This wall gets indirect light from two large windows, so plants here always seem to do well.

We don’t use the front door much ourselves, but guests and packages come in this way.  So, other than the plants, I didn’t go overboard on styling the console as it will no doubt serve as a drop zone.

 

But of course I had to tweak something after this post was published.  I remembered a friend’s advice to make the living room reflect our personalities – which I think I did for the most part.  But the console felt impersonal.  So I changed a few of things and added a couple of art pieces done by family members of all ages.  There’s still space to use the console as a drop zone, but now it’s just more “us.”

Moving on to the west wall, we have our liquor cabinet.  The large mirror was hanging in this location before.  It’s the only piece in the room that went back to the same location.

We got the wood carving from a local artist in Kona, Hawaii, while vacationing on The Big Island.

From the dining room, there is ample space to enter the living room despite the placement of the loveseat.

As a transition between the living room and dining room, we hung a large print that we got at an arts and crafts fair in Newport, Oregon.

The photo was taken under the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.

I really love how the photograph looks with our new wall color, and I’d like to talk a moment about the new color.  It’s a PPG color called Iced Periwinkle.  This color changes noticeably in any changing light.

For example, this color is in both our living room and our dining room.  But, when the dining room light is on, it looks like a completely different color.  So far I’m liking any color it decides to be.

Deep, moody colors and wall treatments like box moldings are trending now, and they look fantastic. But it’s not what I wanted for this room.  So, once again, I’m flying my freak flag and going against trend.

Speaking of which, this is also a good time to mention the window coverings – or lack thereof:

If the windows were mullioned, I would have already replaced the dated mini blinds.  But I have yet to find an alternative type of blind or shade that is as versatile or as suited for the expanse of these large picture windows.  So, until I do, they have to stay.

Also, you might be wondering where the curtains are.  The curtains that were in the room before actually look better with the new wall color but, for the time being, we are enjoying the windows without them.

But let’s get back to the single most important issue:  Our resident cat Eddie.  Before the room transformation, he loved sleeping on the large sofa against the window.  So I was hoping he could find happiness in this room even after the transformation.

Well, the jury has come back.

And I think he’ll be okay.

So I can finally say that, as far as I’m concerned, the transformation was a success.

I will leave you with one last before . . .

Southeast wall before

and after.

Southeast wall after

Sources

The Camel Leanna tufted loveseat is from World Market.

The green upholstered chair is also from World Market, though I’m not seeing it on their website at the moment.

All throw pillows are from World Market.

I got the square area rug from another source, but it’s available on Amazon (and on sale as of this writing).

The felt rug pad under the rug is from RugPadUSA on Amazon.

The woven seagrass plant basket that the majesty palm is in is from Artera Home Store and available on Amazon.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel