Thursday, September 15, 2016

Living Room Update

Today is the day.
I’m stepping up my blog game.

I gave the blog-space a facelift.
I pulled out my real, actual camera to take some quality photos.

Which isn’t to say my home has arrived by any means. I’m still working out lots of kinks -- for example, that totally white “art” on the walls up there. I’m planning on coming up with something lovely to do there. But for now, it hangs there helping me brain storm.

I also feel like I need to come up with window treatments. But I’m not sure what yet.

 But something I am sure of….my new leather pillows.

Well I took the rest of that coat, and made two pillows for my couch out of it. And I seriously LOVE the results. 
I keep thinking, well if I didn’t want to splurge on a leather couch (and worry over kid-mistreatment), this is a really nice compromise. (A washable Ikea couch meets leather pillow that only cost me $20 split 3 ways --into pillows and bench.)

I am not going to show you a tutorial of any kind, because this is something that was really random and based totally on what I had leftover from a coat. So it was actually about a two evening mental game of me figuring out exactly how to squeeze two pillows out of it and piece those pieces together. There would be no re-creating it.

But I’ll show you the tools I used.

I’ll say that this project challenged me, and I had to use my seam ripper more times than I wanted to because fitting leather to something is different than standard fabric and I wanted the fit just right. SO I wouldn’t tell someone new to sewing to start with leather. But if you’ve been sewing for a while, I’d say it’s worth a go -- you just need to buy a needle made to go through leather. 
The actual sewing of it is very easy -- the needle makes it all go through the machine like anything else would. It’s just the fit, that’s kinda different to master.

This bolster pillow’s end pieces proved so tricky for me to get the fit right, that (after about 4 tries with the sewing machine) I wound up hand sewing them into place.
But it was worth it. I love the highly styled look it brings to the arm.

I’m also learning latley that I’m much more into textures than I had previously realized, so having this natural fiber in the space really brings me joy.

Also, while we are hanging out, I want to show you something else that brings me joy.
My coffee table decor.
More accurately stated my child-friendly coffee table decor.

I may have a strangely strong pull on me to ensure my space can accommodate both kid-friendliness and beauty.
That solidified one day when -- before I had children, and right after I started getting interested in making pretty spaces -- a guest and toddler came over. I was anticipating child-stuff happening and was totally ok with that. But the parent noted, when seeing the toddler bang on my stuff and drool on my things that I wouldn’t be able to have nice things anymore. I said nothing, but internally I became indignant towards that concept. I knew I could have beauty that could handle being around kids -- and I promised myself I would think hard enough to make sure that happened in my life.
I’ve taken it as a personal challenge to push the envelope as far as I possibly can. The better I get at it, the more vindication I feel against that pretend prison of "kids=unenjoyable spaces” mentality.

 How to get there --
My rules:

  •  My first rule is that nothing can be priceless -- in fact it should all be as "low-ball-offer” price as possible. That way, if it breaks I don’t financially mind replacing it.
  • My next rule is it needs to be durable.
  • And the last rule is it still has to be pretty.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually not a horribly hard combination.
The biggest trick is knowing what you like, so you can recognizing it in places like a thrift store or craigslist.

The last thing I do, is I talk to my kids --- even when they are very small -- about respecting our things. 
I let them use pretty much everything in the house (as long as they are safe for their age) but I am honest with them about how I enjoy the item, and how if we don’t treat it with care it can break and that would be disappointing. In addition, I often remind them that people are always more important than things and that I won’t ever be so disappointed that it could change how much I love them. But that part of caring for and about people is respecting their things.  
It’s not like a daily conversation by any means, it’s just something I am willing to bring up when it’s needed. And I like to have the conversation before it’s a correction -- so it’s just knowledge, not a reprimand -- so maybe we talk about the right way to handle a new item in the house the day we get it.
(Of course when they are babies we just start at telling them, “gentle” (and demonstrate that) when they are touching something more delicate. And we just kind of add onto the idea as they grow.)

Anyway --
Onto what makes this coffee table set up so kid friendly.

First of all -- I feel so blessed to have this coffee table itself --
It checks all my rule check boxes. It was free (!) from a friend, strong  and sturdy, very pretty.  And bonus points for being round for baby noggins.

But the stuff on the table.
I browed the concepts from ChrislovesJulia here on child friendly coffee tables, plus just the general idea of pretty things I’ve seen, and then went and found it all for cheaper than cheap.

  • The tray cost me $2 from Goodwill and it’s some kind or resin-plastic/something non-glass.

  • I asked Blake to cut me those blocks out of scraps of wood he had from projects. (For reference the the dark blocks are walnut and the light ones are tiger maple.) So free for those.

  • I found that wood bowl for them at ReStore for about a $1.

  • The plant holder is metal and cost about a dollar from ReStore. The faux succulent inside it is from Hobby Lobby -- probably about $4 or so. 

  • And The candle holder was less than a dollar from ReStore.

  • The “Lydia is committed to this concept” part is the “candles” -- I knew regular candles would get broken and I also knew I never intended to light them. So I asked Blake to buy a dowel rod that would fit in the holders, and we cut it into six sections. Then he milled the tops down a bit for me and I spray painted them white. The spray painting was fun because I just kept coating them and letting the paint drip so it looks like melting wax. (To paint them -- I poked them into an egg carton to keep them upright.)

 I love that we did this.
For one thing it just entertains me every time I see it -- and totally helps me feel accomplished.
But the kids actually have a great time playing with all these parts.
That’s a part of the fun of having child friendly decor -- it doubles as toys.
The “candles” come out and bang around like drum sticks -- and that’s ok. The girls are actually really great at putting them back when they are done.
The blocks come out and make things.
The plant is a jungle place.
 Those brass figurines I got a while ago -- still such a family favorite. Those also fit my criteria for kid -friendliness -- they are ESPECIALLY durable. And they play so well with the rest of the decor as well as the other toys.

So we are all enjoying this stuff together. It feels very special.

Let me know what you think about the new pillows and decor. As well as what you think about the blog’s facelift and better photo quality.


  1. I love it all! Your first photo looks like it's from a magazine. I think the variety of textures and richness of the leather pillows really looks beautiful.

  2. Hi Lydia! I so enjoy reading your blog. You are so talented - just like your mom :-)
    Thanks for sharing your life with us. Your home looks very warm and comfy and filled with love!


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