On My Nightstand

This is not a clever new title for a post about which books are metaphorically on my bedside table. No, it is literally the stack of books and other things that I have been making my way through lately. Like a “what’s in your bag?” post, but heavier! Unstyled for authenticity (though I did take the picture this morning, as opposed to last night when I actually wrote this).

So many books to read! So little sleep!

Let’s dive in, shall we? Very brief summaries ahead.

The Humorous Memoirs

Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling
Her first book was a collection of things that had happened to her, but this is more of a peek into why she thinks the way she does. A brilliant, funny, and inspiring read.

Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson
We’re all a little weird and wonderful, Jenny perhaps more so than most (and that’s why we all love her).

The Magazines

One Kings Lane: Style Your Season
Impulse buy at the checkout. “One Kings Lane made a magazine? Is this a regular thing? Buying that.” A pricey impulse buy ($14 for a magazine), but I was curious. It is the new Domino model (create a magazine to drive sales to the shop) in reverse. With a holiday twist!

House Beautiful
I subscribe, and this is the magazine I most look forward to every month.

Martha Stewart Living
Another subscription, another I always look forward to. Martha, my love.

The Decorating Books

Pink, Lisa Cregan for House Beautiful
Well of course I bought this. (The author, Lisa Cregan, wrote a piece on me ages ago for Chicago Tribune Magazine! To this day, I think it’s the only bit of press I’ve received that my dad is aware of.)

Styled, Emily Henderson
There is decorating info to be gleaned from the book and the photos are beautiful, but the core of the book truly is about how to style (especially for photos) vs. how to decorate or design a space.
I suppose it should be noted that I did not use Emily’s tips to style the photo for this post. If I had, you would have noticed smaller, neater stacks, a color story, and perhaps a throw placed just so. Also real flowers. And a plant. And some ceramic bells on the wall.

Habitat, Lauren Liess
Whereas Styled is about the finishing touches, this is about the substance and planning that goes into a successful room. The field guide approach is smart, and this has been the best read of the decorating bunch.

Beekman 1802 Style, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Photos are pulled from the Country Living archives, making this a sort of highly edited Pinterest board (albeit from a single source) come to life. That said, the photos and point of view are fantastic and I love their take on historical homes and new country style.

Modern Mix, Eddie Ross
Inventive layouts and photo spreads (pulled straight from the Martha Stewart Living handbook it would seem), with useful and inventive ideas for rescuing and repurposing finds you may have otherwise overlooked.

Absolutely Beautiful Things, Anna Spiro
A riot of color and fun, and of course, absolutely beautiful things.

The Board Books

Daddy Loves Me, DK
This would be creepy if it were there for me.

Pajama Time, Sandra Boynton
Some are pink and some are green. Some are the ugliest you’ve ever seen.

The Extras

Fake flowers that are so fake it makes me smile (those peonies are the size of my baby’s head!) and a brass lamp. An alarm clock, an iPhone, a toy iPhone, a dimmer switch, and Nintendo 3DS with Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Glass water bottle with a small motivational quote below the heart (“it’d be really nice if you had your shit together a little more.”), Rosebud Salve, two pairs of glasses, and my daughter’s hair tie. Missing: the usual assortment of Star Wars guys that somehow make their way over here.

Six Designs Inspired by Stone

I’ve been working with Floor & Decor on a few posts for the blog around the three main things they carry: wood, tile, and stone. I’ve already shared my experience with wood (and bamboo), and six designs inspired by ceramic and porcelain tiles. Today, I’m sharing another six designs, but this time inspired by stone. I went to my local Floor & Decor and picked up a whole bunch of my favorites, then came home and played around with paint swatches, wallpaper samples, and other elements to create different designs.

Travertine Tile

A lot of people, myself included, hear “travertine” and think “nineties.” It was used everywhere it seems, and it can read as boring (or worse, dated). It has a lovely, earthy quality to it though, and when paired with sharp contrast and/or vivid color, it serves as an organic element to ground a room.

Travertine Tile with Black, White, Gold, and Vivid Green Accents

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Basketweave Marble Tile

Classic. More formal than subway and hexagon tile, but versatile in the same way. It would look stunning in a room with white walls and white painted woodwork, letting the tile be the star, but it could easily take a supporting role too.

Marble Basketweave Tile Design Board

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Slate and Marble Mix

These two almost match, but because they’re different materials, they play off of each other and are more interesting. A change in scale helps too. I would use slate for the floor and line the walls of a glass-enclosed shower with the mosaic marble, then bring in a muted color for the walls. The silver beetle here is representing silver finishes, but go ahead and add a random bug object too. Why not?

Slate and Marble Tile Design

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Geometric Marble Mosaic Tile

Cute, cute, cute. The geometry of the tile with all of its squares and triangles is cut by the looser style of the floral wallpaper. Paint the ceiling pale pink. Bring in a vintage dresser and cut the top for a sink, freshening the whole thing up with a glossy coat of paint. Boom — the most adorable bathroom.

Marble Mosaic Tile and Rifle Paper Co. Peonies Wallpaper

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Gray Marble Chevron/Herringbone Tile

They’re calling this “chevron” but it’s really herringbone. Either way, it’s a classic pattern that went through a huge resurgence in popularity over the last, what, five to seven years? Done in a single color (of marble, in this case), it resists being pegged as trendy. Play off of that with a mix of trendy-right-now blue and white chinoiserie and more simply patterned fabrics. Grayish blue on the walls pulls the whole look together.

Chevron Marble Tile with Blue and White Chinoiserie

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Graphic Basketweave Marble Tile

You can’t quite make it out from the sample of the wallpaper here, but those are surveillance cameras hidden among the flowers and butterflies. Brilliant, right? The perfect kind of quirk to bring to a bathroom with pink fixtures. Update the walls, bring in a little dark paint on a wooden mirror, use a mosaic on the floor that’s a nod to the designs of the fifties (but much more chic), and leave the pastel tub, toilet, and sink.

Pink Surveillance Camera Wallpaper with Gray and White Marble Mosaic Tile and Pink Bathroom Fixtures

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Do you find yourself drawn more to natural materials like stone, or do you like the options that ceramic and porcelain tiles make possible? I’m more often drawn to the latter category, but then aren’t we all smitten with marble?

Old Houses are Fun

We’re nearing the last days of temperatures climbing up into the sixties and seventies, so we’ve been getting some maintenance taken care of outside. A couple of windows on the south side of the house needed new sills, one new plinth, and a storm window repaired. We took down a planter beneath our main living room window to get to some of the areas in need of attention. We’ll hang on to it should we ever decide to rehang the thing and actually plant some annuals in it, but that’s why the siding looks a little funny there.

Peeling Paint

Did you catch the nice bit of peeling paint there toward the bottom? (It’s, uh, hard to miss.) We diverted our heating exhaust out of the side of the house last year when we replaced the boiler, but now there’s steam hitting the house off and on all day, everyday from October through March when the heat is on. The chimney is shot (which we knew about from the start), so we opted for the new vent when we upgraded to a high-efficiency unit that ties into our hot water system, but the steam caused some paint to peel near the hose spigot. The rest held because it’s relatively new siding (20 years old), but the original stuff was coming off in sheets.

The old paint was scraped off down to the bare wood, then repainted. We’ll see how it holds through the winter. The rest of the house is fine, so hopefully the new paint will last, but if not, we’ll have to see about changing the exhaust vent somehow. And the you can see one of the windows that were repaired there, too. Except, oops, wrong purple. There are seven colors of paint on the house (two purples, three taupes, a pink, and a teal), and sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re putting the wrong one up because the shades are similar, and paint always looks different when it’s wet. The correct color will go on today or tomorrow.

Repairs on the Side of the House

We hired someone for the repairs since I’m still on kid + baby duty while Brandon is recovering from his surgery. We also had part of the front porch screwed down where it had popped up, which now feels nice and sturdy. Then work started on the railing out front. There was a small spot that had sunk in, about the size of a quarter — maybe a smidge bigger. We knew that meant there was some wood rot, but we didn’t know the extent of it until work was underway.

Wood Rot in the Front Porch Railing

Yikes. It’s a relatively easy fix, at least, though it takes some time. Scrape out all of the bad stuff to start, and let it dry (moisture was getting in and causing the damage). Then you come back and fill it all in with epoxy, molding it as best you can to the right shape. Let that dry, sand it down, then coat the whole repair job in paint. We need another coat on there, but you can tell it’s way better already.

Wood Rot in the Front Porch Railing

Eventually the chimney I mentioned will need to be addressed. Either tuckpoint it again (apparently it has been done multiple times already) and hope it holds now that it is no longer in use, or remove the whole thing and either rebuild it (for aesthetics?) or extend the siding and pretend it was never there. Not looking forward to all of that, but we’ll likely give tuckpointing one last try.

A Very Old Chimney in Need of Some Repair

The downspout up there has separated from the gutters way up there, which is also being fixed this week. It’s doing something to the windows, so there may be a bit more damage to repair in that area, too. Just doing our best to keep up with the old gal.

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