Playroom Progress: Curtain Rings and Other Things

I’M NOT REALLY SURE why I’m even awake right now.  It’s probably the residual effect of the Starbucks grade jet fuel that coursed through my veins for a few hours following my 8 a.m. Target/grocery run. I will likely crash land two minutes before my son starts wailing at me post-afternoon nap.

There are a few things I’ve come to loathe since becoming a mom (e.g, people who park too close to the line in parking lots, the Post Office, going out to dinner after 5 p.m., jeans, underwires and Jenny McCarthy).  Today, daylight savings time is topping my list.  The loss of the hour of sleep, bringing with it the extra daylight after 6 p.m., no longer seems like a fair trade to me.  As the mother of a strange, nocturnal beast I say keep your daylight! Darkness is the ticket to an early bedtime and what’s left of my sanity.  Yes. Darkness.

But while I’m riding high from my overpriced caffeine, I figured I’d share some playroom updates with all of you.  I usually clean up my son’s playroom twice a day.  Once after he goes down for his afternoon nap and then again after he goes to sleep at night.  Today the light was too good to pass up so I snapped a few shots of his room after I cleaned up.

Embrace My Space Playroom

After the great curtain conundrum, I’m happy to report that all of the curtains are up.  I also have a few new pieces of furniture making a debut today.  First is the IKEA Mammut children’s table in celery green.  I originally was contemplating getting a few storage ottomans for next to the sofa, but, after I realized how much my son likes to play at the activity tables at the library and his gym class, I decided a tiny table for him was the best option.

Embrace My Space Playroom

I was going to get him a few IKEA Fargglad stackable chairs to go with the table, but the chairs were out of stock.  After I got home I realized he really only needs one chair for now (which he has) and the Moroccan poufs work for additional seating when his friends come to play.  I still love the Fargglad chairs so you might be seeing those somewhere else, maybe even outside, sometime soon.

Embrace My Space Playroom

And just for comparison’s sake, here is a picture of what this room looked like before we moved in:

Formal Living Room

You will notice that we still have the gold/white (or is it BLACK and BLUE?!?!?) wallpaper in the adjacent room.  Eventually I want that space, which the former owners used as a formal dining room, to be part of an expanded kitchen.  These are plans for the future.  Think, 10 year plan.

Embrace My Space Playroom

In addition to the table, I also purchased a Trofast step-style storage system from IKEA.  I recently learned about this collection, and I am in love to say the least.  There are a few options for finishes/materials/configurations.  You can also select different colored bins depending on what works with your space.  I selected the sturdy and more expensive pine version of the unit.  This thing is rock solid and neutral enough that I will be able to move it around the house, add pieces to it to make a larger system in the future and change out the storage buckets to match other color schemes in future designs.  I also love how, when placed next to my armless sofa, it serves not only as storage, but as an end table for drinks/remotes and as a display shelf for cute toys.

Embrace My Space Playroom

If life were perfect, I’d have a little bit more space next to the sofa so the storage unit didn’t spill over the doorframe between the two rooms.  But if I had a choice between more space and more sleep, I’d choose the sleep.  Being a mother has given me the grace to accept that life, and spaces, will never be perfect, and that interrupted sleep is fleeting.

Embrace My Space Playroom

I love how cozy and fun the room feels now that the curtains are finally up.  My mom made them for me using the Balmoral opal fabric from  I also love the playfulness of the Hopplek rug from IKEA, another purchase I made during my recent trip.  The black and white ticking stripes along the edge along with the blue and green stripes/numbers help this educational rug fit right into the space.  I also like how the rug breaks up the chevron pattern on the larger black and white rug I purchased from Rugs USA.  When left on its own, this rug actually makes me dizzy.  I’ve literally almost passed out while vacuuming it.

Embrace My Space Playroom

The room now has plenty of storage for all of my son’s books and toys.  My son loves puzzles and I store/display his using a metal dish rack from Target.

The blue Badger Baskets bins on either side of the room are wide and deep enough to hold pretty much any small toy, and I like how easy they make it for my son to be able to access his toys.  I also store blankets and pillows in these bins underneath his toys.  Land of Nod carries similar storage units, but Badger Baskets fit my budget better.  Not only are these bins great for storage, but you can stack them to your heart’s content.  I like stacking two.  I think it’s the perfect height to double as an entertainment unit/console table.  The one beneath the TV serves to hold our cable box and the one on the other side of the room has my son’s CD player and a basket of diaper changing supplies.

Embrace My Space Playroom

I still need to put some art on the walls and get a new floor lamp for the one corner.  While I’m sure this space will change and grow as fast as my son, for now it’s feeling very comfortable and functional.  Do you have any great ideas for playroom storage you think would work for me?  I’d love to hear about them!  What do you think about what I’ve done so far?  Have your kids completely taken over your home?


Love What You Love

HAPPY FEBRUARY my beautiful people.  I don’t like Valentine’s Day.  Like, not at all.  It’s so cheesy and cheap chocolate-y and gross prix fixe-y.

In the year 6 BB (that is six years before baby, or 2007) my husband took me to Valentine’s Day dinner at the Walnut Grill in Pittsburgh.  This restaurant isn’t open anymore, which doesn’t sadden me in the least if that gives you any indication of how this story is about to go down.

I have a pretty sappy and thoughtful husband, and he was trying to do the right thing by making a Valentine’s Day reservation.  Except he dropped the ball.  He basically secured the last possible reservation at the last possible restaurant at the last possible minute.  In his defense we were in law school at the time.  Law school has the effect of turning even the most organized, romantic person into a soulless, coffee-stained specter whose nightmares feature banana peels in various stages of decay and big, blocky mnemonic devices that would make Seuss’s head spin.  Plus we were in our second year, which means we were also applying for really important jobs that neither of could care less about now.  Oh, Life, you have quite the sense of humor.  Can I get tickets to your next show?  I’ll be the one heckling you from the back row, most likely dressed in yesterday’s PJs.

When we arrived at the restaurant we were seated at a table wedged between the kitchen and two blonde undergrads whose self-worth correlated strictly to their inability to trick a reasonably attractive frat boy into buying them an overpriced dinner on this most important of all days.  With the clanging from the kitchen assaulting one ear and the whiney omigodmylifeisover piercing the other, the highlight of the meal was the creamy soft cheese drizzled with honey.  And that was the appetizer, so, you know.

Matt still apologizes to me for this night.  But he really did me a great service.  It was like Toto pulling back the velvet emerald green curtain.  That stinky little table pinning us between the guts of the restaurant and the gut-wrenching conversation exposed Valentine’s Day for money-grubbing, single-person shaming fraud she is.  Ugh, Valentine’s Day.  What a sham!

But, I do like pink and red hearts.  Especially when they are so delicately strewn across my bookcase, creating a stunning contrast against its deep teal finish.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts


Did you really think I was that cold?  The Tin Man didn’t go home empty handed that day after all.  This certainly restored my faith in Love and hearts.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

I recently finished the stencil in the foyer so I turned my attention to restyling my teal bookcase, which is a piece from the Arhaus relics collection.  I wanted to do something bold and graphic on top of the bookcase, and I’d been envisioning a huge palm frond or something similar.

Earlier this month on a trip to Terrain, which is a garden shop and café curated by the geniuses behind the ethereal and eternally stylish Anthropologie, I found this stunning dried red stem of a plant of unknown origin. Unknown to me, that is; I’m sure the folks at Terrain could tell you but I know diddly about plants.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

I went on a mission to find a large vessel to display my red stem.  Along the way I found a great basket weave vase in the dishware section of HomeGoods, perfect to go with my coastal, casual vibe.  The stem in the vase didn’t quite hold her own up there, so I tracked down a faux palm leaf to help her out.

My stance on plant life in the home is as follows:  real is preferable, but only if you can keep it green and alive, dried is the second best option, particularly if you can preserve the original color or pick it in your back yard, and as for faux, a single stem or leaf is ok, as are twigs, bamboo stalks and the like, but no silk flowers or plants in colors that don’t appear in nature.  No.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

One day last week when my son was napping, I decided I didn’t feel like reading or writing or ‘rithmetic but I still wanted to do something productive.  I went upstairs to my craft supplies and pulled out every shade of red and pink paper I had on hand.  Then he woke up so I left the paper, along with my string, scissors and pencil in a pile in the middle of the living room floor.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

Later that evening after my son went to bed I resumed work as I watched some TV with my hubby.  I drew a ton of hearts in various sizes on the paper and cut them out.  When I realized that would take forever, I began to fold the paper a few times and cut once so I could get more hearts with each pass of the scissors.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

I taped the paper hearts to some string in no particular order, so the garland has an imperfect, organic look to it.  I also had some hearts left over so I taped a few to the mirror anchoring my living room gallery wall.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

I made two simple garlands, one for the bookcase and one for the fireplace.  I also added a few red accent pieces to the mantel to make the display look a bit more Valentiney.

Embrace My Space: Paper Hearts

If you have time to watch TV and you passed your pre-K art class, this project is for you!

I leave you with this inspirational quote from my design muse, Jonathan Adler, who also said “If you love it like crazy, it will work.”  I couldn’t agree with him more.

jonathan adler love

This Valentine’s Day and every day, I hope you’re surrounded with what you love.  Happy hearting!


The Great Curtain Conundrum

THE STORY I’m about to share wouldn’t have happened but for my personal pride as a DIYer and my innate desire to save a buck.  My mom is the reason I possess these wonderful instincts that often send me swirling into a spackle-covered downward spiral of cussing and unfinished projects.  Thanks Mom!  You’ve raised me right.

My mom and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment until I was about 9 years old.  We had a lovely landlord, Hoss, who would take care of our creaks, drips, cracks and rattles.  When Hoss came over to fix something he would enter through the side door to our tiny kitchen, and he’d always turn a blind eye to our vagabond house cats as they squeezed their way into the house before the heavy metal screen door caught them by the tails.  My mom still hid the kitty food bowls when she knew he was coming over.  Maintaining a semblance of obedience will take your far.

When my mom bought our house just before I started fifth grade the cats came with us, but Hoss did not.  So what’s a cash-strapped first time home buyer to do when she’s lost her built-in handyman?  Do it herself, of course.  And so for years and years I watched my mom repair dripping toilets, mow our lawn, caulk the bathtub, paint the kitchen, and sew curtains for my bedroom, all while bringing home the bacon and making sure I still got to go to Disneyland.  Wow, don’t I feel like an ass for whining about staying at home to care for my child while my husband goes to work.  Again, thanks Mom!

Anyway, growing up watching my mom do pretty much everything herself ingrained me with a lively can-do spirit.  What I’ve discovered through the course of many home projects gone awry, however, is that a can-do spirit don’t mean jack if you have no skills or actual tools in your toolbox.   So sometimes that lively can-do spirit of mine goes a little something like:  “Mom, you can do this for me, right?”  Ha.  Just kidding.  Well, not really.

Because I did ask my mom to make me these lovely curtains for my son’s playroom.

Playroom Curtains: Embrace My Space

What, you aren’t noticing the curtains? I should have cleaned up for you.  Sorry.  Let me see if I can get a better shot for you.

Playroom Curtains: Embrace My Space

Ah, just kidding.  Not happening today.  Remember, I’m not my mom.  Can’t do everything.

Try to look passed the caterpillar tunnel, McDonald’s Happy Meal Furbies circa 1998, recycled plastic dump truck, drunken Minion and so on.  Right there, next to the window.  See them?

Okay, now that we are all on the same page, take a look at these beauties!  Last week my mom came to stay with me and on my to-do list was to hang these curtains she sewed for me using this Richloom Solar Outdoor fabric I purchased from  Using my own calculations I imagined my mom could make me six stunning 90″ panels out of eight yards of this fabric.  At under $9/yard, that’s a steal at just under $80 for six panels.

The key is that I imagined this.  Because in reality what I got was those full, lush palm curtains you see above and these two slim fellows you see below.

Playroom Curtains: Embrace My Space

womp, womp.  My measurements were way off.  You see, this is upholstery grade fabric so it’s sold on a 54″ wide bolt.  Being the clever, frugal gal that I am, I figured my mom could splice those eight leafy yards right down the center leaving me with six 26″ x 90″ curtain panels.

So she did, and what I ended up with was six, sickly thin panels as you see displayed above.  The photo is a bit deceiving because the panels really don’t look all that bad there, but if you look at this side by side comparison maybe you can get a better feel for what I’m saying.

Playroom Curtains: Embrace My SpaceOn the left you are seeing two stick-thin panels and on the right you are actually seeing the remaining four panels (two bunched together on either side).  Basically, I ordered about half as much fabric as I needed to make these curtains look right.  It was a downright mistake on my part.  I thought the panels would look okay at just 26″ wide considering the curtains in my living room are about that width.  The problem I ran into is this fabric is just way too thin to hang properly at that width.  While I really do like to stretch a buck, it’s clear that the full width panels are much better looking.  So back I went to to order eight more yards of fabric so my mom can sew me three full-width panels to finish off the room.

So sad.  What’s even worse is that I went to just now to pull the link for this post and the damn website gave me a pop-up offer for 20% off my purchase with email sign up.  Where were you last week when I ordered those eight extra yards, huh, coupon!?!?

Even with my original snafu, I spent just under $160 for what will be six total curtain panels for this room.  That’s $27 per panel.  As far as custom curtains go, that’s not a bad price at all.  Your typical curtain panel from West Elm or even Target will cost you more than that, especially if you are getting something longer than the 80″ length curtains that are available in-stock at the store.

And just one more thing before I go.  You might not have noticed this, but the fun didn’t stop there with this project.  No, siree.  I mentioned that my mom was here for the week so I wanted to get these curtains knocked off my to-do list while she was here to help with my boy.

A simple task, or so it would seem.  Because before I even got to the point where I noticed how sickly thin the curtains were going to look unless we doubled them up, I put a half dozen or so holes in my walls trying to mount the brackets.

Playroom Curtains: Embrace My SpaceI’ve hung a million curtain rods in my life.  Well, that’s an exaggeration.  I’ve hung at least 10 curtain rods in my life and I NEVER would have imagined what an absolute disaster it would be for me to hang these.  I will spare you the long, nightmarish tale and just tell you that, similar to 50 Shades of Grey, the highlights include hammering, screwing/unscrewing, sweating, cursing, spackling and a little crying.  After all of that I packed up my can-do spirit, my bruised DIYer’s pride and paid my carpenter $20 to hang the rods for me.  I think my mom would be proud, because even she would admit that the only thing worse than spending extra money to pay somebody to do something you should have been able to do yourself would be to let the project sit there unfinished.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’m done trying to be a hero.  I will ask for help when it will make my life easier.

Next time keep your eyes peeled for a full set of curtains in each window.  I’ll also clean up before showing you around.  I promise.  Happy weekend!