Have renovation regret? Let West Elm + Snap Kitchen make it better

I wasn’t kidding when I said we’re doing yet another home renovation, but oh man, I wish I was.

Here’s the gist: We eat and feed the baby and watch “The Night Of” and do work projects all while lying in bed, because the rest of our furniture is packed away. A flimsy sheet of plastic separates the only livable room – our former living room – from the clouds of construction dust.

Essentially, we’re living in a studio apartment with our 7 month old and the cat.

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And when you have two adults, a baby, a cat, and everyone’s belongings crammed into an 11-by-13-foot room, you try to get out of the house as often as possible. Seriously, we downloaded Pokemon Go and trained the shit out of those critters just to have another excuse to stay outside past Wilder’s bedtime.

So when we got invited to a picnic by West Elm and Snap Kitchen, we obviously jumped at the opportunity. A delicious lunch, gorgeous decor AND a few hours away from our one-room living situation? Thank you, Jesus.

I mean, this is WAY better than our current dining room situation, AKA our living room.

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How dramatic does this grapewood branch look on this wooden dining room table? I can’t imagine it would be that hard to pair it with some green moss or mountain laurel and a few faceted brass lanterns, and VOILA! You now live within the pages of a West Elm catalog.

And can we talk about gold flatware for a moment? I never felt particularly drawn to it, but then I went to this picnic and sat at this table, and now I’m all like, “Should I scour resale shops for some of this stuff, or what?” I liked it a lot, you guys. I felt fancy using it, too.
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And speaking of things that are beautiful and inspiring and practically life-affirming, check out that plate o’ deliciousness from Snap Kitchen.

You guys! SNAP KITCHEN IS THE SHIT. I’m somewhat ashamed I’d never had it before, especially because there’s a location not far from my office in the Chicago Loop, but oh man. Everything about this plate – the curried chicken salad sandwiches, the Summer Fling salad with coconut chicken, the fresh veggies and hummus and the juices and espresso I didn’t take pictures of because I was too busy chugging them – is totally recommended by yours truly.

So go there. Go there for lunch TODAY. And let me know when so I can meet you there, because it really was that delish. And did I mention it’s healthy, too? BECAUSE IT IS.

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Do you guys have any West Elm faves? Or if it’s too close to lunch to think about home decor, what about food faves? I tell ya what, I could eat about 10 things on that Snap Kitchen menu right about now … it’s been that kind of day.

SURPRISE! We’re busting out the sledgehammers (again)

Things have been a little quiet in this little corner of the internet, right? And remember how I said I was going to post a bunch of pictures and updates about our home renovation, but then I never did?

Well, I have a pretty good reason: We’re under construction … again. As it turns out, having a baby means your living space gets taken over by baby stuff, and the lack of closets in your vintage two-flat turns out to be way (WAY) more maddening than you anticipated.

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And so we’re doing something about it. We’re renovating! Like, TOTAL RENOVATION. Goodbye two-flat, hello single-family home.

Details to come, because we’re already back to living out of boxes amid layers and layers of construction dust. I mean, I’m writing this post on my computer atop an actual cardboard box, which – considering I was doing this exact same thing a mere six months ago – does feel a little like home.

Will the renovation ever end? Does this mean we’ll (someday) stop tripping over baby crap in the middle of the night? Will we ever have a real closet again? Stay tuned … and send lots of good juju. It ain’t easy living without a kitchen, especially when it comes to making bottles for a crying baby at 4 a.m., ya dig?

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What’s new with you guys these days, hmm?

How to style a stylin’ mantle: The sequel

One of the most popular posts on this here blog was an inaugural mantle-styling how-to, starring James putting up some garland while I stood on the couch on the other side of the room and barked orders at him. He is a really great helper, and we loved that mantle setup so much, we didn’t change it until we moved and put all the crap into boxes.

Well, guess what? We’re done moving. It’s time to decorate the mantle in the new digs using the same layering technique we used in the first post. Also heavily relying on a technique I like to call “Put stuff where the cat can’t get it,” and so far, this technique works, because she has yet to jump up on the mantle and stick her paw in a jar full of marbles.

Enough of my yammering. LET’S DO THIS!

STEP 1: Start with the Big Stuff … and an empty mantle.

In this case, I started with three framed Dolan Geiman prints, which you might have seen before. They’re kind of crooked, but life goes on. Also, those cool reclaimed wood-lookin’ frames? HOMEGOODS. SO CHEAP. Find me one person who can’t find a treasure at HomeGoods and I will make that person my enemy.

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STEP 2: Add something soft-looking to balance the hard edges of larger items.

It should come as no shock to you that I’m choosing (AGAIN) to incorporate what some may consider Christmas-y decor, but greenery always has the green light in my book. If you think otherwise, throw up a cool berry swag or some really pretty magnolia leaf garland here. The options! They’re endless!

fancykins mantle 13 fancykins mantle 14Also in soft-ish looking things, I added a yellow basket smack-dab in the middle of the fireplace to make the whole thing look more purposeful, thanks to the yellow fireplace tiles and yellow elements in the hanging art. Also, I just really like the basket.

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STEP 3: Anchor your corners.

Making a second mantle appearance (!!!) is this silver candelabra, dug out from a box of Halloween decorations, opposite a tall lantern with a Luminara LED candle inside. Also, that candle? I’m obsessed with it. It’s quite possibly the star of the mantle … and our entire home. LED candles have come a long way, people.

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STEP 4: Finish it off with random knickknacks.

Obviously the best part of the whole thing … unless you’re drinking while decorating, in which case this is the SECOND most fun part. I was feeling saucy – thanks in part to a baby who refuses to let me sleep for more than a few hours straight each night – so I threw knickknacks on in a few stages: large, medium, small. SO CLEVER, I’M AWARE.

First up, we have the big guys, AKA some jars I didn’t have room for anywhere else in the house. One of them is empty, and I didn’t care because I’m lazy and sleep deprivation is a real thing.

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Next, we have medium, AKA a few candle holder things, which hold candles I will probably never light.

fancykins mantle 18 fancykins mantle 9And, finally, we have tiny things, AKA a small bird that the cat thinks is a toy, and a tin cup with a candle inside … that I also probably will never light.

fancykins mantle 17 fancykins mantle 8BAM. Done.

Behold the finished product, complete with a second lantern and Luminara candle (obsessed, really), a wood block of votive candles, and a crock of blankets. Also (accidentally) pictured are a bag of almonds and a basket of breast pump parts. KEEPING IT CLASSY PER USUAL.

fancykins mantle 2 fancykins mantle 7 fancykins mantle 6 fancykins mantle 5 fancykins mantle 4And, for the sake of keeping it real and all that jazz, here’s what the living room looks like ALL THE TIME NOW. Baby gear up the wazoo.

fancykins mantle 1There’s Wilder taking a quick morning snooze in the Snugapuppy Rock ‘n Play, which we resisited buying because I thought it was obnoxious and unnecessary, but then finally caved and bought it and OH MY GOD, GREATEST NAPTIME PURCHASE EVER. Buy this thing, and you will be able to pee and shower and cook dinner and do laundry and anything else you could possibly dream of.

Sigh. If only adulting was as fun as mantle decorating.

What fun stuff are YOU guys up to lately?

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