Onward and Upward! Goals for 2015

sunset2015 is definitely starting off with a bang! Not only is it so cold that the boss has us working from home (the real feel was -24 when I woke up this morning…), but I’m enrolled in a couple graduate classes this quarter that are bound to keep me busy, and I’m doing a juice cleanse that has me craving – of all things – deli sandwiches, something I rarely eat anyway. Luckily, the cleanse ends tomorrow, but the other two will be sticking around for awhile.

What else do I have planned for 2015? Well, not much at this point, but I’ve put together some goals. I managed to tackled all of the items on the 2014 list, though the storage area is kind of a mess again and could use some TLC…

Lately I’ve been thinking about things I should cross off my bucket list before I turn 30 in 2016. I’ll try to keep the goals for 2015 and the holy-crap-I’m-almost-30 list separate, but some of these are probably a bit of both (and if you have suggestions for me, please send them along!).

1. Return to regularly scheduled programming. I was doing so well there for awhile, posting to Urban Nesting about four times a week, but lately I feel like my life has been so scattered, and I haven’t devoted the time to UN that I really should. I want to get back to contributing on a regular basis again. Let’s get to 200 followers! (We’re at 196 right now, for the record.)

2. Especially Foodie Fridays. Last year I blamed marathon training and I’m sure this year I’ll blame class (and maybe dating), but I’d really like to try a new recipe each week and share my findings with y’all on Fridays. Here’s to more culinary adventures in 2015! Nobody is going to make me a better cook but me.

3. Carve out an office space in my apartment. My coat closet is prime territory for this, but I’m not sure I can devote all that space to a desk. At the very least I’d like to set up some kind of landing strip to put mail and paperwork because last month’s gas bill may have gotten misplaced…

4. Transform my bedroom into a cozy retreat. I’ve definitely ignored my bedroom in lieu of rooms that are more public, but when it comes down to it, how many days a year am I entertaining versus home by myself? I should do something for me! The bedroom design is kind of all over the place right now, so it’ll definitely take some work. I’ll keep in mind Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams’ advice. (First project: Buy an alarm clock and move my phone away from the bed!)

5. Take a big trip. I know “travel more” was on the list last year, and I feel like I did do a few smaller trips that fulfilled that requirement (and we’re totally fun!). But I’m finally starting to feel like an adult with a real job and real PTO time and a (somewhat) real budget to take real vacations. It’s been awhile since I’ve been out of the country (minus Mexico). I think it’s time.

6. Ride my bike – or a bike – more often. Do you know how many times I rode my bike in 2014? Zero. I didn’t even get it out of the basement storage. If I’m too lazy to maintain it, I can get a Divvy bike sharing membership for something like $50/year. That’s just stupid cheap. I realize it’s not possible in the tundra, but I definitely want to keep this goal in mind for spring.

Sure, there’s some smaller things floating around in my head (have to get rid of those grubby kitchen rugs!), but these are the big picture items for 2015. What’s on your to-do list this year?

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Before and After: Bathroom Revamp

I decided to tackle one more project before year’s end: a revamp of the bathroom. I mentioned back in August that I woke up one day and decided I hated everything in there. Not sure where that came from, but I definitely think I’ve made some improvements.

Here’s what it looked like before:

IMG_1392Now, this is not a dramatic reveal – there’s still a lot I’d change, but you can only take a rental bathroom so far. (For instance, I am DYING to replace that mirror/light fixture, and I’d get rid of the checkered floor too.)

Here’s where I’ve landed for now:

DSC01981While I still need a few things (top of the list: a basket of some kind to put on top of the toliet), it already feels more spa-like, and I love that. The white shower curtain allows for more light to come through, and I bought these awesome new towels – Hotel Collection from Macy’s, if anyone is curious – that have made a huge difference.

But my absolute favorite part of the “new” bathroom is my gallery wall. I took a series of photographs in college in different barbershops around Bloomington, Ind., and I’ve always wanted to display them. I finally made it happen, and I couldn’t be happier! Plus, it meant I didn’t have to buy expensive artwork and could splurge on those towels I mentioned.

Maybe I’ll paint someday; there’s no doubt it could use it. I also attempted to recaulk part of the bathtub – turns out caulking is not my foray. I still have a lot to learn… I’ll save that for 2015!

Kitchen Revamp: A Work In Progress

A few weeks ago I gave y’all a sneak peek at the new kitchen paint job – however, prepare to be underwhelmed at the reveal. We painted a white kitchen… white. BUT, in person, it’s soooo much better! These pictures do not do it justice. There were nasty greasy hand prints from when the management company replaced my furnace and what looked like smoke stains behind the stove (thankfully, it’s been replaced since then!). And the paint itself was the same stuff that was used everywhere else in the apartment – chalky, cheap crap.

So here’s what it looked like before I moved in:

kitchenAnd here’s what it looked like after I gave it a bit of attention a few months ago:

DSC00584And here’s today:

kitchen_overviewI thought I was decluttering, but now it almost looks too sparse next to the previous pics. Well, it’s still a work in progress anyway. There is A LOT I’d like to do (those hideous beige outlets!), but of course there’s limits given that I’m a renter.

kitchen_window_commentThis kitchen is definitely lacking in the counter space category. That spot next to the fridge is pretty much it when I have my dish drying rack out on the little sliver of counter next to the sink. So one thing I bought to combat that is a magnetic knife rack – magnetic on both sides so it can hang on the fridge! While I can drill into my walls (as long as I fill the holes before I move out), a lot of renters can’t so is a great solution to eliminate the boxy knife block. Plus, it was less than $20!

kniferack_commentI so rarely use my microwave that I’ve considered getting rid of it, but I just can’t get myself to do it yet. (It’ll die one of these days – it’s a hand-me-down from a former roommate, so I can’t imagine it has much time left by this point.) But what would be ideal is if I could replace this makeshift microwave cart (really an iron outdoor table that I made a cushion for) with some kind of shelf that has a butcher block on top.  Bonus counter space!

YUMsign_commentThere’s plenty of that type of kitchen cart out there, but finding one that will 1. fit the microwave on the higher of the two shelves (so it can be plugged in when needed), 2. is wide enough to take up this wall space, and 3. still has a butcher-block top… not so easy to find. It maybe need to be a custom job (hint, hint, dad…). I’m thinking something like this (it has adjustable shelves) with a custom-cut butcher block top. That may be too cost prohibitive though, so I still need to do some research there.

vintage_apronsOther areas I tackled: cleaned out and wiped down the fridge; completely emptied the pantry and reorganized with the addition of storage tubs; went through the cabinets and donated items I no longer use; and re-hung my vintage aprons!

Before and After: Living Room

I didn’t want to show off the living room until it’s in a more complete state, but the people have spoken… and they want to see pictures ASAP. So here’s what it looked like before I moved in:

livingroomOrange. Woof.

My original plan was to paint the entire living room Whispering Spring (which is now in the dining room). But since it’s such a large room with a nice high ceiling, I decided to go with something more dramatic and on just one wall (well, a wall and the tiny sliver of wall that separates the two rooms).

I landed on Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore. (Again, for those of you interested, I used the Ben series with an Eggshell finish, and it was about $40/gallon in Chicago.)

Hale NavySo before last weekend, this is what the living room looked like:

IMG_0908And for a little while it looked like this…

But now we’re here!DSC00753I am in LOVE with the color! (The landlords probably aren’t as thrilled…) It only took two coats to cover the white. I am definitely on board with buying more expensive, higher quality paint—in this case, you get what you pay for.

DSC00755I like the pink rug with the charcoal couch (it reminds me of this), but it doesn’t really fit with my vision for the living/dining space. Plus, it really clashes with my red Coca-Cola cooler that looks so fab against the navy. So I’m thinking about going for something lighter since the wall, couch and TV console are all dark colors. Those of you with experience: Is having a white or cream shag or flokati rug a terrible idea?

DSC00754Other things on the wish list: curtains, colorful throw pillows, wall art, new tray for the coffee table (that oval shape is just not working for me—perhaps a DIY RIBBA one?).

DSC00757Stay tuned and you can help me decide what’s next for the space. Leave me a comment if you have suggestions!

Before and After: Dining Room

I’d just like to start this post off with a friendly reminder of what the dining room looked like before I moved in…

diningroomGah, the horror! Who on Earth thought that was a good idea?! Sorry, I should have warned you like they do before they show something disturbing on the news. Luckily, the management company painted it white—though it was a terrible, cheap, chalky white, which was definitely one of the reasons I was eager to change it.

I started gathering inspiration and tested a few sample colors and landed on Benjamin Moore’s Whispering Spring. (For those of you interested, I used the Ben series with an Eggshell finish, and it was about $40/gallon in Chicago.)

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 6.23.42 PMWell, actually, I thought I was putting Whispering Spring in the living room, but then I decided to paint the dining room too. (Living room reveal coming soon!) So before this weekend, my dining room looked like this:

IMG_1652Certainly an improvement over the Flubber green, but nothing great. And now…

DSC00741Ta-da! I love it! It’s subtle and fresh and a little bit preppy. I really like the way the walls match—but don’t match—the inside of the pendant light.

DSC00734I figured I might as well wipe down the blinds and polish the floors since the room was nearly empty, but damn, it’s amazing how long it takes to get a room put back together after painting when you factor in deep cleaning. Oh well, it desperately needed it, and in my mind, it adds to the delightful new color!

There’s still a ton to do, like hang artwork (no, that taped-up newspaper isn’t staying), re-stain the table (don’t even ask how that happened…) and buy curtains, but we’d need a lot longer than a three-day weekend to get all that accomplished. Stay tuned for more updates!

Dining Room Revamp: Part II

Man, I did not realize how much work would/could go into this dining room! I can’t find a picture of what it looked like when I first moved in, but I’ll keep looking (my iPhoto is in serious need of organizing… and backing up!). So we’ll start here for now:

IMG_1179You probably remember this picture from Revamp Part I when I snagged my awesome teak dining table and Eames replica chairs. I still haven’t had a dinner party yet, but it’s coming. A Friendsgiving perhaps. But that’s only if I can get some more things squared away in the space first. It’s a work in progress:

IMG_1584We (well, my dad) finally got around to hanging the vintage pendant lamp. I looooove it! I bought it about two years ago now for something like $20. I’d kicked around the idea of painting it but decided just to go with the antique gold and teal colors. It definitely brings a bit of Hollywood Regency or Moroccan glam to the room. Look at the cool design it casts on the ceiling when it’s lit up:

IMG_1675The rug is where I’m really struggling. It was a hand-me-down, so free is always good and I like the way it breaks up all the wood in the space, but I don’t really have anything else salmon colored in my entire apartment. Does it matter? The pendant is glam and the rug is tribal… is that OK? I’m still struggling with how to mix and match styles. My instinct is matchy-matchy, but I’m trying to fight it.

IMG_1588Maybe a new rug is on the wish list, maybe not. I change my mind about it every other day. But while I contemplate it, my next steps are to get the new artwork (it’s just leaning against the wall on top of the bar for now) framed, rearrange the gallery wall and complete the entryway vignette. I’m hoping to have all of that done by the end of this month, but framing is darn expensive so we’ll see…

Thoughts, ideas, criticism and Pinspiration are always welcome!