7th House on the Left

Long Time, No Type…

posted by Ashley  /  45 Comments

First off, sorry for the delay in getting this post to the Instagram/Facebook followers. I promised an update post a few weeks ago whilst Greg was making some background site changes. (In other words, geeky code changes that I kind of don’t understand.) Long story short, the changes took longer than expected and ultimately delayed the post going live. But, here we are!

I’ve sat down to write this long-overdue update post at least 23 times, but every time I got past the first sentence, I just didn’t know where to start. I guess I’ll just start by saying Greg and I are both very happy and healthy. Oh, and Bentley too. He’s good and as cute as ever – if I do say so myself.

We didn’t plan on taking a blog break or even really had a desire to at first. We didn’t have a case of the infamous “blogger burnout” and decide to step back for a bit. When it came down to it, it was more of a matter of our priorities shifting. Since our last post a few months ago, so many things are the same, yet so many things have changed.

When Pigs Fly / 7thhouseontheleft.com

As for what is the same… Like I said before, we’re happy, we’re healthy, and we’re still living in the same city, in the same house. We are absolutely still happily married. (We actually had emails asking about our marital status!) Greg is still a geeky web developer who has an odd love for furniture with cup pulls. I’m still a working graphic designer with a notebook obsession. The master bathroom still needs to be finished and my office is still in a state of flux. I still can’t sew to save my life, and Greg still leaves a trail of guitar picks wherever he goes.

As far as the change… I’ve managed to keep a non-succulent plant alive for more than four weeks. (I mean, really, folks. That’s major.) There are 10 chairs around our dining room table (we finally made a decision!) and there are curtains hanging on more than one window in the house. Greg now has a manly hipster beard (he’s just 3 months shy of his “yeard”) and he spends a lot more time reading. I suddenly like cherry tomatoes and I’m taking on more graphic design clients. We’ve also both completely given up diet sodas. (If you know us, you know our love for Diet Dr. Pepper was real.)

The most drastic change (other than the plant I mentioned above being alive) is that Greg is now the worship pastor at our church. About three years ago, our dear friends planted a church here in Richmond. We’ve been involved from the beginning in one capacity or another, but started regularly attending last January. Greg pretty much immediately started playing in the band, and I started singing regularly later in the year. Long story short, in November of last year, he became the worship pastor/elder. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a “professional geek” anymore, but it does mean that he and I have a “family” of about 15 musicians and singers that we do our best to lead on a weekly basis. On top of that, I also fulfill some of the church’s graphic design and social media needs, Greg works with the lead teaching pastor to guide the church from a spiritual and logistical perspective and starting soon, we’ll be leading a weekly small group together.

And, guess what? We couldn’t be happier. We know this is where God has placed us and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be serving and doing life with the people in our local church. In light of these new responsibilities, our priorities have shifted from our own house and the blog to a community of awesome people. We can’t really apologize for that, but as they say, hind sight is always 20/20. We would have loved to have said, “Hey guys, we’re going to take a break from the blog for a while…”, but the “blog break” wasn’t planned. Our priorities simply gradually shifted – for the better.

So, what now? We are still planning to post house updates from time to time. (Pretty sure the next post will be about the dining room chairs!) We can’t guarantee weekly updates at this point because, honestly, we just don’t have the time to do projects, shoot/edit photos, and create 3 posts a week like we used to. However, we do want to keep you up to date. That might mean posts are shorter or spaced farther apart, but we’re looking forward to getting back in touch with all of you. If you want to be notified when we post a post via email, just type your email address in the “Subscribe” bar over in the sidebar to the right. It isn’t a newsletter or anything like that, it just notifies you when there’s a new post!

Instagram is where I hang out these days and where I’ve managed to keep in touch with the rest of the online world. (Boy, do I have some serious blog-reading to catch up on!) If you’re on Instagram, you can find me over at @AshleyBrown. I share personal/design work/organizing fun/church/Bentley/Greg updates pretty often. So, if you want to hang and see what we’re up to a little more on the regular, that’s where you’ll find me.

We so appreciate all of the virtual love that has come our way the past few months! Thank you all for sticking in there with us and being patient with us during this time of transition. We’re glad to be “back” in some sense of the word – we’ve missed you guys!

A while back, I posted about organizing our linen closet (see that post here). Since then, one of the most random, yet frequently asked, questions I get is, “How do you get your fitted sheets to look so neat and tidy?” I always try to explain it as simply as possible or reference the “Martha method”, but I still feel like it might be a little too confusing.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet (the easy way) / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I don’t know anyone who loves folding fitted sheets. If you do, you deserve a gold star sticker. But yesterday, I finally came across a super simple and short video that perfectly went through the same steps I go through to fold the oh-so-dreaded fitted sheets and – oddly enough – it makes folding fitted sheets… dare I say it… fun.

I got a little nerdy and watched the video about 5 times just because I thought the music, videography and styling was so perfect. Well done, West Elm. You just gave me yet another reason to love you more than Kanye loves Kanye.

I know we’ve been MIA for a while and I’ll hopefully be posting a long yet oh-so-informative post about what we’ve been up to soon. We’ve been getting a lot of questions/emails/comments/speculations about our absence. So, just so you guys know, everyone is wonderful, healthy and all is well in casa de Brown. But, as I said, more on that later. Today, I’m going to just jump right into it…

A project Greg and I have been tackling off and on over the past two weeks is the multi-purpose room at our church building. This isn’t typically the sort of project we’d post about, but since this is something we’ve been up to and it has to do with renovating/decorating, we thought it would be fun to share the progress with you guys as we went.

Church Renovation / Sanctuary Before + After / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I mentioned a while back in this post how we were taking a week off to help prep the newly acquired building in time for our first service. The above photo is a side-by-side of what the sanctuary looked like when we got the keys and what it looked like on our first Sunday. Since we had so much other ground to cover in such a short period of time (we’re talking completely renovating, repairing, painting and decorating an entire building in 5 weeks), the multi-purpose room was put on the back burner until recently. To start off, here’s a little glimpse of what the room looked like when our pastor was handed the keys to the building…

Church Renovation / Multi-Purpose Room Renovation / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Yeah. The first thought that came to mind when I saw this was, “Hmm, interesting…”. The photos really don’t do it justice. There were multiple flooring materials, missing/sagging ceiling tiles and lots – and lots – of spray paint… err… “art”. To give you a better understanding of how the room is laid out, here’s the floor plan…

Church Renovation / Multi-Purpose Room Renovation / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Over the course of the renovation process, the guys in our church did an incredibly amazing job of totally transforming the space (and the rest of the building for that matter). In just a few short weeks, it went from dark, sad and slightly scary to open, clean, bright and usable…

Church Renovation / Multi-Purpose Room Renovation / 7thhouseontheleft.com

SO. MUCH. BETTER. I wish I had taken the time to take better before photos, but these are just some quick iPhone photos. For starters, the room was pretty much gutted. I believe everything except for the windows were replaced. After the needed repairs were completed, the room got multiple layers of Kilz to cover up the “art work” left by the previous owners, a coat of fresh paint (Woodsmoke by Valspar) and the flooring was replaced with neutral carpet tiles. Probably the biggest and most drastic change was the removal of the drop ceiling. A local company actually came in, donated their time/materials, and drywalled a new vaulted ceiling for us. We also had recessed lighting installed – which made this girl super excited. Seriously, we have the best team of people ever.

The function of this room needs to be four-fold: LifeGroups (weekly small group Bible studies), leadership meetings, a general “hangout” space and a place to store small items such as extra t-shirts, visitor cards, etc. Trying to fit all of these purposes into one room, the first thing we had to do was come up with a layout. After quite a few configurations, here’s the final layout I came up with…

Church Renovation / Multi-Purpose Room Renovation / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I actually struggled a lot with the furniture layout. I basically just played around with it in Illustrator until something popped. When I finally stumbled on this configuration, I thought, “Why didn’t I think of this in the first place?! Duh!” The idea is to have a designated seating/lounge area as well as a meeting table area. That way, it can accommodate pretty much any form of meeting, small group, lunch or workshop. With this design, the room could seat up to 24 people and still have plenty of room to bring in more chairs if needed.

As for decorating (now we’re getting to the fun part, right?!), we want a relaxed modern space with a splash of the rustic/industrial vibe. It was also important to keep it relatively inexpensive but still good quality so we’re not replacing the furniture in 6 months. Taking all those things into consideration, here’s the plan we came up with…

Church Renovation / Multi-Purpose Room Mood Board / 7thhouseontheleft.com

01 // I’m normally not a fan of accent walls, but in this case, the room really needs something to ground the space. I really, really – one more – really wanted to plank the whole wall (the one with the door that leads to the outside) with the same wood we used on the stage in the sanctuary. That was the plan until we realized the wall was actually a layer of drywall directly over cinderblock. Whomp whomp. Technically, it could be done, but with it being such a large wall, the cost for anchors and masonry screws would be outrageous; not to mention that it would be really difficult to do. So, the backup plan is to paint the wall navy – Basin Blue by Valspar to be exact. By the way, that color is my favorite go-to navy blue wall color.

02 // I’m just crazy about this wall art from CB2. It’s basically modern wooden row houses that you can form into your own shape. Buuuut – don’t you hate but’s? – since making this mood board, CB2 has stopped carrying it. I was so bummed! The idea was to get three sets and configure our own large piece of wall art to go on the blank wall over the sofa. The wood tones would have looked awesome against the navy accent wall! I’m now on a mission to find something just as cool or even better. If you guys have any ideas, share! The only thing is that it needs to be pretty large in size.

03 // Two of these beauties were delivered last week and we couldn’t be more happy with them. Before placing the order, I actually hadn’t seen it in person – which made me a bit nervous since we were ordering two and paying extra to have them delivered. However, I had a “gut feeling” they would work out and prayed they would. And, oh my goodness…. They. are. perfect. I was honestly shocked at the quality for the price (only $799!) and couldn’t get over how great they fit in the room. They’re also a bit larger looking in person – which is great for this project. The bonded leather is super durable and should stand up to lots of wear and tear. I just really can’t say enough good things about this sofa.

04 // We’re going to ditch the matchy-matchy leather pillows that came with the sofa and add our own for a pop of color. If this were going in our house, I’d totally load the sofas up with lots of graphic, fun pillows. However, since this is going to be a room for a lot of people going in and out, I’m going to keep it simple with just an extra two or three pillows. Otherwise, they’d just get in the way. Well, that, and every time I go in there, I’d be wanting to straighten the pillows. Haha!

05 // If you’ve been reading here for long, you know I’ve been a fan of this chair since the day Ikea previewed it. I dedicated an entire post to it and have used it on multiple mood boards since then (this one being my favorite). The fabric color (which is our church’s “color”) and price were just too good to pass up for this project. I also love how it juxtaposes with the style of the Chesterfield sofa. As far as style goes, it’s a huge bang for your buck.

06 // We’re concocting a plan for a large DIY industrial rustic coffee table. We’ll be back to share more about that later, but we can tell you that the top will be stained Special Walnut by Minwax – our all-time favorite stain color. That color is so perfect – I can’t even tell you.

07 // For extra seating around the coffee table, we’ll be bringing in two poufs. Right now, I’m really digging these from World Market. They are made with indoor/outdoor fabric, so I would hope they’ll be pretty durable. On the other hand, coming in at 14″ high, they might be a tad short for an adult to comfortably sit on. So, the jury is still out on these.

08 // I want to bring in some realistic faux greenery. “Greenery” is such an ugly word – but I’m taking about succulents and a fiddle leaf. We purchased this faux fiddle leaf fig tree (such a great price, right?!) and I’m currently keeping my eyes out for some good-looking faux succulents for the coffee table.

09 // I searched high and low for an affordable version of these oh-so-popular chairs. The problem I was running into was that the affordable ones were too short (they’d slide under the edge of the table) or they had horrible reviews (stories of them coming apart, scratching, etc). I finally found a “just right” size at an affordable price at Restoration Hardware (here). And, get this: they were cheaper than the smaller version on Overstock. Go figure! They were originally $140 a piece, but we were able to snag them for $99 a piece. Sure, it was a good chunk of the budget, but good chairs aren’t cheap. Thankfully, these are great quality and will probably last forever.

10 // This table is the inspiration piece for the DIY table we (“we” as in a group of crazy handy guys in our church) are going to build. It’s not exactly what we’ll end up with, but it will be the same pipe base and wood top combo with a similar wood tone.

11 // I’ve always been a sucker for chalkboard walls, and over near the meeting table will be the perfect place for one. I’m so super pumped about this – probably a little too much.

The room is currently “in progress” and I’m SO anxious to get it done and see everything put together the way I see it in my head. We’re actually waiting for the last of the furniture to be delivered, but I’ll be sure to pop in again SOON to give you guys another update.

A quick side note before I let you go… A super special thank you to all of you guys who have stuck around with us during this “transition period”. We’re so happy and blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive blog family.