7th House on the Left

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.

Making a List

posted by Ashley  /  38 Comments

…and checking it twice. Fact: There are 121 days left until Christmas! Can you believe that?! That means you’ve let over half of the year slip by without planning for the longest (and largest) holiday season of the year. Okay, so maybe the situation isn’t quite as dire as I make it sound, but, as crazy as it may seam, it’s not too early to start marking things off your “Christmas to-do list”! I’ve been in a major list-making mode this past week and (as crazy and obsessive as it may sound) ventured to make a list of some things I want to get done over the next month to gear up for Christmas. Seeing as how I’m pretty positive there are some fellow serious list-makers out there, I thought it’d be fun to share my list of to-do’s to make our Christmas season a little more jolly…

10 Little Things to Do Now to Have a Jollier Christmas / 7thhouseontheleft.com

01 / Start shopping. Spacing out Christmas shopping over the next few months will be much easier on your wallet than buying everything between Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Buying even just 2 or 3 gifts every month will keep budgeting easy and cut down on the usual hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season. Every time you buy a gift, put them in a designated area (I keep ours in the guest room closet). If you tend to have a bad memory (like I sometimes do) stick a post-it on the item to remind yourself who it’s for.

02 / Wrap it up. Go ahead and wrap any presents you buy. Leave the bows off and add them when it’s time to put the gifts under the tree so they’ll look crisp and freshly wrapped. You can find Christmas wrapping paper around this time of year online – at some really great prices too. Pre-wrapping your presents will save you a ton of time as long as you’re diligent about labeling them as to who they go to and what they are. Otherwise, your presents might be as much a surprise to you as your friends and family.

03Start preparing the house now. We’re not talking about cleaning, necessarily; just minor repairs and enhancements. Focus on the rooms your guests will spend the most time in, like the guest bedroom(s), the living room and the kitchen. If you have dents, nicks, or scratches to fix, or even minor enhancements you’d like to make to these rooms, now is the time to get them done. Slowly but surely, you can get everything looking picture perfect before they arrive.

04Be the first to make travel arrangements. Ticket prices aren’t the only reason to make your plans for travel now rather than four months from now. As the holidays approach, you’re going to find it harder and harder to make plans that fit into everyone’s schedules. By scheduling now, you’re sure to be the first person on anybody’s calendar.

05Make your list. While I’m not typically a big fan of “Christmas lists”, sometimes it’s nice to be able to point to a place where your significant other can check out reasonably and a few not-so-reasonably-priced items (just for fun) on my Christmas wish list. We found MyRegistry.com when we were moving into our house. We had a lot of family members ask us what we wanted/needed for the house. It’s always kind of awkward — you know what I mean? My mom asked us to make a “wish list” and after a little Google search, we found MyRegistry.com. And I have to say, it’s a pretty cool website. You can add items from any website and make notes about color, quantity, size, etc. or even where you plan on using it in the house. One major perk about MyRegistry.com is you can put a password on your list so you can share it with family members and close friends only. Greg and I have ended up making our own individual lists for each other to work off of – since I have dubbed him the “hardest person in the world to shop for”. It makes shopping a little easier and fun too.

06What’s Aunt Martha’s new address? This shouldn’t take too much time, but when the Christmas season hits, your time becomes even more valuable. Take a few minutes to make up a Christmas card list and talk to the people on that list to make sure you have their current address. If you’re a bit embarrassed to call your long-lost relatives and tell them you have no idea where they are now or how they got there, just call mom. She’s a mom and she’s bound to have the down low on where and why. Btw, I don’t have an Aunt Martha.

07Get the party started. On top of presents and travel, you need to think about Christmas parties! Let’s face it: Parties are expensive. By planning out your Christmas party now (or parties, if you’re a real party animal), you can be on the look out for things that will complete your party theme. Like I said before, you can make budgeting your Christmas season much easier by spreading out the cost of your party over the next 5-6 months. Like the Christmas presents, keep all of your party supplies in a designated area so you don’t loose track of them between now and then.

08 / Pick a family, any family. Along the same lines as travel, you might want to go ahead and start discussing with your significant other whose family you’re going to spend Christmas with. That way, when your family starts asking who you’re going to spend Christmas with, you’ll have an answer and explanation ready to go.

09 / Prepare to deck the halls! Take a little time to do an inventory of your decorations. The sooner you know what you have, the sooner you can start designing your tree and general decor. That way, when you see a cool decoration or ornament, you can grab it up, knowing it’s going to go great with your overall style. Also, while you’ve got a few of the Christmas boxes down from the attic, take a few minutes to make sure the lights work. There’s nothing worse than getting your whole tree or worse, your whole house, covered in lights, then realizing half of them don’t work. #beentheredonethat

10 / Create a savings plan. As a final tip, try your best to set aside a few dollars every paycheck as a Christmas fund. Vacations, presents, and parties, no matter how well you plan them, can still end up costing more than you’d expect. If you’ve set a few bucks aside, you’ll have less to worry about in the long run and have a credit-free Christmas.

Do you have any helpful tip to add to the list? Share it with us in the comment section…

Happy Thursday, folks! I just wanted to pop in and point you guys over to my new contributor post over at iHeart Organizing. If for some reason you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t stumbled across Jen’s blog before now, get ready because you’re about to spend countless hours scrolling through her awesome handiwork. You have been warned.

How to Feel A Little More Unplugged Without Pulling the Plug / 7thhouseontheleft.com

For this post, I ended up giving a scaled back version of my 2 cents on cell phone usage. (Seriously, my first draft was twice as long!) I also chatted about tips to simplify your phone and my top three most valuable apps that keep me organized and productive. I’ve been through a lot of “productivity apps”, and these are (in my opinion) the cream of the crop and definitely worth taking for a spin. Totally off the subject, but I just noticed the Old Navy coupon in the photo above is super expired. Boo. 

So, click here to go over to Jen’s blog and check out the post and be sure to weigh in on your favorite go-to apps and phone organizing tips!