7th House on the Left

His + Her Favorite Things

posted by Greg & Ashley  /  13 Comments

It’s a beautiful spring day here in Hanover, Virginia. Seriously, with the copious amounts of snow we’ve gotten this year, we were pretty sure it was never going to happen. I was prepping for an ice age. With the new month comes a new edition of His & Her Favorite things…

His Favorite Things // 7thhouseontheleft.com

ONE // I’ve been using the same tool bag for the past 6 years, and while it’s great for toting my most commonly used tools around, I really need a place to put all of my constantly-growing set of more specialized tools. A real, honest-to-goodness toolbox is in my near future. TWO // Knowing I love toast (Yes, I promise my wife can actually cook.), Ash sent me over to this article. Who knew gourmet toast was a thing? Now, breakfast will never be the same. Who am I kidding? Lunch and dinner might not be the same, either. THREE // Ashley and I are both obsessed with Aloe Blacc’s new album (we “fought” over who got to put it on their Favorites list). Honestly, I’m not totally sure how to describe it accurately. It takes old-school instrumentation and mixes it with new-school production value for an amazing combination. Definitely worth a listen. FOUR // This isn’t exactly new news, but I love coffee. If you’re used to getting one of their over-sweetened delightfully sweet concoctions and have never had a plain latte, do yourself a favor: order a pastry (if you’re game for a treat) and a plain latte. It’s world-changing. I promise. I don’t always go to Starbucks, but when I do, I order a straight latte.

Her Favorite Things // 7thhouseontheleft.com

ONE // The new Oh Joy collection at Target makes me want to throw a party. I love all of the bright colors and touches of gold. Even though we aren’t planning any parties anytime soon, I’m thinking about stocking up on a few favorites just for future festivities.  TWO // Okay. Forget everything you think you know about skincare and buy this stuff. I don’t know what magical properties are in this bottle, but it has changed my life. Okay, maybe not my life, but it has changed my skin. No, I take that back. It is life changing. I’ve been using it every morning and night (paired with the Kiehl’s Midnight Recover Serum at night) for about two weeks and my skin is the best it’s ever been. THREE // I’ve always been a fan of Greek yogurt, and I normally stuck with Chobani. However, I kept seeing the Fage commercials with Bobby Flay. I figured he seems to be a food snob, so it has to be good, right? Well, Bobby Flay is my new BFF because this stuff is freaking amazing. Greg loves the honey version and I’m a big fan of the raspberry. I’m looking forward to trying the plain Fage for cooking. FOUR // I’ve always been a fan of clean, fresh perfumes. I’ve been wearing Clinique Happy since I was about 15. I still love it, but on a whim, I wanted to try something different, I got my hands on a deluxe sample of Tory Burch. I love everything Tory Burch, but I still didn’t get my hopes up because I love my Happy so much. You guys–this stuff is amazing. It’s a really nice citrusy, fresh, clean and floral scent and I love it. This one is here to stay for sure. FIVE // Greg bought this for me one night while he was on an errand run to Target. Yeah, he totally knows my gold-loving self. It’s the perfect size for a few deck of cards and our score-keeping notebook. It’s definitely one of my new favorite storage pieces.

So that wraps up this month’s edition of His + Hers. What are you guys digging this month?

I always try to keep negative thoughts off the blog –  goodness knows there’s enough negativity to go around for all of us on the World Wide Web. But truth is, this girl is irritated.

On the hunt for curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Rant #1 // For me, curtains are one of the hardest – if not the hardest – decor items to shop for. I’m normally pretty good at visualizing what something might look like in place and seeing potential, but when it comes to curtains, I just can’t wrap my head around them. I recently started using the mindset of “they’re just like wall art”. That thinking has helped a little bit, but we’re still working on it. Reason #326 I’d be a horrible professional interior designer.

Rant #2 // In my despair, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. When you type “modern rustic dining room” in the search box, you get huge lofty rooms with two-story windows that need no curtains – because the room is just that awesome on it’s own, and the house sits on a secluded 75-acre wooded lot. Obviously, Pinterest has been of little help. It just gives you a false since of hope for the average brick ranch.

Rant #3 // The more trouble I have finding curtains for any room in the house, the more I become obsessed with the dining room curtains. I guess these are so important in my head because the dining room area is open to the main living area and the kitchen. The kitchen is done, but the living room hasn’t been touched (though we’re planning on buying a dark gray sectional in the nearish future). Basically, these curtains have the potential to set the “stage” for not only the dining room, but the the living room, as well – and maybe even the rest of the house! Okay, simmer down there Ashley. A little dramatic.

After searching high and low for curtains for the dinning room, I finally (finally!) found some I liked and thought would look nice with the new table and light fixture while offering up a touch of color…

West Elm Curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

These beauties hail from West Elm. I really loved the modern Ikat design and especially the fact they were navy (I’m always a sucker for navy blue). I was excited when I noticed they went on sale and made plans to pull the trigger and snatch them up. A few days later, I clicked over to the website to look at them again, make sure I still loved them, to get Greg’s opinion, etc and… they were sold out. I emailed West Elm to see if they were planning on bringing them back anytime soon (once in a blue moon that happens). I haven’t heard back from them yet, but my guess is that they’re gone for good. I also checked Ebay (because you never know!) and found them in the 84″ version, but no 96″. Boo. Update: Last night, they magically reappeared online. Without even questioning myself, I put 4 panels in my cart and purchased them. About 30 minutes later, I got an email saying my order had been canceled because they are out of stock. Why, oh why, West Elm must you play with my emotions like that?

So now that those beloved curtains are no longer an option, I’m trying to turn lemons into lemonade and find something even better. Well, let me tell you, these lemons aren’t making good lemonade. I’ve searched every single store I can think of. You name the store and I’ve probably been to their website in the last 72 hours.

Anthroplogie Curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I found these from Anthroplogie and fell in love with them at first click. They’re a really different from the first ones, and they’re actually not something I’d normally pick out. I really adore the embroidery detail (there’s a detail shot here) and the heavy weight of the fabric. They’re modern and fresh, and they look and feel like high-quality curtains. All that awesomeness comes at a price, though: $1,060.51 for two windows. While I’m totally down for a good splurge here and there, I just don’t think curtains for two windows justify a $1k+ price tag. So, sadly, I’m moving on.

Nate Berkus for Target Curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

My other thought is to go with something in the dark gray family (maybe these). I know, I know. Gray. Again. Just hear me out. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re planning on purchasing a super simple dark gray sectional (in the nearish future) and then piling it up with loads of colorful and fun pillows. So, what if… we paint the walls a lighter color so there’s a bit more contrast (the walls are a tad darker in person than they appear in photos), hang dark gray curtains (to tie in with the sectional) and make sure we add color to the dining area with art work and a table centerpiece? Or have I completely lost my gray-loving mind? I didn’t really intend for this to be a “brain dump” post, but I think that’s what it just turned into.

To Sew or Not to Sew // 7thhouseontheleft.com

For my last and final thought, I could always make my own curtains. I’m not a sewing guru by any stretch of the imagination (truth be told, Greg is better at sewing than I – oh, he’ll love me for declaring that to the internet), but curtains look pretty easy. I’m going to be checking out the local fabric stores and Spoonflower to see if I find the answer there. We shall see.

So, I’m now turning to you… what are your go-to stops for curtains? Any pro interior designers out there with some tips or suggestions? I’m all ears!

Let There Be Light

posted by Greg  /  21 Comments

Do you know what’s awesome about having a father-in-law that lives right across the street and is an electrical expert? He can come over and help you hang your new dining room light fixture on a Wednesday night. I would say that I don’t know what I’d do without his help in this sort of situation, but I know exactly what I’d do: end up with several holes in the ceilings, electrical burns and maybe some bumps and bruises to boot. All joking aside, this process wasn’t really rocket science, but it was extremely helpful to have his know-how to guide me through it – and his muscle power was completely necessary for this beast of a fixture.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

We went with the Eldridge Rectangular Chandelier from Ballard Design. This light fixture isn’t technically “new”; Ash’s parents gifted it to us the Christmas before last – as in Christmas 2012. It has been sitting in a box in the corner of the dining room, waiting patiently until we had a new table. Even though Ash hasn’t decided on chairs, we wanted to go ahead and hang the light so we can get this ball rolling a bit more quickly toward to the finish line.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The issue with hanging this light fixture – and why we had to enlist my father-in-law’s help – is because the previous light fixture in this room (which we just replaced with a plain light bulb when we removed the 1970′s ceiling fan), was about two feet and a few inches over from the center of the dining room table. That meant it was going to take a bit more than screwing a new bracket onto the box and hanging the new fixture.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

To start out, we first had to decide where exactly to hang the light. We used a combination of a laser level and a tape measure for the majority of this process. (Step 1) The first thing we did was measure the distance from the wall to the middle of the table. (Step 2) At that point, we moved the table out of the way and measured halfway between the two windows. (Step 3) Then, we used the laser level to make a mark on the ceiling that was perfectly centered between the windows, then placed the laser level on the ceiling to make a mark in the middle of the room. (Step 4) Next, we made marks on either side of the ceiling exactly the distance we measured in step one. (Step 5) Finally, we shot the laser level across the room, lining up the two marks made in step 4, across the mark made in step 3, and made a faint line with a pencil on the ceiling to guide our placement of the new bracket.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

After the measuring was done, we used a 2 inch hole saw to make a hole where the wires would come through the ceiling (the rod in the above photo is the vacuum attachment to catch some of the dust). Since (with this particular fixture) we were making the junction inside the new bracket, we didn’t use an actual box. In retrospect, I’m not sure if that was the proper way to do things, but it worked really well for us. If you’re hanging a light fixture without a bracket, this is where you would install a junction box. Here is a great tutorial on how to do that.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once we found the studs, we realized the bracket’s pre-drilled holes weren’t going to line up exactly on one side. That being the case, we drilled two new holes using a titanium drill bit. Titanium drill bits are high-speed steel drill bits (sometimes called HSS bits) that have a titanium oxide coating and are great for drilling through metal.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Rather than using the provided mounting screws, we decided to use some heavy-duty 3-inch screws that would really hold tight to the ceiling joist. Seriously, we could probably hang an engine block from this bracket.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The fact that the old fixture was so close to the new one really helped us out with this next step. We were able to take down the old box and push the same wires over to our new hole. Of course, this left a nice, round hole in the ceiling where the old light was. I laid a plastic shopping bag inside the hole to keep the blown-in insulation from falling through it. We just hung this light fixture last night and haven’t gotten around to patching it up just yet but I’ll explain how in a later post next week for anyone curious.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Here’s when it started getting dark outside so the photos look a bit wonky – but Ash is calling the above photo of me “artsy”. After putting the fixture together, all that was left was the usual wiring and screwing the fixture onto the bracket. I’d say this was the easy part, but this fixture is heavy. I ended up standing on the floor with the fixture resting on my chest/shoulders while Kevin put the screws in and Ash held a flashlight so we could see what we were doing. Once it was up, we actually had a hard time getting a couple of the screws in all the way, so we placed the card catalog and the packing material from the light fixture underneath for safety while we backed the screws out and put them back in.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once the heavy lifting was done, we cleaned the glass and screwed in the light bulbs. Considering how much of an undertaking I expected this to be, I don’t think things could have gone better – mainly due to the help of Ash’s dad. We read some reviews of this particular light fixture (after we bought it out of curiosity) and some people mentioned that it look 3 people to hang it. Well, they were not wrong. So, if you’re planning on hanging this light fixture, or one similar, make sure you have some extra help.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Aside from my love of cup pull handles, I’m not much of a “decorating enthusiast” (I leave that to Ash), but I really like the clean lines and how it doesn’t take up too much “visual space” but still makes a statement. The vintage-looking bulbs really help “make” the fixture.

Great Vintage-Looking Light Bulbs with "Candle Light" Type of Glow // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Speaking of the bulbs… We purchased these from Restoration Hardware the same time we ordered the table. The bulbs are 60 watts, which means this fixture puts out a pretty decent amount of light. They’re very much on the “warm” side, which means the light they cast is pretty yellow (Ash mentioned it was a lot like a “candle light glow”). It’s a great, vintage look, but it’s definitely a mismatch for the rest of the lighting in our house (most of our bulbs are halogen or LED). We’re going to keep our eyes out for a vintage style bulb that matches our existing lighting a little better, but in the mean time, we’re happy with these.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Ash and I both love the new light fixture. When we first got it out of the box, we’re a little concerned it wasn’t big enough for the table (which is 112″ long). Now that is up, we think it’s the perfect size and will look even better once we hang curtains. The addition of art, etc it will also balance everything out accordingly. In the meantime, we now have a proper light fixture and this place is looking a little more like a real dining room. Now, if Ash would just decide on chairs…