In August, I wrote a Home Update featuring my upcycling furniture projects after we accumulated a great deal of furniture from Freecycle and from friends and family. In December, I wrote a Home Tour: Christmas Edition featuring all of our Christmas decor. I've wanted to post a home tour since we moved in, but I wanted to wait until our house felt more like a home and certainly until after I got my crate from the US with the rest of my belongings in November. With all of the Christmas decor put away (duh because it's the middle of April) and a few more recent additions, I feel like it's finally time to show some of the little touches around our house that we love.
A few years ago, I started collecting items that I would have in my home one day, even though I was living in my mom's basement and did up until the day I moved to England. If I saw something at Target, I'd buy it. So I had a copper colander stored away under the stairs for "someday". I sold some things at my garage sale before I moved, but I packed away my favourite things to be shipped over, including that colander. I brought a surprising amount with me from the States and of course Luke has collected his fair share of things over the years as well. Even though I have a bit more interest in home decor, we've tried to be really intentional about building a home together that we both love, which sometimes means not buying something one of us really likes if the other one hates it. So far, we're both pretty happy with the result.
Today, you're invited on Part I of our Home Tour, which will just cover the downstairs. You'll have to come back 'round for Part II in the future. But for now, grab a cup of tea and follow me!
THE FRONT ENTRANCE
This is one of my favourite things in our house. We have an incredibly narrow hallway when you first walk in and we haven't done much with it, nor will we. But we did put up a gallery wall with photos from all the countries we've been to together as a couple. I had my Instagram photos printed online as 5x5 prints and we got the frames from IKEA. When we (recently) added France, we took them all down to create two rows instead of one and put them up with nails instead of sticky pads. (Renters' life.) To fill the space where the next three will be, I made a graphic in Canva to fill the space on the wall and remind us we need to get to travellin'! (So far we only have one new country tentatively planned.) From the top right corner, we have:
- United States, represented with a photo from a picnic we had in Grand Lake, Colorado in September 2016
- England, represented with a photo from the Cotswolds in August 2017
- Denmark, represented with a photo of Nyhavn from Copenhagen in February 2017
- Sweden, represented with a photo of a storefront in Malmo in February 2017
- Germany, represented with a photo of the Berliner Dom in Berlin in June 2017
- Scotland, represented with a photo of Ashton Lane in Glasgow in June 2017
- Wales, represented with a photo of Conwy Castle near Snowdonia in September 2017
- Ireland, represented with a photo from a nature walk we took in October 2017
- France, represented with a photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in February 2018
THE FRONT ROOM
Also known as our dining room. We've got a clothing rack that we use as a coat rack right inside the door that we use to keep our shoes and coats that are on current rotation. We found the rack on Amazon. At first we thought we would need it for extra clothing storage in our room, but we actually have a closet upstairs, so it serves us quite well right here.
In the corner, we have a stylised book shelf with a lot of the aforementioned home goods I had purchased (from Target, like the globe) and our illustrated Harry Potter books and A Song of Ice and Fire books. Only the best, right? We also keep Luke's great grandfather's handcrafted wood planer here, which is so cool compared to what planers look like now. We got the shelf from IKEA, of course, and I've moved things around on it a number of times. This may also be a good time to point out that we currently have a lot of cacti and succulents around the house in various pink and grey pots. They'll be used as part of our wedding decor, hence the abnormally high quantity.
On the other side of the sealed off fireplace, we have a metal shelving unit that I absolutely love. It's from IKEA--duh--and it was super cheap and so easy to put together. We got it to store all our games because between the two of us (but mostly Luke), we have a lot of games!
Under the bay window, we have the sideboard that Luke build before Thanksgiving. We found the boards literally on the street and he sanded them down, cut them to the same length, and connected them with a pieces of wood underneath. We went to a local hardware store to figure out what to do for the legs since we had a few ideas, like two wooden a-frames or bricks, which we obviously ended up doing. Luke put it all together and spaced the bricks out this way, which I think looks really cool. After Christmas, we decided to put the lights from our tree around the base to add a little twinkle in the room.
In the other corner, we have a weird built in shelf that's covering some meters. Sometime it's a catch all of things we just want to drop when we walk in the door. Sometimes it has actual decor on it. It made for a great spot for our nativity set over Christmas though. Currently, it's our little desert.
Last, but not least, we have the dining room table. We got both the table and chairs from Freecycle and they're in surprisingly good condition! We needed to use a bit of white spirits to get some paint splatter off the chairs, but it worked and for being free, we're pretty happy with it. We don't eat in here as often as we should (because it's usually freezing), but maybe as it continues to warm up a bit, we will. This pitcher, which belonged to my step-mother's grandmother, miraculously made it in the crate. Thank goodness because it's one of my most cherished possessions. Also, Monty Python. Need I say more? (By the way, I brought that poster into our married home, not Luke.)
THE SITTING ROOM
We basically spend 90% of our time at home here, whether we're playing a game or watching TV. Often both! We're already on our second couch, this one coming from our friends who were moving to a place that already had a couch that better fit their space. We got the throw pillows at IKEA and chose grey when we had a cream coloured leather couch, but recently switched out the grey for mustard yellow since they blended into the couch. I love that we can always go get different covers or textures at IKEA if we ever change our minds. By the way, our coasters are my Instagram photos of mostly Colorado, but there's also one from Park City, Utah in there and I love them.
We still have the matching bench from the aforementioned cream coloured leather couch under the scratch off map of the world we use to track where we've gone together. I've made it a bit more comfy--or at least appear a bit more comfy--with a sheepskin rug from IKEA and a pile of throw blankets from Target and TK Maxx. (Yes, TK Maxx, not TJ Maxx. It's the same, but different for some reason.) I also put the tray from Target to give anyone sitting there an option to put their drink down instead of using the record player table on the other side. And I finished it off with a throw pillow from Cath Kidston, which is my favourite.
Next to the floor lamp (that we found literally on the street and added a new IKEA shade to), we have our record player table. Luke's sister Emily gave us the table and it was my first painting project. Luke built a crate from an old palette for us to keep our records, but we have the whole of Anberlin's discography on vinyl that we keep in its box instead of in the crate. I gave Luke the Crosley record player for Christmas 2016 and I think we both wish I had chosen a different colour, but I do love this little corner of the room.
Our fireplace and mantle is one of my favourite parts of the whole house. When we first looked for houses on my April trip last year, we saw one that I fell in love with and couldn't get out of my head. One of my favourite things about the house was the fire place in the sitting room and I dreamed of filling it with white pillar candles. Needless to say, we didn't get that house--and I'm glad--but I transferred the idea to the house we do have. We burned the candles quite regularly in the autumn and have now replaced all the candles but one (in the back right corner) once, or even twice. I love that it's filled with wax now, but it's sure to be a pain to get up with all the nooks and cracks under there. The mantle has taken a few iterations over the past few months. I usually change it out with seasonal decor and regularly move around plants and flowers. It's become the main spot for our felt letter board, which I try to change regularly as well.
We completely lucked out with our TV, even though there's no remote, which Luke acquired when one of his roommate's moved out. I turned Luke's old bedside table into our TV stand and it does the job for now. On the wall, we have photos from the two photo shoots we've done with Brianne Haagenson. She'll shoot our wedding this spring and we can't wait to get a huge print from the wedding!
This little chest of drawers that came over from the States. I've been meaning to paint it for months since the tape used to keep the drawers from sliding out during shipping pulled so much paint off, but we're also kind of digging the distressed look. Next to it, we have a magnetic cord hanging with some pictures and cards. I got it in my Christmas stocking a few years ago and I love it! We use a crate I ordered to keep our records (but it was too small) to store our smaller games on the side of the couch. Again, we both love games, so we keep quite a few handy in the living room, like Hanabi, Qwirkle, Guillotine. Yeah I know, what language am I speaking? Look them up!
Lastly, one of the best quirks about this house is this door embellishment.
If I'm being honest, the kitchen is probably what sold me on the house. More specifically, the pantry is what sold me on the house. Closet or pantry space is hard to come by in English terrace houses, so having the length of the staircase to store food and other things was a major bonus. I would show you a photos, but we've all seen pantries. It's like Harry Potter's bedroom but full of canned goods and boxes from small appliances that we're keeping for when we move. The kitchen is a kitchen though, so I won't go into too much detail. Instead I'll highlight a few things and try not to dwell on things we would change if we owned the house (tiles, countertops, the usual).
Handyman Luke made our spice rack since we couldn't find any at IKEA that we liked. (They only had two options. Like, what?!) We got all the jars from--you guessed it--IKEA, but I painted the lids with chalkboard paint and labeled them with a fine tip chalkboard marker. It perfectly fits 20 jars on our counter and is quite impressive, considering the tools Luke had at the time.
We got this shelving unit from--you guessed it--IKEA when I realised we needed some extra storage. Even though it's really awesome we have the open shelves on the ends of the cabinets that we use to store dried goods, alcohol, etc. Again, we re-purposed some Christmas lights for more twinkle in the house and I put out all of our prettier kitchen items, including both of our cocktail mixers. (Amazon messed up our order so they just sent us a new one and let us keep both.)
We got the table and chairs on free cycle and I painted it white while Luke did some things to attempt to fix the frames. The chairs still aren't in great shape and it's probably why we almost never eat here. I mostly use the table to fold clothes. I actually recently put two in our study upstairs because they're not safe to sit on and I needed them out of the way for my wine and cheese night. Luke spent our Christmas break making some wall art for the 99 bottle caps that he had collected (over years, don't worry). Between that shelf and the bottle caps, the back end of the kitchen is looking so much better than when we moved in when it was just all bare, white space.
I love the big window above the sink, how much light it brings in, and the deep window sill that offers extra storage space. Luke said one of his favourite things I added to the house when I unpacked the crate is using a soap dispenser I had in my bathroom in Colorado to keep dish soap.
I'm really looking forward to when we find a good piece of wood to put up as a floating shelf to keep our tea and coffee tins. It would open up a lot of counter space, which is one thing this kitchen is lacking, that's for sure. Honestly, we may not get around to it, but my fingers are crossed!
And that's a wrap! Thanks so much for touring our home today and come back in a few weeks for Part II. For the official record, I took photos on three different days (at different times of the day) spanning at least two months, which is why there might be some continuity errors.