The furniture-moving Force is strong with this one…

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My new living room arrangement.

Friday night amid my hot date of staying home alone, I decided my living room needed a new arrangement. Having the couch right against the front window made it hard to close the curtains properly and sitting there is very cold in the winter. To remedy both of these problems, I started formulating a new layout and planned to put it into action Saturday afternoon.

I spent Saturday morning getting groceries and the experience reminded me why I never shop on weekends. Too many people! I much prefer going during the week when everyone is at their office jobs and school. When I got home from running errands, I was a bit tired but still determined to rearrange my living room.

Moving furniture is in my blood you see. My mother always seemed to be rearranging furniture when I was growing up. I’d come home from school or work and discover the living room or family room totally rearranged, or better yet, both rearranged! She usually did it without any warning and without any help. My father, older brothers, and myself all learned to adapt to the new arrangement until it was randomly changed again.

There isn’t much room for change in my under 1000 square foot house but I still manage to rearrange things when I need to. The furniture-moving Force is rather strong in me and I don’t care how heavy something is or how tight the fit is through the door, I’ll get things where I want them! Since living here, I’ve moved the girls from two rooms into one, rearranged my kitchen to fit in an enormous fridge, and now changed the living room layout.

I like the new living room layout much better than how it was and I don’t imagine I’ll be changing it again anytime soon. Moving the couch so it backs up against my desk creates a better partition between the work area and living area of the room. It’s now easier to stay focused on work at my desk and easier to relax on the couch when I’m done with work. It will also be easier to use the Xbox Kinect too because there’s more open floor space…once the coffee table is removed and the rocking chair is pushed back. I suppose the necessity to do that almost every day keeps the furniture-moving Force strong in this one, which will come in handy if the forces of the Dark Side ever try to trap me with furniture…

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Even when the room is dark, the view out the windows is full of light!

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Wait, what?

After watching Disney’s Frozen a few times, I noticed that the phrase “Wait, what?” was said several times by different characters. I was quite happy to find that someone had already made a compilation of this on YouTube!

Earlier this week, I had my own “Wait, what?” moment while the girls and I were eating dinner. We were sitting on the living room floor eating at the coffee table as we often do. I think it feels more laid back and cozy sitting on the floor and for some reason, we all seem to share more when we eat like that. Amid our eating and conversation Jordan suddenly said “I miss living at the apartment.” Jaycie agreed with her sister and I was left staring at them in confusion as I thought “Wait, what???”

I asked the girls why and after a few moments thought, they told me that they missed sharing a room like they did in the apartment. This totally surprised me. When I started house hunting in the spring of 2011, I was specifically looking for a home with three bedrooms so the girls could each have their own room like they did at their father’s house. I thought they’d enjoy having space from each other, especially as they got older. Well, here it is three years later and rather than growing further apart, they’ve grown closer.

I’m not about to tell my girls they can’t share a room when they so obviously want to so I promised I’d rearrange things and have Jordan’s room converted into their shared room by the time I got them back Sunday evening. Jaycie’s room will then become the play room and that seemed to make the girls even happier.

I wasn’t sure how things would fit in Jordan’s room with two beds and I didn’t want to move furniture around more than necessary so I took measurements and rendered the room out in my home design program. In my rendering, things looked a bit tight but doable so this afternoon I started rearranging things.

girls room render

Silly me, I thought I was done moving furniture after I moved into this house but I was wrong. The hardest thing to move was the combination file/storage cabinet and the second hardest was Jaycie’s bedframe because it got stuck in the doorway briefly. I’m not one to admit defeat though and I mustered my strength to get everything where it needed to be.

As it turned out, my rendered room wasn’t how things worked in reality and I ended up putting more furniture in the playroom than originally planned. I definitely got a workout and I’m quite pleased with the end result!

girls room

I still have to arrange the playroom and hopefully carve out a nook for my craft table but that will wait until tomorrow because I think if I asked my body to work more tonight it would say “Wait, what?!”

Attention to details at Attentif’ Design!

Attentif' Design front window

Image courtesy of Attentif’ Design Facebook page.

If you can walk by the window of Attentif’ Design and not notice it, you’re missing a unique shopping experience. The thoughtfully designed front window displays of this shop at 44 Main Street in Amesbury, Massachusetts are designed to grab attention and invite shoppers inside. The latest photo on Facebook of their front window display is proof of how eye-catching their designs are and why you need to step inside, have a look around and acquire whatever strikes your fancy.

There are always so many beautiful things to see in Attentif’ Design that it’s hard to decide where to look first. The store displays are creatively arranged to guide you through the store as your eyes drift across the lovely wares. Owner and interior designer, Kathi Gannett displays items in such a way that it helps you envision them set out neatly in your home. Displays are done by theme, object, color and even purpose and grouped so well that it feels as though you’re touring someone’s well-designed home instead of a shop.

I adored this romance-themed display during my last visit.

Romance-themed display.

Everyone’s interior decorating tastes are different and Attentif’ Design acknowledges that by having a bit of everything for everyone. Throw pillows are an easy, affordable and quick way to change the look of a couch, chair or window seat and there’s a nice variety inside the store. A pillow featuring a key design adds an antique touch and a brightly colored flower patterned pillow freshens up the living room couch with spring blooms.

Coveted key pillow.

Attentif’ Design features items made by local residents, including cutting boards quite capable of standing up to the abuse kitchen tools endure. The cutting boards are durable, sturdy, well-made and crafted with attention to detail and quality of work.

Blockhead Cutting Boards

Blockhead Cutting Boards

There are items in Attentif’ Design for homes of any square footage, from small detailed touches like jars, candles and figurines to larger pieces such as lamps, end tables and ottomans. When space is at a premium in a home, black and gold folding tray tables are a creative solution. The high rim of the tabletop prevents items from falling off. The table can remain set up as decoration or unfolded for extra surface area when needed. Truly a stunning addition to any interior design!

The folding black and gold tray tables.

Folding black and gold tray tables.

Attentif’ Design does custom orders of items and owner Kathi Gannett is happy to work with customer’s ideas and requests. She offers interior design services and judging by her store, there’s no denying the quality of her work. Attentif’ Design is open later hours on the third Thursday of every month, which allows people more time to shop and view the seemingly endless decorative, beautiful and functional items for sale inside this unique store.

Finding the Future Potential – Part 1

Worth a try...

Worth a try…

In the spring of 2012 I had this bold, crazy idea to try to sell my writing services without any middle-man. I’d been working for content mills and freelance sites for a couple of years and I had become quite familiar with adapting my “flowery” creative writing talents to fit a variety of topics. As I’ll be living in North Shore Massachusetts someday in the not-too-distant future, I sent letters via USPS to realtors in that area offering my anonymous writing skills. It seemed logical to form a client base where I would be living someday. I explained to the realty offices that I was available to write blog posts and/or property descriptions and attached a sample of my work. I never heard anything back.

I imagine the realty offices I wrote to wondered why a woman from Upstate New York felt she was qualified to write about Massachusetts property listings. At that time I had yet to visit Amesbury and the surrounding towns and I’m sure my sample piece demonstrated that. There’s also the distinct possibility that the letter I sent them went directly into the recycle bin without ever being read. It was a bold, crazy move for me and even though it fell flat, I’m still proud of myself for trying.

I’ve been looking at homes in Amesbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Newbury, Haverhill and numerous other places in that area for well over a year. The real estate market up there is apparently booming because the listings I like are rarely on the market for long. In light of that, I’ve concluded that the homes basically sell themselves. Even if realtors post vague listing details, dimly lit photos and descriptions splattered with typos or presented all in caps, the homes sell. Why on earth would they ever consider hiring a freelance writer to describe a home or blog about the area when buyers can look at photos and do online research themselves? I believe someday I’ll give them a reason.

Following is a picture of a sun room in a property for sale in Salisbury, MA. I’m not giving the address because I’m sure it will sell just fine on its own and I have no affiliation with the listing realtor.

Sun room view 1

Sun room view 1

As an experienced home purchaser, I’ve learned to see beyond the current state of a home and find the future potential. It’s a beautiful space with lots of natural light, but just by looking at these pictures, I see room for improvement.  I like the warm yellow color of the room, the Cathedral ceilings and the multiple windows with sweeping views of the property. There’ room for improvement and a few changes would reveal its future potential.

For one, the room feels very crowded. The couch seems too big and sticks out into the room too far. The matching lamps, end tables and centrally located coffee table would create nice symmetry if not for the brown chair tucked up on the right. That chair doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the room. Then there’s the window treatments, or lack thereof. The basic vertical blinds let the light in when open and provide privacy and shade when closed, but they don’t add any style to the room.  I browsed through some pictures on Houzz.com and these are options I think would suit the room nicely.

I like the idea of curtain rods that run the length of the room. Separate rods would make the space appear broken up, disjointed and ruin the airy feel. The floor length curtains make the rooms feel taller and the wood floors nicely amplify the sunlight streaming in. Mixing solid color panels with patterned panels is a great way to bring in texture and depth without being overwhelming or distracting from the natural beauty of the windows. The size and placement of the furnishings fit these rooms perfectly as they keep with a unifying color theme.

Here’s another window treatment and room layout that I think would work well.

The sheer navy roller blinds are stunning even when only drawn halfway down. They provide shade and privacy when needed but don’t completely block the view. The furnishings coordinate with a blue and white theme and receive a bold, rich accent from the dark wood finish on the tables and chair frames. The natural wood floor ties in perfectly to the bright, coastal mood of the space with a color mimicking beach sand visible out the windows.

As the sun room in the property for sale looks out onto green grass and trees, pulling those colors inside through window coverings and furnishing choices is an ideal way to coordinate the design. Hard flooring, whether wood, tile or laminate, would work better in this room than the current wall to wall carpeting. A light-colored hard flooring would brighten the space and give the option of bringing in an area rug. The furnishings need to be sized to the room better so the space doesn’t feel so heavy with furniture. There’s ample future potential in this sun room and I’m certain its new owner will redesign it to suit their personal tastes.

This post is called “Part 1” for a reason. There’s a second picture of the sun room I want to discuss improving but it would make this post far longer than its already excessive length. As if it’s not obvious from this post, I love looking at homes and writing about interior design. I’m not actually a realtor or an interior designer but I’ve played both those roles extensively through my writing. I’m always learning something new and utilizing that knowledge in my work. Part of finding my future potential is evolving into a better version of the unique creature known as JulieAnn.