Progress in our Living Room

I was shocked that last April Doug and I celebrated 3 years in our condo. Shocked! Where does the time go? We haven’t really tackled any major projects in our home since we painted our bathroom jungle green right after moving in (and then failed to post a final reveal here—fail).

Everything is changing, though.

Even though we own our space (every time I say that it sounds misleading—we like most “homeowners” are paying it off to the bank), it has always felt really “apartmenty” to me. I’m sure it’s because of the beige walls and carpet… when we bought the place, we were looking for a fixer upper, but this place was much larger, closer to my work, had new carpet and new drywall, and was the same price as many fixers. As first-time home buyers we decided to play it safe and choose something move-in ready. So, after 3 years of beige, it is finally time to take matters into my own hands. Paint all of the things!! 

Living Room
This was right after we moved in, almost 3 years ago.
Now, new paint color, new bookcase, new couch. Still very similar, though.

The first step in getting this room “right” was to paint over the builder beige. We used the same color and sheen that we did in our dining room: Benjamin Moore (Aura) in Simply White. Definitely the most expensive paint I’ve ever bought, but the coverage, richness of the white, and eggshell sheen is just perfect. Going from beige to white might seem like a lateral move, and is not that exciting in photos, but trust me when I say that our vintage and collected home furnishings pop so much better now than they did against light tan. Every color stands out and the light in the room is more pleasant. People don’t understand how much light that flat, beige paint soaks up instead of reflecting.

Since I work for a Christian school, I had the Thursday and Friday before Easter off of work! My dad came down with his power tools and he helped me panel an accent wall in the living room. Shiplap is so buzzy right now, but my condo was built in 1965: I was originally thinking to go with straight up wood paneling. After hemming and hawing, I decided to go with a more modern look and do horizontal paneling with 1/8″ spacing.

We followed this tutorial closely and the project went smoothly.

Putting up the paneling was my first time using a nail gun with pneumatic air compressor, and it ruled! The project went by so fast. Nailing each panel up by hand would have been way more tiring, way noisier, and not as precise. If you ever want to do a project like this, definitely borrow, rent, or buy a nailer. The other tool that was necessary for this was a saw. Luckily my dad brought one over for us to use (similar), but now I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wishlist.

Which black paint?

I shared the following photo on facebook and instagram, and interestingly the votes leaned heavily one way on FB and heavily the other way on IG. I chalk it up to the fact that device screens have different color profiles and nothing is quite true to life. Even more interestingly, in the month that the swatches were up, I selected neither of the crowd-preferred options. Haha!

living room inspiration

In a recent post I shared a little vision board for this room and I’ve posted it again here. I’ve got some thinking to do on the art in here– leave it as is or do a little shake up? We finally finished painting the paneling in June and I am working on another post on that, filled with glamour shots ;)

“Three Wishes” book response and July selection!

Virtual Book Club
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It’s the last Wednesday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! After heavy and lengthy books, the Virtual Book Club wanted something light and summery to read for June. I was grateful because although reading hard, important books, magazines, and the news is something we should all do for our own self-enrichment, sometimes an escape is necessary as well, and isn’t that what summer reads are for?

Not that Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty is all sunshine and roses. It’s actually kind of dark tempered with lots of light moments. There is a ton of slapstick humor running through the book; it lightens up the continually awful events happening to one or more characters at a time. The book contains overarching themes about sisterhood, secrets, hardships (relationships and childbearing), and what success really looks like.

The premise of the book centers around three triplet sisters in Sydney who are at different stages in their lives, despite being the same age. It takes place at Christmas, which can be a very stressful time of the year for those with complicated families. Twist: Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer; this still qualified as our summer beach read!

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The Kettle family is complicated, but not in that way that families in books and movies always hate each other. The family was unique in that all three sisters, plus mother and father (divorced decades ago) and grandma all lived in the same city and generally all like one another. Unheard of in movies these days! The sisters are very close—a recurring theme in the book is that some characters think they are too close. When you’re a triplet, where do you draw the line between yourself and your family? Who comes first: sister or spouse/significant other?

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One of my favorite things in Three Wishes was that Moriarty included these little asides narrated by bystanders observing the Kettle family and then relaying the vignette to someone else. It reminded me of the asides interspersed throughout When Harry Met Sally. Although to us our families may seem screwed up, to others they seem sweet and normal. To me they served a dual purpose: One, don’t underestimate the struggles someone is going through just because they seem okay; and two, something that seems huge and all encompassing at the moment could blow over and isn’t really worth getting so worked up about. Perspective!

[Possible spoilers here but I’m being pretty vague] I feel that the book never really answered the “who is more important, sisters or husbands” question, but it did push each triplet sister to grow in their own way. The one with an apparently perfect life learned to ask others for help. The freespirit matured in a visible way (although, maybe she was secretly mature the whole time?) and the codependent one learned independence and self-discovery.

I wonder what I’ll learn next year? I am (gulp) creeping up on 30 this September, after all.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


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Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. I ran it (!) and we had the BEST time posting celebrities who we’d like to cast in the movie version of this book. It’s great to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book while it’s fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For July, our group voted on runner-up books from the past few months. We will be reading One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul, who is a feature writer for Buzzfeed. Some reviews draw positive comparisons to Mindy Kaling (which we did as a group last September) so I am really looking forward to this collection of short stories. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” book response and June selection!

Coming off of grim dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale, we all decided to read something sweeter for April and May. Confession: I nominated this book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and didn’t realize how long it was (500+ pages) so we extended the book club by a month (hence no post at the end of April).

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I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn several years ago and remember being quietly moved by it. I was eager to revisit it and find out if the feeling was still true. It was.

This is Betty Smith’s first and most famous novel, largely based on her own experience growing up in a poor immigrant family, after the turn of the 20th century but before World War I. The book is written in third person but focuses mainly on the main character, Francie, and secondly on her family, the Nolans: mother Katie, father Johnny, and brother Neely. The premise of following along as an 11-to-17 year old girl grows up in desperate poverty sounds quite grim, but Francie’s rich inner world and constant childlike-but-wise observations on the world around her are constantly charming and heartwarming. In this way, we can all take a lesson from this and reflect on the beautiful in the everyday.

“Then I’ve been drunk, too,” admitted Francie.
“On beer?”
“No. Last spring, in McCarren’s Park, I saw a tulip for the first time in my life.”

The thing I liked most about the writing in this book is how often Smith would lay out the story or moment, and then at the end let us enter into the character’s reflection at the end. She would summarize dinner and the evening routine in the Nolan household, maybe one without enough food to go around, and then slip in something poignant like Katie thinking to herself, “It’s a hard and bitter world. They’ve got to live in it. Let them get hardened young to take care of themselves.” Peeking into the inner lives of the characters, even side characters from time to time, connected me more to each of them and reminds me that we all aspire to be more and we have inner lives that only some of us bring to daylight.

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As the book progresses, it does so slowly at times, and rapidly at times, just how I felt as I grew up. And, although the world in the book was 100 years ago, there are so many relatable everyday moments. There are still those universally relatable moments—sibling jealousy, the struggle of a horrible teacher, the worries about not fitting in at a new job. I’m sure I will read this again every few years to remind me that every life is a journey, even if it doesn’t seem to have a straight direction, and that I should pause and reflect on the small things in my life from time to time.

“If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful. But because there are so many, you just can’t see how beautiful it really is.”

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take!


Virtual Book ClubLast night we held our monthly discussion group on facebook. I love setting aside time to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book that was fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on facebook to be added.

For June, our group selected by vote Three Wishes by the ubiquitous Liane Moriarty. I’ve never read anything by this author but she is wildly popular, so I’m sure it will be good. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.