Basement Makeover – The Gameplan

Earlier in the month, my August Obsessions post, mentioned that since we organized and cleaned up our basement – the vision of turning this into a more usable and livable space has slowly started turning more into fruition.  So here are a few “before” pictures to walk through the vision of where we want to take the space.  WARNING: Prepare for some not so glam or blog worth photos – but it’s the reality we’re dealing with (and will make the reveal that much better!).
Basement Before (1) - the bee life
Creating a Dedicated Space.  The goal is to help close in the ‘living’ space by using pipe and a drop cloth to make a large curtain ‘wall’ to help close off the electrical box, furnace and shelving in that back corner from the other area.

Painting & Waterproofing. One of the biggest steps that will help improve this space significantly (in multiple ways) will be painting the walls with waterproof paint to help with any dampness that might try and sneak in, while also transforming the space and brightening it up! I cannot wait to see the end result – we’ll also paint the large meter sticking out of the wall to help this blend into the space better.

Functional Furniture.  Because the space will remain largely ‘unfinished’ – i.e. sticking with the brick walls and an open concept ceiling (removing insulation to help with this) I want pieces that are indoor/outdoor or can be easily cleaned and not too costly.  My thought is using a larger outdoor rug as the base to cover the floor and then layering another fluffier rug on top to make it a bit more cozy.

Lighting.  Currently there are terrible florescent lights down there, and although we may not be taking them down just yet (not ready to do dig too deep into the electrical game) – adding some fun string lights from the ceiling will help brighten the space and again make it feel homey.
Basement Before (2) - the bee life
Beyond dressing up this area we also have plans to expand our lonely basement toilet into a full bathroom complete with a shower, sink and walls!  That will probably be happening at some point this winter, as we are already starting to plan and window shop for vanities, fixtures and finishes.

With the right mix of livable space and storage the basement will really become a more functional space for our everyday lives, especially once the bathroom is complete — check back for reveal pictures!

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House Tour – Front Landscape

We are feeling pretty accomplished after finally crossing off a house project we’ve had on the list for just about 4-years, our front landscape!  Although, like all house projects it ended up being a bit pricer than we initially expected – it was totally worth it.

When we first moved into the house, there were two over grown/random scrubs that didn’t do much from an aesthetic perspective – so we tore those out pretty quickly after we moved in, leaving us with a blank slate to dream about.  We made some improvements over the years, like updating the front lattice, adding in some perennials and a couple annuals that stuck around, we tried to dress up the empty dirty with mums and ferns as the seasons changed so it wasn’t completely bare, but alas it was still a blank slate that needed some love.
House Tour - Front Landscape - bee life blog
This project seemed daunting especially from a plant perspective, we didn’t want to pay for a landscaper and had a few ideas about what plants/bushes to incorporate, it was really just filling in all of the holes.  So one day, B and I went to three different nurseries and read tags, looked at plants and started to narrow down our options and took pictures, while we also price compared.  From there we ordered 5-yards of dirt to build up the area, it seemed like too much, but somehow we managed to spread it throughout.  And then we went and bought our plants;

(1) Little Lime Hydrangea
(2) Sorbet Peonies
(4) Boxwood Winter Gem
(3) Fern Line: Fern Leaf Buckthorn
(2) Maiden Grasses
(1) Coneflower – Cheyenne Spirit
(1) Lavender plant (already had)
(1) Butterfly bush (already had)

We spread the love with our plants purchases between some locals shops like Petitti’s Garden Center and Gale’s Garden Center. So once we bought all the plants, worked through placement, we got to planting!  Before we mulched, we built the stone wall to help divide the grass and landscape (this was a compromise of the project with B and I!) – he wanted one, I didn’t – the stones I wanted to compromise with were wayyy to much so we found some at Lowes that ended up working out. From there we ordered 3-yards of mulch (via Kurtz Bros!), which was more than enough, giving us a good base and finished look.
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The house feels a little more complete with the front landscape done, we are so happy to get it done and with the way everything turned out.  We also took our time working through this project (clearly!) but I think that helped to our benefit because we weren’t stressed about it and were able to take advantage of some cool summer days/nights to get everything done.   We can’t wait to see how it fills in and welcomes visitors to our home!

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3 Tips for Hosting a Summer Dinner Party

With a little over a year with our back patio, we made it a point to have both dining and relaxin space – making it the perfect spot for a classic dinner with family and close friends.  We hosted, the first of many dinners on the patio and it was the perfect combination of all the things that make a dinner party great a classic and easy menu, a stunning table setting and awesome company.

My favorite part about hosting a party or dinner is the planning that goes into it and the opportunity to make a special memory for our guests, while also having a fantastic meal and great company.  It’s about making the night special from all the other dinners we have every other night and giving the people you care about a little extra love.
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I’ve realized that hosting a dinner or party for some may seem super daunting and overwhelming, but focusing on these three things helps keep it simple while also allowing you to enjoy the night as well!

The Menu. We kept the menu simple, healthy and refreshing for a warm summer day.  We opted for chicken and steak kabobs mixed with mushrooms, peppers and onions.  We had a fresh mixed greens salad with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes (cheese on the side for us non-dairy folk) and a fresh fruit salad with blueberries and strawberries.  When it comes down to it, there are just a few staples that just can’t be beat – not to mention we had plenty of kabobs that we were all stuffed!

The Setting. I had fun dressing up our not so glamorous outdoor table with placemats and neutrals. I used a variety of outdoor friend pieces like the plastic salad plates and glasses from Opalhouse while bringing out some nicer Kate Spade serving dishes and fabric napkins.  The neutral base let the table be the center of attention with it’s bright colors and inviting feel with the mix of patterns.  Pro Tip: dress your table and prep as much food as possible before your guest arrive so you’re able to enjoy their company and a cocktail!

The Company.  Although I love large parties, sometimes it’s better to keep things small – so we had my parents and B’s parents up. It was the perfect mix of company and conversation was able to be had with everyone vs. side conversations or too much noise, especially if this is your first major dinner party – keep it small and low key so the impress isn’t stressing you out.

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The best thing about hosting is that you’re able to call the shots! From the menu, to the vibe you can set the tone for the evening – but it’s always important to make sure your guests are taken care of first and feel welcomed!

Cheers!

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House Tour – Sunroom Makeover

Our sunroom got an impromptu mini makeover this spring, as we have finally been able to enjoy it with the weather warming up.  This space started out pretty drab with a stunning yellow and brown color palette, we quickly figured out a cost effective solution to repurpose our old apartment furniture making this space functional, bright and colorful.

This past summer we bought an oversized love seat and ottoman, that matches our main living room furniture – it was time to get rid of that over worn leather sofa for something a bit nicer.  The curtains that were once bright and sunny (and really expensive) were now faded after a few summers in the sun – plus the windows in that room aren’t the greatest (already on the future project list).  So I went with more affordable shears ($5 each) that accented the room nicely.
House Tour - Sunroom Makeover - the bee life
I reused a few other pieces that were throughout the house, the rug was extra that had been in the basement and worked perfectly with the new furniture color.  I also pulled in the white TV stand from a guest room to pull the space together, making it a cozy spot to curl up and watch a movie on a summer night or cool afternoon.  The window table was a DIY that is now a helpful side table, styled with a framed quote from our wedding and a table top lamp that was sitting sadly in the basement waiting for it’s perfect spot.

The only other piece I bought besides the new curtains, was the white tray ($20) to use on the other side of the chair for a bit more function.  I covered a few colorful pillows I had with white pillow cases from H&M that had ended up in the linen closet, the bright colors just weren’t working with the new darker gray chair.  I really loved freshening this space up without spending an arm and a leg – which goes back to my main decorating tip and rule of thumb, buy pieces that can work in multiple spaces!
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We love having the door open in the summer to this welcoming and warm space, and now it just has another elevated feel of this little retreat in our home.  It’s the perfect spot for an afterwork nap (that’s when it’s the warmest with sun shining in) and so bright.  Although this space was complete before, it feels even more so now with this little upgrade!

 

Shop the Look: H&M Pillow Covers | White Target Tray | Oversized Chair | Shear Curtain Panels | TV Stand Cube Bench 

House Tour – Mansion on the Lake

Today’s house tour, unfortunately is not of my own, but a girl can dream right? This past weekend we were able to get a rare look inside a 1910 treasure. There was an estate sale over the course of four days in this mansion along the lake – so before I start gushing the impeccable details, let’s run through the quick specs, built in 1910, 12,280 sq. ft., 10-bedrooms, 7 full baths, 3 half baths, listed just under $5 million.
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Walking up to the property it was everything you’d expect from the pictures and more, although the pictures seemed like maybe it could be a dream.  The brick drive was still in immaculate condition with a grand entrance, stone steps lead into the house into a grand foyer with floor to ceiling wood paneled walls, grand staircase and a stunning fireplace. Walking in, you almost didn’t know where to start, straight into the Sun Room? Left into another great room? Or right another room equal size to the one on the left? We went right, from there we were led into the butler’s pantry with original cabinetry to the ceiling and then into the large kitchen with original gas stove.

Other standouts throughout the property were the ornate ceilings throughout and the windows with brass handles and original fixtures in every single room.  The wine cellar in the basement was a reasonable size for the house (kidding), and the 3rd floor – which was presumably the servants quarters at one point in time reminded be of the Titanic’s 3rd class – yet still incredible with the detail and just completely massive.  The wallpaper, although pretty prominent in the house in absence of wood panels, was mostly stunning and made a statement against the woodwork.
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A little history on the house, it was designed by Stanford White for industrialist Howard M. Hanna Jr.  It’s been registered on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior.   It’s hard to imagine living in a house of such grandeur and size, not to mention all the finishings and furniture needed to make it a home… but I’m sure if I was forced I could manage *smiles*

Although a lot of the pieces being sold at the estate sale were way out of our price range (like a $15k table, $18k rug…) there were a lot of unique pieces that were reasonable especially for those with an appreciation of antiques.  Although the expensive pieces were definitely swoon worthy with a few pieces dating to the 18th century.  I did buy two hanker chiefs that had embroidered ‘E’s  – there were a few dish sets with ‘E’s as well, so my guess is that was the previous families last name?  It was really fun being able to check out a home like this, I’m glad we went and I’m going to keep on dreaming.

Trend Spotlight – Opalhouse at Target

In case you’ve missed it, Target has been teasing it’s newest home decor collection hitting shelves this Sunday.  Opalhouse is a full collection to help you furnish any part of your house from a stunning dinner party, to a bathroom upgrade, new bedding, bold furniture, your outdoor patio, oh… and did I mention? Wallpaper. Let me say it again… WALLPAPER! *heart-eye-emoji*
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There are three styles that make up Opalhouse: Indochic, Canyon Sunrise and Mallorca.  Indochic is described as “French-Vietnamese fushion, full of elegant shapes and sophisticated jewel tones.”  Canyon Sunrise is “an organic look with eyes on southern horizon.” And finally Mallorca is “all about the black and neutrals, with contrasting colors… and intricate details.”  But I think the colors, design and patterns of the products speak for themselves, with pieces that can fit into your home without completely restyling.

These three styles are stunning and while they can certainly hold their own, also work together with the intermixing of the colors throughout. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start, I love the kitchen and dining pieces, perfect for summer dinners on the patio or a casual brunch, the bold deep velvet green pillows and fun patterned bedding give an instant retreat feel to any bedroom, oh and did I mention… the wallpaper?!?
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I can’t wait to see this collection in person, I’m not one for day-of hype, but I will be taking a trip to Target on Sunday to preview everything in person and building my wish list, while trying not to fill up my cart too much.

So… get ready for some bright new colors, bold patterns and a whole lot of gorgeous coming to Target, very very soon. The collection drops THIS Sunday, April 8th. Start your wish list how and preview the full collection!

 

 

Image Source: Target.com/Opalhouse 

Easter Table Decor Inspiration

With Easter being only a few weeks away, I am in need of some inspiration for an Easter ready dining room.  With last year’s table decor being full of pastels and pink, I was hoping to switch it up a bit this year!
Easter Table Decor Inspo - the bee life
What I love about these options is that they’re simple, yet colorful and classic.  They’re also low cost while still make a statement for guests without completely overpowering the entire table.

Florals. I love the idea of incorporating a single flower directly at the place setting – I think adding a small vase with water for each guest to put their flower in once they’re seated would be a fun finishing touch for this look!

Bunny Cutout. What I love most about this idea, in addition to the layering, mix of prints and colors is the simplicity of the bunny name tag. This could be easily accomplished with tracing or free hand – I even saw felt shapes at Target in Easter shapes like a bunny and egg! Perfect for this year and stocking away for next. The finishing touch of the ribbon is fun too!

Name Tag & Greenery. Another simple, low cost idea that makes a great statement is the inspiration from the stripes ‘Emma’ tag. A bundle of these tags or something similar are easily found at a number of stores, low cost and in bulk. Adding the greenery is a nice touch to make it standout and make it more that just a tag!

As I’ve said before, our dining room is one of my favorite spaces to update as the seasons change and as the holidays come and go. Although we aren’t hosting Easter this year, I like having our table set and looking great all the time – and always love new ideas and inspiration to adapt and turn into my own!

Happy Tablescaping!

 

 

 

Image Sources: Tulip | Bunny Tag | Stripes + Greens

 

Holiday Decor Inspiration

Every year I get an itch to completely redo all of our Christmas decorations, but then there is a part of me that just loves what we’ve created over these last few years and how we’ve made our home a cozy Christmas wonderland.  So I mix things up on a smaller scale, our outdoor space we’ve been doing different lighting variations and and the dining room is always my play space to create a magical setting.

So although I am not completely redoing our decor this year, I love to share future inspiration for holiday decor around the house… enjoy!
Holiday Decor Inspiration - the bee life
Classic. I love keeping decor classic with white lights and pops of color, you can’t beat the feel good sentiments of Christmas and a nice lush evergreen.

Pops of Color. This centerpiece is what dreams are made of and reminds me of the vintage ornaments I’ve found over the years from my grandma and at antique stores – pinks and blues and golds are so fun to play around with!

Simple. I hope one day I can work up to simple, right now it’s a complete flip of decorations in the house; picture frames are put away and the house is completely transformed with greens, lights, multiple trees, candles and ornaments.

What are your favorite things about decorating for Christmas? What theme or color palette are you dying to do?

 

 

Photo sources are linked above. 

Fireplace Makeover Inspiration

Since we’ve been on hold with house projects with all of the wedding planning and expenses – I’m admittedly already secretly planning some projects that B and I can conquer this winter, while the cold and snow surround us outside.  So because I just can’t contain myself, here is some inspiration for a project we’ve had our eyes on.
Fireplace Makeover Inspiration - the bee life
Refacing Our Fireplace: This project has me a bit conflicted – but at the same time I’m curious to see how it would work in our space.  We have built-in’s on either side of our fireplace and these are the original oak color with beveled glass windows.  The brick had been already painted white, which we like and still flows with the space, but I can’t decide if white wood over top of the brick would work or if the mix-match of textures is what makes currently work. We definitely don’t want to paint the original built-in’s… they’re original features with original wood, and it would be so painful to do that!  Check out our current fireplace!

New Tile in Front of Fireplace: Because the refacing is a bit more conflicting, we may end up doing this project before jumping all in, since this might be the only update we need to help with the space.  Currently we have maroon tiles in front of our fireplace that meet up with our original oak floors.  We’ve been talking about replacing these for awhile, and since we finally have one tiling project under our belts – we are feeling confident, plus it’s a small space! Updating these dated maroon tiles with some white marble would really make this space pop and be a clean look.

One of the reasons we love our house so much is because it’s a century home and we love a lot of the original features, like the natural woodwork, the built-in’s in both our dining and living room and our hardwood floors.  So whenever we’re updating a space,  we make updates that only enhance and highlight those original features we love!

Photo Sources:  Left Image | Right Image