The rental market in the neighborhood we wanted to be near was slim pickings and trying to secure one, sight unseen, from Lake Arrowhead became Brian’s daily mission (and source of stress). Moving states, during a pandemic, and not knowing where we were going to actually live made everything feel unsettled (and our kids were nervous about re-entering schools so we REALLY wanted to not couch surf for the first couple of months and instead make it feel like home asap). We originally got an adorable little bungalow closer to our school, but once we came up for a visit (after we had movers move a lot of our stuff in) we realized that the lack of yard and the proximity to heavy traffic was something that would be really hard for me (and the pups). After 2 years in the mountains, I need outdoor space without cars whizzing by (LA has permanently scarred me).
So we looked for a new one, and it was HARD (the first one got re-released quickly thank goodness – HUGE SHOUT OUT to my brother for spearheading coordinating with movers AGAIN to keep everything in storage until we found a new place). I think everyone who had a rental property last year wanted to take advantage of the insane market and sell at the top of it. So we feel lucky that we found one that is in a beautiful neighborhood, near a big park, near two of my best friends that is clean, fresh, and with good natural light. We rented it sight unseen which is always tricky but we have settled in with a lot of our things that have made it feel like home.
So let’s just say we are here for 8-9 months, investing in this house doesn’t make sense, at all. And while the old me would have designed all the rooms in the name of “creating content”, the current me is really trying to not waste my time, energy, and any planetary resources unless it can be taken to the farm as well. Don’t get me wrong, if you are renting for years – MAKE THAT HOME ONE THAT YOU LOVE, but it simply doesn’t make sense for me right now, when I have a whole farmhouse to design, book to finish and promote, blog to run, new city to explore and settle into, and kids/husband to stay connected with. So I have two goals – A. Make it functional for our family needs, and B. make it super comfortable, cozy, and fun for the darker winter months. And even though we brought up a lot of our furniture from our LA home, we sold a lot with the house or left some pieces at the mountain house. Needless to say there are some gaps that need to be filled in the meantime.
By moving in here I’m reminded of the temptation to just check boxes – buy a rug for the bedroom because waiting to find the right one could take weeks/months and right now it feels so cold without it. Order a cheap media unit until we find the right one. It’s SO tempting, but I’m trying to best to make do with what we have until I either A. find something used off Craigslist, or B. find something that I love that could also work at the farm.
Let’s take a tour though, shall we?
The Living Room
The upstairs has the living room, dining room, and kitchen all open which we love and has made nighttimes and mornings really pleasant. It gets good natural light and I’m enjoying cooking here while the kids play legos or draw at the table. This is by far my favorite area of the house and really the one I enjoy being in the most.
We brought over the sectional we’ve hoarded for years from Article. As you likely saw on my insta stories it got pretty water damaged in storage (our fault, we didn’t know the movers would drop off without any protection and didn’t ensure they were putting it in a protected area) but we’ve covered it with blankets and it’s working well enough:) I can’t say enough good things about the versatility and the comfort of this sectional, BTW. We originally used it to stage our Glendale home 5 years ago, then used it at the mountain house before we renovated (and post-renovation before we got the vintage sectional) then played with it in the LA living room – and every time Brian’s like “wait, why don’t we just use this?” and it’s because I always want something that is super unique and more of a statement sofa. But this one is just so comfortable (both for loungers and sitters) and the color is easy, the fabric historically cleaned up well, it’s stylistically so versatile, the seat depth is perfect, the arms are low, etc. Anyway, I’m so glad that we moved it up here because the delays on furniture are so long and we would have just sat here with nothing for a while had I not continued to hoard it. It’s a good one, water damage and all.
The rug is our rug from the living room, too, and I was tempted to sell it to the buyers of that house who wanted it, but I’m SO glad I didn’t. I love this super plush rug and wish I could find a duplicate online (I got it at HD Buttercup). It’s massive and fits this space so well. This house was just renovated and has mostly blank white walls and windows so we need coziness.
I secretly love this built-in bench/sofa in the living room. Even the color of the cushions is good! We might need some morning curtains/shades because the sun blasts if you are sitting on the sofa, but mostly we just move and read the paper at the dining table when that happens (it’s just a bummer on the weekends).
For now, we are using the base of the Katy Skelton bench as the media stand (for that massive new Frame TV, which we wasted no time getting) and then using a woven leather bench from the Rose Bowl I had been hoarding as the coffee table. Brian wants a more solid coffee table so I’m keeping my eye out for a vintage one, but it’s not a high priority. The custom upholstered Target trunk from our bedroom houses legos and we brought up my favorite 3 legged table from Chairish (here’s a super similar one if you are in the market), a Schoolhouse Electric lamp and we are pretty much calling it a day in this room. If I were staying here more long term I’d likely find a big credenza to put on that blank wall, art above it, and lamps on it but unless I find a piece I can take to the farm then I think we’ll just live more minimally in this room. But who knows, the needs might change and we might want more storage (the shoe situation isn’t ideal, IS IT EVER???). I added throws and pillows to make it cozy and good lighting for nighttime.
The kitchen is lovely to be in – good natural light, a nice blue in the cabinetry and it checks all the boxes.
The dining area is all good, except the overhead light is that super bright/cold LED that this mood-lighting lady can’t handle. So we might either A. replace it with something softer or B. buy an arch lamp that we sneak into the corner. Brian also really wants a rug in here which I historically don’t do, but agree with him here – the space is kinda cold and loud (floors creak, chairs creak, things echo) and a rug would solve most of those problems (especially for winter months).
Upstairs there are three small bedrooms. One that will likely be my office, one that the kids are sharing, and a guest room.
We got two kids full beds from Ikea which I am tempted to do a DIY to (upholster the back and sides, so they are kinda corner day-bed-y things. But I think we all know that first priority is the window coverings. Right now they mainly just sleep in here since there’s a lack of toys and space, but I need to get on the shade situation. The window is up high and 10′ long (with three divided windows) which is a hard window situation to tackle – curtains would gather on the bed, shades would have a decent amount of light leak and very few roller shades or cellular shades are that wide (they tend to be too heavy). So I’m tempted to do individual shades, then maybe figure out how to do a chic cute cafe curtain. Do you guys remember when I did that at Joy’s nursery? I feel like my mission in life is to solve the world’s “light leak” situation. Newer windows make this so much easier, but older frames/houses often just have a lot of blackout window problems.
I don’t mind the blue and doubt I’ll paint it, but I might see if I can find some sticker decals to make it fun for them. Also, that vintage dresser is going to be the vanity in their bathroom so in a couple of months that will need to be replaced. And right now we definitely need more storage in the closets – everything is just on the floor and it’s a real bummer to keep things organized. I like that massive sheepskin in between the beds but am looking for an area rug for the room (again, rugs and textiles are your best friend to make a home cozy, especially in rainy/cold months). As I’m writing this I’m getting slightly more excited to design this room and put some effort in. Besides, as we possibly make new friends I can’t really have people coming into their room for 9 months thinking that this window treatment situation is acceptable. I am an internet-famous design mom after all. LOL.
Oh and yes their bedding. We bought these duvets from Ikea that I already regret (too hot and strangely stiff) and wish I had just waited to order Brooklinen. Same with the mattress – we bought these from Ikea (which are definitely too firm for me) and wish I had the patience to order more plush ones from Tuft & Needle (the kids were just so depressed sleeping on thin twin mattresses on the floor and we wanted them in beds before school started). Or more accurately Brian and I felt so guilty/ashamed that they were on the floor – they were probably fine. So yes, this room is going to get some love at some point…
The office is a white box and I think I’m just going to put my Ikea pedestal table in there and a laptop. I need an office chair and might just buy the World Market chair that I loved at the mountain house, unless I can find something vintage that is comfortable. We have a lot of art but as of now, I don’t feel like hanging it up just to bring it down. What I might do is start a mood board for the farm on the days where I need a little pick me up. And I’m sure in winter I’ll want better lighting – a nice warm lamp. Who knows, maybe I’ll be motivated to do a cute window treatment and round rug. Again, right now it’s bright and sunny out, but as the winter comes (the great dark!) I may need some color, pattern, and coziness in here.
The lovely owners of the house hadn’t gotten to this room yet to renovate when they got transferred to a different state, so this bathroom could use some more extensive updating. It’s totally fine for the kids and they like the shower and tub being separate as Charlie has reached alone showering age, and Birdie still likes to play in the tub. I can’t imagine I’ll do much in here unless we have a party and I had cute styling.
The owners just redid the basement last year to make it a functional space. Down here we have a media/toy room, a big open area (maybe for workouts? or for a craft table?), and laundry. This space in the summer is fine, but I’m thinking that for the winter I’m going to want to make it more inviting – more color/textiles and warmth. I’m so glad I kept that massive Serena & Lily rug and the memory rug pad from the living room. While this area isn’t getting enough use right now I know that we are going to want it. In a perfect world, I’d paint it a cozier color and put in another massive rug (this is why I love wall to wall in a basement). The ’70s knew what they were doing – wood paneling and wall-to-wall is really cozy and inviting. Priscilla and I just finished one of my best friend’s basements with yes, wood paneling and wall to wall (but done in a modern way) and it’s SO AWESOME. Stay tuned:)
We have, yes, another massive TV that we didn’t think we would use here but then realized that the kids watch annoying shows on the weekends and having that upstairs was a bummer. So we just send them down here to listen to Pokemon or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I don’t know what color I would paint if I end up feeling like it – the wood vinyl flooring is gray so a blue/green would mean two cold colors – I think I just need to spend more time here and see what it wants. Maybe it’s just window treatments and art around the TV? I actually really like that little secondary paneling detail.
Again, I’m glad we shipped up this sofa. It’s clearly too big to be here but it’s a super solid, comfortable piece, and it’s not like the kids care. We bought that stupid gray rug on an impulse at Ikea because we needed a rug “RIGHT NOW”. We didn’t want a super shag because toys/food would get stuck in it but wanted something cozier than a flat weave. But now I think we need a plushier rug in a fun pattern to liven this place up. I keep being Facebook marketed by the Jonathan Adler Ruggable collection which is very tempting.
They put the main bedroom in the basement last year when they updated the house. It’s big enough, just needs some/a lot of warmth. I have not been sleeping well in here as-is and while I didn’t want to invest time in making this cozier and more inviting, I think I need to in order to physically sleep better. We accidentally put the bad mattress down here and the good mattress upstairs, which we are switching (the good mattress is latex and virtually impossible to move – it folds up like a taco and is insanely heavy). I also left all of our best bedding at the mountain house thinking that I had shipped some up here but I didn’t. So we are sleeping with the worst mattress, sheets, pillows, duvet cover (that has way too much texture for us), and no headboard. Shocking that I’m not sleeping well. We bought this rug at Ikea for the kid’s room (likely a mistake) and put it in here for now but I think it needs a massive rug – almost wall to wall to take away the “storage room” vibe of a renovated basement.
There is also this odd area where the dresser is that we need to address. Not sure what that becomes or what need could be filled. Again I don’t want to bring over a bunch of accessories and art just to pack them back up in 8 months, but this area is making me sad and I have cute stuff in storage that could help. It’s also very cold down here, physically so we might need to buy some space heaters. Ideally, we’d paint it a cozier color, we’ll see.
There is a bathroom down here that has a big shower, but no bath and yes I’m missing my bathtub a lot (I would bathe most nights even just for 15 minutes) but I’ve been using my Sauna Blanket on the sofa as a nightly ritual.
So there you have it. Our home for the next 8 months that we are honestly very grateful to have. And again, who knows? Maybe I will do some fun easy projects that aren’t wasteful but only time will tell… likely in the winter:)