Monday, June 29, 2015

Decorating Around Dark Leather Sofas

Let's talk furniture, shall we? Steve and I purchased a very large and very dark leather sofa/love seat combo many moons ago. We spend a nice chunk of change on this furniture and it has held up like no other. It's had it's fair share of spills and couch jumps and climbing children and it's been our main seating source in our last three homes. The sofa is large enough for my 6'3" husband to comfortably stretch his legs and between the two of them, they hold a lot of people. There has never been a tear, a scratch, and we've never had to do any maintenance on these sofas.

The catch is, I don't really like them anymore! They seem heavy and dark, although they are cozy and comfy. They seem too matchy-matchy for my taste and a bit formal for our casual lifestyle. But, the reality is, we have kids and a large great room to fill up, and the leather is durable, soft, washable, lived in, and paid for! So, until I find two chairs to replace the love seat, both will stay in here. I'm in no rush, but I am on the hunt. Either way, the large sofa is staying for now.

To make these work for me, I simply change the things around the sofas to appeal to my decorating taste. I also like to keep everything else surrounding these dark behemoths light and bright, especially during the summer months.

A white shag rug, soft throws, and light pillows help keep the sofas from drowning out the space. I also have a white coffee table that is easily changed out with the seasons. This room gets a ton of natural light which helps me without having to actually do anything.

We have very dark hardwood floors and dark bookcases. A white fireplace and very neutral walls keep it from being too dark. I've contemplated painting out the bookshelves to the trim color, but can't seem to pull the trigger. I'm going to restyle the bookshelves this summer and if I still don't like them, I will paint them out. More to come on that!

Because we have an open concept first floor, we essentially have no walls. This also created a problem because the back of the large sofa is exposed to the kitchen. So, I painted a thrift store dresser bright white to hide the back of the couch. I change up the accessories and added a pop of pink, and you hardly notice the couch from this angle.

Eventually, down a long and winding road, we will finish our basement and these sofas will be perfect down there. Until then, I am learning to appreciate what we have and to work with things I can't change at the drop of a hat. Love is in the details for me anyway, and accessories are a lot cheaper, so I will keep having fun with that! 

I have absolutely nothing against leather furniture. I think it's fabulous in smaller scale doses and there are so many perks to leather when you have kids. I actually think I won't mind the large sofa at all if I can find neutral chairs to replace the love seat. It's just too much in this space and too matchy for me. Let's love what we love and work around what we don't!

Do you have leather sofas? Any tricks for keeping them current and likable?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios

We're finally on the home stretch and I'm talking about the last leg of our Disney adventure! Hollywood Studios housed one of our favorite rides in all of Disney, we sang with Anna & Elsa, Drew got to fight Darth Vader on stage, and yours truly was picked to participate in the Indiana Jones Stunt Show. So, so fun!

Here are the links to the previous posts:

WDW: Thoughts & Logistics from First-Timers
WDW: Magic Kingdom
WDW: Epcot
WDW: Animal Kingdom

We visited this park twice during our four days. One day, we were able to enter at 8am because of the Magic Hours. This is also the morning Drew was able to get into the Jedi Training Academy (more on this further down the post).

Ride Recap & Fast Pass:

The Great Movie Ride: Easy ride, Steve and I probably liked this more than the kids. Longer ride.

Star Tours: We used a Fast Pass for this, but the lines were not long when we got to the park first thing. This ride is a simulation ride that might cause a little dizziness. We all liked it, but once was enough.

Muppet Vision 3D: None of us thought this was that great. Would skip if we ever went again.

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along: We used a Fast Pass for this. It doesn't get you better seats, it just ensures you will get a seat for the designated time you chose. We were able to sit in the middle of the theater and got there about 20 minutes before the show started. We all loved this! Even Drew, but don't tell him I told you! This is not what we expected at all. The sing along is not only that, but it's pretty much a comedy show of the retelling of the story. Two super funny and charming actors lead this 30 minute show and it had us all laughing the whole time - highly recommend!!!

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: This is basically a huge playground for kids. We stopped off here for a little break for about 15 minutes. Kids enjoyed it!

Toy Story Mania: This was collectively one of our favorite rides at Disney! It's a shoot 'em game and it's perfect for all ages. One of the longest lines at Disney, so definitely use a Fast Pass. This one we wanted to ride again, but didn't want to wait the 70 minutes.

Rock n Roller Coaster: Did not ride, thought it was too much.

Tower of Terror: Did not ride. My husband works in the elevator industry, so this was sort of bad of us for not ricing! Mom was scared too!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular: This was particularly fun because I was chosen to be one of the "extras" from the audience. The kids just thought this was so hilarious. This is good action, it's covered for shade, and it's a good time to grab a seat for a break. Highly recommend! We got to the show about 20 minutes early and stood in line to make sure we got a seat for that show. We were "shoppers" in the market…complete with tennis shoes and all… :)

Jedi Training Academy: This was so fantastic and I'm so happy Drew was able to participate in this. We had heard that you have to be at the park when it first opens and basically run to get a spot in line to  get your name in to do this. Magic hours were happening the day we did this, and the park opened at 8am. We got in line around 7:30 and were pretty close to the front. Steve and Drew had planned to run together (your son/daughter must be with you to register) and Kate and I would meet up with them. Running is discouraged at the parks, but I think they hauled it to the line and got the first time slot. They have several time slots throughout the day that they fill depending on when you get there. We wanted the first time slot because we weren't sure how long we would be at HS. I think they took 15 kids per time slot the day we were there.

The kids basically get to go on stage and have a light saber fight with Darth Vader. The costumes and the actors are legit and it is worth doing!!

Each child that participates gets a turn with the characters and they put on a short little show and the kids get a diploma for completing Jedi Training. A definite highlight for Drew on the trip!

As mentioned in some of the other posts, we didn't do a lot of stopping to sit down and eat at the restaurants. We did eat at a little pizza place at HS, which wasn't great but it sufficed. We also ate breakfast here one day…they have a Starbucks…

We saw several characters during our short time at HS. The lines were not very long!

We had heard so many different things about all the parks before we went. I'm so glad we did all of the parks and got a feel for what we wanted to do and didn't want to do. Four days at the parks gave us plenty of time to do and see everything we wanted to. We didn't leave Disney and felt like we missed anything, which is exactly what I had hoped for. Now, when we go back, we can pick and choose what we really want to do again.

It was a wonderful first time experience at Disney with our kids. We still talk about it all the time. I know they are memories that will last a lifetime. I'm convinced that traveling with your kids and family brings you closer than when you left, and for that, I am truly grateful. xoxo

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Keeping Hydrangeas Perky

Happy Thursday! Just a quick pop-in to share a little tip I learned from another blogger regarding keeping hydrangeas from drooping. I tried it yesterday and it worked, so I wanted to share with you. I just love having these on my desk space!

The tip comes from Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick. The process is super easy. Cut or purchase hydrangeas, soak them in a little bath of cold water, and wait for them to perk up. I cut some stems from my yard yesterday and they were very droopy because of the extreme heat we've been having. I threw them in a cold bath and waited. I checked them after 30 minutes and they looked the same. I decided to just leave the house and leave them soaking. 

I came home after a few hours and they were as good as new and very perked up! Love this tip!

I posted on Instagram that I purchased several "distressed" hydrangea plants last season and planted them in my side yard. Much to my surprise, they have come back and are producing blooms! I can't wait until these plants get bigger and bigger every year and the side yard is full of these blooms. Don't forget to check the distressed or clearance racks wherever you purchase plants, especially this time of year. Hope you're having a wonderful week! xo

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Indoor Summer Home Tour

Welcome and hello summer! I thought I would share a little more of the inside of our home with a mini summer home tour! I plan to do a separate post with our outdoor space, porch, and patio. Summer is my favorite time of year when things are lush and green outside and the sun is shining bright inside. Longer days, warm nights, and no early bedtime routines makes this momma happy!

I don't really do much to change things up, just add a few touches here and there and rearrange a few things. I love plants, which do most of the talking this time of year. The natural light and open concept provide most of my happiness on this first floor. This is the view from walking in our front door. That little pink stool is adding a nice touch of fun to this room! I also recently added that hanging gold dipped concrete planter. The more plants, the better, in my opinion. We also just washed the interior and exterior windows in our home, so everything seems lighter and brighter than before.

There is something about pink and navy I can't get enough of right now! I also added these fun floral pillows into the mix this summer. They get moved around a lot and I just love the fun pattern.

The bookshelves on either side of the fireplace are busy, so I like to keep the mantel and fireplace simple. Driftwood and a colorful rattan basket keep it casual and summery.

And because we pretty much live in a jungle (that's what my husband things anyway), here's one of my favorite new plants I added this spring. It makes for great cut stems to throw in vases around the house!

Our eat in kitchen houses Jewel, our fiddle leaf fig. She was the most expensive plant I've ever bought, so she deserves a name! The bust planter and the antlers were Homegoods finds. They add a bit of quirkiness and keep things fun and fresh.

My blogger friend, Sarah, tipped me off to these faux stems from Hobby Lobby, so I grabbed a couple for the kitchen. They are huge and add a nice bit of green to the space. I mostly go for real plants, but I really liked the scale of these faux ones. The glass jar is also from Hobby Lobby. An easy summer statement!

I also posted about our Summer Fun List on the chalk wall, which we do every summer. It adds instant color and whimsy to our mudroom/kitchen space.

We have a lot left to do in the way of styling our home office, but the hardwoods floors were installed and our furniture is set up. This office is so light and bright, we just love working in here. Those pink flowers are also faux…shhhhh…they are good ones! Also from Homegoods…I have a thing with Homegoods by the way… :). And those hydrangeas are fresh cut from the yard!

The dining room is the first room you see when you walk in our front door. I wanted to keep it classic and chic, and add some pops of color on the bar cart and with pillows. That large blue artwork is a thrift store find and will be getting a makeover soon!

I love to cut stems/flowers from the yard this time of year too! Instant summer refresh!

And lastly, I like to place cut stems from our yard in the downstairs bathroom. It doesn't have any windows, so I can't keep real plants alive in there. I can add some fresh daisies to make it feel summery this time of year! And that artwork keeps it bright all year long!

That's pretty much a snippet of our first floor. I know there are so many gorgeous home tours going around the blog world right now. If you are on Instagram and follow bloggers/designers, you know that there are gorgeous photos filling up your feeds as we speak. Remember…in this house, kids live here. I never want this home to feel stuffy or overdone. I'm going for casual and lived-in and family friendly. I'm not a designer. I do these home tours and style my home and change things up because it is a hobby of mine and I truly love doing it. I hope to inspire readers to think about their space in a different way.

Messes get made in all homes, including this one. Food gets eaten on the couch and in our bed. There is a reason you aren't seeing my upstairs on this home tour. It's because there are laundry piles in the hallway and unmade beds in all the rooms. I hope you remember that as you see me posting pretty pictures on the blog and on Instagram! Mostly, I hope your summer is shaping up to be a good one! xoxo

Friday, June 12, 2015

Walt Disney World: Animal Kingdom

I decided to just break up all parks into four separate posts. If you missed any previous posts you can see find them here… Logistics, Epcot, Magic Kingdom. Even though we didn't spend a ton of time at Animal Kingdom, we visited there on two separate days to get done what we had on our list. We originally didn't even think we would have time to get to Animal Kingdom, but as you read in previous posts, we had more than enough time to get to everything! If you have the time, I would check it out!

Ride Recap:

Expedition Everest: We convinced the kids to ride this when we first got to AK. They had seen this ride on the Disney video that Disney sends you and they were skeptical. With very little coaxing, we all made it on the ride. The kids did not love it. There was a little girl in line with us who was 5 y/o and she was riding it over and over again. It's jus based on your level of adventure, I guess!

It's Tough to Be a Bug: This is a 3D movie and it was so, so cute! It involves bugs and the theater is dark. We all loved it, good for all ages.

Kilimanjaro Safari: This was a huge hit! This ride is long and you get to see animals up close and out in the open. A giraffe crossed the road and came right up next to us on our ride. Highly recommend and good for all ages.

Kali River Rapids: We knew we were going to ride this ride on a certain day so we packed flip flops in our backpack. We kept seeing everyone come of the ride soaking wet, so we knew it was a possibility. I wanted to put on our ponchos but Steve couldn't see the point of going on a water ride if we didn't want to get wet! So, we picked our spots, and lo and behold, the Larson's all stayed dry! The other family seated with us got most of the water. Super fun ride, the anticipation of getting wet or not was most of the fun. Good for all ages.

TriceraTop Spin: Super easy ride, good for all ages.

Dinosaur: Our kids hid their faces during most of this ride. It jerks you quite a bit, but Steve and I loved it. Probably not suited for small kids…dark and scary scenes. Our kids just hid their heads in our laps, so it all worked out!

We only went to one "show" at AK. We got to the park right when it opened one day to stand in line for Festival of the Lion King. We did not plan to come to AK, so we did not have any Fast Passes for this park. We got in line around 9:15 and we got front row for the 10am show. I would highly recommend seeing this! We all loved it! It's a about a 30 minutes show. And Kate was chosen with another girl to help out in the beginning of the show. So fun for her and for all of us!

I'm so happy we ended up spending a little time at AK. It's very educational and has a different vibe about it than the other parks. We did not eat anything while we were at AK, so I don't have anything to report on the food. Next up will be Hollywood Studios and then a beach recap!

I have also added a "TRAVEL" section at the top of the blog. I have included all travel posts here so you can quickly reference them! xo

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eat In Kitchen

It is a goal of mine to start showing you more of our home, on the blog and on Instagram, no matter how "done" they are. Our home is most definitely a work in progress, but that always means there is something for me to do or change. Why not show how we currently live instead of waiting for the "reveals"?! I love seeing little vignettes and people's every day lives, which is why I love Instagram so much. Click here if you want to follow along with LLL. We have made a few changes to our eat in kitchen area recently, and are planning a few more. Here it is in its current state.

The sunburst mirror was a DIY from a long time ago, and I have always loved it. I am actually thinking about moving this to our covered patio, but am still debating. I would probably replace it with another mirror. I love mirrors and you can never have enough in my book! I also painted the back door black soon after we moved in and I love it.

This room sits at the back of the house next to three long windows that let in a ton of natural light. I can't open or close these, but I wouldn't change them. All things light and bright, please! The black door leads to our covered back patio. As a frame of reference, the kitchen is to the left and the family room is to the right. I recently made over this OLD table and chairs and we added some new lead chairs. I snapped this shot of the empty space while the table and chairs were in the garage.

The fiddle leaf fig loves her home in this corner and had recently sprouted about 8 new leaves! I know I should probably move her outside this time of year, but I hate to disrupt her mojo! I also need to do an entire separate post on how much I love cell shades. We have light gray ones at the back of the house, and I can't say enough good things about them. They are open all day and we close them at night. I will be framing some typography art to go behind the FLF, I just haven't gotten around to it yet! :)

The rug is from Ballard Designs. I just recently bought two more of these for our mudroom space. It's indoor/outdoor and super easy to clean. It's durable and perfect for underneath a table that has children up to it.

I am also currently on the hunt for a new light fixture. We chose this when we originally moved in as a slight upgrade to what the builder was going to put in, but I'm not feeling it anymore. I am drawn to so many styles of lighting, it's going to be hard to choose!

The tabletop gets changed around… a lot. Because we do eat here often, whatever is in the center has to move easily, which is why a tray works for me. I will have much more on the table/chair project in an upcoming post. See below for sources and links to DIY projects!

Meet "Jewel", Fiddle Leaf Fig
Propagating a Fiddle Leaf Fig
DIY Sunburst Mirror
Blue Chairs: World Market (no longer available)
White Tray: Thrifted
Ginger Jars: Thrifted, Ross
Chevron Rug: Ballard Designs
Wood Table/Chairs: 12 Years Old (redone twice) (post to come)!

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