The Scenery House

You Have to Start Somewhere – The Second Floor

April 30, 2017

I shared the listing photos of the first floor of our house last time and I’m back to show you the second (and third!) floor of our house, just as we first saw them.

This is the landing. And as I mentioned last time, the entryway/staircase/hallway walls were painted white when we first saw it but isn’t it nice to know it used to be this color? Dried flower arrangement on a door – the perfect touch. More chairs! From this view, you can see the smaller of the 3 bedrooms and the door to the 3rd floor.

This is the smaller bedroom and one that belonged to a teenage girl. It has two small square windows which are very cute and painted white. There are, of course, two kinds of window treatments on these windows. Oh yeah, and peep that chair rail.

Next is what we are affectionately still calling “the green room.” This was a boy’s room with a light space theme. The boob lamp on the ceiling has a great space design that glows in the dark. Our guests have been loving it.

This leads us to the bathroom. THE BATHROOM. Girl. Patterns on patterns on patterns in here. The toile shower curtain matches the 2nd layer of window treatments matches the sconce shades matches the skirt that was GLUED onto the original pedestal sink. When we moved in, the toilet had been replaced along with the shower curtain which now matched the wallpaper exactly. Oh, did you notice the wallpaper? Did you notice the border on top of the wallpaper? And lastly, because the more I stare at this picture, the more I remember: the shower curtain rings were covered in black ruffle covers like tiny scrunchies.

This is the master bedroom, which is pretty huge. There is more chair rail in here which I ripped down during our first weekend of ownership. Very fancy in here like a bed and breakfast. So many window treatments and so many cobwebs behind them.

Here’s the other side. The wardrobe is placed in front of a space that used to be a fireplace. There’s a nice bit of closet space in here plus a walk in closet built into the space above the sunroom. You can see the ensuite bathroom here and more tiny rugs leading to it. In this shot it looks like the original windows were still in place but were replaced with cheap vinyl windows when we bought it.

This leads us to the 3rd floor which runs the full width of the house and is finished. It has an exposed brick chimney and 4 small windows.

Here’s the other side. This is a great space despite the shiny walls. The unfortunate thing is that the former owners kept their cat up here and it didn’t take the move very well. The whole floor has a terrible cat pee smell, even after we removed the carpet and scrubbed the wood floors underneath them. I’m not sure if refinishing or painting the floors will help remove the smell. I have great hopes for this space as either a big extra bedroom or a photo studio space.

And that’s it for the listing tour! Through all of the extra stuff (so extra), I hope you see the amazing potential we saw, still see, and keep finding more of.

Interior Styling The Scenery House

Sneak Peek: Bathroom Details with Serena & Lily

April 24, 2017

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

When Serena & Lily asked me to review one of their products I couldn’t have been more excited. Their line is sophisticated, elegant and downright classy – a few things I aspire to be. Andy and I have been working hard to get our home’s original black and white tiled bathroom restored and pretty again and although I’m not ready to do a full reveal yet, I want to show you some details.

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

I’ve been shopping around for accents to go with our newly refreshed bathroom so this little partnership was perfectly timed. I chose the Serena & Lily Fouta Bath Collection as a modern yet timeless complement to this classic room. Our new set of hand towels and bath towels in Dove Grey pair beautifully with our freshly painted blush walls.

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

Pink tones and gray tones are a classic combination and work well with the white and black tile accents. The towels are bright white with wide light gray stripes and thin, darker gray stripes. The towels have a soft woven cotton front with a terry backing to give the elegant look of a Turkish towel with the absorbency and feel of a terry towel. These really feel so soft on the hands and are lovely to use.

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

Although we have an ensuite bathroom in our master bedroom, I prefer this bathroom with its feminine vibe and perfect sunlight. Whenever we have guests, I give them full use of this room and try to make it as tidy and useful as possible. With no available storage to speak of, I added an IKEA MOLGER cart to hold guest towels, a few essentials and some of my skincare favorites.

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

The bath towels even look pretty hanging to dry. Although the towels are gray with a bright white base, the white works well with our old tiles and doesn’t make them look dingy in comparison.

Classic blush bathroom with Serena & Lily Towels

Here’s a closer look at the front and back layers of the towel. Because these towels are comprised of two layers vs. the typical single layer, they require just a little extra futzing while folding to make them look crisp. I love these as summer towels because they are soft and light and thus dry quickly compared to our everyday thicker towels. The color is just as expected and the fabric and stitching are of excellent quality. The extra touch of class these towels add is exactly what the room needed.

I can’t wait to show you the full reveal of this room!

This post is sponsored by Serena & Lily. All opinions are my own.

Interior Styling The Scenery House

But What Rug Goes Best with Those Dark, Moody Walls?

April 9, 2017

I love rugs. When I decorate, I usually find myself picking a rug first and then building the whole room around it. And that’s probably the issue here because I started decorating our living room without a plan, just a bunch of quick decisions.

Here’s where we are now, no art on the walls and sporting a giant rug pad. We have the rug pad because I ordered a big traditional Persian rug the whole way back in November (this has been quite the saga) but decided it was just too much red and blue and shipped it back.

I went with dark walls to make the room cozier and bring out the unpainted woodwork – plus, I’ve been seeing them everywhere and they look gorgeous. To balance that out, I picked a light gray KIVIK from IKEA because it was budget friendly, the room is suited for a large sectional and we were dying to sprawl out in here. Our coffee table is marble with an iron base and I’ve brought in black and white and pink accents. And now I’m stuck.

A quick note on our TV situation – there just isn’t a great place for a TV in our living room but we love hanging out in here and watching Netflix, so we came up with a solution. We decided to put the TV on a cart that we can roll away into the sunroom when we want to be fancy for guests. The extension cord is temporary until Andy and my dad rewire a closer outlet into a 3 prong. Dealing with old house electrical is a treat and probably deserves its own post.

At the other end of the living room is Andy’s record collection and listening nook. In our apartment, his record collection was kept in the dining room and we were really happy to have room for it in our living room. The shag rug is too small for the space but works for now until we figure out the whole larger rug situation.

The room is a large rectangle and needs a rug that is at least a 9×12. That could be a lot of look and has the potential to change the vibe of the room. And at that size, it’s also a big spend so I want something that will last us a long time without feeling dated. With this in mind, it makes the most sense to go with something either traditional or simple. Andy would love a thicker, densely piled rug so flatweaves are out. To keep things clean, modern, and flexible, I’m thinking neutral is the way to go. That way, I can refresh accessories over time to make this thing last.

Here are some options I’m looking at:

[ 1. Tiger Stitch Rug | 2. Niles Rug | 3. Carmel Hand Knotted Rug | 4. Arlequin Cream Wool Rug | 5. Essouara Rug | 6. Basket Weave Textured Wool Rug ]

Here’s each option in mood board form.

This Tiger Stitch Rug from West Elm caught my eye months ago but its availability date keeps getting moved. It is ivory and navy and is likely to look lovely with our walls. The availability shifts and lack of additional product photos makes me hesitate on ordering this one.

The Niles Rug from Serena & Lily has a distinctly modern visual texture from the gray lines but enough imperfections to make it more classic. This is a very pricey option but a really nice one.

Another spendy option is the Serena & Lily Carmel Hand Knotted Rug. This gives a traditional vibe which would go well with the kilims I have throughout our home but is also an overall neutral.

Morrocan style rugs are pretty timeless but I’m wary of how trendy they’ve been lately. This pattern on this Arlequin Cream Wool Rug from eCarpetGallery might be unique enough and the price is great.

This is another beautiful Morrocan style rug with a modern twist in the form of small abstract shapes in muted colors. The Essouara Rug from Anthropologie is one of my favorites and looks insanely comfy.

Last up is this very neutral but very textured rug. It’s the Basket Weave Textured Wool Rug from Rejuvenation and it’s the type of rug that would add the right kind of visual texture but not steal the show.

Good heavens, please help. Which of these neutral options is your favorite? Am I going in the right direction with the neutral rugs or should I be thinking color?

Interior Styling The Scenery House

Get Your Glooms Out – How to Refresh Your Bedroom for Spring

April 4, 2017

This is our first spring with a house and the first time I’ve really thought about refreshing a room for a season. This past winter was also the first time I purchased winter-specific bedding as it was the first time in 7 years that our heating costs weren’t rolled in with our rent. Although we had the privilege of not paying for our heat, we also couldn’t control it and thus lived in a constant tropical state. The thought that spring would ever really be here hadn’t occurred to me until the Leesa Mattress folks asked me to write about spring cleaning. So, I set about figuring out what it means to clean and refresh for spring and it ended up being a big, satisfying mood booster.

Our down duvet and flannel duvet cover served us well this winter – our old house has drafty windows but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Right now, in Pittsburgh, the weather is really thinking about warming up and I think we’re finally through the weird in-between season where it will be 70 degrees one day and drop to 20 degrees the next.


[ Nate Berkus Collonade White Sheets | Organic Washed Cotton Duvet Cover | Dash Stitch Throw ]

I swapped out our heavy down duvet for a lighter down alternative version that will work well for us all the way through summer. I put away the flannel duvet cover and replaced it with a fresh white duvet with gray stitch details. There will be many chilly nights between now and summer so I added a throw for some extra warmth, color and texture. The sheets are a blush pink color with stripes and dashes which is about as much color as I can handle in bedding. Can you tell I have a thing for dash prints?


To help diffuse the bright spring and summer sun, we added some IKEA SKOGSKLOVER rolling shades that also add privacy. We’re working on adding these to all the windows in our house but for now, they’re just on the front and back windows. The IKEA shades are the perfect fit for our windows and look much more expensive than they are at about $20 each. They retract slowly as if motorized with just a tiny tug.

I’m so excited about the new, cheerier cut flowers that start showing up as spring rolls in. These delicate anemones are one of my favorite flowers.

Here are my tips for prepping your bedroom for spring:

  • Dust your walls and ceilings, get those cob webs hiding in the corners and on the ceilings. I like to use a Swiffer duster wipe on a floor wand.
  • Give your rugs that extra vacuum, maybe even vacuum underneath them for good measure.
  • Switch out winter linens for lighter ones. Textiles lighter in visual weight and actual weight will freshen your space and keep you comfy.
  • Drape a light blanket on your bed for chillier nights.
  • Swap out winter candles for cut flowers and greenery.
  • Take this opportunity to rotate or flip your mattress, because when else will you remember?

The idea for this post came from the folk at Leesa Mattress but it is not a sponsored post. All captured spider webs, dusted dust, loads of laundry and opinions are mine.

Before and After Old House Design The Scenery House

New House First Steps – The Dining Room

March 20, 2017

Before moving in, the first room we tackled was the dining room. It was low hanging fruit (that’s a phrase people use, yes?) as it’s a smaller room and one for which we already had the necessary furniture. It’s not quite finished yet but it is the only place we’ve hung anything on the wall. Lemme show you where we started.

As you’ll remember from this post, this is what the dining room looked like when we first saw it. It was stuffed with furniture and being used as a TV room.


Here it is all cleaned out. The rug was hiding some dark and pretty scratched up floors. The window treatments had been covering… most of the windows.


One of the first things I did for our house was to remove almost all of the chair rail. It was not original and was probably added sometime in the 80s or 90s. Chair rail is usually reserved for dining rooms but our home also had it in two bedrooms and the breakfast nook/mudroom. Removing chair rail isn’t too tough, you just slide a blade along the top and bottom edges to break the caulk and then use a pry bar to separate it from the wall. The real work comes from patching the area behind the chair rail where the nails have pulled some plaster out with them. Ready Patch is my go to for all patching and is really the best thing out there to repair small areas of plaster or wood. Our chair rails had wallpaper behind them with raised layers of paint above and below. I scraped off the wallpaper, patched, sanded and patched and sanded again in perpetuity for ever and ever.

I am a slow and meticulous painter which means it takes me an eternity to finish a room, so I wanted to reduce the number of coats I had to apply. I used Behr’s Marquee paint in Cameo White instead of my favorite white, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. This paint is pretty amazing. It’s guaranteed 1 coat coverage as long as you use their colors – you can’t have them color match and still keep the guarantee. The paint has great coverage and I only had to go back through and touch things up in a few areas, I’d call it something like one and a half coats.




There are lovely built-ins with beveled glass doors housed in two corners of the room on the exterior wall. The inside was painted a 90s cranberry shade that was too warm for the stained wood. I painted the inside with Behr’s Premium Plus Ultra color-matched to Benjamin Moore’s Raccoon Fur. This color works so well to show off our black and white serving pieces and our growing ceramics collection.


[ceramics: yuki vase | arc ceramic bowl]

[ shapes towel | bowl ]

Our credenza used to hold our TV in the living room of our apartment but is now being used in the dining room. It’s great for laying out snacks (usually just 10 kinds of hummus) when we entertain. Inside are tons of board games as we are more into game nights in than big nights out.


Our bright kilim brightens the room and is a favorite piece we picked up from eBay for the apartment. The dining table and chairs were a fantastic $80 craigslist find that have been with us longer than we imagined. I love the ladder back chairs but the table itself leaves a lot to be desired. The top is a wood-look laminate and the legs are some kind of strange shape.

We swapped out the crystal chandelier for the popular IKEA SINNERLIG. This is a great, inexpensive fixture but I have plans to move it to our sunroom whenever I find the right replacement.

Although I’d like to hang more art in here, find the perfect table and new chairs, plus find the perfect chandelier, it feels very good for now, even almost done.

The Scenery House

You Have to Start Somewhere – The First Floor

March 6, 2017

This is the view from our dining room as of this weekend. I wish we could start here in my tale about our house but isn’t it better to start at the beginning?

To tell this story right (the story of our first house) I have to start by saying this is not our dream house. We fell in love with a different house in perfect condition in a fantastic school district. It was a Tudorish-Craftsman home with leaded and stained glass windows, tons of built-ins, infinite charm and a fantastic river view. It had been meticulously cared for and loved and it was perfect. But it was not to be. We did not buy our dream house, with all its Hansel and Gretel charm, and we were heartbroken.

On our search for a home, we had looked at some serious fixer uppers, one with a roof so rotted that moisture caused mold in the basement 4 stories down. And then there was the one with an actual spring running through a wall in the basement. We were willing to do a ton of work for a house we would love someday but had to draw the line at black mold and unintentional water features.

When I first saw the listing for what would become our home, it was the sunroom that caught my eye. Surrounded by busy wallpaper, I saw the most amazing windows. As I perused the details, I that it had central air, a deck, 2 bathrooms, a 1st floor powder room, and a 2 car garage. All of these are things we never thought we would find in an older home within our budget. The listing photos gave us an idea of what we’d see but couldn’t quite prepare us for the visual overload we would see upon our first visit. The previous owner was a bit of a decorator. I must say that while everything did go together, there was just so much of all of everything.

See what I mean. Those. Windows. The wallpaper is somewhat divisive – some people think we should keep it and some think we should burn it to the ground. I appreciate the quality of it and like that it is a reproduction of a historical pattern but it will not be staying. At closing, the previous owner made sure to tell us that it was very expensive and we might want to think twice before getting rid of it. Thanks!


Connected to the sunroom is the living room. It was so stiffly furnished that it was probably not actually a living room but more of a room never meant to be sat in. The walls in this room had yellow striped wallpaper and the windows were dressed with drapes, valances and shades.


The good news here is that the entryway walls were painted an off-white instead of cranberry for the showing. You’ll notice one of the best things about this house is that almost none of the woodwork has been painted. That is such a rare find and something we’re very lucky to have. The carpet on the stairs was the first thing to go the day we got the keys.


The dining room served as a TV room for the family who lived here before us. As you saw at the top of the post, they kept their dining table in the sunroom, which must have been awkward as it’s on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen. When we went to the first showing of the home, we barely noticed the corner built-ins through all the busy decor.

The kitchen had been updated with newer appliances and granite counter tops. The cabinets are in worse shape than they appear here and the layout is not ideal for us. With the kitchen, as with the rest of the house, we are taking our time to learn how we use it before making huge changes. The drapey valance in the kitchen is really something.

There could not be more chairs in here. We’re currently using the breakfast nook as a coffee nook, mudroom and Penelope’s dining room. In this photo, you get a great look at the aggressive wallpaper border that goes very well with ceiling fan.

I will end the tour of the 1st floor with the powder room. The bird’s nest mirror is a true treat and perfectly complements the birdcage ceiling light you cannot see. You also cannot see the wallpapered ceiling with a border of cherubs.

I can’t wait to share more before pictures of our house along with progress pictures. Undecorating this house did amazing things but also revealed a lot of lazy work and quick fixes. As the house begins to feel more and more like us and as we pour ourselves into fixing it up, we are shaping its future as our dream home. We are very proud of our home and the opportunity to show it the love and care that it deserves, cherubs and all

The Scenery House

The Story of Buying Our First Home

February 27, 2017


We bought a house! We are homeowners! We used to sit around and talk about how one day, some day, we’d have our own house. We were actually pretty sad to leave our apartment (we were there for 7 years!) but it was time for us to grow into our own home. Here is the house the second time we saw her, brimming with window treatments you can tell are too much even from outside.


She’s a lovely 1929 brick home with beautiful leaded glass windows. She has suffered from over decorating, overgrowth and neglect. Inside layers of wallpaper and curtains covered up details and outside trees turned to shrubs and covered windows and doors. And that’s to say nothing of the ivy covering almost every square inch of the yard.


We closed in July of last year and have been making lists, finding problems, finding more, and slowly making her pretty again with blood, sweat and tears.

Andy and my dad could not wait to trim down all the shrub trees blocking windows and doors around the house.


So much better. There’s a whole side door there!


And just look at those sunroom windows. As soon as I saw those windows, I knew this was the house for us.

We’ve done a lot inside the house too since we’ve moved in like removing almost all of the 80s/90s chair rail and wallpaper. We ripped up the carpeting and had the floors refinished, replaced a few light fixtures and did a good bit of painting. But there’s so much more to do – We need a new driveway! The powder room is a disaster! The master bath is depressing! I want a new kitchen! Every room needs to be painted! Wallpaper is holding walls together! What about a fenced in yard for Penelope? The whole 3rd floor could be a studio/office! We have no 3 prong outlets! Are you worn out yet? I am.

I’ve got a lot of before pictures, process pictures and not quite done pictures to share so stay tuned.