Drew and I seem to get more house projects done in the summer than any other time of the year (last summer we painted the living room, foyer, french doors, little hallway, and built a living room ottoman/bench (more about those here). This year we’ve painted the long hallway and kitchen, made over a side table, added some homemade pillows, and the project below). I’m not sure why, considering summer is always sweltering in NOLA. Maybe it is the longer daylight hours and general sense of excitement that summer brings? But, I’m not complaining! We’ve recently done a couple things in the foyer/dining room that were long overdue. Now it’s become one of our favorite rooms in the house!

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I’ve wanted a church pew for bench seating for our dining room for a long time. New Orleans doesn’t really seem to have an abundance of old church pews though. I’d looked and looked on Craigslist with no luck. But earlier this summer, my older sister, Blair, who lives in Nashville, TN, called me one day saying that her babysitter was selling one. She went to look at it and the dimensions were exactly what I was looking for! She bought it for me and stored it at her house until Memorial Day when she brought it to my hometown in Illinois for my dad to store until he had time to bring it to New Orleans for me. When Drew and I were visiting family over Memorial Day we got to see it for the first time and it was in a little rougher shape than I originally thought. All the transporting had broken the bottom of one of its legs and the seat was a little wobbly. My dad took it to a guy to have the leg fixed, seat reinforced, and he also sanded it down for me (the original finish was dirty and dingy –I think it had been left outside for a little bit and had some moisture damage).

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It still needs a little love, and I’ll eventually put a little more work into it and then probably seal it. But for now, I love it! Such a cozy spot in there now.

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Violet definitely approves of her new sunny napping spot! I wish I knew more about its history. I only know it came out of an old church in Nashville. I love having pieces with old stories in our home.

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Our second new piece of furniture is this lovely 1960’s mid-century modern china cabinet base. It also has quite the story! I’d been searching for a dresser like this for in here for a long time. We needed storage for our bar items and some overflow from the kitchen (cloth napkins for dinner, etc..) as well as Drew wanted a place to put the record player and store his records. New Orleans is also quite lacking in mid-century pieces, but I’d still been stalking Craigslist with no luck. Then on Facebook one day, a friend of mine from Southern Illinois posted a photo of this one that she’d seen and loved at a local antiques shop, but didn’t have a place for. I immediately texted my little sisters begging them to go find it for me. They both had to work, but a couple days later, right as I was getting ready to board a plane to NYC for my fabric design workshop, Jill called me and said she was on her way over there to look for it. When I landed in New York I had several text messages waiting for me, including a receipt of the deposit she’d made on it for me (yay Jilli!). She even talked them down in price for me and I got it for a steal! (double yay!)

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Once I was back from NYC, I called and paid for it over the phone, then my dad went over and picked it up for me. It worked out perfectly that he already needed to bring me my church pew, so he was able to bring this down too in the same trip. I waited most of the summer for them, but he finally brought them down a couple weekends ago. It is so perfect for what we needed and in amazing shape. The side cabinets are perfect for storing records!

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Finally having the dresser in place spurred on the next project I’d been wanting to tackle in here for a while — wall shelving! With all the horizontal surfaces in here (dresser, table, console table, side table) all at close to the same height, we really needed something with some height in here to balance everything else out.

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These shelves make such great use of otherwise mostly wasted space in our house. Actually this wall is the least shown view of our house on my blog! I don’t think I’ve posted a picture of this wall for several years since Drew’s old desk used to live here. The last couple years it has been a mostly empty space or a storage space for supplies of whatever project we were working on at the time. I LOVE it now!

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I love that it provides a place for barware/glass storage, plants (that Violet kept getting into elsewhere), art, etc… I’ve been wanting to create a welcoming entry area in our home for years and this area with the mirror is finally getting us there! I can’t decide if I want to also hang a couple coat hooks up here as well. The top shelves especially could use a little more styling. I’m thinking of putting a big fern or something up there. We also need more lighting in this area of the room, so maybe a hanging lamp as well?

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The rails, brackets, and wood are all from Lowe’s. The rails and brackets were originally white and we spray painted them oil-rubbed bronze. They are screwed into studs, so they aren’t going anywhere! This is actually probably the most secure thing that we’ve ever put on the walls in our house! Sidenote: we also figured out the best way to find studs in old homes with plaster walls! Find an outlet on the wall (there is one behind where the dresser is) and drill a screw into either side of it to see if it hits a stud. Electrical boxes for outlets are pretty much always attached to a stud. Once you find one, measure 16 inches over in either direction and you should find all the studs. (We did have to drill several holes in the wall to accomplish this. We did it close to the bottom of the wall though and I actually forgot about even filling them in. No one can see them with the dresser there.) With plaster walls like this, there is wooden slatting behind the walls, so using an electric stud finder never worked for us. This electric box and measure trick worked like a charm though! These railing systems are pretty inexpensive for the impact they make! I plan on eventually staining the shelves a light honey color, but wanted to live with them as is for a bit while I made up my mind for sure. At first I was worried about having too much wood in the room already, but I don’t think I really want to paint them either (there is a lot of white in here too with the door and trim and blinds). So I’m going to do a lighter tone than the rest of the wood surfaces in here, but something that isn’t as stark as raw wood.

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So there you have it! A full view of our entire foyer/dining room area. I just love how “us” this room feels now!

P.S. Did you see how many pictures Violet made it into? That pillow on the console table is her “perch” and she loves it up there. Easily spends half her day or more there.

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