Dining Room Mood Board

Of all the different rooms in the new house, the first one we decided to work on was the dining room. Everywhere I look I see these amazing dining rooms, and frankly I wanted one, too.

Can you believe we have been using two outdoor lawn chairs since we moved into the house? It’s 100% true. And there are 3 of us. Do the math.

Original Dining Room

We knew we wanted something that would above all be comfortable. Something that could be used for pizza and beer one night, and entertaining the next, plus the occasional game night.

The space is right in the middle of our house too. The windows you see get great evening light. The ceiling is tall (around 12 feet) and has the ugliest medieval chandelier you have ever seen. There are no real walls separating it from the kitchen or living room. It’s just right there.

Our budget was around $2,500. Designing a dining room on a budget is never easy – especially when it gets heavy daily use and needs to look amazing.

But we think we came up with something perfect.

You’ve heard the phrase “measure twice, cut once”? Well our mantra is “have everything in hand before starting the project”.

Yes, this takes planning, and resources, and time. But in the end it makes the process go so much faster.

I keep a running list on my phone of all the things I find across the web that inspire me. I know some use Pinterest or other on-line board tools, but for me I just use the notepad app that came on my phone. I can add text, links, and images, and it’s easy to share via text with my wife, or anyone else.

Then when it comes time to get serious I use Air Drop to move it from my phone to my MacBook Air. Makes everything fast and easy.

Plus it’s always with me. If I’m at the hardware store, I know what I need.

Here’s what we decided on:

Table: West Elm Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table – Walnut. We opted for the middle size 72-80″ based on the size of the room. It easily seats 6 and doesn’t look too heavy for the space.

Chairs: Some people like to mix and match. I personally like them to all be the same. But they have to be comfortable. I’ve sat in the West Elm Baltimore Dining Chair before and they are super stylish and comfy. Plus they are the perfect height for this table.

Rug: Alexander Home Isabelle in Ocean / Rust – 8×10 size. You can see the outline with blue painters tape on the image above. We got it on sale with a tip from Chris Loves Julia ~ thanks!

Chandelier: West Elm Mobile Chandelier. 50″ in Antique bronze. We will get some LED Edison lights as they aren’t supplied with the fixture. 60 Watt 5000K, dimmable.

Plant: A nice snake plant in a white pot with wooden legs. I try to get them from my local nursery, but when they don’t have any I just get it from Amazon. The snake plant pot I’m loving is from West Elm. It’s the white one with the wooden legs. Should fit nicely in the corner, dontcha think?

Paint: Benjamin Moore in Simply White.

Have you used any of these for inspiration? Share in the comments below!


The Brown Patch

Once upon a time, there was a man. This man had had his mid-life crisis, and was beginning to do the things that older men do. He wore a lot of Hawaiian shirts. He kept his car very clean. He spent a little too much time on lawn care.

This last job was one of his favorites. Edging, mowing, blowing. Weed control and fertilization. He was very proud of the fact that he only used natural fertilizers. Organic all the way, baby!

Then one day, seemingly overnight a large patch of his turf turned brown. Not the entire lawn, just one section on the side of the house.

The man didn’t think it was something wrong with the soil, because just a few feet over, on his neighbor’s lawn it was still green.

No, this was a watering issue he quickly determined.

But the sprinklers went off on schedule – he could hear them when he would get up to go to the bathroom (as older men frequently do).

Further investigation was needed.

He decided to manually check the sprinklers for that area. Lo and behold zone 4 was set to ZERO minutes. Buy why he wondered?

After turning the system on, and setting zone 4 to water for 30 minutes, it quickly became apparent to the man that 2 sprinkler heads were broken. The water gushed out of the ground like old faithful.

It just so happens that in addition to the sprinklers doing their job, mother nature had been helping throughout the winter and spring months with some rain of her own. Then once the temperature during the days started to hit 100, and the rain stopped, the sections of the lawn that were getting water were doing fine, but the areas that didn’t get any sprinkler water didn’t end up so well.

So the man went to the hardware store and got some adjustable flexible risers, new sprinkler heads, and a few fittings to make everything come together.

An hour later, when he re-tested zone 4, everything worked perfectly!

Now this section will get a little extra water for the next few days.

I just hope I caught it in time. I mean – The MAN hopes he got to it in time.


What does your Dining Table say about you?

When we decided to move, one of the conditions we set early, was “nothing ugly is coming to the new house” That meant our old black IKEA dining table was getting donated, and we would have to find a new dining table for everyday use.

You would think it would be easy. It’s not.

Did you know that dining room tables come in different shapes? Each says something about you – and I’m going to put on my POP-psychology (did you see the Dad joke in that) hat on, and let you know what each means. Take each with a grain of salt, or take it personally. I don’t care 🙂

Rectangular Dining Table

If you have a Rectangular dining table (ie farmhouse style), you like tradition. The Dad sits in the Power seat, at the head of the table, the wife sits at the other end (typically closer to the kitchen), and then guests are seated on the longer edges. If you arrange your guests boys on one side and girls on the other side, you are way to organized, and if you alternate boy-girl-boy-girl then you may have control issues.

Square Dining Table

Nothing says family time like a square dining table. Growing up, this was the style table we had in our breakfast room, and everybody had their “side”.

Since it’s a square, all sides are equal, which prevents arguments between siblings. Plus it is an equal reach for everyone to get that last slice of pizza.

Round Dining Table

If you have a round dining table, you are into harmony. Life is a circle, and your choice in dining room furniture choice is all about creating peace and calm and tranquility. Everyone at the table is equal, and should feel comfortable sharing their feelings

I really like the clean modern look of these tulip style round tables. They come in a variety of sizes and materials, and can fit in almost any space. The round-ness breaks up the typical square angles of modern dining rooms.

Oval Dining Table

Of all the different kinds of dining room tables, oval tables are my favorite. They combine all the different features of each of the different styles, but are softer.

Done wrong, this style can look traditional, and dated, and just plain old, but if you get the materials and proportions just right, it’s magical!

I found some guidelines that were helpful when looking for a table for your space:

Table placement: In terms of space, try to leave 36” from the edge of your table to the nearest wall or piece of furniture.
Table accessibility: Ensure your guests have ample room to sit down and rise from the table with ease.
Chair spacing: Leave 24”-30” per chair for comfortable seating.

What’s your favorite style table?

Weekly Recap

Moving to the Suburbs

Did I just have my mid life crisis? Actually, I think I had it about 6 months ago when we sold our cute Ranch Style Home on a tree-lined street in an old neighborhood to buy this 5 year old home in a new subdivision 20 minutes away.

Before I start oversharing all the great things of our new house (good things come to those who wait), indulge me to talk about why we left our starter home.

The old house was built in 1976. It was a great 1-story. Soaring ceilings, amazing light, in a great neighborhood. When we bought it over 10 years ago it was perfect for us at the time.

But, the more we lived there, and the more we grew, the house wasn’t growing with us.

I found myself spending more time (read money) on needed repairs to keep the house up, instead of on projects that I wanted to do.

There was the roof leak, and then the A/C went out. The floors never were quite right, and the kitchen that we had big plans to expand, just never quite happened.

I learned where my level for remodeling really was! I’m not a moving walls kind of guy. I prefer the weekend handyman stuff – painting, building and installing cabinets, and moving a couch from this wall to that.

It is so important to know when it is time to move on, and take those next big life steps.

But oddly enough it wasn’t really a conscious decision. It just sort of happened between my wife and myself.

What I’m trying to say is that we didn’t PLAN it.

One Sunday afternoon, sometime around early fall of 2019, we were just sitting on the couch in the old house. I was looking at homes in the MLS for clients (I’m a Realtor), and my wife was fussing with her phone.

“My phone is broken. I need a new one” she said as she looked over to see what I was doing, and what I was going to say.

As she looked over, she saw this photo on my screen:

The black and white cement tile caught her eye.

“What’s that house” she said.

I think I said something like “I don’t know – let’s go get you a new phone and take a look at it while we are out”.

So we hopped in the car, and drove 20 minutes north. During the car ride, we talked about how much the house cost (it was the same price as our current place was worth), what kind of neighborhood this was, and what were the details of the place.

We arrived and I parked in the driveway. Using my Realtor key, I opened the front door (the house had been vacant for a while, but was incredibly clean).

Immediately upon opening the front door, we could see through the entire house, to the large picture windows at the back, and into the canyon where the trees were just starting to change into their fall colors.

Ari, began to run around, looking for all the cool places.

Immediately I knew this was the one.

Of course, I didn’t want to get too excited. Was my wife on the same page? Did she feel the same way? I knew she did when she asked “this place is the same price as our house?”

Translation: We can live here? and our monthly payments will be the same?

“Yes”, I replied. Then I added the fact that since this house was newer, our utility bills and upkeep costs would be much less, even though the house was twice the size.

“well, if you want it, you know what to do”.

And so it started.


Start your Day HAPPY

Every Dad has said it – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Growing up my father would have a cup of coffee, and read the newspaper at the breakfast table while listening to the iconic voice of Bob Edwards on Morning Edition.

My go to (and to-go) breakfast is a piece of avocado toast with egg, and some Everything but the Bagel Seasoning sprinkled on top.

It’s simple fast and nutritious, but can get sort of boring.

To keep it exciting (while still staying on my diet), I got the Happy Toaster.

OK, I’ll agree that it isn’t the most stylish toaster out there. There are many that are better looking, but none can give you inspirational sayings on your bread!

But it does a great job toasting.

The toaster can only do two pieces at a time. Each side has a little slot for one of eight different metal inserts with cute sayings or photos on it.

Unicorn Toast
Home Tour


Late in 2019 we moved into a newer home in a subdivision. It wasn’t our first home, and probably won’t be our last.

While it had all the features we wanted, bedrooms, bathrooms, location, and yard, inside it was 99% builder grade. It had the beige walls. The brown carpet. Standard light fixtures.

HIll Country Views
This is the amazing view we enjoy every day.

What appealed to us most was the light, the tall ceilings, and the amazing view of the canyon through the huge picture windows at the back of the house.

A previous owner had upgraded some of the window treatments, and installed some cool tile backsplash in the kitchen, but everything else is a blank slate.

We moved in, and then the Coronaviurs pandemic happened.

All our plans to decorate, update, and make the house our own got put on hold.

That was 6 months ago. Now we get to pick up where we left off.

Here are the original photos of our house when we bought it, with a quick note about why I love each room!