House update: one headboard, two desks, one table and the best backpack ever

When I have the pleasure of seeing some of you in real life, you often ask “How is the house?” The short answer is that the house is good. But if the question is “How is the house coming along?” the answer is a little more complicated. Because the house is coming along, but slowly. I still don’t have most of they key items I’ve been hunting for.

That said, I have had a few small victories. Here are three. And a bonus #4 that made all the rest pale in comparison.

1) Headboard for Noah’s room
When we first moved Noah into a full bed (previously our guest room bed and Pat’s bed in Chicago), I casually looked for a headboard. But I never found anything I liked, and it didn’t seem like a good use of our decorating budget. I didn’t agree with Pat that “boys don’t need headboards,” but I had pretty much stopped trying to find one.

Then one day I popped into the Pennies for Change thrift store. I think of that thrift store more for clothes than furniture, but it turns out they do have a small selection. And right away I fell in love with this 1940s headboard.

It was $48, a little much for a thrift store, but significantly less than buying one new. Plus I could just stick it in the back of my CR-V and take it home.

Pat did have to order some hardware off of Amazon to connect it to the bed frame, but all in all, it was a winner. It reminded me of how much a headboard really completes a bedroom, and how anxious I am to find one for ours.

It also clarified for me the look I have in mind for Noah’s room: something like “1940s Boys Life magazine goes back to school.” I love that wholesome, classic, academic all-boy look, even though I have no clue if Noah will turn out to be any of those things.

But maybe that’s what I had in mind when I fell for my next purchase this morning.

2) Yellow School Desks
I went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore this morning looking for a bench to use in the garage where the boys put their shoes on. I’ve been looking for a while, and have seen a couple things on Craigslist, but hadn’t found something that can be kept outside but is versatile enough to use in other parts of the house if needed. Then I walked into the store, and saw, this. I’m pretty sure there was a halo of light around it.

It was just what I was looking for: the right size, sturdy, attractive. As you can see, Rory took right to it. But then I looked at the price tag. $175! That really surprised me, considering we were at a thrift store, not an antique or consignment store. I was so bummed. But I just couldn’t do it.

I had to drag Rory off the bench kicking and screaming (and trust me, I tried to take this as a sign that I should buy the bench). We headed toward the back, where I was hoping to find a couple extra chairs we could use in the kitchen when we have guests. I didn’t find any. But I did find two solid wood school desks, painted bright yellow, that I couldn’t walk away from.

I wasn’t sure exactly where in the house I would put them, but I could think of several places they might work. And even better, they were $15 each. I mean, how could I not buy them? As soon as I got them home, I remembered that Noah had been asking for a chair in his room. This probably wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, but it was the perfect fit.

(Side note: Apologies for my photography. It reminds me of the awful photos I see in Craigslist ads. If you really want to sell that dining set, maybe you should turn a light on and remove the red Solo cups from the table and the coats from the back of the chairs?)

Anyway, I love the yellow with the gray walls, and its also right next to a navy blue bookcase, which means not only is this “school days” themed, but also Marquette themed. Oh, oh! Just as I wrote that it dawned on me that I have my dad’s varsity letter from playing college basketball. So what if that the “M” stands for Milton College instead of Marquette. I’m totally going to put that in a shadow box, along with some black and white pictures of my dad at that age. (After all, Noah’s middle name is his.) Okay, that was exciting.

Once the furniture is solidified, these will also go up on the wall.

These were my sister’s idea. I had posted on Facebook about not knowing what to do with all the dust jackets from Noah’s books, which I didn’t use but felt bad about throwing away, and she suggested framing them as artwork. These are super cheap plastic frames from Michaels, but they did the trick.

One of my favorite things about the desks is that they still have the names carved into them by some bored kids back in the day.

See? There’s “John” and his friend “J.E.C.” whom I can only imagine is “Jesus E. Christ,” the less popular cousin of Jesus H. Christ. Anyway, these personal touches are the same thing that attracted me to this little chalkboard that I bought several years ago. It’s the kind that a child would have had at his desk to do his math problems or write spelling words. It’s been in our kitchen (last year Elf on the Shelf left his messages there; most recently it housed the countdown to our move), but maybe after Christmas it will migrate to Noah’s room, too.

3) Kitchen Table

This is the one thing on the list that I have been actively hunting for. Maniacally hunting for, you might say. And why not? We use our kitchen table (currently a card table which is now permanently stained with spaghetti sauce) at least five times a day. It is the undisputed heart of our home.

We have more space for a table in this kitchen than our last one, and we expect – and hope for – people to join us for meals. So a bigger table was a must. I also really wanted a pedestal table so we could fit the most people possible around it. I’ve looked everywhere: from Amazon and Overstock to Pottery Barn and West Elm, at every resale, unfinished furniture, consignment and antique store in a 10 mile radius. I came really close to buying several times.

And then we saw one on Joss and Main that seemed perfect. Dark wood, pedestal with a more modern design. It’s 54″ – possibly slightly too big (Lord help us), but hopefully just right. It was more expensive than the secondhand stuff we had looked at, but still within our price range. After much fretting about the no returns policy, especially considering we have never seen it in person, we decided to go for it.

I can’t post a picture yet, because I’m afraid I will jinx it. But once it’s situated, surrounded by kids and covered in applesauce, I will be sure to give you a peek.

I’m still hoping to find my other big things – a rug for Noah’s room and the living room, a chair for the TV room – but starting next week, I’m declaring a moratorium on shopping for house stuff.

I need to turn my attention to preparing for the holidays; not only decorating and buying gifts and planning menus, but also my attitude. It’s been so easy to get wrapped up in my endless list of what I want for the house that I often don’t stop to appreciate how much I already have. Just the other day, Elephant Journal stopped me in the well-worn tracks I was making into some store with this.

Which leads me to my fourth and final recent purchase.

4) The Noah and Rory Backpack of Potential
This week, my friends at McKinney launched this amazing campaign for Urban Ministries of Durham. Please check it out and consider supporting their mission by buying naming rights to one of the many basic items that so many of us (I’m raising my hand as a #1 offender) take for granted every day. Come on, do not pass up this opportunity to name a tampon or urinal after someone you love.

I named this backpack in honor of my kids.

And excited as I am about my new finds for the house, I can say with certainty that of everything I’ve bought in the last couple weeks, this is my favorite.