Archive | Virginia

Our House in Charlottesville // The Finished Product… Or Not!

I showed you the “before” photos of our house here, the “in between” photos during our renovation here, and then… I never came back with the final product! Because, to be honest, there is no “final” version of our house, especially when:

  • You have lived in it for less than a year, so it’s still very much a work in progress.
  • Your beautiful dog has 8 puppies in March (?!) and so the configuration of your home and yard changes for 8 weeks as you raise them.
  • You have a baby on the way (ONE MONTH TO GO), and so you’re going to be doing some necessary room changing and redecorating before he arrives (or at least you hope it will be done before he arrives).

All of this has prevented me from saying, “Yes, here is the perfect chance to take photos of our finished, completed house!” But I know a few of my friends have been waiting eagerly for these photos, and our house as it is right now captures a stage of life that will be here and gone.

So… here goes nothing!

ENTRANCE

Here is the entrance to our house today:

You can see what it looked like when we moved in right here. We worked hard to make this a useful, brighter space by adding the mirror and all the matching gray furniture. The padded bench includes storage for gloves, hats, mittens, sunscreen, sunhats, the Ergo, our picnic blanket… the list goes on and on!

I’m planning to move that plant (should I?), and I’m also planning to spray paint the white mirror a deep gold. Buuuut that’s a project I’ve been talking about for months. (I don’t really paint furniture. Never have. Maybe one day will. So intimidated by it!)

Shoe cabinet (this thing is amazing) and the entrance to the master bedroom (and Apartment B, as explained in this post). The open front door and the entrance to the living room/Apartment A.

ATTIC PLAYROOM

Now let’s walk up the stairs to the attic playroom… Before I finished decorating this corner of the playroom…
… and after! That lamp needed a shade. But, to be honest, I move things around all the time up here. The only thing I can’t move is the bookshelves, which Elliott strapped to the wall. Great peace of mind!

I’ve read a lot of books over the years about Montessori-style learning, and many of those principles are incorporated into the playroom: toys easily accessible at the kids’ height, objects and games made from natural materials and most without batteries, and a place for everything (and everything in its place… most of the time!). This book is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the Montessori method. My all-time favorite book about simple play spaces (and much more) is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne (<– and that’s a blog post I wrote about it in 2011!).

Looooooots of dress ups in that chest! The kids and their neighbor friends spend hours putting on plays for the parents with those clothes.

Remember when this space was completely unfinished, with no electricity or light fixtures, old broken windows, and the floor was damaged wood? It’s one of the most rewarding transformations of all!

The playroom is so much fun right now, but it’s about to get even better, I think. The big kids will be moving up here in a couple of weeks before the baby arrives. Elliott and I just need to hang blackout curtains first… and get the AC fixed so it’s cool enough to sleep at night! Their little white beds will go under each eave. I am excited to show you photos after the move! I think it’ll be so cute and even more functional than it is right now.

LIVING ROOM

Those first two photos were of our living room at Christmastime. After the holidays, Elliott and I moved some furniture around and finished hanging artwork, and now it looks like this:
And here is a panoramic photo of the whole room:

Our goal in this room was to provide plenty of seating for guests so that we could host friends and family, and we certainly did that at Christmas when Elliott’s entire family (11 adults and 4 kids) spent most of three days in this room! The white couch also folds down to be a single bed, and we’ve used that a lot lately. We also can blow up an air mattress in the attic playroom if we host a couple. Neither option is ideal, but both work for now until we have a designated guest room in the future.

For the curious, almost all the furniture in our living room is from World Market. I did find the rustic industrial coffee table on Amazon, and the bookshelf is an antique find from our newlywed days on Capitol Hill. The blue chair is from IKEA, and it’s so comfortable and has held up very well!

DINING ROOM & BATHROOM


We love this room! We spend a LOT of time in here with meals and snacks and schoolwork and craft projects, and it is a pretty, cheerful space. The dining table expands to fit up to 6 adults comfortably, but we’ve packed a dozen people around it at Christmas and done ok. ;)

For the curious, the light fixture is from Pottery Barn, the dining table and kids table are from IKEA, the midcentury modern dining chairs are from Amazon, the kids’ chairs are from Stokke, and most of the shelf organizational pieces are also from IKEA. The rug is from Rugs USA, and I love it — highly recommend!

The bathroom right off the dining room doesn’t look like much, but I try to keep it neat and tidy all the time. Everything has a very strict place (extra bath mat hung as soon as baths are over, white shower curtain always closed, two towels folded in thirds so they fit on the towel rack, etc.), and these standards keep this heavily-used bathroom pretty tolerable!

KITCHEN

Oh, this kitchen! It’s is tiny, and there is no dishwasher, and all the appliances came with the apartment when we bought the whole house, but… I love it despite all its flaws.

I’ve trimmed down every excess kitchen item I can think of so that I keep the essentials at my fingertips, and everything in this kitchen works hard (especially me, haha). I spend a lot of time washing dishes at this sink!

Those photos were all from around Christmas. I recently added a walnut magnetic knife strip to get rid of my knife block and save counterspace. I also bought a white magnetic paper towel holder, and now my paper towels are on the side of my fridge instead of my counter, which really helps, too.

Even though it’s small, we make many wonderful things in this little kitchen! Lena is posing with a chicken pot pie about to go into the oven, and below the kids are helping me make naan to go with our dinner of chicken tikka masala.

If/when we renovate this house, the kitchen will probably be the biggest and most wonderful change. In every single house we’ve lived in since we got married, I have been blessed by getting a brand new or top-of-the-line kitchen (Capitol Hill, Sicily, San Diego), so this little kitchen is a good place for me to get creative and keep things simple.

Elliott has offered multiple times to get me a portable dishwasher or even get one installed, but honestly I just can’t justify it. A portable dishwasher would be huge in this space, and an installation would involve demolition and the purchase of a machine in a kitchen that will probably only be like this for another year or so. I might change my mind when I’m exhausted with a new baby, but for now I don’t mind the calm of washing dishes in a quiet kitchen. Dish washing is “boring” so I generally get left alone while I’m cleaning up! ;)

Whenever I get frustrated (or the egg carton slips off the crowded countertop and I break six eggs again), I remember that this kitchen was intended for ONE person living in a small one-bedroom apartment, and yet we are a family of almost six living in two combined apartments… but still with just one tiny kitchen. I’m looking forward to larger appliances and more counterspace one day, but in the meantime, I’ll keep it simple and make it work!

MASTER BEDROOM 

As a child, I remember thinking that my parents’ bedroom was the one room that always got forgotten. We moved every few years for my dad’s job, and my mom transformed every dusty shell of a house into a gorgeous, comfortable home. My parents’ bedroom, though, had the most basic furniture and the same bedspread throughout my childhood, and there were generally books and papers and odds and ends piled everywhere. I thought, “I’ll try not to do that as an adult…”

… but the truth is, that is often how our bedroom is! Elliott works from home, and our bedroom is right next to the entrance to our house, so a lot of our mail, packages, and “to do” items end up in this room. We also keep our printer, shredder, filing cabinet, and family’s laundry basket in here; there just isn’t a better place for any of these things. If we ever renovate, Elliott will have an office!

My way of keeping the mess under control is to (a) make the bed neatly every single day and (b) keep our clothes out of sight in drawers or the laundry basket. With a baby joining us soon, Elliott and I are going to have to get rid of some of the things that have piled up in there, but in the meantime… you get one picture of the neatest part of this room, and that’s the only photo I have!

As for furniture sources, you’re probably sensing a theme here. ;-) Our bed, bedside tables, and bookshelf are all from IKEA, and you can’t see our Hemnes dresser and Brimnes wardrobe on the other side of the room, too. The jute rug is from Rugs USA.

BIG KIDS’ BEDROOM AND BATHROOM

After months of procrastinating, I finally organized the huge and beautiful bookshelf in the kids’ bedroom. There is still a lot going on in this space, but it feels much better organized now. Here are some photos taken at Christmastime (with glimpses of the bookshelf before I tidied it up):

If you’re curious, the kids’ beds are from IKEA and will expand to full-length twin beds as they grow. Their dresser is also from IKEA, and the glider and ottoman are by Dutailier. The rug is also from Rugs USA.

It’s hard to tell here, but the smaller tiles on the floor are actually a deep Mediterranean blue. I tried to make the bathroom feel clean and crisp with bright blue towels and rugs and a simple white shower curtain. Keeping it clean and clutter-free helps too!

FOREST’S ROOM & LAUNDRY ROOM

Remember when this room was the kitchen for Apartment B (more photos in this post)? Our contractor ripped out the sink and cabinets, and a plumber installed a washer/dryer hookup and a utility sink to turn this into a laundry room. On the other half of the room, our contractor removed the stove and oven, and we put Forest’s crib and shelf there.

I planned to have artwork hung over his bed before I shared this post, but… clearly didn’t happen! My plan is to get a few prints of baby woodland creatures from Etsy to hang on the bare walls. We’ll see if I actually ever get it done! His crib is the Bloom Alma Max, and his shelf is from IKEA.

I thought we’d be able to do laundry while Forest was sleeping (white noise!), but it’s just too disruptive.  Oh well! I have gotten very good at starting a load of laundry first thing and getting it washed and dried before he goes down for his nap around 12pm. Not so great at folding it before 9pm, though…

THE GARDEN

Elliott gets all the credit for our garden, both in the front yard and the back. He spent hours and hours in the winter planting hundreds of flower bulbs, but unfortunately they all came up around the time our puppies were playing in the front yard each day, and they totally destroyed each flower just as it was blooming. So sad!

I took these photos earlier today!

Now the puppies have been in their new homes for one week, and Elliott didn’t waste any time. He’s been working so hard this week planting vegetables and sunflowers, repotting rosemary and foxgloves, hanging flowering planters, and even installing new mailboxes for us and our tenants. He also built a structure with trellises and chicken wire in the backyard for passion fruit vines to grow over so that the kids will have a cool green cave to play in later this summer!

Elliott and I also spent a while last night choosing patio furniture now that the weather is nicer (cough… already hot… cough) and the puppies won’t be chewing on our new lounge chair legs. I’m excited to sit on the porch on pretty days with our new baby so soon!

Anyway, as can be seen by the big bags of potting soil and the random pots in the garden, there is still a lot of work to be done. As always! The joys and trials of home ownership — the projects are never finished. The rewards are so great, though.

And there you have it. Our home in Charlottesville, a work in progress, but a very dear place to all of us already in the nine short months we’ve lived here. I hope it looks like a welcoming, loving space with lots of room to learn, grow, and rest, both for our family and for visitors. That is what we aspire to, after all, according to the name of this blog! “Making room for a simple, hospitable life.” May it always be so.

18 :: in home renovation, home sweet home, Virginia

Sweet Summertime in Virginia

IMG_0009 So we took this trip to Virginia in early July, meaning I am only about a month behind! We flew home to surprise my mom on July 7, then spent an extra week there visiting family and savoring that awfully muggy green gorgeousness of a Virginia summer.

With my mom, we visited a local farm with a carousel, jumped through sprinklers, bravely pulled off band-aids, and rode the neighbor kid’s bicycles:

becca-garber-virginia-summer-1.jpg IMG_0119 becca-garber-virginia-summer-2 We also met Lena and Gil’s first and only cousin for the very first time! Eden, Elliott’s older sister, got married two years ago to Charlie, and their son was born in April. We were thrilled to meet him and spend as much time with him as possible!

IMG_0078 On Saturday morning I took the kids into D.C. to have breakfast at Jimmy T’s Diner with my sister, Emily. She lives a few blocks from where Elliott and I lived when we first got married!

IMG_0396 Later we all met up with our mom and her friend Berta to visit the Kenilworth Gardens in D.C. for the Lotus & Water Lily Festival. I had never seen a lotus in person, and they are so intricate and beautiful. I had also never seen an aunt who got her face painted right along with her niece and nephew… what a sport!

IMG_0211 becca-garber-virginia-summer-6 becca-garber-virginia-summer-3 IMG_0407 Another night, all the Garber siblings (and my sister) met at Jon and Erika‘s new apartment on Capitol Hill for a sibling picnic. Such a magical evening!

IMG_0100 IMG_0408 becca-garber-virginia-summer-4 In between visits to D.C., life at my parents’ house looked like this: wagon rides around the neighborhood and playing with toys on the living room rug. The stuff of childhood that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

becca-garber-virginia-summer-5 And then home again to San Diego and to Elliott, who we missed very much! Lena and Gil waited so patiently until they were buckled in their seats before they could open their backpacks and find the treat (gummy bears, I think) that I had stashed there for them.

IMG_0285 And finally, two great little travelers. I love them so!

IMG_0289 Some of you know that we’ve already made another trip back to the East Coast in the past month, so there is more updating to be done! Plus I’m excited to share my July book reviews, which hopefully will be coming soon with some good end-of-summer reads for you.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

xoxo

22 :: in DC, family, home sweet home, life lately, travel, Virginia

a post-wedding getaway to Chincoteague

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Elliott’s family has been visiting Chincoteague for about 20 years, long before I was ever in the picture.  Somehow we have missed these family vacations since we got married, and so this was my first time to see this beautiful corner of the world.  What a peaceful place!  The quiet water rising and falling with the tide, the herons and egrets dipping and diving for fish, the sunrises and sunsets that turn the marsh grasses golden and haloed with light.  After the joy and excitement of Eden and Charlie’s wedding, this was a sweet way for all of us to settle gently back to earth before going on with our regular lives.

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Morning on the dock.

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Kayaking with David… which we chose to do at low tide.  Whoopsies!

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The brave kayakers, tired but victorious after shoving ourselves through mud and battling the wind.

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Gil and his Grampa

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Peekaboo!  Auntie Jess found the perfect place to hang her hammock.

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Giggles with “Unca Davy”

  becca-garber-chincoteague-22 Thank you, Seth and Tracy, for the awesome outfit Gil is wearing.  Lena also enjoyed it back in the day!

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Ready to go for a bike ride!

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Erika and Jonathan (happy anniversary, you two!!!) pose by the map together…

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… and then Jess poses with her future husband.

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For Harry Potter fans, this has something to do with Harry Potter.

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The whole gang.  Photo taken while biking one-handed behind them and making them all look over their shoulders… thankfully none of us crashed!

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Sunset.

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Daddy and his girl.

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A Chincoteague pony!  Looks kinda like Misty.

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Cutie patooties.

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All the siblings played two games of Settlers in less than 24 hours. Elliott somehow won both of them.

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Last but not least, we watched a rocket go off from the NASA station!  Can you see the glow in the sky that is reflected in the water?  It was headed for the space station.  I didn’t even know we had a space station.  Did you?

7 :: in family, Virginia

Lena’s first haircut!

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As it’s now been over a year and a half (!) since Lena last had an at-home trim, I thought it might be a good idea to get her hair cut while we were still here in Virginia.  (This is what she looked like after her last hair trim.)  I wanted to get it cut to her shoulders, but Elliott vetoed that!  Anyone else have a husband and/or dad who loves long hair on his girl(s)?

Anyway, I took Lena to a little shop that just opened near my parents’ house.  I didn’t tell Lena too much about it beforehand, and I was worried that she’d freak out when someone else cut off her hair or would act out to the brushing/combing.  She hates it when I brush her hair!  (Mom tip: brush and fix your daughter’s hair while she’s eating breakfast.  She’ll be sitting still for at least three minutes.)

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Thankfully, she did really well, and mostly sat in awed silence.  I was so glad for that.  I don’t know how I would have handled a meltdown in the middle of the beauty parlor.  Everything must have been so new and amazing, and the haircut probably felt relatively relaxing.  She particularly enjoyed the finale…

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… and now is totally into hair dryers!

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The hairdresser took me very seriously and only cut off about an inch.  I thought “an inch” would be “oops, two inches!”  But it wasn’t, which I guess says good things about Great Clips, but means Lena’s hair is still long.  Oh well, I guess winter is coming.

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She looked so purty.  Off to get a frozen yogurt treat with her Grampa Garber!

11 :: in Lena, Virginia

Eden & Charlie are married!

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Many of you have probably seen on Facebook or Instagram, but my sister-in-law Eden got married on Sunday!  They were wed in a beautiful outdoor ceremony on Charlie’s family’s land on the Chesapeake Bay, complete with a Scottish bagpiper, the best ice cream on the Eastern Shore, delicious homemade cakes, Celtic line dancing, and wildflowers everywhere.  The weather was perfect — mid-70s and sunny — and the whole day felt peaceful, joyous, and new.

I kept choking up every time I looked at Eden during the ceremony.  She had waited for this day, dreamed of this day, and now… beautiful reality!  Charlie and Eden had so carefully chosen every piece of the wedding, and it intricately reflected their shared faith, community, artistry, and dreams.

Of course, for Elliott and me, now weddings are a whole different ball game with two littles.  I felt a little scattered the whole time because of Gil; I was constantly holding him, passing him off to someone else, keeping an eye on him wherever he was, trying to get him to nap, checking on him while he was napping, feeding him, holding him… and so on and so forth.  Lena, meanwhile, felt completely at home and ran around the entire property by herself, skipping from one group of friends to another.  She was so happy.   I think she drank her weight in “yemonade,” too!

Now the family — minus the honeymooners — have moved to Chincoteague, Virginia.  Elliott’s family has vacationed here for 20 years, but this is my first visit.  We’re savoring the quiet days and time together, mixing board games and building blocks together now, as we drink in this beautiful view.  Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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6 :: in family, Virginia, wedding, weekend

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