We’re back with a third round of updates on our most asked about home furnishings and DIY projects! These are projects and products we’ve been asked most frequently about. While we enjoy changing things up around here, we also think it’s important to speak to the longevity (or lack thereof) of the updates we make around our home, in the hopes that it will help you determine if it’s the right fit for you and your home.
Psst: Here are updates 1.0 and 2.0, if you’d like to see!
The Stair Runner
Our DIY stair runner was installed to keep our 130-year-old staircase safe and protected. We put the project off for years, but could no longer ignore the slick surface once we brought little Lucy into our lives – it had become impossible for us to go up or down the steps without imagining the worst! We opted to install a faux sisal runner for longterm durability (and handsome good looks, right?), and we took on the project ourselves over the course of an afternoon.
Would we do it again?
Let me rephrase the question; why did we wait so long to do it at all? The runner has been in place for a little less than two years and looks exactly as it did the day we finished the installation. Now that Lucy is learning to safely navigate the stairs, we feel relieved knowing that the stairs provide grip and added safety. The faux sisal isn’t scratchy at all, and the color we chose hides virtually all signs of wear. We also love the natural warmth that the runner adds to an otherwise empty staircase!
See also: How we painted our staircase and protected it from the dogs!
Are they in? Are they out? It seems like this is a debate in our small circle of home lovers that comes and goes, and it probably always will! We have 3 gallery walls in our home – 3! – so it’s safe to say that we like the large impact they provide to a space.
Would we do it again?
Heck yeah! The gallery wall in our living room, below, is constantly evolving and shifting so that it always feels fresh. We love that while the overall shape hasn’t changed, we can swap out the art inside as often as we’d like. Lucy is growing like crazy, so we’ve dedicated a few frames in our living room/dining room gallery wall to pictures of her that we’ve been swapping out every 6 months or so. On the other hand, our vintage grid of photos, while technically a gallery wall, works well on the whole.
See also: How to plan a gallery wall and our go-to framing guide.
Former Shipping Room/Now Craft Room
At around 8′ x 8′, this is the most petite room in our house. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in great natural light!
Would we do it again?
We shared the ‘reveal’ of this room many, many years ago, and since then, it has served many purposes. Longtime readers may remember when it was home base for home base for Kim’s pet portrait business. Admittedly, this room is being woefully underutilized right now. We’ve considered eliminating the vertical open shelves in favor of something that might take better advantage of the space, and we’ve even tossed around the idea of adding a big picture window when we eventually get around to re-siding the house. The room essentially acts as bonus space off of our working studio, and it is nice to have that sideboard to wrap and prepare packages for shipping. We’re not entirely sure what the function of this room will look like in a year or two, but perhaps it could be a fun little art studio or craft room for Lucy?
Seriously, guys, we’re totally open to ideas! Help!
See also: Work room reveal.
A Jute Rug In the Tree House Master Bedroom
This big, chunky Serena & Lily cult favorite fits the casual vibe we’ve worked to create at Tree House, and on a budget, too. Natural jute can sometimes be scratchy and uncomfortable, but this rug is anything but! It’s soft and well-made, and a jute rug is an affordable way to add a big splash of texture.
Would we do it again?
Probably, but with an asterisk. The quality and timeless design of this rug have us convinced that it will look great for years to come, but we also take great care of it. Jute rugs have a thick weave that can sometimes pull up and fray, and when we’ve noticed that happening, we’ll tuck those loose ends back into the weave. Our dogs don’t dig or scratch at the rug, and we don’t have a cat that would be around the rug, which might be a concern for some pet owners! (Cats love jute, from what we hear!) So here’s my asterisk*; know your lifestyle, and choose accordingly.
See also: Our guide to buying the right rug for you.
Lucy’s room, like many Chicago bedrooms from homes built in the late 1800’s, is long and skinny. Not including the closet, it measures barely 7′ wide! Because of the odd dimensions, we knew that we’d have to get creative with storage if we wanted to keep the space functional. After lots of thought, we renovated the room to include a wall-to-wall closet with additional deep storage up above. Then we worked with our friends at Megmade to reimagine a vintage dresser for a storage and a changing area to live inside the closet – arguably the only place a chest of drawers could fit.
Would we do it again?
A resounding yes! Our history with small space design informed our decisions here. Because we thought vertically and also built shelf storage flanking the dresser on each side, Lucy now has the largest closet in the house! The dresser swallows up all of Lucy’s diapers, wipes and clothes with room to spare. It’s the right fit for the space (by thorough research, not luck), and the finish is holding up beautifully. At this stage in Lucy’s life, we leave the closet doors open at all times, but the custom bi-fold doors can close entirely to keep the whole space out of sight. We’re dresser-in-a-closet converts for sure, and it’s one of our favorite pieces in her little nursery!
See also: Custom trim for bi-fold doors, closet plans for our (former) scary room, a budget closet design and Lucy’s nursery reveal.
Our Article Sofas (Again!)
Article is one of our favorite online furniture stops in terms of affordability, design and craftsmanship. Their pieces are timeless and well-made, and a handful of years later, they’ve continued to stand the test of time for our family! The sofas in our Chicago and Michigan living rooms are among our most asked-about furniture pieces, so another update seemed in order.
Would we choose them again?
Most likely, yes. The Pearl White Gaba sofa in our Chicago living room remains the comfortable gathering place of our family room. Many of you were nervous for us when we chose a near-white sectional, especially since it arrived not long before the holidays and Lucy’s first birthday party, where we hosted 40+ adults and kids for an afternoon of games, lunch and cake. The good news is that the party was a blast, the food was amazing, and the Gaba sofa handled its first few spills like a champ!
We use a mix of dish soap and cool water to wipe up spills right away, and we’ve since swiped off red wine, chocolate and coffee with ease. The back cushions are a mix of poly fibers and feathers which do require occasional re-shaping, but not any more than any pillow-back couch would. Every now and then, we also give it a once over with this fabric shaver, which eliminates any pills on the most loved cushions. It’s deep, cozy and wonderful for movie nights, but the only reason we’re not giving it a resounding yes! is because it does require a bit of maintenance to stay looking nice. Some of you may be okay with this, others may not.
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! We would go so far as to say that the Taos Brown Mello Sofa in the living room at Tree House is nearly indestructible. It regularly acts as a trampoline and gymnastics area for Lucy, her cousins and our friends’ kids. It’s taken spills, scuffs and heavy use in stride for almost two years. In that time period, it’s only gotten softer, more supple and more inviting. Like most well-made leather goods, it simply improves with age!
We clean our Mello with the brush and crevice tools on our Dyson to keep dust and crumbs at bay, then wipe it down every few months with leather conditioner to keep it buttery soft. It’s been scratched by our dogs (who love to ‘nest’), and the leather conditioner made the marks disappear after two applications.
Readers often ask if the backrest of the Mello is too low. For us, the answer is definitely not. The Mello does, however, have a way of sucking people into a laid back position that demands relaxation. Many unintentional naps have taken place on our Mello sofa, but that was sort of our hope from the beginning! It’s perfect for us and our space, and it’s also available in a beautiful caramel shade. If you’re on the fence about the Mello, we can’t recommend it enough!
See also: A rental living room makeover with Article furniture.
White appliances can be pretty polarizing, but I assure you, they’re no longer your grandma’s white appliances! When we designed our Chicago kitchen a few years ago, we knew we wanted white to blend in with our cabinetry, and we landed on a suite of smooth-fronted Samsung appliances with sleek metal hardware that all wipes clean easily.
Would we do it again?
For our all-white Chicago kitchen, almost yes. White appliances were the only choice to keep the calm tone-on-tone vibe we were looking for in this kitchen, but the only appliance we’ve said we wished we’d done differently is our stove. If we could have a do-over (which technically, no one is stopping us?), we’d choose a slide-in range, still white. We also don’t subscribe to the idea that white appliances are ‘hard to keep clean’. We’ve found that our white appliances simply show soil and smudges so they’re much easier to clean! At the same time, we’re not married to white appliances, and we even went a completely different direction for our mostly white Tree House kitchen renovation, seen below. We’ll definitely consider white appliances for the two flat kitchens as well, but we’ll let the final color palette determine our choices.
We’re over-researchers by nature, and we do our best to ensure that the projects we take on and the items that come into our home are here for the long haul. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t! But we do hope that these updates are helpful in your own decision making. If there are any other projects you’d like to see an update on, be sure to let us know and we’ll add it to our list for v. 4!
Thanks for the info on the custom runner for your staircase. I have wide hallways & need some rugs and have been struggling to find some in the width I need.
Also, where did you get the frame for your bear print? Was it Framebridge? I have a long skinny print I would love to finally get framed.
Hi Susan! The bear print was framed years ago and unfortunately, we can’t recall where we had it done. Have a look at our framing guide for a few additional options, though. Hope this helps!
Ok, Thanks for the info.
Can you share what leather conditioner you use? I, too, find leather to be a great choice for kids and pets but could be happier with the conditioner I am using. Would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for your updates :)
Hi MJ! We use Real Simple cleaner & conditioner. We absolutely love it!
Love this! I’ve been considering an Article leather sofa for years now but have been hesitating because my two big dogs are allowed on the furniture in my house. I’m so scared that they’d destroy a nice leather sofa with their nails just through normal use, but you’re pushing me over the edge a bit with your review.
Also, have you considered turning the craft room into a dedicated play room for Lucy? I have to imagine you have. I know you mentioned a craft room for her down the line but what about a separate play room for her a little sooner? Just a thought. :)
Hey Ryan! The leather that Article uses is incredibly durable. We also helped some close friends with a makeover with Article’s help. They chose a leather sofa that sees use by their spunky 1.5 year old pittie. Keep the leather clean and conditioned and you should be fine!
I got the Gaba sectional in Pearl after seeing it in your space, also with a toddler and I agree with your assessment exactly–it’s really comfortable for us (especially how low it is and 5’2″ me) and I’ve managed to get several crayon scribbles out with dish soap so far! I had one stain that needed a bit of oxiclean but overall the light feeling to our living room makes it worth it to me at least (my husband, on whose watch the crayon incidences occurred, probably disagrees). Thanks for sharing about the fabric shaver, since that’s an area where I was a little dismayed to notice pilling starting to happen on the most used seats.
Glad to hear you’re loving the Gaba as well. We use this fabric shaver and it leaves the fabric looking brand new!
I love that your projects are rooted in practicality. It’s important to make your space work for you. And if you don’t like it/want to change it later, you always can!
Thanks Ashley! That’s the exact reason we write these update posts. We’re usually pretty happy with our design decision, but sometimes things are no longer right for us as our needs and tastes change.
I love your white appliances! I went with my mom recently to pick out new appliances for her kitchen, the place we went to said that the vast majority of appliances sold in the US are stainless, it can be hard (and more costly!) to do white or black. I also love the integrated look – hopefully there is a movement on the horizon that makes these easier to come by!