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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Entertaining at Sans Souci Part 3: The Ground Floor Changes


As promised, I have drawn up the plans for Sans Souci. You can read about all of the library and dining changes here and here.

Here is the before:

You can see how crowded that small dining room was. Also, I didn't have a lot of furniture starting out again, and most of these items were gifts or loans from my mom and dad. It wasn't really noticeable except for the formal living room. That space was sort of a waste, both in terms of furniture and in terms of functionality. There was no cable jack, and the electric piano didn't really go in there. However, the piano didn't really go in the solarium either. There is no climate control out there, and it's very hot and very cold at different times of the year.

Here is how we rearranged everything once Steve started building the library. We had the cable folks come and install a cable line in the formal living room. As for the library, the plans are actually to finish the room with shelves and replace the puzzle and homework table with a petite baby grand. One can dream! Here it is in its current state:

The only issue we have right now is overhead lighting in the new dining room. We have made the solarium into an office for Steve, but we keep a heater and a portable air conditioner in there for him. The formal living has become the family room, and the children hang out in there or in the library most of the afternoon unless they are playing outside.

The next post will be the very inexpensive updates to making the new family room along with the kitchen tolerable in terms of color and pattern. They were, um, sort of loud before. With a little help from some paint and our favorite stores TJ Maxx and Marshall's, we were able to update the spaces in time for our First Annual Croquet Tourney last October!

Also, I would just like to say that I made these floor plans in PowerPoint of all things. In the past, I have used Paint, and I actually do have AutoCAD, but I've never used it. Steve always does his plans in PowerPoint and they come out so nice, I thought I'd give it a whirl. After I finished, I saved the images as PNG files. I hope to give you more refined plans of the upcoming projects, but I just had to share this new-found use of an old stand-by.

Andrea, Steve, and family

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Entertaining at Sans Souci Part 2: A New Dining Room

Today, we are moving on to the FABULOUS new dining room at Sans Souci. To catch up on how we got here, you can read our welcome back post here and the library post here. The library is in the place of the old dining room. 

So, then the question became: where do we put all of the china? Here are the first ten or so boxes I unpacked in the old family room.

The house is symmetrical, with a formal living to the right of the front door, and a family room with library built-ins around the fireplace to the left of the front door. We had originally decided that the dining room would move forward into the formal living room when we took the dining space as the library. However, it occurred to us that 1) the family room is actually connected to the kitchen, 2) there are already a ton of built-ins, and 3) I had already unpacked china boxes in that room. You can see how the family room led to the breakfast area before the remodel of both rooms.

The built-ins were being emptied into the new library...

With a nice bottle of Educated Guess in the Lismore Waterford, already empty on the table in the foreground, the swapping of books for china began as the books found their way to the new library.

The sofa was moved out to the formal living room, and in goes the china cabinet and the dining table...even though the side table and lamp were still there.

 The first night we were able to have dinner here was October 11. Scallops! Yum! 

It was ready for the fall and our first Thanksgiving in the new house!

It's also seen an at-home winter wedding...

Birthdays, dinner guests, baby showers, and so much more. Father's Day was very special for this wonderful man who took on a handful of a wife and three children all at once!

Notice we took down the very expensive (but very dated) draperies in the before pictures. One bad thing about those: you couldn't actually open the shutters. We prefer this because of the natural light.

You can see the color of the curtains better in the formal living which has really become the family room. These curtains are also on the back French doors leading out to the solarium. The wall in the dining room is a different color than that in the the living room below. The living room and the library walls are the same color, and the curtains match the color of the paint inside the library bookshelves. We couldn't really change the wall color in the dining room (former family room) because all of the trim was stained. We decided it wasn't worth it at this time to move to anything darker than this creamy off-white shade that was on the walls when we got here.

One of the more fun things I have had here was a baby shower for a dear friend who once hosted us in Germany a few years ago on our travel adventures. We have known each other since third grade. Maybe earlier? We can't remember!

You may have seen her picture in an earlier Tablescape Times Three Blog. You will definitely see it on a post this fall on our sister blog, Here's What You Do (Travel) on a week-long do-it-yourself trip to Germany.

Next up will be how we updated the formal living into a great family space, transformed the kitchen with a fraction of the cost, and have created and re-created the solarium AND made a dog-heaven for our new puppies out back.

Andrea, Steve, and family

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Entertaining at Sans Souci Part 1: A New Library

I moved to this wonderful home with the children in May 2012. When I met Steve, he suggested I give the house a name to symbolize what kind of home I wanted it to be. As a former French teacher, I chose Sans Souci, which roughly translates to, "no worries." But I think of it more as an expression of serenity and peace. So far, so good!

The original owners of the home had really high quality d├ęcor, though much of it had been put into the house in the late 1980's and 1990's. The house was a little dated!

While I was still reeling from all of the moves and the lack of my furniture, Steve began encouraging me to start making this home my own. We focused on two major issues. The first was the eternally small dining room. Why do big and little houses have small dining rooms? This one wasn't too bad at 13' x 13', but that size is still a crowded room for eight dinner guests. Inasmuch as this house has a living room and a den, we started thinking about using the den as the new dining room. Then what would we do with the old dining room? 

The second issue was an even more important one to me. By making the den into the new dining, I would lose all of the library shelves for my treasured book collection. But Steve had a brilliant idea. He offered to build me a library in the place of the old dining room. 

So he had a way to help me make the house into a dream house. When we began discussing getting married, his request was that I let him paint over the tragic walls. I was behind that 100%!

Dining Room Becomes Library

Our original painting idea didn't really work. Even layers of primer wouldn't cover those flowers.
We had to get the room to a presentable state when we had company for the weekend in the middle of renovation.
Steve starts the shelves!

We painted the bead board blue for contrast. We have curtains this color now in the living room and it ties the rooms together nicely.
Steve used rope lighting inside the shelves and above.

We were married in this room.
Our wedding rings included the name of the house.
Now, this room is for puzzles, games, piano, and homework. We also still use the table for overflow when we have large dinner parties.
We still aren't finished. Eventually, we will have another wall of shelves and a baby grand piano in the middle. Believe it or not, our books are still overflowing into many other rooms in the house.
Note the way we have the outlet in the center shelf for music.
Steve wrote the project up over at Hometalk. 

I love this library! I am so grateful to have such a beautiful and special place for all of the books our family has collected over the years.

Stay tuned for Entertaining at Sans Souci Part 2: A New Dining Room!

Andrea, Steve, and family

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Tablescape Times Three Has Been

Greetings, fellow tablescaping fans! We're back!

Where did the time go? Well, it's been nearly two years since our last post. But we have a really good explanation, though.

For those of you that had the opportunity to read how our blog originally started, (, we had a hospital/homebound child. This blog was part of how we got through that very difficult time. As an update on Emma, she earned a very prestigious scholarship in 9th grade to boarding school and will be beginning her second year this year. She still has some lingering health issues, but she is a fighter. The experience has been great for her, bolstered by her maturity and desire to succeed. We are back to traveling and dining and almost all of the things we used to do.

But - you say - that was BEFORE the blog hiatus. So, what gives?

Well, the illness was not all that happened. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. There was a move, (3 actually), a divorce, a new job, new schools, brave venturing out into the dating world again, (eHarmony - not even kidding - too scared to go straight to the face-to-face thing), new boyfriend who became a new husband and step-father, new dogs, new household, remodeling and renting of a house, new blogs, OH MY!

New Sun Room 

New Job

New Schools

New Boyfriend

Who Became New Husband

Who Became New Step-Dad

New Dogs

Two years may seem like a long time, but I feel like I am Dorothy returning from a trip to Oz, complete with the horrifying scary parts and finding a real home at the end. With as crazy as this sounds, and it really was crazy, LIFE IS SO WONDERFUL NOW!

So, let me tell you what you can expect now that the blog is returning!

First, my mom Diane branched out on her own. She has a new BEAUTIFUL blog. If you haven't found her there, please do! Check out Confessions of the Obsessed:

Her entry around the time of the great upheaval was here:

Her post is a great summary of some of the changes that were underway.

I will be including links to her blog from time to time, but she will be writing there primarily.

Emma is off at school most of the year, so we will have guest entries from her at the holidays.

You may remember my other children, Carson and Ava. Ava, in particular, has been pushing to become more involved in the blog, and she is a key third generation member this go-round.

Remember her first blog?

And let me tell you about how entertaining has changed for me. The new house is wonderful, and being married to a pretty handy husband now is amazing! When we married, Steve relocated to my new home, and he immediately set to work building shelves and updating the kitchen and new dining room so that we could entertain together. I am working on a post showing the architectural changes that have left me with a 19' x 14' dining room!

Steve is somewhat of a foodie, and that has turned out to be incredibly fun. Steve's a wonderful cook. He British and from Bermuda, so he has added many of his grandmother's recipes to our kitchen. We love to entertain together, travel, and plan all kinds of activities. Steve started a blog reviewing venues and restaurants the same month we met. So, we have been working on consolidating all of our projects so that we can manage them over the past year. We have just rolled out our travel and consumer versions of that blog, and there's more to come!

Our Here's What You Do ( is a great, comprehensive blog that began with day trips in and around metro Atlanta. We took a break during our wedding and during the reorganization phase. Along with travel and consumer product reviews, Gourmet and Education are coming soon with even more to follow.

Here's What You Do - Travel
Here's What You Do - Consumer

We are also in the process of moving all of those blogs to a new platform so we can tie all of our interests together in a one-stop shop. Stay tuned!

The other thing we have been doing is developing iPhone and iPad apps. We found that in starting a new life together, we have a particular way of organizing things like budgets, grocery planning, allowance activity for the children, bill payment, etc. There was no app that would do everything we needed. So, we built the first phase of our master app plan, the Famously Simple Budget App 1.0, and we released it in June 2013. It will eventually integrate into a database system, but even the first version is so much better than anything we had tried to use! Check it out!

This presentation was on the first design. We have already published a few minor updates:

I guess that's all for now. I can't wait to post my first blog about the house, and then the second will be about our wedding and our last minute meal plan, and I think the third will be Steve's 40 days of 40 - his big 40th birthday celebration at home with lots and lots of cooking and tablescapes!

We have Facebook pages for all of our blogs, so please feel free to find us there:

Thanks so very much for reading this and putting up with the pause in productivity! It's hard to document life when it's moving so fast!

Much love,

Andrea & Steve and family

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