Our Living Room

img_0842Our living room has been a work in progress since we first moved into our house in 2015, and I can finally say that it is complete.

img_0844Though fairly small, there have been a lot of structural changes made to the space, which happened in multiple phases. The bookcases, railing, sconces, and fireplace seen in this shot were all absent when we first moved in.

beforelivingroomHere’s a look at how this room was set up when we moved in. You can see that the corners flanking the doorway were empty, and the fireplace couldn’t look more different.

bookshelvesconceptThe first change that we made was adding the built-in bookcases. As soon as we saw the empty corners, we knew that we had a great opportunity to add presence. Here you can see the concept art that James put together before handing it off to the carpenters.

img_0868The build and install was done by Martin Cabinet Designs, who we would later work with for the fireplace and our kitchen remodel. The two pieces greatly improve the flow of the space, and it’s hard to believe that they were ever missing.

img_0863img_0862The shelves allow us to display some of our books and a few favorite trinkets, filling the room with color and charm.

img_0859When thinking of the size for the bookshelves we wanted to make sure to keep this thermostat in place. Though it is no longer functional, it serves as a fun reminder of the history of our home.

img_0864After the bookshelves were up, we focused on decorating the entryway. A new Tiffany glass lighting fixture and some decorative objects made the space feel complete and cohesive with the rest of the room.

img_0874We made some simple changes to the door, such as a new door handle that would also compliment the switch plates around the house.

img_0857Hooks to hang our coats, scarves, and purses keep us organized and avoid clutter.

img_0856We use the same table that we had at our apartment to hold keys for easy access on our way out the door. The trays that hold the keys were originally used to hold our wedding bands for our wedding ceremony.

img_0855One of my favorite details of the entryway was already there before we moved. This is the mail slot where we receive our daily mail. We painted it the same color as the moulding to give it emphasis.

img_0853The next big change was working with with Isaac’s Ironworks to add the railing that separates the living room from the dining room. We opted for this small bench and some decorative pillows to put up against the railing, which gives us some extra seating without the heaviness of another sofa. A tiny side drink table gives guests a place to set down their cocktail.

img_0852The last major changes were the built in surrounding the fireplace mantel, and the media cabinet on the side. Above the fireplace, the built-in houses our television, allowing us to close it away when not in use. The media cabinet on the side hides away electronic devices, and serves as a table for our record player, which we use frequently.

img_0854After all of the big changes were done we focused on the smaller details such as setting out books on our coffee table and getting new plants to give the room extra life. I’m very happy with how this space has turned out, and all of the slow progress on it has certainly paid off.

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Homemade Sourdough Bread

img_0702Bread is one of those foods that I love to eat, but had never made myself at home. Though it’s such a staple item eaten all around the world, I always found it a little intimidating. Those three simple ingredients (flour, water, and salt) needed to create a delicious loaf are in most households, but the process of converting those ingredients felt like nothing short of alchemy. Recently, I finally decided to just go for it and make my all time favorite bread: sourdough.

img_0707The most important component of sourdough is the starter dough, which will give the bread that essential tangy flavor, and provide the yeast necessary for the dough to rise. To make the starter dough mix 4oz water with 4oz of all-purpose flour in a bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature.

img_0457The next day, ‘feed’ the dough by removing all but 4oz of starter and feeding it 4oz of flour and 4oz of water, mixing thoroughly. Repeat this process every 12 hours for a few days. The amount of time for the starter can vary, but it helps to keep it at a consistent temperature away from the cold. You will know it’s ready when it is very bubbly and even a little foamy on top.

img_0684Place any extra starter dough in the refrigerator, and feed once a week to maintain. When it came time to discard and feed the ready starter, I poured some into jars instead of discarding, and gifted to some friends.

img_0695To make the bread: add 30 grams of active starter to 75 grams of all-purpose flour, and 75 grams of water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and let sit overnight or for about 12 hours. Once the leaven is bubbly you know it’s ready. To double check that it is ready, drop a small dollop of the leaven into a bowl of water – if it floats, you’re good to go.

img_0685Mix all of the leaven in a large bowl with 475 grams of room temperature water. Mix it in with your hands until the leaven has dissolved into the water. Add 350 grams of all-purpose flour, and 350 grams of whole wheat flour to the bowl with leaven and water. You can also do 700 grams of all-purpose if you don’t want whole wheat, but I think it gives it a richer flavor. Mix until you no longer see any dry flour. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours. Once the dough has rested, dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt into 50 grams of water and add to dough. Mix with your hands to combine.

Fold the dough, in the bowl, by grabbing one end and folding the dough in half. Then, move the bowl a quarter turn and fold again. Repeat until you have folded it over four times. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then repeat the folding process. Do this process a total of 4 times, every 30 minutes. After you have folded it for the 4th time, let the dough rest for about 45 minutes, until it looks a little puffed.

img_0686Sprinkle flour on your countertop, and turn the dough over onto the flour. Cut the dough in half to pre-shape the loaves. Shape into rounds by running a pastry scraper or blunt knife around the bottom edge. This will start to make the top of the dough taut, and give you a more even shape. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare two proofing baskets or bowls by lining with a kitchen towel and dusting them with flour. It helped me to lightly spray the towels with water first before adding the flour. Rub the flour into the towel to create a layer of flour on the towel.

img_0687Give the loaves their final shape by dusting the tops with flour, then turning them over so the flour side is down. Gently take the top lip of the loaf, and fold it into the center, then repeat with the other three sides. The idea here is to make the top more taut. Cup your hands around the edges of the loaf to give it its final shape. Sprinkle with flour, then transfer to the towel lined baskets or bowls, smooth side down. Cover with plastic, and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours, or place in refrigerator and let sit overnight.

img_0691When ready to bake – place a dutch oven or heavy pot with lid in the oven and pre-heat to 500F. Remove the hot dutch oven from oven, and place one of the loaves inside, smooth side up. Score the top with a sharp knife. You can do three diagonal lines like I did, or do an x in the middle.

img_0692With the lid on, bake at 500F for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 475F for 15 minutes. After the first 30 minutes of baking, remove lid and continue to bake for another 20 minutes – or until the crust has a deep golden brown color.

img_0699img_0704Remove from oven and place the loaf on a cooling sheet for at least 10 minutes before slicing. You will see the quintessential holes filling each delicious loaf.  Enjoy it fresh and warm with toppings of choice.

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