alright, who gave the mouse a cookie? (a PG-13 ode to my living room's makeover)

when last i showed you, our living room looked like this:

not impressed? well, ya best step off, homie because--lest you forget--3 days prior it looked like THIS:

oh, the shame.

i knew once the floors got down (go head girl, go head, get down), it would trigger a chain reaction of home improvements comprised of late nights, pinterest mining, and dirty fingernails.

this motivational rube-goldberg of updates still has us firmly in its grasp.

once we got the carpet out and the floors in, we HAD to paint. 

once we painted, we thought the gray was too light on its own and could be confused with white. it couldnt, really, not if you looked at the trim around the doors and windows in comparison. but i found myself thinking, "hmmm, if only we had some white trim in the middle of the walls for the gray to push off of and exert its grayness." 

ah-ha! we added horizontal white stripes on the accent wall by the entry!

and then i started falling into HARD love with this room.

but oh, that old plaid couch was chapping my hide. i mean that literally. 3 years worth of crusted peanut butter stains and decades of wear had rendered the cushions quite soft, yet the upholstery a little rough. and my eyes, oh my eyes were trying to climb out of my face to escape the horror of that print in that room.

so o-baby-o, when i our new rooms to go couch arrived (here's to you, a million months no interest!), we gleefully kicked the plaid wonder to the curb. again...literally (except we have no curb).

i was not emotionally invested in this purge, despite my long relationship with this couch (it was one of the settings for jesse and my first kiss. it was a very mobile, 4 hour kiss that left me with facial rug burn courtesy of his stubble. he made me wait a week into dating to give it up, so it was...intense).

but epic makeout sesh aside, i was not emotional about saying goodbye to this couch until 2 fairly hilarious things happened:

1. someone took ONE seat cushion from it while it sat on the curb for free. just one. let me tell you: i KNOW it was our across the street neighbors.

they are amazing corn-pone rednecks. approximately 18 of them live there at once with no family structure that we have been able to discern. when we got rid of the first plaid couch in exchange for the best garage sale deal ever, we put it on the curb with a "FREE" sign and it was gone when we came home a few hours later. i happily wondered where it had gone to live until i spotted it in the driveway of the neighbors being used as a charming outdoor all-weather settee. 

they never speak to us or make friends, but boy do they snatch up our freebies like whoa when we're gone.

in addition to our couch, they also have our old TOILET (!!!) in their front yard being used as a charming planter in spring/fall and a festive pumpkin holder during the harvest/fall season. i also suspect they snatched up our two cats for the hell of it. apparently anything at the foot of our driveway is the "up for grabs zone" and, as such, we do not let the children venture there.

so i suspect that these colorful neighbors (whom i love) have since stained a cushion on the first couch they snagged with what i have to assume was either chaw spittle, squirrel meat grease or lotto scratch-off shavings (am i stereotyping a bit?) , and so when they saw the twin, they grabbed up an extra to replace it. 

this made me sad because whoever took the one cushion essentially rendered the couch un-adoptable now that it's missing a seat. 

so it still sits in our driveway waiting for the monthly junk pickup, getting rained on.

and there it sat until the #2 reason for me to get a little weepy about it happened. i watched jesse RUN OVER it with our van. he was backing out the other day and i was leaving too in that other car, and at that moment i was seriously thinking (as i nervously used the yard to turn around), "jesse is such a badass at reverse!" when he plowed into the couch. 

i actually laughed hysterically because a wreck with a sofa is on my list of funnies, but then i started thinking about it and felt bad for old Couchus McMagmus (he's scottish, you know). 

so let's take a moment of silence to honor the injustices Couchy EmCee has enduring in his retirement....

...and then move right into how SEXY the new couch is!!!!

and now, an inappropriate open letter to my couch:

damn, boo, you're so fine, looking all come-hither with your grey fabric. and that 3-year stain force-field warranty of yours tells me you're down for anything! and what's that, girl? those lovely lady lumps of yours that are driving me wild are throw pillows that were included standard with my purchase AND right on the mark style-wise?  i think you were meant for me!

i love a big-boned woman, and that frame of yours is SOLID! those legs are long and strong, but they support a world of curvy softness. i am already daydreaming of the things i am going to lose up in that deep cleave, girl: spare change, cheerios, and if things get extra wild, maybe even a sheriff woody action figure. you just never know, baby. 

yeah girl, i know you've got that elegant and chic exterior, but when a guest comes over, you let it ALL hang out. i've seen what's under those cushions, and baby, you may look like a living room piece on the outside, but on the inside, you're MADE for the bedroom with your plush fold-out queen-sized mattress with inner-spring support and room for TWO to tango.  

rrrrrawr! go, on, girl! 

from afar you are a beautiful charcoal grey, but when i get up close to you, i see that you are really so much more and baby, i have never felt this way about herringbone before. 

i used to think that this pattern was just meant for business suits, but you've shown me that herringbone is really meant for business time:

(is it possible that i had coffee today and have perhaps veered off course and taken this a bit far? i'll never tell!)

the last major element we needed for the room (for now...eventually we have plans that involve de-kidding it, turning the yard sale armchair into a loveseat that coordinates better and adding some flair to the walls) was an area rug, for softness during play and lounging and to break up the wide expanse of wood.

first, i got this one because i LOVE the popcorn rug texture and it came in gray and was on mega sale at target last week.

it was really nice but a little too big, too dark and too unlikely that the popcorn wouldnt get trampled, smushed and destroyed by all of the traffic and chaos of dukesdom.

so we returned it and got this one from home depot for cheaper. it was a nice comfy shag that would hide crumbs and stains, was a lighter color, smaller size and came in a cool ombre effect:

but as soon as we laid it down, i didnt like it. it looked cheap and the ombre effect came off as just dingy and dirty in real life.

we we returned THAT and got our keeper from lowe's instead based almost solely on how amazing it felt in the store (it was just me running in for 5 minutes to look and i couldnt even see the real color because it was so dark in the rug file-o-folder display area).

it's greyish cream and so deep that you could get lost in it. it is beyond soft and every member of out family has been caught rubbing their face and limbs on it as some point. its a wonderful surprise for bare feet when you cross onto its territory and it makes me look forward to when jesse's chest hair turns white.

a girl really could get lost in there.

so here's a view of the stripes, the couch and the rug all together:

and naturally, i decided i liked what the stripes did on the walls so much that 2 days later we went ahead and did the facing wall with the same effect:

i am a very happy girl in this room (even though it has a ways to go before its' perfect)

and because i am a sucker for some time-lapse collage action, here is the transformation over 8 days:

happy is the home


  1. YOU ROCK!

    I lover that herringboner couch, btw.

  2. I literally LOL'ed about Jesse running into the couch. looks great!

  3. I literally LOL'ed at Jesse running into the couch. the room looks awesome! love the new couch!

  4. Living room looks fabulous now! That third rug is definetly the best choice for the space. Herringboner made me choke on my drink though. I should know better by now to try to ieat or drink while reading your witty words! New couch looks super comfy too, which is way more important than how it looks (says the person with the 14 yo really comfy dark green velour-like couch)
    Enjo the new space!

  5. Funniest. Blogger. Ever.

    That letter was the best.

  6. I laughed like an idiot through this entire post. I appreciate that, Keight.

    Also, this is totally not related to this post but I vote yes for an October va-voom. I am newly unemployed as of next Friday and need something to occupy my hours until I get a new job.

  7. Flight of the Conchords FTW.

    Also, love your new room! Amazing!

  8. Moving from mommy blogger to diy decor maven! How on earth did you get your stripes so straight? Keight uber alles!

  9. Look how light it is in there now!

  10. I love you and your PG-13 blog post. Go ahead girlfriend! Sometimes you just need to let it all out. Especially when your living room is that damn fine ;-)

  11. the stripes on that additional wall really bring the room together. I like it!

  12. HILARIOUS!!! My favorite was the neighbors stealing the cushion. I'm in shock that they are using your toilet as yard art. Wow.

  13. Flight of the Conchords! Yes! I just named one of our youngest child's giraffe's "Jemaine." Love Herringbone(r). You're too funny.

  14. I found your blog because I read Rachael's blog, and she referenced your site. I read a few posts down, and was SO disappointed in the unkind way you describe your "redneck" neighbors. Interestingly, I spotted a poster on your living room wall that led with "Love Jesus." hmmmm In my book, these two are mutually exclusive, and perhaps you owe the "rednecks" an apology . . . ? For the record, I am not a redneck (both my husband and I are executives in the software industry), but I know many "rednecks" who display the same behaviors you mockingly describe, but are Jesus-loving, faithful believers all the same, most of whom would never dream of mocking you or your DIY attempts publicly or otherwise. You may be shocked to know that the "rednecks" I have known have too much grace for such behavior. Maybe reconsider? And maybe bake them a nice pie or cake and deliver it to them personally, since you "love them." Thanks for listening.

    1. oh no! i think you may be misunderstanding me. i am not using the term "redneck" as a pejorative meant to disparage them in any way (though i can see how it came off that way...my writing style is sometimes pretty over the top). our neighbors dont make me angry or make me want to put them down at all. mostly i just think they are hilarious and am constantly tickled by them and our varying ways of life (though i am unsettled by the frequency of the police being called to visit them).

      i dont think that anything they do (that i know of) is wrong or hurtful or needs to be mocked, i just find it interesting how very different our cultures are, though we live so close. i am not saying that our way of garbage disposal or DIY is right or better, but just amusingly far-flung from theirs. (i would want to know someone before upcycling their old toilet, for example).

      i absolutely disagree with you that loving jesus and identifying someone as a redneck are mutually exclusive. again, i dont see that term as a put down at all. like i said, i probably am guilty of stereotyping with my exaggerated jokes, and you are absolutely right that maybe we should show our love for them as children of god in a more personal and uncomfortable (to us...since new things are scary) way. i am sad that you are so quick to decide that we dont love jesus.

      lets be clear: the crazy part to me is the taking of our old stuff on the curb, not the redneck behavior. i too have MANY MANY MANY beloved friends who dip, play lotto and even drink moonshine, so i would never mock these as if to say: if you do this, you are somehow less. and it naturally follows that i would not be shocked to find that your country-type friends display grace, as do mine.

      the "redneck" classification was a descriptor i used just to give a quick glimpse of their lifestyle (the same way you said you were not one to paint me a picture of your lifestyle. so can rednecks NOT be software execs?) i could have used any number of these terms that our culture has invented (thug, hipster, goth, yuppie, etc), none of which i think of as insults.

      any mocking came from what i find to be a funny way that they wait until we arent outside to come get our free things for upcycling but then prominently place them in our view.

      i very much appreciate your gentle way of keeping me accountable to my savior. i mean that. thank you for not insulting me and for graciously suggesting we reconsider how we view our neighbors. it is very refreshing to find and internet voice who disagrees with me but can still respectfully convey his/her position.

      i hope this was just a misunderstanding of intent and/or how i used a word, but regardless, you have provided a really good reminder about loving and integrating with those who are very (to a comedic degree) different from us. thank you!

      we have tried very hard to go to uncomfortable places for jesus in our neighborhood, (my post on "a case of the uglies" from march 2011 details one of these) and this is yet another opportunity to do so.

      jesus is still doing his good work in me and giving me his eyes for his children. i may be overly honest and transparent in the way i talk here and might show my shortcomings more than some bloggers in these areas. i yearn for jesus to take the fallen parts of me and redeem them, and in that process (which is between him and me alone) i will never present myself as something i am not. that does open me up for plenty of judgement, but i pray that it is also a powerful message to nonbelievers that christians are colorful, stumbling, flawed and searching too.

      thanks for you honesty.

      -keight dukes

  15. PS: No need to publish my previous comment about the "rednecks" on your blog . . . my intent was not to publicly "shame" you, or even to disagree with you, only to give you some food for thought as a fellow believer. Thanks again for listening.

    1. i hope it is okay that i did publish it. (i didnt see your follow-up until i had replied already).

      i think you were very graceful and kind in how you presented your issues or disagreements to me and am happy to get it out there in case anyone else was having the same disappointments about my words. and i am always happy to give the internet an example of someone who can disagree or even admonish without being unkind.

      i hope i answered some of your concerns and expressed my appreciation for your words. i know i am a little rough around the edges and am not for everyone! i wont apologize for that exactly, but in the areas that i am acting decidedly against the gospel, i will apologize, and i am happy to do so here as my attempts to be outrageous or funny may have been cruel (though not intentionally).

      your comment actually has me thinking in terms of, "would i ever want my neighbors to read this?" and it is pretty convicting.

      thanks again, for really real. :)

  16. Keight,

    How very kind of you to reply. Your response was lovely, and I can see why Rachael and her family love you so.

    Quite frankly, you afforded me much more grace than I deserved. Looking back at my message, it had many more sharp edges and subtle anger than I had intended. Please forgive me.

    Despite my feeble attempt at making a point, you totally got it without me saying it, and that simply was: how would your neighbors feel had they read your post. That is all.

    You are so very gracious and kind, Keight, and I am certain your neighbors are glad to know you. I wish you and your family well.