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Living Room Decorating

We've been working on several different projects around the house this winter: the kitchen, the dining room ceiling, insulating the downstairs (it's been bitterly cold), and working on the downstairs bath. Most of these projects I have been able to offer very little help--seeing as I am unskilled labor--so I've turned my attention to the living room. By focusing more seriously on the jazz theme, I've rearranged the living room and picked up a few items:

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In a few weeks, I'll post the before and after photos for the downstairs bath. I can't believe we might be reaching our goal of having the downstairs ready by summer. Our vision is SLOWLY shaping up. My next focus is going to be on the hallway. I think it may be time to consider wainscotting and wallpaper. *scaaary*.

X-posted to myhappyhome 
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The Party Was a Success, and no appearance from Eliot Ness!

Here are some photos from the speakeasy holiday party I threw:
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I wish I got a photo of the front door, which had a secret door feel. I made gumbo, feta and caramelized onion bites, spanokopita puffs, and other puff pastry bites. I will scan in the invite and password later.

Things I would avoid next time:
* wide mouthed jars for the mixers. the mixers needed to be in a more pour-friendly container.
* seating. i need more comfortable chairs.
* better film. Lady Sings the Blues has far too many depressing scenes.

Things I would do again:
* the bar in the hallway
* using the sink filled with ice for the bottles of champagne
* using only candlelight to light the event
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Speaking Easy at the Queen

So I am throwing a party over the holidays--themed like a speakeasy during prohibition. I'm determined that the only way to go to all the cool events I wanted to attend in my life is to throw them. So I'm starting with this one. The main idea is to play up the secretiveness of the event using passwords and exclusive entry. Each guest will receive an invitation, and then two days later, they will receive a password for entry. The party will operate mostly as a regular holiday cocktail party, except that the music and drinks will reflect the speakeasy theme.

The drinks:
Gin-- gimlets, gin & tonics, tom collins
Whiskey-- whiskey sours, whiskey tonics, old fashioned
Rum-- cuba libre, rum tonics, rum and cokes

The alcohol, fittingly, will be in a variety of odd-shaped home brew containers like these:

The food:
boneless fried chicken
mini quiche

The music will be a mix of contemporary, but vintage sounding r&b with Kansas City Jazz, Blues, and 1920s big band.

The last thing is the invites. I've ordered the perfect invitations and sent them out to my imaginative (and social) friends. It includes a woman with flapper-like hair holding a cocktail, obviously. As soon as I can get one of my gfs to scan it, I'll put it here.

My only reservations about throwing this party is that the house is not finished. The kitchen and the dining room can be company ready in time, but the downstairs bathroom and other amenities will not be cocktail event ready. Unfortunately, there's nothing to do about it. I'm hoping that I can razzle them with the guests and the theme such that the state of the house will not be such a big deal. We'll see. Here goes nothing..

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New countertops!

Through a stroke of luck, the hubby and his dad tweaked the kitchen to make it usable. Somehow in a day it has gone from a room with a fridge to a kitchen!
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All that's left is to stain/coat the cabinets to match the old ones, get new drawer knobs, and paint! I can't even believe it's the same kitchen.
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Masonry Woes

So we've had a recommended mason come and inspect our fireplaces. The one upstairs is falling apart--the hearth is losing bricks--which is damaging the dining room ceiling. The guy who looked at it suggested replacing the fireplaces with insets from Lowe's. The cost was reasonable, but I'm terrified it'll spoil the authenticity of the house. I can understand electrical/gas hearths for the upstairs (I mean, who wants to cart woods up there and clean it too?), but downstairs really should stay wood-burning.

The best case scenario would be to restore the dining room fireplace and turn the living room fireplace into an inset for a widescreen TV. The living room is too small to have two focal points, so that would work out for the best.

Unfortunately, he can't really tell us what's wrong with the four fireplaces without going inside them, so we have to be ready to make a decision once he rips the decorative coverings off. What to do? What to do?
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Not Queen Anne, American Four-Square

So I've been having difficulty determining the style of the house. Our good friend, a real estate agent, insists that the house is Queen Anne influenced, but some avid historical house enthusiasts insist it's a simple American Four-Square. Since the style of the house is vital to the renovations and furnishings, I've decided to go with American Four-Square. According to the research I've done, AFS has four downstairs and four upstairs rooms laid out in a particular pattern. It was one of the most basic house styles of the period--and cheap to build. I've applied for the house footprint at the Bureau of Buildings, so we'll see. I'm nearly convinced the enthusiasts are right.

Luckily this revelation won't change much in the furnishings department, since I'm sticking to a jazz-inspired theme.
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Coffering the Dining Room Ceiling

The dining room ceiling has been in desperate need of repairs, so the hubby is going to take it down entirely. I've wanted to have an elegant chandelier in it to showcase the tall ceilings, but he thinks we should add one more design element to set it apart: coffering. Then we can also install some recessed lights, so I can play with lighting depending on the event.
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The only issue is that the room isn't a square, which makes designing the coffers a bit weird.  I'm hoping to get some inspiration about that from the web(...and maybe from you?).  We have more of an l-shaped room, actually it's a square with a lip of 2x3' which starts the passageway to the living room.  *shrug* How to handle it?