Who’s excited? I’m excited! I feel like I’ve been agonizing over the living room design forever!
One of my big struggles with this room was the chairs. I scored some pretty comfy (and dirt cheap) slipper chairs off of Craigslist a while back and had planned to reupholster them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a fabric that was really speaking to me. I did, however, find some really awesome looking chairs at World Market!
Chairs that were no longer actually available anywhere. Whomp whomp.
After a bunch of searching I was able to find very similar in black leather (instead of the white I had originally found). Whoohoo! I set up an email alert in case the World Market chairs ever come back in stock, but the black is starting to grow on me.
I’m hoping to find a properly vintage cabinet for storage since we have a great store down the street. If not, I have plenty of other options that would work.
The bookcases were another sticking point. We have several IKEA BILLY bookcases right now, but they’re not super attractive and not holding up to my book collection. I’d also like to make use of our tall ceilings in this room. Turns out it’s hard to find affordable bookcases over 6′ tall… In the end I decided to cobble together a ladder bookcase with an IKEA cabinet base. Wish me luck? This should end up going almost to the ceiling, while still being visually light. I’ll still probably be forced to pare down my book collection a little bit..but I’m a book hoarder so it should be good for me.
The living room opens directly into our TV room, so I had to tweak my plan for that room a bit.
The chevron rug I initially picked out was a little overly casual against the living room design. The pin-stripes seem like a nice combo of classic but not overly prissy, but I’m still working on final decision. I’d like to keep the leaf rug to designate the play area since it’s fun without being overly childish (and it’s a practically perfect size for that space). A predominately blue rug will also balance the blue sofa in the living.
I’m also considering switching out our current TV stand. I really like it, but IF we end up painting the paneling the white stand will probably get lost against the white paint. We’re still on the fence about painting the trim/paneling in this room, but leaning towards doing it since the room is very dark. It doesn’t help that our house is only about 5′ from our neighbor’s house so the windows in the room aren’t terribly helpful.
We met with a kitchen remodeling company last week! I think we could have managed a decent kitchen remodel on our own, but the presence of a toddler and the fact that I’m steadily growing in size and decreasing in mobility make it much harder. Plus, pulling in professionals will allow us to fix some more technical issues like the window and effed up electrical.
My big goals for the space are:
Replace all the cabinets
Replace the sink
Replace the overhead lighting
Shorten the window and fit cabinets under it
Redo all the cabinetry in the butler pantry
Add recessed lighting in the butler pantry (space permitting)
Replace the tile in the mudroom
As far as design is concerned, here are my thoughts:
I’d love for the new cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling, with glass doors on the uppermost cabinets. To add a little bit of interest, I’m thinking of backing the top cabinets with wallpaper (which will also get used in the mudroom). I’m a little concerned that two-toned cabinetry may be trendy and go out of style…but I LOVE the current color of our cabinets, but want to brighten them a little bit. My dream sink is a simple, apron-front sink. As must as I like the functionality of double-bowl sinks, we have so little counter space on that side of the kitchen that I think it makes more sense to shrink the sink a bit (plus, double-bowl apron front sinks are pricey AF, especially since I do NOT want an acrylic sink).
My plan for the counters to get a marble-look quartz composite. Real marble stains very easily and while I love the look of marble, I don’t want to deal with the upkeep. I’m having some fun with texture for the backsplash–visual texture that is, since a textured backsplash in a kitchen would be a beast to clean. Since there’s not much area to cover, I think it will be a fun accent and not overwhelming. In the butler pantry I plan on using a simple white subway tile since that space is more of a hallway.
For the awkward space above the radiator, I’m think of adding some floating shelves and coffee cup storage. I like the faux roman shades I have right now, but I’m thinking of replacing them with a navy linen for a little more texture. The wood shelves and jute rug will also add some natural elements which I think help warm up any space.
It’s funny… the overall look of the mood board is much more farmhouse than I usually go. I do think it will look really nice in our house in the end though. Plus I purposely chose permanent fixtures that are a little more vintage/neutral so they’ll look good with the bones of the house vs our specific decorating style.
Moving to the mudroom…
The only thing we’re planning on having the contractors do is replace the existing pinky-beige floor tile with (my favorite!) white hex tile. After that’s in place, I want to build some custom storage for shoes/jackets/etc and paint the door. The same wallpaper accent from the kitchen will get used here on a larger scale to tie the rooms together.
As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t have a nursery to work out my nesting energy on. I’m hoping to make some progress on the living room, but Matt is more focused on trying to get someone in for our kitchen remodel and is trying to reel me in. He may not succeed…
Lucky for me, my good friend E is in the process of buying house! I happen to LOVE putting together mood boards, and it’s even better when I have a target. So, like it or not, I’ve taken our furniture discussions and mocked up some spaces for her. And E, don’t worry, there is zero pressure to follow any of my ideas.
E’s already selected a number of furniture pieces and some of the walls they’re not planning on re-painting. I still had a little bit of fun though.
I think the current plan for this room is to reuse some existing furniture… but I had neither pictures nor a clear memory so I took some creative liberties, knowing the goal wall color was a bold teal. Plus, if they choose too, E & J can rework the space over the years. Nothing says your house needs to be picture perfect as soon as you move it (lord knows our house still isn’t even after 4 years…).
The room has a brick fireplace that I think would look awesome against the teal if it were white-washed. E and I have been discussing bookcase options, but for this layout I went with a fairly basic style raised on a base. Not only does the base add a bit of visual interest, it also raises the shelf off the floor to work around floor vents. This bookcase was pretty cool looking, but my only concern would be that the design of the shelf would get lost if you filled it up with a lot of books.The cute little cabinet gives a surface to add in some extra lighting and could be used to store games or booze.
It’s nearly impossible to choose paint colors based on online images (monitor differences, lighting, etc), so ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS look at swatches in the space you’ll be painting. I also suggest picking up some sample pots once you’ve narrowed down your selection since the scale can drastically change the look of the color. Here are some other possible teal wall colors (ranging from a little brighter to a little moodier):
Most of the furniture here was already picked out (which goes to show you that E doesn’t actually need my help 🙂 ) and the wall color is what’s currently existing so I just threw in a couple finishing touches for visualization. While I’m personally a fan of airy white curtains, these panel curtains from IKEA seemed like just the thing for this space. They’ll provide privacy while still letting in light and the geometric pattern pairs beautifully with the MCM style.
Dining Room / Kitchen
So… there’s probably no plan to re-do the kitchen since the existing one is perfectly nice…but how cute is that backsplash tile??? The cabinet/countertop approximate what’s already there (at least what I could tell from the realtor photos), but the house currently has a much more contemporary tile as the backsplash. The clean, white tile would both brighten the kitchen and help it blend more with the MCM furnishing dominating the space. I’m also all for replacing light fixtures, even though I realize a lot of people don’t want to bother with electrical (it’s pretty easy to do yourself though, and requires minimal tools).
I’m probably a glutton for punishment by liking area rugs under dining tables, but they can add a lot of softness is a room typically filled with hard furnishing. They can also add a nice pop of color. I recommend a busier pattern since it will hide a variety a sins. I have had very bad luck getting stains out of flat-woven rugs so I’d recommend scotch-guarding the shit out of them in any setting.
My only starting point for this room was rough idea for a paint color. Sure, I could have asked if E had any bedding/furniture plans, but where’s the fun in that? This room had another ceiling that would be fun to replace (seriously, the right light fixtures can add soooo much). This bedframe is something else I’m kind of in love with (ok, and the floor mirror… I may be starting to project a bit). There are tons of great wood MCM options too, but because MCM is so dominated by wood finishes I thought it was nice to bring in a little softness, especially in a bedroom. Plus, upholstered headboards are great for anyone who likes reading (or just dinking around on their phone/tablet) in bed.
Yup, that’s right, we’re excited to announce that baby #2 is due in January! So I haven’t just been lazy with the house projects. I got pregnant with Wesley right as I started recovering from some crazy hyperthyroid thing which had sapped ALL my energy. This meant that for for the early part of that pregnancy I felt amazing (comparatively). This time around I got the full prego exhaustion–Matt was a little suspicious when I started going to bed around 7:00 but I was still blissfully ignorant/completely in denial. Not to say this kid was a total surprise, I just figured it would take longer than it did, especially since I’m steadily creeping up on “advanced maternal age.”
Wesley, of course, reacted with all the enthusiasm you’d except from a toddler who’s used to being the center of attention.
Me: Wesley, you’re going to be a big brother!
He’s gotten to the point now where if you ask him “what’s in mommy’s belly?” he’ll respond excitedly with “Baby mommy’s belly!” I’m pretty sure he doesn’t actually grasp what’s happening yet though. January will be a nasty shock to his currently cushy status.
So now I’m about 18 weeks and most of the exhaustion has abated. Just like pregnancy #1 I didn’t get much in the way of morning sickness, but I would get bouts of nausea most evenings. The Nesting desire is starting to settle in and since we plan on both kids sharing a room for a least a couple years, I don’t have a new nursery to put together. I do however plan on putting this new energy towards the living room/TV room which I’ve been slacking on a bit. We’re also in the process of trying to hire someone to redo our kitchen because why not just add some more chaos to our lives?
And just in case you’re curious, no, we don’t know if the squish is a boy or girl yet but should be finding out at my ultrasound in the next few weeks. I have the feeling it’s a girl, but I thought the same thing with Wesley so I clearly don’t actually have any intuition for this sort of thing.
Last year we decided to bite the bullet and get a patio poured in our backyard, plus redo the walkway from the house to the garage, PLUS remove and re-pour the garage floor. By the time we figured out what we wanted it was near the end of the season so our mason wasn’t able to fit us in before winter. This spring was also not so great weather-wise, but a few week ago the demo started.
I didn’t have a chance to get before pictures of…well much of anything really. Shortly after the garage demo started, the backyard demo started as well.*
Because our back landing and steps have seen better days, Matt decided to demo the steps at the same time so the patio slab would get poured underneath them and the new steps would have a more solid foundation. So now there’s a good two-foot drop from the landing to the ground.
Watch your step…
And yes, this pile of wood came from a single step. #overkill
Matt did some additional demo around the base of the landing and (as seems to be usual in this house) found a bunch of random garbage in the process. Including this:
Yes, there was a GIANT CREEPY CLOWN HEAD hiding under our house. This is officially the worst thing we’ve found to date (keep in mind, we also have what looks like a sunken grave in our basement, so that tells you how I feel about clowns).
The new concrete was poured shortly after the demo…and later that day it started pouring. The workers came back to do a little triage where some spill-over from our gutters was causing a harder line of water to hit the concrete, but it general it had set long enough so the rain wasn’t going to be a serious problem.
Let’s just ooh and ahh over our patio that’s no longer a junk heap, shall we?
Due to the grading they had to do for the patio/walkway and the existing level of our yard, the finished product ended up being a couple inches above ground level. Dirt was brought in to even it a bit, but we plan on doing some additional grading of our own. I also plan to demo the raised bed and move it to the side of the patio. It’s currently an awkward space, plus it would get a little more sun and I could bring in a rain barrel and soaker hose for some #lazyGirl garden watering.
The garden bed on the other side of the patio may have to be completely redone and I don’t really have a plan yet. Word of warning if you plan on having concrete work done: your nearby plants may not survive. I get it, they need to be able to access what they’re working on, but I’m still bummed my giant sedum got trampled. Hopefully it will bounce back next year though.
You can see that Matt already built a new step for the back “deck.” We’re also going to replace all the floorboards, rip out the completely useless planter box** and replace it with an actual railing.
*The backyard was very much a surprise since the company had another job they were doing at the same time but it got held up by permits so they had more people to send to our house. Unfortunately a co-worker of mine brought me some plants–for our backyard–the same day our backyard became essentially inaccessible. Luckily I had a spot of them in the front yard.
**It gets zero sun…fake plants *might* survive if I’m lucky,
A couple weekends ago we hung the wallpaper in the micro-bath! It looked so good I even had to share a teaser on Facebook before it was trimmed.
When I’ve told people I was planning on wallpapering the bathroom I’ve mostly been met with polite skepticism. I get it. Most people probably associate wallpaper with their grandma’s house and think of dated florals that are impossible to remove.* Wallpaper has come a very long way though! There are a huge selection of prints to choose from and it’s a great way to add a fun accent. Plus, it’s much easier to remove than it used to be.
I ordered this water-activated wallpaper from Spoonflower. The instructions it came with were pretty straight-forward, and you can find video instructions too. Unfortunately, we had to deviate slightly from the directions because they assume your walls are reasonable square and ours very much are not.
Instead of lining up the wallpaper in the upper left corner, I drew a level line down the wall (about an inch narrow than the paper) and lined up the right edge of the paper with that, leaving some overhang along the left corner. This was slightly more finicky, but really not too bad. The pattern had a noticeable vertical to it so I wanted to make sure it hung a square as possible.
I used painter’s tape for a little bit of extra support while lining everything up. It won’t support a lot of weight, but it’s helpful for keeping a section in place while you’re wrangling the rest of the roll.
Since out bathroom is only about 30″ across, I only need about a width and a half of wallpaper. Instead of dealing with over a foot of overhang, I cut the second roll in half (while it was still rolled–it’s not a super-clean cut, but the extra wasn’t getting used for anything). I still had a couple inches of overhang, but it was much easier to wrangle in a tiny space.**
To smooth it down behind the toilet (without having to remove the toilet), I used this handy-dandy super-skinny roller. Now, I’m positive this area has some lumpy bits, but they’re also impossible to see so I’m fine with that.
Once everything had dried, I trimmed all the overhang with a utility knife and a straight edge. Even though the excess had adhesive on it, it peeled off without a problem and didn’t leave any gunk behind. You can totally tell how not-square our corners are, but I anticipated that and carried the wall paint past the corners a bit… I could have painted the back wall completely, but it wasn’t necessary. After trimming, I noticed some loose bits along the edges/corners which was a little worrying. Thankfully I just re-wet the adhesive on the paper and stuck down just fine.
(ignore the bits of wood on the walls…they’re part of the last project for the room that’s not done yet)
At this point Matt probably thinks I’m a lunatic since I keep wandering into the bathroom to stare at it.
*One house I lived in growing up had wallpaper EVERYWHERE and it left the most disgusting residue when you tried to take it off.
**Matt’s brilliant suggestion was to just hand a single width of wallpaper down the center of the wall. Um, yeah, no.
I’ve apparently reached an age* where I’m at the “I don’t want to fix this effing thing, let’s just buy a new one.”
Case in point: our dishwasher.
The dishwasher that came with the house died about a year and a half ago. We had both a new baby (bottles galore) and my mom staying with us (extra regular dishes) so we hurried out and bought a new one. Not gonna lie, I went mostly off of looks because how different could dishwashers really be? I mean, the one we had wasn’t anything special but it got the job done.
Spoiler alert: Don’t be like me and be sure to research any appliances before buying.
Needless to say, we’ve been not terribly thrilled with this dishwasher from day one. Recently, it’s started getting sitting water in the bottom which is a little ominous since the water’s supposed to get pumped out each time you run it. Matt talked to a repair guy who thought it sounded like an issue with the pump and would most likely be a couple hundred to fix.
My logic is, why would we pay money to fix something we don’t even like? Sure a new dishwasher will be more than a couple hundred, but it should hopefully cut down on some of our frustrations. We were even half-considering replacing the dishwasher as part of our coming-soon kitchen remodel.
Matt didn’t really argue with me since he never liked our current dishwasher either. This time though, instead of running out to the store to order a new dishwasher STAT, I spent the rest of the week deep in research and we went to actually order it over the weekend… our kitchen may or may not be a complete disaster at this point…
I had narrowed it down to either the Bosch 300 or 500 series. I know a couple people with Bosch dishwashers and they love them! Plus, the pricier dishwashers all had free install over the weekend so the final price was still about the same as a mid-range dishwasher. We ultimately went with the slightly-pricier 500 series…only because the 300 series version I wanted (with buttons on the instead vs the outside) was special order and we didn’t really want to wait an extra 2-3 weeks for a functioning dishwasher.
Warner Stellian has been our go-to appliance shop in the Twin Cities. Their prices and selection are competitive with national chains and we like supporting local business.** Plus, the issue with our last dishwasher install was handled reasonably promptly without me having to spend a week arguing on the phone with the store and finally resorting to a Facebook page complaint.*** I think to date we’ve gotten our washer and dryer, fridge (from the scratch and dent section!), microwave, and 2 dishwashers from them. The only slightly annoying thing is that you don’t know your delivery window until the day before (you know the day, just not the time frame which can be tricky depending on how flexible your work schedule is).
So now we’re set to be getting a new dishwasher sometime on Thursday. Wish us luck!
*And paycheck, let’s be honest, but these things often go hand-in-hand.
**Lucky for me, Target is also technically a local business.
I was watching Wild Kratts with Wesley and they were doing an episode on Giant Pandas. For those who don’t watch PBS Kids, it’s an animated series by the Kratt brothers* and they have power suits so they can use the attributes of different animals (creature powers).
Kratt Brothers: What if we had panda powers?
Me: WTF are panda powers? Sitting around, eating, and refusing to have sex?
Spoiler alert: basically yes, although since it’s a kid’s show, it skips over pandas’ mating habits (or in this case, lack thereof)
*Who have been around frickin forever. I remember watching one of their shows on Saturday mornings when i was a kid.
When I started my closet makeover, I thought it was going to a weekend…maybe a week (factoring in a full-time job and toddler). Well, two and half weeks later, I’m finally able to put my clothes away (although there’s still a little bit of work I’d like to do)
When we last left my closet, I had destroyed everything and finished repairing the walls. After that, I got everything painted and mostly-assembled the shelving unit of the organizer I bought (I’d need it for spacing and such). Then Matt installed a new ceiling light.
And I got some help with touch-up paint.
Next up was re-doing the baseboards. I had originally planned on just getting 1×8 pine boards…unfortunately the pre-primed 1×8’s at Menards looked suspiciously moldy. Ew. Pre-primed baseboard was only slightly more expensive so I decided to go that route rather than spend the time is priming.
You know Newton’s Third Law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction? Well, it’s not just for physics anymore… While I saved time by not priming the baseboards, I lost time having to miter all the corners (yes, I had originally planned to take the lazy way out and use butt joints).
I also had to deal with the joy of old houses:
No matter how careful you may be with your cuts, if your walls aren’t square you’ll still end up with a mess (it’s harder to see, but the boards don’t sit completely flush against the wall either). If this was somewhere more visible than inside a closet, the options would be recalculating the angle, or using a coping saw. However, since this was inside a closet, I chose the super-unprofessional method of just filling the gap with caulk.
I also further half-assed things by using quarter round instead of shoe molding…but we had a bunch of (already painted!) quarter round from when I accidentally bought for our dining room so I figured the closet was decent place to use some of it up.*
Along with re-installing baseboards, I also put up 1×4’s to support the curtain rod brackets. The previous closet system had the brackets attached to boards as well and I decided that was probably a good idea. In newer construction this probably unnecessary, but plaster doesn’t play especially nicely with anchors so I want to make sure I had the stability of studs to support the weight of my clothing.
Securing the shelving unit was one of the last things I did. I saved this for the end because I wanted to be able to move it out of the way while I crammed myself into an already tight corner to nail and caulk baseboards (sometime I make good decisions). Because the shelves were reasonably stable on their own and there wasn’t going to be anything pulling away from the wall, I was fine securing it with the anchors that came with the kit.
Once the tower was completely stable, I added the support brackets for the clothing rods. On the left side I used the rods and brackets that came with the kit. With careful measuring and a level…I still managed to eff up the first one. Matt, being the awesomely supportive husband that he is, walked in after I finished up, grabbed a level, and immediately pointed out that it wasn’t straight. Thanks dear…
The area to the right of the shelves was too small to use the rod that came with the kit. I could have cut it down with a hacksaw, but the rod is two pieces, each of which have a notch at one end to lock into the bracket…basically it would have been very annoying to cut everything. Instead I cut my old closet rod down to size** with a pipe cutter and re-used the old brackets.
Once the main components were in place, I decided to add even more shelving over the rods. I bought the upper shelf support brackets designed to work with this system, a couple laminate shelves, and another 1×4. I only needed one package of the brackets since 1×4 the rods connected to on the walls would already be serving as some shelf support. I attached another 1×4 to the back wall to support the back of the shelf.
The laminate shelves only came in 48″ lengths so I had to cut them down to the right sizes (this left me a couple bonus shelves for the tower too!). Cutting laminate is a little intimidating since it’s prone to chipping so I did a a bit of a research first. The common method seems to be scoring the laminate with a utility knife first, then running it through a table saw with the blade height set to only cut through about half of the board, then flip the board over and cut the other side.
Well, I tried this and my board kept getting stuck so I decided to throw caution the wind and just run in through like a normal board…and this actually worked! If your board is going to be pretty visible I don’t know if I’d recommend this (I think I just got lucky), but if your cut edges aren’t really going to show, it might be worth the risk if you’re struggling with the “safe” way.
Now the light is up! The shelves are all up! The rods are up!
And I can put my clothes away at last!!!
I have some t-shirts and jeans folded on shelves and a handful of inexpensive baskets from Target for things like swimwear, belts, tights, and leggings. (I KonMari’ed my leggings BTW and it feels sooo good!)So a weekend project ended up taking around 3 weeks to complete, but I am incredibly happy with the result.
*More so than I had planned because I could not for the life of me get one of the cuts right and effed it at least three times.
**Technically Matt started this part, only first he cut the rod to exactly length between the shelf and the wall and didn’t account for the width of the brackets. Then he tried to re-cut a slightly smaller piece, but the pipe rebelled and he gave up after getting some blisters. I jumped in at this point and finished cutting it in about a minute…because he loosened it for me, right? To his credit, he cut the first piece without issue so it wasn’t like he didn’t know how to use a pipe cutter.
The closet in our master bedroom is a shockingly good size for a 100+ year old house…which pretty much means it’s on OK size for one person.
The current configuration is decidedly meh–a single rod and some small shelves on each end. I added another hanging rod for a nice tiered effect, but the height isn’t ideal and it’s wobbly.
There is a light in the closet, which is a nice feature…except the light is simply a bulb with a really gross-looking clip on shade.
Meanwhile I’m sitting around waiting for the wallpaper for the micro-bath,* so it seemed like a good time for a closet makeover.
I found a stock closet organizer that had everything I was looking for–double rods on one side (for shirts and pants), single rod on the other (for dresses and longer skirts), and usable shelving in the center. Plus, the 16″ option was wide enough to slide my hamper into the shelf area with some minor adjustments. All we had to do was rip out the existing rod, shelving, and baseboards (so the organizer would fit flush against the wall). Sounds pretty simple, right?
Last Wednesday night I decided to start on some demo. I knew some repair would be needed, so I was hoping to get the demo done and joint compound any dings in the wall during the week so I’d be able to throw on a coat of paint over the weekend and hopefully even get the organizer up and functioning.
Although it sounded like a good plan, this is what happened once I started to pry the baseboards off:
It turns out that part of the problem was that the corners where not actually mitered and the butt joints that were used were pushing the back section of baseboard into place. Unlike me, Matt figured this out and by the end of the evening he had almost finished removing the boards…which went much more smoothly when you weren’t fighting against the butt joints.
Matt could have made more progress, but I made him stop because I actually wanted Wesley to go to bed at his normal time.
Thursday saw the removal of the upper shelves:
I just love the smell of demo in the morning… only not because 1) this was all happening in the evenings after work and 2) it really just smells like dust and sweat.
And on Friday, she rested. With a glass of wine.
My plans of joint-compounding any “dings” were looking incredible optimistic. This was going to a full-on patch job on the back wall. So on Saturday, I squared off the holes in the plaster (and knocked off any remaining plaster where my patches needed to fit) and filled in the large damaged areas with drywall. Then I taped and finally joint compounded. Sunday brought on a couple more rounds of sanding and joint compounding. Because this was in a closet, I didn’t go full-on perfectionist in my patch job. That being said, I was probably more neurotic than most people would be while working on a closet.
The upper part of the walls also got a layer of joint compound to fill in nail holes and dings, repair corners, and even up the paint build up that accumulated around the edges of the shelves.
I feel like I could make millions on this as a abstract painting–White on Dirty White.
We’ll see how this week goes and if I’m feeling ridiculously productive I may be able to get the walls painted some evening…more likely I won’t do much else until next weekend.