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.
While I’m working out the final details for the living room and TV room, it seems like a good time to knock out the downstairs micro-bath.
I don’t think I’ve ever posted a good picture of the micro-bath…possibly because it’s nearly impossible to photograph…so apologies for crappy angles and awful lighting. The truly depressing shade of brown on the walls does not help matters.
When I say “micro-bath” I’m not really exaggerating–this is the smallest bathroom I’ve seen outside of Europe. You can wash your hands while still sitting on the toilet. This was actually immensely helpful while I was pregnant because I could use the sink to hoist my ginormous self off of the toilet.
I’ve actually had a plan for our minuscule bathroom for years, I’ve just never gotten around to it. The other week Spoonflower was having a free-shipping event so I decided it was finally time to buy the wallpaper I’ve been eyeing for practically forever…but when I went to the site I immediately saw a different wallpaper that really jumped out at me. What to do?
I asked, you answered, and the overwhelming response was that the new print I found caught your eye too!
I have a sample of the wallpaper on the way, because it’s always a good idea to get a sample of things like this, especially when they’re on the spendier side.
The wallpaper will just be on the wall behind the toilet. I actually think that a crazy wallpaper could look cool on every wall in a small space…but I think that might frighten Matt a little bit, so accent wall it is. The paint color will probably change once I get the actual wallpaper sample, but I’m currently thinking a light, blushy, pink.
One of the best tips for a space is to always make sure you bring a but of warmth into a room. An easy way to do this is use some natural elements, like wood, plants, or even woven baskets. Here I’m planning a wood shelf behind the toilet and a wood-framed mirror. Since this room gets zero natural light it will need a fake plant for any greenery.. I’m hoping to find a good-looking, fake string-of-pearls succulent, but any dangley plant would work here.
Damn…Netflix makes some really good series. The main reason I’ve been keeping it around after getting Amazon Prime is for Stranger Things. But I’m also a sucker for the 72 Dangerous Animals series. Now I’m also keeping it around for The Umbrella Academy.
To be fair, The Umbrella Academy isn’t 100% original Netflix–it’s based off a comic book. A comic book I really want to read now.
Me: I’m watching The Umbrella Academy and really getting sucked in. I want to read the comic it’s based off of now too.
Matt: Is it sort of like X-Men?
Me: Sort of… it’s like a jacked-up, highly dysfunctional X-Men
It’s fairly predictable if you’ve seen/read a lot of this sort of thing, but it’s still very good. The soundtrack is also awesome, in a bizarre sort of way. Like a fight scene to They Might be Giants: Istanbul (Not Constantinople). I think it has a similar musical feel to Kill Bill (which was the first movie I saw where I was really wowed by the soundtrack).
The actors are awesome, especially the guy who plays Five. I assumed he was an older (and by “older” I still mean fairly young, like 20’s) actor who just looked very young. Nope, dude’s 15 and just wildly talented.
So basically, if you like shows/movies based off of comic books, or generally like Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I definitely recommend it.
Now that we’ve wrapped up the master bedroom, it’s time to move onto the living room/TV room. This is more-or-less how I approach a room design, but remember that there are no set rules when it comes to your own space. The ultimate goal is that YOU are happy (your home = your rules).
Fix on a Focal Point
This could be a piece of artwork, a rug, a piece of furniture, an architecture detail….pretty much anything. Hell, it could be your TV, I won’t judge. What’s going to be the “star” of the room? Where do you want the eye to be drawn?
You may also have an inspiration piece for you room that’s not going to be your focal point. Heck, it could be a magazine clipping that’s not exactly about to framed and hung in the room at all. Some sort of inspirational image is incredibly useful at this point.
Technically this print is planned for the living room and I’m going to be only focusing on the TV room here. Because my 2 rooms flow into each other, they really need to relate to each other so this piece serves as a great inspiration for both spaces.
Pick Your Palette
Using your focal point or inspiration piece, determine your color scheme. If you’re feeling minimal, you could opt for a monochromatic (different values of the same color) color scheme. This can end up a little flat so I’m always a fan a making sure there’s some good contrast going on. You can always use the internet for inspiration and search for “blue rooms” and see how other people have handled it.
Personally, I like a variety of color. The absolute easiest way to accomplish this is to start with a focal piece that already has multiple colors in it. Not to worry if the star of your room is your solid pink chair though! Internet to the rescue again! If you search google or Pinterest for “pink color schemes” you’ll get a ton of results and you can pick one that resonates with you.
See what I mean by finding something with multiple colors? This print provides a variety of options! Navy and blush make for a more formal base (along with some gray and creamy neutrals) and accents of aqua, bright coral-pink, and bright green funk it up a bit.
Now, don’t go buying your wall paint just yet. This is just a rough color idea at these point. The exact shades may change, plus, you’ll want to have your main pieces already in your home so you can match paint swatches in the most accurate lighting. Pro Tip: never bank on accurate color representation from an online image–monitors and color settings are way too varied.
Bring in the Big Stuff
So you have a focal point, you have a rough idea of a color scheme, now you want to look for the main items that will fill in the room. This is going to be pretty much furniture, rugs, and dominant light fixtures. They may not all be physically large items either, but they’ll probably be your spendier items. They may also be pieces you already have an definitely want to keep in the room.
Why the two rugs you may be asking? A corner of the TV is going to be a play space for Wesley and the rug helps define the space.
Add in Accessories
To really make a space feel like you, and not a staged show-house, shop your house for accessories. Things you’ve naturally acquired overtime will have more personality than something you’ve bought just because it looked good in the room. This isn’t to say you can’t by new things, just see what you already have first and pick items that truly resonate with you even if they’re not “magazine perfect.” You’ll be happier and that’s the most important thing for you to feel about your home.
Accessories don’t necessarily mean knickknacks. Plants, accent lighting, throw pillows, wall art…all of these are options for accessories. I don’t bother adding every little thing in when I’m creating a mood board either–I usually stick to pillows and wall art.
Wake up your Walls
You may already have an idea of what color you want your walls to be. Now’s the time to pick your exact paint color. Why wait until the very end of the design process? There are practically unlimited paint color choices so it’s much easier to find a paint that will complement your rug/upholstery/throw pillows/art than vice versa.
Now, for the record, it’s not as easy as pick this, pick that, bam you’re done. There will be changes and frustrations, and maybe your entire plan will morph into something completely unexpected. Just go with your gut and don’t try and force things. Maybe the rug you picked as your focal point isn’t meshing with the other items that caught your eye. It’s ok to completely rethink your rug choice. That’s why it’s a good idea put together a mood board before you start shopping.
Don’t feel like you have to make decisions on every single thing in the room either. Your mood board isn’t set in stone, but it’s a good idea to get the overall feel for your room before you start spending money.