Saturday, December 29, 2012

$2.50 Paint Project 2, Part 1

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays winding down, but a few more precious days of Christmas vacay remaining, Patrick and I are kicking out as many projects as possible this week.  One such project has been waiting in the cabinet for a few months, after yet another Lowe's oops rack paint find.

You may recall our beigey, off-white countertops.

They were never particularly offensive to me, but once we painted the cabinets white, the counters started to seem a little off.

The paint takes 3 days to dry, so we have only completed one side of the counters so far, allowing us to make coffee and prep meals on the other side of the kitchen.  But it's definitely worth the wait...

And a close-up (yes, the counter is textured):

We did two coats for full coverage and admittedly, I have a few spots I'd like to touch up tomorrow.  Once those sections dry and set, we'll finish the other side of the counters.

Anyone else been doing house projects this Christmas?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laws of the Universe

One I've learned recently is that if you picture a project long enough, and go to Lowe's frequently enough, the supplies you need will eventually appear on the "oops" paint rack.  Allow me to present to you the first of several $2.50 paint projects.

I'd been dreaming and scheming of a pop of color on the doors outside.  My first idea was to go for a kelly green, like this one I saw on Pinterest a couple of months ago:

green door
 But then we were downtown last weekend and I saw a lovely grey home with an orange door (sorry, no pic).  I was confused.  But not terribly worried about it, since I have a gazillion other projects before I should even be thinking about bothering to paint the door......right? 


The universe decided the color for me when I found a quart of green exterior paint on the oops rack for just two and a half bucks. 

So the other morning, when I was exhausted from a week of painting and flooring, I decided to just do a teeny tiny project, because I have to make at least one thing new and shiny each day, right?

Enter a before and after.  Our side door (which we actually use as our main entrance) a few days ago:

 And now:

Oh, then I thought I'd go ahead and knock out the real front door during Zeph's afternoon nap.

The before:

And now:

I think it's just the welcome note of color our house needed--and so cheap!

Monday, October 22, 2012

So I Married a Cave Man

Not in the, beat-on-chest, me-want-meat sort of way, but in that Patrick loves to curl up in a cozy dark hole and read, watch tv, anything.  Cozy.  Dark. So when we decided to turn the tiny old dining room into a den/library, I knew we were going to do things a little differently than the rest of the house.  It's hard to find inspiration online because it seems that everything is so modern and minimalist these days.  Pinterest is all, stark stark stark and I need dark dark dark.  You know what I'm saying?

But not to fear, we went to Home Depot and Patrick picked this gorgeous red color from my fellow Polish homegirl Martha Stewart.  My mom and I finished the room yesterday and although it didn't seem like it took that long, retrospectively I've counted about 7 hours of painting and taping (4 of which had two people working, and none of that time includes painting the wood trim white).  But, the end result is amazing.  To refresh your memory, here is the before shot before we moved in:

 Here is the space mid-project with the floors pulled up and the trim started:

And finally....our new library as of yesterday!

We seriously kept going in there last night just to stare.  I can't wait to get the floors finished so we can start moving our things in!  First we need to finish painting the dining room since the two rooms are connected, then we can get started on the floors!  (more on that project later...oo the suspense!).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Prepare to Be FLOORED Over

Pun intended.

We've been ignoring the kitchen floor for some time now.  Knowing we wanted to replace it soon, we never bothered to give it a good scrub.  I tried to steam it once, but it hardly made a dent in the caked-in dark matter smothered into our linoleum.  To make it even worse, the print on the floor had streaks of hay all over it, essentially making it appear to have scuff marks all over.  This is the best before-shot I can find (from before we even closed on the house), which doesn't even show the awful pattern:

Anyway, we finally decided to bite the bullet and went to Lowe's Monday night in search of some vinyl stick tiles.  I'd had a sample sitting on the kitchen floor since we moved in, and hoped we would find something similar in a good price range (we were trying to keep our budget at around $1/square foot).  Well, we did one better and found the same exact tile on clearance for 88 cents per 18x18 inch tile--can I get a woot woot?  Our Lowe's only had a couple boxes, so on Tuesday my dad and I went to another store that had plenty, and they honored the other location's price, even though it wasn't on clearance there.

Tuesday night, Patrick and I got ready by scrubbing our little hearts out while watching the presidential debate.  What better to get us motivated to clean the scum off the floor? [insert binder joke here]

On Wednesday, Zeph went to spend the day with Grandma Karen and my mom came over to help me get things started.  Since the floor was clean, our final prep move was to wax the floor with Mop-n-Glo (one of our contractor's many helpful hints), which was meant to help the floor stick even more.  [sidebar: DIY projects are best done while the contractor is there doing something else, so you can get quick advice!  Our contractor is awesome].

Since the linoleum already had a small square pattern over it (yes, in addition to the hay), we counted those to find the block we would use for the center of the floor.  We laid one whole row of tile across the center of the floor, then went up towards the window in a staircase pattern to help keep our lines straight.

My mom is so limber!
Jazzy Jeff also had the brilliant idea of staggering the squares--love the look! 

We made sure to keep that staircase going so we were always laying the next tile in a full corner, eliminating any gaps or uneven lines.  We also checked each tile to make sure the pattern was going in the same direction.

We left most of the custom cut pieces til the end.

It was also important to kneel down on the first edge we stuck so the tile wouldn't move as we placed the rest of the piece down.

OMG, this is so much fun!  (it actually kind of was)

My mom left me late in the afternoon with just some of the custom trim to finish as well as behind the refrigerator:

We saved the paper from the back of the tiles to use as tracing paper for those awkward corners and side pieces.  I actually used heavy duty scissors for my cuts rather than the razor blade--it may have required more going back and trimming, but it felt more comfortable to me.

Here is a shot from behind the fridge: no half-assing it in my kitchen!

It took two tiles to get the cut right around the random board sticking out on the left side!

I finished everything but the last bit of trim along half a wall Wednesday night (I called it quits around 11:00), but finished it all up yesterday morning during Zephyr's nap.  The final product?  I think it looks absolutely stunning:

Not bad for about 8 hours of work, and less than a hundred buckaroos!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pardon the Absence...

It was one of those things where it'd been so long, I didn't know where to start, so I never did.  But here I am, to show you pretty pictures, torn-apart rooms and a lot in between.  Let's start with the pretty.

Remember this horrid lighting fixture? (although I always seemed to be the only one to abhor it so).

It is no more, my friends.  Check out my gorgeous new light, installation courtesy of Patrick's dad.

Hello, my precious....

And here's a shot from the other side:

Gor.geous.  It really only takes a few little things to really bring a space to life - some paint on the walls, some new lighting et voila!  We also have a few other projects lined up for the kitchen in the coming weeks...but more on that later.

Did you notice anything new in the background of the first new light shot?  Two things, actually.  We finally bit the bullet and decided to paint all the wood trim in the addition!!!!  Actually, we're painting wood trim everywhere downstairs, but we hired our contractor to do the addition since the walls and the floors were recently painted.  I am no pro at painting and know I would ruin that new floor in not time.  Heck, I even managed to fling some paint on it while priming in the dining room!  Luckily, I noticed right away and wiped it right up.  I also tracked a toe print all through the floor one night and was scrubbing on my hands and knees to get that stuff off.  Phew!  Anyway, hopefully in a day or two the trim will be finished.  I think it will really brighten up the space, which has still felt a little dark and drab to me, despite all the changes we've already made.

Speaking of brightening up the space, that leads me to our second major change today:  picture windows!  We needed to replace the windows per our inspection report (moisture had gotten in between the two panes) so we decided to put in a little extra money and go for what we really wanted (Patrick's brilliant idea, actually).  So here is the before in the sunroom:

And some after shots:

Love love love.  I can't wait to see it all put together with the white trim and curtains.

Ok, now onto mine and Patrick's long list.  We have slowly but surely been chugging along on the dining room and den.  Painting all that trim is taking so much longer than expected.  We did manage to get the rest of the stinky carpet up, which required emptying the dining room nd pulling and tugging.  With Zeph in his playpen, Patrick and I then rolled the carpet out the front door right onto the bed of the truck.  Not the easiest thing we've ever done.

And here's the dining room all cleared out and carpet-free:

Now just picture that with some primed trim and you have our present day dining room.  I have to say, this project is taking so much longer than anticipated.  At first I thought we'd have it done in no time by the end of the month, but now I'll simply be happy if we finish by the holidays.  Hopefully it won't take me that long to write again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Project Schizophrenia

Most of our projects get completed haphazardly, and we are the type of people who have several projects going on at once, rather than focusing on one thing and doing the whole thing from start to finish.  I think this is both in mine and Patrick's natures, and also is more convenient to fit around a baby's schedule.  Smelly projects like painting take place when Zeph is sleeping upstairs or out with grandparents, and noisy projects happen when we have several pairs of hands around (or when Zeph is out with grandparents.  Seriously, this house would never get finished without grandparents.  We love you guys!!!).  Because of this, I was feeling a little low yesterday, like we hadn't made much progress and we were never going to finish.  But  my parents came over for lunch and not having been over for a couple of weeks, I realized just how much I had to show them.  So now you lucky things get to take the same tour!

Last week our contractor Jeff finished up the last of his Round 2 projects.  This included powerwashing the house and garage.  So fresh and so clean clean!

Hi, Schultz!

After getting all that yellow-y mold and mildew off the house, I actually wondered if maybe the house is actually black, but Patrick insists that it is still dark blue.

While we're outside, check it out - some of our leaves are starting to turn red!

Back inside, I'd like to show you our new lamps in the great room.  Patrick and I have been searching for the perfect pair of lamps for this room.  We have traversed all over Central Virginia hoping to find exactly what we were looking for.  Every time we went out for other errands, one of us would ask the other, "Do you want to check out lamps while we're here?"  It was fun at first, but soon turned into an exhausting exercise of self-flagellation.  Either we couldn't agree, or couldn't find a second matching lamp.  Alas, we finally popped into Steinmart looking for something else, and found the perfect pair - 50% off!  Wooot!

I love the size of them, yet the clear bases don't obstruct the open feeling of the room.  Here's a close-up:

We've also broken ground downstairs on the small corner den (which was originally the dining room, but won't fit our family for Thanksgiving).  You may remember that we initially wanted to turn the playroom into a space for Zeph, but we have since realized that the whole house is essentially a playroom for Zeph.  We also realized that even though we love the open concept floor plan downstairs, there isn't a ton of wall space for our bookshelves.  So we've decided to turn that extra room into a den/library. 

Here's the room before we moved in:

 Here it is after we removed the stinky carpet last month (and used it as a painting room for cabinet doors):

We picked a deep red paint for the walls, and Patrick began priming the wood molding in the room over the weekend.  We haven't much done yet, but it feels good to have it started.  Plus, it's always easier to jump into a project once it's started, because all the tools and prepwork are ready for you.  Here is the room now:

See the red patch on the wall?  Love it!

And the other corner:


I have a few more updates for you all, but they'll have to wait til later this week--Zeph is up from his nap and is zooming all over the place.  Off I go to catch him!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Country Living.

Allow me to take a break from house projects for a moment and talk about some of our neighbors.  One handsome devil lives outside of the sunroom window….and one lives along the kitchen window.  

CRAZY HUGE SPIDERS. (I went to take pictures, but they got camera shy).

 I can’t express enough just how excited I am to get the house power washed this week.  I wonder, will they come back and rebuild?  Will they return to the woods?  When my niece visited the house before we moved in, she remarked that we live in Hogwart's Forbidden Forest.  Do you think there is a monster mama spider lurking just beyond our view?  

Oh, Aragog!

These guys, of course, are outside the house, but I’ve also come across quite a few creepy crawlies inside.  Just this morning, I was about to step into the shower when I saw a big hairy spider nestled in the towel lying on the floor.  That thing was at least five inches wide, I swear.  Zeph was sitting in his walker nearby, so trying to keep my cool, I calmly folded the towel over the spider, squished and rolled up the remaining fabric and ran it downstairs to [have Patrick] deal with it later.  Once I got back upstairs, I felt chills all over my body and wiped my arms over and over again, feeling so grossed out until Zeph stopped laughing at me and started to look at me like I was crazy.  “Woman, get yourself together,” he implored through those penetrating, slightly judging eyes.  Right, good point, baby boy.

A few weeks ago, I had another disconcerting episode in the bathroom (this, apparently, is the hellmouth for wildlife in my house).  We had the air ducts cleaned out earlier that morning.  A whole team arrived to take care of the situation, and the owner chatted with me about his dogs for most of the two-hour period.  Towards the end, he showed me some of the “treasures” his crew had found while cleaning: a dried snakeskin from the crawlspace, and a blue-tailed lizard carcass from one of the vents.  “I’m going to put these on my dashboard,” he exclaimed (I thought jokingly).  I responded with a nervous laugh when he said, “I have a whole collection, come see!”  Um, no thank you.  Anyway, later after finishing some heavy duty cleaning, I began to get ready for a shower.  I noticed one of the vent plates had been left off in the bathroom, so I reached down to replace it.  As I did, a very much alive blue-tailed lizard scuttled off somewhere as I ran out screaming.  (Am I really that weak?  Apparently, yes).  It took two tries before our contractor Jeff could find him.  I thought he’d just toss the lizard out the window, but nope, he cut off the tail (which wiggled after it was detached!) then flushed the two parts down the toilet.  Poor little guy.

I suppose my point in all of this is wondering if I’ll ever be a tough country girl who doesn’t squirm and become squeamish at the inevitable multitude of wildlife that surrounds me.  Will I learn to appreciate all of the creatures around here, or just the cute, furry ones?  Sometimes I miss Church Hill, but whenever I do, our house, our neighbors or something else about this place will always speak to me and remind me what a dream world this is and I love it, creepy crawlies and all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Window Design Dilemma

I need your help!  I have finished the curtains for the great room and sun room, but we are undecided on how to hang them!  It is especially difficult to visualize because our brown four-panel windows will become white picture windows in just a few short weeks, so it's a real toss up. Care to weigh in?

Here is option 1:  The Traditional Curtain Tie-back [note 1: that is not a technical term.  note 2: I simply used fabric scraps for the tie-back at this point]

Remember, you have to picture this with white trim, and one big window with no divider down the middle.

OR, Option 2: Much wider rod framing the whole window [note: the rod sags a little right now because it's just resting on old screws]

I like how this showcases the fabric better, but it also just seems like so MUCH going on.  I think I'd like it better if the curtains went all the way to the floor...but I just can't decide!

Any thoughts?  Other ideas?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Light 'Er Up

You may recall these lovely original ceiling fans circa 1988:

How could we forget.  Well, get ready, friends, we have a new lighting fixture in town!  Two, actually:

These ceiling fans were actually one of the first things Patrick and I bought after we closed on the house.  We loved how they have a campy/cabin feel, yet still a bit modern.  Here's a close-up:


It's hard to see here, but the glass sphere is speckled with little air bubbles. 

We are also searching for the perfect pair of lamps to go on either side of the couch in the great room, but so far have not been able to agree/settle on anything.  Who knew it would be so tough to find a couple of lamps?  Aside from that, we just need to get the tv mounted above the fireplace mantle and finish the curtains, and the two addition rooms will be just about finished.  I better get back to that sewing machine!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Putting the Labor into Labor Day

We invited our family over Sunday afternoon under the auspices of a Labor Day cookout, but in actuality, we put them to work.  The kitchen cabinet doors were finally ready to go up, so Geoffrey and my parents set to work putting them on (Patrick was cooking and I'm not really sure what I was doing, besides deciphering my handwriting to match up cabinet locations--thanks, guys!).  The kitchen is a mess, but here are a few shots of the beautiful, updated cabinets.  But first, a reminder of what we started off with:

So dark, even on the sunniest of days!

And now, we have this!

SO much brighter!  The remaining kitchen to-do list includes:

1. Sew curtains

2. Sand and paint the ceiling (there was a water leak before we moved in, which has been patched, but not beautified)

3. Install new floor (initially we planned on putting this off, but since we tore up the carpet in the adjacent hallway, the linoleum is peeling up.  And it's just gross)

4. Paint the countertops (I don't hate the counters, but now the off-white color just looks dirty compared to the bright white cabinets)

5. Replace Cheers-style lighting (we actually already have this baby waiting to be installed)

Of course, we also have to finish moving in our kitchen boxes from the garage, but we at least found a box of plates this morning, so we can finally eat out of something besides the same three bowls.  :)

Also on this week's agenda: finish sewing the curtains for the great room and sunroom!  I'm knee deep in ironing hems and battling with my sewing machine (my bobbin and I can never seem to get along), but with a test panel already up and approved, I'm keeping my spirits high!