Indecision

So we’re the slowest decision makers ever. We had been casually browsing tile options for about 6 months before we pulled the trigger.

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This bathroom redo was going to be the first irreversible change we made to the house and we were scared. Scared to spend the money on materials in case the plumber went over budget. Scared to make poor design choices, go too modern or too traditional.

So how do you get rid of some of those fears? My fool proof strategy of avoidance was not working in the situation. (spoiler: it never works.) So one thing I did was accumulate a butt load of inspiration between blogs, Houzz, and Pinterest

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Pick a plumber

So on President’s Day we bought tile for the white bath. That meant we were really doin’ this thing so we had to get a plumber. Any School House Rock’s kid knows 3 is the magic number, so that’s the number of bids we intended to get.

First, we called a big plumbing company that we had already used, and that Lee’s parents had used for a similar project. Then we called the plumber we were hoping to use, a friend of a friend with his own small company. And then another recommended by a co-worker.

Big Company:

1. Almost 3.5 times the price of the comparable project they did Lee’s parents, and our houses are built in the same year.

2. Friend of a Friend: Eventually came in under our target budget but forgot to show up to the first scheduled meeting.

3. We didn’t have time and knew we were going to  go w/ #2 by them anyways so we never called them. Whoops. Oh well. We knew they would have been similar to #2.

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So that is our totally horrible, not advisable at all process to picking a plumber. Both guys (and we totally knew this was coming) told us every single pipe was not up to code and should be going through the floor joists, not on top of them. We also have some old lead pipes and will be going from 5 knobs to get water to 1. Now if only our tub would show up so the plumber could get to work. IMG_2681

Juggling Johns

Since the day we first saw the house, we knew we wanted to redo the bathrooms. We’re very lucky to have a 1930’s period house with 2 full bathrooms on the second floor.

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But as the years went on in the home we realized that between the 2 rooms, we really only have about 1.5 functioning bathrooms.

IMG_1681The white bathroom (aka main bath or large bath) looks the nicest in pictures. Pictures can be misleading.

IMG_2690Ew. That white tile? Yeah, not originally white. That would be a VERY poorly done glaze. Mold started growing between the original tile and glaze. Totes gross people. Also, some were cracked, chipping, and the built in tower bars were practically falling off the walls.

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And the shower fixtures, let’s just say this modern city gal never learned her way around 5 different knobs. It’s not that I’m completely slow, one of the knobs could be spun like the Wheel of Fortune wheel. Come on big money! Sadly the spinning knob did not yield grand prizes or results of any kind. If fact, the pressure coming out of the shower head was so minimal we became convinced there was a slow leak or drip happening behind the tiles.

We began using the tub to give Lottie baths only, and showering in the pink bath, attached to her room. Scratching your head yet?

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Thankfully, both toilets worked, and we eventually replaced the pink toilet for a newer all white model (sorry seashell toilet seat) in Lottie’s bathroom, but then the sink faucet started dripping. Blergh.

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We started looking at costs, layouts, how we wanted each room to function long term. Things on my wish list were more storage, a deep soaker tub, and more light. Most importantly, I wanted beautiful tile with modern taste in color, but that still paid tribute to the period of the house.

Lee’s list included proper function, better ventilation, and materials he could easily try his hand at DIYing.

Both bathrooms were going to require a full gut job, but in the white bath, we could reuse the toilet and pedestal sink, which were new as of the previous owner.

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In the pink bath, everything needed to be replaced (aside from the toilet we had already taken care of) but in addition, the whole room needed to be reworked and expanded, which means we’re going to be moving some plumbing. Also, despite it’s U-G-L-Y color and layout, it has a functioning shower. So we decided it makes the most sense to reno the white bath while we have functional (albiet undesireable) use of the pink one.

And decision folks, took us almost 3 months. Then all we had to do was actually refinish it! Should take about a 3rd of the time. That’s how we operate. 🙂 Up next: Plumber’s bids, tile shopping and demoing this: (spoiler alert)

IMG_2725That’s about an inch of concrete behind the tile, then a layer of steel mesh! Good thing my man is big and strong 😉

Oh What A Difference A Rug Makes

When I redid the dining room, it sort of made off with my living room rug. What a jerk. It was all like, “Living Room, I think this rug looks better on me, let’s face it, it was a little too small for you.” Living Room was like,”Whatevs, at least I get used…” Ouch. But still, I felt bad for my living room, and my cold tootsies, and it was not the softest surface for Charlotte to take her frequent spills on. So with the cold months upon us, a shopping we went. I basically did two big loops around town heading to Nebraska Furniture Mart first, simply because they have hands down the biggest selection to choose from, and that really helps me narrow down my style. I was torn between a classic Persian or Turkish rug with beautiful tones that would be a jumping point for the room and a neutral sisal/jute option that would be durable and would go with anything. I also decided I needed at least a 9′ x 12′. The room is over 13′ wide and 18′ long. Here’s the space sans rug. 

So with all that neutral furniture, I decided I wanted a Persian rug. Dang, they were beautiful, but as they run anywhere between $5k-$10k+ at NFM I decided to check Mrs. B’s where NFM’s discount and discontinued items go. Let me just say, LOVE MRS. B’S. I was not thrilled with their selection of faux Persian rugs. Mostly, because they were all predominantly black instead of the subtle rich but muted tones of the real deals. And Black was not the direction of infusing color into the room that I was going for. So I checked out the Oriental Rug Palace, or as it will be referred to from now on, Rug Heaven. But seriously, if I thought NFM was $$$, this place was like $$$$$ I’m sure the prices were negotiable, but probably not down to only 3 digits, dang. I’m still having dreams about them though. So I went to where we got the rug that now lives in the dining room- Home Depot. I know, it’s a hardware store but they actually sell reasonably priced rugs or I thought I could get a large piece of carpet for pretty cheap. I looked at their piles of Orientals, nada. All wrong again. They made the black holes at Mrs B’s look like something worth considering. So we went to Home Depot’s competitor, Lowes. Nope. So we ventured to Pottery Barn hoping their prices were more mid range, which they were, some what, but they still weren’t tickling my fancy. So I decided to reconsider what we really should get for the space. And decided to just go for something natural like sisal, which is what Dana actually suggested for the dining room when she helped me. She has 2 boys and I figure if her rugs can stand up to that then one in my home could surely handle 1 little girl. So I made the loop again looking at all the natural fiber rugs. The only 2 places that had that were NFM and Pottery Barn. We ended up getting a sisal/wool blend in a mixture between tan and grey at NFM. We picked NFM partly because of the price (which is always negotiable there) and partly because of the incredibly patient saleswoman that watched us come back time after time and let Charlotte climb all over the piles of rugs and never seemed annoyed or frustrated with us. Also, the rug we got came in a 9′ x 13′. Then the bad news, there’s a wait, 3-4 weeks. Argh! Oh well, I was hoping to have it by Thanksgiving but I was not about to reconsider after all that hunting. Then the good news, a phone call after only 2 weeks of waiting wondering when we were going to come pick up our rug! Woo to the hoo! And here she is in her new home.

The wool blended in really softens the feel, which is what made me apprehensive about sisal or jute in the first place. And the blend adds some grey tones to it as well, and I am a cool color kind a girl. Greys, whites, and navys are the general direction I’d like to take the main floor in.

So what do you all think? To us the space feels bigger and warmer and I still can’t wait to find ways to add color to the room through paint, pillows, curtains, and more eminently- Christmas decorations. I’m a firm believer in waiting until after Thanksgiving though. We love the rug and love that it can evolve with us and even travel around the house to different rooms. It may have been the safe choice but it is something we can use for a long time. It’s high quality, not a knock off like the cheap-0 fake Persians, it’s kid friendly because it’s easy to clean, durable and soft, and it will work with the furniture we have now and the path that our decor will eventually take.

Oh, and I’m super surprised Chris Brown is performing at the AMA’s right now. Am I like so 2 years ago or something? Any one else insist on waiting until after Thanksgiving to put up the tree and hang the stockings? Oh, and those flowers by the white chair, Lee had them delivered to me at my office Friday, just because, am I lucky or what? Love that man.

Autumn Festivities

The first snow of 2011 is about to fall so on the eve of  winter I thought I better share what we’ve been up to this fall. Between weddings, the pumpkin patch, some Hawkeye football, trick or treating and just playing in the leaves this has been one Happy Happy Home.

We had an amazing time on our 2nd annual trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch.

It’s a great place and fun for does and bucks of all ages.

Mimi may have had the most fun out of all of us!

Lee and I had a fantastic time at the game. GO HAWKS!

And Charlotte more than survived her first weekend away from Mama and Dada. I think Mimi did alright as well.

Charlotte had a blast playing in the beautiful falls leaves that covered our neighborhood this year.

We had a blast dressing up and trick or treating this Halloween.

I hope you all had a wonderful fall. Is any one else definitely NOT ready for winter? You can check my box next to NOT excited to shovel. Are you all prepared to chef it up for Thanksgiving? Who is decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving and who waits until the weekend after?

Fall Wreaths

I love wreaths, but to date I’ve never had one other than around Christmas time. Growing up, my mom always made wonderful wreaths for Christmas time, each year’s was slightly different, I branched out on that tradition and decorated my door for the fall. My friend Elisha lit the fire under our butts when she pinned this tutorial on her Pinterest.

It worked out perfectly because I had tons of leftover burlap from my wedding. So with that, we decided it was time to head to Hobby Lobby to walk around memorized for hours and find our supplies. We each bought a twig grapevine (thanks Mom) wreath, a wooden letter representing our last names, and some fake flowers and branches and pretties to jazz it up. Here’s a during pic with just SOME of the random things we might have ended up using.

Elisha’s ended up being cute and feminine, then we ran out of hot glue.

So, I started using gorilla glue on mine. Now, I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but gorilla glue? Not a substitute for hot glue. It won’t work, so don’t bother.  After a few days your fall wreath will look like a falling wreath.

The letters we bought were bare wood so I used primer spray paint and then oil rubbed bronze. I was going to use Krylon’s Dover White but it would have faded away on top of the burlap where I wanted to place it. So, I ORBed that W. I also decided to attach some pretty Indian corn I picked up on our trip to the Pumpkin Patch. I was really worried they would fall off due to weight but so far so good. The odd combo of hot glue and gorilla glue seems to be doing the trick. I also secured it with some left over light weight wire that was used to accordian the burlap. My wreath ended up a little more manly than Elisha’s cute and planned out door decor but that kind of fits our personalities as well, haha.

I can’t wait to DIY another wreath for Christmas. Any one else trying substitutes that don’t quite work out in their projects? Any one else making their holiday decorations?

A “Tweaked” Dining Room

Just in time for the second Pinterest Challenge, I am finished (almost) with my dining room. I think it has come a long way, even though there is still a lot left on my wish list for this room.

Let me start out by explaining that after I wrote this post about my ideas and inspiration for the room, I sent an email to Dana Miller over at House*Tweaking. Do you guys read her? She’s my jam. Seriously, stop reading this and go read her blog. It’s better. Ok, wait, finish reading this because it’s sort of about her, then go read her blog. I wrote to Dana because she’s pretty amazing with dining spaces. I figured she would never write back, she’s a little busy, and disgustingly gorgeous while pregnant, but she did write back and oh was she right and helpful and I tried to take every work of hers into consideration. In a nutshell, here are her suggestions:

1. Paint the navy above the chair rail. So I did

2. If I paint the ceiling, go with a grey. I decided against painting the ceiling and touched it up a bit instead.

3. Nix the heavy grey curtains in favor of something airier. For now I just took down the velvet and left up the plain sheers that were hidden behind the curtains. For the colder months I might rehang the velvet because that window does have some draft issues that we are working on but for the warmer months and for the sake of these pictures, the grey curtains went bye bye.

4. Go with a natural neutral rug like sisal or seagrass. I didn’t have the time or funds to get a new rug so for now we’re borrowing the rug from the living room, which was a neutral cream/grey with a subtle pattern. We got it a while back at Home Depot of all places for less than $200. For an 8’x10′ rug that’s a pretty incredible price. It’s soft and wipes up easily so it’s not a bad temporary choice for the dining room for now.

5. Paint that mirror white. Consider it done, Dana. Good call.

6. Remove surrounding furniture. Done, except the one table under the mirror. It’s pretty functional for now so we figured it could stay until we finally get the one we want.

7. Paint the chairs instead of getting new ones. Well, we didn’t do either, Dana is right, we don’t need all new chairs and we didn’t have time to paint them. I might try to make covers for them so we don’t permanently alter them.

8. She liked the idea of a craigslist piano painted white as long as it didn’t eat up too much space. We’re still working on finding the right one on Craigslist. I want a taller upright. It may not end up in the dining room but I want it in a high traffic area because I actually play (lessons for 8 years plus I majored in music performance in college) and I want to hear/monitor Charlotte (plus other kiddos) practice so I can smother them and micromanage… because I’m a weird mom and I want my kids to be nerdy instead of cool. Sorry kids, you’ll thank me when you’re super cool in college. nope. Anyways, a piano is an important piece of furniture to me, so I will try not to stick it in a walkway or anywhere too awkward, but I do want it accessible and visible… when I get it.

So without further ado, the new, painted dining room.

The blue is Benjamin Moore’s Navy Hale. I saw it on the lamp wall at our local Pottery Barn and got it color matched to Olympic’s No-VOC paint. My lovely friend Lauryn helped paint the blue.

Later I painted the chair rail and crown molding white, and painted below the chair rail the same white (I think, that is on the ceiling).

For both whites I used paint I found in the basement. I wish I could share the colors with you but I can’t make out the names on the labels. So a big thanks to Dana Miller and thanks to the Pinterest Challenge Team for giving me a deadline. Thanks Lauryn for your help painting into the night. That’s what good friends are made of. Here’s some more pics, starting with my inspiration, er, pinsperation.

I love the drama of the blue and white and our floors are almost identical. I added punchy white accessories and tried my hand at center pieces… um, I failed. Working on that.  So what do you think? Still in progress but the paint was a big leap for me and I really enjoy having the correct size rug in the room. Did you guys do the pinterest challenge? I am addicted. My friend Elisha and I completed another small one, hopefully I get to that post tomorrow.

Dining Room Inspiration

I know the general feeling I want in the dining room. I’m just scared to pull the trigger, further proof that I would never be in Gryffindor. ANYWAYS! Here’s the dining room as is.

Things to stay- curtains, the previous owner left them here, they are dang nice. It may not be apparent in the pictures but they are a very heavy grey velvet. I think they are from Restoration Hardware. I love that place but would never had made that splurge myself. Thanks previous owners!

More stuff that’s staying: The mirror that we scored for $30 bucks, the table and bench but not the chairs, the light that sort of waffles in my mind between cool and urban or sort of like a UFO landing on the table. (Then cue the internal battle of whether or not that’s cool.)

All artwork and side tables can go, as well as the rug- it’s a Pottery Barn hand-me-down that’s too small and very stained. It is perfect now because Charlotte indicates she’s done eating by throwing food on the floor and I don’t care if it gets stained. Any tips on how to break that habit? Right now we just yank the tray away as fast as possible and make her wait to get out of the chair while we clean up.

Back to the dining room.

I really want to paint navy above or below the chair rail. So that’s one decision I need to make. I also need to paint the chair rail white to match the trim, as well as the molding. I love that high contrast between navy and white. I love this example found on pinterest here:

Here’s a top half navy room.

As far as the chairs go, I would like to get some contrast going with 4 white chairs against the dark table like this mismatched set. Also 3 of the 4 we have now can go in the breakfast nook and I am sure I can find a spot for the other one around the house. I’m going for something similar to this:

That table below the mirror has traveled around to about every room on the main floor. It’s not even close to the look I want for this room which is more something like this from CB2.

On one of the walls adjacent to the window I am thinking about getting a craigslist piano and painting it white.

What to do about a rug. I’m not great at choosing rugs. I know we need something bigger. I only have two ideas, and they’re very different, but I think they are both safe choices. The first is traditional.

My other choice is a chevron rug. I worry that chevron is so popular now and the trend won’t continue, this rug is great though.

There’s one little thing that makes me want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Pardon the expression. We have gorgeous coved ceilings in our living room and dining room. It’s one of the perks of living in a 1935 tudor. It seems a shame to ignore them and leave them white.

Sigh. Advice?

Pinterest Challenge and My First Furniture Makeover

Hi guys, it’s been a while! I’m finally getting around to posting my Pinterest Challenge that I did complete by the deadline assigned by Sherry and Katie in their challenge a couple of months ago. I decided to do give the shiny white paint affect to a traditional oak pedastal table we picked up a couple of years ago for $30.

The table has sat neglected in our breakfast room since we bought it with a white Target table cloth on it. We don’t ever sit here to eat but we do bring it out the door for extra eating space when we have big BBQs in the summer.

Lee’s fabulous co-worker Chris helped me out. This kid has management written all over him. I haven’t been told I’m doing something wrong that many times since I lived with my mom. Just kidding Chris…. and Mom. Uh-oh, I may have just lost my only 2 readers.

First, we took the table apart in as many pieces as possible. We sanded the heck out of each piece to get rid of the stain and smooth it out. We started with a heavier rough grit and finished with a high 220.

We primed, twice. The sun was drying things quickly so we didn’t have to wait long. We used foam rollers and brushes. We sanded in between the priming.

Then we painted.

Sprayed the legs. Sanded. Got paint on our face. And continued painting. Glamour Shot:

At some point we moved into the sun room because the paint was bubbling in the heat. We didn’t have that problem with the thicker primer, but this paint had a poly in it so maybe that was the issue.

Then we polyed.

A week later I rubbed it with steel wool and polyed again.

For me, that was good enough. I know Chris would have loved to poly that thing about 8 more times, but slightly imperfect was ok with me.

The result? I love it. It’s white and shiny, just what I wanted. Still no chairs in there but I have plans for that. Craig and his wonderful list just needs to come through for me…

I should probably tell you guys that right after I got this table I had a little snafu. I was outside sanding it down and it started to rain. Uh oh, turns out, the top isn’t solid wood, the rest of it is, but the top had a layer of pressed fake stuff. Probably as an eating surface that was easier to wipe down. Well, as I had already taken off the protective lacquer, the top bubbled and was never totally flat again. So if you’re catching some texture in the photos, that’s not your monitor, that’s a bit of imperfection on the table. Like I said, good enough. Let’s call it distressed. I’m still pumped about my table.

I spent about $50 on paint and supplies, $30 on the table. This project ran me $80 bucks.

What do you think? Did you do The Challenge? Do you ever hit a point in the project when it’s just good enough?