Category Archives: Projects

It’s Official…

After several months of living in limbo, we’re officially living in our new house – hooray! While the transition took us a lot longer than planned, thanks to the master bathroom mess, our little family is excited to be under our new roof. The hound is particularly enamored of the new digs and has spent countless hours sprinting up and down the stairs (usually when someone is attempting to carry something ungainly). While most of the rooms are looking a little like this…

Move In Mess

There’s one room that making leaps and bounds towards being a finished space. We started with this, way back when we bought the house…

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Which looked a lot worse before it got better.

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We breathed a sigh of relief when we kissed the red walls goodbye forever.

Day 1A

And then the beige floors made their exit. Plus, the contractor and his assistant managed to haul in the 450-pound tub for a dry fit. Straight, or on the diagonal?

Day 2B

Day 2A

Diagonal, all the way!

The new shower valve was installed, and the plumbing shifted over by several inches to accommodate for a new, wider footprint for the shower stall.

Day 3A

The concrete got chipped out so the tub plumbing could make a move.

Day 3B

The super strange previous sink plumbing layout got revised – so the pipes could run in through the back of the vanity now, instead of straight up through the bottom. True story.

Day 3C

Insulation installed. We’ll be warm and toasty in our new master bathroom!

Day 4A

Next up… drywall. No super-chunky, dust-catching texture in sight.

Drywall

With the drywall in place, it was time to re-paint. Red it is!

Sealing Drywall

I kid, I kid. That crazy red paint sealed the Hardiboard behind the shower area – helping us ensure we’ll never have another Moldmageddon on our hands. Then it was time for the fun part – tiling!

Starting To Tile

Before we knew it, the whole shower was tiled – including the gorgeous mosaic niche and floor. Plus, new molding and trim, which will get a coating of crisp white paint.

Tiling Shower

With the shower knocked out, the floors were next on the list… Apparently the tiles we chose were a huge PITA, but the guys did an amazing job with them. And they never cursed my name (at least when I could hear).

Floors Coming Together

Hello, tub! Hello, amazing orb light fixture! I’ll smooch both of you.

Tub In Place

Sneak preview of the vanity… which looks way darker in these fancy iPhone photos than in real life.

Vanity

Today’s handiwork included the installation of a custom shoe shelf in the closet. So psyched.

Shoe Storage

I must admit, the pace of a professionally-managed project is about 27 times faster than standard Lottery House fare. The major pieces of the remodel will be done in a few days, which means the hubby and I will be on deck for tackling the painting while we wait on counter tops and shower glass. Then our contractor will be back for a day of tying up loose ends, and we’ll call this unexpected project done.

I’ll be sure to share updates as we go! On the blog agenda for next week – some insight into the buying and selling process, based on our crazy experience.

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On The Road to A Finished Reno!

After living without kitchen counters and a sink for several days, I can confirm that these are BY FAR the most important elements in a kitchen. Ovens and cooktops I can live without… running water, not so much. Late last week, after tackling the demo of our old counters on our own, we were working with a seriously function-less kitchen.

Left

Right

Luckily, our countertops were ready for installation, so we didn’t have to manage without counters for long. After not-so-patiently waiting for 3 hours, our counters were in place and ready for ogling. I’m head-over-heels for the Carrera-esque pattern (and the low maintenance. Hallelujah). The colors are perfect, and I’m so thrilled we went with the 4 cm edge instead of the 2 cm.

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Although the new cooktop isn’t functional yet, we did have to put it in place for a test fit – so much more seamless and clean-lined than its grubby predecessor.

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Of course, no installation could ever go off without a hitch. The square corners we requested were lost in translation, leaving us with 3/4″ radius corners. Not the end of the world, but the rounded edge compromises the modern look of the counters (in my opinion, anyway). The upside is, there is less chance that a wee person will poke an eye out on a sharp edge in our kitchen. So bring your kiddos over, friends!

Corner

We also kissed our “open-concept” (yep, that’s what we christened our wall-less kitchen look) goodbye. The installer that will be crafting our backsplash made a first visit to install some cement backer-board.

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And for a super-productive finale, we gave our kitchen walls a coat of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in a Matte finish (you can peep it in all the pics above). The color is perfect – a creamy but not-yellow white. The Matte finish is a flat enamel, which is perfect for folks like us that love a flat finish, but want the wipeability of a satin. We’ve used low VOC flat enamel from Olympia for both of our bathrooms, but for this project, we opted to upgrade to higher-quality paint. In today’s world, it didn’t occur to me to verify that the paint was low VOC (unless you’re using oil-based paint, it’s tough to track down any of these extra stinky paint concoctions). After cracking open the Ben Moore, I was totally aghast at the stench from this paint. After spending $150 on 3 gallons, we opted to use the non-returnable paint, but it reaaaaally offended my nose and my environmental sensibilities. We spent the evening sleeping with the windows open, in spite of the 90+ degree temps outdoors. I liken that evening to sleeping in a paint factory in Vietnam. All that to say, I absolutely don’t recommend this paint.

Still on the to-do list: installing our microwave, oven and cooktop. Plus, on the “observing but not doing ourselves” list, subway tile install. After that, it’s just having the cabinets painted and tackling some of the details (curtains, swapping out the light fixture, re-finishing my Craig’s list pedestal table, and finding some new chairs and bar stools). The upside is, the end to this lengthy upheaval is actually in sight. Hooray!

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The Sounds Of Silence

Although we’re still a few appliances short of a full kitchen, I do have two shiny new friends I’d like you to meet. Say hello to the new fridge – a sleek, stainless number with grey sides from Frigidaire.

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In case you need a refresher on what used to live here – say buh-bye to Old A-Little-Bit-Yeller.

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We snagged it at Lowe’s during a Fourth of July sale and with a 10% off coupon, so the price was definitely right. Our last refrigerator was also a side-by-side model, and we were happy to keep the same form-factor (and save some pennies – French door fridges all seemed to have seriously spendy price tags). I’m loving the stainless finish, although I have yet to see how it’s going to hold up to daily life with the Sirchios, since we’re keeping the plastic protector on until the kitchen construction is done. I like the contrast with the white cabinets and am totally wooed by the digital temperature gauge (ridiculous but true). Even though the new refrigerator is the same size as our old one, it feels way more spacious, and I’m loving the extra storage drawer.

But you know what the best part about this fridge is? It doesn’t make a ghostly howling noise 24-7. It just sits quietly in the kitchen, keeping our food cold and giving us water. Everything I could ever want from a refrigerator!

Also on the already-installed list is our Bosch dishwasher. This model earned rave reviews for being quiet, which was my number one priority. The old dishwasher was like having a “waves crashing” sound machine turned up to maximum volume for an hour. Excellent for enjoying conversations and for maintaining your sanity. Installing a dishwasher was definitely new for us, so we begged my dad to drive to Dallas and play foreman on the project. After a few hours of labor, Tony and my dad had this pretty new number in place and ready to test out. So we pressed the “Start” button and waited. After a moment of panic when we thought the dishwasher was broken, we realized it was just that quiet. I’m officially in love.

Without further adieu, the old (plus a cameo from my favorite furboy)…

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And the new! (Also still rocking protective plastic. It takes the patience of a saint not to tear it off.)

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On the docket for the next few weeks: putting in the new oven and microwave. Can’t say I’ll be sad to have a microwave back where it belongs, instead of camped out on our kitchen table!

Plus, with a little bit of luck, we should have new counters any day now. Adios, grungy laminate counters that hate fun (yep, those are red wine stains from the birthday soiree).

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Ready, Set, Reno!

After penny-pinching, planning, and not-so-patiently waiting for the last year, it’s finally time to tackle the rest of the kitchen. And (surprise) we’re taking a little bit of a different approach to this project. With the hubby and I both juggling intense work schedules, there’s not a lot of time left to manage a major DIY renovation. So although we plan to do some of the smaller elements in the kitchen ourselves – painting, swapping out light fixtures, connecting new appliances and plumbing – we’re leaving the big projects to the pros. Here’s the game plan, from the top down – plus a refresher on the design inspiration for the kitchen. Love that Tommy Smythe!!

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Kitchen2

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1. Update the cabinets with a fresh coat of creamy white paint & some satin nickel hardware. I snagged my hardware on Ebay for a song – less than $70 for all the pieces we’ll need. And don’t worry – the colors actually match in real life.

Hardware

Also included on the painting quote: taking my Craig’s List bookshelves from chestnut to soft white. Thanks to the scale of the kitchen project, I got a heck of a deal on the bookshelf paint job. Hello, visual calm!

2. Gussy up the walls and ceiling with – you guessed it – white paint. We’ll match the shade we choose for the cabinets.

3. Swap the scratched, dingy and hideous laminate counters for Silestone in the Lyra pattern. Love that it looks like Carrara but happens to be incredibly durable, antimicrobial and is guaranteed against scratches for 15 years. Plus it’s low risk for radon emission (admittedly, that’s per the manufacturer).

lyra

4. Install a lantern light over the kitchen table. I found this fixture on Wayfair for less than $100 a few months ago and it’s been waiting on our guest room ever since.

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5. Replace our old appliances with sleek, stainless steel appliances. They’ll definitely be a visual improvement, and according to the specs, our new dishwasher is less likely to sound like a tidal wave than our current model. We chose Frigidaire appliances from Lowe’s for everything except the cooktop (Whirlpool) and the dishwasher (Bosch).

6. Trade out the old burgundy and white backsplash for timeless, white subway tiles… Something like this.  Swoon.

White subway tile backsplashSource

7. Have the floors steamed and the grout re-sealed. Why so soon? The installers used an acid wash to deal with the grout haze last summer, which ate away the grout sealer. And unsealed white grout + a family of four (including the wild animal that lives here) = recipe for disaster.

8. Upgrade the kitchen table to a painted pedestal ($50 on Craig’s List and just waiting for me to work some magic), find new kitchen chairs and barstools, and execute about a million other smaller-scale details.

We’ll be managing most of the demo ourselves, and we already got a head start. Now you see the burgundy backsplash…

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Now you don’t!

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Next up: floor cleaning/re-sealing and installing the new dishwasher and fridge. Stay tuned!

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Dragon Love & Lighting Up

No sooner had I published my last post, lamenting my no-dragon dilemma, when a friend texted to let me know that a friend of hers happened to have a yard of Chiang Mai that I could buy. I figured it was pretty much fate, and happily coughed up for my long-coveted fabric. Less than a week later, the fabric was in my hot little hands.

Chiang Mai Dragon Blue

Since then, I’ve been admiring it from afar and wondering if I really have the guts to slice this investment into pieces and relegate it to a life of being squashed flat as a TV accessory – like this poor guy.

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Last weekend, it crossed my mind that this fabric might be better off doubling as a piece of art over the sofa – where it’s safe from being karate-chopped into shape or being drooled on. A quick search of the interwebs turned up some great examples of framed fabric.

Pure Style Homevia Pure Style Home

IkatFabricUsedasWallHangingvia The Decorating Files, originally from Elle Decor

Apartment Therapyvia Apartment Therapy

Apt Therapyvia Apartment Therapy

Framed Chinoiserievia Chinoiserie Chic

My theory is that it’s easier to start by framing the fabric – if I hate it, I can still get busy with my scissors and sewing machine and make the leap to a pair of pillows. Buuuut I’m still not decided (who’s surprised? Not me). What’s your take on framed fabric?

In addition to fretting over fabric, I also FINALLY found a home for our glass lamp bases (scored over a year ago from Target). I snagged two plain white lamp shades from Target, on sale for 15% off plus I rocked a coupon, so I paid less than $30 for both. In addition to the fact that the new lamps actually provide enough light to read by, the scale is perfect, and I love the lightness of the glass base. The old…

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And the new.

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I also conned the hubby into helping me swap the oh-so-lovely fluorescent fixtures in our closet…

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For a pair of Alang fixtures from Ikea.

Alang

Now I can hem and haw over what I should wear without the humming of a flourescent fixture in the background. Plus they’re definitely easier on the eyes. Pardon the lackluster photo, it’s borderline impossible to capture a nice photo at an upward angle in a space the size of a phone booth.

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Just eleven million more tasks to get the master closet up to snuff, but who’s counting?

Happy Wednesday, friends!

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A Swedish Love Affair

Allow me to spoil the surprise and tell you that as I type this post, I’m curled up on Karl’s chaise… and it’s divine. <Insert contented sigh here> But let’s back up a few steps. Last weekend, our dining room was looking a little like the inside of a moving van.
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After ogling his goodies for the last year, we’d finally brought Karlstad home for good. There was just one little problem: a room that was already full of furniture.
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Luckily, the bulky boys’ adoptive family made the trip down to Texas to pick them up last weekend, leaving us with lots of wide open spaces – perfect for an oversized Swede. In the interrim, we rocked an interesting furniture arrangement. No bonus points for functionality or comfort here. Karlstad04
On Sunday morning, we rolled up our sleeves and started unpacking the SEVEN enormous boxes our Karlstad arrived in. We built…
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And covered…
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And after 3.5 hours of following Ikea directions (with a little cursing thrown in here and there, because it’s practically required when you’re building Ikea furniture), we had ourselves a fully-assembled Karlstad.
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And just to cement my status as a mind-reader, I know what you’re thinking: “Man, that picture over the couch is way too small.” I know this because the first two people that got a sneak preview of Karl said exactly that. And trust me, I agree wholeheartedly. I’d love something map-inspired, or the perfect piece of abstract art (without a “real” art price tag), but the search is still on. Also on the agenda: task lighting. A pair of plug-in swing arm sconces would be perfect, given the lack of table space. I love this Home Decorators version (although at $90 a pop, I’m on the prowl for a cheaper pair).
Swing Arm
And if you’re thinking that a pair of Chiang Mai dragon pillows would be the perfect complement to Karl, you’re right. I’ve got almost half of the no-dessert challenge under my belt, so keep your fingers crossed that my willpower will have a 90-day window.

So what do you think – was Karl worth the wait? I’m dying to host a movie night here, now that we have ample seating for a small herd. More pictures, tweaks and musings to come soon… Happy Monday, friends!

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I See A White Door…

And I want it painted bluuuuue (name the song I just hijacked for a high five from yours truly). After daydreaming about taking the plunge and painting one of our doors a bold, saturated hue, I finally put my paintbrush to work.

We sampled lots of shades of blue, and although I originally had my heart set on navy, I ended up loving Olympic’s Silent Night. It’s the perfect shade of blue-y grey, and wasn’t too harsh next to the white trim and off-white walls.

As a reminder, here’s what we were working with. White, white and more white. Plus picture quality that makes even my 20/50 eyeballs hurt. Sorry about that.

After priming the door, I tackled a first coat of Silent Night, using a high quality brush and doing my very best not to overwork the paint, which is an Andrea specialty. Hint: keep a wet edge to your paint, and resist the urge to use your brush to smooth over already-finished areas. Here’s where I started wondering if I could really stomach a non-white shade…

And here’s what the door was looking like one coat in. Extra splotchy and alarming.

Luckily, perseverance paid off. After a second coat of paint, the door was looking polished and decidedly more intriguing than its white predecessor.

A few more projects up my sleeve for this hallway, which is looking insanely long (and my rug is looking insanely short). Do you know how hard it is to find a runner that’s longer than 8 feet? Yeah.

While we’re chatting about all things blue, here’s a sneak peek of Livi’s birthday cake from this year. A robot cake for a 10-year old girl? Sure, why not.

 

I thought he turned out pretty OK (you know, other than having one leg distinctly shorter than the other), but when I shared his mug shot with one of the girls at work, her wrinkled forehead and politely phrased, “Oh! What exactly is that?” was a dead giveaway that he might not look as authentic as I had hoped. The upside? He sure tasted delicious.

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