Friday, September 30, 2011

Bathroom Makeover: Part 1

When we first moved in, one of the first projects I took on was to freshen up our main bathroom and make it as user-friendly as possible by switching out the lighting, removing an over-the-toilet space saver shelf, and touching up the existing paint. But I knew even back then that it would only be a temporary fix until I decided what exactly I wanted to do in there and had the time to do it. Well that time has come due to an unexpected surprise waiting for me at Home Depot when I went to buy the paint for the office. Amongst the other maybe 4 cans of Oops paint sitting by the counter, one can called out to me and the decision was made. As you can see from my inspiration photo on the Tour tab I wanted to do a navy bathroom.

Here's how our bathroom looked when me moved in:

And after a little freshening up:

So as luck would have it, the same day I went to get the office paint Home Depot had a lovely can of navy Oops paint waiting for me to make it mine. 

You see that? This fateful can of paint only cost me 7 bucks and it was exactly what I wanted, if not better: it's called December Eve by Behr, Premium Plus Ultra paint and primer in one. Perfection. But before I could paint, of course I needed to prep. I followed my same technique as before and did a quick sloppy job on the trim (this time keeping it off the tiles) so I could easily cut in with my paint color when it comes time for that.

Here's a little never-before-seen angle for ya- taken by me standing in the tub.

And just as a side note, to those who may be thinking "the color's not that bad," this bathroom color is actually the same as our old office color and it changes drastically from day to night. With the daylight it's not so bad but at night it just looks dirty. It's just not at all what I'm going for. 

Here's the swatch from Behr:

For being a total accident that I found this can of Oops paint, it's pretty close, no? 

I have also always loved this photo from Farrow and Ball and the color is Hague Blue:

Well I guess I have my weekend assignment. What are you guys up to on our last day of September?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Halloween Came Early

Wanna see something really scary? How about a hideous creature growing on the beautiful tree in your front yard? Well that's what we had up until yesterday. We had noticed that there were a few mushrooms growing on our tree but not until yesterday did I realize how bad it had gotten.

This is not for the faint of's what we had going on:

Soooo gross, I know! I was so disgusted when I looked at it up close that it seriously gave me the willies. Then immediately my next thought was "Oh no, is this gonna kill our tree??" So I took a picture and texted my landscaping brother to see what he thought. I asked "Is this bad?" to which he replied "Yes, very bad." Ugh. He told me to scrape off as much as I could and then apply a fungicide so I got right to work. 

Before heading outside to cut the things up I quickly Googled as best I could to find out what exactly I was dealing with and whether or not it would be harmful for me to be breathing it in as I hacked away. I discovered that what we had was most likely a variety called Artist's Conk:

Although it is harmful to the tree it is growing on (it will weaken the wood and create holes for insects to get in to) it is not harmful to humans but rather many people pluck them off and use them to make art. In my case, um, no thanks. I'd rather not make them into a conversation piece. I don't even want to go near them let alone touch them with my bare hands. I used gloves.

The first "tool" I grabbed was a spackle knife/scraper and headed outside to survey the situation. Right away I knew things were bad because the shrooms were super hard and the spackle knife did nothing but flake off a few of the tips. This thing was on there for good and I needed reinforcements. Back into the garage I went and grabbed Dan's saw. Only then did I manage to get most of the beast off and leave a hideous patch behind. After a generous helping of some Daconil Fungicide I was hopeful that things would get better.

Here's what I was left with-- a ravaged tree covered in slime:


A few of the little ones that were too low to the ground for me to get up:

And here's the poor thing from afar. It lends so much shade to our front yard and I know the leaves are going to be so pretty in the Fall. I really hope this does the trick because it would be a shame to lose it! I guess only time will tell.

Have any of your ever dealt with a parasitic mushroom problem? What'd you do to take care of it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wood on Wood Crime?

After mentioning that we were planning to cover the existing hardwood in our house with new wood, a couple people have asked me why we would do such a thing and cover "perfectly good" existing floors. And to that my friends I chuckle because if you only knew the whole story you would understand the method to our madness.'s the story.

You've already seen the mess in the living room left behind by the previous (previous-previous? I'm not sure when exactly this happened) owners. From now on let's refer to him as Patches. Patches O'Houlihan (name that movie). After we moved in and took up the living room carpet it was obvious what Patches had done.

The patch runs the whole length of the living room because there was actually a wall there at one point and what is the living room now was originally a bedroom that you accessed from the hallway (behind where the tv is here). The original floor plan our of house was two bedrooms downstairs, a small living room, and an eat-in kitchen with no dining room. So to make the space bigger and add a dining room, it lost a first floor bedroom (the other bedroom is our office/guest room).

Therefore it's unfortunately obvious that covering the floors in the living room/dining room was a must since there's no way to disguise the patch no matter how dark we stained the floors. Now moving on to the office.

When you first walk in to the office (after ignoring the grunge at the entryway left behind by the hallway tiles) you are greeted with a nice long chunk taken out of one of the boards.

Then you continue on in and you see that not only is the closet void of original wood, it has yet another fix left behind by Patches that is visible even when the closet doors are shut.

Now allow your eye to wander slightly over to the right and you'll see this little gem

Ah, yet another hole waiting to be patched.

 Yum. Nuff said (except that I clearly need to finish caulking the baseboards).

So there you have it: we're really not crazy original-wood haters. In reality we were planning to just refinish them but after moving in and seeing their true colors and the destruction left behind by Patches we have no choice but to cover them. But it's all good- our new floors are de-lightful and I can't wait until the day they take their rightful place and make Patches O'Houlihan nothing but a distant memory.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You Schrock My World

Last Thursday after work I headed over to our cabinet place to finalize a few things for our kitchen remodel. And just for reference, here's the plan we're working with:

After reviewing our plan with the kitchen designer one more time, there were a few things that needed tweaking so we made a couple changes that added up to a couple savings:

1. Simplified. When I first looked at the aerial plan I never really grasped the fact that the fridge was going to be enclosed to look built-in. The top cabinet was going to be covering the entire top of the fridge and the sides were going to be enclosed by panels. This is all fine and dandy in other people's kitchens but that's not what I wanted in ours. I am really going for this look:

Flush upper cabinets all the way across and an exposed fridge (so you can stick stuff on the left side and it won't clutter up the front and it won't be seen by passer-by-ers). As opposed to this:

Top cabinet covering the top of the fridge, sticking out farther than the upper cabinet on the side, and a side panel to make it "built-in." It's really just a matter of preference (since some people put things on the top of their fridge and then can't access the top cabinet) so to each their own. But it turned out to be a happy mistake because shortening that cabinet and removing the side panels saved us about $400 bucks.

2. Get it while it's hot. The second tweak we made to our original kitchen plan (back when we first bought the house) was to make the final decision about our countertops. When we were first brainstorming and budgeting we thought there wouldn't be any room in the budget for a surface other than Formica which we were okay with since we were getting a whole new kitchen. But after going to the cabinet place (which our contractor uses all the time because it has the best prices around) we were surprised to see that their granite was on sale with the purchase of an entire kitchen for only $39.95 a sq/ft as compared to its original price, starting at $59.95 a sq/ft and going up from there. We still hemmed and hawed a bit and held out to see what else was out there that maybe was a little cheaper but still a step up from laminate. However after a little research we discovered that the other options (Silestone, Quartz, Corian) were not even cheaper than the sale price of the granite but rather were almost two times as much! This meant that buying the granite at 39.95 a sq/ft versus 59.95 a sq/ft saved us a total of $740 big ones. 

After that, the granite seemed like a no-brainer and I (since Dan was at work, but I texted him a picture) decided on Giallo Fantasia to be the icing on our kitchen cake. Mmm...

3. Quality over quantity. From the very beginning of all this kitchen hullabaloo I knew one thing was certain: I wanted white Shaker style cabinets. Therefore another decision I had to make (since Dan wasn't with me at the time) was whether or not to go with the cheaper laminate option that looked pretty much the same but was much cheaper or go with the painted solid-wood version. Honestly though it didn't take me very long to realize that you don't skimp out on something as important as your kitchen, which truly is the heart of the home, and that in the long haul (both for us and for the next potential owners) the solid wood is the obvious choice.

The brand we chose is Shrock and the style is Pleasant Hill White. I know I mentioned that we were gonna go with a slab front drawer but after hearing that it made no difference in price to go with the Shaker style, it was an easy decision.

And here's a sample kitchen from the Schrock website of our very same cabinets:

4. Swap the sink.  We currently have a double sink in our kitchen that we thought we'd try to work with it but it is an off-white color and just doesn't look right with the bright white cabinets. It would always look dirty which would drive me crazy. Also, after living with (and cleaning in) a double sink we've learned that we're just not double-sink people and since we're adding a dishwasher anyways there will be no need to wash in one side and dry in the other. Our sink now also has the faucet off to the left which makes cleaning things on the right that much more difficult because the faucet only reaches so far.

(From inspection day, before we moved in)

So the next tweak I made was to nix my first choice of sink from a 75/25 double sink to a single extra deep one. I'm not sure why exactly the first one stood out to me (I can wash a single fork without getting the other side wet?) but I'm sure glad I went back because the extra-deep is the clear winner and will look gaw-geous underneath the granite. My parents have an extra deep sink and it's awesome so I already know I'm gonna love ours just as much. 

Original plan

Actual plan

Savings from the sink swap: $0 since they were the same price.

5. Have patience. While our kitchen designer was just about finishing up all the details on the computer, a co-worker of hers (maybe a manager? maybe an angel?) just happened to speak up and ask me how soon we needed the cabinets. Since we're not really on any type of schedule (although I'd love to have it done as soon as we can) I answered back that we were in no rush. To that he simply stated that if we could hold out for one more week until October 1st than we can take advantage of the October promotion which is 10% off of kitchens (!!!). To that that I happily agreed to wait it out the extra week to save a whopping $600 bucks! The best part was we were able to finalize everything in person and all I have to do is call them up next Friday and tell them we're good to go! 

The only downside to this, and the reason we need to have patience, is that not only do we need to wait another week to place the order, but since we went with higher-end cabinets they are going to take four whole weeks to come in. Oh well- the truth is this just gives us more time to continue finishing up the floors, demo-ing the cabinets, and we'll even be able to prep and paint the walls so the cabinets can go up smoothly. Two weeks in light our our lives in this house is nothing.

So there ya go- five easy kitchen tweaks that wound up saving us a total of $1740! We're definitely stoked to be able to snag such a great deal on a high quality beautiful kitchen we know we'll love for years to come. I can just see it now...sneaking down into the kitchen to "get a cup of water" when all I really wanna do is stand in the room and smile. Well, here's hoping we'll be done some time around Thanksgiving :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm Lovin' It

It's baaaack! Perhaps you thought I forgot all about this weekly segment of mine (or maybe you forgot about it?) but the truth is we've just been so busy lately that all the amazing things I've been seeing on blogs just don't make it into one spot for me to glean from but rather stay out there in the blogworld just being its lovely self. Apparently I haven't done one of these since June-yikes. But I'm getting back into the groove and hope to share more of what I've been seein' and lovin' from the great big blogosphere. Enjoy:

  • Yup- Fall is here my friends and Halloween is just around the corner. Here's what's been getting me in the spooky mood:

I wish our entryway was somewhat presentable right now as opposed to being a catch-all for mortgage stubs and drill bits. Maybe by the end of the month we can clean up our act enough for Halloween night!

  • Designer Jimmy Stanton's uh-mazing city condo and his equally stunning country home (originially published here, first seen here) Although you have to forgive me, I'm not sure exactly which are which aside from the obvious:

This is the one that caught my eye. Maybe it's the brown leather we both have in common...

...I'll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor. I know. To me this is pretty much near perfection. It is so warm, so inviting, just masculine enough, although the addition of a bouquet of pink flowers placed anywhere would instantly make it more female friendly. There are so many style ideas to steal I don't even know where to start. But I'm gonna try. Moving on...

  • Although not house-related, this amazingly fun Barbie and Ken wedding photo shoot was so clever I had to share:

Happy Friday (and official First Day of Fall) everybody!
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