Sunday, August 17, 2014

A wonderful surprise

Knowing that winter in Minnesota is lengthy and cold, we have spent much of our time working on outdoor projects this summer.  While I understand this is logical, I have been anxious to have a room "finished." It seems that every room needs something, regardless of how minor, from unfinished ceilings to missing trim.

When I walked into the house last night, after spending a couple of days in Iowa, I had zero expectations in terms of finished projects.  I was just happy to know Cait had done some laundry.  Simply intending to grab a couple of things before heading to the lake, I was shocked and thrilled to notice the chandelier hanging in the dining room and even more excited to see the faux tin ceiling that had been living in our guest bedroom project/tool closet installed.

Nick installed the ceiling and the light in a just a few hours, with the help of his parents, Zack, and Caitlyn.

While old house purists will certainly cringe, the tiles we chose are made of a lightweight plastic material and actually glued to the unfinished drywall on the ceiling.  The end product, however, looks polished and appropriate to the house.

We still need to add crown moulding, and I need to make curtains, but it feels much more finished now and helps me see the end result isn't so far away.

Some of our best memories have been made around the table, and now we have a place in this house to celebrate together.

And now, I have to get busy.  My kitchen needs a coat of paint (after a little bit more sanding) before I can post pictures of the tile backsplash which Nick (and his family) also finished while I was gone!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finding a Happy Place

Living in a house while remodeling is certainly a test of patience, and all those who know me well know patience is not my greatest strength.  I become antsy waiting in line to check out at Target, let alone waiting to see an end to the millions of projects that need to be completed for the house to be "finished."

We have accomplished a good deal already, having finished the roof and the majority of exterior painting.  We have also completed a bunch of projects in the kitchen and survived a bit of a sewer fiasco (the city disconnected the sewer line to the house last year when redoing the street just north of the house, a little issue we discovered when the water table rose early this summer).

The picture above was taken last fall, and the one below was taken just last week.

During all of this chaos, however, I found myself looking for a happy place, a room that was at least almost done.  So, instead of doing something more useful, like fighting the ongoing battle with the weeds in the landscaping, I spent an afternoon playing in the butler's pantry, organizing and reorganizing the shelves.  A waste of time?  Probably for most people.  But, it made me feel better. It also gives me something to post on here.  Pictures of other projects will follow shortly, I promise.

So, welcome to my happy place.

It is a small start, but it is a start.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Many Hands Make Light Work

To Do:
finish the plumbing
remove radiators 
tile part of the kitchen
construct and hang kitchen cabinets
finish wallpaper removal
patch walls
tile the bathroom
install the new sink and faucet

Spring break is long past now, but it was more productive than we could have hoped.  Thanks in large part to all of the wonderful help we had over the course of the week, the house is starting to look much more like home. 

The Kitchen

The metal cabinet that came with the house certainly had personality, but it will be finding a home in our basement laundry room as a utility sink and storage. But after some serious cabinet construction time, the top cabinets are now on the wall.

Now that the uppers are hung, our goal is to get the base cabinets set in place next weekend, so we can order countertops.  I can't wait to get some paint on the walls, either.

Main Floor Bath
On first inspection this bathroom looked tolerable, but the closer we looked the more changes we realized were necessary.  The pinkish floor tiles needed to go, as well as the uneven bead board, and terrible sink/cabinet combo.  Now the bathroom looks clean, with a new tile floor and sink.  

Upstairs Bath
The room that underwent the greatest change was one we had not even intended to touch over break.  The upstairs bathroom was in rough shape.  It isn't done yet, but it has real walls and the floors are ready to tile. 

This is only a glimpse into all we accomplished over break, but none of this would have been possible without all of our fantastic help.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Because I Heart Books

We are a family of readers.  We read in the car and we have shelves full of our favorite books.  With a Tolkien quote over the double doors between the living room and dining room and Gatsby art on the dining room walls, it is clear books and reading hold a special place in our lives.

Recently Cardigan Way, a uplifting blog I follow, cosponsored a book exchange.  I always feel a little guilty buying new books for myself (as the collection of unread books on my to-read pile is alarming), so a book exchange was the perfect way to circumvent that whole book buying guilt and to share my book love with others. 

As we had just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green as a family, I was super excited to send my book exchange partner a copy of Looking for Alaska, another John Green bestseller, and I was super excited to find this beauty in my mailbox.

Between packing and life, I haven't had time to start the book yet, but I am hopeful that sometime in the near future I will find some time to start this gem!

A huge thank you to Katie, from Cardigan Way, the other sponsors, and my book exchange buddy, Melissa.  The We Heart Books exchange was a great way to break the monotony of winter in Iowa.

And, just because I always love adding to my to-read list, do you have any other lit suggestions?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Perfect, but only in Canada

Lovely, isn't it?  Perhaps not everyone is shopping for  Shakespeare in the rug department, but when I stumbled on this beauty on Urban Barn I knew we needed it. I love the bard, I love the play, I even love the font.                
 The problem?  Urban Barn stores are limited to Canada, so it looks like, at least for now, it will have   to live on my Dream House board  unless, of course, you would like to drive to Canada to pick it up for me! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Black or Blue and White All Over

It is easy, for me, to focus on the interior colors and finishes, especially with banks of snow and subzero temperatures, but the outside of the house needs a good deal of attention, too.  Just as soon as the weather agrees, we need to replace the roof and repaint the house and trim.

While Nick and I easily agree on most of the finishes for the inside of the house, there has been more discussion about the potential exterior paint and shingle colors.  I struggle to visualize how a different colored roof might look. Enter Pixlar (a free web based application for those too cheap to buy Photoshop).

So, without further ado,here are a couple kindergarten art project-like rough renderings of some of the options.

Option one: white house with blue shingles

 Option two: white house with black or dark gray shingles

The black/dark gray is my first choice, but both are worth considering.  The plan is to repaint the house (in white) and to add color on the porch floor, porch steps, and front door.                          

With (at least?) 8-10 more weeks of winter weather to look forward to in Minnesota, we have a little bit of time to decide (and to find a bunch of people willing to help us shingle and paint for food and drink).  Volunteers?                                                                                                                                 



Friday, February 7, 2014

A Bathroom Plan

At first glance, the main floor bathroom in our new home looked just fine.  Dated, perhaps, but tolerable.  But, the more we looked at it, the more work we realized it needed.

The beadboard was poorly installed, the toilet is too close to the shower for the shower door to open    fully, and the sticky tile was a lovely shade of puce.  The cabinets on the wall were special, too,as        both were designed to sit on the floor.  In fact, the cabinet on the left is the same cabinet that sits          upstairs in our current main bathroom, but it was a little worse for the wear, with the legs, back, and    drawer removed.                                                                                                                                                                                
Last weekend we removed the beadboard and the cabinets, as well as half of the floor tile.                  Unfortunately, however, we learned the other half of the floor tile has been glued down well.  A little too well.  We will probably have to remove the subfloor to remove the tile well.                                 

 The images above reflect my hopes for the bathroom.  The light, mirror, tile, and vanity are all from   Lowes.  The lovely blue cabinet can be found at Target.  I already own the Amy Butler towels, but   according to the listing on Amazon they appear to be currently unavailable.  The jars are from my     collection.                                                                                                                                               
This bathroom will be the main focus of our next weekend in Minnesota, as at least one fully               operational bathroom is needed before we move into the house, and the upstairs bathroom is a bit        more, um, rustic in its current condition.                                                                                                                                                          

But, at least it has a claw foot tub!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chalking It Up

Terrible pun aside, I have a soft spot in my heart for all things chalkboard (except where my classroom is concerned-there I much prefer my whiteboard).  In fact, soft spot might be too weak a description for my chalkboard love.

Exhibit A: The fridge
While it may be tough to tell in this photo, this is the front of our fridge.  Last winter we decided to     take our plain white fridge and give it a bit of an update, so with a few cans of spray chalkboard paint we gave it a new look.  And, we love it.  It is fun for me to draw on (though my artwork, as seen          above, still needs work) and it has been a big hit with our small visitors, too.                                                   
Exhibit B: The Giant Menu Board                                                                                                           

While it isn't updated every week, this large chalkboard hangs in the kitchen, also.  And, don't worry too much. We aren't making zombie burgers....we are headed to Zombie Burger  in the East Village neighborhood of Des Moines for a birthday celebration.                                                                         

Exhibit C: The table runner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
If you consider the collection of chalkboard napkin rings and the giant chalkboard in our daughter's room, too, you have a glimpse into my love of all things chalkboard.                                                  

So, how much is too much?  That question needs an answer relatively soon.  I want to paint one          entire wall in our new dining room with black chalkboard paint.  It is images, like this one from           House Beautiful, that help convince me this is a good plan.                                                                                                        
So, the other three walls will be what color?  Teal.                                                                                  
We painted our current dining (above) room teal (from red) a couple years ago, and I love it.  It compliments the wood tones in our furniture, floors, and trim well.                                             
So, yea or nay?  Is a whole chalkboard wall a good idea?                                                            



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Slacking on a Snow Day

Snow days mean pajamas and relaxation.  Or, at least that is what I am telling myself at this moment.  While I realize the laundry needs to be folded and there are more boxes to be filled, it has been more fun for the last couple hours to dream about our new kitchen. (Yes, I am an exceptional procrastinator!).

Our new home currently sports this modest kitchen. 
It seems the previous owners took much of the kitchen with them or they were experts on living          simply.  Either way, it needs work.  The current metal cabinets, while funky and retro, are moving to the basement laundry room.  Among our other projects last weekend, we removed the beadboard        paneling from the walls, which was just one of many projects we will need to tackle during this         kitchen renovation.                                                                                                                                  

The layout of the kitchen will be a bit of a challenge, as five doors enter the room (one from the dining room, one from the butler's pantry, one from basement, one from the back staircase, and one from the back deck) and the floor is not completely original wood.

It seems as if, at some point, a back porch was incorporated into the kitchen, and that portion of the floor was covered in linoleum.  With the help of Nick's sister, I tore up the linoleum last weekend. (Not a difficult task, considering it was held down by giant double sided tape).  We are planning to replace that portion of the floor with tile, if we can find some way to transition between the two flooring types successfully.  I'm crossing my fingers that using coordinating tile on that part of the floor and in the backsplash will help it make sense.

So, this is what I am thinking...
From the upper left: Iowa and Minnesota kitchen towels from Vestiges, Inc., backsplash and floor tile from Lowe's, Ramsjo cabinets from Ikea, mercury glass knobs from Target, latte bowls from Anthropologie, and a cool jar chandelier from Lowe's.

The towels, the bowls (in assorted blue shades and lime green), and the light fixture are some of my favorite things in our current kitchen.  The towels will serve as wall art and, along with the bowls, will provide fun punches of color against a gray and white background.  I am leaning toward a blue (like the background of the photo collage) or a light apple green for the walls.

Now with that kitchen plan solidified, I guess I will get back to the boxes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On a New Adventure

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."  ~Helen Keller

With work gloves and a sense of adventure, we are headed north.  We are busy packing our bags (and boxes, boxes, and more boxes), as well as trying to prepare our current home for sale and our new home for, well, inhabitation.

Built in 1901, our new house is full of gorgeous details,

original woodwork,

detailed banisters,

built in bookcases,

a china cabinet,

and plenty of work to complete.

We have kept busy so far, peeling wallpaper,
 fixing plaster issues, removing uneven beadboard and linoleum, and working on the bathrooms and the kitchen.

It does require a lot of work, but it has so much charm, so much history.  It just feels like our home.

So, here's to a 2014 full of adventures, expanding horizons, and hard work!