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Archive for February, 2010

white walls

I never know what direction to take with our living room. Right now we need trim, the next frontier. Part of me wants to go Crate & Barrel and paint the walls Tuscany Orange. The other part of me wants to go MCA white.

One of our first projects was to rip up the Empire carpet and of course the hokey three-inch plywood trim had to go too. In our naiveté we presumed we’d lovingly replace each section of trim with vintage salvaged trim. After our trips to a few demolition sales dodging burly men with crowbars I realized a) we don’t have a pick-up truck to lug this wood home in and b) I’m not a big burly man with a crowbar. The trim project fell to the wayside and our living room walls butt up nakedly with the wood floors. Another year?

In order to put the trim on the floors in the living room, we’d have to entertain ourselves upstairs in the attic, for one thing, and for another I’d have to submit myself to a real live home improvement disaster area. Could I really subject myself to living with a real live black and white mess? That decision goes unchecked so the floors sit, status quo.

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Living in the Room

We do all of our conscious living in our living room. It’s the main room of, well, our entire house and it sees dinners in front of the TV, gatherings at our dining room table, and many evenings of Thomas before our daughter’s bath time. To put it mildly, our living room needs to be mult-functional. Here’s a couple of shots of our living and dining room, pre-baby stuff.

Small but it works

Remember Tube TVs? We have one.

We change our coffee tables frequently. I can never quite get the knack of a work-able, cozy coffee table. You know, the ones with a pile of Dwell magazines stacked neatly yet cluttered. So I tend to leave them bare. I hate things in disarray.

When I was pregnant, we realized rather quickly that babies have STUFF and we needed a place to put it. Where do people on a limited budget go to find furniture? IKEA of course! We bought a small shelving unit that came with doors and I naively presumed that all of Addy’s toys could be stored in this four-shelved unit.

I see now why families have finished basements (if they’re lucky) and children’s rooms bursting with Dora Dolls and Elmos. The “stuff” can very easily take over your life, your space, and honestly nothing hurts more than stepping on Lego brick. Here’s our room with kid-stuff. Not horrible, but the easel is just SO BIG!

Now most of the toys have been removed from the first floor and put into The Little Playroom that Jim Built…but that’s another post to build and, well, it’s date night and there’s a glass of vino sincerely calling my name.

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Despite scraping wallpaper at my brother and sister-in-law’s new house and experiencing its havoc, I have a huge, instatiable wallpaper itch. I NEED TO WALLPAPER SOMETHING. We have a very useless hall shelving unit.

Sure, it’s great to hold useless collections of vases, vintage lighters, and random photographs…but who stops in this hallway to admire these menageries? No one!

Clear Display. Weird!

Hallway or Smallway?

The only hallway in our house is about 5.5′ long and is between our kitchen, the bathroom, and our bedroom. Hence, the hallway doesn’t really get much action. There isn’t even a light. There is talk of putting in some can lighting but again the ifs, hows, and probability of that feasibly happening is low.

Thus, wallpapering this slim area of the house seemed like the perfect idea. My original plan was to buy some funky wallpaper and paper the backs of the shelves and paint the entire hallway a deep grey (to intersect with the ocher of our kitchen). Jim escalated the plan to include re-doing the integrity of the shelving unit itself which would be a “simple” resurfacing, sanding, and installation of all of the shelves. Uh-huh, simple. We stood in front of this rather tall, rather big shelving unit and realized that, quite possibly, there is nothing behind the unit’s drywall. Translation: we can knock down the wall and open up the shelves to be a real, bona-fide CLOSET.

Despite our daughter’s closet, our first floor is void of any type of closet whatsoever so the mere thought of having our toilet paper live upstairs versus down in the basement made us positively giddy.

So now my thoughts have changed from wallpapering and painting grey our little hallway shelving unit to actually doing something, well, functional. We’ll see what happens! [interesting many year’s later note: this never happened!]

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The Bathroom. Hmpf.

Here’s a photo of our current bathroom on  a really, really good day in the summertime.

A Sliver of the Sink

Our bathroom gets great West light in the morning and daytime during the spring and summer. But that’s about the only thing going for it. When we moved in, it was horrendous with a peach toilet, peach tub, and cream tiled walls grouted in beige. Beige? Who uses beige for grouting? The bathroom underwent a very surface facelift when we first moved in. It seemed natural to paint the walls in a color which I found flattering on me so we painted it a light, airy green and bordered what we could in white. We really, really need to redo our bathroom but bathroom redos are not only expensive, they’re time consuming and completely inconvenient.

Here’s a photo of what we started with.

Yuck. Yet not much different than what exists today…

The bathroom project is such a source of looming. Once we get it done, or at least start, I wonder how I’ll feel with that monkey off my back. Our big debate, in the project which has yet to commence, is: free-standing sink versus under-sink vanity. My vote is to make a bathroom vanity out of a useless hallway (see The Useless Hall  Menagerie) for storage thus keeping our matchbook size bathroom clutter-free. Votes?

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197(6) Bavaria

Two scary things: one, I cannot remember how a 197(6) Bavaria ended up in our garage and second, I truly feel that the Rusty Bav is a fourth member of our family. One can only scratch her head and wonder just how much room we’d have in our garage….but I digress. I wait patiently for the day when my proud spouse takes me out in this beaut. It’s a sickness.

So supportive I gifted an engine stand one Valentine's day (hey, it's red)

For the non-car aficionados out there that is a big huge honkin’ engine that will, some day, push the limits of German engineering. Ok, Ok.

Hey, I cannot complain. The passenger side of the garage is always warmed and ready for my 330i to retreat to on a blustery night. But how the garage got heated is quite another blog post.

Here's an empty bay prior to the floor being primed and painted.

Here he is, our eyeball-less wonder. Needs some serious TLC.

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Suburban Cottage?

My original vision for our bungalow was English Cottage. I wanted overflowing flower boxes with tendrils of ivy dusting the ground. I wanted fragrant lilac and violets to greet visitors as they walked up our front path. After a few trips to the gardening center I realized that sod, fertilizer, let alone FLOWER BOXES were freakin’ expensive. There was only one option. We had to do it ourselves.

We built flower boxes complete with an etched front and painted them white. We had no idea what we were doing but fortunately I married an Eagle Scout who just knows most things about most things. Jim attached the window boxes to the house to prevent sagging and we lined the wood with removable plastic trays to keep the wood from rotting and to allow for easy planting.

Pretty Plain Jane

There was zilch for Personality with the exterior of our house when we first moved in. This lack of charisma didn’t exactly sync up with my ideas of a suburban cottage.

We measured twelve times then cut, sanded, and painted the wood to assemble onto the house.

Thank god I married an Eagle Scout. Did I mention this already?

It’s taken many years for the flower boxes to take seed. This past Christmas I was actually pleased with my display of discarded evergreen branches from Home Depot’s cast-offs. (read: free). Here’s a short series of photos highlighting the boxes’ evolution:

Not quite cascading ivy….

So I quickly realized that filling up five huge flower boxes is extremely expensive. Well, to do it right it’s extremely expensive. Flower flats ain’t cheap. Too bad the urns at the bottom are cut off in this picture. Those urns were salvaged by my glean-loving husband one evening. They are styrofoam and were in decent but rather patina’d condition. Nothing a spray of flat black spray paint can’t mend. Another thing I learned about flower boxes is that one has to water them. Daily. Some day we will have a spigot of water and attached hose in the FRONT of our house.

July 4, 2009

Summer, 2009

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Tear Down the Wall

Who would have thought that five years later we'd have two beautiful girls perched in these windows?

Who would have thought that five years later we’d have two beautiful girls perched in these windows?

Character was one of the top items on our list of house requirements. Our first explorations into our home revealed that this house was absolutely void of character. Well, the character existed and it was up to us to discover it.

When you walked into our house, you were greeted with two typical Bunagalow-style windows that looked into the main living area. One of the windows was filled with a mirror. It was so odd. Why was there a mirror where an open alcove should be? The mirror was there because the home-flippers decided it was important for the 10X10 master bedroom to have a closet. The closet then ate up precious space in the living room and destroyed two things: any probability of an appropriate couch/TV layout in the living room and any charm or personality of a balanced double alcove in the entrance way. It was simple: the closet had to come out. Obviously we are form over function people.

It felt really, really odd to wield a sledgehammer to our new virginal property mere hours into our ownership. A ripple of panic consumed me when I realized shit, we just not only knocked down a wall but we eliminated a closet. Closets are not only storage, they are resale. Now were minus a place to put our clothes and a potential down-payment in the house of tomorrow. What did we do?!

Who needs a closet?

When I stood back and saw the instant open room, the clear view through both alcoves, I knew we made the correct decision. The frames made little eyes which I swear to god smiled at the removal of the mirror patch. Slowly perhaps we could resurrect some history to this home.

Mudding a wall is NOT like frosting a cake.

Instant balance!

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