Archive for April, 2010

IKEA Hack-a-holic

Little ShotWhen it comes to interior decorating, thank GOD for IKEA.  I stumbled upon this gem of a website. I mean come on, I was smitten with the name alone. I’ve searched high and low for a furniture company that has interior decorating ideas we love instead of those that I feel we need to slot ourselves into their ideals. I’m not PB, I’m not JCP, I’m not WES…but IKEA HACK? Now that sounds sorta up our alley! We have a wall full of storage thanks to the ubiquitous Billy bookcases but now that our walls are this beautiful creamy white and our trim is espresso we just cannot install Beech-colored bookshelves in this room. Is Beech even on the color wheel? I did some research and found this awesome website with ideas on what to do with the Billy bookcase. Apartment Therapy also features some amazingly inspiring ideas on how to muss up these cases from snoring to glory. Bunches of fun blogs also reference this simple idea. My plan involves painting the Billy’s the same color as the wall and wallpapering the backing of the bookcases with a vibrant paper. Turned out pretty cool! It for sure took a lot longer than anticipated with more coats of paint than I thought…but I love it!


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So my husband is traveling for the entire next week and his recent business trip is what got me started on this blog in the first place. My only request from his 2-page mile-long to-do list on the world’s longest legal pad ever (see example A), was that the furniture be some-what put back in place before he departed.

Example A: “World’s Longest Legal Pad”

The prospect of navigating not only a week of daycare drop-offs and pick-ups solo but also the couch in the middle of the room was just a bit too much. I presumed that coating trim with polyurethane was very similar to top coat on a manicure: one coat should do the trick. It wasn’t until we took the Des Plaines traffic circle at 40 miles per hour that Jim told me “…no, it takes 3 coats of poly” that I started to panic. 3 coats of poly? After filling and sanding all the nail holes and touching up with stain, and re-doing that entire process again? This project was a wee-bit more than I presumed when I crafted our original to-do list. Sometimes I wonder why we take these huge things on. But when I go home tonight, tired, and look at our living room in the making and imagine setting everything up I know how sweet it will be. At least I hope so!

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So when we started this mini-construction project I imagined working hard during the day, then settling into a nice glass of vino, my MacBook perched on my lap while I typed up the memories. Sure. In reality by the time our day of work was done, I was exhausted. The vino wasn’t to enjoy, it was to relax and conk out in front of the couch while American Idol hummed into the empty room with the two of us passed out from exhaustion on the couch. After 1 week back to work, and our routine blissfully back in place, I’m able to step back and look around and say, my god. We’ve only just begun!

The trim is installed in both the living room and dining room. Filling nail holes in trim is work. It’s not just slapping some like-colored puddy in a hole and calling it a day. Wood is finicky. If you don’t fill the nail holes exactly with the right consistency of puddy/saw dust, you end up with halos surrounding the nail hole. Beautiful. So on this lovely dark stained wood we could feasibly end up with tiny circles everywhere. Fortunately Jim tested the application on a bunk piece of wood that he happily pierced a dozen times (strictly for test purposes) with his air nailer.  I woke up this morning to Jim telling me that he filled all the nail holes last night. A 4-hour project. I stared down the 14’ board and you couldn’t see a damn nail hole if you tried. What a man.

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I think I’ve lost count of what day we’re on or how many days we’re “of.” There are two ways to do things: the right way and the fast way. First off, we learned that (well, I learned that) trim work is hard. There are easy ways to do trim but with all the precise measurements it’d still be hard no matter if you use pre-finished or you painted. Not only are “bad cuts” (we’re talking .16 of an inch as a qualifier here) frustrating, they’re expensive. One bad cut can leave you $50 in the hole. So, it’s a little tenuous.

The trim we chose ended up being much (much) darker than I anticipated. But as Bob Ross says, “There’s no such things as mistakes. Just happy accidents.” Our room will be dramatic, hopefully, when we’re done. But trim is like a rash. It is everywhere you look. The door frames, the window sills, it’s friggin everywhere! So our “happy accidents” are future window panes.

I’m done searching JC Penny’s website for cool Roman Shades. I’m done trying to figure out what color curtains would fit our mood, style, or budget. I’m putting my faith in IKEA’s Roman Shades department to find something unique and trendy but yet changeable. Because unless I’m willing to pay $250 a each for custom shades, I’m not going to be happy. And that ain’t happening. Not this house. I’m just not ready to pull the trigger on something like that when I’m just not sure that this is our forever home. I’m thinking that with our nice black trim, velvet-white walls, and light floor that white Romans would look best and least unfettered. We’ll see 🙂 [Many years’ side not later….I ended up getting $15 Roman shades from Menards…they ended up fitting the windows perfectly!]

Meanwhile, I found this lamp in our basement…We picked it up for like $50 from an estate sale a few years ago. The house we got it from was so cool. It was a 1950s ranch set back with dramatic landscape windows that peered right into a forest.

Pretty Neat Lamp

The lamp’s pretty neat and would be a dramatic chandelier over the dining room table. We’ll have to put a longer cord on it because our electric source isn’t exactly center over our dining room table. That will be a fun project and a fun end result. Decorating just isn’t my strong suit. I feel in my gut that I want white roman shades…but maybe that’s boring or the easy way out. I wish I could trust my vision but I have no idea what that vision is. What I do know is that our beech-colored wood things do NOT match this dark trim which just throws me in yet another tailspin. But this is fun. It’s been really nice to not have the train/rush to pick up Adeline/rush to get home and make supper thing going on this week. It’s been fantastic to not have a boss or a timecard or obligations other than making our home a home this week. We’ll see what tomorrow brings but man this week went fast.

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Six days left and we’re feeling the pressure. Prep-work can make or break a project. It’s always eye-opening when you start TSPing your walls and realize you’ve been living with these cobwebs all these years. Disgusting. How could we not have painted our walls in the six years we lived here? It amazes me.

Painting the ceiling is difficult.

Painting the ceiling is difficult. First off, the paint is stickier than normal so it doesn’t drip all over you and the floor. Second, with white-on-white it’s hard to tell what you’ve missed or done three times.

After stripped down everything, I decided to put up shades of some sort versus drapes. First off, drapes great if you like to open them up but I think privacy is more the focus in the dining room as opposed to view.

After a full day, the walls are prepped, ceiling has its first coat of paint, and the walls are patched. I took a sample board of trim and went around the perimeter of the room to identify high points that have to be sanded down in order to make the trim fit appropriately when we start to install it. It seems like we’re making progress but in tiny baby steps. We’re both nervous and wondering if we bit off too much for one week. I keep wondering when we’ll feel like we’re on vacation. But we’re so excited thinking about what the end product will be 🙂 We hope!

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What happened to Saturday? Thank goodness for aunts and uncles who picked up the toddler for the day providing us with an uninterrupted, busy day filled with migraines and naps. Lots less productive than anticipated. After a three-hour shopping trip to Owl Hardwood we packed up the 5-er and headed home with a shit-load of wood on the hood.

(this moment made possible by Owl Hardwood’s location of .5 miles from our house)

Seeing as we were a free couple we packed up the day around 5:00, got dressed up, and went to a great dinner at Braxton’s in Oak Brook. It’s amazing how much a house project can take out of you when you’re not in practice.

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Tonight, after our trip to H&R Block for some final tax signatures, kicks off our LRMO (living room make-over). So many decisions yet to be made: curtain hardware, colors, textures…but we had to start this project off the MANLY way with a trip to Owl Hardwood. Asbestos linoleum floors, buzzy florescent lights, and a friendly man with a Dum-Dum lollipop container makes for a good trip to the lumber store. Remember HINES lumber growing up? Welcome to Owl Hardwood. For .11 a foot price difference between Home Depot, we can support a local store with local employees and local jobs. Pretty cool. We’re home measuring now, well, after our commencement PBR and it’s our first official night of the 10 day party. I’m so excited to paint these primer-ed walls, stain our trim, and get this project moving. It’s been six years, one child, a playroom, and a nursery and here we are!

Tonight, as I sit here with my little one next to me humming the “Thomas” theme song, and a week of housework ahead of me, I think there’s infinite to measure.

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