Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What's the (floor) plan, Stan?

I'm just going to preface this post by giving you my excuse for why this post has taken soooooo long. You'd think the floor plan would have been one of my first posts. Especially since anyone who knows me knows that the first thing I did when we looked at this house was take measurements and draw it out in CAD (as I have done for literally every house/apartment/room I have ever lived in. I know. I'm a geek.) But because of my floor-plan-geekiness, I didn't want to post something until I was happy with how it looked. Which meant no not-to-scale single-line renditions. So I tried to plot it from CAD, but it never looked right. So I then I tried modeling the whole house in SketchUp, which failed. Several times. And then I got mad and said a lot of cuss words while restraining myself from throwing things. And then I quit. For months.

Finally, I tried again. I kept it simple this time so that I could show you guys what we have going on. I'll save my attempts to do a full interior/exterior model for the future. I do want to figure that out eventually so I can mock up the exterior changes we want to make down the line, but for blog purposes, we'll keep it simple for now. So without further ado... the floor plan!

Let's start with the "as purchased" plans:

We've got about 770 square feet on the first floor, and when the 2nd floor is all built out we'll have about 1500 square feet total. So it's not a huge house, but plenty of space for the two of us and the dogs. And as you can see, there are NO closets on the 1st floor. Overall we're severely lacking in storage.

Onward and upward, here are what I am referring to as the "Phase 1" plans:

Here is a break down of the major changes:
  • We tore down the wall between the kitchen and dining room to allow for a slightly larger kitchen (basically the room needed to add a dishwasher)
  • We opened up the wall between the living room and the stairs /office
  • We stole some space from the little nook in the garage to do a built-in closet for first-floor storage
  • We removed the old stairs down to the basement and added a hatch in the floor with a ladder for interior access. (We have external access via the bilco doors at the back of the house so we really didn't need a second basement stairway.)
  • We built the new office wall about 12" into the room from the original wall, which will allow us to expand the bathroom when we redo that space down the line. (I envision an old clawfoot tub in front of the window and a lot more floor space.)
We have some additional things we want to do down the line (phases 2-5 ought to keep us busy for a good number of years), but these are the first things we are trying to accomplish. Someday we would like to tear down the existing garage and build a new semi-detached garage connected to the dining room via an entry/ mudroom. We don't ever use the front porch (everyone who comes over enters through the garage), so it would be nice to have a more inviting "welcome" to visitors than walking through our mess of a garage. Although, admittedly, it will be much easier to navigate once the kitchen cabinets are no longer hogging all the space, haha.

So there it is folks! Long overdue, but better late than never, right!?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Feeling moody

It seems like we've had drywall in our sights for months now, but there seems to be an ever-populating list of things that have to happen before we get there. However, we really ARE nearing drywall time, and it's so exciting!

Since the majority of things that have happened up to this point have fallen 90% under Ryan's areas of expertise, we've found that while I want to help out as much as I can, sometimes things just go faster when I stay out of the way. But once the drywall is in, all bets are off! That's when my skill sets will shine, and so I've been trying to narrow down my vision for all of our spaces. There is so much to figure out, from lighting (which I discussed in this post) to furnishings to paint colors and trim profiles! So I've been trying out "mood boards" which I see other bloggers do quite often for rooms. It really is helping me get a vision for what I want each space to be, and you get a better feeling for the cohesiveness of the space being able to see everything all mushed together.

Starting with the kitchen, I want to do the base cabinets in turquoise with dark concrete counters that wrap the counter down the side of the cabinets at the peninsula. We have already begun buying new appliances in black, and I would like to have a black farmhouse sink to tie it all together. I think the black sink will look better with the dark counters than a white sink would, and it will also disguise any potential dirt & stains. For the backsplash I have my heart set on herringbone carrera marble, and then I want to pull a light grey from that material for the upper cabinets, and do a medium grey on all the walls to tie it all together. I also want to re-use some of the wood we have removed from the house under the counter where the tractor-seat stools will be, which will hide scuff marks from people sitting there better than paint would.

Kitchen by katc10 

In the dining room, we plan on building our own table. I want to do an expanadable herringbone top in black walnut, and Ryan is going to fabricate a base out of steel similar to the one shown. We're also planning to make our own chandelier out of mason jars hung from an old pulley we found at my mom's. We will be doing a wall of built-ins for additional storage with doors the same style as the kitchen cabinets, and I will probably do a Flor area rug so I can customize the size. We haven't decided on a chair style, but I would like to do a fun pop of color on whatever we choose.


In the living room I would like to do an accent wall on the long wall connecting the living room and office, and the other walls will be the same grey as the kitchen and dining room since there aren't a lot of logical places to terminate paint colors. We will add one additional section to our current Ikea sectional sofa, and use pendants in each corner rather than table lamps. I want to keep the entertainment unit clean and simple, and have some fun with turquoise velvet curtains (which will hang in the dining room and office as well for continuity) and a patterned rug.

Living Room

Finally, in the office/laundry room I want to do a full wall of shelving & desk space out of wood & black pipe for a different take on a wall of built-ins. I'd like to find a fun light fixture to add some interest in here, as well as a patterned rug and some pop of color desk chairs, which will double as additional dining seating when we expand the table for larger groups.

Office & Laundry

I'm really happy and excited with the direction this is going, I think it's going to be a perfect mix of industrial farmhouse and colorful modern for Ryan and I. And stay tuned until next time, when I'll (finally) be posting the existing and revised floor plans for your viewing pleasure! Better late than next, amiright??

Monday, February 24, 2014

Light me up, Scotty

As we get closer to dry walling (more on that in another post), I have been trying to think ahead and make decisions about post-drywall things. Mainly, lighting.

I knew what type of lighting I wanted in different locations, but the process of actually finding the lights is another story completely. Thank goodness for Pinterest, which makes it much easier to corral options into one place for comparison. And then once I have narrowed down to 5 options or less, Ryan weighs in on the options.

In the kitchen I knew we were going to have recess lighting as the primary source of light, and then 2 pendants over the bar, and another pendant over the sink. In the the living room we want a ceiling fan, plus two pendants for either end of the sofa (in lieu of table lamps), and some sort of fun but low-profile ceiling fixture for the office/laundry room. The dining room will be getting a DIY chandelier made out of Ball jars, similar to the images below, plus or minus the old machine parts. My parents have an old pulley I would like to use, and we found a source for old-style fabric-wrapped electrical cords. It's a long way down the road to this project, so we're not worrying about the specifics too much just yet.

Perhaps I should back-track and let you in on our "vision" for the home. Ryan and I both agreed when we started the renovation that we want to go for a rustic/industrial/modern vibe. Not too "country" (or at least the version of country our parents would identify with, no offense Mom) but not too modern since it still in an old house, after all.

Our first "real" purchase for the house occurred when we couldn't get my beloved mid-century modern sofa up the stairs to the temporary living room. This was a blessing in disguise as it turned out, because once I thought about it more, that sofa really wasn't all that comfy and I couldn't see us lounging around on it watching TV. So we bought this instead:

The Ikea Kivik sofa, in "Tullinge gray-brown". I liked that it was clean-lined but not too modern, dark enough to now show the dog hair, the fabric looked higher-end than some others, and it sat low to the floor so I didn't have to worry about vacuuming under it. I also liked that for our current living situations we could leave the chaise and sofa separate for now, then combine them when we moved everything downstairs. And of course you can't argue with the price, $899 for almost 11' of sofa. So that was the first purchase, which kind of then sets the tone for the rest of the home.

We also bought hardwood floors. Initially we thought we could re-finish the existing floors, but there were so many areas in need of patching & repair that we didn't think it was going to be feasible, and then Ryan found wormy chestnut flooring listed on Craigslist, and nothing else was an option anymore. The un-excitable man couldn't stop talking about these floors for over a week. I (who had my heart set on black walnut floors) gave in and let him have his floors. We wound up ordering 800 SF in 3-1/4" and 4" widths for a nice mix once it's all down. Here is a little preview. So many nail and worm holes, it's going be so beautiful! It's going to be the biggest pain in the ass ever to install, but it will be beautiful in the end.

So back to lighting. With the sofa & flooring in mind, I began the hunt and found the following options for the living room. Either the clear pendant with the top fan, or the bronze pendant with the bottom fan. 

Truth be told I really did love both options, but I have owned the top fan before, and Ryan and I both agree that while we love the look of the old-style light bulbs, we're not sure they're going to be around for the long haul, and we don't want to make the commitment to a light fixture that requires them (like the clear pendant would). And honestly, I thought the other two options would garner more comments/compliments from friends and family. Plus I really like the pendant being adjustable in height, since it will be taking the place of any table lamps so you can adjust the height as needed for different situations. 

It will also play nicely with the pendants (below, left) we're using over the kitchen bar, which were the first lights we picked when we first started this little renovation of ours. We have entertained others over the course of time, but always keep coming back to this one. And luck for me, I was able to find a coordinating-but-different light for over the sink (below, right). Don't they look lovely together? I can't wait to see them hanging up!

We also chose a very basic minimalist trim for the eight recessed lights that will be in the kitchen, which meant the only remaining question mark was the office light. I would love to have something fun in here, and contemplated this light before Ryan pointed out that even in it's smaller 22" size, people (other people, not me people) would hit their heads on it. So that was out.

These are some flush-mount options that I liked as well but they weren't making me giddy for them. 

These two are currently my top two options (surprisingly Ryan didn't veto the first one with the crystals), and the second one is clean and modern, but still has some interest in the texture. And it's only $40 in an 18" size, so I could potentially install it for now and not cry about it if I decide to replace it with something else later. Right now that's the direction I'm leaning, I could also see that light in the upstairs bedrooms as well when we install ceiling fixtures down the line. 

Anything is better than a boob lightamiright?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Lessons learned

So I've learned some lessons along the way (other than the obvious "double any timeline you envision for a project" that we've learned so far). Allow me to share them with you, so you can learn from my mistakes!

I learned some lessons the hard way in the course of the updating I showed in the last post. First lesson: priming.

I suppose I would have learned this lesson when I painted my mom's childhood bedroom set, and learned about the importance of primer when I had to strip off the paint, prime and re-paint. But that was a few years ago, and how quickly one forgets! So when it came to painting the various types of paneling we had going on, I didn't really do my research, but thought I was doing good by buying some "bonding primer". You know, so it'll bond to everything, and the paint will bond to it. Makes sense, right? So I began...

One coat in, I realized that the knots in the wood paneling were seeping through the primer. So I re-coated 2 more times in a test spot (photo below), and the knots were STILL seeping through. Bummer.

So my cost saving measures were all for naught, and off to Lowe's I went to pick up the $40 gallon of BIN primer. Well this did the trick, but being the most expensive gallon of anything I have ever purchased I didn't want to use it to coat all the walls, so I reserved it for my trouble areas, and still used the whole gallon when all was said and done! Check out this beauty below, you could tell where there were things that had been hanging on the walls and the tobacco smoke didn't discolor the walls behind them. Even after a few months we still had yellow goo seeping out of the door trim in the bathroom after hot showers. Gross.

After 2-3 coats of primer the rooms were looking so bright & fresh!

Oh, and have I ever shown you our popcorn ceiling, complete with sparkle finish?? As fun as that was, she had to get primed & painted as well. Sorry, sparkles!

These took 2-3 coats of primer also, which became difficult when you're painting white over white, I was never sure what I had covered and what I hadn't. The glitter was also not so well "adhered" to the ceiling, so after hours of rolling paint overhead I was covered in glitter and paint-covered-glitter for quite some time.

For the ceilings, I went with the Valspar interior flat ceiling paint that goes on purple and dries white. I thought this would make it easier to see where I had already painted, which it did. But it also dried fairly quickly, so if I wasn't mindful of where I had painted already I still got lost. I think I did at least 2 coats of this in all rooms (2 upstairs rooms & the bathroom).

At the top of the stairs where I removed the shelves, we had some gaps leftover at the base and corners. So I added some base from scraps we had removed elsewhere in the house, and you can see in the center all the gaps that remained. So I added some some corner trim to cover the gap between the wallpapered paneling and the side walls, and caulked the nail holes and trim gaps. I also had to do this in all the rooms I painted (amazing how painting some walls white makes gaps all that much more noticeable).

I think I went through at least a dozen tubes of caulking in the process. And having never caulked anything before, I wasted a lot as well. And may have gotten some on my pants...

However, once all that priming and caulking was done, I got to do the fun part and finally put some color on the walls! Surprise, surprise, I made some mistakes in this process as well!

I had already selected the paint colors for the small bedroom and the bathroom, but I still needed a color for the cabinets in the bathroom as well as the walls in the "living room". I had used Sherwin Williams Taupe Tone in my last house (and loved it) but I thought I should try something new this time around. So I chose two different taupy colors, and bought a gallon of each (I'm still learning how much paint is required for various projects, in retrospect I could have bought less paint for some of these projects. Live and learn, right?). I got one coat of each on their respective surfaces, and they looked... off. I kept detecting green undertones in both, which were really evident in the bathroom against the pale aqua walls. I immediately assume this is an error on the part of the Lowe's employee who mixed my paint, but I go grab my paint chips to compare anyway. Lo and behold, perfect match!

What went wrong? Well, being that I don't always have an abundance of light in which to work and choose paint samples, I had laid out my paint chips in the light from the window downstairs when making my selections. So any green undertones were washed out by the sunlight.

Not sure if the slight green tones are apparent on the two right paint colors, but they were very apparent on my walls. I felt SO stupid. I went to school for this! For seven years! I should know better than to make such a rookie mistake. Out the paint chips came again, and this time I decided to just stick with my tried and true Taupe Tone, and use the same for the living room walls as well as the bathroom cabinets.

You can see here how much green was in the original paint, as opposed to the Taupe Tone which I was applying over top. Muuuuuch better.

In case anyone is wondering how we go about picking a paint color, allow me to elaborate. Typically I get an idea in my head of what general color I'm leaning toward. Once that happens I pull out my paint chips. That's right, all of them.

I then proceed to pull out EVERY chip in the color I'm interested in, like so:

In this particular instance I was picking exterior door colors. With all similar colors laid out together it's easy to quickly weed though to a few strong contenders, because it becomes apparent which ones are too green, too blue, too yellow, too pale, etc.  Then you just pick your favorite from the leftovers. However, I'm still learning that finess for picking the right color the first time (thankfully John and Sherry from YHL have some helpful suggestions that I plan to heed in the future).

For instance, the color they painted their front door is Benjamin Moore' Blue Lake, an ever-so-slightly-grayer shade of the color I chose, Valspar's Sea Exposure. Granted, I have never seen their door in person, but it looks so lovely and peaceful on their blog, and while I love my colorful doors, I do occasionally wish they were just a wee bit less bold.

Forgive the iPhone photo, but see the difference? So subtle...

I'm certainly not going to go out and buy a whole new gallon of paint and re-paint all my doors, so our doors just have a little more punch to them. (again, forgive the iPhone photo)

Come spring I plan to paint the garage door and shutters black to spruce up the curb appeal even more. We keep getting compliments on how nice the house looks from people who drive by, but we really haven't touched the exterior at all. Once I do some updates I'll at least feel deserving of the compliments!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How we're living now

I've been meaning to do this post for a year now, but never managed to make the time. Story of my life, right?

When we bought the house and knew we were going to be living in it while renovating the first floor. And while the upstairs was technically fine for temporary purposes when we bought it, I felt strongly that it needed a bit of a face-lift for the time being, and I'm so glad I did. I didn't want it to feel like we were living in someone else's space, you know? It cost us a few hundred dollars and countless hours of priming and painting, but honestly, it's made all the difference in the world! Even though the entire downstairs looks like a disaster zone, we have our spaces to retreat to that feel like ours. I really think it's been the one thing keeping us sane through this whole adventure, and that's priceless.

Let's look back at what we started with... Starting downstairs, here is what the bathroom looked like when we bought the house:

And here's what it looks like now!

In here everything got a fresh coat of paint, in addition to removal of the shower doors. Adding a curved shower curtain rod really made that tiny tub tolerable for the time being. 24" isn't wide enough for anyone to shower, I don't care how little you are! We also put down a new stick-on vinyl floor when we replaced the toilet, so that was a nice little face-lift too. It feels like an all-new space!

I made the decision not to replace the doors on the upper portion of the cabinet so we have easy access to pantry items (since we don't have any kitchen cabinets we are using this as our kitchen storage for the time being) and I added the Ikea shelves for storing my hair & makeup products.

I still need to paint the medicine cabinet (Ryan built a surround for it to enclose the open space between the cabinet and light that was originally there), and we just got a new door to install once Ryan finishes framing out the wall. And this one will even swing the right way, what a novel concept!

The stairs haven't had as much progress, but we removed the bifold door & the carpet, and I recently stripped and sanded down the treads. The next step will be to spackle the risers & strings and paint them white. I think the contrast of the "reclaimed" treads will look nice with the bright white trim, and the color of the treads will play nicely off the color of the hardwoods we'll be installing.

Here is a before & during of the stripping & sanding process. There were many trials & tribulations involved in removing the multiple layers of paint (including but not limited to use of toxic stripping liquids & a heat gun, used separately). The upper-most tread in the bottom photo is closest to the "finished" look I was able to achieve on all stairs. The other treads still had icky brown paint to be removed. Boy was that process a pain!

Then we had this built-in shelving at the top of the stairs. I tore out the shelving , added trim at the floor and corners and we hung our coat rack there for the time being, as well as the framed silhouette of Ryan's boxer.

As you can see we have temporary "doors" in the form of sheets hung in the doors in a feeble attempt to keep construction dust out of the 2nd story spaces. They're not very efficient, but they're better than nothing.

If you go right from the landing, this is the larger bedroom, which we're using as our living room for the time being. Here are the changes in that room:

Big difference, right? It's such a calming space now, it's a perfect escape from the chaos downstairs.

Off this room is the big storage closet. No changes in here other than, you know, storing stuff. Totes on the left, and shelves on the right. I never realized we had so much stuff!

If you go back to the landing and go to the left, this is currently our bedroom.

This room is on the back of the house and doesn't get much light, so I thought I would try to brighten it up with a sunny color. It's my first time ever painting a room yellow, and so far I still like it. When we move the living room downstairs, this room will be the guest room and we'll move our bedroom into the bigger room. I have an idea what direction I want for this room, it's just a matter of pulling the pieces together slowly, but it will get there in time.

As you can see we replaced the carpets in both rooms upstairs, with what was originally the downstairs carpet. We re-used it up here since it was in fairly decent condition, and was only a temporary solution for the upstairs anyhow. They work for now, but I would like to sand and finish the hardwoods up here at some point.

Through the bedroom is the attic space above the kitchen & dining room. The only changes in here are one missing chimney and more junk being stored, but someday this will be a lovely master bedroom!

So folks, that's how we're living now! It isn't much, but it's ours, and I wouldn't change a thing. I'm loving every minute of this little adventure we've embarked upon. :)

walls: Valspar Sparkling Lake; cabinets: Sherwin Williams Taupe Tone; trim: Valspar Ultra White
Large Bedroom:
walls: Sherwin Williams Taupe Tone; trim: Valspar Ultra White
Small Bedroom:
walls: Behr Caribbean Sunrise; accent wall: Behr Charismatic; jewlery display: Valspar Tropical Oasis; trim: Valspar Ultra White