Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First Snow in the New House!

Nothing brings out my inner child more than a snowfall followed by a snowball fight! I am loving the winter wonderland outside and the warm fire inside!
You can see Poof's cute little paw prints on the deck :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

In the closet? Out of the closet? I say all that really matters is that there's a door on that closet.

And our office closet now has a door. We ordered the thing FOREVER ago and it just arrived. The guy at Lowe's apologized for it taking so long and claims there was a 'holiday rush'. Hmm...a holiday rush for closet doors? Riiight. I think they just forgot about our order until David called to check on it a few weeks ago.

Here's a look at what the closet looked like when we moved in (eww):
Dave installed the new shelves and racks in October and we were just waiting for that door to arrive...
The closet opening needed to be lowered slightly for the closet door to fit:We decided on a mirrored door with trim the color of the floors andd here's the finished product:

Monday, December 7, 2009

And the wall came tumbling down!

One of the many mysteries of our house was a wall we presume to have been built along with a permanent staircase up to the attic. The stairs take up less than 1/2 the length of the room yet the wall continues along the entire room cutting off much needed space and a window from the master bedroom. This weekend it was time for that wall to go!!

Here's a few before pics:

Our handy friend Sean came over to help us with the demolition and he quickly discovered another old house mystery. Not only was there a lathe & plaster wall but there was sheet rock over the lathe & plaster...double the strength, double the fun?
David having a manly power tool moment.
Here's where we crossed our fingers. While we knew the wall wasn't structural, we didn't know if any pipes or electrical were housed in it. Lucky for us, it wasn't hiding anything unexpected in that department!
We saved the trim and door from this wall to use between the master bathroom and bedroom which the house was missing when we bought it. I'm so ready to get this door reinstalled in its new home so we don't have to use a blanket as a bathroom door anymore.
I haven't seen David this happy in photos since our trip to Panama. He is REALLY happy to be removing this wall!

And here's the wall all gone:

We ended up with around 36sq ft of additional space but it feels like twice that! The next phase will be to patch the ceiling and walls, and trim it all in. When we have the floors downstairs resurfaced, we'll have the gaps in the floor left by this project filled in.

Thanks again to Sean and to Paul who also came over to help us with this project. You guys are the best. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A little more home in our house

I finally got some of our family photos up on the walls in the hallway. I have always been a fan of white frames haphazardly hung so I bought all different frame styles and went to town. I love the way it looks.

Now I just need a perfect console table for the far wall under the photos. The work is never done. :)
And just for the record, this is what the hallway looked like when we bought the house in April. My how far we've come...

Pretty Things in Pretty Spaces

Spent some time looking for design inspiration online and am currently obsessing over these Sally Conran designs:

I am loving these curtains in contrasting damask-ish fabrics. Curtains couldn't be that hard to make, right? Maybe I'll try my hand at something like this...
I LOVE dark navy/charcoal spaces. Also loving these flowers, might have to grow them in my garden...that doesn't exist yet.
I have never been a fan of wallpaper in the past, but lately I've been digging large patterned wallpaper in subtle colors. I think it would look fantastic above the woodwork in our dining room.
Loving the shelf idea in this bathroom because it creates so much more 'counter' space which would be great in our small master bath! This crib is incredible.

(images: Sally Conran)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Project Insulating the Attic

We embarked upon another winterization project over the past two days which was to insulate the attic. We wanted the space up there to remain usable in the future (I'm hoping for an art studio for mwah!) so we opted to have the insulation put in under the floorboards. We weren't too keen on the idea of dealing with the insulation ourselves so we hired our trusty handyman Enrique to do the job for us.

The attic floor only has 7" of dead space which meant the highest rated insulation that would officially fit is R-19. However, we decided to squeeze in R-30 which officially needs about 9". By condensing it we will lose some effectiveness but it should still give us more insulation than R-19 would have. We were hoping to get some Energy Trust credits for this project but that doesn't apply unless you install R-38 or higher which wouldn't fit.

This project was SO anti-climatic because you can't see anything is different. The attic floor looks exactly the same as it did before. The only proof was the rolls of insulation that were in our entryway and are now gone. Hopefully more proof is coming in the form of lower heating bills!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

Pottery Barn velvet curtains and white faux-fur throws...
As we'll be knocking out a wall and gaining a window in the master bedroom, we needed to match the third window treatment to the other two we already finished. Pottery Barn to the rescue...got one more velvet panel in pewter. I also had to have the coziest throw EVER in white to keep me warm this winter. I can't wait to curl up in it by the fire with my babes.

I also have my eye on two other fantastic PB finds that are over the budget for now (here's hoping for a sale!):
-The velvet curtains in espresso for the living room. We need two 100" x 96" panels and PB actually carries this size.
-The new Cecil rug. Love it! Love it! Love it!
The design is such a unique take on the Arts &Crafts style, combining beautiful shades of greens, oranges and reds in a graphic yet sophisticated pattern.

Window Shopping

We are getting closer to an overhaul of the downstairs. With this in mind, I've been looking for some fabulous ceiling fan options for the living room and chandelier options for the dining room. I'm trying to stick to the mission theme and incorporate the stained/beveled glass from the house windows (and something that matches our lamps wouldn't hurt either). I also want to stay away from the typical 'Rejuvenation' options because I see them everywhere and want something more unique. If anyone has any good sources I'd love to know about them! Here are a few I am loving right now:

57" Mission Bronze Advan Touch Ceiling Fan

Tahoe 6 Light Chandelier in Bronze
I can't get enough of House of Antique Hardware. They have the most wonderful period items and they ship from a warehouse in Portland so local buyers can pick-up their items.

Project Demudification

After we had our wonderful french drain put in, the strip of property on the East side of the house became a giant mud pit. Over the past few weeks we dropped in a stone walkway, planted hostas and ground covers, transplanted a few ferns from the woods at my dad's house and spread lots of seeds from of a mystery shade-loving plant that grows at my mom's house.

I look forward to seeing how this pathway garden shapes up come Springtime!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gettin' Some Trim

Trim is another low effort high impact project, but it sure is tedious… the precise measuring to within 1/16th of an inch, the cutting 45 degrees this way and 22.5 degrees that way, the priming and painting only to have to prime and paint the trim ends again after you’ve made your cuts, the furniture moving and following your work with wood filler and touch-up paint - ugh. Lucky for us, our friend Matt owns and was happy to share his miter saw, compressor and pneumatic brad nailer, which saved us a ton of time.

In the hallway, the floor was a bit far away from the bottom of the baseboards due to some floor sag around the chimney. This gap maxed out at nearly 1 ½ inches at its worst, so we couldn’t use the standard quarter round we used elsewhere. Instead, we decided to use casing, and we selected a style that tied in to the trim above the baseboards.

Eighty-six cuts and forty-three piece installations later, we finally have finished trim in our guest room, upstairs hallway, office, and two of our upstairs closets. It really does make a huge difference – the gaps between the baseboards and the floors are gone, and the rooms finally have a clean, finished look to them. Hooray!

Down the Drain

There’s some water infiltrating our basement – not a lot, but enough to hamper our future plans to finish it into living space. The cause is obvious – on the east side of our property, the drainage is inadequate, we have two downspouts, our neighbor has two downspouts, and our neighbor’s property is slightly higher than ours. As a consequence of the curvature of spacetime, water will always follow the easiest downhill path, and in our case, this path hugged the corner of our foundation. Hence the infiltration.

Enter the French drain. French drains are very effective at intercepting and diverting water, and they’re fairly simple – all you need is a sloped trench, a perforated drain pipe, and a bunch of drainage rock. For less than $90 in materials and a day of labor, we now have a 60-foot French drain and a dry basement. C'est fantastique!

Trivia note: You might think it’s called a French drain because it originated in France, but think again! It is called a French drain because it was invented by Henry French, a judge and farmer who lived in Concord, Massachusetts, in the mid-1800s. Rumor has it he also made excellent fries.


We recently took on a few smaller projects which we've been putting off for months, mostly because we'd had bigger fish to fry. The nice thing about these is that they're what I like to call LEHI - Low Effort High Impact.

The first of these was a closet remodel for Kelly and myself. When we moved in, the closet configurations upstairs were a very inefficient use of space - each had a single shelf with a dowel under it stretching the length of the closet. Given that the closets have nine-foot ceilings, they had SO much more potential. I'm a big fan of utility and options, so I decided to go with the ClosetMaid system, which is available at all the big box hardware stores. It allows easy configuration, and is pretty straightforward to install. And, best of all, kits were on clearance at Lowe's, so I picked up everything I needed for about $85 per closet.

Step one - tear out the existing stuff so you have a blank canvas to work on.

Step 2 - Find the studs and set the hang strips. Finding the studs is pretty easy in a “normal” house (where they’re spaced 16” on center), but of course our 100-year-old house has them irregularly spaced, and we have plaster walls so a studfinder wouldn’t work. I ended up rapping my knuckles around to find them and drilling holes with a 1/16” bit to confirm. Grrr.

With the studs found, enter my Hilti PML line laser. I love working with lasers. So precise, so time-saving. The laser shoots a straight line right up the whole wall, which allows you to easily hang the strips straight and even/level with each other (which is important if you want your shelves level, and if you want to make sure that the sheer load on the shelves is evenly distributed across your anchors).

Step 3 – throw that sucker up. The kits are modular, so you can configure the whole closet system however you’d like. Given our high ceilings, I was able to create two rows of hanging space and several shelves, and still have room left to push my dresser in there. Finally, no more retrieving my clothes from piles in the basement. Not bad for a couple of hours of work!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Dave spend a grueling three hours at the permit office today and we have our stamp of approval! We'd been told it could take weeks, even months, to get the city's approval but we got same-day approval. Yahoo! 2 1/2 car garage with rooftop deck here we come! Now we move on to getting bids...

Shopping Spree

We finally found window treatments for the 2 office windows. Of course the windows were not the same size, one was 34" wide and the other was 32". Finding something that matched the room and fit both windows was a challenge. In the end we decided upon very affordable bamboo shades from Lowe's that matches the floors very well.
We got some killer deals at City Liquidators. If you haven't been there, they have awesome deals on furniture. We got two bookshelves that match the floor and tie in the bamboo shades.
Another City Liquidators find was new barstools for the kitchen island. They're super comfy and the brown leather matches the leather on the dining chairs. Only $45 each! Can't beat it.

Browsing through City Liquidators you find a lot of crap, but some crap can be made pretty with a little work. I found this plastic gold 24" x 36" beveled mirror for only $19.95!! I took that sucker home and spray-painted it my favorite color (oil rubbed bronze). It lives above the fireplace.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A little inspiration...

Every room and space in this house blows me away and gives me some much needed inspiration! I think I'm ready to start redoing the downstairs! :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chimney Sloppins

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
We are as lucky
As lucky can be

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Just one more fire
And our house mighta gone ka-BOOM!
(And the cleaning was just $90
So that's lucky too)

Now as the conditions
Of chimneys ar' strung
The state of our chimney
twas on the bottommost rung

25 pounds of creosote
Seems like a lot
An' said me good sweeper
If 'at stuff gits hot

It'll blow up your chimney
And burn your house down
And out in the drizzle
You'll slap on a frown

So heed my good words friends
'Tis worth spending a buck
If your creosote ignites
You'll be shit outta luck

So call your good sweeper
Have him bring his broom
And scrape sweep and chisel
Out potential doom

Now that our house won't be reduced
To ashes and smoke
In this 'ole wide world
There's no 'appier bloke

Chim chim cher-ee
Chim cher-oo!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Out with the gold, in with the new!

We (and by we I mean David) replaced the hardware on all four interior doors on the main floor this past weekend. It was one of those small projects we kept putting off in lieu of more important projects and then kind of forgot about. But while at Lowe's the idea popped into our heads and we bought the goods. After the installation was complete, we were amazed what a difference a small detail like hardware can make and wished we'd done it months ago. It looks like we put in new doors! The hideous gold knobs are gone and replaced with oil-rubbed bronze (love it!) sets that match the exterior door hardware we installed this summer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let the Landscaping begin!

We planted our first tree at the new house, a cute 5' tall Japanese Maple. We stumbled upon the great deal while at Lowe's buying items for other projects. As it turns out, Fall is a great time to buy trees at 1/2 the normal price. Lucky for us!!

Fireplace Season! So Cozy...

In the spirit of the fast approaching winter, we had a cord of wood delivered for use in our fabulous fireplace. The pile doesn't look like much, but it took two of us 3 hours to move and stack it all!

And here's Poof enjoying the cozy fire :)

I can almost taste it...

We have final plans for the garage and will be applying for permits this week!! Keep your fingers crossed!! Here's the plan if you're into that sort of thing...

Relaxation & Renovation

Not a lot of blogging has been going on lately, but we've been busy. We've been working on many small projects which I'll blog about shortly and we also took a two week vacation to the Redwoods, Lassen National Park, Mt. Shasta and Crater Lake. I'll post a link to our photo album soon.