Thursday, November 29, 2012

Welcome Home!

I moved directly from my parents' house, where I grew up, to my husband's house on our wedding day.  He had already lived here for just over 2 years when we got married, but I have been around since before he purchased the house. Although I went house hunting with him (a little bit), helped him to coordinate paint colors, put up some artwork, added my own little touches, and made seasonal decorations for this house long before we even got engaged, it wasn't my house. As our wedding approached, I started moving all my stuff into his house, but it still wasn't my house and it still wasn't our home. Our wedding was over seven months ago and we are now expecting our first child in this house. We've received some new and gently used furniture, I've rearranged our living space, hung artwork, painted our office, and chosen paint for the nursery, downstairs bathroom, and laundry room. I have completely remodeled our master closet (with some major help from my big brother), begun the process of updating the master bath, and painted/arranged our master bedroom; using our existing furniture in new ways to fit our space.  And, about a week before Thanksgiving, as I walked upstairs after closing up the house for the night, I said goodnight to my home. That was the first time that I didn't feel like I was supposed to 'go home' as bedtime approached. I feel like all of our hard work is starting to pay off and our reward is that we are home!

How long has it taken for you to feel at home in a new house?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oh, How Time Flies!

I know this is my second post for the day (after not posting for almost 2 months), but I just haven't been up for posting until I was ready to share this huge part of our life.

We have an exciting announcement!  We're growing a little bean!  Here's the little bean sprout in all his/her glory:

This little guy or gal is due May 11th.  We're now 14 1/2 weeks pregnant and we're hoping to find out the gender right before Christmas!

So far, I'm feeling pretty good!  I'm always (always!) hungry and I'm craving any food that I can imagine.  If I see a picture of food, I have to have it.  For the most part, I'm craving savory food and cheese.  Matt has walked into the kitchen while I'm trying to make dinner and watched me devour whatever raw ingredients (cheese, veggies, etc) I'm using as I'm trying to cook.  My sense of smell is more distinguished, too.  My prenatal vitamins smell disgusting, as do hot dogs, hot asphalt, hot cars, and toiletries.

Speaking of prenatal vitamins, WHY must they torture pregnant women so?  Prenatal vitamins are the size of horse pills and smell like rotting fish.  Many pregnant women get queasy/nauseous during their pregnancy and have a stronger sense of smell and quicker gag reflexes, so of course it makes sense that these pills are twice the size of normal vitamins and smell awful, to boot!

We're going to turn the front bedroom into the baby's room.  We already know that we'll paint it orange, but we'll accessorize based on whether the bean sprout is a guy or gal.  Eventually, we'll post photos and before/after shots.  I can't stand the smell of paint, so I will probably have to wait for Matt to get around to painting.  The orange was originally meant for the guest bedroom, but the plans quickly changed and our office is staying put in the middle bedroom.  We may try to add some sort of sleeping quarters in the office for guests, but that is TBD for now.

What projects have you had to revise due to surprises or unexpected changes that have been thrown your way?

What a Great Room!

When Matt moved into this house over two years ago, the downstairs was arranged in a much different way than it is now. Isn't it amazing to watch a space evolve over the course of several years? It took a while to get our bearings about how to use our space in the best possible way. We do not have a large house (it's fairly small compared to most other houses in our area). We have 1573 square feet plus a 2 1/2 car garage man cave. When Matt moved in, he arranged the family room in a similar way to the previous owner: a single couch in the family room, next to the fireplace, and across from the television.

The living/dining combo room housed two stormy blue chairs (and a Christmas tree).  Then, I fell in love with a table. It was a cold winter evening at Ikea and I was meandering through the as-is section when I stumbled across my table. He was a handsome table; perfectly fitting the description of tall (er, large), dark, and handsome. His name was Bjursta, but we'll just call him Buster. Buster was marked down 30ish% off his original price because he had been put on display and had a scratch to show for it. The scratch was hardly noticeable and everything was intact, so I had to take him home.  They were also having a sale that took an additional 25% off all as-is items, so I only paid $173ish for him; tax included.  But, what I noticed was that he seemed a little bigger than his supposed dimensions, so instead of being the $299 version that seated 6-10 people, he was the $399+ version that could comfortably seat 10-16 people!  I still lived at my parents' home, so I stored Buster under my bed until we decided to host both of our families for Christmas.  We enjoyed a day-after-Christmas feast with 16 people at that table, in the dining/living combo that only held a Christmas tree, two chairs, and the commotion of 16 well-fed people.

Matt wasn't sold yet on the table, noting that while it fit in the space, he was hoping to have a sofa in that room, too.  So, when I was in Mississippi during Spring 2011, Matt replaced the floor downstairs with laminate wood flooring.  When I came home, we discussed the possibility of turning his family room into a dining room and his living/dining combo into a great room. We both liked that idea (we were almost engaged by this time) and went ahead with that plan. Our goal was to have three spaces that served a single function instead of having three spaces that had to multi-task.  So, we removed the table from the breakfast nook (we have plans for an island eventually), turned the small family room into a large-capacity dining room, and moved the television and couch into the new great room.

Fast forward about a year. We are now married and wanted to finish off the haphazard family room.  When my parents' neighbor offered us their old set of couches for free, we jumped at the opportunity. The couches are in great condition and fit the room well.
However, the way that the room was set up didn't allow for the couch and loveseat to sit next to each other, so Matt and I started playing with the room configuration and settled on this:

Well, on my birthday, my mom and I went shopping (my parents weren't sure about what to get me for my birthday) and we came across the rug in the picture above.  It was the right colors, right size, and right price, so we snatched it up and brought it home!  It is PERFECT for this space, which is now a comfortable sitting area for 6-10 people, thanks to added sofa space and several ottomans that are strategically placed throughout the room.  Our room that was once closed off and dark is now light and welcoming!
Eventually, I would like to paint the walls in a cooler tone, but that's a project for another day.  Our master closet is nearing completion, so stay tuned for the big closet reveal.
What little tweaks have you made around your house that have vastly improved the functionality of your house?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sleepin' Pretty, Part II

It feels great to say that we're done (for the time being) with our master bedroom and we are smitten!  We have switched out every single ugly beige light switch and electrical outlet for white switches and outlets, painted every square inch of the room (except the carpet), and arranged the furniture in a way that works for us.  In the beginning, the bed was on the big, blank wall on the far side of the bed and Matt's dresser and television were directly across from it (where the console table now resides).  Those were the only furniture items in the room until my papasan chair moved in.  See this post for the before pictures as well as pictures from the other half of the room.

Here is the view from the doorway.  The walls are a soft grey-taupe-brownish color, which is a nice contrast to our green accent wall.  This picture was taken before we swapped some of the accessories.

This is the view from the bathroom.  I think this corner could use more color, especially in the form of a new chair.  I am smitten by a tall, dark, and curvy chair at Home Goods (it's even on clearance!) and I'm currently trying to convince hubby that it would make an excellent birthday gift (if it's still there).  The curtains are burlap and I made six of them from 15 yards of fabric, which was on sale (regularly $3.99/yd, $1.60/yd with my 60% off coupon) at JoAnns.  The total cost for the curtains (not including hanging hardware) was $25!

This picture has the most accurate paint color portrayal (except the pinkish spot in the middle).  The blank wall in this picture will eventually become a wall of floating bookshelves.  My inspiration for this wall is a combination of my grandparents' house (no pictures available), Young House Love's zippered patio seam, and my pinspiration

I would like to find some livelier accent decorations and sew a small accent pillow for our bed or for the chair in the corner from a napkin I found on clearance at Cost Plus World Market for under $2.  Eventually, we plan to swap out the floor for something dark and sleek, swap the baseboards for something more decorative, and build cabinets and a really tall armoire in the random nooks in our bedroom.  We'll eventually get around to those projects!  Next up on our list: the master bathroom, the master closet, and the office.

What home improvement projects are you dreaming about right now?  Are you planning to tackle them soon or do expect that you'll have to wait a while?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cleanin' House

Let me tell you a little secret.  We're almost into our third month of marriage and we're still settling into our house.  As in, I'm still moving in.  My old bedroom still has quite a bit of stuff that I have yet to pack up and move over.  Plus, we still haven't put away all of our wedding gifts.  I think a few of my bridal shower gifts are still searching for a permanent home, too.  We have a lot of stuff that doesn't have a home yet and most of it is sitting on our dining room table.  This weekend, however, we decided to take care of an area that was haunting Matt: the garage.  His man-cave-to-be was filled with unfinished furniture, lumber, stuff to give away, tools, and holiday decorations.  It wasn't giving off the vibe he wanted, so he literally pulled EVERYTHING out of the garage.  I wish I had a before picture (like usual, I didn't get to snap a pic of the space before starting), but there was stuff everywhere.  In about a five hour span, he pulled everything out of the garage (except for the stuff in our awesome cabinets) and we worked together to put stuff back into the garage in an orderly fashion.  We still have stuff to recycle (our bin is full), stuff to donate, and stuff to sell, but each of those piles are separated into boxes and don't intrude on the rest of the garage.

Here are the soon-to-be poker table and the bar.  Oh, and I used a prop from our wedding to hide the water heater.  Can you see it hiding in the back?

Contrary to how this picture may look, all of the wood is well organized in this photo!  We have a lot of projects going on right now, including one hiding beneath the blue sheet.

Holiday storage (and extra carpet?!)
There's still some work to be done on these shelves, but we'll get around to it eventually!

Matt also intends to further organize the open storage area (above) as well as our paint/fertilizer/anything-that-would-be-harmful-to-dogs-or-kids storage area.  We keep that stuff (aside from sharp objects like saws and tools) in a single cabinet that we will be able to lock up before we get a dog and/or have kids.  Hubby is thrilled to have the garage finished!  Now he can move his movie and Simpsons posters to the garage man cave.

Then, our office and guest bedroom/craft room walls will be blank and ready for some decoratin'!  We finally agreed about what we will do with our two secondary bedrooms!  The current craft room/guest bedroom will become the designated guest bedroom (complete with my old bed) and the current office will get a complete facelift (because scrapbooking supplies are oh-so-pretty).  We've already started by moving the sofa bed into the garage (we don't intend for it to be used as a bed out there), thanks to the help of my parents.  It took all four of us to move the sofa downstairs and out of the house on Sunday.  The next step is to figure out how we want to arrange the office, which now has my desks in it as well as Matt's desk.  Here's to hoping that we figure out a good configuration for our desks!

Are you currently in the midst of re-purposing rooms? Have you given your husband the go-ahead on a man cave?  What's your best tip for merging households?  Leave a comment and let me know what's up in your house!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Am. (A departure from home improvement and DIY)

I Am.
By: Sarah

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a person.
I am an aunt, a cousin, a niece, a friend.

I have thoughts. I have feelings. I have convictions. I have faith.  I have boundaries.
I am entitled to my thoughts.
I am entitled to my feelings.
I am entitled to my convictions.
I am entitled to my faith.
I am entitled to my boundaries.

Do not trample upon my thoughts.
Do not trample upon my feelings.
Do not trample upon my convictions.
Do not trample upon my faith.
Do not trample upon my boundaries.

If you want to be in my life, you must not force yourself upon me.
It won't get you far.
If you want to be in my life, your actions will speak louder than words.
Use force and meet resistance.
With grace, we will meet halfway.

Update: Since this was an incredibly random post, I wanted to give some background.  This poem was written for an art project that two ladies from church are putting together.  It's a combination of taking photos of women, pairing the photos with an I Am statement, and compiling the photos/stories into a large display.  They have taken pictures of women from various walks of life, including women who were living in a shelter when their photos were taken.  I will post a link as soon as I can find one.

Have you ever participated in a large scale art project?  We'd love to hear your story!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hoovering like a Helicopter

My true colors are coming out today as I wait for our new vacuum to arrive.  So far, I've checked the UPS tracking website, excitedly texted Matt to tell him it's on its way, cleared several areas to vacuum, ran to the window every time I heard a truck anything drive past our house, and trimmed the bushes in the front so that our house number is visible from the street.  Am I overly excited? Yes, but can you blame me?  Matt used this old Kirby for the last two years and although it didn't work well even when he got it, the price was right (a coworker gave it to him for free).

Its new home is the garage until we either put it on Craigslist, sell it to a local vacuum repair/resale place, or donate it to one of our siblings.

As far as choosing our new vacuum, we set a budget of $150-$200. I scoped out Target and gave Matt a list of three vacuums that interested me.  He did all the research to choose the best option for us.  We needed a vacuum that was lightweight, easily turned off the bristles (I intend to use it on our hard floors downstairs), and had a HEPA filter (preferably a washable filter).  In my opinion, the HEPA filter was the most important feature since Matt has asthma and allergies.  Fortunately, most vacuums these days have a HEPA filter.  Our choices included the Hoover WindTunnel Air, the Shark Naviator Lift-Away, and the Shark Navigator Professional.  We chose... the Hoover!

We planned to purchase through (though we could have purchased it in the store just as easily much easier) because we'd already used our 10% registry completion discount in store, but we still had our 10% discount and enough gift cards to cover the whole vacuum (plus two sleeping bags for our upcoming camping trip!).

So, after six phone calls to (don't even get me started!), and a few days of waiting, we received our sexy new Hoover!  Within the first five minutes, it was already set up and I was vacuuming upstairs.

What's your favorite household electronic?  Is it a vacuum, television, KitchenAid Mixer or something else?  Leave a comment; I'd love to know if I'm the only one smitten by a vacuum cleaner (although the KitchenAid is a close second in my book)!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sleepin' Pretty, Part I

My in-laws are awesome.  They gifted us a beautiful bed frame for our wedding.  You might recognize it from Crate & Barrel: it's the Pavilion Canopy Bed.

My husband, Matt, begrudgingly agreed to put it on our registry, thinking that no one would purchase it for us.  He never saw himself with a canopy bed.  That's not to say that he doesn't like it, but it's a departure from his comfort zone.  We were I was happily surprised when he came home with the news that his parents had purchased it for us!  It is sturdy, pretty, has the canopy part (for me), the low foot board (for Matt), and works well in our bedroom because of our vaulted ceiling!  Excuse the poor-quality photos, but here is a "partial-before" photo of the bedroom; it was taken after we started to rearrange the bedroom, but prior to painting the walls.

After several coats of Behr's 'Rolling Hills' for our accent wall and Behr's 'Wheat Bread' for the other three walls, we were ready to have our new bed frame delivered and set up!  I wasn't home to take pictures of the delivery and installation (because it wasn't my home yet), but here is what it looked like after a hasty decorating spree, using only items we had around the house.  The result: an extraordinarily comfy bed, but not much depth to the decoration.  My parents watered our plants while we were on our honeymoon and added the sheer drapes (leftover from our wedding) to the decor.  What you can't see from this picture is that there is absolutely no furniture or decoration on the right side of the room.

Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, we were able to purchase the-only-duvet-we-could-agree-upon from our registry: the Marimekko Lumimarja Celery duvet cover from Crate & Barrel.  We didn't worry about getting the whole matching set, though.  Instead, we chose to accessorize with a variety of colors and textures.

Enter Ikea.  For $1 apiece we were able to snag two 26" square pillowcases from the As-Is Department, which fit two pillows that we already owned.

We also went on a bit of a Target shopping spree, where we found this beauty:
And after some assembly time... we have a winner! So, with the addition of several more decorative items, including several wedding gifts, we are done for the moment (until I get flowers to fill the vase!). 
 And the side-by-side comparison:

I really wish I had the true 'before' photos.  The dresser and television were originally centered on the wall where the console table and Midsummer Eve artwork now reside and the bed was directly opposite. Eventually, we want to refinish the nightstands and/or buy new ones, install hard flooring, build an armoire into the area that currently has my vanity table, build cabinets on the random ledge, and bring in a small fireplace.

What's your favorite part of your master bedroom?  Leave a comment and let us know!  For kicks, my favorite part of my bedroom is feeling like a princess when I wake up, due to the comfy bed and the tree-filled view out our window!

P.S. The lamp base is also a Target find.  They were on clearance several months ago and I sent Matt to several different Targets to find them. This picture also shows the necessity of refinishing these nightstands, pronto.  Hubby stripped them, but never got around to refinishing them.  He enjoys refinishing furniture, so they are his project :)

P.P.S. A second post is coming with the other half of the room and the bathroom, pending touch-up paint and curtains.  Our closet (when the makeover is completed) deserves its own post.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Lightbulb Went On!

A while ago, we decided that we would change out all of our ugly, tan-colored light switches and electrical outlets.  We finally got around to switching out everything in the master bedroom and the current office, but when we turned the power on, the light switches that connect to electrical outlets (instead of ceiling lights) weren't working.  A quick internet investigation revealed that there is a little tab on each side of the outlet.  My finger is pointing at one of the tabs in the picture below.

When the tab is there, the electricity will run through the entire socket.  So, in order for it to work with a light switch, the tab must be broken off to interrupt the hot wire.  In the picture below, the the hot side is at the bottom.  You might be able to locate the word "hot" directly above the left-side brass-colored screw.

Then, use needle nose pliers to wiggle the tab back and forth until the tab comes off.

Voila!  You may then proceed to the outlet installation.

And the finished product:


Sunday, August 12, 2012

From I-Do to To-Do

Thirty-six days ago, I married my best friend.  It was a beautiful day and we were blessed to be surrounded by so many family members and friends!  We've been home for a week (after our honeymoon and two back-to-back family vacations, which were punctuated by two weddings at which we were guests) and we're finally starting to settle into our home. We've had a busy year.  I graduated from college, we planned a wedding, we worked, and I moved.  My husband, Matt, bought our home two Junes ago and it is a labor of love for both of us.  Now that we're both living here, I want to start chronicling our adventures and misadventures in our home as we update our house and give it the handmade touches that will turn it into a home.  The goal of this blog is to track our progress and share our life with our family and friends.  In the past two years, we've painted all of the common areas and installed laminate wood flooring on the first floor.  We did a room swap in the process and turned our family room into a dining room, which left us with a much larger great room.  We've also done smaller projects during this time: refinishing several furniture items, creating artwork, etc.  Not a very impressive beginning.  With our mishmash of furniture and belongings from childhood through now, we have a long way to go before our house becomes a home.

So, with out further ado, here is Mr. Incomplete To-Do:
  •  Master Suite
    • Paint bedroom and bathroom
    • Remodel master closet
    • Install hard floors
    • Find and install new light fixtures in bedroom, bathroom, and toilet room
    • Install baseboards
    • New shower
    • Strip, sand, and refinish vanity
    • Replace all outlets and switches with white hardware
    • Build armoire-like cabinets in empty area behind door
    • Build storage cabinets in vaulted area
    • Find comfy reading chair
    • Build or buy really tall, shallow bookcases
    • Find creative doors for our closet
  • Office/Craft Room/Guest Bedroom (two rooms that need to serve three purposes... but we haven't figured out agreed upon how we will divvy up the space)
    • Paint
    • Rearrange every item of furniture and every item on the walls
    • Install hard floors
    • Replace all outlets and switches with white hardware
  • Great Room
    • Repaint
    • Rearrange
    • Built-ins under the stairs
    • Replace all outlets and switches with white hardware
    • Install baseboards
  • Kitchen
    • Repaint
    • Add island
    • Strip, sand, and refinish cabinets
    • Rearrange cabinets to fit all our new wedding gifts
    • Replace countertops
    • Fix the weird floor edge angle
  • Dining Room
    • Repaint
    • New light fixture
    • Replace all outlets and switches with white hardware
  • Jack and Jill Bathroom: Mickey-themed
    • Paint--Disney/Behr's "Smackeral of Hunny"
    • Find linen tower
    • Strip, sand, and refinish cabinets
  • Powder Room: Botanical-themed (white, shades of green, bright pops of yellow)
    • New sink hardware
    • New light fixture
    • Paint--Light, limey-green
    • Strip, sand, and paint medicine cabinet
  • Laundry Room
    • Paint
    • Add shelving above washer/dryer
    • Create a storage solution for cleaning supplies
  • Back Yard
    • Replace bushes with flowers
    • Create outdoor living space
    • Build chicken coop
    • Build composting bins
    • Build raised platform area using bricks
    • Replace current patio with bricks
    • Add raised beds for kitchen garden
    • Install clothesline
  • Front Yard
    •  Less bushes, more flowers