Archive for November, 2015

A surprising reason to clean

It’s time to double down on getting our house in order because yesterday we learned that Molly has been handing out invitations at school to what she is calling the Best Sleepover Ever. We don’t know when it’s going to happen or even the names of everyone that she has invited. And if I know Molly, I doubt she even asked anyone to RSVP. Oy. I hope people bring sleeping bags.


You win some and you contact paper some

People say kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. And something about location, location and location. Well, we decided that we wanted nothing to do with those silly old adages and bought a house on a highway, under a flight path with train tracks in the backyard! And to boot? We hate the disgusting kitchen. Yes, it was just remodeled, but it’s so gross. The cabinets were hung unevenly, the countertops are nasty laminate, the floor tile looks perennially dirty and the whole thing is laid out so that you can have a dance party in the middle but bottleneck if you try to get out of the room. In short, it’s icky von icktenstein. And, of course, this is triply icky because one of us in the family really likes to cook.

But. The kitchen has a lot of potential. And I think it can be done beautifully without moving walls. Or at least too many walls. We said that when Bear goes off to public school (praise taxes!), we would be able to think about gutting it and starting over. White everywhere, please. Something clean-looking. I dream of clean. I know, I don’t even cook, but I have to look at that brown-on-brown monstrosity every day and I swear my eyes are rebelling against me. I don’t even want to show you a picture. I don’t. I like you too much.

Anyway, AO mentioned that he wanted to paint the kitchen before T-giving because, really, it has gotten gross. Like splotchy, greasy, kitchen-y gross. We had held off on painting it before because we figured we were going to gut it so why bother. I realize now that this seems silly because we knew that that was a long, long way off and paint could have at least given us a little reprieve from the Brown Doom, but that’s where we were. When AO mentioned paint, I got excited because HOME IMPROVEMENT! I thought, if he’s going to paint, what other sprucing can I do? Can we paint the countertops? The floor? Can I install a subway tile backsplash? Ok, rein it in, Kate. I wanted this to be cheap and a temporary fix before the Big Kitchen Dream of 2018 (or, you know, whenever). No one is tiling anything. So instead of tiling, I stumbled upon the world of faux-marble contact paper. I did not know it, but apparently people all over the world for centuries have been adding contact paper to their horrid countertops (gross exaggeration). It was time for us to do it, too.


Ew. Look how icky that is? Amirite?

I then when a step further and thought, if I’m going to do the counters, what am I going to do with the backsplash? We currently really don’t have one. As you can see, some MDF comes up a bit on the wall and it is covered with the laminate, but that’s it. And here is where I was introduced to metallic contact paper, which people apparently use to make non-stainless steel appliances look like, you guessed it, stainless steel. I was going to make it look like we had a sleek, stainless steel backsplash. Maybe we wouldn’t need to remodel the kitchen, after all! Maybe our whole kitchen could be covered in contact paper and Molly would be able to go to college!

Well. No. Not quite. I ordered just one roll of each because – in a move that is totally unlike me – I decided to proceed cautiously and see how it went first. That contact paper is STICKY. I mean, it sticks. Not necessarily where you want it to stick, and often to itself, but it’s not kidding with its adhesive quality.


The faux-marble stuff (I feel weird even calling it that. It’s not really pretending to be marble; it’s contact paper) is thicker and more forgiving than the metallic paper. The metallic paper went up on our bumpy walls and showed every bump. It’s just not going to work. Had we put up a piece of wallpaper liner, or maybe even another piece of thick contact paper first, it might have worked, but I ultimately think it just looks cheesy.


Yeah, it looks like I put aluminum foil on the wall. Which I kinda did. Or AO did. I have to admit that he was way better at this project than I was. I ended up ordering more of the faux stuff (one roll did not go very far), so stay tuned on how that works out. I think it’ll make the counters way more tolerable, but it’s going to look weird with the brown cabinets and nasty floors. But overall, I think it’ll help. Especially with AO’s paint job coming around the corner.

And as for the backsplash, AO seemed convinced last night that we could try a little something like this.


I found these words from Claire Danes today and I like them.

“Oh, I’m full of fear. I care about things; therefore, I have fears. I like to think that I’m brave, which is different. Brave means you’re able to admit that you care. If you care, you are vulnerable.”

Tackling the porch

Since moving into our new abode in April 2014, one thing has remained constant: the front porch has been used as a storage space. And it’s been totally embarrassing. On Saturday morning, it looked like this:


Not pretty.


Yep, there were still moving boxes out there. And very icky carpeting. So, my task, which I chose to accept because I assigned it to myself, was to make the porch a usable, reasonable-looking space in one day’s time. And without spending any money (at least at this point, but I am coming for you, boob light number ten!). And by using as many of the materials found on the porch as possible in order to minimize having to move things into the basement. And to be unsentimental in tossing things that have been out there for more than a year and a half and out of use. Also, there were about 700 pictures out on the porch that needed to get up on the walls. A lot of them were things purchased or framed or gifted (or a combo of these) long ago that aren’t really my taste anymore (see: Renaissance art), but are perfectly decent pieces of artwork and deserve to have some wall space. At least for now. So, with all of that in mind, it was: ready, set, makeover!

The first order of business was to fix that God-forsaken nasty carpet situation. What on Earth was going on with that? It needed to be covered STAT. I realized that I was holding on to those carpet squares that had never quite worked out for us the first go round. In fact, you can see them in a pile in the picture above. I didn’t have any of the sticky stuff left to put the tiles together, but I wondered if I could just kinda place them together and hope for the best. About two seconds after having that thought, though, I realized that while we may not own the official sticky stuff, we surely had duct tape and that should work for this type of project, right? Why not?


Mollybear had to be talked into the checkerboard pattern, but once on board, she did a great job jumping on the tiles to secure the tape in place. I ended up a little bit short tile-wise, but I had decided I wanted to layer the space with another rug anyway (remember, minimize moving things into the basement!) so I put this yellow number up against the wall to cover the few inches of icky carpet that the tiles weren’t able to reach.


This is a chair that we bought in Richmond that I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to sell on Craigslist, but I’m now happy has ended up still in our house. That little blue blanket on the arm is covering a puncture wound inflicted by one dog or another (not Gracie, I’m sure) and is actually Bear’s first stroller blanket and I’m not too keen to get rid of it. Two Wisconsin Film Fest pictures are poorly framed and hung too close together on the wall, but look here, folks. There are things on the wall! Let’s remember the point of this project, ok? Getting things off the floor and onto the walls! IMG_1195[1]

Looking from the other direction shows the firewood bin that we bought at the antique store between dogs. It made for a fun toy bin (I painted it) for about two seconds before Gertie and then Phoebe showed up. For now, it is housing a printer and a bunch of paper and other miscellaneous-crap-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-but-is-stored-nicely-in-that-chevron-bin.


This is my grandma’s one-thousand pound vanity. Some of the drawers are a colossal pain to open. I have moved this thing way way WAY too many times. Maybe M-Bear will want it someday. For the foreseeable future, though, it’s going to be in this corner of the porch, housing some cords in that lower left-hand drawer and some sandwich cutters in interesting shapes in the upper right (note to Kate: if you forget where those cut-outs are, you put them right there).

It’s not going to win me a show on HGTV, but I’m pretty psyched that the porch is cleaned out and the space is usable and the carpet is covered. Phew.


And now, about that boob light…


Ode to a light (in natural light)

I don’t think my previous post on our new Barn Light Electric schoolhouse light was doing it justice, so the light and I sat down for a photo shoot this morning with the bright November sun streaming through the windows. It still proved to be a bit of a challenge because (a) the space is small and (b) I’m not much of a photographer, but I think the results are better than the last go-round and I feel that I’ve done my part to show her in a better light. Ha.


What does this photo have to do with anything? Not much. In fact, it was taken before the photo shoot I referenced. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.


Ah, here she is. The beautiful Rudimentary Schoolhouse Flush Mount Light in the large size with a triple band in buttery yellow and a black base. It seems somewhat rude to call it rudimentary, but it is simple and classic so there you go.

Yeah, I think the red door is not a good match for the yellow, either, but that change is for another day.

As you may know, our old place was full of color all over the walls. In our new place, I’m experimenting with a neutral gray on the walls (totally unusual for me) and then playing with pops of color. Lots of pops. I’m also looking to expand into wallpaper. Watch out.

It’s not a very big foyer, and I need to figure out how to cute-i-fy it a little more, but this light is doing a lot of the heavy lifting and I’m really grateful.

November 2015

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