Archive for the 'home improvements' Category

Why did this take me so long?! The bathroom edition

Our master bathroom is short on storage and long on annoyances. For example, the heated tile floors that seemed like a real selling point have never worked. Not once. And to make up for the lack of storage, some sharp tack installed the vanity so that its drawers can’t be opened more than halfway before running into the room’s door frame. And there was no medicine cabinet – just a mirror – because why add storage when you don’t need to. I mean, the house has a closet somewhere.

Anyway, one thing the room did have was a couple of those nice looking “floating” shelves and they were hung above the toilet. But as soon as we tried to use them, we discovered that they weren’t hung well and wouldn’t really hold anything up. You know, which isn’t that cool if that’s what you’re interested in having a shelf do. So AO took them down and that’s when things made sense. The shelves weren’t there to hold things, but to cover up what may have been the scene of a murder. Someone had done a lot of damage to that wall; there were holes everywhere. But a lot of patching and sanding and painting later (all by AO), we had a clean, storage-less wall. Now what? We didn’t want to spend a lot of money because the dream was that we’d someday expand the room (and maybe get those floors to warm up) so after a trip to Ikea to solve all of our other problems, we came up with this beauty.

Um, I know it’s not bad bad, but some on, Kate. That is not ideal from a cleaning perspective and you can just tell by how it’s arranged that I gave up even pretending it could look nice. Still, at $60 I thought we could deal with it and I hoped the bamboo-look would give us a spa vibe. {Spoiler alert: it did not.}

But lately AO and I have been on kinda a tear about all-things-wrong-with-our-house and this one was on my list. I also thought it might be contributing to my hostility to showering. So, for the greater good of those around me during this humid summer, I was determined to fix it and by “fix it,” I mean I was determined to order something for AO to install. But preferably not without me messing it up at least once so that he could get sufficiently annoyed with me before saving the day. It’s just not fun otherwise. And guess what?! Missions accomplished! I found some seriously marked-down shelves from Pottery Barn, ordered them, tried to install them myself, put a nasty hole in the wall and it was almost like we were right back to where we started two years ago! Only now I’m in my 40s with epilepsy! #goodtimes Anyway, AO rescued the operation (swoon!) and I think we can all agree we have a cleaner (if still imperfect) looking bathroom.

Kicking off the season!

Projects projects projects! And more … PROJECTS! This weekend we just went for it …

We swapped out a broken fixture in the dining room for this beauty.


I’m struggling with a decent pic because the rest of the room was messy, but here you go. It’s brass and it kinda unites the milky white and brass one in the adjacent front room. It also LIGHTENS (as in weight-wise) the room immensely. I hadn’t realized until recently just how oppressive our other fixture had been. I don’t want to speak ill of dead-to-me like fixtures but Oy. It’s pretty, I guess, but didn’t work well in our small space. Or, you know, any space that gets dust. Or that is near a kitchen that is used.


Upstairs, I rearranged some pictures (moving some from the dining room – stay tuned for my Etsy finds!, which is what I’m going to replace them with) to make the bedroom make more sense. Pardon the reflection of the bed and the bedside sconces.

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And finally finished painting a cabinet we bought from an antique store two years ago. Yikes. Of course, there’s no before picture, but imagine it a very dark, very rough wood and you’ve got it.


And then perhaps the real piece de resistance, at least as far as I’m concerned, is some more self-adhesive wallpaper, which really has to be one of the greatest non-medical inventions of all time. I had bought this for our hallway but, as I was about to install it, I realized that the sizing was going to cause me some headaches. I’d already exchanged lots of emails with the company – Swag Paper – over the custom sizing I needed and I thought I had it all figured out. My plan was to put the paper up to cover a hallway wall from side-to-side and then AO and I were going to add board and batten underneath. But. The wallpaper was looking much longer than I’d expected. Or, honestly, our walls were shorter than I always remember them to be. So. I stared for awhile, realizing that any decent board and batten would be cutting off the map. I had known that some cutting into the map was going to happen, but once I saw in person how beautiful it was and when I realized just how much I’d be losing, I decided we should scrap the board and batten, move the map and install a basic chair rail in our already too-narrow as-it-is hall. Pretend all that info made sense. Or don’t and just look what I did!


It’s a 1909 map of DC in 4 panels that overlap each other. It’s also slightly uneven because I’m not so great at patience (up half an inch on the right side) and our floors and walls and whole house is wonky. I. Love. It.

AO also sawed and measured and sawed and nailed and created two THREE new garden boxes. And made me delicious pancakes. And let me watch lots of Lifetime movies. It was a great weekend.

And what’s up next weekend?! More projects!

Papering tables

Remember when the GAOOG did her guest post and the world went bananas for it? Well, I wanted in on that action. And what better opportunity for me to jump into the world of self-adhesive wallpaper than Chasing Paper‘s recent cutting room floor sale? I can think of none. So last week – fueled on by a cute email offering me free shipping – I sprung for a piece and it arrived days later at our door. I had no idea where I was going to put it, but since when does that stop me from pulling out my pocketbook? Unfortunately, pretty much never. Why does this paragraph have so many rhetorical questions? No clue.

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Anyway, as you can see, the print is way cute. The flowers were much bigger than I had thought they’d be but this is neither a good nor a bad thing. It’s just an observation. After walking around the house for a bit, I settled on papering these Ikea bedside tables of ours.

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You can’t really tell from this picture, but the finish on the tops are not great (especially on mine given that on most nights, I can be found with three to four different beverages on the night stand) and could tolerate a new look. So, after measuring them, I cut the paper significantly too big. So then I trimmed it. And trimmed it again. And again. And then stuck it in place.

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Using my debit card (not an old credit card because I do not have expired cards lying around), I tried to smooth out the bubbles, but it didn’t really work all that well. I’m darn happy with the overall result, though.

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For $20, I got a 2′ by 4′ piece of this beautiful paper (that is super thick and almost fabric-like, by the way), which was more than enough to cover two tables. I have some paper left over (and would have had more manageable pieces if I hadn’t been such a dunderhead about mis-measuring in the first place) and might try it on a couple of other things. I now really want to get cracking on wallpapering our powder room.

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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:

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Not pretty.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And now, about that boob light…

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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.

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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.

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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.