Step It Up

I haven’t blogged in about 10 million years.  Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  So here’s a quickie–a little update I did that took two naps to complete, so about 4 hours for a regular person (that’s just for the vinyl sticker application; the rest of the steps were slowly completed over the past three years).  First, where we started when we bought the house:

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And where we are today, after stripping the carpet, painting the doors and trim, painting the stairwell and upstairs landing, and adding some chevron-tastic details:

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Big difference, huh?  The chevrons aren’t painted on (I don’t have that kind of patience or time these days, and I also didn’t want something that would take a lot of effort to remove if I didn’t like it); instead, they’re vinyl stickers from here.  Yep, Pot & Kettle Studios made them custom to fit my risers, and they were super easy to install.  And when I’m sick of them, they’ll be super easy to peel off.

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Here’s a shot of them in black from their etsy shop:

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So there you have it–proof that we’re still alive and still making some changes around here . . .

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UPDATED: 2013 Goals

So I made the bold move to put my 2013 goals in writing, so now it’s time to face the music.  This could be really depressing, but let’s dive in . . .

  • Paint the fireplace.   STILL NOT DONE.  I need courage folks–tell me to do it.  Tell me it will look amazing.  I’ve been trying to muster my courage by scouring Pinterest for similar makeovers, but I haven’t found anything.  However, I did determine that it’s a lannon stone fireplace, which led me to this beautiful image (from here):

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So what do you think?  Any suggestions to somehow handle this beast?

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  • Hang new lights in the kitchen.  DONE.  You can just barely see the new ceiling light in the reflection below.

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  • Create better organization in our entryway.  DONE and detailed here and here.  Update: this has still been working out pretty great, especially with the cart as a catch-all.

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  • Hang artwork/pictures.  Partly done, but still a long way off.

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  • Get a vintage sideboard for the dining room.  NOT DONE, and I’ve changed my mind slightly.  I need a piece that’s less than 12″ deep so that it doesn’t crowd that side of our dining room table, so I’m thinking of having something custom made.  Need to get on that already.
  • Get new dining room chairs.  DONE.  Mini Bunches is a big fan, and so are we.  These aren’t as tip-prone as our old ones.  

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  • Style the family room built-ins.  DONE.  SORT OF.  I THINK.  MAYBE.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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  • Paint the master bathroom.  DONE. No pictures yet, but once I get some new lights, then I’ll share.  
  • Get window treatments for the master bath, guest bath, guest room, and Mr. B’s office.  Three out of four ain’t bad, right?
  • Finish painting all the trim in the house.  NOT DONE.  I don’t know if this will ever be done.  There’s just. so. much. trim.  But I made some progress.  So that’s something right.  Plus, I decided to paint all the doors in the house, and I’ve gotten through about 60% of them.  Now to just knock out the remaining 40%.  And then change all the hinges and doorknobs.  Oy vey.  Eventually, each door will look like this:

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  • Unpack our remaining boxes in the basement.  NOT DONE.  But progress has been made.  Once we have a garage sale this spring, I think we’ll be in better shape.
  • Paint our master bedroom.  NOT DONE.
  • Paint the upstairs hallway.  NOT DONE.
  • Paint the guest room.  Partially DONE.  I forgot to paint under the desk, and I’ve also decided that I need to paint the soffit.
  • Paint Mr. B’s office.   NOT DONE.
  • Paint the guest bath.  NOT DONE, but I did get all the trim painted in there, so that’s something, right? 
  • Take more pictures.  Especially ones with a little twist.  And get them edited/posted in a somewhat timely basis.  We all knew this was going to be a fail, right?  I had less than 15 posts in 2013.  But I had so much fun with Mini B, that I’m going to forgive myself.

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Well, the report card’s in, and I’m going to score it a C+.  And I’m going to refrain from doing a 2014 goals post I think, especially since there are so many 2013 goals that still need to be completed.  So I shall carry on, and maybe my 2013 goals will be finished sometime in this decade.  Fingers crossed!

Pack it up Pachysandra!

Remember when our house looked like this?

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And then how it looked like this:

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Well, while all that sunken concrete and overgrown Pachysandra may do it for some of you, it didn’t really hit the mark for us.  So we finally hired us some landscapers and got our curb appeal on!

It was amazing how much they accomplished in only three days (we had a different contractor replace the limestone steps and take out the iron scrollwork a few weeks earlier–since that post is pressure-treated wood, we were told it has to stay uncovered for a season, but then we plan to paint it or vinyl wrap it) . . .

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And to really see the difference, here are some side-by-side comparisons:

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Of course, now that it’s been a few weeks and our grass has grown back in, things are really looking better.  I wanted a lot of color, and next spring we should be able to see it (we’ve got hydrangeas, lilies, peonies, dogwood, cherry trees, etc. so there should be lots of blooms).  It’s not perfect, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

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Mini B gives it her stamp of approval.  What do you think?

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Entryway Solution? Maybe

Our entryway has been a bit of a mess ever since we moved in (the one from the garage to the kitchen; the main entrance doesn’t really get used, but this one gets lots of traffic).  So much so that I don’t even have any decent pictures of it.  You can catch a glimpse of it here:

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And then here’s a phone shot from a few weeks ago when we finally hung a mirror.

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The problem is that the piece of furniture we had there (an old server) just did nothing for us storage-wise.  And it also wasn’t really my style.  So I had been on the hunt for a solution, but wasn’t exactly sure what would work.  And with a growing Mini Bunches, I’m also not positive that whatever solution we find now will be something lasting for the future.  Which brings me to my point: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Or time.  Especially if it’s something we might outgrow in a few years.  Enter thrift stores–the cheap solution to almost everything.

And so two weekends ago, when Mr. B was away for his annual Idiot Nation trip to Vegas, I hit up my favorite thrift store.  You know, the one where I found this blue beauty (I’m still regretting not scooping her up when I had the chance, but I digress) . . .

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Unlike my last visit to this particular Salvation Army, this time around it was slim pickings.  But just when I was about to leave, I spotted this:

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Admittedly, not much to look at, but I liked the mid-century lines, the size was right, and it was solidly built of wood (except for the yucky laminate top, but I dealt with that during my last furniture refinishing adventure, so no big deal there).  And the price?  Just right.  Actually, better than just right–just $15 kind of right.  SOLD.

Once I got it home and wrangled it in the house (it’s super heavy so some wrangling it did take), I got to work.  Since I only had nights and nap times to work my magic, I wasn’t planning an extensive refinishing; rather, I was just going to follow the steps John and Sherry took on their TV stand overhaul and hope for the best.  So here’s what it looked like once I got it home and completed the first step: CLEANING.

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I scrubbed the piece down with a Magic Eraser just like YHL did.  And I also wiped down the drawers with a vinegar-soaked rag.  My results?  Well, as you can see above and below, the Magic Eraser removed the finish in quite a few places.

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Again, since I only paid $15, I wasn’t too upset about that, but if you’re trying to fix a piece that you really care about, then maybe test out the Magic Eraser in an inconspicuous spot first to be safe.  But it did remove a lot of grime, so it wasn’t all bad.  As for the vinegar wipe-down of the drawers, that totally worked–it completely removed all the musty old smell.  So we were 1 for 2 at this point.

Up next?  A little conditioning treatment.  Using these (again, just like YHL):

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I first used the Howard Restor-A-Finish to wipe down everything.  It definitely brought some shine back and made the dried-out wood come back to life a bit.

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Much better, right?  It didn’t completely fix all the spots where the Magic Eraser had, er, erased, but it helped a lot.  I then used some leftover Minwax wood stain in walnut to rub in the really light spots, and when even that didn’t fix things, I used a Mr. Sketch Scented Marker in Brown.  That, my friends, worked WONDERS.  I just scribbled it on, and then wiped it away.  It was just about perfect at evening out any light patches.  So once all of that was done it wasn’t looking so bad . . .

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My last step was to give it a good ol’ rub down with some wax–the Howard Feed-n-Wax.  And just like Mr. Miyagi says: wax on, wax off.  That step took less than 30 minutes, and this thrift store find was complete!

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In addition to the desk, we also added a coat rack (from Crate & Barrel here) and a basket for shoes.

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I’ve also ordered a steel truck from Steele Canvas to put on the left-hand side of the desk.  That way we can just drop our bags into it and hopefully keep the area looking reasonably pulled together.

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So there you have it.  Our second attempt at wrangling some type of order in our entry way.  Here’s hoping it works!

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And a little bonus Mini Bunches just for making it all the way through this post . . .

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Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May you especially appreciate all your loved ones today . . . for my part, I am sure this will be the best Valentine’s Day yet.  So thank you Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches for being my sweetest Valentines.

Oh, and this Hallmark Holiday was just the right excuse to change out the chalkboard pantry.  So we are no longer Cherishing the Season . . .

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And instead appreciating all the love surrounding us . . .

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Of course, that didn’t seem quite good enough.  It needed something more personal . . . PICTURES!!

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Aaahhh, much better.  Now, Love is in the Air!

Cher is on the Sea

Huh?  Just look . . .

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Clear?  Okay, okay, I don’t actually know where Cher is (probably Vegas?), but it was either that or “Her son is on the sea” and that didn’t sound as catchy.  Still confused?  Well, don’t be–it’s just that I finally finished a home project that I’ve been wanting to do since we were in the midst of our kitchen renovation.  Of course, I didn’t get to finish it then because, well, I had a baby.  I know–weak excuse.  So through the magic of the Internet, let’s go back to the beginning . . .

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I know it’s hard to focus on just one atrocious part of the above pic, but let’s try–focus on the pantry doors in the hallway.  They become even more off-putting once the rest of the kitchen gets a face lift.

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See what I mean?  They were just awful.  The first step?  Painting the trim white and priming the doors as dark as possible.

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Already so much better, right?  Mr. Bunches was all, ‘Oh, we’re going to paint them grey?  That’s awesome–they look great.’  And then I had to be all, ‘No–that’s just the primer.  Puh-leeze.’  But, it did make me think that maybe we should paint the rest of the doors in our house–possibly in some darker shade of grey?  Just sayin’.

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The next step?  Chalkboard Paint!  We used Valspar Chalkboard Paint from Lowe’s.

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They look pretty slick, right?  Of course, they need new handles, but I was under a bit of a time crunch (this all took place prior to the holidays), so I figured the new handles could wait.

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And while you may think that they were ready to be all chalked up with some fun holiday greeting, well, you would be wrong.  See, first they had to be “conditioned” which basically means you have to cover the entire surface with chalk and then erase it.

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And in case you were wondering, yes, this process is messy and DUSTY with a capital D-U-S-T-Y.

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Once the conditioning was done (and the dust vacuumed), then it was time get my artsy on.

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Once I finished chalking the doors up with season’s greetings, I thought they still could use a little more cheer.  So I decided to move my Instagram pics out of Instagram and onto my doors:

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I left the bottom blank since we were expecting some wee visitors at the time and I figured they might like to get their own artsy on (they did).  All in all, I’m in love with the result and I can’t wait for Mini B to make masterpieces on those doors as she gets older.  But for now, we’re just cherishing the season :).

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2013 Goals

That’s right–I’m putting my home goals for 2013 in writing.  Will this make them happen?  I sure hope so.  Because apparently me sitting on the couch thinking about them hasn’t done much to put them into action, so let’s try something different, shall we?  Yes.  We shall.

  • Paint the fireplace.  I hate the fireplace.  I know some of you like it in all its stone, wood, and brass glory.  But I hate it.  Everyday.  I’m literally staring at it right now as I type this and it makes me cringe.
  • Hang new lights in the kitchen.  They’ve already been purchased (months ago) and I’m pretty sure it would take less than 15 minutes to hang them, but I just need to get on it already.
  • Create better organization in our entryway.  Not sure yet what to do here, but something must be done.  Hooks?  Cubbies?  Storage bench?  Hmm . . . 
  • Hang artwork/pictures.  With the exception of Mini B’s nursery, there is not a single piece of artwork hung in our house.  And for the most part, it’s all still in bubble wrap in our basement.  Need to get that stuff out of the basement and up on the walls.
  • Get a vintage sideboard for the dining room.
  • Get new dining room chairs.
  • Style the family room built-ins.  They currently look awful.  I’d post a picture, but I’m too embarrassed.
  • Paint the master bathroom.
  • Get window treatments for the master bath, guest bath, guest room, and Mr. B’s office.  That’s a lot of window treatments.  Yikes.
  • Finish painting all the trim in the house.  The holidays got me close on this goal, but I’m still not quite done.  For one thing, I still need to caulk all the trim before doing the final coat of paint.  Sigh.
  • Unpack our remaining boxes in the basement.  We’ve been here a year and a half and yes–we still have a LOT of unpacked boxes in the basement.  Mr. B would argue that means we can just get rid of everything in the basement, but I’m not sure I totally agree.  I do agree that a lot of it can probably go, though, so maybe 2013 will be the year of me selling our stuff on eBay and making donations of the rest.  Regardless, my goal is to unpack one box a week.  That seems doable, right?
  • Paint our master bedroom.
  • Paint the upstairs hallway.
  • Paint the guest room.
  • Paint Mr. B’s office. 
  • Paint the guest bath.  Seriously?!  So much painting–maybe some of these will have to get done in 2014 . . . 
  • Take more pictures.  Especially ones with a little twist.  And get them edited/posted in a somewhat timely basis.  Good luck, right?

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Of course, everything on the to-do list is secondary to our number one goal in 2013: enjoy every dang minute of Mini Bunches!  But maybe while she’s napping . . .

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