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 . . .



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!

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Stool Problems

Don’t worry–this post is not about Mini B’s dirty diapers (although it does seem that my life is currently full of little else).  Nope, this post is a call for help: design help.

See, we need stools in our kitchen.  Specifically, we need them here:

That counter overhang is a little over seven feet long, so I think three stools would be just about perfect.

Sorry for the wonky coloring in these pics–my white balance must have been way off.

Back to my stool problem (wait–that just sounds way wrong).  Anyways, I think it would be fun to add some color since most of the kitchen is white and gray, except for my new pop of yellow via the microwave cart (see more on that here) . . .

But part of me wonders if I should just stick to something neutral?  Anyways, I don’t want to spend a fortune (what else is new, right), so I think I’ve narrowed down my choices.  Why these?  Well, I definitely want something with a back and I want something sturdy (so four legs is a must–versus those stools that are just perched on a pedestal) and easy to keep clean.  Here are the options:

The limeade metal counter stools from Overstock for $179.99 for a set of two (online reviews say the actual color of these is chartreuse):

The red metal counter stools from Overstock for $163.99 for a set of two (online reviews say these are sort of an orangey-red in real life):

Those exact same stools also come in white for $195.99, black for $166.59, and silver (I can’t find the silver ones at the moment, but I know I’ve seen them).

There’s also this option, which seems to be the same color as above, but a different style (obviously).  These red leather stools are also on Overstock and cost $167.99 for two:

And as if that wasn’t enough, there are these blue beauties from CB2 for $139 each:

And of course now that I’m googling for counter stools, there are even more fun options coming up, like these Valencia leather stools for $248 each (probably a bit too high, but I don’t know–they are pretty rad):

Now do you see why no decision has been made?  I’m just too overwhelmed by the options.  And there’s yet another option–buy some cheap-o stools from craigslist and just spray paint them whatever color I want . . .

So clearly I’m incapable of making a decision, which is why, yes I’m going to say it again–I have stool problems.  And this is where you all come in–help me decide.  Leave me a comment with your opinion (and I’m talking to you my most faithful commenters and fellow design lovers: Doodles, Punks, Erin, Carrie, Nancy, Deenie; so don’t be shy.  Because I need stools!  Now.).

Oh, and not to complicate matters any more, but I’m also thinking of replacing all my dining room chairs–ever since I fell out of one when I was pregnant (arguably NOT my best moment) and since watching some kids try to climb in and out of them, I’ve decided they aren’t the safest.  Sooooo, think on that too.  Maybe something like this . . .

I kind of love how those chairs look with a rustic table . . .  

Photos are from the DIY Blog Cabin.

But I’m not sure how they’d go with our steel and glass beauty . . .

So think about that too.  Okay, have I given you enough to do?  Somehow I feel so much better now that I’ve put these decisions on to someone else.  Sigh.  Now back to my real stool problems (you fellow parents know which stools I’m talking about, don’t you?) . . .


Even though our lives have been pretty much consumed with diapers, burp cloths, and baby talk, that doesn’t mean that we’ve given up tweaking our house.  Nope–in between feedings and nap times, I’ve managed to make a few changes.  I figure now’s my chance seeing as how I’m home all day and pretty soon I’ll have to go back to work :( So what’s been the most recent change?  In case you can’t figure it out from the post title (in which case I’m seriously concerned about your skills of deduction), it’s related to a cart.

That’s right, I finally pulled the trigger and got a microwave cart for our kitchen.  See, in our kitchen reveal post, I didn’t reveal much about this side of the kitchen because, well, it looks like this:

I still have plans to redo the pantry doors on the right, and we still plan to replace the old intercom system with a new one (that’s the super old boxy-looking thing on the right wall), but for a while now I’ve wanted to change out the microwave stand.  That dresser there is from my childhood bedroom, and while I do have a special fondness for it, I just wasn’t crazy about it being in the kitchen.  Instead, I wanted something with some color and shelves so that I could display all my cookbooks (and, quite frankly, so they would be more readily accessible than tucked away in the pantry).  So out with the old . . .

and in with the new!

What do you think?  Colorful enough for ya’?  It’s actually one of those school computer carts (I bought it here for $115), so it’s super sturdy and strong.

And it even has the old school built-in power strip.

It came in a whole range of colors, but lately I’ve been full on digging yellow, and since we already have some yellow accents on the other side of the room, I thought it would be perfect . . .

It also ties in nicely with the curtains I made for the dining room and living room . . . (I was going to write a post about these, but let’s face it–some things are just never going to happen.)

I also love that it holds all my cookbooks and fits the microwave perfectly.  I couldn’t be happier with it . . . plus, I was able to put it together and load it up all during one of Mini B’s extra long naps.  Bonus!

So there it is, one quick change in our home that makes me smile every time I walk by.

What did Mini B think of the change?  She was absolutely thrilled!  I had her take a break from her daily yoga to tell you all about it . . .

Our New Kitchen!

It’s reveal time!  Hooray.  Hurrah.  Kazam.  Schlamiel.  Schlamozal.  Yep, just making up words as I go.   But let’s get to some photos, shall we?!

First, a reminder of where we started on move-in day:


And where we are today:

That last view is a big change from where it used to be, huh?

And I’m in love with our open shelving.  It’s so easy to grab things now, and with the removal of all those extra cabinets, the kitchen looks twice as big!

Can you believe this was where it started?  Ugh–and that soffit making the ceiling feel even lower that it already was (our ceilings are only 7-1/2 ft high, so every inch we can gain is HUGE).

But now it’s gone!!

Obviously we still need to change out the odd leafy light fixture, and down the road I plan on doing something with all the doors (maybe staining them dark?  Who knows . . . ), and a later project might be putting some built-ins on that far wall for coat and shoe storage, but at least things are open and airy now, right?

The only soffits left are above the upper cabinets that we decided to keep.

And did you SEE my new sink?!?!

Let me take you even closer, because–yes–it is that good.

It’s so glorious–wide and deep, and the faucet is awesome!  It has a great range of motion and a super powerful spray.

We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out (and the fact that it is finally finished, er, well, if you don’t count the fact that we need to put up new light fixtures to replace the weird leafy ones, buy bar stools, maybe put an area rug in front of the sink, hang some art work, and do one last coat of paint on some of the door trim, but let’s just pretend that’s all taken care of, shall we?).

And just for kicks, here’s what I hid from the shot on the other side of the room (didn’t want all that stuff cluttering up my after shots, now did I) . . . ha!

So there you have it, our kitchen renovation!

Next week I’ll do a quick run-down of where we got everything, paint colors, etc., but for now, I’m just enjoying the view . . .

Kitchen Decision #4: Hardware

Alright, so the post title makes it sound like there were only 4 decisions during the renovation of our kitchen (check out decisions #1, 2, and 3 here, here, and here), but obviously that wasn’t the case.  If it were, well then, it would likely have been the most boring “renovation” ever.  But nope–there were probably 736 decisions in total, but since I can’t photograph or document everything that goes on in my mind (because let’s be honest, how not awesome would that be for everyone reading this?), I’m limiting myself to 4.

And #4 is hardware–the reason that the final reveal photos have taken so long to come out.  And in the interest of brevity, let’s begin with option #1:

Some super contemporary handles and then standard knobs.  See, I had originally planned to use all handles, but I quickly decided against that (good thing we spent all that time filling the knob holes and sanding them down, huh?).  So the stainless knobs were at least an easy decision, but the handles are another story.

The knobs, btw, are the same ones we used in the half bath renovation:

So the original handles I picked out just seemed too Miami Vice to me.  Hard to explain, I guess, but with unadorned cabinet doors, and all white, those handles just screamed 80s (and not in a good, Goonies-meets-

Okay, quick sidenote–I just asked Mr. Bunches to name something cool from the 80s that I could pair with the Goonies and these were his first few answers:

  1. Full House
  2. The Olsen Twins
  3. John Stamos

Seriously?!  This is who I married?!  I love it.

Like I was saying, these handles were too 80s, and not in a good Goonies-meets-Full-House way :).

So then I decided that I liked the look of the half bath combo of cup pulls with the knobs . . .

But I thought those same cup pulls were too deep to work in the kitchen, so I ordered these from online.  And from afar, they looked okay.

Um yeah, that is until you got up close.

Seriously?! Why would they design them to not be flush with the front of the drawer?!  And no–this was not a case of installer error; this was how these bad boys were designed.  UGH.  (That’s the polite version of how I actually expressed my frustration once I installed these.)

In the end, I bought the same ones from the bathroom (they’re the Liberty 2-1/2 or 3″ dual mount cup pulls in satin nickel from Home Depot).  Why didn’t I just do that from the beginning?  Well, that’s a good question probably best answered by the pregnancy gods.  But at least now I’m happy with the final decision, and just for making it through this post, here’s a sneak peak of how they look in our completed kitchen:

So there you have it–from the 80s to today.  All in one post.  Phew.

Kitchen Renovation Weeks #4, 5, and 6

Yikes–writing that post title has made me realize just how long this project has really lasted.  So much for everything being said and done in 3 weeks, right?  Well, at least the contractors were done after 3 weeks (see more on what they did here).

And then we did hint at having our new floors installed once the first group of contractors was done (the floors were finished in only one day, and then our home was contractor-free finally).

And while the original plan had been to stop there (for now) and paint the cabinets after the baby arrived, Mr. Bunches and I decided to change our minds (mostly Mr. Bunches made this decision) and forge ahead painting the cabinets.  And so paint the cabinets we did. And did.  And did some more.

I’m not going to go through all the steps here, since there are plenty of great tutorials out there in blog land (one of the best here from YHL), but I’ll make a few points as we go since our process differed slightly.

First up, like I mentioned before, we removed the 1960s trim from the cabinet doors.  I just used a hammer and a putty knife to carefully take it all off.  Oh, and we also removed all the knobs.

We then filled any holes with wood putty; I used Elmer’s Wood Filler.

We then removed all the cabinet doors and drawers and laid them all out in the garage (I didn’t photograph any of those steps since they’re pretty self-explanatory).  Next up–sanding!  We sanded down the fronts and backs of all the doors and drawers with 100-grit sandpaper; we also sanded all the cabinet frames in the kitchen.

Once everything was sanded, Mr. Bunches scrubbed it all with a deglosser (we used Klean Strip Deglosser from Lowe’s–no real reason we chose this one except that it was the only one Lowe’s sold).

Once that had all dried, it was time to get our prime on.  And on.  And on some more.  We opted for Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer since it had worked so well on my sister’s kitchen.

And while we had hoped to only have to do one coat of primer, turns out our cabinet doors had something else in mind.  The wood grain kept bleeding through, particularly in the spots where we had removed the trim.  So on went coats #2 and #3, much to Mr. Bunches’ frustration.  And guess what?!  That still didn’t work.  So I finally knew we had to switch to oil-based primer (given my current knocked-up status, I was hoping to avoid all those crazy oil-based noxious fumes which was why we had waited so long to try this option; but don’t worry–all the oil-based priming was done by Mr. Bunches in the garage while I was safely inside.  Thanks Mr. B!).  So we used some leftover Kilz Original that I had on hand, and with one coat of that, all was covered.

Up next was the painting.  I took care of the inside cabinets while Mr. Bunches took domain over the doors and drawer fronts.  After two coats of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint (color matched to Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White), we were left with this:

Major improvement, right?  Oh, and I forgot to mention that we (meaning I) decided that we also needed to paint all the window and door trim.  Needless to say, Mr. Bunches LOVED that idea.

Isn’t it already such an improvement?

Since most of the painting took place over a couple weekends and weeknights, (and we had a little detour to the east coast during the process) it took a while before we were finally ready to put it all back together.  Plus, I wanted to make sure that everything had a chance to cure up well, so once we were done painting we waited three days before getting the doors and drawers back on.

And that’s where I’m going to leave things today, but I promise that before the end of the week I’ll share some actual reveal photos of the kitchen all put together.  Hooray!

Floor Heaven, a Preview

I wish I could say the kitchen is done and it’s time for the big reveal, but alas, no such luck.  Instead, here’s a teaser post for you of our new floors . . .

To put it mildly, we LOVE them.  As in, this is serious love.  I think if we both had to do our wedding again, these floors would be walking down the aisle with us.  They’re that good.

So that’s all you get for now.  We’re feverishly trying to finish painting the cabinets and get our life back in order . . . cuz let’s face it, this whole chaos-living-thing is getting old:

Next week we WILL finally reveal our new kitchen (either that or I will officially have gone insane and then I’ll be posting to you from a lovely padded cell).  Either way, should be a win-win. :)

Kitchen Renovation Week #3

Is it any surprise that the one-week renovation turned into a three-week job?  I guess you could say it was a bit of a surprise to Mr. Bunches and I–we knew not to hold our breaths for completion in a week, but we did (foolishly) think that two weeks was a real possibility.  In fact, we were anticipating arriving home this past Monday to a final reveal (akin to Extreme Makeover’s “MOVE THAT BUS!”), but that didn’t happen.  No sense whining about it, though, right?  Right.

While this week’s earlier post was how we left things looking as of last Thursday (when we headed out of town for a whirlwind east coast tour–more on that later), here’s how things were looking earlier this week . . .

Not too shabby, eh?  Walls have been painted, pendant lights have been hung, tile backsplash has been grouted, and the ceiling has been patched.  We’re loving the stainless steel shelves, and I have to give credit where credit is due: Mr. Bunches picked these out himself.  I wanted white wooden shelves, but that would have involved a bit more work on our parts.  So thank goodness for Mr. Bunches’ laziness, eh?  Er, I mean ingenuity honey :).

And how great do the pendant lights look?  Keep in mind that all will be better once the trim and cabinets are painted white . . .

And how about our gorgeous faucet?  We love it!  (All the excruciating details of that decision are posted here.)

The laundry room also got a new coat of paint, along with a new laundry sink and faucet.  With the removal of the lower cabinets, and the trimming of the upper cabinet, we were able to push the washer/dryer back another 8 inches.  Now, that may not seem like much to you, but to me, well, it’s a little bit of laundry heaven.  Especially since I’ve grown about 8 inches out front these days . . .

And the half bath also saw progress–the new penny tile floor and cove base was put in and grouted . . .

and the faucet, sink, and placeholders for the pendants were in.  Plus, all had been freshened with a bright white coat of paint . . .

So what’s next?  Well, the big project left is kitchen flooring, and that may or may not be happening today (fingers crossed).  Also, Mr. Bunches has decided that we should forge ahead and just paint the cabinets now instead of waiting for the bambino to arrive.  So I’ve already chiseled off the trim from the kitchen cabinets, filled the knob holes with wood putty, and Mr. B has begun the process of sanding everything down.  Here’s where the cabinets stand now (you can also see that the trim has been removed in the pictures of the kitchen above):

If all goes well this weekend, we’ll be wrapping this kitchen project up with a bow!  Hallelujah.

Oh, and some of you loyal readers may be wondering what happened to our sexy range hood (c’mon–I know that’s what you were thinking).  Well, to make a long story short, let’s just say it didn’t work out:

Sorry for the crappy phone pic, but I was a bit distraught at the time.  See, the problem was that hood was only 24″ above our cooktop, which meant that it came to my chin.  Not cool.  Especially since I love to cook.  And it was also just a lot bigger than we had thought–we took down all those upper cabinets to open up the kitchen, and now it felt closed off again.  So we made the difficult decision–no range hood.  And now we’re trying to sell it on craigslist–so if you know of anyone in need of an island range hood, please let us know!

Progress: Countertops, Sinks, and Tiles, Oh My!

Just after I posted the last update, sure enough the contractors showed up and actually banged out some pretty serious progress.  Guess that’ll show me, huh?

And in the interest of brevity, here are the pics:

Notice anything new . . . ?

That’s right!  The countertops arrived and have been installed, and they are BEAUTIFUL.  If you remember from this post, we went with Silestone quartz countertops, color Niebla, from Home Depot.

Home Depot had pretty comparable pricing to Lowe’s Allen & Roth countertops (Allen & Roth is the Lowe’s brand), but the turnaround time was going to be faster with HD, so we went that route.  And, as a bonus, we had a 10% off coupon for Lowe’s, which HD happily honored for us.  Which meant the original cost of the countertops, $3,156, was knocked down to only $2,840!  Yay for coupons, eh?  The final price per square foot, installed, was only ~$60.  And since quartz countertops are considered a capital improvement, we paid no tax for them (granite is the same, but Corian and other solid surface options are taxable)!

We love the new bar overhang, and once we paint the cabinets, we’re sure those brackets will be just about invisible.

You also can see our new subway tile backsplash in these shots–doesn’t it look great?  It still needs grout (we opted for white), but we love it.

And the new sink is in!!!  It’s huge, deep, and exactly what we wanted.

You may remember the agonizing sink decision from here.

There have also been some other kitchen updates–we had 4 6″ can lights installed.  You can see two of them in this shot . . .

That big light in the middle is actually a sun tube.  And while it may not be the most aesthetically-pleasing light in the world, we do love that it gives the kitchen a ton of natural light during the day.  With four new can lights, and two pendant lights going over the sink, I’ll finally have the bright kitchen I’ve always wanted (there’s nothing quite like cooking in the dark to make you uber-frustrated).

There was also progress made in the half bath . . .

That’s right–the new countertop was installed in there as well.  It’s Donna Sandra granite.  Looks a little brown/peach in that picture, but trust me–it’s basically all different colors of gray.

And the vessel sink is just on there for placement now.  Once the walls and cabinetry’s painted, it will look much improved, I promise.

The last update is the laundry room:

Not much has changed in there except for the walls being spackled.

In the interests of full disclosure, these pictures were all from last week.  A lot has happened since–more tile, paint, a range hood conundrum, faucets, sinks, etc.  I’ll try and get another post up soon so you can see where we really stand at the moment.  But, until then, what do you think?  Do you love the new countertops?

Contractor Slow Down

Why is that contractors can’t stay on schedule?  Or even work a full 8-hour day?  It’s seriously messing with my mind.  I feel like I need to start my own contracting firm–just by working a full day and knowing how to use the phone, I would kill it in that business.  Un-frickin-believable.

Anyways, that’s my little rant.  I’m trying to keep calm so as not to rile up Mini B in my belly . . . not sure how well I’m doing though.

But, for those that are curious, some progress has at least been made.  First up, the half bath:

As you can see, they completed the removal of the ugly light box and then patched the drywall.  Not entirely sure why there’s only one electrical cord hanging down as the plan is to put two pendant lights in there, but hopefully that will get resolved.

And now, the kitchen:

They’ve finished patching all the walls and putting new drywall up.  And they’ve also removed the chair rail from one half of the kitchen, and the cove base from the floor . . .

Looking good, right?  Not quite as much progress as I had hoped for, but I’m just trying to stay calm.  Today they’ll rip out the old counter tops and the sink and get everything ready for the new counter tops.  And since I knew today would finally be the day that introduced a bunch of dirt and dust into our lower cabinets, I decided to empty them last night.  Which further makes the family room look like a bomb went off:

Oh, and I haven’t done an update post on it yet, but obviously from that picture you can tell that stripes won out in this battle.

One other area that the contractors have been working on is the laundry room.  Here’s a quick before shot:

Our plan was to have them remove the lower cabinets–we didn’t use them, and the laundry sink had been leaking ever since we moved in.  We wanted them removed so that the stacked washer/dryer could get pushed back to the wall.  See how they’re sticking out in these shots:

And now, the lowers have been removed, and the room looks like such:

Kind of scary, huh?  We’ll have a new laundry tub installed, and once the new flooring is added throughout and the walls patched, it’ll look so much more open.  Can’t wait.

So there you have it, our renovation update.

Check out the pile of supplies waiting to go in . . . sinks, tiles, paint, lights.  Awesomeness.

And in case you were wondering how much snow we got with that big nor’easter they were forecasting, well, let’s just say that I still think the best job ever would be as a meteorologist–I mean, what other job out there exists where you can always be wrong?!

There’s just a bit of snow on the lawn, and that’s about it.  Otherwise, we got just a ton of rain.  No complaints here though :)


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