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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Kitchen Decision #3: Faucet

First, the inspiration (all images from Pinterest):

That’s right folks–I’ve been sold on those commercial-style faucets for years, and now I had my opportunity to have one in my own home.  Joy oh joy!  Sometimes it’s the little things, right? 

So then I had to decide which one to get.  I won’t go through the nauseating process that I did for the sink (from here), but needless to say, I did do some research.  And I’m not gonna’ lie–price played a pretty big part in my final decision.  Who knew that faucets could range from $100 to $2,000?  Yikes.  Anyways, here were the finalists:

The Premier 120334 Essen for ~$220 . . .

The Danze D455158ss for ~$280 . . .

And the Kraus KPF-1602 for ~$260:

Now, I wanted the faucet to be in a stainless finish (as opposed to chrome), so that bumped up the price on some of them.  Awesome.  So how did I decide which one?  Well, it wasn’t just price.  Nope, I basically made my decision based mostly on measurements, reviews, and availability (see, the countertop fabricators want you to have the new fixtures on site at the time they measure, so that put me into a bit of a time crunch).  Basically, I ruled out the Kraus faucet because it was 28″ tall–that was just way too tall for our kitchen.

So then it was between the Premier and the Danze, which had similar measurements except for how close the bottom of the faucet was to the sink–the Danze was 2″ lower.  Which initially might sound like a bad thing, but these faucets are not pull out faucets, but rather are pull down faucets, so the vertical reach isn’t great.  And that meant I figured I should get one that’s closer already to the sink to compensate for the lack of maneuverability, and so the winner is . . .

The Danze!  Yay!  And because I’m cost-conscious insane, I made a little spreadsheet of my price-shopping to make sure I was getting the best deal:

I know, I’m nuts.  You can say it.  I’ve accepted it.  In the end, I ordered from Faucet.com since Danzetogo.com and Homecenter.com couldn’t guarantee that it was in stock and would ship quickly.  But, the good news is that I got the faucet in less than 5 days and it’s amazing!  I can’t wait until it’s all installed and set up (still about 1-2 months out, so don’t hold your breath).

Any thoughts on my insanity?  Do you like the choice?  Are you just as excited to see the final product as we are?!  Probably not.

UPDATED: Blue Velvet

Remember this beauty from a couple weeks ago (see original post here):

Well, Mr. Bunches and I headed back to Batavia last weekend to get ol’ Blue Velvet and she was GONE!  Oh sad, sad day.  I’m trying to move on, but I think it’ll take some time.  Bear with me.

Lesson learned here: trust your gut and buy it on site.

Kitchen Decision #2: Sinks

To dry or to drip-dry–that is the question I was faced with when deciding what sink to get for our new-to-us kitchen.  You see, we were replacing this gargantuan:

A double stainless-steel sink that is 43″ wide and 16″ long!  Trust me, that is huge in the world of sinks.  So why are we replacing it?  Well, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s not very deep (the left side is only 7″ deep and the right is only 4″);
  2. It’s a drop-in sink, and with the new counter tops coming (more on those here), I want an undermount sink for that seamless look;
  3. We don’t actually use two sinks–the large one on the right basically has turned into a drying rack for us, and we’ve never actually used it as a sink; and
  4. The garbage disposal (which is broken anyways) is on the right sink, which is a further aggravation since it would be much more appreciated on the left sink.
So with all that being said, we decided to ditch the sink.  And so the search began for a new sink.  Now, we definitely liked not having a drying rack on the counter, so I initially thought I wanted a sink with a built-in drainboard.  Turns out these are really popular in Europe, but kind of hard to find (for a reasonable price anyways) here in the States.  However, I did manage to find a few that I liked:
Beautiful, right?  That’s the Whitehaus WHNCM4019 for ~$580-$1,200 (quick sidenote: you have to do research when shopping online–I found this sink for $1,200 here but I also found the same exact sink for ~$580 here).  It’s gorgeous and all, but it’s also a drop-in, so luckily for Mr. B, I crossed it off my list (I’m pretty sure the price would have been a no go anyways).
 
Then, there was the Blanco Precision 16″ undermount sink (model 516215).  Again, gorgeous.  But at ~$1,400 from Amazon, well, you’ve just got to be kidding.  I mean, maybe when we win the lottery and build our dream home?  I won’t hold my breath.
On the cheaper end of things, that’s the Boholmen sink from Ikea at ~$150.  Ikea actually had a few options (seen here), but all were drop-in sinks.  So I pretty quickly ruled those out.

And the last one I could find was the Oliveri 882-U sold at Amazon for ~$700.  This one was at least an undermount, but I wasn’t digging the curves.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m kind of into the more streamlined, modern look of things.

So my quest for an integrated drainboard seemed to have failed.  BUT, then I saw this inspiration image from here:

And hallelujah!  Problem solved, right?  We’ll just get our counter top fabricators to carve in a drainboard.  Wrong.  Apparently none of the 6+ countertop places I went to have ever seen or done anything like that.  I love western NY and all, but come on!  Open a design mag once in a while, right?  Oh well.  In the end, I decided we could probably just get something like this to hang on our sink:

Yep, a stainless steel drain basket for less than $20 (from here).  Nothing like going the cheap, practical route when the high-end stuff fails ya’, huh?  And, that meant that we could get an even bigger sink to work with since we wouldn’t have to worry about the footprint including a drainboard–you see, I want a gargantuan sink.  I want our baby to bathe in it, I want our monster pots and pans to fit in it, and I want it to be a statement piece.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my quest, but maybe just some pictures (all of them are linked to more details on each):

Oh, but before we get to the pictures–one more thing.  I wanted an offset drain to one side–that way, when we have the rack in, it’s not covering up the drain.  And, from all my research, it sounds like a large, single sink with an offset corner drain was just the best overall choice.  Again, maybe not best for everyone, but best for us, and well–this blog is about us, not everyone.

That last one was definitely my favorite btw.  Of course, the $900 price tag wasn’t thrilling me.

In the end, we decided on the Blanco Super Single Bowl Kitchen Sink in Metallic Grey:

Why this one?  Well, allow me a few words:

  1. It can be mounted either as a drop-in or as an undermount (obviously we’re going to mount it as an undermount);
  2. It’s made from a granite composite, and all of the reviews were great–it doesn’t scratch, wears well, and doesn’t have that tinny sound that stainless can sometimes have when you drop stuff in it;
  3. The drain was offset to the right corner;
  4. The sink was BIG–30.5″ x 16″ with a depth of 9.5″ (which would really be over 10″ since it was going to be undermounted); and
  5. The price was right–while most of the other sinks were $500+, I found this Blanco online for only $389.35 (from faucetdirect.com).  Of course, I didn’t stop there.  I also used eBates and Retailmenot.com (more on those sites here) to save an additional $26.87, so my sink only ended up costing me $362.48!  Not bad considering that the local Lowe’s was charging $500+ for the exact same sink!

And guess what–it just arrived and it’s beautiful!

Okay, so it has some Styrofoam all over it, but other than that it looks amazing.  And just to give you some scale of how big it is–here it is with a regular carry-on suitcase inside of it:

And with room to spare!!!  Oh happy day.  And even with being that big, it’s still going to take up a smaller footprint than our old sink, but boy oh boy is it going to be so much more functional!  Can you tell I’m excited?!?!

So what do you think?  Do you like the direction we’re going?  Or totally hate it?  Up next–faucets!  I know, you’re riveted I’m sure.

Dinner for Eight

Remember that craigslist dining table I showed you last week?  Well, I went to take a look at it, get some measurements, and then evaluate whether it would fit in our dining room:

And what better use for all those glossy ads from the Sunday paper, right?  I laid them out to represent the size of the table (69″ square) to check whether the table would be too overwhelming for the space.  See, I kind of fell in love with it when I went to go see it.  And it didn’t hurt that it was a super bargain–the owner had it custom made for $2,250 (the glass alone cost over $750), so with an option to buy it plus eight chairs for only $500, I was pretty much sold.  And after making sure there was plenty of room in the dining room, I was officially sold.

See-there’s plenty of room, right?  So once I decided to buy it, then I had to figure out how to get it to our house.  The owner said it needed at least three people to move it.  Luckily, me and the Mr. made two (remember how I told you I was good at math?), so we only had to ask impose upon one friend.  Score.  Long story short: Friend acquired.  UHaul rented.  Table and chairs purchased.  Want to see how they look?!

Totally amazing, right?!?!  I love it!  Granted, Mr. B wasn’t super thrilled when he saw it.  In his words, this was the “most awkward” piece of furniture to move.  “EVER.”  But we did it.  And it’s fan-tas-tic!

And even though it’s so much bigger in person than some ads laid out on the floor, there’s still plenty of room on each side for people to maneuver and for chairs to slide in and out . . .

See what I mean?

Plus, there’s finally something to balance out our monstrosity of a couch.

(Oh, and that dresser in the dining room will be getting moved soon to one of the bedrooms–you may remember it from here.  And the previous dining table placeholder will soon be sold on craigslist, so that’ll be out of the room as well.)

And how about those chairs, huh?  We actually ended up with 9–4 black and 5 white.  The extra white one has found a home at one of the upstairs built-in desks, but the rest look pretty great at the table, right?  Mr. B did an awesome job cleaning them up and they almost look brand new.  The black ones are a bit nicer since they’re real leather while the white ones are pleather, but unless you get all up in their business, you really can’t tell.  So just don’t be getting all up in our chairs business, ‘kay?  Seriously, I have no idea why I just went gangsta’.  I apologize.

And the table is great–in all its raw steel and soldered goodness . . .

There you have it–one more room furnished.  Only six more to go.  Yikes.

What do you think?  Did we make a good decision?  Do you love it?  Or hate it?  I’d imagine it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but hey–if it were, that would be kind of boring, don’t ya’ think?  Now we just need to plan a dinner party for eight . . .

Online Shopping Deals

With the move into our new house looming just around the corner, the Mr. and I have been readying ourselves with some Internet comparison shopping.  See, we already know that there’s going to be a lot to buy . . . yard tools, paint, a new kitchen, toilets, furniture, and all the random stuff that you don’t know you need until you move in.  And since we tend to over-research every buying decision possible, we thought we’d pass on some useful links that have helped us save money so far (and hopefully a lot more in the future) and might help you as well.  Of course, this is definitely not complete, so if you know of any more, please post a comment with your suggestions.

Our newest favorite is eBates, where you get cash back for purchases you make online.  The percentage of cash back varies by store, but we recently used it for some purchases at NewEgg and we got a check in the mail for $15!  Not bad, huh?  All you do is log in to eBates as a starting point, then search for the store that you want to shop at, click through to that store and shop away.  Oh, and you can still use coupon codes at your destination store–how’s that for a double whammy?!

Speaking of coupon codes, our favorite site for those is RetailMeNot.com.  Just enter the store in the search box and find all the coupon codes currently available (and whether or not they work).  We always check this site before every single online purchase and usually  get lucky and find at least one code that helps with our purchase.  Generally, we just write down the coupon code (to input later at checkout) instead of clicking through to it; that way, we can click through to the site from eBates and make use of both the cash back rebate as well as the coupon code.  How you like that?!

If you’re shopping for tech gadgets (such as computers, cameras, etc.), we recommend checking out TechBargains.com.  Consumer Reports recommends the site as an initial stop when shopping for high ticket items, and we recently found it to be a great resource when we bought our new laptop.  It basically lists “hot” deals every day from a bunch of different shopping sites, so it’s a good starting point in what can be a pretty overwhelming Internet shopping world, particularly for big ticket items.

Okay, so hopefully somebody finds this useful . . . and just think of what you can spend all that saved money on?  Maybe a house-warming gift for the Bunches?!  Aww–that’s so nice of you to think of us ;).

Goodwill Hunting

Another great thing about moving to small town America (aka Brockport) from Boston is that there are still great finds to be had in the local Goodwill (unlike Boston where it’s so picked over).  Now, many of you may choose to never set foot in a Goodwill store–whether it’s the odd smell that is uniform to all such stores (a certain mix of old people stink, dust, and a too-weak cleaning product of some kind), or it’s that the idea of buying someone else’s discarded stuff is just gross–but sometimes, and more often in smaller towns, there are some great things just waiting to be discovered (albeit usually underneath a bunch of really tacky tchotkes).  Oh, and you can also leave there with a double feel-good whammy: you probably scored a bargain AND you helped people in need.  So no, this is not a post about a great Bean Town movie–sorry.

Instead, it’s about our Goodwill hunting trip.  This weekend we not only checked out our local Goodwill in Brockport, but we also stopped at the area Volunteers of America store.  Both were quite the pleasant surprise.  Why the hunt this past weekend?  Well, I needed a white leather belt, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I thought those would be good places to try.  Why did I need a white belt?  Because I had an old-lady 80s party to go to?  Unfortunately, no.  I needed a white belt so I could make handles for a dresser I’m refinishing.  Duh.  More on that later this week, though.  So did I find a white leather belt?  You betcha I did (with some help from the Mr.):

White Belt

Oh, and bonus: anything in Goodwill with a blue tag was 50% off!  So that stylish belt only cost me $2.50.  I know you’re jealous.   And maybe confused since the belt isn’t actually white?  No worries–you just have to flip it over.  Genious, aren’t I?  Of course, we didn’t leave with just the belt–how could we?  This was a pretty new Goodwill–very spacious and with only a hint of that special scent.  So we poked around, and then I found this:

Totally rad, right?  It needs a lamp shade, and I’m a bit undecided on whether to leave it as is or paint it, but either way, I’m digging it.  And since it has a mid-century modern vibe happening, it should fit right into our 1962 house.  Plus–the price was right–only $8.99, so I just couldn’t pass it up.  The Mr. even thought that the tag was blue, but apparently it was teal–so no dice on an extra 50% off.

What do you think?  Should I paint it?  Or just polish it up and leave it as is?  Any suggestions for what type of shade?  I was thinking a simple white drum shade–maybe one that’s a bit long and slender vs. fat and wide (that’s what she said).  Thoughts?  Here’s an attempt at what it would look like painted white:

So what do you think?

Next, we headed to Volunteers of America to see what else we could discover (I think at this point even the Mr. had caught the thrifting bug).  Well, our luck continued.  I found this glass dome and teak cutting board set for only $2.99:

It reminded me of this one from Crate & Barrel (for $29.95):

Not bad that I paid only 10% of what the Crate & Barrel one cost, right?  Mine originally came with a metal plate with Goodwood inscribed on it, but I took that piece off and threw it away since it’s not really my style . . .

. . . but then I did some Google searches to see if I could find out how much similar items were worth.  Turns out a lot more than the $2.99 I spent.  Check out this one on Etsy for $35:

And I found similar ones on eBay for up to $90!  So, of course, I then dug the Goodwood metal plate out of the trash, washed it off, and put it back in the dome.  Who knows if I’ll keep it, or maybe start my own vintage store on Etsy to sell this and all the other great Western New York finds . . . there was even another one of these at VOA that I passed on (the Mr. doesn’t like me to accumulate too much “garbage” as he likes to call it), so maybe I’ll go back and snag that one to sell online?  What do you think–have I found my new calling?

Anyways, after our luck at the VOA and Goodwill, I thought we should take a look at a local antiques super store, The Carriage Place.  I’ve driven by signs for it every day on my commute, and so what better time to take a look than over a long weekend, right?  It was actually pretty cool–it’s a large warehouse that has divided space for different vendors to rent and stock as they see fit . . . kind of like Leaping Lotus out in Solana Beach, CA except with a focus on antiques instead of art and home decor (btw–next time you’re in Southern California, definitely spend some time browsing around Solana Beach–you won’t be disappointed).  The Mr. and I enjoyed poking around and checking out some interesting items . . .

. . . old hardcover books to line your shelves and make visitors think you like to read . . .

. . . vintage tins, baking supplies, and cooking tools that would look charming in a country kitchen . . .

. . . wood boxes that would be perfect for a casual centerpiece if filled with flowers or maybe grass (Carrie–they were only $5 each, so let me know if you want me to go back and get them for you) . . .

. . . JOANNE–check out the old Cod Liver Oil bottle!!!  How great is that?! (Joanne is the one that’s behind the Mr. and I taking our daily dose of CLO, so of course I thought of her immediately when I saw this.)

Cod Liver Oil bottle

CLO Dosage Instructions

. . . the Mr. enjoyed some of the vintage comics . . .

. . . while I got a kick out of these old-school postcards that folded out accordion-style . . .

Postcard Portfolio

Postcard pics

Aren’t those great?  They had ones for just about everywhere–I loved the vintage fonts and pictures.  We decided to buy one from Lake Placid since that was one of our first vacation spots together, and one of the Mr.’s favoritest places in the whole wide world.  Awww . . . aren’t we just too cute?

My other favorite piece was this rocking chair, but at $150, and in desperate need of some reupholstering, I just couldn’t justify it . . .

Rocking chair

So that completes our first Goodwill hunting trip, but based on our successes, you can bet there will be more!

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