Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Renovation Resolution #3

To help gain some sanity during this renovation, I have come up with a few sane renovation resolutions to help me manage the anxiety, the unknown, the mess and the stress that comes with having your home upended.

I've already revealed some of my rules for a sane renovation here and also here.   This resolution is inspired from a line from my most favorite book of all time Little Women which I have referenced before in my series Creating Home.

I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen. ― Louisa May AlcottLittle Women

This beautiful little thought inspired the resolution to:

Unlock the door

I find this quote is a reminder to me that even though one may hold the key to something - possession doesn't grant gratitude, and ownership doesn't mean security.  You must take the extra step, you must unlock the door to appreciate what you have, no matter in what state it appears.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Bedroom Reveal!

Big moves this past week in the renovation for the guest bedroom!  This is the scary, Frankenstein photo of how it used to be. Yes, that's a DROPPED ceiling. If I turnnnn back timmmmeeee (yeah, I just quoted Cher), I would have a cometojesus with people who loved dropped ceilings and wood paneled walls. It is never ok.

Then we removed the wood paneled walls, dropped ceiling, light fixture, door frame and floors. Revealing THIS:

Even after these huge changes, we decided there wasn't enough light. We decided to replace the old door and window with a sliding glass door and feature window. Here's a close-up of the old door:

U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi
And here's a close-up of the new door:

The top horizontal section is actually a completely separate component but it looks like one piece. Good job designing, Yankee:

And here's the light filtering through during a beautiful sunset. Sigh, I'm in love!

Monday, July 29, 2013

And on the 8th day, She Said Let There Be Light

And she saw that it was good.

And with that, I'm off to tell you about some of the little lighting touches we've done around the house.

1: Dimmer switches in all the rooms. I wayyyy underestimated the amount of fun these would be. They're really great if you want to exit on a dramatic point, or make a visual womp womp when you turn them down realllyyyy slowly and make a sad face. And they provide mood and task lighting for normal people.

2: LED light in the hallway.  LED lighting uses way less electricity then normal bulbs and it wayyyyyy cheaper to use over the course of the year. But so helpmejesus if someone leaves the light when they leave the room. But good to know they're better anyway.

3. This fun light for a section of the ceiling that I've nicknamed The Cathedral. I call it that because it is a high angular section that follows the pitch of the roof at the front of the house. We're going to install it so it highlights all the weird angles and hopefully will provide enough light for dining (to be determined).

4: Added a skylight
5: Added some cool recessed lighting around the skylight:

6: Under cabinet lighting. I had originally requested this, and my head just about spun around when I saw this was skipped during the design plan. Sohelpmejesus I will have me some under cabinet lighting. More on that when it gets installed, but for right now, here's what the piece looks like from IKEA in someone else's kitchen:

What do you think?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Feline Fridays

Today's Feline Friday is a very special post. You get to see kitty girl live and in person. Here's a video of her playing fetch with her mousies. Enjoy!

What have you got going on this weekend?  I am finally getting around to painting the kitchen backsplash and having a glass of well-deserved white wine. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Becoming The Jetsons....

Big news for The Outhouse this week!

We have installed the pipes for the body sprayers and the showerhead!  As you can see, some weird pipes are now there and there are two valves for the body sprayers. The control panel thingy is where the electric brains of this operation lives.

Looking into the right side of the shower

Looking into the left side of the shower
And here's what the body sprayers look like. They tilt just slightly so hopefully they'll hit the right angles but we'll see!  When I talked to the plumber, he said there's no standard setting for these things, its just personal preference on placement which blows my mind. Seriously?! I am still very nervous that this is going to be somehow painful.

And here's the shower head for up above:

Ideally, everything operates like it should, we should be basically living like the Jetsons minus the flying car and by the way, its 2013, where's my flying car? Everything is operated from this thingy so all you do is press a button to shower.  Then you press a button to switch from the front sprayers to the back sprayers and set your temperature digitally. Whaaaaaaaaaa?
Meet George Jetson...

Here's a pic I found on the Internets of the sprayers in action. They don't look painful.
You don't look so scary

And look how happy this gal looks
Soooooooo we'll see. We'll need some tile on the walls before those sprayers go on, but at the least the pipes are in place and we are one more step to being done.

What do you think of this design?  And does anyone remember when the Jetsons met the Flinstones?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

News-y find of the day

Renderings have been revealed for a 73-unit rental building verrry close to our new place.

It isn't our neighborhood proper, but its within walking distance.  You can read more over at the Brownstoner blog.

I love renderings. I want to be the person who decides how many little people to show on the rooftop.

Creating Home

This post is part of a series called Creating Home in which I share musings about the process of creating a home, not just renovating a house.

This passage is from my very favorite book in the whole wide world, Little Women.  This passage describes the home of the eldest daughter, Meg, after she is married and moves in with her man. I kept the first part of the description because I love it so much, but the second paragraph is what I strive for:

It was a tiny house, with a little garden behind and a lawn about as big as a pocket handkerchief in the front. Here Meg meant to have a fountain, shrubbery, and a profusion of lovely flowers, though just at present the fountain was represented by a weather-beaten urn, very like a dilapidated slopbowl, the shrubbery consisted of several young larches, undecided whether to live or die, and the profusion of flowers was merely hinted by regiments of sticks to show where seeds were planted. But inside, it was altogether charming, and the happy bride saw no fault from garret to cellar. To be sure, the hall was so narrow it was fortunate that they had no piano, for one never could have been got in whole, the dining room was so small that six people were a tight fit, and the kitchen stairs seemed built for the express purpose of precipitating both servants and china pell-mell into the coalbin.

 But once get used to these slight blemishes and nothing could be more complete, for good sense and good taste had presided over the furnishing, and the result was highly satisfactory. There were no marble-topped tables, long mirrors, or lace curtains in the little parlor, but simple furniture, plenty of books, a fine picture or two, a stand of flowers in the bay window, and, scattered all about, the pretty gifts which came from friendly hands and were the fairer for the loving messages they brought.

  If there is ever words to decorate by, these are it! Take that, Architectural Digest.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oh Ohhhhhh Sometimes I Get a Good Ceiling

Yeah, its a tough job to think of ways to combine song titles with renovations but somebody's gotta do it.

One of the scariest moments of this whole project was when we thought it was a good idea to remove the ceiling.  As you can see in the pic below, the ceiling was standard-height and curved which which was a cute design element of yesteryear:
Arrow shows the ceiling line where it curves in
Since we really wanted a large open concept layout, we had the ceiling completely removed to reveal 4 more glorious feet hiding underneath!

As you can tell, the exposed beams don't provide insulation, so that was added:

And then the new ceiling was built!

To the right, you can see the skylight!  Remember my post about how the skylight came about?  There it is all framed and ready to be installed!

Here's a shot where you can see how much space was added by opening that ceiling up!  Is that a new window you see there too?  Maybe you'll find out more about that in a later post!

What do you think of the framing? And who's going to clean this place up?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sane Renovation Resolution #2

To help gain some sanity during this renovation, I have come up with a few sane renovation resolutions to help me manage the anxiety, the unknown, the mess and the stress that comes with having your home upended.

I will reveal some of my rules for sanity to share over the next few weeks!

In the last post, I revealed my Sane Renovation Resolution #1:

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the done

Today, I have another resolution to share that is related to #1.  Don't think that I'm all loosey goosey about making important decisions and not attached to the outcome.  In fact, I'm super neurotic!  The desire to research and have a plan is the inspiration behind San Renovation Resolution #2:

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Thanks boy scouts.

We found it really necessary to surround ourselves with a great team of people who could help guide us in deciding which changes to make now and which changes to make later down the road (I'm lookin' at you, laundry room).  We are always referring to floorplans and electrical plans to make decisions and we research reviews our kitchen cabinets and appliances.  Planning and adjusting the plan where necessary has been a great exercise in flexibility and creativity. The internet helps too!  :) 

What about you?  How do you think people did anything without the internet?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Feline Fridays!

I can't believe it's already that time again!
Heidi Klum had better watch out because that girl is a model.

As you can see, she's sporting her harness because I've been working with her on leash training. Its taken a long time, but now she loves going outside to insniffigate and I love her being safe enough to do so.

Have a great weekend to all my cat lady friends out there, and hope everyone's home projects go well!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Not this type of layout
Here's the layout of the floorplan which I hope will help you follow some of the changes we've made to the space. And it will help when I talk about The Outhouse you can kinda visualize what I'm talking about. So here goes:

As you can see, we made a few changes right away. As you can see, I owe you some details on the stuff in green - new windows and a sliding glass door were both added.  To be continued!

We knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the living room. We'll be moving the dining room to where the area is marked "Cathedral" ceiling that we created. More on that to come.

We replaced the tub in the bathroom affectionately referred to as The Outhouse with a stand-up shower. And you can't tell this totally by the layout, but there is a set of stairs that lead downstairs to the laundry area and craft cabinet.

And here is the layout to the downstairs (Garden level)

We did not change anything to the layout here since we don't plan to live primarily in this space. I took the liberty of drawing in the green squiggles to represent all the crazy weeds. Hope you appreciate that touch.

Hope that clarifies things and looking forward to sharing more!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Renovation Mini-Reveal

Here's a side-by-side shot of the before and after mini-reveal of the kitchen! I can't wait to do an official, for-real, big to-do grown up before & after. Until then, here's this!

I can't wait to see what the end of July will bring! We're halfway there.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Creating Home

This post is part of a series called Creating Home in which I share musings about the process of creating a home, not just renovating a house.

This edition of Creating Home comes from a great book I'm reading, Team of Rivals, the basis of which was adapted to the amazing movie Lincoln.  I didn't expect any particular home inspiration from this book and was reading it for fun, but I came across the most amazing passage.  A journalist wrote the following after a visits Abraham and Mary Lincoln's home in Springfield (after Lincoln had received the Republican nomination for President):

"Everything tended to represent the home of a man who has battled hard with the fortunes of life, and whose hard experience had taught him to enjoy whatever of success belongs to him, rather in solid substance than in showy display."

In the age of pinning instead of doing, that description provides a happy ideal for which I can try to strive: try living in the messy stuff of solid substance rather than showy display. I love it.

Mary and Abe's home in Springfield

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sane Renovation Resolution #1

Now that I am going through it, I can truly see how stressful renovations are. To help gain some sanity, I have come up with a few sane renovation resolutions to help me manage the anxiety, the unknown, the mess and the stress that comes with having your home upended.  To me, no matter where I've lived (2 dorms, 4 apartments, 15 roommates), I have always tried to make that place as comfortable and home-y as possible so I could have a place to rest, rejuvenate, and truly be myself.  Having a major renovation has been really stressful because it makes you constantly adapt to new and different circumstances and the unexpected.  Plus its dirty, expensive and gross.

The following is just one of my rules for sanity which I will share over the next few weeks!

Sane Renovation Resolution #1:
Don't Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the DONE

Sane Renovation Resolution #1 is: Don't Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the DONE.  I adapted this from Voltaire's famous quote: The perfect is the enemy of the good.  Sometimes decisions just have to be made, right or wrong, and I find that's it worse to hem and haw about things because it only postpones the decision.  Do some research and make the best educated guess, and move on.  That's what I learned during my recent cabinet re-do but also through a million other decisions that have had to be made during the process.  As we say in the South:


What about you? Are you a hem and hawer?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Feline Fridays

One of the good things about moving is that there are plenty of box houses.

Happy Friday everyone!  What have you got going on this weekend?  Busy weekend over here planned!  Going to pick up an outdoor kitchen table, get an estimate on the backyard, get an estimate on having a tree removed, paint the bathroom, sand down a sticky door and of course drink white wine!

Stay cool during your home projects, everyone!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Living Room Demolition

The house was built in 1938.  According to our lovely neighbors (seriously, we hit the neighbor lottery. LOVE THEM), we live in the model home that was first used to sell all of the other units. Cool stuff!  Back in the day, all the rage was to section off your living room from your kitchen:

So we were like all: Tear down this wall!  And they did.

So now we have no middle divider wall, floors, or ceiling to create a completely open concept layout. The demolition was the scariest part of the renovation. One day, everything was there, the next, everything was in the middle of the living room as I thought: OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!  Even when my Mom saw it, she uttered some expletives.  But slowly it has been cleaned up.  

I'll be getting up close and personal on these bare walls, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Things He Insists On: Skylight

Continuing on yesterday's theme, there were a few things during the renovation that I insisted upon. One of mine was the garbage disposal.  Of course, the Yankee has preferences too.  After we saw how great the skylight worked out in the bathroom, he insisted on having one in the kitchen too.

So, as you can see, the ceiling has been completely removed and insulation has just started to be put up.  They used this red cart thingy to reach the ceiling:

This is the square cut into the ceiling:

I am really excited to see the glass installed soon so we can see through the roof!  I am really glad he came up with this idea. I will update once the glass is installed!

Do you have any skylights? Any pros and cons for us?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Things I Insist On: Garbage Disposal

During the renovation, there have been very few things that I absolutely must have and will fight tooth and nail for. For the most part, to keep our collective sanity, we don't insist on anything unless we are 110% sure it's something that we absolutely must have. As part of my sane renovation resolutions, I try to compromise wherever possible.

One of the things on my Must Have in Life list is this beauty:
Waste King 8000.  He's pretty much covered for Christmas
Feast your eyes, Yankees. That's a garbage disposal!  Garbage disposals were outlawed in NYC until 1997 but are now all the rage.

And what would possibly make this better?  A push-button controller! This puppy mounts to the inside of the sink, so you just push a button to start it.
Be still my heart

Do you have any gadgets or ideas that you insisted upon during your renovation?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Outhouse: Shower

Big moves on The Outhouse guys. Framing: we has it!  That means that walls will be going up!
Last post I introduced the upstairs bathroom known as The Outhouse.  We were originally going to put a freestanding tub in place of the current shower, and knock out a closet that is currently located behind the vanity to create a shower.  Then we decided we would live like rebels and only install a shower! CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE HOW CrAzY we are getting!?!??!

Rebels without a cause only have a shower

Because we are saving the cost of the tub, we are creating a shower bench:

And a rainfall shower head and body massagers!  The Yankee originally wanted this ridiculousness:

But I told him that's too:

So we're doing a regular waterfall showerhead.  The most exciting thing we're doing is...


I just have to share the box because the marketing is so incredibly ridiculous
The marketing scheme is "Like a walk on the beach"
Apparently with heated floors, you can only install them at certain times of a renovation because they take an involved installation so its basically now or never.  

Its really coming along now!  What do you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Outhouse

The upstairs bathroom is now affectionately referred to as The Outhouse.
This is the original bathroom (pre-Outhouse). It has yellow tile, a pink tub (which unfortunately I can't find a pic of!) and dropped ceilings. Seriously, let's go back in time and ask people why they thought dropped ceilings were ever a good idea.

Then came the demolition!

The cool thing about this bathroom is the vintage-y large skylight in the middle of the room!

There was a plastic panel covering the skylight, and when it was removed, it was so nice and bright!
The Outhouse in all its glory
We loved the skylight so much, it inspired another project in the living room to be revealed!

Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about the shower that will go in the Outhouse! One day it won't be an Outhouse and will be a real bathroom.

Keepin  it real. All for you.