Saturday, December 29, 2012

A "New" Floor and a Fun Discovery!

Tonight we ripped up the ugly blue wall-to-wall carpeting in the Twilight Room. Yuck. Good riddance! Blue is one of my favorite colors, but this rug had to be one of the most obnoxious things in the world! Especially when combined with the maroon, pink, and black that was on the walls when we bought it. Ick.

Our original plan for the room was to rip up the blue carpet and have someone come in and install new wall-to-wall carpeting, in a much more neutral color... off-white or a light tan or something. A couple years ago, R peeled up the carpet in the closet and discovered (sadly) that there was plywood underneath. It's a little strange that this is the one room in the house with wall-to-wall carpet, but we've found evidence that part of the room used to be a bathroom, so we assumed that the original floor must have been damaged by water or something.

Tonight we went through a wide range of emotions. When R started ripping up the carpet, he discovered that underneath 3/4 of the room was 2" wide maple flooring. It is in dire need of refinishing, but hey, it's better than carpeting! It'll look so much nicer than carpeting, in that it will somewhat match the rest of the house.
This new discovery was exciting for oh, about 5 minutes, until R got to the door and the 2" flooring ended and plywood began. The 2" flooring ran the whole length of the room except for 18" in front of the door. Still trying to be optimistic, we decided we'd just buy new 2" flooring, weave it in there and stain it all to match. Problem solved. Until we kept going and the plywood went all in front of the closet and into the closet and all along the back wall, about 3' into the room. Ugh. There was too much plywood for it to make sense to take it all up and install new 2" flooring. So we're back to let's just leave it and get new wall-to-wall carpeting.
While R was rolling up the carpet, I realized that the plywood/2" flooring was still about 3/4" taller than the floor in my office. So the plywood was on top of something that was level with the original flooring in the rest of the upstairs. So out came the crowbars. Underneath the plywood was flooring that matched and lined up with the flooring in my office. We got so excited! Who wants 2" flooring when the original wide board flooring is underneath!?! We kept going, tearing up a couple strips of the 2" flooring, to make sure the wide board flooring kept going. It did. That's also when we discovered this:
Between the 2" flooring and the original flooring are old newspapers from December 1942! So far we've found The New Britain Herald and The Hartford Courant. Some parts of the papers are really fragile and thin, and since we didn't know they were there, they got ripped. We're planning on being really careful in the rest of the room so we can keep it all.

There was also a hole in the floor, which we're planning on patching using some flooring from the attic. It's about the same size as the patched hole in the Guest Room floor, which we've guessed used to be a vent that brought heat into the Guest Room from the Dining Room after the GR fireplace was removed. Since the Twilight Room doesn't have a fireplace, we're assuming that there was another vent in here to bring heat into the room.

Another weird coincidence.... we were discussing the blue carpeting while R was tearing it up. When we moved in and I vacuumed it, it reacted like a brand new carpet would. I commented that it was like it had never been vacuumed before... like it had just been put in. When we were tearing it up tonight, I told R to be on the lookout for a sticker with an install date on it. My guess was 2008. Turns out I was right. Not only was it 2008, but creepily, it was March 6, 2008. Our baby's due date is March 6, 2013, exactly 5 years later. Creepy :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Emptying out the Twilight Room

The Twilight Room is soon to be renamed "?'s Room". We decided to keep the Guest Room as a guest room and turn the back bedroom into the baby's room. When I painted the room almost two years ago, I painted it a light yellow. Yellow's my favorite color, but I also figured it would be perfect for this room because it's the smallest of the bedrooms and I intended it to the a future baby's room, and yellow goes with either a boy or a girl. It's a little bit of a stress reliever now to not have to worry about choosing a paint color and painting a whole room! Especially this room which was such a pain in the butt!!
In the fall I started slowly emptying the room. I hate piles and stuff just thrown places, so I wanted to relocate everything slowly, finding a place for each thing, not just piling it all in another room. I moved Madison's chair, my bookcase full of sewing supplies and some other small things into the Guest Room. I had to rearrange all of the furniture in order to do this, but I actually prefer how the room looks now. It looks so much bigger now that it has all of this extra furniture/stuff in it! All of R's books for work got moved into my office, along with a bookcase, and a neighbor of my parents' gave us this desk, which I put in the Dining Room and filled with all of the office supplies which had taken over the Twilight Room's closet. R's computer got moved into the Guest Room, but it won't be there for long because he's planning on getting a laptop soon.

It's crazy how much stuff ended up in this room that we hardly ever used!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Fence

When we were house hunting we always said our first house project would be to install a fence for our dog Madison. Here we are, 1 1/2 years after buying the house, and we are finally putting in that fence! The fence delay has really been for many reasons. One, our yard is huge, so fencing it in is very costly. A solution to that would be to not fence in the whole yard, but we both felt like that would be stupid. We want to enjoy our whole yard, not only a small part of it. We've decided to fence in the whole backyard plus half of the woods behind our house. Another reason is that I really really don't like fences! Especially privacy fences. Especially when they go on for long stretches. And our fence will be all of those things. But we need the fence to keep Madison in, so she can run around, which is one of her favorite things to do. We also need the privacy in our backyard. Our house is pushed off to the corner of our property, so we have a huge side yard, which gives absolutely no privacy at all in our backyard. My solution is this fence:
Picture from

It's 6' tall, but the top 18" or so is open, with a colonial picket. I feel like this will help break up the huge big white wall going all along our property. I'm planning on doing a lot of landscaping in front (and behind) the fence, so it will essentially be blocked by bushes, trees, and flowers most of the time.

To cut back on costs, we're planning on installing the white fence on only two sides of our property.. along the front and one side. The back and other side are woods, so you won't even see the fence, and we already have complete privacy, so we're just going to install black chain link fencing.

We had someone come last week and measure the yard, so hopefully Madison will be enjoying her new fenced in yard soon.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Under-cabinet Lighting

We had an electrician come in before we renovated the kitchen, to update some of the wiring and add some additional outlets. We also had him wire for future under-cabinet lighting. For the past year and a half we have had wires hanging down underneath our cabinets because I was having a hard time finding slimline hardwired under-cabinet lighting. Last night I finally found some.

After all of my searches online and in stores, I finally decided on the UtiliTech Pro LED Direct-wire Under-cabinet Lighting, which I found at Lowe's. We bought a light for each cabinet... two 30", two 12", and a 24". When we got home, we realized that we had used common sense, and assumed that a 30" (or 12" or 24") under-cabinet light would be for a 30" cabinet. But the 30" was the actual dimension of the light, so it was about 2" too wide for the cabinet. We ended up having to use the 24" on the 30", 18" on the 24", etc. The only problem was that they didn't sell a size smaller than 12", but we'll need a 9" one for the cabinets on either side of the stove. We'll deal with that later I guess.
We had a wicked busy day today, but R installed the light above the dishwasher. It looks awesome. We have been turning it on every time we walk in the kitchen! It's so nice to have the extra light on the countertop!

We're planning on buying a dimmer switch for the under-cabinet lights. I'm not sure why I didn't have the electrician install one right from the start. I can't wait until our next party.. it'll be so nice to have some nice mood lighting in the kitchen :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

First Floor Bathroom Plans

Our downstairs bathroom qualifies as one of the most unpleasant rooms in the house. I will go upstairs to use the bathroom, even if I am in the living room right next to the downstairs bathroom.

This room has resulted in a lot of discussion, confusion, ideas, and changes. If you asked me a year ago what we were doing with this bathroom, I would have said we're cutting it in half.. half will be part of the pantry and the other half will be a half bathroom. We'd get rid of the tub and shower (hey, they are ugly and don't work anyways!) because we had plans to expand the bathroom upstairs and add another upstairs bathroom. But all of that will be in the future. A year later, we're now at the point where we're thinking it might be a good idea to not only have a bathtub but also have the option of a second shower.

It is a known fact that I hate the layout of this bathroom. It is awkward. It's a large room, but everything is squished in one corner, leaving more than half of the room unused. It has a massive closet that is about 1/4 the size of the room. More wasted space.. there are a lot of pipes in here and it's too deep to be of any use.

Now we're at the point where we just need to do something in this room. R is really set on keeping the tub. He also mentioned maybe keeping everything where it is and just updating the plumbing and light fixtures and repairing the walls. I let that sit for a couple days. Finally, I realized that maybe he had a good point. Someday, I plan on relocating the downstairs bathroom to the other side of the house. Where the garage and mudroom will be. So why spend the time and money now relocating the plumbing in this room? And why spend the time and money putting in new walls? What use will a small room be once I relocate the bathroom?

The answer came to me while looking at some plans I did for a house we lost before we found this house. It was the same style with a similar layout. In that house, the room where our bathroom is was a bedroom, but when I saw it I immediately said it would be my library. So I got to thinking. By the time we put on the big addition and relocate the bathroom we will hopefully have one or two kids, and that means that at least Ryan's office will be gone. Wouldn't it be nice to have a room off the Living Room where we could have a computer and desk set up plus lots of bookcases? Yes. Yes it would. So if we do that, why make the room smaller now and then expand it in the future. That would require changing the layout of my pantry, which I will hopefully have by then. It just all of a sudden seemed pointless to me.
So I spent a couple hours and came up with this layout. I love it! Now whenever I walk by the bathroom I stop for a minute and imagine the new plan in my head. Love love love!
Tub: We'll remove the tile surround, but the actual tub is in good shape. It's just a nasty color. We plan on getting a Bathfitter cover for it. The new tile surround will be white subway tile with a square blue glass tile accent strip. We'll also get a new shower head and faucet. The existing shower head doesn't work (diverter is broken).

Toilet: New toilet, but in basically the exact same spot as the existing toilet. I think we will need to put in some extra support in the basement. The floor beneath the current toilet is sloping.. perhaps partly due to the weight of the toilet, some holes in the floor for previous plumbing and maybe some water damage.
Closet: The new closet is still deeper than your average 24" closet (it's about 36" deep), but it is positioned so that the window is centered on that wall and all of the plumbing going to the second floor bathroom will be concealed inside the closet. The inside will be all shelves, for towels and extra supplies.

Radiator and Window: Don't move at all. We'll just give them a new coat of paint.
Vanity and Tall Cabinet: I love the look of furniture in the bathroom. Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware make some vanities that are made to look like a piece of furniture, not just cabinetry. I've seen a lot of pictures of refurbished dressers being used as vanities. This is something I might consider. Otherwise, it will be something we'll build ourselves, with a granite or marble countertop and under-mount sink. The tall cabinet next to the toilet will have the toilet paper holder attached to it, plus lots of open shelving for baskets and other knick-knacks. It will be made by us.. either to match the vanity we built, or built to match a piece of furniture we buy and re-purpose.

Walls: The walls will be tall (5') beadboard with a shelf on the top. The shelf will only be about 3 or 4" wide, but deep enough to display small things. I love the look of this. It's the one thing that has never changed in my vision for this room. I'm thinking a blueish green for the walls.

Floor: The existing wood floor will stay. It is currently painted and I don't think we'd be able to remove the paint without destroying the floor, so most likely we will be repainting it, despite my dislike for painted wood floors. A large rug will go in the center of the room.

By relocating the sink, we are pulling that side of the room together with the tub/toilet area. Now it is just a big empty space, but by having the center of the room be large and empty, it'll help make the room seem smaller.. more to scale with a bathroom.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Living Room Cabinet

We have two amazing corner cabinets in our house. One in the Living Room and one in the Dining Room. Before R's birthday party in November, I cleaned off the Dining Room cabinet and put some dishes on the shelves, so that I could get rid of some boxes and set up a table in there. It's not finished or acceptable in my terms, but it's better than nothing! At least it got rid of boxes!

The cabinet in the Living Room has basically been ignored since we moved in though. The paint is peeling really bad on the back (curved back) and I shudder to think about the super big project of removing all of that paint. Ugh. I don't even want to think about it!! The shelves were basically empty, with a couple random things thrown on there from time to time (papers, boxes, etc.). It didn't look nice. When I was removing paint this weekend, I had to clean out the little corner between the end table and corner cabinet. Once I start cleaning something I go crazy. I found two boxes shoved in the corner. One of them was filled with picture frames that I had forgotten we even had! I needed somewhere to put them. I decided to clean off the shelves and put the pictures up. It's not done, but it will at least make the room look lived in a little. I ended up putting some books on the bottom shelf and realized that it helped cover up the horrible looking peeling paint on the curved back. I need to find more books (never thought I'd say that!!) to fill the top shelf as well. It's the only shelf I don't like how it came out.
Nothing fancy, just better than what was there. And it really helps make the room feel more lived in and less of a 3/4 finished room. We're slowly getting there.. As soon as I finish removing the paint from the windows and paint them we're getting a rug and possibly some new couches. And curtains. And hanging stuff on the wall.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Goodbye Paint!

Our Living Room is still 3/4 done. There's just that little 25% of the room left keeping me from officially finishing the room. That 25% is the reason there's nothing on the shelves. No rug. No curtains. Nothing on the walls.

Well, I've had enough. I want a rug. I want curtains. I want a pretty Living Room that I'm not embarrassed by.

First things first, lead paint needs to be removed. I went to Home Depot to buy another gallon of Peel-Away, only to be told that they don't sell it anymore. Thought I was going to break down and cry in the middle of Home Depot. Some quick research on my phone brought me to a Sherwin Williams store. They had my Peel-Away. For twice as much as I had paid at Home Depot. Ouch. But, I needed it. I swore to myself that I'd be more careful and not waste any this time.

As I'm reading the directions, I see that "1 gallon is enough to remove the paint on approximately one side of one average sized door". Uh.. I have three windows, three doors and one large corner cabinet. This is going to get expensive. And fast! But. It's cheaper than $32,000 to have a contractor do it.

It appears that Peel-Away has improved a bit in the last year and half since I bought my first gallon. The cover is child/tamper proof and literally took me a half hour to open. You need 4 hands to open it. No easy task when you're home alone. After rigging something with string, tape and a nail, I got the cover off. I remembered from the never-ending project that is the Living Room fireplace, that the more PA you put on, the easier the paint comes off (it's a trade off.. you're using more PA, so you're going through the gallon faster, but it removes better...), so I glopped on the stuff and put the paper on. I had also grabbed a roll of duct tape, so I taped the edges to the wall so that it wouldn't slide down (a HUGE issue I had with the fireplace... no matter how thick or thin I spread it... no matter the temperature in the house... no matter if I let it sit a couple minutes before putting the paper on, it always slid!). I also went around with a pin and popped any air bubbles I saw, about a half hour after applying the paper.
The duct tape worked. When I came back the next day, it worked amazingly! When I did the fireplace, I had a lot of areas where the paint just didn't come off, due to me not putting the paper flat enough, air bubbles or sliding. I've been able to correct this on the windows and had no issues. It came off clean and beautiful! I wasn't able to get all the paint in the crevice on the edge of the trim, but who cares. It came off enough that when I paint over it, you'll never notice.
On the second window, I put up the PA, but then was too busy with work the next day and couldn't remove it. I prayed that it wouldn't ruin the windows and I wouldn't need to re-apply and waste more PA. So, 48 hours after application, I removed one side of the casing. It came off pretty well. However, it still took about 45 minutes, and was only half of the side. The other side of the window I had put the PA on the whole side and I had tons of work that needed to get done. I once again prayed that it wouldn't be ruined and put it off until the next day.
So now we're 72 hours post-application. Oh my God. I need to wait this long always! I removed and cleaned the whole side of the window in about a half hour. Less than half the time it should have taken me. And it came off perfectly! That section of casing is the best looking out of all my PA projects so far!

I thought it was interesting because in the pamphlet that came with the PA it said to leave it on for 12-24 hours.. basically don't leave it on for more than 48. With the fireplace I found that if I left it on for about 20 hours, it worked the best (though comparing the fireplace to the windows, I did a horrible job on the fireplace!!). With window #1, I left it for about 24 hours. The section left for 72 hours wasn't messy coming down (my one concern is that because it wasn't messy, the chemicals(? whatever changes the toxicity of the lead paint) weren't working anymore and it had reverted back to it's bad self) and quicker to clean up.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not So Scary Anymore..

This is actually a project I finished over the summer, but I finally just took pictures of it this week. Between work, other projects and a LOT of cloudy days, I had an excuse every day for months.

You'll remember from earlier posts that this is the room we've dubbed The Twilight Room. When we first viewed the house it was completely empty, except for two Twilight posters. And the walls were a beautiful striped montage of black, magenta, and purple, with a lovely bright blue carpet. Just delightful.

R claimed this room as his soon after we moved in. He took the desk that the previous owner had left and that's where he had his computer. He doesn't use it much.. maybe once or twice a week. The room wasn't really a priority. We have the guest beds set up in the Guest Bedroom, and R didn't really care about the scary walls (which by this point were primed, but you could still see the stripes peeking through).

However, this spring, I was attempting to organize all of the remaining boxes upstairs and realized that I could empty the majority of them if only I had somewhere to put my excess office supplies. I had boxes and boxes full of art and craft supplies, pens and pencils, notebooks.. etc. Plus a bunch of random stuff like our winter coats (downstairs coat closet isn't very high on our to-do list), all of my gift wrap, and what I call my memory boxes (basically plastic boxes filled with mementos). As I was sitting on the floor amid all of this stuff, I realized that I had a huge closet in the Twilight Room, sitting there basically empty.

In April and May I got to work on the closet.. not as easy as you'd think, seeing as it was covered in hand prints.
Once that was done, I started filling it up. That didn't take long. But I managed to unpack almost every box left in the Guest Room! Plus all of the boxes that I had accumulated in the Twilight Room.

The walls weren't that bad. Two coats of the light yellow paint, over two coats of Kilz covered all of the stripes. There are still a couple spots where you can see a little raised line (whoever painted the stripes taped off the lines and there are some spots where there's a raised line of paint along where the tape was), but only if you look really really close. The trim and windows were a pain because the paint was so dark and I was painting it white. I'm still not 100% done with the doors... they're taking an obnoxious amount of paint!!

Over the summer I moved in some furniture I had in the Guest Room. We got R's childhood bed and I had to rearrange the Guest Room, and all of the furniture didn't fit any more. I moved in his old bookcase and  Madison's papasan chair. We also have an old filing cabinet in here that was left in the house. It's broken and not very eye-pleasing, but it's too heavy for me to move out of the room, let alone down the stairs, so it's staying in here until it bothers R enough to move it (it'll be here for awhile).

In the fall I bought some Ikea curtains for the room. The next time R went to use his computer, he was like "What is all of this? What happened to my office? There are flowery curtains and stuffed animals in here!" It had definitely gone from being his room to mine.. My craft supplies take up one whole wall, there are stuffed animals on the shelves there and on the puppy's papasan chair.. there are flowers on the walls and curtains and there are pink stripped tie-backs on the curtains. His wall does have a nice panoramic view of Fenway (I said, if this was my room I definitely wouldn't have hung THAT up!) and all of his books and CDs and This Old House magazines, etc. by his computer still :)

The room still isn't completely finished (what is in this house?). I haven't painted the ceiling yet and we're planning on getting a new carpet soon. I plan on painting the ceiling and touching up the base trim when we get the new carpet. I also need to finish the doors and install the re-painted hardware.

**Picture disclaimer** I broke our camera. Our good, fancy camera. So these pictures are blurry and not the best (after waiting so long to take them you'd think they'd at least be good!). Sorry.
Madison's corner of the room. It's her favorite spot to sleep.
All that's left of R's space in the room
Bought these frames and pictures at Ikea for a total of $3.  I spray painted the frames black to match everything else in the room.
Curtains from Ikea with ribbon tie-backs. I spray painted the existing curtain rods black.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Our 2011 Goals... How'd We Do??

First off, here's the list. Most of the finished tasks link to my progress posts.

*Finish the Kitchen I'd say it's 90% done.. we're almost there!
*Landscaping the front yard Instead of doing this, I did a little landscaping in the backyard (my sidewalk)
*Cleaning up the front entrance/porch
*Get the rest of our boxes from our parents' houses
*Buy chickens and build a coop
*Fence in the backyard This is going to be our #1 large project of 2012.. as soon as the ground thaws
*Install new exterior light fixtures by back door They're purchased. That's something, right?
*Install new motion detecting flood light Same here.
*Renovate downstairs bathroom Our plans have changed here. We're now leaning toward just replacing the fixtures and leaving the layout the same. For now.
*Re-work/re-build the back staircase The back stairs/lean-to are a project we may tackle this summer.. it's a big one because we're going to be completely re-building the lean-to and putting in a foundation, so it may get put off for another year...
*Finish off closet under back staircase
*Figure out what to do with my pantry
*Install shelving in Living Room closet It's painted, just not installed. The walls need a lot of repair.
*Figure out lighting solution for Living Room
*Strip paint in Living Room Ended up being a lot more time consuming than I had originally thought (and expensive). I'm working on it though!
*Re-do front Hall
*Install chandelier in Dining Room
*Get a Dining Room table We have a folding table with a table cloth on it in there for now. Better than nothing, right?
*Organize tools in basement They're actually in the basement now, which is Step 1 :)
*Buy bookcases/etc for office
*Make new bulletin boards for office
*Second coat of paint in Guest Room
*Paint Twilight Room
*Re-do upstairs back Hall
*Lighting solution for upstairs Bathroom and Laundry
*Clean out Laundry cabinet
*Install permanent dryer vent

Now here's my disclaimer. I never really made  it apparent on here, but 2011 was filled with a lot of job changes for me. So there was a lot we had planned to do that we weren't able to do (especially the larger projects), because we were figuring out other things. Things are pretty settled for now, so here's hoping to a very productive 2012!

I've also realized there were a lot of things that we didn't include on the list.. like a garden and a dishwasher (though I guess I included in the Kitchen task). I still feel like we got a lot done this year. Just having almost the entire second floor be finished feels good. And have I mentioned that there's a floor in the Kitchen???? :) And of course we also had the unexpected projects.. painting/cleaning the other bedroom closet, the need to do some electrical work in both the back Hall and Kitchen, plus the expensive new chimney cap that we desperately needed!

Our Second Christmas in the House

This Christmas was a little different than last year. I decorated more, for one thing. We had more finished (or semi-finished) rooms. It was also nice to be able to do a lot of baking in the kitchen. Having a kitchen table again definitely helped! I think I made over 25 dozen cookies (some of which I brought around to our neighbors).
And this isn't even all of them! I think I made about twice as many as shown in this picture!
We (and by we I mean me) decided to change things up this year and put the tree in front of the front windows. I love being able to see the tree from the street (which you couldn't really do.. oh well.. you could see it a little!). I've also been wanting to try out a different furniture layout in the room. We moved the loveseat to in front of the fireplace. I like it. R doesn't. I think it makes the room feel larger. The only downside (according to me) is that the coffee table is a little awkward because of the tree.. it can't be centered on the couch, so it's just kinda hanging out in the middle of the room.

I especially loved being able to decorate in the kitchen. Last year at an after-Christmas sale we got these two artificial trees for $2 each. The garland was about $1.
I think this was one of my favorite things in the house this Christmas. I could never seem to get a really good picture of it though.. It looked awesome when all of the rest of the lights in the room were turned off though!

This year at an after-Christmas sale we bough some night pewter and white candles to put in the windows (for $1 each!). We're considering keeping them up all year long. There's another center chimney house across town that does this and I've loved it ever since I was little.