Dec 20, 2015

3 Months with No Running Water

Our kitchen was gutted on September 26. For the past three months, we've been using the wash tub in the basement or the bathroom upstairs when we needed water.

Well... NO MORE!!

Our kitchen sink and new faucet were installed on Friday, and we now have running water again in the kitchen!  Whooohooo!!

New kitchen faucet and sink
Newly installed kitchen sink and faucet.
We had a problem with our Craigslist dishwasher... Turns out the pump had a leak, so we need to get a new dishwasher to go in that empty spot under the counter next to the sink. Otherwise, that would be installed right now also.

I'm so excited!!!  Just a few more steps to a working kitchen!!!

If you've ever renovated a kitchen, how did you deal without having a working kitchen?

Dec 8, 2015

More Progress on Renovating our 1950s Ranch Kitchen

We've accomplished a lot. It's just taken longer than expected. But isn't that the way of every renovation project? Don't they always take longer than expected?

Kitchen renovation before and after
What the kitchen looked like after we took possession of the house
and how it looked yesterday, December 7, 2015.
What do you think of the changes so far? I'm absolutely loving the yellow color I selected for the cabinets. 

Our cabinets were ordered in September and were done mid-October. The first set back was when we found out one of our new cabinets would not fit in the door. We tried every way we could think of to try and get that cabinet in the door.

We finally gave up and took it back to have it modified to fit. But it turned out okay, because Jim got the unique opportunity to work with our Amish cabinet maker in his shop. It was interesting to see how Rudy ran all the equipment without electricity. Jim really enjoyed it, and it was something he wouldn't have gotten to do if the cabinet had fit.

Jim was disappointed I didn't take pictures while he was working in the Amish workshop, but I read somewhere that the Amish don't like to have their pictures taken, so I didn't want to be disrespectful. 
The back of the cabinet needed to be cut off
The cabinet after being modified. Now I know that cabinet makers are not trying
to cheat you out of storage space. They actually cut the back corner off
so the corner cabinets fit in 32 inch doorways.
Of course, before the new cabinets could be installed, the old cabinets had to come out. So I listed our old cabinets on Craigslist for $150 with the provision that whoever bought them had to remove them. With in 10 minutes I had four people who wanted them! We spoke to two of them on the phone and told them both what time we'd be at the house the next day.

One of the guys showed up right at the time we told him, and the other called to say he'd be there in an hour. Since my ad said said the first person with cash and crew could have them we let the guy who was there take them. Needless to say, the other guy wasn't happy. Anyway, the guy who showed up with cash in hand and two helpers worked for at least four hours removing them. I was very impressed, because they were very careful not to ruin our walls, and by the end of the day, our kitchen was gutted. 
The mess left behind after the cabinets were removed.
What was left after the cabinets were removed. Not pretty.
We were left with a serious mess after the cabinets were removed. But I have to admit, we were glad we did have to remove them ourselves, so clean up was okay with us.  After we cleaned up, it was onto taking out the linoleum.

We quickly found out we had to be careful ripping up the linoleum, because there was asbestos tile under it. It took us a while to decide how we wanted to deal with the asbestos. Ultimately, we decided to lay the laminate floor right over top of it. I think I mentioned before that I'm kind of glad the tile stayed, because it feels like we preserved some of the house's history.
Removing the linoleum
Jim removing the linoleum. Check out the original gray/green and red tile.
After linoleum was removed, the plumber and electrician came in. The plumber updated the plumbing for the sink, to make it easier to set in the sink cabinet. The electrician removed all the outlets and lights, except one chandelier. I highly recommend having your electrician do that if you ever gut your kitchen. With the electrical gone, we can put outlets and switches exactly where we want, and we don't have to deal with working around electrical that is in the wrong place. Makes things much easier.
Installing the Amish Cabinets
Jim and our friend installing the cabinets.
Can I just say it is very hard to get a good picture of two men working together?
In most of my pictures, either one or the other moved suddenly and then one looked blurry.
Once everything was out of the kitchen, a friend of ours came over to help install the cabinets. It was after the cabinets were installed that I realized the ceiling fan I bought for the kitchen is too big. If I hadn't designed the cabinets to be floor to ceiling, it wouldn't have been an issue. But let's just say if we install the original one I got, if someone opened the cabinet above the refrigerator when the ceiling fan was running, either the ceiling fan or the cabinet door would die a terrible, painful death. Not good.
Installing Laminate Flooring
Laying the laminate flooring.
Finally, after all that, the kitchen was the last room in the house that we installed laminate flooring in. We learned a lot of lessons by doing almost an entire house, and I'll doing a post very soon about those lessons. Let's just say, there are a lot of things they don't tell you that you need to know.
Painted base cabinets
Some of the painting is finished.  What do you think of the grapes on the sink base?
Now that the cabinets and floors have been installed. I've been working on painting the cabinets. Actually, painted the bases before the flooring was installed, and now I'm working on painting the doors. 

So what needs to still be done? Well, the countertop is hopefully going in this week, so we can do the tile backsplash. Then the electrical and plumbing need to be done. After that, there are only minor things that will need to be done. I'm hoping to have the upper cabinet doors painted this week too. The list is getting shorter and shorter, which is making me very happy. 

Not finished yet.
Where I left off... Now the upper cabinet doors need to be painted. 
Hey! I'd love to hear about your renovations! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think?  

Nov 16, 2015

Before & Progress on Updating Our 1950s Ranch

Yesterday, I promised an update, so here I am with an update on our progress. Normally, I would share "Before & After" pictures. But problem with that is, even though we've done a lot, it is seems like there are still a few little things that still need to be done in every single room. So no room is ready for an "After" picture.  That's why all my "Before & After" pictures this time are "Before & Progress" pictures.

Anway, here's just a little peak at what we've done so far.
Kitchen Progress
How the kitchen looked when we first saw our house, and how it looks today with our new custom cabinets.
I am so excited about our kitchen! We found an Amish cabinet maker who made our cabinets for us, and they were installed about two weeks ago. Now, I'm working on painting them. They require a lot of coats, because I chose yellow for the cabinet color. In order for the yellow I chose to look right, the cabinets need to have at least five coats of paint. I have two more coats of paint to put on the cabinet bases, and then I'll start working on the cabinet doors.

What still needs to be done? Well, finish painting the cabinets, install the countertops, install the subway tile, and install the flooring. Then, we'll have contractors come to do the electrical and plumbing. It sounds like a lot, and it is. That's why the kitchen has become our top priority.

Hallway Progress
How the hallway looked on the day we too possession of our house, and how it looks today.
The hallway was a challenge. Somehow, and I have no idea how it happened, but I forgot to sand the trim. I thought I had sanded it all, but after the paint dried, it scratched right off. I was so annoyed with myself that it took a few weeks...maybe more like over a month...before I convinced myself I had to strip it all off, SAND them, and redo the painting. As you can see, the trim is all painted now AND it's not scratching off!

Now all that's left to do is install the baseboards and the vent cover. The electrician has an outlet to install, but that will be done with the kitchen work. The doors will be a project for another time, because they don't go with the new laminate flooring.

Living Room Progress
The living room on the day we took possession, and how it looks today.
I seem to be painting every single day. The living room got a fresh coat of paint today--actually two coats of paint today. I painted the trim yesterday, and I did remember to sand it before painting this time. I love the way the white trim looks against the color of the walls. The contrast is perfect, and looks so clean.  

Just in case you're wondering... That board on the saw horses is the countertop for the kitchen. It's just waiting to be installed.
Opening between the living room and dining room
Living room with new trim installed, and how it looks today
Here's another view of the living room. It gives you an idea of how open it feels now. Before, that opening was a solid wall. Now you can look all the way through to the dining and family rooms. Last weekend, we trimmed out the opening, and eventually, we'll change all the moldings to match the new trim. But that's also a future project--probably one room at a time.

Baseboards are needed in just about every room...master bedroom, family room, dining room, living room, hallway, and kitchen. We want nice thick baseboards that are at least five inches. They might end up being a one room at a time project also.

Family Room Fabric
Fabric for the family room curtains
One more little update. I ordered the fabric to make curtains for the family room.  I had selected another fabric, but when I put this one up against the fireplace, I just went "WOW. That's it!" Honestly, the picture does not do it justice. 

I'm excited about the progress, and I'm trying not to think too much about all the things that still need to be done.  Well, I'm trying not to think about them all at once. One day at a time. Every step is a step closer. 

And remember...  Sand paper is your friend!!! Trust me on this one. 

Oct 6, 2015

Our 1950s Ranch gets a Flooring Makeover

When we bought our 1950s ranch, we thought it had hardwood floors everywhere except for the addition, and that we'd be able to refinish the floors and just add hardwood to match in the addition. Easy. Relatively inexpensive.

That's what we thought...

Hardwood floors
Floors we hoped were throughout the house.
Turns out there was only hardwood in the two small bedrooms, and the rest of the house had either subfloor or asbestos tile under the carpet.  This meant we'd have to spend a lot more of the green stuff to update the flooring.

Since installing hardwood was no longer in the budget, we had to come up with a plan B. Carpet was out of the question. (Have you ever seen the dirt that collects under carpet? YUCK!) So we decided to go with laminate.

It took a long time to figure out what laminate we wanted. My design plan calls for something rustic since it is loosely a French Farmhouse design, and it had to be durable since we have two senior pets. Now I don't care what anyone says, laminate is never going to look like real hardwood, so I also wanted to make sure whatever we chose didn't look like a cheap imitation of the real stuff we already have.
Stack of Laminate flooring to install.
Select Surfaces Cocoa Walnut from Sam's Club
After looking at numerous stores, we ended up buying our laminate at Sam's Club. Who wudda thunk it?  It's called Cocoa Walnut, it's 14mm with a pre-attached pad. The handscraped, 6 inch wide planks in a dark-medium brown walnut have the rustic look I wanted.

Jim thought the best place to start would be in the master bedroom, because it's not one of the public room. It made sense to me. Start in the room where we would be the only ones to see the mistakes. But you know what? Installation was so simple, it looked perfect when we were done!

Before During and After
New floors in the Master Bedroom - Before, During and After
The Master isn't finished yet. The trim and the closet doors need to be installed, but getting the floors down completely changed the feeling of the room. Painting the paneling made a difference too. My friend Karla says we're pulling the house into the 21st century, which is good since it was stuck in the 1970s.
Love the laminate by the fireplace
Testing the flooring next to the Fireplace. LOVE!
After practicing on the Master Bedroom, we found our rhythm and moved onto the Family Room. Figuring out how to do the laminate next to the fireplace slowed us down a bit, but once we decided on a plan, it went really fast. I forgot to take pictures, but we love how it looks next to the fireplace!

Precision Measuring by my husband
Shout out to my hard-working husband! Love you, Babe!
Jim did a great job on the floors, and everything else this past week. We didn't get everything done that we wanted to get done during his week off, but we got a huge part of it done. We're way ahead of where we were a week ago, and that's fantastic. We actually see an end of the renovations in sight!

AND... Yesterday our cabinet guy called. Our kitchen cabinets will be done this week!!  Whoo-hoo! We'll be picking them up on Monday, and then you'll get to see what we do to the kitchen!  Can't wait!!

Please leave a comment and share this post with your friends. I'd love to hear from you!

Oct 1, 2015

A Week of Renovating our 1950s Ranch

We finally got to the point where Jim just couldn't continue doing work in the house piece piece after work. So he took the whole week off, and we're getting so much done. Here's some pictures of our progress so far...

Drywalling the Dining Room Opening
From enclosed to open to putting up the drywall.
Once this opening is mudded, painted and trimmed out, you'll never be able to tell it wasn't always open this way. The flow of the house is so much better, and there is so much light now. If Jim hadn't been working up in the corner, he wouldn't have even needed the light on.
Gutting our 1950s Kitchen.
We gutted the kitchen.
I listed our cabinets for sale on Craigslist with the provision that whoever bought them had to remove them. The guy who bought them and his crew worked really hard and were very careful not to damage our walls. I can't tell you how much we appreciated that. 

We would have completely destroyed them if we had tried to remove them. We had no idea they would be so hard to remove, and we're really glad someone else took them out. Although, Jim did jump in to help when they needed some extra hands. 
Removing the Linoleum
Removing the linoleum flooring.
After the cabinets were gone, Jim set about removing the linoleum flooring. He had to be careful, because there is asbestos tile under the luan. It's perfectly safe to leave the asbestos tile in place and put new flooring right over top of it, so that's what we're going to do. 
If you look closely, you can see all the staples.
After the linoleum was gone, we started removing hundreds of staples, but soon realized that pounding them in with a hammer was much easier and faster--not to mention safer, since some of the asbestos tiles were chipping when we were pulling the staples. 

Don't you love the quintessential 1950s tile floor? I'm kind of glad the tiles are staying, even if they're going to get covered up, because it feels like we're preserving some of the house's history.
The opening from the living room to the hallway all drywalled.
With the new opening between the living room and dining room, this opening was unnecessary, so Jim framed it in and drywalled it. Our electrician roughed for power and cable, since this is the corner where our TV will be going.
Closed up from the Hallway
Opening from the Hallway side.
Here you can see that former opening from the hallway. This picture was actually taken while standing in our bathroom. That's another reason I'm glad we closed off this opening. Before, if the bathroom door was left open, you could see the toilet if you were sitting in the living room...not the most beautiful view, if you know what I mean.
Measure twice, cut once...
Gotta love a man with tools!! I can't help it, he looks so darned sexy with his toolbelt. Here Jim is measuring to put up the drywall on the dining room side of the new opening. This took much longer than we expected, because, well, it's an old house and nothing is level, straight, or plumb. 

I would have more pictures, but my Fibromyalgia decided to flare up yesterday afternoon, so Jim sent me home and told me to stay home and rest today. I am so blessed to have a husband who cares so much about my health. I have to admit that I've felt rather guilty staying home today when I know he's over there working so hard. 

Don't worry.  I'll be back at it very soon, and I'll share more pictures as we go along.

If you like following along with our renovation, please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Thanks! 

Sep 12, 2015

Opening the Wall between the Dining and Living Rooms

We made a huge step forward in the renovation of our 1950s ranch this week. We finally opened up the wall between our living room and our dining room giving the whole house a more open concept.

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!!

Before and After the Dining Room wall comes down.
Before and after looking from the Family Room
Can you believe the difference???? The space used to feel like a maze, and I'm not even going to mention the wallpaper. You used to have to go through at least two doorways, no matter which way you went, to go from the dining room to living room. When our friends came to look at our new house, they actually got confused which way to go. That's how maze-like the floorplan was.

Now with it open, it makes sense. It's no longer choppy. It feels more spacious. The rooms flow, and it's exactly how I imaged it. I was so happy the first time I walked through the space that used to be a wall, I actually squealed with excitement!

I love it! But I know some of you are wondering why I didn't open it up all the way to the ceiling. I mean, more open is better, right?  Not necessarily.

When renovating, you don't want to do something that doesn't make sense with the rest of the house. Because none of the other openings in the house go to the ceiling, if the opening between these two rooms had gone up to the ceiling, it would have been obvious that it had been renovated. By making this opening match the height of all the other openings in the house, once it's finished, it won't look renovated. It will look like it has always been this way, and that's what I wanted.
View from the Living Room
View from the Living Room through the Dining Room into the Family Room.
Anyway, I'm so glad it's finally open. It feels like a huge step forward. Of course, there is still a lot to do. We have to frame in the old opening between the hallway and the living room. The walls need to be drywalled, the trim needs to be installed, the rest of the carpet needs to be ripped out and the new floors need to be installed. Plus there's still painting to do.

The list is long.  But now that the wall is opened up, I think things will go quickly. Tomorrow we're going to revise our punch list and set some new timeframes, which will help us keep on track and keep us moving forward.

I finally see the end in sight.

Now your turn.  What kind of flooring do you think we should put in and what color?

Can't wait to hear your ideas!!

If you enjoy following along with our renovation, please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and other sites!  Thanks!

Sep 6, 2015

1950s Ranch Kitchen Renovation Plan

When we first looked at our new house, we thought we loved the kitchen. The cabinets looked in great shape and they go all the way to the ceiling making them look custom. In fact, everyone who has seen the house since we bought it has thought the cabinets are great.

Kitchen Before
Kitchen on the day we took possession.
As you can see, it isn't a terrible kitchen. It actually looks pretty good. Slap some paint on the cabinets, replace the countertops and floors, and we're good to go.  We knew the layout wasn't perfect, but we thought we could work with it. Then we started looking closer.

The cooktop is okay, but the oven is so not in a good place at all. It was completely outside of the work triangle. Imagine trying to cook dinner with guests in the kitchen! Impossible!! The refrigerator blocked the kitchen off and made it feel closed in, and the dishwasher was in a corner which made it impossible to open one of the drawers unless the dishwasher was open. There were some definite problems.
Awkward kitchen layout
Kitchen on the day it was being inspected before closing.
Nothing made sense, except the cooktop and the sink. Everything else was awkward, but from the start, our plan was to sell the appliances, reconfigure the cabinets and use our own stainless steel appliances. We thought we could make it work without too much trouble.

Then we found out the cabinets truly are custom, and we couldn't just reconfigure them to fit our appliances. They are all one piece! Seriously, those very top cabinets are open with no dividers all the way around the cabinets. We'd have to cobble them up, and we knew that's exactly what it would look like--a cobbled mess. So, onto plan B, which was to replace all the cabinets.

I have to admit, when Jim suggested starting from scratch with all new cabinets, I was very excited. In fact, I even posted it about it, but I could tell you what was actually going on, because I didn't want to jinx anything.

New Kitchen Plan
Plan for new kitchen.
This was the original plan I came up with. The original plan was stock unpainted cabinet from a big box store. With everything else we needed to change, that seemed the best option for our budget. But that's all changed. We found an extremely talented Amish cabinet maker who is making all our cabinets. Now the refrigerator is going to look built-in. The cabinets are going all the way up to the ceiling, and pantry is going to include two drawers and pull-out shelves.  Plus, all the appliances are going to be in the work triangle, which will make entertaining easier.

A funny story... When I told Mary, who is the trustee of her parents estate and who we bought the house from, that we were tearing out the kitchen and replacing the cabinets, she laughed and told me that her mother hated those cabinets. Her dad loved them and insisted that they be refaced in the 1980s even though her mom wanted to replace them.
Breakfast Nook
We're thinking about putting banquette seating in our corner breakfast area.
This weekend, we met with Rudy, our cabinet maker, gave him a deposit. Then we went to Lumber Liquidator to look at laminate floors. We didn't find any flooring we liked there, but we did end up buying our walnut butcher block countertop instead. I can't tell you how excited I am to be getting custom cabinets and butcher block countertops! I've wanted walnut countertops forever!

There are a few more surprises... For instance, I'm sure most of you are expecting me to have white painted cabinets, because you know how much I love white kitchens. But that's not happening. I'm actually going to have yellow cabinets!

I can't wait to show you how it turns out!

             Coming soon...
                   The wall between the living and dining room is opened up.
                   New floors installed throughout.
                   Updated paint and color schemes.
                   New curtains for the family room.

So you've seen the kitchen space the way it is now... Any suggestions or ideas you want to share?

Share you thoughts!!!  I love hearing your ideas!

Aug 24, 2015

The Window Awnings Come Down

Some changes are so simple yet so significant, that you wonder why you didn't do them sooner. Taking down the window awnings at our new house is one of those changes. After my post last week about priming the family room and needing to see how the sunlight played in the house to choose colors, I asked Jim to take them down this weekend.

Taking them down had always been the plan. We just got distracted by other things that needed (and still need to be done) around the house. But since we taken down the awning at the house we're moving out of, we knew taking them down at the new house would open up the view and let in the sunshine. We just had to take take the time to actually do it.

The house wakes up.
Before and After the awnings were removed.
When I showed this before and after picture to my BFF, she said it looked like the house was sleepy and now it's awake. I love that! It's a perfect description.

Back in the 1950s when our new house was built, the awnings were practical and very much in style. I'm sure our large maple trees were much smaller then, and the awnings helped keep the house cooler by keeping the sun from beating in the windows. Plus, very few homes back then had air conditioning, which made them more of a necessity in the heat of the summer. Then once they were installed, it probably never occurred to the previous owners to remove them once they no longer serviced a real purpose.
The view was blocked and ugly
The view from the living room before removing the awnings.
With that in mind, I understand why they were originally installed. They totally made sense at that time, but today, they don't really serve their original purpose. Our mature maple trees provide the shade that the awnings originally provided. So now all the awnings do is block too much light and the view. They make the living room feel closed in and dark.  To see out our window, we had to bend over, and even then, it felt like more than half our view was blocked by the ugly underside of a metal awning.

Simply put, we had a large picture window, but the view with the awning certainly wasn't worth framing. The awning had to go.
Look at the beautiful view now!
Look at the view now!
So this weekend, the awnings on the front of the house came down, and the house woke up. The front of the house and whole room felt opened up. No more bending over to see out the window, and the view from our picture window was suddenly worth framing, because we could see our beautiful tree-filled front yard.

After it was done, Jim and I loved it so much, we both agreed we should have taken them down a lot sooner. But it's done now, and that's all that matters. I'm sure we'll feel the same way when we get the wall between the living room and dining room removed. Sometimes it's just hard to envision how much of a change something is going to make until you actually take the plunge and do it.
Opening up the view.
Before and after of the view.
Now I'll be able to start determining what colors are going to work in the room. It's only a matter of time before the wall between the living and dining rooms comes down, and the sunlight from these windows will fill the dining room.

What do you think for the front of the house?  Shutters or window boxes with flowers?

Aug 21, 2015

Remodeling a 1950s Ranch

Remodeling our new home is in full swing, and we've been working like crazy. (Well, except for this week, because my car has been in the shop and Jim has been out of town, so I couldn't get over to the new house, but that's a whole nother story.)  We still don't have approval to remove the load bearing wall between the dining and living rooms, but we're moving ahead with the other changes we want to make, and the list is long.

So far we've removed wallpaper and some paneling, primed and painted two bedrooms, installed two ceiling fans (I know, I know, not great interior design, but sometimes comfort has to trump design), removed three doors, repaired some wall damage, designed the kitchen and sent the plans to a cabinet guy, pulled out four bushes, and few other things. Why is it the more you do, the longer your list seems to get?

I think the most satisfying change so far has been priming all the 1970s style paneling. We thought about removing it, but didn't want to deal with any "uh-oh" surprises that could delay being able to move in. So, we decided to paint the paneling in both master bedroom and the family room. I actually like the look of painted paneling. It gives the rooms a cottage feeling, so I'm not disappointed with our choice at all.

Before and after priming the paneling
Priming the Family Room Before and After
I was amazed by the difference the primer made. Although the family room felt huge before, the primer makes it feel even larger. And I can tell the lighter color is really going to make the fireplace stand out. I can't wait to take the plastic off so I can really see the full effect. I know it's going to be A-MAZ-ING! But I still have to pick a color for the room, so the plastic will remain for a while.
Colors for the interior
Colors I'm considering
I started planning the color scheme as soon as we made an offer on the house, but now that I've spent some time in it, I'm kind of rethinking my original plan. The colors I selected before we got possession of the house work well with our current furnishings, which is why I chose them. But, the more time I spend in the house, the better feel I get for how the colors will work, and it looks like there might be some minor changes made to the color palette.
Close up of the fireplace stone
Close up of the fireplace stone
I still have a vision for how the house is ultimately going to look, but the colors need some tweaking. One of the reasons is because of the fireplace. It's gorgeous and we love it just the way it is (except for the brass on the fireplace doors, which will change. Again, another story.)  But because the fireplace is such a important feature of the house, it has to be a big part of inspiration for colors. Everything has to go with the fireplace and with our current furnishings, and that just couldn't be planned ahead of time.

Even though I am getting a clearer idea about colors, I honestly won't know for sure what colors will work until the wall is removed and the front awnings are off the house. Those things are making the rooms look much darker than they're going to be.  So until then, it's hard to know how the sunlight will play in the house, and that will be a factor in the color decisions.

For now, we're going to finish priming all of the rooms and the trim, since that will be painted also. But in the mean time, I'm excited about the changes we've already made. Every change makes it feel more and more like our house. We still have a lot more to do, but it's coming along.
Priming and painting finished.
Finished painting and removed the plastic.
What colors would you choose to go with our fireplace?

Jul 29, 2015

The Wait is Over! We bought a house!

Last month I shared that I had a secret I was itching to share, but that you'd have to wait to find out what it was. Now I can tell you!!

Drum roll please...

We bought a new house!!

We closed yesterday, and have already made some huge progress.  Mostly removing wallpaper. There's nothing like removing wallpaper to make you feel like the house like yours instead of someone else's.   I told Jim that, and he disagreed, saying there was nothing like signing a mortgage to make is feel like yours!  He just doesn't get it.  haha!

So here's a couple before and after pictures.  The walls still need to the rest of the wallpaper paste washed off, but just removing the paper made a huge difference, especially in the dining room.

Bye-Bye Wallpaper!

The wallpaper is gone!
I'm taking down the plastic wainscotting in the dining room, and I still have wallpaper in the kitchen to remove.  So much to do.  I'll be sharing more as we go!

Jul 14, 2015

3 Things You Need to Know to Hire the Right Designer

3 Things to Hire the right Interior Desiger

A friend of mine from another state recently bought a new home with her husband and hired an interior designer to make their home beautiful. Unfortunately, after the designer left, Kelly was devastated.  Their house didn't reflect her or her husband's tastes at all.

Here's a snippet of her email...
Why don't designers listen?
I feel her pain. This can be very frustrating, not mention, expensive. It's not completely surprising though given what people think happens when they hire a design professional.

Here's what a lot of people think happens... The designer comes in, looks at your house, asks a few question, and shows you a beautiful design plan. Since the designer is a professional, you do everything you're told, and in the end you have that exciting "WOW" moment, when you open the door to your beautifully decorated house and love absolutely everything!  Roll the credits...

Wake up!  This is not HGTV.  It doesn't work like that. It would be nice if it did, but it doesn't.

Fabric and Paint Chips
Fabric and Paint Chips for a house I'm currently designing spread out on my table.
Here's reality. Hiring the right interior designer will save you money and give you a beautiful home you love. It's true that hiring a professional designer can be intimidating, because, well, they are a professional, but don't get hung up on that. Keep the following things in mind when selecting a designer, and it will be a little easier.

1.  Every designer has her own style and design philosophy. Make sure you look at their website and portfolio to see if their style appeals to you and is similar to your own sense of style.  Don't get caught up in all the gorgeous images of beautiful rooms. A designer can be extremely talented and have a beautiful sense of style, but if that style doesn't speak to you somehow on a personal level, if you don't see yourself living in the rooms, you haven't found the right designer for you.

2.  The right designer will listen and take the time to understand your style and tastes. The designer wants you to be happy with their work (that's how we get referrals), so it behooves them to take the extra time to learn about you. If it doesn't feel as though the designer is listening to you or is pushing a style you can't relate to, then you probably haven't found the right designer. 

3.  Designers will do their best to give you a beautiful design plan that you'll hopefully love for many years. Their job is to help you pull your own ideas together and make them better, or lead you in a different direction that will work for you that hadn't occurred to you. But don't be afraid to tell your designer that you don't like an idea they've presented. The right designer will not force anything on you.

You might be wondering what happened with Kelly and her kitchen.  Well, her story actually has a happy ending.  Fortunately, Kelly and her husband bought wood cabinets and had them painted rather buying MDF, so they'll be able to have them repainted when they can afford it. In the meantime, she's making her kitchen work with some suggestions I gave her. 
Mood Board created to incorporate color in a white kitchen
KettleStoolUtensil CrockRugFabric
I found an inexpensive red, teal and green fabric that I knew she would like, and she fell in love with it.  It suits her quirky retro bold style (her words, not mine), and she's going to sew some curtains out of it to hang in her kitchen. Plus, I put together an inspiration board for her using the fabric, and now she's excited about her kitchen again. She loves all the colors. She's even talking about keeping some of the white cabinets and painting the lowers teal or red. Added bonus, her husband is also happier and not grumbling about the cost of the designer any more.

Last bit of advice!

Remember:  Just because a designer is a professional, that doesn't mean you have to accept their ideas as gospel. If you accept a design plan you don't really like just because the designer is a professional, you're not going to be happy, so speak up. Designing a home with a professional is a partnership. They need your input in order to make you happy.

So how will you know if you've found the right designer?

You'll know you've found the right designer when you feel you're being listened to, you're not afraid to speak up, and you get an "ahhhh, I could live there" feeling when looking at her design plan.

What has your experience been with Interior Designers?  Feel free to share any tips you have!

Jun 26, 2015

Now Coming Directly to Your Email

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Jun 22, 2015

I've got a secret

Something BIG is going on here. I wish I could tell you what it is, but right now Jim thinks we should keep it quiet.  Rest assured, I will be sharing my news with you as soon as Jim gives me the okay.

Here's a hint, but don't tell Jim!!

Kitchen Inspiration Board
Inspiration Board
Showing isn't quite the same as telling...

Anyway, there is more to the secret than this, but my lips are sealed.  For now.

Wish us luck!!!

Jun 5, 2015

Embracing something about myself

For years, I've been hiding a secret about myself.  I started getting gray hair when I was 21, and ever since then I have been coloring it.  I've had many different colors... light brown, dark brown, mahogany, red, and black.  My natural pre-gray color was dark brown, almost black, so most of the time I went back to that.

Anyway, one of the reasons I selected "Embrace" as my word of the year is because I've decided to stop coloring my hair and embrace my the gray.  I just got tired of coloring it every three weeks! So December 14th was the last time I colored it.

Embracing the Gray
Progression from January through May 2015.
Surprisingly, it's been relatively easy to adjust to the difference.  I'm lucky that my gray is closer to white and very sparkly.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that Jim likes it.

I think the hardest thing to get used to has been cutting my hair. I cut it to a short bob and then to a pixie to get rid of the artificial color.  Surprisingly, I actually get people stopping me in the stores to compliment me on my hair. That used to happen once in a while when I colored my hair, but not nearly as often as it happens now.

I love the style of my hair in the picture to the left, but I knew I'd feel ugly if I tried to maintain that while growing it out. Plus, keeping that length would have made the growing out stage take a lot longer.  But I do plan on growing it back to that style once all the artificial color is gone, which I think will be in another month or so.
Feeling good
Feeling good about how I look!
There have been some wonderful side effects to giving up the bottle... My hair and my scalp are healthier. I actually think my hair is growing faster and coming in thicker. I don't think all those chemicals every three weeks to cover the gray was doing my hair any good.

So that's me right now.  I'm Embracing the gray and feeling sassy!

Have you done anything bold recently?