Monthly Archives: November 2011

Now Presenting: The Grand Tour

Is your deepest desire to wander the halls of our house, discovering room after room of wonderfulness?

Yes?  Well then, you’re in luck!  We’ve compiled all room reveals into one section of the site under “House Tour.”

No?  Well, we’ll still let you take a look around and then maybe you’ll change your mind.

Check out the house tour here!

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You Know You’re a Texan When…

Hers.

… you buy a cowboy boot planter.  I actually debated whether I should buy it or not wondering if it was too kitschy.  As I stood in the middle of the nursery at Lowe’s pondering if my backyard needed a 3 foot boot, Chris waited impatiently behind me (though you’d think he’d be used to my indecisiveness by now).  I finally came to the conclusion that one should not buy a giant boot on impulse so I decided to sleep on it (if you know me really well, you know I’m not kidding).

Morning came and my mind was made up- that boot would be mine.  As Chris and I headed into Lowe’s, we split up to save time: he to gather our bazillionth gallon of paint (and to take a detour through “Tool World”), and I to head out to the nursery.

To my surprise, what was once a palette full of boots for the taking, was now the home of one, lonely boot.  In a mere 24 hours, a total of 11 boot planters had been swiped off this palette.

I immediately felt two emotions:

1) relief that I wasn’t the only crazy Texan out there who thought his/her life was incomplete without a cement boot in the garden

2) determined that I was going to get the last boot.  I mean it was practically looking at me with sad, puppy dog eyes saying “adopt me!”

The biggest problem I faced was that the boot weighed 100 lbs.  Literally.  One.  Hundred.  Pounds.  So it wasn’t like I could just heave it in my basket and call it good.  But I was determined- I was not letting this thing out of my sight.  Who knows what other Texas divas could be lurking around, waiting to snag my treasure.  I guarded my boot and sent frantic telepathic messages to Chris for help.  He finally wandered out, not knowing he was about to be recruited for my covert ops mission.

With Chris on the lookout, I grabbed a few flowers for my new planter and rushed to the cash register to stake my claim.  As new customers filtered through the front door, I gave them my best “don’t you dare touch my boot” stare as I waited to be rung up.

Receipt in hand, I could almost taste sweet victory.  Chris pulled the car around as I continued to guard the perimeter.  A few heave-ho’s later, the boot was sitting comfortably in my car trunk.

Mission accomplished.

His.

I’ve had a lot of weird experiences at the hardware store, most of which start out with “well I was trying to explain Julie’s idea to the guy, when…”  I must say, though, that this weekend may have topped the list. As we were checking out at the nursery register after picking up a few new plants, the guy behind the counter casually asks, “hey, you guys want a boot?”

“A what?”

“A boot. See?”

Initially, I thought he was Canadian, but then I saw that he was pointing at a pallet of, well, boot planters. I thought he was kidding (and I think he was), so I laughed and said no, we didn’t have a need for a three-foot boot planter. Because we didn’t. Upon leaving the store, though, I realized I was wrong, because Julie began begging me for a giant boot. I thought she was kidding, too, but I began to realize that she was dead serious, and she really wanted that boot. I mean, we’re pretty Texan, but… we’re not that kind of Texan. So I told her to sleep on it.

The next day we ended up having to go back to the store for something completely unrelated (the story of our lives), and much to my surprise there was only one boot remaining, meaning at least eleven other people are as insane as my wife. Anyway, Julie shot me in the face with her sad puppy eyes and a few minutes later, I was standing at a cash register saying “excuse me, sir… I’d like to buy that boot”. Julie jumped for joy and stood guard while I fetched the car. I backed up to the pallet and grabbed the boot and… uuuuuunnnnnnnnhhhhhh! This stupid boot weighed at least 100 pounds! I wrestled it into the trunk and away we went.

Julie has a pretty nasty habit of wanting to see things placed 10,000 different ways before making a decision, but this time I told her that the first place I set the boot was also the last place I’d set the boot, so we determined the most level spot in the area we wanted, and that’s where this thing will stay until we move. I have to admit that once we put some plants in it, it didn’t look nearly as tacky as I thought it would… but then again, it’s still a giant concrete boot.

      

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That Swanky Bathroom

Hers.

Well, hello there stranger.

I know it’s been awhile but we’ll make it up in a big way.  Promise.

I think this should help- the public unveiling of another fully renovated room.

After successfully turning the powder room around (you can read about that here), we decided to try our hand at something a little bigger.  The guest bathroom.  Even though we were pretty confident coming off of the powder room reno, there was something in particular that made us a little wary.

That’s right.  We had a furdown housing the ugliest, flashiest (literally, it flashed when you turned it on) florescent light ever.  I mean, seriously.  Who puts a florescent light in a bathroom?  My guess?  A man who had little input from a wiser significant other.  That significant other would have instantly shot down the idea because, duh, florescent lighting is the most unflattering light out there.  ANYTHING would be better than a florescent light.  Needless to say, we knew it had to go but we were I was nervous about how we Chris would patch it up.

As Chris battled with thoughts of demo and drywall patches, I contemplated how to turn this yellow beast of a room into a beaut.  Here’s what we were dealing with:

              

Would the ugly mustard color ever end??

The walls weren’t only the ugliest color on earth, we also discovered that the horrifying color had been painted over wallpaper.  If we teach you one thing from this entire blog, it will be this: Do. Not. Paint. Over. Wallpaper.  Seriously, save the future homeowners some serious headaches and tear the wallpaper off before switching over to paint.

We made our way to Home Depot to determine if there was a miracle cure for this problem.  After perusing the aisles for awhile, we came up with zilch.  We tracked down a paint specialist and asked for his advice.  His reply, “They did what?? Painted over wallpaper?  Well, you’re about to see just how strong your marriage is.  Good luck.”  Awesome.

We bought the usual wallpaper removal artillery: DIF wallpaper removal spray and a paper tiger (best product name, hands down).  They helped a little but the best tool we found was nail scraping.  Gross?  Yes, but thank goodness for manicures.

Although the bathroom tore away at my fingers, it did provide some comic relief.  That relief came in the form of colorful tulips.  I’d like you to close your eyes, imagine yourself in a luxurious shower at the end of a long, hard day being surrounded by a field of bright yellow, blue, and red tulips… I’d like to see what their second and third options were *shudders.

  

And now for your close-up.

So as the paint disappeared and more of the wallpaper appeared, we were met with another terrifying fact.  They painted over wallpaper which was installed over wallpaper.  THERE WAS ANOTHER LAYER.  And you thought tulips were bad?  Oooh no.  Underneath the bed of tulips was a layer of metallic blue and silver paisley wallpaper.  THE HORROR!!  I looked everywhere for a picture but couldn’t find anything. I think the world is better off not revisiting that design anyway.

Two full days later (there went that weekend), we were finally left with bare walls.  But then we had a new dilemma on our hands.  The walls were so stripped from removing three layers, even paint couldn’t cover all the imperfections.  Take a peek into our horror room of a bathroom.  Looks like a scene out of Saw, huh?

   

The solution?  Texture.  I looked into having a professional painter texture the walls since we had zero experience but it was looking to be $400.  And with that, our cheap cost effective-selves decided we could just teach ourselves to texture.  No biggie… right?

And then wonder of all wonders, we discovered the “texture in a can” aisle at Home Depot.  Score!  As we looked from can to can, we couldn’t find any that resembled the texture on the rest of our house.  I went home and compared the texture we currently had to this website which showed various types of texturing techniques.  Bingo!  We had slapbrush or “crow’s feet” texture.  Here’s a sample:

As I dug into how to achieve this look, I soon discovered that there was no quick short cut from a can for this method.  We would need to buy a slapbrush (this bad boy), mix a drywall compound concoction and go to town stamping the walls and ceiling. Lucky us.

These two sites provided me with the best info for a quick Slapbrushing 101: eHow and Drywall School. Drywall school mentions rolling the compound on the entire wall then using the slapbrush but we found putting the compound on a tray, dipping the slapbrush in the tray, shaking it off a little, then stamping the wall was easier and a lot less messy.  I will say it was A LOT easier than we thought it would be and didn’t take too long either.  The hardest part is blending new texture in with a section of pre-existing texture.  Drywall School had a good tip though: Texture a first coat and then a second.  After the second coat, while the compound is still wet, take a wadded up plastic bag and tap the outside edge of the new texture.  After it dries, the edge will have blended in.  I haven’t tried this trick yet but fully intend to!

Once the texturing was done, we were onto the really hard part.  The wall color.  I am so proud to say that the first color I chose is still on the wall a year later!

I wanted a luxurious feel to the guest bath so I chose a teal, white, and gray color palate.  Teal for the walls and gray and white for the accessories.  It looks a bit bright and was a big step for me, the queen of light colors, but it really works against the muted background pieces (tan tile, tan granite, white tile, white shower curtain, gray towels).

You know how I know we did well?  The first thing Chris said when I had finally finished accessorizing the bathroom was- “looks like a swanky hotel.”  Holler.

His.

Successfully renovating your first room gives you something of a high; you gain a level of confidence that will probably get you into trouble later on down the line. Well, our guest bathroom turned out to be the end of that line. The powder room renovation had been a great success, and we decided to jump into the guest bath renovation only a few weeks later. Clearly, we were due for a reality check.

This bathroom had some major problems, but unlike the master bathroom, it was fully functional. For starters, it was the same dried-mustard color the powder room had been.

Second, it had this weird basin-like faucet that really threw people for a loop.

Everyone that used our bathroom came out saying, “dude, what’s with your faucet?”… but at least I know my friends wash their hands. Oh, and let’s not forget the furdown/fluorescent combo that made you feel like you were in a zombie movie. We had work to do.

First things first: the walls. Someone painted an ugly color over ugly wallpaper, so there were two layers of fail plastered to our walls. Great. We scoured Google for tips and came to a disturbing conclusion: this was going to be a lot of work. So we ran off to Home Depot hoping to find a magic solution to our woes, but left with some sort of spray goo and a small, handheld contraption that I assume was adapted from some sort of medieval torture device. And off to work we went.

Let me tell you, peeling painted wallpaper is frustrating, tedious, and gross. When the wallpaper stripper dissolves the old glue, you basically end up with some sort of mixture that is way too similar to snot. Combine that with the now-soaked paper remnants and it’s a little like peeling used kleenex off the wall. So you could say it was rather unpleasant.

Anyway, a whole weekend later, we were ready to move on to the next gremlin: the fluorescent light housed in a furdown. I love fluorescent lights in my work area but am not particularly fond of buzzing ballast while I brush my teeth. Julie, however, finds fluorescent lights to be severely unsettling in any location. Either way, this thing had to go. Julie was somewhat apprehensive about the idea of doing something so drastic as literally taking down part of the wall, but as she was rambling through some sort of panicked attempt at reasoning things out, I swung the hammer and was met with a disheartening thud. I had bad news: this thing was reinforced. Seriously, it wasn’t even three feet long and the light assembly couldn’t have weighed more than three pounds, but it was built like it was going to anchor an aircraft carrier. Great.

Within an hour or so, I managed to hammer away all of the drywall and had begun working on the deconstruction of the furdown frame. I was finally making some progress when I came across a particularly difficult hodgepodge of 2x4s when… CRACK! I broke my hammer. I BROKE MY HAMMER! This thing was designed to be smashed against stuff with as much force as you can swing it and it broke because some moron thought the guest bath furdown needed more fasteners and braces than the entire attic.

Enough crying, I still had work to do. I grabbed my steel hammer this time and finished tearing stuff out of the ceiling. I finally had most of the wood frame and was getting down to the wire (literally). All I had left to do was remove the final bits of framing and re-route the wires for the light so we could install a wall-mounted light. Below, you can see what was so frustrating about this thing- rather than integrate the furdown into the frame of the house, someone built it completely and then mounted it up before drywalling.

And now I can finally move into the “construction” phase!

Hers.

Exhibit A: A HOLE IN OUR CEILING!!  Commence the 24 hour freak out by Julie.

His.

I gave myself a crash-course in drywalling and went to work. Eventually, it started to look like a complete room again.

Once everything was textured and painted, I dropped a new countertop in. It’s identical to the one we installed in the powder room but the fact that it wasn’t wedged between two walls meant it was way easier to install. After switching out a few fixtures and some final touches, we could finally let people visit.

And for those of you struggling with your own DIY disasters, here’s a peek into what this room looked like for an entire week:

Anyway, I’m pretty satisfied with how everything turned out, especially since there were so many firsts: wallpaper removal, drywall patching, texturing, moving electrical, etc. The end result is fantastic when you consider all the learning curves, and we’re really happy with our work. After Julie picked out colors and accessories, it’s pretty swanky.

Hers.

Are you bursting with anticipation to see the final result?  Okay, okay.  Here’s the good stuff.

   

Best shower curtain ever.  Hands down.  It’s by DKNY from Bed Bath and Beyond.  It’s a nice, thick material (hooray for no transparency!) and has already survived a full year without beginning to look tattered.

   

We took down the builder grade mirror and installed this framed one from Garden Ridge.  It gives the bathroom an instant, custom look.

Ahh, look at that nice undermount sink covered by a granite counter that looks deceivingly custom but (*whisper: is actually a standard size so it’s a fourth of the cost of a custom one… woo-hoo!).

My newest obsession: apothecary jars.  Yummy.  I filled one with silk roses, another with french milled soap and a third with cream and blue wicker/floral ball accessories.

Nothing like a set of re-used, freshly painted cabinets along with a nice, shiny, new hardware.  Quick update success!

   

I had a great idea for the frame artwork.  I found two skyline pictures of the cities Chris and I were born in- Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX.  I converted the photos to black and white and sent them off to Walgreen’s to be printed.  Voilah- instant, inexpensive art!

Here’s the lowdown on what we did:

  • Freshly painted cabinets (color: China Cup by Behr)
  • A pop of teal on the walls (color: Blue Lagoon by Valspar)
  • New cabinet hardware ($4.40 each at Lowe’s)
  • New sink ($40 at a builder’s surplus warehouse)
  • New granite countertop ($199 at a builder’s surplus warehouse.  Hooray for having a standard size sink!)
  • New faucet ($68 at Home Depot)
  • New mirror (a Garden Ridge score for $65)
  • New baseboards
  • New towel bar (Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • New toilet paper holder (Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • New towel ring (Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • New towel peg on door (Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • New door
  • New light switch and outlet
  • New sconce ($59 at Lowe’s)
  • New toilet (added at a later date… more on that later)
  • Apothecary jars (Michael’s)
  • Scented french mill soap (Sample House)
  • Frames (Hobby Lobby)
  • Shower curtain ($59.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond)

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