Monday, May 30, 2011

-Snapshot Of The Week-

image “My mother used to tell this corny story about how the doctor smacked me on the behind when I was born and I thought it was applause, and I have been looking for it ever since.”
-Ms Kathy Bates
*Photo Credit Google Images*


Friday, May 27, 2011

Removing Window Valances (and other such fun!)

imageAs I’ve previously mentioned my home was built in the seventies but if you don’t believe me you will by the end of this instalment involving our latest renos. The first part of most DIY renovations or really any renovation for that matter is typically the demolition which I always thought looked sort of fun when I watched design shows. Well I wasn’t wrong about that; ripping up the old to make room for the new is definitely fun but I wasn’t prepared for the workout it would give me. I can still feel the aftermath in arms and legs now, geeeesh talk about muscles. I’m a fairly girly-girl kind of lady in most ways. I like pink and lace, I don’t like to get dirty and I’m made of pure sugar and spice but after this past week, I’ve been feeling more like the “We Can Do It” lady (maybe just replace the bandana with a tiara or cute flower beret). It was all new territory for me to do this sort of hands-on work. Let me walk you through what we’ve been up to around our little casa.
   IMG_0047Right now our home consists of a mix of items we’ve collected over the years, mostly hand-me downs to get us through the ‘empty pocket’ college years. It’s a bit of a mish-mash but we’re working on bringing it all together. This was our living room pre-demo phase. Notice the heavy window valance looming like a storm cloud to the left. It stuck out even farther than this picture would have you believe and I felt it was an eye sore and needed to go. Even at twenty-something I still tend to do as my Mother tells me even if I don’t want to because I trust her judgement more than my own (and I somewhat lack a backbone with her) but when she told me she loved the valances and I should leave them be I just couldn’t give in. I knew they were going to make me shudder every time I entered the room no matter what other things I did to improve it. Sorry Mom, but I just can’t do it. I wanted to get pretty curtain hardware and hang some drapes to frame them out but a valance hides the rod and forces you to hang your drapes at the pre-determined height. No one tells me how to hang my curtains! (Sorry, I think there may be a secret Jersey girl hidden deep inside my Canadian shell)
IMG_0054This is the opposite side of the room and as you can see there is another valance on this end. Not only are they in this room but they (of course *SIGH*) hang over every single window in the house with the exception of the small bathroom and kitchen windows. And yes that is a tacky vertical blind hanging from the valance. It was left behind from the previous owner and hangs there as a temporary solution …and reminder of how far interior design has come. The valances really dated the space and made it feel smaller and older than the fresh young hipsters living inside. Ok, well hipsters is a bit of a stretch, I couldn’t tell you a single song on the billboard charts right now but I have an iPhone and I’ll shop at Anthropologie so that’s close enough. One thing I really loved about this house is the fact that it had two gigantic windows facing each other in the living room. The amount of natural light we get in this room is off the chain during the day (do people still say off the chain?) So I think when you have a great feature like natural light it’s all the more reason to play it up and make it an eye-grabber. Aka: Buh-bye window valances!
IMG_0099Ahhh but I spoke too soon. Apparently these valances didn’t want to go down without a fight so they were going to throw their best 70’s era tricks my way. Round one was a culture classic: genuine wood paneling. Well, actually round one was probably that ugly tile trim I talked about earlier so this is more like round two but anyway I digress. We considered coming at the paneling in so many different ways. The previous owners just painted green over it, I’m guessing they didn’t want to deal with it either. I gave it a thought of my own but decided my final plans just wouldn’t look right if we left it and painted over top. We considered filling it in with some form of plaster or thin board but again, too big a risk of it not matching and looking awful and then we’d be back at square one. So after much discussion and Advil we landed on “tear it out!” It was actually really fun to rip this stuff out, one thing I would recommend though is some gloves because splinters will happen. We had some concerns about the quality of the drywall underneath the panels and whether or not we would have to re-do the entire wall but we majorly lucked out on that front. They didn’t use glue on the main wall, just a trillion small nails that ripped through the panels and remained behind in the dry wall. As you can see, my trusty hammer and I took swift care of that problem (excuse the PJs, we work hard and we work late).
IMG_0103This side of the paneling did unfortunately have glue behind it but we were ok with that extra work because it was far less than what we expected. Count those blessings where you can find them! My fella worked on this wall and ripped down the extra tough bits like the glued panels while I worked away at the long back wall. It’s kind of strange, once we got deep into this project we were so quiet the whole time and just worked away at our solo endeavours. At one point our friends stopped by and commented, “you don’t even have music playing or anything?” We were just too in the zone I suppose; FOCUS!
IMG_0113After we finished getting all the paneling off we discovered a few little surprises from owners of years past. A couple little doodles were on our walls. Surely Deb thought she was doing an interior design justice for this house when she put up this horrid paneling but for a moment I wished I could travel back in time and tell her to save us the future work. Oh well, the happy face cheered me up between grunts, thanks Deb!
IMG_0104Cute or creepy? I kept feeling like he was watching me. Perhaps plotting?
IMG_0110  The glue removal took an insane amount of time. I plastered the entire house in the amount of time it took my fella to scrape the gunk off the walls. To be fair though, he is an extreme perfectionist. It’s always good to have one of those on your team FYI.
IMG_0105After we got through with the wood paneling removal and clean up we had a huge stack of junk for our next dump trip but we were finally free to get started on valance removal. We weren’t really sure how to come at this project either. We tried to research it but there really wasn’t much out there and we had no clue what to expect to find underneath. So after a lot of back and forth we said ‘what the heck!’ and dove in head first.
IMG_0106We went for the tug and pull and yank with all your might approach. I wanted to avoid sledgehammers because I could foresee a very smashed window with one wrong swing. Not the kind of demo I was going for.
IMG_0109Eventually we started to see results …and fiber glass and dead spiders.
IMG_0108 It certainly wasn’t pretty underneath. We had blown insulation so a lot of the fiber glass poured out when we ripped off the top piece of wood you see in the picture above that connects to the ceiling. It was easy enough to collect up and put back in the attic though. We wound up using an electric saw to get out the big pieces of wood and then we repeated this long process on the other side of the room
IMG_0115 In the end we were left with a less than attractive back wall and two huge gaps on the walls adjacent. At this point it started to feel a little overwhelming and I wondered if we ‘dove in’ a little too quickly.
image I half expected Mike Holmes would catch wind of ‘construction ignorance’ afoot and show up to slap our wrists and tell us we’ve done it wrong.
IMG_0116But Mike stayed home and my worry floated away once my fella started getting the dry wall pieces together to fill the hideous holes. He’s an engineer so I thought for sure this would at least be a breeze for sure; the man knows his measurements. The shot above is his first attempt. First of many.
IMG_0118It didn’t take long to realize the piece didn’t fit and sanding was in order. Apparently walls and ceilings are perfectly equal and straight structures, go figure.
IMG_0121 But being the man he is, I knew not to fret and I was right. He got both sides dry walled and ready to be plastered by the end of the day.
    DSC08121We ended up with this new look in our living room which I was happier about than the exposed studs and fiber glass look we were sporting the day before.
DSC08122There was a few gaps here and there to fill in but with the help of some tape and dry wall spackle we made quick work of it.
DSC08156We’re now at this stage of the valance removal which I like to call “watching puddy dry.” It takes quite a while to let this stuff dry and my fella being so anal about perfection rushes nothing so now it’s more of a waiting game while I watch him apply coat after meticulous coat. He actually ran out today and couldn’t finish the entire third coat. 

DSC08171This is how it’s looking from a far. I can already feel the huge change in the room. The space feels so much bigger and open now.
DSC08125This is the opposite wall which was our second time around doing the dry wall so it went much quicker.
DSC08124 Our living room is looking pretty shabby at the moment but that’s the price you pay when you refuse to let some cheeky valances make a fool of you. Who’s laughing now?…
    DSC08164Definitely not my poor red Ikea chair that failed to get covered up and became a victim of sanding dust-itis. Thank goodness for vacuums with furniture attachments. Not to worry, the chair survived and is living happily in a separate room now.

So this is where we’re leaving it for now. Still lots of work to be done in preparation to paint but I can feel us getting ever so closer. By Friday we should be ready to prime everything and then we will be in business this weekend with paint gear in hand. I have some special plans for these walls so stay tuned for more adventures in first time reno havoc.
*Photo credit Pinterest and Reckless Bliss*

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tile Trim... I'll Pass.

IMG_0087I love my little house for a lot of reasons but this tile trim is not one of them. All through my kitchen and hallways you can find this less than stellar trim around the base of our walls. Not only is it ugly but it’s also not installed very well. Lots of crooked lines and gaps. As soon as we saw the house I knew I would be removing this unsightly mess for something a little more this century. So last week I picked up a hammer and chisel and decided it was time what with the on-coming painting ahead of us. I severely under-estimated just how long it was going to take us to be ready to paint because there’s SO much prep we have to endure but we’re chugging along and getting closer everyday. For now let’s take a look at the first step I took:

IMG_0088I have to say I was a little apprehensive to get started at first because it was my very first official project as a home owner and I’ve never really used grown up tools for anything before if you can believe that. However, once I started boy howdy, there was no stopping me. I was a chiselling machine!

IMG_0098It felt really good to hammer away and get results. I could take out my deep seeded aggressions while advancing on fixing up our digs. As I got more and more tile off the walls the pride swelled along with the junk pile.

IMG_0093 By the time I was done I had a ten thousand pound garbage bag of hideous white tile and throbbing red hands but it didn’t compare to by puffed chest and highly held head. I am woman, hear me roar! Anyways, let’s move on…

IMG_0090The walls didn’t look much better when I was done. It was very dusty and obviously pretty worse for the wear but sadly it wasn’t much uglier than the tile that stood in its place before.
IMG_0089It took a looong time and a lot of me scooting my butt around the cold tiled floors. It was in need of some serious sanding but I thought this was enough for one afternoon.

IMG_0120  I’ve since sanded it smooth and applied plaster to even it out for baseboard prep which only encouraged my obnoxious newly found pride. It felt like spread marshmallow puff but I found it very calming to do.
IMG_0091  The project was not without it’s snags though. I couldn’t plaster this deep little doozie. I guess I don’t know my own strength but I ended up ripping a hefty chunk of drywall off the wall with one of the tiles. That has been left for my fella to patch up with some new drywall. I’m feeling courageous but not to that degree just yet. 
IMG_0097  One thing that got me giddy was this hysterical wallpaper I found in the kitchen behind the tiles. The house was built in the 1970’s so I wasn’t shocked to see this but I felt strangely sentimental about it. I couldn’t bring myself to toss it out because I couldn’t stop picturing the little 70’s family having breakfast in the kitchen to the backdrop of this original paper. How could I banish the sweet memory of those who have loved my home before me? I know, I’m a little nuts but get used to it because I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.  So I think I’m going to save this little African shaped piece of groovy papers and include it in some sort of future project.

Stay tuned for more reno excitement as I bring you  along on our adventures in window valance removal, dry walling and (if we ever actually get to it) painting!

*Photos are property of Reckless Bliss*

Saturday, May 21, 2011

-Snapshot Of The Week-

image “Better to be without logic than without feeling.”
-Ms Charlotte Bronte
*Photo credit Google Images*


Monday, May 16, 2011

Picking Paint Colors

imageLast Friday my fella and I went on our 668th trip to Home Depot this month to pick up some samples of our top paint color picks for the living room/kitchen and the master bedroom. Being the cheapies that we are I declined the .5 cent bag offer at the cashier and insisted I could handle carrying all the samples in my arms no prob. Approx 30 seconds later I was looking down at a splattered mess and feeling my face turn red. They were kind enough to give me a re-do sample on the house and this time I was extra careful as I high tailed it outta there before you could say “whoops!”
image Right now the color palette for the home is very unsettling and harsh. I don’t want to post before pictures just yet but the living room is a dark foresty green, the dining/kitchen and hall area are a bright in your face sky blue and the master bedroom is a puddle colored brown. Definitely in need of a big change to reach the look I would like to achieve. So after some prepping with primer against the oil based paint that was already on the walls we applied the four colors. We went with ‘Pillar’ from CIL and ‘Hickory’ from Martha Stewart for the living areas, ‘Heavy Goose’ and ‘Nimbus Cloud’ both from Martha Stewart for the master bedroom. I thought I could color match Martha’s colors to CIL to save a few bucks but apparently ole’ Martha created her collection to never be color matched exactly. Very savvy of her but a bit irksome to discover since her paint doesn’t have the primer already built-in either so that’s an added expense we wouldn’t need with CIL paint.

Here’s how the colors looked against the dark green living room walls:
On the left is CIL’s Pillar and on the right is Martha’s Hickory.
IMG_0086  We settled on the lighter left color Pillar from CIL (take that Martha!). Not only is it a high quality paint that is also less expensive than Martha’s line but it also felt much more open and relaxing which is what I’m aiming for with the palette for our home. I took these pictures at around 11pm so they are fairly dark but it’s a really creamy light beige.

Here’s a small shot from my long narrow hallway painted in the sky blue:
IMG_0082  There’s no direct natural light in this hallway so I think Pillar is going to do an amazing job to make it feel warm and homey.
IMG_0079Hickory definitely feels too dark, it’s very close in the color to my master bedroom which I really dislike so why recreate it?

IMG_0080  This is the dining area at night with the pendant light on. Once again we have a clear winner and thus, Pillar (with the $ saving built-in primer) beats out Martha with a 1-2 punch.

Now onto the master boudoir where I choose some silvery grey tones to cover the dirty brown color:
IMG_0076 Looking at them dead on they take on slightly different colors than intended to me but my fella insists it’s in my head. Every grey has different tones and shades that compose it so it will at times look like another color, it’s truly the hardest color to pick and pick right. Sometimes it’s greener or you see some purple but I think most often it comes across a little blue in it’s tone. The left is Heavy Goose which I found to be more blueish at times and the darker shade on the right is Nimbus Cloud which at times felt a bit green to me.

IMG_0074 It was important to me that when I choose colors for the house they all mingled well together and flowed nicely from room to room. For instance walking down the creamy beige “Pillar” hallway into a bright orange bedroom would obviously be too big a shock. Grey was a natural choice to stay in line with the calm yet welcoming color palette I’d like for our home.
IMG_0077After much debate we settled on the lighter Heavy Goose. So Martha gets a point for this round but I knew she would since they are both from her collection. I have three more rooms just begging for some paint so we’ll have to wait and see who prevails in the final round.
We’ll be living with the colors all this week just to be sure that they look good in every light. Then this weekend we will be having at it and painting our hearts out. I’ll be sure to post some before and afters of the whole job.

*Picture credit Reckless Bliss, Pinterest and Google Images*

Sunday, May 15, 2011

-Snapshot Of The Week-

image   “No matter what your choices are, you truly have no control about what people think of you.”
-Ms Neve Campbell

*Picture Credit Google Images*


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Your Marks, Get Set….. Renovate!

image Well, moving day came and went and we’ve nestled in to our new abode. It took some getting use to I must admit -it’s always weird to live somewhere new at first- but it’s slowly becoming our little nest. Things I never did in an apartment I now do with a skip in my step. I’ve walked down to our mail box, I’ve brought the garbage to the curb, I’ve purchased some flowers and herbs for my new garden and I’ve installed a fancy new door handle. I could get use to this new home owner life real fast.
image One thing I anticipated (and welcomed) was having a blank canvas for my personal decor tastes but I cannot bloomin’ believe how much my mind has been racing with ideas! Everywhere I look I see something I want to do, something I want to change, something I want to paint. It just courses through me no matter what I’m doing or where I am. As you can imagine I haven’t gotten much sleep. One thing I am finding difficult is focus. Where does one start when one has so many items on a wish list? Having just laid out more smacka-roos than I care to count for these new digs, money isn’t exactly pouring in. So the ‘obvious’ answer seemed like the ‘biggest impact’ answer and ‘least expensive’ answer too. Paint of course!
photo I thought I had a lot of choices before but geeee-eeesh! I strutted into Home Depot with a cool head thinking I had it all under control; a palette in mind and an eye for just the right color. Oh, how naive I am. Struck by a rainbow of paint chips in every shade imaginable I suddenly started to feel dizzy. Have you ever smelled a bunch of different perfumes and they all eventually started to smell the exact same. That’s how my eyes were feeling and there is no coffee bean trick for that. After grabbing about a thousand chips in anything and everything I thought may look good somewhere I booked it out of there with my tail between my legs. That’s my overwhelming load of chips above I sifted through when I got back home.
image After some cut throat axing we’ve ruled out the no-gos and narrowed down our favorite paint colors. We’d like to keep it neutral and go with a nice beigey grey in the living space/kitchen. I’m trying to keep in mind re-sale appeal as well as what will go best with various styles as holidays come and go or my moods change (which happens quite a bit!). A neutral beige is the easiest way to accommodate my needs so it was our jumping off point. With budget in mind we decided to forget about Benjamin Moore for now and go a little easier on the ole’ pocket book. We choose our faves from CIL and Martha Stewart’s paint lines (is there anything that woman doesn’t have her name stamped on?).
These were our top picks:
“Hickory” from Martha Stewart 
“Toasted Marshmallow” from Martha Stewart
beachcomber cil “Beachcomber” from Cil
  “Pillar” from Cil
The last two are actually reading much more grey here than they look on the swatches but I’ll be picking up some samples this weekend and living with it for a week before investing in gallons of the stuff to coat our home so I’ll know for sure. One thing I’ve learned over years of absorbing decor tips into my noggin is it’s important to not just choose a color while standing in the paint department as hard as it may be. Patience is key for overall satisfaction. You should get the samples, put them on your walls in big splotches and live with them for at least a few days so you can see how they look in natural light and low light and all those other different kinds of light that fills your home throughout the day. Paint never looks the exact same every moment of the day, it will always change shades depending on the time of day.
image image
So that’s my weekend plans as well as celebrating a bestie’s bday and some gardening with my mother in-law who I’m hoping will give me some hot tips on exactly how to put that verb gardening into action. I have yet to grow anything but my hair and finger nails so I am excited to get started and soak up her wisdom.
What’s your thoughts on paint? Any insights or favorite never-fail colors? Share!