Aug 14 2012

The carpet installation

After working so hard the day (and night!) before the carpet installers came, the room looked like this:

Here is my one sneaky picture of the carpet installers doing their job (which I took when I was at home over the lunch break to nurse the baby):

And here is the carpet installed in all its glorious lushness!


These are apparently called “Hollywood stairs” according to the work order.

The little dude enjoying the carpet…

Aug 13 2012

Den Progress in Pictures

So, here are the pictures of the den remodel in progress. We were very happy to have the help of a friend of Kelly for the heavy lifting when it came to the drywall. They hustled the day before the carpet installation was scheduled and got a ton finished.

Knocking down the drywall, making a mess

All the drywall down, in the light of day, revealing a disaster area!

Spray foam insulation around the air conditioning unit, which used to be open to the outside!

After the demo cleanup.

Starting on the insulation

More insulation around the A/C unit.

More insulation!

Hooray for friends that come over to help. Thanks, Rob!

Some areas needed to have further 2×4 braces added in because the areas were too wide for the insulation.

Friends are needed for the heavy drywall part of the renovation.

Taping drywall

Mudding drywall

Skip came to help and he got to work removing the metal stair rail.

They worked like crazy that Sunday because the carpet installers were coming on Monday. Here is the cat inspecting the room.

Here is the other side of the room, ready for carpet. They only installed drywall to where it touched the floor, so that they could get what they needed to do done before the carpet people came.

Next post: the carpet gets installed!

Aug 10 2012

Our “Project Creep” Den Remodel

So, yeah, we are remodeling our den. What was going to be just a simple carpet installation has via “project creep” turned into a major renovation.


The den the day we had the inspection

With the impending crawling, pulling up and walking of the little guy, we decided we needed to recarpet the den. What was there when we moved in was a really cheap, thin, ugly, stained carpet over half of the concrete floor. Not an area conducive to toddlers falling down. There were times when we were playing on the floor when it became uncomfortable for me to simply sit on it. And that was with the carpet, area rug and baby quilt. So: new carpet it is, with a nice thick carpet pad.

The den right before we moved all the furniture out of it

Kelly decided that he would skim coat the janky walls and paint before the carpet was installed (we didn’t want to attempt to DIY a carpet install, and Home Depot had a good deal on installation…). However, when I was still with the baby in Michigan at my parents’ house, I get a text telling me that a friend of his was trying to convince him to insulate the walls and what did I think?

Well, since this room is not on the central AC or heat, it has always been HOT in the summer and COLD in the winter. If we were going to make this room’s floor a nice place for the baby to play, we might as well make the temperature good too. So I gave Kelly the go-ahead. The next thing I knew I had gotten a text message with a picture of a big hole in the wall. And it just got worse from there. But, like I said in the previous post, it always has to get worse before it gets better.

There’s a hole in the wall, dear Liza

Next post: pictures of the process…

Jul 29 2012

It has to get worse before it gets better





What was going to be a fairly simple carpet installation in the den has turned into “project creep.”  More later, as this develops…

May 19 2012

Nursery Before and Afters

Here are a few before and after shots of the nursery. It’s come a long way!

(The before shots were from the day we had our house inspection before we closed on the house.)

May 18 2012

Further Nursery Plans

Ok, so I’ve talked before about how we are working on the nursery in phases.

Phase 1 was really the biggest: we had to basically gut the room from the floor to the ceiling. All the window trim needed to be scraped, caulked, primed and painted.

Here you can see the difference between the cleaned up window trim on the inside and the ugly messy peeling window trim on the outside

While phase 1 did include all the pretty colors and furniture, it was a mainly a lot of hard work. But there is a bit more to go. Here are the next few phases that we want to work on.

Phase 2 is mainly the closet area. We took down the closet door so that we could have room on the main door wall for a dresser. The closet door wouldn’t have opened all the way if it had. However, we need to work a bit on that closet area still. If you can see from the picture, the trim around the door only exists on the right hand side. (Why? Who knows. There are a lot of things about our old house that don’t make sense to us. Previous owners did strange things, like painting the kitchen trim with a flat black paint. Who does that? Strange previous owners, that’s who.)

Anyway, we are going to finish the trim around the closet door, and also trim out the cubby area. Those cubbies were created in a space that used to hold a chimney. The previous owners took out the chimney (which was for a stove in the kitchen, we suspect. This house was built in 1916, remember…) and just screwed some ugly plywood into the wall to create the cubby area. Great concept, bad execution. As well as adding trim around the cubby area, we want to finish off the shelf edges with a bullnose trim. Anyway, here’s a simple Photoshop rendering of what the trim might look like when we are done.

The other thing we have to do in the closet is on the inside. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of that – it’s really kind of ugly. (Oh wait! I found one!) Basically on the inside of the closet there is icky fake paneling (like the kind we demoed when we worked on our downstairs bathroom. Behind the paneling is the same 1″ by 10″ wood planking that pretty much makes up the entire structure of our house. (You can see more of what that looks like here in our downstairs bathroom). We’re just going to paint the entire inside of the closet white and install some kind of shelving system (yet to be determined). Right now the shelving system we inherited with the closet is a couple of pieces of wood nailed to each side of the closet with a broom handle resting on top of that. Classy.

Phase 3 of the nursery means a couple of things. Crown molding first of all. Kelly didn’t paint up to the ceiling because he knew that we would eventually add crown molding. He wants to create molding similar to the square, chunky molding we have in the living and dining rooms.

Phase 3 (or perhaps sooner, if we can find a good deal) will also include a new ceiling fan and light for the room. Right now the light is missing a shade and the ceiling fan is too small for the size of the room. I’m thinking a simple white ceiling fan to blend in with the ceiling, not stand out from it, is the best choice.

The biggest part of phase 3 will be the wall of built-ins on the bathroom wall. Here’s the way it looks now:

And here’s Kelly’s rough (he wants to emphasize the ROUGH part) mock-up of what the built-ins will look like.

There will be bookshelves on both sides and over the top of the door. To the left of the shelves will be a built-in writing desk and above that will be cupboards. To the left of that is the 8 inch wide area that will enclose the heating vent pipe that runs right through the room. The pipe is double insulated, so we only need 1-inch clearance around it. Since the pipe isn’t the depth of the other cabinets, we will have some room to play around with making some smaller cubbies in front of the pipe. Perhaps I’ll paint the backs of those ones blue as well! And then to the far left will be some more cupboard space that will be tall enough to have hanging clothes as well. The whole thing will be built out of pre-primed MDF and will tie into the crown molding in the rest of the room and be trimmed out really nicely.

That’s the plan, at least. It might change, but we’ll keep you posted.

May 16 2012

Nursery Reveal

Ok, the time is here! Here are the pictures of the finished nursery! (Ok, “Phase 1″ finished… but still…)

I wanted to create a bright and cheerful room that could work for either a boy or a girl. I didn’t want it to be “themey” but rather based around color, so I found some fabric that I based the whole room around. We ended up using this fabric for the curtains.

I loved the greens and blues in it. The curtains were made by my mother-in-law and have a band of turquoise at the bottom. There are a lot of windows in the room and it required a lot of fabric.

We picked a nice cheery yellow for the walls – Glidden’s Buttercup, color-matched to Benjamin Moore paint (the only paint my husband thinks is worth anything…) and used some of Behr’s Bamboo Leaf and Peacock Feather for other accents in the room (we’ll get to those later).

We bought the bamboo roman shades at Home Depot and cut them to the width of the windows. We can never find exact matches for the old windows in our house and these shades are easy to cut to size.

We found both the sofa and the ottoman on Craigslist. The pillows are from Target (green & blue), Pier One (yellow) and the bigger quilted ones were made by my mother and my cousin.

The quilted pillow uses some of the curtain fabric

I found the side table on Craigslist and it was already refinished with dark turquoise legs! I didn’t have to do a thing to it! The green table lamp is from Target.

The crib is the Sundvik crib from IKEA. White and simple and inexpensive. We opted for simple white mesh breathable bumpers and rotate pale green, blue and yellow crib sheets from Target.

My mother sewed the crib skirt, from a coordinating fabric in the same line as the curtain fabric:

The art over the crib on the long window wall was a gift from my mother-in-law. It’s from Petit Collage, and while I’m not sure where she bought those, I know you can find it on Etsy. The other art is the cross-stitch birth announcement lovingly made by my mother. She’s been making cross-stitch birth announcements for years for numerous friends and family and I gave her a challenge with this one. I think a lot of child-oriented cross-stitch design is too overly sentimental or kitschy, so I found a neat Etsy shop that sells simple graphic bird and animal cross-stitch patterns and together we came up with a design combining several of the patterns and using the colors of the room.

We found the glider on Craigslist too – and I’m still considering recovering it, as the gray is the only gray in the room. Haven’t quite decided what to do yet. The teal blanket was crocheted by a co-worker of mine, who had absolutely NO idea that the color fits PERFECTLY in the room. We love it.

The mobile was a gift from my mother-in-law. She bought it at a local art gallery.

The tiny little rocking chair was my sisters’ and mine when we were little. I can’t wait for Marc to be old enough to sit in it!

I painted the backs of the cubbies with the Peacock feather color and some of the cubbies hold Marc’s amazing, growing library and some others have some awesome storage bins from Target. The top one holds keepsakes – his baptismal candle, several outfits I want to save – the middle one holds receiving blankets and burp cloths and the bottom one holds toys.

We took the door off of the closet and I sewed (with help from my mother-in-law!) the curtain to cover the door. It’s made from this fabric:

The dresser/changing table was one more Craigslist find and was a beat up old brown dresser with ugly handles and cracked drawer bottoms. My dad sanded and primed the dresser and I painted it with the Bamboo Leaf color and then the drawers with a gradation in color (we added varying amounts of white to the base color to get the other colors) to create a cool ombre effect. Kelly replaced the drawer bottoms and refaced the insides of the drawers. I love the way it looks, though, it’s an old dresser and has the quirks and stickiness of an old dresser.

I found some old baskets lying around the house and have all of Marc’s cloth diapers and liners stacked up in them and easily accessible.

I think the art wall is pretty fun and features a lot of my DIY projects. I found the mirror at a local thrift store. It was plastic and and ugly dark green. I painted it turquoise, as you can see. I also painted the wooden letters on the shelf and decoupaged the scrapbook paper on the M hanging on the wall. The art is from Etsy, mainly. The “Let the Wild Rumpus Start!” from “Where the Wild Things Are” quote is from rawartletterpress, the airplane is from UrbanTickle (it says “I hope that even the sky is not the limit for you”) and the M is for Monkey is from SeaUrchinStudio. The cross was from Marc’s godparents on the occasion of his baptism. The other painting on the shelf was painted in 1999 by my flatmate when I was living overseas in Croatia. It’s a simple painting of the Croatian coastline and the colors work perfectly in the room!

You can see the door wall here, where we painted the chalkboard door and where we do Marc’s monthly picture taking.

I painted an old coat hook rack that was originally in the room hanging on the door with the blue paint and when Marc’s old enough, he can hang his coats there. Right now I’ve got a few sentimental pieces of clothing hanging on it. The purple outfit was knitted by Marc’s godmother after I complained about how all the purple clothes were on the girls’ side of the store. Boys can wear purple! The red sweater was knitted by his godfather. It’s a gorgeous Scandinavian design and has a hat, mittens and socks that go along with it. He wore the sweater on his baptism day. The lion outfit belonged to Marc’s uncle – his namesake – when he was an infant in the 60s.

I stretched this Amy Butler fabric over some wood to create art on the wall next to the door:

Now, you’re probably wondering what the heck is with the other wall in the room and why there are no pictures of it yet! Well, that’s because it’s the part of the room that’s not finished yet and won’t be until Phase 2 – or possibly Phase 3. But, just so you can see it, here it is:

Sad, I know. That green and blue bunting was actually the original inspiration for the room. It hung at our wedding and gave me the idea to do a room using green and blue. When this wall is finished, it will most likely still hang there, just over the wall of built-in cabinets that we are planning.

Right now this wall houses the wet diaper pail (that door is the door to the bathroom where we rinse out Marc’s cloth diapers so it’s very handy to have the pail right there) and a few of Marc’s bigger toys.

Oh, I just realized here that you can see the carpet that we have in the room in this picture – we chose teal carpet tiles from Flor. We ended up not making a full 8×10 rug out of them – I think Kelly wanted to show off more of the gleaming hardwood floors he worked so hard on!

By the way, that cradle was made by my father for my sister when she was a baby! Now it is holding Roar Bear (my teddy bear as a child) and Marc’s special Peter Rabbit (made by my mother for my little sister) and a sock monkey.

So, that’s the nursery. I’m absolutely in love with this room. It’s my favorite place in the whole house. It’s so bright and cheerful and happy and I think it reflects Marc’s happy little personality.

What do you think?

Bright and cheery room!

Happy little boy!

May 5 2012

The skullcap is blooming!

I posted earlier about our hopes that the skullcap we planted last year along the walkway would bloom this year. And look what I discovered coming home from work one day last week!


Now I’ve just got to find the time to get into the beds along the walkway and around the live oak tree and weed. It’s getting kind of crazy in there.

Apr 26 2012

Nursery: Phase 1 and 2

Are you getting sick of nursery updates yet, but not a “Finally, the nursery is finished!” update? I think I am…

Although, it’s going to be a while before I can really say “this nursery is DONE” because really, we’re only working right now on Nursery: Phase 1. Nursery: Phase 1 will be done when the baby is sleeping, nursing, getting changed, etc. in the room. To finish that up, the dresser needs a few tweaks and the clothes finally put in it and the closet curtain needs to go up. We are so almost there.

However, Nursery: Phase 2 will include

  • Installing crown molding
  • Finishing out the trim around the closet and the cubbies
  • Designing and building a wall of built-in bookshelves and cupboards along the bathroom door wall

That might take a while yet. So while we are almost done with Nursery Phase 1, know that it will be a while yet before the Nursery is completely done.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the recent updates:

Putting up art above the unfinished dresser

There’s a little taste of the dresser to come. I promise it is really cool!

Putting up art above the area where the crib will be

The crib is there now – and there’s a little boy sleeping through the night in it!

Sewing the closet curtain

My mother-in-law is finishing it up, which is awesome.

Getting the cubbies painted and arranged

Yes, the top cubby isn’t painted all the way to the top. I couldn’t reach it. That needs Kelly’s doing. Oh, the other thing is that we’ve moved that rocker out of the nursery. We needed to have a rocking chair downstairs for when my mother-in-law watches the baby during the week, so we moved this one downstairs. I found a rocker/glider on Craigslist for $40 and it’s in there now. It’s got a nice neutral dark gray fabric on it, but I’m thinking I may need to do a little reupholstering. I need to find a nice heavy-weight fabric for it though.

So there it is. Nursery: Phase 1 almost complete.

Apr 17 2012


Now, something not nursery related! (Although, we are very near completion of Nursery Phase 1… more posts on that in the near future…) This post is something I should have written up a year ago. But better late than never!

Do you remember when we dug up the ivy in our front yard? We found concrete planter boxes buried underneath the ivy and soil. Well, we decided to use them to plant some bushes in so that we had a nice line of plants along the walkway to the front porch. After consulting our garden expert (my mother-in-law) we decided to plant Skullcap, which is a flowering shrub which is native to this region. I had gotten a gift certificate to a local nursery for my birthday last February, so used it to buy enough Skullcap to line the two planters. Then, on a nice day in April last year, Kelly, my mother-in-law and the teenager got to work planting them.

First they got rid of all the weeds and roots in the planter beds

They lined them all up where they should be planted

Digging in

Jack helped

All planted and watered

Eventually, we’d love to break up that wide swath of concrete walkway with a more organic flagstone path. We love how wide the walkway is, it makes the house look so gracious.

Little did we know that when we planted them, we’d have a record-breaking drought over the summer, with over 100 days over 100 degrees and basically no rain.

But our little skullcaps were hardy plants! We didn’t water them a ton – just a good soak once every few weeks, like we did our Zoysia grass lawn (which is also adapted to high heat climates) – and they pulled through like champions. Only one plant died out of more than twenty that were planted.

A few months ago, my mother-in-law did a little guerrilla pruning and they began to bush out like crazy. Here’s hoping for some blooms this year!

All grown up!

Bushing out

Looking down the walkway

We only lost one plant over the summer