Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Project: Our Sinking Porch

Hi all!

Going by the title, you may be asking why we're starting another project when you have yet to see the finished master bedroom and closet.

You would be right to ask.

We did finish the principal parts of the bedroom and managed to move ourselves into it a mere 3 weeks before baby girl arrived, however since then life has been hectic and right now if I were to take pix, it would only look like a room a tornado hit.'ll be a bit yet before a "final reveal". Though it still won't really be final, as we've yet to secure furniture such as side tables, a headboard, etc...but you get the idea.

Now that it's already nearing the end of October and winter is just around the corner, we have turned our attention to our front porch. The footings in the middle and corner have both been in disrepair even before we bought the home, and it's sunk a lot more in the past year we've lived here (snowmageddon didn't help with that either). It's high time we fixed it!

...and as we discovered this past week when we opened it up to analyze the damage a bit closer, it's none too soon!

We took off the aluminum siding and chicken wire framing and found rotted wood.

Worse still, the corner pier is literally crumbling.

One of the main supporting beams is even resting on a part of the footing that's about to fall!

We need to jack the porch, add new footings, replace rotted beams, and fix the floorboards.


To work we go...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Simple Ideas for a Cozy Fall Decor Living Room

Can you believe it, folks?! Fall is officially upon us! ...which I’m excited about because it is hands-down my favorite season! Fall has the perfect-temperature weather, blue skies, colorful leaves, lots of Autumn festivals (and auctions, hehe)...not to mention my birthday is in the Fall! ;) Just as we're trading our blouses for woolen cardigans and flip flops for our leather boots, as the weather becomes cooler I am reaching for things in my home to cozy up to and that subtly reflect the change in seasons outside. Our living room is where my family and I spend a lot of our time, especially the evenings. To make it an extra lovely spot to gather together this Fall, there's some very simple and inexpensive home decor ideas I've pulled together as a mood board to cozy-up your home with pieces from Arhaus as my inspiration. Before we get to the décor, I want to first address something I call the “base” for your room and the difference between a room's base and decor. Base: all large furniture (sofa, rug, tables, bed, etc) Décor: easily replaced, smaller, and/or less expensive items (curtains, pillows, blankets, lamps, mirrors, wall art, etc) It's important to mentally separate your room's base from the décor when planning any room, especially as the base is the most important. When furnishing a room, use items that you love and are neutral in color; beige, gray, tan, or white is a great neutral base color. Big “base” pieces such as a sofa are expensive and therefore you want them to be flexible with changes in décor; a neutral color will ensure that your large pieces will last through at least a decade of style and home decor trends. (for some ideas to shop for, here's a page dedicated to neutral sofas) I've placed our existing sofa, rug, and coffee table, all neutral colors and a style I love, into the mood board and then branched off from there with Fall décor from Arhaus Furniture that can easily be switched out.

arhaus living rm mood board -2016.jpg
Source list: Arhaus drapery, lamp, fur throw, leather chair, pillow, candles, map wall art
In this season I'm immediately reaching for plush throw blankets and exchanging summer’s bright colored or white pillows for more thick and natural fabrics such as wools, leather, or fur. Curtains made of heavier fabrics such as velvet are hung to keep out the chill and give the room a layered and plush feel. With the shorter amount of daylight, extra attention is paid to indoor lighting's ability to set a mood in a room for the evening; besides a warm glow at night, table lamps that have crystals or glass bases are a great choice as they reflect light even on cloudy days. Last but not least, nature-inspired birch candles are a fun addition! Any other simple ideas for making a room feel cozy? Chime-in in the comments below! Be sure to subscribe as well!

Let Me Introduce Our New Family Member! (a.k.a. Why I've Been Absent)

Hi all! Unless you've been following me on Instagram, long time no see!

I have a good reason. ;)

Our healthy lil girl was born in our home a little over a month ago on August 30th, weighing 6 lbs. 5 oz, and as you can imagine life has been full of adjustments!

I want to write-up her whirlwind birth story for another post - hopefully I'll get the chance before she's a year old, hehe.

Slowly, veeery slowly we're resurfacing back into the public sphere, so I'll be blogging a bit again this month, including another post later today to welcome the Fall season in your home (where did September go?!).

I've missed y'all and am glad to be back! 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Master Bedroom Renovation Challenge: [Stage 9] Matching Antique Baseboards & Door Trim

Catch up on the renovation progress! 

Woo boy, have we been busy! So busy that I haven't even been able to sit down and catch y'all up on how things are going in the master bedroom/closet in a little while!

The reality is that we actually moved into our master bedroom/closet nearly two weeks ago!

I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to type that!!!

Also coming up (any day now) is the arrival of our first kiddo, a baby girl, so we've been shifting gears a bit to try and get things ready for her as well. :)

But, before we get around to showing our moved-in bedroom, I have to go into the little saga we went through to finish our baseboards!

Sounds so exciting, right?

...but really, do y'all know how hard it is to match up antique 100+ year-old baseboards?

Not exactly something they readily carry in your big box hardware stores, for sure.

Not to mention matching up the stain color.

Though it turned out that part was much easier, because I am the master of colors (my humbleness is astounding).

Seeking Antique Baseboards:

our antique baseboards that needed matching 
To start, we had no available baseboards in the area where we took the 90's wall closet out.

I remembered that we had a pile of wood, some of it old trim, in the garage left behind by the last owner. Not being able to bend over or move things around much in my current status of 9 months pregnant, Karl took a look but didn't find anything to match. Drat.

After talking with several friends we decided to try a local lumber mill that a few people recommended. Karl went and showed them samples of the baseboards...and the guy there went on to geek-out a bit, and for good reason!

Turns out that the wood for the baseboards is American Chestnut, which can't be found anymore. They were once known as the "Redwoods of the East" for their enormous girth and towering heights. Sadly, lumbering practices and a blight that was noticed in 1904 began killing them off, and by the 1950's the tree is (for the most part) extinct.

The American Chestnut. Photo courtesy of American Chestnut Foundation

(Note: another hint for us as to what time range our house was built - we only know it was between 1900-1907).

He also was able to tell us that the wood was likely milled somewhere in Denver, PA, as it was known to supply much of the wood for homes in our area.

All very cool information - we love learning stuff like this! Unfortunately, he wasn't able to help much further than that. He explained that they would have to make custom blades to match our baseboards, so it was something pricey. We only needed approx 20 feet or less of baseboards, so the cost ratio wasn't in our favor.

We have a local architectural salvage warehouse that we were going to try next, however luck played on our side when Karl, on a whim, decided to dig into our garage's wood pile a bit deeper. Amazingly, he found toward the bottom baseboards that matched and there was exactly the amount we needed, no more or less!

Can I just pause here and say how astounding that is?!

The rummaged baseboards were even still in raw form - never been stained or painted. Thus our next task was to find or mix a matching stain; something definitely up my alley.

I of course turned to my fave; good ol' General Finishes.

When I arrived at the local supplier of General Finishes I realized I didn't have any of our sample baseboards with me to help match up colors. Whoops. But despite my wall color inadequacies, I know my GF paint and stain colors! I eyed the stained wood samples they had and picked Candlelite, a gel stain that from my memory looked to be a very close match to our existing baseboard color.

The color sample printed on the can looked a lot darker than the wood sample and made me wonder if I'd chosen wrong...but when we tested it out, by jove I was right on the money with the color!

I had fun teaching Karl how to use the stain. ^_^

The baseboard is in 3 parts: the main baseboard, and a top and bottom runner. Here it is going up, stain and top coats all dried now:

Looking good! (sorry for only cel pic!)


We also had just enough door trim from the closet to use for the new door we made between the bedroom and closet. You can see it here just before we added the last rosette (door on left):

Very glad we were able to save a lot of time looking for or making baseboards, as well as money!

Next up: showing the room with our furniture moved in! Also, if you missed it, here's the design plans I have for the bedroom as we begin to furnish and decorate!

Be sure to subscribe and see the progress!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Master Bedroom Renovation Challenge: Design Elements & Mood Board

So much change has happened in our master bedroom these last few months! We started with a medium-sized room with a built-in closet, orange walls, and old red carpeting.

It's been a few months of working nights and weekends, but now we have a fresh coat of white paint on the walls, dark hardwood floors, and no wall closet taking up space!

As of this week, baseboards are going into where the closet was, and posh gray curtains are hanging in the windows making the room feel so much more homey! Though I almost don't dare believe it, it's truly time to start furnishing and decorating!! Huzzah!

Master Bedroom: My Pinterest master bedroom board has been something I've had and added to for years, and my preferences haven't changed much over time. These following pix show a bit of what has caught my inspiration:

Definitely a trend of white or light-colored walls from what I collected!

Aesthetically we want calm, classic, and serene; a retreat with antique pieces and decor that is fitting for an early 1900's home. I'm also trying to keep things gender neutral - not too feminine or masculine but an attempt to balance both through monochrome gray and neutral colors, wood and nickel, and limiting textile patterns by having them only on smaller pieces - the bedspread and curtains will be textured but a single color.

Aside from a $0.50 nightstand I made over (and that I plan to now sell) and the high tufted headboard I made for $12, we never really furnished our bedroom in our former rental. Yup, we're starting from scratch with our bedroom! All we have is a metal bed frame and mattress. That's it!

Thus, I'm on the constant lookout for a nice wood headboard, highback chair, matching nightstands, old pictures and frames, etc., so it'll be awhile before my vision is realized. But hey, and this is the truth: a house should take awhile to decorate.

...Ok, watch out I'm getting on my soapbox now cause I have to say it: I know it goes against our "now" culture and the crazy fast makeovers we see on TV, but you'll appreciate the things you find more when you pick and choose carefully only what you love, especially if it has a story or significance to you. It also goes without saying since we're talking me here: taking your time helps you stay on budget. ;)

Master Closet: Here's the main "cue angel choir" aesthetics we're going for with the master closet, no mood board necessary:

Yarp. I doubt we have the space for an island dresser (though it'd be nice!), but the white walls and dark wood built-ins make us both get a bit starry-eyed. We're hoping to line up a woodworker we were recommended to by some friends, but first we are taking some time to live in the space and figure out what kind of functionality we want and draw up some plans.

So there y'all have it! Thoughts, questions, info of someone with a warehouse full of the stuff we'e looking for with great prices? Comment below and be sure to subscribe! :)

Shared On: thatdiyparty

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Master Bedroom Renovation Challenge: [Stage 8] Floor Staining & A Quest for Wall Sconces

Catch up on the renovation progress! 

...When we last left our hero, Karl, he was floor-sanding the night away to finish before a deadline set by the floor stainers. Did he make it?

Yes. Barely. As in 3am, mere hours before having to return the sander at 7am and be home to receive the stainers at 8am. What a hero. :)

Being 8 months pregnant, I was staying a few days with my folks to avoid all the renovation dust and fumes and got the following pic and text from Karl mid-morning. It read, "which one?"

I replied #3.

He said good, because that was what the stainers were already using.

Ok then...Gotta say I sure am glad that Karl and I are pretty like-minded with colors and aesthetics!

The color on #3 is called Spice Brown, but Karl later told me that in the end they decided to do a half-n-half mix of #1 (called Golden Brown, same as our main floor stain) and #3.

Going back, y'all remember what the floors looked like that made us hit the panic button in the master bedroom when we took out the carpet:

...and after Karl sanded, took out the plywood, and scraped out car putty...

Our master closet was much easier.

Here's the result of Karl's labors!

Amazing how great they look from before! (don't give up on your floors!)

Very happy with how awesome the master closet also looks!

Huzzah for a non-splintery hall floor!

Note the difference between the non-finished stairs and the hall floor - so smooooth!

We used the same top-notch floor stain company and water-based stain as we did our main floor, so within 3 hours of the stain and finish being laid down we could walk on it in socks. Love it.

In the meantime Karl's been busy putting the trim back, though there are areas such as where the old closet was and around the new door on the master-closet side that we have no trim available.

door trim we need to have reproduced on master-closet side
We're in the middle of trying to find or make reproductions of the old baseboards and door trim, so that's taking a bit of time. We do happen to live near Lancaster county though (Amish) and are looking into one particular wood-working shop we've heard good stuff about. Wish us luck!

We're also putting the faceplates on the new electrical boxes and light switches, but we have a set of wires waiting for their wall sconces to finish completely.

Which reminds me...

If you remember back in the electrical stage when we installed fixtures to have wall sconces over our bedside tables I had posted pix of a few of the ones I was considering. They were all nice, however I was quickly finding that the average quality-looking wall sconce would mean hemorrhaging paying $75-150 for EACH. That was a tad bit too much for this thrifty chick to swallow.

Then recently I was killing time in Home Depot during the heatstroke time of the day (their store has A/C, our house does not) and found myself wandering around the lighting aisles. I saw a few wall sconces that I'd seen on the website and went up for a closer look.  Two of the lights definitely looked as cheap as their $17 price.

via Home Depot
via Home Depot


Then I saw another familiar light. Huh, not bad. In fact, I rather like it. Doesn't look cheap in-person and has good reviews online...

via Home Depot - Hampton Bay 1-light Brushed Nickel Wall Sconce

But what's the price?

Really? $30 each?!

I can do that!

Um...why can't I find them on the shelf?

Inquiring with a HD employee, they found out for me that they were out of stock of them, and the next nearest store had only one in stock. Geh.

Going home I began a quest of looking up inventory at other area stores and found most either didn't carry it anymore or had 1 left. Broadening my radius a bit more, I found a store an hour away that had...2 left! Huzzah!

I immediately did their "ship to store" and paid for them. They have confirmed they have them and now the sconces lie in wait for me until I can pick them up at that location. Lucky for me that I was planning to drive through that area this coming week for a little day trip with family!

Sadly it looks like they are perhaps phasing out this particular wall sconce, which is a shame because in my effort to track it down I saw it'd been reviewed on BHG's website as a fave among designers for its look and price. So, if you're in the market for wall sconces and like this particular one as well, I would say go nab it right now!

I can now soon present the "look" we're going for with decor in the bedroom and master closet. We're talking full-on mood board. ;) Subscribe to follow along as we get down to the home stretch!

Shared On: thatdiyparty, totallyterrifictuesday, makeitprettymonday

Friday, July 22, 2016

Master Bedroom Renovation Challenge: [Stage 7] Threshold, Floor Sanding

Catch up on the renovation progress! 

Dudes, what a week it's been! I've been away staying with family until the dust literally settled with all the floor sanding and staining that's been going on. I'm home at last now and ready to catch y'all up on what's been going on, as there's been a ton of craziness and momentum. Get ready for pictures galore!

If you remember from the previous post with paint already making a huge difference, last week it was all about prepping our floors for the floor stainers coming the following Monday. This boiled down to needing to sand the floors and make a threshold in the new doorway. We started off with a high when we sanded the closet floor and it came out looking AWESOME.

Then we pulled the carpet up in the master bedroom Karl put it, a picture is worth more than a thousand words...and "this one has a lot of 4-letter ones".

As one can see, the original wood floor was a nightmarish mess, and Karl and I had an "oh crap" moment. Just like when the past owner showed no respect by bolting a pipe to the dining room floor and dripping paint on the baseboards, he struck again in this room. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

First, a section of the floor had been torn up and replaced with plywood.

Then, he also walked around the room with paint on his shoes.

Last but not least, he made huge patches with car body putty to even out some areas. Let me repeat that: CAR. PUTTY.

We do know that he was a car hobbyist, so I assume he used the car putty because it was on-hand. After all, driving a literal 5 minutes to the hardware store was apparently too much of an effort.

He wasn't too keen to even make it look nice, but just slathered it on.

These patches were solely from when they installed some very cheap and ugly track lights in the kitchen below. (note: if you like track lighting, you should probably live in a house built in the 1950's and up. No hate, just sayin').

Karl and I were baffled to say the least. And honestly, a bit ticked off...and not just because our work was now really cut out for us, but at how careless a person can be, especially when doing any kind of work in an old home (my fellow old house lovers, sorry if this post is making your blood pressure go up too).

Our plan became a bit different now than simply sanding the floor, but we were determined to at least try everything we could to salvage the floors before turning to a sad Plan B: re-carpeting the room.

Cue dramatic cinematic moment before diving in:

First Karl tackled the plywood. Taking some matching original planks from our attic, Karl patched them in where the plywood had been. So far so good.

Next, using a scraper and sometimes even a screwdriver, Karl scraped up as much of the putty as he could. A good bit of it came up and made the patches less noticeable already.

Now it was time for the true test: we brought in the sander. To our utter relief and joy, this is what the floors looked like after the first pass:

A little more scraping and a second pass:


Here's where the plywood had been that we patched in with wood flooring from the attic:


My peeps, let this be an example that no old wood floor is beyond saving!

Now that things were starting to go well with the master bedroom floors, of course something else had to go wrong, right? Saturday evening Karl was in the middle of sanding when suddenly the machine stopped. Upon investigation, the plug had completely burned out! More problematic, the place we had rented the sander from had just closed 30 minutes before! Argh. It was pure HGTV drama without being scripted, lol.

We were already on a tight deadline because our floor stainers were coming Monday; we had to get the sanding done! We weighed the option of renting an abused floor sander from Home Depot and run the risk of streaks like what had happened in our downstairs floor sanding sagas, but Karl decided a better option would be to try and find a plug to replace the bad one with.

I'm so glad he knows how to do stuff like that!

Lowes didn't have any, but Home Depot did (after some digging around, he nabbed the last one thanks to a helpful guy there. Whew). Soon Karl had it fixed and was back on track.

This is what it's supposed to look like:

In a last-minute decision, we also sanded our upstairs hallway. It is another area that has had planks pulled up when they were re-wiring stuff, so many were uneven and a few were also splintering. Thus, there has not been a day since moving in that we have been able to go shoe-less in the hallway, otherwise we had a few splinter mishaps happen to our feet when we did not (yes, that means putting on my slippers or sandals just to get my pregnant bladder to the bathroom 2-3 times a night, lol).

Here it is sanded:

It'll be beyond wonderful to be able to walk on this floor now! Not to mention I won't have to prevent baby from crawling in the hallway in the future. :)

Also on the "to-do" before staining the floors was framing in the new doorway and making a custom threshold for it. Previously there were floor gaps and uneven flooring that we had to give attention to. Karl cut some small pieces to go over the floor gaps:

Here is the doorway all framed in:

Then he made the threshold ramps:

He did a nice job, wouldn't y'all agree?

Karl did a LOT of work, the majority of it with the floor sanding this past weekend. He worked till the wee hours of Monday morning to make sure that things were ready for the floor stainers coming Monday. Give some major props to the guy, cause he was one tuckered out fella come Monday (this was him Monday morning when he woke up)!

We'll be able to show you the newly stained floors early next week! Here's a carrot to dangle in front of y'all until then with the color choices we laid down.

If you haven't already, subscribe for email updates either below or on the top banner. Till next week! :)

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