New Construction Townhome, Organization

You Have to Clean Before You Can Tidy

My closet is now officially tidied (or KonMari’d, if you want to turn the method into a verb)! It doesn’t look drastically different, especially because the most dramatic change is in the drawers, but it  feels so much better in there. No more piles of t-shirts on the top shelf, no more collections of crap on the floor under the hanging clothes. No more pile of clothing I haven’t put away! Everything is where it belongs! Of course I’ll have to go through it again in 6 months once I’m back to my pre-pregnancy self and can wear normal clothes again, but even what I’ve done so far is a huge improvement.

Next up is the hobby category. I talked about strategies for tidying hobby supplies in my last post, and sat down to tackle a new one today. Except my office is a mess (which is what inspired this whole thing in the first place). I realized that there’s a certain catch-22: you need to have a clear space to work in order to tidy effectively, but the reason I have no clear space is that I need to tidy! I spent about 20 minutes putting things away, throwing out trash, and doing the sort of clean-up I might do before company comes over. I didn’t worry too much about exactly where stuff went, I just tried to lump like items together and get the floor to a place where I could vacuum.

This brought me to tidying step 0: a vaguely clean office.

Clean enough to vacuum but still pretty cluttered
Clean enough to vacuum but still pretty cluttered

Then I tackled my electronics, which didn’t have a ton of stuff in it but was still challenging. I relocated a lot of random cables to the basement (where we have storage bins with various computer parts) and got rid of some very old mostly broken hardware.

Next on the agenda was the linen closet. I hadn’t intended to tidy it, but when I went to put fresh sheets on the guest bed and realized I had no idea where the queen sheets were. There are queens, doubles, twins, and Twin XL in there and I can’t remember which is which.

Sooo anyone know where the queen sheets are?
Sooo anyone know where the queen sheets are?

We store linens in 3 different closets, plus the “in use” linens which occupy the beds/bathrooms. I amassed all the sheets and blankets on the guest bed. Keep in mind this is just the “spares.” The guest bed sheets/comforter were in the wash, and the other 3 beds in the house (ours, our daughter’s, and the crib) all have sheets on them.

No joke, there is an ALF sleeping bag in there.
No joke, there is an ALF sleeping bag in there.

I pulled out anything that I felt was too gross for a guest to sleep on. I pulled out the Snuggie and some polar fleece throws (I hate polar fleece). Since some of these came with my husband when we moved in together I gave him right of first refusal for anything on the chopping block. He agreed with my assessments though.

Next I went through the towels. Not including the full sets hanging in the bathrooms we had 15 bath towels, 16 washcloths, 3 beach towels, 10 hand towels, and 5 bath mats. Once again I culled anything that wasn’t in good enough shape to offer a guest. I set aside a couple towel/washcloth sets to take down the shore along with a surplus duvet.

I didn’t quite hit my goal of fitting all the linens in one closet. We have a bunch of extra waterproof covers for furniture which are bulky but we’ll definitely need them when the baby shows up. I put the crib sheets back in my daughter’s closet, but everything else fit! I rolled the towels for easy grabbing, then folded the washcloths and stuck them on end in a shoe box to keep them from getting mixed up with the hand towels and beach towels.

I put labels in front of each stack of sheets indicating what size they are
I put labels in front of each stack of sheets indicating what size they are

This whole process is so much work but I really think it’s worth it. Just being able to easily grab a set of clean sheets is a huge improvement in my domestic life.

Organization

How I Tidy Craft Supplies and Hobby Stuff

One of the most daunting tasks in my quest to KonMari my house is dealing with my incredible collection of hobby stuff / supplies. I have a lot of hobbies, and many of them have a lot of stuff that goes with them. Some of this stuff has taken a lot of time/money to acquire, so I have to be smart with how I purge and sort it if I don’t want to be filled with regret down the line.

This is what my office looks like clean. No one has ever actually seen this.
This is what my office looks like clean, or at least it did as of a couple years ago. No one has ever actually seen this since then.

The first step in the process was evaluating how likely I was to ever take up a given hobby again. Then I had to compare that to how much stuff it required, and how hard that stuff was to obtain in the first place. Here are some examples:

  • Hand knitting. I do this regularly. My yarn stash takes up a ton of space and needs pruning, but otherwise I am perfectly OK with it taking up ~15 cubic feet of shelf space.
  • Machine knitting. I haven’t done this in a while but would love to get back into it when I have more time. It takes up a bunch of space, but the machines are rare. I also have multiple, and I think it’s time to prune the collection down to my one favorite machine (my Superba).
  • Reclaiming yarn from thrift store sweaters. Nice in theory, not really worth the time. Probably not gonna do it again. Should just pitch the half-unraveled sweaters. Easy to get more if I change my mind.
  • Photography. I go through phases of this every few years. Equipment is expensive, takes up little space. Definitely going to hold onto most if not all of it.
  • Embroidery. I do this occasionally, but I have a disproportionate large stash of threads and tools, none of which are rare or expensive. Need to cull it back to something reasonable.
  • Exercise. I do this regularly, but I’ve had my dad’s rowing machine for more than a year and have used it maybe twice. Time to return it and focus on weight training.
  • Jewelrymaking. It was really hard to admit this to myself, but I’m probably never going to seriously go back to jewelrymaking / metalsmithing. It requires space, time, and equipment that I’m not likely to dedicate myself to. I have a decent collection of tools, but they’re not really doing me any good locked away in the back of the closet waiting for “someday.”
  • Camping. I do this once or twice a year and plan to continue doing so in the future. The camping equipment definitely needs pruning though, some of it I’ve had since Girl Scouts and haven’t used since then.
  • Hydroponic gardening. I haven’t done this since my daughter was born but would like to in the future. The equipment is not cheap and took a while to accumulate as it’s mostly only available through mail order. So that stuff is largely staying.
  • Painting. Nope. Not gonna do it again. Goodbye, paints.

So that’s 3 hobbies totally out the door, and two or three more that are getting some serious downsizing. For each hobby category I’ll need to go through everything and determine what to do with it. Although Kondo suggests starting with easier categories and working up to hard ones I started with the hardest just to get it over with. I hauled out all of my metalsmithing tools and laid them out on the floor. Some of them are all around handy tools to keep around. Some of them are just too specialized to be good for much else. When I got to my favorite tools I stopped for a bit. I reconsidered. Surely I might need these again? Weren’t they very expensive? Maybe I should keep them…

I know I’m never going to need them again. I went online to see what they cost new. $50 each. Not inexpensive, but not out of the realm of replacing if somewhere down the line I do suddenly really need to form silver or copper into hemispherical shapes. But when I’m totally honest with myself I know that’s not going to happen. I took a deep breath and put them on the “go” pile.

Figuring out what to do with the stuff I’m unloading is also hard. A lot of it does still have use/value, but it’s not the sort of stuff that does well at a thrift store. It needs context. For the things that are more valuable I’m trying Craigslist. Some of the jewelry equipment I plan to donate to my university’s program. I ended up throwing out a lot of odds and ends that really aren’t likely to be useful to anyone, like Plexiglas forming dies I made in college.

Here's a panorama of my office in a more natural state.
Here’s a panorama of my office in a more natural state. Except I finally threw out the dead cactus in the window.

Having cleared the hurdle of my most loved tools, I’m looking forward to a few easy categories as a pallet cleanse. In general I prefer that to Kondo’s suggested order of increasing emotional difficulty. I like to do something hard and then go do one that’s brain dead and satisfying. Leona’s closet is great for this, she’s constantly wearing out and outgrowing clothing. I can feel quite accomplished just by throwing out all her pants with holes in the knees. Or I’ll go back through one of the giant boxes of baby clothes (many of which were hand-me-downs Leona never even wore) and cull it down to a reasonable size.

The good new is that despite being emotionally exhausting it really doesn’t take that long. I went through my tools in maybe half an hour, while I was taking a break from a frustrating problem at work. So far I’ve taken 5 bags full of stuff to the local thrift store, and I’ll probably have more to go by next week. Over time I get better at being honest with myself about whether or not I’ll actually use something again. Sometimes when I revisit categories I’ve already done I find a few more items to yank. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be surrounded by only stuff I need or enjoy, not clutter I resent.

New Construction Townhome, Organization

The Life-Changing Cult of Tidying Up

Are you interested in my quest for a less disastrous house? Check out my whole tidying archive of posts!

If you are a person who reads the internet, you have probably heard of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Perhaps you have even tried to read it. Most people who succeed in reading it join her KonMari tidying cult, but in all honesty it can be a challenge to get past the first few pages if you are turned off by the huge number of self-help cliches found in the beginning. I’m told that part of this is due to the book’s translation, and perhaps also some bad advice from an editor. Or very good advice, given the book’s position on the bestseller list. Suffice to say I found the beginning of the book a little grating but I’m glad I stuck with it.

The book contents can be divided into 3 categories: super useful advice about decluttering and organizing, somewhat repetitive stories about her childhood / clients, and advice that might be useful to some people but doesn’t seem to apply to any of the American yuppies I know. One example of the third is her assertion that you should carry all your coins as “no one actually cashes in their change jar.” Do they not have Coinstar in Japan? Because cashing out a change jar is an amazing treat whereas digging through my purse for a dime sucks.

Anyway, I’m reading the book and feeling inspired to clean (ok, I read the book because I was inspired to clean and felt overwhelmed by how much stuff I have). The book suggests starting with clothing because it’s the easiest, and I agree. I did my sock drawer first:

Before
Before
After
After

As you can see, I got rid of about half my socks. They were not in great shape. Many were threadbare at the heel or stretched out. Others were in OK shape but I had to ask myself “how many pairs of black athletic socks does one person need?” I decided the answer was not “10” and culled all but the heartiest. A couple pairs of socks were like-new but didn’t really go with my wardrobe, or were nearly identical to other socks I never wear. I’m still trying to figure out if I should donate them somewhere or just pitch them. I mean, does anyone actually want used socks? Probably not.

At first I struggled a lot with wastefulness, a feeling that nagged me while reading the book as well. Kondo talks a lot about discarding things, and as someone who is opposed to waste this was hard to accept. I rolled it around in my head for a few days and realized first: ‘discard’ does not mean I have to throw it in the trash, there are still plenty of responsible ways to pass something on for reuse. Second: I was already being wasteful the second I purchased that 6 pack of athletic socks, knowing full well I still had some at home (they were on sale!). Holding onto something indefinitely when you’ve already replaced it isn’t being responsible, it’s hoarding. Then I had a moment of “well I wear these socks when I run out of ones I like, what will I do now when I run out?” Um, wash them? Stop playing King of the Mountain with the hamper?

One of the most often cited ideas from the book is to only keep items which “spark joy.” I can immediately tell which critics haven’t actually read the book, because they make snide remarks about how something mundane-but-necessary fails to spark joy. Except even items we don’t actively like can spark joy. Maternity underwear does not spark joy directly, it’s pretty dowdy, but not having a wedgie 100% of the time is its own indirect joy.

Organized tank tops
Organized tank tops
Undies, sports bras, and pajamas
Sports bras, pajamas, and undies

After socks I moved on to underwear and tank tops. Next is T-shirts. Nice tops, jeans, and dresses will have to wait until I’m done being pregnant and my body returns to normal. It’s hard to consider purging items when you know your body is about to do some major shape shifting. Lucky for me there is really no shortage of other things I can tidy.

A lot of people who haven’t read the book decry the idea of having to get rid of all the “nonessential” stuff in their lives. That’s not what Kondo is suggesting at all. I have a huge yarn collection, and I assure you it brings me joy (though I still plan to go through each skein and get rid of any I know I’ll never use). Ditto for my fabric collection. There’s nothing wrong with having collections of things. The problem is having collections of things that aren’t actually making you happy.

Kondo talks a lot about the emotional reasons we hold onto things. To some people it seems really cold hearted, getting rid of items that may have been a gift. But I think it’s important to acknowledge the emotional toll of stuff we hang onto just because it was a gift. If anything, keeping something we don’t really want just because we feel obligated to strains our relationship with that person. You shouldn’t be an asshole about it, but ultimately there’s a limit to how much stuff we can hang onto. Some of it has to go sometimes. It doesn’t mean we love our friends less, or don’t appreciate their gifts.

For the record, if I have given you a hand knit item, and it it no longer suits you, please do not feel obligated to hang onto it if it no longer brings you joy. The joy for me was in the knitting and the giving, and hopefully for you in knowing I liked you enough to make you something. Whether you choose to use it going forward is really up to you.

Slowly, painfully, I’m learning to let go of stuff I’m keeping because I “might” use it. I have never, ever remembered to take a travel pillow with me to the airport; I definitely don’t need three. I am never actually going to read that book on Renaissance artwork, I don’t actually like Renaissance artwork. I don’t need to own any clothing that is too gross and old to wear outside the house. I need exactly one pair of painting pants and two painting shirts (I know from experience that after two days I will be sick of painting and go do something else). I will never actually turn those old T-shirts into a cool hipster crochet rug.

I am letting go of the ghosts of people I thought I wanted to be (but don’t) in order to make room for the person I actually want to be (someone who can see the top of her desk on more than a semi-annual basis). I’ve joined the cult, and even if this experiment is a total bust and my sock drawer is back to being a warzone in a week at least I managed to get rid of some baggage in the process.

1970s Shore Home

Kitchen, Bathroom, Doom

The kitchen is very near completion! I haven’t had a chance to take photos with a real camera, or write up a recap of the many things I learned in the process, but here’s a quick phone snapshot:

2015-09-24 20.39.27

There are still a bunch of finishing touches to do, but the hard stuff is all done! We had our first weekend of using the kitchen and it worked very well, with two people able to cook without driving each other insane.

When I stepped into the house earlier this week I had a bit of a panic moment: I was immediately greeted by a very musty smell. After all this work on the house, damp musty grossness is absolutely NOT what I want. We had a really dry summer so we haven’t had a chance to see how the house holds up in a storm. After some poking around I found a window that had been left open, and thankfully after a few days the house has returned to its usual neutral scent.

In boring-but-important news, we had our structural contractor install a new beam under the house. Now the bathroom no longer jiggles around when you step! The end of the house is no longer sinking into the sand! It’s still not level, but it’s been raised a few inches. The drywall cracked in a few spots around the door frames but other than that it was a pretty painless process.

Over Pope Weekend we had 10 people total staying in the house, and no one came to blows! So I consider that a ringing endorsement for the house. Unfortunately, over the course of the weekend we also discovered that the upstairs bathroom has sprung a leak. Wamp womp. It’s a really weird leak. There’s a water stain on the ceiling below the shower, but even if the shower is off there is fresh water trickling down the waste stack (which is behind the toilet). The toilet has a tendency to run because it’s an old toilet with an old flapper I haven’t gotten around to replacing.

My totally unscientific theory is that the toilet is leaking, and since the bathroom has a distinct slant towards the shower the shower drain is no longer appropriately sloped, letting water run from the toilet to the shower where it then drips onto the ceiling below.

Please note the fact that the shower starts 6" off the ground.
Please note the fact that the shower starts 8″ off the ground.

There is no easy way to access any of the waste line to see what’s going on. At the very least it will require cutting into the (freshly painted!) bedroom ceiling below it. Due to the bizarre way the shower is built, there’s also a chance we’d have to open up the shower tile. This bathroom is kind of a nightmare and we knew going into it that a full remodel was on the short list of things we wanted to do. But I wasn’t intending to tackle that until next spring at the earliest.

Now I’m trying to decide whether I rip up the bathroom just to fix the drain line, or just pull the trigger on the remodel now. I’ve met with two contractors so far and am waiting on estimates.

If we end up doing the bathroom now it will be a total gut remodel, and I’m contracting out 100% of it. At 6 months pregnant I have neither the energy nor time to do another major renovation.

Layout for new shower
Potential layout for new shower

The last item on the agenda this week was preparing for the potential doom of Hurricane Joaquin. Thankfully the storm went out to sea, but we still had a really nasty nor’easter come through. My dad and I took care of some lingering to-dos, like removing the old HVAC condensation line (which was just sort of flapping around outside the house). Both of our storm doors don’t latch shut, so somewhat counter-intuitively we removed them before the storm so they didn’t fly open and rip off the door frame in the process. Getting replacement storm doors is on the short term to-do list once the storm passes.

So far almost every issue we’ve had with the house is something we’d budgeted to fix when we bought it. What we didn’t anticipate was cramming so much stuff into the first year. Many of the stuff on the “eventually” list became “now” either because they were more urgent than we thought, or because it didn’t make sense to do certain tasks separately. For example, the immediate project of “replace the broken heat pump” became “convert to gas heat” when we found out they cost about the same, and then that morphed into “convert and replace the hot water heater” since we were having gas lines run anyway. Silly me, I thought the electrical panel upgrade was gonna be next on the to-do list, but it’s actually the bathroom. Surprise!

DIY and Decor, New Construction Townhome, Organization

Oh, The Container Store

The other day we stopped by The Container Store to shop for trash cans.

Yes, I have reached the point of my life where I think a trash can is something you shop for.

While there I saw they are having a 25% off Elfa sale. We’re having another baby and I totally want to Elfa up another closet. It was a little tough to acknowledge that I’m already well over my home furnishings budget for the year. This is in fact A Year No Closets Will Be Organized. In previous years I did my office closet and the toddler’s closet.

If I’m being honest with myself, it’s not the closet that’s the problem. My office closet is in desperate need of purging crap. The toddler’s closet is in better shape but it still needs some attention. No amount of objects from The Container Store will save me from the fact that I am indeed a slob.

This Liz Lemon quote from 30 Rock spoke to me:

“I went to the new flagship Compartment Store on 5th Avenue and I’m going to get my life in order. There’s a stacking thing to separate your junk mail from your humidifier catalogs, a thing you stick on your laptop that  hold your keys, a round plastic deal that holds your shoes with a pocket for a photograph of what shoes are in there. I’m going to become wonderful. It’s a new beginning, like a phoenix rising…”

While shopping for a trash can I saw a variety of Other Objects that promised to make me less of a miserable disorganized slob. I am so disorganized I lost my to-do lists. That’s right. The first item on my new to-do list is to find my old ones. It was tempting to buy into the world of color coordinated stacking boxes. But I resisted. I looked at trash cans, didn’t see any I liked, and limited my purchases to a dish rack, laundry basket, and a festive collapsible ottoman. Ok so I went in for a trash can and came out with $150 worth of totally unrelated other things, which is definitely not winning. BUT AT LEAST I DIDN’T BUY A CLOSET, RIGHT? Also did you know that SimpleHuman makes an $80 dish rack? We went with the cheap bamboo one, but the SimpleHuman dish rack has 337 reviews and 4.5 stars. I’m curious what dish rack bliss feels like, but not $80 curious.

Oh like you could resist this.
Oh like you could resist this.

Anyway, I didn’t find a trash can I liked. I wanted one that had recycling and trash together, but all the ones that looked nice took special liners I’m not willing to pay for. So we got a normal step trashcan and I’m just gonna stick a blue bin in the laundry room.

And while we’re on the topic of mundane stuff, these are hands down the best dish mats:

ritzmat

You can find them on Amazon in a variety of patterns, and they’re super great.

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

Downstairs Bedrooms Before and After

Now that summer is over and I have to bunker down and focus on other things, there won’t be as many dramatic progress photos of the house. When it’s all done I want to go back in with a nice wide angle lens and take good photos, but for now here are some quick before and after shots of the downstairs bedrooms so you can see how far the house has come.

The Small Bedroom aka “Playroom”

This room was being used for storage when we toured the house. We replaced the flooring, added a big rug, removed the chair rail, and painted the walls. Toys and games will be stored in here, and the daybed pulls out into a double in the event we have so many guests that our 3 year old gets demoted to an airbed.

Playroom Before
Playroom Before – Used for Storage
Playroom After
Playroom After – Sleeping and playing. Bed is from Ikea, rug is from Wayfair, curtains are from Lowes, dinosaur sheets are from Target, lamp is from Target, and the walls are SW6700 “Daybreak”

 

Master Bedroom

We replaced the floor, changed the curtains, and moved the bed to another wall so that the “sitting area” is now right when you walk in.

Before the bed was the first thing you ran into when you entered the room
Before the bed was the first thing you ran into when you entered the room
Now the bed is against another wall and there is a chair (not visible) in the entryway
Now the bed is against another wall and there is a chair (not visible) in the entryway. Curtains are from Ikea, rug and bed are both from Wayfair, lamp, bedbpread, sheets, and nightstand are all from Target. Walls are Sherwin Williams “Watery”

I’m really hoping that I can get the backsplash finished sometime over the next few weeks, since the kitchen has the most dramatic change, but we’ll see if that’s realistic now that our weekends are booked solid with other obligations.

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

A million last-minute to-dos for Labor Day

We’re having our first guests stay at the beach house… just in time for the end of summer! This meant my husband and I spent a lot of yesterday running around desperately trying to get the house clean and ready for people to stay over.

In the morning, Chris took an entire Honda Fit’s worth of cardboard to the recycling center. Around 3pm we ran out for a Massive Emergency Trip to Target and Home Depot. This was an emergency because we desperately wanted to buy everything and get home before the Friday night shore traffic set in. We ran around like madmen getting all the last minute odds and ends we needed. Somehow despite going in with a list and a strict “get what we need and get out of there” attitude we came home with two additional chairs. My husband had been eyeing them up for about a month and they were on clearance.

2015-09-05 08.00.17

My daughter needed to give up “her” room for guests, so we let her pick out some linens so the little room she was staying in would still feel like hers. She went with dinosaurs (I was pulling for the truck sheets but got overruled).

Camping out on the floor
Camping out on the floor

The biggest task was tackling some plumbing issues in the bathrooms. The upstairs shower didn’t have enough water pressure to trigger the tankless hot water heater when it was in use, leading to unpleasant cold showers, but the sink worked fine. The culprit was a gunked up cartridge in the handle. We were too busy to take any photos of the process but this YouTube video explains it pretty well if you’re curious:

Once we got the cartridge out we brought it with us to the store and picked up a replacement for about $15. Installing the new cartridge was pretty straightforward. We went from getting ~0.4 GPM of flow through the shower head to 1.6 GPM (as reported by the hot water heater).

The downstairs bathroom was supposed to be a straightforward replacement of the shower head. Unfortunately when I pulled the old head off I found it had a ball stem instead of the threaded stem the new head attaches to. So what was supposed to be a 10 minute project ended up with another trip to the hardware store to get a new shower stem. It took a little bit of force to get the old stem out but other than that it was simple to replace.

Of course when I opened up the box to the new shower head and it was broken. Since we had just returned from the store I had absolutely no interest in going back. By some odd coincidence my in-laws next door had a spare shower head they weren’t using (???) so we grabbed that and now we have two working showers!

With all the construction a bunch of the outlet faceplate screws have gone missing (yes, I know you’re supposed to keep them with the outlet so that doesn’t happen, no I did not do that) so I got a box of those, as well as a box of longer screws for the outlets in the kitchen need now that the backsplash bumps them out another 1/4″. The kitchen isn’t done, but we do have the essentials ready now. Oven, dishwasher, fridge, and most importantly: coffee maker.

2015-09-05 08.10.13

We don’t have a TV in the living room but Chris aimed a projector at the wall and brought his Wii U down. The couch in there is one Chris has had since before we got together, but it’s still in good shape despite many years of abuse from cats. So there’s somewhere comfortable to plop down and watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (or kids shows, I guess).

2015-09-05 08.27.20

We hung curtains in the bedrooms, did a ridiculous amount of laundry, scrubbed both bathrooms, vacuumed the hell out of everything, and managed to get the house to a place where we don’t have to apologize for its appearance. We’re in the home stretch now. I still have one major project (finishing the backsplash) and a lot of little fit and finish things (caulking the tile to the countertop, installing toekicks in the kitchen, etc). But I’m done with contractors (!!!) and after today’s Ikea delivery we’ll have beds in every bedroom. On Sunday I’m hoping to take a bunch of pictures of the house now that it’s free of construction debris.

We’re so close! It’s finally happening! Just in time for summer to be over!

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

Starting to look like a house

We’re filling the shore house with family for Labor Day weekend and it’s finally starting to look like a house! We still have to do a massive cleaning, and a huge trip to the recycling center, but things are starting to come together. I know I say that a lot but it’s really true this time!

Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is looking good. I’m not keeping the mirrored closet doors forever, but there’s a bed! And a carpet! I still need to get curtains, and I’m running into some decision fatigue. There’s so much blue in the room (both the rug and bed have a slight blue tint to them) that I’m thinking beige. Boring old beige.

Shower is ready to use!
Shower is ready to use!

The bathroom still needs a thorough cleaning, but the shower has been re-coated and re-caulked and we got a festive new shower curtain from Target. The last step in here is to replace the shower head with the hand shower we got, but it’s totally a usable shower right now!

Kitchen, with half the backsplash and a working stove!
Kitchen, with half the backsplash and a working stove!

We did one wall of backsplash tile. I would have loved to do both but it took two of us a solid 7 hours to do just the one wall! It looks OK but not perfect. I learned a lot in the process, and I still need to caulk where it meets the counter top. The oven is also hooked up and working, as is the dishwasher, so aside from needing to clean up all the construction debris we have a working kitchen!

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

Let’s Get Ready to DECORATE

You guys you guys it’s finally here… the moment I’ve been waiting for… when I can stop “camping out” in a half-finished home and start actually making it into a space for guests and friends and us. I’ve been doing what I can here and there in the rooms that are finished, but now it’s finally time to pull the trigger and order some of the larger items I’ve been eyeing up. I’ve been haunting the local thrift store for months and coming up dry, but managed to snag some good end-of-season clearance prices on stuff online and at the big box stores (Target, Lowes, Ikea).

Instead of cleaning my office like I said I would, I put together mood boards for the rooms! Aren’t I just the pinnacle of responsibility?

Room #1: Downstairs big bedroom
Room #1: Downstairs big bedroom

The master bedroom (for lack of a better term, it’s the biggest) gets a lot of natural light so I tried to keep the colors a little calmer in there. It’s a good sized room and I’d like to eventually get a couple chairs as well. I’m still in the market for some inexpensive bedside tables for that room.. and lighting! It’s one of the few rooms that doesn’t have any wired-in lights. It also has these super-90s mirrored accordion doors on the closet. I hate the mirror doors but I haven’t seen anything else I like much better. Current plan is to hang curtains across the closet opening instead. I haven’t decided if those will be the same color as the window curtains, or slightly different.

5 bucks says those mirror doors are still there a year from now because I haven’t made up my mind. Also I guess I’ll have to get some sort of comforter or duvet cover for this room, it gets pretty cold downstairs if you crank the AC enough to cool the upstairs (thanks, crappy duct layout).

Lazyweb, bring me: lighting, closet door/curtain ideas, bedside table, and comforter ideas for this room!

Bedroom #2 aka the "Playroom"
Bedroom #2 aka the “Playroom”

I’ve been calling the 2nd downstairs bedroom the “playroom” but it’s really more like “a bedroom where we will store all the toys so they don’t clutter up my living room. We picked out a fun rug and a daybed which pulls out into a double AND has storage. Anyone who has been to Ikea in the last decade probably recognizes it. Beyond that… I got nothing. We’ll need toy storage (though it does have a small closet) and lighting, but it’s not a very big room so I’m trying to keep things fairly compact/modular.

Lazyweb, bring me: child-friendly lighting, toy storage

Bedroom #3. It has a queen bed!
Bedroom #3. It has a queen bed!

As we move upstairs you will quickly see my design ideas get far less… cohesive. Also I start referring to the rooms by the size of the bed in them. The “Queen room” has an Ikea bed that again many folks will recognize, some Target curtains and not a lot else. I did get a quilt for this room, which looked SUPER CUTE in the store and SUPER CUTE when I washed it and KIND OF MEH when I put it next to the curtains. Urp. Here’s a photo from the Kohl’s website:

kohlsquilt

Also while I really like the Ikea bed itself (solid wood! storage!), the white melamine drawer fronts kind of kill the look. Looking at the assembly directions they’re really simply constructed. It’s basically a board with a groove in the bottom and some holes on the sides. I feel pretty confident I could create new drawer fronts in a nicer wood (and with handles instead of the weird 80s cutouts) some day down the line. Who wants to take another $5 bet on whether I ever actually do that?

Bedroom #4. For kids!
Bedroom #4. For kids!

The kids’ bedroom is actually pretty close to being done. I initially had some crazy plans for bed nooks, and I still might do that someday, but for the time being I’m gonna content myself with just two beds hanging out. There are two twin beds against the wall (visible here), one of which has a pull out trundle underneath it. The other has storage. While we don’t need a ton of storage in this room, I’m looking at getting a sideboard to use as a dresser since there’s no closet in that room. There’s a ceiling light in there but I’ll probably put one on the sideboard as well.

Lazyweb, bring me a kid-friendly lamp!

Bedroom 5 aka Practical Land
Bedroom #5 has no plan. No plan at all.

When it comes to the 5th bedroom there is no plan. Only Zuul. This is the room that my husband and I have been staying in during construction, and therefore it has items based on what was necessary for us to sleep. It has an Ikea bed from 2009 which we migrated down from elsewhere, a duvet cover I think is cute, two accent tables I got on impluse because they were cute AND ON SALE, and that’s about it. There is no plan for this room, other than to someday replace the bed with something that isn’t awful (the one we have is actually the older version of the one pictured, and it’s really weirdly low to the ground). I’m not even sure if I want the accent tables in that room, or if I want to abduct them for elsewhere. Also the duvet.

Not shown: beige curtains that were purchased exclusively for their light-blocking properties, and a roller shade that is really difficult to operate.

Lazyweb, how much of this room should I cannibalize for other rooms?

You guys, I am getting kind of tired of photoshopping together all these items of furniture, but there’s only one left so I’ll saunter on. No, it’s not the living room. I have no idea what the plan is for the living room. Right now it has a sectional my husband has owned since before we got together, and since there’s a place to park my butt I’m pretty much done for now. No, the last “room” is the landing at the top of the stairs, which we’re totally sticking a futon in just like the previous owners did.

LandingMoodboard
Someday a TV will go here. Right after I have some outlets added.

The idea is that the kids can all pile onto the futon and play video games while the adults have distinguished conversation in the living room. Just kidding, the kids will pile onto the futon and play video games upstairs because they haven’t yet learned to hold their own against the adults playing Super Smash Bros downstairs.

 

And that, my friends, is the current decorating plan. Clearly some of the rooms are more thought out than others. Also, putting together these mood boards (which is a totally normal thing to do on a Wedesnday night, right?) has made me absolutely hate the carpet upstairs. And downstairs. And all carpet. Can you put an area rug on top of carpet? Is that legit?

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

Bathtub Refinishing, Hot Water Stuff

Last night I had to go down the shore… again.. to let the painter in this morning (because I didn’t want to wake up at 5am to drive down there). For some reason the outlet covers were not removed / painted under when the painters came last week. The manager was very apologetic and came out this morning with the crew leader to fix it.

Since I was down there anyway I decided to tackle the tub (which I foolishly did not get a ‘before’ photo of). The finish on the tub was scraped off in a bunch of places, and the yellow fiberglass shows through and looks gross. It was also caulked with white caulk, despite being a bisque colored tub, which makes everything look yellow and gross. So last night I stripped off all the old caulk. That allowed me to discover what a mess the tub surround is. For about 5 minutes I contemplated other options, and then decided to just barrel ahead with the current plan to re-caulk and re-enamel the tub. It won’t look great, but it will look better, and I can deal with the bathroom as a whole at some other point in the future.

One freshly-coated tub
One freshly-coated tub

Recoating the tub is fairly easy, I got a tub refinishing kit at Home Depot. First you clean the living daylights out of it using cleaner and steel wool, then you mask everything off, then you spray the enamel on. It looks good, although I’m a little concerned about the durability. The bathrooms are on the to-be-addressed list but there’s a lot of other more critical stuff that has to come first. The enamel needs to dry for 72  hours, so I’ll caulk the seams the next time I’m down there.

I’ve got a new theory about the upstairs shower, which isn’t drawing enough hot water to trigger the tankless heater to fire up. Apparently the cartridge in the temperature knob can get clogged with minerals over time. If the cartridge is blocked up that would explain the low water pressure, as well as why the sink in the same room seems fine (and we’ve got a brand new shower head).

Meanwhile I’m scurrying around trying to coordinate all the furniture/mattress delivery so that everything shows up before the weekend and I don’t have to make multiple trips down to sign for stuff. We expect the house to be full or nearly-full with family, so we need as many beds as possible.