A (Almost) New Home

One week ago today, Justin stopped by after work and I handed him an envelope.  In the envelope was a key – my way of telling him that our offer on this house below had been accepted.  We celebrated and I cried.  I cried because we’ve been looking for a house for 5 1/2 months.  Because this would be our first place together.  But mostly because I couldn’t believe that we found our dream home.  It’s better than I ever could have imagined and I can’t even explain how much I love this place.

The house sits on over a 1/2 acre of a beautiful, private lot off a dirt road.  It’s surrounded by tall trees and is the exact kind of peace we were looking for.  The home is actually on the historical register for the city, and although it is outside of our desired area (which is why it’s in our price range), the old home captured our hearts.  The original woodwork was still in existance – the crown and 8″ base moulding, built-ins, wood floors, slab doors and hardware.  Everything I wanted and never thought I could afford.

I am not sad about moving on from my current home.  Yes, it’s my very first home and I put a ton of work into it, but I’ll get so much reward out of someone else loving it as much as I do.  I’ve had 5 1/2 months to prepare myself for the moment of listing it, and I knew once we found our home it would make it easier for me to move on.

Over the past 5 1/2 months, we have seen dozens of homes.  We’ve rode the crazy roller coaster of searching for a home in this market…bidding wars, houses off the market the same day, overpriced properties, etc.  We’ve only put one other offer in on a house (back in February – we didn’t get it), but haven’t found anything else that we wanted to call home.  Our list of wants is based around those things we can’t change…location and privacy, and apparently a basement (since I have this inexplanable fear of tornados).  We have budgeted for a renovation – and we expect it.  You should see some of the places we’ve walked through and considered.  One even had “squishy” hardwood floors.

When we walked through this historic home, it immediately felt like ours – which was the exact feeling I got when I saw my current home for the first time back in 2011.  And then I broke the number one rule of house-searching.  I fell in love with it before signing the closing documents.  I planned the chicken coop and vegetable garden, the kitchen layout and butler pantry, I imagined my reading and yoga room on the 3rd floor, and Justin planned his man cave in the 200 sq foot studio.  I saw our family growing there together.  It really was love at first sight.  I loved it so much that I included a letter to the seller with our bid.  Our offer was accepted above 3 others – and we weren’t even the highest offer.

I was so excited to get the phone call that night telling me our offer had been accepted.  We wanted to share our news with everyone, but we decided rather to keep our secret until after the appraisal went through.  But we never made it that far.  I had a feeling that this seemed too perfect and something would go wrong.  I would love for this post to be our announcement that we found our dream home.  Unfortunately, the ending is a little bit different.

After our offer was accepted on Monday, it was a whirlwind of a week.  The financing was approved and going through underwriting, we booked the appraisal and scheduled the inspections.  Learning from the experiences on my own 1926 home, I called in everyone I could to look at the house on inspection day and I even prepared Justin for the scary things we would hear.  An old home is compared to a new home and current codes – so there will be many things mentioned and it could feel overwhelming.  We called in our electrician, the general home inspector, then we hired a chimney inspector and a septic drain field inspector, and then I called my brother to give me his opinion of the roof.  This home is only a year older than my current home, but double the size so we had low expectations when it came to the inspection.  We knew there was work to be done.  We mentally prepared ourselves for what we thought we would hear.

However, the issues the inspection revealed were far beyond what we could prepare ourselves for.  One major issue that would have to be dealt with immediately was estimated between $8k-$25k…and possibly more.  It was an issue that would have to be approved by the city, which could take months.  There was another that was uncovered that could cost triple that estimate, not to mention the list of other “old home” problems that would have to be fixed before we could make cosmetic changes.  While the list grew, the thought of those two major issues lingered in front of us and overwhelmed us.  We were already starting to feel like we were drowning financially and we didn’t even own it.  I could feel my hopeful heart breaking.

I left the home inspection in tears knowing what we had to do.  I expected to comfort Justin and reassure him of the “old house” issues.  Except I was the one feeling like it was all too much.  And after a very serious conversation, we chose to walk away from our offer with very heavy hearts.  We could have at least tried to negotiate with the seller to fix the major issue or decrease the purchase price based on the inspection reports, but honestly, we felt slighted.  The owner had opened a permit with the city to fix the issue several years back, yet never fixed it and never listed the issue in the disclosures.  It didn’t come up until we were with one of the inspectors.  The seller even tried to hide it by hiring a company to “clean up” hours before our inspection.  We felt the owner should have been honest about the issue – instead it cost us $600 to discover what they already knew.

So, we walked away.  And I’ve spent all weekend silently sulking and asking Justin to remind me that we did the right thing.  Just looking at the picture of the house above still makes me really sad.  We kept ourselves busy this holiday weekend by working on our “to-do” list like we planned – doing the necessary work in prepping to list the current house.  We also treated ourselves to several nights out…you know, since we aren’t buying another house.  On the bright side, we get to enjoy a new toilet for a little big longer.  And we even talked about actually tackling the bathroom renovation.

I’m glad I could finally be honest with all of you.  I’ve spent the last 5 1/2 months finishing up projects and prepping to list my house.  Justin and I would like to eventually sell this home and find a new house together.  I’m sure we’ll find another home we love.  It could happen in a month or in 5 years and until then, I will enjoy every moment of living in my “first home.”  And I guarantee the projects won’t stop.  In fact, we already made a list of projects we are going to tackle this summer…since we’ll be here anyway.

Mary

Our search for a home continues and I promise I will update if we find anything.  Searching for a home is frustrating…atleast for us.  I am so thankful for Justin in this all of this.  We have kept each other within our budget (so far) and bring each other back to reality.  I was very apprehensive when when we first started looking for a new home together.  I thought he would want something “move in ready.”  Thankfully, the man has a love for the quirky, unique character and history of an old home.  And he’s not afraid of a little bit of work…or maybe he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. 

I thought I would share this quote I came across on Pinterest.  It should be the theme of our house search because most people wouldn’t find the beauty in some of the places we’ve been…

A New Throne

Happy Monday!  How was your weekend?  We had a weekend full of craziness.  After some garage sales, golf, red wings game, and good food indulgence on Friday and Saturday, we put our butts in gear on Sunday to get some work done.

I had so much to do that I hired help.  The free kind of help from Nancy and Will (the ‘rents).  Mom and Justin were hard at work cleaning out the landscaping, mulching, weeding, cutting grass and fixing the lawn.  Dad and I were occupied inside arguing over how to tighten a bolt on a toilet.

My efforts really need to focus on the exterior of the house this year. And I’m so thankful I had some help this weekend.  The projects really won’t take long (many can be tackled in a weekend or two), but we are more active in the summer so if we get these done early Justin can spend more time on the golf course and I can spend more time spray painting outdoors.

    • Trim tall trees  (September 2012)
    • Repave driveway (August 2012)
    • Replace garage door (December 2012)
    • Repair lawn (May 2013)
    • Trim bushes (May 2013)
    • Clean out landscaping (May 2013)
  • Mulch (May 2013)
  • Power wash house, fence, patio and porch
  • Seal concrete patio
  • Stain porch
  • Stain fence
  • Replace garage light

In the meantime, the bathroom renovation has been placed on a back burner (Remember way back in November when I shared my dreams for the bathroom). In order to extend the life of the bathroom I aimed to replace two problem-causing fixtures sooner than later.  Which is why dad and I were arguing over a toilet tank bolt.

Here’s a reminder of my original bathroom plan.  I still love this design so my focus is to work towards this final look.

Here is what the bathroom looks like today.  The trash and Kleenex now has to be kept in the bathroom closet because of a curious little dog who has a love for tissue…

Sometime in the 1970’s, my house was expanded to accommodate for wheelchair access, and the bathroom got some extra SF’s (as well as the kitchen and master bedroom).  The square footage in the bathroom increased about 20 sq feet.  Which doesn’t seem like much, but in a little 3 piece bathroom, you need all the space you can get.
The original fixtures are inefficient and faulty.  The toilet bulb breaks whenever it is being used frequently (with guests) so it would run and on a normal basis it would use between 5-7 gallons of water per flush.  The sink also has a bunch of issues.  It’s mounted really short (30″ from the floor to the top of the basin) to accommodate a wheelchair and the faucet dripped incessantly for 2 solid years (and probably many years before I bought the house).  I didn’t even try to fix it.  Oh, and the shower fixture isn’t super efficient either.
Problem:  Whole lotta water being wasted.
Solution:  Use less water.
The best solution to the issues was to replace the sink and toilet A-sap since this seemed to be the easiest solution.  I already knew what I wanted since I did the research back in November.  So I expected to spend about $600 to replace the toilet, sink, plumbing and faucet.
Because of my mad money-saving skills I actually was able to spend quite a bit less…I’ll get more into this later.  While garage-sale’ing with my friends Anna and Peter on Saturday (the day before the replacement), I found an American Standard white porcelain pedestal sink at one of the garage sales.  It probably wouldn’t work because I have restrictions on size (possible interference with the door), so I didn’t count on it.  The price was marked $40 – and after some negotiating I talked it down to $25. If it didn’t fit, I knew I could easily resell it.  The sink I planned to buy is sold for $180.  $25 garage sale sink for the win!
You can see the difference in height between the new sink and the original sink in the picture below (sorry for the Iphone picture):
Crazy, right? I’m so excited to have a normal sized sink.  In fact, I think everyone else is more excited than me.  The short sink was perfect for my 5’2-ness.  After standing them next to each other, I felt pretty good about the sink fitting.
I already had the sink, but still needed all the other goods.  Sunday morning we grabbed the last few items and we tallied up the bill (I was doing a happy dance when I came in under my $600 budget):
– American Standard Champion 4 Toilet – $188
– Soft-close toilet seat – $35
– Water supply (toilet, 1 line) – $5
– Water supply (sink, 2 lines) – $10
– Hardware for mounting sink to wall (2 washers w/lag bolts and 1 anchor) – $3
– Tank lever (oil-rubbed bronze) – $15
– DAP clear silicone – $7
– Plastic sink trap – $3
– Extra wax ring – $3 (we ended up needed this)
– Delta faucet – $108
– Garage sale sink – $25
Total – $402 (I used my Dad’s 10% military discount – which saved me $40!)
I could’ve saved an additional $142 by reusing the faucet from the garage sale sink and not getting the soft close toilet seat.  But…a soft close toilet seat is genius (guys love this kind of stuff.  Put a cool feature on a toilet seat and they’ll want to close it).  PS – if I ever sell my house that toilet seat is coming with me.
I would show a tutorial on how to replace a toilet and sink…but I had gloves on up to my elbows and wanted to spare you the grossness involved with removing a really old toilet (don’t worry, just a nasty wax mess and some toilet water…nothing too bad.  I just don’t want you to lose your dinner).
We only ran into one issue.  After we put the new toilet down and bolted it in, one of the bolts broke as we tightened it.  This meant that we had to remove the toilet, scrape off the wax, use a different bolt (thankfully the bolt from the original toilet was still strong) and use the extra wax ring.  A wax ring sits between the bottom of the toilet and the drain pipe – it looks and smells like earwax (yuck), but creates a secure seal so there’s no leakage.  Which is a very good thing when we’re talking toilets.  Each ring can only be used once.  If you ever have to remove the toilet (re-tiling or replacing) you’ll have to replace the wax ring to ensure a good seal again.
Lowe’s didn’t have the original fixture I wanted in stock.  I grabbed this one in place of my original choice because the handles can be swapped out with a porcelain one.  I also thought it looked farmhouse-ish.  Which is funny because my parents reminded me that they use the same faucets, and so did a friend.  We all have very different styles, so it shows how one fixture can be so versatile!
I grabbed the toilet lever not sure if I was going to use it or not.  I’m glad I did.  It ended up looking odd – I would either have to go all chrome or all ORB.
I’m more excited about the functionality than the look in the bathroom.  It’ll be nice not to “shimmy the handle” to get the faucet to stop dripping.
It’ll definitely look more put-together if I redo the tile and paint.  In the meantime, I am on the lookout for a mirror replacement.
Let’s look one more time at the vision..
Ahhhh…it’s so beautiful!
Oh wait…you want to see the soft-close in action?  I thought you might…  here you go 🙂
Men – you only have to lower the seat and the cover follows.  You should try it out sometime.
And the slightly dramatic before-and-much taller after:
Mom and Justin worked so hard in the yard.  It is so improved!  I was too embarrased to take before pictures…so if you were here for the Kentucky Derby Party, please rest assured that the backyard is much more appealing.
Thanks for reading!
Mary

Spring Cleaning: Master Closet and Storage Baskets

Even with a house that comes in at 1,000 sq feet, I find that I’m never short of projects.  Especially when I’m in spring cleaning mode.  Yesterday I shared how I organized my paint collection, and how I’ve cut back dog hair in my  house (with out getting rid of the dog).

Twice a year, I take an hour or so and walk around the house with a paint brush in hand and touch up marks, fingerprints, dirt and scratches on the walls and trim.  It’s amazing how dirty the walls get.

This year I spent a little extra time touching up with paint.  Something I would not have had to do if I protected the fresh paint job in the first place.  You can all learn from my mistakes.  Here’s the lesson:  in life, place felt pads on everything.

Some of you fancy people have walk-in closets.  Not me.  Walking into a closet surrounded by storage shelves and hanging rods would be such an inconvenience.  Can you hear the sarcasm? My little house has little closets.  It does help me to maintain control and keep myself accountable for every piece of clothing I own.  If I don’t wear it, I don’t have room to hang it and it gets donated (I do this four times a year).

Early last year I designed built-ins for my little master bedroom closet to increase the storage capacity.  I considered purchasing the pre-built closet organizers, but I decided that custom fit organizers would provide the most efficient storage (and…it was cheaper to build it).  I designed my closet and built them using affordable MDF sheets (all said and done, two custom closet organizers handmade cost me less than one purchased closet organizer).  Prior to creating organizers, the closet had one clothes-hanging bar and a long shelf over it.  Sorry, I don’t have ‘before’ pictures.

Here is the current setup for the master closet (oops, I have 5 storage baskets, not 6):

Redesigning the master bedroom closet provided me so much additional storage that I no longer had a need for a dresser.  I still have the dresser in the bedroom, now it’s sole purpose is to hold my modest jewelry box.

I used MDF to create the shelving and painted it a white semi-gloss finish.  The design worked perfect for me.  But after a year of daily use, the brown baskets had left horrible marks from being pulled in and out twice a day.  Not like I expect anyone to notice this other than me.  It drove me crazy every time I opened up the closet.

So sad…

I took out the baskets and repainted everything.  Because, you know, I get bored after dinner.

I used paint I already had on hand (Ultra White Semi Gloss – the same paint that I use for all the trim) and let it dry overnight.

After allowing the paint to dry, my closet was looking pretty once again:

In order to keep it looking good, I added felt pads to the bottom of the baskets.  Such an easy fix…why didn’t I think of this a year ago? Sticking the pads to the bottom of each basket took a total of 3 minutes.  Really wish I would’ve thought of  this a year ago.

It’s actually been 6 weeks since I placed felt pads on the bottom of the baskets.  Each basket is used twice a day and the paint job has held up very well.

The felt pads, on the other hand, have popped off a few times.  And my little doxie loves to chew on those rogue felt pads.  Trying to lure him out from under the center of the bed while he had a forbidden item was like trying to get Justin to turn off the Cardinals game.  It’s not going to happen.

To prevent another trip to the doggie ER because Joe swallowed yet another item he shouldn’t have, I added a little bit of hot glue to provide a stronger hold between the felt pad and the basket.  They’re doing very well.  Now Joe just steals socks.

Taken 6 weeks after repainting and adding felt pads.  Still holding up.

Have you started your spring cleaning? What spring cleaning projects have you tackled?

 

Mary
Linking up this week with the Inspire Me Please Linky Party #6.  Thank you for visiting!  If you haven’t seen the other projects yet take a minute to browse the link party.

Spring Cleaning: Spice Drawer Reorg

I hate clutter.  So when I designed my kitchen, I made sure there was enough space to stash away those items that would normally “clutter” my countertops.  Including the spice rack.  I use the drawer next to my stove to store my spices, which provides quick and easy access to my entire collection.  My spice drawer is already pretty organized, but I’ve been on the lookout for some new labels.  The labels that I currently use were given to me by my grandma, and are probably a good 40 years old.  And therefore, many spice labels were missing and therefore, some spices were labeled with an initial.

The labels were hard to see clearly and many of them were peeling.

I’ve been eyeing these adorable labels by Mignon Kitchen for a few months.  If you don’t mind spending the cash, I would recommend ordering up these colorful labels for your own organized pantry.  I didn’t want to spend $16 on something I could create myself so I set out on a mission to find cute labels that also happened to be free.

That’s when I came across Chalkboard Spice Jar Labels by Emily McDowell.  In case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy a chalkboard or two.

There’s just something about the contrast of black and white that draws me to it.  Even better yet, her chalkboard labels can be downloaded here for free, and if you have more spices than whats listed on those labels, you can write your own here!  You can view other downloadable labels here.  I so love this site that I plan on labeling. everything. everywhere.
I only have 18 spice jars with gray tops that I got from Ikea a few years ago.  The set (Ikea Rationell Variera) has since been discontinued, so I was unable to grab a few more jars.  I didn’t want to spend money on a new set, so I reused empty spice jars I have been saving.  The glass jars I had saved were all the same (from Trader Joe’s or Spice Hunter), but the tops were both green and black.
I removed all the plastic tops and spray painted them all the same color.  I only painted the outside of the caps not wanting the spices to come into contact with the paint, then I allowed them to dry for a full 24 hours before placing them onto the jars.  For the jars that still had the label on them I just soaked the outside of the jar in water for 5 minutes and the labels fell right off.

 

Using a 1 1/2″ punch, I cut out the chalkboard labels.  Then sprayed each label with a mist of Spray Adhesive (I use this adhesive here).   Tip: use a set of old pliers to hold the label while you spray it with adhesive to keep your fingers from getting sticky.

Here is the newly organized spice drawer:

Stacking the new jars upright will allow me to add more spices to this drawer and still offer full view of all items.

This was a sneaky way of adding more chalkboard to the kitchen.

I can actually read the labels now too!

I’m hoping the larger labels will also eliminate this conversation…

Justin – “Where is the Chili Powder?”
Me – “It’s in the spice drawer.”
Justin – “I don’t see it”
Me – “It’s in the spice drawer.”
Justin – “It’s not here”
Me – walk over to the spice drawer, grab the jar and hand Justin the Chili Powder
Justin – “Where is the Cayenne Pepper?”

Okay, maybe it won’t help.  But if Justin’s asking for these ingredients it means he’s making my very favorite summertime recipe ever.  So I’ll continue to grab the spices for him.  You can find a version of my favorite Aw Shucks Corn here (we use a mixture of Cayenne Pepper and Chili Powder rather than the Ancho Chile Powder…). 

I think there are two types of people in the world.  The type that love to label everything but still lose things…and the type that hate labeling but always know where everything is at.  What type are you??  

If I put a label on my phone that said “PHONE” I wonder if I would always know where it is….

Mary (Lost Phone Syndrome sufferer)

Linking up this week with the Inspire Me Please Linky Party #6.  Thank you for visiting!  If you haven’t seen the other projects yet take a minute to browse the link party.

Spring Cleaning: Uses for Vodka (Other than Drinking It)

Over the years my liquor cabinet has grown quite large and…doesn’t get much use wahh wahh wahh.  I know, sad story, right? I’ve accumulated a few bottles of liquor that I, myself, will never reach for.  I may have the occasional martini…like the once every 6 months kind of martini, and I’ll dust off the bottle of Ketel One to brew one up.
Occasionally, an opened bottle of “cheap” vodka will wind up at my house (following a little friend get-together) and sit on my liquor shelf for years accumulating dust.  Justin doesn’t touch vodka, and when friends come over they tend to reach for the good stuff too.
I cleaned out my liquor collection last month and decided to pare down my collection…beginning with the cheap vodka.  Don’t worry, I didn’t dump it down the drain.  I am still in my 20’s…. and that would just be considered alcohol abuse.  Instead, I found a few ways to repurpose it.
Dear friends, if you leave vodka at my house I will use it to freshen my sheets and deodorize stinky shoes.  PS – Tommy….your Rich & Rare is safe for now since I have yet to find a use for whatever this stuff is. 
Some of you may be very disappointed that you’ve been led here.  For those of you that would rather drink your vodka and don’t have such a sensitive stomach, please quickly scroll to the bottom of this post.  If you’re still reading and enjoy a little resourcefulness…please continue.
I think you’ll be surprised how great vodka is for use around the household.  Turns out that vodka is a great deodorizer, disinfectant, and is an antiseptic.  This is how you know you’re getting older.  You find resourceful uses for liquor other than drinking it.
1) Lavender Linen Spray
Vodka is a great disinfectant, which is perfect to spritz on sheets and towels between washings.  Not to mention a little spritz on the couch or carpet helps fend off the lovely scent o’ dog that tends to follow my two little pooches.
2 c. water (ideally, you’ll want to use distilled water.  I do not.)
1/2 c. vodka
50 drops lavender oil (or another essential oil you prefer)
Mix the above ingredients and store in a clean spray bottle.
I love lavender.  Any time I can make my house smell more like spring (and less like dog) in the dead of a Michigan winter always makes me a little happier.  Can I say how excited I am to throw open the windows!?  C’mon Michigan, heat up already!  Just maybe not quite to spider-lurking temps yet.
2) Homemade Vanilla

Making your own homemade vanilla is so easy.  It just requires a little bit of patience.

1 1/4 c. vodka
7 vanilla beans
Measure out 1 1/4 c. of vodka and pour into a clean and sanitized bottle.  Slice 7 vanilla beans down the center to expose the inner bean and then place the sliced beans into the bottle.  Seal the bottle well and store for 8 weeks before use.  Shake the bottle a few times each week to stir up the goodness.  At the end of 8 weeks remove the vanilla beans, seal up the bottle and use for all your vanilla-needing baked goods.
How about cooking up a batch of biscotti with your homemade concoction (and then send some cookies my way)?
3) Fragrance Oil
I am not a fan of strong scents, and often find that many candle scents or fragrance oils are too strong and irritate my sinuses.  Using vodka, I can actually make my own and I know that it’s pure and natural (and I can control the strength).
4 oz. any vegetable oil (do not use olive oil as it can become rancid – I use sunflower oil)
1 tsp vodka
20 drops (or so) of your favorite fragrance (I use lavender)
5 reeds (which can be found at craft stores)
Place ingredients in a bottle and shake up.  Do not place a lid on the bottle, instead insert reeds that stick about 2-3 in. out of the top and place in a room.  The reeds will draw the fragrance into the air.  Flip the reeds every week or so to keep the fragrance fresh.
4) Fresh-cut Flower Preserver
I look forward to spring so I can bring in the fresh peonies from the garden.  I love the look of fresh flowers, but am always sad about how long they last.  So I’m on the look-out for ways to keep my fresh-cut flowers looking fresher longer.  This recipe works great, but you do have to swap out the water mixture daily otherwise the water gets cloudy.
1 tsp sugar
a couple drops of vodka
Add the mixture to a vase filled with water.  Make a fresh mixture every few days and this should keep your flowers perky and fresh for longer.
5) Shoe and Clothing Deodorizer
I keep a little spray bottle of undiluted vodka near the shoe rack to help disinfect and deodorize my running shoes.  It only takes a few sprays after the gym to keep them clean.
For this use, you’ll want the vodka to be undiluted.  Spray the shoes (or clothing) until slightly damp and allow to air dry.  Vodka is a great deodorizer and is safe on “dry clean only” clothing.  I’ve never had an issue with colors fading, but you may want to test it in a small area before spraying the entire garment.
I did some additional research on vodka uses and found that it can be used in many other ways that I haven’t tried yet.  It can wash away the uroshiol oil from Poison Ivy to prevent a reaction if it’s applied immediately after exposure, it can be used as a bug repellent (so maybe it’s a good idea to enjoy a martini on those hot summer nights outside), can scrub away mold and can remove rust from bolts and nails.
Don’t forget to toast to your resourcefulness.  May I suggest a shaken dirty vodka martini with a few blue cheese stuffed olives?
I guess I can call this the sixth use of vodka.  Maybe consider using the top shelf stuff and save yourself the headache in the AM.  Unless you’re one of those lucky people who can enjoy a strong cocktail and not suffer the consequences.  
I am not one of those fortunate people.
Mary
Linking up this week with the Inspire Me Please Linky Party #6.  Thank you for visiting!  If you haven’t seen the other projects yet take a minute to browse the link party.

Spring Window Shopping – Homegoods

When it comes to clothing and accessories, I’m not a shopper.  I either shop online or hit the mall to visit my one or two stores and then I get the heck out.  My wardrobe is much like my home decor – pretty neutral and classic with a few accent pieces.  I own two purses and ten pairs of shoes (including boots and sandals).

But when it comes to home decor, I can window shop for an entire day.  Once you get me into the Potterybarn Outlet it’ll be tough to get me out.  Justin (and my bank account) is lucky PB outlet is over an hour away.  I have mapped out the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ HomeGoods in the area and I’ve learned who gets the best inventory.  My friends and I are always swapping text messages with photos showing items we think the other would like.  So when my bff suggested that I write a post on window shopping at my favorite stores I was all for it!

On Sunday, I began an inauguarl window shopping trip to HomeGoods and took pictures of items I would consider taking home.  Enjoy!

First things first – if you’ve ever shopped HomeGoods, you know that the glass and kitchenware is right in front.  This is my favorite place to hit up for white serving dishes.  I love white dishes.  They are timeless and so easy to match from several different sources.  You can avoid being too matchy-matchy by snagging all different styles.  Below are a couple of serving dishes that I like.  The white pedestal bowl was $6.99, the bowl with the handles $9.99 (I collected a similar set of these from HomeGoods a year ago) and that cake stand in the back, only $12.99.  I think the serving platter was around $15.

My favorite way to add color to the kitchen is through drinking glasses and towels.  They are both easy enough to swap out as styles change.  I’m loving this color.  These towels would make a beautiful accent in any kitchen.  They were $7.99 and come in a set of 4.  I almost grabbed the set on the right….but alas, I don’t NEED them so they stayed there.

This aisle just makes me happy.  Outdoor cushions are in stock at HomeGoods.  And they go fast!  I tried looking for a set of 4 matching cushions last year in July.  Forget it.  They’re long gone by then!  If you need some cute cushions to accent your patio furniture these are a great deal.  Each set comes with two cushions for $29.99 – normally you can expect to pay at least $30 for each cushion!  I know this.  Last year I was on a hunt to get a good price on good quality cushions (you know, the kind where you can’t feel the furniture slats beneath), and $22 each on clearance at the end of the season was the best price I could find.

Outdoor furniture is finally out.  This means summer is right around the corner, right? This textured garden stool caught my eye.  It can be used as a side table, a stool or ottoman and adds a ton of texture and color to a little corner.  It was way overpriced at $79.99! I would check the clearance aisles for this in a few months.

This cage terrarium thing ($49.99) was in the outdoor aisle, but I wouldn’t let this sit outside.  It has my name all over it.  I can see it sitting on a buffet table or at the top of an armoire with candles in it, and maybe some greenery for Christmas.  I could even picture this being used to hold a bride and grooms cards at a rustic-style wedding. It’s much bigger than it looks in the pictures and it would be able to hold a couple hundred cards.

The pillow aisle in my weekness and my favorite way to add accent colors to my rooms.  But I can’t bring any more home.  There’s already a pillow on every chair in my house…including the dining room chairs.  So I saved them for you.  This robin’s egg blue (which looks more baby blue in this picture) caught my eye.  I can see it on a couch with a bunch of white and cream-colored pillows or even paired with coral or yellow.  Pillows at HomeGoods run between $16.99-$19.99 and most of them are stuffed with feathers (not stuffing like the Target ones).

f I found this seafan art 6 months ago when I was on a blue kick I would’ve snagged this.  This print was large at around 24″ high and was only $29.99.  I think the frame would look beautiful painted in white or black and hanging above a couch or in a hallway.

These canvas’s were a little high at $39.99 each, but they were also large scale.  I immediately imagined these hung above a white couch in a room with a coastal feel.  I really loved these so much, but I just don’t have a space for them.  Hm…maybe if I redo my office…. I also think this would be a great DIY project!! 

Okay, this shelf belongs in my house.  If Justin was with me he would’ve convinced me to drag this to the car…but I’m the “mull it over” kind of person so I walked away.  I have been looking for a shelf or cabinet for the kitchen (directly across from the basement stairs) and this would be so perfect.  Especially when stacked with white dishes.  Seriously.  I had to tear myself away from this.  Seeing the price definitely helped.  $399.99.  This was love at first sight.  We never even had a chance.  I will have dreams about storing potatoes and onions in those metal baskets tonight.  Ugh..I just noticed the casters.  I’m going to cry myself to sleep now.  Anyone know of a 50% off coupon??  

If you love garden stools they still have some at HomeGoods.  I found this guy in the clearance aisle.  Hold up…HG must’ve wisened up about their garden stool prices because it was marked down on clearance to $35.  That was the original price last year.  Sneaky, HG…very sneaky.

As I was leaving (empty handed), this gorgeous walnut Boos called my  name.  I have never seen a Boos cutting board at HG.  I may or may not have petted it.  If I didn’t already have my very own Boos I may have carried this out of the store under my shirt.  Justin’s mom and dad spoiled the heck out of me this year and surprised me with a Boos for Christmas – that’s right, they’re on target to become the best in-laws. Ever.  The HomeGoods pricing didn’t offer much discount, but if you’re in the market for a Boos then keep an eye out at HG for a little discount – and this walnut finish was stunning.

I hope you enjoyed a FREE shopping trip to HomeGoods! Psst…if you end up buying that shelf you are obligated to invite me over so I can stare at it. In a totally not creepy kind of way.

Mary

Spring Cleaning: Paint Supply Organizing

This week I am looking forward to doing a segment on Spring Cleaning.  Expect to see an array of different ways I’ve cleaned and organized my house.  If this isn’t your thang, then feel free to skip reading this week…

I. Love. To. Clean.  Seriously.  It’s how I relax.  There are nights when I stay up until midnight to dust the baseboards.  Because once I decide something needs to be done I have to tackle it.  Otherwise it will keep me up at night.  When I get in cleaning and organizing mode, nothing is safe.  Not even the dogs.

Lucy before and after; sporting her spring look.

I don’t even remember why I started shaving Lucy.  Maybe it was when we moved to California?  I don’t know.  Either way, it was genius.  Yeah, it’s a little high maintenance, but Lucy stays cleaner longer and she sheds minimally.  Dust accumulates on my hardwood floors way before dog hair.  I go from sweeping every 2-3 days to only having to sweep once a week or less!  I am a dog person (in case you haven’t been able to tell), but I hate the hair.  Perfect scenario, I can have my big, snuggly dog I love and only a fraction of the hair.
Anyway, on to more desperate areas of my house.  As part of my spring cleaning run, I tackled my paint supply shelves lingering in the basement.  Remember the last time I shared the updates in the basement?  The storage/laundry/workshop room was demanding attention.  I am finally starting to attack this mess.
One of the items I have really been itching to organize is my paint collection.  When I moved into the house I cleared out most of the paint from the previous owner since I didn’t plan on using any of the same paint colors (with the exception of the exterior paint).
Over the past 2 years, every square inch of my house has been painted.  Including hardware, furniture and light fixtures.  Which means that my spray paint supply and paint cans were growing out of control.
Here is a little glimpse at what the paint supply looks like now:
And what it looked like before:
I always wrote on the paint can with a sharpie what room the paint was used in.  However, I would still have to move around large cans while standing on my toes trying to locate the one can that looked like all the rest.  The new organized shelf offers me a full view of all colors and a label that clearly tells what color the paint is, what the sheen is and where in my house it was applied.
I found a few 1 qt empty paint cans at Ace on clearance for $1 each.  I bought 4 with the intent of organizing my paint storage.
I already had a few cans that are quart-sized (like the Chalkboard paint and the floor paint).  All I did for these was remove the original label and create a new label.
I had two gallon cans that had >1 qt of paint remaining.  I left the paint in their original cans, removed the label and replaced with my own.
That yellow paint can in the back is still brand new.  I got it on a really good sale from Pittsburgh Paints and purchased it untinted.  Whenever I get the itch to repaint a room I just have to take this down to the store to get tinted (for free).
For those paint cans that had 1 qt of paint or less left in the gallon can I scrapped out the paint with an old rubber scraper from the kitchen, sealed up the can (by pounding it with a rubber mallet) and placed a label on it.  These are just simple labels I printed up and cut out, sprayed with spray adhesive and stuck on.  I was able to clear out most of the large cans.
Each label states the brand, color, sheen and where it has been used.
I also have a little obsession with spray paint:
I had to dedicate at least 30 seconds to finding the correct color or finish while searching through this overflowing wooden crate.  Why I had them in a crate…no idea.  I’m glad I did though because I had forgotten that I had this.  Remember that crate – you might see it again soon 🙂
All I did was sort through the spray paint and organize it by finish and color.
Now I can clearly see which colors I have on hand.  No more searching and no more buying something I already own.
I also added a quick reference sheet for the entire house and adhered it to the shelf:
I can tell you exactly what the color is on every wall, floorboard and trim piece in my house.  This isn’t for my reference.  You’ve chosen godparents for your children, right? Or maybe created a will?  This is my guide to someone who has to care for my house should I sell it or should something happen to me.  No excuses for a faulty touch up on the baseboard with Ultra White Eggshell!  Now I can rest assured that there’s no mistake about what paint to use on any wall throughout the house.
A little OCD? Maybe.  But it helps me sleep at night.
Have you started your spring cleaning?  My spring cleaning really goes all year round.  I’m always looking for new ways to help make my home more organized and efficient.  Don’t be surprised if you get a tour of the paint shelves next time you visit.
Mary
Linking up this week with the Inspire Me Please Linky Party #6.  Thank you for visiting!  If you haven’t seen the other projects yet take a minute to browse the link party.

Reupholstering a Chair

I’ve never reupholstered anything.  The last time I sewed something was when I reattached a rogue button onto a fall jacket.  But I had a chair sitting in my basement for the last 6 months and Justin was threatening to toss it.

So I finally tackled this project, not knowing what the heck I was doing, and managed to do it with out picking up a needle and thread.  I did what I do best and I figured it out through trial and error.  It’s not perfect, but it’s almost exactly what I had imagined.

And, since we all know I love a bargain, this chair was saved for less than $30.  It does help that I got the chair for free.

I saved this chair from the trash back in August.  It was a wedding gift to my grandparents back in 1950-something, and while we were moving my grandmother out of her house and into her apartment, she had set this aside in the trash pile.  The chair frame itself seemed to be in great condition.  The arms and legs were solid – the fabric and padding just needed a little a whole lotta love.

I could feel Justin’s stare as I loaded the chair into the car.  The man lacks vision people.  Okay, so it was really ugly.  The seat was torn and had been taped back together (my grandma fixes everything with duct tape), but I knew I could make it beautiful.

As a very first reupholster project, I’m not going to lie, this was difficult.  I probably should have chosen a seat cushion to cover first.  But I had this chair, and it was free.  So, if I messed it up, it wouldn’t be a total loss since it had been destined for the dump anyway.

I’m not going to bore you with a full tutorial, I’m just going to break it down in a few steps.  If you want to reupholster a chair correctly, go check out a blog where the writer knows what they’re doing.  I try to keep my tutorials clean and therefore left out all the frustration and cursing that occurred during this process.

To start the project, I first removed all the different fabric pieces so I could use them as a template in cutting out the new fabric.  This chair has 6 different pieces of fabric.  I highlighted them for you below.

That plan quickly failed when I spent 3 hours trying to remove the fabric.  Nothing came off in full pieces.  As I touched it the fill released into fine dust particles and the fabric fell to shreds.  I almost threw in the towel and threw this to the curb.  Justin was finally starting to cheer me on (when I announced I was going to throw this out).

I didn’t want my time to be completely wasted, so instead I chose to cover the existing fabric.  Not wasting any more time on removing the fabric, I got to work sanding down and refinishing the wooden arms and legs.

I re-stained the woodwork in Minwax Ebony (since it’s what I had on hand).

I added a 2″ foam core to the seat back since I knew I couldn’t recreate that folded fabric look.  This would provide either a smooth back or an option to tuft the back.  Either way, it saved me work and the size of foam I got at Hobby Lobby fit the back perfect.  I didn’t even have to trim it.

Since I was only going to recover the existing fabric, I wrapped the chair in batting to provide a softer chair and hold the foam in place.  The batting is from Joanne’s and came in a twin bed size (it’s made for quilting).  I folded the batting in half and cut two square pieces (one for the seat and one for the back).  I stretched it tight, cut around the arms and legs and stapled it into place.

Then trimmed the excess.  I did not apply batting to the backside of the chair.  If I added tufting later I would have to remove it, and batting on the back seemed unnecessary anyway.

It wasn’t until I added the batting that Justin was finally convinced that it could be beautiful.

I knew I wanted a linen fabric (trying to reupholster with a print was a bit too ambitious), and after pricing everything out, linen cost about $15/yard and I needed at least 3 yards (maybe more to accommodate for mistakes).  It turns out that a canvas drop cloth looks very similar to linen…and is so much cheaper.  Like $10 (or less) for 3 yards.  And since I knew I would be making mistakes, I liked the idea of only a $10 mistake.

*While shopping around for a drop cloth, I found that the drop cloth at Lowe’s is a more consistent material.  The ones at Home Depot have colored fibers running through it – not what I wanted for my project.  The prices are about the same.  I ended up getting the largest drop cloth I could find.  It was $32, and would provide enough fabric for several projects I had in mind.  Including this reupholstering project.

I washed the drop cloth twice to soften up the fibers and preshrink the fabric.

The original chair had 6 pieces of fabric.  I decided to make the seat one piece and the back two pieces because that just seemed easier.  I cut two squares from the washed drop cloth.  Then I laid the fabric across the seat and began to stretch and staple until it looked good.  I had to make a few cuts where the arms and legs were, so I cut the fabric and folded down the cut edge.  It’s certainly not perfect.  There’s one spot where I cut a bit too much.  But other than this, it turned out pretty awesome.  No sewing required.

I would like to add upholstery tacks or glue down the edges to keep the folded edges secure.  I’m still thinking this over.  I also haven’t placed the final piece of fabric on the back since I’m still contemplating tufting it.

Cost breakdown (I already had some of the stuff on hand):

Sandpaper – $0
Stain – $0
Foam Brushes & Rags – $0
Staple Gun and Staples – $0
Batting – $13 (after using my 50% off coupon at Joanne’s)
Foam Back – $3 (after using a 40% off coupon at HL)
Drop Cloth – $7 (I only used 1/5 of the drop cloth to reupholster the chair)

The chair fits perfectly next to the  mantle in the dining room.  This is my new favorite corner in the house.

Source List:
Pillow – HomeGoods
Garden Stool – HomeGoods and refinished here
Sheepskin Rug – Local leather shop
Mirror – Family antique passed down
Egg Print – Free from www.vintageprintables.com
Mantle – Created here
Candle holder – made by Jan Barboglio (this was a Christmas gift)
Tortise Shell – Nate Berkus collection at Target
Artichoke looking thing – HomeGoods
I’m pretty impressed with the results.  What do you think? The drop cloth gave me the exact look I was going for and it didn’t break the bank.  The only drawback is stain resistance.  I plan to spray this with scotchguard to help protect the fabric.
Mostly protection from muddy paws.  From at least these 4 muddy paws.
 Thanks for reading!!
Mary
Linking up this week with the Inspire Me Please Linky Party #6 and the Simply Create Link Party.  Thank you for visiting!  If you haven’t seen the other projects yet take a minute to browse the link party.

February Mantle – a Very Valentine Wreath

Thank you so much to The Francis Family Blog for showcasing my Mason Jar Chandelier for the Dogs Day of Winter “Thrift-it” Challenge!  I was so excited to see that my project was chosen.  It made for very happy day!

While having my morning coffee last week, I looked up to notice that my beadboard ceiling is taking a beating this winter.  Last winter this happened and I spent a weekend caulking every panel and repainting the ceiling.  I figured since it was the first winter for the beadboard I would experience cracks from the wood shrinking.  Granted, not every seam has cracked (yet), but there are at least a half a dozen.  I didn’t think I would have to do this annually! These are the pine beadboard planks (not the sheets) and I primed the front back and sides of every board before installation and acclimated them to the house for 7 days prior to install.  Maybe it’s the brand of caulk? I used DAP Alex Fast Dry (all three times).  Maybe it’s just a yearly maintenance? Anyone else experience this? This could make me loathe beadboard. I don’t want to hate beadboard!!

So I spent my weekend caulking and painting a bunch of beadboard seams.  I wrapped up a few more things in the basement renovation (promise I’ll update soon), did a few DIY projects and crossed off a ton of to-do list stragglers that have been neglected.  I spent the majority of my Sunday touching up all the paint in the house, re-caulking and putting the finishing touches on a few crown and base moulding pieces.  I have offically finished all work on the main floor so that I can focus my DIY energy on the basement the next few weeks – I’m down to the wall paint, flooring and trim stage!

I was able to work on a few fun projects this weekend and I’m so excited to share them!  It was time to switch up the mantle so I created this fun look for February.  And I thought this would be a great project to share for the 3rd challenge of the Dogs Day of Winter Linky Party. This week is ‘Make-it.’ Please visit Liz Marie Blog to see what other fantastic ideas are being shared!  I’m also linking up with The Valentine’s Day Party at The Shabby Creek Cottage Blog

I have seen a similar method done on other blogs to make a heart-shaped wreath.  While hearts really aren’t my thing, I loved that the wreath had a ton of texture and it looked easy enough.  It really was easy!


I bought 10 sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ felt in pink from Michael’s.  I was able to get 8 circles from each piece of felt.  Which worked out perfect because it took 80 circles of felt to create this.  The worst part is cutting out these circles.  I cut the circles from the felt while I was letting a potato soup simmer (I was totally craving this soup for a week).  I used really sharp scissors – which allowed me to cut out 2-4 circles at a time by doubling up the felt and it ended up taking about 25 minutes..

Then I prepped the wreath form.

I covered the form with ribbon for two reasons.  One, it would dress up the back of the wreath, and it would  allow me to use a hot glue gun to adhere the felt circles.  The hot glue gun would melt the styrofoam form if I hadn’t covered it.  I had planned on using burlap to cover the form, but the burlap was in the back of my car and Justin had it…and since I’m not patient enough to wait 20 minutes I dug into my ribbon stash to find an alternative.  My grandma off-loaded this vintage ribbon on me when she was purging her gift-wrapping supplies.  This pink ribbon is probably older than me!

After the wreath was covered, I fired up the glue gun and starting the process of adding the felt circles.  First I folded one of the circles in half, and then folded it in half again.

I read that others used a pin to secure the circles to the wreath.  I didn’t have pins, and I also felt like the hot glue gun would provide a more secure hold.

I started the first row on the inside of the wreath.  Then created a second row, and a third.

Three rows was enough to cover everything.  I probably could’ve done a fourth row, but the thought of cutting out 40 more felt circles didn’t sound like fun anymore.

While I love the pink wreath, I kinda would like an ivory colored one too for a general winter decoration.  I think this would be a great addition to a barn wedding 🙂 (Anna…I’m talking to you!)

What do you think?  It reminds me of an Anthropologie wreath I saw a year or so ago that I loved…I wish I had a picture of it.  It was made of a frayed ivory fabric and it looked so rusticly romantic.

Now I need to start planning an organizer for my wreaths.  The amount I have is getting out of hand!

What February projects do you have going on? If you make this wreath (or any other February wreaths) please share your projects!
Mary

More Scalloped Nursery Letters…

Remember when I created these scalloped letters last month? They went over pretty well and my friend loved them!  And I thought this would be a great project to share for the 3rd challenge of the Dogs Day of Winter Linky Party.  This week is ‘Make-it.’  Please visit Liz Marie Blog to see what other fantastic ideas are being shared!

I made these as a Christmas gift for my best friend’s little girls.  They share a room and I thought these would look adorable above their beds.

So when I had another friend who is expecting her first child, a little boy, I had to create one for her as well.  Especially since I’m a little partial to his name!  The ‘H’ is for Harrison.  An awesome name, right?!  My cousin’s have a friend with this name and my favorite actor also has this name….you may know him…Harrison Ford.  I have a weird crush on him… still.  The actor, not my cousin’s friend.

I used the same method – just made it more appropriate for a boy’s room.

The original tutorial can be found here.  I’ve heard that they make a great gift 🙂

If you make one of these I would love to see what you created!  Thanks for reading!

Mary