Light My Fire

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I’m still not used to the weather here in Richmond. Growing up in Jersey and living in New York for 6 years taught me that come September, mother nature means business. Up North, it routinely dropped from the high 90s in August to the low 50s in September, and I hardly ever got to beak out my shiny new fall jacket before I needed my big down winter one. Well Richmond is a completely different ballgame. Averaging 0.00 inches of snow accumulation every winter, it’s a much more mild climate and snow shovels are optional. And we have four full seasons here! I’m still adjusting to the 74 degree fall weather (Thursday’s forecast) in November.

Playing Plumber: How To Fix A Leaky Pedestal Sink

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The weekend kicked off with what seemed to be our biggest plumbing project ever. Mainly because it required turning off water to the entire house (which involved me sticking my hand down a muddy, bug-filled hole in the front yard with a tiny wrench as my only weapon.) We were fixing a small leak the floor guys created when they re-installed our bathroom pedestal sink. It couldn’t be fixed by simply turning off the water under the sink because that shut-off valve was the very source of our problem. And the last thing we wanted was a leak onto our new floor. Luckily, we had been able to temporarily tame the leak by turning off

The Grass is Always (Getting) Greener

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So you saw how we made way for grass in the backyard (not quite ready for an “after” picture yet) but we never mentioned that we were also reseeding the front yard. Consider this your official notice. I’m experiencing yard déjà vu because it was just last fall that we did our major front yard makeover by removing the jungle that completely obscured our house and replaced it with much-less-obstructive grass. It made a huge difference, as you can see here. Now, we’ve been forced (somewhat unwillingly) into growing grass again because of a dying tree. That big, forked tree that you can see on the right side of our main blog photo was on

Model Citizens

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John and I completed a huge task this weekend- painting the living room (the largest room of the house) a neutral tan (Glidden’s Sand White) from a pale green. It looks much better with that big doorway leading into our kitchen and our new dining set, huh? Now we can cook, eat, entertain, and relax in one big open space as opposed to being in three separate rooms. Plus turning the living room into a living and dining area freed up the dining room which we turned into a third bedroom- a totally valuable addition to our home. And after all that rolling and edging, we were dying to do something entertaining and non-labor intensive.

Backsplash Backlash

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This morning we excitedly met with our Certified Kitchen Designer to finalize the plans for our cabinets and countertops. We’re super psyched to post pics of all the materials we’ve chosen (KraftMaid cabinets, Stonemark Granite countertops, etc) so stay tuned for that fun stuff. In the meantime, we’re having a moment of indecisiveness about the backsplash. One easy option is to continue our granite a few inches up the wall to act as a backsplash and then keep the rest of the area under the top cabinets a semi-gloss paint. This option really appeals to us because we would be able to easily change the paint color should our kitchen need a fun update down

Updating Our Laundry Nook With Bamboo Blinds

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Here’s that washer & dryer update that you’ve all been asking for. Yesterday our fab front loading washer & dryer (which ended up being floor models due to Lowe’s SELLING THE ONES WE ALREADY PURCHASED!) arrived in near perfect condition. In fact, the dryer is flawless and the washer has only a tiny scratch on the top that you’d need a magnifying glass to locate. So all in all, we’re actually thrilled that Lowe’s messed up and sold our new models since the floor models are just as nice (and ended up saving us another 150 bucks, bringing our total discount on the washer and dryer to $500- amazing!). In fact, they told us we

Old School

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Remember that old, gross wallpaper we found after demoing the chair rail in our dining room turned third bedroom? Well, over the past couple of weeks we’ve uncovered some other “interesting” design choices made by the original owners. For instance, when the kitchen cabinets came down we found this toothpaste green paint under the sink: And when the floor guys took up the layers of linoleum on Monday, they revealed the original faux-brick flooring (to match the faux-brick backsplash, maybe?): I can’t even wrap my mind around how this floor and the paint looked with the knotty pine cabinets and “green monster” appliances. But the kitchen wasn’t the only room showcasing questionable patterns and colors.

Hands Off Our Washer, Fella

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Someone stole our washer and dryer. Well, sort of. Sherry got a call today from our now-former-best-friend Robert at Lowe’s who, if you recall, had scored us a great deal on some appliances a couple weeks ago. Robert’s news: They accidentally sold our washer and dryer. ???!??!?!!!??!?!!!??!?????!!!!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!?!?!?!?!?????!!!! Now that that’s out of my system I’ll continue. Apparently, some mastermind at Lowe’s delivered our spankin’ new Whirlpool appliances to a family that had actually bought the floor models at a discount. Lucky family, eh? Since Lowe’s can’t get ours back AND they were the only ones left in stock in Richmond, what do we get stuck with – you guessed it – the floor models. I’ll

Target, sigh.

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It is mind-boggling that Target has not even been mentioned thus far into our blogging experience. It is our home away from home (along with Lowe’s) and has provided us with many a piece of furniture that we adore. In fact, our Thomas O Brien media console, two leather storage ottomans, dining table, Magnavox flat panel TV and gorge Victoria Hagan end tables all hail from Tarjay (the French pronunciation is tres chic, non?). And last night we made out like bandits again. We returned home with a swank leather Parsons chair for my desk ($99), a stainless steel floor lamp ($29) for our light deprived den, and this ironstone serving platter ($9) along with

Hammer Time: The Sequel

I couldn’t help but share this only-slightly-off-topic article from today’s Washington Post called Taking a Whack Against Comcast (it has to do with a hammer, so it’s home related, right?). I had originally read this story a couple weeks ago in a local paper, after a front-page photo caption caught my attention – it read: “What the hell? I’m 75!” The Post was a little more restrained with their captioning, but the story is the same: Comcast screws with old lady. Old lady gets angry. Old lady takes hammer to Comcast office. Things in Comcast office get smashed. Cops arrest old lady. Peasants (i.e. Comcast customers like myself) rejoice. Not that I’m endorsing her technique,

Hammer Time: The Pros (& Cons) Of Hiring House Help

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It’s time to lower the gavel- er, hammer- in judgment of each of the three specialists that we’ve worked with so far. Here are the cold hard facts: WHO: Danny Parker, Contractor WHAT: kitchen demo, widened two doorways, closed doorway to dining room (to make it a third bedroom), said he’d also widen brick doorway but backed out. – 3 day project became a 2.5 day project due to incompletion – super affordable ($900!) but he hired two kids to do all the work – his young crew worked nice long 8am to 7pm days – didn’t show up or return phone calls for follow-up job WHO: Richard Southworth, Mason WHAT: brought in to widen

Missing Contractor Update

Remember how our contractor (Danny Parker) fell off the face of the Earth? Well, yesterday while he was still MIA, I asked one of my fab floor guys if he thought trying to match the original hardwood floor was possible, since widening that doorway would require a couple of new floorboards among the 50 year old existing planks. And we’ve learned to question Parker’s anything’s-possible attitude after that brick doorway wasn’t actually possible for his guys. Fab-floor-guy said that he NEVER recommends trying to retro-match 50-year-old wood flooring and explained that the wood lightens and yellows over time from layers of polyeurethane and exposure to the sun. He was positive that an attempt to match

Totally Floored: Our Hardwood Floors Are All Installed!

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Put a fork in ’em, cause they’re done. Actually, on second thought, please don’t get anything sharp or scratchy near the new hardwood floors. It took two full days, but the floors are officially in and officially awesome. It’s mind-blowing how they (along with all the wider doorways) totally enhanced this part of the house. It looks completely and amazingly updated…well, except for the still-gutted kitchen. Here’s documentation of the transformation: Old linoleum covered in construction dust… is now glossy hardwood. 4 different foors in 4 different rooms… become only 2. There’s plenty more to share about the flooring adventure, but it’ll have to wait because right now we’re enjoying our “new wing” too much.

We Want Neighbors

On an unrelated note: everyone move to Richmond! In a tooting-your-own-horn moment, The Richmond Times-Dispatch ran an article yesterday about why the housing market has remained “healthy” in Richmond, despite the nationwide slump. Apparently we’ve got affordable housing (median home price is $240K), a balanced supply and demand, plus stable housing prices that are likely to remain on an upward trend. And to finish it off: “Our highway network, expanded airport, historic character and other factors all will continue to make central Virginia a location where people will want to put down long-term roots. And because Richmond will continue to be a great place to call home, it will also continue to be a wonderful

Oh Where Oh Where…

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…can my contractor be? Danny Parker, my up-until-yesterday-pretty-good-contractor must be sittin in a tree, cause he’s M-I-S-S-I-N-G. He said he would be here late Friday or early Monday and now it’s Tuesday and I haven’t heard a peep. I’ve called him 3 times in the past 48 hours and just got voicemail every time. Thankfully I haven’t paid him for the outstanding work so I’ll only be out some time (and not money) if he continues to be the invisible man. I guess I’ll have to stare at my sad little taped off doorway indefinitely. At least my floor guys are here making some noise and some progress. Happy Little Update: We never ended up

How Lowe’s Can Ya Go?

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7:30pm, Monday- SHERRY: Floors are looking great so far, right? JOHN: Definitely. You agree, Burger? (Burger stands in silent agreement) SHERRY: Do you think it’s weird that there’s no baseboard here against the brick? JOHN: No, it’s fine. SHERRY: Yeah, you’re right. It’s fine. 11:00pm, Monday- SHERRY: I’ve been thinking, it is weird that there’s no baseboard there. JOHN: What? No, it looks fi- SHERRY: TOTALLY weird. JOHN: Okay. So what do you want to do? SHERRY: Get a baseboard and have the floor guys install it. JOHN: But the floor guys’ last day is tomorrow and we can’t buy any baseboards tonight because Lowe’s closed an hour ago. SHERRY: Can you get it tomorrow

Our New Whole House Color Scheme

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The last couple weeks we’ve had paint on the brain. And this weekend we finally got paint on the walls…and our hands, clothes, hair, etc. We had 3 reasons for the painting extravaganza: Flow: All the widened doorways make the house feel more open and connected, but our old schizophenic paint scheme (which included celedon, turquoise, seafoam, butter yellow, and about three shades of brown) was fighting it. Trend: We’ve seen soothing neutral colors all over design magazines and model homes, so it felt like it was time to ditch the turquoise for a more sophisticated palette. Necessity: All this demo left a lot of things “putty” and “drywall” colored, so almost every room was

Getting A Brick Doorway Widened By A Mason

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“Not funny.” That’s what I said when a tree branch across the street fell and took out our power yesterday, a mere two minutes before Richard-the-mason and his crew arrived. Luckily, widening a brick wall is mostly manual work – and chipping out bricks and cinder blocks isn’t contingent upon electricity. When the power hummed back on about an hour later, the crew hardly noticed (picture me jumping for joy in the background while they continued to chip and hammer away). By the end of the day, the brick doorway was finally widened to a glorious 5 foot opening…and the house didn’t fall down in the process! Check out the end result of a project

Girl in a Bubble – Part 2

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“Im in a bubble again. This time of the mason’s making.” That’s the text message I got from Sherry yesterday, announcing the surprise arrival of Richard-the-mason. We weren’t expecting him until today, but were psyched to see him and his crew show up early to start the brick doorway job. And man is it a messy job. They’ve hung plastic membranes everywhere and coated a couple floors with brown paper, but it still feels like there’s not only dust, but brick and cinder block crumbs everywhere. Not to mention the crew’s half-empty water bottles and used dust masks. They’ve promised to clean up more thoroughly today when they’re done (cross your fingers…that they finish and

Downgrade

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The verdict is in: our house is a mess. And we have to admit that we sometimes yearn for the old days when shelves housed decorative items like photos and vases instead of cereal boxes and light bulbs. In clearing out our entire kitchen for the renovation we’ve been forced to find creative places for all the stuff that we used to have crammed into cabinets. I don’t know if you have paused to think about how many things you have in your kitchen cabinets and drawers, but IT’S A HECK OF A LOT OF STUFF. So when John suggested we clear off our pretty decorative Ikea shelves and use them as a makeshift pantry,