Archive for September, 2011
It’s that time again! When we take a moment to look back on all that we’ve done in the past month at a glance (and gather all the links in one handy place for ya). And of course we tossed in some never-before-seen stuff, just because we’re over-sharers. This month felt especially busy for us, with everything from painting, organizing, building, rearranging, crafting, art-making, upholstering, light-fixture-ing, coding, ORBing (yes, it’s a category of its own), and breaking stuff. So let’s take a walk down memory lane, with yearbook-esque superlatives, because we’re strange birds.
Most Illuminating: Clipping 320 clothespins in place to create our laundry room’s clothespin chandelier for our first ever Pinterest Challenge. Oh and you can scroll down to the bottom of the post to see over 500 (wowza!) other Pinterest Challenge projects submitted by you guys. So much good stuff. Gah.
Most Spoiled: Potato-stamping a fun little pattern inside Clara’s closet turned reading nook. Oh to be one again…
Most Likely To Win Mariah Carey’s Approval: This free butterfly art that I made out of a flier that I picked up on our trip to Natural Bridge, VA.
Most Likely To Win Carrie Bradshaw’s Approval: Adding shoe storage to our laundry room, courtesy of some Ikea recycling bins. Although Ms. Bradshaw would need about a hundred of them for all of her Manolos.
So Fresh & So Clean, Clean: Finishing our laundry room makeover. Woo hoo – one room down!
Most Likely To Be Committed For A Pillow Addiction: Me, as evidenced by these new striped pillows that I scored for $9 each at HomeGoods. And if making free art out of paint chips counts as treatment, then I’m on the road to recovery.
Clumsiest: John, who seems determined to break things lately, including this light fixture cover that fell while swapping out the fixture in our hallway.
Most Hard-Working: Our new Effecktiv storage unit from Ikea, which has the fun job of housing all of our files, printer, and miscellaneous office goodies. Oh the excitement.
Most Debonair: Dressing up said Effektiv unit with some black glass handles from
Hobby Lobby Schlobby Bobby.
ORB of the Month: Giving our mailbox the oil-rubbed bronze treatment, along with completing a few other outdoor maintenance projects (which helped our yard look not quiiite as neglected – it’s still pretty bad though).
ORB of the Month (Runner Up): Several door handles, including the hardware on our front door, got a nice little face-lift.
Most Cheerful: Giving our front door the yellow paint treatment. It’s like our house is smiling at us whenever we come home.
Most Likely To Stockpile Swedish Things: Us, after our first trip to Ikea since John’s parents moved out of the area. Suddenly a trip there seems much more precious.
Worst Dressed: A video tour of our not-so-clean house (as well as some random old photos of us).
Most Likely To Get Worms: Creating a compost bin in the backyard using leftover shipping pallets. We’ve got some pretty sweet dirt going on.
Most Pictures In A Single Post: A visual comparison of our new house vs. our old house, which involved so many photos that it took down the site down for a good hour (ca-rashhh). Lesson learned.
Best “Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day” Reminder: A look back at our first house, 8 months in, and how little we had accomplished in that time. Ah, memories.
Best Moves: Switching up Clara’s furniture arrangement to help solve a crib-in-front-of-vent situation.
Worst Moves: Rearranging the office furniture in preparation for its makeover, which turned out to be a not so good solution. At least now we’re on the right track.
The “Thrill Of The Hunt” Award: Searching high and low for the perfect cabinets to turn into a built-in office desk. With a dog and a baby in our shopping cart.
“Ripley’s Petersik’s Believe It Or Not!” Award: Scoring six whole cabinets for six measly dollars at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Alexandria, VA (well, they were technically $6.30 with tax).
Most Destined For Greatness: Our office cabinets, which we sanded and primed to prep them for glossy white paint. So excited to get these babies done. We’ll share pics early next week if all goes well! And you can catch a sneak peek of me painting them over on Young House Life.
Most Likely To Be From New Jersey: Me, as demonstrated by my magnetic attraction to glittery pine-cones, which accompanied some simple leaf-y decorations that I made for my cousin Megan’s bridal shower. Oh yeah and I sorted M&Ms by color like a wackadoo.
Biggest Jerk: Hurricane Irene, who tore up our neighborhood. (Update: the tree was finally removed from our neighbor’s roof yesterday and they’re in good spirits but the house still needs a lot of repair. Thanks for keeping them in your thoughts)
Most Overdue: Redesigning our blog theme for the first time in over three years.
Here are a few not-it initial designs that we tried on and scrapped. So glad we went with the gray heart background and simplified the too-busy-header (too much change, too left-heavy with that pile of pics, and the ceramic frog felt less “iconic” than my beloved ceramic rhino):
Cutest Couple: Clara and her cousin John snuggled up post Hurricane Irene.
So there you have it. August at a glance. And yes, this was just as much fun as last months inaugural superlatives post. Dorks for life.
What have you guys been up to this month? Have you ever made a list of accomplishments to look back on? It’s so nice to take a break from adding things to our to-do list to look back on what we’ve already done. Just for a minute. True to form we were all over the place (nearly every room of our house got in on the fun). Let’s call it spreading the love (as opposed to lacking focus and bouncing off the walls), shall we?
Psst- You can check out July’s superlatives here.
Who knew a half-baked banquette idea could bring on the chatter like that? Over 800 comments within a few hours time? Insanity. We’re loving all of the ideas and suggestions that you guys are throwing into the pot and promise to keep you posted every step of the way! There are definitely a lot more things to consider and nothing’s set in stone, so I think we’ll probably change our plan by the minute. But you know we’ll gab incessantly about it to anyone who’s willing to listen as we go.
In the meantime, since I should be painting office cabinets (but haven’t had a second to tear myself away from the blog), I thought it would be fun to share this awesome rendering that a sweet (and apparently very good at Photoshop) reader named Amber sent our way:
Now can you kind of start to picture it? Of course lots of things might be different (the counter might not be that color, the table might not be that shape/color, the lights may change/move, the floor will change, the cabinets won’t be brown and have eyeballs on them, there might be open shelves on the back of the banquette instead of just cabinetry, etc). Basically nothing that you see up there is “for sure,” but it definitely helps us start to picture it. So we thought sharing it might help you guys too. And a big wet kiss goes out to Amber for her ninja-like photoshop skillz.
I think the hardest thing for people to “see” before this rendering (us included) is that the banquette won’t block any more of the room than the table that used to sit there did. And people sitting at the banquette will have the same open POV that they would have had at the table (since the banquette seating will be the same height as table seating). And the countertops behind the banquette will also be around the same height as the base cabinets in the room. So hopefully it won’t feel closed off at all (everyone can see over base cabinets… well, except for Clara and Burger). Look, here’s John faux sitting in the new area now:
Now that we see this we’re thinking it could be cute to even add two small stools to the back of the banquette so that the closest-to-the-kitchen countertop could be used as a casual seating area too. Not sure though, because it might also be great prep space. And I can definitely picture us using it to set out things like appetizers if we’re entertaining. It’s all complete speculation and guess work at this point! But thanks again for all of the suggestions this morning. Who knows where we’ll end up!
On and there were actually a few folks who thought seating that faced the hallway and the fireplace was less intuitive than something that faced the work area of the kitchen, but we like the counter being the close part to the work area, and also think the two best views of the room are the frame wall and the fireplace. Plus I’m not mad at the fact that I wouldn’t have to look at a sink full of dirty dishes when I’m relaxing in my nook. Haha. Also because that fireplace is in the corner of the room, turning the L to face the other way (with the seating looking back at the prep area of the kitchen) wouldn’t solve the balance issue that the L-shaped arrangement does when it faces the fireplace. Hopefully this sketch makes more sense of the reasons why (top setup: what we want to do, bottom setup: what it would look like flipped):
See how that fireplace in the corner would make way less sense that way? Sorry for not including a sketch like this in this morning’s post for ya.
Anyway, you’ll have to excuse me, I have some office cabinetry to paint. I bought some new stuff last night (Benjamin Moore Advance paint) and I hear it’s awesome for cabs, so I can’t wait to pop back in with all those details – probably early next week if I ever get all those coats done and snap some photos. Anyone else painting cabinets? Or dreaming of banquettes?
Psst- We just announced this week’s giveaway winners. Click here to see if you’re one of them!
True to form, we’re all over the place over here. After switching up the ol’ blog design (and figuring out why the header was MIA for 20% of you – here’s hoping it’s back) we’ve also been plugging away at our $6 cabinet makeover but aren’t quite done with the painting/building-up process (here’s hoping we’ll have photos and lots o’ words to share early next week). But crazily enough, in the meantime we’ve also been doing some yard work, a random bedroom project, and have even started brainstorming the next phase of the kitchen. Hence this brain dump.
We’re still saving our pennies for things like new appliances to begin the next step of our slow & steady kitchen overhaul (remember when we upgraded the fireplace and wood paneling a little while back?). So as we wait for the bank account to say “sure, go buy a new wall oven that’s not bisque, and a new microwave that’s not black”, we thought meeting up with an old friend of ours to get a few kitchen ideas might be nice. Who is this mysterious old friend that we speak of? Why it’s Nancy Kulik, the lady who helped us plan our first kitchen makeover through Home Depot (they offer up Certified Kitchen Designers to help for free if you buy cabinets or counters through them, of which we got both).
We knew that we wanted white cabinets and light marble-esque counters (they were actually granite) during the planning stages of that makeover back in 2007 – so we didn’t look to Nancy for much “style advice” during our 113 day kitchen reno. But she was truly invaluable when it came to space planning. She just knows how people use kitchens and where appliances should be placed to maximize function, and we fully believe that our first kitchen would have been half as useful if we didn’t have her free-with-the-purchase-of-cabinets advice when it came to where to squeeze in a dishwasher, relocate the fridge, and build in the microwave. Lesson learned: sometimes the pros know best. So take their advice whenever it’s free (and even when it’s not if you need it). You know, so you don’t DIY a kitchen all alone that’s semi-functional when you can DIY something twice as useful with some pro advice and a smidge of well-spent cash (assuming you can’t track down free services like those from HD or Lowe’s).
But back to our buddy Nancy. We actually kept in touch with her over the last three years since our big kitchen makeover in 07′ (she and Clara are practically BFFs). So she was sweet enough to offer to glance at a floor plan and a few photos of our current house’s kitchen to give us a little here’s-what-I-would-do advice. Second lesson learned: there are definite perks to staying in touch with any kitchen geniuses that you may encounter.
But first a little refresher. You’ll remember that the eat-in part of our kitchen currently looks like this:
We’ve always planned to add a built-in island in place of the too-small dining table, just because when we knock out a huge doorway in the wall across from the fireplace to connect it to the dining room we thought two tables lined up through that opening would look odd (a big round one in the dining room and another one so nearby in the kitchen = crazytown).
So we thought a big round table in the dining room and a smaller built-in island by the fireplace would make sense and be less “hello table, meet my friend, table.”
Here’s an old floor plan that we shared last November before we even moved, just to give you an idea of what we thought might work when it came to the island (with the new wide doorway to the dining room that we plan to add worked in there too):
Oh while we’re on the topic of someday dreams, we’d love to paint our cabinets white and craigslist our white, bisque, and black appliances and upgrade to stainless steel. When it comes to our counters, we plan to work with the granite that we have, but completely redo the backsplash for a crisper, lighter look. And those florescent tube lights and big brown fan? They gots to go.
While we’re rattling off things on the list, of course we’d love to redo the floors but aren’t sure if there’s hardwood running all the way under the entire kitchen that we can refinish (we know it runs under part of it, but haven’t confirmed all of it) or if we’ll have to just redo them with something new entirely. The challenge of that is that we’ve learned that our floor joists aren’t built strongly enough to hold the weight of stone or ceramic tile (I thought slate would be awesome in there, so yeah… le bummer). We’ve toyed with everything from lightweight cork to some sort of linoleum (Candice Olsen has done some surprisingly awesome kitchens with that on the floor) but we’re nowhere near a decision. We’ll keep you posted though.
But I digress (who’s surprised?). Back to our talk with Nancy Kulik and the big kitchen idea she came up with (pretty much on the spot because she’s cool like that). Are you ready? She looked at the new to-scale floor plan that we brought with us (and a few photos) and realized that something was wrong, wrong, wrong on our little whole-house floor plan (seen three photos back, which we did months ago in November). That something? The fireplace is almost in the corner of the room in real life. So the placement of the fireplace in that old floor plan is totally off.
Thankfully it was drawn in the actual correct location in the newer kitchen-only floor plan that we brought with us to our Nancy meeting, but since it’s not actually centered on the wall (and practically kisses the door that leads to the hall), no island could be centered on it without nearly touching slash completely blocking that doorway (which we definitely want to keep open). So Nancy suggested something that we never would have thought of ourselves. And I mean never. Brace yourself. She proposed a floating L-shaped banquette that faces the fireplace and the frame wall.
Note: don’t mind that vertical line that follows the back of the banquette to the door to the living room, she just dropped that in to tell us that we should line those things up- but the banquette wouldn’t be attached to anything, it would just float in the middle of the room to keep things open- just like an island would, but since it would face the fireplace in a way that an island wouldn’t it could make a lot more sense.
I’m not going to lie. Both of our first impressions were “thanks, but no thanks.” But as she further explained her vision we slowly started to come around. See, I’ve always adored the cozy-factor that is an L-shaped banquette. And if you search “banquette” some pretty cute images come up on google and Pinterest. A breakfast nook-ish type space like that might not be everyone’s cup of tea (there are definitely some die-hard island-lovers out there), but we actually thought it could be even cozier than our previously considered idea of an island. Especially because it would make sense of the off-centered fireplace in a way that an island never could (since it couldn’t ever be centered on it or lined up in any real way). So we took Nancy’s little scrap paper sketch home and taped out her floating L-shaped banquette idea on the floor:
To explain what you’re looking at, the smaller L that’s being spooned by the bigger L would be the actual bench seating that faces the fireplace & the frame wall (which would make sense of the layout a bit more than a big floating rectangle that doesn’t line up with the fireplace at all). And the bigger L would be built-in cabinetry that wraps around the back of the bench seating to create a nice nestled nook that looks as good from the back and the side as the front (and provides a nice amount of concealed storage that’s accessible from the back, just like an island would have done).
As for the height, we thought keeping the tops of the cabinetry and the banquette seating the same height as the lower cabinets in the rest of the kitchen would make things feel cohesive and open (many of our inspiration images above have banquettes that are the same height as the base cabinets). And of course knocking out a huge 6 foot wide doorway to the dining room behind the banquette (which will have pretty cabinetry that faces the doorway so it looks good from behind) should keep the flow nice and airy – so nothing feels too boxed in.
I know it’s pretty much impossible to picture, so here’s John sitting at the fake banquette (although the table would be a smaller pedestal based thing, possibly square, oval, or even round – and possibly white or even a color, but probably not dark brown).
Note: we’ll have to move the lighting on this side of the room regardless of an island or banquette creation since it’s placed too far apart to make sense either way – and in the case of the banquette we’d center it over the table, not the seating (like many of the inspiration images).
It’s admittedly still impossible to picture (and I would bet $20 that nearly everyone reading this is completely not sold on this idea), but here’s a round pedestal table tossed in there in case that helps the picture come together for a few of you (since our banquette table will definitely have a pedestal base to make maximum room for legs).
And here’s a lower square table (of course too low for a banquette, but this sized top might be right) to possibly help the vision come together a little more. As of now we’re both actually bigger fans of a rounded top – like the one above – but who knows where we’ll end up.
Who am I kidding. This probably doesn’t help anyone. And you all think we’re crazy to consider this. I know it. And we might be. But we’re excited enough about it to at least keep this idea on the table for now. Har-har.
See how the fireplace in the corner almost makes sense in that location with the cozy banquette facing it (which will be lined up with the doorway to the living room, so that doesn’t feel random either)? Nope. You still don’t see it. Haha. Well in person it actually has a lot of balance and makes considerably more sense than any island shape / placement that we’ve taped out on the floor over the last eight months (of which there have been many). We might just have to build our cabinet-backed banquette with cardboard or something to try to envision it further. Or use some serious photoshop magic to help picture it (the challenge is finding photos of the backs of banquettes since so many shots are looking into the L-shaped seating nook as opposed to looking over its shoulder from this angle).
Oh and ignore the crazy white fireplace surround on the floor, since it seems to encroach and crowd the table waaaaay too much. When we redo the flooring in the room that’ll be remedied since we have plans to double side the fireplace down the road so you can peer into the living room through it (but will either make it gas or keep it completely inoperable so kiddo(s?) can crawl through the hole like it’s a secret passageway – so there won’t be a huge tile rectangle on the floor anymore).
I’ll leave you with this picture again, because it’s the one that makes my brain hurt the least when I try to picture things:
So all of this is to say that we taped off a crazy shape on the kitchen floor and we’re seriously considering some sort of cozy banquette-ish breakfast nook as opposed to a centered island with an off-centered fireplace nearby. It should be interesting. And the odds are that we’ll end up making some semblance of a decision someday. And we promise to keep you posted. Off to dip back into the aforementioned bedroom project and the office cabinet makeover. Ah DIY, you fickle friend. Maybe next week we’ll be less scattered. Who are we kidding? Probably not.