Archive for September, 2012

First House Vs. Current House

Q: I just read an old post of yours where you compared your last house to your current one – and it looks like you preferred the old one in some ways because you had done more renovation, etc.  I think it would be awesome if you did a do-over of that post now that it has been so long and you’ve done so much to improve your new house! – Thanks for all the inspiration, Sarah

A: You’re right, it’s high time we revisited this weird little comparison of our first house and our current one, so let’s get right into it. It all started when someone (ironically also named Sarah) said this about a year ago: “I love your videos and it’s crazy to see the difference in YHL style from the first house to this house! If you wanted to do a side-by-side of rooms past and present, I wouldn’t hate it :)” We decided we wouldn’t hate it either, so we had some fun with it. And now over a year later it’s baaaaack. It’s a battle to the death. First house vs. current house. Cue the dramatic music and picture me singing while Simon Cowel says “you sound like a dog trying to lay an egg.” Of course it’s kind of an unfair fight since we’ve only been in this house for 20 months and it took us four and a half years to finish our first one (and we definitely expect this one to take us a few more years since it’s bigger and we have crazier plans) but on the other hand, after over six years of figuring out what we love and learning by trial and error, we’re definitely in a more confident place than we were when we started out, so some things haven’t taken us as time to figure out. Oh and we stole most of the current house pics from our House Tour page, hence the big “progress” label on the bottom of those. Anyway, it’s on:

The Front Yard, First House:

The Front Yard, Current House:

Winner: The first house. Our current yard has definitely improved by leaps and bounds from the bushy overgrown lot that we inherited (you couldn’t even see the house from the curb), but our first house took us over four years to upgrade it from this craziness, so we’re guessing we still need a few more years with our current one (from other angles it still looks pretty rough).

The Front Porch, First House:

The Front Porch, Current House:

Winner: Tie? We actually would give the front door win to our second house (we loved the red but we lurrrve the yellow) but we still have big plans for boxing out the porch columns and staining the concrete and doing about a million other things at our new digs – and the hanging ferns and tan-and-cream stripes on the first house’s porch were a few of our favorite things. So… lame, but let’s say it’s a tie for now.

The Living Room, First House:

The Living Room, Current House:

Winner: Our current house. Although we’re still hoping to upgrade things (like converting an old dresser into a media stand, etc) we never really used our formal living room in the first house (we had a den for TV watching and chillaxing), so we feel tons more at home in the current living room where we can sink into our giant sofa and zone out.

The Kitchen, First House:

The Kitchen, Current House:

Winner: Our current house. This might be a you-have-to-be-here-in-person thing, but the floor plan and smaller size of our first house’s kitchen just felt a lot more closed in and separated from other rooms and the new kitchen is truly the heart of our home (with two giant openings leading to the hall and the dining room and two other doorways that connect it to the office and living room). It’s hard to explain, but when I’m sitting at the peninsula approving comments while Clara plays on the rug by the fireplace and John cooks up something yummy for dinner, it’s just a nice place to be.

The Hallway, First House:

The Hallway, Current House:

Winner: Current house. We’re so thankful to have a nice wide, light-filled hallway. And the giant family gallery of frames just does it for us.

The Spare Bedroom, First House:

The Spare Bedroom, Second House:

Winner: The first house. Although this picture is stolen from an old post about how messy the playroom was before my mom helped me clean it, once again it looks almost this ca-razy (and has a lot more major furnishings in there since it’s full of secret book projects, hence the need to use an old pic). So yeah, the clean little room with a daybed and a desk made me a lot less sweaty and clammy. Someday I will show this room who’s boss. Until then, the door will remain firmly closed.

The Nursery (Formerly The Third Bedroom), First House:

The Nursery, Current House:

 Winner: Current house. But it was a hard call. We loved the room that we took Clara home from the hospital to so much. It just was such a sentimental space. But the bigger closet in the current room (which Clara now uses as a reading nook) gives her newer room the edge. And we can’t wait to do a bit more in here, like add crown molding, paint the ceiling, refinish the floors, etc.

The Master Bedroom, First House:

The Master Bedroom, Current House:

Winner: Current house. Although the built-ins that we created with doorless Ikea wardrobes to flank the bed in our first house (and to provide some much needed storage) will always have a special place in our hearts, our new bedroom is easily the coziest room we’ve ever slept in. Especially since we rearranged everything and painted the walls a dark and moody color. And of course having a walk-in closet and a master bathroom that’s actually connected is a huge step up in the function department.

The Master Bathroom (located in the hall), First House:

The Master Bathroom (actually attached to our bedroom this time), Current House:

Winner: First house. By a mile. We loved that complete bathroom gut job more than words can say. And although we did some small easy upgrades to our new one, it doesn’t doesn’t make us feel quite as shiny and proud as the first one did after a few months of serious work. But there’s a chance that we’ll love our current one more someday (perhaps after we redo the flooring like we’ve talked about) just because it’s attached to our bedroom and doesn’t have to be shared by everyone else in the house.

The Office/Guest Bedroom/Playroom, First House:

 The Office & Guest Bedroom (which are now separate rooms), Current House:

Winner: Current house. The office in our first house was such a great multi-tasking space, but it was teeny and it made us feel a little cramped when we were all in there. And when guests came to town it was hard to do blog stuff (which definitely doesn’t stop on nights and weekends) since the office was occupied by family & friends. So although our first home’s office/playroom/guest room was such a fun space, it’s a lot more functional to have a separate office with a nice built-in desk and our own cheerful guest room (with its own attached bath) for guests.

The Den, First House:

Winner: The first house. 1) Because our current house doesn’t have a den, and 2) Because our first house’s den was one of our favorite rooms ever – so cozy.  Although the room that we call “the living room” in our current house could have been a secondary living space/den, we opted to turn what used to be a formal living room into a spacious dining room to accommodate our huge family who couldn’t squeeze into the dining room behind it (which we made into the office). We don’t regret our decision to just have one huge casual room for TV, reading, playing, & hanging out, but we just have a special place in our heart for the comfy den that our first love – er, house, offered. I remember sitting on that sofa holding our newborn baby with Burger to my right and John to my left like it was yesterday. Sniffle.

Dining Room, Current House:

Winner: Current house. 1) Because those curtains are my babies and we’re enamored with the dark teal color that we painted on the back of the built-ins, and 2) Because our first house didn’t even have a dining room (it just had a dining nook in the corner of the living room). Well, originally it had a small dining room off of the other side of the kitchen but we closed off that doorway to turn it into a third bedroom which later became the nursery since we needed that space far more. It’s all much more clearly explained here.

The Laundry Area, First House:

Laundry Area, Current House:

Winner: The current house. We love our new laundry space. Even though it’s narrow and we don’t have a surface for folding, it just feels happier. Plus we don’t have to fight all of our normal human urges to resist clutterering up a big long counter near the door like we did in our first house (it was always full of incoming or outbound stuff). And it’s more fun to fold laundry in front of the TV on the sofa in the living room anyway.

The Hall Bathroom, First House:

Hall Bathroom, Current House:

Winner: The first house. The stripes and the fun glass chandelier were so charming, and we loved the pedestal sink and the pocket door too. But the new hall bath isn’t just a toilet – there’s a tub in there, which is where Clara takes all of her baths. So maybe the current house wins for function but the first house wins for sweetness? Either way, that blank slate of a bathroom in the current house is begging for some love, so we’ll count this as a point for the first house until we tackle the new one, since that was our first instinct.

The Sunroom, First House:

The Sunroom, Current House:

Winner: First house, all the way. We have about ten million things on the list for the current one though, so maybe in a year or two it’ll give our first one a run for its money…

The Patio, First House:

The Patio, Current House:

Winner: Current house. Just because it’s more spacious and cozy/shaded. But most of all because we did it ourselves (we hired out the first house’s patio since we were three weeks away from our backyard wedding and worried that if we tried to DIY it we’d get married next to a half-finished mud pit).

The Deck, Current House:

Winner: Current house. 1) Because we didn’t have a deck in our first house and 2) because John built this one with his bare, manly hands and I got to get it furnished. We can’t wait to stain/seal it and fix a few more things up out there (ex: hide the utility box, hang some shutters, paint the siding so it feels more balanced, etc).

The Basement, First House:

The Basement, Current House:

Winner: First house. Because we’ve obviously spent a little more time on the first one. Haha. But you never know what we’ll do down there with our current one as soon as we can make it not resemble a pile of junk…

The Backyard, First House:

The Backyard, Current House:

Winner: First house. We still miss that lovely flat grassy area surrounded by pretty woods. Someday we’ll hopefully make a little grassy spot for Clara and Burger to romp (after lots of transplanting, I imagine).

So there you have it. I think the final tally is 10 to 8 with our current house squeaking ahead by two (last year when we did this our first house got a 9 and our current house got an 8 since we didn’t have the deck in the mix yet). It’s interesting to see how our style is gradually evolving (more color/contrast/risks), although we’ll always have a soft spot for the tone-on-tone look of our first baby- er, house. And as for what’s still on the agenda at this place, here’s a big ol’ rundown that we shared a few months ago. What do you guys think? Have you ever looked at photos of your current house next to photos of a previous house to compare what you liked or disliked about them? Isn’t it funny how a new house is a chance to completely reinvent yourself, yet you’re usually working with a lot of existing furniture, so it still has “glances” of your first house going on?

Psst- Check out a full source list for where we got nearly every last item (and what paint colors we used) in our first house here and our second house here.



It’s Done! Our $170 Bathroom Makeover For Granny

As we mentioned in Monday’s post, there are almost always three main steps to room makeovers (some of which take forever and a day, and some that are done fast and furiously, like this bathroom blitz):

  1. prep/planning (brainstorming, picking a color palette, going shopping, priming, sanding, spackling)
  2. bigger upgrades (painting walls, refinishing or painting cabinets, laying new flooring, etc)
  3. finishing touches (curtains, new hardware, art, accessories – all the things that add “you” to the space)

So Day Three (see Day One and Day two here and here) was all about those finishing touches. Here’s how it all went down (and yes, I was writing on the back of a paper plate with a calligraphy marker – gotta use whatcha got, haha).

Ta-daaa! It took about an hour to make some custom curtains for Granny’s window thanks to some designer fabric (made by Braemore, if that helps) that we scored at a deep discount (at U-Fab in Richmond on our way out of town) and some no-sew hem tape.

I just measured the window to see how long I wanted them (a few inches below the bottom of the window trim felt best) so I cut two rectangles of fabric that were 29″ long (the length that I just measured plus two inches to allow for hemming) and 31″ wide (to give them enough fabric to feel drapey and full when they were hanging up there). Here’s a better shot of the fabric to jog your memory (it’s hard to photograph it in front of the window).

Once they were hemmed on all sides (using this method), they were 27″ x 29″ (my target size after accounting for those extra 2″ in each direction that would be used by the hem). Then it was as simple as hanging a curtain rod from Target and using some ring-clips (also from Target) to hold up my little fabric rectangles.

Here’s a close up of the pretty fabric. Something about it just screamed “Granny” to us. It’s so happy and sweet.

Oh and just when we thought we were done with the caulk on Day 1, we decided that one seam (where the front of the vent met the new flooring) could look a lot more polished with a smidge of caulk) so I made a video for you guys that might help you get a nice clean caulk line:

Then came the fun part: accessorizing tiiiime, baby. In came a lot of items that Granny already had (in colors that we pulled from the curtains like emerald, navy, and violet).

We even grabbed some fresh flowers from the nearby grocery store and plopped them into a vase that Granny already had. And see that wooden tulip on the toilet? Papa actually made that for Granny years ago, so we loved working it into our little room reveal. It’s the simple things, right? Speaking of those, how is it that a once-white-now-navy toilet paper holder can be so cute? It’s just one of those little upgrades that makes something feel a lot more fun than just going with a basic store-bought version. Note: For some reason the floor looks Snooki-tan orange in some of these shots, so the one below is the most accurate.

Here’s a straight shot of the cabinets with their navy hardware on them (we wish we had enough time to make a false-drawer on the top right – maybe next time we’re in town…).

We mentioned that we wanted to bring in some meaningful art, so this is actually a picture of Granny and Papa when they were younger that we shared back in this post. We loved it so much that we got it printed as a 5 x 7 for our new purple frame from HomeGoods. Next to it, I also framed a scrap of extra fabric. Printed or patterned fabric behind glass = free art (and Granny can always switch it out for a picture if the mood strikes).

This pretty silver tray was already Granny’s, just like the sweet green vase. She has so many awesome things around the house that it was fun getting to showcase some of them in the room reveal – especially since she really seemed to love seeing them in there among some new things like a basket of extra hand towels, the flowers, and the frames.

In such a tiny room, we really wanted it to feel cheerful, so while some folks might think it’s crazy to stack bold green and blue hardcover books on the back of the toilet, we really wanted to add color and use things Granny already had around.

The funny thing is that the colorful books were probably her favorite part along with that meaningful little wooden flower that was made for her by her husband so many years ago. Aww.

She even noticed the little things, like the small blue knob that we added to her medicine cabinet.

And we can’t forget how rough things were looking when we arrived, so here’s a flash back to the sink area before I cut out that caulk, re-caulked, and painted as compared to how that same seam looked when we left. Is caulk not the MVP of DIY, or what?

And here’s that shot of a few of the other more challenging issues in the room next to a final shot of the space. It’s amazing what a few days of work can do, huh?

It was pretty darn satisfying to see our to-do list all crossed off:

So that’s the story of jumping at the chance to redo Granny’s bathroom in three days and on a nice modest budget. Is it weird that we’re in love with this tiny room now? As in, we joked about bringing an air mattress in the next time we came to visit and sleeping in there. Yup, weird.

Oh and we did happen to capture the big reveal on tape, but before we get to that, here’s a little budget breakdown for ya:

Not bad for a new floor, upgraded cabinets, freshly painted walls, new curtains, fresh-looking hardware, and getting to say good riddance to rust and peeling caulk, right? But enough money chit-chat, let’s move on to something priceless. Here’s Granny’s awesome reaction:

The funniest part is that we didn’t coerce her to wear that sweater to match the room, she just happened to have it on! We loved that. And we loved that she loved the room even more.

We were so happy to get to do something so fun for one of the sweetest women on the planet.

Then we hopped back in the car, and drove home with smiles on our faces.

What about you guys? Have you ever gotten an opportunity to help someone else with their space? Did they promise not to peek or were they in on the action with you? We actually loved that Granny gave us free reign and avoided that hallway so she wouldn’t see what was going on. And we’re so glad that she liked the result.