Archive for August, 2013

Move Along Little Doggie, Er Dresser

After a few “settling in” months we’re going through that phase I like to affectionately call the What We Really Need (And Don’t) Phase. Essentially, like most folks before a move, we tend to do our best to craigslist or donate or yard sale the things we know we no longer need or use (so we don’t waste time/energy moving it only to store it and never use it again in the new house).

But we do end up moving all of the stuff that we loved and used in our last house, even if we’re unsure where it’ll go in the new house. Then after a few months of actually being in the space and moving things around – sometimes ten million times – it becomes increasingly clear that we probably could have saved ourselves some moving sweat by eliminating a bunch of other things pre-move. It always seems like what’s perfect for one space just looks crazy in another (or something you used all the time somehow doesn’t have a function at all in the new place thanks to a different layout/more storage/etc). In short: moving hindsight is 20/20.

This phenomenon first struck me back when I lived in NYC and was moving two blocks away (from Sullivan Street to Thompson Street in Soho) and I carried every single thing by hand from apartment to apartment with the help of a couple friends (yes, even my mattress and bed frame). So every book and kitchen item counted. I tried so hard not to move a single spoon that I didn’t need, but inevitably when I was settling into the new place I amassed a big ol’ donate pile (and it burned me that those bruises on my thighs from carrying boxes back and forth could have been a little lighter).

Well guys, I think I’ve grown in the last 8 years because it no longer pisses me off, it’s just sort of something I have learned to accept. The sky is blue. The grass is green. And we’ll move stuff that we only realize in hindsight doesn’t work in the new place. So we’ve been pretty busy selling things that no longer fit into the “works for this house” column. Which is nice because clearing out has always been something I love (and who doesn’t want a little extra cash?). And since a bunch of you guys have been asking for a little “audit” of what we no longer need and have sold/are selling, here’s the list.

1. Our four slatted bar stools. A sweet reader emailed me and said the exact same vintage set of four stools were selling for $825 on One King’s Lane and offered me $800 for ours. After I picked myself off the floor, John and I had a serious will-we-use-these chat and decided that we are 99.9% certain that we’ll have an eat-in table in our kitchen as opposed to a bar area. It felt too crazy to take $800 for them – even if that was the going rate, so we countered with “$400 and they’re yours.” She was thrilled to snag them for over 50% off retail, we were happy to sell them for over 50% more than we paid for them off craigslist last year, and we even got this shot of them living it up in her kitchen:

2. Our egg chair & Ikea slipcovered chair: Alas, our Goodwill find and leftover chair from our first apartment were cute in the sunroom here when it was sealed off, but they wouldn’t stand up to the weather once we tore out the doors in there. And without any good nooks or corners to tuck them into here, both got Craigslisted for $30 total. Eggy went to a guy who was really into its design and the Ikea chair went to a girl headed off to college.

3. The yellow chairs that we had on our last house’s deck. Aw I loved those things. But since we only have one outdoor space here (the deck) it meant these yellow guys had to share a space with our bright red Adirondack chairs, which at the last house lived far away on our patio. The two bold colors were a bit circus-y out there and we decided the Adirondacks fit the more traditional style of this home better. Someone was very happy to take these two for $90.

4. Our rocking bench from the front porch. Again, this was a case of “don’t have the same outdoor spaces”  (i.e. no wide front porch) and we debated putting it back near the edge of the woods but we thought it would just get covered with leaves and ticks and not be as nice without the awning of the front porch that the first two houses provided. It went super fast for $20.

5. Our woven nursery chair from Clara’s old room. It just felt too modern for this house (it worked nicely in a mid-century ranch, but something about this house’s molding and paneled doors and more classic/traditional vibe made it feel a little off). We listed it for $20, but took $10 for it since the person was also buying the yellow deck chairs.

6. The dresser from Clara’s big girl room. We loved how it worked on that blank wall in there, but when we set up Clara’s room in this house we decided her nursery dresser (with the white top and stained bottom) looked nicer with her daybed, so that ended up in her room without the need for another dresser in there. Our first instinct was to save it for a future nursery, but we decided our hand-me-down dresser from John’s dad would be great for that room – and womp womp – this guy was out. Fret not, he went to an awesome loving home thanks to Sir Craig and his list (for the same exact price of $55 that we bought it for) and the buyer happened to be a furniture rehab pro, so she sent us this updated picture.

7. Slate in the new backyard: Okay, so it’s technically not something we moved, but since we’re on the subject of selling stuff, we inherited a bunch of slate that was peppered all over the backyard where we’d love to grow grass. First we debated reusing them to create some sort of patio, but since we’re not hurting for outdoor living space right now with the deck and the freshly-opened sunroom, we opted to sell the 120 or so pieces that we dug up for $100. They went fast!

So that’s what we’ve been selling. So far our Craigslist total is $705 for letting go of that stuff that doesn’t work as well for us here. And we decided that getting something we’ve wanted with that loot would be a nice way to “put it back into the house.” So when we saw this wood inlay dresser go 25% off on West Elm (which put it almost exactly at $705) we pounced. At the ripe old age of 31, we’ve actually never bought a real grown up dresser (we’ve used the hand-me-down one from John’s parents and a few Ikea or thrifted ones) so it felt kind of crazy. Especially the “white glove delivery service” where they carried it up the stairs and placed it in the room for us, already fully assembled. Guys, I thought I was Oprah. Never felt fancier in my life.

I can’t wait to show you a picture of it in our room. You know, once I stop pretending it’s a sculpture and actually put our clothes in it. The funny thing is that we just heard that “iron” and “wood objects” are traditional sixth anniversary materials, and since this wood inlay dresser has iron legs, we’re calling it a belated anniversary present. To marriage! May it forever contain our clothes in wedded bliss.


As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winners, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.

by DelightfullyNoted by candice by ViewAlongTheWay by K8e9



A Concrete Floor: Paint It Or Tile It?

Last you saw our sunroom, it looked like this:

Well, now it’s looking a little something like this:

Forgive the poor iPhone pic, but it’s the only one I snapped (just to text to my parents, actually) before Richmond turned into rain city yesterday. But you get the point, we’ve made some good progress lofting the ceiling (with the help of a professional framer who came out this week to make sure our roof wouldn’t collapse). But we’ll get into the story of the ceiling next week once the electrician has come and turned the (now loose) wires into junction boxes for two fans.

Today we’re talking about a floor plan. As in, a plan for the sunroom floor.

We’ve definitely been putting a ton of thought into it and debating the pros and cons of a few different methods. The easiest solution would be to stain or paint the concrete floor, kinda like we did to our first house’s sunroom.

We originally stained that a semi-transparent “Tuscan Yellow” color and later painted over it in a glossy chocolate color (when we decided we didn’t want yellow floors anymore). The process is pretty straight-forward and it’s just about the easiest and most affordable way you can update a concrete floor.

But the stain/paint shoe just didn’t seem to quite fit here at this house. For one, the concrete isn’t very pretty thanks to glue stains leftover from the carpet we removed (any semi-transparent options are out of the question since it would show right through).

And even if we just painted the concrete with a solid color, the brick border – which is charming at a distance – is a bit scraggily looking up close with glue stains and even a few gaping nail holes and gouges from the old sliders that used to sit on them.

We’ve also had issues with how slick the concrete is when it’s wet. Clara’s feet are often soaked from playing with her water table or plastic pool and then she slips and Sherry gasps and she screams. You get the picture. So something with a bit more grip that’s meant to be outside, like a rough patio tile, had us leaning in that direction.

The real nail in the paint-the-floor coffin was when we learned that painting the floor would effectively eliminate the option to tile it later. Paint prevents thinset from bonding to concrete, turning this tile-ready surface into a no tile zone forever (you can’t even use a solvent to strip the paint later since the solvent would also prevent thinset from bonding, so we’d literally have to hand-chip every trace of paint off the concrete if we wanted to undo our quick-fix of painting it). So as much as we were tempted to paint as a for-now solution (yay, cheap & easy!) we just couldn’t do it knowing that it would severely complicate future plans to luxe up the space with some nice outdoor tile. So in the throes of indecision, we went tile shopping…

We were quick to fall in love with big beautiful tiles like that one above. But as we did the math on puppies like that (which was $6.29 per square foot) we realized that tiling our 200 sf+ space was probably going to be out of our price range. ‘Til we spotted the Labor Day Sale sign that said 20-25% off your total purchase plus 35% off tools and supplies (that promotion seems to be running through Labor Day by the way). Score!

25% wasn’t going to put that $6.29 sf beauty in our budget (not even close) but it did encourage us to hunt down some other options. We found three good choices that met our criteria. It had to:

We bought a sample tile of each (*although we’d actually purchase the middle one in a 1ft x 2ft rectangle, they just didn’t have that in stock to take home) and laid them in the sunroom near the deck. We wanted to see which played best off of the wood color, while also providing enough contrast so people would notice the super-slight-but-still-there step up into the sunroom (around an inch). Update: Although they each have other stone references in their names (slate, limestone, etc) these are all porcelain tiles since the tile pros said those were best for outdoor projects in our area – so it’s just called Mtn. Slate Iron because it’s modeled to look like slate.

Our immediate favorite was Mountain Slate Iron because we liked how the deep color and brown undertones worked with the deck. The others felt too cool and washed out when the sun hit them. And it didn’t hurt that Mountain Slate Iron was the cheapest and had the most texture (making it the least slippery when wet). So not only were we sold on that as the best tile option, we were officially sold on just diving in and tiling now. It’ll be more expensive and more work than staining or painting, but ultimately we think it’ll elevate the space more while solving a bunch of issues that those options couldn’t.

So as of last night, we’ve officially placed our order. Woot!

The tile won’t be in stock for pick up ’til next week. And even so, we want to finish the ceiling overhead (i.e. beadboard installation, new fans, painting) before doing anything too precious underneath. But we’re relieved to have made a decision AND to have caught a sale in the process. The discounts took our tile down from $3.48 per square foot to $2.61. Clara was so excited she just had to call Elmo right then and there on her toy phone.

Okay, that’s not really what they were talking about. Although she could easily play in those display showers all day, so I guess she’s showing a smidge of peripheral interest in our flooring decision. I’ll take it.