Our Current House

Taking Care Of Bid-ness

That’s me these days. At least I like to think it is. Checking off those tedious and lingering to-do list items that I’ve been meaning to do forever, and taking names. So how about a Friday smorgasbord post? The funny thing is that just a few days ago we got a comment that said “hey I miss your Dude Get On That Already updates – will those ever come back?” Do you guys remember those? Where I’d finally get around to tackling something that had been sitting around waiting to get done (usually just painting or hanging something) and I’d share a little update – like this wall plaque, this box, this coat hook, and this high chair? Well, the funny thing about that comment is that as I read it I was thinking… I have actually gotten on a few things. What has come over me? Is this nesting? Has my body been snatched? So here are those details…

#1: Ding dong, the dining room table is cleared. You might remember this recent house-tour video which revealed that our dining room and guest room were looking chaotic and cluttered (it’s pretty much a promise that when we work on one room, another room nearby pays the price). Here’s a still shot from that video to refresh your memory:

Well, I finally got my act together and found better spots for stuff. It really helped to get a bunch of the craft stuff that had collected there into my newly organized craft closet upstairs. And I tucked the decorative items into the two bottom cabinets in the living room where I store other vases and cloches and stuff like that. It’s nice to see the wood of the table again. (I won’t tell you how dusty it was before I wiped it down for this shot.)

A few folks asked if I thought I’d use this table as a workspace if it were clear since I admitted to using the kitchen table until we get the office whipped into two-people-can-work-there shape. But I’ve found that even with the dining table cleared off I still prefer the kitchen table. I think it’s because I can see Clara playing in the living room more easily from there (the dining room is a lot more isolated due to its layout). But it’s nice to know I can run in there if I want a little more solitude. And that we can actually host people for some fancier-than-the-kitchen-table dinner if we’d like to throw a Downton Abbey-ish ball sometime.

The bad news is that the kitchen counter still pretty much looks like this (minus the crockpot full o’ stew), thanks to our in-progress pantry re-org (everything’s painted, so we’re just waiting for it to dry so we can load in some nice new systems). Sigh. It’s a vicious cycle.

#2: I hemmed Clara’s comically long curtains. You can sort of see them in this picture below (I usually tried to just curl them under so it wasn’t as noticeable) – but they were about 6″ too long and although I liked the drapey affect, they were borderline sloppy with so much extra fabric going on at the end.

So last weekend while Clara played with her dollhouse in the middle of the room and we listened to some tunes, I got to work hemming them with some Heat N Bond hem tape. It probably took me about a half an hour to cut them all and then hem them (I still left them drapey, so they skim the floor a little for that casual vibe) and it feels so GOOD to have that done. Seriously, I’ve asked myself if there’s something wrong with me that hemmed curtains make me feel so accomplished – but I think it’s just one of those things that I thought a million times in the last eight months (“I should really hem those curtains” would pop into my head each week as I put away Clara’s laundry), so it feels great to finally check that box.

#3: The extra pieces of our sectional have been sent to greener pastures. Remember how our full Karlstad sectional didn’t fit in our cozier living room, so “honey, we shrunk the sofa“?

Well, the random extra pieces that we we haven’t been using (the corner piece and the loveseat-sized end) have just been sitting in our attic under a drop cloth for the last eight months. I even mentioned that we thought about craigslisting them, but “we just figured selling the corner and loveseat to a sofa that’s incomplete without another end piece that someone would have to purchase might fetch us $20 tops” so I said we’d rather hold onto them and see if we had a use for them in the future. It was a completely surprise when someone emailed us months later, and offered to buy them for $250! We hadn’t so much as looked at them at all in the past eight months, so… sold!

The funny thing is that it wasn’t a blog reader who wanted them. A woman was just googling around to locate these exact Karlstad pieces (they don’t sell them separately, so she thought she’d never find them) and came across our old post about storing those in the attic. She’s not from around here (lives in Florida, actually) but she had items in a storage unit in New Jersey that she was going to be driving down to Florida in her SUV, so on her way down she swung through Richmond and (miraculously) fit them all into the back. So now we’ve got an extra $250 in our pockets and Karl – er, well the unused portion of Karl – is living a sunnier life in St. Augustine!

 

#4: I donated/gave back/handed down/consigned a bunch of Clara’s old clothes. There were four large bins in this video that I explained were being sent in a bunch of directions (some items were being returned to sweet friends who loaned things to us, some were being donated, some were getting handed down to other prego friends and relatives, and I wanted to try consigning some things as well).

So after they sat there for months, I finally got around to donating and passing along everything I had set aside, and I trekked the leftovers to Once Upon A Child (a little secondhand baby store here in town) just to give it a try. Forty five minutes after dropping them off I returned to get a nice little check for $141!

There were a few things they didn’t end up taking, so I swung by another donation box on the way home with the extras, and finally that Corner O’ Bins in the living room is no more. The funny thing is that I dragged those downstairs from the storage room at around 18 weeks pregnant (in anticipation of finding out if this was another girl or a boy, so I could sort through everything). Which means they sat in that corner for over 10 weeks just waiting to be dealt with. Better late than never, right?

#5: Clara’s birdcages are no longer birdless. That’s right, I put a bird on it. Make that six. I noticed that West Elm was having a huge ornament sale about a month ago and they had these gorgeous little colorful birds on clearance.

So for $20 I got six of them, and when they arrived I reenacted Snow White and put them all over my arms used their clips or their ornament loops to make them cozy in Clara’s birdcages. A few of you guys noticed them in this picture on Instagram/Facebook, and I promised an update, so there you go.

I even added a little wood dowel to the grey birdcage since it didn’t have one and I wanted to create a spot for one to perch and another one to hang. You can just barely make it out in this shot (the cut off bird on the right is sitting on it, and the flying bird under that one is hanging from it). That’s what I get for trying to be artsy with my photography.

Clara’s favorite is this one right here. She named him Prince Sam Bluebird, and we say goodnight to him every evening.

And in other update news, our new washer came bright and early on Saturday morning (some of you guys have been asking about it, which is beyond sweet) and it’s a HUGE relief that it’s finally here. I now sing and occasionally pirouette while doing laundry. I’m sure that won’t last for more than a week, but it truly is one of those “you don’t know how good you have it until an appliance conks out on you and you live without it for a while and then the new one comes and it’s broken so you have to wait another week and a half” things.

So those are a few of those “I actually got on them!” updates, along with a little Washer Status Report. I still have a bunch more should-have-done-that-yesterday things bouncing around in my brain, so maybe I should set a future check-in date with you guys to force myself to attend to them. Wanna get stuff done with me? And then we can all reconvene and attempt to hold ourselves accountable to the internet at large? What’s your “gotta get on that” list looking like these days?

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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 winner, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.

by WifeInProgress by rentalrevival
by HomeComing
by lorigrams

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Crown Prince

We hoped to have all of the nursery’s extra chunky crown molding painted, cut, hung, caulked, and touched up by the end of the weekend, and we just made it by the skin of our teeth (where did that gross expression come from anyway?).

Crown is always one of the those “it’ll be nice” things on a to-do list, and then whenever we add it we’re blown away by how much of a difference it makes. Even the most basic and boxy rooms suddenly look taller and just generally upgraded in a surprisingly significant way. Which we always appreciate since a lot of the rooms in our homes have been devoid of amazing architecture (no extra high ceilings, arched doorways, cool columns, etc). So between the addition of our little corner built-ins, and the new extra chunky crown, this 11 x 13.5′ rectangle of a room is really coming along.

You know, after eight months of looking like this.

Don’t get me wrong – we still have a long way to go (there are three completely unaddressed walls, and not nearly enough color/fun/personality yet), but this chunky crown molding is a pretty glorious sight. It erased all of those unfinished cracks and crevices and made the room feel so much more polished in a few short days.

As for how we installed it, we followed the same method that we tried out in Clara’s room, which is to use 3 1/4″ baseboard as the first “layer” – and run that around the room first. We used a spacer to drop it an inch and a half down from the ceiling for more of a chunky look, a level to make sure it stayed straight, and we marked our studs with painters tape so we knew just where to fire the nail gun into the wall to hold them up.

The second “layer” involved hanging actual crown molding (we got nice beefy 4 5/8″ stuff from Home Depot) right over the baseboard, for that extra chunky look. You can see how the left piece has been “crowned” and on the right there’s just baseboard waiting for us to hang crown over it to complete the look. This is how all the crown on the first floor of our house was done, along with the stuff in our master bedroom, so we wanted to keep any new crown that we added looking cohesive.

We went with pre-primed baseboard and crown to save ourselves a step, so we just had to lay it out on the floor with a drop cloth and paint it before we hung it. We prefer that to painting it in place because it’s a lot faster, and then we only need touch-ups after hanging it and caulking it. It was funny to paint just a tiny bit of it with the built-in color, and the rest of it white, but we’re really happy with how it all turned out.

Here’s the crown between the built-ins after it was hung but before we caulked it or did any paint touch ups. See the slightly imperfect wavers of the ceiling above it? Those are nice and finished looking when you squeeze a line of caulk up along that crevice and just drag your finger across it to force it into those small gaps. And if you wipe it fast enough (we apply it about a foot at a time) you can usually get it off the pre-painted ceiling and crown so it’s just in those cracks and there’s no need to touch up the ceiling or crown again for the most part, which is nice.

After some final paint touch ups (mostly along the nail marks that we filled with caulk), and removing all of those tape marks for the studs, it gets a lot better looking. Like so:

For anyone looking for additional details and photos of this chunkier crown effect using baseboards + molding, you can click here to read about how we installed it in Clara’s room. The cost of hers rung in at $137, and that’s a significantly larger room, so although we can’t find the receipt for this latest trip to Home Depot, we’re guessing it was around $115 to do the nursery. And you’ll want to add a tube or two of caulk and a can of paint to the project cost if you don’t have those on hand already.

I also finally got to dive into the crib bedding arena, which you all know I’ve been excited about thanks to John’s revelation that I wander around the house impersonating Golum and whispering “CRIIIB SKIRT.” Here’s a close up of the sweet little organic crib sheet that I found on sale from Pottery Barn for $9.99 (I think we paid something like $25+ for organic crib sheets before Clara was born, so I’m psyched to see that these have become a lot easier to find & more affordable in the last four years).

 

The green rectangle behind that parade of adorable elephants is just 1.5 yards of fabric that I grabbed from JoAnn during one of their 50% off sales. So the grand total for the 1.5 yards of fabric that I needed to make the crib skirt was a wallet-busing $3.73. You know I did The Mom Victory Dance at the checkout, right? For those not in the know, that involves all sorts of ridiculous movements like high fiving your embarrassed husband and waving your hands around like you’ve won the lottery when in fact you have just saved something like $3.50.

Once at home, I laid out my fabric and cut out three pieces (two sides and a front) which will make up the crib skirt. To get the measurements of those three pieces, I just measured the crib skirt area’s height and width in that section, and then added 3″ to each measurement (to account for 1.5″ hems on each side). So for example, if the measured height for the side panel of the crib was 10 inches, I added three more to make it 13 inches. And if the measured length of that side panel was 28 inches, I added another three inches to make it 31.

Oh and it would be a nice moment for me to mention that if you’re using any fabric with a pattern on it, make sure your three panels all go in the same direction and have the pattern level or centered (so you don’t end up with wonky stripes or something from cutting things in the wrong direction). You might need more yardage for certain patterns or longer crib skirts.

I debated sewing these panels together or just using Heat N’ Bond hem tape, but since the crib skirt that I made for Clara was with Heat N’ Bond, and it held up really well, I figured that was a good choice again – especially since this is more of a tucked away element in the room (for example, I sewed Clara a quilt, but I used hem tape for her crib skirt, since it’s less of a hands-on item).

As far as what materials you’ll need if you’re attempting to make a crib skirt using this method, you’re all set with fabric, hem tape, scissors, and an iron. Oh and some velcro tabs, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First you just need to use hem tape on all four backsides of each of your three panels to hem them for a nice finished look in the front.

It’s really easy stuff to use, just iron it on, peel off the backing, fold the fabric over, and iron it again to make a hem. The fabric panel on the left of this picture was hemmed on all sides, and the panel on the right was also hemmed all the way around, and then I laid one more strip of hem tape down the side (along the back edge) so that I could join these two panels by ironing it on, peeling the backing, moving the second panel over the first one to overlap them, and then ironing that edge so they were fused together.

Once you turn it over, you’re left with a nice clean seam in the front of the fabric. And that seam will fall on a corner of our crib (behind one of the legs) so it won’t be seen.

I joined the middle panel to the two end panels this way on both sides and then it was ready to be attached to the crib. I used small velcro tabs around the metal frame of the crib to hold our skirt in place (you can get them at JoAnn or Michael’s which is also where they sell Heat N’ Bond).

Velcro is a nice option because it makes it easy to remove and wash it if you ever need to (hem tape is washable if you follow the directions and avoid high heat).

 

Our crib mattress will be lowered once the little guy is more mobile, so we won’t always need this skirt to bridge the gap between the bottom of the mattress and the drawer, but it’s such a fun little addition. Especially for $3.73.

We also used two coats of satin PolyShades gel stain (in Tudor) to make the bottom drawer of the crib a little darker, since it was looking kind of reddish-orange in comparison to the floors and the wood dresser-tops. We thought a hit of darker color would be nice to ground our light-colored crib, and it would also tie into things like the dark hardware on the built-ins, the chocolate elephant crib sheet, and even the oil-rubbed bronze doorknob that leads to his room.

We sealed the PolyShades with two satin coats of Safecoat Acrylacq, which is an awesome non-toxic sealer that keeps things from off-gasing, since Polyshades is low-VOC but not no-VOC.

It’s probably obvious that I just tossed like eight things on the built-in bookcases so they weren’t painfully bare, but I literally gave them four minutes of my time, so I can’t wait to gather some baskets and frames and books and toys and other fun nursery items to fill them in for real. (Shout out to the lone giraffe on the top right shelf). I think they’ll end up being super functional and a nice way to add a lot more fun/color/personality to the room, so I can’t wait to get cracking.

For the space above the crib, we’ve been debating everything from large scale art to some sort of accent like a slatted wall or a giant mobile. We even tried leaning the bike prints up there just to see what they’d look like, but we think they’re better suited for the opposite wall since they look a little busy with the built-ins.

So we’re planning to fill those built-ins “for real” and then see where we end up with that wall. I think we’re leaning towards a really fun large scale mobile – maybe like this but with hits of bold green, black, and white? And maybe another animal instead of birds (Burgers? Or whales since he’s The Barnacle?)…

What did you guys work on this weekend? Do you have any mostly-empty bookcases that you’re ready to go nuts on? Or some bare walls that are begging for some action?

Psst- To see our nursery progress from the very beginning, here’s the planning and rug-buying post, the dresser-sourcing post, the wall and ceiling painting rundown, the first half of built-in building, and the second half of the built-in project

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