After almost 5 years of trying to blog regularly, I think it’s time to face facts that I just cannot make blogging a part of my life. It’s especially challenging now trying to take care of a young baby and toddler. While I enjoy sharing my thoughts and our progress on the house, the blog is a source of stress for me as I cannot keep up with regular posts and it often seems like an obligation. In an effort to simplify my life, I will have to put the pause on blogging for a while. And probably when my children are more self-sufficient the world will have moved on to something else beyond blogs. But I appreciate your reading and I will be sure to send along photos to friends and family should they wish to see progress on our house, I just won’t be using the blog as that outlet anymore.
It’s high time I showed you the newest furniture addition to our household: the farmhouse table Dr. Jay’s dad made.
It’s made out of beautiful walnut he acquired in Georgia, and it’s not even stained, just a few coats of poly.
It’s very large, 95” long and 42” wide. We wanted it to be able to seat at least eight people, and we can certainly do that. I bet we could even squeeze two more if we really tried.
I know, can you believe he made that? We are so in love with it. He did a beautiful job with the proportions, considering every detail from the thickness of the top and skirt to the tapering on the legs. The legs are even bolted on so we can remove them should we need to move the table.
Dr. Jay and I have been talking about getting a dining table for a while. When we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary last June we decided that since wood is the traditional fifth wedding anniversary gift, it made sense to get serious about a dining table whenever we found a home to move into. Thank you, Grandpa, for making our farmhouse table dreams come true.
Side chairs are from West Elm, end chairs are Tolix knock-offs from World Market. I was able to buy all of them during January furniture sales, and all the chairs are very sturdy and proving to be kid-proof.
Originally I was thinking that we should have a rug underneath the table to protect the floors and for some pattern, but then I realized that we don’t have quite enough space for two feet of rug on each side of the table. You need two feet on each side so that the chairs stay on the rug when you pull them out from the table, and because of the way the window bumps out, I don’t have the clearance on one end.
(Excuse the quarter-round molding we still need to attach from after the floor refinishing. And the walls that need to be painted.)
Think I should do those FLOR tiles so that I can account for these corners?
So. Much. Better.
My in-laws! They saved the day! Literally they should have been wearing super hero capes because they absolutely saved us and I hope they know how much we appreciate it. Dr. Jay’s parents are die-hard do-it-yourselfers and there is nothing they can’t handle. They were planning to visit us last weekend anyway to drop off a table that Dr. Jay’s dad BUILT US (more on that one later) so they modified their plan a little to spend the entire weekend with their son RE-finishing our refinished floors. They swooped in at 8 a.m Saturday and left before noon on Monday. Dr. Jay rented two sanders and bought more stain and polyurethane and they all went to town on our floors. And stairs. I am making it sound a lot easier than I am sure it was. It required a LOT of effort to undo some of the wrongs that were committed on those floors. They put in long hours sanding and removing dust, then stayed up late to get the various coats on in order for the floors to be dry and usable by Tuesday night. My mom graciously hosted the kids and I last minute so we could be out of the way (and the dust and the fumes) and we returned on Tuesday to a tired Dr. Jay and beautiful floors. So much better. Crisis averted, panic attack denied.
This week I am trying to put our house back together and actually unpack a little downstairs. The floor project was definitely a barrier to that part of the move-in, and now I think we’re ready to get comfortable down there. TWSS.
And we have a gorgeous new dining room table and chairs just waiting for guests of a dinner party. Who’s coming over? I make a mean chicken tikka masala.
I wish I had better photos for you. Unfortunately, we arrived home last Saturday (after being away for 10 days) to a very botched floor job. Here is some photo documentation.
See those scratches? Those are not small. And those are just the beginning.
More scratches, from a sander. There are many instances of this.
Lovely uneven stain coverage. There’s a lot of that, too.
Here’s one of the biggest offenders, which is hard to photograph but easy to feel: the grit! See it up there to the left where the light hits it. Apparently all the dust wasn’t removed before the stain or poly was applied, so now it’s preserved for posterity. It’s rough, guys. I can’t even easily pass a Swiffer over it.
See up at the top where the floor isn’t shiny? Again, it’s hard to photograph (especially when you are using an iphone at 11 at night) but this spotty sheen is all over the floors. There is very uneven coverage of the polyurethane.
So, what was all that again?
- Uneven stain color
- Uneven poly-coverage
- Gritty texture
- Sander scratches
You don’t know this, but I’m refraining from screaming right now. Basically, our floors are in much worse shape than they were when we started. And no, this wasn’t a DIY job. A so-called professional completed this shoddy work. Not only is this an expensive mistake for us to clean up, it’s enormously inconvenient. Fixing this requires us to be out of the house again for a number of days. AND it puts many of our other projects (like unpacking and settling in downstairs, for instance) on hold until we can figure out what makes sense. We’ve been tossing around all sorts of possibilities, and I’ve got one quote from a company about fixing it and I am waiting on a quote from another. And we haven’t decided if we are going to try and recoup any of the financial loss from the first, botched job (we paid the contractor half his fee up front, to cover materials and some of the labor). Many have asked so I will say that yes, the contractor who screwed up our floors did offer to come back and fix them, but frankly, from the way he responded when we pointed out why this work wasn’t satisfactory, I don’t trust his ability to fix the problem. At this point, I won’t publicly out him on the blog, but I will probably be writing a review of his company on Yelp. And I’d really like to find the list of references he gave me and call them back to let them know what a disservice they did me by lying to me.
I wanted to keep this brief and not go on and on complaining, because really what is the point? I just wanted to update my readers with the results of the floor refinishing which I was so excited about. And I’m embarrassed because I think this reflects badly on me since I hired him. Believe me, I thought I had done my homework. At this point, Dr. Jay and I are just really glad we didn’t hire him to work on our kitchen, which was the original plan. We are considering doing EVERYTHING else ourselves at this point. Okay, I’m considering that. Dr. Jay has a job and other interests like fishing and photography and sleeping. He has no interest in re-plumbing our kitchen and laundry room.
The only thing that turned out well in the floor job was the stain color: Minwax Early American. We are happy with that. It looks more red in those photos than it is in real life. Blame the iphone photography at 11 pm. Don’t blame the contractor. Goodness knows he has enough faults already.
I know I owe you a post on Sawyer’s room, and believe me, I have some decent photos of it. BUT they are not with me at the moment so I thought I would update you with the state of the home renovations. Basically, our plan for this year is to refinish the floors and add hardwood where there was carpet (check!), renovate the kitchen (sort of on-going), and remove wallpaper and paint a lot of the house. Those are really the main goals for the house, along with just getting it in order and set up to host family and friends. We’re actually pretty far along with the wallpaper removal. We only have a super annoying/stuck on with super glue border in one of the rooms downstairs and the wallpaper in the bathroom upstairs to go as far as removal. The other walls are being prepped for paint (which is a long process, especially when you leave town in the middle of it) and I’m currently choosing paint for these rooms. That should be another post. I have a lot of plans.
Hi! I’m still here! I bet you thought we up and moved again. NOPE! Still here and having a grand time in Tennessee. I think the kiddos are blissfully napping right now (they are in their rooms and it’s quiet so let’s call that good) so I thought I’d tell you a little about where they sleep. First of all, this house is a quirky one as far as layout. Officially, there are two bedrooms up and two down. This makes arrangements for two kids and two adults a bit of a challenge, but I think we’ve managed to make the best of it. Mark has his own room (for now) down the hall and we have a large room upstairs. Ours is the largest in the house, but don’t be too jealous. It also has the smallest closet. No kidding. And the closet has really annoying doors that slide so that part of the opening is always closed. ANNOYING! Currently Dr. Jay is keeping his clothes in a closet and dresser downstairs. I hate this system but we haven’t really invested the brainpower to figure out something better yet. Anyway, I wanted to tell you about the kids’ rooms. Maybe the “master” bedroom we are using has such a small closet because there is such a large storage room right next to it off the hallway. It’s so large, in fact, that we have Sawyer’s room set up in it. It’s working pretty well. There are no windows in it (which make photographing it difficult) but that makes it a perfect place for napping. Mark’s room, on the other hand, has windows facing west and gets bright afternoon sun. Sometimes he has a hard time falling asleep there. Strike that. Most times he has a hard time falling asleep. But he’s getting so much better. Don’t even get me started on his napping (or lack thereof) over the summer. I came really close to ordering one of those mesh tents that fit on top of the crib and guess what? You can’t buy those anymore. Apparently there was a recall. RECALL! I think someone recalled Mark’s nap because we couldn’t pay the kid to take a decent nap this summer. Things have improved over time (as I’ve learned they tend to do with kids) and I think getting Mark’s room set up here with all his stuff really helped. Without further ado, let’s see some photos.
This is one of my favorite parts of his room- his reading nook. We actually read stories here every afternoon before nap and every night before bed. The story of this beanbag is a long one, but the short version is don’t buy a $20 beanbag from Target. You are bound to regret it. This is beanbag number two for us and I splurged for the “personalization” though de-personalized it with “Read”. I wanted it to be all lower-case, but I guess the embroidery machines at PBkids aren’t set up for that. Here is Mark, doing his thing in the reading nook. This is not a staged photo, promise:
There’s no specific theme to Mark’s room, but there is a subtle pattern of maps. The one just above him is from a seller on Etsy and has a real butterfly behind the glass. The colorful one is a sheet of scrapbook paper from Martha Stewart. Not sure if it’s still available. Here’s another map in the room:
Hanging that map was a LONG time coming. I bought it almost 2 years ago while thrifting with my sis-in-laws and mother-in-law. In fact, I think she bought it for us. We’ve been waiting for Mark to have a room big enough to hang it in. My father-in-law installed it when he was here in October and I just love it. Eventually, Mark’s bed will go up against that wall (short side of the bed). For now, his sleeping situation is a crib in the middle of the room, but don’t ask unless you want me to go into a 20 minute discussion of toddler psychology. That’s why I don’t have any full shots of his room. The crib situation is embarrassing, but it’s working for us right now (our toddler is napping and sleeping by himself) so we aren’t going to change things up on him just yet.
I had fun stuffing this bookshelf. The bottom two rows are FULL of books. We love to read in this house. I haven’t gotten Mark started on blogs yet, so for now it’s books. HA.
Mark’s dresser with his Super Mark cape (courtesy of his aunt Martha) and fish painting by his aunt Laura. Don’t mind that “You are my Sunshine” art- I still need to hang it. Funny story about stuff made by his aunt Laura. She’s made several things for our house (painted cards, a picture of an agave plant, sewed a foot pouf for me, etc) and we also have lots of stuff made by his aunt Ree, my mom, and plenty of other relatives. But if you ask Mark where something came from, or who made it, inevitably he credits Aunt Laura.
Last shot- Mark’s Schleich animal collection:
I try and get him one or two of these animals for his birthday and Christmas. I just love how realistic they are, even if they aren’t to scale between each other (see the longhorn compared to the camel and hedgehog). Eventually he and Sawyer will have a combined collection.
The paint color in Mark’s room is Behr Ultra in Grey Morning. I think these photos are pretty accurate as far as how it looks in person. It’s a light blue grey that’s pretty subdued. Colors like that are nice as the backdrop in kids’ rooms where their toys and books are so bright and colorful. I can’t wait to photograph the room in its entirety when it’s all set up with his big boy bed. All the photos in this post were taken with my iphone (hey, the light was working for me and Mark was cooperating so I did the best I could) but I’ll take more with a better camera when his room is outfitted with a real bed.
Part Two of this post will be Sawyer’s room. I am proud of the way we’ve made the space work.
See you soon!
Remember I was going to tell you where that “Start Somewhere” reference came from? Well, it comes, in a roundabout way, from this card I stuck on my computer over the summer:
Dr. Jay got a new computer to go with his new job over the summer so that meant I could inherit his laptop. Which looks VERY similar to his new computer. We started having trouble telling the two apart so I took matters into my own hands and fixed that by taping a card I saw in a bookstore to it. The quotation by John Cage is “Begin Anywhere”. It spoke to me because at the time we were living with my in-laws and really had no idea where we would be moving but we knew we would have a new beginning soon. We knew there was a beginning in store for us, but had no idea what it would look like or even where it would be. So “Begin Anywhere” was just a way for me to think positively about the changes I knew were in store for us. And John Cage is significant to me because at some point in college I designed a space around his piece 4’33″, so I’ve done a little reading about him and know a little about his theories so it made sense to me to think about John Cage while simultaneously contemplating our move and the impending changes in our life.
Well, our first full weekend in house we had our parents come and stay with us and start helping us with some of the necessary projects. My mother-in-law brought this little chalkboard and set it up the first morning with the words of wisdom from my computer. Or so she thought. I laughed when I saw it that morning because I knew exactly what she meant, even though Begin Anywhere had somehow become Start Somewhere. Also good advice.
And it’s what we mean to do. As far as the major work on the house, we’re starting with the kitchen. Let me give you a preview of what we are working with. Brace yourself. There are appliances from when Eisenhower was in office. There is wood paneling. Oh is there paneling. There’s linoleum. There are gold-flecked countertops. See for yourself:
See that angled door in the last photo? That leads to the laundry room. We’re thinking of getting rid of it entirely. Rather, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want that odd little room to go away and become kitchen space, I’m just waiting to hear whether or not we can afford to relocate the laundry room. Once our space plan is finalized, I’ll be sure to share it. I worked feverishly this past week to finish some plans and elevations to give to a contractor for pricing. Since I’m not with an architecture office anymore, I don’t have access to CAD software. I finally downloaded a trial version of AutoCad for Mac (so I can use it on my new-to-me laptop) and I’m loving getting back into drawing. Too bad my trial ends in less than 2 weeks and too bad a real version of AutoCad costs $4000. Yes, three zeros after that four. OMG is right.
Okay, back to the kitchen. I am actually grateful that this kitchen hadn’t already been remodeled. This way we can make all the decisions ourselves and not feel bad about replacing relatively new appliances or floors. I mean, that refrigerator leaks OFTEN. The oven door gets hot to the touch on the outside when it’s turned on. And the gold flecks. PEOPLE. That counter never looks clean.
So, a new kitchen we will have. Here’s a run down of what I am thinking. Soapstone counters (these deserve their own post because what I’ve learned about them is lengthy), stainless steel appliances (some locations may change if we bust out that laundry room), marble subway tile backsplash, commercial-grade faucet, single basin stainless sink, white cabinets (we think we are having ours refaced, but we’re still waiting to hear if that will work), dark wood floors (probably a walnut finish) and new lighting. If we take over the laundry space for the kitchen, we’ll gain a window which will be amazing for the light in the room, BUT we still need lights a night time and the single central light right now is pathetic. There’s actually a lot of lighting issues in this house, but one thing at a time and right now we’re talking kitchen.
Both of these may be slightly more traditional than we are going for. We definitely like a kitchen to have a more industrial vibe, but still warm. I think the warmth will come from the wood floors and color by way of accessories and window treatments and some of the furniture. I’ll leave you with a photo of one of the investments we’ve already made, some barstools in “lime-aide”. I love these things and I think they are going to be perfect against a black countertop and white cabinets. I had to snap this photo of Mark the other day, eating his snack at the counter. This is exactly how I envision these stools being used and, let me tell you, they are really sturdy. Mark has put them through the motions and these things are tough.
If you look closely, you’ll see that we’ve already painted some of the paneling white. Times they are a changin’.
I’ll be back to tell you more about soapstone and our plans for appliances and floors and schedules, oh my!