Bring on the Summer!

Today is a big day! It’s the last day of first grade for Lincoln, and the end of another year of preschool for Juniper. We’ve been counting down the days for over a month now, and I think we’re all ready for the break in routine.

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We’re looking forward to this evening, when Juniper will don a graduation cap with her classmates and celebrate “the big kids” exiting her preschool program- off to the real world of kindergarten. And this weekend Lincoln and David will attend their first big-deal scouting event: Dad & Lad overnight at Camp Thunderbird. Then, it’s all systems go with a full lineup of summer excitement. Swim lessons, dance camp, a family vacation in Chelan, and as many popsicles as we can stomach.

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I’m excited to be fully present at all of it this summer, and I’m grateful for the opportunity that living in this small town provides. For the last month or so, and essentially for the first time since we made the move down here, we’ve had the luxury of enjoying our weekends together as a family. It has been such an amazing treat! We’ve fished and explored, visited and celebrated with family, and have just generally enjoyed being together in one place for longer than a couple of hours each evening. That is what brought us here to begin with, and it feels so good to be living this way!

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Adventures at Schaefer Park on the Skookumchuck River
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Kitchen Update

I have so many things to share about the progress we’ve been making in the kitchen! The room is hardly recognizable. First and definitely most improved: the floor!

Floor Before and After Collage

Posting photos of the kitchen in my previous post about the shuffle really made me realize just how yellow and terrible the linoleum was. We decided to go the cheap and easy route and I spent under $200 and one afternoon applying peel and stick tiles right over the top of the existing floor. It’s not a glam solution, but I’m so happy with the results!

We also replaced the gross plastic baseboard with new white trim, and it’s all just so much better. So fresh and clean!

Island

We added an island and finally found a replacement for the hideous bookcase that was serving as a microwave cart. Both of these pieces have added so much function and style to the kitchen. It took me forever to find just the right thing for each space, but now that they’re there it’s so much better and it’s like they were made for the room.

Micro Cart Collage

The remaining bits of wallpaper were finally peeled off of every last surface, and we painted the rainbow walls this nice retro turquoise color (Behr’s Gray Wool) which I love against the bright white trim. We’re planning to paint the cabinets grey and replace all the hardware, but that’s a BIG project and I’m not quite ready to take it on right now. I also removed the wood backsplash (the wallpaper ran behind it) and I’m psyching myself up to tile back there.

Kitchen-Progress

It’s a few minor tweaks that have resulted in a much more pleasant kitchen! It feels brighter and cleaner, and the added workspace makes it more functional. I’m excited for the final few steps, but feel like I need to do something else for a while to regain some momentum.

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You can also see in the background there that David is in the middle of another project. He’s framing out a shallow end cabinet on the pantry cupboard to hide the broom and aprons. It will help that soffit mismatch overhead make more sense, and also hide the visual clutter in the corner. I can’t wait for that one!

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Off the kitchen in the hallway leading downstairs, we have the first-born Twin Cities Lamp Co. pendant on prominent display. I would like to add a couple more unique lights in the kitchen- maybe a pair of pendants as feature lighting over the island? I’ve got turquoise cord and more fresh supplies on the way and I’m excited to make something fun for the space. That might be the palate-cleanser I need before moving on to the monumental cabinet painting task that lies ahead. Next time you see this room, it just might be finished!

Instant Bathroom Update

I LOVE to paint! I just think it’s so amazing what a difference a couple of quarts of paint can make to refresh a tired space. I’m here with a couple of photos of our bathroom to show you some of what we’ve been up to around here lately. And yes, many paintbrushes were involved.

The pic below is a listing photo of the main bathroom upstairs. As you can see, it wasn’t terribly offensive, but there was a whole lot of brown and wood and it was just generally a little dated and boring. Since a full remodel isn’t in the cards for us, we decided to just make a few tweaks to make it feel a little bit more like us.

BathroomBefore

I knew I wanted to lose the curtain on the window, but obviously privacy is still important in a ground-floor bathroom, so I applied a frosted film to the glass and painted the window casing and all the trim bright white. We removed ALL that wood and the cheap builder fixtures (faucet, TP holder, multiple towel bars, toilet seat, shower curtain rod, medicine cabinet) and replaced them with equally inexpensive but more attractive to us versions.

Bathroom Collage

While I would love to do something about that eighty mile long ugly laminate countertop, that’s a phase two (or three) project for another time. For now, just peeling off the matching laminate backsplash and painting the walls a refreshing spa-like pale green (Behr’s Bayberry Frost) has made a big difference for me and my ability to tolerate this room. When it comes to gold-veined laminate, less is absolutely more!


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I found a faucet in the clearance section at Home Depot, and we swapped out the knobs on the cabinets with some complementary ones after we painted the drawer fronts and doors with a nice medium grey glossy paint (Behr’s Elephant Skin).

It’s nothing super fancy, but these small tweaks made over the course of a couple of weekends have made this room so much nicer for us. Someday, we would love to do something about the weird mustard-colored tub and add a second sink, but those things can wait. I’m just grateful that we don’t have to look at the wood toilet seat in the meantime!

I’m still on the lookout for a piece of art or something to go in the void where the medicine cabinet once hung. I was thinking of trying to DIY something like this planter from Uncommon Goods:

Succulent Wall Planter

Would that be totally weird hanging over your head in the bathroom? Would succulents like the humidity? I think it’s so beautiful, but I’m not 100% confident in my luck with plants. Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m all ears!

Kitchen Shuffle

Last time I showed you around the kitchen, it looked like this:

Kitchen Before Collage

You might recall that I was ambivalent about the usefulness of the little countertop there by the pantry, and I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but we’ve been irritated by the corner where the fridge and dishwasher live since we first set foot in this place. It’s tight and awkward, and it’s impossible to work over there. You can’t put dishes away with the dishwasher open, so clean dishes have to go from the dishwasher to the counter, and then to the cupboard. It’s also not possible to open the fridge while the dishwasher is open, which is actually more of an inconvenience than you might think. The whole ugly microwave/bookshelf business is also less than ideal, but we’re working with what we have for the time being.

With that whole making-do concept in mind, we’ve been thinking about how to reorganize the space to gain function before we’re able to go for a full-on remodel. We decided to try shuffling a couple of the cabinets around to see if we could make the layout make more sense for us. We started by removing the glass-fronted cabinet, just to see what we were up against. When that went well, we decided to continue on, and in the space of an afternoon, we managed to reimagine our kitchen!

Cabinet Move

We ended up swapping the location of the pantry cabinet and the fridge cabinet, solving most of our kitchen complaints with one move. The pantry and fridge cabinets were just screwed and nailed to their neighbors and the walls in a couple of places, so it was surprisingly easy to detach them for the shuffle. We uncovered some unfinished drywall and a couple more paint colors (and A LOT of dust) in the process, but really didn’t encounter any problems during this little remodel-lite.

Mid Move

The soffits don’t match up properly with the cabinets anymore, but we’re not terribly concerned about that. Future long-term plans involving a full scale kitchen reno with new cabinetry would almost certainly involve the removal of the soffits and installation of full-height cabinets anyway. Alternately, it wouldn’t be that tough to reframe and drywall them if the mismatch ends up bugging us.

It’s hard to convey through these crappy pictures, but it’s pretty remarkable in real life what a difference this has made to this space! It feels so much more open and spacious, and today I even put the dishes away straight from the dishwasher with no countertop layover! Even the ugly bookshelf (which is still a temporary solution) doesn’t stick out like such a sore thumb when it’s tucked under the reoriented glass-fronted cabinet in its new home.

Another Kitchen Collage

We still need to replace some trim and paint the walls (and probably the cabinets too), but that’s a project for another day month. For now, I’m so happy with the our new, much more functional layout! It even feels like there is room for an island in there now, should we decide that would end up being beneficial.

Kitchen Collage

And, I have to credit those “Young House Love kids“, as I like to refer to them, for inspiring this kind of shuffle. I never would have thought that we could remove cabinets without damaging them and re-home them in our own space if I hadn’t seen them do it in one of their homes. Now if we could just fast-forward to the part where our whole place looks like theirs, we’d be in good shape!

Quickie Fireplace Update

Remember this mess? I figured it would be a quick and easy process to spiff this area up, so I decided to just go for it.

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It was mostly a simple process- it was easy to unscrew the clamps holding the gold doors onto the fireplace, then they went down to the garage for a scrub and a fresh coat of paint. Once the doors were off, it became apparent that the previous owners hadn’t cleaned out the ashes from their fires in a while. Or maybe ever. There was at least six inches of ash and debris piled up in there! Thinking I would make quick work of it, we brought the shop vac up, and I started to suck up the mess. In less than 30 seconds, the living room was filled with a plume of smoky ash, as everything I was sucking up the front was shooting directly out the back! Still not really sure what happened there- but it was an epic fail. I switched to a broom and dustpan, and after an hour or so running the fan out the open door, the air was clear(ish) and everything on the first floor was blanketed with a fine dusting of ash. Admittedly, this was not the best start to a simple project!

Fireplace Update

Once the dust had (literally) settled and I had wiped everything clean, I caulked along the edges of the bricks where they met the wall. There were some gaps there and I’m always impressed by how quickly a little caulk can make things look finished. Then it took less than a quart of white paint to freshen up the bricks, and just a bit of a sample test pot of paint (Interlude by Behr) to update the mantle. One can of spray paint in oil rubbed bronze finish completed the task, and we were back in business in 24 hours! And the total cost for this update was under $30! I think it was time and money well spent.


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Of course, cleaning up this one small area just serves to highlight the flaws surrounding it, but we’re on a slow and steady track here. One little thing at a time! I think finally getting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and trim around the windows and ceiling will make another huge difference in this space, so that might be next. I’m also thinking that Glenda’s suggestion to add some cool fabric to the back of the china cabinet might be fun. There’s certainly no shortage of fabric in this house!

Be back soon with more mini updates!

xoxo -t

New House Tour- Dining & Living Room

The house tour continues! I’m back to show you more of the upstairs, specifically the North-West quadrant/AKA the dining room and living room. For the most part, we’ve done very little to make our mark on any of these spaces, aside from moving furniture in, so prepare yourself to be underwhelmed!

This is the view from the kitchen looking out into the dining room, which is the area that has seen the most action so far. David stripped wallpaper in here a couple days before Thanksgiving, and painted the walls and trim. We still need to paint the trim around the window and around the doors, and also the doors themselves, to brighten them up from the dull creamy yellow to match the bright white trim that we prefer.

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Here’s a pic from the listing so you can see the REAL before of this space:

Dining Room

And now that we’ve stripped it of all that sweet country charm:

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Seeing these pics make me realize just how bland these spaces currently are! There’s hardly any art on the walls, and the beige paint and beige carpets and wood furniture are just so boring! We need to get some personality up in here soon! I’m thinking curtains on that window and a different rug under the table will help punch things up. Someday we would love to rip up that wall-to-wall carpet and lay down some hardwood floors, and there has been some talk of scraping the fancy glitter popcorn ceilings as well.

I’m torn about the future of this sweet built-in china cabinet. I love having the extra storage and I think it’s a great feature of the house. I don’t love the dark stained wood though, and I find it especially annoying when the trim is all painted white. I try to think of it like a piece of furniture so it doesn’t bug me as much, but a part of me wants to paint it or re-stain it or do something to it to make it more me. Another part of me thinks it would be terrible to “destroy” this original feature by doing anything to it though. I haven’t decided which part will win. Perhaps they can compromise and we’ll just swap out the hardware or something.

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Past the dining room we have the upstairs living room area:

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I love the big brick fireplace in this room (it’s a lot like the one we had in the last house which was beautiful and my favorite thing about that place) though it definitely could use some love. That gold screen, for one, must go! Perhaps Santa too, given that it’s almost February? We’ll see…

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And just for fun, another listing shot of this space before-before:

Upstairs LR

The previous owners were kind enough to leave those lovely sheer curtains for us, but we were in the house for about 45 minutes before we ripped them down. They were not kind enough to leave us the kitty. Jerks.

This is the rather boring view of the other side of the room. Again, no art, no personality, and populated only by the couch that we very nearly left on the side of the road in Burien. It came along as a placeholder until we can afford to replace it, and unfortunately, it’s likely it will be sitting there in all that swirly red glory for a good long time! Those paint swatches have been there for over a month now, and we’re still uncommitted to either color. We’ve talked about just continuing the dining room shade in here, since it’s all just one big room, but that feels kind of boring. And so we do nothing!

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This beauty is another gift from the former owners, and one that we were only too happy to accept, despite the fact that none of us play. I love listening to the kids bang on it (gently, of course), and hope that one or both of them will be amenable to lessons at some point in the future. A piano is something that we were unlikely to ever purchase, so it feels like such a special thing to have one without expending any effort. There’s even a selection of sheet music in the seat! It’s the lazy music lover’s dream come true.

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And that, my friends, concludes this portion of the tour. This has definitely inspired me to add some life to these beige boxes we’ve got going on here! I’ve been telling myself that we just got here and everything will take some time (which is totally reasonable and true) but we’ve been here almost three full months now. It’s probably time to hang some art! Will be back to show you interesting updates should there be any, and will continue the tour of the rest of the place at some point. For posterity and stuff.

xoxo- t

New House Tour- Kitchen

I was chatting with a friend this week, and she mentioned that she was curious about the house and requested pictures. Then another friend said that she had no idea what was going on in my life these days, so I decided maybe it was time to provide a little update! I started this blog with good intentions of keeping family and friends looped in on our adventures in our new hometown, but as usual, life has gotten in the way. Since the place will never be super tidy and Pinterest-ready, I decided to just take a few pics and throw them up here, so those who are interested can see what we’ve been up to. I started with the kitchen.

This first photo was taken from the dining room, looking into the left side of the kitchen. Farthest left (out of frame where the parquet floor is) is a hallway that leads to all the bedrooms and the main floor bath and a staircase leading downstairs. This little counter/desk/glass cabinet area is kind of weird and we’re still figuring out how to use it effectively. It’s on the list for potential revamping down the line into something more functional for our family. But the BIG cabinet to the right of it is a pantry, which thrills me to no end. It is SO nice to have a place to store things inside the kitchen. In our last house, we stored cans and dry goods in the laundry room, which was downstairs. Needless to say, this is much more convenient!

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Just in case you’re a weirdo like me who is into this sort of thing, here’s a shot of the inside of the pantry. JUST LOOK at how big it is! And for the record, these little clear bins on the top shelf are a lifesaver for a shorty like me. Nothing gets shoved to the back of the cabinet in no man’s land, and you can just pull the whole thing down to find what you need. And this can rack ended up being pretty revolutionary too. You’re welcome, fellow organizing geeks.

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To the right of the pantry is the first project that we Gus took on in the new house. I lifted this photo from his FB page, BTW, which is why the chalk drawing looks nicer and the light is different. This wall was covered with some (un)lovely floral wallpaper when we moved in, but a spray bottle and a couple of hours of peeling made that a distant memory. The wall beneath was in rough shape due to a crappy patch job on a former doorway, so Gus spent a few days skimcoating and sanding and prepping before he painted the whole wall with a couple of coats of chalkboard paint and hung up some hooks for display/storage of our cookware.

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We still need to finish peeling the wallpaper border around the rest of the room, and throw away the hideous rugs that the former owner left (why haven’t I done that already?) and eventually we would love to replace the ugly linoleum floor. The floor is in fine shape, and not the ugliest I’ve ever seen, so we’re living with it until it comes to the top of the list. (Meaning it will be with us for a good long while!) The wallpaper, however, will be leaving us once we can decide on a paint color for the walls.

Kitchen2

The photo above shows the view straight into the kitchen from the dining room doorway. The slider leads to the south side of the deck that wraps around from the front of the house and goes to the backyard. The homemade bookcase was left in the garage by the previous owners and is serving as a temporary solution to the cookbook storage/microwave homelessness problem that we currently face. We’re contemplating a more permanent solution in the form of a built-in cabinet in that same location, or perhaps in the spot where that desk/glass cabinet thing is. The fridge is one of the few appliances that didn’t die upon our arrival*, so I’m fully expecting its inevitable demise in the next month or so.

The dishwasher, on the other hand, was the third appliance (of three so far) to fail and require replacement in the two-plus months that we’ve been here. Our replacement strategy is cheap and serviceable for this phase of the game. We figure that if we ever remodel the kitchen at some future point, we may want to go higher-end, but right now we just need something that works and doesn’t leak water all over the floor. Gus even installed this baby himself, which saved us the $70 Home Depot install fee. Unfortunately, he was hit by an un-licensed, un-insured driver while on the way to the hardware store to pick up a part that he needed to complete the job, so you know. One step forward, eleventy-bajillion back, as is our way. He (and Junie, who was with him) are both fine. He was driving our old, paid-for minivan, which is not fine, but it still operates. Time, and an insurance adjuster, will determine what happens to it next.

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Also please take note of the lovely wallpaper which continues on this wall, and the delightful scallop trim between the cabinets over the window. The lacy curtain was also a gift from the former occupants, and will be going the way of the wallpaper, scallops, and rug.

Continuing our rotation around the kitchen, we come to the lovely new oven. This item was the number two major unexpected expense to arise after our move. The stove that was here was a perfectly functional ceramic cooktop unit that developed a giant crack a few weeks ago. The last house also had a glass top and we managed to break that one too, so we decided to replace it with an old-school electric coil cooktop oven instead. We figure we can’t break this (probably), and though there is gas in the house, there isn’t gas in the kitchen and we didn’t want the added expense of running the line right now. Someday if we remodel the kitchen, we’ll deal with it then.

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That doorway on the right of the frame leads to the dining room, so that completes the 360 tour of the kitchen. So there you have it! One room of our new little abode in all its glory. Maybe some day, we’ll do some kind of impressive remodel reveal and show you what handy DIY-ers we are and how far we’ve come. Until then, though, this is how we’re living and some of what we’ve been doing so far for those who are curious. There has been some wallpaper peeling happening in other areas of the house, so I’ll probably be back at some point with another little photo tour or two.

On the list for (eventual, not in order) kitchen improvements:

  1. Peel the rest of the wallpaper & paint the walls.
  2. Paint the cabinets(?) We’re strongly considering this. The dark cabinets are in fine shape, but they’re very dark. I think a nice neutral light grey would really lighten the room up and help modernize the room. Replacing the cabinets is not in the short-term plan, but is something we’ll probably do eventually, so painting them seems like a good intermediate step. We’ll see if we have the follow-through to actually undertake this task!
  3. Install a backsplash. This seems like something we should be able to do (we watch a LOT of HGTV, and they make it look so easy!) but I don’t know if we’ll get up the guts to try it ourselves and hiring it out is not in the budget right now. But that wood trim has got to go!
  4. Build a cabinet to replace the ugly duckling next to the fridge that will hold the microwave, cookbooks, and recycling. Also potentially the coffee/tea paraphernalia.
  5. Figure out what to do with the weird wasted space next to the pantry. We don’t really need a little desk there, and the glass-fronted cabinet is nice but not super necessary. There’s got to be a better use for this.
  6. Reconfigure the layout so you can use the refrigerator and dishwasher at the same time, and also so I can reach the cabinets above the dishwasher when it’s open. There may not be a solution for this that doesn’t involve a full kitchen remodel and new cabinets, but we keep considering things. Items 4, 5, and 6 all feel like they could potentially be solved together with one smart solution. It’s all probably out of scope right now, but we’re always scheming and pondering.

Any helpful suggestions? We’re all ears.

*In case you were wondering, the dryer was the first to go (RIP). It just quit working exactly one week after we moved in. Wouldn’t turn on at all. The oven top broke about a month later at the beginning of December. And we think the dishwasher has leaked ever since we got here, but it was getting noticeably worse so a well-timed Christmas gift of a Home Depot gift certificate sealed its fate. Still hanging in there: the previously mentioned refrigerator, the washer, and hot water heater. Dead pool, anyone?