So, onto the backyard lighting. You remember that Matt built our bench seating and table from this post HERE, and we ordered some cushions for it, returned them as they did not really work, and ordered some more. We also wanted to put up some string lights to have a little backyard oasis, and this is the process:
WHAT? A post about home decor? The first since May you say? I know - I'm a horrible home decor blogger. But, it is called "science of married" and a lot of the things I do being married do not involve home decor, haha. But now that I am home from summer travels I want to get back into some of the home stuff, as we usually do in the Fall. i signed up for another Apartment Therapy "Cure" - which is the Style Cure this month. Probably won't get it done this month, as it involves re-styling an entire room, and I'd rather just do some updates, but I'm sure it has a lot of good advice, one I get around to reading it all...
So, onto the backyard lighting. You remember that Matt built our bench seating and table from this post HERE, and we ordered some cushions for it, returned them as they did not really work, and ordered some more. We also wanted to put up some string lights to have a little backyard oasis, and this is the process:
Way back in June we used string to get a rough idea about the length of the string of lights we would need. We wanted the lights to go from the closest tree to the deck to along the kitchen back wall, and back, roughly 3-4 times. Once it was strung up the way we wanted, I cut it down and measured all the pieces, which ended up being just under 100 meters in length.
We didn't get around to putting the lights up until the beginning of August because we were away so often. Matt had made some sort of trigonometric spreadsheet (that's what you get when you marry an engineer), so whenever I say "we" in this post, I actually mean "Matt". I think most of you figured that out already, though. I more had input on the type of lights, arrangement of lights, and height.
Matt screwed in bolts and clips to 4 spots along the brick and one larger one to the tree. The clips made it easy to adjust all the wires once in place if we wanted them lower or higher.
We originally wanted to get the lights at Target. They had them on sale, but were sold out well before I ended up going to see if they had any. They were also strings of 25 m, and you could attach 3 sets together before overloading. Since they were sold out, we looked at Pottery Barn ones, which were way too much. Matt ended up finding a set of 100 on an eBay "Novelty Lights" site, which were about $90 for the full set of 100. We chose green wire (instead of white) so that the string didn't show at night, and white lights. You can get a lot of variations from this site, and they shipped in about a week. They also included 25 extra lights, as they are quite breakable. We hung the wire first, then added the lights in to minimize jostling. We've had them up for just over a week and none have broken yet!
Just one with our patio set - more on this for Matt's birthday post and a family BBQ we had this past weekend coming up!
About a month ago Matt and I went to Home Sense looking for a few things, and I'm not sure if we found what we were looking for, but we did pick up two small items for the main floor.
The first - a little stool for the dining room corner that Matt loved. Not sure what to put on it yet, but the good thing is that it can be put higher and act as another seat at the table, and eventually I will probably put a planter on it to add some green growing things to the dining room - something that does not need too much light.
The second - a round mirror for the living room corner. Wanted something on that wall some rounded edges and I thought this mirror was so pretty!
Really makes that wall feel less bare.
With the light on (which I'm hoping to replace soon with a light from West Elm!!!)
For my dad's retirement party this past weekend, I decided to get crafty and make some decorations. I am in love with all the bunting pictures gracing the party scene lately, so I wanted to make it myself. You can do it with fabric, but since I am pretty much useless at sewing anything but buttons on shirts, I decided that was out. I went the paper route with ribbon. So I dared to enter Michael's on Friday and get supplies. As with Ikea, I have a love-hate relationship with Michael's. I walk in there and I see it is where Pinterest was born, but at the same time, it is so hard to navigate and there is so much selection that I feel overwhelmed. I managed to find some primary colour scrapbook paper and some ribbon, all with fun polka-dots, and was out of there after only a half hour of wandering around, haha. They seriously need some of those Lowe's panic buttons where you just hit the button, stand still and weep uncontrollably until someone comes points you in the right direction.
The first step in the bunting process is deciding on triangle size and shape. Most sites I went to go for the "perfect triangle" which I grew up as knowing as an equilateral triangle, but whatever. That would be all angles 60 degrees and all lengths the same for those geometry-challenged. I thought I would go for the isoceles (2 angles and lengths the same) as I wanted them a bit longer and more pennant shaped, but not TOO pointy. I whipped out my trusty ruler and protractor and went to work. After doing a few rough designs, I decided on 2 angles of 65 degrees and the other 50, and the top length 13 cm (because I love 13, I know, weird). I also have a paper cutter to make sure my lines were straight (way back from the scrapbook days).
I cut my triangle out on heavy cardstock, so it would be easy to trace. And then traced them onto the back of pretty polka-dot scrapbook paper.
I could get 6 on a page and used 2 pages of 4 different colours. That left me with 48 triangles and I ended up fitting 38 to my ribbon.
I got this paper cutter from the dollar store about 10 years ago. A DOLLAR, and the original cutting blade is still great (and it came with a second one that has not yet been used). I do not have steady hands, so cutting by hand was not an option for me when it comes to cut and paste projects. By the way, the dollar store usually has lots of fun scrapbook paper and accessories too, so no need to always head to Michael's and spend the big bucks (although my sister in law is a pro Michael's coupon shopper, haha).
Then when all my triangles were cut, I had to decide on spacing and pattern. I went in typical rainbow pattern, of course.
Each space was 4 cm from the top of the last triangle. I made a little pencil mark, and then pulled out the trusty hot glue gun (again, $5 purchase - it's just a mini-one - a must for any crafty person), and went to town. I wasn't too picky with exact spacing and height, but I tried to have the triangle tops just below the top of the ribbon.
A note of caution - if you want the bunting to go back and forth, you need to first measure you length, because when you reach one end and want it to go back in the other direction, you need to twist your ribbon or glue your triangles in the other direction. If not, they will be coloured one way, and you will see the white backs the other. I didn't really know the size of the space I was working with, so I just decided to one long chain, and either cut it and use two or space it all between one section. I brought scissors and duct tape to the party with me just in case, haha.
Finished product - looks pretty good and the glue held up well. I folded the entire chain back and forth to keep the paper from creasing while we were bringing it over to the venue.
All hung up between two large pillars at Mill Street. My brother bought balloons, and I also got a memory box and I (well Matt) added a slot to the top for people to write messages to my dad. We had a pictures for everyone to sign too.
Definitely added a festive touch to the brew pub, and I think the whole project took me about an hour and a half.
Awww brother-sister love!
Sorry to those who came to this post thinking I was going to talk about the band...I'm not...but they're great!
Instead I'm talking about actual black keys - ones on our gallery wall, finally!
Here it is a few weeks ago...with a big lonely gap
Here's the shiny key my sister in law gave me, but sadly it was too big and bit too ornate for what I wanted on the wall, but perfect for the dining room!
But I found some that fit - I tried one and it looked a bit bare and simple, but two was perfect.
They are from Pottery Barn (online only) - vintage keys
There are two black ones and five tarnished golden (more green) ones
Last one (yes I am watching Ice Age:The Meltdown)
Here are the other five...I wonder what i should do with them...
For now they are good in the dining room
So here's what I accomplished over the month of January, and my future plans:
2. Cleaned the guest bedroom mirror
3. Organized the guest room drawers
4. Got the ProActiv frequency to the longest time
5. Decided to leave the picture on the floor - I like it!
10. Stepped on the scale (and promptly stepped off)
Did not figure out ways to dry towels better (sticking to over door knobs and frames), find art for the walls, spray paint the lamp base or the chandelier
Cleaned with a new light
Cleaned mirror and organized drawers
11. Organized the shower stuff
12. Replaced the turquoise pouf
82. Ripped out the basement medicine cabinet
83. Ripped out the basement toothbrush holder
Did not replace the shower mat, buy more white towels, or paint the basement bathroom
BONUS: scrubbed the bathroom floors!
Scrubbed bathroom and organized cabinets
Cleaned and some easy demolition
15. Storage solution for the saw horses (threw them out and got metal ones that collapse)
17. Donated the mirror
Did not spray paint the bird cage, put together the light, remove the sweater (why oh why?), patch and sand the walls, figure out the parquet
Got rid of sawhorses, donated much of the clothing, and got rid of the wire hangers
22. Made the bed (repeatedly, haha)
23. Did the laundry (also repeatedly)
25. Dusted the blinds
26-28. Organized the closets
Did not cover the yellow storage ottoman
BONUS: cleaned this room really well, including the mattress
Added some purple decor and cleaned
Also cleaned out every closed and cleaned the mattress with baking soda and fabric softener
32. Touched up the stairs
33. Put away some coats and accessories
34. Organized the shoes
35. Got a welcome mat for the hallway (not a runner, though)
36. Got a new light for the main entryway
Did not organize the upstairs hall closet, put a gallery wall down the stairs, get a new light for the hallway (although planning to use the old hallway light after spray painted silver)
Got a new light and organized some of the storage
Touched up the paint and stain on the stairs
39 & 40. - Used my new tripod and lens
Did not prime and paint the trim or update the sideboard decor
BONUS: cleaned this room really well
Washed all the linens from Christmas and dusted everything
Got some inspiring ideas from my YHL and D*S books (more to come on that!)
41. Took down the overhead light
43. Mounted the speakers to the wall
44. Read some decor magazines (but there are so many more now that I haven't read yet!)
46. Made the gallery wall
Did not figure out how to hide the wires, sand and stain the TV unit, figured out the lonely vase
BONUS: cleaned this room really well
New lighting and cleaned up space with mounted speakers
Need something for that far wall...
Got pictures for the gallery wall
48. Organized the change
49. Re-oiled the cutting boards (Matt is actually doing this as we speak!)
51. Bought milk
54. Cleaned the chalkboard (but didn't figure out something fun)
55. Shoveled the snow (multiple times, unfortunately)
56. Found a place for the cookbooks
57. Threw out the lavender
58. Threw out that orange
Did not organize the kitchen spices (although did rid myself of many of the ones in the basement), regrout tiles, paint the kitchen, figure out the top of the shelves, take down the ceiling fan, pulled out the plugs, fixed the wall bulge, or fix the clock
Florals to brighten up the kitchen
Spic and span kitchen, organized cookbooks, and a meal!
Dinner - Rosemary Chicken Lasagna
64 Dusted the shelf on the stairs
65. Put away laundry
66. Found a shop-vac space
67. Organized the bookshelf
69. Played the piano (Joseph Act 2!)
70. Used my office space
72. Stored the miter saw
73. Organized the wrapping container
74. Organized the storage pile (and threw a lot out)
75. Donated multiple items
76. Took back the empties
77 & 78. Organized the storage cupboards
81. Got rid of the old paint cans
86. Got the stuff out of the dryer
87. Washed the Christmas napkins and runner
88. Washed the stored the drop sheets
89. HHW disposal
90. Got rid of/washed some of the rags
91. Sorted the random wood
92. Dusted the laundry room rafters
93. Organized the tool drawers
94. Stored (but not cleaned) work shoes
95. Stored the towels (although not exactly where I want them yet)
96. Put away Matt's Queen's stuff
98. Covered the AC unit outside
Did not do anything with the chalkboard, get more ink for the printer, learned to golf, go on a picnic, called to service our AC unit
Organized files and bookshelves
An incredible amount of decluttering and organization
Wood gone, and a new home for the shop-vac
Tool area cleaned up and a little bit of love
And # 100 - Loved my home (a lot!) 63 of 100 things? Pretty good! Most of these things I didn't plan to finish in January in the first place, but it was a good list to get organized from. Matt says "ohhh...so that's a C" to which I promptly hit him. So supportive. It was a great month, and can't wait to do more!
Plans for the next few months?
1. Organize the linen closet
2. Paint the kitchen, dining room trim, and basement bathroom
3. Spray paint crazy - chandelier, hallway lights, birdcage
4. Plus some of the easy missed organization from the above list.
Longer term, we are planning to build a storage area underneath the stairs, along with reinforcing the stairs themselves and tearing off the carpet on it.
Day 16 - Clean Bathroom and Go Through Medicine Cabinets
I didn't actually do this until last weekend, but I did do a thorough clean. What I did not do is wear gloves while I scrubbed the floors with quite caustic "scrubbing bubbles" bathroom cleaner. Wow, were they red! Besides the floors, the bathrooms were easy - they are cleaned pretty regularly and I keep the sink and faucets tidy each day anyway. Making the shower glass look all shiny takes a bit more work, but not bad. The basement bathroom needed a good dusting and more detailed clean as it is done less often, and I also did some easy demos too. Specifically I pulled down the ugly medicine cabinet (all our stuff fits in the one upstairs or under the sink anyway) and the toothbrush holder. Now there is a random space on the wall, but I'm okay with that. I'm going to paint that room anyway at some point this year. The pictures aren't incredible...the spaces are small and light is limited, but here is what I took:
Obviously a few days after I cleaned the glass in the shower...
These prints are so fun
Basement bathroom (not so much to look at as of now...)
Sans wood medicine cabinet and toothbrush holder...
Now I need to get rid of that ugly light too!
Looking at these pictures really makes me want to do over this room!
Day 18 - Weekend Chores: Clean the Living Room and Empty the Outbox and Flowers
Well the living room was not that bad, but I did give it a good dusting, cleaning, vacuum, and also went through all the coffee table drawers. I went even further and did the same for the dining room. We also got one new light - the overarching floor lamp from West Elm. We took away the overhead light (planning on spray-painting it silver and putting it up in the hallway upstairs). The only thing we need to do now is put a lower wattage bulb in it - it is VERY bright. Since I sit pretty much underneath it, I feel like I am out in the sun...but without the warmth or tan or fruity drink. *Update - I have now changed this light to a 40W equivalent - much better!*
As for emptying the outbox, we did a run to Value Village with a huge load of clothing, and Matt took all the empties back to the Beer Store. We also took a huge pile for the dump (which also has a paint reuse center), and we gave the hutch in our basement back to Matt's parents to store for Megan (or for us in a future - and larger - house).
What I didn't do? Flowers! I forgot! Ahhh! I'll do it this weekend, I promise!
Broke out the tripod to let some light in
Ohhh J.Crew - was just discussing with a friend this week how beautiful all the stuff is in this latest catalogue, but all the most expensive things are featured! I can't afford to have everything cashmere!!!
Clean dining room too!
Really need to change up this sideboard decor...
Not very often there is this much light in the dining room (only between 11-2 pm usually)
Some details - LOVE print by Jen Ramos, plus some design books from bloggers YHL and D*S
plus a mercury glass owl. Wouldn't be my home without some sort of owl decor.
Vase is from my friend Steph as a housewarming present (from Urban Barn), apple for my teacher side (and I have a green one for the Spring), plus a key my sister in law gave me!
Day 19 - Catch Up & Take A Photo
Yay - catch up! Matt and I worked on the basement this weekend, and I did a bit on Monday as well. We cleared out a lot of the stuff from underneath the stairs. Matt decided he wanted to play his guitar more, so moved it upstairs...so now it's in the guest bedroom. Not being played. He refused to get rid of his electric guitar, while fully admitting that he has not played it since high school. Maybe he'll let my school kids use it? I never thought of that until this second. That's a pretty good idea! (*Update - he's considering it*) I went through all the keepsakes, and paint cupboard, and laundry room stuff, and as I mentioned above, its still a work in progress, but it's better.
First outbox dump - empties to the Beer Store, clothes to Value Village
Second round - to the DUMP!
Third round - all of this pile on the left to Goodwill, plus the big brown headboard and the Ikea light (not pictured)
Yes...this is organized (except the bottom - I really need to fold all these drop cloths)
A lot less clutter!
Print we bought for nothing (a few dollars) at Home Sense but didn't have a place for yet
(Which has since been ruined as Matt tried to clean some of the dents and scratches off of, but it had no finish on it so pretty much just took off the paint...so going to start over - paint it white and stencil the words on myself!)
Day 20 - Hang Your Artwork
Way back in the first week we were supposed to pick some art to get framed. I hung the love print upstairs, and I got pictures for the gallery wall downstairs. Still waiting for a key. My sister in law gave me one, but it's a bit too ornate for the gallery wall (it's the one in the dining room pictures - much better there). There is a set of keys from Pottery Barn that I just bought - one is large and will work perfectly, and the others will be decor or part of the other gallery wall that will eventually go up the stairs (love keys right now!).
Our gallery wall started off as this - on December 23rd, cut out brown paper the exact size of the frames, and played around with the spacing until it was something we liked.
Since we had yet to pick pictures, I filled the frames with wrapping paper and hung a little "NOEL" ornament (actually a wine bottle charm) in the gap at the bottom.
Pictures today - all Black and White pictures from our travels
Clockwise from top left - Rome just before sunset, lego-like Douglas Coupland Orca in Vancouver, sailboat at sunset in Santorini, Empire State from the Top of the Rock in NYC, beach scene in the Bahamas from our honeymoon, and the Eiffel Tower...the Vegas one (haha, my mom was very confused about the fountain for a minute).
Day 21 - Speedy Spruce Up & Surface Clean
Just spend a few hours tidying, dusting, and vacuuming. My house isn't that big, so this was a quick one!
Day 22 - Shop for the Get-Together Goodies
So I'm a bit behind on the get together, although I have rough plan ideas for a few weeks from now with some friends (*Update - date of Feb 23rd for Brunch is set*), and I thought that this time would be best spent just getting groceries at all, haha.
Day 23 - Relax, You're Done!!!
Yay!!!!!!! Although all the projects I was supposed to finish I didn't...but I did a lot! Recap of the January Cure in the next post!
Since we painted our bedroom way back in 2011, I haven't done a lot except changing some of the bedding here and there. Luckily I'm pretty happy with the space, but it definitely needed the clean it got this past weekend. I purged a lot of clothing from the closets, cleaned every surface, and reorganized some of the storage. Nothing huge, but happy how it is all tidy now.
One of the closets "before" - not much to see, but trust me, it was very messy.
Much better, plus matching turquoise hangers!!!
Favourite drawer because it is so colourful (please ignore that there are tags on a pair of capris and two shirts...
Next Cure? Getting my fat butt back to the gym. Geez.)
Dressier stuff - light weight shells and tops, skirts, and pants (half are Matt's)
Dress closet - note, I am selling about 20 dresses (some unworn!)...stay tuned!
Oh and the dress on the far right is my prom dress, haha...I can't part with it!)
Even got Matt's side organized!
(He wore the Leaf's jersey, finally, on Saturday while we watched the game)
Then I was on to the end tables - Matt's was easy - dusting and putting the magazines in order, haha.
I just stared at all those books I want to read without the time to do it...
...oh hello wise owl!
Got some new flowers to match the rest of the purple room too
(Below are various angles of the room - love the new purple Sunset Throw from West Elm)
I also cleaned the guest room, and got a new lamp for the end table (Home Sense - $30!) - I really only had to dust this room, and organize the drawers with all the extra clothes and bathroom stuff in them.
I like Essie nail polish...(I also have not painted my nails since November...sad...)
Dusted all the little branches and finally cleaned that mirror!
How I need some art (maybe an old fashioned map!) on that wall over the bed
My new love (the Home Sense Steal light)
Seriously - we need guests!
I'm starting to love the overhead light - needs a good polish but it goes with the table lamp well.
One room I did not clean, however, was the little middle guest room. It currently looks like this:
Just trying to keep it real.
Day 1: Make a List of House Projects
So I figured this would be more fun in pictures, although I will write it down in list-form for myself. I wandered around the house taking pictures of things that need fixing/changing/updating/organizing, anything! There's a few different random notes to myself as I went as well that I threw in. A lot of these are small, and add up to the larger projects we want to do around the house. Some will take 1 minute and I will do today, others this month, others later this year when the weather is better (like spray painting things), and some won't even be in 2013. But it's a list! I took this pictures with my house as-is. No editing, no cleaning, nothing. Now considering it is a week after Christmas, my house isn't too messy, but you'll see some typical my-house stuff as we go around the rooms.
**Note that this is a photo-heavy post, so could take a bit to load!*
1. Find a towel-drying solution. I used to hang them on the stair guard but now that it is new and shiny Matt says I'm not allowed anymore. Hanging them on doors doesn't seem to dry them as well...
2. Clean that mirror
3. Organize these drawers - the far one has Christmas receipts in it along with my makeup. The other has extra bath stuff.
4. Oh yes, and change the frequency of the ProActiv...I have too many extra kits that I'll never used fast enough. Anyone want to try it?
5. Hang this
6. Find decor for this wall - some great art
7. And something for this wall too!
8. Spray paint this light a brighter gold
9. "Pretty" this lamp base...paint?
10. Step on this...hmmm...perhaps not.
11. Organize the shower stuff - need a little shower organizer box...
12. Oh yes, and replace the turquoise pouf
13. Replace this shower mat - it never dries
14. Buy more white towels - these are getting dingy
15. Storage solutions for sawhorses
16. Spray paint this birdcage
17. Donate that mirror on the right
18. Put together the light I bought for this room
19. Remember why there is a sweater in the vent...
20. Patch sand the walls and paint
21. Decide what to do with that parquet
22. Make the bed
(I have since made the bed...and decided as it is 2:30pm, to get dressed too)
23. Do the laundry!
24. This is yellow...but now my room has purple...slipcover???
25. Dust the blinds - annoying but doesn't take long
26. Organize this - it keeps getting messy so I need a new organization solution!
27. And this too!
28. Oh yes, and go through all these dresses and see which ones I will possibly wear again, and donate the rest
29. Organize the hall closet again - just needs a bit of tidying really!
30 Gallery wall down the stairs with family and friend pictures
31. Get a new light for the hallway
32. Touch-ups on the stairs
33. Put away coats and accessories that aren't in every day use
34. New shoe storage for winter
35. New runner for winter - it's going to be a snowy one!
36. New light for the downstairs hallway
37. Prime the oil trim and re-paint in latex (the oil yellows)
38. Update the sideboard decor
39. Take some pictures of the house with my new tripod!
40. And with my new 50mm lens!
41. Matt really loves this light and I don't...perhaps painting it a silver colour would make me like it more...
42. Figure out how to hide the wire to the TV
43. Should I mount these speakers to the wall?
44. Read these.
(Notice my inhaler from my lingering bronchitis? Also watching Disney movies while making exams, and of course, drinking tea (placed on pretty coasters from Hope from Anthropologie)!
45. Sand and stain the TV unit
46. Fill these frames with black and white travel pictures
47. This vase looks lonely...what to do?
48. Ooooooh Matt left me some money (change goes in the car for Tim Hortons, Starbucks, etc) - oh right - ummm...put money in car.
49. Oil the cutting board and seal it again
50. We got rid of the spice rack so now I need an organization solution for the ones we keep out
51. Buy milk (used the last of it in my tea)
52. Regrout tiles (can you just re-grout them or do you have to un-grout them first? I want to change the colour)
53. Paint the kitchen
54. Do something fun with the chalkboard (and wash it again because obviously Matt's washing job was not great)
56. Make a shelf in the kitchen for all the cookbooks
57. Sorry Jessica, but the lavender is now just making a mess...must be tossed
58. Decide whether that de-zested orange is still good...
59. What do do with the tops of the shelves - can I put things up there?
60. Get a new kitchen light (do I still want a fan?)
61. Pull random plugs out of wall
62. Fix weird bulge in wall
63. This clock does not keep time...how to fix?
64. This shelf needs to be dusted
65. Perhaps put away last week's laundry before I do this weeks...
66. Find a space for the new shop-vac (yay my Dyson vacuum will not be subjected to giant wood pieces anymore)
67. Organize my shelves...the chemistry shelf is combusting...
68. Another chalkboard to do fun things to!
69. Play the piano more - need to go over the Act 2 songs for Joseph!!!
70. Use my desk for its intended purpose...work (hmmm, I should really start making my 12 C chem exam...)
71. Get more ink for the printer
Basement Storage Hallway
72. Storage for the miter saw...preferably still in the basement
73. Organize the wrapping container
74. Organize this pile of old magazines and keepsakes
75. Donate some of the furniture (anyone want a brown microfibre headboard?)
76. Take back the empties
77. Organize this kitchen storage cupboard
78. See if I still wear any of these coats and donate those that I do not
79. Learn to golf (will you teach me Uncle John?)
80. Ooooh go on a picnic (bottom shelf is a picnic kit Matt got for working at his job for 5 years)
81. Yeah....paint organization...that's going to be a big one...
82. Rip out that medicine cabinet
83. Rip out that toothbrush holder
84. Get a new light fixture
85. Paint the bathroom
Laundry & Tool Room
86. See that little orange light on the dryer? Well that means there is something in it. No clue what, but it's been in there for a week. Figure that one out and put the stuff away. Or rewash it.
87. Wash the Christmas placemats and napkins.
88. Wash and store the drop sheets and work clothes
89. HHW disposal...and I teach workplace safety?
90. Wash/throw away rags from stripping and staining and painting
91. Random wood. Does it stay or go? Does it stay HERE or go?
92. Look above when dusting...
93. Organize tool drawers
94. Attempt to clean shoes
95. Store towels
96. Find a better place for Matt's Queen's stuff
97. Our air conditioner needs more freon - call Direct Energy
98. Is the cover on the AC unit?
Come on? 98? Couldn't be an even 100? Hmmm...what are two more things I can think of?
99. As sson as the snow goes away, start weeding and tidying garden (do not wait until the weeds take over in May)
100. Enjoy the house - love the decor I have, and the paint, and even the mess - as Ikea says "long live the home."
Since Matt has a huge hand in our home projects, I thought I would give him a voice (whether he wanted one or not) to talk about our house and life in general. I did this as an interview, as there is no way he would just ramble on the way I do about stuff. So one New Year's Eve day while he watched a hockey game, I asked him questions on commercials and intermissions about our home.
Matt last June
1. How do you feel about being interviewed for the blog? Be honest.
Ummmm, it’s not how I intended to spend my morning (he’s watching the world junior game versus Russia). You have 20 minutes for intermission time.
2. What was the first home project you remember? Doesn’t have to be for our house. *Reminder that my husband has a bad memory so this may not actually be the first one*
I did the bunkie at the cottage when I graduated university.
What did you do?
That one was pretty easy – everything was pre-bought – the carpet was torn out of another room, the plumbing was done, and the fixtures for the bathroom were already bought, so for that was mostly just tearing out an old laminate floor, putting down a new subfloor (I didn’t know you did that much), painting – painted over the wood panel walls, tore out the wood covered doors, and replaced the trim. Painted all the windows (old fashioned window panes – ranch style), and then it was all the finishes – put in the padding and the carpet, put in new baseboards, new light fixtures, and blinds.
How did you know how to do all that?
Ummmmmmm….most of it was just instructions, my dad told me what he wanted done and I went and did it.
Yeah but how did you tear it out without damaging?
Ohhh I damaged a lot. The floor needed to be chiselled out, and it was rotted so I had to replace some of the subfloor. There’s probably a bit still there…but it’s all finished over…so you can’t tell, haha.
Any more recent projects in your own place?
Trying to hang a shelf in my first condo. Unlike the bunkie, I had access to very little in the way of tools and had no idea the difference between drilling into drywall versus the concrete fire walls in a condo. So I started by using the drill that I had (probably from 1960 given to me by my dad and shocked you every 30 seconds or so), but it only made it about a ¼ inch through the plaster before it stopped and started smoking. So my first idea was trying to hang it with short screws into the plaster, and after the shelf fell down once I learned you can buy special drill bits and screws that go into concrete. Problem solved!
Bunkie on the outside
Bunkie on the inside from the bed- the only picture I have of the inside when I was trying to take pictures with my phone for the first time last summer...it didn't turn out so well.
3. You moved around a lot as a kid, and your mom is very crafty and your dad is pretty handy too – do you think you get all this home project desire from them?
Maybe, my dad was a lot like me in that he has no real experience in any of this, just figured it out as he went. He did work a few odd jobs in landscaping and contracting stuff when he was in high school, so probably knew more than I do. He’s also a better electrician because my grandfather was one.
So what do you get from your mom?
I believe the phrase “queer eye” comes up. I think just a sense of style, and knowing what I like in a house.
4. We lived in a condo before we bought our first house – did you know that you wanted to buy a fixer-upper then?
I think this place is pretty live-in ready – we just had to do little things. Remember that one place on Coxwell I wanted? That one was detached, triplex, that could have easily been opened up but would have required some professionals to remove 2 of the 3 kitchens and the place needed a complete gut from top to bottom.
And the basement was scary.
Then there was that other place that had the cheap kitchen reno.
The one that smelled like mothballs?
But it had a lot of potential – it was pretty big for a semi, but needed a lot of work.
Our first condo together
5. What made you want to buy our current house?
The more we thought about it, the idea of a COMPLETE reno seemed a bit daunting, so we wanted something not necessarily finished, but liveable. This one had a finished bathroom, the kitchen worked (although tiny). It had a lot of character – the original wood floors, the beautiful backyard, and it was a good size (3 bedrooms, in the city, finished basement).
Our current house on the left way back in November 2010
6. What are some challenges with working in an older home (90 years this year!)
Lath and plaster walls – it pre-dates drywall – it’s hard to drill into and secure things too. You have to be careful not to crack them – one crack and there goes a big chunk of your wall. Almost every fastener at Home Depot is for drywall, so you have to get special hollow wall plugs that aren’t exactly easy to work with.
Nothing is square. It looks it, but there are no 90 degree angles anywhere – either on the floor or the walls or anything.
So what do you do?
Most cuts are trial and error with wood – to get the right fit. Filler and shims to fill gaps - you just have to work with it.
Troubles with lath and plaster walls...
7. We’ve done a lot of projects over the past few years – which one was your favourite and why?
I think the guest bedroom.
Yeah, getting that rounded moulding around the corner was a lot of work and I like the way it turned out.
I also like stair guard, because it was the most structural work I’ve ever done. It went from a rickety not-to-code post to a strong solid rail. (Pause) Oh wait, I forgot about the side board (in the dining room). I really like the way that turned out.
Do you want to develop on that at all?
Oh, well, even though most of it was from Ikea, finding a good solid piece of wood that big, and staining it and polishing it to what it looks like now really makes the room come together – it looks good. Wiring the light into the staircase was good – I don’t know about electrical work, and it hasn’t burnt down the house yet, so it’s pretty good.
Curved chair rail on the left
Stair guard project
Wiring this little light to turn on with the regular basement lighting
8. Which project drove you crazy the most and why?
Stripping the stairs was a terrible task. It was monotonous, physically exhausting, and very dirty. Plus, after about an hour of those fumes you developed a pretty bad headache. (Pause) The shelving unit in the basement made out of plywood was pretty difficult – it had to be built into a wall where nothing was square, so every cut was custom, and made it very difficult. In hindsight, I would have purchased a unit that was close to the size, and made it look like it was built into the wall. Live and learn. But we did do it for a quarter of the cost if we had bought one, so there was one benefit to it!
Refinishing the stairs
Working on the office shelving unit
9. There are never any pictures of me doing things. Can you please explain how I contribute to home renos around here?
You…..ummmmmm….what do you do? You paint. Because I hate it. You are generally the chief designer….and you’re also the, haha, chief photographer and documentarian, hence you are always behind the camera and not in front of it. Documentarian’s a word right?
I don’t know. You’re generally opposed to anything Ikea or anything that involves an allen key. Seems to get the better of you.
I helped with the Pax wardrobe.
You did, you assembled two drawers, one of which was backwards, so you had to do that again.
I’m trying to think of other things I did.
You’re a level when I’m trying to hold things – like hanging a painting or mirror.
So you don’t really need me?
No, I need you. (Pause) Yeah you do a lot of the painting. I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a power tool.
I stripped the first stairs.
You did – you stripped the first four stairs. You came up with this wall thing (points).
That would be called a gallery wall.
Yes, that thing. You’ve selected all the paints and painted most of the rooms.
I did the entire basement without you at all.
How would you want me to help in the house?
That’s a good question. I actually prefer doing a lot of these things. Because I typically learn by doing, it’s hard to give instructions. I’m also…selfish, and I don’t like giving up control on projects.
That’s funny, most people would say that about me.
The little evidence I have of me doing work...
10. What are some projects that you are looking forward to for 2013 (short-term)?
What’s on the list?
No, I have my own post for that. What do you want to do?
This summer I want to build a big table and bench for the backyard to custom fit the deck. I’ll purchase chairs – I won’t try to build those, haha. With my new compound mitre saw!!! And a big chunk of cedar.
Anything in the house you want done?
I want to sand down the floors in the middle (unmentionable name - *cough* - baby) room.
Well right now it is a construction area and it needs to be well cleaned up. I may have also put a hole in wall when I was doing the railing.
Yeah…there’s a hole. When the saw piece broke it shot a piece of wood next to the dresser right into the wall. A perfect little square. Haha.
It’s also parquet flooring.
Yeah, but I still think I can strip/sand it down. Rent a big floor sander for that. Make it a lighter colour to match the floors. Won’t change the floor completely. I still don’t know why it’s parquet though. So do you think it’s worth redoing it with hardwood?
I’m more worried about how it will be to pull out the parquet.
It’s glued down – you’ll have to chisel it down piece by piece.
Something to think about.
Current backyard furniture
The "baby" room
11. What are some longer-term projects you want to tackle?
I think we eventually want to do the kitchen. Knock out the wall between the living room and kitchen to open it up a bit.
My mom’s worried that we’re going to put a lot of money and time into the kitchen and then move.
That’s something to consider, although they say that the kitchen is the place where you get your money back on the investment, if we do sell. You always have to consider in any project if you’re doing it for yourself or for resale. I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to pack up and leave in the next year or so.
Yes, but we won’t get around in the kitchen in the next year either. Any other projects?
There’s talk about expanding the bathroom downstairs and refinishing the wood floors throughout the house.
How long do you think we’ll be in this house before you get the itch to move again and start all over?
I don’t know, haha. It’s hard to put a date on that. 5 years maybe? 10?
Well you’d be surprised at how quickly 5 years will go by!
Current tiny kitchen
Basement bathroom (well before we moved in)
12. What things would you be looking for in our next house that you may not have considered in this one?
A bigger kitchen for sure – this one is quite small. Less creaky floors? One of the things I love about this house is the character of the old floors, but one thing I hate is how creaky they are. I don’t think there’s a way to fix that, though, without tearing them up.
I can think of a million things I would change.
Really? I don’t know. A fireplace – preferably wood, but gas would be okay too.
I want a mantle – so many décor magazines decorate mantles.
Does the fireplace matter at all?
I can put in a mantle for you if you really want.
What about detached?
Ummm, I don’t mind the semi-detached because we’ve always had quiet neighbours. But detached would be better for more natural light in the house.
Agreed. Would you consider getting a house that needs more work next time?
You mean, like, gut the main floor?
I don’t know.
I don’t know if I’d want to do something with more work, I think we would need help – hire someone to tear out walls and major structural stuff requiring a contractor.
You don’t think you could tear a wall out on your own?
I think I could tear out a wall on my own, I don’t know if I could put back a wall on my own. There’s very little room for trial and error – it’s not something you want to get wrong.
My brother has a mantle...
13. So you also have a pretty good eye for décor. How does it make you feel when I call you Martha Stewart?
Laughs. I think I get a little smug satisfaction because I know you’re just saying it because you’re jealous.
Why am I jealous?
You wish you had the same eye.
Matt painted that...
14. You’re also a really good cook – what’s your favourite thing to make?
I really like doing pulled pork or slow-cooked lamb. The dutch oven makes cooking easy and delicious. Add beer/wine/some sort of alcoholic beverage to meat, and cook for hours.
What’s for dinner tonight (New Year’s Eve)?
It will be a beer-braised duck, pulled, served over homemade duck-fat fries with cheese. A pulled-duck poutine if you will. Not exactly healthy, but New Year’s Resolutions start tomorrow.
We’re having salad too.
Although the salad contains goat cheese – pomegranate and apple and goat cheese baby arugula salad.
Frozen chocolate mousse trifle.
Which I made.
There you go.
Lamb + veggies + wine = awesome
15. Are you sick of answering questions yet?
I was sick about 20 minutes ago.
16. How do you feel about the blog? About being on the blog?
It’s always weird when friends and family are so familiar with stuff I’ve done around the house, even if I haven’t talked to them in months.
How do you feel about me writing a blog?
It’s kind of like your diary – I don’t have a problem with you writing it, but publishing it is odd.
I don’t put anything too personal on it.
No you don’t. I find the whole blogging, facebook, and everything else - the whole concept, way too much information about people.
17. Do you love me?
Of course. Always.
I have to quantify this? Like on a scale from 1-10? I feel it's unquantifiable.
18. Anything else you want to say to our 10 readers out there (9 of them being my family)?
Laughs. Whose the 1 who’s not your family? Some lonely guy in Russia?
My coworker, Mike. Tell him you’re not a slave in your own house.
Can I go back to watching the hockey game now?
I just looked back at the "House Projects of 2011" post I did last December, and WOW - we did a lot last year. We had moved in mid-February and did the living room, dining room, master bedroom, basement office, and some outdoor gardening. This year I thought about what we did, and most of it was done in the past few months. I asked Matt "why did we do so little this year?", and he replied "remember that whole 4.5 months when I lived in Vancouver?" - ohhhhhh yes. Now I remember. He came back mid-May and then we were really busy travelling around - a week in Dominican for my brother's wedding, 5 days in Vancouver, and 4 days in NYC. We weren't home for an extended period of time so do any projects until the fall. So what DID we do?
Before - Summer 2011
After - Summer 2012
And the backyard last summer is pretty good too!
Before - sea foam green walls
After - Benjamin Moore Brown Horse
Still needs something on the walls
Before - beige walls
After - Benjamin Moore Gray Owl with White Dove trim
(Painted courtesy of my dad!)
Before - Benjamin Moore Cloud White
After - Benjamin Moore Sea Haze with White Dove trim
Really need some non-Christmas pictures!
The few scary nights of no stair guard
The reconstructed finished product!
Can't believe how bright the stairway looks now!
6. New Furniture & Decor
New dining room table from West Elm
New sofa from West Elm
New bedding and some purple in the bedroom
I don't think I posted this - there is now also a new purple sunset throw at the end of the bed I got at Christmas!
What We Didn't Do? (based on this post from last year)
- Gallery Wall Up the Stairs (although we did just do one in the living room)
- Backyard Entertaining Space (I guess you would have to be around to do work in the summer!)
- Lighting (still need lights for both the upstairs and downstairs hallway, living room (standing, table, overhead)
- Refinish the TV unit (although we did add a back to it a few weeks ago)
**More on 2013 projects coming up this week!**